In Soviet Metafilter, Ve Have Velkom Packet September 1, 2015 11:17 AM   Subscribe

I propose we brainstorm some policy changes to put a stop to people basically asking for a public beat down and getting it when they get frustrated with having their comments deleted.

I think we used to see this when long time, active participants got behind the 8 ball and could find no way out. I think we have largely dismantled the dynamic that caused some of the regulars to feel personally persecuted and I feel like we aren't seeing long time members post these kinds of metas anymore. But new people still show up who don't understand the deletion policy, conclude the mods are out to get them, desire to take it to a higher authority and thus post a meta. These never go well. Aside from the occasional engagement party spontaneously breaking out, there is zero upside to letting someone introduce themselves to the community in such a negative way.

Just to get the ball rolling, I will toss out my thoughts on what we could do differently. I am not married to any of these ideas. I think almost anything would be better than the current way this goes down.

My thought is we should probably tweak whatever welcome email people are getting to let them know that the site is more heavily moderated than average. It is done not to be oppressive but to foster civil discourse because substantive discussion of difficult subjects only happens when certain protections are in place. You sometimes find good discussion without heavy moderation in smaller venues, but once it grows past a certain size, policing is necessary.

Second, I suggest there be a form letter or script or FAQ or something for helping the mods handle the first complaint or inquiry as diplomatically as possible. Maybe something that acknowledges we are aware that this can be a frustrating experience, but moderating here is different from other forums, here is why and the membership is overall happy with it, so it isn't going to radically change just because it causes friction at times for new people. We are aware of that friction and trying to mitigate it, but we don't expect it to ever go away completely.

Ironically, if the mods were some kind of oppressive, totalitarian government, they would never let you badmouth them via their own publishing platform by posting one of these Metas. They aren't oppressive overlords, so they do allow it and it never ends well. So, this is where my tongue in cheek title comes from: I am going to suggest we not allow these Metas.

I suggest that when someone posts a fighty Meta about their own deletions accusing the mods of oppression that has "shit show" written all over it, they get an email linking them to this Meta which advises that the community does not want people self immolating with our help, this type of Meta has no upside and we no longer do them. Link to several examples of similarly framed Metas, advise them "Please note, every last one of them is a beat down of the OP. We don't want that to be your coming out party." Let them know that, in our experience, it is usually a case of a terrible misunderstanding concerning the deletion policies. We hope that reading the linked metas casts light on that and clears up any concerns you have.

If that doesn't satisfy you and you still wish to post a meta to discuss your deletions with the community, here are some metas about deletions that went well. We encourage you to read through them and then try again to write your meta. We have zero problem with letting you talk to the community about your deletions, but your current framing is akin to yelling FIRE! in a crowded theater when there is no fire, a form of speech outlawed in the U.S. many years ago. If you can reframe it so it isn't a guaranteed pile-on, we will be happy to accommodate you.

Anyway, that's my set of suggestions. I open it to the community for discussion.
posted by Michele in California to Etiquette/Policy at 11:17 AM (685 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite

I've thought about this a lot over the years, actually. I revised the FAQ piecemeal, but need to go through it an do an overhaul to condense it somewhat. I also need to go over the other text screens people see when they sign up, that's been on my agenda for September. Some of the info will end up in the Mefi Wiki, and the wiki is a great place to start with brainstorming welcome materials. It already has a welcome/orientation page, and people can very much add to that.

One difficulty is that (many) people don't read welcome materials, so it may be a forlorn hope to solve this through writing.

About the MeTa queue -- it's tough, especially with postings about moderator decisions or suspicions of moderator motives, we feel a stronger importance to those posts being allowed than any other kind of post. That's exactly what MetaTalk is for. There are circumstances where we would email the person first before putting such a post through, but this wasn't really one of them.

But in this thread, I would be really interested to hear -- for people who remember being a new member (especially in the last couple years): what would have been helpful in terms of helping you to understand the culture/moderation/etc here?
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 11:25 AM on September 1, 2015 [5 favorites]


How willing are users to hit the contact form for backchannel discussions? You might want to run those numbers & see how often users go to the mods before going to meta, especially relative to start date on the site.
posted by Going To Maine at 11:29 AM on September 1, 2015


My quick impression is, new users don't generally use the contact form spontaneously. But we Mefimail them sometimes, and the contact form is linked from the MetaTalk posting form, so in order to post a MeTa they've affirmatively bypassed an opportunity to talk to the mods privately.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 11:31 AM on September 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


Also, if anybody knows of community orientation pages that do this kind of thing well, I'd be interested to see them.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 11:36 AM on September 1, 2015 [4 favorites]


In my experience, the people most in need of such careful handling and assurances are the people least likely to think they need them.

You can lead a person to information, but you can't make them think.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 11:48 AM on September 1, 2015 [112 favorites]


My quick impression is, new users don't generally use the contact form spontaneously. But we Mefimail them sometimes, and the contact form is linked from the MetaTalk posting form, so in order to post a MeTa they've affirmatively bypassed an opportunity to talk to the mods privately.

I'm not thinking of using the Contact Form before a MetaTalk, but more generally. I know there are users who don’t like hitting the contact form because they think it’ll create trouble for the mods, and I think that that concern means that people may not check with the mods before posting or making a comment that will get flagged and deleted.
posted by Going To Maine at 11:58 AM on September 1, 2015 [3 favorites]


I remember reading a lot of the wiki when I signed up. It was delightful and full of useful information, but I felt like I was learning about metafilter in a really disorganized and piecemeal way. I was/am OK getting to know the site slowly and organically, but I'm kinda quiet. I think a lot of people sign up with THINGS TO SAY and don't want to sit quietly in the corner for a few months. Perhaps a link to a "I got deleted waaaah" meta would be good to include somewhat prominently in the sign up materials. Or if people try to post one, they get automatically asked "would you like to see these related Metas first?" so they have some idea what they're getting themselves into?
posted by congen at 12:03 PM on September 1, 2015 [4 favorites]


The thing that makes me sad is that this is basically asking MeFi to change in order to accord with today's internet. I wish it was the other way around: that the internet would change to be more like MeFi.
posted by Pyrogenesis at 12:05 PM on September 1, 2015 [8 favorites]


What would have been helpful in terms of helping you to understand the culture/moderation/etc here?

I'll be honest - with few exceptions (Crone Island) I'm an inveterate lurker, so I've never had the problem of not being aware of site culture. My impression of the recent events was that the individual lurked reading the posts but avoided comments until beginning to make them, and I'm not sure that's a dynamic that can be fixed with more words. Even though most deletions vanish, there are still mod notes in particularly contentious threads which track the moderation style, so I don't think it's a visibility problem either.

The idea of linking to similar MeTas is an interesting one; I'm not sure whether or not it would work.
posted by Deoridhe at 12:05 PM on September 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


Linking to cautionary past "why was I deleted, you FASCISTS?!" MeTas would be counter-productive: it just shows prospective problem-stirrers how effectively entertaining they can make their problem. (Full disclosure: I believe vanishingly few of those types of MeTas come from honest confusion or misunderstandings; at the dubious best, they come from particularly tantrum-y bad days and lashing-out. The mods are considerably more optimistic than I on this, to the site's overall benefit, bad threads aside!)

The contact form's utility is pretty prominent in New Post verbiage for both metafilter and metatalk subsites, and while it could be pushed more, I think it's pretty diminishing returns. Being able to hit up the contact form in askmefi's New Post case could be clarified a bit more: currently it could actually be read as just there if a poster has questions about the site itself. One of the bullet points being "If you'd like any clarifications on the site policies on allowable and advisable posts in AskMefi, please use the contact form; we're happy to help!" or suchlike could be useful in some cases.
posted by Drastic at 12:17 PM on September 1, 2015 [3 favorites]


i'm wary of commenting because i am worried that to some extent my problems with metafilter are "just me", and in some sense i am just wrong, while metafilter is right. while i have thought a lot about this, i don't have a great explanation. so feel free to read the following with prejudice....

and also, maybe this is post is about a different problem from the one i feel.

i'm not sure how much you can "fix". i don't think it's a communication issue, really. mefi is just a certain way and some people (myself included) find it stilted and, well, vaguely unpleasant and fake. but that's just how it is. and it seems to be something that most people here are quite ok with. it's not that the people are fake or unpleasant. quite the opposite - the mods are some of the nicest people i've met on the net - but rather there's a culture that arises from the site. and it's clearly something that is completely ok with most people.

it's something to do with a a set of values and a way of communicating that i simply don't share the way other people here do. i visit reddit and, despite the unpleasantness, feel much more at home. here there's a "way of talking" that doesn't come easily. if i want to say certain things i have to dress them up - virtually hide them - so that they are acceptable.

and, as i said above, perhaps this is my problem. perhaps the things i want to say should not be said. perhaps they come from a position of power and privilege that i simply cannot compensate for. i honestly worry about this - i've had conversations with my partner asking if i am a "good man", etc etc. it's very difficult to know what is culture and what is "innate".

incidentally, it's not just reddit. the closest i have is "educated american". there's a style of self-censorship, of false praise, of avoiding criticism that metafilter shares with quora (at least when i was there) and with some software dev teams (one i won't name centred around mit).
posted by andrewcooke at 12:20 PM on September 1, 2015 [31 favorites]


I'm stapling a rider to this to stop In Soviet Russia jokes.
posted by griphus at 12:23 PM on September 1, 2015 [56 favorites]


The thing that makes me sad is that this is basically asking MeFi to change in order to accord with today's internet.

I don't really see that? There aren't any changes to MeFi being proposed; the proposal is to find a better on-ramp for new users... and the need for that isn't really because the Internet has changed, but rather because MeFi has accumulated a lot of site-specific culture over the years that—while taken for granted by the regulars—really isn't immediately obvious.

(My inclination is to be in favor of finding ways of making it easy for new members to learn that stuff, of constructively notifying new commenters/posters of the reasons for deleting their comments and posts, and perhaps of adding a paragraph specifically about moderation gripes to the MetaTalk new-post screen, but I'd stop short of not approving such MetaTalk posts as a general policy.)
posted by Shmuel510 at 12:28 PM on September 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


I could imagine that MeTas like the one that prompted this request could be kept quite a lot shorter. How?

Well (assuming good faith of the poster), if it is clear from the get-go that the poster has not really read all of the FAQ and/or does not really understand how some aspect of this place works, THAT's when an extended welcome package could be sent (as opposed to on signup). Chances may in such a case be slightly higher that the material actually would be read.

The mod-in-charge then would leave a note in the MeTa thread itself informing everyone that the discussion has been taken to the next level (which is to inform the (assumedly new-ish) member of the nuts and bolts, and to encourage them to come back via the contact form if something remains unclear). The thread could then be closed.

To answer part of LobsterMitten's question above, what [would have been] was helpful when I was new here: the answer is--of course--lurking for a prolonged time, and actually clicking on a bunch of links around the site. Lurking: specifically on MetaTalk, to understand what keeps people busy regarding site policy, and who among the more frequent users conducts her/his discussions in what way.
I admit I had a lot of time over in the period just before I entered, much more than many people usually have (or than I have now), so there's that.

I should add that from where I stand the site dynamics are actually not very difficult to understand or to relate to, and never have been; that may, of course, not be fully representative for others.
posted by Namlit at 12:28 PM on September 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


gah. that should be "it's not just mefi" at the end, sorry.
posted by andrewcooke at 12:29 PM on September 1, 2015


I agree that 1) people don't read the New User/FAQ-type literature, especially when it's long, and 2) those who really need it won't seek it out or pay attention to it.

The FAQ is good for looking up information about site policies once you're in the door, and ditto the wiki. These are both things you need to actively seek and spend time reading.

Cutesy: make some short videos, PSA-style. 30 seconds to a minute max, nothing fancy. Something like "Silenced all my life!" could tackle both mod behavior (deletions don't get personal attention, so your comments will "disappear without a sound") and injokes (rattle off a few, including "silenced all my life"), and "Mods are users, too" could get into how mods aren't invisible demi-gods, but users who comment and post along side normal mortals folks, and highlight the "Contact Us" option.

Direct response: provide feedback to new users on their first [x] deletions of comments, questions and/or front page posts.

The former would take time, but could be done by users as well as mods, so it's not necessarily a burden on the Mod Squad. The latter, however, would require either some log of users (does this exist in some mod view?) and maybe templates for initial responses for deleted comments, questions and posts. I don't know how feasible thi is, technically or due to time constraints, but it would provide direct feedback for new users who might need that kind of thing.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:33 PM on September 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


I think this is a lost cause.

These sort of "SILENCED ALL MY LIFE" posts are actually pretty rare. The vast, vast majority of people assimilate perfectly well into the community, with maybe a bump here and there.

There are always going to be some tiny fraction of people who Just Don't Get It, and there's nothing you can do with these people. Warnings and emails and PSA stuff isn't going to help, or they wouldn't get to the point where they're crying about fascism and threatening self-mutilation.

Let them flame out and move on, this place isn't for them.
posted by Sangermaine at 12:36 PM on September 1, 2015 [37 favorites]


a thought: when something is deleted, there's no notification. Just all of a sudden your question/post is gone, and if you remember the url, you can see the reason for the deletion. I've always found this kind of passive aggressive.

Would it be hard to include some sort of automatic e-mail that goes something along the lines of..
Hi INFJ,

Just wanted to let you know we had to remove [post title] from the website for the following reason: [reason you normally see when visiting a deleted post]

You can review the rules and guidelines for posting here: [link to FAQ]

If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to reply back to me!

Sincerely,
Cortex
..With the reply address pointing to the moderation team email account?
posted by INFJ at 12:36 PM on September 1, 2015 [54 favorites]


INFJ, I think that would be great too.
posted by fritley at 12:38 PM on September 1, 2015


INFJ - when you make a post you get a MeMail with a link to the post in it, so you can just click that to see the deletion reason.
posted by marienbad at 12:40 PM on September 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


and if you remember the url

Or look at the post notification in meMail, which is not the most straightforward process.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 12:40 PM on September 1, 2015


I do generally Mefimail new people if they get a post/question deleted.

Not so for comments, unless there's an easy-to-fix problem and they'll be able to repost the comment if it's fixed.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 12:42 PM on September 1, 2015 [3 favorites]


Oh and about this:

"Please note, every last one of them is a beat down of the OP. We don't want that to be your coming out party."

I'm a friendly type of person, so in principle I agree with your request for finding ways to avoid unnecessary pile-ups, -ons, or storms-de-poope [spell-check wants this to be storm-de-poopes].
On the other hand, the most recent example of this happening had the poster ask for "community feedback" in the first line, and then get all shitty in the small print that followed below. Here I feel they do deserve what they asked for: community feedback.
posted by Namlit at 12:42 PM on September 1, 2015 [9 favorites]


avoiding criticism
andrewcooke

I'm curious what you think MetaFilter avoids criticizing, because people here seem ready to criticize anything.

If there's one thing MetaFilter has taught me, it's that everything I like, think, feel, read, watch, eat, enjoy, or do is wrong and bad.
posted by Sangermaine at 12:43 PM on September 1, 2015 [26 favorites]


They aren't oppressive overlords, so they do allow it and it never ends well.

For some value of "not well." I mean, afaik, no one actually gets a "beat down." A snarky comment thread seems to be the worst result. I realize that there's a cost of moderator time and effort there, but that seems to be about it. If that isn't the kind of thing moderation wants to entertain here in the future, it won't be a great loss. But it's needlessly dramatic to describe any of that as "persecution" or "immolation" or a "beat down" or even a "shit show" when it's just people exchanging snark in a text-based forum. And, yes, there is an upside to letting someone introduce themselves to the community in such a negative way: in the unforgettable words of Joel and the 'bots: it's funny!

Mind you, I really don't care if the moderators decide they never want such a "shit show" to happen again. They can do what they want to prevent it. They can establish a network of drones to deliver engraved warnings for all I mind. I do object, just a little, to the whole tone of "we are a very serious place and we must be very serious. We are too serious to entertain ourselves at the expense of screaming randos."
posted by octobersurprise at 12:44 PM on September 1, 2015 [9 favorites]


Sangermaine - i am talking mainly about askme. sorry, should have made that clear.

edit: so 1 maybe disrgeard my post and 2 it just struck me maybe this is a style of discussion learnt at uni.
posted by andrewcooke at 12:46 PM on September 1, 2015


I remember reading a lot of the wiki when I signed up. It was delightful and full of useful information, but I felt like I was learning about metafilter in a really disorganized and piecemeal way.

Haven't thought through the rest of what's in this post/thread but I agree with this.
posted by en forme de poire at 12:47 PM on September 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


INFJ - when you make a post you get a MeMail with a link to the post in it, so you can just click that to see the deletion reason.

I don't. Or if I do, I don’t know about it, and that’s a bigger problem. But the whole point of the memail would be an alert that the process has gone awry, and that’s useful in and of itself. It could be a default preference that users could optionally turn off.

I do generally Mefimail new people if they get a post/question deleted.

And thanks for it! But I’d still love to get notes about it even now, & just because you’re good about it doesn’t mean that all mods will do the same. An automatic notice would be a good fix.
posted by Going To Maine at 12:50 PM on September 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

when you make a post you get a MeMail with a link to the post in it, so you can just click that to see the deletion reason.
In the case of a relatively new user, I feel like there is a remarkable difference between reaching out in friendly explanation vs sudden discovery.

I also feel as though the deletion e-mail would useful for experienced users. It starts the deletion off on a more positive foot.
posted by INFJ at 12:51 PM on September 1, 2015 [7 favorites]


But in this thread, I would be really interested to hear -- for people who remember being a new member (especially in the last couple years): what would have been helpful in terms of helping you to understand the culture/moderation/etc here?

I don't know, I lurked and visited off and on for literal years before getting an account and actually commenting. By the time I did actually start commenting, I felt reasonably confident that I understood Metafilter's general site culture and tone. Any deletions of my comments or answers have always led to me shrugging and going "yeah, that's fair."

As much as I believe in the power of lurking though, not sure I'd want LURK MOAR to be Official Site Policy. (I mean, if I was a mod, I'd totally delete comments with LURK MOAR as the explanation, but that is why I am not a mod.)
posted by yasaman at 1:00 PM on September 1, 2015 [11 favorites]


I'm not sure this happens enough to be a huge problem. To new members, I mean. Old members who post these kinds of Metatalk know exactly what they are in for and what they are doing.
posted by Justinian at 1:03 PM on September 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm stapling a rider to this to stop In Soviet Russia jokes.

PLEASE
posted by shakespeherian at 1:17 PM on September 1, 2015 [3 favorites]


In Soviet Russia In Soviet Russia jokes tell you In Soviet Russia jokes
posted by item at 1:28 PM on September 1, 2015 [11 favorites]


vhat
posted by Namlit at 1:30 PM on September 1, 2015 [3 favorites]


In Soviet Russia Smirnoff produces cheap joke; in US Smirnoff produces cheap drunk.
posted by octobersurprise at 1:31 PM on September 1, 2015 [6 favorites]


why was my comment deleted, you FASCISTS???!!!!
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 1:32 PM on September 1, 2015 [5 favorites]


Smile! You're on Metafilter.
posted by michaelh at 1:33 PM on September 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


I don't really want to rehash my history here. I will just briefly say that I have some very serious personal problems that routinely cause me social friction, but counterbalancing that I also have a lot of soft skills and I am pretty talented at smoothing things over after I have ruffled feathers. My initial experiences on MetaFilter were pretty negative and I did every last thing people here are saying newbies should do but supposedly don't do, so fuck 'em. I read the FAQ. I read the Wiki. I asked questions of the mods. Nothing was really helping. I did my damnedest and my subjective experience was that everyone was actively trying to make it harder for me, not easier, while blaming me for failing.

It is the roughest experience of trying to fit in at first I have ever had, rougher than the time I signed up earlier than I intended specifically to jump into a fighty discussion about homelessness and tell everyone they were doing it wrong before bothering to intro myself like I was supposed to do, then apologized in my intro for my bad manners and spent a good six weeks bending over backwards to prove that, no, I am not Just An Asshole, I simply felt strongly about that one topic (and this was years before I was homeless, so don't jump to that conclusion). I later worked for a time as one of the mods on that site and, at some point well after I left it, I tripped across an article with basically a glowing review of some of my work there.

Thus, I see a problem here and I think it is not just me. The site has a mature culture, it is opaque to new people and it wouldn't hurt to try to make the ramp up a little easier on them. If you make it too hard on new people, that can start a slow death of a forum. So to my mind, this isn't just some favor to them. It is about health of the site overall.
posted by Michele in California at 1:34 PM on September 1, 2015 [20 favorites]


mefi is just a certain way and some people (myself included) find it stilted and, well, vaguely unpleasant and fake. but that's just how it is. and it seems to be something that most people here are quite ok with. it's not that the people are fake or unpleasant. quite the opposite - the mods are some of the nicest people i've met on the net - but rather there's a culture that arises from the site. and it's clearly something that is completely ok with most people.

it's something to do with a a set of values and a way of communicating that i simply don't share the way other people here do. i visit reddit and, despite the unpleasantness, feel much more at home. here there's a "way of talking" that doesn't come easily. if i want to say certain things i have to dress them up - virtually hide them - so that they are acceptable.


For myself, I find Reddit to be too many drive-by comments and off-the-cuff jokes. Maybe I'm visiting the wrong subreddits, but MetaFilter seems like a rare example of a site where in-depth discussions are the norm, not the outlier. I like this format, but then again, I generally write full sentences when sending texts, though maybe I'm simply behind the times. (Similarly, I like more nuanced posts with additional material, which doesn't appear to be possible on Reddit unless you tack it on as the first comment [like the earlier MetaFilter formatting], and that can get lost in upvotes and whatnot.)
posted by filthy light thief at 1:45 PM on September 1, 2015 [13 favorites]


I am not married to any of these ideas.

But congratulations on the proposals!!!
posted by Kabanos at 1:47 PM on September 1, 2015 [17 favorites]


Hrm. Honestly, I think that the best thing for teaching me that having comments deleted/contacting the mods/having a MeTa not go so well was.... sitting in on conversations where members I had gotten to know and respect talked about experiencing that and also talked about it as no big deal. An initial FAQ would have gotten ignored. Actually, I think I still haven't read all the FAQ stuff in depth; I've always learned much more via lurking than anything else.

And I don't think that can be taught, except via hanging around and lurking in the community or reading MetaTalk for a while. The "Too Many Posts on Rape?" MeTa was invaluable to me for affirming that the mods really do welcome those comments and getting a feel for how the community feels about moderation in a way that a FAQ or a rules list or an email absolutely would not have been. It was personal and paid attention to me--unlike, say, an automated email. I think emailing users every time a comment gets deleted would be a hell of a lot extra emotional labor on the mods than just deleting comments. I have no idea how to encourage that for other people, though.
posted by sciatrix at 1:55 PM on September 1, 2015 [5 favorites]


I lurked for years before buying an account. And I'm not a heavy contributor now, so maybe I'm not a good bellwether. But when I look back at the couple times that I gotten the mod smackdown, I totally agree with the reasons for it, even though I was upset at the time.

What I'm saying is that I think the best way that people learn about the culture here is by the culture here. I run a community elsewhere and I can tell you that no matter what we do, no matter how much we yell it, we get people who do not read the guidelines when they sign up. And then become irate when we ask them to conform to the guidelines.

I think there will always be a minority of new members that join, stomp all over the place, get upset when they are told they are treading on member's feet, then leave in a huff.

If you want to try to minimize that, okay. But I'm not convinced that those are people who would ever have been a long term benefit.
posted by lumpenprole at 2:00 PM on September 1, 2015 [5 favorites]


I think these are really good suggestions. I think the community can also do with some more self reflection with how they participate in MeTa threads. If you take a look at the level of engagement in the MeTa threads that you're referring to, I think there's an unsavory level of glee in piling on to people who post them. I understand that we all value the moderation strategy here and want to defend it, but that impulse alone doesn't explain the volume that these threads blow up into.

You might think that these particular posters would never have been able to successfully integrate into the community, but they're not the only people who are reading these threads.
posted by zixyer at 2:00 PM on September 1, 2015 [5 favorites]


As someone who is a relatively new participant after eons of lurking, I have a couple thoughts. I totally, totally agree that mods sending out a note about a deletion with an explanation and an invitation for follow-up is a great idea, perhaps with links to guidelines in the FAQ if necessary. Part of the reason this is such a great idea is that the "community feedback" route can be incredibly alienating! Because we're here, we already know the traditions and best practices and when some noob waltzes in with a six-pack of grar, the wiseacre farm can't help but unleash both barrels of sass and opprobrium. But the mods are such wonderful, sweet people and are great at communicating about what might be causing issues and difficulties. Generally I think our biggest success here would be having more communication with the mods to confused members and less direct input from our excellent but acerbic userbase.

One common critique you hear by these aggrieved new users is that Metafilter is a liberal echo chamber or whatever the fuck. I'll say upfront I don't agree with that at all--if I made a civilized, on-topic comment critiquing or decrying Bernie Sanders without attacking another user, I have no doubt that comment would stay. I think the reason that we're perceived as uber-liberals is that we go out of our way to make the community a safe space for women, queers and POC, and some people see that as a political decision instead of a basic issue of respect for our diverse userbase. Perhaps we should own that and telegraph it more aggressively so people have a better idea of what they're getting into.
posted by zeusianfog at 2:03 PM on September 1, 2015 [59 favorites]


Yeah, I've found that personally reaching out to people who have issues fitting in here works out better than further ostracizing them with a big pile-on. Sometimes that means even if the person seems kind of like an asshole, it's hard to judge who people really are when they are in a defensive/offensive social frenzy. Taking down the volume a bit and trying to make a connection can really help. That's an individual effort thing though, not something that could be site policy.
posted by Drinky Die at 2:04 PM on September 1, 2015 [6 favorites]


Also, if anybody knows of community orientation pages that do this kind of thing well, I'd be interested to see them.

On that theme, Autostraddle's comment policy.

