What are Meta's Values? February 6, 2015 4:28 PM   Subscribe

On its face, this site appears to be an instantiation of some of the best promises the internet has for humanity. For example: an open forum for collaboration, exchange of ideas and information, expression of unfettered art, science, and journalism. Central and vital to all of these things is freedom of speech. Anathema to these ideals is the way this site seems to be run, with censorship being a very common occurrence, I have noticed.

I even see at the top of the screen "After you submit your post it will need to be approved by a moderator before it appears on the site." (That is kind of ominous, what is that about? There is a backlog, posts are going to be screened and cut rather than the capacity of throughput be increased?) Who would *you* entrust with such a power to decide what is appropriate and not, what deserves to be heard and what does not? Especially in the times we are in now in our society, where freedom of speech and civil liberties are fraying all around us, shouldn't this site be a holdout where democratic values remain vibrant?
posted by incolorinred to Etiquette/Policy at 4:28 PM (54 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

Ok, just to recap, today you had your first Ask MeFi comment deleted. You made a small joke about snakes & the Occupy Movement in a thread where someone was looking for non-chemical alternatives to fixing their slow draining plumbing.

Below the Ask MetaFilter comment box, there's a small reminder message:
Note: Ask MetaFilter is as useful as you make it. Please limit comments to answers or help in finding an answer. Wisecracks don't help people find answers. Thanks.
That's all there is to this incident. You made a joke, it wasn't an answer, and we try to keep Ask MetaFilter threads on topic so someone flagged it as noise and I later deleted it. This isn't really a freedom of speech or civil liberties issue, and I don't think the site's democratic values are in danger of not being vibrant enough.

The site is moderated, we have a flagging system and human moderators that do their best to keep the site free of noise and derails and awful things and that's kind of the way it's always been so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
posted by mathowie (staff) at 4:32 PM on February 6, 2015 [221 favorites]


"Censorship" can support the best humanity has to offer by removing the worst that humanity has to offer. A lot of why MetaFilter is as high quality as it is is because it isn't unfettered - people chose to fetter themselves, and we are moderated as well by moderators we know and trust who are held responsible for their decisions and are remarkably transparent about those decisions.

As for your question about the MetaTalk queue - it was put in place permanently at the end of May.

If you wish for unfettered self-expression - I suggest Blogger or Wordpress.
posted by Deoridhe at 4:40 PM on February 6, 2015 [21 favorites]


Who would *you* entrust with such a power to decide what is appropriate and not, what deserves to be heard and what does not?

The mods!

Next question?
posted by mudpuppie at 4:42 PM on February 6, 2015 [125 favorites]


Cor, all this time I've been participating in an anathema to central vital ideals of the best promises the internet has for humanity, and I never knew.
posted by Wolfdog at 4:43 PM on February 6, 2015 [31 favorites]


You made a small joke about snakes & the Occupy Movement in a thread where someone was looking for non-chemical alternatives to fixing their slow draining plumbing

It clearly should have been deleted, because AskMe is a really great and genuinely helpful resource precisely because of the "censorship" that stops it getting filled up with lulz and noise. But I just had to say that's the funniest sentence I've read today.
posted by billiebee at 4:47 PM on February 6, 2015 [61 favorites]


Cor, all this time I've been participating in an anathema to central vital ideals of the best promises the internet has for humanity, and I never knew.

I won't tell you about all the sex you missed out on.
posted by mudpuppie at 4:47 PM on February 6, 2015


mudpuppie: "Who would *you* entrust with such a power to decide what is appropriate and not, what deserves to be heard and what does not?
The mods!
"

Yeah, the same people we've always trusted. In the same way, they trust us not to get all upset every time they delete something that didn't really add any value to anything anyway.
posted by dg at 4:48 PM on February 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


On its face, this site appears to be an instantiation of some of the best promises the internet has for humanity.

Yeah, that's because it's MODERATED.

