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Is Metafilter compromised?
March 7, 2014 5:02 AM   Subscribe

I hate to be the poster child for tinfoil, but... (dons tinfoil hat): I have recently had several comments deleted from threads relating to the Ukraine crisis.

These comments were not off-topic, they weren't overly emotional, and nobody in particular was accused of anything. They were simply trying to include a dash of Russian perspective that is missing from the threads.

I have mentioned the recently leaked documents stating that the NSA/CIA actively uses paid shills to control conversation in online forums, not once have I accused any particular member of this. So I'm a bit taken aback my taz's characterization:
[A couple of comments deleted. NiceKitty, you need to cool it. Do not make accusations of other members being paid shills, and do not pound the thread with repetitive comments. I get that you're feeling emotional, but this is not all about you and you need to dial back.]

[NiceKitty, contact us about moderation issues if you have questions. Don't comment flood in this thread, and don't accuse people of being shills. If you want people to read something other than what they're reading, feel free to link to sources. If you have complaints about Metafilter, please take it Metatalk.]
I have not accused anybody in particular of being paid shills. I feel the moderator comment is misleading. Mods, can you produce the original posts please? taz: Would you mind linking to the leaked Snowden doc that implicates the NSA/CIA in infiltrating online forums? I'd do it myself, but I'm feeling pretty paranoid. It's needed for context. Also, some more relevant context is available simply by searching Metafilter for "NSA".

And FWIW, I'm really really uncomfortable being the center of attention on this. I'm not sure I can go back to the US after this -- I haven't broken any laws, but you don't have to break laws to be labeled an "enemy combatant". And then you don't get a trial. I'm sure GitMo is lovely this time of year, but I'm not interested!

Secondly, although it is related, I want to discuss the fact that these threads are echo chambers of western perspective. As an American from a military family, I'm not trying to push Russian propaganda, but after living a few weeks in a Russian-speaking country (Belarus) it is obvious to me that western news is a propaganda machine, similar to the worst of Russian. Just 2 or 3 Russian folks would help balance things a bit. Some Ukrainians would be cool too. A few Crimeans. English-speaking, preferably, but Google Translate is pretty good. Again, I'm American so I can't read Russian news. I've been doing the best I can just talking with the few English-speaking people over here. And it appears that the few comments (maybe 10 total, between the 2 threads) that I have made are actively being shut down.

This is a big deal. US media led us into a resource war in Iraq based on flimsy premise, and now 500,000 Iraq civilians are dead, with 1.5 million badly injured. We can re-hash that if people like, but I hope it's pretty obvious in retrospect that the US media was complicit in selling the case for war. As an international community, we have to get this right. This time, we're playing with nukes.

So here I am, well aware that I'm looking like a loon. I have contacted mathowie directly -- no response, but I'm sure he's a busy guy -- and, as suggested by taz, I'm opening this MetaTalk thread to openly discuss the possibility that Metafilter has been infiltrated my NSA/CIA shills, either as members or as mods.

I know this is ugly, and I'm very sorry for the work this thread may create. I can stick around, leave, even delete my account**, whatever you want -- but we need to talk about this. (At some point, I will need to take a break for sure, as I have a dislocated disc in my neck that is quite painful.)

** Full disclosure: I previously deleted my NiceKitty account due to paranoia from a previous NSA/CIA thread. I previously-er deleted my LordSludge account due to a MetaTalk pile-on that I felt was unjustified. Oh, and my girlfriend is Russian, living in Belarus, which certainly influences my perspective on things.
posted by NiceKitty to Etiquette/Policy at 5:02 AM (282 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

...they weren't overly emotional...

Um, respectfully disagree on this point. I did wince at some (not all, by a long way) of your comments and imagined you angrily reducing the keyboard to tiny pieces as you banged them out. I can appreciate that this is an emotional and powerful topic, and you have the additional load of your partner being from that geographical sphere, but it was still full-on at times.

Am trying (but still often failing) to step away from the keyboard when am too emotional to discuss or comment in a reasonable manner. The mantra "Just because there is an inviting box on the screen doesn't mean I have to type something into it" sometimes works. Sometimes not.
posted by Wordshore at 5:12 AM on March 7 [1 favorite]


And FWIW, I'm really really uncomfortable being the center of attention on this. I'm not sure I can go back to the US after this -- I haven't broken any laws, but you don't have to break laws to be labeled an "enemy combatant". And then you don't get a trial. I'm sure GitMo is lovely this time of year, but I'm not interested!

I'm almost sure you're trolling. If not, you really are drinking some quite exotic kool aid.

Aside from anything else, imprisoning people for really fairly milquetoast views would have a cost that far exceeds the benefit in human rights terms, financial terms, general political terms and with Russian-American voters in particular.

You almost certainly got stuff deleted because it mostly had this quality of reasoning and perspective. It isn't because the mods are CIA-run.
posted by jaduncan at 5:14 AM on March 7 [19 favorites]


I previously deleted my NiceKitty account due to paranoia from a previous NSA/CIA thread.

Seriously, you'll be OK.
posted by jaduncan at 5:15 AM on March 7 [2 favorites]


Metafilter: *dons tinfoil hat*
posted by alby at 5:16 AM on March 7 [6 favorites]


You were asked earlier, here and here to ease up on the hyper commenting there.

You are perfectly free to express your point of view in a reasonable number of comments (don't make it all about you and repeat yourself again and again), and you are free to link to articles that you think might give a different perspective. You are not free to suggest that other people in the thread are shills, or agents, as you did in a deleted comment in the older thread: "And yeah, if there are shills in this thread trying to steer the conversation? You are the enemy of American freedom, indeed of freedom the world over. Please stop killing people for a paycheck. I would love to help get you into another line of work if you decide you want to be human again."

This is your recent deleted comment in the newer thread:
Are there any Russians in thread? Or is this going to be another western perspective echo chamber? I just want us to be up-front about this.

If so, please consider this western perspective as the thread progresses. And consider that much of the western news amounts to corporate/government propaganda. Please try not to Other the Russians. Please try to be objective and seek out news sources that aren't tied to western government or corporate interests.

Also, know that there may be CIA/NSA shills in-thread here, actively steering the conversation. Crazy as that sounds -- trust me I know -- there is a leaked Snowden document that confirms that govt PsOps does indeed populate internet forums and outlines the techniques they use to control the narrative. I'm too much of a coward to link directly to a classified document, even if leaked and is now public knowledge, but I feel like it was discussed in a recent Metafilter post. Here is a search of "NSA" on Metafilter -- worth a look just to set the tone of what we're dealing with.
It's not okay to derail with NSA stuff to make generalized vague accusations about people participating in the thread. Just stick with the topic, don't over-comment, link to information that you feel is helpful, and contact us if you have questions about the moderation. I am not an NSA/CIA agent or similar.
posted by taz (staff) at 5:18 AM on March 7 [12 favorites]


taz: Can you please post the complete text of all my deleted comments so that nothing will be taken out of context? Thank you!
posted by NiceKitty at 5:19 AM on March 7


These comments were not off-topic, they weren't overly emotional, and nobody in particular was accused of anything. They were simply trying to include a dash of Russian perspective that is missing from the threads.

I mean, you just accused the mods (there aren't that many of them, so that's kind of specific) of being NSA/CIA shills, even though there appears to be no evidence for that at all. For what it's worth, I think matthowie lives on the west coast, so it's still five a.m. over there. I would love to have more comments from different perspectives, but I don't think we have a guest speaker system-- if you know someone, encourage them to post too.
posted by jetlagaddict at 5:21 AM on March 7 [5 favorites]


Also, can you please post a link to the document regarding CIA/NSA infiltrating online forums so that people won't think I'm *quite* such a loon. Thanks again!
posted by NiceKitty at 5:21 AM on March 7


I am not an NSA/CIA agent or similar.

That's just what I'd expect an NSA/CIA agent or similar to say!
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 5:21 AM on March 7 [49 favorites]


Ok, I'm comfortable with pausing this for a few hours until the US wakes up.
posted by NiceKitty at 5:22 AM on March 7


Also, can you please post a link to the document regarding CIA/NSA infiltrating online forums so that people won't think I'm *quite* such a loon. Thanks again!

If you want the document posted, why don't you link to it?
posted by JohnLewis at 5:23 AM on March 7 [9 favorites]


I just noticed the title on this post. My word.
posted by jaduncan at 5:24 AM on March 7 [18 favorites]


Is this serving a purpose beyond another chance to air deleted comments and rehash the same problematic arguments?
posted by Dip Flash at 5:26 AM on March 7 [7 favorites]


Well, it gives us a chance to talk about the reptilian shapeshifters in our ranks, so that's a plus.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 5:27 AM on March 7 [108 favorites]


NiceKitty, if the US intelligence apparati were actually interested in you, do you seriously think it would matter whether or not you posted a link to those leaked PsyOps documents?

You're not getting pushback because you are surrounded by shills, you're getting pushback because you're being fighty and accusatory. Take it easy. The reed that bends is stronger than the reed that breaks.
posted by Sticherbeast at 5:28 AM on March 7 [11 favorites]


Anytime you acknowledge yourself being paranoid about something, it's best to step away from the keyboard for a bit, NiceKitty. You've made a lot of wild accusations based on this Snowden doc which you insist is the key to understanding this this forum is being steered by Skrulls...I mean, CIA/NSA agents posing as normal posters. I mean, that sounds cuckoo-pants.

And no, for the record, I am not an NSA or CIA agent or any other kind of government volunteer or employee.

If you think this forum is compromised, then don't stay here. Put the tinfoil hat on and make plans for the bunker, man. But you don't get to make a second bite of the wild accusation apple on the gray just because it didn't fly on the green. Or at least you shouldn't.
posted by inturnaround at 5:30 AM on March 7


I am not an NSA/CIA agent or similar.

I was once employed in a CSA position. I assume that doesn't count, although I will admit we recorded the phone calls.
posted by jaduncan at 5:33 AM on March 7 [15 favorites]


I assume the story you're referring to is this one of a couple weeks ago. I think your concerns are a good example of the deeply corrosive influence of these kinds of surveillance and subversion activities--to my mind, it's very unlikely that there are any paid shills participating in these MetaFilter threads, if for no other reason than I don't think persuading a few MeFites is a high-value enough target to be worth the effort.

Not to be all "then the terrorists will have already won" but I think the best defense against the paranoia these tactics are designed to sow is to work hard to maintain the community of trust we have here on MetaFilter, not to descend into accusations.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 5:35 AM on March 7 [7 favorites]


I am not an NSA/CIA agent or similar.

But your lack of a denial about being Satoshi Nakamoto is more compelling evidence than anything Newsweek turned up. Btw can I have some bitcoins now, please?

{removes tinfoil hat}
posted by Wordshore at 5:36 AM on March 7 [5 favorites]


Yeah, try to relax a little, man — I know you're a cool guy. Nothing consequential will flow from this MeFi stuff; I understand you're wound up, and I probably would be too, but these NSA types aren't completely stupid, much as they are portrayed as such, and I would expect them to discern you're not a terrible threat to the state or anything even like it.

Stay cool and ignore the barrage of fairly weak jokes that will follow. jaduncan is an extremely relevant source on these matters.

(How do I know he is? We know.)
posted by Wolof at 5:40 AM on March 7


I understand being on the lookout for shills/spies/psyops/what have you; I do. I can empathize with the strong desire to have at least one place where you can go and not feel like every word you say/write/post is being monitored.

The problem with being on the lookout for this sort of thing is that tradecraft is designed to be ambiguous, and so you are in the difficult position of having to be paranoid about being paranoid, and it usually doesn't go well from there, in my experience.

I would suggest that you be very, very aware of when something sets off your warning bells, and to perhaps discount the first few times it happens with a particular person/event.

I'm sorry you're feeling what you're feeling, but recognize that as frightened as it makes you, your manner of handling it can be frightening to others.
posted by Mooski at 5:41 AM on March 7 [4 favorites]


I don't think you are a loon. It's just the language you're using is inflammatory.

Also, what would you like the mods and the community to do? I mean, assume Mefi has paid shills, how would we investigate this and what are we supposed to do about it?
posted by Foci for Analysis at 5:41 AM on March 7 [7 favorites]


Ban Ironmouth?
posted by gman at 5:43 AM on March 7 [22 favorites]


NiceKitty, you need to stop insisting that people are shills just because they disagree with you, and you also need to just link shit yourself. Do not ask other people to link to that doc - it's the internet, you can do it.

Honestly, if anyone is shilling it sounds like you are. I know I brought it up in one of the Ukraine threads, but that way you came into the VA same-sex marriage thread and told people to stop being mean to Russia when no one had mentioned Russia was weird and obnoxious.
posted by rtha at 5:44 AM on March 7 [31 favorites]


I'm finding it really hard to have a conversation between someone who ping-pongs back and forth between "you can't trust any Western media" to "both sides are lying" to "here's what the Russian media and people say" to "we have to be open to any news sources" to "anyone who disagrees with my specific viewpoint must be distrusted." That's why I had a snit fit in the original thread, because every time you seem to portray yourself as open to discussion, you flip some switch and it seems like you want to shut down the discussion that doesn't deal with Iraq and oil and the NSA. Which, by the way, does seem pretty paranoid. We have almost twice-weekly threads critical of the NSA here, including several on their involvement with Internet discussions, and none of those are being disappeared, nor have the people here highly critical of the US been silenced. Similarly, your original post with the link to the Snowden document still stands in the old thread, so your claims about it being removed don't hold water. If it was me, and I honestly thought that I was being censored by NSA-sponsored mods, I wouldn't feel safe posting anything anywhere.

Also: as a descendant of Ukranian Jews who fled persecution, I have to say that the repeated insistence on eschewing "western" sources for Russian ones is pretty creepy. There are a ton of western sources critical of their own governments as well as the US that seem to be doing fairly level-headed reporting, and they're certainly not cheering on Iraq War III: The Search For Putin's Gold.
posted by zombieflanders at 5:44 AM on March 7 [50 favorites]


And please keep posting in the threads. Mefi needs diverging opinions more than ever.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 5:44 AM on March 7 [4 favorites]


Mefi needs diverging opinions more than ever.

It'd be nice if that was what he was doing.

Other people are actually doing that, without accusing everyone else of being shills and while linking to actual sources. Insisting that Western media is biased is not the height of a divergent opinion. It's a "duh."
posted by rtha at 5:46 AM on March 7 [14 favorites]


Compromised? You never know.

