Is this a queue? February 13, 2015 2:54 PM   Subscribe

noun 1. BRITISH a line or sequence of people or vehicles awaiting their turn to be attended to or to proceed.

I don't think how Metatalk is currently operating can any longer be described as a queuing process. It appears to me now to be closer to a vetting process. The original queue was about delaying Metatalk posts during limited times when moderator attention would not be available to properly handle them. As it currently stands, it seems more about moderators engaging in editorial control, or at least cajoling, over the content of the posts in order to promote a more productive discussion.

That isn't necessarily a bad thing. The history of pre-queue Metatalk is littered with disastrous and idiotic threads that could have gone a lot better with improved initial presentation. That can't be denied.

At the same time, it's a little bit weird to have the only venue in which the membership can publicly field site issues be so directly pre-screened by site management.

I don't really have any strong "This is what I want..." opinion with this Meta. I just kind of think it's a conversation we need to have to set up expectations going forward since it seems like the queue is definitely here to stay long term and we have all had a little time to get used to it now.

Full disclosure:

I recently submitted a Meta that didn't see the light of day. The moderators told me they had some stuff to look into on the topic and asked me to wait. It was good that they did, because the issue that most concerned me resolved itself even without a Meta and if it had been immediately posted it would have been a big pain in the ass for everybody because it was a contentious topic.

I was mainly motivated to see if we might want to have some more discussion on this by what happened here. A consequence of delay to get a post to a framing the mods thought might work has led to Meta-Meta stuff creeping over to the blue a bit. That's something that could happen more in the future without a more immediate Grey outlet pipe.

So, TLDR: What are the benefits and drawbacks of having moderators evaluating closely all Metatalk posts prior to posting? Is the current handling working out for everybody and should we stick with it going forward? Are there any pros or cons to the current system I have missed?
posted by Drinky Die to Etiquette/Policy at 2:54 PM (254 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

As it currently stands, it seems more about moderators engaging in editorial control, or at least cajoling, over the content of the posts in order to promote a more productive discussion.

As we've said in a couple previous discussions about this, the stuff that we're talking to people about rather than immediately posting is essentially the same stuff that would have been deleted or promptly closed prior to the establishment of the queue, or in some cases borderline stuff that we'd end up arm-wrestling with hugely (and not always successfully) to try and push it back in the direction of an at all productive discussion despite problematic initial framing.

As much as possible, we're working with them to make a revised draft more workable, or to an extent to be sure they understand how problematic it's gonna be if they really do insist on posting it as-is with the borderline stuff. Mostly that's worked out well; on a couple occasions we haven't heard back from folks or couldn't find any sort of reasonable compromise on super problematic framing.

I recently submitted a Meta that didn't see the light of day. The moderators told me they had some stuff to look into on the topic and asked me to wait.

Yeah, which was an especially weird situation in that case, and we totally appreciate you being understanding about it. I still think the general issues you were raising there are fine to revisit in a post at some point if you decide you want to.

I was mainly motivated to see if we might want to have some more discussion on this by what happened here.

We promptly contacted that poster about the framing of their metatalk post, which as it came in was unfortunately basically "let's have some more of the argument we're already having" rather than broaching a meta/community issue in a way that was gonna go anywhere. We explained that and suggested a way to rework it; if they've gotten back to someone, I don't know about it, as there was no reply to the mod mailing list attached to the contact form.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:03 PM on February 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


I don't think how Metatalk is currently operating can any longer be described as a queuing process.
[...]
That isn't necessarily a bad thing.

I think you nailed a bit of the damned if you do, damned if you don't nature of this. It is good we're asking people to reframe or rewrite posts about contentious subjects, but it does incur a delay, especially when people don't get back to us for days after.

First off, we are trying to make dealing with MetaTalk mesh more with daylight hours when more of what little mod resources are around, and it works for that, though in practice it adds delays to some posts.

Further, we're hoping and aiming to reduce the number of MetaTalk posts where everyone ends up fighting and buttoning up and flaming out, so we're more often asking people to reframe posts that might be seen as an attack on a specific user, so that they are instead more generally about behaviors or activities on the site we can have discussions about.

In practice, almost every thread goes through immediately still, though perhaps on the order of once a week we ask users to consider a rewrite. About half the time, users either don't get back to us or many days later write back saying they have either found their answer or are no longer interested in posting it.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 3:10 PM on February 13, 2015 [9 favorites]


It's pretty nice that mods get to enter the first comment if they wish; seems to short circuit a lot of derails.

What is the average queue time of posts that eventually get posted?
posted by Mitheral at 3:10 PM on February 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


What is the average queue time

It would be a weird average where 90%+ are <5min and a few are a day or so.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 3:13 PM on February 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


I agree that letting the mods get the first comment is valuable.

My only concern is that I've heard/read Matt's "building a community" philosophy and based on that, MeTa is supposed to be an escape valve which is now denied a bit. Maybe that doesn't matter as much now that Metafilter is pretty mature, or maybe something like Chat fills that function now.
posted by michaelh at 3:13 PM on February 13, 2015


What is the average queue time of posts that eventually get posted?

I'm not sure if we have the data to determine that automatically (though we could do so by hand-flogging some email metadata I suppose), but strict average would be a little misleading anyway since the took-two-days-to-hear-back cases would draw that way up.

The median post goes up inside of ten or so minutes, though, I'd say; most of 'em basically get approved as soon as whoever is on duty gets a chance to read through, with the smaller remainder being stuff that's for some reason needing some time or conversation.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:15 PM on February 13, 2015


MeTa is supposed to be an escape valve which is now denied a bit

I think most of us can agree that some MetaTalk posts in the past have gotten very heated, and it was usually because they started off hot and just got hotter. I don't think those are a net positive for the community, especially when you end up with situations where half a dozen people quit the site over "an escape valve". I think injecting a bit more civility into MetaTalk discussions is a good thing so we're trying to make sure posts are started off right.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 3:15 PM on February 13, 2015 [22 favorites]


MeTa is supposed to be an escape valve which is now denied a bit.

It's tricky, because I think there's a lot of potential value in the relief valve idea, and that the queue can get in the way of that potential is my least favorite thing about having it.

But on the flip side, the form that relief valve has taken has not always actually been a net good for the site in practice. A lot of memorable cases of metatalks going up during tense moments in the community were real shitshows, between the high emotions involved and the sort of no-holds-barred perception of this section of the site. Being able to slow down the process when someone's mad as hell and not really thinking a post through is an upside of the queue process; again, this would account in significant part for stuff that pre-queue would have been nixed or closed down real quick.

I feel like us getting back promptly to folks about framing problems is about the best compromise we can manage short of just dispensing entirely with the idea of the queue; it bums me out a little bit that that can end up leaving someone feeling bottled up, but the distinction between the current setup and a notional carte blanche of the pre-queue system isn't really so stark in practice; the difference was as much one of having pretty visible messes and ill-considered posts deleted or shut down vs. us trying to work with folks ahead of time on those.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:21 PM on February 13, 2015


I think the "relief valve" idea is based on a flawed premise that fighting reduces fighting.
posted by jaguar at 3:26 PM on February 13, 2015 [47 favorites]


The worry is that without an escape valve a blue thread might enter meltdown. That hasn't happened but I can imagine some scenarios in which it could potentially occur even with mods on hand and doing their best. That isn't a reason to change the current system, just saying keep an eye on that. There might be a moment to rush something through the queue even if it isn't well framed.

"I think the "relief valve" idea is based on a flawed premise that fighting reduces fighting."

A relief valve is more about moving the heat, not erasing it. Keep it out of the blue.

Letting mods get in the first word is a nice middle ground to settle on if the decision is to shift more back to queuing rather than vetting. It would be telling the poster, "Yes, no matter how dumb this is we are going to eventually post it if you say so but we are going to make sure the readers see how we want to frame it at the same time and wait until we are ready to handle the backlash to post it."

I think that would work fine, but it's not at all incompatible with the mods offering feedback during the intervening time so it's barely a change. It boils down to, "Should the moderators be able to block a Meta if the reader absolutely refuses to back down?" (Assuming the content isn't something obviously inappropriate.) I think that is probably a super edge case, but for some reason I feel it might be an important question about the philosophy of the grey.

Thanks for the really thoughtful feedback on this, mathowie and Cortex and Mefites.
posted by Drinky Die at 3:32 PM on February 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


A relief valve is more about moving the heat, not erasing it. Keep it out of the blue.

I understand that's the idea, but I don't think it works. When people are being increasingly grar-y in MeTa, they tend to become increasingly grar-y in the main MeFi thread, too, from what I've seen (the mods could certainly confirm or dispute this better than I can, though). I think it especially breaks down for people who are using Recent Activity to keep up with threads; I know that I actually forget which threads are MeFi and which are MeTa when something's being simultaneously discussed in both.
posted by jaguar at 3:40 PM on February 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


I dunno, my own impression is that a lot of the reason the grey is perceived as so toxic is because it sucks up a lot of vented toxicity from the blue. I think you are right we should defer to the mods expertise on that though. I end up in grey threads on topics I'm amped up about. I don't see the general survey.
posted by Drinky Die at 3:43 PM on February 13, 2015


Vetted all my life.
posted by Invisible Green Time-Lapse Peloton at 3:47 PM on February 13, 2015 [9 favorites]


my own impression is that a lot of the reason the grey is perceived as so toxic is because it sucks up a lot of vented toxicity from the blue

I think turning off your computer and going to shout into a pillow before returning is a better long-term option for getting along with others online though.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 3:48 PM on February 13, 2015 [22 favorites]


I don't think how Metatalk is currently operating can any longer be described as a queuing process.

I don't have a terminological problem with it. For one thing, even real-life queues don't come with a guarantee of service; you can be rejected for bad behavior, for being in the wrong queue, and so on. For another, "queue" is widely used on other sites for just the kind of timing/vetting process that happens here (e.g. Livejournal).
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 3:55 PM on February 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


I think turning off your computer and going to shout into a pillow before returning is a better long-term option for getting along with others online though.

I used to do that, but now I have one of those new Yahoo! E-Pillows that constantly displays my favorite websites on the pillow surface. It...it wasn't the best $3500 I ever spent.
posted by Drinky Die at 3:56 PM on February 13, 2015 [20 favorites]


I have an idle hypothesis : that the longer a metatalk thread is, the greater the chance of someone quitting the site. Barring the rare threads where we're patting ourselves on the back, a quickly resolved metatalk thread seems to be in everyone's interest.
posted by dhruva at 4:07 PM on February 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I have been a believer in the escape valve view, but recent internet shittiness has me thinking that hey, maybe we don't need to host a place for people to be shitty to each other.

(Disclaimer, this is just me talking, for myself, not any kind of policy announcement)

Plus, just an observation, people sometimes have wildly incorrect expectations about how their MetaTalk post is likely to go. Like someone will post angrily, and in a really vulnerable or heat of the moment over-invested frame of mind, and they post something maybe they expect will yield a supportive chorus or a thoughtful reconsideration of other people's behavior or comments... But it's obvious that instead, they are going to get an angry negative reaction (which will feel hyper personal to them and often will actually be unnecessarily personal) because of their framing of the post and because other folks are also angry or over invested in whatever the live issue is. So if that post goes up right then, we have a guaranteed big fight, nastiness ( which historically had been allowed to stand on Meta Talk in a way it just isn't on the blue), maximum hurt feelings, buttonings, etc... That kind of thing, to me personally, doesn't yield improvement in actual site issues. It is almost like a trap for very upset people who are least well situated to deal with (what will feel like) an angry personally-critical pile-on. I feel like those threads almost always suck, and suck worst for the person who posted them. Plus i think shitty fighty threads create an expectation of what kinds of behavior are expected or tolerated, and set the parameters within which people will self-moderate, so the more nastiness we have, the more nastiness we have. I think it would be great to have less nastiness.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 4:25 PM on February 13, 2015 [23 favorites]


it's a little bit weird to have the only venue in which the membership can publicly field site issues be so directly pre-screened by site management.

It's a little bit weird, sure. It's also a direct result of lower staffing and was pretty much specifically introduced and framed as that. As such, it makes sense. Part of this is that you have to trust the mods and trust that they are mostly using the queue as what they say it is: a queue and not as a way to basically keep people from being able to post MeTa threads. I trust them. Other people may not.

I agree with LM that some people seem to want to have MeTa be a place where there aren't any rules and they can just be awful to one another. That's no longer really possible (if it ever was) and I think it's a good idea if the mods look at ways to alleviate that. It might be better to be a bit more explicit "Hey, you can't really drag your fight here anymore" which used to be a thing that Meta was ... sort of for? Sometimes? But I think anyone who spends a lot of time here knows that is the case.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 4:27 PM on February 13, 2015 [8 favorites]


Good responses. I agree the key is that every frustration is allowed to be expressed if it can be said politely.

Unrelated question: do Fanfare or Projects threads ever need to be moderated? They're such nice little places, like hobbit holes.
posted by michaelh at 4:31 PM on February 13, 2015


I think the "relief valve" idea is based on a flawed premise that fighting reduces fighting.

I agree. Until the name changes to MeThunderdome, I am all for incrementally increasing the civility.

As an aside, I don't know if there is a precise measure for this, but I think this MeTa thread might have the highest ratio of moderator comments (current and retired) to user comments of any I have ever seen.
posted by Dip Flash at 4:33 PM on February 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


A lot of toxicity is shut down from the blue not by aiming it at meTa, but by deleting shitty comments and leaving mod notes.
posted by rtha at 4:33 PM on February 13, 2015 [10 favorites]


do Fanfare or Projects threads ever need to be moderated?

Yes.

(Also, the initial FanFare Game of Thrones posts got quite grar-SPOILERS; that reduced as norms got thrashed out, and as the option for show-only + books-included posts got added.)
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 4:43 PM on February 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


I just painted that door last week!
posted by clavdivs at 4:43 PM on February 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


So when I bitched via contact form the other day when I was ill and wanting to die about what, for me, is a hot button topic and mathowie graciously got back to me with assurances that this wasn't really anything in need of a MeTa, thereby saving me from publicly making an arse of myself, I was doing it wrong?

I don't think so.

And I think a lot of other MeTas that do make it to The Grey are as ill conceived as my never posted MeTa for which mathowie gave me a morning after pill before it could become an even bigger problem.

Thanks mat!
posted by Michele in California at 4:46 PM on February 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


Projects threads ever need to be moderated?

There have been a small handful of FanFare threads that got heated, but I don't think I've ever had to delete anything in Projects, which is kind of nice since it's been around for about 7 years.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 4:47 PM on February 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


as my never posted MeTa for which mathowie gave me a morning after pill before it could become an even bigger problem

To be clear, I want to mention MiC is talking about a contact form email about something I cleared up and gave my opinion on, not an actual queued MetaTalk post.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 4:49 PM on February 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


I don't think I've ever had to delete anything in Projects

Stuff has been deleted from Projects, though it's super-duper unusual and mostly about users with vendettas against other users following them around and being awful, if I recall correctly.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 4:54 PM on February 13, 2015


Stuff has been deleted from Projects

Yeah, that and a few servers/projects being long gone that people requested removal of.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 4:56 PM on February 13, 2015


Clerk: "Sorry, the law requires a five-day waiting period. We've got to run a background check."
Homer: "Five days? But I'm mad now! I'd kill you if I had my gun."
Clerk: "Yeah, well, you don't."
--

I prefer the transparency of a queue-less MetaTalk. But this place is noticeably more civil in some ways without it. Cooler heads.
posted by zarq at 5:14 PM on February 13, 2015 [9 favorites]


ques nirvana
posted by clavdivs at 5:30 PM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


but I don't think I've ever had to delete anything in Projects, which is kind of nice since it's been around for about 7 years.

Challenge accepted.
posted by Literaryhero at 5:44 PM on February 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


More on topic, I think the queue/vetting or whatever is a good thing. I have flippantly said some shitty things to people in MeTa when they were obviously upset and vulnerable, and while I realize that is my own crummy behavior I think that giving people time to cool off prior to a pile-on is a good thing.

