A reminder to be kind to each other June 12, 2014 8:30 AM   Subscribe

Metafilter has been rife with strong emotions lately. Our beloved community has been shaken up by the departure of mods, changes in rules and expectations, and posts that have rocked feelings and upset members. There is nothing like this community anywhere else on the internet. All of our members are fantastic and work to make this place unique and inviting. It's perfectly okay to have strong opinions. One of the best things about Metafilter is the ability to express those opinions and be respected. It has been hard to watch the growing unhappiness in this community as of late. I invite you to remember that everyone needs a hug from time to time.
posted by royalsong to MetaFilter-Related at 8:30 AM (103 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

Hey, who died departed as a moderator and made you hugs monitor, huh?
posted by Curious Artificer at 8:43 AM on June 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


*hugs Curious Artificer*






to death.
posted by sparklemotion at 8:44 AM on June 12, 2014 [24 favorites]


There's still bright spots here and there. As someone who participated in a lot of really ugly threads back in the day, and did my small part to help steer the community toward better understanding, I was incredibly pleasantly surprised by this thread about agendr/genderqueer/gendernonconforming/nonbinary people. After a quick language derail, the discussion righted itself and it became a beautiful discussion where a lot of people felt safe to share their experiences and supported each other through something a lot of us are still trying to figure out.

Metafilter surprises you sometimes. That being said, I'm still staying like 4000 feet away from the Dan Savage thread on the blue today.
posted by Juliet Banana at 8:46 AM on June 12, 2014 [14 favorites]


Self Appointed!

I have been seriously distressed at all the rawr, especially on MeTa lately. I felt a community wide hug couldn't hurt.
posted by royalsong at 8:49 AM on June 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


I had kind of hoped that recent financial troubles and ensuing fundraising would have amped up the we're-all-friends/family-here vibe. It did for me, at least. So I have been sort of startled by some of the bad blood.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:53 AM on June 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


One of the best things about Metafilter is the ability to express those opinions and be respected.

One of the things with which I struggled when I first joined Metafilter is that I wanted to be a recognized and notable personality but I didn't want to be a jerk. Of course, the easiest way to become recognized is to be vitriolic and/or insert your voice in a lot of places even if you don't have anything to say. This means it can be really, really difficult to establish yourself as a thoughtful, reasonable person because the more thoughtful and reasonable you are the harder it is to feel "established". I really appreciate that, on Metafilter, we have a lot of thoughtful and reasonable people who work hard to make their contributions positive and helpful and to refrain from commenting when they don't feel that what they add will be useful or appropriate*.

This also means that it's easy for the vitriol to rise to the top because the people who are NOT being thoughtful are not stopping themselves from commenting. There are so many thoughtful, reasonable people here who are making the attempt to interact positively and it's a real shame that this effort is so often undermined.

I really, really like Metafilter as a community and I have a ton of respect for so many people but I think it would indeed be super awesome if we could all make the effort to maybe be a little more thoughtful when we respond to others. Most of the people here aren't jerks and I don't think we should let the jerks set the tone for the conversation.

*I'd like to believe I'm one of these people although I know I'm not, but I am working on it. For example, I'm trying to stay out of education threads because I know they make me angry and I don't always respond in the best way and I sometimes overpost in them.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 8:54 AM on June 12, 2014 [23 favorites]


I appreciate this, and I'm happy to see a call for people to be mindful of how we treat each other here. Thank you, royalsong.

Juliet Banana: "That being said, I'm still staying like 4000 feet away from the Dan Savage thread on the blue today."

Yeah, right?
posted by boo_radley at 9:06 AM on June 12, 2014 [7 favorites]


royalsong: "One of the best things about Metafilter is the ability to express those opinions and be respected."

This is not one of the things I'm seeing much of lately. The vitriol and mean-spirited comments have been shocking.
posted by Big_B at 9:10 AM on June 12, 2014 [16 favorites]


The vitriol and mean-spirited comments have been shocking.

I don't think there's any avoiding those types of things on the Internets though, and so (to me) what makes MeFi really extra super special is the way we, as a community, choose respond to those thoughts and comments. And/Or, the way we, as a community, focus on and appreciate all of the good and wonderful thoughts and comments in spite of the vitriol.

Letting the negativity get the better of you, letting it taint your attitude and your contributions, or shock you into silence/leaving, just propagates the problem.

*HUGS*
posted by carsonb at 9:23 AM on June 12, 2014


when I first joined Metafilter is that I wanted to be a recognized and notable personality...

I think this concept touches on part of the issue, Mrs. Pterodactyl. Some of the loudest members seem to have a brand that they need to reinforce. Rather than try to respect or understand a different viewpoint, they have a need to become the definitive voice on their pet topics and it just becomes tiresome. And fighty.
posted by FreezBoy at 9:27 AM on June 12, 2014 [20 favorites]


I had kind of hoped that recent financial troubles and ensuing fundraising would have amped up the we're-all-friends/family-here vibe. It did for me, at least. So I have been sort of startled by some of the bad blood.

And here I thought that most of us donated because we wanted MetaFilter to stay the same? The occasional contentious MeTa thread is just part of the site's character.

If everyone agreed on everything to avoid rocking the boat and no one ever got emotional over anything then this site would be really boring.
posted by Jacqueline at 9:29 AM on June 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


royalsong, great post.