If we didn't have this so-called censorship you decry, this site would be like all the other unmoderated sites, and you wouldn't be praising how wonderful and special it is.
posted by yohko at 4:49 PM on February 6, 2015 [30 favorites]


Who would *you* entrust with such a power to decide what is appropriate and not, what deserves to be heard and what does not?

Adults with a reasonable sense of responsibility and a dedication to a basic, ongoing level of accountability to the community they serve. That's pretty much what we as the small handful of moderators on Metafilter aspire to in our work here. You're welcome to ask about the details; averring censorship in the broad case without very specific and damning examples isn't a great way to go, there, though in the spirit of Metatalk it's more or less okay to try to do so even if it's misguided. We'll just tell you we disagree and why.

There is such a thing as an unmoderated space, and they have their own kind of specific and limited utility, but this is not one of those spaces. We aim for pretty limited moderative influence on conversation in general here—more so especially on Ask Metafilter, where there's a strong utility-driven "answer the question" directive for comments, than on on other parts of the site—but if your expectation is for no moderation at all, or moderation only of the most exceptionally vile or unreasonable content, you may have unrealistic expectations for this place.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:50 PM on February 6, 2015 [34 favorites]


Curation of a privately owned and run site is not censorship. The government deciding what you can and can't publish is censorship. Does this thread really need to continue?
posted by uosuaq at 4:51 PM on February 6, 2015 [69 favorites]


This isn't Reddit or 8chan, and the mods and their moderation practices are why. Thanks, mods!
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:58 PM on February 6, 2015 [28 favorites]


This has got to be a joke, no? Look at all those SAT words.
posted by Literaryhero at 4:59 PM on February 6, 2015 [16 favorites]


Does this thread really need to continue?

Excellent question. I'd say no.
posted by Aizkolari at 4:59 PM on February 6, 2015


And I mean seriously what is it about getting a comment or post deleted that inspires pomposity? Your comment was contrary to policy, it was a dumb joke rather than something meaningful or helpful, it's gone. Boo fuckin' hoo. Don't make this out to be Brown vs. the Board of Moderation.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:00 PM on February 6, 2015 [19 favorites]


Silenced all my l
posted by Dip Flash at 5:01 PM on February 6, 2015 [15 favorites]


If anyone wants a more productive place to make comments, I've got a song in Music that could use some more.
posted by Wolfdog at 5:01 PM on February 6, 2015 [6 favorites]


Pixels on a page, just pixels on a page.

That's what I tell myself if I feel myself getting worked up over anything I write on the Internet being deleted, challenged, even praised (on rare occasions).

Just pixels on a page. Let it gooooooooooooooo.
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 5:02 PM on February 6, 2015 [9 favorites]


Also, and that's an important distinction, with the flagging system healthy and well, the moderators are most of all curators of this site, not a gang of better-than-thous who are implementing some obscure values-for-the-better. It's the community that reacts, and the mods who more or less act on everyone's behalf; pretty democratic system.
posted by Namlit at 5:03 PM on February 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


instantiation

This is the worst word! Just saying it must hurt. Let me offer you a nice $.25 word in exchange for never seeing this one again on Metafilter:

Ninguid.

Now that's a tasty word.
posted by selfnoise at 5:04 PM on February 6, 2015 [11 favorites]




If I'd lift a sherry on every one of my silly comments that went *poof*, I wouldn't be here
posted by Namlit at 5:05 PM on February 6, 2015 [4 favorites]


We have had this conversation so many fucking times. Why is this even here?
posted by desjardins at 5:10 PM on February 6, 2015 [7 favorites]


new players, new boo-hoo
posted by Namlit at 5:11 PM on February 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


But this player has been on the site for two years. While that's not geezer standards, it's hardly new.