Do new users get a welcome message via MeMail? I joined before MeMail got started, so I don't know, but I think it's not a bad idea. There's no shortcut to absorbing the local culture, and I agree with those who have said that some people will not be reached, and that others will ignore the offer of orientation--but at least the mods will be able to say that they have made the effort, via a welcome note, to make this information more visible.

Likewise, a generic MeMail notification for post deletion, with a link to the deleted post and encouragement to contact the mods for clarification. That reaching out is an act of giving the benefit of the doubt and an opportunity to settle things quietly.

Yet--as with ask vs. guess culture... if you're willing to go to the effort of hashing out a deletion with mods, and then of crafting a MeTa to publicly air your grievances, you should not be surprised by getting feedback you're not happy with. Some folks are just not going to be able to step back and consider whether a MeTa is a good idea, even after gentle explanations: they want to be heard. All right, they're heard. But then, THEN, surprise upon receiving dozens and dozens of variations on "DUDE, not a good idea/not great behavior and here's why"--? and doubling down? This does not inspire confidence in their ability to learn, change, and read the room. That's a behavior problem, and it isn't the mods' fault.

I don't relish shitshows. I hope that MeTa posters who are upset can learn and understand and reflect on their behavior. It may be that the best time to do that is after the heat of anger has passed a little bit. Would a 24-hour delay in posting this type of MeTa help?
posted by MonkeyToes at 2:06 PM on September 1, 2015 [4 favorites]


Do new users get a welcome message via MeMail?

Yes, they get a welcome message both via email and MeFi Mail. The email has links the to the FAQ and the Contact form with a "...you can always contact a site administrator directly with any questions." The MeFi Mail is more of an introduction to how MeFi Mail works and some of the preferences you can turn on and off related to it.
posted by pb (staff) at 2:21 PM on September 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


what would have been helpful in terms of helping you to understand the culture/moderation/etc here?

Getting my ass handed to me in Metatalk several times and subsequent email conversations with cortex and jessamyn were the most helpful ways I learned about site dynamics and etiquette.

I do not think everyone needs to go through that. And there's probably value in telling people, "You ain't Spartacus." However, once a member has passed through a 'rational' phase into over-the-top comparisons of mods to Nazis, Stormfront, etc., the ship has pretty much sailed on getting them to listen to reason until they calm down.

Maybe a stock text that can be copy pasted into metatalk posts that explains deletions aren't personal, no one is being silenced and attacking the mods is a recipe for disaster would be a good thing to have on hand.
posted by zarq at 2:33 PM on September 1, 2015 [8 favorites]


But new people still show up who don't understand the deletion policy, conclude the mods are out to get them

I have to say, I think for a lot of new users there can be or is a great distance between "don't understand the deletion policy" and "conclude the mods are out to get them." I'm not particularly in favor making a big change in the structure or even the culture here in order to accommodate people willing to leap to such conclusions so quickly.

And while I understand the impetus behind the idea of making this MeTa, the poster of the previous MeTa that kind of spawned this one had, to my eyes, a fairly idiosyncratic approach to the site - they read for years and never clicked a "more inside"? Never wondered what would happen when they clicked on a title or any of the other obviously clickable things on the very front page of MetaFilter? Never wondered exactly what the (clearly clickable) "256 comments" were? So IMO if we take their complaints about the site too seriously, we're wandering into "edge cases make bad law" territory.

*shrug* I dunno - I think it was only a couple of months between when I discovered MetaFilter and when I ponied up 5 smackers, and that was only a few years ago (late 2011, for the record). I don't feel like I've had any trouble grokking how this place works or fitting in, and I've certainly seen people who joined after me become interesting and valuable members. OTOH, I did spend a lot of time before I joined and in the early period doing a lot of poking around at random, and reading old threads (on all the subsites) - because I was curious about what the heck was going on on this oddball website. I'm not at all sure that people lacking that sort of curiosity, or people who just have a tendency to assume that things will work the way they want them to work, will necessarily get much benefit from a higher level of mod hand-holding or a more obvious or simplified FAQ or a policy of not letting them post fighty MetaTalks.
posted by soundguy99 at 2:48 PM on September 1, 2015 [16 favorites]


I'm stapling a rider to this to stop In Soviet Russia jokes.
posted by griphus at 2:23 PM on September 1 [13 favorites +] [!]


I object to that amendment. Until Yakov Smirnoff stops performing at the Yakov Smirnoff Theatre in Branson, MO, Soviet Russia jokes are fair game.
posted by Area Man at 2:57 PM on September 1, 2015 [3 favorites]


If Yakov Smirnoff wants to sign up to make In Soviet Russia jokes I will welcome him with open arms. It's the rest of you yutzes I object to.
posted by griphus at 3:01 PM on September 1, 2015 [37 favorites]


Speaking for myself, I found the FAQ extremely useful in understanding the site. There are also reminders everywhere that using the contact form is okay. I find Metafilter much more inviting than any other comparable site on the internet, and I'm somebody who struggles with instructions frequently in real life.

One thing I would change (more of a site-culture thing than a policy thing): I wish people wouldn't pile on when it seems like there's something "off" about a poster. The last MeTa mess attracted a lot of attention because the poster was being very confrontational and mean, and the mods were incredibly patient in their responses, especially restless_nomad. But some of the harsher responses made me uncomfortable, because I wondered if there was some cognitive issue or cultural barrier going on with the poster (people kept picking apart their word use), in addition to their general belligerence. I don't think their behavior was acceptable under any circumstances, but I also wouldn't assume somebody is a clever troll when you don't know anything about their abilities in real life.
posted by thetortoise at 3:08 PM on September 1, 2015 [16 favorites]


About the MeTa queue -- it's tough, especially with postings about moderator decisions or suspicions of moderator motives, we feel a stronger importance to those posts being allowed than any other kind of post. That's exactly what MetaTalk is for. There are circumstances where we would email the person first before putting such a post through, but this wasn't really one of them.

I get that it's a tricky needle to thread when a person's already getting fighty about deletions, but I really hope that the Meta from a few days ago leads to some recalibration on this. If a Meta based on that degree of transparent bad faith is not a circumstance that calls for emailing the poster first, then I really don't know what purpose the queue serves. It seems like that creates an easy loophole for people who don't mind playing dirty, while creating an extra hurdle for people who are actually trying to participate on the community's terms.
posted by kagredon at 3:19 PM on September 1, 2015 [5 favorites]


I remember signing up, and I'd lurked for a while, and I'd read the faq and the wiki long before posting anything, and at some point I read at least a few metatalk posts so I had a sense of things from that as well. With any online participation (commenting in forums, editing wikipedia, whatever), it seems like a good idea to make sure you've watched how things are done before jumping in, in the same way that you try to learn about the local culture before travelling to a new place. Not that you'll never fuck up or that you can know everything before you jump in, but it means you're making a good-faith effort, and that makes up for the mistakes and misunderstandings.

I agree that part of the problem in this recent case really was that the person had technically lurked for a long time, but I just have no idea how they thought that they understood the site culture without having read comments. And the issue wasn't even primarily with them not understanding site culture before posting a question - it's that they were subsequently flat-out incapable of understanding the statement 'your question was not a question, it was a discussion-starter and that's not what ask is for'. Trying to get them to understand that was like the Cookie Monster in the library sketch. They don't know the difference between what they know and what they don't know, they incorrectly assessed their understanding, and they were unreachable by clear attempts at communication in the English language. This is vastly different than someone posting a meta asking 'what the hell am I doing wrong here, I would like to stop doing the wrong thing and my attempts so far have failed', using non-violent communication language and genuinely listening and asking clarifying questions, by someone who was clear about what their challenges were and sincere in their desire to overcome them. Also different than someone getting too emotionally involved in a discussion and needing time to cool off or understand that a deletion wasn't personal/mods are trying to help, etc.

I guess I'm wondering how big a problem this is, really. Like - how many new members sign up and manage to post comments, questions, or FPPs without a Meta-inducing incident?

On preview - soundguy99 puts it really well, and yeah, I was curious about the site before joining, and curiosity led me to poke around and read old threads and click on all the subsites and the faq and the about and all. If someone sees the site as a bunch of posters bloviating from a podium and concludes that it's a good venue to talk about their ideas and get feedback - without having any previous interest in reading the fucking comments? Thou shalt not attend an open mic and leave as soon as you've done your shitty little poem or song you self-righteous prick.

Also I have been wondering where Yakov Smirnoff had disappeared to. Thanks.
posted by you must supply a verb at 3:28 PM on September 1, 2015 [7 favorites]


unsavory level of glee Great band name.

But in this thread, I would be really interested to hear -- for people who remember being a new member (especially in the last couple years): what would have been helpful in terms of helping you to understand the culture/moderation/etc here?

When I was new and still had my caul, an answer of mine got deleted and everybody on that thread was puzzled and the OP posted a Meta about disappearing comments. There was memail flying about the site being broken. OP was criticized by a mod about criticizing the modding here when all of us just wanted to know what was going on. Nobody realized they were being modded. I think sometimes that happens.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 3:33 PM on September 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


I get that it's a tricky needle to thread when a person's already getting fighty about deletions, but I really hope that the Meta from a few days ago leads to some recalibration on this. If a Meta based on that degree of transparent bad faith is not a circumstance that calls for emailing the poster first, then I really don't know what purpose the queue serves. It seems like that creates an easy loophole for people who don't mind playing dirty, while creating an extra hurdle for people who are actually trying to participate on the community's terms.

Yeah, this is how I feel. What is the queue for, if not for avoiding blatantly terrible metatalks like the one at issue here?
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 3:48 PM on September 1, 2015 [7 favorites]


One common critique you hear by these aggrieved new users is that Metafilter is a liberal echo chamber or whatever the fuck.

This is not something that generally comes up with new members; it's usually a long-standing member who complains that moderation is out of control. knowgood is quite unusual in their particular approach to the MeTa that (I assume) inspired this MeTa.

I would be OK with disallowing "why was this deleted" MeTas because they don't go well ever. I understand that they serve a vague purpose of showing transparency, but they are always exhausting and pretty much never serve the purpose that their posters desire. If anything, they tend to draw attention to the poster's bad behavior and lead to a lot of snark.

A couple of thoughts:

1) I'm cautiously behind the idea of sending notices for deleted posts (not comments) to alert the poster of the deletion.

2) I think any "why was this deleted" posts in the MeTa queue should be checked before posting -- their should be a mode-poster back and forth where the mods say "this MeTa is likely to go this way; do you still want to proceed?" That way the poster is warned what they are in for. No one should go into a MeTa like that with any illusions that they are going to get "redress;" it's almost certainly not going to happen.

3) It might be worth posting "pre-closed" MeTas on deletions -- ie, the poster says "why was this deleted,"the mod replies "this is the reason (with any elaboration), maybe the poster and mod get a rebuttal each and then the thread is closed. That way the transparency is maintained, the poster has a chance to air their concern, and drive-by snark and rubbernecking are eliminated. Also, the "backdoor discussion" of deleted posts would cease to be a problem.

4) I don't think any of this would have helped with knowgood; trying to develop policies out of an anomalous situation is not good practice, but here we are.
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:51 PM on September 1, 2015 [12 favorites]


in soviet union, post deletes you.
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 3:51 PM on September 1, 2015 [6 favorites]


I'm not entirely convinced this is a problem that needs solving, but if I were to suggest something, it would be a small programmatic addition (something I generally have militated against in the past in favor of social solutions, but I think new problems of scale introduce new necessities).

I'd suggest that when someone loads up the New Post page, a quick check against the db be done to see if their post count is zero for that subsite thus far. If so, then either inline or as a dismissable modal (which annoys, perhaps, but guarantees it will be seen), a friendly 'Hey, it looks like you're making your first post to (subsite). Here's some info you might want to know....' with a rundown of posting norms and expectations for that subsite (which vary, somewhat), and a general 'don't feel bad if your post gets deleted because it happens and here's what to do if you're discombobulated etc' blurb. It could even include a 'Don't show me this ever again' tickbox and appear for the first N times a user starts composing a post until ticked. Or you know, just the once.

Fairly small cost in terms of coding and copywriting -- the question I guess is whether it would be worth it for the more gentle getting of new posters up to speed.

Comments, well, that's another separate kettle of fish, as they say. Or do they say that? I suddenly feel like maybe they don't. Ah, mornings.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:04 PM on September 1, 2015 [12 favorites]


I agree that MeTa is an important outlet for these kinds of grievances, but why does it have to be the first option? What if the rule was you had to contact a mod first about deletions, and if you weren't satisfied then you could post a MeTa. Deletion MeTas in the queue will be held until a mod discussion happens. Considering MeFi's transparency I don't think it's too much to ask of the posters, and it doesn't seem to happen so often that it will be a burden to mods. (I don't mean the mods should have epic MeTa-length discussions!) In cases with larger implications (say about I/P deletions) the mods will probably even encourage a MeTa. To be clear, I'm not suggesting the mods decide which complaints are unresolved enough to post a MeTa; anyone could still post one, they just need to talk to a mod first.

If you want to sue someone in small clams court you don't just barge into a courtroom waving papers and pointing fingers, first you have to send the other party a demand letter, allowing the parties to resolve the issue themselves without wasting the court's time. Same idea.

I like that the deletion reasons are personalized but they may not be specific enough for new users. If the wiki had an updated deletions that went into specifics then a mod note could also include a link to the wiki.

TWOP was known for its (even stricter) forum policies so I poked around and found this condensed Dos and Don'ts list; the welcome letter could have something like that instead of a single link to the wiki (SLMW!)
posted by Room 641-A at 4:04 PM on September 1, 2015 [6 favorites]


Two random suggestions:
  • Three-month reviews: Three months after a user joins the site, send them a memail asking how it’s going.
  • Exit interviews: (Maybe we do these?) If someone buttons, or if someone just straight up disappears from the site for a few months, send them an email asking how it’s going and why they left.
posted by Going To Maine at 4:05 PM on September 1, 2015 [5 favorites]


I thought the point of the queue was primarily to make sure that there was adequate moderator coverage for Metatalk posts. The "perma-queue" post does mention preventing trainwrecks as something that will happen a tiny minority of the time but I would get really leery if that meant deleting criticisms of moderation, even though I am generally in "the moderators do no wrong" camp.

I don't really like the idea of censoring or limiting discussion on Metatalk posts because they sometimes go bad. Pile-ons are kind of a function of the membership of this site. Most of us are opinionated and like to share that opinion. I think attempts to prevent pile-ons will cause more problems than they solve. I think the onus is on individual users to exercise self-control in these situations. Maybe one low-cost way to encourage that would be for mods to make a note at the top of potentially-inflammatory threads for posters to consider if their comment is truly a novel contribution, even if the OP didn't exercise that same care.
posted by muddgirl at 4:08 PM on September 1, 2015 [9 favorites]


Before you button there's an opportunity to send the mods a note.
posted by Room 641-A at 4:08 PM on September 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


i always feel like i have to get reacquainted with the ecosystem here from time to time. it has never just magically always been the same, and it will always be complicated, but it is full of literate, snarky, amazing people that sometimes forget to breathe. A slight hint to new posters to think before posting (as has been suggested) sounds like a good idea.

joining up now is kind of like getting invited to a wedding, and meeting a couple of tens of thousands of new relatives. you will have a different experience depending on which table you sit at, which conversations you get involved with. its hard to have a FAQ which would prepare you for something like that...but it is there.
posted by th3ph17 at 4:20 PM on September 1, 2015 [3 favorites]


> 2) I think any "why was this deleted" posts in the MeTa queue should be checked before posting -- their should be a mode-poster back and forth where the mods say "this MeTa is likely to go this way; do you still want to proceed?" That way the poster is warned what they are in for. No one should go into a MeTa like that with any illusions that they are going to get "redress;" it's almost certainly not going to happen.

I know this is extra work for the mods, but I think this is also probably what I would do in their shoes. I guess I'd also probably cut off threads like the recent one sooner. I appreciate that there's a willingness to give people a hearing, and I wouldn't say there's never a reason to let a "why was this deleted" roll for a while - it's not like every deletion decision is perfect, and maybe this is a useful part of the overall feedback loop, and maybe sometimes people sort of get "ok, so this happens a lot and I should probably stop freaking out" - but I also don't think that many-hundred-comments-long grar-piles are a great or particularly community-improving feature of MeTa.
posted by brennen at 4:23 PM on September 1, 2015 [4 favorites]


joining up now is kind of like getting invited to a wedding

yeah. there is also a weird obsession with weddings here (esp askme). what the fuck is that about?
posted by andrewcooke at 4:23 PM on September 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


I did a Meta on those sorts of concerns, muddgirl. Might find it interesting. I think the mods have done a decent job of allowing critical or difficult topics through, but it is worth keeping an eye on just to be sure.
posted by Drinky Die at 4:24 PM on September 1, 2015


yeah. there is also a weird obsession with weddings here (esp askme). what the fuck is that about?

I dunno. I got invited to [pause for counting] like 7 weddings this year? Getting married seems to be a thing the species does a lot.
posted by brennen at 4:27 PM on September 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


A good UI principle is to give people info when they need it the most. Deletions presumably cause the most stress, but reading about them when you join the site, or even when you make a post, won't make much of an impact. Rather, it should come when the deletion happens.

I don't know what the mod tools look like, but perhaps they could flag when someone gets their first deleted post, and generate an automatic reply? Maybe the next deletions too, until they get a post accepted.
posted by zompist at 4:31 PM on September 1, 2015 [5 favorites]


sorry to bang on a point, but no. getting married is something a certain class of people does a lot. and spending a lot of money on weddings and obsessing over their social status constrains that set somewhat.

from my pov you could say that the issue with mefi is that that group thinks it's universal, apart from other minorities they take pity on.
posted by andrewcooke at 4:37 PM on September 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


Dude can you just submit your own meta instead of dropping coy derails wherever you go
posted by kagredon at 4:40 PM on September 1, 2015 [55 favorites]


Andrewcooke, this may well be true and could be an insightful critique elsewhere. What, exactly, does it have to do with making this site more user-friendly for newbies? I can assure you MF is not about to ban all discussion of weddings.
posted by zeusianfog at 4:40 PM on September 1, 2015 [10 favorites]


the poster of the previous MeTa that kind of spawned this one had, to my eyes, a fairly idiosyncratic approach to the site - they read for years and never clicked a "more inside"? Never wondered what would happen when they clicked on a title or any of the other obviously clickable things on the very front page of MetaFilter? Never wondered exactly what the (clearly clickable) "256 comments" were?

Where does this come from?
posted by grouse at 4:40 PM on September 1, 2015


- I don't see any problem with establishing an automatic email (memail) to community members when their post is deleted, alerting them and making it easier for them to discover this. It also can assuage any disappointment (to a degree) and suggest talking to the mods if there is a quibble about it being deleted.

- Similarly, the welcome message could be more explicit; instead of having people click a link to read something, have a few short bullet points right there in the welcome email, so that it's right there, right in front of their eyes. Don't make new members click to read the important stuff! (Also I'm glad to hear updating the FAQ is on the list of things-to-do.)

The two points above are in service of the underlying belief that more communication is better, even repeating information and spoon-feeding new users is better.

Lastly, I think there's an issue that's rather tricky to manage or introduce a policy on, or mod: do we wish to continue being a site where there are scathing comments in MetaTalk? Do we want the "well you got your comeuppance from the community" thing to continue?

I don't know, as I feel ambivalent about the issue myself.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 4:41 PM on September 1, 2015


err. i thought it was obvious? most newbs are ok, right? it's just some that feel isolated. because they don't belong to your social group?

sorry if i'm barking up totally the wrong tree,
posted by andrewcooke at 4:41 PM on September 1, 2015


Three-month reviews:

Honestly, I really did need all those sick days.
posted by octobersurprise at 4:42 PM on September 1, 2015 [7 favorites]


(I also love stavrosthewonderchicken's suggestion of a special message for new posters,with an optional box to tick that says "don't show again".)
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 4:43 PM on September 1, 2015 [3 favorites]


OK, as a queer person who is sympathetic to critiques of the marriage industrial complex, I see where you're coming from. I'm also critical of, say, the prison industrial complex. That does not mean we should delete an Ask from someone considering becoming a correctional officer or trying to navigate a tricky situation at their job. If there was an AskMe about "How can I go about joining the local chapter of the KKK," then, sure, send that shit straight to hell. But do you see how those examples are different?
posted by zeusianfog at 4:44 PM on September 1, 2015


are you talking to me? the treatment of marriage here isn't "universal". it's peculiarly north-american (middle class white north american, is my guess).

as i said earlier, people here either assuming people are like them or some "pitied", "exceptional" minority. it seems to blow your mind that something "normal but different" can exist.

anyway, this is getting nasty. i'm out of here.
posted by andrewcooke at 4:55 PM on September 1, 2015 [3 favorites]


If it helps, this white guy got married by a judge and my ring is made if Tungsten.

Welcome back, Mr. Cooke.
;)
posted by clavdivs at 5:21 PM on September 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


Lastly, I think there's an issue that's rather tricky to manage or introduce a policy on, or mod: do we wish to continue being a site where there are scathing comments in MetaTalk? Do we want the "well you got your comeuppance from the community" thing to continue?

I'm not sure if this would work at all; I, for one, would rather have scathingly blunt replies rather than poisonously polite ones. Of course, I'd like sensible measured ones best of all, but there are limits to dreams.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:48 PM on September 1, 2015 [6 favorites]


I really like the better eduction approach that Michele suggests, but in my view it's important that mods don't delete MeTas except under the most grievous circumstances. It's a vital counterpart to the approaches used in askmefi and mefi to have a (nearly) free-fire zone in MetaTalk.
posted by Sebmojo at 5:54 PM on September 1, 2015 [4 favorites]


Maybe have 'why was this deleted' posts be subject to an email 'are you sure' chat first? But if someone really wants to MeTa, even where the 'consensus' might be that it will go badly, they should be able to.
posted by Sebmojo at 5:57 PM on September 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


> 2) I think any "why was this deleted" posts in the MeTa queue should be checked before posting -- their should be a mode-poster back and forth where the mods say "this MeTa is likely to go this way; do you still want to proceed?" That way the poster is warned what they are in for. No one should go into a MeTa like that with any illusions that they are going to get "redress;" it's almost certainly not going to happen.

My problem with this is that if someone has reached the point where they're taking as given that the mods are obviously biased against them, anything the mods do/say subsequently will be read in that light. Warn me off of my MeTa? Ha! Of course you'd say that: you're just scared that I'm going to expose you as the terrible, biased people you really are. The thread you warned me would go badly does in fact go badly? Well of course it went badly: you obviously made it go badly, somehow, because you hate me.

It might be more useful to say: this isn't going to go well, you will almost certainly not receive redress for whatever it is you think has been done to you, but unless [reasons why they might be banned], you won't be banned over this, it won't affect your ability to produce new posts, and your new posts won't be deleted provided that they follow the guidelines laid out in the FAQ. I.e., have part of the warning take for granted that they're going to stick around after the MeTa happens, and manage expectations for the post-MeTa period, rather than trying to convince them that making the MeTa is a bad idea.

This is all assuming that the SAML types can become "good" site members in the future. I imagine that it's happened before, but does it happen often enough to justify the extra mod effort? Is it wholly unreasonable to expect people to act like grown-ups from the beginning?
posted by Spathe Cadet at 5:57 PM on September 1, 2015 [9 favorites]


I think there's an aspect of sadism in the really harsh Metatalks, and there hasn't been one of those in a long while, which is why this most recent one was kind of a wake-up call.

I agree that it's part of site culture but surely that's a malleable thing. OTOH I love a good 'hey let's question authority' thread as well so I'm kind of on the fence. Also it strikes me as a healthy thing to let metatalks through that are directly questioning site mods' actions and we've had one just recently from a daily poster doing just that.

[The dirty secret, for me, is that I love reading well-written takedowns, especially if there's some writerly aspect to it.]
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 5:59 PM on September 1, 2015 [7 favorites]


The mods have made it clear that they reserve the right to request delays or modifications to a submitted Metatalk post before letting it go public. That's been the case for as long as there's been a permanent queue.
posted by kagredon at 6:02 PM on September 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


Also: there's this idea that MetaTalk functions as a release valve for users, and that this is a healthy thing. I'm not so sure, as sometimes if the Metas turn nasty _and_ prolonged, they just exhibit a gang mentality that's seems cruel.

I appreciate Michele in California asking for the most recent thread to be closed, which I think prompted the mod to do so - and also this meta.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 6:02 PM on September 1, 2015 [14 favorites]


(Sorry, the mod was LobsterMitten - didn't mean to be coy.)
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 6:06 PM on September 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


I think the email to new users having questions deleted should go a short-paragraph-further than "Here's the FAQ." Think:
"This is an example of what people on Metafilter call chatfilter. It's an attempt to start a conversation rather than ask a question that has a right/actionable answer. Spotting chatfilter AskMe questions and learning how to avoid them is something you'll get good at as you spend more time on Metafilter. In the meantime here are some examples of other questions deleted for being chatfilter, so you can get a sense of what we mean:

Link: This is chatfilter because...

Link: This is chatfilter because...

Link: This is chatfilter because...

Those posts were actually from some longtime users, so obviously even experienced mefites sometimes forget the scope of AskMe. Here are some questions that might have seemed like chatfilter questions if the poster hadn't clarified, but the clarification shows why they aren't:

Link: See, this user is writing a novel, so there actually is a best answer possible, the one that could/does go in the novel.

Link: This might have looked like the person was just randomly wondering what people think, but actually the person was trying to figure out how to handle a tricky ethical situation around their wedding.

I hope this helps make things clear. If you have any questions, click here to contact us. If you think your question wasn't actually chatfilter, drop us a line and explain and maybe we can help you rewrite it so you can post it next week."

Obviously I don't expect the mods to write a novella everytime they delete a post, but I bet there are just 3-5 basic archetypes of stuff that gets deleted, so I was thinking there could be essentially a form letter for each that the mods send out.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 6:08 PM on September 1, 2015 [4 favorites]


> Where does this come from?