One of the things with which I struggled when I first joined Metafilter is that I wanted to be a recognized and notable personality but I didn't want to be a jerk. Of course, the easiest way to become recognized is to be vitriolic and/or insert your voice in a lot of places even if you don't have anything to say.

I'd completely agree.

Unfortunately I think one thing that fuels this is the favorite function. A post can be horribly sarcastic, angry, and vitriolic, but if it's got 40 favorites attached, it seems less likely to be deleted or edited by a mod.

"Favorites" naturally leads to reddit-esque behavior, including posters consciously or subconsciously gunning for favorites by speaking to popular opinion in the loudest and most emphatic way possible.

(And yes, there is certainly a "popular opinion" on most contentious issues around here. That's because yes, MetaFilter does have a core demographic. If you deny these things I think you're being a bit disingenuous.)

We do have plenty of good discussions where people share thoughtful, considerate comments, and I think that's great. Could getting rid of favorites help us see more of that, and could our mods be a little more forceful about ensuring that members don't get so loud and shouty (even if their opinion is popular)?

If everyone agreed on everything to avoid rocking the boat and no one ever got emotional over anything then this site would be really boring.

I'd have to disagree. It's not about "avoiding rocking the boat" or about "never getting emotional over anything." Rather, in my opinion, it's about having a site culture where members are consistently thoughtful, measured, and considerate in their comments. I'd sure enjoy reading the site more if we had more of that. But as is, I avoid even bothering to read most blue threads on social or political issues, because I'm tired of seeing loud and sarcastic grandstanding.

I don't come here for internet drama. I come here for quality content and discussion.
posted by Old Man McKay at 9:40 AM on June 12, 2014 [8 favorites]


If everyone agreed on everything to avoid rocking the boat and no one ever got emotional over anything then this site would be really boring.

Heh - the old Vorlons vs. the Shadows argument.

I think it's possible to disagree without being disagreeable, and that this need not be a boring thing.
posted by Mooski at 9:41 AM on June 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


Uh....I'm not at all sure what you guys are talking about, and I'd honestly like to know. None of the threads I've checked out lately have struck me as notably vitriolic, and I even read that Cantor thread; normally I skip all the politics ones. But I certainly don't read everything.
posted by Diablevert at 9:59 AM on June 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


Big_B: "This is not one of the things I'm seeing much of lately. The vitriol and mean-spirited comments have been shocking."

But vitriol and mean-spirted comments account for half of my accumulated favorites!
posted by pwnguin at 9:59 AM on June 12, 2014


I am routinely amazed at how exercised certain people here get about certain topics and find it better if I avoid such topics entirely.
posted by dfriedman at 10:00 AM on June 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


Metafilter needs more Danny O'Keefe right now.
posted by octobersurprise at 10:02 AM on June 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


"Favorites" naturally leads to reddit-esque behavior, including posters consciously or subconsciously gunning for favorites by speaking to popular opinion in the loudest and most emphatic way possible.

I've been around since before favorites were even a thing and I don't think behavior really changed once they were added. If anything, I think people tend to be more open minded about things than they used to be.

Since favorites are basically meaningless, in that you can't exchange them for goods or services, I don't see why anyone would ever change their posting behavior just to get them. I'm aware there are cases where this happens, it just doesn't make any sense to me.

I could be wrong, of course, and I'm sure it would be impossible to dig up hard data proving it one way or another. I'd be curious what other old timers have to say.

I was a long time member of another forum when they added a favorites type system and people made the same argument about how it changed (or would change) behavior and I didn't see it there either.

Again, it's entirely possible I'm just clueless when it comes to such things, but I don't think so.

Thanks for this post, Royalsong. Kindness is something we can never have too much of, and something the Internet seems to be lacking.
posted by bondcliff at 10:02 AM on June 12, 2014 [5 favorites]


Sorry, we're going to have to postpone this until January 21.
posted by desjardins at 10:05 AM on June 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


I've been around since before favorites were even a thing and I don't think behavior really changed once they were added. If anything, I think people tend to be more open minded about things than they used to be.

You might be right about that- I could be overestimating the influence of this kind of system, or getting it wrong entirely.

I've been a reader since 2001 and only joined a few years back, and I do think it's not as if there was some sort of big sea change when that feature was added.

I don't see why anyone would ever change their posting behavior just to get them. I'm aware there are cases where this happens, it just doesn't make any sense to me.

Me either. But in my observation internet points matter to a lot of people (in the same way that game high scores matter, for example), and internet points tend to motivate people to do whatever it takes to score said points.

You make good points- thanks for responding.
posted by Old Man McKay at 10:12 AM on June 12, 2014


> f it's got 40 favorites attached, it seems less likely to be deleted or edited by a mod.

I don't believe that is true. But maybe a mod can weigh in on this.
posted by Too-Ticky at 10:18 AM on June 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


Old Man McKay: "Could getting rid of favorites help us see more of that, and could our mods be a little more forceful about ensuring that members don't get so loud and shouty (even if their opinion is popular)?"

I believe there was an experiment that can help us here. The hypothesis is that favorite seeking behavior leads to mod activity, which can be measured a couple of ways: flags intended to summon mods, or even actual mod interventions. So you might, for example, see if reduced favorite visibility reduced the correlation between # favorites and flags.