As for my own behavior...we all strive to do better, right?
posted by Literaryhero at 5:47 PM on February 13, 2015


usually because they started off hot and just got hotter

Request: could we please have shitpost.metafilter.com as a dump for all the MeTas that don't make it past the queue process? Some of us are single this valentine's day and could use a little extra spice in our life.
posted by phunniemee at 6:05 PM on February 13, 2015 [8 favorites]


I think the vetting queue works just fine. In fact I'd be happy if it were a bit more discerning. Like an autoreject of any MeTa using the "censorship" tag unless it's a post about press freedom or Edward Snowden.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 6:51 PM on February 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


Is there any example of a metatalk topic that is so urgent that the discussion is hurt by postponing for a few days? (the actual act of reviewing information as opposed to the posters feelings)
posted by sammyo at 7:05 PM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


I used to love finding a nice grar-y post, literally making some popcorn and settling in for a good heated argument, but some of the posts over the last couple of years have been so ugly and toxic that I've sort of lost my taste for them. Strong disagreement can be fun to read. Watching people try to destroy each other isn't.
posted by double block and bleed at 7:07 PM on February 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


I prefer the transparency of a queue-less MetaTalk.

Visible queue with countdown timers!

/I know, I know
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:13 PM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


I like the editorial queue. I once submitted an angry MeTa just before a holiday weekend and was told they wanted to hold off posting it until Monday so that the mods would be back. Between then and Monday, someone else submitted a MUCH better MeTa on the same issue and thus I withdrew my post to defer to hers. IMO, the subsequent discussion went better than it would have if my kneejerk angry MeTa had been published right after I submitted it instead of being held for a few days and then replaced by a better post.
posted by Jacqueline at 7:42 PM on February 13, 2015 [7 favorites]


I have no problem with the queue -- in fact, I enjoy just typing that word -- but I still feel strongly that there should be an expectation of immediate, compulsory mod-driven summonses to Metatalk threads on the basis of someone else's indirect complaint.
posted by uosuaq at 7:58 PM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


I still feel strongly that there should be an expectation of immediate, compulsory mod-driven summonses to Metatalk threads on the basis of someone else's indirect complaint.

What does this mean? Can you give an example of how this would work?
posted by mathowie (staff) at 8:17 PM on February 13, 2015


Look at that, it's already been implemented! pb is amazing.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 8:23 PM on February 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


I think he meant fit the mods with shock collars that pulse when anything is flagged.
posted by Invisible Green Time-Lapse Peloton at 8:28 PM on February 13, 2015 [9 favorites]


Sorry, mathowie, I was just trying to tease cortex (who was on this thread earlier, but it looks like you're dealing with it now) and/or make him do a few seconds of extra mod work (i.e. deleting my comment) owing to what I felt was an unfair reading of my comments on the "why are we promoting Daesh" MeTa. Go ahead and delete.
posted by uosuaq at 8:29 PM on February 13, 2015


Maybe sponsor some kids to come up with a wifi-enabled shock collar using a Rasberry Pi and taser elements.
posted by Invisible Green Time-Lapse Peloton at 8:32 PM on February 13, 2015


[uosuaq is referring to this.]
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 8:34 PM on February 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


I miss the queue-less days, and think the queue strips a lot of the democratic feel from the site. I wish the queue would disappear.
posted by Greg Nog at 8:42 PM on February 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


I had a recent full-of-grar-and-anger MeTa rejected because of the queue.

I am unambiguously glad that happened.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:51 PM on February 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


Spelling tip:

In order to remember how to spell queue (because I used to mess it up every time), just remember that two instances of ue are standing in a queue behind the q.

P.S. - I don't remember if I learned this here or not.
posted by SpacemanStix at 9:05 PM on February 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


Half the time I only remember how to spell 'friend' because 'FRIday ENDs the week'
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:09 PM on February 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


two instances of ue are standing in a queue behind the q

What? No, it's the initials of the European Union, twice (because there are two letters in "E.U."), followed by the first letter of "queue", only right to left.
How do you even remember your mnemonic?
posted by uosuaq at 9:14 PM on February 13, 2015


Qveve.
posted by clavdivs at 9:19 PM on February 13, 2015 [28 favorites]


It's just so nice to see cortex embrace his dark side.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 9:33 PM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


As an aside, I don't know if there is a precise measure for this, but I think this MeTa thread might have the highest ratio of moderator comments (current and retired) to user comments of any I have ever seen.

To follow up on that aside, I don't think this is neccesarily a good thing. When a post is vetted by moderators and then the comments are filled with moderators I don't feel like there is much free discussion to be had. Same applies to having a moderator make the first comment.

To me it feels a lot like the moderators are looking at potential threads, saying "oh, I know how this shit will go down" and channeling the thread into a predefined groove. While I'm sure it reduces the moderator load it also prevents anything new from emerging.

Which may be fine. But there's always a cost when the jaded old cynical people are making the calls.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 9:44 PM on February 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


'jaded' and 'cynical,' despite my frequently-public clashes with moderation around here, are not words that I'd apply to the mods when I am in a calm frame of mind.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:03 PM on February 13, 2015 [12 favorites]


I'd say it beats a thread where people are wildly speculating and assigning sinister motives to mods before they get a chance to respond.

I mean, if the thread's about them, wouldn't you want to hear what they've got to say? I don't think it's so much steering the conversation as participating when appropriate. Other threads that are not about them mostly, like "please don't use this word" threads, they seem a lot less visible, popping in when someone drags them in with an inaccurate statement that should be addressed.
posted by ctmf at 10:12 PM on February 13, 2015 [12 favorites]


When a post is vetted by moderators and then the comments are filled with moderators I don't feel like there is much free discussion to be had.

I literally approved this thread as soon as I skimmed it, and typed a response because I was on duty, and that was ten minutes before shift change and so Matt was around to respond as well, hence the early double whammy. Unless the argument is that moderators literally shouldn't respond to metatalk threads about moderation practice, I don't know what to tell you; stuff clumps up sometimes. If that is the argument, I pretty heartily disagree.

There are certainly plenty of pre-queue examples of mod-heavy early responses to metatalk threads when chance worked out that way, to the point of folks making jokes about it when it happens. I still remember this one seven years later.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:37 PM on February 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


My cogimon/nic for Fearless ( scrolls up) Fecal Fear Mongering is: fivklemonger or 'mongo'.
So. Sorry mongo. I should address you as oh look a shepards hook.
posted by clavdivs at 10:47 PM on February 13, 2015


I'm totally okay with 'Mongo.' Sounds like the SFW nickname I might have acquired had I gone to a British public school.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:51 PM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Once upon a time Matt floated the idea of a talk page for every MeFi post to avoid the drama of MeTa.
posted by klangklangston at 11:24 PM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


I really dislike the ugliness that can emerge when it is or becomes just about one or two people. I guess that's one way of establishing community norms, but I don't know if it's the best way. A cooling-off period isn't a bad thing at all, imo. I think it might also be possible to hold the expectation that people refrain from ad hominems here, as on the blue.

I'm often surprised, by the way, at just how long people's memories are (I mean I know all the stuff is just here, but still).
posted by cotton dress sock at 11:25 PM on February 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


Sorry, that was Re: editorial model being ultimately better than wikipedia organic byzantine bureaucracy.
posted by klangklangston at 11:25 PM on February 13, 2015


I don't like the queue so much. I thought we were going to be able to talk about the use of 'lynch mob' in the Sacco thread but nothing appeared and the comment that said "honestly no, lynch mob is totally appropriate" stayed and that thread is horrendously ugly.
posted by zutalors! at 11:41 PM on February 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


Do you mean you posted to the metatalk queue about that and it didn't get approved? Because the passive voice isn't clear.
posted by Invisible Green Time-Lapse Peloton at 11:48 PM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


IGTLP in case that was aimed at me, the former.

And I am absolutely okay with it. The mods--cortex specifically--saved me from myself.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:52 PM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


I totally agree that having a "q" is simply NOT good enough.

A "q" will always be ineffective unless "u" and "i" are behind it, all the way. That's "d" only way to go, to use a demotic pronunciation (and we should choose not to be all snooty and la-dee-dah about such ways of speaking).

Some say that MeTa would still try the patience of a nun, but while we don't have "a nun" and can't "b (a) nun", a "nun" is nevertheless something we can "c", as nuns are visible to the unaided eye.

Put that all together, and whaddaya get? Vote #1!
posted by the quidnunc kid at 11:59 PM on February 13, 2015 [29 favorites]


Put that all together, and whaddaya get?

The logic is inexorable and inarguable. You have swayed me enough, sir. You have swayed me sufficient.
posted by Wolof at 12:10 AM on February 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


Oh ... right. Um, I'll shut up then now. Sorry MetaFilter - sorry, Wolof. Sorry mathowie. Sorry.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 12:14 AM on February 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


> IGTLP in case that was aimed at me, the former.

No, sorry, I was replying to the comment directly above mine but was too lazy to quote it on my phone:

> I thought we were going to be able to talk about the use of 'lynch mob' in the Sacco thread but nothing appeared

It's not clear if they mean they posted to Meta about that and the mods didn't approve it, or if they just expected that someone would make a post about it and ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
posted by Invisible Green Time-Lapse Peloton at 12:32 AM on February 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


Cortex mentions here, "We wrote to the poster about it at the time since it had some framing issues." I didn't see the mail, but I saw mod discussion about it, and as far as I know, we haven't heard back.
posted by taz (staff) at 1:49 AM on February 14, 2015


I prefer the transparency of a queue-less MetaTalk.

Visible queue with countdown timers!

That would be good to keep the Democratic feel, people would be aware of concerns other users had while still allowing the mods to do some pre-screening. However, it would also lead to a lot of grar when people boiled up about the subject waited and waited to post on it and either jumped in head first when it finally popped up or got all upset if it disappeared from the queue.
posted by Drinky Die at 3:04 AM on February 14, 2015


For what it's worth, any word beginning "mong" in a british public school would likely pejoratively refer to Down's Syndrome.
posted by Solomon at 4:17 AM on February 14, 2015 [5 favorites]


I don't understand all these mentions of democracy. This place isn't a democracy. Personally I'm fine with that.
posted by Too-Ticky at 4:34 AM on February 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


Yeah, it's a benevolent dictatorship, but one that does take very seriously considered feedback from the users to give it a Democratic feel. As long as the dictatorship remains benevolent, it's a very good system.
posted by Drinky Die at 4:41 AM on February 14, 2015


Cortex mentions here, "We wrote to the poster about it at the time since it had some framing issues." I didn't see the mail, but I saw mod discussion about it, and as far as I know, we haven't heard back.

One of the things about the queue that seems a little suboptimal to me is that if someone doesn't get back to a mod request for reframing, the mods just leave the thread in the queue. I wasn't reading that Sacco thread so I don't have strong opinions about that one in particular, but it seems like just letting the posted MetaTalk disappear is a letdown for people who knew the thread had been submitted to the queue and wanted to talk about the issue involved.

Not really sure if there's anything to be done about this, but it does leave sort of an impression of the mods washing their hands of a difficult thread. What happens if someone DOES write back to say they want their post to go ahead as they wrote it - will that happen? If so, could X days of silence from the OP be taken as rejection of the request to reframe rather than a reason to let the post go away?

Alternatively (because I realize there'd be problems with that first suggestion), in a thread where someone's said they've made a MetaTalk and therefore people are presumably expecting one, if the mods don't want to post it as-is, could you leave a note in-thread so other people know what's going on and will maybe try writing the thread they want to see? If nobody else takes it on themselves to post then perhaps the issue was a little too OP-specific and it's fine that it went away, but if someone else does post then there probably was a wider interest in discussing the matter at hand. That would at least help get the matter out of limbo, regardless of whether or not the OP responded ... I think?
posted by DingoMutt at 5:23 AM on February 14, 2015 [5 favorites]


Um, I'll shut up then now. Sorry MetaFilter - sorry, Wolof

I actually meant that your devastating argumentation and charm had indeed convinced me to vote #1 for your august self now and possibly forever. I have foresworn all other demonic interlopers until Thursday at 3, when a gentleman is calling to clean my gutters.

I shall now continue to knit angrily.
posted by Wolof at 5:29 AM on February 14, 2015 [13 favorites]


Have a hug* for being awesome Wolof.

*offer of hug is invalid for in-person hugs as the poster is allergic to human contact and only imaginary Internet hugs are intended as the offer quality. offer not good outside the continental US. offer may subject the recipient to flocks of bees and/or rains of beetles depending on season. all taxes, surcharges, medical expenses or other costs incurred by acceptance of offer are solely the responsibility of the recipient. no warranty is expressed or implied and no contract is made between the poster and the recipient. VAT may apply. please consult a doctor before accepting hugs from strangers, even Internet hugs.
posted by winna at 6:02 AM on February 14, 2015 [14 favorites]


What happens if someone DOES write back to say they want their post to go ahead as they wrote it - will that happen? If so, could X days of silence from the OP be taken as rejection of the request to reframe rather than a reason to let the post go away?

In my view, that'd depend on a couple things: (a) the nature of the issues with the post, and (b) the situation being discussed.

If the framing problems are pretty significant, we're likely to want to wait till we have some sort of concrete response from the asker, because often what significant framing problems mean with a metatalk is not just "this may be bumpier than necessary" but "this may be bumpier for the poster than necessary" and half the reason to contact them in the first place is to try and reality check the intent vs. impact angle of how they wrote what they wrote so we aren't basically just giving 'em enough rope. People, especially when they're immediately upset about something or not a veteran at making critical metatalk posts, often seem to not really appreciate up front how how they write a metatalk post can cause it to blow up in their face as a challenge of their framing and premises rather than a discussion of the thing they want to discuss.

If the framing issues are just sort of ehhhhh, not great but not This Is A Bad Idea As Written bad, it's less of a problem for us to just let it go through if we don't hear back from them promptly and the thing being discussed is actually sort of time-sensitive or higher profile, so that people can get to talking about it, and we'll try to steer around the smaller framing problems. If the framing issues are smallish but the topic's also really not time-sensitive in any sense, the proportional cost of waiting a bit vs. hanging them out to dry on their own framing problems still generally favors waiting, I think.

I don't have any more specific rubric I can lay out or anything; those are the broad strokes of how I think about it. Basically there are times when "well, we haven't heard back so we should just put this through" may indeed be what plays out but also times when it feels like that would be unfair to the poster, to the community, and to us, and waiting and prompting for a followup is the thoughtful approach.

Alternatively (because I realize there'd be problems with that first suggestion), in a thread where someone's said they've made a MetaTalk and therefore people are presumably expecting one, if the mods don't want to post it as-is, could you leave a note in-thread so other people know what's going on and will maybe try writing the thread they want to see?

Yeah, that's a good idea and would have been the best plan with that Sacco thread I think just for clarity. And it's definitely a queue-related wrinkle that the specific issue even existed there; pre-queue the dynamic generally went more like:

- [argument/dispute/whatever occurs]
- "Oh, take it to metatalk."
- [someone takes it to metatalk post, and then]
- "Fine, _here it is_".

Now we're in a position where it's possible for someone to declare their intent in the window between when they submitted it and when we've had a chance to communicate with them about any major issues. Which is a newer challenge, and one where, when it's come up so far, mostly we've gotten prompt communication back from that person and so were able to resolve it quickly enough that it wasn't a weird hanging issue. The times when that doesn't happen are tricky.

My wish list would include "don't declare you're posting a metatalk thread unless it's to settle the question of who among several people are going to attempt the post that everybody knows needs to be made; mention your post once it's actually up and you can link to it", but that's maybe a tall order so wish list is where it'll stay. In the absence of that, visible notes from mods when there's that sort of metacommentary declaration of intent is probably the best we can do.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:30 AM on February 14, 2015 [10 favorites]


winna: offer not good outside the continental US.

:'-(
posted by Too-Ticky at 7:42 AM on February 14, 2015


Unless the argument is that moderators literally shouldn't respond to metatalk threads about moderation practice, I don't know what to tell you; stuff clumps up sometimes. If that is the argument, I pretty heartily disagree.

A moderator showing up to talk in a thread about moderation is one thing, all of them showing up is another.

Take moderator status out of it for a moment and just imagine a group of five posters who are generally synced up with each other and who show up in threads together to argue their point. Do you want to be the one guy taking them on?

Now make them the authorities who have final say on any discussion point.

My suggestion is that team mod choose one or two spokespeople for a given thread and the rest butt out of it. Trying to convince a committee of anything is hopeless, and a lot of voices are going to save themselves the trouble of trying.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 8:50 AM on February 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


cortex: "I still remember this one seven years later."