I take it as a reference to the recent MeTa by knowgood, in which she acknowledged:
"Read Metafilter for years without account, mostly not reading comments, never realizing high degree of moderation, never exploring other parts of site."
posted by gingerbeer at 6:20 PM on September 1, 2015 [3 favorites]


> INFJ - when you make a post you get a MeMail with a link to the post in it, so you can just click that to see the deletion reason.

I don't. Or if I do, I don’t know about it, and that’s a bigger problem.


Wait, you don't get a mefi mail (NOT an email) with a link to your post that says (this is a copy from my most recent gone-live memail:

From : cortex
Date : Aug 14, 2015 12:43 AM
Subject : Your Post: Good neighbors keep your pigeon population down
Message :
Your post has been added to MetaFilter. Here are the details:

Good neighbors keep your pigeon population down
http://www.metafilter.com/152103/Good-neighbors-keep-your-pigeon-population-down

You can use the link to access your post even if it's deleted.

Please contact us with any problems:

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-----

Because I think that "your post has gone live" memail contains a whole lot of helpful information!
posted by rtha at 6:21 PM on September 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


For the love of all that is holy can the first item in this welcome email and possibly on the FAQ be: "DON'T BE AN ASSHOLE."

Really, that is just rule #1 for me on this site. It's not really that difficult a rule to follow.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 6:38 PM on September 1, 2015 [6 favorites]


A notification on first post (per stav) and on first delete seems like a good idea to me.

It could be very helpful to first-time posters (to MeFi and AskMe, and most especially to MeTa) to be specifically informed of conventions, rules, and what to expect because you really can't count on people reading the FAQ or paying close enough attention to what other people have done.

With regard to deletes, I think there's a similar problem in that maybe we'd like people to have read the FAQ and to know that deletes aren't personal, they're not strikes against you, and that the deleted post can still be found at its URL ... but people mostly don't already know that before posting. The mods have said that they do sometimes memail people, but I think an automatic notification with explanation of this stuff for the first deletion could help. That it's automated might be a bonus, per what Spathe Cadet wrote.

I also agree with the argument that maybe this isn't actually a huge problem and doesn't happen that often. On the other hand, although relatively infrequent (and although it won't solve the problems associated with the members who just want to fight), it may be the case that it has subtle, long-term effects on the site. Lately I've been thinking that the site needs to be more explicitly, regularly, and perhaps formally welcoming to new members. Easing the difficulty and ambiguity about first posts and first deletions might be an important aspect of this.

"Lastly, I think there's an issue that's rather tricky to manage or introduce a policy on, or mod: do we wish to continue being a site where there are scathing comments in MetaTalk? Do we want the 'well you got your comeuppance from the community' thing to continue?"

I find that I react with considerable unease to any and all suggestions and trends that limit discussion and transparency on MetaTalk. I find all the suggestions about more utilizing of the queue above to be quite good suggestions ... but they make me uneasy. Likewise, all the movement away from the MeTa free-for-all makes me uncomfortable. My essential fear about this is crossing that indistinct barrier where we end up being a place where it's stifling, where the stronger impression is of what isn't talked about, isn't allowed explicitly or implicitly, rather than what is.

But we've been moving away from the free-for-all for a while and I've even been someone who has advocated for this, despite my unease. For me, it's a balance, a trade-off. Clearly, there are already people who think we've crossed into that stifling area I just mentioned. But there have always been people who think this -- it's not so much that a few people do, it's whether it reaches a point where most of us do. I think we need to avoid that. But I also think we're not that close to that point yet.

So, all that said, my answer to your question is that I think that these nasty, pile-on MetaTalk threads have never, ever been good for MetaFilter -- even the more mild versions we have these days. They almost always function as part of establishing norms and rules and expectations, but I think that the price we have always paid for this is much too high. That includes people flaming-out or being run off who would otherwise have maybe later integrated happily into the community, but my bigger concern is that I just feel that it's harmful to the community. We usually see less attractive versions of each other in those threads and just the whole thing of slapping someone down is just unhealthy, even when it's deserved. There's got to be a better way to handle these sorts of issues.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 6:40 PM on September 1, 2015 [9 favorites]


I have a Tungsten ring too!

Tungsten: Puts the W in Wedding
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 6:42 PM on September 1, 2015 [10 favorites]


I feel that the problem is the community and not the moderation, or new members not understanding the culture.

It's like blood lust in those threads. People make comment after comment, get jokey and clever and it really doesn't help the OP. It becomes about the commenters and not about resolving an issue. The ones I have read reveal that the poster has obvious social problems and they get kicked over and over again in the same spot.

I think that responders to these posts should be the ones limited. Everyone gets to say what they want to say once. No redo's for anybody. Thread ends quickly due to limits on the community. You want to talk more with each other do it through memail.

Of course that limits discourse but no real discourse is going on anyway.

It has become a ritual that should be done away with by the community members not the organizers.
posted by cairnoflore at 6:47 PM on September 1, 2015 [17 favorites]


I agree that it is at least partly about posters not understanding or being aware of the culture. I also think it is partly due to some pronounced biases that exist in the community that some members are so steeped in that they don't even realize they exist. Sort of like a KKK member who doesn't realize that some of the less extreme ideas he has aren't as widely or universally held as he believes. Try making a comment on Metafilter that doesn't tow the pro-feminist, gay marriage or universal healthcare line for example. I'm not talking about outright anti comments regarding those subjects just the kind of comment someone who is 100% convinced regarding the pro stance - you have a decent chance of getting a reaction that a decent percentage of relative!y decent people out in the non-mefi world might see as extreme or even unhinged. (I seriously have second thoughts about posting this comment out of a minor fear at the reaction. For the record I'm all in favor of gay marriage, equal rights all around and am not opposed to a well structure version of universal healthcare.)
posted by Carbolic at 7:10 PM on September 1, 2015 [7 favorites]


It's like blood lust in those threads
No its not it's more like puppy fights and then someone gets bitten in the arse and squeaks and goes and hides.
If you were here 10 years ago you would have seen blood running down your screen.
The particular thread that bought this meta on was an excellent piece of dysfunctional trolling and so out side the norm that energy shouldn't be wasted trying to see that it doesn't happen again.
How much more Nanny state does metafilter have to become.?
Some one said it up above. Don't be an Arshole isn't that succint enough.
Every action has it's reaction and those that upset others will be told so by the community and / or the mods and if they persist given a timeout.
Having stated that; a memail about a deleted thread would probably help avert silenced all my life types from bringing more opprobrium down on their precious little heads.

andrewcooke you stick around ok, it is good to have an erudite contrarian around.
posted by adamvasco at 7:10 PM on September 1, 2015 [9 favorites]


>Where does this come from?

Just, y'know, for the record, gingerbeer nailed it above. (Thanks, gingerbeer - I was at band practice and hadn't checked the thread for a coupla hours.)
posted by soundguy99 at 7:12 PM on September 1, 2015


Try making a comment on Metafilter that doesn't tow the pro-feminist, gay marriage or universal healthcare line for example.

Your mistake is thinking that this is a 'line' that must be 'towed' or else...what? The things you cite are opinions that many MeFites hold, true. But they are not site opinions - the moderators do not require you to hold those opinions to be here, nor do they enforce them. Where is your line? Who is requiring you to toe it?

I seriously have second thoughts about posting this comment out of a minor fear at the reaction.

What are you afraid of, exactly? The absolute worst that can happen is someone can disagree with you. You can be completely anonymous here, if you want. There are no stakes, except perhaps getting your ego bruised by someone pointing out where you are wrong, or have misunderstood.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 7:37 PM on September 1, 2015 [8 favorites]


toe the line
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 7:40 PM on September 1, 2015 [35 favorites]


because I wondered if there was some cognitive issue or cultural barrier going on with the poster

There have been plenty of fighty MeTas, but the ones that really stand out in my memory are the ones where the person clearly had cognitive or mental health issues, and yet the moderators and users kept interacting as if the person was operating from the common playbook.

These are edge cases, but they can have an outsized impact on the site.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:41 PM on September 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


There have been plenty of fighty MeTas, but the ones that really stand out in my memory are the ones where the person clearly had cognitive or mental health issues, and yet the moderators and users kept interacting as if the person was operating from the common playbook.

Dip Flash - could you link to some of these?
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 7:42 PM on September 1, 2015


No. Please no. I don't want this to turn into an examination of whether or not someone truly has cognitive or mental health issues. We're way better than that.
posted by teponaztli at 7:44 PM on September 1, 2015 [17 favorites]


The way I understand, the queue is not a screening process, it's just for time-shifting the pile-on to when the mods are ready with full battle gear and/or cup of coffee.

Maybe the MeTa post page should, instead of forced preview, have a forced click through sequence of "Is this about a comment or post deletion? Yes/No"

If yes, then an info page starting with "Ok, so here's the thing about that...", attempting to steer them to the contact form first but ultimately asking if they REALLY want to post publicly.

If you really want to get complicated, have a self-expiring flag in the database set for a user who has a deletion, and only show the click-through for them.
posted by ctmf at 7:48 PM on September 1, 2015


Then it's kind of crappy to throw that kind of comment into the discussion in the first place.
posted by Lexica at 7:48 PM on September 1, 2015


toe the line

OMG my co-interviewer the other day kept telling candidates the training involved a fair amount of "rogue memorization" and I kept writing it down to say something after. Then I kept forgetting and/or deciding I'd just heard it wrong. Until one candidate actually said "what?" and she repeated very slowly and clearly, "Rogue. Memorization." Awkward.
posted by ctmf at 7:52 PM on September 1, 2015 [23 favorites]


I don't care what is was like here ten years ago. I care what it is like now. Being repeatedly unkind just because you can is awful.
posted by cairnoflore at 7:53 PM on September 1, 2015 [14 favorites]


No. Please no. I don't want this to turn into an examination of whether or not someone truly has cognitive or mental health issues. We're way better than that.

Yeah, sorry for bringing that up; I should have known it would be derail-y. I don't want to go around diagnosing fighty mefites or anything. What I should have said is that, as somebody with my own cognitive and mental health stuff going on, these pile-ons in MeTa sometimes have an element of punishment to them that makes me uncomfortable. I am generally not fighty and try to be kind but I don't like the spectacle of ridiculing someone who doesn't fit a norm. Take that or leave it as just another opinion of a user on the site, somebody who read the old Metafilter but didn't post there for years and years because of this and the boyzone vibe.
posted by thetortoise at 7:53 PM on September 1, 2015 [11 favorites]


I have pretty strong social anxiety, and seeing the way people can respond has made me refrain from posting MeTas even when I thought they'd be relevant. I felt gross reading the last thread, both because of the guy who posted it and the responses. I don't know if things should ever turn out that way. I mean, maybe it's just me who has a problem with seeing people get piled on, and maybe they do, in fact, totally deserve it.

I've been around since January, so I don't know if I'm still a "new" user, but there have been issues I wanted to raise that I didn't feel comfortable raising. I have my own issues, and the last thing I want is for that to be a footnote to an unpleasant conversation that I couldn't navigate, and then I'd get to be forever recognizable as "that guy." I would really like some kind of resource for understanding this site for new users, because I think we're talking about situations where the "learn by doing" approach clearly didn't work so great.
posted by teponaztli at 7:53 PM on September 1, 2015 [17 favorites]


these pile-ons in MeTa sometimes have an element of punishment to them that makes me uncomfortable

Yeah, on preview, I think we're really coming at this from the same angle.
posted by teponaztli at 7:55 PM on September 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


No. Please no. I don't want this to turn into an examination of whether or not someone truly has cognitive or mental health issues. We're way better than that.

Fair enough - I just was curious as to how whether someone had cognitive or mental issues could be obvious from mere text, when not explicitly stated.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 7:59 PM on September 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


Or you could just have the first few choices in the category box be Echo Chamber, Out of Control Moderation, and Censorship!!! as decoys that just redirected to the contact form.
posted by ctmf at 8:10 PM on September 1, 2015 [4 favorites]


Fair enough - I just was curious as to how whether someone had cognitive or mental issues could be obvious from mere text, when not explicitly stated.

Yeah, I'm sorry if that came across as harsh. I think a big part of what we're talking about here is that it can be so easy to misread someone, or momentarily get frustrated and type a message that can remain long after the sentiment is gone from your head.
posted by teponaztli at 8:12 PM on September 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


You know, I find these Whacking Day-style opportunities for all of MetaFilter to make common cause and join together in mocking the douchey OP of a douchey silenced-all-my-life MeTa to be rare and enjoyable enough that they should be celebrated like holidays, not discouraged.
posted by MoonOrb at 8:20 PM on September 1, 2015 [5 favorites]


Sorry to keep posting, but I don't know, I deleted my account a week or so ago and reactivated it (thanks taz, you're awesome), but I'm still not really that keen on sticking around. For real, sometimes I just get so sick of the snark and the one-upmanship, and I feel like maybe other people don't take it as seriously as others. That thread everyone's talking about just put me on edge, because it was like I was watching everyone find a valid target to just cut loose and fuck around with.

I don't know, sorry if this is a derail. This is one of those things I don't want to make a MeTa about because I don't know how it'll be received. Maybe it's just a sign that, ultimately, the site has a culture that doesn't work for everyone, and that it shouldn't be expected to work for everyone if it's got thousands of perfectly happy users. There are awesome things here, but whether it's a lack of education for new users or what, there are some things that don't click so great, and I don't know if they're that visible to everyone all the time.
posted by teponaztli at 8:20 PM on September 1, 2015 [7 favorites]


there is also a weird obsession with weddings here (esp askme). what the fuck is that about?

Metafilter's userbase is a specific demographic slice with relatively low turn over. This explains much of what happens here in terms of site culture.
posted by bonehead at 8:22 PM on September 1, 2015


But in this thread, I would be really interested to hear -- for people who remember being a new member (especially in the last couple years): what would have been helpful in terms of helping you to understand the culture/moderation/etc here?

I've had about half a dozen comments deleted over the years. Every single one of them resulted in a self-examination that made me a better metafilter participant and I think a few of them even made me a better person.
posted by 256 at 8:28 PM on September 1, 2015 [8 favorites]


The re-education camps were helpful, too.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:29 PM on September 1, 2015 [10 favorites]


That thread everyone's talking about just put me on edge, because it was like I was watching everyone find a valid target to just cut loose and fuck around with.

I share your disdain of that sort of behaviour and generally skip the bigger pile-on threads. Good news is, I've been a while now and it has certainly gotten better than it used it to be. I haven't been following too closely, but it seemed that of the people engaging with the poster, the balance tipped towards people trying to patiently explain than assume malice. It wouldn't have been like that 5 or 10 years ago, back when the snark flew freely and the range of acceptable targets were much broader.

Anyway, I do hope you stick around. I have quite a few issues around Social Anxiety myself, so it's good to know there are others similarly uncomfortable. It makes the internet a bit more bearable :P
posted by Freelance Demiurge at 8:51 PM on September 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


I've had about half a dozen comments deleted over the years. Every single one of them resulted in a self-examination that made me a better metafilter participant and I think a few of them even made me a better person.

I joined in December and since then I've had probably about that many comments deleted. In all cases, can't recall thinking "Oh, that's a bullshit deletion." To the contrary, in hindsight those were comments I'd prefer to have consigned to the memory hole because, well, they were shitty.

*touches wood*

I've had no posts deleted in that time, though. I also spent over ten years reading the hell out of the site, though, so I sense that by osmosis I gained some feel for what generally works and doesn't. I also read the guidelines, but obviously not everyone does.

But am I wrong in thinking that that occasional MeTa auto-da-fe functions as some kind of community expiation ritual?

So given that, if a MeTa that personally insult mods and is prima facie willfully obtuse makes it past the queue and appears, that's kind of inviting a pile on. So maybe the mod call there is to tell the person "Look, this is going to end badly out on the grey, so if you've got an issue let's hash it out directly or go away because this isn't going to work for you"?
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 8:54 PM on September 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


teponaztli, an important metafilter skill is learning when to nope out of a thread. I noped out if that recent metatalk 10 comments in. In threads about Christianity (one of my hobby horses), I read the first few comments and see if it's going in an interesting direction or going NOPE. Whenever a thread takes an angry turn - like GOD do you people get wound up about Bernie Sanders - with no substantial interesting discussion, NOPE. It helps to know when a fight is about to start because you've seen those battle lines drawn before, but when a thread is upsetting or ugly, nope out and go read about Indian Step Wells instead. If it turned into an interesting thread it'll be on the podcast.

"Thus, I see a problem here and I think it is not just me. The site has a mature culture, it is opaque to new people and it wouldn't hurt to try to make the ramp up a little easier on them."

You did have a really rough arrival, but from my perspective the mods and many people in the community worked harder than I have ever seen them work with another newbie to help you learn site culture, and very frequently in those early days you interpreted helping hands as direct personal attacks (which I think led to other people jumping on you, which didn't help). But still, a LOT of mefites were unusually helpful, patient, and kind with you during an unusually long and difficult adjustment to site culture. So given that the mod staff in particular really bent over backwards to help you, I'm wondering what an "onboarding" process could have helped with those early problems? And, given that your struggle to adjust here was unusual, would we want a universal "onboarding" procedure keyed to that situation, or would that be overwhelming amounts of information (like a EULA!) for the majority of new posters who fit in via existing channels? It seems to me that outlier situations are better handled personally by the mods, who can tailor the help to the newbie.

However, if someone wants to created a MetaFilter Big Sister/Big Brother program where volunteer established members contact n00bs and offer themselves as a personal resource as a Big Sister via memail, I am in like Flynn.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:56 PM on September 1, 2015 [27 favorites]


It's worth noting that if it's the case that people are avoidant about posting their concerns to MetaTalk because of hostility and pile-ons, then the purpose of MetaTalk is being undermined.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 9:23 PM on September 1, 2015 [24 favorites]


"in soviet union, post deletes you."

In Putin's Russia, you're charged for the deletion.

As for the content of the MeTa:

I joined in a time where you had to lurk (sometimes for years) before being allowed to join; that likely biases me strongly for a LURK MOAR approach. I think some new user welcome info would probably be helpful, but I don't think that this is going to be a totally solvable problem — at least not without more cost than benefit.

As for comparisons to Reddit and weddings: The flat (unthreaded) format here and lack of downvotes mean that people are more likely to respond directly and you're more likely to see it. That can feel like more direct negative feedback, depending on how you perceive online conversation norms. And the wedding disjunction might be from being outside the U.S., which sets the dominant mode for MeFi conversations — in the U.S., roughly 90% of women eventually marry. Of racial and gender groups, only black women are less likely to be married than unmarried currently (55% unmarried). A mistaken or out-of-context perception on the relative frequency of marriage combined with a structure that makes correction more likely has led to a user feeling that the discussion has "gotten nasty." If this is the bar of nastiness we're supposed to prevent, I don't think that's a feasible goal for a general interest site.
posted by klangklangston at 9:37 PM on September 1, 2015 [4 favorites]


It's worth noting that if it's the case that people are avoidant about posting their concerns to MetaTalk because of hostility and pile-ons, then the purpose of MetaTalk is being undermined.


the mods basically let shit through based on how willing they are to let people discuss whatever the post is about. and they certainly block shit that they don't like or whatever.

so the "purpose of metatalk" is whatever it is, but it's not some kind of pure free speech zone to the point where we need to be worrying about this kind of nuance.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 9:42 PM on September 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


I have removed
the post
that was on
the front page

and which
you were probably
hoping
would be favourited

Forgive me
it broke the guidelines
and also
was flagged multiple times.
posted by turbid dahlia at 9:44 PM on September 1, 2015 [48 favorites]


I’d like custom “Sad Moderator” emoji for each mod. When making a comment, in addition to “Everyone needs a hug”, “It’s just TV”, etc., we could also have a note in from of the Post button that says “Angry comments make moderators sad.” followed by the emoji of the current mod on duty.

I’m not sure that this will help new users. I just want it.
posted by Going To Maine at 10:40 PM on September 1, 2015 [3 favorites]


INFJ - when you make a post you get a MeMail with a link to the post in it, so you can just click that to see the deletion reason.

I don't. Or if I do, I don’t know about it, and that’s a bigger problem.

Wait, you don't get a mefi mail (NOT an email) with a link to your post that says (this is a copy from my most recent gone-live memail:…

There’s a preference that I turned off years ago, it seems.
posted by Going To Maine at 10:42 PM on September 1, 2015


The way I understand, the queue is not a screening process, it's just for time-shifting the pile-on to when the mods are ready with full battle gear and/or cup of coffee.

Shortly after the queue was turned on full-time, I submitted an ill-thought-out MeTa that would have continued the antagonism in a recently closed thread. I got an email about ten minutes later (from mathowie, no less) saying that the mods thought it wasn't a good idea. Having had time to sober up a bit, I agreed, although I think the post would have gone up had I insisted. So it seems the queue does have an informal screening process in place, and it sometimes keeps stupid shit off the site. Trying to formalize the MeTa submission process based on the extreme case we just experienced seems unwarranted.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 10:47 PM on September 1, 2015 [8 favorites]


> There’s a preference that I turned off years ago, it seems.

Well, okay. But then lack-of-URL for your post is not metafilter's problem, I think, since you opted out of the lowest-friction way of the site to contact you with that info. I know there's an option to have memail forwarded to the email you signed up with, but a lot of people don't enable that option, or no longer check that particular email address. This is a problem where I think users have to be willing to meet the site at least halfway: if you want notification about posts you make, you have to give the site a way to notify you that you actually pay attention to.
posted by rtha at 10:55 PM on September 1, 2015 [6 favorites]


I just had the thought that my little 'It looks like you're making your first post to [subsite]...' idea could possibly be a bit off-putting to folks who are skittish, and that might be sub-optimal.

That said, if pb&co do implement the idea, I request -- NAY, DEMAND! -- that they embed an image of Clippy at the top left.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:58 PM on September 1, 2015 [6 favorites]


I just woke up halfway off the bed and whacked my head on the nightstand. Put my mouth to my son's ear and asked him if he was awake. He said no. I told him he was a bedhog and he laughed. What do you do with that? You get in on the other side of the bed and make the best of it cause you can't really argue with somebody who is asleep and talking.

I think this applies here.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 11:42 PM on September 1, 2015 [8 favorites]


I think I'm with Michele in California. A mod approves everything that gets through this queue. The mods must know by now what is going to blow up in the poster's face very publicly and for no good reason. Reject those posts, explain why, and talk out their problem through email. No one else needs to know about it.
posted by pracowity at 1:00 AM on September 2, 2015 [7 favorites]


Part of the reason we're so wedding obsessed is that it just only recently became legal for same sex couple to marry in the US and there has been a frenzy of pent up marrying going on.

Also, I enjoy reading all the snark in MeTa because I am a BAD PERSON, and I never tire of In Soviet Russia jokes either.
posted by a humble nudibranch at 1:00 AM on September 2, 2015 [8 favorites]


I'm going to keep on saying this when I can, because I know I feel less alone when someone else says it. MF is a great place. It could be significantly better if people were kinder to each other. So the bit upthread, saying nothing is at stake, it's all anonymous etc. I think gets things wrong. At least it does with my own psychology. If someone is a dick to me here, which isn't infrequently, it upsets me.

And the piling on in threads like the one Michele references in the op is really off-putting. Look, I get your reaction. But there's a person at whom you're directing your snark. And it almost certainly leaves that person worse off for having received it.
posted by persona au gratin at 4:19 AM on September 2, 2015 [26 favorites]


My participation in the previous thread was (I think) the first time in 10 years that I have told someone to stop their poor behavior in MeTa, and I am a little ashamed after thinking about you must supply a verb's comment, because Cookie Monster in the library is so apt here. The poster in question has a fundamental disconnect with the site, and probably won't benefit from my cranky advice because she's looking for cookies and milk in a library, and coming from a set of expectations that don't match what the site is. The ability to make her stop and reflect is probably beyond us, and all we can do is say, in various ways, "That's not how we do things here" without any expectation that she can incorporate this advice. (I mean, I live in hope, but some folks are gonna keep asking for cookies and milk.) I don't know whether policy can or should emerge from that mismatch.

This was also not a case of "My bad, how can I do better?", which would have drawn a very different set of responses, and I understand the urge to try to make the poster get it. What we saw there was not great behavior. Maybe I should have been a lot more neutral in my criticism, because yeah, persona au gratin is right about kindness making more room for good conversation (and I applaud the increasing rarity of comments about trainwrecks and getting the popcorn; why cheer on anger?). I like pracowity's point about attempts to work this stuff out privately, too, on a case-by-case basis.

We all have differing conceptions of what this site is/could be/should be, and a bunch of us have a lot of overlap. This was... an outlier. Do I have an obligation not to be mean to Cookie Monster? Yes, I think I do. At the same time, this was a choice on the poster's part and a specific request for the community's feedback. Ask and ye shall receive; nobody promised you'd be happy with what you heard. Mods, thanks for your patience with this one. You were better with it than I was. Cheers.
posted by MonkeyToes at 5:06 AM on September 2, 2015 [7 favorites]


griphus: "I'm stapling a rider to this to stop In Soviet Russia jokes."

In Soviet Russia, rider staples you.
posted by chavenet at 5:30 AM on September 2, 2015 [6 favorites]


Oh thank God. I was starting to be concerned about the lack of riders stapling griphus.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:52 AM on September 2, 2015 [3 favorites]


One difficulty is that (many) people don't read welcome materials, so it may be a forlorn hope to solve this through writing.

Someone should draw a comic.
posted by zamboni at 5:57 AM on September 2, 2015 [13 favorites]


(or edit one they found on the internet)
posted by zamboni at 6:06 AM on September 2, 2015


The FAQ has become pretty epically long. Maybe it should have a section at the top that actually lists frequently asked questions, "why was my thing deleted?" being number one.
posted by smackfu at 6:19 AM on September 2, 2015 [3 favorites]


you're all fired
posted by griphus at 7:04 AM on September 2, 2015 [7 favorites]


I was starting to be concerned about the lack of riders stapling griphus.