I'm not a scientist or statistician, so there's probably better ways to design this natural experiment. But it seems like the data is there to be picked over, and there's other interesting questions that arise. You've alleged that mods are swayed by favorites, and assuming they participated in the experiment, the data likely has a confirmation or rebuttal.
posted by pwnguin at 10:19 AM on June 12, 2014


It's a thread posted to remind MeFites to be nice to each other. I think we shouldn't use it to reopen the discussion on favorites, which has been so divisive and contentious in the past.
posted by grouse at 10:28 AM on June 12, 2014 [11 favorites]


Interesting point, pwnguin. My idea up there is 100% anecdotal- I see why other people would disagree and maybe there's indeed some data to back it up.

To bondcliff's point earlier, it's not as if rude, snarky posts are something new on the blue. Out of curiosity I went back and clicked through a few 2001 and 2002 threads and yep, there they were there too.

Sorry for the derail, grouse. To circle back to the main point, that idea came to mind after seeing so many snarky high-favorite-volume posts over the last few days.

In any case, I don't know how to solve the issue, but it'd sure be nicer if we could find some way to discourage unnecessary snark and vitriol, that's all!
posted by Old Man McKay at 10:30 AM on June 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


Bunny Hugs to Everyone!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:31 AM on June 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


This is a good reminder that compassion, thoughtfulness and kindness trump just about everything else.
posted by naju at 10:33 AM on June 12, 2014 [6 favorites]


*hugs bottle of wine*
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:36 AM on June 12, 2014 [5 favorites]


<3
posted by cristinacristinacristina at 10:39 AM on June 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


Seriously, is this just about that Trader Joes' thread with the Rolling Stones song or is there some other ongoing shitshow that people are making coded references to?
posted by Diablevert at 10:47 AM on June 12, 2014 [5 favorites]


I honestly think a lot of interactions on the site would go better if a few simple steps were taken:


* More benefit of the doubt given, less "worst possible interpretation of a comment" assumed as true

* Anything resembling a personal insult deleted automatically (no matter how well "deserved" the target) even in Metatalk

* Fewer comments dripping in sarcasm or with an "Oh, SNAP!" vibe
posted by The Gooch at 10:47 AM on June 12, 2014 [20 favorites]


Unfortunately I think one thing that fuels this is the favorite function. A post can be horribly sarcastic, angry, and vitriolic, but if it's got 40 favorites attached, it seems less likely to be deleted or edited by a mod.

I think this is a correlation = causation fail. Mods have repeatedly stated, during my entire stay here that they really try and avoid deleting something that's already gotten replies and sort of been integrated into the thread unless it's HEINOUS and they missed it. If something sticks around long enough to pick up that many favorites, it's embedded in a sense. People have probably quoted it several times and replied, or just generally replied to the concept of what it was bringing up. It's steered the thread, for better or for worse.

Do i see stuff stand and gather that many favorites that makes me groan? yea. Do i think favorites stop things from being deleted, nah.

"Favorites" naturally leads to reddit-esque behavior, including posters consciously or subconsciously gunning for favorites by speaking to popular opinion in the loudest and most emphatic way possible.

Partially agree. I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say i see way more of this either as harmless one-off snark early in a thread(which can be very "reddity", but usually isn't unfunny and shitty like the stuff that goes down over there) or as "tough love" bullshit on askme.

I only really see the latter as a problem. The only time it makes me groan on the blue is when threads become gigantic circlejerks when it's something basically everyone here almost universally agrees on, and everyone is just posting "i agree and this is why!" type stuff and getting 50 favorites. Sometimes it really reads like a bunch of people in lollipop club talking about how much they love candy and why, or something. It's just like "yea, i figured, otherwise why would you be in this thread hugging everyone and slapping everyone on the back?"

Recent mired in conflict depressing threads have made me yearn for those positive threads where that slightly annoying air is the worst aspect though.

I mean, it says "Everyone needs a hug" under the comment box for a reason. Maybe the text should be bigger?
posted by emptythought at 10:49 AM on June 12, 2014


I don't really think that the presence of favorites influences the mods except in rare cases. For all I know they might be reading the site with favorites hidden (as I do). But I do know that the presence of favorites influences my own posting habits for the worse, no matter how much I try to ignore them, and I doubt I'm the only one. Snarky put-downs, clever gotchas, comments with a bit of ALL CAPS RIGHTEOUS OUTRAGE thrown in—these are not the only ways to get a lot of favorites, but they are the easiest. I appreciate the ability to hide favorites in threads, but I'd rather have the ability to opt out of favorites for my own posts and comments altogether.
posted by enn at 10:51 AM on June 12, 2014


grouse: "It's a thread posted to remind MeFites to be nice to each other. I think we shouldn't use it to reopen the discussion on favorites, which has been so divisive and contentious in the past."

Seconded.
posted by Big_B at 10:58 AM on June 12, 2014


The baseline informed/engaged level vs participant ratio is higher here than elsewhere. That's why this site is precious regardless of whatever meta-Metafilter dilemma we're having this month.

I am old, and have been on the internet for a long time (argument from authority; trust me on this.)
posted by digitalprimate at 10:59 AM on June 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


Some of the loudest members seem to have a brand that they need to reinforce. Rather than try to respect or understand a different viewpoint, they have a need to become the definitive voice on their pet topics and it just becomes tiresome.

