Bad deletions June 14, 2015 2:06 PM   Subscribe

I have seen at least three really great posts on the NAACP situation deleted in the past few days. I guess there's a new Metafilter policy on this, but can the mods explain their reasoning? It doesn't seem, to me, to be newsfilter or "weird lady" filter, since the deleted posts have very good context and interesting depth.
posted by roomthreeseventeen to MetaFilter-Related at 2:06 PM (1669 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

First note: this thread is not a place to discuss the Dolezal situation itself, or our theories on race or gender. This thread is for meta discussion, discussion about Metafilter policies, site issues etc.

Ok. Now to the substance.
We’ve deleted several posts about the Dolezal situation over the last couple of days. We’ve talked privately with several people about this already, but the question keeps coming up so here we are.

I get why people want to talk about it — it's an interesting “wtf?!” case, there's a ton of coverage and lots of people talking about it all over the internet. I get being optimistic about what an in-principle-best-world discussion of it could look like. But in actual fact, it’s a perfect storm of things that make posts go badly here, and I think (and r_n, taz, and gnfti have weighed in on this too) there's just no way for it to go okay on MeFi, no way for us to have that in-principle-best-world discussion, at this time.

It’s basically a news-of-the-weird case, of this one woman who’s in a very odd situation, the facts are maybe not all fully understood, maybe she’s got some mental illness issues, maybe just unhappy family issues, who knows. Then with the race and trans angles, the situation invites white/non-black and cis people to ask superficially-maybe-reasonable-sounding abstract questions, especially if they’ve been exposed to the media coverage of this…. but as it turns out these seemingly-innocuous questions are pretty roaringly offensive and not at all abstract to the people on the disadvantaged side of the race/transness divide here. So. A perfect setup for well-meaning people to say offensive things and then the ensuing grar-factory of callouts and hurt feelings all around.

This isn't theoretical. After deleting the first one, we left the second post on it up for a few hours the other day (on the theory “well, people really want to talk about it, let’s give it a shot”), and eventually deleted it because it was degenerating into something that black and trans members were saying was angering/painful for them —

http://www.metafilter.com/150418/When-Life-Imitiates-Art-Its-not-Always-As-Funny

After we closed that thread we immediately heard from other people that it was a relief to them not to have to watch white/cis people discussing this stuff in the abstract "oh isn't it interesting, all these ideas about identity" kind of way. Now, I'm a white cis person who would be interested in having that abstract discussion. But in the last few years we've been hearing more and more from members that it's not fair, or good for community, for those of us on the advantaged side of some of these divides to insist on our right to have abstract thought-experimenty discussions when it ruins the day of the folks with more skin in the game.

It's no criticism of any of the posts, they have been fine, and it’s no criticism of people who want to talk about this case.

But we want to prevent total blowout horrible threads if we can realistically foresee that a topic is going to go horribly. The site doesn't benefit from hosting horrible fights that make members (especially members who are on the disadvantaged side relative to a given issue) really miserable. Sure, fights will happen, and we deal, and we allow tons of posts on plenty of fighty topics. But still, there are some rare cases that are over the “this is really just going to go badly no matter what” threshold, and this seems to be one of those.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 2:07 PM on June 14, 2015 [151 favorites]


I suggest that topics reaching this status be noted somewhere, so people do not waste time pointlessly crafting doomed FPPs.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 2:15 PM on June 14, 2015 [28 favorites]


I guess there's a new Metafilter policy on this, but can the mods explain their reasoning

What exactly makes you think there's a new policy? Since the dawn of time, just about the only hard and fast rule at MeFi is that there are no hard and fast rules; that we value the mods' ability to work within guidelines (not exhaustive rules lists) and to use their judgment in order to both facilitate discussions on a broad swath of topics, but also to step in when something is clearly going badly for the community.

If you're angry about a deletion, fine, ask about it -- but enough with the passive-aggressive "I guess someone changed the rules and nobody told me :( :( " posturing already.
posted by tocts at 2:20 PM on June 14, 2015 [15 favorites]


I suggest that topics reaching this status be noted somewhere, so people do not waste time pointlessly crafting doomed FPPs.
posted by Sebmojo at 2:22 PM on June 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


This level of "really no way to make it work" comes up pretty rarely, I'd say. Basically people can use their common sense about what's likely to be a problem topic and drop us a line at the contact form if they're wondering.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 2:26 PM on June 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


Well, I'd say this is "noting it somewhere", and only prospective FrontPagePosters who never check out MetaTalk will remain ignorant. And my attitude toward prospective FrontPagePosters who never check out MetaTalk is "GO TO REDDIT, ASSHATS"
posted by oneswellfoop at 2:28 PM on June 14, 2015 [6 favorites]


As one of the deleted thread posters (I genuinely never saw the one posted by LM above, I checked the deleted thread blog and couldn't tell there was more than 1 old thread from Friday) I very much think that second contentious thread should have been left. People were arguing but it seemed like it was going somewhere. Sometimes important conversations (and great essays, like the one I posted from Racism Revue) are painful for all but we do learn something.

Not allowing any discussion of this entire situation seems overly cautious and conflict-avoidant to me. There were some dumb things said in that thread but not out of intent, and some truly excellent thoughts are needed about this situation, especially by people of color and trans people.

Aside from the thread itself, my strongest objection to the deletions is this: To disallow ANY posting of ANY threads about it is to ban the black and anti-racist voices speaking about this from around the web from appearing on our site, and I think that's a damn shame.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:30 PM on June 14, 2015 [48 favorites]


You've explained your reasoning. Why not close this now? The discussion isn't going to go well, save yourselves the grief.
posted by disclaimer at 2:30 PM on June 14, 2015 [9 favorites]


I was disappointed to see the lengthier (100+ comment) thread deleted.

I understand that threads about more contentious topics are more labor-intensive for the mods (i.e., so it's easy for me to say that pruning bad comments is preferred to just axing whole threads), but I'll admit it was a little bizarre to hit "refresh" and have the well-underway discussion just disappear(ed) from the site like that.

I'm also a little concerned (not, like, concern-troll level "concerned," mind) this means we'll see a more milquetoast site in the long run. There are threads whose topics I've (painfully and with much grar) learned to ignore/avoid because I know that they'll upset or infuriate me, and I've learned to be happy that others can carry on with their conversation without feeling obligated to weigh in on every thread -- or call for the axing of said threads.

(This is *not* to be confused with FReE SPEACH11!!! "concerns," thank you. Also, I'm just one person on a vast site. This is just my take on things. I could well be wrong/misguided, here. Sorry for any excess line-breaks, posting via a new device thing.)
posted by Xavier Xavier at 2:42 PM on June 14, 2015 [14 favorites]


You've explained your reasoning. Why not close this now? The discussion isn't going to go well, save yourselves the grief.

you can't discuss this here it's the discussion forum
posted by Sebmojo at 2:42 PM on June 14, 2015 [29 favorites]


That first post got 106 comments in the hour and a half it stayed up -- more than one a minute -- and many of them were long, thoughtful, and very good; it was already one of the better threads MetaFilter has hosted this year by the time it went down.

Excessive post deletions along with relentless and really absurd comment deletions are making Metafilter a hollow shell of what it was.

Which is ideal for an echo chamber, I suppose, but not much else.
posted by jamjam at 2:42 PM on June 14, 2015 [75 favorites]


I guess that I agree that the one thread that was open was pretty decent, and that more moderation of a contentions, fascinating topic is better than censuring the entire thing.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 2:45 PM on June 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


People were arguing but it seemed like it was going somewhere. Sometimes important conversations (and great essays, like the one I posted from Racism Revue) are painful for all but we do learn something.

Yes, but those conversations mean people in a position to explain have to either a) educate, or b) not educate, and let MeFi become more of the thing that is so deeply uncomfortable to the people trying to educate everyone else as to why that is so.

There is a whole internet out there, and a whole media, and it is filled with people who have actually signed up to go on FOX and CNN to talk about this. It is not necessary that every conversation people wish to participate in take place here.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:48 PM on June 14, 2015 [21 favorites]


I have to agree with the moderators on this one. For those who care about progressive issues, the whole Rachel Dolezal snafu has been very little more than a huge distraction that does nothing but open up attack vectors for transphobes and anti-progressives. Any thread about it will just be a war against those forces. There are a few sort of interesting things to say about it, I guess, but it's not worth the massive waste of time and space that the necessarily tedious retreading of basic issues requires.
posted by koeselitz at 2:52 PM on June 14, 2015 [11 favorites]


But it's also not necessary for people to click a thread that they don't think will be useful to them.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 2:53 PM on June 14, 2015 [12 favorites]


I have to agree with the moderators on this one. For those who care about progressive issues, the whole Rachel Dolezal snafu has been very little more than a huge distraction that does nothing but open up attack vectors for transphobes and anti-progressives. Any thread about it will just be a war against those forces. There are a few sort of interesting things to say about it, I guess, but it's not worth the massive waste of time and space that the necessarily tedious retreading of basic issues requires.

so the deletion and commitment to delete any subsequent threads is essentially a tactical decision?
posted by Sebmojo at 2:55 PM on June 14, 2015 [4 favorites]


I saw a lot of excellent explanations in that thread freely given. I didn't see much that was hurtful, other than some innocent repetition of the Sealion talking points considering "transracialism" a real thing, a viewpoint only occasioned by this extreme but by no means uncommon example of white people appropriating black culture for their own benefit.

If I missed truly hateful statements in that thread I apologize. I just see exasperation (righteously) by folks having to encounter and destroy this uniquely silly argument around this story, but still doing a great job doing so.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:56 PM on June 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


Koestlitz, have you read this essay? I don't think this is a distraction. I think the case of Rachel D is pretty central concern to a lot of people of color.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 3:00 PM on June 14, 2015 [6 favorites]


In the current thread about the goings-on at Reddit, there's a lot of self-congratulation. I'm really disappointed in these deletions. It may be difficult to discuss, but we should be able to have discussion of things that really happen, that matter, that we obviously care about and are interested in. One of the things MeFi does really well is supply the links for supporting/ contradicting/ interesting/ thoughtful information. No post, none of that gets to happen.
posted by theora55 at 3:04 PM on June 14, 2015 [53 favorites]


it was a pretty good discussion of something that didn't fit neatly into people's views and made them uncomfortable

we certainly can't have that any more, can we?
posted by pyramid termite at 3:05 PM on June 14, 2015 [28 favorites]


Why not close this now?

1) metafilter is made up of more opinions than the mods'

2) metatalk is supposed to be for community input and discussion

3) the more frequently the mods close metatalks early, the greater the chance that metatalk threads will skew toward the people who are posting hair-trigger-y opinions, and the lesser the chance that metatalks will contain comments by people who have had a chance to think and reflect and develop opinions based on what everyone else has said.
posted by Greg Nog at 3:06 PM on June 14, 2015 [33 favorites]


FWIW, closing this thread isn't on the horizon at all.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 3:09 PM on June 14, 2015 [4 favorites]


Thanks for the response on this, mods. I saw two of the FPP's and I was wondering why they had disappeared.
posted by math at 3:10 PM on June 14, 2015


> Sure, fights will happen, and we deal, and we allow tons of posts on plenty of fighty topics. But
> still, there are some rare cases that are over the “this is really just going to go badly no matter
> what” threshold, and this seems to be one of those.

Were there lots and lots of rancorous deleted comments in that thread you linked that we now can't see? Because there are those 100+ surviving comments that we can still see, and the thread had not at that point gone sour in the the standard way threads that are going sour usually do. Was it just a matter of flags and the contact form?
posted by jfuller at 3:17 PM on June 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


If they're up for it (and I would fully sympathize with them if they aren't), I'd like to hear from the people who felt like it was painful to see and/or participate in the discussions. We've had a lot of really nasty transphobia in particular over the last couple years, both intentional and not, and the repeated discussion of how "transracial"--a term largely used by transphobic trolls--is just as valid as "transgender" was obviously derailing the conversation. Unless that's removed from the discussion in a thread, it will keep on getting brought up and no doubt further alienate people for whom that's not an abstract discussion.
posted by zombieflanders at 3:17 PM on June 14, 2015 [13 favorites]


The mod's reasoning here is really bizarre. They've had no problem telling people to knock this or that off in threads about trans stuff or feminist stuff. But now in this particular thread about race, that suddenly can't happen? Especially when the thread Lobstermiten linked to was doing fine, with only one or two possible asshats , yet that particular thread has to be deleted and the subject declared off limits. That reads as all sorts of fucked up, makes zero sense and really makes me angry that an issue about race can't be discussed here.

Obviously the mods are not racist and try to be as fair as possible in tough situations, but this reads as an extremely bad call that no discussion about this topic can take place at this time. If not now, then when? What criteria is being used to decide not now, but later? When will we know when later is?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:26 PM on June 14, 2015 [95 favorites]


I was certainly surprised to see a thread *of that length* disappear suddenly, especially because (to me) it didn't seem to be heading south in a hurry or full of flames (I don't know what comments got deleted, but I also didn't see any [folks, please stop ....] interjections). It would be nice to think that a big fat trigger warning on the front page would be enough to let people know this might be a thread they don't want to look at, but obviously it's easy for *me* to think that and probably unfair.
I would, however, like it if threads could be deleted before so many people have already made good comments.
posted by uosuaq at 3:31 PM on June 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm fine with this MeTa being left open, but I kinda don't understand the point. This was a "tyranny of the majority" kinda decision, right? The majority of MeFites (white and cis) were engaging in a discussion that was making a minority of MeFites (black and/or trans) feel really uncomfortable. So I don't really get the point of seeking the views of the greater MeFi community. The problem in the first place is the views of the greater MeFi community, right?
posted by Bugbread at 3:33 PM on June 14, 2015 [6 favorites]


Calling this "news of the weird" makes it seem like this is some isolated incident about some poor confused woman who should just be left alone. Maybe it is, though I don't agree. But to black people, from my reading, this is no more a wacky local story than one about a teenage boy being shot for carrying a water pistol.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 3:33 PM on June 14, 2015 [10 favorites]


Especially when the thread Lobstermiten linked to was doing fine
I think there's some pretty gross stuff there. Which I won't get into because this thread is not to be a rehashing of the topic, but to say it was "doing fine" is to imply a consensus exists where I'd say it does not.
posted by juv3nal at 3:41 PM on June 14, 2015 [13 favorites]


I only saw the 100+ comments thread, and it was basically a rapidly moving train wreck of the kinds of racist and transphobic talking points you see in, like, newspaper website comments and currently all over social media. Unfortunately, I think that's baggage that comes with the story itself; the framing of the post wasn't 100% perfect and preemptively defensive against that kind of stuff, but even if it had been, that kind of stuff would've erupted anyway. There are thoughtful responses to be had and all, but a thread that fast moving and willfully ignorant is just stressful for a lot of people affected by the topic.
posted by byanyothername at 3:46 PM on June 14, 2015 [26 favorites]


it was degenerating into something that black and trans members were saying was angering/painful for them

This is the crux of the issue for me. Internet discourse will not be irreparably damaged if we pass on this opportunity for people with no personal experience with these issues to spout off their feelings on the subject.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 3:50 PM on June 14, 2015 [77 favorites]


It should be noted this thread was garnering a comment a minute (and at least I was flagging Rangi's sealionining in the NAACP thread along with others' "what if" thought experiments) at the same time a problematic and requiring-mod-notes Reddit thread was unfolding. I don't know how their tools work, but as a user trying to keep up with two threads like that is difficult, let alone managing all of the flags and the rest of the stuff on the site that a single mod has to do.

There are a handful of thoughtful responses in that thread, and a lot of reactions. Reactions that were making people uncomfortable (as evidenced by the number of comments in the thread.) I think it would be good to be able to have a thread on that topic, and realistically I think the second post was allowed for exactly that reason, but it went to shit in real-time and wasn't working.
posted by buoys in the hood at 3:51 PM on June 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


A great test case for the "close to comments" option I've been asking for.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 3:51 PM on June 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


There were some dumb things said in that thread but not out of intent, and some truly excellent thoughts are needed about this situation, especially by people of color and trans people.

That's kind of a burden to be putting on us. While I might well be inclined to do so generally, this kind of presumptuousness does tend to make me less likely to. And intent is still not magic.




If they're up for it (and I would fully sympathize with them if they aren't), I'd like to hear from the people who felt like it was painful to see and/or participate in the discussions. We've had a lot of really nasty transphobia in particular over the last couple years, both intentional and not, and the repeated discussion of how "transracial"--a term largely used by transphobic trolls--is just as valid as "transgender" was obviously derailing the conversation.

It was more than merely derailing the conversation. It was an example of rather nasty transphobia in itself, and not particularly inoffensive to people of colour. It's one of those rather impressive comparisons where you manage to insult both parties simultaneously.
posted by Dysk at 4:06 PM on June 14, 2015 [26 favorites]


Internet discourse will not be irreparably damaged if we pass on this opportunity for people with no personal experience with these issues to spout off their feelings on the subject.

On the other hand, if we pass on every such opportunity, there will be hardly any internet discourse at all. What remains will be glorious, but will no one think of the commenters?
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:07 PM on June 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


I do find it kinda odd that there are so often complaints that everyone is tired of having to cover Sexism 101 or Racism 101 or Transphobia 101, but when a 201 course comes around it gets shut down for being too difficult.
posted by Bugbread at 4:13 PM on June 14, 2015 [80 favorites]


Given that "it was degenerating into something that black and trans members were saying was angering/painful for them", I think the mod decision to can threads on this story is sound.
posted by crush-onastick at 4:19 PM on June 14, 2015 [5 favorites]


Not all black members.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:20 PM on June 14, 2015 [33 favorites]


Having just got through reading the deleted thread, I am vastly perplexed that anyone thought that it was a helpful, constructive, or nuanced discussion of a complex issue. The fact that a few brave souls who were pushing back against a flood of racism and transphobia were being calm and polite about it does not mean that the thread was not a total mess. In my experience, productive FPPs do not have a lot of "OH HELL, NOPE! BYE" comments (unless the the threads are about spiders, giant worms, or things living on your face).
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:21 PM on June 14, 2015 [37 favorites]


It should be noted this thread was garnering a comment a minute (and at least I was flagging Rangi's sealionining in the NAACP thread along with others' "what if" thought experiments) at the same time a problematic and requiring-mod-notes Reddit thread was unfolding. I don't know how their tools work, but as a user trying to keep up with two threads like that is difficult, let alone managing all of the flags and the rest of the stuff on the site that a single mod has to do.

Is sealioning another word for 'politely voicing thoughts I disagree with'? I thought that was called 'conversation'?
posted by Sebmojo at 4:27 PM on June 14, 2015 [7 favorites]


Perhaps not, BB, but I strongly believe that Metafilter benefits from a diversity of members and their life experiences. For me, it's enough that when N non-white, non-USA. non-heterosexual, non-cis-gendered, non-tech-elite, non-men say "hey. this thread is punishing for us/hostile to us" to kill the thread and let us move on to something else.

It's nice when Metafilter becomes a place that suddenly challenges people's unexamined privileges or unquestioned biases or otherwise makes the fish notice the water is wet, but that's not its purpose and when there are not sufficient mod resource or sufficient non-dominant-culture voices to keep a thread from becoming hostile, we don't gain from having that conversation. We stand to lose.
posted by crush-onastick at 4:29 PM on June 14, 2015 [16 favorites]


Honestly, to me this is a great example of a story that will be a much better fit for Metafilter after it has been around for a while, more is known, and there has been time for thoughtful analyses and reporting. Breaking news FPPs rarely produce the best or most interesting discussions here, and even more so when the breaking news is mixed up with these kinds of hot button issues.

It will still be a fascinating and weird story in a few weeks or a months, and by then there will be a lot more that is understood and can be said other than the immediate responses.
posted by Dip Flash at 4:39 PM on June 14, 2015 [43 favorites]


One comment deleted. We're not going to discuss "transracialism" here.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 4:41 PM on June 14, 2015 [27 favorites]


I think this is a very good deletion and I support the decision not to host this discussion.
posted by anotherpanacea at 4:41 PM on June 14, 2015 [13 favorites]


I'm on the fence about the story itself, but my Unfriend finger is already sore from getting rid of people from FB/Twitter/etc. who are trying to turn this into a slam on Caitlyn Jenner.

So, good deletion, I guess.
posted by Etrigan at 4:44 PM on June 14, 2015 [4 favorites]


I think this approach is a good idea.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:47 PM on June 14, 2015


Given the mod choice to not delete the sealioning and ugliness about 'transracialism' (ugh), deleting the entire thread seems like the only choice they had.

I think the thread might have had a chance to go rather better with some aggressive pruning of comments.

Perhaps, as Dip Flash said, someone can repost this in a few months when discussion is likely to be more informed. Maybe that could come with a top-of-thread mod note saying "AHEM. THINGS THAT WILL BE DELETED ON SIGHT IN THIS THREAD INCLUDE:"
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 4:49 PM on June 14, 2015 [5 favorites]


Although I'm generally in favor all topics being fair game for discussion, I realize that mod time is limited and some topics require a lot more hand-holding to keep the thread from turning into a shitshow.

Thus, when something is both a) not a big deal in the grand scheme of things and b) likely to turn into a shitshow without (or even with) a mod covering the thread full-time, I think it's reasonable for the mods to do a cost/benefit analysis and decide it's not worth having here.

Most of the people I've seen making a big deal about this "news" story elsewhere on the internet are using it as a "gotcha!" against transgender people and/or the belief that race is a social construct. Their enthusiasm for the topic is driven by a desire to use this incident as a weapon, not by a desire to have nuanced discussion about identity. Meanwhile, the woman in question is most likely mentally ill and much of the coverage/discussion has a distasteful "let's point and laugh at the sick person" flavor to it.

I suppose it's theoretically possible to have a respectful, intelligent conversation about the issues involved but I've yet to see it happen. Given how poorly the conversations about this news story have gone on other sites, I understand why the mods don't want that can of worms opened up here (and dumped all over their weekend plans).
posted by Jacqueline at 4:53 PM on June 14, 2015 [20 favorites]


I don't know if this is a helpful data point, but my Facebook feed currently includes professional anthropologists having more or less the discussion LobsterMitten describes. They're being polite, and it's fine in that context. It's just surprising, because they're folks who're trained to prefer sticking to empirical details and promoting the informed opinions of relevant groups. I actually saw more of that happening in the MeFi thread than I'm seeing on Facebook, so that's pretty great. But, at the moment, it also seems like this topic is a bit of a lightning rod for off-the-cuff opinions/analogies, and I would have a lot of sympathy for folks who're not interested in entertaining that stuff at an unmanageable rate.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 4:58 PM on June 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


I was in the middle of writing a comment in the longest of these threads when I saw the deletion notice. "You know what? - That's probably for the best" I thought.
posted by atoxyl at 5:19 PM on June 14, 2015 [5 favorites]


I'm glad the longest post was deleted; I didn't realize there were 2 others. The comments were just going to get worse and worse and I thought to myself, "oh man, I totally get why people leave the site."

Even some well-meaning people that I've known for years just do.not.get. the harm they do when they compare this Dolezal woman's situation to that of trans folks. And trans folks should not have to repeatedly explain it. I mean, it's really not rocket science. Like LobsterMitten said, it is not an abstract discussion. It is hurtful to be put in the same category with an (evidently) compulsive liar.
posted by desjardins at 5:28 PM on June 14, 2015 [61 favorites]


the harm they do when they compare this Dolezal woman's situation to that of trans folks. And trans folks should not have to repeatedly explain it.

I don't disagree with this. At all. But there was an entire segment on MSNBC today discussing this, with trans women who were making the comparison. So there is a variety of opinion here.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 5:33 PM on June 14, 2015 [7 favorites]


And that's fine, but AFAIK the people who were comparing the two here are not trans, so they need to not make that analogy.
posted by desjardins at 5:39 PM on June 14, 2015 [16 favorites]


> If they're up for it (and I would fully sympathize with them if they aren't), I'd like to hear from the people who felt like it was painful to see and/or participate in the discussions.

Because some people are unable to participate in discussions like that without getting all bent out of shape when it gets pointed out to them that their "interesting discussion" or "thought experiment" gets gross fast when they conveniently forget that subjects of that discussion and experiment are right there in the room. Some people want to win the "argument" and if that means that they can cast my experience and description of my life as wrong then they are apparently happy to either point that out (a lot!) or pretend that I am not in any way related to the discussion. Or that I'm not really a person? I don't know - it gets hard to tell after a while.

I'm not an experiment or a logic problem. The echo chamber that likes to treat me that way is so. fucking. boring. (and enraging and hurtful and etc.) Not to mention the demands that because [this person of color] or [this trans* person] said a thing that they agree with that I *must* be wrong if I disagree, because hey, all people of color and transgender people think and act the same, right? Gah.
posted by rtha at 5:52 PM on June 14, 2015 [69 favorites]


I'm conflicted about this.

There was some horrible stuff in those threads, but it was also being refuted (albeit heatedly, because it was really infuriating). Nuking the thread means losing those refutations, and one of the things I like about MeFi is getting the informed opinions of people with relevant experience.

On the other hand, providing those opinions (in response to boneheadedness) was obviously painful for many people. My personal edification is not worth that. Basically what crushonastick said above.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:54 PM on June 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


Even some well-meaning people that I've known for years just do.not.get. the harm they do when they compare this Dolezal woman's situation to that of trans folks. And trans folks should not have to repeatedly explain it. I mean, it's really not rocket science. Like LobsterMitten said, it is not an abstract discussion. It is hurtful to be put in the same category with an (evidently) compulsive liar.

It's comments like this (and some of the ones in the deleted thread) that make me wish we could have a healthy thread on the topic, because this story is making the whole world crazy and I need Metafilter's help to frame the whole thing in my mind.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:55 PM on June 14, 2015 [54 favorites]


I had thought the discussion was going fair-to-middling, and was disappointed when the 100+ comment post was deleted. I am cis and white. Learning that many of our trans members and members of color were very badly upset by the post and the ensuing discussion has definitely altered my feelings about the deletion, as has the rapidity with which I've gotten fed up with trying to have this discussion in a meaningful way elsewhere.
posted by KathrynT at 5:57 PM on June 14, 2015 [16 favorites]


I was hurt and upset by the thread. I'm glad it was deleted. If people are interested in being educated and learning how to frame this, there are so so many good discussions on Twitter and Tumblr about it. Go read.
posted by stoneweaver at 6:12 PM on June 14, 2015 [8 favorites]


For the record, not to say anything about the deletion here, Twitter and Tumblr are not good places to go for any sort of discussion.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 6:13 PM on June 14, 2015 [19 favorites]


The problem in the first place is the views of the greater MeFi community, right?

If I'm reading this comment correctly, I agree.

I think if the mods' apparent assumption that most of the posters here are White is correct, then the deletion of the thread in question is an interesting (to me, anyway) application of White privilege.

Metafilter has in the past been able to have FPPs which dealt with cultural appropriation and racial passing so it seems to me there must be a way to frame this particular instance that doesn't lead to automatic deletion.
posted by fuse theorem at 6:15 PM on June 14, 2015 [7 favorites]


Metafilter has in the past been able to have FPPs which dealt with cultural appropriation and racial passing so it seems to me there must be a way to frame this particular instance that doesn't lead to automatic deletion.

I think it would require nuking the rest of the media discussion of Dolezal from orbit and from each MeFite's memory.
posted by jaguar at 6:34 PM on June 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


That they are not good for YOU to have conversations may be true. That there are not good conversations happening is false. There are a ton of thoughtful pieces about this situation. You don't have to have long painful discussions to understand many angles here. You can go seek out voices of people who are interested in taking about and educating people on it. Try scrolling through the hashtag and reading linked articles.
posted by stoneweaver at 6:36 PM on June 14, 2015 [32 favorites]


For those who care about progressive issues, the whole Rachel Dolezal snafu has been very little more than a huge distraction that does nothing but open up attack vectors for transphobes and anti-progressives. Any thread about it will just be a war against those forces.

This isn't meant as an attack, and I apologize for any presumption or misuse of jargon on my part, but that opinion - and others I've seen similar to it, hither and yon - seems to me like a very white-centric attitude coming from a position of privilege. I'm sure it's a lot more than a distraction to people of colour, and to dismiss it as such or discourage informed conversation because it's grist for some assholes with an agenda is not doing anyone any favours.

Tough call on this, sort of.
Leave a valid FPP up and hurt some MeFites because of stupidity in the comments.
Take a valid FPP down and hurt some MeFites (Hell, probably in some cases, the *same* MeFites) because a conversation reflecting their interests/concerns is 'just too difficult'.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 6:58 PM on June 14, 2015 [18 favorites]


This was a hard call by the mods, I think. Maybe when more has been written/is known about this (by writers of color, preferably) it could be a better thread, but there's 8 million great thread topics out there so if we don't get to this one story, I don't see it as a huge tragedy or a symptom of Metafilter becoming "a hollow shell" of itself. I liked/participated in the discussion too but was worried that so many trans posters noted they were peacing out of it, after reading the comments...I wanted to hear what they had to say, personally, but they don't owe me that.
posted by emjaybee at 7:00 PM on June 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


It will still be a fascinating and weird story in a few weeks or a months, and by then there will be a lot more that is understood and can be said other than the immediate responses.

I think this was a good deletion, but mostly on a cost/benefit level, and in the sense that it fits into the "MeFi is not for breaking news" ethos. I don't believe there should be a permanent veto on this issue (that would be awful) but equally I'd think that not nearly enough is known about her underlying motivations to have a non-grar discussion about it.

Premediated deception for job exploitation would be a very different discussion to childhood neurosis, which would be a different discussion again to mental illness, which would be a different discussion again to actual "transracialism" claims on her part.
I'm not unhappy to wait until we can actually talk about what the issue was, rather than correlate it with what we think it is.
posted by solarion at 7:06 PM on June 14, 2015 [8 favorites]


One comment deleted. If you don't care that this bothers trans people, that is fine, but the mods do care so you can decide how you want to deal with that.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 7:13 PM on June 14, 2015 [64 favorites]


I do find it kinda odd that there are so often complaints that everyone is tired of having to cover Sexism 101 or Racism 101 or Transphobia 101, but when a 201 course comes around it gets shut down for being too difficult.

Your teachers don't want to see your faces in their advanced classes until you've mastered the introductory material, and if the reason you keep flunking 101 is that you resent being required to take it, they don't want to deal with your recalcitrant, indifferent ass at all. This is true whether it's English Compo, Math, or Sexism you're reluctantly taking.
posted by gingerest at 7:17 PM on June 14, 2015 [93 favorites]


I just wanted to pipe back in, briefly, to thank the mods for leaving this meta open. Apropos of nothing, I also want to apologize for using "milquetoast" as an adjective, above, instead of as a noun as God and the OED intended.
posted by Xavier Xavier at 7:22 PM on June 14, 2015


This isn't really Gender 201 or Race 304. It's more like, "unknown person yelling real loud in the street." Nobody has lesson plans prepped for that. Six months from now we will know more facts, there will be more thoughtful essays to link to and discuss, and a do-over might or might not be worthwhile. As this is unfolding, there have been far too many people using it as an excuse to parade around fairly racist and transphobic ideas, whether they realize the implications or not. There are interesting conversations to have, and it'd be cool to have them, but they are going to require an above-average level of nuance and possibly some contexts that we just don't have right now.

As someone who tries to refute stuff I find objectionable, and who generally doesn't mind answering questions or engaging in 101, or 201, or whatever, discussions, who learns through discussion, I still honestly prefer a thread like this one just gets removed. Leaving it up puts a burden on folks to come in and correct the really questionable stuff, and sometimes that is too much to ask. The site already gets a little thick with comments treating minorities as Life-Changing Knowledge Dispensers sometimes. The question to ask is whether you can have a conversation about issues affecting a group without being so offensive that numerous people in that group feel obliged to come in and Do Education. The 100+ comment thread showed no indication of moving toward that point, and would likely have continued to be a majority of hurtful comments peppered with more thoughtful links and comments. Seeing it nixed was a relief for me. It lets me go back to reading and thinking about things at my own pace instead of writing flawed slapdash comments like this.
posted by byanyothername at 7:52 PM on June 14, 2015 [43 favorites]


FWIW, I suspect this case will sort out to being 101-level stuff. As examples, cultural appropriation is racism 101, and achieved ethnic/racial identities are anthropology 101 (if you use Schultz and Lavenda's textbook). Folks who're listening carefully probably have a guess about which basic topics are proving to be more applicable and in what ways, but for sure, there's a lot of noise right now as folks react to the extremity of the case. I'd expect a discussion to go better, though perhaps not well, once some time has passed.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 8:19 PM on June 14, 2015 [4 favorites]


haven't had time to read this whole thread yet. But I was a little shocked to see what felt to me like a functional (if challenging) FPP get deleted. I'm not clear which one it was as I was just picking through it when it turned into pumpkin.

Key point: I was learning stuff.

I will now read this thread and see what else I might learn.
posted by philip-random at 8:23 PM on June 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


roomthreeseventeen: For the record, not to say anything about the deletion here, Twitter and Tumblr are not good places to go for any sort of discussion.

stoneweaver: That they are not good for YOU to have conversations may be true. That there are not good conversations happening is false. There are a ton of thoughtful pieces about this situation. You don't have to have long painful discussions to understand many angles here. You can go seek out voices of people who are interested in taking about and educating people on it. Try scrolling through the hashtag and reading linked articles.

I'd like to second this. Some of the most thoughtful and edifying conversations I've had about trans issues have been on Twitter and Facebook. Just because you haven't had that experience, roomthreeseventeen, doesn't mean it's universal for everyone.
posted by zarq at 8:33 PM on June 14, 2015 [10 favorites]


To everyone that it's saying "But I was learning stuff!"

Thing the first: the fact that it was hurting some people is something you can learn from. Learn that your education can come at real expense, particularly when it is very much NOT academic for your educators.

Thing the second: an analogy. Imagine that you are studying anatomy. You're learning about viscera and you come across someone who has just sustained a wound to their arm. You would not expect them to suffer further injury so that you might learn. You would recognize that vivisection values your education over the well-being of another human.
posted by stoneweaver at 8:39 PM on June 14, 2015 [73 favorites]


zarq: I'd like to second this. Some of the most thoughtful and edifying conversations I've had about trans issues have been on Twitter and Facebook. Just because you haven't had that experience, roomthreeseventeen, doesn't mean it's universal for everyone.

Ditto Tumblr. (In fact, i'm getting very, very tired of the reflexive Tumblr-smearing that goes on here. Some of the best discussions i've had about sexism and feminism - things I have skin in, to use the parlance of this thread - have been on Tumblr.)

Can we stop confusing the medium with the message? Users here are telling you that intelligent discourse is being had in other places - instead of telling them 'EW REDDIT/TWITTER/TUMBLR/etc', let's just believe them and go find it.
posted by pseudonymph at 9:01 PM on June 14, 2015 [15 favorites]


just popping in to thank the mod team for the deletions. maybe one day a thread that is more interesting than hurtful will be able to made from this story, but that time is not now.
posted by nadawi at 9:07 PM on June 14, 2015 [10 favorites]


I very much appreciate the mods' call here. I should have sent them a note at the time, but I didn't. Thank you.
posted by Corinth at 9:07 PM on June 14, 2015 [10 favorites]


I was initially conflicted, because I find discussions here to be immensely helpful in understanding what I do not know about difficult subjects. But I've felt convicted that I care more about people here who are potentially hurt by these conversations than I do about my right to learn about them. As such, I'm glad for the deletion. I would think this might be a good guiding principle for MetaFilter in general, even apart from the pragmatic, "we simply don't do this kind of thing well here"; namely, is this conversation potentially coming at the expense of people we care about here by framing it so abstractly that we depersonalize deeply internalized experiences? If the answer is yes, I think that value trumps the right to "learn" through abstract discussions, at least here, in this kind of forum where we know well the people with whom we risk abstracting and depersonalizing. These kinds of conversations need to happen somewhere, but I'd rather they not happen in this community with people we care about, and where (unfortunately) we sometimes have a tendency to forget with whom we share common space as we talk about these things.
posted by SpacemanStix at 9:08 PM on June 14, 2015 [6 favorites]


Couple comments deleted. If you want to make a point go ahead, but blanket insults are not helpful.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 9:16 PM on June 14, 2015


This level of "really no way to make it work" comes up pretty rarely, I'd say. Basically people can use their common sense about what's likely to be a problem topic and drop us a line at the contact form if they're wondering.

This isn't entirely accurate. People know that their posts on Israel/Palestine and various other topics won't be permitted, so they just don't do it.

It was only a little while ago when modagement deleted posts about trayvon and then said posts about police don't do well here or some shit.

So nobody wants to post that. Every so often, you get someone who tries, and it's, as you said, "rare".
posted by hal_c_on at 9:17 PM on June 14, 2015


I get being optimistic about what an in-principle-best-world discussion of it could look like. But in actual fact, it’s a perfect storm of things that make posts go badly here, and I think (and r_n, taz, and gnfti have weighed in on this too) there's just no way for it to go okay on MeFi, no way for us to have that in-principle-best-world discussion, at this time.


Everytime I see this sentiment expressed, I'm reminded how userbase is viewed by mods. I mean shit, I can talk about this with racist people in the real world, but for some reason, mefites can't do it.

Wtf.
posted by hal_c_on at 9:20 PM on June 14, 2015 [18 favorites]


I agree [with SpacemanStix] -- I wouldn't want a conversation about this topic to come at the expense of marginalized communities. That said, I do miss hearing what the smart and informed MeFites would say about this. I wish there were some kind of feasible approach to a progressive stack system, so that we could systemically "turn up the volume," or increase the quantity of comments that reflect deep knowledge and experience, and turn down the volume or quantity of comments that are relatively ignorant and potentially hurtful. Until then, yeah, twitter.
posted by salvia at 9:21 PM on June 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


> It was only a little while ago when modagement deleted posts about trayvon and then said posts about police don't do well here or some shit.

There have been three posts about police brutality in the last two weeks.
posted by rtha at 9:21 PM on June 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


There have been three posts about police brutality in the last two weeks.

Good, but still doesn't change the fact that it was accepted policy a while back.
posted by hal_c_on at 9:25 PM on June 14, 2015


Good, but still doesn't change the fact that it was accepted policy a while back.

Do you have a citation or a link for this? Because I've lost count of the number of police brutality threads on the Blue. I wasn't aware that this was ever a policy.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 9:27 PM on June 14, 2015 [5 favorites]


Good, but still doesn't change the fact that it was accepted policy a while back.

This is back to wanting hard and fast rules when the mods have said, over and over and over again, that that's not how things work. Maybe in the past it was "accepted policy". Then it changed. At some point in the future it might change again. People will deal (or not) when and if that happens.
posted by asterix at 9:36 PM on June 14, 2015 [4 favorites]


Users here are telling you that intelligent discourse is being had in other places - instead of telling them 'EW REDDIT/TWITTER/TUMBLR/etc', let's just believe them and go find it.

I wonder how many people "go find it" when told to, though. A few stock links to helpful, concise resources elsewhere, if kept by the mods (or whoever) and dropped into threads when it seems necessary, might be more effective. I'm sure this sounds like "placing the burden/onus" on people here, but I'm suggesting this as a way to maybe reduce the burden in the long run. For example, I for one don't have a tumblr account and I'm not going to get one just so I can try to figure out how the site works and then maybe find one of the edifying discussions instead of the bad ones...and so, being lazy, I remain uneducated.
I guess this amounts to a pony request saying it would be nice if (say) the mods could hit the F7 key to post "Folks, please read this page about 'transracialism' before going on, thanks." Yes, people *should* go find it themselves, but it doesn't hurt to make it easy for them.

[pseudonymph, I took your sentence way out of context to use as fodder for my comment; sorry about that]
posted by uosuaq at 9:36 PM on June 14, 2015 [4 favorites]


Police brutality threads have definitely been on the "must be more than outragefilter" list before. It's not precisely a rule of its own, it's just a category of outragefilter that comes up enough to call it out specifically.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 9:40 PM on June 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


Police brutality threads have definitely been on the "must be more than outragefilter" list before. It's not precisely a rule of its own, it's just a category of outragefilter that comes up enough to call it out specifically.

Thanks for that, r_n.

hal_c_on, that is a far cry from a policy stating that posts about police 'don't do well here' or aren't allowed.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 9:44 PM on June 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm sure this sounds like "placing the burden/onus" on people here, but I'm suggesting this as a way to maybe reduce the burden in the long run. For example, I for one don't have a tumblr account and I'm not going to get one just so I can try to figure out how the site works and then maybe find one of the edifying discussions instead of the bad ones...and so, being lazy, I remain uneducated.

For me, I am often reluctant to post links to websites here because I don't want the owners overrun with "Just curious..." new-user comments. In the same way that it's not fair to expect MeFites to be unpaid educators, I never want to put other people from historically marginalized groups in that position, either.
posted by jaguar at 9:47 PM on June 14, 2015 [8 favorites]


Also I don't have a tumblr account but I read a lot of tumblr blogs. It's not all that complicated.
posted by jaguar at 9:48 PM on June 14, 2015 [5 favorites]


Which is to say, if you can't be bothered to do some Google searches and sift through the results enough to educate yourself before identifying sites that are worthwhile, I really don't want to send you into conversations on sites that I think are worthwhile. Creating some small barrier to entry is not necessarily a bad thing (which is usually the reason people cite the $5 entry fee here as being useful, too).
posted by jaguar at 9:51 PM on June 14, 2015 [15 favorites]


The good thing about Twitter and Tumblr is if (like me) you don't understand them well enough to find stuff on them, then even if someone sends you links to interesting content, you don't understand them well enough to make engage in stupid conversation. It's like the Read Only corner of the Internet.
posted by Bugbread at 9:54 PM on June 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


I read a lot of tumblr blogs. It's not all that complicated.

|I do'
|nt k
|now
|I fi
|nd t
|hi s
|hard
|to r
|ead.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 9:55 PM on June 14, 2015 [25 favorites]


See, we're back to making fun of Tumblr. Which is why many people may be reluctant to post links to Tumblr sites on this particular very public website.
posted by jaguar at 9:56 PM on June 14, 2015 [11 favorites]


...because if you linked a Tumblr site, we might go there and...not say anything?
posted by Bugbread at 9:59 PM on June 14, 2015 [4 favorites]


I honestly don't have a super-strong opinion on these deletions other the opinion that more controversial threads have stayed up. But every thread is different I suppose.

You would recognize that vivisection values your education over the well-being of another human.

Having read one of the deleted threads I think comparing it to vivisection is overstating the situation.
posted by GuyZero at 10:02 PM on June 14, 2015 [6 favorites]


Please feel no reluctance to post as many interesting Tumblr sites as you would like and I am sorry if I gave you some other impression.

I stand by my mockery of their poor layout for even moderately-nested replies, however, which does not reflect upon Tumblr's users.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 10:03 PM on June 14, 2015 [6 favorites]


As examples, cultural appropriation is racism 101, and achieved ethnic/racial identities are anthropology 101 (if you use Schultz and Lavenda's textbook).

I have a college degree and I don't know wtf this means. But I suppose around these parts it's for the super-educated people who are in the know to decide when and how cultural appropriation and racial passing can be discussed? Okay then.
posted by fuse theorem at 10:04 PM on June 14, 2015 [25 favorites]


Having read one of the deleted threads I think comparing it to vivisection is overstating the situation.

At some point, we should have a discussion about how we don't do analogies well here, either.

seriously, this has bugged me for awhile.
posted by SpacemanStix at 10:07 PM on June 14, 2015 [7 favorites]


I have a college degree and I don't know wtf this means.

If that's a genuine question, I think there's something called MeMail. :)
posted by Monsieur Caution at 10:07 PM on June 14, 2015


Key point: I was learning stuff.

Having just got through reading the deleted thread, I am vastly perplexed that anyone thought that it was a helpful, constructive, or nuanced discussion of a complex issue.

to be clear, what I learned from the deleted thread I was tracking (the long one) wasn't anything specific to racial perspectives so much as just how THICK some people are on certain sensitive issues, and (the important part) how best to respond such without just tearing their heads off. Some folks were doing a good, firm, instructive job of it.

So yeah, too bad it had to go.

And now I'm glad to see this Meta about it, because I do think this is a discussion this community needs to have. Not because I think it was necessarily WRONG to delete the FPP I was tracking. But I did question it, and it was bugging me, and clearly I'm not the only one, and now here we are dumping on Tumblr.
posted by philip-random at 10:09 PM on June 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


Monsieur Caution, that was vraiment smug.
posted by Sebmojo at 10:10 PM on June 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


I have a college degree and I don't know wtf this means.

It means you are in debt.
posted by hal_c_on at 10:11 PM on June 14, 2015 [12 favorites]


Monsieur Caution, that was vraiment smug.

I apologize to fuse theorem then. I did mean to imply, based on the antagonism of their comment, that I had doubts about whether they actually wanted to know "wtf" or just wanted to gripe about not having a forum, but I should have assumed the best at least for a while longer. I also have doubts about whether anyone would actually care to know what I think about either cultural appropriation or achieved (vs. ascribed) racial statuses, but it also seemed reasonable to point out there's a way to carry on that conversation, and I have no doubts at all about folks in this forum being willing to share when asked.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 10:24 PM on June 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


Which is why many people may be reluctant to post links to Tumblr sites on this particular very public website.

I would definitely never want to post a link here to someone's tumblr because I don't want them overrun with a whole bunch of "but what if in this totally hypothetical situation it was OKAY to be *ist" questions. And obviously I would never ever want anyone to link my tumblr here because people here get really fucking creepy with me over there and I have no patience for that shit.
posted by poffin boffin at 10:49 PM on June 14, 2015 [19 favorites]


I find myself really, really conflicted about this delete. On the one hand, I understand that this could be a hard conversation to have. But it seems like a large part of the reason that this is a hard conversation to have on Metafilter is because this is not really a settled question and it pushes on a lot of sore points in real life. It's generally acknowledged in most sociology courses that race is a social construction - in which case, the issue of who chooses to identify as which race is an enormously complicated issue already - particularly when you look at the historical basis of who chose and who was forced to identify in which way. So there are no good answers as to 'why this is fucking wrong as hell' that aren't going to step on toes. And this Dolezal thing was wrong as hell and a lot of POC are rightfully hopping fucking mad.

And it seems like we're not having the conversation here because mods don't want to allow a conversation that talks about the issue of 'transracial' (unless I'm missing a lot of deleted comments, that seems the only stuff in that thread some people are objecting to) - which is pretty impossible with this story, particularly because a large part of this story is how the black community, and Twitter, etc, are reacting, and a lot of that is under #transracial. Like, I understand not allowing those comparisons before when they were hypotheticals, but this is the world we're in now - where a woman is saying she feels like she's black and she's going to present herself as black and steal scholarships to Howard University under the pretense of being black.

So it kind of feels like Metafilter is putting its hands over its ears and saying 'la la la I can't heeeeear you' to the real world - like this isn't about newsfilter or not newsfilter, but that it's something that people wish would just go away, because the story is a perfect storm that's skewering all kinds of shit.
posted by corb at 10:55 PM on June 14, 2015 [53 favorites]


corb's post is a good example of why deleting the thread was the right call.
posted by Corinth at 10:59 PM on June 14, 2015 [41 favorites]


I'm sad to see this not get airtime here. I come here to decompress about this kind of stuff. For the sort f John Oliver esque snark and to see the serious debate.

I don't think this is so much a "people need to see this" as a significant like, almost balloon boy level internet event that's getting talked about everywhere.

Maybe just let people be asses and fight a little? I've seen some WONDERFUL snark and interesting educational stuff come out of this.
posted by emptythought at 11:01 PM on June 14, 2015 [4 favorites]


METAFILTER: because this is not really a settled question and it pushes on a lot of sore points in real life.
posted by philip-random at 11:02 PM on June 14, 2015 [4 favorites]


And see, I think corbs post about how the black community is reacting is exactly why this could be a great post. And I'm coming at this as someone who is native/first nation, and has seen this sort of thing go down before but with little to no attention.
posted by emptythought at 11:03 PM on June 14, 2015 [22 favorites]


corb's post is a good example of why deleting the thread was the right call.

It would be really helpful - to me at least - if you could use your words and not just dismiss people's viewpoints with what seems to be an appeal to orthodoxy.
posted by GuyZero at 11:05 PM on June 14, 2015 [73 favorites]


According to my highly scientific study, there have been:

1941 FPPs linking to *.tumblr.com
2096 FPPs linking to *.wordpress.com
651 FPPs linking to *.livejournal.com
140 FPPs linking to *.blogger.com

That can't be right, maybe the URLs are structured funny? Whatever. Anyway, one of you nerds figure this out.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:06 PM on June 14, 2015


Honestly, I think anyone who is responding to this deletion with, "Well what's the harm in just talking about this?" should make sure they read (or re-read) the original JunebyLGBTQ post and it's follow up, as well as the Tramp Stamps and Boyzones MeTa that was posted in that same general time frame.

I understand the line of thinking behind "Why can't we just talk about X?" but it seems like the vast majority of the time, this is someone in a (usually relatively privileged) out-group wanting to talk about a (usually less privileged) in-group, and it's the in-group being discussed who are saying, "Please, let's not have this discussion, because we are tired of reading this shit everywhere." Sure, there may be a few in group people saying, by all means, let's have this discussion, but one person who is female or black or gay or trans doesn't automatically outweigh the twenty other people saying "Please god no not again."

One of the things that those three MeTas really highlighted for me is the fact that it's hard enough dealing with the boyzone crap, but at least women make up a good percentage of the Metafilter user base. When you start getting into LGBT issues, and ESPECIALLY with trans issues, then suddenly a much, much smaller sample of the userbase is feeling the burden. A lot of times in the contentious boyzone threads, every useful thing I would say has already been said far better by another user (either male or female), but it's harder to share that burden when we're talking about groups that make up a much smaller percentage of the base.

Look, which is worse? Having another crappy discussion that drives users away because metafilter feels like a hostile place to them? Or missing out on discussing this one particular news item? Yeah, I get that sometimes we'll discuss things that other people don't want to see discussed, and we're a community, and opinions diverge, but I think it's okay to draw particular lines when we're talking about broad demographics who already have to deal with a lot of shit in both their online and off line lives.
posted by litera scripta manet at 11:07 PM on June 14, 2015 [45 favorites]


So it kind of feels like Metafilter is putting its hands over its ears and saying 'la la la I can't heeeeear you' to the real world - like this isn't about newsfilter or not newsfilter, but that it's something that people wish would just go away, because the story is a perfect storm that's skewering all kinds of shit.

I think what is (potentially) being said is that when we aren't just some anonymous message board on the internet, more care can be taken regarding what kinds of topics here are potentially hurtful to people we care about here. The idea that we need to work this out here reduces social interactions to figuring out truth propositions. Conversely, by saying this is the need of our community at this time -- that we not revel in it simply because it's out there as a possible topic of conversation -- we actually personalize our community in such a way that makes us more empathetic, and it makes me actually like metafilter a bit more. There are discussions within my own family that we approach carefully, because the topic causes pain for some people. If people involved insisted on only discussing those things in such a way that it forgets/neglects/depersonalizes personal and potentially hurtful background experiences, I'm certain we would make a choice to simply not have those discussions while people involved are incapable of getting their stuff together. Or, we would have a discussion in a different location.
posted by SpacemanStix at 11:08 PM on June 14, 2015 [6 favorites]


Actually, in a rare move for me, after reading that second thread I hadn't previously seen... I think I'm going to use up my yearly DISREGARD THAT I DESIGN CITY BLOCKS(to use longform old memese)

That got pretty ugh pretty fast.
posted by emptythought at 11:08 PM on June 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


Oh, also, another reason why I personally appreciate this deletion is because it feels like a sign that the mods have really heard the concerns laid out in the MeTas I linked above (among other discussions), and that they are trying to put those concerns into practice.
posted by litera scripta manet at 11:09 PM on June 14, 2015 [24 favorites]


The story has gripped my mind since it came out, and I believe there's absolutely nothing race 101 about it. It's tricky because when you engage the conundrums in good faith, it potentially forces people to come to nuanced positions about things that aren't so clear. I believe anti-racist / anti-oppressive frameworks necessarily come to reductive views of racial dynamics, because this is the way we find framing racial issues in America to be most clarifying and impactful. I tend to be on-board with those views. However, there are ways in which racial identity is a slippery, messy, mindboggling concept, and thinking hard about that potentially means that the reductive frameworks we use start bending a little, or a lot. That's the "advanced course" stuff. And that means either 1) we start seeing things in more accurate nuanced ways that aren't as binary and reductive, BUT the reductive anti-racism talking points become much harder to hold with 100% clarity, or 2) we fight back hard against the discussion itself, because it threatens to compromise the air-tight defenses of those anti-racist initiatives.

That's a sort of metabattle from the race standpoint - if we consider ourselves part of the progressive effort, then do we allow for chinks in the armor to present themselves in frank, good-faith discussions, at the cost of our worldview becoming more opaque and uncertain?

If a thread were left open, I would say the best way to mitigate harm would be to just blanket say "you can't use the trans analogy in a comment. Period." Because 1) it's a flawed analogy from the start, since race, ethnicity, gender and sex cannot all be compared in 1:1 ways without a whole host of problems; and 2) no matter how good faith or innocent the analogy is, it's proven to be painful for non-cis people by the very nature of the situation for half a dozen reasons, and it's such a minefield to get into.

I've looked around for a good conversation about the subject (even reddit, lord help me) that explores the racial messiness without getting into the trans analogy, and unfortunately I haven't come across anything good. It just poisons the discussion wherever it appears. I believe the race and identity aspects are worth considering, though. We're all puzzling through them. Yesterday I was able to have lengthy conversations with two friends who talk often about race from a black perspective, and they're puzzling through it and are conflicted too. They mostly have questions, not answers, and any pat solutions seem to have holes in them. I think many of us are keen to have the discussion that could end up challenging our worldviews or framing this in the right way, but it may be impossible as long as "trans-" appears anywhere in it.
posted by naju at 11:10 PM on June 14, 2015 [53 favorites]


Recently, Mefi hasn't had "discussions" on these kinds* of topics, it has had an exhausting stream of unyielding, uncharitable, incurious people projecting their personal issues onto others. I see no problem with this topic being deleted.
posted by smidgen at 11:16 PM on June 14, 2015 [9 favorites]


I think there's some pretty gross stuff there. Which I won't get into because this thread is not to be a rehashing of the topic, but to say it was "doing fine" is to imply a consensus exists where I'd say it does not.

Which is sort of why this thread feels stupid to me. What's ok in here? People were being assholes, but we can't talk about why or how because that's rehashing it... So what's the point?
posted by emptythought at 11:16 PM on June 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


I've looked around for a good conversation about the subject (even reddit, lord help me) that explores the racial messiness without getting into the trans analogy, and unfortunately I haven't come across anything good.

yeah, I feel much the same. And thus my frustration with Metafilter seeming to be officially "not up to it". I'm not bitter, just disappointed.

For the record, the best response I've thus far heard to all of this comes from an older neighbour I don't really know that well. "She seems like a mostly good young person who got caught up in a lie, and now the whole world's tearing her apart for it. The punishment doesn't fit the crime."
posted by philip-random at 11:17 PM on June 14, 2015 [4 favorites]


Ugh, I think I came across as more strident and shout-y than I meant to in my first comment. I really try not to post in contentious threads when it's late and I'm tired and cranky because oh my god the pollen is driving my sinuses crazy. I'm going to step away from the internet, pop a benadryl, and go to sleep.

Seriously, this is the allergy season from hell. I know plants are important and all, but I kind of wish I could burn all greenery to the ground. Anything to make the pollen stop.
posted by litera scripta manet at 11:30 PM on June 14, 2015


Wow, it's painful seeing the same bullshit that got those threads deleted being repeated right here.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:01 AM on June 15, 2015 [10 favorites]


Friendly reminder, let's not get into what we actually think about Dolezal here.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 12:04 AM on June 15, 2015


fuck the pollen, litera scripta. if I could hermetically seal my apartment without losing oxygen...
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:08 AM on June 15, 2015 [5 favorites]


The more I think about it, the more I feel like the actual deletion reason was more or less "it is with great sorrow that I must announce that the metafilter user base is not capable of having the kind of discussion we value here on metafilter about this topic."

To be clear, given that that's probably true, I think that's the right call.
posted by KathrynT at 12:08 AM on June 15, 2015 [10 favorites]


I read through one of the deleted threads and I started out thinking that it was really interesting, but by the end I was wishing someone had killed it earlier.

This is classic newsfilter and it's basically a chance for people to express their opinions on race and (by analogy) gender. As usual, it turns out that lots of people have inchoate ideas about these subjects that they'd like to discuss in abstract terms. I mean, I do, and I'd like to discuss them, but I can see it's a bad idea. I think a good rule of thumb is that if you wouldn't bring up a subject to someone's face, you probably shouldn't bring it up in a MeFi discussion.
posted by Joe in Australia at 12:26 AM on June 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


it seems like the vast majority of the time, this is someone in a (usually relatively privileged) out-group wanting to talk about a (usually less privileged) in-group, and it's the in-group being discussed who are saying, "Please, let's not have this discussion, because we are tired of reading this shit everywhere."

Yeah, but in this case, I think the underprivileged in-group in question is the group that wants to be discussing it. There are a lot of implications for the black community and also other communities of color, particularly ones that suffer from erasure and a shortage of scholarships and leadership opportunities, or ones that suffer from disproportionate negative stereotyping and racism that are what those scholarships and leadership opportunties are made to make up for. And there's something problematic about assuming that people of color don't want to be in those discussions - looking at the one that managed to make it out of the gate, it seemed like there was some good representation.

I think the individual post that made it to discussion may have had some issues and didn't contain a lot of the really great reaction essays to this - but that's an argument for 'do this better', not 'don't do this at all'.
posted by corb at 12:36 AM on June 15, 2015 [11 favorites]


To be clear, given that that's probably true, I think that's the right call.

I was with you 100% on that last comment till you said the above.

But now I'm thinking hard about it. We can't have our cake and eat it too.

This site can't be less able to handle contentious issues than the jerks at work, school, family AND still consider itself to be a place where diverse ideas and people maintain a space.

I know thats not really pro-metafilter or whatever. But its that false attitude of 'everything is awesome' that prevents people (users) from making constructive change.

So yeah, maybe I do agree 100% with KathrynT who is in agreement with the mods.


What changed? I realized that the implication made by the deletion wasn't some sort of slight. Its actually needed.

Tough job, you mods do: managing all these jerks on this site. Good call on this issue.

Why can't you motherfucking mefites just be nicer?
posted by hal_c_on at 12:48 AM on June 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


So, yes: community-first; 101 is exhausting and hurtful. I get it, and I accept it as being part of this community. But increasingly I feel like I'm drifting away from the community. Yes, I know said this previously.

I watched for days for a thread on this to hit the Blue because I sincerely had no idea what was happening. The media here in Holland, although generally pretty good, had only the barest of bones description of events. Race being what it is everywhere and especially in the States, and my relatives back in the States being who they are, I was hoping to figure out A) what actually happened and B) what it means without C) wading through a ton of racist shit to do it.

But eventually I did wade into Reddit and tried to find some decent links to actual reporting there, but all I found were obviously editorialized cuts of video interviews and a lot of thinly and not-so-thinly veiled racism. I STILL don't know what the hell actually went on. I missed being able to go to the community I rely upon, although like I said, I understand why I can't rely on the community for everything.

At the risk of another poor analogy, I think what the above experience taught me is that the evolving ethos around here is "If you have to ask, you can't afford it."
posted by digitalprimate at 1:18 AM on June 15, 2015 [11 favorites]


Having read all the relevant content here, now that i'm back on a real computer(with a keyboard, and a mouse, and everything!)

How this went down, and the fact that the whole transracial thing was given any airtime and not immediately struck down by the mods honestly makes me embarrassed about this site, and... disappointed. Seriously disappointed.

I mean, i've been disappointed before. But it was disappointed like, when you accidentally spill your entire just-cooked meal on the floor. It was transient.

Nah, this is disappointing like finding out one of your good friends got arrested for jacking off on a playground.

This is something that was invented by young kids on tumblr who didn't know any better or really comprehend entirely why and how what they were doing was so fucked up, had a relatively short shelf life of being more than a tiny thing, and that has since mostly been grandstanded by transphobic trolls on reddit... and giving it real airtime here.

It's the equivalent of a gamergate talking point, and language therein like "literally who" getting used here with a straight face and quite a few people just nodding and sipping their tea.

Independent of the people who were wincing or hurting from this discussion, that's just... depressing. I thought this place was better than that.
posted by emptythought at 1:25 AM on June 15, 2015 [13 favorites]


From my perspective, the decision was between nuking the thread, or a seriously meaningful proportion of hte comments in it. That thread was chock fucking full of awful shite. No doubt well-intended but clueless, but no less awful for it. I think that a prerequisite for a thread on the topic going well is a not having it filled with vapid transphobia from the get-go, and judging by the way the deleted one went, that would require a mod to sit on it full-time and delete something like one in three comments, at least at the moment.


I find myself really, really conflicted about this delete. On the one hand, I understand that this could be a hard conversation to have. But it seems like a large part of the reason that this is a hard conversation to have on Metafilter is because this is not really a settled question and it pushes on a lot of sore points in real life.