Please, what happens in SlashFilter should stay in SlashFilter.
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:06 AM on September 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


Like INFJ, I’ve felt that the way deletions are handled without automatic notification came across as very passive-aggressive. I’ve gotten used to it of course, and often these days the mods will drop a quick note if they delete something that could be resurrected (thanks mods!) & have got a lot more consistent about leaving a note inline to explain deletions. Nevertheless, dropping stuff down the memory hole that people have spent time and effort writing without even letting them know has always seemed like the proverbial 'jerk-move': Even if that isn’t an intended subtext, it is the one that many people will receive. As such, the deletion policy has always felt out of keeping with the tone that the site itself tries to achieve otherwise & that has always been something that I was uncomfortable with.

(I suspect many people discovering their comments have simply disappeared for the first time perceive this moderation technique to be both underhanded and unpleasant: I certainly know that Mefi has lost at least one member in the past who had been around for several years before they realised that some of their comments were simply being dropped down the memory hole without so much as the proverbial by-your-leave & took offence. Some people might have been quite happy to see them go, but I believed their viewpoints that were worth hearing & it was a loss to the site to see them leave.)

I know that the mods don’t want to get into arguments with posters / commentators about why their precious, precious post and/or comment was deleted, but I think the current status quo has costs too which the community either doesn’t acknowledge or tends to minimise.

Is copying deleted comments & posts (with maybe some moderation boiler-plate text emphasising that deletions are not necessarily personal but can just be to head off a thread before it goes bad & maybe the text that the mod would have added inline to the thread as explanation) to users beyond the pale? I know the mods fear getting into endless arguments with users over deletions - especially people trying to waltz juuust up to the offensiveness line & being a jerk about it (“How about if I say this? Or this? Or *this*? etc etc etc) & if past experience has been that this is the end result then maybe the status quo is the way it has to be, since mefi has limited mod-time as it is & we probably can’t expect the mods to take on a stack of extra interaction with the most problematic users. On the other hand, more direct feedback about what is & isn’t acceptable might pull people up a little earlier & reduce the amount of crap they generate in the future.

Thoughts?
posted by pharm at 7:08 AM on September 2, 2015 [6 favorites]


Great idea, smackfu. "What are some topics that will not go over well?" should be another one.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 7:08 AM on September 2, 2015


I've been a member over a decade and have never read the FAQ in its entirety or anything remotely close to it. Hell, I've never read the signup notice, despite the multiple one off jokey sockpuppets.

While Metafilter has a text based mode of communication, it's still very social, so it's including lots of written instructions won't help much.

The one thing that really helped me in terms of setting the tone was Jessamyn emailing to explain my first comment deletion. It was a slightly racy comment on Askme and, yet Jessamyn's friendly, "this is no big deal, but this isn't helpful" explanation was so well written, I wasn't mad or annoyed at all. Instead, I just nodded my head in agreement, saying "yeah, that probably was a little racy, I should knock that shit off and I'll take you up on that offer to post a more helpful comment."

My point her is that adding more stuff more for people to read isn't going to help. If anything edit some of that stuff down. Instead, everyone's first deleted comment or two gets a personal note to help set expectations and explains things and then let things take their natural course.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:11 AM on September 2, 2015 [8 favorites]


Three-month reviews: Three months after a user joins the site, send them a memail asking how it’s going.

I love this as a new idea that might help newer users feel connected.

Exit interviews: (Maybe we do these?) If someone buttons, or if someone just straight up disappears from the site for a few months, send them an email asking how it’s going and why they left.

This used to be a thing that happened if the reason wasn't obvious and people certainly can type a thing in the box.

I think part of the issue is that the people who are likely to have a disconnect with site culture are also some of the same people less likely to maybe want to learn/care about site culture to begin with. I don't think this is accidental I think this is the system working (more or less) like it's supposed to. I really don't think you get MeTa threads where the OP compares moderation to Stormfront unless there's some not-understanding going on there. And hey that happens and that's mostly okay. I think we have a weird thing happening here where the userbase is split between

- finding these threads immensely uncomfortable (watching someone fight, watching people snark at them, watching people speculate on someone's mental health history)
- gleefully enjoying these threads (snarking, fighting, shadenfreuding)

And there's no easy way to reconcile those positions.

From a formerly mod-facing position one of the issues with emailing people about their deleted posts is that it opens up a backchannel non-public discussion area for that topic when most of that discussion should be held in public so other people can learn from it. Mods having long talks with people is okay if it needs to happen but it does not scale and I'd be wary of making it an official way things happen here. People who get posts deleted are usually a small set of people

- accidental double posters
- heavy posters who take occasional risks with posts and know how to check and see what happened
- people posting stuff-not-right-for-MeFi who don't know the rules and maybe are mad that the site isn't the way they want it to be

Opening up a conversation with those people that is private doesn't help, enforces the mod position as being the only opinion that matters, and gives them a lot of extra work for very little site-positive outcome. When thinking about what the goal is here, having people be better community members is definitely part of that but part of being a better community members is getting a little into site culture by reading, interacting with the mods and trying to answer some of your own questions. That's how the site actually is.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 7:14 AM on September 2, 2015 [31 favorites]


One of the things it's taken me a long time to learn, is that for most people there's a maximum amount of information they're going to absorb at one time from an e-mail, FAQ, page, etc.

The IT folks I work with tend to think the purpose of any outgoing communication is to pre-emptively answer any and all possible questions. Therefore, questions coming back are an indication of failure. We'll make the next communication twice as detailed!

So my suggestion is the welcome message and FAQ need to have the most important things at the beginning, and the welcome message needs to be kept very short. Even then a good 50% of people won't read it, which is normal and to be expected, and will result in posts that go against community expectations that we've spelled out in those communications.
posted by FishBike at 7:17 AM on September 2, 2015 [18 favorites]


(I suspect many people discovering their comments have simply disappeared for the first time perceive this moderation technique to be both underhanded and unpleasant:

Eh, I dunno. Notes for deleting posts seems to make sense, especially since it should not require that much of the mod's time, but sending a personal note every time a comment is deleted is going to get out of hand quickly. You can argue that posts require time to craft (although the one double I had deleted took me very little time, and, lo! it was a double). Comments, on the other hand, are often written in haste, and I don't think it's reasonable to ask the mods to take more time than the commenter did.


I know that the mods don’t want to get into arguments with posters / commentators about why their precious, precious post and/or comment was deleted

Hell, as a member, I would like to see this hashed out as little as possible. It is almost invariably either tedious or ugly, leads to flameouts and bad feelings, and there is very little discussion in those threads anyway. I suggested a "pre-closed" MeTa for deletion explanations above; maybe we could get the second part through the establishment of a "Once A Month Hate MeTa" so people could get it out of their systems and the wise could avert their eyes.
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:23 AM on September 2, 2015


Sure, personal notes for every comment deletion would be ridiculous.

A “here’s the text of your deleted comment” automatic note wouldn’t be though: Whether that would be a good idea or note is clearly debatable but it does at least avoid the “silently dumping people’s genuine attempts to contribute to the site down the memory hole without them knowing at the time or being able to retrieve the original text once they find out” problem.
posted by pharm at 7:28 AM on September 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


“silently dumping people’s genuine attempts to contribute to the site down the memory hole without them knowing or even being able to retrieve the original text once they find out”

Comment deletions (either individually or bulk) are often accompanied by a mod note in the thread, so "silently" is not universal (although I suppose I may have missed mass deletion sprees due to mod sneakiness). In my opinion, most of the comment deletions I have noticed (my own included, occasionally) fail the "genuine attempts to contribute to the site" test for any reasonable definition of "genuine" and "contribute." Lastly, I am pretty sure that, if you ask the mods, they will send you your deleted text, the later part isn't really true either.
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:41 AM on September 2, 2015


A “here’s the text of your deleted comment” automatic note wouldn’t be though

I hear what you are saying, but technically that will work one of two ways

1. it comes from a mod and is replyable in which case it's essentially a personal note about a deletion and opens up a backchannel conversation

2. it comes from a non-replyable address in which case it seems like a "We want to talk to you but don't want you to talk to us" mod action that feels weird and modly and official.

I can see other technical options including what the mods have which is making the comment visible on the site but greyed out but I suspect the hassle factor involved in making that work on a per-user basis is not small. Right now people can always get the text of their deleted comment but there's the friction of them having to ask. Again, I know that many people if they ran the site might handle this differently, but it's not a topic that's been unconsidered in the past.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 7:43 AM on September 2, 2015 [7 favorites]


If I posted my first post to some website I liked but was fairly new to, and my well crafted post vanished into the bit bucket for poorly understood reasons, I'd be sad and frustrated at best. Mailing unfamiliar moderators to ask about it, while feeling sad and frustrated, would seem like asking for a fight somehow.

I'd feel a bit like if I was dating someone and spent time thoughtfully crafting them a present, with my own hands! that I thought they would enjoy, and then finding that they chucked it in the bin and never mentioned that fact to me. I'd be more likely to jump to DTMFA! and I'd certainly be pretty wary of trying to start a discussion about the whole event, since it's hard to imagine that the discussion would go well. If I'm starting the discussion at all then I guess it's with the full knowledge that it's likely to end up in a flameout.

Maybe a theoretical solution would be a First-Post-Wizard type thingy that holds people's hands a little more when firstly posting? Even an optional first-post-wizard that's like "Want help making sure that your post will go well? Try using this wizard thingy!"
posted by emilyw at 7:57 AM on September 2, 2015 [7 favorites]


jessamyn: "it seems like a ... mod action that feels weird and modly and official."

You (well, the hypothetical you that is a site mod, since the particular you in this case has left your modly powers behind!) *are* a moderator. *Everything* you do in the operation of that role is by definition modly and official! I don’t personally see any difficulty with such a message not being trivially reply-able - except in the general sense that you can always contact the mods if you have a question - and in general there shouldn’t be any expectation of any kind of 'right of reply' to a deletion: stuff gets deleted, the world moves on, just as it does now.

It does feel to me like the mods like the status quo because they believe it minimises the amount of interaction that they have to go through with difficult users who respond badly to having comments deleted & I understand that. On the flip side, members who can’t cope with the occasional deletion are surely on the short path to receiving the banhammer anyway & the earlier it comes, the better it is for the site as a whole & the less total mod interaction with them is going to be required.
posted by pharm at 8:03 AM on September 2, 2015 [3 favorites]


From a formerly mod-facing position one of the issues with emailing people about their deleted posts is that it opens up a backchannel non-public discussion area for that topic when most of that discussion should be held in public so other people can learn from it. Mods having long talks with people is okay if it needs to happen but it does not scale and I'd be wary of making it an official way things happen here. People who get posts deleted are usually a small set of people.

What about putting something like the email template I suggested above into a separate web page somewhere on metafilter. Then the deletion reason can be "AskMe is only for questions that need solving, but this isn't a question that needs solving. Check out these examples of questions appropriate and inappropriate for AskMe and contact the mods if you have any questions or need help reformulating your question to post next week. [link to chatfilter explanation document]."

Then it's not private/backchannel and it's not "we're talking to you but don't want to hear from you."
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 8:18 AM on September 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


2. it comes from a non-replyable address in which case it seems like a "We want to talk to you but don't want you to talk to us" mod action that feels weird and modly and official.

Just one vote here: I would much rather receive a notice from a non-replyable address than none at all, which is the case now. The auto-note could also state: contact form if you wish to discuss further.

Again: more communication is always better than none or minimal communication.

Also: I just want to second pharm's points, I think they're incredibly well-made and something I couldn't even articulate half as well.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 8:25 AM on September 2, 2015 [4 favorites]


Ugh, PLEASE do not send me the text of my deleted comments! At a minimum, make it opt-out! That is not the kind of community I want to be a part of - I trust the moderators to in general do their job, and I do not think my deleted comments are worth much of anything at all that I would want them preserved.
posted by muddgirl at 8:34 AM on September 2, 2015 [17 favorites]


I totally get where the impulse for this comes from. In practice, I think auto-notification of every deleted comment is a nonstarter.

Suppose I'm an angry commenter, I've made angry comments in a thread I feel strongly about, and they get deleted. Then I get MefiMail with just the text of the comment, but no explanation of why it was deleted, beyond what's in the thread. What am I going to do? Either repost the same or similar thing, because my comment was PERFECTLY GOOD YOU JERKS (and of course you see where that goes), or shrug because I don't have any better idea of how to make it okay. (Maybe if you're a reasonable mellow person, this "repost the same exact thing" behavior doesn't make sense, but believe me that it happens. And we delete it again. And under this new plan it would get sent to them again. And now it's a game. "I'm getting enjoyable feedback every time my comment is deleted!" And then we'd need to give the person a timeout.)

To help with the "I don't know how to fix it", probably those notifications should include individual mod explanations. Diplomatically worded and situation-specific explanations. Explanations that won't escalate someone's freakout, but won't be too harsh in case the person is a newbie with a misunderstanding. (I think form letters won't work for this, too many variables.) From experience I can attest that my Mefimailing people their deleted comments with a brief diplomatic explanation has maybe a 20% fail rate, where the person is just super pissed off and whatever I say doesn't really change that -- and I'm already choosing who to mail.

Especially in a busy angry thread, this would be totally unsustainable. Putting mod notes in thread and mailing individuals is a much more feasible method.

I think the idea of some selected reference threads where we could point new users to illustrate what works ("take a look at these examples of ____ ") is good, and the wiki is a really great place to put these. I refer people to the ThereIsHelp wiki page often; it's a much used and much appreciated collection of info. One of the things I'm going to try to do in overhauling the FAQ is cut it down a lot, as people have said - the current version comes out of the impulse to "explain things more!" but I've come around to see that approach doesn't scale for a site as complex as this is. So a good deal of stuff will get displaced to the wiki, I think, and then just referenced ("if you want to read a lot more, see this page") in the FAQ. If people have threads they think are great examples for different things, that's great - link them here or send me the link.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 8:38 AM on September 2, 2015 [11 favorites]


I totally believe that reposting deleted comments (or paraphrases of deleted comments that are just as bad) is a thing that happens LobsterMitten, but surely that’s behaviour that results in a banhammer on the spot already? If angry jerks get time-outs and bans earlier rather than later then all the better for mefi as far as I’m concerned.
posted by pharm at 8:45 AM on September 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


"Want help making sure that your post will go well? Try using this wizard thingy!"

I'm imagining a disembodied mathowie head a la Clippy and tbh it's kind of working for me. Let's do this.
posted by phunniemee at 8:46 AM on September 2, 2015 [8 favorites]


surely that’s behaviour that results in a banhammer on the spot already? If angry jerks get time-outs and bans earlier rather than later then all the better for mefi as far as I’m concerned.

That might be true but it's definitely not how the site works now. Mods ban and timeout very sparingly.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 8:55 AM on September 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


It seems really clear to me from every moderation/op/admin role I have ever had that auto-notification of deleted comments would cause an unrelenting shitstorm of complaint. It's the kind of thing I'd almost be interested in trying if I were starting a comment system from scratch as an experiment, but I can't even slightly blame anyone for not doing it in an established setting.
posted by brennen at 9:01 AM on September 2, 2015 [10 favorites]


are you fucking shitting me right now

actual soviet russian mefite: i hate these stupid jokes and would like to see them less or even never

like 20 jerks who don't give a fuck: no i don't give a fuck these jokes are more important to me than your feelings of belittlement

seriously what the fuck
posted by poffin boffin at 9:02 AM on September 2, 2015 [36 favorites]


I'm imagining a disembodied mathowie head a la Clippy and tbh it's kind of working for me

+1 on the floating disembodied mathowie.
posted by octobersurprise at 9:07 AM on September 2, 2015


unsavory level of glee
Great band name.


Yeah, but they ended up going with The Polyphonic Spree instead
posted by Greg Nog at 9:10 AM on September 2, 2015 [8 favorites]


seriously what the fuck

In Soviet Russia, the fuck what seriouslies you!
posted by Going To Maine at 9:15 AM on September 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


I think the natural place for quasi-personal deleted comment notification to go would be in the poster's recent activity. When I've had comments deleted, mostly how I've found out is by going to my recent activity, expecting to find updates from a thread I'd commented in, and not getting them. That kind of breaks the 'recent activity' page a bit while also being disconcerting.

I am picturing a placeholder text that looks almost like a regular comment where the deleted comment would have been, with l like, "Comment[s] deleted from this thread. You are welcome to follow up with the mods [link to contact form] with questions/concerns."

That makes it ambiguous whether just that person's comment was deleted, de-personalizes it a bit, lets them get on with reading new activity if that's their main interest anyway, preserves the function of recent activity, and provides some acknowledgment that there was a comment that now is gone and gives a means (that's not a Metatalk flameout) for follow up. If it's possible/efficient, the text could also include a link to the FAQ about comment deletions or even especially relevant categories of comment deletions, e.g. derails/offensive/etc.
posted by Salamandrous at 9:16 AM on September 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


In Soviet Russia, the fuck what seriouslies you!

In all sincerity, cut it the fuck out.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:19 AM on September 2, 2015 [19 favorites]


[I frankly don't care too much about knowing about my deleted comments, except in that it would be useful to know in a learning-what-is-and-isn't-cool sort of way; however, what I'm going to bat for is an option to receive alerts (no-reply) when an fpp of mine has been deleted.]
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 9:24 AM on September 2, 2015 [4 favorites]


In Soviet Russia, the fuck what seriouslies you!

In Soviet Russia, you would be killed with impunity
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 9:27 AM on September 2, 2015 [4 favorites]


Yes, I think the depersonalisation thing is an important point Salamandrous.

Is there a half-way house between direct notification (with the attendant negative response cycle that the mods believe would result which I totally understand) and the comment/post memory hole that gives both feedback to the user & preserves the text without triggering the whole 'deletion -> counter post -> shitstorm ensues' downward spiral?

Perhaps deleted comments could be left in the posters recent activity for them alone to see & marked as such, but with no specific notification to being them to the users attention there and then? In effect we sort of have this for posts right now if the poster goes hunting for their missing post, but not for comments.
posted by pharm at 9:29 AM on September 2, 2015


Add me to the "Let's stop with the 'In Soviet Russia' jokes" chorus.
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:31 AM on September 2, 2015


Can griphus or some other person from Russia clarify if you find those jokes actually offensive or just overdone/tedious/eye-rolling/dumb/unwelcome?
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 9:31 AM on September 2, 2015 [4 favorites]


I totally support putting Clippy heads in the beds of people who write deleted comments.
posted by michaelh at 9:31 AM on September 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


Can griphus or some other person from Russia clarify if you find those jokes actually offensive or just overdone/tedious/eye-rolling/dumb/unwelcome?

I mean I can bang out a couple of paragraphs on how the latter breeds the former when it comes to ethnic humor but it'll just be shorter to say "both in degrees."
posted by griphus at 9:44 AM on September 2, 2015 [34 favorites]


In Soviet Russia, you would be killed with impunity

Come the revolution, comrade, and you won't even want to make such comments.
posted by octobersurprise at 9:45 AM on September 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


it's not a surprise if you tell me about it ahead of time, man
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 9:49 AM on September 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


Come the revolution, comrade, and you won't even want to make such comments.
posted by octobersurprise


I admit that I am part of the problem, but: eponyrevolutionary!
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:49 AM on September 2, 2015 [3 favorites]


I once found a "This Is Branson!" promotional VHS tape at a thrift store so consider myself somewhat of an expert in these matters.

The guy who could make a train whistle noise through his missing teeth was more compelling than Yakov Smirnoff. imo.
posted by phunniemee at 9:49 AM on September 2, 2015


I totally support putting Clippy heads

Wait, this gives me a brilliant idea! What about if, when you're posting, a little animated anthropomorphic plate of beans appeared in one corner and offered to help and gave you links to relevant FAQ sections?

So if you typed the words "I was just wondering..." the little plate of beans would say "It looks like you're trying to post chatfilter...." Or if you typed "on the counter for" it would say "It looks like you're wondering if you can eat something. I mean post if you want to, but yeah, just eat it."

Once the basic features are up and running, pb could set up some artificial intelligence to learn which question text phrases are corrolated with which answers being favourited. Then if you typed "My bf..." or "My gf..." the little plate of beans would say "DTMFA."

I realize this would be a big programming project, but come on! How awesome would that be?
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 9:51 AM on September 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


"This Is Branson!"

An ancient dude in a Rascal decorated with small American flags yells THIS. IS. BRANSON! before ramming his scooter into your shins, causing you to trip over a foot-high decorative white picket fence and fall into a small herb garden.
posted by griphus at 10:02 AM on September 2, 2015 [9 favorites]


Somewhat related - if you're interested in what's gone on in Yakov Smirnoff's life over the last few decades, Marc Maron interviewed him on WTF a while back. He talks alot about Branson and how he ended up there.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 10:04 AM on September 2, 2015 [4 favorites]


In Soviet Russia, quonsar is spelled quasar and is a) broken unperson TV set or b) ancient galactic fart.
posted by y2karl at 10:06 AM on September 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


I think the idea of some selected reference threads where we could point new users to illustrate what works ("take a look at these examples of ____ ") is good

I think having some examples of deleted posts (not comments) with explanations of why they were deleted would be good too because it shows the poster that deleting posts is just a thing that happens sometimes and it's nothing personal or political, it's just about the guidelines. It would probably be good to get posters of the deleted posts' permission to include them in that context, but I'm sure people would be willing. I would.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 10:08 AM on September 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


yakov smirnoff apparently has a lot of longstanding sockpuppet accounts here
posted by you must supply a verb at 10:10 AM on September 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


An ancient dude in a Rascal decorated with small American flags yells THIS. IS. BRANSON! before ramming his scooter into your shins, causing you to trip over a foot-high decorative white picket fence and fall into a small herb garden.

You've seen it, then.
posted by phunniemee at 10:14 AM on September 2, 2015


Just on a personal level: if folks are inclined to be mindful of tired joke tropes that are sort of eeeh, mobility-scooter jokes are in that category too.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 10:19 AM on September 2, 2015 [10 favorites]


Hoisted by my own petard.
posted by griphus at 10:21 AM on September 2, 2015 [6 favorites]


mobility-scooter jokes are in that category too

All the better for traversing those slippery slopes.
posted by phunniemee at 10:22 AM on September 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


HOIST

IT'S THE PAST PARTICIPLE OF THE IRREGULAR VERB HOISE

HELLO FROM WHERE I AM STUCK IN TRAFFIC IN IDAHO, THIS IS A GOOD DISCUSSION I WILL JOIN IN ON IN EARNEST LATER
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:23 AM on September 2, 2015 [25 favorites]


He talks a lot about Branson and how he ended up there.

If it doesn't include a stint as a Country & Western singer I shall be disappointed.
posted by octobersurprise at 10:26 AM on September 2, 2015


There once was a mobility scooter
Whose driver was truly a hooter
But once in Ukraine
She called in a rain
Of Russian missiles that hurt her.

There, that should cover it.
posted by Pyrogenesis at 10:29 AM on September 2, 2015


There's traffic in Idaho? The things I learn on this site!
posted by rtha at 10:29 AM on September 2, 2015 [6 favorites]


Sometimes you have to wait for a herd of potatoes to cross the highway
posted by prize bull octorok at 10:33 AM on September 2, 2015 [17 favorites]


That's actually just diner slang for a big ol' plate of tater tots.
posted by phunniemee at 10:34 AM on September 2, 2015


I had a dream I was in a Waffle House last night. It was beautiful.
posted by griphus at 10:35 AM on September 2, 2015


awww yeah cortex bring the hoise
posted by Wolfdog at 10:35 AM on September 2, 2015 [3 favorites]


I guess I can see how hardcore taters could mess up traffic.
posted by rtha at 10:35 AM on September 2, 2015 [5 favorites]


Overall, I don't have problems with moderation. I've had a few comments deleted. One of them I thought "huh, it wasn't that bad, but ok".
posted by lmfsilva at 10:39 AM on September 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


Can we get notifications for deletions was my very first meta post. I agreed with the pony denial then. I agree with it now. I don't see any point in rehashing that here. I don't believe that really does anything to further the discussion about how to help people fit in to a mature site culture. I don't agree with some of the ugly characterizations of knowgood. It will take me some time to think through what I want to say about that.
posted by Michele in California at 10:45 AM on September 2, 2015


lmfsilva - Sometimes things get deleted because they're following on a train of comments where the earlier ones were deleted. Sometimes for non-answers in AskMe. Sometimes (and I think this was the case with yours), it's a jokey comment meant in a lighthearted way, but it's going to strike people as being more offensive/hostile/cruel/fighty/etc than you probably realize in the specific context where it's posted.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 10:47 AM on September 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


HELLO CORTEX YOU DON'T HAVE TO YELL I HAVE A GOOD WIFI CONNECTION AND CAN READ YOU JUST FINE
posted by soundguy99 at 11:01 AM on September 2, 2015 [9 favorites]


What did Cortex say?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:01 AM on September 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


Come on guys it's long-distance, hurry it up. I need to call the phone in my apartment to check the messages on my external answering machine because I gave people the phone number to a phone I am only occasionally available at.
posted by griphus at 11:04 AM on September 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


HELLO FROM WHERE I AM STUCK IN TRAFFIC IN IDAHO, T

Hey, can you bring us some taters?
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 11:10 AM on September 2, 2015


WHAT A HOISER.
posted by y2karl at 11:20 AM on September 2, 2015


LobsterMitten: Yeah, like I've said, I have no issues with it being deleted. It was a joke (if we're talking about the one on a NFL concussion thread) that wouldn't add anything to the discussion and it passed the line over to gallows humor. Some would probably find it funny, others certainly wouldn't, and if the mods thought it was in poor taste, no harm in deleting it - again, it's not like it would advance discussion by any means.
posted by lmfsilva at 11:24 AM on September 2, 2015


In Soviet Russia, no von like you type.
posted by Oyéah at 11:27 AM on September 2, 2015


lmfsilva, ah groovy.