Obama's use of government-created content and social media portends future relationships between media, president, says Politico.
posted by three blind mice at 5:49 AM on March 7 [1 favorite]


Iraq War III: The Search For Putin's Gold

Has Peter Jackson finalized the title of the third/final Hobbit film yet?
posted by Wordshore at 5:49 AM on March 7 [2 favorites]


hey CIA if you want me to spy me mail me i could use some dough for rent this month
posted by angrycat at 5:50 AM on March 7 [10 favorites]


"Ban Ironmouth?"

Oh for fucks sake, get over yourself.
posted by Blasdelb at 5:50 AM on March 7 [30 favorites]


Sometimes I wonder what you people look like in real life.
posted by slogger at 5:50 AM on March 7 [1 favorite]


I look like a more attractive version of myself.
posted by zombieflanders at 5:52 AM on March 7 [25 favorites]


Guys, please do not use this thread to grind axes about other members.
posted by taz (staff) at 5:56 AM on March 7 [5 favorites]


I picture everyone on this site to look and sound like either Gilbert Gottfried or Anne Ramsay.
posted by Sticherbeast at 5:57 AM on March 7 [4 favorites]


A conspiracy thread and so far no one has mentioned The Cabal?
They're that good.
posted by ceribus peribus at 5:57 AM on March 7 [8 favorites]


Well, it gives us a chance to talk about the reptilian shapeshifters in our ranks, so that's a plus.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 9:27 AM on March 7


Like we'd trust your integrity regarding cold-blooded vertebrates!
posted by leotrotsky at 5:58 AM on March 7 [12 favorites]


> Sometimes I wonder what you people look like in real life.

My user profile icon is a 100% fully reliable and accurate photograph of me, vouchsafed by experts.
posted by ardgedee at 5:58 AM on March 7 [7 favorites]


I look like my best self.

Oy. I know there's a point at which there's no more productive way to engage person-to-person, and "take it to MetaTalk" is probably as good a bucket of cold water as anything, but I wish there was another way to do this that didn't involve someone with some issues placing themselves squarely in the line of a MetaTalk shellacking.
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:59 AM on March 7 [3 favorites]


Check this out for bad form — I will now quote myself

Stay cool and ignore the barrage of fairly weak jokes that will follow. jaduncan is an extremely relevant source on these matters.


What I meant to say is that jaduncan has relevant experience in intelligence matters. He probably also has relevant experience in weak jokes, but I expressed that poorly. For which my apologies.
posted by Wolof at 6:00 AM on March 7 [6 favorites]


Iraq War III: The Search For Putin's Gold

Has Peter Jackson finalized the title of the third/final Hobbit film yet?


I believe the working title is "The Hobbit: The Monetization of Chumps"
posted by leotrotsky at 6:01 AM on March 7 [26 favorites]


How many times do we have to tell you: THERE IS NO CABAL!!!!1!

Signed,

Todd Lokken
The Cabal
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 6:01 AM on March 7 [3 favorites]


...but after living a few weeks in a Russian-speaking country (Belarus) it is obvious to me that western news is a propaganda machine, similar to the worst of Russian.

Here is a writeup of what is going on in mainstream Russian news, written by a very knowledgeable MeFite from Russia and presented to you by a different and much more ignorant MeFite from Russia.

The depths of propaganda in mainstream Russian news is not comparable to that of the U.S. Not even close.
posted by griphus at 6:02 AM on March 7 [39 favorites]


When it came time to picking a username, it was either this, or "Deep Throat".
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:03 AM on March 7 [2 favorites]


I think you're a paid shill for the KGB, NiceKitty. See how easy that is?

The point is: We're all shills, paid or not. Everyone is trying to provide their own perspective on an issue. That's the definition of a discussion. It may just be that the MetaFilter in that thread has an overwhelmingly Western perspective. Oh, well.

Let's be logical about this. If you have the knowledge, don't debate us. Educate us.
posted by Johann Georg Faust at 6:04 AM on March 7 [2 favorites]


after living a few weeks in a Russian-speaking country (Belarus) it is obvious to me that western news is a propaganda machine, similar to the worst of Russian...

I feel like I'm sensing the zeal of a new convert. Yes, the scales must have fallen from your eyes once you got out of the American-media-referential chamber, but I don't think that means we're all a bunch of yokels getting duped by our news sources. I think there are ways you can calmly share and relay sources and news you have more exposure to than we, perhaps, do; but you might also want to give some thought to the psychological effects of being embedded in your scenario, as well. Don't make it all more grandiose than it is, though that can be seductive.
posted by Miko at 6:10 AM on March 7 [61 favorites]


I'm an unpaid shill. Internships suck.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 6:10 AM on March 7 [62 favorites]


Blasdelb: Oh for fucks sake, get over yourself.

I can't. My username was assigned to me by a one "mathowie" back in 2005 and I'm jealous that my operation here isn't covert.
posted by gman at 6:12 AM on March 7 [2 favorites]


The point is: We're all shills, paid or not. Everyone is trying to provide their own perspective on an issue. That's the definition of a discussion. It may just be that the MetaFilter in that thread has an overwhelmingly Western perspective. Oh, well.

A shill is someone who advocates a point of view or praises something without disclosing a conflict of interest. You are not a shill simply for stating your own beliefs, and advocating for something you believe in does not make you a shill. Unless NiceKitty actually believes that people are not disclosing their NSA ties or their Western perspectives, his accusations of shilling are dumb.
posted by rtha at 6:14 AM on March 7 [9 favorites]


Okay, if we're going to be having a purge of suspected government consorts, I call being on the ad hoc jury of peers. And really, let's do this the right way people. Remember:

If you see something (with which you disagree), Say something (vaguely implicating them with conspiracy).
posted by Think_Long at 6:14 AM on March 7 [2 favorites]


And please keep posting in the threads. Mefi needs diverging opinions more than ever.

There's something to this. Let us run it past the kombinat.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:21 AM on March 7 [2 favorites]


Thanks for linking your prior accounts. Mods, is that accurate?
posted by the man of twists and turns at 6:26 AM on March 7


NiceKitty, I mean this gently and with respect, but you may want to have a word with a mental health professional about your paranoia concerns.

It is not healthy or rational to think that a couple of pretty bland (by US Gov standards) comments could possibly have any effect on your citizenship or your freedom, let alone end up with you in Gitmo. It's just not a thing that ever happens. You are not exactly a valuable target for the CIA (unless you do some really spooky shit you're not disclosing, which is possible), and one of the hallmarks of clinical paranoia is an overinflated sense of how important you are to The Man and how The Man is everywhere and is going to imprison you.

What you are saying does not sound like the words of a healthy and rational individual. Please, I urge you, discuss your concerns with a qualified professional and see what's actually at the root of your worries.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 6:29 AM on March 7 [95 favorites]


well said, Miko
posted by GrapeApiary at 6:30 AM on March 7


VILLAGER #1: We have found a witch, might we burn her?
CROWD: Burn her! Burn!
BEDEMIR: How do you know she is a witch?
VILLAGER #2: She looks like one.
BEDEMIR: Bring her forward.
WITCH: I'm not a witch. I'm not a witch.
BEDEMIR: But you are dressed as one.
WITCH: They dressed me up like this.
CROWD: No, we didn't... no.
WITCH: And this isn't my nose, it's a false one.
BEDEMIR: Well?
VILLAGER #1 METAFILTER: Well, we did do the nose.
posted by digitalprimate at 6:35 AM on March 7 [2 favorites]


I think it is worth noting that Russian opinion isn't uniform. On Facebook, my Russian friend who has been repeatedly writing about this has been both very critical of Putin and the invasion of the Crimea and worried about the new government in the Ukraine.
posted by Area Man at 6:35 AM on March 7 [1 favorite]


I have contacted mathowie directly -- no response, but I'm sure he's a busy guy -- and, as suggested by taz, I'm opening this MetaTalk thread to openly discuss the possibility that Metafilter has been infiltrated my NSA/CIA shills, either as members or as mods.

mathowie is asleep and doesn't have a shift today so it's possible he won't get back to you. And I'm not sure what he's supposed to say anyhow: no one on the payroll is a paid shill.

And then what? People come back with: to the best of your knowledge then and we're like yeah, that's the only way we can really answer that question.

So if there is something you want/need to talk about that is on that topic, please feel free to elaborate. We're really not going to get into demands that we link to leaked Snowden documents (we're not going to, you can feel free to). It may be that the amount of assurances that you need are just not something you're going to be able to get in a casual online forum and you'll have to decide what you want to do about that. We'll continue to delete comments that accuse other usrs of being agents/shills because it comes under or general "no personal attacks" and/or "don't make the thread all about you and your issues" guidelines.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:36 AM on March 7 [9 favorites]


I think it is worth noting that Russian opinion isn't uniform.

For example...
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 6:37 AM on March 7


So mathowie is a sleeper agent? I knew it!
posted by valkane at 6:41 AM on March 7 [28 favorites]


Christ, I wish someone were paying me to say the banal pedantic shit I say here. Seriously, if anybody knows where I can apply for a full-time position commenting in online forums, please post a link.
posted by FelliniBlank at 6:42 AM on March 7 [39 favorites]


I only want to know two things here:

I am not an NSA/CIA agent or similar. That's just what I'd expect an NSA/CIA agent or similar to say!

Is this reasoning akin to "he who smelt it dealt it"?

Obama's use of government-created content and social media portends future relationships between media, president, says Politico.

Is this the same Politico which routinely uses government-created content and social media to "win the morning and win the afternoon"?

Also, possibly relevant ...
posted by octobersurprise at 6:44 AM on March 7 [4 favorites]


Also I have to ask, what do you expect to get out of this MeTa?

1) Even if there are paid NSA/CIA/KGB/SPECTRE spooks and shills hanging out here, do you really think anyone's going to own up?

2) Your comments aren't going to be undeleted, and from the comments posted by mods that were deleted, you were a) stepping over the line, and b) not exactly being objective in your description of your own comments

3) While MeFi does need a little more global diversity in viewpoints shared, there's no good way to go about this. Recruiting people you know to come on MeFi and... support what you're saying? Over on Wikipedia that's called meatpuppeting and is viewed as dimly as malicious sockpuppeting, so that seems like a really, really bad idea.

4) Having other people link to documents which are trvially googleable and you can link yourself, but you don't want to because of paranoia? See my previous comment, please.

I just don't understand at all what kind of resolution you expect from this post, unless it's to re-litigate whether or not your (misrepresented by you, consciously or not) comments should have been deleted. That's something best handled via the contact form, and in any case, the Supreme Court of Metafilter has issued its ruling and there is no appeal.

So. What positive outcomes do you want to see coming out of this post that are actually achievable in the real world?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 6:49 AM on March 7


it's very unlikely that there are any paid shills participating in these MetaFilter threads

Fwiw I think the probability of there being paid shills in mefi in some capacity is 1. If I were the CIA/NSA I'd be very interested in finding places with similar signal/noise ratios.

This is just a fact of life on the internet now though. Accusing people serves no purpose.
posted by Skorgu at 6:49 AM on March 7


Pretty sure that if the NSA/CIA is employing paid shills to promote pro-US-government sentiment on online forums, they've already written off MetaFilter as a lost cause a long time ago.
posted by Jacqueline at 6:51 AM on March 7 [3 favorites]


I'm not a paid shill right now, but I'm open to bids.
posted by Miko at 6:52 AM on March 7 [15 favorites]


$20, same as in town.
posted by zombieflanders at 6:53 AM on March 7 [7 favorites]


You are all paid shellfish
posted by Sticherbeast at 6:53 AM on March 7 [6 favorites]


Indeed, I got 100 clams for making this post right here.
posted by valkane at 6:57 AM on March 7 [11 favorites]


Christ, I wish someone were paying me to say the banal pedantic shit I say here. Seriously, if anybody knows where I can apply for a full-time position commenting in online forums, please post a link.

Wouldn't that be a strange job? Would it be a 9-5 sort of thing? You'd come into the office and start logging into various forums where you'd made pro-US comments and try to undermine those with other opinions. Maybe knock off for an hour at lunch. Take the metro home after work.
posted by Area Man at 6:57 AM on March 7 [3 favorites]


I thought opening a meta to re-grind an issue that's been clearly explained results in at least one of the following:
- it's quickly closed ("don't try to re-start the shit we already shut down") [especially asking to have all the deleted comments re-posted.]
- massive flameout
- pancakes
posted by k5.user at 6:58 AM on March 7


You are all paid shellfish

Abalone!
posted by octobersurprise at 6:59 AM on March 7 [23 favorites]


This is just a fact of life on the internet now though.

Seriously, you guys really need to stop getting your information from Homeland episodes and Tom Clancy novels. I've spent a lot of time in government agency offices, even some of themk super secret types (and no I'm not an employee of the CIA or NSA or anything like that and I'm certainly no paid shill). Most folks here have encountered government offices through their interaction with places like the DMV or the Social Security office or passport agency, do you really think those apples have fallen so far from the tree? Is the NSA so different than the rest of the bureaucratic morass that is modern governance? I can assure you it is not. I can assure you that government agents on MeFi are not as paid shills to astroturf the party line, but rather to read interesting content and pop off jokey, though occasionally relevent, commentary based on their own opinions while they really are supposed to be monitoring actual terrorist chatter in way different fora.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 7:02 AM on March 7 [35 favorites]


Paid ?
Hell - I will make fun of Russia for FREE

An Englishman, a Frenchman, and American were discussing the Nationality of Adam and Eve.
"They must have been English," said the Englishman, "because a true gentleman would share his only apple with a woman"
"No, no," said the Frenchman, "Only a Frenchman would use an apple to seduce his woman."
"No, they were Russian," said they American, "they were walking around with no clothes, with nothing but one apple to eat between them, and they actually thought they lived in Paradise"

posted by Flood at 7:03 AM on March 7 [8 favorites]


Wouldn't that be a strange job? Would it be a 9-5 sort of thing? You'd come into the office and start logging into various forums where you'd made pro-US comments and try to undermine those with other opinions. Maybe knock off for an hour at lunch. Take the metro home after work.

That's basically what I do now.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 7:03 AM on March 7 [13 favorites]


I am allergic to shellfish. I will accept payment in smoked brisket and/or scotch from Islay.
posted by rtha at 7:04 AM on March 7 [7 favorites]


How about home cured gravlax, rtha?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:04 AM on March 7 [1 favorite]


I can assure you that government agents on MeFi are not as paid shills to astroturf the party line, but rather to read interesting content and pop off jokey, though occasionally relevent, commentary based on their own opinions while they really are supposed to be monitoring actual terrorist chatter in way different fora.

