Turning on the Metatalk queue May 30, 2014 11:10 AM   Subscribe

To help reduce the strain of managing the site with fewer mods, we're going to switch on the Metatalk post queue full time starting today. More details on that within. Also: have you updated your email address in your preferences recently?

We've used the Metatalk queue several times over the last few years, to help prevent unexpected Metatalk messes during holiday weekends and other low-mod-availability periods. As we transition this week to operating with fewer mods, limited availability is closer to the default state than the exception to it, and so we're switching to an always-queued state for Metatalk posts to lighten the load a bit.

What this means:

1. A moderator will need to explicitly approve a post before it will go up. If there's a problem with a post, we'll do our best to contact you promptly to let you know; reasonably speaking that may be an hour or so if things are busy.

2. Based on past experiences with the queue, most metatalk posts will be approved as soon as someone has a chance to review them. We'll receive email notification when a post is submitted, so most of the delay for posts will be smallish and just the result of the mod on duty having other stuff going on.

3. If a post is likely to be a lot of work at a time when we're especially stretched thin, we may need to delay it on the order of hours or a day or two; weekends especially will likely be times where we'll need to for sanity's sake hold something until Monday. We'll contact you to let you know about this.

4. If a post is just not workable as submitted, or should have been a contact form issue in the first place, we'll contact you and let you know what the situation is and work out how to proceed from there (i.e. whether it's something to just discuss with mods, or something that can be rewritten/reframed to be more workable). Things that fall into this category represent the small fraction of Metatalk posts that have tended to be deleted or closed immediately; we don't foresee a significant change in what folks can expect to discuss/broach on Metatalk, including complaints and criticism about site policy and moderation, etc., we'll just be trying to help prevent trainwrecks up front rather than after the fact.

The goal is to keep Metatalk an active and central part of the community discussion and feedback process while helping reduce the incidence and intensity of the headaches that can come from a contentious metatalk showing up when we're short on resources to be around and attentive.

Is your email address in your profile current?

One recurring theme in the above list is that we will do our best to contact you if there's any sort of delay or issue with a post, which means it is very helpful for us and for you if your email address associated with your account is current. If you have an old or out-of-date or fake email address in your profile, we can't reach you as reliably.

That goes for contact form communications as well; if you contact us and the address your profile provides won't actually get to you, we can't reliably get you a response. We write back to folks sometimes only to get a bounce message, which is no help in either direction.

So as a general reminder, check the email address listed in your site preferences if you haven't in a while (for some of you this might mean "in the last decade") and make sure it's a working address that you check regularly.
posted by cortex to Etiquette/Policy at 11:10 AM (262 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

*Pours out a 40 for angry MeTas*
posted by planetesimal at 11:19 AM on May 30, 2014 [52 favorites]


This is probably a long-overdue step, and the only thing bad about it that I can see is that it needed to be taken on account of our having to lose three moderators.

Seriously, to anyone who has never emailed the mod team with a concern or question before running straight to Metatalk - do so. They are always helpful, prompt and pleasant.
posted by Curious Artificer at 11:21 AM on May 30, 2014 [21 favorites]


*waits for the mods to approve pouring out a 40*, you mean.
posted by Etrigan at 11:21 AM on May 30, 2014 [20 favorites]


*Vacuums up a 40 for future angry MeTas*
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:21 AM on May 30, 2014 [11 favorites]


I love this idea.
posted by MoonOrb at 11:27 AM on May 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


Waiting period? But I'm mad now!!
posted by Elly Vortex at 11:29 AM on May 30, 2014 [57 favorites]


*cues up U2's 40 *

I waited patiently for the mod
She inclined and heard my cry
She brought me up out of the pit
Out of the fighty thread

I will post, post a new one
posted by scody at 11:30 AM on May 30, 2014 [13 favorites]


Yeah, I know this isn't a cheer-ocracy nor am I he cheer-tator, but I am also very rah-rah about this turn of events.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:30 AM on May 30, 2014 [8 favorites]


I'll go against the grain and admit that I really dislike this idea.
posted by lalex at 11:31 AM on May 30, 2014 [16 favorites]


I'll go against the idea and admit that I really dislike grains.

other than that, I think it a good move.
posted by lampshade at 11:32 AM on May 30, 2014 [3 favorites]


lalex, why do you dislike?
posted by Michele in California at 11:33 AM on May 30, 2014


If one good thing had to come out of all of this, this is it.

Of course, I'm hoping that many more good things will come out of all this and this is one of the smaller niceties.
posted by batmonkey at 11:34 AM on May 30, 2014


Coincidentally, malt liquor brewers also dislike grains.
posted by planetesimal at 11:34 AM on May 30, 2014 [3 favorites]


This seems like a good move. There is probably the odd edge-case where it's not ideal, but I reckon that's true for most things in life.
posted by rtha at 11:35 AM on May 30, 2014 [3 favorites]


I don't like this change, and I hope if fortunes turn around it is reversed, but it makes sense for now.
posted by Drinky Die at 11:35 AM on May 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


I am 100% for this, and would have been even without the change in mod availability.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 11:36 AM on May 30, 2014


After last week's n-word in a MetaTalk post, I'm looking forward to this, because man is managing those kinds of threads a total shitshow for several days on end.

I know some will fear we're silencing dissent or fear we're only going to approve pro-MeFi posts, but I know I will gladly approve the most critical posts of the site, the community, or our behaviors, because it will lead to improving MeFi. To silence any viewpoints via moderation of the MetaTalk queue would be foolish for any of us mods to do, and for now you'll have to trust us on it, but I think you won't see much of a change in posts that end up on MetaTalk, just the occasional fighty/drunk/charged flameout post won't go up immediately.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 11:39 AM on May 30, 2014 [59 favorites]


I'm honestly surprised that this wasn't always the case, from the very beginning. There's been some really bullshitty or stupid MeTas... of which i submitted some.

The only reason i can see for disliking this is crappy "I want to be able to call people out without anyone holding me back" SILENCED ALL MY LIFE type reasons and... ugh, we need less of that.
posted by emptythought at 11:39 AM on May 30, 2014 [12 favorites]


I think this is a good and sensible thing.

Not necessarily advocating it, but just wondering is the queuing system likely to be applied to the Metafilter front pages at all?
posted by Faintdreams at 11:41 AM on May 30, 2014


Finally.
posted by cjorgensen at 11:42 AM on May 30, 2014


Not necessarily advocating it, but just wondering is the queuing system likely to be applied to the Metafilter front pages at all?

That's not something we've talked about really, no. The issues with iffy posts on the front page tend to be less immediately potent and less personal, and generally folks are great at flagging the dickens out of the OMG THIS IS A PROBLEM ones in a promptness and volume that makes dealing with them as retroactive deletes pretty workable.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:44 AM on May 30, 2014


just wondering is the queuing system likely to be applied to the Metafilter front pages at all?

Naw, ideally we would have done that a couple years ago when we used to have 2-3 moderators overlapping time watching the site all the time. We're stretching out to a single person on duty now and though we could conceptually still do a MeFi queue, it's tough to get a second opinion on approving a post if you have to wait six hours for other people to wake up on the other side of the world.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 11:44 AM on May 30, 2014


I'm pretty happy with this move personally; even without a reduced workforce, contentious MeTas have always benefitted from having one or more mods around to clarify and keep an eye on things, and this just makes sure the scheduling works out. I can see how the "squashing dissent" angle could be an issue, but I think the mods have shown enough forthrightness (and fortitude) in accepting and dealing with criticism and have earned themselves a little benefit of the doubt.

Plus, knowing our userbase, if there were any sort of pattern where people are submitting critical MetaTalks and not getting approved, we would hear about it fairly quickly.

Not that I'm accusing us of being combative or anything. Not at all.
posted by Phire at 11:45 AM on May 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


just the occasional fighty/drunk/charged flameout post won't go up immediately.

Not sarcasm: I appreciate that this means that these posts will go up EVENTUALLY. I especially appreciate being able to have those conversations in MetaTalk instead of disrupting threads with them and I think they can be a good opportunity to have actual conversations about how we all interact with the site. This seems pretty reasonable to me and I trust the mods here enough to believe that they won't actually silence people all their lives.

I DO think there's a chance we'll get MetaTalk threads that are "I wasn't allowed to post a previous MetaTalk thread and it is CENSORSHIP" and I appreciate participating somewhere where I believe those will actually be allowed.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 11:47 AM on May 30, 2014 [5 favorites]


I honestly don't even understand why people would think this is intent to censor critique of the way things are run. Most online communities do not even have an established method for getting this kind of feedback which MeTa is clearly the purpose of. And Matt obviously understands the importance of keeping those lines of communication open.

The mind boggles.
posted by Michele in California at 11:51 AM on May 30, 2014 [13 favorites]


But how will people post pointless rage-fests at 3 pm on the Friday before a holiday?

Wait hold on I think that may be a feature not a bug.
posted by winna at 11:51 AM on May 30, 2014


Yeah, now that I have my urge to make Bring It On reference out of my system*, more seriously, the part of me that has the gut reaction of "don't silence anyone" realizes that it is vastly outweighed by the part of me that feels we'll still see plenty of angry dissent in MetaTalk. And this pleases me. I want angry dissent. I just want angry dissent that isn't a train wreck out of the gates.


* - Just kidding. That urge will only be out of me when I am dead. And that is only presuming that I'll have better things to do when I'm haunting you all than reference movies. Which is probably pretty unlikely tbh.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:52 AM on May 30, 2014 [3 favorites]


To be honest, I prefer the transparency of an instant MetaTalk queue.

I understand why you're doing this, and agree that making your lives easier is very important. And many of us remember what a disaster some metatalk threads wound up turning into when moderators weren't on duty.

However, I hope you don't have to make this change permanent, long-term.
posted by zarq at 11:52 AM on May 30, 2014 [11 favorites]


I think this is a good idea mostly because I know how the back end works and I implicitly trust that it's not going to quash dissent in any noticeable way.

What I think it will do is temper the "OMG I am so pissed and I just need to post an angry callout as my first line of defense" threads we've seen which are not only not productive but tend to bring out the worst in basically everyone.

My concern would be that in the past the queue was mainly so that posts could be held til "someone was around" to keep an eye on it during thinly staffed times. Now that all times are more thinly staffed times I just think it's worth being mindful of making sure there is a fair process to ensure that most posts eventually get through the queue and out to the users. And that the queue disappear if staffing comes back to former levels.

I hope it also encourages more folks to email and to flag stuff in the first place and give the mods a chance to actually work things out before coming here in a pique because things aren't handles quickly enough.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 11:52 AM on May 30, 2014 [15 favorites]


There is probably the odd edge-case where it's not ideal,

I'm going to stretch way out and predict that 'dragging up barely-related issues in order to fight about it' is going to increase.

To be honest, I prefer the transparency of an instant MetaTalk queue.

Make the queue visible to logged-in members!
posted by the man of twists and turns at 11:52 AM on May 30, 2014 [4 favorites]


But how will people post pointless rage-fests at 3 pm on the Friday before a holiday?

We're having a meeting right now to discuss several methods and strategies.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:53 AM on May 30, 2014 [25 favorites]


What happens when two people post Metas about the same incident? Obviously one would get approved and the other would not. Will the person who posted the "double" still lose their ability to post to Metatalk for a week if they were unaware a double was in the queue?
posted by zarq at 11:56 AM on May 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


C'mon man.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:59 AM on May 30, 2014 [6 favorites]


the man of twists and turns: "Make the queue visible to logged-in members!"

Aaaaaand.
posted by zarq at 12:02 PM on May 30, 2014 [6 favorites]


Maybe I'm overly optimistic but I think nudging the perception of MetaTalk away from being a wild west will have a positive effect on policy discussions, not a negative one.
posted by Lorin at 12:02 PM on May 30, 2014 [13 favorites]


While my Personal Entertainment Department is somewhat dismayed, I think this is a very good idea.

I should probably cut back on popcorn anyway.
posted by Lutoslawski at 12:03 PM on May 30, 2014 [13 favorites]


My concern would be that in the past the queue was mainly so that posts could be held til "someone was around" to keep an eye on it during thinly staffed times. Now that all times are more thinly staffed times I just think it's worth being mindful of making sure there is a fair process to ensure that most posts eventually get through the queue and out to the users.

Yeah, that's part of what we were talking about today (and OH MY GOD JESSAMYN IT'S WEIRD NOT TO HAVE BEEN TALKING TO YOU DURING THAT, WHAT IS THIS STRANGE NEW WORLD) while trying to firm up some of the stuff in the numbered list in the post. One thing that's definitely different with this plan is that intent to be pretty promptly communicative about anything that's gotta get deferred, vs. previously where holiday weekend meant in part that you might be stuck waiting a day or two for even a response about the delay because we were literally all drunk at barbecues or traveling or whatever.

I figure we'll have to see to what degree and in what ways a long-term queue ends up feeling different from the short queue runs we've had previously; some stuff may become obvious over time that wasn't before and we'll see about tweaking/elaborating the general guidelines and expectations from the post accordingly.

Will the person who posted the "double" still lose their ability to post to Metatalk for a week if they were unaware a double was in the queue?

At the moment that's purely a code question. I'd guess the answer is "yes", but that's just a guess about which switches get flipped when. If it turns out to be an issue in practice we can look at tweaking it accordingly.

Make the queue visible to logged-in members!

Ha.

No.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:07 PM on May 30, 2014 [19 favorites]


I understand the pushback on this one, and I also see how it could be necessary with the new staffing situation. What troubles me is how there's a teeny part of me that is sad because the occasional trainwreck MeTas are so much fun to watch (I am so ashamed)
posted by Mchelly at 12:08 PM on May 30, 2014 [9 favorites]


I've been silenced all my life, so I don't see any reason to get upset about being silenced now.

Just kidding. I think this is a good move and I support it. Mods, you're fantastic and your difficult, diligent work is appreciated.
posted by The World Famous at 12:10 PM on May 30, 2014 [5 favorites]


cortex: " At the moment that's purely a code question. I'd guess the answer is "yes", but that's just a guess about which switches get flipped when. If it turns out to be an issue in practice we can look at tweaking it accordingly."