Oyeah, maybe lay off the Russia jokes since we were just talking about how they're not always so funny to folks actually from Russia?
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 11:29 AM on September 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


I dated a Russian comedian. I thought everyone was joking. I apologise.
posted by Oyéah at 11:38 AM on September 2, 2015


"IT'S THE PAST PARTICIPLE OF THE IRREGULAR VERB HOISE"

NOT IN ENGLISH IT AIN'T. IN ENGLISH "HOISTED" IS MORE POPULAR AND HOISE HAS BEEN OBSOLETE SINCE SHAKESPEARE.

I know a hawk from a heron.
posted by klangklangston at 11:47 AM on September 2, 2015


IT IS DAMN SURE CORRECT WHEN DIRECTLY REFERENCING THE SHAKESPEARE ITSELF

UNLESS THIS IS SOME SORT OF CONTEMPORARY REIMAGINING SHIT OR WHATEVER
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:51 AM on September 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


This is King Lear but it takes place in MetaFilter and no one has either read King Lear or is bothering to act it out, but it's King Lear just the same.
posted by griphus at 11:53 AM on September 2, 2015 [7 favorites]


Out of curiousity: If I comment in a thread and it is deleted, does the thread still show up on my Recent Activity?
posted by maryr at 12:01 PM on September 2, 2015


Also, re: King Lear, we do tend to hate on Reagan here.
posted by maryr at 12:01 PM on September 2, 2015 [4 favorites]


I know a hawk from a heron.

Interestingly, "heron" is actually the irregular gerund form of the verb "hero".
posted by Wolfdog at 12:06 PM on September 2, 2015 [4 favorites]


maryr, nope, the delete takes the thread out of your RA.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 12:10 PM on September 2, 2015


> Out of curiousity: If I comment in a thread and it is deleted, does the thread still show up on my Recent Activity?

Yes, this happened to me just a few days ago.
posted by benito.strauss at 12:10 PM on September 2, 2015


Um, okay, this is embarrassing. I'm pretty sure it happened to me just a few days ago.
posted by benito.strauss at 12:11 PM on September 2, 2015 [3 favorites]


maryr, nope, the delete takes the thread out of your RA.

True, unless the thread is in there for another reason. If you posted the thread, have another comment in the thread that wasn't deleted, or if you added the post with 'add to activity' it will still be in RA.
posted by pb (staff) at 12:16 PM on September 2, 2015 [4 favorites]


I think that the contact form and the MetaTalk post page should be the same page, with the contact form on top.

People who happen to click into MetaTalk before they find the comment form, and see the types of things posted here, assume that they have found the place to complain. So far we're discussing ways to make them understand that it isn't necessarily the best place for that. But with this change to the site layout, it is no longer necessary to understand. It's simply more convenient to type your complaint into the contact form.

variations: only one form, but two submit buttons, with the Contact Mods button appearing first and the MetaTalk Post button after the warnings that currently precede the form; only Contact Mods is visible until you get to the preview page, at which point MetaTalk Post is present as well
posted by LogicalDash at 12:17 PM on September 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


Phew, I'm not actually crazy.
posted by benito.strauss at 12:18 PM on September 2, 2015


Phew, I'm not actually crazy.

Well ... let's not jump to too many conclusions ...
posted by dotgirl at 12:29 PM on September 2, 2015 [3 favorites]


> I think that the contact form and the MetaTalk post page should be the same page, with the contact form on top.

There are two prominent links to the contact form right at the top of the new-post meTa page. Maybe I don't understand what it is you're envisioning.
posted by rtha at 12:30 PM on September 2, 2015


Wolfdog: "Interestingly, "heron" is actually the irregular gerund form of the verb "hero"."

Interestingly, "interestingly" is actually the irregular adverbial form of "pedant."
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 12:30 PM on September 2, 2015 [9 favorites]


Cite?
posted by Wolfdog at 12:37 PM on September 2, 2015 [10 favorites]


Heronimo! is what baby herons yell upon jumping out of the nest for the first time.

In related news, heron nests are terrifying.
posted by maryr at 1:08 PM on September 2, 2015 [3 favorites]


Wolfdog: "Cite?"

Wikipedia on the etymology of "interestingly."
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 1:13 PM on September 2, 2015 [38 favorites]


Eyebrows McGee, that is the first time that has ever happened to me for real. Kudos!
posted by cgc373 at 1:42 PM on September 2, 2015


That was beautiful.
posted by Gygesringtone at 1:43 PM on September 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


At this point I think the whole site could pretty well be subtitled "Eyebrows McGee plays the long game."
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 1:47 PM on September 2, 2015 [37 favorites]


Just want to cast my vote with this being a solution looking for a problem. The brand new user who blows up some Godwinesque hyperbole in MeTa is a) very rare and b) someone who will likely avoid lurking or reading even if you handed them a large-font FAQ on a silver platter. Not crazy about all of us doing the heavy lifting for people who won't even bother clicking around a bit and trying to contact the admins before having a public throwdown.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 2:11 PM on September 2, 2015 [13 favorites]


I used to be a moderator on GaiaOnline in one of the subforums. Part of our process was to quote and respond to every deletion we made - and eventually they made a whole (awesome) infrastructure for us to do it with. The exception was obvious trolling (50 images of sexual organs, for example, were deleted with prejudice). The awesome deletion system allowed us to write stock answers for types of deletions - off topic, abuse, etc... - in our own words and then apply them. Even before that, most moderators had a list of deletion reasons to C&P from as we went. I once deleted so quickly and for so long that I was qualified as a bot and my account was suspended - it was impressive, and I'm still proud (the reinstatement email told me I needed to take meal breaks - I was on a roll, yo!).

I don't know whether or not this would fit MetaFilter. There was an automated quality to doing it which doesn't fit the moderator culture here. I will say that in my experience a tiny subset of the massive amounts of posts I deleted had people pushing back on it; MeFites tend to be fightier about our words, though.
posted by Deoridhe at 2:12 PM on September 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


IT IS DAMN SURE CORRECT WHEN DIRECTLY REFERENCING THE SHAKESPEARE ITSELF

UNLESS THIS IS SOME SORT OF CONTEMPORARY REIMAGINING SHIT OR WHATEVER


cortex, buddy. International Caps Lock Day is NEXT MONTH IT'S OCTOBER 22 OR IS THIS SOME KIND OF FIENDISH SOCIAL EXPERIMENT?

*ahem*

Previously.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 2:16 PM on September 2, 2015


> True, unless the thread is in there for another reason. If you posted the thread, have another comment in the thread that wasn't deleted, or if you added the post with 'add to activity' it will still be in RA.

Okay, pb, I give. How does a thread get in one's Recent Activities other than creating it, commenting in it, or using the "add to activity" link?

(This feels like a question from Trivia Night at a MetaFilter conference.)

(Oh god, the idea of MeFiCon. I'm not going to delete the phrase, but I'm a little afraid for having invoked the name.)
posted by benito.strauss at 2:38 PM on September 2, 2015


Sorry I wasn't very clear, benito.strauss. Those are the ways a thread gets into Recent Activity. I was just listing them.
posted by pb (staff) at 2:48 PM on September 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


"IT IS DAMN SURE CORRECT WHEN DIRECTLY REFERENCING THE SHAKESPEARE ITSELF

UNLESS THIS IS SOME SORT OF CONTEMPORARY REIMAGINING SHIT OR WHATEVER
"

ARE OUR LOCK'D CAPS IN IAMBIC OR
ARE THE PEDANTS NEWLY IN TYPE COMPOSED

OUR HAMLET WEARS CARGO SHORTS TO THE STAGE
OUR GRIPHUS USES HOIST ED; SAXON LINES
LOST NOW DESPITE PETARD PEDANTS RAMPANT

ALSO ALL SHAKESPEARE NOW PERFORM'D WITH CEASE-
LESS SHOUTS AS IF CALLOW PRETEENS REFUSED
REMOVING THEIR IPHONE EARBUDS TO PLAY
TITUS ANDRONICUS OR LIKE Y'KNOW WHATEVER
posted by klangklangston at 3:03 PM on September 2, 2015 [4 favorites]


IS THAT A CROCKETY BLOAT I SEE BEFORE ME??!!
posted by Going To Maine at 3:08 PM on September 2, 2015 [6 favorites]


I think pb meant that if you have one and only one comment and that was why it was in your Recent Activity feed, then, yes, having it deleted removes it from that feed. But if the comment was deleted and it is in your feed for other reasons, then, no, it doesn't remove it.
posted by Michele in California at 3:10 PM on September 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


Building a bit off my previous suggestion for getting new users up to speed in terms of making front page posts to subsites and possible deletions, I have an idea which might work for comment deletion as well, which I think might address some of the issues discussed here (and many times in the past) in terms of usually-silent comment deletions. It's programmatic, again, but.

How about this: for a given subsite, if a user has less than n comments deleted there (where n=3 or 5 or something), if a comment is deleted, they get a MeFi mail with some background info along the lines of 'Mods deleted your comment in this thread / here's the usual reasons that comments are deleted in [subsite] and our rationale / it happens to everybody, don't freak out / if you really want to push back you can contact us directly [here] / here's some FAQ links about it / etc'.

People who have been around for a while are pretty much accustomed to the Way of Deletion (whether they're happy with it or not), so there's not a great need, at least in the way things have customarily been done, to notify them about comment deletion. But new users can justifiably get upset if they haven't done Due FAQ Diligence (which, as has been noted, can be a big ask). This would be a way to ease them into that aspect of site culture.

So these mails, which would only happen the first few times, would hopefully lead to fewer ragequits and angry MeTas. Included in the mail would also be a tickbox for 'Don't send me any more of these, I get it.'
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:39 PM on September 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


Eyebrows McGee, that is the first time that has ever happened to me for real. Kudos!

Me too, Eyebrows -- in fact that's the first time I've seen that or laid eyes on that person.

Thanks for making me a member of the club at long last!

At this point I think the whole site could pretty well be subtitled "Eyebrows McGee plays the long game."

We can only hope.
posted by jamjam at 3:39 PM on September 2, 2015


or if you added the post with 'add to activity' it will still be in RA.

I totally forgot that feature exists now -- retroactive thanks, pb!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:40 PM on September 2, 2015


I have read King Lear.

Two Mefites both alike in dignity
In gray Metatalk wherin we lay our scene
From ancient grudge still seek equity
Where skillful modding seeks to referee.
From forth the western states the question goes
What can we do to help the newbie flow?
posted by Oyéah at 3:47 PM on September 2, 2015 [3 favorites]


Metatonic Pentameter.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 3:52 PM on September 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


posted by phunniemee I'm imagining a disembodied mathowie head a la Clippy and tbh it's kind of working for me. Let's do this.

Hi, kids! My name's Mathowie!

2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7!
posted by mattdidthat at 4:35 PM on September 2, 2015 [7 favorites]


In some social justice foofaraw a while back I suggested that 'rage is fun' and got told that was a bad thing to say, but I think accepting it and dealing with it is a more honest way to proceed.

for e.g:
are you fucking shitting me right now

actual soviet russian mefite: i hate these stupid jokes and would like to see them less or even never

like 20 jerks who don't give a fuck: no i don't give a fuck these jokes are more important to me than your feelings of belittlement

seriously what the fuck


Did the person who posted it* have fun doing it? Not fun in a hee hee way, but fun in the hotblooded rush of satisfaction at being able to publicly correct someone else's error?

That's the mechanism here, and it's intrinsic to social groups. Metafilter channels it by putting it mainly in MeTa (and forbidding it in AskMefi). It's possible to try and remove it, but imo it's never going to be very satisfactory. Smart people with opinions are going to differ, you need somewhere for those differences to be hammered out, and it's better for that place to be away from the mainstream.

*poffin boffin, but this isn't directed specifically at him/her
posted by Sebmojo at 4:39 PM on September 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


MetaFilter: the hotblooded rush of satisfaction at being able to publicly correct someone else’s error

It shows up on the blue quite a bit as well, and it’s how one learns that there are threads you should straight-up avoid because your involvement will be fighty and/or cause other people to get fighty.
posted by Going To Maine at 4:53 PM on September 2, 2015 [3 favorites]


Hi, kids! My name's Mathowie!

2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7!

That made me sad, but that folder appears to be full of strange, eldritch gems. For instance, this handy flowchart that we could show to new folks.
posted by Going To Maine at 5:03 PM on September 2, 2015 [4 favorites]


Yeah that's in no way contained only on the grey.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 5:04 PM on September 2, 2015


There were no soviets in 'Titus Andropovicus'
posted by clavdivs at 5:16 PM on September 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


Honey, I going to have to take.that T-bird away.
posted by Oyéah at 5:34 PM on September 2, 2015


What is the source of the need to continually make these unfunny jokes to which members have repeatedly objected?
posted by MoonOrb at 6:36 PM on September 2, 2015


Yeah, I'm going to start deleting here.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 6:37 PM on September 2, 2015 [5 favorites]


in soviet russia, joke formats, like the slogans of official party ideology, become tired through overuse, just like in america

what a country
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 6:38 PM on September 2, 2015 [4 favorites]


To the substance of the question, I've been a mostly lurking member for a while and a definite reader before I had an account. Even having read consistently for years and maybe I'm slow around these things, but the whole 'use the contact form' thing is so different the bulk of the rest of the internet that I typically use that I didn't really believe it was a thing I should do. I started off in newsgroups, then the old Genie roundtables and onward through things like livejournal and now tumblr. In many of those places staff is not a group that you interact with directly, ever. Sure, you see people ranting at them whenever there is an 'upgrade' but otherwise the model tends to be that you contact staff when you have a support request. Yes, I realize MetaFilter is different but I suspect a lot of folks really don't get how this differs from a lot of other unmoderated forums at first glance.

As someone who actually does read FAQs and also does some moderating I humbly suggest that the FAQ get shortened somehow and have a 'new around here' or a 'freqently, no really FAQ' list with a pointer to the longer stuff that gets into more detail. No, it won't help the folks determined to not fit in but I do suspect it would cut down on the well meaning but overwhelmed that newly join. Especially if it is something that is combined with a mod email when someone goes off the rails and it's clear it is a culture problem.

Also, fwiw, this can be a very intimidating culture to step into. It took the EL thread to invest me into actually commenting instead of just reading (mostly) the green and even then I don't comment much.
posted by ladyriffraff at 7:07 PM on September 2, 2015 [7 favorites]


Now I really will ask a real question. How many Russians are on Metafilter, and is this really an issue? Did I miss some long, drawn out, other thing? A couple of folks have thrown down and made it an issue and I think of the "tired jokes" as tribute. But a few and I mean five have made an issue, as far as I can count maybe two Russians.

Is this a case of favoritism, or are Mefites not allowed to make ethnic jokes? I note the thread starts that way. Anyone stumbling in might fire up that engine, even after seeing the few responses, after reading every comment.

This is where the gray is gray. Believe you me, I will never make an ethnic joke on Metafilter again. I will enjoy them when others who are allowed to, make them. This is a part of the mystery shit newer mefites don't get, with good reason.

There has been a great deal of wide open, fun riffing in here traditionally. Is that only open to a certain possey anymore? If a post begins with, "Y'all get back in here!" then one person gets miffed over cultural appropriation, and his buddy throws down, does the whole meme have to stop?
posted by Oyéah at 7:09 PM on September 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


Wow, I feel like I managed to leave the "jokes based on ethnicity are funny" thing behind me after about my freshman year in high school, which to be honest, was about ten years too late.
posted by MoonOrb at 7:12 PM on September 2, 2015 [5 favorites]


No, we all have humor, learning about the humor of other cultures and countries is important to understanding. Making jokes is not immature, it is a high art and often a way of surviving oppression. Sharing jokes across all ways of living is good stuff. Learning about humor is excellent, sharing it trying to learn it as a part of language is good too.

Even making bad jokes shows us the holes in our understanding, with luck they are a mirror for us to see our prejudices.

Humor even ethnic humor is not immature, that depends entirely on intent, delivery, and mutual understanding.
posted by Oyéah at 7:21 PM on September 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


I don't know how mysterious it is when one or more people say "I hate that, it makes me feel bad, and it's so fucking tired already, please stop." There is no mystery there. People you are making ethnic or other kinds of jokes like that about are right here in the room, and even though I've never met griphus and may never, he said please stop and so, okay, I will do my best to keep it in mind. It is not really a huge effort to refrain from making "in Soviet Russia..." jokes, you know?

On preview: Intent is not magic.
posted by rtha at 7:25 PM on September 2, 2015 [21 favorites]


It's not the humor that is mature or immature. It's the ability to distinguish when making a joke is more important than hurting someone's feelings. Jokes based on ethnicity skew heavily toward that type of situation; reaching this understanding was, for me, a marker of maturity in part because I learned that it was often appropriate to subordinate my own desire to have a laugh to the feelings of people who may not share the same ethnicity as me.
posted by MoonOrb at 7:33 PM on September 2, 2015 [10 favorites]


Yeah, but the post starts that way. It is not like I am dying to make stale jokes, but would I walk into the laundromat thread and say I hate laundromats, this has to stop? No, I would think oh yeah a laundromat thread, again, I will go to the nuklear holocost thread instead.
posted by Oyéah at 7:35 PM on September 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


Christ we're not all lemmings that have to continue with the same joke over and over again because the post starts that way.
posted by MoonOrb at 7:37 PM on September 2, 2015 [3 favorites]


Is it a sign of maturity to be manipulated by complaint? Is it a sign of maturity to go along with social pressure? No one is having hurt feelings here over stale jokes, stale memes. This is an issue of social control, a group dynamic. It has naught to do with maturity, not mine, or anyone elses'. This is not a ladies tea.

This post is about how to help newbies navigate, it really can't get all mysterious accusatory, and fall apart over miffidness, unless you really want to lay down that this place is awash in social nuance, shading and misunderstanding, masquerading as taking the high road.
posted by Oyéah at 7:44 PM on September 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


> This post is about how to help newbies navigate, it really can't get all mysterious accusatory,

Seriously, what is mysterious?

> awash in social nuance

oh no not that
posted by rtha at 7:46 PM on September 2, 2015 [4 favorites]


There are few things I enjoy more than making lamearse jokes with little provocation, but if someone specifically tells me not to because my jokes are terrible then I'm pretty happy to stop, the idea of a joke being to provide some form of amusement. I wouldn't take it too personally, Oyéah. Probably best just to stop.
posted by h00py at 7:50 PM on September 2, 2015 [19 favorites]


I guess I really hadn't taken seriously the contention that griphus's request that people not make jokes about his ethnicity was in fact a beard for his true purpose of social manipulation and hijacking this MeTa for his own mysterious reasons.
posted by MoonOrb at 7:51 PM on September 2, 2015 [3 favorites]


You know, I've been thinking about this FAQ thing. I hear a lot of people annoyed that people don't read the FAQ, but the FAQ is supposed to be "we get this question a lot, so we put the answer here so that if you're wondering the answer to this question, you can find the answer here." I only read FAQs when I have a question. I see if my question is there and if it is I read the answer. Maybe if I see something else interesting I look around a bit, but mostly I want the answer to the question I already had.

An FAQ isn't meant to be a document you have to read before using the whatever-the-faq-is-for. Have you read through the entire FAQ on your ISPs web site? Did you go online and read the FAQ for your printer? Who preemtively reads FAQs?

So why call it an FAQ if that's not actually what it is? If it's meant to be read pre-emptively, rename it and put it in people's view when they join. Why not put this kind of information in a PDF call it the "Metafilter New Members' Guide" and email it to new members, in addition to making that information available on the web site.

Obviously everyone won't read the whole thing before interacting with the site, but I bet most people will skim it. And even being aware that the document exists plants the idea that there's more to the culture than "just jump in," and having it delivered pre-emptively means people know it exists. I realize the letters "FAQ" are right at the top of the site, but I wouldn't have guessed its relevant if I don't have a question, and it's also just really easy to not notice. Getting it in your mailbox is harder to miss.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 7:52 PM on September 2, 2015 [6 favorites]


This post is about learning the culture of Metafilter, and helping newbies and others navigate and understand. I think squashing humor is a bad example, inside a post like this. I think showing tolerance for bad jokes, and being non reactive, sticking on the task of the post is better. A lot of posts run with a humor subtext, an insider subtext, and a seriously on topic main text. It makes the place what it is.
posted by Oyéah at 7:55 PM on September 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


Why not put this kind of information in a PDF call it the "Metafilter New Members' Guide" and email it to new members, in addition to making that information available on the web site.

The FAQ should be the content of your profile before you figure out how to change it in your preferences.
posted by carsonb at 7:56 PM on September 2, 2015 [4 favorites]


People are not making jokes about any one person's ethnicity. That is not happening in this post. Seriously.
posted by Oyéah at 7:59 PM on September 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


Oyeah, a Russian (nicely, humorously) asked people to drop the "in Soviet Russia" jokes. You are doubling down and going all SILENCED ALL MY LIFE. Do you walk up to groups of people beating on a kid on the playground, join in the punching, and, when he says, "Stop punching me!" say, "Sorry, can't do that, the punching was already going on when I got here, if I stopped it would be like denying the beauty of the world that's found in the true human expression of punching styles shared across many cultures."?

Go make a new MeTa if you really, really need to talk about whether it's okay to keep making ethnic jokes after someone in the target ethnic group asks you to cut it out. And if you do so, and you have a point that you are trying to get across here, other than "I don't want to stop making ethnic jokes when someone asks me to," you're going to have to get a lot more clear. But personally I advise you that YOU ARE IN A HOLE. STOP DIGGING.

And the thread shouldn't have been titled what it is; it's dumb, unrelated to the topic, borderline offensive, and doesn't follow the format of the Yakov Smirnoff jokes so it's not even funny.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:13 PM on September 2, 2015 [45 favorites]


Is it a sign of maturity to be manipulated by complaint?

It's a sign of maturity to allow other people's feelings to influence your decisions on the way you act around them, yeah.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 8:15 PM on September 2, 2015 [63 favorites]


Before you button there's an opportunity to send the mods a note.

My butler said the same thing to me!
posted by juiceCake at 8:16 PM on September 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


Do you walk up to groups of people beating on a kid on the playground, join in the punching, and, when he says, "Stop punching me!" say, "Sorry, can't do that, the punching was already going on when I got here, if I stopped it would be like denying the beauty of the world that's found in the true human expression of punching styles shared across many cultures."?

Count me as someone who would like to see less of this regardless of whether the person getting the beating "deserved" it or it was all in good fun in the tradition of Metafilter or not.
posted by thetortoise at 8:23 PM on September 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


I always say the same thing about deletions. It may not be precisely, 100% true, but it has served me well as a good way of looking at them.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:23 PM on September 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


Maybe the new member fee could be $10 with an immediate $5 rebate if you click through the FAQ.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:26 PM on September 2, 2015 [5 favorites]


Didn't Smirnov play a Cosmonaut in 2010. Told jokes to John Lithgow while on a space walk?

I love that movie.
posted by clavdivs at 8:26 PM on September 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


If I got a "welcome to metafilter" email with a flipping PDF in it I'd ask for a refund. Is this site and its culture THAT hard to unpack? Seriously?

I think that if a post is deleted, the OP deserves a notification that it happened and a concise reason why, sent to the email they have on file. If they don't have an email on file, that's on them.

Put a strongly worded message on the sign up page that says "there's a site culture here that's been evolving for 15 years. Abide by it, please, and expect ramifications if you don't make an effort. Your path to success begins at our FAQ page. Thank you".
posted by disclaimer at 8:54 PM on September 2, 2015 [7 favorites]


I think this.. interesting exercise on different peoples' reactions to pointing out something is inappropriate highlights one of the issues on MetaFilter which no amount of FAQing off will manage - some people respond to social cues against their behavior, either explicit or implicit, by doubling down on standing against The Controlling People, and I think this is a trait a lot of the people attracted to MetaFilter's beanplating discussion ways naturally have. You can't correct for this in a FAQ because the FAQ becomes just another thing to rebel against, to show one can think for oneself in a noisy, public manner.
posted by Deoridhe at 9:06 PM on September 2, 2015 [15 favorites]


People are not making jokes about any one person's ethnicity. That is not happening in this post. Seriously.

That is absolutely specifically happening in this post. Or it was. It's not any more.

I think showing tolerance for bad jokes, and being non reactive, sticking on the task of the post is better.

If this is what you think Metafilter's culture is, you need to take a good hard look at your participation here and how well your behavior is being received. We're always available at the contact form to discuss things.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 9:07 PM on September 2, 2015 [10 favorites]


Looking back at the knowgood thread, I see most of it was devoted to wedding congratulations and addressing the OP's insults to the mods and characterization of the site. There wasn't that much vicious in it. I think I'm just sensitive to mocking people's ability to communicate. Anyway, I'm going to take Eyebrows McGee's good advice and nope out of this one too. I'm a wimp and the "good first post, everybody!" MeTa is more my speed.
posted by thetortoise at 9:15 PM on September 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


Pivoting away from the increasingly massive derail re. a cheesy 80s comedian, (oh metafilter, I love you so) there were a couple things I wanted to respond to. I'm coming around to the point of view that this sort of catastrophic introduction to the community isn't really that common to worry about it at such length, but let's examine the two case studies that seem to be germane here, which is to say the recent knowgood debacle and MiC's apparently rough start. Full disclosure, I don't know the blow by blow of the latter, but the biggest indicator I could find was that MeTa about struggling to successfully participate in Ask.

Now obviously MiC has become a treasured and important member of this community, so I think many of us are empathetic to the possibility that we might be chasing off someone who could also become a valued member with our usual free-flowing rivers of sass. But those two MeTa threads are night and day! I gather that one Meta on MiC's part wasn't the whole story there, but that was a situation of someone acting completely politely and in good faith struggling to adapt to an idiosyncratic culture and getting some helpful responses and some completely unnecessarily shitty responses, which obviously throws a pallor over the whole thing and isn't great, but let's hold that thought for a second.

Knowgood, on the other hand, led by mocking a community member's gender identity and proceeded to compare the site to Stormfront.

To frame it in my youthful Catholicism, MiC (and many other newbie and even long-standing members, and of course me as well) committed some venal sins. There was confusion about how things are supposed to work, there was temporary anger and frustration, there was awkwardness, and some people were chodes about it. But thankfully we were able to move past that!