Holy crap that post is 1/3rd mod comments.
posted by Mitheral at 9:02 AM on February 14, 2015


I don't really mean to take the mods' side there, but so what if the mods all respond to threads? They're really the only ones with skin in the game here, like it or not. You can take them on pretty much ad naseum provided you're relatively polite about it, so it's not like having a differing opinion is going to disqualify you from engaging if that's what you actually care to do.
posted by Invisible Green Time-Lapse Peloton at 9:10 AM on February 14, 2015 [17 favorites]


The thought of mandating one mod against the entire userbase seems burnout-inducing.
posted by jaguar at 9:13 AM on February 14, 2015 [11 favorites]


My suggestion is that team mod choose one or two spokespeople for a given thread and the rest butt out of it.

There were exactly two mods talking in immediate response to the thread, and that rather than one largely because of the chance posting-at-shift-change issue. LM didn't come along until an hour and a half later, to offer some thoughts that she even explicitly disclaimed as personal rather than policy rumination.

Take moderator status out of it for a moment

Why? I mean, I understand you're talking about a concern about many-on-one dynamics, but (a) it's actually many-on-a-whole-lot-more since Metatalk isn't a private conversation between only the mods and the poster, and (b) we can't remove the fact that we work here and are responsible for responding to questions about moderation policy and practice from the question of whether or not we'll show up to do our jobs. There's no taking moderator status out of the equation when the scenario is moderators responding to questions about moderation in the part of the site where we're basically obliged to be present. A discussion of why mods should have to draw straws to participate in our duties as if it's just some argument at a party doesn't work.

just imagine a group of five posters who are generally synced up with each other and who show up in threads together to argue their point.

Again, this isn't some abstract group conversation thing and it's not arbitrary arguments about whatever random topic. There's a handful of people who work here, and it's in our figurative job description to answer questions and discuss policy and user concerns in Metatalk. We're not showing up here to argue for the fun of it, we're showing up because that's our actual job and a significant part of our established role in this community.

For all that, what it comes down to is there's gonna be a varying amount of mod response to any metatalk based on how much it's a moderation/policy question vs. more general community chatter, how many folks happen to be around at the time (much of the time that number is, in fact, exactly one), how hard the thread is likely to be to deal with, and whether or not any given other-mod-who-is-around even has anything to say on the subject. It varies a lot, and organically. I don't think a suggestion to implement extra bureaucratic process to artificially limit that to some specific ceiling on every single thread makes sense, and given that the immediate mod presence in most metatalk threads is already within the bounds you're proposing that's basically what this objection comes down to.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:14 AM on February 14, 2015 [12 favorites]


Do you want to be the one guy taking them on?

You've been around for a while. Do you honestly think the mods gang up on a member in every MeTa? Benevolent dictatorship* it may be, but I give mods the benefit of the doubt because their actions justify my trust.



*"Dictatorship" is the wrong word; I don't think Matt is ruthless enough to be a strongman. It's more like a geniocracy or timocracy.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 9:18 AM on February 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


Take moderator status out of it for a moment and just imagine a group of five posters who are generally synced up with each other and who show up in threads together to argue their point. Do you want to be the one guy taking them on?

Where do I sign up?

But seriously, Metafilter is run by humans, so it's imperfect. How imperfect usually depends on the day and the way a particular member is feeling. So the same situation can an appalling demonstration of a moderatorship and a excellent example of admin stewardship. Not sure about whether its a dessert topping.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:28 AM on February 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


One of the things about the queue that seems a little suboptimal to me is that if someone doesn't get back to a mod request for reframing, the mods just leave the thread in the queue.

So, some members want to post to MeTa for "community feedback" and can't be bothered to get back to anyone. Ever.

I see no problem with those posts never being published. They don't appear to need to talk with us all that badly, frankly.

Also: I am fine with all the mods showing up and giving their take on it -- and I am someone who has, at times, felt ganged up on in MeTa by the mods. I mean, the alternative is they have a discussion in the smokey backroom, all get on the same page and then one of them acts as mouthpiece. I think it's actually a helluva lot more "democratic" for each of them to speak for themselves and let the members have a feel for the fact that they aren't always all on the same page initially and how that gets worked out in a reasonable fashion. I'm very okay with that.

A) As noted above, it isn't a democracy. It also isn't a benevolent dictatorship. It's a small business whose bread and butter is a sense of community. It is wise to keep channels of communication open with the members. It is also wise to let the folks running the business make the final decisions.

B) I see no problem with not giving equal time to everyone who wants to bitch vent about something via MeTa. As one example, do we really want to say a white supremacist deserves equal time object to the excessively egalitarian environment (or whatever)? Some of the MeTas are poorly framed and amount to someone just having a tantrum because their comment got deleted or the mod decision did not go their way or they have baggage with some members and no clue how to get past that. Those MeTas frequently don't lead to meaningful discussion of how to make MeFi better and often just involve toxic behavior that just adds to baggage for multiple people. I see no real upside in some cases.
posted by Michele in California at 9:30 AM on February 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


How do you even remember your mnemonic?

I just remember that it starts with qu, remember that there is an e in there somewhere, and the rest takes care of itself.
posted by SpacemanStix at 9:47 AM on February 14, 2015


This place could usually do with less grar, and if the queue helps that then more power to it. I think there can be value, however concealed, in the threads where users get called out for specific behaviours, but it's a topic that rarely goes well; I also reckon we could do with a massive cut-down on 'You deleted my comment SILENCED ALL MY LIFE' threads and not be any worse the wear for it. Ditto threads - and posters, for that matter - that are all about unveiling how 'secretly the mods are all tyrannical, power-mad fascists, as this one borderline call that I disagree with or comment I've misread clearly proves'.

As an aside, I'm fairly convinced that most people who describe MeFi threads as a shitshow mean 'people kept disagreeing with me no matter how wrong I told them they were.'
posted by gadge emeritus at 9:55 AM on February 14, 2015 [4 favorites]


I still remember this one seven years later.

That is one of the most enjoyable things I've read on Metafilter in a long time.
posted by SpacemanStix at 9:57 AM on February 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


What if after a reasonable time of no response, the mods posted the inflammatory MeTa post as a paraphrased "just the facts" version? MeTa post: "A member was concerned about the use of the phrase 'lynch mob' in this thread [link]."

In fact, maybe that's how all MeTa's ought to start. The initiator would be free to elaborate in a comment if desired.
posted by ctmf at 10:01 AM on February 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


So, some members want to post to MeTa for "community feedback" and can't be bothered to get back to anyone. Ever.

This is how I feel. If you want to get a community referendum on something you have to be sort of more available than Not At All for that process to happen. One of the biggest wastes of time on MeTa is when people show up here all angry about a thing and come on real strong and then literally do not show back up in the thread. And in the meantime the thread has gotten sort of fighty, and it all seems so avoidable.

I can see how sometimes there might be a "Well that escalated quickly" aspect to the whole thing where maybe the OP wasn't expecting the strong response they got and they just decide not to re-engage, but generally the setup here (in MeTa and on MeFi in general) is that there's a conversation with the userbase that's going to happen. Part of the reason the queue exists, I think, is so that people who really just need to talk to the mods in a non-public way are a little less likely to use a MeTa thread as a place to do that.

And so having the barest of expectations--that the mods may contact you if there's something that needs reworking in your MeTa post--of the userbase seems totally acceptable to me. Then again this was also my feeling in the chatfilter AskMe thread. My personal feeling would be to err on the side of being able to have a quick sidebar with a user "Hey this is chatfilter. Can you rewrite it so that it isn't?" but this doesn't work if the users aren't available. This used to happen a lot with deleted questions. Mods would delete something and we'd get an email from the OP like 12 hours later "Hey can I rewrite this?" and by then it was too late.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 10:05 AM on February 14, 2015 [8 favorites]


It's quite intimidating to have a few mods counter an idea you've floated, especially when you want to hear from members of the community as a sounding board, not mods. But the mod answers are so carefully and beautifully composed that even saying this feels a big wrong. :P

But I would like to see fewer mod responses right away. I mean, I guess with mod-related questions it makes sense, but for ponies? I would like my pony to prance about the farm a bit first before being told to go back to the stables.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 10:06 AM on February 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


I would like my pony to prance about the farm a bit first before being told to go back to the stables.

So much better than the Metafilter glue factory, though.
posted by SpacemanStix at 10:11 AM on February 14, 2015


Yeah, jessamyn, I essentially agree with that theory, except now the queue kind of confuses that. There might be six people who would have made the same MeTa post, but are now holding off because someone said they were going to in-thread. Just because the person who said they would flakes, doesn't mean the others are satisfied.
posted by ctmf at 10:23 AM on February 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


Someone wrote a dissertation about moderation in Metatalk: http://bit.do/warnick
posted by mecran01 at 10:26 AM on February 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


(To clarify: I have no stake in this one, so I might just be concerned for hypothetical others who don't actually exist. It seemed true that more than one person was waiting for the post to go live this time, though.)
posted by ctmf at 10:26 AM on February 14, 2015


It is totally okay for someone else to post their own take on a metatalk post if they feel left hanging, though; in practice we've seen a few examples of exactly that, with two or more people putting up a post either at more or less the same time or one a bit after the other because the first one hadn't gone up. There's no rule against submitting a possible-double metatalk, and if it's a thing where the first one in the queue is still expected to go up reasonably promptly we'll just drop the new poster a line to let 'em know what's up.

Which, again, I totally agree that it's something we're gonna have to run a little interference on in odd cases where it's not so much people waiting on a notional "maybe someone else is gonna post" situation but rather a "someone else has explicitly declared they're posting" situation; a note in the Sacco thread on that front would probably have helped make that all a bit clearer sooner and was a missed opportunity on our end.

I was a little hesitant to get into it in the Sacco thread because I feel like it'd be putting the user on the spot by basically dropping mod commentary along the lines of "hey, we're not posting that Metatalk you submitted because you didn't do a great job with it" right into the blue there when they were already frustrated by a situation to the point of writing up a Metatalk, but probably that's a sort of damned-either-way thing where communication with the community ends up winning out by a hair.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:31 AM on February 14, 2015 [4 favorites]


> The thought of mandating one mod against the entire userbase seems burnout-inducing.

It seems lunatic to me and I can't imagine Matt ever doing that. All the places I have been, the better terms I have been on with the helpdesk crew and the more often I have interacted pleasantly with them, the better help I have gotten when I needed it. I know that when I have been on helpdesk duty, the more people have treated me that way the better service they have gotten out of me. "Against" doesn't come into it--or so everybody hopes.
posted by jfuller at 10:32 AM on February 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


I mean, I guess with mod-related questions it makes sense, but for ponies?

For "ponies" though it also makes sense since the team is literally the only people that can build and add new features to the site. These are often phrased as "can you build x for MeFi please?" so it feels like something we can answer and are being asked directly about. If a mod says "no, that's difficult/impossible/not gonna happen" shortly after I can see how that can squelch support for an idea, but often a few, a dozen, or many more people chime in after with "yeah, I wish that could be a feature too" that can move the needle on whether or not something is worth doing despite what we said early on.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 10:34 AM on February 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


It's quite intimidating to have a few mods counter an idea you've floated, especially when you want to hear from members of the community as a sounding board, not mods. But the mod answers are so carefully and beautifully composed that even saying this feels a big wrong. :P

I think the key shift in how it's handled is it used to be if you wanted mod feedback specifically you went to the contact form. If you wanted community feedback you went to the grey. Now, going to the grey is going to require the mod feedback before it's even posted.

I'm not super enthusiastic about that even though I see many of the benefits as I outlined above. I've had situations where direct contact with the mods went haywire, either because I was being a douchebag (most of the occasions) or because they made some mistaken reads on the situation. (They are humans, shit happens.)

I came to have a lot more confidence in my ability to handle issues well on the grey if I felt they might go down the haywire path with the mods because there is a bit of insulation when you have a couple people (and there are always a couple, even if you are making a super weird point) having your back in a public discussion. And, there have been some times when the mods realized something based on the community read on the situation that they may not have in a one to one conversation.

So, again I still don't really know what I want from the Grey right now. I want all the benefits of the mod feedback but I also want the escape valve and the member focused discussion. I guess the principle is something like with Senate confirmations, Advice and consent, don't block or filibuster. I think for the most part that is exactly how it's working out, but I think it's good to be clear about what the role is.
posted by Drinky Die at 10:39 AM on February 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


ctmf: It sounds like you are talking about some weird, one-off circumstance. Hopefully, the mods will learn from the incident and handle things more smoothly next time -- if there is a next time. I don't see any reason to assume that there will be a TREND of people stating publicly that they are going to start a MeTa and then doing a sucky job and then also also failing to be at all available (or so I understand it). So this seems like not something that needs a lot of beanplating about policy changes at this stage in the game.

I mean if folks do start making that a habit, maybe we need to start a MeTa where we publicly shame them into stopping it in order to send a clear message that the community does not think that's funny, so joke's on you. Because "running joke" is the only way I see that becoming a thing.

I'm not super enthusiastic about that even though I see many of the benefits as I outlined above. I've had situations where direct contact with the mods went haywire, either because I was being a douchebag (most of the occasions) or because they made some mistaken reads on the situation. (They are humans, shit happens.)

And sometimes, being human, they get in the habit of assuming x person is being an ass because said individual has a history of being an ass. It's called pattern recognition.

I like you and I've had your back in a few MeTas recent-ish because I agreed with you about certain issues, but this MeTa feels to me personally like you have a history of Baggage with the site and probably that Baggage is rooted further back in personal BAGGAGE and, having had a little success after being chronically odd man out, you are feeling your oats or something. And I kind of think this is not a community issue per se.

I thought a lot about that on my walk home last night. There are limits on what I am willing to say publicly because REASONS. But I really think this is rooted in something internal to Drinky Die and not so much something that needs some kind of policy change on the site. Which is not intended to dismiss you. I don't think you are acting in bad faith. blah blah and additional disclaimers.

/ 2 cents. And now I am going to head to lunch and try to hunker down and work afterwards.
posted by Michele in California at 10:48 AM on February 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


> is it used to be if you wanted mod feedback specifically you went to the contact form

But this still exists as an option (and it's not one that was always adhered to, anyway - there are plenty of pre-queue meTas where initial responses from mefites are "did you use the contact form before you posted this?"). There's "please use the contact form" language several times in the new post page for the grey.
posted by rtha at 10:53 AM on February 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yes, I have mountains of baggage, that is entirely true. That's why I try to be very careful in how I phrase stuff like this. I don't think there needs to be a policy change here, just a clarification. I think we have largely gotten that and I am totally satisfied with the very thoughtful mod feedback ITT.
posted by Drinky Die at 10:55 AM on February 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


People are scared and intimidated by the MODS? Like, "Agh get out of here humans who are paid to listen to me stop being thoughtful and taking me seriously bring on the harsh one liners and randos telling me to STFU instead!" That's like being mad that there are too many doctors in your hospital room. "Stop diagnosing! Can you see what some of the other patients think first? Not Mr. Kowalski tho he is super rude."

That analogy was garbage but you see what I mean. If mods don't set the tone early in a MT thread the alternative is a pile on of voices telling you to shut up and stop complaining. I'm sometimes one of them but I'm glad the first answers are careful considerations of the request by employees rather than my crap.

Ps. Stop making Quidnunc kid feel bad and vote #1 for him Ty.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:48 AM on February 14, 2015 [8 favorites]


"I guess the principle is something like with Senate confirmations, Advice and consent, don't block or filibuster."

I understand this but it helps if you don't do things like this I don't mind so much but others cannot respond and I think that was unfair.

