We're grownups, right? December 30, 2014 10:38 AM   Subscribe

restless_nomad, stop censoring the discussion about the effect of suicide on those left behind. That discussion is more important than a bunch of dots left in honor of someone who, being dead, will never see the thread.
posted by MrMoonPie to Etiquette/Policy at 10:38 AM (609 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

A comment describing the kid's actions as "evil" got half a dozen flags in the time it took me to tab away from the admin page. This isn't me making a unilateral decision, this is a community full of people, many of whom have been deeply affected by suicide, setting the boundaries on civil discussion. I'm sorry you feel that it's censorship, but you've been here a long time and know how moderation works here.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 10:40 AM on December 30, 2014 [130 favorites]


We're grownups, right?

Nope.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:40 AM on December 30, 2014 [10 favorites]


If anything, this thread has made me realize how superhumanly fast the moderators can be.

Good job, restless_nomad! Your interneting skills are a wonder to behold.
posted by saeculorum at 10:42 AM on December 30, 2014 [29 favorites]


You do realize you're complaining that you can't call a dead child evil, right?

Is this the hill you want to die on?
posted by FunkyHelix at 10:44 AM on December 30, 2014 [80 favorites]


"Folks, castigating a dead person over the manner of their suicide is not appropriate here, or possibly anywhere. Please make other choices."

I think it's fine to say that this sort of conversation is inappropriate in that thread. But I don't think it's cool for a moderator to say it's inappropriate anywhere.
posted by mullacc at 10:44 AM on December 30, 2014 [3 favorites]


restless_nomad, stop censoring the discussion about the effect of suicide on those left behind.

Jumping into a thread to literally declare the dead girl evil is beyond tonedeaf and should not have been done. It is utterly foolish to treat that like some sort of acme of adult discussion the preservation of which justifies a metatalk complaint, let alone one that so conspicuously rehashes your previous complaint earlier this year.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:45 AM on December 30, 2014 [68 favorites]


I don't think it's cool for a moderator to say it's inappropriate anywhere.

Hence 'possibly'.
posted by Too-Ticky at 10:48 AM on December 30, 2014 [15 favorites]


I think discussion of the method of suicide is on the table by virtue of the method she chose and the fact her parents are choosing to pretend it didn't happen that way. Denial seems to be a pretty consistent theme in this person's life.

The comments calling out the method stood. The comments calling her out for the method shouldn't.

> I feel bad for the truck driver, but he's alive. He is also blameless and while traumatized, will probably be ok in the long run.

My grandfather killed a kid when he was in his teens. The kid ran out into the street chasing a ball and was hit by the car my grandfather was driving. He had to knock on the parents' door and tell them he'd just killed their child. My grandfather lived, he was blameless, he was traumatized. He never got over it.
posted by cjorgensen at 10:52 AM on December 30, 2014 [48 favorites]


Suicide certainly does have an effect on those left behind, and means of death has something to do with that, sure. But you're not the arbiter of which discussions are the most important ones to have. In this case, maybe it's more about mental health and support for trans kids who don't have familial and social support rather than a discussion of suicide more broadly. That's a pretty important issue too.

And, as someone who lost a loved one to suicide, I'd rather see a bunch of dots than hear people declaring that someone who commits suicide is evil, especially a child.
posted by Kpele at 10:54 AM on December 30, 2014 [9 favorites]


For context, what was the text of the comment that was deleted?
posted by killdevil at 10:56 AM on December 30, 2014

And, as someone who lost a loved one to suicide, I'd rather see a bunch of dots than hear people declaring that someone who commits suicide is evil, especially a child.
As someone else who lost a loved one to suicide, my opinion is different from yours. You understand that I'm not advocating that the periods be removed, right?
posted by MrMoonPie at 11:01 AM on December 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


For context, what was the text of the comment that was deleted?

You shouldn't need the actual text for context. See first comment in this thread for context.

Reproducing shitty deleted comments defeats the purpose of deleting them.
posted by cjorgensen at 11:02 AM on December 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


If there's one thing that metafilter lacks, its pointless aggression in threads about tragic topics.
posted by empath at 11:04 AM on December 30, 2014 [36 favorites]


Well, if we've gone to the trouble of having a MetaTalk thread about a comment, we should know what the comment was.
posted by killdevil at 11:04 AM on December 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


Well, if we've gone to the trouble of having a MetaTalk thread about a comment, we should know what the comment was.

I'm having a hard time seeing within which context calling a child who committed suicide "evil" would somehow change its repugnancy. I think this was a good deletion.

Also, ignoring what "censorship" actually means and using it as a cudgel is insulting to people who live under actual censorship.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 11:10 AM on December 30, 2014 [23 favorites]


We don't need to know the specific way a comment said a trans girl did an evil thing by killing herself by jumping in front of a truck. It's a fucked up thing to say however you say it, especially in the context of that thread.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 11:12 AM on December 30, 2014 [16 favorites]


The "discussion about the effects of suicide on those left behind" was not the point of the thread. I also agree that the driver may well be traumatised for life, and my heart goes out to him. But the FPP itself was about a young woman desperate not to be alive anymore. We should be looking at what that says about our society rather than calling her "evil".

People who are that desperate do not always make choices that consider the effects on others because they are past that point and the only thing they can see is a way out of the pain. I'm sorry for your loss, and for all those bereaved by suicide. But castigating someone who, in your own words "will never see the thread" is also pointless and takes away from those who are feeling sorrow at her death.
posted by billiebee at 11:13 AM on December 30, 2014 [39 favorites]


We get it, MrMoonPie. You don't like the way the site is moderated, ever. We know this because that's pretty much all you ever have to say in the grey. The fact that you're objecting to the removal of a comment like that is....well, not surprising, once I stop to think about it.
posted by rtha at 11:15 AM on December 30, 2014 [25 favorites]


I think it's fine to say that this sort of conversation is inappropriate in that thread. But I don't think it's cool for a moderator to say it's inappropriate anywhere.

Jeez, do you also butt in to threads where people are discussing having had abortions and ask "but have you considered the effect your abortion had on your now-never-to-be-born child?"
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:15 AM on December 30, 2014 [5 favorites]


"We're grownups, right?"

I once read an interview with a Catholic priest who was retiring after some 60 years of service, and they asked him what he'd learned from 60 years of listening to Confessions.

"Everyone is suffering, and nobody is a grown-up," he said.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 11:17 AM on December 30, 2014 [178 favorites]


Oftentimes, I will read a deletion reason and feel it's too wishy-washy or vague, but this is really perfectly clear, and perfectly reasonable: "Folks, castigating a dead person over the manner of their suicide is not appropriate here, or possibly anywhere. Please make other choices. Thanks."

If you can't discuss someone's suicide without calling that person evil, then you don't need to be discussing it on Metafilter.
posted by 23skidoo at 11:18 AM on December 30, 2014 [6 favorites]


I can see how someone would see it as evil. The thing is, it was apparently the lesser evil, since she saw no other way out.
That she was so desparate that she could not afford empathy for the truck driver, simply because she had none to spare, only outlines how horrible her situation was. And no, she should certainly not be reviled for that.
Furthermore, it hurts people who are grieving over her death.

So I think it's a very inappropriate thing to say here and now. And so, a good deletion.
posted by Too-Ticky at 11:18 AM on December 30, 2014 [15 favorites]


In case anyone here was wondering "But how does Joe in Australia feel about this deletion?": I'm cool with it, no need to worry.
posted by Joe in Australia at 11:19 AM on December 30, 2014 [35 favorites]


Well, if we've gone to the trouble of having a MetaTalk thread about a comment, we should know what the comment was.

Just my $0.02, but I don't agree with this at all.

A while back, some dude posted a MeTa complaining that his comments had been deleted from an anonymous question of mine -- the mods deleted them so quickly that I never even saw them... until he demanded that they be reproduced in the MeTa, which they were. There was no purpose to his request, he just wanted to trot out his usual misogynist dog and pony show while continuing to whinge about the First Amendment. His comments were vile and inflammatory, though, and they had no place here. They were rightfully axed, and everyone in the thread agreed as much, so I'm still a little bummed that I ended up having to see his garbage insults (pointed very directly and personally at me, as the person who posted the anon Ask) anyway even after they had been rightfully deleted just because he kept moaning about having his opinion censored. Not all opinions deserve equal footing or equal billing.

This is a different kind of situation in that the person the insult was directed toward is not here to read it, but imo, there's just no reason for the mods to open these kinds of decisions for arbitration here in MeTa by reproducing needlessly inflammatory deleted comments. It seems fairly obvious that calling someone evil when she's just taken her own life as the result of unimaginable inner strife and suffering is needlessly inflammatory at best and most charitable.
posted by divined by radio at 11:21 AM on December 30, 2014 [63 favorites]


Just to get rid of the straw man, there were multiple comments deleted, only one of which used the word "evil" (and none of which were mine).
posted by MrMoonPie at 11:22 AM on December 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


"Evil"? That seems like a gross overreaction to something that was done by a teenager, without malicious intent, in order to ease their extraordinary suffering.

Also, as someone who has attempted suicide as a teenager (in a way that I am sure was upsetting to others--because suicidal people often lack insight and teenagers even more so)--what a hurtful thing this was to me personally. I feel that we, as a community, are owed an apology.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 11:24 AM on December 30, 2014 [11 favorites]


Just to get rid of the straw man, there were multiple comments deleted, only one of which used the word "evil"

So, why were the other ones deleted?
posted by jbickers at 11:25 AM on December 30, 2014


Jeez, do you also butt in to threads where people are discussing having had abortions and ask "but have you considered the effect your abortion had on your now-never-to-be-born child?"

This is a completely false equivalence. It was a shitty comment, but it was about the very real pain and suffering the driver of the truck, who had otherwise no connection to any of this, is likely experiencing. This is a real thing that really happens. Read some of the many articles written about train engineers who have dealt with their train hitting someone (and it is many if not most of them).

The comment was shitty (apart from context) because the girl was too emotionally fucked up and traumatized to be making good decisions, and so cannot really be held to account about them. It wasn't fucked up because it speciously wanted to talk about the best friend left behind. (From what I understand of the context. I didn't see the comment.)
posted by OmieWise at 11:26 AM on December 30, 2014 [4 favorites]


Sorry, MrMoonPie, I did not see your comment before I posted.

Now I am not sure who posted what, and still quite upset.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 11:26 AM on December 30, 2014


The "evil" comment and two direct replies to it were deleted; given the content of your post here, that seems like the deletion you were referring to. Another comment earlier in the thread (from a dude who is habitually low on impulse control and is way beyond the benefit of the doubt for stuff like this) giving the dead girl passive-aggressive shit for killing herself was also deleted, along with two replies to it.

Suicide is a hard and messy thing and there are lots of things to talk about on the subject. There are lots of way to talk about those things. A small portion of those ways are clumsy to the point of outright fucking up discourse on the subject far out of scale with what they add, and an absolutist ideal of unmoderated speech that pretends otherwise is of no practical use in a place like this.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:28 AM on December 30, 2014 [17 favorites]


The effect of suicide on those touched by it is a big deal, but in this case it came up in a thread about the death of a young woman who is trans*. Intentionally or otherwise, making it about the truck driver instead of Leelah Alcorn takes away from a serious and important topic and becomes a way to talk about the faults of a victim of horrible circumstances instead of talking about the horrible circumstances. It shifts the focus away from a young trans* woman in pain and makes it about someone else and how important their pain is.

There are lots of topics where this is the case, where tangential issues are used (again, perhaps unintentionally) as a way to avoid talking about problems facing marginalized groups. Providing a space to talk about these problems without getting derailed by other issues, however important, seems really worthwhile to me.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 11:30 AM on December 30, 2014 [36 favorites]


There are people in that thread sharing their own heartbreak. Being kind includes knowing when NOT to say something. If a post needs to be made about suicide methods, do that. But don't drag it into a thread where people are sharing grief and pain. Would you come into her funeral and talk about how what she did was heartless? If you would, that's just messed up. Don't kick people while they're down.
posted by stoneweaver at 11:32 AM on December 30, 2014 [9 favorites]

an absolutist ideal of unmoderated speech that pretends otherwise is of no practical use in a place like this.
Thank goodness no one is proposing such a thing!
posted by MrMoonPie at 11:33 AM on December 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


As someone who is coming up to the 4-year anniversary of losing a very close relative to suicide: please do not presume to speak for me when talking about which topics are "more important".
posted by divabat at 11:33 AM on December 30, 2014 [11 favorites]


If you don't like moderation you should probably switch to Reddit.
posted by Librarypt at 11:35 AM on December 30, 2014 [19 favorites]


I'm not certain that it was the deletion of only my comment that instigated this MetaTalk. Regardless, I feel compelled to answer for it.

It was a short comment, posted recently, but my recall is not perfect; if a reproduction of it proves my memory false, I apologize.

But I don't think that I could have been much more delicate in my phrasing without ignoring the notable, unfortunate fact that Ms. Alcorn made a killer (using this word to maintain a distinction from a culpable act resulting in death, e.g. murder) of another individual to facilitate her death.

I was careful to present as conjecture rather than fact my own opinion that suicide may be indicative of selfishness or cowardice... although other posters do have a point when they point to mental illness as a mitigating factor in such matters.

In a private communication with an individual (since it was a private communication, I will not say who) I was accused of calling Ms. Alcorn herself evil. To my memory, I only called her final action evil, which seems almost a truism. It was evil, though on a far lesser scale than many other examples of... well, suicide by proxy, I guess you'd call it.

I'd hoped that the final words of my comment, which I am certain I do remember, would be taken as its overarching sentiment: How tragic. Tragic for Ms. Alcorn, tragic for those who knew and loved her, and tragic for Abdullahi Ahmed. That's the name of the trucker she used to kill herself.

People have a right to be offended, and they have a right to flag. Moderators have a responsibility to use discretion, and to apply their penalties in a way that encourages free expression and -- this is the biggie -- maximizes participation.

This is why a guy like me can't always say what he wants to on Metafilter. For any POV you might find in this community, you will find at least ten people with a similar POV somewhere on Reddit... but you'll usually find them huddled in their own separate enclaves, where they can count on moderator support and audience sympathy.

We can take the diversity of opinions here as evidence that the moderators have done a bang-up job of creating a shared space in which a wide range of viewpoints may be expressed. They succeed in moderating discussion far more often than they fail.

I disagree with the deletion of my comment.

I believe it was an example of a moderator being unduly led by the prevailing sentiment.

But I support our moderators. It's a hard job, and like I said they succeed more often than they fail.

God, I'm a slow writer. Thirty comments in, and I haven't posted yet. And if I preview them I'll probably be editing this comment for another hour.

So, hugs all around. You don't have to hug me if you don't want to, but find someone marginally less ghastly and hug them instead. Hug a moderator, too, while you're at it.
posted by The Confessor at 11:36 AM on December 30, 2014 [40 favorites]


Two thoughts (some of which have already been stated above):

1. In a thread about a teenager driven to suicide, the effect on the driver of the truck is not so significant. I guess if you wanted that conversation, you could have constructed an FPP out of material on the effect of suicides on unwitting bystanders.

2. I have never seen a deleted comment thread where airing the deleted comment made me more critical of the mods or more positive about the poster of the deleted comment.
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:37 AM on December 30, 2014 [16 favorites]


There are lots of topics where this is the case, where tangential issues are used (again, perhaps unintentionally) as a way to avoid talking about problems facing marginalized groups. Providing a space to talk about these problems without getting derailed by other issues, however important, seems really worthwhile to me.

Sure, but I also think it's important to recognize that there are two real bonafide victims in this tragedy, Leelah and the truck driver. There are other people who may be deeply affected by it, but the truck driver is an actual victim of this event. Were Leelah not a victim herself, one could certainly imagine condemnation of the person who victimized him.

Leelah was a bullied member of a disenfranchised and oppressed group who may well have been "driven" to suicide. The truck driver is just some person who was driving along and now has to deal not only with causing the death of someone else but also all the other things attendant on this death. Any discussion that doesn't find room for that is going to be much less compassionate than it claims to be.
posted by OmieWise at 11:38 AM on December 30, 2014 [27 favorites]


Sure, but I also think it's important to recognize that there are two real bonafide victims in this tragedy, Leelah and the truck driver.

...but the comment made Leelah out to be something other than a victim.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:40 AM on December 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


I think there is room for discussing the suicide and expressing sympathy for the driver who killed her, the two are not unrelated, one is a tragic ending the other a potential tragic beginning.
Obviously, coming in and declaring the young woman as evil was way out of bounds and should be smacked down. since I missed the original deleted comment I was just a little puzzled by the mod comment, it makes sense now. I hope there is still room to address everything else regarding this incident (with respect).
posted by edgeways at 11:40 AM on December 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


One of the replies deleted was mine; the comment I was replying to did make Leelah out to be selfish for the way she chose to die.
posted by divabat at 11:43 AM on December 30, 2014


OmieWise, not attacking you, just quoting what you say because I think it's an interesting jumping-off point for a conversation about this -- I do see from your second paragraph that I think we mostly agree.

It was a shitty comment, but it was about the very real pain and suffering the driver of the truck, who had otherwise no connection to any of this, is likely experiencing. This is a real thing that really happens. Read some of the many articles written about train engineers who have dealt with their train hitting someone (and it is many if not most of them).

I think this would be a fascinating and tragic FPP and if someone wanted to make it that would be a totally defensible choice, but using the very real pain and suffering of truck drivers and engineers and motorists who are brought into someone's suicide as a way to distract or trump the pain of a young woman who is suffering enough to commit suicide stops conversation on that issue. I get the worries about censorship and the desire for free and open discussion, but unfortunately "free discussion" can actually stifle voices; if we all talk about the truck driver instead of Ms. Alcorn, we are preventing actual conversation by shouting over people instead of silencing them, but the effect is the same. I think it's important to be able to have these conversations in a genuine way which simply doesn't happen when people keep trying to change the topic.

Some people are seeing these deletions as censorship by the mods, but I think that the derails can be censorship of another type by trying to avoid very real issues and shutting down serious conversations; it's done by commenters through noise instead of mods by deletion but the effect is the same.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 11:44 AM on December 30, 2014 [27 favorites]


1. In a thread about a teenager driven to suicide, the effect on the driver of the truck is not so significant. I guess if you wanted that conversation, you could have constructed an FPP out of material on the effect of suicides on unwitting bystanders.

Again, and for fuck's sake, the truck driver is not "an unwitting bystander." He drove the fucking truck.
Does PTSD increase an individual's suicide risk?

Considerable debate exists about the reason for the heightened risk of suicide in trauma survivors. Whereas some studies suggest that suicide risk is higher among those who experienced trauma due to the symptoms of PTSD (8-10), others claim that suicide risk is higher in these individuals because of related psychiatric conditions (11,12). However, a study analyzing data from the National Comorbidity Survey, a nationally representative sample, showed that PTSD alone out of six anxiety diagnoses was significantly associated with suicidal ideation or attempts (13). While the study also found an association between suicidal behaviors and both mood disorders and antisocial personality disorder, the findings pointed to a robust relationship between PTSD and suicide after controlling for comorbid disorders. A later study using the Canadian Community Health Survey data also found that respondents with PTSD were at higher risk for suicide attempts after controlling for physical illness and other mental disorders (14).

Some studies that point to PTSD as a precipitating factor of suicide suggest that high levels of intrusive memories can predict the relative risk of suicide (9). Anger and impulsivity have also been shown to predict suicide risk in those with PTSD (15). Further, some cognitive styles of coping such as using suppression to deal with stress may be additionally predictive of suicide risk in individuals with PTSD (9).
...but the comment made Leelah out to be something other than a victim.

Yes, I am not defending the comment, I am responding to an attitude that seems to dismiss any concerns about the driver. And I know you couldn't have meant this, but Leelah was more than a victim in many many parts of her life. Even in aspects of her suicide she is both a victim and "something other than a victim."
posted by OmieWise at 11:44 AM on December 30, 2014 [13 favorites]


Thank goodness no one is proposing such a thing!

Except that's the only thing that makes sense with your specific long-running pattern of deletion complaints and snipes at the moderators, in posts and in comments. This is a thing you do, consistently framing run-of-the-mill moderation work as oppressive and infantilizing and censorious; you present an intolerance for the idea of moderation that is whole standards of deviation away from the norm in the userbase, and do so in a righteous and dismissive fashion, and never seem to hear a word of what anyone says in reaction, because you then just turn around and do it again the next time something gets up your shirt about us doing our job. If you feel like I'm misrepresenting your actual philosophy on this stuff, I don't know what to tell you other than that you have apparently spent the last several years here doing an incredibly poor job of representing it in the first place.

And the thing is, you are a wonderful dude. You're kind, you're compassionate, you were a thoughtful and fun host that time I came through D.C. You are, I would say to anyone who asked, a person worth knowing and a person I am glad to have been able to meet in person and spend time with.

But that reasonable, kind, compassionate guy is unrecognizable in the way you interact with us and with the site. I used to be surprised and confused when you did stuff like this, like maybe something had gone very wrong that day and bad life shit just slopped into some intemperate metatalk comment or something like I think it does for everyone now and then. But after awhile I stopped being surprised, because it stopped being surprising; now it's just sort of a dismaying constant, a wearying and predictable fact of your participation here. There is no practical way that the complaints you make about moderation could be answered by anything other than a total abandonment of the moderation practices that have made this place what it is since it started; you are too smart not to recognize that, and too smart to think that such an abandonment would ever practically happen. And yet it remains your apparent, brusquely-stated refrain. It's absurd and unanswerable.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:47 AM on December 30, 2014 [120 favorites]


Listen, I used to be against moderation. The truth is if you want to go apeshit and turn this personal tragedy into pornography for your attention-grabbing political views or contrarianism, there are plenty of other places to do so.

Also, the moderator did not censor comments discussing "the effect of suicide on those left behind." Because the only thing mentioned was the driver, and not the two sisters and brother Leelah left behind. So you can take the feigned intimacy and thoughtfulness of those deleted comments and shove 'em.
posted by phaedon at 11:50 AM on December 30, 2014 [4 favorites]


Sparklemotion phrased this idea well and with compassion. What else was there to say about the subject?
posted by Tarumba at 11:55 AM on December 30, 2014 [7 favorites]


I'm so fucking sick of people whining about being censored when they say shitty things and those shitty things are rightfully deleted. Fuck off to Reddit if you want to spew nastiness unfettered.
posted by palomar at 11:55 AM on December 30, 2014 [14 favorites]


MrMoonPie: "restless_nomad, stop censoring the discussion about the effect of suicide on those left behind."

As of right now there's still discussion about those left behind. I don't think that your description here is in line with what you're actually thinking or feeling.

MrMoonPie: "As someone else who lost a loved one to suicide, my opinion is different from yours. "

I'm sorry to hear that happened to you. Hopefully as people respond to this metatalk, they keep this fact in mind. I'd like to think that as a community, we would act in a thoughtful and considerate way given this particular detail.
posted by boo_radley at 12:00 PM on December 30, 2014 [4 favorites]


I think committing suicide in such a way as a third party has your death on their conscience can reasonably be criticized. I went balls to the wall criticizing a fictional TV show that recently ended with a suicide into a tractor trailer. Real life issues with real people are far more complicated and nuanced. I didn't see the comments under discussion here but I suspect they lacked the nuance appropriate for the topic because the mods generally take an intelligent and careful approach on such topics.
posted by Drinky Die at 12:01 PM on December 30, 2014 [6 favorites]


Mrs. Pterodactyl, I agree with everything you say in your last comment. It's a position I take myself, frequently. There are two reasons I have been insisting that maybe some room for the driver is appropriate:
1) I hadn't seen that the conversation was getting derailed with that as yet.

2) To me this specific case is a bit more nuanced. My career is in mental health practice and policy, and it's just personally hard for me to see the driver, who is at substantially increased risk of mental health problems (including suicide), because of Leelah's actions, left out of the conversation. Leelah did not commit suicide because she was a transwoman, she committed suicide because lack of acceptance, bullying and assorted forms of abuse precipitated mental health problems that led her to considering suicide the best option.

I'll stop beating this horse now.
posted by OmieWise at 12:10 PM on December 30, 2014 [9 favorites]


Some people are seeing these deletions as censorship by the mods, but I think that the derails can be censorship of another type by trying to avoid very real issues and shutting down serious conversations; it's done by commenters through noise instead of mods by deletion but the effect is the same.

I just wanted to reiterate that: a free-for-all isn't actually free, it's a tyranny of the loudest and most obnoxious*.

I may or may not agree with any single deletion on the blue as that's a case by case thing, but the overall principle of restricting discussion somewhat to allow everyone a chance to speak about the issue at hand is sound and necessary for civilized discourse. Professional debate has formal rules. Metafilter has mods. Even those kids in Lord of the Flies had their conch. It arises because the alternative is worse.

(* You don't want me running the joint.)

So, hugs all around.

Good idea.
posted by mordax at 12:11 PM on December 30, 2014 [9 favorites]


Sparklemotion phrased this idea well and with compassion. What else was there to say about the subject?

Too be fair, I wouldn't be surprised in the least to hear that my comment got a whole bunch of flags as well. The difference of course being that while I might believe that Leelah did something that to my sense of morality was an act of evil*, I didn't go as far as saying it.

I do think that how suicide is discussed (in the media, in personal circles, on Metafilter) can and does have an effect on other people who are in pain and contemplating the same actions. I think it's important to address (to the extent that we can) the issues that drive some groups of disenfranchised folks (I can't think of another group besides GLBT youth here, but I'm sure there are others) to choose suicide more than the mainstream -- the FPP thread is doing a good job at that.

I think it's important to avoid glorifying the suicide. But I also believe in a right to die with dignity at the time of one's choosing, and part of that is acknowledging that there are ways to die that can create even more victims, and that it is wrong to do that.

But we can have this conversation without calling a young woman who was in pain "evil", no matter how much we may disagree with her actions (and feel for the victim that she created).

*Not that she was evil, I agree wholeheartedly with others who point out that she was in a lot of pain as the result of bullying and other likely evils perpetrated upon her.
posted by sparklemotion at 12:13 PM on December 30, 2014 [10 favorites]


I've been following the story on Twitter all day and I also had the same reaction as sparklemotion had, to worry about the trucker who killed her as well. Sparklemotion's comment was well meant, but I think in retrospect it appeared too early in the thread, leading to more shitty comments and well, this thread here.

In that respect it was a derail, that focuses attention away from one particularly vulnerable group and the girl that was in so much pain mainly through her parents' actions that she had to commit suicide.

The mods did the right thing to delete the other comments and try to get the thread back on point and it deserves better than to be used in yet another attempt to prove moderation is eevil.
posted by MartinWisse at 12:26 PM on December 30, 2014 [14 favorites]


I don't think the subject is in itself inappropriate. I think it's important and I don't think it was censored, since a couple of comments addressing that issue are still standing.

Personally, I have considered suicide by train while severely depressed, and thoughtful comments I had previously read online about exactly this subject are what stopped me.

The key to this discussion is to have compassion, tactfulness, and to not let the actual main subject out of sight. You never know who is reading and what crisis might be happening in their lives. The last thing a suicidal person needs is to be guilt tripped or insulted or attacked.

I have a feeling that the deleted comments were probably inappropriate, unkind, senseless or out of place.
posted by Tarumba at 12:27 PM on December 30, 2014 [10 favorites]


Again, and for fuck's sake, the truck driver is not "an unwitting bystander." He drove the fucking truck.

In a thread that was about Leelah Alcorn's life and death, the truck driver is a bystander. Insisting in that thread that we think about him in a primary way is a derail; it's really easy to read that as "Leelah is unimportant, the real story is over here."

Yes, the truck driver (and other people enlisted as "suicide tools") as well as people who get roped into someone else's suicide as an observer or discoverer have their own traumas and their own stories and deserve an FPP as much as Leelah does. But they deserve their own FPP.
posted by GenjiandProust at 12:28 PM on December 30, 2014 [13 favorites]

Jumping into a thread to literally declare the dead girl evil is beyond tonedeaf and should not have been done.
I don't know why but this is literally the thing that broke me. I'm sitting here crying at my workplace (which is fortunately mostly empty because of the holidays) because all of this shit is just too much to process and this just makes it that much worse. I'm glad I didn't see the original deleted comment, and I thank the moderators for this. But it hurts just as much to see it repeated and remarked on here, and to read some of the other comments in the FPP and this MeTa.
But castigating someone who, in your own words "will never see the thread" is also pointless and takes away from those who are feeling sorrow at her death.
There are people who will see the FPP who will hurt just as much as Leelah did, many for much the same reason as she did; people who will hurt because suicide (and abuse) is triggering; people who will hurt because they can identify with an innocent young woman who is being not only castigated but maligned for taking the only option she saw available to her.

I'm a trans woman and I recently left my own abusive mother behind, starting over in another city in a different country just to get out from beneath her grasp. I wrote this comment around when I was first starting my transition. Leelah's note and these threads hurts almost as much as the substance surrounding Holdkris' "suicide" did for me.

Shit like this hurts, and I don't even really understand why. It's a kind of hurt I frankly thought I had left behind, along with all of those suicidal feelings I had, when I started living as myself full-time. Lately I'd been thinking of myself as someone who's survived; as someone who really had come through all the pain and misery and found a place for herself. I'm not really doubting that too much right now, but I really did begin to think I had left that kind of suffering behind. And it's a bit of a doozy to realize that I'm apparently wrong about that.
posted by and they trembled before her fury at 12:33 PM on December 30, 2014 [47 favorites]


If there's one thing that metafilter lacks, its pointless aggression in threads about tragic topics.

Not to mention apostrophes.
posted by y2karl at 12:33 PM on December 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


GenjiandProust: "In a thread that was about Leelah Alcorn's life and death, the truck driver is a bystander. "

Suggest "unwilling participant".
posted by boo_radley at 12:35 PM on December 30, 2014 [12 favorites]


Cortex, I'm not asking for no moderation. I'm asking for less moderation. It's easier to dismiss me as an unreasonable crank than it is to seriously examine and discuss moderation policies, sure, but it's also possible that there are occasional moderation errors. No doubt, I have complained loudly and with increasing vehemence. Maybe it's because of some radical personality change on my part. Maybe it's because moderation has gotten increasingly out of hand.

See, it is precisely the "run-of-the-mill moderation work" that is "oppressive and infantilizing and censorious." No reasonable person would object to deletions of, say, a racist insult directed at another user, or a threat of physical violence, or doxxing. I believe I once wrote to the mods about deleting a user's homophobic comment.

Rather, it's the casual, run-of-the-mill, barely-noticed-by-anyone deletions that bother me the most. It's the subtle, invisible censoring that is most damaging, and, I feel strongly, counter to the "moderation practices that have made this place what it is since it started."
posted by MrMoonPie at 12:37 PM on December 30, 2014 [3 favorites]


I just got back from a memorial service for a friend of a friend who just died at 32 of a rare form of liver cancer. On the drive home, my wife mentioned her feelings of shame and guilt for her attempts to end her life in her late teens/early 20s. These aren't new feelings, of course, but seeing everyone today come to celebrate the life of someone who was taken by a terminal disease reminded her of how much grief and despair people leave behind under (relatively) normal circumstances.

Suicide is a selfish act, and one that, no matter how valid the feelings behind it are to the decedent, cannot be separated from that selfishness. Someone who takes that step (or tries to) may be in extreme distress, even unbearable pain, but because they won't be present (at least in a form we can all agree on) to see even more pain after they're gone, anger at someone who leaves behind that pain for everyone else to deal with is entirely rational. Anger at someone who does it in a way that involves / imperils others is certainly even more justifiable, even if we grant some allowance for the fact that someone who's on the precipice of taking their own life doesn't have a solid handle on their moral calculus at that time.

The thing is, anyone who's ever dealt with suicide in their family or circle of friends knows all of these things, and certainly doesn't need to be reminded of it by someone else. In this situation, where presumably none of us are speaking from any strong personal connection to the decedent, I don't see what calling someone "evil" adds to the conversation, while I see many ways in which it could subtract from it. A comment like this one captures things in, I think, a much more productive, non-derail-y way.

Whatever the merits of the individual deletions, this MeTa comes off as more of a long-term grievance at site policy thing than as any kind of legitimate complaint about being silenced. The bar should be much higher for an emotionally-charged topic like this, and if that means people have to rephrase things so the thread can be a bit less shouty, so be it.
posted by tonycpsu at 12:40 PM on December 30, 2014 [6 favorites]


Suicide is a selfish act, and one that, no matter how valid the feelings behind it are to the decedent, cannot be separated from that selfishness.

No offense, but this is BS. As noted in the other thread, suicidal depression is an illness.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:41 PM on December 30, 2014 [46 favorites]


It doesn't have to be one or the other.
posted by tonycpsu at 12:43 PM on December 30, 2014 [3 favorites]


It doesn't have to be one or the other.

There is nothing selfish about having an illness.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:45 PM on December 30, 2014 [45 favorites]


I think what bothers me most about the "suicide is a selfish act" discussion is that part of the rejection Leelah was feeling -- and wrote about -- was that people were telling her she was being "selfish" for wanting to transition.

From her Tumblr note: " I only got more christians telling me that I was selfish and wrong and that I should look to God for help."

And from a Reddit post: "As soon as I found out what transgender meant, I came out to my mom. She reacted extremely negatively, telling me that it was a phase, that I would never truly be a girl, that God doesn’t make mistakes, that I am wrong, and it felt awful."

I think it's the juxtaposition of the "selfish" comments with that context that makes this really hard for me to read.
posted by QuantumMeruit at 12:50 PM on December 30, 2014 [42 favorites]


It's the subtle, invisible censoring that is most damaging, and, I feel strongly, counter to the "moderation practices that have made this place what it is since it started."

I've been here since 2006, and have spent a fair amount of time poking around in the archives from longer ago than that, and in my opinion the mostly-lack-of-moderation (from those days when it was just Matt or just Matt and jessamyn) made this place more unwelcoming and more hostile to some people. People like me. I guess we will disagree about what "damage" this "invisible censoring" has caused, and to whom.
posted by rtha at 12:54 PM on December 30, 2014 [43 favorites]


Suicide is a selfish act, and one that, no matter how valid the feelings behind it are to the decedent, cannot be separated from that selfishness.

That's like when people selfishly die of cancer, right? I mean, come on. I wouldn't be able to stub my toe on purpose--the healthy body (and mind) protect itself. Meanwhile, you've got this young girl who is so wracked by what she's been through that she ends her life rather than prolong the suffering. I'm not a scientist, doctor, or social worker--but the kind of changes that must go on in your brain to cause it to allow you to do that to yourself just astound me.

My heart goes out to her family and loved ones, and the driver and his family, too. She was ill, and the illness that allowed her to destroy herself allowed her to use someone else as the means. I'd wager that if she had been in a position to recognize the "wrongness" of her actions with respect to the driver, she'd still be alive. I get where people are coming from with the driver; there but for the grace of god go we all, and I'd hate to be in that position. But to conflate evil with her illness compounds the tragedy.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 12:54 PM on December 30, 2014 [12 favorites]


It's easier to dismiss me as an unreasonable crank than it is to seriously examine and discuss moderation policies, sure

Bullshit. You present the position of an unreasonable crank, is the issue. We seriously examine and discuss moderation policies here constantly; what we don't do is come to the specific conclusions you want us to, for which you are endlessly regurgitating grumpy snipes at us.

So, fine, you are not asking for no moderation. You are asking for an unreasonable reduction in moderation. It's a distinction without difference, in practice. You object to the deletion of actively disruptive, at-best-very-ill-considered comments in a way that displays a total disconnect with the reality of the impact they have on conversation here, while sneering about how the mods and moderation are ruining or have ruined the site.

If what you want to do is have substantive, productive discussions about moderation in Metatalk, fine, but you need to change your whole approach because the way you have been doing it by and large for the last several years is not that; it's a one-note, all-gripe-and-no-substance approach that is self-defeating and gives us nothing to work with. You come off as a grumpy obsessive who has resigned himself to the awfulness of this place and of these people but who can't walk away either. If that's not how you are trying to come off, this is the best reality check I can manage at this point, because it's been years of this and I've basically given up on trying to find a way to even start having a real conversation with you about it.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:54 PM on December 30, 2014 [39 favorites]


There is nothing selfish about having an illness.

Mental illness isn't binary, and neither is the distribution of responsibility between the illness and the individual's ultimate decision to end their life.