I was (mostly) joking. Don't worry about it. It was the first thing that entered my brain when Jessamyn started talking about things not being handled quickly enough. :)
posted by zarq at 12:11 PM on May 30, 2014


lalex, why do you dislike?

What zarq said.

Plus I will miss "Take it to MeTa"/"MetaTalk is your option" as a pressure release valve in contentious threads on the blue/green.
posted by lalex at 12:17 PM on May 30, 2014 [6 favorites]


I've got two ideas about this: one is some form of transparency for blocked MeTas would maybe help it go down smoother, and the other is a no backsies rule - people who post a silly rageMeTa have to watch it go up and get shot down a couple of hours later when they're sober.
posted by Dr Dracator at 12:17 PM on May 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


one is some form of transparency for blocked MeTas

Yeah, this would be great.
posted by lalex at 12:19 PM on May 30, 2014 [4 favorites]


I both love this idea and worry that it will encourage aggressive threadshittery.

im so conflicted
posted by elizardbits at 12:20 PM on May 30, 2014 [3 favorites]


Plus I will miss "Take it to MeTa"/"MetaTalk is your option" as a pressure release valve in contentious threads on the blue/green.

To be clear, that isn't going away as a route for relocating metacommentary or derail stuff as historically used. Taking it to Metatalk will still very much be an encouraged option in those scenarios, and in the case where a mod is specifically suggesting it it's safe to say we'll have the possibility of someone choosing to do so very much in mind as we're saying it.

Like I said in the post, most metatalk posts will still basically go straight through as soon as we see 'em rather than being intentionally delayed for mod-resource reasons; on the quick side that could be a minute; on the long side maybe an hour or so.

Folks who react to the existence of a metatalk queue by failing to rein in behavior that needs reining in are failing to do a good job of engaging with the site exactly as they would have been without the queue. It's separate issues, and we very much are not saying "hey, threadshitting is awesome now!" with this.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:22 PM on May 30, 2014 [5 favorites]


I both love this idea and worry that it will encourage aggressive threadshittery.

I know this will be unpopular for a certain segment of MeFites, but I'm hoping that this means less leeway for repeat offenses/offenders when it comes to threadshitting.
posted by zombieflanders at 12:23 PM on May 30, 2014 [3 favorites]


Deleted metatalk posts will probably still show up in the greasemonkey script. They do now. We can just ask the mods to put in their usual deletion reasons. Like, "I handled this over memail. ~Cortex"
posted by zarq at 12:24 PM on May 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


Or, "Member no longer wants to cleanse the site with fire. ~taz"
posted by zarq at 12:26 PM on May 30, 2014 [15 favorites]


Deleted metas will probably still show up in the greasemonkey script.

No, queued MetaTalk threads that are not posted to the site will not show up via the Greasemonkey script. Deleted MetaTalk posts showed up prior to this change because they were public at one time. This won't be the case for queued posts that aren't approved.
posted by pb (staff) at 12:27 PM on May 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


Deleted metas will probably still show up in the greasemonkey script. They do now. We can just ask the mods to put in their usual deletion reasons. Like, "I handled this over memail. ~Cortex"

I don't think that's going to happen, but maybe I am misunderstanding the process here? My understanding is that the unapproved MeTas won't actually post and thus not be picked up by the script.
posted by lalex at 12:27 PM on May 30, 2014


one is some form of transparency for blocked MeTas

I hear this and don't really disagree with the motivation, but I don't think something along the lines of e.g. showing unapproved Metatalk posts somewhere is a good idea, if that's what you mean.

Transparency on this to me basically comes down to:

- us communicating clearly and as promptly as we can with posters about delays or non-starter issues with their posts
- us working with them to reframe/rework/etc a post if they want to talk to the community about something but did a really problematic job with some aspect of the post
- us being willing to talk about the process itself in here with folks
- us being willing to answer questions about stuff over the contact form for folks who need specific details

Basically, trusting us to be honest about the process in general and to be communicative with you specifically if it was your post.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:28 PM on May 30, 2014 [4 favorites]


OH MY GOD JESSAMYN IT'S WEIRD NOT TO HAVE BEEN TALKING TO YOU DURING THAT, WHAT IS THIS STRANGE NEW WORLD

It was weird to see there just be a MeTa thread here that I hadn't first read in email. And I have a small frisson of "wheee not my problem!" that I am confused by...

posted by jessamyn (retired) at 12:28 PM on May 30, 2014 [59 favorites]


if you want to like hack in an animated .gif of someone munching popcorn I think you get a freebie
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:29 PM on May 30, 2014 [26 favorites]


showing unapproved Metatalk posts somewhere is a good idea

Yeah, it would be a prime stunt-posting sidechannel.
posted by Dr Dracator at 12:30 PM on May 30, 2014 [3 favorites]


Deleted metatalk posts will probably still show up in the greasemonkey script.

Except MetaTalk posts are rarely deleted.

MetaTalk is a different animal than MetaFilter and AskMe, where the post or question can be a bad fit and thus get deleted, whereas MetaTalk posts will just get closed for the most part, to serve as a marker that "this discussion happened, and now it is over."

Has queuing MeTa posts ever been an issue before? This is the first time I remember such push-back on the queue, but I realize now it's due to low staffing.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:30 PM on May 30, 2014


(and also my quoting is bad but anyway)
posted by Dr Dracator at 12:31 PM on May 30, 2014


I'm defiantly indifferent to this, but I can't see a huge problem with it. Except for fewer trainwrecks to see, maybe. One does so love a good trainwreck now and then.
posted by octobersurprise at 12:31 PM on May 30, 2014 [4 favorites]


- showing unapproved Metatalk posts somewhere is a good idea

- Yeah, it would be a prime stunt-posting sidechannel.


Exactly. Even if there's a MetaTalk from a mod at some point, listing the threads that didn't happen, then that MeTa post becomes the venue in which to discuss the unposted threads.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:32 PM on May 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


Ah. Thanks for clarifying, pb.
posted by zarq at 12:33 PM on May 30, 2014


Personally think this is a good idea for the permanence, irrelevant of whether Matt has a legion of mods, or whether it's just him and his cat.

As well as reducing the number of breakup-in-a-restaurant* emotional level threads I've regretted time-sinking in, it'll also reduce, maybe even eliminate, Kasparov's "Hall Monitor in two moves" play** which is increasingly common in the GoT***:

Post by X: "It is really sucky that the mods deleted this comment, which was in no way controversial. Sucky sucky sucky."

Comment 1 by Y: "Did you use the contact form before posting this?"

Comment 2 by Z: "Hey, Y: who made you hall monitor?"

+++++

* - I've been in a minor train accident so the trainwreck analogy doesn't work for me.
** - Everything in life can be modeled as a game.
*** - Game of Talk.
posted by Wordshore at 12:34 PM on May 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


Absolutely horrendous idea. When the pressure builds up in a thread on the blue and there's no relief valve available for an undetermined amount of time, people are just going to shit where they can, which will make for some rank Metafilter threads.
posted by gman at 12:34 PM on May 30, 2014 [6 favorites]


I totally trust you guys and think this is a great idea, but I do kind of wish that we could still have a system where everything gets through, even if it get posted greyed out and insta-closed. As it is right now, we have a lot of Metatalks that probably SHOULD be dealt with in the contact form, but I'm glad there's a spot on this site where even the craziest of us can get up on a soapbox and air our grievances, even if we are quickly shouted down.

Is the idea of a queue with a 100% passthrough rate (even BUTTS LOL posts) entirely off the table?
posted by 256 at 12:35 PM on May 30, 2014


This is the first time I remember such push-back on the queue, but I realize now it's due to low staffing.

There's been a little bit of pushback or voicing of concerns about it in the past, mostly in reference to the possibility of it becoming permanent. Which we understood going in, and I really do sympathize with that a little bit because in my ideal world we'd be so abundantly staffed and mefites so universally possessed of self-control and constant good judgement that we'd never have to worry about either a trainwreck coming in or our ability to respond promptly to it if it did.

For where we are in practice, the queue feels like a better approach than no queue, but that's a pragmatic decision and not one that we expect to see universal approval for. I do get where folks with reservations are coming from.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:35 PM on May 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


Metafilter: so universally possessed of self-control and constant good judgement.
posted by Melismata at 12:37 PM on May 30, 2014


Wait, aren't like 80% of contentious MetaTalks the direct and immediate result of something going bad in a thread? "This discussion is getting overheated for the Blue, take it to Metatalk and we'll see if we can talk it out / dispel steam a couple of days from now?"
posted by ormondsacker at 12:38 PM on May 30, 2014


I think this is basically a very good idea, but to go with it I'd also like to see a part of the deleted threads blog for unapproved Metatalk posts which would only exclude the posts people changed their minds about submitting in the first place, or which were clearly the result of a disturbed state of mind and might hold the poster up to ridicule if included.

I wasn't aware of the AskMe deleted blog until well after it began, but when I found it I went through an entire year of question deletions at a sitting and was shocked not to find even two deletions I really disagreed with-- I had taken it for granted that there were many deletions I wouldn't have liked if I only knew about them, and it did me a lot of good to know how wrong that was.
posted by jamjam at 12:39 PM on May 30, 2014 [3 favorites]


Absolutely horrendous idea. When the pressure builds up in a thread on the blue and there's no relief valve available for an undetermined amount of time, people are just going to shit where they can, which will make for some rank Metafilter threads.

If that actually happens, they can either revisit the queue idea or come up with some other avenue for addressing it and expecting people to behave like adults. Plus they said "take it to MeTa" will still be an option and I imagine if the mods actually say that, it will likely be rapidly approved. No?

and mefites so universally possessed of self-control and constant good judgement

AH HA HA HA HA

-- one of the guilty parties, for, um, medical reasons
posted by Michele in California at 12:41 PM on May 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


When the pressure builds up in a thread on the blue and there's no relief valve available for an undetermined amount of time, people are just going to shit where they can...

Discovered a while back (though regularly forget) that turning off the computer, stepping out of the house and going for a walk is a pretty rad alternative, as the young people I believe say. There's nature and stuff outside, birds and trees and views and walks and lakes and things, and it's pleasantly distracting from "X wrote Y and grrrr". Or if you can't manage that, look out of the window for a bit.

Nature: there for you even when There Is Something Wrong On The MetaFilter.
posted by Wordshore at 12:42 PM on May 30, 2014 [8 favorites]


I like this. Whatever makes life even a little bit easier for the mods, given the staff reduction, I'm on board.
posted by palomar at 12:42 PM on May 30, 2014


Is the idea of a queue with a 100% passthrough rate (even BUTTS LOL posts) entirely off the table?

It mostly doesn't make a lot of sense to me to try and aim for that specific goal. We don't have 100% passthrough rate even under the no-queue system; some small fraction of posts are steaming piles that get rapidly deleted or closed and don't actually make the site a better place for anybody for having gotten that brief blippy moment in the sun.

but I'm glad there's a spot on this site where even the craziest of us can get up on a soapbox and air our grievances, even if we are quickly shouted down

I basically am, too. I think one of the tricky things there is that I really think it's important for people to be able to state their however-unpopular-they-might-be site-related grievances but I don't think it's essential that come with the baggage of skirting the line of framing it just slightly unhorribly enough to not quite get deleted, etc. Which is where the narrow fraction that leaves us short of 100% passthrough comes in; and honestly I think it would be better if someone with a legit grievance but terrible framing got a chance to slow down, reframe a little more productively, and then have a metatalk that's about their actual issue rather than about how terrible their presentation of it was.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:42 PM on May 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


Wordshore: Nature: there for you even when There Is Something Wrong On The MetaFilter.

Lovely idea, but in practice most people seem incapable of remembering that they're just fuckin' words on a screen.
posted by gman at 12:45 PM on May 30, 2014


This may be off topic, but am I the only one who is relieved to see Jessamyn still has a tag, even if it's "retired"?
posted by corb at 12:45 PM on May 30, 2014 [17 favorites]


just wondering is the queuing system likely to be applied to the Metafilter front pages at all?

The mods have shown a great reluctance to delete things from MetaTalk. On MetaFilter, that's not the case - if a post looks like it's going to be a shitshow, blammo, gone.

I've been silenced all my life, so I don't see any reason to get upset about being silenced now

Quiet, you!
posted by aubilenon at 12:46 PM on May 30, 2014


This makes logistical sense, and I get that it's necessary because of the lower staffing level.

Personally, though, I think it goes against the site's ethos, because it's a move toward less transparency and heavier moderation.

I also think that it's counterproductive in terms of what MetaTalk is for, which is at least somewhat to blow of steam and feel heard without derailing other discussions on the blue or green. Just knowing that you have the (definite, immediate) option to take a discussion to MetaTalk is an important pressure release valve, I think, even (especially?) if you don't end up availing yourself of it.

Again, I get why there's going to be a queue, I trust the moderators to err on the side of letting things through and moving through that queue as fast as possible and all of that. However, not having a queue seems more in line with MetaFilter's philosophy (toward moderation, community involvement, toward transparency, etc) and with the goals of MetaTalk, and I hope this is just a stop-gap and doesn't become permanent.
posted by rue72 at 1:15 PM on May 30, 2014 [9 favorites]


people are just going to shit where they can, which will make for some rank Metafilter threads.

This won't take away the mods ability to delete comments.
posted by Gygesringtone at 1:21 PM on May 30, 2014 [7 favorites]


On the bright side, this should eliminate all the incredibly annoying "DID YOU USE THE CONTACT FORM?!?!?" early comments.
posted by lalex at 1:24 PM on May 30, 2014 [23 favorites]


Y'all are going to keep a record, right? Of MeTa posts that don't get posted and how the issue was resolved? Because somebody someday is going to make a stink about how everything has changed for the worse now that you are not letting ANYONE post AT ALL on MetaTalk.

(Hey dude, link back to this prediction when you post that, ok?)

I have no problem with the queue, I just think you'll need to be able to show people how it's working at some point.

Keep up the good work!
posted by SLC Mom at 1:30 PM on May 30, 2014


Gygesringtone: This won't take away the mods ability to delete comments.