You're just trying to get me fired, aren't you?
posted by valkane at 7:06 AM on March 7 [10 favorites]


I for one appreciated some of your comments, NiceKitty. A bit irrational and repetitive, but not entirely without interesting points. I particularly liked the "How do you know those are Russian troops?" comment. That could be any army! They're just very cleverly disguised to look like the Russian army pretending not to be the Russian army.

Seriously, it's useful to be reminded that there are people out there somewhere who will believe whatever they say on Voice of Russia. The few actual Russians I've met were certainly not among them.
posted by sfenders at 7:07 AM on March 7 [7 favorites]


Of course, the easiest way to spot a paid shill is when they use "we" to mean "United States of America."
posted by FelliniBlank at 7:09 AM on March 7 [24 favorites]


fffm: yes.
posted by rtha at 7:09 AM on March 7


Just to repeat myself from other threads, whether or not there is a cabal, there is absolutely no point in sarcastically pretending to be the cabal or speak for the cabal as a joke or any other sort of comment to make light of the fact that some people say they believe in a cabal.

Folks who are inclined to believe in a cabal are going to take making light of it in a poor way. Folks who are not already possessed of a belief in the cabal don't think the joke is funny. The only persons you are amusing are other people inclined to make light of it, which you may find is a small population made up of older users who feel the joke is obvious.

Making these jokes improves nothing for the general population. Please stop.
posted by kalessin at 7:11 AM on March 7 [6 favorites]


Actual Russian joke:

There's a family guy asleep in the middle of the night, and a loud knock is heard at the door followed by a shout of "Get your stuff, you have to get out". He gets terrified and tries to look through the door lens. From outside a voice says "Relax, it's just that your house is on fire."
posted by jaduncan at 7:13 AM on March 7 [54 favorites]


kalessin, I thought The Cabal was an ancient MeFi in-joke regarding mods and some long-term contributors.

I've said too much
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:14 AM on March 7 [2 favorites]


fffm, I thought you had resolved not to speak to me.
posted by kalessin at 7:15 AM on March 7 [1 favorite]


kalessin, I thought The Cabal was an ancient MeFi in-joke regarding mods and some long-term contributors.

Yeah it's an unfortunate overlap between a site in-joke and larger real world conspiracy theory issues. But I think there are people who find it funny. I sometimes find it funny.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:16 AM on March 7 [12 favorites]


Making these jokes improves nothing for the general population.

Except, you know, the people that love this long-standing inside joke and favorite it whenever it appears, who are the majority of users, in my opinion. I don't think anyone's ever going to stop making these jokes because of your request, sorry kalessin.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:17 AM on March 7 [21 favorites]


Oh dear you're right I shouldn't bother commenting when someone says something so.. well you can fill in the adjective yourself. Jesus.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:17 AM on March 7 [1 favorite]


Yeah it's an unfortunate overlap between a site in-joke and larger real world conspiracy theory issues. But I think there are people who find it funny. I sometimes find it funny.

...she said, carefully reaffirming the Cabal as merely a joke.
posted by jaduncan at 7:18 AM on March 7 [15 favorites]


Cabal jokes are funny and I'd be sad to see them go.
posted by Diskeater at 7:19 AM on March 7 [7 favorites]


One does not simply joke about the cabal.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:19 AM on March 7 [1 favorite]


I just consider it unwise, fffm, to speak to someone you've MeMail blocked and said very nasty things about, in public. BND and all, it would probably be best if you and I continued not to speak directly to one another, which I will resume now.
posted by kalessin at 7:20 AM on March 7 [1 favorite]


What. the. fuck. people?

Is this thread even about anything anymore?
posted by absalom at 7:21 AM on March 7 [19 favorites]


I'll speak to whom I like when I like, thanks.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:21 AM on March 7 [1 favorite]


Are we gonna have to turn this thread around and go home?
posted by rtha at 7:22 AM on March 7 [33 favorites]


Actual Russian joke:

There's a family guy asleep in the middle of the night, and a loud knock is heard at the door followed by a shout of "Get your stuff, you have to get out". He gets terrified and tries to look through the door lens. From outside a voice says "Relax, it's just that your house is on fire."


Soviet-era joke:

Two acquaintances meet on a train.

"Where are you headed?" Asks one.
"To Minsk, to see my daughter." Replies the other.
He said he's going to Minsk, the first man thinks. That means he's going to Smolensk. But this train doesn't go to Smolensk. This is the Minsk train.

Why would he lie?

posted by running order squabble fest at 7:22 AM on March 7 [117 favorites]


I'm an unpaid shill. Internships suck.

I only dabble. A shillettante, if you will.
posted by jquinby at 7:22 AM on March 7 [26 favorites]


a site in-joke

A site in-joke? It goes much deeper than that...
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:27 AM on March 7 [10 favorites]


Why would he lie?

Oh the paranoia. Recalls for me a bad relationship I was once in where the paranoia and anxiety we kicked up for each other was so bad we sometimes thought like this. It's hard to imagine living like this, thinking this way of everyone you know. Devastating.

I sort of remember why that was so miserable in the 80's when I was in high school and convinced my end would be soon, due to nuclear destruction.
posted by kalessin at 7:27 AM on March 7 [3 favorites]


I make a thousand dollars a month from home as a paid shill! Click here to find out how!
posted by Random Person at 7:29 AM on March 7 [6 favorites]


Could this thread be closed up, please? Letting it get derailed like that is just mockery.
posted by travelwithcats at 7:30 AM on March 7 [8 favorites]


Actual Russian joke:...
Soviet-era joke:...

Y'all have inspired me.
posted by griphus at 7:31 AM on March 7 [5 favorites]


NiceKitty: " I'm opening this MetaTalk thread to openly discuss the possibility that Metafilter has been infiltrated my NSA/CIA shills,"

I "infiltrated" Metafilter in 2004. In real life, I work in public relations. Oh, I don't work for the NSA or CIA or FBI or DOD or DHS or any other agency of the US or any other government. Nor have I ever. I'm not the only MeFite who is a professional publicist. But I am careful not to cross my personal and professional lives on Metafilter -- which means I deliberately don't comment in threads where those interests may diverge. I don't even comment on AskMe when questions might involve my clients. Or talk about my clients on Metafilter in any way.

And when I do mention my job, it's usually to debunk misconceptions about publicists and my industry. Or to complain about unethical tactics by people in the industry.

*puts on PR hat for a moment* Part of a publicist's job is to steer online perceptions, yes. Doing so here effectively, where the conversation is generally more of a give-and-take as opposed to someplace like reddit where comments are threaded and all you have to do is repeat the same talking points over and over again, would take a certain amount of time and commitment. And yet the person commenting would still be just one out of a sea of voices.

Is it possible that people are being paid to comment on MeFi? Sure. Should you worry about it? I have absolutely no idea. What exactly worries you about it? That you'd be banned from re-entering the US? I kinda doubt that a couple of comments on MeFi would qualify as something to send someone to Guantanamo for. But of course, people have been investigated for the dumbest shit imaginable over the last 13 years, so... again, I have no idea. *takes off PR hat*

In this... as in all your activities online, you must manage your involvement at a level where you are comfortable and feel secure.
posted by zarq at 7:32 AM on March 7 [10 favorites]


It's the early 90s, and Yuri's talking in the queues complaining about Yeltsin, the shortages in the shops and the lack of wages and stability.
From behind them, a taller guy pulls out a little red book and says "Remember, times are not so strict now. Before I would have arrested you and had you shot for that."
Yuri runs home and says to his wife "We have to emigrate now. They've run out of money for bullets."
posted by jaduncan at 7:32 AM on March 7 [16 favorites]


Gentlemen, you can't fight in here. This is the war room!
posted by zombieflanders at 7:35 AM on March 7 [21 favorites]


Yeah, this kind of call out of "infiltrators" really doesn't do anything except maybe show that you are wearing the crazy pants this morning, NiceKitty.

If there are professional infiltrators, the limelight you cast on them will not be enough to make them scuttle out and identify themselves.

If there aren't, then at worst/best I think this kind of thread just makes us all more suspicious of each other. Which is kind of the opposite of what we're going for here on Metafilter.

Certainly there are other communities to make a stab at getting everyone more divisive and at our throats. Here, I like this community, and I don't really take kindly to folks who seem bent on making it less communal and more suspicious of each other.
posted by kalessin at 7:36 AM on March 7 [1 favorite]


This is probably linked to my watching Life of Brian as our annual Pascha movie, but I think the very best way to answer questions about suspicion and infiltration is with appalling puns and jokes.
posted by viggorlijah at 7:39 AM on March 7 [4 favorites]


*puts on PR hat for a moment*

Has to be a homburg with a feather.
posted by FelliniBlank at 7:40 AM on March 7 [2 favorites]


OK, I think this is an interesting (if slightly bizarre) subject and I'm going to try to take NiceKitty's concerns seriously and explain why I don't share them. His concerns about MeFi being potentially compromised I mean, not his concerns about being disappeared off to a black prison – that's a whole other plate of beans and not as interesting to me.

I find it pretty hard to believe that any of the mods are actively working on behalf of government surveillance agencies. For one, I can think of at least one who has a public track record of working against that sort of thing. For that matter, MeFi itself has participated in information freedom protests in the past, and surveillance and censorship are some of the most common discussion topics here; if there were a policy of putting the chill on such discussions, I think it would be pretty obvious.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, all the mods here are pretty well-known personalities and given the amount of contact that they have with the community I think it would also be noticeable if their behavior around certain subjects had suddenly changed. Instead it's been quite consistent, at least over the five or six years that I've been reading this site (some as a lurker, some as a member). My impression has always been that they are sympathetic to people's concerns about privacy and information freedom, though they have been transparently realistic about what MeFi is and isn't willing/able to do in order to ensure that members can maintain anonymity and privacy. (If anyone wants a rehash of that last bit I suggest they ask the mods themselves.)

I find it a bit more credible that there might be accounts registered on MeFi by surveillance organizations like the NSA, though on balance I don't think it likely and here's why: just about all of the discussion here is publicly observable by design, and I don't think that there'd be a lot of value to be gotten out of participating disingenuously (shilling). Shilling only works when the marks believe that the shill is a disinterested and independent party – meaning that, generally speaking, shilling is not a long-term game. MeFi, with its tradition of committed (relative to elsewhere on the internet) membership, is not a place that's conducive to manipulation by short-term exploiters. (See my comment in a recent MeTa about trolling for why I think that's so.)

MetaFilter isn't a place where drive-by commenters or one-note agents provocateurs or propagandists have much of an effect aside from being called out and yelled at by other members for being annoying and not engaging properly with the community. They can be disruptive when they aren't simply ignored, but I've never noticed them being actually influential. Also, this is on the whole a remarkably well-informed community and one where members are very often willing to do outside research in order to support or refute controversial claims made in threads, and to bring their expertise and/or the results of their research back to the community. When people say things that others disagree with or find suspect, chances are they're going to be challenged and asked to give a substantive defense of their assertions. That goes for long-term members too, if we're going to suppose that some established members might have been approached by the NSA or similar with a proposition that they use their reputations as a platform for pushing pro-surveillance propaganda.

Those are the main reasons why I think it's extremely unlikely that the NSA or any similar organization is actively engaged in influencing MetaFilter – it doesn't fit with my experience of how things tend to go around here, I think it would be noticed if it happened (at least as something weird and objectionable), and I doubt it would be effective. Maybe they read MetaFilter, that sounds quite plausible, but MeFi is after all a publicly-viewable forum which anyone may read. It's worth bearing that in the back of one's mind, but I can't say as I've ever seen anyone say anything here that made me think they'd be in danger of arrest or anything like that. I've certainly seen people say things that make me wonder if that person might have a file with their name on it in an office somewhere (we have a handful of members who are quite politically radical) but never anything that seemed like it might actually endanger them or the community.
posted by Scientist at 7:45 AM on March 7 [20 favorites]


Could this thread be closed up, please? Letting it get derailed like that is just mockery

This. Cabal jokes are mildly funny at best (and even then tend to rub me slightly the wrong way), but this situation the levity strikes me as particularly distasteful.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:47 AM on March 7 [2 favorites]


Can we close this thread up now, I'd really like to get back to disputing GMO claims so I can get my big fat Monsanto check this month.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 7:52 AM on March 7 [9 favorites]


And think of all the MeFites being paid by big vaccine. (I kid, I kid. I'm really pro-vaccine. My kids get their shots.)
posted by Area Man at 7:53 AM on March 7


Oh, and also I just don't think that MeFi is a big enough deal that it would merit a lot of interest from surveillance agencies. Maybe the NSA or FBI or someone would keep general tabs on what people are saying here as a way of helping inform their agency of what the mainstream-leftist intellectual elite (sorry, but to a large degree that's how I see this place) thinks about the way the world is going, but let's not kid ourselves that we're a significant cultural force that would seem credibly dangerous to any establishment powers.
posted by Scientist at 7:53 AM on March 7 [6 favorites]


I dunno, maybe a good idea to let NiceKitty absorb the on-topic responses and convey their response?

Because I am actually genuinely curious as to what they thought was going to come of this.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:54 AM on March 7 [3 favorites]


that make me wonder if that person might have a file with their name on it in an office somewhere

Undoubtedly, there's a file with my name on it in an office somewhere. Maybe a couple of files. Maybe even a couple of offices.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:54 AM on March 7 [2 favorites]


I'm actually kind of tickled that the Secret Service has a file with my name on it. (Nothing nefarious; former President visited my stepdad's work a million years ago, they dropped by to interview us for an hour or so beforehand).
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:56 AM on March 7 [1 favorite]


It doesn't count if it's your own office.
posted by Scientist at 7:56 AM on March 7 [1 favorite]


So mods gonna moderate and I know you all like to keep this place tidy but FWIW I think you would have been better off not deleting these comments which speak for themselves.
posted by GuyZero at 8:01 AM on March 7 [1 favorite]


Could this thread be closed up, please?

I'd rather leave it be for the moment at least, in case NiceKitty specifically wants to come back and clarify. People can always proactively take the step of not overflowing the thread with jokes in the mean time, that'd be my main advice.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:02 AM on March 7 [5 favorites]


I want to discuss the fact that these threads are echo chambers of western perspective

Well, that's undeniably true. I hold no brief for Putin, but I don't for fascist nationalists being portrayed as freedom fighters either. History tells us that American media propaganda is far more effective than individual paid shilling, however. If people earnestly believe the bullshit version of the situation en masse, there's no need to infiltrate anywhere or shill anything on a granular basis.