I think it's the juxtaposition of the "selfish" comments with that context that makes this really hard for me to read.

Oh, geez, I honestly hadn't considered this. I in no way meant to imply that her decision to transition was selfish, and will be happy to drop this derail rather than leave the impression that I'm somehow assigning a selfish motive to her decision to transition.
posted by tonycpsu at 12:55 PM on December 30, 2014 [10 favorites]


I think the tone of her suicide note, her chosen method and specifically the pull-quote "My death needs to mean something." are what led to some of the deleted comments, at least on my part. Because when I read that, it made me want to ask the writer, "Does your death need to mean something because, if it means nothing, then you shouldn't kill yourself? Why should it mean something? Just because you want it to?" I can't imagine I'm entirely alone in having these reactions. And that's why I wrote a comment about how there will be so many people she could've helped who are now abandoned. And it was deleted.

As for the selfish thing, it's definitely the parents/clergy/doctors who were the most selfish in this case. It always is, when it comes to devoutly religious/prejudiced/phobic types. It's all about them.
posted by ReeMonster at 12:58 PM on December 30, 2014 [4 favorites]


I've been that depressed and I assure you that if I'd died of it no one would have suffered more than I had. the idea that we all have a great circle of loving friends and family who would be crushed at our departure is a hallmark channel story.
posted by winna at 1:00 PM on December 30, 2014 [43 favorites]


ReeMonster, wow, are you implying this young woman staged her death in a way to get attention? Because I hope you are not doing that.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 1:00 PM on December 30, 2014 [8 favorites]


ReeMonster, wow, are you implying this young woman staged her death in a way to get attention? Because I hope you are not doing that.

NO NO!!! Not at all. This girl was severely depressed and felt she had had no way out. I'm not trying to downplay the "legitimacy" of the act. I'm strongly against suicide but I didn't intend that implication in the slightest. I'm just saying that my gut reaction to that pull-quote brings about those feelings of "Wow that is a selfish act." even if I don't feel that with every fiber of my being. I think it stems from the irrational feeling that somehow I or any of us could've "talked her down."
posted by ReeMonster at 1:04 PM on December 30, 2014


Suicide is a selfish act, and one that, no matter how valid the feelings behind it are to the decedent, cannot be separated from that selfishness.

Many years ago my brother-in-law was chided by his father for using a particular pair of red-handled scissors which were to be used only to cut paper; to use them for anything else dulled the blades and his father (my father-in-law) wanted them to stay nice and sharp for whatever his paper-cutting needs may be.

In October of this year my brother-in-law killed himself. He came home to his parents' house, waited until no one else was home, and he made a rope and hung himself in the garage. The scissors which he used to make the rope came from his mother's sewing room, on the second floor, while his father's red-handled scissors were much closer to hand. He did not use the red-handled scissors, because they were for cutting paper, and he did not want to dull the blades, because my brother-in-law, to the last, was a good, kind, and selfless man.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:05 PM on December 30, 2014 [104 favorites]


DTMFA is a selfish act!
posted by fleacircus at 1:09 PM on December 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


fleacircus: "DTMFA is a selfish act!"

C'mon.
posted by boo_radley at 1:14 PM on December 30, 2014 [11 favorites]


Cortex, again, dismissing me as a grumpy, sneering obsessive isn't the same thing as addressing my argument, and the fact that you don't agree with my stance on moderation doesn't make it unreasonable, or bullshit. One of us might be completely wrong, but I suspect the truth is somewhere in the middle.
posted by MrMoonPie at 1:19 PM on December 30, 2014 [5 favorites]


> Cortex, again, dismissing me as a grumpy, sneering obsessive isn't the same thing as addressing my argument, and the fact that you don't agree with my stance on moderation doesn't make it unreasonable, or bullshit. One of us might be completely wrong, but I suspect the truth is somewhere in the middle.

If it were, I think you'd see a lot more people agreeing with you.
posted by languagehat at 1:21 PM on December 30, 2014 [60 favorites]


In recognition of the fact that my particular experiences with suicidal family members are different from others' such experiences, and that those experiences are themselves very different from what suicidal people are feeling in their own heads, I would like to amend my earlier statement. Certainly, there is a point with untreated (or inadequately treated, or untreatable) mental illness where one cannot assign any blame to the victim, who is simply held hostage by the disease. At the same time, I don't buy the "I wouldn't stub my toe, I could never kill myself" self-preservation logic given that many people choose methods of suicide that involve an almost instantaneous death. "Heat of the moment" suicides exist -- not all are the result of chronic mental illness.

I also recognize that there are often feelings that loved ones will be "better off without them", which, even if it's a rationalization, and almost always wrong, it means the person has at least deluded themselves in a way that undermines the notion that there's a selfish aspect to it.

There are enough mitigating factors in each situation that my choice of definitive phrasing around selfishness was overly broad. I really shouldn't have chimed in when my emotions were so raw from the funeral service today, and thinking about how my wife is very fortunate to be alive to attend it with me today. I should have sat this one out, and I'm very sorry to anyone I offended.
posted by tonycpsu at 1:35 PM on December 30, 2014 [16 favorites]


As someone who has considered suicide in the past, one of the things I obsessed about was finding a way to end my life in a way that didn't burden other people.

The fact that this girl ended her life this way only tells me the depth of her own suffering.

Was it selfish? By the barest sense of the word, yes - her actions valued her own needs over those of the driver. However, to be selfish implies to me that you have a choice between sacrificing from your own needs and taking from another.

Leelah felt as though she had nothing left to give, and that lack of options is what should be condemned for both her death and the trauma of the driver.
posted by mikurski at 1:37 PM on December 30, 2014 [17 favorites]


If it were, I think you'd see a lot more people agreeing with you.

Well, I don't disagree with him, but I think he's talking about a different site than the one that exists. The problem with this idea is it works great as a thought experiment, sort of like What If comics, but it's been repeatedly and handily rejected as a desirable option. Not every good idea (and not saying this is) has to become reality. Once the official position is, "We're not going to change the fundamentals of the site in the manner you suggest," continuing to suggest the same ways to fundamentally change the site seems disingenuous.
posted by cjorgensen at 1:38 PM on December 30, 2014 [3 favorites]


I would caution against treating the suicide of a young trans girl as being an expression of mental illness. It may well be, but when the people who surround you have been incredibly, deliberately cruel, for years, and you see no chance of that changing or improving, then that's not depression; that's desperation.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 1:38 PM on December 30, 2014 [72 favorites]


He did not use the red-handled scissors, because they were for cutting paper, and he did not want to dull the blades, because my brother-in-law, to the last, was a good, kind, and selfless man.

I can't tell if you're being sarcastic? There are many ways to read the story of those scissors. Many are not about selflessness.
posted by OmieWise at 1:40 PM on December 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


the fact that you don't agree with my stance on moderation doesn't make it unreasonable, or bullshit. One of us might be completely wrong, but I suspect the truth is somewhere in the middle.

There is no truth here, there is only opinion. The most valid opinion in the context of MeFi is not yours, but rather that of the people selected and hired and paid to moderate it.
posted by DarlingBri at 1:43 PM on December 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


If it were, I think you'd see a lot more people agreeing with you.

I agree that there is too much moderation. I don't think I have ever voiced this before, at least in part because I know for a fact it will be drowned in "the mods are the BEST!" comments. I'm not saying the mods aren't the best, necessarily. I am sure moderating a site like this is frustrating, and I don't think the problem lies equally with all of the mods, to be honest, though I won't get into it any further than that.

Anyway, I have no idea how many other users are out there like me, who largely stay silent because they believe they are by far in the minority. I'm not actually sure MeFi is the place for me anymore, anyway. I won't go so far as to say it's an echo chamber like some do, but this place absolutely has an orthodoxy and it can be just as nasty as any other place in the enforcement of that orthodoxy (on the part of the users, not the mods, generally, and I am not exempt from that criticism). I largely align with that orthodoxy, which is why I have lasted this long, but there are some things that happen here that make me less enthusiastic about participating (such as, at the risk of outing myself as a misogynist neckbeard, the Scott Aaronson thread). Perhaps it's time to find another way to waste the days until I shuffle off.

As I wrote this, a comment appeared suggesting that the mods' opinions are more valid than the users. They certainly have more power than the users, I will give you that.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 1:46 PM on December 30, 2014 [21 favorites]


The deletion was correct. I don't always agree with moderation decisions, but this one I do.
posted by arcticseal at 1:50 PM on December 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


it's a one-note, all-gripe-and-no-substance approach that is self-defeating and gives us nothing to work with

I'm not sure that this has been discussed already, but what is often referred to as "the moderation" in MetaFilter has made it an increasingly distinct entity among its competitors, especially as of late. Perhaps I've missed it, but I often feel that this has not been articulated enough or expounded upon. Perhaps the moderators have their reasons for keeping things vague.

I think certain users of a certain age (myself included) who have been contributing and lurking on MetaFilter for a very long time have to figure out whether or not they are down with this, both in and of itself, and in terms of the general landscape, i.e. where else can you go to talk about things. Just figure it out. Disqus awaits.

I don't know about you, but to me the state of community forums online these days seems pretty desperate. What springs to mind is Kinja, which has as of late degenerated to the point of unaddressable meaninglessness. I don't know what to make of even my own contributions on sites like that. They are short, dumb, highly judgmental, sometimes hurtful, and with an emphasis on anonymity.

But cranky, unreasonable conversations will spill in from other places to a site like this. I think that is a major issue. It is hard to tell how the moderators think about this stuff and sometimes the moderation comes off as targeted and/or political. There are certain users who are used to a certain conversational style that will keep running into this problem and feel excluded.

I am onboard because the articulate expression of egotistical, contrarian positions has proven to have satisfiable limits, and in the years that have passed, MetaFilter has expanded as a community in ways that are beyond my intellect or control. Which is a long-winded way of saying I came here to teach MetaFilter a thing or two, and the opposite happened.

MrMoonPie, I think you are under the impression that the comments that were deleted would not have been destroyed by people like me. They in fact serve only to create a lot of laborious animosity. I wouldn't look at it only as the comments themselves as being deleted, but rather the ensuing conversation. Which I assure you would go nuclear, with my participation, when the bar is set at calling a person that committed suicide "evil." If this is what you want to spend your time online doing, arguing and separating yourself, and contributing to the progressive worsening of conversations, then perhaps this place is not for you. If you feel differently, then welcome back.

In the meantime, I would argue that original post content, and dead people, and members of certain groups that suffer, are given some space to be treated with a modicum of uninterrupted respect on this site. And that can include raising certain unusual points respectfully. Again, if you're not down with this, that's cool. But I don't find this everywhere. It is in short supply, just as people are spending an increasing amount of time online.

So if it comes down to the way you want things done, and the way things are actually done around here, like I said, perhaps it needs to be articulated, so users can stand by it. I favor conversation that is friendly and community-oriented and not egotistically hyper-judgmental. If you want the Wild West, there are plenty of corporate social media products that are more than happy to oblige with their promise of "connectivity." I occasionally dive into dark places around here but have the presence of mind to eventually back off of it. I think that's all people are asking for around here.
posted by phaedon at 1:51 PM on December 30, 2014 [14 favorites]


There are many ways to read the story of those scissors.

I think the story was meant to demonstrate that even in suicide there can be expressions of concern for the desires of family.

The question of selfishness is a puzzling one when addressing suicide. I have known several people who committed suicide, and in every instance it was the result of mental illness. I imagine there are some people who kill themselves because they are selfish and thoughtless and are just being petty, or whatever, like psychopaths in movies who do all sorts of terrible things and then put a gun in their mouth when finally caught, laughing even as they pull the trigger because their last psychotic act was to cheat justice.

But that wasn't the case with any of my friends. They were just sick, and the sickness caused them to be in pain, and it was pain that became a deep well, and they fell into the well and couldn't get out. They died at the bottom of the well, far away from any of us, so far away that the death had nothing to do with us. It hurt us, yes, but it wasn't meant to. We weren't part of the disease's equation. We were incidental to the disease.

So it is with a lot of diseases. My mother's best friend just died of cancer, and nobody lectured her for posthumously for letting her disease win. We understand that some diseases are fatal, and yet we don't understand that with depression, because we think we are rational creatures always, and we think the decision for suicide was made in a rational moment, instead of being a thing that chemicals propelled a person to, because the chemicals stripped away any idea that there might be another choice.

The disease doesn't think about the driver of the truck. It just gives the person a mechanism to reach what seems like a predetermined terminus, and the driver is no more a factor than our bus driver is when they drop us off at our stop. He's just part of the thing that moves us to our destination.

None of this has to do with selfishness. It's all about bad chemicals and a brain that isn't working quite right, and a toxic combination of the two that makes somebody think there is only one path they are on, and, in this instance, it was a path that led to a road that opened directly in front of a truck.

We need better mental health care. We need to understand the trans experience better, and respect it, so that it is just something people are, and not one more additive to a murderous combination of bad chemistry, shame, stress, and hopelessness. We need to expand our compassion, if possible. Because blaming the dead isn't going to make fewer dead, it just adds one more toxic ingredient in before the death, something else for them to feel ashamed about in a life already filled with shame. I don't know of anybody who has been prevented from suicide by being told they are selfish. I just know they felt a little sadder that this was another part of life they were getting wrong.
posted by maxsparber at 1:53 PM on December 30, 2014 [38 favorites]


Did you just really imply that the scissor story was irrelevant because of the suicide
posted by angrycat at 1:55 PM on December 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


That was to omniwise. Stop treating suicide like it is your philosophical playground
posted by angrycat at 1:57 PM on December 30, 2014 [11 favorites]


it's easier to dismiss me as an unreasonable crank than it is to seriously examine and discuss moderation policies

No offence mate, but to me you honestly really do come off as an unreasonable crank with regards to moderation. There are a dozen ways to say what you're feeling - Steely-eyed Missile Man just posted a comment with a substance very similar to yours above - but you always seem to pick the most inflammatory.

It reads to me like a bomb-lobbing approach and it makes it very easy for me (and, I imagine, others) to dismiss your argument because there is no argument it's just a collection of petulant insults. If you have something to say about moderation, put on your big-boy pants and 1) describe the situation as it currently exists as neutrally as you can 2) talk about the (negative) effect you perceive this to have on you and others, and 3) constructively offer examples of the kind of conversation you would prefer and how the mods could facilitate a move towards that without alienating the rest of the community.

Instead, you regularly serve up this "SILENCED ALL MY LIFE" tantrum rubbish, begrudgingly adding a few details when the mods and others attempt - with a superhuman patience, imho - to drag it out of you.

In summary, if the kind of conversation you want to see more of is like what you opened the thread with, I think you have no chance - and I'm glad, that sort of debased self-centered nonsense adds nothing to this community.

If you actually give a shit about metafilter, and moderation, and this community, you should act like it.
posted by smoke at 1:58 PM on December 30, 2014 [30 favorites]


the fact that you don't agree with my stance on moderation doesn't make it unreasonable, or bullshit.

Your stance on moderation might not be "unreasonable" or "bullshit" for some other website, but your suggestions would turn this website into something so completely different from Metafilter's current approach that they're not really useful suggestions at all.
posted by 23skidoo at 1:59 PM on December 30, 2014 [6 favorites]


In a thread that was about Leelah Alcorn's life and death, the truck driver is a bystander. Insisting in that thread that we think about him in a primary way is a derail; it's really easy to read that as "Leelah is unimportant, the real story is over here."

If you want a suicide thread focused only on you, don't draft another person into killing you. I find this reasonable as someone who has had a close family member die of suicide. (And I suspect gender issues as a potential contributing issue, though I didn't know him well enough to really say since I was too young when it happened.)
posted by Drinky Die at 2:02 PM on December 30, 2014 [7 favorites]


So, I take it this is another one of those "MY comment got deleted, therefore it's censorship and the mods are all meanies to me" MeTas? When are we going to decide as a community that those are passé and not the way we do this dance?

It's a really big forum. Thus, that rubric about "Your right to swing your fist ends where someone else's face begins" tends to come with greater restrictions than it would in a smaller forum. If you want to exercise your right to Free Speech, get a blog and rant all you want elsewhere.
posted by Michele in California at 2:02 PM on December 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


MrMoonPie. I dunno dude. regarding moderation those are your metrics but they don't really seem to be the metric of the majority of people here. Or even a sizable minority. And making those changes would drastically change metafilter overall, 'the truth' is very likely much closer to cortex's version than yours.
I think, given that cortex is one of the primary employees, and that he is backed up by the owner and that there isn't really a groundswell of people advocating for those ideas you are far out in the weeds on this. You may not like it, and may even actively dislike it, but the fact is those big substantive changes are not going to happen any time soon, if at all, and continuing to push for them as aggressively as you tend to do is doing little to endear you to many people and likely are doing much more harm to your cause than good.
You can either let it go - set is aside as yet something else in this imperfect world, move on to some other site that more close resembles your libertarian stance on moderation or continue to aggravate and annoy the people who run this site you say you love so much until they boot you. Consider though that the site you love so much exists because of the moderation, it has been shaped by those that run it, it isn't some magic thing that sprung up fully formed.
Comparing places I gotta say I think less moderation very often results in decreased inhibitions culminating in greater assholish behavior. The most vicious mean spirited attacks on MF don't come from new people, but from members who have built up a relation on enmity, there is nothing nastier than a domestic.

I say this all as someone who sometimes disagrees with some decisions, who would structure things differently, etc. But IT IS NOT MY SITE, (nor is it yours) and if mentioning my disagreements once or twice doesn't elicit helpful dialog or support or change... you let it go.

Please - let it go, the conflict is needless.
posted by edgeways at 2:04 PM on December 30, 2014 [8 favorites]


languagehat

I'm actually pretty shocked that you would consider community approbation a useful measure of right versus wrong, because that quality seems largely dependent on the composition of your sample.

(There's another more pointed photograph I could use to illustrate my point, but I don't want to burden my observation with the attached baggage.)

roomthreeseventeen

For curiosity's sake, at what precise threshold of collateral harm is it appropriate to flavor one's evaluation of a mentally ill person's actions with an acknowledgement of that harm?

More generally, everything I've read as an adult indicates that every deviation from the human psychiatric mean could be expressed in terms of an illness, if we could only find and manipulate the proper levers in the human brain. Until we have the means to do so -- not to mention the ethical framework to discern which deviations should be considered markers of illness versus benign building blocks of a person's identity, which would be a huge can of poisonous, flatulent worms -- do you really believe that it is helpful to exculpate people who cause harm based on an assumed illness?
posted by The Confessor at 2:05 PM on December 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


> I'm actually pretty shocked that you would consider community approbation a useful measure of right versus wrong, because that quality seems largely dependent on the composition of your sample.

Oh, come on. We're talking about the idea that MeFi mods suck, for which community approbation is indeed a useful measure, not the idea that anyone who isn't totally on board with cops blasting away at unarmed black kids is an evil cop-hater who should be shunned until driven from office. I'm actually pretty shocked that you would straw-man me like that.
posted by languagehat at 2:18 PM on December 30, 2014 [15 favorites]


That was to omniwise. Stop treating suicide like it is your philosophical playground

I didn't say it was irrelevant, and I have no idea why you think this is an academic discussion for me. I've got plenty of personal experience with suicide, and I've got boatloads of professional experience with suicidality. I'm not sure what your knowledge base is, but I've heard a variation of the red scissors story from someone suicidal at least a hundred times. About a third of the time it's simply part of a litany of despair. A third of the time the suicidal person ends the story with some variation of "If I ever kill myself I'm going to stab myself in the fucking eye/chest/neck with those fucking scissors." A third of the time the story ends with, "if I ever kill myself, I'll do it as his house but with a pair of my mother's scissors, that bastard will know exactly what I mean."

It's a story that is not dispositive of any particular personality trait.

I think we could all stand to be a damn sight kinder to each other and more contingent in our statements, especially about personal things about which we feel strongly.

BTW, it's OmieWise, not omni-anything.
posted by OmieWise at 2:24 PM on December 30, 2014 [5 favorites]


Its not censoring when you are paying $5 for the moderation. You're choosing to have moderation.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:25 PM on December 30, 2014 [18 favorites]


This metatalk needs a trigger warning
posted by angrycat at 2:25 PM on December 30, 2014 [13 favorites]


If you want a suicide thread focused only on you, don't draft another person into killing you.

Oh good, more chastising of someone who isn't even here to read your "wisdom" because she killed herself. How useful.
posted by palomar at 2:26 PM on December 30, 2014 [11 favorites]


I've got plenty of personal experience with suicide, and I've got boatloads of professional experience with suicidality.

And yet apparently very little experience with empathy.
posted by poffin boffin at 2:27 PM on December 30, 2014 [17 favorites]


How so?
posted by OmieWise at 2:30 PM on December 30, 2014


(such as, at the risk of outing myself as a misogynist neckbeard, the Scott Aaronson thread)

This is a side point from the thrust of the discussion here, but you haven't put forward any specific opinion, so imputing clearly unfair hypothetical insults to supposed enforcers of a vague orthodoxy is dirty pool.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 2:34 PM on December 30, 2014 [4 favorites]


I think we could all stand to be a damn sight kinder to each other and more contingent in our statements, especially about personal things about which we feel strongly.

Personally I found it unkind to reply to a fellow MeFite's story of the loss of their brother-in-law and their assertation that he was a kind and selfless man with "I can't tell if you're being sarcastic?"
posted by billiebee at 2:34 PM on December 30, 2014 [52 favorites]


This is a side point from the thrust of the discussion here, but you haven't put forward any specific opinion, so imputing clearly unfair hypothetical insults to supposed enforcers of a vague orthodoxy is dirty pool.

I think in general people spend a lot of energy getting upset about things other people haven't actually said or done - but they totally will/would, those fuckers. This is generally unproductive.
posted by PMdixon at 2:37 PM on December 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


How so?

I personally feel like maybe it's not the time/place to tell someone they're wrong when it comes to a positive assessment of family member who they lost. Even if you feel really strongly that they're wrong and need to say something, it might be worth acknowledging their feelings and supporting them before you state your disagreement in the kindest possible terms.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 2:39 PM on December 30, 2014 [15 favorites]

The most valid opinion in the context of MeFi is not yours, but rather that of the people selected and hired and paid to moderate it.
This is the central point of disagreement, I guess. I don't think anyone's opinion is most valid. I've always considered metafilter to be a community of equals. I'm not giving up on that, and I'm not shutting up about it, either.
Its not censoring when you are paying $5 for the moderation. You're choosing to have moderation.
Not me--I joined before there was a signup fee, and when it was a one-man show. Maybe this is another big difference in how I see the site and how others do.
posted by MrMoonPie at 2:39 PM on December 30, 2014 [4 favorites]


Perhaps it was. I'll be honest, I found a fellow MeFite deploying such an ambiguous and personal story as an argumentative techinique (suicide is unselfish because my brother in law was unselfish and he committed suicide, and his method and manner showed that) to be deeply troubling and more than a little bit cold on that MeFite's part. I chose to give them the benefit of the doubt, however, and ask if they were being sarcastic in using such an ambiguous story to supposedly settled an argument on Metafilter.

Look, in general I think it is a real weakness of many of the conversations we have here that we take as axiomatic our individual experiences. I am, at least, speaking from more than just my individual experience of suicide and suicidality. Perhaps that is not useful, but I think it brings some perspective that I find to be lacking, and not simply because it's my voice.

No one in this discussion, as a discussion, is my patient, and I'm not going to demean my patients by treating them as such.
posted by OmieWise at 2:40 PM on December 30, 2014 [11 favorites]


Not me--I joined before there was a signup fee, and when it was a one-man show. Maybe this is another big difference in how I see the site and how others do.

Maybe so. I personally see the moderation as a service provided by professionals. They tend a barely stable equilibrium in social interaction space and keep the signal/noise ratio high. Due to the nature of discussion boards as a medium, this necessarily means being somewhat proactive, and squelching a little noise before it gets to move the system to a dispreferred equilibrium.
posted by PMdixon at 2:45 PM on December 30, 2014 [7 favorites]


No one in this discussion, as a discussion, is my patient, and I'm not going to demean my patients by treating them as such.

I'm not sure what you mean by this, but honestly, I find your reading of shakespeherian's comment to be upsetting in its assumptions about his character and his motivation and don't really feel up to continuing this conversation in a decent way. So I guess I'll just say that you don't have to treat someone exactly like a patient in order to be kind, and that's where I'll leave it.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 2:50 PM on December 30, 2014 [15 favorites]


Yeesh, she just can't win, can she? All her life she was told that the way she lived was wrong. Now she's being told that the way she died was wrong.
posted by divabat at 2:50 PM on December 30, 2014 [45 favorites]


Omniewise:

1. You chose to dismiss a member's anecdote of loss because you felt it rhetorically inappropriate. I assert that is some messed up shit.
2. You posit that your experiences gives you the moral authority to do so. I assert that's some messed up shit.
3. What the flying fuck does this have to do with your patients. Waving the flag of your professional doings is not relevant to your being insensitive on the internet, unless your insensitivity is related to your professional burn out.
posted by angrycat at 2:53 PM on December 30, 2014 [33 favorites]


That discussion is more important than a bunch of dots left in honor of someone who, being dead, will never see the thread.

Don't you ever fucking try to decide what is more important than other people's condolences. Especially when showing such care for others can prevent further and similar tragedies by proving to them there are in fact people working on making this a more acceptable world.
posted by Johann Georg Faust at 2:55 PM on December 30, 2014 [23 favorites]


In a thread that was about Leelah Alcorn's life and death, the truck driver is a bystander. Insisting in that thread that we think about him in a primary way is a derail; it's really easy to read that as "Leelah is unimportant, the real story is over here."

I don't think this approach was driving the deletions, but I strongly disagree with this rationale. The truck driver is part of the story, and though the driver is an aspect of the story some may not want to play up, it's not a "derail." As for this: "All her life she was told that the way she lived was wrong. Now she's being told that the way she died was wrong." -- can't there be a discussion about the harms caused by suicide-by-truck? Or are we forced into a position of "suicide is tragic and therefore the methods of suicide must be unassailable?"
posted by craven_morhead at 2:56 PM on December 30, 2014 [8 favorites]


craven_morhead: as many people have already said, if you want that discussion, do it elsewhere - not on a post primarily about trans women and trans girls driven to suicide because of parental oppression.
posted by divabat at 2:59 PM on December 30, 2014 [13 favorites]


anycat:

Thanks.
posted by OmieWise at 3:02 PM on December 30, 2014 [3 favorites]


So divabat, would you be in favor of deleting all of the remaining comments in the thread expressing condolences for the driver or commenting on the choice to involve others in a suicide?
posted by craven_morhead at 3:05 PM on December 30, 2014


That really reads like some kinda "gotcha," there. Dunno if you meant it that way.
posted by PMdixon at 3:06 PM on December 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


Not my decision to make.
posted by divabat at 3:06 PM on December 30, 2014


I think suicide is tragic, and inherently causes collateral damage. I don't think discussing collateral damage is a bad thing. I do think that the specified post is the wrong place to do it. When was the last time Mefi discussed suicide on a general level? This isn't it though.
posted by one4themoment at 3:08 PM on December 30, 2014 [4 favorites]


It's meant to be an honest question about the appropriate bounds of moderation.
posted by craven_morhead at 3:08 PM on December 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


So divabat, would you be in favor of deleting all of the remaining comments in the thread expressing condolences for the driver or commenting on the choice to involve others in a suicide?

A thing that never works and rather makes you sound like an asshole is to make these sorts of exclamation-mark would you really?!?! types of posts.
posted by Pyrogenesis at 3:10 PM on December 30, 2014


I'm bothered by the argument that the deletions are good because we need to be focused on "this" part of the story and not "that" part of the story. And I get that post framing should guide the discussion, but I'm interested to know how much people think that moderation should steer the discussion to the various parts of a story. If you think that makes me sound like an asshole, fine.

And divabat, sure, it's not your decision to make, but you've obviously voiced opinions above as to where the moderation line should be.
posted by craven_morhead at 3:15 PM on December 30, 2014 [9 favorites]


if you want that discussion, do it elsewhere - not on a post primarily about

MetaFilter is a weird place. For the most part, it seems to be more or less the same people every day hanging around talking about stuff, but instead of treating it like that, like a group of folks who talk about things, it's often treated as some kind of meeting driven by Robert's Rules of Order, where New Business must be put off until the appropriate forum, or whatever. It often seems like a conversational cudgel, to be honest, "Shut up about whatever you want to talk about, because this isn't the place for that," never mind that the place for that (an "appropriate" post) will in all likelihood never come along.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 3:16 PM on December 30, 2014 [23 favorites]


Making posts is dangerous, scary and difficult, and really, who has the time? Much easier to find some vaguely related post and shoehorn in the issue that I'd rather talk about, than make my own.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 3:17 PM on December 30, 2014 [21 favorites]


anyone complaining about truck driver feels should realize this is important because it was a trans girl who was murdered by her parents and society, who she indicted very starkly in her note. this is not about you and you don't need to make this about you or complain when its not about you.

if you wanna make a truck driver part of the story think about all the trans woman truck drivers out there, most of whom are probably closeted for good reasons.
posted by thug unicorn at 3:18 PM on December 30, 2014 [16 favorites]


You know what? Fuck it. I'm already getting people getting snippy with me on MefiMail because I refused to engage on a topic related to this that would have drained me emotionally. I am far from the only person who has expressed distaste for the comments being referred to in this thread, and I don't understand why I of all people have been expected to explain myself when all I'd be doing is restating what everyone else has said. I'm out of this thread.
posted by divabat at 3:20 PM on December 30, 2014 [11 favorites]


It's because people like craven_motorhead feel it's more important to make self-satisfied comments rather than paying attention to the actual discussion, divabat.
posted by Pyrogenesis at 3:23 PM on December 30, 2014 [3 favorites]


I'm bothered by the argument that the deletions are good because we need to be focused on "this" part of the story and not "that" part of the story.

You don't sound familiar with the comment that was deleted. It's also not the in-thread stated reason for the deletion. You're trolling pretty hard. You also don't need to take one user's characterization of the derail and make another user accountable to it.
posted by phaedon at 3:24 PM on December 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


Making posts is dangerous, scary and difficult, and really, who has the time? Much easier to find some vaguely related post and shoehorn in the issue that I'd rather talk about, than make my own.

You know that's not what happens. Posts are held to a relatively high standard around here, too, and have to be able to stand on their own merits even if hardly anyone bothers to read the links they contain. This isn't a generic message board where people are free to make topics to discuss whatever is on their minds, even though it is frequented by a small group of vocal users who hold forth on things sometimes only vaguely related to the post they are doing it on. It's only when it raises the hackles of some folks that it really gets called out.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 3:26 PM on December 30, 2014 [3 favorites]


I think there was sarcasm there
posted by oceanjesse at 3:28 PM on December 30, 2014


Please take another look at my initial comment on this thread. I came out and said that I don't think the comment was deleted because it was a derail. But a number of people in the discussion above supported the deletion because it was a derail and focused on the wrong parts of the story, even though they were parts of the story. That's a moderation policy I don't endorse, and I wanted to have a discussion about it. I replied directly to divabat because she replied directly to my question. But trying to have that discussion has drawn fire for making assholish, self-serving comments, so fine, we don't need to have that discussion right now. But I would like to say that I think a few of you are ascribing a level of sarcasm or smugness to my questions that certainly was not intended.
posted by craven_morhead at 3:32 PM on December 30, 2014 [6 favorites]


I see we've moved on (kind of) but I want to reiterate that anyone who ever uses the words "censored", "censoring", or "censorship" in regard to anything that happens on a website can be safely ignored.
posted by Curious Artificer at 3:41 PM on December 30, 2014 [5 favorites]


I think there was sarcasm there

Yes. When I said, "you know that's not what happens," I meant that it's unreasonable to expect people to make a post that will withstand deletion for being "thin" to talk about whatever they want to talk about that usually is related to the post topic at hand, even if not as 100% laser focused on it as some users would prefer, especially when you will often be told that posts aren't to be made for the sake of discussion anyway, as "it's about the links, not the comments," which has not--in my opinion--been true for years. Regular commenters often say they come to MetaFilter for the discussion, rarely do they say they come for the links. To make a post on MetaFilter, you need material from elsewhere on the web. The requisite material may not even exist for whatever thing people are telling you to make a post for.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 3:42 PM on December 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


I've always considered metafilter to be a community of equals. I'm not giving up on that, and I'm not shutting up about it, either.

Equal is such a meaningless word now without context. Regardless of what mods do, someone is going to leave. What people are pointing out is that even without personal insults, there are some statements that are just there to be devil's advocate. There is no ideal that MetaFilter is stated to die for; it's all subjective curation. I'm sort of surprised at what the mods already allow, including some of my own devilish comments.
posted by halifix at 3:44 PM on December 30, 2014


The Confessor: "Moderators have a responsibility to use discretion, and to apply their penalties in a way that encourages free expression and -- this is the biggie -- maximizes participation."

I don't think the goal of moderation is to maximize participation.
posted by Mitheral at 3:46 PM on December 30, 2014 [16 favorites]


The requisite material may not even exist for whatever thing people are telling you to make a post for.

Well, I dunno about all the other posts people are telling you to make, but I can think of at least three feature-length articles in major newspapers in the last couple years about the effects of suicides on public transit drivers. So good thing that's not true in this case!
posted by PMdixon at 3:46 PM on December 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


it's easier to dismiss me as an unreasonable crank than it is to seriously examine and discuss moderation policies
That serious examination and discussion has happened so many times already in the context of your 'censorship' claim (as you are well aware) that to continue to beat the dead horse of censorship the way you do makes you sound exactly like an unreasonable crank. Which is odd, because you don't in any way sound like that on any other topic.

There's no absolute wrong or right when it comes to moderation approaches but, here more than anywhere else I've seen, those approaches are clearly driven by the expectations of the overall community. It's abundantly clear that you either don't agree with that or believe the community is wrong somehow in it's expectations. It must also be abundantly clear to you that the moderation approach is not going to change in the way you want it to. It's up to you whether you accept that and move on or continue to rage against the moderation machine, but you're obviously intelligent enough to know when you are on a path that leads nowhere. It's unlikely that anyone here is going to agree with every single moderation decision, but that's how these things go.

I've also been around since this place was a one-person show and the only change I've seen in the style of moderation is that contributions adding nothing but hatred and intolerance are more likely to disappear immediately rather than after a shitstorm here in MeTa and/or in the thread itself. I've also disagreed with plenty of deletions over the years, but I acknowledge that my preference for completely open discourse is incompatible with a community that cares about its members and their feelings. Sometimes those members are more important than any individual's right to express themselves in a specific way in a specific place.
posted by dg at 3:50 PM on December 30, 2014 [18 favorites]


Shakespeherian, I'm very sorry for your loss, and I hope you and your family find consolation and peace.
posted by FelliniBlank at 4:14 PM on December 30, 2014 [5 favorites]


I've always considered metafilter to be a community of equals.

No, I'm better than gman.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:14 PM on December 30, 2014 [13 favorites]


anyone complaining about truck driver feels should realize...

Is this patronising tone really necessary? It's framed as a thread about a specific young woman who committed suicide by stepping in front of a truck. As has been pointed out in this thread (and supporting interviews, newspaper columns, academic evidence, etc are not hard to google), in addition to the obvious tragedy, this can cause serious and lasting psychological trauma to the driver.

This resultant suffering of the guy she stepped out in front of may not be an aspect of the story that interests you, but mentioning it is hardly a derail from a post about that incident, and dismissing out of hand the "feels" that may haunt him the rest of his life and put him in a group with significantly increased risk of suicide is incredibly callous.

It is possible to be upset about more than one thing at once. Caring about him will not prevent you from caring about her, and trans women everywhere.
posted by metaBugs at 4:59 PM on December 30, 2014 [48 favorites]


I feel sad for Leelah. I feel bad for the driver, too.
posted by jonmc at 5:16 PM on December 30, 2014 [15 favorites]


A distant friend of mine recently committed suicide, because after a car accident she had been in chronic pain and it eventually got too much to bear. She left her husband and child, went to a hotel room, and ended her life.
A very good friend of mine was her best friend, and this broke her. Broke her. For months now she has been a raw wound, and so while I empathise so much with how the woman who killed herself just reached a point where she couldn't anymore, I can't help but also see the pieces that were left behind.