Of course not, but if the staff has basically been cut in half and there are several contentious threads going on at once, these things pile up. One person gets pissed, several people jump on that person, and before you know it, the thread is out of control. Not to mention the fact that if the only place a person has to vent at the time, is on the blue, they are going to keep shitting until they are temp-banned in order to stop them from stinking up a thread. The more comments that get deleted, the more those people are going to want to bring it over here. I just can't see this going well at all.
posted by gman at 1:34 PM on May 30, 2014 [3 favorites]


I was going to make a joke about how now there's a moderated meta queue that I wanted my money back, but I was afraid someone might take me seriously, or worse, give me my money back.
posted by cjorgensen at 1:41 PM on May 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


Y'all are going to keep a record, right? Of MeTa posts that don't get posted and how the issue was resolved?

Yep, rejected queue stuff sticks around in the database for perpetuity.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:41 PM on May 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


BUT WHAT ABOUT WHEN THE MODS ARE ALL HITLER?!?!?!
posted by klangklangston at 1:43 PM on May 30, 2014 [20 favorites]


I've been silenced all my life, mostly due to the fact that I thought I would be able to un-silence myself at any time as I so choose, and now that this isn't the case I am truly

Silenced All My Life, Guys. All Of It. In Perpetuity.
posted by Sara C. at 1:47 PM on May 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


If only.
posted by planetesimal at 1:50 PM on May 30, 2014 [11 favorites]


If only.

yea! that's the spirit. way to contribute.
posted by sweetkid at 1:55 PM on May 30, 2014 [7 favorites]


Not to mention the fact that if the only place a person has to vent at the time, is on the blue, they are going to keep shitting until they are temp-banned in order to stop them from stinking up a thread.

I do not consider people who get sufficiently out of control to the point where they'll willfully shit up a thread if denied instant gratification Metatalk posting to be who we're trying to accommodate with policy decisions around here. A meltdown is a meltdown and that has a lot more to do with crappy behavior than it does with a possible delay on Metatalk post approval, and we'll deal with it as a behavioral problem as it comes up.

If that means getting time off, it means getting time off. I have zero problem responding to some notional increased level of shitty behavior with a proportional increase in willingness to tell someone to take the night off. To whatever extent that actually occurs, which I'm not feeling nearly as doomy about speaking from the actually-wrangling-that-stuff position.

People have always and will always have bad days, bad tempers, bad decisions, etc; we have always and will always deal with that as it comes up. The proportion of site behavior that's characterizable as the kind of run-away meltdown shitbombing in question is a tiny fraction of what goes on here, and it's bumpy when it happens but we'll deal with it.

Folks in general doing a good job of flagging and moving on and being mindful of not escalating when someone's spoiling for a fight will have enormously more impact on those dynamics than the question of whether a metatalk thread will pop open as soon as someone hits post vs. five or fifteen minutes later in most cases.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:58 PM on May 30, 2014 [20 favorites]


I don't do a lot of MeTas but as someone who occasionally is an impatient, grouchy mess because of medical stuff and long history of said medical stuff causing various forms of social baggage, I see zero reason why having to wait a few minutes would make for problems. It might even make for folks going "Um, never mind!" if their reason for posting it was basically to blow off steam. I don't really think blowing off steam is a great use of MeTa. A walk around the block is a better way to deal with 'oh, god, I am about the blow a gasket right NOW" type feelings. MeTa works better when some kind of more meaningful issue is being discussed than just "At the moment, I have the emotional maturity of a three year old and I would like to share that with the world. Thank you for listening." (Personally, I try like hell actually to NOT share when I am feeling like I have the emotional maturity of a 3 year old or to do so only in a humorous, poking fun at myself way.)
posted by Michele in California at 2:12 PM on May 30, 2014 [4 favorites]


cortex: "I do not consider people who get sufficiently out of control to the point where they'll willfully shit up a thread if denied instant gratification Metatalk posting to be who we're trying to accommodate with policy decisions around here."

I should be more clear, I'm talking about people arguing back-and-forth about things that are "Take it to MeTa" worthy, which is quite frequent.

"...than the question of whether a metatalk thread will pop open as soon as someone hits post vs. five or fifteen minutes later in most cases."

Ah, I guess that's where my confusion lies because I thought it might take longer than ten minutes or so to be approved if it was going to be contentious and you didn't have the staff needed to handle the MeTa.
posted by gman at 2:13 PM on May 30, 2014


BUT WHAT ABOUT WHEN THE MODS ARE ALL HITLER?!?!?!

They form a heavy metal rap band and drop some sweet beats.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:15 PM on May 30, 2014


Is it safe to assume that you no longer have time to monitor and laugh at the live feed of previewed comments that never get posted? Because if so I will stop trying to entertain you that way.
posted by George_Spiggott at 2:19 PM on May 30, 2014 [3 favorites]


jessamyn: "And I have a small frisson of "wheee not my problem!" that I am confused by..."

That is the opposite of frission.


also:

whither vacapinta?
posted by boo_radley at 2:30 PM on May 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


This may be off topic, but am I the only one who is relieved to see Jessamyn still has a tag, even if it's "retired"?

It will help gather data on her migration patterns.
posted by hippybear at 2:34 PM on May 30, 2014 [31 favorites]


Is it safe to assume that you no longer have time to monitor and laugh at the live feed of previewed comments that never get posted?

Oh lord someone please reassure me this isn't a thing.
posted by winna at 2:39 PM on May 30, 2014 [3 favorites]


If you look at the screen when you're typing, the mods can actually see what you're thinking about posting.
posted by Greg Nog at 2:42 PM on May 30, 2014 [6 favorites]


oh god i hope it's real i hope someone is seeing my important sekrit messages
posted by elizardbits at 2:44 PM on May 30, 2014 [7 favorites]


WEINERS WEINERS
posted by elizardbits at 2:44 PM on May 30, 2014 [4 favorites]


shit
posted by elizardbits at 2:44 PM on May 30, 2014 [5 favorites]


SILENCED FOR A BRIEF PERIOD OF TIME
posted by billiebee at 2:45 PM on May 30, 2014 [14 favorites]


That is the opposite of frission.

What is frission?
posted by heyho at 2:47 PM on May 30, 2014


it's when french subatomic particles do the do
posted by elizardbits at 2:51 PM on May 30, 2014 [13 favorites]


Oh lord someone please reassure me this isn't a thing.

Sorry, just made it up to be funny.

Of course that doesn't prove it doesn't exist.

FYI, people who don't take an interest in how web servers work (i.e normal people) might not be aware that previews do make the round trip from your computer to the server, so it is technically possible for someone on the server to see them, if A) some convenient way to do so has been implemented on purpose, or B) that person has root privileges and can monitor network traffic.

I don't even suspect A) to be the case for an instant, and B) is vastly more trouble than it's worth for anyone but an incredibly bored lunatic. Think what a godawful amount of shit you'd have to look at. But of course it's worth knowing that the traffic does exist so, y'know, evil NSA don't talk about those, ahem, supplles in the basement just because you think nobody will see it.
posted by George_Spiggott at 2:52 PM on May 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


previews do make the round trip from your computer to the server

Not always though right? Like there are ways to do AJAX-y stuff that just appears on screen and never hits the server at all, right? Facebook totally does this (they know what you type and don't post) but MeFi definitely doesn't.

vacapinta is still skulking around.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 3:00 PM on May 30, 2014


might not be aware that previews do make the round trip from your computer to the server

I'm not sure this is true. Unplug your ethernet cable or disable the WiFi and the live preview box still functions like normal.
posted by nobody at 3:00 PM on May 30, 2014


heyho: "What is frission?"

"we're here at clocks museum. Here is the clocks science man. Clocks science man, what is frission???" * squints *
posted by boo_radley at 3:01 PM on May 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


"What is frission?"

I don't know, but reddit describes frisson as "that hit me right in the feels" and I think that is about right.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 3:04 PM on May 30, 2014 [4 favorites]


It refers to the splitting of atoms in the northwestern Netherlands.
posted by Wolfdog at 3:08 PM on May 30, 2014 [4 favorites]


Not always though right? Like there are ways to do AJAX-y stuff that just appears on screen and never hits the server at all, right?

Definitely. Not even AJAX (which implies a round trip), just local javascript. But that's not what the preview button does here; and that's typical because you want to see your comment in the context of other comments which may have been posted since you started composing it. It's certainly possible to submit in such a way that it can fetch new comments and then position your proposed comment at the end without ever sending it, but that would be very unusual.

I'm not sure this is true. Unplug your ethernet cable or disable the WiFi and the live preview box still functions like normal.

Yeah, live preview is local to your browser; it's the Preview button that I was referring to.
posted by George_Spiggott at 3:09 PM on May 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm mostly excited about this feature for the off-the-deep-end lunacy of someone seeing their MeTa was queued, then immediately posting their angry comments as an FPP, an askme, a Projects post, and in Jobs. Which would be great, because then people would be using Jobs more!
posted by Greg Nog at 3:13 PM on May 30, 2014 [10 favorites]



cortex: "It mostly doesn't make a lot of sense to me to try and aim for that specific goal. We don't have 100% passthrough rate even under the no-queue system; some small fraction of posts are steaming piles that get rapidly deleted or closed and don't actually make the site a better place for anybody for having gotten that brief blippy moment in the sun."
I am not really concerned about the queue as a thing, but I am concerned about exactly this temptation as a thing that comes with the queue.

I think these occasional steaming piles of shit in MetaTalk, that are appropriately shut down but still visible, really do contribute something deeply meaningful to the site. It is a visceral display of how we, at least currently, really can all democratically bring our concerns to the userbase and thus see for ourselves that there aren't concerns being left unaddressed. The delay, and the ways you've already explained that it will be used, seem like a great thing for our new constraints, but I am now worried about it also becoming a way for the memory hole to get hungrier in ways that could be unpredictable. A least right now there is an expectation that MetaTalk posts only ever get shoved into the memory hole if the there are big desperately important reasons why they must be, like the sharing of personal information, but here it sounds like you are planning on adjusting those expectations.

Could you explain in detail what our new expectations should be, if indeed they should change?
posted by Blasdelb at 3:22 PM on May 30, 2014 [8 favorites]

mathowie: "After last week's n-word in a MetaTalk post, I'm looking forward to this, because man is managing those kinds of threads a total shitshow for several days on end."
Maybe this would help give me a better idea of what our expectations for MetaTalk should be, with the new queue, how would you guys have handled this post specifically? It was contentious, and certainly not productive, but would the queue have been used to change it beyond perhaps scheduling it at a better time?
posted by Blasdelb at 3:33 PM on May 30, 2014 [3 favorites]


One person gets pissed, several people jump on that person, and before you know it, the thread is out of control. Not to mention the fact that if the only place a person has to vent at the time, is on the blue, they are going to keep shitting until they are temp-banned in order to stop them from stinking up a thread.

I think you just identified the problem and the solution in a single sentence...
posted by running order squabble fest at 3:35 PM on May 30, 2014 [6 favorites]


I think these occasional steaming piles of shit in MetaTalk, that are appropriately shut down but still visible, really do contribute something deeply meaningful to the site. It is a visceral display of how we, at least currently, really can all democratically bring our concerns to the userbase and thus see for ourselves that there aren't concerns being left unaddressed.

I agree. I think they are also useful for showing how someone can crack the shits and throw a na-na, and the community responds in various and often highly evolved ways. Best of all, sometimes the OP calms down from their tanty, apologises and good cheer and respect is restored. That's how successful communities deal with inevitable melt-downs and it is rare to see it in action, live.
posted by Kerasia at 3:37 PM on May 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


I've been expecting and waiting for this change to happen since I heard about the layoffs. I wish it weren't necessary but I'm glad it's happening all the same. And if some people are too upset to handle the lack of instant gratification in MeTa when they're having a problem on the blue (or green, or fandomly white), I'm all for temp bans. I just hope there's not much of that.
posted by immlass at 3:38 PM on May 30, 2014


I WAS THINKING OF FRICTION

I WAS WRONG
posted by boo_radley at 3:38 PM on May 30, 2014


I'm feeling a friesian right now, in tribute to gnfti...
posted by running order squabble fest at 3:41 PM on May 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


Maybe this would help give me a better idea of what our expectations for MetaTalk should be, with the new queue, how would you guys have handled this post specifically? It was contentious, and certainly not productive, but would the queue have been used to change it beyond perhaps scheduling it at a better time?

As a fer-instance, I think that post was 95% fine, 5% "you really need to reconsider these two lines that are going to massively distract from the point you are making and find a better way to convey that". I'd have tossed the poster a line and explained as much and encouraged them to reframe or elide that bit; if they said sure, bam, simple, done; if they said no, we'd talk about what they were aiming for and if that was really the thing that they felt 100% they needed to bring to the community with that metatalk post, and go from there.

Instead we had it as is, and a certain amount of distracting mess and bad feeling because of it that undermined the actual thrust of the post. Which, if that had been some die-on-a-hill issue for the poster, maybe that's what we'd have ended up with anyway, but at least we'd have a chance to have a conversation about it first and they'd have forewarning about the issue with the post.

but I am now worried about it also becoming a way for the memory hole to get hungrier

I have this pedantic side of me that always gets a little riled when people talk about the memory hole and moderation, because I have a very specific understanding of a memory hole as something where you put information to destroy it. The memory hole is where information goes to die.

We make a point of memory-holing, in that sense, basically nothing on the site if we can help it. Stuff that gets deleted or not-approved at this point stays in the database by very purposeful design, so that if at some point someone does have a question about something not visible on the site, we can still answer it, can still be transparent about the specifics rather than shrugging and saying "I don't remember exactly but I'm sure we were correct about it".

It's a little thing, but it's a big thing. The distinction between a memory hole and just not making everything publicly visible is very much one with a difference if you're willing to trust us as basically who we have collectively, openly striven to be as moderators for a very long time.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:41 PM on May 30, 2014 [11 favorites]


I am now worried about it also becoming a way for the memory hole to get hungrier in ways that could be unpredictable.

Right, cortex, if you have a moment, I'd like you to explain the unpredictable in detail to me, too.
posted by octobersurprise at 3:42 PM on May 30, 2014


Got the last metatalk thread in before the queue!!

