Making arguments out of thin air February 3, 2014 2:11 PM   Subscribe

I want to talk about the ongoing toxic trend on Metafilter of people threadshitting within the first few comments of a post without reading the post's subject, leading into arguments about content that either has nothing to do with the post or have been addressed directly within the post. It's been a problem with the site for years, and I think the community would be much better for it if this trend just outright stopped.

This is prompted in this case by Artw making this (incorrect) assumption as the first comment in the thread, leading to an immediate derail on something the post both doesn't argue and immediately addresses as a misconception. It's only exacerbated by his admittal that "[he doesn't] know if he goes further than that later on as[he] gave the browser window the finger and closed the fucker at that point" which (in my opinon) is a really terrible way to decide to start a conversation.

Again as this is a trend I've seen throughout the site for years, other specific examples don't leap to mind, but I don't think it's one that only I've noticed.
posted by flatluigi to Etiquette/Policy at 2:11 PM (296 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

It'd definitely be a good thing in general for folks to slow down a little if they're jumping into a thread early to do a mic-drop sort of dismissal of a link they haven't read, yeah. The instinct to just sort of blarg about what you feel like something is getting at is sort of understandable but also not super great for helping a thread develop well.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:18 PM on February 3, 2014 [7 favorites]


other specific examples don't leap to mind, but I don't think it's one that only I've noticed.

It's definitely not the only one you've noticed. I'll vouch. You have a voucher!

"threadshit" would make a good flag option actually
posted by Hoopo at 2:28 PM on February 3, 2014 [64 favorites]


I have flipped my shit about this phenomena on more than one occassion, but in my opinion the only real way to curb it is for the community to self-police within threads.

The mods have enough on their plate without having to read every link as soon as it gets posted in order to determine whether an objectionable comment was Snark Born of Ignorance, Snark born of Malice, or Snark Born of Petulance and nuke the first two kinds. And not enough people read the gray to override the innate, handwave-y, ooooh-oooh-pick-me showoffy streak that drives people to do that anyway. (I should know, I've sinned once or twice that way myself.) Enough people have to demonstrate open contempt for it in-thread to make people hesitate before they do it. Otherwise the lure of all those automatic favorites you get for snarking on something high in a hot thread will be too much to tempt the nerdly mind.
posted by Diablevert at 2:31 PM on February 3, 2014 [2 favorites]


I'm not really sure I can respond to a meta where I am called out for misrepresenting someone by directly quoting something they in no way contradict in any other part of their article. It is too silly. Have fun splitting hairs and shouting and stuff.
posted by Artw at 2:34 PM on February 3, 2014 [10 favorites]


I have to agree with Artw. I've seen threadshitting and that's not threadshitting.
posted by crossoverman at 2:38 PM on February 3, 2014 [6 favorites]


I'm not really sure I can respond to a meta where I am called out for misrepresenting someone by directly quoting something they in no way contradict in any other part of their article. It is too silly. Have fun splitting hairs and shouting and stuff.

But that's not what he says in the quote you quoted, and you paraphrased it as if he says they never need to get paid, which is also not what he says.
posted by rtha at 2:42 PM on February 3, 2014 [11 favorites]


Thirded. Now can we get back to the thread?
posted by dabitch at 2:42 PM on February 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


(I was referring to the general phenomenon described rather than anything in particular FWIW, Artw)
posted by Hoopo at 2:43 PM on February 3, 2014


Again, I'm calling out a trend in the community as a whole over many years, Artw. However, you're specifically being called out because your threadshitting was in a way you outright admitted was a result of not fully reading the article -- and I doubt you were unaware you were threadshitting given how flippantly you ended that first comment.

crossoverman: The article in question does not make the argument that creatives should not be paid and specifically pre-emptively addresses the misconception that Artw made in his comment.
posted by flatluigi at 2:44 PM on February 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


I agree with flatluigi in general, but not about the characterization of this comment from ArtW.

This has always been an irksome thing about the blue, though again not a well justified complaint in this instance, and best way to handle it is likely the usual -- FIAMO.
posted by bearwife at 2:44 PM on February 3, 2014


Yeah, I definitely disagree with Artw in that topic but I wouldn't call his comments threadshitting. I would say that people with "skin in the game" and people without it seem to be reading that article very differently, and that makes an "I only read one paragraph, but..." comment even more likely to derail things.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 2:44 PM on February 3, 2014


(As a writer in a profession that does 100% work-for-hire I count myself among those with no skin)
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 2:45 PM on February 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


I thought that was a classic, perhaps even a Platonic threadshit:

-first post
-didn't RTFA
-misrepresents the (bad, but for other reasons) argument of TFA
-includes prediction of how the thread will go down

It's got everything except "I bet this will be deleted."
posted by theodolite at 2:45 PM on February 3, 2014 [71 favorites]


: "I'm not really sure I can respond to a meta where I am called out for misrepresenting someone by directly quoting"

Hahaha I'm going back to 4chan where people have integrity
posted by mullingitover at 2:46 PM on February 3, 2014 [8 favorites]


I'm with bearwife, FIAMO is the way to proceed.

It's always nice when people take the effort to RTFA, but even then, I've seen cases where they may have read but not comprehended the intent. If that's the case, then a gentle correction seems in order without dumping on a commenter from low orbit.
posted by arcticseal at 2:46 PM on February 3, 2014


We should just hide any comments made within 15 minutes of a post going live, for everyone except the poster of the comment.
posted by danny the boy at 2:49 PM on February 3, 2014 [6 favorites]


It's certainly a mischaracterization to go from asserting that people will always be creative because it's a fundamental part of being human, like language acquisition, to "creatives don't need to get paid." His argument in the rest of the essay describes in detail how he thinks creatives should be paid for their work. Restructuring how creatives are paid is the point of the article, not "creatives don't need to get paid."

I think it's a bit much to call your (mis)characterization of a quote a "direct quote," much less one that is representative of what the article is about.
posted by jsturgill at 2:49 PM on February 3, 2014 [5 favorites]


bearwife: I take "flag it and move on" to heart (I've commented very infrequently in recent times as a result), but this trend tends to result in entire Metafilter comment threads being derailed away from the subject of a post and worthwhile discussion of it.

It's extremely frustrating to see a good article and want to hear the community's thoughts on it to only see that they're talking about something completely different!
posted by flatluigi at 2:50 PM on February 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


I actually read the whole article before reading the comments, and i was confused by ArtW first comment. It portrays the article as supporting something which is opposite of the article's intent. If context is splitting hairs, then so be it.
posted by Roger Dodger at 2:51 PM on February 3, 2014 [15 favorites]


We should just hide any comments made within 15 minutes of a post going live

Failing gentle nudging to participants to read before commenting, I wonder if there's a way for the Metafilter Post Engine to scan content on submission, putting an automatic comment delay on for some number x minutes multiplied by the number of bytes in the main link, or use the word count or video length. For instance, there seems little reason to allow comments on a 60 minute video before a one hour delay is up. That way, if it's a really long article or video, commenters like Artw have to read the links before commenting, or they get dissuaded from posting because they have to wait before posting without reading links.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:56 PM on February 3, 2014 [2 favorites]


A comment may not be intended to be a threadshit, but if it asserts something about the linked material that the linked material doesn't actually say, and the commenter is asserting that it does when they haven't even read the article, then it functions as a threadshit regardless of intent.
posted by rtha at 2:57 PM on February 3, 2014 [23 favorites]


I agree that it is not helpful for people to jump on a soapbox and start making pre-packaged arguments without reading links. I wish people wouldn't do that.

Of course, a good way to avoid that is not to have posts which do little more than tee-up a pre-packaged argument and encourage the establishment of trenches on a well-worn battlefield. Admittedly, I didn't read this article (nor did I comment because it did not interest me), but having taken classes in intellectual property, litigated IP cases, read countless cases and treatises on it, I'm willing to guess that the guy has not offered anything new or novel on the area. If he hasn't, I'm not sure what else comes of such a post other than a regurgitation of the fight. It'd be like a post from someone who offers their view as why there is no God. It's nice and all, but it's not likely to change the argument that has existed since the dawn of man.

The not reading the link comments are much more problematic to me when the topic is something new and different that people may not know much about. So I stand with you on requesting that people do so.
posted by dios at 2:58 PM on February 3, 2014 [2 favorites]


I understand why people sometimes brainstorm the technically-enforced delayed commenting idea when this sort of topic comes up, but to be clear it is as much of a total non-starter as it has always been.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:58 PM on February 3, 2014 [6 favorites]


I'm calling out a trend in the community as a whole over many years

One comment is not a trend. Here, I'll help with another I remember, a comment that is the second in the thread, that mentions not reading TFA, that shitted up the thread.

I used to say that flagging works, but more and more often that is not the case - work in the sense of "the mods will certainly do something!" Flagging helps me feel like I'm actually doing something, instead of tearing into a derail.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 3:04 PM on February 3, 2014 [4 favorites]


For instance, there seems little reason to allow comments on a 60 minute video before a one hour delay is up.

Oh hey, I saw this idea elsewhere, I was wondering when it would show up here. Let's talk about it!
posted by asterix at 3:04 PM on February 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


Blazecock Pileon: . For instance, there seems little reason to allow comments on a 60 minute video before a one hour delay is up.

Metafilter functions as an aggregator, the links come from other places, sometimes days or even years after their original entrance to the Web. People may have seen things before.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 3:06 PM on February 3, 2014 [3 favorites]


I used to say that flagging works, but more and more often that is not the case.

Flagging works overarchingly to keep the site running. An individual flagging a thing is not always going to result in the thing being deleted. People have different mental models of how their optimum MetaFilter would work (myself as well) and we try to sort of average that to get the MetaFilter we have.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:06 PM on February 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


For instance, there seems little reason to allow comments on a 60 minute video before a one hour delay is up.

I expect this to be mod-vetoed before I finish typing my comment. However!

This idea has numerous flaws but the most obvious is that it assumes no one has seen the video (or read the article) prior to the post being made.

Additionally, preventing people from threadshitting by systemic means is nigh-impossible. Where there's a will, there's a way.
posted by dotgirl at 3:09 PM on February 3, 2014 [2 favorites]


Flagging works pretty darned well on the whole; nobody (or nearly so at least) complains about the things that are easy deletes that get flagged promptly and deleted. The stuff that we don't see promptly, or that's borderline, or that on odd occasions slips through, is going to stand out as notable because it stands out as notable, but I sure hope folks would not dismiss the overwhelming utility of the system because of the outliers.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:10 PM on February 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


I used to say that flagging works, but more and more often that is not the case

I dunno, a lot of the time the stuff I've flagged winds up gone--I suspect it means that there's a lot of other people flagging the same thing. When it doesn't, just take it as an indication the thing wasn't quite bad enough to go beyond the site's "belongs here" threshold. It doesn't mean the site or the mods love everything that's not deleted.
posted by Hoopo at 3:10 PM on February 3, 2014 [4 favorites]


I had a whole Thing written but lost it.

The most germane point I have: what about a checkbox for the poster of an FPP to check off, indicating that said FPP might get a bit messy and extra mod-attention will be needed, and a 5 or 10 minute delay in the FPP appearing on the front page so whoever's on mod duty has time to finish a doughnut/cime back from the loo/emerge from the regeneration pod before stuff starts going sideways.

I think that might be a solution that could work?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 3:21 PM on February 3, 2014


Apparently I must elaborate.

I used to flag things because I thought they were egregious, they didn't fit, they were mistakes, or derails. I flagged with the expectation of deletion, thinking that by doing so I was contributing to the quality of the site.
But experience has shown this to not be the case. Posts and comments I flag stay up, posts and comments I think will fit have been deleted.
I still flag, though. Not because I expect deletion, or I feel like I'm contributing. I flag because it is better than doing nothing, and more productive than derailing.

"That’s why I tell my students not to listen when someone says it’s never too late. It’s always too late – but try anyway." - Dr. Stewart Lindh
posted by the man of twists and turns at 3:23 PM on February 3, 2014 [4 favorites]


dotgirl: "This idea has numerous flaws but the most obvious is that it assumes no one has seen the video (or read the article) prior to the post being made. "

Not really. I mean I realize we're never going to implement a technical solution to something like this, but no, it doesn't assume that content doesn't exist outside of metafilter.

What it does assume is that low value/derailing/drive-by comments are done by people who don't have interest in honestly engaging with the content. By putting in a delay, you a minor barrier up against people who like to do knee-jerk comments. People who have previously seen the material, but don't have a burning righteous need to make a comment RIGHT NOW!!! will just come back in 15 minutes.

Kind of like how $5 doesn't deter all the spammers and trolls, but it helps quite a bit.

Anyway, that's the hypothesis. Again, understood that we'll never do something like that here.
posted by danny the boy at 3:26 PM on February 3, 2014


Metafilter functions as an aggregator, the links come from other places, sometimes days or even years after their original entrance to the Web. People may have seen things before.

As this is a non-starter, I realize we're just shooting the breeze, but the likelihood seems low for a completely novel, mind-blowing comment within, say, the first 60 minutes of a post to an hour-long video that others have seen. There's nothing particularly special about a delay that would prevent people who have seen the content before from commenting, once the timer has expired. And if it has been seen before, it has likely been commented on before, as well. Anyway, just shooting the breeze.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:26 PM on February 3, 2014


Flagging as noise/derail has always worked well for me in the past in dealing with early threadshitting. I can only recall doing it a handful of times, but it's always led to a deletion of the offending comment. Granted, this probably only really works if the thread is still new; if the damage has been done and we're thirty comments in from the threadshit at comment number one then I imagine there's not much to be done about it anymore.

The moral of that story is that people should be more aggressive about flagging threadshits while they're fresh. Threadshitting is something almost everyone agrees is sucky (even if many of us still do it from time to time when we're not really thinking things through) so I feel like this is something that people ought to be able to get behind. I'm sure I've dropped a few early threadshits myself over the years, but if one of them got flagged and deleted I'd honestly probably be grateful.

That said, it would be even better if people could just not do it in the first place. A reminder to avoid the practice is probably a good thing from time to time (though I'm not so sure if it needed to be a specific call-out) and I'll try to keep it in mind. Of course one user's threadshit is another user's cutting and pertinent remark, so even if everybody was on their best behavior at all times we'd probably never reach Zero Shits. The only way to deal with that is to flag 'em while they're fresh and let the mods make the call.
posted by Scientist at 3:27 PM on February 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


Yes, these comments happen. They suck. Maybe users should flag them and moderators should delete them. I think that gets into problematic territory for a few reasons, but I understand the logic. It's not a per se bad idea.

But you've buried a key phrase in this MeTa: "leading into arguments." There is a community responsibility here, and it's one that MeFites mostly suck at. When someone trolls or threadshits, you do not have to respond. You can ignore that shitty comment and we can all continue our grown-up conversation as if it weren't there. If instead you respond to it and an argument is then "led into," well, that result is exactly half your fault.