The transphobic shite, the 'this is just like Caitlyn Jenner' stuff? Settled question in real life. Just because a bunch of cis mefites who don't engage with trans issues on any level except to pontificate like this without looking on the internet or genuinely thinking things through think it's new or haven't settled it yet, doesn't mean it's unsettled.

If you're trans, this shit is not new. These arguments are not new. Transphobia is not novel. That so many people are spouting off this bullshit is the only thing that's different. This kind of prejudice does not and should not become more palatable or acceptable for becoming more widespread.

Yeah, but in this case, I think the underprivileged in-group in question is the group that wants to be discussing it. There are a lot of implications for the black community and also other communities of color, particularly ones that suffer from erasure and a shortage of scholarships and leadership opportunities, or ones that suffer from disproportionate negative stereotyping and racism that are what those scholarships and leadership opportunties are made to make up for. And there's something problematic about assuming that people of color don't want to be in those discussions - looking at the one that managed to make it out of the gate, it seemed like there was some good representation.

Maybe there's an interesting debate to be had about the nature of race here. Maybe there isn't. I don't know, but it sure didn't look like that was what was happening in the thread. There is definitely not an interesting debate to be had about this relates to trans identities (it fucking doesn't) and this tedious threadshit had completely devoured the thread.
posted by Dysk at 1:42 AM on June 15, 2015 [36 favorites]


Race being what it is everywhere and especially in the States, and my relatives back in the States being who they are, I was hoping to figure out A) what actually happened and B) what it means without C) wading through a ton of racist shit to do it.

Judging by the deleted thread, you wouldn't have had any better a time of achieving those goals here than on reddit.
posted by Dysk at 1:53 AM on June 15, 2015 [6 favorites]


Yeah the whole thing here is that "transracial" is nearly nonexistent as something that people actually identify with - certainly Rachel Dolezal never claimed it - so the idea that her story is a wedge between anti-racism and trans activism is totally artificial, a right-wing meme. Yet somehow that meme caught on.
posted by atoxyl at 2:06 AM on June 15, 2015 [21 favorites]


There's probably a lot to be discussed about how this fits into the history of race, and a lot to figure out about what this woman was trying to do even. But there's no reason to take the bait and blunder into saying offensive things about both race and gender. The OP on the thread I saw for this actually mentioned Tootsie, which was a terrible idea.
posted by atoxyl at 2:10 AM on June 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


Corb: "But it seems like a large part of the reason that this is a hard conversation to have on Metafilter is because this is not really a settled question and it pushes on a lot of sore points in real life."

Dysk: "The transphobic shite, the 'this is just like Caitlyn Jenner' stuff? Settled question in real life. Just because a bunch of cis mefites who don't engage with trans issues on any level except to pontificate like this without looking on the internet or genuinely thinking things through think it's new or haven't settled it yet, doesn't mean it's unsettled."

I interpreted Corb's comment is talking about the race part, not the trans part.
posted by Bugbread at 2:22 AM on June 15, 2015 [4 favorites]


So did I - and I think that rather overlooks or sweeps under the carpet one of the major issues with the thread. Even if the thread handled race well - which I am not convinced was the case - that does not render the thread okay as long as the other problematic shite is still there.
posted by Dysk at 2:53 AM on June 15, 2015 [6 favorites]


so the idea that her story is a wedge between anti-racism and trans activism is totally artificial, a right-wing meme. Yet somehow that meme caught on.

And i just don't understand how that's a talking point that has to come up anywhere this is going to be discussed.

Like, i think there probably could have been a decent thread if that was entirely banned as a topic. But it seems to be... the only topic? That and armchair betting/speculating on her mental status.

I don't know if it's that there isn't a ton of meat on the bone yet, but that was something pushed from vile people and places that somehow even Decent Reasonable People seem to have just accepted as something to go on about.

It's like, less of a thing than like teenagers thinking they have telekinesis, and somehow it got a ton of airtime. What? A bunch of people have been had.
posted by emptythought at 3:19 AM on June 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


The first place I heard about it was the MeFi thread, but I seemed to have totally misinterpreted it. Like, perhaps because I read it on MeFi, and not Facebook or whatever, I took it to be a face value position that yeah, she's black. Not "If Caitlyn Jenner is a woman then Dolezol is black (haha Dolezol's totally not black, therefore Caitlyn Jenner is not a woman)" but "If Caitlyn Jenner is a woman then Dolezol is black (Caitlyn Jenner totally is a woman, so Dolezol is black)". Now I wonder how many of the comments in the thread which I read as pro-trans were actually anti-trans.
posted by Bugbread at 3:28 AM on June 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


This is the thing, the comparison is problematic on the grounds of both race and gender. It doesn't matter if it's intended as pro-"transracialism" or anti-trans, it's the same sentiment. It's like if you tell someone the way they're acting means they're either an asshole or have autism - it's offensive to both parties - the person in question and people with autism - even if one of them is intended as exculpatory.
posted by Dysk at 3:36 AM on June 15, 2015 [24 favorites]


Man, if people are reading that linked thread and thinking "Gosh, this is fine, what intelligent and insightful comments all around" then a lot of people are walking around with HUGE blind spots about issues of race. That thread starts out cringe-y, then a few people attempt to educate, but more and more people just jump in to add to the cringe. I feel like leaving that thread up leaves trans people and POC with two choices:

1. Nope out, and try to ignore the spectacle of all the cis white people patting each other on the back as they bump into walls
2. Grit their teeth and play educator for hours as a bunch of bog-standard ignorance gets thrown their way.

I think a more productive conversation could be had if the post led with essays like this and this, where the ways in which this is fucked up are detailed by POC themselves. Then there is groundwork for the discussion beyond a bunch of attempts to analyze the situation via completely abstract thinking that in no way includes the real, lived experiences of the minority groups in question.
posted by schroedinger at 4:05 AM on June 15, 2015 [25 favorites]


But it seems like a large part of the reason that this is a hard conversation to have on Metafilter is because this is not really a settled question and it pushes on a lot of sore points in real life.

But it is a settled question. Maybe it is not a settled question if you live with your head in the ground and pretend "race is a social construct" means "race does not play a deep and unavoidable role in shaping our identity and how society treats us and the privileges afforded to us in life". But if you do not have that attitude then there aren't really any questions about the issue.
posted by schroedinger at 4:11 AM on June 15, 2015 [17 favorites]


Yeah the whole thing here is that "transracial" is nearly nonexistent as something that people actually identify with - certainly Rachel Dolezal never claimed it -

Without wanting to give undue weight to a technicality, according to the Buzzfeed piece, it appears she did (in a 2009 press interview).
posted by progosk at 4:25 AM on June 15, 2015


schroedinger: "But if you do not have that attitude then there aren't really any questions about the issue."

I don't think that's the case, but this isn't really the thread to discuss specifics. Perhaps you meant that there shouldn't really be any questions about the issue?
posted by Bugbread at 4:32 AM on June 15, 2015


Without wanting to give undue weight to a technicality, according to the Buzzfeed piece, it appears she did (in a 2009 press interview).

Yeah, but in context, her use of "trans-racial" there could well mean "biracial," not "assigned white at birth."
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 4:41 AM on June 15, 2015


Quick Reminder again: this isn't the spot to have the discussion about Dolezale.
posted by taz (staff) at 4:52 AM on June 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


Could a reposted thread (say, next week?) focusing only on the history and context of racial appropriation/impersonation and essays on that aspect of the story, with all references to "t_____l" excised by mods if necessary? I hope so.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 5:16 AM on June 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


Well, this latest isn't really about Dolezal, but about the urge to express opinions about things. Which is relatively harmless if it's about classic Star Trek, but can be a little dicier when we're talking about race, gender, sexuality etc.

"Transracial", at least before Breitbart, Buzzfeed et alia managed to googlebollock it, has a very clearly defined meaning, specific to discussion of adoption. It's when adoption takes place across racial boundaries. What she is saying in 2009 is pretty clear if you know that: that she was adopted across racial lines, as was her "son" (who is as far as I can discern actually her significantly younger adoptive brother, an African-American adopted by white parents).

Regardless of the merits of this particular assertion, absent this information the above is a pretty textbook piece of confident but unqualified contribution, which just ends up adding static to the discussion.

I don't think there's actually a cure for that - you can't stop the 'splain from falling down, as Aaron Neville so heartbreakingly put it - but it might help to explain the dissonance between differing views of the various nuked threads.
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:24 AM on June 15, 2015 [17 favorites]


Potomac Avenue, I think we can have a post at some point, probably not next week, on the topic of racial appropriation, etc. I don't think we can have a post that requires 24/7 comment-by-comment constant moderator attention for a week to a month, and we aren't willing to have one that hurts and alienates our members as acceptable collateral damage for being able to discuss a weird in-the-moment wtf news story about this one person.
posted by taz (staff) at 5:32 AM on June 15, 2015 [21 favorites]


...that would require a mod to sit on it full-time and delete something like one in three comments, at least at the moment.

Fact check, please. Would that strategy have worked?
posted by Sir Rinse at 5:45 AM on June 15, 2015


Why isn't there some automated moderation? Say if a poster has more than three comments with a total of 5 flags in a particular thread, there's a 90 minute hold/cool-down period on posting to that thread?
posted by sammyo at 5:49 AM on June 15, 2015


Metafilter has never, ever worked that way and the mods have shown little interest in automated moderation at all.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:55 AM on June 15, 2015 [11 favorites]


"Transracial", at least before Breitbart, Buzzfeed et alia managed to googlebollock it, has a very clearly defined meaning, specific to discussion of adoption. It's when adoption takes place across racial boundaries. What she is saying in 2009 is pretty clear if you know that: that she was adopted across racial lines, as was her "son" (who is as far as I can discern actually her significantly younger adoptive brother, an African-American adopted by white parents).

Regardless of the merits of this particular assertion, absent this information the above is a pretty textbook piece of confident but unqualified contribution, which just ends up adding static to the discussion.


Thanks for this, running order squabble fest, and sorry for my uninformed comment.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 6:07 AM on June 15, 2015


I have serious problems with a mindset that I've seen pretty much exclusively on this website, when people ask questions and the response is "is not my job to educate you" or, "that is level 100 stuff, Google it, go on Tumblr." It feels elitist to me.

And why do I always feel like such a victim on this site in some of these discussions? So many topics about race here are all about how it must be so shitty to be black, how hurtful it can be, and I don't think it fosters the diversity that we say we want.
posted by girlmightlive at 6:12 AM on June 15, 2015 [34 favorites]


I have serious problems with a mindset that I've seen pretty much exclusively on this website, when people ask questions and the response is "is not my job to educate you" or, "that is level 100 stuff, Google it, go on Tumblr." It feels elitist to me.

It's pretty reasonable to expect people to have a basic level of understanding about a subject before discussing it, no?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 6:14 AM on June 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


"Transracial", at least before Breitbart, Buzzfeed et alia managed to googlebollock it, has a very clearly defined meaning, specific to discussion of adoption. It's when adoption takes place across racial boundaries. What she is saying in 2009 is pretty clear if you know that: that she was adopted across racial lines, as was her "son" (who is as far as I can discern actually her significantly younger adoptive brother, an African-American adopted by white parents).

Yes. I first learned the term when researching adoption options, and initially figured the way it was being used here was a strange definition or connotation I just didn't know about.
posted by zarq at 6:16 AM on June 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


It's pretty reasonable to expect people to have a basic level of understanding about a subject before discussing it, no?

Might as well nuke 80% of MetaFilter, then.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:23 AM on June 15, 2015 [29 favorites]


It's pretty reasonable to expect people to have a basic level of understanding about a subject before discussing it, no?

I don't get this. I don't agree with people who parade around pretending to be an expert, but if someone asks, "What does transracial mean in this context?" and related questions and how it all works together and the immediate response is, "it's not my job to educate you..." I don't like it, no, and I only see it here.

I am, for many of my friends, their only black friend. I have had countless discussions about race and white privilege and I enjoy it, because those are interesting discussions and it's about my real, actual life. I would never tell them it's not my job to educate them, because it's already SO HARD to be black, which, by the way, helps perpetuate permanent victimhood which doesn't do anyone any good.
posted by girlmightlive at 6:24 AM on June 15, 2015 [49 favorites]


Metafilter used to try and avoid newsfilter. Give it a while and come back to this story, when we've all had a chance to process it and get our thoughts in order. What's so very wrong with that? Things don't become less important just because a week or two has passed. Haven't we all wished we hadn't said the first thing that crossed our minds in the heat of the moment? The mods are trying to do the site a favour, that's not a bad thing.
posted by h00py at 6:26 AM on June 15, 2015 [18 favorites]


If that's a genuine question, I think there's something called MeMail. :)

Whoosh. That's the sound of the point going right over someone's head.

the antagonism of their comment

My comment?

that I had doubts about whether they actually wanted to know "wtf" or just wanted to gripe about not having a forum

The "wtf" was directed specifically at (what I read as) the suggestion that people's concerns and opinions about cultural appropriation and racial passing lack importance or don't deserve discussion because duh, we learned all that stuff in "racism 101" and "anthropology 101". And those of us who didn't should just go google Schultz and Lavenda's writings. Please.

I also have doubts about whether anyone would actually care to know what I think about either cultural appropriation or achieved (vs. ascribed) racial statuses, but it also seemed reasonable to point out there's a way to carry on that conversation, and I have no doubts at all about folks in this forum being willing to share when asked.

Okay, if you don't think anyone would be interested in your opinions on the matter, it would seem to me that the simple solution is not to offer them. I think it's possible to do that without denigrating other people's good faith efforts to offer theirs.

Not trying to (re-)fight this battle. I get it; for whatever reason this is a conversation that's not going to happen on Mefi, at least not at this time. However, I'm really fascinated by the condescending, "there, there now, we know what's best for you" attitudes which seem to be attached to some of the reasons why.

Might as well nuke 80% of MetaFilter, then.

Might as well nuke 80% of the internet.
posted by fuse theorem at 6:33 AM on June 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


I have had countless discussions about race and white privilege and I enjoy it, because those are interesting discussions and it's about my real, actual life.

I totally agree with you here, but it's important to recognize that other black people may not and that's their choice and right.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:34 AM on June 15, 2015 [6 favorites]


> I don't like it, no, and I only see it here.

I've seen it in a lot of places over the years, both a bald "not my job" and more gently as "here are some links..."

We have a lot of threads here where some mefites want to discuss one aspect of an fpp, but another group wants them to first explain basic stuff about that aspect. Always working on the level of people who know the least about a subject is kind of....not that fun all the time. The internet is full of links. I think it's fine if someone is like "I am unfamiliar with this, halp" and when offered links to go read, they go read them rather than demanding an immediate explanation right there in the thread.
posted by rtha at 6:38 AM on June 15, 2015 [16 favorites]


this is a story we're still smack dab in the middle of - the subject of the story has said all of 50 words about it, none of them illuminating. if the previous posts had been left we wouldn't have the discussion of her unilaterally canceling the monthly naacp meeting after seemingly banning some members from attending - we wouldn't have the links about her possible plagiarism. if a post were made right now it wouldn't include the statement she's supposedly making today or the reaction to it. what's going on right now is a whole lot of people pontificating (and falling into troll traps set by channers) about a subject where we've only seen a very small portion of what is left to learn.

so lets learn a little bit, sit back, let this story come out and breathe a little. if there are still interesting or important things to discuss once we see the whole picture, we'll do that then. to do it now would be a thread of hurtful guessing games which you can find anywhere else on the internet. let us this time keep the filter part of metafilter and just wait.
posted by nadawi at 6:45 AM on June 15, 2015 [37 favorites]


girlmightlive, drawing on my own experience only and not speaking for others, for me the education stuff (personally in my case around mental illness issues and being gay/queer/whatever word I'm using these days) is about being forced into the role. Choosing to go "okay, this means that thing and the assumptions you're making about X are wrong because ABC" when I feel like it is one thing. Having to do it because someone is sealioning is exceedingly tiresome.

Like, if I feel like entering into a conversation about what it's like to have depression, fine--I'm making that choice. If some assbag is saying stuff like "well come on I've been sad before, you just need to cheer up" it's just, ugh, not this shit again. I think, and again I don't want to put words in anyone's mouth, that's what it boils down to for the people who are just rolling their eyes and saying "this is seriously basic stuff, come back when you have a clue."
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 6:46 AM on June 15, 2015 [12 favorites]

Excessive post deletions along with relentless and really absurd comment deletions are making Metafilter a hollow shell of what it was.
I remain surprised and dismayed that most folks seem to like it just fine that way. In three weeks I'll have been here 15 years, and I see deletions of this sort, and the cheerleading for them, as an utter abandonment of the founding principles of this site. Matt gave the current moderators his blessing when he left them in charge, so that battle is lost, I suppose, but damnit you folks are disappointing.
posted by MrMoonPie at 6:52 AM on June 15, 2015 [27 favorites]


So I read this thread before I knew who this NAACP person was and what the story was. I thought Dolezal was trans. Turns out, she's white. I have no idea how trans people are related to this story and it seems like really out of left field and I imagine really hurtful to compare a whole group of diverse people with this one weirdo. Anyway, couldn't we have the discussion if we just had a blanket ban on anyone comparing her to a trans person?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 6:54 AM on June 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


fffm: It's pretty reasonable to expect people to have a basic level of understanding about a subject before discussing it, no?

Okay, but some of the concepts raised in discussions like these do not strike me as "basic." I recognize that as privilege. But when it comes to minority issues (all minorities, not just race) people who aren't part of that group are going to have knowledge gaps. Filling those gaps isn't our responsibility, but when people are engaging in good faith, doing so can lead to smoother, more knowledgeable conversations.

I've spent a lot of time trying to explain Judaism 101, 201, 301, etc., on Metafilter and Metatalk. I try to think of them as small teachable moments. Sometimes it's been a bit frustrating. Exasperating. But explaining still strikes me as a better option than telling people to learn before participating. For me.

I would never, ever demand or expect that people on mefi educate me in my ignorance about their cultures and the issues that they deal with. But at the same time I'm grateful when they take the time and do so.
posted by zarq at 6:57 AM on June 15, 2015 [22 favorites]


i've been here 13 years and i don't find we've utterly abandoned anything. things change, things evolve, things move forward. MrMoonPie, you've been unhappy with moderation here for years - long before matt left, long before we got to our current cadre of mods. if you're disappointed i think part of it has to be on you since you keep coming here expecting something different years after you've decided it's broken.
posted by nadawi at 7:00 AM on June 15, 2015 [44 favorites]


Not sure if this is Metafilter related, but I had a dream about a band playing at a bar I was visiting, and when I got close enough to the stage to see the name of the band on the drum kit bass drum, it read, "Bobby and the Bad Deletions."
posted by AugustWest at 7:05 AM on June 15, 2015 [11 favorites]


Ah, you might want the thread down one, AugustWest.
posted by h00py at 7:07 AM on June 15, 2015 [7 favorites]


rtha: We have a lot of threads here where some mefites want to discuss one aspect of an fpp, but another group wants them to first explain basic stuff about that aspect.

Does this really happen though? It seems more common that people A share their own (informed or uninformed) thoughts on a subject and people B, who disagree with them, offer their own (informed or uninformed) corrections and explanations. The A people never asked anyone to correct them, if the B people want to weigh in and correct/inform/bloviate that's fair enough, but it's not as if the A people are out there demanding for their obvious wrongness to be remediated.
posted by pseudonick at 7:20 AM on June 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


that's not always true - aggressively wrong people tend to include some sort of "just asking questions! show me where i'm wrong!" sort of clause.
posted by nadawi at 7:24 AM on June 15, 2015 [24 favorites]


The A people never asked anyone to correct them, if the B people want to weigh in and correct/inform/bloviate that's fair enough, but it's not as if the A people are out there demanding for their obvious wrongness to be remediated.

Pretend you're in the B group and the A group's talking points are used to discriminate against you and justify violence against you. It's not an equal playing field.
posted by jaguar at 7:25 AM on June 15, 2015 [28 favorites]


The very existence of the wrongness--in this case most egregiously the 'transracial' bullshit--demands its remediation.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:28 AM on June 15, 2015 [6 favorites]


I think the default assumption among many active members has become, "if you're not already educated, then too bad for you; we don't want you commenting in our threads."

Ok, fair enough if that's the community's price of participation. But it's becoming an increasingly high barrier to entry even to those of us trying our best.
posted by digitalprimate at 7:28 AM on June 15, 2015 [18 favorites]


or, y'know, what they said better.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:28 AM on June 15, 2015


What ever happened to not going into threads that you don't like?
posted by five fresh fish at 7:29 AM on June 15, 2015 [19 favorites]


Or how ab out not comparing something to someone else's thing when it's a completely different kettle of cliche, and not getting all boohoo when told not to compare it? Surely the whole Godwin's law thing has taught us something!
posted by h00py at 7:33 AM on June 15, 2015 [11 favorites]


that's not always true - aggressively wrong people tend to include some sort of "just asking questions! show me where i'm wrong!" sort of clause.


Yeah - sorry if anyone felt personally got at by the thing about "transracial" - my ire is really directed at lazy or actively malicious media who perpetuate this stuff, and who actually have at least a vestigial duty to accuracy - but I think one thing that is both a strength and a weakness of MetaFilter is that we tend to assume both that people know whereof they speak, and that they are participating in good faith.

The problem wouldn't be a problem if someone had brought up the transracial-as-equivalent-to-transgender canard in the thread, someone else had corrected them and that was it. The problem is more when either the same canard is repeated over and over, or one person continues to run that ball long after the whistle has blown. And blown again. And again.
posted by running order squabble fest at 7:33 AM on June 15, 2015 [8 favorites]


"The transphobic shite, the 'this is just like Caitlyn Jenner' stuff? Settled question in real life. Just because a bunch of cis mefites who don't engage with trans issues on any level except to pontificate like this without looking on the internet or genuinely thinking things through think it's new or haven't settled it yet, doesn't mean it's unsettled."

Yeah, to be clear, I think people talking about Caitlyn Jenner could just be deleted as a derail.

How people racially identify is not a settled question in real life - particularly people who are biracial or lighter skinned. And there are two components of racial identification - how people feel, and how they're identified by others. The how people feel issue doesn't just mean 'I feel like I've always been black' but more 'which half of my culture do I identify with? Who do I want to be? Who does everyone want me to be? What do I think about it?" Would you consider yourself X, or are you just X enough for Hitler? And this also plays into adoptions, and transracial adoptions as well - who are you born, vs who are you raised? And it's worth noting that transracial adoptions are not themselves uncomplicated or unchallenged - in part because of the issue of how different-race parents will raise their other-race children. Add that to the issue of how lighter-skinned POC are often taken eagerly as spokespeople, particularly in otherwise racist areas - and Spokane is a super whitebread town, which is yet another angle. Then add in what this means for lightskinned POC who already face questions of whether they are black enough or are taking scholarships and opportunities meant for people who face more examples of real prejudice - there are literally hundreds of thoughtful angles to ponder this through.

in this case most egregiously the 'transracial' bullshit--demands its remediation.

This is the hashtag that people are talking about it on Twitter by, which is largely saying that transracial is not a thing and that Dolezal doing what she did is actually ridiculously hurtful. It is impossible to talk about the community reaction effectively without mentioning it because it is embedded in a lot of the tweets, especially the ones about how POC (or at least, many) cannot just put on white privilege when they want to.
posted by corb at 7:33 AM on June 15, 2015 [12 favorites]


if people want a thread about the complicated nature of being multiracial, they should make that post (probably some other time since the well seem good and poisoned right this second), but hinging that on a white woman in bronze face is not really a great place to start the conversation, especially since most of what we "know" comes from parents she claims were abusive, so...it's really just filled with ick all around.
posted by nadawi at 7:38 AM on June 15, 2015 [25 favorites]


The problem is more when either the same canard is repeated over and over

This is one reason why I force myself to read at least some of TFA as well as the entire thread (especially if it's passed, say, 50 comments) before I weigh in. It's prevented me from repeating points already raised, avoided any number of mistakes, educated me on many issues (without my demanding it), and, occasionally, avoided stamping on peoples' feet. I suppose it also makes the mods' job a bit easier.
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:44 AM on June 15, 2015 [15 favorites]


there are literally hundreds of thoughtful angles to ponder this through

Except that many or all applicable to this case. And what may be "thoughtful angles to ponder" from a distance for you doesn't track with how personal it is to a lot of people, especially with the 100% unnecessary comparisons to transgender identities.

It is impossible to talk about the community reaction effectively without mentioning [transracial] because it is embedded in a lot of the tweets

No, it isn't. There's a fervent desire to make it part of the conversation, but there is absolutely no need to talk about it regardless of hashtag usage.
posted by zombieflanders at 7:44 AM on June 15, 2015 [10 favorites]


As a person who generally doesn't like deletions, I am perfectly fine with this one.

From my perspective, the media has done an irresponsibly terrible job of covering this story.

As an engineer and scientist, I've spent most of my life studying (and dealing with) difficult edge-case scenarios. Some of the most interesting data lies at the ends of the spectrum, and it's convenient to test if your hypothesis is bad by going straight to the edge-cases.

In the social sciences, this rule doesn't really apply. Every spectrum is blurry, and there are too many variables to consider. In the media, it's even more ridiculous to report on a sociological edge-case as though it's some sort of trend. No serious person in the media would suggest that Ben Carson or Herman Cain are part of any sort of meaningful resurgence of African American support of the GOP. The amount of attention that this story has gotten makes me disappointed, because it's only notable for being completely nonsensical and far removed from any established trend.

In the case of Rachel Dolezal, there are so many weird factors to consider, and the reporting was unbelievably sloppy and full of unsubstantiated conjecture (much of which bled over into the MetaFilter thread). Was there a smoking-gun "I am black" quote? Who erroneously captioned the photo that purported to show her with her father? What's the deal with her upbringing, and why are we believing her parents at face-value?

In the end, I don't think that things are going to look particularly good for Ms. Dolezal, but I don't think that we've gotten anything close to a complete or accurate story about what happened.

Rachel Dolzeal's life might make an interesting case study in a journal article, and it might make for an interesting conversation on MetaFilter if we knew more details. Right now, the media coverage is shaping any discussion of this matter into an angry mob.
posted by schmod at 7:45 AM on June 15, 2015 [25 favorites]


h00py: "Ah, you might want the thread down one, AugustWest."

Yup. Wrong thread.
posted by AugustWest at 7:56 AM on June 15, 2015


Jumping in to this from the veeeeery top, I'd like to say a big Thank You to the mods for this decision and the explanation at the very top of this thread. It's a great relief that we don't have to do this discussion here, where inevitably the minority groups here feel compelled to respond to the 101-level shit that just can't be avoided.

Literally go anywhere else on the internet if you want to engage in "debate" about the actual topic. It's not healthy here.
posted by odinsdream at 7:56 AM on June 15, 2015 [4 favorites]


what may be "thoughtful angles to ponder" from a distance for you doesn't track with how personal it is to a lot of people

As a Hispanic woman who can pass to some people as white and who constantly has to choose how I publicly racially identify, I promise, this is everything BUT impersonal or from a distance.
posted by corb at 8:00 AM on June 15, 2015 [15 favorites]


I'm torn, because I think the "trans" angle is a massive, Internet-wide derail that spiked a story that could otherwise be discussed in a less awful way. I wouldn't mind a discussion of this that was just like "NOPE" on trans* comparisons – even to the point of not using the word. But I guess at this point there's really nasty stuff about "trans" that doesn't belong in the dialog as well as thoughtless shit about race, so I guess that the deletion winds up standing. I'm not happy about it but I understand.
posted by graymouser at 8:04 AM on June 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


> Does this really happen though?

Yes.

What's almost worse, though, is when there's maybe just one person who wants to have the 101 learning right then and there and they get asked to read the links and then other people get all "why are you angry SJWs silencing people who just want to learn??!?!" and we end up with meTas like the #juneby[weneverdecidedonatag] one and the antisemitism one and so on.
posted by rtha at 8:04 AM on June 15, 2015 [16 favorites]


As a Hispanic woman who can pass to some people as white and who constantly has to choose how I publicly racially identify, I promise, this is everything BUT impersonal or from a distance.

The preceding sentence was supposed to read "Except that many or all of those angles aren't applicable to this case." And in this case, the pushback on your insistence on rehashing the story by relating it back to trans issues that are even less applicable both to the situation and your approach still stands.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:07 AM on June 15, 2015 [6 favorites]


corb, the second part of zombieflanders's sentence was especially with the 100% unnecessary comparisons to transgender identities., and as one cis white-passing POC to another I implore you not to ignore that.
posted by kagredon at 8:09 AM on June 15, 2015 [9 favorites]


There were some dumb things said in that thread but not out of intent, and some truly excellent thoughts are needed about this situation, especially by people of color and trans people.

There's a problem with numbers, here, though. How many trans folk do you think we have on the site? Not as a percentage, but as a raw number. Maybe 100? How many are awake at any given time and browsing the site and willing to step in yet again to provide 101-style education in the face of overwhelming criticism and tone-deafness?

It's simply unrealistic to expect that to happen, and not drive people away. In fact there were at least 2 comments that I saw where people left the "good" thread out of rage and exasperation. Imagine how many others there were who didn't even bother commenting but felt, yet again, here's where they aren't welcome.
posted by odinsdream at 8:12 AM on June 15, 2015 [18 favorites]


I thought the thread was gross and upsetting. [Transish white person here!]

1. I actually care about my participation in this site. I've met some neat people, I've had some interesting and moving experiences, I put a reasonable amount of time and thought into engaging here. This isn't just some "oh, I guess that conversation is kind of fucked up, but it's just some random blog that I clicked on" business. When it's gross here, it's gross at a place in which I have some investment. It feels personal in a way that "shitty comments on [blog somewhere]" do not.

2. I've had a whole host of both internet and personal dealings with TERFy people lately and this felt like just one more exhausting blow.

3. I feel some responsibility to the site - if someone is posting idiotic and ignorant things that I know are regularly used to attack trans women and black people, I feel the pull of obligation to deal with them. I don't always do it, but "just don't click on the thread" in this situation isn't the same as "just don't click on the thread about why people who like Olive Garden are gauche and provincial" or whatever.

4. The whole internet and several people in my personal life were talking about this in unbelievably ignorant "this is a logic problem!!!! blackness is like transness but for race, and transness is like blackness but for gender, so why can't we talk about them interchangeably!!!" ways all fucking weekend and I had an absolute shit weekend substantially as a result.

If folks want to discuss this in a thoughtful thread in a few weeks, and if some brave soul pulls a Juliet Banana and makes a really good "race and gender identity are not the same 101" header for the thread, I would be up for that.
posted by Frowner at 8:19 AM on June 15, 2015 [50 favorites]


4. The whole internet and several people in my personal life were talking about this in unbelievably ignorant "this is a logic problem!!!! blackness is like transness but for race, and transness is like blackness but for gender, so why can't we talk about them interchangeably!!!" ways all fucking weekend and I had an absolute shit weekend substantially as a result.

I think this bit is important to remember. It's great for those of you who were able to avoid all the nastiness already going around about the story. If my Facebook feed is anything to go by, a lot of trans and Black people were not able to avoid all that nastiness, which would indicate that a lot of non-allies were also getting exposed to a lot of hurtful misconceptions about a lot of aspects of the situation. A thread on a newsfilter story is not starting with a blank slate, and a thread about this particular story is likely already starting with a lot of hurt feelings and frustration.
posted by jaguar at 8:26 AM on June 15, 2015 [22 favorites]


Let me just say as someone from a multi-racial family, with adopted siblings from other countries, having grown up a third culture kid, and being trans - "transracial" as a term is awful. It may have its origins in interesting discussion about adoptee identities, but at this point it had become pure poison, and it's not like there aren't alternative terms we can use with regard to racial and ethnic identities and adoption.
posted by Dysk at 8:29 AM on June 15, 2015 [8 favorites]


The story had just broke. Rachel Dolezal had not offered any sort of public response. What existed in the media was the beginnings of a storm of tabloid-style garbage, and what existed elsewhere was it's-just-happened knee-jerk reactions, some of it whipped up by a delighted right wing, some of them racist, some of them transphobic, who were hitching their particular noxious hobby horse to a still-developing story.

We weren't have a good discussion about it -- in depth, informed, nuanced, specific. We were just participating in the noise machine, and it's all we could do at that moment, because it was all that existed.

This story will be better served when more details are known, when more considered voice have weighed in. It was a good deletion, especially since the conflation of Dolezal's behavior with the trans experience is essentially transphobic -- it's just one step removed from the "if gay people can marry, why can't I marry my dog?" nonsense that used to get kicked around.

I'm sorry that some people think this site is worse of for being sensitive about questions of race, sexual identity, and good discussion. But this has always been a better place because of its moderation, which has always rankled people who like the brutal, bullying free-for-all that is the rest of the web. This was good moderation and a good deletion.
posted by maxsparber at 8:30 AM on June 15, 2015 [48 favorites]


I saw that thread and noped out. I do my fair share of educating on racial topics on this site - probably way more than is good for me, actually - but if that's to happen, white cis people need to not totally poison the well from the very get-go by chucking out simultaneously transphobic and racist gotcha points. There are plenty of interesting conversations to be had about passing for white, colorism, and racial hierarchies. A FPP about a white woman pretending to be black is not one of them. Stop pretending we can skip ahead to the nuanced conversation when that FPP clearly demonstrates most posters are still stuck on "but wait trans people say gender is a social construct, PoC say race is a social construct, CHECKMATE SJWs."
posted by Conspire at 8:31 AM on June 15, 2015 [36 favorites]


the more I read this thread, the more I realize that what I personally needed was not for the any of the original FPPS to survive, but for this meta to happen. Thanks to all for contributing.
posted by philip-random at 8:32 AM on June 15, 2015 [7 favorites]


As someone who has spoken here before about their own personal appearance and racial issues when facing others, I have to say that I'm glad this topic hasn't become a thread-naught nightmare of moderation because it is a very, very complex thing that I have no interest in seeing devolve into some potentially, at the least, stuff that's a huge PITA to moderate for intent vs. content or vice versa or what have you.

Seriously, if it somehow became a media event that my family somehow wasn't 'Native American enough', not to mention if it impacted my family member's day to day activities (like my mom's amazing, skilled crafting stuff that is finally beginning to take off in a monetary/recognition sense), I would be so pissed, hurt, and angry. I see nothing but a fraught conversation here as the situation mimics that in frightening and potentially hurtful ways.
posted by RolandOfEld at 8:33 AM on June 15, 2015 [5 favorites]


Let's drop the trans derail in here too?

Actual, real transgender people are upset by this. Convincing somebody that they are wrong to be upset is classical trolling behavior, and something we should strive to avoid on MetaFilter.

I don't think that we should intimidate new users from participating in these discussions (sadly, everybody starts at 101), but I think that we've heard enough that we can drop this particular discussion?

A whole lot of *ACTUAL* POC and *ACTUAL* trans people have participated in these discussions to say "actually, there's not a whole lot in common, and can you please use a different adjective?"

Please respect these people. There's absolutely no cost for doing that. This is already a heated discussion, and we don't need to mix in another heated topic (which nobody close to the issue seems to think is relevant).
posted by schmod at 8:33 AM on June 15, 2015 [18 favorites]


> I understand the line of thinking behind "Why can't we just talk about X?" but it seems like the vast majority of the time, this is someone in a (usually relatively privileged) out-group wanting to talk about a (usually less privileged) in-group, and it's the in-group being discussed who are saying, "Please, let's not have this discussion, because we are tired of reading this shit everywhere." Sure, there may be a few in group people saying, by all means, let's have this discussion, but one person who is female or black or gay or trans doesn't automatically outweigh the twenty other people saying "Please god no not again."

Yup. As a cis white male, even though I think of myself as "progressive" I have all the baggage my cis white maledom brings along with it, and my first reactions to events are frequently full of the sort of cluelessness that gets smacked down on MeFi by those who suffer from it and are sick and tired of putting up with it. It's not vile and reprehensible to be clueless, it's perfectly natural... up until the point where you're exposed to clues, at which point you have two choices: to get a clue, or to get resentful and start griping about free speech and "what ever happened to the old MetaFilter, where we [privileged people] could say all that fun stuff [and didn't have to worry about what less privileged people thought about it]?" One of the things I'm most grateful to MeFi for is having educated me in areas of concern to people who suffer from sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and other forms of oppression so that I am now frequently able to catch my cluelessness before it escapes the barrier of my teeth (or keyboard).

As regards the post in question, at first I was glad it was there and was learning a certain amount from the discussion, but I soon realized how toxic it was getting, and I'm very glad it was deleted. The mods are learning from recent difficult discussions and are taking appropriate action, and I am grateful to them. And for all those who are taking the position "I don't care about the feelings of a few trans people, I want my sacred free-speech discussion," a quote from Dostoyevsky:
Imagine that you are creating a fabric of human destiny with the object of making men happy in the end, giving them peace and rest at last. Imagine that you are doing this but that it is essential and inevitable to torture to death only one tiny creature...in order to found that edifice on its unavenged tears. Would you consent to be the architect on those conditions? Tell me. Tell the truth.
posted by languagehat at 8:37 AM on June 15, 2015 [81 favorites]


"No, I wouldn't consent," said Alyosha softly.
posted by Xavier Xavier at 8:42 AM on June 15, 2015 [14 favorites]


We were just participating in the noise machine

This mirrors my feelings. There's pitifully little there there in the story as it stands. There will be a much better opportunity for discussion when it's not a bunch of internet pundits gesturing wildly at a thing that isn't very clear at the moment.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 8:44 AM on June 15, 2015 [38 favorites]


In three weeks I'll have been here 15 years, and I see deletions of this sort, and the cheerleading for them, as an utter abandonment of the founding principles of this site.

This position seems quite histrionic to me, especially in light of the fact that 15 years ago, this site was a much more unwelcoming place than it is now, for people whose voices are "cheering" on the recent improvements.

If you aren't finding this constructive, that's unfortunate.
posted by odinsdream at 8:53 AM on June 15, 2015 [14 favorites]


Regarding "it's not my job to educate you", much of the burden of education is often put on the shoulders of marginalized people despite the fact that they/we are often exhausted of doing that kind of work and we are less likely to be listened to because of preexisting prejudices. The context of this that I'm most used to is women not being listened to until a man echoes what we said, but this also happens intersectionally for other marginalized groups.

I'm usually willing to do this kind of work in real life when I'm talking to people who I know aren't just JAQing off, and I actually have been spending a lot of time working on my own projects that create 101 level education on a lot of social justice issues. But online, people have usually not earned the benefit of the doubt that they actually want to learn about this stuff, especially when a lot of their questions can be answered by easily found 101 level material that can be googled, and it is exhausting to have people demand, over and over again, that we repeat the work that the creators of that material have already done and that we've often already done repeatedly ourselves.

People asking questions about social justice issues really need to establish good faith and that they aren't just JAQing off. I'm hoping that the moderation policy discussions, especially about boyzone stuff, that we've had lately will lead to less of the bad experiences with people taking enormous shits in threads and maybe a general ability for people to trust that community members are acting in good faith, but that's a long way out.
posted by NoraReed at 8:56 AM on June 15, 2015 [33 favorites]


...a general ability for people to trust that community members are acting in good faith, but that's a long way out.

Allies can be helpful in that regard. It's easier for those of us who are not directly being targeted by viciousness online and offline to initially assume good faith until proven otherwise.
posted by zarq at 9:10 AM on June 15, 2015


I've also been here for 15 years and I'm one of those people who reads some old threads and thinks "thank god that sort of casual misogyny/everyday sexism is no longer tolerated here". For better or worse, the reduced tolerance for that sort of hostility is why I comment more now. It will be nice when other populations reach that "wow! 15 years ago this place was really hostile to me! thank god that sort of casual hate is no longer tolerated here." moment.
posted by crush-onastick at 9:14 AM on June 15, 2015 [16 favorites]


How people racially identify is not a settled question in real life - particularly people who are biracial or lighter skinned. And there are two components of racial identification - how people feel, and how they're identified by others.

Respectfully, I feel that bringing up this topic in this MetaTalk thread is essentially trying to talk about the subject in a round-about way. Because this is "breaking news", what little facts we do have indicate this is simply a situation of deceit and misrepresentation, not a case of someone truly wanting to explore racial identity, and therefore the "is transracial real?" thing really isn't based in anything except "I want to discuss this and it seems maybe-sorta-kinda related to this story," which is a really bad reason to discuss something with so much baggage.
posted by odinsdream at 9:19 AM on June 15, 2015 [7 favorites]


Literally go anywhere else on the internet if you want to engage in "debate" about the actual topic. It's not healthy here.

This is what's become of this place?
posted by amorphatist at 9:26 AM on June 15, 2015 [13 favorites]


I get that we don't want to do conversations we don't do well, but for hot-button topics, there's nowhere else I want to go to talk/read about them. Metafilter does it best! Even if "best" is a relative term.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:30 AM on June 15, 2015 [22 favorites]


it is essential and inevitable to torture to death only one tiny creature...in order to found that edifice on its unavenged tears. Would you consent to be the architect on those conditions? Tell me. Tell the truth.

If it was the mosquito in my tent two weeks ago, then I have to say, yes. Yes I would consent.

Also, tough call but acceptable deletion.
posted by Rumple at 9:36 AM on June 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


How many "this comment/thread should not have been deleted" MeTas over the years have ended with something other than a general agreement that "yeah, that comment/thread needed to be deleted?" It seems every time it comes up, when I read the deleted comment/thread, my reaction is almost always "oh hell, that is even worse than I thought" rather than "grave injustice has been done!!!!!" And the predictable chorus of "The Mods are Out of Control with All This Deleting!!!!" fails to convince me otherwise.

Comments and threads are not precious resources that must be preserved at all costs; not even my comments are so precious (and my comments are pretty precious; I spend minutes writing them) that their deletion is anything more than a momentary annoyance. Often, it's a blessing, because I was participating in a derail or had stepped over a line or just lost the plot for a moment*. No individual comment or thread is necessary for the future and health of MetaFilter, and, indeed judicious pruning of content is what makes MetaFilter a healthy site compared to the rest of the internet.

So pretty much any time you feel "this deletion was a gross miscarriage of justice," there is about a 99% chance that you are wrong and MetaFilter has been improved, not harmed, by that particular mod action.

* I've occasionally felt ill-done by a deletion, but, these days, I am way way more likely to flag my own stuff and send a note to the mods saying "can you axe this? I'm not helping things" than I am to protest a deletion.
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:42 AM on June 15, 2015 [13 favorites]


can anyone tell me what is gained from having this thread now instead of having it once we have a fuller picture of what happened (if that picture ever materializes)?
posted by nadawi at 9:45 AM on June 15, 2015 [5 favorites]


Literally go anywhere else on the internet if you want to engage in "debate" about the actual topic

That does strike me as an unfortunate way to put it - more like engage in debate about "the actual topic."
posted by atoxyl at 9:49 AM on June 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


can anyone tell me what is gained from having this thread now instead of having it once we have a fuller picture of what happened (if that picture ever materializes)?

More shouting and bad feelings based on less evidence and time for consideration of the facts and their implications?

More succinctly: not much.
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:50 AM on June 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


The internet totally sucks.
posted by phaedon at 9:53 AM on June 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


> That does strike me as an unfortunate way to put it - more like engage in debate about "the actual topic."

Well, no, because what is there to "debate"? That race and transgender issues are/are not just the same? That some people have opinions about things that they want to make sure "win" the "debate"?
posted by rtha at 9:53 AM on June 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


can anyone tell me what is gained from having this thread now instead of having it once we have a fuller picture of what happened (if that picture ever materializes)?

Well, my concern - because I was actually compiling links and thinking of posting in a week or so if no one else had - is that given the multiple deletes, no one will know when it will be time, and we won't have the conversation at all.
posted by corb at 9:53 AM on June 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


The actual topic being the racial implications of Kozlal's story (as discussed by people who actually know something about the history of race) and not the derail concocted to get the half-informed to say transphobic and racist things.
posted by atoxyl at 9:55 AM on June 15, 2015 [6 favorites]


How many "this comment/thread should not have been deleted" MeTas over the years have ended with something other than a general agreement that "yeah, that comment/thread needed to be deleted?

I don't think that's the general agreement here. 220 comments later, I still think it was a terrible deletion.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:55 AM on June 15, 2015 [10 favorites]


And it's more than fair to say there isn't enough information to have that conversation. But my whole point in shifting those quotes was to say what you said - that the "topic" that became the focus here isn't a real topic.
posted by atoxyl at 9:56 AM on June 15, 2015


I think my post was the first one on the subject and subequently deleted, not the second one that had 100+ comments.

I asked for some clarification as to what the difference was between the two posts but came to understand the reasoning that LB posted now, and I have no problems with it being deleted (especially seeing the comments quickly go downhill in the second post).

While I don't have any objections to the post being deleted for the reasons being stated now, my chief confusion was more that the reasons stated in the first deletion didn't really seem to mesh with that idea and also was done so quickly (within 5-10 minutes!) of the post that it didn't even have an opportunity for the discussion to grow. Granted it got toxic quick in the second post, but I'd like to see at least the opportunity be given.
posted by Karaage at 9:58 AM on June 15, 2015


It seems to me that whenever an FPP presents a topic that is guaranteed to be contentious, some kind of evaluation has to be made as to the balance between the mod-hours that must be devoted to keeping the thread civil and focused on the one hand versus the likelihood that the FPP will generate insightful, interesting and useful discussion on the other hand. This particular topic doesn't seem to balance these two competing groups of considerations very well.

Fundamentally this is just a person who did a thing for reasons that are difficult to untangle or understand right now, and a huge media spectacle and internet piling-on has grown out of it. Sure, there may be some interesting subjects packed in there somewhere, but there is far too much competing baggage standing in the way of having a very good discussion. Perhaps later on an insightful and interesting fact or article will appear that could help focus discussion on an aspect of this event in a way that would make the expenditure of mod-hours and likely affect on the community worthwhile. But absent the possibility of saying "this thread may discuss this and this but not that, that and that" -- which doesn't seem within the compass of Metafilter's culture and practices -- I don't see what would realistically be good about having an open thread around Rachel Dolezal right now. Just because a discussion could be interesting and valuable in a certain way doesn't mean it has any likelihood of actually being that way.
posted by slkinsey at 9:58 AM on June 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


Well, my concern - because I was actually compiling links and thinking of posting in a week or so if no one else had - is that given the multiple deletes, no one will know when it will be time, and we won't have the conversation at all.

the mods are very open to 1 on 1 discussion about when a post that has previously been a no-go is fleshed out to the point that it can stand. if this is something you feel needs to happen, once you feel like we have enough information to even have the discussion without it being based on 99% conjecture, get with them and see what they say. they aren't some faceless cabal behind a curtain who are unreachable for clarification.
posted by nadawi at 10:00 AM on June 15, 2015 [12 favorites]


I don't think that's the general agreement here. 220 comments later, I still think it was a terrible deletion.

If we're polling the room, allow me to say that I think this was a good deletion, for many of the reasons stated above.
posted by Lexica at 10:05 AM on June 15, 2015 [10 favorites]


Comments and threads are not precious resources that must be preserved at all costs; not even my comments are so precious (and my comments are pretty precious; I spend minutes writing them) that their deletion is anything more than a momentary annoyance. Often, it's a blessing, because I was participating in a derail or had stepped over a line or just lost the plot for a moment*. No individual comment or thread is necessary for the future and health of MetaFilter, and, indeed judicious pruning of content is what makes MetaFilter a healthy site compared to the rest of the internet.

And there's nothing wrong with questioning 'how much judicious pruning' is necessary, either.

My impression, and I think it's borne out by evidence, is that the mods have been deleting more threads before they accumulate comments than they used to. I've seen quite a few threads get deleted without a single comment lately. Not because they were spam, a self-link or "obviously" inappropriate for MeFi, but rather because the mods didn't think the thread would go well.

While that sort of deletion did happen in the past, I think it's happening more now. I've noticed, and it bothers me. The team used to give most threads a chance to survive and accumulate comments before deciding whether or not they should be deleted.

There are no doubt a variety of reasons for this, including new moderation standards, new mods providing new perspectives, tighter resources and less mod coverage, etc. As well as a stronger intolerance for threads that could potentially become a headache. And I've spoken against this apparent change in deletion standards before in MetaTalk, and no doubt will again. I think site quality drops when posts deemed "potentially" (but not actually) problematic and are deleted without being given the opportunity to do well.

So pretty much any time you feel "this deletion was a gross miscarriage of justice," there is about a 99% chance that you are wrong and MetaFilter has been improved, not harmed, by that particular mod action.

This is a pretty bold assertion. I disagree with you.

Post deletions teach those who post what the mods find acceptable. So that change has now affected what I choose to post here, and how often. In the last three years, my post output has fallen considerably. So have my post topics. Not because I think having my own posts deleted is a "miscarriage of justice." It's laughably not. But because I don't want to spend valuable time constructing a post only to see it summarily deleted because it "might" become a problem.

That said, I'm okay with the deletion that prompted this meta.
posted by zarq at 10:05 AM on June 15, 2015 [15 favorites]


can anyone tell me what is gained from having this thread now instead of having it once we have a fuller picture of what happened (if that picture ever materializes)?

1. A viable discussion about race rather than what the most of the internet has doing in terms of mixing up race and transphobia. I've seen a lot of that on Facebook and MeFi can definitely do better than that. Just nix the discussions about trans stuff and trans racial. It won't be an easy discussion, but at least it can be had, rather than repeatedly shot down.

2. It was pretty clear what happened from the start, there's not a lot mystery there, other than why she did it.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:06 AM on June 15, 2015 [8 favorites]


Well, my concern - because I was actually compiling links and thinking of posting in a week or so if no one else had - is that given the multiple deletes, no one will know when it will be time, and we won't have the conversation at all.
posted by corb at 11:53 AM on June 15 [+] [!]


First, it's already been stated that next week isn't probably far enough out.

Second, I would suggest you're a). not likely to be the one that has a post on this topic survive. b). would also suggest if you disagree with a). you need to reflect a bit.
posted by cjorgensen at 10:08 AM on June 15, 2015 [7 favorites]


And it's more than fair to say there isn't enough information to have that conversation. But my whole point in shifting those quotes was to say what you said - that the "topic" that became the focus here isn't a real topic.

I mean my point was that it's possible to believe MeFi is a place for having discussions that aren't necessarily 100% "safe" - unless there is significant interest in explicitly changing policy on that, which is fine with me if it's the way people want the site to go - and still think this particular pseudo-issue is pointless and toxic and that even the rest of the discussion is premature.
posted by atoxyl at 10:08 AM on June 15, 2015


people will complain when a thread is immediately deleted, people will complain when a thread is deleted after a conversation is tried. i honestly don't see a winning move for the mods besides relying on their discretion on a case by case basis.
posted by nadawi at 10:10 AM on June 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


It's not vile and reprehensible to be clueless, it's perfectly natural... up until the point where you're exposed to clues, at which point you have two choices: to get a clue, or to get resentful and start griping about free speech and "what ever happened to the old MetaFilter, where we [privileged people] could say all that fun stuff [and didn't have to worry about what less privileged people thought about it]?"

languagehat, with all respect, and I sincerely mean it because I love your contributions, this is a false dichotomy. Some, maybe many of us fall into that excluded middle.
posted by digitalprimate at 10:10 AM on June 15, 2015 [4 favorites]


...if this is something you feel needs to happen, once you feel like we have enough information to even have the discussion without it being based on 99% conjecture...

This, in my view, is one of the best justifications for the "wait until the topic has fleshed out" approach to making an FPP. Today it is entirely unclear that this is a discussion that "needs to happen" right now. At some future tomorrow that could change, of course. But more often than not, once the pressure of salacious media coverage and internet outrage over a current event subsides, there is not so much left to hang a good discussion around.
posted by slkinsey at 10:11 AM on June 15, 2015 [6 favorites]


1. A viable discussion about race rather than what the most of the internet has doing in terms of mixing up race and transphobia. I've seen a lot of that on Facebook and MeFi can definitely do better than that. Just nix the discussions about trans stuff and trans racial. It won't be an easy discussion, but at least it can be had, rather than repeatedly shot down.

Judging by the deleted thread, that would've been prohibitively mod-intensive. At least at the moment, the way the story is being talked about everywhere is thoroughly transphobic, and I don't think it's realistic to expect Mefi to be an oasis of sanity like that.
posted by Dysk at 10:30 AM on June 15, 2015 [7 favorites]


"I don't know where to find good content about [race, transracialism, transgender issues] etc"
"I don't understand how to use tumblr/twitter/etc"

Boy, if only there were a site on THIS SAME DOMAIN that you could ask people what to read and how to read it. I don't expect someone to give me a Physics 101 explanation in an astronomy thread. In fact, I don't go into astronomy (or math) threads because I only have the shallowest understanding of wtf they're talking about and I don't want to interrupt the flow of conversation. If I wanted to know, I'd post a question on this HYPOTHETICAL SITE ON THIS VERY SAME DOMAIN that apparently lot of people don't know about. In fact, I bet such questions have been asked before. I bet there is a search link somewhere on this very page! MAYBE EVEN TWO.
posted by desjardins at 10:40 AM on June 15, 2015 [31 favorites]


...but it's not as if the A people are out there demanding for their obvious wrongness to be remediated.


obligatory xkcd
posted by Jacqueline at 10:45 AM on June 15, 2015


There's a lot of really interesting history and cultural context on "passing" in the USA, and it runs far afield of white/black and black/white and ties into some profound cultural experiences, and I'd be thrilled to see it discussed with nuance and depth. It's got diddly bupkis to do with being transgender for reasons that are obvious if given just the barest smidge of thought or empathy. It's in the "Not Even Wrong" category of error. It's... it's... I'll just let Charles Babbage explain why the deletions are a good idea right now:
On two occasions I have been asked, — "Pray, Mr. Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?" ... I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question.
posted by Slap*Happy at 10:53 AM on June 15, 2015 [12 favorites]


I sort of want to "have the conversation here"--or, really, watch more eloquent and intelligent people than me have it here--but I don't think it's a great loss if we never do. Dolezal's story is really weird for sure, but there are plenty of other topics that could explore racial identity, growing up in a mixed race family/environment, racial/ethnic/cultural appropriation, colorism, etc. etc. with a lot more substance and a lot less sensationalism. The way this story has been largely coopted by bigots in order to push an (at best, unnecessary and confusing; at worst, greatly hurtful and harmful) conflation of race and trans identities, resulting in a transphobic and racist double whammy gotcha, makes it fraught with a lot of justified anger and hurt right out of the gate. It is going to be really difficult to avoid automatic and super hurtful derails in any general discussion about it until things settle down and people whose knowledge and experiences are actually relevant have had time to weigh in. Right now, there are some good essays and a tidal wave of tabloidy garbage tainted with a bunch of inchoate transphobia and racism. I would love to see the essays without the trash tsunami, but that would take some really intense mod/community curation.
posted by byanyothername at 11:03 AM on June 15, 2015 [8 favorites]


If I wanted to know, I'd post a question on this HYPOTHETICAL SITE ON THIS VERY SAME DOMAIN that apparently lot of people don't know about. In fact, I bet such questions have been asked before. I bet there is a search link somewhere on this very page! MAYBE EVEN TWO.

Is there a place around here that I could post a question about how to find this hypothetical question-asking sub-site?
posted by SpacemanStix at 11:06 AM on June 15, 2015 [5 favorites]


Is there a place around here that I could post a question about how to find this hypothetical question-asking sub-site?

You could Ask Me.
posted by zombieflanders at 11:08 AM on June 15, 2015 [4 favorites]


Sorry, I'm a little bit green on all of this, but I'll pick it up soon.
posted by SpacemanStix at 11:10 AM on June 15, 2015 [8 favorites]


> languagehat, with all respect, and I sincerely mean it because I love your contributions, this is a false dichotomy. Some, maybe many of us fall into that excluded middle.

With all respect, I'm not sure what you mean. Could you elaborate? I mean, "getting a clue" is not a high bar.
posted by languagehat at 11:16 AM on June 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


I don't expect someone to give me a Physics 101 explanation in an astronomy thread.

And yet, nearly every physics thread involves at least one comment that begins, "As a person who has had no experience in science aside from reading a page out of Discover magazine in my dentist's office in 2003, I would like to explain dark energy thusly..."
posted by mittens at 11:17 AM on June 15, 2015 [11 favorites]


And yet, nearly every physics thread involves at least one comment that begins, "As a person who has had no experience in science aside from reading a page out of Discover magazine in my dentist's office in 2003, I would like to explain dark energy thusly..."

To be fair though, those people usually shut up and don't argue when physicsmatt shows up.
posted by pseudonick at 11:30 AM on June 15, 2015 [15 favorites]


The way this story has been largely coopted by bigots in order to push an (at best, unnecessary and confusing; at worst, greatly hurtful and harmful) conflation of race and trans identities, resulting in a transphobic and racist double whammy gotcha, makes it fraught with a lot of justified anger and hurt right out of the gate.

I would like to reiterate this point strongly. The #wrongskin hashtag and other transracial derails are literally the work of a very small group of hateful bigots on the chan boards. It's completely a game to them, of seeing if they can get a trending hashtag and control the message of "traditional" media, which will predictably fall for it because they have no fucking clue how Twitter works, and the mere concept of some losers spending hours gaming the system doesn't even seem plausible to them.
posted by odinsdream at 11:30 AM on June 15, 2015 [22 favorites]


Manufactured is the word I was looking for. It's a manufactured derail, carefully planned and executed for the lols.
posted by odinsdream at 11:32 AM on June 15, 2015 [15 favorites]


I was kind of in the "yeah, but..." camp, but LobsterMitten's response off the top, and a lot of the discussion here, has brought me roundly around to the "good deletion" camp.

I'm a doofy cis white guy and I can indulge in chin-scratching doofy cis-white "but I don't get it" conversations with the best of them, but I guess my key takeaway here is that my curiosity about these issues doesn't need to be satisfied this very minute.

As somebody with no stakes in play here, if I'm actively hurting somebody just to indulge my doofy cis-white wonderings about, well, anything, really, I'm being a jerk. If somebody is experiencing active harm, their needs far outweigh my 100% passive desire to learn about things that don't really have a direct impact on my tremendously comfortable life.
posted by Shepherd at 11:32 AM on June 15, 2015 [46 favorites]


I don't expect someone to give me a Physics 101 explanation in an astronomy thread. In fact, I don't go into astronomy (or math) threads because I only have the shallowest understanding of wtf they're talking about and I don't want to interrupt the flow of conversation.

People expect to have a learning curve with mathematical or scientific concepts. They don't necessarily have the same expectations regarding comparing their own lived experiences to other peoples'. Personally, I think they should. But I suspect folks who probably wouldn't think twice about stupidly weighing in minority issues (racial, gender-related, identity-related, religious, etc) that don't directly apply to them, are probably a lot more wary of proclaiming their own ignorance in math/science threads. Or they seem more likely to back off and not argue when someone who is obviously more knowledgeable than they are weighs in.
posted by zarq at 11:32 AM on June 15, 2015 [4 favorites]


MetaFilter: shut up and don't argue when physicsmatt shows up.
posted by Jacqueline at 11:34 AM on June 15, 2015 [15 favorites]


People expect to have a learning curve with mathematical or scientific concepts [...]

Also, the dynamic in those types of threads is entirely different. They're often fun topics, and even when they aren't, they're topics that a subset of people really enjoy explaining. They are also generally not topics that are linked with people's identity and the way they get treated in the world. At least, I don't think anyone is going to say they identify as a right triangle and are getting really tired of requests to explain Pythagoras 101.
posted by FishBike at 12:19 PM on June 15, 2015 [10 favorites]


I get that we don't want to do conversations we don't do well, but for hot-button topics, there's nowhere else I want to go to talk/read about them. Metafilter does it best! Even if "best" is a relative term.

Yes, but this is a story that currently has very little substance.

The people who "know better" are going to keep quiet and refrain from participating in the thread, which reduces the pool of participants for the discussion down to the clueless few who have drawn their own conclusions before they RTFA.

In this case, I see the deletion as an indicator that MetaFilter has higher standards than the general press. The story isn't ready for public consumption, and we're going to hurt a lot of people if we legitimize it by printing it.

Nobody would have been hurt if The Guardian spent another week tracking down sources for this story, and I'm pretty upset that they didn't. The toxicity of the discussion was a strong indicator that the framing of the story was fundamentally flawed, and I'm glad that we pulled the plug on it.
posted by schmod at 12:37 PM on June 15, 2015 [10 favorites]


And yet, nearly every physics thread involves at least one comment that begins, [etc]

Scientists are not discriminated against en masse for their identity as scientists (at least not in western countries). They might roll their eyes at basic questions, but they face no constant, pervasive threat to their identity. When people ask questions in science threads, they're not usually questioning the underlying assumptions. I'm sure there's the rare creationist on mefi, but people don't usually argue with the answers they're given. And I can't speak for physicsmatt, but in my experience, a lot of science geeks like explaining things.
posted by desjardins at 12:43 PM on June 15, 2015 [13 favorites]


They don't necessarily have the same expectations regarding comparing their own lived experiences to other peoples'

I was a child, let me tell you about parenting.
I was a student, let me tell you about teaching.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 12:49 PM on June 15, 2015 [6 favorites]


And yet, nearly every physics thread involves at least one comment that begins, "As a person who has had no experience in science aside from reading a page out of Discover magazine in my dentist's office in 2003, I would like to explain dark energy thusly..."