I'm bumfuzzled by this meta, though. Like... wha?
posted by tzikeh at 5:14 PM on February 6, 2015 [5 favorites]


After the searing counterarguments you're going to get to the ridiculous assertion that moderation on Metafilter meaningfully contributes to 'freedom of speech and civil liberties [...] fraying all around us', you're going to wish that the mods were Minitrue apparatchiks throwing your words down the memory hole.
posted by amery at 5:18 PM on February 6, 2015 [11 favorites]


well look, if its truly their first comment that was deleted, that's 100%, and boy that hurts
posted by Namlit at 5:18 PM on February 6, 2015 [4 favorites]


First they came for the off-topic jokes about snakes & the Occupy Movement, and I said nothing...

Where will it end?
posted by alms at 5:20 PM on February 6, 2015 [4 favorites]


Who would *you* entrust with such a power to decide what is appropriate and not, what deserves to be heard and what does not?

In all things, trust in Atchoum.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:22 PM on February 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


> (That is kind of ominous, what is that about? There is a backlog, posts are going to be screened and cut rather than the capacity of throughput be increased?) Who would *you* entrust with such a power to decide what is appropriate and not, what deserves to be heard and what does not? Especially in the times we are in now in our society, where freedom of speech and civil liberties are fraying all around us, shouldn't this site be a holdout where democratic values remain vibrant?

Mathowie et al. This is fine as it is.

> Especially in the times we are in now in our society (...)

This is such an empty statement that Haribo should make sugar-free gummies out of it.
posted by boo_radley at 5:22 PM on February 6, 2015 [11 favorites]


Aw, instantiation is a great word if you're doing OO programming. I instantiate stuff all day long when I'm getting up to some serious code design. It's very liberating.

But this player has been on the site for two years. While that's not geezer standards, it's hardly new.

It's easy to forget that people who don't spend as much time as some of us here on a daily basis aren't likely to be up to speed on the stuff that seems old hat to the rest of us. Someone can be a little misguided and still be okay; explaining what's up is part of what Metatalk is for, and sometimes that's enough for folks to listen and sort of get caught up on the actual nature of this place vs. their knee-jerk reaction to something.
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:23 PM on February 6, 2015 [22 favorites]


Instantmininations?
posted by clavdivs at 5:25 PM on February 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Cortex makes a good point about people's familiarity with the site and its culture. I was "on" Metafilter for a number of years before I looked at it as much more than another place to get interesting links (like the old memepool or digg), and maybe make a comment or two. I still remember the day I noticed a little white "envelope" icon on the page and clicked it to find I had 5 or 6 emails, all of them at least a year old, all of them unanswered by me since I wasn't even looking. (The bright red circle in the new theme is *way* better, BTW.)
That said, I'm still wondering if there's a standard amount of time a MeTa thread is supposed to stay open, or if we can just put this one to bed now...
posted by uosuaq at 5:31 PM on February 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


That said, I'm still wondering if there's a standard amount of time a MeTa thread is supposed to stay open, or if we can just put this one to bed now...

Or we can use it for our Friday Night MeTaSpiral....

pancakes?
posted by tzikeh at 5:32 PM on February 6, 2015


Yeah, it doesn't really feel like we're in the "help the person understand site norms" area now. Well, we are, but not in the way we're supposed to be.
posted by The corpse in the library at 5:34 PM on February 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


sigh.
posted by Justinian at 5:36 PM on February 6, 2015


I want to share something and it doesn't really fit anywhere else, so I will just drop it here.

The last apartment I lived in was nice, except for one issue. The toilet in the master bedroom was like a half inch lower than it should have been. You might not think it is a big deal, but it was. Seriously, totally disconcerting to have a slightly low toilet. I found myself prefering to use public restrooms (ugh!) even, and finally had to move out because it was so off-putting. Now whenever I am checking out apartments I always sit on the toilet because that half inch is a deal breaker, man.
posted by Literaryhero at 5:39 PM on February 6, 2015 [44 favorites]


Damnit. I read above the fold and said to myself "I bet anything you want that this is about the MRA post."