Yeah, I agree with that. I think it kind of comes down to the difference between positive and negative attention and how it's worth aiming for the former even though it's easier to get the latter.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 11:13 AM on June 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


Diablevert, the final push was the post you mention, but I feel there's been a string of posts where people call out others and those threads devolve into vitriol.

I don't want to call specifics in this case because I want this thread to have a positive focus and not rehash old stuff from closed topics.

It's not that we haven't had positive threads lately, but it seems like those only get a handful of comments.. where the less pleasant topics have people coming out of the woodwork to express their feelings or disapproval.

And maybe there doesn't need to be a reason to ask people to be nice to one another. I'm not trying to police anyone, just trying to foster good feelings.
posted by royalsong at 11:14 AM on June 12, 2014



Bunny Hugs to Everyone!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:31 PM on June 12 [1 favorite +] [!]


Definitely better than Ruthless hugs...I think.
posted by sweetkid at 11:16 AM on June 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


Seriously, is this just about that Trader Joes' thread with the Rolling Stones song or is there some other ongoing shitshow that people are making coded references to?

The Dan Savage thread was also not going particularly well when I decided to stop reading it.
posted by sparklemotion at 11:21 AM on June 12, 2014


I like to think that the unicorn/narwhal posting/preview button greasemonkey script keeps mefi ever so slightly more whimsical and keeps me from being bitchier than I am.

I wonder if the upswing in grar is sort of a rebound from the rah rah mefi of fundraising?

Meanwhile, I love you all like this dog loves his leaf blower: sometimes there's barking and teeth, but overall it's a lot of fun.
posted by rmd1023 at 11:26 AM on June 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


I was incredibly pleasantly surprised by this thread about agender/genderqueer/gendernonconforming/nonbinary people.

Yup. That one thread was why I reopened my account, after swearing I'd never come back during a previous blowout over transphobic bullshit. A friend linked me to it, and I wasn't just encouraged to see people were doing better (though that too) — I was actively excited about the discussion. If I'd seen that conversation happen on any other site, I'd have joined up in a heartbeat. So, I (re)joined.
posted by nebulawindphone at 11:27 AM on June 12, 2014 [23 favorites]


Some of the loudest members seem to have a brand that they need to reinforce. Rather than try to respect or understand a different viewpoint, they have a need to become the definitive voice on their pet topics and it just becomes tiresome.

That idea sort of runs counter to the 'assume good faith' notion that seems (to me, at least) to be pretty important to conversation. If you think someone's participation is partially due to some internal obligation rather than their sincere attempt to communicate, where does that leave you?
posted by shakespeherian at 11:38 AM on June 12, 2014 [4 favorites]


I don't want to call specifics in this case because I want this thread to have a positive focus and not rehash old stuff from closed topics.

I can respect that, it's just weird to read y'all tiptoeing around some elephant in the room as if it's obvious when that hasn't been my experience of the site at all. But then again, I briefly glanced at the TJs thread and didn't even look at the Dan Savage thread because it seemed predictable to me that they were going to be horrible and I didn't need that stress.

The front page of the blue has been a bit of a Debbie downer the past few days, though. Probably just a phase.
posted by Diablevert at 11:40 AM on June 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


So, I (re)joined.

I'm glad you came back, nebulawindphone.
posted by Juliet Banana at 11:40 AM on June 12, 2014 [11 favorites]


I have been seriously distressed at all the rawr, especially on MeTa lately. I felt a community wide hug couldn't hurt.
posted by royalsong


I didn't happen to participate in the Trader Joe's FPP, mostly because I spend relatively little time on the blue. I have been trying to read the MeTa and kind of skimming and ...not my cup of tea. You can skip stuff like that if it really bothers you. The thread I have been participating in which has a very tough topic (Trigger Warning: Child Abuse) has been pretty darn good about handling high emotions diplomatically and compassionately.

I had kind of hoped that recent financial troubles and ensuing fundraising would have amped up the we're-all-friends/family-here vibe. It did for me, at least. So I have been sort of startled by some of the bad blood.
posted by DirtyOldTown


Well, it is common for people to share their less than lovely side more when they feel more secure in a relationship. I had begun thinking at some recent-ish point not terribly long before the announcement of the mod layoffs that I was seeing evidence of serious problems in the community. A healthy community has to have some tolerance for friction. I am not entirely clear what is going on just yet but one possibility is that people are walking on eggshells less, wrestling with hard issues more and it appears more fighty when, in fact, it is the same problem as before but one where actual headway can be made. So, for now, I am not ready to judge yet and I am just trying to be patient, compassionate and so on during what is very, very likely some kind of transition period.
posted by Michele in California at 11:41 AM on June 12, 2014


Though seriously there is NO WAY IN HELL I am going to read that Dan Savage thread. I don't know what he did, I don't want to know, and for all I care he was 100% in the right this time and his critics really are being hypersensitive.

I just know that I'd be thrilled to see a lot more gender-related threads swing towards "Oh hey that's cool, let me share an interesting personal experience of gender that relates to that,"* and a lot fewer of them swing towards armchair quarterbacking about precisely how angry and strident trans people ought to be. Those are my own personal preferences at this point, and I'm not trying to enforce them on anyone else. But I do know that the experience-sharing kind of thread makes me feel happy to be alive and strong enough to face another day, and the other kind of thread does not — and I'm pretty sure I'm not alone in that.

