Deleting comments March 15, 2014 9:02 PM   Subscribe

I'm mostly unaware of the intricacies of the Metafilter community, but I have just had another comment deleted. It wasn't an inflammatory comment, there was no snarkiness or attacking anyone. I was expressing an opinion that female bullying has increased and we need to take this into account when raising girls, and I commented on the direction of feminism too. I'm surprised that it was deleted.

To clarify, I have always considered myself feminist, I am female, and I have become disappointed with the direction that popular feminism has taken in English speaking countries. There is absolutely room for debate there. And leaving a comment on the subject shouldn't necessarily be taken as trolling. A look at my previous posts would show that I'm not really the trolling type.

Moderated communities can be great in the way that they prevent trolling and foster considered discussion. But I really feel that Metafilter can be a little too keen to remove comments. Perhaps discussions could be a little more spirited sometimes.

Or perhaps this isn't the right community for me!
posted by inkypinky to Etiquette/Policy at 9:02 PM (1761 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

Taz deleted your comment with quite a detailed note explaining why it was a problem and how you could restate it. I would also add that whenever you say something like "I know this is an unpopular opinion", there's a good chance you're not actually participating in the discussion that exists but rather trying to yank it sideways into a new channel, which isn't always (or even usually) constructive.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 9:10 PM on March 15, 2014 [14 favorites]


I think that the note that was left is pretty excellent, and i was hoping the text of the comment was going to be posted if there wasn't a note like that.

Look, i get that it can feel like a personal attack when you put effort into writing a decent-feeling comment and it gets shot down... but something can be a subjectively decent comment, but also a threadshit in the context of where it's being posted.

Deletions here more commonly seem to be about a comment being out of place or chomping at the bit to take the discussion to an entirely different place or wider scope, not it just outright crappy attack or asshole stuff.

Generally though, i think what was said there about "if you're going to make claims, show your work" could stand to be applied even more widely to threads where people are aching to fight a bit.
posted by emptythought at 9:19 PM on March 15, 2014 [5 favorites]


You know, I was just about to say that for the first time I disagreed with a deletion, because SHIT yeah girls being bullies doesn't get enough attention.

But then I thought some - and realized that, you know, the problem of "people don't take girl bullying as seriously as they should maybe" is actually a totally different issue after all. So - inky, if it helps you understand what happened, what you said was true, but in the wrong place. It's like, you walked into a room full of dog owner talking about dog toys and said, "hey, have you guys tried catnip mice? Cats dig that." Them saying "that doesn't help us" isn't because catnip is controversial, it's because talking about catnip doesn't make sense if you're talking about dogs.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:28 PM on March 15, 2014 [6 favorites]


I really feel that Metafilter can be a little too keen to remove comments.

This simply isn't the case. Of all the sites I've encountered on the interwebs, this community is (perhaps) the most liberal in terms of the kind of comments that will be allowed to stand. It takes a lot to have a comment removed, and the mods here bend over backwards to avoid this happening. Without seeing the comment in question, it's difficult to asses how accurate your representation of the circumstances really are. That said, Taz's explanation seems to be pretty straightforward. Did you try the contact form to the team, or send her a Memail directly? Because I can guaranfrikkentee you that the Mods here will knock themselves out to help members navigate the ever-shifting hoals that might lead to grief.

It's absolutely true that some users here can sometimes be over-the-top with their pet hobby-horses, and yes, feminism can one of those categories. I stopped answering questions in Ask because of this, but in no way was this attributable to the moderation here. Can you provide us with some examples of other communities that you believe are more open to discussion than this one is?
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 9:41 PM on March 15, 2014 [2 favorites]


inkypinky, your description of your comment does not suggest trolling or throwing gasoline on a fire, as per taz. I'm puzzled by the tone of accusation in the moderator's explanation...
posted by nacho fries at 9:42 PM on March 15, 2014 [2 favorites]


What was the deleted comment?
posted by likeatoaster at 9:54 PM on March 15, 2014


whenever you say something like "I know this is an unpopular opinion", there's a good chance you're not actually participating in the discussion that exists but rather trying to yank it sideways into a new channel

I disagree. An opinion can most certainly be unpopular while remaining on topic. And in this case, if the thread about "bossy" isn't about feminism, I don't know what it's about. Perhaps the mod thought my post was along the lines of one of those tedious 'what about misandry' trolls. I didn't think it was that big a deal or that contrary.
posted by inkypinky at 10:00 PM on March 15, 2014 [4 favorites]


Perhaps the mod thought my post was along the lines of one of those tedious 'what about misandry' trolls.

Umm ...that's not what she said. Taz is many things, but obscure definitely isn't one of them. Once again, did you follow up with her about this?
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 10:12 PM on March 15, 2014


And in this case, if the thread about "bossy" isn't about feminism, I don't know what it's about.

Every thread about feminism sub-topics does not necessarily encompass other sub-topics. Without knowing what you posted, it sounds like it was going to be both unpopular and off-topic. And I think the latter was the problem, from the deletion reason.
posted by RainyJay at 10:17 PM on March 15, 2014


Here's the comment:
In my opinion, bullying by females in the workplace has become a serious problem. The word 'bossy' can certainly be appropriate as some women display power in ways which are somewhat more overbearing and unfair than most men. True story. One of feminism's next tasks should be about encouraging girls and women to be of good character, as opposed to just raising the bar of entitlement and encouraging women to feel they are beyond reproach. I didn't think that was what feminism was meant to be about, but it's been looking that way lately. There are many, many women in positions of leadership who apparently feel their position gives them carte blanche to be very unkind. I realise this will be an unpopular post, and I could put it more eloquently, but there you are.
This seems less about the topic of empowering or dis-empowering girls, and whether using certain descriptors (including "bossy") helps, hinders, or is neutral, and more something like "well, I've had experience with some specific women who were unpleasant in what I consider a 'bossy' way, and would rather talk about that," plus the problems with feminism, and throwing in that feminism should encourage girls/women to be of "good character," is sort of a flamewar waiting to happen all by itself, for about a dozen reasons, but definitely a derail from the original topic.

I'm not sure that turning that thread into a conversation about bullying this way is a great idea, in sort of the same way that, say, a thread about economic inequality isn't a wonderful spot to complain about some people you've encountered who get welfare but spend money in a way that you disapprove of, so they need to be more responsible for themselves, and the welfare system needs to be changed. Does that make sense as an analogy?
posted by taz (staff) at 10:25 PM on March 15, 2014 [24 favorites]


Had the comment been flagged?
posted by cribcage at 10:44 PM on March 15, 2014


Colour me surprised. While I disagree with the thesis as presented, I feel that the comment is completely germane, and am now unsure as to why it was removed.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 10:48 PM on March 15, 2014 [44 favorites]


I don't see why the comment was removed except for the part where the mod didn't like where the conversation might have gone.

Wait...what?
posted by hal_c_on at 10:53 PM on March 15, 2014 [21 favorites]


This is a weird deletion reason: "If you believe bullying by women has become a serious problem, you need to show evidence of some sort..." Since when has the standard for a single comment on Mefi been that you have to "show evidence"? I would agree the comment isn't very specific. But people make generalized comments all the time. Why isn't this a perfectly legitimate comment that could have led to further discussion (still relevant to the thread), perhaps with others chiming in with more specific experiences? Or, if others disagree, that's fine too. But it seems pretty clear the comment wasn't deleted for being irrelevant — it was relevant. It was apparently deleted for being a controversial point about gender. I don't think gender threads need to be cleansed of all opinions that anyone might find disconcerting.
posted by John Cohen at 11:00 PM on March 15, 2014 [55 favorites]


I don't particularly agree with the comment, but it seems on topic, not digressive and politely stated. Even as a preemptive strike I think the trigger finger was a little itchy in this case.
posted by Rumple at 11:01 PM on March 15, 2014 [10 favorites]


But that whole thread was about a feminist campaign by LeanIn urging girls to ban the word bossy, so it does seem the comment was on target to me? You can label the subject matter as just the empowerment of girls and women if you want to, of course, but there was already a debate going on in the thread about the motives, the methods and the messages behind this campaign.

A lot of comments in the thread deal with how the LeanIn message is problematic for some feminists and maybe the focus should be on encouraging girls to be confident and self-assured leaders, if they decide to lead, rather than focusing on the semantics. On top of that, there was a good discussion going on about our perspectives of bossiness and leadership, and whether they are basically two words for the same thing, or we see them as separate entities.

So while the comment here is a little heavy-handed, for sure (sorry, OP), and I think others might have different experiences with women bosses and counter the notion that they tend to be "more overbearing" and "unfair", there is room for that debate, I think, on whether this is the route feminism should be taking. That comment is not any less valid an observation than anyone else's in that thread, at least. I don't see other comments being deleted for being anecdata.

Was it flagged a lot as a derail or something?
posted by misha at 11:15 PM on March 15, 2014 [4 favorites]


Bad deletion. Shameful behavior by mods.
posted by dfriedman at 11:28 PM on March 15, 2014 [17 favorites]


I think this is one of those odd points that can read very differently depending on the phrasing.

This comment's phrasing, in that thread, came across as "well, women at my office are bossy, where's your feminism now?" -- it feels like it's skipping over all the points everyone in the thread has been discussing about examining our expectations of girls, in favor of a fight about some specific situation in the commenter's life plus a weird fighty thing about how women and girls should improve their character. Behind those things, there may be a discussable and relevant point about how sometimes "bossy" is apt, but this comment was obscuring it by bringing several other fights to the table along with it.

As is often the case, if your first shot at making your point ends up being deleted, you're welcome to take another try at stating it in a way that's clearer/with fewer obscuring elements. Especially if you're feeling like it's not as eloquent as you'd like, we're always happy to talk with people via the contact form about rephrasing a comment.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 11:31 PM on March 15, 2014 [31 favorites]


Also, I'm not sure if this makes a difference in how the comment reads, but the original version had spacing that wasn't reproduced in taz's copied version above. It was this -
In my opinion, bullying by females in the workplace has become a serious problem. The word 'bossy' can certainly be appropriate as some women display power in ways which are somewhat more overbearing and unfair than most men. True story.

One of feminism's next tasks should be about encouraging girls and women to be of good character, as opposed to just raising the bar of entitlement and encouraging women to feel they are beyond reproach. I didn't think that was what feminism was meant to be about, but it's been looking that way lately.

There are many, many women in positions of leadership who apparently feel their position gives them carte blanche to be very unkind.

I realise this will be an unpopular post, and I could put it more eloquently, but there you are.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 11:37 PM on March 15, 2014 [1 favorite]


Yeah, spacing isn't the issue. It was a bad deletion. Taz messed this one up. I say we skin and eat her. Call me crazy.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 11:42 PM on March 15, 2014 [10 favorites]


Just to point out one norm of MeFi culture, as I perceive it. Most Internet forums seem to treat deleting comments/posts as "you've transgressed the rules, now you will be punished". Round here it's more of a case of "as written, that's going to be a serious harm to the conversation. Why don't you try again?".
posted by benito.strauss at 11:43 PM on March 15, 2014 [50 favorites]


Expounding on the deletion reason is sort of circling around the point that comments aren't usually deleted for that reason.

And again, since it seems like weight is being given to how this comment "reads" or "came across": was it flagged? It seems a fair question. Flagging is often cited by mods in explaining both deletions and non-deletions.
posted by cribcage at 11:45 PM on March 15, 2014 [3 favorites]


It's a nasty piece of work and I would have flagged it. Based on how it was described by the poster, it doesn't sound like that was the intention, but it sure reads like something different.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:51 PM on March 15, 2014 [21 favorites]


Just chiming in to say that this is a bad deletion, despite the fact that I strongly disagree with the comment. I mean, the poster even went out of their way to qualify the comment with "in my opinion".
posted by lalex at 11:53 PM on March 15, 2014 [7 favorites]


Yes, it was flagged, and when I looked at it, it seemed derailing in a flame-y way, like "women really are bossy, and feminism should teach good character instead of entitlement" when the subject was whether certain words are used to discourage girls from taking leadership stances.

But I don't mind saying that maybe I was wrong, and overly pessimistic about it becoming an angry derail. I usually have the opposite problem (it seems, in retro-analysis), and am overly optimistic about things that end up turning into nasty fights, so I could also be correcting too much.
posted by taz (staff) at 11:53 PM on March 15, 2014 [29 favorites]


Oh, and sorry about the spacing; I didn't notice that I copied from a spot that deletes the paragraph returns.
posted by taz (staff) at 11:54 PM on March 15, 2014


I also disagree with the comment and was pretty irked by it, but thought it was fine, should have stood, and doesn't strike me as trolly at all.
posted by cairdeas at 11:56 PM on March 15, 2014 [2 favorites]


Also trolling isn't just saying something unpopular or something that will get some people mad. It's saying something disingenuously because you just want to get people riled up and start a fight. Huge difference.
posted by cairdeas at 11:58 PM on March 15, 2014 [13 favorites]


I'm not sure that turning that thread into a conversation about bullying this way is a great idea, in sort of the same way that, say, a thread about economic inequality isn't a wonderful spot to complain about some people you've encountered who get welfare but spend money in a way that you disapprove of, so they need to be more responsible for themselves, and the welfare system needs to be changed. Does that make sense as an analogy?

This does not seem like a good analogy to me.

Furthermore, I don't love the trend of corralling posts into whatever discussion you want to see happen. I think the discussion should just happen, you know?
posted by lalex at 12:04 AM on March 16, 2014 [19 favorites]


when I looked at it, it seemed derailing in a flame-y way

This is why I asked about flagging. Because the comment doesn't look that way to me, but (1) I can see how it could, and (2) I didn't arrive at it via the flag queue, which is a perspective that would seem to substantiate that reading.

Perhaps discussions could be a little more spirited sometimes.

My own two cents is that we could do with less spirit sometimes; and specifically, threads concerning gender have a history of becoming spirited in a way that's more about heat than light. This deletion may have gone a touch far, but I can understand the impulse to overprune when a thread has been going unusually well and a late flag(s?) pops up. Maybe the deletion reason could have been a touch softer and/or explicitly invited a differently phrased repost.
posted by cribcage at 12:16 AM on March 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


I don't love the trend of corralling posts into whatever discussion you want to see happen.

I completely agree. I also don't understand the insistence that this isn't done. How many dozens of times do people need to point it out before we can acknowledge it?
posted by cairdeas at 12:16 AM on March 16, 2014 [13 favorites]


>I also disagree with the comment and was pretty irked by it, but thought it was fine, should have stood, and doesn't strike me as trolly at all.

Agreedzed.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 12:18 AM on March 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


I think the OP should be able to re-post the comment, but just add a sentence/clause or two about how the statements about feminism's next tasks and "many, many women in leadership positions" relate back to her point about "bossy". I think it just needs to be a little more clear why she felt those things needed to be said as a part of her thesis about modern feminism, instead of just being fighty-sounding blanket statements added on to the bit about women leaders being bossy bullies.

Because Metafilter should have the opportunity to completely knock that comment out of the water.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 12:24 AM on March 16, 2014 [11 favorites]


I think the OP should be able to re-post the comment, but just add a sentence/clause or two about how the statements about feminism's next tasks and "many, many women in leadership positions" relate back to her point about "bossy".

You can not possibly be serious. Do you think this a standard that other comments on MetaFilter are held up to?
posted by lalex at 12:36 AM on March 16, 2014 [4 favorites]


I think the OP should be able to re-post the comment,

Wait. This is a thing? Since when?
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 12:50 AM on March 16, 2014


I think they just mean post the same comment or an altered version of the same comment, as opposed to an undelete, if that's what you're wondering about? And, sure, if people do not think this is a flamey derail thing, the OP can repost.
posted by taz (staff) at 12:58 AM on March 16, 2014


Well ... cripes. Does this mean that the BBQ is postponed?
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 1:06 AM on March 16, 2014


Yeah, gotta say that while I may not agree with the comment, it didn't seem to be made in bad faith, nor inflammatory. Poor deletion.
posted by dazed_one at 1:27 AM on March 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


Speaking from my own experience, MetaFilter is not as lenient with contrarians as it used to be. The type of comment you made doesn't lend itself to debate. It represents a rhetorical dead-end that is likely to derail the conversation because it will inevitably capture the attention of, and get destroyed by, users on the basis of being either too anecdotal or far too sweeping. I think this is the problem that moderators are anticipating.

Are we mature enough to tackle such disagreements respectfully and expound on our thoughts with further comments, especially when defending unpopular views? I would argue that there's a really short leash.

Having said that, thanks for the comment, and posting about it here.
posted by phaedon at 1:31 AM on March 16, 2014 [8 favorites]


I would like to know the genders of all involved. Then I can begin to deconstruct this.
posted by telstar at 1:37 AM on March 16, 2014 [6 favorites]


The crux of the issue in the comment may stem from the implication that women need to work on being of good character when they have power, whereas men already have that covered. This is where my issue with the comment comes from, but I don't think it should be deleted just because it's wrong.
posted by dazed_one at 1:50 AM on March 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


It did [well does, now that I've seen it] not seem like a flamey derail thing to me. The comment in question seemed honest and in good faith with perhaps some unfortunate phrasing.

I think that people in that thread are talking past each other about two different things though: "bossy" kids and women in positions of authority.
posted by vapidave at 1:58 AM on March 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


Well ... cripes. Does this mean that the BBQ is postponed?

This is the BBQ. Would you like a corn dog?
posted by Pudhoho at 2:02 AM on March 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


Thanks for the replies, people. I am quite possibly not as well versed in the art of polite discourse as some on Metafilter, and the tone of my comment may have been slightly inflammatory (e.g. "many, many women"). But I'm encouraged by those who said that although they didn't agree with my comment they didn't think it was worth deleting. I was surprised I was asked to provide evidence to back up my point when I have never seen that happen before.

Sure we've all seen those online discussions which spiral out of control quickly, so I totally understand Metafilter's wanting to keep on top of things. Discussions about gender issues can be especially unproductive.
posted by inkypinky at 2:10 AM on March 16, 2014 [11 favorites]


Huh. This is one of the very few times in many years I've seen someone complaining about their comment being deleted not get keel hauled.

I don't think it should have been deleted but then I think hardly anything should ever be deleted, even calling people assholes and so on, so my opinion probably doesn't count much on this issue.
posted by Justinian at 2:25 AM on March 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


Show of hands - how many just bit through their keyboard tongue?
posted by vapidave at 2:29 AM on March 16, 2014 [3 favorites]


oh you
posted by Justinian at 2:38 AM on March 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


Thanks, inkypinky. I'm sorry I jumped the gun on my assumption.

My first reaction came from experience of some people not that familiar with the site sort of popping in to act as a truth-teller in hot-button topics (extreme example: "but abortion is murder!" in a thread on abortion legislation, or other "why no white history month?!" or "no atheists in foxholes"-style comments), and I saw it as an instance of similar "let me lay some truth on you, women in charge really ARE bullies and bossy, and girls should be taught to be 'good girls'" as opposed to an honest desire to discuss the point of the post, and I was mistaken to act so quickly on that assumption.

Wait-and-watch would have been a better and fairer way to go (though this sometimes goes kaboom, and I've definitely made bad mistakes choosing to do that, as well).
posted by taz (staff) at 2:49 AM on March 16, 2014 [24 favorites]


I agree with the deletion, for what it's worth. There's a certain tone to the comment which does come across as trolly, especially the first paragraph:

In my opinion, bullying by females in the workplace has become a serious problem. The word 'bossy' can certainly be appropriate as some women display power in ways which are somewhat more overbearing and unfair than most men. True story.

"True story." Tacked on the end there feels entirely like a 'gotcha!' to me. The use of "females" rather than something like 'women' strikes me as something of a dogwhistle, as well. Beyond that, the overall tone and feel of the writing makes it come across as axe-grindy in a way I'm having trouble parsing out for an explanation.
posted by Dysk at 2:50 AM on March 16, 2014 [82 favorites]


when I looked at it, it seemed derailing in a flame-y way

That is exactly how I read it too and it was even kind of jarring to me how it didn't fit in with the rest of the thread. For what it's worth.
posted by shelleycat at 2:58 AM on March 16, 2014 [12 favorites]


Oh also, I can totally see here that my reading is not at all what inkypinky was aiming for. I know how easy it is to come across totally different than intended and I think that's all that happened here. But still, in context of that thread this comment didn't work and I'm OK with it being deleted.
posted by shelleycat at 3:01 AM on March 16, 2014 [8 favorites]


Just jumping on to say that while I disagree with the deletion, I appreciate the sincerity and humility of the discussion above (by all parties involved). Reminds me of why I come to Metafilter.

Warm fuzzies warm fuzzies.
posted by duffell at 4:05 AM on March 16, 2014 [16 favorites]


I really feel that Metafilter can be a little too keen to remove comments.

"This simply isn't the case. Of all the sites I've encountered on the interwebs, this community is (perhaps) the most liberal in terms of the kind of comments that will be allowed to stand."
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 5:41 AM on March 16

You need to get out more. This site has become increasingly censorious about anything that the mods even slightly suspect might cause less-than-anodyne comments and exchanges. One can readily verify this by looking at the sort of comments and disagreements that were left undeleted back in the earlier days of Metafilter. One can also see it in the sort of language used by the more deletion-happy mods. Things might be trolling. Things might seem to be provocative. And so on. God forbid that discussions might be allowed to widen, or get a bit heated. Let's all play nice, boys and girls. Don't be difficult.

corralling posts into whatever discussion you want to see happen.

That is a perfect description of what currently happens here.
posted by Decani at 4:24 AM on March 16, 2014 [29 favorites]


Not a great comment, not a great deletion. You should see MY deleted comments in other threads; they're TERRIBLE.
posted by blue_beetle at 4:25 AM on March 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


*checks watch*. Okay, who won the pool on when someone would come in to whine about it being "better in the old days"?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:56 AM on March 16, 2014 [25 favorites]


You just did. Have a corn dog.
posted by Pudhoho at 5:01 AM on March 16, 2014 [6 favorites]


Give me a fucking corn dog you assholes.
posted by vrakatar at 5:09 AM on March 16, 2014 [5 favorites]


No corn dogs for you, potty mouth.
posted by Pudhoho at 5:11 AM on March 16, 2014 [6 favorites]


I read that thread (and the MeTa) late in the process (since we've already reached the jokes), but, whatever the intent, the comment as written was almost guaranteed to lead to a dereail -- the feminism and good character section alone showed either a lack of understanding of feminism or an effort to slide a nasty agenda into the conversation -- I have no idea if that was inkypinky's intent, but I can easily imagine the derail.

As for "reposting" the comment, that seems bizarre and counterproductive. I'm all for inkypinky rewriting the sentiments in a new comment and moving on. That's the simplest way to deal with a comment that was worth making but had problems in phrasing. Restoring comments in situ will just encourage "my comment got deleted!" MeTas, which we could do with less of.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:22 AM on March 16, 2014 [19 favorites]


For me, when I imagine someone looking at a comment and imagining where it will lead the conversation, I picture the glowing swinging pendulum from Hannibal and then a mod standing in an eerie, windswept field as some symbolic drama plays out in his/her mind's eye that in some abstract poetic sense communicates whether the comment should or shouldn't be deleted. I'm more on board with deleting straight up "fuck you, you fuck" comments and otherwise letting stuff play out (and plenty of those stand, it seems). But it's really a subjective call. A lot of stuff I was posting was disappearing down the memory hole a year or two ago, so I just figured I was doing something wrong and decided to be here less. It's worked out okay for me and MetaFilter too has somehow soldiered on.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 5:50 AM on March 16, 2014 [6 favorites]


It's a surprising deletion.

Then again, any comment that contains "In my opinion", "true story", and "I realise this will be an unpopular post" is no great loss. If we're going to have a discussion on metafilter deletion policy, let's start with a comment that actually adds to the conversation.
posted by ratherbethedevil at 5:53 AM on March 16, 2014 [10 favorites]


I read that comment as a derail of the "why are you guys talking about this? This other subject is way more important." variety. Which might not be the intent, but having good intent doesn't keep a thread from spiraling into a derail. If I had seen it, I probably would've flagged that comment; the comment seems custom made for starting a one-person-against-everyone grudge match. On the other hand, derails are often in the eye of the beholder, and lots of eyes disagree with me on this one.

Either way, Taz has offered an apology, and inkypinky can rework and/or repost the comment as they see fit.
posted by Gygesringtone at 6:12 AM on March 16, 2014 [12 favorites]


The deletion is less of a surprise when you consider that taz (as well as other readers) had no idea of the identity of the poster.

Read the comment again in the voice of a middle-aged white guy and it becomes quite a classic concern-troll. And statistically, "middle-aged white guy" is a reasonable guess for an unknown poster in these parts.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 6:14 AM on March 16, 2014 [37 favorites]


MetaFilter is not as lenient with contrarians as it used to be.

Your mistake is in assuming that the purpose of MetaFilter is good conversation. It's actually transformed itself into a holding pen for the smug, self-congratulatory and politically correct. Often, it can be helpful if you've been the victim of Actual Oppression and can speak coherently about that in a way that clearly reaffirms what the squishy middle of the site's constituency already knew.

Deletions used to make me angry. It's hard to get muzzled by the moderators of a community you've invested in, especially when you've been trying to make yourself understood about something that matters to you. These days, though, I'm actually grateful for a deletion. It's like someone opened a window, reminded me that there's fresh air and open space outside.

A deletion is a boot in the ass nudging you out from a sweaty little room filled with nodding heads.
posted by R. Schlock at 6:15 AM on March 16, 2014 [23 favorites]


Many many kudos to Taz for her posts in this thread and for listening to the reasonable voices saying this was an unfortunate delete.

If you take this as an opportunity to swing through claiming that this proves MF is a police stage or too PC or some such nonsense then shame on you.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:25 AM on March 16, 2014 [18 favorites]


Metafilter has a much lower bar for comment deletion than it used to. I understand why that is -- more mods, each of whom has only a couple of tools for shaping each conversation that happens on the site -- but I don't think it's a positive thing overall.
posted by killdevil at 6:27 AM on March 16, 2014 [5 favorites]


The way it was phrased led to a body-cringe in me. That sort of thing where you see words before you fully interpret them and your body does a sort of oh dear cringe. There was a good explanation from the mod in-thread. The OP could repost his/her comment with the guidance of Taz's comment in-thread, no?
But anyway, sorry about the encroaching fascism as seen by others, and I have to ask why corn dogs are the only fare.
posted by angrycat at 6:27 AM on March 16, 2014 [3 favorites]


Read the comment again in the voice of a middle-aged white guy and it becomes quite a classic concern-troll. And statistically, "middle-aged white guy" is a reasonable guess for an unknown poster in these parts.

This was exactly my thought too. Metafilter has no shortage of history with guys who want to drop into threads about feminist issues and argue that women's attitudes are the real problem. After a number of MeTas calling out this problem, the mods began to be much less tolerant of that kind of behavior, and as far as I'm concerned that's a very good thing. I'm glad inkypinky was able to come here and explain that wasn't what was going on, but I don't blame Taz for the deletion at all.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 6:36 AM on March 16, 2014 [58 favorites]


The one really un-awesome thing about Metafilter is how there's a bunch of grumpy dudes who constantly complain about moderation and what a PC echo-chamber it is and yet still stick around to annoy everyone trying to have fun and discuss stuff in good faith. If it's such a bad place to be for you: go away? How is that hard to figure out lol.

Meanwhile some of the best posters are still MIA. Sigh.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:38 AM on March 16, 2014 [64 favorites]


It really can't be that difficult to grasp the interactive mechanics of the two elements, flagging (a community thing, so everyone has a say, or hasn't, free choice. [Aand: wow. such democracy]), and the mods trying to predict train-wrecks on a case to case basis. A combination of both aspects leads to the result that stuff is occasionally getting deleted. So, a pattern can be seen in the setup (reinforced by rather well-formulated low-intellectual-threshold policies). A pattern is by definition absent in the result.

(I found the on-topic part for the discussion above a prime example for how this site works at its best.)
posted by Namlit at 6:53 AM on March 16, 2014


R. Schlock: "Your mistake is in assuming that the purpose of MetaFilter is good conversation."

It's the national park surrounding the Old Faithful of bitter silenced-guy tears that is MetaTalk.
posted by emmtee at 7:01 AM on March 16, 2014 [35 favorites]


One of feminism's next tasks should be about encouraging girls and women to be of good character, as opposed to just raising the bar of entitlement and encouraging women to feel they are beyond reproach. I didn't think that was what feminism was meant to be about, but it's been looking that way lately.

If I'd seen the comment when it originally appeared, I would have had an issue with these two sentences. The first suggests that the default position of girls and women is not to be of good character, and the second is a very broad opinion which may not have any basis in reality other than that of the commenter.

Just going by these two sentences, it would be easy for me to think the poster is coming from an MRA perspective--not that there's necessarily anything wrong with that. However, if that's the case I think the poster should at least be up front about it, given how statements of those viewpoints are not likely to be granted a simple pass on this site.
posted by fuse theorem at 7:14 AM on March 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


FWIW

The one really un-awesome thing about Metafilter is how there's a bunch of grumpy dudes who constantly complain about moderation and what a PC echo-chamber it is and yet still stick around to annoy everyone trying to have fun and discuss stuff in good faith. If it's such a bad place to be for you: go away? How is that hard to figure out lol.

and

The deletion is less of a surprise when you consider that taz (as well as other readers) had no idea of the identity of the poster. Read the comment again in the voice of a middle-aged white guy and it becomes quite a classic concern-troll. And statistically, "middle-aged white guy" is a reasonable guess for an unknown poster in these parts.

and

Then again, any comment that contains "In my opinion", "true story", and "I realise this will be an unpopular post" is no great loss.

and

"True story." Tacked on the end there feels entirely like a 'gotcha!' to me. The use of "females" rather than something like 'women' strikes me as something of a dogwhistle, as well. Beyond that, the overall tone and feel of the writing makes it come across as axe-grindy in a way I'm having trouble parsing out for an explanation.


are all pretty straightforward reasons why unSane left the building for sunnier climes
posted by sweet mister at 7:17 AM on March 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


I think that the deleted comment was inflammatory and that the suggestion that feminism has increased workplace bullying and would do well now to focus on encouraging women to have good character was pretty dumb.

It seems like one of the loose guidelines on deleting comments that many people might think are dumb or inflammatory but that don't have overtly offensive or abusive language or anything is that they're deleted if they seem to be just looking for a fight rather than trying to add to the conversation by sincerely expressing a possibly unpopular opinion. So by that criterion, the comment probably shouldn't have been deleted, since it seemed sincere.

But by the derail/off-topic criteria, I feel like it sort of obviously should have been deleted. The connection between bullying by girls or women and the idea of "bossiness" as a gendered insult is tenuous if not kind of nonexistent. (actually if we were talking about some connection between the two, I think the other direction is just as worth discussing - that being "bossy" is sometimes one of the things that women and girls are picked on and made fun of for; that's sometimes how bullying works, is that it is justified by those doing the bullying by some supposedly annoying traits of person being bullied).

Taz, I think that it was a good deletion and I don't think you have anything to apologize for. However, I would also like to say that I really appreciate how nice and willing to reflect on it you have been. I know that moderators are busy and don't always have time for that, but it really improves the whole atmosphere of this thread/the site in general.
posted by treese at 7:21 AM on March 16, 2014 [21 favorites]


i think it was a good deletion. i think there are ways to discuss how bullying by girls and women goes unnoticed (in my opinion, actually due to sexism, not feminism - since we often see bullying as a physical threat and consider women unable to do that) and how when we generally reserve "bossy" for girls and "bully" for boys we're probably missing a lot of what is going on. i don't think a good way to bring it up is to talk about how bossy and of low character you find many, many of the women in your office to be and how that's feminism's fault.
posted by nadawi at 7:34 AM on March 16, 2014 [32 favorites]


This is a bad and surprising deletion.

Simply expressing an opinion that others on the site are likely to disagree with does not make it deletion-worthy. Such an opinion should not require greater evidence than other opinions, and it should not be held to be a lower derail bar. All of which seems to have been the case here.
posted by shivohum at 7:34 AM on March 16, 2014 [6 favorites]


One vote here for "good deletion of a borderline post that could easily have derailed the conversation into this thread (which is to say, a shitshow)."
posted by Etrigan at 7:36 AM on March 16, 2014 [16 favorites]


I'm confused by something I'm seeing in this thread: moderators putting in quotes their own personal interpretations of the OP's comment. Why are you "quoting" your thoughts as if they are hers? It comes across as putting words in her mouth, and muddles the discussion here.
posted by nacho fries at 7:39 AM on March 16, 2014 [4 favorites]


It was a comment that wanted to turn the discussion into "let's talk about what's wrong with these bossy ladies," so, no great loss IMO. Especially when the original linked-to material is about how "bossy" is used as a specifically gendered shutdown for women.
posted by kavasa at 7:40 AM on March 16, 2014 [9 favorites]


I'm confused by something I'm seeing in this thread: moderators putting in quotes their own personal interpretations of the OP's comment. Why are you "quoting" your thoughts as if they are hers? It comes across as putting words in her mouth, and muddles the discussion here.

The mods are also prefacing those "quotes" with terms such as "comes across as" and "sounds like". Your confusion over a common rhetorical device (both here and in the wider world) comes off as disingenuous.
posted by Etrigan at 7:47 AM on March 16, 2014 [8 favorites]


moderators putting in quotes their own personal interpretations of the OP's comment

Well, this is by way of explaining how the comment came across to us, and we've been explicitly saying "this is how it comes across" to make it clear those are not her words.

I think a lot of moderation stuff relies on interpretation, and when people object to it, the objections often (not always) have to do in some part with interpretation.... so it's important to be able to talk about how comments come across, or different ways of reading them, and using quotes for paraphrase is the common way to mark off a paraphrase. I agree that punctuation convention can be confusing and it's a source of confusion sometimes in heated discussions around here (someone will put something inflammatory in quotes, and they intend it as a funny paraphrase or otherwise not an exact quote, but people read it as an exact quote and object to the inaccurate quotation). But I'm not sure how to solve that problem.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 7:47 AM on March 16, 2014 [4 favorites]


If it's such a bad place to be for you: go away? How is that hard to figure out lol.

Metafilter: love it or leave it.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 7:55 AM on March 16, 2014 [8 favorites]


When did "derailing" become such a deletable offense? Only when a shitty, snarky, and totally empty comment is posted at the beginning of a thread is it usually deleted. Simply posting something that takes the thread in another direction than the poster intended does not make it a deletable derail. People are allowed to discuss what they want, even if it isn't to worship at the altar of whatever idea the post is trying to get across.

Not to mention that this comment was in fact completely on point. Again, it is crystal clear that the comment was expressing an unpopular opinion and THAT is the reason it was deleted.

Imagine the comment had read this, instead:

"In my opinion, bullying by males in the workplace has become a serious problem. The word 'bossy' can certainly be appropriate as some men display power in ways which are somewhat more overbearing and unfair than most women. True story. One of society's next tasks should be about encouraging boys and men to be of good character, as opposed to just raising the bar of entitlement and encouraging men to feel they are beyond reproach. There are many, many men in positions of leadership who apparently feel their position gives them carte blanche to be very unkind."

Would this comment have stood? Absolutely.
posted by shivohum at 7:56 AM on March 16, 2014 [12 favorites]


Something that bugs me about the why was my comment deleted? MeTas and the MetaFilter was better back in the old days when Al Swearengen could just shoot someone in the street without taz making such a deal about it comments is that both seem to assume that any given comment is a precious jewel that has some kind of inalienable right to exist just because someone posted it. Some comments are good, some less good, some forgettable, some damaging. In each category, people spent more or less time and effort (and skill and thought) creating them. And while each comment had a poster who loved that comment Very Much, not every comment needs to stand. The mods are concerned with the site as a whole and the threads that make up a site. Making those run smoothly is more important than the hurt feelings of the deleted.

As such, deletion is not a bad thing, and makes the site work better. I also reject the idea that there is a "group consensus" that is rigorously enforced on most or even any topics. There are topics that turn into fairly predictable arguments because of the particular commenters on the site (and the particular historical formations of internet discussion which has changed dramatically in the last decade or so as online activities have become more general and performed by a much more diverse group of people.

I think there are posters who have proven that they cannot be trusted to comment on certain threads without making a hash of them, but that is more an issue of behavior than the specific views held. A lot of the people I've seen multiple comments deleted (and sometimes user bannings) have all been people who repeatedly offended in presentation as much as opinions. There are a bunch of MeTas about activities that make threads go well and poorly, and most of the deletions I've seen argued on MeTa have eventually been revealed to turn on bad behavior and/or construction rather than the sentiments expressed.

I say this as someone who has had comments deleted for "unfair reasons" -- because they were part of a nascent derail that the mods were trying to correct or, in one Ask example, because (I think) the mod misread the point I was trying to make. And, the first time or two, I got upset, but then I realized that it was not a wrong decision from a site view, and, even if that Ask delete was maybe borderline, I discovered that I didn't care enough to reframe the point in a more acceptable way. These are only some of my derails -- perhaps I have missed the one where I was a jerk and a mod scrubbed it. These days, I am more likely to contact the mods and say "Sorry, this derail is going nowhere good; please delete my comment" than feel any urge to protest. Because not every hill is worth dying for, and being a good citizen means sometimes accepting that your contribution is not helping.
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:57 AM on March 16, 2014 [29 favorites]


Would this comment have stood? Absolutely.

Wow, it's almost as though if you change the words and context of a statement, you get a different statement that doesn't say the same thing as the original statement!
posted by Frobenius Twist at 7:58 AM on March 16, 2014 [63 favorites]


I'm confused by something I'm seeing in this thread: moderators putting in quotes their own personal interpretations of the OP's comment. Why are you "quoting" your thoughts as if they are hers? It comes across as putting words in her mouth, and muddles the discussion here.

I suspect that people do this because they feel the need to set off the thought to make the sentence work, but we don't have a lot of tools to do that. I sometimes use italics or bolding, but those look like emphasis. I sometimes use the old string-things-together-with-hyphens trick, but that looks kind of precious. Parentheses are weird, since they suggest an aside. So we kind of get left with quotes, which, because they are also used for, you know, actual quotes, causes the confusion you note (and the occasional mod notes suggesting people not "quote" things that people haven't said)> All of this is confused by the various usages for actually quoting people -- italics, quotes, block formatting, etc.

I agree that it's a problem, but I am not sure what the solution is.
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:02 AM on March 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


Wow, it's almost as though if you change the words and context of a statement, you get a different statement that doesn't say the same thing as the original statement!

It's almost as if, when you change nothing but the opinion of a comment from an unpopular to a popular one, the standards for evidence and derailing and deletability change too! Like magic! Just like I was saying!
posted by shivohum at 8:07 AM on March 16, 2014 [9 favorites]


If we're playing the "It's almost as if" game, it's almost as if there are still people who don't understand how deeply unseemly and not at all equivalent it is for men to complain about oppression.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 8:11 AM on March 16, 2014 [25 favorites]


It's almost as if, when you nothing but the opinion of a comment from an unpopular to a popular one, the standards for evidence and derailing and deletability change too! Like magic! Just like I was saying!

Good grief. I am definitely overcommeting here, so I'll stop for a bit after this, but -- "gender flipping" or "race flipping" people's comments as a sort of gotcha is never a good tactic. For it to work, you have to ignore centuries of history and pretty much the entirety of social construction. I know it's a popular internet debating tactic, but it's lazy, inaccurate, derailing and, rather than proving the point you seem to make merely marks you as someone who is disingenuous, ignorant, or immature. It's not a winning tactic, and I wish people would just stop it; there is no discussion made better by it's deployment.
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:16 AM on March 16, 2014 [56 favorites]


I'm in agreement with recent commenters that this was a good deletion. There's a group of "contrarians" on Metafilter (= "mens rights activists" or whatever) who really have a strong anti-feminist axe to grind and they love bringing that axe out whenever possible. Yes, I agree that people who have . . . well, let's just say outlying opinions regarding how women are actually the oppressors and how men need to stand up against female repression - those people should be allowed to express their opinions, but in the right context. We should be aware that such comments are always gasoline on the fire, and a thread about the Ban Bossy campaign is really, really not the right place for rhetorical IEDs to be thrown all over the place.
posted by Frobenius Twist at 8:23 AM on March 16, 2014


For it to work, you have to ignore centuries of history and pretty much the entirety of social construction.

If Metafilter wants to put out a moderation rubric stating that comments that deviate from feminist points of view will be viewed with extreme skepticism while there will be an affirmative action waiver in the reverse direction, all because of centuries of oppression etc., it should state that up-front and not then claim to be viewpoint-neutral.
posted by shivohum at 8:24 AM on March 16, 2014 [6 favorites]


It doesn't state up-front that Time Cube will be viewed with extreme skepticism either, but here we are.
posted by emmtee at 8:27 AM on March 16, 2014 [19 favorites]


Does Metafilter claim to be viewpoint-neutral? That would suggest a much more Wild West, non-moderated approach than we have here, I think.
posted by nacho fries at 8:28 AM on March 16, 2014 [6 favorites]


Round here it's more of a case of "as written, that's going to be a serious harm to the conversation. Why don't you try again?".

But this particular comment wouldn't have "harmed the conversation." It was a completely legitimate, 100% relevant point that would have improved the conversation by offering a different point of view. As another example, I linked to an article pointing out that trying to "ban bossy" is not actually a good idea. Children should learn not to be too bossy. Kids often do excessively boss people around, and learning to avoid this is important to the process of becoming a mature adult. Thankfully, my comment making that point (by linking to it) wasn't deleted. The comment making a vague anecdotal observation about bossiness in the workplace shouldn't have been deleted. The idea that it was deleted for being vague or unsubstantiated is a flimsy pretext. You can always come up with a pretext to delete a point of view you'd rather not see being expressed (which isn't synonymous with "a point of view you disagree with").
posted by John Cohen at 8:30 AM on March 16, 2014 [6 favorites]


Does Metafilter claim to be viewpoint-neutral? That would suggest a much more Wild West, non-moderated approach than we have here, I think.

No, it would not suggest that. You can have plenty of moderation without having a system where a few moderators are in charge of determining which viewpoints are and aren't appropriate for thousands of people to express.
posted by John Cohen at 8:33 AM on March 16, 2014 [8 favorites]


I'm in agreement with recent commenters that this was a good deletion.

Yeah, that comment read to me as at best borderline trolling (i.e. "but but women are actually bossy when they're in charge and what feminism should really be teaching them is to be nice, true story"), and I was surprised reading the thread earlier this morning to feel so out of step with the community; I think it just happened that some people got up earlier than others. I can't really see any way in which this comment as written would have improved discussion (though I can imagine ways of making related points that might).

It was good of taz to apologize I guess, but this doesn't seem like a bad deletion to me at all.
posted by advil at 8:37 AM on March 16, 2014 [12 favorites]


What a ridiculous deletion. It was a polite, well-worded comment that offered an opinion in measured language. I'm particularly taken aback by taz's comment in the thread that "If you believe bullying by women has become a serious problem, you need to show evidence of some sort, not just throw it out there like gasoline on a fire." Why would this one particular comment need to "show evidence" in order to stand? Asking people to show evidence is part of the conversation, not a precondition for allowing someone to voice their opinion.

This is not the first time taz has deleted a comment because she disagreed with it. The mods' predictable justifications for each others' deletions is once again disheartening.
posted by Dasein at 8:41 AM on March 16, 2014 [18 favorites]


this particular comment wouldn't have "harmed the conversation."

Well, that's exactly the predictive guesswork question at issue, will it cause an angry freakout? See all the above discussion about how it was the phrasing of this comment, and some of its pieces that seemed sort of nonsequitur+broadbrush+hot button issue, that led taz (and whoever flagged it, and some of the commenters here, and me FWIW) to feel like it had a good chance of leading to an angry derail.

The same sentiments (or, same if I'm interpreting correctly) could be expressed in a way not likely to lead to an angry derail.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 8:44 AM on March 16, 2014


if the comment had stayed i would have pushed back against it hard. i was reading the thread right as the mod note was being left. you can think i'm wrong for objecting to the meat and tone of the deleted comment, but taz wasn't wrong that it would have sparked a shitshow.
posted by nadawi at 8:46 AM on March 16, 2014 [8 favorites]


The one really un-awesome thing about Metafilter is how there's a bunch of grumpy dudes who constantly complain about moderation and what a PC echo-chamber it is and yet still stick around to annoy everyone trying to have fun and discuss stuff in good faith.

Well, I'm female, mostly post in threads concerning women's issues, and have had plenty of nasty things to me said here for bringing up sexism and misogyny. (I'm also quite happy, but that hasn't stopped certain people from attacking me based on what they imagine my emotional state to be.) So maybe I can say something about this?

It is unquestionably true. The perspective that is allowed is "Portlandia Liberal." Anything else, from any political direction, is held to a completely different standard. User A civilly discusses an opinion that is not Portlandia Liberal. A couple users absolutely flip out, get really nasty, start namecalling, write novellas in reponse. User A tries to continue participating the conversation and is told to stop derailing, causing fights, and lately (as we saw in this instance) is told to stop trolling (!!). This happens with absolute constancy, on all kinds of topics.

And it is not just a few grumpy guys who complain about this. It is dozens and dozens of all sorts of users, from all over the map. Really good contributors leave Metafilter over this regularly. It seems to me that the number of users who enjoy this kind of corralling is the much smaller number.

My perspective may match up to "Portlandia Liberal" on most areas of women's issues, but I am still really frustrated by this. I don't seek out conversation with smart people so that I can hear my opinions echoed back to me and have them validated. What I am seeking is intercourse. Good grief, you need to have difference of opinion in order to get that! You need to hear opinions that you don't understand. You need to hear things that you don't agree with. You need to have some kind of back and forth. It's unhealthy and counterproductive to try to avoid that, to try to ban it even!

I absolutely love Metafilter and the Metafilter community. But honestly, I'll be really stoked when there is an alternative with a similar concentration of smart people and signal:noise ratio, that is a little less hardcore about enforcing a certain point of view. Then Metafilter can go the rest of the way to becoming a safe space, and those of us who find "safe spaces" really stifling, even on topics we agree with, can go elsewhere.
posted by cairdeas at 8:49 AM on March 16, 2014 [188 favorites]


The one really un-awesome thing about Metafilter is how there's a bunch of grumpy dudes who constantly complain about moderation and what a PC echo-chamber it is and yet still stick around to annoy everyone trying to have fun and discuss stuff in good faith. If it's such a bad place to be for you: go away?

I kind of want to figure out how to write a script that would replace those kinds of comments with a picture of Jake Gyllenhal captioned, "Metafilter, I wish I knew how to quit you!" Ah well, I'll just do it in my head.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:51 AM on March 16, 2014 [3 favorites]


in agreement with recent commenters that this was a good deletion. There's a group of "contrarians" on Metafilter (= "mens rights activists" or whatever) who really have a strong anti-feminist axe to grind and they love bringing that axe out whenever possible.

Ugh. This is really frustrating to read, because I honestly don't believe we have ANY men's rights activists here. I think we have people who don't see feminism as a right/wrong, black/white construct, but rather a movement where there exists room to debate individual, complex issues affecting girls and women.

When you start flagging--and deleting!--comments because you think it sounds like something an MRA bogeyman might say, the problem is not the comment but your own prejudice.

Good on you, taz, for recognizing that you were too quick on the draw on that deletion.
posted by misha at 8:53 AM on March 16, 2014 [31 favorites]


Yeah, that comment read to me as at best borderline trolling

This is a perfect example od how "trolling" has come to mean "anything I disagree with."
posted by John Cohen at 8:55 AM on March 16, 2014 [29 favorites]


we absolutely have mra dudes here. i do think some mefites have a trigger finger in pointing them out and can get a bit scattershot - but there are people who support pua, who participate over in reddit's mra communities, and espouse those beliefs here.
posted by nadawi at 8:55 AM on March 16, 2014 [6 favorites]


Okay, nadawi, who are they?
posted by misha at 8:58 AM on March 16, 2014 [3 favorites]


Very clever to keep mentioning "men's rights" in the same breath as "pick-up artists," as if they have anything to do with each other. I notice how those who criticize a completely relevant comment as a derail seem to be the most interested in derailing this MeTa, which has nothing to do with "pick-up artists."
posted by John Cohen at 8:58 AM on March 16, 2014 [3 favorites]


a comment that basically says feminism is making women entitled and above reproach and it should instead focus on making women nicer because women in power are more unfair than men, peppered with things like true fact and ending it with how you know your comment is unpopular but there you are, is something that would make me wonder if they really believe it or if they're trolling.
posted by nadawi at 9:00 AM on March 16, 2014 [15 favorites]


PUAs are very related to MRAs, more in practice than in theory though.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:00 AM on March 16, 2014 [5 favorites]


there is a shit ton of cross pollination between redpill, mras, and puas.
posted by nadawi at 9:01 AM on March 16, 2014 [6 favorites]


I'm sure some people think I'm one of them. But I'm just as interested in women's rights as in men's rights, since I'm in favor of equal rights for everyone. The idea that I'm any kind of "pick-up artist" would be laughable if you knew me. But since you don't know me, you can go ahead and pigeonhole me and others with the glib conflation of "MRA/PUA."
posted by John Cohen at 9:01 AM on March 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


OK. I don't this is about you...?
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:03 AM on March 16, 2014 [5 favorites]


not all mras are puas, but i'd be surprised if there are puas who aren't mras.
posted by nadawi at 9:03 AM on March 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


Okay, nadawi, who are they?

Can we not do this? This Meta's about one person's comment, it doesn't seem like a great idea to make it open season for accusations at other specific members.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 9:03 AM on March 16, 2014 [9 favorites]


I think we have people who don't see feminism as a right/wrong, black/white construct, but rather a movement where there exists room to debate individual, complex issues affecting girls and women.

Thanks Misha, this is exactly how I feel about it too.
posted by cairdeas at 9:04 AM on March 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


i have zero intention of naming names. i can't see how that would possible go well.
posted by nadawi at 9:04 AM on March 16, 2014


there is a shit ton of cross pollination between redpill, mras, and puas.

There was even a FPP about it.
posted by Gygesringtone at 9:05 AM on March 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


PUAs are very related to MRAs, more in practice than in theory though.

Feel free to explain how being in favor of men having rights is at all related to being a pick-up artist. I've never heard anyone even try to explain it. I'm in favor of men having rights, just as much as I'm in favor of women having rights. I find pick-up artists utterly ridiculous. I can also see what you're trying to do when you conflate the two.
posted by John Cohen at 9:06 AM on March 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


"gender flipping" or "race flipping" people's comments as a sort of gotcha is never a good tactic. For it to work, you have to ignore centuries of history and pretty much the entirety of social construction. I know it's a popular internet debating tactic, but it's lazy, inaccurate, derailing and, rather than proving the point you seem to make merely marks you as someone who is disingenuous, ignorant, or immature.

See this is exactly the point I was trying to make earlier. Providing a counterexample in order to illustrate that a principle does not exist behind certain editorial decisions is now referred to and dismissed out of hand as "flipping." "It's not a winning tactic" is fancy pants for you're a fucking loser for even questioning it. You're not going to get me to talk about how this correlates with the word "white" or "male" because that's unnecessarily dismissive and random people start to express ownership over my position because apparently they are familiar with social constructs and I am not and I don't want to spend my entire Sunday really getting into it with you or anyone else.

I think it's important for users to reflect on how the state of public discourse at least here in the United States is not necessarily at its best and most neutral. Especially in the way that it creates "solidarity" and doles out "punishment" in a context where normative rules have been tossed out. "It's not a winning tactic," for example, could be used to describe the state of online journalism in its entirety. Outrage followed by more outrage followed by more outrage. Cut to commercial.

I suppose if you're looking for something a little more hands off, try Reddit. MetaFilter seems like a pretty decent place to break bread, connect, and leave hot topics alone. A glimmer on the horizon, if you ask me. I do miss the Wild West sometimes. It would be fun to allow a train to fly over its tracks once in a while. Having said that, it might be of use to look at the complete social networking disaster that is all the other news/information sites. Makes me want to hug all of you.

I think for those of us who are probably more heavily invested in freedom of expression than inky pinky need to consider the fact that certain thread "conversations" have burned threads to the ground over and over again, and that, whether it is fair or not, there are more constructive ways to participate in the site. I think that's pretty cool.
posted by phaedon at 9:06 AM on March 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


Well, I'd be interested in learning at least that nadawi has specific users in mind, less so in who they may be. It all sounds a little McCarthy, you know, an MRA/PUA under every bed. I'm sure there must be one or two people like at here, because there are thousands of users of this site, but I can't think of a time when anyone has ever characterized themselves that way.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 9:07 AM on March 16, 2014 [6 favorites]


I do wish people would be less quick off the draw with the MRA/PUA/MGTOW stuff, if only because it makes it so easy for someone to deny they're part of a specific (non-) movement and therefore the criticism doesn't apply. All three-plus groups are a subset of misogynists, but misogynists most definitely exist outside of those group identities. I couldn't say whether there are actual MRAs or whatever here, but there are certainly misogynists regardless.
posted by emmtee at 9:08 AM on March 16, 2014 [5 favorites]


Really good contributors leave Metafilter over this regularly.

I can think of one...? IMO most of the people who leave because of "over-moderation" contribute almost nothing besides complaining and strident political opinions, which we still have plenty of.

I think we have different opinions about what good contributions are. To me they are:
Stories
Expertise
Well-reasoned, well-written arguments for one thing or another
Funny Jokes
Kind words
Data points
Probably some other shit I'm forgetting

Metafilter isn't debate class. It is a heavily moderated community where peace is valued. If you want to throw-down vs your enemies reddit exists.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:09 AM on March 16, 2014 [30 favorites]


i don't have a list - i have vague ideas of people i've seen commenting in both places and taking word for word talking points from pua and/or mra and/or redpill and producing them over here.
posted by nadawi at 9:09 AM on March 16, 2014


Dammit, cairdeas just nailed it. That's beautifully put. That's probably one of the most helpful encapsulations of my frustration that I've ever seen on the site.

Everyone screaming MRA/anti-feminists/geysers of male butthurt can go stuff themselves. Seriously. As the father of two young girls who is in the middle of a hard conversation with my wife about the percieved "bossiness" of our 3 year old, I take a keen interest in that topic and would, in another world, have loved to participate in that thread. But my gender-politics are not "Portlandia Liberal" and hew closer to Sandbergian Lean-In, I think. And I've had carefully written, honestly expressed, ideologically orthogonal comments deleted before. So I held back and, not for the first time, felt shitty about how a community that used to kick ass for discussing stuff that matters has chosen, electively, to become an echo chamber.

So it goes. I like a lot of stuff that goes on here and I'm not leaving. But I do miss the days when MetaFilter tried less to be a safe space and more to be a place where the smart people went to learn from one another.
posted by R. Schlock at 9:10 AM on March 16, 2014 [32 favorites]


Why is it okay for nadawi to make accusations like that, though, without any evidence backing it up? If you can't specifically name who they are, why go down that road in the first place?
posted by misha at 9:12 AM on March 16, 2014 [10 favorites]


Nadawi was answering the question "Are there really MRA people here?" She didn't bring it up out of the blue.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:12 AM on March 16, 2014 [10 favorites]


Providing a counterexample in order to illustrate that a principle does not exist behind certain editorial decisions is now referred to and dismissed out of hand as "flipping."

Providing that particular counterexample is dismissed as "flipping," because it has been discussed to death on this site and many, many, many others and generally found to come across as privileged, deraily and tone-deaf as to the nuances of microaggression and oppression.
posted by Etrigan at 9:15 AM on March 16, 2014 [12 favorites]


misha, what kind of evidence are you imagining? It's one thing if it's a general "I think there are people here who hold x view", fine, okay, that's what you think. But if you're asking her to name names, then what? You want her to dig through their comment histories (not cool) or bring in stuff from other websites (also not cool)? No.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 9:15 AM on March 16, 2014 [4 favorites]


Feel free to explain how being in favor of men having rights is at all related to being a pick-up artist.

John, I agree with you that nadawi was too quick to pull the "MRA=PUA=loathesomebeast" trigger, but don't swing the pendulum too far back the other way -- MRA is not "being in favor of men having rights".
posted by Etrigan at 9:18 AM on March 16, 2014 [27 favorites]


misha, what kind of evidence are you imagining? It's one thing if it's a general "I think there are people here who hold x view"

Scrolling back, she said "we absolutely have," which sounds like she's pretty sure we do.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 9:18 AM on March 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


Guys there are people here who describe their own selves as MRAs. It's not like a secret but I also don't see why it's such a huge deal. And yes, I also notice the posts that are taken verbatim from the day's top posts on r/mensrights etc.
posted by cairdeas at 9:20 AM on March 16, 2014 [5 favorites]


Okay, so what? nadawi feels sure, fine. If people hold those views, it's not a blank check to drag them out by name in a MeTa that's not about them and doesn't need them to be named for us to have a discussion about the subject.

I take it that misha's trying to raise a skeptical question about nadawi's assertion here, which is fine, but there's an unintentional sideline into witch-hunt stuff of individuals that is weird and not okay to me. That is what I want to cut off.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 9:22 AM on March 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


(that was in response to kittens for breakfast, not cairdeas)
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 9:22 AM on March 16, 2014


It sounds like some of the people ITT who hate the current moderation think they are John Galting us by not contributing? I learned a lot from that bossiness thread. 100% by lurking. If a thread is about something I don't know much about I think lurking is a good choice. Please continue to punish the world by your non-contributions kthx.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:22 AM on March 16, 2014 [6 favorites]


John Cohen, I didn't find your comment or other comments in the thread expressing concern about teaching girls (or kids in general) that it's ok to be overbearing or to not listen to other people, or that they should always be assertive (even if that's not their natural personality type), etc. to be off-topic or objectionable at all. The deleted comment seems different to me for the following reasons:

The word "bully". On the face of it, to me anyway, bullying and being "bossy" seem like fairly different things. "Bullying" means gratuitous cruelty, personal attacks, mean-spirited gossiping; "bossy" means overbearing, overly controlling, insistent upon having things done your way, not letting other people have a say. Not that they can't overlap or intersect in some instances, but to me they seem different enough that it's not like obviously on-topic to bring up one in a thread about the other. (I think part of the issue here is in how we use the same words to mean different things sometimes. Like "I was bullied in high school" and "my coworker bullied me into doing things her way" seem to describe pretty different types of behavior. If I had interpreted the deleted comment to be using the word/concept of "bullying" in the sense of the second example, I would have found it less off-topic. I'm not sure which or what meaning exactly was intended.)

The turning a pretty specific topic into a broader "what's wrong with feminism" comment, along with (what I think is) a mischaracterization of what feminism is and very antagonistic language ("sense of entitlement", “encouraging women to feel they are beyond reproach”).
posted by treese at 9:25 AM on March 16, 2014 [7 favorites]


Well, that's exactly the predictive guesswork question at issue, will it cause an angry freakout?

If this was a bad deletion (and I could go either way) then what I'd hope the moderators will consider is that it went bad by erring too far on exactly this sentiment: the idea that any one comment "causes" an angry freakout, as opposed to the angry-freakout people being responsible for their own comments. It may be a simpler tactic to moderate one person than to moderate that mob, but I think it takes the community down a worse and ultimately more quarrelsome path.
posted by cribcage at 9:25 AM on March 16, 2014 [34 favorites]


This is a perfect example od how "trolling" has come to mean "anything I disagree with."

Oh, I certainly disagree with the comment but I'm perfectly capable of explaining why I think this comment pushes into trolling, and prepared to do so (this response to claims of trolling in contexts like these is frustrating but entirely predictable).

The comment seems to aim to make two points. (a) "many, many" women when in power display behaviors that are "more overbearing and unfair than most men", i.e. women can't handle power, and (b) feminism has done nothing more than make women feel entitled (to power?). There are at least 4 ways I can identify, independent of the content of (a) and (b), that this comment is in trolling territory. (I am simply setting aside the possibility that the content of either of these points is problematic.) First, in the packaging of these two points into a single comment, despite the fact that (a) and (b) aren't particularly related, in effect using the "failure" of feminism as a sort of dog whistle for framing the issue of how women in power behave and are evaluated. Second, in the presentation of what the author is perfectly well aware of as being controversial viewpoints without any evidence or examples (as taz pointed out), meaning resulting discussion is going to be in general terms and therefore much more frustrating for anyone who would like to disagree, unless someone steps in with examples. Third, in the complete failure to engage with the point in the original article that the way in which we view "bossiness" is gendered and our view of women in power seems massively colored by this; even an explicit rejection of this would have been an improvement. Fourth, as many people have pointed out, several rhetorical flourishes such as "true story" (a phrase which I most often hear these days followed by "bro"), "I realize this will be an unpopular post", etc.

Changing any of these things would have massively improved the comment for me at least, despite the fact that I do strongly disagree with both (a) and (b).
posted by advil at 9:25 AM on March 16, 2014 [38 favorites]


Well, that's exactly the predictive guesswork question at issue, will it cause an angry freakout?

Why not wait, see if the angry freakout happens, and delete accordingly? Stop applying the "predictive guesswork" to edge cases.
posted by Wordwoman at 9:30 AM on March 16, 2014 [12 favorites]


It sounds like some of the people ITT who hate the current moderation think they are John Galting us by not contributing? I learned a lot from that bossiness thread. 100% by lurking. If a thread is about something I don't know much about I think lurking is a good choice. Please continue to punish the world by your non-contributions kthx.

Ah, the nuances of microaggression.
posted by phaedon at 9:30 AM on March 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


Maybe I was too subtle?
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:33 AM on March 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


it went bad by erring too far on exactly this sentiment: the idea that any one comment "causes" an angry freakout, as opposed to the angry-freakout people being responsible for their own comments. It may be a simpler tactic to moderate one person than to moderate that mob, but I think it takes the community down a worse and ultimately more quarrelsome path.

I appreciate this comment, cribcage. And that is exactly why some topics go so badly and it is so predictable from the get-go -- that a handful of people who only want to see certain comments expressed have a total freakout if they see something written that they disagree with, and they have learned that by having their angry freakouts, they can easily get those opinions restricted.
posted by cairdeas at 9:34 AM on March 16, 2014 [15 favorites]


I was debating going with macroaggression.
posted by phaedon at 9:35 AM on March 16, 2014


Really good contributors leave Metafilter over this regularly.

This phrase almost always turns out to be about people I am not sorry to see the back of, and almost never about people I wish would come back.
posted by rtha at 9:36 AM on March 16, 2014 [26 favorites]


excerpt from my recent reply memail to a mod: "i acknowledge that metafilter is a carefully pruned topiary where you are a gardener and i'm just a plant..."
posted by bruce at 9:41 AM on March 16, 2014 [4 favorites]


I'm always pretty amazed when people praise the Metafilter of 2003 or even 2005 over the Metafilter of today. There's a reason I lurked and didn't post back then, and I'm pretty sure I'm not alone in that.
posted by en forme de poire at 9:43 AM on March 16, 2014 [34 favorites]


Please continue to punish the world by your non-contributions kthx.

so if they contribute, they're jerks and if they don't contribute, they're jerks

got it
posted by pyramid termite at 9:49 AM on March 16, 2014 [8 favorites]


same here, en forme de poire.
posted by nadawi at 9:49 AM on March 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


It sounds like some of the people ITT who hate the current moderation think they are John Galting us by not contributing? I learned a lot from that bossiness thread. 100% by lurking. If a thread is about something I don't know much about I think lurking is a good choice. Please continue to punish the world by your non-contributions kthx.

To be honest, I think you're coming across as kind of a bullying jerk ITT. I think it'd be rad if you were not ITT at all. That's just IMO.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 9:50 AM on March 16, 2014 [10 favorites]


I've said this before, but I find it helpful to think of being deleted less as being struck down by authority and more like having a friend say, "Dude... be cool."
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:02 AM on March 16, 2014 [17 favorites]


And it is not just a few grumpy guys who complain about this. It is dozens and dozens of all sorts of users, from all over the map.