And the point of me writing this? Is that sharing your very real pain in a comment to make a point on this website can be just as damned manipulative as anything else, because you can't challenge an emotional story like that without being the heartless scumbag who ignored my pain. Suicide is a topic almost wholly about pain, and many, many of us have stories connected to it. I can talk about my years of suicidal ideation, or discuss how many of us thought in times of childhood misery, 'I'll be gone and then you'll be sorry!' - but that doesn't immediately override anything anyone has to say that might not agree 100% with my perspective.

I don't have a real problem with the deletion. I do have a problem with nonmods trying to firmly delineate the rules of This is what This thread is about at all times, unless in future people are going to mark their posted threads 'This is for sharing of similar stories only' or 'This can only focus on this part of the article'. Here it can be clearly shown how shame is used to try and control the conversation - if you didn't only focus on the pain of the young woman who killed herself, if you didn't only zoom out to look at how this was a trans* issue, you were silencing and marginalising and ignoring what the Only Real Topic was.

Metafilter very much is a site about community norms; there was even a recent MeTa about what are you afraid to say here, and it was mostly filled with people who were concerned about how they didn't agree with a prevailing opinion but knew there was nothing to be gained from actually expressing that. Nothing good, anyway. It doesn't necessarily become the whole 'Silenced All My Life!', though there still is the odd little explosion of discontent - it just means that gradually a lot of other voices just melt away, as they find the site holds less and less room for them. For some of those voices, the general consensus will be, "Good! We didn't want their kind anyway," - a sentiment easily found in dozens of MeTa comments this year alone. But that's not all who find their participation is suddenly worth less of their time.

I wholeheartedly support the mods. I think of MetaFilter as the valuable place it is mostly due to their work. I definitely feel like I can detect the edges of strain after the downgrade, though. And the easiest way for me to keep their workload light is to just stop coming here altogether.
posted by gadge emeritus at 5:22 PM on December 30, 2014 [31 favorites]


It really isn't that hard to pull together a good post and the barrier is a lot lower than seems to be imagined. In December 2014, 94% of the posts to the front page went through. 6% were deleted, mostly because they were better off as comments on already open posts or too sparse.

I think a good response would have been to say to MrMoonPie, hey go and get some links about the effect of suicides on drivers and bystanders and make a post then in the comments, link it back to this piece and over here you can add a neutral comment saying that discussion is taking place over there. Because the intersection of a glbt teen in an abusive home killing herself with a discussion on the ethics of suicide is too raw to have simultaneously. Maybe if it was an elderly person with a terminal disease after a long and happy life, that discussion could happen in the same conversational space, but her case has too many flashpoints already.

The only reason to push that your discussion must take place in this space is because you want the issues to ignite off each other. If you really want to discuss the effects of suicide on bystanders (which is a really interesting topic and well worth a FPP - I would be very interested to read one about the secondary trauma of being part of a community with a very high suicide rate, e.g. military, trans-women) then you would be willing to make a minimally-decent FPP about it.

If you're saying it must take place in the thread about this young girl, then you're really asking about her particular death and her life which is inextricably bound up in transgender and abusive childhood issues. This is like a loophole way to get an argument going about gender issues.
posted by viggorlijah at 5:49 PM on December 30, 2014 [14 favorites]


anyone complaining about truck driver feels should realize...

Is this patronising tone really necessary? It's framed as a thread about a specific young woman who committed suicide by stepping in front of a truck. As has been pointed out in this thread (and supporting interviews, newspaper columns, academic evidence, etc are not hard to google), in addition to the obvious tragedy, this can cause serious and lasting psychological trauma to the driver.

The people here are scaring me lately. I mean, do you really need studies to empathize with a person who through random luck ended up killing a stranger while they drove down the street? Is this level of empathy really beyond this site?


...
posted by Drinky Die at 6:01 PM on December 30, 2014 [24 favorites]


I wouldn't fret too hard over the level of empathy on this site, given the numerous and heartfelt comments made both here and in the thread in question about the suicide of a young girl, which was what the thread was about. There's ways to talk about the fallout of that, and there's ways not to. Just to keep this discussion in perspective here, however jarring and off-putting that comment is.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 6:24 PM on December 30, 2014 [4 favorites]


I think it would be great if we could look at suicide as "somebody died."

I have a box full of ephemera, including one lady's farm records. Picked apples. Planted corn. Paid $1.25 to a worker. Heard about some dust storms out West. The neighbor hung himself in his barn.

One person's death: a single diary entry in her little book.

Regardless of the method, somebody died.

I think it's so easy to say, well, they flung themselves in front of a truck! How dare they! But we don't grieve over suicide bombers, do we?

So easy to call someone evil. We are all just highbrow monkeys. Nothing more, nothing less. The whims of fate could make you that girl, or me that suicide bomber. Are they evil? What is evil? Define evil for me. And I will show you a primeval religion that views something as evil.

Should we allow evil on a sensitive discussion like this? I would say, "nope." Because it promulgates the idea of evil. And it distracts from the discussion, which is a girl killing herself over monkey-mind depictions of evil. Ironic, isn't it?
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 6:52 PM on December 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


The reason the driver's perspective feels like a derail is that transgender conversations have a history of being illicitly sidetracked for one reason or another to the point of nonprodutivity. This discussion was framed to discuss a particular issue, hopefully without typical distractions, so we could focus on a particular kind of pain that this person went through. I actually think that what the driver went through is one of the more horrible variables in this scenario and haunts me about as much as anything about this story. But it also makes a whole lot of sense that we table that discussion for now to focus on one particular aspect that is important for the sake of a productive discussion. It reminds me a bit of when two people are trying to work through difficulties in a relationship. One person says, "It really hurts me when you do this." The other person says, "Well, you do this other thing sometimes, too!" The right answer isn't to go around in circles regarding what the worse thing was; it's to say, "I want to give that attention, as it is a legitimate concern. Is it okay if we talk about this first thing first, though, before moving on to the other concern?" There are times and places for staggered discussions like that when the issues are sensitive and the stakes are high for particular facets of a larger discussion to get the attention they deserve.
posted by SpacemanStix at 7:05 PM on December 30, 2014 [35 favorites]


At our best, we can grieve for the suicide bombers too. This is a really dark place to be on this last full night of the year. Let's all take a deep breath, because we can. Ready? IN...
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:16 PM on December 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


This discussion was framed to discuss a particular issue, hopefully without typical distractions, so we could focus on a particular kind of pain that this person went through.

We can focus on more than one aspect of Leelah's suicide, though. We can do this without in any way dismissing how tragically her parents failed her by not accepting her for who she was.

The only reason to push that your discussion must take place in this space is because you want the issues to ignite off each other.

No, that's wrong, and a ridiculous contention to make. The majority of people here are not going off about anyone being evil. People in this thread and the one on the Blue are simply expressing sympathy for other people involved in a tragic situation, and that is not an issue At all. Unless you feel that only some people are worthy of that emotion. Are you so callous that you would judge people the way Leelah's parents judged her? Are cis people somehow less deserving of your compassion?

I can only feel sympathy toward this poor girl who killed herself at 17. I do not feel that sympathy only because she was trans, but because she was a desperate and hopeless girl who felt so all alone in the world she just wanted an end to her own suffering and that helpless sense of isolation is what's tragic. It is devastating, and as someone who has been suicidal I can fully empathize with her suffering. Don't tell me I can't possibly understand because I am cis. That's hurtful and exclusionary and just plain wrong.

I can also feel a kinship empathy for the man she used as the instrument of her death because that, too, is a tragic consequence of the isolation Leelah felt, for which this man holds no responsibility but yet, by reason of his unwilling participation in the act, is a consequence that will now shadow him for the rest of his life. Do not deny him your compassion because he may not be trans, either.

Which, by the way, he could be. Which does not change my reaction to any of this.

If it changes yours, it seems to me that is your issue.
posted by misha at 7:24 PM on December 30, 2014 [16 favorites]


If it were, I think you'd see a lot more people agreeing with you.

Really? I find it hard to imagine anyone too eager to jump into the chum here.

Personally I do sort of wish we were a little closer to the ideal it seems MrMoonPie imagines; some things are deleted as much for the reason that they'll cause a kerfuffle as because they're in and of themselves shitty. I think that's kinda too bad, since to me the more interesting discussions are the ones that are perhaps a little more off the beaten path. Given that there's not threaded discussion here it seems sort of unfair and sort of understandable that there'd be a desire to avoid complete derails, but it's worth commenting, I think, that the difference between a derail and a shift in focus is inherently subjective.

That pie in the sky wish aside, I understand why the moderation is the way it is and I don't really begrudge the change from the culture as it was when I came along with the other pay to play chumps. I certainly don't mind a more welcoming space for some people. I get the constraints on the mods' time. Moderation, particularly in a quick-moving and emotional thread, seems like it now has to be a decision as much about avoiding a train wreck as it is any value judgment.

I think that's too bad, sometimes. I'd like MeFi to be a place where there could be a conversation about the tragedy of the life that led this woman to this place as well as one about the way her final choice created great pain - without mistreating anyone. I get the impression MrMoonPie thinks MeFi was once that place. I'm not sure if that jibes with reality; I'd like to think so, but regardless it doesn't seem to be anymore. I'm not sure I think that's anyone's fault; Dave Sim wrote wisdom when he said "never fall in love with a bar." I can't find the text anywhere online, but the thrust of the essay was that a community keeps moving. Falling in love with the shell and expecting it to keep being that thing that was the collection of people within who are at that point in their lives - and you at yours - is certainly going to end in tears.
posted by phearlez at 7:26 PM on December 30, 2014 [7 favorites]


this thread is shameful.
posted by Corinth at 7:27 PM on December 30, 2014 [24 favorites]


I never saw the original comment, but at risk of drawing fire from the community I just want to say that on the whole I support The Confessor's sentiments as expressed in this thread. Why is it so wrong to say that suicide, especially suicide which makes unwilling killers out of innocent people, is an evil act? This is not at all the same as saying that people who commit suicide are evil, or that they are culpable for the collateral damage caused by their ending their lives.

Typically people who commit suicide are not rational actors and one cannot attach blame to them; nevertheless the act itself is evil, in that it creates suffering. (It ends suffering as well, but ending suffering by ending life cannot be considered good as that would imply that everyone should be killed. Some degree of suffering is after all a universal part of the human condition.) It is also the result of suffering, but that is a separate matter.

The blame, if any, for both the suffering caused by a suicide and the suffering which led to the suicide, attaches to the same source. Whether that source is a disease, a person (not the person who kills themselves), or a societal institution, the ultimate cause is where the blame ultimately lies. Suicide is an evil thing that is both the result of and the cause of much pain and strife in the world, and I don't see how that is particularly controversial. It might seem pedantic to draw a distinction between an evil act and an evil actor, but I think that it's really a very important distinction indeed, for this subject and for life in general. Not always an easy or intuitive distinction, but an important one.

I also find myself agreeing with The Confessor that characterizing suicide as selfish is practically a truism. Again, I am speaking of the act rather than the actor, a distinction which I think The Confessor tried to be very explicit about but which many people are failing to make. To echo another comment, suicide is an act which prioritizes the needs of the actor (i.e. the need for a release from unendurable pain) over the rights of the people around them (e.g. the right not to be made an unwilling instrument of someone else's death). This is selfish by definition.

Can we assign guilt to someone who commits suicide, on those grounds? That would be a dicey proposition at best, given the likely mindstate of a person who is in a place where ending their life seems like the best available option for escaping from unbearable suffering. It's quite understandable that someone at such an intolerable extreme of pain and despair would be thinking primarily of ending that pain; indeed, it is hard to imagine how one could think of anything else in such terrible circumstances. Nonetheless, the act itself is selfish even if the actor is not a selfish person.

Evil can exist in the world without evil people; diseases are evil, for instance. People can behave selfishly without being blamed for it; sometimes it's right to put oneself first, and even if not it is often at least understandable. My reading of The Confessor's comment here is that this was his position as well, and that in his deleted comment he was only trying to express his horror at this tragedy and at the pain that it caused, rather than trying to condemn Ms. Alcorn or minimize the suffering that drove her to kill herself. Perhaps the comment didn't read that way; I haven't seen it. That is what I think he was trying to express in this thread though, that is what I read as his intent.

Her death was an evil thing, both in the painful events that caused it and in the ripples of pain that spread outward from it, starting with the driver of the truck she stepped out in front of. She was not an evil person—nevertheless her suicide was an evil and was caused by evil. Some may think that this is splitting hairs and that I may as well be declaring Ms. Alcorn herself a bad person, but to me it is a very important moral distinction. One can have sympathy for someone who does an evil and selfish thing, and knowing the circumstances surrounding their actions, think no less of them. Nevertheless, the act itself is a tragedy, a horror, a selfish act. This, to me, is such a case.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 7:42 PM on December 30, 2014 [4 favorites]


[please, everyone, let's not turn this MetaTalk thread into a separate parallel thread about the suicide that took place and what evil means, this is a policy discussion first and foremost, not a by-proxy rehash of the existing thread]
posted by mathowie (staff) at 7:45 PM on December 30, 2014 [3 favorites]


The deletion struck me as reasonable, the hyperbolic language was needlessly inflammatory and deleting it was for the best. Walter wasn't wrong, he was an asshole.

But add me to the chorus of those who think talking about the driver is not a derail, and a reasonable thing to do. It wasn't drowning out other discussion, and the driver unfortunately played a major role in the sad ending to the story. It may not be the discussion everyone wanted to see in the thread, but you put up the post and people get to talk about it however they like within some bounds of civility, and sympathy for the driver should not be out of bounds.

I'm heartened this seems to be the attitude the mods took, deleting the needlessly inflammatory remark, but generally not pruning discussion of other sad aspects of the tragedy. The system works? And spawns horrible metatalks I couldn't be paid enough, thanks mods.
posted by pseudonick at 7:46 PM on December 30, 2014 [15 favorites]


but this place absolutely has an orthodoxy and it can be just as nasty as any other place in the enforcement of that orthodoxy

Goddamn it! While MeFi may have a bit of an orthodoxy, I guess, it is relatively new and pretty low-level. To the extent that we as a community prescribe things, we are orthopraxist. Even in the thread in question, there are comments that point out the difficulty for the truck driver, but, well, kinder. Done in a manner more fitting the community. Orthopraxic comments.

We now return to your regularly-scheduled complaining about not being allowed to call a dead woman evil. I'm going to do anyfuckingthing else.
posted by Lemurrhea at 7:49 PM on December 30, 2014 [10 favorites]


This discussion was framed to discuss a particular issue, hopefully without typical distractions, so we could focus on a particular kind of pain that this person went through.

So then what? If you shut down any conversation which isn't about that, then the thread will be one of dots and outrage and grief and... not a conversation, it's just all people expressing the same thing. Maybe you'll get someone coming in being transphobic to direct your emotions at, but I wouldn't bet on it, or at least it not being deleted as soon as it appeared.

'A tragedy happened - let's all mourn' is essentially outragefilter not because it provokes unnecessary emotions but because it demands you have only one reaction and say only one type of comment. That's not 'interesting thing to share with others', that's 'this is important and you must see it', which has been explicitly stated, time and again, not why things should be posted.

It is a tragedy. No-one thinks otherwise. But a thread of 'This sucks' is not what MetaFilter is for. At least, historically it hasn't been, and there's been absolutely no indication that there has been a change in policy.

MetaFilter is not your echo chamber. Stop trying to make it happen.
posted by gadge emeritus at 7:52 PM on December 30, 2014 [21 favorites]


Sorry, Matt. I started out trying to extend a little sympathy and support to a fellow user who I thought was becoming the unwitting receiver of a pile-on, and ended up writing a philosophical essay. It just kind of got away from me there.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 7:52 PM on December 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


The more we use this thread and the original post on the blue to talk about people that are not Leelah or other trans* women like her, the more her death was in vain. She is calling attention to trans* people, not cisgendered people, not truck drivers. You are demonstrating a profound lack of caring and understanding if fighting for your right to say shitty things that divert the conversation away from that topic is more important than Leelah and her sacrifice. Shame on you.
posted by Hermione Granger at 7:54 PM on December 30, 2014 [20 favorites]


While MeFi may have a bit of an orthodoxy, I guess, it is relatively new and pretty low-level. To the extent that we as a community prescribe things, we are orthopraxist.

No, I disagree. Orthodoxy is what I said, and orthodoxy is what I meant.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 8:09 PM on December 30, 2014 [5 favorites]


Saying that suicide is an evil and selfish act exhibits such a profound lack of empathy for someone in unbearable pain I don't even know how to deal with it.
posted by Mavri at 8:09 PM on December 30, 2014 [35 favorites]


Is this level of empathy really beyond this site?

It's an open question.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 8:21 PM on December 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


viggorlijah: I really liked the first two paragraphs of your comment, suggesting that a more productive approach to this thread would have been to suggest making an FPP with the explicit subject of the side conversation under dispute here. Your last two paragraphs kind of undermined your point a bit for me, though. I see no reason to insinuate that any attempt at conversation specific to this girl's particular life and death should be automatically taken as bad-faith attempts to derail. I think that is a point on which people of otherwise very like minds can and clearly do legitimately disagree. To your own point, this was a thread about this particular girl, not an op ed or overview thread about the issue in general. So I think saying of those who shared (non Trans*-related) painful personal stories of suicides that, "The only reason to push that your discussion must take place in this space is because you want the issues to ignite off each other," is both unfair and unproductive. Not every point of disagreement is a deliberate attempt to disrupt. Whether that is sometimes nonetheless the result is certainly worth discussion. But the auto-bad-faith assumption doesn't ring true to me. Just my opinion.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 8:22 PM on December 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


[As per mathowie's mod note to not debate the morality of suicide in this thread, I am rewriting and reposting just the portion of my deleted MeTa comment that specifically addresses the moderation of comments regarding suicide.]

Calling suicide "selfish" or "evil" is as obnoxious as any other tone-deaf or context-inappropriate complaint from the general category of "why don't these people's lives revolve around *me* and what *I* want?" when discussing those people's hardships and tragedies.

While I'm generally in favor of less moderation, deleting comments vilifying people who die from suicide as selfish seems consistent with deleting comments vilifying women for not putting out. Expressing the view that someone else personally owes you something just because you want it even if they don't want to give it is generally not well-received here1.

1: obligatory Libertarian griping about the usual exceptions to this attitude
posted by Jacqueline at 8:22 PM on December 30, 2014 [6 favorites]


You know, you maybe could have left the small text off of that entirely.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 8:30 PM on December 30, 2014 [20 favorites]


It felt too dishonest to post that statement about community norms without that caveat.
posted by Jacqueline at 8:33 PM on December 30, 2014


Honesty is often overrated.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 8:35 PM on December 30, 2014 [9 favorites]


Oops, sorry. Beg pardon.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 8:37 PM on December 30, 2014


MrMoonpie -- from that comment you linked to regarding your stance on moderation:

"I love MetaFilter. "

I don't think you do given the substance of that comment. I think you used to love it, but you now have very serious grievances with how things have changed. Which is cool. It may even be right (ie: the site may now be by some measure worse than it used to be) ... but what you're looking for there just doesn't seem realistic. Or as 23 skidoo put it ...

Your stance on moderation might not be "unreasonable" or "bullshit" for some other website, but your suggestions would turn this website into something so completely different from Metafilter's current approach that they're not really useful suggestions at all.

I mean, correct me if I'm wrong but it seems that if you had things your way, I wouldn't be a member of Metafilter (joined in Aug-08, crazy high user number).
posted by philip-random at 8:40 PM on December 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


You know, you maybe could have left the small text off of that entirely.

It felt too dishonest to post that statement about community norms without that caveat.


In the future I think I'll just use this1

1: y'all know my personal opinion on this

as a standard footnote when I need to make it clear that I am not reversing my previous positions on the issue but instead just talking about general attitudes, etc.

That seems like a good compromise between avoiding provoking a derail while still remaining honest to my duties as the loyal opposition. ;)
posted by Jacqueline at 8:47 PM on December 30, 2014 [1 favorite]


misha: "Don't tell me I can't possibly understand because I am cis."

Nobody has said this. Nobody has said anything even close to this. People have said not to make the thread that's about Leelah's death into a thread about how wrong it is to inflict suicide on others.

Stop raising strawmen.
posted by Lexica at 8:49 PM on December 30, 2014 [35 favorites]


There's lots to be ashamed of in here. Suicide and being transgender are nowhere on the list.
posted by The Hamms Bear at 8:57 PM on December 30, 2014 [5 favorites]


You can ask a question in good faith that can't be received in good faith because it has been tarnished as a cover for attacks previously. To you it might be a brand new question with no taint attached to it, but to the person who's heard it a dozen times already, mostly followed up by a painful argument or abuse, it's no longer possible to give each fresh question the same neutral consideration.

It's Raining Florence Henderson, I think MrMoonPie was either being deliberately disingenuous or which is somehow worse, doing that whole Mrs Bouquet thing where the commentor's feelings about not being heard matter more than the effect their words have on others. There's a time and a place for lively debates about suicide ethics with people poking holes in arguments and playing devil's advocate, and it's not in a thread about a young woman who died in awful circumstances where most of the posters are discussing painful emotional issues.

If one thinks they are somehow exempted from that because they're asking the question with total sweet sincerity, then they're letting their curiosity override kindness.

People sharing stories of suicide and the impact on those left behind weren't being shut down. Trying to debate the morality of the young woman's death to drown out the discussion already happening was.

I didn't comment in the original thread. I read it, and then talked with my husband about our ethics and emotions about the possibility of parenting a transgender child like her or like John Jolie-Pitt, the trans people we know as adults, and it was a thoughtful conversation where I think we figured out some more answers as cis-gendered parents. It wasn't my conversation to speak in because I don't have anything to directly contribute, but it's a conversation that I participated in by reading and thinking, and often listening is as essential as speaking. That's not censorship, not even self-censorship. It's a huge part of what makes Metafilter a good place - the reading and thinking, not just a shouting chamber.
posted by viggorlijah at 10:21 PM on December 30, 2014 [32 favorites]


Lots of us have known people close to us who have killed themselves. There's only misery in this argument here.

From one cranky, snarky bastard: I truly hope you and yours have good start to the new year.
posted by Invisible Green Time-Lapse Peloton at 10:55 PM on December 30, 2014 [7 favorites]


Yeah, I stayed out of that conversation for similar reasons. And really, I agree with your point. I think what happened in my reading of your previous comment was that it read to me as if you had moved beyond MrMoonPie and were suggesting that all of the people in the thread sharing stories of suicide and the impact on those left behind were either being deliberately disingenuous or doing that whole Mrs Bouquet thing and should have been shut down. Re-reading after your reply, I can see that wasn't what you were implying at all. Thanks very much for responding - I liked your comment so much and was having a hard time making the two parts of it match up. Apologies for the misreading. Be well.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:10 PM on December 30, 2014 [2 favorites]


Anyway, I have no idea how many other users are out there like me, who largely stay silent because they believe they are by far in the minority.

Also silent.

New user, long-term reader, quite surprised as I gradually concluded—correctly or not—that flagging is like a hobby here or something. I say this because I would not have conceived of flagging things other than spam or gratuitous insults—literal debris. If I were going to flag things, "fuck off and go to reddit" would seem as good a place to start as any. My understanding in utter seriousness is that because that statement supports the overall tenor of the thread, "fuck off and go to reddit" is an OK thing to say. I don't care if it's "not a great thing" to say—it's still here. It hurts me even though not directed at me, if Being Emotionally Affected is the criterion. Metafilter ironically becomes like the sites it wants to be better than at the moment that someone starts with the "if you don't agree with the majority, go elsewhere". This is the real thread poison. When you don't feel like you can contribute your view because someone is going to come along with that lowest of rhetoric, that which says nothing other than that your predictable view has already been considered, chewed up, spat out, and consigned to a shitty lesser site where you belong. I perceive a lot of hatred in this approach and it's common here. I guess it's commonly called snark, at least in its lesser manifestations. (We even have two snarky, unexplained comments about Scientific American readers in a Dec 30 FPP. Lots of favorites on them. So I'm some kind of idiot if I read Scientific American?) As I said, these snarks for me are the real thread poison—the highest level of non-engagement that has the virtual effect of turning up one's nose—yet are practically a feature of Metafilter, and they're overlooked as long as they're In Line with Common Sentiment.

So it is hard to go ahead and place myself in the minority here, but yes. Perhaps people who self-censor a lot have idiosyncratic perspectives on the meaning and impact of deleting "disagreeable" material. They may project what would be their own extreme disappointment or feeling of rejection at having their own contribution deleted (having finally decided to post it!—I'm more than two hours into this one now, a jumble of cuts but I gotta go) onto the person(s) who do have their comments deleted. I just can't imagine "supporting" a community that collectively endorses what I view as deletion of unpopular views, which in the cases I've seen documented, I think, are at least more of an attempt to talk about something than the countless yet content-less dismissals in the style mentioned above.
posted by sylvanshine at 1:31 AM on December 31, 2014 [15 favorites]


I feel like the mods were a little off the ball in this particular thread, but no I don't see it as a trend. They do their best to try and steer conversations in intelligent, interesting, and not hurtful for vulnerable people directions. I think that these efforts compounded over time have paid off with the site having really good discussions on tough issues.

"fuck off and go to reddit"

Is not a good comment, but I think you are making a mistake if you put too much of your understanding about what this place is on that comment.
posted by Drinky Die at 1:43 AM on December 31, 2014 [7 favorites]


I don't think of the remarks about scientific American in that quiz thread as snark. It's just the usual sneering, that's all.
posted by disclaimer at 1:46 AM on December 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: Just the Usual Sneering, That's All
posted by spitbull at 4:20 AM on December 31, 2014 [11 favorites]


If I were going to flag things, "fuck off and go to reddit" would seem as good a place to start as any. My understanding in utter seriousness is that because that statement supports the overall tenor of the thread, "fuck off and go to reddit" is an OK thing to say.

I think some missing context is that the bar for deletion is much much higher in MetaTalk, and such a comment would almost certainly be insta nuked on any other part of the site.
posted by PMdixon at 4:25 AM on December 31, 2014 [18 favorites]


The more we use this thread and the original post on the blue to talk about people that are not Leelah or other trans* women like her, the more her death was in vain

The conversation here, in MeTa, is primarily about site moderation policy, as it usually is. Discussing that in no way detracts from the important conversations happening elsewhere about Leelah and trans youth and trans experiences in general.

From what I know about the deleted comments, I support their deletion. The question is not "should people be allowed to say shitty things" (answer: definitely no), the question is "what are the limits to what is an acceptable topic in a thread."

I find it very uncharitable to ascribe a callousness regarding Leelah's death to folks who are invested in this site policy discussion.
posted by wemayfreeze at 6:19 AM on December 31, 2014 [11 favorites]


Even were this not the proper place for policy discussion irrespective of the meaning of this one FPP, that is an odd and narrow perspective on who this person was in life. What *if* we talked about other young people in crisis for other reasons? How does that render Leelah's death "in vain?"

Yes suicide risk is high for trans* youth and that is something worth giving a damn about on its own terms. But young people commit suicide for complex reasons that share some underlying factors that go beyond this specific case. If Leelah's death leads to people becoming more sensitive to the fact that non-trans* troubled kids are at risk when they have no support for their deeply felt identities, that honors the memory of Leelah too.

Intersectionality etc.
posted by spitbull at 8:27 AM on December 31, 2014 [2 favorites]


I love how I'm a terrible person because I suggested that if someone really, really, REALLY hates the moderation here and wants to be able to call other people evil for committing suicide that they should fuck off to Reddit. Apparently it's okay to call people evil, but it's not okay to be angry about that or to suggest that if they hate it here so much that they should go to the website best known for the desired lack of moderation. Clutch those pearls, everyone. Clutch them so very, very hard.
posted by palomar at 8:27 AM on December 31, 2014 [3 favorites]


Just a guess, but telling people to "fuck off" to anywhere is not ideal if one aspires to inspire a more civil discourse.
posted by spitbull at 8:31 AM on December 31, 2014 [17 favorites]


Yeah, honestly, there's just not a great way to make "fuck off" not get people's hackles up. I say that as someone who has the instinct to tell people to fuck off on a regular basis. There's just better approaches if you don't want pushback on the framing.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:34 AM on December 31, 2014 [7 favorites]


Palomar, it's not "pearl clutching" if someone is telling you that "maybe it isn't so great to tell someone to fuck off if what we all want is for things to chill out".

What it is, though, is telling you that just because you think someone's being a dick, that doesn't mean it makes sense to out-dick them.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:35 AM on December 31, 2014 [12 favorites]


Cool. I'm out. Peace.
posted by palomar at 8:37 AM on December 31, 2014


Huh.

Well then - as I'm pretty sure, palomar, that you may still peek - if you're looking for a site where you can say "fuck" with impunity, that you may want to consider....Reddit?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:42 AM on December 31, 2014 [20 favorites]


Yes suicide risk is high for trans* youth and that is something worth giving a damn about on its own terms. But young people commit suicide for complex reasons that share some underlying factors that go beyond this specific case.

I think the problem some of us have with that kind of broadening, especially when it happens 2 minutes after a thread begins, is that it has the effect of giving short shrift to the specific context. Yes, "all lives matter," "all teens matter," etc., but when a thread is focusing on the death of a person in a marginalized group that occurred because of the person's marginalized status and the abuse they experienced as a result -- and in this case, the girl wrote a lengthy manifesto calling attention to precisely that as the motivation for her suicide -- and people go to the thread and immediately shift the focus to "all teens at risk for suicide" for whatever reason, or to the impact on bystanders or those who become the unwitting means of someone else's suicide -- then many readers perceive that as perpetuating the same marginalization that Leelah and other trans teenagers (and adults) experience in life.

I'm sure that the people making those "shifting the topic" comments didn't at all intend to shove Leelah to the side or dismiss her pain and her life as less important, but this child was crying out all her life to be heard and accepted as real and valuable, and I think that's why some people didn't want the thread to instantly start being about other subjects.

That may or may not be a valid reason for deletion, but on a logistic level, if the victim-blaming comment(s) were allowed to stand, that entire thread would have instantly degenerated into 300 people screaming at those who made the provocative comments, and the whole thing would have had to be shut down within 20 minutes. Part of the mods' job is preventing threads from becoming total shrieking clusterfucks, so that alone justifies the deletion in this case.
posted by FelliniBlank at 8:49 AM on December 31, 2014 [30 favorites]


checks "New Year's Eve Flame-out" off the list
posted by tonycpsu at 8:52 AM on December 31, 2014 [12 favorites]


Crud. palomar, come back!
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:57 AM on December 31, 2014 [13 favorites]


Yeah, I've often enjoyed palomar's contributions here, and hope she's just taking a break rather than leaving for good. This thread isn't wendelling at all.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:59 AM on December 31, 2014 [4 favorites]


As far as i know, the only time I've ever been threatened with a time-out was after I told someone essentially to go fuck themselves. It's a pretty hard and fast rule here.
posted by empath at 9:01 AM on December 31, 2014 [3 favorites]


Apparently it's okay to call people evil, but it's not okay to be angry about that

This is a really bizarre take on the current thread, given that only one of these things got deleted.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 9:02 AM on December 31, 2014 [5 favorites]


I also really hope palomar comes back.
posted by stoneweaver at 9:06 AM on December 31, 2014 [4 favorites]


I'm not defending victim blaming comments, only that rendering the victim's death meaningful for future potential victims is best served by seeing her as a complex and full person even beyond her foregrounded struggle with gender oppression specifically.

I agree that one would not want to subsume the specific oppression she experienced in generalities, however. And in no way do I condone ever blaming a suicide victim.
posted by spitbull at 9:07 AM on December 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


I don't see where anyone really piled on palomar, anyway. That was one of the more overlooked "fuck offs" of the modern metafilter era until she decided to get defensive about very mild criticism for it. I guess once you cross the Fuckoff Line, you're too mad to back down even an inch.

Most of this thread is in general agreement with her actual sentiment of "deal with the culture of moderation here or maybe Metafilter isn't your kind of space," ironically. We are really just talking about using our inside voices as preferable to yelling at each other even when righteously annoyed.

We all have bad days and holidays are tough. Hope she changes her mind too.
posted by spitbull at 9:14 AM on December 31, 2014 [10 favorites]


EmpressCallipygos: " Well then - as I'm pretty sure, palomar, that you may still peek - if you're looking for a site where you can say "fuck" with impunity, that you may want to consider....Reddit?"

Why gloat to a person who's account has been disabled?
posted by boo_radley at 9:19 AM on December 31, 2014 [25 favorites]


Why gloat to a person who's account has been disabled?

I see this is your first trip to MetaTalk.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 9:21 AM on December 31, 2014 [11 favorites]


just being the change I etc
posted by boo_radley at 9:25 AM on December 31, 2014 [2 favorites]


"deal with the culture of moderation here or maybe Metafilter isn't your kind of space,"

So, what's your alternative? The policy here is that there are a few bright-line rules about explicit racism, homophobia, etc. and then the rest is up to what makes for a manageable discussion. Part of that is the "read the room" guideline. I don't like to phrase it as "go somewhere else", but I don't have any problem with saying "you have no right to bitch and moan that the site culture isn't bending to your whim."

Everyone at some point has a comment deleted that they wish hadn't been. People whose views clash more with site norms will of course have this happen more often. In the countless number of MeTas where individual deletions have been debated, nobody's put forth a credible strategy for improving this, with the possible exception of one of the mods (restless_nomad maybe?) who recently suggested that maybe the staff be more hostile toward NewsFilter type posts that draw the most GRAR. To me, that's throwing the baby out with the bathwater, but certainly nuking the contentious topics would lead to less acrimony all around.

Short of that, what's your plan, keeping in mind that your specific ideas of what comments should be okay is going to be different than those of others? If "read the room" isn't good enough (because that means the room has influence on what comments get deleted) how would you do this if it were up to you?
posted by tonycpsu at 9:28 AM on December 31, 2014


My "plan" is for individual members to "deal with it," just like I said the first time. Or complain in a civil and constructive way. Or (as I have done myself in response to my own dissatisfactions with some of the evolution of this site's culture) just moderate yourself and stay out of topics that tend to push your buttons or draw in members who annoy you. < Why do we need a plan at a community level? The plan is "take it to MetaTalk," or change your level of engagement. Short of actually having different rules for different topics or users, what's left?
posted by spitbull at 9:43 AM on December 31, 2014 [3 favorites]


We already have different rules for different users: from a dude who is habitually low on impulse control and is way beyond the benefit of the doubt for stuff like this. Lots and lots of people here are habitually low on impulse control yet everything that ever pops into their head is still given space to exist here. Certain dudes, however, have permanently lost that benefit of the doubt.

(Dude wasn't me btw.)
posted by 0 at 9:56 AM on December 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


spitbull, your statement was that "[m]ost of this thread" believes people ought to deal with the site culture or go elsewhere. I don't think that's an accurate assessment, but certainly there are some who feel that way.

The reason I'm asking for a plan is that the goals you've outlined aren't achievable by simply saying "deal with it." This "I'm being silenced" thing comes up often enough that it's kind of a site problem -- not just in MeTa, but within threads on the blue. Probably one third of my recent activity right now has someone or several someones complaining about the usual site consensus issues, and it's really toxic to discussions to have to keep dealing with those things. Opening a MeTa for every single one simply isn't scalable when it happens that often. At that point, "why don't you go somewhere with less moderation" isn't actually a bad suggestion. Phrasing it as "fuck off and go to Reddit" isn't helpful, but if your approach isn't working, and you're so enraged about it that you have to open up MeTas periodically to complain about it, maybe it's best to consider what you're getting out of the MetaFilter experience other than a chance to let your GRAR flag fly.

I wholeheartedly support your goals of individuals making better choices, I'm just genuinely curious how we can get there.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:02 AM on December 31, 2014 [3 favorites]


And yeah, the different rules for different users, or at least different rules for different user/topic combinations, is a thing that everyone knows exists. It's generally a step before an outright ban when someone's participation on certain topics simply can't exist peacefully within site guidelines. I'm glad it exists, because I would much rather have folks stick around than be banned outright.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:03 AM on December 31, 2014 [5 favorites]


If there is one area where I am uncomfortable with the direction I see Metafilter moving towards, it is that I get the sense that there are some users who would prefer the site move from what I understand its intended purpose is - a site where people post interesting things found online and users discuss them - into something more akin to a straight up advocacy site for issues a majority of users view as important (up to and including using threads as a way to coordinate charitable donation efforts for specific causes - a noble and worthwhile effort for sure, but not to my understanding the practical purpose of Metafilter).