*Including personal experiences from cis people! Everyone's got a gender! Nobody needs to be excluded!
posted by nebulawindphone at 12:00 PM on June 12, 2014 [14 favorites]


I think we shouldn't use it to reopen the discussion on favorites, which has been so divisive and contentious in the past.

In other words: be kind and don't rewind.
posted by Celsius1414 at 12:02 PM on June 12, 2014


/me hugs all of metafilter
posted by Annika Cicada at 12:13 PM on June 12, 2014 [6 favorites]


consensually, of course... :-)
posted by Annika Cicada at 12:13 PM on June 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


Michele in California: "The thread I have been participating in which has a very tough topic (Trigger Warning: Child Abuse) has been pretty darn good about handling high emotions diplomatically and compassionately. "

It has. But it hasn't been an easy thread to read or participate in for me. Par for the course with that topic.
posted by zarq at 12:16 PM on June 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


I've been mostly hanging out in the Fargo thread on FanFare. It seems somehow... safer?
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 12:16 PM on June 12, 2014


I am routinely amazed at how exercised certain people here get about certain topics and find it better if I avoid such topics entirely.

Of course for some people these topics are their actual lives, not just something to chew the cud about around the watercooler.

It's a hard life being an Apple user.
posted by MartinWisse at 12:17 PM on June 12, 2014 [6 favorites]


I'm glad Annika Cicada came back.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 12:31 PM on June 12, 2014 [8 favorites]


I'm glad Annika Cicada came back.

Same. Welcome back to you both, Annika Cicada and nebulawindphone.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 12:33 PM on June 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


The grar, like the tide
Comes and goes, leaving dead fish.
The sky is schmoopy.

Butts.
posted by Lutoslawski at 12:47 PM on June 12, 2014 [7 favorites]


A post can be horribly sarcastic, angry, and vitriolic, but if it's got 40 favorites attached, it seems less likely to be deleted or edited by a mod.

Folks have touched on this already based on our past comments on the subject, but just to get the official mod response in: favorites are not going to protect something from deletion.

The situation where something truly unambiguously deletable also somehow racks up a ton of favorites is a really unlikely one and so it doesn't even tend to come up more than once in a blue moon (probably not least because something really deletable but also favoritably sassy will usually get flagged and nixed before it can even get around to scooping up many sassfaves), but when it does occur what happens is something with a bunch of favorites gets deleted anyway, end of story. And god help the poster who tries to argue to us that we have restore said comment because the favorites are a mandate from the people or whatever the fuck.

What is fair to say is that seeing a pile of favorites on something you think is shitty or should be deleted is understandably galling, and I feel people on that. It's more conspicuous and hence more uncomfortable to see a comment that bothers you that has a pile of favorites on it than it is to see one just sit there apparently unnoticed. But short of us resolving to delete borderline stuff because it has a lot of favorites, there's not much to do for it. Crowd dynamics are weird and can show off both our best and our worst sides.

Anyway! That's favorites. They're tissue paper armor, as far as mods are concerned.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:53 PM on June 12, 2014 [4 favorites]


Also, hugs.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:53 PM on June 12, 2014 [9 favorites]


Oh, sorry, I forgot to leave my totally consenting, only if you want them (((((HUGS))))).


zarq, I imagine I have an easier time coping with such topics than quite a lot of people. My main concern is always the high emotions of the participants in the here and now, so I have not had a big problem participating in that discussion. As long as people are diplomatic and compassionate, I think such discussions can be enormously freeing and healing and life giving. For me, that value position matters more than any personal "Ugh" moments. I imagine that is the real reason many people come back to them in spite of having a much harder time than I have with the topic: When handled well, it gives people oxygen who have been suffocating for a long time and hurting in private.

But then we also had a very oxygen-giving moment in chat yesterday inspired by that same discussion. So I have seen some additional dimensions beyond the public comments that were made and am aware of what a big deal, in a mostly positive (though still painful) way that discussion has been for some people. I assume I am aware of only the tip of the iceberg, so I am very okay with those hard topics, when people are, yeah, all giving each other hugs in spite of not necessarily seeing eye to eye on everything and in spite of the very real danger that it could turn really ugly because of so many people having serious baggage.
posted by Michele in California at 1:01 PM on June 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


Hugs!

I've been a member for a while although I don't actively participate a lot - more lately for some reason. But yeah I came here because I was a little shocked by the Dan Savage thread and wanted to see if anyone was talking about it.

I just want to say though, the recent thread about furries started off a little tricky but became very poignant, and I really did change my thinking about the subject from it.

The thread about Iraq today is incredibly full of information I didn't have.

These are the kinds of things that keep me coming to metafilter.

xoxo
posted by maggiemaggie at 1:12 PM on June 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


It's been pretty much crappy all week long on the East Coast... maybe that's bringing people down.
posted by The Michael The at 1:47 PM on June 12, 2014


I don't know, I get the purpose of the good feelings MeTas and all, but sometimes it feels weird, like it's bad manners or something to get into certain topics or be passionate and have emotions about them, and we need to right the ship. It reminds me of how sometimes you're at a dinner or something and one person is kind of repeatedly saying something offensive, like a bunch of really terrible jokes or whatever, and someone's like, "actually, can you not say that? It's kind of bothering me." And then the jokester answers back, and everyone gets uncomfortable and someone's like "hey, let's all just relax and enjoy our dinner, shall we?"