The weird thing is actually the assumption that people who are doing things or arguing in ways people don't like, must be a grumpy guy. I remember when I first started posting on the blue rather than the green, people were talking about "he" and "him" all the time, despite the fact that I even put my gender on my profile. I guess because maybe it makes it easier to dismiss? But it's still kind of shitty.
posted by corb at 10:13 AM on March 16, 2014 [10 favorites]


The weird thing is actually the assumption that people who are doing things or arguing in ways people don't like, must be a grumpy guy.

I just usually assume this is because most people, even on Metafilter, still default to "him" and "he" when they're unsure, but I think it's annoying and confusing if the poster has in fact made clear their gender.
posted by jetlagaddict at 10:17 AM on March 16, 2014


In these meta discussions I think it important not to conflate disagreement in content with criticism of pragmatic features of discourse. advil's analysis does a good job making this distinction clear. Obviously people will disagree with that analysis, as we're coming from different discourse communities and will assign different meanings to the rhetorical features of any comment. Some see the comment as precipitating a derail; some think the conversation wouldn't have derailed or was recoverable. Personally I'm OK with the mods erring on the side of deleting, because I've seen them willing to talk one-on-one with posters about comments that might derail and how to revise those comments to retain the content of their ideas while altering some features that might lead to a derail.
posted by audi alteram partem at 10:20 AM on March 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


lots of people don't look at profiles when using pronouns. i've been misgendered a bunch here. i just always assume it's more related to men being the majority in most online spaces, including this one and that our language often defaults to the masculine when referring to people generally.
posted by nadawi at 10:20 AM on March 16, 2014 [7 favorites]


The MRAs name and shame in thread when they're carrying out their little wars.

I have no intention of naming names either, but it happens in almost every SJ or feminist-ish MeFi and MeTa thread I've seen go down around here (and I am not a frequent or regular enough user to catch them all). But there's always at least one shaming and attempt to derail to pro-MRA viewpoints.

Mods are pretty good at evening it out and keeping the flame wars at bay but I'd be lying if I didn't say that every single time this happens I reevaluate whether I want to keep participating here.
posted by kalessin at 10:22 AM on March 16, 2014 [5 favorites]


LibsterMitten, you are right, of course. I don't like witch hunts, either. And no, I don't want people trawling through other users' history to drudge stuff up just to cause trouble.

As someone who has been accused of being passive aggressive (when calling out specific comments verbatim), though, I also don't like actual passive-aggressiveness getting a pass. Accusing mysterious unnamed others of being MRAs and PUAs in our midst without anything backing up that accusation rubbed me the wrong way.

Especially given that we are discussing a comment on the blue which, according to the deletion reason, should have included evidence to back up what is clearly stated as another contributor's opinion.
posted by misha at 10:28 AM on March 16, 2014 [3 favorites]


you said there were no xyz and i said there were. no lists, no accusations to mysterious unnamed others. i wasn't being passive aggressive. i was simply stating that i disagreed with you.
posted by nadawi at 10:32 AM on March 16, 2014 [6 favorites]


Also, to be clear, I'm not calling for witchhunts either. From my perspective, you can easily figure out the MRA-siding folks by going into a feminist or SJ thread and saying something pro-equal rights and seeing who jumps on you. Simple and mechanistic.

But unless you were looking to campaign against them (or add them to a killfile I suppose) I don't know what good having a list would do you.
posted by kalessin at 10:34 AM on March 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


I didn't misgender anyone, I was only talking about a specific set of dudes.

I'll stop charging around headbutting everyone now...I'm just really sick of the complaints by people who seem to value disagreement and the right to make a thread all about some hackneyed contrarian position over thoughtfulness and positivity. Meanwhile some of my favorite posters have been driven away by dismissive incurious attitudes about stuff they were excited about (somewhat over-sensitively but still). And there's plenty of overlap between the "Everyone agrees with each-other too much here" crowd and the "this post sucks" crowd. I'm probably being ragey because of that connection so, sorry for the group headbutting if that shoe don't fit.

Just to be clear too I love contrarians. For instance I miss vronsky and faze very much. And moderators make plenty of mistakes. But if you actually care about the community you will dive in and contribute to it, not cease commenting except to pop back in and let us know that you don't comment because we're all stupid ditto-heads. Like corb and cairdeas, for instance. They make tons of comments that further discussion and come from radically different viewpoints. They are valuable parts of the community, despite the majority not agreeing with them sometimes. My GTFO sentiment is purely for those who only show up in metatalk to remind us that we suck for enjoying the current state of this web site.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:39 AM on March 16, 2014 [16 favorites]


Great to know where I stand, thanks, PA.
posted by kalessin at 10:41 AM on March 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


Kalessin: whoa i like your profile a lot! Very informative.

Only making sincere positive comments in this thread from now on.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:59 AM on March 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


But if you actually care about the community you will dive in and contribute to it, not cease commenting except to pop back in and let us know that you don't comment because we're all stupid ditto-heads.

Or you might stop commenting if your comments get deleted a lot because, I don't know, it starts to seem pointless to post comments if they are likely to be deleted.

I can see why some people would like a heavily moderated site. I certainly understand why people would want conversations to stay on topic. I am on the same page. I am less enthused by the idea of cleansing a thread of disagreeable ideas. That's got associations I'm not crazy about. Regardless, it's a perfectly acceptable way to moderate a website. And I still like the posts and the people and reading the conversations, and sometimes I still drop in and post something, but usually only when it's on a subject that seems safe enough that some rippling shitstorm won't cause fifteen comments to get edited out, including mine because it was in response to someone who used a word that was triggering or something and now whatever I wrote doesn't make sense unless you also read the words of the Bad Person, which must be expunged lest they drive us mad like a pack of Lovecraftian narrators exposed to the secret books of the damned or what have you. I just don't want to waste time writing things that get deleted, and I can't imagine why anybody would. That doesn't mean anyone's stupid other than me, in the event that I spend a lot of time writing something I know could get deleted. I'm not being passive-aggressive here. If I thought the site just sucked, I'd leave. I don't. I've just limited my participation to a level that makes sense.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 11:18 AM on March 16, 2014 [5 favorites]


I think this thread has become an unusually good higher-level discussion of what level of moderation is best. I can tell because I can somewhat agree with nearly everybody.

That's pleasantly strange for a "why was my comment deleted" meta. That is all.
posted by ctmf at 11:27 AM on March 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'd be interested to hear where the end points of this proposed ideological diversity are, and why, and what will keep them there. I know for a fact there are users who see positions I'd consider grotesque transmisogyny or rank sexism as falling well within the realm of what should be acceptable difference of opinion. Assume these posters are now free to express their heartfelt beliefs: what makes the same arguments about echo chambers and diversity of opinion invalid when we're branded a room of leftist dittoheads by the next person's standards, or the next?

Is there a point where you'd ever say no, we shouldn't welcome political stance x - I think you can fill in some suggestions here yourself - in the interest of diverse conversation because their arguments are inherently repugnant and we should refuse to give those opinions a platform? If so, then perhaps you can relate better than you think to the way the people reasonably content with current moderation standards feel, Bad Opinions and wrong thoughts and all the rest. Sometimes it's hard to realise that other people view opinions you think are reasonable as equivalent to opinions you both think are hateful. We just place the ends of our acceptable ideological ranges in different places.

I'm curious about this notion of the echo chamber, actually. There's no universal range of ideological diversity, after all - whether or not we admit it, we all have our own idea as to an acceptable range, and we're all informed by our own opinions and bias, and even moreso by the range presented by our cultural/political context, in formulating that.

What is it about the specific range that would meet a particular user's liking that would make this place not-an-echo-chamber? If we were to assume that my ideal was greater representation of the range of radical trans and queer voices which mainstream-centrist Mefi sees little enough of, would that widening of the discursive range here make it not-an-echo-chamber? Or is that reserved for broadening the ideological range only in certain directions?
posted by emmtee at 11:51 AM on March 16, 2014 [3 favorites]


Maybe I was too subtle ?

Holds head in hands, opens mouth, asks What Edvard Munch painting am I ?
posted by y2karl at 11:52 AM on March 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


There's a reason I lurked and didn't post back then

Membership was still closed?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:23 PM on March 16, 2014 [6 favorites]


Is there a point where you'd ever say no, we shouldn't welcome political stance x - I think you can fill in some suggestions here yourself - in the interest of diverse conversation because their arguments are inherently repugnant and we should refuse to give those opinions a platform?

I'm struggling to come up with an example and failing. About the only political concept I'm in favor of actually censoring is censorship itself. About the only thing I still admire in the United States is our firm stance on all political speech being permissible.

Metafilter is a private community, and very obviously those who own and run it are well within their rights to impose community norms and restrict speech at leisure, and I'm free to leave if I find that imposition sufficiently objectionable. I'm still here, but I wouldn't mind here trending more toward open-mindedness.

Guns aside, I'm pretty deep in the Portland Liberal camp, but I want our side to win because the other sides talked things over with us and after some reflection decided we were right. Kicking people out or censoring them until they leave in frustration is just cutting off engagement, and doesn't actually help solve anything.

All that said, I fully recognize that I come about as deeply from the "privilege" side of the tracks as is possible, and maybe that fact blinds me in some fundamental way, so all of the above should be seen as coming with that huge caveat.
posted by Ryvar at 12:31 PM on March 16, 2014 [6 favorites]


I think "echo chamber" and "fighty, trolly, cesspool" are opposite ends of a spectrum line. I know people like to think that the thoughtful, intelligent people of MeFi, with no guiding hand of the moderators, would somehow be better than other places on the Internet. I think it would, too, if they all stayed and everyone didn't suddenly start losing their minds and acting like jackasses. If.

Thing is, the peaceful and respectful nature of MeFi is what makes a lot of those people BE here. The ones who leave for feeling stifled get all the press lately, and maybe the moderation could use a little lightening-up nudge. Too far, though, and the ones leaving for disliking the flame-fest would be just as much of an attrition problem. (But I'm not sure attrition is really a problem, in an absolute numbers sense.)

Also, as a practical matter, someone mentioned earlier how much easier it probably is, mod labor-wise, to cut these things off with one stroke, rather than play whack-a-mole with the result. Sure, the responses ARE the real problem, but there are only so many mods. The small number of mods drives some coherence of vision and consistency, and lets the moderation be more personal. It directly contributes to making MeFi what it is. So I think it's more of a complex system than it seems like. (Isn't everything, once you look at it?)

I mean, just the fact that cardeiras' alternate-MeFi hasn't popped up anywhere would kind of indicate that it isn't as easy as it sounds. Ultimately, it's a matter of value judgment that can only come from one place - #1.
posted by ctmf at 12:31 PM on March 16, 2014 [6 favorites]


Feel free to explain how being in favor of men having rights is at all related to being a pick-up artist. I've never heard anyone even try to explain it. I'm in favor of men having rights, just as much as I'm in favor of women having rights. I find pick-up artists utterly ridiculous. I can also see what you're trying to do when you conflate the two.

I think I've found Exhibit A in "Why the mods have virtually inhuman amounts of patience".

What is it about the specific range that would meet a particular user's liking that would make this place not-an-echo-chamber? If we were to assume that my ideal was greater representation of the range of radical trans and queer voices which mainstream-centrist Mefi sees little enough of, would that widening of the discursive range here make it not-an-echo-chamber? Or is that reserved for broadening the ideological range only in certain directions?

This is it, right here. Talk of echo chambers mostly seems to come from people pushing very hard for a very specific worldview, where the ability of people in power to punch down goes unquestioned and the moment someone says that they were actually hurt by something, it's decried as silencing.

As a community, we have standards, and there's always a question of where those standards should be, but they exist. I would be surprised and honestly a bit hurt if we started giving a free pass to Stormfront members to spew their garbage just because we 'didn't want to be seen as an echo chamber'. That's a community line. Comments like 'I'd hit it' have also met that line, without being to actually be Stormfront. So there's definitely a spectrum here. As far as general toxicity to other human beings and to communities goes, I'd support MRA talking points being put in that spectrum of 'over the line'.

It all comes back to punching up vs. punching down. I don't want to see the community twisting the knife on people for fear of discomfiting people who were never really at risk of being hurt here anyways.
posted by CrystalDave at 12:33 PM on March 16, 2014 [35 favorites]


But if you actually care about the community you will dive in and contribute to it, not cease commenting except to pop back in and let us know that you don't comment because we're all stupid ditto-heads.

there's a very vocal group of people here who pile on to dissenting viewpoints relentlessly - i've learned to "cease commenting" in certain threads simply because my dissent is a relatively minor one in most cases (if at all), and it's just not worth the grief - i have better things to do than argue with self-righteous hotheads

also one person's derail is another's fresh perspective - when i see things deleted because they're derails or might cause controversy, i see people who are afraid of ideas or afraid to ignore what they consider absurd

as usual, the people who protest the contribuitions of dissenters are doing worse damage to the site than the dissenters are
posted by pyramid termite at 12:33 PM on March 16, 2014 [21 favorites]


Late to the party - but my vote is for "bad deletion." However, I do think the moderation around here is generally excellent, so one overzealous deletion isn't a big deal.
posted by yarly at 12:56 PM on March 16, 2014 [4 favorites]


That first Arrested Development album? I don't think it holds up very well.
posted by box at 1:09 PM on March 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


talk of echo chambers mostly seems to come from people pushing very hard for a very specific worldview, where the ability of people in power to punch down goes unquestioned and the moment someone says that they were actually hurt by something, it's decried as silencing.

I think this is deeply disingenuous or at the very least a complete mischaracterization of the motives of those you disagree with. Actively attempting to hurt other people is never okay, but perceiving offense just by the mere existence of an opposing worldview is the very essence of totalitarianism. That is the only and extremely minor extent to which any of the "reverse-bigotry" insects could ever be considered as having a valid point about virtually anything at all.

I feel like I need a bath after writing that last sentence, because I hate to cast them as anything but categorically wrong about everything forever.

Regardless, there's a world of difference between someone saying they want to kill me, and someone saying they support a public policy of all red-headed people being tortured to death. It's important that I have the courage of my convictions necessary to hear somebody out on the latter, even if there is virtually no chance I could ever come to an agreement with them on the point.
posted by Ryvar at 1:09 PM on March 16, 2014 [5 favorites]


man, just imagine a job where you had x people be all 'you were wrong and this wrong thing is a symbol of wrongness' and you just went along and let people vote wrong or right.

I mean, I've dealt with rage in food service, but then it is just the customer with the fucked-up order or the boss because your math on your receipts is wrong for the nth time.
posted by angrycat at 1:15 PM on March 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


Cairdeas nailed my feelings about the echo chamber perfectly as well. And I am pretty much completely Portlandia liberal to the point where I even still love things that have had birds put on them.

In general I think having a site full of really smart liberals is an excellent resource for changing our culture for the better. And mefi has been around long enough that it has been able to influence a new generation of people who have stumbled across the site somehow. But the echo chamber can also be frustrating, unrealistic and very unwelcoming to those with views that don't quite fit.

Not sure what the answer is but I do think over-pruning the site via deletions of potentially controversial comments is a problem. Threads become, in a sense, a monologue rather than a dialog that way.
posted by hazyjane at 1:31 PM on March 16, 2014 [8 favorites]


What was the "true story"promised in the comment? It just says, "True story." and then there's no story told.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 1:34 PM on March 16, 2014 [18 favorites]


You guys know Portlandia is a comedy show, right?
posted by running order squabble fest at 1:35 PM on March 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


I doubt anyone who has mentioned it is unaware of that, running order. What makes you suggest they might be?
posted by hazyjane at 1:38 PM on March 16, 2014 [4 favorites]


I'm only vaguely aware of it. If we're basing social ideology on TV shows now I'm planting my flag as a Kill la Killiberal: we believe in fighting the heirarchy from the ground up, talking clothes, giant scissors and losing eighty gallons of blood while remaining standing.

Alternately, Hannibaliberal - fine dining, dog ownership and the implausible, ritualistic murder of the patriarchy. We're appalling at putting our theories into practice and also drawing clocks.
posted by emmtee at 1:41 PM on March 16, 2014 [8 favorites]



It is unquestionably true. The perspective that is allowed is "Portlandia Liberal." Anything else, from any political direction, is held to a completely different standard. User A civilly discusses an opinion that is not Portlandia Liberal. A couple users absolutely flip out, get really nasty, start namecalling, write novellas in reponse. User A tries to continue participating the conversation and is told to stop derailing, causing fights, and lately (as we saw in this instance) is told to stop trolling (!!). This happens with absolute constancy, on all kinds of topics.

Quoted again lest the incredibly spontaneous joke users pop up and derail - but this rings very true.

I'm on the left, so I suppose I don't mind the PL perspective so much - I think though that people might like to overtly state that's a site aim or whatever rather than continually, over and over and over pretending this isn't the case. Think of the acres of spontaneous and mutually supportive paragraphs that could be saved by this simple exercise.

Props to Taz for admitting it might have been a mistake to delete the comment as well - it's not difficult is it ?
posted by sgt.serenity at 1:49 PM on March 16, 2014 [3 favorites]


WTF is a Portland liberal?
posted by talitha_kumi at 1:49 PM on March 16, 2014


A minor league baseball team.
posted by Pudhoho at 1:52 PM on March 16, 2014 [19 favorites]


Portlandia is a parody show about (to quote Salon) the 21st century, granola-crunching, organic-farm-supporting, “Daily Show”-quoting, early-technology-adopting, bike-lane-promoting American left set in Portland.
posted by hazyjane at 1:59 PM on March 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


Here's a less glib take on the deletion from my previous post in the thread:

It would have been fine for inky to talk about why they think the term "bossy" is ok, possibly related to arguments that it wasn't actually a gendered term or whatever.

That is not what inky chose to do.

What inky did was "here's a problem I have with women," and "feminism should make women better," which are both (as Taz said) these huge, broad indictments of half the human race and an enormous, fractured, and fractious social movement. I really can't see how addressing those statements in a thread is going to be anything other than a shitstorm.
posted by kavasa at 2:04 PM on March 16, 2014 [27 favorites]


I share a view pyramid termite related a few comments up. Feels like most issues have their groups of people (and some people are in more than one group) who show up over and over and over again when their issue comes up -- like a batsignal goes out -- to bring the aggressive, intolerant heat and six colors of shit hit the fan if anyone strays from the groups' views by more than the width of an eyelash.
posted by ambient2 at 2:09 PM on March 16, 2014 [6 favorites]


I imagine it's less that there's a batsignal and more that a lot of people just browse, and only comment on subjects they know or care deeply about.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 2:13 PM on March 16, 2014 [11 favorites]


Hey now, six colors has been banned for a while, so maybe we should leave her out of this.
posted by rtha at 2:15 PM on March 16, 2014 [11 favorites]


I doubt anyone who has mentioned it is unaware of that, running order. What makes you suggest they might be?


...
Portlandia is a parody show about (to quote Salon) the 21st century, granola-crunching, organic-farm-supporting, “Daily Show”-quoting, early-technology-adopting, bike-lane-promoting American left set in Portland.


I think you've answered your own question there, hazyjane. Portlandia is a comedy series, exaggerating things for comic effect - and to a significant extent using Portland as a catch-all comic topos for a whole bunch of things that small-c conservative Americans find funny about liberals. For example the early tech adopting, which is more pronounced in San Francisco than in Portland, is just rolled in there because it's mockable.

So, describing the politics of Metafilter as "Portlandia liberal" I think may be useful as a data point about how a particular person feels, but I think is not so useful as an actual taxonomic unit, because we are not in the universe of a comic TV show.
posted by running order squabble fest at 2:30 PM on March 16, 2014


Wait, isn't Portlandia the show with the book store owner who is basically a lazy lulzy transmisogynistic joke?

That's... kind of appropriate in this context.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 2:40 PM on March 16, 2014 [11 favorites]


If we were to assume that my ideal was greater representation of the range of radical trans and queer voices which mainstream-centrist Mefi sees little enough of, would that widening of the discursive range here make it not-an-echo-chamber? Or is that reserved for broadening the ideological range only in certain directions?

I don't think the nature of the opinions represented here is the real issue. First of all, we're talking about a pretty small range of ideologies either way. And second, to me, what makes an echo chamber is not just the fact of a group of people who are very much alike, it's the inability of that group to accept people who don't quite think and talk like them as members acting in good faith. Holding some opinions to a higher standard of truth and eloquence than others; accusing the people who hold them of trolling, derailing, and being solely or principally responsible for fights that result from their stating different opinions in the same tone as everyone else; behaving as if people have said things they haven't said, for nefarious reasons they haven't cited; attributing opinions you disagree with to Bad people, while glossing over the Good people on your own "side" who think the same kinds of things (e.g. "Talk of echo chambers mostly seems to come from people pushing very hard for a very specific worldview, where the ability of people in power to punch down goes unquestioned..." or the "have you noticed how the men think x and the women think y" conversation in the original "bossy" thread) -- those tactics are to blame for any perception that this site is an echo chamber IMO. And even if Metafilter were populated exclusively by radical trans and queer voices, it wouldn't be an echo chamber if they could just change whatever it is about this community that drives us to generate hundreds of anguished MeTas over comments like inkypinky's.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 2:41 PM on March 16, 2014 [8 favorites]


What inky did was "here's a problem I have with women," and "feminism should make women better"...


The stuff between quotes are your words not his/hers. Ugh.
posted by sweet mister at 2:43 PM on March 16, 2014 [8 favorites]


There's actually a thread ongoing about exactly this issue.

(Although in this case one could just quote directly - "some women display power in ways which are somewhat more overbearing and unfair than most men" and "one of feminism's next tasks should be about encouraging girls and women to be of good character, as opposed to just raising the bar of entitlement and encouraging women to feel they are beyond reproach". It would take a little longer to read, but I think the effect would be about the same.)
posted by running order squabble fest at 2:51 PM on March 16, 2014 [3 favorites]

You guys know Portlandia is a comedy show, right?
Oh. I suppose I should remember to laugh next time I see it.
Portlandia is a parody show about (to quote Salon) the 21st century, granola-crunching, organic-farm-supporting, “Daily Show”-quoting, early-technology-adopting, bike-lane-promoting American left set in Portland.
Alternately, it's a dumbed down remake of Little Britain for Americans.
So, describing the politics of Metafilter as "Portlandia liberal" I think may be useful as a data point about how a particular person feels, but I think is not so useful as an actual taxonomic unit, because we are not in the universe of a comic TV show.
It's like it's come to life…
posted by Pinback at 2:55 PM on March 16, 2014 [3 favorites]


I read this whole thread, and, keeping my thoughts on the content of the comment to myself for now, it seems clear to me to be a derail. It's just off-topic, and likely to lead to a shouty grar-fest such as we have here. The thread is better for the delete.
posted by Mngo at 2:57 PM on March 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


Not sure what the answer is but I do think over-pruning the site via deletions of potentially controversial comments is a problem. Threads become, in a sense, a monologue rather than a dialog that way.

I agree, I think that threads are becoming a bit overly curated. Recently (in the last few months), I think there's been more emphasis on people needing to "read the room." In practice, I think that emphasis has been encouraging a kind of don't-make-waves conformity.

In the Jennifer Lawrence thread about a week ago, it felt to me like just disagreeing was considered a (sometimes delete-worthy) faux pas. My read of that thread was that there was a critical mass of people who wanted to have a love fest, and they shouted down, piled on, and apparently flagged (since there were deletions) comments that were more meh on Jennifer Lawrence and/or celebrity culture. That surprised me; why would there be so much push back and even mod pruning in such a relatively light and impersonal and inoffensive discussion? Why would "negativity" (which in this case seemed to me to be simple disagreement) even be a problem/flaw? There were lots of people I respect commenting in that thread, this isn't a call out. To some extent, the mods have to go by community norms/standards, so this isn't a call out of their actions, either. That thread seemed to me, though, to be a bellwether for an overall change in the site's norms. I'm personally not all that happy about the change toward greater enforcement of conformity that I think it's signaling.

Maybe I'm living in a fool's paradise, but I find Metafilter to be a pretty polite and thoughtful site altogether, so personally, I think that there's no need for mods or the community to curate discussions with a heavy hand. And I do think that the hand is getting a little heavy lately (not just or maybe even primarily on the part of the mods, though). If things continue in this direction, I worry that people will enforce greater conformity by getting on each others' cases more, and that discussions will veer more toward either love fests or blow outs rather than toward give-and-take kinds of conversation. Neither of those things would be lethal to the site -- I'm not going to lie, I'd probably still come on here anyway because I'm hopeless like that. But I don't think that's a good direction to go in, either.
posted by rue72 at 2:59 PM on March 16, 2014 [17 favorites]


I'm possibly about a hundred comments too late to mention about the original post / point of this MetaTalk. The arguments for/against retaining/deleting the comment do seem to make this a "several people won't be happy, with reasons, whatever the action" scenario. With context, shades of meaning, shades of interpretation, possible and actual intent, and ambiguation of the media, it reminds a bit of the sometimes impossibility of modding to the satisfaction of all.
posted by Wordshore at 3:31 PM on March 16, 2014


i would rather see mods err on the side of free expression of ideas than have them err on the side of possible derails and/or fightiness
posted by pyramid termite at 3:37 PM on March 16, 2014 [14 favorites]


Was there more than the one deletion/mod note in the Jennifer Lawrence thread? I vaguely remember reading it a little at the time, but maybe only the first dozen or so comments, and at that point at least it didn't seem like a thread that was going to go awry. I just took a quick skim and it didn't seem terribly fighty?
posted by rtha at 3:42 PM on March 16, 2014


I thought the comment was classic derail, myself. It bore almost no connection to the topic beyond the fact that some women are bosses; was riddled with lazy, sweeping generalisations that are impossible to either refute or assert; and was delivered in a patronising tone as if no one was aware of such opinions and hadn't considered them.

Whether that is allowed to stand I don't care overmuch, but it was a lazy reflexive comment.

I will say I think comments of that standard from a leftish perspective are typically allowed to stand, and how that might bother people. But fighting for the right of everyone to make shitty comments is kinda weird.

I would note also that our commitments to mod free speech are maybe not so consistent we posit. It's easy to recall the ones we disagree with and forget the times when we've agreed with the deletions. E.g. I don't believe a comment like the one that sparked this thread off would ever have been allowed stand if the subject were trans people in a trans thread -and i think only the regular suspects would be protesting that.

I do agree that there are several mefites who seem incapable of responding to something they disagree with, without employing the most vicious calumny, sarcasm, insults and escalation that they can. It's just as tiring and annoying as what they're responding to, if not more so, in my opinion.

Being able to disagree, vehemently but civilly, is a real sign of maturity and engagement with the broader world, imho, and i think a few people on this site could practice more of it. That said, this thread is an excellent example of how to do that.
posted by smoke at 3:43 PM on March 16, 2014 [16 favorites]


E.g. I don't believe a comment like the one that sparked this thread off would ever have been allowed stand if the subject were trans people in a trans thread

You and I have very, very different experiences of trans threads then.
posted by Dysk at 3:47 PM on March 16, 2014 [11 favorites]


cairdeas and misha speak wisely.
posted by Sticherbeast at 3:47 PM on March 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


...that said, I certainly do appreciate the fact that not all threads are the same and that not all threads can be modded the same way. However, I do agree that the deletion under discussion here represented two or three steps outside of the "acceptable deletion" zone.
posted by Sticherbeast at 3:50 PM on March 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


Regardless, there's a world of difference between someone saying they want to kill me, and someone saying they support a public policy of all red-headed people being tortured to death. It's important that I have the courage of my convictions necessary to hear somebody out on the latter, even if there is virtually no chance I could ever come to an agreement with them on the point.

This analogy kind of falls apart a bit when the group whose murder is being called for is an actually oppressed group where people are regularly killed simply for belonging to it. I realise readheads get a lot of shit in certain parts of the world (seriously Britain, what the fuck?) but it's still effectively a jokey stand-in for a real example, which casts the discussion in a rather different light. Talking about extermination of the Jews, the gays, or any other ethnic or sexual minority takes place in a context of that having been projects that were actually attempted, and ideas that are still politically viable in certain contexts in the world. It's not the same thing, and I do not think it is something that should be entertained on metafilter.

If we can get rid of "I'd hit it!" (and thank god we have) then we can get rid of "I'd kill them with fire!" too. That should not be controversial.
posted by Dysk at 4:01 PM on March 16, 2014 [10 favorites]


Let me amend that, then, dysk. Comments like that is trans threads that are allowed to stand are typically howled down by several users in the most aggressive way possible.

Whether you think that's for the better is a subjective thing; speaking for myself I find both original statement and sixty-post-responses mind numbingly predictable, oxygen-starving, unedifying for all concerned and the reason why I avoid trans threads now. I much prefer swift deletion by mods than pallid provocation and the nuclear response that follows and takes over a thread more often than not. I felt like the comment that sparked this thread had that same potential.
posted by smoke at 4:04 PM on March 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


Note:I understand why the response is often nuclear, but it doesn't make the thread any better.
posted by smoke at 4:06 PM on March 16, 2014


For the record, I completely agree smoke.
posted by Dysk at 4:13 PM on March 16, 2014


This analogy kind of falls apart a bit when the group whose murder is being called for is an actually oppressed group where people are regularly killed simply for belonging to it.

Whose murder is being called for, now? Examples? Only ones I can think of where this regularly and predictably happens are the threads about people who are incarcerated, a topic that in my recollection has never spawned an outraged Metatalk.
posted by Wordwoman at 4:16 PM on March 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


(And Dysk, if you're just talking theoretically, I completely agree that calls to murder should be summarily deleted.)
posted by Wordwoman at 4:18 PM on March 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


I wonder if "why was my comment deleted" MeTas should be allowed. I mean, do they ever have a positive outcome? They seem to get used to complain about deletions (which could better be handled by the contact form). They also get used to reignite fights that have started in the original thread (better here than there, but maybe not the best thing). Other than that, they just seem to give people places to have disagreements of varying severity that might go better in MeTas that were explicitly about the contentious subject. Does anything good come of them?
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:30 PM on March 16, 2014


I wonder if "why was my comment deleted" MeTas should be allowed. I mean, do they ever have a positive outcome? They seem to get used to complain about deletions (which could better be handled by the contact form).

No real reason why that would be true. An issue that affects the entire community might be best addressed to the entire community. You seem to be arguing for getting rid of MetaTalk altogether.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:37 PM on March 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


I mean, do they ever have a positive outcome?

Come now, this one is going pretty well, don't you think?
posted by smoke at 4:44 PM on March 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


I don't think my brain can process the concept "dumbed down version of Little Britain," much less apply it to Portlandia.
posted by phaedon at 4:48 PM on March 16, 2014 [6 favorites]


It's extended the cocktail hour, so...
posted by Pudhoho at 4:48 PM on March 16, 2014


And that is exactly why some topics go so badly and it is so predictable from the get-go -- that a handful of people who only want to see certain comments expressed have a total freakout if they see something written that they disagree with, and they have learned that by having their angry freakouts, they can easily get those opinions restricted.

Yes, and good job bringing the topic back to bullying.
posted by bongo_x at 4:49 PM on March 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


"A dumbed-down version of Little Britain" feels like it would be edging into "Ow! My Balls" territory...
posted by running order squabble fest at 4:50 PM on March 16, 2014 [10 favorites]


When did "derailing" become such a deletable offense?


Metafilter isn't debate class.

There does seem to be some percentage of users who think this is a forum to set public policy, or a legislative body. There’s a lot of "stay on topic" and "prove your assertions" and the like. That’s not really how conversations work.
posted by bongo_x at 4:55 PM on March 16, 2014 [5 favorites]


Come now, this one is going pretty well, don't you think?

Well, it hasn't broken out into open warfare, but it hasn't broken into song and dance, either.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:03 PM on March 16, 2014


No matter how many times you ask me, GenjiandProust, I'm not doing the Sondheim, okay? I can't hit those high notes - I just can't. I'm not Bernadette Peters, and you won't trick me into doing it.
posted by smoke at 5:05 PM on March 16, 2014 [6 favorites]


Oh come on; you'd be great singing "Send in the Mods." from A Little Grey Music.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:10 PM on March 16, 2014 [6 favorites]


I'm not Bernadette Peters

Prove your assertion.
posted by Etrigan at 5:12 PM on March 16, 2014 [9 favorites]


I'd always pictured smoke as a tiny cute grey cloud, but no more. Bernadette Peters 4lyfe!
posted by winna at 5:25 PM on March 16, 2014 [2 favorites]


Someone sure protests a lot for someone who’s "not Bernadette Peters".
posted by bongo_x at 5:32 PM on March 16, 2014 [6 favorites]


Look man, I'll just get her off the hook here: I'M Bernadette Peters.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 5:51 PM on March 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


We’re all Bernadette Peters if you really think about it.
posted by bongo_x at 5:53 PM on March 16, 2014 [3 favorites]


Isn't it rich?
Aren't we a site?
Grinding our axes all day
And all of the night.
Send in the mods.

Isn't it grand?
Isn't it keen?
Each of us overthinking
Our own plate of beans.
Where are the mods?
There ought to be mods.

Don't bother, they're here.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 5:56 PM on March 16, 2014 [48 favorites]


We’re all Bernadette Peters if you really think about it.

what about those of us who are kristen chenoweth?
posted by pyramid termite at 6:13 PM on March 16, 2014 [1 favorite]




I realise readheads get a lot of shit in certain parts of the world (seriously Britain, what the fuck?) but it's still effectively a jokey stand-in for a real example, which casts the discussion in a rather different light.

Just for the record, I really wasn't trying to be flippant - but as straight white cis-gendered male I didn't have any characteristics people traditionally discriminate against (although seriously Britain, what in the actual fuck?), so I just went with the most overt uncommon feature. The chasm between that and being discriminated against is of course effectively infinite. Apologies if that wasn't clear.
posted by Ryvar at 6:27 PM on March 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


I think that's kind of the point, Ryvar - for people who are members of a group actually subject to state persecution, or persecution with the connivance and protection of the state (e.g. if you are a young African-American man in Florida), then having people talk about that state persecution as if it were unconnected to their lived experience is going to be a different experience than your hypothetical.

The idea of someone arguing that red-headed people should be tortured to death is so outside the real, that saying that you would be OK with engaging with someone who was arguing for it does not really say anything useful about the experience of people subject to actual, real-world discrimination and how they should be expected to react. The two experiences do not map in a meaningful fashion, precisely because of that chasm, so it's not necessarily useful to try to draw conclusions about one based on the other.
posted by running order squabble fest at 7:07 PM on March 16, 2014 [7 favorites]


We’re all Bernadette Peters if you really think about it.

Nah, I'm Adele Dazeem.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:10 PM on March 16, 2014 [5 favorites]


rue72: In the Jennifer Lawrence thread about a week ago, it felt to me like just disagreeing was considered a (sometimes delete-worthy) faux pas. My read of that thread was that there was a critical mass of people who wanted to have a love fest, and they shouted down, piled on, and apparently flagged (since there were deletions) comments that were more meh on Jennifer Lawrence and/or celebrity culture. That surprised me; why would there be so much push back and even mod pruning in such a relatively light and impersonal and inoffensive discussion?

I really enjoyed the irony of sweetkid being addressed in a manner that, in any other context, most of Metafilter would call mansplaining. Good thing there was a man there to define sexism for all the young women.
posted by spaltavian at 7:26 PM on March 16, 2014 [5 favorites]


Membership was still closed?

Fair - there are two reasons, then.
posted by en forme de poire at 8:31 PM on March 16, 2014 [1 favorite]


Please, please, please tell me that this is an intentionally ironic yet somehow still pitch-perfect impression of my Cultural Studies TA in 1994. Because I don't think I want to live in a world where that was just accidental.
posted by R. Schlock at 8:45 PM on March 16, 2014 [3 favorites]


This was an appropriate deletion. This comment is about women the commenter knows, and she's using feminism to complain about things that happened between them.

What struck me about comment was that this is how women in their women-only spaces on far right forums talk about feminism. They will say it has a corrosive influence on "character." So I was a little surprised.

It ended up sounding like an appropriation of feminism to talk about something that is the antithesis of feminism-- just like the bizarro world appropriation of diversity Conspire talked about elsewhere.

I do not know why taz gets so much flak. Not only would this comment lead to a derail, it makes uncharitable assumptions about all women.

That said, I am sorry that the commenter has had bad experiences with women in positions of power and I hope that she comes to see those were not a consequence of feminism.
posted by vincele at 10:50 PM on March 16, 2014 [10 favorites]


"I think the OP should be able to re-post the comment, but just add a sentence/clause or two about how the statements about feminism's next tasks and "many, many women in leadership positions" relate back to her point about "bossy"."

You can not possibly be serious. Do you think this a standard that other comments on MetaFilter are held up to?

I'm way late in responding to this question, but yes, I was totally serious. If those statements are not relevant (and without further elaboration, I think they are not), they should be deleted from any modified repost of the comment.

Not that every comment here has to be an essay with a bibliography, but I do believe that if you're about to make what you know are some very controversial blanket statements that will anger others, yes, you should have to check yourself and make sure that those statements are necessary and relevant to the post that you're commenting on.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 11:15 PM on March 16, 2014 [3 favorites]


One of feminism's next tasks should be about encouraging girls and women to be of good character, as opposed to just raising the bar of entitlement and encouraging women to feel they are beyond reproach.

This seems like a distinct, and insulting, straw-man to me - especially in the context of a thread about how women who act in a leadership manner are considered "bossy" and insulted when a man doing the same thing would be considered a leader. That's not even getting into characterizing speaking up against gendered insults and trying to make cultural shifts as women being "entitled" and "beyond reproach"; by definition, asking for the same treatment that other people receive is neither entitlement nor asking to be beyond reproach, and I find this kind of gross strawmanning to be distinctly troll-like, trying to catch draw people away from a necessary discussion of how men and women are treated differently when they try to lead into a discussion once again of why women in general suck (and thus should not be leaders, since to want to be so is to be entitled).

The irony of claiming that feminists believe they are beyond reproach and are entitled in a context where people a feminist online is to be the target of death threats is not lost on me as well.
posted by Deoridhe at 11:22 PM on March 16, 2014 [20 favorites]


Kind of a dopey comment, but a bad deletion regardless. Deletion should be reserved for true incivility.
posted by nicolas léonard sadi carnot at 11:33 PM on March 16, 2014 [5 favorites]


Guys, I have here in my hand a list of 205... a list of names that were made known to the Moderators as being members of the MRA Party and who nevertheless are still commenting and shaping discussion on the Metafilter Website.
posted by Justinian at 11:40 PM on March 16, 2014 [7 favorites]


Guys, I have here in my hand a list of 205... a list of names that were made known to the Moderators as being members of the MRA Party

"Let's call her 'Lisa S' - no too obvious, 'L. Simpson'..."
posted by smoke at 12:19 AM on March 17, 2014


Guys, I have here in my hand a list of 205... a list of names that were made known to the Moderators as being members of the MRA Party and who nevertheless are still commenting and shaping discussion on the Metafilter Website.

Everyone, stop asking to look at the list. Stop it.
posted by Sebmojo at 12:46 AM on March 17, 2014


Many thanks to cairdeas for putting into words my reasons for seeking other communities over the last few years. Unlike her, I notice this mainly in the recent NSA threads. I've typed up comments peacefully criticizing Snowden/Greenwald several times, but always delete them before posting mainly because I think that they would provoke angry and ad hominem replies- as Ironmouth often receives- and based on my understanding of current moderation practice, assume that the mods would prefer I not do that. I'd be legitimately happy to be told that I shouldn't be so worried about that, and should feel free to peacefully contribute contrarian views to threads that evoke passionate responses.
posted by gsteff at 2:23 AM on March 17, 2014 [11 favorites]


I am as "Portland Liberal" as it gets (lived there for 6 years, even), but I completely agree with cairdeas' comment.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 2:46 AM on March 17, 2014 [3 favorites]


I also agree with cairderas. My political commitments are generally left of centre, but I agree that the atmosphere towards comments that do not completely align with the received wisdom on a host of 'social justice' issues on MeFi has become increasingly stifling over the last few years. If I find it stifling, I can't imagine how people with different political values than I find it.

I still enjoy MeFi tremendously, but I think it sometimes feels like a self-consciously 'safe space' in the manner of a college society when it comes to discussing certain topics, rather than a collection of passionate, intelligent people who engage in a bit of rough and tumble exchange of ideas (which is how it was described to me when I joined in 2006). If that's the way the mods want it to go, that's understandable I guess, but I think something will be (already has been) lost.

(Note, this is not a call for a return to the days of "I'd hit that", but a call for any comments that are intelligent, well-put, and not outright hateful comments to stand even if they might ruffle feathers).
posted by modernnomad at 4:30 AM on March 17, 2014 [26 favorites]


I would bet 5 dollars that there are no dyed in the wool puas here and MRA true believers would take one look and leave. The true believers are too busy fighting amongst themselves and chasing/hating women. Furthermore, PUA died two years ago and MRA/MGTOW is falling apart due to red pill apathy. True story-- from a feminist woman with weird ways into those communities, for what it's worth.

As an aside, and since this thread is mulching down as usual, I'd be interested to see an FPP about the current state of the MRA movement.
posted by running order squabble fest at 4:45 AM on March 17, 2014


(Note, this is not a call for a return to the days of "I'd hit that", but a call for any comments that are intelligent, well-put, and not outright hateful comments to stand even if they might ruffle feathers).

I agree completely, but I think the disagreement on certain deletions arises from what constitutes being outright hateful. We can all agree that 'fuck you' is hateful. We're all in agreement that 'I'd hit it' doesn't clear the intelligent bar. But what about something like 'gay people disgust me'? I'd posit that as not particularly intelligent, and certainly hateful - others would say it's just another opinion, just another political alignment we have to accept. What about 'women should stay in the home'? Again, I consider that hateful, in its denying agency and free will to a segment of the population, but others would say it's just another viewpoint. What about 'Hitler was a decent leader on balance'? I think we'd mostly agree that this is hateful and unacceptable, but not everyone would. What about 'trans women aren't women'? I consider that hateful, but it's pretty fucking clear that lots of people on metafilter don't.

The disagreement isn't about the extent to which contrarian or challenging positions are a problem in and of themselves, and I think it's disingenuous to paint the disagreement as such (as many many people have done, not just modernnomad). The disagreement is about what constitutes hateful. I do not want an echo-chamber, and I love disagreement and debate. But I also want to see people on the site treated with respect, and I suppose I draw the line a bit further on from 'fuck you!' than some people do on that.
posted by Dysk at 4:55 AM on March 17, 2014 [26 favorites]


i find it interesting that multiple people have made mention of groups showing up to threads en masse to make sure everyone is discussing things in approved ways and no one has asked to see their lists, or attacked them, or told them they were being unfair, or are still making mccarthy jokes at their expense 100+ comments on.
posted by nadawi at 5:25 AM on March 17, 2014 [9 favorites]


But what about something like 'gay people disgust me'? I'd posit that as not particularly intelligent, and certainly hateful - others would say it's just another opinion, just another political alignment we have to accept. What about 'women should stay in the home'? Again, I consider that hateful, in its denying agency and free will to a segment of the population, but others would say it's just another viewpoint. What about 'Hitler was a decent leader on balance'? I think we'd mostly agree that this is hateful and unacceptable, but not everyone would. What about 'trans women aren't women'? I consider that hateful, but it's pretty fucking clear that lots of people on metafilter don't.

Oh, there are plenty of people on MetaFilter who live for the moments when someone posts some moronic Hitler defense or its equivalent. No one is making a good faith argument that these are positions anyone has to accept as reasonable. I guess the default now is to delete things like this before they spiral out of control or something, but I don't think there's a real risk of the community being asked to tolerate bigotry as, like, an opinion. Rather, it seems to be a choice between having arguments or not, with the emphasis on not, which as noted can ultimately make the site a safe place for some and an arid, stifling place for others.

I will say as a random data point that I am not sure of the value of a safe space that is also meant as a forum for ideas. Ideas aren't really safe. Safe spaces are great, and necessary to a person's mental health, but to me they don't gel with exploration. It's a little early in the morning for me to take that thought any further. Maybe someone else will pick it up.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 5:29 AM on March 17, 2014 [3 favorites]


For what it's worth, I don't think anyone in this thread or elsewhere is arguing for MetaFilter to become a safe space.
posted by Dysk at 5:35 AM on March 17, 2014 [11 favorites]


For what it's worth, I don't think anyone in this thread or elsewhere is arguing for MetaFilter to become a safe space.

Fair enough. That's how it reads to me, but I'm sure there's somewhere a list of qualifications for what constitutes a real safe space, because of course there almost has to be.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 5:49 AM on March 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


For what it's worth, I don't think anyone in this thread or elsewhere is arguing for MetaFilter to become a safe space.

Right, but there are people convinced that there is an ongoing movement towards MetaFilter becoming a safe space, or that it is already a safe space (or a "a holding pen for the smug, self-congratulatory and politically correct", which I think is about the same thing for the purposes of this discussion). The situation may not be real, but the emotions engendered by the belief in it are.

I'm not sure what you can do about this. I think it's just one of the things that happens, and seems to have been happening for a long time - "MetaFilter is on the brink of extinction because it silences contrarian views" was a well-known enough saw that there were jokes being made about it in 2005.
posted by running order squabble fest at 6:03 AM on March 17, 2014 [5 favorites]


2005 was like a minute ago
posted by Joseph Gurl at 6:07 AM on March 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I think people have different ideas about what a safe space is. I haven't actually heard of the idea of a general safe space, that is, one that is trying to be "safe" (or non-triggering, etc.) for everyone. I've most often heard the term safe space in the context of wanting to avoid mention of things (related to a specific issue or type of experience) that might trigger self-destructive behavior or bad feelings about past trauma. And yes, I think there is often a list of list of things that are and aren't allowed. For example, a forum that is trying to be a safe space for people with or in recovery from eating disorders might prohibit any mention of calories or how much someone weighs.
posted by treese at 6:07 AM on March 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


Oh, there are plenty of people on MetaFilter who live for the moments when someone posts some moronic Hitler defense or its equivalent. No one is making a good faith argument that these are positions anyone has to accept as reasonable. I guess the default now is to delete things like this before they spiral out of control or something, but I don't think there's a real risk of the community being asked to tolerate bigotry as, like, an opinion. Rather, it seems to be a choice between having arguments or not, with the emphasis on not, which as noted can ultimately make the site a safe place for some and an arid, stifling place for others.

I dunno, I think it's more about having conversations, some of which might become arguments, and having pointless arguments. There are plenty of bad PoVs (and bad ways of framing arguments) that have been done to death, and the mods have see nmost of them. Deleting comments that will lead to pointless derails is a feature, since it allows for something more than yelling back and forth. As for how marginal viewpoints are silenced by deletion, I find it hard to imagine what the mods are squelching, given some of the comments that get made here. The mods seem far more interested in behaviors and potential outcomes than specific viewpoints.

Also, I am incredibly annoyed to see the "lets see the list" johnnies-come-lately." That was neither funny nor productive the first time around and waiting 12 hours hasn't made it more so.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:13 AM on March 17, 2014 [11 favorites]


There are plenty of bad PoVs (and bad ways of framing arguments) that have been done to death, and the mods have see nmost of them.

No offense, but so what? I'm sure they've seen most everything. Their job is to read the site all day. If the litmus for whether a comment should stand is whether it's something totally new to the mods, close commenting.

Deleting comments that will lead to pointless derails is a feature, since it allows for something more than yelling back and forth.

This presumes that we know what comments will lead to, and it also presumes that one person's pointless derail is another's. I don't think these are safe presumptions.

As for how marginal viewpoints are silenced by deletion, I find it hard to imagine what the mods are squelching, given some of the comments that get made here. The mods seem far more interested in behaviors and potential outcomes than specific viewpoints.

All of this is basically impossible to determine, because you're talking about comments that you literally cannot read. You find it hard to imagine because it is not able to be imagined. There is no basis for any such imagining. It could be the entire text of The Da Vinci Code, the secret of the universe, the Brooklyn telephone book, who knows. It's not there.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 6:34 AM on March 17, 2014 [4 favorites]


well we do have the evidence of deletions reproduced on metatalk...
posted by nadawi at 6:37 AM on March 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


running order squabble fest: " As an aside, and since this thread is mulching down as usual, I'd be interested to see an FPP about the current state of the MRA movement."

There was one posted in October.
posted by zarq at 6:40 AM on March 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


Sweet - thanks, zarq!
posted by running order squabble fest at 6:42 AM on March 17, 2014


All of this is basically impossible to determine, because you're talking about comments that you literally cannot read.

More than a little, deraily comments and their derails are deleted - clearly people know what the deraily comment would lead to, because the derail was achieved.
posted by rtha at 6:50 AM on March 17, 2014


You're welcome! In particular it's worth noting that jokeefe debunked Hembling's "feminists with box cutters" story linked in the Daily Beast article in this comment.

More at the New Republic, by the way. And the Prospect article linked in one of the initial comments was excellent.
posted by zarq at 6:51 AM on March 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


excerpt from my recent reply memail to a mod: "i acknowledge that metafilter is a carefully pruned topiary where you are a gardener and i'm just a plant..."

Maybe you're a plant; I think of the mods more as the Max Perkins to my Scott Fitzgerald.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:09 AM on March 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


Dysk: "The disagreement is about what constitutes hateful. I do not want an echo-chamber, and I love disagreement and debate. But I also want to see people on the site treated with respect, and I suppose I draw the line a bit further on from 'fuck you!' than some people do on that."

I agree with you, but perhaps it's also worth noting that our understanding of where to draw the line probably changes over time? It would not surprise me if, after participating here a while, many of us have changed our minds about stuff. I know I have.

For example, there was a metatalk thread a while back where a now-banned user had said something pretty disgustingly racist (and sexist) and the comment wasn't immediately deleted. I personally thought it crossed WAY over the line, flagged it and was then surprised it wasn't deleted immediately.

cortex was the first mod to wake up and take the reins. This is part of his initial comment in the thread:
"That said, I'm looking at it now and think it's a crass, tone-deaf comment that's needlessly abrasive and showy and I don't like it a bit, but I'm not really decided if it's something that merits no-question deletion or if it's more of just plain obnoxiousness of the sort that isn't really against the rules around here.

It's fine to bring it up here, and in my morning fogginess I'm interested in what folks have to say about the intersection of the general notion that You Can Have Crass Opinions On Metafilter with the sort of violation of social mores that comes with the comment, because, as I said, I'm still hashing this one out for myself."

The comment in question in that thread struck me as obviously hateful. But it didn't strike other people that way, and cortex said he wasn't exactly sure, so a discussion ensued about why it was problematic. People got to weigh in and the system worked.

Perhaps determining "what constitutes hateful" around here is a work in progress for all of us. I'd like to think so.
posted by zarq at 7:10 AM on March 17, 2014 [6 favorites]


I think every deletion's got to be a real tightrope walk by the mods: is it because of the comment's content or its presentation?

To me, the comment reads as if it's got a Tootsie Roll Center™ of something worth discussing in the content, but it's dressed up in so many layers of flamebait in the presentation that it's better off out. It also seems to me that that was pretty well explained in the comments they left. I understand that there's no message sent when a comment is deleted, and I understand that that would be a simply impractical amount of work for the mods to do.

But since the comments on the deletion don't say anything along the lines of, "That point of view isn't welcome here," I, personally, think it's a bit of conclusion-jumping to assume that it's the point of view that's not welcome.

I don't think you'll get many people disagreeing with th idea that it's a good idea for feminists to teach their daughters good character if they're not already doing so. But the accusation that there's some kind of monolithic feminist conspiracy to make women feel beyond reproach and encouraged to bully in the workplace that's overtaken society is pretty strong stuff, and it was good advice from the mods to rewrite that in a more evenhanded manner that's more conducive to discussion.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:11 AM on March 17, 2014 [10 favorites]


Perhaps determining "what constitutes hateful" around here is a work in progress for all of us. I'd like to think so.

Oh absolutely, I agree - but that doesn't change the fact that that is where the fundamental disagreement lies, rather than with whether or not we want dissenting viewpoints quashed in the name of ideological purity (or an echo chamber).
posted by Dysk at 7:14 AM on March 17, 2014 [4 favorites]


The mods seem far more interested in behaviors and potential outcomes than specific viewpoints.

A duck just dropped down in front of Genjiproust with a $100 bill in its bill.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:14 AM on March 17, 2014


What about 'women should stay in the home'? Again, I consider that hateful, in its denying agency and free will to a segment of the population, but others would say it's just another viewpoint.

Man, few things are more likely to arouse my ire. It's literally like waving a red flag in front of a bull. But at the same time, yes, I think it's important for people to be able to express even views I think are absolutely terrible. In many parts, it's because the people who think those things aren't going to go away by magic. They're only going to go away if they're challenged and argued with and spend time thinking about their situation. If their words are deleted, nobody gets to ask them key questions. Nobody gets to challenge their assumptions. They don't get to change. And that means we live with shitty things longer, because people are keeping their poison inside rather than lancing the boil.
posted by corb at 7:42 AM on March 17, 2014 [4 favorites]


But this was a thread about not shaming young girls into being submissive by calling them 'bossy' for doing things we praise boys for.

Jumping in to say either (charitably) "Well I know a woman who really IS bossy!" or (less charitably, but this is absolutely how it read to me) "women who get a whiff of power are complete harridans; men are natural leaders and feminism should teach women to pipe down and be more ladylike" is a derail, and doesn't add anything to the thread except a possible pile-on.

I can see why it was deleted, because I would definitely have been part of the pile-on if I'd seen it. If the intention was not the second interpretation, just go and re-phrase it.
posted by tinkletown at 7:55 AM on March 17, 2014 [13 favorites]


Wow, zarq, that comment (from the MeTa you linked to) is disgusting. Like, turned my stomach disgusting. If the difference between Old MetaFilter and New MetaFilter is that people wouldn't even dream of making that comment now, then delete to your hearts' content, mods. I will gladly surrender some comments that I thought were fine but you did not (there have been three I think) if the net result is less overall hate and assholery on the site.

Also, re the mods:
Their job is to read the site all day

I manage that plus my actual job, you know. Why don't I get money for it? Where's the link to the MeFi Union?
posted by billiebee at 8:04 AM on March 17, 2014 [18 favorites]


Like, turned my stomach disgusting. If the difference between Old MetaFilter and New MetaFilter is that people wouldn't even dream of making that comment now, then delete to your hearts' content, mods.

Moderation policy based on extremes are not likely to be good. That comment was not representative of "old MetaFilter".

There are users who advocate for MetaFilter being a "safe space" and we've seen people say that certain comments no longer make them feel safe here. I'm think specifically of divabat and some people in the aedison thread but I believe there are others. Whether this constitutes a "bloc" would require more research than I have done.
posted by spaltavian at 8:18 AM on March 17, 2014 [4 favorites]


a now-banned user had said something pretty disgustingly racist

Oh zarq, I didn't even have to click on that link to know that you were talking about The idea of going down on black girl gash makes me want to ralph, words that still come back to me from time to time, five years on.

The fact that there had to be hemming and hawing about whether that comment should be allowed to stand, in the context of the kinds of deletions we were already used to in 2009, made me feel so miserable and unwelcome on this site. And while I was and am glad that many people spoke up against it, it is one of the things that has really coloured my view of the kind of opinion policing we're talking about in this thread. It guess it just pisses me off to see this underlying assumption that there are good people on MeFi who know what's right, and then there are the other kind of people, and fuck them, and no restraint is necessary in dealing with them. I feel like you have to be oblivious to the ways in which you too can be imperfect and hurtful in order to be so willing to dismiss and condemn the contributions of other people.

Another thread I think back to sometimes is the one about a year ago where we discussed the lack of POC characters on Girls. There were lots of dismissive and clueless comments made, including some by members who are aware and active about social justice issues that affect them more personally. People said that criticism of Lena Dunham was unfair and unproductive and she was basically the victim in the situation and people just love to complain and it must be because she was a woman and the second season of her show was too soon to tell where she was going and hey the show was called Girls after all so of course it was about [privileged white] girls and people who were complaining must not understand television because there's only so much time in an episode and adding another character would necessarily involve thousands more social interactions and black people needed to suck it up and not be so critical when people were just trying and it was actually our handwringing that was setting us back and white people usually don't hang out with any POC in real life anyway. If that summary is unfair, here are some of the comments I'm talking about:

people who are upset on the internets will still be upsets people on the Internet

Man, If I was Lena Dunham I would just give up

Why is Girls a focal point for criticism about under-representation of people of color on television? Arrested Development didn't have any significant non-white characters* but it was never called out like Girls. Tons of shows could be criticized the same way, but somehow Lena Dunham is the worst? Something else is going on here.

it is extremely rare in real life that people have truly diverse friend groups

More everybody shows. This a thousand times over picking a random creator to scapegoat.

in an ideal world, non-white creators should also have a voice. But to get to that ideal world, we all need to suck it up and be less quick to judge someone's efforts to expand their own empathies

I have a suspicion that all of this hand-wringing over how the experience and struggles of African-Americans are represented on television is actually a detriment to trying to make really good shows about black people.

How many possible social interactions are there when you add a tenth character to the show? 5,010, which is 2,724 more possible social interactions than when we just had 9 characters.
[...] So not only does it seem to me unfair to criticize the show's race problem after only two episodes into Season two, but it also seems kind of naive about the fundamental problems created by scarce social space in a television show like this one

it is incredibly unfair for Berman in this article to just blow past what the show is doing well to demand that the diversity issue be solved in just two to four episodes

This is a show with a fundamentally narrow, specific point of view. It's pretty upfront about that via the show's title.


Personally, I think people should be able to say all that shit and more and that we're much better off having an argument about the actual opinions and not about whether those opinions are acceptable for this site. But the same courtesy should be extended to shitty opinions that hit the majority of people here closer to home, just out of basic generosity and recognition that nobody here is perfect or inoffensive or aware of all the ways in which the things they think and say affect people who are different from them.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 8:19 AM on March 17, 2014 [6 favorites]


billiebee: "Wow, zarq, that comment (from the MeTa you linked to) is disgusting. Like, turned my stomach disgusting.

Yeah. It was the most extreme example I could think of to point out.

If the difference between Old MetaFilter and New MetaFilter is that people wouldn't even dream of making that comment now, then delete to your hearts' content, mods.

I was really, really shocked that the guy said it. And on preview what spaltavian says is absolutely true: that comment definitely isn't representative of the kind of comments we had on the site back then. As Jessamyn described in that thread, it was one "queasy-making comment."
posted by zarq at 8:22 AM on March 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


Man, few things are more likely to arouse my ire. It's literally like waving a red flag in front of a bull. But at the same time, yes, I think it's important for people to be able to express even views I think are absolutely terrible. In many parts, it's because the people who think those things aren't going to go away by magic. They're only going to go away if they're challenged and argued with and spend time thinking about their situation. If their words are deleted, nobody gets to ask them key questions. Nobody gets to challenge their assumptions. They don't get to change. And that means we live with shitty things longer, because people are keeping their poison inside rather than lancing the boil.

The problem with that is that it completely stifles meaningful conversation on certain issues, because that conversation is never allowed to move past 'lancing the boil'. Some of us do not want to spend all our time on certain issues lancing boils.
posted by Dysk at 8:24 AM on March 17, 2014 [20 favorites]


There will always be edge cases between what should obviously be deleted on sight and what should be allowed to stay. There can never be the One True Way to always delete appropriately, as reasonable minds will always disagree about those edge cases. There will always be situations in which some people will be unhappy. There will always be cases in which people may suffer from comments in ways that others might not understand. In addition, there will always be cases in which a mod genuinely makes a mistake, or at least when a mod does a thing that a quorum of people consider to be a mistake. It's the way of the world.

However, we can still consider what goals we have in mind when things are deleted. For example, consider the tension between wanting a thread to go smoothly and wanting posters to be able to express their thoughts and feelings. These are important considerations, and it can be difficult to find an appropriate balance. It is inevitable that some threads will not go smoothly, just as it is also inevitable that many sincere expressions of one's thoughts and feelings will be deleted. Sometimes, it is good that threads do not go smoothly - people want and need to argue. Sometimes, it is good that not all expressions will stand - the greater good is served by deleting some things. It is also of course the case that it these things can also sometimes be bad. It all depends.

Generally speaking, the site does an excellent job of maintaining this balance. Good moderation is mostly silent and unobtrusive.

However, I would cite the deletion under discussion, and this deletion which had its own MeTa thread, as examples of moderation which errs on the side of heavy-handedness. That latter example is a much more serious example of heavy-handedness, IMHO, but I won't expand on that point unless there is a strong desire to hash that out again.

The MeTa zarq links to shows an example of the opposite having occurred.

It wouldn't surprise me if the current trend towards heavier moderation is at least in part a result of those kinds of mistakes.

...

Regarding so-called lists of MRAs/PUAs, it is indeed silly to demand to see such a so-called list, to the extent that such a list could or would formally exist. On the other hand, it's totally fair to ask to see an example of what you're referring to, by linking to a comment. Otherwise, throwing out the MRA/PUA references winds up being just a noisy derail. (I do remember that there was a MRA-ish guy who IIRC disabled his account after the Great Misandrist Lullaby Thingamadoo of 2013.)
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:27 AM on March 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


But I would disagree that's the old Metafilter.

The gross comment that zarq linked to came from guy who ran a well-known blog about hurting women. He was as a "manosphere" personality.

Of course the former mefi member might have just adopted that blogger's name as a show of allegiance to those views.

Either way his user name made it obvious he was a troll.
posted by vincele at 8:29 AM on March 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


wow
that comment
wow
posted by angrycat at 8:32 AM on March 17, 2014


I'm perpetually exhausted by FPPs that are even remotely about anti-woman gender bias because they tend to be irresistibly attractive to folks who feel the need to drop in just to point out that Feminism Is/Uppity Women Are The Real Problem, and I feel like I'm... uh, something of a known quantity when it comes to discussing sexism. But my initial impression was that nixing the OP's comment was a misstep. Although the content of the comment is (imo) pretty noxious, albeit a summary expression of some very common beliefs, significantly more inflammatory comments have stayed up in significantly more heated threads, so at first blush, I couldn't really grasp why the call was made to take this specific one down.

After reading this MeTa, though, and watching a small parade of the usual suspects come out of the woodwork to express their ire on the topic of this particular deletion, I feel like pulling it down was absolutely the right thing to do, as its disappearance appears to have successfully headed off innumerable pixels' worth of righteous indignation on all sides. In that context, the deletion feels much less like shaping the conversation in favor of "political correctness" and much more like steering the MeFi truck away from a point on the map that is home to a long-burning conflagration.

God knows us ladyfolk are very familiar with having to argue against shit like that, here and in real life, but sometimes you just get tired of spending so much of your time and effort butting up against extremely basic misjudgments, like the idea that feminism is about "entitlement and encouraging women to feel they are beyond reproach," and that it does not focus enough on "encouraging girls and women to be of good character," whatever "good character" even means.

And as always, the "show us your list!" thing is weird, witch hunt-y, and not remotely germane. As far as I can tell, the only reason anyone would pointedly ask for a list of such-and-such posters in a discussion forum like this is so the requester can nitpick the provider's supporting documentation into nonexistence. They are looking for a rhetorical cudgel, a reason to deride, dismiss, and negate every subsequent point made by anyone who might be moved to provide such a list. Has anyone who's asked for a specific list like this done so with a mind that is completely open to accepting any feature of said list at face value -- be it the precise beliefs expressed by those users, the purported vehemence of those beliefs, or just the list's inclusion of any user at all, ever -- as opposed to doing so in order to try to argue every single pixel into the ground?