Abusing the mods? Throwing huge public tantrums comparing us to neo-nazis for enforcing the simplest of rules? These are much more like mortal sins in my eyes. I get how it feels to wince at the pile-ons. But that person deserved a pile on, because actions have consequences. It is also definitely my practice not to engage in threads with even a soupcon of grar because I don't like the conflict and the meanness and I don't feel like being aerated for my Unpopular Opinions either, but while we do enforce standards of civility and basic human respect--and I deeply value that!--it's also an open forum. It's not okay to attack each other, but the stupid things we say and do are totally fair game and Metafilter wouldn't be the same without it.

Mods ban and timeout very sparingly.

Now correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe I've seen mods talk about the massive amounts of shitty behavior they have to deal with behind the scenes, with endless angry fights over things with a vocal minority of problem users. If this is still the case (or was ever? i might be totally wrong about this) then why the hell are we still putting up with it? Let the mods use their loving, kind, patient and helpful skills with the newbies, or with the generally well-behaved members that are having bad days or occasionally make a dumb decision or step over the line. With the venal sins, in other words. But if people start to get really shitty and want to have a Big Fight and just aren't listening and won't take a walk or taking a walk isn't helping and you get to go through the whole song and dance again a few days later, why are we wasting our time? Short version: wouldn't being a bit more quick to zap people who are not engaging in bad faith or who are flagrantly ignoring fundamental Don't Be An Asshole style guidelines be better for the community and better for the mods? Couldn't it free up time for them to work on things that actually make this community better for everyone instead of constantly trying to soothe screaming, unreasoning infants?

Of course, having said all that I'm probably going to have it gently or not so gently explained to me that That Is Not How It Works At All.
posted by zeusianfog at 9:35 PM on September 2, 2015 [9 favorites]


The tendency to derail every fucking Metafilter with jokes or recipes is annoying and probably ineradicable. But at least we can cut down on jokes that are likely to hurt people's feelings.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 9:35 PM on September 2, 2015 [4 favorites]


I tend to think that the Soviet Russia jokes are pretty low stakes, and that there's a continuum of ethnic humor — my dad's side is all German-Irish, and I'd be annoyed if someone lectured me about those lame family jokes ("too drunk to follow orders"; "world's shortest cookbook") being over the pale. But as far as I can tell, it's not a bunch of Russians making these jokes, there's a history of nasty "Ruskie" Cold War shit, and they're just drilled into the ground at this point. I don't think there's a bright line; I do think Griphus's request was legit and getting het up about how this is MeFi culture to have endless riffs on someone else's ethnicity is tonedeaf and gauche. I can see how getting acculturated to making those jokes — though you'd think dating a Russian comedian would get you over them — but years back Jessamyn asked me to stop making Holocaust jokes. I'd grown up with them because my grandfather's identity as a German who fought the Nazis (including working as a translator on war crimes trials) was heavily connected to black humor about German complicity. I was making jokes for an audience that neither knew nor appreciated that history, and despite it being a regular thing when shooting the shit with my Jewish friends, it made her (and likely others) uncomfortable. So while I still might crack them up with a well-timed boxcar allusion, I dropped it here because I both didn't want to make her uncomfortable over something that wasn't an integral part of my life and because I come across as an asshole enough other times that I wasn't wild about people thinking of me as "that oblivious Holocaust asshole" too.

I wouldn't want Griphus thinking of me as "that oblivious Soviet Russia asshole," which I think is a different question from whether MeTa has to become a "ladies tea." I'm less likely to want a MeFi that's a coffeeshop, bookstore or library (to choose some other popular model analogies), and more likely to think of MeFi like a local bar. I still laugh at the operatic profanity of the MeFi Cub Scouts, and do think that sometimes the moderation here can lean toward too genteel and mature. But while I don't have any problem with calling someone an itinerant pig fucker, too incompetent to even maintain salaried pig fucking, this is just free floating anti-totalitarian snark that's at least 20 years out of date and reinforces a weird, outdated stereotype of Russians that actual Russians here are annoyed by. Maybe someday they'll be funny again — maybe Griphus will make some. Until then, it's not some "social control" about in-group/out-group, and n3wbs should hopefully take the message that MeFites have enough other lame joke formulae to run into the ground that we can be generous with this one.

If you need help getting started:

MetaFilter: You know who else same as in town? Ate them plums, hamburger.
posted by klangklangston at 10:04 PM on September 2, 2015 [4 favorites]


"To frame it in my youthful Catholicism, MiC (and many other newbie and even long-standing members, and of course me as well) committed some venal sins. There was confusion about how things are supposed to work, there was temporary anger and frustration, there was awkwardness, and some people were chodes about it. But thankfully we were able to move past that!"

Better suited to the indulgences of SA, surely?
posted by klangklangston at 10:05 PM on September 2, 2015


I survived that Idaho traffic and fixed my caps lock key, so, some catching-up thoughts on some of the stuff in here:

1. Deletion notifications

I'm pretty strongly disinclined toward the idea of automated comment deletion notifications (LobsterMitten laid some of that out pretty well up-thread), less strongly but still kinda disinclined toward automated post deletion stuff. With posts I could see the scale being manageable and the utility being a little more significant if we did decide to go in that direction.

But I do also think we could talk as a team about being a little more proactive about sending personalized notes to newer users about deletions; as LM noted, that's something that does already happen sometimes, but it probably wouldn't hurt for us to try and do so a little more often, basically just widen the pool of cases where "yup, send a note" is the call the deleting mod makes. And that fits well the case-by-case approach we take to most things here. Some folks will need more guidance or reassurance or orientation than others, and that's something we do already try to keep an eye out for but can look harder at.

I think there is a lot of value in this place being something that's pretty thoroughly documented and depends on users doing a certain amount of self-motivated education based on what's available, so I see this more as something in nudge territory than any kind of major upheaval of policy and practice. But it's worth us at least actively chewing on, for sure.

2. FAQ and new user documentation

So, yeah: we have a lot of words. LM mentioned that reworking FAQ and welcome material stuff is already hanging around on the todo list and it's something we should definitely work on this fall (and she in particular has a strong knack for the kind of editorial and organizational writing that that kind of project will benefit from). I think identifying the Seriously, These Are The Ten Most Frequently Asked Questions subset of the FAQ and setting that out as the super accessible pre-amble to which the FAQ as it exists is more the detailed supplement would be a good start.

And really in general that's a way of thinking about communicating site stuff in our documentation that I think would work well, and I agree basically all around with the idea of simplifying the stuff that's the first things a new or confused user might reach for. I love that we have so much info, in the FAQ and on the wiki and in the Metatalk archives and so on, but it definitely suffers from being pretty flat and broad in its presentation.

A more explicit telescoping of that content feels like a good possible solution. Take all the stuff we want to communicate, and then say, okay, but now let's do that in 10% of the space. And then again, in 10% of that. And then present those things to users as "here's the concise verison, but there's more detail here".

The FAQ right now has, geez, 23K words on it? That includes some cruft and duplicated content, but still, on the order of 20K words. Which is great, as a big detailed information resource, but we could probably hit a lot of the most important stuff in more like 2K. And certainly there's a few hundred words that could hit the five or six major participatory guidelines/theories with links to details. That sort of thing.

3. Contentious critical metatalks

This is a pickle and one we're going to have to keep sorting out. Partly because different folks, all good-faith members of the site, have differing feelings about what Metatalk should be for and how much harsh inter-user criticism or criticism of the site should be allowed, partly because there just is a difficulty with trying both to be transparent and to save confused or grumpy users from themselves.

It doesn't feel great to be in a position of basically giving someone enough rope. But it's also a problem to say "no, you can't use the part of the site where people air criticism to air your criticism". So the balance is always going to be tough to find in the situations where someone is basically pretty insistent on stating their case badly.

In the recent previous thread, I think restless_nomad had no great options, and I think putting it through was a reasonable choice, and I think that all in all the thread wasn't nearly as bad as it could have been or, ten years ago, would have been. But I also don't think the dynamic between the poster and the rest of the users was always great, and I understand where folks uncomfortable with the whole thing are coming from.

Ways we could have approached it differently include:

(a) riding herd a lot harder in the thread to remind people to not be occasionally crappy even if they're responding to someone's own crappy behavior. Easier said than done in this case since it was a weird week where one of the folks who would be tagging in on that work was driving cross-country and not able to do much more than occasionally shout in all caps about archaic verb forms. And again that thread really wasn't terrible in my eyes. Just also hardly exemplary, once you filter out all the happy goofiness about the engagement news.

(b) just up and telling the poster that they could talk to us about it more first and/or post a better-framed complaint but that their first go was a bad idea. Which would have been okay too if r_n had wanted to go that way, but it's also about as literally picking a fight as a mod task can be—denying a grumpy, unreasonable user the public recourse they think they have when what they're grumpy about is you doing your job is kind of asking to be shat on, which understandably colors the decision-making process some. Doesn't mean we can't or oughtn't do it, but there's a point where the obligation to be a human sponge for someone's bullshit to save them from themselves gets to looking kind of unreasonable and even unhealthy vs. just saying, fine, have the public feedback you think you want.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:09 PM on September 2, 2015 [18 favorites]


That made me sad, but that folder appears to be full of strange, eldritch gems.

God, there's stuff in there that I can't even remember when I made or why. What the fuck is Don't Mess With KRESKIN about?
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:15 PM on September 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


It's about to be my new desktop background, is what it's about.
posted by zeusianfog at 10:17 PM on September 2, 2015 [5 favorites]


"It doesn't feel great to be in a position of basically giving someone enough rope. But it's also a problem to say "no, you can't use the part of the site where people air criticism to air your criticism". So the balance is always going to be tough to find in the situations where someone is basically pretty insistent on stating their case badly."

MeFi members are by and large adults. They're not tricked into making MeTa posts, they're assholes of their own free will so far as it exists. The pile-ons can be tacky, but at a certain point in order for people to actually be making their own decisions, you have to let them make their own decisions even if you know better. Or: I recently was consulting with a non-profit board on their mission statement. The way I recapped it to the ED was, "Well, sure, if you buy those pants, you can wear 'em anywhere you like." As a member, most anything about MetaFilter should fit as a MeTa, even if it's dumber than Keanu dialogue or likely to provoke more asshole choruses than Antigone.
posted by klangklangston at 10:43 PM on September 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


I like my MeFites like I like my coffee, by and large.
posted by nom de poop at 10:47 PM on September 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


It doesn't feel great to be in a position of basically giving someone enough rope.

COUNTER POINT: cortex, they bought their memberships, they knew what they were getting into. I say, let 'em flame out.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 11:06 PM on September 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


No. of choruses in Antigone = 1.
posted by Wolof at 11:08 PM on September 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


God, there's stuff in there that I can't even remember when I made or why.

If anyone’s looking to make some sweet cortex/jessamyn/matthowie mashups, has cortex got the directory of audio files for you!
posted by Going To Maine at 11:21 PM on September 2, 2015


Also, please update this graph.
posted by Going To Maine at 11:24 PM on September 2, 2015


or people who remember being a new member (especially in the last couple years): what would have been helpful in terms of helping you to understand the culture/moderation/etc here?

At the risk of it being too far downstream to answer this question--

I've been reading Metafilter for a very very long time, and have always appreciated the blue. For much of that long time, the commenting culture put me off from 1) joining and 2) actively participating.

I think last year I started reading the site regularly again and noticed that there had been quite a few changes to the moderation policies and these made it much more attractive to me to jump in and participate (so good work, at least from my point of view!). I've only recently started publishing FPPs, and I really really appreciated the FAQ-- it helped me quite a bit to try to understand the posting culture.

People can be mean unintentionally here-- mostly failing to realise that if someone is already hurt, then a long string of jokes which seem to rub that hurt in can make that a lot worse. But honestly, I'd much rather have that kind of culture (smart, verbal and playful) then most comment sections out on the Internet today.
posted by frumiousb at 11:37 PM on September 2, 2015 [8 favorites]


"No. of choruses in Antigone = 1."

Sophocles, Euripides, Aeschylus… Cocteau, Brecht, Mendelssohn, Orff…
posted by klangklangston at 12:45 AM on September 3, 2015


People are not making jokes about any one person's ethnicity. That is not happening in this post. Seriously.
posted by Oyéah at 10:59 PM on September 2


Huh, it's interesting to see that you are capable of communicating in normal English when you want to be understood. I'd assumed not. Pity you decided to be clear and concise in your defense of making ethnic jokes, of all the stupid things.
posted by winna at 4:41 AM on September 3, 2015 [14 favorites]


Did the person who posted it* have fun doing it? Not fun in a hee hee way, but fun in the hotblooded rush of satisfaction at being able to publicly correct someone else's error?

do you not have friends or is it that you're okay with having people shit on them and their feelings? just wondering!
posted by poffin boffin at 5:30 AM on September 3, 2015 [6 favorites]


So... I'm wondering if people who feel the Soviet Russia jokes are not ethnic jokes feel that way because they interpret them the same way I do (or did up to now)? Specifically, that they're taking a shot at the government and/or surveillance state, and not at the Russian people or culture?

Now that I know there are people who feel differently about who is the target of these jokes, of course I'll refrain from making them here. Just thinking that differing views on this point may be the source of the conflict within this thread.
posted by FishBike at 5:40 AM on September 3, 2015 [6 favorites]


How about this: "In conservative America, jokes tell you!"
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:49 AM on September 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


As an alternative for mocking idiotic government actions?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:50 AM on September 3, 2015


An FAQ isn't meant to be a document you have to read before using the whatever-the-faq-is-for.

I feel like FAQs are more likely to be required reading for things that involve people interacting. I like to look at hobby specific message boards for reviews of equipment related to those hobbies, and one thing that seems pretty consistent is that they all have big notes up top saying "Before posting read the FAQ". I think Ask has way more in common with those than with the examples you gave.

Although, in looking at the Ask FAQ linked at the top of the "Post a new question page" it's not really organized well, doesn't have an index of questions up top for easy navigation, and is generally less friendly than that general faq linked at the bottom of the pages. Is there any reason the mods couldn't just cut and paste the ask part of that page rather than just a nonsorted list of the things with the askmetafilter tag?
posted by Gygesringtone at 5:53 AM on September 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


Huh, it's interesting to see that you are capable of communicating in normal English when you want to be understood. I'd assumed not.

Look, I'm really, really not into the idea of defending ethnic jokes as a noble cause, but this is the kind of smackdown stuff that I'm honestly beyond sick of seeing. If we're going to be all "this is the most intelligent, mature site on the internet," maybe let's not frame our responses around someone's perceived ability to communicate in "normal" English. I'm not OK with that getting a pass just because it's calling someone out.
posted by teponaztli at 6:53 AM on September 3, 2015 [19 favorites]


How about this: "In conservative America, jokes tell you!"

Farce does not require jokes.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:57 AM on September 3, 2015


Specifically, that they're taking a shot at the government and/or surveillance state, and not at the Russian people or culture?

I'm not going to continue rubbing it in after the third or fourth time I'm asked to stop and God knows I can see how someone who grew up in the USSR might find "In Soviet Russia ..." jokes tedious and unfunny in 2015—in much the way I feel about "USian"—but I've never regarded them as "ethnic" jokes as such, more as jokes about a government: in the same vein as "I'm from the government and I'm here to help." Obviously, tho, there's a narrow line there and since there's no way to "police" the intent of a joke it's the sort of thing that can easily come to be conflated with jokes about ethnicity.

maybe let's not frame our responses around someone's perceived ability to communicate in "normal" English

You're right. Garbled Stoner-ish deserves respect, too.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:10 AM on September 3, 2015 [4 favorites]


You're right. Garbled Stoner-ish deserves respect, too.

Alright, you know what? Fuck this, I'm done.
posted by teponaztli at 7:13 AM on September 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


As seen in the thread title and a few of the jokes in thread, they also tend to (poorly) imitate the stereotypical Russian accent. That seems like a poke at ethnicity, not government.
posted by gilrain at 7:13 AM on September 3, 2015 [4 favorites]


In-a da sovieatta russia, the spaghetti, she cook-a you! Mamma Mia! *kisses fingertips*
posted by Greg Nog at 7:22 AM on September 3, 2015 [3 favorites]


For as much as we advise it to newbies, there's a distinct lack of reading the room in this thread.
posted by gilrain at 7:32 AM on September 3, 2015 [15 favorites]


I've previously thought of these as jokes about Yakov Smirnov, like "I am saying a corny joke that we all know is corny, here we are, united in our acknowledgement of the corniness of this thing," like "take my wife" jokes. So I was surprised by the objection, but once it's pointed out that yeah, sometimes they're explicitly actually making fun of some stereotype of Russians, it becomes a lot clearer why the "this is innocent silliness for all" read is not really tenable.

That seems, I don't know, not that hard to accept? This bugs people, it's reasonable to see why it bugs them, so, this is probably not a great venue for those jokes given that they aren't coming across in a friendly enjoyable way, but instead in a kind of jerk way?

-

in looking at the Ask FAQ linked at the top of the "Post a new question page" it's not really organized well

Yeah, so when the new Modern theme came in, it was set up to link to only the FAQ questions for the section of the site you're on rather than the whole thing (the questions tagged for Ask, for example). But the full FAQ is still what you get if you come from Classic or Plain theme. And the two ways of presenting the information haven't been rationalized.

To overhaul the FAQ, it needs to be condensed to be more readable; updated with info about some new stuff/some old stuff deleted; set up so that you can either read the full FAQ or sample just the questions tagged for a given subsite (like Ask) and those appear in a sensible order for that subsite even if they're in a different order in the main FAQ; and also it shouldn't break the million links to specific FAQ questions that have been put into comments here and elsewhere for the last 16 years. It's a biggish project and I've been working on it slowly, but I'm taking the push from this thread to get back to it.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 7:37 AM on September 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


In-a da sovieatta russia, the spaghetti, she cook-a you! Mamma Mia! *kisses fingertips*

Who knew that the world needed more Brigate Rosse jokes?
posted by octobersurprise at 7:55 AM on September 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


Sometimes, fellow MeFites may ask us to let go of jokes which are still largely considered culturally benign.

I am okay with ceding these jokes.

I have zero problem with MetaFilter being bleeding edge when it comes to Being Decent and Not Being Unnecessarily Shitty to People.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:00 AM on September 3, 2015 [27 favorites]


[A few comments deleted. It's fine to say things annoy you, it's not fine to be making personal drug accusations. Stop please and reconsider.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 8:28 AM on September 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


in looking at the Ask FAQ linked at the top of the "Post a new question page" it's not really organized well

(Minor followup: pb has pointed out to me that this is about the link from the Ask New Question page, which is the same whether you're in Modern or Classic/Plain. But the ordering-of-information problem is the same.)
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 9:01 AM on September 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


"In-a da sovieatta russia, the spaghetti, she cook-a you! Mamma Mia! *kisses fingertips*"

Now that's a spicy meatball!
posted by klangklangston at 9:12 AM on September 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


Re: the posted idea. It's a community. Try me-mailing other members when they seem to have a problem; maybe you can assist them. Try being thoughtful and polite. When other members make a good post or comment, try a positive comment in the post, a favorite, or a memail; What gets rewarded gets repeated.

We have nods, we have rules, and a wiki, too. But we could also try helping each other out. It's a thought.
posted by Mom at 9:18 AM on September 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


I am a teacher, with a masters degree. I have to pass criminal background checks and drug tests. I like playing with language, dialects, poetry, etc. I love this language and others.

The not so subtle accusations about drug use, stoner garble, whatever else is projected onto me well, it is a public place, you can enter for a five dollar fee. People entertain themselves all kinds of ways here, it is a buffet of ideas and exchange.

Not liking your type, yeah, Russian is written with a different alphabet. Pretty mild stuff, about language structure. Was that a little too subtle, or was it just the typical nudge for sanctioned dog-piling?
posted by Oyéah at 9:40 AM on September 3, 2015


Honestly, sometimes the underlying issue here is that people just aren't a good fit for the site. I can see how a bit of a bumpy road to getting adjusted is possible if you don't spend a lot of time lurking, because we do have a pretty unique culture. It shouldn't be required to spend years reading before you post, and it's a good thing that on the whole we are very willing to answer questions from new members and help them understand that unique culture. But if someone raises a question/complaint about MetaFilter and then disagrees with mod and user responses, thinks the culture needs to change despite unanimous disagreement, won't or even can't change problematic behaviors for whatever reason, believes the site should be for something it isn't for (like structured debate or open polling), complains about "censorship" or "political correctness"...

...then MetaFilter is probably a bad fit for that person, and they are probably in turn a bad fit for MetaFilter. I know the mods here do a lot of work to be very understanding, and in a lot of ways I appreciate that, but I don't really see what good it does for the community to repeatedly attempt to help people who have a fundamental disconnect about what the site is for. It's stressful for the poster who feels piled on, it's stressful for mods who need to respond, it's stressful for members of the community who are trying to engage in good faith. We have this sense on MetaFilter that only outright nasty/insulting behavior is a bannable offense, whereas I really think mods recognize the warning signs and should disable accounts before people get nasty and insulting. And as a community, we can start by asking people "What do you expect to get out of MetaFilter?" and try to get a clear answer so we can gently steer people in better directions if what they expect is, by design, just not going to happen.
posted by capricorn at 10:07 AM on September 3, 2015 [7 favorites]


I am not at my best. I have skimmed new replies and I want to make two points for now:

A) My mother grew up in Communist East Germany, thus she was required to take like four years of Russian in public school. I can count to ten in Russian. I have close blood relatives who speak English with a thick German accent. I believe that part of my social friction is rooted in the degree to which I write non standard English, heavily influenced by German grammatical construction, never mind that I am not that fluent in German.

So the title is partly self deprecating humor. I intentionally changed it from Soviet Russia to Soviet Metafilter in hopes of heading off ethnic jokes, which I mostly think are in poor taste.

B) Deletions and new members:
One of my early experiences was rewriting the same answer three times because I honest to god believed that a combination of being sick as hell plus having technical difficulties had caused them to just disappear into the ether. It never crossed my mind that they had been deleted by a mod. In a previous forum, all deletioins were followed by a mod note. Comments didn't simply disappear. It was a hugely negative experience to then be crabbed at by a mod privately. I strongly suspect that incident helped convince the mods that I was intentionally being an asshole and that helped make it an uphill battle for me.

So I think as a minimum, new people should at least be told in a friendly way that deletions are a Thing here, that it isn't automatically a big deal but sometimes can become a big deal, here are links to resources that might help you if you feel you need help.

The current deletion policy is largely driven by the assumption that the world is full of assholes and we see no reason to invite mod abuse. I agree with not inviting mod abuse. But when a policy is too strongly influenced by an assumption that people are being assholes, it creates problems unnecessarily. It means that new people are sometimes being met with an assumotion of guilt rather than an assumption of innocence and it subtly can create an atmosphere of fear in some situations.

When my youngest son got old enough to play with his brother, they fought a lot. It quickly occured to me that they had no idea how to play together. I spent a week sitting on the floor with them as much as possible and actively taught them to play together. It was hard to carve out the time to do that. It interfered with me getting other things done that week. But after that, things ran a lot smoother. It was worth the investment of time. I stopped having my day constantly interrupted by the need to intercede in their fights.

I don't think you can avoid spending community resources on dealing with a problem like this. There will be a cost. Deciding you can't be bothered equates to letting it grow quietly in the background until someone blows a gasket and demands your time and energy. The only decision to be made is where and how you expend those community resources and the quality of experience it buys you. The small number of people blowing a gasket publicly does not look to me like a few statistical outliers that the community shouldn't worry about. It looks to me like evidence for what is being swept under the rug and that more people are suffering, but not enough to blow a gasket in public.

Anyway, I will stop there in hopes that less is more, as it often is in my case.
posted by Michele in California at 10:13 AM on September 3, 2015 [5 favorites]


Switching from Russian to Italian when stereotyping.... really doesn't help.
posted by Deoridhe at 10:40 AM on September 3, 2015 [6 favorites]


So I think as a minimum, new people should at least be told in a friendly way that deletions are a Thing here, that it isn't automatically a big deal but sometimes can become a big deal, here are links to resources that might help you if you feel you need help.

It's in the FAQ. FAQs.

One of my early experiences was rewriting the same answer three times because I honest to god believed that a combination of being sick as hell plus having technical difficulties had caused them to just disappear into the ether. It never crossed my mind that they had been deleted by a mod.

Framing this story in this way (paraphrasing), I thought it was a technical glitch or that I was sick and missing something. But no a mod deleted it! doesn't fairly describe what happened. You thought the comment wasn't posting correctly because of a technical glitch or a health glitch. It didn't occur to you that the content of your comment was the glitch.

The current deletion policy is largely driven by the assumption that the world is full of assholes and we see no reason to invite mod abuse.

My experiences do not match your assertion.

I don't think you can avoid spending community resources on dealing with a problem like this. There will be a cost. Deciding you can't be bothered equates to letting it grow quietly in the background until someone blows a gasket and demands your time and energy. The only decision to be made is where and how you expend those community resources and the quality of experience it buys you.

Who is this 'you' you keep referring to? Who's avoiding spending community resources? Who is cutting 'costs'? Who has decided they can't be bothered? And about what, exactly, aren't they bothering?

People don't have gaskets, but they have feelings and their own personal realities that influence the way they act and come across online. Side or moderation policy can only go so far in addressing this unfortunate fact. In my opinion the moderators' willingness to address each issue individually—personally, if you will—rather than rely upon rules or policies is a HUGE expenditure of 'resources' in pursuit of a smooth-running, welcoming community.

Deoridhe: Switching from Russian to Italian when stereotyping.... really doesn't help.

And I would say that in this particular discussion drive-by shaming isn't gonna cut the mustard either. Be engaging and say what you mean, or what you would like to have happen instead of just decrying other people's comments. Please.
posted by carsonb at 10:48 AM on September 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


new people should at least be told in a friendly way that deletions are a Thing here

Someone upthread suggested a programmatic solution to this, i.e., if the deleted comment is the first or second deletion for that user, drop them a line. Fairly easy to implement (I'm guessing), but is there a philosophical objection to automated mod messages for comments?
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 10:58 AM on September 3, 2015


Alright, you know what? Fuck this, I'm done.