Not that I think MeFi would ever be worth the effort from the NSA/CIA (or the FSB), and to judge from the thread, most MeFites who bothered to comment seem quite content with the CNN/John McCain version of this episode and don't need convincing that the Russians hate us because Freedom.
posted by spitbull at 8:02 AM on March 7


I wouldn't discount the possibility of Mefite shills. For instance, I've noticed an unusually large number of seemingly unrelated Mefites casually urging people to vote #1 quidnunc kid.
posted by gilrain at 8:04 AM on March 7 [56 favorites]


Could this thread be closed up, please?

I'd rather leave it be for the moment at least


Honestly, I would too. I should have used the hamburger tag there. Or maybe I really had a more sinister purpose to wanting to shut this thread down, mwahahahaha!!!!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 8:07 AM on March 7


And such small portions!
posted by Meatbomb at 8:08 AM on March 7 [2 favorites]


to judge from the thread, most MeFites who bothered to comment seem quite content with the CNN/John McCain version of this episode and don't need convincing that the Russians hate us because Freedom

Even a cursory reading of either thread disproves this, no matter how many times you feel the need to repeat it. The general consensus seems to be "this is a messed-up situation on all sides," with as much (if not more) cynicism directed at the US hawks as Russian.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:10 AM on March 7 [9 favorites]


I'm thinking that since the mods have explained, in public, the reasons for deleting the posts, that NiceKitty should understand the why's of it, even if he disagrees.

I know that when you're feeling VERY close to your opinion, that when the mods delete the comments, that it's more likely a conspiracy, because, hey, it's certainly not inflammatory or arguementative.

I'm going to go out on a limb and say that as a Ukrainian Jew whose ancestors also fled the tryanny of the Czar and Pogroms and anti-semitism, that you may find the whole "we're not hearing the Russian's side of this" not getting much sympathy from the likes of us.

Honestly, there's not a day that goes by that I don't thank God and Fate that my Great-Grandparents had the amazing good sense to get the fuck out of dodge in 1912.

Because there's nothing on this earth that looks worse than living in a former Soviet Republic.

So adjust your tin-foil, because the opinions expressed do sound a bit paranoid and strange.

You're aware that Putin is Ex-KGB, right?
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:11 AM on March 7 [6 favorites]


they dropped by to interview us for an hour or so beforehand

I spent a few days with a couple of secret service guys prior to a vice presidential visit a couple of years ago. They were cool guys, REDACTEDexcept for a tendency to leave their fast-food wrappersREDACTEDall over the break roomREDACTED.
posted by octobersurprise at 8:14 AM on March 7 [4 favorites]


I sleeped in tent. I heard that at the camp someone went and rattled ware. I thought that climbers returned. But climbers didn't speak among themselves. This was strange. I asked: "Who here? " To me answered: "rrrrrrrrrrrr". I understood that it was the bear. I told it: "leave" But To me answered: "rrrrrrrrrrrr".
The bear ate all porridge which I cooked for climbers. Then bear left. This was the small bear.
Climbers returned at night. I told them abot bear. They told me that they met bear too. They told me that Lena saw an ass of a bear and cried: "What terrible ass! "
posted by Sternmeyer at 8:15 AM on March 7 [4 favorites]


most MeFites who bothered to comment seem quite content with the CNN/John McCain version of this episode

Yeah, I've always pictured the average American MeFite as more of an NPR listener than a 24 hour news channel viewer and NPR has been at least throwing out some interesting coverage of the right wing elements in Kyiv and Russian-Crimean point of view in their coverage of this generally chaotic situation.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 8:18 AM on March 7 [2 favorites]


Scientist: "generally speaking, shilling is not a long-term game."

"Generally speaking" perhaps. But not always. Long term, devoted and invested participation can be very effective. But then you'd basically be indistinguishable from a single user who is passionate about a specific topic.
posted by zarq at 8:22 AM on March 7


That's fascinating. Bears going rrrrrrr. Hmm, bears. Russia. Russians like bears. They also like beads. Germans like beer. We all like bees, except for those who are allergic. Personally, I like beards.

On topic though, what can appear to be so very obvious is not always the case. Passionate objection to intolerable things can come across as unhinged when the majority doesn't see that things have become intolerable. Passion can be offputting, unfortunately, and if you can't back up your passion with sources that are dispassionate and factual then you most likely aren't going to get much of a sensible hearing.
posted by h00py at 8:23 AM on March 7 [1 favorite]


Distrust for the US-led media narrative is healthy. However, combining that with excessive credulity for the Russia-led media narrative is super duper silly. It's like telling people that you have finally realized that Coca-Cola commercials have all been paid for by a big corporation, which is why you only drink Pepsi nowadays.

With regard to shilling, it's hard to see why a so-called shill should be dealt with any differently than somebody who has a sincere belief in the party line. If somebody is telling you that what's happening in Ukraine is a clear struggle with good on one side and evil on the other, then it's easy enough to refute that with actual facts and other points of view. As far as you're concerned, why should you care if this person is saying this because they believe it, because they're paid to, or some combination of the two?

This is all setting aside the IMHO comical arrogance of assuming that MeFi would be much of a target for such activity. The few people I know who work in such fields have, uh, a bit more fine-grained and hands-on approach.

OR MAYBE I'M A SHILL WHO'S LEADING YOU OFF THE TRAIL. I GUESS YOU'LL NEVER KNOW. NOT UNLESS YOU KISS ME
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:24 AM on March 7 [21 favorites]


Honestly, there's not a day that goes by that I don't thank God and Fate that my Great-Grandparents had the amazing good sense to get the fuck out of dodge in 1912.

I would think when speaking of Soviet satellites the more appropriate phrase would be "get the fuck out of Döge."
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 8:24 AM on March 7 [3 favorites]


quidnunc kid is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful mod candidate I've never met in my entire life.

Vote #1 people.

Vote #1.
posted by zarq at 8:25 AM on March 7 [9 favorites]


Döge? Much wow. So Hungary.
posted by octobersurprise at 8:26 AM on March 7 [29 favorites]


Anyway, to check in and sort of reiterate some stuff as another west-coast mod, who's now awake and on duty:

I hate to be the poster child for tinfoil, but... (dons tinfoil hat): I have recently had several comments deleted from threads relating to the Ukraine crisis.

Getting comments deleted, on a site that has a really openly-discussed policy regarding moderation that includes occasional comment deletion, isn't something that justifies a conspiracy theory, is the problem here. It's a bad syllogism in action, essentially:

1. I made comments related to a subject I have strong feelings about.
2. Those comments were deleted.
3. Ergo, they were deleted to suppress the subject.

The conclusion doesn't follow, and it's going to cause you no end of frustration and confusion if you don't accept that and re-examine your assumptions about why you're having difficulty getting what you want out of Metafilter.

None of the mods are shills or government agents or any other sort of shady two-faced figure, I can tell you that with profound confidence. Anyone familiar with my wide-open brand of weird poor-impulse-control idiocy on the internet can attest that I'd be a really poor candidate for secrecy, and I've worked with all of these people closely for years. It's not really necessary to defend them on this point, but, sheesh, here we are.

I think it's deeply unlikely that any users on Metafilter are government shills, but it's possible someone is and they're just pretty shitty at their job. If they are, we'll never know. Either way, it wouldn't matter, much as it doesn't really matter if someone's secretly a spammer-in-waiting but never spams, because what we have to work with and what we need to actually take action on are actual behavior here.

And what that practically comes down to is this: anyone actively agitating a campaign of propaganda or push-polling or whatever the hell else at a level of visibility sufficient to have any kind of influence would get all kinds of attention from other people on the site, because it'd be conspicuous and weird and folks around here, god bless 'em, have a sort of collective allergy as a site to people being weirdly conspicuous about something. It'd generate flags, emails, metatalks, probably a rare banning if our notional shill kept actually doing their job after being warned about their weird behavior.

There comes a point where you have to dilute the efficacy and potency of a notional agent so far to avoid identifiability and keep a "maybe they're a plant!" theory plausible that that notional agent no longer performs any meaningful function as an agent. It's a theory of homeopathic cointelpro; at that point, there's nothing left but paranoia, because even if the nutty theory turned out to be strictly correct it'd be a theory that someone is secretly accomplishing nothing whatsoever.

So: your comments were deleted because you are doing a bad job of interacting with Metafilter, full stop. It's not the subject of your comments, which is fine; it's the mismatch between what you think is appropriate general behavior here and the reality of the community's expectations. You need to, at a personal level, take some responsibility for the fact that you're one of thousands of people on the site and chill out, basically, and stop being so repetitive and accusatory and monomaniacal in your commenting behavior. Do that and we're all good.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:27 AM on March 7 [42 favorites]


I can think of at least one who has a public track record of working against that sort of thing

That's just the kind of thin cover an agent would use!

Folks who are inclined to believe in a cabal are going to take making light of it in a poor way. Folks who are not already possessed of a belief in the cabal don't think the joke is funny.

I do not have a belief in the cabal and I think it's pretty funny. It's one of many jokes we have around here and those are generally a good thing, we're serious enough most of the time. Your position seems to boil down to "I don't find cabal jokes funny," and that's fine, but I don't plan to stop making or enjoying them. I can't even agree with "distasteful in this situation," because almost any time we're talking about misuse of intelligence and invasion of privacy we're in something like "this situation." I can't conceive of a situation in which some people believe in a cabal, and others don't, that wouldn't be "this situation."

Undoubtedly, there's a file with my name on it in an office somewhere.

It's not unlikely, it takes very little to get your name in a file, if not on a file.

most MeFites who bothered to comment seem quite content with the CNN/John McCain version of this episode and don't need convincing that the Russians hate us because Freedom

To be honest, I am not tracking it all that closely, so I haven't picked my stance yet. Sorry. Like others, I am kind of at the level zombieflanders described as "this is a messed-up situation on all sides."
posted by Miko at 8:27 AM on March 7 [2 favorites]


The top 50 list for most Metatalk comments last year. Which of them will make the 2014 list?

1 jessamyn
2 Namlit
3 cortex
4 oneswellfoop
5 zarq
6 twoleftfeet
7 The Whelk
8 It's Raining Florence Henderson
9 Miko
10 Brandon Blatcher
11 sweetkid
12 rtha
13 klangklangston
14 griphus
15 elizardbits
16 arcticseal
17 pb
18 dg
19 cjorgensen
20 shakespeherian
21 EmpressCallipygos
22 h00py
23 Rustic Etruscan
24 donnagirl
25 Ivan Fyodorovich
26 Drinky Die
27 restless_nomad
28 nadawi
29 corb
30 octobersurprise
31 Wordshore
32 Kabanos
33 ook
34 box
35 carsonb
36 double block and bleed
37 Rock Steady
38 Sys Rq
39 boo_radley
40 GenjiandProust
41 taz
42 maryr
43 LobsterMitten
44 Charlemagne In Sweatpants
45 Bunny Ultramod
46 Artw
47 Potomac Avenue
48 running order squabble fest
49 zombieflanders
50 MCMikeNamara
posted by 99percentfake at 8:31 AM on March 7 [2 favorites]


And your point is?
posted by Miko at 8:32 AM on March 7


Holy shit, I made it onto a list!
posted by h00py at 8:32 AM on March 7 [12 favorites]


See! I knew I was on someone's list.
posted by octobersurprise at 8:33 AM on March 7


Döge? Much wow. So Hungary.

Confession: I thought it was in Poland until I Googled it and was clearly off by quite a bit!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 8:33 AM on March 7 [1 favorite]


Holy shit, I made it onto a list!

Welcome comrade.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:34 AM on March 7 [12 favorites]


I always feel like such a chatterbox until someone breaks out a list and it's revealed that I actually blather much less than I imagine.
posted by winna at 8:35 AM on March 7 [4 favorites]


I'm currently at or around the top of the 2014 list. (I checked yesterday thanks to another meta thread.)

The position does not, sadly, come with tights and a cape.
posted by zarq at 8:35 AM on March 7


I'd like to thank the alphabet thread and an utter refusal to go to bed at a reasonable hour for making this possible.
posted by h00py at 8:36 AM on March 7 [7 favorites]


Anyone familiar with my wide-open brand of weird poor-impulse-control idiocy on the internet can attest that I'd be a really poor candidate for secrecy.

I know for a fact this is not true IRL. It is however entirely irrelevant to this discussion that this is the case.

More importantly Homeopathic Cointelpro may be the best band name I have EVER heard.
posted by digitalprimate at 8:36 AM on March 7 [14 favorites]


More importantly Homeopathic Cointelpro may be the best band name I have EVER heard.

Good god, yes.
posted by scody at 8:39 AM on March 7 [1 favorite]


Hi, your favorite loon is back. I'll read through this thread, as I have a lot of catching up to do, but I most emphatically do not want to make this all about me. If I have to impose a 5 posts and out limit, so be it. Haven't heard from mathowie via e-mail; hopefully he is posting in-thread. This is not a joke, and I really appreciate if we can keep the mocking or jokey derails to a minimum.

I am stating right now, directly, that I have no specific evidence of NSA/CIA infiltration, either in mods or as users. And even if I did, it's illegal to out a covert CIA secret op. Somebody correct me if I'm wrong, if there is some new whistleblower statute that covers this. If somebody happens to out themselves, hey that's on them.

And I'm not going to link directly to the leaked document that reveals that the NSA/CIA is, in fact, using secret ops to shape the narrative on online forums. That might be a crime too. It might have been linked in a recent Meta post, I cannot recall.

So to clarify the most "out there" part of my post, I strongly suspect there are one or more govt shills acting as users on Metafilter. I would expect this to be the case on reddit, on fark, on any large online forum. I certainly do NOT think "the mods are shills", as somebody suggested upthread, but I'd be surprised if there wasn't one agent on the payroll. I seriously doubt Metafilter mods are screened thoroughly enough to prevent this. Indeed, probably no thought was given to screening for govt ops because HEY CRAZYPANTS.

Governments use PsyOps to censor media online. This first caught my eye when a Facebook (and RL) friend in Venezuela was posting from the ongoing revolution, complaining about govt censorship:
- Venezuelans Blocked on Twitter as Opposition Protests Mount
Then Vice ran this story a few days ago:
- IS FACEBOOK CENSORING THE SYRIAN OPPOSITION?
Put these two together with the Snowden doc which shall not be linked, happen to browse around fark and metafilter and notice them to be VERY pro-west, noticed some fishy behavior here and it clicked: That's almost certainly going on here.

