MeFi harassment policy? July 7, 2013 4:54 PM   Subscribe

After reading recent posts on sexual harassment on MetaFilter and elsewhere, and the positive effect of sexual harassment policies at conventions, I wondered whether MetaFilter ought to have a sexual harassment policy to apply to IRL events. I'm not sure what such a policy would look like, but I wanted to see whether there was any agreement on the desirability of such a policy to start with. There are problematic aspects of trying to regulate off-site activity, but I think that not having any way to deal with harassment is even more problematic.
posted by grouse to Etiquette/Policy at 4:54 PM (402 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

Right now I see IRL events as "MeFi related" rather than "MeFi controlled" even though they are arranged through the site.
posted by ODiV at 5:05 PM on July 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think this is a worthwhile discussion to have. Since we as the Metafilter staff have no oversight or control over IRL events, I don't think we're going to be able to adopt a centrally enforceable overall policy, but one idea to shoot for is a general policy that individual meetups could adopt (and adapt, as they saw fit), so everyone at a given meetup knows what the expectations are. It would certainly be possibly to put something like that in the FAQ or on the Wiki for convenient linking, and concievably in the IRL event creation form itself as an option.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 5:05 PM on July 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Right now I see IRL events as "MeFi related" rather than "MeFi controlled" even though they are arranged through the site.

As grouse acknowledged, there are tricky issues involved in regulating off-site activity but I think it's worthwhile to have a discussion about standards for acceptable behavior at IRL events.
posted by lalex at 5:09 PM on July 7, 2013


Have there been any complaints of sexual harassment at meetups?
posted by klangklangston at 5:11 PM on July 7, 2013 [8 favorites]


But to whom would someone hypothetically make a complaint, currently? If someone was creepy to me at a meetup I don't think it would occur to me to email a mod about it.
posted by elizardbits at 5:15 PM on July 7, 2013 [14 favorites]


Exactly. The issue isn't whether or not there have been any complaints as of yet (a policy could be good even in the absence of such complaints) but that there is no controlling authority. These are not Metafilter events, they are a bunch of people getting together who know each-other through Metafilter.
posted by Justinian at 5:17 PM on July 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Historically, I believe so. Nothing that springs to mind since I started here, though - everything I can think of is secondhand. As elizardbits says, I'm sure we see very few complaints in general about IRL events because everyone understands that we don't have anything to do with them other than hosting the planning discussion.

I strongly suspect there have been incidents we haven't heard of, because that's just the ways stuff works - doubly since we're not in an even hypothetical enforcement loop.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 5:17 PM on July 7, 2013


To the extent that harassment (of all kinds) can't even be stopped here, it's difficult to see how that would happen off-site, even if the goal is a noble one.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:17 PM on July 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Also, these events are taking place in public areas like bars, restaurants, parks, whatever. Members of the public who are not mefites are just as likely, if not way more so, to engage in creeper/harasser behaviors. We can't exactly police them in any official way, obviously.
posted by elizardbits at 5:20 PM on July 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is tricky because a meetup is a social event. It's not like a workplace where harassment is clearly definable. The only real rule you can make is "don't be an asshole" and "tell people when they are upsetting you", and then hope that those things happen. You're not going to have a third party intervene to make it impersonal like you would in a workspace.

I mean I'm not against it, but how does it play out?
posted by windykites at 5:20 PM on July 7, 2013 [6 favorites]


I wondered whether MetaFilter ought to have a sexual harassment policy to apply to IRL events.

Not really, no. As much as I am interested in this idea in a general sense, we really have to stick to regulating things where we can actually ... regulate things. That is we have a harassment policy as it applies to MeMail, we have a few other policies as they apply to people misusing people's real life info that they would only have access to via their MeFi account, but we have very few options for sanctioning people's behavior in person and I don't think we realistically can.

If we think there is someone who is using their access to MeFi and IRL for the purpose of meeting MeFites and engaging in harassing behavior, we would definitely consider some interaction with that person to see why they were interacting with MetaFilter, but other than that, this isn't really an area that we can police other than with the general "Don't be an asshole or else people will not want to hang out with you" idea. If people want to talk out specifics, that's totally great, I just don't think they're going to get to the point where there will be sanctions for "bad" behavior at a moderation level.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:24 PM on July 7, 2013 [19 favorites]


A few New Orleans meetups have ended up at strip clubs. I'm just saying.
posted by ColdChef at 5:25 PM on July 7, 2013 [9 favorites]


I would support someone who publicly posted in the IRL thread that person X did either YZ specific behavior or just simply "Person X sexually harassed me."

I think the public knowledge of the issue would be the best result. It's not exactly official but it seems like the natural way for the community to have accountability to itself.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 5:26 PM on July 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


It may not be strictly enforceable, inasmuch as there's nobody really in charge of most IRL events (at least those in public places), but I think a policy (not necessarily one invariant policy for all IRL events, but, as r_n suggests, a policy for a particular meetup announced in advance) can still be valuable as far as a) setting expectations among the group, and b) emboldening third parties who witness harassing behavior to express their disapproval and pressure the harasser to stop.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 5:28 PM on July 7, 2013 [5 favorites]


I don't think anyone's expecting the mods to bring the banhammer down if anyone complains about harassment or creepy behavior.

I do think some type of statement of standards might (a) help establish appropriate expectations and (b) allow MeFites to feel more confident about calling out and putting a stop to inappropriate behavior, knowing that they are supported by community standards.
posted by lalex at 5:28 PM on July 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


On non-preview, pretty much exactly what DevilsAdvocate said.
posted by lalex at 5:29 PM on July 7, 2013


Well, let's game it out. Let's say Mefite X sets up a meetup, and says "here are the standards for behavior I expect at my meetup, and here's what happens if you don't meet them."

1. What do you think are reasonable standards for a generic, in-public meetup? What would make you feel safe hanging out with a bunch of internet strangers?

2. What do you think are reasonable consequences? How do you see enforcement of those consequences working? (Note that enforcement of behavior that doesn't occur on Metafilter is pretty much impossible, as Jessamyn says.)

I think it's a good thing to think about, especially for the established meetups. Do you have "missing stair" situations? Have you thought about what you, personally, would do if someone did something over the line at a meetup? Do you feel able to tell people they're not welcome, or do you feel like you have to just passive-aggressive your way around a bad situation?

My position as a mod is in line with Jessamyn's. But I'm also a meetup-goer, and I think voluntary per-meetup policies are worth exploring.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 5:30 PM on July 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think it could be valuable even if there were no definitive consequences. Just stating that "here's how we treat people, and here's why" might help the clueless, insensitive, and/or inattentive.

There have been studies showing that "values reminders" (not specifying consequences, just priming people with the idea that explicit values exist) can significantly curb unethical behavior.
posted by amtho at 5:39 PM on July 7, 2013 [11 favorites]


I like that, amtho: more a Statement of Expectations than a list of consequences. As a rule, I would not support naming specific offenders online: if their behavior was that bad, then the IRL police and legal system should be called to take care of it.
posted by easily confused at 5:53 PM on July 7, 2013 [6 favorites]


I can get behind the idea of a "values reminders"/"Statement of Expectations, maybe linked somewhere prominently somewhere on IRL. From my experience at meetups, Mefites on the whole tend to behave themselves quite well, so I would imagine it would be pretty easy to write- list out all the things most everyone is already doing most of the time.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:55 PM on July 7, 2013


I like to think that we wouldn't need a set of guidelines, but honestly, people can be weird. It might be useful to have something that explains expectations (that meetups should be considered a 'safe' place for members to feel comfortable, and that behavior that infringes on that should be considered unwelcome) for IRL events.

Without getting too deep into the language of it, I'd be in favor of simple guidelines like:

Don't be an ass.

Don't make people uncomfortable.

Don't, through your actions or inactions, make members regret having come to the meetup.

Other people might have different ideas* but as for rules, or enforcement, as Jessamyn said, it's not really in their realm of control. It would be nice, though, if there was a shared expectation that IRL events were supposed to be welcoming to all, and safe and comfortable for those attending.

*Like, for example, "Don't forget to buy Ghidorah a beer." That'd be a good rule.
posted by Ghidorah at 6:07 PM on July 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


Some people genuinely grow up without knowing how to be considerate. It's not as simple as "don't" do "obvious" things. I think that a genuine, thoughtful, group effort to come up with some good guidelines for people could be a huge boon.

I was in my 20s before I understood that, in American society, looking at someone without speaking or smiling could be interpreted as hostile. I'm pretty sure I don't have mental deficits to explain this, just a lack of normal social interaction. I was a geek.

Harassment is even more complex than this. People come from different cultures, have different levels of comfort with the opposite sex, etc.

Also, it might be worth prefacing any kind of statement like this with a statement of compassion for the clueless, i.e., we know you're not a bad person, but we must insist that some behaviors are harmful to other individuals and to the group, and so we have these guidelines. If you cross them, people will probably be mad at you.

Something like that.
posted by amtho at 6:13 PM on July 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


Just to put in my two cents, I think if the first time I'd looked into going to a meetup the first thing I saw on the page was "Please come to our event. As a friendly reminder, please keep your hands where I can see 'em and remember not to touch boobs that don't belong to you," I would have been creeped right the fuck out and would probably never have gone to one.

Yes, there world is full of creepshows. I don't dispute the science which suggests that values reminders can curb anti-social behavior. But pretty much every list of Dos and Don'ts was inspired by assholes who failed in the first or indulged in the second. Any group which starts off by warning potential inductees not to be creeoy comes off like a group that attracts tons of creeps. To me it suggests a kind of breech of good faith, a degree of mistrust of potential members that I would find repellant.

I mean, I think people's hearts are in the right place here, and maybe if you made it sufficiently anodyne it wouldn't have this effect, but I don't think it'd help and I do think it'd hurt.
posted by Diablevert at 6:14 PM on July 7, 2013 [49 favorites]


This seems like a place where the wiki could be useful. Maybe crossed with AskMe, where people have given good answers about this type of thing.
posted by zennie at 6:15 PM on July 7, 2013


Does Metafilter really need to have a literal policy? In everything else, the moderators evaluate case by case and are very suspicious of firm rules. Firm rules lead to rule-lawyering and hair-splitting. Maybe let's trust the moderators to keep everyone's best interests in mind without saddling the site with unenforceable policies.
posted by Nomyte at 6:21 PM on July 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


I would be distinctly not in favour of any kind of "calling out" of IRL behaviour on metafilter, I feel like that would inevitably up the drama quotient of metafilter x100 and we don't need that kind of shitshow. But I think maybe memailing the people who were in attendance might be a good idea, if there was an issue, to sort of talk it out. Some people might benefit from a "hey, this happened, I felt not cool about it. Let's resolve this". If it comes up.
posted by windykites at 6:29 PM on July 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


I don't think it's a good idea for the Metafilter community AS A WHOLE to try to police the behavior of members off-site. Even a draft policy would implicitly put the mods in the middle of a conflict, even if it happened on the other side of the planet. The last thing we want is to feel like jessamyn has to fly out to DC to take statements after a bad event.

This is something better handled at the city level, if it's going to be handled. Let folks in Brooklyn decide how to deal with their one creepy guy, and folks in LA will do the same with their troublesome folks.

This is basically the idea behind having conference conveners be in charge of policing sexual harassment; it's their name on the contract with the hotel, they're on the ground and can investigate directly. This is sometimes called the principle of subsidiarity.
posted by anotherpanacea at 6:29 PM on July 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


The mods have nothing to do with evaluating harassment at a meetup. And I doubt very much they want that responsibility.
posted by Justinian at 6:30 PM on July 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't think it'd help and I do think it'd hurt.

From my observations of the slow-rolling juggernaut of convention harassment pushback over the last few years, this isn't true. Explicit guidelines do seem to make it more likely that harassment is reported and dealt with, rather than shoved under the rug. I think there are better and worse ways to present them, but I can't agree that they're a net bad thing. Not having them has very well-documented negative effects, that's for sure.

If I were writing a policy, here are a few things I'd put in:

- Touch requires explicit consent. This includes social hugging and shaking hands - you can always say no if you don't want to touch someone.

- Use whatever handle you're comfortable with; real names are optional. Publishing real-life info on the internet or tagging photos with real names requires consent.

- No means no. That includes things like having another drink, giving out contact information, or sharing rides to/from the event. This also includes having explicitly sexual conversations.

- No hate speech, whether about age, race, gender (including gender presentation/identity,) sexuality, or nationality. If someone tells you to knock it off, knock it the fuck off.

And I'd include a section on how to be a good bystander - I feel like I've seen a good one in the past week, but I'd have to go digging.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 6:30 PM on July 7, 2013 [28 favorites]


I'd be in favor of the option of there being consequences here for how people treat each other IRL.

Imagine you were harassed, and had to see that guy popping up on threads on the blue. Would you want to keep reading metafilter?

In extreme cases, somebody is going to be leaving our community. I'd rather it be a harrasser getting banned than a harrassed person walking away.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 6:35 PM on July 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


To me this is kind of like establishing a sexual harassment policy for parties one hosts at one's house. Doesn't make sense to me.

Some things need to just be dealt with as they come up, without an explicit policy.
posted by Unified Theory at 6:39 PM on July 7, 2013 [9 favorites]


Everyone needs a hug, which requires explicit consent.
posted by ColdChef at 6:41 PM on July 7, 2013 [78 favorites]


I am actually terrible at remembering that, because hugs make *me* sort of nervous most of the time, so I do the little hesitant "are we going to hug" shrug thing and then it's super awkward and later I kick myself, thinking "I should have just said 'are we hugging?' That's so much easier!"

I did have an acquaintance, years ago, who was a terrible creeper and tried to hug people she was creeping on all the time, real slow. I figured out pretty quick that I wasn't down for that, and made it clear that she was No Longer Eligible For Hugs.

...So she switched to creepy handshakes. I did not think handshakes could be creepy, but she pulled it off. Eventually, after I'd just left her with her hand out a few times, she left me alone. And probably creeped on some other babydyke. Wish I'd figured out a way to get her to stop in general, instead of just moving on to softer targets.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 6:45 PM on July 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


A few New Orleans meetups have ended up at strip clubs. I'm just saying.

And here in NYC, a lot of hookups and relationships have both been spawned by meetups. Just Saying.
posted by jonmc at 6:46 PM on July 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think it's fairly safe to say that meetups tend to vary wildly by region and that "appropriate" behavior may be equally varied.

"Be nice or leave" is a good rule. I've been to a lot of meetups and they tend to control themselves.
posted by ColdChef at 6:54 PM on July 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


Anti-harassment policies are just a permission-to-play boilerplate thing at this point. Having one doesn't change much except increase the self-consciousness level, but an absence is increasingly notable and means a lot to people who believe such policies have power and are meaningful signals of event quality.
posted by michaelh at 6:58 PM on July 7, 2013


And here in NYC, a lot of hookups and relationships have both been spawned by meetups. Just Saying.

None of my suggestions would interfere with either that or the strip club idea. Just... y'know, sayin'.

I think it's fairly safe to say that meetups tend to vary wildly by region and that "appropriate" behavior may be equally varied.

Totally. I'm coming at it from the angle I am because I've heard a lot of people, over the last few years, express nervousness at the idea of "creeping" because they're not confident that they won't be accidentally pegged as a creeper. So I'm inclined to make some things explicit that wouldn't likely need to be. I'm also in general favor of reiterating the idea that you can say no to things that make you uncomfortable, and that saying no should be the last word on the issue. "Don't be an asshole" harassment policies are totally fine, and probably better as actual policies, but it's a good idea to think about what "being an asshole" actually means. If it were clear-cut, we wouldn't need MetaTalk at all.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 6:59 PM on July 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


I've heard a lot of people, over the last few years, express nervousness at the idea of "creeping" because they're not confident that they won't be accidentally pegged as a creeper.

I can see this. I tend to be a silly drunk and I sometimes get pretty flirty when I do. I'd like someone to be able to express to me-without hesitation-that I was making them uncomfortable (which I have no doubt would straighten me right up). I'd just hate to come into a thread the next day to find someone slagging me publicly for boorish behavior that was never pointed out to me and then never apologized for.
posted by ColdChef at 7:07 PM on July 7, 2013 [6 favorites]


Then our goals are the same!

I am also not in favor of taking grievances to a public forum first. No one *has* to confront someone, or report the behavior - if you don't feel safe doing anything but shutting up and/or leaving, do what you need to - but a public forum is not, in my personal and also official opinion, the best first step.

Which is why having a policy with a reporting procedure is a good thing for *everybody*.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 7:12 PM on July 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


I can see this. I tend to be a silly drunk and I sometimes get pretty flirty when I do.

I think the simplest solution is to prohibit alcohol at IRL events.
posted by Nomyte at 7:13 PM on July 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


From my observations of the slow-rolling juggernaut of convention harassment pushback over the last few years

But conventions are a different animal from meetups, no? There is authority. Conventions have staff, and that staff is operating under a contract with the venue. At a meetup, nobody is acting as staff, and meetup groups don't derive authority from the bar or restaurant where they're meeting. So to the extent there's any authority at a meetup, it's completely independent from the meetup: it rests with the venue's management, which may or may not have its own harassment policy that would presumably supersede anything drafted unofficially via MetaFilter IRL.

If you're just thinking about social guidelines, something like, "Here are some good rules of thumb to keep in mind at meetups," that may have value. But concepts like reporting, and incidents being dealt with versus swept under the rug, assume some element of authority. How would that work in the context of a meetup?
posted by cribcage at 7:13 PM on July 7, 2013 [8 favorites]


I think the simplest solution is to prohibit alcohol at IRL events.

I'm going to assume this is sarcasm.
posted by ColdChef at 7:15 PM on July 7, 2013 [18 favorites]


Nomyte: "I can see this. I tend to be a silly drunk and I sometimes get pretty flirty when I do.

I think the simplest solution is to prohibit alcohol at IRL events.
"

Good plan! When attendance is zero, there's no risk of harassment!
posted by barnacles at 7:15 PM on July 7, 2013 [24 favorites]


I think some general guidelines (possibly on the wiki) could be helpful and useful, but a policy in the absence of actual enforcement by an authority is the height of pointlessness.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 7:25 PM on July 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


A few New Orleans meetups have ended up at strip clubs. I'm just saying.

And here in NYC, a lot of hookups and relationships have both been spawned by meetups. Just Saying.


I feel like this may be becoming an arms race.

("In LA, we all strap on gravity boots and hang from the ceiling like Michael Keaton Batman. I'm... not sure if that's a sex thing. On reflection, I guess I never asked. Huh.")
posted by running order squabble fest at 7:40 PM on July 7, 2013 [20 favorites]


In Sheboygan everyone dresses up like Popeye and steals spinach from produce stands.
posted by jonmc at 7:43 PM on July 7, 2013 [6 favorites]


Yeah. Sorry for the derail. I was (clumsily) trying to point out that it would be hard to create a policy that would apply to all meetups.
posted by ColdChef at 7:43 PM on July 7, 2013


What if it were called "etiquette" (or a better word, but less punishment-oriented) instead of "policy"? And what if, instead of focusing solely on allowed/unallowed behavior, it talked substantially about intent, and how to make that clear behaviorally?
posted by amtho at 8:02 PM on July 7, 2013 [5 favorites]


There are problematic aspects of trying to regulate off-site activity, but I think that not having any way to deal with harassment is even more problematic.

Super curious about what you mean here. How is the harassment one might encounter from a MeFite at a meetup different from the harassment one might encounter from any other random person in a public space? What do you mean by "deal with harassment?" The convention harassment policies I just looked up basically say that if their policies are violated, then the violators will be asked to leave, not given refunds, etc. How would this work at Local Bar Trivia Night?
posted by Wordwoman at 8:03 PM on July 7, 2013 [8 favorites]


Cribcage's point is important. Someone is in charge of conventions; there are responsible parties who can be named in a suit, for instance.Meetups are grassroots, a headless beast. There is no party to hold responsible to anything, other than the individual harasser him- or herself. Which brings me to

- Use whatever handle you're comfortable with; real names are optional. Publishing real-life info on the internet or tagging photos with real names requires consent.

If someone is inappropriate in a bar or other meetup venue then there is recourse to the venue owner and to law, and that would necessarily end up touching on real names. "Use whatever handle you're comfortable with" should not constitute a protective veil.

I am also not sure there is any way to make this enforceable - if I am in a place of public accommodation, it's legal to take my picture and name me in it. I may be able to object to the posting of that picture on various and sundry internet sites, or object to my "outing," but I don't think there's firm legal ground for treating identity as private information because there is no reasonable expectation of privacy in public settings. Which is different from conventions which (ostensibly) control access and therefore might arguably meet the conditions of private places as far as the law is concerned.

I am firmly in the "recommendations, not policy" camp. Rules of thumb for how to behave at meetups and not make people uncomfortable? Great, that could be useful. A policy on harassment? Other than "MetaFilter Inc. does not take responsibility for events that take place when members meet up," I can't imagine a need for one. However, there might well be a need for that one, because of what happened with Craigslist adult personals and the like.
posted by Miko at 8:12 PM on July 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


"In LA, we all strap on gravity boots and hang from the ceiling like Michael Keaton Batman. I'm... not sure if that's a sex thing. On reflection, I guess I never asked. Huh."

Nah man, we just get fucked up and play foursquare and talk about… well, anything but MetaFilter, generally. I hear once upon a time, Jessamyn swept a whole congregation to Jumbo's, but we're more likely to have a homemade ice cream swap.
posted by klangklangston at 8:15 PM on July 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


A few New Orleans meetups have ended up at strip clubs. I'm just saying.

On the other hand, a strip club was suggested for my "Sara C. Moves to Los Angeles" meetup. When I said I wasn't super comfortable with that, an alternate venue was proposed. Ultimately the meetup took place somewhere that everyone agreed on, and I didn't feel harassed that the creepy clown strip joint was proposed despite my fear of clowns and uneasiness with strip clubs.

I kind of feel like most IRL events are either organized by consensus or free to attend or not as each person wishes. So I don't think "hosted event at strip club" is harassment in the same way that it would be for a mandatory workplace event. I mean, I'm not going to get fired from Metafilter for not attending a meetup.
posted by Sara C. at 8:18 PM on July 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


" My dear, he isn't received." Maybe there could be a Social Register that lists the right people.
posted by Ideefixe at 8:19 PM on July 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


Agree that this should fall into the realm of etiquette, not policy.
posted by desuetude at 8:20 PM on July 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I am also not sure there is any way to make this enforceable - if I am in a place of public accommodation, it's legal to take my picture and name me in it.

That one blurs the lines a little bit, actually - it is actually Metafilter policy right now, and we can certainly enforce it here. I was also thinking about this MeTa, which generally outlines the real names ethos on Metafilter as it stands now.

Other than "MetaFilter Inc. does not take responsibility for events that take place when members meet up," I can't imagine a need for one.

Reiterating again that this is the only actual Metafilter policy we're going to get.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 8:21 PM on July 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


That one blurs the lines a little bit, actually - it is actually Metafilter policy right now, and we can certainly enforce it here

Right. What I mean is that you can't enforce it anywhere else. If it's a public location, then an antagonistic or unwitting person can still do something like put it up on their own website, and the rest of us can't do much of anything to make them take it down. I think it is very important for people to realize that you can't attend a meetup with an expectation of anonymity if it is not in a private place. People should not think that because it's against MetaFilter's policy, that their anonymity is guaranteed to be respected. It's not possible to guarantee this.
posted by Miko at 8:25 PM on July 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


"I mean, I'm not going to get fired from Metafilter for not attending a meetup."

You're going to get fired from MetaFilter if you don't get your favorites reports in by Friday.
posted by klangklangston at 8:25 PM on July 7, 2013 [9 favorites]


Reiterating again that this is the only actual Metafilter policy we're going to get.