I'm not saying it's as much of a silencing tactic as that, it's just that it sometimes feels like when we have a bunch of "issues" posts like feminism, trans*, combinations of those, etc, we always get someone saying "Wow, these are a lot of emotions" and it feels strange because sometimes people are just talking about things that happen every day, or talking back to the jerk at the party or whatever.
posted by sweetkid at 1:55 PM on June 12, 2014 [5 favorites]


It's been pretty much crappy all week long on the East Coast... maybe that's bringing people down.

Plus I think it's the Dan Savage thread coming on the heels of the Marion Zimmer Bradley thread which itself came on the heels of the Trader Joe Thread coming on the heels of the "Not Alone" and George Will thread coming on the heels of the Irish orphanage corpses thread, when we're already still dealing from the fallout of the Elliot Rodgers thread as it is.

This past couple weeks have just been pretty relentless in terms of Evidence That People Suck, particularly in the "Sexist Jerks Suck In A Particular Way That Looks Like This" subset.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:58 PM on June 12, 2014 [4 favorites]


Just popping in to tell you all

well

you know.
posted by eyeballkid at 2:10 PM on June 12, 2014 [8 favorites]


I don't know, I get the purpose of the good feelings MeTas and all, but sometimes it feels weird, like it's bad manners or something to get into certain topics or be passionate and have emotions about them, and we need to right the ship. It reminds me of how sometimes you're at a dinner or something and one person is kind of repeatedly saying something offensive, like a bunch of really terrible jokes or whatever, and someone's like, "actually, can you not say that? It's kind of bothering me." And then the jokester answers back, and everyone gets uncomfortable and someone's like "hey, let's all just relax and enjoy our dinner, shall we?"

Yeah, but the most fighty threads around here are generally the result of people starting a thread on the blue about a controversial topic. The framing of the post on the blue can greatly help or hinder how the discussion goes, but pretty much I'd say about two-thirds of threads overall and about 95 percent if threads which are controversial are the result of saying "I want to hear what the community thinks about THIS!"

Often as not, they are disappointed when it's not "I completely and utterly agree with everything you've said." And pop goes the starter's pistol. Which is rather more analogous to deliberately inviting that one guy who won't shut up about the Federal Reserve to your dinner party than speaking up about someone else's ignorance.

I mean, ultimately, what are you going to do? Chaucun a son goût, and some people feel that they are actually making a difference when they do these things. Maybe they are. It's stressful as shit to read about and so I tend to skip them. As I would skip a dinner party when a known monomaniac will be in attendance.
posted by Diablevert at 2:14 PM on June 12, 2014 [4 favorites]


One of the best things about Metafilter is the ability to express those opinions and be respected.

One of the most important distinctions that can be made, I think, is that there is a big difference between respecting ideas and respecting people. I actually like that we can have strong and intense discussions, even ones in which we say that certain ideas are bullocks. However, there are ways to do this such that individuals themselves are respected as inherently worthy of good treatment, even if we hate the particular ideas they espouse. My fear is that this distinction isn't seen as being nearly as important anymore as it should, and that lack of respect for an idea translates very quickly into lack of respect for a person. This surfaces in obvious ways, but in more subtle ones, as well (as we see in some thread derails and such that are inherently disrespectful).

I'd like to think that part of what we should do as a community is think very carefully about how that distinction can be maintained and protected. There are a lot of people who will argue (and have argued, even among those that I normally agree with) that some ideas are just too bad to give people proper respect as a co-equal in a discussion. I think this is a horrible thing, really, not because I'd like to protect bad ideas, but because all hope in changing people's hearts and minds comes through community and relationships where people care for each other.

This will move a little bit into tone territory, but I think we do ourselves a disservice by not tending to it more. Not because there aren't illegitimate rhetorical moves that attempt to quiet oppression based on tone (this really happens and it sucks and should be shut down), but because effective persuasion really depends on at least giving it some thought, even if we don't like that brute fact of reality. There are some people who do this really, really well here, by the way, and I wish there was a way to hold them up as an example of how to do it right.
posted by SpacemanStix at 2:19 PM on June 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


If people participate in discussions in bad faith and derail conversations, without consideration for others or attempting to understand any viewpoint outside of their own, then that should be addressed. And when it's many people doing so, it needs to be called out for what it is. In derail situations, effective persuasion often isn't or shouldn't be the goal - because patient explanations and addressing these derails point-by-point just leads to the actual useful, interesting discussion getting sidelined completely. That's a problem. It leads to a common denominator situation where nothing gets talked about beyond patient 101 discussions with people who are being dismissive anyway.

I see this thread as actually addressing the people who participate badly to begin with. Be respectful and kind, and curious about other perspectives. Don't be dismissive of groups of people who are consistently marginalized. Just be baseline decent. 99% of the site's problems would be solved if people would just practice some minimal respect and thoughtfulness.
posted by naju at 2:41 PM on June 12, 2014


The framing of the post on the blue can greatly help or hinder how the discussion goes, but pretty much I'd say about two-thirds of threads overall and about 95 percent if threads which are controversial are the result of saying "I want to hear what the community thinks about THIS!"