I had no idea about "Mong" being a denigration FFFM. Please excuse my ignorance.
And an apology to Heyho. I'm an asshole and well, free dunk tank for the next half hour!
posted by clavdivs at 12:42 PM on February 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


(It was a list of some of my favorite mefites. Thatsthejoke.jpg)
posted by Drinky Die at 12:52 PM on February 14, 2015


I consider the matter closed. But this is beyond jejune. These folks cannot answer, I can and have. Period.
The best advice I can give is self policing. In the old ways if you bowed, you offer your respect and your account...oh yeah. For example, if HXxxo wanted my account, she could have. This means "I" don't post on the blue for Z amount of time. Then you honor that. Arbitrarily, I'd say a week for my being an ass to said member.
On the other hand if you bring "blooms" this is a sincere gesture of respect with no innuendo. A gift, a note, a link, a brief "hey".
I guess the nifty thing is that a odd system sorta works based on merit I suppose. Something you cant monkey with.
Not looking to start a anything here DD. IMO, nothing to start.
Happy Valentino day mefis!
posted by clavdivs at 1:20 PM on February 14, 2015


🌜🍕🌛 twenty. D'oh!
posted by clavdivs at 1:24 PM on February 14, 2015


That's a very good point. I will keep it in mind.
posted by Drinky Die at 1:30 PM on February 14, 2015


[dear everybody posting in emoji: not to reiterate what's been said above, but some of us, depending on which platform we access this on, have NO IDEA what you're saying HTH]
posted by Lexica at 6:10 PM on February 14, 2015 [4 favorites]


😁👽💩🔥
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:28 PM on February 14, 2015


some of us, depending on which platform we access this on, have NO IDEA what you're saying HTH

I can see them and I have no idea what meaning I am supposed to extract.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:42 PM on February 14, 2015 [4 favorites]


😁👽💩🔥

Smiley, Alien, Poop, Fire?
posted by Justinian at 11:21 PM on February 14, 2015


I thought it was "Gary Busey, Kif, Mr. Hankey = HOT." Not my personal choices for sexiest Valentines, but to each his own, right?
posted by taz (staff) at 11:43 PM on February 14, 2015 [5 favorites]


Half moon/pizza/half moon

not a national lampoon referent.

PA is saying fun/alien/potential flame out/ typical dodo pile.

Upon a more realistic interpretation from Taz-
"You can't plug in a sea shell"


Justinins' brief monograph on the subject was essential.
posted by clavdivs at 12:19 AM on February 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


Half the time I only remember how to spell 'friend' because 'FRIday ENDs the week'

Try this: Spell 'fiend', add an 'r'. (remembered because of this wondefulness)
posted by el io at 12:35 AM on February 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


just imagine a group of five posters who are generally synced up with each other and who show up in threads together to argue their point.


That's pretty funny, really. I'm learning - slowly - what opinions to keep to myself because of the backlash from an entire contingent of Mefites who stand together in all things. That's okay - it's just the way it is, and I'm not at all the only person who has learned what subjects are best avoided. That's true in the real world, too; when I'm visiting with right-wing, O'Reilly or Cruz fans, we only establish our standpoints once and from then on we talk about quilting or the weather or something else. It doesn't change the way I feel or what I think, or my right to express my thoughts, but it makes for a more peaceful little world temporarily anyway.

But no - I don't think it's hard to imagine such a thing here at all.

Several of my comments have been deleted but I've certainly never felt ganged-up upon by the mods. When I think what I have to say matters enough to make it worth a pile-on, I'll still say what I'm thinking, but if the mods delete my comment or ask me to rephrase it, I'll deal with that. I'm just one person here and I think the mods do a damn good job.
posted by aryma at 12:38 AM on February 15, 2015 [4 favorites]


> I can see them and I have no idea what meaning I am supposed to extract.

I'm becoming quite fond of the funny little rectangles. Please don't improve, platform.
posted by jfuller at 5:52 AM on February 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


troll harder, aryma.
posted by kagredon at 10:58 AM on February 15, 2015 [8 favorites]


Please don't accuse people of trolling, even here. It does nothing productive and is an unprovable claim.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 11:29 AM on February 15, 2015 [6 favorites]


Accusing people of being in lockstep also does nothing productive and is an unprovable claim.
posted by kagredon at 11:42 AM on February 15, 2015 [11 favorites]


"Smarmy attack doofus" is the technical term in this instance; "troll" is really more of a nuclear option.
posted by Invisible Green Time-Lapse Peloton at 11:52 AM on February 15, 2015 [4 favorites]


I appreciate a healthy dose of authority-challenging, but man does it ever seem like MeTa can be full of "these people have a higher level of access to a thing than me and therefore must be evil" type comments.
posted by softlord at 12:08 PM on February 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


Accusing people of being in lockstep also does nothing productive and is an unprovable claim.

People are usually in lockstep about all sorts of things, such as Empire Strikes Back is the best Star Wars movie, Tyrion is the best of Game of Thrones and cilantro is great/awful. That's just basic human interactions and stuff.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:31 PM on February 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


"That's pretty funny, really. I'm learning - slowly - what opinions to keep to myself because of the backlash from an entire contingent of Mefites who stand together in all things. "

No, just things that you have a habit of being a wide-eyed boor about. It's less a backlash contingent than conversational oobleck.

/real talk
posted by klangklangston at 1:04 PM on February 15, 2015 [18 favorites]


'Sup
posted by clavdivs at 1:39 PM on February 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


> conversational oobleck

Can't just let that pass with a quiet favorite. You go, klang.

Wait, I want to type that again. oobleck. OOBLECK!
posted by jfuller at 2:03 PM on February 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


"Zombie, zombie, zombie ei, ei, ei, oh do, do, do, do, do, do, do, do"
posted by clavdivs at 3:47 PM on February 15, 2015


It's a little bit weird, sure. It's also a direct result of lower staffing and was pretty much specifically introduced and framed as that. As such, it makes sense.

Not really. It was about the same time that fanfare started. So the community took away the accesibility of metatalk because of being 'short-staffed', and then set up fanfare.

Sounds like "corporate restructuring".
posted by hal_c_on at 5:23 PM on February 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


What's with the quotes there?
posted by rtha at 5:32 PM on February 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


I would be very surprised if Fanfare demanded even a quarter of the mod-hours that Metatalk does, even with the queue.
posted by kagredon at 5:33 PM on February 15, 2015


[taps ceiling with broom]

This is my all time favorite cortex box
"Hey now" thing.

Just listened to "zombie" in the shower hard to air drum in the shower.
posted by clavdivs at 5:44 PM on February 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


So the community took away the accesibility of metatalk because of being 'short-staffed', and then set up fanfare.

Fanfare requires almost zero moderation. MetaTalk requires a lot of moderation. There are actually fewer mods here now, working much longer hours. I don't know what part of that you are not understanding.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 5:51 PM on February 15, 2015 [8 favorites]


I would be very surprised if Fanfare demanded even a quarter of the mod-hours that Metatalk does, even with the queue.

Way, way less. Y'all basically don't get into fights that require flagging over there. Once we sorted out the spoiler/reread/rewatch/books-or-not thing, it turned into another smooth hum in the grand chorus.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 5:52 PM on February 15, 2015 [4 favorites]


"THREE WEEKS!!?! But the sign says "One-Hour Cleaning"!"
"Sorry, sir - that's just the name of the shop"
posted by lathrop at 6:27 PM on February 15, 2015


Fanfare requires almost zero moderation.
Cool. So does that mean that we are aiming towards a site that requires less moderation? Or was that just a one-off kinda cool thing that works?

MetaTalk requires a lot of moderation.
What? Why? Speaking relatively, I would have thought it would require less moderation than a thread about reiki, parenting, israel, or police on the blue. I also thought the threshold for deletion in a meta was a bit higher than other places. Every so often, I hear of a idea/topic that is discouraged on the blue (or even green) because "metafilter doesn't do it well", so I'm guessing it requires quite a bit of moderation. Again, are we aiming towards less moderation?

I would have thought that metafilter's response to less moderation (more financial support) would have been indicative of the idea that "hey, we want it to stay the same".

There are actually fewer mods here now, working much longer hours.
As I understand it, Jessamyn (full time mod, who probably worked way more than 40-50 hours a week) left, as did another mod (who wasn't doing as many). From what you wrote, I'm assuming that the shifts are the same, its just that some people have their hours bumped up. I don't necessarily see this as a bad thing (or something which takes away from one's life), except with cortex, who was already a big-time moderator before, and I'm guessing he's working more hours now.

What I don't understand, and maybe thats not for the members to know is whether there are less moderation hours now than before, or if its just a case of fewer mods (including matt) working greater hours.

I don't know what part of that you are not understanding.

The part where a metatalk queue has to be implemented despite the fact that " where 90%+ are <5>

So this queue was setup for the 10% of metatalk threads which may need more attention? Maybe that was a huge chunk of time for the mods.

But below it all, there are people who aren't happy with the queue. And this thread is indicative of that, as will be the other threads that reference this policy.

Its not my site, and I don't really get a say about what happens, but I'm also not going to act like this policy is all that great. So this is my way of saying it.
posted by hal_c_on at 9:06 AM on February 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


You ask if we're "aiming" for a site that requires less moderation. Well, we have less moderation to cover the site. The point is that FanFare hasn't made a difference in the amount of moderation that's needed, which has been good since if it had required a lot of moderation, we would have had to nix it.

There are fewer mods working longer hours. Working a 16 hour shift (which sometimes happens and is the best solution for balancing a number of parameters) means sometimes a mod will be on duty while cooking dinner or whatever, and only checking in with the site every n minutes to see if something is blowing up in the flag queue or if there's contact form messages, rather than focusing solely on the site and responding to things instantly. It also means we're less likely than in the past to have two mods around at the same time. All this means problems have more of a chance to grow before they're caught, and sometimes we have less bandwidth to devote to individually contacting people about - for example - why their derailing comment was deleted etc.

MetaTalk especially is prone to worse blowups than other parts of the site (I would have thought this was obvious). It also often explicitly requires mod comment in a way the other parts of the site don't -- if you ask a mod a question in a new MeTa thread, we want there to be someone paying attention who can answer it. You ask if the 10% of MetaTalks that require extra attention are a huge chunk of extra time for the mods - yes. They're probably the most mod-intensive thing that happens on the site (along with the super fighty blue threads that sometimes prompt them), and on top of that, they're often where public discussion of policy is hashed out so they require real focus and forethought from mods, and they can lead to the worst consequences in terms of intermember fights and nastiness and people quitting and so on. For all these reasons it makes sense to restrict the time periods when MeTas are at their most mod-attention-requiring.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 10:16 AM on February 16, 2015 [5 favorites]


I believe that mods read every MeTa comment. This is not true on other subsites - they rely on flags/email to alert them to flare ups in previously quiet threads.

hal_c_on: "I would have thought that metafilter's response to less moderation (more financial support) would have been indicative of the idea that "hey, we want it to stay the same"."

Sure, which would be great if the financial support paid for two mods on shift at any time. I don't believe that it does.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:34 AM on February 16, 2015


What I don't understand, and maybe thats not for the members to know is whether there are less moderation hours now than before

There's 168 hours in a week, every week. There's fewer mods covering those hours now, which means more hours for the mods doing the work. It means some longer shifts to make the schedule work; it means weekends always off for the weekday mods isn't something we're able to keep doing. It means the amount of not-on-the-clock slush time mods have to volunteer extra non-burnout-inducing work for the heck of it is down; it means having an extra body to jump in when something gets suddenly busy or tricky is less likely to happen.

It's not as bad as what we were looking at right when stuff first changed back in May last years—stuff's been okay enough, especially with folks supporting the site directly, that we've been able to give gnfti and LM some hours and take a little strain of the schedule for the rest of us, but ultimately where we are is that fewer mods + same number of hours in the week means more work per mod. This is something we've talked about a bunch in the last nine months.

I would have thought that metafilter's response to less moderation (more financial support) would have been indicative of the idea that "hey, we want it to stay the same".

And see above: thanks to that financial support, we have been able to get it a bit closer to how it was. Not all the way, but closer than it was looking like before that happened. Which is great, and we are very, very thankful for that, but it's also not the same thing as "exactly how it was". Again, this is stuff we've talked about in here before.

I would have thought

You often think things that are incorrect about how this place works, and assert them as presumed fact in metatalk and more or less defy us to prove those presumptions wrong. That's very frustrating, and feels like traversing quicksand after the nth time we go through it with you. When you're e.g. somehow expressing disbelief at this late date that Metatalk would require a lot of moderator attention, what that says is that you have not been paying very close attention to how this place works and have not been listening to and understanding what we have said in here over the years.

Which is fine in the sense that no one who is not a mod is required to pay attention to Metatalk, but when you pair up that apparent ignorance about this place with an ongoing habit of needling us about your misunderstandings of this stuff, it's a real drain. And is, as a datapoint, one example of the sort of thing that makes Metatalk something that requires a lot of moderation resources.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:37 AM on February 16, 2015 [31 favorites]


Way, way less. Y'all basically don't get into fights that require flagging over there. Once we sorted out the spoiler/reread/rewatch/books-or-not thing, it turned into another smooth hum in the grand chorus.

Metafilter: another smooth hum in the grand chorus.
posted by SpacemanStix at 4:02 PM on February 16, 2015


there are people who aren't happy with the queue

To be fair, there's not a single aspect of this site that you won't have at least a couple of people ready and willing to complain about it. So, practically, that means nothing.
posted by gadge emeritus at 4:45 PM on February 16, 2015 [6 favorites]


Tyrion is the best of Game of Thrones

YOU TAKE THAT BACK!

It's totally Daenerys and Olenna (SHE'S AN AVENGER!) and Margaery and Sansa and Arya!

According to my You Tube clips, they and Tyrion make up 99% of the cast.
posted by Deoridhe at 9:13 PM on February 17, 2015


Fanfarish threadii derailitie opinioniutuis\ debtis Lannisteri Tyrion projectile commodious hiliaritu Dien/ Daener-khlissioptiym draconian fiery Artimis Carney/ foci Luna elipsis!
posted by clavdivs at 11:32 PM on February 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


Tell Me No Lies: "Which may be fine. But there's always a cost when the jaded old cynical people are making the calls."

While I think that the jaded old cynical people cause a lot of issues, I don't think the moderators are the problem.
posted by scrump at 2:15 PM on February 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


hal_c_on: "I would have thought that metafilter's response to less moderation (more financial support) would have been indicative of the idea that "hey, we want it to stay the same"."

It's been established for quite some time that what you think is often orthogonal to the actual reality of how MetaFilter runs. MetaFilter is not the side of this equation that needs to adjust.
posted by scrump at 2:17 PM on February 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


Eh maybe, but I don't think it's so off base. I donated because I liked the way the site was run and hoped it would continue to be run that way. It pretty much has, so money well spent.
posted by Drinky Die at 3:00 PM on February 18, 2015


aryma: " I'm learning - slowly - what opinions to keep to myself because of the backlash from an entire contingent of Mefites who stand together in all things."

If we throw in the words "politically correct" or "social justice", we can get bingo.

Absolute statements ("in all things", and modifiers like "never" and "always") are also a nice clue that the content following the buzzwords is going to be some flavor of jeremiad about THE METAFILTER LIBERAL CONSPIRACY.

Like most subscribers to the idea of the MLC, you seem to think you're an iconoclast speaking truth to power, when you're really just another community member. And, like other MLC conspiracists, at your worst, you're an axe-grinding, hyperfocused user with a few hobbyhorses, exhibiting behavior indistinguishable on its face from that of a troll.

Yes, people tend to dismiss your arguments out of hand. But I don't think that's because of groupthink. I think it's more likely that people on MetaFilter dismiss your arguments because they're weak arguments:
  • Your arguments tend to rely on incorrect or extremely shaky foundations (usually based around received wisdom or argument from authority)
  • You pepper your comments with social-conservative dogwhistles
  • You very often demonstrate ringing contempt for anyone on the liberal side of Attila the Hun.
  • Finally, your comments (at least in MetaTalk) are lousy with unfounded, wild speculation about the true motives of posters and the "reality" of MetaFilter; speculation that is often directly refuted by the lived experience and statements of community members.
My impression of METAFILTER LIBERAL CONSPIRACY adherents is that users in that group are overwhelmingly unwilling to interrogate their beliefs, to the point where they will double down on a factually incorrect argument rather than change their mind. And, when challenged, those users seem to swing wildly, with great passion, between accusing MetaFilter's userbase of being both biased against "conservatives" and hewing to a single ideology. This group of users often seem to run face-first into the Table Saw of Reality. And having done so, they subsequently attribute the community's hostile reaction to ideology rather than quality.

tl;dr: people on MetaFilter are more likely to disagree with you on your arguments, rather than your group membership. It has less to do with the Social Justice or Political Correctness Flavor of the Month than it does your arguments being garbage, and you throwing a fit when you're told that they're garbage.

So that's my read on the situation, which you can feel free to take or leave. I will say that over the years, when I've gotten into a disagreement with the MetaFilter community and lots of different community members have told me that I'm wrong, it's always been the right choice to reconsider my position. Because however smart or awesome I might be, on MetaFilter I'm definitely not the smartest guy in the room, or the one with the most expertise. But other members very often are.
posted by scrump at 3:43 PM on February 18, 2015


That comment has only made me appreciate what aryma was (actually, not, "If we add things!") saying more.
posted by Drinky Die at 3:56 PM on February 18, 2015


Well, sure you do, because you march in lockstep with her!