I really can't see a discussion that begins with "Show me your list of [x]ists!" and "OK, here's the list" having any result aside from, "Nuh-uh, they/we/I don't believe [clearly-stated offensive thing], they/we/I believe [delicately sanitized version of offensive thing]" "Just because they/we/I say [x] doesn't mean they/we/I believe [x]!" "They/we were/I was obviously just playing devil's advocate," and/or, "How dare you put them/us/me on that list with those assholes!"
posted by divined by radio at 8:32 AM on March 17, 2014 [20 favorites]


But I would disagree that's the old Metafilter.

That comment itself isn't the "old Metafilter". Cortex being unsure whether the community would want him to delete it is the "old Metafilter."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:34 AM on March 17, 2014 [17 favorites]


vincele, I think your reasonable, well-thought out rebuttal would have worked fine in the original thread. As for me, I would have just thought "huh! Dumb comment!" and moved on. Surely it's a minority of users here who would respond with a frothing-at-the-mouth pile-on. If that happens -- *when* that happens -- it usually goes away with a stern note from the mods. Why not just let that play out?
posted by Wordwoman at 8:35 AM on March 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


"Yes, it was flagged, and when I looked at it, it seemed derailing" is quite a load. Either it's a derail, because it actually derailed the thread, or it isn't. There's no kinda-maybe-looks-like-it-might. And, being entirely on topic, albeit contrarian, I don't see how that comment possibly could have resulted in a derail.

What you really mean -- sorry, how it comes across -- is, "A bunch of people didn't like this comment, and when I took a look at it, neither did I, so I deleted it."

I didn't like it either, but you can't go around deleting stuff just because you disagree with it.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:36 AM on March 17, 2014 [5 favorites]


Otherwise, throwing out the MRA/PUA references winds up being just a noisy derail.

i didn't bring them up.
posted by nadawi at 8:37 AM on March 17, 2014


innumerable pixels' worth of righteous indignation on all sides

That's the thing. I just don't see that this comment would have incited that. Maybe I'm naive.
posted by Wordwoman at 8:37 AM on March 17, 2014


the only reason anyone would pointedly ask for a list of such-and-such posters in a discussion forum like this is so the requester can nitpick the provider's supporting documentation into nonexistence

I kind of wanted to see it because I think those guys are dirtbags and would have been interested to know if there were actual PUA folk here on Metafilter.
posted by corb at 8:38 AM on March 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


That comment itself isn't the "old Metafilter". Cortex being unsure whether the community would want him to delete it is the "old Metafilter."

Yeah I think that's what was in my head. That as far as I can see in terms of how the site is moderated today, that comment would have existed for roughly half a nanosecond.
posted by billiebee at 8:38 AM on March 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


two or three cars parked under the stars: "The fact that there had to be hemming and hawing about whether that comment should be allowed to stand, in the context of the kinds of deletions we were already used to in 2009, made me feel so miserable and unwelcome on this site. And while I was and am glad that many people spoke up against it, it is one of the things that has really coloured my view of the kind of opinion policing we're talking about in this thread. It guess it just pisses me off to see this underlying assumption that there are good people on MeFi who know what's right, and then there are the other kind of people, and fuck them, and no restraint is necessary in dealing with them. I feel like you have to be oblivious to the ways in which you too can be imperfect and hurtful in order to be so willing to dismiss and condemn the contributions of other people."

For whatever it's worth, I'm sorry if my bringing it up was also upsetting. The comment has stuck with me as well. It's lodged in my brain.

I tend to think that sometimes this is going to happen. People who are not directly impacted by an insult may not perceive it in the same way as those who are. muddgirl made an observation and drew a conclusion in the thread that had not immediately occurred to me. Also, the mod on duty had just woken up after a long night, and has a history of being exceptionally aware, enlightened and 'on point' when it comes to addressing racist or sexist comments. I don't want to cast blame on him in any way for hesitating, or allowing that discussion to take place, for the few minutes it did before he deleted the comment.
posted by zarq at 8:41 AM on March 17, 2014


The site is moderated heavily, which is a big part of why it works. The downside to that is comments, or whole swaths of comments that are contaminated by a bad one, or a comment contaminated by bad discussion, being deleted. I look at posting here as sort of non-deterministic, and don't get too worked up about anything being deleted.
posted by thelonius at 8:43 AM on March 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


Also, I apologize, sincerely, for sparking a derail in this thread. Was trying to make a point but I obviously used an example that was too extreme.
posted by zarq at 8:43 AM on March 17, 2014


That comment itself isn't the "old Metafilter". Cortex being unsure whether the community would want him to delete it is the "old Metafilter."

Thanks for the clarification. I missed that. Then I think that Cortex dropped the ball. The commenter is a manosphere blogger who made a living off writing things like that and now he's writing a book about his days of trolling. He knew Metafilter of 2009 as a place that comment would offend. Cortex should have too. The community seems to hold taz to a very high standard when it comes to her decisions. If that is the case for one mod, let's be honest about when other mods might misjudge what is offensive and what is not.
posted by vincele at 8:45 AM on March 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


That comment itself isn't the "old Metafilter". Cortex being unsure whether the community would want him to delete it is the "old Metafilter."

Is it? I agree the apparent hemming and hawing seems different than moderation today, but that's one example. My recollection is that 2009 is well into "new Metafilter" territory, but maybe I'm off base there.

The other factor that springs to mind is that moderation seems heavier across the board today. Was it reluctance to delete an insensitive comment, or pretty much any comment?

I'm inclined to side closer to your point of view but I'm just not sure we have enough information.
posted by spaltavian at 8:47 AM on March 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


It happened five years ago, and he deleted it within about 20 minutes of his first comment in the thread. Please don't condemn the guy for waking up slowly one morning.
posted by zarq at 8:48 AM on March 17, 2014 [7 favorites]


In that context, the deletion feels much less like shaping the conversation in favor of "political correctness" and much more like steering the MeFi truck away from a point on the map that is home to a long-burning conflagration.

I personally think you have to have a considerably lighter touch when doing prevention vice doing cures.
posted by Mooski at 8:48 AM on March 17, 2014 [3 favorites]


I'm a member of a number of traditionally marginalized (and some traditionally murdered, as recently as today or yesterday) groups. I am:
- intersexed (XY/XXY mosaic)
- transgendered
- genderqueer (answer to pretty much any pronoun)
- queer (activist/bi)
- bisexual (insofar as this has any meaning for someone who's trans)
- Asian
- half Chinese, half Caucasian (folks of mixed ancestries with people of color often get special treatment)
- feminist
- culturally (in some ways) lesbian (my upbringing is a complicated story)
- not atheist (again quite complicated)
- Unitarian Universalist
- Taoist
- Quaker

In most of these ways, Metafilter has not only not been a safe space for me (which I too am not espousing or demanding) but an actively unsafe space for me. I stick around because I have a community-based social agenda and because at least some individuals around here and the mod team for the most part have been ultra cool. And the mod team highly competent and very skilled to boot.

But some days, man, some days, I think it would be best for me and best for the community if I fucked off outta here. Most of those days involve someone espousing MRA politics in some way. Honestly I don't get to feeling actively unsafe for friction about most of the other reasons, but the MRAs really rub the feminist side of me very raw indeed some days. Second to that? The trans and gender identity stuff.
posted by kalessin at 8:48 AM on March 17, 2014 [15 favorites]


I'm also totally fine with the deletion that this thread's truly about. It read to me as really begging a flamewar in a couple of aspects, part of it the "True story." phrase and the sentence before it, which totally read as flamebait vagueness to me.
posted by kalessin at 8:50 AM on March 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


Moderation policy based on extremes are not likely to be good. That comment was not representative of "old MetaFilter".

The funny thing for me is that I agree that building policy off extremes is not a good way to go—hard cases make bad law, and all that, we try and avoid it—but one key point there that seems off to be left out of these sorts of metatalk discussions is the idea that a really aggressively permissive, let's-have-some-freedom-of-expression-even-if-it-ruffles-feathers non-deletion approach to moderation is an extreme. Setting the line for action at only the brightest-line examples of hateful speech and letting everything else sort itself out is not some costless thing, unless you consider it no loss to turn away everybody not interested in swimming in bile.

Which: I'm not trying to suggest that hardcore free speech absolutism is something a plurality of mefites are pushing for on the site; if anything, there certainly are some folks who hew close to that but even most folks who tend to be on the "I'd prefer fewer deletions" side of things tend to have more moderate opinions about the details.

Likewise, as much as there are a few folks who have argued for something actually significantly resembling a Safe Space approach to the site (in the term-of-art sense), that's not most of the folks who are in favor of leaning a bit more toward proactive and pre-emptive moderation of provocative or fight-starting comments or early-derail-detection approaches.

Most folks here aren't particularly extreme about their expectations for site policy, immediately or long-term; most discussions about a deletion don't tend to be about basic permissibility of ideas on the site so much as about how those ideas get presented. The folks arguing for the more extreme positions are bound for frustration and disappointment, but so it goes.

All that said, what has changed in the five years since that crappy comment that I had to blearily look at and dither over deleting in 2009? Because if I got up this morning and saw it, I wouldn't have dithered.

And that doesn't come down to a question of whether that comment is a representative example of 2009 Metafilter, since it certainly wasn't, it was unusually terrible. But that there was discussion at the time, that it was something other than "are you fucking kidding me? *delete*", does speak a little bit to the implications of some of that Good Old Dayism on what site expectations were—that part of my thinking at that time would have even been "yes, but what if some folks are upset by the removal of this comment on free expression grounds". That, whatever else aside, the zeitgesting distance between that comment and Mefi's bin was shorter than it is now. I don't really feel like that was a better situation for the site, and it doesn't require a proportionally extreme change in policy to mark out the significance of the problems with that extreme example.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:51 AM on March 17, 2014 [28 favorites]


I'm certainly not asking for a list or any which hunt; but could someone link to recent threads that contained MRA stuff? I don't see a lot of stuff that I would call dyed-in-the-wool MRA nonsense and I want to know if I'm missing it/skipping those threads/have a different (and possibly incomplete) definition of MRA.
posted by spaltavian at 8:52 AM on March 17, 2014


kalessin: "But some days, man, some days, I think it would be best for me and best for the community if I fucked off outta here. "

FWIW, I'd be very upset if you left. And this entire place would be poorer without your presence and contributions.
posted by zarq at 8:52 AM on March 17, 2014 [14 favorites]


Not gonna do it, spaltavian. Perhaps someone else will.

Thanks, zarq. I appreciate you and I'd miss you too. (And my previous remark was not fishing for this kind of reassurance, btw.) It's almost always a very passing fancy that peaks when my frustration peaks.
posted by kalessin at 8:54 AM on March 17, 2014


i didn't bring them up.

Fuse theorem and misha said we didn't have actual MRA dudes here, to whatever extent that may or may not be true. You responded with:
we absolutely have mra dudes here. i do think some mefites have a trigger finger in pointing them out and can get a bit scattershot - but there are people who support pua, who participate over in reddit's mra communities, and espouse those beliefs here.
This is a specific, positive assertion. It is reasonably foreseeable that people would ask to see what you're talking about. There is no need for anyone to ask for (or provide) a "list", for obvious reasons, but it is not unreasonable for people to want to see examples of the comments you're thinking of. If even asking to see some exemplary comments is somehow out of line, then I don't see why it would have been worthwhile to bring it up in the first place.

Either way, as it stands, this conversational thread has indeed wound up becoming a noisy derail. Unless this will go somewhere productive, it might be best to just drop it altogether.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:54 AM on March 17, 2014 [8 favorites]


zarq, it didn't upset me and I'm not angry with cortex or blaming him or anything. My point is just that I would like there to be less anger and blame in general, and more recognition of the fact that it's not just one group of people who are causing most of the problems here, and it's not just gender issues that we fuck up on, and our problems wouldn't be solved if the people who fuck up on those particular issues the most went away, because almost everybody occasionally says shitty things that other people have to tolerate somehow. So we should almost always either engage with people's arguments or ignore them, not try to eliminate them from the site.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 8:59 AM on March 17, 2014 [8 favorites]


I'm certainly not asking for a list or any which hunt; but could someone link to recent threads that contained MRA stuff? I don't see a lot of stuff that I would call dyed-in-the-wool MRA nonsense and I want to know if I'm missing it/skipping those threads/have a different (and possibly incomplete) definition of MRA.

Off the top of my head, I think you could look at threads about broader Internet Gender Flashpoints - like the Skepchick elevator thing or the Pycon photo-sharing thing, and see comments that - while I suspect their makers would not identify as Men's Rights Activists - are on the overlap point with the discussions that were going on on r/mensrights at the same time (ie the far end of the MeFi discussion would have been at the near end of the mensrights discussion).
posted by running order squabble fest at 9:01 AM on March 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


Please don't condemn the guy for waking up slowly one morning.

for the record, my pointing him out wasn't blame; cortex confirmed that his own thought process was precisely what I thought it was, so yay.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:02 AM on March 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


kalessin: "And my previous remark was not fishing for this kind of reassurance, btw."

Oh, no I didn't take it that way at all. I know you've been frustrated by certain things about this place in the past (as I have I -- but usually different things) and just thought I'd say something.

Thanks. :)
posted by zarq at 9:05 AM on March 17, 2014


> because almost everybody occasionally says shitty things that other people have to tolerate somehow.

But it's not an even fight. I'm tolerating shit from all quarters ever day because of my multiple minority statuses. To have to come to a place where the base philosophy is that we should try to be excellent to each other to eat more shit? That doesn't sit well with me.

I mean I do due diligence and I assume good intent, but for me, the shitty comments cross a line for me that I'm not always interested in or generous enough to tolerate.
posted by kalessin at 9:06 AM on March 17, 2014 [11 favorites]


That, whatever else aside, the zeitgesting distance between that comment and Mefi's bin was shorter than it is now.

Er, the distance was longer, not shorter. Five years later and I'm still getting up foggy in the morning, that's consistent at least.

Either it's a derail, because it actually derailed the thread, or it isn't. There's no kinda-maybe-looks-like-it-might.

Sure, and if you put a candle near something flammable, it either does go up in flames or it doesn't. The only way to be sure is to wait and see; if the drapes are reduced to ashes, the candle was too close.

Derails—especially, particularly derails in threads on contentious subjects—don't exist in some shrugging Let's Just Let It Happen sort of way where the difference between it happening and not happening is neutral. Part of what we do here is try to keep conversations from going to the shitter; unmaking a derail after the fact is one of those things that is more like trauma surgery than an academic exercise, because once the derail has actually gotten rolling there's damage already done to the conversation.

Sometimes it makes sense to just tell someone up front to try to find a slightly better spot to set the candle.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:08 AM on March 17, 2014 [17 favorites]


cortex: "Derails—especially, particularly derails in threads on contentious subjects—don't exist in some shrugging Let's Just Let It Happen sort of way where the difference between it happening and not happening is neutral. Part of what we do here is try to keep conversations from going to the shitter; unmaking a derail after the fact is one of those things that is more like trauma surgery than an academic exercise, because once the derail has actually gotten rolling there's damage already done to the conversation."

Completely understandable. But it can be very frustrating for someone who may not be reading the room the same way Team Mod does. What y'all see may not always be immediately obvious to us. In a way, we're coming at the discussion from different directions, even though we all most likely want the same thing: to avoid a huge flame-filled derail.

Sorry for dragging one of your mod decisions from five years ago back under the spotlight, by the way. I didn't think far enough ahead when I linked to it.
posted by zarq at 9:15 AM on March 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


two or three cars parked under the stars, I agree.
posted by zarq at 9:20 AM on March 17, 2014


I think it's important for people to be able to express even views I think are absolutely terrible.

More to the point, is it important for people to be able to express views some significant fraction of the user population thinks are absolutely terrible here? Not as an abstract question of free speech, but on this forum, as a matter of policy. I'm skeptical that many more minds would be changed by this, though the rows might be more entertaining and the flameouts more spectacular. There's a sort of value to that kind of moderation, too, I guess, but it's a kind that this forum seems to deprecate.

They're only going to go away if they're challenged and argued with and spend time thinking about their situation.

I'm also skeptical of this, or rather, while it seems reasonable to imagine that they (whoever "they" are) might change their minds if challenged enough, it seems more likely that "they" will simply dig in, or obfuscate, or double down, or choose any other rhetorical strategy that speakers use when they don't want to concede a point. Lawdy, I've seen that happen here. Which is fine: the stakes are pretty low.

So I see it as something of a utilitarian proposition: is the value of a more raucous forum where a few people are entitled to express views that are "absolutely terrible" greater than the value of a more tightly moderated forum where more people feel comfortable participating?
posted by octobersurprise at 9:21 AM on March 17, 2014 [10 favorites]


But it can be very frustrating for someone who may not be reading the room the same way Team Mod does. What y'all see may not always be immediately obvious to us.

Absolutely, and I'm sure that barring an early heat death of the universe we'll be continuing indefinitely to hash that sort of stuff out with folks individually and in metatalk. Part of the process, part of how this place works, and part of how we try and calibrate how moderation work intersects with these grey-area situations is by continuing to talk about it.

The core idea of sometimes taking early or pre-emptive action on likely derails isn't negotiable; it's part of the toolset, it's part of how this place doesn't completely melt down on the regular. I understand there are folks who would prefer we take a different tack on that, and I am actually sympathetic to some of the arguments for that; I just do not at all agree in a professional capacity with the argument that it would make a better Metafilter.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:22 AM on March 17, 2014 [5 favorites]


is the value of a more raucous forum where a few people are entitled to express views that are "absolutely terrible" greater than the value of a more tightly moderated forum where more people feel comfortable participating?

I mean, I see it as a weird expectation that people being able to express views from all areas on the spectrum would necessarily be a "raucous forum." It's completely possible to be polite while expressing ideas that some people might think are terrible, and I think to be desired - it's equally possible to be chill while countering those expressions. It doesn't have to be the wild west around here with people shooting flames in order to have more openness.

Why not go with the best of both worlds, have people able to express their views as long as they're thoughtful, and moderate things that are mean-spirited rather than honest expression?
posted by corb at 9:24 AM on March 17, 2014 [3 favorites]


Sure, and if you put a candle near something flammable, it either does go up in flames or it doesn't. The only way to be sure is to wait and see; if the drapes are reduced to ashes, the candle was too close.

Maybe the problem is that the drapes are made of guncotton.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:28 AM on March 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


Why not go with the best of both worlds, have people able to express their views as long as they're thoughtful, and moderate things that are mean-spirited rather than honest expression?

That's....pretty much what already is happening.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:28 AM on March 17, 2014 [15 favorites]


I kind of wanted to see it because I think those guys are dirtbags and would have been interested to know if there were actual PUA folk here on Metafilter.

Totally understandable, but the big problem with this is that the definition of "actual PUA folk" is not nearly universal, as spaltavian and Sticherbeast's comments have already shown. I would venture that their idea of, say, "dyed-in-the-wool MRA nonsense" and mine are not the same, and I imagine a lot of it has to do with the fact that they've never been on the receiving end of sexism while I've been dealing with its effect on basically every facet of my life for the past 30 years and change.

MRA/PUA nonsense is often much, much harder -- even dangerous -- for women to ignore. So while it's true that [some] women can be much more attuned to picking up on it, and it may ring a tiny percentage of false alarms, a) it's safer to accidentally sound a false alarm than fail to sound a real one, and b) we're often accused of lying and/or exaggerating no matter what, simply by virtue of the fact that sexist behavior is often completely invisible to [some] men. Ban hammer aside, the publication of an x-ist MeFite list would be immediately met with a roar of "They're/we're/I'm not x-ist!" But there's a reason that the overwhelming majority of the kind of people who regularly call the existence of x-ist attitudes into question are the very same people who've never been on the receiving end of x-ism, y'know?

If we made a list of x-ist things people said, those people would immediately begin scouring the list in order to seize upon something they could/would insist is simply not worthy of objection on x-ist grounds. At that point, the list, which was originally created in response to a request for proof that those people actually did say those things, immediately becomes proof of the opposite: Unless or until we can all agree that what was listed was Really That Bad, the list creators are just overreacting, their opinion deserving of dismissal.

I personally think you have to have a considerably lighter touch when doing prevention vice doing cures.

People who belong to traditionally marginalized groups often have a different perspective when it comes to attempting to prevent actual harm to their/our own ranks, rather than being eternally forced to play catch-up and try to find a cure after the harm has already been done. The former is significantly less of a grind on our nerves, hearts, and minds; the latter is a request that is made of us literally every single day. It's so exhausting. So when the mods here step in and move the proverbial candle before the curtain goes up in flames, even if what they stepped in to prevent wouldn't have been the biggest fire in the world, it's a real breath of fresh air compared to the smog we usually slog through offline.
posted by divined by radio at 9:29 AM on March 17, 2014 [16 favorites]


Or, you know, that the flame is a fusion flame, sometimes.
posted by kalessin at 9:30 AM on March 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


divined by radio: " People who belong to traditionally marginalized groups often have a different perspective when it comes to attempting to prevent actual harm to their/our own ranks, rather than being eternally forced to play catch-up and try to find a cure after the harm has already been done. The former is significantly less of a grind on our nerves, hearts, and minds; the latter is a request that is made of us literally every single day. It's so exhausting. So when the mods here step in and move the proverbial candle before the curtain goes up in flames, even if what they stepped in to prevent wouldn't have been the biggest fire in the world, it's a real breath of fresh air compared to the smog we usually slog through offline."

That's interesting. So basically, the mods are creating a bit of a safe space for minorities here without deliberately intending to.
posted by zarq at 9:32 AM on March 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


zarq I'm glad you linked it (and it was clear you weren't putting any blame on cortex) because sometimes you read comments here and you think they are mean or assholish. And then you see that comment and its like, Ah. THAT'S what mean and assholish really looks like! It's a good reminder that most people here (including the OP) are probably just doing their best even when they (I) get it wrong. Proper trolling and spite is something different entirely. IMPO the vast majority of comments that I see are interesting or wise or funny, or at worst misguided or tone-deaf. Basically what I'm saying is I love you guys!

yes I may have been drinking already but it's St Patrick's Day so I'm required to be at least tipsy by 4pm
posted by billiebee at 9:34 AM on March 17, 2014 [3 favorites]


Maybe the problem is that the drapes are made of guncotton.

I think the figurative counter here is that not everybody agrees that it's reasonable to blame the fire on the drapes for not being made of asbestos. In practice, drapes usually aren't made of either, obvious fires should be pretty avoidable, and being a little bit thoughtful about candle-placement is the big win as middle-way approaches go.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:35 AM on March 17, 2014 [16 favorites]


I see it as a weird expectation that people being able to express views from all areas on the spectrum would necessarily be a "raucous forum."

I'm merely speaking of over a decade of experiences here and of my experiences on a few other forums. I can imagine a forum where people can express and respond to "absolutely terrible" opinions peacefully and unemotionally, but I haven't encountered one.
posted by octobersurprise at 9:36 AM on March 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


>There are plenty of bad PoVs (and bad ways of framing arguments) that have been done to death, and the mods have see nmost of them.

No offense, but so what? I'm sure they've seen most everything. Their job is to read the site all day. If the litmus for whether a comment should stand is whether it's something totally new to the mods, close commenting.


Perhapos that sentence was badly phrased. My point was that, since the mods see the whole site, every day, in a way that the average (or even heavy-use members) don't, they have a much more accurate idea of what will start a derail than you or I do. By the time we are aware of a difficult topic or a problematic user, the mods must have very little doubt. So I basically trust them when they say something like "this is not going to go anywhere good" and delete a comment or post.

>Deleting comments that will lead to pointless derails is a feature, since it allows for something more than yelling back and forth.

This presumes that we know what comments will lead to, and it also presumes that one person's pointless derail is another's. I don't think these are safe presumptions.


Maybe that is the difference between us -- I trust the mods to do their best. If I think something I wrote got deleted by mistake, I can use the contact form and see if there is some way I can phrase it to make the comment work on this site. If not, I can let it go.

>As for how marginal viewpoints are silenced by deletion, I find it hard to imagine what the mods are squelching, given some of the comments that get made here. The mods seem far more interested in behaviors and potential outcomes than specific viewpoints.

All of this is basically impossible to determine, because you're talking about comments that you literally cannot read. You find it hard to imagine because it is not able to be imagined. There is no basis for any such imagining. It could be the entire text of The Da Vinci Code, the secret of the universe, the Brooklyn telephone book, who knows. It's not there.


If there weren't regular MeTa complaining about deletions, this might be the case. I feel like I have a pretty good idea of what is going to fly and what isn't. I mean, I also try to do things like taking a walk instead of posting when I am really mad, not pursuing a point to death, and thinking really hard if my point is worth defending when I am getting pushback, doing my best to assume good faith and reading charitably, and so on and so forth. I find all of these excellent ways to not get comments deleted.
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:37 AM on March 17, 2014


More to the point, is it important for people to be able to express views some significant fraction of the user population thinks are absolutely terrible here?

I'm old enough to remember when way more than a significant fraction of the population thought that being lesbian or gay was a mental illness and that being lesbian or gay should preclude someone from teaching in public schools. In that light -- hell yeah, I think it's important for people to be able to express "absolutely terrible" views that may contradict majority opinions.
posted by Wordwoman at 9:41 AM on March 17, 2014 [7 favorites]


are mean-spirited rather than honest expression?

I think the issue is that many find others' honest expression to be mean spirited just by existing. Someone waaaay up thread mentioned (as a hypothetical example, not as an identified comment, to be clear) a view that women should stay at home (I can't find whether it was SAHMs or just generally). That's not a view I share, but I could see someone believing it earnestly for whatever reason. But the commenter above suggested it was inflammatory (IIRC) because it deprived women of agency, and could justifiably be deleted. (Feel free to correct me if I'm mis-remembering the point; it's hundreds of comments ago.)

Not as an abstract question of free speech, but on this forum, as a matter of policy.

That strikes me as an interesting solution. I'm a Boston liberal, not a Portlandia liberal, with the hat tip to Cairdeas above. I don't feel silenced all my life here, but I do feel like my brand of liberalism is not the preferred house brand. (At least I'm not a Republican, amirite?!)

I honestly think the site would function better if people would just get together and just vote up Portlandia liberalism as the official viewpoint of the site. (Like, actual honesty, not snark honesty.) Replacing the unofficial shared perspective of, I think, the large plurality, if not the large majority, with an official viewpoint would set a baseline of participation and expectations.

There are liberal sites on the internet, and there are conservative sites on the internet. We don't have a particularly large conservative userbase, and their voices are not well received (either because we don't like them, or because they don't like us, or we just don't want another shitstorm or whatever).

Metafilter is a liberal site. I like it here. I would sooner use Internet Explorer than read a conservative site. There are a couple of stalwart conservatives fighting the good (or not so good) fight here, for whatever reason. To pretend we welcome dissenting viewpoints with open arms seems disingenuous to me. It's graft versus host.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 9:45 AM on March 17, 2014 [12 favorites]


I just want to make it enormously clear that I am in no way arguing that some patently racist, sexist shitbaggery like the comment mentioned (from five years ago) should be saved from deletion. That comment should clearly have been immediately deleted and the user banned. I have almost never seen anything remotely like that sort of vile horseshit on this site, and I think it's a very obvious extreme example of trolling.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 9:51 AM on March 17, 2014 [3 favorites]


We are liberal here, no doubt, which is one of the reasons I do stick around and think it worth my time and effort to do so. In fact, I know conservative press and bloggers consider Metafilter a "liberal" site.
posted by kalessin at 9:52 AM on March 17, 2014


kittens for breakfast: All of this is basically impossible to determine, because you're talking about comments that you literally cannot read. You find it hard to imagine because it is not able to be imagined. There is no basis for any such imagining. It could be the entire text of The Da Vinci Code, the secret of the universe, the Brooklyn telephone book, who knows. It's not there.

Read the site fast and often enough, and you will read comments that are subsequently deleted.

So, information about deleted comments is possible to be determined, I (and others) have read these comments, no imagination necessary.

I'm glad you have found a level of participation that works for you - it is something that I struggle with as well.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:55 AM on March 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm glad you have found a level of participation that works for you.

I'll pray for you, too.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 9:57 AM on March 17, 2014


Sorry, that came across much nastier than I intended; I actually didn't mean for it to come across as nasty at all, but reading it back, yikes. Sorry.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 10:11 AM on March 17, 2014 [7 favorites]


In fact, I know conservative press and bloggers consider Metafilter a "liberal" site

Who wouldn't? It is a liberal site. That's why I come here, too. Let's either just set up a collection to buy out people's memberships and invite them to re-join with a TOC that explicitly says this is a liberal site and they have to play nice, or simply justify deletions on the basis that the comment or post was too conservative.

Again, 100% non snark here. Let's get rid of the pretense that it's framing or whatever. We would have avoided this rabbit hole of a meta and many others like it. It's a perpetual time suck cobra-versus-mongoose deathmatch between "silenced all my life" and "bless your heart" and we could finally end it if the FAQ is just updated to say, "yes, MeFi is a liberal site, and we'll put up with your conservative bullshit within certain parameters, but sometimes we'll just delete it." That is a reasonable policy for a liberal site.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 10:13 AM on March 17, 2014 [4 favorites]


I think it was a good deletion. I don't think poorly of inkypinky for making the comment, which seems to have been offered in earnest, even if it was an off-topic statement wrapped in flammable rhetorical devices. Those same devices can be signs of hesitation before wandering into difficult terrain, and in this case, I'm inclined to think of them that way, as I don't remember her throwing out similar flamebait before. I don't think this deletion requires a reconsideration of the general policy. That said, I'm glad MetaTalk offers us a chance to debate this from time to time.

Metafilter may tack liberal, but I think these same debates over what constitutes a bad deletion have shown the human, understandable limits of people who think of themselves as good liberals, or good socialists, or whatever. Everyone has blind spots. I don't exclude myself. Sometimes I respond more wrathfully and unreasonably to comments I disagree with than is strictly necessary. Those comments are sometimes deleted and are sometimes not. For my part, I'm trying to keep a cooler head, but if I were a person of color, or a woman, or if I were oppressed on any axis, really, then I'd hope I would be forgiven for having less patience for stuff I found hurtful.

On preview, I don't think "We are a liberal site and watch your step if you're conservative" makes a good addition to the FAQ or to the site documentation generally. That debate sounds to me like it should be in a separate MeTa.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 10:16 AM on March 17, 2014 [10 favorites]


Any public and anonymous forum that is going to heavily moderate and delete comments expressing misogyny, sexism, racism, homophobia, transphobia, is going to lean liberal. Its not a suprise or a smear to say that Metafilter is largely a liberal place.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 10:19 AM on March 17, 2014 [5 favorites]


Totally understandable, but the big problem with this is that the definition of "actual PUA folk" is not nearly universal, as spaltavian and Sticherbeast's comments have already shown. I would venture that their idea of, say, "dyed-in-the-wool MRA nonsense" and mine are not the same, and I imagine a lot of it has to do with the fact that they've never been on the receiving end of sexism while I've been dealing with its effect on basically every facet of my life for the past 30 years and change.

And I think that's the crux of this whole thread, right there. Because I'm a 47 year-old woman, who is furthermore living in the South, and I can assure you that I have also been on the receiving end of sexism all my life. And I would venture that my idea of "dyed-in-the-wool MRA nonsense" is quite different from yours. Which I think is fine, by the way.

The problem for me is when YOUR perception is taken to be gospel. That is where I feel we are right now on Metafilter (and cairdeas put it perfectly upthread).

As it stands now, any disagreement with the One True Acceptable Feminist Viewpoint is immediately assumed to be evidence of misogyny. The critical commenter is assumed to be male, if gender is unknown, and assumed to be aligned with MRA/PUA movements (which on MeFi these days is akin to being accused of being a communist sympathizer in the McCarthy era).

From the moment of dissent, the worst possible interpretation is applied to anything that commenter writes. He/she is accused of derailing, making a discussion 'all about the menz', and patronized as not understanding 'Feminism 101'.

This happens over and over again, and the folks who complain most about being tired of dealing with misogynistic comments are frequently, in my observation, those most guilty of the kind of hyperbolic and mean-spirited paraphrasing we are discussing in the next MetaTalk thread.

To forestall the inevitable slippery slope response--I do not feel, and I honestly don't think anyone in this thread feels that obviously trollish "Feminists should just shut up and make me a sandwich" nonsense should stand on the site. That is not what this discussion is about.
posted by misha at 10:23 AM on March 17, 2014 [15 favorites]


Let's either just set up a collection to buy out people's memberships and invite them to re-join with a TOC that explicitly says this is a liberal site and they have to play nice, or simply justify deletions on the basis that the comment or post was too conservative.

Let's do neither? I appreciate that you are saying this isn't snark, but there's a gigantic, unmissable gulf between "this site has a plurality of politically left-ish users" and "this site is officially and enforceably politically left".

Metafilter doesn't have a mission statement or anything resembling an official political position, and that's by design and is staying that way. The accumulation of a left-leaning tendency here is a matter of demographic chance, not any kind of active goal of what is still at its heart fundamentally a generalist site about neat stuff on the web; we're not changing that to The Lefty Political Site That Also Has Cats Sometimes.

yes, MeFi is a liberal site, and we'll put up with your conservative bullshit within certain parameters, but sometimes we'll just delete it

That's not even defacto moderation policy; it's certainly not going to become an explicit one.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:24 AM on March 17, 2014 [17 favorites]


Jumping in to say either (charitably) "Well I know a woman who really IS bossy!"

Heck, I would have welcomed a personal anecdote or two. It would have served the dual purpose of letting us know where the author formed his or her impression of the feminist movement, and fulfilled the promise of the “true story” statement. I hope if he or she does decide to rewrite the comment according to the mods's comments, that's something that gets included in the new version.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 10:25 AM on March 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


As it stands now, any disagreement with the One True Acceptable Feminist Viewpoint is immediately assumed to be evidence of misogyny.

You know, I've had many, many discussions here on the nuances of feminism, and I could not disagree with this statement harder if I tried with both hands for a fortnight. For starters, who is doing the assuming in your statement above? And what is the One True Acceptable Feminist Viewpoint, in your view?
posted by KathrynT at 10:28 AM on March 17, 2014 [17 favorites]


This happens over and over again, and the folks who complain most about being tired of dealing with misogynistic comments are frequently, in my observation, those most guilty of the kind of hyperbolic and mean-spirited paraphrasing we are discussing in the next MetaTalk thread.

I don't see why it's acceptable for you to say this now, but earlier in the thread you helped harangue nadawi to the point where she closed her account because she did not provide an itemized list of people who routinely post "MRA"-like comments. Either you get to make vague references to shadowy groups of people who post things, or you do not.
posted by jess at 10:30 AM on March 17, 2014 [26 favorites]


nadawi closed her account? fuck.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 10:32 AM on March 17, 2014 [21 favorites]


Nadawi's gone? That's really shit.
posted by tinkletown at 10:32 AM on March 17, 2014 [6 favorites]


I'm a Boston liberal, not a Portlandia liberal, with the hat tip to Cairdeas above. I don't feel silenced all my life here, but I do feel like my brand of liberalism is not the preferred house brand.

FWIW, although "Portlandia liberal" is a frivolous terminology, I think it's also inaccurate. Inasmuch as there is a "house brand", it's pretty much what you'd expect of a site with a majority American, urban or ex-urban (and exurban), white, male, [upper] middle-class, college-educated, more or less geeky in vocation or interests, broadly straight readership with probably a bulge towards people who were at college in the 90s.

I'd broadly say that it evens out on a kind of left-leaning egalitarianism, with libertarian sprinkles - suspicious of government but broadly in favor of social welfare, in favor of marriage equality and equality for gay people generally, supportive of women's right to control over their bodies and the broad feminist project, probably Democrat-leaning but not immune to disenchantment with the current administration, and so on. Also deeply conflicted about the Middle East and US foreign policy generally, well-intentioned but often short on lived experience on issues of concern to some minority groups, getting to grips with intersectionality but often feeling unfairly judged for things that are not our fault und so weiter.

That's not "Portlandia liberal" - or "social justice warrior", if we want to use the terminology being figleafed by the use of "Portlandia liberal". It's fairly straight-down-the-line liberal blogosphere. "Upworthy liberal", if you want to start a fight, or "generally somewhere between The New Republic and The Nation at any given moment liberal" if you want to class it up a bit. However, it's probably wiser to see individuals as individuals, since nobody, moderators included, is required to adhere even to a broad consensus.

Various forms of viewpoints represented as "Portlandia liberal/social justice warrior" are on one edge of that consensus, and various forms of "political correctness/feminist orthodoxy/liberal hypocrisy has ruined MetaFilter" arguments come from the opposing edge.
posted by running order squabble fest at 10:33 AM on March 17, 2014 [6 favorites]


there's a gigantic, unmissable gulf between "this site has a plurality of politically left-ish users" and "this site is officially and enforceable politically left".

I really appreciate you saying that, cortex, but I think the fact that people could actually think that that was a feasible policy goes a long way towards demonstrating why there are perceptions of viewpoint bias. Because some people clearly do view Metafilter as a "liberal site where conservatives have a higher bar," and if you're even the slightest bit conservative (which, I'll note, is very different here than the rest of the world), you can't help but notice people's opinions in that direction. And to a certain extent, "Be careful, read the room" on a plurality left-ish site is functionally indistinguishable from the moderation on an officially politically left site telling conservative users to "play nice."

On preview: fuck, nadawi closed her account? That is a serious loss.
posted by corb at 10:33 AM on March 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


Aw no really? If you're reading I hope you come back soon nadawi.
posted by billiebee at 10:34 AM on March 17, 2014 [14 favorites]


Hopefully just a short break, she left a note basically saying she just wanted to step away to not get into it in here.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:35 AM on March 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


Admiral Haddock: " I honestly think the site would function better if people would just get together and just vote up Portlandia liberalism as the official viewpoint of the site. (Like, actual honesty, not snark honesty.) Replacing the unofficial shared perspective of, I think, the large plurality, if not the large majority, with an official viewpoint would set a baseline of participation and expectations."

The user base leans left, of course, but I think it's a lot more nuanced than can be adequately described as being dominated by a plurality of "Portlandia liberals." Wade into any thread about domestic surveillance, the Affordable Care Act, or even gun control, and you'll see plenty of heterodoxy from people who describe themselves progressive or liberal. The median opinion will be on the left side, of course, but I think trying to narrow the site's overall ideology down to a single faction within a single ideology is the height of folly.

(For simplicity's sake, I'm limiting the political spectrum here to the left/right continuum as typically understood in the U.S. -- obviously, something like universal healthcare would hardly be seen as liberal in many other countries, and the status quo on U.S. "gun control" would be seen as quite far to the right in many other countries as well.)

Admiral Haddock: " There are liberal sites on the internet, and there are conservative sites on the internet. We don't have a particularly large conservative userbase, and their voices are not well received (either because we don't like them, or because they don't like us, or we just don't want another shitstorm or whatever)."

I understand why people on the other side sometimes feel cornered or piled-on from time to time. Some of this derives from the simple mathematics of being marginalized, but I have seen the mods step in and delete some of the repetitive pile-on comments (some of my own, in fact) in an effort to try to level the playing field a bit. If it is a personal attack, it also gets deleted in almost all cases -- again, I've been on the wrong side of this one a few times.

Still, you can't expect to put out opinions far away from the median perspective and not get significant opposition, and as long as the opposition is on topic and not personal attacks, I don't see the problem. Minority viewpoints consisting of well-reasoned arguments tend to do better than comments that simply assert without evidence that the liberal consensus is wrong. Yes, this is an additional bar to clear for those holding minority viewpoints, but that's how things have worked since the dawn of time. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. You're free to have an opinion, and free to express it, but that freedom needs to be balanced against the desire of everyone else to not have threads devolve into free-for-all Yuh-Huh v. Nuh-Uh nonsense.

Ultimately, a line does have to be drawn, and I certainly think the status quo of letting everyone participate but having moderators get involved if one minority viewpoint is turding up the punch bowl is better than anything involving setting an official site ideology, but also better than simply letting anyone post what they want without being asked to bring a legitimate argument to the table.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:36 AM on March 17, 2014 [3 favorites]


Crap, I was afraid that might happen. nadawi is a great member, and I'm really sad about this.
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:36 AM on March 17, 2014 [6 favorites]


misha: This happens over and over again, and the folks who complain most about being tired of dealing with misogynistic comments are frequently, in my observation, those most guilty of the kind of hyperbolic and mean-spirited paraphrasing we are discussing in the next MetaTalk thread.

Can you provide a list of these people? Memail is fine.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:38 AM on March 17, 2014 [3 favorites]


Dammit. :( I hope it's a short break, too.
posted by zarq at 10:39 AM on March 17, 2014


Do we really need to start another MeTa about "There are people here who..." and "Give us a list"?
posted by Etrigan at 10:41 AM on March 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


I can imagine a forum where people can express and respond to "absolutely terrible" opinions peacefully and unemotionally, but I haven't encountered one.

I remember Fark doing a good job in some threads. Let's set aside sexism/hate for a second and say someone posted that they'd like to end welfare, defund social security and cancel food stamps.

Here, there would be a righteous pile-on with personal stories of survival in poverty, and many one-line zingers, all with 50 favourites from basically the same set of accounts. Because we value and relish the righteous pile-on.

On Fark, you'd get a few negative responses, but for the most part the conversation would just move on.

Of course, there are certain topics that never seem to come up on Fark... and honestly I hardly visit that site anymore, so maybe I'm wrong.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 10:42 AM on March 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


I hope nadawi is okay. She's an excellent contributor. If stepping away temporarily is what she needs to do for herself, then that's what she needs to do.
posted by Sticherbeast at 10:44 AM on March 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


To forestall the inevitable slippery slope response--I do not feel, and I honestly don't think anyone in this thread feels that obviously trollish "Feminists should just shut up and make me a sandwich" nonsense should stand on the site. That is not what this discussion is about.

This. And it's a bummer it needs to be said, but there you have it. It isn't that MetaFilter skews left. It's that it skews so hard to the left that reasonably mainstream leftist positions get lumped in with truly odious attitudes. And many of those whose viewpoint is being well represented and modded for don't see this as a troubling development.

That's not even defacto moderation policy; it's certainly not going to become an explicit one.

You spelled de jure wrong.

Dude, if dozens of people are saying, thoughtfully, that important signal is getting lost because the site's noise filter is miscalibrated, and you describe the possibility of attending to that concern as "swimming in bile", then I'd submit that you're not really interested in fostering real discussion on the site. So put it in the FAQ already and we can all move on.
posted by R. Schlock at 10:47 AM on March 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


divined by radio: Totally understandable, but the big problem with this is that the definition of "actual PUA folk" is not nearly universal, as spaltavian and Sticherbeast's comments have already shown. I would venture that their idea of, say, "dyed-in-the-wool MRA nonsense" and mine are not the same, and I imagine a lot of it has to do with the fact that they've never been on the receiving end of sexism while I've been dealing with its effect on basically every facet of my life for the past 30 years and change.

MRA/PUA nonsense is often much, much harder -- even dangerous -- for women to ignore. So while it's true that [some] women can be much more attuned to picking up on it, and it may ring a tiny percentage of false alarms, a) it's safer to accidentally sound a false alarm than fail to sound a real one, and b) we're often accused of lying and/or exaggerating no matter what, simply by virtue of the fact that sexist behavior is often completely invisible to [some] men. Ban hammer aside, the publication of an x-ist MeFite list would be immediately met with a roar of "They're/we're/I'm not x-ist!" But there's a reason that the overwhelming majority of the kind of people who regularly call the existence of x-ist attitudes into question are the very same people who've never been on the receiving end of x-ism, y'know?

If we made a list of x-ist things people said, those people would immediately begin scouring the list in order to seize upon something they could/would insist is simply not worthy of objection on x-ist grounds. At that point, the list, which was originally created in response to a request for proof that those people actually did say those things, immediately becomes proof of the opposite: Unless or until we can all agree that what was listed was Really That Bad, the list creators are just overreacting, their opinion deserving of dismissal.

Wait, what? I advanced no definition of MRA whatsoever, and I object to the implication that I was asking for a list so I could pick it apart or that I doubt "existence of x-ist attitudes". Since you're going to distort my comment, let's look at what I actually said:

I'm certainly not asking for a list or any which hunt; but could someone link to recent threads that contained MRA stuff? I don't see a lot of stuff that I would call dyed-in-the-wool MRA nonsense and I want to know if I'm missing it/skipping those threads/have a different (and possibly incomplete) definition of MRA.

How much more caveated did that need to be to avoid being impugned in this manner? I guess this makes cairdeas' point but that certainly wasn't my intention in asking an honest question.
posted by spaltavian at 10:48 AM on March 17, 2014 [4 favorites]


's that it skews so hard to the left that reasonably mainstream leftist positions get lumped in with truly odious attitudes.

What specifically are you talking about?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 10:48 AM on March 17, 2014


Welcome to the thread. You might want to catch up before you wade in.
posted by R. Schlock at 10:49 AM on March 17, 2014


Don't be a jerk.

Seriously, what specifically are you talking about?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 10:50 AM on March 17, 2014


misha: "As it stands now, any disagreement with the One True Acceptable Feminist Viewpoint is immediately assumed to be evidence of misogyny.

Horseshit. First of all, there is no "One True Acceptable Feminist Viewpoint." None. There are a bunch of different types of feminists on metafilter, some very well spoken and thoughtful about the subject, and many of them disagree with each other about various aspects of feminism. I consider myself a feminist and have disagreed with folks here about some aspects of feminism, and have not been tagged a misogynist.

I realize that perhaps this is just your schtick, but you tend to dip into hyperbole and sweeping generalizations about this community's users on this subject, and I think it's wholly unfounded. Back in September you said that you didn't think that straw-man feminists who hated men really existed until you came to this site. Which I thought was pretty ridiculous at the time, and still do. People can be passionate about a subject and realistic about sexism they've personally experienced without being cast as ridiculous caricatures.
posted by zarq at 10:54 AM on March 17, 2014 [22 favorites]


Worth noting R Schlock's earlier comment:

Your mistake is in assuming that the purpose of MetaFilter is good conversation. It's actually transformed itself into a holding pen for the smug, self-congratulatory and politically correct. Often, it can be helpful if you've been the victim of Actual Oppression and can speak coherently about that in a way that clearly reaffirms what the squishy middle of the site's constituency already knew.

Deletions used to make me angry. It's hard to get muzzled by the moderators of a community you've invested in, especially when you've been trying to make yourself understood about something that matters to you. These days, though, I'm actually grateful for a deletion. It's like someone opened a window, reminded me that there's fresh air and open space outside.


He's playing MetaFilter with a different goal in mind than, I would imagine, most members, although he is certainly not playing it alone.
posted by running order squabble fest at 10:55 AM on March 17, 2014 [5 favorites]


Not being a jerk. This is a thread in which a bunch of members have described their growing concern that reasonable opinions that are not in step with the majority on a variety of topics including but not limited to: gender-politics, trans issues, and NSA spying are being alternately shouted down by a larger number of participants who disagree and, too frequently, memory-holed by the moderators.

Don't make us hold your hand. Get up to speed if you want to be heard and to critique.
posted by R. Schlock at 10:55 AM on March 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


This is a thread in which a bunch of members have described their growing concern that reasonable opinions that are not in step with the majority on a variety of topics including but not limited to: gender-politics, trans issues, and NSA spying are being alternately shouted down by a larger number of participants who disagree and, too frequently, memory-holed by the moderators.

They've stated that they HAVE concerns. I don't know that they've described those concerns. What "reasonable opinions" are being "shouted down" and "memory-holed," exactly?
posted by KathrynT at 10:57 AM on March 17, 2014 [11 favorites]


Don't make us hold your hand. Get up to speed if you want to be heard and to critique.

Again, don't be a jerk.

Again, I don't give a fuck about anyone's concern, I'm asking what specifically are you referring to when you say "it skews so hard to the left that reasonably mainstream leftist positions get lumped in with truly odious attitudes".

Like, specifically, what are you talking about? Don't make me hold your hand.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 10:59 AM on March 17, 2014


I don't think R. Schlock has any intention of good-faith engagement with a bunch of smug whatever-the-fuck-we-ares - why would they? If I really thought that this place were the place R. Schlock described above, I sure as fuck wouldn't waste any more time in this thread, good faith or no.
posted by rtha at 11:03 AM on March 17, 2014


Not being a jerk.

You actually kind of are, yes. In service I guess of what you feel are things that need to be said, but your whole approach this last little bit has seemed like that of someone who mostly is looking for a fight. I don't know if maybe a fight is what you consider ideal discourse, and that's your prerogative at a personal level, but if you're not trying to seem like you're spoiling for a brawl then you are failing to match your intent to your execution.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:05 AM on March 17, 2014 [4 favorites]


I want to clarify I was not responding to nadawi but to divined by radio and misha.

I feel their comments remove from women agency to change their circumstances-- as if oppressed people are preoccupied with absorbing/sharing/explaining oppression on the internet.

We do a lot of things on the internet. That point gets lost sometimes on Metafilter in general.

One thing we do is t.rO!! to subvert these people where they gather.

You do not hear about it because it's done in obscure corners and no one talks about it openly and it's not on Reddit.

I apologize if my paraphrasing gets your message wrong.
posted by vincele at 11:05 AM on March 17, 2014


spaltavian, my sincere apologies. I definitely could have worded and spaced my comment much better to separate you and Sticherbeast out from the rest of it, and I'm sorry for coming across poorly/insultingly.

I wasn't trying to hold you up as representatives of people who want lists just to pick them apart, just as examples of people whose definition of MRA &c. is extremely likely to diverge from mine, inherently, by virtue of the fact that we live as different genders and that has resulted in us having different lived experiences.

But that you expressed a desire for specific examples of ostensibly MRA-friendly threads/comments indicated to me that our definitions must be (are) different, because I can think of at least a dozen off the top of my head, most of which I have bookmarked because they contain righteous smackdowns of egregiously sexist beliefs. And that's no knock on you for not picking up on those things like I do; obviously, even if I did make a list of all the threads I immediately thought of as examples, there's not any kind of guarantee that you'd find even a hint of agreement with me in any of them. Which would defeat the entire purpose, I think. Hopefully that makes a little more sense. Again, my apologies for what probably seemed like tarring you with the same brush.

And it probably goes without saying that I think nadawi's absence is the absolute worst, and I hope she comes back soon -- one of my favorite humans in the history of ever, bar none.
posted by divined by radio at 11:06 AM on March 17, 2014


That bloody Pycon thread as a source of MRA-material... that thread and the MeTa spawned by it is one I occasionally see as being repositioned as things like "a thread that is full of sexism, misogyny and Men's rights apologia" and "the resulting high-pitched humming among some of our brethren was, it seems pretty clear, informed by status anxiety".

Was it completely free of all sexism? I don't think so. But it was a thread where any disagreement, however slight, however much it was couched in terms of general support with specific concerns, was claimed to be a source of misogyny and MRA behaviour.

And misha's not wrong that this happens a fair bit, from users who will slot you in as 'antagonist' for the duration and aggressively misread anything else you write because you didn't offer unqualified support right off the bat. Which is made worse by this often happening in threads like the aedison thread and Pycon and the like where it's a breaking news story and the users only have a small part of the picture and so rampant speculation begets outrage at other people's perspectives begets all sorts of destructive posting behaviours.

The thing being, of course, that there is pointed sexism and racism and other bigoted behaviour thrown around at times, which when noticed early enough and blatant enough gets deleted, but when it's the same folks doing their thing in the same threads it's not encouraging, to put it mildly. So it's not like Metafilter is free of negative attitudes and biases that are corrosive, or of anger-making hobbyhorses.

But then someone will characterise Metafilter as rife with MRA, red-pill, full-on misogyny, and then the idea that if you make that claim, asking for any form of evidence to support it is negative behaviour, and while specific call-outs rarely go well it also seems unfair to the other users and even the mods to make it out that the site has a sizeable misogynistic presence that is just accepted...

It comes back to large amounts of misreading and hyperbole, both having a negative effect, but also being rarely acknowledged as taking place. If your response is solid, it shouldn't require misrepresenting what you're replying to in such an egregious fashion. It would be very helpful to try and bear that and mind.
posted by gadge emeritus at 11:07 AM on March 17, 2014 [5 favorites]


we're not changing that to The Lefty Political Site That Also Has Cats Sometimes.

I know we like to say it's a place for everyone, but as a user, I don't feel that's the reality. And again, my problem with being the "Lefty Political Site That Also Has Cats Sometimes" is not that I'm not a liberal, it's that I don't like cats. Or schmoopy, in general, which I view as part and parcel of my personal brand of Boston liberalism; I'm as liberal as most here, but I don't want to hear about anyone's feelings. There are just so many feels here clamoring for attention and validation. That's why I tend to hang around AskMe; there's important answering work to be done! I r srs bsns.

I've said before in other threads, Metafilter is really the only site I visit on the internet other than news (and the sites I visit when linked from here). I'm not going anywhere. But I think we'd all have a better time if we just fessed up to being a liberal site. Fired up! Let's do this and stop having these metas.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 11:08 AM on March 17, 2014 [10 favorites]


vincele: "t.rO!!"

vincele: ""di ve r isty as g...E n 0 c!D e""

vincele: "t ra w 11 in g"

vincele: "di ve r isty as j en0c!d e""

vincele: ""actual m/R @/p. U .@ people""

vincele, this is making your comments hard to read. Why are you doing it?
posted by zarq at 11:11 AM on March 17, 2014 [24 favorites]


You actually kind of are, yes.

Cortex, in all respect, rather than policing my tone (and not, I note, that of the several other members who are stirring the pot), why don't you and the mods huddle and come up with a coherent and good-faith reply to cairdeas's thoughtful comment? Many of us have found this a clarifying description of our experiences on MetaFilter these days. Is she wrong? Or are the moderation and community-fostering practices she observes, in fact, an intentional feature of the site?
posted by R. Schlock at 11:14 AM on March 17, 2014 [7 favorites]


Is it stirring the pot to ask someone for specifics when they make broad generalizations about this site?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 11:15 AM on March 17, 2014


But then someone will characterise Metafilter as rife with MRA, red-pill, full-on misogyny, and then the idea that if you make that claim, asking for any form of evidence to support it is negative behaviour, and while specific call-outs rarely go well it also seems unfair to the other users and even the mods to make it out that the site has a sizeable misogynistic presence that is just accepted...

Nobody has done that, I think. Nadawi, who came closest, said:

we absolutely have mra dudes here. i do think some mefites have a trigger finger in pointing them out and can get a bit scattershot - but there are people who support pua, who participate over in reddit's mra communities, and espouse those beliefs here.

And then got hassled until she closed her account. God knows what would have happened if she'd characterized Metafilter as rife with MRA, red-pill, full-on misogyny.
posted by running order squabble fest at 11:17 AM on March 17, 2014 [10 favorites]


Late to the party but IMHO it was a good deletion. I say that because I actually checked back in on that thread and commented in it and I NEVER do that in women's issues threads, despite being a strident feminist, because I just don't like getting into fights on the internet and it seems like some people just can't resist turning those threads into cage matches.

It was nice for a while that it was actually a pretty interesting and balanced thread. I appreciated the way different women were coming forward to talk about how they did or didn't have experiences with the word "bossy" (and parents describing their observations about their children). It wasn't full of frothy controversy, but it wasn't an echo chamber either.

The deleted comment, as it was originally worded, would have been misread as a troll by many participants and sparked an angry 200-comment derail about what the REAL problem with feminism is and I woulda just been out like trout.
posted by annekate at 11:19 AM on March 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


I appreciate your clarification, divined by radio. I can't argue that, as man, I am less and differently affected by MRA stuff. However, I am pretty familiar with a lot of the vile MRA stuff, as well as the less over the top but still dickish "just sayin'" stuff. I can't say I see a lot of it, and I see none of it that isn't answered to some degree. But I also read more political and media posts than SJ-type posts, so when I offered that "I'm missing it/skipping those threads", I was being sincere.
posted by spaltavian at 11:20 AM on March 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


And then got hassled until she closed her account.

Ah, you noticed the irony of people constantly referencing McCarthyism driving one of our better members away, too? If MetaFilter has a problem it's not that there are too many feminists.....
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:29 AM on March 17, 2014 [4 favorites]


come up with a coherent and good-faith reply to cairdeas's thoughtful comment?

My reply would be, ok, given, arguendo, that metafilter really is a holding pen with a window separating you from the fresh, green meadow on the other side, what do you propose to do? What would be a solution? What would make you feel like you are rolling in the daisies in that meadow? Be specific here, not just "less bias."
posted by octobersurprise at 11:29 AM on March 17, 2014 [4 favorites]


why don't you and the mods huddle and come up with a coherent and good-faith reply to cairdeas's thoughtful comment?

I'm not gonna call an all-hands to form a response to a metatalk comment, but I can tell you my personal take on it: I think cairdeas' comment is a mix of reasonable observations about some of the dynamics on the site and some pretty problematic framing, overstatement, and unjustifed speculation about the motives and degree of those dynamics.

Like, that there's a crappy friction that comes up trying to balance the competing forces of keeping a take-on-all-comers situation from derailing a thread and trying to keep someone who has reasonable intentions feeling capable of participating even when there's strong opposition to their argument or position? Absolutely. It's a tough thing. And we've talked about it a ton as a community, and as moderators are constantly trying to find a decent balance that's neither granting carte blanche to pile-ons nor asking the userbase to place outlier opinions on a pedestal where strong collective disagreement isn't allowed to be voiced because it might alienate someone.

There's not a quick, clean solution to that problem, much as folks sometimes want to suggest there is. Not on a site that discursively resembles Metafilter. If someone wants a very different site, that's fine but they'll have to go find it because we're neither going to ban unpopular positions nor ban responses to them, and the middle ground that's left involves trying to navigate the dynamics of those opinions being discussed based on actual crowd dynamics and the specifics of the case.

"Portlandia Liberal" is in general a terrible place to start the whole argument from. It's simultaneously vague and dismissive and sidesteps unreasonably the practical fact that even in the context of the ideological tendencies in the userbase—even, that is, in the subset of the userbase that actually would identify on multiple points with the notional median viewpoint on some of the major issues—there's a ton of variation from person to person and regular arguments on various sides of what are often raised, and by cairdeas' comment again put out there, as some canonical core belief system.

Like, I don't want to fisk her comment line by line. There's parts of it I agree with and parts of it I don't, and more to the point both sides of that are composed of stuff that has come up in, and been discussed by mods and the community in, other metatalk threads before on a whole bunch of occasions. This is not some sort of revelation that demands a specific and novel response.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:36 AM on March 17, 2014 [27 favorites]


What would make you feel like you are rolling in the daisies in that meadow?

1) Less of a hard line on "derails." Sometimes conversation goes in different places, and sometimes multiple people in long threads can even have simultaneous different conversations. If a discussion is a possible subsection of discussion of the FPP, it should be allowed to stand, not deleted because it's not the thing that the first twenty posters chose to talk about.

2) An absolute bar to namecalling and grudgefights on the blue, which includes things like "You're just trolling" or other things which properly belong in MeTa, as well as "This is another example of your [insert shitty thing here]". If you think a user needs calling out for what you think is them being shitty, then it needs to be done on MeTa, not passive aggressively, or aggressive aggressively, on the blue.
posted by corb at 11:37 AM on March 17, 2014 [12 favorites]


And then got hassled until she closed her account. God knows what would have happened if she'd characterized Metafilter as rife with MRA, red-pill, full-on misogyny.

nadawi wasn't the only one, though she was more definitive than most. But, according to cortex,

she left a note basically saying she just wanted to step away to not get into it in here

which doesn't sound like she was hassled off the site as more that she stepped away for awhile to cool off.

Of course, we don't have much more than a brief note paraphrased by a mod to go on, so really making definitive statements about why nadawi pushed the button is pretty much just reinforcing my comment.

And I, too, value her as a commenter, and hope she returns, as I think she's a net good for the site.
posted by gadge emeritus at 11:38 AM on March 17, 2014


And then got hassled until she closed her account.

Bullshit.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:42 AM on March 17, 2014 [15 favorites]


Yeah, trying to guilt other people into your viewpoint by using another member's closing of their account (for different reasons) as ammunition is a pretty bullshit move.
posted by dazed_one at 11:45 AM on March 17, 2014 [19 favorites]


vincele, this is making your comments hard to read. Why are you doing it?

To prevent the people looking for my friend from finding those keywords in these comments.

The number of favorites your comment got tells me that I am talking about things that people in this thread don't know about-- docksing as retribution to trawlling... beyond Reddit. The discussion is going in a different direction anyway. I am sorry for the confusion. I was not trying to be coy or annoying.
posted by vincele at 11:46 AM on March 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


What's stifling and claustrophobic to some folks is the bare minimum of civility to others.

Some of us have to deal with people "challenging" our perspectives in our daily lives in ways we have no ability to avoid. Some of us don't find that to be stimulating or interesting -- we find it to be dehumanizing, exhausting, and discouraging. We don't enjoy arguing over whether or not it's acceptable to make transphobic jokes, or whether or not women should be okay with having strangers comment on their appearance, or any number of other things. So when we come and participate on a website like this one in our free time, we'd prefer not to have to fight those battles. We'd like to just have a conversation about some cool stuff on the internet with other folks and not be randomly clotheslined by awfulness.

Obviously, not everyone here agrees as to what constitutes "awfulness" -- threads here on MetaTalk pretty regularly make that clear. I don't envy the job of making that kind of call, from a moderation perspective. But if I had to make an explicit choice between, say, "Spirited argument peppered with random bursts of misogyny" and "Reliably a place that won't make me feel like other users think I'm less than human," I am personally going to pick the latter.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 11:52 AM on March 17, 2014 [36 favorites]


Yeah, trying to guilt other people into your viewpoint by using another member's closing of their account (for different reasons) as ammunition is a pretty bullshit move.


No, it's not "ammunition," it's a fact: Metafilter is fucking toxic for women, trans folks, etc, and the treatment of Nadawi in this thread is more than ample evidence of this. It's goddamn hilarious that the usual suspects can always, always, drop by threads and talk about "Portlandia liberals" and mod cabals and nobody hammers them over and over for evidence, but if someone points out the undeniably true fact that this site is swimming in anti-feminist mens rights dudes, there is a groundswell of opposition and talk of witch hunts and so forth, to the point where one of our best members has to take a break simply because she committed the crime of pointing out that Metafilter really does not do well when talking about women.
posted by Frobenius Twist at 11:52 AM on March 17, 2014 [6 favorites]


this site is swimming in anti-feminist mens rights dudes

cite please
posted by sweet mister at 11:56 AM on March 17, 2014 [4 favorites]


These are some of the things that attracted me to Metafilter as a lurker. For the most part, (and I admit to not doing a close reading of every single thread) most users seemed to:
  • Not automatically dump on people coming from backgrounds of systemic disadvantage - both people they were discussing from the FPP’s and other users (and try to pass it off as a joke it it went badly)
  • Not automatically dump on people coming from cultures other than their own, both people they were discussing from the FPP’s and other users
  • Be interested in a non-prurient way in the world outside their own lived experiences, and not assume that everyone else's lived experiences to date had been the same as their own
  • Recognize when people were acting out of privilege, both themselves and people they were discussing from the FPP’s
  • Criticize corruption and abuse among those in positions of power and responsibility when there was reason to believe those actions had taken place, not ONLY because of their political affiliation
  • Examine why they agreed or disagreed with, or objected to something, and make some kind of effort to express themselves in a civil manner even when they disagreed
  • Do a fairly good job of being hilarious and brilliantly witty without being mean-spirited or too personal
These are things that made it really stand out from places like FARK and Reddit, where you have to dig through fifty feet of pissing contests and lowest-common-denominator-offs to get to anything worth spending actual time on.

If these are qualities that happen to align with liberal politics, OK. But I’ve been lucky enough to know plenty of old-fashioned Republican ladies and gentlemen in my lifetime who expressed themselves the same way, and who would have very much enjoyed the same discussions that I pored over as a lurker.