I think the social change project that many people are engaged in (correctly, don't get me wrong) is both righteous and enticing - but grouping together to accomplish something means, by definition, you value your crew more than the 'opposition'.

And by a very human and natural process, that tends to viewing the opposition as objects to be strived against rather than people.

Which is inevitable in some ways, you don't change society without stepping on toes, but ultimately ends up retarding the progress of the social change project, because the opposition can be legitimately righteous in defence of their own non-objecthood.
posted by Sebmojo at 2:44 PM on June 12, 2014


(Just want to note down how much I like this new term "sassfave." Site search seems to confirm it's a neologism.")
posted by nobody at 3:41 PM on June 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


That new mefi band, Fiamo Fiamo and the Sassfaves.
posted by cashman at 3:44 PM on June 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


I'm into sasswave.
posted by naju at 3:51 PM on June 12, 2014 [4 favorites]


* hugs 55 gallon drum of pure grain alcohol *
posted by Pudhoho at 3:58 PM on June 12, 2014


Sassfave? I have completely missed something. Please enlighten.
posted by Michele in California at 3:58 PM on June 12, 2014


Have noticed before but MetaTalk does seem to get relatively angry just before a full moon. It may be coincidence but if I legitimately post this comment again in 29.5 or so days...

Tomorrow's full moon is the Strawberry or Harvest Moon, about five hours from now. Wishing every MeFite, calm or angry, a peaceful, successful and above all healthy summer.
posted by Wordshore at 4:16 PM on June 12, 2014


a bunch of people in lollipop club talking about how much they love candy and why

oh my god is this a thing and where do I sign up?

(((all the MetaFilter)))
posted by billiebee at 4:17 PM on June 12, 2014


I dunno, the Web changes, and Metafilter changes, but I think that on the meta-Metafilter level, this place is just as great as it has always been, and you guys are all just as wonderful, witty and insightful as ever. So there.
posted by carter at 4:24 PM on June 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


I don't things are out of kilter particularly, leaving aside recent financial problems the site has been experiencing. Arguments that draw blood and then obsessive picking at the scars for a while tends to come in waves, I think, and this wave (if there is one) will subside, too.

But yeah, I'm on board with the sentiment: hugs either notional or actual are good things, and being good to each other is what life is all about. As much as we're able, anyway.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:58 PM on June 12, 2014


Be courteous, kind, and forgiving
Be gentle and peaceful each day
Be warm and human and grateful
And have a good thing to say
Be thoughtful and trustful and childlike
Be witty and happy and wise
Be honest and love all your neighbors
Be obsequious, purple and clairvoyant

Be sure to stop at stop signs
And drive fifty-five miles an hour
Pick up hitchhikers foaming at the mouth
And when you get home get a master's degree in geology

Be pompous, obese, and eat cactus
Be dull and boring and omnipresent
Criticize things you don't know about
Be oblong and have your knees removed

(Ladies only) Never make love to Bigfoot
(Men only) Hello, my name is Bigfoot
(Everyone) Put a live chicken in your underwear
Go into a closet and suck eggs

—S. Martin
posted by Toekneesan at 6:11 PM on June 12, 2014 [6 favorites]


i don't think metafilter is substantially different from a year ago, and i'm usually positively-oriented, but if there's gonna be a cheese war like the other morning, i am willing to bear a rep for light to moderate negativity to show people where i stand and preserve my access to cheese, even if another user characterized it as "momentary entertainment for rich people" and me as a "concerned white voter".
posted by bruce at 6:36 PM on June 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


I've mixed feelings about Newsfilter stuff, a dim view of it when it's also Outragefilter. Part of that's what someone else touched on, a small number of people who are reliably aggressive, intolerant, sanctimonious -- and strike me as driving the tone/direction beyond their numbers.

Is that assuming bad faith? I don't think so when one sees the same approach over and over again.

I think the site would be dramatically better if it didn't have about a dozen people who come across as swaggering around here with I'm-a-big-deal-on-Merafilter attitudes.
posted by ambient2 at 6:45 PM on June 12, 2014 [4 favorites]


I think the site would be dramatically better if it didn't have about a dozen people who come across as swaggering around here with I'm-a-big-deal-on-Merafilter attitudes.

I can really only think of maybe one person like that, and it's a person I'm already inclined to be very uncharitable toward, so I think that in that case there's probably an element of projection involved in my perception.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:21 PM on June 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


This place has always, ALWAYS, had a bit of a grumpy edge to it.

It's all civilized now, even when folks get ill with each other, in comparison to back in the early days. No, really!
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:31 PM on June 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


What rules have changed????
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 7:41 PM on June 12, 2014


I don't know that there has been any changes in rules, other than in the mechanical sense of "metatalk posts go into a queue", fwiw.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:42 PM on June 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


"Sexist Jerks Suck In A Particular Way That Looks Like This"

Calling people you haven't met "sexist jerks" would be a good example of how not to "be kind to each other" on the internet.
posted by John Cohen at 8:12 PM on June 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


what are you talking about? that full line reads :

This past couple weeks have just been pretty relentless in terms of Evidence That People Suck, particularly in the "Sexist Jerks Suck In A Particular Way That Looks Like This" subset.

you have to twist yourself pretty damn far to interpret that as her calling specific people sexist jerks. even if your read of that sentence made any sense, i don't really get your objection that you have to meet people like elliot rodgers before you can judge them as sexist jerks or else you're not being "nice." fuck that.
posted by nadawi at 8:48 PM on June 12, 2014 [6 favorites]


My commitment to mefi is to put 25% more love into every comment, since I am kind of low on funds for the time being.
posted by Annika Cicada at 9:13 PM on June 12, 2014 [5 favorites]


{{{{{{{everyone}}}}}}}
posted by Lynsey at 9:57 PM on June 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


I suck at self-regulating!
posted by mazola at 10:31 PM on June 12, 2014


Calling people you haven't met "sexist jerks" would be a good example of how not to "be kind to each other" on the internet.