Am I even joking? I can't tell.
posted by rtha at 4:02 PM on February 18, 2015 [8 favorites]


This thread seems to be talking a really hard swing into the ad hominem. Maybe it's better if it doesn't, especially if we consider how far away it's gotten from the ostensible subject "How / how well is the queue working?".
posted by benito.strauss at 4:12 PM on February 18, 2015


Well, sure you do, because you march in lockstep with her!


I agree absolutely, because I march in lockstep with you!

But really, maybe it's just because I read politics threads a lot but there are some definite cliques out there on certain subjects. I'm probably an identifiable member of some. And I think that comment was about cliques, not cabals. There was a certain amount of effort involved in specifically absolving the mods as part of the gangup which doesn't speak to a conspiratorial mindset to me.
posted by Drinky Die at 4:20 PM on February 18, 2015


Jebud, DD, pour me a Dewars, neat please. (Ques up Lynard Cohen on jukebox)
posted by clavdivs at 4:30 PM on February 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


All I have on hand is Molson Ice or Fleischmann's Gin, take your pick.
posted by Drinky Die at 4:31 PM on February 18, 2015


I also have several cases of Rotgut but I'm planning to save it for a special occasion.
posted by Drinky Die at 4:34 PM on February 18, 2015


A warm gin in tall glass served with a human hair, quick.
posted by clavdivs at 7:41 PM on February 18, 2015 [1 favorite]


Oh, scrump, you put so much work into that, but it's so far off base in so many ways.

What I see is, yes, exactly - a small coalition of people who stand together in all things and when I post a comment - just about any comment, really - one, then another, then another - always in the same group - come out to tell me I'm full of it; then they claim that it's obvious that I'm the one who's out of line 'cuz ... look at all the people who are standing against me ... that proves how messed up I am. Whatever.

But there are a couple of things you should know: 1) I'm an old woman who wouldn't recognize a "dogwhistle" if I sat down next to one - I don't even know what the term means and frankly I'm tired of looking up words that are part of your language just so I can see what I'm being accused of, so I'm going to pass on dogwhistle; 2) I'm not at all conservative - just because I disagree with some issues that I feel are exploited by linking them to the left/liberal side of things doesn't mean I'm anywhere near Attila the Hun - uh, no. I think the worst thing that ever happened to this country was Bush and Cheney, I'm generally against war and for bringing the living conditions of those at the lower end of existence up to a decent level for a civilized society; that means I want student loans eliminated and those who are currently indebted for them cleared of that debt, I want a decent living wage paid to those who work and I want it now, not ten years from now, I want healthcare expanded and available to everyone at a price they can afford and still pay the rent - free would be good; and about a hundred other things that agree with the liberal/even socialist side of things. I think every politician who opens his mouth with some stupid remark making rape acceptable or blaming victims or rattling the homophobia sabers or condemning abortion or trashing people based on race or gender identity or economic level or religion - every politician who spouts such trash should be removed from office and his salary knocked down to minimum wage - and if anyone can search and find that that particular politician has some illegal skeletons in his closet, he should be prosecuted for them.

Again, however - I don't know anything about what you call Social Justice Warriors; do they cover anything that I listed above? I don't know what the Patriarchy is, although I could take a rough guess, and I don't know - or care - what mansplaining is. I like men just as much as I like women. As I understand it, a troll only pops into threads for the sake of making trouble and then he pops out again - is that right? If so, I'm not a troll. When I do get into a thread and make some outlandish remarks like I am now, then I usually will retreat when the stuff hits the fan because I've no desire to prolong the battle. In this case, for instance, I'm responding because you're wrong when you liken me to an uber-conservative of some kind, I will respectfully not accept using dogwhistles or using any other ploys or tropes or memes or whatever and I'm going to say so, so here it is: I am just stating what I think as one old lady living one life, using my own personal experiences to make my points. I'm not attacking you or anyone else, but I think I have the same right to express my opinions and that's what I'm doing. I don't like feeling piled on, but it doesn't intimidate me much, either.

I've seen more than one person run out of here because they just gave up trying to hold onto their own right to express themselves - they got sick of being disparaged and left, and that ticked me off, but that was their choice. I'll continue to hang around and say what I feel and it that's not to your liking, I don't know what else to say. As for my claim that the people here are "biased against conservatives" - oh, my - you are SO over the edge on that; I'm the one who's biased against conservatives. As for my pointing out the little group of people who always stand together - it makes no difference to me if you're in a group or not, but I'm not baying at the moon here and I'm not paranoid about some nonsensical conspiracy theory - it's just that there's a strong group of people who feel the same way about things and they stand together - and that's going to be the case no matter what forum we're in - but neither do I give it much weight when the group claims the majority of people are this or that or whatever - it's just the group - no biggie.

As for me "throwing a fit," um... I think you're the one throwing the fit here - not me.
posted by aryma at 8:41 PM on February 18, 2015 [2 favorites]


i'm just a frozen caveman attorney
posted by Invisible Green Time-Lapse Peloton at 8:50 PM on February 18, 2015 [11 favorites]



i'm just a frozen caveman attorney


I read that in that voice too.

when I post a comment - just about any comment, really - one, then another, then another - always in the same group

I hate this kind of assumption, which comes up frequently in reference to the cabal/liberal brigade etc. All it really is is that people want to share their opinions, and on certain topics, yes, people agree on things in certain ways, but it's after a lot of discussion and reading and investment in the topic, online and off.

If you have no or little experience with these topics (to the point you can't be bothered to learn about a dogwhistle), then sure it will seem like everyone coordinated to use pointless words like dogwhistle and merrily ruin your day or whatever. But it's not that, it's people who are interested in what a dogwhistle is and want to talk about social justice, intersectionality, etc in complex ways because it's important to them, sometimes even deeply personal.
posted by zutalors! at 9:00 PM on February 18, 2015 [7 favorites]


I don't know what the Patriarchy is, although I could take a rough guess, and I don't know - or care - what mansplaining is

Then perhaps you could apply some of your admirable self-awareness and keep your mouth shut in threads where people who do know about these things are discussing them.

If you can't be bothered to educate yourself before spouting off pig-ignorant drivel, the rest of us are under no obligation to silently put up with it.
posted by scrump at 12:35 AM on February 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'd much rather keep the diverse perspective voices like hers in the discussions, we have a thousand younger posters who can recite the SJW argument on any random topic.
posted by Drinky Die at 12:43 AM on February 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


Aryma, my husband is the one who larned me about dogwhistles, and we're in our mid-forties, so it doesn't require youth.

The original dogwhistle is, of course, a whistle that's pitched so high that people can't hear it, but dogs can. A dogwhistle in the social sense is a word or phrase or idea that is inoffensive but signals, to its intended audience, a whole boatload of potentially explosive things.

Lee Atwater (I know you remember him! Reagan and Bush Sr.'s campaign strategist) didn't know the term "dogwhistle" but he described it perfectly (and this is the example my husband cited me) in a 1981 interview about the Republican Southern Strategy:
Atwater: As to the whole Southern strategy that Harry S. Dent, Sr. and others put together in 1968, opposition to the Voting Rights Act would have been a central part of keeping the South. Now [the new Southern Strategy of Ronald Reagan] doesn't have to do that. All you have to do to keep the South is for Reagan to run in place on the issues he's campaigned on since 1964 and that's fiscal conservatism, balancing the budget, cut taxes, you know, the whole cluster.

Questioner: But the fact is, isn't it, that Reagan does get to the Wallace voter and to the racist side of the Wallace voter by doing away with legal services, by cutting down on food stamps?

Atwater: You start out in 1954 by saying, "N---er, n---er, n---er." By 1968 you can't say "n---er" — that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states' rights and all that stuff. You're getting so abstract now [that] you're talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you're talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites. And subconsciously maybe that is part of it. I'm not saying that. But I'm saying that if it is getting that abstract, and that coded, that we are doing away with the racial problem one way or the other. You follow me — because obviously sitting around saying, "We want to cut this," is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than "N---er, n---er."
A dogwhistle is saying "forced busing" when you really mean "this will hit those blacks where it hurts, and serves them right."

The reason that dogwhistles are controversial is that they're meant to maintain a veneer of deniability. There was a MeTa thread you'll remember about anti-Semitism here, and the discussion about whether a tweet from Steven Salaita could be invoking the blood libel - that was a discussion about dogwhistles.

Hope that helps you understand.
posted by gingerest at 12:48 AM on February 19, 2015 [9 favorites]


we have a thousand younger posters who can recite the SJW argument on any random topic.

This is a really gross thing to say.
posted by kagredon at 1:17 AM on February 19, 2015 [10 favorites]


No, it's just true, I am among the group that can generally do it. Now, "You're pig ignorant and need to sit down and shut up when I tell you to," is pretty gross.
posted by Drinky Die at 2:10 AM on February 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


And now you're making up quotes to put into people's mouths along with the mythical SJW talking points that everyone under some age has memorized.
posted by kagredon at 2:56 AM on February 19, 2015


Thank you for explaining the dogwhistle, gingerest, but let me ask then: If the idea is that only a targeted group can pick up on the offensiveness of it, doesn't that also mean that a person whose hearing is finely tuned for offensive dogwhistles is more likely to hear them - or at least be offended by them? IOW, isn't it possible - likely even - that a person who had no intention of targeting anyone but simply made a statement from their own repertroire of experience, in a serious attempt to simply state an opinion on the subject at hand, that that person, ignorant of the fact that their comment would be interpreted as a dogwhistle, could really blow that whistle without even trying?

Yes, I have done that - in innocence. But at other times I've known I was voicing an opinion on a subject that was not going to be met with happy agreement and I made the statement anyway; I didn't realize I was dogwhistling, but I still felt that my opinion had as much right to be spoken as anyone else's - that just because my position wasn't matching that of the choir, it still represented another legitimate position.

And doesn't it follow, then, that it's also possible that a person who's got their radar tuned for incoming dogwhistles on any one of, say, half a dozen subjects, will be rewarded with a catch, enabling offense to be taken, more frequently and faster than the average person - the one who's not super geared to hear the whistle? Maybe not - but maybe it is partly, at least a matter of how one reacts when they hear the whistle. Maybe other people tune in to whatever whistles to them, but it's not the same for everyone - meaning that my dogwhistles could just sail on by someone who wasn't tuned to them.

Interesting food for thought, anyway. Just thinking - if I were to step out into my residential neighborhood and blow a dog whistle, assuming all the dogs in the area would hear it - how would they react? Some would bark, some would whine, some would scratch at the gate, and some would pay no attention to it because what they would respond to would be their own person's whistle or call instead.

Again, thanks for the information, gingerest.

As for "The Patriarchy" - I looked it up, zutalors!, and it was just what I figured: Men rule, women are excluded. If that's how some people see things and it works as a model for their way of dealing with the world, that's fine; however, I respectfully dissent - I do not share that view.

And FTR, things that are "deeply personal" to me are rarely shared with a community as large as MetaFilter - but again, that's just me.
posted by aryma at 2:59 AM on February 19, 2015


Oh, come on, kagredon -

scrump said, in two lines, that I should "keep my mouth shut" - in italics for emphasis - and that I "spout off pig-ignorant drivel."

The words were scrump's and in the same order. Jeez.
posted by aryma at 3:08 AM on February 19, 2015


Going to bed now - goodnight all.
posted by aryma at 3:15 AM on February 19, 2015


It was on this site that I first encountered the abbreviation "SJW," and in that thread (also a meTa, unsurprisingly), I said hey, what is that? And someone told me. I have since learned that I am part of the brigade.

re: The Patriarchy: Can I ask you to consider that since you just now learned about it by looking it up on the internet, you are perhaps not in the best position to declare you don't believe in it?
posted by rtha at 6:11 AM on February 19, 2015 [18 favorites]


OW, isn't it possible - likely even - that a person who had no intention of targeting anyone but simply made a statement from their own repertroire of experience, in a serious attempt to simply state an opinion on the subject at hand, that that person, ignorant of the fact that their comment would be interpreted as a dogwhistle, could really blow that whistle without even trying?

Totally possible, but this is why MeFi as an ongoing conversation and not just a chat board filled with randos is so important. Once someone tells you "Hey you may not know this, but talking about 'states rights' all the time carries some context with it that you may not be aware you're loading in to your commentary about something else" then it's sort of on you to be aware that, hey, the concept of 'states rights' carries a different sort of weight with some people than with others. And some of those people are here. Now this may be more straightforward because you've got quotes like the one gingerest included. It was a real thing employed in a real way and if you want to ignore that, it's up to you but it's still real. And we see it happening again with marriage equality and the language people use to defend their decisions about wanting to deny gay people the right to marry. And people remember similar battles in the past and they look closely at language.

Other examples are less clear or more recent and so sometimes you have to take people's words for things that may not have as clear a dogwhistle history or agreed upon interpretation. But you can still listen to what people are saying and if they say "People using indefinite 'he' pronouns all the time makes me feel like you're maybe not being mindful about gender issues in this specific topic area where we're talking and you might want to reconsider because of blabla reasons" you can take that to heart when you decide what to do about it.

There are very few "You can't say this" enforced norms here at MetaFilter. There are a lot of ways in which people try to outline the normative discourse here through social pressure or discussion about topics or whatever their approach is (sometimes this works sometimes this doesn't). No one has to agree with anyone, but you also can't just pretend that the words you use don't, often, have a larger social context that you are expected to be mindful of once you know about it.

Men rule, women are excluded.

This is a facile overly simple description of patriarchy, especially if you are trying to get at the kernel of truth in "patriarchy hurts everyone" which is something you'll see around here a lot. And, like a lot of other assertions people make about various things, you don't have to believe in it in order for it to be "true". It's a conversation with a lot of people in a long standing community of many people who have known each other and had these discussions for a long time. No one has to agree with the assertions people make about things, but it helps to come to the table ready to talk about them in a way that is respectful of the fact that it's a big world where a lot of people feel differently from how you do. That's what I've done and I've learned a decent amount about how other people view the world. It's been helpful.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 6:14 AM on February 19, 2015 [15 favorites]


But you can still listen to what people are saying and if they say "People using indefinite 'he' pronouns all the time makes me feel like you're maybe not being mindful about gender issues in this specific topic area where we're talking and you might want to reconsider because of blabla reasons" you can take that to heart when you decide what to do about it.

Seconding this.

If someone makes a good case for why a word or phrase is offensive, there's absolutely nothing wrong with taking that to heart and not using it anymore.
posted by zarq at 6:49 AM on February 19, 2015


The words were scrump's and in the same order. Jeez.

Fair enough. I control-f'd the whole phrase and couldn't find it, but as modified quotes go, it was a very mild modification. Retract that comment.

DD's comment about "reciting SJW arguments": remains gross.
posted by kagredon at 8:44 AM on February 19, 2015


I don't think it's "diverse" to be deeply undereducated about a topic, go off at length about that, and then still put forth an opinion anyway that basically calls everyone who disagrees (usually because they have had more education and put more time in discussion) a sheeple/cabal/lockstep clique/whatever.

I know very little about rock climbing and it would be ridiculous for me to be like "I don't know what the word 'belay' means but seems to me it's kind of ridiculous and I don't believe in it, also why climb when you can have a nice drive up the mountain, maybe pack a lunch?" But this is exactly what people do about things like culture, social justice, discrimination, etc.
posted by zutalors! at 9:03 AM on February 19, 2015 [10 favorites]


Yeah, it's the same Fair and Balanced/"we have to hear both sides!" nonsense that creationists are fond of. All opinions are opinions and all people are entitled to their own, but not all opinions contribute the same amount of value to a discussion. zutalors!'s example is spot-on.

Strictly speaking, yes, a person who comes into a thread about rock climbing to say "lol why not just drive?" may be adding an opinion that hasn't been voiced, but are they actually contributing to making the discussion something more interesting, informative, thoughtful? One of the things I appreciate about Mefi is that there is an active attempt to filter some of that noise (not just about oppression-related topics, either, but most kinds of "I don't know anything about this but here's why you're wrong for caring" on any topic.) If I want to watch people wear ignorance as a badge of pride, there are many, many other places on the internet (and off) that I can go to.
posted by kagredon at 10:14 AM on February 19, 2015 [5 favorites]


It might be useful to update this page and make it more prominent, rather than burying it in the wiki -- maybe have it pop up when you click the "preview" button before making a post (and I personally think everyone should preview instead of clicking directly on "post comment," just to insert a few seconds of time where you can think a bit more before sending your post off).