What to do about it? I don't know. It's a crime to out a specific person, so even if we find specific evidence, you have to keep your mouth shut. Neat little trap there. All I can say is everybody try like hell to question the US/western govt/business-friendly narrative, whether it really holds water, and never, ever forget the snow job they put on us for the Iraq War.

More diversity is always good. I really encourage international posters to speak up more -- not just Russian members, but members from everywhere. Don't worry if your English is not perfect. Google Translate may be very helpful for you. Without your input, and perspective from non-western countries, Metafilter becomes an echo-chamber where we never think to question the stories we are told. Thanks!
posted by NiceKitty at 8:39 AM on March 7


The top 50 list for most Metatalk comments last year. Which of them will make the 2014 list?

Any chance you could delete that comment, and repost it but restricting it to the top 30, not 50, Agent 99percentfake? I'm trying to maintain my own cover here. kthnxbai x
posted by Wordshore at 8:40 AM on March 7


The position does not, sadly, come with tights and a cape.

You've really got to update your address information there, zarq.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 8:40 AM on March 7 [1 favorite]


Put these two together with the Snowden doc which shall not be linked, happen to browse around fark and metafilter and notice them to be VERY pro-west, noticed some fishy behavior here and it clicked: That's almost certainly going on here.

You know, Occam may be bad at shaving every chin, but this one I think is pretty simple:

MetaFilter seems to be very pro-west because, shock horror, most of us are Westerners. The idea that some spooks are infiltrating MetaFilter, of all places, is outlandish and bizarre.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:45 AM on March 7 [10 favorites]


I am only at #12. I better get busy.

I am stating right now, directly, that I have no specific evidence of NSA/CIA infiltration, either in mods or as users. And even if I did, it's illegal to out a covert CIA secret op. Somebody correct me if I'm wrong, if there is some new whistleblower statute that covers this. If somebody happens to out themselves, hey that's on them.

Gimme a fucking break. "I'm not *saying* there's anything going on, but if there were, I wouldn't want to break the law by saying there's something going on!"
posted by rtha at 8:45 AM on March 7 [5 favorites]


Bummer. I was hoping for a flameout.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 8:47 AM on March 7


Haven't heard from mathowie via e-mail; hopefully he is posting in-thread.

Oh good grief. Maybe he's doing things like, y'know, sleeping, eating, actual work, out for a bike ride, life, breathing and stuff that people do? Rather than being poised like a cobra to instantly respond to every email and comment coming his way.

There's at least nine other points in your comment which may well get ripped apart by others on here and ... I'm done and out. Maybe Jessamyn's "three comments and leave" strategy is a pretty good one after all, am thinking.
posted by Wordshore at 8:47 AM on March 7 [1 favorite]


Indeed, probably no thought was given to screening for govt ops because HEY CRAZYPANTS.

Yes. Yes. Exactly. Now please apply that reasoning to what you are saying.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:49 AM on March 7


NiceKitty, it is incredibly likely that there is no government agency watching you. It's possible, anything's possible, but it's not very likely if you're basing possible targeting by intelligence agents being due to your comments on Metafilter.

Which side is right, though? Which side is wrong? The Ukrainian situation is this question writ large.

Say your piece, live your life, be true to yourself and if you do get targeted make sure it's for something substantial and backed up by fact, then you've got a chance.

It's a pretty short life, actually, even if you don't give up halfway through. Is it worth wasting it on this shit?
posted by h00py at 8:52 AM on March 7


Once again I ask:

taz: Can you please post the complete text of all my deleted comments so that nothing will be taken out of context? Thank you!

The reason being is that the way you've presented your deleted comments, it looks like I have accused specific members of being shills, which I have not. You also said I was flooding the forum, which I was not. And your edits are weird. I don't understand what's with the selective editing.

Please post the complete, un-edited text of all my deleted comments. Please post them here, in the MeTa thread. I don't need them undeleted in the main threads. This is simply a request for transparency. Thank you!

Or Jessamyn? Anyone? Little help?
posted by NiceKitty at 8:52 AM on March 7


Isn't posting deleted comments outside of the discussion taking them out of context? I mean, isn't that the definition of out of context?
posted by troika at 8:54 AM on March 7 [15 favorites]


More diversity is always good. I really encourage international posters to speak up more -- not just Russian members, but members from everywhere. Don't worry if your English is not perfect. Google Translate may be very helpful for you. Without your input, and perspective from non-western countries, Metafilter becomes an echo-chamber where we never think to question the stories we are told. Thanks!

I'm not quite sure if this is endearingly innocently patronising or merely extremely patronising. It is however possible that non-Western people in MeTa have heard of Translate and may indeed already feel free to comment.
posted by jaduncan at 8:55 AM on March 7 [9 favorites]


Let me clarify: I don't think, necessarily, that *I* am being watched. But I feel like if I say the wrong thing, I could be watched. I believe the forums are being watched. Again, recent leaks appear to confirm this.

Look, if you'd told me 5 years ago that the NSA was vacuuming up everybody's metadata, I'd have laughed in your face. With spittle. How ridiculous, right? And, yet: Confirmed.

The cracks are showing.

Damn don't tell me I need to take Alex Jones seriously haha
posted by NiceKitty at 8:56 AM on March 7


it's illegal to out a covert CIA secret op

It's true, but casting accusations is not the same as providing evidence.

using secret ops to shape the narrative on online forums

Have you read MetaFilter? There is always ALWAYS a dissenting opinion with linked articles in every thread. If psyops are suppressing MetaFilter discussions they are doing a terribly shitty job of it.

I strongly suspect there are one or more govt shills acting as users on Metafilter.

What do you define as a "shill"? Someone who is actually paid to post tailored commentary? Someone who regurgitates the party line for free? Someone who works for a government agency that is also a MeFite? I can assure you that the second two are definitely here in droves, but the first one would, as I said, be doing an exceptionally craptastic job on this site, and well, if they are here and doing a shit job of it, who cares really? The discussions go on and we still get dissenting opinions stated in every thread. In fact, now that I write this, it makes me just wish they were more open about it so that we could at least openly debate their talking points like we debate everything else. All viewpoints are desired as far as I'm concerned.

Anyway, do you have, say, any links to word-for-word commentary on parallel sites that might lead one to believe there are talking points being floated to steer discussion?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 8:56 AM on March 7 [1 favorite]


The reason being is that the way you've presented your deleted comments, it looks like I have accused specific members of being shills, which I have not.

I certainly do NOT think "the mods are shills", as somebody suggested upthread, but I'd be surprised if there wasn't one agent on the payroll.

These two statements appear to be at least a bit contradictory. You don't think the mods are shills, but you do think that some Metafilter staff member is probably a government agent. You're not accusing any specific person, it's true, but you've created a pretty darn short list.
posted by Going To Maine at 8:57 AM on March 7 [4 favorites]


I'm thinking maybe you need to collect your thoughts a bit. Twice now you've claimed your Snowden link is illegal and being censored, even though your comment that includes it still stands. You also keep on insisting you don't think mods are shills yet seem to say it seems pretty likely. Which is it?
posted by zombieflanders at 8:57 AM on March 7 [1 favorite]


NiceKitty: please also let me advise you that if you don't want to draw attention to your anti-NSA views your operational security appears kind of shit.

Damn don't tell me I need to take Alex Jones seriously haha

I doubt anyone will tell you that.
posted by jaduncan at 8:59 AM on March 7 [10 favorites]


Look, if you'd told me 5 years ago that the NSA was vacuuming up everybody's metadata, I'd have laughed in your face. With spittle. How ridiculous, right? And, yet: Confirmed.

If you didn't know that then you had been ignoring openly passed legislature. Further, if you didn't think that your personal data was being stored on the internet by everything you touch then you were deluding yourself. If Verizon has your metadata for profit making purposes, which they do, why wouldn't the NSA have access to it?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 8:59 AM on March 7 [2 favorites]


This is suddenly becoming heartbreaking to watch.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:00 AM on March 7 [45 favorites]


jaduncan: Not trying to be patronizing, sorry if it sounded that way. Many of the people I meet every day speak little to no English, and they're embarrassed to use broken English.

I at least somewhat understand: I'm the same way with my terrible Russian. I say "спасибо" ("thank you") a lot because that's one of the few words I know.

No need to go negative on me.
posted by NiceKitty at 9:00 AM on March 7


NiceKitty, you are mistaken about the laws regarding the identities of covert agents. You are probably thinking of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act. It is a crime for people with authorized access to confidential information to reveal covert agents, or for those "in the course of a pattern of activities intended to identify and expose covert agents and with reason to believe that such activities would impair or impede the foreign intelligence activities of the United States". The two (2) times that this crime has been prosecuted, it was against people who had actually worked for the CIA. The government could not give less of a crap if you personally think that a MeFi mod is a shill.

Likewise, it is only (very technically) a problem to read leaked documents if you already have a Federal security clearance. Assuming that you do not have such clearance, you sure as balls aren't going in the slammer for linking to the PPT that Snowden had leaked.

...

But I feel like if I say the wrong thing, I could be watched.

There is an English-language tourism video from the 80s for Yugoslavia. Early in the video, there's a part where they reassure the (presumably American) viewer that Yugoslavia is no Soviet satellite state, but rather a vibrant example of Communism Lite.

"Yes, you are likely to be watched...but not for the reason you think!"

Cue SEXY YUGOSLAV BABES checking out the narrator's (presumably heavenly) behind.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:01 AM on March 7 [9 favorites]


That might be a crime too.

It's not a good idea to click on (or by extension post) a link to Snowden/Wikileaks etc if you're a US government employee. If you are, this gets even weirder.

However, you're in the tricky position of demanding that MetaFilter prove a negative. Can MetaFilter prove that there are no CIA agents amongst its membership? No. Can MetaFilter prove that none of its moderators are CIA agents? Again, no. Since the only proof that could be offered is Mathowie saying "well, I certainly don't know of any CIA agents in my team", and a) why would you believe they would tell him and b) why would you believe him, it is impossible, I would say, to offer you a level of evidence that you would find satisfactory.

The chances of you ending up in Guantanamo Bay for posting on an Internet forum - or more precisely an Internet forum set up and run by white Americans - is tiny. If you are also a white American, that becomes _tinier_. Not to say governments do not do arbitrary and stupid things, but statistically your chances of being the subject of such an arbitrary and stupid thing are very small.

Also very small is the likelihood that people will read your deleted comments and agree with you that they were totally reasonable. I can say with absolute confidence right now that this is not going to happen.

People are basically going to hammer on you now for the life of this thread, because kicking people who are having some issues is a thing that it is fun to do on the Internet. This is unfortunate - and honestly it would be better if the thread just filled up with Soviet-era humor - but try not to take it personally. If you are genuinely afraid that your comments on MetaFilter might put you on a watch list, stop broadcasting that you think it's been infiltrated by the CIA.
posted by running order squabble fest at 9:01 AM on March 7 [8 favorites]


I strongly suspect there are one or more govt shills acting as users on Metafilter.

Not govt shills. Something else maybe, but not govt shills. Scott Adams, holdkriss99, Holden Karnofsky, they were acting as users, just not for the government.
posted by Melismata at 9:02 AM on March 7 [1 favorite]


what do you expect to get out of this MeTa?

Is this now a required inclusion in MeTa?
posted by Hoopo at 9:03 AM on March 7 [8 favorites]


I certainly do NOT think "the mods are shills", as somebody suggested upthread, but I'd be surprised if there wasn't one agent on the payroll.

You're either contradicting yourself or pretty badly misunderstanding the actual staffing around here. The mods are the only folks on the payroll other than pb, our coder. None of us was screened in some discrete sense for government ops because that is, in fact, pretty crazypants as a notional part of the process of hiring a mod here. It makes zero sense. "Yeah but the NSA are invasive creepers", while totally true, is not a compelling counterargument here.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:03 AM on March 7 [12 favorites]


NiceKitty: "So to clarify the most "out there" part of my post, I strongly suspect there are one or more govt shills acting as users on Metafilter."

Plus you can't post evidence that the government does, because it's illegal. Maybe. You think.

So you're basically putting forth a vague, unsourced accusation that you think people who are commenting are paid to do so, with no actual evidence to back up that it is happening here on Metafilter. A negative proof fallacy.

Chalk me up for another vote to close the thread.
posted by zarq at 9:04 AM on March 7 [2 favorites]


People can always proactively take the step of not overflowing the thread with jokes in the mean time, that'd be my main advice.

Not only do you have "vote #1" and all kinds of jokey bullshit going on, you also have a large crowd of people trying to engage this person all at once. Heck, a couple people are even multiple-replying to the OP's comments before an answer comes back.

I don't think this thread should be closed. If the OP wants to air this out publicly, so be it. But y'all could tamp this down tighter. A couple of mod comments asking people to slow this thread down could potentially mean the difference between easing out of this gently versus turning things worse. "This is how MeTa works" doesn't always have to be the case. Just my two cents.
posted by cribcage at 9:05 AM on March 7 [5 favorites]


Is this now a required inclusion in MeTa?

Not much point in posting a MeTa without some idea of what you want to see happen as a result of the ensuing discussion, I think.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:05 AM on March 7 [1 favorite]


I feel like if I say the wrong thing, I could be watched. I believe the forums are being watched. Again, recent leaks appear to confirm this.

And...so what? Watching stuff - or way more likely, running aggregated bot-searches on stuff - and declaring it actionable are different things. Our potatoes are pretty damn small. It's not likely that we're at all interesting, here. It's not likely that anything even remotely important to national security is going down here.

if you'd told me 5 years ago that the NSA was vacuuming up everybody's metadata, I'd have laughed in your face. With spittle. How ridiculous, right? And, yet: Confirmed.

I wouldn't have laughed - I know too much 20th century history, and the facts are available to everyone. Listen, intelligence isn't anything new and tactics aren't even new, they're just online instead of meatspace and mail intercept. I don't say this to be paranoid, I'm not, but to note that just because you just now discovered that intelligence gathering happens doesn't mean that other people aren't already living with that understanding and have made a proportional judgment about how much to worry about it.

I've read that there's sometimes a problem with general paranoia - nobody can actually really prove there's nothing to worry about. A therapist can't prove that your officemates aren't talking about you behind your back. A pharmacist can't prove that your landlady doesn't hate you. A doctor can't prove that there's something really wrong with you that tests don't show. The fact is, the world is full of ugly things and things that could trouble you all the time. What the task for all of us is, as individuals, is to regulate our reaction to the potential risks and worries around us, which may not be entirely fake, but also should not be disrupting our ability to function in daily life.
posted by Miko at 9:10 AM on March 7 [14 favorites]


Not only do you have "vote #1" and all kinds of jokey bullshit going on

I take it you will not be "voting #1" then.
posted by octobersurprise at 9:10 AM on March 7 [5 favorites]


Well, look, we're moving towards a post-privacy culture, where nobody can hide anything from anyone. The transition is going to be weird. Right now we have govt trying to get into all our info, while trying to keep us out of there's. It's going to be a strange next 10 years, and I don't know where this is all going.