....sometimes it's really stunning how spectacularly someone can miss a point. It just serves as a potent reminder how vast the human imagination can be.

Huh.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:27 PM on June 12, 2014 [4 favorites]


One thing to realize is that having a lot of flags isn't going to get your comment deleted, either. At least, not if it isn't caught by the mod time in time, before the discussion of your comment becomes so much an entrenched part of the discussion thread that deleting all the comments related to that comment you made that was heavily flagged and should have been deleted early would result in basically butchering the thread.

At least, that's what I remember the mod team saying about THAT ONE COMMENT I made quite a while ago that led to not only a gigantic number of flags but also to a gigantic number of comments, and then (I believe) cortex stated that it was a comment that was going to stand, I believe he also said it was going to stand somehow "as an example about what one should never do" or something.

I don't even remember what it was at this point (and I would thank the mod team not do dig it up), but it DID cause me to reassess what I might say here, which is probably good because I'm a better community member now.

All I remember is being horrified at the reaction of the community and the extremely late arrival of one of the moderator team who basically said "yeah, this sucked, look at it hard and use the lessons learned".

One of the real worries I have about the reduced moderation staff here is that someone else may end up as the new "example" sometime due to lack of attention. Or maybe it's already happened. I stopped reading every bit of every thread a while back, because after about 50 comments, it becomes clear where it is all going and rehash is not as tasty as hash the first time around.
posted by hippybear at 11:43 PM on June 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


*flippers across room and hugs everyone*
posted by arcticseal at 5:13 AM on June 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


Hippybear, damn you, now I really want hash. Maybe sweet potato, onion, and chorizo, with toasted cumin, cilantro, and yogurt. Mmmm.
posted by Juliet Banana at 7:15 AM on June 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


*josephs across the room and gives hugs*
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 7:17 AM on June 13, 2014 [4 favorites]


I most assuredly do not need a hug. Respect my personal space. You hug me at your peril.
posted by Decani at 7:28 AM on June 13, 2014 [5 favorites]


*respects Decani's body-bubble*
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 7:32 AM on June 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


One of the real worries I have about the reduced moderation staff here is that someone else may end up as the new "example" sometime due to lack of attention. Or maybe it's already happened. I stopped reading every bit of every thread a while back, because after about 50 comments, it becomes clear where it is all going and rehash is not as tasty as hash the first time around.

I've wondered whether it's even possible to have a "once for all" resolution to a lot of social issues that get mirrored here, with the transient nature of membership. There should probably be a solemn duty of the old guard here to carry to the torch to those who are new and never knew Joseph in Egypt. If we can't do that with some patience and grace (which we often do), it's going to be enlessly frustrating.

Not to put a downer on any of this, but I think some conversations are ones that will keep happening over and over, and some of the disappointment is that people wish the world didn't work this way. The reality is that there are so many people who come through our lives (not just here) that never considered thinking the way that we've spent hours hashing out.
posted by SpacemanStix at 7:33 AM on June 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


You hug me at your peril.

Wait, what if we're into peril?
posted by nebulawindphone at 7:39 AM on June 13, 2014


When I said new rules, I was thinking FanFare in general being a new thing and all the rules and expectations that go along with it. I probably should have used "guidelines" instead of "rules".
posted by royalsong at 9:11 AM on June 13, 2014


Wait, what if we're into peril?

don we now our gay a-peril
posted by Juliet Banana at 9:45 AM on June 13, 2014 [8 favorites]


Metafilter: I wanted to be a recognized and notable personality but I didn't want to be a jerk.
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 11:18 AM on June 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


and who's this don fellow?

ha cha cha cha
posted by boo_radley at 12:33 PM on June 13, 2014


Every major argument or stress freak out I've experienced this year occurred within the 3-4 days before a full moon. I became acutely aware of it back in October and slowly have used that awareness to mellow out more.. I also get somewhat manic and giddy to some extent but it's the edgy confrontational sort.
posted by aydeejones at 9:07 PM on June 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


Every major argument or stress freak out I've experienced this year occurred within the 3-4 days before a full moon.

As that last full moon passed, threads on MetaTalk suddenly became noticeably positive. This issue has been mentioned before; it'll be interesting to see the general tone of MetaTalk in the few days before the next full moon on July 12th.
posted by Wordshore at 11:35 AM on June 18, 2014


I'd like to commend those of you who manage to defuse a pile-on while still getting your point across.

It happens. I've seen it. And I've been amazed at the grace of some posters.
posted by BlueHorse at 9:51 PM on June 30, 2014 [3 favorites]


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