Yessssssssss!
Monumental. Like being the last person to go through an airport before TSA took over.
posted by hal_c_on at 3:50 PM on May 30, 2014 [10 favorites]


I think this is a fine idea!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 3:55 PM on May 30, 2014


All joking aside, mods...

Have you considered the idea that since people won't IMMEDIATELY be able to "take it to metatalk", that there will be moderation issues involved in the thread in question?

I know why you guys are doing this, and it sounds sensible enough for the time-being. But are you sure it won't create a huger shitstorm in an actual thread on the blue/green?

This is a serious question, and of course you must have thought about this. But I seriously think this is a bad bet. But I'll give you guys the benefit of the doubt, and support this move.

Good luck.


Also. Call outs will be lame if neither the caller nor the called is around when the thread is approved.
posted by hal_c_on at 4:02 PM on May 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


Got the last metatalk thread in before the queue!!
You didn't, exactly, but it got relocated to the green.
posted by Wolfdog at 4:03 PM on May 30, 2014


You didn't, exactly, but it got relocated to the green.

Huh?
posted by hal_c_on at 4:05 PM on May 30, 2014


Methinks hal_c_on means this MeTa.


Just, you know, as a WAG.
posted by Michele in California at 4:07 PM on May 30, 2014


Monumental. Like being the last person to go through an airport before TSA took over.


Is anyone else thinking expedited MetaTalk?
posted by running order squabble fest at 4:08 PM on May 30, 2014


Is anyone else thinking expedited MetaTalk?

I just want to know what the pat-downs will consist of for those of us who refuse to go through the scanner.
posted by scody at 4:20 PM on May 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


you will be patted down with pitchforks and torches

of course
posted by pyramid termite at 4:28 PM on May 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


Have you considered the idea that since people won't IMMEDIATELY be able to "take it to metatalk", that there will be moderation issues involved in the thread in question?

If people need to vent right this minute they can still do that through the contact form. I've had a couple of rants that way and it's cathartic (sorry mods), and reading back over what I've written after getting a calm reply normally makes me feel like a tantrumy child and I'm always glad I didn't do it out loud.

If it's something about how the community needs to address a particular issue then that doesn't need to happen instantaneously because having a discussion takes time anyway.
posted by billiebee at 4:28 PM on May 30, 2014 [3 favorites]


Can I request the pat-down?
posted by The World Famous at 4:28 PM on May 30, 2014 [3 favorites]


Have you considered the idea that since people won't IMMEDIATELY be able to "take it to metatalk", that there will be moderation issues involved in the thread in question?

Presuming that the mods are correct in their estimate that most posts will go up within fifteen minutes of submission, is there really much difference, even a perceptual one, between posting immediately and no responses arriving for 15 minutes, versus the post going up in 15 minutes and then maybe waiting another 15 for comments? The community is often immediately responsive, but it's still not exactly a live chatroom.
posted by Errant at 4:31 PM on May 30, 2014


It's kind of a shame this has to happen and, in theory, there are all sorts of possible outcomes resulting in drama and trauma for all concerned.

But the reality is that it's happening on MetaFilter, which is a place where those pulling the levers and twirling the dials are and can be trusted to do right by the community, so I think fears of people not being able to vent or bring Big Important Issues to the attention of the community are well and truly unfounded. There is a very long history of this not being the case and the reality is there's almost no chance of it suddenly happening now.

The most likely thing that will cause drama is, I think, people 'taking it to MeTa' by jumping in to an already-open thread and saying 'and another thing ...' but I'm sure this has been considered and something is in place.
posted by dg at 4:31 PM on May 30, 2014


Have you considered the idea that since people won't IMMEDIATELY be able to "take it to metatalk", that there will be moderation issues involved in the thread in question?

Yeah, it's possible that there'll be some subset of folks who (a) are sort of getting out of hand in a thread but (b) know to take it to Metatalk but (c) are aware of the queue and (d) decide that the possibility of a delay means that they should ignore their instincts and just keep arguing in a thread even though they previously wouldn't have.

That said, that's a pretty narrow path. Metatalk's existence has not historically prevented folks from getting out of hand in a thread regardless; many folks likely to get into those sort of dust-ups will not know about Metatalk or will not care to take something there; many instances of bad behavior that have been redirected to Metatalk have led to further bad behavior in Metatalk, often in parallel with ongoing bad behavior in the original spot. There are a whole lot of ways for people-being-obnoxious to happen wholly independently of the question of self-service threads, and by comparison pretty few ways for the question of queuing vs. self-service to be the core issue.

To put it another way that maybe addresses more directly part of what I feel like a couple folks have been saying: that queueing Metatalk does not solve problems with people displaying poor impulse control or a tendency to escalate/perpetuate arguments or meltdowns is true. We don't expect it to somehow solve that problem. But it is also deeply unlikely by my reckoning to be a substantial source of that problem. It's an independent issue; people behaving badly happens and we'll use what resources we have to deal with it, and a queueless metatalk does not seem from long experience to be a big driver there.

Where bad behavior (rather than community discussion and self-reflection and specifically mod-directed questions go) is concerned, metatalk tends mostly to be just another place for bad behavior to occur. The queue won't fundamentally change that, though there will presumably be a lower overall incidence of the worst of the worst in terms of posting judgement.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:40 PM on May 30, 2014 [4 favorites]


jessamyn: "vacapinta is still skulking around."

Stealth Mod
posted by dhruva at 4:57 PM on May 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


This is a change I'd have supported even without the staffing issue. MetaTalk is a unique part of the site where mod intervention or approval prior to a new thread being posted makes sense. And with the staffing issue thrown in...yes, of course. Do what's necessary.

In the years I've been here, I don't recall ever seeing a substantiated complaint that moderators were anything less than transparent. It's part of the culture. And if that were to change somehow, pursuant to this queue or something else, I imagine it would immediately be called out in a huge way. Think of the pile-ons that have occurred when some mod made a dubious deletion. Consequently I can't see this being any kind of baby step toward reduced transparency. The staff is trustworthy, and the userbase is knee-jerk.
posted by cribcage at 4:59 PM on May 30, 2014


Stealth Mod

Matte-black Lambretta with no mirrors?
posted by The World Famous at 5:13 PM on May 30, 2014 [4 favorites]


Consequently I can't see this being any kind of baby step toward reduced transparency. The staff is trustworthy, and the userbase is knee-jerk.

I agree that the staff is trustworthy, and I don't think there will be a substantial change in terms of what we actually see on the site, but I think the queuing system itself is less transparent than commentors directly posting MetaTalk threads, and instituting the queuing system is therefore a step away from transparency. Instituting a mod-reviewed queue also centralizes the mods' participation in the threads (rather than the users'/community's), which I think is a step away from light moderation. On some sites, I wouldn't have a issue with that, but since transparency and light moderation are major parts of the ethos here, I think those are important issues to consider.

The institution of a queue seems to be a logistical necessity right now and I completely get that and have no problem with the mods' decision to use it during the transition to lower staff levels, I just think that the sites' principles/goals of transparency and light moderation have to at least be given some due when it comes to making changes like this (and so I hope this change is temporary).

My issue is more philosophical than logistical -- I understand why it's a necessity and support it on those grounds, but I think we (as a group) should explicitly and continually weigh logistical necessity against our commitment to community values, and keep in mind what we're losing (philosophically) as well as what we're gaining (logistically) with the institution of a queue.
posted by rue72 at 5:20 PM on May 30, 2014 [3 favorites]


I don't know of they're an official part of the site but I appreciate the askmedeleted (which autocorrects to ask meddlers!) and mefideleted as records of what isn't on metafilter. I trust the mods but seeing revisions, in this case metatalk queued posts that were canceled, makes metafilter more trustworthy.
posted by viggorlijah at 6:19 PM on May 30, 2014 [3 favorites]


I don't know of they're an official part of the site but I appreciate the askmedeleted (which autocorrects to ask meddlers!) and mefideleted as records of what isn't on metafilter.

They're not official parts of the site, they were generously created by cj_. There is no "metadeleted" blog and even if there was, it wouldn't pick up things in a queue, just as the deleted posts script won't.
posted by lalex at 6:25 PM on May 30, 2014


Huh.

When someone suggested this very policy a few days ago on MetaTalk, I objected on the basis it was a core functionality of the site. restless_nomad said they thought the mods agreed; I guess this turns out not to be the case.

I know the mods all have a good-faith intention not to silence dissent. But what's great about the ability to post a MeTa without pre-approval is that it gives a watertight, structural sort of guarantee so we don't need to rely on good faith. Checks and balances are important because mods are only human, and sometimes humans make mistakes. As I said before, other communities over on reddit have descended into chaos for the very reason that mods were selectively vetting criticisms of the site moderation.

To reiterate, the mods here are great and I've got no doubt in their good faith intentions and commitment, but still, isn't it even better when good faith is backed by a structural mechanism to ensure transparency?
posted by dontjumplarry at 6:40 PM on May 30, 2014 [15 favorites]


I was in favour of this prior to the staffing reduction, so it gets my approval.

I now declare every weekend a holiday from fightiness.
posted by arcticseal at 6:53 PM on May 30, 2014


I think you're going to see people losing their shit more in actual threads on the blue or green or whatever without the instant safety valve of MeTa, which kind of defeats the purpose of the whole idea is to limit cranksplosions, but: maybe not. Worth a try to see, I guess.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:05 PM on May 30, 2014


yeah, probably should have read the thread first. need coffee.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:06 PM on May 30, 2014


keep in mind what we're losing (philosophically) as well as what we're gaining (logistically) with the institution of a queue.

That's fair, but those are only two facets. Consider the practical consequence. Most of us have agreed in the past there are MetaTalk threads posted that never should have been, or that should have been phrased differently. We've disagreed about where the line is, but if this queue catches only the most egregious examples that we'd all have agreed on, that's benefit. Smaller but also relevant, if this change helps the signal-to-noise ratio by putting an end to the incessant "Couldn't you have used the contact form?" comments, that's benefit.

Checks and balances are important because mods are only human, and sometimes humans make mistakes.

True enough. What's an example of the hypothetical worst-case scenario, with regard to this transparency issue? Mods have certainly made mistakes in the past that have related to deleting content from the site. It gets called out, the content ends up being seen and debated, and the community discusses. Isn't that what would likely happen here? The mods fail to approve a MeTa, somebody complains in another thread or MeTa or Chat or wherever, and the community will end up discussing it. I'm curious what other way the worst-case would shake out.
posted by cribcage at 7:08 PM on May 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


Checks and balances are important because mods are only human, and sometimes humans make mistakes.

For sure, yeah. For my part I see the most valuable checks and balances there being a team of moderators ready and willing to call each other on their individual shit if someone pulls something weird, and a userbase full of keen-eyed people with long memories and an investment in the sense of this place who are likewise historically really, really willing to bring something up if they think it smells.

And in my ideal world metatalk threads wouldn't be queued, because we'd have the resources we've had in the last few years (or even more) such that someone could always, always be immediately ready to handle or delete a shitpile of a post. I like that, I prefer that. But that's not what we have, and we're trying to accommodate reality. Reality is we have fewer hands, stretched thinner, with likely poorer response time, and so the shitpiles are a more significant potential problem for the site.

As far as accountability goes, I don't think "absolutely every metatalk post sees the light of day instantly and also some occasionally get deleted nearly instantly for being terrible and others don't quite get deleted but are huge messes because of the way they're framed" is fundamentally better than "most metatalks see the light of day very rapidly and the instadeletes and really really problematically framed ones get a bit of discussion and potential reframing first" in a way that is critical to the site ethos. My preference would be to have the resources to run with the former and make it work, but the core purpose of Metatalk, to let people talk about the site and the community and moderation and policy and so on, is served by both.

Which, I dig that folks are as much as anything talking about how they feel about the principle of the thing and I'm talking mostly about this pragmatically.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:11 PM on May 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


for some of you this might mean "in the last decade"

Well I'll be damned.
posted by euphorb at 8:39 PM on May 30, 2014 [1 favorite]



I agree that the staff is trustworthy, and I don't think there will be a substantial change in terms of what we actually see on the site, but I think the queuing system itself is less transparent than commentors directly posting MetaTalk threads, and instituting the queuing system is therefore a step away from transparency. Instituting a mod-reviewed queue also centralizes the mods' participation in the threads (rather than the users'/community's), which I think is a step away from light moderation. On some sites, I wouldn't have a issue with that, but since transparency and light moderation are major parts of the ethos here, I think those are important issues to consider.

The institution of a queue seems to be a logistical necessity right now and I completely get that and have no problem with the mods' decision to use it during the transition to lower staff levels, I just think that the sites' principles/goals of transparency and light moderation have to at least be given some due when it comes to making changes like this (and so I hope this change is temporary).

My issue is more philosophical than logistical -- I understand why it's a necessity and support it on those grounds, but I think we (as a group) should explicitly and continually weigh logistical necessity against our commitment to community values, and keep in mind what we're losing (philosophically) as well as what we're gaining (logistically) with the institution of a queue.


I agree with this. I post very few MeTas and definiitely none that were OMG urgent, and I know that the queue system will help cut down on the truly ridiculous MeTas, and I trust the mods etc. but it just seems wrong to me to have a section of the site where people are supposed to be free to talk about site issues, even if their issues seem hyperbolic and silly to most, but they're not really free because a mod now has say so over what's worthy of discussion and what's not.

I'd rather have them just get posted and be deleted, so at least we can all see what they were about.
posted by sweetkid at 8:42 PM on May 30, 2014 [3 favorites]


What if the not-posted ones go on a Wall of Shame like in the college dorms
posted by shakespeherian at 8:58 PM on May 30, 2014


what if the world was made of pudding
posted by elizardbits at 9:26 PM on May 30, 2014 [5 favorites]


I would have to go to spinning sixteen times a week
posted by sweetkid at 9:30 PM on May 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


bill cosby would be a god
posted by shakespeherian at 9:31 PM on May 30, 2014 [4 favorites]


COOK AND CHILL

No more global warming
posted by sweetkid at 9:34 PM on May 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


This policy is very discriminatory against the Silence. The mods never approve their posts because the posts are forgotten as soon as they are read.
posted by humanfont at 9:37 PM on May 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


I understand the pragmatic need for this, but it doesn't make me happy in the least. The mods here have patience that exceeds that of Job, but the idea of a potentially problematic MeTa post having to be re-framed or negotiated between the mods and the poster before it could be approved for posting seems like a mistake. The recent post about the word "whackadoodle" that included gratuitous use of the "n-word" was horribly framed in a way that detracted from what the poster seemed to want to discuss. If it had been re-framed, it could have been an excellent Metatalk post about attitudes towards the mentally ill.