I suspect that govts are a bit panicked and are scrambling to deal with this new reality. Think of all the shitty things that have been hidden, then revealed over the years. They're not going to be able to hide facts anymore.

But they can control Perspective. And that is key.

If your best friend walks in greets you with a friendly insult, you're likely to receive it well. If somebody you've never met insults you, you're likely to hate them. In-group. Out-group. Friend or foe. The same exact facts are interpreted differently, depending on whether you like the person or dislike them. Ask an American what they think about the Iraq War. Now ask an Iraqi what they think about the Iraq War. Ask a Russian. Ask a Brazilian.

Read the leaked doc, smoke a bowl (or whatever gets you to your thoughtful place), and think HARD about perspective.
posted by NiceKitty at 9:10 AM on March 7 [3 favorites]


Okay, you guys are going to do what you are going to do, and that's fine, but let me get this straight. Are you modding out comments because they are too eccentric? Or just that they're monopolizing the conversation?
posted by furiousthought at 9:12 AM on March 7 [1 favorite]


I say this as one who has been there: are pain meds possibly fucking your head up, here?
posted by angrycat at 9:13 AM on March 7 [3 favorites]


Can you please post the complete text of all my deleted comments so that nothing will be taken out of context? Thank you!

The reason being is that the way you've presented your deleted comments, it looks like I have accused specific members of being shills, which I have not. You also said I was flooding the forum, which I was not. And your edits are weird. I don't understand what's with the selective editing.


I think you're reading the deletion reasons in a way that very few other people are. From my reading of the deletion reasons, and from your comments in this thread, it's pretty clear that what you are being asked to not do is make accusations along the lines of "Someone at MeFi, either a mod or a user, is a government shill". The fact that you're not coming out with a specific member that you want to accuse is irrelevant.
posted by 23skidoo at 9:16 AM on March 7 [2 favorites]


NiceKitty, you've said you've not read the entire thread. Read this from Mako, and maybe meditate on it a few hours before replying.
posted by Mooski at 9:18 AM on March 7 [1 favorite]


But they can control Perspective. And that is key.

They have always been able to do this. Are you really so unfamiliar with COINTELPRO and similar?
posted by rtha at 9:18 AM on March 7 [2 favorites]


Look, if you'd told me 5 years ago that the NSA was vacuuming up everybody's metadata, I'd have laughed in your face. With spittle. How ridiculous, right? And, yet: Confirmed.

Perhaps you had missed the massive story broken in 2005 by the New York Times regarding the NSA's "Stellar Wind" electronic surveillance initiative. It didn't have the level of detail and scope of the Snowden docs, but we've known the NSA is up to this kind of thing for a while.

The cracks are showing.

They certainly are.

Can this person be banned already? If this is really their line of thinking they can't make any useful contributions here. I've seen users on other forums descend into this "everyone is a paid corporate/government shill OPEN YOUR EYES SHEEPLE!!11" nonsense and it's just poison. If this is really how NiceKitty feels, they don't belong here. Let them take their nonsense elsewhere.
posted by Sangermaine at 9:18 AM on March 7 [1 favorite]


Okay, you guys are going to do what you are going to do, and that's fine, but let me get this straight. Are you modding out comments because they are too eccentric? Or just that they're monopolizing the conversation?

Eccentricity isn't a deletable offense; laying out random implications that fellow users are secretly government agents is, and repeatedly grinding some axe in one or multiple threads is as well, and that's the main issue here in actual practice.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:19 AM on March 7 [3 favorites]


Calm blue ocean, calm blue ocean, calm blue ocean...
posted by Melismata at 9:20 AM on March 7 [7 favorites]


If you are genuinely afraid that your comments on MetaFilter might put you on a watch list, stop broadcasting that you think it's been infiltrated by the CIA.

So this has been my dilemma. I deleted my account a couple weeks ago for just this reason. But is this just rolling over and letting business interests take over our country from the top down? I am trying to straddle a middle ground -- raise awareness without doing anything illegal.

I'll still be nervous on my next trip to the US. Having a Russian gf and international business, getting put on a no-fly list would be devastating to me. And the US govt has proven that they're willing to skirt the legal system for the War on Terror. Just an accusation is all it takes. But should I hide like a coward? Aren't we, as Americans, allowed to criticize our government?

on preview:

angrycat: No, not on any good drugs -- unless ibuprofen has some psychedelic properties of which I'm unaware. Also taking an anti-viral for a cold sore. In my nose. Yeah you wanted to know that...

I'm being accused of monopolizing the conversation now and there's even discussion of bannination. I'll step away. I still request the complete deleted comments be posted in my absence. The deletion reasons are very misleading.
posted by NiceKitty at 9:21 AM on March 7


Miko: " I've read that there's sometimes a problem with general paranoia - nobody can actually really prove there's nothing to worry about. A therapist can't prove that your officemates aren't talking about you behind your back. A pharmacist can't prove that your landlady doesn't hate you. The fact is, the world is full of ugly things and things that could trouble you all the time. What the task for all of us is, as individuals, is to regulate our reaction to the potential risks and worries around us, which may not be entirely fake, but also should not be disrupting our ability to function in daily life."

In cases like that, I think learning (really understanding and taking to heart) that one is not the center of the universe is helpful. Realizing that you're probably just Not That Important is valuable. Because your sphere of influence is small and probably useless to anyone important.

There's a trope that embodies this realization: "But for me it was a Tuesday." "...the critical event that started the hero on their journey was an atrocity by the big bad that they have long since forgotten (possibly due to it being just one of many) and most likely never given a second thought. "
posted by zarq at 9:22 AM on March 7 [5 favorites]


It doesn't count if it's your own office.

Wait, now I can get paid for keeping tabs on myself? Who knew there were all these sweet surveillance state jobs out there?
posted by FelliniBlank at 9:22 AM on March 7 [1 favorite]


This thing is gross.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:22 AM on March 7 [1 favorite]


If this were EVE, this sort of thing would be obligatory:

It's me. I'm the spy. The Mittani sends his regards.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 9:23 AM on March 7 [2 favorites]


Or, you know, Babylon 5.
posted by kalessin at 9:23 AM on March 7


Can this person be banned already?

Well, it's not paranoia if they really are out to get you. . .
posted by Curious Artificer at 9:24 AM on March 7 [3 favorites]


The deletion reasons are very misleading.

Having read your comments before the chaff was cleared away in the various Ukraine-related threads, the deletion notes are accurate and precise.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:24 AM on March 7 [3 favorites]


Yer bubble needs bursting, dude. Yer probably not that important. Not politically, anyway. I'm sure you're very nice in many other ways.
posted by h00py at 9:25 AM on March 7 [6 favorites]


I am trying to straddle a middle ground -- raise awareness without doing anything illegal.

You are acting in these threads (and this one) as if other people here have until now been totally unaware of all this stuff - biased media, deliberate misinformation campaigns by government-controlled or -influenced media (hello, NYT in the run-up to the Iraq war!), sneaky surveillance by government agencies, etc. To which I want to say to you: you have not been paying attention to threads here, at all. We do not actually need your kind of "education", which so far has only taken the form of obnoxious ranting about shit people already know about and baseless accusations of people here.
posted by rtha at 9:26 AM on March 7 [31 favorites]


Fark?
posted by Rock Steady at 9:27 AM on March 7 [1 favorite]


Can this person be banned already?

We don't ban people by popular suggestion. Please do not go there.

I'll still be nervous on my next trip to the US.

NiceKitty, I have no investment in telling you to feel or not feel whatever you feel about the US govt or your relationship with it or any of that stuff, but at this point you've sort of gone from repeated vague unsubstantiated accusations of government infiltration of Metafilter to just sort of repeating Read The Document and talking about your personal life. If you don't have specific addressable site-centric stuff to talk about in here, that's fine and you can leave it be, but this can't turn into just a general "and here are my further thoughts on Russia and the NSA and so forth" thing. This is sort of getting into the same territory as your behavior on the blue that's been an issue in the first place.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:27 AM on March 7 [3 favorites]


So this has been my dilemma. I deleted my account a couple weeks ago for just this reason. But is this just rolling over and letting business interests take over our country from the top down? I am trying to straddle a middle ground -- raise awareness without doing anything illegal.

I'll still be nervous on my next trip to the US. Having a Russian gf and international business, getting put on a no-fly list would be devastating to me. And the US govt has proven that they're willing to skirt the legal system for the War on Terror. Just an accusation is all it takes. But should I hide like a coward? Aren't we, as Americans, allowed to criticize our government?


This is the thing. You are overestimating your own importance in this. I'm going to guess you're quite newly out of the country, and were relatively sheltered. The brutal truth is that unless you have a large amount of net assets (and I do mean large here), are likely to be a terrorist or a major political activists, or do things like carry large amounts of cash through customs then it is unlikely that the state will care about you. You're not, for example, Glenn Greenwald.

The world is fascinating in many ways, but somewhat boring in this way. You aren't important enough for much attention. It's slightly beyond the desire of the USG to provide you with reliable healthcare. Electronic stuff scales, human contact doesn't. Nothing is going to happen to you. Snowden et al are doing a great job of raising awareness.

As you said, perspective.
posted by jaduncan at 9:28 AM on March 7 [12 favorites]


NiceKitty, you are posting on a public forum. What would it mean for you to be "watched" in this context? Hell, we wouldn't have known your previous handle but for the fact that you told us. Why would somebody so vocally concerned about their online privacy bother to do that?

If there really are MeFites who are paid shills, then why on earth do you suppose that they would reveal themselves in-thread? If you're already aware that such creatures wouldn't do such things, then why are you harping on this point? Within the internal logic of what you propose, what do you think would happen? "Oh, I was paid by the government to link to the Guardian, but now that NiceKitty has said that shills might exist, I'm going to stop."

If you think that it might get you sent to Gitmo to post links to leaked documents, then why would you ask others to do it for you? Setting aside your mistaken belief that the US would send you to the gulags for linking to documents that Snowden has already leaked, the internal logic of such a request is that you apparently think it would be okay for other people to get sent to Gitmo in your stead.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:29 AM on March 7 [12 favorites]


I'll still be nervous on my next trip to the US. Having a Russian gf and international business, getting put on a no-fly list would be devastating to me. And the US govt has proven that they're willing to skirt the legal system for the War on Terror. Just an accusation is all it takes. But should I hide like a coward? Aren't we, as Americans, allowed to criticize our government?

This is your problem right here. Please point to anyone who has been disappeared by the US government for making extremely bland, nonthreatening, minor criticisms of the US government.

Please, please seek a professional to speak to about your feelings. They are not healthy and they are obviously causing you distress and affecting your ability to live your life in a happy and pleasurable way.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:29 AM on March 7 [23 favorites]


All else aside, repeatedly asking people to do a certain thing, and upon being asked why you don't just do it yourself responding "It may be a crime" is... not very polite.
posted by Flunkie at 9:30 AM on March 7 [22 favorites]


Aren't we, as Americans, allowed to criticize our government?

Yes, you pretty much are.
posted by jaduncan at 9:31 AM on March 7 [1 favorite]


You really are. In fact, more people should. Same over here, say it loud and say it proud. If you aren't offering up specific threats then political debate is wide open on the Internet, dude. Just don't be a dick, that's the key.
posted by h00py at 9:36 AM on March 7 [1 favorite]


I'm being accused of monopolizing the conversation now and there's even discussion of bannination. I'll step away.

I really hope you take your own advice here. You're making contradictory statements, you're claiming to not want this situation to be all about you while making yourself out to be Public Enemy #1, and you simultaneously claim that we must know The Truth (that is public knowledge) while freaking out that spreading it will get you disappeared. If you actually read and absorb what people are writing, especially the mods, this discussion might make a little more sense.

Also, on preview: Yeah, the whole "posting foo will get me disappeared but someone else should do it" is kind of awful. It reads as either you don't give two shits about what happens to someone else, or you think that the only people that will post it are themselves government plants and that their posting proves it.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:38 AM on March 7 [5 favorites]


I can think of dozens of very intelligent, very outspoken Mefites who are very skeptical of the United States government and its intelligence apparatus who would not hesitate to make the same claims you are and back you up if there were any actual, substantial red flags regarding manipulation of Metafilter by the intelligence community and/or paid policy shills, and I think their silence (and in some cases vocal opposition to your argument) is telling.
posted by jason_steakums at 9:39 AM on March 7 [16 favorites]


Now, that's the comment I was waiting for. Take 'im away, boys.
posted by Johann Georg Faust at 9:44 AM on March 7 [1 favorite]


Fark?

Clearly the perspective THEY want us to have is that we'd hit it.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 9:44 AM on March 7 [2 favorites]


Hell, we wouldn't have known your previous handle but for the fact that you told us.

Yeah. And I remembered your previous incarnation as being pretty different from your current one, and I went back a little bit ago and skimmed that account, and I remembered correctly. You were pretty different as LordSludge.
posted by rtha at 9:45 AM on March 7 [4 favorites]


Big time.
posted by h00py at 9:46 AM on March 7



Calm blue ocean, calm blue ocean, calm blue ocean...


the surface of the ocean is the definition of deception

posted by philip-random at 9:46 AM on March 7


You were pretty different as LordSludge.

Recently left the country and read a lot of Belorussian media, you say?
posted by jaduncan at 9:47 AM on March 7


I make a thousand dollars a month from home as a paid shill! Click here to find out how!

I clicked here and nothing happened. Has that link been hijacked or banned? Perhaps I could possibly subscribe to your newsletter?

I'll still be nervous on my next trip to the US.

You and me both. It's a country with a royally fucked up social/economic structure that isn't getting any better and it features Tea Party devotees. Still, I've come and gone unharmed every time. I've got friends on the east coast of Canada who are nervous when they come to my city, Toronto, because it's apparently fucked up and dangerous. Nervousness is something we all have, though what we're nervous about varies.