The lingo page could use an update to include things like mansplain and dog whistle, both of which I hadn't encountered before Metafilter. And then it was like, yeah mansplain, I get that a lot (being a woman in a very male-dominated STEM field) and so I appreciated the insight.

MeFi as an ongoing conversation and not just a chat board filled with randos

Yes but there's a constant flux of new users and I think it would help to keep in mind that not everyone will have absorbed the Metafilter ethos right out of the gate. So again, making a more prominent/comprehensive set of guidelines -- as well as what kinds of comments are likely to get pushback from a certain segment of the userbase -- might alleviate some of the issues.

Lastly, we could all do with more kindness and less knee-jerk.
posted by phoenix_rising at 11:26 AM on February 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


phoenix_rising: The lingo page could use an update to include things like mansplain and dog whistle, both of which I hadn't encountered before Metafilter.

That is the 'in jokes' page, and since these are not just MeFispeak and also not jokes, I don't think that's a good fit.
posted by Too-Ticky at 2:04 PM on February 19, 2015


isn't it possible - likely even - that a person who had no intention of targeting anyone but simply made a statement from their own repertroire of experience, in a serious attempt to simply state an opinion on the subject at hand, that that person, ignorant of the fact that their comment would be interpreted as a dogwhistle, could really blow that whistle without even trying?

Yes. But once you know a thing is used as a dogwhistle by gross people (racists, anti-Semites, whoever), it's just common sense to stop using it, because who wants to be like them? And the other sensible thing to do, if you want to be a reasonably well-liked person, is to mend fences with the people who've pointed out that's a hurtful thing for them, rather than to protest that you didn't mean to and that you're just misunderstood. Lots of people do choose to dig in to making the case they're innocent and don't need to mend fences, or choose to try to buck the whole notion as unfair to start with, but neither approach wins a lot of friends, and both are orthogonal to the fact that intention isn't magic - even when it's accidental, apologizing when you hurt someone, and trying not to do it again, are the right things to do.

Just my $0.02.
posted by gingerest at 2:47 PM on February 19, 2015 [2 favorites]


Too-Ticky: oops yes you're right, "In Jokes" is the title of the page -- I mistakingly called it the lingo page bcs I found it via a link that says "lingo" (see the Orientation page, upper right box (Things to do on your First Day).

Anyway, so maybe we need a different page dedicated to lingo, including dog-whistle phrases, with an explanation of why particular dog-whistles are not allowed (or upsetting/offensive and not likely to be tolerated by some mefites). And maybe some guidelines on what topics/viewpoints are likely to be touchy, lead to fights, etc and should be avoided. (There's some of that here but it's really buried in the Orientation page, which is buried way down in the very lengthy FAQ list.)

Basically, how to "play nice" in Metafilter.
posted by phoenix_rising at 3:05 PM on February 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


The problem is mostly not when someone uses a phrase that they don't know is a dogwhistle. The problem is when they read the explanation (often with links) about why the phrase is dogwhistley and why it might not convey what they're trying to convey, they insist that it doesn't mean that, it isn't a dogwhistle, and anyway they can use it any way they want and if people misinterpret, none of that can possibly be their responsibility.

These are not problems than can be solved by linking common dogwhistles and their definitions on the wiki. Those are all available via google anyway, for anyone who is truly trying to engage in good faith.
posted by rtha at 3:15 PM on February 19, 2015 [6 favorites]


I dunno, I've seen many times when someone unintentionally pissed off a contingent of mefites bcs they weren't clued in to the way that certain phrasing/framing/viewpoints can push buttons. So while I agree that community guidelines won't stop all the GRAR, I still think they may help in many cases. Just a suggestion, take with a grain of salt etc.
posted by phoenix_rising at 3:35 PM on February 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


The whole point about dogwhistles is that they're plausibly deniable, but used knowingly: that they're at the same time defensible as "oh, I never meant that" while also being a winking "yes, I totally meant that."

That said, railing against "SJWs" isn't really even subtle enough to be an "I'm anti-feminist" dogwhistle; it's pretty much overt.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 3:43 PM on February 19, 2015 [6 favorites]


Yes but there's a constant flux of new users and I think it would help to keep in mind that not everyone will have absorbed the Metafilter ethos right out of the gate. So again, making a more prominent/comprehensive set of guidelines -- as well as what kinds of comments are likely to get pushback from a certain segment of the userbase -- might alleviate some of the issues.

There's not a bare minimum knowledge threshold to join Metafilter, and there doesn't need to be one. No one is required to read or comment in threads about any topic, including social justice-related ones. But it is expected that one conduct oneself with some basic grace and humility, things like looking up or asking politely if there's words or concepts one's unfamiliar with, rather than baldly claiming that they don't exist or that you don't care enough to learn what they are. It's okay not to care. It's not okay to take a giant dump in the space where people who do care are talking about it.

Especially when it's not a new user. Especially when it's someone whose had multiple opportunities where people have patiently explained to them why they're coming off as an ass, and when their comments bely an intelligence and socially awareness enough to have adapted, when someone like that drops in at the end of an unrelated Metatalk thread to drop a comment about "entire contingent[s] who stand together", well, that's when people start to think that person should "tr[y] harder."
posted by kagredon at 7:49 PM on February 19, 2015 [4 favorites]


I see your point.
posted by clavdivs at 7:57 PM on February 19, 2015


it is expected that one conduct oneself with some basic grace and humility

You mean like this?
posted by phoenix_rising at 8:38 PM on February 19, 2015


I think your link is borked, phoenix_rising?
posted by gingerest at 9:21 PM on February 19, 2015


Darn.

Let's try that again.
posted by phoenix_rising at 9:36 PM on February 19, 2015


Well, as I alluded, I really do believe that aryma is smart and good at reading a room. Smart and good enough that she'd know that her comment would be an extremely provocative one, especially in a meta that really was not about commenting dynamics. So, I concluded that her provocation was intentional. However, I found the provocation...inartful? Not up to full potential, basically. "Troll harder" is a term of encouragement. If she wants to go around baiting people, she could be doing it a lot more sneakily.

Additionally, I don't think biting your tongue when people are behaving badly is what constitutes humility or grace, though I recognize that the dominant social narrative is that it is.
posted by kagredon at 9:43 PM on February 19, 2015 [1 favorite]


So you're ... encouraging trolling? Ok, whatevs.

But to be clear, I'm not necessarily talking about aryma or taking her side or anything. I think it would be useful in general to make the guidelines more salient. Several mefites have expressed hesitation about posting, lest they inadvertently say something amiss and end up on the naughty list. (This is partly why I don't post on the blue, although I read posts that I'm interested in. But I'm a quiet person anyway.) Like I said, grain of salt etc, it was just an idea. The orientation pages seem like they could be more useful if they were consolidated, updated, and made more visible, that's all.
posted by phoenix_rising at 9:48 PM on February 19, 2015


If you look through my Metatalk history you'll find that I am one of the people regularly arguing that Metafilter in general is not great at dealing with views that differ with the majority and that too frequently members seem to take pleasure in lining up to individually take shots at members holding outlying views, even when the point has long been sufficiently made.

That said, I find it obnoxious when members make seriously offensive comments on Metafilter and then try to martyr themselves as victims of pile-ons or getting ganged up on when the truth of the matter is they have made nasty, hurtful, often ignorant comments on here, and seem to expect that those views should be tolerated as just "another side of the argument", rather than aggressively called out as the awful drivel that it is.

When I read aryma's comments in this thread I had to pause to wonder exactly which viewpoints she feels she needs to keep to herself, because it certainly isn't the one about Jews needing to be more polite when complaining about anti-Semitism or the one where she told a member here that she was probably acting like an Internet Tough Guy due to mental health issues, or more recently lecturing self-identifying autistic members of the site that they weren't being sensitive enough to people complaining about how hard it is to deal with caring for people like them. If she's comfortable making those statements, I really do have to wonder exactly which more controversial opinions she's keeping to herself.
posted by The Gooch at 10:36 PM on February 19, 2015 [12 favorites]


Well, I just spent an hour or so reading through all the Welcome to MetaFilter material, which I probably should have done a long time ago, but - I was trying to find the identification of these terms that offend so many people so quickly and also trying to find some clarification of MetaFilter's connection to this group of people I set off all the time; I think of them as a group of feminists, which may or may not be the right classification (is it okay to even have a classification?). Ordinarily, feminists don't terrorize me - I agree with the basic premise of everything they stand for - but all extreme extremists offend me as much as I offend them, just by the very nature of extremists to turn everything around until they're in the center of the issue no matter what it started off to be, and then the rage/outrage that leaves people tiptoeing around to avoid crossing anyone's boundaries - in which case most people just take their toys and go home.

I finally found the "Jokes" page and the acronyms and specific Metafilter historical references that make this an interesting - and smart - place to be. But I didn't find any reference to feminist terminology nor did I find any link between Metafilter and a position involving feminism itself other than a support for marriage equality, which I'm behind 100%++ (again, now - I'm using the word "feminism" for lack of what might be something more pc because I don't know what phrase/term to use regarding this particular place and its community).

My only child is a trans man and he's an outstanding person and I'm very proud of him. His roommate now, who will soon be getting married, is also a trans man and his other best friend is, too; that best friend has been in a relationship for 8 years with a trans woman and my son is dating a lovely woman who has two great kids from an earlier marriage and also ended a 6-year lesbian relationship last year. Several of these folks are into Renfaire costumes and so I'm giving sewing lessons to them and helping them design, fit and sew costumes - and we have a blast doing that. (One other time I mentioned him and got hit hard with a message that I'm "using" him to justify my own position or something similar - I asked him about it, while he was with one of his friends, and he laughed and told me to tell anyone who said something negative like that to [go away] (it was a little more specific than that, but [go away] works; he said his message about transitioning is a positive one, period, and anything that speaks positively about it is excellent. He said that of course it's very difficult - transitioning - and that every person's experience varies so positive encouragement is the best way to go - negatives only make it harder.

The only point I'm making here is that I am not an anti-feminist; I'm an anti-extremist, if anything. As for the language, it would help if Metafilter is going to stand behind trans and feminist issues to the degree that it apparently does if they'd update their lingo list somewhere to make the terminology clearer, but that's not a demand, just a suggestion. I know that colleges today have classes in Gender Studies as part of their Social Sciences curriculum and, like most college classes, the terminology is an important part of the study. I've actually attended a couple of meetings featuring guest speakers here at Gonzaga and they were excellent - but not the same as attending the class. I'm glad the subject of gender studies is becoming a big thing at the level of higher education - that's where change originates that moves things forward much of the time.

Boyohboy, Gooch - nice rewrite, there. Whew! That's a lot of hate you have there, Sir, and a lot of material that's been recycled to the point where it isn't even recognizable.

I'll have to study the Patriarchy issue further, and I probably shouldn't have reduced it to the degree that I did in my earlier comment. It seems to me at this early point though that society itself has revolved around the male as leader of the pack for centuries, perhaps based originally on his greater size and strength, perhaps partly based on religious doctrine, etc - but it became the unwritten law that man would be the breadwinner and woman the domestic homemaker and nurturer. Women now are moving faster than before into respectable positions as CEOs and judges and military officers and physicists - positions traditionally held by men. It's a slow journey, but I think women are on the move and it will be a slow but steady grind to overcome the extreme conservative trap into the maximization of the woman's potential - it will probably take another century, but it is moving. It would seem to me that complaining about being held back because we're women would be less effective than just quietly taking the helm and doing a good job of it when we get the opportunity - meaning education, persistence, professionalism, courage - all the stuff that makes women what they are. But I don't know much about the Patriarchy - I'll try to learn more and get some better ideas.

Just want to add one more thing - a question for We had a deal, Kyle: Where have you found me "railing against SJWs"? Please show me what you're talking about.
posted by aryma at 11:39 PM on February 19, 2015


> My only child is a trans man and he's an outstanding person and I'm very proud of him

That's nice. Why are you bringing it up here and now?
posted by Too-Ticky at 12:18 AM on February 20, 2015 [5 favorites]


"The only point I'm making here is that I am not an anti-feminist; I'm an anti-extremist, if anything."

The point you're making is that you're somewhere between Emily Litella and Roseanne Roseannadanna.
posted by klangklangston at 12:37 AM on February 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


against my better judgement, here goes nothing.

Aryma, it is wonderful that you love and support your son so fiercely. It's a far rarer thing than it should be and it truly reflects well upon you. But part of the pushback that you're seeing is that, as Too-Ticky alludes, it really doesn't have any bearing on why people criticize comments you've made.

Part of living in a society with systematic oppression is that everyone has some unexamined crappy stuff that they've internalized and that bubbles up from time to time. Everyone, including people who make it their life's work to push back against oppression. It doesn't make you a bad person, it's just kind of inevitable. And, conversely, there's no amount of good works that make you immune from slipping up.

When someone points out something they find problematic in a comment that you've made, they aren't doing it to impugn your character. It seems like your response to that kind of criticism often takes the form of (a) trying to assert your "good liberal" bona-fides or (b) attacking the character people who are trying to discuss your comment (e.g. by implying that they're extremists and that you therefore maintain the moral high ground.) I think maybe if you try to hold a certain distance between yourself and your comments, things will seem a little less fraught.
posted by kagredon at 1:59 AM on February 20, 2015 [5 favorites]


So you're ... encouraging trolling? Ok, whatevs.

In a tongue-in-cheek way, kind of. If you can't get rid of trolling (and in an online community, you probably can't), you might as well go for the best quality trolling you can get. The whole cabal/thought police meme comes up often enough that it's become tired and uncreative and hard to read as being posted in any kind of sincerity. It's not even really maddening anymore, it's just silly.

I think it would be useful in general to make the guidelines more salient. Several mefites have expressed hesitation about posting, lest they inadvertently say something amiss and end up on the naughty list.

There is no "naughty list". Encouraging the false idea that there is one, or that there is some "right speech" that is dictated here seems like it would only make things more intimidating not less. Try to gauge the general flow of the conversation before you jump in. Be mindful of the fact that this site has people from a lot of different walks of life, and that if you say something ignorant or hurtful, it's likely going to affect someone listening. Realize that people here are smart and passionate and will not hesitate to speak up if they see something they disagree with. There's your salient guidelines.
posted by kagredon at 2:19 AM on February 20, 2015 [6 favorites]


Arguing with the dining room table.
posted by Invisible Green Time-Lapse Peloton at 4:19 AM on February 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


Boyohboy, Gooch - nice rewrite, there. Whew! That's a lot of hate you have there, Sir, and a lot of material that's been recycled to the point where it isn't even recognizable.

No, the Gooch is correct. You have made at least two, maybe three (I have no interest in rereading those threads) super toxic comments that should have gotten you at least a couple of time-outs if not a ban. And then you have a habit (as you are doing here) of creating a "me against the feminist mob" dynamic that is functionally the same as trolling.

In other contexts you make great comments and you are clearly a smart person, but on a few issues you are behaving notably poorly and that decision is not to your credit.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:46 AM on February 20, 2015 [9 favorites]


It's bizarre to me when people continually enter into existing discussions, like comment threads, in which certain people are participating, and then complain that those same people jump all over them "every time" they make a comment, as if (for example) people only comment in feminism threads because they're following around someone they don't agree with, rather than because they're interested in feminism and already "in the room" when that person comments.
posted by jaguar at 7:03 AM on February 20, 2015 [7 favorites]


There is no "naughty list". Encouraging the false idea that there is one, or that there is some "right speech" that is dictated here seems like it would only make things more intimidating not less.

Whether we'd like to admit it or not, some viewpoints/phrases/dog-whistles/ways-of-framing are not well tolerated on Metafilter. I'm not commenting on whether this is good or bad, just that it exists and some users are intimidated because they don't want to accidentally fall on the wrong side of these issues. (Again, I'm not talking about users who deliberately goad others, but rather those who simply aren't clued in to all the issues.)

I'm not going to argue with you further so I'll bow out of the thread now; I think I've made my point sufficiently clear.
posted by phoenix_rising at 7:46 AM on February 20, 2015


a question for We had a deal, Kyle: Where have you found me "railing against SJWs"? Please show me what you're talking about.