But such a re-framing should never be required. What if the poster had been told that re-framing was required before posting? What if they refused and it was never posted? Then, instead of having a poor discussion, we wouldn't have had that discussion at all. My fear is that posters of the future will decide to remain silent about important issues because they fear rejection. Such a passive chilling of free expression would be a detriment to the site, all pragmatic needs aside.
posted by double block and bleed at 9:44 PM on May 30, 2014 [3 favorites]


When someone suggested this very policy a few days ago on MetaTalk, I objected on the basis it was a core functionality of the site. restless_nomad said they thought the mods agreed; I guess this turns out not to be the case.

When I read this (without having read that other thread yet), I was kind of surprised to hear that the mods were doing what sounded like a rather abrupt about-face, but upon reading r_n's actual response, I think she was fairly clear that a queue was a possibility. Especially if it was still under consideration but not completely decided at the time, I'm not sure what more she could have said beyond what she did, particularly the "In this case, for example, this MeTa could safely have been held until Monday when more people were around than just me" part. It doesn't sound like any of the mods who've weighed in are saying there aren't drawbacks to this approach or that they're 100% thrilled to be implementing it - just that it's what they feel needs to be tried to mitigate the impact of this staff reduction.

Personally I think that just as with any other change, it's worth giving this one some time to see how it works or doesn't work. I would imagine that if the more concerning predictions actually do prevail, the mods and community could revisit or even reverse this approach?
posted by DingoMutt at 9:46 PM on May 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


I am 100% in favor of this. Cortex noted in his initial post that most, if not all, Metatalk posts will be approved within ONE HOUR. That is not an onerous amount of time to wait, for basically almost anything in life. We are all adults here and the responsibility is on us to behave civilly towards one another, even if involved in a heated discussion. MeFi Mail is an available option in most cases as well.
posted by hapax_legomenon at 10:21 PM on May 30, 2014 [11 favorites]


I'm not against this change, but I am still seriously concerned about what happens when a user's MeTa thread is rejected for reasons they don't accept. Currently, even when the thread is closed, the user-base usually has time to demonstrate that the mod decision fits the general "will of the community". A silent delete seems to inevitably feed the paranoia of any user feeling at odds with the mods.
posted by Proofs and Refutations at 12:11 AM on May 31, 2014 [3 favorites]


Those who've raised transparency questions have a point, given the purpose of MetaTalk. As do those with concerns about the pressure-valve function of MeTa.

Have you guys considered making the queue (not its contents) partly visible on the MeTa page somehow? What I had in mind was a sidebar item showing the number of MeTa posts in the queue and (I suggest) a link to something that shows the date/time, poster, and category of each item?

This way everyone will know that something's in the queue, and thus concerns about invisibly censoring the queue will be partly addressed. The time and date will provide transparency about how long it's taking for queue items to be addressed. Maybe deleted items should show up as deleted for a couple of days, too, for transparency's sake. The poster and category will give people an idea of who's posting and what they're posting about, which in some cases (like with a specific conflict in a thread) can give folks an idea that there's already a MeTa queued up about something.

Finally, this will also provide some transparency to the community about how members, generally and specifically, are using the queue.

This may seem kind of elaborate, but given the purpose of MetaTalk and how it's about transparency and reduced moderation and such, and given that the queue is a major permanent change, it seems to me that some transparency about the queue itself, in a way that doesn't make the actual content visible, would be most consistent with the ethos of MetaTalk.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 12:51 AM on May 31, 2014 [2 favorites]


One thing that might help the suspicion is to remember that we've actually been doing the queue for quite a while on holidays or periods when we've been shortstaffed, and I don't think anyone has felt like that has been handled badly.

I'll see if we can look at submitted Metatalk posts that were not posted for whatever reason over the time we've been using the queue (probably not until next week, though), but I can see in the admin interface what has happened over the past two months: we've had three instances of using the queue for holidays, and zero Metatalk posts not posted. Just by memory, I don't think we've actually had an instance of refusing to post a Metatalk against the wishes of the poster, but, again, I'd have to check. (To be honest, if we were to be basically at that point with someone in considering them a bad actor, they would probably hanging by a thread in terms of a permaban anyway.)

Typical reasons for not posting a queued Metatalk post or for possibly deleting (rather than closing) an opened Metatalk are: instances of invading another user's privacy or "doxxing"; posting about sensitive Ask Me issues putting the glare of spotlight on a particular user's personal situation, rather than making it about policy (for example, "why was this person's suicide question deleted" linking to the deleted post or to the poster); stuntposting (jokey Metatalks); trying to do something sideways that's not allowed (like link to a fundraiser; or ask people to vote for them in an online poll, or asking for personal favors); drubk posting; accidental post (was meant for a different part of the site); has nothing to do with Metafilter or any of the subsites, members, or activities ("looking for something that was posted on Site X, totally unconnected to Mefi," for example); many, many "poster's request."

And definitely, if someone is making a post in an insulting, offensive, snarky, or opaque way, we'll take the opportunity to try to convince them to frame it in a way that will get better engagement.

But people seem to be concentrating on us "disappearing" Metatalks that we don't like, when that's not actually the reason for the queue, and not something that would remain invisible to the community in any case. The reason for the queue is that we have people working 16-hour shifts at points in the schedule now, and we have people working 6 or 7 days a week, and we cannot always be responsive under those circumstances to be tied into babysitting an angry Metatalk post, rather than wait a few hours or even a day or two on weekends or holidays so that the load can be shared. This is especially a difficult situation when there's only one person around (and to be clear, there's only ever one person on shift, but sometimes others will pitch in if they awake/online), the site is extra busy with difficult threads, and then a contentious Metatalk happens -- the one person basically had to choose between attending more to the Metatalk, or attending more to the other problems happening on the site. Being able to delay that until there can be an easier sharing/switching off of duties will help.
posted by taz (staff) at 1:13 AM on May 31, 2014 [12 favorites]


"One thing that might help the suspicion is to remember that we've actually been doing the queue for quite a while on holidays or periods when we've been shortstaffed, and I don't think anyone has felt like that has been handled badly."

No, that's true.

But I didn't offer my suggestion because I feel that there has been, or will be, problems with how you guys handle the queue. I offered it because some other folks do and given the intended function of MetaTalk, it's important that there not be the appearance of shenanigans whether or not it actually exists. Transparency in this context is a good thing, in and of itself, regardless of whether anyone truly expects that it will reveal wrongdoing.

I'm personally fine with the queue and nothing about it bothers me at all. I'm responding to the fact that a minority of folks are a little worried about it and because, when it comes right down to it, this is a pretty big change for how things are done on MeTa. It seems to me that some transparency in the process, in the form I suggest, would cost little while going a long way toward reassuring those who have concerns.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 1:52 AM on May 31, 2014


Complaining about this change and forcing the few mods we have on duty to waste their time answering your every whimper and useless suggestion demonstrates perfectly why the change needs to occur.

Things are different in Metafilter now because they are trying to find ways to still exist. Give Mat and Co a break as much as you can y'all.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 3:21 AM on May 31, 2014 [8 favorites]


upon reading r_n's actual response,

I'm critical of this policy, but lets not jump on r_n for it. Seems like she's on the no-queue side...but it also seems like she was outvoted or outranked. So lets not jump all over someone because they voiced an opinion, and upon further reflection that opinion was not the opinion of the company.

But it sure was nice back in dem ol' days when we didn't have to have a queue...


we cannot always be responsive under those circumstances to be tied into babysitting an angry Metatalk post, rather than wait a few hours or even a day or two on weekends or holidays so that the load can be shared

What is this 'response' that would be necessary on the meta threads? A meta is basically someone saying something...then other users agreeing or disagreeing with it, and a mod or all of them coming in to stand behind the metafilter policy.

Also, are there quotas on how many will be approved per week or month?
posted by hal_c_on at 3:31 AM on May 31, 2014


Oh good grief. It's a way for the now-reduced mod staff to be able to manage to have their lives and still do the work for which they are part of the MetaFilter staff without it becoming something unmanageable.

Give the humans doing this difficult work, now with an increased workload due to unfortunate circumstances, a bit of respect for what they do. They, and they alone amongst the entire user base, know how much work a MeTa thread will generate. They, and they alone, are the ones doing this work.

They, like everyone else who uses this site, wants to have a quality of life which affords themselves some time to live life and not just do work.

The level of suspicion being raised here in this thread is well beyond anything that this site or the former or current moderator team has earned through past actions.
posted by hippybear at 3:59 AM on May 31, 2014 [30 favorites]


hal_c_on , nobody was outvoted or outranked; everyone agreed from the beginning... unless there were other super-seekrit conversations I don't know about, but that's not our working style.

The response necessary on meta threads is to be around to answer questions and try to keep things more or less on topic, discourage people from just dropping in to randomly attack someone, cool things down if it get flame-y, and generally watch the house.

There are no quotas.
posted by taz (staff) at 4:01 AM on May 31, 2014 [3 favorites]


> We're also going to be looking to the Metafilter community to help us deal with tighter moderator resources by being sure to flag things and move on, encourage good behavior by example, and let us know via the contact form if something needs immediate attention. (emphasis mine)

We all have to help.
For those of you worried about people wanting to argue in threads if they can't argue here right away - step up - don't engage those people. If things are getting heated and someone starts a Meta, that person can make sure it is posted in the thread "Hey guys, I started a Meta so we don't derail this one, should be approved soon." That's not that hard, is it?

> The level of suspicion being raised here in this thread is well beyond anything that this site or the former or current moderator team has earned through past actions.

This x 1000. Over a decade of transparent moderation and the mods aren't allowed to sit back on that reputation for a few hours while they single-handedly moderate on their shift? And its not like this is a new policy out of nowhere- it has been going on for quite a while on holiday weekends, it's been test-driven, if you will, and it is the best solution for the problem right now.

Personally, I feel that more people need to step up and be responsible instead of expecting the mods to solve all of the issues around here. If we want MeFi to be great, we have to be great too.
posted by NoraCharles at 4:10 AM on May 31, 2014 [14 favorites]


*wry face*

It's probably not going to help to tell everyone that we just got email from a member who tried to post a Metatalk (looking for help finding a post or comment), and there seems to be a bug with the posting page so they're only getting a white screen on preview/submit -- a problem that I was able to duplicate. We'll fix it up as soon as we can.
posted by taz (staff) at 4:18 AM on May 31, 2014 [2 favorites]


The level of suspicion being raised here in this thread is well beyond anything that this site or the former or current moderator team has earned through past actions.

Nah, I think it's you who is being a bit overwrought. Some of us are saying courteously that we think the mods are totally awesome but that we have a couple concerns about this as a structural mechanism. Including jessamyn herself, who wondered upthread if there was going to be a robust process in place to oversee the queue, and also queried if there was a timeline for returning to the status quo ante of unqueued MeTa.

To be honest it would be weird and Stepford Wivesish if the mods introduced a big structural policy change like this and members all waved it through smiling and nodding as you seem to be calling for. Like that awesome season 5 episode of Angel where everyone fell in love with Jasmine played by Gina Torres and did anything she said.
posted by dontjumplarry at 4:29 AM on May 31, 2014 [7 favorites]


I'm going to ramble a bit.

I understand the need to implement this, but I'm a touch wary of it as a permanent thing. MetaTalk in the early days was probably the main thing that turned me from a casual reader (via a few serendipitous search queries over a few months in '99-2000?) into a dedicated one.

But apart from being fascinated by seeing how issues could get worked out by the community itself (with #1 stepping in here and there when a solid decision needed to be made), the...timbre of the site is definitely better now.

But -- and I think someone mentioned this above -- the queue changes a fundamental aspect of a MeTa post, since waiting for a mod to approve it means a mod might as well jump in as the first comment, settle things up, and everything else gets framed as dissent from or concurrence with the official opinion. (This also maybe makes the mods' lives harder, in a way, since there's no space for the gentle fiction of "the mods probably haven't gotten around to seeing this yet" -- if one hasn't chimed in from the start then it becomes an overt omission.)

There's also something to learn as a community from even those posts that could have been better framed or better handled via the contact form, even if that lesson is exactly that, a reminder that the contact form exists and an awareness of what might be better handled there.

Or another banal example: if someone queues up a MeTa post asking for help identifying an old comment, and the mod on duty already knows the answer, do they answer privately or publish the post and answer as the first comment? (Hopefully the latter?)

But I should probably also acknowledge that I like reading the MeTa posts gone bad. We're well past the point where I feel I can keep up with everything I might be interested in on the Blue or the Green, but I still have an RSS notifier set up for MetaTalk (even though I can go months without commenting; I'm really saying all of this as a reader).

So...I guess I want to suggest that there's an alternate approach that could be tried out, even if just as an experiment at some point, which would be to return to a larger sense of what used to be called "self-policing," an awareness that not every MeTa thread will get the continuous mod monitoring that they do now. And then to raise mod staff levels again when that fails?

(It sounds like raising staff levels is on the horizon anyway? 16 hour shifts -- even if only once a week -- don't sound very sustainable.)
posted by nobody at 4:53 AM on May 31, 2014 [5 favorites]


I understand that at some abstract level this could be troubling for some, but in all practicality it's going to be fine. Just trust the mods; they've done a great job in the past and I have every reason to believe they'll continue to do a great job.

I just can't imagine a scenario in which this hurts the community that is both a) really harmful and b) really probable. And this will help the mods allocate their attention more deliberately, which I think will nearly certainly be quite beneficial. So the expected utility is positive here.
posted by Jpfed at 5:18 AM on May 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


>upon reading r_n's actual response,

I'm critical of this policy, but lets not jump on r_n for it.