I get that. But since there are no other organizations involved, there are really no other organizations that can have a policy. If I say "The Boston meetup is adopting the No-Harassment Policy!" and someone violates it, to whom would a victim of harrassment address their complaint about a violated policy?

It just doesn't make sense to be using the language "policy" where there is no policymaking body responsible for the conditions or restults of the event.
posted by Miko at 8:27 PM on July 7, 2013 [6 favorites]


Has there been a problem at Meetups? If not, this suggestion is really bizarre, as nothing can be enforced and potentially just points all the a ways a person could be annoying and get away with it.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:29 PM on July 7, 2013 [12 favorites]


Also, I am a grownup and want to be able to discuss sex with other grownups if it is relevant to do so, and I am fairly sure I have done this at meetups. So I'm not sure I want to militate against "explicitly sexual conversations" which I think can be completely appropriate for friends at partylike situations to have.

Adjudicating when this is and is not appropriate is really a job nobody wants.

It makes sense for work and probably for many convention gatherings because the purpose of those gatherings is ostensibly something other than socializing, and people should be able to take part in pursuing that professional purpose without finding themselves in an explicitly sexual conversation. But meetups are pretty much purely for socializing, and conversation might cover a very wide variety of topics, some of which may include sex.

I am not saying that all conversation about sex would be appropriate, but language that broad seems like undue constraint.
posted by Miko at 8:36 PM on July 7, 2013 [19 favorites]


Right. What I mean is that you can't enforce it anywhere else

Sure. It's the "don't be a creeper" list. If someone's determined to be a creeper, they're going to be a creeper. But you're right that it sets expectations incorrectly more than the rest.

So I'm not sure I want to militate against "explicitly sexual conversations" which I think can be completely appropriate for friends at partylike situations to have.

I'm not sure what you're referring to.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 8:37 PM on July 7, 2013


This?
posted by Nomyte at 8:39 PM on July 7, 2013


I'm not sure what you're referring to.

This comment of yours.

posted by Miko at 8:39 PM on July 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


This comment of yours.

Apologies if that didn't come out right. The point of that line is if I say "I do not want to talk about sex with you," you need to respect that and not keep pushing. It's one of the points where normal conversation turns creepy when that request isn't respected.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 8:41 PM on July 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


To the extent that harassment (of all kinds) can't even be stopped here, it's difficult to see how that would happen off-site, even if the goal is a noble one.
posted by Blazecock Pileon

This idea that being unable to stop it means we shouldn't try is not one that sits well with me. I got street harassed four times in a one mile walk today. FOUR. The more places I can expect harassment won't be tolerated, the better. I actively work to get people to think through the consequences of harassment in other venues.

And actually, I feel like harassment has been much curtailed here. I didn't join for a long time because of the frequency of "I'd hit that" but the place is much better now, because the site has a consistent mantra of "do not do that here." (The cooter counter helped...)

There was a brief moment when someone from my own Real Life was inappropriate toward other users through MeMail. That shit was stopped cold. And I am so thankful for it.

So. As for the IRL harassment guidelines. I agree that there might be value in a statement of "this is what is expected of you if you want to come hang out with us." I also agree that while it may not be technically enforceable, it would give newer users the confidence to call out bullshit, and would also give potential harassers pause. Because again, this behavior thrives in the dark.

Miko, I think the sexually explicit conversations bit is meant to give people an out who don't want to hear all about someone's recent tryst/how that person is imagining sexing the listener or some other person up/details of sexual anything. Enthusiastic consent is an important distinction here. If your listener is just going "uh. huh," then maybe that's not a conversation they are excited about. Because hearing "how I fuck my wife" or "I'm imagining that guy over there naked" is not comfortable for a lot of people. But for many people, it is comfortable! Or is comfortable with some people but not others! So, restless_nomad isn't saying these conversations can't be had. Just that we need to be mindful when having them.

On preview, what restless_nomad just said.
posted by bilabial at 8:42 PM on July 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


OK, and if you do not respect that? Let's say I'm at Tommy Doyle's and you won't stop talking explicitly about sex even after I have said "I do not want to talk about sex with you." To whom would I appeal? To whom would I report?
posted by Miko at 8:42 PM on July 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


Metiquette
posted by amtho at 8:45 PM on July 7, 2013 [9 favorites]


And, would this pertain only to sex and issues of sex? What if you don't want someone to keep discussing religion with you? Or discussing drugs with you? Or whatever topic? Need we worry about the topic, or is it really the behavior of pressing conversation on someone who has asked to disengage? Would we be better off prescribing standards of conversational behavior?

I am not trying to be the Chicken Little type, honestly. I just think that we should move away from talking about "policy," which we are in no position to put forward here and expect to be taken seriously, and think through what we could reasonably say would be widely accepted standard expectations for meetup etiquette. And, based on experience, they need to be very adaptable and very comfortable and very widely supported, or they will just become a joke.
posted by Miko at 8:46 PM on July 7, 2013 [11 favorites]


I was also thinking about this MeTa, which generally outlines the real names ethos on Metafilter as it stands now.

To my understanding, MetaFilter has a two-pronged policy regarding user's personal information. First, if someone's personal info is posted here on MetaFilter, the comment may be deleted and its poster may be banned. Second, if someone's personal info is being misused offsite in a way that is obviously tied to MetaFilter, the mods may take some action against the offender. [Links are to citations.] Both are extremely soft policies; I can recall significant instances where each happened and no action was taken.

But that's it. It's not clear to me, for instance, whether MetaFilter's mods would take any action if one member created a hateful website directed at another member using personal information that was available from multiple sources. I assume not. If someone anonymously created a fake Twitter using someone's unique MetaFilter handle and began posting hateful tweets, would the mods here try to investigate and figure out who was behind it, and issue a ban? I assume not.

MetaFilter historically has been light on behavioral policies, and the ones that exist are tied very, very tightly to on-site behavior and on-site consequences. This is the context in which any social guidelines for meetups would be proposed, and that's worth considering.
posted by cribcage at 8:54 PM on July 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Maybe we need, like, a guide: "How to have a good meetup" that includes etiquette issues.

A. Planning
1. Where?
2. When?
3. "Can I get a ride?"
B. Meeting
1. "Do y'all know Matt Haughey?"
2. Good topics to discuss
3. WHAT NOT TO DO <==
C. Afterwards
1. "How will I know when it is over?"
2. Pics or it didn't happen
3. "How long do I have to wait to schedule another one?"
D. Meta-IRL
1. complaints and callouts
posted by anotherpanacea at 9:01 PM on July 7, 2013 [7 favorites]


Ok the new official policy is that if someone is making you feel harassed you have to say "dude, I don't want to hear about this!" And if they keep pestering you you have to say "dude FUCK OFF whith the shittiness". And then if they still don't stop then you have to rock paper scissors for it. If they can't respect the rock paper scissors they're a lost cause.

No but seriously thing too, is that the more we have written lists of policies and ettiquete and what we are, the more restrictive and exclusive we become. Even if there's a writeup that says "this local mefite group tends to get Pretty Wild so get ready for an uninhibited rocking time!!" Means that everyone who maybe had something a little more quiet and serious to contribute maybe won't feel welcome, and so the kind of event it could turn out to be is really limited. Or if you have a write up that days "we're a respectful and conscious group of mefites who never forget explicit consent before shaking hands and we want to remind everyone about the importance of respecting personal boundaries to create a safe space" means that back-slappin' loud-laughin' ol' Don might think its way too stodgy for the likes of him and not show up, even though he's a lot of fun and everyone would have had a great time.
posted by windykites at 9:02 PM on July 7, 2013 [9 favorites]


To whom would I appeal? To whom would I report?

If I'm throwing a house party and someone is in this situation and needs support, I hope to hell they'd come to me. If I've set up a meetup and it happens, likewise. If this is going on in earshot, I'm going to come over and back the person up.

I would hope, if Mefites are generally decent people who don't have these problems at meetups (and I believe they are,) that this would happen the usual way, through group social disapprobation. But people aren't always good at intervention, and people aren't always good at stating their needs and "causing a fuss." The point of talking about what's acceptable and what's not is to arm both those groups with the confidence they need to speak up and to intervene. That's the "being a good bystander" part of things.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 9:03 PM on July 7, 2013




With all due respect, restless_nomad, are you speaking in an official Metafilter capacity right now? Or as a site member?
posted by Wordwoman at 9:07 PM on July 7, 2013 [11 favorites]


If I'm throwing a house party and someone is in this situation and needs support, I hope to hell they'd come to me

A house is different; it's private, and you can potentially be held liable for things that happen there.

If I call a meetup at a bar, and User A says User B has harassed them...what am I supposed to do about it?! Someone may "come to me" -- so? These may be people I have never met before, and I may have no idea of the truth of the interaction, being at the other end of the room or something. There may be personal history I am not privy to - or that I am privy to. I don't have the power to have someone thrown out of a meetup in a public place. Now, here I am, possessed of a piece of information that I can't actually verify and can't do anything about. What is the point of this?

As far as "backing the person up," there are times I would do that. There are also times I would decline to become involved, based on my assessment of the situation and the parties involved.

If I were expected to adjudicate disputes about harassment and the participation of others just because I called a meetup at a public location, it would actually really deter me from calling any more meetups.
posted by Miko at 9:08 PM on July 7, 2013 [15 favorites]


With all due respect, restless_nomad, are you speaking in an official Metafilter capacity right now? Or as a site member?

As a site member. I've tried to state the official position a bunch of times, but anything beyond "MetaFilter Inc. does not take responsibility for events that take place when members meet up" is me wearing my other hat as a student of practical self-defense. I can't actually make the Staff tag go away, sorry.

If I were expected to adjudicate disputes about harassment and the participation of others just because I called a meetup at a public location, it would actually really deter me from calling any more meetups.

Well, then our moral positions differ. That's totally fine. My background and (minimal) training makes it impossible for me, personally, to take that stance.

I'm still just blue-skying, here. We're still not talking official policy.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 9:11 PM on July 7, 2013


No. There should be no assumption of the risk by the site for things it cannot control. It has no eyes on the ground or anything. If individuals want to have a policy, that is fine. But it should not be decided on by the site.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:13 PM on July 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I just watched that video and I guess I'm also a little confused about its relevance. We are now talking about standing up to bullying? Is bullying perceived as a problem at meetups?

My background and (minimal) training makes it impossible for me, personally, to take that stance.

I'm afraid that it's my probably more extensive training that makes me far more reserved about enshrining such expectations as any kind of "policy," in so many words.

I assume you have attended/organized meetups. I wonder if you would feel capable of handling, personally, a private complaint of harassment? You mention "support," but that is something different than what's being spoken of here, which is really establishing and policing standards.
posted by Miko at 9:14 PM on July 7, 2013 [6 favorites]


This strikes me very much as a solution in search of a problem. I'm not even sure if it's advisable to try to take any kind of stab at uniform behavioral standards, even if we downgrade the label to "etiquette" from "policy."
posted by MoonOrb at 9:15 PM on July 7, 2013 [26 favorites]


I kind of feel like you're taking a slam at my "morals" in that last comment, r_n. But what I mean is that I am unwilling to set myself up as an authority in a system in which I am actually backed up by no authority at all - not the site's, not the group's, not the venue's, not the municipality or the state- nothing. To expect that the person who calls a meetup is going to police behavior and potentially eject people based on their personal judgment about interactions they may or may not have witnessed - that's risky, and assumes a responsibility I cannot afford to assert and have no legal business taking on, anyway.
posted by Miko at 9:17 PM on July 7, 2013 [10 favorites]


I kind of feel like you're taking a slam at my "morals" in that last comment, r_n.

I think this may be reading too much into what she's saying. It's fine to have moral positions that differ without anyone slamming anyone else's position.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:22 PM on July 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


Just to be clear, I don't think it's moral to stand by while someone is being abused, and she seemed to suggesting there that I did, because otherwise we couldn't "differ." That's why I wanted to speak up.

However, I don't see saddling meetup organizers with responsibility for managing participant behavior as the same thing at all, and it seems that we are sometimes talking about general expectations for behavior that we all agree on, and at other times talking about the organizers taking responsibility for settling disputes or standing up to a threatening person and the like. I think it is quite convoluted.
posted by Miko at 9:27 PM on July 7, 2013


I assume you have attended/organized meetups. I wonder if you would feel capable of handling, personally, a private complaint of harassment?

Yeah, I would. Wouldn't offer, otherwise. You're looking at this from a legal stance. I'm looking at it from a safety stance. I don't *legally* need to get involved, but I am certainly competent to say "knock it off, dude," tag in extra people if need be, go to a manager if that's not sufficient and that's what the complainant wants, or call him/her a cab and get him/her out of there if that's the right choice. And if it turns into a legal issue, I'll tell the cops what I know and what I saw, and let them sort it out. But that's a *really* worst case scenario. The likeliest case is somebody needs a couple of people to scowl and say "Not cool, dude" and it's pretty much handled.

I don't need to witness harassment to help make sure it doesn't happen again at a given event. I don't need to worry about *punishment*. That's not the issue. Somebody's freaked out, they can come sit by me and I'll keep an eye on things and do what I need to. But again, that's the training I, specifically, have, and I'm comfortable with it. Not everyone does, and not everyone is going to be ok with making that blanket offer. That's totally fine.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 9:29 PM on July 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


Do you think that everyone who posts a meetup in IRL should be prepared to do as you would do in this kind of situation?

Do you think that you are always empowered to make an accurate judgment as to the veracity of the claims of harassment - especially if you did not witness any of the behavior?
posted by Miko at 9:32 PM on July 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm surprised by the pushback against anti-harassment guidelines for meetups. It doesn't seem crazy to me to gently remind people that some behavior may be unwelcome, not as official MetaFilter policy but simply as a matter of kindness and inclusiveness. I mean, if we can talk the talk here (and we certainly do), can't we all help one another walk the walk IRL too?

On a personal level if I were writing the policy I would not specifically warn against handshakes and hugs, but would say something about being careful that contact that was likely to be interpreted as sexual was consensual.
posted by onlyconnect at 9:35 PM on July 7, 2013


onlyconnect: " It doesn't seem crazy to me to gently remind people that some behavior may be unwelcome, not as official MetaFilter policy but simply as a matter of kindness and inclusiveness."

If there were some sort of history of people complaining about harassment (like there are at conventions, business conferences, etc.), then this would make sense, but since I've never heard heard even a single anecdote about harassment, this sounds kinda like "There was news the other day about a shooting at a bar. Should we write up some official MeFi policy that says don't shoot other people at meetups?"
posted by Bugbread at 9:39 PM on July 7, 2013 [18 favorites]


Do you think that everyone who posts a meetup in IRL should be prepared to do as you would do in this kind of situation?

Nope. I am speaking purely for myself, here. And I'm going to sit on my hands awhile (well, I'm going to get off-shift and go to bed a while) so that this conversation isn't all about me and my confusing mod tag.

Do you think that you are always empowered to make an accurate judgment as to the veracity of the claims of harassment - especially if you did not witness any of the behavior?

Not at all, and I don't need to be. If someone says "He harassed me," my focus is on preventing them from doing it again. If they never did it in the first place, that is a very, very easy job. If we were talking about a convention - say, if the the big anniversary meetup ever gets off the ground - then we need administrative tools to deal with harassment claims. At a meetup with less than 20 people, I just need to keep an eye on the people involved myself, which is not complicated.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 9:39 PM on July 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


I've probably run/organized more meetups than most people here. I have had an uncomfortable interaction at a meetup a while back. I told lots of people about it and everyone was great and I felt like they had my back.

I've also dealt with a problem that stemmed from unwanted romantic attention; although I wouldn't say it was a creep issue as much as a poor social skills issue. It was challenging but the parties involved resolved it themselves. It was a woman who was making a man uncomfortable. He comes to meetups still and she doesn't. Other than that I haven't been aware of any harassment at or stemming from meetups in the last couple of years--at least not by mefites. Nor have women drifted away leaving it just men attending, which IME happens when it is an unpleasantly unwelcome atmosphere for women. That doesn't mean it hasn't happened and I'd welcome information to the contrary. I should also note that everyone at meetups has a girlfriend unless proven otherwise!

What would I do if I were told about harassment? Keep an eye out and assert social pressure, I guess, essentially babysitting. You can ask someone not to attend, which is tricky of course as one doesn't want to be unwittingly used as a tool of social aggression and there is no mechanism for asking someone not to attend a meetup without it feeling extremely personal. Nor can it be enforced as far as I know, making it a bit worthless as a tactic for dealing with aggressive boundary crashers.

I feel like many of the proposed solutions here are likely to do a lot to make the socially anxious avoid meetups and not much else because there is no way to enforce these policies. As far as I can tell, a good 90% of attendees have some level of social anxiety, so it's a serious concern.
posted by the young rope-rider at 9:48 PM on July 7, 2013 [19 favorites]


. At a meetup with less than 20 people, I just need to keep an eye on the people involved myself, which is not complicated.

Right. I guess I would say: since you are speaking purely for yourself and not prescriptively, it is nice for people if you are there because you are inclined to get involved. But not everyone who attends will have your skills, nor will they want to accept any of this responsibility or intervene in interpersonal disputes, especially when they are unclear. As I said, this burden of expecting anyone who decided it's a nice time to have a meetup to "keep an eye" on the people involved does not seem appropriate to me. We should all do as we're personally guided to do in such situations, but the idea of bestowing some "representing MeFi/safety patrol" expectation on that person seems to be all sorts of wrong and fraught with potential negative repercussions.

You would need a policy if MeFi does organize an anniversary meetup, as a company hosting an event. But for meetups, I really would not endorse anything other than suggestions, because there is no company or any other party that would be responsible for having a policy. Suggestions like "ask a badly behaving person to knock it off or leave" or "call a cab for someone who wants to leave" are good suggestions, in general, and most people would do them instinctively. But also, even with suggestions, by appearing to recommend intervention there might also be an implicit message that MeFi encourages or endorses getting involved in interactions with harassers or bullies who are being a visible problem - and, if things rolled out badly and escalated, that could be problematic and unsafe for the person who got involved.

All these outlier things are important to keep in view when promoting written policy statements or even suggestions/recommendations.

I feel like many of the proposed solutions here are likely to do a lot to make the socially anxious avoid meetups and not much else because there is no way to enforce these policies.

Absolutely. And for the first time, it has made me wonder if I should be much more reluctant to call them.
posted by Miko at 9:50 PM on July 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'm not a big fan of the police state. I certainly *don't* need people to ~"Keep and eye on things and or people", talk of cops, tagging in extra people, punishment; etc.

If we need to hire security guards for events; or a PC staff; that would be one thing. The pre-emptive scenario stuff is nuts.

OK. USB fingerprint scanners; mando sign in to account, and ID's worn on a TBD location of approved garmet and in TBD font style and size. Live video streaming, transcripts, dna, AARs, etc.

Oh! Have the RNC and Homeland Security show up to do a voter registration ! Awesomes.
posted by buzzman at 9:55 PM on July 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


Also, despite the existence of some recurring meetups, most meetups are not run by one person who can supervise or monitor ongoing problem members or situations. So then what? Person A messages the meetup organizer about Person B when Person B RSVPs to a meetup. The organizer has no context and might have never met either person. Say they want to help Person A. They again have the rather unpleasant and difficult task of either babysitting a potential harasser or asking someone they've never met not to attend an event that is open to literally every other mefite.
posted by the young rope-rider at 9:59 PM on July 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


If there were some sort of history of people complaining about harassment (like there are at conventions, business conferences, etc.), then this would make sense, but since I've never heard heard even a single anecdote about harassment, this sounds kinda like "There was news the other day about a shooting at a bar. Should we write up some official MeFi policy that says don't shoot other people at meetups?"

Agreed. And it's hard to know what gain could come from a quasi-official policy that, if something were even to maybe happen, which seems unlikely, retaliation would essentially be left to be dealt out by mob rule, something which this site does not have a good history with.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:15 PM on July 7, 2013


Is it a good idea to make up rules to prevent things that aren't an actual problem at the moment? I wouldn't expect people showing up to metafilter metups to be giant assholes in person. This seems like making up policies simply for the pure joy of making up policies.

Metafilter doesn't exactly have the same kind of culture that necessitates this kind of thing, like you'd see at gaming cons and the like.
posted by delmoi at 10:21 PM on July 7, 2013 [9 favorites]


And, would this pertain only to sex and issues of sex? What if you don't want someone to keep discussing religion with you? Or discussing drugs with you? Or whatever topic?

What if someone won’t stop doing Monty Python bits, or Kids in the Hall? What if someone gets drunk and won’t stop trying to show off their rhyming skills? Of course "stab them in the neck" is the obvious answer, but should it be official policy?
posted by bongo_x at 10:22 PM on July 7, 2013 [11 favorites]


At a meetup with less than 20 people, I just need to keep an eye on the people involved myself, which is not complicated.

I suspect that you're either an outlier in terms of this skill or you're overconfident. It's quite difficult to do this and drink, step outside for a cigarette, pee a lot, leave before others so you can relieve the babysitter, etc. I would happily attempt it but not with any expectation that it would be easy, simple, or solve the problem completely.

I don't mean to be overly negative about peer intervention and involvement; I think they're hugely beneficial in some situations. However, you are strongly implying that this would be simple if people agreed with you that harassment should be stopped. I don't think that's the case at all.
posted by the young rope-rider at 10:23 PM on July 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


This thread makes me really uncomfortable. It reminds me of discussions on this site of rape which tend to skew towards "hang ' em high" assumptions of guilty-until-proven-innocent and if you are wondering if they maybe are innocent then you are obviously a "rape apologist." Making rules based on an assumption of guilt actively creates guilty parties where there didn't necessarily have to be any.

Earlier tonight, soneone suggested my behavior in chat was inappropriate for a butt joke -- though that kind of thing happens all the time in chat and the person in question often talks about their own boobs etc. in chat -- and referenced this discussion. I am currently homeless and while homeless, for the first time in my life, I have experienced firsthand how the rules get applied differently when they don't want "your kind" there and actually behaving is zero defense.

So I am feeling a hair defensive and like any sexual harrassment policy that comes of this might be similarly used to exclude me (or anyone who is just not adequately liked) just because some folks do not like me and actually behaving no different from anyone else is zero defense. And that sort of thing creates a chill that causes bigger social problems, in part because it makes people afraid to speak up. When I participate in male-dominated forums, my personal policy is one of "polite public hand slapping" if someone seems to be hitting on me or whatever. A lot of women give the cold shoulder in such situations and it promotes an atmosphere of walking on eggshells that makes it a lot harder to break through the glass ceiling and integrate women. It does that by making the behavior so heinous it is "unspeakable." If possible, I try to make light of it while enforcing appropriate boundaries. Most men are not trying to be creepers. They are just trying to figure out what the hell they are doing while social expectation is on them to do the initiating.

With recovering from being a victim of sexual abuse, one epiphany I had was that I had learned to frame all sexual situations in terms of victim and victimizer. I had to learn to think of sexual situations as two innocent parties, trying to negotiate an outcome. My earlier mental model meant I could only try to decide who would be the victim. The idea that two people could talk, one could express interest, the other could either reciprocate or decline and there did not need to be a victim was a huge life-changing revelation for me. And this thread is just making me feel there is an assumption of guilt happening which will actively peg people as villains who weren't doing anything predatory.

The entire tone of this discussion is such that, combined with the way I was directed to it, I am actually somewhat paranoidly nervous that tossing my 2¢ in will ultimately somehow lead to me being banned. :-/
posted by Michele in California at 10:39 PM on July 7, 2013 [16 favorites]


Is it a good idea to make up rules to prevent things that aren't an actual problem at the moment? I wouldn't expect people showing up to metafilter metups to be giant assholes in person. This seems like making up policies simply for the pure joy of making up policies.

I agree.