I was a child, let me tell you about parenting.
I was a student, let me tell you about teaching.


Yes, those are also stupid deraily rhetorical things people do. I do not understand how that is supposed to justify people doing stupid deraily rhetorical shit about race and LGBT issues.
posted by kagredon at 1:04 PM on June 15, 2015 [6 favorites]


And I can't speak for physicsmatt, but in my experience, a lot of science geeks like explaining things.

Yeah, and this point is a big reason why I hate it when we veer into Analogyland instead of just talking about the subject. We end up arguing the example, looking for rhetorical footholds that do not exist in the subject that is being represented by the analogy. "But what about physics" completely misses the point of what exactly some people feel is tedious and deraily about Education 101 moments when it comes to race, gender, class, or other areas where oppression runs rampant.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 1:05 PM on June 15, 2015 [13 favorites]


When people ask questions in science threads, they're not usually questioning the underlying assumptions.

It happens. In most threads where there's a significant activism component, GMO, environmental contamination, "organic" food labels, vaccines.

The answer for me is that there is absolutely no requirement for anyone to post on Metafilter, ever. It's frustrating to see work I know a lot about posted and mocked for political rather than science reasons, but no one ever has to respond here. I don't think it helps a great deal to get into those kind of fights either. I did a few times and nothing ever came of it except heartache and frustration.
posted by bonehead at 1:06 PM on June 15, 2015 [5 favorites]


superficially-maybe-reasonable-sounding abstract questions

I'd just like to push back against this notion, which I've encountered a few times, that arguments about the social construction of race and gender are somehow "abstract" intellectual indulgences to all but a small subsection of site users. The disputes between some transgender activists and some feminists, for example, are not disputes between some people talking about something they really care about, on the one hand, and some other people who don't really care and are just spitballing, on the other.

Who knows whether these things can be discussed civilly on Metafilter or not, but I don't think you can reasonably apply a standard of "let's delete things that upset the people who really care, because the other people don't really care". It's a too-easy way to not have to consider one set of arguments.
posted by oliverburkeman at 1:16 PM on June 15, 2015 [30 favorites]


tmotat: I was a child, let me tell you about parenting.
I was a student, let me tell you about teaching.


Yes. Those are opinions informed by lived experiences.
posted by zarq at 1:19 PM on June 15, 2015 [8 favorites]


Who knows whether these things can be discussed civilly on Metafilter or not, but I don't think you can reasonably apply a standard of "let's delete things that upset the people who really care, because the other people don't really care". It's a too-easy way to not have to consider one set of arguments.

yeah but when there are a bunch of people on one hand who are saying "I have skin in the game, and this was hurtful and here's why" and a bunch of people on the other who are saying "oooh, but it's so hard for me to google some articles about this", maybe there is actually some truth to that dichotomy in this specific case?
posted by kagredon at 1:21 PM on June 15, 2015 [18 favorites]


languagehat: With all respect, I'm not sure what you mean. Could you elaborate? I mean, "getting a clue" is not a high bar.

Fair point, and within the confines of Metafilter (which I suppose is the domain of MeTa) quite true.

What I meant was that, there is a difference between having "A clue" [emphasis added] and attempting to be clued in in general. The latter does not imply "silenced all my life/OMG censorship" which appeared to be the stark distinction you were making.

But consider that, "getting a clue" is indeed a relatively "high bar" for people with little exposure or experience to smaller communities outside their frame of reference. I think there is a sincere difference between people show no willingness to get a clue and those who have A clue who want to engage with others to get more clues.

And I think this thread has shown that this is where the discussion polarizes, and breaks down.
posted by digitalprimate at 1:26 PM on June 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


I don't want to try to speak for languagehat (ever), but I think the problem often is that those who want to "get a clue" too often don't just stand back in listen but feel the only way to engage is to offer an opinion or playing devil's advocate despite having previously had little exposure to the topic. Often this ends up being done with consideration to the real impact that might have on the community of people to whom they are trying to learn.

I do things like this all the time, and for some topics it probably doesn't matter. But in others, I can see (especially looking over not-as-recent past contributions) where I might have come off as boorish or insensitive to real problems affecting real people.

Because this is often really hard for people to gauge as individuals, when very specific topics tend to trigger moments like this for people, I think it's a good idea for mods to consider them 'hot topics' or 'things Metafilter doesn't do well' or whatever you want to call that.

For those reasons, and I say this as someone who was commenting passionately more-than-my-average in one of the Dolezal threads before it was deleted, I think this example was a good deletion. The topic itself is interesting in the abstract. The biggest problem (as I said in that thread) is that Dolezal didn't seem to deserve her passionate defense. The more we learn, the more right this seems. "Breaking news" plus "an already complex topic" can almost always only equal a good conversation given time. Unfortunately, we can imagine the good conversation so there will probably be instanaces like this one when we can get to 100+ comments and then the mods have to realize "yeah, this thing, this time...not so much"; I'd actually prefer that world to one where we have to just ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ when the train has already started going down a really shitty track.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:55 PM on June 15, 2015 [6 favorites]



I'd just like to push back against this notion, which I've encountered a few times, that arguments about the social construction of race and gender are somehow "abstract" intellectual indulgences to all but a small subsection of site users. The disputes between some transgender activists and some feminists, for example, are not disputes between some people talking about something they really care about, on the one hand, and some other people who don't really care and are just spitballing, on the other.


There is a world of difference between a trans person saying "I experience discrimination and have difficulty accessing care; this was my experience with how I decided to transition; these are things that could materially help me live in the world" and a TERFy feminist saying "I am angered by trans people claiming that they want to be another gender because gender is just an artifact of the patriarchy". One can care very deeply about an abstraction. The issue is whether such "caring" is the kind of caring that we want in this space given that it is caring by a non-marginalized group about the decisions and actions of a marginalized group.
posted by Frowner at 2:09 PM on June 15, 2015 [30 favorites]


The disputes between some transgender activists and some feminists, for example, are not disputes between some people talking about something they really care about, on the one hand, and some other people who don't really care and are just spitballing, on the other.

Alarm bells. Alarm bells.
posted by Dysk at 2:12 PM on June 15, 2015 [22 favorites]


But consider that, "getting a clue" is indeed a relatively "high bar" for people with little exposure or experience to smaller communities outside their frame of reference.

It's really not that a high a bar - many people hurdle it every day.

If you have little exposure or experience to a "smaller" community outside of your frame of reference then maybe you should do some sherlocking first.

In other words: if you are venturing into unknown territory, does it not make sense that you would seek out what resources you can find as to the language, culture, landscape, etc, of the territory you are exploring?

It makes sense if you want to explore with respect and empathy.
posted by jammy at 2:15 PM on June 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


I think the problem often is that those who want to "get a clue" too often don't just stand back in listen but feel the only way to engage is to offer an opinion or playing devil's advocate despite having previously had little exposure to the topic.

Yeah, it seems like "I'm not your teacher" gets deployed most often in response to "this is my opinion" thinly disguised as questions.
posted by Gygesringtone at 2:17 PM on June 15, 2015 [11 favorites]


I'd just like to push back against this notion, which I've encountered a few times, that arguments about the social construction of race and gender are somehow "abstract" intellectual indulgences to all but a small subsection of site users. The disputes between some transgender activists and some feminists, for example, are not disputes between some people talking about something they really care about, on the one hand, and some other people who don't really care and are just spitballing, on the other.

The thing is, some people can be just spitballing - "la la, one thing sounds sort of like another, so I will reason by analogy just for the sheer puzzle factor".

Other people can care deeply about and reason about someone else's lived experience while disparaging and overriding what those people have to say about their own experience - sort of an "early 20th century anthropologist" approach. I feel like we as a site have pretty much decided that this is not okay when it's punching down; to be done with caution and frequently frustrating even when it's punching up; and best reserved for things of the "those people drink really hoppy beer, they are barbaric" end of the spectrum.
posted by Frowner at 2:17 PM on June 15, 2015 [13 favorites]


Just to be clear, my point was not about people caring deeply about or reasoning about other people's lived experience (this could clearly be done in an informed or ignorant, compassionate or bigoted way – and absolutely, ignorant/bigoted is bad) but about their own.

But this is surely the problem with any argument that turns on disagreement between social constructionist and biological/essentialist positions: whether or not a topic is legitimately any of your personal business or not, and whether a given comparison is offensive or not, will be dependent on which of those positions you take.
posted by oliverburkeman at 2:29 PM on June 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


It sure looks like you're inserting a "this is an interesting intellectual topic, let me spitball some thoughts I'm having" into a conversation that's in part about how one person's "interesting intellectual topic" is another person's "I have to deal with this crap all day every day".
posted by Gygesringtone at 2:46 PM on June 15, 2015 [12 favorites]


I really think we need to differentiate between issues of race/gender/sexual orientation and pretty much everything else. If someone says something ignorant about your favorite sports team or even your political party, then that's annoying, but it's never going to be comparable to the micro and macro aggressions related to these kind of core identity issues.*

There are a couple key differences that I see. First, gender and race affect all of our interactions with the world. Whether or not they should, they very much do. They're also relatively (although not always completely) fixed. They're not the kind of thing that you can cast on and cast off at will. This is with you in your public and private life, all day, every day. And of course, there's also the issue of privilege, which a lot of people have spoken about much more articulately than I could.

I really don't want to speak for anyone else here, so I'm going to talk about my experience: I'm a a cis-woman. I'm also Jewish (though not really an observant Jew). However I'm white and look pretty WASP-y and have a common American last name, so no one would know I'm Jewish unless I told them. I'm fortunate enough that I don't generally encounter anti-semitism in my day-to-day life. However, the fact that I'm a woman follows me everywhere. And I mean everywhere. It followed me into an inpatient psych ward where this guy asking me on a date and trying to get my number or give me his number. We're literally trapped in the same small space, I'm not allowed to have shoelaces, and this guy is pestering me for a date. Or there was the time I was in an outpatient program, and I had a married man 20 years older than me who kept escalating his 'flirtation' until one day he tried to follow me home. And on a day to day basis, like the other day when I was wearing shorts because it was hot as fuck but of course then I'm getting random comments from men on the street.

I have a lot of things I feel strongly about. My political views, my fandoms of choice, and a whole bunch of other random stuff. On any given day, I might be happy to engage on those topics with someone who is either pretty ignorant on the topic or contrarian, but if I'm not in the mood, then I'll just leave it. And when I'm out running errands, the fact that I'm a total Sherlock fangirl doesn't affect anything. But the fact that I'm a woman does.

I just think we need to keep in mind that when we're dealing with race/gender/sexual orientation, we shouldn't automatically approach those discussions in the same way we would if we were talking about science or pop culture or whatever. Because when you're talking about race/gender/sexual orientation, you're pretty much always going to be talking about someone's personal, daily, lived experience. And we really need to make sure we respect that, and I'm okay with holding discussions that touch on those issues to a much higher bar.

*Is there a better collective word for this? Seems like there should be.
posted by litera scripta manet at 2:48 PM on June 15, 2015 [34 favorites]


A while back I was part of a group of Mefites who got together to sing. One of them was rtha.

She's a lovely person with an excellent singing voice, and I've always respected her contributions to MetaFilter.

She's also a check on my conscience. Because it's really simple to ask myself, if I'm about to write something (or say something, or think something): is what I'm about to write (say, think) a thing that will cause pain to this person I know?.

There aren't many things I can think of, that I need to say, that would justify making rtha's day worse.

And it's not much of a step from there to realizing that everyone on MetaFilter is just as real as rtha. Even though I may not have met them in person.

Is what I'm about to write or say or think going to materially make a real person's day worse? That's what it comes down to for me. Sure, it's simplistic, and trite, and so forth. But it sure as hell works to keep me from treating peoples' lives as an abstraction.
posted by scrump at 2:55 PM on June 15, 2015 [25 favorites]


But this is surely the problem with any argument that turns on disagreement between social constructionist and biological/essentialist positions: whether or not a topic is legitimately any of your personal business or not, and whether a given comparison is offensive or not, will be dependent on which of those positions you take.

Nope. Whether or not a topic is your business and whether it's offensive largely depends on whether you have any actual skin in the game. If you don't know what you're talking about, you're privileging your alleged thinking over the actual lived experience of other people.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 2:55 PM on June 15, 2015 [13 favorites]


I don't want to try to speak for languagehat (ever), but I think the problem often is that those who want to "get a clue" too often don't just stand back in listen

The tricky part here is to neither comment in some tactless or ignorant way, nor to ask a question that can all be too easily read as "sealioning" . This does leave just listening and hoping to learn, but perhaps not actually hearing the answers to the unspoken questions, which clearly some people find frustrating. Anyway, I try pretty hard just to listen on these tricky topics, which on MeFi can be remarkably educational, but it is definitely not my right to be educated by people nor is it my right to have these threads stand.

And I don't ever want to speak for languagehat either: my brain is too small, as is my dictionary.
posted by Rumple at 3:03 PM on June 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


Oh, also:

>Yeah, but in this case, I think the underprivileged in-group in question is the group that wants to be discussing it. There are a lot of implications for the black community and also other communities of color, particularly ones that suffer from erasure and a shortage of scholarships and leadership opportunities,

This is a fair point, and I should have been clearer in my first comment. I was talking about a broader trend, and in doing so, I elided some of the the particulars of this scenario, where there's the intersection of race and trans issues.

One of the reasons I cited the Juneby MeTas is that it seemed like one big hurdle to making the Dolezal discussion okay was the way trans issues were getting pulled in when they had no actual bearing on the topic at hand. It's a tough thing to negotiate, since I don't see it as a matter of favoring trans issues over racial issues (or vice versa), but the trans stuff just did not belong in there at all. And sure, you can say, well just don't read it, but I could totally see someone who is trans going into that thread to discuss the article and race and all of that, and then they get walloped with this other toxic crap about transracial being the same thing as transgender, and to me that's one of the main things that made the thread fundamentally unworkable, especially since that's combined with the other contentious issues that are brought up about what race is and means and racial appropriation and all of that.

Anyway, I apologize for not making this clearer in my first comment. I didn't mean to ignore the mefites who are persons of color that very much did want to have a discussion on this topic. I do hope that a discussion can be had about racial appropriation and racial identity at some point in the near future without the transracial derail.

I totally wrote this comment much earlier in the day, but I had a million windows open, and just realized I forgot to post it.
posted by litera scripta manet at 3:07 PM on June 15, 2015


oliverburkeman: "But this is surely the problem with any argument that turns on disagreement between social constructionist and biological/essentialist positions: whether or not a topic is legitimately any of your personal business or not, and whether a given comparison is offensive or not, will be dependent on which of those positions you take."

The only people that get to choose what position they take are white, male and cisgender. Everyone else gets their position chosen for them, often without their consent.
posted by scrump at 3:16 PM on June 15, 2015 [22 favorites]


I've seen a lot of threads on racial and trans issues where someone came in, asked a question that maybe indicated they were in a relatively privileged or less-knowledgeable position on the issue at hand, had it answered and the thread rolled along smoothly. The main factors in this seem to be:

(a) not asking a question that had been addressed by the FPP links or earlier in the thread (and, ideally, not one that had been addressed in another very recent thread); in general showing an awareness of what had been in the links and the earlier discussion.
(b) acknowledging they were coming from a privileged or less-educated position
(c) showing awareness that they are asking a question about something that is personal to other thread participants

I do not see this as a high bar for asking questions. The behavior that people complain about in Meta re: JAQing off and etc. mainly seems to comprise the opposite of these points:

(a) Asking a question that was addressed recently, or recurrently asking variants on the same question in the same thread ("But what if...") or across many threads.
(b) Ignoring or denying that they lack lived experience with the issue at hand or treating it as unimportant
(c) devaluing the lived experience of other users, speaking as though issues are hypothetical, not respecting the time and effort that other users expend on responding to them.
posted by kagredon at 3:21 PM on June 15, 2015 [33 favorites]


Anyway, I try pretty hard just to listen on these tricky topics, which on MeFi can be remarkably educational, but it is definitely not my right to be educated by people nor is it my right to have these threads stand.

The best thing I ever learned to do here (with varying degrees of success) was to try and listen much more than I speak. I think a really good practice for those who are just compelled to write, "yeah, but what if..." comments is to hold on to that feeling for awhile and listen to people telling their stories. Take it in for awhile. The world isn't going to collapse if you don't point out a perceived logical or social irregularity. Sometimes those kinds of questions can be discussed, but more essential to that is treating people as people (or more specifically, as you would want for yourself for your more sensitive lived experiences), knowing them before you draw conclusions in an abstract way.

Squelching the urge to respond quickly is a really good virtue to develop, by the way (and I'm trying to get better at it), and practicing what some mystics and religious people have referred to as a "discipline of silence." What you find is that not always needing to defend an idea or even yourself at the possible expense of Great Justice does not make your world fall apart. It also calms us down a bit and allows us to observe more as we collect information rather than correcting it, which is a great epistemic virtue that contributes better to collective learning.

The benefit to this that is often not anticipated is that listening before speaking also engenders trust in a community, and trust is fundamental to being heard for those times when it's really, really important to press a point. People before ideas, basically. Tend to the first before you tend to the second, although there's something of a symbiotic relationship that exists between the two. But one is definitely the cart that comes after the horse, not before.*

*people are not horses
posted by SpacemanStix at 3:21 PM on June 15, 2015 [12 favorites]


There were some terribly douchey comments and one commenter who especially would not give it a break in that deleted thread (rangi). If the mods lack the resource/inclination to aggressively police that level of noise, I don't blame them, at all, and I kinda get a vibe some people think this is a judgment on metafilter or mefites as a whole, as if the mods are saying "you, personally, are incapable of having this discussion in a good way" - but I don't think that's the case at all.

You only need a few bad apples to really shit up a thread, and they do ruin it for everyone else. The counter to this is that mods need to be more aggressive with shutting those people/arguments down. I personally as a "pro-censorship" (ha) mefite feel that as a generality, the mods have in fact stepped it up in this respect - but I don't expect them to do it in every case. This was one such case where for a variety o excellently articulated reasons, they chose not to pursue it, cie la vie. They might leave the next thread up with the on-point and vigilant modding it needs.

I'm reluctant to read any trends into this except to recognise that after several gigantic metas, the mods are being conscientious and more deliberate about topics with potential to hurt - and I applaud them for it, and I think we all benefit, if not from this topic, from many of the others they bring this scrutiny to. Thanks, guys.
posted by smoke at 3:34 PM on June 15, 2015 [20 favorites]


The main factors in this seem to be:

The other factor that I see a lot in good interactions of this sort are people then, after having their questions answering, saying thanks and being quiet for a while afterwards. Too often we see people using someone responding to their question as a jumping off point for "Okay I have started a debate, now here is my response to your response..." and while it can be an understandable impetus, to keep that particular conversation going since it's interesting and maybe (being charitable) you are learning things, it's not great dynamics in these sorts of threads.

This is, to my read, where the threads that may be touchy to begin with turn into messy ungood threads. Many people are forgiven for asking a one-off possibly unintentionally ignorant question if they do that and then stand back and let the original discussion continue. Many people are (rightly imo) taken to task for letting their possibly unintentionally ignorant question become an entire derail about what they want to talk about.

I've gotten better, on MeFi, about just being okay with being sometimes (to my mind) misunderstood or living with someone else (sometimes lots of someone elses) just disagreeing with my well-intentioned (though surely sometimes also unintentionally ignorant) comments. I know sometimes it seems like it's going to be more useful for you personally to have your questions about a topic get directly addressed by the entire thread. However it's rarely useful for the thread and I think this is a worthwhile distinction, that the two things can sometimes be different.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 4:07 PM on June 15, 2015 [42 favorites]


But this is surely the problem with any argument that turns on disagreement between social constructionist and biological/essentialist positions

Be clear that the 'debate' that you referenced above does not necessarily hinge on that disagreement.
posted by Dysk at 4:09 PM on June 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


It's pretty reasonable to expect people to have a basic level of understanding about a subject before discussing it, no?

but what it is clearly intended to mean is 'go away and come back when you agree with me'
posted by Sebmojo at 4:16 PM on June 15, 2015 [19 favorites]


Related to what kagredon said: my default mode for responding to questions on subjects I have a personal stake in as per my lived experience is to respond initially assuming good faith, because sometimes in my own defensiveness I can completely misread someone and end up causing an escalating derail. I'll cop to that. BUT. There are some recurring characters in these kinds of threads who seem to delight in taking some contrarian stance in a very aggressive manner, who willfully ignore thoughtful responses or cherry pick phrases from them out of context and engage in a really tedious and patrician scolding of all us totally unreasonable moral police who should, nay, NEED to be kept honest by the power of the contrarian's rhetoric of righteous criticism. They suck all the fucking oxygen out of a discussion and sap the will to engage at all, let alone to say "holy shit will you get off it already", and then they complain that hey, how am I supposed to learn if you won't teach me?

These people know exactly what they are doing. It's "winning" the argument by wearing everyone else down and killing the thread. It may not break guidelines per se, but if anyone is still wondering why no one wants to do the 101 Dance again and how unfair that is, look no further than the suffocating gas left behind by these crusaders.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 4:16 PM on June 15, 2015 [17 favorites]


but what it is clearly intended to mean is 'go away and come back when you agree with me'

Have you considered using your ability to read minds over the Internet to get the answers to questions you want to ask?
posted by kagredon at 4:21 PM on June 15, 2015 [36 favorites]


I do not see this as a high bar for asking questions.

It's not. And if I can throw in my two cents, if you ask a respectful question and get a long, insightful, thoughtful, philosophical answer in return, one that goes into a lot of foundational principles and background and history, don't respond in a way that dismisses or ignores all that thought and work that someone did for you at your request and only focuses on some shallow or surface issue, or even just re-asks the very same question that someone just was so careful to answer for you. If you disagree with the foundational principles, if you have a different understanding of the background or history, then sure, go there with it, although I'd argue that has a high potential to derail and should probably be taken to memail sooner rather than later. But don't just wave all that aside and ask your same question over again. It's rude.
posted by KathrynT at 4:27 PM on June 15, 2015 [19 favorites]


Sebmojo: "It's pretty reasonable to expect people to have a basic level of understanding about a subject before discussing it, no?

but what it is clearly intended to mean is 'go away and come back when you agree with me'
"

I have to ask: do you genuinely believe this? Even after reading the thoughtful responses in this thread, and even after being a part of MetaFilter?

Because it sure reads like a pre-formed one-liner based on a caricature of a strawman. It doesn't come off as contributing to the conversation, and it doesn't come off as a particularly insightful read of MetaFilter.

So I have to wonder what your purpose is in dropping this into the conversation. And I figured it would be charitable to give you a chance to explain, rather than just make an assumption about what you meant.
posted by scrump at 4:35 PM on June 15, 2015 [10 favorites]


Whether or not a topic is your business and whether it's offensive largely depends on whether you have any actual skin in the game.

Oh god, but a fucking majority of us do have skin in these games. If you are a woman, you have skin in feminist theory, whether you agree or not. If you are a POC, you have skin in the game of critical race theory, whether you agree or not. Between the two of those, that's a majority of Mefites.

I'm just really frustrated with this idea that anytime academic language gets broken out that it's all just 'theory', as though theory were some nebulous far-off thing that never affected people in the real world. The reason we have theories is because we are suffering and want to know why it is happening and how we can fucking stop it.
posted by corb at 4:43 PM on June 15, 2015 [11 favorites]


I came into this thread disappointed that the topic couldn't be discussed at MetaFilter, but now feel pretty opposite after reading how the discourse in the deleted thread(s?) made a lot of trans Mefites feel. Personally, I don't actively consume any social media on a regular basis, so the "transracial" derail was not on my radar as something that would even be a thing, much less be remotely germane to what I initially thought was an interesting question of racial identity.

You know, after writing this, I'm actually feeling somewhat re-disappointed about our inability to respectfully discuss this story, because the trans aspect here is 100% a bigotry/culture-war thing, and has no inherent thematic relation whatsoever to the events in question.
posted by threeants at 4:48 PM on June 15, 2015 [10 favorites]


I'm reluctant to read any trends into this except to recognise that after several gigantic metas, the mods are being conscientious and more deliberate about topics with potential to hurt - and I applaud them for it, and I think we all benefit, if not from this topic, from many of the others they bring this scrutiny to. Thanks, guys.

I'm kind of hoping LobsterMitten's comment at the top of this thread is a watershed moment. I can't think of another circumstance where we've had the mods actually make a stand and say "Your desire for a what feels like a nice abstract discussion of a hypothetical does not outweigh the burden it puts on others for whom it is not so hypothetical."
posted by hoyland at 4:52 PM on June 15, 2015 [36 favorites]


because the trans aspect here is 100% a bigotry/culture-war thing, and has no inherent thematic relation whatsoever to the events in question.

So at the risk of getting flamed I think the whole Dolezal situation opens up a lot of questions about essential/assigned identity versus self identity which is, at least I think, a pretty major issue for transgender people. Maybe the point where self-constructed identity crosses over with appropriation is obvious to you, it's not totally obvious to me.

That said, I don't think the comparison is infinitely interesting and for all the people that said they thought it was a bad comparison I'm willing to respect their opinions. And god only knows I'm not going to tell black people what their opinions should be on the matter. I get my opinion and that's more than enough.

But Metafilter don't have to host every possible discussion and while I wish this could have worked, if it didn't, it didn't.
posted by GuyZero at 4:57 PM on June 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


I know it's interesting but again, we are really, really not going to discuss the nature of gender identity here.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 4:59 PM on June 15, 2015 [13 favorites]


Which is fine.
posted by GuyZero at 5:03 PM on June 15, 2015


I'm kind of hoping LobsterMitten's comment at the top of this thread is a watershed moment.

Yeah, I perked up at that, too. It was a clear and concise identification of one of the most noxious elements of internet discussion.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:05 PM on June 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


Did I really just badly repeat what LobsterMitten wrote at the very top of the thread?

Huh.

Well, there it is. My only defence is that it's been a long thread. Sorry about that.
posted by GuyZero at 5:09 PM on June 15, 2015


(Not at all, you're fine; I'm glad we agree!)
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 5:22 PM on June 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


Dostoyevsky had a knack for fucking up omnipotence.

Fair deletions. I was concerned the posts stayed up for awhile but a mistake acknowledged goes along way.
posted by clavdivs at 5:23 PM on June 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


but what it is clearly intended to mean is 'go away and come back when you agree with me'

Yes. And on social justice issues, on equality issues, I--and I'm guessing, a wide swath of the userbase--am entirely comfortable saying exactly that thing. We don't need to hear more fucking bigotry.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 5:39 PM on June 15, 2015 [15 favorites]


That just pushed the discussion up a level as we see from time to time. Instead of arguing about whether or not bigotry is acceptable (since the consensus is now that it is not) you get arguments about what constitutes bigotry and what constitutes legitimate disagreement. And it takes discussion to hash out which is which.
posted by Justinian at 5:58 PM on June 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


(I didn't see any of the Dolezal threads before they were axed so they may well have been full of clear bigotry, I have no idea.)
posted by Justinian at 6:01 PM on June 15, 2015


I'm okay with that hashing being here on the Grey rather than over there on the Blue, though.
posted by Etrigan at 6:02 PM on June 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


This is, to my read, where the threads that may be touchy to begin with turn into messy ungood threads. Many people are forgiven for asking a one-off possibly unintentionally ignorant question if they do that and then stand back and let the original discussion continue. Many people are (rightly imo) taken to task for letting their possibly unintentionally ignorant question become an entire derail about what they want to talk about.

The other problem is that someone posts a not-super-great question, and then 20 people respond. Now the thread is, at least temporarily, about that question.

It's not always just that person coming back for more, it's that the question or presumption takes such a stinky dump on the thread that everyone feels they need to call it out.
posted by emptythought at 6:13 PM on June 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


Corb, I've actually commented in the past about the way the "it's not abstract for some of us" line sometimes comes out like "oh this is just fun and games to you" when it seems to me that people are discussing important stuff and trying to balance out their positions on intersecting issues. I know "not a safe space" doesn't mean "you can say whatever the hell you want" but sometimes when I see that response it does feel like a request for a de facto safe space - which I am fine with really but which I would prefer to be written policy. But that's because I believe "unsafe" discussions (and the no-skin-in-the-game perspective in fact) are of practical value in some situations. I don't really find this to be one of those situations, not least because trans equality and racial equality are not conflicting goals.
posted by atoxyl at 6:16 PM on June 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


"It's not always just that person coming back for more, it's that the question or presumption takes such a stinky dump on the thread that everyone feels they need to call it out."

This made reading most of these posts worth it.
T
posted by Andrew Thewes at 7:09 PM on June 15, 2015


One comment deleted. We're not going to discuss Dolezal or what the media are saying about her in here.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 7:48 PM on June 15, 2015


Are you kidding? I didn't discuss what the media was saying, I just said CNN was doing a piece. I can open up another Meta over that deletion if you'd like. But that's an absolutely absurd deletion.
posted by Justinian at 7:52 PM on June 15, 2015 [4 favorites]


This is Meta, the standards for deletion have been long hashed out. You shouldn't be unilaterally changing them.
posted by Justinian at 7:53 PM on June 15, 2015 [6 favorites]


It's not relevant to the site issues we're discussing here. I've been consistently stating through this whole thread: don't bring discussion of Dolezal herself, or the idea of "transracialism", in here, that's not what this thread is about.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 7:55 PM on June 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


That's not what has been the standard for deletions in Metatalk for 15 years. Are you saying that the new standard is you unilaterally declaring what topics are and are not allowed to be discussed and deleting anything you consider even slightly off topic?

That's never been the standard and such a change would seem to me to be something that needs to be hashed on, yes, here on Metatalk.
posted by Justinian at 7:57 PM on June 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


MetaTalk is for discussing site issues. It's been a longstanding thing that mods sometimes need to say "look, don't argue I/P in here, this is not the place for that." This is a case like that.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 7:59 PM on June 15, 2015 [16 favorites]


And virtually never deleted anything, up to and including inane comments about RECIPES which have no bearing on the subject. The only thing that ever gets deleted in Metatalk are blatant personal attacks. You're plain wrong here.
posted by Justinian at 8:01 PM on June 15, 2015 [5 favorites]


To put it another way, you've apparently unilaterally decided to start applying the moderation standards of the Blue to the Gray and I don't think you should be able to do that, certainly not without any sort of discussion.
posted by Justinian at 8:02 PM on June 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


I feel like what she said was clear and this has been a topic that's been a giant mess. It's a meta-discussion not a discussion about Dolezal.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 8:04 PM on June 15, 2015 [22 favorites]


Deletions above and beyond for just "fuck you no fuck you!" Have been happening at least a couple of years now and I don't think it's a bad thing. I don't think mods should be required to tell multiple people multiple times that we are not discussing the subject of the deleted post here just because multiple people don't read the comments.

Why'd you post that link, anyway? We're not fricking discussing it! So why? So what if CNN is talking about it? And if they are they are not exactly obscure: people will find out elsewhere that CNN did a blather on it.
posted by rtha at 8:07 PM on June 15, 2015 [6 favorites]


I didn't post a link. "The news is talking about this right now" with the implication that therefore it is the type of post which should be able to stand is a meta-discussion.
posted by Justinian at 8:08 PM on June 15, 2015 [8 favorites]


I thought that for at least the past few months there has been a trend towards increased pruning in Metatalk for various reasons. And hell, I don't think recipes have really been okay here for a while now, have they? I thought those had started going away even before the mod staff cutbacks last year.

Acting like this is a case of LobsterMitten going rogue seems kind of ridiculous.
posted by DingoMutt at 8:10 PM on June 15, 2015 [15 favorites]


Well, that would apparently need to be a whole different Metatalk. I do think the moderation is this particular thread has been well beyond what we generally see and, yeah, I think that's a problem.
posted by Justinian at 8:11 PM on June 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


I cannot even begin to count the number of times the mods have told people that a post in the grey about a deleted item is for talking about the deletion decision and policy, not talking about the content of what was deleted -- that is, that it is absolutely not to be used as a proxy for discussing the topic as if it were a post on the blue. That CNN is writing about the topic is not relevant to whether it should or should not have been deleted.

If you've been here 15 years and don't know that, you haven't been paying attention.
posted by tocts at 8:12 PM on June 15, 2015 [23 favorites]


I was one of the people who commented in the second thread.

I was in the middle of a follow-up comment when the thread was deleted, which would have clearly explained why the qualifiers for Black identities are vastly different and otherwise incomparable to that of other marginalized communities. It seemed necessary. It should not have been.

And I also saw how hurtful my response to the whole "but what if she feels trapped in a white body?" line of reasoning and transracialism could have read to trans* people who had no clue why their matters of identity were being dragged into a conversation about Black communities and this woman. If you switch out a few race-specific words, it looks just like a TERF screed. I'm incredibly sorry for that.
posted by Ashen at 8:13 PM on June 15, 2015 [17 favorites]


> "The news is talking about this right now" with the implication that therefore it is the type of post which should be able to stand is a meta-discussion.

Why? We are not talking about that. We are talking about the policy of handling threads like these, not whether someone else is talking about them - who cares?

(Also? We haven't had recipes in meTas for a good five years, at least not in contentious/policy-discussion meTas.)
posted by rtha at 8:16 PM on June 15, 2015 [11 favorites]


It's been less than that but they've certainly been getting pushback for five years. But "recipes" was just a placeholder for "things tangentially related to the topic of the thread" which are common.
posted by Justinian at 8:19 PM on June 15, 2015


"The news is talking about this right now" with the implication that therefore it is the type of post which should be able to stand is a meta-discussion.

Last I checked, "CNN is talking about this" is not the standard that we use to determine whether an FPP should stand or not. It's a matter of "Is this content worthy of an FPP?" and "Is this a discussion we can have without it turning into a clusterfuck?"

These FPPs may or may not have satisfied the first part, but as demonstrated by the second deleted Dolezal FPP, they definitely failed the "not a clusterfuck" standard.
posted by litera scripta manet at 8:22 PM on June 15, 2015 [5 favorites]


I think it's a fine deletion, but a not-great deletion reason; saying 'perhaps when more information comes out' would have been maybe a bit more appropriate, and along with letting things calm down and there being more information, the transgender derail can be cut off whenever it rears its ugly head.

That being said, I would generally like more information from those who express their dislike; too often nowadays commenters will just say how terrible a thread is or that they noped out or that it's as bad as reddit, but if you don't see it they're not there to educate you and that's your privilege blinding you to how horrible these discussions are. The lack of specificity creates a wall of 'because I said so' which is uninformative, unwelcoming, and grounds threads like this in opinion rather than example.

They also tend to drown out, in the sense that negative comments are 'louder' than positive comments, those few times when users are specific, do provide examples, do point and explain. The tendency to immediately dismiss questioners as sealioning or disingenuous (and the implied addition that they are therefore deserving of contempt) makes the site have more general deterrents than actually needed.
posted by gadge emeritus at 8:24 PM on June 15, 2015 [12 favorites]


This MeTa is happening in the context of several recent Blue and Grey threads that actively hurt trans members of the site to the point that several people left because they were unsafe here. It's happening in the context of a national conversation about what it means to be trans that is bringing every bigot and her cousin out of the woodwork to opine loudly.It's happening in the context of a national conversation about the devaluation of Black life, and a corresponding rise in documentation of anti-Black violence by white police agencies at the behest of white power structures. Given the context, it should not surprise anyone that this MeTa is very personal and sensitive to a couple of minority populations in the MetaFilter community, and that moderation is going to be pretty stringent.
posted by gingerest at 8:34 PM on June 15, 2015 [34 favorites]


> That being said, I would generally like more information from those who express their dislike

A lot of people here have discussed this in pretty decent detail. Is there something beyond this that you would like? Can you be specific about what, exactly?
posted by rtha at 8:35 PM on June 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


We are not talking about that. We are talking about the policy of handling threads like these, not whether someone else is talking about them - who cares?

Yes, this. Like right off the bat, the point was made a couple times very early in the thread that this is not the place for discussing the subject of the FPP by proxy, but to discuss the moderation of said FPP. Which is the bog standard basis for what MeTa is for, so to my mind it seems pretty consistent MeTa moderatening.

They also tend to drown out, in the sense that negative comments are 'louder' than positive comments, those few times when users are specific, do provide examples, do point and explain.

My experience is that the shouty, scolding "prove me wrong" contrarians are the ones who tend to drown out any reasonable or thoughtful responses, as they either deliberately ignore them, mischaracterize them, or cherry pick phrases out of context to piggyback some quixotic point they're trying to make. I don't think there's a dearth of information, here or really anywhere else on the internet, that can shed light on particular positions for the truly curious.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 8:36 PM on June 15, 2015 [12 favorites]


The inability of this site to actually discuss an issue with these considerations is emblematic of why this site is a hollow shell of its former self. This is a discussion board for very fragile people now. What a waste.
posted by Mayor Curley at 8:44 PM on June 15, 2015 [20 favorites]


It's pretty easy to talk about how fragile people are when you're not in a position of being under siege.
posted by gingerest at 8:46 PM on June 15, 2015 [35 favorites]


It is kind of odd that we can't discuss the topic in MetaFilter OR in MetaTalk, but it is being discussed on every national news program tonight, and no doubt in every newsweekly magazine next week.
posted by yhbc at 8:47 PM on June 15, 2015 [13 favorites]


Oh, spare me. I can read the archives just like you, just like anyone else. A lot of those discussions back in the "good" old days were shitty and terrible and preemptively chased off a lot of voices that are here now and speak now. You all were not some bunch of iconoclastic freedom-truth-speakers with no echo chamber. It was just saying shitty stuff and not getting called out for it.
posted by rtha at 8:48 PM on June 15, 2015 [63 favorites]


(That was to Mayor Curley, btw. Slow internet tonight.)
posted by rtha at 8:49 PM on June 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


A lot of people here have discussed this in pretty decent detail.

No, a lot of people have said it was a shitshow and terrible. Few have gone into why and how. Those few are much appreciated, but also get very easily lost in the long line of commenters simply expressing their distaste. Even a link to a comment that says what they agree with would help, rather than just a wall of nope.

Everyone here misreads, or skims, or won't fully take in everything they're reading at once at least some of the time. And it's been well-established by now, especially by the mods, how negative voices are more heavily weighed than positive ones. Pointing out a particular comment, or just a few words to say say more, can differentiate for the site the difference between 'this is bad because I said so' and 'this is bad because I saw this example, which is bad' - not even a whole explanation, just more than 'it was terrible, you're all terrible' - would help.

This isn't directed to any one issue, just one approach to the site. 'This is bad' is essentially meaningless when coming from a random other user. Adding a because allows very important context.
posted by gadge emeritus at 8:51 PM on June 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


I'm a doofy cis white guy and I can indulge in chin-scratching doofy cis-white "but I don't get it" conversations with the best of them ...
[33 favorites +] [!]


so much about Mefi is contained in these words
posted by jayder at 8:52 PM on June 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


It was just saying shitty stuff and not getting called out for it.

Nah, it was actual discussion. People actually dissented without their comment or the whole goddamn thread getting deleted to prevent the squeakiest wheels from suffering the indignity of being contradicted.
posted by Mayor Curley at 8:56 PM on June 15, 2015 [16 favorites]


The inability of this site to actually discuss an issue with these considerations is emblematic of why this site is a hollow shell of its former self. This is a discussion board for very fragile people now. What a waste.

You are literally saying that the framing of these discussions must be left up to the people that these discussions aren't even about, because the people these discussions are about are too 'fragile' to handle it.

I don't even know where to begin with how and why that's completely not okay.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:57 PM on June 15, 2015 [22 favorites]


Jaydar, I'm not sure of your intention in quoting only the first half of that comment, but I think the second half is fairly important, and you not quoting it is somewhat baffling.

The full sentence was:
I'm a doofy cis white guy and I can indulge in chin-scratching doofy cis-white "but I don't get it" conversations with the best of them, but I guess my key takeaway here is that my curiosity about these issues doesn't need to be satisfied this very minute.
posted by dotgirl at 8:58 PM on June 15, 2015 [13 favorites]


> to prevent the squeakiest wheels from suffering the indignity of being contradicted.

This is how you talk about people who are right here? Why the fuck would anyone want to "discuss" something with you? Bleh. This is tiresome bullshit.

And... are you not squeaky right now? You sound pretty whiny and sour-grapes to me, is what. Can't stand it, stay out of it.
posted by rtha at 8:59 PM on June 15, 2015 [57 favorites]


A lot of those discussions back in the "good" old days were shitty and terrible and preemptively chased off a lot of voices that are here now and speak now.

one fourcheesemac or devymetal (to name just two great members chased off by the growing harsh/shrill/bully/shutin culture of this site) is worth ten, no, a hundred of the current Mefi's mascot members.
posted by jayder at 8:59 PM on June 15, 2015 [6 favorites]


It's preferable to be chasing off women and/or trans people and/or QUILTBAG people and/or people of colour by making them/us feel uncomfortable and unsafe, is it?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:01 PM on June 15, 2015 [11 favorites]


It's funny how these tiresome complaints about the current "echo chamber" of *~tender sensibilities~* harken back to the good old days when the most societally marginalized were shouted down and made to feel unwelcome, leaving nothing but a space for the majority. Almost as if it were some kind of contained space, wherein voices reverberate off the walls. Wish there was a name for that.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 9:01 PM on June 15, 2015 [35 favorites]


It is kind of odd that we can't discuss the topic in MetaFilter OR in MetaTalk, but it is being discussed on every national news program tonight, and no doubt in every newsweekly magazine next week.

Yeah, in a wistful way I agree, I'd like for these tough topics to go better here. But on the flip side, we have discussions that those giant national outlets can't have, because we're a different kind of space. We try to maintain some kind of community baseline of knowing each other and being considerate of members who say (en masse and over time) that something is seriously offensive to them. Yes, it means the site culture has changed some.

Mayor Curley and jayder, if you want to have a real discussion that's fine but don't come in here just to be insulting and stir the pot.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 9:03 PM on June 15, 2015 [7 favorites]


Nah, it was actual discussion

Nah. It was shitty. The fact that you like shitty discussion doesn't change a searchable archive of "I'd hit it," silencing tactics, bullying potshots, and women and others noping out every other month.

Sorry. We have to share this site now, and that involves a higher standard of behavior than was tolerated before.
posted by maxsparber at 9:03 PM on June 15, 2015 [29 favorites]


It's pretty easy to talk about how fragile people are when you're not in a position of being under siege.

How are you under siege here? You're not in any physical danger. What you're saying is that you shouldn't have to see opinions that you think are stupid, mean, naive or contradictory. Well, that's not how knowledge grows or opinions get changed.

What you really want a site that features commiseration about how everyone unlike you is a Philistine. Congrats! You got it!
posted by Mayor Curley at 9:04 PM on June 15, 2015 [17 favorites]


squeakiest wheels from suffering the indignity of being contradicted.

This isn't about the fragile squeaky wheels not wanting to be contradicted. This is about people, actual, real live metafilter members, who are forced to deal with this stuff everywhere they go, and they rightfully are asking that metafilter not be another hostile place where the louder privileged voices among us are allowed to dominate conversations.

Metafilter is at its best when it's a place where we take it as a given that bigotry and sexism and racism are fundamentally not okay. That should be the baseline we're starting from. We should do whatever is necessary to protect that baseline. I'm okay with a few privileged voices not getting to throw in their shitty contrarian opinions so that we can make sure that this is a safe space for all members.
posted by litera scripta manet at 9:06 PM on June 15, 2015 [23 favorites]


No, what we're saying is that we shouldn't have to put up with bigotry.

You are digging yourself into a really, really deep hole here.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:06 PM on June 15, 2015 [15 favorites]


(not you, lsm)
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:07 PM on June 15, 2015 [1 favorite]




I'm an overeducated middle-aged affluent cis white woman. I'm not under siege. I'm sympathetic to those who are, and I know about their difficulties because mostly I shut up and listen.
posted by gingerest at 9:08 PM on June 15, 2015 [4 favorites]


Mayor Curley and jayder, if you want to have a real discussion that's fine but don't come in here just to be insulting and stir the pot.

I came in to say what I said because I believe it is applicable to the topic at hand. That is all. I am expressing my dissatisfaction publicly and that's all. It was acceptable at one point.
posted by Mayor Curley at 9:08 PM on June 15, 2015 [14 favorites]


It's not relevant to the site issues we're discussing here.

Yes, it is. Much of this discussion has been about how and whether some of these components can or should be part of a MetaFilter thread on the subject. It's relevant that CNN, or the NYTimes or any other major outlet, is discussing those components. If you want to distinguish MetaFilter from that, cool, there's plenty of grounds to make that argument; major-media coverage certainly isn't a dispositive factor. But saying it's not relevant is absurd.

This is some disingenuous moderation all around. One thread was deleted because "there's little to actually discuss here," notwithstanding the past week's countless thoughtful and contradictory op-eds addressing myriad different angles. Be honest: you don't want to discuss X or Y or Z—so you're either going to have a tightly restricted discussion of the topic where X and Y and Z are banned, or else you're not going to allow discussion at all because X or Y or Z would inevitably be brought up since everyone from Camile Gear Rich to Whoopi Goldberg are discussing them.

That's fine. It's your site. But I don't think it's defensible to host a thread about prohibiting X or Y or Z and then to insist that pointing out those aspects' play in the wider media is "not relevant." If you want to say it's not dispositive, then sure, that's fair. Deleting it as irrelevant isn't. If that's your tack, then just issue the edict and close the thread. It'd be more honest.
posted by cribcage at 9:12 PM on June 15, 2015 [17 favorites]


> What you're saying is that you shouldn't have to see opinions that you think are stupid, mean, naive or contradictory.

*I'm* saying I'm tired of hearing stupid, mean, and repeatedly naive and contradictory opinions passed off as some kind of speaking truth to power, man! and are somehow important. Or new. I'm sorry if some or all of that transphobic and racist bullshit and "yeah but what if...??" in that thread was stuff you'd never heard before but boy oh boy that's not the case for me or a whole lot of other people here.
posted by rtha at 9:13 PM on June 15, 2015 [46 favorites]


Yeah, people who overall pine for the lost golden age of Metafilter tend to wedge that into every MeTa because hey, MeTa is about site policy, ergo my gripe repeated for the jillionth time is totally relevant.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 9:13 PM on June 15, 2015 [22 favorites]


Everybody knows it's been all over the media, cribcage, and nobody has disputed that. That's neither here nor there in terms of the reasoning for the deletions, which has to do with how a thread would go here on this site. CNN does a lot of things we don't do here, it's a different kind of entity altogether.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 9:15 PM on June 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


And I'm saying there is so much noise of bigoted and willfully ignorant commentary in the world that I appreciate the amplification of voices that aren't that.
posted by gingerest at 9:17 PM on June 15, 2015 [9 favorites]


For its faults, this is still a pretty good space and I like just about everybody here, but button-pushy bullhorn whinging about people expressing their valid discomfort over discomforting things, or whinging about not being able to discuss the deleted threads' content by proxy, are not adding anything at all here. Everybody just go to bed, good lord.
posted by byanyothername at 9:18 PM on June 15, 2015 [4 favorites]


(That was an addendum/response to rtha's comment, not a response to LM)
posted by gingerest at 9:18 PM on June 15, 2015


words of wisdom from the FAQ of the only good subreddit:

Q: This sub used to be good but it's bad now. I don't have a question, I just wanted to put that out there.

A: Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. This also applies to moderately enjoyable moments on the internet.

posted by NoraReed at 9:19 PM on June 15, 2015 [30 favorites]


Metafilter: on the flip side, we have discussions that those giant national outlets can't have, because we're a different kind of space.

Yeah, that's true.
posted by Drinky Die at 9:25 PM on June 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


Nah, it was actual discussion. People actually dissented without their comment or the whole goddamn thread getting deleted to prevent the squeakiest wheels from suffering the indignity of being contradicted.

I don't know how you can read the archives and believe this, unless you think freedom to spew a bunch of sexist or racist bullshit is integral to good discussion. I read through a very old front page post about Monica Lewinsky after she gave that TED talk. It was posted in, I don't know, 2003? 2004? And this "actual discussion" consisted of people calling her a slutty bimbo. If that's "actual discussion" then I'll take my imaginary discussion, thanks.
posted by schroedinger at 9:39 PM on June 15, 2015 [33 favorites]


MetaFilter has changed. And thank fucking God.

At one time it privileged the ability of members to speak ignorance, sexism, misogyny and so forth over the requirement that other members put up with those things.

Now, slowly, MetaFilter is turning into a place where you don't get to just say any damn fool thing you want without pushback.

I know which one I prefer, for damn sure. Because an awful lot of the Good Old Days was garbage, and the signal-to-noise ratio here is a hell of a lot better now than it used to be.
posted by scrump at 9:42 PM on June 15, 2015 [28 favorites]


I would like to speak up as someone who is very interested in a lot of the issues surrounding Rachel Dolezal but also very disappointed and upset by the discussion in the long deleted thread. When Joakim Ziegler repeatedly compared African-Americans to TERFs for not accepting Dolezal as black I personally saw red. There was no pushback against that statement and the comment received several favorites. It wasn't the only one like it in the thread, but that one particularly bothered me because it specifically called out the "reaction" of black people to this situation, and it's in that wonderful and multifaceted reaction that I've personally seen the greatest discourse. It took all of the great conversations and pieces about Dolezal spearheaded by black writers and commentators and reduced them to mean-spirited ignorant bigotry. It felt like I was being gaslit.

There actually are a lot of interesting discussions and insights around the web with regard to this subject, but these discussions usually center the perspectives of African-Americans. Yet in two FPPs about a white woman masquerading as a black woman, there was not a single included piece written by a black woman. Really, how could a Dolezal post entitled "When Life Imitates Art" be a reference to Tootsie and not Soul Man? I have found that it is very hard to make white people focus on the opinions and experiences of black people, so when the framing of an FPP does not help then it's pretty hopeless.
posted by Danila at 9:44 PM on June 15, 2015 [37 favorites]


Actually, I should say I don't know the racial identity of every writer on those articles, but the articles themselves are very little about the black experience or perspective and are just generally scandal-oriented news pieces.
posted by Danila at 9:47 PM on June 15, 2015


How are we seriously having this discussion? I mean, we have just had several long meta conversations about how we want to value our women and LGBTQ members enough not to drive them off the site by having hurtful "discussions" at their expense. These were all in the last 90 days. And here we are again having to establish that certain kinds of conversations drive people of the site? What is happening.
posted by stoneweaver at 9:48 PM on June 15, 2015 [9 favorites]


I think Potomac Avenue's post, which was the most recent one, centered around a link by a black writer.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 9:50 PM on June 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


Mayor Curley: "The inability of this site to actually discuss an issue with these considerations is emblematic of why this site is a hollow shell of its former self. This is a discussion board for very fragile people now. What a waste."

These fragile people, I'm assuming they're the ones who live under a constant onslaught in their daily lives of sexual harassment, racist power structures, rampant discrimination, and then still get up the next day and do it again?

In MetaFilter's case, usually after patiently spending day after day doing Education 101 on their lived experiences, experiences which are invisible to the vast majority of MetaFilter users?

When I see them, I see a lot of things, but fragile isn't one of them.

Your behavior, on the other hand, evokes an impression in me...I'm sure there's a word for it, if I just think long enough.
posted by scrump at 9:51 PM on June 15, 2015 [23 favorites]


Sorry LobsterMitten, I didn't see that one, just the first two, including the longer one that some people are saying they wanted to keep.
posted by Danila at 9:53 PM on June 15, 2015


Yeah, no reason you would have seen it before now.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 9:55 PM on June 15, 2015


I also want to chime in that I think it's too soon for a solid discussion about this on MeFi. Every day the situation deepens and changes. Some of the things revealed on Monday changed the conversation for a lot of people but wouldn't have even fit in a discussion primarily focused on the "transracial" red herring. It's not one of the "newsfilter" topics that can do well with up-to-the-minute discussion because in a lot of ways its too frivolous (the news of the weird aspect).

I definitely would like to discuss it here eventually, in a well-framed FPP when the story is finished the telling. I think there is a lot of interesting stuff on the web about this that would fit in here and even more to come, it's not strictly news of the weird. Way more interesting than Dolezal herself is the reaction to the situation and how it happened in the first place. But I really applaud the decision and especially LobsterMitten's first comment/explanation.
posted by Danila at 10:04 PM on June 15, 2015 [16 favorites]


Oh, spare me. I can read the archives just like you, just like anyone else. A lot of those discussions back in the "good" old days were shitty and terrible and preemptively chased off a lot of voices that are here now and speak now. You all were not some bunch of iconoclastic freedom-truth-speakers with no echo chamber. It was just saying shitty stuff and not getting called out for it.

I'd argue the site used to be an echo chamber, if we're going to talk about echo chambers. In that sense that if you didn't agree with the loud prolific dude posters, then it was basically "oh piss off and quit riding that so hard".

It was an echo chamber of being an asshole to women, and to some extent minorities.

I think a fairly strong argument could be made that this site was an echo chamber in the "i'd hit that" days.
posted by emptythought at 10:36 PM on June 15, 2015 [22 favorites]


...or scrump already said what i wrote better
posted by emptythought at 10:37 PM on June 15, 2015


Manufactured is the word I was looking for. It's a manufactured derail, carefully planned and executed for the lols.

It has reminded me quite a bit of the pushbacks against feminism I see on Imgur: "A 'feminist' said this careless or foolish thing, therefore (contempt for women's rights)". It's a very provocative way to express contempt towards people and one that's obnoxious to argue against for people that don't hate women/poc/etc.
posted by sebastienbailard at 10:41 PM on June 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


Man, Major Curley, for someone whining about "fragility," you sure do seem to be super easily hurt about the idea that voices other than yours might be welcome in the discussion.
posted by KathrynT at 10:46 PM on June 15, 2015 [40 favorites]


Just to be super clear, what you are saying is that the site you would prefer to exist is one where people get to be unrepentant bigots. At some point, the rest of us decided that this is not a place for bigotry. That seems pretty civilized.
posted by stoneweaver at 10:48 PM on June 15, 2015 [17 favorites]


you sure do seem to be super easily hurt about the idea that voices other than yours might be welcome in the discussion

I don't necessarily agree with Mayor Curley's position, but this seems to be exactly the opposite of what he was trying to say. It seems to me that his position is that the greater the diversity of opinions and comments the better.

what you are saying is that the site you would prefer to exist is one where people get to be unrepentant bigots

Yes, because bigotry is solely a characteristic of republicans and any who dare challenge the consensus opinion here on metafilter, amirite?

I am really conflicted about this. On principle I agree with the delete and seeming policy shift, but for some reason I feel like we are losing something by implementing it. I guess, ultimately, what I would argue is that for this topic it was a good delete, but moving forward we should be very careful about how the mods apply this new approach.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 10:58 PM on June 15, 2015 [14 favorites]


Just to be super clear, what you are saying is that the site you would prefer to exist is one where people get to be unrepentant bigots. At some point, the rest of us decided that this is not a place for bigotry. That seems pretty civilized.

That is such a ridiculous mischaracterization that you actually personify the thing that needs to be opposed.

posted by amorphatist at 10:59 PM on June 15, 2015 [10 favorites]


"needs"
posted by NoraReed at 11:02 PM on June 15, 2015 [16 favorites]


One deleted; dial it back folks and don't get into namecalling.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 11:03 PM on June 15, 2015


Yes, because bigotry is solely a characteristic of republicans and any who dare challenge the consensus opinion here on metafilter, amirite?

Insert Ainsley's "you don't like people who do like guns" speech here...
posted by Jacqueline at 11:09 PM on June 15, 2015


Who the fuck said anything about Republicans?
posted by en forme de poire at 11:24 PM on June 15, 2015 [12 favorites]


Mayor Curley: "The inability of this site to actually discuss an issue with these considerations is emblematic of why this site is a hollow shell of its former self. This is a discussion board for very fragile people now. What a waste."

This is such nonsense. First best rule of Metafilter: if anybody starts telling you how it was once upon a time, they're probably telling a fable that is dear to them as a simple way of explaining a complicated reality.

"I came in to say what I said because I believe it is applicable to the topic at hand. That is all. I am expressing my dissatisfaction publicly and that's all. It was acceptable at one point."

Ha. Yeah, back then we'd just all have told you that you were an utter idiot, and that you were full of shit, and that any reasonably intelligent person should know better. Halcyon days, right? Now you've just got a nice person asking you in a nice way not to get shirty. What a loss to free discourse everywhere!
posted by koeselitz at 11:34 PM on June 15, 2015 [19 favorites]


I have to ask: do you genuinely believe this? Even after reading the thoughtful responses in this thread, and even after being a part of MetaFilter?

Because it sure reads like a pre-formed one-liner based on a caricature of a strawman. It doesn't come off as contributing to the conversation, and it doesn't come off as a particularly insightful read of MetaFilter.

So I have to wonder what your purpose is in dropping this into the conversation. And I figured it would be charitable to give you a chance to explain, rather than just make an assumption about what you meant.


Well, I --

Yes. And on social justice issues, on equality issues, I--and I'm guessing, a wide swath of the userbase--am entirely comfortable saying exactly that thing. We don't need to hear more fucking bigotry.

Hm.

Snarky quoting aside (and I'm not picking out FFFM, I could have quoted at least half a dozen other people that would have supported my point just as well), yes. I think that's exactly what it means. "This isn't a topic on which it's permissible, for social reasons, to disagree so go away and don't come back if you're going to argue about it". It's not a far-fetched reading.

I'm not grumpy about it, though I'm a bit sad that we're deleting MeTa posts now.
posted by Sebmojo at 11:38 PM on June 15, 2015 [9 favorites]


Who the fuck said anything about Republicans?

I did. Specifically, in the context of people who hold non-consensus viewpoints being labeled as "bigots." Surely you've read political threads around here and are aware of what exactly our opinions are supposed to be about republicans.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 11:42 PM on June 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


Also -

Mayor Curley: "What you really want a site that features commiseration about how everyone unlike you is a Philistine. Congrats! You got it!"

"Commiseration about how everyone unlike you is a Philistine" is such a perfect description of Metafilter from day one that I'm pretty sure it was one of the taglines featured in the header here circa 2003.
posted by koeselitz at 11:44 PM on June 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


It's almost as though there's a gambit afoot attempting to egg mods into closing/deleting this MeTa thread because we're proving not able to have it civilly.

Just. (w)ow.
posted by progosk at 11:47 PM on June 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


Look, guys. If we had infinite moderation resources then I sincerely believe that we could discuss anything here in a manner that was both productive and respectful.

If we had infinite moderation resources, comments could be subjected to a prescreening process similar to peer reviewed journals in which the mods could send back problematic comments with extensive notes and a request to "revise and resubmit." If we had infinite moderation resources, the mods could call up the authors of problematic comments and have long discussions in which they tutored them one-on-one in all the basic 101-level stuff and made sure that every commenter in a thread had at least the same minimum level of understanding before commenting on a topic. If we had infinite moderation resources, the mods could also call up people who were personally hurt by insensitive comments and talk them down before they escalate the thread into a flame war.

But we don't have infinite moderation resources. We actually have less moderation resources now than we did a few years ago. We can only afford to pay for a finite number of mods to cover a finite number of hours and thus their attention must be divided amongst a finite number of threads and other moderation duties.

So, if we have a thread that requires one or more mods to monitor it full-time because it's such a sensitive subject that it would otherwise quickly turn into a shitstorm, that means that many many other threads on the site are being neglected. Thus, several other threads turn into shitstorms because early threadshitting/derailing comments aren't deleted. Or maybe we've got a bunch of AskMes in which people are giving potentially litigiously bad advice or just berating the asker instead of being helpful. Or we've got "please tell me the best way to commit suicide" AskMes getting through without a mod contacting the poster to help make sure that he/she is okay and is going to live to see the morning and thus some MeFites literally DIE because the mods are distracted elsewhere.

(No, that's not just hyperbole. Seriously, based on several things that the mods have alluded to over the years, I am 99.7% confident that they have saved lives thanks to their quick responses to suicidal AskMes.)

Meanwhile, given our finite moderation resources, if we insist upon total shitstorm threads being allowed to exist here, then that takes a psychological toll on the mod(s) stuck monitoring those threads. Given that Matt was enough of mensch to hire his mods as employees (instead of 1099ing them as independent contractors) and thus bought them health insurance, that means that increased stress on the mods leads to higher medical bills for their therapy and/or antidepressant/anti-anxiety meds, which means increased insurance premiums, which means increased operating costs, which in the worst case scenario means an increased probability of the site either going bankrupt and shutting down or being sold out to automobile advertisers in a way that seriously hinders the functioning and aesthetics of the site. Or, in the best case scenario, it means less money to pay pb to add more cool new features to the site like books discussions in Fanfare.

Meanwhile, the social costs of such threads in the absence of infinite moderation resources is that many members who were great contributors to the discussions here are going to quit and/or become so soured on the site that they significant lower/worsen their participation here. That leaves us with almost no one to converse with but a bunch of thick-skinned assholes who are predominantly white, male, cisgendered, upper-middle-class, and American. And while there's nothing inherently wrong with people from that demographic, only ever hearing from them and their opinions and their life experiences gets really boring after a while, no?