What happened to Leelah was obviously tragic; I wish there were better resources for trans* youth, I wish she lived in a culture more accepting of trans* people generally, I wish she had been born to more understanding and empathetic parents; I wish she felt less hopeless. Please trust that as someone who has been personally effected by suicide in my immediate family, I cannot possibly sympathize with Leelah more strongly (although in fairness, perhaps my experience also makes me as interested in the stories of those left behind in the aftermath). At the same time, as a Metafilter member it is not my responsibility to insure that her death "meant something" or to make sure she didn't die in vain or to use her death as motivation to "do something" worthwhile. This is a discussion site; the only responsibility anyone has is to discuss the story presented without breaking any specific site guidelines. I didn't participate in the thread, so this is not me complaining that any specific tangent I went on got deleted, but more pointing out what appears to be special pleading where people seem to be suggesting that with this FPP, only one very specific, narrow topic is "allowed" to be discussed out of all the many issues the story brings up, when that same standard is rarely held on other FPP's.

For example, in the currently open Kim Kardashian thread, there are side conversations being had where people give career retrospectives on Charles Nelson Reilly and Charo, neither of whom were even mentioned in any of the FPP links at all, so clearly not the "main topic" of the thread, and I don't see any righteous indignation being expressed that people veered from the core topic. Not trying to be callous and compare these as equivalent since one FPP is obviously more frivolous than the other, but I think it is fair to point out that FPP's not sticking to one very specific topic that users have deemed the only worthwhile discussion point is something that happens literally every day here; it's seems weird to argue that doing so is some moral offense to normal site culture.

If your complaint about someone choosing to focus on THIS part of a topic rather than THAT part of a topic is that doing so hurts some larger cause you find important, I think it is you (general you) misunderstanding the function of Metafilter rather than a member misusing the site.
posted by The Gooch at 10:14 AM on December 31, 2014 [48 favorites]


If your complaint about someone choosing to focus on THIS part of a topic rather than THAT part of a topic is that doing so hurts some larger cause you find important, I think it is you (general you) misunderstanding the function of Metafilter rather than a member misusing the site.

and yeah, for me, this is pretty much all feature no bug ... even if it hurts every now and then.

Which doesn't mean I don't see the argument for some threads/topics requiring more moderation than others ... just as some highway bends require guardrails more than others (because there are chasms lurking).
posted by philip-random at 10:24 AM on December 31, 2014 [5 favorites]


I agree with gooch about a lot of that, actually. It's a bug not a feature for me. But lately I just try not to feel as personally invested in the site community and culture as I used to since it's changed in ways that I feel are less inclusive of my interests or politics. The site changes, and I do too. I'm an old guy and I don't hang out on tumblr either. I expect a certain obsolescence (it helps to be a college professor, you get a clear annual sense of encroaching irrelevance in real life too). I know which threads will annoy me, mostly, and I try to avoid them mostly, because there's a lot else to like about the site and the community and it can't be all things to all people all the time.

It helps to remember there's a world beyond these HTML walls.
posted by spitbull at 10:27 AM on December 31, 2014 [5 favorites]


It was Michele Martin on NPR's Tell Me More who addressed the question of the selfish aspect of suicide after her brother committed suicide.

What she said, if I remember correctly, is that while suicide is (at least in Judeo-Christian circles) seen as a selfish act, to her eyes, her brother killed himself because an absence of selfishness. He believed that he was so worthless that his death would not matter. It is an extinction of the self.

I think that what Leah faced at the hands of her parents was a systematic extinction of self. Her worth was denied in so many ways -- maybe she didn't even consider the truck driver's reaction -- maybe death by auto seemed like the only way out to her. Maybe even she wanted -- after her self had been denied so thoroughly at home -- to have one person care. I don't know.

I think that criticism of how Leah died is loaded in that it is finding an aspect of her suicide that is selfish, painful to others. I don't know why she chose that way out. But it is clear that she was desperate. The actions of desperate people are sometimes pernicious.

When somebody jumps in a thread and starts pointing out that her means of exit caused problems for other people, it seems to be a thinly-veiled critique of suicide that is based on Western cultural mores related to suicide.

And, speaking for myself, these intimations and outright proclamations of selfishness is like a finger in the eye.

So this is a painful topic for many, including me, and while it's not great to say get the fuck out of here in response to accusations of selfishness in suicide, I can 100% sympathize with the anger.
posted by angrycat at 10:38 AM on December 31, 2014 [27 favorites]


I agree with The Gooch on a general level although I don't think "this traumatized youth was actually EVVVVIILLLLL" is in any way the hill to die on. Obituary threads are always a minefield of what is appropriate and what isn't. Although I'm also a bit uncomfortable with the way it tends to shake out which is "if we like you the thread must be pure, if we don't like you we're going to dance on your grave."
posted by Justinian at 10:41 AM on December 31, 2014 [7 favorites]


to be clear:

the feature, for me, is that Metafilter does not scale well into a means for advocacy. I honestly get enough of that elsewhere.
posted by philip-random at 10:42 AM on December 31, 2014 [2 favorites]


I am doubling down on my New Year's resolution to stop reading Meta threads.
posted by benito.strauss at 10:42 AM on December 31, 2014 [4 favorites]


We already have different rules for different users

I tend to think of this as a path that every user is on and that they control their placement on it mostly through their own actions.

Certain things get you banned. Certain things get you trusted. Certain things get your comments deleted. Certain things get your comments favorited. Certain things provoke negative community or mod feedback. Most people, nearly all users, interact here with no problems at all. Literally, almost everyone. The fact that there are some users who never seem to be able to understand the (pretty lenient) guidelines here or internalize them in any meaningful way means that the ever-patient mods need to use more time and attention helping those people figure out how to get along but also have a sort of progressive set of actions that they bring to bear when the things they are trying don't work.

So, another way to put this would be that some people get a lot more mod attention in the course of them doing their jobs which is keeping the website running smoothly, which is unfair in its own way.

Obituary threads are always a minefield of what is appropriate and what isn't.

Yep, and suicide threads are worse by an order of magnitude, "complicated suicide" threads even moreso. I can't talk about suicide with the general public, so I mostly don't.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 10:42 AM on December 31, 2014 [31 favorites]


Although I'm also a bit uncomfortable with the way it tends to shake out which is "if we like you the thread must be pure, if we don't like you we're going to dance on your grave."

Well, I feel like it's more that the default is a lot of folks being uncomfortable with significant, aggressive negativity in (and especially at the start of) obit threads, but that gets anywhere between complicated and overwhelmed by ire in the exceptional cases of someone who was famous for stuff that had a pretty negative impact on a lot of other people's lives. No super clean dichotomy there between liked and didn't like; it's definitely something a little more of a product of the kind of figure it was than just whether folks in general liked 'em.

Obits are complicated things, but usually there's not actually a lot of drama because usually they're about someone who is mostly know for having done good things worth noting. It's just that the ones with drama are a lot more memorable.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:46 AM on December 31, 2014 [3 favorites]


control their placement on it mostly through their own actions.

I like this phrasing, because it explicitly leaves room for things that aren't the user's fault (their ideology, the way they've been conditioned to express themselves elsewhere through their own life experiences, etc.) that are nonetheless things that negatively impact how they come across on MeFi, and therefore how their comments are received. In the "bug/feature" parlance, this would be kind of a major bug that doesn't have any timetable for a fix, so we just have to work around it.
posted by tonycpsu at 10:49 AM on December 31, 2014 [2 favorites]


And it's still one of the best things on the web. MeFi would have to fall a long way to be not worth the effort of trying to be at least a mostly decent member of the community so you got the many benefits of participation here.

So that means you deal with the stuff you don't like as much on your own, don't make the community to blame for not perfectly reflecting your ideals and values.
posted by spitbull at 10:59 AM on December 31, 2014 [5 favorites]


MetaFilter: total shrieking clusterfucks
posted by Jacqueline at 11:04 AM on December 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


Happy New Year, mods. ;)
posted by marienbad at 11:21 AM on December 31, 2014 [6 favorites]


I can 100% sympathize with the anger.
posted by angrycat


Well you would say that, eponysterically!

There's a bit too much anger driving too many conversations here for my taste, or as Philip-random put it, I get my politics and advocacy elsewhere and prefer to get smart, witty, entertaining conversations from metafilter over getting lectured about social justice purity tests quite as much as I feel happens here around some topics. But then mefites often don't seem to get as angry - or maybe "passionate" is a better term -- about some topics I find rage-inducing (environmental issues, indigenous rights). Some of the orthodox/orthopractic positions seem sort of rigid to me too. So for example while I have been here arguing a bit for seeing Leelah Acton's suicide as not only a message about trans* oppression but also about other factors that drive other kinds of kids to suicide too, some comments above seem to think the "less narrow" topical range I'm suggesting is to accommodate the "suicide is evil amirite?" debate even though I have said otherwise and find that position revolting and disrespectful in a discussion of any suicide, a subject with which I have deep personal familiarity. So two ways of broadening that conversation are being discussed, I'm advocating for one which I feels honors the victim, and yet it's bring conflated with the other one calling her action evil or selfish (and angrycat, that makes me mad too).

But if the excuse for being uncivil is "my anger is justified," then it's a free for all and a recipe for incivility. No matter how justified one's passion, if you can't rise above the tactic of telling someone who is obviously not acting in completely bad faith or overtly bigoted ways "fuck off you're not wanted here" you aren't part of the solution by the terms of social justice activism I am familiar with.

As someone pointed out above, the view that suicide is selfish or sinful is often rooted in religion or on a personal trauma of losing someone to suicide. I know that feeling too. It's not at all the same as saying "I don't care if trans* folk kill themselves." Leaving aside this op's particular history, you have to concede that gender and sexuality -based oppression is a topic that produces polarized responses, and so does suicide, and in combination we are in tricky territory.

Doesn't mean it's anyone's job to 101 the issue or educate those less informed about either trans* issues or mental illness. But "fuck off" doesn't do much good either.

We are each different in our experiences, our inhibitions, our passions, and our ways of dealing with conflict. Moderation is so important here because it reflects that and is responsive to the diversity of this community. It's necessary, mostly effective, and better than the (cough cough reddit) alternatives.
posted by spitbull at 11:24 AM on December 31, 2014 [15 favorites]


We already have different rules for different users

This is actually true for any group of people, it is not necessarily a 'bad' thing. It just means we treat everyone slightly different based on our history, or lack of history, with them.

It's why picking your fights is so important. Somethings are worth the struggle, a lot of things are not.
posted by edgeways at 12:07 PM on December 31, 2014 [7 favorites]


On the other hand, if I didn't read these posts, I'd miss phrases like "total shrieking clusterfucks", which sounds like a type of candy I'd have eaten as a teen-ager.
posted by benito.strauss at 12:43 PM on December 31, 2014 [12 favorites]


My spellcheck changed Leelah Alcorn's last name to "Acton" above, just to note the correction.
posted by spitbull at 12:46 PM on December 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


"Everyone is suffering, and nobody is a grown-up," he said.

So, after a lifetime of Christianity, he'd reached the starting point of Buddhism.
posted by aught at 1:02 PM on December 31, 2014 [15 favorites]


... "total shrieking clusterfucks", which sounds like a type of candy I'd have eaten as a teen-ager.

Sounds like dialog out of Oglaf to me.
posted by edgeways at 1:07 PM on December 31, 2014 [2 favorites]


We already have different rules for different users

This is actually true for any group of people, it is not necessarily a 'bad' thing. It just means we treat everyone slightly different based on our history, or lack of history, with them.


Really more accurate to say we have rules that encompass and/or are enforced in more than a single thread/comment. Or if you need a parallel with law in the real world, we have some separation of enforcement and sentencing.
posted by phearlez at 1:11 PM on December 31, 2014 [2 favorites]


I get the sense that there are some users who would prefer the site move from what I understand its intended purpose is - a site where people post interesting things found online and users discuss them - into something more akin to a straight up advocacy site for issues a majority of users view as important

I'm certainly not a grizzled veteran by any account, but I've certainly always felt the site has ever been thus, to a greater or lesser degree, with varying levels of stridency (making no judgment on the 'worthiness' of those feelings on particular subjects). Indeed, I feel like the two streams articulated above are just two of many that make up the rich intellectual delta of Metafilter. And some of those streams get heavier moderation, and some get lighter; that's not "unfair" or anything; it's just reflecting the diversity.

I don't know, much like Spitbull articulates above, I just move past the things that don't personally engage me, or I know I won't respond to either positively or appropriately to site norms or in a way that will result in unproductive confllict and more work for the mods. Choosing not to respond/participate does not necessarily indicate a fault in me, other users, or the site.

Honestly, I don't find it that trying except in a tiny minority of threads or interactions with users.

I think this sense of... personal editorial is a pretty important part of a person's general satisfaction with Metafilter. I feel like members who are generally unhappy with the site, or disable their accounts, often do so from a sense of frustration, anger, sadness that the community as a whole does not confirm to their own personal vision of what it should be - ignoring the huge swathes of the community that do work as they want it to.

I understand that everyone will have their own personal Rubicon about what can and cannot be tolerated, but I feel like a recognition that no thing external to yourself will ever perfectly mirror your desires - I guess taking a more pro-active recognition and role in your own engagement, with the community, with the members, with the site, with your advocacy of what it should be - would lead to happier interactions for these people.

This approach really works for me, at any rate. Few things on the site really bother me, and when they do, I feel like I have a smorgasboard of options to pursue which range from backing off, carefully-worded comments in the thread, posting a MeTa outlining what I would prefer and why I think it's not good for the site, to talking a walk.

I don't get het up very often here, and I think it's because I feel a sense of empowerment over my interactions and interpretation of things in the community. I work to see the community I want to here - not to change it necessarily.
posted by smoke at 2:15 PM on December 31, 2014 [12 favorites]


I consider you a friend in real life, MrMoonPie, and I would like to help you either be happier here the way things are or change things in a way that everyone is happy with. But I don't know if I can think of a way to do that.

On one hand, I disagree with MrMoonPie and have directly benefitted from the modding that has made MetaFilter, I think, a friendlier place for women and other groups less well represented on the net. The MetaFilter I started at was often aggressively unfriendly to my point of view and I was told more than once to get the fuck out if I didn't like it or my skin wasn't thick enough for Internet discourse. I *like* that we don't tell people to get the fuck out anymore, mostly (though I hope palomar comes back).

On the other hand, I've read 1984 and Animal Farm back in the day, and I can understand someone's basic discomfort with the idea of people's comments disappearing in part because they express opinions that are unpopular. When I was growing up we looked at that sort of thing as the beginning of the end to free thought. Big Brother used to be the enemy, but allowing, even encouraging unpopular opinions to disappear, seems to be inviting Big Brother over for a drink. Yes, it's a privately owned website, and yes the mods are private employees and not the state, so it's not the same censorship scenario envisioned in those books that were mostly about Communist Russia. But still, I can understand somebody's basic DISCOMFORT with all of this. If an unpopular opinion disappears -- because it will rile people up, or marginalize them, or suck all the air out of a conversation -- that disappearance still seems like a failure and brings us closer to something that is bad or oppressive. I think MrMoonPie feels like we are adults who should be able to deal with opinions even if they are difficult, even if they make us angry, even if they are unpopular or even sometimes hateful. We used to do more of that here.

MrMoonPie, I think I understand at least some of your worry. I can understand wanting the site to be more free form. I do not share your longing for the old days, and I wonder whether we diverge because as a woman I DID used to have to take a lot of shit here that you didn't have to take. I don't know. I don't remember you really having to take a lot of shit here in the past, except now that you have this unpopular opinion that we should all be willing to deal with shit so that opinions don't have to disappear! As a woman I remember the shit I used to take and I can empathize with people who have to take even more shit and I can think, hell yeah, I am glad that people who have an even harder time than me of expressing themselves freely without being made to feel smaller or less than can have it even a little bit easier here because the mods will erase in general the most hateful stuff, give or take. That is where much of my comfort with our current policies comes from. I wonder if it is possible that in the old days you weren't really made to feel marginalized or lesser than in as significant a way.

I'm not sure I am really helping but I know you are a good person and I want you to like it here again, but I'm not sure there's a way for you to get there outside of empathy for others.
posted by onlyconnect at 2:34 PM on December 31, 2014 [45 favorites]


Great comment onlyconnect.
posted by spitbull at 2:43 PM on December 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


Please tell me we can close this on that high note and move upstairs to the New Year's Eve party MeTa.
posted by tonycpsu at 2:52 PM on December 31, 2014 [3 favorites]


No one is forcing you to read this thread.

Except Cthullu.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:09 PM on December 31, 2014


Harsh, bro. You're like the scrooge of New Year's.
posted by tonycpsu at 3:17 PM on December 31, 2014


Adding "Except Cthulhu" to the end of sentences is just as fun as that game we used to play in parochial school where you added "between the sheets" to the end of every title in the hymnal, and I intend to engage in it every chance I get. And nobody can stop me...
posted by The Underpants Monster at 3:19 PM on December 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm calling Neptune!
posted by clavdivs at 3:50 PM on December 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


Harsh, bro. You're like the scrooge of New Year's.

Scrooge would not be lying naked in bed, with nothing but a jar of peanut butter, waiting for his SO to return with blackberry jam and marshmallows.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:00 PM on December 31, 2014 [4 favorites]


Aaaaand thanks for my first disturbing mental image of 2015. Enjoy!
posted by billiebee at 4:14 PM on December 31, 2014 [7 favorites]


The Underpants Monster: "..."

ha, nice.
posted by boo_radley at 4:17 PM on December 31, 2014 [2 favorites]


What she said, if I remember correctly, is that while suicide is (at least in Judeo-Christian circles) seen as a selfish act, to her eyes, her brother killed himself because an absence of selfishness. He believed that he was so worthless that his death would not matter. It is an extinction of the self.

Yes, this is true. C.S. Lewis also wrote a fair amount on the danger and error of selflessness/altruism in a few of his books (Four Loves and Abolition of Man at minimum.) Because people have gotten the idea that unlimited selflessness is a virtue, they have to call bad things like suicide selfish.

Anyway, if Thatcher hanged herself people would have been ecstatic and read a lot of meaning into it, and it wouldn't have mattered a bit to the mods. It matters who died.
posted by michaelh at 4:19 PM on December 31, 2014 [3 favorites]


MrMoonPie, I think I understand at least some of your worry. I can understand wanting the site to be more free form. I do not share your longing for the old days, and I wonder whether we diverge because as a woman I DID used to have to take a lot of shit here that you didn't have to take. I don't know. I don't remember you really having to take a lot of shit here in the past, except now that you have this unpopular opinion that we should all be willing to deal with shit so that opinions don't have to disappear! As a woman I remember the shit I used to take and I can empathize with people who have to take even more shit and I can think, hell yeah, I am glad that people who have an even harder time than me of expressing themselves freely without being made to feel smaller or less than can have it even a little bit easier here because the mods will erase in general the most hateful stuff, give or take. That is where much of my comfort with our current policies comes from. I wonder if it is possible that in the old days you weren't really made to feel marginalized or lesser than in as significant a way.

I've done some editing of academic work, and it's a group effort to make a product at the end of the day that is useful. Depending on the temperament of the stated author(s) going into this process, it can be a good experience or it can be difficult. When the process goes well, authors are generally open to editorial expertise on how to prune, reword, and reorganize material for the benfit of those who will interact with the work in public discourse. I can think of a fellow editor who worked often with someone who was always very amenable to suggestions because his philosophy was that academic writing was a community effort for the public good. On the other hand, I've heard horror stories where authors are so resistent to change that it results in a subpar product, or things simply not going to press.

Obviously there is a balance here between overly aggressive editors and overly stubborn authors. You edit no more than you have to. And this perhaps provides a point of contact for the tensions that sometimes happen here. I think people find value in MetaFilter because they see it as a living document in which they have been invited to submit something for publication. For some people, silencing anything they say is taking something away from them that is theirs. However, some people find additional value in MetaFilter because it takes care in what the product looks like. In the course of receiving input from multiple sources, they care about its overall utility to those might benefit from it, either now or later. That utility has potential beyond the virtue of an as-is submission.

I view MetaFilter, on some level, as a sometimes-edited product (no more than is deemed necessary), pruned and encouraged in such a way that the end product isn't garbage, either for those participating or for those who read or reference it later. It tries to balance this carefully, I think, as it's true that freedom of participation and expression is valuable in its own right. But it also takes into account other questions of utility. Some authors are okay with this, some would rather see the publishing empire burn down than be silenced.

It's not a perfect metaphor, as discussions are different than manuscripts, and we do retain ownership of what we say in a personal way. But it's been helpful for me to think about different interests and philosophies of ownership and interaction when crafting something useful. I think what we have here is a unique way to go about moderating on the internet, not without analogs elsewhere, and I find that I'm okay with it.
posted by SpacemanStix at 4:29 PM on December 31, 2014 [6 favorites]


Hey I like that Underpants Monster.

Amazing Grace...between the sheets!
We Gather Together...between the sheets!
How Great Thou Art...between the sheets!
OK I'll stop there. Happy New Year...!
posted by mono blanco at 4:32 PM on December 31, 2014 [4 favorites]


I don't mind deletions as long as there's a short honest answer about it, which has been the case here.

It's not difficult.
posted by sgt.serenity at 5:06 PM on December 31, 2014


When I was little I looked through the hymnal to find all the song titles expressing my innermost thoughts and feelings.

This harmless amusement backfired spectacularly on the day I found 'I Can't Wait to Go Home to See My Father' and erupted into delighted giggles in the pew.
posted by winna at 5:14 PM on December 31, 2014 [3 favorites]


Aaaaand thanks for my first disturbing mental image of 2015. Enjoy!

Can't. She cut all the crust off the bread.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:03 PM on December 31, 2014 [4 favorites]


I know I'm not alone in resenting being scolded and told I'm a bad person because I'm not thinking or saying the one right thing, especially on a topic as complicated and nuanced as suicide. Being shamed for even suggesting that the topic might be suicide rather than solely trans* issues does not help that. I've been skipping threads that have a tendency to rile me in that way, though I thought this week to check in to see if they were how I remembered them. Won't be doing that again for a good long while.

Those topics I can't read are creeping, though, and I've enjoyed the site enough and gotten enough value from it that I feel the need to at least push back against the things that I think are making it worse, rather than just abandoning it piece by piece. One main thing I feel could actually be taken into account would be for the mods to consciously work against the Heckler's Veto. I often agree with their decisions, such as the deletion that sparked off this thread, but it feels like it's getting used increasingly often by some users as a cudgel to shut down conversation they don't like.

One reason the moderation works so well here, especially when compared to many other sites, is because the humans in charge mean that it can work in shades of grey, making individual judgment calls about each situation. So it's certainly much better than an algorithm that would have 'this many flags = instant deletion'. But I still feel there's tendencies that could be improved on, even when it comes to things I agree with.
posted by gadge emeritus at 6:34 PM on December 31, 2014 [8 favorites]


I like the moderation here, even though I could stand for it to be a bit lighter sometimes. I've had comments deleted and I generally don't think I'm an asshole, much less an intentional one. I confess to having been momentarily outraged a time or two. After waiting a few (or more) minutes though, usually I can either see why, or just chalk it up to a moderation type 1 error and move on.

Although I like the concept of the airing of grievances, there should maybe be a "no deletion complaint threads in MeTa" policy. It's kind of become just theater for the audience's benefit; comments do not actually get restored and no new policy ground is really ever broken. There's a contact form if you're actually confused; coming into MeTa to pretend confusion for sympathy never works.

Maybe one thread per month, a summary of deletion gripes free-for-all?
posted by ctmf at 6:58 PM on December 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


Gadge, I agree in principle with your opposition to the Heckler's Veto, however in this case - and I personally find that generally when examined more specifically - the deleted comments are deleted by virtue of by tone deaf, or genuinely offensive, as it was in this case, I feel.

I mean, from a mod perspective, what are they supposed to do? Let a shite comment stand and delete all follow-ups that plumb similar depths of shiteness? Let a thread get hijacked by something tone deaf and subsequent misunderstandings and escalations, requiring a tonne of mod resource, at least one MeTa and likely several flame outs? Is there honestly a better outcome for the community than nipping in the bud, at least one that's congruent with the resources in moderation the site has?

I do feel that some of this angst - typified by MrMoonPie's original, frankly pissy, post, is because people view moderation as an adjudication of them and their beliefs, and even self-worth - a comment on their virtue - rather than an impersonal management tool that is geared towards minimising conflict and disruption.

Shit, I've had lots of comments deleted by mods at one time or another; ain't a big deal. Doesn't mean they abhor my beliefs or are trying to stifle me. Just means I said something that would or could cause a ruckus. I'm reluctant to read anything censorious or judgmental about it - I don't feel the mods evaluate comments to be deleted in terms of moral worth, though I think it's clear many on both sides of this debate feel that they do.
posted by smoke at 7:08 PM on December 31, 2014 [15 favorites]


I think ctmf that challenge with that is evaluating whether threads like this facilitate a release of tension more than they do an increase in it. I'm sympathetic to your perspective, but I'm not sure you could make an evidence-based case for it.

Further, there is the odd mis-step, like that post about rape deleted not-so-long ago. I think these threads do serve a purpose, much as I find the routine a bit stale these days.
posted by smoke at 7:11 PM on December 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


When I wasn't sure if a comment of mine had been deleted for good reasons, I emailed and asked. I got a satisfactory reply within minutes.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:20 PM on December 31, 2014


Although I like the concept of the airing of grievances, there should maybe be a "no deletion complaint threads in MeTa" policy. It's kind of become just theater for the audience's benefit; comments do not actually get restored and no new policy ground is really ever broken.

This is not actually true. Comments and posts do occasionally get restored, though not often. One of the things I like most about the mods here is that they realize they are imperfect and are open to the idea that they might make mistakes sometimes. I've seen posts and comments get restored on several occasions.

That's not really the point of these MeTas, though; they are more about policy than about specific comments, almost always. Here too though I think there's a lot of utility in having these types of threads, difficult though they often are. MetaFilter policy evolves over time, partly in response to the expressed wishes of the userbase. Not everything is on the table, but a lot of things are and will at least be taken under advisement if there is strong enough community feeling on the issue. Also, these threads often serve as a platform by which the moderators can inform the community of their position on something that may have changed or been unclear in the past.

For instance, sometimes the mods decide to hold posts on a particular topic to a higher standard going forward, after it has shown a track record of generating a lot of fights. Or look at the "neckbeard thread" a couple of posts down, where the moderators make it clear that while they discourage demeaning language in general, the term "neckbeard" specifically doesn't rise to the level of an automatic deletion (unlike some other words). We didn't know that before, and now we do; though I'll wager that if the community had come out in force against "neckbeard," the mods might have decided to take a stronger stance against the word.

Anyway, these threads can be annoying but they definitely have utility. They're a big part of the ongoing dialogue about what kind of place we want MetaFilter to be, and they do shape policy and community expectations over time, mainly by publicly clarifying community sentiment or moderator positions, but sometimes by directly effecting policy changes. I am dead sure that the mods are not entertaining the idea of banning these types of threads (though I'm sure they sometimes wish they could, as I bet they're a headache) but I thought I might try to offer some perspective on why I think banning them would be a poor idea for the community as a whole.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 7:36 PM on December 31, 2014 [5 favorites]


smoke: the deleted comments are deleted by virtue of by tone deaf, or genuinely offensive, as it was in this case, I feel.

Yep! Totally agree. Comments are of course deleted for the right reasons all the time - as I said, I often agree with those decisions. Nearly always, in fact.
Still, just because I agree with the result doesn't mean I agree with the sentiments behind it, or expressed in support of it. I can think the comments calling suicide evil can be over the line while also thinking the comments about the moral failings of anyone who doesn't only think about the post in the one, right way are also over the line. It's a scolding, hall-monitoring approach by users whose only authority is that they're angry, and it's also incredibly toxic to discussion even when they're in support of things I agree with.
posted by gadge emeritus at 7:59 PM on December 31, 2014 [9 favorites]


We're grownups, right?


Ha ha nope. Most of us are children who have aged.
posted by futz at 8:35 PM on December 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


Ah, I think we're in furious agreement. :)
posted by smoke at 8:52 PM on December 31, 2014 [1 favorite]


When I wasn't sure if a comment of mine had been deleted for good reasons, I emailed and asked. I got a satisfactory reply within minutes.

That happened to me as well a while back, except that the good reply was within seconds, not minutes. I'm increasingly convinced that PB built Cortex a time machine as a side-project, so the latter can sometimes reply to your queries WHILE YOU ARE THINKING THEM.

This diagram shows how the mods sometimes answer queries with impossible speed.
posted by Wordshore at 4:11 AM on January 1, 2015 [5 favorites]


I don't see where anyone really piled on palomar, anyway. That was one of the more overlooked "fuck offs" of the modern metafilter era until she decided to get defensive about very mild criticism for it. I guess once you cross the Fuckoff Line, you're too mad to back down even an inch.

Whenever someone flounces off like that, it always seems to me that it has more to do with stuff that's going on for them elsewhere in their lives than it does with the stuff that's actually happening on Metafilter.


Its not censoring when you are paying $5 for the moderation. You're choosing to have moderation.

So can I have the moderation back like it was when I chose to pay the $5 for it, please?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 9:41 AM on January 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


(Note to pedants: that was a rhetorical question. I already know that the answer is no.)
posted by PeterMcDermott at 9:42 AM on January 1, 2015


So can I have the moderation back like it was when I chose to pay the $5 for it, please?

No. You didn't sign anything saying moderation would never change.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:46 AM on January 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm sorry that palomar has moved on and that some of my comments seem to have contributed to that decision. I don't really like the "flounces off" description of that choice. I've flounced off by those standards myself multiple times and the reality was I was genuinely upset and I wish people could have seen eye to eye with me on why. I hope palomar can come back and that in the future I do not do things to upset them.
posted by Drinky Die at 10:07 AM on January 1, 2015 [9 favorites]


Hi. I am a trans person, a survivor* of abuse and a survivor of suicide. This story opens a lot of my empathy valves, and the most heartbreaking part for me is that my reaction wasn't horror or shock but a numbed, sad, "Oh no, not again." I am okay with expressing compassion for the truck driver so long as that does not dominate the discussion, because my heart aches for him, too.

I am not okay with criticising Leelah, or suicide generally, because that does feel inappropriate in a thread about a young woman hurting too much to bear life. There is no "ideal" suicide, that hurts no one, and it is better to respond to events like this with broadened compassion than narrowed. (Although sympathy for the family also feels inappropriate. While I am sure they are hurting, their abuse led to their daughter's death.)

This does not seem to be an especially grey region of morality. There are a lot of upsetting comments in this huge thread, and I kind of feel like MeTas do nothing except act as an exhaust valve for frustrations on the site, so I'm skipping most of it and just adding my piece. I have nuanced views on suicide and don't appreciate framing it on either pole of a spectrum, and there is a lot of context in this case that complicates all of that even more.

* Like and they trembled before her fury, dealing with this is ongoing and I have not ever successfully fully escaped abuse or patterns of.
posted by byanyothername at 10:51 AM on January 1, 2015 [30 favorites]


Whenever someone flounces off like that, it always seems to me that it has more to do with stuff that's going on for them elsewhere in their lives than it does with the stuff that's actually happening on Metafilter.

This is literally impossible for you to know. Maybe take them at their word when they say why they're leaving. Having "flounced off" myself once before, I can attest that the reason really can have nothing to do with things going on in meat space. Give people credit for the reasons they share.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 11:42 AM on January 1, 2015 [8 favorites]


This is literally impossible for you to know.

It's true. I like to give people credit for having more going on in their lives than getting all bent out of shape over some website drama.

Largely because the alternative is way too sad for me to contemplate.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:04 PM on January 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


I don't really like the "flounces off" description of that choice.

I think you can avoid the description being apt, simply by failing to announce to the world that you're leaving -- hand on brow -- implying those who wronged you have caused your actions.

A flounce by any other name...
posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:13 PM on January 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


Palomar didn't give any reasons for leaving that I noticed. She just declared herself offended (as I pointed out above, on the basis of very mild criticism of her overt violation of a site rule, which is that you can't tell people to "fuck off" around here even if you hold the popular side of an argument and they don't ).

So Peter McDermott is right to suggest that if the cause of her, um, departure is something more than a mild calling out of a fairly nasty slam at the OP ("fuck off to reddit") that makes it more explicable. Otherwise it's a spuriously over-offended flounce with a proverbial slammed door over nothing significant.
posted by spitbull at 2:33 PM on January 1, 2015 [4 favorites]


Drinky Die has nothing to apologize for. When has "fuck off" ever been acceptable here at least since the $5 username era began? I've seen people get timed out by mods for that before.
posted by spitbull at 2:37 PM on January 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


Using "flounced off" here is a bit gross and a lot unnecessarily provocative here.
posted by ominous_paws at 3:28 PM on January 1, 2015 [14 favorites]


Flameout is the traditional appellation.
posted by Justinian at 4:12 PM on January 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


'A tragedy happened - let's all mourn' is essentially outragefilter not because it provokes unnecessary emotions but because it demands you have only one reaction and say only one type of comment.

Thanks, gadge---that's a really good way of putting it. A comment becomes coercive when it demands only one response.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 5:49 PM on January 1, 2015 [7 favorites]


What's "provocative" to one person isn't at all provocative to another. There are posts that push my buttons to the point where I'd kick the desk if I wasn't worried about breaking a toe and those posts very often just sail right on by -

then someone will get all het-up about a term like "flounced" when "fucked" is just fine. I've flounced lots of times, but usually when I was younger - now I "get huffy." Usually it's women who "flounce," right? What do men do? Let's see - maybe they "wheeled around and strode away" (I went to past tense because "stride" doesn't sound right). When they get older, though, they "get huffy" just like old women do.

I'm provoked by the person who would find the word "flounced" "provocative."

As for the effects of suicide on those left behind, which is what we started off with, I think, I just want to say - again - that suicide is NOT a selfish act in most cases. When I was seriously suicidal what I was thinking is that the people who care about me and the world in general would be so much better off without me that I was doing them a favor by disappearing from their lives. I knew they'd be shocked and upset but I figured it would only be for a short time and it wouldn't be long before they realized how much easier their life was without me to worry about and deal with. And I've known others who committed suicide and their thinking was along the same lines - people don't kill themselves just to tick off someone else - if they do, they're not rational, which means they need help.

This lovely young girl was, like most people her age, entirely obtuse to the idea that time changes things, that she would be free of her parents one day, finished with school, able to make her own choices, able to find friends among others who were fighting the same battles she was. She had only one voice and she used it to stand up for herself against the impossible odds of her parents - no kid can stand against parents because parents have the power. She was overruled, humiliated, scorned, rejected by her own family and she apparently had no person (with power) to stand with her. Those of us who have had "those" kind of childhoods, whatever the details, can comprehend her pain only as far as a number on a scale, but that's enough to take us back into that hellhole of a home like we never left. The difference, for me, other than the fact that I was just plain Jane gender-wise, is that I had my grandmother and great uncle to stand behind me. They were always there when I needed them and they stood up to my parents if it came to that, which it did a few times. If it weren't for them, I can see the despair consuming and crushing me; when I go there and then add in the tremendous emphasis on sexual identity and gender identity that Leelah had to deal with as she tried, like all teens, to find a place to fit in the world, my heart and brain are numbed with the hopelessness of it all.

All we can do is do what we can individually and in groups to intervene in the life of those who are lost and confused and try to help. Not everyone's a therapist, but most everyone has a heart and a history and what we need to build up is our courage - which is what it takes to just butt in and make change happen. It's a very long process and it only gets a teeny bit better day by day - it takes years before the changes can be measured - but still that's what we have to do.

My heart certainly goes out to the truck driver, too, and I hope there are blogs and forums and places where he and those who care about him can get the compassion he needs also, but he should have his own post here, his own column, his own place. His loss is separate from the loss of Leelah.
posted by aryma at 9:29 PM on January 1, 2015 [3 favorites]


Suicide may not be a selfish act, but the mechanism sure can fuck up innocent others in a big and damn bad way.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:51 PM on January 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


or she left because this thread is fucking embarrassing and everyone participating in it to ride their fucking anti-moderation or anti-sjw or pro-libertarian or anti-suicide or whatthefuckever hobbyhorses should be fucking ashamed. jesus christ. close this already.
posted by Corinth at 10:29 PM on January 1, 2015 [8 favorites]


I don't know what's right and what's wrong here.