I find it a little strange, too, that grouse made this MeTa and then disappeared, and that he hasn't answered the request for clarification about whether harassment has been a problem at meetups.
posted by Unified Theory at 10:46 PM on July 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


Punch Em' In The Dick
NSFW.
posted by buzzman at 10:53 PM on July 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


I think Miko is correct. You can't take responsibility in a situation in which you have no actual power. If someone suggests a meetup at a bar they don't actually have any authority to decide who goes or stays at said bar. So how can they be said to be responsible in any way, shape, or form.

Actually, come to think of it... the people responsible would be the employees at the bar.

So it seems to me that the harassment policy at a Metafilter meetup is, regardless of what people suggest it to be, exactly the harassment policy of whatever venue the meetup is held at. If the meetup is at a bar, the policy is the bar's policy. If the meetup is at Jumbo's Clown Room (which is, I assume, the "creepy clown strip club" mentioned above since really how many could there be?) then the harassment policy is Jumbo's Clown Room's harassment policy. And if the meetup is in the back of my van, the harassment policy is my harassment policy for the back of my van.

Because whoever has the power to control access to a venue controls the policy. And a bar or restaurant or club is already going to have such a policy. If someone acts inappropriately and won't stop when you ask, the people to complain to are the staff at that establishment because they are the only ones who can actually do anything about it beyond social pressure.
posted by Justinian at 11:06 PM on July 7, 2013 [12 favorites]


Touch requires explicit consent. This includes social hugging and shaking hands

That's ridiculous.
posted by John Cohen at 11:31 PM on July 7, 2013 [12 favorites]


Well if you go to shake someone's hand or hug them and they make no motion to reciprocate, you normally wouldn't continue right? I feel this is something happens normally and organically with handshakes and hugs anyway. Both people physically "opt-in" well before any contact happens. Or am I completely off base?

(end of beanplating)
posted by ODiV at 11:36 PM on July 7, 2013


Michele, I would like to respond to your comment but it's a bit difficult because there are a lot of different things going on in it, some very personal to you obviously and some that I wasn't there for (the chat thing) and some that I feel quite qualified to comment on. I'm also uncomfortable talking about chat because it's sort of a line that we're not supposed to talk about chat here or talk about here on chat, and I'm not sure how or what about that applies in this situation.

I will say that after a recent comment you made about assigning responsibility in the case of date rape I am not inclined to think that you and I have much common ground when it comes to how we should talk about rape in a public situation like this site. I also do not agree with your assertion that women are to blame for the "glass ceiling" because they don't respond correctly to men's inappropriate behavior. It would seem that as men are quite capable of controlling themselves that they should shoulder the ultimate blame, yes?

Anyway, those are both huge digressions from the original topic, but I feel that like in the thread where you brought up date rape that if they're not addressed you end up getting the last word just because no one else is allowed to go "off topic" and I don't think that's okay when it comes to these kinds of pernicious and harmful ideas about women.
posted by the young rope-rider at 11:38 PM on July 7, 2013 [17 favorites]


See, an etiquette help document could explain why or why not to John Cohen's comment above. He thinks "Touch requires explicit consent" is ridiculous, but I've read plenty of comments from people who I'm pretty sure wouldn't think it's ridiculous, for deeply-felt, not-weird reasons. It may also be that "explicit consent" is a lot simpler than John is thinking, or less simple than I think - if somehow we had a common basis, it could let us get on to debating politics or something fun.

Think of etiquette help as an aid to the imagination.

Lots of people need (and want!) this for a lot of reasons.

It could help John, for example, understand that, if someone refuses a handshake or a hug, it's not a judgement of him, and in fact may have nothing to do with him. The refuser may in fact think John Cohen is an awesome guy and may want to have a long conversation with him, but he won't be able to figure that out if his feelings are hurt because of a simple misunderstanding.
posted by amtho at 11:41 PM on July 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


"Has there been a problem at Meetups? If not, this suggestion is really bizarre, as nothing can be enforced and potentially just points all the a ways a person could be annoying and get away with it."

Yes, I can say with complete assurance that there has been. I've personally experienced some and I have witnessed some as well. No more than at other types of similarly-organized events, but for me, this is not a discussion we're having about a hypothetical situation.

"If there were some sort of history of people complaining about harassment (like there are at conventions, business conferences, etc.), then this would make sense, but since I've never heard heard even a single anecdote about harassment, this sounds kinda like "There was news the other day about a shooting at a bar. Should we write up some official MeFi policy that says don't shoot other people at meetups?""

There is a lot of shame involved with harrassment. People want to have a good time. People aren't good about reacting to or reporting harrassment. Especially when there's no script. And it's a public meetup in a public place with no organizing authority. Just because you've never heard stories doesn't mean they don't exist.

"Is it a good idea to make up rules to prevent things that aren't an actual problem at the moment? I wouldn't expect people showing up to metafilter metups to be giant assholes in person. This seems like making up policies simply for the pure joy of making up policies.

Metafilter doesn't exactly have the same kind of culture that necessitates this kind of thing, like you'd see at gaming cons and the like."


You'd be surprised.

----

I agree with others that 'policy' doesn't make sense in this context. "Metiquette" is an apt and charming term that could get the point across without being a complete downer. Just some information, reminders and suggestions* for people attending meetups, so we can be more aware of what's typical/expected, what's ok and not ok, and encouraged look out for our fellow internet friends. Knowing that other strangers would have my back if something weird comes up is a nice confidence-boosting comfort, as meeting strangers is intimidating enough without having to wonder about how to deal with potential sexual harrassment, unwanted attention and the like. Sure, sexual harrassment happens everywhere and I'm not saying that I expect others to swoop in if there's a Thing, but just knowing that I'm going into a situation where other people give a shit is sort of nice. It's really the difference between a bunch of strangers gathering together and a community meetup; I think we can do at least a little better here.

*Even small things, like knowing in advance that you are not required to provide your real name at a meetup is incredibly helpful to many individuals. And knowing that others will respect your anonymity. And not tolerate other kinds of behavior.
posted by iamkimiam at 11:44 PM on July 7, 2013 [15 favorites]


General Note: Please don't bring up chat stuff as examples of something that might happen "X" way, or to sideways complain about someone in chat, or whatever is happening. If someone has a problem in chat that is not being addressed sufficiently among participants, contact us. We've specifically asked that people not bring Mefi (thread/argument etc.) drama to chat, or chat drama to the site. Please don't do this. It will also help this discussion if it doesn't get sidetracked by broad brush assertions of "women/men are like foo." Let's try to stay focused.
posted by taz (staff) at 11:49 PM on July 7, 2013 [5 favorites]


Also want to add that in situations I've experienced and witnessed, other MeFites have generally been supportive and awesome, sometimes even going out of their way to warn me about others or situations or protect me and others from creepy-crawlies. It's mostly been great and I've felt really safe and welcomed. But I also recognize that I'm fairly well known in this community and generally very headstrong and loud. I'd want other MeFites to feel just as supported by the community, just as comfortable attending meetups and not be pressured to act certain ways to have a good time. Basically, people should be able to feel free to be themselves and I think we can all share some responsibility in putting a small bit more effort into making the whole process a little less intimidating and more safe for everybody. Just through some awareness measures is probably enough, no official site policy needed I think.
posted by iamkimiam at 11:55 PM on July 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


"Agreed. And it's hard to know what gain could come from a quasi-official policy that, if something were even to maybe happen, which seems unlikely, retaliation would essentially be left to be dealt out by mob rule, something which this site does not have a good history with."

Aww, you big lug, people are about a thousand times nicer in person than they come across here — plenty of us MeFites learned not to say what we think but still struggle with not typing it.

""Metiquette" is an apt and charming term"

Uh no because meh-tiquette or meet-iquette.

"If there were some sort of history of people complaining about harassment (like there are at conventions, business conferences, etc.), then this would make sense, but since I've never heard heard even a single anecdote about harassment, this sounds kinda like "There was news the other day about a shooting at a bar. Should we write up some official MeFi policy that says don't shoot other people at meetups?""

I can believe that there's been harassment or unwanted attention. But it feels more like, "What's MetaFilter's policy on drunk driving?" I mean, we're against it, broadly, but it's pretty much on every subgroup to figure out how to enforce that as a social norm. Meetups are less formal than cons or many other organized events; I think that any "policies" are going to have to come out of any given group of folks. I'll say two other things, which is that there's a broad accommodationist ethos in organizing these things (you tend to want to get as many MeFites to a given event as you can, to justify the effort in organizing it), and that meetups are non-exclusive, so different groups in the same area can find practices that work for them — if you don't like it, organize your own meetup. (In other contexts, that's more of a blow off, but the cost isn't that high to organize a meetup, or you're doing it wrong).
posted by klangklangston at 11:55 PM on July 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't mean to speak for John Cohen and he can clarify for himself, but the way I read his comment, I think he's interpreting the adjective "explicit" to mean verbal. In other words, sticking out your hand to invite a handshake would be insufficient; first, you'd have to ask the person if he/she would like to shake hands. This is how some policies read, although not all.

Even small things, like knowing in advance that you are not required to provide your real name at a meetup is incredibly helpful to many individuals.

That was an interesting one ("real names are optional"). I wonder how many people would assume that's a necessary rule and one everybody would agree with, versus how many people would assume the opposite and feel less inclined to attend a meetup if they knew they might have to call people by silly-phrase usernames.
posted by cribcage at 11:57 PM on July 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


"So I am feeling a hair defensive and like any sexual harrassment policy that comes of this might be similarly used to exclude me (or anyone who is just not adequately liked) just because some folks do not like me and actually behaving no different from anyone else is zero defense. "

Yeah, sorry, but just not adequately liking someone is totally a valid reason to not include them. I haven't had this happen so much with MeFi (unless I'm the one being excluded ¬¬) but it happens pretty much nonstop with every social group. It's even described as a geek social fallacy!
posted by klangklangston at 12:00 AM on July 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


"That was an interesting one ("real names are optional"). I wonder how many people would assume that's a necessary rule and one everybody would agree with, versus how many people would assume the opposite and feel less inclined to attend a meetup if they knew they might have to call people by silly-phrase usernames."

I'm friends with two guys with the exact same real name, and you're one of them. I think of you as your screen name because I met the other guy first. He was the photographer for my school paper, and now he mostly takes pictures of lakes. Facebook can be really confusing sometimes.
posted by klangklangston at 12:02 AM on July 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


The username/real-name divide is a topic I've been fascinated by for years now. I think there's a LOT to it and I think you're right that many people would find it silly. I'm also wondering if these differing attitudes are somewhat correlated with people's usernames themselves and why/how they choose the ones they chose. I mean, it's really all about identity and how people chose to construct that online and then carry it over into this new modality (face-to-face). For some it translates nicely, others it just doesn't scan.
posted by iamkimiam at 12:04 AM on July 8, 2013


See, an etiquette help document could explain why or why not to John Cohen's comment above. He thinks it's ridiculous, but I've read plenty of comments from people who I'm pretty sure wouldn't think it's ridiculous, for deeply-felt, not-weird reasons.

Among the people who know me, I am notorious for how non-physical I am. I am an awkward hugger. I don't like hugs. I don't understand why someone can expect to drape themselves over me (or why I should wrap myself around someone) when the next most physical thing we've done all day is shake hands or pass the salt. It feels incongruous and overly intimate, and I'm bad with intimacy, reading social cues, etc, etc.

This has not prevented many people, mostly female friends, from making grand gestures of hugging me, throwing their arms wide-open, advancing on me mock-menacingly, and delivering sloppy, fumbly hugs. It's not very far off from those messy kisses from grand-aunt Betty or getting your cheeks pinched by grandpa Karl.

This, in fact, often becomes the joke. "Nomyte can't take a hug, let's help him break out of his shell by hugging the fuck out of him at every opportunity." I mean, otherwise I'm a pretty social person. I've been to meetups, some people have seen me in person. I'm generally OK socially. I don't really understand the huggy thing.

This doesn't make the huggy thing any less widespread. People hug. All the time. Many people, especially younger people, wouldn't think twice of being hugged by an acquaintance. Hugging is seen as social and friendly. It's in the footer of this very page.

Over time, I think I've been getting used to hugs, to hugging and getting hugged. I don't necessarily enjoy hugging, but I'm not startled by it quite as much anymore.

So does that mean that I'm glad people kept hugging me? Does that make it OK that they ignored my weak protestations? That they made an exaggerated show of disappointment if I backed out of the attempted hugs? Their collective, completely uncoordinated efforts are paying off. I'm becoming more OK with hugs. I might hug you when I see you, for no fucking reason that I can understand. And sometimes it kind of feels good to be drawn out of your shell, even if you really, really don't think you want to.

This is why I feel the sting of incongruity when people do the "no touch" spiel. My experience has been that well-meaning people will touch and keep touching. It's also my experience that saying "no, thanks" makes me look conspicuously antisocial. And it's also been my experience that getting touched and touching back is a great social lubricant that allows people to get along and have fun. So when I see someone write that they'd like a signed affidavit in triplicate two weeks in advance of getting hugged by a recent acquaintance in public, I get uncomfortably confused.
posted by Nomyte at 12:05 AM on July 8, 2013 [16 favorites]


Yeah, sorry, but just not adequately liking someone is totally a valid reason to not include them.

Maybe I was not clear, but I meant getting official involvement like getting me banned for supposedly doing something "bad" when it isn't true. I did not mean not getting invited to tea. Earlier in this discussion, people were suggesting publically reporting supposed bad acts by posting them on the site. I think that is super problematic. It is a smear campaign. One misunderstanding and suddenly someone is branded for life. That is not a good way to make meetups work better.

As for hugs and handshakes, I don't want people touching me for medical reasons and lots of people are very disrespectful of that preference.
posted by Michele in California at 12:12 AM on July 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Just want to add, that ettiquette policy or not, the existence of this very discussion thread has already gone a long way to raise some awareness about my own behavior at meetups. I'm a hugger. After I've had a few drinks and a really great time with MeFites and we're all saying goodbyes I may forget that my boundaries aren't the same as others on this topic. I may go in for a hug. But I think now I'll have a little more conscious thought about that and pay better attention to the cues. Maybe offer people a nice out if they don't feel like hugging (I find that having the right hand out to possibly shake, the left arm out to possibly hug and enough distance between people works - so that if they want to step forward to accept hug initiation cues, yay. If they want to shake, cool, I'm ready to go, there's the hand! If they want to stand there I can wave both arms and smile and say goodbye). That's my strategy, but yeah, it helps to have these gentle reminders to put that in play.
posted by iamkimiam at 12:19 AM on July 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Also, the left arm/right arm thing makes for a nice "Oh, after you!" showing the person the way out the door, were the hug or shake not accepted.
posted by iamkimiam at 12:22 AM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


one idea to shoot for is a general policy that individual meetups could adopt (and adapt, as they saw fit), so everyone at a given meetup knows what the expectations are.

How does "don't be a dick" not already cover this?
posted by flabdablet at 12:24 AM on July 8, 2013


Well, that's exactly the thing. I'm not sure I'd enjoy an environment where everyone starts out at some kind of "least common social denominator." No one hugs. No one shakes hands. No one makes eye contact. No one says anything possibly upsetting to anyone else.

I don't even think there's a real possibility of "square one" here. I can imagine that some people find refusal to shake hands very rude, for example. And we're generally talking about mainstream American culture here. If you branch out into other world cultures, it gets exponentially more complicated in small, pernicious ways.

What I'm trying to say is that I think it's inevitable that people will cut corners and make assumptions. That can lead to misunderstanding and hurt feelings, especially if we're coming from very different mindsets. The people who propose a "no touch without consent" policy are not asking for a return to baseline, they're asking for a specific modification. We are steering social etiquette, and I'm not sure there's a "natural" place to settle on.
posted by Nomyte at 12:31 AM on July 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


I am not a hugger, at all, and hugging always makes me uncomfortable, but Americans like to hug, so the fact that I don't is my problem, not other folks' problem. It's never occurred to me to ask other people not to do it.
posted by Bugbread at 12:35 AM on July 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


I will add that the degree to which referencing chat is a no-no here makes this discussion of "policy" for IRL meetups seem weird to me. Chat is something the mods can and do moderate. They have some control over that. IRL meetups they really cannot control.

Not saying we should not discuss etiquette, expectations etc for meetups and I do realize that the mods have repeatedly stated that the official policy is that MeFi is not responsible for what happens at meetups, but ... I don't think I can complete that thought without getting in trouble for breaking some rule. Just not sure how to talk here when we are talking about controlling offsite behavior, like IRL, for mefite interaction but discussing chat is Verboten. That doesn't quite compute for me. It seems interrelated.

I am not trying to break the rules or cause problems. I just honestly find that baffling and ... cannot quite figure out how to say why without feeling like I will be in trouble for being baffled and trying to communicate.
posted by Michele in California at 12:54 AM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


If you want to discuss Chat in a way that cannot be handled by contacting us, then you can open a Metatalk thread about what your concern is? I don't know why you are baffled that this isn't a post about Chat.
posted by taz (staff) at 12:59 AM on July 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


Being given a list of rules for how to behave myself in public by a bunch of people who are not from my country or part of my culture comes across as controlling and weird. I don't want or need to be following American-based norms when I'm out in the world (I'm about to move to a country where refusing to do the cheek kiss would make me a total outcast, for example). Using Conventions as an example for why we need to be told what to do like this is beside the point because they had an active, widespread, measurable sexual harassment problem, metafilter meetups don't.

Metafilter meetups should follow the same expected social norms as the rest of the world. Don't sexually harass anyone anywhere. Don't treat people crappily anywhere. Don't make people uncomfortable or unhappy anywhere.Always be a good person. Never be a dick. Anyone who doesn't already know that isn't going to change because you guys tell them what to do.
posted by shelleycat at 1:01 AM on July 8, 2013 [32 favorites]


Yeah, even aside from the impossibility of Metafilter officially overseeing any kind of offsite interaction, different places and different groups are different. My three-person (and a dog) meetup group is okay with the the hug, the handshaking, the cheek kissing, and occasional hand licking [from THE DOG, okay?]

But seriously, [mod hat removed] just to maybe clear up one point of confusion on the handshake item, aside from people having either a specific personal distaste for touching a stranger, or health concerns as Michele in California mentioned, I'll describe a thing that happens (but relatively rarely in my own experience): you go to shake hands with someone in the ordinary, expected way, and they covertly, suggestively stroke the inside of your palm or your wrist with a finger. For me, that has been shocking, disgusting and threatening and I basically want to forcefully slap the (usually accompanying) insinuating smirk right off their face. BUT I've shaken thousands (?) of hands, and this has only happened a few times, so I have not established a "sorry, I don't shake hands" personal policy, but I can see why someone might.

(There's also a thing where people will sometimes resist the disengaging part of the handshake, holding on with subtle force to extend the contact time beyond the limit of comfort. This one might not always be sexually suggestive or dominating, but sometimes is.)

I do not mention this because I personally agree/disagree with any particular policy or standard about this that any local group might want to make, but to explain why the mere discussion or consideration of something like that is not necessarily "ridiculous," though, again, I'm definitely not advocating either way.
posted by taz (staff) at 1:23 AM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'll describe a thing that happens (but relatively rarely in my own experience): you go to shake hands with someone in the ordinary, expected way, and they covertly, suggestively stroke the inside of your palm or your wrist with a finger.

Isn't that the "secret" Phi Beta Kappa handshake?
posted by Nomyte at 1:28 AM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Nomyte I am an awkward hugger. I don't like hugs ... This has not prevented many people, mostly female friends, from making grand gestures of hugging me, throwing their arms wide-open, advancing on me mock-menacingly, and delivering sloppy, fumbly hugs...sometimes it kind of feels good to be drawn out of your shell, even if you really, really don't think you want to.
....So when I see someone write that they'd like a signed affidavit in triplicate two weeks in advance of getting hugged by a recent acquaintance in public, I get uncomfortably confused.


Look, I routinely take the (surprisingly unpopular) stand that, indeed, some people don't need a hug. But there is a giant difference between what you're saying has been written and what has actually been written. "May I give you a hug?" is what is being suggested. It's nice to be asked, and it's not entirely mad to think that maybe with a reminder, the huggier among us will ask kindly, and will accept no for an answer.

I have opinions about your friends but you didn't ask. But I don't like people who override my wishes, even when they insist it's for my own good, and even when I can see the good in question. Consent is important to me. Conformity less so.
posted by gingerest at 1:29 AM on July 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


Rather than an illicit stealth edit, I now have to say: I don't mean you're being conformist, Nomyte - I meant your friends are trying to force you to conform, which I shouldn't have said because it's not my place and it's a derail and you definitely didn't ask and it's disrespectful of your friends, and by extension, you. But I misworded it and just kind of insulted you out of the blue. So, I'm really sorry both for what I said and what I meant.
posted by gingerest at 1:35 AM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


And if the meetup is in the back of my van, the harassment policy is my harassment policy for the back of my van.

Why does this sound like such a compelling meetup?
posted by Meatbomb at 1:45 AM on July 8, 2013 [10 favorites]


Dear gingerest,

Well, of course I didn't mean the "notarized affidavit in triplicate" literally. But I think that insisting that specific standards of behavior are more universal than experience shows makes this conversation rather academic. I can imagine situations and social environments where hugging is ridiculous and out of place. That's a social standard that people in that social environment set and (at least implicitly) accept. There are other social circles, groups, places, and environments where casual hugging is the norm and a verbal preamble may be an unusual and peculiar exception, at least among people of some particular gender or age or level of familiarity.

I, personally, find it somewhat disingenuous to insist that the group is wrong. I find it's a lot more productive to say that there is variation in acceptable standards of behavior from group to group (note locally "acceptable," not universally "moral" or "ethical" or whatever). If something makes me uncomfortable, I'm obviously free to decline, but the social consequences of that exist within the context of that social standard. There's no higher ground to stake out here. Miss Manners doesn't exist outside the bounds of time and space as some kind of immutable standard of behavior, like the official prototype kilogram.

The way we get the effect we want is by collectively insisting on a different standard of behavior. To bring it back to the con thing, people collectively must agree that certain words and actions are reprehensible enough to be punishable. A single individual can't make an entire class of behavior reprehensible: I can either conform (and deal with the consequences) or resist (and, again, deal with the consequences), but I don't have the luxury of an automatic appeal to some kind of higher standard of behavior.
posted by Nomyte at 1:59 AM on July 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


Wow, this thread has gone this far without someone saying Christ, what an asshole!
posted by tservo at 2:01 AM on July 8, 2013


And the thing where they force your hand over to show DOMINANCE. I'm often tempted to hold on and make a big show of twisting it back. Not a temptation I give in to, because pfft whatever, but nevertheless.

A thing with handshakes is that responding to them is unconscious, which is why hypnotists sometimes use it to induce trance in people. You'll often find yourself shaking hands with someone before you've really acknowledged that they're there. When I was a student, there was an incident where I got off a bus and a local lad reached out his hand. I took it without thinking, and he held on to it very firmly just long enough to register that I was afraid of him, then walked off laughing. So. That doesn't mean I don't shake the hands of financial advisers and bank managers (which is strange, as they've caused me more long-term harm).

I have a problem with rules such as the proposed, in that in my experience they've tended to result in enforcement structures that cause more difficulty than they solve. Thinking back to MeFi Meetups, I don't see how such a thing would be enforceable without an Etiquette Police, and would one really want to give the power to enforce etiquette to anyone who actually wants that power? I can't even reliably enforce the "Don't be an asshole" rule on myself, and I'm in here all the time; I don't think I could require other people to live up to it.

Generally speaking, I'm a complicated enough being in social situations that I have to expect a certain amount of discomfort and embarrassment from them, and hope that I don't cause any discomfort or embarrassment to other people. For my own part, I think one can and should bear discomfort as far as one can, assuming that the people around one are not intentionally causing one distress. I'd say that it's that - acting deliberately to cause distress to another person - that is most likely to come up at a meet up such that it would require intervention.