It's generally ok to be nervous and to be streetwise. Being nervous about covert government intelligence agents is a real concern for some, but not for many (I have some Muslim friends who refuse to go to the States, and given their treatment even in Canada having come back from Iran, I understand completely, but that's nervousness about profiling, incompetence, and discrimination, all fairly common things). There are a ton of people nervous about, say, Google for example. They feel the "know" all about them, whatever that means, and apparently lots of others feel likewise because evidence or something but regardless, people, I don't believe, have any issues with people being nervous about things.

But MetaFilter isn't a country and there is no evidence that it shills favourable government viewpoints. Certainly opinions contrary to your own are not evidence of this, and you should be pleased that groundless accusations are dismissed for what they are rather than shilled as the truth.

I can think of dozens of very intelligent, very outspoken Mefites who are very skeptical of the United States government and its intelligence apparatus who would not hesitate to make the same claims you are and back you up if there were any actual, substantial red flags regarding manipulation of Metafilter by the intelligence community and/or paid policy shills, and I think their silence (and in some cases vocal opposition to your argument) is telling.

Exactly.

Beyond that though, it comes down to broadly insulting other members, which only very few members are allowed to do here.
posted by juiceCake at 9:52 AM on March 7 [2 favorites]



Do not proffer sympathy to the mentally ill; it is a bottomless pit. Tell them firmly, "I am not paid to listen to this drivel -- you are a terminal fool!"


-- William S Burrough
posted by Golden Eternity at 9:54 AM on March 7 [4 favorites]


Aren't we, as Americans, allowed to criticize our government?

Yes, you pretty much are.

Oh yeah? Then how about...

(turns around dramatically, revealing spiked hair, baggy JNCOs, pince-nez sunglasses, and a soul patch)

...now?

(cue "Rollin'" by Limp Bizkit)

(montage of hacking, skateboarding, energy drinks, smashing aquaria with bats, hip-hop rappity-dancing in front of a brick wall, and conservative old fuddy-duddies who can't handle the rock-rap)

(freeze-frame, fade to B&W)

(supertitle: "STICHERBEAST: 1982-2014")

(supertitle: "HE DIED AS HE LIVED")

(a coffin in baggy JNCOs and a giant pair of pince-nez sunglasses is lowered into a grave filled with soul patches and rock-rap, as cheering Nookettes shower it in fizzy forties)
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:54 AM on March 7 [9 favorites]


Look, I enjoy a good roasting of ridiculous opinions as much as anyone - and I really do, I'm not being sarcastic when I say that - and I really hate to be a wet blanket here, but a lot of the jokes at this dude's expense are maybe leaving a tiny bit of a bad taste in my mouth here?

I want to be clear that I'm not trying to diagnose anyone over the internet, and ultimately I really have no idea what the guy's deal is. And that I don't think that a simple distrust of the government constitutes a clinical condition. That said: A lot of what NiceKitty has said in this thread has sounded to me like something at least the general size and shape of an unhealthy approach to the situation. I didn't think much of it but then someone pointed out that he refuses to post a link lest he be punished by the government for doing so, but also urges the mods to post that link, all the while asserting that he believes that at least one mod is a government agent. Something about that just seems...off to me, in a way that's not just the usual kind of off.

Again, not diagnosing anything here because what the fuck do I know and maybe I'm reading him wrong, and it is absolutely not my place to try to dictate anyone's behavior, but I think it would be really cool if we could maybe lay off the mockery and prodding and such, because I feel like there's a nonzero chance that we're baiting a mentally ill person here, and I don't feel great about that.

To be clear, I'm not saying don't engage with him or anything like that - this is a discussion, we're having a discussion, it's good - just maybe that we could avoid, like I say above, the mockery and prodding that don't really add anything.

No one's required to agree with me or anything and I don't think less of anyone who's doing it because yeah it's a big tempting target and I get that. I just wanted to put that out there 'cause it was bothering me. I'll be back to my usual zany hijinks and merry antics after this. That's all. Thanks for reading.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 10:00 AM on March 7 [57 favorites]


Metafilter: *dons tinfoil hat*

Who is this don person? And where can I get one of his tinfoil hats?
posted by Michele in California at 10:00 AM on March 7 [4 favorites]


Read the leaked doc, smoke a bowl (or whatever gets you to your thoughtful place), and think HARD about perspective.

There's a time and a place for everything, but maybe laying off the ole buds would be worth trying in a situation like this where you seem to be experiencing a distressing amount of anxiety.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 10:02 AM on March 7 [11 favorites]


I can't believe I read this whole thread. I can't believe it's still going, actually.
posted by The Michael The at 10:02 AM on March 7 [2 favorites]


Expose government plants on Internet forums with this ONE WEIRD TRICK

Paid shills hate him!
posted by Sangermaine at 10:04 AM on March 7 [5 favorites]


Seconding the recommendation to lay off the weed, if weed is involved. There is a huge difference between a critical view of the US and what appears to be an actual factual case of paranoid thinking.
posted by Sticherbeast at 10:06 AM on March 7 [1 favorite]


Just popped in to say that I'm off home - have a nice weekend everyone!
posted by the quidnunc kid at 10:07 AM on March 7 [4 favorites]


Governments use PsyOps to censor media online.

You say yourself that you wouldn't have believed that the NSA was hoovering data 5 years ago. What have you done in 5 years to educate yourself on risk analysis, tradecraft, and targeted operations?

If you've only read journalism, you don't have the knowledge to make a judgment on this or its impact and you would do well to educate yourself prior to jumping onto the conspiracy theory train.
posted by bfranklin at 10:11 AM on March 7


By the way, in the released Snowden documents (discussed on Mefi here) even Greenwald makes it clear there is no evidence that the proposed misinformation techniques have ever been employed or at what scale or on what targets they should be employed (other than on Hacktivists in general). They may be using those techniques, they may not. They may have in the past but stopped. They may start. Nobody knows.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:11 AM on March 7 [2 favorites]


Off home? Is that like being off drugs?
posted by Melismata at 10:12 AM on March 7


Who is this don person? And where can I get one of his tinfoil hats?

He works for the government. Don't call him—he knows who you are and how to contact you.
posted by The Michael The at 10:12 AM on March 7 [1 favorite]


Well, maybe I offered a gentle 'hey there, it may not be as bad as you think' poke but I'm pretty sure I didn't mock the OP. That dude up there who wrote the thing about the bear deserved more mocking, in my opinion.

I don't think it's a bad thing to point out that unless the person in question is actually employed or engaged in actual subversive activity then critical comments on any website aren't really all that fucking important.

That's not insensitive, surely?
posted by h00py at 10:16 AM on March 7


You were pretty different as LordSludge.

If you think this takes some getting used to, just wait until he turns into Colin Baker.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 10:22 AM on March 7 [5 favorites]


I remember when I started dating my first girlfriend. Everything about her was something I NOW CARED ABOUT. Because of LOVE. Everything took on a more IMPORTANT feeling. I mean, this person I love cares about atheism. I should care about that too, right? In fact, I should be a douchebag to believers. I should distrust them and see their innocent caring actions as hostile.

Oh, sorry, this doesn't apply here. My girlfriend was English, not Russian.
posted by inturnaround at 10:24 AM on March 7 [7 favorites]


I honestly wasn't addressing any one particular person. Since you asked: arguing with the guy does not, by itself, constitute mockery, in my opinion. Arguing with him isn't really what I was talking about. For a broad take on it, it's the difference between "Well, I don't really agree, and here's why and maybe my tone is a bit incredulous because come on, dude," versus "LOL I'm the NSA haha just joking OR AM I," sort of thing. To be clear, those are made-up examples of tone, and neither are intended to be representations of anything said by particular people in this thread, so if anyone reading this is worried I'm talking about them, I'm not.

I'd really rather not get into vetting which specific extant comments are fine and which comments aren't, and to be honest, I don't really think it's worth getting into comments which were already made and are already there, either.

What I'm saying is that from here on out, it'd be cool to bear in mind that we may (or we may not, and I happily concede that) be talking to a guy who is dealing with whatever degree of mental illness, and to take that into account when talking to him. That's really all. No worries.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 10:32 AM on March 7 [2 favorites]


Holy shit, I made it onto a list!

42!
posted by maryr at 10:38 AM on March 7 [2 favorites]


I have very little doubt there are people from intelligence agencies who read though internet forums, some random story awhile back mentioned they are kind of active in MMO games, hell there is likely a site ranking list of which parts of the internet they think needs closer watch.

And I, as someone who cares pretty deeply about privacy, have very little problems with governments reading public accessible online information.
The directing conversations in internet forums would be much too much, but unless you have pretty solid proof that such a thing is happening, calm the fuck down. Sans proof it is really an assholish thing to accuse people of. Just because people disagree with you does not make them deep cover spooks. Making over the top accusations and being overly defensive really undermines any pertinent points you may have, and no, that isn't a Russia vs the World observation.

I've a deep and long distrust of mass media infotainment but ffs from all the retaliative independent sources I have read Russia's media corruption/state takeover leaves us in the dust.

Hi, I'm edgeways, and I work for the alphabet conglomeration
posted by edgeways at 10:39 AM on March 7


Is Metafilter compromised?

I'd just like to get back to the original premise here for a sec. First, MetaFilter is a publicly viewable website. Anything and everything posted here is on display. Profiles, posts, everything is on display. There has never been, nor should their be any reasonable expectation of privacy. Second, MetaFilter may have a community feel and plenty of community input into making the site better, however it is NOT officially community moderated. Moderators are a select few, a cabal if you want to use the jokey term. They make decisions based on their opinions of a given situation/post/whatever. There has never been, nor should there be any expectation that anything the community puts on the site will not be taken down.

So, has MetaFilter been compromised? The answer is no. MetaFilter is exactly as it has been for as long as Matt has had it up and if anyone has other expectations of the site that cause them concern then I suggest they disable their account and move on.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 10:54 AM on March 7 [7 favorites]


NiceKitty, you seem really scared. And that hurts my heart. I don't say that in a patronising way, but just from one human to another, I feel for you and the overwhelming level of anxiety and fear you are living with right now.

When I first saw the title and content of this post, I thought you were stunting*. But...no. It's clear that you weren't. And I know that you feel very clear in why you feel the way you do and what you're hoping to achieve here, so the way this has gone must be supremely frustrating.

It's just that, seriously, what you're worried is happening is crashingly unlikely and would be hugely unproductive for the involved agents.

You said:
"I certainly do NOT think "the mods are shills", as somebody suggested upthread, but I'd be surprised if there wasn't one agent on the payroll. I seriously doubt Metafilter mods are screened thoroughly enough to prevent this. Indeed, probably no thought was given to screening for govt ops because HEY CRAZYPANTS."

Someone else probably made this point, but, actually, we have so few mods and they have such long experience and involvement on the site and their participation is so easily tracked (even the behind-the-scenes stuff is often called out and questioned enough that we've an unusual amount of transparency in their doings), it is irrational to claim that it would be even incrementally possible for one of our mods to be an "agent on the payroll".

I'll give you this: the odds are not bad that we have been visited/adopted by someone interested in monitoring levels of support for various concerns. But the odds are not good that there is someone here trying to deliver a government-sculpted message, with a huge part of that credit going to the undercurrent of cynicism and content-analysis that a certain subset of our membership has repeatedly been shown to be incredibly adept at, and another portion to our pattern-seeking, wide-view mods.

"Irrational" - I used it earlier and not lightly. I'm in no way qualified to question your health, mental or otherwise, but even just mathematically, your assertions are ephemeral and lacking in sensibility. When one adds in that you're taking state-mouthpiece information in Russia at face value...I just think you might need to sit back and maybe look at other topics and sources for a while to get out of the thick of this subject matter, no matter how pressing and urgent it may feel (or even actually be).

Dissenting views are one thing. We have several people here who have shown themselves capable of delivering these within the bounds of the site's guidelines and conversational mores, to the degree that what qualify as "dissenting views" have shifted some in the many years I've read and participated here. Freaking out - even if you feel you are doing it calmly - is another thing entirely. Maybe take some time to read more closely and find those voices to see who is doing it well and find that sweet spot of information, logic, and social grace they have shown to be possible. Perhaps you could strike a similar balance.


* of course, I also thought kalessin's cabal comment was a joke in reference to someone else's statement where "cabal" replaced a serious word like "operatives" or something and surprised to discover otherwise, so I've got issues with humour detection, obviously.
posted by batmonkey at 10:56 AM on March 7 [6 favorites]


what do you expect to get out of this MeTa?

I was hoping for one of those little books of lick & press tattoos
but I wound up with an oddly-shaped lump of yellow plastic.

I think it's supposed to be a top.
posted by Pudhoho at 10:59 AM on March 7 [1 favorite]


I'll give you this: the odds are not bad that we have been visited/adopted by someone interested in monitoring levels of support for various concerns.

Oh, no, I can guarantee this. Not to toot the sites horn too much, but MeFi is surely a favorite website for people looking for deeper information/analysis on breaking news stories in all sectors, certainly not excluding government, particularly people leaning left of center, which I might remind everyone is the purported bent of the current administration.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 11:05 AM on March 7


Not much point in posting a MeTa without some idea of what you want to see happen as a result of the ensuing discussion, I think.

I don't think it's all that hard to see what he's trying to get out of this. He wants to be heard and thinks his comments are being deleted by a different standard than he has understood it to be, and also feels his comments were being mischaracterized by the mods. I don't think that's a particularly unusual use of MeTa, even if it usually doesn't end well for OP 99% of the time.
posted by Hoopo at 11:05 AM on March 7 [7 favorites]


And it was in one of the mod comments to take it to meta if there was a followup needed so here we are.
posted by Big_B at 11:12 AM on March 7


This is nuts. I don't think we should enable paranoia.
posted by Justinian at 11:16 AM on March 7 [5 favorites]


According to the entrails of this goat I just slaughtered, at least one MeFite has, in fact, infiltrated the NSA. There is only the Cabal.
posted by Wizened Little Prophet Kid at 11:16 AM on March 7


That goat is a LYING BASTARD.
posted by Etrigan at 11:19 AM on March 7


Don't hide the truth from us, do the entrails float or sink?
posted by rhizome at 11:22 AM on March 7


Guys, seriously.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:22 AM on March 7 [9 favorites]


At this point, what is gained by leaving this open?
posted by drezdn at 11:24 AM on March 7


Probably not a whole lot, I don't think, but I wanted to give the thread a chance to breathe a little. If nobody has anything substantial they still need to talk about right now, I'm thinking I'll close this up in a bit.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:26 AM on March 7


Having just read this thread, I don't think it's helping NK or anyone else keeping it open.
posted by arcticseal at 11:34 AM on March 7 [2 favorites]


Having just read this thread, I don't think it's helping NK or anyone else keeping it open.