From what I’ve been reading lately, I gather that MeFi wasn’t always that way, and the links that have been posted in this thread and another MeTa I was involved in lately show me that yeah, it used to be more like the shouty misogynist sinkholes elsewhere on the Internet, so I think the mods deserve a huge hand for the work they’ve done and continue to do.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 11:57 AM on March 17, 2014 [15 favorites]


I believe the MRA/PUA thing is a problem on MetaFilter about as much as I think Al Qaeda is a problem in the US, and in pretty much the same ways.

There seems to be some who scour the internet for awful, misogynist/sexist behavior, and then bring that fight back here. I don’t know why, because the light’s better? If you have a problem with the way people act on Reddit, or wherever, go fight with those people, or don’t visit those sites.
posted by bongo_x at 11:58 AM on March 17, 2014 [3 favorites]


Metafilter is fucking toxic for women, trans folks, etc

I'm not any of those, so I acknowledge my knapsack before I begin.

That said, I think if MetaFilter is toxic for any group in particular, it is so much less toxic than damned near anywhere else that to point out its toxicity is to be met with incredulous surprise, and probably defensiveness you could justifiably perceive as closing ranks.

That's not what it is, though.
posted by Mooski at 11:58 AM on March 17, 2014 [5 favorites]


Nadawi,

If you are still reading this, I want to sincerely apologize to you. You are right that you were not the one who originally brought up the MRA/PUA derail. You just said that they were here on Mefi. You just disagreed with me, and that is a,perfectly valid opinion for you to hold.

My comment (okay, nadawi, who are they?) was an off-the-cuff and knee-jerky response and I should not have made it. LobsterMitten wisely pointed out why. I despise witch-hunts and when in the past I have made contrary assertions about the userbase here, what I said to you is akin to what has been said to me. I didn't like it when it happened to me, either.

Thing is, being on the other side is no excuse for my behavior. If anything, knowing how it feels to be subjected to scrutiny should have made me shy away from doing the same to you. I am disappointed in myself for choosing to engage with you the way I did.

It doesn't ultimately matter, anyway, WHY I commented as I did. It was just the wrong thing to do. My thoughtlessness caused you pain, and I am deeply sorry for that.

I planned to Mefimail you to say all this to you personally. I was typing out my apology when I saw the comments that you pushed the button. I certainly understand why you felt the need to escape the scrutiny I foisted on you with my careless words. I am posting this here just to let you know I sincerely regret my part in your leaving and take full responsibility for my rash and unconsidered words. I hope you decide to come back to the site.
posted by misha at 11:59 AM on March 17, 2014 [19 favorites]


Yes, claiming that Metafilter is "fucking toxic" seems to be fucking hyperbole and not helpful to the discussion at all.
posted by dazed_one at 12:00 PM on March 17, 2014 [16 favorites]


Yeah, trying to guilt other people into your viewpoint by using another member's closing of their account (for different reasons) as ammunition is a pretty bullshit move.

Really? You don't think that account closing might be due to the amount of grief she got in this thread over her comment? Maybe even a little? That's... a very convenient perspective.

I don't really care what viewpoint you ascribe to, but reading this thread and claiming that there was not a pattern of attack on nadai is really disingenuous, especially considering the people in that attack who have been asserting that there is an evil group of leftists (and maybe feminists) who are abusing them.
posted by GenjiandProust at 12:00 PM on March 17, 2014 [5 favorites]


I was the first person to say "McCarthyism," and I'm sorry, but. Nadawi should not have had to -- and I never expected her to -- name names, as it were, because that obviously creates a situation where either users feel unfairly targeted (and are) or where users know damn well they've been fairly targeted and then set out to make life harder for the person who calls them out on their bullshit (I guess there's also the remote likelihood of a supervillain origin scenario wherein a person is unfairly targeted and then sets out to make life, etc., but that sounds a little outlandish and generally falls outside the scope of this anyhow). But it is an issue, to me, to imply that They Walk Among Us as a way of settling an argument. You can neither prove nor disprove such a thing without evidence, which is fine in some cases but less great when it's deployed as a counterpoint. All the person on the other side of that (me, in this instance, who I assure you is neither a PUA nor an MRA) can do is be all like, "Well, okay, you're right, I guess, because of reasons," which I feel like is not that awesome, really.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 12:05 PM on March 17, 2014 [4 favorites]


Really? You don't think that account closing might be due to the amount of grief she got in this thread over her comment? Maybe even a little? That's... a very convenient perspective.

No, I'm just trying not to make assumptions about someone's closing of their account for the sake of supporting a certain side in a discussion. The note cortex said she left said she departed because "she just wanted to step away to not get into it in here".
posted by dazed_one at 12:07 PM on March 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


It's goddamn hilarious that the usual suspects can always, always, drop by threads and talk about "Portlandia liberals" and mod cabals and nobody hammers them over and over for evidence, but if someone points out the undeniably true fact that this site is swimming in anti-feminist mens rights dudes

Well this seems like an unresolvable seesaw of a statement. Either casting vague aspersions about groups of quantum commenters is helpful, or it isn't.

As far as I can tell the truth is that the site has gotten too big for there even to be "crowds" that control threads on particular subjects. Each thread now is basically reaching into the userbase mass and plucking out a random handful of commenters. Lately I've been pretty surprised to see how some threads have gone, because the group of people commenting have been totally different from the quote unquote usual suspects.

There is a certain freedom in realizing that it's all beyond your influence.
posted by furiousthought at 12:11 PM on March 17, 2014


> claiming that Metafilter is "fucking toxic" seems to be fucking hyperbole and not helpful to the discussion at all.

Disagree. Aside from "fucking", I already stated pretty boldly that I often find it toxic.
posted by kalessin at 12:12 PM on March 17, 2014 [5 favorites]


(And as for naming specific members in this thread? I would never do that, and I'm not surprised that other people are as reluctant as I am. All of the folks I can think of have either been banned from the site, or are long-time members who have mixed it up with me personally here on MetaTalk in the past. I'm not interested in getting into a fight with other users and I'm not interested in being hassled. Plus, it wouldn't be anyone the mods aren't already aware of. So what's the point, other than giving us something else to fight about?)
posted by Narrative Priorities at 12:13 PM on March 17, 2014


Okay, cortex. I get that you think her "framing" was problematic and that "Portlandia Liberal" is a poor starting point for discussion. Beyond that, your reply is sort of weirdly doublespeakey and I'm having a hard time parsing it.

To summarize my own position: I think it'd be really helpful if, as a moderation policy, there was a clear distinction between sins of tone and sins of content. Tone should be policed fairly across the board. If hyperbole and generalization are fighty from the soft-left, then it should be seen as equally fighty from the hard left. Just because the room is nodding along with you doesn't mean you're not bullying someone who's just trying to have a conversation.

Second, there should be a clear statement of what sorts of speech are considered substantively out of bounds. Doesn't have to be the Treaty of Westphalia. But an unambiguous statement: "Anti-feminist, transphobic and otherwise hateful speech are not welcome on MetaFilter and will be summarily deleted" with a link to a clear definition of those kinds of speech would go a long way, I think. It'd let those who feel oppressed on the site know that their perspective was actively supported here. And for those who might trip over their toes, it'd provide a clear and objective redline.

I honestly don't care if MetaFilter wants to transform itself into an explicitly safe space. I'd probably comment less, to be sure. But when I did contribute, I wouldn't worry that someone was going to jump all over me for being out of step with the values of the site. The ready criticism that silenced contributors are doing a bad job of "reading the room" is dangerously vague and subjective. What's troubling, I think, is the apparent veneer of free-discourse laid over an implicit, content-based moderation policy. Just be honest about what you're doing here and what sort of speech you welcome on MetaFilter.
posted by R. Schlock at 12:14 PM on March 17, 2014 [7 favorites]


> unresolvable seesaw of a statement

To me it's only unresolvable if you disagree with the statement being undeniably true. In my personal experience, I have enough experiences that I cannot in good conscience disagree with the statement being undeniably true.

I get that there are folks here (a majority, it seems) who feel that my experience is not true or at least that my experience is not true enough for them. And I get that that's where the rub is. But I think that my experience gets to stand, because I'm the one experiencing and remembering it (and at times reliving it).
posted by kalessin at 12:14 PM on March 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


Disagree. Aside from "fucking", I already stated pretty boldly that I often find it toxic.
posted by kalessin at 3:12 PM on March 17 [+] [!]


Fair enough. I suppose I find metafilter much less toxic than many other places on the web with a similar size user base and I use that as my yardstick to measure toxicity.
posted by dazed_one at 12:14 PM on March 17, 2014


I think that those of us who find Metafilter occasionally or frequently toxic have articulated pretty clearly that we understand that Metafilter, even so, often stands out as better than the alternatives. Which is one of the reasons I personally have so far resolved to stay, to be sure. But even knowing that, it doesn't cause me not to want to make Metafilter even LESS toxic.
posted by kalessin at 12:16 PM on March 17, 2014 [17 favorites]


To me it's only unresolvable if you disagree with the statement being undeniably true. In my personal experience, I have enough experiences that I cannot in good conscience disagree with the statement being undeniably true.

I think there are some people that definitely have issues but I have not seen a straight-up MRA show up here in years and they were roughly handled then. I am pretty sure if one did show up, we'd have a 500-comment Metatalk thread about it, so I'm not too sure I'm missing anything. On the other hand I don't read Reddit so if people are cross-referencing users then I am unaware of any of that.
posted by furiousthought at 12:19 PM on March 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


I agree, Kalessin. Making a place less toxic is a thing that everyone should aim for. IMO, using expressions like "fucking toxic" in a discussion is pretty polarizing talk and more likely to raise the temperature than to keep things calm. That's why I called it unnecessary hyperbole.
posted by dazed_one at 12:20 PM on March 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


R. Schlock: " Second, there should be a clear statement of what sorts of speech are considered substantively out of bounds. Doesn't have to be the Treaty of Westphalia. But an unambiguous statement: "Anti-feminist, transphobic and otherwise hateful speech are not welcome on MetaFilter and will be summarily deleted" with a link to a clear definition of those kinds of speech would go a long way, I think. It'd let those who feel oppressed on the site know that their perspective was actively supported here. And for those who might trip over their toes, it'd provide a clear and objective redline. "

This is what the FAQ currently says:
Why was my MetaFilter comment deleted?

MetaFilter is a lightly moderated site and we prefer if users can work out their differences on their own. We encourage discussion and debate. However there are some types of comments that are either toxic to discussion or disallowed on the site entirely that may get removed by moderators. A few reasons comments may be removed are

- Spamming. Adding off-topic, context-free, or SEO-laden comments with undisclosed links to your own or others' sites.
- Threadshitting. Early dismissive or "Who cares" comments that add nothing to the discussion.
- Attacks on or interrogation of other users. This includes outing of personal information from profile pages or other sites.
- Threats against other people or against oneself. Suicide threats or "Someone should shoot that guy in the head" or "I hope he gets raped to death in prison" comments create problems for the site.
- Comments about moderation. These need to be in MetaTalk or sent through the contact form, they do not go on MetaFilter. This includes metadiscussion of flagging, comment deletions, and whether a post should be deleted or not.
- Racist or otherwise hateful comments. This specifically includes ironic racism/sexism; people who sarcastically put on a racist voice to make a point about racism, or who make "She was asking for it" jokes ( assuming everyone should know they are joking), cause thread derails and make discussion difficult.
- Making a thread all about you. MetaFilter is a large community and discussion threads are for everyone. Please do not make a thread all about your own opinions and ideas at the expense of other people trying to have a discussion.
- Trolling. If your behavior is indistinguishable from trolling, you may be treated as a troll. If you need to call someone out as a troll, go to MetaTalk please.

Occasionally a comment will be removed which then leaves a bunch of other comments responding to it just hanging there and these will sometimes get removed as well even though there is no problem with them. Mods use their own discretion and the input of the flagging queue to help guide those decisions. If you have a question about a comment removal, please use the contact form to ask about it. The MetaFilter comment deletion rate is about 1%. Most people never have a comment deleted.
It seems to me that what you're describing is already there under the sixth bullet. I doubt listing specific examples would be helpful other than to enable a legion of rules-lawyers, but that's just my personal opinion.
posted by zarq at 12:22 PM on March 17, 2014 [15 favorites]


Toxic to trans folk/on trans issues? I can see people feeling that way, especially given the importance of using/avoiding certain language; anyway it's been explained much better in every trans thread.

Toxic to women? Really?
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 12:23 PM on March 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


But even knowing that, it doesn't cause me not to want to make Metafilter even LESS toxic.

I can get behind that. Trying harder to be better is never wasted effort.
posted by Mooski at 12:23 PM on March 17, 2014


Yeah, zarq, those are pretty clear cases of out of bound speech. I think the whole point of this thread is that there's another set of limit cases that are presently being moderated without having been marked as problematic ahead of time. And that there are a range of ways of marking that speech as unacceptable that run from deletion through to pile-on. Finally, the tone/content moderation distinction I'm pushing is really, really important, I think.
posted by R. Schlock at 12:25 PM on March 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


Pruitt-Igoe: "Toxic to trans folk/on trans issues? I can see people feeling that way, especially given the importance of using/avoiding certain language; anyway it's been explained much better in every trans thread."

Not really due to any particular language used, for the most part. But for example, in a recent (deleted) thread several highly favourited comments said outright, with almost no pushback, that the reason the author of the linked article was a bad feminist was because she was a trans woman.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 12:25 PM on March 17, 2014 [8 favorites]


What's troubling, I think, is the apparent veneer of free-discourse laid over an implicit, content-based moderation policy. Just be honest about what you're doing here and what sort of speech you welcome on MetaFilter.

And what's vexing as hell to me, I'm sure, is the insistence that we're being dishonest and just need to tear back the curtain and reveal once and for all our actual motivations and moderative intent. I live a pretty charmed life such that one of the things I have the least patience in the world for being called is a dissembler or bullshitter, but I have very, very little patience for it.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:26 PM on March 17, 2014 [25 favorites]


To summarize my own position: I think it'd be really helpful if, as a moderation policy, there was a clear distinction between sins of tone and sins of content. Tone should be policed fairly across the board. If hyperbole and generalization are fighty from the soft-left, then it should be seen as equally fighty from the hard left.

When has this not been the case?...

Honestly, this is reminding me of the "Critique my Dick Pic" Tumblr, where you can tell that all the people submitting pictures just plain don't get that "this is about HOW you express yourself, not WHAT you express" even though the owner of the tumblr has explained it again and again and again and again and again.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:28 PM on March 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


n'thing cairdeas and misha. For the most part I keep a pretty far orbit from MeFi these days. Used to love the site, now it often reads as a parody of itself. Very, very hair triggery about, well, way too many things. It would be great if other viewpoints or social views would be tolerated more than just as troll fodder.
posted by cavalier at 12:28 PM on March 17, 2014 [12 favorites]


As hard as it may be for some of the high-volume users on this site (which I consider myself one) to understand, not all mods are in all threads at all times. Moderation, as I understand it, relies heavily on the flag queue, and if users are simply not flagging comments, they will generally not receive moderator attention.

This is driven by the userbase, not moderators. Outlier, or heterodox, statements have a lower bar for tone, since users will more readily flag them.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 12:29 PM on March 17, 2014 [8 favorites]


MetaFilter isn't perfect but it's an order of magnitude better than most places on the internet, precisely because of the type of moderation that I understand can look like censorship but in actuality is just a good faith effort to a) allow interesting conversations to happen, especially when viewpoints that are typically repressed are involved and b) prevent those conversations from going down the same tired sinkholes over and over again.

This type of moderation doesn't discourage conversation. It does the opposite of that.
posted by annekate at 12:31 PM on March 17, 2014 [4 favorites]


Very, very hair triggery about, well, way too many things. It would be great if other viewpoints or social views would be tolerated more than just as troll fodder.

jesus, has it not occurred to you that maybe it's not about metafilter being more "sensitive" or "triggery", but rather it's about a critical mass of people getting fed up with holding their tongues and finally saying "you know what, I've never been cool with this, but this is the first time I felt brave enough to say something"?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:32 PM on March 17, 2014 [49 favorites]


cortex: I didn't use that language. Not even close. I'm not sure why you'd choose to take my good-faith statements as personally offensive. Nothing of the sort was intended. In fact, coupled with your status as a moderator here, it feels a lot like shouting down honest critique.
posted by R. Schlock at 12:36 PM on March 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


Ugh. Really?

It's pretty obvious that I've always preferred less moderation and yet somehow I manage to feel like I'm not being shouted down.
posted by Justinian at 12:39 PM on March 17, 2014 [5 favorites]


R. Schlock: " I think the whole point of this thread is that there's another set of limit cases that are presently being moderated without having been marked as problematic ahead of time.

Ah. I understand now.

I'm not convinced it's necessary or a good idea. Could be wrong, though.

One of the things that surprised me when I first read the FAQ was I/P threads aren't mentioned. That's one of the biggest, most contentious topics on this site, but the FAQ doesn't say a darn thing about it. There's an argument to be made that the FAQ should warn people that making posts about Israel and the Palestinians could be a recipe for total disaster. Why isn't it there? For that matter, circumcision isn't mentioned either and those threads tend to go very, very badly.

I suspect, although I've never asked, that the mods are concerned about setting up posts on the subject for failure. What I've seen them refer to in the past as "Pre-dooming" a thread. If you establish an expectation that a topic won't go well, then people believe it and threads become a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy. I think that's why the mods have proven very reluctant to establish precedents which apply to all possible situations.

And that there are a range of ways of marking that speech as unacceptable that run from deletion through to pile-on.

If a very bright, specific line is going to be drawn on comments about certain topics, then adding them to the FAQ might make sense. If the mods plan on continuing to address every comment on an individual basis they won't be interested in adding the topic to the faq.

Finally, the tone/content moderation distinction I'm pushing is really, really important, I think."

*nod*
posted by zarq at 12:47 PM on March 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


I didn't use that language. Not even close. I'm not sure why you'd choose to take my good-faith statements as personally offensive.

I do not see a clear way to read "Just be honest about what you're doing here" as saying something other than that there is an existing failure to be honest, especially when you're in the same comment calling my earlier response to you "doublespeaky" and saying stuff in the thread like "I'd submit that you're not really interested in fostering real discussion on the site" when I've been pretty transparently and doggedly working for years to help people be able to foster just that.

If we disagree about the details of an ideal conversational space, that's totally fine. But if you're not trying to call a person a liar, don't tell them that what they need to start doing is being honest. It's, at it most charitable, a deeply poor choice of words.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:49 PM on March 17, 2014 [38 favorites]


Um, okay. If I'd have called you a liar or a bullshitter, then it'd have been because I actually thought you were those things. But I recognize that you and the other mods are trying to keep a leaky boat afloat. To keep it simple: the issue is that some subset of your userbase feels that moderation standards are being inconsistently applied and that this inconsistency favors the ideological leanings of another, vocal subset of your userbase. Those who have noted this have also suggested, in good faith, that this contributes to a decline in the quality of the conversation here. The responses to this within this very thread, the sweeping generalizations, the straw men, the attributions of bad faith, more than adequately show this consensus in operation. Your choice to single me out on my tone even illustrates the collusion between editorial control and majority consensus. The evidence is right here, if you care to see it. This isn't an attack, it's a plea for a more civil and ideologically diverse community. Or, barring that, clearer expression of what sorts of speech are welcome here.
posted by R. Schlock at 1:04 PM on March 17, 2014 [6 favorites]


My problem with this in spirit is nil, but I have a big problem with "ideologically diverse" as a codeword for people with strong and exclusionary philosophies being allowed to have free reign to be able to say whatever objectionable, bigoted and fear-inducing remarks they want. If that happened, I would flee Metafilter in a heartbeat.
posted by kalessin at 1:07 PM on March 17, 2014 [17 favorites]


See above: straw men.
posted by R. Schlock at 1:10 PM on March 17, 2014 [5 favorites]


This isn't an attack, it's a plea for a more civil and ideologically diverse community.

Be the change you wish to see, dude.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:11 PM on March 17, 2014 [7 favorites]


People who belong to traditionally marginalized groups often have a different perspective when it comes to attempting to prevent actual harm to their/our own ranks, rather than being eternally forced to play catch-up and try to find a cure after the harm has already been done.

Some of us have to deal with people "challenging" our perspectives in our daily lives in ways we have no ability to avoid. Some of us don't find that to be stimulating or interesting -- we find it to be dehumanizing, exhausting, and discouraging.

This is my final comment in this thread. I will use abstract terms to avoid confusion about the internet.

I take issue with these characterizations by people speaking on behalf of "some traditionally marginalized groups" or as "those who deal with people challenging their perspectives in our daily lives."

Some of us absorb all that stuff, and go on to choose action different from introspection and raising awareness. Talking about the bad is fair. Making a guy aware that he doesn't know what misogyny feels like is fair.

But please be aware that talk about harm and exhaustion does not represent everyone's experience as a traditionally marginalized person.

Some of us traditionally marginalized people go out and subvert misogyny and racism in forms far more sinister than what appears on Reddit (or Metafilter for that matter) online and offline. You'd never hear about it.

Right now on Metafilter we talk about harm and ask others to listen. We risk obscuring the fact that marginalized people do all kinds of stuff to fight back. Of course people will say they do all sorts of stuff that they don't bring up on the site. But that's not the point. The point is that we talk about oppression here as if there is nothing that can be done but bear it.

This is a problem that is as old as the hills: how do you deal with the agency question. The trend these days on Metafilter is to embrace "marginalized as victim." I refuse to accept that characterization of who I am and what I do.
posted by vincele at 1:12 PM on March 17, 2014 [4 favorites]


So... to recap: Today we have a request to form a cabal on Metafilter, and also a request that said cabal stop colluding to maintain the majority viewpoint's ascendance.

My head hurts.
posted by zarq at 1:12 PM on March 17, 2014 [4 favorites]


Metafilter is fucking toxic for women,

No, it's not.
posted by nooneyouknow at 1:12 PM on March 17, 2014 [9 favorites]


I think the crux of the issue, kalessin, is that what you may consider "objectionable, bigoted and fear-inducing remarks" may be something other reasonable people consider to be "unpopular but reasonable opinions".

I am not talking about myself specifically, just to be clear.
posted by Justinian at 1:12 PM on March 17, 2014 [3 favorites]


The responses to this within this very thread, the sweeping generalizations, the straw men, the attributions of bad faith, more than adequately show this consensus in operation. Your choice to single me out on my tone even illustrates the collusion between editorial control and majority consensus.

Don't forget to mention the sweeping generalizations and the subsequent ignored requests for more specificity.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 1:13 PM on March 17, 2014


Your choice to single me out on my tone even illustrates the collusion between editorial control and majority consensus.

Shit. And I almost wrote "Cortex, your unwillingness to let me call you a double-speaker only proves that you are oppressing me with your words" and won the three cherries.
posted by octobersurprise at 1:13 PM on March 17, 2014 [3 favorites]


> See above: straw men.

I love having my remarks dismissed in the spirit of assuming good intent.

> what you may consider "objectionable, bigoted and fear-inducing remarks" may be something other reasonable people consider to be "unpopular but reasonable opinions".

I am absolutely, incontrovertibly crystal clear on that, Justinian. I am also aware that the reverse is absolutely true for some users about what I consider to be unpopular or popular and reasonable opinions. This is why, I think, we have a mod team, even though we are all promising constantly that we're assuming good intent but still can't fail to be at each other's throats at times.
posted by kalessin at 1:17 PM on March 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


I think the problem is for some people (not making a list) mere disagreement is objectionable, bigoted, and painful.And apparently intolerable.
posted by umberto at 1:17 PM on March 17, 2014 [13 favorites]


Really? Because I see a lot of folks on the wrong end of a sort of apparently kneejerk hatefulness actually trying really hard to be reasonable and finding a middle line we can all live with.
posted by kalessin at 1:19 PM on March 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


jesus, has it not occurred to you that maybe it's not about metafilter being more "sensitive" or "triggery", but rather it's about a critical mass of people getting fed up with holding their tongues and finally saying "you know what, I've never been cool with this, but this is the first time I felt brave enough to say something"?

I think that works from both sides of this discussion, doesn't it?
posted by Sebmojo at 1:20 PM on March 17, 2014 [17 favorites]


vincele, I don't really think of myself as embracing victimhood. And I absolutely don't mean to imply that any/all/most marginalized people are passively experiencing the world and its challenges instead of actively pushing back against those challenges in whatever way makes sense to them. Apologies if I didn't make that clear.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 1:20 PM on March 17, 2014


umberto: "I think the problem is for some people (not making a list) mere disagreement is objectionable, bigoted, and painful.And apparently intolerable."

Some people are so blind to their own prejudice that they believe their bigotry is mere disagreement and basic decency ideological lockstep.

We could do this all night.
posted by emmtee at 1:22 PM on March 17, 2014 [7 favorites]


> I think that works from both sides of this discussion, doesn't it?

I disagree. The reason I disagree is because "trigger" doesn't just mean "stimulates the recall of bad memories when a bunch of feminists were mean to me by disagreeing with me". It means "stimulates the PTSD-like recall of actual physical violence perpetrated on my person by a bunch of bullies who felt that it would teach me a lesson. It did teach me a lesson, certainly, but not the one they thought it would teach me."
posted by kalessin at 1:22 PM on March 17, 2014 [6 favorites]


Some of us traditionally marginalized people go out and subvert misogyny and racism in forms far more sinister than what appears on Reddit (or Metafilter for that matter) online and offline. You'd never hear about it.

Right now on Metafilter we talk about harm and ask others to listen. We risk obscuring the fact that marginalized people do all kinds of stuff to fight back. Of course people will say they do all sorts of stuff that they don't bring up on the site. But that's not the point. The point is that we talk about oppression here as if there is nothing that can be done but bear it.

This is a problem that is as old as the hills: how do you deal with the agency question. The trend these days on Metafilter is to embrace "marginalized as victim." I refuse to accept that characterization of who I am and what I do.


vincele, is "sinister" the word you wanted to use? You seem to support the subversion of misogyny and racism in a different way from what you claim to see on Metafilter, but you use "sinister," a word with undeniably negative connotations, to describe that alternative.

That aside, I really don't think anyone has said that the only thing to be done about oppression is to bear it; I think you're drawing on a set of information, maybe from other forums, maybe from your personal life, that your comments here don't make explicit, and it's making your arguments hard to parse.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 1:24 PM on March 17, 2014


The evidence is right here, if you care to see it.

R. Schlock, would you please please please point to a specific example of what you're talking about? Don't just say that it's before our eyes, please actually point to a specific example of what you're talking about. People need something concrete to respond to.

...

It's goddamn hilarious that the usual suspects can always, always, drop by threads and talk about "Portlandia liberals" and mod cabals and nobody hammers them over and over for evidence,

example, example, example, example, and there are others. People have been (rightfully) asking that R. Schlock provide examples of what they were talking about, and/or mocking R. Schlock for making such accusations without providing specifics. Making contentious accusations creates the expectation that there will be some kind of evidence.

...

But that you expressed a desire for specific examples of ostensibly MRA-friendly threads/comments indicated to me that our definitions must be (are) different, because I can think of at least a dozen off the top of my head, most of which I have bookmarked because they contain righteous smackdowns of egregiously sexist beliefs.

I can only speak for myself, but I certainly agree with you that there are sexist statements across this site, including egregious ones. So, I'm not sure that I understand the apparent reticence to admit that that common ground already exists? Sexism is much bigger than the so-called MRM, just as racism is much bigger than the BNP. MRAs are just one subgroup of sexists. I would say that actual MRAs are not actually MRAs unless they actually believe they are; it sounds like you would disagree with that. That sounds like a pretty fine-grained and anodyne disagreement in and of itself.
posted by Sticherbeast at 1:27 PM on March 17, 2014 [3 favorites]


Second, there should be a clear statement of what sorts of speech are considered substantively out of bounds. Doesn't have to be the Treaty of Westphalia. But an unambiguous statement: "Anti-feminist, transphobic and otherwise hateful speech are not welcome on MetaFilter and will be summarily deleted" with a link to a clear definition of those kinds of speech would go a long way, I think. It'd let those who feel oppressed on the site know that their perspective was actively supported here. And for those who might trip over their toes, it'd provide a clear and objective redline.

I think the whole point of this thread is that there's another set of limit cases that are presently being moderated without having been marked as problematic ahead of time.


That strikes me as being both impractical and unnecessary. Taking the post in this thread as an example, the moderator who deleted it wrote the reason it was deleted, and what could be done to improve it to make it part of a civil discussion on the topic at hand. I didn’t go back to the thread to see if the poster chose to take advantage of that option, but the moderator spelled it out for him or her pretty clearly without the aid of a published manifesto.

I have my doubts that the poster would have taken the time to read a detailed document on what wording to use before writing the comment, thus wasting the moderators’ time in drafting such a document in the first place. I think a simple application of Wheaton’s law by the moderators is quick, efficient, and ought to be understood by anyone who’s interested in having a good-faith discussion, even if their central thesis differs from that of the people with whom they’re talking.

Sure, we could go the route of “Give me a list of things I can and can’t say.” But personally, I think it’d be a waste of everybody’s time and energy, and making things more contentious than they need to be. It's also like issuing an engraved invitation for people to find ways to be an asshole without violating the letter of what's on the list, while leaving its spirit in the dust.

We can all have a baseline human respect for each other, and when one of us makes an honest mistake, one of the mods can let us know what it was, we can accept constructive criticism, and we can decide to either make out point another way or leave it alone. I’ve had to make that decision myself, and it can feel absolutely rotten at the time. But I usually get over it.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 1:27 PM on March 17, 2014 [4 favorites]


I think it's really important to remember this isn't as clear cut as it might appear. The person who first made a really clear, coherent comment about all this was cairdeas, who is possibly the last person I would think of as being a part of either triggering discussion or MRA advocacy. She, not anyone else, brought up the "Portlandia Liberal" idea, and it seemed honestly kind of an affectionate call out rather than anything else.

To me, at least, it looked like a call-out from within, not from without.
posted by corb at 1:28 PM on March 17, 2014 [9 favorites]


My take on the nefarious cabal, based on close to ten years of reading these MeTas: we have a largely liberal/progressive userbase (myself included). Perhaps the liberal skewing has increased over the years by nature of the consistently eloquent voices on the left here (in my opinion, and that's largely why I keep coming), or perhaps it was always so. I don't know.

The conservative voices became fewer and further between. The stalwarts who remain or the newcomers who arrive on the scene have something to say (and may also have something to contribute, but the two don't necessarily go together). They anticipate the tidal wave of opprobrium from the majority and don't take the time to frame their post or comment as well as they could. And who could blame them? They likely would get the same excoriation either way, so why not just leave a drive-by shitty (or at least half-thought-out) comment?

In response to probably justifiable flagging, the mods come in with clean hands. They do a good job keeping the aisles free of debris, and they don't have an axe to grind (though they're likely as liberal as the rest of the site; I don't actually follow the mod participation in threads). The mods see another shitty comment from so-and-so and delete it (possibly for the umpteenth time). And, just as I can understand so-and-so's lazy comment, I can understand how a mod's tolerance for the same lazy comments from the same people getting deleted would be at best, tiresome. Maybe the bar gets a little higher for the repeat offenders; I think that's perfectly reasonable and to be expected. And then so-and-so starts a meta and we go around this merry-go-round once more.

So-and-so thinks it's all a big gotcha. The mods are honest-to-god people trying to run a website. Most deletions end up being good; some are not so good. Each mod has their own perspectives, and not every day is our best day. Everyone enters the Thunderdome.

I don't think there's a cabal. But I also don't think the deletions, in practice, are all up and down the spectrum (and not for nothing, as my mother would say). I do think that if we could just concede that this is a happily liberal space, we'd at least avoid the "no fair, that's a gotcha!" stage of these spectacles, and we'd be the better for it.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 1:38 PM on March 17, 2014 [10 favorites]


The call-out, though clear and coherent, is entirely without specificity. I think we can all fill in the blanks with what "Portlandia liberal" might mean on any number of issues, but there's no evidence backing up cairdeas' accusation that the mods moderate discussions motivated by that ideology, or that a plurality of the community could accurately be described with that label. There is this one deletion and one moderator intervention, and nothing else. Even if the community was in agreement that this particular intervention was unwarranted, one instance does not a cabal make.
posted by tonycpsu at 1:38 PM on March 17, 2014 [5 favorites]


I think that works from both sides of this discussion, doesn't it?

Please explain?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:45 PM on March 17, 2014


Admiral Haddock, that's the most succinct and spot-on summary of the problem I've seen.

At the same time, it seems to me the fact that this is a happy liberal space is beyond dispute. Many, many lefties have acknowledged it here. Are you looking for mathowie to sit in a special chair wearing special robes and say "MeFi is officially liberal?" Or, perhaps a banner at the top of the site reminding everyone that the site leans left? When you say you want the community to concede that the space is liberal, what exactly are you talking about?
posted by tonycpsu at 1:45 PM on March 17, 2014


I think he wants everyone to acknowledge that stereotypically right-leaning comments are going to receive greater scrutiny than stereotypically left-leaning comments, and to move on rather than keep making a big shitshow about it. That's my reading of it anyway.
posted by Justinian at 1:48 PM on March 17, 2014 [4 favorites]


But an unambiguous statement: "Anti-feminist, transphobic and otherwise hateful speech are not welcome on MetaFilter and will be summarily deleted" with a link to a clear definition of those kinds of speech would go a long way, I think.

Wait a minute, whoa whoa whoa. I am a woman, a feminist, even a "strident" feminist sometimes. But I in no way want to come to a metafilter that deletes comments deemed "anti-feminist". If I wanted a site that had feminism at its core, I would go to one of the numerous feminist sites around. But that's not metafilter. Deleting comments deemed "anti-feminist" would make this place much poorer: one can in good faith disagree with feminist ideas without being a troll or a derailer or a creator of "unsafe spaces."
posted by yarly at 1:49 PM on March 17, 2014 [24 favorites]


what exactly are you talking about?

Put it in the FAQ, maybe? Or just actually moderate on that basis (not: "admit the cabal is doing this and has always done so!", but actually change course). Post re-branding, mods could simply say "hey, that take on trans* issues is not cool here; take it to Fox.com" or whatever. Again, I think we'd be better for it.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 1:52 PM on March 17, 2014


That's my reading of it anyway.

Yup. And while that is indeed a certain brand of forthright, it's also a terrible idea. The fact that objectivity is difficult, even strictly speaking impossible, does not mean every news station should just become their own variety of Fox News.

And the fact that the willingness to allow ideologically diverse conversation on Metafilter is difficult does not mean it should just give up and become the Leftist Action Network. There are plenty of other echo chambers out there. Metafilter should not succumb to the temptation to join their ranks.

Not to mention that it's far from clear that the vocal minorities who control certain threads and vociferously shout down opposition really represent the views of the masses of users.
posted by shivohum at 2:00 PM on March 17, 2014 [7 favorites]


Post re-branding, mods could simply say "hey, that take on trans* issues is not cool here; take it to Fox.com" or whatever. Again, I think we'd be better for it.

A question - can anyone explain why they believe a "don't be jerks to people not like you" is a leftist mindset as opposed to being a civil one?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:03 PM on March 17, 2014 [33 favorites]


Stereotypically right-leaning comments are more likely to include racism, bigotry, misogyny, sexism, etc., than stereotypically left-leaning comments. So they are not comparable populations.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 2:03 PM on March 17, 2014 [3 favorites]


Stereotypically right-leaning comments are more likely to include racism, bigotry, misogyny, sexism, etc., than stereotypically left-leaning comments. So they are not comparable populations.

That's not entirely true. Left-leaning comments on this site frequently include grotesquely bigoted stereotypes of old people, middle-aged people, white people, and male people, especially when those constellations intersect.
posted by sweet mister at 2:07 PM on March 17, 2014 [16 favorites]


I don't think it's that right-leaning users have to clear a higher bar (as corb suggested), it's simply that on a lot of the social issues that cause these dustups, while left-leaning users are jumping from level ground, right-leaning users are jumping from a pit. On a site that does its best (or at least tries a little) to limit -isms and -phobias, it's going to seem like it's asking for more effort from right-wing users than left-wing users. And I guess it is, but not because the bar is raised for them. If your "ideological diversity" involves "reasonable" conservative ideas about LGBT people, say, you're going to feel unfairly silenced and shut out. But it's not because more is being asked of you, it's simply because your starting point is further from the bar of respect that is being requested of all participants.

This does not make MetaFilter an echo chamber, nor does it mean that MetaFilter is controlled by a shadowy cabal of cultural Marxists out to suppress the free speech of a patriotic minority, as has been alleged over and over recently.
posted by Corinth at 2:08 PM on March 17, 2014 [21 favorites]


That's not entirely true. Left-leaning comments on this site frequently include grotesquely bigoted stereotypes of old people, middle-aged people, white people, and male people, especially when those constellations intersect.

Maybe I wasn't clear. The operative phrase is 'more likely', ceretis paribus of course
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 2:09 PM on March 17, 2014


MetaFilter: I will use abstract terms to avoid confusion about the internet
posted by prize bull octorok at 2:10 PM on March 17, 2014 [5 favorites]


sweet mister: "Left-leaning comments on this site frequently include grotesquely bigoted stereotypes of old people, middle-aged people, white people"

God, I hate those grotesque and bigoted stereotypes about white people. We don't all like mayo, dammit! Some of us can dance!
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 2:10 PM on March 17, 2014 [15 favorites]


Deliberately misgendering someone (for example) is not a conservative thing, it's an asshole thing. Claiming that men are likely to be victims of false accusations of rape or assault if there is an anti-harassment policy in place at a convention is not a conservative talking point, it is nonsense.
posted by rtha at 2:11 PM on March 17, 2014 [21 favorites]


rtha: "Claiming that men are likely to be victims of false accusations of rape or assault if there is an anti-harassment policy in place at a convention is not a conservative talking point, it is nonsense."

I disagree. MRA tactics like that are absolutely a conservative thing. Rush Limbaugh's mocking, shaming and demeaning attacks on women and his stance against women's rights have made him the proverbial poster boy for the MRA movement.
posted by zarq at 2:15 PM on March 17, 2014


God, I hate those grotesque and bigoted stereotypes about white people. We don't all like mayo, dammit! Some of us can dance!

An all-white Busby Berkeley dance occurs. It is a display of exquisite, inhuman talent. It is so beautiful that all politics all of kinds are automatically destroyed. The letters vanish from the pages of books. Images fade from posters and murals. Voices fall silent. All blinking stops. All conflict ends. All dreams end. There is now nothing that exists, nothing at all in the universe whatsoever, other than a splendid quadrille glopping amidst a sea of Hellman's.

This is how the world ends.

This is how the world ends.
posted by Sticherbeast at 2:16 PM on March 17, 2014


vincele, is "sinister" the word you wanted to use? You seem to support the subversion of misogyny and racism in a different way from what you claim to see on Metafilter, but you use "sinister," a word with undeniably negative connotations, to describe that alternative.

Pretty sure that "sinister" is meant to modify the sexism and racism there, not the subversive/trolling engagement with them that vincele is arguing represents an alternative to MeFi's favored earnest personal consciousness-raising or story-sharing.

Parenthetically, it'd be great if people stopped assuming that the right-wing cooptation of "ideological diversity" was the only game in town, and/or that right-wing views were the only ones in danger of being shouted down in favor of a putative liberal orthodoxy around here. Farther-left-versus-liberal disagreements happen here all the time in discussions of certain issues, and the results can be every bit as ugly, particularly since it frequently happens that all disagreement is preemptively ascribed to conservatism, or imagined to be a bad-faith mask for conservatism. Valuing ideological diversity can help discussions within the left, or between the center and the left — it's not just a mask for special pleading from the right, even if it undeniably sometimes is that.
posted by RogerB at 2:18 PM on March 17, 2014 [12 favorites]


Stitcherbeast, I think that's what the this thread is about?
posted by Corinth at 2:20 PM on March 17, 2014


A question - can anyone explain why they believe a "don't be jerks to people not like you" is a leftist mindset as opposed to being a civil one?

Deliberately misgendering someone (for example) is not a conservative thing, it's an asshole thing.

Then again, denying equal marriage rights is on the conservative end of the spectrum, as is limiting a woman's right to choose, etc. Obviously, this is just w/r/t US politics, but conservatives, by definition, are derriere garde on social issues. That's their unique charm.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 2:22 PM on March 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


We don't all like mayo, dammit!

For real. I'm white and I only eat ethnic mayos like sriracha mayo, chipotle mayo or wasabi mayo.
posted by pullayup at 2:27 PM on March 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


Then again, denying equal marriage rights is on the conservative end of the spectrum

Yeah, exactly; I'm as small-l libertarian as they come on social issues but I don't think it should be out of bounds to argue against gay marriage on Metafilter. And yet that can with much justification be called being a bigoted asshole.
posted by Justinian at 2:31 PM on March 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


I haven't read every post in this thread, but I'm still uncertain about what precisely is the content of these views that are apparently being suppressed. The people who are disdainful of the lockstep Portlandia PC Tumblr social justice whatever -- what is it that you believe? What's your ideology?

I haven't been able to parse what it would be beyond things like "Feminists are really annoying sometimes, amirite?" Which is, admittedly, a caricature. But I don't actually know what it's a caricature of.

I don't get that sense the R. Schlock and the subset he feels he's speaking for are actually Tea Party members who believe gays are destroying the institution of marriage. But I don't know what they do believe. Is it just "Stop being so sensitive, whiners"? Because I don't think that's really much of a defensible -- or coherent --political stance.
posted by neroli at 2:31 PM on March 17, 2014 [11 favorites]


Pretty sure that "sinister" is meant to modify the sexism and racism there, not the subversive/trolling engagement with them that vincele is arguing represents an alternative to MeFi's favored earnest personal consciousness-raising or story-sharing.

Yeah, you're right, I misread that pretty badly.

I think the second part of my comment stands, though. It feels like he's talking past everyone about stuff only he knows about, stuff that isn't really relevant to the site as a whole. I could be as wrong there as I was in my comment's first part. I'm willing to be convinced I'm wrong.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 2:32 PM on March 17, 2014


Justinian: "stereotypically right-leaning comments are going to receive greater scrutiny than stereotypically left-leaning comments"

Isn't this just the result of having a flag-driven moderation system? People expressing unpopular opinions will no doubt have more of their comments flagged by others. Some of those flags will be for legitimate reasons, some will be because the flagger doesn't like the expressed opinion, and surely there will be some with gray areas in between.

Once a post or comment is flagged, the mods are then put in the position to make judgement calls, and as far as I can tell, there's been only one instance cited in this thread (the subject of the post) documenting a judgement call that some feel was in error. Many requests have been made for more specificity and more examples than this one instance to show a clear pattern of malfeasance, but as far as I can tell, nobody's accepted that challenge. It shouldn't be too much to ask that you show more than one example for something if you're insisting that a pattern of bias exists.

In the past, other folks have posted other MeTas with specific grievances, but in all of the ones I can remember, the mods were honest about what motivated them, and have in some cases acknowledged that they might have had a hair trigger, or said that it was a 50/50 call and they erred on the side of caution. If people here have had those interactions with mods, and felt they didn't get a good answer, maybe they could bring them to the table so we could all come to some consensus on whether the right thing was done?
posted by tonycpsu at 2:38 PM on March 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm concerned by the repeat mentions of trans issues alongside topics where people feel their opinions are suppressed here. Maybe I've missed it, but I haven't seen even one of the posters arguing for greater 'ideological diversity' make it clear that the opinions they're talking about absolutely aren't transphobic ones, by any given standard. Because as far as I'm concerned, a broader range of opinion on trans issues than is welcome here today implies only the addition of voices which disbelieve and disrespect us, and I don't consider that acceptable.

What I suspect is that a number of posters here have come to expect - and feel entitled - to express an opinion on the legitimacy and nature of transgender people in a way that they wouldn't toward any other marginalised group, and feel silenced by the deletion of or strongly negative response to those opinions. And I'm not inclined to give that feeling any more consideration than it warrants. But feel free to correct me.
posted by emmtee at 2:45 PM on March 17, 2014 [21 favorites]


Toxic to women? Really?

IMO/E not all the time and not because we're full of MRAs and PUAs (just garden-variety sexists, often thoughtless ones, and by no means all men), but hell yes, this place is full of low-level sexist microagressions and those do build up to toxic levels. And I can agree that it's better than a lot of spaces on the web, but that can be a low hurdle. Everyone experiences the site differently. That's my experience.

(And I'm adding my voice to the chorus of unhappiness about nadawi's departure. Everybody needs a break and I hope she comes back feeling better when this is over.)
posted by immlass at 3:09 PM on March 17, 2014 [14 favorites]


I'm concerned by the repeat mentions of trans issues alongside topics where people feel their opinions are suppressed here

Nobody is saying that. The closest thing I can find is that smoke is saying trans thread pile-ons are overzealous.

Maybe there are comments I missed.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 3:15 PM on March 17, 2014


Everyone experiences the site differently. That's my experience.

Yeah I don't see this place as toxic to me as a woman but I think I have a high threshold for bullshit and don't expect others to share this. Watching yet another sexism thread turn into one guy being all "But...." is predictably tiresome. That said, it's great that I can do something about it, being a mod, and that my male mod co-workers find it nearly as obnoxious and trite as I do.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:18 PM on March 17, 2014 [8 favorites]


I'm concerned by the repeat mentions of trans issues alongside topics where people feel their opinions are suppressed here. Maybe I've missed it, but I haven't seen even one of the posters arguing for greater 'ideological diversity' make it clear that the opinions they're talking about absolutely aren't transphobic ones, by any given standard. Because as far as I'm concerned, a broader range of opinion on trans issues than is welcome here today implies only the addition of voices which disbelieve and disrespect us, and I don't consider that acceptable.

The mods have stated outright that misgendering someone based on that person's declared gender will not be stood for. There are people who don't believe that using a person's birth-assigned or genetic gender (please let me know if there's a better term for that) is disrespectful or transphobic, and that opinion -- or at least its expression in that way -- is suppressed. That's for the better, in my own opinion, but it's definitely an exhibit of MeFi as a place that's friendlier to a certain mindset from a moderating standpoint.
posted by Etrigan at 3:22 PM on March 17, 2014


One guy, huh?

Spring is here. I think I'll take a walk.
posted by R. Schlock at 3:23 PM on March 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


See what I mean? I honestly don't even have the stamina to weed through and dig into this. We've got got fifteen or so axes being ground here and it's all just.... my god, it's full of stars.
posted by cavalier at 3:32 PM on March 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


...I don't think it should be out of bounds to argue against gay marriage on Metafilter. And yet that can with much justification be called being a bigoted asshole.

I don't know - I think people have said things like "the government should not be in the business of officially recognizing our romantic relationships, period" in the past. I don't think that's bigoted necessarily, though the argument has its own problems: forex, it doesn't really touch the concrete disparities in hospital visitation rights, inheriting money, health insurance, immigration, etc. so you might reasonably expect some hard pushback on that basis. But I don't think it's impossible or would always be an instadelete: at least in my ideal MeFi, I think it would depend on what specifically you were saying/not saying and how you were participating in the thread.
posted by en forme de poire at 3:47 PM on March 17, 2014


Etrigan, that was, what, a year ago? That's not super progressive or anything. And the whole thing where respect of trans people (or whoever) is turned into a political "mindset" is the vehicle by which the "ideological diversity" farce is smuggled into the discussion. That's how those who don't respect other identities whitewash their views so that they get taken seriously as claims about the site's bias rather than their own, and it's why there's so much asinine noise lately about Tumblr and SJWs and vampire castles and cabals and political correctness gone mad and The Fall of MetaFilter.
posted by Corinth at 3:49 PM on March 17, 2014 [17 favorites]


I am a woman and I am talking about the problems with using labels like mra and pua as hyperbole. It's a point woven throughout the thread.

Sorry for getting your gender wrong, and thank you for clarifying your point.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 3:57 PM on March 17, 2014


Wow, you go for a meeting and look what happens...

which doesn't sound like she was hassled off the site as more that she stepped away for awhile to cool off.

I feel a little bad about pointing this out, gadge, because you didn't grab the performative fury brass ring as some others did, but this is kind of MetaTalk fanfiction. Nothing against fanfiction, I hasten to add. What we know are the words used, which are these.

she just wanted to step away to not get into it in here

I think it's possible that she was not worried about her own emotional state. As you say:

Of course, we don't have much more than a brief note paraphrased by a mod to go on, so really making definitive statements about why nadawi pushed the button is pretty much just reinforcing my comment.

Sticking to the actual, provable facts: she was pressed to give a list of MRAs on MetaFilter long after she had said she had no intention of doing so, and indeed long after lobstermitten had specifically said this was not a thing that should happen. This was likened to McCarthyism. which I think I can say without straying too far into authorial voice was pretty much grade one silliness.

After this happened, and apparently because of it, she disabled her account. Which may indeed be no big deal at all - I shut down my online presence every so often when I need to get a lot of things done in a short space of time. However, sticking to the facts, we know only that she disabled her account, and later that she said she did so to avoid "getting into it here". It's important, I think, to maintain good narrative boundaries.

What we know for a fact is that the people who had hassled her then in some cases made assiduous statements about what a great member she is and how they hoped she'd be back soon, for reasons that remain theirs to understand and explain. And then there was some righteous anger about a fairly simple statement of cause and effect, again featuring some fanfiction.

However, all the righteous ire is also kind of a smokescreen from the fact of the matter, which is that the assertion here:

But then someone will characterise Metafilter as rife with MRA, red-pill, full-on misogyny, and then the idea that if you make that claim, asking for any form of evidence to support it is negative behaviour, and while specific call-outs rarely go well it also seems unfair to the other users and even the mods to make it out that the site has a sizeable misogynistic presence that is just accepted...

Does not describe the actual facts of what happened, or any conversation that took place involving users or mods. It's possibly convenient to obscure this with sedulous outrage. However, it is kind of relevant. If we can't manage this fairly basic stuff, then we have a real problem.

When a squid is startled, it ejects ink from its fundament, the better to obscure its vulnerability. I feel that, generally, if I had an ink sac in my can, I would try to exert more self-control than that squid. This does not seem like a huge amount to ask of human people.
posted by running order squabble fest at 3:59 PM on March 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


Etrigan: "There are people who don't believe that using a person's birth-assigned or genetic gender (please let me know if there's a better term for that) is disrespectful or transphobic, and that opinion -- or at least its expression in that way -- is suppressed."

Absolutely; there are people who believe women are incapable of logical decision-making and people who think stuff too awful to repeat about any number of racial groups, too, and all of that gets short shrift here. I just see basic decency to trans people as the least well-established and most contested of those standards, and any talk of widening the range of what it's okay to say makes me suspicious that some members - products of a culture that perhaps didn't instil a comparable sense of what's a reasonable thing to even claim an opinion on when discussing a trans person in any of us - are looking to open the doors to bigotry without necessarily seeing it as such.

I'm concerned basic standards for acceptable discussion of and with trans people are being presented as a political stance; Team A shouting down Team B simply because we don't like what they have to say. I'm suggesting that the current baseline of acceptable conduct around trans people here should be clearly placed outside any expansion of ideological diversity by the people promoting it, as the baselines for any number of other subjects are assumed to be.

(Birth-assigned is cool, by the way, and always better than genetic.)

Pruitt-Igoe: "Nobody is saying that. The closest thing I can find is that smoke is saying trans thread pile-ons are overzealous."

This isn't the first thread where the issue's been raised. By a long, long way. Perhaps it's my perception, of course. In any case, it's something that's concerned me since I first read one of these sporadic calls for diverse opinions and thought about the consequences.
posted by emmtee at 4:13 PM on March 17, 2014 [4 favorites]


Is it possible that since most members here to tend to skew liberal both politically and socially IRL, those who hold opposite views might feel defensive before they even comment and therefore may tend to “come out of the gate swinging” and use more aggressive or combative language than they might actually mean to? Maybe even without realizing it?

It certainly seems like many times, when I’ve seen someone object to a comment being deleted, the comment is written in the style of something my mean-drunk grandfather would say right before taking his belt off, but the person who wrote it is all, “What? It was perfectly neutral! You’re just trying to suppress my views!”
posted by The Underpants Monster at 4:14 PM on March 17, 2014 [6 favorites]


(Combining two replies into one here, because they make two parts of the same point.)

Etrigan, that was, what, a year ago? That's not super progressive or anything.

An example of a well-established and fairly moderate policy is not somehow less of an example of policy.

And the whole thing where respect of trans people (or whoever) is turned into a political "mindset" is the vehicle by which the "ideological diversity" farce is smuggled into the discussion.

Do you seriously not think that people on one side of the political spectrum are more likely to misgender trans people, or that people on that side of the spectrum are more likely to feel as though their opinions are being suppressed on a political basis if they are told that they cannot do it?

That's how those who don't respect other identities whitewash their views so that they get taken seriously as claims about the site's bias rather than their own, and it's why there's so much asinine noise lately about Tumblr and SJWs and vampire castles and cabals and political correctness gone mad and The Fall of MetaFilter.

No, it's how people actually feel. They really do think that people should be referred to by their birth-assigned gender. It's used as a whitewash, yes, but it's also how they really feel, and it is official MetaFilter policy to not let them do that.

I'm concerned basic standards for acceptable discussion of and with trans people are being presented as a political stance analogous to feminism or socialism or whatever; Team A shouting down Team B simply because we don't like what they have to say.

"Basic" according to whom? I agree that misgendering is, at its base, disrespect of trans people overall. But there are people who don't believe that, and some of them are here, and regardless of whether it's correct, not allowing them to express that absolutely is, as I said, "an exhibit of MeFi as a place that's friendlier to a certain mindset from a moderating standpoint." Just because we agree with that mindset doesn't mean that it's not something that the mods have said will be enforced.
posted by Etrigan at 4:24 PM on March 17, 2014 [3 favorites]


Admiral Haddock, that's the most succinct and spot-on summary of the problem I've seen.

Yeah, I may not agree with Admiral Haddock's suggestions of what should happen, but I certainly think he's got at least a good chunk of what goes on, particularly in how a lot of well meaning people might wind up together creating a shitty situation. The mods aren't trying to be biased, people aren't even necessarily intending to be biased, but their biases are real and contribute to flags and so heterodoxy gets flagged more often than orthodoxy.

And it's not even always conservative voices, though. I hesitate to use real life examples, because it has a way of driving things into specific arguing for or against, but for example, I remember during the Zimmerman trial, there was a subset of my activist friends, including myself, who were pointing out that at the same time Obama was expressing regret for a 17 year old kid being killed in Florida, he was failing to express regret for drone bombing a 16 year old American citizen in Afghanistan. I remember posting an article or something about it on Metafilter - again, not really a conservative position at all, because they tend to be pro-drone bombing - and it got deleted. This wasn't Fox Newsy at all - this was stuff I was seeing on ISO and PSL shares. But in that case, it was a little too left for Metafilter sensibilities.
posted by corb at 4:37 PM on March 17, 2014


I'm really not in favor of speculating about the motivations individuals have for disabling their accounts.
posted by MoonOrb at 4:38 PM on March 17, 2014 [9 favorites]


But in that case, it was a little too left for Metafilter sensibilities.

I deleted that. Your impression of why that comment was deleted bears little resemblance to why it was actually deleted or why we told you it had been deleted when you emailed us to ask about it. Flags had basically nothing to do with why we deleted your comment except that we may have seen it more quickly because it had gotten flagged.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:50 PM on March 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


Does not describe the actual facts of what happened, or any conversation that took place involving users or mods.

Yes it does? I'm really not sure what words you're reading that make your statement a reality for you.
posted by Sebmojo at 4:58 PM on March 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


I am deeply left and liberal and I certainly end up feeling defensive in most gender-related threads here. Not feeling like conservatives should really feel singled out with the site as-is.
posted by kalessin at 5:01 PM on March 17, 2014 [4 favorites]


I would like to second what The Underpants Monster posted upthread.

I would also say that it is my experience that willingness to debate and examine motivation is not something that is beholden to a particular political outlook, rather it is more common amongst people who are not ignorant.

Do you seriously not think that people on one side of the political spectrum are more likely to misgender trans people, or that people on that side of the spectrum are more likely to feel as though their opinions are being suppressed on a political basis if they are told that they cannot do it?

I think that people who believe in some kind of sexual absolutism are not confined to a particular part of the political spectrum. However, they are likely to be people who consider the rights and voices of all people to be valuable and worth engaging with rather than allowing them to be shouted down via some social Darwinism mechanic. These people do not usually agree with the capitalist mindset, IME.

I find it funny that Metafilter could be considered far left, which it demonstrably is not.

I find it sad that some people consider Metafilter to be unwelcoming to women or transgender members. I consider this to be a very open minded place, and very aware of the difficulties experienced by minority groups. There will always be loudmouths and show offs, but that doesn't mean that we have to listen to them or pay attention to them. Just don't look. Do your own thing.
posted by asok at 5:03 PM on March 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


This is where there exists a serious culture clash. Most folks who are minorities and who are in activist circles have, through their own experiences (mine included), formed a strong opinion that not speaking up in opposition to blatantly objectionable statements is actively destructive to us and our lives and livelihood.

So flagging and moving on is very difficult to do. I totally get that that's the right answer as far as Metafilter and Metafilter mods are concerned and I do my best to conform. But conforming to that expectation is challenging to he point of feeling destructive to me, especially when, because of moderation guidelines centered on continuity, extremely objectionable, bigoted or insulting comments are left to stand.

Again, i understand and try to conform to mod team expectations, but it's in social justice and equality activist threads where that happens that my frustration usually reaches its peak.
posted by kalessin at 5:16 PM on March 17, 2014 [4 favorites]


In response to Etrigan: Corinth’s comment got me thinking about an answer, although I probably don’t agree with how they get there:

If your "ideological diversity" involves "reasonable" conservative ideas about LGBT people, say, you're going to feel unfairly silenced and shut out. But it's not because more is being asked of you, it's simply because your starting point is further from the bar of respect that is being requested of all participants.

So regardless of feelings and beliefs, everyone deserves basic respect based on who say they are and how they say they want to be talked about. If you don’t give people that basic respect based on their wishes, you have to modify your behavior. That’s pretty much the guideline we seem to have.

The problem is that a lot of people want more than that, cannot meet that basic minimum, and/or misjudge each others' starting point even when they have good intentions.

It happens in highly personal (and therefore political) threads of all stripes, and that’s when it gets complicated.
posted by vincele at 5:17 PM on March 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


corb: "I hesitate to use real life examples, because it has a way of driving things into specific arguing for or against"

It seems to me y'all in the "mods are silencing dissenting voices" camp are going to have to get over this epidemic of example-phobia if you're trying to convince anyone that the mods are, in fact, silencing your dissenting voices. While it's true that re-litigating past disagreements may not be enjoyable for either side, and the merits of the particular argument you had in the past may color peoples' perceptions of the broader point you're trying to make, at some point, people are naturally going to conclude that you just don't have a case if you're not willing to show people the events that led you to conclude that there's a systemic site-wide problem.
posted by tonycpsu at 5:21 PM on March 17, 2014 [12 favorites]


kalessin, I am confused. Are you saying that your comments in social justice threads are being deleted? Or that you fear that they will be if you speak up?
posted by Wordwoman at 5:24 PM on March 17, 2014


Not feeling like conservatives should really feel singled out with the site as-is.

You're welcome to your opinion, of course. But since it seems like you would prefer that others not tell you how you "should feel," perhaps you might afford others the same. If you aren't conservative, then you don't know what it's like to participate on MetaFilter as one.

I agree that Admiral Haddock's assessment is accurate. I dislike some of what he said, but he's right about the site dynamic. It is telling that we have a conversation here about the site's liberal bent and several people have offered, "I'm liberal, but...", yet to my eye no one has raised their hand and said, "I am conservative."
posted by cribcage at 5:30 PM on March 17, 2014 [4 favorites]


Etrigan, I absolutely know that people on one side of the spectrum are more likely to misgender me, and I absolutely know that they feel oppressed on a political basis if they are not supported in doing so. I know that's how they feel. I'm simply incredibly tired of being treated like a political football by them when they proceed to protest about this and similar issues. My being trans is not political. Nor is treating me with respect. It's infuriating that it's made political by people who want to stall or insult. That's what I meant - they have a process for clothing bigoted inanity in the guise of politics because political views are treated more seriously than bigoted inanity. With one or two levels of abstraction they then have something that is tolerated and considered seriously in site policy discussions: "ideological diversity." I cannot think of a single conservative contrarian view included in the name of ideologically diversity that would improve LGBT threads that can already be strained under current site moderation practices.
posted by Corinth at 5:35 PM on March 17, 2014 [17 favorites]


Yes it does? I'm really not sure what words you're reading that make your statement a reality for you.

Well, sebmojo, I'm reading this:

we absolutely have mra dudes here. i do think some mefites have a trigger finger in pointing them out and can get a bit scattershot - but there are people who support pua, who participate over in reddit's mra communities, and espouse those beliefs here.

Which was glossed as:

But then someone will characterise Metafilter as rife with MRA, red-pill, full-on misogyny, and then the idea that if you make that claim, asking for any form of evidence to support it is negative behaviour, and while specific call-outs rarely go well it also seems unfair to the other users and even the mods to make it out that the site has a sizeable misogynistic presence that is just accepted...

These two don't resemble each other - compare and contrast! Where did that "rife" come from? Where did nadawi characterize MetaFilter as "rife with MRA, red-pill, full-on misogyny" or having a "sizeable misogynistic presence"?

The weird thing is, nadawi was making a pretty uncontroversial point - one supported by others such as cairdeas subsequently - and doing so in a conciliatory fashion. She specifically said "some mefites have a trigger finger in pointing them out and can get a bit scattershot". She was pre-emptively conceding that sometimes MRA-spotting was unhelpful or inaccurate. She was actually softening her core point (there are people who identify as men's rights activists and participate in reddit's PUA/MRA subreddits here) by acknowledging that MetaFilter was sometimes overzealous in seeing people as MRAs.

I mean, there's possibly something useful there, which is that there's no point in trying to soften your statement, because it's just not going to be read, but it's weird to me that the statement "there are MRAs on MetaFilter, although I think we can be overzealous in calling people out" (paraphrase) got read as "Metafilter is rife with MRA, red-pill, full-on misogyny and has a sizeable misgynistic presence" (close paraphrase). Or, indeeed, characterised as "screaming MRA/anti-feminists/geysers of male butthurt", but that's an outlier.

24 hours after the original statement, ringed around with concession as it was, there were still requests for examples of MRA content on MetaFilter. These requests stopped, conclusively, after nadawi disabled her account, for what I would imagine should be obvious reasons.

So, yeah. This doesn't feel like it should have been a huge stumper, but it seemed that these statements, which seemed pretty uncontroversial and self-explanatory to me, once again lowered the bar for what I can expect will make people on the Internet lose control of themselves in exciting ways.

Anyway, this feels like a derail at this point. One either can distinguish detail as well as shapes in words, or one can't, or one chooses when one does and one doesn't.

Perhaps one useful takeout is merely that this kind of editorialising paraphrase is, as is being discussed at length here, best watched out for, as it changes the meaning of the original statement.
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:36 PM on March 17, 2014 [10 favorites]


yet to my eye no one has raised their hand and said, "I am conservative."

I skew conservative on Metafilter, does that count? I mean, in the real world, my conservative friends think I'm hopelessly liberal, and I exist in social justice circles, but for Metafilter, I've been branded a conservative here and probably will be until I die.

Which, speaking of people talking about people as they would like to be talked about, is actually kind of irritating. I go with it, because it's just not worth fighting against stream, but as someone who's actually received real-life death threats from right-wingers for my lefty politics, it is actually kind of obnoxious.
posted by corb at 5:37 PM on March 17, 2014 [7 favorites]


Wordwoman, I'm not arguing that I'm feeling censored or singled out. I think I experience about the same amount of moderation that any Mefite of strong opinion receives. I don't think I've had any but the most inflammatory of my comments deleted. I do know I've been spoken to by mods about my comments on occasion, either publicly or privately.