I got in a lot of trouble in high school and was placed in a group therapy with a bunch of other troubled kids. I thought I was going to be a writer and was working on something during a break when this girl came up behind me and told me that what I had written was beautiful.

She was very thin and I didn't know anything about anorexia back then.

We hit it off and became platonically close. People at school were warbling about us.

One night she called and said she was going to kill herself. I kept her on the phone for hours until I thought I'd talked her down. She didn't show up at school the next day, so I called and called and called until I finally got her dad on the line after 4rth period. Her dad told me she took 150 aspirin and washed them down with Drano. Then I knew what that rattling sound had been during the phone call. She had done it while on the phone with me.

33 years later, I still can't take that sound of pills being shaken out of a bottle. It takes me right back to that.

I'm kinda on the truck driver side of this. Fuck suicide.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 11:14 PM on January 1, 2015 [5 favorites]


close this already

While it's nice of you to provide a great example of what I've been talking about, there do remain other solutions. You have more power to stop reading and close the thread for yourself rather than demanding it be closed for everybody.
posted by gadge emeritus at 11:15 PM on January 1, 2015 [10 favorites]


I'm provoked by the person who would find the word "flounced" "provocative."

Are you going to tell us why?

Also, are we again sneaking back to rehashing the derail from the original thread instead of using this meta for its stated purpose?
posted by ominous_paws at 11:42 PM on January 1, 2015 [3 favorites]


If anyone wants to continue the discussion about moderation here, we can leave it open.

This isn't supposed to be the proxy thread for fighting about suicide generally, and it's not an invitation for attacking each other. In aid of that, maybe we can drop the "flounce" thing, as well. Sometimes people go, and sometimes they come back (and I hope palomar does come back). This is not a novel thing that we need to pick to death here, and if you feel like it needs more picking, maybe a different Metatalk post about the general topic rather than an individual is the way to go.

And just to reiterate so it's very clear: this isn't a thread for discussing suicide, so please stick to talking about site policy and standards.
posted by taz (staff) at 11:43 PM on January 1, 2015 [4 favorites]


You have more power to stop reading and close the thread for yourself rather than demanding (...)

It's like ra-a-ain, on your wedding day...
posted by emmtee at 11:52 PM on January 1, 2015


The idea that MeTa threads should be restricted to site policy and standards would not survive a review of any 3 random pages of MeTa.

I don't have any dog in the fight in the original argument, but I do disagree strongly that it is somehow inappropriate to discuss in MeTa the substance of the argument that led to the MeTa post. "Take the derail to MeTa" has been a pretty basic concept around here for years and years - that's all this is, even if the topic is a sensitive one.

I also respect the mods' rights to say "we're just not going to do this now because it's a huge pain for us to stay on top of a freakout in MeTa," but that's different than saying that MeTa threads "aren't for" certain topics.
posted by Mid at 6:58 AM on January 2, 2015


Using "flounced off" here is a bit gross and a lot unnecessarily provocative here.

Why? It's a perfectly good English expression that means the equivalent of "left in a righteous huff," more or less. I am unaware of any other connotations other than suggesting a certain theatricality in an overreaction. Would you prefer "Spun on her heel and departed?" or "Invoked l'esprit d'escalier?" or "Hied yonder in feigned aggrievedness?" or "Pushed the red button?" It's English, we do semantic nuance and figurative metaphor right.
posted by spitbull at 7:12 AM on January 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


flounce
verb
1. go or move in an exaggeratedly impatient or angry manner.
noun: flounce; plural noun: flounces
1. an exaggerated action, typically intended to express one's annoyance or impatience.
posted by spitbull at 7:15 AM on January 2, 2015


I dunno Mid, the original post looks a lot like it's about perceived overmoderating rather than about suicide and its fallout per se. The comment that got MrMoonPie all het up was about suicide, but I don't see this as a derail-containment thread, despite my little treatise on the morality of suicide up above. I shouldn't really have gone there as much as I did; I mostly just wanted to express some support for The Confessor, who posted the deleted comment that people were speaking so harshly about and that seemed to me like it had at least been trying to express a fairly difficult and nuanced concept that I thought had a lot of merit behind it even if it perhaps hadn't been expressed very thoughtfully.

Anyway what I mean to say is that there are policy MeTas and then there are derail-containment MeTas, and just because a thread is one thing doesn't mean it has to be the other thing also. This seems like the former to me, and for whatever my opinion is worth I think the mods are within the bounds of reason to ask that this thread be about policy rather than about the morality of suicide or the appropriate scope of the Leelah Alcorn thread.

Especially now where MeTas have to be pre-approved by the mods, it's reasonable to think that they were signing off so to speak on one type of thread rather than another, and that for the sake of their sanity and their limited resources they will want to contain it somewhat so as to keep it productive and useful rather than just letting it turn into a shitfight about what is naturally a super emotionally-charged topic.

I'd close this up, if it were me. What more is there to discuss on the policy side of things? We've all, mods included, had a chance to tell MrMoonPie why we think he's off base, or why we agree with him in principle but think that he's waging a pointless war that only makes him look bad. Is there much more to be said on the policy front? Everyone's positions seem to be pretty clear, the mods have expressed their own official (and personal) feelings on the subject with their usual respectful explicitness (albeit more frustration than average, which is understandable) and nothing is going to change in terms of policy or community feeling that hasn't changed already. We've lost a member to collateral fallout, hopefully not forever, and now we're starting to get really judgy about dissecting her departure. We can maybe let this be now? I don't see what more good will come from here.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 7:19 AM on January 2, 2015


You know what? When you pay your $5 you accept the excellent moderation as part of the price of admission.

The mods are very good at removing inappropriate comments and are pretty tolerant in my opinion. Jessamyn has removed many of my more nasty comments and I think it's made me a better commenter. When something of mine gets removed, if I'm curious, I'll ask and I always get a civil and thoughtful response.

So if a comment got deleted, chances are it was pretty bad, and needed to be deleted.

If the moderation bugs you, take it up privately with the moderators. Coming to MeTa to accuse the mods of censoring conversation is hyperbolic and just plain wrong. I'm sure someone has been too quick to delete a comment upon occasion, but these incidents are very few and far between.

Metafilter survives because of excellent moderation. I love that things aren't ever going to get vitriolic. I can get that level of nasty everywhere else on the internet.

Metafilter is as advertised. It's a moderated site and sometimes something you say will be deleted. So, yes, we're grown ups. Grown ups accept that there are community norms.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:27 AM on January 2, 2015 [4 favorites]


Let's all take a deep breath, because we can. Ready? IN...

Bloody hell, potomac avenue, please come back so I can exhale!
posted by terrapin at 7:47 AM on January 2, 2015 [3 favorites]


If the moderation bugs you, take it up privately with the moderators.

While I don't agree with the veracity of the OP's claims here, my understanding is that Metatalk was created specifically for hashing out site related issues, including moderation. I think it is fair to state that you disagree with the OP's viewpoint, but not fair to criticize someone for using Metatalk for its intended purpose. Not to speak for the mods, but I would imagine if they believed this post to be an out of bounds use of Metatalk, the post would not have been approved.
posted by The Gooch at 7:53 AM on January 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


As this is the second Meta in a row from the same user with the same title ("We're grownups, right?"), it is, from my perspective, a bit more ax-grindy than your usual MeTa, and therefore a bit of an outlier when it comes to using the subsite for its intended purposes.
posted by maxsparber at 8:24 AM on January 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


I think it's fine to use metatalk for this. I don't like this conversation particularly much, but I also think it is fine.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 8:45 AM on January 2, 2015


=') copy-pasting dictionary definitions of words in Internet arguments =')
posted by ominous_paws at 8:50 AM on January 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


Why? It's a perfectly good English expression that means the equivalent of "left in a righteous huff," more or less. I am unaware of any other connotations other than suggesting a certain theatricality in an overreaction. Would you prefer "Spun on her heel and departed?" or "Invoked l'esprit d'escalier?" or "Hied yonder in feigned aggrievedness?" or "Pushed the red button?" It's English, we do semantic nuance and figurative metaphor right.

I think it's the ongoing psychoanalyzing of someone in uncharitable ways who is a member of our metafilter family who got upset over something. Welcome to the human condition. We don't need to pick about that person's vice while they aren't here, we don't need to go to great lengths to figure out what all of it meant or what her secret triggers might have been. Let her take some space and hopefully have a place for her here when she returns. You are taking up that space by filling it with unkind speculation about her, which simply comes off as pot-shots at this point.

People are allowed to get upset sometimes, they are allowed to leave the room to and catch their breath, and they are allowed to take time to think about how things went that lead up to that without having to worry that the room is talking about them behind their back when they leaves, as if they don't have ears. This doesn't mean that there isn't a potential grievance to work out, but the "kick you a bit while you are leaving" doesn't raise much empathy in me towards those who disagreed with her choice of words.
posted by SpacemanStix at 10:20 AM on January 2, 2015 [18 favorites]


> I'd close this up, if it were me.

Me too (and I'm glad it's not).
posted by languagehat at 11:06 AM on January 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


While I don't agree with the veracity of the OP's claims here, my understanding is that Metatalk was created specifically for hashing out site related issues, including moderation. I think it is fair to state that you disagree with the OP's viewpoint, but not fair to criticize someone for using Metatalk for its intended purpose. Not to speak for the mods, but I would imagine if they believed this post to be an out of bounds use of Metatalk, the post would not have been approved.

Except the post isn't an issue of policy or asking for a discussion as such, it's a demand to end moderation of a certain subject of an FPP. A policy issue would be phrased more politely and it would not mention a specific post on a specific FPP, but would discuss the policy as a whole.

"Don't Delete MY POST!" Isn't a policy discussion. It's petulant.

I suspect that this post stands because the mods are encouraging discourse, civil or otherwise and don't want to appear heavy-handed. Or they may feel that this is worth discussing (although it's devolved somewhat and is not representative of Meta as a whole.)

Mods don't delete posts in a vacuum. More than likely, the post is first flagged by others, and then deleted based on flags and good common sense. Be an adult and accept that not everything is appropriate in every thread.

Was the FPP posted to bring attention to a tragedy and to condole or was it posted to encourage debate? Sometimes you've got to be sensitive to the mood of an FPP. If you want to craft your own FPP to discuss YOUR views, then do that. But posting something controversial on a post that's discussing something upsetting is really shitty.

Like the NRA holding a rally after a school shooting. Sure, they have the right, but are they being civil or sensitive? No, they're making a point at the expense of others.

So the policy question isn't "stop censoring me!" The policy question is, "Is Metafilter/MetaTalk a place where we try to be civil and sensitive to those who are mourning, or do we let our snark meander into the territory of acrimony?
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:41 PM on January 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


Ruthless Bunny, I think you missed that none of the deleted comments were authored by MrMoonPie, so he *is* trying to have a policy discussion of what is appropriate for deletion, though I'd agree his post was a demand not a request and not that polite. Or, he *was* trying to have a discussion, when he was commenting in his MetaTalk thread.
posted by onlyconnect at 7:20 PM on January 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


Was the FPP posted to bring attention to a tragedy and to condole or was it posted to encourage debate? Sometimes you've got to be sensitive to the mood of an FPP.

As noted earlier, bringing "attention to a tragedy and to condole" is not what FPPs are supposed to be about. In fact, I can't put it any better than gadge's comment above.
posted by amorphatist at 7:34 PM on January 2, 2015 [4 favorites]


There's maybe a tiny number of people in this thread whose intentions I'd question, some others who I would, at worst, hope that they'd reconsider their priorities, and most of the rest are apparently good people of differing opinions discussing the issues involved earnestly -- a number of those have really good reasons to have strong reactions to various contrary opinions and what I really, really would like is that we could be empathic and generous about this.

I totally understand and agree with the argument that there's a prevailing social (and to some degree, MetaFilter) tendency to derail threads involving trans* issues and, wow, this is especially problematic and upsetting when it happens in the case of the suicide of a young transwoman. Can't almost all of us agree that there's good reasons for someone to be extremely sensitive to this and for them to react angrily about it?

And this is similarly true on both sides of the suicide issue. Speaking from my own personal perspective, and perhaps wrongly generalizing in relation to it, one thing I noticed in the comments above is that the majority of those people who are both survivors of family members who've committed suicide and have struggled with depression and suicide in themselves have complex and ambivalent thoughts and feelings about the issue people are arguing about. As someone in this group, it seems obvious to me that there's problems with vilifying people who commit suicide and that suicide very often causes long-lasting damage in the lives of those left behind and people are rightly angry about that. The push to make it either one or the other upsets me. But that's because of my own experience and issues. If I only had experience of the suicide of a family member with a lot of long-lasting collateral damage, I might well tilt strongly in the vilifying direction and with good reason. Conversely, if my only experience was dealing with the despair of chronic major depression and suicidal ideation, I'd likely tilt strongly against any sort of blaming the suicidal person -- the pain and despair that someone like that feels is unimaginable to people who haven't experienced it. I clearly have my own ideas of what's closer to being right than wrong, but my point is that surely it isn't hard to understand and be empathic about the people who have different opinions -- especially when it's so obvious why they would have a different opinion?

And this is so much more true with regard to those who are particularly sensitive to any blaming of a young transwoman who killed herself.

There's a lot of times when it seems pretty clear to me that one side is wrong in MetaTalk. And I do think that in this case, MrMoonPie is clearly wrong. But this larger debate about even discussing the collateral damage of this particular suicide in this particular thread -- I see very strong, heartfelt and well-intended arguments on all sides. I personally lean toward the result we actually see in the thread -- that some limited, careful and sensitive discussion of the collateral damage is appropriate but beyond that is not -- but I very strongly don't think that most of the people in this thread who have taken different positions are bad people or clearly wrong for having doing so. I think many of the angry judgments people have made about others here have been mistaken and even hurtful, but I also think that in almost every case it's perfectly understandable why they've reacted that way and I don't think it's unreasonable to expect that we all react to these reactions with empathy and generosity.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 10:50 PM on January 2, 2015 [18 favorites]


Trans woman. With a space. Please.
posted by Dysk at 1:49 AM on January 3, 2015 [7 favorites]


Oh, crap, I knew better than that. Thanks for the gentle correction.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 5:12 AM on January 3, 2015 [7 favorites]


I asked the main woman in my life (a stern feminist from day zero) for her opinion on this thread. I can't really argue with that.
posted by amorphatist at 9:31 PM on January 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


A comment describing the kid's actions as "evil" got half a dozen flags in the time it took me to tab away from the admin page. This isn't me making a unilateral decision, this is a community full of people...setting the boundaries on civil discussion.

Just a small note that this is a classic example of drawing a conclusion from a statistic without relevant comparison information (e.g. seeing that 99% of all serial killers drink milk and concluding milk is bad).

How many people viewed the thread and didn't flag the comment? And of those, how many would nevertheless have had a problem with it -- and how many would not have? How representative of "the community" are the flaggers, and what constitutes the relevant community -- the whole site, the readers of the thread, or what?

I'm not defending these particular comments, but these questions are relevant to making a decision about what a dozen quick flags on a comment mean.
posted by shivohum at 11:31 PM on January 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


seeing that 99% of all serial killers drink milk and concluding milk is bad

I think it would be more accurate to think of it as "while 99% of comments don't get flagged at all, a very few are flagged quite a lot, and quite rapidly, and the flag function is a purpose-built utility created expressly for members of the site to alert moderators to something they consider a problem."

But we don't automatically delete based on flags. A human moderator still makes a decision on even heavily flagged comments, and while our combo of flagging plus moderator assessment isn't going to be perfect every time, or, certainly, satisfy everyone every time, I do think it's better than no moderation, top-down moderation that doesn't factor in community participation, or – for this site – Reddit-style heavily upvoted = featured / heavily downvoted = hidden presentation.
posted by taz (staff) at 12:08 AM on January 4, 2015 [10 favorites]


I am curious how many comments have been deleted from the current Shanley Kane thread. I have had two comments deleted from there, the first one of which was, admittedly, mildly snarky, the second one...I have no idea what was wrong with it. They were both deleted extremely quickly, so the thread is obviously under active and (in my opinion too) heavy moderation, so I would be curious to know what percentage of comments have been axed.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 11:25 AM on January 5, 2015


There were at least 4 more deleted besides your two (and that's not counting deleted replies to deleted comments). Mine was deleted because I described Kane as "professionally outraged". I'm pretty sure that's her actual title.

All the while infini's string of nonsense comments remain.
posted by 0 at 11:41 AM on January 5, 2015


I am curious how many comments have been deleted from the current Shanley Kane thread

There have been a handful (I'd say around 6) because it's a potentially contentious thread and I don't want it to be a flamefest like other threads on the topic, so a few comments calling Shanley names and attacking her were removed. You made one snarky comment that was about how MetaFilter reacts to it (better for MetaTalk, not in MeFi threads), and your second comment tried to associate Shanely with someone that was famous for making fake abuse reports against themselves, which opens up a huge crazy "false flag" derail that's right out of gamergate 101, so I removed it. You are free to talk about the article being linked, but trying to tear down the author isn't helpful.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 1:08 PM on January 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


They both have (had?) a penchant for attack dog-style communications. That is a central feature of the (currently under discussion) author and a huge part of her popularity/infamy. I don't see how that's irrelevant or a derail (although I did not explicitly draw that comparison in my comment, which is my fault; that's what I know her [the compared to person] for).
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 2:25 PM on January 5, 2015


Shanley herself has now apparently joined up and entered the thread, so if you have questions for her directly, seems like you can ask her.
posted by rtha at 4:09 PM on January 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


Ah, I looked it up and there were 16 comments deleted in total. It's a fast-moving thread and I'm trying my hardest to keep it from going off the rails.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 4:16 PM on January 5, 2015


MrMoonPie: "One of us might be completely wrong, but I suspect the truth is somewhere in the middle."

It isn't. I think you've probably lost the ability to see your own behavior, because you are increasingly coming off as a person who finds in every exchange some way to bring in your hobbyhorse.

I don't know what else to tell you: I'm in the same boat as cortex as seeing you, at one point, as a reasonably, charming guy. But maybe you need to take a look at your own comment history for the past few years, at least in MetaTalk, because you've become A Guy With A Mission.

Finally, I have to tell you that a good part of my personal irritation with you is that you throw around increasingly loaded terms with increasing vehemence. Censorship is very real, and very serious, and purely and simply does not exist here as you describe it. On top of that, if you are somehow being harmed by the moderators' actions, it's extremely difficult to understand how.

Whether or not you think you're a crank, you are walking like a crank, talking like a crank, and wearing a crank's tinfoil raiment. You are indistinguishable from a crank, and, unfortunately, there are a decreasing number of members here who are able to recall you when you weren't a crank.
posted by scrump at 5:00 PM on January 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


That was helpful.
posted by 0 at 5:05 PM on January 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


so if you have questions for her directly, seems like you can ask her.

I... Did not get that impression. A drive-by insult isn't exactly participation.
posted by ctmf at 5:42 PM on January 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


Ah, I looked it up and there were 16 comments deleted in total.

Wow.
posted by misha at 5:55 PM on January 5, 2015


Well now it's 17 comments deleted.

Matt, I honestly don't understand what was wrong with my last comment?
posted by 0 at 6:23 PM on January 5, 2015


To be clearer, I was discussing the 'exposure' idea presented here. I do not feel like I was being fighty. Less fighty at least than the comment I was responding to.
posted by 0 at 6:28 PM on January 5, 2015


0, You were bringing up someone not related to the thread at all, it was a derail.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 7:03 PM on January 5, 2015


Ok, thanks for the info. So I would have been ok if I'd only asked Bentobox if the exposure thing applied to everybody, but not mentioned an example of someone I think Bentobox wouldn't apply it to? (Don't worry, I won't try my luck again in that thread... just asking for a better understanding. Sorry about the long day at the office.)
posted by 0 at 7:15 PM on January 5, 2015


It's kind of a long protracted derail, probably best to just mefi mail them instead to ask.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 7:30 PM on January 5, 2015


I'm kind of surprised shanley's comment wasn't deleted. Too many replies to it already, maybe.
posted by Justinian at 7:50 PM on January 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


I thought her comment was a neat encapsulation with the issues I had with her article, even as I agree with all her major points.

Wasn't going to say anything in thread itself, of course.
posted by gadge emeritus at 7:55 PM on January 5, 2015


I don't feel like we have to pretend every article about an important subject is of equal value, but anybody in the thread who criticizes it, even with something as relatively innocuous as "boring", is gettin' excoriated. I'm glad I didn't post in there!

Just because something is important doesn't mean we have to act like an article is interesting or well written if it isn't. In general.
posted by Justinian at 8:03 PM on January 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


Just because something is important doesn't mean we have to act like an article is interesting or well written if it isn't. In general.

Refraining from commenting on a thread where you're not especially interesting in the original link is not the same thing as pretending it is interesting.

If I find something uninteresting or poorly done, I find my time is better spent locating a thing I find to be worthwhile, rather than sticking my head in the door of the other thing to give it a raspberry.
posted by maxsparber at 8:54 PM on January 5, 2015 [8 favorites]


Eh. If somebody made a post about a movie I don't think it's a problem to post that you didn't like the movie for reasons X, Y, or Z. Similarly if someone makes a post about an essay it's fine to say you didn't like the essay for reasons X, Y, or Z. Even if its an important film or an article about an important topic.

What would be a problem would be just running in to post "this is stupid". Because, well, that's stupid.
posted by Justinian at 9:03 PM on January 5, 2015


Well, I think we agree. I guess I've just seen a lot of "this is stupid" or "this is boring" comments lately with no other content, and I can never figure out what those commenters think they are adding.
posted by maxsparber at 9:28 PM on January 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


Count me among the group of people who feel the "moderating" is getting out of control on this site.
posted by ReeMonster at 10:53 PM on January 5, 2015


i have no authority or anything and i am pretty spent, but i would just like to say that i would really appreciate it if people wanting to talk about a different thread/other concerns considered making a separate meta for that thread. i understand that it's not required, so i'm just requesting it as a courtesy, given the levity of the topic originally addressed here and what a rough week it has been.
posted by Corinth at 11:15 PM on January 5, 2015 [4 favorites]


I'm kind of surprised shanley's comment wasn't deleted. Too many replies to it already, maybe.

It was deleted. Then Kane threw a hissyfit on twitter. Then it was undeleted.
posted by 0 at 3:25 AM on January 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Since she's a member someone should make her aware that hissyfits about deleted comments belong here.
posted by billiebee at 3:31 AM on January 6, 2015 [5 favorites]


I thought it was the best comment in the thread. Not sure the post should have stayed in the first place.
posted by Drinky Die at 4:10 AM on January 6, 2015


I agree that it should probably have been reworked as a post, and that's my fault, since it was it was posted on my shift. I think the points Kane was making in the article are very pertinent and the kind of thing we should be able to discuss, but if it had been presented as a more comprehensive post looking at the issue perhaps fewer people would have focused so much on style, language, and tone rather than the topic. My fault for not asking the OP for that.
posted by taz (staff) at 4:49 AM on January 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


I think it's hindsight talking at least a bit, it was hard to see it would go that off the rails even if it did look borderline.
posted by Drinky Die at 5:06 AM on January 6, 2015


Ideally, there'd be a balance where it would be possible to talk about the presentation and the content, because how links are presented, both in the link and in the post on MF, is very relevant to the topic at hand. However, there's a line between 'discussing the presentation because it's interesting' vs. 'discussing the presentation because you're trying to dismiss the content', and people's placement of that line here is all over the spectrum.

Especially when it's stated how much you agree with the premise, there should be room to look at other aspects that you find problematic, but it's been repeatedly established now that if you have any issue with any aspect of one of these sorts of articles, you are part of the problem - specifically called a misogynist, in this last thread - and told that if you have any such issues you should just not comment. Which, sure, don't go in and threadshit, that's basic common courtesy, but there's a large difference between threadshitting and agreeing 98% but finding aspects of the post flawed, no matter how they are constantly being treated as the same thing.

Again, it's saying 'you're only allowed to talk about this one thing this one way', which an increasing number of users seem to truly believe. It's disquieting.
posted by gadge emeritus at 5:29 AM on January 6, 2015 [6 favorites]


Especially when it's stated how much you agree with the premise, there should be room to look at other aspects that you find problematic, but it's been repeatedly established now that if you have any issue with any aspect of one of these sorts of articles, you are part of the problem - specifically called a misogynist, in this last thread - and told that if you have any such issues you should just not comment. Which, sure, don't go in and threadshit, that's basic common courtesy, but there's a large difference between threadshitting and agreeing 98% but finding aspects of the post flawed, no matter how they are constantly being treated as the same thing.

Again, it's saying 'you're only allowed to talk about this one thing this one way', which an increasing number of users seem to truly believe. It's disquieting.


No one is saying you cannot criticize the content, but engaging in ad hominems ("isn't she just famous for being famous?", "professionally outraged") and dismissing the content out of hand without proposing why she's wrong are not criticisms.

Also, I think other people are allowed to criticize the criticisms of others, where criticisms of substance are made. I think that's how the back and forth goes. It's unfortunate that people will sometimes reach for attacking the commenter rather than the substance of their comment, but I don't think this is exclusive to people who defend "these sorts of articles", and I also think it's important to be able to distinguish between a comment being attacked and a user being shouted down.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 5:52 AM on January 6, 2015 [7 favorites]


Justinian: I'm kind of surprised shanley's comment wasn't deleted. Too many replies to it already, maybe.

I think it was deleted? I flagged it immediately, and a bit later saw that it wasn't there. When I looked later it was there again, unedited. Maybe the mod on duty had second thoughts about the deletion?
posted by tonycpsu at 6:36 AM on January 6, 2015


Also, I think other people are allowed to criticize the criticisms of others, where criticisms of substance are made.

Sure. I'm not saying there's not bad criticisms or that those criticisms can't then be responded to, but that's the point - they're often not responded to, rather they're treated as being as bad as the original targets of the outraged article we're commenting on, even when that's not actually true. It's another reason outragefilter sucks so much for the site, because it riles people up so they go for anything that even passingly resembles a target and start unleashing on them. This often means people who agreed with the premise of an article such as this one but had any other form of reservation or criticism gets treated as criticising the whole of the article, even when they explicitly say they're not doing that.

It's not denying anyone their anger to say that Metafilter shouldn't necessarily be a place where you can rant and rage because you feel like it. It's not silencing to say that just because you're both right and pissed off doesn't mean you should be able to tell people to fuck off or call them bigoted scum just because they only agree with you 98%, or even 95% or 90%. And again, this is one of my biggest problems - these are so often people I agree with, but it doesn't mean I think they should get a pass for misbehaviour just because we're on the same side nearly all of the time.
posted by gadge emeritus at 7:02 AM on January 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Tonycpsu, It was deleted and undeleted. It's a tough situation when someone featured in a post comes to comment here without really being familiar with the site. She felt attacked by the thread and by the deletion, and we made the decision to undelete.

(Just as a general note, this isn't going to become a thread for attacking/defending Shanley Kane.)
posted by taz (staff) at 7:03 AM on January 6, 2015


I think it was deleted? I flagged it immediately, and a bit later saw that it wasn't there. When I looked later it was there again, unedited. Maybe the mod on duty had second thoughts about the deletion?


She did not take well to the deletion.

https://twitter.com/shanley/status/552250686067339264

I guess if the thread is about her I don't blame her for wanting to make that call, would suck if it meant more work for mods but it's a weird situation all together.
posted by Drinky Die at 7:04 AM on January 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


Just as a general note, this isn't going to become a thread for attacking/defending Shanley Kane.

I was composing a reply to Aya Hirano, but will set it aside as it would have likely run afoul of this guideline. Suffice to say that I disagree that my comment about the professionally outraged was an ad hominem.
posted by 0 at 7:10 AM on January 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


this isn't going to become a thread for attacking/defending Shanley Kane

It's this idea about policing what a MeTa thread "isn't going to become" that really rubs me the wrong way. Threads in MeTa should "become" whatever it is that people generally want to hash out about how things are working on the site. If a thread becomes unproductive in the judgment of the mods then it should be closed (which happens all the time and is fine). But zapping comments in a MeTa thread because they are not what the thread "is about" is not how I understood MeTa to work.

Part of the beauty of MeTa is that it fosters all kinds of hashing out of norms and community views -- this depends on a bottoms-up-type open discussion, rather than top-down approved and policed discussion topics. I recognize that the move to approved-in-advance MeTa posts tips the balance somewhat, and that's fine, but once a thread is open I think mods should use a light touch in what a thread is "about." Or -- if the discussion is done and no longer helpful, the mods can close the thread -- which has the virtue of equally affecting everyone (i.e., everyone has to shut up).
posted by Mid at 7:21 AM on January 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Also, MetaFilter: community of crybaby fucking nerds.
posted by Mid at 7:27 AM on January 6, 2015 [6 favorites]


I recognize that the move to approved-in-advance MeTa posts tips the balance somewhat, and that's fine, but once a thread is open I think mods should use a light touch in what a thread is "about."

But "hey, don't get into x in here" is not some new thing; we have done that for years and years, and to the extent that it's something we started doing more than never years ago it was because metatalks descending into rehashes and duplications of arguments elsewhere wasn't actually serving the site or community very well. Both "if you need to talk about that, start a new thread for it" and "look, just don't start that over in here" are old, common, standby mod nudging moves in Metatalk, as much as people sometime seem to want to ignore them.

One of the not-great emergent features of Metatalk as an otherwise useful and important part of this place is the mythology that "well, if I can't be a jerk about x there, I can be a jerk about it here!" as some sort of fundamental true property of Metatalk rather than just an excuse people ended up using a lot because they were allowed to get away with it sometimes.

If a thread becomes unproductive in the judgment of the mods then it should be closed (which happens all the time and is fine).

Except it doesn't happen super often, certainly not in a "I'm just gonna shut this thing down right now without discussion" capacity, and when it does happen it's hardly frictionless. (Someone who is sufficiently bored could go count up the number of metatalks over the years complaining about the fact of another metatalk thread's closure.) We have a fairly limited toolset in here, and I think it's unrealistic (if possibly in a sort of optimistic, "this place can accomplish useful things if we just let it" vein that I can sympathize with a lot) to treat the idea of mods trying to encourage people not to get into a rehash or major topic swerve as one of those few tools that should be thrown out.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:31 AM on January 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


So you work pretty hard to keep the thread about her on-topic and respectful, and she goes to Twitter to call your site a "community of crybaby fucking nerds". Perfect.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 7:38 AM on January 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


Well, we work here; we don't work for anybody's twitter presence. I can simultaneously be annoyed at how someone reacts to shit offsite and think it's important that we try and be decent about how we (as mods, as a community in toto) handle shit on. If "see, they were a jerk about us on twitter!" ever becomes a guiding light in the tenor and substance of Metafilter conversation we're pretty fucked.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:40 AM on January 6, 2015 [14 favorites]


Sometimes it's easy to see how awesome it is not to be someone else. That's what this situation illustrates for me. Anyway, I don't think the deletion of her comment was patronizing. I am a pretty big crybaby nerd, tho
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 9:52 AM on January 6, 2015


This thread is sort of a stealth thread and no longer really about what it started as. Seems to be totally unrelated to the original topic. If there is a Shanely thread needed, then maybe someone should make one?
posted by cjorgensen at 11:04 AM on January 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


I do think an additional challenge from a thread like that, in addition being something people are really invested in is that when you have a quite divisive figure like Kane, whose method of rhetoric is... incendiary to say the least, it's quite easy if not natural to let that style creep into your own comments and responses n thread.

There's not necessarily anything wrong with that style, but it's a long, long way from site norms - and I personally think that's a good thing for users and mod alike.

In addition, I think it's easy to conflate rejection of that style, or Shanley's quite strong persona, with rejection of her message or misogyny or what have you. I think this is especially easy when some people no doubt do reject the message.

I don't know, I think the post could have been better, I think many people on both sides of the fence could have and should have controlled themselves better in-thread, and I am a bit disappointed the mods have a different standard for a "celebrity" mefite when anyone else dropping that comment would have had it blasted into the Kuiper belt - and rightfully so.

It contributed nothing to the thread, and only served to exacerbate tensions already present. I don't really give a shit about Kane's status as iconoclast etc; her angry refusals to give a shit about any mefites seemed kind of hypocritical to me - her "Fuck you's" seem to be a-okay; no one approached her level of vitriol in thread, yet that was evidence of nerd cry-baby bullshit. Deleting comments is not "WRONG" here, Kane, and if you want to participate, get with the program.
posted by smoke at 1:04 PM on January 6, 2015 [5 favorites]


and I am a bit disappointed the mods have a different standard for a "celebrity" mefite when anyone else dropping that comment would have had it blasted into the Kuiper belt - and rightfully so

I want to be clear: it's not so much "a celebrity" as it is "the subject of the post" that is the whammy factor there. Being famous or well-known or whatever is not itself a ticket to rocky behavior on the site. Showing up because the site is talking about you, whoever you are, is the specific situation and it's one where our default is to at least try and be accommodating even if it's a little bumpy.

That said, it's still a sucky no-win situation here; deleting it is conspicuous because it's the person in question showing up, but leaving it up is conspicuous because it's a fight-starter of a comment and not really meaningful engagement. People seemed to be unhappy with Matt for either decision, which isn't really unfamiliar territory in modland but makes it hard to approach these things sometimes in the moment because balancing the notional utility of a decision against the inevitable backlash against it is stressful and non-trivial.

her "Fuck you's" seem to be a-okay

None of her fuck yous were posted on Metafilter; there's one comment, total, and there's not much to it. I don't think it was a good way for her to engage and I am not sure why she bothered, but that's the whole of it as far as the stuff-that-has-actually-happened-here goes; beyond that it's just drama off-site.

And that's sort of the crux of why it's not great to make this thread into another place to complain that offsite behavior, however much you may be reasonably bothered by it. If she shows signs of actually intending to participate here more and does a bad job of it, fine, we can talk about user behavior then, but on the whole it seems a lot more likely that she isn't going to and so leaving it at "that comment sucked" and letting it be seems like the pragmatic approach.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:17 PM on January 6, 2015 [6 favorites]


Metafilter: that comment sucked.
posted by Justinian at 1:24 PM on January 6, 2015 [4 favorites]


Replacing the comment because she complained was a bad call. If she was so worried about the content of the comment going unsaid, repost it on Twitter or tell her to do the same.

Thing is there WAS no content, it was flame bait. If you left it up, the thread would likely be more contentious because of it, and Kane would take to Twitter complaining about people being mean to her. When you took it down, that became the reason for Kane to be outraged and go to Twitter to complain.

Hell, if she doesn't want the whiny nerd crybabies talking about her, I would rather that you take the thread down than give in to that nasty emotional blackmail.

Seriously, that is a really bad precedent. We didn't cave to Scott Adams when he complained, or the Givewell guy.
posted by misha at 2:06 PM on January 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Fair enough cortex, I do agree it's a very unenviable position for the mods.
posted by smoke at 2:13 PM on January 6, 2015


Seriously, that is a really bad precedent. We didn't cave to Scott Adams when he complained, or the Givewell guy.

Good lord, deciding to go the other way with a coinflip decision because the reversal is reasonably consistent with how we generally try to be accommodating to subjects of posts isn't "caving" and it's ridiculous to read that much into this. Deleting it sucks; having it up sucks; it's a sucky dilemma regarding what seems like a one-off comment from someone who was grumpy about a mefi thread that was probably zero fun to be the subject of and made the unusual decision to buy an account just to be briefly grumpy on the site.

Events-as-necessarily-precedents are for appellate courts and beep boop robot moderators incapable of acting without codification. We are capable of looking at a situation, saying "this sucks", working our way to a decision (sometimes this is bumpy, usually not so much), and then tackling the next sorta-kinda-similar thing however seems appropriate at the time without being married to whatever happened last time.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:16 PM on January 6, 2015 [17 favorites]


Both "if you need to talk about that, start a new thread for it" and "look, just don't start that over in here" are old, common, standby mod nudging moves in Metatalk, as much as people sometime seem to want to ignore them.