When I first read NK I thought North Korea, and I though, "oh lord this conspiracy theorizin' has got to stop!" Doh!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 11:41 AM on March 7 [4 favorites]


another vote for closing it down
posted by spitbull at 12:04 PM on March 7


Given that I would like to get in on the reading of the goat entrails, yeah, this should probably be closed. No good will come of this, methinks.
posted by Michele in California at 12:07 PM on March 7


Hang on, typing a comment! ...
posted by salvia at 12:07 PM on March 7 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I vote for closing it up. I'm more concerned and worried about the OP's mental state and despite my love of japery, this is starting to feel unseemly.
posted by Kitteh at 12:15 PM on March 7 [2 favorites]


I think leaving it open might be better if the conversation can stay respectful. I just skimmed a few websites about people handle distress based on paranoid thoughts, and one suggestion is to try to rationally examine the thoughts that are causing distress. I'm not sure which hypothesis to do that for, but for example:
Hypothesis: Paid NSA/CIA shills are shaping debate on MetaFilter. Supporting arguments: the leaked document says they were planning to infiltrate online forums; MF has a "western perspective; "NiceKitty's comments were deleted... Arguments against: the leaked document doesn't say it has happened yet; anyone can comment on MetaFilter; he mods state that the comments were deleted because they contained accusations; MetaFilter has had several threads about NSA/CIA monitoring; a breadth of opinions are expressed on MetaFilter without being deleted ...
That might be worth doing? I don't know. The thing about what NiceKitty says is that there may well be some truth to some of it. It reminds me of my enviro-apocalypse phase. Yeah, the environment really IS kind of messed up. It MAY WELL impact people's quality of life now and into the future. The question is: why was that issue so intensely upsetting to me before such that it was a huge feature of my entire life? Now it is something I am aware of, but less immediately upsetting and threatening. It's hard to say what changed, but I certainly feel better and am even better able to productively support environmental causes now that I have it in a calmer perspective.

NiceKitty, it's clear how upset you are, and that yeah, given various examples we can all point to (e.g., journalists being detained at airports), it's not that there are NO facts behind your concerns. But it is clearly intensely distressing to you and making you want to post things that you acknowledge sound kind of ... out there. I wonder if it might be worth trying to think about ways you can take care of yourself and your health or otherwise find a way to feel less upset -- not so that you can forget these concerns and enter into some denial, but so that you can consider them with a perspective that will feel better and even allow you to better address the issues you care about?

tl;dr This is a long comment brainstorming different ways to respectfully engage with the distress NiceKitty is experiencing.
posted by salvia at 12:19 PM on March 7 [8 favorites]


And I really apologize if that comment comes across as patronizing or know-it-all ish. I don't feel that way, but the comment kind of sounds that way, and I'm out of time to edit.
posted by salvia at 12:21 PM on March 7


NiceKitty, I am sorry that you have had some experiences lately that have led you to become increasingly paranoid about your safety and the safety of other people. I think you need to talk to someone off the internet about these concerns so that you can go on with your life without needing to obsess over whether or not an errant comment on an Internet forum like this one is going to land you in a Snowden-esque situation. It doesn't sound like you'll believe us when we say that you are safe on Metafilter, and it also doesn't sound like you're comprehending the requests we're making of you so that you can continue to participate in discussions throughout the site. I would like to invite you to take a break from this site for a few months and make an appointment with your doctor to let them know how much stress these concerns are causing you and see if they can help you manage that stress in a productive way. Would you please do that for yourself and for your girlfriend? You don't have to live in fear or anxiety. None of us do. I understand that you must be very frustrated if you've reached the levels of intensity that you've been posting with here. I wish you peace as you seek middle ground.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 12:23 PM on March 7 [2 favorites]


That might be worth doing? I don't know.

I think the issue is it's not a question of whether it's worth doing at all—e.g. of whether it'd be helpful to NiceKitty to at some point, somewhere, do an exercise like that to examine his concerns/anxiety/whatever about the US Govt., etc.—but whether it's really something that makes sense as an exercise in a Metatalk thread.

The answer to the latter is pretty definitely no, not least because this isn't an environment purpose-built to be accommodating to and supportive of that kind of processing exercise. It'd be a good thing to talk to a professional about, not such a good thing to hope for the best for in an open discussion thread in Metatalk.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:24 PM on March 7 [5 favorites]


Not so much government agents, sure. But isn't MetaFilter pretty much constantly manning the barricades against paid shills in other respects? The folks at Wikipedia just went through an (apparently failed) conversation about banning paid editing. It doesn't seem beyond the realm of possibility that out of thousands of MetaFilter accounts there might be a few that aren't on the up and up. It's not a huge problem but it's not crazy. And once you make the connection that folks can set up an account with less than pure motives it's a pretty small step to imagine motivations beyond the commercial.

I'm not agreeing with the OP here but when the moderators are weeding out spammers by the bucketful they're pushing back against the potential for bad faith, which apparently exists in an endless supply. To the extent that they're less than perfect at this defense the predisposition to assume good faith would actually work in favor of paid shills if they were subtle about it. Luckily, most spammers aren't that clever.
posted by Jeff Howard at 12:28 PM on March 7


Whatever the OP needs, it likely won't be found here. I say close it up.
posted by Area Man at 12:33 PM on March 7


I remember Foucault having some interesting thoughts about the political construction of mental illness...

Take heart, NiceKitty - I believe Metafilter does not warrant great efforts by the CIA and NSA! I think it only attracts the attention of the partisan sideshow, and that is the source of the compromise (which will tend towards some defense of the NSA). There are certainly unpaid D shills and I would expect a few low level compensated or connected D shills, as well as an R false flag or two.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 12:37 PM on March 7


Metafilter: *dons tinfoil hat*

Tin Foil Hats Actually Make it Easier for the Government to Track Your Thoughts
posted by homunculus at 12:39 PM on March 7 [3 favorites]


I sympathize with the OP. I have been run off of or banned from or simply left because it wasn't productive several lists where I was vilified and yadda yadda, essentially for failing to conform to their Group Think. I am also a bicultural American whose mother is an immigrant and father and ex husband were both career military. I am cognizant of concerns about how the government may go after a person. But: I kind of agree with cortex.

I am not capable of "being normal" but the way Metafilter is run has helped me figure out how to be less of a "sore thumb sticking out." (I deleted some of the details. I am not interested in making this about me.) I don't think focusing on the OP like this will help the OP fit in, get over it, whatever.

Yes, MetaFilter has a western slant. So? If you learn Russian, I imagine you would find Russian discussion boards have their own slant. Every single group has a group think. You cannot escape that. Railing against it is not the way to open eyes to additional views and information.

I honestly see no good coming of this. One way for MetaFilter to safeguard freedom of speech, etc, is to safeguard their own ability to keep doing business (and it is a business). Asking the mods to stand up to the NSA over presumed paid shills who may or may not be here is asking them to risk getting shut down. Having left so many lists, let me assure you that shutting metafilter down is not the way to increase the ability to discuss this stuff. I think I made the best choices I could under the circumstances, but I have been left with essentially no place to talk about some things. I would rather not promote that trend.
posted by Michele in California at 12:40 PM on March 7


Did you guys know NiceKitty has a girlfriend?
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 12:41 PM on March 7 [3 favorites]


Asking the mods to stand up to the NSA over presumed paid shills who may or may not be here is asking them to risk getting shut down.

What does this even mean? How would this even happen? Would Matt send a letter to the NSA or his Congressional rep to ask that any shills or actual operatives leave the site alone? Him doing something like that would not get the site shut down. I mean what.
posted by rtha at 12:48 PM on March 7 [6 favorites]


If we haven't reached the point of absurdity yet—the CIA is far too busy spying on Senate aides to bother with random MeFites' discussions of foreign affairs—how about a genuine KGB joke told by a former KGB agent?
"So an American spy comes to Lubyanka," Putin told a government meeting in remarks broadcast on Russian television late Thursday, referring to the headquarters of the Soviet-era KGB.
"I am a spy and I want to turn myself in," Putin continued with a small smirk on his face.
"Are you armed?" the US spy is asked, to which he responds yes.
"Then you have to go to room number seven," a Russian official tells him, according to Putin.
There the US spy is asked if he is carrying communication equipment -- another affirmative answer sends the US agent to yet another official's office.
In the end, the exasperated spy is asked by yet another official if he has an actual assignment to work on.
"Yes," says the spy.
"Then go carry it out and stop bothering people at work," he is told.
One must keep one's sense of humor, lest one get lost in a "wilderness of mirrors", to quote James "Monster Plot" Angleton quoting T. S. Eliot.
posted by Doktor Zed at 12:51 PM on March 7 [8 favorites]


He said he's going to Minsk, the first man thinks. That means he's going to Smolensk. But this train doesn't go to Smolensk. This is the Minsk train.

Why would he lie?


So I think this is part of the honest problem. When you're used to a government that forces justifiable paranoia, sometimes that paranoia stays with you a long, long time. It's part of the trauma of your daily living existence.

It doesn't mean Metafilter is full of paid shills.

The reason why moderators most likely deleted your comments is because accusing people of being informants when they are not informants in order to sow dissension and marginalize people is known as badjacketing, and it is functionally indistinguishable from honest paranoia.
posted by corb at 12:52 PM on March 7 [5 favorites]


which will tend towards some defense of the NSA

I defy you to find more than a dozen individual commenters here who have defended the NSA. Alphabet soup agencies come under regular, withering, and judgemental fire here.

There are certainly unpaid D shills and I would expect a few low level compensated or connected D shills, as well as an R false flag or two.

But no actual R shills, naturally?

Come the hell on. I'm sure there are people here who feel a strong party loyalty to whatever politics, and their politics will infuse what they say and how they say it. There are people here who spout party lines to the comma. Sure.

But the idea that any political machine is trying to shape and direct discussion on something as heterogenous and just plain weird as Metafilter?

No. Just no.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:54 PM on March 7


Don't feed the Infowars crew, fffm.
posted by zombieflanders at 12:55 PM on March 7 [3 favorites]


What does this even mean? How would this even happen? Would Matt send a letter to the NSA or his Congressional rep to ask that any shills or actual operatives leave the site alone? Him doing something like that would not get the site shut down. I mean what.

That's the thing. NK's posts don't fit with their underlying assertions. Instead, they feature the classic crypto-solipsism and epistemic closure of paranoid thinking. If it really was the case that the internet was currently awash in shills, then there would be no point in making requests like that. It doesn't even make sense to up and accuse somebody of being a shill, because it doesn't make a practical difference whether somebody is being willfully or purposefully obtuse.
posted by Sticherbeast at 12:56 PM on March 7 [2 favorites]


I don't think NiceKitty is mentally ill at all. Misguided sure, but not crazy or even paranoid. It's not a huge stretch to take what has been going on in the news regarding the NSA, differing opinions/versions of the Ukraine story, and popular culture and meld them into a scary world, especially if you are still young and consider your significance to the world to be far greater than it realistically is (and that's not a condemnation of NiceKitty at all either).
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 1:00 PM on March 7 [3 favorites]


What does this even mean?

Let me put that another way: I have relatives who escaped East Germany using faked documents, etc. If you take the OP completely seriously and take the suggested scenario completely seriously, this still accomplishes nothing. If the government genuinely is as corrupt...etc...as the OP is suggesting, this MeTa does nothing to help that.
posted by Michele in California at 1:01 PM on March 7 [3 favorites]


> By the way, in the released Snowden documents (discussed on Mefi here)

And here: Psychology: A New Kind of SIGDEV
posted by homunculus at 1:06 PM on March 7


The folks at Wikipedia just went through an (apparently failed) conversation about banning paid editing.

On a related topic, they banned IP addresses from Scientology's HQ from editing, due to the rampant editing wars they would cause.
posted by Sticherbeast at 1:09 PM on March 7


Yeah but to be fair Sticherbeast, the Scientology thing happened years ago when it was actually possible to effect any change whatsoever on the site. Wikipedia's in its death throes.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:10 PM on March 7


I got about a 1/5 of the way through this and thought "so this is a dogpile". It was the first word my brain conjured up.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 1:13 PM on March 7


But no actual R shills, naturally?

Casual observation will reveal there is little straightforward R shilling on this site, or it is being deleted before I see it.

There are people here who spout party lines to the comma. Sure.

But the idea that any political machine is trying to shape and direct discussion


You contradict yourself!
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 1:14 PM on March 7


Not in the slightest. Me quoting a movie doesn't mean I work for the studio.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:19 PM on March 7


If you started trying to sell all your friends and acquaintances tickets, though...
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 1:21 PM on March 7


Is Metafilter compromised?

I am a paid shill for Betteridge.
posted by chavenet at 1:21 PM on March 7 [5 favorites]


If you started trying to sell all your friends and acquaintances tickets, though ...

You mean if he was part of the machine then he'd be part of the machine? Can't argue with a tautology like that, I guess.
posted by octobersurprise at 1:24 PM on March 7


If you started trying to sell all your friends and acquaintances tickets, though...

Given that's not happening, what is your point? If you have any actual proof, show your work. Smearing the entire userbase via innuendo is just atrocious.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:25 PM on March 7


There are people here who spout party lines to the comma. Sure.

But the idea that any political machine is trying to shape and direct discussion


You contradict yourself!


That's not a contradiction at all. Shills are, definitionally, disingenuous. Merely espousing a party line does not make somebody a shill.

If you started trying to sell all your friends and acquaintances tickets, though...

Nope. A shill in this example would have to be somebody who is not actually a fan of the movie, but who is actually a literal employee of the studio, and who is actively concealing their true identity, who is promoting the movie for reasons other than their personal belief that it is good.
posted by Sticherbeast at 1:26 PM on March 7


I'm working on the evidence (though not yet hard proof - remaining legal and ethical so I ain't just gonna start hacking) actually, but it takes a while.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 1:27 PM on March 7


for real?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 1:29 PM on March 7 [2 favorites]


save alive, it's not clear to me whether you're saying you're working on evidence of something specifically happening on metafilter or just something happening at all somewhere. If it's the former, you can drop us a line at the contact form if you've got a specific concern; if it's the latter, that's just wandering farther into generally-chattin'-about-stuff territory that's already been sort of a recurring issue in here.

I don't really see this going anywhere good and it's been sitting here for a while, so I'm gonna go ahead and close this up now as forecasted. NiceKitty, if you have further questions or concerns, please write to us at the contact form and we can talk this out more with you.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:30 PM on March 7 [4 favorites]


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