So please stop reading this situation as an example of how the biased mods are actively working to turn this place into a squishy touchy feely leftist safe space. Instead, see it as an example of the mods making a sensible cost/benefit analysis and deciding that the likely costs (to both their own mental health and the continuing survival of the spirit of lovingkindness in our community) to hosting such a conversation here exceed the potential benefit (which in the best case scenario would be that we have a somewhat enlightening conversation about a really weird edge case).

If you really to want to have discussions in which anything goes and you can post whatever, please feel free to start your own blog or make a Reddit account or whatever. But the fact that y'all are still here despite all your griping is just evidence that even with all your criticisms that MetaFilter is significantly better than anywhere else for internet discussions.
posted by Jacqueline at 11:51 PM on June 15, 2015 [21 favorites]


en forme de poire: Who the fuck said anything about Republicans?

AElfwine Evenstar: I did. Specifically, in the context of people who hold non-consensus viewpoints being labeled as "bigots." Surely you've read political threads around here and are aware of what exactly our opinions are supposed to be about republicans.


Riiiiight. So you saw that literally nobody else in this long and rocky conversation mentioned republicans or conservatism at all, and you decided to use your copious spare straw to build a nice big ol'man, did you? I'm sure that will help immensely, thank you.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 12:00 AM on June 16, 2015 [28 favorites]


There's something about threads where the "It used to be so much better back when I could say l'd hit that" comments come up that makes me clench my jaw till it hurts to avoid getting really sarcastic.

So instead I'm going to say this- I may not be the best ally, and damn I'm still ignorant about a lot of stuff. But I'm learning. And if bunch of trans and PoC posters say a thread is hurtful and misleading, then yah, it's a good idea to close it. So, good call, mods.
posted by happyroach at 12:04 AM on June 16, 2015 [10 favorites]


I did. Specifically, in the context of people who hold non-consensus viewpoints being labeled as "bigots."

At the risk of pointing out the obvious, what you will notice is that before you jumped in here, we were specifically talking about the kind of reception and "free discussion" women and PoC were subject to during the bygone age on Metafilter. Literally no one was complaining about Republicans. I think you're making an argument against a point no one made.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 12:10 AM on June 16, 2015 [9 favorites]


I second (or third or whatever) the notion that topics that the mods deem too hot to handle be identified on the main page.
FWIW, I spent some time on a post about Laura Kipnis that was deleted because it would cause too many problems for the mods. This was not noted on MetaTalk (though I did get an e-mail from someone who thought the post was a good one). If mod "resources" are so strained that certain topics are banned, then say so up front and save us some trouble. The fact that three Dolezal FPPs have been deleted is a sign that MeFites think this a topic worthy of discussion; if the mods cannot handle that discussion, then let's have a notice upfront -- perhaps a list of mod trigger topics or whatever you want to call it.
posted by CCBC at 12:18 AM on June 16, 2015 [10 favorites]


How are you under siege here? You're not in any physical danger.

I'm trans, so yes I am. Not directly from the shit people say on the site, but it forms part of a contiuum of abuse and is an expression of the same prejudicide and discrimination that does put me in physical danger.

What you really want a site that features commiseration about how everyone unlike you is a Philistine. Congrats! You got it!

No it isn't, and no I don't. You seem to be riding that particular hobby horse hard, though - too bad you can't have the site where everyone unlike you is a Philistine, huh?



I'm not grumpy about it, though I'm a bit sad that we're deleting MeTa posts now.

...we are? What deleted MeTa posts are we talking about here?
posted by Dysk at 12:28 AM on June 16, 2015 [10 favorites]


if the mods cannot handle that discussion, then let's have a notice upfront

It isn't the mods that cannot handle the discussion - it's the userbase. The mods have enough other stuff to do that they don't have time to clean up the mess the userbase would make trying to have the discussion.
posted by Dysk at 12:39 AM on June 16, 2015 [15 favorites]


Also, having the 'mefi sucks for white guys now!!1' discussion crop up literally every. single. time. there is a meta that in any way touches on trans issues is such a predictable, tedious pattern, and it does not generally encourage wider participation.

So I guess good job, transphobes, for continuing to drive us away?
posted by Dysk at 12:41 AM on June 16, 2015 [31 favorites]


dysk: The mods have enough other stuff to do that they don't have time to clean up the mess the userbase would make trying to have the discussion.


Fine. The "userbase" also has limited time. Warn them up front about discussions that will be deleted.
posted by CCBC at 12:45 AM on June 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


How? Some kind of Clippy extension?
posted by nom de poop at 12:46 AM on June 16, 2015 [7 favorites]


The userbase is participating at their own peril. The mods are not. Apples / coconuts.
And I think a list of non-suitable subjects is impossible to maintain. It would have to be updated in real time, pretty much.
posted by Too-Ticky at 12:49 AM on June 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


A lot of the folks who wanted the thread on the blue left open sure seem bound and determined to prove by their participation here exactly why it was a good deletion.
posted by Proofs and Refutations at 12:52 AM on June 16, 2015 [39 favorites]


I don't think a list would be impossible to maintain. If a discussion is deleted, say so up front. If a topic is deemed toxic, say so.
MeFites may participate at their own peril, but content supplied by users is what this site is all about. A warning that certain topics are banned would be useful.
posted by CCBC at 12:57 AM on June 16, 2015 [4 favorites]


I think I'm the one who introduced the word 'bigot'. I'm on my sad old phone so I can't search. But i meant, explicitly, people who think their wilful ignorance or outright transphobia or racism deserves equal time because fairness. Not Republicans, particularly.
posted by gingerest at 12:58 AM on June 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


Regarding a list of banned topics, it strikes me that it'd be a damn short list. This is such an edge case that I'm really not sure we need new tools or policies to deal with it.
posted by Dysk at 1:04 AM on June 16, 2015 [4 favorites]


I'd like to note that despite how hard this thread became a shitposting grotto at the end, it's still significantly better than the longest thread which spawned this meta.

woo, i guess?
posted by emptythought at 1:06 AM on June 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


I don't think a list would be impossible to maintain. If a discussion is deleted, say so up front. If a topic is deemed toxic, say so.

You're still looking for hard-and-fast rules in a place which has been pretty consistent at saying there are few hard-and-fast rules. Maybe one particularly well-done FPP is good enough to beat the threshold. Maybe day N is the day when it feels like it'll work. Maybe the commenting user base that day is feeling particularly chill/reasonable.

I mean, the consistent list of "Sites not to link to" is basically "Stormfront". That leaves a pretty broad set of room for aware posting to work within. ('aware' being 'having read the room, established a baseline of social awareness, etc')

The mods have consistently said to err on the side of contacting them. I've run FPPs past them before, even. "Yeah, go ahead" "Hey, can you tweak X? I've seen that go bad before and I have a bad feeling about this" "I don't know that now's a good time for that. People are still pretty het up" They're willing to work with people. To an extent which continues to surprise me with its thoroughness each time I see it in action.
posted by CrystalDave at 1:08 AM on June 16, 2015 [16 favorites]


I don't think a list would be impossible to maintain.

It's codeable to have "recently deleted threads" available on the New Page page, if we really need it. It wouldn't need to present the entireity of the threads, just the introductory posts.

I'm not requesting this particular pony myself.
posted by sebastienbailard at 1:08 AM on June 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


sebastienbailard: It's codeable to have "recently deleted threads" available on the New Page page

That would be good.

CrystalDave: I am not after "hard and fast rules". In fact, I like things loose. But several people wasted some time on a topic that has been banned by the mods. I think there is a certain courtesy that should be shown by this site. If users create content, then treat them right.
posted by CCBC at 1:15 AM on June 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


But it's not actually that certain subjects are banned. Specific posts have been censored (in the neutral sense of the word), for the reason that the threads get all fighty.

For example the framing of a post can help a lot with how productive the conversation goes.

I am interested that some people argue that fighty bad-behavior comments are necessary for exposure to diverse viewpoints, and in turn, are needed for change and growth of the community. That seems to be the fundamental concern when people worry why can't we ask or talk about X, Y, or Z. I can see the conceptual and theoretical importance of this kind of argument, but I can also see how it is profoundly unempathetic to those who are affected by X, Y, or Z.
posted by polymodus at 1:20 AM on June 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


The topic is not 'banned' it is just going spectacularly badly at the moment. If you're that bothered, you can always read the deleted posts blog.
posted by Dysk at 1:20 AM on June 16, 2015 [11 favorites]


polymodus: Three FPPs on the same subject were shut down. A notice on the first one's closing might have prevented the wasted time posting the other two.

dysk: I was not aware of that resource. I will bookmark it.
posted by CCBC at 1:24 AM on June 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


I am really just saying that people should not be discouraged from attempting to submit well-framed posts on difficult topics.
posted by polymodus at 1:27 AM on June 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


polymodus: Okay, but is bad framing what happened here? I went to MetaFilter Deleted Posts and read LobsterMitten's reasons for deleting which I found persuasive. I think they could have been up front.
(Here's what he said:)
the Dolezal situation is a peculiar mix of news-of-the-weird/look at this nutty lady, plus "let's discuss in the abstract something that turns out to be painfully not abstract for certain members here", plus race, plus the connection to the whole idea of 'transracialism' which seems to be an idea made up to tease and mock transgender people -- and the whole package makes it impossible for a thread on this to go well here at this time.
posted by CCBC at 1:34 AM on June 16, 2015


The dearth of information currently available makes it impossible to frame a post on the topic well at present.
posted by Dysk at 1:36 AM on June 16, 2015


So...the weird thing here is that we've got a post on race (which also brought in discussion of gender) closed down. Which makes a net decrease in the race/gender/sexuality discussion which there is more of now than there used to be. And yet the people who pine for the old days are upset that a social justicy thread was shut down, and the people who like the new social justice MetaFilter flavor are happy that it got shut down.

I'm not saying it's paradoxical or anything, I totally understand the reasons. It's just a really odd situation at first glance.
posted by Bugbread at 1:38 AM on June 16, 2015 [6 favorites]


Dysk: The dearth of information currently available makes it impossible to frame a post on the topic well at present.

Then this is a topic that should be banned, right? Let MetaFilter say so.
posted by CCBC at 1:40 AM on June 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


No, because that may not hold true in future, and is at any rate already covered by the guideline to frame your posts well at any rate.
posted by Dysk at 1:49 AM on June 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


No, because that may not hold true in future, and is at any rate already covered by the guideline to frame your posts well at any rate.

Exactly.
posted by polymodus at 1:53 AM on June 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


Then this is a topic that should be banned, right?

No.

"Can't be turned into a good post at present" does not logically give rise to "topic should officially be banned for all time."
posted by zarq at 1:53 AM on June 16, 2015 [5 favorites]


Bugbread: Yeah, it's odd. I came to MetaFilter looking for some discussion of this case and, when I couldn't find it, did a search that brought me here to MetaTalk. I wanted to see a discussion of this matter that might include concepts of what "race" really means and so on. I look to MetaFilter a lot for enlightened conversation, though I usually just lurk and read. I am sorry that this particular topic can no longer be discussed here.

Dysk: The FPPs that I looked at were well-framed. "Banned" doesn't mean forever. Certainly there are hot topics of the day that may be discussed as history next week.
posted by CCBC at 1:53 AM on June 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


CCBC, we aren't going to have a list of banned topics because we don't have banned topics per se. There are topics that aren't going to go well at a given time, for either external or internal reasons, or both. There are topics that were previously deleted that were later posted because the poster did a particularly good job of sourcing and presenting the information. There are topics that were deleted when info was partially available that were later posted when the situation was clearer and there was more than speculation to discuss. There are topics that membership tells us are a particular problem on the site, and we need to be therefore much more particular about how these posts are made. There are topics that are breaking news-related that moderators are learning about as they happen and trying to evaluate in the moment. There are topics that are hoaxy or manufactured outrage / trolling that are deleted, but a later post examining and analyzing what exactly happened on the internet regarding the hoax or stunt isn't deleted.

Ban lists don't work with this paradigm, and as with everything on the site, it's as we've always said: decisions are made on a case-by-case basis, and anyone is welcome to drop us a line at any time to ask about the potential for a new post on any topic they might have doubts about.

I totally understand that this can be frustrating. It would be easier for us, too, to just have some BIG BOOK OF "NO" that wouldn't require some of the tough decisions we need to work through and a lot of angry criticism to answer to, whatever we decide – but we don't think that's best for the site.
posted by taz (staff) at 2:03 AM on June 16, 2015 [19 favorites]


taz: How about a notation when an FPP is deleted?
posted by CCBC at 2:07 AM on June 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


There's probably something more recent (that I might find later with a little more searching), but here's a comment from cortex about this. I'm sort of agnostic on the idea, but wouldn't want to see it on the front page. Compiled similar to the deleted posts blog on a separate page maybe, but that's my own sort of "eh, maybe?" opinion, not an admin answer.
posted by taz (staff) at 2:19 AM on June 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


CCBC: Can't link because phone posting (though I think it's easily googlable), but I use a Deleted Posts Greasemonkey script that does exactly that, if that helps.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 2:22 AM on June 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


Hmm. I'll think about that. ("Trivially easy"?) Anyway, I've had my say on this topic and greater minds than mine will decide. Good night all.
posted by CCBC at 2:23 AM on June 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


So please stop reading this situation as an example of how the biased mods are actively working to turn this place into a squishy touchy feely leftist safe space. Instead, see it as an example of the mods making a sensible cost/benefit analysis and deciding that the likely costs (to both their own mental health and the continuing survival of the spirit of lovingkindness in our community) to hosting such a conversation here exceed the potential benefit (which in the best case scenario would be that we have a somewhat enlightening conversation about a really weird edge case).

For all that I've been grumbling a little I do agree with this. But I think the grumbling is important. The day is made of the yeas and the nays, after all.
posted by Sebmojo at 2:34 AM on June 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


Man, Major Curley, for someone whining about "fragility," you sure do seem to be super easily hurt about the idea that voices other than yours might be welcome in the discussion.

Wait... What? That's the complete opposite of what I'm saying, and you're sophisticated enough to know that. You just got a handful of applause for "I know you are but what am I?" That passes for discourse here. You must be proud
posted by Mayor Curley at 3:41 AM on June 16, 2015 [13 favorites]


Mayor Curley, I'm not understanding why this needs to be about you, but you began with a blanket insult, and now are getting into personal bickering because that wasn't terribly well received, basically inviting more comments about you, redirecting the discussion in a way that makes it less useful and more angry. I will officially note here that you disagree with the deletion, and think the site used to be better, and say we officially recognize this as your statement, and ask that you not continue with one-on-one (or blanket) insults or squabbling, and ask that other folks also let this drop.
posted by taz (staff) at 3:55 AM on June 16, 2015 [33 favorites]


Riiiiight. So you saw that literally nobody else in this long and rocky conversation mentioned republicans or conservatism at all, and you decided to use your copious spare straw to build a nice big ol'man, did you? I'm sure that will help immensely, thank you.

Obtuse much? Yes please fixate on my one poorly chosen word and use it to bludgeon me into consensus. My point still stands: bigots exist on metafilter and limiting discussion is not a strategy that will cure that ill. My secondary point is that bigotry is just as likely to be found in social justice circles as any other. Humans being humans and all.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 4:13 AM on June 16, 2015 [4 favorites]


I see how this story is not a good fit for MetaFilter. The deletions make sense. While the story is interesting, and there are interesting conversations to be had on the topic, the real world results are bad, angry arguments that hurt people.

However, I also disagree that it this story is merely newsfilter about a weird lady, that there are no attached substantive issues, that the posts were poorly framed, or even that the basic facts of the story are any more confusing or dubious than those of any other story.

I am not saying that the deletions are wrong. Rather, I am saying that I believe the deletions flow mainly from 1) making value judgments about what conversations are worth having, 2) making value judgments about when it is acceptable or unacceptable to expose people to words that may cause them pain, and 3) making a cost-benefit analysis with regard to the mods' time and resources.

And that's all...fine. I don't think any of that is wrong at all. These kinds of decisions are a huge part of how life functions.

I guess I just find it somewhat strange that a few comments - mostly not from mods - appear to elide or obfuscate those reasonable concerns, in favor of excuses which try to pretend that MeFi moderation does not make these kinds of judgments. Of course MeFi as a community has its own ideas of right and wrong, true and false - not in the sense that everybody thinks alike, but in the sense of quorum, gestalt, mod strategy, etc. Of course MetaFilter has such notions - what's wrong about that?

Like, if there were posts that advocated Holocaust denialism or Stalinist apologism or explicit MRA shite or whatever, then the mods would be perfectly correct to delete those posts, because they would be bad, angrymaking posts about issues where we, as a community, have already made our value judgments on the topics. And there's nothing wrong with that.
posted by Sticherbeast at 4:14 AM on June 16, 2015 [12 favorites]


I look to MetaFilter a lot for enlightened conversation, though I usually just lurk and read. I am sorry that this particular topic can no longer be discussed here.

It's extremely frustrating to see this idea constantly reiterated by people coming into the thread, requiring yet more reiteration of response. (This goes back to my goal of always reading the whole thread before commenting).

But: no one is saying "this particular topic can no longer be discussed here." I am absolutely sure that race, gender, sexuality, etc can and will be discussed on MetaFilter, sometimes well and often badly (but maybe getting better) well into the future. The specific case that prompted the FPPs whose deletions sparked this MeTa isn't a good subject for discussion currently because: a) it's a weird edge case that doesn't cast much light on the central issues, b) it's still breaking news (usually bad for FPPs outside of obits), so there are huge lacunae in the information available through which entire trucks of unfounded speculation are being driven, and c) it's been framed in national discourse in a really nasty way. After a time, it might be possible to create an FPP that addresses the specific events that generates something other than ignorant armchair pontificating, nasty talking points, and weary/outraged defense, but that's not going to be until well after the full facts (such as they are) of the specific situation are known.

So the sad "I guess we can't talk about this" is untrue, unhelpful, and unoriginal (even in this MeTa). I wish people would stop it specifically here but generally as a rhetorical device in MetaTalk.
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:14 AM on June 16, 2015 [16 favorites]


GenjiandProust: "But: no one is saying "this particular topic can no longer be discussed here."...So the sad "I guess we can't talk about this" is untrue, unhelpful, and unoriginal (even in this MeTa). I wish people would stop it specifically here but generally as a rhetorical device in MetaTalk."

I can't really imagine any other way this topic could come up that wouldn't just end up following the same trajectory and also getting nuked. And I think that's fine. I mean, I'd like it if we could discuss this topic, but evidently we really suck at that and do more collateral harm than good, so I'm in favor of deleting threads on the topic. So I guess there's at least one person here saying "this particular topic cannot be discussed here".

Though I don't know about "no longer be discussed". Has this topic ever been discussed in the past? Did it go any better, or did it suck just as bad?
posted by Bugbread at 4:33 AM on June 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


a) it's a weird edge case that doesn't cast much light on the central issues

That's part of the rub, though. I disagree pretty strongly with this, and it is what it is, but this is supposedly not the thread to discuss the case, so I'm not going to go into it.

And yet - if we're not discussing the case here, then why do so many comments express the above sentiment? That's just another way of discussing the case in this thread, which we're supposedly not doing. In practice, in this thread, it apparently is okay to talk about the case, so long as we say affirmatively that this case does not shed any light on, or raise any questions about, interesting issues. This preemptively says that people who think otherwise are wrong, even before they speak. It becomes the controlling value judgment.

Because of others' transphobic horseshit, it is provably not a good idea to actually have that non-MeTa conversation on this site. But, that's a different argument! "Conversations about Doležal are a bad fit for MetaFilter, because of both bigots and tensions about bigotry" does not lead to "therefore, the Doležal story is inherently minor and uninteresting".

Well, I think it's actually very interesting, and you may disagree, and obviously that's fine. It's just a shame that that conversation doesn't work well on this site.

NB: It's hard to write a MeTa comment without sounding harsh, so I just want to say that I don't really have any hard or dramatic feelings about not having posts about this, nor do I have anything against people who don't want to hear about this woman ever again for the rest of their lives.
posted by Sticherbeast at 4:39 AM on June 16, 2015 [12 favorites]


you began with a blanket insult, and now are getting into personal bickering because that wasn't terribly well received

It wasn't an insult, it was a characterization. I've been at least as civil as my detractors-- there's not any need for a moderator to step in-- especially one who's going to be sarcastic and not even attempt to appear impartial.

At what point did it become a source of pride for you that a 12-year contributor would feel that this site has been moderated to the consistency of thin porridge?
posted by Mayor Curley at 4:59 AM on June 16, 2015 [9 favorites]


I can't really imagine any other way this topic could come up that wouldn't just end up following the same trajectory and also getting nuked.

An FPP on the specific case, maybe not; it seems pretty polluted, but who knows what might get written about it in the fyure that could be actually useful? However, I can imagine, without too much difficulty, someone making an FPP about the idea of the social construction of race and different opinions about that, where this specific event, fleshed out with actual information, was one of a variety of takes. It might not go well; race is a tricky subject that our society "doesn't do well," but it wouldn't necessarily rehash the particular "point and gawk" aspects of the current "national discussion" that helped the FPPs go so badly.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:06 AM on June 16, 2015 [4 favorites]


This is a discussion board for very fragile people now.

Even supposing this to be an accurate characterization, what is the thinking? That people who need extra consideration are fragile, therefore contemptible, and therefore don't deserve extra consideration?
posted by stebulus at 5:09 AM on June 16, 2015 [9 favorites]


And yet - if we're not discussing the case here, then why do so many comments express the above sentiment? That's just another way of discussing the case in this thread, which we're supposedly not doing. In practice, in this thread, it apparently is okay to talk about the case, so long as we say affirmatively that this case does not shed any light on, or raise any questions about, interesting issues. This preemptively says that people who think otherwise are wrong, even before they speak. It becomes the controlling value judgment.

Well, as I say immediately above, I think a lot of what went wrong with the long FPP was a combination of rubbernecking at a slightly outre story and repetition (unwittingly or otherwise) of talking points that had a huge elements of "Gotcha SJW!" along with racism and transphobia, none of which make for good discussion. The breaking news aspects of the story compounded it -- there seem to be a lot of details missing, and those gaps, plus the rush by certain groups to seize control of the framing of the story, make this a less-than-useful example to discuss any kind of wider issues, at which point we get something that's more like "Here's a weird thing that a person with some unspecified baggage did; discuss," which is the sort of thing that gets deleted as OutrageFilter all the time, usually with a request to wait for more information before trying to make an FPP.

Now, I guess you could say that I am discussing the case in the above paragraph, but only in as far as discussing what went wrong with the FPP and why the deletion was good for the site, which I'm not sure we can do without discussing it to that extent. (If I'm wrong, I expect this'll get deleted; so be it.)

Furthermore, I'm not saying that the incident couldn't be woven into a productive FPP, but, for the reasons I outline above, I don't think it can be done now, nor do I think that this incident is strong enough, detailed enough, and typical enough to stand at the center of an FPP. I suppose someone could prove me wrong there, too, but I'm dubious.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:20 AM on June 16, 2015 [5 favorites]


what is the thinking? That people who need extra consideration are fragile, therefore contemptible, and therefore don't deserve extra consideration?

This is an excellent point of discussion. Seriously. My belief is that there's a place between excluding virulently hateful talk (which does not expand discourse), and discussion that includes ideas that will make some people uncomfortable. I wish we could move closer to that balance. I need to stop commenting so heavily, so can other people explore this? This thread might amount to something.
posted by Mayor Curley at 5:25 AM on June 16, 2015 [9 favorites]


I would also like to thank the mods for closing the related threads up, and Lobster Mitten for their first comment here. I noped out early, and did not intend to comment, but after reading through the whole thing, paying attention, there are just two points I'd like to make.

1. Posters who so much want an 'objective' discussion of fascinating hypotheticals never couch their hypotheticals in terms where the majority position can be read as anomalous, a fascinating oddity, a curio; they never predicate the minority as normative depending on the context in which it occurs. It is obvious from their language, which excludes anything other than exceptionally binary understandings, that such a thought has never in their life crossed their minds. So even for the sake of argument, in which they are so happy to use other people's realities, they can't comprehend shifting from their fixed position.

2. These posters frequently make weird, masked appeals to authority in the form of the word 'we'. 'We' are given to understand. It would be useful to 'us'. 'We' are informed that. Again, my inference is it has never crossed their minds, not that there are people in the world for whom these truths are not self-evident, but that those people...don't matter? Aren't part of the debate? Should be discounted out of hand? AREN'T PART OF METAFILTER?

Whatever, that royal we is really jarring, and to me at least, a sign I'm not going to give myself a migraine by trying to engage with the person.

My family contains edge-case intersections of race and culture which contain wonderful, fruitful, stimulating (as well as highly sensitive) mental headspaces for me. A discussion on the Dolezal case could have been so interesting. As it is, Kathryn T and hal_c_yon summed it up well half way up this thread.*

*apologies if I'd got names wrong, afraid to search with reply window open!
posted by glasseyes at 5:25 AM on June 16, 2015 [14 favorites]


Add me to the list of the people disappointed not so much in the deletion reason itself, but that these types of conversations can't be had here anymore. Thanks to the participants in this thread I know why, but that doesn't soothe the disappointment much. MeFi members are my trusted voices and frankly this is the place I go to hear smart people talk about sticky things. I am finding great insights on Twitter and Tumblr though, so there is that.
posted by kimberussell at 5:25 AM on June 16, 2015 [11 favorites]


Again, my inference is it has never crossed their minds, not that there are people in the world for whom these truths are not self-evident, but that those people...don't matter?

Missed the edit window - apologise for bad grammar - I think my meaning is clear tho. It has never crossed their minds that people who don't agree with them matter etc.
posted by glasseyes at 5:36 AM on June 16, 2015


At what point did it become a source of pride for you that a 12-year contributor would feel that this site has been moderated to the consistency of thin porridge?

Around 2011-2012. When dozens of women started saying that Metafilter was now beginning to feel more welcoming for them.

It's not pride. This has nothing to do with you personally, man. But I sure as hell don't miss the worst of the "good ol' days."
posted by zarq at 5:38 AM on June 16, 2015 [36 favorites]


It wasn't an insult, it was a characterization.

I know you've bowed out now, but let me offer for the benefit of others that these two are not necessarily mutually exclusive. And in my opinion anyway, arriving to scold the community at large (again) for being thin skinned and fragile was insulting. Just because you do not use actual cuss words doesn't mean you were at all civil. By any fucking stretch.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 5:39 AM on June 16, 2015 [8 favorites]


> Though I don't know about "no longer be discussed". Has this topic ever been discussed in the past? Did it go any better, or did it suck just as bad?

Which subject? Passing as another race? There was a post in March that seemed to go fine, though it was about passing as white and that's something that people don't seem to think is all that strange in and of itself. Here are all the tags that show up when I did a (lazy) site search for race/racism/passing.

I'm betting we can absolutely have an interesting, difficult but not completely horribly discussion about racial passing; I'm not sure that discussing this one woman, right at this moment, would be that. If it's a good and interesting subject, that subject will still be around and interesting in a few months.
posted by rtha at 5:49 AM on June 16, 2015 [8 favorites]


I guess I just find it somewhat strange that a few comments - mostly not from mods - appear to elide or obfuscate those reasonable concerns, in favor of excuses which try to pretend that MeFi moderation does not make these kinds of judgments. Of course MeFi as a community has its own ideas of right and wrong, true and false - not in the sense that everybody thinks alike, but in the sense of quorum, gestalt, mod strategy, etc. Of course MetaFilter has such notions - what's wrong about that?

Wow, I agree with this whole comment so hard, Sticherbeast. I feel like there is a recurrent problem with mods appearing to throw everything at the wall and see what sticks in their official deletion notes. The deletion often turns out to be a good one, as in this case, but there is a frequent pattern of contentious thread getting deleted, discursive clusterfuck, and then somewhere in the mix the moderation is like "oh yeah btw this was all totes about protecting members from microaggressions". Even in the opening post to this thread, which has rightfully been described as a good step in the right direction, LobsterMitten calls the topic "news of the weird", which, just why muddy the waters like that?

I think the mods ultimately made a good decision here, and I'm not trying to give them a hard time; I think a little more actual ownership of deletion reasons from the get-go would go a fair way to solve a recurrent MeTa problem.
posted by threeants at 5:54 AM on June 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


the decline

One person's ceiling is another person's floor.
posted by Too-Ticky at 5:54 AM on June 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


Once again, I wonder what happened to simply not going into threads you don't like.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:54 AM on June 16, 2015 [9 favorites]


Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane: "Just because you do not use actual cuss words doesn't mean you were at all civil. By any fucking stretch."

I kinda thought that, and I also thought "Man, Mayor Curley has always thought that Metafilter is moderated to the consistency of thin porridge. What 'good old days' could he be pining for?" So I looked through the MetaTalk archives. Two discoveries:

1) Mayor Curley has found MetaFilter to be overmoderated and milquetoast for at least 8 years now.
2) Mayor Curley has become WAY more civil. Not just "removing cuss words", but seriously way more civil.
posted by Bugbread at 5:55 AM on June 16, 2015 [19 favorites]


If threads about me are frequently threads I don't like it seems to be something of a problem to suggest I not go into them and also continue to want to come here. I mean, we don't have an issue seeing how poisonous that attitude is when applied to reddit...
posted by stoneweaver at 6:00 AM on June 16, 2015 [13 favorites]


My belief is that there's a place between excluding virulently hateful talk (which does not expand discourse), and discussion that includes ideas that will make some people uncomfortable.

This is a pretty egregious mischaracterization of how sexist and transphobic comments affect women and trans members of this community. Many women and trans members have explained many times over many years that this goes beyond mere "uncomfortable." But it's pretty typical for someone longing for the good old free-for-all boyzone days to minimize all those discussions. This place is now better for women. It's hopefully on its way to becoming better for trans members. Some people don't like that. I think that's too bad. Literally, I think it's really too bad that people can lament for the "I'd hit it" days. It's too bad that people can look at women and trans members standing up for themselves and call them "fragile" and metafilter a "thin gruel" without as much of the sexist and transphobic garbage that used to litter the place.

watching MetaFilter become less brave

Oh, the courage of the transphobes and misogynists, whatever will we do without them. If you want bravery, you could look to the trans members who speak up despite vigorous pushback and lots of ignorance. Or what about the women who told deeply personal stories of rape and sexual assault and harassment in the Schodinger's Rapist thread(s) and the ensuing boyzone discussions. Are they less brave than ye Metafilter of olde?

I mostly lurk, and I loved Metafilter back when I first started reading 10 years ago, but I love it more now. It's better now. It can't be all things to all people, and I think the choices the mods and community have made are the right ones.
posted by Mavri at 6:07 AM on June 16, 2015 [56 favorites]


So he's more civil. Well, yay progress then?

I've been posting here for 7 years, give or take, and I find the characterization that there is an actual sociopolitical orthodoxy of increasing force to be hyperbolic at best. We have users who hail from a myriad of sociopolitical perspectives. The only thing I've seen change is that there is a lower level of patience for being dickish with socially marginized people. If other people lack the imagination to discuss these things without engaging in tedious silencing tactics then oh well, there's a whole internet out there for them to smear banana all over.

There is no sociopolitical orthodoxy; you need only afford your fellow members more respect and kindness. If that's the "decline", well, hand me an inner tube so I can ride this baby all the way down.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 6:08 AM on June 16, 2015 [19 favorites]


Why can't it be the case that Metafilter just doesn't do some things well? Like why can't this be a great place for almost everything, but discussions of X are off-limits because we tend to fuck them up?

X can be anything: Israel-Palestine, cat declawing, Mac v PC, etc.

Isn't the community still worth it, so long as X is a relatively small group of things?

I'll just add that I've seen a lot of really talented philosophers and social scientists of race and gender fuck up their initial discussions of this particular case, just because of framing issues. It's a tough thing to think through FOR PEOPLE WHO HAVE THE RELEVANT IDENTITIES AND EXPERTISE. Trans scholars are fucking it up, Black scholars are fucking it up, famous feminists and critical race theorists are fucking it up, and all of them came back and revised their views because they made their misstatements in social media where every day is a brand new day and their friends and colleagues are actually a lot more patient and forgiving than the average Metafilter thread.

Basically, the first day this story hit was a cluster fuck. Worse, there are a lot of facts not yet in evidence. So why not just let it go, and discuss something else? We don't need more Hot Takes! Why does it have to be about Metafilter's decline or some such nonsense?
posted by anotherpanacea at 6:09 AM on June 16, 2015 [13 favorites]


I think Potomac Avenue's post, which was the most recent one, centered around a link by a black writer.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at


Just as a note that article was by an anti-racist activist who has written extensively about racism in the feminist community, and who nevertheless is a white woman. 2015!
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:09 AM on June 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


I've only been here since 2010, so make of that what you will.

But my impression is that there have been two big changes to MeFi moderation over the years:

1) A move toward zero-tolerance of shitty comments that are actively hurtful to users.

2) A widening of the diversity of identities/groups/etc whose needs are being considered.

In other words, not only are the mods clamping down on "straightforward" racism and sexism, they're also thinking more actively about things like transphobia and heterosexism.

From where I'm sitting, a huge point of stress seems to be that some users disagree very strongly with the latter part -- the expanding idea of which groups we're specifically trying to carve out a safer* space for. As in, they disagree with either the legitimacy of those groups, or that such groups deserve "special treatment." Or else, they want certain related questions to be up for debate -- we all agree we can't argue here that women are inherently inferior to men, but can we talk about the legitimacy of trans identities? And those users see the mods' answer -- "No, we're not going to argue about that" -- to be silencing and shitty, instead of just another part of making MetaFilter a place where as many people as possible feel welcome to participate.

That's my impression. But I'm not really sure what to DO about it.

*The "er" is important there -- I understand that MeFi isn't ever going to be a completely "safe" space and I agree that it shouldn't have to be.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 6:09 AM on June 16, 2015 [6 favorites]


Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane: "We have users who hail from a myriad of sociopolitical perspectives."

"We have all kinds of music, country and western"

I'm left-wing and, as far as I can recall, I've been in favor of every single deletion on this site, so from these members' positions I'm totes part of the problem, but it's kinda silly to say we have users from "a myriad of sociopolitical perspectives". I mean, yeah, sure, technically, we've got a handful of token members from this group and that group. The Republican party, likewise, has people from a myriad of racial, gender, sexual, and spiritual backgrounds. But, c'mon, MeFi is overwhelmingly a left-wing site. Which I think is just fine, but pretending it isn't true is silly.
posted by Bugbread at 6:18 AM on June 16, 2015 [9 favorites]


A couple of comments deleted. Please don't drag in members who are not a part of the discussion here. It's fine to go ahead and say what you think in your own words, rather than copy/pasting and repurposing someone else's comment from a different discussion.
posted by taz (staff) at 6:19 AM on June 16, 2015


I'm not going to express an opinion on the deletion other than I generally support them when they happen. Perhaps it was a bad delete, perhaps not. Sometimes maybe mods get it wrong, but they get more right than not, so I am willing to not mourn the demise of any particular thread.

Now, as to the topic, I think there is enough there there for there to be a post. Perhaps there wasn't at the time, but the facts on the ground have changed. She's resigned. The police have dropped their harassment investigations. A lot of people have gone on the record as to what this all means and how people should feel about it. I could go on.

Point is, we can either be part of these sensitive discourses or we can discuss them only in a historical context. I am empathic to the sensibilities of others and realize this might be a difficult topic, but so far the consensus isn't that it's a banned discussion, but that it needs punted down the field. That's the part that I'm having a bit of a problem with. Is this topic going to be less painful in two weeks? Are the opinions going to be more enlightened?

Either there's enough substance and meat to sustain a discussion or there's not.

There's some problematic elements to nixing a thread based on the sentiments of a portion of the user base. All the time it's said that metafilter is not a single entity, and there doesn't seem to be a consensus amongst the portion of users this thread was deleted to protect. Add to this, deletion to protect from discomfort hasn't been a value previously espoused by this site. One of the precepts has always been, if you don't like it you are welcome to move on (both from the thread and the site), no one forces you to read a thread, etc.

I'm also a bit unclear how we as a community (in general) and the moderation staff (in particular) make these determinations in an ethical manner. There's something discomfiting to me when the predominant demographic in both these groups are the ones getting to decide which racial/gender/political issues are allowed for discussion.

Seems to me, the standard should be whether there's enough content to make a good post. How people react to said post (whether through being unable to move on without being hurt by its existence, or by being an uneducated asshole in thread) needs to be on the table, but it really shouldn't be the overriding factor of survivability.

There's also a difference in discussion these issues in the abstract and discussion them concretely. We do both here. We discuss events as they unfold. We discus events in a historical manner. Requiring a time out on this precludes the real time discussion some obviously want to have. Requiring a cooling off period can be detrimental to discourse. It's a rhetoric we see with gun control discussions after a mass shooting, "too soon" becomes "only bring it up when no one really cares." This happens with all kinds of contentious issues.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:22 AM on June 16, 2015 [13 favorites]


Not how I meant it, Bugbread, but I can see how you'd read my comment that way. The site is overwhelmingly center-left to left, def, but what I mean by "orthodoxy" is that this is not something enforced by moderators. In fact, I see them often go out of their way to stop insult-hurling and dickish behavior directed at our conservative users. It could very well be that affording more respect to the socially marginized is a leftist idea (a whoke other topic for debate) but I think, from a mod perspective, it's more about reducing toxicity and increasing inclusion.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 6:29 AM on June 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


Also, thank you, Sony Xperia for that amazing parsing.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 6:33 AM on June 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


BBuBugBugbBugbtBugbteBugbread

This is your new honorific, Mr Bread of Bug. I think it's fair to consider that you've arrived.

Unfortunately, it can only go downhill from here, so enjoy the view.

No disrespect, Mr Aya, but it was a little bit glorious.
posted by Wolof at 6:33 AM on June 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


It seems like NortonDC could easily link to the comment, and should.

But yeah, I don't see why it was deleted. NortonDC has a particular reason for having noticed the plethora of female users who no longer participate in the site because they don't like what they perceive to be the change in tone. After all, his wife is among them.

I think there ought to be a way to accommodate those objections in Metatalk when they are relevant.
posted by anotherpanacea at 6:42 AM on June 16, 2015 [4 favorites]


I think this whole conversation is a little bit weird, since I remember back in the "glory" days of Metafilter we used to have exactly this kind of Metatalk conversation. Only back then the conversation was about whether something was "newsfilter" and that term seems to have fallen out of favor. But we would have these same exact discussions about controversial, hot-news topics being made into threads. Weirdly back then most of the sort of old-time users were against "newsfilter" and seemed to view it as something brought into the site by new people who didn't understand the "Best of the Web". But now I guess we're stifling discussion? I dunno. Probably not the same set of people.

The one thing that seems really novel is Metatalk comments being deleted, but if you go back and read any Metatalk thread from that era it's just full of people behaving like nasty children, so... whatever?
posted by selfnoise at 6:43 AM on June 16, 2015 [9 favorites]


there are still not enough facts on the ground to do this topic justice. there are still many things changing shape. the conversation some were clamoring to have on day one is looking very silly in the light of newer information. i wager that a thread started right now would look immediately outdated by the end of the week. sometimes we can jump into the middle of breaking news stuff and just sort of roll with the punches of new info as it comes out and sometimes it's better to wait. this is a case where i think it's better to wait.

this does not mean we can't discuss this sort of stuff on metafilter "anymore" or that there's some gigantic sea change. the sky is not falling.
posted by nadawi at 6:44 AM on June 16, 2015 [8 favorites]


Wow. So tell me, please, is it verboten to disagree with the deletion of a comment in this thread, or was due to mentioning the name of that user? I want to understand how this works.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:46 AM on June 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


Mayor Curley: This is an excellent point of discussion. Seriously. My belief is that there's a place between excluding virulently hateful talk (which does not expand discourse), and discussion that includes ideas that will make some people uncomfortable. I wish we could move closer to that balance. I need to stop commenting so heavily, so can other people explore this? This thread might amount to something.

I'm among those leery of deleting to protect from discomfort. If I read things right, in this case the same opinions which have been called out here as garbage and bigotry and that go beyond making people merely uncomfortable are the same opinions on a front page editorial on CNN by a black academic.

A place where opinions suitable for the front page of a major, moderate, news organization are too bigoted to be allowed to stand on without deletion on metafilter is an uncomfortable one to me. Metafilter has always been closed off to opinions from the right, but closing off opinions from the center represents a further narrowing of the acceptable discourse. Some people prefer that and want that narrower discourse. Which does have its virtues, you can have different amd sometimes better conversations. Not everyone does, and it is a reasonable debate to have, with what are to me defensible arguments on both sides.
posted by pseudonick at 6:51 AM on June 16, 2015 [28 favorites]


> Point is, we can either be part of these sensitive discourses or we can discuss them only in a historical context. I am empathic to the sensibilities of others and realize this might be a difficult topic, but so far the consensus isn't that it's a banned discussion, but that it needs punted down the field. That's the part that I'm having a bit of a problem with. Is this topic going to be less painful in two weeks? Are the opinions going to be more enlightened?

[...]

There's also a difference in discussion these issues in the abstract and discussion them concretely. We do both here. We discuss events as they unfold. We discus events in a historical manner. Requiring a time out on this precludes the real time discussion some obviously want to have. Requiring a cooling off period can be detrimental to discourse. It's a rhetoric we see with gun control discussions after a mass shooting, "too soon" becomes "only bring it up when no one really cares." This happens with all kinds of contentious issues.


Do we need to be part of these discourses right now? I speak as someone who was looking forward to the MeFi discussion on this topic because I value the type of discussion the site can have, but who after reading this MeTa thread and also the way the longer FPP went is now firmly on the side of "good job deleting this, mods." There's two benefits that I can think of for delaying this discussion. One is on behalf of people like me who primarily stand to learn from what directly-affected people have to say, and one is on behalf of those groups who feel unwelcome as a result of the current tone of discussion.

I think there's a lot of value to, as SpacemanStix said eloquently upthread, taking a step back to think and mull over what you should say about a complicated event like this before you blurt something out. I don't think that I have as fully formed an opinion about this as I would like to have, because I don't have enough information to be able to make up my mind and I have not had time to listen and think about what other people are saying. Judging from the tone of the thread we nearly had, I think this is also true for most of the rest of the site. Furthermore, new information and reactions are happening everywhere lightning fast--for example, it is now obvious that the transracial derail is deeply harmful to the trans community, but that doesn't seem to have been the case for many people on the day the story broke. Taking a couple of weeks to have a step back and then centering FPPs around, say, nuanced reactions to the story once directly affected people have had a chance to write them will, I think, produce a much more interesting and thought-provoking discussion.

And then there's the minority groups who are directly affected. I'm not one of them, like I said, but I think I have a little bit of semi-relevant experience, which is this: when your entire world is storming around this issue, and everyone you know is shouting about it with varying levels of sensitivity, tact, and bigotry while kicking you in some pretty sore spots, it gets overwhelming. It's hard to deal. That background maelstrom is disproportionately affecting the very people who would be able to provide nuanced and thoughtful perspectives informed by lived experience to the primary discussion. So frankly, I do not expect the people whose perspectives I most expect to be interesting and valuable to this discussion to have the energy to spend a lot of time talking about it on metafilter right now. I think that giving the whole topic a pause--somewhere from a week to a month, to let new information surface and to let people pause and think, will result in a discussion that is a whole lot better and more thought-provoking than getting in on the ground floor to talk it over immediately. Sort of how Last Week Tonight is infinitely more nuanced and thorough on the topics it covers than the Daily Show, because the former has more time to sit and research and plan than the latter does.
posted by sciatrix at 6:54 AM on June 16, 2015 [13 favorites]


five fresh fish, I asked not to pull in someone who was not involved in the discussion here, which isn't a new standard. Obviously you can disagree with anything, but this has been a regular policy for years and years. Pasting someone's full, long comment from another thread on a different topic, and then having a lot of people talk about that person here when they aren't even participating isn't a good thing.
posted by taz (staff) at 6:55 AM on June 16, 2015 [5 favorites]


I have to agree with Mayor Curley; this place has become over-moderated. When it comes to a range of issues including, but not limited to, I/P, obesity, race, sexuality or gender, actual discussion is almost impossible. There is very much a prevailing orthodoxy on these issues, and if you deviate you will get shouted down or abused if you're lucky, or moderated if not. I understand what the mods are trying to do, but a blanket ban on anything which could possibly be found offensive by anybody is just stifling debate.

This place is not Fark or Reddit, and nobody is suggesting that we want to go down that road. I just feel there's a middle ground to be struck. I should be able to express opinions which some others may not agree with, even find uncomfortable or offensive. I should be able to read opinions from others which make me uncomfortable or offended. As long as those opinions are sincerely held and can be defended, all is good.
posted by salmacis at 6:56 AM on June 16, 2015 [28 favorites]


nothing is closed off. this one specific newsfilter story is still happening and there's not a compelling reason to discuss it right this second. honestly, before this meta became such a clusterfuck i was confident a good post could be made in a month or two, but i'm getting less sure about that - and it's not because of people who being "protect[ed] from discomfort" (which is a bs reading, but whatever) but rather the people who have turned this into some sort of evidence of how metafilter is doomed. you guys are really just proving the point of the deletion even if you think you're arguing against it.
posted by nadawi at 6:58 AM on June 16, 2015 [12 favorites]


There is very much a prevailing orthodoxy on these issues,

Which is??? As far as I can tell, the orthodoxy on all of them is 'dont be a jerk'.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 7:02 AM on June 16, 2015 [14 favorites]


You deleted my post, taz, which did not pull quote that user. My post was the one saying that what she wrote was eloquent and topical, and beefing that you deleted the post from the user who did quote her.

I did mention her name — I'd like to say it here, but fear you'll just nuke this post as well — but it did not link to or quote her.

Are there any other users whose names must never be mentioned? I think it'd be right handy to know this ahead of time, so as to avoid further deletions.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:04 AM on June 16, 2015 [6 favorites]


Metafilter has always been closed off to opinions from the right, but closing off opinions from the center represents a further narrowing of the acceptable discourse. Some people prefer that and want that narrower discourse. Which does have its virtues, you can have different amd sometimes better conversations. Not everyone does, and it is a reasonable debate to have, with what are to me defensible arguments on both sides.

To me, it's closing off contributions and questions from people who can't say they've necessarily lived these experiences. It's one thing to admit you haven't lived something but to be told you can't even talk or ask about it seems unproductive for what's supposed to be a discussion board.

On this site I see a lot of lumping together of women, LGBTQ and people of color that I personally don't like (that's billions of people you're talking about here). Sometimes it's good distinction to make but not always, in all situations. Also people saying "we" are hurt by so much in the world that "we" don't want to deal with that on this site, again, I wish people would speak for themselves more instead of these generalities.
posted by girlmightlive at 7:04 AM on June 16, 2015 [18 favorites]


Now, as to the topic, I think there is enough there there for there to be a post. Perhaps there wasn't at the time, but the facts on the ground have changed. She's resigned. The police have dropped their harassment investigations. A lot of people have gone on the record as to what this all means and how people should feel about it. I could go on.

This morning, Rachel Dolezal went on the Today Show and announced that she has been self-identifying as Black since age 5. She's using language which have previously been used by LGBT folks to talk about their gender identities, and she is co-opting them to assert that one's biological race is as fluid as their sexuality. It's all very batshit insane. But inevitably, some Conservatives who believe that being queer and/or trans is a lifestyle choice rather than biology, will pick up on what she's saying and make offensive comparisons. Derailing the conversation into anti-trans fanaticism.

The Conservative denialist rhetoric and hatred isn't abstract for many people here. Or elsewhere. A number of trans folks have been on the receiving end of nasty attacks regarding their identities on Twitter and other social media channels, thanks to anti-trans shitstirring.

There may be enough news to make a post. But as Dysk said earlier, "At least at the moment, the way the story is being talked about everywhere is thoroughly transphobic, and I don't think it's realistic to expect Mefi to be an oasis of sanity like that."

This post and topic are not essential to Metafilter. We've had three versions of it already, one of which went on for 100 comments and was a shitshow. And considering how the national conversation is progressing, it seems naively optimistic to think that a fourth post would somehow be free of the worst of it.
posted by zarq at 7:06 AM on June 16, 2015 [13 favorites]


Which is??? As far as I can tell, the orthodoxy on all of them is 'dont be a jerk'.

Which is "stick to the script". There is a fairly limited range of acceptable comments on certain issues, any deviation from the script falls into "being a jerk". I imagine this comment will probably be considered "being a jerk"
posted by MikeMc at 7:07 AM on June 16, 2015 [19 favorites]


But the thing is - that statement is not about trans gendered indidividuals any more than the situation itself is about trans gendered individuals, which is part of what my frustration over this topic is.

The issue is that comparing race and gender in this way is a well worn dog whistle. That's why people may find it harder to read it as just about race even if it comes from someone who usually posts with respect and good faith.
posted by Drinky Die at 7:08 AM on June 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


Which is "stick to the script".

It's more like, "Don't be a dick to people in your own community."
posted by zarq at 7:08 AM on June 16, 2015 [16 favorites]


the people who have turned this into some sort of evidence of how metafilter is doomed.

No one is saying that. It would appear that Metafilter has found a reasonably stable economic model of being user-supported by a group of people who do not wish to see their views contradicted. However, that sort of ensures that the discourse will never open up-- the mostly loyal users are paying for an environment that's been hermetically sealed from other opinions.
posted by Mayor Curley at 7:10 AM on June 16, 2015 [7 favorites]


Which is "stick to the script".

What's the script? Care to articulate it?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 7:10 AM on June 16, 2015 [4 favorites]


Personally, I'm totally paying for an environment that is relatively free of people being a dick to me on topics like my sexuality or my gender. If I wasn't so broke right now, I'd toss some more cash in the kitty, but as it is I'm working on recruiting other people to get accounts.
posted by sciatrix at 7:14 AM on June 16, 2015 [23 favorites]


For the first time ever, I'm feeling like a metatalk thread should be closed. Not because there isn't still conversation to be had that's topical and about the site, but because people seem incapable of not trying to have a conversation about Rachel here. Adding just enough window dressing that they can pretend they're not, and then getting pissy at the mods for deleting their post. Or. The mods ignoring the original post and deleting any follow up that refutes the shitty transphobia in it.
posted by stoneweaver at 7:15 AM on June 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


A few comments deleted. Sorry, shift change, I am catching up. We're not going to go down the road of having the fight in here that we were trying to prevent in the original thread.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 7:16 AM on June 16, 2015 [6 favorites]


I'm among those leery of deleting to protect from discomfort.

A place where opinions suitable for the front page of a major, moderate, news organization are too bigoted to be allowed to stand on without deletion on metafilter is an uncomfortable one to me.

To be clear here, you're conflating your discomfort at being expected to give the same basic consideration of other people that you do in real life (don't say things that obviously upset the person you're talking to) to people online, with the reaction of people who are reading arguments here that are similar to those that are used to justify all sorts of horrible behavior towards them in real life, including physical violence and rape.

Please stop minimizing the effects of transphobic rhetoric.
posted by Gygesringtone at 7:19 AM on June 16, 2015 [22 favorites]


What's the script? Care to articulate it?

"The topic at hand is a horrible practice. I am very against it. The presented narrative is absolutely correct and anyone who would say otherwise is an oppressor. Do not question my position as the vanguard of progressive thinking or you will be shamed or flagged into silence."

Personally, I'm totally paying for an environment that is relatively free of people being a dick to me on topics like my sexuality or my gender.

That's great, unless "being a dick" is a euphemism for "disagreeing with me." I'm not making any accusations towards your personal attitudes- "unless" means "unless."
posted by Mayor Curley at 7:20 AM on June 16, 2015 [16 favorites]


So no, you aren't actually articulating it, because that is, as I suspect, an intentionally vague caricature.

So, what views are not acceptable on metafilter that should be acceptable?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 7:23 AM on June 16, 2015 [9 favorites]


a group of people who do not wish to see their views contradicted

See this is the sort of thing that drives me crazy.

What views specifically are you talking about? Because that kind of matters!

My view that certain television programs are garbage gets contradicted on MetaFilter all the time, and I'm fine with that. It may make me angry to see someone talk about those television shows as if they're genius works of art, but then I take a step back and let it go, because they have as much of a right to an opinion about a television show as I do. I regularly load up MeFi to find people saying all kinds of shit I don't agree with, about things I care very deeply about, and that can suck on a given day but I wouldn't want the mods to enforce my personal taste or outlook.

But you know....My view that people deserve to be addressed by their chosen pronouns also gets contradicted on MetaFilter, and I don't see the value in arguing about that. Because while it's annoying to see someone say they love a television show I hate, or say they think New York is a festering hole, or say they think radio journalism is a waste of time or whatever, it's actively harmful to the basic well being of my friends and loved ones to see their personhood and autonomy debated as abstract concepts on the internet.

Like what point is there in allowing people to debate the validity of each others' humanity? Why should I participate in a site that doesn't respect my right, or the right of people close to me, to exist? Like seriously, what is the value-add?
posted by Narrative Priorities at 7:23 AM on June 16, 2015 [27 favorites]


Please let's not go down the road of trying to list views that people will find offensive?
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 7:24 AM on June 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


Why? There is a pretty vocal contingent of people who are saying that moderation is too heavy handed here and certain views cannot be expressed, and that these views do not include quotidian right-wing bigotry. I think we should be able to discuss what those views are, rather than deal in vague allusions.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 7:26 AM on June 16, 2015 [6 favorites]


Because this is already a free-wheeling fight and adding a bunch of other topics people will find offensive and then arguing about whether they're right to find them offensive is going to make it a lot worse?
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 7:28 AM on June 16, 2015 [5 favorites]


That's great, unless "being a dick" is a euphemism for "disagreeing with me." I'm not making any accusations towards your personal attitudes- "unless" means "unless."

In this very thread we have someone who has previously lectured trans mefites about their genders, self-identities and bathroom privileges, that is now lecturing them on whether they have a right to speak up when people attack them.

"Being a dick" means "being a dick."
posted by zarq at 7:31 AM on June 16, 2015 [20 favorites]


Also people saying "we" are hurt by so much in the world that "we" don't want to deal with that on this site, again, I wish people would speak for themselves more instead of these generalities.

There are a bunch of people who have done exactly what you are asking for (with various degrees of specificity) upthread (and in the linked, deleted thread).
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:31 AM on June 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


Narrative Priorities: "My view that certain television programs are garbage gets contradicted on MetaFilter all the time"

What the fuck is wrong with certain television shows? Certain television shows are some of the best television shows on air!

LobsterMitten: "Because this is already a free-wheeling fight and adding a bunch of other topics people will find offensive and then arguing about whether they're right to find them offensive is going to make it a lot worse?"

Oh, so, what, you're opposed to certain television shows too?!
posted by Bugbread at 7:34 AM on June 16, 2015 [4 favorites]


I'd love to have the abstract interesting conversation too, but not at the cost of the real non-abstract human beings who are hurt by it and whose presence I so value here. The deletion, and more so the clear statement starting this thread, are greatly appreciated.

I'm gonna go chuck a little extra money at the site in gratitude, and I think I will chuck a few bucks in on sciatrix's behalf while I'm at it.
posted by Stacey at 7:37 AM on June 16, 2015 [9 favorites]


"Being a dick" means "being a dick."

Everything is so much clearer now, thanks for bringing that into laser sharp focus and helping us to calibrate our Dick-O-Meters™.
posted by MikeMc at 7:39 AM on June 16, 2015 [4 favorites]


Early in the thread, the mods had to straight-up tell some members not to tell their fellow members that they don't care if they're hurt, and they've had to say more or less the same thing several times now. Does that help?
posted by zombieflanders at 7:42 AM on June 16, 2015 [17 favorites]


From what I can tell, the people demanding debate on all issues are just looking for the following exchange to go in their favor more often:

Contextually Marginalized Person: "This thing mentioned in the FPP is something I personally have to deal with and it is difficult and really a constant pain in the ass and I wish people could understand that."
Internet Contrarian: "I haven't noticed that thing being a pain in the ass and I'm particularly observant. I don't think it is as much a problem as you say it is."
Ten More People: "No, seriously, that thing is a problem. Assholes are doing it all the time"
Internet Contrarian: "I think you're just misinterpreting the situation as a problem. I mean I personally don't do the thing and I don't know anyone who does."
Two Hundred More People: "It's a problem, here's some more articles and personal accounts and so on"
Internet Contrarian: "Do you have any science studies that say the thing is a problem?"
Mod: [Please stop arguing over whether the thing is a problem or not.]
Internet Contrarian: THOUGHT POLICE! METAFILTER IS AN ECHO CHAMBER! WON'T ANYONE HELP THE WIDOW'S SON?!!
posted by griphus at 7:44 AM on June 16, 2015 [105 favorites]


Everything is so much clearer now, thanks for bringing that into laser sharp focus and helping us to calibrate our Dick-O-Meters™.

A bunch of people have taken the time to respond with actual points that can be addressed. Ball's in your court.
posted by zarq at 7:47 AM on June 16, 2015 [5 favorites]


but because people seem incapable of not trying to have a conversation about Rachel here. Adding just enough window dressing that they can pretend they're not

Why wasn't this comment by zarq deleted? That comment does explicitly what the mods said not to do here.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 7:48 AM on June 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


I am really concerned that a comment I wrote pointing out that it seems like white liberal concerns are being centered over POC concerns seems to have been deleted.
posted by corb at 7:49 AM on June 16, 2015 [7 favorites]


WON'T ANYONE HELP THE WIDOW'S SON?!!

Now you've done it.
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:52 AM on June 16, 2015 [5 favorites]


Why wasn't this comment by zarq deleted?

I actually have been thinking about that zarq comment a lot, and feel it's pretty germane to the topic of whether it's workable to have a Dolezal FPP; since Dolezal is now doubling down on her position in the media, and explicitly staking it out as "transracial" being merely a matter of how one decides to identify, I'm wondering if that would make a thread about Dolezal more or less workable.

I haven't come to any conclusions on that front, mind, but it seems appropriate if the topic of this thread is "in what circumstances would an FPP about Dolezal fly."
posted by Greg Nog at 7:52 AM on June 16, 2015 [6 favorites]


I thought the whole point of deleting the threads on the blue* was to keep the mods from having to do the same extensive work they are now doing in this thread. If we're looking for the perfect balance of community freedom vs. moderation that will ultimately be edifying to the community, in the view of another long-time user, I don't think this thread is it. I don't like how often the mods are popping in to redirect and delete comments. I personally would prefer mods close threads of this nature over letting them drag on like this. If we don't want a fight, clear the ring and turn off the lights.

*I am now convinced the deletions were justified; as others pointed out, there's no rush and we could always revisit once the hubbub dies down.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:54 AM on June 16, 2015 [5 favorites]


I am really concerned that a comment I wrote pointing out that it seems like white liberal concerns are being centered over POC concerns seems to have been deleted.

I am pretty sure your comment was deleted for rehashing the argument from the deleted thread which we have been asked repeatedly not to do in this thread and that the mods have been policing pretty closely.

I'm really interested in the points you raised, but this is not the MeTa where they belong.
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:55 AM on June 16, 2015


Seymour Zamboni, partly because it was shift change and I was trying to catch up, and partly because it's a comment about how the rhetorical situation in the real world is inevitably going to bleed over to a discussion here.

corb, just don't open a discussion about whether "transracialism" is a good or bad frame for this whole thing. The point isn't (AT ALL) that we should ignore what POC are saying, in fact POC in the thread were objecting, the point is that the rhetorical miasma surrounding this case is polluted enough that we can't have a thread about it here right now without it being a horrible fight.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 7:55 AM on June 16, 2015


FFF: You deleted my post, taz, which did not pull quote that user. My post was the one saying that what she wrote was eloquent and topical, and beefing that you deleted the post from the user who did quote her.

If I have to guess, it was most likely deleted because it was spawned by a now-deleted comment. Just to keep things somewhat understandable. Not because any forbidden names were being named, or anything like that.
Of course, I may be wrong, but that was my interpretation.
posted by Too-Ticky at 7:57 AM on June 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


> I am really concerned that a comment I wrote pointing out that it seems like white liberal concerns are being centered over POC concerns seems to have been deleted.

Whose white liberal concerns? Which POC concerns? Plenty of both are in this thread saying can we not have this discussion now, here are reasons. I saw your deleted comment, by the way, and was going to respond since it seemed to be doing exactly what mods have asked people to not do in this thread, but I realized I was sitting in my car about to leave for work and I should just hit "play" on the audiobook I'm listening to and drive already.
posted by rtha at 8:06 AM on June 16, 2015 [12 favorites]


If I have to guess, it was most likely deleted because it was spawned by a now-deleted comment.

Now now, let's not go ascribing a deletion to a longstanding and well-enforced moderation guideline when there's a perfectly good conspiracy theory that could explain it.
posted by tocts at 8:07 AM on June 16, 2015 [15 favorites]


I am now convinced the deletions were justified; as others pointed out, there's no rush and we could always revisit once the hubbub dies down.

That topic cannot be discussed in the current site environment-- it's going to draw comparisons to transgender, a couple people will be more cavalier about it than is locally or even generally appropriate, and the thread will have to be deleted to preserve the mods' sanity.