I think you're running the "show me the evidence" playbook here, but okay: here ("these people"); here ("this crowd"); and it still beats me that you didn't get a timeout, or even the slightest pushback in-thread from the mods, for this attack on NoraReed.

I am not an anti-feminist; I'm an anti-extremist, if anything.

But it usually does seem to be strongly-stated feminist views that trigger your "THE PITCHFORK MOB IS ATTACKING" responses. That reaction often comes across as "feminists should know their place": that feminism should be respectful, not angry; that feminism is acceptable only when it's performed to your standards. And that can feel very dismissive to others' viewpoints: anger is a legitimate response to oppression, and the last few years have felt pretty goddamn oppressive towards women.

[This Cracked article floated across my Twitter yesterday, and #4 is pertinent here.]
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 10:36 AM on February 20, 2015 [8 favorites]


I haven't been following this discussion real closely, but it reminds me of something I wrote recently:
I was a homemaker for a lot of years and basically didn't need to particularly care what anyone thought about my opinions on anything because as long as I was getting along well enough with my husband, I would have a roof over my head and food on the table. The rest of the world could vehemently disagree with me and so on and it mostly didn't matter. Also, as a homemaker, I think most folks figured that my opinions weren't going to shape the world in any important ways, so I think most folks cared a lot less about what I thought simply because I lacked much real power. I think folks ignored me more than I realized back then.

Then I got divorced and I worked for a Fortune 500 company for a few years. While there and dependent upon my paycheck from that job, I began worrying about the possibility of winding up fired for spouting off online as if I could say anything I wanted. So I began being somewhat less free and open online. Prior to that, I think other people, who generally had more constraints in their lives than I had as a homemaker, probably found me somewhat obnoxious or viewed me as flouting convention.

self link
I find myself wondering if aryma sees as much friction as she does for similar reasons. It's taken me a long, long time to figure out how civil public discourse in a heterogenous group works. And a long time to figure out why what I was doing was a problem -- because I was often doing things people claim they wish the world did more of and being just raked over the coals for it.
posted by Michele in California at 10:42 AM on February 20, 2015 [1 favorite]


I don't think you needed to link all that other stuff, you could've said all that in a sentence.
posted by Invisible Green Time-Lapse Peloton at 10:47 AM on February 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


it still beats me that you didn't get a timeout, or even the slightest pushback in-thread from the mods, for this attack on NoraReed.

I'll address that publicly here, since we should have said or done something more at the time. (There was a lot of stuff going on that day and it got past us at the time, then the thread was closed.) That wasn't okay.

It's part of what I've said elsewhere about how I feel that in general and in that thread specifically, we reached a point of toxic highly-personal attacks that are unsustainable -- and the queue and MeTa moderation are going to need to draw more of a line about some of this personal stuff than we historically have. We might have some rockiness or even inconsistency as we feel our way toward how to draw those lines, but pretty clearly, that comment was not okay. People should not think it's okay: it's not.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 12:32 PM on February 20, 2015 [7 favorites]


Yeah, and I had meant to address that comment specifically at the time but got bogged down with other stuff (that thread and its surrounding context and stuff was a busy, busy mess), and that's my bad.

I did say explicitly in there that speculating about other users' mental state isn't cool and needs to not happen, but at the time I was replying to another user and I can see that being seen as more a specific than a general response. I regret not leaving an additional comment in a mod capacity more clearly addressing it.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:43 PM on February 20, 2015 [4 favorites]


That whole thread was a disaster and makes me question the utility of the queue - if such a thinly disguised referendum on the participation and impact of a single member is okay, then what isn't acceptable? Sure, it was nominally a legitimatre question, but misha's history with NoraReed and the context made it very obvious what was going on. Both of them have since buttoned, so it's not about them that I'm bringing this up - it's about moderation and the queue and erring on the side of caution, I guess.
posted by gingerest at 3:33 PM on February 20, 2015


Well, that thread changed the way we'll deal with queued posts like that in the future. Prior to that, we have really been approving just about everything, even things we don't like, even things we think will go really badly. (Because as you can see here, a lot of people really don't want mods to be rejecting any MeTas.) After that thread, I think we'll be more judicious about posts that seem likely to get hyper-personal.

It's a hard balance to strike, since historically MeTa has been the venue where you could complain about someone's behavior if you felt like their behavior was causing problems on the site. But we need to find a way to do that without having it turn into vicious no-holds-barred hyper-personal stuff.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 4:10 PM on February 20, 2015 [3 favorites]


I appreciate the insight in the respectful but firm comments above and I'm grateful to kagredon and Michelle especially, but also to Dip Flash, phoenix rising and gingerest, and always to the mods, who have an impossible job and do it well. Not flattery - sincerity - even if I'm banned.

Michelle's explanation makes sense to me and it would explain why I just don't see where I'm setting myself up as the enemy to feminism or those who believe and fight for social justice, but I guess that's the way everyone else sees it, so that's the way it is. There are a number of points that one might call the "naughty list" or viewpoints that are not tolerated well on Metafilter, but I can learn them and stay away from them like others do - I'd rather learn what to avoid than to leave.

No, I'm not a martyr, but I'm not an evil monster, either. I thought I was pretty supportive of feminism and social justice, just not enraged and furious about the issues to the same level as those I'd call "extreme." As for the "vicious" and nasty stuff I've contributed, I've taken some, too, and it's hurt; I'm really not just running around viciously attacking people at random or viciously attacking people because I'm a conservative, as scrump suggested, or

oh, heck with it - this whole thread has turned out to be about me again. I'll try to just ignore things I don't understand in the future - and maybe I can even stay away from Talk. I'm sorry to everyone I've offended - but I guess I can only apologize, not understand.
posted by aryma at 5:15 PM on February 20, 2015


Michelle's explanation makes sense to me and it would explain why I just don't see where I'm setting myself up as the enemy to feminism or those who believe and fight for social justice, but I guess that's the way everyone else sees it, so that's the way it is.

No, that's not in any way how everyone else sees it, and it's an extremely self-aggrandizing explanation.
posted by jaguar at 6:41 PM on February 20, 2015 [2 favorites]


That is to say, the rest of us are not "constrained" in what we say due to some corporate brainwashing, and that assumption is ridiculous. Many of us do have nuanced views of things, many of us have done a lot of reading and study about these issues, many of us have lots of different experiences about these issues, and most of us have the humility to understand that our own personal experiences are not universal. Many of us therefore understandably bristle when being told that one other person's experience, unbacked by any sort of study or citation or nuanced understanding, somehow trumps our own.
posted by jaguar at 6:45 PM on February 20, 2015 [5 favorites]


"Michelle's explanation makes sense to me and it would explain why I just don't see where I'm setting myself up as the enemy to feminism or those who believe and fight for social justice, but I guess that's the way everyone else sees it, so that's the way it is. There are a number of points that one might call the "naughty list" or viewpoints that are not tolerated well on Metafilter, but I can learn them and stay away from them like others do - I'd rather learn what to avoid than to leave. "

That's a weird way to think about it, honestly. I don't think you're evil or twirling a mustache or anything, I just think you're kinda cluelessly offensive and when people tell you that you assume it's because of their identity politics not because you can come across as cluelessly offensive. You remind me a lot of one of my grandmothers, now passed, who was very forward with her views and not very adept at reading audiences. I love her, but she could also be a great big asshole to people and get all, "Who me? I thought she'd appreciate being told that her hair made her look like Bozo! I'd want to know if I looked like Bozo!" when she got called on it. Some of the traits that made her transgressively hilarious also led her to be wildly offensive.

She was also someone whom I think of as very feminist in some ways — fought for equal pay, worked outside the home pretty much her whole life, had no time for people who thought that women couldn't do anything — while still being really of her time in others — made my grandfather's breakfast every day (even though she hated making it and he hated eating it), thought '70s feminists were bra-burners and making too much of a big deal out of harassment, thought lesbians were weird. She was a self-described "big, brassy broad" and thought anyone who couldn't keep up was a whiner or a loafer, which, again, was great in some ways and pretty fucked up in others.

(The other gramma was sweet as pecan pie but racist, sexist and passive aggressive to her core, but that's another story.)
posted by klangklangston at 8:01 PM on February 20, 2015 [8 favorites]


I kinda got the maternal read there too Klang. Loved my grandmother but she had that these and those people/all equal mind you and look what our ancestors did type of sway.

'Dearborn Independent'
"Get that paper gram, delivered or what"

OOoo,The stone silence.
Never a word. That is my interpretation of a dogwhistle of sorts.

My other gram, at 80 moved to Arizona and drove. This mannequin she had had in the attic, she put in the front passenger seat. Old wig and a T shirt, long. Buckled him in.

She left it in the last motel before Scottdale. Imagine the maid mumbling "not again."

The night she died, she pulled the Fire alarm in the Nursing home. Asked why, "because I always wanted too."

She raised 16 orphans.
She deserved it.
posted by clavdivs at 9:35 PM on February 20, 2015 [5 favorites]


what
posted by kagredon at 10:54 PM on February 20, 2015


As with many clavdivs comments, if you know what he's referencing the connections are pretty clear (Dearborn Independent was a Ford paper notorious for anti-Semitism; Father Coughlin of newsprint).

The sacrifices of clarity for concision frustrate some, encourage others. Also sometimes anecdotes have color and ambiguity rather than resolved conclusions.
posted by klangklangston at 2:47 AM on February 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


Indeed.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 3:19 AM on February 21, 2015


Quite!
posted by clavdivs at 6:52 AM on February 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


No, I'm not a martyr, but I'm not an evil monster, either. I thought I was pretty supportive of feminism and social justice, just not enraged and furious about the issues to the same level as those I'd call "extreme." As for the "vicious" and nasty stuff I've contributed, I've taken some, too, and it's hurt; I'm really not just running around viciously attacking people at random or viciously attacking people because I'm a conservative, as scrump suggested

I think this sentiment right here sums up nicely the problems I've had with the way you engage around here, and is (maybe unintentionally?) revealing of your mindset as a whole when it comes to participation on Metafilter.

You have this image in your mind of their being some kind of PC Brigade on this site, working in concert and commiting great harm. This is a POV you've been pretty open about, on many occasions. Whenever you drop something toxic in a thread, any amount of pushback is inevitably characterized as being acts of violence; evoking imagery of fire, poison, swords, being attacked with hammers or pissing tomcats and the like.

In other words, you are the only who is allowed to "just" say what they want; anyone responding with disagreement in any way isn't "just" saying what they want, too - they're attacking you.

The thing about freedom of speech is that it doesn't mean freedom from criticism; even robust disagreement. That's the price of admission in a discussion. You may have people disagree with you, and sometimes very strongly. I guess my suggestion would be to maybe consider the rest of us your peers instead of little children who need to be lectured to about how much growing up they need to do, and consider also that being disagreed with, even in some pretty strong terms, is not the end of the world or even something you need to shy away from. If you get to say your piece, others get to do the same, and it'd be great if you could stop characterizing criticism as violence.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 7:51 AM on February 21, 2015 [11 favorites]


That is to say, the rest of us are not "constrained" in what we say due to some corporate brainwashing

That isn't what I said at all. It's more like saying I was a bit too much like the grandmother saying "What? I thought you would appreciate being told your hair looked like Bozo the clown." and then I realized that spouting off unthinkingly could potentially get me fired, which would have been a bad thing, at which point I began wondering how to express myself without it being a big problem. That has nothing to do with corporate brainwashing and it doesn't in any way suggest that people lack nuance in their positions. It just means that it is far more common for people to not volunteer their opinion that "you look like Bozo" and, if asked, be more careful in their wording than that when expressing the idea that perhaps another hairstyle might be more flattering.

I wasn't being intentionally offensive when I was doing things like that. I just lived differently from most people who interact with the public regularly. It wasn't until I had a full time paid job that I had any perspective on what the problem was. I strongly suspect that street runs both ways: People who have always worked don't understand my life experience either and why certain things I do make sense to me, not because they are stupid, but because they just have had a different life experience.
posted by Michele in California at 10:39 AM on February 21, 2015


Prior to that, I think other people, who generally had more constraints in their lives than I had as a homemaker, probably found me somewhat obnoxious or viewed me as flouting convention.
posted by jaguar at 10:56 AM on February 21, 2015


I am well aware of what I wrote. Please note the lack of the term corporate brainwashing.
posted by Michele in California at 11:05 AM on February 21, 2015


Then I got divorced and I worked for a Fortune 500 company for a few years.
posted by jaguar at 11:12 AM on February 21, 2015


Basically, I think your explanation for your own communication issues is weird, anyway, and I don't think it in any way applies to armya's behavior.
posted by jaguar at 11:13 AM on February 21, 2015


I took it Michele was just talking about getting used to talking to a more mixed audience, and realizing that your good intentions (etc) don't always come across the way you might like, so you need to be more careful or deliberate about what you say. If you're always at home and only interact with your family, you're only interacting with an audience that knows you well, whereas in a work role you need to interact more with an audience of mixed backgrounds and mixed connections to you... so you need to put more thought into how the audience is going to understand what you're saying.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 11:19 AM on February 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


Basically, I think your explanation for your own communication issues is weird, anyway, and I don't think it in any way applies to armya's behavior.

My understanding is that aryma is a former homemaker. And it sounds like it was meaningful to her.
posted by Michele in California at 11:28 AM on February 21, 2015


...in a way that caused her to increase her perception that she's seen as an "enemy of feminism and social justice" simply because she's not following conventions, which is not what's actually happening. She's actively insulting, belittling, and dismissing other people, and I don't think that has anything to do with her being or having been a housewife, and I think her glossing over her own actions with "Oh, I'm just a housewife! How am I supposed to know all the lingo!" is exactly part of the problem, which Michele in California is encouraging as if that's how all the rest of the userbase thinks.
posted by jaguar at 1:16 PM on February 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


Yeah, literally no one is taking issue with aryma not being hip to the lingo all the cool kids are using, so I don't even get that angle at all. That's not even an expectation. I do think even sheltered unhip home-makers are capable of characterizing fairly those who disagree with them on some points, and of showing the same respect for the speech of others that they want to be afforded themselves.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 2:35 PM on February 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


She's actively insulting, belittling, and dismissing other people, and I don't think that has anything to do with her being or having been a housewife

My observation has been that powerless people often use very strong language in an attempt to pressure people in hopes of getting results when they know no other way. In my own marriage, my husband often did not listen to me unless there was an ugly fight first. Asking nicely tended to not accomplish much. It is part of why I am divorced. I chose to stop screaming at him and to, instead, exercise power (in my case: go to college and ultimately leave him). So I suspect that insulting, belittling and dismissing people probably is related to her having been a housewife and her protests that she doesn't know the lingo have some validity insofar as she doesn't know a more effective way to communicate (and probably doesn't realize how ugly it sounds to other people or why it is so unacceptable).

Furthermore, my remarks above kind of put it on her for her to "learn the lingo" so to speak. It doesn't excuse it. I didn't excuse my own behavior. I tried to figure out why it was so grating on others and tried to amend it. It would be nice if other parties would make some allowances for growing pains as she tries to figure out how public discourse works, but whether they do or not, it looks to me like she got some constructive feedback here and will try to act on it. So I am satisfied with having posted what I posted.
posted by Michele in California at 4:34 PM on February 21, 2015


At this point, I'm going to ask that we stop psychoanalyzing aryma or speculating about her background and whatnot. I understand it's coming from a place of good intentions, MiC, but let's just maybe let that drop. We can talk about what we've seen on the site, but we don't know and nobody's obliged to tell us about their background -- we can talk about site issues without going there.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 4:43 PM on February 21, 2015 [6 favorites]


Yeah, if it's a dick move for aryma to speculate about Nora, it's a dick move to speculate about some sort of hausfrau weltanschauung as the underpinnings of her behavior.
posted by klangklangston at 5:38 PM on February 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


For the record, only:

I was never a housewife. I worked full-time for 31 years, sometimes carrying two jobs. I spent 5 years at Hughes Aircraft in a job which required me to keep parts available to circuit board and missile launcher lines; I was a department secretary at the University of Arizona in three different departments - Early Childhood Education, Plant Sciences and Planetary Sciences, for a total of around six years; I worked for Kelly Girls doing all sorts of jobs and loved it; I worked in California for Kaiser Aerospace & Electronics; I obtained certification as a legal secretary and worked for lawyers for a short time and hated it. I earned excellent recommendations from all those jobs - I changed jobs when I felt like it because I was always curious to learn something new and I had excellent references so I could do that. That was my business career in a nutshell. Over those years I had married, had several miscarriages and had one very beautiful child to raise by myself, since I was divorced after 5 years.