That said, it's an odd thing that social groupings over a certain size do tend to produce authority figures automatically, and I would hope that in a group that grows out of MeFi, that person would be able to respond to the needs of anyone who was in actual distress. I can say that in the sure knowledge that I'm irresponsible (and/or drunk) enough that that person wouldn't be me.

The most egregious thing I've ever seen at a meetup was someone walking out on his food bill, which meant that someone else had to pick up his tab (I was neither of these people). Everything else in my experience has been the result of combining people and beer. But then I'm an ugly enough old bloke that mostly all I get is people shouting at me.
posted by Grangousier at 2:04 AM on July 8, 2013


Why does this sound like such a compelling meetup?

You have no idea.
posted by Justinian at 2:05 AM on July 8, 2013


And I also want to apologize about drawing this out way past the limits of a normal person's reserve of patience. It turns out that talking about talking and socializing and being awkward about negotiating boundaries is awkward and kind of exhausting.
posted by Nomyte at 2:05 AM on July 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Conventions and conferences are often multi-day events. People need to sleep during that time, and often sleep in the same hotel (as in the Elevator Incident). Conferences and conventions are often expensive to attend. If you walk out of a conference or convention you've wasted a significant amount of somebody's money. If you walk out of a conference you have foregone significant professional benefits. Conferences and conventions have official organizers who can have people ejected from the venue.

Metafilter meetups usually last a few hours. Afterwards, people go back to their own homes or hotels away from the other attendees. Meetups are either free or cheap to attend (there are tickets for some of the exhibition ones for instance). If you walk out of a meetup you usually haven't wasted a significant amount of money, nor have foregone any significant professional benefits. Metafilter meetups have only unofficial organizers, who usually do not have the power to eject people from the venue.

I think sexual harassment is a particular problem at conferences and conventions because people are to a degree trapped: you can't easily leave without suffering consequences, and harassers can take advantage of that.

It seems a bit excessive to try to apply the codes and sanctions you need for a fairly long, formal, professionally significant event to a short, informal, social gathering.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 2:26 AM on July 8, 2013 [19 favorites]


I think people are right when they say that an anti-harassment policy is of limited value when it can't be enforced, or when it gives an implied duty of enforcement to people who shouldn't be put in that position.

I also think that anti-harassment policies give a positive message to people in a group: Having boundaries is acceptable in this group. If you stand up to a creepy person we are likely to support you rather than permanently ostracizing you.

A middle ground would be a set of positive "good citizen" guidelines, intended to help people who have good intentions rather than to sound punitive about people who have bad intentions.
posted by emilyw at 3:05 AM on July 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


This conversation reminds me of a similar one we had several years ago. We were having the 10th meetup parties, and one member asked that nobody in her Boston meetup use a flash on their camera, because it triggers her epilepsy and she could have a seizure as a result. Another person indicated that they would use flash despite the request (and they later chose a different meetup to attend).

The mod response was basically that they wished everyone would act like nice adults but there was no way for them to enforce that. Same as here.
posted by Houstonian at 3:47 AM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Etiquette Policy/Statement of Expectations:

While Metafilter itself is not responsible for anyone's behavior IRL, your behavior at a Mefi-related meetup does reflect on the community as a whole; therefore, it is desireable that anyone attending a meetup maintain a civilized level of behavior.

*No unwelcome physical contact. This includes everything from making sure someone would welcome hugs and/or handshaking to no sexual groping without the other person's specific permission.
*No harrassment. This includes any unwelcome comments as well as any other behavior that makes another person uncomfortable.
*If you are told to stop doing something, if your behavior is unwelcome or you are making another person uncomfortable, stop doing it immediately.
*You are responsible for your own behavior; you are responsible for the consequences of your actions.
posted by easily confused at 4:33 AM on July 8, 2013


"You all might very well think this; I couldn't possibly comment".
posted by unliteral at 4:41 AM on July 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Not to trivialize anyone's concerns (and I'm probably as far away from this kind of meetup as possible), but I would think twice about attending a meetup where NO SEXUAL GROPING is something that needs to be explicitly stated - it's a social affair, I don't care to socialize with people who need to be told this is not acceptable.

Also your last point reads somewhat weird to me: is there ANY social situation where I am not responsible for my own behavior and the consequences of my actions?
posted by Dr Dracator at 4:46 AM on July 8, 2013 [9 favorites]


A middle ground would be a set of positive "good citizen" guidelines, intended to help people who have good intentions rather than to sound punitive about people who have bad intentions.

Yes, they certainly would be intended to do that. But I'm not sure they would be able to. "Remember guys: it's okay to stand up to harassment! Tell a buddy if someone's being a jerk" is okay I guess, but then what?
What ends up different in the With Explicit Guidelines scenario that doesn't happen without? I just find it difficult to imagine that if someone's done something so egregious that they're going to get kicked out of a venue, that that plays out any differently with or without guidelines. And if it's a situation like "that hug was about 5 seconds too long" or "their hand brushed my ass" then I think that, if the person involved has a certain amount if courage and self-assurance, they can certainly say, hey, you're making me uncomfortable. But can they rely on some stranger they've never met before to take their side in that situation? Should they rely on it? What happens if the accused harasser responds by simply apologising or by denying the incident occurred? Does the meetup have a up down vote on who gets to stay?

The whole thing that kicked off this round of discussion about sexual harassment in the SciFi convention scene, IIRC, was a post by a victim explaining their experience with the formal reporting system at the con and encouraging others to use it. The framing of that post, I'd argue, was very important in helping shape the subsequent discussion in a positive way, because it was about reminding people that there existed a formal, neutral system willing to investigate a claim, make a ruling on its veracity and enforce consequences on the parties involved.

We don't got none of that. I don't think you can successfully implement any set of formal guidelines for an informal meeting without an enforcement structure. And we're definitely not going to have that. In the absence of such a structure, I think it'd be better for the community if the informal and unspoken assumption was that "we trust you will not act like assholes" with exceptions to be handled case-by-case.
posted by Diablevert at 4:55 AM on July 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


Earlier in this discussion, people were suggesting publically reporting supposed bad acts by posting them on the site. I think that is super problematic. It is a smear campaign. One misunderstanding and suddenly someone is branded for life. That is not a good way to make meetups work better.


Hi Michele! Since this was my suggestion I want to address this, even though I am not very well-versed in this kind of thing, and am a rather sheltered dude, because I have been part of many online communities for many years where community pressure was a binding legal body, where the only administration was the threat of public callouts, creating an atmosphere of trust where users loaned each other tens of thousands of dollars and rented apartments together without ever meeting and other acts of faith, based simply on the power of reputation.

I do understand that this community method of self-policing behavior at meetups COULD be used to unfairly smear someone. But, heck, so can regular old talkin-behind-someone's-back. I've certainly heard people talk shit about other Metafilter members when they aren't around (more along the lines of "Ugh what a loudmouth drunk PA is I wish he wouldn't come to the next one)[at least thats what I would say about myself were I in the mood to talk shit] which is of course pretty rude and should be avoided. But we're not talking about social ostracization for awkwardness or being an other, we're talking about sexually dangerous behavior. Calling that shit out in public, warning others whom could be hurt worse in the future is worth the risk of it being misused. IMO the chances of public reporting of sexual harassment being used to bully someone rather than do the extremely difficult task of exposing a harasser is very very low. Putting your business out in public is really hard to do, its really scary and embarrassing for harassed people (but from what I can tell from reading MF threads for the past few years, talking about it helps in the end).

Since we cannot either A. Have an official policy whereby Mefi mods police IRL behavior as rigorously as they do online, or B. Have a 22 point self-policing policy that everyone nationwide can agree clearly defines what is or isn't appropriate for a meetup including how that policy should be enforced and who should enforce it...
my suggestion is to encourage people who experience what they deem to be shitty things at meetups to do more than tell others at the event itself, more than gossip about it essentially. Post about it in the IRL thread in some capacity to create a permanent record of it, whether its using the offender's screen-name, real name, or without any names at all--just a record of the action. I would hope that this would be an acceptable use of IRL threads, and that commenters could discuss what happened rationally to support the victim (or in the rare rare rare case of your "smear campaign", to defend the accused with actual evidence that the accusation is unfair).

One of the few advantages we have gained in losing all of our privacy online is that assholes get no privacy either. If I can't get away with wearing chinos on vacation (ONCE OK JUST ONCE) without someone posting the damn thing to Facebook, sexual harassers shouldn't be able to shame everyone into not posting about it in the community that organized the event due to fear of hurting their feelings. The end.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 4:57 AM on July 8, 2013


Post about it in the IRL thread in some capacity to create a permanent record of it, whether its using the offender's screen-name, real name, or without any names at all--just a record of the action.

If I thought that it was the official policy if this site that if I did something somebody considered inappropriate they would be encouraged to doxx me, I would immediately cease to use it. You may think that we have all agreed to give up all our privacy online. I don't. I didn't think Metafilter as a site, did, either, what with the existing real names policy and members only, free form profile pages. This is a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad idea.
posted by Diablevert at 5:24 AM on July 8, 2013 [7 favorites]


I will wait until more moderators are online to address that idea directly and/or officially, Potomac Avenue, so I am speaking for myself here, but we are talking about a part of the site that exists for the sole purpose of making it easy for people to organize meetups, as a nice thing for the site to do for people who want to meet up, but since we don't have any kind of control or oversight of those meetups, expanding IRL to be a place where folks lodge accusations and defenses of each other about things that happen offsite is going way beyond a dynamic that we can even begin to imagine moderating.

As someone who works here, I'd beg Matt to dump that subsite before I'd be willing to try to even begin to deal with determining who is trolling, who is sincere but may be misreading the terms set down by any particular group, who is just having a bad day, who is joking, who is drunk, who is confused, who has crossed boundaries and in exactly what ways and what is okay for people (and not just the people who were there, but the whole site) to say or not say about all these possible combinations of interactions among specific people that I have absolutely zero first-hand knowledge of and no way to objectively determine anything about. I think if people want to adopt the "public discussion of meetup participants" model, they need to create their own local meetup discussion space for that purpose, because I can't see any way that we could officially manage that sort of thing here at all.

Again, I'm the only staff thing online at the moment, so these are just my own initial reactions. (But further consideration would probably make my brain asplode even more dramatically.)
posted by taz (staff) at 5:39 AM on July 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


I'll describe a thing that happens (but relatively rarely in my own experience): you go to shake hands with someone in the ordinary, expected way, and they covertly, suggestively stroke the inside of your palm or your wrist with a finger.

I did this to Al Gore at a campaign event in Indianapolis during the run-up to the 1992 election, in a crowd of people clamoring for handshakes. I wanted to be the one guy who made an impression on him. He looked at me like he'd been goosed and the security team quickly whisked him away.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 6:02 AM on July 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


ew
posted by taz (staff) at 6:03 AM on July 8, 2013 [9 favorites]


It was my brush with fame! Well, my middle finger's brush with the palm of fame's hand, anyway.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 6:04 AM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think the solution to the issue of inappropriate behaviour, and other moderation/management issues on the site, would be for Matt and the gang to create some public service announcement videos.

My preference would be for these videos to eschew professional actors and feature only the mods. And also, for added authenticity that they be filmed in the style of PSAs from the early 1970s. I personally find it hard to really take in the message unless someone has dodgy brown flares and a bouffant hairdo.

Appropriate and inappropriate behaviour in the videos should be signalled by using the sound cues from Family Feud.

I can't see how this wouldn't work.
posted by MuffinMan at 6:05 AM on July 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


No unwelcome physical contact. This includes everything from making sure someone would welcome hugs and/or handshaking to no sexual groping without the other person's specific permission.


A meetup where you have to explicitly request permission for a handshake sounds like the unfriendliest place ever.
posted by DWRoelands at 6:06 AM on July 8, 2013 [16 favorites]


Other than that I haven't been aware of any harassment at or stemming from meetups in the last couple of years--at least not by mefites. Nor have women drifted away leaving it just men attending, which IME happens when it is an unpleasantly unwelcome atmosphere for women.

Funny- I came in here to say... and this is not meant to reflect on that site as a whole, but... I went to a few Reddit NYC meetups when I first came to this city and BOY OH BOY DID I NOT FEEL COMFORTABLE THERE. As a matter of fact, I felt that every other person who talked to me was actively appraising whether or not I would be willing to kiss/sleep with/date/marry them, and one of them actually turned the meetup into a date without my knowledge*, then texted me for months afterwards asking "what he'd done" when I wised up and got the hell out of there.

It was terrible and I went to, like, two events and never went back.

I am not saying this in some spirit of "look at us, we're so much better than that!" Far from it. In fact I think my actual point is... I had no idea what to do in those situations. The concept of complaining to anyone didn't occur to me. I just gave up on the entire group and left without a word, because that was the only way for me to feel safe. If there had been some sort of statement as simple as "hey if someone makes you uncomfortable here, speak up!" then maybe I would have.

*If you're wondering how this is possible: Dude: "Do any of you guys want to grab another drink somewhere else?" Me: "Sure, I will!" Everyone else: "Nah, see you later!" As far as he was concerned, this was now a date. I didn't figure it out for half an hour.
posted by showbiz_liz at 6:16 AM on July 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


Metafilter itself has become a nice haven away from the baseline experience elsewhere on the internet where sexual harassment is the norm. I'd fully support efforts to extend this same inclusive atmosphere to the IRL events. Perhaps a good model would be something like what Tiny Fix Bike Gang has been doing, intentional inclusivity is awesome, and genuinely rare in IRL experiences.
posted by odinsdream at 6:24 AM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think the mods generally do an excellent* job moderating threads by applying broad principles via case-by-case judgment calls instead of strict adherence to a long list of rules and policies. I think that this flexible, human approach to moderation is one of the strengths that makes MetaFilter superior to most online communities.

Given that, if harassment at MeFi Meetups were to become a problem requiring a site response (and I still haven't seen anyone arguing that it already has?), I trust the mods to deal with it appropriately if/when it comes up. I don't want to precommit them to a course of action based on policies invented for hypothetical situations.

*I say this as someone who has almost certainly had an above-average number of my comments deleted over the years. I'm definitely not a Mods' Pet but I recognize that their moderation approach seems to do a good job serving the health of the overall community even if it doesn't always serve my own agenda.
posted by Jacqueline at 6:26 AM on July 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


one of them actually turned the meetup into a date without my knowledge*, then texted me for months afterwards asking "what he'd done" when I wised up and got the hell out of there.

This happened to me at another site's meetup and it's why I would never attend any meetups that had an expectation of me using my legal name, to address a point raised earlier.
posted by winna at 6:31 AM on July 8, 2013


MetaFilter: of course "stab them in the neck" is the obvious answer, but should it be official policy?
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 6:36 AM on July 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


Devo PSA
I've always believed this particular video clip addresses much about sexual harassment; music selection and peer group association, and perhaps appropriate bar attire.
Might be NSA or NSFW.

- I like the scene at 1:21. Makes it look like she has her face in a menu.
posted by buzzman at 7:01 AM on July 8, 2013


Taz- what you described, I've always heard referred to (aptly) as Creepytouch- as in "ew, you fuck, youjust creepytouched me!", and if someone were to deliberatley do it to me, I don't know how i'd react.

But sometimes when I shake hands with people I accidentally, I dunno, misfie or sometiming (I'm pretty uncoordinated- I get stuff all over my face any time I try to smell anything), and I accidentally brush their palm with a few fingers at the handshake's release, and then spend the rest of the day worrying that they might think I was trying to creepytouch them. Something similar happens sometimes when I have to give money or take change. So if there were some kind of consequences for that sort of thing, I would be 10 times more mortified than my socially awkward baseline of constant mortification, and it would be shitty.
posted by windykites at 7:13 AM on July 8, 2013


I'm a heavy metafilter user/IRL user/meetup attender and I Do Not Like this idea.
posted by phunniemee at 7:14 AM on July 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


This thread reinforces beliefs I have about the grossness and awkwardness of internet people. Not that they are all gross - but that enough are gross enough that we need to have a conversation about physical consent in the context of eating dim sum or going bowling.

I am not gross, and this conversation makes me very reluctant to meet any of you afk.
posted by Teakettle at 7:19 AM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I have been part of many online communities for many years where community pressure was a binding legal body, where the only administration was the threat of public callouts, creating an atmosphere of trust where users loaned each other tens of thousands of dollars and rented apartments together without ever meeting and other acts of faith, based simply on the power of reputation.

So, umm, I was wondering, Potomac Avenue... do you think I could, like, borrow some money?
posted by anotherpanacea at 7:23 AM on July 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


> It seems a bit excessive to try to apply the codes and sanctions you need for a fairly long, formal, professionally significant event to a short, informal, social gathering.

To me as well, and this whole discussion makes me less enthusiastic about attending meetups.
posted by languagehat at 7:25 AM on July 8, 2013 [22 favorites]


Don't worry, Teakettle, I think you've just ruled out the possibility of that ever happening.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:26 AM on July 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


I can't see any way that we could officially manage that sort of thing here at all.

Taz you and Diablevert raise fair objections, though to me not overweighing the benefit of shaming assholes that would occur every now and then. But I'm not talking about making any kind of announcement or official policy change, I'm just saying as a community member that I'd prefer, if someone gets harassed (sexually or otherwise) at a meetup, that they post it in the IRL thread to warn people rather than just tell their friends.

Is the official policy of Metafilter:

A: Don't post anything personal in an IRL thread, no exceptions for warnings or discussions about someone who did something inappropriate for any reason. If you do it, it will be deleted.

B: Case-by-case basis analysis of situations, some exceptions to no off-site activity discussion usually.

OR (my suggestion)

C. Public accountability recommended for extreme situations. When you go to a meetup, you are expected to not sexually harass anyone, otherwise your behavior could be mentioned in a discussion.

Or something else?
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:26 AM on July 8, 2013


In another universe, I've been in charge of pretty large volunteer-run shoestring-budget festival type events.

These particular events only work well if the paying guests chip in and help keep the place tidy. The old hands know this, but there are always newer folk who come in and assume that leaving their rubbish everywhere and complaining about missing loo roll is the order of the day.

As in the moderators/meetup situation, it's logistically impossible for organisers to enforce policy on this matter.

Thus, instead we just publicise the problem, and the solution. We talk about what makes a "good citizen" at one of our events. We talk about coming to the front desk to get more loo paper.

AND THIS WORKS.

Some people who might otherwise drop litter, don't; some people who drop litter are told to knock it off by their neighbours; some people who find litter pick it up and clear it away. Some people are better behaved than they might have been, and some people are better bystanders than they might have been.

You can't mandate culture, but you certainly can influence it for the better.
posted by emilyw at 7:29 AM on July 8, 2013 [13 favorites]


anotherpanacea: Only if you take W$OP and you promise to gamble it and pay me back 1% vig.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:29 AM on July 8, 2013


Basically what emilyw just said way more succinctly.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:30 AM on July 8, 2013


Yes, I have personally witnessed harassment at meetups, both of the persistent unwanted attention kind and the persistent unwanted groping/grabbing kind. I have also been told of other incidents. I would not consider it an epidemic but it's more than isolated incidents.

I believe this is a real problem but I don't have what would convince those asking for hard evidence. I think there's a norm against discussing bad behavior of people offline publicly here and that is going to limit awareness of any problems.

Even if you think an actual problem hasn't been demonstrated, I think it can be a good idea to make a proactive statement that certain behavior is not OK. Whether that comes in the form of policy or in some sort of community guideline or some other statement it can be a good idea.
posted by grouse at 7:31 AM on July 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


God forbid we experience any part of our lives without an Official Policy setting out acceptable behaviour. What do we look like, adults who can be expected to know how to comport ourselves appropriately?
posted by Dasein at 7:33 AM on July 8, 2013 [9 favorites]


Creepytouch

It's called "the feely handshake." Until now I'd never heard of it as an element of sexual harassment, just a kind of joy-buzzer we all carry at the ready. I have taken note of its creepy connotations, though, and will probably never deploy it again.

I will however remain proud that I gave Al Gore the feely handshake, because that's no small part of my identity. Sometimes I wonder if he ever dreams of me at night.

That was a joke.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 7:34 AM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Not to trivialize anyone's concerns (and I'm probably as far away from this kind of meetup as possible), but I would think twice about attending a meetup where NO SEXUAL GROPING is something that needs to be explicitly stated - it's a social affair, I don't care to socialize with people who need to be told this is not acceptable.

I think preemptive policy making for stuff like this is not a good idea, unless there has been a problem with it in the past. Besides the logistics issues that have come up, having a policy because other types of groups in other communities have had bad experiences implicitly suggests something to people who do not have the whole back-story: namely, we might not be the kind of group that will act virtuously on its own if left to its own resources. Virtuous communities best develop in places that right behavior isn't coerced, anyway, if that kind of scenario is possible. That's why attending meetings sounds less attractive to people with this kind of policy in place.

Not to overstate this, but we are progressively living in a society that feels the need to be overly secure because of a few bad apples, at the expense of letting people freely do the right thing. That being said, if we have had issues, then let's respond to it. But let's not assume that might be the case, because that's the big thing being discussed right now on the internet.
posted by SpacemanStix at 7:34 AM on July 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


You can write guidelines until you're blue in the face, and 10% of people who really care will read them. Everyone else will not read them, either because they aren't aware, they don't care, or they actively think they're stupid. If you put guidelines on an IRL page, they may or may not read them.

All this is a long way of saying that it would be easy for your average meetup to be composed of 90% people who have not read any guidelines about meetup behavior. Now, if they violate the standards, would anything different happen than what would happen in the self-nominated "Guardian Angel" scenario described by restless_nomad? Or, absent a Guardian Angel, pursuing enforcement help from the venue or city, or going home?

If one of those outcomes is always what would happen whether or not people have read the guidelines, and nothing different would happen, why are the guidelines needed?

I think emilyw has a good take on it - without any enforcement teeth or responsible parties, having guidelines becomes just an attempt to influence culture. Slow Food does this by endorsing a few principles that all chapters are supposed to govern themselves by: democracy, inclusivity, etc.

Essentially, stating that harassment is not OK would not do much other than perhaps support the kinds of people who read guidelines in being more assertive when the behavior pops up. I suppose that can't really hurt anything.

At the same time, I don't think we can really guarantee to those people that the meetup they attend will feature a majority of supportive guideline-readers. Remember that some meetups are very very small. And even large ones may not contain many of the MetaTalk Brigade. And if they attend and find that their experience included behavior outside the guidelines and the IRL contingent did not support their complaint, then what?
posted by Miko at 7:37 AM on July 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'd also like to point out that in addition to their generally successful efforts to mitigate the amount of non-constructive conflict in the public threads, the elder mods have a lot of experience quietly dealing with very serious issues (suicidal members, multi-thousand-dollar crisis relief funds, etc.) behind-the-scenes in such a way that most of us are never aware that such things are going on, much less sucked into the drama.

I wouldn't be surprised to learn that the mods have already quietly dealt with badtouch incidents and other forms of harassment at past MeFi Meetups. That they were able to resolve these situations without needing to make any sort of official announcement or the issue otherwise being hashed public is a feature, not a bug.

To borrow the phrasing of a popular meme, KEEP CALM AND TRUST THE MODS. :)
posted by Jacqueline at 7:42 AM on July 8, 2013


I've gone from being incredibly awkward about hugs to being okay with receiving them. I now even give hugs. Sometimes I wish people had t-shirts indicating their hug or no hug preferences.

I've not noticed any behavior at IRL events that I'd consider harassment and hope to not see any in the future. I've organized a couple of events and this discussion has got me trying to figure out if an event organizer has a special responsibility to those attending to make sure things are okay and safe. I'm also trying to figure out if this makes me want to organize an event less.