That's fair. I think what is setting me off is the difference in tone between your two mock quotes above and the tone that is coming through with comments more along the lines of "this thread isn't going to be about X," which is more like a decree than a cajole.
posted by Mid at 2:29 PM on January 6, 2015


Cajoling is nice work when we can get it but it doesn't always work out that way and sometimes we find ourselves in Decree Mode instead. I hear you that it bugs you; I don't think there's much to do for that, though, because we can't reasonably decide to just never tell people to cut it out in here. We've been doing it for a long time; we try not to do it a ton, but it's part of what we do.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:41 PM on January 6, 2015


It's dial setting, not never. I'm cajoling the dial.
posted by Mid at 2:57 PM on January 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


Heh, fair enough.
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:00 PM on January 6, 2015


I can simultaneously be annoyed at how someone reacts to shit offsite and think it's important that we try and be decent about how we (as mods, as a community in toto) handle shit on.

Yeah, I'm actually glad the comment was undeleted. I can see why Matt did what he did, but I think it's good to let the post subject's words stand for themselves.

As far as this thread going far afield, cjorgensen, I chose this one to post in because it was originally about deleted comments, and deleted comments were what I wanted to talk about.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 5:03 PM on January 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Just to sum some things up (sorry to derail this further), but I was working that thread for 16hrs yesterday, and there were a lot of deletions in order to keep it from being about people dumping on shanley. She showed up, it got flagged to high heaven instantly because it kind of read like her sticking middle fingers up at everyone, and I made the painful on the fly decision to delete it because it seemed like it was going to invite everyone to gang up against her. She used that to flip out on me, I showed it to a friend who said I over-reacted, and then I reinstated it after she said "fuck you" about a dozen times to me and started accusing me of being a silicon valley man trying to shut her down. The whole day I was trying to keep people from flipping out on her and having that turned against me led me to reinstate it (as the subject of the thread, she does get a little extra leeway to speak, as we do with any subjects of threads). I also gave her a refund since we do that frequently with subjects of post and she accused me of both censorship and giving her money back to get her to go away (which wasn't my intention at all either).

Once it was back up, she and her followers spun it as classic bully men behavior, trying to silence women, and when I tried to explain it was that trying to protect her from jerks all day the response was that I was not letting her speak. Then both her supporters and detractors started tweeting at me like crazy, and man, she really attracts a lot of heat, people were calling me names or calling her names all night. It was a bit of a nightmare.

A few hours later, she moved on to something else, but then today just said we disappointed her and she's blocking everyone from Twitter so I don't know what's the ultimate lesson here. Probably should have been a better post going into it, might have to clamp down more on "outrage filter" like we used to do back in the day, where bombastic op-eds and tragic news was deleted more often because it produced people yelling at each other in comments all day.

Anyway, the situation sucked on all sides and I'm pretty miserable as a result.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 5:30 PM on January 6, 2015 [47 favorites]


It was a no win situation for you Matt, don't feel too bad.
posted by Drinky Die at 5:37 PM on January 6, 2015 [12 favorites]


I support clamping down on outragefilter.
posted by disclaimer at 5:37 PM on January 6, 2015 [8 favorites]


I nth clamping down on outragefilter. This was a garbage post about a divisive asshat, and inevitably lead to the usual bullying and asshattery as soon as the first person dissented from the collective outrage the post was intended to provoke.
posted by amorphatist at 5:45 PM on January 6, 2015 [4 favorites]


In your shoes, Matt, I'd have seriously considered deleting the whole thread, and then not allowing a metatalk thread about it at all.

Ain't nobody got time for that.

And my opinion of Ms. Kane has diminished considerably.
posted by disclaimer at 5:47 PM on January 6, 2015 [6 favorites]


Probably should have been a better post going into it, might have to clamp down more on "outrage filter" like we used to do back in the day

Totally support this.

I showed it to a friend who said I over-reacted

That reads sort of weird. Shouldn't you be talking to the other mods who understand the site culture and the moderation process? I would have deleted her comment and let her whine on twitter as much as she wanted because that's the way things like that are usually handled (talked-about people who show up to be dicks in threads get shut down), but I don't think that would have been a better plan, just a tactically different one. There was no easy solution and no right answer once she arrived on the scene. You care a lot about what people think which is your big strength and big weakness in bad situations like this.

MeFi's been really lucky in that a lot of the "OMG Internet Outrage!" posts don't usually attract the people who they're about, but it's almost surprising this sort of shit doesn't happen more often. I think it's okay to disappoint someone who was looking for MOARDRAMAZ, honestly.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 5:49 PM on January 6, 2015 [23 favorites]


the first person dissented from the collective outrage the post was intended to provoke

You mean the first "jerk".
posted by 0 at 5:50 PM on January 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Stop that shit. ^
posted by Invisible Green Time-Lapse Peloton at 5:54 PM on January 6, 2015 [12 favorites]


Eh, let's not pretend that all the brave souls who stood up to the "collective outrage" were behaving like angels here.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 5:55 PM on January 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


That reads sort of weird.

No one else was online at the time.

I would have deleted her comment and let her whine on twitter as much as she wanted because that's the way things like that are usually handled

Yeah, I considered this too, but when she flipped it back on my face as me being a dude shutting down a woman, it really stung. All day I was trying to keep people talking about her message and not her tone (tone arguments, classic reason to discount what a woman is saying, etc) and then she was accusing me of being a terrible dude silencing women and so I put it back. On the positive side, I think it was so nuts of a comment to everyone that no one actually bit or made a big deal about it, but they might have seen her on Twitter talking about it already, dunno.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 5:57 PM on January 6, 2015 [7 favorites]


Like Soylent Green, MetaFilter is people. Potluck. And sometimes, no matter how careful we all are, something leaves a bad taste in the mouth. It's okay if we occasionally get caught spitting casserole into our napkins. But when we do, I think we'd be better served by not taking another bite of that particular casserole. Plenty of other recipes to explore.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 6:18 PM on January 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


Eh, let's not pretend that all the brave souls who stood up to the "collective outrage" were behaving like angels here.

I'm sure it's possible some of those brave souls felt a little schadenfreude when yet another outrage grenade blew up in the faces of our resident SJW brigade when Kane showed herself to be an entitled little shit by attacking Matt. Fine by me.

Yeah, I considered this too, but when she flipped it back on my face as me being a dude shutting down a woman, it really stung.

Would you have backed down if Scott Aaaronson had dropped in to shit on our community, and then threw an online hissy fit if you deleted his comment? I doubt it.

Would you say you were bullied into this decision for fear of being called a misogynist? Did you think you could stay in the good graces of the SJW purists? If so, it should be starting to be obvious to you that there's no winning with these nasty belligerents.
posted by amorphatist at 6:21 PM on January 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


Like Soylent Green, MetaFilter is people. Potluck. And sometimes, no matter how careful we all are, something leaves a bad taste in the mouth. It's okay if we occasionally get caught spitting casserole into our napkins. But when we do, I think we'd be better served by not taking another bite of that particular casserole. Plenty of other recipes to explore.

Not least of all to keep Charlton Heston from barging into yet another thread yelling at us in a panic.

resident SJW brigade ... SJW purists

I think "SJW" has already replaced "PC Nazis" as my cue to disregard whatever opinion is wrapped around it.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 6:24 PM on January 6, 2015 [25 favorites]


People mean different things by SJW depending on where they learned the term from - there's at least one MeTa where posters explain the difference of learning it as a self-criticism from LiveJournal vs. getting it more recently when gamergaters have taken it as a mantra. To me, it alone is not a sign of a worthless opinion, but many worthless opinions do feature the acronym. Fortunately, for some not-great meaning of fortunately, people who are using it in horrible ways never restrict themselves to just throwing around SJW but also lots of other buzzwords that indicate their perspective, so I can usually separate out the different connotations people have when they use it.

I thought leaving Shanley Kane's comment in was fine; like Scott Adams' sockpuppetry it's bad posting behaviour, but by the subject of a post, and in that way it's good background material for anyone who wants a better sense of how to take the words of the person under discussion. Special circumstances can lead to odd decisions, but that's exactly what we benefit from having actual people doing the modding here. I hope Matt doesn't worry overly about the decision, because it was designed for him to be damned either way.
posted by gadge emeritus at 6:45 PM on January 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


If this sprain from the eye rolling doesn't heal up I'm sending you the bill, amorphatist.
posted by phearlez at 6:55 PM on January 6, 2015 [9 favorites]


Would you have backed down if Scott Aaaronson had dropped in to shit on our community, and then threw an online hissy fit if you deleted his comment? I doubt it.

It would not have been literally a man in control with power deleting a woman's comment of protest, so no the equivalence doesn't apply at all.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 6:57 PM on January 6, 2015 [12 favorites]


yeah let's totally turn a whiny meta about discussing a trans girl's suicide into another anti-SJW froth-off

way to fucking go, mefi
posted by Corinth at 7:01 PM on January 6, 2015 [8 favorites]


It was one person.
posted by Invisible Green Time-Lapse Peloton at 7:03 PM on January 6, 2015 [4 favorites]


I think leaving it was better. As a "this is how Shanley Kane behaves" demo. No word twisting or commentary needed. Good reason for it? Bad reason? Does it matter?

I knew nothing of her before this. Now I know this. I'm so far not impressed.
posted by ctmf at 7:05 PM on January 6, 2015 [8 favorites]


It would not have been literally a man in control with power deleting a woman's comment of protest, so no the equivalence doesn't apply at all.

Whether a comment stands or not varies depending upon the gender of the commenter and mod now?
posted by amorphatist at 7:06 PM on January 6, 2015


Nope, I was being accused of very specific behavior where genders were important, which wouldn't be the case if they matched up. I'm done talking about this silly derail now.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 7:09 PM on January 6, 2015 [16 favorites]


If this sprain from the eye rolling doesn't heal up I'm sending you the bill, amorphatist.

phearlez, eye-rolling is a dangerous activity best left to the experts, and though I know better than to assume, you don't present as a teenage girl. Might I suggest facedesking?
posted by amorphatist at 7:24 PM on January 6, 2015


when Kane showed herself to be an entitled little shit

Oh no, someone was an asshole on the internet, which means OBVIOUSLY that any other points they had to make must be wrong. Good to know, thanks for the report from the front.
posted by rtha at 7:28 PM on January 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


I ... don't see where he said that.
posted by gadge emeritus at 7:32 PM on January 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm sure it's possible some of those brave souls felt a little schadenfreude when yet another outrage grenade blew up in the faces of our resident SJW brigade when Kane showed herself to be an entitled little shit by attacking Matt. Fine by me....

posted by amorphatist at 6:21 PM on January 6

posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 7:37 PM on January 6, 2015


Or do you mean the follow-up point?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 7:38 PM on January 6, 2015


That is so horrible, mathowie, and I'm sorry you had to go through it, but it does have a faintly comical aspect.

If she has trouble grasping that you were trying to protect her, she could review what happened to Scott Adams and Mr. Derry when they posted in threads about themselves -- but she has her narrative, and I'm sure she'll be sticking to it.
posted by jamjam at 7:47 PM on January 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Hey, Matt, I'm sorry for my part in the derail. I didn't realize what a nightmare it was for you, and I feel bad about criticizing your decision when you were between a rock and a hard place.

Going forward, the way to not feel like a man oppressing a woman is to treat the women the same as you would everyone else. We don't need special treatment. Maybe you didn't need to try so hard to protect Kane from the criticism in the thread in the first place. She can obviously take care of herself just fine.
posted by misha at 7:51 PM on January 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


It's amazing how gamer-gaters leaving harassing messages and death threats <were just lone wolves, not reflective of the movement, but Kane's shitty behavior stands as an indictment of feminism.
posted by empath at 7:53 PM on January 6, 2015 [15 favorites]


Or her single comment in a MeFi thread is a "demo" of her entire body of work.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 8:02 PM on January 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


No, it's not an indictment of feminism, jesus christ. It reflects poorly on her personally. Sorry if first impressions matter.
posted by ctmf at 8:05 PM on January 6, 2015 [5 favorites]


Oh no, someone was an asshole on the internet, which means OBVIOUSLY that any other points they had to make must be wrong.

I think that the points are very good and need to be heard, and I wouldn't dismiss them for fallacious reasons. However, at some reasonable point, I will dismiss embodied approaches by individuals that allow for impossible conversations about those important issue. Not everyone needs to be a prophet to be listened to or referenced. On some level, an audience is garnered through strength of character as well as propositional content, and I don't think we need to feel apologetic about that. There are plenty of other voices I'm compelled to get behind on exactly the same issues.
posted by SpacemanStix at 8:08 PM on January 6, 2015 [10 favorites]


Oh no, someone was an asshole on the internet, which means OBVIOUSLY that any other points they had to make must be wrong.

It's amazing how gamer-gaters leaving harassing messages and death threats were just lone wolves, not reflective of the movement, but Kane's shitty behavior stands as an indictment of feminism.


I know you two lads wish you could be having this argument with somebody here, but I don't think you're fooling anybody.
posted by amorphatist at 8:16 PM on January 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


This is the hugging part, guys. Knock it off.
posted by Mid at 8:40 PM on January 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


who's Shanley Kane?
posted by philip-random at 9:09 PM on January 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


Lads?
posted by rtha at 9:28 PM on January 6, 2015 [9 favorites]


Or do you mean the follow-up point?

amorphatist has plenty of time to disappoint me by actually claiming that Shanley Kane's approach on MetaFilter means everything she says about sexism in tech is incorrect. He's not exactly expressing himself delicately; if he believes it, I don't doubt he'll actually say it.

So far he hasn't, though.
posted by gadge emeritus at 9:45 PM on January 6, 2015


I think Kane's article is excellent, by the way -- original, well-argued, vividly written and convincing -- but I also think she misread mathowie's motives in this instance, and I see a tendency toward that kind of misapprehension as an almost inescapable consequence of the kind of harassment and abuse she has been subjected to.
posted by jamjam at 10:15 PM on January 6, 2015 [11 favorites]


I know that it was a tough spot to be put in and a tough call but I think the comment, given current moderation policies, would have been better off remaining deleted. When you give a bully what they want they don't say thank you, they just hit you harder and tell you you deserve it.

But then as I used to say on RASFW: if Jesus Christ himself showed up to announce his imminent second coming but did it by top-posting we'd have run him out on the rails. Luckily that never happened. It did happen to Damon Knight though, which was pretty close to JC levels in the SF community.
posted by Justinian at 10:32 PM on January 6, 2015


FWIW my opinion of Ms. Kane didn't diminish until she took to twitter with her outrage, completely missing Matt's point along the way. I think she's doing good work.

Regardless of your axis/gender, how you approach things does matter.
posted by disclaimer at 11:15 PM on January 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


There is a point people reach when they've been on the receiving end of a lot of emotional responses, threats, and deceptive behavior where becoming defensive right out of the gate is the most powerful drive, out of a sense of self-preservation.

Matt, I give you tons of points for trying to remain balanced in a no-win situation.

And for the record - Social Justice Elementalist, here. Please use the SJW/SJE combination in future rants about me and others like me! ;) I think there might be a few Social Justice Rangers and Mages around as well; the Social Justice Rogues are the hardest to spot.
posted by Deoridhe at 2:54 AM on January 7, 2015 [13 favorites]


It's hard for me not to feel a little bit like her behavior undercuts the article a little bit. She asks me to believe she is being attacked online because she is visible online and a woman in tech. However, when her response to polite to a fault Matt is a days long profanity and personal attack laced Twitter meltdown (which appears ongoing still) I'm seeing that possibly her issue is that she is a visible woman in tech who is also an abusively rude person who actively seeks out these conflicts. I kind of feel like she is one of those folks who notices that if they are on the right side of an issue (And she obviously is on the right side when it comes to the scourge of online harassment) that means that treating others with intense disrespect in response is somehow righteous and heroic. It's not. Being rude is just being rude, everybody who does it thinks the other person deserves it or that their feelings do not even deserve consideration.

Maybe I'm wrong and she has just been beaten down by the harassment over the years like you say. That is 100% plausible, just not my initial read here. I do find it understandable, but it's worth trying to fight against that impulse because it's led to really misunderstanding what Matt was trying to do and how willing he was to listen and act on a more polite response that didn't tell him to literally fuck himself.
posted by Drinky Die at 3:54 AM on January 7, 2015 [14 favorites]


(Also folks, can I advise you to stop tweeting at her? It's just adding fuel to her fire and she's just blocking anybody who does.)
posted by Drinky Die at 3:56 AM on January 7, 2015


People complain that the Social Justice Druids are overpowered, but I think that's been fixed in more recent releases.
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:57 AM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Antisocial Injustice Druids, on the other hand ...
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 5:28 AM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


Lads?

"Lads" ~= "guys" for you yanks. Historically a bunch of young men, but now used by the yute to mean a bunch of peeps, including women, druids, rogues and muppets. E.g. "I'm meeting up with the lads now to go on the lash".

FWIW my opinion of Ms. Kane didn't diminish until she took to twitter with her outrage, completely missing Matt's point along the way.

Hmmmn, only when she loses her shit at *our community* does your opinion of her diminish? She didn't magically turn into an asshat when the FPP was posted.

However, when her response to polite to a fault Matt is a days long profanity and personal attack laced Twitter meltdown (which appears ongoing still) I'm seeing that possibly her issue is that she is a visible woman in tech who is also an abusively rude person who actively seeks out these conflicts.

Yep, she's an abusive person. It seems almost a truism to say that you can put her behavior down to her experiences, but we don't let other bullies/asshats/abusers off the hook, at some point adult behavior is a requirement.

amorphatist has plenty of time to disappoint me by actually claiming that Shanley Kane's approach on MetaFilter means everything she says about sexism in tech is incorrect. He's not exactly expressing himself delicately; if he believes it, I don't doubt he'll actually say it.

Thanks gadge. It'd be nice if the few people here trying to put straw in my mouth would at least throw a little sprinkling of nuance into the mix. Unfortunately for her body of work, Kane will now be known around here mostly for this incident. There are bad actors in every movement; she is one; and I think she's a net negative for progress.
posted by amorphatist at 6:29 AM on January 7, 2015


She didn't magically turn into an asshat when the FPP was posted.

Nah, she waited until her comment was deleted.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:31 AM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


If I can speak for myself, Kane will to me still be known for her body of work; not the single comment inthread and subsequent Twitter fit that erupted around it.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 6:37 AM on January 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


She didn't magically turn into an asshat when the FPP was posted.

Nah, she waited until her comment was deleted.


To be fair, getting a comment deleted can invoke the inner asshulk in the best of us.
posted by amorphatist at 6:41 AM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


(I need to clarify, I don't think there is anything wrong with being rude or disrespectful towards people who are being rude or harassing to you if that is how you want to handle it and your are on a venue like Twitter where that is allowed. I don't think she is at all restricting herself to that though.)
posted by Drinky Die at 6:45 AM on January 7, 2015


To be fair, getting a comment deleted can invoke the inner asshulk in the best of us.

Not to the vast majority of individuals who have taken the time to figure out how the place works and engage in good-faith. The asshulks are rare, and are rarer for those who have been here a while.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:45 AM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


misha: Hey, Matt, I'm sorry for my part in the derail. I didn't realize what a nightmare it was for you, and I feel bad about criticizing your decision when you were between a rock and a hard place.

Going forward, the way to not feel like a man oppressing a woman is to treat the women the same as you would everyone else. We don't need special treatment. Maybe you didn't need to try so hard to protect Kane from the criticism in the thread in the first place. She can obviously take care of herself just fine.


Please note: misha does not represent the opinion of all women.

amorphatist: "Lads" ~= "guys" for you yanks. Historically a bunch of young men, but now used by the yute to mean a bunch of peeps, including women, druids, rogues and muppets. E.g. "I'm meeting up with the lads now to go on the lash".

Uh, no. 'Lads' is still firmly gendered, unlike 'guys'. "I'm meeting up with the lads to go on the lash" definitely means you're going out with a bunch of men to get drunk. Druids, rogues and muppets, sure, but not women. This is an understanding of the term which is firmly mainstream here in the UK - your comment just now is the first I have ever seen contesting that.

And you used it referencing people who were not necessarily both male (and rtha's response rather implies they'd rather not be gendered that way). Bad form, dude.
posted by Dysk at 6:58 AM on January 7, 2015 [12 favorites]


Eh, let's not pretend that all the brave souls who stood up to the "collective outrage" were behaving like angels here.

I am certainly no angel. Kane is obviously a toxic personality, though, and in my opinion those who hold her up as some kind of role model do feminism no favors.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 7:09 AM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


Kane can be useful, smart, worth listening to, mistreated, worthy of forgiveness, and a completely awful shit of a person who I'd spend time with only if the alternative of stabbing myself in the face was no longer available. Someone doesn't have to be a role model in all things or even anything to be a contributor.
posted by phearlez at 7:14 AM on January 7, 2015 [13 favorites]


Uh, no. 'Lads' is still firmly gendered, unlike 'guys'. "I'm meeting up with the lads to go on the lash" definitely means you're going out with a bunch of men to get drunk. Druids, rogues and muppets, sure, but not women. This is an understanding of the term which is firmly mainstream here in the UK - your comment just now is the first I have ever seen contesting that.

Maybe in your parts, but I've heard it used as a non-gendered collective since college, half a lifetime ago, and my crew still actively use it that way, ie as pretty much a direct equivalent to "guys". Also, the youth today tend to be more inclusive about these things. Maybe not in the UK. But it's a term that's far more widely deployed in Ireland than the UK in my experience (particularly down the sticks), so I'll roll with my peeps' usage of the term.
posted by amorphatist at 7:15 AM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


Role models are for ABC After School Specials.

And yes, people are seldom if ever 100% consistent in their behavior all the time.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 7:16 AM on January 7, 2015


I sort of accidentally follow Shanley on Twitter (I added her at some point, find what she has to say fascinating, and think she is ultimately on the side of good and consider myself to align with her, but she sure is high volume and high heat - and as such is out of the norm for me) and I was saddened, but maybe not totally surprised, to see her attacking MetaFilter. I don't think we are guilty of what she is accusing, necessarily, but she is seemingly so besieged at all times and is therefore running an all-offense defense. That makes a lot of sense on Twitter but is just going to suck on MetaFilter.

I thought about trying to articulate something about that on Twitter, but realized instantly that the BEST I could hope for was for it to be ignored. Nope.
posted by dirtdirt at 7:17 AM on January 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


So when someone has a MetaTalk opened about them and a bunch of people pile on about how awful they are, it usually goes poorly. Why would we expect someone to behave differently if a FPP is opened about them and a bunch of people pile on about how horrible they are? Especially if this isn't a community they're a part of. They have no history with the site to know how hard we've worked to be as "good" as we are. They don't have any fond feelings to mitigate the pain they're feeling from the poor things said about them. And we expect them just to shut up and take it. Because they did something that got enough visibility to be posted to MetaFilter.
posted by stoneweaver at 7:28 AM on January 7, 2015 [6 favorites]


Maybe in your parts, but I've heard it used as a non-gendered collective since college, half a lifetime ago, and my crew still actively use it that way, ie as pretty much a direct equivalent to "guys". Also, the youth today tend to be more inclusive about these things. Maybe not in the UK. But it's a term that's far more widely deployed in Ireland than the UK in my experience (particularly down the sticks)

Definitively not in the UK, amongst any age group. And it's a term that's incredibly widely used in the UK - c.f. terms like "lads' mags" and all the facebook groups like "the lad bible" and so on.

so I'll roll with my peeps' usage of the term

Might not be the best course of action when one of the people you've applied the term to has already objected...
posted by Dysk at 7:35 AM on January 7, 2015 [6 favorites]


Why would we expect someone to behave differently if a FPP is opened about them and a bunch of people pile on about how horrible they are?

Those are by and large the comments that got deleted, so I don't know how she could have seen them.

Kane can be useful, smart, worth listening to, mistreated, worthy of forgiveness, and a completely awful shit of a person who I'd spend time with only if the alternative of stabbing myself in the face was no longer available. Someone doesn't have to be a role model in all things or even anything to be a contributor.

Feminism has a lot of women promoters who are useful, smart and worth listening to without being completely awful shits of people. There is such a huge difference between the tenor of her articles and her personal communications that like Elizabeth Spiers I find it amazing they're written by the same person. On the other hand, there is some chicanery under the straightforward tone, too, like accusing Spiers of all kinds of bad faith just for doing her job. Really, I think Kane would do everyone (herself included) a big favor by letting her work with Model View Culture speak for her, rather than her Twitter account.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 7:49 AM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Those are by and large the comments that got deleted, so I don't know how she could have seen them.

There's nothing super implausible about the idea; we have to clean up responses to already-deleted comments pretty often in dicey threads, which shows the kind of lagging, short-but-nonzero lifespans stuff can have when someone's reading along in real time. Someone reading a thread about their work and their person would be as likely as anyone to be attentive enough to catch crappy stuff before it got nixed, and as a non-member wouldn't have the understanding of how moderation works to know that that stuff was going to go as mitigation for the sting, etc.

None of which makes the reaction any less crappy.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:58 AM on January 7, 2015 [6 favorites]


Definitively not in the UK, amongst any age group. And it's a term that's incredibly widely used in the UK -

I'm fully aware it's widely used in the UK (I used to live there), just "definitively" more widely used in Ireland in my experience, and used far more artfully, e.g. "for feck's sake lads". Actually, I just popped that into Google, and the fourth hit was this, which is the exact sense I intended. I don't know those people, but "Caitlin" does sound a bit oirish, and traditionally we have scant regard for English prescriptivism.

Might not be the best course of action when one of the people you've applied the term to has already objected...

Happy to gender anybody any way they want, a quick memail works if preferred, but this was a non-gendered usage.
posted by amorphatist at 8:05 AM on January 7, 2015


I don't think we are guilty of what she is accusing, necessarily, but she is seemingly so besieged at all times and is therefore running an all-offense defense.

We should be kind to Kane, because that's what good people do. It puts us on the higher ground morally.

If the interview in the OP is to be believed (and lean towards its veracity at least on this point), she intentionally set up the rules of the game to fight, as part of a strategic plan. I wouldn't ever participate by those rules, and I don't think we should give back in kind. She has stated, however, that her plan was to come out of the gate swinging, even to those who are normally allies in disadvantaged positions, because people are too passive and not moving quickly enough for her liking. Her mode of operation is to be overly aggressive, even in cases where people haven't warranted it, because of some greater-good calculus. It's like fight club, where somehow the fighting is good for everyone, even though there are going to be casualties.

We should not besiege her in return, and we should not dismiss good ideas because we do not like the person. However, she also shouldn't have a plan of intentionally besieging other people who don't deserve it, and it's not a derail to call that out as a high priority to consider in any postmortem that we do on the situation.
posted by SpacemanStix at 9:01 AM on January 7, 2015 [7 favorites]


I'll roll with my peeps' usage of the term.

You should do that when you are with your peeps. Or, you can insist on being misunderstood by the majority of those here. Hell, even guys isn't gender neutral to many.
posted by cjorgensen at 9:25 AM on January 7, 2015 [12 favorites]


That's correct. I don't read 'guys' or 'dude' as gender neutral. Could be because I'm not a native speaker of English.
posted by Too-Ticky at 9:35 AM on January 7, 2015


but this was a non-gendered usage.

Well, to you it was, but the reason I queried it is because I've never heard it used in non-gendered ways (I have lived in the UK and the US). I live in California and am "Dude!-ed" a lot and do the same to female friends, and I have been in "hey, guys, can we get a move on already" for decades and that is all fine because that's what I'm used to. If someone I know objects to being duded or guysed because those terms are gendered to them, then of course I'd do my best to not call them that.

I'd just literally never heard "lads" used as non-gendered-group-of-people so my eyebrows went up.
posted by rtha at 9:51 AM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


Yes, guys and dudes tends to be gender neutral in my part of the world (southern california), and lads would certainly be perceived masculine.

The Urban Dictionary has a number of uses that seem gender neutral for lad in parts of the world, but they are most all derogatory. Anything non-derogatory seem specifically masculine. You know, if you can trust Urban Dictionary.
posted by SpacemanStix at 10:04 AM on January 7, 2015


"lads" is often used in a gender-neutral way in the South of Ireland (not the North generally, so not UK). My boss - a Dublin woman - will start mixed-gender meetings with "Right, lads..." However I wouldn't use it like that on this site because I'm well aware that most people don't use it like that. Using it in this thread particarly and then being all wide-eyed "What?" about it seems a bit disingenuous to me. Of course if you merely wanted to educate our colonial friends and were wholly innocent of guessing there'd be any misunderstanding, then I do of course apologise. Maybe just pick a more neutral thread next time?
posted by billiebee at 10:06 AM on January 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


so I'll roll with my peeps' usage of the term

Yes, when you're with your peeps, and you all have mutually and idiosyncratically decided it is non-gendered, no problem.

We are not your peeps in the way those lads are, though, so maybe it would be wise to stick to conventional English usage when there is a possibility of being misunderstood.
posted by maxsparber at 10:07 AM on January 7, 2015 [5 favorites]




The idea that "guys" is gender-neutral is not at all universally accepted.

Exactly. I didn't want to be That Guy (er, lady) but there's actually a decent amount of linguistic research that seems to say that while it's totally true that many people use "guys" to refer to both men and women, the way people are interpreting it neurolinguistically is that it's as if the term "guys" is expanded to also include women, not that there are two words that happen to be identical and one is gender-neutral. So when you do studies on people and show them job ads with guy- or dude-like phrasing and ask women "Do these refer to you?" many of them say they don't. I'm glossing because I know everyone doesn't enjoy dorking out on this as much as I do, but you know SCIENCE.

So that doesn't mean that anything bad was meant in the above exchange necessarily, just that it's fine to talk about what you meant but it's worth also understanding how such terms are conventionally understood in a way that gets at the issue a bit more deeply than he-said-she-said.

My whole college thesis was basically on how "generic he" in English is anything but (and did a lot of lit research which has been much more heavily studied since that time) and even though people say a lot of things about what they meant, they are still at some level answerable to what people are hearing if those sorts of things can be known which, in this case, they can.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 10:36 AM on January 7, 2015 [32 favorites]


DIVIIIFTW

DIVIII4LIFE
posted by OmieWise at 10:49 AM on January 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


> The idea that "guys" is gender-neutral is not at all universally accepted.

> Exactly. I didn't want to be That Guy (er, lady) but there's actually a decent amount of linguistic research that seems to say that while it's totally true that many people use "guys" to refer to both men and women, the way people are interpreting it neurolinguistically is that it's as if the term "guys" is expanded to also include women, not that there are two words that happen to be identical and one is gender-neutral

Thanks for that. It was one of those lightbulb moments that actually makes me feel a bit sheepish to not have picked up on the implications of it earlier. It reminds me of some languages (like Greek) which use the masculine plural form when referring to either men or mixed company, while the feminine plural form is always feminine. Regardless of convention over time, it definitely has its roots in particular influences that should make us ask why it came about that way, what are the ongoing implications to the receiver, and if it's worth some push-back or increases sensitivity to its use (I think it is).
posted by SpacemanStix at 11:17 AM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


If someone I know objects to being duded or guysed because those terms are gendered to them, then of course I'd do my best to not call them that.

Likewise here, anybody who objects to being "lads-ed", I'll do my best not to call them that.

Yes, when you're with your peeps, and you all have mutually and idiosyncratically decided it is non-gendered, no problem. We are not your peeps in the way those lads are, though, so maybe it would be wise to stick to conventional English usage when there is a possibility of being misunderstood.

It's about as "idiosyncratic" as dude-ing in SoCal, but yes, probably wise to avoid confusion around here. That said, I and lots of Irish peeps would probably find it as difficult to stop lads-ing as a San Diegan would to stop dude-ing, but at least you learned something new today, and hopefully understand that no gendered offense is intended by lads-ing should you ever visit our fair island.

but there's actually a decent amount of linguistic research that seems to say that while it's totally true that many people use "guys" to refer to both men and women, the way people are interpreting it neurolinguistically is that it's as if the term "guys" is expanded to also include women

That's really interesting, could be a good FPP in there (one probably beyond my expertise to create).
posted by amorphatist at 11:27 AM on January 7, 2015


Could be because I'm not a native speaker of English.

I thought it was because I was over 40.

One of the other aspects of "guys" is I've heard it used in a way to deliberately bring attention to the fact that one person is not a guy. You can sometimes here this in someone's voice when they decide they don't want to use the word, but it's too late to back out when it's realized not everyone is male. "Oh, hi! How are you, er, guys doing?" Sometime you can hear it when someone is deliberately being an ass.
posted by cjorgensen at 11:32 AM on January 7, 2015


Wow. This thread is an absolute train wreck. Unrealistic suggestion: just open a single thread in MeTa for general unmoderated grievances/grar/bullshit and keep the rest of the subsite for functional site discussion. Maybe blanket delete the Unhinged Rants thread every month to wipe the slate clean. This thread is like a public toilet wall that hasn't been cleaned in four decades. Or a defaced headstone.
posted by byanyothername at 11:36 AM on January 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


"Guys" is one of those things to me that's a frequent living lesson on how much/little intent matters in what you say. I use "guys" generically all the time (I call my son and daughter "guys" all the time when addressing them collectively, for instance). Stems from my upbringing. When I think on it, my brain reflexively says "What? I mean 'people' by that, not men," and that's true as far as it goes.

But then occasionally there are moments when I'll say "guys" and I'll catch my wife throwing me a look that says "please refer to our Tome of Past Marital Informational Updates, Chapter XVII, Subsection 13.1a, WHICH I KNOW YOU KNOW BY HEART, and in which I clearly explain that I AM NOT A GUY, DAMMIT, and by the way down here the term is y'all, motherfucker."

At which point I give her a sympathetic look that says "Yeah, sorry, this shit is really deeply ingrained and hard to undo," and then she gives me a look that says "I know, it's okay" and then I'm all "While we're doing telepathy, should we have mindsex" and she throws me a "We are in church, please tighten your shit up now" glare.
posted by middleclasstool at 11:37 AM on January 7, 2015 [20 favorites]


Wow. This thread is an absolute train wreck.

So this is your contribution to pissing in the punch?
posted by cjorgensen at 11:47 AM on January 7, 2015


From what I can tell, this thread stopped being about MrMoonPie's grievance here, where it became a MeTa of the Kane thread. I apologize for taking part in this immense derail. It hasn't been as fun as talking about recipes, pets or the linguistic background of third person plural pronouns would be, but it seems to have at least vented some of the bile out of the thread on the blue, anyway. Just maybe should have been its own thread, I guess? Again, sorry for being part of the problem.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 11:59 AM on January 7, 2015


As I said before, I don't consider it a derail. The original MeTa was a discussion about the deletion of comments; I was continuing in that vein. If anything, this "lads" thing is a derail, but honestly, the whole "derail" thing has always been a bit of a bugbear for me, anyway. I think I mentioned this upthread somewhere, too, but it seems to me that it usually translates to, "shut up about that thing I don't want you to talk about". It can be irritating to see what you consider a bunch of noise in a thread (I've been there), but the concept of derail hasn't really, historically, applied nearly as stringently to MetaTalk as to MetaFilter, and I certainly don't agree it applies in this case.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 12:05 PM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


"Lasses" and "gals" are both definitely non-gendered these days (like, say, "actress" and "heroine") and I use them to refer to men all the time. I don't know why some men are touchy about that -- I mean, the "cool boys" I know don't have a problem with it, they're just one of the gals.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 12:09 PM on January 7, 2015 [19 favorites]


I'm simultaneously rolling my eyes at the communal derail into trivia beans on a plate and feeling mathowie's pain.

He needs a hug.

Good faith doesn't deserve a slap in teh face, no matter what, who, why and whether they know shit or not.

I saw Kane's comment and ignored it. I didn't realize mathowie was working to keep the thread as clean as it seemed to me. I thought everyone had just decided to ignore that provocative attempt to test this community to see if we were going to be like the rest of the howling mobs on the interwebs.

My idealistic side would like to see us pull together more, become more thougthful and less tolerant of the common crap, whilst at the same time taking the high road of not engaging or stooping to trollish levels.

That would be the best revenge to what has happened to our wider virtual world. Reinforcing the sanity and sense of this place. And the best response.

Feels like if we don't shore up our defenses, we'll end up like the rest.

fwiw that Kane thread had real positive impact and value for me, personally, and came at a crucial time in my life.

Reading mathowie's experience with her has left a bad taste in mouth.