We can't discuss it. The topic's never mellowing to that point and the site never getting back to that level of free discussion. The reality of that just struck me-- given the current economics, the discourse really can't open up. This is not something I can affect, and I've been Cuchulain fighting the tide this whole thread. I'm done.
posted by Mayor Curley at 8:11 AM on June 16, 2015 [5 favorites]


> So, what views are not acceptable on metafilter that should be acceptable?

Unanswerable question. Compare "What's the name of He-who-must-not-be-named?"
posted by jfuller at 8:12 AM on June 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


I've been Cuchulain fighting the tide this whole thread.

It's Canute
Cuchulainn was the dude whose body twisted up into Warp Spasms
he ruled
posted by Greg Nog at 8:12 AM on June 16, 2015 [22 favorites]


I'm just going to go ahead and favorite that comment so I can revisit it when we do discuss the topic, probably in just a few days.
posted by maxsparber at 8:13 AM on June 16, 2015 [4 favorites]


It wasn't spawned by the deleted comment, it was spawned by the deletion itself. I know I've seen other MeTa comments disagreeing with comment deletions in MeTa. I find it curious that mine was verboten, but it looks unlikely that I'll learn why.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:13 AM on June 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


That's simply not true. We've had plenty of interesting and awesome discussions about race and trans issues that have not devolved into a shit show. They just haven't been newsfilter.
posted by stoneweaver at 8:13 AM on June 16, 2015 [4 favorites]


The topic's never mellowing to that point and the site never getting back to that level of free discussion.

'Tis truly a dark day when one can no longer be openly transphobic. It was bad enough when one could no longer idly muse about the terrors lurking in our bathrooms or whether or not they were actually women. But this? This is madness!
posted by zombieflanders at 8:16 AM on June 16, 2015 [20 favorites]


Ok so if anyone has any viewpoints that they feel can't be discussed, memail me.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 8:18 AM on June 16, 2015


I dunno, I thought Cuchulainn was totally known for his mindless screaming battle rage and like, sucking his eyes into his skull as he shrieked in fury at every living thing that caught his attention. Sounds like a legit comparison.
posted by sciatrix at 8:19 AM on June 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


MisantropicPainforest, I find your comment... really alarming. "Tell me everything you disagree with the prevailing view about, right here, where you're not allowed to defend it."

Plus, it comes with the bonus implication that if your interlocutors don't do this, that they've admitted their contrarian views are "quotidian right-wing bigotry." After all, if the views in question weren't bigoted, why wouldn't they just post them?
posted by 4th number at 8:20 AM on June 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


I dunno, I thought Cuchulainn was totally known for his mindless screaming battle rage and like

Oh, now the anti-Irish bigotry comes out.

(Screams, sucks eyes into skull)
posted by maxsparber at 8:21 AM on June 16, 2015 [5 favorites]


I dunno, I thought Cuchulainn was totally known for his mindless screaming battle rage and like, sucking his eyes into his skull as he shrieked in fury at every living thing that caught his attention.

$20 to any Mefites that show up like this to a meetup.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:22 AM on June 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


Mayor Curley: “That topic cannot be discussed in the current site environment-- it's going to draw comparisons to transgender, a couple people will be more cavalier about it than is locally or even generally appropriate, and the thread will have to be deleted to preserve the mods' sanity. We can't discuss it. The topic's never mellowing to that point and the site never getting back to that level of free discussion. The reality of that just struck me-- given the current economics, the discourse really can't open up. This is not something I can affect, and I've been Cuchulain fighting the tide this whole thread. I'm done.”

It's nice that you've decided this, I guess, but nobody else has.

Meanwhile, if you really remembered those early heady days of Metafilter, you'd know what we would have done back then: we would have begged Matt to delete these posts because by our objective standards of the time they're just newsfilter posts about a thing that happened, thin veils on a wish to discuss things, rather than sharing something cool that someone found on the web. Metafilter is not for discussion! That is not the point of Metafilter! Metafilter is for sharing the best of the web! That's what we would have said back then.

I hate to say it, but there is some logic to that.
posted by koeselitz at 8:22 AM on June 16, 2015 [10 favorites]


Me in MetaTalk:
“The first warp-spasm seized Cúchulainn, and made him into a monstrous thing, hideous and shapeless, unheard of. His shanks and his joints, every knuckle and angle and organ from head to foot, shook like a tree in the flood or a reed in the stream. His body made a furious twist inside his skin, so that his feet and shins switched to the rear and his heels and calves switched to the front... On his head the temple-sinews stretched to the nape of his neck, each mighty, immense, measureless knob as big as the head of a month-old child... he sucked one eye so deep into his head that a wild crane couldn't probe it onto his cheek out of the depths of his skull; the other eye fell out along his cheek. His mouth weirdly distorted: his cheek peeled back from his jaws until the gullet appeared, his lungs and his liver flapped in his mouth and throat, his lower jaw struck the upper a lion-killing blow, and fiery flakes large as a ram's fleece reached his mouth from his throat... The hair of his head twisted like the tange of a red thornbush stuck in a gap; if a royal apple tree with all its kingly fruit were shaken above him, scarce an apple would reach the ground but each would be spiked on a bristle of his hair as it stood up on his scalp with rage.”
posted by Greg Nog at 8:23 AM on June 16, 2015 [6 favorites]


Now we're (I'm?) forbidden from quoting MetaFilter's own history. At least when that history is inconvenient for the (current) mods.

Well, I'm sure it'll be much more palatable to the mods when it's just my words and a link:
It's during times like this, watching MetaFilter become less brave, more insular, and less willing or able to test its ideals, that I am reminded of what was just about the last MetaFilter comment ever by *person I'm not allowed to name*:

link to the thoughtful and expressive comment with more than 150 favorites that I'm not allowed to quote

That was pretty much her exit message, so she's moved on, as have other valued members. Some of us, who loved what MetaFilter was, haven't managed to look away from the decline.
I hope that version is sufficiently diminished to fit into the small box of what is now allowed on MetaFilter.
posted by NortonDC at 8:24 AM on June 16, 2015 [19 favorites]


You know, there is actually a longstanding policy against digging through past comments to quote something said by somebody else as a gotcha to people in the thread. I've had comments deleted for doing so, which, as succulent as the gotcha might have been, I understood, and didn't behave as though I were somehow being oppressed or the site was now a shell of its former glory.
posted by maxsparber at 8:27 AM on June 16, 2015 [20 favorites]


I think we're now in MetaMetaMetaMetaTalk.
posted by Etrigan at 8:27 AM on June 16, 2015 [4 favorites]


Oh, now the anti-Irish bigotry comes out.

excuse you i am literally named Erin and have been forced to hold my hand to my heart and contemplate the majesty of Danny Boy at family events

what I am basically saying is that look, here is a tasty dog meat casserole in apology, you should have some as my guest
posted by sciatrix at 8:28 AM on June 16, 2015 [5 favorites]


Almost every day I wish select parts of that comment were true. Certainly every contentious MeTa.
posted by griphus at 8:29 AM on June 16, 2015


NortonDC, I think onlyconnect is great, and I hope she feels like she can come back. But in this case we're discussing here, this Dolezal situation, what does that quote mean -- do you disagree that this Dolezal thing would have been a huge hurtful fight, or do you just think we should allow threads like that to happen regardless?
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 8:30 AM on June 16, 2015


Wait a second. Did I just accidentally eat part of the Hound of Ulster?
posted by maxsparber at 8:30 AM on June 16, 2015 [5 favorites]


:D surprise
posted by sciatrix at 8:32 AM on June 16, 2015 [4 favorites]


Onlyconnect?
posted by jayder at 8:36 AM on June 16, 2015


That was pretty much her exit message

There are a lot more complications to that user's story than what she wrote in that message. She's not a terrific example of I think what you are trying to make her an example of.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 8:36 AM on June 16, 2015 [28 favorites]


Ha, nope I guess not onlyconnect! Sorry, this is my morning brain.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 8:38 AM on June 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


There are a lot more complications to that user's story than what she wrote in that message. She's not a terrific example of I think what you are trying to make her an example of.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 8:36 AM on June 16 [+] [!]


Vague allusions to "other problems" someone had, based on one's "inside information," can be considered libelous.
posted by jayder at 8:38 AM on June 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


You don't need to have had inside information, though, to know that was true. Some of us were here, and we remember (like I said before in my comment that got deleted).
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:40 AM on June 16, 2015 [12 favorites]


And I say that not to suggest you are actually committing libel, since that user's real name is not known, but just to say it's profoundly tacky in this context.
posted by jayder at 8:40 AM on June 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


Oh cool have we reached the "order" part of Law & Order: MFU?
posted by griphus at 8:41 AM on June 16, 2015 [13 favorites]


Everybody knows it's been all over the media, cribcage, and nobody has disputed that. That's neither here nor there in terms of the reasoning for the deletions...

This thread hasn't been solely about the deletions. It has been, in large part, about how a conversation about Rachel Dolezal should be conducted on MetaFilter. If Justinian's comment was deleted because it wasn't narrowly relevant to why specific threads were deleted...I think that's still tough to defend, and you'd have to nuke two-thirds of this discussion—including, most pointedly, the comment just defended as being "about how the rhetorical situation in the real world is inevitably going to bleed over to a discussion here."

You don't want to discuss certain aspects of this story. Fine. Say that. You have made a decision already, and therefore you deleted a comment because it stokes fire for no constructive purpose. Otherwise we're talking about how a thread would be conducted, and quite a few people have argued that X or Y or Z shouldn't be part of that thread for various reasons, and yes, it is relevant for someone to point out how those aspects continue to be part of the story that we either are or aren't going to have a thread about.

It is disingenuous to claim otherwise. It is also disingenuous to revise the objection to say that, okay, maybe Justinian's comment was relevant, but it was redundant because we already knew it. Many comments in this thread are redundant. You aren't actually deleting based on redundancy, or relevance. You are applying different standards, and therefore the effect, intended or not, is that you're deleting—and chastising for snark and civility in some instances but not others—based on orthodoxy.

Yes, MetaFilter used to be much worse in a lot of ways. The cruelest MeTa threads from ten years ago would never happen today, and that's awesome. But it's delusion and revisionism to pretend that was achieved solely through edification. It's also due to the site progressively, pun intended, narrowing its range of allowable dissent. And increasingly, that has become what's moderated.
posted by cribcage at 8:41 AM on June 16, 2015 [19 favorites]


NortonDC: “I hope that version is sufficiently diminished to fit into the small box of what is now allowed on MetaFilter.”

It's nice that you think you can speak for someone who isn't likely to speak up for themselves, and use their comments as weapons, making the rest of us look like assholes if we disagree. That's stupendous. Just like jayder's jaded reference to some previous members who left, which presumes to speak for them and offer their departure up as definitive evidence that jayder is correct. This stuff is utterly unfair as rhetorical playacting, and you should know it.

If you believe something, have the force of will to actually argue for it, rather than using people who aren't here as smokescreens for your ideas.

jayder: “Vague allusions to ‘other problems’ someone had, based on one's ‘inside information,’ can be considered libelous.”

As can an attempt to force someone who isn't here to speak for your side of things.
posted by koeselitz at 8:41 AM on June 16, 2015 [18 favorites]


why do you think jessamyn was referring to inside information? cairdeas's interaction with the site is in our searchable history - no insider information needed.
posted by nadawi at 8:42 AM on June 16, 2015 [8 favorites]


I'm sorry for not deleting that comment earlier, due to misidentifying the person he was quoting. Maybe let's leave it at this point? This isn't about cairdeas and let's not make it be about her.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 8:42 AM on June 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


To be clear, it has never been site practice to delete things in Metatalk mentioning users who are not participating. If you think about it, it can't be: Metatalk is where you go to complain about behavior on the rest of the site! The mods would have to delete every callout!

So I still think that was a weird deletion.
posted by anotherpanacea at 8:42 AM on June 16, 2015 [6 favorites]


jayder: “And I say that not to suggest you are actually committing libel, since that user's real name is not known, but just to say it's profoundly tacky in this context.”

'When I bring up departed members who aren't going to speak for themselves in the conversation, and use them as a cast of puppets who agree with my point of view, it's profoundly tacky for you to protest that they weren't necessarily saying what I want them to be saying. Profoundly tacky!'
posted by koeselitz at 8:45 AM on June 16, 2015 [22 favorites]


it has long been site practice to discourage, up to and including deletion, trawling through user histories, especially users who no longer participate on the site, to post comments as gotchas.
posted by nadawi at 8:45 AM on June 16, 2015 [6 favorites]


For those of you insisting that the Dolezal story isn't just a weird-edge-case-turned-media-shitstorm-of-the-now and that it actually raises a bunch of substantive issues worth discussing, why can't you just make a new post about those issues *without* referencing Dolezal? Then you can have the discussion you want to have without it being pre-poisoned by all the extra crap specific to the Dolezal story.
posted by Jacqueline at 8:46 AM on June 16, 2015 [5 favorites]


just to say it's profoundly tacky in this context.

I don't know anything about that user's real life identity. Dropping the derail per LM's request.

it has never been site practice to delete things in Metatalk mentioning users who are not participating

Not exactly. Bringing up banned/buttoned users is often one of those "Lets not do this here" situations sometimes including comment deletions. Similarly what nadawi said, dossier-assembling is usually not okay.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 8:47 AM on June 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm sorry, jessamyn, but I'm confused. I mean, I could go through YOUR history and find you doing exactly that! You and I have both participated in such discussions in the last year, even after you stepped down as mod.

That said, I don't think we need to fight over it, but the things you're saying seem false to me and kind of confusing to boot. Perhaps this is a part of the new policy changes we discussed recently that I didn't catch?
posted by anotherpanacea at 8:52 AM on June 16, 2015


I dunno, I thought Cuchulainn was totally known for his mindless screaming battle rage and like, sucking his eyes into his skull as he shrieked in fury at every living thing that caught his attention.

$20 to any Mefites that show up like this to a meetup.


Have a meetup at my place thirty seconds after I wake up.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:53 AM on June 16, 2015 [10 favorites]


To be clear, it has never been site practice to delete things in Metatalk mentioning users who are not participating.

Mentioning, no, but AFAIK quoting or linking threads that aren't under discussion has never been allowed.

why do you think jessamyn was referring to inside information? cairdeas's interaction with the site is in our searchable history - no insider information needed.

Exactly. And it's kind of odd that that thread keeps on getting brought up, because that's where another member lied to the mods in order to create a sockpuppet and break site rules just to be hostile towards trans members. A bunch of other posters thought it would be a great idea to jump on board with that bit of horror, and as a result a good chunk of MeFi's trans members left the site.

Which, I feel inclined to note, should answer the question posed upthread about "How are [certain users] under siege here?" That was a prime example.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:54 AM on June 16, 2015 [21 favorites]


just because you might find some evidence of something being done doesn't mean the practice isn't discouraged. lots of discouraged things can slip through due to the nature of fuzzy moderation.
posted by nadawi at 8:54 AM on June 16, 2015


Yeah, it's been the case for a long time that we don't want people to get into digging through user histories or invoking people who aren't here anymore, because it just takes threads in a needlessly personal direction. It's not enforced with perfect consistency and what's a problem varies a lot depending the exact circumstances.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 8:55 AM on June 16, 2015


I'm glad to see that she-who-must-not-be-named is now quotable without deletion. Because I think what she wrote is cogent and relevant to the issue at hand. I don't think there's anything to be gained by insisting that people rewrite her words to serve the same purpose, when her words are already available.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:57 AM on June 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


Okay. Like I said, I don't want to fight about it with you excellent folks.

That said, it does raise difficulties in thinking about how to discuss site history. Right now we 're talking about losing trans members to insufficient moderation. Yet we can't link to the relevant threads or mention names? Our recent discussion (I won't link) of quicker response by the moderators really inspired me when I discovered that four very troublesome posters had been banned around the time that Matt left. I hadn't known that but it was awesome. And of course when we are discussing a user's potentially troublesome relationship to the site it seems like only comment history could be relevant!

In any case, I'm not sure what this really means. Increased deletions in Metatalk put users in the weird position of having no public recourse on some kinds of issues. But perhaps that's for the best.
posted by anotherpanacea at 9:03 AM on June 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


If your takeaway from this is that "controversial" or "unorthodox" topics cannot be discussed any longer, or that the deletion stems from a preemptive desire to "protect" the "fragile" from "discomfort," I think you really need to look harder at the discussions in question, at older MeFi threads and at the thoughts you're sanitizing as "unorthodox" or feelings you're misinterpreting as "discomfort." There absolutely are some positions which are not reasonable or okay to discuss, and that's fine--nothing of value is lost in taking them off the table.

I think the best way to frame a future hypothetical Dolezal post would be to focus exclusively on essays written by black and other people of color and allies and activists there, excise the trans angle entirely and include links about other cases of racial appropriation, colorism, mixed race families, social constructions around race, whatever else that's actually relevant. Even then, though, it will probably be difficult to steer the discussion away from, "look at this freak," "so this is just like transness for blackness right," and "as a white dude, let me tell you how this makes me feel" types of comments that are more -101 than 101. Given more recent developments and the way that media have utterly failed to not make this into a freakshow, it may actually not be possible to have a civil discussion about Dolezal on the site, ever. That sucks, but whatever. Somehow we will find a way to carry on.

Also this isn't really polite or germane or relevant to the original topic and I would like to see it just dropped but if people are going to keep holding her up as a brave iconclastic example of the good old days, I have to say we're better off without cairdeas, frankly.
posted by byanyothername at 9:04 AM on June 16, 2015 [13 favorites]


People can have their opinions on cairdeas but again really this isn't about her, and the way to make it not about her is to not make it about her.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 9:06 AM on June 16, 2015 [5 favorites]


Gygesringtone: To be clear here, you're conflating your discomfort at being expected to give the same basic consideration of other people that you do in real life (don't say things that obviously upset the person you're talking to) to people online, with the reaction of people who are reading arguments here that are similar to those that are used to justify all sorts of horrible behavior towards them in real life, including physical violence and rape.

This strikes me as the heart of the matter, and a reasonable topic for discussion. Is the standard for deletion or acceptable discourse on metafilter that if you wouldn't have the conversation with a member of the most vulnerable population in real life you shouldn't have it on metafilter, or should it be?

Metafilter has thousands of active users. It is a discussion with a small town. It is not a conversation with a friend or small group of friends.

Everyone here has a circle of friends and acquaintances. There is some diversity in that circle, there are things you would say differently to some than to others. Topics you would broach with some and not others to avoid upsetting them. This might be because of your views on the topic, or the topic itself. With some friends you could talk about suicide, with others you wouldn't perhaps because they had a recent painful experience. By limiting the discussion on metafilter to a discussion you'd be happy to have with your entire circle together, you narrow the scope of discussion significantly.

That narrowing is not necessarily good or bad, and I think is a reasonable thing to discuss. There is no magic place where everyone is going to be happy, but I don't think people on either side of trying to push metafilter's line one way or the other are out of line.
posted by pseudonick at 9:08 AM on June 16, 2015 [4 favorites]


People can have their opinions on cairdeas but again really this isn't about her, and the way to make it not about her is to not make it about her.

Yeah, and it seems really odd to have a specific discussion about a specific deletion and then come in and say, hey, this one person said something general one time and we should all ponder that.

I mean, if you want to open a thread about how MetaFilter has changed in general, sure, it might be valuable. But here it comes off as people hijacking this specific thread to turn it into their hobbyhorse about how this site is less free.
posted by maxsparber at 9:09 AM on June 16, 2015 [8 favorites]


Just to be clear, LM, you and byanothername are violating the policy of mentioning users who are no longer members. Which would be fine, except that when everyone else did it you deleted their comments.
posted by anotherpanacea at 9:11 AM on June 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


I fucked up by not deleting that comment earlier and this whole derail is a consequence, and I'm trying not to delete comments that people are posting as a consequence of my fuckup. That is what you're seeing. I am asking people to drop the cairdeas thing please.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 9:12 AM on June 16, 2015 [12 favorites]


This might be because of your views on the topic, or the topic itself. With some friends you could talk about suicide, with others you wouldn't perhaps because they had a recent painful experience. By limiting the discussion on metafilter to a discussion you'd be happy to have with your entire circle together, you narrow the scope of discussion significantly.

Except, on metafilter we can have topics on suicide. We can't, or I suspect we can't, have people be assholes about suicide. If you don't know what Im talking about, read any other comment section on the internet about suicide.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 9:15 AM on June 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


Just to be clear, LM, you and byanothername are violating the policy of mentioning users who are no longer members. Which would be fine, except that when everyone else did it you deleted their comments.

ברוך אתה ה ' אלוהינו , מלך העולם , שלא עשני לימנחה אינטרנט
posted by zarq at 9:23 AM on June 16, 2015 [12 favorites]


Just as a quick clarification, comments have been rolling in fast and furious and when the shift changes, the new person has to try to catch up on what's been posted for however many hours they've been off-duty (in this case, around 8 hours; which is barely time to wind down at all and sleep, much less have a caffeined beverage and read all of the hundreds of comments that have been posted in the meantime), and while we usually try to give each other a pretty good picture of the status at hand-off, it's hard to do with a ton of comments and flags rushing in, so LM didn't so much "fuck up" as just wasn't 100% superhuman.
posted by taz (staff) at 9:24 AM on June 16, 2015 [38 favorites]


max: Or to see both sides, hijacking this specific thread to turn it into their hobbyhorse about how this site should be less free.
posted by biffa at 9:24 AM on June 16, 2015


Sure zarq, of course LM can do it. But she also left byanyothername's shitty "We're better off without X, frankly."

Which was a kind of shitty parting shot to have left with all the other stuff deleted.
posted by anotherpanacea at 9:25 AM on June 16, 2015 [4 favorites]


We've had some pretty terrible threads on suicide that resulted in me personally closing the Internet and going for a long rage-run.

Some viewpoints which have been expressed in those threads got several threads deleted, so it's a good example, just not for the pint you wanted to make.

Also I don't think people realize how insulting it is to our trans members to talk about how they want to have discussions about their issues here rather than elsewhere. It prioritizes your comfort and convenience for consuming data over their safety and emotional wellbeing and turns them into unpaid teachers, which is crappy. The Internet is vast and contains multitudes of educational resources that aren't the equivalent of demanding free labor from people who get insulted and sneered at for the generous amount of education they're already doing here unpaid.
posted by winna at 9:28 AM on June 16, 2015 [14 favorites]


I don't know if it's useful to point this out, but if language/rhetoric issues are on the table (I didn't know some things could be explored until LobsterMitten explained why zarq's comment survived), I feel like there is a language/rhetoric available for talking about some claims in this case that at least has the merit of not having ticked too many people off yet.

I'm thinking of phrases like "ethnic/racial mobility," "race as an achieved rather than an ascribed status," and "achieved ethnic/racial identity," which actually are things in the world. "Racial passing" also seems relevant, but the more general terms have been used elsewhere in the past to describe non-passing circumstances like buying a license to be white or taking on a new ethnic identity by really committing yourself to it. Neologisms based on particular ethnicities / racial statuses also occur in the ethnographic literature, e.g. that second study offers "Fulbeization" and this one about becoming ladino by virtue of being rejected by other indigenous groups offers "ladinoization."

Please understand that I'm not encouraging any line of argument. The "false analogy barrier" seems very high even in these terms, and I think it would be especially problematic to tell members of any historically oppressed group you don't belong to that they should accept any of the foregoing terms as analogues to the realities they cope with or want to cope with in the future. "Race in the US" is obviously its own thing. There just happens to be a language and a literature for the alternatives that I think hasn't been too controversial previously (personally, I'm cribbing it from a popular anthropology 101 textbook that's been in widespread use for almost 30 years, and poking around in the current edition's table of contents, it seems to still be there).

Also, at the end, I'm still not sure if I've crossed a line the mods are trying to hold in this thread, and if deleting it is helpful to keeping this thread on track, I'm all for it.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 9:29 AM on June 16, 2015 [5 favorites]


anotherpanacea: “Right now we 're talking about losing trans members to insufficient moderation. Yet we can't link to the relevant threads or mention names?”

Well – this thread (and discussion) isn't really about "losing trans members to insufficient moderation." It's about whether moderation is too heavy-handed. In an ancillary way, I guess, the response to that is that less moderation would be insufficient and would lead to the departure of trans members – or perhaps that some trans members have left because the moderation here isn't strong enough – but these are sort of side-issues. And unless I'm mistaken, no departed trans members have been quoted or named in this discussion. Thus far, departed members have been named and quoted exclusively by those arguing that moderation here is too heavy-handed.

Aside from that – I agree that it's generally a bad idea to be naming names and quoting comments from departed members. And I don't really care whose side they're on. Take the example you mention, of a trans member who left because they said that there's insufficient moderation here: the thing about people leaving Metafilter is that they aren't part of the conversation anymore, they aren't necessarily keeping up with developments, and so it's unfair to quote them as though their words apply directly to a given situation when they don't necessarily. If User X thought a year ago that moderation here was insufficient, would they feel the same way now? Or would they feel differently? A lot has changed on Metafilter over the past year – probably more than ever before. We really don't know what this person or that person thinks now, and it's a point of courtesy to let them be and just have a discussion among the people who are actually present.

Besides that, I don't think it serves any purpose. No one departed member speaks for all. The most they can ever be in a conversation they aren't present for is a data point – and if we really wanted to tally up data points, we'd have to do things like headcounts. I don't think that's even really feasible, largely because of the variation in departures and departure reasons.
posted by koeselitz at 9:30 AM on June 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


anotherpanacea, To clarify, the comment I made is a bastardization of a Jewish prayer. It's the closest approximation I could come up with to "Blessed art thou, Oh Lord our G-d, for not making me a moderator on the internet."

It's an admittedly obscure comment about what LM must be going through this morning, having to moderate this thread. Not meant to be an actual serious response to your comment.
posted by zarq at 9:32 AM on June 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


Or to see both sides, hijacking this specific thread to turn it into their hobbyhorse about how this site should be less free.

There shouldn't be an argument as to who has the more valid viewpoints between "Internet Contrarians" or "Trans People."
posted by zombieflanders at 9:35 AM on June 16, 2015 [19 favorites]


Or to see both sides, hijacking this specific thread to turn it into their hobbyhorse about how this site should be less free.

...less free to spew out rampant bigotry, you mean. This is the very definition of false equivalency.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:38 AM on June 16, 2015 [6 favorites]


And, to be clear, the argument really seems to be "Remember 15 years ago, when we weren't allowed to be antisemitic or racist without getting deleted! How the world has changed -- now we can't be sexist or transphobic either! This site now sucks!"

I mean, really, all that has happened is that longstanding moderation policies have expanded based on the needs of an increasingly diverse user base. But, good lord, you shrink someone's privilege down the width of a hair and they will holler.
posted by maxsparber at 9:38 AM on June 16, 2015 [31 favorites]


Just as a quick clarification, comments have been rolling in fast and furious and when the shift changes, the new person has to try to catch up on what's been posted for however many hours they've been off-duty (in this case, around 8 hours; which is barely time to wind down at all and sleep, much less have a caffeined beverage and read all of the hundreds of comments that have been posted in the meantime), and while we usually try to give each other a pretty good picture of the status at hand-off, it's hard to do with a ton of comments and flags rushing in, so LM didn't so much "fuck up" as just wasn't 100% superhuman.

This is a derail and probably deserves its own meta, but this seems to be a pretty strong argument against the recent increase of moderation in meta.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 9:41 AM on June 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


Or to see both sides, hijacking this specific thread to turn it into their hobbyhorse about how this site should be less free.

Oh noes, people are being intolerant of your intolerance! Don't they understand that logically that makes them as bad as you are?!?
posted by tocts at 9:42 AM on June 16, 2015 [9 favorites]


It BLOWS MY MIND that anyone can look at the official pushback against hostility towards members who are women, who are trans, who are gay, who are people of color -- hostility which is severe and pervasive enough to chase those members away, causing us to lose their voices and perspectives -- and label that a "narrowing."
posted by KathrynT at 9:42 AM on June 16, 2015 [35 favorites]


this seems to be a pretty strong argument against the recent increase of moderation in meta.

Sure. Just as every fumble ever is an argument against doing anything anywhere.
posted by maxsparber at 9:42 AM on June 16, 2015 [6 favorites]


This is a derail and probably deserves its own meta, but this seems to be a pretty strong argument against the recent increase of moderation in meta.

No, it doesn't.
posted by jaguar at 9:44 AM on June 16, 2015 [14 favorites]


Is the standard for deletion or acceptable discourse on metafilter that if you wouldn't have the conversation with a member of the most vulnerable population in real life you shouldn't have it on metafilter, or should it be?

That'd be a horrible standard, for one thing people are just as likely to be bigots in person as they are to be bigots on the internet. Hell, my whole point was that transphobic rhetoric is used by people who are so horribly bigoted they actually think violence (physical and verbal) is o.k. towards trans people just because they're trans people.

I get what you're saying, but I don't think it's that big of a shades of grey area to say "you shouldn't be allowed to parrot ideas that are widely used to hurt and discriminate against people".
posted by Gygesringtone at 9:44 AM on June 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


Just to clarify, it seems like the mods are robbing Peter to pay Paul so to speak. Historically meta has been a release valve which took pressure off the moderation duties on the blue. Now it seems that too much mod time is being spent here on the grey at the expense(?) of the blue. Anyways, I guess someone just needs to make a meta specifically about this topic if we want to discuss it. *drops derail
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 9:45 AM on June 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


I got the joke, zarq. :-)

Besides that, I don't think it serves any purpose. No one departed member speaks for all.

koeslitz, I'm just reporting my own experience here, but the revelations around those trans members departures mattered a lot to me, in aggregate if not individually. One thing I've seen NortonDC pointing to a lot is a list of female members, feminists all, who don't feel comfortable with some of the changes in tone. I don't want to put words in their mouth and I suspect neither does he, which is why he doesn't paraphrase but rather quotes. But if there's a group of women who don't feel comfortable here, it might be because they are older-school feminists (sometimes called TERFs), or because they don't like the emphasis on women's victimhood when the internet is a relatively safe space when it comes to embodied harms, or because their other subject positions make them relatively immune to attacks on women (professional women are often quite good at resisting sexism, because they have had to be, and they impute that toughness to others) or other things like that.

It's certainly happened a bit lately, and I think it represents a part of the internet making their way onto Metafilter that is new and interesting: the Twitter/Tumblr folks who work on race, gender, sex, and sexuality. The callout culture: there are broad critiques and attacks coming to Metatalk from relatively new members, and lots of snark. I call it interesting, but of course it frustrates others.

We need never really discuss those developments. I find myself pretty frustrated by the way the discussion is often reduced to sides that almost self-identify as these broad caricatures of "free speech warriors" and "social justice warriors." But perhaps we could find a way to discuss how Metafilter is changing (and it is, and I personally like that) someday without those stereotypes.
posted by anotherpanacea at 9:46 AM on June 16, 2015 [5 favorites]


TERFs feeling uncomfortable because they can't spew their TERF-turds is about as okay as any other transphobe feeling uncomfortable, I feel.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:48 AM on June 16, 2015 [23 favorites]


Historically meta has been a release valve which took pressure off the moderation duties on the blue. Now it seems that too much mod time is being spent here on the grey at the expense(?) of the blue.

That's a perfectly good reason to find a way to either increase mod resources or not worry about the users who are angsting over the good ol' days of free-wheelin' debate over "hitting that" and "ladyboys," rather than the opposite.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:49 AM on June 16, 2015 [4 favorites]


> older-school feminists (sometimes called TERFs)

These are really not the same thing. Conflating them is not helpful. It's unhelpful in that way that the NYT framing the discussion around Caitlyn Jenner as "feminists vs transgender women."
posted by rtha at 9:51 AM on June 16, 2015 [49 favorites]


That's a perfectly good reason to find a way to either increase mod resources

That would be optimal, but I seem to remember the mods clearly stating that this is off the table for the near future barring some massive influx of cash which would allow the hiring of more mods.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 9:57 AM on June 16, 2015


Really? I see that equation quite commonly. Lots of unrepentant 2nd wave "essentialist" feminists get called TERFs on the internet. (A colleague of mine often rails against the number of contemporary feminist scholars who are real-live TERFs in their scholarship and never get called on it.) It seems like a pretty common problem, sadly.

Or is your point that TERF is itself an offensive term?
posted by anotherpanacea at 9:58 AM on June 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


So then the logical solution is to give zero fucks about whiny entitled babies whining that they can't be bigots as much as they used to be.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:58 AM on June 16, 2015


That would be optimal, but I seem to remember the mods clearly stating that this is off the table for the near future barring some massive influx of cash which would allow the hiring of more mods.

How about we let the mods worry about site finances and scheduling, instead of attempting to use that as a cudgel to argue that we just can't afford a site where we treat marginalized groups as human beings?
posted by tocts at 9:59 AM on June 16, 2015 [12 favorites]


yes really - there are a lot of older feminists who aren't terfs and there are plenty of young feminists who are terfs. this isn't an age issue.
posted by nadawi at 10:00 AM on June 16, 2015 [31 favorites]


I do find the comment deletions here in MetaTalk a bit disturbing. My impression has always been that, since MetaTalk was where we hashed out site policy issues, different rules applied here. Personal insults would get deleted, but aside from that, I thought that MeTa moderation mainly consisted of stern warnings in-thread if people were doing inappropriate things (such as using a MeTa thread as a proxy for a MeFi thread that was deleted). Maybe those were followed by deletions (perhaps accompanied by a timeout) for individuals who repeatedly ignored the stern in-thread warnings, but I thought that deletion was generally not the first response. Did I misunderstand MeTa moderation policy, or has policy changed in that regard?
posted by klausness at 10:02 AM on June 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


Nthing the fact that TERFs are not simply 'older-school' feminists.
posted by winna at 10:03 AM on June 16, 2015 [9 favorites]


there are a lot of older feminists who aren't terfs and there are plenty of young feminists who are terfs. this isn't an age issue.

Okay, that's totally fair. I find the wave/generational story pretty useful but of course it's an imputed narrative of order and directionality that is trying to overlay a lot of people many of whom are not identifiably making theoretical progress in that way. It makes a lot of sense culturally, though!
posted by anotherpanacea at 10:03 AM on June 16, 2015


Or is your point that TERF is itself an offensive term?

I'm not rtha, but I think the point is that there are old-school feminists and second-wave feminists and even radical feminists who are not trans-exclusionary. TERFs are one discrete population among feminists, but they do not represent even close to the entirety of feminism, which is why framing a discussion in terms of "feminists vs. Caitlyn Jenner" is unhelpful.

On preview: what nadawi and winna said.
posted by bakerina at 10:04 AM on June 16, 2015 [15 favorites]


this thread (and discussion) isn't really about "losing trans members to insufficient moderation." It's about whether moderation is too heavy-handed.

This thread ESPECIALLY shouldn't be about 'losing trans members to insufficient moderation' given that the Dolezal case has jack fucking all to do with transgender individuals. I am just enormously upset that this thread is being nuked from orbit because it might offend a group that isn't even involved in the situation.
posted by corb at 10:06 AM on June 16, 2015 [7 favorites]


So then the logical solution is to give zero fucks about whiny entitled babies whining that they can't be bigots as much as they used to be.

How about we let the mods worry about site finances and scheduling, instead of attempting to use that as a cudgel to argue that we just can't afford a site where we treat marginalized groups as human beings?

Not what I am saying, but please continue to spew ignorant vitriol apparently being more interested in scoring points and showing street cred rather than having a substantive discussion. I am done with this as I have stated before it is a derail so I am now dropping it...for real this time. I agree with the recent changes in moderation style, but really loathe the ridiculous posturing and really childish behavior exhibited by my supposed allies. Responding to bigotry with more bigotry seems to be wrongheaded, but what do I know.

I do find the comment deletions here in MetaTalk a bit disturbing

Yes, me too, but I am now sorry I brought it up now. It is taking away from the actual topic of the meta. I request that everyone just ignore my comments on this topic, and when I get home tonight I will try and craft a meta that addresses this specific issue so that we don't take away from the very important discussion we are having here.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 10:07 AM on June 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


Even then, though, it will probably be difficult to steer the discussion away from, "look at this freak," "so this is just like transness for blackness right," and "as a white dude, let me tell you how this makes me feel" types of comments that are more -101 than 101. Given more recent developments and the way that media have utterly failed to not make this into a freakshow, it may actually not be possible to have a civil discussion about Dolezal on the site, ever.

I think this is key to the problem. If the expectation, commonly expressed in sentiments such as these, that a general under-grad university student level is not sufficient to handle these discussions, then then there's a pile of things that should be delete-on-sight. That's been the bar for practical participation on the site since its founding---a slice of interested, generalist folks who can talk at around that level.

In most cases, that's why most of us are here. There are norms for the level of detail, assumed education and ability to engage in conversation. When I write on technical issues here, I write at what I think of as the Scientific American level (or at least the SciAm level I remember prior to great dumbening in the 2000s), while on Reddit, for example, I have to write at a lower level of base knowledge and argument-following, a newspaper level, assuming only mid-HS.

If the bar has been pushed higher, and higher in social issues threads particularly, if the level of a tenured professors or a graduate student isn't good enough (though I think that's a bit hyperbolic), then such conversations cannot and should not happen here. There is not, nor will there ever be a critical mass of such folks visiting this site, and we will always end in strife.

It's fine to expect commenters to have a clue (see site norms above). I'm not talking about bad faith comments either. However I don't think it's productive to expect an elevated level of knowledge for metafilter commenters on topics relevant to race, gender or what have you. Multi-level and specialist discourse does happen in most threads on the site where we have members that have domain knowledge, however, not at the cost or exclusion of the general population of the site.

So complaining about "types of comments that are more -101 than 101" goes against the grain for me. The norm for what can be expected from the average mefite hasn't seem to have changed a lot in the last 15 years. If that is now a problem, if people being less than knowledgeable about a subject is problematic for discussion, then those discussions should be struck down, but I think that would be a loss to the site culture.
posted by bonehead at 10:07 AM on June 16, 2015 [11 favorites]


The entire point of the term "TERF" is to distinguish "radical feminist" or "2nd-wave feminist" from "feminist who believes that trans women are not really women." That's literally what the acronym stands for--it was devised in order to be able to talk about radical feminists and trans exclusivity without tarring all radical feminists with the same brush, since radical feminists are a tradition of feminism which historically have had a lot of issues with transphobia and were being associated in the minds of many people with transphobia. TERF is intended to draw a distinction and make communication clearer.
posted by sciatrix at 10:07 AM on June 16, 2015 [30 favorites]


Couple of comments deleted; "fee fees" is pretty much never a good way to engage with people, regardless of what side it's coming from.

When the layoffs first happened, Matt said we would be deleting things/timeouting more quickly. We've tried not to do that, as much as possible, but as taz says, if a thread is going to require 24/7 comment-by-comment modding to avoid turning into a terrible fight, that's a thread that's going to face a good chance of being deleted. Ditto for MetaTalk, more in the last year-six months, that we're trying to keep things more on track (less tolerance for personal stuff, less tolerance for rehashing the argument from the thread) in here and make it a little less anything-goes.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 10:08 AM on June 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


corb: Have you missed all the discussion of the story elsewhere on the internet? Because even though it shouldn't have anything to do with trans people, a ton of anti-trans people are working very hard to make it about them.
posted by Jacqueline at 10:09 AM on June 16, 2015 [13 favorites]


Corb, the situation has jack-all to do with trans individuals, I agree. EXCEPT that a bunch of (cis) people REALLY, really, really wanted to make it about trans individuals here on Metafilter. The wider discussion of the case has absolutely tried to create some kind of gross parallel with trans individuals. So whether or not the case itself has any relevance to trans issues (which it does not), the discussion that ensued ended up being extremely transphobic and hostile.
posted by KathrynT at 10:09 AM on June 16, 2015 [19 favorites]


I am just enormously upset that this thread is being nuked from orbit because it might offend a group that isn't even involved in the situation.

Yes, which is why it was so shitty that people wouldn't let go of that transphobic derail in the original thread, which is a large reason why the thread just wasn't going very well.
posted by maxsparber at 10:11 AM on June 16, 2015 [16 favorites]


Right, but if people are trying to bring transgender individuals into a situation which is absolutely not fucking about them, we already have a solution for that. I mean, mods seem to be able to delete stuff from MeTa, it's not like their powers just evaporate on the blue. It'd be pretty easy to put a mod note in the thread and say "Hey, we're not talking about transgender individuals in here, if you mention transgender folk, your comment will be deleted, you will get a timeout if you do it repeatedly, now move on."
posted by corb at 10:13 AM on June 16, 2015 [13 favorites]


(Parenthetically: there are probably a higher proportion of older feminists who are TERFs than younger feminists, but there are significant older feminists (Judith Butler, for example) who have been very public with their criticism of TERFs. "TERF" itself is intended to be a term which covers all trans excluding radical feminists precisely to avoid generational problems of this nature. Also, at this point there are "older" feminists who were first active in the early seventies (Gloria Steinem, Susan Brownmiller, etc); "older" feminists who have been active since the eighties (bell hooks, Judith Butler, Cherrie Moraga, etc) and now even (alas) "older" feminists of my generation who are in their mid thirties to mid forties who started being active in the nineties (Naomi Woolf, Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, etc). It's much easier to group women who share concerns than to go with generations, because the generations themselves are not very coherent.)
posted by Frowner at 10:13 AM on June 16, 2015 [13 favorites]


I'm not rtha, but I think the point is that there are old-school feminists and second-wave feminists and even radical feminists who are not trans-exclusionary.

My read is that there are no post-Judith Butler feminists doing scholarship on this issue who could be described as TERFs. (The two names that often come up in this context are Irigarary and Grosz.) I read articles in this area but don't publish scholarship on it myself, but this has been confirmed by a colleague who does. That's why I ascribe this to some "older-school" feminists. If you went to graduate school after Butler, it's basically impossible to succeed as a TERF. That's not to say that there aren't activists and ordinary folks who could still be labeled in this way, but it's just not an acceptable position among young scholars.
posted by anotherpanacea at 10:14 AM on June 16, 2015


Somebody pointed this out above, but I think it's worth saying again: there are interesting things to say and discuss about "passing" in the modern world, about people who (through necessity or vanity) pretend to be of another race. It wouldn't be impossible to make a post about that, and the moderators certainly haven't forbidden it from happening. It might even mention Rachel Dolezal. It just needs to not be about that one single person exclusively, for various practical reasons.
posted by koeselitz at 10:15 AM on June 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


Right, but if people are trying to bring transgender individuals into a situation which is absolutely not fucking about them, we already have a solution for that

Sure, but that doesn't solve the larger issue with those threads, which was, at that moment, the timing of it made them just crass speculation. There were very little facts to work with, and so it wound up being a useless mix of outragefilter and newsfilter, which both have a long history of being deleted on this site.
posted by maxsparber at 10:16 AM on June 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


TERF is pretty much one of those labels from opposition terms like SJW right? Do any groups self-identify that way primarily or is it just generally used as a smear?
posted by bonehead at 10:16 AM on June 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


corb, it's the way the conversation is happening in the larger world. Take your complaint to them.

Any thread on this right now is going to go that way, because -- as I said in my first comment here -- people are primed to bring that in, from having spent 2 minutes with the nightly news or whatever. Person A who has no opinions at all about trans people is going to bring it in, and have no idea that it's offensive, or will ask why it can't be discussed, and then Person B will get upset understandably, and Person A will feel defensive and push back, and we're off to the races. It's not possible to discuss it on a generalist public site without this happening right now. It will require mods sitting in the thread deleting things every time a new person comes in, and then it will spawn a protest MetaTalk and then we'll be watching two angry threads. That is why we deleted it.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 10:16 AM on June 16, 2015 [19 favorites]


That said, my read from the internet is that there are informal traditions of TERFs in discourse outside of academia. Given that social justice in academia has been known to lift from internet discourse, and given that we need a term to describe feminists who may or may not be academics, I'm okay with reiterating that there are indeed young feminists whose tradition of feminism is trans-exclusionary and who are therefore TERFs.
posted by sciatrix at 10:17 AM on June 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


My read is that there are no post-Judith Butler feminists doing scholarship on this issue who could be described as TERFs. (The two names that often come up in this context are Irigarary and Grosz.)

At the risk of getting into a derail, this is not true - I can think of at least a handful of feminist academics (not the big names, but published and tenured/tenure-track) who are late thirties/mid-forties and TERFs. They don't make a big deal out of it, but if you read their blogs, you can get some nasty surprises. I think it's difficult to succeed as a feminist academic by focusing your scholarship around trans exclusion, but that does not mean that the position itself is no longer held.
posted by Frowner at 10:17 AM on June 16, 2015 [11 favorites]


It'd be pretty easy to put a mod note in the thread and say "Hey, we're not talking about transgender individuals in here, if you mention transgender folk, your comment will be deleted, you will get a timeout if you do it repeatedly, now move on."

I definitely think that if the topic is ever going to be discussed well, this will sadly have to be a necessary inclusion. Whether it would have worked to save the thread in question given how firmly a handful of people wanted to derail the discussion in that direction, I'm doubtful.
posted by KathrynT at 10:18 AM on June 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


Not what I am saying, but please continue to spew ignorant vitriol apparently being more interested in scoring points and showing street cred rather than having a substantive discussion.

Oh, such stinging barbs.

Look, this is pretty straightforward: increased moderation in all parts of the site has made the site a better place as a whole, and in particular for historically marginalized groups. It is not a perfect place, but it is vastly improved over what it was even 5 years ago.

Within that light, arguing that increased moderator attention in threads like these is somehow detrimental to the site on an economic basis is akin to arguing that increased policing in a high-crime area is detrimental to a city on an economic basis: truthy, in a narrow and abstract sense, but fundamentally a shitty argument. It's also an argument that has a very strong undertone of blaming the victim -- that it's their fault that all this precious moderator time is being used up, when it could be used on something more worthy.

If that's not what you're trying to say, maybe try harder in how you say it.
posted by tocts at 10:19 AM on June 16, 2015 [5 favorites]


TERF is pretty much one of those labels from opposition terms like SJW right? Do any groups self-identify that way primarily or is it just generally used as a smear?

It's not used as a smear and it was not developed as a smear; it was developed as a way to clearly differentiate between groups of radical feminists. But it was developed by trans-inclusive radical feminists, and trans-exclusionary radical feminists often do claim it's a smear (which is often a good way of identifying a TERF writer).
posted by jaguar at 10:19 AM on June 16, 2015 [21 favorites]


TERF is pretty much one of those labels from opposition terms like SJW right? Do any groups self-identify that way primarily or is it just generally used as a smear?

I do not think the feminists we're talking about would object to having their politics characterized as "trans-exclusionary." Insofar as I have seen objections to the term, they're laced with a heavy dose of "but you're making it seem like that's a bad thing!" That said, no, it's not a term that originated within radical feminist traditions as far as I know. Frowner probably knows more than I do?
posted by sciatrix at 10:20 AM on June 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm going to drop the TERF derail, though Frowner if you ever feel like shooting me a memail naming names, it'd at least help me win an argument with a colleague who knows more about this than me. (The best thing about being wrong is being able to change your mind and win future arguments.) :-)
posted by anotherpanacea at 10:20 AM on June 16, 2015 [2 favorites]

Defining TERF: interviewing the feminist who popularized it

Cristan Williams: From what I can see, yours is the earliest use. The term has become fairly common in trans discourse.

TigTog: Lauredhel and I are pretty sure that we started using trans-exclusionary radfem (TERF) activists as a descriptive term in our own chats a while before I used it in that post.

C: TERFs have made some assertions about your lexical contribution to feminist discourse. For instance: “TERF is not meant to be explanatory, but insulting. These characterizations are hyperbolic, misleading, and ultimately defamatory.”

T: It was not meant to be insulting. It was meant to be a deliberately technically neutral description of an activist grouping. I notice that since TERF has gone out into the wild, many people seem to use trans-exclusive rather than trans-exclusionary or trans-excluding, and I think that leads to some exploitable ambiguity. It is possible to interpret trans-exclusive as “exclusively talks about trans* issues” (which could quite rightly be considered a slam on the rest of their feminism), while trans-exclusionary is more specific that their exclusion of trans* voices and bodies from being considered women/feminists is the point.
posted by jaguar at 10:23 AM on June 16, 2015 [6 favorites]


This thread ESPECIALLY shouldn't be about 'losing trans members to insufficient moderation' given that the Dolezal case has jack fucking all to do with transgender individuals.

Dolezal's self-identifying as "transracial" attempted to redefine that term (which has been in use for 45 years and does not mean what she claims it does,) into something that makes no logical sense. Once she did so, Conservatives seized upon her redefinition and used it to their ends: spreading transphobia. So yes, her actions and this case do indeed have "to do with transgender individuals." She's been a catalyst for shitty behavior towards them as a group, and to some individuals.
posted by zarq at 10:23 AM on June 16, 2015 [13 favorites]


it is impossible to discuss "transracial" without bringing in transgender since channers explicitly appropriated the term (more than a year ago fwiw) to create this sort of argument. it's a deliberate troll that's been waiting for a perfect storm.
posted by nadawi at 10:24 AM on June 16, 2015 [12 favorites]


KathrynT: “I definitely think that if the topic is ever going to be discussed well, this will sadly have to be a necessary inclusion. Whether it would have worked to save the thread in question given how firmly a handful of people wanted to derail the discussion in that direction, I'm doubtful.”

What is the topic, though? If the topic is Rachel Dolezal herself, then I submit again that it's a distraction. If the topic is race and the non-diaphanous conduit of passing in America, then there are a billion better ways to talk about it than by talking about Rachel Dolezal.
posted by koeselitz at 10:25 AM on June 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


> Or is your point that TERF is itself an offensive term?

Not at all. It's an accurate description for some feminists - they want to exclude trans women from their spaces/organizations, and they are open about wanting to exclude them. But not all "old school" feminists are TERFS, is my point.
posted by rtha at 10:25 AM on June 16, 2015 [4 favorites]


for whatever it's worth a fair number of terfs self identify as "gender critical" feminists. others object to any mention of their trans exclusionary views.
posted by nadawi at 10:29 AM on June 16, 2015 [8 favorites]


nadawi, thanks for explaining about the channers. Didn't realize. I stand corrected.
posted by zarq at 10:32 AM on June 16, 2015


Well, now that she's actually identifying as transracial (though to be fair, we didn't know that when this discussion opened), it's not the channers bringing it in - but you know, it's not like LOTS of stuff we talk about doesn't have shitty conversation about it in the real world, and we somehow manage just fine. Like, a lot of the stuff that we think of as mildly contentious here is actually hugely awful and offensive, and we've handled it pretty well with civility, grace, and yes, a lot of deletions.

We don't even autodelete every I/P thread - we just put up a higher bar. But I'm getting the feeling that people are saying no thread on Dolezal will ever, no matter how well written, be able to be posted, and that means that this conversation - which does have a lot of broader implications - will never happen.
posted by corb at 10:33 AM on June 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


No one is saying that. It would appear that Metafilter has found a reasonably stable economic model of being user-supported by a group of people who do not wish to see their views contradicted. However, that sort of ensures that the discourse will never open up-- the mostly loyal users are paying for an environment that's been hermetically sealed from other opinions.

Help, I just sprained my eyeballs rolling them too hard.
posted by odinsdream at 10:33 AM on June 16, 2015 [11 favorites]


But I'm getting the feeling that people are saying no thread on Dolezal will ever, no matter how well written, be able to be posted, and that means that this conversation - which does have a lot of broader implications - will never happen.

Literally no one is saying this.
posted by kagredon at 10:35 AM on June 16, 2015 [17 favorites]


So, a lot of folks have argued that we can't think of transgender issues alongside race and specifically Dolezal. But here are some people who disagree, all of whom have at least one the right identities (non-white, non-cis, often non-het) and a lot of expertise.

But I'd also echo Disembodied Inquiry: "I have concerns that the Dolezal case raises issues too complex and fraught to be productively enough addressed...for the general audience...."

I just keep coming back to the idea that something can be important but hard, too hard, to discuss here.
posted by anotherpanacea at 10:35 AM on June 16, 2015 [6 favorites]


I don't know how many times it can be said that it may be possible have the conversation without making Dolezal the focus or even part of it until it sinks in. By now it's starting to sound like pre-dooming those threads just because some people's pet ideas can't be brought into them for no good reason.
posted by zombieflanders at 10:36 AM on June 16, 2015 [5 favorites]


corb: “We don't even autodelete every I/P thread - we just put up a higher bar. But I'm getting the feeling that people are saying no thread on Dolezal will ever, no matter how well written, be able to be posted, and that means that this conversation - which does have a lot of broader implications - will never happen.”

I am only one person in this conversation, granted, but my position is: (a) someday we can probably have a conversation specifically about Rachel Dolezal as a person; (b) she's totally not a necessary or even worthwhile part of the actually important discussion about race in America. She's certainly not the only person ever to have pretended to be a different race in this country. There are a whole lot of other ways to have that (much more important) conversation.
posted by koeselitz at 10:37 AM on June 16, 2015 [4 favorites]


Once again I'm going to ask that we not take this in the direction of arguing over whether transracialism is a thing, or whether race and gender are similar, or any of that stuff.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 10:38 AM on June 16, 2015 [12 favorites]


Okay - so I guess my question is this - Rachel Dolezal is currently publicly declaring, on mainstream news, that she is transracial. Without getting into, on this MeTa, whether or not transracialism is a thing, that conversation is going to be an important part of any discussion on the blue about Dolezal. With a well crafted post, in some time, is there room on Metafilter for that conversation? Or are we saying that that conversation can never happen here?
posted by corb at 10:43 AM on June 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


Wonder if all the moderating and comment deletions being done in this thread is actually any easier on the mods than just handling the original threads.
posted by smackfu at 10:43 AM on June 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


It can't happen here right now. We can't predict the future.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 10:44 AM on June 16, 2015 [6 favorites]


Wonder if all the moderating and comment deletions being done in this thread is actually any easier on the mods than just handling the original threads.

I suspect they would have to mod the original thread and the inevitable meta thread it would produce.
posted by maxsparber at 10:45 AM on June 16, 2015 [9 favorites]


If the topic is race and the non-diaphanous conduit of passing in America, then there are a billion better ways to talk about it than by talking about Rachel Dolezal.
posted by koeselitz at 10:25 AM on June 16 [+] [!]


FWIW if race and passing and the American context ever are the subject of a future FPP I don't see how the subject of Dolezal will be able to be avoided. It's going to be an important, and illuminating, example for all sorts of reasons. The problem with the deleted FPPs was noise pollution from a complicated array of hostile commentators, influencing the way the subject was framed and the way received opinions behind that framing were concealed. Which in turn influenced the responses the posts were eliciting.
posted by glasseyes at 10:45 AM on June 16, 2015


corb: But I'm getting the feeling that people are saying no thread on Dolezal will ever, no matter how well written, be able to be posted, and that means that this conversation - which does have a lot of broader implications - will never happen.

Multiple people -- including a couple of mods -- have said this isn't the case.

There's pretty much only one bar that controversial posts have to clear on Metafilter: That they not spark flamewars which suck the proverbial soul out of the mod team and this site's users. Posts about controversial topics survive every day on the front page. They also get deleted. There is literally not one single topic which is completely banned. Believe me, I know. In my time here I've probably posted most of 'em to Mefi.
posted by zarq at 10:46 AM on June 16, 2015 [6 favorites]


It is apparent that one of the breakdowns is that many users would like to see these sort of discussions because they think that MeFites as a group are smart (2), thoughtful, well-informed, intelligent, etc.

As someone who was for a little while a bona fide expert in some subjects that come up on MetaFilter, the more outside information and experience I had in an area, the stupider and shittier 'conversations' here appeared. The only threads that were chock-full of interesting and informative commentary were ones where I had no basis of information.

This experience has repeated across subjects and from other users, and the obvious conclusion is that we as Mefites are not nearly as intelligent and thoughtful, across every subject, as we would like to think.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:46 AM on June 16, 2015 [22 favorites]


There's also a lot of specifically anti-black context to the Dolezal incident, and it's steeped in a long history in the U.S. of white people appropriating black history, fashion, activism. People who aren't black, including non-black POC, need to be very careful not to frame this solely in more abstract (that word again!) terms about passing or subjective racial identity
posted by kagredon at 10:51 AM on June 16, 2015 [20 favorites]


This is one just one topic that they've decided to censor, and I agree with its removal after reading that longest FPP. I'm not sure if there's other recent FPPs which have been removed that people agree should not have been. I have no issue with treating the mods as imperfect people with limited time.

I honestly would appreciate if any complaints about comments being deleted from MetaTalk had its own topic instead of hijacking this one.
posted by halifix at 10:51 AM on June 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


One comment deleted. Please don't bring this back to a tangential thing that I've already asked people to drop, just to say how you're dropping it but.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 10:52 AM on June 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


Q: When is it probably a good idea to just shut up and NOT throw into a complex Meta?

A: When it takes you an hour to catch up on what's gone down since you went to bed.

And yet, this is bugging me ...


As far as I can tell, the orthodoxy on all of them is 'dont be a jerk'.

Problem is, "Don't Be A Jerk" is not the only rule here. I wish it was, but it isn't. And this whole issue (the deletions, the overall HEAT of this current thread) broadcasts this loud and clear. There are any number of decent people who are not being jerks (certainly not in any remotely conscious way) who are nevertheless managing to make others uncomfortable, often just by opening their mouths and saying what they think.

This sucks and I'm personally fascinated to mostly just sit back and track how the community handles this, because the community is trying to handle it. My two cents (already offered) is that saying, "Just don't be a jerk" is weak sauce, and more to the point, it's provocative when directed at someone who hasn't been.
posted by philip-random at 10:59 AM on June 16, 2015 [17 favorites]


Okay - so I guess my question is this - Rachel Dolezal is currently publicly declaring, on mainstream news, that she is transracial. Without getting into, on this MeTa, whether or not transracialism is a thing, that conversation is going to be an important part of any discussion on the blue about Dolezal. With a well crafted post, in some time, is there room on Metafilter for that conversation? Or are we saying that that conversation can never happen here?

Part of the benefit of giving time for stories to evolve is that we don't know where they'll go. We don't actually know that what now seems the interesting or significant about an event will continue to be the most interesting or significant thing about it. We can't be sure that 'transracialism...is going to be an important part of any discussion...about Dolezal' -- what if she says something different tomorrow?

What if it's a part of the narrative that gets dropped by the media? What if some other unforeseen thing happens? What if some other story or event that's a better and less fraught window in that part of the discussion around Dolezal comes up, and that part of the Dolezal story seems less urgent and less important to discuss than other parts? Just look at how much has happened since the (multiple-comments) deleted posts, and how many comments have been overtaken by events.

Basically, I think if you start with the premise that any conversation about Dolezal will go the same way in the future as one today does -- and will include the same topics, and see the same topics with the same relevance as people do today -- then putting off that conversation might read like 'let's not talk about this situation.' But I think that premise is wrong: I think not having this conversation now means we might be able to have a different conversation, a more fruitful conversation, later. It's saying, let's talk about this when we can talk about this -- and having read through the deleted posts, it really does look like we can't talk about this now.
posted by cjelli at 11:00 AM on June 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


Comment deletions have reduced stretches of this thread almost to a state of inanition.

And I think mods are skating on some pretty thin ice with all this deleting, because if present trends continue, how long will it be before an offsite forum springs up where members can go to say the things they feel like they can no longer say here?

I think that would be disastrous for Metafilter, but I also think it's likely to happen without a re-commitment to the openness which used to characterize MetaTalk.
posted by jamjam at 11:14 AM on June 16, 2015 [4 favorites]


if present trends continue, how long will it be before an offsite forum springs up where members can go to say the things they feel like they can no longer say here?

MetaChat has been around for quite a few years, and hasn't caused any disasters that I'm aware of.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 11:16 AM on June 16, 2015 [20 favorites]


And I think mods are skating on some pretty thin ice with all this deleting, because if present trends continue, how long will it be before an offsite forum springs up where members can go to say the things they feel like they can no longer say here?

wow

so scare

very take ball

much go home
posted by kagredon at 11:16 AM on June 16, 2015 [13 favorites]


there's already offsite places where people complain about metafilter. for a long standing moderated community this seems like something that is unavoidable. it's not really that big of a deal.
posted by nadawi at 11:17 AM on June 16, 2015 [13 favorites]


> how long will it be before an offsite forum springs up where members can go to say the things they feel like they can no longer say here?

Do those not already exist? Is the internet not full of places where there is less moderation than here?

Some mefites have quit here and probably gone there. Other people have joined mefi because they can say things here that they can't say elsewhere. So the internet turns.
posted by rtha at 11:17 AM on June 16, 2015 [15 favorites]


MetaChat specifically bans complaints of any kind about Metafilter.
posted by jamjam at 11:17 AM on June 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


wow

so scare

very take ball

much go home


So much for "Don't be a dick".
posted by MikeMc at 11:18 AM on June 16, 2015 [16 favorites]


jamjam there are tons of complaints about MetaFilter being aired in here. The complaints about mods and MetaFilter policy aren't what's being deleted.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 11:20 AM on June 16, 2015 [7 favorites]


So much for "Don't be a dick".