This thread is a horror show, in that it was intended to come up with ways to welcome new members and has instead become a shouting match over "In Soviet Russia Jokes", general reversal jokes, and at least one person publicly re-flaming out. Burn this thread down, start a new one, and everyone think about what you’ve done.
posted by Going To Maine at 11:07 AM on September 3, 2015 [3 favorites]


MiC, on a personal note, as we've said many times before: We did not think you were an asshole. We've told you this many times and you keep saying this. We thought you were having a very hard time fitting in because of your personal way of engaging, and we worked on that with you at extreme length despite ongoing accusations that we hate you or are out to get you or whatever. You've gotten more private mod feedback than just about anybody. Whatever was happening in your arrival here it was not "lack of helpful attention from mods."

It never crossed my mind that they had been deleted by a mod. [...] It was a hugely negative experience to then be crabbed at by a mod privately.

This illustrates a problem. You didn't know what was going on, so mods should clarify! But then when they do clarify, they're being mean or crabbing. Feedback should be public, not private, because private feels too pointedly critical. Except also it should be private, to avoid public shaming. There's kind of a no-right-way-to-tell-a-new-person-they're-not-fitting-in problem here.

I agree with the intent here to be more welcoming and clear with new people, and I get that introductory interactions can feel harsh when you don't know anybody. It's a good point to keep in mind.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 11:11 AM on September 3, 2015 [37 favorites]



Honestly, sometimes the underlying issue here is that people just aren't a good fit for the site.


I think this is an important point. And that good-fit determination often happens early in the game meaning that there are some bumpy adjustments that are often made with new users (or newly interacting even if longer time users). And one of the possible outcomes has to be "This is not the place for you" And really I think some people are uncomfortable with that in a geek social fallacies sort of way. But having a place with any rules at all really means that some people are going to be okay with those guidelines and some are not. And some will find ways to work within them and some will not.

does not look to me like a few statistical outliers that the community shouldn't worry about.

That's exactly how it looks to me. Not that we shouldn't care about outliers at all, but there needs to be consideration about how much of the limited site resources should be spent on making sure a small number of people don't have a bad user experience.

I strongly suspect that incident helped convince the mods that I was intentionally being an asshole and that helped make it an uphill battle for me.

Your read on these interactions is very different than the read that any of the mod team had at the time. You feel what you feel and that's fine, but I will again state that your feelings about how we were feeling are not grounded in substance. You can fold that in to your recollection of events or not, but when you're making assertions about how other people were thinking about you, I think it's kosher to step in and say "That is not how we felt" and we can reflect on whether we were representing ourselves effectively and you can reflect on whether you were reading things in to what we said.

I always liked our goofy orientation page on the wiki.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 11:19 AM on September 3, 2015 [17 favorites]


Deoridhe: Switching from Russian to Italian when stereotyping.... really doesn't help.

carbonb: And I would say that in this particular discussion drive-by shaming isn't gonna cut the mustard either. Be engaging and say what you mean, or what you would like to have happen instead of just decrying other people's comments. Please.


I'm not Deoridhe, but I presume it was in reference to this -- "In-a da sovieatta russia, the spaghetti, she cook-a you! Mamma Mia! *kisses fingertips*" -- and this -- "Now that's a spicy meatball!," both of which came after LobsterMitten's earlier note (in response to a different person, but also intended generally, I think) to "[M]aybe lay off the Russia jokes since we were just talking about how they're not always so funny to folks actually from Russia?"

I was thinking about saying something when Deoridhe commented, and might have done so but for that comment. It's kind of aggravating to have a public discussion about not making Russian jokes and then have people immediately respond to it by making Italian (or really, Italian-American) jokes -- it's not a huge deal, they're not particularly offensive jokes, but it felt jarring and off-putting in the context of the earlier discussion.
posted by cjelli at 11:19 AM on September 3, 2015 [6 favorites]


And yeah, if folks could just drop the "jokey ethnic jokes but not really ha ha no but yes" thing, that would be helpful since it's clearly just antagonizing people. And I don't know that we need to litigate the issue of "are ethnic jokes ok if they're just really tired or if other conditions are met."

The objection to the Smirnov joke has been registered, maybe we can nudge this back toward the "easing the path for new people" thing.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 11:21 AM on September 3, 2015 [12 favorites]


How are people still doing the ethnic jokes?

Because the internet strips conversations of background and tone, you can't tell if a person is making a joke because they have personally experienced something and have a stake in the matter, or if they're just being sorta racist. And it's a very common refrain that people who are just "making a comment on the social structure/government!" have not really done the personal thought to properly gauge the effects of either typing or reading the joke. It's the sort of internet default that makes many places more friendly to racists than to people presenting rational arguments.

And I am highly against the hateful comments against new members. It feels good to read this sort of rage, but it doesn't serve much purpose to have it here for everyone to read. Just vent in private, please. I especially object to arguments improperly suggesting that a person is a troll, and then dismissively telling others to not take it in good faith. (There's ways to tell people empathically that they're being incredibly out there.) Perhaps it's personal, but while I don't react too much to being called stupid or ignorant, saying that my arguments cannot possibly be truthfully said by anyone means that you see me as someone who can never be considered a human conversation partner.
posted by halifix at 11:22 AM on September 3, 2015 [8 favorites]


The mods have made it clear some people do not first read the FAQ, even if sent the link in a Welcome email. So my point is that the first few deletions could be handled proactively from an assumption this person is clueless. This framing of the problem space is one I tried to make clear in the MeTa. In spite of saying clearly that I am not interested in rehashing my history, I was asked point blank for my thoughts on what would work based on that history. I really would appreciate it if people would refrain from critiquing that example in a manner that just paints me as some kind of problem child. It is a subtle form of personal attack.

That experience informs my framing of the problem space. It is fine if people think that is some bizarro statisical outlier. But my view is other people derail these discussions and make them about me and it doesn't matter how I respond to that. Then I get accused of being an attention whore and doing it on purpose.

The fact that it is hard to change such dynamics once they get started is why I wrote this MeTa. I am more qualified than most to handle such problems and I still feel burdened by the fallout from those early experiences. Most people will not know how to redeem themselves in the eyes of the community or sidestep the inevitable social traps that grow out of it. If moderating is not about trying to root out shitty social traps, then it is in danger of becoming like a police state, where everyone is held to be under suspicion and people feel compelled to report on others in self defense. I have participated in online communities run like that. They aren't healthy spaces.

LM, with all due respect, I do not believe you were a mod at the time. I am well aware that the mods have given generously of their time to me. I sincerely appreciate that. The example I gave was intended to illustrate the point that current policy fosters situations that make both sides feel pretty negatively about the outcome. It wasn't intended to accuse the mods of anything. I understand why it looked bad to the mods. My hope is that illucidating what it looks like on the recieving end will help shape policy that prevents the mods from having to do that much hand holding with anyone else.
posted by Michele in California at 11:24 AM on September 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


LobsterMitten: There's kind of a no-right-way-to-tell-a-new-person-they're-not-fitting-in problem here.

That is a fascinating problem. I feel like we should talk about databases and relational links to perk up cortex's ears, because being able to privately point to a discussion the site has had on the problem publicly in the past would be a powerful tool for that. Then again, feelings, realities, little to no control over that stuff.

cjelli: It's kind of aggravating to have a public discussion about not making Russian jokes and then have people immediately respond to it by making Italian (or really, Italian-American) jokes -- it's not a huge deal, they're not particularly offensive jokes, but it felt jarring and off-putting in the context of the earlier discussion.

Yes, definitely. It's also an opportunity to deal with those aggravations gracefully and thoughtfully (which I'm quite sure the aggravants would love to see) rather than glibly or sneeringly in kind.
posted by carsonb at 11:28 AM on September 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


MetaFilter, I served with Yakov Smirnoff . I knew Yakov Smirnoff . Yakov Smirnoff was a friend of mine.

MetaFilter, you're no Yakov Smirnoff .
posted by Atom Eyes at 11:34 AM on September 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


saying that my arguments cannot possibly be truthfully said by anyone means that you see me as someone who can never be considered a human conversation partner.

Ouch. Thanks for that, halifix. I'm going to keep that in mind.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 11:35 AM on September 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


In looking over the New User page, I was struck by how it links to 'the Guidelines,' when there's actually two separate sets of Guidelines -- those, for MeFi, and these for AskMe. The AskMe guidelines are linked to from the FAQ page, but neither the New User Page, the About page, nor the Mefi Guidelines page links to the FAQ. Neither of the guidelines link to each other, either.

While I agree entirely that new users can't be expected to read the guidelines, nor the FAQ (I've been here for years and years and I've never read it in its entirety), it seems like it might be helpful to at least some people to spruce up the New User and Guidelines pages to make things clearer for those who do read them. The simplest thing would be to put some of the New User FAQ information into the New User page, viz --
1. Explain that there are different expectations for MeFi and AskMe (and also include a brief rundown of subsites),
2. Link to the guidelines for different subsites, not only for the blue,
3. Link to the FAQ (although I also agree that the FAQ itself could be shortened/reorganized) rather than only linking to MetaTalk (I can't think of anything more intimidating to new members than to suggest that the review prior Metas).

I'd also suggest that the guidelines for each subsite link to the other guidelines with a note that guidelines vary between sites. That's noted (as I noted earlier) in the FAQ, and in MetaTalk fairly often, but not elsewhere. Putting that in the guidelines themselves seems like a good way of increasing visibility for the subset of people who are inclined to seek out guidelines in the first place.

Very generally, I also think the New User page -- which everyone who tries to register sees -- should be updated to reflect MeFi in its entirety; a lot of it, as written, frames things as being about Metafilter (as distinct from AskMe or FanFare or Projects or anything else), but not everyone who signs up is going to be coming in with that framing. I know at least two lurkers who only ever read AskMe; if they were to sign up, the current New User page doesn't even mention the part of the site they actually read.
posted by cjelli at 11:49 AM on September 3, 2015 [4 favorites]


Michele in California: "In spite of saying clearly that I am not interested in rehashing my history, I was asked point blank for my thoughts on what would work based on that history. I really would appreciate it if people would refrain from critiquing that example in a manner that just paints me as some kind of problem child. It is a subtle form of personal attack. "

You say this in literally every metatalk, typically after bringing up your history. It is intensely frustrating.

This is you, bringing it up: "I don't really want to rehash my history here. I will just briefly say that I have some very serious personal problems that routinely cause me social friction, but counterbalancing that I also have a lot of soft skills and I am pretty talented at smoothing things over after I have ruffled feathers. My initial experiences on MetaFilter were pretty negative and I did every last thing people here are saying newbies should do but supposedly don't do, so fuck 'em. I read the FAQ. I read the Wiki. I asked questions of the mods. Nothing was really helping. I did my damnedest and my subjective experience was that everyone was actively trying to make it harder for me, not easier, while blaming me for failing."

You constantly say you don't want anyone to rehash your history (you do it multiple times in this thread alone, but I don't want to be a jerk and pick apart every instance), then you constantly bring up a rewritten version of your history and constantly use as justification for your actions. If you don't want to talk about your own history, stop using it as example, illustration, and justification. If you DO use it as example, illustration, and justification, stop trying to shut down other people when they respond to you bringing it up. It's unfair the way that you bring up personal stories to support your point, and when others disagree with your characterization of events that they were also present for, you demand they stop talking about you and your past. YOU CAN'T HAVE IT BOTH WAYS, and I don't like it when you try to shut down discussion this way or deny the legitimacy of others' points of view. Look, I get it that you're a person who communicates through personal stories and examples, and that's a legitimate mode of communication, it's fine -- but you can't then get angry whenever someone engages with your personal stories and examples.

As I noted in my comment above about your early history on the site (and, yes, I was the one who asked for your thoughts based on your history on the site, as you had already brought up your history on the site): "very frequently in those early days you interpreted helping hands as direct personal attacks" which people were bending over backwards to help you, as jessamyn has reiterated here. People were really nice to you and cut you a lot of slack during very difficult behavior from you. Staff expended disproportionate resources on you. You have not "smoothed things over" with a lot of those people or apologized to people you were nasty to. Most people have, nonetheless, let bygones be bygones on the theory that you were a newbie poster having a difficult time. Your experience is not representative and should not be what MetaFilter's "intake" for new posters is based on, and if you do want to make a start at smoothing those feathers you ruffled when you arrived, stop using this narrative about everyone being jerks to you because a) that is not what happened by anyone else's perception and b) you keep calling everyone here who interacted with you during those difficult months jerks way, way, way after the fact.

I understand that you have health problems and so on and that communication on this site and fitting in to the site culture has not come easy to you. I appreciate that you have done a great deal of work to learn how to do it, and that is laudable. I expect that no other poster has worked as hard as you have to build a productive relationship with the community here. I admire that. I do. However, lots of other people on this site -- most notably the mods -- did a great deal of work to help you learn it, and it's extremely frustrating to hear you dismiss that as "people deciding you were an asshole" when people gave HOURS of their time to helping you. That's really dismissive of the community here.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 11:50 AM on September 3, 2015 [56 favorites]


Thanks for rounding up all those links cjelli, and I fully agree -- the actual documentation that new users see is cobbled together out of things made at different time periods and needs to be streamlined, too. New users see a ton of writing but it's not organized and current in the way it should be. This is all part of the FAQ updating in my mind.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 11:54 AM on September 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


It was written piecemeal too, at least the FAQ, as questions came up (again) and the answers were even sometimes cribbed directly from users' suggestions. He said with pride.
posted by carsonb at 11:57 AM on September 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


saying that my arguments cannot possibly be truthfully said by anyone means that you see me as someone who can never be considered a human conversation partner.

There are people on this site that I would never consider a human conversation partner.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 12:03 PM on September 3, 2015


I just want to throw out that I have never considered FAQs to be standard reading before engaging with a site - I've always considered them the first place to go with question, but never as introductory material. Perhaps I am alone in this, but if I don't have any questions, I'm unlikely to consult a list of answers to questions.
posted by maryr at 12:09 PM on September 3, 2015 [6 favorites]


I especially object to arguments improperly suggesting that a person is a troll, and then dismissively telling others to not take it in good faith. (There's ways to tell people empathically that they're being incredibly out there.) Perhaps it's personal, but while I don't react too much to being called stupid or ignorant, saying that my arguments cannot possibly be truthfully said by anyone means that you see me as someone who can never be considered a human conversation partner.

I . . . don't see anyone saying that about you, though, halifix, so I'm not sure what you're saying here. Is your position that because no one ever comes to MetaFilter to troll / argue in bad faith, we must never accuse anyone of doing so?
posted by Spathe Cadet at 12:09 PM on September 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


saying that my arguments cannot possibly be truthfully said by anyone means that you see me as someone who can never be considered a human conversation partner.

There are people on this site that I would never consider a human conversation partner.

Then you should avoid conversing with them here. FIAMO as needed.
posted by Going To Maine at 12:10 PM on September 3, 2015 [4 favorites]


This thread is a horror show

This thread is a riot. It's only lacking pancake-hatted bunnies and micturating elephants to be among the most meta-talkiest of metatalks. I mean, there's nothing horrific here. Some people are fucking around and some other people are annoyed because some people are fucking around. Even the remarks taken offense to were so mildly offensive that they barely constitute teasing. And most of us have agreed that, yes, the joke is old, and yes, the joke needs to go on in old joke bin. And that's the extent of the horror. Everything else is "You guys ... come on. You aren't being serious ..."

So I'm begging you, please. There's not a lot at stake here. Make not too much of this.

everyone think about what you’ve done.

I only regret that I cannot find a gif of Meg Ryan saying "Jim Morrison, you've ruined another Thanksgiving!"
posted by octobersurprise at 12:32 PM on September 3, 2015 [6 favorites]


Something terrible happened when I was twelve. It ruined my life. It took two decades for me to conclude that this individual whom I had adored as a child did not intend to hurt me, that it was a really terrible misunderstanding. That individual spent years making amends to me. He is a good man who fell down. I know that and I genuinely forgave him. Nonetheless, we are essentially not on speaking terms to this day.

The lesson I got from that is that when good people make a terrible mistake and seriously hurt someone, it can be impossible to normalize relations again. I may never be able to convince some people that I am not attacking them or insulting them when I use my personal experiences to try to illucidate where I think policy here falls down. It seems to not ever be enough to state both publicly and privately how much I value the community and how much respect I have for the mods and appreciate their generosity.

Whether I stay or go, I would like to try to foster policies that will reduce the odds of other people having such a rough introduction to the community, precisely because it is so very hard for both sides to get past. Whether the person is intentionally being difficult or not, it tends to forever more color how other people perceive their words. This is a truism of social psychology. It isn't a MeFi thing.

I will add that I don't think this started as "bad policy." But MetaFilter has grown and changed and what worked when it was smaller seems to be working less well now. So there is zero accusation in my mind aimed at anyone when I say that I think this could be handled better.
posted by Michele in California at 12:39 PM on September 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


posted by the man of twists and turns There are people on this site that I would never consider a human conversation partner.

HELLO I AM A ROBOT AND I WILL CONVERSE WITH YOU HUMAN BEEP BEEP BOOP BEEP
posted by mattdidthat at 12:50 PM on September 3, 2015 [4 favorites]


Sorry for making light of griphus's request. I just find the Branson thing hilarious and wanted to mention it, and I didn't realize there was more at stake than him being sick of a tired joke. Please don't count me in the ranks of those who don't care whether or not people of a given ethnicity are offended by jokes about that ethnicity. (I think there are probably interesting thoughts we could share about when ethnic humor is and is not funny, but this isn't the time or place.)
posted by Area Man at 12:50 PM on September 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


If you think something is in bad faith, yes, flag it. Let the mods decide. They have more information, usually.

This is a general topic about how to perhaps make it easier for new members to join the MetaFilter community, and while I have not experienced it in this thread, it is something that that I definitely remember from another. Stupidity is something which I can slowly fix, but if I'm not even being considered, that's something that makes me reread hours of a thread going "shit, I did something super wrong. Did I massively misread something that's so obvious everyone participating in this convo is implied to have read? ...hey wait no I didn't." I probably would have appreciated then if someone had said "hey, that's not cool." Trolls won't appreciate that, but normal new users will, and that's just my personal opinion on that.

I am pretty privileged though, and perhaps react excessively towards dismissive criticism. I don't have the experience of such dismissive criticism making up the bulk of negative interactions on this site, and thus needing to just avoid certain topics even if they're of interest to me.


And as for people making a big deal out of things, one of the primary rules of discussing and negotiating social rules about an action is to stop doing that action first. If someone announces they feel uncomfortable be a person's action, barring medical conditions, is there any reason to not first back off before discussing? A lot of the disbelief is that we can't abide by this basic rule.
posted by halifix at 12:52 PM on September 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


I've always considered them the first place to go with question, but never as introductory material.

I've previously agreed with this and would just recommend that mods reconsider the introduction text for new sign-ups and the introduction memail text AND putting that intro memail text somewhere on the site also, in order to easily refer people (be they new or old comers), back to it. I envision that text as a pseudo mission statement/welcoming greeter sort of thing, to remind people of what the community is shooting for tone wise with member participation and interactions.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:20 PM on September 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


Whether I stay or go

Maybe instead of going you should consider just not commenting when you are "not at your best". If you feel the need to add some sort of disclaimer before you say something, it's often better left unsaid. The disclaimer doesn't really excuse you from responsibility for what you say any more than "no offense" excuses saying offensive things or "I'm not racist but" excuses saying racist things.
posted by grouse at 3:27 PM on September 3, 2015 [13 favorites]


Grouse, ideally I agree with you and I do my best to lie low when I am clearly subpar. The reality is more complicated than that. Further, plenty of people here post when they aren't having a great day. Telling me to only post when I feel well fundamentally holds me to a different standard from other people. Given that my condition is incurable, it is also akin to telling a POC to come back when they are white.
posted by Michele in California at 3:48 PM on September 3, 2015


Telling me to only post when I feel well fundamentally holds me to a different standard from other people. Given that my condition is incurable, it is also akin to telling a POC to come back when they are white.

That's not what grouse was saying, and no it's not.
posted by jaguar at 3:53 PM on September 3, 2015 [18 favorites]


Given that my condition is incurable, it is also akin to telling a POC to come back when they are white.

No, it isn't. It's akin to asking anyone to participate in good faith and to not start a comment with what appears to be a self-granted get-out-of-jail-free card.
posted by mudpuppie at 3:55 PM on September 3, 2015 [27 favorites]


Michele in California: "Whether I stay or go, I would like to try to foster policies that will reduce the odds of other people having such a rough introduction to the community, precisely because it is so very hard for both sides to get past"

Okay, but you have blamed a) a terrible thing that happened when you were 12 and ruined your life; b) "serious personal problems that cause [you] social friction"; c) "social friction [that] is rooted in the degree to which I write non standard English" due to your mother being East German and speaking German and Russian; and d) being "sick as hell" as reasons for your problems interacting on MetaFilter or integrating into the site culture here, just in this thread. In other threads you have talked about serious genetic conditions, personal turmoil such as divorce, and homelessness as contributing factors as to why you have trouble communicating. In what way can changing how the moderators interact with new members affect any of the problems you have cited here or elsewhere? I am not sure why, if childhood exposure to non-standard English or personal illness is the problem, you think it can be fixed by different moderation practices.

Michele in California: " I may never be able to convince some people that I am not attacking them or insulting them when I use my personal experiences to try to illucidate where I think policy here falls down."

I don't think you're attacking or insulting people, per se; I think you are failing to appreciate how much the community bent over backwards to assist you in integrating and how very much special treatment you got, and you are still dismissing that when you say, for example: " I strongly suspect that incident helped convince the mods that I was intentionally being an asshole and that helped make it an uphill battle for me." This was specifically refuted by jessamyn today and has been refuted in the past. What I don't understand is your continuing refusal to accept anything the moderators say about their interactions with you, especially when you say that: "The lesson I got from that is that when good people make a terrible mistake and seriously hurt someone, it can be impossible to normalize relations again. I may never be able to convince some people that I am not [behaving badly on purpose]" and you want your early errors to be forgiven and understood, but you flatly refuse to accord the mods or the membership the same courtesy and continue to insist the mods viewed you as "an asshole" and that the membership actively tried to make things harder for you. Is it not a two-way street? If you want to redeem your first impression, do you not also need to allow others to redeem theirs? But you continue to insist upon this narrative of victimhood where everyone is horrible to you and you refuse to allow anyone to explain a different motivation. Nor do I understand your insistence that, while according to your own narrative your problems interacting on MetaFilter stem from myriad external causes, MetaFilter should change in some particular fashion to accommodate those specific external issues. You have started five metatalks in three years wanting to change specific moderation practices to better suit your personal style. I'm sure someone can infodump this, but that seems like a lot to me.

Here's my problem. I don't understand what changes to metafilter's moderation would satisfy you or solve this problem, which has shifting premises and a background that you view differently than everyone else. What could the moderation have done, other than NOT speaking to you when you were outside the guidelines so that your feelings weren't hurt by being held to community standards, that would have satisfied you? You've been clear that both public and private conversations with the mods are unacceptable to you and made you feel bad.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 3:55 PM on September 3, 2015 [28 favorites]


Lots of us have major health issues. Most of us don't mention it unless it is relevant to the topic being discussed. You bring up your health or how you are feeling in almost all your comments. It is predictable behavior from you.
posted by futz at 3:55 PM on September 3, 2015 [17 favorites]


> Given that my condition is incurable, it is also akin to telling a POC to come back when they are white.

what
posted by rtha at 3:58 PM on September 3, 2015 [16 favorites]


Given that my condition is incurable, it is also akin to telling a POC to come back when they are white.

See, this is exactly what we're talking about. "Not at your best" does not refer to your physical well-being, but to your mental state. If you're feeling grouchy or fighty, it's probably best not to comment at that moment. And you're not being singled-out; that advice applies to everyone on the site.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 4:00 PM on September 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'd also like to state, pre-emptively, that some threads -- not specifically this one -- do end up being about some people -- generic people, let's say -- and that it is sometimes the generic person who causes/invites that focus. Because I think we will be going down that road soon. It feels predestined to me.
posted by mudpuppie at 4:00 PM on September 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


If there is an issue here it is not an issue that can be solved by reasoning with MiC.
posted by MoonOrb at 4:07 PM on September 3, 2015 [4 favorites]


I liked octobersurprise's comment about how this MeTa isn't much of a horrorshow, but it's since taken a kind of weird, not particularly constructive - and even worse, far less amusing - turn.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 4:18 PM on September 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


Deleted a comment. Eyebrows, an accusation like that better be sourced to hell and back and even then, think twice if posting it does anyone any good. Thanks.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 4:22 PM on September 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


an accusation like that better be sourced to hell and back

Are you lifting the prohibition on combing member's profiles and histories?
posted by the man of twists and turns at 4:23 PM on September 3, 2015


...akin to telling a POC to come back when they are white.

This is some kind of weird riff on the previous meta thread's "metafilter==stormfront with liberals" analogy, isn't it.
posted by Drastic at 4:32 PM on September 3, 2015


restless_nomad: "Eyebrows, an accusation like that better be sourced to hell and back"

Absolutely sourceable from comments made by the poster in public on this website, many, many times over, and I think you know I would not have said it if it were not.

And I do think, at this point, she's being fundamentally held to a different standard than the rest of the membership, where she gets to accuse everyone who disagrees with her or offers her gentle advice as acting the same as extreme racists, and excuse her behavior on the basis of medical issues, while we all have to pretend we don't remember the history of her claims about her medical issues on this specific site.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 4:34 PM on September 3, 2015 [17 favorites]


Saying somebody is faking their disability is just overall not a good road to go down. It's unnecessary. Discuss behavior on site, sure, but, the fake-disability accusation is a kind of gross place to go and it would be better if we didn't.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 4:36 PM on September 3, 2015 [5 favorites]


I almost always agree with the mods, but in this case, I'm conflicted.