We then moved to a small town in Colorado for a whole slew of reasons, but when we got there it turned out the people who had so eagerly encouraged the move were entirely wrong and there were no office jobs available at all, so I ended up with two options: work at the candy factory putting candies in boxes or get trained and certified as a nurse's aide and work at a nursing home. I chose the latter. I worked for two nursing homes there for many years and then later at the hospital for a couple of years. During the last few years in Tucson and the Colorado years my daughter grew into a nightmare of a teenager - we had a hard, hard time, culminating in her running away back to Tucson at the age of 17, where I allowed her to stay with friends - I went back to Colorado heartbroken, but the trouble had been for many years and so I just had to deal with it. My daughter and a friend and the friend's baby came back to Colorado the next year and we moved in together; I got the girls jobs at the nursing home and they hated it, but I wasn't - and couldn't - support all of us on that money. Her friend found a man to move in with where she didn't have to work, so that just left the two of us. We did okay. I was working at the hospital as a CNA then.

A few years later my daughter got pregnant - she had accepted a dare to go to bed with a guy who played in a band and - wouldn't you know it? - was pregnant immediately. So I was going to be a grandmother - I was thrilled to death, since I never expected my daughter to marry - she was a tomboy and then some; at the time I had no idea that she was gay - I knew very little about lesbians, though I had known several gay men over the years. She had a beautiful baby girl. The hospital was losing money (I was working in as a Medical Records Transcriptionist then), we had to take pay cuts, and we had a baby to take care of, so we moved North, first to Missoula, then to Spokane, where I could get good-paying work without any problem. I worked for one of the major hospitals here in Spokane for five years as a transcriptionist, nice salary, full benefits - and I bought a house.

I was 48 when I got sick - weird sick, really sick - I thought I had a brain tumor like my father, but it turned out I had Parkinson's Disease. I worked for another year and a half until I just couldn't type worth a damn anymore and certainly not at speed and then my whole world collapsed - I sold my home for practically nothing, which broke my heart, bought a house trailer, wound up in bankruptcy due to the rules regarding disability and waiting nine months with no income, my mother required my presence in Tucson as she was dying, and I was gone so long to Tucson the IRS was after me for capital gains on my house transfer - it was only for $5K but that was impossible on a SSD income. I hit the wall in a depression and signed myself into the psych unit at the hospital here - I was truly suicidal for the first time in my life.

They handled me well and I was released back into the world where I've spent the last 20 years adjusting to losses as they come along - that's what we do when we get old and/or sick and it's all progressive, you know - we just keep adjusting or die, is about what it's all about. It's okay - everyone who lives long enough has to figure out how to manage it - and in truth it molds one's character quite nicely; it certainly brings us to the choice of what's important and what isn't to us when it comes so close to home and it isn't going away.

My daughter is now my son and he's so much happier now it's just unbelievable. My granddaughter is a happily married, college educated, brilliant musician and kind and beautiful person - so all the important stuff is covered, for me.
posted by aryma at 5:42 PM on February 21, 2015


Now I have just a couple of short things to say about the comparison of myself to a cranky but clueless grandma from someone else's family. I've always said that the motivation and incentive is what matters to me, so I'm taking this comparison as an expression of kind tolerance for the peculiar and rather unpleasant behavior of old women - but it's kind, in its own way, so it's also appreciated.

I want to point out a couple of things about cranky and clueless old grandmothers: We have had long lives, we've seen so many changes over the years - not just stuff like we didn't even have microwaves when I was a kid - no, no, no. My grandmother was part of the effort to get women a vote! My mother's generation of women were supposed to be married and housewives - until all the men went off to war and the women had to go to work and build aircraft parts instead of back cookies for the kiddies. And they did, and they did it well. In my own background - when I was a college student and in love and I wanted birth control pills (which were horrible with side effects then, but still amazingly wonderful) I had to be married to get a prescription for them! And there was certainly no abortion or morning-after pill - and we had to douche - all women had to do that - and many of us hoped it would work for birth control. Later, after I was married and divorced, I was denied the chance to rent apartments because I was a divorcee' - divorcee's were sluts and attracted men like honey attracts bees; that part is actually true - I had so many men tell me I needed to get laid because "once I'd had sex I could never live without it" - my life was thought to be absolutely unbearable if it didn't have some man's hot body in it.
posted by aryma at 5:55 PM on February 21, 2015


When I was a junior in high school I wanted a date with this gorgeous guy on our football team. I worked at it, and finally he asked me out. He took me to his house instead of to the bowling alley where we were supposed to meet friends for a fun time bowling - he wanted to pick up a record album to loan me - so we went there. When we got there he asked me to come in and meet his Dad, so I went in and met his Dad, who was sprawled out on the sofa watching TV, didn't have very many clothes on, and didn't even bother getting up. Anyway, the "boyfriend" asked me to come to his room while he found the record and I thought it was because he was embarrassed about his father's appearance, so I went with him. When we got there he started digging through his records and I sat down on the chair by his desk. Pretty soon his father showed up - he came into the room, turned and moved the dresser in front of the bedroom door. I was a little slow and couldn't really believe what seemed to be happening. Then the guy - KE, I'll call him - came over to me and began to unbutton my sweater and push me toward the bed. I pushed him away and his father came over and between the two of them they got my clothes off - I ended up on the bed, obviously, and was raped and hurt so bad - pushed and shoved and held down and laughed at and bruised and - the whole nine yards.

And when it was over I was helped into my clothes, given a dirty comb to fix my hair, and then driven home to my house, where he knew I wouldn't say a word. Why? Because if I had said anything to my parents about it at all - it would have been MY fault, you see. Yep - MY leading him on, MY going to his bedroom, MY flirting with him. I didn't even realize that rape was what had happened - I only knew that I was hurt and bleeding between my legs and I wasn't even sure what happened. I didn't even know what sex involved - that's how young and innocent we were in those days! And I didn't have any brothers and didn't even know what an erection was - can you imagine that?

Well, that was my rape. My friend's mother explained it to me later. It was awful. It was a very long time before I'd get anywhere near a boy and when I finally did I married him because he was the only one I trusted not to rape me. Another big mistake.

When I went to the University, though, there were lots of opportunities for parties and drinking and sex and I'm sorry to say this but it was the God's truth that everyone at the university knew that you didn't go to a frat party or any other party where there would be a lot of drunk people and where you were drinking also and not expect to have sex. Parties, drunk people and sex went together. In those dinosaur days when I was in college - and when your grandmothers were in college - a woman would, sadly, be laughed at if she claimed rape after going to a frat party.

I don't laugh at women who get into that fix today because for some reason they've got the idea that it's perfectly acceptable to go to a wild, drunken party and expect not to be touched. So, based on that - to me foolish - idea, they're being taken advantage of, not as much by the men at the party as by whoever told them it was okay to go to the party, that nothing would happen.

Oh, just one more thing about the whole rape thing: At some time a couple of years ago there was a discussion of rape going on here and I wrote a comment about my own rape. Jessamyn rejected it and sent me a note asking me if I could take it down a notch with the graphic imagery or something like that - because the way it was it would upset some people here. I did cut it way back, turned it into nothing, and couldn't help but reflect on how much like home that was - keep it to yourself, don't upset anyone. I'm not meaning to be mean or snarky to Jessamyn or to anyone else here - I'm saying that the effect that had on me was a trigger that took me back to one of the saddest days of my life - just like the trigger she anticipated my words would be to someone else. The only reason I'm telling the story now - and here, as I'm sure there will be criticism for not putting it in the "false rape" thread - is because this whole damn thread has involved speculation about who and what I am and where I get off with speaking up even if it offends others.

I do, seriously and sincerely, apologize for hurting you if I've done so. I'm also tired of the speculation and judgement against me. But I want to tell you that your own cranky grandmothers were fighters who had fought all their lives to earn and keep a position as a worthwhile human being in the eyes of those who only saw second-class citizens when they saw women and old women were just a joke. Those old grandmothers very possibly went through rape and miscarriages and - if she was single or divorced - landlords who demanded sex when the rent money was short - I've had that one, too - and the boss who could only guarantee her job if she threw in a little lovin', the neighbor woman who was certain the single one was after her husband, etc. There were NO sexual harassment laws then, NO protections whatever. Any man who worked with you could pat you on the butt, brush against your chest, leer at you, make suggestive remarks, speculate about what kind of underwear you wore - every single day - and no one would make him stop.

That's the background I come from. I apologize to those who are offended. I wish I had the whatever to just get the heck out of Metafilter, but dammit I like so much of what goes on around here I can't do it myself. If the mods want me banned, I guess that's what will be the end of me here.
posted by aryma at 6:32 PM on February 21, 2015


aryma, I appreciate your experiences. I think you mean well, and that you're usually trying to push back against what you see as bullying.

But I also think you've misunderstood some things about conversational/cultural norms here, and as a consequence you've put your foot in your mouth a few times pretty badly. I think people would like it if you apologized for that comment you made about NoraReed, speculating about her background.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 6:54 PM on February 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


As well as for just saying that women raped at frat parties were asking for it.
posted by jaguar at 6:58 PM on February 21, 2015 [3 favorites]


Whatever happens now, we are not going to get into a discussion of the idea of "asking for it" or the prudence of women going to frat parties. Please don't pursue that. If someone's got a view on that, they can keep it to themselves.

The piece of air I'd like to clear is the one that's MetaTalk-related, and that is the comment about NoraReed's background.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 7:07 PM on February 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


I don't laugh at women who get into that fix today because for some reason they've got the idea that it's perfectly acceptable to go to a wild, drunken party and expect not to be touched.

And you wonder why you get pushback. Jesus.
posted by rtha at 7:15 PM on February 21, 2015 [11 favorites]


Whatever happens now, we are not going to get into a discussion of the idea of "asking for it" or the prudence of women going to frat parties. Please don't pursue that. If someone's got a view on that, they can keep it to themselves.

The piece of air I'd like to clear is the one that's MetaTalk-related, and that is the comment about NoraReed's background


In what way does it make sense to think that extracting an extremely belated apology makes sense when the latest turd in the punch bowl is sitting there nice and fresh, just a few comments above? How much clearer can the "does not get it" be?
posted by Dip Flash at 7:32 PM on February 21, 2015 [3 favorites]


I don't want to open a forum where aryma feels she should try to defend her view on that subject. That helps nobody, it just creates a space for a discussion that will go badly, to no benefit.

I think there could be some benefit to offering a narrowly-specified chance to redress one specific inter-user interaction people were upset by, and I've tried to make it straightforward to apologize for that one thing without getting into a lot of extra explanation (which will just create more problems). This is a situation where less talking is better.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 7:36 PM on February 21, 2015


I understand not wanting to deal with a whole new tangent, but I think the reasonable way is to give a time-out, not just ask everyone to pretend the horrible thing was not said or was not horrible enough to merit comment. I've seen that "Let's all pretend that didn't just happen" asked a couple times previously (not with this same poster) and I think this is an example of how slightly more aggressive moderation would be helpful in heading off flame-outs. Letting people have a pass for saying horrible things just because they often say even worse things is not, in my opinion, sustainable.
posted by jaguar at 7:37 PM on February 21, 2015 [6 favorites]


A timeout for what? For having a wrong view? We don't give timeouts for holding a certain view, even a view we think is wrong and offensive. If someone wants to double down on arguing about their view after being asked not to, that's a different story.

I would like to give people the maximum possible chance to back gracefully out of a situation where they've screwed up. If someone's having trouble doing that, but seemingly is trying, I feel like it's better to try to help if I can.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 7:50 PM on February 21, 2015


For "You're digging a hole and we need you to stop."
posted by jaguar at 7:54 PM on February 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


aryma, just to be clear, this is the kind of thing jaguar means by that last comment (and I agree):

You get into a scrape in a thread by saying something that offends people, then you try to apologize or explain yourself, but in that apology or explanation you add something else that offends people. You've said before you feel like you don't know how to predict what will offend people here. Therefore -- and this is just me saying this -- at this point, your best move is to apologize with the fewest words you can, without elaborating.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 8:00 PM on February 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


We don't give timeouts for holding a certain view, even a view we think is wrong and offensive.
I've seen people be banned for holding - rather, expressing - certain views. I could make a list of 'certain views' that, were they expressed on MF, would get people banned. Rightfully.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:08 PM on February 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm sure there are things on that list, so you're right, the thing I said has exceptions.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 8:12 PM on February 21, 2015


I would like to give people the maximum possible chance to back gracefully out of a situation where they've screwed up.

People that are very successful doing that IRL often have trouble on the webs because nobody can see your facial expressions or your body language and they are used to that being taken into account.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 8:48 PM on February 21, 2015


The only reason I'm telling the story now - and here, as I'm sure there will be criticism for not putting it in the "false rape" thread - is because this whole damn thread has involved speculation about who and what I am and where I get off with speaking up even if it offends others.

okay but

it might've been a good idea to recall Jessamyn's advice to you about your previous comment and consider whether your telling really needed to include the degree of graphic detail that you led off your comment with, especially in a thread has not included any prior discussion of rape and that many people will not be reading with any expectation that they may encounter something potentially triggering.

this is kind of related to what LM is alluding to: the text of your comments will acknowledge you understand other people's concerns about your behavior, but this never seems to translate into any effort to actually address the concerns.
posted by kagredon at 8:54 PM on February 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


I've seen people be banned for holding - rather, expressing - certain views. I could make a list of 'certain views' that, were they expressed on MF, would get people banned.

And another mefite gets sent to the countryside for re-education ....
posted by phoenix_rising at 9:32 PM on February 21, 2015


stay classy, p_r.
posted by kagredon at 9:37 PM on February 21, 2015


And another mefite gets sent to the countryside for re-education


I'm unsure of what you mean, phoenix_rising. Could you be more specific?
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:49 PM on February 21, 2015


Seriously, there are a lot of at least nominally productive ways to talk about the tensions between free speech principles and the value of a shared community ethos, but hackneyed references to Orwell, Naziism, and Vietnamese/Maoist re-education camps are basically literally never among them.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:53 PM on February 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


I've seen many times when someone unintentionally pissed off a contingent of mefites bcs they weren't clued in to the way that certain phrasing/framing/viewpoints can push buttons.

lol
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 10:07 PM on February 21, 2015


Every single person whom I've offended in some way has at one time or another determined what they think is 'wrong' with me, figured out how to classify and file me into a box that explains my behavior; that's human nature. Not until today have these speculations about me and my background been brought forward, and when they were they weren't seriously damaging - because it takes more than being dismissed to seriously damage me at this time in my life.

Nora Reed's comments were fast and furious that day, rude and fighty. Others were upset and I felt like Nora was way out of line; I figured out how to classify and file her into a box that explained her behavior.

But then I put my conclusions out there, which I should never have done. For that, I apologize to Nora and to the rest of you. It was not my place to call out why Nora's the way she is, to speculate at what makes her tick, and I'm sorry I went that far. I should have kept my feelings to myself and maybe flagged her comments and that's all.
posted by aryma at 10:25 PM on February 21, 2015 [4 favorites]


Thank you for saying so.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 10:33 PM on February 21, 2015


Every single person whom I've offended in some way has at one time or another determined what they think is 'wrong' with me, figured out how to classify and file me into a box that explains my behavior ... Others were upset and I felt like Nora was way out of line; I figured out how to classify and file her into a box that explained her behavior.

Respectfully, this sounds like you apologizing for doing a thing to someone else that you think always happens to you. I just want offer my own observation that this isn't necessarily the case. The problem with your NoraReed comment is exactly as you say, and that's great that you cop to it now after the issue's been raised repeatedly. But this isn't a case of "I'm guilty of doing the very same thing that every single person whom I've offended in some way has at one time or another done to me". The vast majority of the pushback you get comes not in the form of people speculating on your psychological make-up or background (though it demonstrably has happened, even in this thread), but rather in the form of people explaining why saying [X] is hurtful, or why we don't need to be talked down to, and basically trying to offer what you could do differently. Being criticized is unpleasant, I understand, but I suggest this isn't the same thing as where that NoraReed comment went, as appreciated as your apology for it is.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 3:54 AM on February 22, 2015 [6 favorites]


Then all is good?
posted by clavdivs at 1:29 PM on February 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


Eh, my knees aren't what they used to be.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:10 AM on February 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


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