Fuck this shit.
posted by infini at 12:33 PM on January 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


I think I mentioned this upthread somewhere, too, but it seems to me that it usually translates to, "shut up about that thing I don't want you to talk about".

Hey, excuse me, but this is not at all what I mean by calling this a derail. I am neither telling you nor anyone else to "shut up". Whatever broad or narrow definitions we might take for the purpose of this thread, do not project these kinds of intentions onto me.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 12:52 PM on January 7, 2015


Just when we were getting this thread all unhet up!
posted by amorphatist at 1:01 PM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


I am completely unhet, but thanks so much for your concern.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 1:15 PM on January 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


Hey, excuse me, but this is not at all what I mean by calling this a derail. I am neither telling you nor anyone else to "shut up". Whatever broad or narrow definitions we might take for the purpose of this thread, do not project these kinds of intentions onto me.

Duly noted. I am also, for the record, unhet.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 1:18 PM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


I am pondering the wisdom of visibly choosing to take umbrage with the word unhet.
posted by infini at 1:23 PM on January 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


Just to clarify, when I said the Kane thing should be its own thread, I meant instead of being buried under 300+ comments about a totally different thread. So I'm not trying to silence anyone here; on the contrary, I thought it deserved its own space. So maybe "derail" wasn't really exact.

Anyway, glad we're good here.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 1:25 PM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


I am unheteronormitup. I think. Now I am questioning whether I used the proper quantity of double negatives
posted by phearlez at 1:39 PM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


I use "guys" gender neutrally offline but not online because I know that not everyone on the internet speaks my regional variation of English and people who might be hurt by my misgendering likely have enough structural bullshit to deal with that throwing new microaggressions on that won't help. But that's because I am an adult with a reasonably sized vocabulary who would prefer not to look like a sexist ass, so ymmv.
posted by NoraReed at 2:31 PM on January 7, 2015 [8 favorites]


I call my girlfriend "dude".
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 2:51 PM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


But that's because I am an adult with a reasonably sized vocabulary who would prefer not to look like a sexist ass, so ymmv.

I know there are places online where that level of caution is necessary, but at least here I don't think anybody would accuse you of being a 'sexist ass' for using 'guys'. Possibly even 'dudes', and I'm feeling optimism about 'lads' after this thread.
posted by amorphatist at 3:08 PM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


I wondered why there was no Metatalk on this issue. Found it! (late)

When someone writes an article saying that she doesn't want to be thrust in the limelight and picked apart, and then Metafilter links to that article in a FPP followed by a whole thread picking her apart, has Metafilter as a whole perhaps missed the point of the article? The post should have been deleted.

But if the thread stands, her comment should stand. (I flagged it, but only because I thought it could be someone impersonating her; I didn't think to check her Twitter about it until I saw it mentioned here.)

If someone is thrust into the limelight of a FPP, without their consent, it just compounds the problem to delete their voice from the thread when they try to speak for themselves. If their comments violate community norms, then I guess they have to post their response on their own site instead, but even in that case, there ought to be a prominent link to them speaking in their own voice in response. Maybe even edit the post to add that link so it's unmissable.

I am deeply uncomfortable with the idea of deleting people's comments in order to protect them from the thread blowing up against them. If someone speaks up in a thread, don't second guess their decision on their behalf. If you have to delete certain comments in order to protect the mods' time and wellbeing, or protect the character of the site and make it what you want it to be, then own that.

This has given me a lot to think about in terms of how much I value "nice"ness and how much I value working toward inclusion and equality and how rarely those are compatible.
posted by Bentobox Humperdinck at 3:17 PM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


just because no one accuses you of anything doesn't mean we aren't quietly deciding you're an insensitive clod and adding it to the list of reasons to disregard your opinions
posted by NoraReed at 3:19 PM on January 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


My wife has, on occasion, invited me to stick it to The Man.
posted by 0 at 3:24 PM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


jebus.

hug-faved
posted by Michele in California at 3:26 PM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


just because no one accuses you of anything doesn't mean we aren't quietly deciding you're an insensitive clod and adding it to the list of reasons to disregard your opinions

If anything, I'd guess "we" have quietly decided that it'd be more of a "sensitive clod" situation in your case of avoiding "guys" here, but then again it's ambiguous who you mean by "we" and "clod" here. Either which way, it doesn't seem like a thing worth worrying much about, and hopefully few of the "we" disregard your (or whomever's) opinions because of it.
posted by amorphatist at 3:31 PM on January 7, 2015


I know there are places online where that level of caution is necessary, but at least here I don't think anybody would accuse you of being a 'sexist ass' for using 'guys'. Possibly even 'dudes', and I'm feeling optimism about 'lads' after this thread.

Nobody's called anybody else a "sexist ass", but multiple people in this thread have expressed their displeasure with being addressed as "guys", so your optimism seems entirely unfounded.

Part of the reason to have discussions in MetaTalk is to address issues before they get to the direct insult (such as "sexist ass") breaking point.
posted by Lexica at 3:44 PM on January 7, 2015 [9 favorites]


Nobody's called anybody else a "sexist ass", but multiple people in this thread have expressed their displeasure with being addressed as "guys", so your optimism seems entirely unfounded.

"Sexist ass" is not my language, and I don't think anybody's used it as a direct insult against anybody else in this thread, to the best of my knowledge?

And it's a big thread, so I may have missed it, but how many people have already expressed their displeasure with being included in "guys"?
posted by amorphatist at 4:00 PM on January 7, 2015


amorphatist : "how many people have already expressed their displeasure with being included in "guys"?"

All these comments read to me as people disagreeing with the assertion that "guys" is gender neutral and saying either that they prefer not to be referred to as "guys", or that they understand that others prefer not to be referred to as "guys" so they don't refer to them that way:
cjorgensen: "Hell, even guys isn't gender neutral to many."

Too-Ticky: "I don't read 'guys' or 'dude' as gender neutral."

rtha: "If someone I know objects to being duded or guysed because those terms are gendered to them, then of course I'd do my best to not call them that. "

Lexica: "The idea that "guys" is gender-neutral is not at all universally accepted."

jessamyn: "I didn't want to be That Guy (er, lady) but there's actually a decent amount of linguistic research that seems to say that while it's totally true that many people use "guys" to refer to both men and women, the way people are interpreting it neurolinguistically is that it's as if the term "guys" is expanded to also include women, not that there are two words that happen to be identical and one is gender-neutral. So when you do studies on people and show them job ads with guy- or dude-like phrasing and ask women "Do these refer to you?" many of them say they don't."

middleclasstool: ""Guys" is one of those things to me that's a frequent living lesson on how much/little intent matters in what you say."

NoraReed: "I use "guys" gender neutrally offline but not online because I know that not everyone on the internet speaks my regional variation of English and people who might be hurt by my misgendering likely have enough structural bullshit to deal with that throwing new microaggressions on that won't help."
But in case those were all too indirect, let me state it explicitly: I consider "guys" a gendered term. I prefer not to be referred to as a "guy" or, in a group, as "guys". I am not the only person who feels this way.

Is that enough evidence for you? How many people need to speak up to say "I don't like it, and I would prefer it if you didn't use this term this way" for it to be worth you paying attention to?

My own guideline is that if one person says they dislike a term, I won't use it to them or around them. If multiple people say they dislike a term, I will probably work to drop it from my vocabulary. There are so many wonderfully expressive words in English, my speech will not be noticeably impoverished if I choose not to use words that others have said they find hurtful or offensive.
posted by Lexica at 4:20 PM on January 7, 2015 [8 favorites]


"how many people have already expressed their displeasure with being included in "guys"?"

All these comments read to me as people disagreeing with the assertion that "guys" is gender neutral and saying either that they prefer not to be referred to as "guys", or that they understand that others prefer not to be referred to as "guys" so they don't refer to them that way:


I'll agree that there may be structural issues with the use of guys/dudes/lads, especially since jessamyn's excellent and informative comment, but the question was "how many people have already expressed their displeasure with being included in "guys"?, and considering how much work you put into gathering the quotations, you should be able to do the little extra work and tally to exactly zero. Not one of your quotes includes a single member here expressing their personal displeasure with being included in "guys", nor is any of those comments a request to refrain from including them in that term. Acknowledging structural issues, yes. Personal requests, no. One member quoted actually said they use "guys" gender-neutrally, yet you add that to those who who have expressed their displeasure with being included in "guys". What a preposterous misreading. It's entirely possible that some of those quoted may prefer to not be included in "guys", but if so, they've yet to express it obviously in this thread - at least from the quotes you've included - and I imagine you've been comprehensive in your search.

There are so many wonderfully expressive words in English, my speech will not be noticeably impoverished if I choose not to use words that others have said they find hurtful or offensive.

I've already expressed upthread that I'm happy to remove anybody from inclusion in a term ("lads") that they feel is too gender-specific/exclusionary, but this is a sad embarrassment of an attempt to manufacture a bit of division and outrage, for no benevolent reason.
posted by amorphatist at 5:03 PM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


I think I'm going to start using, "Lasses" instead of Guys, the way I use she instead of he when gender is unspecified. It should be fun. 8D
posted by Deoridhe at 5:21 PM on January 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


If I call you all "beans", am I misgendering anyone?
posted by disclaimer at 5:28 PM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


One member quoted actually said they use "guys" gender-neutrally, yet you add that to those who who have expressed their displeasure with being included in "guys". What a preposterous misreading.

I'm surprised that you think lexica made that misinterpretation when earlier you quoted her statement, which explicitly included people who were not bothered by being included in the term "guys". An unfortunate misread.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 5:28 PM on January 7, 2015


... this is a sad embarrassment of an attempt to manufacture a bit of division and outrage, for no benevolent reason.
For what my opinion is worth (yes, I know, so close to nil as to not be worth haggling over), this is exactly the way your comments here are coming off. Exactly.
posted by dg at 5:29 PM on January 7, 2015 [9 favorites]


I'm surprised that you think lexica made that misinterpretation when earlier you quoted her statement, which explicitly included people who were not bothered by being included in the term "guys". An unfortunate misread.

The question was: "how many people have already expressed their displeasure with being included in "guys"?" Meaning, how many people on this thread? The answer is still zero upthread of that question. There's many afield who prefer not to be included in the term, I even noted earlier that I'd personally experienced that with the use of "dude". But the question pertained to this thread, the answer is still zero, and the unfortunate misread is yours.
posted by amorphatist at 5:35 PM on January 7, 2015


At this point you're pretty much both walking and talking like a troll, and it's getting very difficult not to read you as such.
posted by Dysk at 5:42 PM on January 7, 2015 [12 favorites]


My eyes are starting to hurt again.
posted by phearlez at 6:07 PM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Bentobox Humperdinck: If someone is thrust into the limelight of a FPP, without their consent

Because of an article she self-published on her publicly viewable website, it's worth pointing out.

Do you think every living subject of an FPP should be asked permission before they are posted about? How do you regard Kirby Delauter's request to not be written about? The circumstances aren't the same but they do deal with similar issues.

You also said that Elizabeth Spiers and two others are essentially lying about the journalistic ethics and whether she stalked an interview subject and her friends and family. How is that not as, if not more, negative about a woman who also talked about the harassment she's received in the article she published as anything said about Shanley Kane?
posted by gadge emeritus at 6:22 PM on January 7, 2015 [6 favorites]


Yeah, the idea that an FPP is thrusting someone into the limelight more than that person's own article (or extremely high-profile Twitter personality, I might add) doesn't really bear scrutiny.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 8:28 PM on January 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


Our limelight, maybe, but the world's? She is already way into it, and writing articles is probably not the way to stay out of it.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 8:29 PM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


If I call you all "beans", am I misgendering anyone?
posted by disclaimer


This is all too eponysterical for me, really...
posted by infini at 9:46 PM on January 7, 2015


Beans are obviously gendered, so you'll need to find another term.

As far as Kane goes, I was sorry to see matthowie treated that way (lookout! buzzsaw!). Polarizers are no fun to be around.

What's this thread about, anyway?
posted by notyou at 10:27 PM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Genotyping unicorns.

It makes sense both ways.
posted by Invisible Green Time-Lapse Peloton at 11:19 PM on January 7, 2015


This invisible peloton, it vibrates?
posted by infini at 2:39 AM on January 8, 2015


I was raised in a family with a father, a mother, my sister and myself (female) and we were ALL "guys" as in, "What do you guys want for supper tonight?" "You guys get your homework finished and get to bed" "When are you guys going to learn to untangle the phone cord before you hang up the phone?"

So many perfectly ordinary good words and phrases - which had absolutely NO negative intent or connotation at all - have been co-opted by one special interest group or another that it's just plain annoying anymore and I refuse to give up "guys" and have it turned into a gender-specific fighting point. No. I'll try, but not too hard, to avoid calling everyone on MetaFilter "guys," but if I slip and ask if any of you guys can recommend a good sandwich, then gee, I'm sorry.

We use identifiers here that don't reflect a gender unless you want to identify your gender. I don't know or care what gender most people here are because the comments and opinions have their own value regardless of what sex the person behind them claims. What I just cannot believe is that an actual typhoon has just passed through here over the use of the word "guys" - one more offense among so many that we make because we don't second-guess our comments, go over them for weak points and terms that might somehow offend someone, set them aside and come back later to recheck before they're posted, consider the tone and how it fits the tone of the thread, etc and etc. We used to call that "walking on eggshells" and people have abandoned marriages because it's such a drag. This instant offense thing isn't about courtesy or being polite or respectful, it's about power and aggressiveness and hostility and contempt; it's not about equality, it's about superiority and intimidation - another solid basis for failed relationships, be they platonic or romantic.

There's no excuse for assaulting the mods here. None. There's no excuse for bullying, not even the excuse that you've been bullied all your life so now it's your turn. Sorry. Stop it.

And just one more little point: Whoever it was upthread that said he felt badly about Matt having to take so much shit over that comment, so surprised that it was a much bigger deal than he realized, he'd no idea that Matt was fielding comments and flags left, right and backwards, etc. - that guy also pointed out that HE FLAGGED the comment right away; of course he did - just keep your fingers on that flag button and send the mods into overdrive trying to keep up with your judgements! Ever heard the story about too many CEOs and not enough clerks?

Maybe the answer is to end flagging period - and let the moderators decide what's okay and what isn't.
posted by aryma at 3:18 AM on January 8, 2015 [4 favorites]


That's a hell of a way to mischaracterise what happened, aryma. Somebody had a strop over using the word 'lads' in a way that is at odds with the way the majority of the english-speaking world understands the term. Being asked to modulate your language to the audience is hardly a big ask, and I'm sure we all have many words or turns of phrase we might use in day-to-day life, but not on MetaFilter. That is a feature, not a bug.

So it's great that you have your little particular linguistic history that you share with your parents and sister, but not all mefites share that with you, or that understanding of the term. It's great that you're cis, and have a comparatively uncomplicated relationship to your gender, where that sort of subtle misgendering doesn't happen regularly (the number of people who insist they use "man" - as in "hey man!" - or guys and similar terms gender-neutrally and then proceed to use them with men and trans women, but not any of the cis women present... well it doesn't surprise me anymore, but it would most people) but not everyone has that luxury.

So if you don't fancy 'walking on eggshells' in order to demonstrate a modicum of respect for the people around you, if it's such a drag, you can always split up with metafilter.
posted by Dysk at 4:14 AM on January 8, 2015 [12 favorites]


So it's great that you have your little particular linguistic history that you share with your parents and sister, but not all mefites share that with you, or that understanding of the term.

So if you don't fancy 'walking on eggshells' in order to demonstrate a modicum of respect for the people around you, if it's such a drag, you can always split up with metafilter.

Dysk, you are now in the mode of encouraging a user to leave, because you hate the fact that she has that "little particular linguistic history" with her family and wants to continue to use "guys" gender-neutrally. I understand you think you have it tough and deserve that others (cishets especially) respect your special pain, but you have crossed the line into being a bully.

Aryma, I thought your comment was superb. Don't listen to Dysk or the rest of his/her ilk.
posted by amorphatist at 4:42 AM on January 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


The question was: "how many people have already expressed their displeasure with being included in "guys"?"

She was very clear about what she was listing. It was inclusive of the specific example that you picked out to criticize. I agree that she didn't answer the question as you asked it. I don't agree that she necessarily mischaracterized any one specific comment. If you're still confused about your error, I'm happy to expand my explanation, give analogous examples, etc. We aren't all naturally good at understanding what we read.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 4:48 AM on January 8, 2015


I agree that she didn't answer the question as you asked it.

Then we're in agreement.
posted by amorphatist at 4:52 AM on January 8, 2015


Armya's comment was not superb, it was full of hostility and aggressive strawmanning. Dysk's response was relatively measured considering the many ways she was implicitly--but clearly--mischaracterized as violent and unreasonable.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 4:58 AM on January 8, 2015 [9 favorites]


Don't listen to Dysk or the rest of his/her ilk.

hmmm.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 5:02 AM on January 8, 2015 [9 favorites]


Don't listen to Dysk or the rest of his/her ilk.

hmmm.


Ilk here being those who would suggest "if it's such a drag [to not use 'guys'], you can always split up with metafilter". Do you disagree?
posted by amorphatist at 5:12 AM on January 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


Then we're in agreement.

On that point. However, you also accused lexica of a "preposterous misreading", and that is what I am addressing. You were wrong to assume that she misread that specific comment, and it calls into question either your comprehension of her comment, or your intention in picking that part out to specifically criticize.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 5:13 AM on January 8, 2015


You misgendered dysk in response to a comment she wrote specifically complaining about being misgendered as a "guy". It seems obvious to me that someone who feels misgendered when included in "guys" is a woman, but I suppose you could have missed that.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 5:15 AM on January 8, 2015 [4 favorites]


It's Dysk.
posted by 0 at 5:19 AM on January 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


You misgendered dysk in response to a comment she wrote specifically complaining about being misgendered as a "guy".

I did? Yep, I missed that. Where?

It seems obvious to me that someone who feels misgendered when included in "guys" is a woman, but I suppose you could have missed that.

I'm learning (from this site, no less) not to assume too much about people's gender identity unless they specifically tell me something about it.
posted by amorphatist at 5:21 AM on January 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


Ilk here being those who would suggest "if it's such a drag [to not use 'guys'], you can always split up with metafilter". Do you disagree?

No, I don't. My issue was with "his/her." Dysk is a trans woman, so it's either ignorance that looks like an insult or an insult that looks like ignorance, but in my opinion, it could plausibly be either one.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 5:21 AM on January 8, 2015 [7 favorites]


My issue was with "his/her." Dysk is a trans woman

Didn't know that for sure, and wasn't about to insist on knowing (as that can be taken the wrong way as well), hence using "his/her" for the purpose of avoiding insult.
posted by amorphatist at 5:25 AM on January 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


Noted, 0, thanks!
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 5:26 AM on January 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


I believe you didn't do it on purpose, but I do think you should apologize.
posted by Drinky Die at 5:31 AM on January 8, 2015


Before this thread, I was a proponent of he as a grammatically correct and therefore defensible gender-neutral pronoun (and, by extension, guys, lads, and even boys). I have changed my mind on that.
I remain steadfast in my refusal to use they as a singular pronoun, though.
posted by MrMoonPie at 5:34 AM on January 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


I believe you didn't do it on purpose, but I do think you should apologize.

Can you point me to the instance you speak of, I'm not finding it. Thx.
posted by amorphatist at 5:38 AM on January 8, 2015


> Trans woman. With a space. Please.

(Cmd-F posted by Dysk)
posted by rtha at 5:51 AM on January 8, 2015


On a further reread (up the thread) and more coffee, I see that Dysk is responding to one or more people using the term transwoman and not asking for a correction of how anyone referred to her specifically. I made that step based on what I know about her from what she's said in other threads.
posted by rtha at 6:04 AM on January 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


On a further reread (up the thread) and more coffee, I see that Dysk is responding to one or more people using the term transwoman and not asking for a correction of how anyone referred to her specifically.

Thanks, I appreciate that.
posted by amorphatist at 6:08 AM on January 8, 2015


"his/her" is pretty presumptive as well though - I might well have used neither of those pronouns (and then there's the history of that sort of thing with regards to trans women in general, but hey). This is exactly the sort of situation where there is a rich tradition in English for using 'their' - when talking about a person of whose gender you are unsure.
posted by Dysk at 6:51 AM on January 8, 2015 [7 favorites]


On a further reread (up the thread) and more coffee, I see that Dysk is responding to one or more people using the term transwoman and not asking for a correction of how anyone referred to her specifically.

Well yes, but I can think of exactly one reason why someone might insist on that in a pleading manner.
posted by Dysk at 6:52 AM on January 8, 2015 [4 favorites]


Dysk, you are now in the mode of encouraging a user to leave, because you hate the fact that she has that "little particular linguistic history" with her family and wants to continue to use "guys" gender-neutrally.

I am doing no such thing - I am suggesting that if a user is demonstratively unwilling to use language in a way that is comprehensible and inoffensive to people who do not share their particular linguistic history, they might not be the best fit for metafilter.

We are all asked to do this, and we (almost) all do. Lord knows my language on mefi is different from my language in day-to-day life, with words that are common in my speech being effectively banned on here. It's not a big deal, one of the wonders of the written word is that you can take however much time you need to review your words and fix things that just slip out.
posted by Dysk at 6:56 AM on January 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


"his/her" is pretty presumptive as well though - I might well have used neither of those pronouns

I am doing no such thing - I am suggesting that if a user is demonstratively unwilling to use language in a way that is comprehensible and inoffensive to people who do not share their particular linguistic history, they might not be the best fit for metafilter.

And for the vast vast majority of people, being required to use "their" is not part of their linguistic history, and yet using "his/her" is presumptive? Now, are you not the one suggesting that other users conform to your linguistic patterns?
posted by amorphatist at 7:14 AM on January 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


As I said, singular 'their' when referring to a person of whose gender you are unsure is firmly part of mainstream English, not something particular to an area, linguistic group, or individual family. See wikipedia's page on singular they.
posted by Dysk at 7:18 AM on January 8, 2015 [6 favorites]


We are all asked to do this, and we (almost) all do.

Have you changed you position on 'mansplain' since last last June?

Singular 'they' is indeed the best solution to this problem. It is not, however, "mainstream" English for many native speakers. It is understood widely, yes, but it's not yet used comfortably and naturally by most.
posted by 0 at 7:24 AM on January 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


See how many times I've used it in comments since then, 0.
posted by Dysk at 7:25 AM on January 8, 2015


(In fact, I've only ever used the word on here in meta-contexts when talking about it, and never actually deployed it 'in the wild' as it were.)
posted by Dysk at 7:29 AM on January 8, 2015


Do you still consider complaints about it nothing more than a tone argument?
posted by 0 at 7:30 AM on January 8, 2015


Can we drop the "let's badger individual users for reasons not germane to this MeTa thread" thing?
posted by jaguar at 7:32 AM on January 8, 2015 [10 favorites]


Often, aye. I certainly don't see it rising to the level of slur, for reasons I have explained in great detail in the threads you reference.

And yet, I nevertheless don't use it on metafilter, out of respect for the fact that people are offended by it, irrespective of my disagreement with the analysis that leads to that offence.
posted by Dysk at 7:32 AM on January 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yeah, this derail seems like it has gone on for quite a long time. Probably best to move on.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 7:33 AM on January 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


Indeed it has. Funny how it's suddenly a problem.
posted by 0 at 7:41 AM on January 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


Nooooo... I can't even remember what life was like before this mega derail!
posted by amorphatist at 7:44 AM on January 8, 2015


Strident people who will grasp any reason why they shouldn't give a damn about other people's perception of their word choices is not by any means suddenly a problem.
posted by phearlez at 7:51 AM on January 8, 2015 [6 favorites]


Indeed it has. Funny how it's suddenly a problem.

Badgering a trans user on gender terminology in a thread started about the suicide of a trans woman due to abuse for being trans is really unconscionably shitty behavior. So it's always a problem, but it's a particular problem here, yes.
posted by jaguar at 7:55 AM on January 8, 2015 [29 favorites]


Well yes, but I can think of exactly one reason why someone might insist on that in a pleading manner.

To be fair, I have seen users such as NoraReed give the same corrections in their efforts to be good allies in other threads. So it would be easy to read as merely a brief, polite request.
posted by gadge emeritus at 8:15 AM on January 8, 2015


Oh, sorry to see 0 is gone. I hope he can work something out to come back in the future.
posted by Drinky Die at 8:15 AM on January 8, 2015


Did O push the red button or was he banned?
posted by misha at 9:03 AM on January 8, 2015


So this is your contribution to pissing in the punch?

Into the sea, more like, given this started as a thread for complaints about deletions about how suicide is wrong and/or specific methods of suicide are wrong in a thread about a trans girl who killed herself due to abuse/utter social failure (but as long as I'm here, hey look, a comment misgendering her and making a joke out of her life is still there), then morphed into a huge derail about Shanley Kane, then morphed into a huge derail about "lads"/"guys"/"blokes" etc. It's not like there was a productive conversation to join at any point. There is no punch and there never was: it's all piss. There is literally no point to this thread beyond verbal vomit. Like most thread-specific MeTas, it serves no purpose beyond venting. I am actually serious about just cordoning off a section of the site and labeling it, "Spew Bile Here."
posted by byanyothername at 9:21 AM on January 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


I grew up as one of three sisters, no brothers, and we all used guys for the plural, "You guys going to the store?" Etc. Now I am the only woman in a family of four, and I use guys to refer to all of us. Both of my boys are in long-term, committed relationships and I remember when their girlfriends first started coming around, I used to refer to them separately, but it turned out their families all use "guys," at home, too.

So, to me, I find that anecdotally it is a very gender-neutral pronoun. It's making me wonder what a good alternative would have been, though?

I have overheard this group of friends--both the male and female members--use both "Dudes" and "Girls" to address the group as a whole. In my experience, using "ladies" or "girls" is seen as appropriate for addressing a group of women here, and used by men and women alike, while I know many on Mefi object to the use of "girl" to describe anyone over the age of 18 because it Is seen as infantilizing, and to me, "ladies" is very fussy and old-fashioned sounding (reminiscent of "m'lady"). But then, I still struggle, despite its common acceptance today, to use "they" when speaking of a single individual, because it was so thoroughly drilled into me as an English major, and reinforced in journalism, as being grammatically incorrect. I'm a dinosaur, I know.

So we do use "guys" as gender neutral here, as aryma does. Plus, I also thought "guys, guys, guys!" was an Internet-accepted version of that. A lot of these usages are recent, so I doubt I am alone.

I am not arguing for the term, especially if anyone else finds it objectionable, just wondering when it became that way?

If I have offended anyone by using "guys" in the past, I apologize. I had no idea it was offensive. Going forward, if we have decided we don't like that, I am happy to apply something else more appropriate. What is an acceptable alternative when addressing a group of people of mixed (or unknown) genders?
posted by misha at 9:55 AM on January 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


What is an acceptable alternative when addressing a group of people of mixed (or unknown) genders?

There's a whole country using "lads" to great effect.
posted by amorphatist at 10:03 AM on January 8, 2015


Y'all. Note the position of the apostrophe.
posted by MrMoonPie at 10:04 AM on January 8, 2015 [4 favorites]


I like folks.
posted by Drinky Die at 10:11 AM on January 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


Why does it have to be "we" deciding anything? Some people have said they dislike it. You can choose to die on that hill, as amortphatist clearly has, and say hey, lots of other people do it and are cool with it so I'm just going to ignore what people here have said. It's your right. Be the person you want to be, people will perceive you and your actions according to their feelings. You don't have to give a damn, you just have to live with their perceptions.

Personally I tend to go for "folks" but y'all works well too.
posted by phearlez at 10:12 AM on January 8, 2015 [9 favorites]


Y'all. Note the position of the apostrophe.

Well, sure, you could do "hey y'all, let's get going". But let's say you wanted to do something like "tell the lads to get ready", how would that work? Maybe "tell them'all to get ready". Hmmmn.

* Ye (and variatons of it) are the equivalent in Ireland... e.g. "are ye ready to go"?
posted by amorphatist at 10:15 AM on January 8, 2015


Tell them to get ready.
posted by Drinky Die at 10:17 AM on January 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


hey look, a comment misgendering her and making a joke out of her life is still there

Huh. To me, that looks like a comment which features a Twitter exchange where someone has tried to shame a boy for being too feminine, and they've had a reply saying how much they'd love and accept him instead.

I mean, it doesn't fit into your bile-spewing narrative, but it's nice to be right about these things. Especially when such an aggressive misreading of what's there suggests your anger at all of Metafilter is interfering with either your vision or your perspective.
posted by gadge emeritus at 10:27 AM on January 8, 2015


tell everyone to get ready
tell them to get ready
tell that disingenuous person claiming he's asking a question and his friends to get ready
posted by phearlez at 10:28 AM on January 8, 2015 [7 favorites]


tell the lads

Tell them

Tell everyone

Tell those slackers

etc.
posted by rtha at 10:32 AM on January 8, 2015


Did O push the red button or was he banned?

Banned, and it was years coming. 0 was responsible for a good amount of moderator time and resources, which are running very low these days. I didn't see him participate on the site outside of needling people in metatalk about gender issues, so I finally decided to throw the switch because there was literally no upside to having to endure that much work from a user pushing on the community and offering little in return.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 10:36 AM on January 8, 2015 [21 favorites]


> Banned, and it was years coming.

Thank you. He was one of those users I tried not to respond to, but I literally never saw him say anything worthwhile. It was all sarcastic baiting.
posted by languagehat at 11:04 AM on January 8, 2015 [12 favorites]


I feel like there's not a perfect replacement in American English for an ungendered "guys", assuming that you can accept "guys" as a genderless/gender-inclusive term in the first place. Used in contexts where everyone understands that one is using "guys" in a gender-inclusive way, it serves as a casual, single-syllable alternative to "people" or "everyone". It's easy to say, practically falls out of your mouth with very little effort.

"Folks" is the closest unambiguously-genderless replacement candidate, but personally I find that the casualness of the term feels a bit forced (it's a bit "folksy" in other words, in the sense that a politician might try to project a folksy image) and it's a bit awkward in the mouth. Maybe a linguist could explain why, but there's something about that "-lks" part of the word that literally sticks in the back of the throat and makes it much less pleasant to say as compared to "guys". "Y'all" can work sometimes, but it's pretty regional and can seem affected if you're not either in the South or from there.

My personal solution has been to just keep using "guys" in contexts where I know everyone around me is going to be OK with it (I also refer to women as "dude" and "man" sometimes, again depending on my audience) and to just drop back to a slightly more formal "everyone," "all of you," "them," etc. if I have any doubt as to how people would take it. It's not a perfect drop-in replacement, but that's OK. Very rarely does the entire reading of a statement turn on a single subtle shade of meaning in a single word like that; if I want to inject a little bit more relaxed-ness back into the conversation I can usually find somewhere to put it. This is not something that I do consciously of course, it's just one of the myriad of ways that my affect automatically shifts depending on context.

This is all a long way of saying that I really wish English had a plural "you," like just about every other self-respecting language out there as far as I know, and that the lack of such a word is one of the chief failings of my native tongue.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 11:14 AM on January 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


Phearlez, I already said I plan to refrain from using it because some folks find it offensive, so your lecture is out of place and patronizing.
posted by misha at 11:15 AM on January 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


but I literally never saw him say anything worthwhile.

In previous incarnations I think he contributed differently (and, to my mind, better). I was under the impression that his 0 account was a sort of self-imposed BND because of grar around gender stuff, that didn't really take for him as such, but I could be misreading that.
posted by OmieWise at 11:16 AM on January 8, 2015


Ugh, I don't know if I formatted that link in my right, but it was just a site search showing people on Metafilter doing the, "guys, guys, guys" thing really recently. This comment from winna was less than a week ago.
posted by misha at 11:23 AM on January 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


"Y'all" can work sometimes, but it's pretty regional and can seem affected if you're not either in the South or from there.

Not picking on you, more using this as a jumping-off point: In the way that we (for various definitions of "we") have made "guys" be gender-neutral, we can remove the regionalism from "y'all," and already is in some contexts, because people who are not from the South decided to use it anyway, and after a bit in their linguistic circles, it sounded less and less like dialect.

For all that I do often use "guys" as a genderless word, I use y'all a ton as well, and I think I will do what I did in college, when a bunch of us in the Women's Issues League decided to try to not use gendered words like "guys" and so we, on our New England campus, began deliberately using "y'all" and "folks" and "people" instead. It took practice and it sounded a little forced at first, but very soon didn't sound weird at all. It's a choice that can be made.
posted by rtha at 11:35 AM on January 8, 2015 [9 favorites]


The serious move is to the unlovely and abrupt Western North Carolina/Eastern Tenn y'uns (you ones). E.g., Are y'uns going to the store?
posted by OmieWise at 11:38 AM on January 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


In Northern Ireland we use "yousens". Y'all may borrow it if you wish.
posted by billiebee at 11:44 AM on January 8, 2015 [4 favorites]


yinz
posted by infini at 11:50 AM on January 8, 2015 [6 favorites]


Yog sothothins.
posted by maxsparber at 11:52 AM on January 8, 2015


I already said I plan to refrain from using it because some folks find it offensive, so your lecture is out of place and patronizing.

(a) You are not the only person in this thread or being addressed, as you are not the only person going on at great length about how how many people do or do not think this is okay; perhaps you might note the only explicit name used in my comment which was not yours.
(2) You're still digging around for supporting justification even after this comment to me where you take offense.

If you felt lectured to or patronized I think maybe that's on you. And it seems understandable you might take it that way, given your actions and words, despite that I did not mean it that way.
posted by phearlez at 12:14 PM on January 8, 2015 [8 favorites]


On the internet, y'all will always sound affected to me. In real life, it only sounds affected if you don't have a southern accent. If you do, it is merely grating.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 12:32 PM on January 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


In a casual context, I like peeps. It's fun to say, and we tend to inflate and then lose all sense of form under duress.
posted by halifix at 12:54 PM on January 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


Y'all can also be often found in African American vernacular all over the US. I use it a lot mostly I think because I picked it up from listening to a lot of hip-hop as a teenager and it's very useful. But hey, I also mix in "folks" and "Howdy!" as a greeting so maybe I'm just a vocabulary weirdo. Take whatever works from whatever source.
posted by Drinky Die at 1:04 PM on January 8, 2015


phearlez: "Be the person you want to be, people will perceive you and your actions according to their feelings. You don't have to give a damn, you just have to live with their perceptions."

in a thread originally about a trans girl's suicide in desperation about how people perceived her. classy as fuck.
posted by Corinth at 1:04 PM on January 8, 2015 [7 favorites]


Misha: If we have decided that...
Phearlez: Why does it have to be "we" deciding anything? Some people have said they dislike it. You can choose to die on that hill, as amortphatist clearly has...


Yeah, that sure looks like you were responding to me. If you are now saying that was a response to amortphatist, "the only person" you named...well, I think that you chose a really weird way to word that comment, then.

I also was not "digging around for supportive justification", I was fixing a link! And the link was to Illustrate that "guys, guys, guys" has been in pretty widespread use both on the Internet and here on Metafilter as recently as last week, so maybe it is not surprising for some people, me included, to say, "Huh. I didn't realize this common thing, X, is perceived as insensitive and offensive now. When did that change in perception happen?"

Maybe you feel that the X has always been offensive, people using X already knew it was offensive, and have been using X because their intent was to offend people? If so, I disagree. I don't get that impression at all.

I see a lot of people, like me, who used X because X is an accepted thing among their peers. And they didn't see it as an issue here on Metafilter before this thread.

Pointing that out is NOT AT ALL THE SAME as saying, "Screw you, I will keep using X on Metafilter if I want to!"
posted by misha at 1:35 PM on January 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


It's true, I post stoned a fair amount.
posted by Invisible Green Time-Lapse Peloton at 1:45 PM on January 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


You are making this super personal and ascribing things to me I didn't say or intend to imply. You were among the people I was addressing but not meant to be the only one. Regardless of your beliefs, bona fides, intentions, or whatever, you are doing a fantastic job of being over-the-top defensive about this in a way that is not remotely supported by anything anyone said to you, including me.

Personally I think of these terms as gender-neutral as well, and I don't think using them that way is indicative of some personality flaw. Did you need this absolution from me? I can honestly say I could not give less of a damn about your word choice in this way. So there you go: I do not care about this specific usage, whether you did or will use it this way in the future, or you specifically, one tiny little bit. You may stop feeling attacked about this.