We talk a lot about flagging, and we talk a lot about what the mods' response to flagging should be. Half these problems would vanish overnight if the userbase could grasp the "move on" principle.
posted by cribcage at 3:30 PM on February 3, 2014 [5 favorites]


"flagging" doesn't work i "flag" all day

no cantons no fimbriation

vexillology is a lie
posted by klangklangston at 3:30 PM on February 3, 2014 [6 favorites]


If delayed commenting is a no-go technical solution, what about for the first X minutes of a thread, the 'post' button would function identically as 'preview'?

Nobody would be prevented from commenting, but it might be the equivalent of the $5 as a speedbump for the kneejerky.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 3:31 PM on February 3, 2014


Yes, this is a thing, something people do. There is no technical fix for this. The robots could take over, put everyone in the Matrix and then recode "reality" so that people don't do and it would still happen, because people are people.

Flag'em. Flag will anger, flag 'em with glee, flag 'em while you're out a sea, but you gotta flag, flag and flag some more. Anything to lessen this foolishness would great and flagging is the only way.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:32 PM on February 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


In other words, a commenting delay isn't there to make sure you've read the material by timing you, it's there to frustrate people who want to lob a grenade into a thread and never look back. The only significance of how long the delay actually is, is to make sure you're not inconveniencing the majority of people (who are busy reading the links), so it would make sense to tie it to how long a video or article is, in an ideal setup.
posted by danny the boy at 3:35 PM on February 3, 2014


I'm pretty sure that any suggestions involving delayed commenting in threads are a no-go around here, and I'm really glad that's the case. Having any kind of comment delay would make me feel as though I'm being treated like a little kid, and MeFi has always been a place that seems to operate under the assumption that users are basically mature adults who know how to use their judgment, even if they screw up from time to time.
posted by Scientist at 3:35 PM on February 3, 2014 [5 favorites]


Yeah, Art, you're a nice guy and stuff but it was a shitty comment and it started a derail. I read Walker's article and had numerous problems with it, but you misrepresented a quote that you severed from its context in order to say something transparently, completely wrong about the linked material. It made that thread worse, and the site as a whole incrementally worse.

Probably try not to do that.

Which of course is the only "answer" for the problem, just... people have to be more thoughtful and not crappy about stuff, and that's a problem that's unlikely to go away really ever. A more productive approach (and I've done this) is to drop people a memail that says "hey, you dropped your pants and took a big shit in the middle of the carpet and really, please don't do that?" (delicate wording is important when you're trying to hoe this particular row)

Good luck!
posted by kavasa at 3:38 PM on February 3, 2014 [6 favorites]


I had a premonition that this thread would be here after reading the first couple of comments.
posted by Pyrogenesis at 3:38 PM on February 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


The only significance of how long the delay actually is, is to make sure you're not inconveniencing the majority of people (who are busy reading the links), so it would make sense to tie it to how long a video or article is, in an ideal setup.

This presupposes that people haven't read/viewed the links from other sources before seeing the post on the blue.

I mean, I love MetaFilter and all, but the days where a significant percentage of links were stuff I hadn't already seen in other places are loooong gone. And I'm not even that active on Facebook or Twitter.
posted by lalex at 3:39 PM on February 3, 2014 [4 favorites]


btw, Art, if you're actually legitimately confused as to why that selective quote isn't the slam dunk you seem (???) to think it is, drop me a line and I'll politely explain it for you. But you're really making yourself look like a sad caricature of bad faith argument in that thread. =/
posted by kavasa at 3:48 PM on February 3, 2014


While we're discussing technological solutions that will never be implemented, how about disabling favourites on the first ten comments of threads? It wouldn't eliminate the problem, but I suspect it would reduce the incentive to be the first to poop on the post.
posted by Busy Old Fool at 4:03 PM on February 3, 2014 [2 favorites]


The topic at hand here is, sad to say, one of the main reasons why I don't hang out on the blue too much. I don't play facebook, but that's ok because my friends will probably send me the link in a year or two.

Flagging does work, but of all the places out there, I'd have thought that our great peeps here would be better at the moving on bit. (Sorry, I'm one of those people who flags and then revisits the thread to see if anything happened).
posted by Juso No Thankyou at 4:25 PM on February 3, 2014


A minor delay like 3-60 minutes would do little. If only because someone loading the front page for the first time that day 60 minutes after a 60 minute delay can go directly to posting. At best it would have minor impact on people compulsively refreshing the front page.

If you want it to make a difference make it a 24 hour delay. Not only would it have maximum impact on this problem but it would go a long way to prevent breaking news speculation of real time events without sufficient information.
posted by Mitheral at 4:31 PM on February 3, 2014


I didn't read the article but I did read the comment and I saw it as a likely candidate for being a derail, aggression-baiting, and likely to cause much frustration on the part of those people who actually read the article and wanted to discuss it on the level of, ya'know, having read it.

I went to the Billy Nye thread instead. I didn't feel any better but at least I didn't feel any worse necessarily.
posted by RolandOfEld at 4:39 PM on February 3, 2014


Charge another 5 bucks for commenting within the first hour.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 4:41 PM on February 3, 2014 [5 favorites]


The only difficulty I can see with that, Mitheral, is then threads will be populated with people deeply invested in subjects one way or another; I think people with passing interest who might otherwise post would probably have that impulse fade away a bit after 24h. I can see that becoming real axegrindy real quick (see also: Wikipedia talk pages).

Maybe an auto-threshold for flags that would hide a given comment if it's flagged a certain number of times in proportion to the length of the thread? That would give mods a bit of buffer in their response time.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 4:42 PM on February 3, 2014


Why is the discussion focusing on Artw when Ironmouth is dropping these beauties:

If its not such a big deal, make your own music, motherfucker. Then you won't have to steal someone else's. Link

Leaving aside the hyperbole, the FPP is primarily centered about video games, not music.

he sure does say creatives shouldn't get paid. Link

Pretty aggro hyperbole again.

people who write opinions on other people's creative work are not creatives. They're critics. Link

Think that speaks for itself.
posted by PMdixon at 4:53 PM on February 3, 2014 [16 favorites]


Cooldown on posting additional comments within a thread. I cannot count the number of threads that would stop from becoming the [BULLDOGING USER NAME HERE]-Show.
posted by absalom at 5:00 PM on February 3, 2014 [2 favorites]


Why is the discussion focusing on Artw when Ironmouth is dropping these beauties

ArtW looks better in a cape.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:09 PM on February 3, 2014 [5 favorites]


What matter does it make if anyone RTFA in an FPP that has been done to death anyway?
posted by Ardiril at 5:12 PM on February 3, 2014 [2 favorites]


Is there any reason why this discussion should focus on either of them?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 5:13 PM on February 3, 2014 [3 favorites]


What matter does it make if anyone RTFA in an FPP that has been done to death anyway?

If you think a dead horse is being abused, you should keep walking, not try to get your whip practice in.
posted by PMdixon at 5:13 PM on February 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


I believe, PMdixon, if you check out that thread, I have not participated in it.
posted by Ardiril at 5:14 PM on February 3, 2014


Didn't mean to imply you did. Just objecting to what I read as the equivalent of a shrug/"boys will be boys".
posted by PMdixon at 5:15 PM on February 3, 2014


Well, in that case, copyright threads will be copyright threads, rape threads will be rape threads, I/P threads will be I/P threads, and ever the twains shall collide.
posted by Ardiril at 5:19 PM on February 3, 2014


That's kind of defeatist, isn't it?

To me, one of the core values the Mefi community in general has always seemed to espouse is that we as a group can always do a little better. Thus discussions like this one.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 5:21 PM on February 3, 2014 [4 favorites]


I thought Artw was reacting to the framing of the post; as such his comment seems pretty fair. Of course, if you do not happen to agree with Artw I suppose you would wish that he would rather not react to how the thread was framed by the OP...
posted by KokuRyu at 5:23 PM on February 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


To me, one of the core values the Mefi community in general has always seemed to espouse is that we as a group can always do a little better. Thus discussions like this one.

yup.
maybe I just haven't been looking in the right places of late, but I can't remember the last time I got mired in a deeply contentious theism/atheism thread. we actually seem to do those better than we used to, and I can't help but feel that a pile of difficult (but not pointless) metas have aided this ...

baby steps ...
posted by philip-random at 5:36 PM on February 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


If its not such a big deal, make your own music, motherfucker. Then you won't have to steal someone else's

Holy shit. Don't know how I missed that one. Considering how much copyright conversations invoke sampling, this is especially off the mark.
posted by Hoopo at 5:44 PM on February 3, 2014


For what it's worth, I can hardly think of a single thread I've ever seen Ironmouth participate in that he didn't artfully troll. He's on some boss-level shit. Mentally FIAMOing is the only way I can avoid wanting to throw my laptop across the room while reading a thread he's in.
posted by threeants at 5:52 PM on February 3, 2014 [16 favorites]


The most germane point I have: what about a checkbox for the poster of an FPP to check off, indicating that said FPP might get a bit messy and extra mod-attention will be needed, and a 5 or 10 minute delay in the FPP appearing on the front page so whoever's on mod duty has time to finish a doughnut/cime back from the loo/emerge from the regeneration pod before stuff starts going sideways.

We can call it the "OHGODOHGODPLEASEDON'TDELETEMYPOST" checkbox. :D
posted by zarq at 5:53 PM on February 3, 2014 [6 favorites]


Is there any reason why this discussion should focus on either of them?

Have you seen IronMouth's Volcano Retreat of Silence?!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:54 PM on February 3, 2014


MetaTalk: Have fun splitting hairs and shouting and stuff.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 6:08 PM on February 3, 2014 [13 favorites]


Flagging as noise/derail has always worked well for me

It's certainly always worked pretty well against me.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 6:09 PM on February 3, 2014 [2 favorites]


This thread, about an essay written by Kevin D. Williamson on poverty in Kentucky, went much the same way: Mefites raced each other to brag about how they read up until the first idiotic thing that Williamson wrote, and then couldn't stomach any more of it and stopped right there. Most assumed that the article was standard National Review boilerplate, specifically mentioned a point Williamson raises early on (abortion), and repeated standard "NRO is such rightwing crap" arguments without reading far enough to notice that Williamson raised the point to skewer Republicans and social conservatives later on with it.

There was an interesting discussion that could have resulted from that article, moreso because Williamson is a villain around these parts but wrote something worth discussing. But twenty comments in we had a parade of mefites flying their progressive flag and ensuring that no such thing was going to happen because anyone who wanted to discuss it first had to defend themselves as not being sensitive enough to be disgusted and unable to finish it.

There's a long list of topics that Metafilter "doesn't do well", and for most of them the answer is "slow down, deep breath, and converse about it rather than froth". If your comment starts "I didn't RTFA but..." then you should probably not write the rest of the comment, go RTFA, let your sensitivities adjust, and then come back to comment as if it's an opportunity to share views rather than demonstrate that your passion burns hotter than mine.
posted by fatbird at 6:31 PM on February 3, 2014 [11 favorites]


I think we need to consider the source material here. The original article is juvenile and confusing, and the FPP quotes a particularly juvenile and confusing part of it. The original article is long and rambling and nearly contradicts itself a few times.

There's an intelligent discussion of copyright reform to be had, and some intelligent material (Lessig? O'Reilly?) to base it on. But this article and this FPP weren't the way to start it.

If you ask me the article and FPP got exactly the childish discussion they deserved.
posted by mmoncur at 6:32 PM on February 3, 2014 [3 favorites]


I'd like to think Metafilter could be up to the challenge of acting respectably and maturely even in threads they don't like, mmoncur. I'm sorry you don't agree.
posted by flatluigi at 6:34 PM on February 3, 2014 [4 favorites]


I used to say that flagging works, but more and more often that is not the case - work in the sense of "the mods will certainly do something!" Flagging helps me feel like I'm actually doing something, instead of tearing into a derail.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 3:04 PM on February 3


I have written the mods a few times recently about comments that bothered me (maybe mostly on the green). Every single time I wrote them, I was satisfied by the interaction ... They took my concerns seriously. So maybe if a first-comment is really shitty and unfair, a quick note to the mods (so they don't have to read all the links and figure it out themselves) would be more likely to result in the nasty comment being deleted.
posted by jayder at 6:45 PM on February 3, 2014 [2 favorites]


fatbird: "This thread, about an essay written by Kevin D. Williamson on poverty in Kentucky, went much the same way"

The "WWI a mistake for Britain?" thread had the same issue. Everyone had to get their two whacks on Niall Ferguson in before we could have any discussion of the topic.
posted by Chrysostom at 6:53 PM on February 3, 2014 [5 favorites]


This is like the anti-WAKE UP SHEEPLE MeTa.

TAKE A ONE HOUR NAP, SHEEPLE.

SLIGHTLY DELAYED ALL MY LIFE.
posted by maryr at 7:07 PM on February 3, 2014 [20 favorites]


I was not a fan of Ironmouth's participation in the discussion either. I think he is someone who very strongly feels that IP piracy is wrong from a legal and moral perspective and sometimes he wants to discuss that in threads that are about other closely related issues.

He likes to argue some topics, and when it's on topic for the thread it can be infuriating if you disagree with him but very valuable to the conversation as a whole, but when it is off topic it can be bad for the thread.

He can also sometimes make assumptions about people based on the content of their argument, for instance that they are "not creatives" in this case, that can cause people to justifiably respond and derail the conversation a bit on personal stuff. That should be avoided if possible. Some very well known creative folks here are also very vocal about having issues with IP law and they have explained their perspective to him in the past. I have to stretch to consider that a mistake made in honest good faith.
posted by Drinky Die at 7:12 PM on February 3, 2014 [5 favorites]


SLIGHTLY DELAYED ALL MY LIFE.

ah yes, the old family crest.
posted by threeants at 7:16 PM on February 3, 2014 [4 favorites]


I keep meaning to make one of those, but I never quite get around to it...
posted by maryr at 7:17 PM on February 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


Procrestination?
posted by Pudhoho at 7:17 PM on February 3, 2014 [8 favorites]


To me, threadshitting is more about saying you can't even stand the subject of the post than disagreeing, no matter how vehemently, with a certain perspective that's been expressed in the FPP.

So coming in a thread about comic artists to say you like one guy's stuff but hate the other would be fine with me, but making snide remarks about how silly it is that adults still read about superheroes will make me give you the Evil Eye.

Similarly, gaming threads are great when there's a spirited debate over the relative merits of a specific game, platform or genre--but lay off the 'basement-dwelling manchild' critiquing of gamers in general, please.