Ah, so you do understand what it means! Earlier you seemed confused.
posted by kagredon at 11:20 AM on June 16, 2015 [4 favorites]


We do not expect Metafilter to be all things to all people, and if people are happier distributing their attention across multiple sites or communities, that's perfectly normal and healthy. And yeah, people can complain about Metafilter right here - that's not the issue.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 11:21 AM on June 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


The fact that TERF was not originally meant to be insulting doesn't necessarily have any bearing on how it's used now. From what I've seen, the term "TERF" is now mainly used to insult people or dismiss their views. I've never seen anyone identify themselves as a TERF. As far as I can tell, even radical feminists who freely admit to being trans-exclusionary don't use the term "TERF" to refer to themselves, so I think bonehead is right in thinking that it's a term that's used only in opposition. And, unfortunately, I think it's sometimes tossed around all too freely. For example, in other forums, I've seen feminists called TERFs for saying that biological (i.e. designated at birth) sex is relevant to some traditional feminist issues (specifically, reproductive rights).
posted by klausness at 11:26 AM on June 16, 2015 [6 favorites]


So much for "Don't be a dick".

Ah, so you do understand what it means! Earlier you seemed confused.


Yes, yes I do understand! "Dick" = "doge speak", it's all so clear now. Thanks!
posted by MikeMc at 11:27 AM on June 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


Now we're (I'm?) forbidden from quoting MetaFilter's own history. At least when that history is inconvenient for the (current) mods.

Oh. my. GOD. I cannot believe this whole time it's been all about you! That is such an incredible coincidence!
posted by odinsdream at 11:34 AM on June 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yeesh, but this is getting ugly.

Those who are genuinely confused or concerned about "don't be a dick", or that more deletions and increased moderation means speech is being stifled, you might want to check out kagredon's excellent comment on how expressing a particular disagreement or asking a question regarding the socially marginalized can go really well. And that's but one great example.

There are of course numerous ways a person can express disagreement or ask genuine questions. Consider that just because you can't necessarily fire off your first-thought, kneejerk reaction doesn't mean you are being silenced. You really can still express yourself. In incredibly contentions topics, that'll just mean being a bit more careful, and of course it's no guarantee that someone won't be dickish to you despite your sincerity, or that your comment won't get deleted. But from what I've seen, being a dick is moderated against pretty evenly, and if a comment is deleted, well, that's not really the end of the world. Trying a little harder and better will go a long way to helping, certainly.

I think asking for hard-and-fast rules about how we're supposed to talk about X is a losing game. Social interaction is all nuance, and it's exactly that nuance that leaves so much room for expression. Having strict rules about not being able to discuss X would actually narrow that expression a great deal. I'm glad that we avoid heading in that direction as much as is humanly possible for this site.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 11:35 AM on June 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


For example, in other forums, I've seen feminists called TERFs for saying that biological (i.e. designated at birth) sex is relevant to some traditional feminist issues (specifically, reproductive rights).

That is because this is a correct interpretation of the fact that biological sex is not relevant to reproductive rights.

Maybe if you want to review how TERF is used, you would kindly read through the two other Metatalk threads about this which explained it in excruciating detail.
posted by odinsdream at 11:36 AM on June 16, 2015 [9 favorites]


I think asking for hard-and-fast rules about how we're supposed to talk about X is a losing game.

It's a winning game if you want to work the ref, box them in, and declare them hypocrites.
posted by maxsparber at 11:37 AM on June 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


how long will it be before an offsite forum springs up where members can go to say the things they feel like they can no longer say here?

The true history of 4chan can finally be told.
posted by GuyZero at 11:37 AM on June 16, 2015 [6 favorites]


Let's set the "what's a TERF" thing aside, since it's kind of a sidebar here and we're not getting into debating views on gender.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 11:38 AM on June 16, 2015 [5 favorites]


jamjam there are tons of complaints about MetaFilter being aired in here. The complaints about mods and MetaFilter policy aren't what's being deleted.

Nor did I say they were.

However, if someone went to MetaChat and said they were upset because a comment they thought was legitimate had been deleted here, that would be a complaint about Metafilter regardless of the content of the original comment.
posted by jamjam at 11:39 AM on June 16, 2015


MetaChat specifically bans complaints of any kind about Metafilter.

MetaChat doesn't ban complaints about Metafilter. It's just that people might not take up the discussion, or might think you're boring, or an ass, or would rather talk about what food they're eating or how much their boss sucks.
posted by corb at 11:42 AM on June 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


I have trouble seeing how saying that abortion rights are particularly relevant to persons with uteruses, no matter what their gender, is trans-exclusionary. But this TERF stuff is a derail, so I'll drop it now.
posted by klausness at 11:44 AM on June 16, 2015 [7 favorites]


Just to be clear are we talking about metachat.org or chat.metafilter.com here?
posted by Elementary Penguin at 11:44 AM on June 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


It's just that people might not take up the discussion, or might think you're boring, or an ass, or would rather talk about what food they're eating or how much their boss sucks.

Or rabbits? If I remember right.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 11:44 AM on June 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


If it's metachat.org, we're talking about rabbits.
posted by maxsparber at 11:45 AM on June 16, 2015


This thread is an interesting artifact. Not only does it clearly answer the question (were the mods correct to delete those FPPs?) with a resounding YES, it even manages to show exactly why the FPPs were deleted and what a good idea that was. Yeesh.
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:45 AM on June 16, 2015 [14 favorites]


> However, if someone went to MetaChat and said they were upset because a comment they thought was legitimate had been deleted here, that would be a complaint about Metafilter regardless of the content of the original comment.

So you're mad that things are being deleted in meTa and mad that you can't talk about that meCha? You could always go start a blogger or wordpress site exactly for that, you know.
posted by rtha at 11:46 AM on June 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


Ha! And the very top post on Metachat's front page is indeed "Bunny! OMG!"
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 11:47 AM on June 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


If it's chat.metafilter.org, we're talking about how god loves gay rain and whining about the distribution of water in North America.
posted by sciatrix at 11:48 AM on June 16, 2015 [5 favorites]

MetaChat specifically bans complaints of any kind about Metafilter.

MetaChat doesn't ban complaints about Metafilter. It's just that people might not take up the discussion, or might think you're boring, or an ass, or would rather talk about what food they're eating or how much their boss sucks.
Can't you make at least a rudimentary effort to check your facts before posting, corb?
This applies also to MetaFilter issues: they belong on MetaFilter, not here. A good relationship with MetaFilter is important to MetaChat.
posted by jamjam at 12:00 PM on June 16, 2015


> corb: Have you missed all the discussion of the story elsewhere on the internet? Because even though it shouldn't have anything to do with trans people, a ton of anti-trans people are working very hard to make it about them.

It's not just the internet. My wife and I were listening to NPR news and the story came up and literally the first thing said about it was a trans derail. It's a shitty situation and in some ways an intriguing one and it's understandable that people want to talk about it here but for reasons that should be totally understandable and acceptable if you're reading this thread that's not possible right now. It may well be possible in the future when the furor has died down a bit. The fact that we can't discuss it right now, and this MeTa thread, are really not the end of the world, or even the end of MetaFilter. It will be all right.
posted by languagehat at 12:01 PM on June 16, 2015 [22 favorites]


there are other offshoot mefi communities that aren't metachat and plenty of complaining happens there. it also happens here. that's just a function of the internet and has nothing to do with whatever thin ice you imagine the mods on.
posted by nadawi at 12:04 PM on June 16, 2015


MetaChan.org has really gone to shit since they killed the anime board though.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 12:06 PM on June 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


The complaints about mods and MetaFilter policy aren't what's being deleted.

Yeah, you just need to look at the deleted comments to see what's being deleted...
posted by smackfu at 12:12 PM on June 16, 2015


Or at the notes I'm leaving, in which I say what was deleted.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 12:14 PM on June 16, 2015 [10 favorites]


"I just keep coming back to the idea that something can be important but hard, too hard, to discuss here."

I think so. I think that's okay.

Indeed, I've avoided this thread and only read portions of it because it doesn't, in fact, add anything vital to my life. Any one discussion on MetaFilter just isn't that important. Sure, the cumulative effect of reading and participating here can be and has been very important to many people. But we are not deeply impoverished without a Dolezal thread or, indeed, a MetaTalk thread about those deletions. In contrast, those threads and this one stir up a great deal of hurt.

We have in the past and will in the future discuss, in other forms, every issue raised by Dolezal. We have learned from each other and we will continue to learn from each other. The people who are leveraging these deletions as an argument about the state of MetaFilter are doing everyone a big disservice.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 12:14 PM on June 16, 2015 [7 favorites]


...less free to spew out rampant bigotry, you mean. This is the very definition of false equivalency.

No its simply acknowledging that there are two perspectives and that both can have validity. Basically the opposite of the frothing extreme example you have just given.
posted by biffa at 12:20 PM on June 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


No its simply acknowledging that there are two perspectives and that both can have validity.

More people should know about zero-one-infinity and that two is an impossible number.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 12:24 PM on June 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


AFAICT there are the same handful of SILENCED ALL MY LIFE posters here that are upset about this deletion, most deletions, deletions of their comments, and MetaTalk not being a complete clusterfuck in which it is okay for everyone to swing their harmfully ignorant and/or hateful opinions around about any individual or group of people who happens to draw their ire, particularly when the person or people involved are members of a marginalized group. There's also a lot of nostalgia for a (real or imagined) metafiler which allowed that kind of thing. But it's the same repetitive boring thing that we seem to see in pretty much every contentious MeTa thread, and it doesn't have much to do with the Dolezal posts at all, except that they're a vector for people with garbage opinions about trans people to take more dumps.
posted by NoraReed at 12:24 PM on June 16, 2015 [53 favorites]


The idea of Two Sides, Both Alike In Dignity might facilitate discussion but hoo boy does it have a shitty track record of the sort of discussion it facilitates.
posted by griphus at 12:26 PM on June 16, 2015 [17 favorites]


No its simply acknowledging that there are two perspectives and that both can have validity.

Which is different from "There are two perspectives and therefore both have validity." There are, in fact, as many perspectives as there are people in this thread. People are naturally going to assume that the reason you brought up a perspective is that you think it has some applicability, and people are free to argue with you about that applicability.
posted by kagredon at 12:32 PM on June 16, 2015


NoraReed:
"There's also a lot of nostalgia for a (real or imagined) metafiler which allowed that kind of thing."
Remember when MetaFilter was good?
posted by charred husk at 12:32 PM on June 16, 2015 [8 favorites]


NoraReed wins MeTa, we can all go home now.
posted by sciatrix at 12:32 PM on June 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


The idea of Two Sides, Both Alike In Dignity might facilitate discussion but hoo boy does it have a shitty track record of the sort of discussion it facilitates.

Ha, yeah, it "facilitates discussion" alright, in much the same way that tossing a lit M-80 into a chicken coop facilitates feathers. I still can't believe people still trot out Let's Hear What Both Sides Think, for as many times as it's been proven to not be the one-size-fits-all metric for reasoned discussion, but here we are.

Also what Nora said. Like I said upthread, I really feel as though people with major chips on their shoulders about the Good Old Days and the rampant censorship of Metafilter just shoehorn that gripe into pretty much any available MeTa, on the grounds that MeTa is about site policy so surely it must be relevant to copy-paste the same gripe from the .txt file they keep handy for these threads.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 12:33 PM on June 16, 2015 [16 favorites]


acknowledging that there are two perspectives and that both can have validity

Two perspectives ON WHAT? The lack of specificity is maddening. This mysterious creature, the Opinion Which Is Not Bigoted But Is Nevertheless Suppressed, keeps coming up. Yet no one has described what such an opinion would look like.
posted by neroli at 12:34 PM on June 16, 2015 [26 favorites]


This experience has repeated across subjects and from other users, and the obvious conclusion is that we as Mefites are not nearly as intelligent and thoughtful, across every subject, as we would like to think.

This is absolutely true. There is frequently asymmetry of knowledge in most threads. My perspective as a contributor in that situation is not to get rustled when the one-liners happen, or worse, when someone who doesn't know what their talking about posts paragraphs.

The more technical discussions tend not to be identity politics (with significant exceptions), but they can get heated. See any of the discussions about holistic medicine, for example. Should we ban those as well? That's not hypothetical---there's lots of wrongness, mean spiritedness mixed in with cheap shots, good comments and good-faith plain terrible comments. Would metafilter be better without another anti-vaxxer thread? The argument could be made.
posted by bonehead at 12:36 PM on June 16, 2015


NoraReed wins MeTa, we can all go home now.

AND IM TAKIN MY BALL WITH ME
posted by NoraReed at 12:39 PM on June 16, 2015 [10 favorites]


> See any of the discussions about holistic medicine, for example. Should we ban those as well?

Threads about race, racism, identity, and racial/ethnic/cultural appropriation are not banned. Saying that posts about this particular woman are not being entertained at this time is not saying the subject is banned.
posted by rtha at 12:42 PM on June 16, 2015 [15 favorites]


See any of the discussions about holistic medicine, for example. Should we ban those as well?

I know it's already been said over 9000 times so far, but the Dolezal subject has not been straight-up banned forever. And I think Metafilter is loathe to ban any subject outright; a higher bar is simply set for certain subjects when a proven track record of shitstorm threads has been established.

Interesting that you mention anti-vax, though, because I do remember one such thread going extremely badly when a user started taking all comers about why they weren't going to vaccinate their children. It was heated, ugly, and frankly shocking. Yet here we are, still able to talk about the subject. We just have a higher bar for how such FPPs can be framed.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 12:43 PM on June 16, 2015


NoraReed, I'm sorry to shout after you, since you're heading home with your ball, but:

I disagree that all of the posters in favor of looser moderation are looking for an opportunity to post transphobic things. I think that assertion harms the discussion by framing it as "people in favor of this(and similar) post deletion(s) VS transphobes."
posted by 4th number at 12:43 PM on June 16, 2015 [15 favorites]


Hey mods? How about a nice round of soothing chamomile tea and a shoulder massage? On me. You deserve it.
posted by mudpuppie at 12:46 PM on June 16, 2015 [13 favorites]


I disagree that all of the posters in favor of looser moderation are looking for an opportunity to post transphobic things. I think that assertion harms the discussion by framing it as "people in favor of this(and similar) post deletion(s) VS transphobes."

Jesus tap-dancing Christ on a motocycle, this is less than a half-dozen comments above:

This mysterious creature, the Opinion Which Is Not Bigoted But Is Nevertheless Suppressed, keeps coming up. Yet no one has described what such an opinion would look like.

So, what in the name of God cannot be expressed here on the site that somebody wants to express?
posted by Ipsifendus at 12:47 PM on June 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


I disagree that all of the posters in favor of looser moderation are looking for an opportunity to post transphobic things.

She didn't say that.
posted by zarq at 12:49 PM on June 16, 2015 [8 favorites]


I disagree that all of the posters in favor of looser moderation are looking for an opportunity to post transphobic things.

it's true. a lot of people just want to read other people's transphobic things, or say misogynist or racist things
posted by NoraReed at 12:49 PM on June 16, 2015 [20 favorites]


So, what in the name of God cannot be expressed here on the site that somebody wants to express?

If you've read the thread, you'll have seen that the mods asked us specifically to refrain from bringing up certain items in this thread. Several times. You're basically trying to goad users into disobeying mod directions.
posted by amorphatist at 12:50 PM on June 16, 2015 [4 favorites]


I disagree that all of the posters in favor of looser moderation are looking for an opportunity to post transphobic things. I think that assertion harms the discussion by framing it as "people in favor of this(and similar) post deletion(s) VS transphobes."

yeah, which is great since she didn't make that assertion:

But it's the same repetitive boring thing that we seem to see in pretty much every contentious MeTa thread, and it doesn't have much to do with the Dolezal posts at all, except that they're a vector for people with garbage opinions about trans people to take more dumps.
posted by kagredon at 12:50 PM on June 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


If you've read the thread, you'll have seen that the mods asked us specifically to refrain from bringing up certain items in this thread.

I think a distinction can be made between MetaFilter as a site and this particular MeTa which was almost derailed so many times it may qualify for a drift race.
posted by griphus at 12:52 PM on June 16, 2015 [10 favorites]


Hey mods? How about a nice round of soothing chamomile tea and a shoulder massage? On me. You deserve it.

Better yet, a way to distribute sedatives to the userbase.
posted by zarq at 12:53 PM on June 16, 2015 [8 favorites]


I think a distinction can be made between MetaFilter as a site and this particular MeTa which was almost derailed so many times it may qualify for a drift race.

Initial D: MeTa Edition
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 12:53 PM on June 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


...less free to spew out rampant bigotry, you mean. This is the very definition of false equivalency.
No its simply acknowledging that there are two perspectives and that both can have validity. Basically the opposite of the frothing extreme example you have just given.
posted by biffa at 12:20 PM on June 16 [+] [!] Other [2/2]: «≡·


I'm going to state my position on this, and I will say it very plainly. I'm gay. And that's okay. There is nothing wrong with it. That's my perspective.

The second perspective is that I'm sinful, or immoral, or amoral, or sick, or gross, etc. I acknowledge that perspective. I know it exists on the flipside of mine. I encounter it regularly, and it adds hurt and challenges to my life, which I don't think I deserve.

Metafilter is a place on the internet where I can be relatively confident that I won't encounter too much of that second perspective, and I'm really grateful for that. If that were to change -- by looser moderation or an upswell of public opinion or whatever -- it would become a place where I'm not comfortable.

I've already got a lot of those uncomfortable places in my life. I'm happy that Metafilter isn't one of them. I acknowledge that that other perspective exists, and I'm damn glad that it's not usually allowed to stand around here.

If that makes me an advocate for an echo chamber or a champion of censorship or whatever, so be it. I'm fine with that.
posted by mudpuppie at 12:54 PM on June 16, 2015 [58 favorites]


"NoraReed wins MeTa, we can all go home now."

Sadly, I think that what NoraReed described is basically going to be the next twenty years in the US. This is only a microcosm of what's going on culture-wide. We're hearing these complaints from the privileged and we're going to continue hearing them until they get a clue or fade away into obscurity and die.

The people who think that in the past there was "free and open discussion" (here or elsewhere) are always laughingly oblivious to the myriad topics and arguments that have been taboo because those topics are uncomfortable for the privileged. As discussion avoids those things, but everyone feels free to make rape analogies or whatever, the privileged consider this "free and open discussion". Now that those who are less privileged are pointing out how many topics and arguments are exclusionary of them, and asking for the very same sorts of limits and courtesies that have always applied with regard to the issues about which the privileged are sensitive, then suddenly the privileged perceive draconian restriction, free discourse is dead.

Some people eventually figure this out. Some people figure out that what was really happening is that they were relatively to free to say what they wanted to say while, in contrast, a bunch of other people never actually were. And eventually they figure out that being free to make rape analogies is like being free to punch other people in the nose. That is to say, this isn't actually what "freedom" is about, "freedom" is a deeply problematic and suspicious framework for thinking about this stuff that obscures much more than it illuminates. Eventually they figure out that the intersection of all of their individual relative privileges isn't the measure of the rest of the world, of everyone else's experience, of the default "neutral" state.

But many people never figure this out. And they're going to be whining about it for a very long time.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 1:00 PM on June 16, 2015 [101 favorites]


You phrased that very well, Ivan.
posted by maxsparber at 1:01 PM on June 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


Eventually they figure out that the intersection of all of their individual relative privileges isn't the measure of the rest of the world, of everyone else's experience, of the default "neutral" state.

But many people never figure this out. And they're going to be whining about it for a very long time.


Exactly. Their freedom of speech is freedom from criticism, and the more pusback they get for exclusionary tactics, the more they will harken to Ye Olde Tymes when they could do whatever they wanted virtually unchallenged. Weird and sad to see that in microcosm here.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 1:05 PM on June 16, 2015 [5 favorites]


A little over an hour ago, I started reading this thread with the opinion that the thread should have been left in place, because even though there was some fairly dumb stuff going on, the rebuttals were a) instructive and b) gave talking points to people who wouldn't otherwise know what to say to the really dumb stuff the rest of the Internet is saying.

But when you balance that instruction against maybe making this place less hospitable for some really awesome people, I got to side with keeping it hospitable, 'cause it's the awesome people that make the place what it is, ya know?
posted by Mooski at 1:07 PM on June 16, 2015 [6 favorites]


This mysterious creature, the Opinion Which Is Not Bigoted But Is Nevertheless Suppressed, keeps coming up. Yet no one has described what such an opinion would look like.

The mods have specifically said that this is not going to be done in this thread.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 1:07 PM on June 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


Sadly, I think that what NoraReed described is basically going to be the next twenty years in the US.

That doesn't mean it has to be the next 20 years here, though. Thank god.
posted by NoraReed at 1:11 PM on June 16, 2015 [9 favorites]


Yes, but do they have to whine about it every time there's a discussion about anything on MetaTalk? Because the whole wailing about how it's the end of the world that the mods are trying to make the space welcoming and open to non white/male/cis/het posters is irritating, and as NoraReed points out I keep seeing the same faces over and over again on that front.

Seriously! Every time! I don't suppose we can say "Sorry, but we're not changing this aspect of moderation, shut up about it already" earlier on to this particular derail? Because large swathes of this discussion read to me like the mods--espeically LobsterMitten--having to say "Sorry, that's not going to happen/we do not do hard-and-fast rules here on this site, stop asking for them" as politely as possible while users try to rules-lawyer around this or argue that really it's super terrible for their own sake/freedom of speech that the moderators might restrict their posting to make the body of the site feel more welcome. If Mayor Curley there has been riding his hobby horse for eight years, can he maybe be given one warning and then asked to step out? Do we have to let the usual suspects go on about this in every metatalk they can shoehorn this topic into?
posted by sciatrix at 1:12 PM on June 16, 2015 [15 favorites]


The mods have specifically said that this is not going to be done in this thread.

Oh well, I guess we'll never learn about the Deeply Valuable But Not In Any Way Racist, Sexist, or Transphobic Ideas That Are Shut Out By The Politically Correct Echo Chamber. A shame, as I'm sure they're fascinating.
posted by neroli at 1:14 PM on June 16, 2015 [20 favorites]


Mayor Curley appears to have already stepped out, as it were.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 1:15 PM on June 16, 2015


I'll miss his moxie.
posted by maxsparber at 1:16 PM on June 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


Oh well, I guess we'll never learn about the Deeply Valuable But Not In Any Way Racist, Sexist, or Transphobic Ideas That Are Shut Out By The Politically Correct Echo Chamber. A shame, as I'm sure they're fascinating.

Solid contribution there.
posted by amorphatist at 1:17 PM on June 16, 2015 [5 favorites]


You know, I share the impression that a few others have expressed that the main difference that Metafilter That Was had is how much more bigotry was allowed to slide, but I'm newer than a lot of folks and I'm willing to be proven wrong. Anyone want to link to a discussion that they think could not happen now but should?
posted by kagredon at 1:19 PM on June 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


If you've read the thread, you'll have seen that the mods asked us specifically to refrain from bringing up certain items in this thread. Several times. You're basically trying to goad users into disobeying mod directions.

Stuff and nonsense. The "certain items" that the mods don't want brought up here fall into a few narrowly defined categories: re-litigation of arguments from the original thread, statements (from now inactive members, mind you) in entirely different threads, and a derail about feminist terminology.

The people crying "censorship" assure us that the things they're afraid will be suppressed as a side effect of these policies aren't mere statements of bigotry. So, taking that (really! honestly!) at face value: what are they? If they aren't any of these things, what are they?
posted by Ipsifendus at 1:20 PM on June 16, 2015 [4 favorites]


I am not at all awash in nostalgia for the good old days of freedom on mefi, especially on the grey, thanks to looking through meTas tagged with "boyzone" (the first appeared in 2000, in case anyone is still under the impression that it's recent that this place is being overrun by too-serious SJWs).
posted by rtha at 1:20 PM on June 16, 2015 [7 favorites]


Oh well, I guess we'll never learn about the Deeply Valuable But Not In Any Way Racist, Sexist, or Transphobic Ideas That Are Shut Out By The Politically Correct Echo Chamber. A shame, as I'm sure they're fascinating.

They won't be articulated, because they don't exist. It's a cudgel used to fight back against having to behave like an adult towards people who are normally objectified and ridiculed because "free discussion".
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 1:20 PM on June 16, 2015 [13 favorites]


This particular topic is delicate because it overlaps areas of concern to several different movements for social justice. Figuring out what the heck actually happened and the philosophical implications for these movements is really up to the insiders of these movements. As a sympathetic outsider, at best I should recognize that I don't really have anything helpful to contribute in that process.

The problem is that if I were philosophically opposed to any of these movements for social justice, this would be a juicy opportunity to score points and set my enemies against each other. I could co-opt their language and philosophical positions to judo them into attacking each other. If I were really a skilled operator, I could probably do that without actually advocating any anti-feminist, anti-trans, or pro-racism sentiment at all. Like, "Hey I'm cool with oppressed groups X, Y and Z, but let's talk about how X is bad for oppressing Y, and Y is bad for oppressing Z, and how everyone is bad for not recognizing the even tinier, more oppressed group represented by Rachel Dolezal."
posted by rustcrumb at 1:21 PM on June 16, 2015 [10 favorites]


Regarding alternatives, there is an r/Metafilter on Reddit.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 1:23 PM on June 16, 2015 [4 favorites]


I think you hit the nail on the head rustcrumb. This very unusual edge case is revealing some tensions amongst different strains of the progressive movement, and for sure ideological opponents will make hay of this. So: *earmuffs*
posted by amorphatist at 1:26 PM on June 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


Two perspectives ON WHAT? The lack of specificity is maddening. This mysterious creature, the Opinion Which Is Not Bigoted But Is Nevertheless Suppressed, keeps coming up. Yet no one has described what such an opinion would look like.

Let's just get this out in the open and quit with the veiled discussion. Certain members on the site think it's a valid point to raise that, y'know, maybe trans people just aren't worthy of basic respect? And this is seen as one side of the coin where the other side is precious fragile members are SILENCING ALL MY LIFE this position.

It's completely absurd, and it obviously is bigoted, but we're supposed to just roll over and pretend that it's just internet arguin' like in the good old days.

That's what sets this community apart from the comments section of your random newspaper, or even other web forums. Those places are seen as some kind of platonic ideal from which the libertarian ideals of debating every point on its merits stands apart from reality. In this place, we recognize the truth that was so eloquently described by scrump earlier in the thread, we are all singing this song together. We are all real people, with real lived experiences that deserve basic respect. We acknowledge this as a condition of our participation here; these aren't arguments that are disconnected from reality, and the more we recognize this and act on it, the more Metafilter can grow as a community of valued participants. Hell, maybe someday we'll even entice some old members to come back here. If that means we lose some bigots in the process because they want to "just sayin'" all the goddamn time, I think that's a worthwhile position to strive for.
posted by odinsdream at 1:27 PM on June 16, 2015 [21 favorites]


Is MetaFilter intended by the moderators to be a safe space? I'll borrow a definition from the same place Wikipedia does:

A place where anyone can relax and be fully self-expressed, without fear of being made to feel uncomfortable, unwelcome, or unsafe on account of biological sex, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, cultural background, age, or physical or mental ability; a place where the rules guard each person's self-respect and dignity and strongly encourage everyone to respect others.

The MeFi FAQ specifically prohibits "[r]acist or otherwise hateful comments ... misgendering and ironic racism/sexism/homophobia/transphobia" already. Should we add a note that this is a safe space in the above sense?
posted by 4th number at 1:29 PM on June 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


MetaFilter is not a safe space. Safe spaces generally require much, much, much heavier moderation.
posted by jaguar at 1:30 PM on June 16, 2015 [17 favorites]


except the people who are actually good on SJ pretty much agree with each other on this issue, and mostly it's a bunch of Black people asking people to please stop being racist and trans people asking people to stop co-opting their language and Black trans people doing both things. i mean, yeah, people are still using it to score rhetorical points, but as usual they're doing it by completely making up straw men and then vigorously attacking them. however, this is basically all the anti-SJ crowd ever does; whether they're putting words in the mouths of "SJWs" about "transracialism" (which is not a real thing) or about "misandry" (also not a real thing) or crying about Anita Sarkeesian ~calling for censorship~ or whatever the fuck, making up a bunch of bullshit and crediting it to their ideological opponents is basically their #1 strategy. it's pretty obviously on display here, in this thread, in the sheer amount of comments where they claim someone in this thread said a thing and you get several "uh no they didn't say that" replies. sometimes i like to pretend that their cognitive dissonance is because they are literally posting from a parallel dimension
posted by NoraReed at 1:33 PM on June 16, 2015 [19 favorites]


Threads about race, racism, identity, and racial/ethnic/cultural appropriation are not banned. Saying that posts about this particular woman are not being entertained at this time is not saying the subject is banned.

This isn't even that weird of a thing in real life to make these kinds of boundaries. I think a lot of good relationships have particular issues that need to be broached carefully, and being able to "talk well" about them take time and effort and learning. In some cases, you might not eventually get where you really want to go. If that's hard enough for two people, let's throw in a few hundred more and see what happens.

Also, there are times that large groups of people will agree to disagree about something, so institutional knowledge is aware of these differences, but you also don't go around raising the issue all the time simply because it's possible. You generally have sanctioned ways of discussing differences to allow for community cohesion.

So, it's okay to say, from a community perspective: 1) we don't do this well under certain conditions, so let's wait; 2) we don't do this well ever, so until we figure out a way to get past it, we'll keep it off limits; 3) we know that we disagree about this within the community pretty consistently, and although it might be worth discussing sometimes, we don't need to bring it up all the time.

In order for any those three to be possible, someone has to moderate the gate. And it's a sign of (relatively) good health that we are learning to make these kinds of decisions on how to talk well together, rather than it being a limitation on free speech.
posted by SpacemanStix at 1:34 PM on June 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


Yeah, the sly insinuations that shady leftist cabals are destroying Metafilter, and by extension liberalism, are as tired as they are stupid.
posted by zombieflanders at 1:37 PM on June 16, 2015 [9 favorites]


MetaFilter is not a safe space. This has been established for literally years.

That said, MetaFilter does aspire to be a community where QUILTBAG members feel welcome and respected. Again, established for literally years.

We don't need to re-litigate either issue here, because both issues are settled site policy.
posted by scrump at 1:39 PM on June 16, 2015 [10 favorites]


4th number, MeFi's not a safe space in that sense, and we already say as much in the FAQ.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 1:39 PM on June 16, 2015 [6 favorites]


I am neither a dumb nor insensitive man. In my ten years of membership here (and three years of lurking before that), I have been steadfastly liberal, on the side of the oppressed, and at least one former mod can tell you if they so desire, helpful IRL to members in very delicate situations.

But, you know, I have a job and a family, and between that and trying to be a decent person, the last thing I need is the website that was my "go-to" to becoming unwelcoming to me because I can't keep up with which minefields around which I'm supposed to pirouette in the interest of "community."

Seriously? TERFs? Transracial? Man, I do some seriously high-level shit for a living, and I can't parse this place anymore without spending an hour offsite educating myself. This is no longer the "best of the web" but rather, as it says on the tin, a "community weblog."

That's cool. It's great to have a community, and I sincerely mean that. Given the ultimate content of this burnout, I wouldn't blame anyone for doubting that sincerity. But I can't put enough time into a community anymore that has rarefied good faith into some kind of diamond of ultimate purity. I need to step back.

So, I've been digitalprimate online since late '92. About time to retire this username anyway (and apologies to the has-been DJ in Australia that I got the moniker 10 years before you.)

I know myself by now, and I know I'll probably be back as soon as the next 9/11 hits (yes, I was downtown and can "claim" that). But for now I'm done, and I'm not even going to let myself stick around long enough to see if I get any favorites. I need to move on to something a little gentler to my well-intentioned but middle aged, cis-gendered white ass self. To which, the "community" will probably say good riddance.

So long, and thanks for all the fish.
posted by digitalprimate at 1:40 PM on June 16, 2015 [32 favorites]


It's astounding that's what you take from this discussion. Truly.

Best wishes to you.
posted by odinsdream at 1:43 PM on June 16, 2015 [35 favorites]


I'm a 43-year-old cis white male, and I don't seem to have any of these issues around feeling excluded or having trouble keeping up.

It's almost like there's the possibility that people can choose to learn and change and keep current without much effort at all, if they listen.

But that must just be crazy liberal echo-chamber talk.
posted by scrump at 1:45 PM on June 16, 2015 [43 favorites]


digitalprimate has deactivated. Best wishes and good luck out there.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 1:46 PM on June 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


good luck finding a place that is gentler to cis white dudes on the rest of the internet, i am sure it'll be real challenging
posted by NoraReed at 1:47 PM on June 16, 2015 [35 favorites]


But, you know, I have a job and a family, and between that and trying to be a decent person, the last thing I need is the website that was my "go-to" to becoming unwelcoming to me because I can't keep up with which minefields around which I'm supposed to pirouette in the interest of "community."

In all honesty, the discussion revolved around the mods taking care of that for you. I'm sorry you're closing a ten-year old account over it.
posted by Mooski at 1:47 PM on June 16, 2015 [13 favorites]


if the mefi store sold adult sized diapers that said I HAVE AN OPINION and we could send them to people by inputting their user number this site would make billions, billions i tell you.
posted by poffin boffin at 1:50 PM on June 16, 2015 [21 favorites]


Well, that sure was a goodbye.
posted by rtha at 1:53 PM on June 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


There's a scene in Lost Skeleton of Cadavra when a park ranger exits a cabin late at night, only to hear the breaking twigs of his impending doom, and cries out "Noises! In the night! Things like that don't happen!"

For some reason, I was just reminded of that scene.
posted by maxsparber at 1:54 PM on June 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


I can't keep up with which minefields around which I'm supposed to pirouette in the interest of "community."

too late for digitalprimate I guess but for anybody else with their finger poised tensely above the button or in the middle of composing their exit speech, know that when a thread looks like a minefield to you you can always, always just opt to not throw spitballs into it, no matter how fresh and game-changing they might seem when you're mushing them together, and skip on over to a thread about food trends or tech startups or whatever where you can totally slag on the subjects and sling around half-baked opinions and it's cool and nobody minds and everyone has a good time
posted by prize bull octorok at 1:54 PM on June 16, 2015 [34 favorites]


Are there places other than Metafilter where people actually blow up their accounts when they leave? It seems like a very Metafilter thing.

I've been reading lots of old posts in search of the free-talkin' utopia (still looking) and I swear upwards of 50-60% of the posters in some pre-2009 threads are disabled. It's kind of useful information to see that the sort of "most active" userbase has changed so much. I feel like whatever war people want to fight in this thread over the good old days has been over for a while.
posted by selfnoise at 1:55 PM on June 16, 2015


rtha: "Well, that sure was a goodbye."

I like to think of it as a reverse hello.
posted by scrump at 1:55 PM on June 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


It would be nice if we could allow the the guy to exit without taking potshots. He's deactivated, so he can't respond to jokes or snark.
posted by zarq at 1:57 PM on June 16, 2015 [22 favorites]


Some people really like to take potshots though!!
posted by smackfu at 1:57 PM on June 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


I dunno. He took a few shots on his way out. If somebody flips you off as they back out the door, I think you get to point and say "What was up with that?"
posted by maxsparber at 1:58 PM on June 16, 2015 [14 favorites]


Yeah, maybe let's not so much with the needling barbs after the guy has left, it's not necessary. He made his choice, fine, ok, so the thread can continue to be about whatever site issues remain.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 1:59 PM on June 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


...for anybody else with their finger poised tensely above the button or in the middle of composing their exit speech, know that when a thread looks like a minefield to you you can always, always just opt to not throw spitballs into it, no matter how fresh and game-changing they might seem when you're mushing them together, and skip on over to a thread about food trends or tech startups or whatever where you can totally slag on the subjects and sling around half-baked opinions and it's cool and nobody minds and everyone has a good time

This is true! Also true is that you can continue to read the threads with the seemingly potential mines and maybe actually learn something. But oh no! That would have too many positive ripple effects! You would have to grow! You would better understand some of the people around you and the issues they deal with! It might be uncomfortable for you! Quick, hie thee to a thread that will not challenge you!!

Talk about fragility.
posted by mudpuppie at 2:00 PM on June 16, 2015 [18 favorites]


i learned through my own publicly recognized break (one where i didn't announce it - it was noticed by others) that once you hit that button you just can't influence the discussion about you, for better or worse. when someone decides to button with a wall of text, especially one that takes potshots, there will probably be some return fire. they had ever opportunity to button silently but decided to do it publicly, so people are going to respond. c'est la vie.
posted by nadawi at 2:00 PM on June 16, 2015 [4 favorites]


I also hate the "this user is disabled" snarking/handwringing and have always thought if when people disable their accounts we could just ignore it and move on. It's their choice and they can always come back. On the other hand it's awfully hard to avoid commenting when people are bound and determined to make a public spectacle about their buttoning.
posted by MoonOrb at 2:01 PM on June 16, 2015 [8 favorites]


Thank you, Lobstermitten.
posted by zarq at 2:02 PM on June 16, 2015


damn that lack of preview.

i will say if anyone else is having problems with definitions, both terf and transracial have been defined, with their histories discussed, in this very thread - so for anyone participating in the thread, the answers you seek are already here.
posted by nadawi at 2:03 PM on June 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


> good luck finding a place that is gentler to cis white dudes on the rest of the internet, i am sure it'll be real challenging

This is super shitty, lowercase first person and all. The dude (yes) said he doesn't feel like he belongs here any more, can't keep up with the trends and closed up his account.
posted by boo_radley at 2:04 PM on June 16, 2015 [17 favorites]


But, you know, I have a job and a family, and between that and trying to be a decent person, the last thing I need is the website that was my "go-to" to becoming unwelcoming to me because I can't keep up with which minefields around which I'm supposed to pirouette in the interest of "community."

Seriously? TERFs? Transracial? Man, I do some seriously high-level shit for a living, and I can't parse this place anymore without spending an hour offsite educating myself. This is no longer the "best of the web" but rather, as it says on the tin, a "community weblog."


This is hyperbolic for sure, but I'd be lying if I didn't say I could relate to some of it. Perhaps it's the height of privilege to feel frustrated for having to seriously THINK about every word you say before it comes out your mouth less it be interpreted that you've said the WRONG thing.

Talk about fragility.

But it's still frustrating.
posted by philip-random at 2:05 PM on June 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


Seriously? TERFs? Transracial? Man, I do some seriously high-level shit for a living, and I can't parse this place anymore without spending an hour offsite educating myself.

For the record, it's not "this place"; it's the whole world that is changing. An hour invested to talk to other mefites pays dividends elsewhere. Much of what I've learned about trans stuff on mefi has helped with actual IRL interactions with trans people, for example. I'm glad mefi's primed me to be a little less embarrassing to myself in those conversations.

I don't mean this either as a potshot or parting-snark, just an observation that I like that the effort I've made has had good repercussions.
posted by Greg Nog at 2:06 PM on June 16, 2015 [62 favorites]


that sort of frustration might be good for you.
posted by nadawi at 2:06 PM on June 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


philip-random: fwiw, you've always come across as very clear about your willingness to learn, and being especially transparent about not really knowing what the topic is going to be about, and then listening. That's really great.
posted by odinsdream at 2:07 PM on June 16, 2015 [8 favorites]


This is hyperbolic for sure, but I'd be lying if I didn't say I could relate to some of it. Perhaps it's the height of privilege to feel frustrated for having to seriously THINK about every word you say before it comes out your mouth less it be interpreted that you've said the WRONG thing.


I relate to some of it too. But the problem with this situation isn't even that somebody is being asked to seriously think about every word they've been saying. As has been noted above, in closing threads that are problems-waiting-to-happen (or actually happening), the site is literally preventing you from saying the wrong thing in situations like this.

What people are asking for is the right to be possibly wrong in front of an audience and at the expense of others at all times.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 2:09 PM on June 16, 2015 [11 favorites]


I pretty much don't say anything in contentious threads that could possibly be interpreted as an opinion.
posted by smackfu at 2:09 PM on June 16, 2015


philip-random: "This is hyperbolic for sure, but I'd be lying if I didn't say I could relate to some of it. Perhaps it's the height of privilege to feel frustrated for having to seriously THINK about every word you say before it comes out your mouth less it be interpreted that you've said the WRONG thing. "

Having to seriously think about every word you say is nothing new for the POC/QUILTBAG members of this community, here and in real life. And, yet, they live with it.

It seems to me that the biggest "problem" this community is facing is that the majority are having to face some small measure of the same scrutiny that POC/QUILTBAG members face on a daily basis, and are finding it uncomfortable.

There is a position that says, this is a good and necessary thing for MetaFilter, and I agree with this position. There are other positions.
posted by scrump at 2:11 PM on June 16, 2015 [19 favorites]


Do you know, right before this second, I had never heard the term QUILTBAG before?

Took me literally a second to look it up.
posted by maxsparber at 2:13 PM on June 16, 2015 [12 favorites]


Do you know, right before this second, I had never heard the term QUILTBAG before?

Took me literally a second to look it up.


I think you could probably fit all of the "omg special terms for cis het white dudes to be aware of" on a post-it note.
posted by odinsdream at 2:15 PM on June 16, 2015 [14 favorites]


This is super shitty, lowercase first person and all.

Eh, shitty is par for the course in these train wrecks.
posted by MikeMc at 2:15 PM on June 16, 2015 [4 favorites]


Speaking of special terms can we stop using "cis het white dudes"?
posted by MikeMc at 2:16 PM on June 16, 2015 [5 favorites]


Yeah, sorry for the cheapness of that potshot. It was because I'm really, really tired of privileged people deciding that learning how to not swing that privilege around in a way that hurts marginalized people is too much work and then acting like that choice makes them some kind of martyr, and I've been seeing that a lot lately, here and elsewhere, and it particularly rankles because I've had to descend into the depths of the rest of the internet a lot lately, so I've been seeing a lot of the alternative. Plus it feels like we've been seeing more well-poisoning flounces in that vein here lately.
posted by NoraReed at 2:16 PM on June 16, 2015 [23 favorites]


We all have different lived experiences, but chiming in as a 40+ white heterosexual, when I'm confronted with a term I have never seen before, I consult Google. I read a couple definitions, maybe, and then subsequent articles using this term that once I didn't understand now have greater context. If I'm still confused, I have yet to be met with scorn and ridicule around here by asking, "Sorry, pardon my ignorance but can someone tell me what X means?"

But most of the time this is just something that happens on its own while reading. I really hope no one feels they're traversing a minefield when confronted with an unfamiliar acronym, but if you do, just ... ask? I assure you, it's not painful.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 2:17 PM on June 16, 2015 [5 favorites]


And easing off the "I need to have an opinion about this thing I hadn't heard of until literally just now" attitude is one of those things that makes the MetaFilter experience more enjoyable
posted by prize bull octorok at 2:17 PM on June 16, 2015 [15 favorites]


Speaking of special terms can we stop using "cis het white dudes"?

Is there something you'd prefer?
posted by kagredon at 2:17 PM on June 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


Speaking of special terms can we stop using "cis het white dudes"?

Describes me all right.
posted by maxsparber at 2:18 PM on June 16, 2015 [6 favorites]


Speaking of special terms can we stop using "cis het white dudes"?

cis-sexual heterosexual caucasian males, then? I guess I could load a shortcut macro or something.
posted by odinsdream at 2:18 PM on June 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


MikeMc, that one is pretty much plain description as far as I can see. If you object to the term "cis," we've had that fight in MetaTalk plenty of times and we're not having it again here.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 2:19 PM on June 16, 2015 [14 favorites]


MikeMc: "Speaking of special terms can we stop using "cis het white dudes"?"

I'm sorry that you dislike being referred to by your gender presentation, sexual orientation, and race. That must be an uncomfortable feeling.
posted by scrump at 2:20 PM on June 16, 2015 [69 favorites]


OH DID YOU MEAN I SHOULD JUST SAY REGULAR PEOPLE??
posted by odinsdream at 2:20 PM on June 16, 2015 [30 favorites]


MikeMc, that one is pretty much plain description as far as I can see. If you object to the term "cis," we've had that fight in MetaTalk plenty of times and we're not having it again here.

It was a, lame, sort of off the cuff joke.
posted by MikeMc at 2:21 PM on June 16, 2015


Perhaps it's the height of privilege to feel frustrated for having to seriously THINK about every word you say before it comes out your mouth less it be interpreted that you've said the WRONG thing.

Yeah, but that's not Metafilter -- that's life. If you're a person with any empathy or compassion (or social skills) at all, you've got some desire to avoid saying the wrong and hurtful thing. I think that here, though, or maybe just online in general, most of us are exposed to a whole bunch of different people and cultures that we don't encounter in everyday life, so it just seems like it's more frequent. That's not inherently a bad thing, though.

Talk about fragility.

But it's still frustrating.


Sure. And to be clear, my fragility comment was directed at some complaint way up at the top of this thread that the people who care about trying to keep misogynistic or anti-trans shit out of threads are just too fragile to handle honest debate. I turned that one right around, see, in what *I* think was a highly impressive instance of "I'm rubber, you're glue."
posted by mudpuppie at 2:22 PM on June 16, 2015 [9 favorites]


As a cis het white dude, I am fine with that phrasing, though I generally prefer people refer to me as Sexfully Delicious Silver Fox Handsometron
posted by Greg Nog at 2:22 PM on June 16, 2015 [26 favorites]


Speaking of special terms can we stop using "cis het white dudes"?

That's how digitalprimate identified himself (minus the orientation part). I don't see why it's suddenly off-limits.
posted by zombieflanders at 2:22 PM on June 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


Ah. I missed the joke, but I'm sure many of mine go unheralded. Nothing more to say then.
posted by maxsparber at 2:22 PM on June 16, 2015


"cis het white dudes"

It does tend to reflect a perspective which struggles to look beyond the US model of privilege and as such might be regarded as a form of cultural imperialism.
posted by biffa at 2:22 PM on June 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


Ah. I missed the joke,

That's probably because it wasn't a very good one. It happens.
posted by MikeMc at 2:23 PM on June 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


With all of the discussion in this thread about the deletions silencing racist, sexist, and transphobic ideas, I do think that it's worth acknowledging that the Dolezal deletions aren't only silencing racist, sexist, and transphobic ideas. Those deletions also silenced the black and trans MeFites (and hell, any thoughtful MeFites) who might have had a substantive conversation on the topic.

This is what makes me sad about this, rather than some throwback to the good auld days. That we are forced to silence the very voices we are aiming to be inclusive of in order to include them. I get that mod resources are limited, but I can't help but think that it might have been better to have one very heavily modded thread on the subject (and one very short, very narrowly scoped MeTa thread, if necessary).

If the Mods really don't have the resources to fight the battle on multiple fronts, and those affected agree that the threads weren't worth saving, then I defer.

But I can't help but feel like the asshats win when we have to shut down entire subjects of conversation - even to those voices directly affected by the subject - in order to keep the peace.

And I sure as hell can't find any sympathy for the "MetaFilter is an echo chamber" crowd. At least on the Dolezal subject, at least for today, there are no voices on the front page to echo.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:24 PM on June 16, 2015 [25 favorites]


Greg Nog: "As a cis het white dude, I am fine with that phrasing, though I generally prefer people refer to me as Sexfully Delicious Silver Fox Handsometron"

Doesn't exactly roll off the tongue, there. Can I call you Handso for short?
posted by scrump at 2:24 PM on June 16, 2015


you can go with just "sexfully delicious" but it must be sung to the tune of the Lucky Charms jingle
posted by Greg Nog at 2:25 PM on June 16, 2015 [12 favorites]


Can I call you Handso for short?

What say we settle this on the runway... Hand-Solo?
posted by maxsparber at 2:25 PM on June 16, 2015


What is with all these RULES all of a sudden around here
posted by scrump at 2:26 PM on June 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


GREG NOG SHOT FIRST
posted by zombieflanders at 2:27 PM on June 16, 2015 [7 favorites]


Folks continuously express anxiety over saying the "wrong thing", and I think that ties hand-in-hand with the constant accusations of Metafilter becoming an echo chamber full of sheeple, because the implication that these comments make is that there's only one "proper" opinion to hold with everything else even slightly deviating from the norm being "wrong" and "shouted down". And boy, this characterization is just so wrong. There's plenty of nuanced, complex and amicably disagreement to be had, even on topics of social marginalization - heck, even a lot of marginalized people themselves disagree on core issues, yet even when this happens we can still work together and foster respect for each other's viewpoints. But these disagreements all build upon the core observation that women/trans people/queer folks/PoC/disabled people/etc are actual people who deserve to be treated with respect in the first place - something that, while can be simply stated, is actually very difficult to practice in person given the way our culture actively incubates us with beliefs and patterns of behaviors that work contrary to these stated ideas.

In a way, I can see why people really struggle to see the nuances of conversation on these social topics. As a scientific analogy, it's like if they were trying to contradict a group of scientists on an incredibly basic principle - "atoms exist", maybe - and then getting uniform pushback from everyone and not understanding that. But if you're inclined to actually debate something like "atoms exist" in the first place, you really don't know enough about science to see past that hill where everyone else is actively debating the facts on the outlier and devising theories and running experiments and contradicting each other - and really easy to fall into certain cognitive traps of not realizing that there's this type of innovation and challenge going on while characterizing everyone else as a uniform body. For anyone who thinks that there's no new conversation to be had on social justice issues, that everyone on the other side holds the same opinions, that there's no way to have debates that aren't shouty - maybe consider you're on the side of a knowledge plateau where you know just so little about these social issues that there's no realistic way for you to engage with the more complex facets where actual amicable debate and fleshing of complexity occurs, because you just don't have the basic assumed ground-level knowledge to do so. And the only way to really remedy that is to educate yourself instead of trying to toss yourself into the debate over and over again and getting frustrated when it seems like it's everyone against you.
posted by Conspire at 2:27 PM on June 16, 2015 [38 favorites]


saying "now is not the time to discuss this breaking news story" is in no way analogous to shutting down entire subjects of conversation.
posted by nadawi at 2:27 PM on June 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm trying to wrap my head around the anger in this thread. The mods deleted discussions that had nothing to do with CHWDs, and yet they are the ones up in arms and quitting the forums over an attack on their rights. I usually hate references to 'privilege' - but this drama seems to contain some of the purest expression of it.

(If QUILTBAG is a word, then CisHetWhiteDude should be a word).
posted by kanewai at 2:29 PM on June 16, 2015 [5 favorites]


If Google does't provide good context for a word you're looking up, there is always (as the eternally wonderful desjardins said earlier) the Green.

cis-sexual heterosexual caucasian males, then? I guess I could load a shortcut macro or something.

It's "cisgender" not "cissexual", at least most of the time; usually I only hear anything starting with "cissex*" in the context of the word "cissexist", meaning something that is prejudicial in favor of cisgender people. (For example, I went in for a pap smear yesterday and the language around it was really cissexist in a way that made me slightly uncomfortable, because I know that my friends who don't identify as female but still might want screenings for cervical cancer would have to deal with a bunch of misgendering, awkward and cissexist language.)

"Caucasian" is falling out of favor on account of the white supremacist origins of it and the confusion it creates RE the actual people living in the Caucasus.

If there's actual confusion over the terms in particular and that isn't just being used as a debate-shield, I'm sure we could throw something together on the wiki with explanations, especially if it would save us some particularly obnoxious and annoying conversations and derails.
posted by NoraReed at 2:31 PM on June 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


Those deletions also silenced the black and trans MeFites (and hell, any thoughtful MeFites) who might have had a substantive conversation on the topic.

The ignorant comments were already doing that, though. Thoughtful people specifically said they weren't going to participate because the thread was so bad.
posted by jaguar at 2:32 PM on June 16, 2015 [14 favorites]


Nora, I appreciate your clarifying comment. My own reading of digitalprimate's comment wasn't that he was determined to stay ignorant, but that he was acknowledging that the complexity of the dialog was beyond his ability to keep up. Maybe it's reassuring to say "well it only took me five seconds to google a term, why is that so hard?", but I'd like to think -- being familiar somewhat with digitalprimate as a human being -- that it's more than just being able to decode terms. If a person wants to be genuinely caring and empathetic, I can see how they'd start absorbing things and synthesizing an understanding and then hit some power-law wall of "Well, I don't know how to anneal this situation into my viewpoint" and then just wanting to (a) not piss off the people you've considered online friends and peers and (b) attend to real world needs and desires.

We talk a lot about CHWD privilege and I know that it's easy to see buttoning as an expression of that CHWD privilege. I think that digitalprimate wasn't buttoning out of a refusal to learn/ ball-taking-home, but out of a genuine sense that maybe he'd trip up on something and put some hurt upon somebody.
posted by boo_radley at 2:35 PM on June 16, 2015 [9 favorites]


But I can't help but feel like the asshats win when we have to shut down entire subjects of conversation - even to those voices directly affected by the subject - in order to keep the peace.

I'm sympathetic to this argument. We aren't hearing from other people who are affected by this story, and that bothers me too.

But it's not permanent. And people had said that the last thread was so awful that they walked away from it and didn't bother commenting. So I'm not sure how much is actually being lost.
posted by zarq at 2:35 PM on June 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


We can't predict the future.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff)


*wipes grease on bandana*
*hitches up overalls*
Well there's your problem!
posted by phearlez at 2:36 PM on June 16, 2015 [5 favorites]


if you think that's a problem, wait until you can predict the future.
posted by boo_radley at 2:38 PM on June 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


It's nice that on MeFites identify that saying "I'm not X-ist, but I can't keep up" is saying "I'm not regarded as X-ist by the status quo, but I don't like educating myself and still feel that others need to hear my potentially offensive opinions." It's still bias.

Thanks to everyone for respecting that.
posted by halifix at 2:41 PM on June 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


If QUILTBAG is a word, then CisHetWhiteDude should be a word

Change "White" to "Unpigmented" to spice up threads with the acronym.
posted by zombieflanders at 2:41 PM on June 16, 2015 [16 favorites]


I genuinely mean this as a helpful thing to think about; if you get frustrated because you feel like you don't belong and can't participate for reasons that have nothing to do with you personally and everything to do with the circumstances of your birth and biology then imagine if not only Metafilter but the whole fucking world was like that.

Imagine that being your whole life.
posted by winna at 2:44 PM on June 16, 2015 [38 favorites]


to be clear.

I'm not going anywhere ... except for a walk, because it's yet another lovely day here in the Pac-Northwest.

While I'm on this walk, I suspect I'll be mulling over my current big takeaway from this thread.

Metafilter is not an entirely safe place
Metafilter is not an entirely free place.

Obvious, I guess, but every now and then it helps to actually acknowledge the ground you're walking on. I suspect much of the friction at Metafilter comes when those who want it to be more free cross those who want it to be safer (and vice versa). Which inevitably leads to Metas such as this where it feels like we're all diplomats representing various complex interests, trying to agree on where exactly the DMZ should be.
posted by philip-random at 2:45 PM on June 16, 2015 [4 favorites]


My problem with that is that from everything I can tell, the idea you are representing as "more free" boils down to "more free to be a public bigot".
posted by scrump at 2:47 PM on June 16, 2015 [5 favorites]


> I think that digitalprimate wasn't buttoning out of a refusal to learn/ ball-taking-home, but out of a genuine sense that maybe he'd trip up on something and put some hurt upon somebody.

But why button, why not just take a break? And even more so, why leave a comment like the one he did, which practically invited snarky commentary? I'm not saying this to pick on digitalprimate, who's always seemed like an OK guy; I genuinely don't understand why people do this.
posted by languagehat at 2:47 PM on June 16, 2015 [9 favorites]


Change "White" to "Unpigmented" to spice up threads with the acronym.

CHUD is awesome! And it sounds vaguely obscene, which makes it even better. However, I think it might lead to another derail of white guys arguing that they are being oppressed because they have melanin too.

(I'm 3/4 CHWD, so I hope it's ok to make fun of my own people).
posted by kanewai at 2:49 PM on June 16, 2015


....maybe consider you're on the side of a knowledge plateau where you know just so little about these social issues that there's no realistic way for you to engage with the more complex facets where actual amicable debate and fleshing of complexity occurs, because you just don't have the basic assumed ground-level knowledge to do so. And the only way to really remedy that is to educate yourself instead of trying to toss yourself into the debate over and over again and getting frustrated when it seems like it's everyone against you.

A good part of what I do is guiding people over exactly such hills. Science writers get called out all the time for this, and rightly so. If I produce a report about something, or have a public comment, or what ever, I am expected, 100% required to have pieces ready to explain the science without jargon to someone without a science background. This is entirely necessary to allow people who have critical stakes in issues enough context to understand what's happening to and around them.

Like climate change, social change happens whether you pay attention or not. I don't expect someone to know what the hockey stick graph is or why climate research doesn't worry about fugitive black carbon emissions as much any more, what a GHG or an LCA is. Sure, every one of those things is a Google search away, but that really doesn't help context and it sure doesn't transmit nuance. As seen above, I honestly though TERF was a highly derogatory term used to make fun of older feminists, primarily from having seen it used in places like Tumblr and other contexts. I learned today that it started as useful descriptor of points of view within feminism, and isn't (primarily) a really nasty insult.

Jargon and assumed knowledge is bad for any discussion with the general public. One way all of these threads could be vastly improved, in my view, is not assuming that we all have the same context, educationally or experientially. No one ever has any obligation to be anybody's teacher, but don't be surprised misunderstandings or confusion. The single biggest contribution subject-matter experts who contribute here can make is contextualizing for everyone else. Framing issues well is crucial to keep discussions out of the mud. The alternative is a lot of spinning wheels and muck on everyone's faces.
posted by bonehead at 2:52 PM on June 16, 2015 [8 favorites]


The ignorant comments were already doing that, though. Thoughtful people specifically said they weren't going to participate because the thread was so bad.

Yeah, I get that, and tried to explicitly acknowledge it. That's why I would rather have had very heavy moderation at the outset. So thoughtful people could have participated.

And I'm not counting myself among those thoughtful people, by the way, so this isn't about me. It's not limits to my participation that I'm concerned with.

saying "now is not the time to discuss this breaking news story" is in no way analogous to shutting down entire subjects of conversation.

But it's not permanent.

True. So I'm just saying that, as a moderation policy in the future, I'd personally favor brutally heavy moderation at the start of threads involving difficult subjects so that it wasn't necessary for the Mods to shut down all conversation.

Especially since there's little reason to believe that any future thread on this subject that finally gets the go-ahead will not also become a shitstorm without heavy moderation.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:59 PM on June 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


> Metafilter is not an entirely safe place
Metafilter is not an entirely free place.


Wordsmithing a bit, I thought this was a debate about "safety from harm" versus "freedom to cause harm to others" and not the blander, impersonal version of this issue. The only freedom being limited here is the freedom to be an ignorant dickhole when members of the community are explicit about the harm you cause.
posted by Johann Georg Faust at 3:03 PM on June 16, 2015 [7 favorites]


Sorry for the cissexual instead of cisgender mistake, i do know better and in my defense am drunk .
posted by odinsdream at 3:09 PM on June 16, 2015 [9 favorites]


Yeah, I get that, and tried to explicitly acknowledge it.

Ah, gotcha. I didn't quite put two and two together on your post, but that was my misread.
posted by jaguar at 3:10 PM on June 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


A good part of what I do is guiding people over exactly such hills. Science writers get called out all the time for this, and rightly so. If I produce a report about something, or have a public comment, or what ever, I am expected, 100% required to have pieces ready to explain the science without jargon to someone without a science background. This is entirely necessary to allow people who have critical stakes in issues enough context to understand what's happening to and around them.

Well, that's where the analogy breaks down, isn't it? Marginalized people don't have journals. By necessity, our options for connecting with each other and sharing insights and information based upon our bodies of knowledge and experience are largely informal and at a community level - this includes metafilter. Think of all of the threads, for instance, where women bring up a common gendered phenomenon they've noticed - lavaballing, mansplaining, whatever - and then all of these women suddenly chime in with "oh my god, I noticed this was a thing, but I never realized it was a systematic issue with all of these gendered assumptions going on." In other words, you cannot simply characterize the discourse that occurs on this site as marginalized people relaying information to privileged people - a good chunk of it is to develop a space where exactly this type of discourse can occur between marginalized people. And as people have pointed out repeatedly, time after time again, the insistence that all discourse inherently has to cater to people who don't understand is derailing our ability to develop space to discuss any nuance.

And secondly, the point of me bringing up an incredibly basic statement of assumed knowledge like "atoms exist" is because this is precisely where people are stuck upon in regards to conversations on social justice. You may be having to explain certain piece of jargon to people, true, but you're not explaining literally everything from scratch from the ground up starting from kindergarten-level science every time you want to talk about climate change. You're talking to audiences who actually are willing to accept that climate change is a thing in the first place. Meanwhile, we have to start with audiences who think transracialism (not in the definition of adoptees) is even a thing, who don't even understand the basic nuances of social construction of race versus gender, who don't understand definitions of transmisogyny or racism beyond basic "you can't say the t-/n- word", who think they know everything about race/gender because they have one and throw tantrums at even the kindest suggestion that they might not be arguing on an equal level of knowledge here and that they might not know some things.