As for IRL events taking place in public, there are some that do not take place in public places. In the NYC area events take place with reasonable frequency in people's apartments.
posted by sciencegeek at 7:42 AM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


In the NYC area events take place with reasonable frequency in people's apartments.

The host is more clearly responsible for all standards of behavior in this instance, and is actually 100% empowered to throw someone out. State law often also implicates homeowners in later events resulting from alcohol or drug consumption in private homes, such as car accidents.
posted by Miko at 7:43 AM on July 8, 2013


"Be nice or leave" is a good rule. I've been to a lot of meetups and they tend to control themselves.

At least with the Houston-based meetups I've been to (including those involving ColdChef), I can't think that the "usual crowd" would hesitate to tell someone "yo, you're behaving unacceptably, it needs to stop or you need to leave."

... and I usually let someone else initiate the hug(s) as nobody wants to be That Guy...
posted by mrbill at 7:57 AM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Can I put in another plug for subsidiarity?

"A matter ought to be handled by the smallest, lowest, or least centralised authority capable of addressing that matter effectively."
posted by anotherpanacea at 7:58 AM on July 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


Is the official policy of Metafilter:

Why would it have to be an official policy?

Just put a standard disclaimer on IRL threads/discussions. "Anyone behaving inappropriately may be publicly discussed, mocked, or if necessary reported to the proper authorities by those attending the gathering, and others. In short, please behave."

Just as the meetups are gatherings of people who know each other through MeFi, there's nothing that says *those people* can't discuss and shame people who need to be.

This leaves MetaFilter Inc. LLC GmbH Heavy Industries in a "common carrier" state - not responsible for anything that happens at a meetup. I'm sure Matt wouldn't want to hear from a lawyer claiming that his site facilitated an assault/grope/rape/whatever.
posted by mrbill at 8:03 AM on July 8, 2013


B: Case-by-case basis analysis of situations, some exceptions to no off-site activity discussion usually.

This. MeFi moderation on this stuff is pretty much always on a case-by-case basis. Having name-and-shame even a tacitly approved part of the way IRL should or could function goes counter to how we expect this site to run and users to interact with each other. Talk to us if there is an "extreme situation" but don't expect us to adjust site etiquette and expectations because something happened at a meetup.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:05 AM on July 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


this discussion has got me trying to figure out if an event organizer has a special responsibility to those attending to make sure things are okay and safe

Everything I say here is intended to be read in the context of small casual meetup-type events; not to anything large or formal or involving money changing hands.

In my personal opinion, almost any event is better than no event; the attendees are responsible for their own safety, and it should be sufficient, as an organiser, to provide the bare minimum: publicize a place and time, show up, and don't go harassing people yourself.

If you want to do more than the bare minimum, then thinking about some of the following things may help to ward off problems (for you and the other attendees).

- are new people explicitly made welcome when they arrive?
- is my venue safe for vulnerable people to leave at the end of the event, preferably without having to accept lifts from strangers?
- what would I do, if someone came and reported harassment to me?
- what would I do if I observed an incident of harassment?
- what would I do if an unaccompanied minor arrived at the meetup?
- what if I suspect underage drinking? drug taking?

For that matter, it behooves all "bystanders" to think about these issues. Even if you're just an attendee at the meetup, you can still try and talk to new people, call a taxi for the shitfaced person, or butt into a conversation in which one party is obviously looking for a means of escape. This is really "handy life skills", not just "tools for meetup organisers".
posted by emilyw at 8:19 AM on July 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


Regarding a real name policy: if your username is something like asdfqwerty, I reserve the right to just call you George.
posted by desjardins at 8:25 AM on July 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


KATHLEEN: Well, he took her out in a buggy riding in the late afternoon without a chaperone and then, and then he refused to marry her!

SCARLETT: (whisper)...

KATHLEEN: No, but she was ruined just the same.

Rather setting rules for polite behavior at Meetups, maybe there should be assertiveness training and self-defense classes offered. Or charm school for Metfites. I've always thought I could make a bundle giving social graces lessons to the internet awkward.
posted by Ideefixe at 8:25 AM on July 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


I didn't make this clear in my earlier statements, so I'll say it again in a separate place:

My experience with meetups as being quite harassment-free is by no means the only experience or the only valid experience. I am always open to hearing that someone had been harassed or been made to feel uncomfortable or unsafe, and I am willing to do what I can to correct the problem and support the person in feeling comfortable or safe again at meetups to the best of my ability. If, for whatever reason, someone doesn't feel comfortable coming to me (if I've made them feel uncomfortable or I'm friends with the person involved) I would encourage them to talk to a moderator or someone else who who will be supportive to them, or do anything else that is within their capacity and seems like it would help the situation.
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:28 AM on July 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


I appreciate the desire for privacy from site users and that this is the long-time focus of the site. I would hope though that if someone had something really extremely crappy happen to them at a meet-up and reported it in the IRL thread that it wouldn't be deleted. It's understandable that you don't want to discuss hypotheticals, but there are some non-hypotheticals mentioned earlier in this thread.

If I went to a meetup and got drunk and spit in someones face for insulting the Washington Nationals (not very likely to happen because everyone loves the Nats obviously yalls) I have given up my expectation of privacy. I'm not saying the spittee would be justified in posting my SS# and address but saying "Potomac Avenue spittled on me last night, he is a spittler. Don't invite him to further meetups IMO" is not a breach of any rational person-to-person meeting sites' policy. And this example is pretty crappy because spitting on someone is much less awful than sexual harassment.

I would hope that Mat would reconsider having an IRL site if posts warning the community that members were groping people at meetups had to be deleted on a regular basis. I know that's not happening but I think it's worth considering given the above statements that these things are in fact already happening sometimes. In conclusion inclusiveness and privacy are not worth people getting groped on the reg.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:28 AM on July 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


what if i suspect.......drug taking ?


I think it behooves every responsible mefite to contact their local law enforcement in that situation.

Which leaves me, quonsar and a cat that accidentally signed up by trotting along a keyboard in 1999.
posted by sgt.serenity at 8:33 AM on July 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm thinking back to various times that mefites made other mefites uncomfortable that I personally know of (and which are a very very very very small percentage of overall mefite interactions), and I cannot think of any written policy that would have been likely to prevent any of them from happening.
posted by Greg Nog at 8:39 AM on July 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


What if someone won’t stop doing Monty Python bits, or Kids in the Hall? What if someone gets drunk and won’t stop trying to show off their rhyming skills? Of course "stab them in the neck" is the obvious answer

This is ridiculous. The obvious answer is to TRY TO KILL THEM WITH A FORKLIFT!
posted by octobersurprise at 8:41 AM on July 8, 2013 [8 favorites]


The baseline assumption that women are Moral and men are Creeps or Potential Creeps and guidelines must be in place for IRL Metafilter -- so much so that even a simple meet-up in a bar, with drinks and hormones and presumably an ability to use your wits and voice and common sense and righteous indignation and freeze-out face and Get Away From Me shout -- is completely depressing to me. I'm sorry I read this thread. It's like the young people's version of Get off my lawn.
posted by thinkpiece at 8:43 AM on July 8, 2013 [12 favorites]


Sorry I read this an indictment of men because of the harrassment at the conventions. I realize it's not. Still, weird.
posted by thinkpiece at 8:44 AM on July 8, 2013


Regarding a real name policy: if your username is something like asdfqwerty, I reserve the right to just call you George.

Yes, and since nobody came out and said it, I guess I will: Meetups are "IRL" (hence the site name), and while you don't HAVE to share your first name (legal, nickname, made-up, whatever) at the gathering, it is common to do so and not doing so is going to be weird. If you don't want to make IRL friends, I don't know why you'd want to come to a meetup.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:45 AM on July 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


I am not gross

Don't be silly. Of course you are. You're an internet person.
posted by radwolf76 at 8:46 AM on July 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


For the record, anyone is welcome to share any name they want with me, as I will probably forget it within seconds and call you by your username anyway so good luck to my vocal cords if your username is WQQQKKKLLLKKKQ
posted by Greg Nog at 8:47 AM on July 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


I, on the other hand will forget both your username and your actual name and just look uncomfortable when I am supposed to be using either.
posted by sciencegeek at 8:50 AM on July 8, 2013 [18 favorites]


This thread is making me uncomfortable. There's issues with rules about hugging and handshaking contrasted with 'jokes' about 'stabbing people in the neck' and 'running them over'. (I'm writing 'jokes' in quotes as these don't fit my definition of humorous). I think if the goal of this thread was to make Metafilter readers less likely to attend a real life meet up then that goal has most likely been accomplished.
posted by bquarters at 8:51 AM on July 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


Maybe we should just have two IRL subsites. One for folks with a sense of humor and one for folks without a sense of humor. Which group will receive the most neck stabbings? Only time will tell. HAMBURGER
posted by phunniemee at 8:56 AM on July 8, 2013 [12 favorites]


Also, can we plz bring back HAMBURGER? It's too early for lunch and I'm hungry. Thx.
posted by phunniemee at 8:57 AM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's interesting to observe different norms about names across different sites - I have friends from other sites with whom I've spent considerable time IRL whose legal names I don't know after twenty years. If someone wants to be called Mxyztplk I'd comply as long as they tell me how to say it.
posted by winna at 8:57 AM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


thinkpiece: Where are you getting this impression? I've seen almost as many mentions of women being the harassers as men in this thread when people have mentioned the gender(s) of the people involved in specific incidents. If I weren't on my phone I'd cite and link to specifics but you can look back through restless_nomad's and the young rope-rider's comments for examples.
posted by Jacqueline at 8:58 AM on July 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Isn't there a different set of expectations when going to a paid event run by an actual organization (sci-fi con, Excel training, Disneyland) versus a meetup? Which is basically a bunch of people meeting informally at a bar/restaurant/park, right?

In other words, if there was a MeFiCon 2013 that I paid to attend and that Mathowie Inc was profiting from, I'd expect an official policy. If I'm meeting a group of friends, coworkers, or fellow (hobby) enthusiasts on my own, I expect to be my own advocate and call out bad behavior with my own individual voice. If the discussion isn't my cup of tea (sex/politics/DIY chalkboard walls), I politely leave early. If I'm harassed and feel threatened, I go to the restaurant manager/bouncer/police.
posted by kimberussell at 9:07 AM on July 8, 2013 [8 favorites]


It's understandable that you don't want to discuss hypotheticals, but there are some non-hypotheticals mentioned earlier in this thread.

Yep, we are seriously not going to discuss them and we can each hope for the outcome we want if this sort of thing happens. Case-by-case is all we're going to go on the record as supporting.

We've definitely had some non-meetup related real life MeFite interactions which turned into bad on-site interactions and our usual approach is to tell people to keep their real life shit off of the site no matter what the circumstances of it were. Which is not to say that we expect people who have bad interactions to just shut up and not talk about it, especially if people feel harassed and/or bullied, but that we expect people to interact with each other decently on this site and even reporting of bad interactions would need to happen with that sort of thing in mind. The site rules don't get suspended because something bad happened.

I would hope that Mat would reconsider having an IRL site if posts warning the community that members were groping people at meetups had to be deleted on a regular basis.

I appreciate that some people enjoy thinking about these hypothetical alternate-universe situations for abstract reasons but we-as-mods are not going to really even engage with this level of what-iffery.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:17 AM on July 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


At the same time, I don't think we can really guarantee to those people that the meetup they attend will feature a majority of supportive guideline-readers. Remember that some meetups are very very small.

This is a really good point. I have a fellow mefite friend, and she came to town to visit me. During that time we hung out with a couple of other mefites. At no point was an official meetup organized, and nor was anything posted on IRL. (Mainly because we also had another non-mefite with us and didn't want to overwhelm her with Metafilter Stuff during the whole trip, though of course we managed to anyway, and welp sorry we didn't invite anyone who maybe wanted to hang out I guess?)

It could have happened that someone at one of these impromptu metafilter-tangential hangouts could have felt harassed. During the time that we spent together, intense political arguments were had. Part of a hangout took place at a pool party where there was swimming and bathing suit wearing, which, Oh My. Another part of this rolling citywide impromptu meetup involved frank talk about sex. There was a whole lot of drinking.

So what happens if one of the mefites at a small and mostly unofficial gathering like this feels harassed? Should that person take it to a mod? What is their recourse? And should larger and slightly more official gatherings have a more organized policy on this than smaller and less official meetups do? Does it matter if a gathering is open to the public vs. invite only? Does the venue matter?
posted by Sara C. at 9:23 AM on July 8, 2013


Just a note for all the people who are concerned about this conversation that it is a perfectly natural thing to occur. There have been a large number of high traffic posts recently about harassment and policies relating to it so it is something on MetaFilter's collective mind. Having someone ask, "Hey, should this apply to us?" is natural, even if the answer is "no."

Also note that the official position is that there will be no official changes made. All the talk you see here is mostly going to be people hashing out their own thoughts about things they may have not thought about before.
posted by charred husk at 9:30 AM on July 8, 2013 [9 favorites]


During the time that we spent together, intense political arguments were had. Part of a hangout took place at a pool party where there was swimming and bathing suit wearing, which, Oh My. Another part of this rolling citywide impromptu meetup involved frank talk about sex. There was a whole lot of drinking.

I saw this episode of Mad Men!
posted by desjardins at 9:31 AM on July 8, 2013 [7 favorites]


So what happens if one of the mefites at a small and mostly unofficial gathering like this feels harassed? Should that person take it to a mod? What is their recourse?

They can speak up, ask the group for the help, appeal to the venue owners or the police.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:44 AM on July 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


Exactly, and all of which are along the lines of what I'd expect at any social gathering, regardless of how I knew the attendees. So I sort of feel like most meetups should fall in line with that basic social contract of attending any social event.

But I'm not opposed to a "play nice" reminder on some level, when meetups are officially organized through the IRL subsite.

I just don't think it can realistically be more than a "play nice" reminder.
posted by Sara C. at 9:51 AM on July 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


If I have a meetup at my houses, you are all welcome to wear bathing suits if you want, because you will look very silly swimming in your spats and ties and evening gowns.* Or you could skinny dip. We have bushes that are almost high enough to protect you from prying eyes. Enough for plausible deniability if the cops were called in, anyway. Though, honestly? The cops around here would probably want to join in.

Also, GregNog, if we ever meet you can call me by my cat's name if you want because I am not good at remembering names either but we can definitely remember that MAINE COONS ARE AWESOME! THEY ARE BEST CATS. YES THEY ARE!

Also also if I ever go to a meetup with shakespeherian I expect to have various Choose Your Own Adventure options to explore there (voted and then agreed upon, of course, by popular consensus).

*in my mind you are all dressed either as Mad Men or Boardwalk Empire characters all day ev'ry day. I find this utterly charming. Please do not disillusion me.
posted by misha at 10:02 AM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've gone from being incredibly awkward about hugs to being okay with receiving them. I now even give hugs. Sometimes I wish people had t-shirts indicating their hug or no hug preferences.

Like this?
posted by Secretariat at 10:05 AM on July 8, 2013


Also also if I ever go to a meetup with shakespeherian I expect to have various Choose Your Own Adventure options to explore there

If you decide to go home early because you have a baby, turn to page 83.
If you decide to go home early because you woke up at 4am today and are falling asleep, turn to page 120.
If you decide to go home early because you can no longer awkward side-hug Spiffy and you are sad, turn to page 142.
posted by phunniemee at 10:09 AM on July 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


Convention harassment policies were created to address a problem. And now that the policies exist, many people who are harassed have used these policies to report harassment or involve the convention staff in some way. The result (in a best case scenario) is that people feel safer at conventions, and they know that their complaints will be taken seriously.

Do we expect the same results from a Metafilter harassment policy?

Some people have stated that harassment or unwelcome behavior sometimes happens at meetups, and I believe them. But have there been situations where the problem was not resolved by those involved, where a policy would've helped them resolve it? Have any of the people involved in these situations requested a policy?

Guidelines for reporting egregious behavior is one of the most important parts of a convention harassment policy. But there's no authority at meetups, so we haven't really focused on reporting. Instead, the suggestions so far have focused on appropriate behavior. Most of the suggestions seem like common sense, and I don't think they need to be explicitly stated beyond a general "please be nice and respect each other" reminder.

If someone is familiar enough with Metafilter that they're going to meetups, they should know what sort of behavior is expected from members.
posted by mokin at 10:19 AM on July 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


Sometimes I wish people had t-shirts indicating their hug or no hug preferences.

Perhaps… a sign… of some kind…
posted by Nomyte at 10:25 AM on July 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


The important thing is I always go home early.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:27 AM on July 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


It's a well-intentioned idea, but it would be useless without some way to enforce it. Instituting an enforcement body would change the site considerably: There would be fewer meetups, and the remaining ones would be less casual. The body could only work in certain locations at certain times. Mods would have to pay equal attention to users' behavior online and off.

Meetups are now less organized than conventions, so we can't solve problems common to both with a tool that requires a more centralized authority.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 10:29 AM on July 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


*ORDER NOW* new mintcake brand Hug Permission Booths - guaranteed to be staffed with a 100% disinterested NYU theater student. Will fit easily into your bar/restaurant/photo booth/overpriced tourist record store. (NOTE: record shopper dudes will NOT want to shake your hand at all ever, so don't even bother.)
posted by mintcake! at 10:30 AM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


If I ever go to a meetup, I will try to wear a t-shirt that says "No hug zone. You people are germy."

(Then promptly go home and make notes for another chapter of the book "How to win enemies and alienate people" that I have been intensely researching for years, starting with 22 months of public withdrawal from prescription medication.)
posted by Michele in California at 10:30 AM on July 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


Michele, FWIW I have extended my hand for a handshake and been told "Hey, I hate germs" or "I'm not into handshakes, man" or some such before and it has not made me stampy or sad so far as I can tell. I kind of appreciate that level of honesty, honestly. Rock on.
posted by mintcake! at 10:34 AM on July 8, 2013


When someone won't shake your hand, it usually means they just shook hands with Lorenzo Lamas and don't want to share the Lamas-germs.
posted by Mister_A at 10:38 AM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


My default personality is very "Group Hug!!!!!" I think it makes it hard for people to not feel weird about "Please don't touch me!"

Anyway, I hardly slept last night. So I had big plans to stay out of this thread today. Sigh.

Oh, look, I think I have a blog that needs my attention.

Later guise.
posted by Michele in California at 10:38 AM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


It seems to me that this discussion is not much different from one I had many years ago with a few friends: we collectively agreed that sometimes our needs (for space, for silence, for hugging or not hugging, etc) might not always overlap, but that we would extend each other the care and concern to vocalize our needs and to not demand explanations as to why, in that moment, someone needed something to happen (or stop happening). Vocalizing our needs, as a largely online community, can be done via a code of IRL conduct (based on mutual respect), and enforced by all of us as members of this community. An example from my old group of friends (with whom I'm still very close) is that - as an introvert - I sometimes would suddenly find myself overwhelmed by social time and need to go home. Following the aforementioned conversation, I knew that I could go to any one of my friends and quietly ask to be taken home and that there would be no judgment or cajoling, just that what I needed would happen.

I may be missing the point of specifically broaching the topic of sexual harassment, but I do think that we could collectively decide on how we wish to have members of our community treated IRL, no?

*looks down, kicks at floor, feels awkward*
posted by pammeke at 10:42 AM on July 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


is that - as an introvert - I sometimes would suddenly find myself overwhelmed by social time and need to go home.

I'd like to state, for those who might not be active meetup attenders, that the metafilter people I've met in real life have been some of the most accepting, inclusive, friendly, non-judgmental, cool-with-your-awkwardness people I've ever met. For sure here in the Chicago crowd, and it was the same when I visited London.

I am one of those people who has a social time limit, and occasionally the overwhelmed-by-people point kind of jumps up out of nowhere. I have, on at least one occasion but I think probably a couple times, just stood up and left a meetup with "I don't feel like talking to people anymore, good bye" as an excuse. No one cares. No one even seemed to think it was weird. You are at a meetup with people who self-select to socialize online. They are all weird, too.

If you are avoiding meetups because you're afraid you'll be the awkward one, please don't. We're all the awkward one. And we'd love to be your friend.

The idea of even needing some sort of site policy on IRL behavior policing is just boggling to me, because if I were to graph Groups of People I Know vs. Likelihood That They Will Intentionally Make Folks Uncomfortable, metafilter wouldn't even register a blip.
posted by phunniemee at 10:51 AM on July 8, 2013 [36 favorites]


Yeah, meetups as a general rule are pretty laid-back, you-can-be-your-awkward-self endeavors, which is one of the things I generally really value about them.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:53 AM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


*ORDER NOW* new mintcake brand Hug Permission Booths - guaranteed to be staffed with a 100% disinterested NYU theater student. Will fit easily into your bar/restaurant/photo booth/overpriced tourist record store.

We scour the world for the finest fragrances: camphor, oud resin, lovely opopanax. MINTCAKE! AFFECTIONS — make them your own.
posted by Nomyte at 11:09 AM on July 8, 2013


I'm with the camp that thinks that IRL creepy behaviour is unlikely to be prevented with site policies or notices and that there are definite potential downsides to having a bullet point list of unwanted behaviours or the like linked to the IRL meetup page. I don't think these potential problems can be really be solved with Mefi-mediated actions. Bad social behaviour happens at work functions, university outings etc etc and it's not the specific interest shared by attendees that bears any responsibility.

We have general social/legal contracts with each other, as members of society at large, that silently (and in statutes) state that groping or creeping people out is wrong/illegal/poor form/forbidden. I'm tempted to say something about preventive behaviour (stiking to a group or at least another attendee one has reason to believe is a good person) but it feels a bit paternalistic, like saying 'dress modestly' or something. I don't know what else there is other than to address any issues as they arise. It's a police matter on one hand, perhaps, but maybe it's also something that all attendees should simply bear in mind with each bearing a little responsibility to watch out for their neighbour. It's a hard unsolvable subject.
posted by peacay at 11:09 AM on July 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


t there are definite potential downsides to having a bullet point list of unwanted behaviours or the like linked to the IRL meetup page

Yeah, and as much as I'm not opposed to guidelines in spirit, if the mods contemplated ever building any such guidelines into the site MeFi, it would be a good idea to run it by their legal consult first. I just think it's within the realm of possible that the more prescriptive the site/company is about the nature of meetups, the more responsibility they could be seeming to accept as an organizing body. I tend to think a disclaimer that meetups are voluntary and the particpant's own risk and that MetaFilter takes no responsibility for anything that happens at unofficial, member-organized events may be the only way to go in this instance.
posted by Miko at 11:16 AM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Wiki, though, could be a good place to capture suggestions for how to have a good, safe, fun meetup, which members would contribute from their own volition.
posted by Miko at 11:18 AM on July 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


Meetups are "IRL" (hence the site name), and while you don't HAVE to share your first name (legal, nickname, made-up, whatever) at the gathering, it is common to do so and not doing so is going to be weird.

This is overstating it a little, I think, though I suppose it depends on the specific crowd dynamic. I haven't been to too many meetups where someone was conspicuously cagey about their identity, but I've been to plenty where someone introduced themselves by username and that was that and that was fine.

(I'll usually ask someone their username if they start with their real name anyway, because I find usernames a lot easier to remember and distinguish between and also there's like five million motherfuckers in Portland named Chris.)
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:31 AM on July 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Well of objectionable users runs dry, pitchfork industry faced with closure, film at 11.
posted by sgt.serenity at 11:35 AM on July 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


MetaFilter: Five Million Motherfuckers in Portland.
posted by Mister_A at 11:37 AM on July 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Well of objectionable users runs dry, pitchfork industry faced with closure, film at 11.