If you don't have a TV, maybe don't wander into TV show threads. If you think that band sucks, find or write a thread about the music you do enjoy. Hate sports? Read a good book, go to the opera, attend a party, it's all the same to me. Just please don't feel the need to come spoil my fun over on the blue.
posted by misha at 8:13 PM on February 3, 2014 [8 favorites]


Oy. I hope that if any of the technical solutions presented in this thread are considered for implementation, they'll at least first get a hearing in an independent MeTa post.
posted by lalex at 8:29 PM on February 3, 2014


We're not considering any technical solutions at this time.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:32 PM on February 3, 2014 [4 favorites]


The original article is juvenile and confusing, and the FPP quotes a particularly juvenile and confusing part of it. The original article is long and rambling and nearly contradicts itself a few times.

I barely got into it before I had that impression. I’m not going to read what appears to be a long, shitty article, and I’m not going to comment on something I didn’t read, so I just favorited the obnoxious comments. Because they were funny.

All writing doesn’t deserve our utmost respect and serious discussion. The cost of publishing on the internet is way too low.
posted by bongo_x at 9:00 PM on February 3, 2014 [2 favorites]


This thread, about an essay written by Kevin D. Williamson on poverty in Kentucky, went much the same way: Mefites raced each other to brag about how they read up until the first idiotic thing that Williamson wrote, and then couldn't stomach any more of it and stopped right there. Most assumed that the article was standard National Review boilerplate, specifically mentioned a point Williamson raises early on (abortion), and repeated standard "NRO is such rightwing crap" arguments without reading far enough to notice that Williamson raised the point to skewer Republicans and social conservatives later on with it

I'm fairly sure that you're the one that didn't read that article carefully. It's really a nasty piece of work, top to bottom.
posted by empath at 9:59 PM on February 3, 2014 [4 favorites]


All writing doesn’t deserve our utmost respect and serious discussion. The cost of publishing on the internet is way too low.

Rock Paper Shotgun is pretty much the most influential PC gaming blog on the internet, especially for independent games, so whatever they say is worth considering, if we're going to talk about games here. They're probably one of the most linked sites on metafilter, to be honest.
posted by empath at 10:03 PM on February 3, 2014


I'm fairly sure that you're the one that didn't read that article carefully. It's really a nasty piece of work, top to bottom.

I may have misjudged it, but I at least finished it, which is something most of the participants in the thread bragged about not doing.
posted by fatbird at 10:34 PM on February 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


METAFILTER: so I just favorited the obnoxious comments. Because they were funny.
posted by philip-random at 10:37 PM on February 3, 2014 [2 favorites]


"threadshit" would make a good flag option actually
posted by infini at 11:07 PM on February 3, 2014 [2 favorites]


I always assumed "offensive" was the threadshit tag. Maybe I should use "other"?

Anyway, I tend to go the Schroedinger's Thread route. If a comment seems flaggable, I do so, and I never look back. Makes life peachy. Similarly I might be the king of deleted comments, but how would I know? Why go back and look?

Have your say and move on, be it by comment or by flag.
posted by davejay at 11:43 PM on February 3, 2014 [3 favorites]


I feel like there are two separate types of threadshits here:

1) early, idiot comments - which are annoying but I find flagging moderately (ha) effective for.

2) People for whom there are some threads/topics they should not participate in, because they cannot control themselves.

Artw and ironmouth should not participate in copyright threads. They consistently shit them up and fail to have anything constructive to add. The consistency is the issue. Joe in Australia, though I like him, has a similar lack of control in IP threads. We all have our topics, the key is staying out of the posts.

Finally, I feel like weak links beget weak comments. The problem is that merely weak links will not pick up flags necessarily, so it puts a heavy onus on mods to judge, which would bring its own problems.
posted by smoke at 2:08 AM on February 4, 2014


I take issue with that. I disagree regularly with Joe in Australia but I don't think he threadshits in IP threads at all.

IP threads have a reputation for going to pot but my experience is that they are far better behaved than hot button social justice threads.

For all his sins, not least his skill at leading the topic on a merry dance, Joe maintains admirable self control in the face of a typical one-on-many argument and has pulled the pants down on his fair share of people less availed of the facts.
posted by MuffinMan at 2:26 AM on February 4, 2014 [7 favorites]


Fair enough MuffinMan; indeed your taking issue highlights the challenge: one man's threadshit is another's fine elocuter (I want to reiterate that I like Joe, enjoy his presence here, agree with you about occasional depantsing and dance moves).

IP threads have a reputation for going to pot but my experience is that they are far better behaved than hot button social justice threads.

I gingerly agree - I think part of the reason is that the mods are on red alert for them, and perhaps more importantly, the bar for the posts is much, much higher than the median here.
posted by smoke at 2:31 AM on February 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


I take "flag it and move on" to heart

I take "flag it and move on" to dinner, a movie, and if things go well, hey, no telling!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:15 AM on February 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


Long live the glorious technical solution revolution! (Less) Power to the People! 15 minutes or less could save you 15% on threadshitting comments! Stand strong my brothers, they can't calmly decline to consider all of us!
posted by Potomac Avenue at 3:30 AM on February 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


Won't somebody think of the wanking pirates ??
posted by sgt.serenity at 3:57 AM on February 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


We don't need a technical solution here because nothing is broken.

This is user error.
posted by Juso No Thankyou at 4:18 AM on February 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


Won't somebody think of the wanking pirates ?

.. or the poor semen they so casually toss overboard on the high seas, with little hope of swimming to the safety of land.
posted by MuffinMan at 4:43 AM on February 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


This happens on the green too. An OP can cover possible issues that might come up, but still have the question basically slapped down by people who are being negative and not even answering the question.

It's happened with my posts and I've seen it happen with others. Some people just can't read it and walk away when they don't have anything worthwhile to reply with. I tend to think of them as "supposedly well-meaning trolls".
posted by DisreputableDog at 5:25 AM on February 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


Of course, a good way to avoid that is not to have posts which do little more than tee-up a pre-packaged argument and encourage the establishment of trenches on a well-worn battlefield.

I am not pro-threadshit at all, but am currently still up on this particular hobbyhorse.
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:32 AM on February 4, 2014


what about a checkbox for the poster of an FPP to check off, indicating that said FPP might get a bit messy and extra mod-attention will be needed, and a 5 or 10 minute delay in the FPP appearing on the front page

I would use this so hard, but only for nefarious purposes.

PEOPLE SHOULD BE REQUIRED TO WATCH THIS 43 SECOND VIDEO OF A CORGI FALLING ASLEEP AS MANY TIMES AS I HAVE BEFORE THEY'RE ALLOWED TO COMMENT ON IT. AAAAAHHH LOOK AT HIM SO SLEEEEPY YAAAAY PUPPY!!!!!

And so forth.
posted by phunniemee at 6:56 AM on February 4, 2014 [4 favorites]


I wrote a greasemonkey script to change the display of the first 5 comments in a thread to "FRIST!". Nothing really gets lost in the translation.
posted by klarck at 7:06 AM on February 4, 2014 [3 favorites]


I may have misjudged it, but I at least finished it ...

I'm just spitballing here, but maybe readers should be prohibited from commenting until they've taken a test on the content as well.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:08 AM on February 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


I thought Artw was reacting to the framing of the post; as such his comment seems pretty fair.

While we're at it, I really wish this would stop, too. To me, it doesn't seem all that dissimilar to a tone argument, and I find it quite grating.
posted by likeatoaster at 7:22 AM on February 4, 2014 [4 favorites]


Rock Paper Shotgun is pretty much the most influential PC gaming blog on the internet, especially for independent games, so whatever they say is worth considering, if we're going to talk about games here. They're probably one of the most linked sites on metafilter, to be honest.

This doesn't change the fact that it was a poorly written FA (that apparently wasn't even spell-checked, much less copy edited) and the framing of the FPP did nothing to elucidate its argument. "I didn't RTFA" comments are rarely justified, but you get a lot fewer of those if TFA is easy to R, or if the FPP frames it in such a way as to head off misconceptions about its thesis.
posted by payoto at 7:22 AM on February 4, 2014 [3 favorites]


octobersurprise: "I'm just spitballing here, but maybe readers should be prohibited from commenting until they've taken a test on the content as well."

Creating those tests would be fun.

"At the 46 minute mark on the 37th video link in the sixth paragraph of the post, what ingredient does Iron Chef Sakai add to his Trout Ice Cream hoping that it will 'mask the fish flavor'? Did it work?"
posted by zarq at 7:53 AM on February 4, 2014 [14 favorites]


Pidan egg. Define "work."
posted by The Riker Who Mounts the World at 7:58 AM on February 4, 2014 [5 favorites]


I'd like to think Metafilter could be up to the challenge of acting respectably and maturely even in threads they don't like, mmoncur. I'm sorry you don't agree.

That's cute. Why would you think that, though? There already are topics which pretty much have to framed in a very particular way because the mods KNOW that mefites won't be able to handle it any other way.
posted by hal_c_on at 8:17 AM on February 4, 2014


Nthing the threadshit flag.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 8:33 AM on February 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


Pop quiz, hotshot!
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:42 AM on February 4, 2014 [5 favorites]


"threadshit" would make a good flag option actually

Does dropping turds in the middle of the living room carpet no longer break the guidelines? Must have missed that memo.

Jacouman causes it; we will be emancipated
posted by flabdablet at 8:46 AM on February 4, 2014


"I'm just spitballing here, but maybe readers should be prohibited from commenting until they've taken a test on the content as well."

Multiple choice quiz on my sparkle ponies? Well I guess I wasn't really going to post anything worthwhile anyway, funny, but quite the very inappropriate.
posted by sammyo at 8:47 AM on February 4, 2014


I mean I'd love to have erudite, entertaining, educated commentators eloquently elucidating on the economy but instead I get unicorns farting rainbow sparkles, so whatever, I deal with it.
posted by infini at 9:06 AM on February 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


Won't somebody think of the wanking pirates ??

All. The. Time.
posted by bongo_x at 10:12 AM on February 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


There is a little bit of a danger in all this "OMG threadshitting!" grar that what gets called "threadshitting" tends also to be comments that run counter to the prevailing Mefi orthodoxies. That is, an early dismissive clearly-didn't-read-the-linked-piece comment that is flaming Republicans or the Tea Party or homophobes or what have you will happily rack up piles of favorites without anyone, much, caring about the reflexive dismissiveness of the comment.

No doubt we all have our different models of what constitutes a "good conversation" about a given topic. Those who are most distressed by digressive comments clearly have a model that's something like a well-conducted meeting. There's a specific item up for discussion and by and large discussion that is not germane to that agenda item is deprecated. Personally I have a more "family dinner table" model of "good conversation" in my mind. Sure, there might be some main thread to which we keep coming back, but a few decent digressions, comic irrelevancies, seat-of-the-pants BS theories etc. just keep the thing bubbling along. It rarely seems to the case, to me, that just because Mefites A, B and C want to argue about X in a given thread that I'm prevented from arguing with Mefites D, E and F about Y in the same thread. Artw didn't force anyone to respond to his comment. People responded because it's a discussion they want to have. If other people want to have a discussion based solely on their understanding of the author's (somewhat muddled) thesis, then they're really not prevented from doing so by the fact that other discussions are continuing in the same thread.

I'm not saying, I should add, that there's no such thing as threadshitting and that the mods should never delete any comments. Clearly there are cases where someone is just spoiling for a fight that really doesn't need to be had. But I also think that the mods need to keep operating with a fairly light hand or the discussions risk becoming pretty dull echo-chambers.
posted by yoink at 10:30 AM on February 4, 2014 [11 favorites]


yoink: "There is a little bit of a danger in all this "OMG threadshitting!" grar that what gets called "threadshitting" tends also to be comments that run counter to the prevailing Mefi orthodoxies."

You should see the giant poster of mathowie I have on my wall. It's like 20 feet tall, in red and black, and it says OBEY MATHOWIE along the bottom. I also have a little red book with all of jessamyn's edicts written in it.

In crayon.

LONG LIVE THE GLORIOUS PEOPLE'S FILTER.
posted by scrump at 10:44 AM on February 4, 2014 [6 favorites]


Metafilter: pulled the pants down on his fair share of people less availed of the facts.
posted by Melismata at 10:50 AM on February 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


You should see the giant poster of mathowie I have on my wall. It's like 20 feet tall, in red and black, and it says OBEY MATHOWIE along the bottom. I also have a little red book with all of jessamyn's edicts written in it.

All social groups have prevailing norms and beliefs. I'm not saying they're handed down from above, I'm simply saying that Metafilter members, like any social group, self-select along various more-or-less predictable lines on certain sets of social and political views. There are those who like that and would like to do more to make those who do not share those views unwelcome and there are those, like me, who think it's a bit of a shame, and that our discussions would be richer if they entertained a somewhat wider variety of perspectives.
posted by yoink at 10:51 AM on February 4, 2014 [8 favorites]


I also have a little red book with all of jessamyn's edicts written in it.

Those are my edicts for you. yoink would have different ones.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:51 AM on February 4, 2014 [20 favorites]


I take issue with that. I disagree regularly with Joe in Australia but I don't think he threadshits in IP threads at all.

I totally agree.

In any extensive discussion of Israel, the absence of Joe in Australia would be a detriment.
posted by jamjam at 11:00 AM on February 4, 2014


You should see the giant poster of mathowie I have on my wall.

Is it this one?
posted by octobersurprise at 11:03 AM on February 4, 2014 [12 favorites]


After three plus years on Mefi I have yet to understand what exactly "threadshitting" is supposed to mean.

One thing I have learned though is that copyright & IP is a topic that Mefi "doesn't do well". I read the article, but didn't read the thread, because I doubted it was going to be enriching my life with thoughtful discussions and fresh insights.

Maybe the same kind of mod policies should apply to the subject as some other hot button topics that generate more heat than light here.
posted by philipy at 11:12 AM on February 4, 2014


To me, it doesn't seem all that dissimilar to a tone argument, and I find it quite grating.

speaking of grating
posted by Hoopo at 11:19 AM on February 4, 2014


Clearly, since we don't do I/P or IP well, the issue is the letters I and P. Please do not submit posts about the Philippines, philippics, Lipps, Inc., Pink Floyd (especially the album Piper at the Gates of Dawn), or Pippin Took.
posted by Chrysostom at 11:24 AM on February 4, 2014 [4 favorites]


... or Pippin Took

Noooooo!

We do Tolkien very well here.
posted by philipy at 11:27 AM on February 4, 2014


Of course you would say that, look at your user name.
posted by Chrysostom at 11:31 AM on February 4, 2014


*prepares post on IP in the Philippines*
posted by philipy at 11:40 AM on February 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


Chrysostom: "Pippin Took."

Fool of a Took!
posted by zarq at 11:45 AM on February 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


I'm not saying, I should add, that there's no such thing as threadshitting and that the mods should never delete any comments. Clearly there are cases where someone is just spoiling for a fight that really doesn't need to be had. But I also think that the mods need to keep operating with a fairly light hand or the discussions risk becoming pretty dull echo-chambers.