What I'm arguing is that I don't agree that the conservative Mefite population is experiencing any particularly special scrutiny or moderation. We have strong opinions, we bring our hearts to the conversation, sometimes we have hard times letting go and stepping away and taking a break.
posted by kalessin at 5:38 PM on March 17, 2014


It seems to me y'all in the "mods are silencing dissenting voices" camp are going to have to get over this epidemic of example-phobia if you're trying to convince anyone that the mods are, in fact, silencing your dissenting voices.

of course, this whole thread was started over a specific example, wasn't it?

moreover, it's not just a matter of comments being deleted - it's a matter of people feeling they don't want to participate in threads because they have differing opinions than the majority, which a few people have expressed here - there's been accusations of strawmanning (in this thread), deliberate misquotation (there's a meta post right above this one about that) and hyperbole

an example of which is that some have chosen to equate dissenting opinions with MRA/PUA, transphobia and whatever extreme examples they can think of, examples that one can make a good case for moderation - but i don't believe the comment this thread is about is one of those cases

it's not the mods i hold mainly responsible - it's the users
posted by pyramid termite at 5:40 PM on March 17, 2014 [10 favorites]


> then you don't know what it's like to participate on MetaFilter as one.

[TRIGGER WARNING!]
Disagree. Some of my friends are conservatives. I know a lot of how they execute their interactions with the day to day world.

I also don't think it's productive to make this convo about the persecution, especially, of any one group, especially by the mods, who have been widely lauded as great mods.

I know that some conservatives around here demonstrably think their suffering is equal to or greater than mine and my friends' and colleagues'.

I am telling you that I have been beaten, "accidentally" assaulted, threatened with maiming and death, singled out, harassed for years by the same scary obsessed people, and left in a dumpster after a sound beating for the crime of being trans, have you got similar war stories about being conservative? Did you have bullies threaten to teach you what it's like to be a girl or boy (in a rapey way) or whatever the equivalent would be to you? Have you had bullies who were beating you threaten to sexually assault you or your parents or your friends or your loved ones for the simple fact of being conservative? How far has your personal experience of direct and violent persecution gone, as a conservative?

Please forgive me if I'm wrong in thinking that your personal experience of direct and violent persecution is not as extreme as mine.
posted by kalessin at 5:49 PM on March 17, 2014


pyramid termite: "of course, this whole thread was started over a specific example, wasn't it?"

Yes, and as I said above, "even if the community was in agreement that this particular intervention was unwarranted, one instance does not a cabal make." This kind of aggrieved siege mentality must be coming from some real instances of wrongdoing -- how hard is it to find them so we can debate them instead of talking past each other?

pyramid termite: " there's been accusations of strawmanning (in this thread)"

Are you talking about this? I see the spectres of "straw men" and "bad faith" being invoked, but not against any particular comment. These aren't magic words that you can call upon to neutralize everyone else's criticisms. A couple comments down, R. Schlock does again trot out "straw men" in response to the specific accusation that people hide behind ideology to be bigots, but does not demonstrate that nobody does this. (Neither do any of those arguing with him prove their side, of course, so that particular argument ends in a 0-0 draw.)

pyramid termite: "deliberate misquotation (there's a meta post right above this one about that)"

Right, that would be the meta post that begins with:
This isn't a callout of any particular person or example
so I don't think that's really proving anything about any particular marginalized-on-MeFi group.
posted by tonycpsu at 5:53 PM on March 17, 2014


Please forgive me if I'm wrong in thinking that your personal experience of direct and violent persecution is not as extreme as mine.

You seem to have mistaken this for a pissing contest. We aren't comparing whose experience has been worse. We are talking about the simple principle of not presuming to speak for experiences that are not yours.
posted by cribcage at 5:53 PM on March 17, 2014 [18 favorites]


kalessin, i'm sorry about your experiences, but did you experience any of that on metafilter? - by the way, i think we do have one poster here who has said family members were killed for political reasons - because they were "conservatives"
posted by pyramid termite at 5:56 PM on March 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


It's a shame when people die and a shame when people are hurt and continue to be hurt by assault and bullying.

I posted what I did not as a pissing contest but to stand up and say I have been bullied, assaulted, threatened. I am directly affected when folk around here say bigoted things that are "triggering". And I mean triggering, hard. I don't think it's suitable or polite to co-opt that term to apply to being reminded when people were mean to you by simply disagreeing with you, which is what almost went on in this thread.
posted by kalessin at 5:59 PM on March 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


so I don't think that's really proving anything about any particular marginalized-on-MeFi group.

it does not have to be about "any particular marginalized-on-MeFi group"

example - i voted for nader in 2000 - and caught a lot of shit for it when i said so here

example - i have spoken for the constitutional right to bear arms - and i've caught a lot of shit for that here

example - there have been those on the far left who have as much said that obama is a murderer, just another tool of the military/industrial complex - yes, they got a lot of shit for that too, although i'll admit one or two of them were too axe-grindy about it

and then there's the classic I/P stuff where everyone gives shit to everyone

---

I don't think it's suitable or polite to co-opt that term to apply to being reminded when people were mean to you by simply disagreeing with you, which is what almost went on in this thread.

almost, you say - almost

and that is precisely what i mean by hyperbole
posted by pyramid termite at 6:06 PM on March 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure where you saw people "almost" co-opt the concept of triggering in this thread, but I don't think it was any of my comments. I was the one who addressed you, and it was my comment you quoted and responded to, so now it seems as if you're pointing this co-opting finger at me. And that's wrong. Maybe you should count to ten.

Separately, I am of course sorry for your painful experiences. I would hope that goes without saying, but nevertheless.
posted by cribcage at 6:09 PM on March 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


hyperbole is rhetoric not meant to be taken literally.

I witnessed, in this thread someone who claimed that bigoted triggering happened in both directions. I directly challenged that. This person changed tacks and didn't respond directly to me.

cribcage also challenged and didn't follow up.

I am not using rhetoric and I do mean to be taken literally.

However, given that I'm not at that point of frustration I've mentioned earlier, where I feel like my wholly honest contributions made with good intent are being naysaid and picked apart to make some other point, I'm taking off. Do enjoy the rest of the thread.
posted by kalessin at 6:10 PM on March 17, 2014


And the fact that the willingness to allow ideologically diverse conversation on Metafilter is difficult does not mean it should just give up and become the Leftist Action Network. There are plenty of other echo chambers out there. Metafilter should not succumb to the temptation to join their ranks.

I guess is-ought here, Metafilter maybe ought to strive for this, but if it is practically allowing a very narrow slice of Americentric or at best Anglocentric (and even there the site skews American on the acceptability of certain c- and t- words) political views, let's acknowledge.

Not to mention that it's far from clear that the vocal minorities who control certain threads and vociferously shout down opposition really represent the views of the masses of users.

I'm doing cryptos and people chat about what's moving the market ... and sometimes I have to say, "Yo, remember half these people are Chinese they don't give a fuck about this American-specific bullshit." Similarly I think the mass of users is on Ask Metafilter ... asking ... things.

Parenthetically, it'd be great if people stopped assuming that the right-wing cooptation of "ideological diversity" was the only game in town, and/or that right-wing views were the only ones in danger of being shouted down in favor of a putative liberal orthodoxy around here. Farther-left-versus-liberal disagreements happen here all the time in discussions of certain issues, and the results can be every bit as ugly, particularly since it frequently happens that all disagreement is preemptively ascribed to conservatism, or imagined to be a bad-faith mask for conservatism. Valuing ideological diversity can help discussions within the left, or between the center and the left — it's not just a mask for special pleading from the right, even if it undeniably sometimes is that.

It seriously seems to follow along a bit off of the left edge of the Democratic Party line, but never too far. I don't know who leads who, or if the dog chases its own tail. (I definitely typed doge there on my first try.)
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 6:35 PM on March 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


Dude. Possibly when the question is next asked "why are people so mean to conservatives on MetaFilter?", the answer may come "because that one conservative guy responded to someone relating their experience of abuse by calling it a 'pissing contest', and then told them to count to ten when they got upset."

I mean, you're under no obligation to be a model citizen, of course, but if there really are so few of you you're kind of representing the brand.
posted by running order squabble fest at 6:36 PM on March 17, 2014 [5 favorites]


even there the site skews American on the acceptability of certain c- and t- words

We have the same approach to the word spaz even though it's definitely not as offensive in the US as it is in the UK. It's not "Oh our interpretation of the offensiveness of this word is the correct one" it's "There's a non-zero number of people here who find the word incredibly offensive so let's not toss it around here, okay?"

That said, I dont' follow much of the ret of what you said, so it's possible I missed what you were getting at.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:38 PM on March 17, 2014 [8 favorites]


It is not specifically too important but it's an example of Americentrism is all.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 6:41 PM on March 17, 2014


These two don't resemble each other - compare and contrast! Where did that "rife" come from? Where did nadawi characterize MetaFilter as "rife with MRA, red-pill, full-on misogyny" or having a "sizeable misogynistic presence"?

These would be much better points if I was basing it all on nadawi's comment, which I said I wasn't doing. Twice. Users like cairdeas specifying there are self-identifying MRAs on Metafilter (who, if they do, you would have thought could be listed as it's a group they specifically identify with) or kalessin, saying one appears in every SJ-ish thread they read. Actual, specific comments by other users.

I didn't particularly care if we got a list or not, but usually sweeping generalisations aren't well-received without at least a couple of examples, because it becomes a wide assertion with no other backup than 'it's true, trust me.' Users who don't have the same experience will, understandably, question that.

After this [McCarthyism] happened, and apparently because of it, she disabled her account.

Apparently. You don't know. It seems cause and effect to you, and you claim it's how it happened, but you're only presuming. If, as you said, "It's important, I think, to maintain good narrative boundaries," it doesn't do much good to have just been jumping to your own conclusions before attempting to establish those boundaries.

(And not your comment, but considering two mentions in a very long thread was referred to as constantly referencing McCarthyism, you might be drawing a long bow here.)

For all I know, nadawi disabled her account because of exactly why you said. Or not. It was, after all, her choice, and to speculate decidedly based on what she wrote to cortex and then he wrote in the thread, especially to try and shame the users perceived to have driven her to it, doesn't seem good faith to me.

But then, adding something like:

What we know for a fact is that the people who had hassled her then in some cases made assiduous statements about what a great member she is and how they hoped she'd be back soon, for reasons that remain theirs to understand and explain.

As if it's some great unknown that users might have a disagreement with another user but still find them overall useful, interesting, insightful and/or worthwhile? Suggests to me that good faith left the building some time prior.
posted by gadge emeritus at 6:41 PM on March 17, 2014 [5 favorites]


I've expressed opinions that were unpopular with the majority. For instance, I tend to skew pretty conservative on the topic of appropriate workplace attire. Other users have expressed their disagreement, sometimes very harshly and vociferously. I don't think that means Metafilter is officially a Casual Skimpy Clothing Endorsement Site and needs to have something in writing stating as much.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:55 PM on March 17, 2014 [3 favorites]


I used to have a blog.

One day, I watched a TV show that featured PUA's. I had never heard of them, and so, it set me off, and I ranted about it on my blog.

Within 24 hours, I had not only the guests on the show commenting on my blog, but all of their followers. How it wasn't fair that women would not date them, so it was only right that they had to use the techniques, negging, etc., they were so lonely and it was all women's fault!!!!

Another guy came on and said maybe my husband should hypnotize me to want to get laid. Because that was obviously my problem with this whole PUA thing, I really wanted sex. He was particularly creep-tastic.

And finally I left it, because I was genuinely trying to engage with some of the guys, but then the talk show guests started wanting me to review their books and endorse them, and I was like, uh, no... not me.

But they flocked. Flocked to my blog. And they all wanted me to approve of them and see their point of view. After a while, I began to see how utterly sad they were, for following these guru's advice on how to pick up women and how to view women as the enemy, and it was their right to neg them because otherwise they would never have the opportunity to get laid.

So this comment... I have worked in offices over the years, and I can sort of see the disgruntled view behind it... a woman manager was mean. Yes, well, women managers in the 1980's were often very stern and mean because they had to prove that they were just as good as the men. Shoulder pads and all that. But nowadays, come on! If a woman manager was mean to you, and over-reached herself? That's just flamebait. What is your point? Women managers can be as jerky as male managers? Women should be nice? I agree with the comment deletion wholeheartedly. I don't care if a woman made the comment: the premise was that women managers have to be nice and so, the comment was deleted, and now we have this giant thread about it because you didn't get your point across, you brought it here. I guess you got your point across: you are tone deaf.

Guess what? I don't care about your point of view. I have worked under women managers and I have managed people myself. If you have a story, share it. Don't come onto this lovely, lovely community website and drop a huge TURD into a thread about young girls being called bossy and expect people to call it a glass of rosewater. As we used to say, "you think you're a hot shit on a silver platter, but you're really a cold fart in a Dixie cup."
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 6:59 PM on March 17, 2014 [34 favorites]


pyramid termite: "an example of which is that some have chosen to equate dissenting opinions with MRA/PUA, transphobia and whatever extreme examples they can think of"

If I'm included in this 'some', I think you're assuming I see a bunch of windbagging about dissenting opinions as important enough to - what - try to smear them by association with transphobia? I'm literally being the most honest I've ever been on the internet when I say I don't give a shit either way whether some people's Very Important Opinions get the response they feel they deserve on MetaFilter.

I do care about the potential I see for transphobic speech to be given legitimacy in a space that's been pleasingly intolerant of it, as a result - intentional or otherwise - of this ideological broadening people are proposing. That matters to me. If I were convinced there was no risk of that happening, I wouldn't be paying this stuff any attention at all.
posted by emmtee at 7:00 PM on March 17, 2014


Hey, kalessin?

I have also had a slew of violent things happened to me in life. I mostly talk about them in relation to violence against children.

I have, in my perception, come very close to being raped and murdered by a male stranger three times that I remember in very vivid detail: once in NYC while waiting for a bus after midnight when I was 20, once in NYC in a near-empty office building on an empty street, also at night, when I was 21, once in another major city when I was working the overnight shift at a 24 hour gym, when I was 23.

I have been backhanded to the ground, hit with many different objects, thrown down stairs, deliberately hurt playing sports. Multiple boyfriends have called me a bitch or a cunt. I've been called a slut and a whore by an elder family member. I have heard comments about my looks and body shouted by men from cars, pickups, garbage trucks since the age of 12. I had a man (unknown to me, a stranger) scream "FUCK YOU, BITCH!" at my departing train pulling out of the station in the middle of the evening rush hour. I've had strange men yell "Hey white bitch" at me on the street followed by a string of disgusting comments.

That is just an overview, and that is all in person. Then I get online and take a look at what these people REALLY think. I just look at the horror.

I have a deep-seated anxiety disorder that has been so severe that I could not only not leave my room, but I also couldn't eat. At all. For days. In fact, it once got so bad that I was not able to drink liquids, either. When it got to that point, I had to go to the emergency room. I have also been medically diagnosed with PTSD.

So let me tell you this.

I want people to be able to talk and say what they think even if I don't agree with it.

That is just me. That is just my own opinion. But neither of us can speak for "marginalized" people. None of us can speak for people who have had really shitty things happen to them. Not all of whom, by the way, are part of "marginalized groups."

Everyone is different. Everyone reacts differently.

I understand the desire of some people for a "safe space." But please know that there are some of us who do not wish to participate in a "safe space" who have experienced very terrible things. It is very frustrating to see it characterized as something that must only be true of a person who has never experienced terrible things in life and just must be more privileged.

Some of us feel more disempowered when we cannot have honest and forthright conversations with disagreeing people about these things. Think of it this way: where else but the internet can I have an honest discussion about some of these things without worrying about being physically assaulted? Because I HAVE been physically assaulted for talking about them in person.

Also, to tonycpsu: It seems to me y'all in the "mods are silencing dissenting voices" camp are going to have to get over this epidemic of example-phobia if you're trying to convince anyone that the mods are, in fact, silencing your dissenting voices.

I often complain about certain opinions being prohibited when they are opinions that annoy me and I do not agree with them. So, it bothers me to see those of us who are complaining in this thread about certain opinions being prohibited, characterized as complaining about OUR dissenting voices being silenced. In this thread, the voice that I am complaining about being silenced, is the voice of a stranger and it's a voice that's saying things that really piss me off. I would really appreciate for that to be taken into account.
posted by cairdeas at 7:05 PM on March 17, 2014 [33 favorites]


I do care about the potential for transphobic speech to be given legitimacy in a space that's been pleasingly intolerant of it, as a result - intentional or otherwise - of this ideological broadening people are proposing.

i care about that, too - but we already have a policy regarding that and i don't feel that the concept of trying to be more tolerant of unpopular viewpoints should be interpreted as being more tolerant of hateful viewpoints

it's kind of a slippery slope argument you're making here - and i think that attempting to use worse case scenarios is in fact a way to shut down unpopular views that have nothing to do with what you're concerned with
posted by pyramid termite at 7:09 PM on March 17, 2014 [5 favorites]


It seems to me y'all in the "mods are silencing dissenting voices" camp are going to have to get over this epidemic of example-phobia

I often complain about certain opinions being prohibited

I was really hoping your links were to some examples of a 'certain opinion being prohibited', but no. Someone needs to find this cure of example-phobia quick!
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 7:10 PM on March 17, 2014 [3 favorites]


It ain't that easy to link to examples of deleted comments when they were, you know, deleted. I was trying to find this one thread where I was trying to talk to a man, who was expressing opinions that were critical of women, and the mods kept deleting everything he would try to post moments after he posted it. I finally got so frustrated that I posted something like "Can you guys just let him talk???" And that was deleted. It's not easy to search for which thread that was, either, but if I could see my deleted comment history, I could find the thread for you.
posted by cairdeas at 7:14 PM on March 17, 2014 [3 favorites]


I get shit deleted all the time, so the fact that something is deleted doesn't speak to the cause of its deletion.

Really, numerous people have accused the mods here of deleting things for political reasons, and no one has been able to offer up any evidence of such behavior.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 7:20 PM on March 17, 2014 [4 favorites]


I was trying to find this one thread where I was trying to talk to a man, who was expressing opinions that were critical of women, and the mods kept deleting everything he would try to post moments after he posted it. I finally got so frustrated that I posted something like "Can you guys just let him talk???" And that was deleted.

While I (a woman) can sympathize with your frustration, this is what MeMail is for.
posted by hapax_legomenon at 7:29 PM on March 17, 2014 [3 favorites]


I completely agree hapax legomenon, you are totally right.
posted by cairdeas at 7:30 PM on March 17, 2014


Or rather, I should have said it in the contact form.
posted by cairdeas at 7:33 PM on March 17, 2014


I was trying to find this one thread where I was trying to talk to a man, who was expressing opinions that were critical of women, and the mods kept deleting everything he would try to post moments after he posted it.

That was this thread, re: Ervin, who had a couple of bogged-down-by-metacommentary comments nixed in between his initial comment and some of his later comments, basically ignoring a moderator in the process. Note that those later comments, the ones engaging the topic instead of concepts of moderation, are still right there in the thread. (He also had some even later ones nixed that were getting into one-liner inter-user sniping, as did someone responding to him in kind.)

Your metacommentary about his metacommentary got deleted too, yeah. That's pretty basic site procedure. I appreciate you are bringing this up as an example of something you couldn't search for because it wasn't searchable, but it's also a pretty poor example of someone being silenced for a critical opinion rather than for doing a topic-neutral "don't do that, go to Metatalk for that" thing.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:35 PM on March 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


For all I know, nadawi disabled her account because of exactly why you said.

Dude, I didn't say a why. This is, I think, the problem you're having here. Referring back to what I just said to Sebmojo: words mean particular things. They aren't just there to pin an emotional affect onto a narrative sketch. What I actually wrote was:

And then got hassled until she closed her account.

She was hassled until she closed her account, then she stopped being hassled, for what should be fairly obvious reasons. The stated aim of her closing her account was to avoid "getting into it here". That was the result. The people who had been hassling her then stopped hassling her - something which her own statement that she wasn't going to provide names or examples, and lobstermitten's statement that this should not happen, had not achieved.

I get that there is a narrative here that you want events to follow. I am not judging you for that.

Likewise, if you want to speculate about her motivation, that's your right. But when you say:

more that she stepped away for awhile to cool off

You are telling a story to yourself - one in which nadawi is concerned about her own heated emotional state - which is a whole can of worms I see little point in opening at this point, btw. One in which, in fact, her emotions are the problem which she is taking steps to address. You are imagining things about internal qualities. Maybe true - who knows? But an inference at best.

Likewise, the idea that I am trying to shame anyone is not just imaginary - it's not even original. It's the uncritical retelling of a really weird reading by dazed_one. Again, I can't stop people making up fantasies about me - it might be the only thing keeping some people hanging on! - but it's not really something I have control over. It's bad-faith fanfic, but I guess at least I'm not being shipped with the Winchesters. Or, to put it another way:

If your response is solid, it shouldn't require misrepresenting what you're replying to in such an egregious fashion. It would be very helpful to try and bear that and mind.


If you want me to editorialize, though, I'm happy to! I think the hassling was over the top and silly, and at times erred towards shitty. It reminded me, ironically, of the badgering the "reason and logic" crowd subject people to on some parts of Reddit, and it continued long after both nadawi and lobstermitten had made it clear it wasn't going to go anywhere. And yeah, God knows what someone might have fanficced her as saying if she had actually said what I interpreted from what you wrote that you had imagined she had said.

Speaking of which, the stuff about Cairdeas and Kalessin? Again, here's what you wrote, which is all I had to go on:

But then someone will characterise Metafilter as rife with MRA, red-pill, full-on misogyny, and then the idea that if you make that claim, asking for any form of evidence to support it is negative behaviour, and while specific call-outs rarely go well it also seems unfair to the other users and even the mods to make it out that the site has a sizeable misogynistic presence that is just accepted...

That's singular someone, which could be a general statement, but it's clearly and specifically describing what was happening with nadawi - I don't think cairdeas or Kalessin were pressed to provide evidence. You don't mention them until after nadawi disabled her account, and neither actually says what you say they [arguendo] are saying, which sort of brings us back to square one. But if you meant to refer to all three of them, then... cool, that's useful info. It's definitely a thing to take on board. But I did not read it as such, and my reading was based on what I had to work with in the text.

In a discursive space it's worthwhile for us to focus tightly on what people are actually saying and what is actually happening, rather than what we imagine people might have been feeling, or what we think people must have said in order to make them resemble what we want them to resemble. What I'm getting right now is that both writing and reading are being done in a pretty rough-and-ready fashion here, which makes the whole enterprise difficult to the point of being compromised, pretty much from the off. It's tricky, because emotional topics are the hardest to maintain focus with, but also the ones which need it most.

What one does with that is tricky. Generally, the answer to poor communication is meant to be more communication, but without retooling I don't know if that would be anything but more of the same cross-purposes stuff, which is depressing and time-consuming.
posted by running order squabble fest at 7:38 PM on March 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


it's also a pretty poor example of someone being silenced for a critical opinion rather than for doing a topic-neutral "don't do that, go to Metatalk for that" thing.

I absolutely don't disagree. But, as everyone keeps saying, that is in and of itself part of the issue -- that the comments that are deleted for "topic-neutral" reasons in controversial threads, seem to almost uniformly be comments expressing disfavored views.

I don't disbelieve you when you say that is not deliberate and I'm not saying you guys are lying. However, that doesn't mean it's not happening. We can agree to disagree but at this point, dozens and dozens of people right here in this thread are trying to point something out.

I often see the mod team say, "if you think you're coming across one way, but dozens of people are taking it another way, maybe it's time to really rethink why that is." That may apply here.
posted by cairdeas at 7:48 PM on March 17, 2014 [10 favorites]


In a discursive space it's worthwhile for us to focus tightly on what people are actually saying and what is actually happening, rather than what we imagine people might have been feeling, or what we think people must have said in order to make them resemble what we want them to resemble. What I'm getting right now is that both writing and reading are being done in a pretty rough-and-ready fashion here, which makes the whole enterprise difficult to the point of being compromised, pretty much from the off. It's tricky, because emotional topics are the hardest to maintain focus with, but also the ones which need it most.

This is very, very true. But applicable to different people depending on your perspective. What you seem to apply to me (and others) is exactly what I apply to you (and others). You invoke Reddit to describe my responses and wrote, After this happened, and apparently because of it, she disabled her account. But somehow my qualifiers and saying that we don't know why nadawi pressed the button are irrelevant, but your qualifiers are actually much more representative of your careful statements about commenting.

I mean, this is something I see in MetaFilter a lot, not just from specifically you or on specifically me - your lived-in experience is my 'the plural of anecdote is not anecdata', and vice versa, or my rephrasing of a comment to get at its real meaning is your complete comprehension fail, and so on.

But, and to get back to specifically you, rosf? I believe this is something you do, and not infrequently. So I thinking washing my hands of it is the best idea.
posted by gadge emeritus at 7:52 PM on March 17, 2014 [4 favorites]


It would be really nice it people would respect nadawi's choice, and show some consideration for her privacy by not holding her up as some sort of human shield while you argue points that no longer involve her.
posted by nacho fries at 7:55 PM on March 17, 2014 [18 favorites]


You invoke Reddit to describe my responses

Nope. I said - in sentences, made of words:

If you want me to editorialize, though, I'm happy to! I think the hassling was over the top and silly, and at times erred towards shitty. It reminded me, ironically, of the badgering the "reason and logic" crowd subject people to on some parts of Reddit, and it continued long after both nadawi and lobstermitten had made it clear it wasn't going to go anywhere.

I don't mention you. Why would I mention you? You weren't hassling anyone, except in a very abstract sense.

At this point, I think we're at an impasse. There's no way to communicate if you're going to imagine what you want to respond to, based loosely on some words.

Which was my point - speculating about someone's emotional state is not the same as describing things that are actually recorded, in sentences, made of words, in the thread. We can't even disagree, really - the basic linguistic apparatus required for dissent is not functional.

Maybe Gorgias is right. Regardless, this is pretty depressing.
posted by running order squabble fest at 8:05 PM on March 17, 2014


I often see the mod team say, "if you think you're coming across one way, but dozens of people are taking it another way, maybe it's time to really rethink why that is." That may apply here.

That's well said. But I think it's complicated by having just as many people feeling and expressing the exact opposite, or that insulting and hateful (even unintentionally so) stuff is allowed to stand too much.

I mean, if X people are saying one thing and X people are saying the opposite, then, maybe both are true? It's unhelpful, except to point out that some reflection might be required. And I don't think any of the mods would disagree that some reflection on the subject amongst themselves might be a good idea, if only to decide that they're threading the needle right where they want to be (between a rock and a hard place, apparently) already.
posted by ctmf at 8:10 PM on March 17, 2014


That's well said. But I think it's complicated by having just as many people feeling and expressing the exact opposite, or that insulting and hateful (even unintentionally so) stuff is allowed to stand too much.

ctmf, the number of favorites this comment garnered belies what you are saying about "just as many people feeling and expressing the exact opposite." (Somehow I don't think they're just bookmarks.)
posted by Wordwoman at 8:19 PM on March 17, 2014


Oh, believe me, Wordwoman, I don't doubt for a minute that a lot of people feel that way. What I'm saying is, it's a trade-off. A lot of other people have also said that they come here specifically because people can't get away with casual, drive-by crappiness that exists on other sites. So for the mods, it's kind of a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't situation.

I don't feel like the mods have no idea that there are people who feel constricted by the moderation. I do feel like the people who feel constricted by the moderation (and I sympathize with that, for non-fighty "derails," but I have to assume the mods know better than I do what's going to be fighty from experience) are downplaying the concerns about the kind of crap that would go on with lighter moderation and the people that would leave because of that.

Seems like the "boyzone" fracas of years ago was this fight in reverse.

There are sites that allow more of a free-for-all atmosphere. Why don't those sites attract the quality of membership that MeFi does? Chicken/Egg.
posted by ctmf at 8:31 PM on March 17, 2014 [8 favorites]


(That was embarrassingly poorly written, even for me, sorry. Hopefully you can figure out what I meant.)
posted by ctmf at 8:34 PM on March 17, 2014


Chicken.
posted by futz at 9:39 PM on March 17, 2014


Wordswoman as a datapoint of someone who favorited that comment, I felt ambivalent about it. I don't know what a Portlandia Liberal is because I have no interest in that tv show. It reminds me of that catchphrase by David Brooks-- "bobos"-- that I still see now and then. It rings true because it has to do with place, lifestyle and a certain type of conspicuous consumption (I think Portlandia does) but there's no evidence for to bear out the description of users here.

As for the favorites I don't think people really want their opinions challenged from "ideologically diverse people on the right" (quotes to signal euphemism) or even from the far left. Challenges do not go well. When people see what different viewpoints look like, they do not like what they see. People here are good at identifying offensive views from the right. (But we are not good at identifying views from within the left, as RogerB said. That is surprising since so many identify with the left or as liberal.)

This is a problem specific to America due to the fact that there isn't a plurality of viable political parties with platforms staked at points along the left-right spectrum the way there is in other constitutional democracies (and countries working toward democracy). US politicians don't even clearly promote the positions people here claim, including myself. So people end up talking about "conservatives," "liberal" and "the left" with any precision. It's an odd state of affairs we might as well acknowledge and it is not the fault of Metafilter.
posted by vincele at 10:42 PM on March 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


Perhaps it isn't worth my entering the thread to make this clarification, but kalessin I think when you say this:

I witnessed, in this thread someone who claimed that bigoted triggering happened in both directions. I directly challenged that. This person changed tacks and didn't respond directly to me.

...you are referring to this comment by Sebmojo.

I had favorited that comment. EmpressCallipygos had said that perhaps marginalized people were "getting fed up with holding their tongues and finally saying 'you know what, I've never been cool with this, but this is the first time I felt brave enough to say something.'" Sebmojo said that could be argued on either side, i.e. that there may be people with outlier views on various topics on Metafilter who generally stay quiet but are now piping up in this thread (or favoriting cairdeas's comment?) to say they wish things could be different.

At least that's how I read it, and I favorited it because I suspect there are tons of Mefites who comment rarely because they are afraid of being piled on, and I think that's a shame. But that is not the same as saying those people are oppressed in some way, nor that "bigoted triggering" is happening to them. In fact, the use of "trigger" that Empress was replying to was not in the context of trauma at all, but of people being "hair triggery" in their responses. I don't think anyone in this thread has compared the treatment of conservatives or other outliers on Metafilter to the oppression of minorities IRL.
posted by torticat at 11:23 PM on March 17, 2014 [9 favorites]


That is exactly right, torticat, yes. Kalessin read it wrong and I'd taken myself and my rising blood pressure out of the thread at that point.
posted by Sebmojo at 1:36 AM on March 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


Actually, toricat, I DID mean the trauma kind of triggers.

I was replying to a comment that I took to mean "metafilter has become a place where everyone is complaining about triggers all the time and why can't we talk about the stuff we used to," with "triggers" standing in as the new term for "politically correct". The implication being, as I perceived it, that "no one had a problem with us saying some of these things I the past so why is it a problem now". My point was that maybe people DID have a problem in the past but weren't saying anything.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:51 AM on March 18, 2014 [5 favorites]


Actually, toricat, I DID mean the trauma kind of triggers.

I was replying to a comment that I took to mean "metafilter has become a place where everyone is complaining about triggers all the time and why can't we talk about the stuff we used to," with "triggers" standing in as the new term for "politically correct". The implication being, as I perceived it, that "no one had a problem with us saying some of these things I the past so why is it a problem now". My point was that maybe people DID have a problem in the past but weren't saying anything.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:51 AM on March 18 [2 favorites +] [!]



It seems like a major reach to get from "hair-triggery" which was the words used in the comment you replied to "Triggers" in the sense of trigger warnings.

I can't see how anyone could actually make that leap.
posted by Reggie Knoble at 2:26 AM on March 18, 2014 [3 favorites]


It seems like a major reach to get from "hair-triggery" which was the words used in the comment you replied to "Triggers" in the sense of trigger warnings.

I can't see how anyone could actually make that leap.


Easily? I read her comment (twice), thought about its context in the thread and past discussions (and what I remember about comments by EmpressCallipygos from past threads), and arrived at the meaning she just confirmed. It's not the least complex comment in this thread, but it's not hard to parse.
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:41 AM on March 18, 2014


Well obviously I'm not disputing what EmpressCallipygos meant. She would be the expert on her own thoughts.

I just don't understand how you get from a use of the common term "hair trigger" to "Trigger" as in trigger warnings.

I think she has misread cavaliers comment in a very strange way is all.

but it's not hard to parse

Which is exactly how I feel about cavaliers comment, hence the confusion on the mis-read.
posted by Reggie Knoble at 2:49 AM on March 18, 2014 [3 favorites]


No, it's how people actually feel. They really do think that people should be referred to by their birth-assigned gender. It's used as a whitewash, yes, but it's also how they really feel, and it is official MetaFilter policy to not let them do that.

And some people do REALLY FEEL like women should stay at home and are inferior to men, that white people are the superior race and that racial slurs are an acceptable and appropriate way to refer to anyone who isn't white, and so on. That someone genuinely believes in a lack of respect does nothing to make it not a lack of respect, and is not a reason to tolerate it.

People on metafilter are often asked to modulate the way they communicate for the site. You might jokingly exchange "fuck you"s as a matter of course in any and all arguments with your friends offline, but that doesn't mean it's acceptable here. You might not think trans people, or women, or ethnic minorities, or whoever are deserving of respect, but on Metafilter, you're asked to treat other members with respect, and that overrules any convictions you might have otherwise (much like you might genuinely feel that other member is a fucking asshole, but you're not allowed to say that either). Genuinely feeling something does not give you carte blanche to treat other mefites like dirt, and an overriding rule of "show respect" is not political in and of itself.
posted by Dysk at 4:00 AM on March 18, 2014 [24 favorites]


Apologies for the double post:

No, it's how people actually feel. They really do think that people should be referred to by their birth-assigned gender. It's used as a whitewash, yes, but it's also how they really feel, and it is official MetaFilter policy to not let them do that.

It's also not MetaFilter's policy to let or not let people feel anything. What mefi policy prohibits them from doing is expressing things that are hurtful to other members. They can feel whatever they like. Again, much like metafilter does not stop you thinking or feeling that another member is an asshole, but there is a policy against calling them one.
posted by Dysk at 4:03 AM on March 18, 2014 [6 favorites]


I think she has misread cavaliers comment in a very strange way is all.

I read cavalier's comment as a dismissal of people who push back against sexism, racism, etc. In that light, the comment by EmpressCalyptygos was a slightly vehement but entirely understandable response. Your nit-picking about "hair-trigger" and "triggering," I assume unknowingly, is reminiscent of very common internet tactics for undercutting people who are tired of putting up with the casual sexism and racism of Internet forums. I do not think that commen was misread.
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:07 AM on March 18, 2014


500+ posts, geez: https://xkcd.com/386/ (the mods could think this one over too)
posted by msittig at 4:31 AM on March 18, 2014


Your nit-picking about "hair-trigger" and "triggering," I assume unknowingly, is reminiscent of very common internet tactics for undercutting people who are tired of putting up with the casual sexism and racism of Internet forums. I do not think that commen was misread.

They are completely different terms with completely different meanings, I hardly think that making a distinction between the two is nit-picking. Nor is giving cavalier the very basic good faith assumption that what they said is what they actually meant.
posted by Reggie Knoble at 4:34 AM on March 18, 2014 [10 favorites]


I just don't understand how you get from a use of the common term "hair trigger" to "Trigger" as in trigger warnings.

By my somehow not seeing the word "hair".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:35 AM on March 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


No, it's how people actually feel. They really do think that people should be referred to by their birth-assigned gender. It's used as a whitewash, yes, but it's also how they really feel, and it is official MetaFilter policy to not let them do that.

It's also not MetaFilter's policy to let or not let people feel anything. What mefi policy prohibits them from doing is expressing things that are hurtful to other members. They can feel whatever they like. Again, much like metafilter does not stop you thinking or feeling that another member is an asshole, but there is a policy against calling them one.


And when the mods specifically declare misgendering -- and it's not just other members; the first official citation of the policy I can find was about Chelsea Manning -- as hurtful and declare that people cannot do it here, they are making an ideological stand in the world today. I agree with you that it is a correct one, but it is absolutely one that is expressive of a certain political philosophy -- and treating it as though it is a purely apolitical already-settled issue of respect is also making an ideological stand.

I genuinely wish that respecting your gender expression (and Manning's, and that of everyone else in the world) wasn't something that people could use as a political football, but that's not where our society is right now, and declaring that thing off-limits is exactly what this MeTa is (more or less) about: Is MeFi a place with a certain ideological slant where comments that do not agree with that slant are moderated more heavily? The answer is pretty undeniably Yes, but you and I happen to be okay with that on this particular issue.
posted by Etrigan at 4:35 AM on March 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


By my somehow not seeing the word "hair".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:35 AM on March 18 [+] [!]



Cool. Simple as that

Thanks.
posted by Reggie Knoble at 4:36 AM on March 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


And now that my choice of words has been thoroughly analyzed, what do people think of the fucking content of my words?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:40 AM on March 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


I genuinely wish that respecting your gender expression (and Manning's, and that of everyone else in the world) wasn't something that people could use as a political football, but that's not where our society is right now, and declaring that thing off-limits is exactly what this MeTa is (more or less) about: Is MeFi a place with a certain ideological slant where comments that do not agree with that slant are moderated more heavily? The answer is pretty undeniably Yes, but you and I happen to be okay with that on this particular issue.

So you're really sorry that we're being used as a political football, but you're going to do it anyway?

Mefi is a place where we demonstrate some basic respect to other members, directly and indirectly. That there is an increasing awareness of what this means to various groups of people, and that there are people who disagree that demonstrating this respect is necessary, good, or even non-terrible does not make it an issue any bigger than that. I do not simply agree on this particular issue - if people take objection to things that I say, or feel their basic humanity is being undermined by it, I will listen. Seeing this as a political position rather than a position of not being a jerk puzzles me.
posted by Dysk at 4:45 AM on March 18, 2014 [13 favorites]


I think Etrigan's point is not about agreeing whether respect is necessary or good. Rather, I think Etrigan's point is that people disagree about what constitutes "respect." The word is a characterization. It is conclusory.

If I'm misreading Etrigan, then apologies for adding to the confusion.
posted by cribcage at 5:20 AM on March 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


Naturally different people will have different ideas of what constitutes respect. There is no objective standard. Which is why it strikes me as eminently sensible to defer to the expressed wishes of groups of people about what constitutes insult or disrespect to them.

This isn't about my opinion. It's about listening to women on sexism and women's issues, to people of ethnic minority status about racism, to queer people about homophobia, etcetera, etcetera.
posted by Dysk at 5:30 AM on March 18, 2014 [9 favorites]


And now that my choice of words has been thoroughly analyzed, what do people think of the fucking content of my words?

Well, that is quite the problem, isn't it? I mean, at a level higher than specific word choices, the interaction between you and cavalier is pretty clear and honest (if contentious). Neither of those comments were hard to read.

It's also interesting that the same level of parsing is not done by people defending inkypinky (whose comment is the ostensible subject of this post). There are kind of two possibilities: either inkypinky did not intend to derail the thread and posed her comment in a poor way (as more charitable "good deletion" commenters have suggested), or she intended to post just what she did, derail or not. In the latter case, the deletion was sound. In the former case, she could have discussed the problem with the mods and posted a clearer comment that would have gotten her point across. Yet none of her defenders seems interested in suggesting ways that that comment could be modified to get her point across and be more constructive.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:35 AM on March 18, 2014


So you're really sorry that we're being used as a political football, but you're going to do it anyway?

No, as cribcage translated, I'm saying that other people are doing it, and the mods coming down firmly on one side or the other is therefore doing it as well. The fact that I agree with them and you does not make it less of an ideological issue in a lot of people's eyes.
posted by Etrigan at 5:36 AM on March 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


Actually, political scientist Raymond Wolfinger's famous and typically misquoted expression was: "the plural of anecdote IS data."

That's one of those classic internet-has-it-backwards memes.

Of course that only works if some anecdotes don't have more authority than others, which alas is not the case around here.

I agree with cardeias' comment above. MeFi has definitely changed, from my perspective in ways I don't find agreeable, but I think it's mostly me aging out of youthful idealism and political self-assurance.

Everyone who is able to post here enjoys some level of privilege.
posted by spitbull at 5:41 AM on March 18, 2014 [4 favorites]


In a different thread about Chelsea Manning, the person most keen to misgender Manning and who talked about it as a political position was absolutely aware that doing so was disrespectful, though they were under the impression that they could somehow magically indicate that disrespect in that way *only* towards Manning and no other trans person. There was no disagreement there about what was or was not respectful.
posted by rtha at 5:44 AM on March 18, 2014 [3 favorites]


Everyone who is able to post here enjoys some level of privilege.

Has anyone said otherwise? Why is this relevant to anything?
posted by Dysk at 5:50 AM on March 18, 2014


It's an observation. It's "relevant" to the extent you find it true or interesting.

If you don't, that shouldn't mean I can't say it without drawing exactly that kind of dismissive response.

Perfect example of what I mean. Who put you in charge of declaring what (or whose) observations are "relevant?"

A discourse about privilege prevails here in recent years, often painted in falsely dichotomized terms that empower an abuse of disclaimed privilege.

Two and out. Nothing more to say.
posted by spitbull at 5:57 AM on March 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


It read entirely like a gotcha or accusation to me. I'm not putting myself in charge of anything - simply asking a question of you: what prompted you to say it?

Of course we are all privileged, and we are all oppressed. It's matter of degrees and along which axes.
posted by Dysk at 5:59 AM on March 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


Yet none of her defenders seems interested in suggesting ways that that comment could be modified to get her point across and be more constructive.

Is it your position that the content of that comment is so toxic that it is impossible to rephrase it in a way that would survive deletion? I'd respectfully disagree, though I think the "comment translations" are problematic because they put words in another user's mouth. I've personally never heard of inkypinky before today (but I'm terrible with names), and I don't know where she was going with what seems to me (apologies) as a kind of slap dash comment, as she herself acknowledged.

That said, I'd be shocked if it would be deleted had it been presented as:

"As a woman in the workplace, I would never turn back the clock on feminism. But the recent Sandbergian "lean in/reclaim bossy" stage of feminism troubles me. As it's being practiced in my own workplace, I find that some women are leaning in right over me, and it's as if the male colleagues who might have been hostile to me simply because I'm a woman have been replaced by female colleagues who are hostile to me because I'm a woman who isn't leaning in enough, or in the right way, or who use me as a "control group" to show how much they have leaned in. In any event, I don't like it, and I hope the "leaning in" zeitgeist passes quickly, and we can move on to a next phase of feminism in which some of those leaners in give more of a hand up to other women trying to make their way so that we can all get ahead together. I hope we can reclaim solidarity after we're done reclaiming bossy. That was what I had thought feminism was about."

Obviously, that's a very different comment, and I don't know where inkypinky was coming from or heading to. But at least on a cursory reading of her original comment, I don't think it's terribly far off for a work of fiction. As I theorized above above, there doesn't seem to be a lot of incentive for people with "contrarian" views here to spend significant time writing comments, so YMMV.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 6:39 AM on March 18, 2014 [7 favorites]


Obviously, that's a very different comment, and I don't know where inkypinky was coming from or heading to. But at least on a cursory reading of her original comment, I don't think it's terribly far off for a work of fiction. As I theorized above above, there doesn't seem to be a lot of incentive for people with "contrarian" views here to spend significant time writing comments, so YMMV.

??? The mods made it very clear from the get-go that if she tried rephrasing it it would go better, and my very first comment even agreed with her about how women who are bullies is an issue, but that it's more fodder for a different conversation.

If the site really is as hostile to "contrary" views as you imply, would either of those things have happened?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:47 AM on March 18, 2014 [4 favorites]


If the site really is as hostile to "contrary" views as you imply

Exactly. If these things are happening, why can't anyone show us that they are happening?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 6:50 AM on March 18, 2014


Exactly. If these things are happening, why can't anyone show us that they are happening?

The original subject of this thread is about this happening.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:53 AM on March 18, 2014 [3 favorites]


The original subject of this thread is about this happening.

No, the original subject of this thread is about someone asking "why was I deleted" and the mods saying "here's why, and here's how you can fix it so it can stand." It was not about the mods saying "your views are evil so suck it".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:57 AM on March 18, 2014 [8 favorites]


Is it your position that the content of that comment is so toxic that it is impossible to rephrase it in a way that would survive deletion? I'd respectfully disagree, though I think the "comment translations" are problematic because they put words in another user's mouth.

Not at all. I'd put myself in the first camp -- those that assume that she meant something more like what you suggested but phrased it badly (heavens knows I've done that sort of thing myself) -- although it seems clear that inkypinky declined to reformat her comment, so we'll never know.

I was more taken by the fine parsing of other comments, when such attention might have been better paid to the subject of this MeTa. Workshopping a deleted comment to change it from something delete-worthy to able to stand (although possibly contentious) would have been an interesting exercise for the community (if not necessarily for the OP). Although not well articulated in most of the comments here, there is a tension between those who believe that the comment was deleted for ideological reasons and those who feel it was deleted for practical reasons and its (unclear) ideology might stand in a different format. Resolving this tension might have been a better use of our time than this thread became.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:59 AM on March 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


The original subject of this thread is about this happening.

Its really not.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 6:59 AM on March 18, 2014


I don't know what to tell you.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:01 AM on March 18, 2014


Genuinely feeling something does not give you carte blanche to treat other mefites like dirt

Except when it does, often in response to people with minority views here, and any complaints about said treating like dirt are decried as a "tone argument," and people say that other people genuinely feel angry about something and so should be allowed to get ugly and kind of nasty. I am all for treating other mefites with respect! I just think that should be a lot more evenhanded.

In a different thread about Chelsea Manning, the person most keen to misgender Manning

Wasn't this person banned? It seems weird to talk about people who are no longer at the site.
posted by corb at 7:02 AM on March 18, 2014 [5 favorites]


I don't know what to tell you.

Maybe you don't need to be telling anyone anything, but rather should be listening.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:03 AM on March 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


I mean, "a feminism that encourages women to seek the same things valued by kyriarchy is not a valid feminsm" is a pretty standard Marxist-feminist angle - I don't know if that's even contrarian, per se...

I think we've already gone over what the rough edges were in inkypinky's comment - the "true story" and "I realise this will be an unpopular post", which can read as a provocation, the nebulous quality of "good character", the use of "females" to mean "women" in the first sentence. This, I think, is clearly an edge case where something not intended as a derail was couched in terms that made taz think it would lead to one, and resulted in a possibly overcautious precautionary-principle deletion. However, it was never suggested that the viewpoint was unacceptable, or that it couldn't be re-expressed.

The fact that I agree with them and you does not make it less of an ideological issue in a lot of people's eyes.

I guess the question there - assuming the terrible post-language swamp this thread fell into was connected to the specific problems of a couple of people, and it is actually possible to agree on the relationship of words to each other having some sort of commonly agreed meaning - is in what way that matters.

Positions are taking on questions of usage, which over time become norms. "Don't misgender people" may have an ideological underpinning, but it's also a question of practice - and on a practical level is probably motivated both by a shift towards respectful language which has occurred over time and the pragmatic consideration that doing so will derail threads.

I think this feeds back into the "Portlandia liberal" thing. Cairdeas has felt previously that there are things that she may be prevented from being able to say on MetaFilter, or which might lead to her being banned from discussing certain topics on MetaFilter - citation here - and that is part of an ongoing discussion about what is and is not an appropriate register on Metafilter; Very broadly, the guideline is that if you can deploy a usage without being directly or splash-damage damaging to members of MetaFilter, a usage is acceptable.

So, save alive nothing that breatheth mentioned upthread that Metafilter operates US rules on the use of certain obscenities, which differ from other language cultures in the anglosphere (although, for reference, the stuff about British people using these words as terms of endearment? Wildly exaggerated to catch Americans out). However, the usage guidance is consistent with harm avoidance. Drop a c-bomb (or a number of other letter-bombs) on another member, and you'll probably get a deletion and possibly a time out. Drop a c-bomb on someone being discussed in-thread, and the comment may well be deleted, because doing so is disrespectful to women on MetaFilter - there's a harm avoidance argument. Using an offensive term in, e.g. a discussion of someone else using it in the media is allowable usage: the comprehensibility benefit outweighs the estimated splash damage.

That broad rule is subject to a number of other factors, among them how the community and how the moderators respond to usages. Before the "boyzone" conversations, a bunch of stuff was normalized that is now outside the normal. Increasing numbers of women among the user base (and I'd guess among the moderator base also, although that is just a guess - I don't know how the dates add up), and a growing feeling that the norm should be challenged led to challenges of that norm, and over time it shifted. That shift was reflective of a broader shift within culture, and specifically within Internet culture.

MetaFilter seems to be in about the same place with trans issues at the moment: in part, I'd hazard, because trans people feel more able to speak and have their voices heard due to broader social shifts - the moral arc of the universe, to an extent. These shifts are much bigger than MetaFilter, and they are happening independently of MetaFilter. So, "Portlandia liberal" as a characterization is, I think, in part wishful thinking: this stuff is entering the mainstream of liberal discourse. Garden-variety liberals are starting to think about the way they and others think and talk about trans issues and trans people. This stuff isn't the crazy, whacked-out, granola-crunching, parody self-righteous liberalism which, as a construct, is being satirized in Portlandia - it's just the way mainstream liberal discourse is evolving.
posted by running order squabble fest at 7:05 AM on March 18, 2014 [11 favorites]


How typically rude. But the fact is that if people want an example, then this post is about one of them.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:05 AM on March 18, 2014 [3 favorites]


the thread started out as one thing and has evolved into another thing. that is ok and you guys don't need to fight about it
posted by twist my arm at 7:05 AM on March 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


But the fact is that if people want an example, then this post is about one of them.

Except that it isn't.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:07 AM on March 18, 2014


It is probably worth just accepting that the people asking for examples will never actually accept one and will rules lawyer it into being about something completely different.
posted by Reggie Knoble at 7:09 AM on March 18, 2014 [7 favorites]


corb: " Wasn't this person banned? It seems weird to talk about people who are no longer at the site."

We've spoken about two or three banned members in this thread already. Sometimes, that's going to happen when we speak about larger trends and ways the mods have addressed issues as they've arisen.

Whether it strikes you as weird or not, I hope you're not saying we shouldn't be able to discuss these things simply because the people being discussed are no longer present. A large portion of this thread has addressed the idea that the site's moderation has changed over time. It would be difficult to do so without giving specific examples.
posted by zarq at 7:09 AM on March 18, 2014


Wasn't this person banned? It seems weird to talk about people who are no longer at the site.

No. I am not talking about someone who was banned. And if I were, I am not talking about the *person* but providing an example of someone who is disrespectful for political reasons and does so deliberately. Moot, anyway, since the mefite I referenced is still around.
posted by rtha at 7:10 AM on March 18, 2014 [8 favorites]


It is probably worth just accepting that the people asking for examples will never actually accept one and will rules lawyer it into being about something completely different

Oh for fucks sake, I have asked for examples a half a dozen times in this thread and BP was the first one to ever even attempt to point one out. Someone even shut down their account before offering one up.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 7:13 AM on March 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


It is probably worth just accepting that the people asking for examples will never actually accept one and will rules lawyer it into being about something completely different.

Or go on a lengthy and emotionally manipulative exegesis about it. Either way, it is toxic to this site, for sure.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:14 AM on March 18, 2014


It is probably worth just accepting that the people asking for examples will never actually accept one and will rules lawyer it into being about something completely different.

Now that seems like a universal constant on this site.

> It is probably worth just accepting that the people asking for examples will never actually accept one and will rules lawyer it into being about something completely different.

Or go on a lengthy and emotionally manipulative exegesis about it.


Okay, then, let me do two things:

1. apologize for my rudeness.

2. Ask you to clarify why you feel that this thread is an example of contrarian views being shot down, even though that person received support from the mods as to how she could re-post her comment.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:15 AM on March 18, 2014 [5 favorites]


Yes, for the mods to say that 'You can express this view, but use different language/tone/presentation' is not a supression of views.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 7:22 AM on March 18, 2014 [4 favorites]


Especially when the mods do this for so many comments.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 7:23 AM on March 18, 2014


MisantropicPainforest: "Someone even shut down their account before offering one up."

Posting a list of members who conform even a little bit to MRA or PUA views would be a terrible idea. First of all, it's against the rules and the person who did it would get stomped on by the mods. Second of all, the list would be picked apart, the people in question would go on the defensive and the site would divide along people who agreed or disagreed. It's virtually guaranteed to foment nastiness and ill will.

There are a small number of guys on MeFi who really do seem to have (or have had) some issues with women, for whatever reason. It's not hard to figure out who they are if you've been paying attention in Metafilter and Metatalk threads related to sexism. But posting a list of names would be incredibly shitty behavior, and I'm glad no one is doing so. It would pigeonhole those people for all time as an "MRA activist" and ignore that they could conceivably change those opinions in the future.

I believe quite strongly that most people should be given second (and even) third chances. If they say something outrageously offensive once and get blowback for it, do they do it again? If they decide they were in the wrong, will they learn from their mistakes? It's a simple fact of life: over time, people usually grow up. Their opinions develop, deepen with greater understanding and sometimes even change.
posted by zarq at 7:29 AM on March 18, 2014 [10 favorites]


(although, for reference, the stuff about British people using these words as terms of endearment? Wildly exaggerated to catch Americans out)

A bit of an aside, but this really really depends on the circles you move in. There are definitely areas and cultures in which it is entirely commonplace.
posted by Dysk at 7:30 AM on March 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


Someone even shut down their account before offering one up.

I think leaving nadawi out of this would be a good idea moving forwards in this thread. People are ascribing various motivations to her that can't be verified or refuted and I'd suggest leaving it alone.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:31 AM on March 18, 2014 [9 favorites]


But the fact is that if people want an example, then this post is about one of them.

I don't think this is correct. We never got to the point where we learned if the problem was inkypinky's phrasing or ideology. You can read her second comment either way, but, in absence of clarification by the OP (or, I suppose the mods), we do not know. So it's a very ambiguous example or, perhaps, counter example.
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:32 AM on March 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


I was more taken by the fine parsing of other comments, when such attention might have been better paid to the subject of this MeTa.

In my defense, the "triggering" vs "hair trigger" distinction is not at all a fine one, and the original misreading(s) led to a pretty big derail (the whole painful "pissing contest" discussion up above) and unnecessary bad feelings.

Also since all of that could have been avoided by users being less quick on the draw (shall we say) and more careful before assuming bad faith, it seems relevant to the topic of the thread.
posted by torticat at 7:32 AM on March 18, 2014 [6 favorites]


Oh for fucks sake, I have asked for examples a half a dozen times in this thread and BP was the first one to ever even attempt to point one out.

Or the second.

(And again, I agree with the mods, but MetaFilter is not entirely free of mod-enforced suppression of ideology. And it is a better place for it.)
posted by Etrigan at 7:33 AM on March 18, 2014


EC, I'm not responding to the mods, or to you. I was responding to a particular quoted assertion from Genjiandproust, taken from this comment. He asked why no one has provided an alternative phrasing that might work. That is what I did; whether it captures inkypinky's sentiment is for her to say, and whether she went to the effort is beyond my control.

As I've conjectured--from my comfortable position in ideological majority, mind--I think people aren't taking the time to write thoughtful comments, and those less-than-artful comments are being deleted (rightly), because they get a lot of flags. And then we rehash it endlessly.

On preview: Resolving this tension might have been a better use of our time than this thread became. Agreed.

On double-secret-preview: Yes, for the mods to say that 'You can express this view, but use different language/tone/presentation' is not a supression of views.

Completely agree. But I don't think the mod follow up after a good deletion of a bad comment changes the fact that we, as a largely liberal userbase, don't have very productive dialogues with people with different views. In large part, I think that's because the comments are not terribly well written (like the comment that kicked this off), and I think they're not well written because commenters think they'll get more or less the same response for a reasoned view as a driveby stinker.

The mods are the last to the scene and they do their best. It's not their intervention that's the cause or the solution to these spectacles.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 7:35 AM on March 18, 2014 [4 favorites]


pyramid termite: "it's kind of a slippery slope argument you're making here"

I know for certain there are people here who've posted comments I consider unacceptably transphobic and had them deleted - I've flagged them and seen it happen - or loudly disputed, and who are now complaining about suppression of non-specific 'dissenting' opinions. At that point it's less a slippery slope and more the elephant in the room.

Etrigan: "it is absolutely one that is expressive of a certain political philosophy -- and treating it as though it is a purely apolitical already-settled issue of respect is also making an ideological stand."

I think we were talking past each other earlier, because I don't disagree with a thing you've said here. I'm not questioning that it's an issue of ideology and politics in the minds of some users - obviously it is. What I'm saying is exactly that: parts of the user base on Mefi have demonstrated in numerous threads that they feel views on trans lives and legitimacy which the majority of trans people here see as bigotry fall within the realm of diverse opinion. It's also clear that some opinions - explicit racism, rape apologia, whatever - are not part of the broadened range of discourse the majority of users protesting here want to see.

Even to the posters looking for more views to be welcomed, then, certain opinions are still considered apolitically beyond-the-pale (at least for the purposes of MetaFilter discussion) and the site better for their removal, and others not. What I would like to know is where the folks demanding more opinions be represented here place current site culture and policy on trans issues, on that scale - is the strong response and/or deletion many opinions that trans Mefites consider transphobic receive at present the silencing they're complaining about, or is it analogous to current site policy on death threats or race hate or whatever, and excluded from the definition of valid-but-dissenting opinion? Am I wrong about there being these categories at all, and should nothing whatsoever be outside the bounds of acceptable minority opinion?
posted by emmtee at 7:42 AM on March 18, 2014 [7 favorites]


MetaFilter is not entirely free of mod-enforced suppression of ideology.

Just maybe to be clear, I get what Etrigan is getting at and this is something I would agree with. There are cases in which we've made top-down decisions to nix things that are molotov cocktail things to say in threads even if there's not (yet) a huge groundswell of push from the userbase to do so.

Misgendering is one example. Making variants of "She was asking for it" jokes is another example. Casual "Fuck the people who are from this state" types of comments in threads about local US state politics are another. "Invisible sky wizard" snark is another. "Gay people are sinners" is another. There's probably a handful of content-based moderation things like this that we do.

I thought we were clear also, but possibly we weren't that inkypinky's comment just needed to be rephrased and was okay for the thread, but showing up in a difficult thread with an "I don't think this is going to go well but here goes..." comment bomb is usually not a great way to get your opinions across and usually indicates that maybe you should spend more time trying to meet your audience and not set up shop on your soapbox. Not saying that's what inkypinky was doing, just saying that we spend a lot of time squinting at stuff asking ourselves "trolling or just bad presentation...?" and trying to figure out a way for people to get heard but also not turn the thread into a "let's all fight" thread.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:45 AM on March 18, 2014 [26 favorites]


I was referring to R. Schlock, who I asked multiple times to cite an example of a mod censoring an opinion because they disagreed with it, and who closed their account before doing so.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 7:48 AM on March 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


Ah sorry, my misread.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:49 AM on March 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


showing up in a difficult thread with an "I don't think this is going to go well but here goes..." comment bomb is usually not a great way to get your opinions across and usually indicates that maybe you should spend more time trying to meet your audience and not set up shop on your soapbox

The problem is that you are damned if you do, damned if you don't. If you put a disclaimer like that in, you're accused of going in swinging. If you don't put a disclaimer in, you're accused of being oblivious to the fact that other people in the thread have really radically different views.

But the very concept of "meeting your audience" is, itself, an ideology - the ideology that the first people to get into the thread set the tone of the conversation, and everyone else needs to fall in line with the tone of that conversation, or be really, really careful about stepping on the toes of said conversation.

Combined with the prohibition against "threadshitting" - getting early into a thread to say something negative about the FPP - it does tend to lend a heavier hand on the side of politics that match the FPP, which, by demographic weight, is going to be Liberal. Maybe not "Portlandia Liberal" - maybe "East Coast Liberal" - but still a very identifiable political viewpoint.
posted by corb at 7:52 AM on March 18, 2014 [3 favorites]


But the very concept of "meeting your audience" is

I thought the phrase was 'reading the room'

And if we are going to explode the definition of ideology to include 'reading the room', then we are going to need another word.

Combined with the prohibition against "threadshitting" - getting early into a thread to say something negative about the FPP


No no no no no. The prohibition is against getting in early to say something stupid and snarky without having read the FPP. Its not a prohibition against criticizing the FPP at all
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 8:01 AM on March 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


"Portlandia Liberal" reminds me less of David Brooks' bobos and more of the sneers about sushi-eating, Volvo-driving, arugula-enjoying, tax-and-spending "Massachusetts liberals" of my 80s youth. Particularly in that I can't tell what it's supposed to mean other than "I like to sneer about [this kind of] liberal".
posted by immlass at 8:03 AM on March 18, 2014 [23 favorites]


the very concept of "meeting your audience" is, itself, an ideology

It's an ideology about how the site should run. It's not an ideology about what you're allowed to talk about topic-wise. We have other proscriptions that people have mentioned above: no saying "fuck you" to each other, no comment flooding, no stealth linking to NSFW or gross images, etc. However this isn't politically based, this is us saying "This is how we want the community to work; we're trying to be transparent about this. You can make your choices about whether that works for you or not"
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:05 AM on March 18, 2014 [13 favorites]


corb: "Combined with the prohibition against "threadshitting" - getting early into a thread to say something negative about the FPP - it does tend to lend a heavier hand on the side of politics that match the FPP, which, by demographic weight, is going to be Liberal."

Addressing an FPP's content: ok. (positive and negative)
Attacking an FPP without bothering to read the linked content which in fact addresses what you're saying: not okay.
Complaining about the way a linked article is written (or about where it's being hosted or who wrote it) without actually addressing its content: still okay, but drives me up a wall.

:)
posted by zarq at 8:09 AM on March 18, 2014 [9 favorites]


Thanks zarq and MisantropicPainforest - I actually learned something. I thought the prohibition was on immediate negative commentary at all, even if you had read the article and based criticism from it.
posted by corb at 8:11 AM on March 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


"Portlandia Liberal" has become a pretty succinct descriptor. I made a post last week about women in electronic music, and there were accusations of transphobia because Wendy Carlos wasn't in the post. The absolute depths some people will plunge to be outraged at someone here — anyone here — is breathtaking. It's becoming toxic to the atmosphere here.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:15 AM on March 18, 2014 [15 favorites]


corb: "I thought the prohibition was on immediate negative commentary at all, even if you had read the article and based criticism from it."

The mods may exercise a bit of latitude if a comment looks like it is going to completely derail a thread. But yes.

As an example, the first comment in this thread wound up dominating the conversation after it for a while. I was initially kinda dismayed by it, but it was just a dissenting opinion so I replied to the comment rather than flagging it. Dissenting opinions aren't usually threadshits. It was on-topic and wouldn't have been deleted.
posted by zarq at 8:20 AM on March 18, 2014


Regarding the question of putting in an unpopular opinion declaimer, I don't think it's an issue of you're damned if you do, damned if you don't. I think that tone and language matters a lot, and wording it without antagonistic language, and in a way that comes across as being open to discussion, is more helpful than an acknowledgement that your comment might be unpopular.