Now I owe myself a coke. And I don't even like soft drinks.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 5:47 PM on February 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


I'm imagining that this came about because a friend bet incolorinred that he couldn't make a Metatalk post that wouldn't devolve into bread puns. Hence the very specific word choices.
posted by tofu_crouton at 5:47 PM on February 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


You can just adjust the float arm. C'mon.
posted by boo_radley at 5:47 PM on February 6, 2015


I want to share something and it doesn't really fit anywhere else

Have you considered that there may be a reason for that? Like, maybe we don't need a section of MetaFilter devoted to making me wonder Is my toilet too low? Too high? Too something??? for the rest of time?
posted by Etrigan at 5:49 PM on February 6, 2015 [14 favorites]


Whoa, like that subway station with the slightly-off step that trips everyone up!

I could swear I've sat on toilets of slightly varying heights with little problem, though. How standardized is toilet seat height?
posted by Metroid Baby at 5:49 PM on February 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


It was the alligator lore whuddnit.
posted by clavdivs at 5:49 PM on February 6, 2015


For example: an open forum for collaboration, exchange of ideas and information, expression of unfettered art, science, and journalism. Central and vital to all of these things is freedom of speech.

20-30 years (or however long it is now) of experience on the internet has proven over and over that good moderation is key to making all those good things happen, including freedom of speech.

Take out the moderation and you end up with exactly zero of the positive things you list in your post.

The absolute freedom of speech part comes into play, in the fact that you are welcome to set up your own web site or forum anywhere you want, moderate it however you want, and say whatever you want on it.

If you have a lot of off-topic noise on your site, and all the other things that happen when you don't have good, strong moderation, you probably won't have many folks joining you there--but that's where the other folks' own freedom of choice comes into play . . .
posted by flug at 5:51 PM on February 6, 2015 [6 favorites]


Toilets that measure between 17 and 19 inches in height from the floor to the top of the seat are considered Comfort Height toilets, whereas traditional toilets measure below 17 inches in height. Many Comfort Height toilets are also ADA-compliant when installed per the applicable guidelines.

*The More You Know....*
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 5:52 PM on February 6, 2015 [5 favorites]


Hey cool, I'm adding a bathroom to the house right now and was wondering about ADA compliance. Anybody know what the counter height should be?
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 5:54 PM on February 6, 2015


and a bread oven, please
posted by Namlit at 5:56 PM on February 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Holy shit, dude, just settle the fuck down and stop being such an enormous nerd.

This is basically my reaction to a good 80% of MeTa.
posted by The Master and Margarita Mix at 6:03 PM on February 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


I shall give unto you a gift, the gift that my father, in his wisdom, gave to me, and his father gave unto him, and back, and back, and back. This advice has served me and mine well lo these thousand years:

Lurk moar.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 6:04 PM on February 6, 2015 [19 favorites]


Unmoderated fora quickly become unofficially moderated by intimidation and bullying.
posted by Sys Rq at 6:06 PM on February 6, 2015 [40 favorites]


So I never broke out a tape measure on the toilet, so Im not sure exactly what height it was. But, it looked normal until you sat on it, so it wasn't obscenely low, just wrong enough to be disconcerting.
posted by Literaryhero at 6:07 PM on February 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Maybe the floor was too high?

Seriously, though, how long does this thread need to be? I can understand if we're waiting for incolorinred to have a chance to reply.
posted by uosuaq at 6:10 PM on February 6, 2015


mods close the thread now before someone else buttons out.
posted by dhruva at 6:14 PM on February 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Unmoderated fora quickly become unofficially moderated by intimidation and bullying.

Shut up, newb.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 6:15 PM on February 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I guess this is fully asked and answered, though I was kind of waiting for a response from incolorinread, but I can close it up since it's kind of nothing but silliness now.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 6:16 PM on February 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


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