On the other hand, I think a minimum bar should be understanding what you're commenting about. If you are talking about X, when the person you're talking with (or the article you're responding to) is talking about Y, and you don't seem to realize the difference, then you're doing something wrong and making the world a slightly worse place.

It might be "nice" for the community as a whole to not engage with those sorts of comments, but it would also be "nice" for the person making them to not double down repeatedly on their mistake as it gets pointed out to them over and over again, while being proud of both misunderstanding what they did read and of not having read any further.
posted by jsturgill at 12:12 PM on February 4, 2014 [3 favorites]


I think it could be great to have a Flag option for "didn't RTF (article, question, etc.)
A lot of times it's not really what I would characterize as threadshitting, just sloppy obviously-didn't-read-past-the-first-paragraph-so-I'll-just-post-my-witty-bon-mot-about-TOPIC.

It happens in Ask a fair amount, too - someone early on misses a crucial detail and thus gives bad advice, and then much of the post is either the commenters saying "you missed where they said X" or else piggybacking off advice that wasn't based on RTFQ in the first place.
posted by nakedmolerats at 12:39 PM on February 4, 2014 [4 favorites]


Feel free to declare victory because I no longer have a desire to engage with this site. Too dishonest, sniper and awful. People disagreeing with you is not "threadshitting" and it is ridiculous that the argument that it is gets given the time of day.

Catch you on the tweets,

ArtW
posted by Artw at 12:45 PM on February 4, 2014 [8 favorites]


*resets the "Number of Days Since Last Flameout" sign back to "0"*
posted by entropicamericana at 12:48 PM on February 4, 2014 [3 favorites]


Artw, I got through your first sentence but didn't read the rest, although I'm commenting anyway.
posted by FreezBoy at 12:48 PM on February 4, 2014 [8 favorites]


> Feel free to declare victory because I no longer have a desire to engage with this site.

Honestly, you should go back and look at how you engage. If you aren't being snippy you're dropping glib bombs as absolute fact. It helps to realize that others are here, and your opinion is one of many.
posted by planetesimal at 12:51 PM on February 4, 2014 [13 favorites]


You should see the giant poster of mathowie I have on my wall. It's like 20 feet tall, in red and black, and it says OBEY MATHOWIE along the bottom.

Wait until you see the MeFi app for Google Glass.
posted by biffa at 1:01 PM on February 4, 2014


I really hope that conversations on this site in the future improve to the point where an honest plea for better discourse isn't taken as dishonesty and trolling, and it's really frustrating to hear that people thought my post was anything but. I only specifically pointed at Artw because I felt those comments were over the top to the point that they were a prime example (see theodolite's post above) and that not posting the example after responding in that thread would be subtweet-level of awful discourse - and, after all, I want the site to be better.

I don't know what to personally think about Artw leaving, but I do hope that during his time away he's able to get some reflection done on it all.
posted by flatluigi at 1:03 PM on February 4, 2014 [3 favorites]


entropicamericana: *resets the "Number of Days Since Last Flameout" sign back to "0"*

Are we talking about Artw's last flameout or the site in general? Like how many has he had thus far?

Artw: Catch you on the tweets,

Oh goodie. Hopefully you'll use Twitter like a petulant child once again to make disparaging remarks about this site and its user base, post-flameout.
posted by gman at 1:05 PM on February 4, 2014 [3 favorites]


Maybe let's just not attempt to be immediately dickish about someone buttoning, yo.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:07 PM on February 4, 2014 [18 favorites]


Well, poop, again.
posted by Jpfed at 1:08 PM on February 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


lame
posted by Drinky Die at 1:11 PM on February 4, 2014


Artw: "People disagreeing with you is not "threadshitting""

The problem is not whether you are disagreeing with people or even if the premise of the linked article is fatally flawed.

It's that you didn't even bother to read the fucking thing all the way through before complaining about it.

Art, you're one of Metafilter's most prolific posters, and you know damned well why not Reading the Fucking Article is an issue on this site. For heaven's sake, you once suggested that we start a Read The Fucking Article Day!

You know better, Art.
posted by zarq at 1:15 PM on February 4, 2014 [18 favorites]


Flagging means do something? I honestly thought it was a way to comment on your own preferences. A survey tool for mods more than a request.

The Meta filters version of "is this ad useful to you?"

On the other hand, I am dumb.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 1:21 PM on February 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


Flagging means "hey, go delete this shitty comment before I give you more shitty comments in response to delete, will ya?"

YMMV
posted by planetesimal at 1:24 PM on February 4, 2014


Flagging entry in the FAQ.

Flagging entry in the wiki.
posted by Chrysostom at 1:29 PM on February 4, 2014


Flagging entry in the FAQ.

Flagging entry in the wiki.


Flagged as flagrant, flagitious flagellation.
posted by yoink at 1:46 PM on February 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


Flagtastic comment.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:49 PM on February 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


Well, shit. I hope you choose to come back someday, Artw. This place won't be the same without you.
posted by homunculus at 2:25 PM on February 4, 2014


I'm pretty sure he won't be back.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:29 PM on February 4, 2014


"Moderators will look at every flagged item, but not every flag will result in obvious action. Even those flags can be helpful, though, for example putting a contentious discussion on the mod's radar, or allowing the mod to email someone behind the scenes."


That's what I thought was the key point.

The assurance that every flag will be attended to - that is, even if we do nothing we will note it - and the explanation of what happens when it may appear we weren't paying attention seemed to prepare people for nothing happening (at least not immediately or obviously. )
posted by Lesser Shrew at 2:52 PM on February 4, 2014


Maybe in the future if we don't mean to call someone in particular out in a thread, more than one example of the action we find callout-able could be brought. Surely other examples of threadshitting could be found if this was such a problem that it needed a MeTa for everyone to discuss? Specifically calling out only Artw in this post made it about him, even if that wasn't the intention.
posted by maryr at 3:35 PM on February 4, 2014 [10 favorites]


Yes, I truly hate these MeTa posts that call out particular users. I appreciate that flatluigi was trying to provide specific citation for this concern, but I'd suggest that accumulating a list of posts with early flippant comments by people who didn't read them (a very common phenomena here) would be a much better approach.

I also really question using this thread as a way to call out additional particular users. If you don't like the way someone is commenting in a thread, either flag it or call them on it.

I have seen a lot of people flame out here, and this is a typically how it happens. Surely we can do better than hounding people off the site via MeTa. You know, with reasoning and dialogue and judicious appeals to the mods via flagging.
posted by bearwife at 3:42 PM on February 4, 2014 [9 favorites]


"Specifically calling out only Artw in this post made it about him, even if that wasn't the intention."

Unless you really are calling out a particular person, as in a pattern of behavior or one particular, truly egregious comment, then if you want to include examples, you should include several examples and you shouldn't attribute them by name, both so as to avoid making it personal.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 3:45 PM on February 4, 2014 [7 favorites]


As an alternate perspective, I think this post did a good job of balancing the desire to start a discussion with also wanting to not waste a bunch of time finding citations for a dynamic that is readily apparent to most already. Unless the OP had a secret file of threadshitted threads on hand to reference, I think it's too much to ask for more research than the most recent example that broke the proverbial camel's back.

This thread was not about ArtW until he made it about himself with the fourth comment. Several posters tried to steer it back to the general issue, but some others chimed in to defend his comment, which dragged the discussion back to him.

I think everyone deserves to be treated with respect and kindness. The OP here did that. More work to avoid bruising tender egos wouldn't be out of line or a bad thing if you want to go the extra mile, but I don't know that it's something to be pushed for or expected of every post.

The back and forth about ArtW in particular, rather than site expectations in general, is frustrating to me, but it's useful information. Apparently we can't agree that mischaracterizing other people's ideas, and not bothering to read their shiz all the way through, before posting an early and dismissive comment, qualifies as threadshitting. I think that's interesting and is an unexpected turn of events.
posted by jsturgill at 4:06 PM on February 4, 2014 [5 favorites]


This thread was not about ArtW until he made it about himself with the fourth comment

He is named in the frickin' post! I very much doubt that a Metatalk post that named you as the sole example of X bad behavior would strike you as being "not about you."
posted by yoink at 4:17 PM on February 4, 2014 [12 favorites]


There have been several calls for a "threadshit" flagging option. I respectfully disagree.

"Derail", "noise", and even the beloved "other" are each applicable and preferable to adding a new option. In particular, an option that curses would not be polite. If you ask me, a non-cursing version of "threadshit" is "derail" and as previously discussed that flagging option has been identified in the wild. QED.
posted by daveliepmann at 4:24 PM on February 4, 2014


He is named in the frickin' post! I very much doubt that a Metatalk post that named you as the sole example of X bad behavior would strike you as being "not about you."

Perhaps this is a general difference between our reading styles?

I read the OP as:

[Description of general problem/destructive trend]

More Inside:

[Citation of one example of problem]

[Closing remark emphasizing the post is about the trend, not the citation]

----

If you look at the first comments, they are not about ArtW. If you look at the first few comments after he makes his appearance, they try to steer the discussion away from him.

I think my characterization of the OP as respectful and not wanting this to be about ArtW is sound and accurate.
posted by jsturgill at 4:24 PM on February 4, 2014 [3 favorites]


jsturgill: "As an alternate perspective, I think this post did a good job of balancing the desire to start a discussion with also wanting to not waste a bunch of time finding citations for a dynamic that is readily apparent to most already. Unless the OP had a secret file of threadshitted threads on hand to reference, I think it's too much to ask for more research than the most recent example that broke the proverbial camel's back."

If the dynamic is so widespread as to require action (even if only an awareness campaign) once one has decided to to post a meta one could merely wait and keep track of examples as they appeared until a representative sample had been collected. The issue obviously isn't time sensitive and once the heat of the moment has past the person wanting to post the meta may find that that either the issue isn't quite as wide spread as they thought or that it isn't so egregious as to require community input. If they still want to go ahead they can with a handful of examples not currently on the front page and with no wasted time.
posted by Mitheral at 4:27 PM on February 4, 2014 [5 favorites]


I think my characterization of the OP as respectful and not wanting this to be about ArtW is sound and accurate.

You know, if the OP didn't want the thread to be "about Artw" it might not have been the best strategy to specifically call out Artw, by name, in the text of the post. Just a thought.

This is ridiculously disingenuous.
posted by yoink at 4:32 PM on February 4, 2014 [8 favorites]


Wait until you see the MeFi app for Google Glass.

There will be a "pull out" option, for sure.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:45 PM on February 4, 2014


Glassus interruptus?
posted by planetesimal at 4:47 PM on February 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


I didn't think many examples were needed as I felt it was widespread enough that the issue was familiar to everyone, and many of the comments supported that idea. I understand some people are upset Artw deleted, but as I've explained over a dozen times already it absolutely wasn't meant as a specific callout of him and only him and I don't know what more I could've done to continue to say otherwise.
posted by flatluigi at 4:57 PM on February 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


You know, if the OP didn't want the thread to be "about Artw" it might not have been the best strategy to specifically call out Artw, by name, in the text of the post. Just a thought.

This is ridiculously disingenuous.


I believe the OP when they say they want to talk about the phenomenon, not the person. I also see the phenomenon as being real and a real problem. Furthermore, I'm trying to take the actual words written by the OP, the tone of the sentences, and so on, into consideration rather than simply making a checklist:

Does the post mention a negative thing? YES
Is [someone] mentioned in the post doing the negative thing? YES

CONCLUSION: The post is about [someone]

Surely we can do better than that?
posted by jsturgill at 4:58 PM on February 4, 2014 [3 favorites]


Does the post mention a negative thing? YES
Is [someone] mentioned in the post doing the negative thing? YES

CONCLUSION: The post is about [someone]

Surely we can do better than that?


Better than elementary logic and understanding what words mean? No, we really can't do "better" than that.

Saying "here is a bad thing that So-and-So did" is making a complaint about So-and-So. You might genuinely hold the pious wish that that person won't respond to the complaint you have made about them and that the ensuing discussion will somehow ignore the fact that it has been inaugurated by a specific complaint about So-and-So, but it doesn't alter the simple, ineluctable, linguistic and social fact that you have, in fact, introduced a discussion about So-and-So. So if what you actually want is a discussion of something else, you've done it in exactly the wrong way.
posted by yoink at 5:11 PM on February 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


If the dynamic is so widespread as to require action (even if only an awareness campaign) once one has decided to to post a meta one could merely wait and keep track of examples as they appeared until a representative sample had been collected. The issue obviously isn't time sensitive and once the heat of the moment has past the person wanting to post the meta may find that that either the issue isn't quite as wide spread as they thought or that it isn't so egregious as to require community input. If they still want to go ahead they can with a handful of examples not currently on the front page and with no wasted time.

This implies a few things:

Meta posts are for Serious Issues Only, that require action.

I think that's not the case. Surely even minor issues can be brought up to see if they gain any traction, to solicit feedback, to test the waters, and so on.

Meta posts should be full of citations for every claim, like a Wikipedia article. Your personal lived experience is insufficient.

I think that's not the case. If there were widespread disagreement or confusion about the dynamic in the OP, I could see how clarification and/or multiple examples would be helpful. That wasn't the case here. The first comment was from a mod, and their comment was a far cry from "What is this you say? I have never heard of such things here!"

The OP has a strong burden of proof they need to meet before making a post; a problem isn't worth talking about if they don't do the homework for the community.

I think that's not the case. The mods are paid for the work they do. They have protocols in place to minimize Meta foolishness during holidays, and if threads are too disruptive they can be closed.

Thinking a bit before posting to Meta is probably a wise decision, but that requires a quiet moment of reflection before hitting the submit button, not extended time completing Meta homework and research in order to justify your thoughts as worthy of draining precious and limited Meta resources.
posted by jsturgill at 5:11 PM on February 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


If you want to make a meTa to discuss a trend you see that is maybe not very good and you don't provide examples, people will ask what you're talking about exactly and ask for links. If you do provide links in the post, you are accused of singling someone or ones out. There's no good way to do this, apparently.
posted by rtha at 5:14 PM on February 4, 2014 [24 favorites]


Better than elementary logic and understanding what words mean? No, we really can't do "better" than that.

Saying "here is a bad thing that So-and-So did" is making a complaint about So-and-So. You might genuinely hold the pious wish that that person won't respond to the complaint you have made about them and that the ensuing discussion will somehow ignore the fact that it has been inaugurated by a specific complaint about So-and-So, but it doesn't alter the simple, ineluctable, linguistic and social fact that you have, in fact, introduced a discussion about So-and-So. So if what you actually want is a discussion of something else, you've done it in exactly the wrong way.