By my count, there are seven instances of loaded or antagonistic or inflammatory words or phrases in the deleted comment we are discussing in this thread. That's not counting the word "bullying" (which to me is not an issue of tone, but of bringing a pretty distinct issue into the conversation) or the last sentence saying this will be unpopular, but there you go. If there had been none or even only one or two, the comment might have come across differently.
posted by treese at 8:24 AM on March 18, 2014 [4 favorites]


Yeah I totally remember that Fred Armisen skit where he accuses well meaning people of being transphobic. /s
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 8:24 AM on March 18, 2014


The mods have stated outright that misgendering someone based on that person's declared gender will not be stood for. There are people who don't believe that using a person's birth-assigned or genetic gender (please let me know if there's a better term for that) is disrespectful or transphobic, and that opinion -- or at least its expression in that way -- is suppressed.

Incidentally, I don't know if that view is suppressed, exactly, as much as managed. If someone misgenders someone in a thread on MetaFilter, it will be flagged and probably deleted as offensive. If someone argues in a thread on MetaFilter that they should be allowed to use the gender pronouns they prefer in talking about a person, it will usually be flagged and probably deleted as a near-certain derail.

However, you can have a discussion on MetaFilter about misgendering in which people's positions on how they use pronouns is relevant to the discussion, and therefore falls within the set of ontopic discussion - cf the thread about Wikipedia and Chelsea Manning.

And you could have a MetaTalk thread asking that the moderators stop deleting posts on MetaFilter that misgender trans people - although it wouldn't be a very long thread (or rather, it would be a thread where the answer was given immediately and unambiguously by the mods, and would either then be locked or spin off into a broader discussion).

It's quite hard actually to be banned, still, I think. Possibly this is just different definitions of suppression, though.

(Ah - on preview, the distinction between an ideology for how the site should run and a political ideology expressed through the way the site is run is a much more succinct way of putting it.)
posted by running order squabble fest at 8:31 AM on March 18, 2014


"Portlandia Liberal" has become a pretty succinct descriptor. I made a post last week about women in electronic music, and there were accusations of transphobia because Wendy Carlos wasn't in the post. The absolute depths some people will plunge to be outraged at someone here — anyone here — is breathtaking. It's becoming toxic to the atmosphere here.

I only glanced through that post, but given the subject matter, and Wendy Carlos' place in it, it did seem rather an odd omission. Were there any accusations of transphobia levelled at you, however, rather than simply the author of the piece (or the piece itself)? If there were, then that strikes me as clearly out of line. If it was just the latter, I don't think you should take it personally, or see it as anything other than a critique of the thing you linked - something metafilter has always welcomed.
posted by Dysk at 8:32 AM on March 18, 2014 [10 favorites]


Regarding the question of putting in an unpopular opinion declaimer, I don't think it's an issue of you're damned if you do, damned if you don't. I think that tone and language matters a lot, and wording it without antagonistic language, and in a way that comes across as being open to discussion, is more helpful than an acknowledgement that your comment might be unpopular.

I always use the example of this quote from Futurama:
"No offense, Fry, but you've turned into a fat sack of crap."
All the disclaimers in the world don't change a hasty, ill-considered, poorly-worded comment into something it's not.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:32 AM on March 18, 2014 [4 favorites]


Blazecock Pileon: "I made a post last week about women in electronic music, and there were accusations of transphobia because Wendy Carlos wasn't in the post. The absolute depths some people will plunge to be outraged at someone here — anyone here — is breathtaking."

I read that thread. Unless there were deleted comments that I didn't see, no one accused anyone of transphobia?

It was initially noted that the accusations of transphobia were happening on other blogs, outside of metafilter. Annika Cicada then noted: "To put it politely, she is a giant among the pioneering synthesists and is routinely derided and overlooked due to her status, yet her influence and importance is immense. She shaped everything that came after her."

Then from Rash: "I was also expecting Wendy Carlos on the list, but I'm guessing she was excluded because all her ground-breaking stuff was recorded by Walter Carlos. She became Wendy to the public afterwards."

At which point a couple of people (mildly) said that she was "always Wendy Carlos."

When the conversation died down several days later (but only a few comments afterward,) a second list from the same source was linked that included Wendy Carlos.

I'm not seeing outrage, accusations or anything else that was particularly "breathtaking." Were comments deleted that are not immediately evident?
posted by zarq at 8:34 AM on March 18, 2014 [3 favorites]


zarq: "The mods may exercise a bit of latitude if a comment looks like it is going to completely derail a thread. But yes. "

The thing is, corb has explicitly asked the mods for more tolerance for potential derail-starting comments, which I think is problematic, especially given her own tendency to drive comments toward her hobby horses and far afield from the topics of the FPPs. (I'm not saying my hands are clean on this, either, but I'm also not the one advocating for a higher tolerance for derails.)

Here is a recent example of what I read as an unnecessary shit-starting comment that had very little to do with the subject of the FPP. In the past, my usual response would be to engage on the topic of the derail from the other side, but over time, I've learned that the derails are more often than not going to get flagged and pruned, because it turns out most people enjoy discussing topics germane to the FPP content, not tangents that end up breaking down along predictable ideological lines. As someone who kind of enjoys these tangents, I'm slowly learning to try to stay on topic and save my hobby-horsing for more appropriate FPPs.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:36 AM on March 18, 2014 [6 favorites]


To add to zarq's comment, here is the relevant meta.

Of course, there were some pretty harsh words and accusations of transphobia against BP:

BP: I appreciated the article mentioning Delia Darbyshire while simultaneously lamenting the article neglecting Wendy Carlos.....

....I cannot state this strongly enough: BP, you did the right thing posting the article, it was our fellows mefites unable to play ball in a decent, intelligent way that caused the problem, not you.

Yeah there was nothing wrong with the post at all, BP.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 8:38 AM on March 18, 2014


I'm not seeing outrage, accusations or anything else that was particularly "breathtaking." Were comments deleted that are not immediately evident?

And if they were deleted, doesn't that support the argument that the mods are not ideologically/politically driven to censor things they disagree with?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 8:41 AM on March 18, 2014 [4 favorites]


Blazecock Pileon: ""Portlandia Liberal" has become a pretty succinct descriptor. I made a post last week about women in electronic music, and there were accusations of transphobia because Wendy Carlos wasn't in the post. The absolute depths some people will plunge to be outraged at someone here — anyone here — is breathtaking."

That was a weird example to pull out, as others have already noted. But you have no idea how many times I kill comments about transphobia--or more usually transmisogyny--in "unrelated" FPPs because I know I can't just make a passing reference to it without getting embroiled in a whole big thing.

Transmisogyny is everywhere. As a trans woman there is virtually no event or bit of media that is safe from cissexism. It's rather darkly funny to see a thread where people raised it as a possibility in a very calm and questioning sort of way being cited as an example of "the depths some people will plunge to be outraged."
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 8:41 AM on March 18, 2014 [22 favorites]


Of course, there were some pretty harsh words and accusations of transphobia against BP:

What? Am I misreading? I read the meTa and I'm reading the quotes you've got there and I'm not seeing it?
posted by rtha at 8:43 AM on March 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


I made a post last week about women in electronic music, and there were accusations of transphobia because Wendy Carlos wasn't in the post. The absolute depths some people will plunge to be outraged at someone here — anyone here — is breathtaking. It's becoming toxic to the atmosphere here.

There was one comment that said that the blog's omission was weird, and one that people would talk about transphobia elsewhere. Unless there are deleted posts, at no point was that directed to yourself or anyone else in that thread, or in the following MeTa.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:45 AM on March 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


All the disclaimers in the world don't change a hasty, ill-considered, poorly-worded comment into something it's not.

Right, but some people are feeling that there is no way to express an unpopular opinion. This seem very obvious but I guess I'm saying that, yes, there is, but it's better if you don't do it with ill-considered, poorly-worded comments.

Which is not to say that the language/tone and content don't inform each other. Like, for this particular comment, I'm not really sure what you have left if you try to drill down and word it in a more thoughtful way.
posted by treese at 8:47 AM on March 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


FYI: The only comments deleted were two that were sort of eyebrow-raisingly wondering if the linked site was spam, the two from localroger that spawned the Meta thread and one weird noise thread poking at the deleted localroger comments. Nothing deleted form the Meta thread.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:50 AM on March 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


What? Am I misreading? I read the meTa and I'm reading the quotes you've got there and I'm not seeing it?

No its my fault, I was being sarcastic. No one said a nasty thing to BP.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 8:55 AM on March 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


I didn't even realize there was a metatalk post.
posted by zarq at 8:58 AM on March 18, 2014


MetaFilter: I didn't even realize there was a metatalk post.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 9:02 AM on March 18, 2014 [9 favorites]


Here is a recent example of what I read as an unnecessary shit-starting comment that had very little to do with the subject of the FPP.

That's actually a great example, tonycpsu, of what we were talking about above. I read the article, read some of the commentary, and posted a kind of "meh" comment. It wasn't intended to be shit-stirring, but was just my thought at some of the outrage of the bikers about not being able to have trails across the country, which seemed weird to me. Not a good comment, not a bad comment, no better or worse than thousands of meh comments across the site. But because it's my comment, and I am viewed as a conservative, it's viewed as shit-stirring.
posted by corb at 9:03 AM on March 18, 2014 [6 favorites]


The mods deservedly delete threadshitty comments, even when doing so would be (theoretically) a deviation from the so-called ideology of the site. For example, in the thread about men getting longer sentences than women, at least one "what about the menz lel" comment was deservedly deleted. In the thread about "Formers" (self-described former members of hate/extremist groups), there were "no better way to deal with fascists than to kill them" comments that were deservedly deleted.

Anyway, to the extent that the website has a general political bent, it is as much a result of self-selectivity as it is anything else. It's not consciously enforced, let alone in any kind of top-down manner.

I do think that comments which go against the grain of the site are sometimes held to a higher standard than comments that do not. However, this is often a second-order concern, and it may often be justified when seen in that light. For example, in the "bossy" thread, the reason WHY the deleted comment would have been potentially disruptive was in part due to how it clashes with MeFi's userbase, especially in that thread. That is to say, the potential clash itself is the concern, and not whether or not a statement would comport with some imaginary MeFi Handbook of Appropriate Ideology.

This was more of a problem in the deleted TERF thread, where IMHO overblown and selectively enforced concerns about clarity and fightiness were cited to support the deletion of a post in which a transphobic subgroup of self-identified feminists were the subject of criticism. I don't believe these concerns would have won out had the "villains" of the piece been more traditionally conservative transphobes. I certainly don't think that this was any sort of conscious attempt to silence people or whatever, but it was not a case of good judgment or effective handling.

However, it is very easy to sift through the oodles of posts and comments and to find mistakes here and there. If one would give me six deletions made from the keyboard of the most honest mod, I would find something in them to indicate that they had made mistakes.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:06 AM on March 18, 2014 [4 favorites]


It wasn't intended to be shit-stirring

I think your history on this site and interactions with other members and even mods here should suggest to you that what you intend is mean is often far different from how you come across.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 9:11 AM on March 18, 2014


overblown and selectively enforced concerns about clarity and fightiness

"Don't use inflammatory pullquotes in a post on an incredibly touchy topic" is pretty bog-standard as far as a deletion reasoning and we elaborated on that in great detail in the 400-comment MeTa thread that came from that deletion.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:11 AM on March 18, 2014 [4 favorites]


I have to say - tonycpsu, I agree with corb that her comment isn't "shit-stirring". What made you describe it as such?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:13 AM on March 18, 2014


Thanks Jessamyn.

Blazecock, believe me I know how frustrating it can be to see people are attack a linked in an FPP you've created over something you a) have no control over and b) don't think should devalue the rest of the article. But still, from my admittedly uninvested perch that thread seems to have gone pretty smoothly.
posted by zarq at 9:13 AM on March 18, 2014


Yeah I totally remember that Fred Armisen skit where he accuses well meaning people of being transphobic. /s

No transphobia per se, but isn't accosting well-meaning people the whole shtick with Candace and Toni at the bookstore?
posted by Admiral Haddock at 9:14 AM on March 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


I think your history on this site and interactions with other members and even mods here should suggest to you that what you intend is mean is often far different from how you come across.

The "bike trails" thing seems like it's okay, though. I know everyone's had their tussles with corb in the past, but that one didn't seem bad.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:15 AM on March 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


But because it's my comment, and I am viewed as a conservative, it's viewed as shit-stirring.

Even if it is occasionally because it's your comment, I don't think it's because you're viewed as a conservative...
posted by Dysk at 9:17 AM on March 18, 2014


"Don't use inflammatory pullquotes in a post on an incredibly touchy topic" is pretty bog-standard as far as a deletion reasoning and we elaborated on that in great detail in the 400-comment MeTa thread that came from that deletion.

Myself and others disagreed about how inflammatory said pullquotes were. The discussion was in that thread, and it does not need to be repeated in this thread. I stand by my evaluation of how well that was handled, just as I'm sure you stand by yours. It is what it is.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:17 AM on March 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


The "bike trails" thing seems like it's okay, though.

Yeah I agree, FWIW.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 9:17 AM on March 18, 2014


Although the thread Let Books be Books is going reasonably well over on the blue at the moment, threads like this MeTa make me - a very privileged, back-pack wearing, cis gendered white guy - so fearful I will not dare post in that thread even though I have a few thoughts and experiences that someone might find interesting (or not).

Threads about gender or non-hetronormative sexuality terrify me nowadays because I think I might accidentally say something that will legitimately offend someone because I'm ignorant of their background or experience. The downside is obviously I don't feel like I can/should contribute; the plus side is I've lost a lot of ignorance about how other people different from me live by reading and listening.

So feature or a bug? I'm not sure. But for me at least it is A Thing.
posted by digitalprimate at 9:27 AM on March 18, 2014 [4 favorites]


a very privileged, back-pack wearing, cis gendered white guy - so fearful I will not dare post in that thread even though I have a few thoughts and experiences that someone might find interesting (or not).

People have said some things in that thread that I find astonishingly problematic, yet nobody has responded with rageful pile-ons. Yes, it's possible. Come on in, the water's fine.
posted by Wordwoman at 9:35 AM on March 18, 2014 [6 favorites]


Threads about gender or non-hetronormative sexuality terrify me nowadays because I think I might accidentally say something that will legitimately offend someone because I'm ignorant of their background or experience.

Honestly, a small, very vocal group of trans-folk here are the closest to an actual cabal I've seen in 10 years on Metafilter. Trans topics come up routinely in MetaTalk and we never seem to get anywhere in resolving how to handle them to everyone's satisfaction.
posted by killdevil at 9:36 AM on March 18, 2014


Threads about gender or non-hetronormative sexuality terrify me nowadays because I think I might accidentally say something that will legitimately offend someone because I'm ignorant of their background or experience.

From personal experience, I've found that apologizing via MeMail and letting the thread move on without trying to defend myself publicly works best.
posted by Etrigan at 9:38 AM on March 18, 2014 [5 favorites]


This is becoming increasingly absurdist. Looking at the 2005 linked thread from running order squabble fest kind of puts this in perspective. Then, we see hostility being directed at an opinion that was incorrectly called conservative. Now we are dancing on the head of a needle about whether opinions are sufficiently and the right kind of progressive. This has been a long, slow slide resulting in things being reality today that would have been considered reductio ad absurdum had they been alleged in 2005. Look at the terms being thrown around in this thread MRA? PUA? Transmisogny? I would speculate that these terms and concepts are unknown to 95+% of this planet, but now they are apparently necessary concepts to understand as a predicate to engaging in discussion here. And if one is not sufficiently respectful of those concepts, one is given a pejorative label and can have comments deleted so that they rock the boat.

This is absurd. Now, I completely agree that being outright hateful is wrong, so don't respond by going there. But there is an undeniable difference between being objectively hateful and not being sufficiently deferential to someone's subjective sensibilities on a subject. And if this business about "reading a room" is codeword for having to contour behavior so as not to upset someone's subjective sensibilities, then we have merely institutionalized the heckler's veto as moderation policy.

I didn't read the original thread at issue here (largely because I long ago gave up reading anything relating to feminist issues because of the tedious recurrent game of people fighting each other on the head of a pin over perceived apostasy of each other). But looking at the comment that was deleted and the comment that was left by taz is alarming. There is no good reason that comment should have been deleted, although it is somewhat refreshing honest (yet still depressing) to see a moderator admit that the concern in on the how comment would be received.

But the really alarming part is that a moderator demanded evidence be cited for the statements that are outside the orthodoxy as if it were a necessary cost of participation. I have seen the responding hordes demand that before, but never a moderator. That type of demand from a moderator strikes me as egregiously problematic, and perhaps it is a sign of how far afield we have come that it has not generated serious blowback from more here, including other moderators.
posted by dios at 9:45 AM on March 18, 2014 [17 favorites]


Threads about gender or non-hetronormative sexuality terrify me nowadays because I think I might accidentally say something that will legitimately offend someone because I'm ignorant of their background or experience. The downside is obviously I don't feel like I can/should contribute; the plus side is I've lost a lot of ignorance about how other people different from me live by reading and listening.

You may find large swaths of this previous MeTa useful. And yeah, sometimes when we're part of a dominant/majority group, we really don't have anything useful to contribute to discussions about the experience of non-dominant/minority groups, and it really is best to just learn by reading and listening.

Outside of those instances, I feel like a very solid general guideline to follow is refraining from pointedly speaking over members of the population being discussed in order to tell them how they should be reacting. This tends to roll out along the lines of men being moved to inform women what kind of behavior we should and should not be allowed to consider as part of the spectrum of sexism ("that's not sexist, I'm a man and I deal with this just fine"), white folks nitpicking and rules-lawyering discussions about received behavior across the spectrum of racism ("sure, I'm white, but I've never seen this sort of thing as racism, why are we even talking about this?"), etc.
posted by divined by radio at 9:46 AM on March 18, 2014 [9 favorites]


Is the collective term not an empire?
posted by running order squabble fest at 9:48 AM on March 18, 2014


Threads about gender or non-hetronormative sexuality terrify me nowadays because I think I might accidentally say something that will legitimately offend someone because I'm ignorant of their background or experience.

Creating informed awareness about these topics is absolutely paramount when trying to move toward a better world. So the short version of an answer here is: one should always try to talk about these topics, that is, if one has something to say, ask, or learn.
posted by Namlit at 9:49 AM on March 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


Very well put, Namlit.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 9:52 AM on March 18, 2014


one is given a pejorative label and can have comments deleted so that they rock the boat.

Excuse me?
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:52 AM on March 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


Look at the terms being thrown around in this thread MRA? PUA? Transmisogny?

What's the problem here. These are words for things that exist.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 9:55 AM on March 18, 2014 [4 favorites]


Yeah, I left out a "don't." What I was trying to say there is if someone is not sufficiently respectful of the concepts, one runs the risk of getting a pejorative label (e.g., being called a men's right activist) or having a comment deleted so that it does not rock the boat. (Note: I was not implying that the moderators would give the pejorative label if that is what you were responding to.)
posted by dios at 9:58 AM on March 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


The author of the comment in question would perhaps have been better advised to not state an opinion and cite the ample evidence that supports her anecdata. I wonder if it would have seemed a derail if she had simply quoted the very ongoing Gallup survey:
Both men and women prefer a male boss

PRINCETON, NJ -- Americans would still prefer to work for a male (32%) rather than a female (22%) boss if they were taking a new job, but the edge for a male boss is now, by two percentage points, the smallest it has been since Gallup first began asking this question in 1953. Almost half now say gender would make no difference in their preference.
It remains though that the author of the comment in question, though speaking anecdotally, made an observation that is shared by large segments of the population, women included.
Women More Likely to Have an Opinion, But Prefer a Male Boss, As Do Men
I grew up in a single-parent household, they were divorced in 1968 so I have been not liking the status quo longer than most of you have been alive. I think it's an interesting subject, worthy of discussion and while the deletion in question might represent a viewpoint that many here find noxious it is worth discussing why this opinion is held by so many.
posted by vapidave at 10:02 AM on March 18, 2014


you're mistaken. If someone is not sufficiently respectful of other people who are participating, your comment will get deleted.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 10:02 AM on March 18, 2014


Look at the terms being thrown around in this thread MRA? PUA? Transmisogny? I would speculate that these terms and concepts are unknown to 95+% of this planet, but now they are apparently necessary concepts to understand as a predicate to engaging in discussion here. And if one is not sufficiently respectful of those concepts, one is given a pejorative label and can have comments deleted so that they rock the boat.

I would suppose it depends on what threads you want to participate in. If you are going to talk about that cute kitten who fell off the counter in an adorable way, you probably don't need any of those terms. If you want to participate in a thread on, say, sexism in the atheist community or trans people in sports, yeah, you are going to need those terms because they will almost certainly be central to the discussion at some point, and, if you are not up to speed, you are going to be the guy in a contentious thread saying "Hey! What is wrong with men having rights?" And that will get you labeled, probably a couple of ways, and probably rightly, too.

If you are posting to MetaFilter, you have access to Google (or another search engine of your choice), and you can get up to speed on those terms fairly easily and actually participate. I'm not going to participate in most music threads because I don't have the vocabulary. I'm not going to participate in Breaking Bad threads because I haven't watched the show. It's not like participating with zero or no knowledge of the topic is required, heck RTFA is highly encouraged.
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:03 AM on March 18, 2014 [13 favorites]


corb: "Not a good comment, not a bad comment, no better or worse than thousands of meh comments across the site. But because it's my comment, and I am viewed as a conservative, it's viewed as shit-stirring."

It was a bad comment, in my opinion, because there is no such thing as a "right to bike on private land", and nobody in the thread was asking for one. The topic of the court case had nothing to do with granting a license to bike on private land, and, it seems to me, most commenters in that thread were in agreement that the government shouldn't be able to repurpose easements willy-nilly. But the government trying to use its power to expand easements beyond their original purpose is not in any way a universal right to bike on private land, so I saw your effort to knock down that straw man as an irresponsible comment designed to get people away from the actual topic.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:11 AM on March 18, 2014


dios: " Look at the terms being thrown around in this thread MRA? PUA? Transmisogny? I would speculate that these terms and concepts are unknown to 95+% of this planet,

95%, no 99%, of the planet are not members of metafilter. However, they're not unknown to many people here. And if people don't know, they're extremely easy to look up. It's not as if this is a difficult learning curve.

...but now they are apparently necessary concepts to understand as a predicate to engaging in discussion here.

You're complaining about the community engaging in reductiones ad absurdum arguments while making one.

No, not all discussions. Not even most discussions. But yeah, if you're going to participate in a thread about sexism, it's probably a good idea to take the time to educate oneself about the terms being discussed because they don't require a mensa-level IQ to understand. If someone mentions 'rape culture' in a conversation about rape, then it would be stupid as hell to complain about how you need to be educated on obscure topics in order to participate instead of looking it up and learning something. If I don't understand a concept, I look it up. It's not hard.

And if one is not sufficiently respectful of those concepts, one is given a pejorative label and can have comments deleted so that they rock the boat. "

If you argue that transphobia doesn't exist to mefites who are actually trans and say they've experienced it, then yeah, you'd best bring your A game to the table or you'll find yourself schooled, son.
posted by zarq at 10:11 AM on March 18, 2014 [22 favorites]


"MRA" and "PUA" are both concepts that (a) are well-known here on this site where you are having a conversation, (b) are well-known to the internet at large, considering that they're used on many large general-interest sites (most notably, Reddit), and (c) have each had at least one FPP here in the not-too-distant past. Both of those are also easily found in a basic internet search, as is the idea of transmisogny if for whatever reason you couldn't suss it out based on the context of the thread and component parts of the word. As pointed out, if you'd prefer to just barge on in to a conversation here based on that with a "well, what I think that is/why it doesn't exist/etc" comment, then you're not really contributing anything useful to it.
posted by zombieflanders at 10:13 AM on March 18, 2014 [6 favorites]


That's a false distinction GenjiandProust. The original post at issue was about a website called banbossy.com. It was written for a wide audience and makes no reference to MRA or PUA (whatever the hell that means) or any of the other buzzwords tossed around in this Metatalk. But they certainly are terms that will be thrown at someone who reacts to the post in a way that is not sufficiently respectful of the Metafilter orthodoxy on those views--as evidenced by them coming up in this thread here. So one reading a post about banbossy.com is supposed to use "Google" and "get up to speed on those [unmentioned] terms fairly easily" before participating? That's an extraordinarily high barrier to entry that is enforced. One cannot react to a post on its own merits; one has to know the Metafilter orthodoxy as well before participating. That strikes me as odd.
posted by dios at 10:14 AM on March 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


I would speculate that these terms and concepts are unknown to 95+% of this planet, but now they are apparently necessary concepts to understand as a predicate to engaging in discussion here.

Did you see the Big Bang post that went up yesterday? The one about the scientific discovery, that is, not the TV show. Damn right you need some specialized knowledge not possessed by most people on the planet to participate in a non-asshole way in that thread. I mean, this is true about a lot of shit that gets posted here, but I mostly only ever see people whining about how they can't play because they don't know the rules because the rules are like, hard! when it comes to threads about sexism or feminism or other similar things, and not about programming or quantum physics.
posted by rtha at 10:17 AM on March 18, 2014 [27 favorites]


*BEEP BEEP BEEP*

back it up.

Terms like PUA and MRA will be thrown around if someone says something heterodox, but in order to not say something heretedox, one must know terms like PUA and MRA?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 10:18 AM on March 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


Using an internet search engine for a whole 30 seconds before making a comment on a site on the internet is now "an extraordinarily high barrier to entry?"

Are you using an AOL account and posting from 1993?
posted by zombieflanders at 10:19 AM on March 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


Both men and women prefer a male boss

That is not what the OP said or implied in her comment.

Nor is it what the poll is really saying, to wit: "Almost half now say gender would make no difference in their preference."
posted by nacho fries at 10:20 AM on March 18, 2014 [6 favorites]


rtha: if I made a completely uninformed comment about the big bang, I am relatively positive it (1) wouldn't be deleted; (2) wouldn't result in me being assigned pejorative labels; and (3) wouldn't be a topic repeated enough to cause an issue. I know this because I have made uninformed comments about astrophysics and actually got polite and helpful responses. For all I know, my questions could have been offensively stupid, but they were met in the good faith they were proffered. The contrast is marked.
posted by dios at 10:22 AM on March 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


It's almost as if the big bang doesn't have feelings
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 10:24 AM on March 18, 2014 [37 favorites]


EmpressCallipygos: " The "bike trails" thing seems like it's okay, though. I know everyone's had their tussles with corb in the past, but that one didn't seem bad."

Reasonable folks can disagree, and because I had to pick one that didn't get deleted, it's obviously not something I expected to be universally seen as a derail-starter. It's just rather tiring to see every thread that remotely touches on issues of public sector vs. private sector balance turn into libertarian vs. progressive poo-flinging, often starting with a caricature / straw man of what's actually being talked about. That one didn't escalate because Big_B matter-of-factly pointed out that the thread wasn't remotely about a right to bike anywhere, so obviously it's a case where the system worked properly, but a lot of times people take the bait by responding to the straw man (it's often been me in the past) and the whole thing ends up getting nuked.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:25 AM on March 18, 2014


For all I know, my questions could have been offensively stupid, but they were met in the good faith they were proffered. The contrast is marked.

Perhaps it's because the difference between making uninformed comments about astrophysics and making uninformed comments about gender relations is that astrophysicists know that you have a much smaller likelihood to have been exposed to astrophysics, whereas you've had a much greater likelihood of being exposed to women.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:26 AM on March 18, 2014 [6 favorites]


It's almost as if the big bang doesn't have feelings
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 12:24 PM on March 18


And that goes straight back to my original comment because I know Metafilter well enough to know that someone would make this argument:

This is absurd. Now, I completely agree that being outright hateful is wrong, so don't respond by going there. But there is an undeniable difference between being objectively hateful and not being sufficiently deferential to someone's subjective sensibilities on a subject. And if this business about "reading a room" is codeword for having to contour behavior so as not to upset someone's subjective sensibilities, then we have merely institutionalized the heckler's veto as moderation policy.

Non-hateful comments, offered in good faith, ought not be deleted merely because it might hurt someone's sensibilities. That is the heckler's veto.
posted by dios at 10:28 AM on March 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


"MRA" and "PUA" are both concepts that (a) are well-known here on this site where you are having a conversation, (b) are well-known to the internet at large, considering that they're used on many large general-interest sites (most notably, Reddit), and (c) have each had at least one FPP here in the not-too-distant past.

The term you’re looking for is Bogeyman.
posted by bongo_x at 10:30 AM on March 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


I don't get why having a comment deleted is so bad? If I was accidentally really unpleasant--in good if uneducated faith--and it was upsetting to people with personal experience of Thing, I'd be pleased to be deleted.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 10:31 AM on March 18, 2014 [14 favorites]


bongo_x: "The term you’re looking for is Bogeyman."

Are you saying Men's Rights Activists don't exist? Or don't exist on metafilter? Or something else that I'm not understanding?
posted by zarq at 10:33 AM on March 18, 2014


I know this because I have made uninformed comments about astrophysics and actually got polite and helpful responses.

And I have seen people make uninformed comments in feminism/trans/etc type threads and be told "Hey, [piece of information]," and when the response is "Oh, didn't know, thanks!" then there's no drama. When the ignorant insist on doubling down on their ignorance - like, if you were in the Big Bang thread and kept insisting that your (wrong) interpretation of the data was correct, even after physicsmatt patiently and politely explained to you why it wasn't, yeah, you're gonna get blowback.
posted by rtha at 10:34 AM on March 18, 2014 [31 favorites]


dios: "But there is an undeniable difference between being objectively hateful and not being sufficiently deferential to someone's subjective sensibilities on a subject."

I deny it, since you bring up transmisogyny, because this is nonsense. You only recognise the 'objective hate' you are familiar with. You apparently believe that the difference you see between serious issues and trivial, subjective sensibilities is an accurate description of reality. It is not; it's a product of your culture and context, and these things have blinded you with the unexamined bias your comment makes apparent.

If 'objectively hateful' speech is to be avoided, the reason is presumably its potential to cause and encourage actual harm. Since you clearly have absolutely no idea what constitutes such harmful speech outside of your particular cultural bubble, you would do well to listen to the people affected by the hateful speech you fail even to recognise as such.

I would speculate that these terms and concepts are unknown to 95+% of this planet, but now they are apparently necessary concepts to understand as a predicate to engaging in discussion here.

This is what happens when voices from marginalised members of society make themselves heard. Concepts and realities which have been easy for most to comfortably ignore are given equal weight to the familiar experiences of the majority. You're welcome to respond to that by listening and learning, or by making a show of your refusal to learn, but those of us who have equal voices in this community and experience the realities you sneer at will absolutely not pretend the truths of our lives are 'subjective sensibilities' to coddle your incuriosity.
posted by emmtee at 10:34 AM on March 18, 2014 [24 favorites]


whereas you've had a much greater likelihood of being exposed to women.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:26 PM on March 18


Which has nothing to do with whether one knows these terms. I do know women. Have a mom, a wife of 11 years, and a 3 year old daughter. I have actually successfully represented in separate lawsuits two minor females in sexual assault cases that involved psychological experts about the effects of rape, secondary victimization from societal reactions, and issues of how victims are groomed, as well as a lady in a sexual discrimination lawsuit. I have been exposed to women and women's rights issues probably more than the average person, and I still don't have a clue what the hell "PUA" is. That one is expected to know what it is here and be respectful of it is indicative of how much this place has narrowly developed a narrow orthodoxy.
posted by dios at 10:36 AM on March 18, 2014 [6 favorites]


rtha is right.

If people are making good faith comments that aren't hateful or presumptuous in trans and feminism threads, and those comments are getting deleted because they might hurt somoenes sensibilities, can someone provide some evidence of this phenomenon?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 10:36 AM on March 18, 2014


It strikes me that if you are entering a thread about trans issues in good faith, and you don't know what transmisogyny means, you would very likely be interested to learn what it means. If you are less interested in learning what it means and how it affects people participating in the thread than complaining about trans people using it, your good faith might not be all that good.
posted by Corinth at 10:36 AM on March 18, 2014 [12 favorites]


Ooops. Meant to hit preview.

But the thing about programming/physics type threads is people generally (not always!) have a sense of the limits of their actual knowledge about the subject. It's obviously news for some, but just because you have a race/gender/sex doesn't make you an expert on the biology, sociology, or history of those things.
posted by rtha at 10:36 AM on March 18, 2014


Who asked anyone to be respectful of a PUA?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 10:37 AM on March 18, 2014


Terms like PUA and MRA will be thrown around if someone says something heterodox, but in order to not say something heretedox, one must know terms like PUA and MRA?

Or, looked at another way, you're using terminology from Catholic Doctrine on an Internet message board to talk about how inaccessible terms used to describe groups native to Internet message boards are?

Jargon gotta jarg from somewhere. I didn't know what MGTOW meant when it was used, above. I googled it. It was fine.
posted by running order squabble fest at 10:38 AM on March 18, 2014 [4 favorites]


Since you clearly have absolutely no idea what constitutes such harmful speech outside of your particular cultural bubble, you would do well to listen to the people affected by the hateful speech you fail even to recognise as such.

The problem is that this is not held universally. Someone upthread obliquely referenced me - I've had real family killed by a real revolution for the crime of being perceived as too conservative/wealthy. Every single time someone makes a "funny joke" about killing or eating the rich, or the rich being first against the wall, or someone being killed when the revolution comes, it personally bothers me.

And I flag it every time, and every time I'm told, "It's just a funny joke, people don't mean it, don't be so offended, we are not going to delete that." By the same people who are demanding respect for other people affected by speech that they happen to sympathize with.

It is, to say the least, frustrating.
posted by corb at 10:38 AM on March 18, 2014 [13 favorites]


I'd support you in having the harm in that recognised, corb.
posted by emmtee at 10:39 AM on March 18, 2014 [4 favorites]


If you were told that can you present evidence that you were told that?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 10:40 AM on March 18, 2014


Good Ford, there was a sketch about MRA's on Saturday Night Live a couple of weeks ago.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 10:40 AM on March 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


I still don't have a clue what the hell "PUA" is.

In the time you've been typing this, you could have Googled it. This is what someone was referring to upthread as "digging in" as a discussion tactic that tends to go not so well. You're not just saying you don't know it (it means "pick up artist" and refers to that weird underbelly community) you're saying you don't think you need to learn it to interact with people here and are defending your right to not learn it. I don't really understand that approach.

don't be so offended

We have literally never said that. If you'd like us to repeat the emails we've sent you on this topic we'll be happy to because there seems to be some sort of disconnect between what we think we're saying and what you're hearing.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:40 AM on March 18, 2014 [25 favorites]


I have been exposed to women and women's rights issues probably more than the average person, and I still don't have a clue what the hell "PUA" is.

You could have found out in the time it took you to write every single one of these responses.
posted by zombieflanders at 10:41 AM on March 18, 2014 [7 favorites]


Every comment you've made sounds less like "it sucks that we have to know about this" and more like "I'd rather spend 10x the amount of time it would take me to research complaining about Why MetaFilter Sucks Now And Who Is Ruining It."

Or, on preview what jessamyn said.
posted by zombieflanders at 10:43 AM on March 18, 2014 [9 favorites]


Returning from lurk to say one thing: I'm sorry that my flamboyant departure also made light of something that's obviously very difficult for corb. I wish that we were all sorry for making light of each other's sufferings, PTSD and bad memories.
posted by kalessin at 10:45 AM on March 18, 2014 [6 favorites]


emmtee: "I'd support you in having the harm in that recognised, corb."

Ditto. Nobody should be threatened with bodily harm for their political beliefs. I'd be happy to see that as an amendment to the FAQ if it's not already covered by another category.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:46 AM on March 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


On Tue, Jul 23, 2013 at 1:28 PM,
[corb] wrote:
I flagged [X user]'s comment for "up against the wall when the revolution comes".

[cortex]
That is a common idiom and not one that's likely to be the basis for deletion in any but a tiny set of possible topical situations (e.g. some sort of specific personal threat or a wildly inappropriate joke in the context of news of a literal brick wall execution).
Please explain if I'm missing something obvious I am not sure why you are flagging it.

[corb]
I think the idiom is offensive and have a personal history which involves family shot up against a wall when the revolution came - that's why I flagged it.

[cortex]
I am aware of and sympathize with painful personal history, but I feel like it's pretty clear in practice and in guidelines by now that we don't delete comments solely on the basis of the possibility of someone having an idiosyncratic bad reaction to otherwise unobjectionable content. What people say on the site is not practically manageable down to that level, and if you had an expectation other than deletion as the outcome for flagging it'd be helpful to know that up front.

That's not to say you can't flag or drop us a line, I'm just trying to be clear here where my confusion is coming from since there's usually an implication of some desired action or purpose for our attention to something flagged and this isn't at all an actionable situation.
posted by corb at 10:48 AM on March 18, 2014 [3 favorites]


Which is completely not even remotely kinda sorta close to:

""It's just a funny joke, people don't mean it, don't be so offended, we are not going to delete that.""
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 10:49 AM on March 18, 2014 [15 favorites]


Here you go:

* Wikipedia: Pickup Artist
* xkcd: Pickup Artist
* RationalWiki: Pickup Artist
* HowStuffWorks: How Pickup Artists Work
* Psychology Today: Do Pick-Up Artist Techniques Really Work?
* The Frisky: 8 Lessons From Pickup Artists That Guys Should Actually Use

Youtube Channel: How to Pickup Women

Video: 2013 Ultimate Pickup Artist Convention Speech by "squattincasanova"

Yes, there was a Ultimate PUA Convention held in LA last year.
posted by zarq at 10:49 AM on March 18, 2014 [6 favorites]


Please let me continue to believe that this involved attempting to pick up women while dressed as the Ultimate Warrior.
posted by running order squabble fest at 10:51 AM on March 18, 2014 [6 favorites]


Just for more context, the comment corb was objecting to is this one.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:52 AM on March 18, 2014


Of course not, don't be silly. It's obviously held in Marvel's Ultimate Universe.
posted by zombieflanders at 10:52 AM on March 18, 2014 [3 favorites]


Oh...

(dejectedly takes off ties around biceps, wipes greasepaint off face).
posted by Etrigan at 10:53 AM on March 18, 2014 [7 favorites]


dios: " Non-hateful comments, offered in good faith, ought not be deleted merely because it might hurt someone's sensibilities. That is the heckler's veto."

Can I borrow your good faith detector? Mine's broken.

In all seriousness, this is a real problem. We're supposed to assume good faith, otherwise we undermine the foundation of the community, but at some point, we need to recognize that presumption of good faith is a finite resource, and that the community is also undermined if the mods let nearly everything go as long as they can't prove it wasn't offered in good faith. Some of us believe the community works best when mods make judgement calls, others seem to want something closer to newspaper comment sections where as long as you don't hit certain kill-words, your comment stands. Judgement calls don't always result in the correct outcome, but the alternative, to many of us, is far worse.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:54 AM on March 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


corb, quoting cortex: "I am aware of and sympathize with painful personal history, but I feel like it's pretty clear in practice and in guidelines by now that we don't delete comments solely on the basis of the possibility of someone having an idiosyncratic bad reaction to otherwise unobjectionable content."

If a given personal scenario is likely to have happened to more than one mefite, then it would probably be a more likely candidate for deletion.
posted by zarq at 10:58 AM on March 18, 2014


Yeah, if a consequence of having an international website, with users from countries where revolutions have happened relatively recently (or users with families in those countries), is no longer being able to tell revolution jokes, I don't see that as a bad thing.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 11:02 AM on March 18, 2014 [11 favorites]


If a given personal scenario is likely to have happened to more than one mefite, then it would probably be a more likely candidate for deletion.

You're probably right, but in that case, it really can't be taken to be an ideological high ground, and more a matter of 'You're not numerous enough for your trauma to be relevant to us.'
posted by corb at 11:02 AM on March 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


That seems to be moving the goal posts from saying that we said "It's just a funny joke, people don't mean it, don't be so offended."
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:05 AM on March 18, 2014 [25 favorites]


Non-hateful comments, offered in good faith, ought not be deleted merely because it might hurt someone's sensibilities. That is the heckler's veto.

They won't be. However, unintentionally hateful comments offered in good faith might be.
posted by Dysk at 11:07 AM on March 18, 2014 [5 favorites]


Yes. No mod literally said "Don't be so offended." - that was my own read of what it felt like to me, and may not have been accurate. But "It's just a funny joke, people don't mean it" can well be taken from "the comments read like people joking about a topic", the implication being that if they're joking, it's okay, as long as they don't literally want to eat the rich or shoot people themselves. Cortex, for example, described it as "generic class resentment humor."

If mods would like to tell me that this is actually being taken very seriously I'd be really happy, but right now it just seems like defensiveness that I didn't get exactly right my expressions of hurt at being ignored when flagging hurtful comment.
posted by corb at 11:13 AM on March 18, 2014 [4 favorites]


This is not a safe space. People are going to say shit that (unintentionally) steps on toes. Sometimes, they might say "Oh, sorry! I won't do that any more!" if you point out that they stepped on your toes. Sometimes they are going to say to stuff it.

Also, I am almost dying here from the irony about you complaining about class-based humor or hyperbole, when you perceive it as being used against your class. Christ.
posted by rtha at 11:16 AM on March 18, 2014 [15 favorites]


Everyone who is able to post here enjoys some level of privilege.

Has anyone said otherwise? Why is this relevant to anything?
It read entirely like a gotcha or accusation to me. I'm not putting myself in charge of anything - simply asking a question of you: what prompted you to say it?

Of course we are all privileged, and we are all oppressed. It's matter of degrees and along which axes.

Exactly. If these things are happening, why can't anyone show us that they are happening?


It happened to me in this thread and even more so in "Obama Sucks." When I say the language of privilege is a privilege that lots of us don’t us by choice or due to other kinds of oppression not within the Metafilter scope of privilege.

My not-at-all-original and left of left-center/centrist points have repeatedly been picked apart by people who share my values, but who believe that privilege is THE natural way to talk about oppression. It’s not.

I feel I have been responded to in uncharitable ways-- but I am not going go after people’s motives because that is exactly the problem.

Then, we see hostility being directed at an opinion that was incorrectly called conservative. Now we are dancing on the head of a needle about whether opinions are sufficiently and the right kind of progressive.

Yes. I am one of the "wrong kinds" of progressive who gets misunderstood. This actually happens on Metafilter. Let's acknowledge it and stop asking for examples to weed out Fox News types? It’s alienating people like me who use different tactics but share your values about equality and promote them elsewhere.

No, not all discussions. Not even most discussions. But yeah, if you're going to participate in a thread about sexism, it's probably a good idea to take the time to educate oneself about the terms being discussed because they don't require a mensa-level IQ to understand.
I agree and I don’t.


The discussions here require one thing: Metafilter-specific "gender knowledge." I know a lot about gender, have written a lot about gender, and I don't have trouble getting my points across elsewhere to gender-interested people or laypersons. But here gender-interested people mistake my views for conservative or tell me I use wrong words. That is something that gender-interested people here need to hear.

And also this: I can say I agree with dios-- even though my politics might not align with his own. That’s the weird thing about politics. Sometimes there is strange apparent overlap.

Like RogerB said, conversation on the Left is productive. It shouldn’t be happening on Metatalk really, but that’s where your ethos has taken us. That’s why you get pushback from the right. So maybe listen to the few left voices who tell yall there are limits to your language of privilege. At the very least it might end the example witch hunts.

Weirdos like me don’t bother saying anything most of the time because of this. You might be missing out on something going on that you would want to know about. Or not. Who knows.

And because I know that it really matters here: I am a cisgendered white but-doesn’t-pass-as-white lower middle class woman who knows three languages with a phd from Texas—the state everyone loves to hate-- and proud of it-- and proud that my city elected the first lesbian mayor in the country. I don’t see how any of that matters, but I hope that gives you enough to see where I am coming from in the terms that matter to you.
posted by vincele at 11:17 AM on March 18, 2014 [8 favorites]


Seems noteworthy that, despite the distinct sounds of bongo drums and smell of patchouli, there's nobody from the left side of the spectrum who thinks their right to threaten to kill rich people (or conservatives) is important.
posted by tonycpsu at 11:17 AM on March 18, 2014


can well be taken from "the comments read like people joking about a topic"

Did someone actually say that or is that your interpretation?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 11:18 AM on March 18, 2014


hurt at being ignored when flagging hurtful comment.

We didn't ignore you, at all, we just didn't delete the comment you flagged.

I'm sorry this is troublesome for you, but this is similar to where we are about trigger warnings. People are going to have to manage their own strong reactions to things and we try to set expectations accurately about what we are and are not going to manage at a mod level. This is the sort of thing we are not going to manage at a mod level except to try to help people more accurately understand what they can expect from the moderation here.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:18 AM on March 18, 2014 [3 favorites]


And because I know that it really matters here: I am a cisgendered white but-doesn’t-pass-as-white lower middle class woman who knows three languages with a phd from Texas—the state everyone loves to hate-- and proud of it-- and proud that my city elected the first lesbian mayor in the country. I don’t see how any of that matters, but I hope that gives you enough to see where I am coming from in the terms that matter to you.
posted by vincele at 1:17 PM on March 18


One needs to look not further at the absurd levels we have achieved than to see that someone felt this type of comment would be either necessary or useful to the conversation.


(And I am not criticizing you vincele; I get it.)
posted by dios at 11:24 AM on March 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


Yes, we know....IT'S POLITICAL CORRECTNESS GONE MAD!
posted by neroli at 11:25 AM on March 18, 2014 [7 favorites]


Soon we won't be able to say "Merry Christmas" on MetaFilter...
posted by neroli at 11:27 AM on March 18, 2014 [10 favorites]


Also, I am almost dying here from the irony about you complaining about class-based humor or hyperbole, when you perceive it as being used against your class. Christ.
posted by rtha at 6:16 PM on March 18 [1 favorite +] [!] [quote]


Did you miss the part about corb having family murdered because of perceived wealth/class?

Because if you didn't that is a disgusting comment.
posted by Reggie Knoble at 11:28 AM on March 18, 2014 [5 favorites]


No, I didn't miss it, and I knew about it because she's mentioned it before. It's not disgusting, IMO, to point out her request that painful (to her) class-based comments be removed when she herself has defended saying painful-to-other-people shit, including class-based stuff.
posted by rtha at 11:36 AM on March 18, 2014 [4 favorites]


ArmyOfKittens: Yeah, if a consequence of having an international website, with users from countries where revolutions have happened relatively recently (or users with families in those countries), is no longer being able to tell revolution jokes

I have no particular dog in the revolution fight, but I think less "first against the wall" and "eat the rich" comments would be good. I don't think comments about widespread violence are good for the atmosphere, despite the fact they are not generally targeted at a marginalized class. I suspect the reason they fly here is the invulnerability of their target, but mostly it's because that hardly anyone non-ironically supports violent communist revolution anymore. For those reasons, I don't think this is anything at all like racist or sexist comments, and don't really think they should even be viewed in this light. However, such comments do signify that the discussion about to happen will likely be stupid and aggressive.
posted by spaltavian at 11:37 AM on March 18, 2014 [5 favorites]


I don't know if it's relevant, but it's a Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy reference, which is probably another distancing layer.
posted by running order squabble fest at 11:40 AM on March 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


corb: " You're probably right, but in that case, it really can't be taken to be an ideological high ground, and more a matter of 'You're not numerous enough for your trauma to be relevant to us.'"

This isn't about numbers in the way you seem to be implying.

In this specific case, you are not personally representing a traditionally marginalized, oppressed group.* People whose families have been murdered in revolutions may have been marginalized by the regimes that killed them, but they don't belong to a group that is considered, or could be considered, a protected class.

* Your gender has no bearing on whether this joke is offensive.

Anti-gay / anti-trans rhetoric (for example) deliberately targets an oppressed minority group that has traditionally been treated like shit by the majority. So does anti-semitic rhetoric. Or rape jokes. A joke referencing a science fiction comedy novel (Hitchhiker's Guide) may be in bad taste, but it's not the same thing as offending an entire minority group.
posted by zarq at 11:50 AM on March 18, 2014 [11 favorites]


I have no particular dog in the revolution fight, but I think less "first against the wall" and "eat the rich" comments would be good.

I generally feel that way too, in the spirit of good conversation, because I think there's plenty of substantial and interesting ways to have a critical conversation about class- and income- and resource-inequality and the state of the world financial structures, etc., that don't require going to a sort of lazy cookie-cutter "eat the rich!" motto; so too really any discussion as substantial critical commentary versus a lazy motto.

That said, there's a big distinction between responding to a complicated topic with an actual exhortative cry of PUT 'EM UP AGAINST THE WALL as some sort of kneejerk pseudo-threat, and using a the phrase "up against the wall" in an idiomatic fashion in a comment that bears zero resemblance to that sort of brash sloganeering. corb, it's okay for you to feel bothered by it, it's okay to let us know about that, it's okay to flag it if that feels like the appropriate reaction to you. It's not okay to pretend the comment is something wholly other than what it is or to mischaracterize our actual reaction to you when you wrote (without any context, hence my confusion at the start of that exchange) to talk about it.

Like I said in my email, I sympathize with the painful personal history side of things. That's on top of the above general disinclination to see the lazy slogan stuff. I think both of those are legit things to have a reaction based on, and stuff worth talking about.

But when you say
And I flag it every time, and every time I'm told, "It's just a funny joke, people don't mean it, don't be so offended, we are not going to delete that."
And then it turns out that basically every element of that is incorrect other than "we are not going to delete that", that's shitty. That's taking situation A and calling it out as situation Z. It's tiresome.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:53 AM on March 18, 2014 [31 favorites]


This entire thread has been fascinating. I've been reading MeFi daily for 13 years, my "original", dormant account is one of the first thousand or so. I retired it for 10 years and lurked until registering Señor Blerpitybloop to talk about music, surfing and the rare rugby post. (I'm working on an epic soccer World Cup front page post just in time for Brazil!)

As a (somewhat) Republican I foolishly dabbled in to some political threads early on expressing my unorthodox worldview, got myself heated up and got Smacked. The. Fuck. Down. And rightfully so, this site is smarter than I am, which is why I came here. To read, and learn. This site is tremendously progressive and liberal, and that's ok. I have views that run counter to the majority here, it's no big thing.

Being republican on this site Fucking. Blows. We are a punching bag. For all the talk of "don't generalize a group" republicans seem to skip that guideline. We don't all subscribe to the party line. I completely failed to see the humor in the Mitch McConnell b-roll footage music thread other than "lol, republican, lol, he looks like a turtle". No big. Water off the back.

But in these 13 years of daily reading I have rarely seen a deletion based on pure ideology. Rather, it's been a "your comment will invite a shitstorm, please rephrase it" approach, which is why the mods (jessamyn and cortex in particular) are phenomenal. Know your audience. Contribute, don't throw a Molotov. This is a private community, not YouTube.

All that aside, This particular deletion was a bad one. it was an inarticulate point, at worst. Let it breathe in the thread and be commented on. Move on, the mods are human.
posted by BlerpityBloop at 11:53 AM on March 18, 2014 [23 favorites]


(That last comment started with a quote from spaltavian but is substantially after the first paragraph a response to corb. On reread that's slightly confusing, so I just want to be clear about the attribution.)
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:56 AM on March 18, 2014


And then it turns out that basically every element of that is incorrect other than "we are not going to delete that", that's shitty.

Well, let's pull that apart. Me flagging it every time? I think I do. It's hard to say. I flag it every time I notice it and am not frustrated by the dismal track record on flaggings.

Me being told "it's just a funny joke"? Actual quote: they read like people joking about a topic. So, yes, no one specifically stated that they found the joke funny, but when someone finds a joke offensive, they usually don't elide the offense by talking about how it's humor.

People don't mean it? A quote about how people don't mean what they're saying, it's not a credible threat of violence, with the implication that only if people actually personally mean what they're saying will it be deleted.

So really, the only thing that I can't find a cite for and admit may have been my interpretation rather than a statement was the "Don't be so offended" portion, which I already said was about how it feels when you, as mods, say those things. You're using that minor point to attempt to cast doubt on what I'm talking about as well as delegitimize my complaint.

I generally like you, cortex, and think you're a pretty decent guy, but this feels shitty. Why not apologize for causing offense, rather than rules lawyering how I couldn't possibly be justified in being offended?
posted by corb at 12:32 PM on March 18, 2014 [4 favorites]


It's not a minor point. You totally mischaracterized what was said to you, in a way that makes the mods look like horrible meanies being mean to you. Why are you not apologizing for accusing them of saying a crappy thing they didn't say? Do you think that accusation is not offensive or hurtful?
posted by rtha at 12:38 PM on March 18, 2014 [3 favorites]


What you paraphrased and what was actually said to you are completely different things, meanings, and intentions. Its not shades of difference either.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 12:40 PM on March 18, 2014 [3 favorites]


You're using that minor point to attempt to cast doubt on what I'm talking about as well as delegitimize my complaint.

You quoted an email exchange with me about a specific answer about a specific comment you had flagged, as representative of why 'and every time I'm told, "It's just a funny joke, people don't mean it, don't be so offended, we are not going to delete that."' was a legitimate characterization of mod response to you when it wasn't remotely that.

You now want to fold in other responses in different contexts and handwave away the fact that (a) in each case you're generalizing a specific statement to some more general version you chose to represent it as in the first place, (b) except where you can't even produce the specific and most objectionable one ("don't be offended" is literally the opposite of me expressing straight-faced sympathy for your feelings, and saying that something is not a violation of site policy is not the same thing as saying you don't have a right to be bothered by it) and (c) even these cites are scattered across multiple comments from multiple people at different times. I have been and continue to be totally willing to acknowledge your right to feel how you feel, but I'm not going to apologize to you for you inventing a situation other than the one that actually existed.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:45 PM on March 18, 2014 [21 favorites]


Hey look, another Metatalk thread turns into the corb show. The mods are far more patient than I would be.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:46 PM on March 18, 2014 [12 favorites]


cortex: "corb, it's okay for you to feel bothered by it"

corb: " rather than rules lawyering how I couldn't possibly be justified in being offended?"

posted by benito.strauss at 12:46 PM on March 18, 2014 [17 favorites]


Could this MeTa please not become yet another referendum on corb's grievances, crowding out all the other topics of discussion?
posted by RogerB at 12:50 PM on March 18, 2014 [4 favorites]


Like I said earlier, if we don't read what people say, and instead pick out some useful words and construct a narrative based on those words, language becomes basically useless as a way to resolve issues. I don't really know what one does about that - either accept that some people are just not able to repeat back to you what you said and move on, or keep beating your head against it. If you basically believe that dialog is the highest tool for the resolution of emnities, it's incredibly saddening to see this happen - and obviously worse, and very hard to acknowledge, when you realise that in a heightened emotional state you've done it yourself.
posted by running order squabble fest at 12:55 PM on March 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


these cites are scattered across multiple comments from multiple people at different times

That makes it worse, not better.

I'm out - at the point where talking about specific examples of things that feel as though they're held to a very different standard because of viewpoint after those of us commenting were being requested multiple times for examples to do so does the exact thing I predicted, and then on top of that getting slammed for talking about the things I experienced, I think there is nothing redeemable in this thread for me. If people want to talk, in my absence, about how words should be taken as they are received rather than as they are intended, unless the offense is felt by corb, they're more than welcome to.

I am unfollowing the thread in recent activity. If anyone wants to memail, you know where I live.
posted by corb at 1:16 PM on March 18, 2014 [4 favorites]


People don't mean it? A quote about how people don't mean what they're saying, it's not a credible threat of violence, with the implication that only if people actually personally mean what they're saying will it be deleted.

There is a vast chasm between something being a credible threat of violence and someone personally threatening to hurt you. "I hope you get beaten up for being a fag" is an entirely impersonal but credible threat of violence, for example.

Not that I don't agree that fewer 'up against the wall' jokes wouldn't be awesome, frankly. But you are if not outright mischaracterising the mods' position, then certainly painting it as uncharitably as you humanly can.
posted by Dysk at 2:17 PM on March 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


Not that I don't agree that fewer 'up against the wall' jokes wouldn't be awesome, frankly.

I think that is something that many of us agree with and I'm dismayed that this turned into such a complete misunderstanding of the things we-as-mods were saying. I hope it's clear where we stand, why we didn't delete the "up against the wall" comment, and why we wouldn't in the future as well.

If people want to talk, in my absence, about how words should be taken as they are received rather than as they are intended, unless the offense is felt by corb, they're more than welcome to.

Part of our reliance on the good faith of participants here is that we argue that intention and reception are both important parts of the communication process and need paying attention to. This isn't how it works in all communities, it's how it works in this one. I'm finding this whole situation pretty confusing so if there are things other people are confused about, please let us know.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:41 PM on March 18, 2014


FWIW, it's amazing to me that anyone would deny that (a) MeFi is very lefty, and (b) comments that deviate from that orthodoxy are held to a higher standard.

(For the record, I'm basically a Democrat, leftier than the Dems on many issues, to the libertarian of them on others. I say this just to quickly establish that I'm not conservative, though I do disagree with the left about some important points--and I tend to disagree a lot with the far left on theoretical grounds. Anyway. That's roughly me.)

I enjoy non-social-political posts on MeFi most, and have begun trying to stay away from the social/political ones.

In my grumpy moods, I call MeFi "Tumblr for grownups." The orthodoxy on threads having to do with soc/pol topics is pretty far down the "SJW" road, IMO. I've seen SJW-y things on MeFi that made my jaw literally (in the literal sense of 'literally') drop.

OTOH, I'm in no way sure that the MeFi orthodoxy is wrong about particulars. I think that the MeFi orthodoxy's guess as to what's right and what's wrong with respect to the relevant issues about race, gender and so forth might be right.

However, my own current view is that MeFi is rather too Tumblr/SJW-y. That is, my own view is that the orthodoxy here has gone too far left, to a place that is simply no longer reasonable. It's hard to explain without getting into specifics--which I don't want to do here--but I think "Portlandia liberal"(a term I snag from someone above) is a fairly apt description.

Might the Portlandia liberals (that's hyperbole, obviously) be right? Actually, I think they might be, though I currently don't think that they are.

However, since that *is* the orthodoxy here, and since it is not an obviously insane orthodoxy, I do think that, to some extent, the rest of us just need to realize that and move on. A moderated board has to make some guesses about what's in the ballpark and what isn't. MeFi has made some reasonable guesses. I disagree with those guesses. Nobody makes me come here.

I do tend to think that heterodox comments are often treated rather shabbily--sometimes deleted, more often shouted down. Intimations of prejudice are not uncommon. But I'm not entirely objective in this matter.

To be clear, I'm merely reporting my reactions, as someone who, IRL, is often singled out as being a reasonable person. I'm often wrong. I could be wrong here.

Finally, it might be worth nothing that one reason I have recently resolved to avoid MeFi soc/pol threads is that I fear that they might have started pushing me to the right. I tend to be more contrarian that I ought to be--that's my bad. When a view is orthodox and such views are given more latitude, that means more irrational comments of that kind are tolerated. MeFi seems to me to be pretty-far-left-of-center with echo-chamber tendencies. It doesn't take much of a skew to skew things too much for my taste. So I find myself being shoved a bit in the other direction. (And: making crankier comments than I probably need to make.) I don't want to be pushed to the right, but I know my own weaknesses fairly well...so, since I'm not good at controlling those reactions, best to just keep myself away from what causes them...

Needless to say, I could be wrong about every substantive point here.
posted by Fists O'Fury at 3:46 PM on March 18, 2014 [38 favorites]


Soon we won't be able to say "Merry Christmas" on MetaFilter...

I work for a large public university that is committed, at least from a PR standpoint, to honoring and encouraging diversity. In every job interview for a faculty or staff position, there is at least one (mandated) question meant to gauge the candidate's compatibility with this commitment to diversity.

I sat on an interview panel last year. One of the internal candidates' answer to the diversity question (and the wording of the question itself is irrelevant, because like I said, the answer is supposed to be revelatory in a generic way) was: 'I really appreciate how the university demonstrates its commitments to diversity. It has instituted so many programs and communications and so forth that let us all know how important diversity is and make us all aware of it at all times. And the time I appreciate it most is during the holidays, because now we can ALL celebrate Christmas!"

Ahem, uh... true story.

This entire thread has been fascinating....

As a (somewhat) Republican I foolishly dabbled in to some political threads early on expressing my unorthodox worldview, got myself heated up and got Smacked. The. Fuck. Down. And rightfully so, this site is smarter than I am, which is why I came here. To read, and learn. This site is tremendously progressive and liberal, and that's ok. I have views that run counter to the majority here, it's no big thing.


I want to second this. Despite the contentiousness and occasional WTF-ness in this thread, I find it really valuable. It's made me recognize something about myself, which is that when the more-conservative folks here say something that I disagree with, I roll my eyes and huff and marvel at how wrongheaded people can be. I think I tend to keep it to myself, but regardless, it's not right of me to do that. What I should do is think about why they have the perspective they do and how I can learn from that. Because I *do* come here to learn from people who are a lot smarter, more articulate, and more complex thinkers than I am. And I should be able to do that -- learn from people who don't share my position on a certain issue.

I think lot of where my jump-to-judgment comes from is a) being a member since 2001 (though this account only goes back to 2004) and remembering how much rougher of a place it used to be, and therefore incorrectly assuming that it's not possible to have a civil conversation with someone who doesn't agree with me. (And probably, to some extent, not trusting myself not to fly off the handle.) And b) having grown up in a place and time where conservatives' opinions were negative towards me personally and also carried with them the possibility of violence.

I don't think things are really dangerous like that anymore for boring white gay people like me (not assuming anything about any other marginalized group) -- both on Metafilter and in our society -- but it's difficult to rid yourself of a lifetime of looking over your shoulder when, some years ago, NOT looking over your shoulder could invite physical danger. So while I know that people who express conservative opinions on Metafilter don't have anything out for me personally -- and certainly don't want to physically harm me -- I'm having to change with the times too and learn how to unlearn that watchfulness.

All that is to say -- to admit -- that, personally, I probably am happier when opinions that differ from mine, or that challenge mine, are the quieter, less frequent ones in any given thread, or are absent all together. But that's not fair, because it presupposes that I'm right all the time, and if I were right all the time, I wouldn't need to come here and learn from people who are smarter than I am.

So this thread started out as one thing (and I don't think taz made a bad deletion, for what it's worth), but ended up quite another, and I am learning from it, so thanks.
posted by mudpuppie at 3:54 PM on March 18, 2014 [12 favorites]


Fists, I feel your reported experience mirrors my perception exactly. Couldn't have put it better.
posted by umberto at 4:01 PM on March 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


Yup. I'm in the boat with Fists O'Fury too.
posted by Big_B at 4:17 PM on March 18, 2014 [3 favorites]


I actually wonder if it isn't necessarily whether Metafilter as a whole has a more "Portlandia liberal" view, or whether a certain handful of Metafilterites have that view and are just really, really vocal about it to the point that with some conversations the air is getting sucked out of the room. I've actually found myself dropping out of conversations for much the same reason as Fists says, but for my part it's not about "oh it's THIS topic again", but rather, "oh, it's THAT PERSON again."

At the same time, it's always a different couple of people for each topic that happens (and maybe one or two people where I'm likely to just sigh and walk away no matter WHAT the topic), and I'm probably sure that I myself am one such person for someone else for some other topic. And since I am that person for someone else, no doubt, I'm actually grateful that the mods don't censor (because they don't, no matter how much you wanna slice it) but instead what they do is rein me in when I'm turning into That Guy.

I wonder if, if each of us looks at the threads that seem to have beaten us up, whether it actually may be more like four or five posters who just take repeated hits.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:26 PM on March 18, 2014 [12 favorites]


MetaFilter: I'm merely reporting my reactions, as someone who, IRL, is often singled out as being a reasonable person.
posted by gsteff at 4:38 PM on March 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


I actually wonder if it isn't necessarily whether Metafilter as a whole has a more "Portlandia liberal" view, or whether a certain handful of Metafilterites have that view and are just really, really vocal about it to the point that with some conversations the air is getting sucked out of the room.