At a certain stage of ignorance, the onus is on the audience, not on the people trying to have a discussion.
posted by Conspire at 3:13 PM on June 16, 2015 [17 favorites]


I honestly though TERF was a highly derogatory term used to make fun of older feminists, primarily from having seen it used in places like Tumblr and other contexts. I learned today that it started as useful descriptor of points of view within feminism, and isn't (primarily) a really nasty insult.

It's an accurate and useful descriptor. The people who claim it's a nasty insult seem to be afraid of being called transphobic or transmisogynist.

Yet the shoe fits.
posted by zarq at 3:13 PM on June 16, 2015 [11 favorites]


Just a purely technical note, folks - in a MeTa like this, we read every single comment, so flagging tends to be redundant. Flagging stuff that isn't either nuclear-grade fightiness or stuff we've specifically asked people to stop isn't likely to have much effect, either, as we still don't delete much at all here. I know most of you know this, but I suspect it's been long enough since we said it out loud that newer folks haven't heard about it.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 3:18 PM on June 16, 2015 [4 favorites]


You may be having to explain certain piece of jargon to people, true, but you're not explaining literally everything from scratch from the ground up starting from kindergarten-level science every time you want to talk about climate change. You're talking to audiences who actually are willing to accept that climate change is a thing in the first place.

Not that it means anything for this discussion, since we can't argue from the metaphor back to the concept itself, but this is not really true, as someone who also tries to communicate climate science; we frequently do have to start from absolute scratch and contend with outright hostility to the concepts we're trying to convey. The most interesting or useful thing I can get from the comparison is that in both situations, the hard part isn't actually getting new information into peoples' minds - it's getting the old, bad information out first. There might be some way to address that commonality through the lens of the information deficit model of science communication.

On preview, I thought one of the takeaways from the more recent MeTas was that people were encouraged to flag things or use the contact form to explain concerns even when they knew it wouldn't result in immediate deletion - is that not the case?
posted by dialetheia at 3:24 PM on June 16, 2015 [7 favorites]


it's getting the old, bad information out first.

I should have expanded on this a little. One of the biggest problems we have in both e.g. climate science communication and social justice communication is that everyone already thinks they know a bunch about the system in question. Everyone thinks they have some understanding of the weather by virtue of living on Earth, and everyone thinks they understand race and gender on some level because they also have a race and a gender.

The problems arise when people think they understand the thing but they really, really don't, or at least they have a very narrow understanding that is predicated almost all on their narrow experiences - and in both cases, the hardest part is getting people to let go of their previously-held misconceptions on a topic. In other words, it's not the deficit of information we're working against, it's the proliferation of misinformation.
posted by dialetheia at 3:31 PM on June 16, 2015 [5 favorites]


I think that was about flagging site-wide, not in long policy Metas
posted by kagredon at 3:31 PM on June 16, 2015


you're not explaining literally everything from scratch from the ground up starting from kindergarten-level science every time you want to talk about climate change. You're talking to audiences who actually are willing to accept that climate change is a thing in the first place.

You would be surprised. We do have to start from very basic levels. Starting from a grade school education level is frequently what is needed. And no, without dragging what I do into the frame here, I'm not usually talking to people who accept what I have to say. The exact opposite usually. Emotions can run very high.

I think today is the first time I've seen the word "transracialism". I have looked up its meaning, but I have no idea really about what it means in context, particularly the US context. Part of the problem is that I'm not from the US, and talking about "race" with Americans is always fraught, as it depends on cultural experiences we don't share. To be clear, I'm not asking that we do this here, I'm trying to get at the problem around this issue.

But learning without breadcrumbs is hard, and as above, leads to misunderstandings, particularly in nuance. I do think nuance (framing, tone) is one of the primary causes of arguments here, and indeed why this post was deleted. We can't all be experts on everything---which properly means keeping our fingers off the keyboard most of the time. One of the main reasons I come back is to learn about these things. I don't have time to read the primary literature of current gender studies, any more than I expect a humanities scholar to know the carbon cycle.
posted by bonehead at 3:32 PM on June 16, 2015 [6 favorites]


Not that it means anything for this discussion, since we can't argue from the metaphor back to the concept itself, but this is not really true, as someone who also tries to communicate climate science; we frequently do have to start from absolute scratch and contend with outright hostility to the concepts we're trying to convey

It depends on where your audience is at - but I doubt you explain that and immediately go onto the heavy field-specific statistics right away with the exact same people. Similarly, to discuss the complexities of what's going on with the Dolezal case in the presence of folks who mostly don't grasp the basic distinctions between race and gender identity as social constructs, and who repeatedly invoke their majority voice to insist the conversation centers around them and their education, is not possible. So to go back to the point: no, Metafilter is not a place where we can discuss Dolezal at the moment, at least not without very deliberate framing and aggressive moderation, because informed conversation on it is on a level beyond what's possible here. I'd like it to be something we can talk about, due to the lack of community spaces PoC have for actual discussion on these items, but again, we can't unless people take a step back with the constant transphobic and racist derails.
posted by Conspire at 3:34 PM on June 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


The problems arise when people think they understand the thing but they really, really don't, or at least they have a very narrow understanding that is predicated almost all on their narrow experiences - and in both cases, the hardest part is getting people to let go of their previously-held misconceptions on a topic. In other words, it's not the deficit of information we're working against, it's the proliferation of misinformation.

Dealing with existing externalities, is the politest way I've heard this put. Talking to the yahoos is another.
posted by bonehead at 3:44 PM on June 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


On preview, I thought one of the takeaways from the more recent MeTas was that people were encouraged to flag things or use the contact form to explain concerns even when they knew it wouldn't result in immediate deletion - is that not the case?

Yeah, that's a site-wide thing - MeTa is a little different because when one of this comes up, the duty mod generally has the thread up for their entire shift and is reading every single comment, so drawing our attention to it doesn't have a ton of utility. (Usually it's not an issue, but I've seen about ten or fifteen flags in here in less than an hour, and figured it was worth a clarification.)
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 3:51 PM on June 16, 2015


This is hyperbolic for sure, but I'd be lying if I didn't say I could relate to some of it. Perhaps it's the height of privilege to feel frustrated for having to seriously THINK about every word you say before it comes out your mouth less it be interpreted that you've said the WRONG thing.

yeah, I get this, but let's turn it around: imagine the feeling of having to seriously THINK about every word you say before it comes out your mouth less it be noticed and you get beaten to death or stabbed or shot at or lose your job or children and good luck going to the law, because the law often encourages this, and, even if it doesn't, the people in charge of defining and maintaining it do.

So, yeah, I get that frustration is bad, but it could be worse....
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:58 PM on June 16, 2015 [20 favorites]


If anyone else is considering pushing the Big Red Button:

1) Greasemonkey
2) The Diediedead script (a killfile script)
3) When you start getting annoyed at certain conversations, avoid reading about topics where those conversations are common
4) When you start getting annoyed at MeTa, avoid reading MeTa

Seriously, site usage is made so much more enjoyable by the above.

The dangers of killfiles are far overstated. All of the people I've killfiled are on the same end of the political spectrum as me. In fact, I think that I'm in agreement with them on every topic I can recall, except maybe cilantro or dogs vs. cats or other stupid stuff like that. But on all the big issues, we're "on the same side". But MeFi has a ton of people. And when you have a ton of people, there will be assholes. And they won't all be conveniently on the other side. And any opinion that a killfiled user offers is usually much better stated by some other user. So killfiles have not turned MeFi into an echo chamber. But they have made the site a much, much more fun site to read and learn about both goofy shit and really important and serious issues, both.

And avoiding MeTa is massive. Like, it makes a game-changingly giant change to ones impression of the site. MeTa can be important and educational, so it's good to read, but when you get so stressed out you're thinking "Maybe I should just leave this site forever", a better option is "Maybe I should just leave MetaTalk for a few months"
posted by Bugbread at 4:00 PM on June 16, 2015 [12 favorites]


And boy, this characterization is just so wrong. There's plenty of nuanced, complex and amicably disagreement to be had, even on topics of social marginalization -

Maybe. But there are a substantial portion of people here who shoot first and ask questions later. The last time I attempted to contribute something tangential to a thread that had similar issues, I got literally got fart noises in response.

And while both the fart and my middle finger response rightfully got deleted -- that fact that it happened at all shows distinctly the kind of culture Mefi seems to have around these kinds of topics.

If I were to draw an analogy to climate change, it would be like someone innocently asking how much solar flares/intensity contributes, and instead of getting "you might think that, but not as much as X", getting nothing but snark and fart noises because that is the start to a typical climate-change skeptic talking point, and we all hate climate change skeptics.

QUILTBAG

I have issues with this kind of acronym soup because it is necessarily *never* complete and never avoids the reduction people think it does, but my biggest issue is that this particular one just sounds *awful*. :-) I suppose its better than "BLATQUIL" :-P or "UBILLQAT"? Ack... Phbbbt...
posted by smidgen at 4:03 PM on June 16, 2015 [5 favorites]


Have those GM scripts updated for the new site theme? Because they weren't working well the last time I checked.
posted by zarq at 4:11 PM on June 16, 2015


i love QUILTBAG! it reminds me of my grandma's quilting bag - you could always find the most interesting fabrics in there and every one seemed to have a story - i found it far more wonderful than looking through her bolts of fabric.

i personally tend to use "queer" but i know some people are opposed to that too. hopefully one day there will be less need to group such wide ranging communities together - for now it seems like there is still a need to discuss not-straight people from time to time and so having a variety of terms to pull from seems useful.
posted by nadawi at 4:12 PM on June 16, 2015 [8 favorites]


zarq: "Have those GM scripts updated for the new site theme? Because they weren't working well the last time I checked."

I dunno about all of them, but MefiQuote and Diediedead are working fine (except, and this predates the site theme change, Diediedead doesn't killfile comments that appear when you click the "1 new comment, show" thing that appears at the bottom of the page. You need to reload the entire page for diediedead to apply to the new comments).
posted by Bugbread at 4:22 PM on June 16, 2015


Excellent. Thank you. Have been missing MeFiQuote.
posted by zarq at 4:24 PM on June 16, 2015


i love QUILTBAG!

eat a bag of quilts?
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 4:27 PM on June 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


It's Canute
Cuchulainn was the dude whose body twisted up into Warp Spasms
he ruled


Actually Canute never fought the tide; he was making a point to his courtiers about the limits of a king's authority.

I think Cuchulainn is probably the reference he was going for tho.
posted by Sebmojo at 4:29 PM on June 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


If I were to draw an analogy to climate change, it would be like someone innocently asking how much solar flares/intensity contributes, and instead of getting "you might think that, but not as much as X", getting nothing but snark and fart noises because that is the start to a typical climate-change skeptic talking point, and we all hate climate change skeptics.

Well.... yeah. Which you also totally see here on the site. My personal version of climate change is evolutionary biology, which I have also taught to less-than-receptive audiences before. In some situations--like in my classroom discussion sections, where I am being paid to be an educator, or in my outreach lecture-to-the-public group, where I am volunteering my time--if someone starts quizzing me on the second law of thermodynamics or why monkeys still exist, I'll cheerfully and gently explain either that it isn't applicable to the subject we're discussing or that it doesn't actually "disprove" anything about evolutionary theory. I am quite willing to be patient and tolerant in that situation.

On the other hand, if I am hanging out at a party and a friend of my roommate's starts going into classic creationist talking points... well, how patient I am feeling is going to depend much more on my mood and whether I feel like teaching right now than on the fact that there's a creationist in my living room. Sometimes I feel like going "Actually, this isn't relevant because such and such." Sometimes I go "Oh, pffbbbbbbt. You realize I work on this, right? I'm right here in the room." because generally speaking that's enough to embarrass the creationist and make them shut up about it so I don't have to teach. Sometimes I just stay awkwardly silent and try to either escape the room for a bit (or the party), or I try to change the topic because I just cannot fucking deal right now. No matter how I choose to react, it still sucks because now the fun party is over for me as I think about how to handle this person who is a) super super clueless and b) likely to be hostile if I point that cluelessness out without bending over backwards to handle their emotions.

It's pretty much exactly how I deal with people who are clueless about my sexual orientation. Except I chose to get into evolutionary biology, and I didn't choose that aspect of myself. For me, Metafilter is not like my classrooms or my LGBTQA panels; Metafilter is a party with cool people discussing cool things. Whether I am willing to hang out in the party and put on my education hat when someone says something utterly clueless and also hostile to me on a personal or semi-personal level is entirely down to how much energy I have on me. And for the record, I am someone who genuinely loves teaching and educating people--now imagine someone whose identity is also a "matter for education" who doesn't ever enjoy that activity.
posted by sciatrix at 4:29 PM on June 16, 2015 [29 favorites]




> when you get so stressed out you're thinking "Maybe I should just leave this site forever"

Like Languagehat, above, I just don't get pooshing the button and walking out in a hurfdurf. If ever there would have been a likely candidate for the flounce of shame it would have been me. And yet I seldom have a problem going Oh look, somebody is Wrong On The Internet. Let 'Em Be Wrong. (That may be due to my having got my baptism of flame on usenet, which you could not resign from except by walking away from the keyboard.)

> this kind of acronym soup because it is necessarily *never* complete and never avoids the reduction people think it does

In its favor, it does give you an excuse to go look it up, as maxsparber recommended re QUILTBAG ("Took me literally a second to look it up.") Took me two, because I checked both urbandictionary and encyclopediadramatica.
posted by jfuller at 4:32 PM on June 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


Except I chose to get into evolutionary biology, and I didn't choose that aspect of myself.

Andrew Ti and his guest Kara Brown, on today's Yo Is This Racist? podcast said something along the lines of:

T: "People ask this all the time: 'what if I'm curious?' Yeah, I don't doubt that you're curious."
B: "Why do I have to be uncomfortable because you're curious?"

Which seems pretty on the money today.
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:40 PM on June 16, 2015 [13 favorites]


jfuller: "Like Languagehat, above, I just don't get pooshing the button and walking out in a hurfdurf."

When people get pissed off, some bottle it up, some vent to unrelated parties, and some vent to related parties. People push the button for various reasons, and one of those reasons is when they get angry. I would think it would be weird if when it came to pushing the big red button, zero percent of people vented. Likewise, I would think it would be weird if 100% vented.
posted by Bugbread at 4:42 PM on June 16, 2015 [5 favorites]


I read the two deleted threads (well, third too, but I didn't see that until much later and it didn't have any comments), and am kind of disappointed in how both those discussions and this one have gone. It's a shame to lose a decent FPP after 100 comments, but I understand why it got axed after we couldn't right the skid into the shit.

This has also been a pretty disappointing MeTa, where the two putative sides seem to routinely burlesque the others' position into unrecognizable caricature, and where the mods seem really overwhelmed and unable to avoid an incoherent mix of novel interpretations and reactive deletions that seem to imply that the push for more moderation really does require more resources.

It's frustrating to see the repeated insinuation that the only reason to object to the increased moderation is a desire to return to the nastiness that used to characterize a lot of MeFi; it's likewise baffling to see older MeFi described as if that was the only salient feature. It kind of obviously can't have been if so many current members were also members then — there must have been something worthwhile.

The other side of that is that there seems to be a lack of understanding about what the trade off in moderation actually has been in terms of discourse and ethos, and why other people may disagree about it. I tend to think that at least some of this fairly venomous discussion comes from people not recognizing what the opposite arguments actually are, and because of that either reducing them or dismissing them as if they could only have come from bad faith.

The previous moderation philosophy, the one that MeFi has shifted away from, tolerated a lot more clueless or offensive comments as well as a lot more nasty retorts. It was generally assumed that bad, noxious shit would get called out, and a lot of it did. There was an ethos, informed in large part by the general seed population of MeFi coming up through usenet, of crucible liberalism, where it wasn't necessary to delete e.g. ParisParamus comments because the consensus opinion would be expressed through calling them and him out. In some ways, that's an easy process to trust in — generally, the less moderation you do, the more transparent it is.

But the invisible cost of that model is that e.g. people who don't want to wade through 30 sexist comments even knowing that there will be regular callouts of those sexist comments were being forced into a conversational norm based on contention and bile. That's a real cost and had a real harm associated with it in diminished participation from members of groups who would routinely have to deal with pretty vile shit thoughtlessly posted. There was a great speech posted here some time back about the unequal costs of free speech liberalism, specifically in the context of working with computer programmers (I wish I could remember the actual link), which pointed out how these costs are unjustly borne by the folks least traditionally privileged, and how they can reinforce an unjust status quo.

However, that's not the same as saying, for example, that people who prefer that contentious model want a site where people are free to be unrepentant bigots. And framing those objections in that way, which has been done again and again within this thread, ends up reinforcing the notion that people who do not want to bear the unfair burden of a mode of discussion that requires that they be exposed to thoughtless and hateful shit really do just want to be free from disagreement because they're treating disagreement as if it is the same as being exposed to hateful shit. I don't think that's actually what people taking that position want generally, though (people being people) some of them do want to avoid strong or profane disagreement in general (see AskMe's aversion to arguments). But it's essentially an ad hominem attack to assume that people who are uncomfortable or unhappy with MeFi and MeTa's shift toward more active moderation are de facto endorsing bigotry.

It's also worth noting that there are costs to a more active moderation philosophy, and that the reduction of other members to bigots as justification for the loss of members uncomfortable with that active moderation philosophy is unfair and undercuts the argument. Just like how losing e.g. women members negatively impacts the breadth of total topics and conversations here, reducing the members to bigots both diminishes overall participation and shifts focus from the problematic parts of their participation to their overall character.
posted by klangklangston at 4:44 PM on June 16, 2015 [84 favorites]


Thanks Klang, good points.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:48 PM on June 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


Hey mods? How about a nice round of soothing chamomile tea and a shoulder massage? On me. You deserve it.

There should be a "buy the mods a beer" button in contentious threads that lets you anonymously donate $5 to the PayPal account of whomever is on duty at the moment.
posted by Jacqueline at 4:49 PM on June 16, 2015 [10 favorites]


Just a purely technical note, folks - in a MeTa like this, we read every single comment

I haven't donated in a while and this was the line that made me go correct that
posted by prize bull octorok at 4:51 PM on June 16, 2015 [10 favorites]


klangklangston: "But it's essentially an ad hominem attack to assume that people who are uncomfortable or unhappy with MeFi and MeTa's shift toward more active moderation are de facto endorsing bigotry. "

The more active moderation grew directly out of several long MetaTalk knock-down drag-outs surrounding transgender issues. In many ways, the new mode of moderation is intended to directly address some of the worst legacy behaviors of the MetaFilter userbase.

So the strident resistance in some quarters to a change in moderation essentially is an endorsement of bigotry, because the new moderation policies are aimed directly at bigotry.
posted by scrump at 4:51 PM on June 16, 2015 [21 favorites]


That's well put Klang.

Scrump, you're wrong, and Klang is right. Imagine that I put a pithy analogy here for you to dismiss, if you like.
posted by Sebmojo at 4:54 PM on June 16, 2015 [5 favorites]


restless_nomad: "Just a purely technical note, folks - in a MeTa like this, we read every single comment, so flagging tends to be redundant. "

Just to double-check: does the flagging inconvenience mods or create more work? Because, if so, I'll stop flagging in these kinds of MeTa threads, but I'm not so good at remembering exceptions and special cases, so if you're just ignoring the flags but they don't create any hassle, I'll just forget about this edge case and go back to using a single flagging standard.
posted by Bugbread at 4:56 PM on June 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


Eh, we have to clear them, and mostly I check them regardless of where they point to, so it's a little more work. Mostly, though, I just don't want people to think that we are ignoring their flags when the issue is different standards of moderation.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 4:58 PM on June 16, 2015


"Tends to be redundant."
This is not to say a comment with oddles of flags won't be dismissed, I would imagine it would help, especially in real problematic cases.
posted by clavdivs at 5:02 PM on June 16, 2015


People who prefer the older, contentious style of discussion are, however, pushing for a site model that disproportionately makes minority and marginalized people feel unwelcome. I get why they prefer that, but I completely agree with scrump.

They don't need to be consciously endorsing bigotry to be pushing towards a site model that amplifies existing cultural dynamics of marginalization and pushes minority members off the site. That contentious model has the effect of increasing the, for lack of a better term, bigotry levels of the metafilter community and diminishing the diversity of people who find Metafilter a welcome online home. Even though I suspect that's not a directly intended effect for many of the people who miss that style, I find it very difficult to be sympathetic to the people pushing for that model. It's a style that I associate with online harassment and would find deeply unwelcome at this stage of my life, and a style that I furthermore believe to be pretty bad at drawing out interesting discussion.
posted by sciatrix at 5:02 PM on June 16, 2015 [24 favorites]


Imagine that I put a pithy analogy here for you to dismiss, if you like.

I'm not sure comparing comment deletions on a web forum to COINTELPRO crackdowns on Marxists was wise, but I'm sure it would have made sense as part of a longer argument. I'm just sad we won't see that argument today.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 5:03 PM on June 16, 2015 [18 favorites]


Case in point, while I edited my comment, R_N was on it. That's service and attention to detail.
posted by clavdivs at 5:04 PM on June 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


However, that's not the same as saying, for example, that people who prefer that contentious model want a site where people are free to be unrepentant bigots.

In practice, it is though. Maybe not for the most overtly racist and misogynist stuff, which would add you say get shouted down, but for the more insidious (but no less harmful) stuff, or the stuff about which people are generally less aware or sensitive, the dynamic of bigotry being shouted down just wouldn't happen. One merely needs look at the deleted FPP that spawned this meta to see that.
posted by Dysk at 5:12 PM on June 16, 2015 [10 favorites]


However, that's not the same as saying, for example, that people who prefer that contentious model want a site where people are free to be unrepentant bigots.

Well, maybe not, but there is also the refusal of the "people who prefer that contentious model" to understand (or admit) that, even if they aren't particularly bigoted themselves, their preferred mode gives a lot of cover to people who are (or, at least, people who are so enmeshed in the bigoted status quo that they don't realize how they are presenting and are so invested in that status quo and "contentious discourse" that they don't really seem to care much).

And, as I've said elsewhere, I am getting increasingly impatient with the idea that people's motives matter more than the effects of their actions -- it doesn't really matter if a member is a closeted misogynist or someone who is genuinely clueless and enjoys arguing; if they are driving women off the site, it's their problem, and they need to fix it.

So, yeah, I guess the site could stand to have less defensiveness on all sides, but considering how much higher the real life stakes are on some sides than others, I don't know if that is fair or reasonable to ask.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:14 PM on June 16, 2015 [22 favorites]


So, yeah, I guess the site could stand to have less defensiveness on all sides, but considering how much higher the real life stakes are on some sides than others, I don't know if that is fair or reasonable to ask.

the real life stakes on a message board are that people will see words that they don't like
posted by Sebmojo at 5:18 PM on June 16, 2015 [6 favorites]


No, Sebmojo. That is not the real life stakes. Multiple people in this thread and God knows how many past threads have explained that over and over and over.

When your very being--due to whatever intersections of race, gender identity, and sexual orientation--is constantly under attack, one actively looks for ways to stop being attacked for a while.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 5:20 PM on June 16, 2015 [20 favorites]


the real life stakes on a message board are that people will see words that they don't like

Sure, and the consequences of people seeing words they don't like is that they don't participate and then all of us have a less interesting site to read.
posted by chrchr at 5:20 PM on June 16, 2015 [8 favorites]


I took a creative writing non-fiction course with a woman who was ISU's oldest student (mid-to-late 90s). She wrote this story about how her great grandson was gay and was one of the first people to be diagnosed (in Iowa) with AIDS. This was at a time when people were deathly afraid of the illness and had little understanding of it. She wrote about how when he was first hospitalized he complained of the cold, so he decided to sew him a quilt.

She read the story and it was filled with the common horrible stories of disease and bigotry. Pretty much everyone was bawling.

Her great grandson died before she could finish the quilt, so she stayed up for days to get it done for his funeral. They draped the coffin with the quilt. It wasn't until the family was gathered for the service that she noticed, in her haste and exhaustion, one of the squares was rotated by 90 degrees.

Her writing was decent, and her story moving. She even had a picture of the quilt covered casket.

The knife was through the heart, she need only twist.

Then her final sentences were something like this:

He didn't ask for the sickness that killed him. He didn't ask to be born wrong. Like the quilt square he was just an imperfection that was too late to fix.

People tried to make her understand why this ending sucked and how she could make it not only work—with the tiniest of tweaks—but be devastating to the reader and a piece to never be forgotten. She was totally unwilling to listen or change her story (or mind).

This was 20 years ago, so she's dead for certain. I have no doubt she loved her grandson, am certain she wasn't a bigot in an active sense, and in my opinion she fucked up the ending terribly. But I think of that story often.

I don't really know why I am relating this now, other than someone mentioned quilts and this story seems like an allegory for this thread.
posted by cjorgensen at 5:21 PM on June 16, 2015 [32 favorites]


GenjiandProust: "And, as I've said elsewhere, I am getting increasingly impatient with the idea that people's motives matter more than the effects of their actions -- it doesn't really matter if a member is a closeted misogynist or someone who is genuinely clueless and enjoys arguing; if they are driving women off the site, it's their problem, and they need to fix it."

Motives don't matter more than effects, but why ignore someone's motives and instead accuse their effects as being their true motives?

Okay, that seemed a bit opaque. More specifically: MeFi, for a long time, believed that the best way to fight bigotry was to allow the MeFi readership to give it a resounding smackdown. That method has proven not to work as well as the idealists hoped. The new approach, deleting more stuff, is working better. The end result is more important than the motive, so I'm in favor of deleting.

But there's a big difference between saying "Your proposed method of fighting bigotry doesn't work as well as my proposed method of fighting bigotry, so your intentions may be good, but what truly matters is results" and "Your proposed method of fighting bigotry doesn't work as well as my proposed method of fighting bigotry, so what you want is to increase the amount of bigotry."
posted by Bugbread at 5:36 PM on June 16, 2015 [13 favorites]


Sebmojo: “That's well put Klang.”

I gather you didn't actually read his comment, and just noticed that scrump disagreed with a part of it – because you don't seem to have understood what klangklangston was saying.
posted by koeselitz at 5:38 PM on June 16, 2015 [7 favorites]


the real life stakes on a message board are that people will see words that they don't like

fffm said it more succinctly, but: this kind of thing is why the "contentious model people" don't get any benefit of the doubt, and why the "pox on both your houses" stance is misplaced and damaging.

Yeah, there are no real life stakes on a message board, or almost none, especially for the white, cis, male, etc etc posters. Which is why I was contrasting the real life stakes of the people pushing back with the message board stakes of the "contentious model people." As many people have explained over and over in this thread, for them, because of race, gender, sexual expression, etc the very process of being in the daily world is a threat. Any day could end with a rape or a board to the face or the loss of your job or housing or children or any one of a thousand lesser problems. And if you think that the possibility that you might end up feeling bad because of some ignorant thing you wrote on the internet stacks up to that, well, I don't know what to tell you.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:41 PM on June 16, 2015 [16 favorites]


Motives don't matter more than effects, but why ignore someone's motives and instead accuse their effects as being their true motives?

because I can't ever know their true motives. I have no way to peer into people's hearts. I can see how they act and the effects those acts have. So, if a poster's behavior is driving, say, PoC off the site, it does not matter if they are "really racist" or just "confrontational. They are doing racism's work, and they have to live with that.

And I'm not saying "Your proposed method of fighting bigotry doesn't work as well as my proposed method of fighting bigotry," I'm saying "your preferred method of discourse privileges and protects bigots, so it doesn't really matter if you are a bigot or not, you are providing cover for bigots, and that's your problem, not mine." "People who enjoy contentious posting," much like "equal opportunity offender" comics, weirdly, never seem to land blows that matter on white cis straight men.

It's a funny world.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:46 PM on June 16, 2015 [18 favorites]


And it's been a long day in a long month in a long year, and they aren't half over yet. I'm going to bed.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:47 PM on June 16, 2015


MetaFilter: i do know better and in my defense am drunk .
posted by Jacqueline at 5:47 PM on June 16, 2015 [8 favorites]


klangklangston: “It's frustrating to see the repeated insinuation that the only reason to object to the increased moderation is a desire to return to the nastiness that used to characterize a lot of MeFi; it's likewise baffling to see older MeFi described as if that was the only salient feature. It kind of obviously can't have been if so many current members were also members then — there must have been something worthwhile.”

That's not really a rationally sound argument. People might have stuck around for a lot of reasons, and the old MeFi being great is only one possibility. Another one is that the old MeFi was complicated, sometimes good and sometimes awful. Another one – the one I tend to feel makes most sense – is that the people who've stuck around have changed without knowing it. My feeling is that Mayor Curley would certainly not enjoy MeFi today if the laws were immediately relaxed and everything went back to the way it was, because some of us would be suddenly free to say what we thought in the most colorful terms, and that would not be pleasant. And Mayor Curley has not shown a good deal of toughness of hide in this thread. I think he's changed more than he realizes.

The old nastiness was enjoyable. It had a sense of freedom; it was liberal, it was anti-bigotry, so it had a sense of righteousness, too. We were free to tell people they were full of shit, and that they should shut their fucking mouths. Mayor Curley enjoyed that as much as anyone. But we're different people now. Maybe that growth is good for us. Either way, it certainly isn't going to kill us to just try, a tiny bit, not to be such assholes.

And don't try to tell me that there's anything behind the new, heavier moderation scheme beyond "don't be an asshole." That pretty much encompasses it. It's easy. It sometimes isn't the fun thing to do, particularly when it's appealing to be an asshole in the name of justice or freedom or whatever, but it still isn't that difficult to just make the call and not be a dick.
posted by koeselitz at 5:49 PM on June 16, 2015 [15 favorites]


But there's a big difference between saying "Your proposed method of fighting bigotry doesn't work as well as my proposed method of fighting bigotry, so your intentions may be good, but what truly matters is results" and "Your proposed method of fighting bigotry doesn't work as well as my proposed method of fighting bigotry, so what you want is to increase the amount of bigotry."

Extending that good faith is possible when it's clear that everyone is on the same page about fighting bigotry. That's not the case when you have people coming in saying that what people in favor of more active moderation really want [is] a site that features commiseration about how everyone unlike you is a Philistine or that they "really" mean is 'go away and come back when you agree with me'.
posted by kagredon at 5:51 PM on June 16, 2015 [7 favorites]


Yo, the mayor buttoned?
posted by clavdivs at 5:52 PM on June 16, 2015


GenjiandProust: "And I'm not saying "Your proposed method of fighting bigotry doesn't work as well as my proposed method of fighting bigotry," I'm saying "your preferred method of discourse privileges and protects bigots, so it doesn't really matter if you are a bigot or not, you are providing cover for bigots, and that's your problem, not mine.""

Sorry, my comment wasn't directed at you specifically. If you're not doing the "You want MeFi to be more bigoted" thing, then you're not engaged in the behavior I was discussing.
posted by Bugbread at 5:55 PM on June 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


However, that's not the same as saying, for example, that people who prefer that contentious model want a site where people are free to be unrepentant bigots.

I don't think that's quite true.

My context for disagreement: I'm one of those people who came up through usenet, spending more time than I like to admit on various queer and depression soc.*s and alt.*s. And your term "crucible" is so apt! There was something really exhilarating about calling out bigotry and hatred in terms one just can't freely use in real life without threat of harm. To be loud, to be vulgar, to be absolute, to use volume as a weapon. It's an electrical feeling very separate from the antelope-spotting-a-lion paralysis that happens (to me at least) in the real world. I love arguing almost as much as I hate being thought wrong, and the anger and vindication of contention kept me going for years.

But there were really two costs to that model. Not just the cost to the participants on the good side who were so vigorous in their defense against seemingly endless hatreds--there was plenty of that cost, and everyone seems to find a breaking point there eventually. But the other cost is, the model creates bigotry. It creates an environment where trolling is fun, where everyone can participate in bashing, where the excitement of participating in, or watching, a really loud argument can be indulged in repeatedly. Even if you did not share an actual hatred for an oppressed group, you could share in the fun of arguing, and become part of that problem of hatred. The model trains people to stay contentious, to lack ways of backing down, of listening. To turn opponents into stereotypes in a way that would probably be shocking to themselves if they heard themselves say similar things in the real world. (Well, one would hope.)

So people who say that they prefer the contentious model, even if they themselves are not bigots, even if they would repudiate bigotry, are, I think, arguing for an environment where at least other people are free to discover within themselves and cultivate bigotry and the tools to forcefully propagate that bigotry, because the only cost for them is a fun bit of angry yelling.

As much as I love arguing, as much as I love playing devil's advocate and shouting down and being shouted down, I have to say, I find this current model far less noisy, far healthier.
posted by mittens at 5:55 PM on June 16, 2015 [22 favorites]


That was rudely me, got the skinny. Koeselitz, is it wise to surmise what a member who has buttoned may do?
posted by clavdivs at 5:57 PM on June 16, 2015


But there's a big difference between saying "Your proposed method of fighting bigotry doesn't work as well as my proposed method of fighting bigotry, so your intentions may be good, but what truly matters is results" and "Your proposed method of fighting bigotry doesn't work as well as my proposed method of fighting bigotry, so what you want is to increase the amount of bigotry."

Either way it presupposes a widely-shared definition of what constitutes bigotry and assumes there are no grey areas.

I'm saying "your preferred method of discourse privileges and protects bigots, so it doesn't really matter if you are a bigot or not, you are providing cover for bigots, and that's your problem, not mine."

Yeah, I guess. I see it as privileging reader over writers, which is mostly fine although we never really know who is or isn't reading, so we have some model of a reader instead. Again, fine. I think it loses some diversity of viewpoints that aren't out-and-out bigoted, but so be it.
posted by GuyZero at 6:00 PM on June 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


clavdivs: “That was rude, got the skinny. Koeselitz, is it wise to surmise what a member who has buttoned may do?”

Ah, I missed that. Sorry.
posted by koeselitz at 6:00 PM on June 16, 2015


klangklangston: There was a great speech posted here some time back about the unequal costs of free speech liberalism, specifically in the context of working with computer programmers (I wish I could remember the actual link), which pointed out how these costs are unjustly borne by the folks least traditionally privileged, and how they can reinforce an unjust status quo.

Yay! That was my post, and the speech was by Metafilter's own brainwane. It left an impression on me, too.
posted by hydropsyche at 6:05 PM on June 16, 2015 [7 favorites]


mittens, I read klanglangston's comment as saying it's better to tell someone "you don't realize that what you're asking for would just leave people free to be unrepentant bigots" rather than saying "you [explicitly] want a site where people are free to be unrepentant bigots". However much intention does or doesn't matter, if people think they're being called [intentional] bigots (or Philistines), it doesn't help the thread.
posted by uosuaq at 6:05 PM on June 16, 2015 [5 favorites]


I'm not pro-bigotry, just really into CHUD-pride.( 🍔 )
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:07 PM on June 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


"It's not about hate. It's about CHUD-history."

Really has a ring to it actually.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:08 PM on June 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


not all moderation issues have been or are about bigotry - basically, people are saying that we now have to see things through that lens and that lens only

never mind that there are other contentious issues, such as politics and what dissenting viewpoints are allowed in non social justice discussions

you know what they say - to someone who only has a hammer, everything looks like a nail

there's nothing wrong with having different standards for different subjects

but the next time someone stands up for something like people being able to argue for 2nd amendment rights against vocal opposition, it isn't useful to hurl accusations that more lenient moderation in these cases enables bigotry
posted by pyramid termite at 6:09 PM on June 16, 2015


"And Mayor Curley has not shown a good deal of toughness of hide in this thread. I think he's changed more than he realizes."

Great, you think he changed more then he relized. What if he had shown more toughness, the thread isn't closed...am I wrong that we don't surmise on members actions or intentions after they have buttoned?
posted by clavdivs at 6:11 PM on June 16, 2015


However much intention does or doesn't matter, if people think they're being called [intentional] bigots (or Philistines), it doesn't help the thread.

sigh. Right. When privileged people are asked to think before they speak and to understand that intentions do not outweigh effects, it's "frustrating", but everyone else had better watch their tone or how do they expect anyone to become an ally?
posted by kagredon at 6:12 PM on June 16, 2015 [19 favorites]


you know what they say - to someone who only has a hammer, everything looks like a nail

Oh man I love that saying it applies to like so many things.
posted by nom de poop at 6:15 PM on June 16, 2015 [20 favorites]


Fun fact, I spraypainted a nail today for a bird feeder, I used a cotton ball as to not mare the paint on the head.
posted by clavdivs at 6:17 PM on June 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


kagredon, I didn't say anything about asking people to think before speaking or to understand that intentions don't trump effects. I said calling people bigots (assuming they're not openly being bigots at the time) doesn't help. That was the full extent of what I said.
posted by uosuaq at 6:21 PM on June 16, 2015 [6 favorites]


>"And Mayor Curley has not shown a good deal of toughness of hide in this thread. I think he's changed more than he realizes."

Great, you think he changed more then he relized. What if he had shown more toughness, the thread isn't closed...am I wrong that we don't surmise on members actions or intentions after they have buttoned?


Yeah, that reads as fucked-up to me; stay and be called a shit, leave and be called a sucky baby. Meet the new nastiness, same as the old nastiness, just with a little less profanity and little more smugness, I suppose.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 6:22 PM on June 16, 2015 [18 favorites]


I said calling people bigots (assuming they're not openly being bigots at the time) doesn't help.

Apply the Jay Smooth rule. Talk about the things being said, not the people saying them. 'That thing you said is pretty bigoted', not 'you are a bigot'.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:23 PM on June 16, 2015 [10 favorites]


Your proposed method of fighting bigotry doesn't work as well as my proposed method of fighting bigotry

I can not imagine that moderation has done anything at all to fight bigotry. It silences it. It does not educate. The bigot learns nothing. Their surface behavior might change, but only on MeFi. That's all well and good, so far as creating a place where readers will not have to see bigotry, but it is far from a "method of fighting" it.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:27 PM on June 16, 2015 [6 favorites]


other contentious issues, such as politics and what dissenting viewpoints are allowed in non social justice discussions

Oh look, it's our old friend, Opinions That Are Suppressed Even Though They Are Not Bigoted At All. Are these Opinions still mysterious as ever? Actually, no: here finally is an example of such an opinion:

the next time someone stands up for something like people being able to argue for 2nd amendment rights against vocal opposition

So, are you saying 2nd Amendment arguments are not "allowed"? That doesn't sound right, since you talk about people arguing them. Or do you just mean that these arguments encounter resistance from others? OK, so what opinions are actually Not Allowed?
posted by neroli at 6:27 PM on June 16, 2015 [6 favorites]


giving people a break is a fine way to fight bigotry. sorry it doesn't meet your lofty goals.
posted by nadawi at 6:29 PM on June 16, 2015 [7 favorites]


five fresh fish: "I can not imagine that moderation has done anything at all to fight bigotry. It silences it. It does not educate. The bigot learns nothing. Their surface behavior might change, but only on MeFi."

Sorry, I thought it was understood that I was talking specifically about just that: fighting bigotry on MeFi.
posted by Bugbread at 6:32 PM on June 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


As many people have explained over and over in this thread, for them, because of race, gender, sexual expression, etc the very process of being in the daily world is a threat. Any day could end with a rape or a board to the face or the loss of your job or housing or children or any one of a thousand lesser problems. And if you think that the possibility that you might end up feeling bad because of some ignorant thing you wrote on the internet stacks up to that, well, I don't know what to tell you.

I agree with this, and I want to emphasize that one of the "thousand lesser problems" is that people will use the arguments they read online to justify not hiring you, not renting to you, voting for politicians who will pass legislation against you, writing letters to the editor of your local paper encouraging others to discriminate against you, taunting your kids for your "lifestyle," not intervening when their kids bully your kids, etc. Arguments on public websites are public, and arguments on public websites help define what's considered an "acceptable" argument.

I know it can seem a stretch that what someone writes on MetaFilter creates a murder or rape or other hate crime. But (1.) studies have shown that "harmless" bigotry encourages more bigotry and encourages hate crimes, creating an environment where truly bad actors think everyone agrees with their bigoted views; and (2.) people who have to worry about hate crimes end up edging toward full fight-flight-flee-alert when speech that might activate such attitudes gets trotted out, so even if the speaker has no plans to engage in rape or physical gay-bashing or some other hate crime, the readers of that speech are smart enough to know that when such speech is allowed, the ripple effects include increased violence against them.

There is a direct link between speech and action. It is not "oversensitive" that the people most at-risk for discriminatory speech turning into violence are highly attuned to the gradations of discriminatory speech. It's "just a website" or "just the internet" for people whose health -- financial, psychological, physical -- doesn't depend on other people being non-discriminatory.
posted by jaguar at 6:36 PM on June 16, 2015 [42 favorites]


> I can not imagine that moderation has done anything at all to fight bigotry. It silences it. It does not educate. The bigot learns nothing. Their surface behavior might change, but only on MeFi.

Good enough. The world is full of opportunities for learning, and if other people out there have more patience and more connection to the person, then great. MeFi is many things, but it is not the last bastion of Educating Bigots out of Bigotry, and it doesn't have to be.

Shorter: They don't have to go home, but they can't stay here. With the bigoted statements.
posted by rtha at 6:37 PM on June 16, 2015 [10 favorites]


I can not imagine that moderation has done anything at all to fight bigotry. It silences it. It does not educate. The bigot learns nothing.

This is untrue. They learn that their bigoted opinions are not socially acceptable. They learn that in some places, their views are not welcome. They learn not to express those views in some contexts. The people who are the subject of those views are then not forced to bear witness to them in those contexts. Those are clear and real benefits.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:45 PM on June 16, 2015 [41 favorites]


Like, if a child is smearing feces all over the room, the important thing is that the feces stop getting smeared all over the room. Education about why it's unsanitary can come later.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 6:47 PM on June 16, 2015 [7 favorites]


Plus, c'mon, we're talking about one deleted social justicy thread out of...how much of MeFi's front page is about race, gender, or sexuality? Moderation is only impacting like less than 1% of MeFi's total bigotry-related output.
posted by Bugbread at 6:48 PM on June 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


Like, if a child is smearing feces all over the room, the important thing is that the feces stop getting smeared all over the room. Education about why it's unsanitary can come later.

Oh, gods. Is that a thing?! Please tell me that is not a thing. This is why I don't have children.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:49 PM on June 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


If the worst thing that happens to you today is that one person on the Internet vaguely alludes to you being a bigot by erasing a comment you made, then I'm willing to bet that you have a pretty fuckin' good life, all in all.
posted by Etrigan at 6:49 PM on June 16, 2015 [8 favorites]


also it is gross and demoralizing to constantly be walking into a room smeared with feces. also if there are feces being smeared all the time, it is hard to use that room for other stuff like board game night or guest microbiology lectures for people who have already passed "understanding feces are unsanitary 101"
posted by kagredon at 6:50 PM on June 16, 2015 [8 favorites]


Oh, gods. Is that a thing?! Please tell me that is not a thing. This is why I don't have children.

Oh, oh yes. Poop is like fingerpaint that YOUR BODY MAKES OMG. Diaper-age kids totally do this.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 6:51 PM on June 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


this feckless fecal analogy has got some potential
posted by kagredon at 6:52 PM on June 16, 2015 [12 favorites]


His thoughts were red thoughts: "Oh, gods. Is that a thing?! Please tell me that is not a thing. This is why I don't have children."

Don't worry, it's not a thing. With enough people, I'm sure it's happened somewhere, but it's not, in general, a thing.
posted by Bugbread at 6:52 PM on June 16, 2015


Some believe the answer to bad speech is more speech.

Notice, the it's not "The answer to bad speech is good speech."

There's a marketplace of ideas. People throw out what they believe or think and the ideas that work for the collective stick. The crap comments get refuted and perhaps shamed and maybe there are repercussions for the crap ideas. Hopefully some learn.

I believe this.

I pay money because I believe this.

The last time I put up cash was to defend a trans-woman skeptic atheist who was going after a faith healer. So I find it super ironic when it is suggested, perhaps speech is inherently important, people jump to bigotry as the reason one would defend speech. Some say they resent an increase in moderation, and I would suggest we not assume they are bigoted assholes because they do.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:53 PM on June 16, 2015 [11 favorites]


Aw, dammit, now I want to go to AskMe and get to the bottom of this. None of the parents I commiserated with when my kids were babies ever said anything about poop fingerpainting, but now I'm wondering if it's a regional thing, or if the people around me are just statistical outliers, or what.

Now, crayon? That's a thing.
posted by Bugbread at 6:54 PM on June 16, 2015


maybe someone is just fecklessly mongering some fecal fear
posted by Jacqueline at 6:57 PM on June 16, 2015 [16 favorites]


Oh, gods. Is that a thing?!

It's certainly a potential thing. We've avoided it for all of our kids, but I've heard horror stories.

Perhaps appropriately to this anology, there's also no reasoning to make it better. I know someone who resorted to some sort of tape solution to keep the diaper on. It wasn't ideal, but it kept things from descending to crazy town.
posted by SpacemanStix at 6:57 PM on June 16, 2015


fight-flight-flee-alert

Pedantic need to correct myself. Meant to write "fight-flight-freeze." I actually do know that "flight" and "flee" are the same thing.

Carry on.
posted by jaguar at 6:57 PM on June 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


My little nipper is still too young for poo-painting, but can confirm that my bestie's youngest went through a phase (age three?) of doing this on the regular. A good time was had by all.
posted by amorphatist at 7:00 PM on June 16, 2015


Why are you people afraid to let shit-smeared walls compete in the marketplace of ideas
posted by prize bull octorok at 7:01 PM on June 16, 2015 [20 favorites]


I was a lipstick kid.
posted by clavdivs at 7:03 PM on June 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


"It's certainly a potential thing. We've avoided it for all of our kids, but I've heard horror stories."

I babysat for a toddler who did this. Possibly because I was a teen boy and most likely because my mother is the kind of person she is, I called her in a panic about the vast amounts of baby shit smeared over a wide variety of surfaces and she came over and cleaned it up while I watched television.

I need to thank my mom again for that, probably.

Years later, in mid-life, she became a pediatric RN and worked in a children's hospital for a couple of years and let's just say that explosive baby diarrhea can and will go in exactly the very last place you'd ever want it to.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 7:03 PM on June 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


I work in a field with adults with severe mental illness. The possibility of someone smearing feces on the wall does not end when that someone becomes an adult. It's a pretty strong message.
posted by jaguar at 7:05 PM on June 16, 2015 [4 favorites]


I was a lipstick kid.

Can't even begin to imagine how unsanitary that was. And the taste! My god.
posted by MoonOrb at 7:05 PM on June 16, 2015 [5 favorites]


Oh, gods. Is that a thing?! Please tell me that is not a thing. This is why I don't have children.

so i know there's a certain discouragement of people who were children answering parenting questions, but reader, i was that child. also - just for the extra level that babies can take shit (haha) to - this phase is also the oral phase, so you just work that puzzle out on your own.
posted by nadawi at 7:06 PM on June 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


Why couldn't you have just smeared it on walls like the other kids is what I'm trying to say clavdis.
posted by MoonOrb at 7:06 PM on June 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


so i know there's a certain discouragement of people who were children answering parenting questions, but reader, i was that child. also - just for the extra level that babies can take shit (haha) to - this phase is also the oral phase, so you just work that puzzle out on your own.

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 7:08 PM on June 16, 2015 [12 favorites]


let's just say that explosive baby diarrhea can and will go in exactly the very last place you'd ever want it to.

spit up too! when i was working at a mall portrait studio a mom was burping her kid, we all heard the spit up sound but couldn't find the evidence (always a bad sign). after the session, after the sales, during the ring up - so, eh, 45 minutes later -she reached into her pocket to pull out her coupon and came back with a hand dripping with baby goo.
posted by nadawi at 7:08 PM on June 16, 2015


Why are you people afraid to let shit-smeared walls compete in the marketplace of ideas

Actually, there's quite a history to this.
posted by amorphatist at 7:09 PM on June 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


"...so i know there's a certain discouragement of people who were children answering parenting questions"

I mostly only trust parenting advice that comes from androids or Athena.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 7:10 PM on June 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


(I honestly didn't mean to derail this into a major discussion of kiddypoopin)
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:10 PM on June 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


i'm suddenly remembering every shit, puke, and other bodily fluid story that growing up in a reproductively enthusiastic community, and then working 10+ years at a portrait studio, leaves you with.

i'll see myself out.
posted by nadawi at 7:10 PM on June 16, 2015


On the buttoning-out thing, it might be wise to consider that Metafilter isn't entirely a private club and people who cannot (or can no longer) log in can still read everything.
posted by Bringer Tom at 7:12 PM on June 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


His thoughts were red thoughts: "Oh, gods. Is that a thing?! Please tell me that is not a thing. This is why I don't have children."

Don't worry, it's not a thing. With enough people, I'm sure it's happened somewhere, but it's not, in general, a thing.
posted by Bugbread at 9:52 PM on June 16 [+] [!]


It may not be too much of a thing with young children, but its definitely a thing with grandparents that have Alzheimers. Source: my grandfather (in more ways than one)
posted by disclaimer at 7:24 PM on June 16, 2015


Wow, what the hell happened to this thread while I was at work?
posted by desjardins at 7:36 PM on June 16, 2015 [8 favorites]


Years later, in mid-life, she became a pediatric RN and worked in a children's hospital for a couple of years and let's just say that explosive baby diarrhea can and will go in exactly the very last place you'd ever want it to.

My soup?
posted by phearlez at 7:38 PM on June 16, 2015


Wow, what the hell happened to this thread while I was at work?

Don't keep an eye on them for just one instant and....
posted by Drinky Die at 7:39 PM on June 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


Poop recipes
posted by Burhanistan at 7:41 PM on June 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


Wow, what the hell happened to this thread while I was at work?

Shit got real.
posted by naju at 7:41 PM on June 16, 2015 [41 favorites]


(I honestly didn't mean to derail this into a major discussion of kiddypoopin)

It's an improvement on the original thread.
posted by sebastienbailard at 7:42 PM on June 16, 2015 [10 favorites]


Shit got real.

it HURTS to snort wine out your nose
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:43 PM on June 16, 2015 [18 favorites]


We don't allow recipes, but we allow scat derails? Filed away for future poo flinging.
posted by cjorgensen at 7:44 PM on June 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


Well, poop is the result of recipes.
posted by futz at 7:47 PM on June 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


Frankly I'm so pleased to have a break from the contention that I'm not inclined to interfere if folks want a brief timeout.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 7:48 PM on June 16, 2015 [43 favorites]


Wow, what the hell happened to this thread while I was at work?

*points to fffm*
posted by SpacemanStix at 7:49 PM on June 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


*points to fffm*

ᕕ( ᐛ )ᕗ
Fecal fearmongers are gonna monger fecal fear.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 7:54 PM on June 16, 2015 [10 favorites]


Basically, what we're saying here is that we're a tribe of shit-flinging monkeys.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:54 PM on June 16, 2015


this is really funny because i finally convinced someone i know to ban people from his blog even when "people aren't taking huge dumps in the comments, but they are taking small dumps in them often"

POOP METAPHORS
posted by NoraReed at 7:55 PM on June 16, 2015 [11 favorites]


There's some sociological observation here regarding how quickly this conversation changed on a dime with just the right analogy. I find it pretty amazing.
posted by SpacemanStix at 7:56 PM on June 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


Troop of monkeys.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:56 PM on June 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


Or barrel, which also makes a poop can.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:57 PM on June 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


But but butt butt. Scat duel.
posted by mudpuppie at 7:58 PM on June 16, 2015


Shit FLINGING? I believe we were discussing smearing it on walls, thank you. We are shit ARTISTS.
posted by phearlez at 7:58 PM on June 16, 2015 [5 favorites]


But but butt butt. Scat duel.

There's no way I'm clicking on that.

I might get rick-rolled.
posted by SpacemanStix at 7:59 PM on June 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


Frankly I'm so pleased to have a break from the contention that I'm not inclined to interfere if folks want a brief timeout.

A little poop sorbet to clear the palate, if you will
posted by prize bull octorok at 8:00 PM on June 16, 2015 [6 favorites]


Fecal fearmongers are gonna monger fecal fear.

Fecklessly, even! I was just riffing on KathrynT (? I think it was KathrynT) and her thing about shit milkshakes. The eponywhatever just kinda worked out without me thinking about it or intending to, which is pretty close to feckless.

In conclusion, poop is funny.

(All that said I kind of worry if the people who were personally attacked by the horseshit in the 100 comment thread and in this one are mainly thinking "Oh thank fuck, a break, poop is funny" or "you assbags went from hashing out something important to talking about poop because one assbag made a poop metaphor." If the latter is the majority of the thinking, I am truly sorry for starting it.)
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:01 PM on June 16, 2015 [5 favorites]


I'd argue that this kind of thing is needed from time to time to bring some levity to the tension. It actually helps, even if unintentionally. So, thanks!
posted by SpacemanStix at 8:04 PM on June 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


Buncha Johnny-poop-latelies, y'all are.

Johnnies-poop-lately?
posted by nom de poop at 8:04 PM on June 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


This certainly gives a new flavor to the unrelated comment I left in the middle of the kiddiepoop derail.
posted by Bringer Tom at 8:05 PM on June 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'd argue that this kind of thing is needed from time to time to bring some levity to the tension. It actually helps, even if unintentionally.

Well yeah, and I think so too. And I'm neither trans (and people who are should never have been dragged into this nonsense in the first place!) nor a person of colour, so I think whether or not I think it's funny/necessary really isn't relevant. (I don't know your story so I am decidedly not saying whether or not your opinion is relevant.)
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:10 PM on June 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


Troop of monkeys.

Dagnabbit.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:12 PM on June 16, 2015


So now I'm watching the poopy suit scene from the Starfighters episode of MST3K, because the power of this thread compelled me. Thanks a lot, fffm.
posted by bakerina at 8:12 PM on June 16, 2015


one aims to please
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:14 PM on June 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


Endeavours to give satisfaction, fffm. Endeavours to give satisfaction.
posted by uosuaq at 8:19 PM on June 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


Cotton or plastic?
posted by clavdivs at 8:24 PM on June 16, 2015


I was going to scroll up to see how this whole derail started but instead I'm going to close the tab and go to bed. Y'all are gross.
posted by desjardins at 8:28 PM on June 16, 2015 [7 favorites]


Buncha Johnny-poop-latelies, y'all are.

Johnnies-poop-lately?
posted by nom de poop


Be on the look out all you Johnnys/ies out there cause there is a de poop looking to nom nom nom.
posted by futz at 8:30 PM on June 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


Has anyone checked the front page recently?
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 8:36 PM on June 16, 2015


I'm neither trans (and people who are should never have been dragged into this nonsense in the first place!

Seriously, if there's one thing I'm certain of that came from this whole debacle...
posted by sweetkid at 8:38 PM on June 16, 2015


Has anyone checked the front page recently?

Uh..?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:40 PM on June 16, 2015


Hopefully it will be an interesting thread; the links seem interesting, at least.
posted by MoonOrb at 8:49 PM on June 16, 2015


The old nastiness was enjoyable. It had a sense of freedom; it was liberal, it was anti-bigotry...

Sometimes. If you were in the right group.

Slurs against trans folks pretty much went unchallenged. Misogyny was rampant. There were high-profile users that disparaged gays and lesbians. Or just women in general. In some cases sexist or racist insults were hurled at other Mefites.

Invisible backpacks are filled with nostalgia for the good ol' days.
posted by zarq at 9:00 PM on June 16, 2015 [24 favorites]


this is really funny because i finally convinced someone i know to ban people from his blog even when "people aren't taking huge dumps in the comments, but they are taking small dumps in them often"

also are we talking a #1 or a #5 on the bristol scale? either way the answer is banning + metamucil
posted by en forme de poire at 9:05 PM on June 16, 2015


Remember the hand thread? Not as funny now as fond memory might suggest.

I'd actually recommend not highlighting this one in the site faq, personally.
posted by bonehead at 9:24 PM on June 16, 2015 [5 favorites]


Remember the hand thread? Not as funny now as fond memory might suggest.

Oh dear gods, that thread is horrifying. Really highlights how this place has changed.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 9:28 PM on June 16, 2015 [8 favorites]


bonehead: "Remember the hand thread? Not as funny now as fond memory might suggest."

I never found the thread funny, but the hand bit itself? The "For the record, I bet my right hand against quonsar's lies. Under any amount of torture, he will break first, because he is lying. If I break first, I will surrender my right hand" comment? Still...amazing. Maybe "funny" isn't the right word, but amazing.
posted by Bugbread at 9:34 PM on June 16, 2015


Oh holy fuck, bonehead. That's something all these freeze peaches/you're too fragile people need to read.

I'd like to point out, though, that anyone clicking through might be happy to see this comment right after the comment linked in the MeTa.

I noped the goddamn fuck out after reading about three more. NASA will have to spend thirty seven billion dollars researching a whole new branch of math to find a number small enough to measure the fractional seconds which I imagine any female-identified person would spend reading that thread before getting the hell out.

That. That, right there, that is what you people who are whining and complaining about 'the old days,' that is what you want back.

If you can't see why what you want back is, words fail me, gross and wrong and anti-human, then seriously? Go crawl back into your caves.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:34 PM on June 16, 2015 [21 favorites]


Bugbread: If anyone else is considering pushing the Big Red Button:

1) Greasemonkey
2) The Diediedead script (a killfile script)...

Seriously, site usage is made so much more enjoyable by the above.


Oh God yes, THIS.

I used to have a big thing on my profile page describing almost exactly what you wrote about killfiles (no one probably ever read it, though, and I deleted it for some reason).

Random observation: I've noticed that I tend to killfile people who rarely use capitalization. I wonder if there's a connection between that and being a jerk.

One additional thing: use My Mefi. You can use it to exclude FPPs based on tags, and I have it setup to exclude pretty much every topic that's likely to end up fighty not-fun or circlejerky not-fun. This greasemonkey script will automatically redirect you to it from the homepage, if you're like me and still click the banner to go there.
posted by cosmic.osmo at 9:37 PM on June 16, 2015


I never found the thread funny, but the hand bit itself? The "For the record, I bet my right hand against quonsar's lies. Under any amount of torture, he will break first, because he is lying. If I break first, I will surrender my right hand" comment? Still...amazing. Maybe "funny" isn't the right word, but amazing.

I couldn't stomach the whole thing. How did it end?

Does mathowie have a leathery severed hand mounted on his wall like a deer head?
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 10:00 PM on June 16, 2015


His thoughts were red thoughts: "I couldn't stomach the whole thing. How did it end? "

Son of Minya hit the big red button, and there was much rejoicing.
posted by Bugbread at 10:05 PM on June 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


Does mathowie have a leathery severed hand mounted on his wall like a deer head?

If all our bets were required to play out in meatspace, #1 would have the most fucked up trophy wall ever.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:15 PM on June 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


I would like to thank taz who talked me down from my bad metatalk post about this deletion. I did not keep a copy but the spirits made me use shitstorm as both a title and a tag.
posted by maggieb at 10:25 PM on June 16, 2015 [5 favorites]


When your very being--due to whatever intersections of race, gender identity, and sexual orientation--is constantly under attack, one actively looks for ways to stop being attacked for a while.

I empathize with this deeply, but wish those who believed in this would see their way clear to lowering the frequency of attacks they level at other Mefites, because even if Mefites aren't with every post identifying the complexity of the shit they face on a daily basis, there's a lot of us who are living with a lot of hard shit such that attacks are just the cherry on the shit sandwich.
posted by corb at 10:25 PM on June 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


Perhaps you would be best served by being one of the Mefites who thinks more than they comment.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:31 PM on June 16, 2015 [9 favorites]


Sweet scat flinging Jesus - those were the good old days? I only lasted five comments in that hand thread & had to quit.
posted by kanewai at 10:38 PM on June 16, 2015 [4 favorites]


Yeah, the hand thread. Lots of poetry bombs and Cortex is funny, but some awful stuff there.
( I bet we won't make 2000)
posted by clavdivs at 10:46 PM on June 16, 2015


You know, maxsparber, there is actually a longstanding policy against digging through past comments to quote something said by somebody else as a gotcha *to the author of the past comments*. You know, I didn't do that. But it got deleted anyway, because reasons.

BTW, part of the utility of that policy was to allow people to grow and learn, and to keep people from catching grief just because they grew into a new perspective. Yeah, MetaFilter used to believe that users could learn and grow.

LobsterMitten -- "in this case we're discussing here, this Dolezal situation, what does that quote mean -- do you disagree that this Dolezal thing would have been a huge hurtful fight, or do you just think we should allow threads like that to happen regardless?"

As to what the quote means for this case, to me it's a cogent expression of the idea that MetaFilter is poorer when it grinds out of existence the honest expression of ideas the mods or their favorites don't like. MetaFilter hasn't gotten to discuss a completely fascinating and multifaceted human interest story that touches on ideas lots of us value, because the mods valued quashing unpleasant expression more than they valued the opportunity for discourse this presented.

Dolezal is a one-off. There's no particular threat that MetaFilter is going to have Dolezal threads posted every other day for the next three years. A Dolezal one-off thread with some wtf in it is not a site-damaging pattern to be on guard against. But constantly deleting threads that may upset the milquetoast expectations that have metastasized here sure as hell is.

And I get that people might have a real beef with the author of what I quoted. That doesn't make *what I quoted* less clear, less thoughtful, or less accurate. And LOTS of people did manage to see value in it.

five fresh fish -- "Once again, I wonder what happened to simply not going into threads you don't like."