You're pattern matching; I'm reading the words that were actually written. Those are different things, and very much related to many communication problems on MetaFilter, including the kind of threadshitting the OP wanted to talk about.
posted by jsturgill at 5:15 PM on February 4, 2014 [3 favorites]


I think that's not the case. If there were widespread disagreement or confusion about the dynamic in the OP, I could see how clarification and/or multiple examples would be helpful. That wasn't the case here. The first comment was from a mod, and their comment was a far cry from "What is this you say? I have never heard of such things here!"

If it is a widespread and much discussed phenomenon that everyone recognizes and understands, what need was there of giving any instance? Particularly of giving an instance where the thread was still live and tempers will still running hot? If your answer is "well, you need some documentation to prove that this is a Serious Issue" I refer you to your first point re "Serious Issues, Metatalk Threads not Necessarily About."
posted by yoink at 5:15 PM on February 4, 2014


What a disingenuous way to flame out. Yes, disagreeing with a straw man you created by not reading the post so you could plop it as quickly as possible is threadshitting.

I've seen a few flameouts but now I want to know where I can find a list of the greatest hits. I don't care if that's crass, I had a long day and at least I'm not fighting dogs or something
posted by lordaych at 5:16 PM on February 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


If it is a widespread and much discussed phenomenon that everyone recognizes and understands, what need was there of giving any instance?

I think there's a big stretch of ground between "I don't think it was specifically necessary to cite an example" and "citing an example is clearly an attempt to attack the cited person and to say otherwise is disingenuous", though, and it would be nice if you could maybe back off a little bit on this.
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:17 PM on February 4, 2014 [7 favorites]


Just because you disagree with Ironmouth doesn't make him a troll. Ironmouth is one of the more insightful commenters on this site. This accusation against him is absurd.
posted by humanfont at 5:17 PM on February 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


Yes, I'm reading the flameout tagged stuff now
posted by lordaych at 5:17 PM on February 4, 2014


I like both Ironmouth and ArtW, but they were both being jackasses in that thread. I hope ArtW comes back — he's left before — but his interpretation of the article was just bizarrely wrong, and it torpedoed any hope of a good thread on that article.
posted by klangklangston at 5:20 PM on February 4, 2014 [8 favorites]


Ironmouth isn't a troll, he's just good at nudging the goalposts with his feet while whistling to distract you.
posted by planetesimal at 5:20 PM on February 4, 2014 [6 favorites]


Just because you disagree with Ironmouth doesn't make him a troll. Ironmouth is one of the more insightful commenters on this site. This accusation against him is absurd.

Ironmouth is a loudmouthed bully who tries to dominate every conversation he is in and loves, loves, loves to use the old "appeal to [legal] authority" shtick whenever he can. There, I said it. I feel better.
posted by entropicamericana at 5:22 PM on February 4, 2014 [20 favorites]


Ironmouth reminds me of my hockey playing days -- usually on the other team. You inevitably find each other in the corner. The hit may be legal but it still hurts. You feel you've accomplished something if he's the one that goes down.

Later, you might have a beer with him, laugh about it.
posted by philip-random at 5:31 PM on February 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


Ironmouth, appropriately, argues like a lawyer writing briefs. Stick to your your guns to the bitter end, never acknowledge any fact or authority that detracts from your case. It means he never ever has to admit when he's wrong, but it's Goddamn infuriating to be on the other side of.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 6:07 PM on February 4, 2014 [4 favorites]


Ironmouth is one of the worst-faith commenters on this site. He simply doesn't engage.
posted by threeants at 6:14 PM on February 4, 2014 [5 favorites]


Oh fer chrissakes. Someone has a tantrum because someone on the internet calls them a poopy-head.

Some people take this way too seriously, to include those who write about 5,000 comments per year for some 4.5 years -- and have an oversized influence on the tone, norms and such.
posted by ambient2 at 8:27 PM on February 4, 2014


jsturgill: "Meta posts are for Serious Issues Only, that require action.

I think that's not the case. Surely even minor issues can be brought up to see if they gain any traction, to solicit feedback, to test the waters, and so on.
"

We agree on this; metatalk posts don't have to be serious business and I don't think my comment said they do. Something can be minor and worthy of discussion.

jsturgill: "Thinking a bit before posting to Meta is probably a wise decision, but that requires a quiet moment of reflection before hitting the submit button, not extended time completing Meta homework and research in order to justify your thoughts as worthy of draining precious and limited Meta resources."

All power to that, but a concern will be taken more seriously if people can see what the OP is getting at from examples. And the point of my comment is no research would be required; like a barnacle eating one would only have to sit and wait for the examples to come and then make note of them when they do.
posted by Mitheral at 8:58 PM on February 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


If you are talking about X, when the person you're talking with (or the article you're responding to) is talking about Y, and you don't seem to realize the difference, then you're doing

philosophy.
posted by flabdablet at 9:06 PM on February 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


All power to that, but a concern will be taken more seriously if people can see what the OP is getting at from examples. And the point of my comment is no research would be required; like a barnacle eating one would only have to sit and wait for the examples to come and then make note of them when they do.

I don't want to have to create a dossier of obnoxious behavior in order to feel like I can bring that up in Meta. I don't want others to feel that they have to do that either.

I think your suggestion is fine for you and for anyone else who wants to take that approach, but the OP needn't be chastised or feel like they did something wrong for their wording or approach to this thread--in my opinion, they did everything correctly and well within the bounds of civility.
posted by jsturgill at 9:08 PM on February 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


"[A technical solution] ... is as much of a total non-starter as it has always been."
posted by cortex

That's a shame, because then you could have:

Metafilter: technically-enforced delayed commenting

As your slogan/USP.
posted by marienbad at 3:43 AM on February 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


I understand why people sometimes brainstorm the technically-enforced delayed commenting idea when this sort of topic comes up, but to be clear it is as much of a total non-starter as it has always been.

It is also clear why a minority of extremely vocal and argumentative commenters will continue to chase other users our of comment threads. They're Ironmouth's comment threads, we're just unwelcome guests there. (Although, his is not the only name that could be filled in that particular blank)

The few users who consider comment threads personal soapboxes or arguments to be won will continue to hector, hound, and harass away those commenters who come for a conversation or don't have the time or energy to get involved in yet another round of obfuscatory posturing and disingenuous argumentation. Is MetaFilter a better site for this kind of behavior?

TL;DR: A few people consider threads arguments to be won. They make an ever growing swath of threads very unpleasant for those who are looking for reasonable and varied discussion.
posted by absalom at 7:22 AM on February 5, 2014 [6 favorites]


I do not believe this MeTa was intended to be a call out. But by mentioning only a comment it easily became one.

That's not hard to understand. Of course someone is going to become defensive when getting publicly admonished for their behavior. These words that we write on other people's screens - they don't tend to be interpreted charitably. We all have trouble taking a deep breath and trying to assume the best out of criticism. But it becomes more difficult the more public the criticism is and the more unfair we feel it is. And if it's a behavior we've noticed in others and held our tongues about (not that this is necessarily the case here) we're going to be all the more indignant about being called out ourselves. (Note: maybe this isn't the rational, reading-only-the-words-written response. As much as we'd like to be here on Metafilter, we don't always respond rationally, especially when it's personal)

Aside from the emotional aspect of a single user being called out, it just isnt a good way to present a case. With only a single data point it is unclear if this is a behavior limited to a single user, topic, or thread. How do I know this isn't an extenuation of a disagreement in the thread in question or between two users who dislike each other? By finding additional examples not only does it prevent the MeTa from becoming about a single user, but it becomes a more robust example of the bad behaviors the community is indulging in.

You don't need to have a dossier of wrongdoers to post more than one example (post three! Three is a magic number!). But one more thing that multiple examples helps with - it isn't just for the sake of the user being called out. As I said above, I don't think flatluigi intended to single out Artw. But because that's what happened, now flatluigi's intentions get discussed as well. I think finding additional threadshits (instead of just claiming they exist) would have prevented that.
posted by maryr at 8:12 AM on February 5, 2014 [6 favorites]


As I said above, I don't think flatluigi intended to single out Artw. But because that's what happened, now flatluigi's intentions get discussed as well. I think finding additional threadshits (instead of just claiming they exist) would have prevented that.

We can't go back and time and run the alternate experiment. But based on ArtW's behavior in this thread and the thread referenced by the OP, I think it's possible or even likely he'd have come in and felt just as wrongly accused and singled out even were he in the company of two others. If ArtW wants to be offended, there's only so much you can do to stop him.

A post on how to present concerns on Meta would be a good Meta discussion to have, perhaps. This could even be one of your three examples if you wanted to post it! But I think it's a shame that this thread centered on ArtW so early (and not because of the OP), and now has fizzled out except for some concern over the tone of the OP, again through no fault of the OP, rather than a real, long-running, and serious problem with that makes MetaFilter a worse place than it needs to be.
posted by jsturgill at 8:24 AM on February 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


I think finding additional threadshits (instead of just claiming they exist) would have prevented that.

On the other hand, Artw did basically drop a massive stinker in that thread, and he was not only completely unapologetic about doing so, but even proud about not having read the very thread he was shitting on. And while it wasn't every thread, that behavior hasn't been the first time. So while I don't think he was singled out, it isn't like he wouldn't have deserved to have some of his comments questioned.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:36 AM on February 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


I don't think there's a solution to threadshitting other than all of us, y'know, not doing that. I'm not sure what pointing out only Artw's actions does to fix that.
posted by maryr at 8:46 AM on February 5, 2014 [3 favorites]


(Unless Artw was doing far more than his share of it, in which case, problem solved.)
posted by maryr at 8:53 AM on February 5, 2014


Are "I didn't RTFA but..." comments ever deleted, or would it depend on whether they got a lot of flags?
posted by billiebee at 9:10 AM on February 5, 2014


It would depend on timing and context and content of the comment, yeah. Not so much number of flags as whether flagging managed to bring it to our attention in time if it was one of those things where it's noise but then people have responded to it and folded it inseparably into the discussion by the time we get eyes on it.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:16 AM on February 5, 2014


I don't want to have to create a dossier of obnoxious behavior in order to feel like I can bring that up in Meta.

"There's this terrible problem that is running rampant in Metafilter and making it impossible for me to enjoy the site and it urgently needs fixing. Oh, but it's also impossible for me to find examples unless I patiently hoard them over several years of collecting--so I'll just pin it all on this one dude I'm mad at right now."

Riiiiight.
posted by yoink at 9:41 AM on February 5, 2014 [4 favorites]


"There's this terrible problem that is running rampant in Metafilter and making it impossible for me to enjoy the site and it urgently needs fixing. Oh, but it's also impossible for me to find examples unless I patiently hoard them over several years of collecting--so I'll just pin it all on this one dude I'm mad at right now."

Riiiiight.


That's putting lots o' words in the OPs mouth that the OP didn't say. The post was made about a trend that was toxic and ongoing, not rampant and urgently in need of fixing. If you can't tell the difference between those two assertions, start reading better. The OP also made it clear that there were other examples, but s/he was leading with the one s/he had in front of him/her at the moment.

It does everyone a disservice to not read the words that were actually written, paraphrase them incorrectly, and then give a sarcastic one-word comment based on your flawed, uncharitable characterization of someone else's post.
posted by jsturgill at 9:56 AM on February 5, 2014 [9 favorites]


Riiiiight.

yoink, I'm not sure what part of "maybe back off" was unclear yesterday but, yes, seriously, chill.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:04 AM on February 5, 2014 [4 favorites]


I don't even think that was the real Artw.

A true Artw flameout would have at least thrown in a "Game over, man!" or an "All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die..." or a reference to the Great Old Ones.

What have you done with the real Artw, you bastards?!
posted by Atom Eyes at 10:08 AM on February 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


Sometimes "didn't RTFA but..." are didn't RTFA but I work in this field and know this person and here are 12 other times person has made these claims and here's 24 places were better minds have taken those claims apart. Rarely, but sometimes.

People hop into and sometimes try to dominate threads when they didn't RTFA and are in the thread to beat people over the head with a point that is - at best - tangentially related to the topic. Frequently these people present themselves as being victimized for being the only pure and holy one who will speak the truth. This happens because Meta Filler comments are posted by people and this is a thing people do.

I'll take it. Presuming good faith and behaving as though you expect good faith is right up there with presumption of innocence.

And presuming good faith doesn't prohibit anyone from adding their voice. (In practice, I think most of us back away slowly leaving the screamers to scream and that's a lost opportunity for the good, but hardly the worst way to do things online.)
posted by Lesser Shrew at 10:25 AM on February 5, 2014


jsturgill: "I think your suggestion is fine for you and for anyone else who wants to take that approach, but the OP needn't be chastised or feel like they did something wrong for their wording or approach to this thread--in my opinion, they did everything correctly and well within the bounds of civility."

Sounds like we're in agreement. I don't think the OP did anything bad; merely that their point would be better made with more support.
posted by Mitheral at 11:02 AM on February 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


"There's this terrible problem . . . "

*This* is a thing people do reflexively in comments all the time here that really could stop to the great benefit of all. It is almost impossible not to come across as snide and unfair when you "paraphrase" the "hidden message" in a comment you don't like by inventing an "actual quotation" that should have been said instead. It's a genre of snark one sees all over the internet (and sometimes in oral debate and print writing, where it is way less common to my experience).

Quotation marks mean someone said the actual thing you are quoting. Ask if they mean something, suggest that they are not being completely honest, whatever, but don't put words in their cyber mouths. It makes the recipient of that snark really angry, predictably, to no good effect. And it is almost always unfair.
posted by spitbull at 11:50 AM on February 5, 2014 [16 favorites]


"This happens because Meta Filler comments are posted by people"

speak for yourself
posted by klangklangston at 11:53 AM on February 5, 2014 [3 favorites]


Quotation marks mean someone said the actual thing you are quoting.

Not exclusively, no. Like most aspects of human languages, they have a number of meanings. They can mean "this is a title." Or they can mean "I'm speaking ironically." Or they can mean, as above, "I am not writing this in my own voice, I am speaking in a fictionalized voice."

You want to know a "thing people do on the internet all the time" that I would like to see stop? Inventing some "norm" or "rule" out of whole cloth so you can scold someone for violating it.
posted by yoink at 11:58 AM on February 5, 2014


This happens because Meta Filler comments are posted by people

MetaFiller is people. /SPOILERALERT
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:02 PM on February 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


No way. It's a dessert topping.
posted by planetesimal at 12:11 PM on February 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


Ironmouth is one of the more insightful commenters on this site.

What? No. Maybe he strikes you this way because you somehow happen to agree with him 100% on any stance, but I find his conversational style a cross between "jackhammer" and "attack dog".

I guess this doesn't address his supposed "insight," so let me do so: he NEVER acknowledges contrary views except to verbally curb stomp them, IF he thinks he can (whether or not he actually can is a different story). If not, they get ignored, simple as that.