Yeah, this is something that people have brought up repeatedly in this thread. That there are a handful of users (different ones on different topics) who are not only "really, really vocal" but staggeringly aggressive, hostile, rude, and nasty, and direct this behavior at long-time users in very good standing, many of whom are known for being levelheaded and reasonable, and are completely shocked at being treated that way.

But because that handful of users are expressing the favored point of view, others are told to stop "causing fights," to "read the room," -- in other words, they are blamed for causing the terrible behavior of that handful of users.
posted by cairdeas at 4:42 PM on March 18, 2014 [21 favorites]


But because that handful of users are expressing the favored point of view, others are told to stop "causing fights," to "read the room," -- in other words, they are blamed for causing the terrible behavior of that handful of users.

You really can drop us a line at the contact form if you want to get specific about this sort of thing i.e. feeling like one or a few specific people are showing a pattern of behavior you think is problematic.

My view from ten thousand feet is that we've got vocal/pushy/argumentative folks on a variety of topics and, yeah, checking in with them in a "hey, you need to throttle it back some, okay?" capacity is something we try and do when we see it flaring up and it can be helpful sometimes to hear from folks when they feel like someone's going off the wall, etc.

On the other hand, we also tend to hear from folks on either side of an argument or a dispute or some ongoing discursive friction scene who are convinced that the other is the problem, so it's not really usually so clearcut from outside where responsibility for some of this stuff lies. Bad dynamics are often not one-sided, and as much as pile-on stuff is a problem we will continue to have to deal with and the "all" side of taking-on-all-comers stuff is likewise, there's often no clean dividing line between the one and the many. From the mod side we try to find a way to accommodate both perspectives on that but it's always gonna be a compromise and rarely going to leave anyone entirely happy.

As much as "read the room" has been dismissed by a few folks in here as some kind of fig leaf for ideologically-favored bad behavior or whatever, it's an actual necessary thing that folks fail to do sometimes (whether out of failure to try or just failure to make intent match expression) and foisting the responsibility for that onto other people's perceived failure to accommodate badly framed interjections in a thread isn't really workable. This stuff is complicated, responsibility and agency for how stuff plays out in conversation here is generally neither fully on one party or the other once things go past a single volley.
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:02 PM on March 18, 2014 [3 favorites]


You really can drop us a line at the contact form if you want to get specific about this sort of thing i.e. feeling like one or a few specific people are showing a pattern of behavior you think is problematic.

I have, cortex, most recently to restless_nomad like two weeks ago. It goes nowhere.
posted by cairdeas at 5:05 PM on March 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


Some users, naming no names, have demonstrated a tendency towards comments that are, in my opinion and the opinion of all reasonable people, counter-productive and a bad fit for MetaFilter.

You all know who I mean.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 5:06 PM on March 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


I dunno, there might be something to the "four or five people in a given conversation" idea, but, I bet if we drew up lists, we would identify different people.

Not that I would recommend drawing up lists, mind you. I hope we all agree that's something we can stop calling for.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:08 PM on March 18, 2014


Some users, naming no names, have demonstrated a tendency towards comments that are, in my opinion and the opinion of all reasonable people, counter-productive and a bad fit for MetaFilter.

You all know who I mean.


Those who extol themselves and their group as 'magical' while dismissing everyone else as "muggles"?
posted by jamjam at 5:19 PM on March 18, 2014 [6 favorites]


Could you ease up on the sarcasm and derisiveness just a tad, unless you think that it is really productive and helpful to what we're trying to talk about? Everyone has repeatedly agreed that nobody should, or will, name lists of names and it would be spectacularly unhelpful to do so, and we can talk about general patterns of behavior without it.
posted by cairdeas at 5:20 PM on March 18, 2014 [5 favorites]


Some users, naming no names, have demonstrated a tendency towards comments that are, in my opinion and the opinion of all reasonable people, counter-productive and a bad fit for MetaFilter.

You all know who I mean.


I don't, and that's my point - all our lists are different. I'm positive I'm on someone's list, surely.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:20 PM on March 18, 2014 [3 favorites]


That was not to you jamjam.
posted by cairdeas at 5:20 PM on March 18, 2014


I have, cortex, most recently to restless_nomad like two weeks ago. It goes nowhere.

Was this something sent to the contact form? Because unless it was an email we got from you asking what seemed like a straightforward question I don't see it on our end. Possible it was deleted but could you clarify? This is also why we stress the Contact Form aspect of this since it's important for us all to know what's going on, even if it's only one of us who is responding and/or communicating on a topic.

You all know who I mean.

Please stop this.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:21 PM on March 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


Put me in the "naming names is better than beating around the bush and making everyone wonder if they're the ones being talked about" column.
posted by tonycpsu at 5:21 PM on March 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


Apologies, Jessamyn. I was attempting to make the point that just complaining about "some people" creates a toxic, paranoid atmosphere and is at least as unhelpful as the behaviour being complained about.

Next time I will drop the sarcasm and just say it.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 5:24 PM on March 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


Put me in the "naming names is better than beating around the bush and making everyone wonder if they're the ones being talked about" column.

It's just emotional manipulation. Better to ignore it, maybe.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:24 PM on March 18, 2014


"You all know who I mean."

Well, I don't. I am truly awful with names, every single comment for the past decade on this site to me is anonymous and fresh. There are some names I recognize more than others, sure, but I can't recall their posting history or personality (or more relevant: politics/gender/etc etc) from thread to thread.

I just see every username as BlazeCorb PainFlanders. It's kind of annoying.
posted by BlerpityBloop at 5:31 PM on March 18, 2014 [12 favorites]


My view from ten thousand feet is that we've got vocal/pushy/argumentative folks on a variety of topics and, yeah, checking in with them in a "hey, you need to throttle it back some, okay?" capacity is something we try and do when we see it flaring up and it can be helpful sometimes to hear from folks when they feel like someone's going off the wall, etc.

but it isn't that effective from what i've seen - and that's not your fault; it's probably impossible for you to say that to everyone who does this sort of thing

if people aren't going to exercise some self-control here than the problem is going to remain - pile-ons, bad faith arguments, repeated bickering and people trying to make an entrance for their issues that they want to go on about, especially here on metatalk - that goes for "heterodox" and "orthodox" members

i've gotten to the point where i often say what i want to say and get the hell out without getting sucked into an endless argument over it - i wish some other people would learn to do that, too
posted by pyramid termite at 5:32 PM on March 18, 2014 [6 favorites]


You really can drop us a line at the contact form if you want to get specific about this sort of thing i.e. feeling like one or a few specific people are showing a pattern of behavior you think is problematic.

What will you do about it?

I realize that's not a totally fair question. There's a limited extent to which you can answer it without specifics, and throwing out names isn't exactly going to elevate the thread. And I'm sure you would answer honestly via the contact form, but this should remain a public conversation.

The reason I ask, apart from it being the next logical question, is that it feels to me like the answer is, "Not very much." We all know people who have hung around MetaFilter for years, some more than a decade now, by keeping their participation just within the enforced bounds of civility. They are constantly behaving poorly and every time the conversation comes up on MeTa, a moderator will reference how the user has been talked to about this. But on it goes.

It feels like people know where the bright-line rules are: no doxxing, no explicit personal attacks, etc. And short of those, moderation here is usually pretty soft. That's why it feels problematic when somebody is behaving one-tenth as fightily but from a non-majority perspective, and suddenly the moderation tactics are much different.
posted by cribcage at 5:32 PM on March 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


Blazecock Pileon: " It's just emotional manipulation. Better to ignore it, maybe."

Eh, I think the concerns are genuine, I just feel like we can't get anywhere if we're not going to evaluate the specific cases where harm was allegedly done. It's going to be tough when the offending comments were deleted, but surely if the claim is that the majority gets away with shouting down dissenters, then there must be instances where the offending comments were allowed to stand.

I appreciated that corb was willing to cite a specific time when she felt her flagging was ignored, and I feel like a large number of folks would endorse the mods taking a harder line against threats of violence, even if they seem like they're in jest. Despite her early exit from this thread, I feel like there's some common ground there -- even if a lot of people don't think her summary of the mod interaction was fair, many folks expressed support for a remedy that would improve that interaction in the future. Maybe if we could evaluate other problematic interactions, people could learn what behaviors are turning so many people off.
posted by tonycpsu at 5:36 PM on March 18, 2014


Put me in the "naming names is better than beating around the bush and making everyone wonder if they're the ones being talked about" column.

I'm not sure about this. I think if a particular user has behaviors that are a problem, then they can be called out in a MeTa. Since those go badly enough, I think a call out of a specific group of members would be a freeforall.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:36 PM on March 18, 2014


GenjiandProust: "I'm not sure about this. I think if a particular user has behaviors that are a problem, then they can be called out in a MeTa. Since those go badly enough, I think a call out of a specific group of members would be a freeforall."

Oh, I'm not saying we wouldn't get our hair mussed, but we see how things are going with shadowy cabal accusations along the lines of "THIS group of MeFi-ites does THIS, while THAT group of MeFi-ites does THAT", and I don't see how it would be any worse to just call out the folks who are exhibiting the problem behaviors.
posted by tonycpsu at 5:41 PM on March 18, 2014


But just talking about them vaguely can have dozens of people wondering if their contributions are being secretly resented.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 5:41 PM on March 18, 2014 [3 favorites]


What will you do about it?

Talk to people. Try to be clear to folks on a one-to-one basis that there's ongoing friction coming from the way they're interacting in some capacity on the site. Try to emphasize that intent and expression don't always match up and if they aren't intending to come off as sort of loud-and-mean, they've gotta recalibrate. For the rare folks who seem to specifically have the position that it's their god-given right to be jerks rather that they're just not meaning to, we make it clearer that that's not really gonna fly.

And then we hope for the best, expect less than the best because people are people, and check in over time if we feel like someone's sort of slipping.

I mean, this is literally what we've done on an ongoing basis for years and years, as one of the few tools we have for working with folks on the site to try and keep things running okay. Sometimes it works really well; often times it work more okay or well-with-some-backslide; now and then it really just doesn't and we have to try something else.

I think it's inevitably frustrating for party A who thinks party B is a problem if what they hear from us is "we'll talk to party B about that" and then what happens is something other than party B suddenly and fundamentally transforming as a participant here. That's understandable. But it's also realistic; barring a mefi where we start aggressively banning folks, there's not a good way to guarantee a quick solution to this kind of thing. And it doesn't help that by the time party A is annoyed with party B enough to approach us about it, party A is gonna be inclined to be easily annoyed by any sort of behavior from party B that they don't like even if party B is actually making an effort and improving their behavior in general.

So, I guess if you feel like that chalks up to "not much", the obvious question in response is what would 'doing something something about it' look like, that is actually practically implementable on a site that doesn't casually ban people or where possible aggressively micromanage behavior and where the userbase in general isn't in favor of that kind of change?
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:41 PM on March 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


Yikes, I feel like I caused a derail. Lemme try again - what I mean is, when I am having conflict with someone on the site, I bear in mind that this is a community of individuals,and that reminds me to watch out for whether my conflict is with just a couple individuals rather than " a whole thread" or "the whole site." And usually that's how I see that yeah, it is just a couple individuals I may be fighting with in a thread.

It also helps me spot when I may be getting to a bitch eating crackers point, which is when I recognize I should bail.

I'm not always good at this, and the mods have called me on it when I'm not, but that's how I try to think.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:47 PM on March 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


Oh, I'm not saying we wouldn't get our hair mussed, but we see how things are going with shadowy cabal accusations along the lines of "THIS group of MeFi-ites does THIS, while THAT group of MeFi-ites does THAT", and I don't see how it would be any worse to just call out the folks who are exhibiting the problem behaviors.

I dunno, this sounds a bit like calling for a war and letting the mods sort 'em out. I'm not sure there'd be a site left once the dust settled.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:51 PM on March 18, 2014


is that it feels to me like the answer is, "Not very much."

We do a lot of emailing. We commiserate. We answer people's "it it them or me?" questions. We explain other people's extenuating circumstances (if we happen to know them) or say "Yeah it's a mystery to me too. We suggest edits occasionally. We explain histories of things. We talk about where a certain person or thing came from. We tell people to ease off. We tell people to ease off again. We give people the night off if they don't seem to be able to ease off. We ask people if they're trolling. We tell them that they sound like they are trolling. We laugh at the jokes that are too touchy to put into a thread. We explain why something was deleted. We explain why other things weren't deleted. We apologize. We listen. We look out for trends that we may not have noticed before. We try to understand trends that others point out. We talk to the other mods about what's been going on so that we're all up to speed. We try to make decisions about whether we need to do things differently. We occasionally ban people.

A lot of what we try to do, besides just listen, is try to help people set expectations about what this place is like and how we do our jobs and what the process is if they disagree strongly with either of those two things. We don't expect everyone to like it here, especially not all the time, but for the most part we'd like most of our mod actions to not seem like they're out of left field, or for people to feel that they've gotten a fair hearing from us if that is how they felt.

So I guess the question would be: what should we be doing? Realistically?
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:58 PM on March 18, 2014 [21 favorites]


Fists o' Fury, GET OUT OF MY HEAD.

Well said.
posted by modernnomad at 5:58 PM on March 18, 2014


GenjiandProust: " I dunno, this sounds a bit like calling for a war and letting the mods sort 'em out. I'm not sure there'd be a site left once the dust settled."

Nah, all I'm saying is you can't change bad behaviors if we can't see what the bad behaviors are. As we saw with corb's example, there was an incongruity between her understanding of the moderator interaction and the mod's stated intention, and seeing things in context, we can all make our own determination of whether she was treated fairly. Certainly I've crossed the line and had comments deleted before, and I'm sure I've pissed people off with comments that were allowed to stand. I should be held to account for those interactions if anyone was upset with them. I'd prefer MeMail, but if I was angering a lot of people, I'd expect them to contact the mods, and I'd expect the mods to give me a stern talking-to.

I don't think that kind of thing would have to end in a war. We're adults here, right?
posted by tonycpsu at 5:59 PM on March 18, 2014


So I guess the question would be: what should we be doing? Realistically?

It's kind of frustrating (not blaming you Jessamyn, the circumstances are just frustrating) that this question comes at the bottom of a 700+ comment MeTa thread, because so few people are still left participating at this point.

Something being in MeTa, alone, is not going to be seen by a pretty wide swath of the userbase. Something down at the end of a long contentious thread is only going to be seen by a very few. At the bottom of 700 comments? Forget about it.

I feel like we could have had a much more productive conversation about the practicalities of this if the question were asked in the first 20 comments or earlier.
posted by cairdeas at 6:06 PM on March 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


what would 'doing something something about it' look like

The smaller options? First would be to analyze how your one-on-one conversations with people unfold. Personally I suspect you are probably already doing that as effectively as possible, so I wouldn't be inclined to ask. (I've found you to be good at your jobs.) Second could be applying special rules to certain users. If I'm remembering from previous MeTas, at least one user was told to cease participating in gay-marriage threads, and another was told to steer clear of commenting on Obama. Maybe I'm misunderstanding those instances, or maybe there's already lots of this going on already that I just don't see. Third could be expanding use of time-outs—and again, maybe this is happening already more often than I see. It feels relatively rare.

But I'll grant that your ultimate point is probably where the conversation ends up: bannings. Maybe that's just going to remain disagreement territory, but I would say this. I feel like we all know a handful of habitually problem users, and we all remember a handful of now-banned conservative users. No question, the latter exhibited shitty behavior. But in my opinion, they got away with less of it than the former group. If the former were also espousing unpopular opinions, they would have run out of rope years ago.

And I apologize if this has become a derail from the topic of certain perspectives feeling chilled. Because while I do think this is one piece of that, it isn't the whole pie by any means. The other issue is bigger than just moderation. It's community.
posted by cribcage at 6:10 PM on March 18, 2014


I feel like we could have had a much more productive conversation about the practicalities of this if the question were asked in the first 20 comments or earlier.

The contact form and MeTa are always available for people who want to tell us what we should be doing. cribcage posted his observations, we responded. I'm sorry you are frustrated. I'm also frustrated.

cribcage: we may sort of be at the "Uh can you email us about that...?" point since I'm not sure what conservative banned users you are referring to. We're super loathe to ban anyone but we have some general "This will get you banned" guidelines that don't have a lot of wiggle room.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:14 PM on March 18, 2014


That's true, but I think it would have been a really fruitful thing for the userbase to discuss together, if it's a discussion you guys are in fact interested in having. I think there are lots more people who would have participated if it had come earlier, that's all.
posted by cairdeas at 6:17 PM on March 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


At the bottom of 700 comments? Forget about it.

I'm not trying to be obtuse here, but: folks can always start a new thread if they want to raise a subject fresh. There's not really a clear issue to me where somehow us having this discussion at the tail end of this thread precludes having it elsewhere as well; it's certainly far from the first time we've talked about this kind of stuff.

If I'm remembering from previous MeTas, at least one user was told to cease participating in gay-marriage threads, and another was told to steer clear of commenting on Obama.

Yep, and part of the issue is that that's effective in some ways when there was a well-defined, topic-specific, user-specific problem and no other good solution; but it's also a pretty high-cost way to manage users. Doing it for a couple specific cases is more or less doable; scaling that up significantly is a different sort of problem. Folks have also generally expressed a lot of discomfort at the idea of us telling someone that they can Never Talk About X as anything other than a rare, last resort sort of thing; there's a cultural angle to this beyond even the work resource question.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:17 PM on March 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


So, start a new MeTa?
posted by tonycpsu at 6:17 PM on March 18, 2014


So, maybe I feel like someone in a thread is picking on me. Maybe that other person feels like I'M picking on HIM. Maybe one of us is wrong. It seems kind of presumptuous for me to demand that the mods always "do something about" me being picked on. Maybe the other person is making the same demand at the same time. Isn't that the mods' call?
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:21 PM on March 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


Or just sidebar that comment in response to "what do the mods do?" - I mean, that's basically the meat of it, right?
posted by running order squabble fest at 6:21 PM on March 18, 2014


And honestly, if you feel like a thread is turning into the User X Show, there's no rule saying you have to help that happen.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:22 PM on March 18, 2014 [7 favorites]


You really can drop us a line at the contact form if you want to get specific about this sort of thing i.e. feeling like one or a few specific people are showing a pattern of behavior you think is problematic.

I have, cortex, most recently to restless_nomad like two weeks ago. It goes nowhere.
posted by cairdeas at 8:05 PM on March 18 [1 favorite −] [!]

I'm with cairdeas with this. People want specific examples? I will give a specific example of how this has gone for me. This is just the most recent experience I had.

I never ever used to contact the mods because it felt whiny and childish to me. And I do feel like some loud and aggressive members go to the mods and make a fuss to get their way, which doesn't seem right.

But we have been told that this is the route to take if we are having issues with other users. Contrary to what I think may be the opinion of some in this thread, I am constantly assessing my own behavior because I feel it is part of being a good-faith participant here.

So, rather than make the mistake of "aggressively" responding to criticism or "reading the room" wrong, when after making a few innocuous comments in a thread another user with a very critical and patronizing tone seemed more interested in picking a fight with me personally, rather than rise to the bait I responded once, emailed the mods to ask for hell and read some other threads. .

I came back to find that restless_nomad had, in response to my note, decided to leave all the other user's comments up. She had deleted only my last comment.

Obviously, I wasn't happy about it, so I again wrote for clarification. I was basically told that my last comment was off-topic and fighty because I was responding to the other commenter. Well, but the other commenter had already quoted me in their comment and criticized not just my POV but made disparaging remarks about me personally, Why was I the one in the wrong?

Maybe I was reading the situation wrong and had taken this too personally.

I went away again, took a break from my keyboard this time. Not like I want to go down some road where I turn into a big conspiracy theorist, and I had no personal issue with this other user; maybe they were just having a bad day or I had come off wrong somewhere else and didn't see it. Okay, it happens.

The thread was a topic that I had a particular interest in, so I came back, continued to participate in it. I had made a comment about how things were better for women now than in the seventies and eighties. The other user really had an issue with this statement. Now they doubted my knowledge, questioned my age. I answered truthfully that I was 47. They said my profile pic made me seem younger so must be out of date (yeah, nice, right? All of this is in-thread).

I said it was maybe a year old, if that? (Now, in the interest of full disclosure, turns out I was wrong and it was actually about a year and a half old, because I'd forgotten which one I'd put up. I am way old, I was off by a few months, sue me. I have a REALLY current one up now, though!).

This other user went as far as rifling through my photographs on another social networking account, then sending me a little passive aggressive Mefimail gotcha because my estimate was off. OMG, you caught me?! Couldn't even Mefimail back because this user turns theirs off (except, I guess, for urgent fact-checking matters like my profile pic!).

So I write the mods for help again, explaining what had just happened, and commented tersely in-thread to say that going through my other accounts to hassle me was NOT okay. Other commenter maintains I have no idea what sexism women went experienced back then because I was not technically an adult woman yet in the seventies! Hey, got me again, I guess? Because teenage girls never experience sexism, amirite? Man, if I said something like that, I would be pilloried for it, and rightly so.

Finally a mod came in and left a note telling us to cut it out. At which point the other user flounced off in a huff, claiming they were offended by the altercation. Actually put that in their last comment.

No, the other user didn't get in trouble. They didn't get called out by name specifically, didn't even get a time-out or anything. Apparently I am equally at fault when people stalk me on the internet. And I thanked the mods! Because at least I could comment in the thread again without getting hassled.
posted by misha at 6:29 PM on March 18, 2014 [30 favorites]


OK, that's a legit fail on the mods' part right there.
posted by tonycpsu at 6:39 PM on March 18, 2014 [6 favorites]


(On a happy tangent - the second part of the "female electronic pioneers" thing went up, and at number 1 is Wendy Carlos, who is identified as female throughout.)
posted by running order squabble fest at 6:42 PM on March 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


OMG, that's terrible.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:42 PM on March 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


misha, if you want, I can repeat our email chain here in the thread? People can check the original thread if they want.

We talked to the user who hassled you and told them to knock it off and asked you to forward the email from them so that we could take further steps and then didn't hear back from you.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:43 PM on March 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


And I do feel like some loud and aggressive members go to the mods and make a fuss to get their way, which doesn't seem right.

Everybody has access to us, but I can pretty much guarantee you that being loud and aggressive on the site doesn't endear someone to us; and, believe me, bringing that kind of disposition to us via the contact form isn't going to get them expedited service. I'm not sure what to say about a feeling to the contrary other than that it's not an accurate model of how we actually work. People who are more reliably on the loud-and-aggressive side on the site are if anything reliably on the "people we have talked to and will continue to talk to about their behavior" side of the table.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:49 PM on March 18, 2014


Huh, Miko disabled her account?
posted by lalex at 6:52 PM on March 18, 2014


What??!
posted by rtha at 6:54 PM on March 18, 2014


Shes doing school stuff. This was a few weeks ago. She'll be back.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:56 PM on March 18, 2014 [3 favorites]


i'm almost tempted to make an anti-pony request that we do away with the big red button - there's too much drama over it sometimes and people could just logout quietly and ignore the place if they want - or just not post for awhile, which i've done
posted by pyramid termite at 7:01 PM on March 18, 2014 [7 favorites]


I think motherfuckers get addicted is the problem, they need that button to help cut them off. I personally have no use for it, it only cuts off options, but I think some people need that.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 7:03 PM on March 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


I just used the Contact Form. It worked for me. I highly recommend it.

And I remember that thread! I think it was the first (and possibly only) time I ever saw comments from Miko that I cocked my head at, because they didn't seem reasonable or thoughtful the way her contributions otherwise read. They didn't feel like her.
posted by gadge emeritus at 7:03 PM on March 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


I actually wonder if it isn't necessarily whether Metafilter as a whole has a more "Portlandia liberal" view, or whether a certain handful of Metafilterites have that view and are just really, really vocal about it to the point that with some conversations the air is getting sucked out of the room.

I’d say so. I don’t have an issue with the "liberal" part, there isn't much room to the left of me, it’s the bullying I find obnoxious.

I also rarely pay attention to specific user names, and couldn’t remember them if I did. When bad behavior is allowed to stand I assume the site in general is condoning it.
posted by bongo_x at 7:29 PM on March 18, 2014 [5 favorites]


misha, I'm really glad you brought that incident out into the open. I would characterize what went on in that thread, in conjunction with the behind-the-scenes sleuthing on the part of the other party, as a personal attack. Gross.
posted by nacho fries at 7:31 PM on March 18, 2014 [10 favorites]


It was definitely an odd exchange, and arguably out of character for Miko, but since her account is currently disabled, maybe people can hold off on rehashing it or unpackaging it in any great depth?

Maybe that isn't fair to misha, but it seems like going into it too much might also be unfair to Miko at this particular moment. I think misha brought it up as an example of how interacting with the mods might be [satisfying/dissatisfying], so hopefully its inclusion here will be evaluated in that context and this thread won't turn into an in-depth critique of the Bettie Page thread and who said what there.
posted by mudpuppie at 7:38 PM on March 18, 2014 [3 favorites]


Okay, so, I don't want to turn the subject away from what misha outlined, because that sounds like a mess and is worth discussion, but.

Way upthread somewhere dios was talking about what to him sounded like arcane terminology that only the clued-in would know, and was basically shouted down. I think that sucked. These are, to most people, pretty obscure terms. I guarantee that I could walk down the street and ask random strangers to define "MRA," "PUA," "cisgendered," and plenty of other terms appearing in this thread, and those people would have not clue one as to what I was talking about. If this claim strikes you as outlandish, I posit that maybe there's more to the notion of MeFi as echo chamber than you may think. If the claim that a person may not realize, say, that calling Chelsea Manning a man could be construed as offensive strikes you as outlandish, I repeat my earlier suggestion. Do I agree it's offensive? Yeah. Do I really think most people get why it is? Know that it is, even? No.

I feel that it's important that people understand where trans people are at. I don't think it's a bad idea for people to understand that MRAs and PUAs exist, even if just to pick them out of a crowd and know to walk the other way (figuratively or literally, as the case might be). I would even say I wish that all of the above were general knowledge.

However, I don't work from the presumption that it is general knowledge, or -- more to the point -- that the litmus of being a good faith participant in a conversation about subjects like this is that you start out knowing these things.

I think that's really important. Because if you believe that is the litmus, then you're in effect saying that only people who are coming at a subject with the fairly specialized knowledge of that subject that you have can speak to it. That's how you close a door and create an echo chamber. If that's what you want, cool. But don't kid yourself that it's not what you're doing. It's what you're doing. You lose the perspective of people who aren't close to these issues, and they lose the opportunity to learn about them.

I dunno. Maybe we need like difficulty levels attached to the tops of discussions. "Issues discussed: Feminism, class, gender. Newbie - moderate awareness." "Issues discussed: Declawing (all levels), circumcision (basic), disappointing TV drama finales (advanced)." Because I can understand wanting to talk to people who are on the same page as you are on a given subject, but I don't think that being on that page should be the deciding factor of whether you can be there.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:45 PM on March 18, 2014 [11 favorites]


I came back to find that restless_nomad had, in response to my note, decided to leave all the other user's comments up. She had deleted only my last comment.

If misha doesn't mind, what was her deleted comment in that thread?
posted by lalex at 7:48 PM on March 18, 2014


Way upthread somewhere dios was talking about what to him sounded like arcane terminology that only the clued-in would know, and was basically shouted down. I think that sucked. These are, to most people, pretty obscure terms. I guarantee that I could walk down the street and ask random strangers to define "MRA," "PUA," "cisgendered," and plenty of other terms appearing in this thread, and those people would have not clue one as to what I was talking about."

and

I feel that it's important that people understand where trans people are at.

I don't disagree with you (and I'm not babysitting this thread -- just happened to see this comment pop up), but I also want to say that a vast majority of my knowledge about "MRA" and "PUA" and "MGOTW" (which is something I saw today for the first time), AND all of my knowledge about where trans people are at, comes originally from discussion here.

It's not like knowledge of those things is a barrier to membership or discussion. It's a PERK. It's a gift. I'm grateful for it. It baffles me that other people see knowledge of/acknowledgement of those things as a burden.
posted by mudpuppie at 7:52 PM on March 18, 2014 [21 favorites]


We talked to the user who hassled you and told them to knock it off and asked you to forward the email from them so that we could take further steps and then didn't hear back from you.

Yeah, but publicly it was "you two" at fault. I see this as a pattern; where someone is having their words distorted and they defend themselves, and either they get partial blame in mod admonishments, or they're accused of taking an "all comers" stance.
posted by spaltavian at 7:55 PM on March 18, 2014 [7 favorites]


Well.. if your aim is to calm something down, better to have two people feeling roughly equally hard done by (because they both think they are in the right, and you've told them both to knock it off), than one person ready to do a victory lap and one person furious, I imagine.
posted by running order squabble fest at 7:59 PM on March 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


It's not like knowledge of those things is a barrier to membership or discussion. It's a PERK. It's a gift. I'm grateful for it. It baffles me that other people see knowledge of/acknowledgement of those things as a burden.

I don't think (and I could be mischaracterizing his post, but I don't think so) that dios was saying that the knowledge was a burden; the problem was that there was a presumption that one had to approach a subject with the knowledge already in hand. That if you didn't, there was a presumption that you were a bad faith participant in the conversation. I really don't think that's fair, but I do acknowledge that:

(a) Such a person could be a bad faith participant in the conversation, sure, and that

(b) Such a person could be a buzzkill in a room full of people who already know the basics of a subject and would like to move things further along.

Other than generally prescribing that participants who aren't well-versed in a subject but are interested in it Lurk More, I'm not sure what to say about it. I would, to be honest, advise them to Lurk More. I just don't think hostility toward them is the best policy.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:04 PM on March 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


Well.. if your aim is to calm something down, better to have two people feeling roughly equally hard done by (because they both think they are in the right, and you've told them both to knock it off), than one person ready to do a victory lap and one person furious, I imagine.

If there is a person who repeatedly starts really vicious fights with a wide variety of dozens of users, who are good-natured and completely bewildered by the behavior, and that person repeatedly sees the person that they are attacking being mutually blamed for the fight, then that person begins to feel very justified in their behavior and very comfortable with continuing to act that way.
posted by cairdeas at 8:05 PM on March 18, 2014 [4 favorites]


I guarantee that I could walk down the street and ask random strangers to define "MRA," "PUA," "cisgendered," and plenty of other terms appearing in this thread, and those people would have not clue one as to what I was talking about.

I get that, but I didn't know what MGTOW was five minutes ago, but since I've seen it pop up several times now, I just took a minute to look.

I mean, every time someone pops into one of these threads and asks what a PUA is, do we have to start all over from the beginning for the nth time, or is ok to suggest googling it?

On the other hand, a simple suggestion would do, we don't need 30 people trying to outdo each other to say it more aggressively than the others. Which I do feel sometimes happens here. On the bright side, I do often see in-thread calls from participants to cool it on the piling-on, and usually that works.

I guess the pile-on effect is what's most annoying to me.* You can see it in AskMe often for sure. Once the question is answered, you can almost see a break where unique suggestions stop coming, and it turns into the same couple over and over, only successively more strongly worded AND CAPITALIZED!

I'm not sure the mods can do much about that though. Answering the question isn't against the policy, even if someone already said the same thing. Community self-and-peer-moderating does work, but when it doesn't, it fails in a really ugly way.
posted by ctmf at 8:10 PM on March 18, 2014 [4 favorites]


Cairdeas, you realize that you've cast Miko as the one who "repeatedly starts really vicious fights" in that scenario, right? Which seems very inaccurate.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:10 PM on March 18, 2014 [14 favorites]


Way upthread somewhere dios was talking about what to him sounded like arcane terminology that only the clued-in would know, and was basically shouted down. I think that sucked. These are, to most people, pretty obscure terms. I guarantee that I could walk down the street and ask random strangers to define "MRA," "PUA," "cisgendered," and plenty of other terms appearing in this thread, and those people would have not clue one as to what I was talking about. If this claim strikes you as outlandish, I posit that maybe there's more to the notion of MeFi as echo chamber than you may think.

But I had to google "heckler's veto", which dios used in that same comment, and I bet you that most random strangers couldn't define it, either. If you don't know much about a topic, maybe you should just enjoy the post and the thread, and not expect to be a big participant in the conversation?
posted by gingerest at 8:11 PM on March 18, 2014 [3 favorites]


I see this as a pattern; where someone is having their words distorted and they defend themselves, and either they get partial blame in mod admonishments, or they're accused of taking an "all comers" stance.

Uh, it's kind of a pattern in every fight I've ever been in, from nursery school to that stinky bar down below Canal St. Both people get told to knock it off.

You just have a hard on for the mods so you act like it's totally out of line for them to admonish both sides when they break up a fight. Pretty tired stuff, put it away now.

Maybe you've never been in trouble for fighting, or seen anyone get in trouble for fighting. It's such an unlikely explanation, though. You're almost certainly full of shit.

If there is a person who repeatedly starts really vicious fights with a wide variety of dozens of users, who are good-natured and completely bewildered by the behavior, and that person repeatedly sees the person that they are attacking being mutually blamed for the fight, then that person begins to feel very justified in their behavior and very comfortable with continuing to act that way.

Wait, we're talking about Miko here? You live in a dream world.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 8:11 PM on March 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


Empress, I wasn't talking about Miko, I was speaking generally about something I have observed repeatedly.
posted by cairdeas at 8:11 PM on March 18, 2014 [4 favorites]


Wait, we're talking about Miko here?

No.
posted by cairdeas at 8:12 PM on March 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


You'll have to make that clearer next time.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 8:13 PM on March 18, 2014


Sorry, I was in another thread and just got a Mefimail so I came back over.

I didn't name Miko here because I wasn't trying to bad-mouth anyone. Just agreeing with cairdeas that I too feel pretty helpless sometimes.

Oh and jessamyn, I didn't forward the email to the mods because by the time I read what you'd written in response, I had already deleted her message to me.

FWIW, I still think she was just probably having a really stressful time. Felt out of character to me as well.
posted by misha at 8:13 PM on March 18, 2014


Empress, I wasn't talking about Miko, I was speaking generally about something I have observed repeatedly.

Okay, but as it was coming right on the heels of a story about a specific incident, perhaps it'd have been prudent to let us know "that reminds me of something else...."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:16 PM on March 18, 2014


You just have a hard on for the mods

What the fuck are you talking about? Or are cleverly showing how one person can say something stupid and the other person will be equally blamed when defending themselves?

Maybe you've never been in trouble for fighting, or seen anyone get in trouble for fighting.

Or maybe a "fight" is a piss-poor analogy to one person distorting another's position and the other person repeatedly trying to make themselves clear, and you are being stupidly aggressive.
posted by spaltavian at 8:16 PM on March 18, 2014 [5 favorites]


I can understand how it might not have been clear. When I was replying to running order squabble fest, who said:

Well.. if your aim is to calm something down, better to have two people feeling roughly equally hard done by (because they both think they are in the right, and you've told them both to knock it off), than one person ready to do a victory lap and one person furious, I imagine.

I took his comment as talking about how to calm something down, in general. I wasn't taking it as how to calm down a specific skirmish between Misha and Miko in that specific thread.

So, I was responding to the idea of how effective it would be to calm something down, in general, by using that method. Not to the idea of calming down one specific example.
posted by cairdeas at 8:20 PM on March 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


If you're participating in a thread and you learn how and why people are calling Chelsea Manning a trans woman or hear the terms "cis" or "transmisogyny" maybe just take that opportunity to learn the goddamned words instead of then coming here to complain about epistemic closure or Tumblr or "social justice warriors" or "political correctness" or whatever the fuck.

No trans person using this site doesn't know that your random strangers don't know what "cis" means. The claim that we might not know this, and that therefore this site is an echo chamber (oh no, an echo chamber of people using language they've learned) is ignorant and/or privileged and/or just goddamned asinine.

We had a MeTa not long ago complaining about someone pointing out a finer point of terminology as obsequiously as possible and it was a huge train wreck because that was apparently a bridge too far. So no, we know that people don't know these words. It is communicated to us constantly both on and off this site.

What's truly (not) puzzling is that, somehow, nobody complains in MeTa about being forced to learn what a quark is.
posted by Corinth at 8:23 PM on March 18, 2014 [22 favorites]


If you're participating in a thread and you learn how and why people are calling Chelsea Manning a trans woman or hear the terms "cis" or "transmisogyny" maybe just take that opportunity to learn the goddamned words instead of then coming here to complain about epistemic closure or Tumblr or "social justice warriors" or "political correctness" or whatever the fuck.

Or, I mean, also, you can be super hostile to people for no reason, that's also a fun thing.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:29 PM on March 18, 2014 [4 favorites]


Or maybe a "fight" is a piss-poor analogy to one person distorting another's position and the other person repeatedly trying to make themselves clear, and you are being stupidly aggressive.

Maybe "one person distorting another's position and the other person repeatedly trying to make themselves clear" is a piss-poor way to describe a fight. I guess we see it different ways.

I certainly didn't make things easier by taking such a rude tone. I'm sorry. I don't know why I was so testy and combative. I will do my best to improve this.

I do, however, think you're overreaching in your criticism of the mods here. But that's probably an artifact of our seeing things in different ways.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 8:33 PM on March 18, 2014


I think it's a stretch to say that Corinth is being "hostile" for "no reason" because it's "fun."

I really feel for the trans people here sometimes. Their experience is constantly belittled. I don't mean by you, kittens for breakfast. I just get how frustrating it must be to hear that your experience and your frustrations aren't really your experience or your frustrations, and that it's okay for people to say that to you that because they're confident that what they're reading between your lines is more true that what you're actually saying. It has to be exhausting, and it is inevitably going to lead to some boiling over.
posted by mudpuppie at 8:34 PM on March 18, 2014 [28 favorites]


Or, I mean, also, you can be super hostile to people for no reason, that's also a fun thing.
Uh, I think maybe it's not "for no reason" - I don't want to presume, but I think Corinth is pretty tired, as a trans woman, of people claiming ignorance and demanding to be educated as the price of not being misgendered and belittled.
posted by gingerest at 8:35 PM on March 18, 2014 [21 favorites]


We were, as far as I know, the only group specifically called out as a cabal in this thread. I ignored it (so has ArmyOfKittens) because that's stupid and pointless, but if people are going to be directly misleading about how trans threads go bad I'm going to stop pretending all the "SJW" or "Portlandia liberal" abstractions aren't about us.
posted by Corinth at 8:40 PM on March 18, 2014 [22 favorites]


I was basically told that my last comment was off-topic and fighty because I was responding to the other commenter. Well, but the other commenter had already quoted me in their comment and criticized not just my POV but made disparaging remarks about me personally, Why was I the one in the wrong?

misha I don't attempt to downplay your relating of this events or anything or delegitimize your emotional reaction to it or whatever but in my opinion thinking of mods or mod actions as Authoritarian or Schoolmasterish causes a lot of hurt feelings where hurt feelings are not necessary. Having a comment deleted is not a punishment or an indication that one is in the wrong or that other parties are better in any fashion-- comment deletion is a tool for keeping threads from going off the rails and maintaining community stability. The mods are not moral or even ethical arbiters, except as it comes to the ethics of this site's standards of conversation; their telling you & another user to knock something off is not an act of equivocation or sharing of blame or anything else. It's exactly what it is, and does not mean that you are in trouble or bad or wrong.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:41 PM on March 18, 2014 [12 favorites]


I get that, but I didn't know what MGTOW was five minutes ago, but since I've seen it pop up several times now, I just took a minute to look.

Snap! I think the thing that people were getting cross about with dios was not that he didn't know what these terms meant, but that he was insistent that it was nonsensical to imagine that he might, or apparently that there was any way for him to find out.

I'd agree that search engines are not the be all and end all - they lack context and are often incomplete in the picture they give - but they do exist, and dios was making it clear that he was far more invested in not knowing what these things were than in finding out, which is not a huge boost for constructive engagement. That's not really comparable to a situation where you're walking down the street stopping people and asking them if they know what "transmisogyny" is.

cairdeas I took his comment as talking about how to calm something down, in general. I wasn't taking it as how to calm down a specific skirmish between Misha and Miko in that specific thread.

Yes, exactly; I was talking about general psych stuff when dealing with group dynamics. Which obviously doesn't always work, or work forever, but I figure that having the mods select a winner and a loser would probably cause more problems. But I think you're assuming that people think "I am in the wrong" and feel like they've won when both are told to cut it out. I think both parties are likely to feel they are in the right, and will be equally aggrieved. Again, general psych, not referencing anything specific.

And, of course, if a monster is spawned, that situation can be escalated - individual address, time outs, ultimately banning.

(Even when I'm being a bit of a nightmare, I still feel indignant when told to cut it out, until I cool down and realise I was making the mods' job much harder.)
posted by running order squabble fest at 8:42 PM on March 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


We were, as far as I know, the only group specifically called out as a cabal in this thread. I ignored it (so has ArmyOfKittens) because that's stupid and pointless, but if people are going to be directly misleading about how trans threads go bad I'm going to stop pretending all the "SJW" or "Portlandia liberal" abstractions aren't about us.

Um. I don't think the Portlandia liberal abstractions are about trans people, per se. I cannot speak to the SJW thing because, to be honest, I had to google that. I think trans people may be a subset of the Portlandia liberal abstraction, but I think that abstraction is basically just what a decade ago might have been "NPR listener."

I apologize if there is some deeper issue here (in terms of site history) than I realize. I missed the cabal comment the first time around and really don't know what to make of it. Like I said much, much earlier, I don't really participate in the site as much as I once did, and most of my interactions with it for the last few years have been limited to pretty fluffy pop culture-y stuff. My bad if I wandered into some kind of minefield unawares over here.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:48 PM on March 18, 2014 [3 favorites]


I'm going to stop pretending all the "SJW" or "Portlandia liberal" abstractions aren't about us
Hey, now, some of those abstractions are definitely about us language-policin' cis feminists. (Sidenote: I lived in Portland for 12 years - the bookshop that Armisen is transphobically mocking is unmistakably In Other Words, which used to be on Hawthorne and got gentrified out to Alberta St.)
posted by gingerest at 8:49 PM on March 18, 2014 [3 favorites]


What the fuck are you talking about?

Actually, on rereading the whole exchange, I wish I hadn't been such a dick.

I think I tired myself out by reading through this entire thread and got to the point where I had no patience left. I shouldn't have commented about anything. I guess spaltavian and cairdeas happened to both be in the line of fire, and I apologize to both of you for being such a motherfucker.

I have done this kind of thing before and fallen short of the kind of contributor I want to be. I will try to make up for this and control myself in the future. In the meantime, I'm sorry I attacked you guys, and I wish I hadn't poisoned the air.

You're right, spaltavian. I was stupid and aggressive.

It was intentional, and I regret it.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 8:52 PM on March 18, 2014 [16 favorites]


Way upthread somewhere dios was talking about what to him sounded like arcane terminology that only the clued-in would know, and was basically shouted down. I think that sucked. These are, to most people, pretty obscure terms. I guarantee that I could walk down the street and ask random strangers to define "MRA," "PUA," "cisgendered," and plenty of other terms appearing in this thread, and those people would have not clue one as to what I was talking about. If this claim strikes you as outlandish, I posit that maybe there's more to the notion of MeFi as echo chamber than you may think.

Then I would posit in return that your life experiences and the people you have encountered in them have been different than mine. I'm not going to guarantee anybody anything about what most people do or don't know, though, because that's not remotely a possible thing to attempt.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 9:01 PM on March 18, 2014 [4 favorites]


Well, you got me there.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 9:01 PM on March 18, 2014


(On a happy tangent - the second part of the "female electronic pioneers" thing went up, and at number 1 is Wendy Carlos, who is identified as female throughout.)

Why is that a happy tangent? There was nothing wrong with the first part. You are ruining this site with your trolling, seriously.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:18 PM on March 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


what does that even mean
posted by shakespeherian at 9:19 PM on March 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


It's nice that she got recognized! C'mon, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.
posted by gingerest at 9:24 PM on March 18, 2014 [5 favorites]


BP, I'm not seeing what you are seeing in that comment. But. The original women in electronic music thread is still open, and the related Meta is still open too. If there's something anyone needs to talk about re: those things, maybe take it over there?
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 9:26 PM on March 18, 2014


Hey, now, some of those abstractions are definitely about us language-policin' cis feminists.

Yeah, which is really weird to me because for all that there's definitely expressed resentment of mean old harridans trolling for cabal favorites by bringing nasty gender politics where they have no business being, there's also some use of feminist language to reinforce the right of the metafilter mainstream to silence women's views with a gender politics filter as too mean to/otherwise wrongheaded about other women.

Sometimes it's less "Portlandia liberal" than "love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal".
posted by immlass at 9:36 PM on March 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


The original women in electronic music thread is still open, and the related Meta is still open too. If there's something anyone needs to talk about re: those things, maybe take it over there?


Popping over, it looks like Championupnorth itself already posted an update. Cool.

(Hilariously, the first comment on that part 2 post is a complaint that Maryanne Ambacher is still not mentioned - part 3, anyone?)
posted by running order squabble fest at 9:48 PM on March 18, 2014


I'm going to stop pretending all the "SJW" or "Portlandia liberal" abstractions aren't about us

As the first person who used that formulation, there was, in fact, one person in my comment who I described as having "Portlandia liberal" opinions.

That person was myself.

(For anyone who is in any doubt about me being a Portlandia cliche, just take a look at my Ask history.)

I also very clearly wasn't saying "People who hold these specific views are the problem." I was saying that the difference in treatment towards comments expressing disfavored opinions is the problem.

This entire conversation began in objection to the deletion of a comment which was critical of feminism and women overall. And that was the comment I was very clearly talking about when I made my initial post.

So I would really appreciate it if you didn't freely insert your words into other people's mouths in order to justify starting a fight. That is exactly the sort of behavior that really sucks.

Also, exactly ZERO people called anyone a SJW or anything like it. Please don't attack people for things that nobody actually did at all.
posted by cairdeas at 9:55 PM on March 18, 2014 [9 favorites]


Myself and R. Schlock both gave examples of feminist threads concerning women in the workplace. Another user gave an example of the NSA/Snowden threads. Another user gave an example of a Jennifer Lawrence thread. Misha gave an example of a Betty fucking Page thread. It's deeply disrespectful to then go, "I'm just gonna assume this really is all about me."
posted by cairdeas at 10:04 PM on March 18, 2014 [6 favorites]


On the other hand, AFAIK, the only person to non-ironically refer to a cabal in this thread was explicitly talking about a group of trans MeFites.
posted by en forme de poire at 10:11 PM on March 18, 2014 [4 favorites]


Then why not fight with the person who said trans people are a cabal, not put words in the mouths of the people who are talking about something completely different and never even mentioned trans people at all.
posted by cairdeas at 10:13 PM on March 18, 2014 [4 favorites]


I guess spaltavian and cairdeas happened to both be in the line of fire, and I apologize to both of you for being such a motherfucker.

If only all "motherfucker" comments were as benign as yours. It was no big deal at all. No worries.
posted by cairdeas at 10:21 PM on March 18, 2014


cairdeas: "Also, exactly ZERO people called anyone a SJW or anything like it. Please don't attack people for things that nobody actually did at all."

Not true.

Fists O'Fury: "The orthodoxy on threads having to do with soc/pol topics is pretty far down the "SJW" road, IMO. I've seen SJW-y things on MeFi that made my jaw literally (in the literal sense of 'literally') drop."
posted by Proofs and Refutations at 10:23 PM on March 18, 2014 [3 favorites]


Re: takes on all comers.
I understand that there is a meaningful distinction between "I hold this opinion and will respond relentlessly" and strongly held opinions but I think that discouraging, "takes on all comers" encourages orthodoxy to the extent that people holding even slightly differing opinions are reluctant to participate in discussions.

I like and respect all the mods here. They are, I think, quite honest which has to be difficult in light of the scrutiny they endure. I would be much less patient and ban the lot of you - perhaps myself too. I worry though that, to quote a Bill Cosby routine -"Parents are not interested in justice — they want QUIET!" might be where we are trendiing.
posted by vapidave at 10:24 PM on March 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


(Hilariously, the first comment on that part 2 post is a complaint that Maryanne Ambacher is still not mentioned - part 3, anyone?)

Please take your concerns to the other threads.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:29 PM on March 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


Proofs and Refutations:

The phrase "Social Justice Warrior" appeared in only two posts in the nearly 800 post thread:

-First by running order squabble fest, who was saying that other phrases were being used as a "fig leaf" for that.

-The ONLY other time it was used in the thread was by Corinth, who was saying people are coming in here and calling others that. (Corinth's words were also quoted by kittens for breakfast.)

"SJW" was FIRST brought up by, again, Corinth, halfway down the thread, again talking about "all the asinine noise" about "Tumbler and SJW." SJW had not made a single appearance in the thread at that point.

It was quoted once, then used AGAIN by Corinth.

Then, yes, once by Fists O'Fury

Then EVERY time it comes up after that is people directly quoting Corinth's words.

There is not a gang of people calling people SJW's. The ONLY person using that phrase is basically Corinth! Who then gets mad at how much it is used.
posted by cairdeas at 10:33 PM on March 18, 2014 [9 favorites]


This is CLASSIC making things up and putting words in other's mouths, and then getting mad and starting fights over them. I almost feel like I'm being trolled, that people are starting to exhibit really bad behaviors deliberately to start a fight. For that reason, I'm unfollowing the thread now. I don't want to be drawn into it.
posted by cairdeas at 10:35 PM on March 18, 2014 [7 favorites]


I understand that there is a meaningful distinction between "I hold this opinion and will respond relentlessly" and strongly held opinions but I think that discouraging, "takes on all comers" encourages orthodoxy to the extent that people holding even slightly differing opinions are reluctant to participate in discussions.

I'd posit that "taking on all comers" is more encoded in the language than the content or opinion being expressed. A dissenting voice in the form of "in my experience, [foo] is often [baz] because [blerf]" is far more likely to go over well than "I know you all think [foo] is [zarf], but..." or, "I know I'll get shouted down for bringing up [baz], but..." etc. That's exactly what happened with the original comment under discussion here. The content was fine but the framing said "come at me!"
posted by annekate at 10:38 PM on March 18, 2014 [5 favorites]


Well, like Corinth I'm not going to engage with someone who thinks there is a literal trans cabal on MeFi, so that's a non-starter.

But I do think it's important to note that the same set of arguments being made in this thread (again, not just by you, cairdeas) about epistemic closure and MeFi's SJW-Tumblr-lefty bias have come up several times previously on the Grey in support of users being allowed to misgender people, to use language that other users consider serious slurs, or to argue that sexual minorities are confused about fundamental aspects of their identity. So whether or not this was your intent, this is the context in which I am interpreting these arguments. If this isn't what you're talking about, great, but because of this context and history, I think this is a situation in which being more concrete would be helpful.
posted by en forme de poire at 10:47 PM on March 18, 2014 [16 favorites]


(And on non-preview, no pressure on cairdeas to come back and respond to that; it was a general point anyway.)
posted by en forme de poire at 10:52 PM on March 18, 2014


there's definitely expressed resentment of mean old harridans trolling for cabal favorites by bringing nasty gender politics where they have no business being,

See, I don't think this hyperbolic stuff is at all helpful to the discussion. Has anyone on this site ever called you a harridan? Or asserted you have no business bringing up gender politics here?

Sometimes oeople do say stupid stuff, of course. But I feel like most of the resentment is people feeling like they aren't being heard and talking over each other, not anyone refusing to acknowledge sexism exists or that women don't have a right to speak up about it.

About the Portlandia Liberal thing, honestly, threads on transgender issues never even crossed my mind.

IF there is a trans cabal, all I can say is it's the most patient cabal we've got going on the site right now. I know some threads have been rough for folks like ArmyofKittens and Corinth (who have really done a great job of eloquently expressing their frustration and provided insightful and illuminating perspectives I personally have appreciated), but I hope they feel the effort has been worth it and things are getting better.
posted by misha at 11:04 PM on March 18, 2014 [11 favorites]


IF there is a trans cabal, all I can say is it's the most patient cabal we've got going on the site right now. I know some threads have been rough for folks like ArmyofKittens and Corinth (who have really done a great job of eloquently expressing their frustration and provided insightful and illuminating perspectives I personally have appreciated), but I hope they feel the effort has been worth it and things are getting better.

Totally agreed.
posted by en forme de poire at 11:08 PM on March 18, 2014


If anyone thinks I SERIOUSLY do feel there is a trans* cabal after that comment, for the record, I DO NOT.
posted by misha at 11:09 PM on March 18, 2014


Also, I want to add that if you're feeling hesitant to participate in a discussion because your (lived, researched, or otherwise informed) opinion is different from the crowd, then I would consider that a loss and hope that we as a community could be the kind of place where you felt you could bring your perspective into the conversation.

However, I think that can feel very similar to the case where you're hesitant to comment because you don't understand what people are talking about, why they are upset, the lingo or concepts under discussion, etc. This is a case in which it would be better to listen, go do some outside research, or ask good faith questions rather than just wade in with whatever reaction you are having.

There are certain types of threads I don't comment in, not because I feel repressed in some way but because I don't think my level of understanding is high enough yet to add something substantial to the discourse (or avoid looking ignorant in the worst case). I think this is a feature, not a bug.
posted by annekate at 11:18 PM on March 18, 2014 [10 favorites]


rather than rise to the bait I responded once,

That - responding - IS rising to the bait...

However, I don't work from the presumption that it is general knowledge, or -- more to the point -- that the litmus of being a good faith participant in a conversation about subjects like this is that you start out knowing these things.

It's not - you can say terrible things in good faith. Typically, someone will point out why the thing that has been said is terrible, and that's either that, or the person doubles down on their ignorance or gets defensive, and we have a massive shitstorm. Besides, if you read the threads in question, it's not hard to pick up the terminology or how pronouns are used, for example.
posted by Dysk at 11:42 PM on March 18, 2014 [3 favorites]


Or asserted you have no business bringing up gender politics here?

Actually, yes, since you asked.

Today I've been discussing the "my husband's stupid record collection" thread with the mods on the contact form. It would be easy to go through the thread point by point showing where folks (not all of whose gender is apparent) were telling folks (not all women) who were in the thread discussing gender politics as they related to the link to chill, that nobody was being hurt by it, or that they were trolling for favorites (implication of bad faith), or that the comments not liking what turns out to be a mediocre personal blog were shitty, and specifically that despite people saying in the thread that the gender hinkiness had to do with the content and they weren't trying to dump on the writer, that those people were being shitty and crapping on the writer and crypto dog-whistling. I didn't agree with everything negative said about the blog in the thread, but there was a lot of "get out of here with your gender analysis ruining things" in the pushback. It was irritatingly tiresome and the behavior had more than a whiff of sexism to it.

That thread was today's example of the microaggressions I was referring to as adding up to toxicity upthread. I'm done with that thread and have pulled it from Recent Activity, because life is too short to drink bad beer. I feel like I'm doing the right thing by leaving both for community peace and for my personal blood pressure, but I don't kid myself either: a bunch of crappy comments shut down a discussion about gender issues as they related to the link in a post on the blue by making it unpleasant for people to continue to discuss it.

(And I am going to bed, so there will be no further responses from me tonight. If this mention requires a callout in-thread, I would appreciate it if a kind soul in a timezone where it's not pushing 2 AM would make it.)
posted by immlass at 11:50 PM on March 18, 2014 [15 favorites]


Understanding almost anything that was going on here became much, much easier when I finally worked out that ArmyofKittens and Kitten for Breakfast were different users. Bit embarrassing.
posted by ominous_paws at 4:31 AM on March 19, 2014 [18 favorites]


I don't think (and I could be mischaracterizing his post, but I don't think so) that dios was saying that the knowledge was a burden;

The only thing dios was doing was successfully trolling metafilter, again and he did it by first linking to a 2005 meta thread where he was called out for the exact same behaviour.

Fool me once, shame on me, fool me twice, you can't get fooled again.
posted by MartinWisse at 6:45 AM on March 19, 2014 [10 favorites]


Threads about gender or non-hetronormative sexuality terrify me nowadays because I think I might accidentally say something that will legitimately offend someone because I'm ignorant of their background or experience.

The litmus test of being a good participant in these sorts of threads is not whether or not you accidently say something offensive, but how you respond when called on it. Everybody makes mistakes, everybody hates being called out about them and everybody has to swallow their first, instinctive defensive reactions; that's okay, keep that in mind and you'll do fine.
posted by MartinWisse at 7:05 AM on March 19, 2014 [23 favorites]


misha: "...not anyone refusing to acknowledge sexism exists or that women don't have a right to speak up about it."

Quite a few people here have tried to downplay sexism on MeFi over the years, by asserting that women who have been harassed in various situations were over-reacting or not responding appropriately -- as they defined it. It happened throughout the Rebecca Watson and Elyse Anders threads. In particular look for the "but men are victims of violence too!" derail in that last one. In the Schroedinger's Rapist thread someone insisted a women they hadn't seen something they said they had. (A guy wearing a "rape joke" shirt in public.)

People have asserted in various threads that coercive sex isn't rape. That women who dress a particular way are asking to be raped. (Thereby revealing that they don't even understand what rape / non-consensual sex actually is.) That women in various situations invited/asked for/should be cool about sexual harassment, or even that said harassment wasn't actually harassment, but that the woman in question was being hypersensitive in describing it that way.

Oh, and at least one mefite was described as 'man-hating' in metatalk, if I remember correctly. Because she dared to speak up against guys who harass women.

Plenty of people here have tried to downplay sexism.
posted by zarq at 7:23 AM on March 19, 2014 [22 favorites]


That - responding - IS rising to the bait...

As an aside, that's something I've struggled with, and which I think is always difficult because at the time you think you're the sane and reasonable one. But if you're* thinking of this stuff as bait, you're already in a place where you think the other party is either looking for a fight generally (trolling, or some subspecies) or specifically targeting you (bullying or stalking, depending on how often it happens with the same person). You might be right, but if you are right then responding is basically just getting right down into the mud and wrestling that pig. And if you're right, of course, that's exactly what they're hoping for - and not getting it will probably trigger escalating attempts at provocation, which is a problem in itself, but a different kind of problem.

Getting through that rush of blood to the head is one of the toughest things about the Internet, I think, because the route from anger to shared anger is so short - generally, reading an annoying article in a newspaper in the early 90s, from memory, didn't make one feel an _absence_ where your reply ought to be (although I guess it might have for people who wrote a lot of letters to the editor, on reflection), whereas I think often that absence is felt keenly on web content with seamless reply mechanisms - hence the existence of flamebait articles designed to generate "engagement", i.e. hate sharing and hate commenting.

Which brings us back to the original post on this thread, actually. Because whereas "I know this is an unpopular opinion" and similar phrasing is I think often intended as concessive, and probably functioned that way far more when the stimulus-response loop was longer and slower, I think the rapid cycle time and priority on engagement of Internet culture makes it read often as a provocation. I'm thinking as a less ambiguous instance of people posting to forums with moderated comments (like Shakesville or other feminist blogs) saying "I doubt that this will be let through" or "This will probably be deleted". That's a challenge opening - it's saying "if this is filtered/deleted, it will be because you can't take my truth bombs" - a way to "win" whether or not it is published.

So, it's easy, I think, for a phrase intended to mean "I'm aware that this is going to be controversial, but it's a position I sincerely hold, and not intended as a troll" to be read instead as "come at me, pls".


* Meaning her "I, or anyone else" as a general, das Mann usage, not you, misha or you, Dysk, btw. Hope that was clear, but just in case...
posted by running order squabble fest at 7:32 AM on March 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


for reference, the stuff about British people using these words as terms of endearment? Wildly exaggerated to catch Americans out

You might be named after a Half Man, Half Biscuit song, but I'm guessing you've never actually *been* to Birkenhead...
posted by PeterMcDermott at 7:39 AM on March 19, 2014 [5 favorites]


Way upthread somewhere dios was talking about what to him sounded like arcane terminology that only the clued-in would know, and was basically shouted down. I think that sucked.

At the risk of piling on, this seems like a really low bar for shouting down. dios got... what? a half-dozen comments with a very little back-and-forth that was not acrimonious or even particularly heated on either side. (Contrast this with what went on earlier in this thread towards nadai as something closer to actually shouting down). I'm not going to deny that shouting down and piling on occurs, but characterizing disagreement (even by several members in a row) as "shouting down" really limits conversation.
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:41 AM on March 19, 2014 [6 favorites]


running order squabble fest: " As an aside, that's something I've struggled with, and which I think is always difficult because at the time you think you're the sane and reasonable one. But if you're* thinking of this stuff as bait, you're already in a place where you think the other party is either looking for a fight generally (trolling, or some subspecies) or specifically targeting you (bullying or stalking, depending on how often it happens with the same person). You might be right, but if you are right then responding is basically just getting right down into the mud and wrestling that pig. And if you're right, of course, that's exactly what they're hoping for - and not getting it will probably trigger escalating attempts at provocation, which is a problem in itself, but a different kind of problem."

I tend to think there's value in responding to people who might conceivably be trolling, if you're offering a different perspective that other readers might find valuable. Assume good faith. It's better to do so calmly, of course, and then if no progress is being made in the conversation, the 'two or three and out' rule applies.
posted by zarq at 7:48 AM on March 19, 2014 [3 favorites]


zarq: Plenty of people here have tried to downplay sexism. [plus examples].

Discussions about downplaying sexism (for example) in a mixed forum almost always go bad - because those who act like that (no matter whether on the basis of deeply engrained and un-rationalized patterns, or because they actively want to stir up things) are unlikely to back off their positions and respond to reason.

Such gender-equality-unfavorable discursive stances are, on the other hand, a thing that can be researched: sorted in patterns, parsed statistically and group-beloning-ly, analyzed rhetorically, etc., and (ideally, in any case) thus can be worked into explanations of great strength and consistency.

So I somehow think that the best way in which these enormous shitstorm meta threads can be used in favor of gender equality goals (or other ultimate equality and humanity-heavy goals that counteract discrimination and support tolerance) is, for someone, to take a step back; to analyze how a certain discussion went, and what actors were using which devices to convey their standpoints and to argue about others' standpoints; and then take the information thus gained out of Metafilter altogether, and use it in a general discourse that could help to change things (be it by making a certain slice of the general public aware, or structurally, as an informative tool for policy makers, or whatever else).

Short: downplaying sexism isn't anything one can solve here, no matter how well one argues. But one can observe it, and critically analyze it, and thus inform oneself, and others after that, better - that's where the advantage of these discussions happening likely lies.
posted by Namlit at 8:03 AM on March 19, 2014


Oh, yes - I see what you mean, zarq, and that's a very good point. I think I was thinking more of when you are already convinced that good faith does not exist, or at least right at that moment are seeing the other party as definitely not acting in good faith. But I get what you mean. Like, if someone asks "What's an MRA? Or a PUA?" - to pick a nearby example - there's a lot to be said for answering that question as if asked in good faith. Even if it's not, it might be useful for others.

(Even if that answer is "that's answered upthread, here" or "here's a link").

I was thinking of when you have gotten to the point where you're convinced that the other party is asking in bad faith - dropping bait - when IME what I think of as a rational and conclusive response can look a lot angrier in the cold light of day than it did then.

(This may be a problem unique to me, I realise, but I think it was what Dysk was getting at.)

You might be named after a Half Man, Half Biscuit song, but I'm guessing you've never actually *been* to Birkenhead...

Ha! I'd like to think, rather, that I have the sense not to walk into a bar in Birkenhead and greet everyone with a cheery "Hey, [expletive]s! Got any Lagunitas? Hey, why aren't you [expletives] tipping the bar staff?"