Yeah, I remember when that was part of the ethos. If you knew a thread was going to get on your nerves, you were free to stop reading it or never start. But now the goal seems to be to for the whole site to be sanded down and nerfed until every cranny is smoothed over and no one has to think that they might face an uncomfortable thought or expression.

Another part of the ethos I remember is that MetaTalk served as MetaFilter's sewer. It was the plumbing that the people in the front of the store didn't have to think about, and if you looked into it then you were expected to find shit in it, because sewers are where shit goes. But no, now MetaTalk needs to sanded down and mirror shined, too. That's a giant mistake, one that jettisons the most important function that MetaTalk ever performed for MetaFilter.

Mods, do you want to know why you're handling so much shit? In part it's because you've killed the utility of the sewer. Allow the sewer to do its job, and the job might be a lot less dirty.
posted by NortonDC at 10:46 PM on June 16, 2015 [9 favorites]


Seriously, the omnipresent self-concern-trolling over "saying the wrong thing" (per Conspire's really good comment upthread) is just so much fucking theatre. All well-meaning people inevitably do say the wrong thing sometimes, to someone, in some context within which they're ignorant. And where there's otherwise a good faith effort to engage, the fuckups are overwhelmingly forgiven if not always forgotten.
posted by threeants at 10:47 PM on June 16, 2015 [13 favorites]


Corb, are you really that totally oblivious to your own comment history regarding trans folks? There was a meta. You posted it. There have been other instances, including the Coy Mathis thread.

If you want people to not feel attacked, stop attacking them.
posted by zarq at 10:47 PM on June 16, 2015 [23 favorites]


> But now the goal seems to be to for the whole site to be sanded down and nerfed

But now the goal seems to be for the whole site to have less of a "toughen up!" ethos so that people don't have to nope out of a thread because people are being offensively shitty in it.

I stay out of threads about certain topics because they don't interest me. That's quite different from feeling forced out of threads because people are allowed to make rape jokes and gay jokes and be transphobic shitheads. Like, that hand meTa? Sand that shit right the fuck out and good riddance.
posted by rtha at 10:53 PM on June 16, 2015 [29 favorites]


kanewai: "Sweet scat flinging Jesus - those were the good old days? I only lasted five comments in that hand thread & had to quit."

Not that the thread ever gets good, but the first part, the quonsar zone, is the worst part. Then the Son_of_Minya part starts, and that's just crazy.

As NortonDC mentions, "Another part of the ethos I remember is that MetaTalk served as MetaFilter's sewer." When people pine for the Good Old Days, they're usually pining for the Blue of yesteryear, and seldom for the Gray of yesteryear.
posted by Bugbread at 10:56 PM on June 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


Aw, but this was the ONE place on the internet where people could be reactionary jerks, treat each other like garbage, and enjoy unquestioned casual misogyny. Something precious and irreplaceable has been lost
posted by prize bull octorok at 10:57 PM on June 16, 2015 [37 favorites]


Another part of the ethos I remember is that MetaTalk served as MetaFilter's sewer.

I highly doubt that this was ever site policy, even after seeing the hand thread, so I cordially invite you to back that up.

MeTa is for discussing site policy, and it's more lightly moderated than the blue, but it's not thunderdome.

Even in the unlikely event that it was a 'sewer', it isn't now. And I can't possibly imagine why you would want it to be.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 10:58 PM on June 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


...Wow. I've been reading through this "hand thread" to see what Metafilter was like in 2003 before its apparent change in moderation (when was that, exactly?). My usual instinct is to side with those who say "The solution to bad speech is more speech," instead of wanting to preemptively ban things that might seem offensive... but if this is the kind of drawn-out grudge-airing flame war that results from insufficient moderation, then never mind. Mod away.

The mods here are pretty good about deleting comments based on their tone and not content, so they're not purposely enforcing ideological purity anyway. I trust them to delete personal insults regardless of who they're directed at. (Non-insulting snark is biased toward certain opinions, but that's a matter of culture, not top-down control.) Y'all do some unenviable work weeding this stuff out.

By the way, for discussing the race-related issues which the Dolezal incident brings up, but without the complicating factor of a self-described "transracial" person, there's this post.
posted by Rangi at 11:01 PM on June 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


en forme de poire: "this is really funny because i finally convinced someone i know to ban people from his blog even when "people aren't taking huge dumps in the comments, but they are taking small dumps in them often"

also are we talking a #1 or a #5 on the bristol scale? either way the answer is banning + metamucil
"

Epon-ew-sterical.
posted by gingerest at 11:02 PM on June 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


His thoughts were red thoughts: "I highly doubt that this was ever site policy, even after seeing the hand thread, so I cordially invite you to back that up.

MeTa is for discussing site policy, and it's more lightly moderated than the blue, but it's not thunderdome.

Even in the unlikely event that it was a 'sewer', it isn't now. And I can't possibly imagine why you would want it to be.
"

The expression that got tossed around all the time back then was "release valve". And while it was never site policy, it was understood enough that when people would call it a "release valve", mods wouldn't contradict it. However, I never found it to be remotely effective as a release valve. It just ended up being an incubator.
posted by Bugbread at 11:02 PM on June 16, 2015 [5 favorites]


That doesn't make *what I quoted* less clear, less thoughtful, or less accurate.

You are so significantly underinformed that you could not possibly have anything useful to say on this subject. Using that user as an example of someone who left because of an intolerance for a diversity of opinions is so laughable that you could not come to that conclusion if you actually knew what you were talking about.

With every comment you reveal your own ignorance.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 11:07 PM on June 16, 2015 [7 favorites]


I just made on innocent comment about cutting my right hand off, and BAMM! I was banned.

What you do have to realize is that I like Japanese TV shows because I am a Japanese TV show character.

Okay, if you can tolerate the shit-flinging, the thread is actually worth reading for quotes like these.
posted by Rangi at 11:12 PM on June 16, 2015


zarq: "Invisible backpacks are filled with nostalgia for the good ol' days."

Yep - I agree completely. Just trying to explain that a person can talk about the "good ol' days" and long for what some may call nastiness and really and truly mean it, without reservations, and without believing they're missing something that's bad. That looseness, the ability actually tell people point-blank when we think they're full of shit, felt like a great deal of honesty, felt like power and free discourse; but really it was just an excuse to indulge in something that was more exclusionary and hurtful than we realized.
posted by koeselitz at 11:13 PM on June 16, 2015 [7 favorites]


Thoughts that moderation has become too restrictive damn sure doesn't mean the other end of the spectrum -- the hand thread -- is the preference. There is such a thing as middle ground, and ground that's much closer to where things are now than to where they were.

This black-or-white stuff is nonsense.

Casting people with concerns about moderation in this crawl-back-in-your-cave light and using a particularly bad example to do so is shrieking sanctimony.
posted by ambient2 at 11:19 PM on June 16, 2015 [12 favorites]


NortonDC: "Yeah, I remember when that was part of the ethos. If you knew a thread was going to get on your nerves, you were free to stop reading it or never start. But now the goal seems to be to for the whole site to be sanded down and nerfed until every cranny is smoothed over and no one has to think that they might face an uncomfortable thought or expression."

'If you don't like the thread, just ignore it' is the philosophy of cowardice. It's what drags Reddit down every single day. We're not talking about snooker vs darts here; bullying and nastiness are not matters of preference. They shouldn't be tolerated, flat out. This is identical in form and substance to the idea that I shouldn't care that another part of town is ghettoized and poverty-stricken, full of starving people, because 'if you don't like it, just don't go there.'

"Another part of the ethos I remember is that MetaTalk served as MetaFilter's sewer. It was the plumbing that the people in the front of the store didn't have to think about, and if you looked into it then you were expected to find shit in it, because sewers are where shit goes. But no, now MetaTalk needs to sanded down and mirror shined, too. That's a giant mistake, one that jettisons the most important function that MetaTalk ever performed for MetaFilter."

The giant mistake was ever believing that problems would go away if you stick them in that ghetto and try to ignore them. I'm aware that this is the dominant ethos of our time - at least here in America, where we toss anybody who ever causes us any trouble (and some who don't, for good measure) in prison and forget about them - but it absolutely never worked on Metafilter. We'd try to do that, try to be nice in main threads and ugly on the gray, but it didn't work, because meanness on the gray is still meanness even if the background is a different color. That's why huge threads became the norm - because we'd just fight and brawl and hate on each other, and finally it became too much and some rather brave people spoke up and pointed out that it wasn't really working, this whole thing we thought made sense.

You're sanitizing the past, whitewashing it and making it sound like it worked much better than it actually did. It's ironic, because you've done to your memory of Metafilter the same thing you accuse us of trying to do to the current form of Metafilter: you've sanded off the edges, nerfed it, smoothed it over, until it sits in your mind as a gleaming example of what could have been and ought to be.

But there were serious problems. I was there. I remember. There were fights and brawls and very angry hate-spewing. We took that as proper discourse back then, a signifier that we were engaging in freedom of expression. What we didn't realize - what you're still apparently denying - is that we were hurting a lot of people in acting like that. We didn't know it, we didn't see ourselves as bigots, we didn't see ourselves as hateful; but every loud argument where I told some random that they were full of shit and should shut up about things they don't understand was not just hurtful to the person I was talking about but to all the participants, particularly those less advantaged who'd been cowed by hearing that kind of language their whole lives. My acting like that was a symbol to them that they were not welcome here.

I'm glad some of them spoke up about it, and I'm glad we had a lot of long discussions about what that means. Because it was a huge part of my growth as an adult.
posted by koeselitz at 11:27 PM on June 16, 2015 [40 favorites]


As the #1 cited person as causing problems in the biggest deleted post, I really strongly suggest that you read through why certain comments are not okay and look at your own in that light. Or to put it more bluntly: you are a lot of the reason why that post was deleted. Please think about why that is. Protip: it's not because you have some Big Truth that we don't see.

...Sure, I can do that. I thought the issue was people being outright racist and transphobic. Guess I was wrong.

Casting people with concerns about moderation in this crawl-back-in-your-cave light and using a particularly bad example to do so is shrieking sanctimony.

That's definitely not what I was trying to say. I know that people can (and have) made complaints about current moderation without secretly wanting to have that worst-case scenario. I just found it worth noting as an example of the far lasseiz faire end of the moderation spectrum, regardless of whether today's moderation is too far on the strict end.
posted by Rangi at 11:27 PM on June 16, 2015


The thing with the idea that MeTa is the sewer is that the point of sewers is that you don't have to interact with them. It was more like the street that people emptied chamberpots into, except the contents of those pots generally were aimed primarily at women, trans folks, and members of other marginalized groups.

Also I really do not want this to turn into The Corb Show, because I really think there have been more episodes of that than every American soap opera combined, but it's really hard when the mods are continuing to allow her to continue taking these transphobic and/or racist dumps in threads on a fairly regular basis. The amount of disruption and grief she manages to cause both here and on the Blue eclipses any other user I can think of, and it just makes me tired.
posted by NoraReed at 11:27 PM on June 16, 2015 [11 favorites]




Funny, those decrying the hand thread weren't even members then.
It has no bearing on commentary, son of minya does Eddie Munster etc.
The key is not to participate in threads like that one 12 years ago. I wanna give the community (then) a break to say it was a pressure valve esp. With the war and all.

How's that worked out. Contention is up but its a bigger site...
Bunch of yatta from 2003 being hoisted once again for what?

Use your own era. That ones dead.
posted by clavdivs at 11:40 PM on June 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


Bunch of yatta from 2003 being hoisted once again for what?

Use your own era. That ones dead.


Er, yes. That is the point. Stop longing for the 'good old days'. They're not coming back, and they weren't that good.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 11:51 PM on June 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


A couple of comments deleted. FFFM, you need to dial it waaaaay back.
posted by taz (staff) at 11:53 PM on June 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


You were one of the people being outright racist and transphobic, Rangi. So you were right about the issue. Now look at yourself.

Excuse me? I just checked that thread again to be sure of what I said, and nowhere am I claiming that one race is superior to another, or that trans men/women are not really men/women and just have a mental disorder, or that one drop of black blood makes you black, or that a trans person without bottom surgery is somehow lying. That would be racist and transphobic. I was saying the exact opposite of all of that. I am totally accepting of trans and non-binary genders, and am insulted that you're saying I was being transphobic. And if I was too quick to analogize to "transracialism" and give Ms. Dolezal the benefit of the doubt, instead of immediately condemning her for "blackface," that may put me in the minority, but it doesn't make me racist. (Thank you to those who politely explained why the analogy doesn't work, I thought about things after the thread was deleted and appreciate the correction.)

I probably won't post in the new thread on race issues—I don't want to offend people and see it derailed or deleted, and I'm not certain enough of my own opinions to think that they need to be expressed—but I take offense to being insulted for not entering a thread with already 100% orthodox beliefs.
posted by Rangi at 11:58 PM on June 16, 2015 [8 favorites]


It is possible that listing all the different types of beliefs that are transphobic or racist isn't the best approach to this, Rangi? (I know that given my history this is gonna sound sarcastic, but I'm not. NO BURGER.) You're doing the thing where you are getting personally offended when people are telling you to get off their foot. It's unhelpful.
posted by NoraReed at 12:18 AM on June 17, 2015 [13 favorites]


Excuse me? I just checked that thread again to be sure of what I said, and nowhere am I claiming that one race is superior to another, or that trans men/women are not really men/women and just have a mental disorder, or that one drop of black blood makes you black, or that a trans person without bottom surgery is somehow lying. That would be racist and transphobic.

No. What trans people say is transphobic is transphobic. Not what you decide is.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:25 AM on June 17, 2015 [14 favorites]


I would be hard pressed to think of a user who gets criticized more regularly, anyway it turns out the power to roll credits on the corb show was within us all along
posted by prize bull octorok at 12:27 AM on June 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


And now I'm with Justinian on deletions here. Overkill. And am willing to share via memail my comments that were deleted.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:27 AM on June 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


Honestly, Rangi, I don't think you're understanding what Feckless and Nora Reed are saying. And, honestly, Feckless and Nora Reed, I don't think you're understanding what Rangi is saying. And having seen enough of this particular stripe of communication breakdown, I think the odds of y'all talking about the issue enough that you all say, "Oh, you meant X! Oh, okay, never mind then!" is basically zilch. So my advice would be for you all to give up this particular mini-line of discussion in this one thread, and try to clear your memory counter of it so that the next interaction isn't pretainted. And if next time you come to the same conclusions about each other, then you may be onto something.

That's what it looks like to me, at least.
posted by Bugbread at 12:35 AM on June 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


A couple of comments deleted. Okay, have it your way and take some time off, FFFM.
posted by taz (staff) at 12:36 AM on June 17, 2015 [7 favorites]


"So the strident resistance in some quarters to a change in moderation essentially is an endorsement of bigotry, because the new moderation policies are aimed directly at bigotry."

No. That's only true to the extent that any given moderation decision is the only way to diminish expressed bigotry. Framing it like that eliminates the possibility of discussing moderation decisions.

"And, as I've said elsewhere, I am getting increasingly impatient with the idea that people's motives matter more than the effects of their actions -- it doesn't really matter if a member is a closeted misogynist or someone who is genuinely clueless and enjoys arguing; if they are driving women off the site, it's their problem, and they need to fix it."

I'm really sympathetic to this view — I've voiced it before — but there are a lot of limits to it as an ethos. That effects matter more than intentions doesn't mean that intentions don't matter, especially for discussions of community norms. It's also not something that's as opaque as you imply in a later comment — while we can't know people's intentions perfectly, we know many of them as well as we know the effects: through personal statement. This is something that a lot of people pushing for more stringent moderation already act consistently with — otherwise a lot of the snark from people who support more stringent moderation wouldn't be tolerated. Intentions are treated as if they matter all the time here.

The other reason why intention is important and reflexively reducing this to a With Us or Against Us cry against bigotry has some significant costs is because persuasion is hugely more efficient than intervention (to say nothing of healthier for the community), and intent matters in persuading someone else to change their behavior. If you you reduce objections to shifts in moderation policy to being an endorsement of bigotry, someone who is not intending to endorse bigotry will either conclude that you're not talking about their particular comment or that you are insulting them rather than engaging.

"the real life stakes on a message board are that people will see words that they don't like"

Sure, yeah, OK. Think that through. If words on a message board don't matter, then it doesn't matter if your comments are deleted and you're banned. But people build real relationships here and this community has a lot of value for a lot of people in it. Diminishing that in order to dismiss the impact on other members neither supports any points against changes in moderation nor against other members feeling hurt by comments here.

"And don't try to tell me that there's anything behind the new, heavier moderation scheme beyond "don't be an asshole." That pretty much encompasses it. It's easy. It sometimes isn't the fun thing to do, particularly when it's appealing to be an asshole in the name of justice or freedom or whatever, but it still isn't that difficult to just make the call and not be a dick."

This entire thread is pretty concrete evidence that there's disagreements over what exactly "don't be an asshole" means in practice, and people pushing for more moderation have explicitly bucked against metrics of civility as being trumps specifically because of that. That's a circular argument.

"So people who say that they prefer the contentious model, even if they themselves are not bigots, even if they would repudiate bigotry, are, I think, arguing for an environment where at least other people are free to discover within themselves and cultivate bigotry and the tools to forcefully propagate that bigotry, because the only cost for them is a fun bit of angry yelling."

I do think that it's an under-estimated cost by some of the folks who are arguing for a more contentious mode here, yeah. I do also think that it's something where overstating that framing can lead to dumber, more reactive and more incoherent moderation decisions, and to ignoring some legitimate costs that can be mitigated by assuming the end goal of some other members isn't to end up with conversation space for unrepentant bigots. Pretty much everyone here already believes that many of the costs associated with more active moderation (compared to e.g. usenet or chans) are worth bearing. Otherwise, they wouldn't have ponied up $5 or stuck around long enough to be a still-active free account.

"That. That, right there, that is what you people who are whining and complaining about 'the old days,' that is what you want back."

Well, no. That was 12 years ago with a relatively tiny userbase and Matt as the only mod. Even legitimately important threads are hugely different than what works on MeFi now. But it's not like it was all terrible.

Usually, what people mean is more like these, but I think that a more salient example would be something like this. Or this. That's where people can remember flaming fondly without recognizing the costs of the larger context, specifically that there was a ton of homophobia, misogyny, racism and transphobia tolerated around them even if those threads have only minimal amounts.

And hell, that's still like 9-10 years ago at this point.
posted by klangklangston at 12:45 AM on June 17, 2015 [13 favorites]


There should be a "buy the mods a beer" button in contentious threads that lets you anonymously donate $5 to the PayPal account of whomever is on duty at the moment.

Sometimes I wish there was a button that would let me buy another user a Bloody Mary, redeemable beginning ten hours after issuance.
posted by Drinky Die at 12:47 AM on June 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


Is sealioning another word for 'politely voicing thoughts I disagree with'? I thought that was called 'conversation'?

This comment was hours ago, but someone should reply. "Sealioning" comes from this Wondermark cartoon, and its implication should be obvious. It's a metaphor a lot of forum participants enthusiastically embrace.

The obvious fallacy of the metaphor is that while participants may happen to be reading the forum in thier bedroom, the forum is not actually thier bedroom. Like many immature adults, they take offense at the ability of others to say unpleasant things in a venue they imagine belongs to them.

This little buzzword helps them support that delusion.
posted by clarknova at 1:18 AM on June 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


The context for the "sealioning" Wondermark cartoon was GamerGaters going into conversations on Twitter that mentioned any of their favorite topics (gaming, gamergate itself, Zoe Quinn, games that don't involve enough stubbly white men with big guns, etc) and bothering strangers about it. It's come to mean a kind of bad faith engagement in which people come into a conversation and demand that it caters to their particular idea of "civil debate", which usually involves a lot of inserting of their bigoted garbage opinions, which are often based in many verifiable falsehoods, and a good deal of JAQing off. Since it's a relatively recently coined term, its meaning is somewhat flexible, and many different communities use it in different ways.
posted by NoraReed at 1:35 AM on June 17, 2015 [28 favorites]


Moreover, nor are their interlocutors, strictly speaking, a kind of lion. Thus the metaphor collapses. *puffs pipe*
posted by nom de poop at 1:42 AM on June 17, 2015 [26 favorites]


The obvious fallacy of the metaphor is that while participants may happen to be reading the forum in thier bedroom, the forum is not actually thier bedroom. Like many immature adults, they take offense at the ability of others to say unpleasant things in a venue they imagine belongs to them.

If you already know that some may be participating from their "bedrooms", why not be the mature adult and refrain from jumping in and saying unpleasant things over a communication medium?
posted by polymodus at 1:46 AM on June 17, 2015


Most people who indulge in this kind of behaviour do not live by the sea, hence your analogy is invalid.
posted by h00py at 1:46 AM on June 17, 2015 [7 favorites]


Sea lioning means different things in different contexts.

In one context, it's about people butting in on "private" Twitter conversations with polite but annoyingly insistent questions. On the one hand, the concept of private Twitter conversations is ridiculous. On the other hand, the sea lioning is incredibly annoying, especially if it's high volume, in which case you're really talking about the dual problem of sea lioning and the equivalent of a forum invasion.

But on the other hand, it's been extended to refer to that whole argument style, using politely phrased but infuriatingly insistent and possibly insulting questions and then when people get pissed off saying "I'm just asking questions here". This is something that happens and is annoying as fuck. It's like "I'm not touching you, I'm not touching you!" for adults. When people on MetaFilter accuse someone of sea lioning, they're generally talking about the latter type.

(Also, am I the only person who initially didn't understand that Wondermark comic because they assumed the woman at the start was supposed to be representing a racist?)
posted by Bugbread at 1:59 AM on June 17, 2015 [7 favorites]


Maybe.
posted by h00py at 2:07 AM on June 17, 2015


The context for the "sealioning" Wondermark cartoon was GamerGaters going into conversations on Twitter...

You're just making my point. Twitter is not a private venue that its users control. They do not own the namespace. People do not have personal twitter conversations that others intrude into. Especially if they throw in a few hashtags. To think you can advertise your quips to the world and it should respond with nothing but affirmation from friends is an infantile fantasy.


*puffs pipe*

*tips fedora*


Also, am I the only person who initially didn't understand that Wondermark comic because they assumed the woman at the start was supposed to be representing a racist?

Ain't ambiguity fun?
posted by clarknova at 2:25 AM on June 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


At this point people should take complaints about the term "sealioning" to the Metatalk thread for complaining about the term sealioning, and complaints about Twitter to the Metatalk thread for complaining about Twitter, and if those threads don't exist, go ahead and submit a post if you feel that it's something that needs to be addressed as a site issue.
posted by taz (staff) at 2:38 AM on June 17, 2015 [22 favorites]


Mods need a drag and drop interface which allows them to rearrange comments so discussions are always cleanly separated by category.

This seems like the perfect place to make that pony request.
posted by clarknova at 2:43 AM on June 17, 2015


and if those threads don't exist, go ahead and submit a post if you feel that it's something that needs to be addressed as a site issue

Can we have a thread about too many open threads as well?

also this is an unthreaded forum, we should call them "flats", why has discussion on this been suppressed, I am disappoint.
posted by Joe in Australia at 2:44 AM on June 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


It's a very long thread but worth untangling, I think.
posted by h00py at 2:51 AM on June 17, 2015


I'm pretty sure this thread is actually an anagram of the Treaty of Westphalia.
posted by Bugbread at 2:54 AM on June 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


No, that would be FART AWHILE AT YE POST.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:22 AM on June 17, 2015 [4 favorites]


You're just making my point. Twitter is not a private venue that its users control. They do not own the namespace. People do not have personal twitter conversations that others intrude into. Especially if they throw in a few hashtags. To think you can advertise your quips to the world and it should respond with nothing but affirmation from friends is an infantile fantasy.

(Annie Potts)We got one!(/Annie Potts)
posted by running order squabble fest at 3:59 AM on June 17, 2015 [4 favorites]


Motives don't matter more than effects, but why ignore someone's motives and instead accuse their effects as being their true motives?

Okay, that seemed a bit opaque. More specifically: MeFi, for a long time, believed that the best way to fight bigotry was to allow the MeFi readership to give it a resounding smackdown. That method has proven not to work as well as the idealists hoped. The new approach, deleting more stuff, is working better. The end result is more important than the motive, so I'm in favor of deleting.

But there's a big difference between saying "Your proposed method of fighting bigotry doesn't work as well as my proposed method of fighting bigotry, so your intentions may be good, but what truly matters is results" and "Your proposed method of fighting bigotry doesn't work as well as my proposed method of fighting bigotry, so what you want is to increase the amount of bigotry."


Except that we're not saying that 'your true motive is bigotry!' what we're saying is 'your true motive causes bigotry' - whether or not the first sentence is true as well is irrelevant. In practice, if what you want is something that will decrease the effectiveness with which we fight bigotry, what you want will lead to more bigotry. What you want ENTAILS more bigotry. Functionally, that's equivalent to wanting more bigotry, and the distinction is unknowable to anyone other than the person in in question. What's in your heart of hearts is just not relevant - the functional outcomes of your words and actions are.


I said calling people bigots (assuming they're not openly being bigots at the time) doesn't help.

Sometimes it does. Calling a spade a spade will help people figure out what shape spades are and be more able to recognise them in future.


I can not imagine that moderation has done anything at all to fight bigotry. It silences it. It does not educate. The bigot learns nothing. Their surface behavior might change, but only on MeFi. That's all well and good, so far as creating a place where readers will not have to see bigotry, but it is far from a "method of fighting" it.

Won't someone think of the bigots!

It's not our job to educate bigots. That is not an obligation we have as people, or as mefites. To not hurt others with bigotry or hatred, that is an obligation we have as people, and as mefites. Moderation has done a LOT to reduce the amount of naked bigotry on display on the blue when talking about trans issues, and if you compare the old boyzone days to today, I suspect you'll find that that same pattern holds true for many other forms too.


The last time I put up cash was to defend a trans-woman skeptic atheist who was going after a faith healer. So I find it super ironic when it is suggested, perhaps speech is inherently important, people jump to bigotry as the reason one would defend speech. Some say they resent an increase in moderation, and I would suggest we not assume they are bigoted assholes because they do.

Except in pratice, on mefi, what moderation achieves is a decrease in the net amount of bigotry. We're talking about moderating mefi here, after all - how your marketplace of ideas (or money) or whatever works in other contexts is neither here nor there. In practice, what gets deleted by the mefi mods is generally the worst kind of sexist, homobphobic, and transphobic bullshit. Leaving it up emphatically does not lead to the kind of 'the bad ideas will lose out in the end' scenario on all of those issues - again, just look at the deleted thread about Dolezal to see bigotry being refuted and not being dropped.


MetaFilter hasn't gotten to discuss a completely fascinating and multifaceted human interest story that touches on ideas lots of us value, because the mods valued quashing unpleasant expression more than they valued the opportunity for discourse this presented.

As a whole, the mefi userbase gazed upon that opportunity, and decided to throw shit at the thread instead. I would posit that that opportunity was never really there (certainly that context did not increase the potential for good conversation about Issues, but rather the opposite) but regardless of that, a glance at the deleted thread reveals that such potential was certainly not realised.
posted by Dysk at 4:03 AM on June 17, 2015 [20 favorites]


Dysk: "Except that we're not saying that 'your true motive is bigotry!' what we're saying is 'your true motive causes bigotry'"

This is a very long thread, making it very hard to search, but I'm pretty sure some people have said "you want more bigotry on Mefi". If you're not one of them, great, that comment wasn't about you. If nobody said that, wonderful, my comment was about no one and I'm happy to be wrong. But in a thread this long, with people saying all kinds of things, I would be very surprised if my impression is wrong and nobody has said that.
posted by Bugbread at 4:25 AM on June 17, 2015


So we are not allowed to criticize certain members? Let me try again.

Also I really do not want this to turn into The Corb Show, because I really think there have been more episodes of that than every American soap opera combined, but it's really hard when the mods are continuing to allow her to continue taking these transphobic and/or racist dumps in threads on a fairly regular basis. The amount of disruption and grief she manages to cause both here and on the Blue eclipses any other user I can think of, and it just makes me tired.

Well the NoraReed show isn't much better, but you don't hear me calling for you to be banned, do you?
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 4:25 AM on June 17, 2015 [23 favorites]


Ok so this story goes against the popular narrative. It's banned. Censorship exists. Let's all move on. Jesus Christ.
posted by holybagel at 4:31 AM on June 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


I don't buy the "release valve" theory, for MeTa or pretty much anywhere else I have seen it attempted. The concept of cathartic release as a means of alleviating anger is disputed, as it often just creates... more anger. You can see this in effect on any board designated "the sewer" - it doesn't magically wash away the hatred and bile; it sits there, right on top of the poster's name, festering and generating more hurt feelings, grudges, and ill will through the entire community. It's not a sewer; it's a busted septic tank.

And L-O-L at "we can't discuss big important ideas anymore", like some kinda Algonquin Roundtable of esteemed colleagues sipping martinis. Lots of incredibly interesting and important stuff gets discussed here all the time; you just have to actually think a bit before you speak if the subject involves the socially marginalized - you have to actually consider them living, feeling human beings and not abstract concepts.

Honestly, all the howling about overmoderation and how we CAN'T say this or that and SJWs or whatever just really, really sounds like it comes from a fear of being wrong, when for so long you used to be right. And being wrong is fine. This hyperbolic reaction that your grand but totally not bigoted or bigot-enabling ideas are being suppressed underlines this.

Unlike the "just words on a screen" defense of edgy blather-free-for-all, being mistaken or having your status quo ideas challenged is not oppression. On the contrary, it's liberating. Everyone stumbles, everyone misspeaks and can get called out on it. What you learn from that is what you gain, to the benefit of yourself and your fellow members here.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 4:33 AM on June 17, 2015 [30 favorites]


This is a very long thread, making it very hard to search, but I'm pretty sure some people have said "you want more bigotry on Mefi".

I'm not positive, but I believe it was "wanting X is in effect wanting more bigotry" and that if that wasn't explicitly stated at first, was later clarified.
posted by hoyland at 4:35 AM on June 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


Like when Rand Paul wants to do away with the Civil Rights Act because the market will eliminate discrimination (or whatever the theory is) and everyone else says "Uh... wanting to do away with the Civil Rights Act is wanting to give businesses the right to discriminate." It doesn't matter a whole lot what Rand Paul thinks he's wanting when it's obvious what the consequences would be.
posted by hoyland at 4:39 AM on June 17, 2015 [14 favorites]


If NoraReed had a show, I for one would watch it.

This is a very long thread, making it very hard to search, but I'm pretty sure some people have said "you want more bigotry on Mefi". If you're not one of them, great, that comment wasn't about you. If nobody said that, wonderful, my comment was about no one and I'm happy to be wrong. But in a thread this long, with people saying all kinds of things, I would be very surprised if my impression is wrong and nobody has said that.

A common shorthand for 'a is functionally the same as b' is 'a means b' or even 'a is b'.
posted by Dysk at 4:53 AM on June 17, 2015 [4 favorites]


It BLOWS MY MIND that anyone can look at the official pushback against hostility towards members who are women, who are trans, who are gay, who are people of color -- hostility which is severe and pervasive enough to chase those members away, causing us to lose their voices and perspectives -- and label that a "narrowing."

There are women, POC and queer people who are being told that their opinions are anti-woman, anti-PoC, anti-queer, respectively.

When it comes to social justice issues, there seems to be an assumption that if you don't agree with certain ideas, that's because "you just don't understand, you haven't had that experience". Except that there are people who are women, who are POC, who are queer, who do have that experience, but who simply don't agree with you. This isn't a Metafilter problem, it's a wider social justice / activism problem.

And now I think to myself: oh, don't post that, you'll be accused of being sexist, racist, homophobic and/or transphobic and anti-social justice. Except why would I care if I was? I care about social issues, which is why I care when debate within them is shut down - and women, POC and queer people are among those being pushed out.
posted by jb at 4:58 AM on June 17, 2015 [36 favorites]


One thing I've seen NortonDC pointing to a lot is a list of female members, feminists all, who don't feel comfortable with some of the changes in tone.

There are - I'm one of them. I haven't left, but I've felt attacked in threads on gender, especially since (as a genderqueer person) I have a different experience with gender than a lot of cis or trans people.

One of the members being criticised in the original thread stopped to identify as a POC, only to have others completely ignore that in their wish to attack her as racist and/or transphobic (while also misinterpreting her comments about race to be about gender identity).
posted by jb at 5:04 AM on June 17, 2015 [11 favorites]


Dysk: "A common shorthand for 'a is functionally the same as b' is 'a means b' or even 'a is b'."

So it makes sense to say "Bob doesn't want more bigotry, but Bob wants more bigotry"? Well, then, I guess my problem is with the English language. Damn you, English language! And I'm more of a descriptivist than a prescriptivist, so I can't even blame the OED, I can only blame the collective English-speaking community. Damn you, English speakers!
posted by Bugbread at 5:09 AM on June 17, 2015


It's absolutely possible for women to express opinions that are misogynist, POCs to express opinions that are racist, Jews to express opinions that are anti-Semitic, &c &c &c. I think we need to recognise this, as well as recognising that it doesn't necessarily make the holder of those opinions misogynist, racist, or anti-Semitic.
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:09 AM on June 17, 2015 [14 favorites]


So it makes sense to say "Bob doesn't want more bigotry, but Bob wants more bigotry"? Well, then, I guess my problem is with the English language. Damn you, English language! And I'm more of a descriptivist than a prescriptivist, so I can't even blame the OED, I can only blame the collective English-speaking community. Damn you, English speakers!

So it makes sense to say that "what Bob wants is more bigotry even if that isn't WHY he wants it". "You want x" doesn't necessarily mean "you want x in and of itself".
posted by Dysk at 5:10 AM on June 17, 2015


Or more simply: "want" can mean subtly different things, so it does indeed make sense to say "what Bob wants is more bigotry, but he doesn't *WANT* more bigotry".
posted by Dysk at 5:12 AM on June 17, 2015


Yeah, I wasn't being flippant there, I'm actually being annoyed at the English language right now.
posted by Bugbread at 5:14 AM on June 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


My bad!
posted by Dysk at 5:16 AM on June 17, 2015


Really? I see that equation quite commonly. Lots of unrepentant 2nd wave "essentialist" feminists get called TERFs on the internet. (A colleague of mine often rails against the number of contemporary feminist scholars who are real-live TERFs in their scholarship and never get called on it.) It seems like a pretty common problem, sadly.

There are old school feminists who are TERFs, and there are old school feminists who aren't TERFs. Some - not all - of the second set may disagree with some - not all - trans* activists on gender as a social phenomenon (as opposed to innate identity), but fully support the reality of innate gender identity and the inclusion of trans people as full and equal members of society.

Basically, there is a difference between denying trans identity (as TERFs do), and talking about how trans and cis (and genderqueer) experiences are quite different, due to gender as a social (as opposed to personal) phenomenon.
posted by jb at 5:17 AM on June 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


Personally I think that has fuck all to do with this meta, whether it's a sincerely held belief by you or not.
posted by h00py at 5:19 AM on June 17, 2015 [8 favorites]


My read is that there are no post-Judith Butler feminists doing scholarship on this issue who could be described as TERFs.

No, there's still that woman in Britain who gets trotted out by the BBC when they want a contrarian voice on trans* issues. Julie something-or-other. Also, the people who run the Michigan Women's Music Festival. They may or may not be academic feminists, but they are influential/loud.
posted by jb at 5:23 AM on June 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


Or more simply: "want" can mean subtly different things, so it does indeed make sense to say "what Bob wants is more bigotry, but he doesn't *WANT* more bigotry".

Is anyone else having flashbacks to middle school conversations of "so do you like, like him, or do you like, LIKE him?"
posted by Jacqueline at 5:26 AM on June 17, 2015 [6 favorites]


It's absolutely possible for women to express opinions that are misogynist, POCs to express opinions that are racist, Jews to express opinions that are anti-Semitic, &c &c &c.

True which is why we need forums where the discussion is based in logic and reason and sealions can be heard and refuted and sometimes feelings will be hurt but the right side will prove its case with logic, history and rhethotic rather than raw lived experience.

Some people think Metafilter used to be like that. For some things other than SJ it still is. But it doesn't have to be. And what it is: a place for marginalized groups to share their experiences (in a circumspect way, with no expectation of debate from within or without) seems like a great thing that is valued by many, including me! I've learned a heck of a lot from shutting up and reading.

I wish it could be both and not limit or hurt anyone but thems the breaks. I appeciate the place as it is, and will keep looking for a non-Tumbler discussion of SJ issues elsewhere too.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 5:41 AM on June 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


I agree with IRFH. It feels to me like we are developing a heckler's veto on the site - some users communicate disrespectfully on a topic, some users take offense, and the entire topic then gets yanked from the whole userbase, who, by-and-large, are not bigots or disrespectful. I get that this particular news story isn't the biggest deal in the world, but I hope the mods tread lightly in the future when thinking about similar potential deletions.

As a slightly side-point, I do wonder whether the deletion really accomplished anything, anyway. We still have a giant MeTa thread, we still have a lot of grar and anger, and I don't think we're in any better position for the next story/topic that emerges on issues of race/gender/etc. Would it really have been worse if we just had the original thread (or the second thread), had the truly hurtful/insensitive comments deleted, and had a long MeTa thread that would have probably looked much like this one?

It is also really disturbing to me how many vocal users in this thread seem to think that the way to make progress with one's thoughts and ideas in society is to make other people stop talking. I understand that the "words on a screen" argument proves too much - if none of this matters then who cares, etc. - but, still, if you need to have comments or users deleted in order to feel you can participate on a left-leaning website, I would suggest you're going to have a hard time convincing people of anything in the wider world. And the rejoinder "it's not my job to educate you and I'm tired of it" is truly bizarre to me - it's a discussion website; we discuss things and educate each other with respect to our views. If you're tired of that, ok, but that should not mean that other people have to stop talking.
posted by Mid at 5:41 AM on June 17, 2015 [30 favorites]


If NoraReed had a show...

Would it be on AMC, Netflix or HBO?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:43 AM on June 17, 2015


Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane -- "Honestly, all the howling about overmoderation and how we CAN'T say this or that and SJWs or whatever just really, really sounds like it comes from a fear of being wrong"

Read on my user page the post of mine that got deleted and then try to tell me it's about fear of being wrong.
posted by NortonDC at 5:44 AM on June 17, 2015 [4 favorites]


Not all progresss involves changing minds. Plenty is accomplished by banding together.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 5:45 AM on June 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


except the people who are actually good on SJ pretty much agree with each other on this issue

Except that this is a tautology, since "good on SJ" is defined as agreeing on this issue.

This is the Internet. We don't really know each other. No one knows how we really conduct our lives, how we prioritise what we do. I spend most of my time not on Metafilter - and a lot of that time is spent working (paid and volunteer) for a more inclusive society - for queer people, for people of colour, for women, for the disabled, and for the poor. Is this not social justice, though I and those I work with rarely use that language? My boss has done more than anyone I know to raise awareness of the specific needs of people with chronic diseases in the workplace - but she works entirely outside of the social justice paradigm.

It's not a matter of the SJ world versus bigots - and a reduction of debates here to that false dichotomy are harmful.
posted by jb at 5:47 AM on June 17, 2015 [22 favorites]


So it makes sense to say that "what Bob wants is more bigotry even if that isn't WHY he wants it". "You want x" doesn't necessarily mean "you want x in and of itself".

This discussion of entailment is weird. I very much want to eat some ice cream. I don't want to get fat. It seems perfectly cromulent to me to say that. But on your view, my wanting to eat ice cream is a desire to get fat! That can't be right.

I want to eat ice cream in the counterfactual world where it doesn't make me fat. I want to duck the entailment. I think the most you can say here is that if I eat the ice cream knowing that we live in a world where it will make me fat, I have accepted unfortunate consequences. But no, I did not want to get fat. Getting fat is a side effect of my desires.

(There's pretty good evidence that we attribute intention to people when they harm us, though.)
posted by anotherpanacea at 5:48 AM on June 17, 2015 [8 favorites]


jb, are you working through the thread and responding to comments as you arrive at them? That TERF discussion was like 500 comments ago.
posted by anotherpanacea at 5:49 AM on June 17, 2015 [6 favorites]


I'm really sympathetic to this view — I've voiced it before — but there are a lot of limits to it as an ethos. That effects matter more than intentions doesn't mean that intentions don't matter, especially for discussions of community norms. It's also not something that's as opaque as you imply in a later comment — while we can't know people's intentions perfectly, we know many of them as well as we know the effects: through personal statement. This is something that a lot of people pushing for more stringent moderation already act consistently with — otherwise a lot of the snark from people who support more stringent moderation wouldn't be tolerated. Intentions are treated as if they matter all the time here.

The other reason why intention is important and reflexively reducing this to a With Us or Against Us cry against bigotry has some significant costs is because persuasion is hugely more efficient than intervention (to say nothing of healthier for the community), and intent matters in persuading someone else to change their behavior. If you you reduce objections to shifts in moderation policy to being an endorsement of bigotry, someone who is not intending to endorse bigotry will either conclude that you're not talking about their particular comment or that you are insulting them rather than engaging.


Sorry for the long quote, but I wanted to be sure to get all of it. I think that intentions, as far as they matter, will appear not via member statements about their intents so much as future member actions. So, when I step on someone's foot at a party, it doesn't really matter if I intended to step on their foot, accidentally stepped on their foot because I wasn't paying attention, stepped on their foot because the room is crowded and I got shoved by someone else, or any other scenario. The immediate problem is that I am standing on their foot, and I need to get off their foot." So, one way I show my good intentions (given that no one (including me, often enough) can know my pure intentions, is by saying "sorry" as I get off their foot. I can further show my good intentions by making more effort to look where I am walking in the future, attending to the space around me better so I don't get pushed as easily, maybe not having my conversation in the doorway or buffet line, and so on. Loudly proclaiming my support of People with Sore Toes is only evidence of good intentions if I make continued effort not to step on people's toes -- effects speak way way louder than intentions. Similarly, if someone is generally a courteous non-toe-stepper, if they do step on someone's toes, I am more likely to assume that it was an accident; similarly, if I have watched them stamp around in huge clown shoes at every party, all the protestations of good intentions are wasted, because, well, I can see the damn clown shoes.

To the second point, I get that you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar, and I tend toward consensus and conciliation in my professional life and management style, but there are plenty of people for whom the softer approach just doesn't work, since it's easier for them to ignore the offers of conciliation than to give up their clown shoes. I think stricter moderation has, in the short term, moved at least some of the shouting from the bigotry to the complaints that "MetaFilter was better back in the old days when Al Swearengen could just shoot someone in the street without taz making such a deal about it," but this could die down as people get used to the idea that there are some ways they just can't behave anymore. Looking back at those old threads, it's clear that people have, on the whole, learned to behave better than they did 10 years ago. Those changes in moderation and site culture seem to have worked....
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:52 AM on June 17, 2015 [7 favorites]


I honestly though TERF was a highly derogatory term used to make fun of older feminists, primarily from having seen it used in places like Tumblr and other contexts. I learned today that it started as useful descriptor of points of view within feminism, and isn't (primarily) a really nasty insult.

It's an accurate and useful descriptor. The people who claim it's a nasty insult seem to be afraid of being called transphobic or transmisogynist.


TERF is an accurate and useful descriptor when applied to people like the ones discussed in this article (and elsewhere on the same site). However, I think actual usage is often closer to bonehead's initial impression of the meaning. I do see it deployed as an insult against people who are clearly not radical feminists and are therefore not TERFs (even if they might be transphobes). And since the meaning of a word is determined by its usage, I don't think it's unreasonable to consider it an insult (except when it's carefully used to only refer to people who subscribe to a trans-exclusionary radical feminist ideology, as it is on theterfs).
posted by klausness at 6:01 AM on June 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


So, when I step on someone's foot at a party, it doesn't really matter if I intended to step on their foot, accidentally stepped on their foot because I wasn't paying attention, stepped on their foot because the room is crowded and I got shoved by someone else, or any other scenario. The immediate problem is that I am standing on their foot, and I need to get off their foot.

Perhaps the problem is a bunch of people wearing clown shoes.
posted by amorphatist at 6:02 AM on June 17, 2015


I understand that the "words on a screen" argument proves too much - if none of this matters then who cares, etc. - but, still, if you need to have comments or users deleted in order to feel you can participate on a left-leaning website, I would suggest you're going to have a hard time convincing people of anything in the wider world.

MetaFilter is not the rest of the world. The rest of the world is. How we engage there and here are not necessarily related. You do not need to concern-troll about the strength and mental health of the people suggesting that this be a venue where they do not need to put up with toxic shit.
posted by Dysk at 6:03 AM on June 17, 2015 [16 favorites]


This discussion of entailment is weird. I very much want to eat some ice cream. I don't want to get fat. It seems perfectly cromulent to me to say that. But on your view, my wanting to eat ice cream is a desire to get fat! That can't be right.

I want to eat ice cream in the counterfactual world where it doesn't make me fat. I want to duck the entailment. I think the most you can say here is that if I eat the ice cream knowing that we live in a world where it will make me fat, I have accepted unfortunate consequences. But no, I did not want to get fat. Getting fat is a side effect of my desires.


Analogies break down here because 'getting fat' does not follow from eating ice cream in the same way. You might have only wanted an ice cream for the flavour, or the coldness, or whatever - it'd still be correct to say that you wanted to eat.

We also don't live in a counterfactual world, and a desire in the real world to eat ice cream is a desire to ingest calories. 'Getting fat' is too far removed from that. Wanting less moderation is wanting more opinions expressed, including bigotry. It is wanting more bigotry. A broader cultural shift toward more racism, sexism, homophobia, &c in the world is analogous to 'getting fat' here, and does not necessarily follow.
posted by Dysk at 6:06 AM on June 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


Late to the party (?) ... this has been a beast to read up on. But my reaction to the OP it is pretty much the same -- the mods were probably right to delete the thread from a practical standpoint, but it really is a conversation we should be capable of having. And some of the arguments surrounding this have been troubling.

I've only been around MeFi since late '07, so I can't speak to the quality of discussion on race and gender issues prior. Even in that relatively short time, things have improved markedly, especially after watershed posts like this. Jessamyn especially did a fantastic job raising the quality bar.

But I've also noticed that in the last 2-3 years such valuable discussions have been soured more and more by the most zealous aspects of the Twitter/Tumblr callout culture -- a kind of zero-tolerance hostility not just towards redpillers, gamergators, casual racists, and other overt enemies, but towards friends and allies that conduct themselves imperfectly. Where polite disagreement and well-meaning cluelessness is equated with bigotry and hate speech, and scorned just as hard.

Consider the MeTa post a few months back calling for a blanket ban on Reddit links, where those disagreeing with the idea were called thoughtless, unwelcoming to queer people and women, and equated with rape apologists. Or the recent threads about a possible #JuneByQueers, a benign, welcoming gesture that got so mired in criticism and tarred as arrogant and oppressive that OP had to leave the site for a while. Or heck, just look at this current trainwreck. Not only are the deleted thread mentions of "transracialism" hate-filled transphobia rather than simply un-(or mis)informed, but people who suggest the deletion was bad or that such offensively wrong ideas are worth arguing against rather than suppressing are supporters of bigotry, if not closet bigots themselves. There's way too much assumption of bad faith and interpreting motives in the least charitable light. The heavy reliance on theory and jargon and meta-analysis (where the very act of talking about these issues impolitically is deemed offensive and even harmful) makes having any kind of constructive dialogue with the uninitiated even more difficult.

It would be really nice if we could all try to heed Jay Smooth's advice to criticize the behavior and not the person when it comes to sensitive issues like this, as well as to be realistic about the level of understanding the average person, or even the average MeFite, is going to have about the realities of being queer or being trans*, even when those realities are incredibly important to said groups. I'm not saying ignorance of the burdens of trans issues is okay, but this tendency to attack both it and any attempt to bridge the gap is not healthy. And I worry about the long-term viability of the site if it develops a reputation as an unforgiving minefield of esoteric critical theory and identity politics that's unwelcoming not just for social conservatives but for people who are sympathetic to (or even members of) marginalized groups.
posted by Rhaomi at 6:07 AM on June 17, 2015 [71 favorites]


Does "toxic shit" include being accused of attacking someone's "mental health" when you did no such thing? Or do the calls for respect (and deletions) only run one way?
posted by Mid at 6:07 AM on June 17, 2015 [6 favorites]


MetaFilter is not the rest of the world. The rest of the world is. How we engage there and here are not necessarily related. You do not need to concern-troll about the strength and mental health of the people suggesting that this be a venue where they do not need to put up with toxic shit.

Where do you come up with this shit? Are you sure you're posting in the right browser tab?
posted by amorphatist at 6:12 AM on June 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


Not only are the deleted thread mentions of "transracialism" hate-filled transphobia rather than simply un-(or mis)informed

The two are not mutually exclusive. You can parrot hate-filled transphobia as a result of being un- or misinformed. One needs not assume bad faith to find something to be hate-filled transphobia, and the opposite - that assuming good faith means NOT pointing out when something is hate-filled transphobia - a rather disturbing alternative.
posted by Dysk at 6:12 AM on June 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


Does "toxic shit" include being accused of attacking someone's "mental health" when you did no such thing? Or do the calls for respect (and deletions) only run one way?

Hey now, I thought it was just words on a screen.
posted by Dysk at 6:12 AM on June 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


anotherpanacea: yes, I was behind. Still am - this is a long thread.
posted by jb at 6:14 AM on June 17, 2015


jb: then please consider whether commenting on topics that have since been left behind is actually all that helpful here.
posted by Too-Ticky at 6:17 AM on June 17, 2015 [7 favorites]


Perhaps the problem is a bunch of people wearing clown shoes.

I'm kind of surprised it's taken so long to get to the tinfoil-hat part of the conversation, where the contrarians start accusing people of making this all up just to gain sympathy or internet points.
posted by zombieflanders at 6:18 AM on June 17, 2015 [4 favorites]


I /think/ you’re confused about which side that poster is on zombieflanders. But I look forward to the outrage from the OP that they might be making stuff up in order to score internet points: Clearly only the *other* side ever does that.
posted by pharm at 6:24 AM on June 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


> True which is why we need forums where the discussion is based in logic and reason and sealions can be heard and refuted and sometimes feelings will be hurt but the right side will prove its case with logic, history and rhethotic rather than raw lived experience.

Leaving aside for the moment the premise that lived experience is of less value than logic, and that somehow things like racism, sexism, homophobia, and transphobia can be solved using logic, this all falls apart when someone simply will not accept the premise that logic-arguer is working from. There have been multiple mefites in multiple threads who seem to be happy to ignore logic, history, and helpful links full of the same because they would rather e.g. misgender someone, or continue to insist that no, it really is a compliment when a man hey-babys a woman on the street.

And what, exactly, would be the logic that cat-calling is unwelcome to the vast majority of women that would convince the cat-caller to quit it already? I have some lived experience around that but I guess that doesn't count (as much)?
posted by rtha at 6:25 AM on June 17, 2015 [18 favorites]


Where do you come up with this shit? Are you sure you're posting in the right browser tab?

Substitute "ability to deal with the world" for "mental health" and it should be much clearer. They mean the same.
posted by Dysk at 6:27 AM on June 17, 2015


Folks, I'd like to make a plea for trying to keep this reined in to discuss the post topic in considered way and try to avoid wandering down all sorts of derailing detours and interpersonal fights, generalized complaints, animosity and hostility, etc. We literally cannot keep up with this thread.

Google tells me a typical novel has 80,000 - 100,000 words. This thread is over 120,000 words. We have limited human bandwidth, and it's stretched mighty thin at the moment. Please, if you are going to comment here, try to make it productive and useful.
posted by taz (staff) at 6:28 AM on June 17, 2015 [19 favorites]


I /think/ you’re confused about which side that poster is on zombieflanders. But I look forward to the outrage from the OP that they might be making stuff up in order to score internet points: Clearly only the *other* side ever does that.

I think amorphatist is saying the problem is that people are oversensitive to comments which they find hurtful.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 6:29 AM on June 17, 2015 [3 favorites]


Wow, this shit storm is still raging! Great because I was wondering something and someone here might know the answer. Are "we" saying that the misuse of the term "transracial" is transphobic? And if we are I'm unclear how using that term constitutes "phobic" behavior (irrational anxiety or fear) or is transphobic more of catch-all sort of term?
posted by MikeMc at 6:30 AM on June 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


>Perhaps the problem is a bunch of people wearing clown shoes.

I'm kind of surprised it's taken so long to get to the tinfoil-hat part of the conversation, where the contrarians start accusing people of making this all up just to gain sympathy or internet points.


That may be a bit unkind. Perhaps amorphatist is coming to the realization that, yes, MetaFilter has a bunch of people wearing clown shoes, and those derided as SJWs are simply asking that clown shoes be left at the door of this particular party.

I mean, a boy can dream.

In other news, my spell-checker made a sort of bizarre attempt to get me to type "MetaFilleter," which kind of is a thing. New subsite, please?
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:32 AM on June 17, 2015


Wow, this shit storm is still raging! Great because I was wondering something and someone here might know the answer. Are "we" saying that the misuse of the term "transracial" is transphobic?

Yes.

And if we are I'm unclear how using that term constitutes "phobic" behavior (irrational anxiety or fear) or is transphobic more of catch-all sort of term?

Transphobia (and homophobia) are not phobias in that sense, much like a computer virus isn't actually a a small infectious agent that replicates only inside the living cells of other organisms.
posted by Dysk at 6:34 AM on June 17, 2015 [25 favorites]


I read it as saying that if people are getting their toes trodden on by people with clown shoes on, it’s the fault of the clown-shoes wearers (in this analogy, the clown-shoes wearers are those innocently (or not) repeating viewpoints that oppress others) & they ought to take their clown shoes off and stop inadvertently treading on other people’s toes.

It’s interesting that other people appear to have jumped to exactly the opposite conclusion.
posted by pharm at 6:34 AM on June 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


Transracial is a bullshit made up term being used to undermine transgender people's actual life experience. The fact that people are trying to use other people's life experiences as gotchas is maybe not phobic but it certainly seems to be disrespectful, that's for sure.
posted by h00py at 6:36 AM on June 17, 2015 [4 favorites]


Thank you Dysk.
posted by MikeMc at 6:37 AM on June 17, 2015


Note: pharm asked that their comment be deleted, which it has been.
posted by taz (staff) at 6:45 AM on June 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


Rhaomi (and maybe His thoughts were red thoughts)-- "It would be really nice if we could all try to heed Jay Smooth's advice to criticize the behavior and not the person"

Heh, I may have been the first person to formalize that idea for Metafilter. Slightly before Jay Smooth!
posted by NortonDC at 6:45 AM on June 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


I read it as saying that if people are getting their toes trodden on by people with clown shoes on, it’s the fault of the clown-shoes wearers (in this analogy, the clown-shoes wearers are those innocently (or not) repeating viewpoints that oppress others) & they ought to take their clown shoes off and stop inadvertently treading on other people’s toes.

pharm, I think you misread the analogy amorphatist was responding to. The person repeating oppressive viewpoints is the person stepping on people's feet, which is much easier to do when the people around that person are wearing clown shoes:

So, when I step on someone's foot at a party, it doesn't really matter if I intended to step on their foot, accidentally stepped on their foot because I wasn't paying attention, stepped on their foot because the room is crowded and I got shoved by someone else, or any other scenario. The immediate problem is that I am standing on their foot, and I need to get off their foot.

But really, I read amorphatist's comment the way I did because I remember which side of this kind of argument he's come down on in the past, even in this thread.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 6:48 AM on June 17, 2015 [6 favorites]


Substitute "ability to deal with the world" for "mental health" and it should be much clearer. They mean the same.

Yeah, that also wasn't said. Best I can find in the comment you were addressing was "but, still, if you need to have comments or users deleted in order to feel you can participate on a left-leaning website, I would suggest you're going to have a hard time convincing people of anything in the wider world.". There is no commentary made there on anybody's mental health, that comment is just smearing shit around.

pharm, I think you misread the analogy amorphatist was responding to. The person repeating oppressive viewpoints is the person stepping on people's feet, which is much easier to do when the people around that person are wearing clown shoes:

Rustic, you are correct. This is an important issue to me and my cloven-hooved cadre.
posted by amorphatist at 6:54 AM on June 17, 2015


Dysk: "The two are not mutually exclusive. You can parrot hate-filled transphobia as a result of being un- or misinformed. One needs not assume bad faith to find something to be hate-filled transphobia, and the opposite - that assuming good faith means NOT pointing out when something is hate-filled transphobia - a rather disturbing alternative."

There is also a reasonable middle ground: recognizing the difference between (1) hurtful comments made out of ignorance that they are hurtful and (2) hurtful comments made out of contempt in order to hurt. My point is that it's not constructive to characterize the former as the latter by using loaded words like transphobic and bigoted that lump them in with the very real people who actively hate -- it just puts people on the defensive and causes unnecessarily nasty fights.
posted by Rhaomi at 6:55 AM on June 17, 2015 [8 favorites]


Rhaomi (and maybe His thoughts were red thoughts)-- "It would be really nice if we could all try to heed Jay Smooth's advice to criticize the behavior and not the person"

This is generally great advice, but, in the past we have at least one MeTa attacking this concept. As far as I can tell, the effort is to move the euphemism so far down the line that no one can ever be called out for anything except the most cartoonish bigotry or harassment.

Which doesn't mean it's not a good tactic, just that it also has limitations.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:56 AM on June 17, 2015 [6 favorites]


How is that not exactly what I wrote Rustic? ie that the problem is clearly the people with clown shoes on, not the poor sods having their toes trodden on. I am now very confused.
posted by pharm at 6:57 AM on June 17, 2015 [1 favorite]


Mmmm. I actually really appreciate comments made recently by jb, Rhaomi, and GenjiandProust here. Because, actually, one thing that I value deeply about the Metafilter community specifically is the chance to have a space that is simultaneously not tolerant of bigoted themes in discussion but which also prioritizes respect among users and an assumption of good faith. It is, admittedly, really difficult to strike a balance there--partly because the topic necessitates an awareness of a whole lot of chafed sore spots set into place by an unequal world outside this comunity--but I think it's worth aiming for.

The thing is, I don't actually think that the solution to minimizing the more toxic aspects of call-out culture is to have less moderation. I think that the best way to foster a sitewide culture of respect that makes call-out culture unnecessary is to... well, foster a sitewide culture of respect and relative trust among people on Metafilter. That means removing inflammatory discussions that are causing a lot of people pain and exhaustion. It means coming down hard on people who are repeatedly making bigoted statements after being requested to stop and pulling them out of the conversation until they can be respectful to everyone, not only people who share their particular background.

Users who have come in swinging on this issue, needling anyone who thinks the increased modding in general has been helpful and publicly espousing a desire for a mythical past, are actually making our ability to have these difficult conversations more difficult. They're making it more likely that those aspects of callout culture will become established in Metafilter culture, because those needling comments establish an atmosphere of "us vs them." And, because they come from mostly (as far as I can tell, anyway) cis/het/white/male posters, they make many users who belong to at least one marginalized group bristle and draw lines in the sand.

That's for a couple of reasons: one, highly privileged people have less experience with patterns of marginalization and with very few exceptions tend to blunder right into those sore spots--metaphorically, people who don't get stepped on very much tend to be a bit clumsier about where they put their feet. The other reason is that the context of many marginalized groups on the internet involves a lot of people dismissing marginalized lived experiences over and over and over again, and that's terribly exhausting. Highly privileged people tossing off one-liners and longing for a past which was demonstrably worse for marginalized groups than Metafilter is now fits right into that dismissive experience and context, which usually makes it much harder to trust the other "side" to respond respectfully in the future. It's hard to make yourself vulnerable and put yourself out there if your entire experience is screaming that the other person you're talking to is going to kick you when you're down.

Barbs grousing about Tumblr and Twitter being terrible are the opposite of helpful here. So are dismissive, terse, "You are completely wrong" style comments. The best way in my experience to deal with that tension and exhaustion is to reiterate the humanity of the person you're talking to and to affirm their lived experiences, even if you personally completely disagree with their take on the situation. Unfortunately that only works if the other person is willing to respect your experience in return, and that's where I think moderation comes in. That's the only way to have the interesting, hard, mind-expanding conversations, though; trusting the other parties in the conversation enough to respect you when you make yourself vulnerable enough to put yourself out there.
posted by sciatrix at 6:59 AM on June 17, 2015 [14 favorites]


This is an important issue to me and my cloven-hooved cadre.

buddy, you thought "the afternoon of a faun" was about bambi
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 6:59 AM on June 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


Oh right, I see it now: the *other* interpretation is that if there are a bunch of people walking around with clown shoes on, it’s difficult to avoid treading on them.

Another example for the "your own preconceptions will result in you interpreting the same text in completely different ways to other people" folder.
posted by pharm at 7:02 AM on June 17, 2015 [2 favorites]


buddy, you thought the afternoon of a faun was about bambi

Hey now, that sounds like a product of cis-shoed privilege. I'm not saying you're hoofphobic, just that that comment could contribute to anti-hoof bigotry.
posted by amorphatist at 7:04 AM on June 17, 2015