Eh? I hope my comment didn't come across as jumping on r_n, considering the rest of my sentence was "I think she was fairly clear that a queue was a possibility." My intent, at least, was pretty much the opposite of jumping on anybody.

At any rate, when bigger changes happen here, I find it useful to look back at threads about other big changes. It seems to me that on the whole, things have rarely changed for the worse despite predictions to the contrary, and that the mods have been willing to make adjustments based on community input; that makes me think that this change, too, is probably going to work out fine. I would assume that "trying this out" doesn't mean it's set in stone as something that cannot be reversed/adjusted if it somehow causes more problems than it fixes.

By way of addressing transparency concerns, though, I do agree with Ivan Fyodorvich that it'd at least be nice to have some form of deletion count. Even if all that was listed was the number of posts not accepted in a given week (from what's being said here I'm assuming the number would often be 0 or just a few?), I would think that would help put things in perspective. And maybe this is overkill, but considering that it sounds like some people are concerned about the queue delay making MetaTalk a less viable alternative to the immediate gratification of in-thread fighting, maybe it would also be nice to have figures about the median/mode delay times between post submission and approval?
posted by DingoMutt at 5:36 AM on May 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


there seems to be a bug with the posting page so they're only getting a white screen on preview/submit

ATTICA STATE! ATTICA STATE!
posted by shakespeherian at 5:36 AM on May 31, 2014 [2 favorites]


This may seem kind of elaborate

Yes, it does. It's a Rube Goldberg device for chasing off theoretical wraiths of bad action, making some of the bones of the metatalk queue half-visible without offering anyone who felt truly aggrieved or silenced an actual platform. It's show transparency, a spectacle as a consolation prize for the actual thing some people are wishing would be available instead.

Transparency is a means, not an absolute end. The question with this stuff should be "what does this accomplish", not "does this technically look like transparency".

We try to be really transparent about stuff in general here because it helps people know what's up with how the site works and with how we're doing our jobs, but also significantly because it encourages focusing on the content of links/questions/discussion rather than the mechanics behind the scenes. We consider it a good thing as a way to be, to the extent that it's practical for us to be so, for sure. It's important and useful.

But there's stuff we do not and have not ever made directly public even though to do so would be more transparent about how the site runs and how we do our jobs:

- We don't let people look at deleted comments
- We don't let people look at the anonymous ask me queue
- We don't let people look at contact form emails
- We don't let people look at the flag queue
- We don't let people look at the urls of deleted spam posts
- We don't let people look at everyone's paypal records and other user signup info
- We don't let people look at our personal calendars
- We don't let people look at us on our webcams
- We don't let people look at the first drafts of comments we write

And there are cases to be made for reversing every one of those, if your goal is transparency for transparency's sake, for being assured that there's no funny business going on. Some of them have been seriously contended on the site in the past, some of them less so; but every single one would raise the degree of transparency in how the site works, provide users with a more unfiltered view of how moderation is handled and of how the people doing that moderation behave in detail while doing that work.

The goal of the transparency we pursue on the site is to establish trust however we can do so in a pragmatic and undistracting way on the site, to let folks have access by one means or another to the hows and whys of how Metafilter is run. We don't do it because transparency is a deity to be worshipped; we do it because it seems like the right thing to do where practical to do so.

It used to be more practical to have no queue on Metatalk. It might become so again at some point. For now it's something we need to tweak to cope with staffing realities. Wishing that were otherwise I can, as I've said earlier in the thread, totally understand and sympathize directly with; but chasing down one or another way to display the bones of the queue as a ward against non-transparency feels like the weirdest sort of superstition to me, like going from "yes, we trust you" to "except what if you turned out to be suddenly evil, let's do an elaborate dance to prevent that". A dance won't prevent that. Us being dedicated to doing our jobs fairly is what will prevent that.

If you trust us, trust us and approach this as a considered decision by people who have not suddenly gone goateed-evil-twin on you, and try to work with us on this in a way that reflects the reality of our moderation work history rather than some imagined worst-case scenario.

But if you're genuinely worried about some bizarre breach from 15 years of moderation ethos and practice, take comfort that a crusader against subversive metatalk queue management can post some defiant truth to power to the front page or askme or something, or more to the point literally anywhere else on the internet. Metatalk isn't the one place in the world where people can try to say "hey, I feel like something is up"; it's not sacrosanct, it's not the one gap in our mod team's otherwise impermeable informational blockade of the web. If we suddenly lost our minds, (a) the metatalk queue would be the least of the problems and (b) the internet would make a whole hell of a lot of noise about it.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:30 AM on May 31, 2014 [28 favorites]


They, like everyone else who uses this site, wants to have a quality of life which affords themselves some time to live life and not just do work.

Word. I agree with everything hippybear just said.

We don't let people look at us on our webcams
New subsite - ModZoo.
posted by arcticseal at 7:50 AM on May 31, 2014 [2 favorites]


Out of curiosity, in the past when the queue has been active, have (non-spam) posts that were deemed inappropriate actually been bounced or revised per mod request? I think some of the negative reaction (aside from the pathological fear of change MeFi is so good at) is that it sounds like the queue will change the fundamental nature of metatalk, which will ripple out, not just be a tweak to moderation techniques.

something something, put the FUN in FUNDAMENTAL...

something something put the MENTAL in...


posted by mzurer at 8:05 AM on May 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


In the past, my recollection is that mods approved anything that was basically supposed to be in MeTa. There would be posts that looked more like "questions for the mods" (single bug reports) or posts that were misplaced (should have been in Ask) and that is one of the reasons there's that checkbox, because people seemed to be using MeTa for a sort of public griefing arena where they didn't really have a MeTa purpose to begin with. I think there may have been one or two of these where we'd contact folks and be like "This might be better off phrased a bit differently" Of course, in the past you could always just wait it out and if mods didn't approve your post then you could repost when the queue was no longer active.

I think it's tougher to see the patterns on the user side, but there was a really long period, before the queue existed, where MeTa would specifically and uglily blow up right around holidays. Not totally sure why, a lot of people being trapped with their families? Excessive drinking? General "Don't tell ME to be happy!" grouchiness? In any case, it made this place a truly shitty place to work if you pulled a holiday shift and I can remember one pretty notable birthday where I was stuck working a few hours (and there was another obvious "Hey happy birthday!" thread) babysitting a grouchy MeTa thread.

And hey it's a job and that's how the place (was) designed to work, but at some level part of figuring out the new boundaries for the more lightly-moderated space involves looking at how things have worked in the past and preparing for what actually might happen, not what happens when everyone's really trying. And all the mods can do is set appropriate (social and sometimes technical) boundaries and not just say "Hey we're all friends here, don't fuck up someone's holiday"

I am also skeptical about this just because it's my nature (not because I mistrust anyone), but I share cribcage's feeling that the system is self-correcting, always has been, always will be.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 8:21 AM on May 31, 2014 [7 favorites]



I think it's tougher to see the patterns on the user side, but there was a really long period, before the queue existed, where MeTa would specifically and uglily blow up right around holidays.


It's not difficult to see patterns in user behavior on this site. The 'Holiday GRAR' phenomenon was well attested to.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:03 AM on May 31, 2014


But such a re-framing should never be required. What if the poster had been told that re-framing was required before posting? What if they refused and it was never posted? Then, instead of having a poor discussion, we wouldn't have had that discussion at all.

I dunno. I have run my last few MeTas past the mods before posting, and I got really good feedback. In several cases, I decided that the MeTa I wanted just wasn't going to happen, so I didn't post. At no time did a mod say "this will not stand!" but a little conversation concinced me that, no matter how righteous I felt, it was not worth the aggravation. This was definite plus for me. I think a queue will result in better MeTas, not silencing.
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:11 AM on May 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


STEPFORD ALL YOUR WIFE
posted by scody at 9:40 AM on May 31, 2014 [10 favorites]


Dang I knew this was going to happen even though it wasn't planned from the beginning; sad that the impetuous is loss of so much staff.

nobody: " (This also maybe makes the mods' lives harder, in a way, since there's no space for the gentle fiction of "the mods probably haven't gotten around to seeing this yet" -- if one hasn't chimed in from the start then it becomes an overt omission.)"

This seems like a significant perception change of Meta; I'd actually hope the Mods wouldn't use their pre-posting knowledge to Ninja the first comment of a thread. It would shift perceptions of policy discussion into a more users vs. management vibe.

cortex: "- We don't let people look at us on our webcams
[...]

And there are cases to be made for reversing every one of those, if your goal is transparency for transparency's sake, for being assured that there's no funny business going on. Some of them have been seriously contended on the site in the past, some of them less so; but every single one would raise the degree of transparency in how the site works, provide users with a more unfiltered view of how moderation is handled and of how the people doing that moderation behave in detail while doing that work.
"

Considering ya'll work from home I don't think anyone here needs that level of transparency.
posted by Mitheral at 9:48 AM on May 31, 2014


More to the point: come on, people. The goodwill so many of us have felt for Metafilter for so long -- evidenced, you know, by the nearly 3,000 members (so far) who have helped support the site financially -- isn't just because AskMe is a neat resource or because of links to cats shoved in scanners. It's because this place has been moderated with great thoughtfulness and respect for its members. Metafilter is a community worth saving and supporting precisely for that reason, and I reject the notion that it makes me a Stepford Wife to give the mods the benefit of the doubt regarding the queue.

Metafilter has gone through changes before. There may very well be some hiccups with this change. But serriously, they're just hiccups, not heart attacks. We'll cope.
posted by scody at 9:48 AM on May 31, 2014 [13 favorites]


The metafilter mods are so transparent that if you tried to watch them by webcam all you would see is the wall behind them, because transparency.
posted by medusa at 9:54 AM on May 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


Metafilter has gone through changes before. There may very well be some hiccups with this change. But serriously, they're just hiccups, not heart attacks. We'll cope.


Are you referring to ModAid, the ill-fated foray into the MetaFilter All-Mods Musical Revue? All deletions were literally closed with a song, but it was well beyond the site's budget. I miss those heady Web Bubble days of unlimited funding for every crazy idea.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:10 AM on May 31, 2014 [3 favorites]


ModAid, you say?

Maybe that's the solution to MetaFilter's financial woes. Rope in all the Metafilter's Owns and make them do a benefit concert.

I'd go.
posted by Sara C. at 10:24 AM on May 31, 2014


I guess I get, at some level, the philosophical issues with a full-time queue. I don't agree with it (like cortex said, it feels a little worshippy of transparency for transparency's sake, rather than agreeing on the end goal) but I kinda understand it.

Here's the thing, kiddos, I was active on another general discussion site many years ago that you old-timers know and loved to make fun of - plastic.com. I loved that site in a lot of ways, and made friends there that are still an important part of my internet and IRL lives, this whole decade or so later. But you know what? Plastic died partly/mostly because of the site owner's adherence to philosophical principles to the exclusion of any of the practical considerations of running a website. In that case it was more about money than moderation, but I am having pangs of anxiety seeing similar arguments here. Plastic is gone now. I love Mefi more than I loved Plastic, and would hate to see it fall apart.

Please let's not let the perfect be the enemy of the good. I don't agree with advocating for a pure transparency model when this seems like a relatively modest change for the betterment of the site and the work/life balance of our remaining mods.

Also, FFS, we are adults. You are not Old Faithful or an overheating boiler about to blow if the release valve doesn't open. You are adult humans with frontal lobes and the ability to choose to not lose your shit over someone making you angry on the internet.
posted by misskaz at 10:40 AM on May 31, 2014 [19 favorites]


Hell, I, myself, truly don't have a problem with the queue. But MetaTalk has been designed, and Matt's made great efforts to convey, that it's the least moderated part of MetaFilter. In a way, because comments are dependent upon posts, this change all-at-once transforms MetaTalk from the least moderated part of the site to the most moderated. It's not a small change and it's perfectly reasonable for people to have concerns about it.

It occurred to me that it might be possible, with a small amount of coding, to assuage any concerns that the queue is a black box that sometimes functions as a black hole. Maybe it wasn't a very good suggestion. I dunno.

What I do know is that defensive responses from mods and hyperbolic comments from other people explaining how those with concerns are whimpering ingrates is probably not going to help. If making this thread into a battleground is your idea of being a responsible mefite for our new tomorrow, then tomorrow doesn't look so great from where I'm standing.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 11:01 AM on May 31, 2014 [2 favorites]


And definitely, if someone is making a post in an insulting, offensive, snarky, or opaque way, we'll take the opportunity to try to convince them to frame it in a way that will get better engagement. (from Taz)

This is precisely the part of the new policy that concerns me - I don't mind a queue that just handles timing issues, but I do mind posts needing to be being pre-emptively approved and reframed to be less problematic before they can be posted. I would love to hear more reassurance that this "convincing" and reframing will not actually be a regular occurrence nor a dealbreaker to posting, even if the post is put off until it's more convenient.

On another note, it would be great if people expressing their concerns weren't dismissed as just not loving the mods or Mefi enough, or if concerns about other members' bad behavior weren't misinterpreted as a desire to behave badly. It really isn't helpful. Most people who care enough to even comment about this are longtime members who care a ton about the site, have donated, support the moderators, and are doing their best to keep Mefi around - but that doesn't mean that everyone has to agree about this particular policy, or that having concerns about it indicates you're the one who wants to shit up threads. Everyone here just wants mefi to stay great. Some people have different ideas about what structural aspects support its greatness; for me, I see the responsiveness & transparency of MeTa and its effects on hashing out difficult community dynamics as a core function of the site, and I feel that pre-emptive mod-assisted editing of posts goes against that functionality.
posted by dialetheia at 11:05 AM on May 31, 2014 [6 favorites]


other communities over on reddit have descended into chaos for the very reason that mods were selectively vetting criticisms of the site moderation.

And Hacker News, another large site, not only has no means to publicly critique policy, it has a history of actively discouraging public discussion, telling people to only email the mods privately (while making it unclear who that was or how to contact them) and killing discussion which violated that policy. And Hacker News is one of the better run sites, with a history of civility, in part because for some portion of the participants there is money to be made by behaving well (in some cases, very big money). So I reiterate: I honest to god do not get why some folks are having a cow over this. I just do not. Most online communities that I have participated in have absolutely no equivalent whatsoever to MeTa. I suspect this is nearly universally true and not just limited to my personal first hand experience.