(I remember Tanya Donnelly of the Throwing Muses being convinced by a club manager that she would get a big cheer if she called her audience in London a bunch of wankers, because "wanker" was a term of endearment in Britain. Which, yes, but context.)
posted by running order squabble fest at 8:04 AM on March 19, 2014


Because whereas "I know this is an unpopular opinion" and similar phrasing is I think often intended as concessive, and probably functioned that way far more when the stimulus-response loop was longer and slower, I think the rapid cycle time and priority on engagement of Internet culture makes it read often as a provocation.

To paraphrase Marianne Moore, there is something to be said for plain English which cats and dogs can read...
posted by y2karl at 8:05 AM on March 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


I don't even want to mention "paraphrase," but what's a "cat"?
posted by Namlit at 8:10 AM on March 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


wow such epic
posted by Namlit at 8:10 AM on March 19, 2014


There are bullies and trolls all over the spectrum, it seems. Maybe it is also time to consider examples of people who are perhaps all too familiar with terminology, who are using that as a cudgel to get away with bullying, to accuse others of bad faith behavior, to disrupt unrelated threads and discussions, and to generally be manipulative in a way not unlike the trolling that MartinWisse noted, but appearing to come from the other side of the social issue divide as a way to sneakily get around community norms. It is a problem that seems to be getting worse, down to a handful of users who seem to know how to manipulate the language to those ends.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:19 AM on March 19, 2014 [5 favorites]


Care to offer any examples?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 8:20 AM on March 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


Blazecock Pileon: " It is a problem that seems to be getting worse, down to a handful of users who seem to know how to manipulate the language to those ends."

Cite, for Jeebus' sake.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:21 AM on March 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


I've had recent exchanges with mods and users where I responded, due to personal boundaries, to a person who was conceivably trolling me, then called the mods for help and was I think reasonably told I was making the issue harder for the mod to deal with (by responding out of defense of personal boundaries and making it harder to explain their intervention to the other party).

The situations like those are tense and difficult.

When I was younger, I used to read the need for correction, feedback or criticism as a problem in and of itself and I often took that need as personally as it is possible to take it, causing a little crazy echo chamber in my own head about how the behaviors I did were just and there was no need to call me out like that. Little did I know that I was entangled too and causing the problem at least as much (if not more) than helping it.

It seems like some of the conversation that's going on now is characterizing mod intervention and feedback itself as bad (as in "getting in trouble"). I think I understand the mod team's stance to be more about a continual and hopefully beneficial interaction with individuals of the user community. And that maps well with my current understanding of my own participation with the site.

No one expects me or any user to be entirely perfect, a model user, all of the time. We bring to the site what we bring, sometimes on bad days and sometimes on good days and we bring our depth of experience, diversity, opinion, feelings, whatever it is we are capable of or willing to bring. And sometimes the mod team reaches out and gives us feedback, sometimes reactive, sometimes proactive. But the feedback itself, though it can be harsh sometimes and hard to hear sometimes isn't meant as a personal attack. The mods have a pretty effective set of expectations for how we should behave and they're pretty good at giving feedback about it and pretty consistent, even over the gradual social changes the site has experienced over time. But I don't think the mods really see the giving of feedback as punitive and seem to actively avoid trying to call it that. People take or are given breaks and bans are a last resort.

It's desperately hard to take it that way, especially if you've got a good head of steam behind feeling mad or insulted or taken advantage of or played for a fool in a thread, but when a mod intervenes with you and your dance partner, they usually do it with good intent and a good goal of where the thread should go and how you and your dance partner should participate in it. They intend to communicate and transfer knowledge about those expectations. They don't intend to scold you. And if they do scold you, it's because they think you're capable of better. Again, hard to hear, but I think that's what the mods are trying to get across.

This is one of the many reasons that I remain deeply impressed by the mod team here. Despite the challenges they deal with, they are consistent, fair, available, able to narrate their own reasoning and are responsible to the effects of their own decisions. Lesser mods and mod teams on other sites that I've participated in have had tantrums, shut down threads and been otherwise authoritarian and dicatorial when challenged. Here, you can have a balls out disagreement with a mod and still expect to be able to log in the next day.
posted by kalessin at 8:23 AM on March 19, 2014 [12 favorites]


Cite, for Jeebus' sake.

No, but if it does get worse, I do promise to start a Metatalk thread. Because that stuff really is ruining the site for those of us who operate in good faith.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:27 AM on March 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


Also, I want to add that if you're feeling hesitant to participate in a discussion because your (lived, researched, or otherwise informed) opinion is different from the crowd, then I would consider that a loss and hope that we as a community could be the kind of place where you felt you could bring your perspective into the conversation.

I'm not saying that I always succeed, not by a long shot, but what I TRY to do (or at least keep in mind to do) when it looks like my opinion or position is going to seem like it's coming out of left field compared to everybody else's, is to provide at least a little bit of background for WHY I think or feel that way. At least then there's a bigger chance I won't come off as just trolling, or just assuming everybody else is going to understand my conclusion when it's basically a pig in a poke to them.

However, I think that can feel very similar to the case where you're hesitant to comment because you don't understand what people are talking about, why they are upset, the lingo or concepts under discussion, etc. This is a case in which it would be better to listen, go do some outside research, or ask good faith questions rather than just wade in with whatever reaction you are having.

My mother used to say, "I had smart kids on purpose, so they could look things up by themselves and I wouldn't have to answer a bunch of questions all the time." In retrospect, I'm pretty sure that was just a nice way of saying, "Go away, kid, you bother me," but it felt great at the time. MeFites are some of the smartest people I've ever met online; I'm constantly humbled at the depth and breadth of the knowledge and wisdom I see here every day, and I'm honored whenever I chance to make what feels like a worthwhile contribution (which doesn't happen that often). It's hard for me to imagine lack of pre-existing knowledge of a handful of terminology to be a significant stumbling block to participation.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:31 AM on March 19, 2014 [5 favorites]


No, but if it does get worse, I do promise to start a Metatalk thread.

We'll keep an eye out. Hopefully there will be a cure for examplephobia by then.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 8:33 AM on March 19, 2014 [5 favorites]


MisantropicPainforest: "Care to offer any examples?"

How about what happened in this discussion after 8pm last night? There was a decent, calm discussion going on (with the mods too!) and then BOOM! The mischaracterization and generalization crowd came back in.
posted by Big_B at 8:36 AM on March 19, 2014


Ha! I'd like to think, rather, that I have the sense not to walk into a bar in Birkenhead and greet everyone with a cheery "Hey, [expletive]s! Got any Lagunitas?

I know Birkenhead. You'd be fine. They're used to it.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 8:42 AM on March 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


Hey, now, some of those abstractions are definitely about us language-policin' cis feminists.

Yeah, which is really weird to me because for all that there's definitely expressed resentment of mean old harridans trolling for cabal favorites by bringing nasty gender politics where they have no business being, there's also some use of feminist language to reinforce the right of the metafilter mainstream to silence women's views with a gender politics filter as too mean to/otherwise wrongheaded about other women.


immlass, I had a very hard time figuring out who you were talking about here. I thought about it over night and decided it might be about corb's comments in this thread.

Then I thought I had some points that would be useful to a discussion of community expectations when "people who use feminist language to reinforce the right of the metafilter mainstream" and whether it's worthwhile to engage corb over and over.

I got to thinking about how corb's case illustrates the constructedness of national identity that I brought up somewhere else. National identity is just as charged and "intersectional" as gender. Metafilter might not agree, but that is valid position in the realm of "identity politics."

There are actually people in the world who have been persecuted for the reasons corb says and that adds to their "identity as a marginalized person." Consider Chinese intellectuals (landowners, teachers, doctors, etc.) who survived Cultural Revolution. Very visible in the US are Cubans who left Cuba after Castro came to power.

In their identity/oppression talk class "intersects" with their national identity very differently from metafilter expectations.

I'm not defending the way corb engages with the site on this topic and related ones. I don't know corb's background. The mods seem to be working with her. Where I disagree is that the community gains anything from bickering with people to the right of you and corb in particular. It doesn't add anything to the site. If anything it's an effect of your identity politics.

But I see upon your clarification that you're not talking about corb's participation in this thread. You're talking about microaggressions in a thread about "my husbands record collection."

It would have saved me a lot of time if you had just said that to begin with.
posted by vincele at 8:43 AM on March 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


Big_B: "The mischaracterization and generalization crowd came back in."

It's telling that pretty much anyone, with any position, could have said this about a group of posters in this thread and felt totally justified.
posted by emmtee at 8:46 AM on March 19, 2014 [8 favorites]


The mischaracterization and generalization crowd came back in.

I think since there are so many opportunities to interpret and mininterpret what we are all trying to get at, it would be helpful to be even more specific. Cus I just read those comments again and am not sure what and who you are referring to.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 8:47 AM on March 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


How about what happened in this discussion after 8pm last night? There was a decent, calm discussion going on (with the mods too!) and then BOOM! The mischaracterization and generalization crowd came back in.

Not sure what you're talking about here. There's a bunch of discussion, but the only thing I saw that kind of went that way was how kalessin felt.

It would have saved me a lot of time if you had just said that to begin with.

The last comment immlass made was 9 hours prior to this, so I'm not sure what you mean here.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:03 AM on March 19, 2014


I can't tell who anyone is actually talking about and I can't tell *when* the things they're talking about happened, and I have no idea what national identity has to do with any of this. Do I just need more coffee?
posted by rtha at 9:21 AM on March 19, 2014 [11 favorites]


Blazecock Pileon: " No, but if it does get worse, I do promise to start a Metatalk thread. Because that stuff really is ruining the site for those of us who operate in good faith."

The last time you accused someone here of acting in bad faith I offered evidence to the contrary. Your response was to ignore that, move the goal posts and double down.

By all means feel free to start a MetaTalk thread on the topic, but if you do, be aware that some of us believe that "good faith" non-toxic behavior includes avoiding baseless accusations against other mefites.
posted by zarq at 9:23 AM on March 19, 2014 [14 favorites]


I can't tell who anyone is actually talking about and I can't tell *when* the things they're talking about happened, and I have no idea what national identity has to do with any of this. Do I just need more coffee?

You are Number Six.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 9:26 AM on March 19, 2014 [5 favorites]


I can't tell who anyone is actually talking about and I can't tell *when* the things they're talking about happened, and I have no idea what national identity has to do with any of this. Do I just need more coffee?

rtha, how about I join you for that coffee?

On preview, I meant-- Number Six
posted by vincele at 9:27 AM on March 19, 2014


You are Number Six.

I don't think rtha's had six coffees today....
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:29 AM on March 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


The last time you accused someone here of acting in bad faith I offered evidence to the contrary. Your response was to ignore that, move the goal posts and double down.

Or how about in this thread, where he accused people of attacking him over Wendy Carlos and then called someone a troll merely for saying they were happy that she was mentioned later?
posted by zombieflanders at 9:30 AM on March 19, 2014 [5 favorites]


Yikes. If I knew that was the kind of behavior I was inviting when I asked BP for more examples I would have kept my mouth shut.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 9:37 AM on March 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


zombieflanders, I was trying not to pile on. (no pun intended.)

In general, I like BP. I enjoy his posts. I agree with many of his perspectives on a bunch of different topics. And as I said upthread, I'm sympathetic to being sensitive about one's own posts because hey, I've SO been there.

But still...
posted by zarq at 9:39 AM on March 19, 2014


Number six is my favorite number! (It really is.) How did you know?!?! Lucky guess, or....are you stalking me??!?!? /kidding! really!
posted by rtha at 9:40 AM on March 19, 2014 [3 favorites]


I can't tell who anyone is actually talking about and I can't tell *when* the things they're talking about happened, and I have no idea what national identity has to do with any of this. Do I just need more coffee?

You are Number Six.


I was making a lighthearted joke incorporating the jokey comment above mine, which called you number six. ;)

And I'm deliberately using emoticons in spite of the Metafilter convention not to, so that there won't be any more confusion. :p
posted by vincele at 9:47 AM on March 19, 2014


Oh sorry I see you were talking so someone else. Sorry about that. I thought it was just a joke. I guess I really don't understand what is going on here.
posted by vincele at 9:50 AM on March 19, 2014


No, I think I grokked your joke playing on the previous joke!

I think? Maybe it's not coffee I need, but booze. Lots of booze. At least then I'll have a good reason for being confused!
posted by rtha at 9:54 AM on March 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


I thought it was about Cylons. But it could be about the ol' morning Ceylon?
posted by gilrain at 10:00 AM on March 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


How about what happened in this discussion after 8pm last night?

8pm where?!
posted by shakespeherian at 10:12 AM on March 19, 2014 [20 favorites]


I got to thinking about how corb's case illustrates the constructedness of national identity that I brought up somewhere else. National identity is just as charged and "intersectional" as gender. Metafilter might not agree, but that is valid position in the realm of "identity politics."

There are actually people in the world who have been persecuted for the reasons corb says and that adds to their "identity as a marginalized person." Consider Chinese intellectuals (landowners, teachers, doctors, etc.) who survived Cultural Revolution. Very visible in the US are Cubans who left Cuba after Castro came to power.


Getting back to being a bit Metatalky about this - I think that there are two different but overlapping things here. Absolutely, pretty much any characteristic can be intersectional - to be Chinese in the US, for example, is to be in a minority, even though there are more Chinese people than Americans worldwide. But I think the issue here is rather PTSD triggers.

PTSD trigger concerns often overlap with intersectional and social justice concerns, because people in vulnerable positions are more likely to be subject to trauma, and also often don't have access to counselling resources. But PTSD triggers are not unique to vulnerable groups, or groups with intersectional concerns - affluent white straight men could have PTSD triggers from any number of things, including auto accidents or military service.

So... yeah, I'd want to go deeper into the species of identity politics you're citing, but I think PTSD triggers are kind of functionally different from e.g. homophobia, at least on MetaFilter. There's certainly an overlap (like, people who don't understand why people get upset about homophobic slurs, and argue that they are just words, often understand better when it's explained by gay people that these are what they hear while they are being beaten up).

But the policy on MetaFilter generally, I think, is that, while deliberately trying to trigger somebody will come under jerkish behavior, MetaFilter isn't a safe space, and people need to make their own judgments about how they can be comfortable while dealing with that not-safe space. Whereas someone who is being overtly racist or homophobic will (if the system works) be flagged, have their posts deleted, be talked to by moderators and ultimately banned.
posted by running order squabble fest at 10:15 AM on March 19, 2014 [4 favorites]


Oh yeah, that's what this thread needs. More Coffee.
posted by benito.strauss at 10:39 AM on March 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


I think places that aren't safe spaces can still be respectful spaces.

If somebody comes right out and tells me that something I'm saying is triggering, but I truly believe that it's a reasonable thing for me to say in a public space, and the mods agree with me... while it might be possible I may not decide to comply with his or her request to not say it (although I can't think of an example offhand), I'd do my best to be kind and respectful about it, because that's what I'd hope for if the shoe was on the other foot.

That's not "policing" or "marching in lockstep" or "orthodoxy" or "being silenced;" it's just good manners.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 10:42 AM on March 19, 2014 [12 favorites]


Agreed about good manners. I am self-sustaining such that I can go have a timeout with minimal (but some) drama when things get too intense for me.

At the same time, if I'm welcome to come and talk at the great Metafilter roundtable, the give and take here is that I expect to both enjoy and reciprocate a certain level of discourse. Including the kind where I say, "Hey, using that term kind of sucks for me. I have a history of having the term suck for me. Can we not use it? Here are some alternatives." and being able to expect that that request will be honored, and as well, when corb comes and says, "Pardon me, but here are my good reasons for preferring we avoid this other phrase." I should be prepared to try to avoid that terminology.

What I object to is the double standard wherein it feels like I'm being asked to buck up and suck it up about my concerns but in addition being asked to watch my tone and phrasing that bothers other people. That's the part that really bothers me because in both kind and approach it is so similar to the day to day aggressions I experience in the outside world as a minority.

We claim to be a community interested in welcoming new viewpoints and discussing new ideas. That philosophy requires a lot of work on everyone's part. If we're not willing to do that work, then we should hang up that hat and focus on what we can do. Instead of claiming we're after a thing but not being able to deliver the support when called to.
posted by kalessin at 10:48 AM on March 19, 2014 [4 favorites]


The Underpants Monster: " That's not "policing" or "marching in lockstep" or "orthodoxy" or "being silenced;" it's just good manners."

Precisely. Still, this breaks down a bit when we talk about it in less abstract terms. One of the problems in corb's case of seeking relief from triggering is that she's in the past shown a blind spot on trans issues that has led people to believe she was either intentionally triggering, or at the very least, not doing her best to understand why what she thought was okay behavior could be perceived as triggering.

We don't need to re-litigate that, especially since she's checked out of this MeTa, and I do think she showed a good deal of contrition in the most recent MeTa where this became a problem, but I can understand why some people might find it hard to accept that someone last seen vehemently defending her right to express herself as long as it wasn't intentionally mean-spirited would be demanding that her feelings and only her perception be the only relevant metric in determining what kind of expression is allowed.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:52 AM on March 19, 2014


I thought it was about Cylons.

It's from the surreal, often-confusing The Prisoner (you can skip to the two-minute mark for the relevant dialog).
posted by The Underpants Monster at 10:52 AM on March 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


That's not "policing" or "marching in lockstep" or "orthodoxy" or "being silenced;" it's just good manners.

Agreed times about a million. Here's the thing: if something I do causes someone harm, it's a fairly safe bet I didn't intend it, and once I know it's harmful to them, I won't do it again. Additionally, I'm pretty sure that's what 90+% of people would do.

The tough thing I have to work on is understanding that if I've just caused someone pain, there's a strong likelihood they're not going to be very friendly about explaining it to me, and from their point of view, I threw the first punch.

I've not yet gotten to the point of hugging them for it, but I'm better about biting my lip and nodding.
posted by Mooski at 10:55 AM on March 19, 2014 [15 favorites]


PTSD trigger concerns often overlap with intersectional and social justice concerns, because people in vulnerable positions are more likely to be subject to trauma, and also often don't have access to counselling resources.

I'd want to go deeper into the species of identity politics you're citing, but I think PTSD triggers are kind of functionally different from e.g. homophobia, at least on MetaFilter.


Thank you for your thoughtful comment. I'm not talking about corb's behavior. I'm talking about the limits of Metafilter identity thinking. For some people being Chinese or being Cuban is more than a characteristic.

I brought up two examples of formerly high status groups who one will find in the US (survivors of the Cultural Revolution and Cuban Americans).

You can't tell them their nationality/national origin is just a characteristic when they have lost their homes and livelihood on that basis. That is how it is in formerly colonial territories and developing nations and well everywhere. It's maybe easier to see in Israel: even within that nation various layers of "privilege" divide citizens depending on ethnicity and economic resources, not to mention Arab-Israels and Palestinians. I could go on and on with examples of how national identities are always being made and economic and gender conflicts are part of that process.

I think it's absurd to say that an idiom would cause upset as corb said. But if you say that identity and its effects are essential to conversation on the site, you need to consider that national identity is more than a characteristic. It carries political meaning that could cause someone to have a deeply upsetting emotional response to something on the internet. You can substitute Cambodians, Bosnians, Rwandans or anyone you'd like for the formerly affluent survivors of the Chinese and Cuban revolutions I've already offered.

For Metafilter gender identity people, national identity doesn't matter because it doesn't affect them. Everyone knows the conventional wisdom that Founding Fathers weren't talking about all "Americans" when they wrote the Constitution and Declaration of Independence. But a lot of work was done for that to become part of our conventional wisdom.

Research and activism centered on identity began as a challenge to conservative views that "American," "women," "black" and so on are not natural categories. This has been going on for at least the past four or five decades. Activists and scholars have said: hey all these identities are 1) modern constructs (created in large part by the state and medicine) 2) include and exclude at will 3) identity is malleable ("black" or "lady" or "female" change over time and can be changed).

Now it is one thing to ask others to use the labels we prefer to use for ourselves. That's basic respect. It is one thing to recognize unreasonable requests.

But it is quite another thing to go a step farther and say that "women" or "men" or "black" or "transgender" are natural uncontested labels. Yet that is where Metafilter identity politicians are today.

I have talked at length about why it is a bad thing to assume that 2014 gender identities are natural and edge out other kinds of identities and claims to use the language of privilege and hurt.

The thing I'm adding here. What constitutes a nation and who belongs are unsettled questions in a lot of places Metafilter is not thinking about. In those places, people fight for inclusion and fight against violence just like people in this thread have do on the basis of gender.Vulnerability comes in more forms than are apparent to the proponents of identity politics here. My guess is corb is trying to use your language to talk about one of those places. In doing so she makes my point about the problems with using identity language on a site this big and using reified concepts of identity.

Two final caveats:
Do not ask me for examples. They are found everywhere in this thread. I ask you to find them.
I am not condoning corb's pattern of commenting on these topics that cause offense. That has nothing to do with your politics or hers.
posted by vincele at 11:10 AM on March 19, 2014 [4 favorites]


Here's the thing: if something I do causes someone harm, it's a fairly safe bet I didn't intend it, and once I know it's harmful to them, I won't do it again. Additionally, I'm pretty sure that's what 90+% of people would do.

Absolutely, but only to a point.

Corb feels triggered by "up against the wall," used however figuratively. I worked with an Irish person who felt triggered by "beyond the pale," because it was (unknown to me at the time) used as a phrase to demean the Irish as barbarians. Right after my mother died, I felt triggered by any mention of hospitals.

I think those are all valid feelings to have, and certainly in a one-on-one interaction (like with my coworker), I would expect good manners to prevail and the phrase to be dropped.

But I don't think it's a reasonable expectation, on a public forum with thousands of users, to have all triggers eliminated. People are going to use figurative murder and suicide references, because that's common in English ("I wanted to kill him," "I was so embarrassed I wanted to die," etc.). People are going to talk about hospitals, where thousands of personal tragedies have occurred across the userbase's lifetimes. Etc.

I think it's reasonable to separate out slurs and threats that commonly cause harm in the lives of large populations of people from phrases or allusions that cause a momentary issues in the life of one or two users. Those one or two users absolutely have a right to their feelings, but they also have the responsibility to understand that this is not a safe space and that they might need to limit their own participation if they're bothered, rather than remaking the site. There are safe spaces in the internet where any mention of violence, no matter how figurative, is forbidden, and where regular users' individual triggers are often worked into the "banned words/phrases" lists. I see Metafilter working a bit more democratically, I guess, in that phrases can and do move into the "Hey, please don't say that here" pile when there are enough users bothered by them, and I think it's valid for individual users, as often happens, to start MeTa threads to gauge whether they're dealing with an individual trigger or a collective harm (the recent-ish thread about "schizophrenic" comes to mind).
posted by jaguar at 11:20 AM on March 19, 2014 [19 favorites]


That's not "policing" or "marching in lockstep" or "orthodoxy" or "being silenced;" it's just good manners.

I think this reduction of a complicated discussion to a pseudo-universal, seemingly obvious question of good manners is pretty unhelpfully simplistic. There are, in fact, a number of reasonable disagreements in this thread about the kind of rhetoric and interpersonal etiquette that we want to encourage. It's certainly nice to be nice, but you can't wish away the fact of disagreement that easily, and unconsciously as well as consciously, people are very good at using manners and etiquette as tools to shut down disagreement. If we privilege not hurting anyone's feelings, ever, above all other considerations in our discussions, then we end up giving a lot of power over the discussion to the people who are able to perform their hurt feelings the most convincingly, vocally, and frequently. If hurt feelings become this kind of universal trump card, this can end up leading (and IMO has already led the site to some degree) toward a culture that privileges taking things touchily personally, moralizing, and passive-aggressive guilting over straightforward, direct, unapologetic discussion. It's not obvious or unquestionable that that is a good thing for site culture.
posted by RogerB at 11:20 AM on March 19, 2014 [9 favorites]


shakespeherian: "How about what happened in this discussion after 8pm last night?

8pm where?!
"

Look, it's not my fault you don't all know what time zone the rest of us are in. Really you could just google to educate yourselves before you come into a thread asking dumb questions.
posted by Big_B at 11:24 AM on March 19, 2014 [6 favorites]


Well, no. Your time zone isn't listed in your profile, so how is this not trolling?
posted by kalessin at 11:27 AM on March 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


I think that was some sort of attempt at a sarcastic joke. Maybe a good idea for people to just not reach for sarcasm when dipping into the ol' rhetorical toolbox in a discussion like this.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:28 AM on March 19, 2014 [8 favorites]


But it is quite another thing to go a step farther and say that "women" or "men" or "black" or "transgender" are natural uncontested labels. Yet that is where Metafilter identity politicians are today.

Is anyone really saying that? I don't think anyone is. Pretty sure if you asked most trans people on metafilter about gender, for example, they'd tell you it's a social construct (as indeed I would). Well if the concept itself is a social construct, it's pretty blood hard to see how identities and categories derived from it are not self-evidently constructs as well, and thus inherently contestable. That we're not always interested in contesting them at every turn is another matter.
posted by Dysk at 11:29 AM on March 19, 2014 [3 favorites]


For Metafilter gender identity people, national identity doesn't matter because it doesn't affect them.

I could be misunderstanding, but this seems like a huge, broad statement to make. Intersectionality has been discussed quite a bit in gender-related posts, and I am sure we have some "gender identity people" here who are also Chinese or Cuban or whatever.

I think there are certainly some issues to pick with modern identity politics, but the implication (if I understand what you are saying) that people on MetaFilter can be focused on gender identity OR on national identity is simply not true.
posted by jess at 11:29 AM on March 19, 2014 [7 favorites]


Making a point sarcastically is not trolling. That's a word that could really be given a rest.
posted by spaltavian at 11:30 AM on March 19, 2014 [5 favorites]


But I don't think it's a reasonable expectation, on a public forum with thousands of users, to have all triggers eliminated.

Nor do I. However, I think it only makes sense to recognize that a person who has just been hurt by something I've said or done is not going to be the reasonable one in our exchange. That falls to me, if I can manage it.
posted by Mooski at 11:30 AM on March 19, 2014 [4 favorites]


From a "read the room" sort of perspective, I think making a point sarcastically when sarcasm isn't really flying around a lot is, if not trolling, something not well advised.
posted by kalessin at 11:34 AM on March 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


Nor do I. However, I think it only makes sense to recognize that a person who has just been hurt by something I've said or done is not going to be the reasonable one in our exchange. That falls to me, if I can manage it.

I fully agree.
posted by jaguar at 11:38 AM on March 19, 2014


If we privilege not hurting anyone's feelings, ever, above all other considerations in our discussions

I don't think this is really what's being said, though. Certainly the mods don't enforce this idea and have been quite explicit in saying so, therefore what's being talked about here is a community norm at best. You can't control whether someone is offended by something you said, but you can control whether or not you care. I think the suggestion here is merely that the community would be a better place if we found it in ourselves to care a little more.
posted by annekate at 11:46 AM on March 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


As an example of what this thread might be about, I am amused that very early on upstream person-that-site-wisdom-agrees-with was 'bullied' and 'harassed' into leaving the site by mean people asking for names and examples of what she was talking about. Since then every person-that-site-wisdom-doesn't-agree-with is accused of 'examplephobia' and asked to provide names and examples of the behavior claimed. The gander sauce does seem a little different than the goose sauce in here.

And no, I'm not providing examples.
posted by umberto at 11:49 AM on March 19, 2014 [15 favorites]


gander sauce

Man, some of us are eating in here!
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 11:55 AM on March 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


I am not aware of any person on this site that "site wisdom" agrees with or disagrees totally. It's not like Metafilter is mostly one big mob that has a platform of politics.
posted by agregoli at 11:56 AM on March 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


If we privilege not hurting anyone's feelings, ever, above all other considerations in our discussions, then we end up giving a lot of power over the discussion to the people who are able to perform their hurt feelings the most convincingly, vocally, and frequently.

I thought I was pretty clear about this, but I guess I wasn't. I'm not saying, "Never hurt anyone's feelings," because that's neither possible nor practical. I'm saying, "Try not to double down and be an offended jerk about it when it inevitably happens."

Possible examples of being a jerk about it:

[after being asked once] “I am SO fucking sick and tired of walking on eggshells around the PC cops! You know what? Oo can take oos pwecious iddy biddy feefees over to Tumblr.”

“Get over yourself. If you can’t handle yourself around the grownups, then sign up for another Wymmyn’s Studies class, because it’s not my job to mollycoddle and handhold you every time you have some kind of hysterical breakdown.”

Possible examples of having good manners about it:

“I’m so sorry to hear about your experiences; that’s got to be awful. This is a common figure of speech where I come from, and if the mods are OK with it being used here it’s just not practical for me to completely weed it out.”

“I guess we’ll have to leave it up to the mods whether it’s OK to say. I’ve always taken it to mean [XYZ], and here's why: [etc.]”
posted by The Underpants Monster at 11:56 AM on March 19, 2014 [4 favorites]


When someone turns up with the username "site wisdom", we are boned.
posted by running order squabble fest at 11:57 AM on March 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


Different people in this conversation feel differently about a whole bunch of different aspects of that stuff, and have been disagreeing with each other about it throughout. It's pretty dang reductive to suggest that everybody's getting nadawi's back and everybody's demanding examples from not-nadawi. You're talking about a big mixed crowd of individuals in a thread that's been pretty seriously consensus-free about anything but the broadest strokes.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:58 AM on March 19, 2014 [7 favorites]


Now, I'm not saying those situations are ideal, but personally, I think they're a lot better than flying off the handle.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 11:58 AM on March 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


Do not ask me for examples. They are found everywhere in this thread. I ask you to find them.

This is interesting and frustrating. Will you acknowledge that, as in above examples of people talking about unnamed other mefites, what you consider to be an example of this may differ wildly from what I or someone else considers to be an example?

THIS is why people have asked for examples. We cannot tell if we are actually talking about the same goddamn thing, and having this discussion like this is pretty irritating in that way.
posted by rtha at 12:03 PM on March 19, 2014 [3 favorites]


It's also getting really hard to follow this discussion (which is at 878 comments as I write this) when people do the "[unnamed user] did [vague description of bad thing] upthread and it was really annoying and THAT is an example of what I'm talking about" when it is not actually an example. This thread is too long and there have been too many verbal strands to easily suss out what someone is talking about when they make some kind of veiled call-out. "Examplephobia" is an in-joke in this thread now, but seriously, if you're going to make a point, don't be coy about it. It would take 15 minutes to maybe find what you're referring to using ctrl+F, and by that point the discussion will have moved on to something else entirely.
posted by mudpuppie at 12:03 PM on March 19, 2014 [5 favorites]


There's a distinct difference between "person-that-site-wisdom-agrees-with" and "person on this site that 'site wisdom' agrees with or disagrees totally."
posted by Etrigan at 12:04 PM on March 19, 2014


One of the reasons I have trouble giving examples is that I am on an iPad mini and can't use the nifty script zarq uses to immediately draw up old threads like ZAP! It never even occurred to me to use Plutor's script to track other users' comments the way zarq does. I am really feeling that deficit now.

I don't have Examplephobia, I am just bedridden and typing on a tiny keypad!

I am not aware of any person on this site that "site wisdom" agrees with or disagrees totally. It's not like Metafilter is mostly one big mob that has a platform of politics.

Whereas I feel like there is a dominant platform that is taking over the site.

I will just use the Rebecca Watson thread zarq brought up to make his point to make mine.

I feel like it is perfectly valid for people to respond to that thread differently based on their own lived experience. I, for example, felt like what the man said to Watson in the elevator was fine. His words were respectful and polite rather than crude or overtly sexual. She turned him down, they went their separate ways.

Others felt that because Watson had, earlier in the day before going to the hotel bar, said on a discussion panel that it wasn't cool when men sexualized her rather than respecting her expertise, that the man was not respecting her boundaries. In addition, they felt the fact that he said the words in an elevator made the encounter creepy, physically intimidating and triggering by default. I feel like it's perfectly valid for them to say they feel that way, too.

Whether the man in the elevator was actually present at Watson's panel, we don't know and Watson doesn't say. Watson herself did not label this behavior sexual harassment. She did not in any way mention this being a trigger for her.

I feel like there's room for reasonable debate about this specific situation and saying, based on my own lived experience as a woman, that I would not personally view this particular incident as sexual harassment does not in my opinion negate the fact that sexual harassment takes place and is a serious issue when it does.

I do not believe it is ever okay to suggest that a woman is inviting sexual harassment or worse through her dress or her conduct. I felt like anyone even suggesting there was no such thing as sexual harassment was soundly taken to task in that thread, and if someone suggested that women were at fault in some way for sexual harassment they had their comments deleted. So I am good with all that and I feel the mods handled appropriately.

What I am not good with is that there are people who insisted that asking someone out while in an elevator is obviously always wrong and always constitutes sexual harassment and the idea that if you disagree with any of that you are obviously sexist yourself.

And I am not good with pointing to that thread as an example of rampant misogyny vs righteous feminist outrage. To me, the issue was far more complex than that, the discussion more involved and nuanced than simply Us vs Them.

Painting it that way, using it as a kind of litmus test for You Are an Acceptable Feminist vs You Are a Misogynist is the kind of behavior I and others are complaining about. It is what we mean when we say that there is a specific type of feminism that has taken over the site (what I called the One True Feminist and cairdeas really nailed with her much more succinct, pithy Portlandia Liberalism).

And because the proponents of that mindset are so aggressive about going after anyone who doesn't agree, it makes those threads about women, sexism and feminism an unwelcoming place for a lot of us, including other feminist women.
posted by misha at 12:07 PM on March 19, 2014 [12 favorites]


You're talking about a big mixed crowd of individuals in a thread that's been pretty seriously consensus-free about anything but the broadest strokes.

Cairdeas' comment got 112 favorites. That looks like a consensus to me.
posted by misha at 12:12 PM on March 19, 2014


...and one of mine got 72. What's the size of the userbase here again? Pretty sure both of those figures are insignificant to the point of irrelevance, and on top of that, we have no idea what people intend when they add something as a favourite.
posted by Dysk at 12:15 PM on March 19, 2014 [15 favorites]


I highly recommend using scripts to improve your site experience. I use these:

Howls of Outrage
MeFi Navigator
Mefiquote
Metafilter Scroll Tag
Mondo Image
posted by Chrysostom at 12:16 PM on March 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


Maybe it is also time to consider examples of people who are perhaps all too familiar with terminology, who are using that as a cudgel to get away with bullying, to accuse others of bad faith behavior, to disrupt unrelated threads and discussions, and to generally be manipulative in a way not unlike the trolling that MartinWisse noted, but appearing to come from the other side of the social issue divide as a way to sneakily get around community norms. It is a problem that seems to be getting worse, down to a handful of users who seem to know how to manipulate the language to those ends.

If you want to start hinting at conspiracies, be so good as to leave my name out of it.
posted by MartinWisse at 12:16 PM on March 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


It's pretty dang reductive to suggest that everybody's getting nadawi's back and everybody's demanding examples from not-nadawi.

Well, I don't know about everybody, but a mod certainly suggested it wasn't okay to demand examples from nadawi. Or maybe not okay for her to provide them?

I don't really have an opinion either way, but is it okay or not-okay to demand/provide specific examples of perceived bad behavior?
posted by lalex at 12:16 PM on March 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


misha: "One of the reasons I have trouble giving examples is that I am on an iPad mini and can't use the nifty script zarq uses to immediately draw up old threads like ZAP! It never even occurred to me to use Plutor's script to track other users' comments the way zarq does. I am really feeling that deficit now. "

When I was younger I used to have an eidetic memory. Kids, caffeine, stress, lack of sleep and super long work hours have shot it to hell tho. When I talk about other users' older comments I'm usually just using the in-site search engine and my own memory.

But yes, Plutor's script is fantastic for helping to remember old conversations -- if you can remember who you were speaking with. I noted this in another metatalk thread a day or so ago: by doing an in-site search for someone's name, (choosing shakes at random, here) you can literally see many if not all the interactions you've ever had with them. It's a neat trick and an unintended perk of using the script.

I deliberately try not to use the ability as a "gotcha." Or to troll people's histories. My comment to BP above is at the very borderline of what I normally shy away from.
posted by zarq at 12:26 PM on March 19, 2014 [3 favorites]


Well, I don't know about everybody, but a mod certainly suggested it wasn't okay to demand examples from nadawi. Or maybe not okay for her to provide them?

There is a bit of a difference between pointing to things in-thread, and bringing in things about members from other sites (which nadawi listing examples would have almost necessarily entailed), which may inform part of that difference in attitude.
posted by Dysk at 12:26 PM on March 19, 2014


we have no idea what people intend when they add something as a favourite.

Agreed. I don't agree with cairdeas on this particular issue (I'm glad the mods delete what they do and believe the community in general feels that way as well) but I almost favorited it anyway because I: a) appreciated the clear and reasoned way in which she presented her position, and b) wanted to encourage that kind of participation and dialogue (vs. antagonism and name calling).
posted by hapax_legomenon at 12:27 PM on March 19, 2014 [8 favorites]


misha: " Cairdeas' comment got 112 favorites. That looks like a consensus to me."

I favorite things for a lot of reasons, including as bookmarks. Have favorited opposing viewpoints in the same thread before. I'd be very wary of assuming I know why someone clicked that [+].
posted by zarq at 12:29 PM on March 19, 2014 [9 favorites]


Cairdeas' comment got 112 favorites. That looks like a consensus to me.

It looks like a lot of people finding something to agree with or mark as noteworthy, to me. Consensus is something else, and favorites are so deeply fraught as a metric (something that I don't think is really a mystery or surprise to any Metatalk regular) that I'm surprised to see that rolled out as an argument. If there's a lot of favorites on two comments that make opposing arguments, is that twice the consensus? Etc.

Aside from which I'm not sure what favorites on cairdeas' comment that wasn't about the example thing has to do with the idea of consensus or not on people giving examples of stuff.

Well, I don't know about everybody, but a mod certainly suggested it wasn't okay to demand examples from nadawi.

Which, I agree with LM's feeling there, and think it wasn't a great idea for nadawi to have made the comment in that way in the first place. But "don't go on a HERE'S THE MRA DUDERS hunt in here" is different from "don't point to the comments in this thread you're talking about" in some key ways, and to the extent that most folks were arguing that people should lay off nadawi 12- or 24-hours after the fact on that original comment it was more on the basis of not badgering someone for something they'd already walked away from than it was on the basis that referring to specific examples is bad.

For the record, I'd rather nobody badger anybody and I think there's a point after a terminal "here's a thing that happens", "can you provide examples?", "no" where there's not much left to do except move on.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:32 PM on March 19, 2014 [14 favorites]


I don't really have an opinion either way, but is it okay or not-okay to demand/provide specific examples of perceived bad behavior?

Much of the perceived bad behavior that I demanded examples of was bad behavior by the mods. Specifically I asked for examples that they deleted comments and said nasty things because of the ideological content of those comments. When that 'evidence' was presented, it turned out not to be remotely true.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 12:38 PM on March 19, 2014


And then you get onto asking how many of those 112 people are regular contributors, and then whether that matters, and before you know it we're basically in Starship Troopers...
posted by running order squabble fest at 12:44 PM on March 19, 2014


Yeah, in addition I also think "examples of MeFites with a particular viewpoint" is different from "examples of interactions or comments that I thought were handled incorrectly." I think the first one is potentially way more explosive and also runs counter to some things that the mods have said in MeTa before.

But while I understand why people don't want to get too specific, having this conversation in the abstract as opposed to the concrete is IMO making this thread confusing and hard to parse. I don't have a good solution here or anything - just an observation.
posted by en forme de poire at 12:45 PM on March 19, 2014


If you want to start hinting at conspiracies, be so good as to leave my name out of it.

It isn't a conspiracy. It's just the problematic flipside of the phenomenon you observed. I'm sorry your name was mentioned, but given the circumstances it seems difficult to do much else to provide the necessary context.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:13 PM on March 19, 2014


misha: "Watson herself did not label this behavior sexual harassment. She did not in any way mention this being a trigger for her.

The post in question wasn't just about the incident. It was about the massively nasty over-the-top aftermath that happened afterwards.

Watson had referenced the elevator incident in public as an example of sexism. Then Richard Dawkins and other folks responded by insultingly accusing her of saying all sorts of stuff that she never actually said, and dismissing her concerns. The rape threats and everything else that happened were in response to her mild(!) reaction to the incident.

I feel like there's room for reasonable debate about this specific situation and saying, based on my own lived experience as a woman, that I would not personally view this particular incident as sexual harassment does not in my opinion negate the fact that sexual harassment takes place and is a serious issue when it does.

You're right that she never called it sexual harassment. People assumed she had. Repeatedly. Despite the FPP saying she didn't, multiple commenters saying she didn't, and the links saying she didn't.

Notable: Orthogonality characterized her response as "his polite pick-up line becomes some sort of misogynistic oppression." and said that if the guy had been attractive to her, this wouldn't have been an issue. I thought that asserting Watson had an attractiveness double standard was blatant misogyny on his part and still do. (And since you mentioned them earlier, 172 favorites there. Still, judging by the in-thread reaction that was not a consensus.)

I do not believe it is ever okay to suggest that a woman is inviting sexual harassment or worse through her dress or her conduct. I felt like anyone even suggesting there was no such thing as sexual harassment was soundly taken to task in that thread, and if someone suggested that women were at fault in some way for sexual harassment they had their comments deleted.

Nope. Many undeleted comments said she had over-reacted. See the one linked above. Decani had a much favorited comment. Many folks also took her to task for humiliating the guy publicly.

What I am not good with is that there are people who insisted that asking someone out while in an elevator is obviously always wrong and always constitutes sexual harassment and the idea that if you disagree with any of that you are obviously sexist yourself.

I'm not a woman and I have not experienced the levels of sexual harassment and sexism that many women have had to deal with. So I can tell you that "I agree" in principle, because I generally feel approaching situations as if they were absolutes is wrongheaded. But I also acknowledge that because I have my own 'invisible backpack' with regard to this issue so my opinion doesn't count for much. I do have a problem with people dictating to women how they should feel about or react to a situation.

And I am not good with pointing to that thread as an example of rampant misogyny vs righteous feminist outrage. To me, the issue was far more complex than that, the discussion more involved and nuanced than simply Us vs Them.

I disagree, for some of the points I raised above and others.

Painting it that way, using it as a kind of litmus test for You Are an Acceptable Feminist vs You Are a Misogynist is the kind of behavior I and others are complaining about. It is what we mean when we say that there is a specific type of feminism that has taken over the site (what I called the One True Feminist and cairdeas really nailed with her much more succinct, pithy Portlandia Liberalism).

I do not believe that one "type" of feminism has taken over the site. Especially when arguments have taken place across several threads (like this one) between second and third wave feminists over what feminism is and should be. I don't think that any people here are "One True Feminist" (that seems like a convenient straw man) and I definitely don't agree with all of cairdeas' assessment.
posted by zarq at 1:33 PM on March 19, 2014 [15 favorites]


Oh, and I do hope you feel better, misha. :)
posted by zarq at 1:36 PM on March 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


Popping back in to answer something that was directly addressed to me:

I had a very hard time figuring out who you were talking about here.

A genuine, non-sarcastic answer to that: people are free to ask (in-thread or privately).

You're talking about microaggressions in a thread about "my husbands record collection."

Clarification: I have been talking about what I see as a site-wide, at least on the blue, concern over time. I was asked to provide a specific example, so I picked that thread because the comments in it were fresh in my mind. I have other concerns about that thread (already mentioned to the mods) and I don't want to bring them into this thread because if I'm going to bring them to MeTa, I'd like to do it when people aren't already riled up by a long and heated discussion.
posted by immlass at 1:51 PM on March 19, 2014


Responding to misha's narration of objecting to folks who are characteriizing a particular discreet act like asking a woman out while in an elevator as always in the wrong, I think that folks who are younger and who've been in activism a short time, those who haven't really integrated the dogma and indoctrination that can happen in any activist movement with their day to day living tend to get really absolutist and extreme in their execution of translating the activism's philosophy with their day to day lives.

Also when an activist or a social justice-oriented sort gets pressed, there is always a temptation to go to absolutism as part of the feeling cornered and defensive.

I think that it's accurate to say that the mods here on Metafilter do a really good job of trying to keep absolutists of all backgrounds and agendas honest enough to stay on the thread and try to prevent them from derailing too much or otherwise getting too fighty.

But I also think that they can't keep us from fighting if that's what we intend to do. And doubling down is absolutely not a behavior limited only to social justice oriented Metafilter members. Everyone has at one time or another at least shown a tendency to do this. You hit us where we hurt or where we have unresolved issues or have fear or secret or not so secret admiration or affection or other irrational private mindgames, and even the best of us get weird.

Again I don't see this problem as one that is limited only to those of us in social justice and I don't see moderation as a one-way street where I get to be as shitty as I want to be and conservatives don't. I see the mods asking us all to cool it when we need cooling.
posted by kalessin at 1:59 PM on March 19, 2014 [6 favorites]


misha: "You're talking about a big mixed crowd of individuals in a thread that's been pretty seriously consensus-free about anything but the broadest strokes."

Cairdeas' comment got 112 favorites. That looks like a consensus to me.


Which looks like a basic misunderstanding of both the use of favorites on this site and the meaning of "consensus" in decision-making or any other context. To me.
posted by dogrose at 2:04 PM on March 19, 2014 [3 favorites]


You're talking about a big mixed crowd of individuals in a thread that's been pretty seriously consensus-free about anything but the broadest strokes.

I think you'll find that the world doesn't move to the beat of just one drum, and what might be right for you, Cortex, may not be right for some. Because it takes diff'rent strokes, it takes diff'rent strokes, it takes diff'rent strokes to move the world. And Mrs. G.

And I think there's generally room for reasonable people to disagree on a lot of the issues discussed on the site. Taking that Watson thread as an example--which I haven't re-read and don't plan to revisit, so this is from memory of the source material--there's people that think there was sexual harassment and there's people who think it was a feeble attempt at asking someone out. I don't recall the facts ever being adjudicated other than in the court of public opinion. I don't know what happened on that elevator.

I didn't participate in the thread, and I don't have a strong feeling about it either way. I recollect it as seeming relatively innocuous (admittedly from my vantage point as a tall man standing on my invisible backpack), but I certainly wouldn't want my wife, or daughter, or mother to be harassed or feel unsafe. Ultimately, I was ambivalent enough about it that I realized I had nothing to offer in the discussion. There was a lot of heated rhetoric in the thread that (perhaps) might not reflect people's more reasoned opinions with some distance from the fray.

I'm troubled, however, that there's a "power user" that keeps a link to the favorites page of particularly strongly worded (and arguably problematic) comment in the "just a date" camp in their profile as a "list of people I wouldn't want to get on to an elevator alone with." Leaving aside the reality that people favorite things for all sorts of reasons (as Dysk and Zarq note in the comments above), and leaving aside the fact that I'm sure we all have our personal literal or metaphorical lists of users we just don't agree with or like, that particular list and its insinuation that that swath of users is unsafe to be confined with in a small space is, I think, problematic on a site where free discourse is encouraged. I don't have any reason to believe that anyone who favorited that comment (for whatever reason) is a threat to anyone else.

That list doesn't keep me up at night, and I'm not on it. I'm sure I'm on some people's lists, and the feeling is probably mutual. I'd feel exactly as uncomfortable if someone else's profile had a list of "MeFi's biggest ball busters" or something.

This is not meant to be a referendum on that user, or the list, or the comment, or the use of favorites, or whatever. I think that whole thread looks better far in the rear view mirror. But I do think its a symptom of a narrowing space for discussion, to say nothing of actual debate, on the site. Like on a crowded train, as the space shrinks, people's elbows come out; the site suffers.

AskMe is always nice, though. That's where I'm a viking!
posted by Admiral Haddock at 2:08 PM on March 19, 2014 [3 favorites]


Admiral Haddock, what are you talking about? "Power User?"
posted by agregoli at 2:18 PM on March 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


I'm troubled, however, that there's a "power user" that keeps a link to the favorites page of particularly strongly worded (and arguably problematic) comment in the "just a date" camp in their profile as a "list of people I wouldn't want to get on to an elevator alone with."

That's a "you and us both" situation, really. We exercise zero (I think?) mod oversight of users' profile pages but it's disappointing when people decide to use them to amplify disagreements they've had on other parts of the site.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:22 PM on March 19, 2014


I'm troubled, however, that there's a "power user" that keeps a link to the favorites page of particularly strongly worded (and arguably problematic) comment in the "just a date" camp in their profile as a "list of people I wouldn't want to get on to an elevator alone with."

Which, I think it's kind of a dickish thing to have on your profile page, yeah. But we don't really police profile pages beyond really exceptionally outlier stuff (giant racist rants, suicide threats, literal threats of violence, etc); folks can be sort of obnoxious in a wide variety of ways there and about all it accomplishes (since those pages aren't search engine indexed and hence don't work as googlebomb material, aren't easily searchable within the site, etc) is to reveal someone to be doing something obnoxious when someone ends up happening on their user page.

Do you feel that that that profile page exists is a sign of something specifically, or that it is exceptional (and being exceptionally protected somehow) among the larger body of profile pages that you presume not to contain differently-ideologically tinged obnoxiousness, or something? I'm fine if this is you're just mentioning something mostly apropos of nothing that's on your mind, but I don't know what exactly your asking for in bringing this up.

I'm not sure if this is supposed to be a direct response to the consensus thing somehow that you're quoting me about, which, again, came up specifically in reference to the examples-or-no-examples thing umberto brought up above. If so, I'm not following and maybe you can clarify.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:23 PM on March 19, 2014


Dysk:
Is anyone really saying that? I don't think anyone is. Pretty sure if you asked most trans people on metafilter about gender, for example, they'd tell you it's a social construct (as indeed I would). Well if the concept itself is a social construct, it's pretty blood hard to see how identities and categories derived from it are not self-evidently constructs as well, and thus inherently contestable.

The misunderstanding might lie in my use of “contested.”

Me: But it is quite another thing to go a step farther and say that "women" or "men" or "black" or "transgender" are natural uncontested labels.

Your read seems to be about responding to uninvited and offensive comments about your identity. I am not using contested in that way.

I went to google to see how to bridge the gap between my intended meaning for “essentially contested label” and your read of it.

I come to that term from feminist and women’s history, critical race theory and feminist social theory— and reflecting on activism and work in those veins. I am not a philosopher, so that link is more abstract and thinky than the way I am used to. But the first sentence might clarify:

the term essentially contested concept to facilitate an understanding of the different applications or interpretations of the sorts of abstract, qualitative, and evaluative notions[2] — such as "art" and "social justice" — used in the domains of aesthetics, political philosophy, philosophy of history, and philosophy of religion.

"Contested" is to recognize that language itself about gender (race, class, etc.) is political. Whatever “we” you name is not as inclusive as it looks. Example: in the 1970s black feminists stood up and challenged white feminists about their use of “we women.” I have pointed out several ways that Metafilter unwittingly excludes individuals from our categories tied to oppression. Our categories are limited by our own horizons, an insistence on experience, and not so much examination of where the categories came from.

“We” is always being defined and revised from within and by processes that are not evident unless you go looking for them. Maybe it is time to examine your language about identity and consider who it excludes and exactly whom it includes. As a cisgendered white heterosexual women I am speaking about the uses of women in this thread.

I am not interested in contestation as arguing with another individual who questions my politics or my right to this identity on Metafilter. I do not see what it accomplishes.
posted by vincele at 2:26 PM on March 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


Which looks like a basic misunderstanding of both the use of favorites on this site and the meaning of "consensus" in decision-making or any other context. To me.

Favorites are almost always upvotes.

The reason I can say this confidently is that favorites around here are applied in the same manner to the same kinds of comment as upvotes and likes are anywhere else. Tumblr, Disqus comment sections, whatever. One difference: the Long Biographical Anecdote gets a lot more play here than elsewhere. But Metafilter is generally not special in that respect.

You yourself may be different (I'm different, too) but your and my favoriting amounts to statistical noise, because people who use favorites as upvotes add a ton of favorites while your more discriminatory favoriting is, well, more discriminatory.

That said, all you can determine from 100 favorites is "that hit a nerve" and when you have 100 favorites vs. 70 or so that just means "people feel strongly about this" – even straight upvotes mean nothing in terms of... voting, as so many internet write-in campaigns can attest to.
posted by furiousthought at 2:27 PM on March 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


And since you mentioned them earlier, 172 favorites there. Still, judging by the in-thread reaction that was not a consensus.

And, like, about 150 for Famous Monster's subsequent comment suggesting that orthogonality sounded like a dangerous lunatic - not kind, but certainly popular.

What I get from this is that things that are attractive to a particular viewpoint will attract favorites - even from people who do not usually give favorites, but who resonate strongly with that viewpoint.

(I have a joke about trains to Minsk and Smolensk with 118 favorites right now in MeTa - what that means, I have no idea. Cold war nostalgia?)

Looking at the infodumpster, if you want serious favorites - like, a thousand plus - you need to be passionately defending a national institution (pastabagel on Mr Rogers), heartwarmingly/breakingly autobiographical (Astrozombie on Pixar), or passionately defending a national institution in a heartbreaking way (codacorrolla on the US library system).

(The three most popular MeTa posts are an autobiographical post, a humorous story about post-apocalyptic AskMe and a theory about Fight Club. The consensus is, if anything, that we shouldn't be discussing policy and etiquette in MeTa at all. The first heavily favorited post that's actually related to MeTa business is in fourth, and it's in rap.)
posted by running order squabble fest at 2:30 PM on March 19, 2014 [6 favorites]


vincele, I have a philosophy degree and I can't grok what you're trying to say. That the concept of 'woman' is contested? No shit! There are TERFs pushing one definition, and trans women pushing another. Again, as a pure and simple matter of respect, allowing people to self-identify as they wish strikes me as eminently sensible, and inclines toward the latter definition.
posted by Dysk at 2:32 PM on March 19, 2014


furiousthought: " You yourself may be different (I'm different, too) but your and my favoriting amounts to statistical noise, because people who use favorites as upvotes add a ton of favorites while your more discriminatory favoriting is, well, more discriminatory."

Maybe!

I have over 26600 favorites (given, not received.) I suspect that volume might skew a total in one direction or another. Just a little. Could be wrong, though. I'm just one guy. :)
posted by zarq at 2:37 PM on March 19, 2014


FWIW, I contacted the mods awhile back about a user's profile that explicitly called another user a racist (as well as calling the mods racist-condoning). Jessamyn's response was that they don't support such behavior and that they have banned people in the past for really outrageous profile stuff, but that they were trying to let a heated situation cool down a bit, and that I was welcome to open a MeTa if I felt the need.
posted by Chrysostom at 2:40 PM on March 19, 2014


furiousthought, I defer to the mods on favorites usage, and they've said, as have older threads discussed, the idea that favorites do not always mean the meaning you assert. I sure as hell don't always use them as upvotes. Sometimes I use them as bookmarks. Sometimes I use them as upvotes. Sometimes I use them as downvotes (in that I want to track what a particular said so I can remember they seem to hold that view, as disagreeable as I may find it).
posted by kalessin at 2:41 PM on March 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


I also don't see the specific problem with calling someone a racist if that's how they're behaving, but I do get that doing so is fraught from the priority and perspective of cultivating communal good graces sense.
posted by kalessin at 2:43 PM on March 19, 2014


kalessin, I think the sticking point is that calling somebody a racist on one's profile page is pretty not-great.
posted by Sticherbeast at 2:46 PM on March 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


I think the sticking point is that calling somebody a racist on one's profile page is pretty not-great.

Yes. Which is why I said:
but I do get that doing so is fraught from the priority and perspective of cultivating communal good graces sense.

What is the difference between our two statements except that I didn't mention the profile page specifically? Are we really so at odds at this point that you couldn't see common ground between us? These are serious, good faith-assuming, not sarcastic or scolding intended questions.
posted by kalessin at 2:51 PM on March 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


Mods, has anything anyone has said in this thread provided a viewpoint or perspective that is likely to alter your moderating decisions in any way in the future? Cortex's comments make me think the answer is 'no' - is that a fair conclusion to draw?
posted by Sebmojo at 2:58 PM on March 19, 2014


I would support "don't talk shit about other members on your profile page" as a hard and fast rule.
posted by neroli at 2:58 PM on March 19, 2014 [13 favorites]


cortex: "But we don't really police profile pages beyond really exceptionally outlier stuff (giant racist rants, suicide threats, literal threats of violence, etc); folks can be sort of obnoxious in a wide variety of ways there and about all it accomplishes (since those pages aren't search engine indexed and hence don't work as googlebomb material, aren't easily searchable within the site, etc) is to reveal someone to be doing something obnoxious when someone ends up happening on their user page."

So you stop people from attacking each other everywhere else on the site but on profile pages? Is this a loophole you'd consider closing?

On preview, I agree with neroli.
posted by zarq at 3:00 PM on March 19, 2014 [4 favorites]


Mods, has anything anyone has said in this thread provided a viewpoint or perspective that is likely to alter your moderating decisions in any way in the future? Cortex's comments make me think the answer is 'no' - is that a fair conclusion to draw?

Our moderation decisions are always based on existing guidelines and the way we've implemented them and how that's gone in the past, what's going on on the site right now, and how we'd like things to go in the future. There are almost a thousand comments of feedback, suggestions and disagreements here. There is literally no way we could say "No this hasn't affected the way we do our jobs" At the same time, if you're looking for "From here on out we'll do X instead of Y when we're dealing with Z" I don't think there's any new guideline that's going to spring from this discussion. Not sure what you're looking for here?

If we're going to talk about the profile page thing as a thing people would like to see changed, I'd really like it to come up as its own topic so that we can talk about that issue only and not as it's conflated with all the other things we've been talking about. I'm not, at all, against examining the hands-off way we treat profile pages, but just "no talking shit on them" is not going to fly.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:03 PM on March 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


What is the difference between our two statements except that I didn't mention the profile page specifically? Are we really so at odds at this point that you couldn't see common ground between us? These are serious, good faith-assuming, not sarcastic or scolding intended questions.

I was unaware that we were at odds...? Either way, the use of the profile page itself as a platform to call out other users - for racism, or whatever else - is exactly what people are responding to. Many people regard this as an improper use of profile pages. I'm not seeing any comments which claim that it is improper to call people out for racism in actual threads.
posted by Sticherbeast at 3:04 PM on March 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


That's a "you and us both" situation, really.

That was my assumption, and I fully appreciate that people's profile pages are more or less their own real estate. As I said, it doesn't keep me up at night.

If so, I'm not following and maybe you can clarify.

I'm having a little trouble parsing your penultimate paragraph, Cortex. Apropos of this long thread, what I find troublesome is insinuating a grab-bag of other users is literally "dangerous" for having (or just bookmarking) a different opinion on a murky set of facts. A similar curated list of "man-haters" from the nursery rhymes post a while back would be just as troubling to me, to be sure.

I'm bad with names and I pop into people's profile pages frequently to remind myself who's who, and I don't think this is a wide-spread epidemic of bad faith pages. I don't think it was better in ye olden days, but I don't think we're in a great place now when either side of a discussion of current events on the internet implies the other is literally dangerous.

It's not the list per se, it's that a long series of less-than-productive threads (that you have done your best to moderate, and that most users approach with clean hands) has created an environment where someone of either side of an issue would think that such a list is a good fit for the site.

O tempora o mores, and all, but it does disappoint me as a long-time user, and I hope we do better. That's why I brought it up.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 3:05 PM on March 19, 2014 [2 favorites]


alter your moderating decisions in any way in the future

It came up earlier, but bears another look because this thread is long. What is it people want mods to do differently? Specifically. More deletions? Fewer? More/fewer of certain kinds of comments? Mod notes that say "Hey, [specific mefite], cut it out" in a thread rather than "Please stop with the back-and-forth, everybody"?

I've seen a zillion comments where people talk about what they *don't* like and many fewer about what they think works, moderationwise. A lot of what's been discussed here reminds me a lot of the discussions I've sat in on with our designer, where the staffer who wants something designed can only say "Can you make it more...different?"
posted by rtha at 3:06 PM on March 19, 2014 [9 favorites]


jessamyn: " If we're going to talk about the profile page thing as a thing people would like to see changed, I'd really like it to come up as its own topic so that we can talk about that issue only and not as it's conflated with all the other things we've been talking about. I'm not, at all, against examining the hands-off way we treat profile pages, but just "no talking shit on them" is not going to fly."

I can start that thread... but I'm a little concerned that it would set off a witch-hunt (or set me up for dismissive "this never happens" responses) if I don't provide specific example(s) of problematically pugnacious profile pages.
posted by zarq at 3:06 PM on March 19, 2014


Stitcherbeast, again, I feel like I'm lectured even though I agree with what it is I'm being lectured about. Weird feeling.
posted by kalessin at 3:06 PM on March 19, 2014


I would support "don't talk shit about other members on your profile page" as a hard and fast rule.

I've been on the end of that kind of abusive behavior and would support that rule.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:07 PM on March 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


So you stop people from attacking each other everywhere else on the site but on profile pages?

Sorta? I mean, let me be clear, the sort of dualistic sense of profile page vs. elsewhere on the site is one we have had mixed feelings about before; it's less something that came about fully-formed as a "this is a really great solution to the problem of where people can be jerky" design idea as something that's a weird incidental knock-on effect to the way profile pages were conceived as a sort of personal expression space. The expectation for which (nearly but not universally met in practice) is that folks would use it for "here's something about me" or "here's some stuff I think is interesting" purposes.

So the jerkier stuff on profile pages has always been more the weird dark lining on the feature, and specific cases of really crazy outlier behavior have been so rare that as much as we have sort of collectively furrowed our mod brows at the cases that do come up, we haven't gotten to the point of changing the standing policy that you can basically do what you want with your page, even if what you want to do sometimes is act like a butthead.

Revisiting that is something we can talk about. It gets tricky at the point we start talking about moderating profile page content, though, because it's not a bunch of comments in a thread, it's a single free-form page. Do we decide to unilaterally blank a profile page with any amount of obnoxious commentary? Do we unilaterally excise just the problematic bits? Do we ask the user nicely? (That, at least, is something we have done once or twice, though it's not a super winning strategy because people usually aren't being jerks by accident in that context.) Do we hide the page until their edit, on their own time, passes muster? Do we flag profile pages for future monitoring if someone's had a bad attitude? Etc. There's a lot of questions we've had to sort of mull when even chewing on the idea in the past, and to date we've never really gotten to the point where the answers felt solid enough and the change felt justified enough to go there.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:08 PM on March 19, 2014 [4 favorites]


I can start that thread...

Could you maybe do it a little later unless there's a time sensitive nature to it? Like in a few days? We pretty much try to not be all "Hey, it's hard out there for a mod" but this thread has been particularly difficult and I'd like a breather before we try to tackle a policy issue. Using specific examples is fine.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:08 PM on March 19, 2014 [8 favorites]


but this thread has been particularly difficult

You mods have done a particularly good job helping to guide this conversation, I think. Thanks.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 3:11 PM on March 19, 2014 [11 favorites]


Of course! Would be happy to wait.

cortex' answer was pretty enlightening. (Thank you, cortex.) It hadn't occurred to me that you'd need both a set of rules in place for how to deal with those situations, and a set of tools available to enact them.
posted by zarq at 3:12 PM on March 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


I have over 26600 favorites (given, not received.)

I gotta ask, zarq: how are you even using any of them for bookmarks then? Are you using a script? I don't understand the logistics :)

Also:
So you stop people from attacking each other everywhere else on the site but on profile pages?

There was an incident in, what, 2003 or 2004 when somebody wrote up a burn book on their profile page and it was erased, so I'm pretty sure there's precedent.
posted by furiousthought at 3:16 PM on March 19, 2014


but I'm a little concerned that it would set off a witch-hunt (or set me up for dismissive "this never happens" responses) if I don't provide specific example(s) of problematically pugnacious profile pages

There being a fair number of Metatalk's most frequent contributors in this thread currently I would like to hope that this could be avoided mostly by your pointing over here in a 'As suggested by a few users and the mods here, I would like to begin the following discussion:' way.
posted by shakesp