What I do care about, and am tired of, is endless word lawyering about what what percentage of the world thinks something is okay and acting like there's some absolute answer or that they can browbeat other people into agreeing that they shouldn't be bothered by something. It is why I made a general statement that doing so is pointless and dumb because it's unnecessary. Absent mod intervention people (which means everyone, not specifically but including you) can say whatever they like. They are just going to be judged accordingly if they have decided they don't want to honor people's pronouns or avoid certain words some people think are loaded/problematic.

You don't mean to do that? Great. But quite frankly your above extended story comes across as part and parcel of that. It blends in super well with O and amortphatist and all the rest of the usual suspects in the oh-hey-but-it's-not-really crowd. You don't want to look like you're doing that? Then maybe you should stop looking like you're doing that. Or you can just not care what I think it looks like. I think that is a very reasonable position to take about other people on the internet and I certainly encourage you to do it over making up more things that maybe I feel.

Oh, and hey, Corinth? That was a lousy thing to imply.
posted by phearlez at 2:17 PM on January 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


If you felt lectured to or patronized I think maybe that's on you.
...
Did you need this absolution from me?


Some of your responses do come across a bit preachy, e.g. with granting 'absolution' and all.

I like folks.

I do too, and Obama seems to have been part of the recent rise of folks, but I think it seems to imply a distance or lack of intimacy, e.g. 'those folks over there' (that I don't know) vs 'tell the guys to get ready', so not a drop-in replacement for guys/lads/etc.
posted by amorphatist at 2:43 PM on January 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


To me, that looks like a comment which features a Twitter exchange where someone has tried to shame a boy for being too feminine, and they've had a reply saying how much they'd love and accept him instead.

That's her. That's the kid who killed herself. Anyway, it's gone now; so thanks, mods! I figured it just escaped notice/wasn't understood.
posted by byanyothername at 3:11 PM on January 8, 2015 [4 favorites]


I wonder how much of this entire argument is based on expressions common to the region a person lives in or grew up in. I've only lived in the Western/Southwestern USA - five states - and "guys" has been as common as a collective term for a group of people as the word "people" is - for the last 60 years or so. Only in the last few years have I heard "dude" applied to women as well as men; I hear that mostly from young people to other young people, usually as an exclamation, as in, "Dude! That's just bad!" I think it's kind of cute and if anyone called me dude in that manner, I'd chuckle about it. I would not feel that I was being addressed as a male - but that's just me. I've only heard "lads" as a British term - or Irish or Australian - never as an American usage for a group of mixed-gender people. As for "ya'll" - that's pretty clearly a term from the Southern part of this country and heard almost exclusively with a southern accent or as part of black dialect, which I think is very interesting and colorful and fun to listen to - but for me to imitate it would be wrong, in my view, since what it would sound like would be imitation and fake. And as for the apostrophe moving one letter to the left to make it read like something different, it doesn't sound like anything different and therefore carries the same tone of trying to be something I'm not just to fit in.

President Obama uses "folks" a lot and it works well for him because he has to be able to include loads of people in everything he says because his crowd is usually made up of mixed everything - gender, race, party, age, etc. So even though I find the term a little more intimate - as in we're-all-one-big-happy-family intimate - it still works, it's warm and respectful and shouldn't offend anyone, although I wouldn't bet any money on that (the Republicans will probably claim to be offended by the term before long because Obama uses it so often). "People" is what most of us end up using in our written material more often than not, but it means one either has to make a series of five- or six-word sentences or use the word three times in one sentence - either way, we look like our writing skills are at the 4th-grade level. As for "peeps," that's a cutesy one - we can try it, but somehow I think it will grow old before long.

I'd like to be able to follow the idea behind the thread without the sudden application of brakes while we go off on a tangent about a word someone used that offended someone else. I'm overwhelmingly sad about Leelah and I know it was the words her parents used that hurt her so much, but seriously, it wasn't the words as much as it was the attitude behind them. Her vulnerability was in her gender expression and that's where they went for the hit - that's what killed her. And that had a helluva lot more impact than her volleyball coach at school - in a mixed gender class - saying, "Guys, please - you can do better than this!"

If we cave in over every word that pops up and offends someone somewhere, we'll devolve to a 100-word vocabulary. What matters is not the word, but the intent; was it meant to hurt or humiliate or was it spoken/written with no harm intended at all.
posted by aryma at 3:37 PM on January 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


> If we cave in over every word that pops up and offends someone somewhere, we'll devolve to a 100-word vocabulary.

doubtful / improbable / unlikely / dubious / questionable / implausible / incredible / inconceivable / preposterous / far-fetched / ludicrous / risible ...

Absurd.

posted by Westringia F. at 3:54 PM on January 8, 2015 [8 favorites]


Eh, I don't buy the slippery slope "we'll lose all words!" alarmism any more than I buy the idea that intent is all that matters. Be considerate, and if someone says "actually I prefer X/don't care for Y", just say "my bad" and abide that. It's not rocket science. It's OK to be wrong or mistaken sometimes, folks, your world will not come crashing down.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 3:56 PM on January 8, 2015 [11 favorites]


Why this thread is still open is beyond me.
posted by edgeways at 4:01 PM on January 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


So you can get a word in.
posted by MrMoonPie at 4:03 PM on January 8, 2015 [9 favorites]


What matters is not the word, but the intent; was it meant to hurt or humiliate or was it spoken/written with no harm intended at all.

Intent can not and should not be the only measure by which harm is measured. Does it count? Sure. Does it count more than the effect? No. How do we know this? Because people have told us so. Because I'd bet that in your life, you have been hurt by things people have said, even when they have not intended them to hurt. I bet that someone saying it doesn't matter didn't magically make the hurt go away. And I bet that sometimes, someone has flung an insult your way on purpose, but it didn't hurt you because you didn't care about that person or respect them, or know them.

You can "should" all you like, but it won't change the reality that words can and do hurt, even if people have other intentions.

Arguing that having to think before we speak will lead to tiny vocabularies is just silly.
posted by rtha at 4:04 PM on January 8, 2015 [11 favorites]


If we cave in over every word that pops up and offends someone somewhere, we'll devolve to a 100-word vocabulary.

This is clearly bullshit. I've found attempts to take a lot of oppressive language out of my vocabulary to be a great chance to figure out better ways to use words; a lot of the oppressive stuff I'm trying to take out can be pretty cheap uses anyway. I spend a lot of time in an IRC channel with a bunch of trans women and so I have been avoiding using "man" as a general exclamation and "guys" as a collective noun for the group that I'm addressing because a lot of them can be pretty sensitive to that kind of shit (and for good reason!); from a social justice perspective I don't want to heap any more shit on an already super oppressed group (also, they are my friends and I love them and I don't want to say anything that is hurtful; they get to decide what hurts them, not me). It's a generally pretty silly crowd and pretty accepting of silliness and a bit of stiltedness, so it ends up being a great place to test new exclamations to use instead of "man" or "dude", including swearing by many different deities and stuff like that. I've been leaning towards "comrades" and "kids" as collective nouns, which can raise eyebrows but doesn't oppress anyone, which is worth it to me.

The whole "oh god they be TAKIN MY WORDS" response is just so shitty, both because it fails to recognize or care that language can be hurtful and oppressive and because it fails to recognize an opportunity to be cognizant of one's own speech, to improve one's vocabulary, to make the words coming out of one's mouth more beautiful and expressive and both contemplatively and decoratively accurate. I've been in a love affair with English for as long as I can remember, and to me that means that while I may use the language as a weapon on occasion, I don't want to swing it around like a amateur with a pair of nunchuks and end up hitting random people and/or myself. It's bad form and it makes you look like an asshole.
posted by NoraReed at 4:14 PM on January 8, 2015 [18 favorites]


"And as for the apostrophe moving one letter to the left to make it read like something different, it doesn't sound like anything different and therefore carries the same tone of trying to be something I'm not just to fit in."

Y'all is the standard spelling. Google's ngram viewer of its corpus for y'all and ya'll (click the button and the search will work) shows y'all to be about ten times more common than ya'll. Merriam-Webster's online dictionary has an entry for y'all but not for ya'll.

Also, I grew up in a region where y'all was prevalent and it was part of my idiolect but my pronunciation wasn't Texan/southern. Assuming that it's an affectation in the absence of an accent is a mistake.

With regard to offense, as rtha says, intent isn't entirely unimportant, it does matter, but it's not decisive. No one thing, in isolation, is decisive. People often argue for simple and universal rules about these kinds of things, though almost without exception doing so to support their preference and habit and not really as some deliberative process to decide their behavior. Regardless, it's pretty clear that if you were to sincerely try to discover some rule for deciding these things, you'd end up with a big, complicated equation with a large number of variables. Intent is one, offense is another, but there are more. For me, what it really amounts to is how much I'm actually encumbered in altering my behavior in comparison to how much others feel harmed if I do not.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 4:28 PM on January 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


I just imagine ya'll as a shortening for "ya all" and "y'all" as a contraction for "you all". I use "shortening" instead of "contraction" in a similar vein; it's not really the strictly accurate term, but ya'll know what I mean.
posted by NoraReed at 4:31 PM on January 8, 2015


Metafilter: swing it around like an amateur with a pair of nunchuks
posted by ctmf at 4:31 PM on January 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


you better tagline that shit I had to google the spelling
posted by NoraReed at 4:38 PM on January 8, 2015 [4 favorites]


Ha, that's my new favorite visualization for not choosing words intentionally when speaking.
posted by ctmf at 4:49 PM on January 8, 2015


Arguing that having to think before we speak will lead to tiny vocabularies is just silly.

This is clearly bullshit.


Of course it is. It's an exaggeration - an over-the-top stretch into nonsense - a perfect example of the foolishness of overdoing anything. Terms like "mansplaining" and "cis" and "sealioning" are fine, but the use of "guys" is offensive to someone, so the correct and polite thing to do is to not use the word here anymore.

rtha says intent has little to do with it, but I disagree strongly. When a black person is harmed because he's black it carries an entirely different message than if the same person is harmed because he was standing around like everyone else and got caught in the crossfire. I've been hurt by mean words directed at me personally, of course, but if someone makes a snide remark about old people it doesn't mean anything to me except that the speaker is going to get a visit from karma one day - it's no big deal - it just shows ignorance. Sometimes I'm told I'm a "cute little old lady" - that drives me nuts because "cute" isn't a term I'd apply to myself at the best of times, but still the "old lady" part doesn't bother and none of it does in the long run because the intent has no hate or rejection in it. Even if they said that all old ladies like me are ugly things, I'd just laugh. Now, if a person looked right at me and said, "You're an ugly old hag, you know it?" I'd be mildly offended, but that's because it's antagonistic and aimed directly at me personally. If someone I love told me, in seriousness, that I was an ugly old git, I'd be hurt as all get-out - because I'm invested in people I care about and want them invested in me, too; those people matter, and intent matters - but just general comments don't bother me much.

Think about the teenage boys with their pants hanging down to their knees. Oh, how people do go on about that - it makes the critics look so foolish to me because I was around when they were young and I happen to know that they looked pretty silly themselves with some of their signs of rebellious youth. So did I, for that matter - and just before me was the James Dean / ducktail / leather jacket / hot rod look for boys and - get this - poodle skirts for girls.

It is bullshit. It's ALL bullshit. And dumbing down the vocabulary is an exaggeration, yes, but like many nonsensical things, there is an element of truth therein.
posted by aryma at 6:00 PM on January 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


No, no, no. The holding your pants up thing the kids do is its own unique kind of stupid that isn't comparable to other odd fashion trends.
posted by Invisible Green Time-Lapse Peloton at 6:18 PM on January 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


> rtha says intent has little to do with it, but I disagree strongly.

You are disagreeing with something I didn't say:

> Intent can not and should not be the only measure by which harm is measured. Does it count? Sure. Does it count more than the effect? No.
posted by rtha at 6:25 PM on January 8, 2015


Intent can not and should not be the only measure by which harm is measured. Does it count? Sure. Does it count more than the effect? No.

Well, that entirely depends upon the person. For me, intent is supreme.
posted by amorphatist at 6:50 PM on January 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


That will be decisive in conversations you have exclusively with yourself.
posted by phearlez at 7:01 PM on January 8, 2015 [10 favorites]


When a member of an underrepresented group (or an ally thereof) informs me that my language can be read as a reinforcement of a status quo that includes them only as an afterthought, I choose to reveal my intention to be inclusive by changing my language. I do not feel that revealing my intent by constraining myself in this way "dumbs down" my vocabulary at all; in fact, I don't even feel it constrains my expression in any significant way. (If it did, the problem would be the paucity of my vocabulary, not the consideration.) If anything, it makes my vocabulary more thoughtful and allows me to be more expressive, since by constraining my choice of language I express another facet of my intentions: to be considerate and inclusive.

If it all boils down to intent for you, you might wish to think about the intentions you're expressing.
posted by Westringia F. at 7:07 PM on January 8, 2015 [11 favorites]


Uh, a major part of intent for me is to consider what I say that might be offensive to the listeners. There's also a general culture of people empathizing and listening on MeFi, and it's rude to consistently argue for an individual's words over the feelings of people.
posted by halifix at 7:43 PM on January 8, 2015 [5 favorites]


That's her.

It was? I hadn't seen a picture. Well then I apologise, and you're completely right to complain, that was shitty.
posted by gadge emeritus at 7:45 PM on January 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


> Well, that entirely depends upon the person. For me, intent is supreme.

Good, since the intentions of "our resident SJW brigade" are good ones! To try make peoples' lives better, to try to get people to be aware of their blind spots, and to generally reduce acts of racism, sexism, homophobia, and the like.
posted by rtha at 9:15 PM on January 8, 2015 [7 favorites]


On the topic of "y'all" vs "ya'll" I'd like to say that after living the great majority of my life in the places where such things are said, that the former is familiar and much more inclusive. It's weird, and not easy to hear - there is 'you who I associate with' and 'you who are different' and that is the way I personally separate the contractions.

I'm sure there are people who see it differently, but if you include me in "ya'll", I will feel like you intend for me to not be close to you. Of course, there are regions I've never stepped foot in and so if you-like-me-all isn't so different from you-unlike-me-all as spoken, then I'll accept it and just go back to wondering who really means what and when because a word is harder to read than a face.
posted by timfinnie at 10:46 PM on January 8, 2015


Good, since the intentions of "our resident SJW brigade" are good ones!

Well, they say they are. It's possible their actions might be seen as running contrary to that. Fox News will maintain until the heat death of the universe that they're not racist, but it's easy to see how someone would think their actions don't match up with their words. Being a self-declared SJW does not automatically make one on the side of the angels.

Things are complex and frequently subjective. Taking things at face value, especially online, isn't a great strategy.

(Personally, I think intent matters more than some say, but is not the supreme override, and the power to change does not always solely reside with the offender. But that's just me.)
posted by gadge emeritus at 11:17 PM on January 8, 2015 [5 favorites]


Instead of "guys," I try to use "everyone" or "all of you." As in "hey everyone," or "hey all of you." Y'all works too, but can be complicated outside of the South.
posted by wuwei at 12:16 AM on January 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


wuwei you'll appreciate the fact that I learnt to say Y'all from a classmate in KL, whose mum was from HK but whose dad was a from a farming family in rural GA. He'd tend to use with the requisite slow drawl...
posted by infini at 12:23 AM on January 9, 2015


Well, they say they are. It's possible their actions might be seen as running contrary to that.

So... you're saying intent isn't the most important thing?

I'm confused.
posted by Deoridhe at 12:45 AM on January 9, 2015


Well, I said intent is important but not the only thing that matters, so it's more that it might be the most important thing but it's not the only thing.

Oh, and that just because someone says something doesn't make it true.
posted by gadge emeritus at 2:44 AM on January 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


Gadge, rtha was clearly responding to amorphatist.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 5:00 AM on January 9, 2015


> Well, I said intent is important but not the only thing that matters,

I quoted amoprhatist above because that's specifically who I was responding to, yes. The little caret next to the quote links to the comment, which is handy when threads get long/move fast. Even when they're not I'm trying to make a habit of using the script consistently.
posted by rtha at 5:35 AM on January 9, 2015


It's not like there was a productive conversation to join at any point. There is no punch and there never was: it's all piss. There is literally no point to this thread beyond verbal vomit.

You do understand participation in meta isn't mandatory, right?
posted by cjorgensen at 6:37 AM on January 9, 2015 [4 favorites]


Ugh, I don't know if I formatted that link in my right, but it was just a site search showing people on Metafilter doing the, "guys, guys, guys" thing really recently. This comment from winna was less than a week ago.

Dang if I knew that my use of a common meme-ish phrase would be entered as exculpatory evidence in a conversation about how using guy to reference a trans woman is tacky I'd've not bothered to make the joke.

Also what the hell re: dragging me into the conversation.
posted by winna at 7:15 AM on January 9, 2015 [9 favorites]


I'd've not bothered to make the joke.

Didn't realize you were being sexist/exclusionary when you made that joke? Well, you weren't. Context and intent matter.

Also what the hell re: dragging me into the conversation.

You just got delautered.
posted by amorphatist at 8:28 AM on January 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yes, rtha was clearly replying to someone else. However, as it wasn't a private conversation but instead an ongoing thread, I felt quite free to add my opinion, as is common on this website. And then Deoridhe quoted me and asked for clarification and I gave it.

This was hardly unfathomable behaviour.
posted by gadge emeritus at 8:37 AM on January 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


amorphatist, you're trying too hard, guy.
posted by Invisible Green Time-Lapse Peloton at 8:39 AM on January 9, 2015 [10 favorites]


Oh, sure, gadge - sorry, I was just making clear something that might've not been clear, which was that I was replying specifically to someone who says intent is the only thing that matters. I agree with you that it isn't, as I've said above.
posted by rtha at 8:40 AM on January 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


amorphatist, at this point, you're just being a complete asshole. Find something else to do.
posted by empath at 8:59 AM on January 9, 2015 [5 favorites]


You just got delautered.

[extremely convincing laugh track]
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 9:12 AM on January 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


Inasmuch as this thread is tempting assholes to double down on their assholery and get themselves banned, I say keep it open.
posted by tonycpsu at 9:13 AM on January 9, 2015


All else aside I'd actually kind of like it if people could take a better approach to saying "this person's behavior sucks" than throwing around personally-targeted variants on asshole and testing the line on metatalk deletions.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:17 AM on January 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


You're absolutely right. That was wrong of me.
posted by tonycpsu at 9:17 AM on January 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


> For me, intent is supreme.

So you don't apologize when you accidentally step on someone's foot?
posted by languagehat at 9:37 AM on January 9, 2015 [11 favorites]


You do understand participation in meta isn't mandatory, right?

It basically is with some issues. I have no idea why you keep making these comments, though, especially since way up you were making comments about the thread going off-rails yourself.
posted by byanyothername at 9:50 AM on January 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


Didn't realize you were being sexist/exclusionary when you made that joke? Well, you weren't. Context and intent matter.

This is not the gotcha you seem to think it is, given that context matters.

The long and the tall of it is that people have different values. Some people value individuality and pushing back against perceive authorities, and those people will often engage in pushing back against a given norm even if the norm is being kind and caring toward members of the group, or taking context and effect into account when deciding what words to use; part of the point of the "individuality" in this context is standing out, the means of doing so are immaterial (as is the fact that by rebelling against a local norm one is reinforcing a greater, more generalized norm).

It's one of the interesting effects of cultures which value "individuality". Members tend to voluntarily conform and police conformation through unofficial means. Hence the US being highly "individual" while pink and blue are more gendered now than they have ever been in the history of color (and inverted from what they were gendered sixty or seventy years ago).
posted by Deoridhe at 12:13 PM on January 9, 2015


"and inverted from what they were gendered sixty or seventy years ago"

I don't think that's quite true. By the postwar period, things had settled into the association we're familiar with today. But you probably meant something like 90 years ago. The problem with that, though, is that the evidence for that opposite association is limited and weak -- there's only a few sources, and one of them (the Earnshaw's Infants' Department quote) is ubiquitous and heavily relied upon in pieces about this (and more often than not wrongly attributed to the Ladies Home Journal ).

From what I've been able to discover, in the US there wasn't this gender-color association at all until beginning of the end of the nineteenth century, and then there was a period where associations were weak and opinion was quite varied (and when we have these few pink=boys/blue=girls sources), and then that slowly worked itself to the association that we have today, being standard by the postwar period.

The whole "it used to be exactly the opposite!" thing really sticks in your brain, though, and I think over the last eight years I've had to research this several times. It's come up on MeFi fairly often over the years.

† Although maybe LHJ reprinted the Earnshaw's thing? Reliable sources have it as Earnshaw's and the ones that attribute the quote to LHJ do so also for June 1918 -- so I'm inclined to see this as a bit of folklore where as it has been passed along, somewhere along the way the attribution was "improved".
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 1:21 PM on January 9, 2015


Hey, winna, I am sorry I upset you by linking to that comment.

I would be upset, too, if I thought someone was bringing me into "a conversation about how using guy to reference a trans woman is tacky"! I think it is not only tacky but ugly misgendering to call a trans woman a guy and I am not in any way arguing in favor of that.

I thought this discussion--and if I'm wrong, anybody, please chime in because I do want to know if winna's take is the correct one and I am screwing up here!--arose over the use of the plural guys as a gender neutral pronoun?

I was just saying that guys seemed like it was commonly used that way here and I had no idea anyone felt minimalized until this thread but now that I do, I will refrain from using guys that way in discussion here.

I tried to link to a bunch of people using "guys, guys, guys!" that way to show why I had that impression, but screwed up the link, and, winna, yours happened to be the most recent usage of that my search found. That's the only reason why I linked to it.

I wasn't trying to bring you personally in the discussion, and certainly not to support discrimination. I can see why you might feel attacked, though, especially given your impression of what this thread is about.

I apologize for putting you in that position.
posted by misha at 1:54 PM on January 9, 2015


So you don't apologize when you accidentally step on someone's foot?

I don't apologize if my shadow falls on somebody's foot.
posted by amorphatist at 2:02 PM on January 9, 2015


> I don't apologize if my shadow falls on somebody's foot.

Don't change the subject. If intent is all that matters, and you step on someone's foot with no intent to do so, then you shouldn't apologize. If you do, then you recognize that intent isn't all that matters, and you're just using it as a figleaf for your actual refusal to engage with people's reactions in this context.
posted by languagehat at 2:26 PM on January 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


You realize that you don't get to decide whether or not something causes someone harm/pain/whatever, right? This is less like your shadow falling on somebody's foot and more like your shadow falling across someone's entire person in a way that many, many other shadows do on a regular basis and also that person is a plant that actually needs sunlight and so you are contributing to a significant reduction of quality of life for that person. I wrote a post on microaggressions a while back that you can find from my profile if you want more information on this subject.
posted by NoraReed at 2:26 PM on January 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


I don't apologize if my shadow falls on somebody's foot.

That wasn't the question. Correct me if I'm wrong, but weren't you annoyed earlier in the thread when someone didn't answer a specific question of yours?
posted by billiebee at 2:52 PM on January 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


I don't apologize if my shadow falls on somebody's foot.

I've tried a few times to write a reply to this in the most diplomatic way possible, but all I can manage to say is your participation in this thread has come across as gleefully dishonest goalpost moving mixed with a certain pride in trying to set people off. There's more than a few people here trying to engage with you in good faith. I can't tell if you're having a laugh or you honestly can't understand the points people are trying to make, but comments like this say to me that you probably just don't give a shit either way.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 3:43 PM on January 9, 2015 [12 favorites]


Well beyond anything that 0 did here, for sure. I understand that was a history based move, but I'm still confused about why this has to be part of our present.
posted by Drinky Die at 3:50 PM on January 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


I don't apologize if my shadow falls on somebody's foot.

Don't change the subject. If intent is all that matters, and you step on someone's foot with no intent to do so, then you shouldn't apologize. If you do, then you recognize that intent isn't all that matters, and you're just using it as a figleaf for your actual refusal to engage with people's reactions in this context.


I'm not changing the subject, but I didn't think I'd have to spell this out, but here we go. If I step on somebody's foot, I would apologize, because I've inadvertently violated their bodily integrity, personal space, and may have caused them physical distress.

The reason I used the shadow example is that I don't concede the notion that any inadvertent behavior of mine that another person claims causes distress to them is something that I automatically - by the claim of their distress - will apologize for, or refrain from doing. To concede that principle is to grant essentially arbitrary discretion for another person to dictate my (non-physically-interacting) behavior based upon their preferences. I may choose to do so, depending upon the person/context/explanation, but I don't concede the principle that anybody's claimed distress due my words (or my shadow) should be determinative.
posted by amorphatist at 4:23 PM on January 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


So you don't apologize when you accidentally step on someone's foot?

I would apologize for stepping on the person's foot even if the person was at fault for putting his foot where mine should go - out of simple civility. What I would NOT do, however, is turn my focus to the person's feet and make absolutely certain that I get nowhere near them ever, ever again, never allow that person's feet or anyone else's feet to come close to my own because I might just accidentally find someone's foot in a place where my foot is planning to step.

If I did change my focus to the feet of those around me, I'd soon lose focus on the faces of other persons, on their demeanor, on their body language, on the words they say, on the personality and even on the laughter and joy that we could share, and the tears also, of course. Because I'm dancing around trying to be careful not to get my feet anywhere near theirs.

Amorphatist speaks to the delicate touch of the shadow and how the person being stepped on by the shadow would actually have to be on high alert to even be aware that someone's shadow has stepped on them. I don't understand what the problem is with that idea except that the opinion is counter to that of the standing army.


Aya Hirano's "gleefully dishonest goalpost moving mixed with a certain pride in trying to set people off" is about as diplomatic as my "standing army."
posted by aryma at 4:37 PM on January 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


Mods, please, please close this thread. It's been so long since the horse died, it's not even dust any more.
posted by dg at 4:41 PM on January 9, 2015 [6 favorites]


Sorry about the "standing army" bit - I'm a little tired of what I see as targeting in these threads. I notice there are rarely comments on the gray from those who have been piled on with great enthusiasm in the past - they just sort of stay out of whatever the uproar of the day is; I doubt that that's a coincidence.
posted by aryma at 4:41 PM on January 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


> "I notice there are rarely comments on the gray from those who have been piled on with great enthusiasm in the past - they just sort of stay out of whatever the uproar of the day is; I doubt that that's a coincidence."

Unless you've been keeping some kind of systematic, ongoing tally of who's gotten "piled on with great enthusiasm in the past" and who participates in MetaTalk (which I doubt), this assertion is based entirely on subjective impression, not facts.
posted by Lexica at 4:50 PM on January 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


Aya Hirano's "gleefully dishonest goalpost moving mixed with a certain pride in trying to set people off" is about as diplomatic as my "standing army."

Do notice I said "tried to be" diplomatic "but". As in, I gave up trying to phrase that sentiment nicely. I resent the implication that people participating in good faith are engaging in some sort of "pile on", not least of all with your use of some kind of militaristic imagery (see also "brigade" or "squad") with what is to all appearances a conversation; not a ruthless attack. Pretty ironic considering your opinion about being on "high alert".
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 4:52 PM on January 9, 2015


Re: Mandatory Participation In MetaTalk.

> It basically is with some issues.

It may feel this way, but really it's not.

I have no idea why you keep making these comments, though, especially since way up you were making comments about the thread going off-rails yourself.

My comments weren't about whether the conversation at hand was worth having, but rather if this was the correct place. I was advocating for starting a thread that dealt with the Kane issue directly rather than using a nearly dormant thread on another topic to have that talk. To hijack a thread about deletions to complain about an individual was off to me. You can make a case that this is off as well, but I disagree. It's part of a conversation. It's neither a non sequitur, nor is it me coming in and saying the way people are discussing something sucks and they should stop.
posted by cjorgensen at 4:56 PM on January 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


MrMoonPie: "I remain steadfast in my refusal to use they as a singular pronoun, though."

meh, to each their own.
posted by terrapin at 5:26 PM on January 9, 2015 [9 favorites]


I see what you did there.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 5:29 PM on January 9, 2015


The reason I used the shadow example is that I don't concede the notion that any inadvertent behavior of mine that another person claims causes distress to them is something that I automatically - by the claim of their distress - will apologize for, or refrain from doing.

Are you really still allowed to call a behavior "inadvertent" when you've been asked repeatedly by multiple people to stop doing it? Isn't this like someone asking you to step out of their light so they can get shit done and then distracting them from the work they're attempting by yelling at them about how they should just carry a flashlight if they wanted to see?
posted by NoraReed at 8:10 PM on January 9, 2015


Oh, sure, gadge - sorry, I was just making clear something that might've not been clear, which was that I was replying specifically to someone who says intent is the only thing that matters.

I know from having read many of your comments before that you're well able to read and articulate yourself, so I'm surprised you've lapsed this badly, this publicly. I said intent was supreme to me, which to needlessly spell it out for you, means that intent is *the* most important element to me, more important than any other such as how another person interprets it. That does not meant intent is the only thing that matters, but you already knew that, because you can read.
posted by amorphatist at 8:21 PM on January 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


Are you really still allowed to call a behavior "inadvertent" when you've been asked repeatedly by multiple people to stop doing it?

What behavior are you talking about? Misgendering or something? You should really go read the thread and see if what you think you're het up about is something you can actually point to with links to the specific instances? Try it if you want, and be specific if you can. You'll fail at that, but if "stop doing it" means some vague shite about not being an 'ally' of whatever your program is, then that's unlikely.
posted by amorphatist at 8:30 PM on January 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


I was talking about the lads thing and those of you who are ~so offended~ by the idea of avoiding gendered collective nouns to refer to mixed or unknown groups that you're apparently incapable of changing your behavior and/or shutting up about how terrible people are for wanting you to actually consider your words
posted by NoraReed at 8:47 PM on January 9, 2015


Are you really still allowed to call a behavior "inadvertent" when you've been asked repeatedly by multiple people to stop doing it?

I was talking about the lads thing


Point to the instances where I misgendered persons with 'lads' after being asked repeatedly not to do so? You would show your work if you could.
posted by amorphatist at 8:50 PM on January 9, 2015


amorphatist, I don't think this "taking on all comers" approach is working out, probably best to take a step back.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 8:52 PM on January 9, 2015 [6 favorites]


mathowie, I agree it's tiring and I'm sure more so for you given that you have a whole other contentious thread to manage, but I'd appreciate if you asked "all comers" to also back off calling me out on behavior which they imagine and/or preferred I'd engaged in, as opposed to what's readily accessible upthread if they choose to read it, NoraReed's unsupported assertion being the most recent.
posted by amorphatist at 9:04 PM on January 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


Time to agree to disagree and be done with it for me - so enough.

I am, in general, a pretty compassionate person who doesn't intentionally irritate people and I'm not easily irritated myself, but neither am I a therapist who works carefully and deliberately with clients in order to make life easier on them and not trigger any negative feelings or thoughts.

I have two friends who have advanced cancer. One of them participates in a forum for breast cancer and the other doesn't involve herself very much with support groups or forums. But on these forums and also from my friends I hear many complaints about being stared at when wearing a headscarf but obviously having no hair, about nasty remarks from people who mutter about them taking up privileged parking spaces when they don't look sick, about family judging their choices about which therapy to agree to and which to reject, even the shocking awareness that some people deliberately draw their children away from them so they don't get "exposed" to cancer - or the one lady who works in an office where a coworker always wipes her phone and desk off with a antibacterial/antiviral wipe when she thinks my friend isn't looking. There's some ugly shit going down out there, folks, and people who are dealing with it every day; sometimes they talk about it, but usually they're just too damn tired to bother with it.

I think there's a certain amount of perspective that we seem to bypass a lot here with threads ending in a quagmire of mostly muttering on both sides. There is no real answer - it's just people being who they are.

Anyway, this person is over and out for this day. Bye.
posted by aryma at 9:36 PM on January 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


Just... what?
posted by jaguar at 9:42 PM on January 9, 2015 [6 favorites]


Let's recap:

The reason I used the shadow example is that I don't concede the notion that any inadvertent behavior of mine that another person claims causes distress to them is something that I automatically - by the claim of their distress - will apologize for, or refrain from doing.

Are you really still allowed to call a behavior "inadvertent" when you've been asked repeatedly by multiple people to stop doing it? Isn't this like someone asking you to step out of their light so they can get shit done and then distracting them from the work they're attempting by yelling at them about how they should just carry a flashlight if they wanted to see?


Here Nora is picking up on this extended metaphor of yours about shadows and such. She is asking if, in the event multiple people had asked you to stop doing the "lads" thing, you'd still continue to maintain that your behavior is wholly inadvertent. I imagine this is connected to the many people in this thread who've already made it quite plain they don't see "lads" as gender neutral. Rather than putting two and two together and possibly coming to the conclusion that multiple people saying "I don't think this word is gender neutral" might mean it's time to re-think using this word in this way on this site at least, and reach instead for any of the multitude of gender neutral plural words at our disposal (because hey, wouldn't hurt and there's strong evidence it might help a lot more than digging in your heels over this), we're at this corner where you're (humorously? sincerely? I can't even tell anymore) recommending it to others as a word for groups of mixed genders, and actually saying things like "I know you can read" and "show your work" while (again) baselessly accusing someone of being "het up" in this discussion, none of which is helping.

Everyone's aware you're free to decide for yourself what plural pronouns you intend to use around here, and if that's where you want to plant your flag as you face off against a perceived SJW brigade, knock yourself out. I just wonder what good it does and if it's really worth it that much.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 10:10 PM on January 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


cjorgensen, again, I sincerely have no idea what the distinction you're trying to express is. That derails about other issues of the site belong in their own threads? That conversations unfold organically? I just don't see where I disagree or why you kept going back to this. I expressed dismay at the way this thread, like nearly every MeTa I've watched from the peanut gallery, unfolded because it was a bad conversation to have at every turn it's taken. We can disagree on that, and that's fine, but I think it really is worth considering if it's worth it to even indulge these kinds of MeTas in the first place anymore. Specifically to this thread, I thought it in bad taste to complain about deletions of comments judging suicide in the original thread, and in bad taste to let the conversation get hijacked multiple times, ending in a rather frankly insulting detour about debating whether or not to use words that are clearly gendered in standard use. This thread began as being about a trans girl's suicide. That it ended up as a petulant back and forth about calling everyone "guys" (something I don't have strong feelings on itself, but context) is absolutely lacking in perspective.

On mandatory participation, there are certain topics where those with any kind of investment essentially are required to watch the thread and chime in with corrections and elaborations and explanations and educating, or else the conversation veers off into bad/problematic/harmful directions. That's true of any topic, really, but some carry extra weight if they speak to our lived experiences. You're right that participation anywhere online isn't forced, and I'm definitely clinging way too tightly here, but there are plenty of threads where I feel that, if I don't show up, if a small number of other users don't show up, the thread willl end up going to an ignorant or bigoted place. That's a terrible feeling, but it isn't just a feeling; it's an issue with multiple topics and I don't really know what the solution is beyond the non-answer, "Don't look at threads on topics that you have knowledge and interest in."

I have more thoughts, but I'm tired and expressing myself poorly here anyway.
posted by byanyothername at 10:21 PM on January 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


> . I said intent was supreme to me, which to needlessly spell it out for you, means that intent is *the* most important element to me,

No, I understood you quite well. Your intent is supreme to you. Other peoples' intents, not so much, as you made clear in the contemptuous SJW brigade comment. I heard you twice the first time.
posted by rtha at 10:25 PM on January 9, 2015 [5 favorites]


No, I understood you quite well.

As a person capable of doing the ">" link thing (which I truly like, I think I'd like to adopt that pattern myself), you've surely paid enough attention to this thread to have seen mathowie's intervention above, so why don't we both try to roll with the sentiment he expressed for as long as we can both contain ourselves? I know I've expressed opinions unpopular with you and your fellow travelers, but out of respect for the mod request, my hands are tied in responding to you.
posted by amorphatist at 10:45 PM on January 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


Ok, I love you all but I'm removing this thread from recent activity.
posted by infini at 11:04 PM on January 9, 2015


Folks, I'm going to go ahead and call it a night on this thread. If there is a need to address how we use gendered pronouns on the site, that would probably work better as a new (calm, considered) Metatalk posted a little later.
posted by taz (staff) at 11:08 PM on January 9, 2015 [14 favorites]


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