(If you think I am wrong, I would be happy to see folks list sites which A) have something equivalent to MeTa and B) do a better job of taking constructive criticism than the mods here have historically done. Or even just A for now, because I suspect that is uncommon in and of itself but I also suspect it is way more uncommon for it to be handled in a good faith manner in the way it has been here in probably relatively rare cases where they do have a channel for such discussions.)



As far as accountability goes, I don't think "absolutely every metatalk post sees the light of day instantly and also some occasionally get deleted nearly instantly for being terrible and others don't quite get deleted but are huge messes because of the way they're framed" is fundamentally better than "most metatalks see the light of day very rapidly and the instadeletes and really really problematically framed ones get a bit of discussion and potential reframing first" in a way that is critical to the site ethos. My preference would be to have the resources to run with the former and make it work, but the core purpose of Metatalk, to let people talk about the site and the community and moderation and policy and so on, is served by both.

I have mixed feelings about that. One of the hardest things I have wrestled with is that, like any normal human, I am prone to assuming that other people are wired like me and thus are motivated by the same things which motivate me and I am typically acting in good faith, so I assume others are as well. This does not happen to be true. Plus, even if someone is acting in good faith, if you have some big personal issue (and many people here do) or simply do not fit in socially for some reason, the initial framing can just be so bad as to make the discussion more downside than up. And given that the stated goals of this move and the site history and that this is being implemented by the some of the same people who ran it when it was more Insta-MeTa and some of the things stated here by said staff, I strongly suspect that helping folks with issues frame things in a way that is not a train wreck desperately trying to happen right out the gate will be a net benefit for both the site and those individuals who are prone, for some reason, to shooting themselves in the foot.

The MeTa used as a kind of case study earlier in this discussion was a) badly framed b) posted by someone who kind of has an axe to grind on the topic of how mental health gets discussed here and c) the OP stormed off shortly into it. I strongly suspect that having it go to a mod first and getting some help on framing it better would have a) better served the OP's stated agenda b) helped prevent him from catching fall out as an axe grinder, thus getting the point taken more seriously and c) thus made it less likely that he would storm off. It likely would have been a net positive for his experience and for the site.

One of my MeTa's, while not a bad MeTa, also could have been handled via email had there been a queue. The contact form was not working for me and I did not know how else to contact the mods to say "Yo, can this be fixed in case I (or others using an Android) really need it?" I was okay with the contact form having failed to work for me the night before. That turned out to be a case of "Uh, never mind" once I had some time to think about it on my own and decide for myself how best to handle the situation without basically doxing myself to the mods beforehand and I am okay with how the MeTa went but that whole experience informs my view that sometimes being prevented from opening mouth and inserting foot, especially very publically, is all to the good for both the potential OP and the rest of the community. Because when I posted the MeTa, the first reply was "you should have used the contact form, this is not appropriate for MeTa" from one of the mods. Who then backed up a step and went, "um, whoops", basically. So I think it went fine but I can also see where, seriously, it would have been equally fine for all parties had the result been a private email discussion and the form being fixed instead of a public discussion and the form being fixed and an unapproved MeTa never hitting the grey.

Two of the mods remaining have proven to me that they operate pretty close to a "justice is blind" model and have a track record of being pretty even handed. I guess I would feel differently if that were not the case (and I say this as someone who I am pretty confident was and possibly still is viewed by the team as a "problem child", not someone the mods adore and describe as "a treasure" in public). Given that I have two special needs sons and I have worked in insurance, where I got HIPAA training and all that, I have had a lot of opportunities to ponder what works "for the best." And, basically, that is never entirely dependent upon what policies are in place. There is always a factor of good human judgment and whether or not you can trust the folks in authority. There is always a difference between what the policy is de jure and what the policy is de facto. If the folks in charge are bad apples, it kind of doesn't much matter what the stated rules are, you will be screwed. And if they are decent human beings, trying in earnest to do right by both the group as a whole and the individuals involved, it also kind of doesn't matter much what the stated rules are, you will get treated as well as they can manage, in an imperfect world where there are almost never perfect answers that make everyone happy all the time.


I would love to hear more reassurance that this "convincing" and reframing will not actually be a regular occurrence nor a dealbreaker to posting, even if the post is put off until it's more convenient.

As someone who needs a lot of helping fitting in, not just here but anywhere I go, I really honestly think that a good faith effort by the mods will make previously "guaranteed to be a train wreck" MeTas into something more constructive for not only the community but for individuals posting them and then getting upset at not being taken seriously, not being treated with respect, etc. I won't belabor the point because I feel I already addressed that above but did want to point it out specifically in reply to your concern (upon preview and all that).
posted by Michele in California at 11:22 AM on May 31, 2014 [4 favorites]


but I do mind posts needing to be being pre-emptively approved and reframed to be less problematic before they can be posted.

Well, I think it's pretty obvious that this recent MeTa which Matt specifically refers to early in this thread could have benefited from a bit of specific re-wording in order to make it a post that accomplished its callout goals without being deliberately button-pushy or having a built-in derail.

How many man-hours did monitoring that MeTa require? I don't know. Right now our mod team has 3 people to man 168 hours a week's worth of work. That's a 56-hour work week for each mod, assuming no overlap.

I'd rather have seen that thread be posted without racially-loaded words after some backchannel back-and-forth with the member who wrote the post. From what I gather, the mod team would have preferred that, too.
posted by hippybear at 11:23 AM on May 31, 2014 [13 favorites]


Or, what Michelle in California just said.
posted by hippybear at 11:24 AM on May 31, 2014


Complaining about this change and forcing the few mods we have on duty to waste their time answering your every whimper and useless suggestion demonstrates perfectly why the change needs to occur.

Things are different in Metafilter now because they are trying to find ways to still exist. Give Mat and Co a break as much as you can y'all.


Maybe my snark level is high but here's my reaction to the more negative or suspicious / interrogative feedback:

"Have you considered..." Condescending, have you considered that your consideration is totally obvious and would be weighed by thoughtful people running the site, except the one about displaying the very queue they're trying to manage which defeats the whole purpose?

"I'm not happy..." So sorry, they're trying to keep the lights on, how much do you tip at restaurants, this reminds me of something...

"Chilling..." I'd be more worried about this sort of tedious nitpicking and constant questioning leading to a sell-off and cash-out, probably a greater risk than someone's expression being stifled due to a queue on the most contentious area of the site.
posted by aydeejones at 11:27 AM on May 31, 2014


Right now our mod team has 3 people to man 168 hours a week's worth of work.

Matt's modding too I think, so it's more like four people.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 11:30 AM on May 31, 2014 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I'm working 30-40hrs/week modding on top of other stuff.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 11:32 AM on May 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


Two of the mods remaining have proven to me that they operate pretty close to a "justice is blind" model and have a track record of being pretty even handed.

Just to be clear, I am NOT implying that "other mods don't do that." I am saying "I have adequate data to draw a firm conclusion on two people who have impressed the hell out of me and I don't easily impress."

Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.
posted by Michele in California at 11:33 AM on May 31, 2014


On another note, it would be great if people expressing their concerns weren't dismissed as just not loving the mods or Mefi enough, or if concerns about other members' bad behavior weren't misinterpreted as a desire to behave badly.

I don't see it that way at all. What I see seems more like a fixation on anticipating hypothetical problems and expecting the mods to be able to provide solutions for all those problems that will convince even the most skeptical member, before those problems even come to pass. It's a form of catastrophizing, of attempting to play some master chess strategy so that every potential problem or feeling of discomfort is put into check. Well, life doesn't work that way, so why should Metafilter?

There will be problems. We are a community of adults, and we will deal with it, just as we have for nearly 15 years. (15 years! Woo!) It's not that I feel people who are resisting this do not love Metafilter sufficiently; I just feel they're not giving this community (the mods, the other members, and themselves) sufficient credit for having the collective skills to solve those problems as they arise.

As for ModAid... well, let me check in with the Modfather the next time we hang out and I'll see what I can do.
posted by scody at 11:37 AM on May 31, 2014 [4 favorites]


You know who else believed absence of evidence is not evidence of absence?

Yeah, me neither. Someone has to though. You can't be the only one.
posted by cjorgensen at 11:38 AM on May 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


this change all-at-once transforms MetaTalk from the least moderated part of the site to the most moderated.

This is overblowing it a bit. Every Projects post has to be approved by a mod (me), since day one. Every anon Ask MeFi question has been reviewed before posting. Every FanFare post goes into a mod queue. It's far from an earth-shifting change to "most moderated".
posted by mathowie (staff) at 11:59 AM on May 31, 2014 [6 favorites]


Every FanFare post goes into a mod queue.

I've had eight FanFare posts about six different shows, and the total time they've sat in the FF queue might be an hour and a half. Probably closer to an hour. I have zero issue with MeTa posts undergoing a similar regimen.
posted by Etrigan at 12:03 PM on May 31, 2014 [2 favorites]


Frankly, anything that can help prevent crap like the last fighty Metatalk mentioned earlier in this thread is probably a good thing.
posted by Justinian at 12:09 PM on May 31, 2014 [2 favorites]


MetaTalk from the least moderated part of the site to the most moderated.

When a borderline-shitty MeTa like "that recent MeTa which Matt specifically refers to early in this thread" hits the site, it requires an excessive amount of attention from the mods. If anything, that puts the lie to that claim. This change will certainly improve the overall quality of MeTa content, which I'm sure will upset the portion of the readership who enjoy shitstorms, flameouts and asshattery as a cheap form of entertainment. They will now be denied the joy of those moments when MetaFilter fails to keep a higher standard than every other part of the Web. Sorry, doods. As a former (and recovering) abuser of MeTa, I fully endorse this change.
posted by oneswellfoop at 12:11 PM on May 31, 2014 [6 favorites]


> What I do know is that defensive responses from mods and hyperbolic comments from other people explaining how those with concerns are whimpering ingrates is probably not going to help.

You're the one who's being hyperbolic. Who said anything about whimpering ingrates? A lot of people are chiming in to say "Hey, I have no problem with it," and I'm hereby joining them; why is that disgusting sucking-up (or whatever hyperbolic term you might choose for it) rather than simply stating one's preference, a traditional thing to do in MeTa? And how exactly are the mods being "defensive" other than not saying "You're right, it's a terrible idea, let's drop it"? Are they not supposed to explain their reasoning?
posted by languagehat at 12:27 PM on May 31, 2014 [20 favorites]


Language hat, that was probably a reference to this comment:

Complaining about this change and forcing the few mods we have on duty to waste their time answering your every whimper and useless suggestion demonstrates perfectly why the change needs to occur.

Things are different in Metafilter now because they are trying to find ways to still exist. Give Mat and Co a break as much as you can y'all.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:21 AM on May 31
[5 favorites +] [!]

posted by zarq at 3:23 PM on May 31, 2014 [2 favorites]


I will continue to submit posts through my hidden network of courier toads.
posted by krinklyfig at 3:30 PM on May 31, 2014 [3 favorites]


yea I posted some mild discomfort with this change but I'll live and am basically ok with it - we're allowed to say we don't like something without being ANTI METAFILTER or whimpering or simpering or pickling etc
posted by sweetkid at 3:39 PM on May 31, 2014 [3 favorites]


yea I posted some mild discomfort with this change but I'll live and am basically ok with it - we're allowed to say we don't like something without being ANTI METAFILTER or whimpering or simpering or pickling etc

100X yes.

If your knee-jerk reaction to any policy is complete and utter support, thats cool. Thats how a lot of people in the real world are with lot of things. But please don't chastise those that choose to not have faith in your beliefs.
posted by hal_c_on at 4:30 PM on May 31, 2014 [2 favorites]


Look, I'm not saying that I'm going to cut off my hand, SILENCED ALL MY LIFE or sekrit mod cabal conspiracy. I'm trying to point out a possible negative unintended consequence that I'd like to have taken into consideration.

aydeejones: ""I'm not happy..." So sorry, they're trying to keep the lights on, how much do you tip at restaurants, this reminds me of something...

"Chilling..." I'd be more worried about this sort of tedious nitpicking and constant questioning leading to a sell-off and cash-out, probably a greater risk than someone's expression being stifled due to a queue on the most contentious area of the site.
"

I'm well aware of Metafilter's financial difficulties. I've done my small part to help. I don't expect any special treatment for that. If tedious nitpicking was ever going to trigger the sale of Metafilter, I think that would have happened a long time ago. We have a long history here of discussing site policy in great detail. We even have jargon for it: beanplating. This is a change in site policy. The primary purpose of Metatalk is discussion of site policy. I'm sorry you find it tedious.

To answer your question, I tip 25%, rounded up to the nearest dollar. I tip more for exemplary service. I would greatly prefer not to have to tip at all, secure in the knowledge that waitstaff are well paid. But they're not.
posted by double block and bleed at 4:31 PM on May 31, 2014 [5 favorites]


Every FanFare post goes into a mod queue.

I've had eight FanFare posts about six different shows, and the total time they've sat in the FF queue might be an hour and a half. Probably closer to an hour. I have zero issue with MeTa posts undergoing a similar regimen.


So, I noticed that Hold and Catch Fire premieres tomorrow night. I figure, Yeah, I bet that'll be popular on FanFare, but huh, it's not on the list of shows. So I suggest it, and less than 10 minutes later (probably closer to 5, but I wasn't actually testing the system, so I didn't check), it's been approved. That's around 7:30 on a Saturday night.

The trigger-to-bang time on MetaTalk won't cause any bullets to miss their target (except for some that shouldn't have been shot in the first place).
posted by Etrigan at 4:49 PM on May 31, 2014


I'm OK with this policy change because I find the mods' argument for its utility persuasive based on my experience reading and participating in MetaTalk threads, and I believe that any problems stemming from this new policy, should they arise at all, can be handled productively.
posted by audi alteram partem at 5:23 PM on May 31, 2014


But please don't chastise those that choose to not have faith in your beliefs.