At least try to show good faith.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 11:45 AM on July 8, 2013


misha: "If I have a meetup at my houses, you are all welcome to wear bathing suits if you want, because you will look very silly swimming in your spats and ties and evening gowns.* Or you could skinny dip. We have bushes that are almost high enough to protect you from prying eyes. Enough for plausible deniability if the cops were called in, anyway. Though, honestly? The cops around here would probably want to join in. "

It's like my Worst Nightmare Meetup.

You show up and you're the only one not wearing any clothes. Except for the cops.
posted by zarq at 12:01 PM on July 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Well of objectionable users runs dry, pitchfork industry faced with closure, film at 11.

Lots of pitch to fork, yet. Not until the instinct to shake hands has been beaten/shamed out of people.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:02 PM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


A party without at least 3 beatings/shamings is a very dull affair.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:13 PM on July 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


You would like my meetups then, Brandon.
posted by desjardins at 12:15 PM on July 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


Judging from the NSFW videos floating around the web, I'm not sure.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:19 PM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Aren't there two different issues here? Miko wrote this:

"Essentially, stating that harassment is not OK would not do much other than perhaps support the kinds of people who read guidelines in being more assertive when the behavior pops up. I suppose that can't really hurt anything."

...and I pretty much agree with her. There's the issue of "policy" and "enforcement" and such, and basically, as I read the discussion, the consensus is that this is untenable or impossible or unwise.

However, I think the issue of encouraging or making explicit a community ethos that harassment at meetups is not okay is separate and isn't dependent upon policy or enforcement. And I would go much farther than Miko about this — not only would this not really hurt anything, but it could be a big help.

What's really important in making a difference about harassment is a sense of empowerment as opposed to silence and people looking away and pretending it doesn't happen. In this thread there's exhibited a strong presumption by many people that harassment at meetups "isn't a problem" and that's a problem.

An argument that I think some are making is that in the absence of explicit policy and authority and enforcement it's not possible for a community to reduce this sort of thing. And, sure, without enforcement it's more difficult. But so much of what happens is stuff that is below the level at which enforcement would likely be invoked, anyway. That is to say, the difference between a community that is comfortable and one that is not is about all the lower-level stuff that is much more frequent. And that can be reduced by community pressure, by increasing awareness and making sure that people know that it's okay with other people if they speak up when they feel uncomfortable at a meetup.

Our talking about it here, and perhaps some kind of statement elsewhere, and our continuing to talk about it, will help nurture a social environment where, when someone is feeling harassed, they won't feel like they have to suffer through it in silence because they'll know it's not "normal" and they'll know that other people are more likely to take their concerns seriously. There's no magic bullet and these changes can't be made to happen instantaneously everywhere, but talking about this and taking small steps to increase the visibility of the idea that harassment isn't okay within this community is how we get from here to there.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 12:19 PM on July 8, 2013 [10 favorites]


Our talking about it here, and perhaps some kind of statement elsewhere, and our continuing to talk about it, will help nurture a social environment where, when someone is feeling harassed, they won't feel like they have to suffer through it in silence because they'll know it's not "normal" and they'll know that other people are more likely to take their concerns seriously. There's no magic bullet and these changes can't be made to happen instantaneously everywhere, but talking about this and taking small steps to increase the visibility of the idea that harassment isn't okay within this community is how we get from here to there.

I totally agree, and I think this is what I was trying to express in my earlier comment.
posted by showbiz_liz at 12:40 PM on July 8, 2013


This thread has convinced me that I should never attend a meetup without my attorney present. As my attorney, he will advise me when to take a hit out of the little brown bottle in his shaving kit.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:41 PM on July 8, 2013 [9 favorites]


Judging from the NSFW videos floating around the web , I'm not sure.

You really had me worried there for a second.
posted by desjardins at 12:52 PM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


However, I think the issue of encouraging or making explicit a community ethos that harassment at meetups is not okay is separate and isn't dependent upon policy or enforcement. And I would go much farther than Miko about this — not only would this not really hurt anything, but it could be a big help.

How would this be done? Not everybody reads the grey. What are you picturing when you talk about this? I just....I'm having a hard time picturing how one would establish a clear and explicit "don't harass people and feel free to speak up if you are harassed" either before an event is held or at the start of an event that wouldn't be....off-putting, is I guess the word I'll use.
posted by Diablevert at 12:58 PM on July 8, 2013


Note: You're going to see these people in real life, so don't be a jerk.
posted by phunniemee at 1:00 PM on July 8, 2013 [7 favorites]


Business idea: an app that lets you find other people who consent to a handshake. Bonus: select the kind of shake and duration (using a cool radial slider) you prefer. I call it Shakr. Handshakr. hndshk.
posted by michaelh at 1:04 PM on July 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


I call it Shakr. Handshakr. hndshk.

Tht's s ld schl. Cll t shkr.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:05 PM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


So, to boil this all down to something memorable and broadly applicable: should I run into any of y'all IRL, it's fist bumps or high fives, not booty bumps in smoky dives, right?
posted by paulsc at 1:07 PM on July 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


How would this be done? Not everybody reads the grey. What are you picturing when you talk about this? I just....I'm having a hard time picturing how one would establish a clear and explicit "don't harass people and feel free to speak up if you are harassed" either before an event is held or at the start of an event that wouldn't be....off-putting, is I guess the word I'll use.

Well... whenever you make a post on Metafilter, it says under the comment field "Note: Help maintain a healthy, respectful discussion by focusing comments on the issues, topics, and facts at hand—not at other members of the site." Is that off-putting? Could something similar appear under the comment boxes for IRL events? Right now it says "Note: You're going to see these people in real life" which I can't tell if that's a "be nice" or just a joke or something...
posted by showbiz_liz at 1:07 PM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


"I haven't been to too many meetups where someone was conspicuously cagey about their identity, but I've been to plenty where someone introduced themselves by username and that was that and that was fine. "

It's happened a couple of times at meetups I've gone to, and it's odd, but not really all that super weird for a bunch of internet people meeting, you know? I can only think of a couple of times when a meetup has had someone who was being weird in an uncool way, but those were mild and the person who was being weird didn't really come back.
posted by klangklangston at 1:08 PM on July 8, 2013


I've only been to a few meetups (five, I think, but in four different cities) and I'm not sure if anyone I've met only used their username, but I'm sure that I wouldn't think it odd. I'd first think they were just offering the name I'd recognize and, later, if I noticed they'd never given their IRL name, I'd just figure they were keeping the two separate. Which seems completely fine to me. I'm surprised that anyone would think otherwise.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 1:13 PM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think the simplest solution is to prohibit alcohol at IRL events.

The Dutch meets would be buggered then.
posted by MartinWisse at 1:19 PM on July 8, 2013


i thought booze often preceded buggering.
posted by nadawi at 1:30 PM on July 8, 2013


Don't be so high school.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:48 PM on July 8, 2013


Everyone at Chicago meetups knows my real name but they call me shakes anyway because my real name is boring.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:50 PM on July 8, 2013


Shake hands? Everyone cool is using the terrorist fist jab.
posted by Area Man at 1:51 PM on July 8, 2013


Everyone at Chicago meetups knows my real name but they call me shakes anyway because my real name is boring.

To be fair, if I was named 'boring' I wouldn't want people using my real name either
posted by showbiz_liz at 1:52 PM on July 8, 2013 [12 favorites]


But it's memorable!
posted by shakespeherian at 1:52 PM on July 8, 2013


Is it Bo? Bo Ring?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:54 PM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I have now skimmed this whole thread and am feeling very meh about calling meetups. And all the meetups I've been to have been fun and (insofar as I've noticed) not at all creepy.
posted by immlass at 2:22 PM on July 8, 2013


Everyone at Chicago meetups knows my real name but they call me shakes anyway because my real name is boring.

Having an actual name (but not my actual name) as my screen name has caused occasional confusion at meet-ups. First, I identify myself as Elsa, then as my real name, then add "But I'll answer to either" or "Either is fine."

At the last meet-up, I did this to a long-time local MeFite whom I had never managed to meet before, so we know each other by screen name but not by face. She was silent for a moment before she said ".... You've just turned my world sideways."

Also at the last meet-up, a MeFite I'd never met in person showed up and I offered first my hand to shake, then I asked "Or do we hug?" He said something like "Um, okay," and I hugged him before realizing that "Um, okay" sounds more like trapped politeness than enthusiastic assent.

I still feel kinda bad about that, so I'm reminding myself to be more attentive to subtly stated boundaries in the future. I will Be The Change that I'd like to see in the meet-up.

posted by Elsa at 2:28 PM on July 8, 2013


Our talking about it here, and perhaps some kind of statement elsewhere, and our continuing to talk about it, will help nurture a social environment

For some, I hope so. But others have said in this thread that the more explicitly we make the need to talk about these issues, the less inclined they'll feel to propose or attend meetups. (And it should go without saying, this doesn't appear to be because they were planning to harass people.) I'm not sure what to do about that fact—because I agree with you about the potential upside of having the talk—but it's part of the calculus.

There's a lot of talk in this thread about awkwardness, and I wonder if there's anything to the idea that meetups are, to some extent, geared specifically for awkwards. The username issue makes me think that especially; in most social situations, introducing yourself as Captain Rectangle in anything more than a passing sense ("...ha, but really I'm John, nice to meet you!") would result in ostracization. And if creating that dynamic is sufficiently important, then maybe it's considered an acceptable trade-off that some non-awkwards will feel less inclined to participate. They (we) already have plenty of socializing opportunities, after all.
posted by cribcage at 2:36 PM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Awkwards unite! We have nothing to lose but our rectangles!
posted by sciencegeek at 2:38 PM on July 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


We have nothing to fear but fear itself. And evil clowns. And giant centipedes in our beds.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:41 PM on July 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


I hate it when the giant centipedes hog the pillows.
posted by sciencegeek at 2:42 PM on July 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


NSFbeingabletosleeptonight
posted by phunniemee at 2:43 PM on July 8, 2013


Piping up in case I'm not the only one: this conversation is making me more likely to finally attend a meet-up. Just the fact that it's happening, and the way it's happening. Being reminded that even the cool-awkwards are awkwards is pleasant.

Yes, despite the talk of giant centipedes. And the fact that someone here gave Al Gore the creepy handshake.

Also, I like hugs. Even awkward hugs (YetAnotherMadMenReference).
posted by pammeke at 2:45 PM on July 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


A meetup where you have to explicitly request permission for a handshake sounds like the unfriendliest place ever.

Really? I always request permission for handshakes. I do it by putting my hand out to shake someone else's hand. If they don't shake it they haven't given permission.

Maybe a lot of people haven't dealt with the hand-grab in which case I count you lucky. But being respectful of people's physical boundaries isn't some huge imposition.
posted by phearlez at 2:47 PM on July 8, 2013


in most social situations, introducing yourself as Captain Rectangle in anything more than a passing sense ("...ha, but really I'm John, nice to meet you!") would result in ostracization

That neglects the angle that in most social situations, there'd be no reason for someone to recognize "Captain Rectangle" as a meaningful signifier. Folks at mefi meetups don't mention their usernames because they think the default social behavior when meeting someone is to use a pseudonym; they mention their usernames because they've participated together in a social context wherein that's the name they're known as.

I go to a meetup and introduce myself as "Josh", people are like, hey, nice to meet you. I say "cortex", they're like, oh, right, you. And vice versa. That's incidental to any issue of awkwardness or social disposition; conflating the two makes no sense unless it's in service of purposefully conflating using the internet with a fundamental idea of poor socialization, basically.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:47 PM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I hate it when the giant centipedes hog the pillows.

Even worse is when they hog the whole bed...
posted by Gygesringtone at 2:47 PM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


When people who don't really know me decide I need an unrequested hug, I assume they're leaning in to offer me their wallet. Everyone needs their pocket picked.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:49 PM on July 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


they mention their usernames because they've participated together in a social context wherein that's the name they're known as.

Hence, "in anything more than a passing sense." We may have reason for introducing ourselves using our usernames; but that's very different from, once the social context has moved from online interaction to a more everyday face-to-face dynamic, introducing ourselves as our usernames.

Maybe I'm an outlier in finding nothing noteworthy about saying, "Yeah...Captain Rectangle, that's me, ha. The name's John. Nice to meet you!", but finding tremendously unusual the idea that somebody would introduce himself, "I'm Captain Rectangle. Nice to meet you!" Those two seem quite different to me.
posted by cribcage at 3:01 PM on July 8, 2013


Maybe I'm an outlier in finding nothing noteworthy about saying, "Yeah...Captain Rectangle, that's me, ha. The name's John. Nice to meet you!", but finding tremendously unusual the idea that somebody would introduce himself, "I'm Captain Rectangle. Nice to meet you!" Those two seem quite different to me.

There's a Chicago mefite I've known for several years now who is absolutely lovely and who I think is just super awesome. I didn't know what her real name was until just a few months ago when facebook suggested I be friends with her based on mutual friendships. She just goes by a shortened version of her username.

Actually, there are several Chicago people who go by their username or a version of it. And others are called by their real name and username pretty interchangeably.

Maybe it's just a Chicago thing, but it's so accepted no one even blinks. I'm actually having trouble imaging a metafilter gathering where it would be unusual.
posted by phunniemee at 3:07 PM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Hence, "in anything more than a passing sense."

Well, and this may just be a reflection of how bad I am with names in the first place, but putting me in the position of memorizing a bunch of new names vs. just recognizing names I'm already familiar with is a sort of accidental unkindness that far outstrips the value of social normalcy that comes with presuming real names will be used as much and as soon as possible.

And I don't think in the broadest sense we really disagree that much—I don't go around introducing myself to strangers who have no use for a mefi handle as "cortex"—but there's more than glancing reasons for people who know each other by nicknames to continue using those nicknames even face-to-face. Familiarity and context have value; certainly there are plenty of non-internet nicknames that get used as common currency among people who know one another by those names, even if they wouldn't use those with other unrelated groups of people.

People call themselves what they like, and call each other what they know. At this point I know the actual first names of pretty much all the Portland meetup regulars but good lord it took me a while and it's still totally normal in the group to call someone by their username even if everybody knows you probably know their real name. Which, again, maybe just a different-crowds thing, but I view with suspicion the notion of viewing with suspicion the use of usernames when interacting with people you'd most likely know by their usernames.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:13 PM on July 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


FWIW, exactly this has happened in meetups for online communities I've been in before with anonymous or semi-anonymous membership: some people declined to give other names, and were known only by their fiction suit names, although they were in a minority. Some gave first names or full names, and were referred to by their "real" names or fiction suit names pretty much according to personal taste. Some people had really good Internet names, which never shifted.

Generally, as you got to know people better and hang with them more often, you started normalizing on regular name, because you might need to introduce them to groups of friends outside the community more often...
posted by running order squabble fest at 3:19 PM on July 8, 2013


I do understand that this community method of self-policing behavior at meetups COULD be used to unfairly smear someone. But, heck, so can regular old talkin-behind-someone's-back.

Except that "regular old talkin-behind-someone's-back" isn't indexed by Google until the end of time.
posted by Celsius1414 at 3:35 PM on July 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


"I go to a meetup and introduce myself as "Josh", people are like, hey, nice to meet you. I say "cortex", they're like, oh, right, you. And vice versa."

The exact same thing happens when I introduce myself as "cortex."
posted by klangklangston at 3:53 PM on July 8, 2013 [7 favorites]


You don't even want to know what happened that time I accidentally called my wife klangklangston.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:58 PM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I always mean to take nametags to meetups and I never remember. But then we have a few beers and it all works out.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:00 PM on July 8, 2013


I like going to meetups and introducing myself by my username. It was a happy accident.
posted by iamkimiam at 4:01 PM on July 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


When people who don't really know me decide I need an unrequested hug, I assume they're leaning in to offer me their wallet. Everyone needs their pocket picked.

Well how else will they learn?
posted by tomboko at 4:02 PM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm pretty attached to my username here (even if does lead to the awkward "hi, I'm Mike McNamara / what's your username? / um, kinda but not exactly that thing I just said" exchange*), but I was ever going to rebrand myself, "fiction suit name" would now be my first choice.

* phunniemee is proved right; I can be awkward about anything and Chicago is pretty nice to me anyway.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 4:09 PM on July 8, 2013


"You don't even want to know what happened that time I accidentally called my wife klangklangston."

"You've flagged it, honey, now can we move on?"

Or were you just confronted with a sex act you found implausible, illegal and slightly arousing?
posted by klangklangston at 4:11 PM on July 8, 2013


Maybe it's just a Chicago thing, but it's so accepted no one even blinks.

Nope. One time, I was in Seattle and there was a small not-exactly-a-meetup (though it was all mefites) at the cask beer fest, and because I spend all my time talking to and referring to these folks by their usernames, I found myself calling them by their usernames out loud, where non-mefites could hear! So I'd be all "Hey corpse, did you like that beer from [brewery]?"

A mefite friend came to visit recently, and I had to remember to introduce her to non-mefite friends by her actual name, and not her handle. And when mrzarquon comes to visit, he is pretty much always called mrz.

I'm pretty sure that I've called grouse "grouse" when we've met face to face.

On preview, klangklangston is also "klang," but that's partly because we have a lot of Joshes here.
posted by rtha at 4:12 PM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


mrzarquon comes to visit, he is pretty much always called mrz

mrzarquon used to be in my phone as Chris Zarquon before I knew what his actual last name was.
posted by grouse at 4:18 PM on July 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


Re usernames, I feel like it depends on exactly how many people are at the event.

The big meetup in Brooklyn I went to last summer? So many people, and in a noisy bar, so I pretty much just thought of everyone as their username.

The meetup where carsonb invited everyone to his house to fry stuff? I finally kinda-sorta started remembering people by their real name.

The mefites I've gotten to know well enough to hang out one on one? They just become their real name. Though at least one person is in my phone contacts as [Firstname] Metafilter, because I don't know her last name and had to put something down.
posted by Sara C. at 4:31 PM on July 8, 2013


The meetup where carsonb invited everyone to his house to fry stuff?

WHAT?! WHEN WAS THIS? WHY WAS I NOT THERE?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:33 PM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Aside from not living anywhere near there.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:34 PM on July 8, 2013


I look forward to attending a meetup in the future and being addressed as "Octorok" by straight-faced adults of sound mind, I promise not to stab anybody in the neck, and I hope the in-progress Bay Area Meetup thread over on IRL settles on a date and venue before California slides into the sea.
posted by prize bull octorok at 4:37 PM on July 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


I call all the mefites I know by their mefite handles when talking to other mefites so...all the time.

mrzarquon used to be in my phone as Chris Zarquon before I knew what his actual last name was.

My boyfriend is in my phone as his username. Lots of people have the last name Metafilter. Awwww.
posted by the young rope-rider at 4:45 PM on July 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


I am one of those people who has a social time limit, and occasionally the overwhelmed-by-people point kind of jumps up out of nowhere. I have, on at least one occasion but I think probably a couple times, just stood up and left a meetup with "I don't feel like talking to people anymore, good bye" as an excuse. No one cares. No one even seemed to think it was weird.

The problem with this thread -- and I'm not calling out the poster of this, at all, since I admire and respect this poster and am usually totally on board with their perspective -- the problem is thinking this is NOT NORMAL. Who isn't like that? Who doesn't want to at some point bail, to want to return to your comfort zone, your interior life, your four walls. This is NORMAL. This is how social interactions are. One has one's limit, and one's limit is typically tacitly understood and accepted. It's not snowflakey, ok? It's just HOW THINGS GO. You go out, you have fun, people are interesting for a while, people act like jerks for a while, you stay for one drink too many, you get bored or pissed off, you go home. We don't have to name it "social time limit." It's just time to split, that's all it is.
posted by thinkpiece at 4:47 PM on July 8, 2013 [9 favorites]


And others are called by their real name and username pretty interchangeably.

This is pretty much the norm with my social group, even though when we first started hanging out, we all knew each other's names. It was sort of an unwritten rule that if you wanted to be taken seriously at RASFWRJ, you used your name, not "Rand al Thor9876" or whatever. Then USENET shat the bed, and we all wandered over to a place that required pseudonyms, and we started using those interchangeably with actual names. (Though who uses which for whom seems to depend on level of alcohol saturation. Confuses the hell out of my husband, who never got involved with either online locale.)

We've been hosting each other in our homes for years upon years. Just finished up a four day party here, in fact.

I'm happy to hear that the Chicago Mefite contingent is cool - also unsurprised by this. Now if I can just get my visiting schedule aligned with a meetup...
posted by MissySedai at 4:51 PM on July 8, 2013


I don't really know what to take away from this thread, but folks who come to my house for meetups should always feel like they can talk to me if something sketch happens in my place.

Now, all y'all come over and play board games.
posted by ocherdraco at 5:44 PM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's a kind consideration, but I don't think you really want a site - or a life - built on eggshells. MetaFilter should always be a safe harbor, but the real world still is full of neverending waves.

Not to worry though, we're all standing in them, together.
posted by four panels at 5:44 PM on July 8, 2013


Lots of people have the last name Metafilter.

you are inexplicably in my phone as [firstname] buttsasaurus even tho i know your last name

i don't remember when/why/how this happened
posted by elizardbits at 5:50 PM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


The problem with this thread...It's just HOW THINGS GO. You go out, you have fun, people are interesting for a while, people act like jerks for a while, you stay for one drink too many, you get bored or pissed off, you go home. We don't have to name it "social time limit." It's just time to split, that's all it is.

Well, I do and don't agree. The poster you're quoting was talking about something different from harassment. While I am not in favor of a policy or a statement, I do agree with Ivan F that it should be fine to talk about the possibility of that sort of thing happening and ways to handle it, in such a way that people who might not otherwise speak up against it feel more empowered to do it if they so choose, because they understand clearly that condoning that sort of behavior tacitly or explicitly is not MeFi's general nature or intent, as a community.

At the same time, it will be perennially frustrating that the people who most need to know it's not cool are not likely to be part of the discussion. That leaves everyone else in a reactive position. Still, there is probably some value in creating a more widely shared "don't be an ass" ethos among at least those who read these kinds of threads, who can then be more of a solid vector of the general disapprobation for assholishness when they do attend meetups and see something negative going on, should that time come.

As for the "it can't hurt" comment, when I used those words I was originally talking about a "be nice" or "here are the behaviors to avoid" statement being on IRL (as anl alternative to the idea of "policy" which was being bandied about earlier inthread) , but the more I thought about it the more it seemed unwise to go in that direction. But it can't hurt to talk it out, now and in the future.
posted by Miko at 5:59 PM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I do agree with Ivan F that it should be fine to talk about the possibility of that sort of thing happening and ways to handle it, in such a way that people who might not otherwise speak up against it feel more empowered to do it if they so choose, because they understand clearly that condoning that sort of behavior tacitly or explicitly is not MeFi's general nature or intent, as a community.

I think the point was that deciding that's enough social interaction for one outing and deciding to bail isn't some kind of social disorder. It's called "time to go home." There's nothing wrong with it. It doesn't make you a special awkward snowflake.

Furthermore, nothing requires people to stay at a thing until either it's over or there is some pressing need to leave. You can just say, "well, I guess I'm going to head out..." and then go. You don't have to say why you're leaving, or notify people that you're tired of having social interaction. You can just... go. Whenever you feel like it. For any reason.

I didn't get that the person was talking about harassment.
posted by Sara C. at 6:04 PM on July 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm happy to hear that the Chicago Mefite contingent is cool

Lies. They're all big jerks who let me leave and I hate them and I never want to see them again.
posted by SpiffyRob at 6:15 PM on July 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


I look forward to attending a meetup in the future and being addressed as "Octorok" by straight-faced adults of sound mind, I promise not to stab anybody in the neck, and I hope the in-progress Bay Area Meetup thread over on IRL settles on a date and venue before California slides into the sea.

Too late, you'll always be prize bull to me. In consolation, Warren Zevon.
posted by Diablevert at 6:21 PM on July 8, 2013


On preview, klangklangston is also "klang," but that's partly because we have a lot of Joshes here.