I think "bully" sums it up pretty nicely. When he shows up in a thread, generally speaking any cordiality in argumentation is a forlorn fucking hope from then on.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 12:12 PM on February 5, 2014 [4 favorites]


And I didn't used to think of him this way, but lately Artw has been the same way. I don't have any investment one way or the other in whether he comes back or not, but if he does it would be nice if he could stop being a jerk in threads. I am gonna go take some of my own advice now.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 12:16 PM on February 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


OK yoink, I'm a linguist by training, I know direct discourse is more complicated. My point was rhetorical. Quotes around titles or clear paraphrases are one thing, but the use of a fake quote as a paraphrase is almost always hostile.
posted by spitbull at 12:24 PM on February 5, 2014 [7 favorites]


And how am I "inventing a norm out of whole cloth" (appropriate use of quotes since you said that)? I am suggesting conversations turn hostile when people's words are misrepresented as a priori instances of bad faith.

Some people apparently want to argue dirty.
posted by spitbull at 12:26 PM on February 5, 2014 [6 favorites]


The super weird thing about that approach, to me (and I agree with you spitbull, I find it noxious) is that people can scroll right up and see what people actually said. So if you're reflecting just how a thing felt to you, but using a quotation to do it, instead of a paraphrase clearly indicated, then people can see that's what's happening. I see this a lot when I talk to people about AskMe stuff, they'll be all "And then people said 'you are a terrible parent!'" and I'll have to say "No one said that, it wouldn't have been okay if they did, however maybe we need to talk about why you felt that what they did say which was $QUOTE you felt was someone saying that to you...?"

My sister has a job where, to hear her tell it, people are screaming at her every day. Dramaz. I have been with her in situations which, when we talked about it afterwards, she would say "Soandso screamed at me" and I, who was also there, saw something that was not, to me, screaming. Hey, she feels what she feels and nothings more annoying than someone denying you your own feelings, but I worry less that she is in an abusive workplace and a bit more than she has a level of stress that any critical comment gets interpreted as screaming which, to me, means something narrower and more specific.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:46 PM on February 5, 2014 [6 favorites]


"What? No. Maybe he strikes you this way because you somehow happen to agree with him 100% on any stance, but I find his conversational style a cross between "jackhammer" and "attack dog"."

I disagree with him on a lot of things, and he's still a pretty sharp guy. He can be a bit elbows-out, and sometimes that's straight jackassery, but he'll also respond to reason.

And frankly, a lot of people don't like him because they disagree with him but he's better at arguing than they are. Doesn't make him right, but it can be frustrating to not have the inclination or disposition to mix it up with him when you believe you're right and he's dominating the conversation.
posted by klangklangston at 12:59 PM on February 5, 2014 [4 favorites]


Spitball, I wish I could favorite your comment about 100 more times. I have seen so many bad-faith, hyperbolic, so-what-you-are-really-saying-is-THIS quotes flying around that it is hard not to suspect there is a method to the madness.

It's like there's a website somewhere giving tips on how to frustrate your opponents by debating in the most obnoxious manner possible:

Are YOU tired of Losing the Internet?!
Here's what we've found effective in the past:


Start out aggressively. Assume anyone who argues with you is either ignorant or actively trolling!
Paraphrase what they say in a way calculated to invoke maximum possible outrage and frame it as a direct quotation!
Accuse them of derailing the thread (bonus points if you link to a niche site with no claim to impartiality as if it were the ultimate authority)!
Wrap your argument up in academic rhetoric and accuse anyone who doesn't of being completely ignorant on the subject, regardless of lived experience!
Dominate the thread, posting two comments for every one your detractors post!
Accuse other users of being passive-aggressive!*

*Better yet, accuse them of having a long-standing history of bad behavior! After planting the seed, stalk them obsessively, sifting through years of site history to find anything that might be used completely out of context to impugn their motives or character. Bring it up at the opportune moment to shift the tide against them and in your favor!


Remember:
Never back down, apologize or admit to anything less than absolute certainty or you LOSE! If you get backed into a corner, do not leave the thread! Instead, make yourself the focus of the thread by taking on all comers. Wait for the mods to to intervene, then blame other users for starting the argument and flounce out in a huff!
posted by misha at 1:03 PM on February 5, 2014 [5 favorites]


klangklangston: "And frankly, a lot of people don't like him because they disagree with him but he's better at arguing than they are."

No, he's really not. Arguing implies an exchange of views. He's good at being relentless, mocking and dismissing those who disagree with him. He's extremely good at staking out a position and defending it to the death no matter what evidence is presented to the contrary, which is absolute poison to healthy conversations on this site.

As far as I can see, Ironmouth broadcasts his opinions and "shouts" down those who disagree. If we all did that, you'd either see constant flamewars in Metatalk or the Blue would turn into an outraged free-for-all.

A few of us act that way to some extent. But most of us seem to be more interested in learning from thread discussions / conversations than dominating them.

I tend not to participate in threads where he is active, because I got sick of the "Ironmouthing."
posted by zarq at 1:18 PM on February 5, 2014 [8 favorites]


Back in July of 2012, another attorney made one of the more devastating critiques of Ironmouth that have ever been made of any Mefite.

Whether you have concerns about the way he participates here or are inclined to defend him, I suggest you read it.
posted by jamjam at 1:30 PM on February 5, 2014 [5 favorites]


If some of you want a Metatalk thread about Ironmouth, maybe you might want to go ahead and post that instead of taking this one over.
posted by misha at 1:34 PM on February 5, 2014 [5 favorites]


This thread shouldn't become a referendum on Ironmouth, surely? This shit is disturbing and something we definitely can't blame the OP for.
posted by Omnomnom at 1:43 PM on February 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


It's not a referendum; it's Festivus.
posted by planetesimal at 1:50 PM on February 5, 2014 [3 favorites]


misha: "If some of you want a Metatalk thread about Ironmouth, maybe you might want to go ahead and post that instead of taking this one over."

The post is about the toxicity of threadshitting during the first few comments of a Metafilter thread.

The focus has primarily been on one specific thread, and both ArtW (1st comment over there) and Ironmouth (sixth comment over there) were called out for threadshitting early in this thread.

If someone is threadshitting, or if their engagement style is generally thought to be problematic, then this seems like an appropriate thread to talk about that.
posted by zarq at 1:53 PM on February 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


Back in July of 2012, another attorney made one of the more devastating critiques of Ironmouth that have ever been made of any Mefite.

Oh yeah, that was quite a comment. I still find it dumbfounding that he still does all the same routines identified there with what looks to me like very little pressure to get him to try and take a better approach.
posted by Drinky Die at 1:58 PM on February 5, 2014 [5 favorites]


Who's gonna pressure him? It's not as if Team Mod is going to start threatening to kneecap people who don't play well with others.

And you know... let's all be thankful for that.
posted by zarq at 2:10 PM on February 5, 2014


I see this a lot when I talk to people about AskMe stuff, they'll be all "And then people said 'you are a terrible parent!'" and I'll have to say "No one said that, it wouldn't have been okay if they did, however maybe we need to talk about why you felt that what they did say which was $QUOTE you felt was someone saying that to you...?"

I recognize the phenomena you're talking about, not just here but in regular life as well, and it is tough to deal with for sure. On the other hand, though, I think to some extent this is a side effect (or maybe the flip side?) of the necessity of discerning the subtext. Which people are notoriously bad at doing in text form, but that doesn't mean there's no subtext there. Like in real life or on the green, if someone told me something and my thought was "wow, you are a terrible parent" what I actually said might be "Hunh." Or maybe "geeze, I dunno about that." That interplays with people's fears and makes them extra sensitive, of course; so that if you are afraid people will think you are a terrible parent that might be all you can hear in a neutral, "Hunh."

When it comes to arguing about somewhat less identity tied things I often find you can bring things back by maintaining sufficient calm and neutrality, and if possible, a hint of gentle puzzlement, in the face of their freak out. Acting defensive just confirms the fear ...
posted by Diablevert at 2:27 PM on February 5, 2014


I just wish we could point out more blue collar users and types of expression here, they really get in the way of discussing social justice issues.
posted by sgt.serenity at 3:06 PM on February 5, 2014


Sarge, you're not making sense again.
posted by planetesimal at 3:18 PM on February 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


Can we once and for all ban these hateful callout threads on meTa. They never serve as anything more than an opportunity for a small clique to start piling on.
posted by humanfont at 3:39 PM on February 5, 2014 [3 favorites]


For what it's worth, flatluigi, I didn't read this as a hateful callout. I understand what you were trying to do, and you shouldn't need to post a ton of examples for a widely understood behavior...at the same time though I can see how Artw felt like this was more individually targeted than you intended. That said, I took note that he appeared to me to be pretty frustrated with the community here in one or two other recent contentious threads. I think his frustration had a decent chance to boil over with or without this thread, even if it was the straw that broke the camel's back.

Anyway, I hope he comes back soon. I can relate very well to being EXTREMELY frustrated with conversations around here sometimes to the point you need to walk away. Sometimes taking a few weeks away can help you come to terms with it and you don't have to do it long term. It's better to know when the time has come to step away rather than to continue to expose yourself to things that upset you.
posted by Drinky Die at 3:45 PM on February 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


Can we once and for all ban these hateful callout threads on meTa.

I also did not see this as hateful. While we ask people to try to be respectful to each other, the occasional "Hey I don't like the way this person did this thing" is one way to deal with site issues, here in MetaTalk.

I know there are some users for whom this sort of scrutiny seems antagonistic or just personally unpleasant (even when directed at others). As we've said before, MetaTalk is 100% optional for everyone but the mods.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:58 PM on February 5, 2014 [4 favorites]


I pretty rarely read (or watch) the actual thing being linked to, unless, maybe, it's a Mystery Meat Post and the conversation is interesting, or it's something that's Right Up My Alley. In this matter, I am unapologetic.

But I do love to read Metafilter people talk about stuff, and I have for many longtimes avoided as much as possible getting into arguments here, so.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:42 PM on February 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


Back in July of 2012, another attorney made one of the more devastating critiques of Ironmouth that have ever been made of any Mefite.

Wow, that comment was so incredibly spot-on. Well done, cobra_high_tigers.
posted by threeants at 4:52 PM on February 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


And frankly, a lot of people don't like him because they disagree with him but he's better at arguing than they are.

Maybe "better at arguing" for folks who are impressed by rhetorical flourish or whatever. I guess that is the definition of "better at arguing", actually! People who are into facts seem to tire more quickly of his blatant dishonesty.
posted by threeants at 5:00 PM on February 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


Back in July of 2012, another attorney made one of the more devastating critiques of Ironmouth that have ever been made of any Mefite.

Wow, that comment was so incredibly spot-on. Well done, cobra_high_tigers.


It looks like he disabled his account shortly thereafter.
posted by homunculus at 5:15 PM on February 5, 2014


I have a critique of every participant in this thread who has tried to make it about Ironmouth. Whatever you don't like about him, I have yet to see anyone point to an example of him failing to read a post and providing an early derailing comment -- the point of this MeTa.

To the extent you think he is out of line somewhere on the blue in some other, how about dealing with that there, by taking on his comments or, if they are outside the bounds somehow, flagging them?

This all smacks of an effort to sandbag and badmouth, since Ironmouth has zilch to do with the supposed topic of this thread. This kind of mean spirited critiquing of an absent MeFi on the gray is one of this site's least lovable behaviors.
posted by bearwife at 5:22 PM on February 5, 2014 [12 favorites]


I fav'd a comment a while back that may apply here:

> Somehow knowing that people with terrible ideas can be kind and thoughtful
This is why I like a certain lawyer type who tends to over debate in the blue threads but is a veritable romantic with thoughtful observations on the green. It helps me to keep that in mind when I find myself wanting to boot his sorry ass ...er... rebut my esteemed colleague's legal points, I mean.
posted by Room 641-A at 5:23 PM on February 5, 2014 [3 favorites]


I have a critique of every participant in this thread who has tried to make it about Ironmouth. Whatever you don't like about him, I have yet to see anyone point to an example of him failing to read a post and providing an early derailing comment -- the point of this MeTa.

love how the non-creatives are so anxious to tell creative people they are just supposed to suck it up and hand over the music or films they like and eat the costs.

If its not such a big deal, make your own music, motherfucker. Then you won't have to steal someone else's.
posted by Ironmouth at 3:10 PM on February 3 [38 favorites +] [!]

posted by Drinky Die at 5:24 PM on February 5, 2014


motherfucker.
posted by Drinky Die at 5:27 PM on February 5, 2014


I mean, I'm not some PC SJW type. If we are going to debate in terms of calling each other motherfuckers, I'm there. I can be a loudmouth bully with the best of them. Bring it on! But I don't think that is actually our goal here. Maybe it's time to ask IM to stop posting like this.
posted by Drinky Die at 5:32 PM on February 5, 2014


are objecting to ...

love how the non-creatives are so anxious to tell creative people they are just supposed to suck it up and hand over the music or films they like and eat the costs.

If its not such a big deal, make your own music,
?

Or is it just ...

motherfucker?
posted by philip-random at 5:46 PM on February 5, 2014


but that said I love IM and hope he stays on this site forever. I just hope he can follow the path of many other controversial members here and find ways to highlight the awesome parts of his personality and reduce the problematic conversations. It's a reasonable and sensible goal I thinlk.
posted by Drinky Die at 5:58 PM on February 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


sgt.serenity: "I just wish we could point out more blue collar users and types of expression here, they really get in the way of discussing social justice issues."

Da Fuq?
posted by Mitheral at 6:21 PM on February 5, 2014


Whatever the intent of this thread or how "hateful" it began, it seems to have become a forum for a small group of jerks to berate two members of the site. Now one of these two members has been driven off, and we see these jerks seeming to celebrate in their followup comments. It is disgusting and shameful, and we should have no more of it.
posted by humanfont at 6:41 PM on February 5, 2014 [5 favorites]


That's not how it played at all.
posted by planetesimal at 6:41 PM on February 5, 2014 [4 favorites]


I don't think anyone is suggesting that this post began as hateful. (If my own comments sounded that way, please let me know.)
posted by maryr at 7:02 PM on February 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


People complaining about bad behavior is not hateful, and it's rather silly to characterize it as such. Anyone who reads this site frequently will probably have similar observations about Artw and Ironmouth.
posted by planetesimal at 7:07 PM on February 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


zarq: [Ironmouth]'s extremely good at staking out a position and defending it to the death no matter what evidence is presented to the contrary

As you noted, he's not alone in doing so. While MetaFilter is one of the best places I've ever found online for people admitting they are wrong or that they've had their opinion changed, this behaviour still makes frequent appearances here. Though, yes, if I were to think of which users were more prone to it, he'd be in the mix.

The website The Awl has an occasional subheading which I've always liked, because it's an online reaction I strongly identify with: "And that's when I clicked 'Close Tab' ", followed by the line from the article in question at which point the contributor rolled their eyes and did something else. Articles can be crap, and I think there's a big, big difference between not reading the article at all, and reading some of it but disliking it enough to not continue, and stating that upfront. I mean, of course I'd say that, I did the exact same thing recently. And if someone uses the opening line to discuss something barely related, sure, in-thread corrections and possibly flagging are the way to go.