It's odd that you use the word "faith" here when what I see here is a lot of people fearful of being oppressed, silenced, or otherwise disenfranchised based on little more than faith in a belief that it will happen. And what does seem a little overwrought to me is why it even matters that much. Metatalk isn't Congress. I'm pretty sure Matt doesn't have Edward Snowden in his basement. I don't think he's planning a bloody invasion of the Huff Po. Absolute worst case here is: someone can't air a grievance on a website largely devoted to swapping entertaining news items and coffee-klatching. I mean, yes, the consequences of such a thing would be terrible, but I think I could go on with my life.
posted by octobersurprise at 5:24 PM on May 31, 2014 [5 favorites]


a lot of people fearful of being oppressed, silenced, or otherwise disenfranchised based on little more than faith in a belief that it will happen.

User, please.
posted by hal_c_on at 5:44 PM on May 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


Nobody's "fearful of being oppressed". We just want to make sure that our voices are heard when we say:

"Yes, we understand why you may be making this temporary change. But we also want the site to understand that we do not like it. There is a reason it existed and was often-used, and making it less accessible to all users doesn't sit well in our bellies for X reasons. We know that nothing sneaky or underhanded will go on, but is it not better to ensure it than trust it. We wish the site best of luck in re-instituting it again as soon as it can. Period."

Well thats just me saying it, maybe not anyone else. But come on, just because someone voices a concern, doesn't mean that they are being oppressed.

What I don't understand is why people need to speak up about disagreeing with the people who have concerns about something. Like most users on this site, your silence is an implicit agreement with the status quo. But minimizing the concerns of others is kinda offensive.
posted by hal_c_on at 5:44 PM on May 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


Absolute worst case here is: someone can't air a grievance on a website largely devoted to swapping entertaining news items and coffee-klatching. I mean, yes, the consequences of such a thing would be terrible, but I think I could go on with my life.

Some people view Metafilter primarily a website devoted to swapping entertaining news items and coffee-klatching and some people view it primarily as a community of people who sometimes participate in those activities. The latter tend to view these sorts of discussions as more important than the former.

Not that I think this is a problematic change, just that I don't think it's right to dismiss it as unimportant because this is "just a website".
posted by Justinian at 5:46 PM on May 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


The last time I updated my profile you also removed the picture of me and my MetaFilter spouse, which definitely sent some grief my way since somebody assumed I did it on purpose.
posted by NortonDC at 6:00 PM on May 31, 2014


I have to agree here - the people opposing this are nothing but tinfoil clad metaquixote's who would destroy mefi's whole existence.

But Lo ! Help is at hand ! Our modly heroes are working 24 hours a day to prevent these nefarious scoundrels !

This new and completely spontaneous plan will stop them in their tracks !

Huzzah for MetaFilter !

Huzzah for the mods !
posted by sgt.serenity at 6:01 PM on May 31, 2014


Huzzah for the mods !
posted by sgt.serenity at 2:01 PM on June 1 [+] [!]


Jesus I am sick of you dude.
posted by supercrayon at 6:25 PM on May 31, 2014 [6 favorites]


Am I happy about the queue? No. I generally believe that allowing people to immediately air their hyperbolic grievances in a place other than the blue or green can be good, in much the same ways as a "take it outside, guys" type of bar fight. A great deal of damage can be done to a thread during a half hour wait period, specifically, the type that requires a great deal of moderation resources.

There is sometimes a long term benefit to letting people argue and then hug out a disagreement, as opposed to the "I'll just take my ball and go home" mentality that tends to create perpetual bitterness that gets carried from thread to thread.

I think that I would have to agree with sweetkid and hal_c_on here; I don't like it, but I'll live. The fact that MetaFilter is having a financial downturn makes me feel like this is merely a minor upset compared to what we could have been forced to give up. Especially considering that the queue time probably won't be terribly long.
posted by Shouraku at 6:27 PM on May 31, 2014


If I may be frank, what really troubles me is that I'm about a third of the way through the new Van Vechten biography and I've only just now realized that it was written by Edward White not Edmund White.

(Which is a relief, because I was beginning to think ol' Edmund's standards were slipping a bit.)
posted by octobersurprise at 6:33 PM on May 31, 2014 [3 favorites]


Oh, FFS….(I stopped reading comments at about 200)

Put up the money to run the site or STFU.

Sure, yes, we would all like to have a say in things, but that is not how business works. Go fuck yourselves first then complain about the lack of MeTa later. Y’all do not have a voice in this decision because you do not pay the bills. Being an “active user” does not count. Your favorites list does not mean shit.

Really, this is a business decision and sometimes that shit sucks. Be grateful for the part that is left. I am absolutely positive that MF mgmt have done the best they can do. Give them a fucking break. I am sure that your best interests were represented when they made the decision to downsize.

All this blathering is, well, stupid fucking blathering and moreover, wankering. Have fun pulling your dicks. It will not change a thing.

pinheads
posted by lampshade at 6:40 PM on May 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


Last week, I fell off a horse and broke my collarbone.

- William Faulkner
posted by Pudhoho at 6:43 PM on May 31, 2014


Have fun pulling your dicks.

More, not less moderation on MetaTalk would improve this community.
posted by cribcage at 6:52 PM on May 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


More, not less moderation on MetaTalk would improve this community.

open your wallet. make that happen.
posted by lampshade at 7:00 PM on May 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


i am done with this thread.
good bye

posted by lampshade at 7:02 PM on May 31, 2014


I'm not sure if that was supposed to be supportive of us but it sure didn't feel like it.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 7:05 PM on May 31, 2014 [22 favorites]


Perhaps the best thing to do is see what happens? I recognize the problems presented by the lowered staffing; I also recognize some validity in people's concerns about the MeTa queue. The only way to see if those concerns are realized is to see what plays out under actual field conditions.

People often forecast doom on MeTa. Sometimes more accurately than others.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:08 PM on May 31, 2014 [3 favorites]


It was however the first instance that I've seen of what some people raised as a fear in the funding discussions, that making donations public even optionally would create social ripples. ("Put up or shut up.") That's unfortunate to see.
posted by cribcage at 7:10 PM on May 31, 2014 [2 favorites]


Metafilter has gone through changes before

technically mefi is going through puberty right now which tbh explains a lot
posted by elizardbits at 7:17 PM on May 31, 2014 [13 favorites]


More, not less moderation on MetaTalk would improve this community.

I could not disagree more strongly. Deletion of comments like those from sgt. serenity or lampshade might seem like the best thing to do because they smooth the bumpiness (and outright shit-stirring, in some cases) that is inevitable in any large and diverse group of people.

But one of the pillars that make make community possible, along with trust, is a feeling that we have an idea of who people are, or at least how they present themselves, that has some kind of temporal continuity.

If comments that are distasteful or contrarian or otherwise objectionable in some way to some people (even to most people) are deleted, we are left to labour under misapprehensions about what some people actually think. And that's harmful to community, I reckon, even if we strongly disagree with those people.

What I'm saying is: I reckon except in the most extreme of cases, comments in MeTa should not be deleted -- and, historically, they haven't. So, discussion about MeTa post queuing aside, I think the status quo there is just about right.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:17 PM on May 31, 2014 [10 favorites]


Go fuck yourselves

Just to be clear, that is not actual moderation policy.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:18 PM on May 31, 2014 [37 favorites]


1. Should the name of a backchannel for MeTa be MetaMetaTalk or MetaTalkTalk?

2. Is there a certain revenue goal at which we can get the opposite of a queue that posts everyone's flag history to MeTa for discussion?
posted by michaelh at 7:48 PM on May 31, 2014


Go fuck yourselves first then complain about the lack of MeTa later.

Did the former, feeling pretty relaxed and mellow now.

S'up MeTa. How's it going?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:55 PM on May 31, 2014 [8 favorites]


Well, that escalated quickly.
posted by double block and bleed at 8:44 PM on May 31, 2014 [2 favorites]


It's clearly displacement and probably shouldn't be the object of too much focus here.
posted by planetesimal at 8:50 PM on May 31, 2014


You know, it's been a while since we raffled to ban someone… that could lighten the mod load and raise money. It worked once.
posted by klangklangston at 9:18 PM on May 31, 2014


Metafilter has gone through changes before

technically mefi is going through puberty right now which tbh explains a lot


Once again, Ozzy.
posted by klangklangston at 9:20 PM on May 31, 2014


You know, it's been a while since we raffled to ban someone… that could lighten the mod load and raise money. It worked once.

They both came back, tho. :)
posted by zarq at 9:26 PM on May 31, 2014


The system works!
posted by klangklangston at 9:32 PM on May 31, 2014


- We don't let people look at us on our webcams

You don't consider this a potential source of revenue?
posted by Pudhoho at 10:18 PM on May 31, 2014 [3 favorites]


Go fuck yourselves

Just to be clear, that is not actual moderation policy.


No. In fact, it seems to be the raison detre for metatalk.
posted by hal_c_on at 10:21 PM on May 31, 2014


Good lord, #1. Go back and edit your typo.
posted by planetesimal at 10:36 PM on May 31, 2014


Surely he meant that Metatalk is a great place for those who are master debaters? There can never be too much master debating in Metatalk.
posted by taz (staff) at 10:54 PM on May 31, 2014 [4 favorites]


"Put up the money to run the site or STFU."

Well, the members and moderators both provide value. It's not really an either/or thing.

Unmoderated the membership would descend into a battle for the conch. Without the contributions of the membership it would be a blog with six or seven people with little to do.
posted by vapidave at 12:10 AM on June 1, 2014


Well, that escalated quickly.

It was the oysters.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:54 AM on June 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


Did the earth move for you?
posted by Pudhoho at 1:20 AM on June 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


So I stopped reading this thread at the point where there was a generous offer to give an animated gif of popcorn eating.

I then skipped all sorts of drama (which is fine) that I see the remnants of in the bottom of the screen.

My complaint: at no point in that scrolling did I see Jessamyn's popcorn .gif.
(I know this is a derail, you can find my request for a new metatalk thread in the metatalk queue)
posted by el io at 1:57 AM on June 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


Thanks, Brandon, I'm stuck with three broken fingers.
posted by Pudhoho at 3:04 AM on June 1, 2014


You know, it's been a while since we raffled to ban someone… that could lighten the mod load and raise money. It worked once.

A great idea - you can have a raffle to ban me on the condition all monies raised go towards a mefi scholarship.

Deal ?
posted by sgt.serenity at 3:31 AM on June 1, 2014


Nobody knows who you are :)
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:48 AM on June 1, 2014 [4 favorites]


el io: "...there was a generous offer...of popcorn...I then skipped all sorts of drama...My complaint: at no point in that scrolling did I see...popcorn...I know this is a derail..."

This is not a derail! A MeTa post without popcorn is like a day without sunshine.

I'm thinking about using an air-popper, like we did in the 80s. Microwave popcorn is so easy, but it's kind of expensive (even if you buy the 10 pound box at Costco) and generates a lot of trash. An air-popper is about as easy and quick and it's cheaper. I can use better popcorn and real butter instead of the industrial grease they use in the bags.

I know that making it on the stove with coconut oil is the best way, but after 11 hours of commuting and working, I just don't have the gumption.
posted by double block and bleed at 10:48 AM on June 1, 2014


Coconut oil, you say? *runs of to the store*
posted by arcticseal at 12:05 PM on June 1, 2014


Microwave popcorn is also horrible for the people who manufacture it, but breath/eat enough and you could become rich!

I get this information from the highly credible site popcornlung.com.
posted by cjorgensen at 1:23 PM on June 1, 2014


BTW: Black Jewell is the best popcorn on earth.
posted by double block and bleed at 3:08 PM on June 1, 2014 [2 favorites]


Potomac Avenue: "Nobody knows who you are :)"

Ginsberg: "I feel sorry for you."
Don: "I don't think about you at all."
posted by Chrysostom at 6:13 PM on June 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


Coconut oil is what I use in my beard every day after my shower. It keeps it soft and lovely in ways that are difficult to explain unless you've experienced my beard after 3-4 days without oiling (which was definitely possible after the MeFi camping meetup a couple of weeks ago).

What I'm saying is, do you want your popcorn soft and lovely? Then use coconut oil.
posted by hippybear at 11:41 AM on June 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


coconut oil is the new kale
posted by sweetkid at 12:11 PM on June 3, 2014


Those Whole Foods bags make me want to force a food blogger and a marketing exec to fight to the death.
posted by planetesimal at 12:13 PM on June 3, 2014 [3 favorites]


That salad in #1 looks so good though
posted by sweetkid at 12:15 PM on June 3, 2014


The Metatalk post submitted screen says:
Thanks, your post has been submitted. MetaTalk posts are being queued up for this US holiday season so your post will go up shortly or you will be contacted directly if better addressed that way.
The bit about US Holiday season should probably be excised.
posted by Mitheral at 8:37 PM on June 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


Ha! Yes, that was even on my vague excuse for a todo list, I guess we didn't get to it. Will fix.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:03 PM on June 5, 2014


Fixed now, thanks for letting us know.
posted by pb (staff) at 9:03 PM on June 5, 2014


I treat every season like it's US Holiday Season.
posted by SpiffyRob at 5:11 AM on June 6, 2014


For all those who were wondering my recent meta went though the queue by the time I had composed and submitted the bug report above (15 minutes maybe).
posted by Mitheral at 7:55 AM on June 7, 2014


Not terribly urgent, but maybe the mods would like to speak about this thread getting through the queue with apparent doxxing info?
posted by planetesimal at 3:30 PM on June 10, 2014


Just got by us at a glance; the submission came in right on the tail of a related question/complaint in the contact form and without catching the (on second glance conspicuous) name-and-shame shit in the title it just looked like that user taking their general complaint to metatalk. Obviously shouldn't have gone through as such, but we goofed.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:48 PM on June 10, 2014


Basically my brain replaced the proper nouns with [username] and it wasn't til someone mentioned it and I cross-checked that I realized it wasn't the guy's username but his profile name. Totally a bonehead error on my part.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 3:49 PM on June 10, 2014


Ah, humans and their brains. Thanks for the clarification.
posted by planetesimal at 3:55 PM on June 10, 2014


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