The problem I would have with this is restraining myself from adding "CLANG CLANG WENT THE TROLLEY!" every time it was said.

For a long time I ran with a crowd that spend much of the day idling on IRC and when we met up for drinks it wasn't uncommon for shortened versions of the nicknames to be used; I actually had one of the fellows as a roommate for a while and one day, when particularly tired, he introduced me to someone as "fear." *shrug* When you primarily think of someone by one particular name isn't not unreasonable to have that be where your mind goes first.

Mind you, some people don't like it and they get to be called by their preferred name no different than how I wouldn't call someone "Mike" if they preferred to be "Michael." But I don't think it's Inherently Weird or something.
posted by phearlez at 6:36 PM on July 8, 2013


Far too many mefites seem far too into shaming other people in general for failure to conform to very narrow (and yet entirely selective, witness the tolerance for anti-Native American bigotry in several recent threads, vs the uber-uptight policing of gender discourse) ideological standards of late -- even gleefully so. I'm with a few above in finding the very existence of this thread extremely distasteful and ugly and alienating, even though I've never been to a meetup and never would.

This is WTF territory. And the minute this site instituted any policy that extended the authority of its already too-authoritarian moderation policies into offline real life I would join others above in closing my account even though it would have no effect on me. Yet.

Perhaps Matt should require members to have background checks before they can join too?
posted by spitbull at 6:38 PM on July 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Far too many mefites seem far too into shaming other people in general for failure to conform to very narrow (and yet entirely selective, witness the tolerance for anti-Native American bigotry in several recent threads, vs the uber-uptight policing of gender discourse) ideological standards of late -- even gleefully so.

yeah it's distasteful and ugly and alienating to even ask what should be done in case of harassment

god, how could we

also, perhaps you could help me out here

(and yet entirely selective, witness the tolerance for anti-Native American bigotry in several recent threads, vs the uber-uptight policing of gender discourse)

since this is such a pervasive thing, you should have no trouble linking to a comment which indicates tolerance of anti-First Nations bigotry and also a comment which consists of uber-uptight policing of gender discourse and of course both of these comments must be by the same user in order for you to convey even the appearance of having the faintest idea what you're talking about

i'll just wait here
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 6:50 PM on July 8, 2013 [12 favorites]


Pro tip: Simplify by using your real first name as your MeFi user name. :D
posted by Jacqueline at 6:52 PM on July 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Lies. They're all big jerks who let me leave and I hate them and I never want to see them again.

Secretly we never liked you that much to begin with.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:02 PM on July 8, 2013


And the minute this site instituted any policy...

You did read the all the posts upthread, where all the mods said that they're absolutely not going to be instituting a policy of this kind, right?

Although maybe this thread reads differently in the imaginary fascist MetaFilter you carry around in your head.
posted by neroli at 7:02 PM on July 8, 2013 [9 favorites]


This is WTF territory. And the minute this site instituted any policy that extended the authority of its already too-authoritarian moderation policies into offline real life I would join others above in closing my account even though it would have no effect on me. Yet.

Many intelligent, interesting members like yourself have left the site over smaller things.
posted by Nomyte at 7:03 PM on July 8, 2013


What's all this about no stockings at meetups, anyway. What have you all got against knitwear? No stockings at all, even the thigh-high stripey can-can girl type?

What? What?

Stalking you say? S-t-a-l-k-i-n-g?

Oh, that's very different.

Never mind.

/ Emily Litella

Going on record: Hug positive. Kiss positive. Dog lick affirmative. Creepy handshake averse.
posted by madamjujujive at 7:04 PM on July 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Lies. They're all big jerks who let me leave and I hate them and I never want to see them again.

Aww, but surely there are nice things about Philly! No?

I only remember names from meetups because half of the usual attendees have kindly made their real names and their user names overlap. On the plus side, there are usual attendees, and I am grateful to them all for good company and good manners.
posted by jetlagaddict at 7:07 PM on July 8, 2013


I hope the in-progress Bay Area Meetup thread over on IRL settles on a date and venue before California slides into the sea.

May I lament again that, having been on this site for more than 3 years, I've been to a total of 3 meetups? From my perspective, they're unbelievably rare. Heck, the in-progress Bay Area meetup is a response to how rare they are, and I somehow know that it's going to be 3 hours and two transfers away from where I live.
posted by Nomyte at 7:12 PM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


yeah it's distasteful and ugly and alienating to even ask what should be done in case of harassment

No what is "distasteful and ugly" is the idea that we (metafilter) need to somehow formalize a set of rules outlining "correct" behavior irl. Count me as one who thinks this is a pretty ridiculous proposition. I mean besides the fact that what is considered appropriate behavior in social situations varies greatly between cultures and even regionally within the same cultural unit, it's just impossible to formally enforce something like this without mixing rl with the web. That's just my opinion of the idea and not reflective of what I think of the op.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 7:19 PM on July 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


So you're OK with asking what should be done in case of harassment then?
posted by grouse at 7:25 PM on July 8, 2013


You know what else is distasteful and ugly?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:44 PM on July 8, 2013


"i thought booze often preceded buggering."

Go home, Sartre, you're drunk.
posted by klangklangston at 7:50 PM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think the point was that deciding that's enough social interaction for one outing and deciding to bail isn't some kind of social disorder. It's called "time to go home." There's nothing wrong with it. It doesn't make you a special awkward snowflake.

Let me be more clear. That is exactly what I was saying. Thinkpiece started with a complaint about "the problem with this thread," and then pointed to that comment by phunnieme as an example. But the poster of that comment was talking about "something different."

By posting that comment, thinkpiece seemed to be conflating the two issues (harassment and getting tired of socializing) and suggesting that someone being a jerk = time to go home = normal. That "you stay for one drink too many" and "you get bored or pissed off" were the same things that others were identifying as harassment. I was responding that phunnieme was not talking about going home as an appropriate response to harassment. They are two entirely separate issues, but thinkpiece's comment seemed to be treating them as one. I may have read it wrongly, but I couldn't otherwise connect "this thread" with the comment without surmising that this was thinkpiece's take on what other people see as harassment.
posted by Miko at 7:53 PM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Now, all y'all come over and play board games.

Damnit, wrong coast!
posted by Celsius1414 at 8:00 PM on July 8, 2013


You know what else is distasteful and ugly?

Not answering one's own rhetorical questions?
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 8:06 PM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


"They are two entirely separate issues, but thinkpiece's comment seemed to be treating them as one. I may have read it wrongly, but I couldn't otherwise connect 'this thread' with the comment without surmising that this was thinkpiece's take on what other people see as harassment."

You read it correctly, because it was in response to phuniemee's comment which explicitly equated this discussion about harassment with social awkwardness. I just now followed the exchanges backward because I was confused by thinkpiece's comment — I seriously thought it had been misposted and intended for the "ghosting" thread. I'd forgotten phuniemee's comment. Which did sort of equate the two things, but, to be fair, the preceding discussion had been about the awkwardness of hugs and refusing hugs and stuff.

Hugs had been brought up because, of course, creepers really do use hugs and other kinds of normally socially acceptable touch to violate boundaries and be harassing. So it's a reasonable thing to bring up. However, it's pretty context-specific and discussing hugs in general or handshakes in general is, I think, unproductive because it makes it seem like a discussion about how to prevent harassment and how to empower mefites to speak up when they feel they are being harassed is a discussion about how people shouldn't hug or shake hands, which it emphatically is not and shouldn't be. And there are some people who'd like this discussion to be about how people shouldn't hug or shake hands because then they can characterize the entire concern as trivial.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 8:18 PM on July 8, 2013


I'm with a few above in finding the very existence of this thread extremely distasteful and ugly and alienating, even though I've never been to a meetup and never would.

Dude, really. If you don't have any interest in ever attending a meet-up why do you care what kind of talk goes on about them?
posted by octobersurprise at 8:19 PM on July 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


Perhaps Matt should require members to have background checks before they can join too?

Perhaps Matt should require members to read the fucking thread before they get all huffy about something that's never going to happen and then bring in some other important but unrelated issue too?

Many intelligent, interesting members like yourself have left the site over smaller things.

And yet here you are, amongst the dullards. Do you need a hug?
posted by dogrose at 8:19 PM on July 8, 2013


"Dude, really. If you don't have any interest in ever attending a meet-up why do you care what kind of talk goes on about them?"

He heard meetups had small portions.
posted by klangklangston at 8:25 PM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Dude, really. If you don't have any interest in ever attending a meet-up why do you care what kind of talk goes on about them?

Because otherwise who will watch the watchers blah blah blah.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 8:27 PM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


it was in response to phuniemee's comment which explicitly equated this discussion about harassment with social awkwardness

To pull up another loop, hers was in response to the person above her comment who said, basically, that you should be able to speak up about your needs, whatever they are, even if your needs are to be left alone or allowed to leave when you want without undue objection. That person was likening this vocalizing of needs to objecting to harassment.

I think you're right about the handshake-and-hug/social awkwardness discussion being a little hard to tease out from the harassment discussion in this thread. And as much as I do agree that hyperbolic responses of "now we have to air-shake to avoid ofFENDing anybody" are a tool that people use to defend the status quo, there are also clearly people around here who really are shy and concerned about how to act around a group of strangers, despite the fact that they use the same website. There is some sincere concern mixed with the front of concern.
posted by Miko at 8:28 PM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


grouse: "mrzarquon comes to visit, he is pretty much always called mrz

mrzarquon used to be in my phone as Chris Zarquon before I knew what his actual last name was.
"

Ha. He's still in my phone as Chris [real last name] Zarquon.
posted by gingerbeer at 8:36 PM on July 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


I’m pretty sure the whole intent of this thread is to shut down meetups and eliminate the IRL section of the site.
posted by bongo_x at 9:02 PM on July 8, 2013


Why do you say that?
posted by grouse at 9:11 PM on July 8, 2013


"... there are also clearly people around here who really are shy and concerned about how to act around a group of strangers, despite the fact that they use the same website. There is some sincere concern mixed with the front of concern."

Yeah, I can understand that. And well-intentioned people will naturally bring up this ambiguous stuff — I'm just disheartened and exhausted by how these examples are then picked up and used by others as a means to discredit the whole enterprise of trying to reduce harassment.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 9:11 PM on July 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


the whole enterprise of trying to reduce harassment.

This is not the job of metafilter. If people want to individually or even corporately (as in regional groups of regular meetup attendees) try to do this in their own relationships that's great.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 9:22 PM on July 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


For sure, it does happen that people try to discredit efforts to effect positive change. But at risk of being recursive, is that actually happening here, or is this concern over a potentiality? To my reading, this thread has gone remarkably well and everybody's been participating in good faith.
posted by cribcage at 9:36 PM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


First, I identify myself as Elsa, then as my real name, then add "But I'll answer to either" or "Either is fine."

If anybody calls you something other than Either for the rest of the meetup, this is not the Metafilter I know and love.
posted by Dr Dracator at 10:26 PM on July 8, 2013 [8 favorites]


I consensually hugged a lot of people at the meetup tonight. It wasn't difficult to make sure it was okay with them without it being weird.

the minute this site instituted any policy that extended the authority of its already too-authoritarian moderation policies into offline real life...

That will happen never. You can stay here forever then.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:35 PM on July 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


That will happen never.

Yes, this seems to be the mod reaction from the get go...so what are people actually suggesting at this point? I mean what is the mechanism or venue where these guidelines for correct behavior are supposed to be actualized?
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 10:48 PM on July 8, 2013


Is there still a copy of this metafilter guide anywhere?
posted by buzzman at 11:15 PM on July 8, 2013


so what are people actually suggesting at this point? I mean what is the mechanism or venue where these guidelines for correct behavior are supposed to be actualized?

The wiki has been suggested as a place to put guidelines.

Personally, I think that's the best place for it. It can also provide a place for what to do in case of harassment without it being endorsed by the mods or Metafilter Inc. A lot of the umbrage in this thread was caused by the idea of creating an Official Metafilter Policy on Harrassment and Official Rules for Meetups, having guidelines on the wiki skirts that nicely.
posted by mokin at 11:21 PM on July 8, 2013


There should be a policy. My first meetup was awkward. At first I wasn't sure how I was supposed to greet other Mefites, and my attempts to scratch them behind their ears were met with growls. It turned out that only non-rude way to say hello was to sniff each other's butts. It went downhill from there, and I left after we had to throw cold water on two Mefites stuck together. My second meeting was in France and that was even worse, since we all had to cheek-kiss each other and nobody knew how many pecks were expected. If only Mefi authorities had provided the Map to everyone.
posted by elgilito at 1:31 AM on July 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


Thanks for that bisemap — I'd only say that in Finisterre, I was advised if uncertain how many cheek pecks to give to say before we went in "Trois comme en Bretagne?"
posted by Wolof at 1:34 AM on July 9, 2013


Is there still a copy of this metafilter guide anywhere?

Cortex has a mirror here.
posted by logicpunk at 3:11 AM on July 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'd only say that in Finisterre, I was advised if uncertain how many cheek pecks to give to say before we went in "Trois comme en Bretagne?"

Some days I just love MeFi.
posted by ersatz at 3:47 AM on July 9, 2013


Metafilter reminds me of a liberal arts college co-op house in 1985 lately. Political correctness run totally amok among people with no actual experience of oppression, marginalization, or exclusion.

If you want to control people you meet up with, meet them at your own house. In a public venue you have no more right to tell someone how to act than they have to kick you out.

My reference to the community's hypocritical tolerance for anti-Native bigotry does not require user-specific granularity of accusation, although I could say a mouthful about several people. It's cultural and pervasive -- racism 101 stuff.. Someone who uses the wrong language about gender here can expect a public pillorying (as can someone who suggests the community is waaaay more uptight about gendered discourse than other kinds of casual, careless bigotry in language usage). I don't recall the last MeTa that called out anti-Native bigotry here, and I'm not masochistic enough (oh no, did I just insult kinksters?) to do it myself and listen to more self-congratulatory bullshit about how perfect some Mefites consider themselves to be.

Also, we really need separate badges for "mod speaking as mod" vs. "mod speaking for her/himself."

There's a big difference between "meet ups" and actual "real life."
posted by spitbull at 5:40 AM on July 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


I don't recall the last MeTa that called out anti-Native bigotry here

FSVO anti-Native bigotry, it was about three months ago, if memory serves.
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:59 AM on July 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't recall the last MeTa that called out anti-Native bigotry here

Then you haven't been paying attention. There was one in April.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:00 AM on July 9, 2013


And you're even in that meTa, spitbull.

In a public venue you have no more right to tell someone how to act than they have to kick you out.

Oh bullshit. In a public space, I have every right to tell someone - mefite or no - to not grab my ass, pour beer on me on purpose, etc.

p.s.: This idea that people who get together periodically for drinks or dinner or picnics or art shows or to meet at science museums or walks at Crissy Field or [million other examples] are not somehow doing real life is absurd.
posted by rtha at 6:17 AM on July 9, 2013 [12 favorites]


Does this mean Toronto meetups can't be free-for-all orgies anymore? I mean, damn.
posted by orange swan at 6:17 AM on July 9, 2013


"Metafilter reminds me of a liberal arts college co-op house in 1985 lately. Political correctness run totally amok among people with no actual experience of oppression, marginalization, or exclusion."

Yes, but that's the MetaFilter in your head, the one that bears no relationship to the one in reality in which hundreds of people have written detailed and heartfelt accounts of their experiences of being oppressed, marginalized, and excluded.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 6:20 AM on July 9, 2013 [18 favorites]


Seriously, it's yet another request for people to agree to be nice to one another. Take from it what you will. Written instructions aren't going to make a difference, either way. It's what you do in the experience that counts.
posted by h00py at 6:28 AM on July 9, 2013


For everyone that missed the fucking memo:

THERE WILL BE NO POLICY

We've been talking about harassment a lot lately. Having someone ask this question is natural, even if the answer is "no".

Many people have not considered harassment might occur at a meet-up. This thread is mainly various MeFites working a new concept through their heads.

There might be some suggestions written down somewhere. Organizers of larger meetups might choose to have their own policy. But no one will be forced to do anything as a result of this thread.
posted by charred husk at 6:31 AM on July 9, 2013 [7 favorites]


But are there any beans left? I'm still hungry.
posted by iamkimiam at 6:55 AM on July 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Nothing but beans!

Now excuse me I've got to deal with a severe case of flatulence.
posted by charred husk at 6:57 AM on July 9, 2013


Green beans with garlic, pesto and parmesan cheese?
posted by h00py at 7:01 AM on July 9, 2013


My reference to the community's hypocritical tolerance for anti-Native bigotry does not require user-specific granularity of accusation

sorry but of course it does, since you are accusing a community of hypocrisy which requires that you demonstrate that at least one actual person holds the opinions you're claiming

wait, have you seen any I/P threads? if you side with israel you'll get yelled at but the same thing will happen if you side with palestine! what a bunch of hypocrites!

anyway you have at least been kind enough to admit that you're not going to back up your position with anything resembling facts, and i appreciate your honesty

although I could say a mouthful about several people. It's cultural and pervasive -- racism 101 stuff.. Someone who uses the wrong language about gender here can expect a public pillorying (as can someone who suggests the community is waaaay more uptight about gendered discourse than other kinds of casual, careless bigotry in language usage).

what do you consider to be "the wrong language about gender"

be specific

I don't recall the last MeTa that called out anti-Native bigotry here,

see above

and I'm not masochistic enough (oh no, did I just insult kinksters?) to do it myself and listen to more self-congratulatory bullshit about how perfect some Mefites consider themselves to be.

yeah except you're posting here, bravely ensuring that you get to interrupt a thread with your pet issue but not actually try to address the problem in any meaningful way

let me be clear about this: if you have an issue with the idea that anyone might want to know what to do in case of harassment at a meetup, that's kind of silly but this is the thread for that

if you want to remind everyone that someone was mean to you, my recommendation to you (which is a correct recommendation because i am always right about everything) is that instead of trying to crowbar that issue into threads where it has nothing to do with anything, you actually try to discuss this in a thread where it's relevant, and if that thread doesn't exist, perhaps you could forge valiantly ahead and make one
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 7:07 AM on July 9, 2013 [6 favorites]


spitbull: "Also, we really need separate badges for "mod speaking as mod" vs. "mod speaking for her/himself."

I can see where you're coming from. Mods tend to do a lot of free-form opinionating here, just like everyone else, and it's not a binary thing where whenever a mod says something it becomes policy. Since we have few hard-and-fast rules and a lot of context-dependent guidelines I can see how the distinction can be hard to make. But in this case I thought restless_nomad was pretty clear when she specified she was speaking in a personal capacity. If this is a common annoyance or point of confusion then yeah, we should address it.

But much like the alleged bigotry, I feel that issue would be best served by a thread of its own, and everyone is welcome to open one. On that note I would kindly suggest we stick to the topic at hand.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane (staff) at 7:28 AM on July 9, 2013


It's off topic for this thread, but in all fairness there have been some pretty bigoted comments on MetaFilter about Native Americans / First Nations people. I think comments like that end up being allowed to stand because unfortunately it's something that's not on most MeFites' radar and very few people flag them.

And, yeah, goodnews, it's off topic, so I'll leave it at that.
posted by nangar at 7:39 AM on July 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


goodnewsfortheinsane: "But in this case I thought restless_nomad was pretty clear when she specified she was speaking in a personal capacity. If this is a common annoyance or point of confusion then yeah, we should address it."

It happens every once in a while. FWIW, my personal impression is that most of the time y'all are good at signalling when you are taking off your mod hats. Other people's mileage may vary.

In this specific case, r_n had to be asked. Her clarification was clear, but until then I was under the impression she was speaking ex cathedra.
posted by zarq at 7:58 AM on July 9, 2013


r_n's first comment was that there probably wasn't going to be a centrally enforced policy - so, it seemed pretty clear to me that from there she was just discussing the broader issue and not the mod issue. but everyone differs on clarity.

regardless, it seems the best case is what happened here - someone was confused and asked and she clarified. the system works!
posted by nadawi at 8:34 AM on July 9, 2013


If this is a common annoyance or point of confusion then yeah, we should address it.

I agree with zarq: it was looking pretty official there until the clarification. The staff badge, like it or not, makes comments above it seem weightier and more official. It would be nice if they could be toggled to reflect on-duty vs. off-duty commentary. Usually it's more obvious than in this case, though.
posted by Miko at 8:37 AM on July 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


We're not considering changing the tag. We will be more proactively clear going forward outlining when we're speaking in what capacity.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:44 AM on July 9, 2013


Also, we really need separate badges for "mod speaking as mod" vs. "mod speaking for her/himself."

I have never found it difficult to discern the difference, in no small part because I have distinctly noticed jess and cortex say some variation on "personally" or "speaking for myself." If they or other mods have ever failed to be that explicit while saying something that doesn't look blatantly like personal opinion then I have never noticed it.

Which doesn't mean it never happened, but now you have my $0.02 to contribute towards the next can of Hormel.
posted by phearlez at 8:46 AM on July 9, 2013


Metafilter reminds me of a liberal arts college co-op house in 1985

Actually, I was living in a liberal arts college co-op house in 1985 and it was nothing like metafilter. YMMV. On the whole, I'd rather be back there than here, but metafilter's cheaper and Matt's a pretty cool Dean.
posted by octobersurprise at 8:49 AM on July 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


That's a little early for peak political correctness, too. I'd put it more like 1988 or 89, and then conservatives didn't start using it as a paintball gun until the early '90s.
posted by Miko at 8:53 AM on July 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


On the whole, I'd rather be back there than here, but metafilter's cheaper and Matt's a pretty cool Dean.

Let's see how cool he is when he find this horse in his office!

(BLOB accidentally pulls trigger of tranquilizer rifle. Dart sinks into the rump of horse, who rears up then collapses onto the Dean's desk, crushing it flat. Cut to reaction shot of BLOB and BRAIN's faces as a sound effect makes it clear that the horse has voided its bowels.)

BLOB AND BRAIN: OH Shiiiiiiii-

(Quick cut to a CHOCOLATE MOUSSE. Pull back to show it is on a tray being carried by the young TOM HANKS, who is working as a waiter in the snooty country club frequented by Alpha Chi.)
posted by running order squabble fest at 8:59 AM on July 9, 2013


Actually, I was living in a liberal arts college co-op house in 1985 and it was nothing like metafilter.

Ditto. Our house meetings tended to revolve around subjects like who was going to do what chores at the next all-house clean; could whoever took the bag of shrooms from so-and-so's room please return them because he's not going to be able to buy books this terms otherwise; how many people want to go apple-picking on Saturday; please remember to move your band equipment out of the Blue Room when you're done with practice; and could whoever keeps leaving the house bong in the cupola be more conscious about remembering to clean it afterwards.
posted by rtha at 9:49 AM on July 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


nadawi: " regardless, it seems the best case is what happened here - someone was confused and asked and she clarified. the system works!"

jessamyn: "We're not considering changing the tag."

Yeah, sorry. I should have said outright that I don't think the tag needs to be changed. Asking for clarification works just fine for me.

jessamyn: " We will be more proactively clear going forward outlining when we're speaking in what capacity."

Thank you!
posted by zarq at 10:00 AM on July 9, 2013


On the subject of usernames, here is a partial list of people I know in "real life": Chet Thunder, Dino Bambino, Punk John (not to be confused with Johnny K., an actual punk), Patches, Freida P. Puhl (say it out loud), TLB (Tender Little Boy), Crapweasel, Blueberry (or, when drunk, Shark Week), Shower Scene.

I know the "real names" of all those people, all of whom I met first in "real life" and most of whom I grew up with, but if I said any of those names to any of my friends, they'd know who I was talking about. If I said "Ryan" or "Rob" or "Steve", it's a little more tricky. There's a reason people use nicknames and the military has callsigns. Crapweasel is someone's real name, because he answers to it. He probably doesn't introduce himself as that, but then again, knowing that that's also his name is a shibboleth for our in-group anyway. I'd lay down a fair amount of money that most everyone here has a few friends who are generally and casually referred to by a nickname.