But I do think it's possible to have a valid opinion on a topic even if the article linked to the discussion in a thread is poor, especially in a world with Betteridge's Law of Headlines and the onslaught of contrarian click-bait. This specific thread may not have fallen into either of those categories, but just because an article is the central part of a post doesn't mean it's worth finishing.
posted by gadge emeritus at 8:06 PM on February 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


Anyone who reads this site frequently will probably have similar observations about Artw and Ironmouth.

speak for yourself, please.
posted by philip-random at 8:32 PM on February 5, 2014 [4 favorites]


I have yet to see anyone point to an example of him failing to read a post and providing an early derailing comment

Um, he made a comment that betrayed zero comprehension of the linked article as the sixth comment and then proceeded to defend his bullshit at the top of his lungs when he was rightly called on it. How is that NOT relevant here?
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 9:07 PM on February 5, 2014 [4 favorites]


are objecting to ...

love how the non-creatives are so anxious to tell creative people they are just supposed to suck it up and hand over the music or films they like and eat the costs.

If its not such a big deal, make your own music, ?

Or is it just ...

motherfucker?


Well given that they thread wasn't about music or films, or telling creative people to suck it up and make stuff for free, then I guess all of the above.
posted by empath at 9:39 PM on February 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


This all smacks of an effort to sandbag and badmouth, since Ironmouth has zilch to do with the supposed topic of this thread.

I mean... did you read that thread, though?
posted by en forme de poire at 10:12 PM on February 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


I mean I guess this is why there is never any pressure on him to improve. He makes a comment that makes no sense and calls people motherfuckers...or like up there he calls people who disagree with him people who root for terrorists...and the reaction is to ignore it or bend over backwards to find some reason to say that it's okay. It's not okay. It's always going to lead to bad conversations and hurt feelings.
posted by Drinky Die at 1:53 AM on February 6, 2014 [2 favorites]


It's pretty clear the first response from Ironmouth was responding to the text in this opening of the post: "So why should a singer get to profit from a recording of his doing some work thirty-five years ago? The answer “because it’s his song” just isn’t good enough.

Whether it's a great comment or not is another question, but he's not calling people in the thread "motherfuckers" that I see (if that's the main complaint).

Obviously, we'd like everyone to read the link before commenting, and especially before reacting with anger and frustration, but we can't force people to do that, and folks will often comment initially on the blurb, quote, or title featured in the post (which can especially result in problems when posters choose more "juicy" or provocative excerpts to feature that are sometimes not really representative of the main thrust or finer details of the linked material).

But, yes, agreed: Please read the links! Or if you don't want to read/view at least hold off on immediate reactions so that the remarks of people who've read the piece can lead the discussion.
posted by taz (staff) at 4:22 AM on February 6, 2014 [3 favorites]


I think it's impossible to evaluate that comment as if it was in a vacuum and this not a poster with a history and specifically a history on the subject of intellectual property. He was looking for a fight, a fight he has had in the same form tens of times in the past on this subject. If you look at that history you will see that he routinely calls people who disagree with him on this people who just want to steal music. I don't feel you can separate that context from this comment. The comment was only incidentally related to the blurb in the FPP which does not in fact actually say people should just hand over their work for free. What he was doing was looking for a sparring partner for the topic of "Is piracy okay?" right? I feel like I must be going crazy if I'm the only one who sees that.
posted by Drinky Die at 4:35 AM on February 6, 2014 [13 favorites]


You know what, I think it's clear myself and the moderators do not see eye to eye on this and that has been made clear to me in the past so I apologize for taking up so much space. I'll leave it here. To sum up, I feel like Ironmouth's impact on a thread is treated like a force of nature around here. It's like a thunderstorm. We have to teach everybody how to get inside and be safe because nothing in the world can stop it, it just is. With other posters who sometimes create problematic dynamics in a thread, this is not the case. For example corb, bless her, when she makes a mistake we make sure to confront her with it in addition to asking people not to feed into the problem in response. There is very little, "Well, you know, technically, she wasn't talking about YOU..." going on. Some, but I don't think it's the majority opinion. With Ironmouth it sometimes feels like the only problem acknowledged is that he can take over a thread, which is a "takes two to tango" type thing and anybody could do it sometimes. I don't think it's at all the most serious issue with his style.

I am very big on the idea that we should all work on applying a good faith reading to the words of other users. I make an effort to do so and try and apologize when I misread or the user has clarified the meaning of their words to me in response. I try and apply this particularly to Ironmouth's contributions because at times in the past I have shitted up threads because of the manner in which I responded to him and I don't want to be a burden on the moderators or the other users here in the future. Despite this, I am personally unable to find a valid reading to many of his comments that suggests he is not operating in deliberate, well thought out bad faith at times. I would not call him a troll. He just enjoys vigorous debate and uses the tactics he feels will help him win the debate. Sometimes, that includes elements of bad faith. He is repeating too many unnecessary rhetorical tactics that from experience he is intelligent enough to know will lead to bad outcomes to the threads he participates in. He is acting unaware of relevant facts too often when he restarts old debates which seriously stunts the evolution of conversations on common topics over time. He is unnecessarily aggressive and coarse in his vocabulary. He is at times disrespectful and condescending to the morals and intelligence of other users. As I've said, I still think he's a great dude and I favorite his comments all the time. But I don't feel like these problems are acknowledged by moderation with the frequency and volume necessary to encourage him to work on improving his interaction with the site.
posted by Drinky Die at 5:22 AM on February 6, 2014 [4 favorites]


I am sure he is ignoring us, but I think this comment is great and is probably the kind of thing Ironmouth's defenders are thinking of.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 8:26 AM on February 6, 2014


"or like up there he calls people who disagree with him people who root for terrorists...and the reaction is to ignore it or bend over backwards to find some reason to say that it's okay. It's not okay. It's always going to lead to bad conversations and hurt feelings."

This is part of the problem with our putative Referendum on Ironmouth. The "terrorists" thing was Ironmouth pointing out that several of the objections raised to drone strikes would have no practical consequence aside from making it easier for terrorists, specifically Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, to kill American troops while being harder to kill without civilian casualties. While it is insulting, it's also a point that lupus_yonderboy answered with umbrage rather than rebutting in any meaningful way. Turning that into a generalization that he calls people who disagree with him people who root for terrorists is sloppy, at best, and grudgy bullshit at worst. (I've disagreed with him many times, forcefully even, and never been told I was rooting for terrorists.) But he was effectively pointing out the disingenuous core of an argument against drone strikes, that the argument wasn't against drones per se, but against force in general. (If you're against force in general, then you would oppose drone strikes as a manifestation thereof; if you are not, you may favor drone strikes as a way to achieve military objectives without as much collateral damage as preceding technologies.)
posted by klangklangston at 8:32 AM on February 6, 2014 [3 favorites]


I'll say that while I understand it's been a busy and difficult week for the moderators, I think you could be doing better with MetaTalk. This thread never should have been allowed to turn into a pile-on of a user who isn't named in the post and hasn't participated in the thread. You should have nipped that quickly. Over in the Dylan Farrow MeTa, you told people about ten or twenty times (literally, right?) to nix non-meta discussion, but you didn't escalate when folks kept ignoring you.

Some measure of that is policy, I recognize. And I don't think the laissez-faire policy in MetaTalk works terribly well. Or put differently, I think maybe its function has changed as the site has evolved. It's time to rethink it.

There's a separate problem, which is that it seems impossible to have a broad-discussion MeTa that contains any kind of examples without the thread turning into a narrower callout. That's a community problem. It falls on the shoulders of small minds who would rather disparage people than discuss behaviors and ideas. Since "expecting more" doesn't seem realistic, maybe the only viable solution would be to ban callouts—which I don't see happening, so I assume these threads will persist. Which sucks. But either way, this one could have used firmer steering.
posted by cribcage at 8:54 AM on February 6, 2014 [1 favorite]


It falls on the shoulders of small minds

Such small heads on such big shoulders.
posted by octobersurprise at 9:03 AM on February 6, 2014


Yes, if there's one thing MetaFilter needs, it is more moderation. HAMBURGER
posted by entropicamericana at 9:06 AM on February 6, 2014


I mean I guess this is why there is never any pressure on him to improve. He makes a comment that makes no sense and calls people motherfuckers...or like up there he calls people who disagree with him people who root for terrorists...and the reaction is to ignore it or bend over backwards to find some reason to say that it's okay. It's not okay. It's always going to lead to bad conversations and hurt feelings.

I just wish to add that the idea of the site/mods exerting "pressure on him to improve" is repellant to me. This is not Boystown, Jessamyn is not Fr. Flanagan. We are not in the business of reforming people's character. It's a site for conversation among human beings, and while I too agree that there should be standards of civility, if someone civilly, relentlessly and implacably disagrees with you and you think he's a big poopyhead, that's not a problem for the moderators to solve. That's not in fact a problem at all. That's just a dude you don't like and disagree with, whom you are free to engage with or not as you choose.
posted by Diablevert at 9:07 AM on February 6, 2014 [5 favorites]


Yes, if there's one thing MetaFilter needs, it is more moderation.

I'm actually quite okay with being disagreed with on that particular point by someone who justified a nasty comment earlier in the thread with, "There, I said it. I feel better." Yes, that's exactly the kind of thing I think ought to be deleted.
posted by cribcage at 9:09 AM on February 6, 2014


taz: "Whether it's a great comment or not is another question, but he's not calling people in the thread "motherfuckers" that I see (if that's the main complaint)."

If its not such a big deal, make your own music, motherfucker. Then you won't have to steal someone else's.

This is part of his schtick. "Oh, I'm not calling YOU a motherfucker, I was responding to the subject of the post!" Uh huh. Right.
posted by Big_B at 9:11 AM on February 6, 2014 [3 favorites]


I agree that it is not helpful for people to jump on a soapbox and start making pre-packaged arguments without reading links. I wish people wouldn't do that.

Indeed. This comment, for me, is a prime example that clearly illustrates why this isn't a good idea.
posted by juiceCake at 9:16 AM on February 6, 2014


We are not in the business of reforming people's character.

That is different from asking/requiring mefites to not shit in threads, to not be abusive to their fellow mefites, to not troll, to not spam, and so on. Mods frequently ask two users duking it out in a thread and sucking all the air out of it to drop it or take it to memail. They often ask mefites to not "take on all comers" and they often ask mefites to modify their behavior in ways to keep from disrupting threads. I've seen them ask Ironmouth and lots of other mefites to do this, including me.
posted by rtha at 9:22 AM on February 6, 2014 [9 favorites]


I spoke my piece and didn't hammer on those who dared to disagree with me. If you think "loudmouthed bully" is nasty, I think you really need to reacquaint yourself with nasty pile-ons in the MetaTalk archives and also think about how nice it is to accuse people of having "small minds." I'm okay with what I said. And for what it's worth, there seem to be quite a few people who agree with me.

I disagree with Ironmouth a lot, yes. But I don't want Ironmouth silenced by the mods. I just want the existing rules of behavior to apply to him-- specifically, the "taking on all-comers" rule and "try not to be a dick" rule.

(For the record, I read the "motherfucker" as a rhetoric flourish and I'm okay with that. Then again, I tend to err on the side of freedom of expression, because I'm weird like that.)
posted by entropicamericana at 9:22 AM on February 6, 2014 [2 favorites]


It falls on the shoulders of small minds who would rather disparage people than discuss behaviors and ideas.

The best part about this kind of critique is that it's impossible to make without it applying to the critic as well. So, congrats, welcome to the small minds club, I guess.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 9:30 AM on February 6, 2014 [2 favorites]


If you think "loudmouthed bully" is nasty, I think you really need to reacquaint yourself with nasty pile-ons in the MetaTalk archives and also think about how nice it is to accuse people of having "small minds."

Your first point is mooted by my comment; as I noted, the site has changed. Your second point compares name-calling an individual with, okay, "accusing" an abstract swath of people who behave in a generally characterized manner across a certain recurring type of MetaTalk thread. If you see those two comments as existing in the same ballpark, then as with desirable moderation levels, you and I will just agree to disagree. Which is probably where we'd end up either way.

If you want to talk about the positive or negative value of posting personal attacks because "There, now I feel better!" that's a conversation maybe worth having. Apparently you feel that falls within worthwhile bounds of "freedom of expression." Personally, I don't. It's a moderated site so the line is going to fall somewhere short of all or nothing, and here in MetaTalk we get to make our arguments about where, and what kind of website we'd like to see.
posted by cribcage at 9:37 AM on February 6, 2014


In what social situation, if you have a problem with the way somebody engages in conversation (being overbearing, or failing to listen to other people's arguments, or being unnecessarily touchy or abrasive or what have you) do you consider the best way to address this problem as being to gather everyone around to have a conversation about what a big poopyhead that person is and do it where you kinda-sorta hope that s/he overhears you?

That's the problem with these MetaTalk call-out threads (and yeah, this is a call-out thread and it's just disingenuous to pretend it isn't--naming one person as the sole exemplar of a problem is calling that person out, a fortiori when the behavior you're calling out is still in progress). They reduce the community to the level of high school cafetaria "who gets to sit at the cool kids table" social bullying. Every single one of these call outs is an attempt to enlist the community on the complainant's "side"--to signal that so-and-so has the approval of the community at large and so-and-so does not. It's just ugly and it only makes it uglier to see it being dressed up as some kind of detached commitment to preserving the sacred standards of Metafilter's discourse.

The appropriate, adult thing to do, if you had a problem with Artw's or Ironmouth's posting style is to write to them directly expressing your concerns. If that proved fruitless, then you could write directly to the mods. If the mods say "we don't see anything that rises to the level of requiring intervention" then that tells you that maybe you're blowing this a little out of proportion, or that you've become a little over-obsessed with those particular poster's quirks. Then the unbelievably easy solution is just to not engage with them. Nobody, at all, needed to "correct" Artw's response to the copyright piece. If people chose to do it, that's because they wanted to have that argument. There were plenty of other conversations to be had in that thread.

What is not, in my view, appropriate and is certainly not at all adult is to have a "come on boys, let's get 'im" MetaTalk thread where everyone is invited to throw rocks at Artw until (predictably enough) he gets so upset that he storms off the site. Pretending that you just wanted some abstract, highminded discussion of commenting norms in the wake of that just adds a rather rancid taste of hypocrisy to the whole nasty business.
posted by yoink at 9:41 AM on February 6, 2014 [6 favorites]


So calling out specific people is bad and passive-aggressively calling out a group of specific people-- oh, excuse me, an "abstract swath of people" is good. Got it.

You're right, I think we'll have to agree to disagree. At least I don't pretend to be a saint.
posted by entropicamericana at 9:50 AM on February 6, 2014 [1 favorite]


So, congrats, welcome to the small minds club, I guess.

I find it amusing that after my remark about the mods being too laissez-faire, this line slipped in via the edit window.

Anyway, I'm going to have to cede my point. I know when I'm overmatched. The sophistic brilliance of conflating a specific person with "a group of specific people" is...well, damn. I was going to say "saintly."
posted by cribcage at 9:58 AM on February 6, 2014


My small mind accepts your gentlemanly concession and thanks you for your kind words.
posted by entropicamericana at 10:04 AM on February 6, 2014 [1 favorite]


Stay outta MetaTalk, Lebowski!

Stay outta my bitch community!
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 10:06 AM on February 6, 2014


Stay outta my bitch community!

Really not how I would have phrased that.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:07 AM on February 6, 2014 [1 favorite]


reasonable people disagree whether this is a callout or not, you don't have to call them disingenuous and hypocritical and immature ("not adult") for it. mods also seem to think the discussion here so far is not out of line to the point where we can't have it.
posted by twist my arm at 10:10 AM on February 6, 2014 [6 favorites]


Mod policy is at least partly in response to community feedback. I think it's reasonable to talk about problematic behavior caused by multiple people. It's also reasonable to speak directly about a user's specific problematic behavior. I agree that contacting the user directly (if possible), and then the mods is a good idea first. And piling on should be minimized.

But I don't agree that we should never have specific callouts. It helps us develop community norms.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:24 AM on February 6, 2014 [1 favorite]


Really not how I would have phrased that.

Sorry, was just riffing on "stay outta my beach community".
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 10:30 AM on February 6, 2014


but I think this comment is great and is probably the kind of thing Ironmouth's defenders are thinking of.

Everybody brings something different to the party. If they consistently brought only grief, they'd get banned, I suspect. Which isn't to say that some people won't pretty much always bring grief to some people. Such is community. We don't all have to love each other. We don't even have to like each other. But if Person A is disliked by Persons B-L, but not much minded by Persons M-Z, we have a complicated situation. Welcome to community.

Which gets back to what Person A is bringing to the party.

To my mind, what Ironmouth brings to the party that tends to trump all the things that annoy me about him is best understood by checking out his profile, clicking on FAVORITED-BY-OTHERS, then clicking on POPULAR.

I also feel the same about Artw.
posted by philip-random at 10:30 AM on February 6, 2014 [2 favorites]


I get uncomfortable with these discussions about individual posters as well. Certainly the laser focus on Ironmouth towards the end is disquieting to me. He may be worthy of another, seperate Meta, but this was intended to be a general discussion about a general problem. I'm very frustrated by how the focus drifted towards what feels, to me, very unproductive territory. ArtW wanted to make this about him, and he succeeded, but Ironmouth was dragged in here without any engagement on his part.

Here's what I learned from this Meta:

1. We can't even agree that an early mischaracterization of something you didn't read fully, using a quote that is both misinterpreted and taken out of a larger context, and then refusing to acknowledge that you've done so, is problematic. Sounds crazy to me, but here we are. Half the people mentioning ArtW by name in this thread stopped by to say they thought his mischaracterization of the article's quote was fine.

2. We can't post about a problem without examples of it, or the OP will get flack and the discussion will be poisoned. We can't post a problem with too few examples of it, or the OP will get flack and the discussion will be poisoned. Theoretically someone could post about a problem with many documented examples from many different users and not get flack, but until that theory is tested, I'm not holding my breath.

3. Mentioning specific examples of a problem automatically, in some people's eyes, makes the discussion about the people mentioned rather than the problem, no matter the pains you take to disabuse them of the notion or explain your motivation. So somehow you have to do advanced ninja shadow warrior posts that both provide documentation of what you're talking about without specifically providing a connection to any poster.

4. There's a tendency to co-op threads about general problems in order to be nasty about certain people in the community. The gray is the only (public) outlet for these thoughts, which means they're likely to crop up and poison other discussions here. I think it's a lousy thing to do in general, though I don't want to paint everyone here with too broad of a brush. Drinky Die, I like your comments and the thought that went into them. I wish they'd found a home in a different thread, though the well was already poisoned by the time you made them so no big loss I guess.
posted by jsturgill at 10:40 AM on February 6, 2014 [10 favorites]


Then the unbelievably easy solution is just to not engage with them.

If you don't like what people are doing in this thread, why not apply your suggested procedure — mailing individuals privately, mailing mods privately, then disengaging? Serious question.
posted by stebulus at 11:19 AM on February 6, 2014 [4 favorites]


Don't draw the bucket full of shit out of the sewer and then complain that someone poisoned your well. The OP covered a difficult topic. It was poorly framed. The content it linked to was a shambles.
posted by humanfont at 11:57 AM on February 6, 2014 [2 favorites]


FWIW, it would feel much more personal and vindictive to me if someone were to accuse me of some kind of misbehavior over MeMail. Honestly, I would rather something like that be aired in MeTa so that I can at least get a sense for whether it was an opinion other people share, or the result of someone projecting a different, idiosyncratic scenario onto me or otherwise misinterpreting what I wrote. I would also be a little suspicious that the sender of such a MeMail didn't want to own what they were saying and perhaps just wanted to get in a dig without the possibility of public blow-back.
posted by en forme de poire at 12:01 PM on February 6, 2014 [1 favorite]


Ironmouth was dragged in here without any engagement on his part.

Admittedly I haven't followed all the ins and outs of this thread ... But how is it okay or tolerated for someone to be shit-talked like this? This is ridiculous.

I'm really feeling like metafilter as a whole has become incredibly toxic recently ... I mean in the last year.
posted by jayder at 12:25 PM on February 6, 2014 [3 favorites]


I find Metafilter today *much* less toxic than, say, five years ago. I don't see any significant change over the past year.
posted by Chrysostom at 12:34 PM on February 6, 2014 [6 favorites]


I find Metafilter today *much*

I've actually noticed fewer callouts/flameouts etc ... but that could just be happenstance. It's not as if I assiduously track all METAs.

FWIW, it would feel much more personal and vindictive to me if someone were to accuse me of some kind of misbehavior over MeMail. Honestly, I would rather something like that be aired in MeTa so that I can at least get a sense for whether it was an opinion other people share,

I take your point, but I'd prefer someone to first take an issue up with me personally. Because A. it might be a darned good point and I owe some kind of apology, retraction or whatever, and it could thus be settled quickly, B. it gives me the option of rationalizing my POV with them in the shadows, as opposed to the limelight, C. if I think their issue is bollocks or they refuse to acknowledge my apology, rationalization etc, I can call and an end to the one-on-one and suggest they take it to META if they're not satisfied ...

For the record, I've been active here for more than five years now and have had very few occasions where I've received a "negative" MeMail. But there have been a few and none of them got close to going META (as far as I know). It seems my main "sin" has been a lack of sensitivity on some issues, which I find fairly easy to accept. I get the same feedback sometimes in my so-called real life.

sorry.
posted by philip-random at 12:47 PM on February 6, 2014


I'm really feeling like metafilter as a whole has become incredibly toxic recently ... I mean in the last year.

I have that feeling too, but what I've realized is that it's not that metafilter has become more toxic, but that I've become less willing to deal with particular aspects of site culture here. I'm not about to leave or turn off my account or anything like that, but I'm certainly less active than I used to be. I'm just not interested in engaging on a deep level with a community where a small group of active and vocal assholes (including, but not limited to, Artw) drive site culture in an ugly way and are actively appreciated for it. YMMV, obviously, but it's become clear that I'm rather out of step with most people here, which is fine but kind of a bummer.
posted by Frobenius Twist at 1:52 PM on February 6, 2014 [6 favorites]


For the record, I've been active here for more than five years now and have had very few occasions where I've received a "negative" MeMail.

I recommend just turning it off altogether. It has worked well for me.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:22 PM on February 6, 2014 [1 favorite]


where a small group of active and vocal assholes ... drive site culture in an ugly way and are actively appreciated for it.

Yes. This is how I feel.

There is an emerging culture of bullying here that is really disturbing.
posted by jayder at 2:54 PM on February 6, 2014 [4 favorites]


I agree.
posted by entropicamericana at 3:03 PM on February 6, 2014 [2 favorites]


Emerging?
posted by agregoli at 3:49 PM on February 6, 2014 [3 favorites]


Am I missing something or are there two different conceptions here of what bullying means on the site? One side is obviously referring to how Ironmouth and Artw are standouts for their aggressive style in Mefi threads, but others are referring to their being called out by name here and the de facto rally against them (it only seems like a rally, it's just that everyone gets to hold the microphone here) as bullying. Eh, anyway.
posted by planetesimal at 3:52 PM on February 6, 2014 [2 favorites]


Right, good point. My frustration is with the first kind of aggression, which for a lot of people here might fall under the heading of "vigorous discussion," if I'm being charitable. But this style of commenting (to connect to the general topic at hand) lends itself to threadshitting and not reading the fpp. I feel awkward continuing to poke at Artw when he's not here, but he's not the only one like this - there are a lot of very active people on Metafilter who have the same style as him, ie vigorous yelling and belittling of others masked as "discussion."
posted by Frobenius Twist at 4:24 PM on February 6, 2014


The trend on specific-user-callouts seems to me to be a downward slope, actually. They were pretty common back in the day, but these days people seem to mostly avoid them. I haven't done any actual data-collection on that, mind you, I've just had to read every MeTa for about three years now.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 4:25 PM on February 6, 2014 [3 favorites]


Also I think it's generally not helpful to anyone to start up with the look-what-you-made-him/her-do! after someone deactivates their account. Artw made a lot of great posts here and it would be too bad if he never came back, but also, he's an adult and he has other options. His leaving doesn't in some way prove that people were too harsh with him or that what people said was unwarranted or misguided.
posted by en forme de poire at 4:29 PM on February 6, 2014 [7 favorites]


vigorous yelling and belittling of others masked as "discussion."

Yes, exactly.

What I mean by bullying encompasses a number of different behaviors. But primarily I mean incidents where someone voices an idea that others don't agree with, and others gather 'round and berate the person in very harsh, personal, and blistering terms. There was one incident of this nature recently, that was agonizing for me to see ... people attacked a member who has NO history of conflict with others here, that I am aware of, but this member said something that peeved a little group and they were just brutal. That is bullying. There are other types of bullying here, but I'll leave it at that.

Maybe this has always been the case, but it doesn't feel like it to me ... that there are members who seem to just live for the opportunity to berate others, to give long, stemwinding denunciations of someone else's viewpoint, to nitpick a supposed fault in someone's opinions or expressions -- or shit, even nitpick the fact that they asked a question -- in a way that is incredibly toxic. These members love to high-five someone they agree with on fraught and disputed topics, in a very obnoxious way. It all adds up. This constant, personal, bitter harping on people they disagree with is a form of bullying, it can make people feel completely awful. They bully the mods into letting them do this, with clever justifications of their activities.

I think something about the culture on Metafilter is addictive, distorting, inclines people to see things too starkly, and might affect certain people very negatively psychologically ... there are certain heavy users here who seem to have declined mentally in a noticeable way during their time here.
posted by jayder at 5:53 PM on February 6, 2014 [4 favorites]


Frobenius Twist: "vigorous yelling and belittling of others masked as "discussion.""

If that is what people mean by bullying it isn't emerging IMO instead having been on a steady decline for years. I was plumbing the archives for advice last week and boy howdy anyone who thinks this is emerging behaviour just needs to revisit a few random posts from five years ago.
posted by Mitheral at 5:59 PM on February 6, 2014 [7 favorites]


Maybe this has always been the case

I've been reading MeFi since like, 2003 or something.

This has always been the case.

Something something "same as it ever was."
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 6:03 PM on February 6, 2014


Okay that was a hasty comment.

There's still grar on MeFi, and on MeTa especially. There always will be, human nature being what it is.

But, and probably someone smarter than me can articulate this better, it's been going down down down down for years. I think when the grar escapes it peaks higher than it used to, but I think there are far fewer peaks than there used to be.

There's always been "constant, personal, bitter harping on people." But, maybe I'm wrong I dunno, I think that's been declining in recent years.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 6:06 PM on February 6, 2014


This constant, personal, bitter harping on people they disagree with is a form of bullying, it can make people feel completely awful.

It's just typical human group dynamics. The group has various roughly agreed likes and dislikes and the proceeds accordingly when the group encounters those situations/dynamics. Praise for what it likes, disparagement for dislikes. Human nature.

The bees point at us, laugh and then return to the hive and do a little dance so other bees know where to go to point and laugh.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:44 PM on February 6, 2014 [2 favorites]


It's not so much that they dance, it's that they're so damn smug in their little dances. Fucking smart-ass bees.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 7:49 PM on February 6, 2014 [3 favorites]


Anthropomorphizzzzzzzzzzzzm
posted by planetesimal at 7:54 PM on February 6, 2014


This is part of his schtick. "Oh, I'm not calling YOU a motherfucker, I was responding to the subject of the post!" Uh huh. Right.

Uh, right. It's plainly obvious it was rhetorical usage and not directed at other posters.
posted by spaltavian at 8:13 PM on February 6, 2014 [4 favorites]


His leaving doesn't in some way prove that people were too harsh with him or that what people said was unwarranted or misguided.

Thanks for putting my thoughts and feelings into words.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:36 PM on February 6, 2014 [2 favorites]


It's just typical human group dynamics.

This is true, but the ability for a culture to learn somewhat better is why there are fewer pogroms and ethnic cleansings in some places and times than others.

Mefi does seem to be in the process of learning to do better, but it's a long haul.

As for people quitting, those who live by the sword are liable to end up dying by it. If you don't want to end up there, work on being more temperate and emotionally intelligent. AskMefi and the mods will probably be glad to help you if you don't know how.
posted by philipy at 11:19 AM on February 7, 2014 [2 favorites]


Some people are pathological in their behaviour and unfortunately unable to see that. They are a part of the community, and sometimes add something positive to it. Most of the time they are facilitated and supported by the community in ways that they cannot perceive or appreciate because of their pathology.

Very occasionally something that appears to be a threadshit is actually a well deserved kick in the proverbials as noted above by Lesser Shrew, but more often it is not about anything other than wanting attention. We can choose not to provide that attention.

jayder - These members love to high-five someone they agree with on fraught and disputed topics, in a very obnoxious way. It all adds up. This constant, personal, bitter harping on people they disagree with is a form of bullying, it can make people feel completely awful. They bully the mods into letting them do this, with clever justifications of their activities.

This has become less predominant in my experience. Swimming against the stream is always going to be harder, but only dead fish go with the flow, or some other aphorism. I think of it as character building. I think that the character that Metafilter builds is a more open minded one that is thoughtful and considerate. But YMMV
posted by asok at 8:31 AM on February 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


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