Basically, I call people by the names they give me or by the names they've "earned", for a given consensual value of earned. The words on your birth certificate are just a start, and might be the least interesting name you have.
posted by Errant at 10:28 AM on July 9, 2013 [5 favorites]


Yes, this seems to be the mod reaction from the get go...so what are people actually suggesting at this point?

This is one of those Meta threads were really, I don't think anybody expects the mods to institute a policy for, but rather it's a collective hashing out of whether or not harassment is even a problem at meetups (yes, but seems to be rare, fortunately), how we'd like to address that when it happens, whether or not real life harassment needs to be addressed on site as well and how, also what else can be done to make meetups friendlier, if need be.

What will hopefully happen with this is that those of us active in meetups read the thread, get triggered/reminded of a couple of issues that might happen in our meetups and look out for them. So it is helpful to have people saying they dislike being hugged without warning or way to say no, some people have problems with flash photography and having the perennial question of user versus real names coming up again.

It's all not very shocking of course, but it helps to have it out in the open.
posted by MartinWisse at 11:48 AM on July 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


> A mefite friend came to visit recently, and I had to remember to introduce her to non-mefite friends by her actual name, and not her handle. And when mrzarquon comes to visit, he is pretty much always called mrz.

Heh, was that me, or the next visitation of Mefites after me? I refer to gingerbeer as gingerbeer pretty much all the time and feel a little stilted using her real name, but I verbally refer to rtha as her real name because I would be confused if someone presumed her name was actually Eartha. Unless it's a crowd of Mefites, and then it's mostly handles most of the time. I find handles much easier than names to remember anyway, and once I thought about it, I realized that I've got friends in most of my social groups who are commonly known by monikers unrelated to their given names. So a statement referencing "when cortex stayed at the house" gets only a momentary eyebrow among my non-Mefite friends anyway.

I'm totally used to having an "other name" that I respond to in real life (since BBS days), and answer to my handle and real name interchangeably. But I generally do not introduce my real name to Mefites until I know them off-site pretty well and I take some care to not link my real name to this site at all. I'm not super-paranoid about privacy, I've had meetups at my house, but I maintain an intentional (though not-impermeable) barrier between my handle and my real name.
posted by desuetude at 11:48 AM on July 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yeah, it was you!
posted by rtha at 11:50 AM on July 9, 2013


at least try and act in good faith

pardon me, do you have any grey poupon ?
posted by sgt.serenity at 12:03 PM on July 9, 2013


yeah cause asking that people assume sincerity on all sides is for snobs
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 12:30 PM on July 9, 2013


I have a long and complicated name, apparently. To prevent having to hear it (non-maliciously, but still painfully) mispronounced at me, I have about three nicknames I want/let people use day-to-day. One is my great-grandmother's name, one is the television character I wanted to be when I was 15, and one is the name I gave myself (also at 15). People I know from the internet keep their internet names. People I know from real life get given internet names to distinguish this Kate from that Kate or this Matt from that Matt.
Internal consistency is the key.

So, if you meet me at a meetup I'll just go with RainyJay or Rain because good lord is that easier.

Also, after reading this thread, I am happy to see that my local contingent appears to be not-creepy.
posted by RainyJay at 1:12 PM on July 9, 2013


But in this case I thought restless_nomad was pretty clear when she specified she was speaking in a personal capacity. If this is a common annoyance or point of confusion then yeah, we should address it."

She was clear here, yes, once she was asked outright. But in the recent Metafilter harassment thread? Well, restless_nomad was all over that thread in both capacities, as user and weekend mod.

We have restless_nomad, the site user telling another user, "The opinions of randoms on the internet on any given specific situation aren't useful, wanted, or welcome," on a forum for doing exactly that, "The point here is no one gives a damn what *you* think of the situation. No one's asked you, your opinion makes no difference to anyone, and your insistence in prioritizing it is frankly weird," and then, even more specifically, tells the user (note: not his opinion or his argument but him personally), "I don't think you're worth debating on this any further."

But then, you've also got restless_nomad, the moderator, in the same thread--and in fact right in the midst of her other comments--admonishing others, "don't make this personal, folks". Later, she admits, "I am as guilty as anyone, but it's probably time to stop doing the circle dance with ThatFuzzyBastard."

So it's no wonder that when restkess_nomad commented in this thread, other users questioned whether she was doing so as a site user or a moderator.

Especially when she confidently asserted that although she would have no official standing as a Metafilter mod at meetups, she would be glad to take on the role of dealing with anyone she felt was out of line. Wow, did that make anyone else feel uncomfortable?!

There are all kinds of line being blurred here! I find that disturbing. I didn't have any comments deleted. I disagree with the user restless_nomad is addressing 99.9% of the time, too. But the way in which she participated in that thread...it feels like a misuse of power and influence.

Restless_nomad, I'll say it directly rather than skirt around the issue: it feels very much like you are pruning that thread to suit your own personal preferences. Chiding others for their transgressions while conveniently ignoring your own questionable contributions is a Very Ungood use of your mod powers.
posted by misha at 2:25 PM on July 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


When Restless Nomad was expressing her opinion as a user, she wrote in normal-sized text without square brackets. When she was being modlish, she wrote in small text with square brackets.

I mean, we can do that "What posts did you delete? What kind of drugs? What kind of money? " thing, but I don't think it's going to lead to a conviction.
posted by running order squabble fest at 2:49 PM on July 9, 2013


Especially when she confidently asserted that although she would have no official standing as a Metafilter mod at meetups, she would be glad to take on the role of dealing with anyone she felt was out of line. Wow, did that make anyone else feel uncomfortable?!

I didn't take that as a comment on her mod abilities at all; I read that as the comment of someone with a background in handling situations like harassment and a desire to not let anyone get harassed in the same shared space, especially if she were involved in setting up a meetup.
posted by jetlagaddict at 2:50 PM on July 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


There has been a serious problem developing for some time now, where the line between certain moderators moderating and being a participant is blurring and being crossed, not unlike the problems the editor-administrator role regularly cause on Wikipedia.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:52 PM on July 9, 2013


certain moderators moderating

This coyness is confusing and annoying. Either speak your piece, make a new meTa, or don't make a coy comment like that at all.
posted by rtha at 2:58 PM on July 9, 2013 [7 favorites]


She was clear here, yes, once she was asked outright. But in the recent Metafilter harassment thread? Well, restless_nomad was all over that thread in both capacities, as user and weekend mod.

And she was clear there, too, speaking in [mod voice] when she was modding.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 3:04 PM on July 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Restless_nomad, I'll say it directly rather than skirt around the issue: it feels very much like you are pruning that thread to suit your own personal preferences.

That harassment thread is a 600+ comment mod-relay marathon that's been going on for most of a week across a couple dozen shifts. I've nixed more from it than r_n has and most of the things that she had to deal with were echoes of or long continuations of stuff I'd already had to tell folks to cool it on too. If you're going to accuse her of pruning the thread to suit her preferences you need to back up and accuse me of pruning it to suit her preferences first.

the line between certain moderators moderating

We're a very small team. You know our usernames. You clearly have specific opinions about specific people. Use their fucking names if you're going to go on with this sort of thing. You do this a lot and it's terrible.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:11 PM on July 9, 2013 [10 favorites]


That harassment thread is a 600+ comment mod-relay marathon that's been going on for most of a week across a couple dozen shifts.

Yes, cortex, but that's part of the problem I have with that thread. The comments that restless nomad made as a user are largely during the time period when she is a weekend mod, and she is also modding at the same time. That's the blurring of the lines again.

I do know that the small font and the brackets indicates an official moderator comment, thanks, htwrt. But mod comments tend to carry more weight because of who is making them, whether they are commenting as user or mod. Doing both in one thread can be problematic for that reason.

restless_nomad could easily have deferred from commenting during the hours when she was modding. That seems like a no-brainer to me. If I had a potential conflict of interest between two paths, I'd choose one path and stick to it, rather than trying to navigate both at once or walk along the edge, occasionally falling on either side. restless_nomad was at the conference in question, and not just as a participant. She knows some of the people directly involved.

As users, when we have a strong personal stake in an issue, we are often asked to take a step back. I don't think it is too much to expect the mods to exercise the same restraint.
posted by misha at 3:26 PM on July 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wow, did that make anyone else feel uncomfortable?!

I know what you mean! She's out of control! I fear it's only a short time before restless nomad comes to my job and disagrees with me in front of my colleagues.
posted by octobersurprise at 3:28 PM on July 9, 2013 [9 favorites]


But mod comments tend to carry more weight because of who is making them, whether they are commenting as user or mod. Doing both in one thread can be problematic for that reason.

I'd question this assertion. I do think it's true in Metatalk, where ex cathedra comments usually aren't distinguished typographically. I might be a crazy outlier, but I assume mods participating in threads are, well, participating unless there are small letters and square brackets involved.
posted by hoyland at 3:35 PM on July 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


(Note that there already was a discussion of ambiguous ex cathedra comments in Metatalk above.)
posted by hoyland at 3:36 PM on July 9, 2013


The comments that restless nomad made as a user are largely during the time period when she is a weekend mod, and she is also modding at the same time. That's the blurring of the lines again.

It's a line that's been blurry since Matt started the site, though, pretty much by design; we're mods but we're still users, it's why we've always hired from within the site and it's part of what makes the job work as something that's engaging and gratifying rather than being an isolating and antagonistic slide into burnout.

We do our best to keep that line from collapsing from a bit blurry on into just a wide grey smear, mostly through keeping mod directives separate from just plain chattering through either formatting or inline disclaimers or just the plain context of whether what's being said makes any sense as a mefi policy/practice comment rather than someone's opinion.

I agree, and r_n has acknowledged really clearly already, that in this thread she could have conveyed that line better. It's something that doesn't really become a lesson you learn until it happens, it happened here, and she gets to have a clearer sense of that issue for the future. That's an okay outcome, and part of how being a mod here works. We appreciate people remembering that moderating this site never, ever stops being a learning experience and not reading too much into it when something goes imperfectly.

restless_nomad could easily have deferred from commenting during the hours when she was modding.

She could have, but she's in no way required to and there's not a standing policy of any sort here that says otherwise. I comment all the time when I'm on shift too, so does everyone else. To never do so is not actually at all a no-brainer for us, no. Being careful about that blurry line, for sure, and it's something we basically always have to be mindful of. But "you can't both mod and discuss this" is overreaching, here. I can understand preferring a site moderation rubric that cleanly partitions the two, but it's not Metafilter's.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:52 PM on July 9, 2013


I saw the ex cathedra usage and thought this was another papal infallibility thread.
posted by Chrysostom at 3:52 PM on July 9, 2013


> As users, when we have a strong personal stake in an issue, we are often asked to take a step back. I don't think it is too much to expect the mods to exercise the same restraint.

I assume this means you disagree with something she said. We're often told to take a step back if we're getting fighty about something. There isn't a MetaFilter policy saying we can't comment about topics we're familiar with or care about.
posted by nangar at 4:14 PM on July 9, 2013


We're not allowed to post about things we have a personal stake in, right? But the only danger of commenting on something one has a strong personal stake in is that it might lead to intransigence?

Like, John Scalzi is also posting in that thread, and it's hard to imagine someone, short of someone directly involved, with a more personal stake.
posted by running order squabble fest at 4:21 PM on July 9, 2013


Yeah, the issue is not with talking about something you've got a stake in or feel strongly about; people do that all the time and when it's working okay it actually makes for good, engaging discussion that's part of the appeal of this place.

Getting really riled up, shouting matches, name-calling, big flurries of comments out of proportion with the flow and population of the thread, general out-of-control type behavior in a thread: that's the sort of stuff we'll absolutely tell folks to cut out when we see it.

And sometimes it's something where they're going off the rails a little for totally understandable "this is close to me" reasons and we'll try to be communicative and a little gentle about that aspect of it when it's apparent, because, hey, probably everybody's been there sometimes. But it's a mistake to conflate that with the idea that a subject being close to someone's heart is itself an issue or a disqualifying factor in participating in a discussion.

I hear you, misha, that you feel like r_n was somehow modding to her preferences rather than to mod expectations. Having been watching that thread basically constantly for a week now and seeing the work being done in it, I totally disagree with that perception.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:28 PM on July 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


As users, when we have a strong personal stake in an issue, we are often asked to take a step back. I don't think it is too much to expect the mods to exercise the same restraint.
posted by misha


Speaking of coming right out and saying something, misha, exactly what the hell do you think restless_nomad's "strong personal stake" is?

I read r_n's comments in this thread and the harassment thread and found nothing exceptionable whatsoever, and I'm starting to wonder what the real source of all this carping and whining might be.
posted by jamjam at 4:35 PM on July 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


I know what you mean! She's out of control! I fear it's only a short time before restless nomad comes to my job and disagrees with me in front of my colleagues.

omg please come to my work.

/groupie
posted by odinsdream at 5:15 PM on July 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


Having been watching that thread basically constantly for a week now and seeing the work being done in it, I totally disagree with that perception.

Having been watching that thread and waiting for TFB to get the toeing he richly deserves, I completely agree with cortex: r_n was not modding to her preferences. Mod restraint was impressive, from more than just her.
posted by bonaldi at 6:04 PM on July 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


The comments that restless nomad made as a user are largely during the time period when she is a weekend mod, and she is also modding at the same time. That's the blurring of the lines again.

This is not against the rules. We try very hard to only use [mod voice] when making modly pronouncements anywhere on the site but here. However, we were all users first and we're going to participate on the site as regular users. This is part of MetaFilter.

If you think that there are specific instances of people, anyone, modding to their preferences it's helpful if you cite specifics. You don't have to do it here, you can just email us at the Contact Form, but we try pretty hard to check in with other mods when we have to moderate threads that are contentious in areas that we have really strong feelings about specifically to prevent that sort of stuff from happening.

I'm the one who checks in on what the mod team is doing (if checking in is needed, which it rarely is) and I'm not seeing anything in that thread that would give me the impression that you seem to be having.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:09 PM on July 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


I assume this means you disagree with something she said. We're often told to take a step back if we're getting fighty about something. There isn't a MetaFilter policy saying we can't comment about topics we're familiar with or care about.

Since I already said that wasn't the case, you can check that assumption. There's no big conspiracy here, no secret grudge I have been nursing in my breast, waiting for just the perfect moment to exact my revenge. I do not have a cask of amontillado chilling in my basement.

I felt that restless_nomad had a strong personal opinion on, and connection to, that thread on harassment policies because she attended the con in question, knew many of the people involved (as I've already mentioned), and also because she came over to this thread and was, for a while, partaking in and guiding the discussion to the point where wordwoman felt the need to ask her if she was acting in an official capacity here as well.

I don't have a problem with restless_nomad at all. I agree with her on a lot of stuff and have favorited her often. Just because I like someone doesn't mean that I'm going to give them a pass on their professional behavior if I feel like they are over-stepping, though. Since I'd appreciate it if someone gave me a heads-up if I was maybe not being objective in my job, I don't do the passive aggressive grousing, I just go ahead and get it out in the open. Mods are people, too--do you really think no one should ever disagree with a mod? Because if you do, then I guess we just disagree. I thought that was one of the reasons Metatalk existed. Quis custodiet ipsos custodes, etc.

Cortex, Jessamyn, thanks for replying. I respect you all addressing these things as a team rather than jist turning a blind eye. I appreciate that your perspectives differ from mine, but I'm glad to know there is some oversight going on amongst the moderation crew itself. As long as ya'all are keeping an eye on this kind of thing, that's what matters to me.
posted by misha at 6:58 PM on July 9, 2013


Oh, and jessamyn, since I just saw your response, I did give specifics further upthread.
posted by misha at 6:59 PM on July 9, 2013


I felt that restless_nomad had a strong personal opinion on, and connection to, that thread on harassment policies because she attended the con in question, knew many of the people involved

To be perfectly clear, I have met Jim Frenkel once in circumstances under which he wouldn't recognize me if I bit him, saw him on one panel, and have seen Elise around the internet for years (and have been in the same room with her a couple of times) but have never directly interacted with her offline or on. Same goes for pretty much everyone else who's commented on the subject on the wider internets. I keep well abreast of fan culture, but I know the barest possible handful of people in it right now.

also because she came over to this thread and was, for a while, partaking in and guiding the discussion to the point where wordwoman felt the need to ask her if she was acting in an official capacity here as well.

I'm sorry I wasn't clear on this. I was trying to distinguish as much as possible our very clear official position from my personal interest in the subject, but it didn't work out as well as I'd hoped, and I've stepped back from the thread because I see now it's just not possible to avoid accidental conflation.

I wear a bunch of different hats in my life - Metafilter mod is one, self-defense student and aspiring SF author are others. They bleed into each other in weird ways sometimes, but I trust y'all and my colleagues to make sure they're not bleeding into each other in harmful ways.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 7:13 PM on July 9, 2013


I’m sorry to be dense, but I always thought when the staff tag showed up someone was acting as moderator, and when it didn’t they weren’t. I never really thought about it, just that it’s sometimes there and sometimes isn’t so I assumed that was why.
posted by bongo_x at 7:23 PM on July 9, 2013


The staff tags are always-on in MetaTalk, never-on in other parts of the site. Do they sometimes not appear for you in MetaTalk?
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 7:35 PM on July 9, 2013


I always thought when the staff tag showed up someone was acting as moderator, and when it didn’t they weren’t.

I actually thought that too.
posted by Miko at 7:40 PM on July 9, 2013


Sometimes the staff tag doesn't appear when the user in question isn't a moderator.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 7:40 PM on July 9, 2013


Quis custodiet ipsos custodes, etc.

This is always such a weird thing to see tossed around — it's Juvenal complaining that when he imprisons his wife, she bones the guards. It's part of a larger screed on female sexuality. Juvenal's basically a dick nonstop throughout his "Satires."
posted by klangklangston at 8:00 PM on July 9, 2013 [3 favorites]


How juvenile.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:02 PM on July 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


The staff tags are always-on in MetaTalk, never-on in other parts of the site. Do they sometimes not appear for you in MetaTalk?

Really? As I said, I never really thought about it much. No wonder I was confused.

I noticed because when I look at "recent activity", for this thread for instance, there is no staff tag on your name, but then when I go to the actual thread there is. Often though I only look at the recent activity.

I’m sure there’s a reason for behind the "staff tag/ no staff tag" strategy, but I don’t really get it.
posted by bongo_x at 8:13 PM on July 9, 2013


Ah, yeah they don't show in Recent Activity. And if you're looking through the MeTa archives, the staff tag only appears if the person was a mod at the time of the thread - so for example, a comment of mine from three years ago would not have the tag.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 8:16 PM on July 9, 2013


here's the thread where the tags were implemented/announced.
posted by nadawi at 8:18 PM on July 9, 2013


I felt that restless_nomad had a strong personal opinion on, and connection to, that thread on harassment policies because she attended the con in question, knew many of the people involved

So? Why is this a bad thing? You keep insinuating that having first-hand experience of an event should somehow disqualify someone from expressing an opinion on it, but you haven't explained why that should be so.
posted by octobersurprise at 8:18 PM on July 9, 2013


restless_nomad is an SFF author in the early stages of her career.

That she chose to take a principled stand which reasonably could be expected to alienate one of the most important editors of a major publisher in her field is a sign of real personal integrity, and these vague insinuations that she had some other agenda connected to unspecified people she knew is frankly very offensive, misha.
posted by jamjam at 1:39 PM on July 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


restless_nomad is an SFF author...

A what? Science Fictionish?
posted by bongo_x at 4:56 PM on July 10, 2013


Fantasy.
posted by rtha at 5:08 PM on July 10, 2013


Science Fiction and Fantasy? I guess I have seen as SF&F written before.
posted by bongo_x at 6:48 PM on July 10, 2013


I dunno. I'm an editor and I just follow house style unless it's egregiously awful.
posted by rtha at 8:04 PM on July 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Jamjam, I am not at all sure where you are getting the idea that I am against anyone taking principled stands against anything. I don't even see what you mean by restless-_nomad taking a "principled stance which reasonably could be expected to alienate one of the most important editors of a major publisher in her field"; I felt she was non-committal about Frenkel's guilt or innocence and was instead discussing the harrassment policy.

And octobersurprise, I didn't insinuate anything of the sort. I'm kind of ticked that you would even use the word "insinuating", frankly, because what I have said I've said clearly and openly.

Which is: actively moderating and commenting at the same time in the same thread is problematic for me when the lines become blurred between the two states. There is a greater potential for abuse, even if that is not the intent of the mod who is doing it.

When you (speaking generally here) are on duty as a mod, you are often called upon to handle disputes that get overheated between users. So you have to wade in and take an active role. You delete comments, give warnings, ask for people to dial it back, etc. You even nip potential derails in the bud so that they don't turn into massive derails. That's your job.

You are also a site user yourself and may comment in threads a lot.

I have no problem with any of that, and mostly it all works out just fine.

Now say you are acting as a mod and you are on duty in a thread, telling site users to stop contributing to a derail/making it personal/whatever. Is it okay for you to go ahead yourself and keeping doing that after you've asked them to stop, just because you are a mod?

I say no, and that is where it becomes a problem for me. Just because you can do something doesn't mean you should. When you are a mod, you get held to a higher standard. You have to be careful not to cross that line in the sand once you have drawn it.

Now let's say that I am a user, and I agree with you, the mod's, general opinion in that thread. Do I turn a blind eye when I see you, in my opinion, taking advantage of your position? Do I shrug and say, well it is okay this one time because we are on the same side? To me, if I did that, I would be a hypocrite. I would not be taking a principled stand.

99% of the time, I have no issue with any of the mods. This is one time that I do. This is not a personality conflict between me and restless_nomad. It is not even a conflict in our opinions. It just happens to be that restless_nomad is the mod I felt crossed that line.

Now, jessamyn, cortex and restless_nomad have all weighed in, and they've indicated they are very wary of that potential for abuse, and they don't agree with me that it was happening in that thread, and I accept that. I do respect the mods, no matter what you'd like to believe.

But accusing me of an ulterior motive just because you don't agree with me? Yeah, that's not going to shut me up. Don't even waste your time.
posted by misha at 11:14 AM on July 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


You're right, misha. Obviously, I'm no match for your steely determination to keep the mods in line.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:16 AM on July 12, 2013


Have there been any complaints of sexual harassment at meetups?

I am late to the party as for some reason I am forever stuck here on June 28th at home but all I can say about this is wow. I mean, I know it's important in theory but in practice we might as well be equally as worried about the spread of polio at meetups.

I have brought many friends to meetups and they have all been blown away with how smart and nice and interesting everyone is -- and and to a person they have loved that there is so not a meatmarket cruising hookup vibe going on whatsoever at meetups.

But then we don't stick around for karaoke. That might be a danger zone.
posted by y2karl at 9:39 AM on July 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think you might be unclear on polio, harassment, or both.Thinking that smart and nice and interesting people are incapable of harassment is, in my view, one of the reasons these conventions have been so slow to adopt policies. I'm not saying MeFi should have one, that's totally not my call, but I don't think it's something that's obviously unneeded because of how awesome and tight-knit we are.
posted by ODiV at 9:54 AM on July 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


but in practice we might as well be equally as worried about the spread of polio at meetups.

Er, well, but it has happened. Does happen. Might happen again. It hasn't happened to me, but I have been witness to it.
posted by rtha at 9:54 AM on July 12, 2013


Well, then I stand corrected. Carry on.
posted by y2karl at 10:01 AM on July 12, 2013


Boulder CO keeps trying to control negativity.
posted by buzzman at 3:05 PM on July 13, 2013


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