When someone is using a disability to excuse behaviour that many people have called out as problematic ... it seems relevant if there is compelling (and publicly available) evidence that said disability - and therefore said excuse - is fake.
posted by dotgirl at 4:40 PM on September 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


Given that my condition is incurable, it is also akin to telling a POC to come back when they are white.

Respectfully, and I mean this as kindly as I possibly can, this is really not a good analogy. It's inaccurate and problematic. And likely to cause people to get upset. I am seriously concerned you may be heading towards some sort of flameout.

For your own sake, please take a moment to step back and breathe? I'd hate to see this escalate.
posted by zarq at 4:44 PM on September 3, 2015 [15 favorites]


But nobody has ever treated MiC's claim of having a disability as an excuse for anything. People are perfectly able to explain why the behavior is not ok, and that's enough.

If somebody has something specific in mind here, maybe send it to the contact form? But otherwise, this is just a weird, hyper-personal, and really uncomfortable place for a public discussion to go, when it doesn't have to.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 4:45 PM on September 3, 2015 [14 favorites]


We've gone really really far afield of the original topic at this point and I do not think the place we've ended up is a good one.
posted by kagredon at 4:46 PM on September 3, 2015 [19 favorites]


This was inevitable, though.
posted by MoonOrb at 4:55 PM on September 3, 2015


it actually really wasn't.
posted by kagredon at 4:56 PM on September 3, 2015 [11 favorites]


Metafilter: My condition is incurable
posted by Joseph Gurl at 5:36 PM on September 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


Thank you, LM.
posted by zarq at 6:18 PM on September 3, 2015


But otherwise, this is just a weird, hyper-personal, and really uncomfortable place for a public discussion to go, when it doesn't have to.

I think most mefites reading this thread (and many other threads before the latter stages of this one) have been impressively gentle and hands-off in the face of "weird, hyper-personal, and really uncomfortable" being vomited out at them. For this, I say: way to go, mefi! I think that hands-off-ness speaks pretty well of the userbase's overall tact and ability to delicately handle ostentatious fragility.
posted by Greg Nog at 6:33 PM on September 3, 2015 [18 favorites]


"it actually really wasn't."

this is the kind of bias determinists have to put up with all the time
posted by klangklangston at 6:54 PM on September 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


Sorry if I came across as dramatic by being all "fuck it, I'm out" this morning. The truth is, I agree with the people who say it's probably just not a site that works for everyone, and I don't think it works for me. I think some people may just not enjoy really social sites, period. There are major downsides to everyone knowing who you are - it's like the small town where everyone knows your business (and even if you don't share that much, it can kind of seep out).

I mean, now my legacy gets to be "dramatically ragequit," or whatever, but today was really just the final capstone on mounting frustrating with how I, personally, interact with this site. Most of that is no one's responsibility but my own. I'm beyond tired of (and uncomfortable with) sniping and cliquishness, but there are ways to deal with it that I didn't do.

To bring this back to the original post - it seems like the most successful new users have been the ones who found other users working with them, and that goes beyond official site FAQs and moderation (I don't know zarq, but that was the case study everyone brought up). This is a great site and a great user base, but talking about this as just a mod/FAQ issue feels like disregarding the fact that 99% of the interactions are with other people in front of keyboards. The troubled "new users" we're talking about here are generally difficult people, and I don't mean to say that everyone should be expected to accommodate that. But there is an element of exclusivity that maybe people are picking up on and reacting to.

Just my general impression, though, and maybe that's just me. I don't know if this is "ostentatious fragility" or not, but it's input from a relatively newish user anyway.
posted by teponaztli at 7:10 PM on September 3, 2015 [5 favorites]


This was inevitable, though.

It is sadly predictable, at the very least. There must be a site drama version of the 80/20 rule, in that a very small number of people repeatedly produce an outsize amount of clamor and fuss. This site has been surprisingly tolerant of it for as long as I have been reading, so at some point it just becomes a part of the site culture I suppose. Personally the concentration of time and attention (both users' and moderators') on a few outlier users does not seem like much a feature to me, but neither does it have any impact on my life.
posted by Dip Flash at 8:14 PM on September 3, 2015 [6 favorites]


I've always found the contact form strangely difficult to find and wish it was easier. When I need to contact a moderator with a question, I go to Google and type in: "metafilter contact form" and find it that way, but I imagine most new people who are angry about a deletion don't do that.

And I know the contact form is somewhere in the FAQ, but I've had trouble in the past figuring out which link in the FAQ leads to the contact form, since there's so much information there. To double-check this, I just looked through the FAQ again. And I realized that there are different versions of it for the different sub-sites, which means as a newbie, you're probably going to land on one of the FAQs at random (when I started reading MetaFilter, it took a little while for me to figure out what changed and what stayed the same between sites). And in the Ask FAQ and the front page FAQ, the first question ("Who is in charge here?") isn't clear, at least to me, that is also where I'd find the contact form. The Metatalk FAQ is a bit clearer.

Again, maybe it's just me being weird and having trouble parsing things that other people have no problem with. But sometimes I wonder if the reason why people make angry Metas is because it's easier to make a new post than it is to figure out how to contact the mods.
posted by colfax at 2:16 AM on September 4, 2015 [5 favorites]


On the other hand, there is a great big link marked 'Contact Us' at the bottom of every page. I would not consider that hard to find, but (on yet another hand) I know from experience (on another site) that some people never think to look there.
posted by Too-Ticky at 2:39 AM on September 4, 2015


The contact us link might be moved to be a little more front and center. I think that's worth considering.
posted by Drinky Die at 2:41 AM on September 4, 2015


It wouldn't hurt also to have it in the 'Home FAQ About.... ' bar.
posted by Too-Ticky at 2:43 AM on September 4, 2015


The contact us link might be moved to be a little more front and center. I think that's worth considering.

Yeah, I don't know if it's just due to left-to-right reading or what, but every time I've ever used the contact form, I've first scrolled to the bottom of a page, started looking for the link, got frustrated, and then had to ctrl-f 'contact' to find it. Even though the text is big, it is located in literally the last place your eyes will go if you're trying to scan through the massive set of links at the bottom of the page. This probably has an effect on whether people even know it exists when they have a problem.
posted by tocts at 4:53 AM on September 4, 2015 [3 favorites]


I wonder if the contact form would get more use if it said "Contact a Moderator" rather than "Contact Us." In this context, "us" seems like it could mean MetaFilter, the corporate entity, whereas "a moderator" sounds like someone who can solve my problem right now.
posted by neroli at 5:04 AM on September 4, 2015 [21 favorites]


Yeah, that's true. On most websites, "Contact Us" means "would you like to receive a polite but unhelpful note from our PR intern?". I think "Contact a Moderator" or similar phrasing would be a great tweak to nudge a few more people towards the contact form.
posted by gilrain at 5:13 AM on September 4, 2015 [6 favorites]



The contact form link is down next to that guy. I'm not sure what it is. A squashed bug? A snowman with hair? A creepy doll?

The link is down there twice anyway, on the classic theme at least. I've never had a problem finding it but I do remember this coming up in metatalk before, so clearly it's a real problem.
posted by shelleycat at 5:15 AM on September 4, 2015


Chiming in to agree that it would basically never occur to me to use "Contact Us" as "Contact a Moderator." I would assume that was for people who need to contact Metafilter The Company for some reason.
posted by pie ninja at 5:24 AM on September 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


What if it said something like "Get in touch" or "Have a question?"
posted by leesh at 5:49 AM on September 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


For some reason I tend to assume that the contact button is up at the top somewhere. I'm a bit sheepish to admit it, but I have literally never noticed that "Contact Us" at the bottom of the page. I think I've never even scrolled down the page that far: I scroll down so that "Older Posts" is visible and then click on that.
posted by colfax at 5:56 AM on September 4, 2015


Even I have no problem contacting the mods. They have always been helpful with me, despite my many flaws. It just took me a while to realize what the "standard site" link was, posting from Android. The Android version is abbreviated, less is less, no chat, for example.
posted by Oyéah at 7:11 AM on September 4, 2015


Interesting about the feeling like the contact form is out of the way; one thing I liked about the Modern theme rollout was that Contact Us went from being a wee bit of like 8-pt type in the footer to being a headline-sized phrase right down in the corner there where it should be a lot harder to miss. I had pb rework the footer of Classic a little recently to give it similar prominence there.

I'm not against the idea of giving it a little more prominence up top as well, but we'd have to think about real estate since every bit of header space is a bit of a thing to fight for especially in the more collapsed mobile view.

And I know the contact form is somewhere in the FAQ, but I've had trouble in the past figuring out which link in the FAQ leads to the contact form

There's actually a preamble right up top with a link to it, but this is maybe a scanning and expectations thing, and something where we might be better off sticking a more loud and obvious HERE IS THE CONTACT FORM thing there in bigger text or whatnot to make it clear, esp. since the FAQ in particular is somewhere someone goes when they have questions. We'll look at it.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:32 AM on September 4, 2015


Correcting myself, though: I'd forgotten that the way the subsite-specific FAQs for e.g. the green and the grey don't have that contact preamble. We'll need to fix that.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:37 AM on September 4, 2015


Could you put on the bar next to "FAQ" or maybe in the "more" drop down? I agree that people might not scroll all the way down, especially in a long thread, so if we want new people to see it, it should be up top somewhere.
posted by leesh at 7:42 AM on September 4, 2015


colfax: I had exactly the same problem when I joined! It's a little better now in that the FAQ is linked in the header (which it didn't used to be) and there's a link to the contact form at the top of the FAQ -- it's the first link on that page, "contact the site admins". (And also it's linked in the bottom right corner of every page.)

But I do take the point and it's very useful to hear - and I think the phrasing change is a good thought.

The switch to subsite-specific FAQs did not get the attention it could have, in terms of rejiggering things to really work with that presentation. That's something we'll definitely be improving.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 7:43 AM on September 4, 2015


For new signups, cookie their asses and run a (small, classy) banner across the top of all Meta*.* sites for two weeks that has quicklinks to the FAQ, contact form, wiki, etc. In comments/questions/posts, toss a "new" next to their username for a month so the rest of us knows not to be rules-lawyering knobs to them right away.
posted by kimberussell at 7:47 AM on September 4, 2015 [6 favorites]


I had pb rework the footer of Classic a little recently to give it similar prominence there.

I still think that making the font a little bit bigger in the Classic footer doesn't actually make it more prominent and makes the footer look like a weird mishmash of font sizes. I'd suggest maybe having it be a button that looks the same-ish across styles. A HUGE search box at the top of the FAQ might be the best way to encourage people to use it before they contact you. I think the tag box on the side really is a good way to give people an idea of what's in there.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 8:50 AM on September 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


Calling Standard Site, Full Site, might communicate better, to phone and tablet users.
posted by Oyéah at 8:56 AM on September 4, 2015


We could call it Stationary Site, in contrast to Mobile Site. Is the world moving too fast for you these days? Come to our stationary site and experience the joy of sessile living.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 9:19 AM on September 4, 2015 [9 favorites]


or come to the Stationery Site and read MetaFilter in beautiful letterpress on thick paper.
posted by griphus at 9:29 AM on September 4, 2015 [7 favorites]


yes. Maybe with charming illustrations of like cardinals in the snow.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 9:37 AM on September 4, 2015 [5 favorites]


And then there's the Tosche Stationary Site for folks who were just trying to buy a used power converter.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:55 AM on September 4, 2015 [4 favorites]


("Cookie their asses" is my new favorite phrase.)

For me, finding the link for contacting the mods was never a problem, but it took me a while before I realized what role the mods played on the site. Like I didn't realize it was an actual paying job for them. I (unconsciously) assumed they were overworked volunteers who I didn't want to bother with anything that wasn't super serious.

If I had been able to talk with knowgood before they posted their MetaTalk post, I would have said "You should contact the mods. They're more than happy to work with people, and they can help explain why your post was deleted and help you figure out how to make a post that better fits the guidelines." I don't know how we could get that message to new members, but I think it would help.

Oh, and while we're discussing what to tell new members, I'd consider putting way up front "Everybody gets a comment or post deleted at one time or another. It's not a considered a mark against you, or a punishment. It's just the way we keep the conversations on target and running well. The mods will be glad to explain why a given comment/post was deleted. Use the 'Contact Us' link when you have questions about deletions."
posted by benito.strauss at 10:14 AM on September 4, 2015 [11 favorites]


(These are all really good phrases and suggestions, thank you all.)
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 10:18 AM on September 4, 2015


I thought "Desktop View" or similar was the standard phrasing? I usually look for the word desktop when trying to turn off mobile sites at least. Of course I'm pretty old and do a lot of my internetting from a computer sitting on a desk so maybe I'm out of date.
posted by shelleycat at 10:38 AM on September 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one, LobsterMitten!
posted by colfax at 11:10 AM on September 4, 2015


Of course I'm pretty old and do a lot of my internetting from a computer sitting on a desk so maybe I'm out of date.

You should at least look into getting a chair.
posted by uosuaq at 3:10 PM on September 4, 2015 [15 favorites]


or come to the Stationery Site and read MetaFilter in beautiful letterpress on thick paper.

Pony request: Vellum theme.
posted by zarq at 8:47 PM on September 4, 2015 [3 favorites]


MetaField Notes.
posted by box at 10:01 AM on September 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


Pony request: vellum theme.

Ixnay, Chucko.

Cuneiform.

Wet clay mixed and molded into hand sized tablets and then inscribed in the original Sumerian, which are then baked in miniature drone delivered kilns and pinned to the cubicle walls, all by the moderators themselves -- none of this 'delegated to slave scribes...' bullshit -- via 9G robotic waldoes.
posted by y2karl at 10:32 PM on September 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


As a relatively new member, I think that restricting acess to the metatalk forum is a *really* bad idea, and it plays into much of what I find frustrating about this site. If you don't find the threads where people complain about the moderation helpful, then don't read them or participate in them! It really is just that simple.

I haven't made my own posting here, but I can certainly understand the impulse. I personally believe the moderation here is much too heavy and politically motivated, and I also believe people hide behind lofty sounding goals like "civility" to create an atmosphere where only "popular" opinions are allowed airtime.

One thing to do is to be more upfront about how much moderation goes on behind the scenes. I have had many, many posts deleted, and I find it very strange to read time and again about how few posts are censored on this site. Let's get real about how many posts are actually deleted and why, but don't take away or restrict access to the one spot where people can openly air their grievances; that makes no sense at all.
posted by girl flaneur at 1:29 PM on September 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


One thing to do is to be more upfront about how much moderation goes on behind the scenes. I have had many, many posts deleted, and I find it very strange to read time and again about how few posts are censored on this site.

To put it in context, you've had a total of 13 Ask Metafilter comments deleted, vs 268 standing, and nothing else deleted, in the year and change you've been here. And that's above average vs. baseline deletion rates for Ask comments, mostly owing to you tending sometimes toward a more argumentative approach on Ask than we generally expect there and in a couple cases you complaining about moderation mid-comment which is generally an automatic delete if it's happening somewhere other than metatalk.

If you've got questions about that, that's fine; if you want to talk about that in here or via the contact form, that's fine too (and in fact you've written to us a few times regarding deletions). We'll totally engage in detail on this stuff as much as people like.

But as a basis for implying some obfuscated aggressive campaign of deletion, your non-generalizable personal experience of having a baker's dozen out of close to three hundred comments deleted isn't really good footing, given that we're totally unambiguous about the fact that this is a moderated site and have talked at great length in Metatalk about how and when moderation happens.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:58 PM on September 6, 2015 [18 favorites]


I personally believe the moderation here is much too heavy and politically motivated, and I also believe people hide behind lofty sounding goals like "civility" to create an atmosphere where only "popular" opinions are allowed airtime.

Well for one thing I disagree with the last part; people say "unpopular" things all the time and they don't get deleted. Just, you can't be an asshole while doing it, and you can't expect people not to disagree with those opinions. Without being an asshole, hopefully.

But the first part, I guess my reaction to that is... ok? I mean, those words are kind of relative, but the moderation "heaviness" is what it is, and motivated by what it's motivated by. Lofty-sounding "civility" is in fact a value here. So I want to say "well, yes, that's what MetaFilter is." I don't mind people coming to MetaTalk to complain about that and maybe gently nudge the culture, but to a certain extent, they have to realize that it's the way it is on purpose. It's the identity of the site. Lots of people like it that way. "Change your community into one I like better" may not go over well, and often doesn't.
posted by ctmf at 2:18 PM on September 6, 2015 [5 favorites]


Your larger point about letting people make a MeTa post if they want to, I agree with. Just, maybe a "do you really want to do that?" chance might be nice, if people don't realize their other options.
posted by ctmf at 2:24 PM on September 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


I have had many, many posts deleted, and I find it very strange to read time and again about how few posts are censored on this site. Let's get real about how many posts are actually deleted and why, but don't take away or restrict access to the one spot where people can openly air their grievances; that makes no sense at all.

I vote that MetaFilter removes the words “posted by” that appear just after a comment in favor of either an n-dash or the words “commented by”. Conflating “posts” with “comments” appears to be a routine enough thing that the distinction is lost in MetaTalk discussions; that’s a problem that seems fixable with some UX changes.
posted by Going To Maine at 2:25 PM on September 6, 2015 [10 favorites]


Seconded!
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 2:27 PM on September 6, 2015


I kind of wonder how much of that is people being literal about the content of the byline vs. people just importing general vocab habits from broader internet use; my guess is that it's primarily the latter (I feel like I've seen really ubiquitous references to comment-type-things as "posts" out in the wider web world) and so probably not something that we could really drive much change on.

In any case, it seems like it's usually not a major source of confusion so much as something that gets disambiguated pretty quickly in context when it matters. But it is an interesting point.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:38 PM on September 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Every time I've seen a question here about how much moderation goes on behind the scenes, the mod(s) in charge have been fully upfront. So much about civility being real here, as opposed to just a lofty-sounding goal.
posted by Namlit at 3:01 PM on September 6, 2015


If you don't find the threads where people complain about the moderation helpful, then don't read them or participate in them! It really is just that simple.

Ha, if only. Although their numbers have dwindled, there is a small contingent who can turn basically any MeTa into a thread about Why Metafilter Is Literally Totalitarian.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 3:20 PM on September 6, 2015 [8 favorites]


To put it in context, you've had a total of 13 Ask Metafilter comments deleted, vs 268 standing, and nothing else deleted, in the year and change you've been here. And that's above average vs. baseline deletion rates for Ask comments, mostly owing to you tending sometimes toward a more argumentative approach on Ask than we generally expect there and in a couple cases you complaining about moderation mid-comment which is generally an automatic delete if it's happening somewhere other than metatalk.

Yeah, so 5% of my total comments have been deleted. If we looked the percentage of my comments that are focused on "controversial" topics the rate would be far, far higher.

And if my comment is deleted then it follows that I'm an asshole?! And somehow members are allowed to say that and still pass the civility test and their comments are approved? Wow! You have made my point for me: civility is another way of saying "speech that I (as a white, upper middle class, progressive person) agree with and/or doesn't make me feel too uncomfortable."

As a college professor, I'm well schooled in the civility doctrine. The fact that so many of my controversial posts are still censored should be a datapoint in an open conversation; instead, I'm called rude names and mocked.

The fact that a moderator went to the trouble to look up my posting history and "correct" me in this way, even though I'm actually defending Metafilter against the specific charge leveled against it in this post, should be a red flag.
posted by girl flaneur at 3:29 PM on September 6, 2015 [4 favorites]


And if my comment is deleted then it follows that I'm an asshole?!

No. Try to disassociate the comments from your own identity. Once they're in the wild on the site, they can and will be deleted if it is in the site's best interest (e.g. the comment will start a big fight for no reason, it will derail a thread, it is noise in an AskMe thread and does not approach answering the question). Having a comment deleted is not a punishment. Think of yourself as a single piece of the larger MetaFilter community. Sometimes we (including me!) make dumb comments, and those comments are deleted because it makes everyone's day better. That's all. Having a comment deleted doesn't mean anything about you as a person, or as a community member.

If, on the other hand, you are making assholish comments, then you are, in fact, being an asshole. But that is not the only reason -- or even the most common reason -- for a comment to be deleted.
posted by shakespeherian at 3:35 PM on September 6, 2015 [12 favorites]


And if my comment is deleted then it follows that I'm an asshole?!

No. Nothing in cortex' comment to you said or implied this. If you are taking that sentiment from his comment, then you are misreading it. And if you believe that having your comments deleted is a reflection on your character, then you are flat-out wrong.

I've had a bunch of comments and posts deleted. 20-some odd posts and more than a handful of comments. It happens! No big deal.
posted by zarq at 3:45 PM on September 6, 2015 [8 favorites]


Nothing in cortex' comment to you said or implied this. If you are taking that sentiment from his comment, then you are misreading it.

It was probably mine, not cortex'. But I wasn't trying to imply that either, it's just a very common actual reason for deletion people misread as being about having an "unpopular" opinion. It's not the only reason, for sure.
posted by ctmf at 3:49 PM on September 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Having a comment deleted is not a punishment. Think of yourself as a single piece of the larger MetaFilter community

One of us; one of us; one of us.

Dear superficially progressive white people of Metafilter,


If you need an echo chamber where you only encounter speech that makes you feel safe and unchallenged, that's cool. But if you care about lofty ideals like truth or even cozy ideals like inclusiveness, I would encourage you to lighten up on the moderation, give up on the moderator as moral authority trope, and stop going into a collective tizzy every time someone says something critical that makes you uncomfortable.

xoxo,
GF (a relatively new member who you supposedly are interested in attracting and retaining)
posted by girl flaneur at 3:57 PM on September 6, 2015 [4 favorites]


Charming.
posted by kagredon at 4:04 PM on September 6, 2015 [4 favorites]


It was probably mine, not cortex'.

corticis?
posted by ctmf at 4:04 PM on September 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


Mr. Moral Authority Cortex Trope's, surely.
posted by Drastic at 4:07 PM on September 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


girl flaneur, I'm not sure why you're taking the conversational approach you are; you're obviously frustrated with the site and your experience here. But at least over the last hour or so, I only see people sincerely attempting to engage with you (well, that and undirected riffing), so if you do hope to improve your experience here -- either by better explaining your approach, by changing some minds, or by learning the culture better so as to adjust your expectations -- now seems like a good time to attempt engagement of your own, rather than the hyperbolizing and sarcasm you're currently employing.
posted by shakespeherian at 4:10 PM on September 6, 2015 [13 favorites]


If y'all don't see how insular, and mobbing, and cliquey, and uninterested in open discourse, and petty you are, as exemplified in this very thread , I guess there is nothing anyone could say to convince you otherwise.

I'll leave you to congratulate yourselves on driving another person away from your party of like minded people.
posted by girl flaneur at 4:12 PM on September 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


That's an obnoxious rhetorical gambit -- you say we hate heterodoxy, folks try to talk to you about it, and instead of having a conversation you leave and say that your leaving proves your point. Maybe you've had this conversation in other threads already? But from what I've seen here, all you've done is the above.
posted by shakespeherian at 4:17 PM on September 6, 2015 [16 favorites]


Came in here to point out I had a comment deleted today (that it took quite a while to craft on my ancient Xperia mind you), which was done for participating in a stupid derail. Shrugged, scrolled up, went to another thread. The world continued turning.

Then I clicked the Load More Comments thingy and saw some people offering genuine, good faith explanations to someone who's been nothing but hostile in this thread - people ironically being accused of being "insular". Even after some gentle and clear explaining of what getting your comment deleted means.

That's why I say that doing more heavy lifting for people with their minds made up is fruitless. Unfortunately exhibited right here and now.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 4:19 PM on September 6, 2015 [4 favorites]


If y'all don't see how insular, and mobbing, and cliquey, and uninterested in open discourse, and petty you are, as exemplified in this very thread , I guess there is nothing anyone could say to convince you otherwise.

Nobody called you an asshole before, but you seem hellbent on changing that.

Nobody is trying to drive you off the site, either. Maybe take a break for a bit before coming back to this conversation?
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:21 PM on September 6, 2015 [12 favorites]


How is this a conversation? I make a rather innocuous point about how there could be more transparency about the moderation practices here since I've had many posts deleted but I keep reading how free from moderation this site is. I point out that the combination of being told that the site is free from moderation but the experience of being heavily moderated could be frustrating and could motivate people to post here.

Then instead of taking up my points in a general way or simply ignoring them, the moderator personalizes it by bringing up my posting history in a way that he apparently thinks settles the issue but really doesn't . At the same time, I'm called an asshole by another commentator. Still, other members keep saying over and over again how much Metafilter values civility. And then people continue to make snide comments when I say I feel silenced by the inconsistent policing of this civility standard.

I have a pretty good sense of this site's demographics both from the specific comments that are made and by how invisible the power structure of these threads are to the vast majority of people here. I would encourage you to diversify, but you aren't going to be successful doing that under the current conditions.

I don't see the possibly of any discussion and debate under these circumstances. Instead, I see people insisting on one dominant narrative and highly intolerant of difference.
posted by girl flaneur at 4:32 PM on September 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


And if my comment is deleted then it follows that I'm an asshole?!

Nope, and I didn't say it did. ctmf didn't say it did either, though at this point I usually tend to avoid even the generic, non-individual "don't be an asshole" phrasing we've used in the past when talking about this stuff because as much as I think it captures the basic idea well it's an easy thing for people to feel a sting from and thus understandably sort of shut down on the discussion.

The fact that so many of my controversial posts are still censored should be a datapoint in an open conversation

You're taking it as a given that the problem with your comments is some unreasonable censorious rubric rather than recognizing the possibility that, in the specific context of Ask Metafilter, you just get it a little wrong sometimes in your presentation. If you're well-schooled in the idea of specific, constrained modes of interaction, it should not be surprising to you that there is more than one possible mode of interaction, and shouldn't be surprising that what works well on Ask Metafilter might differ from what works well in other contexts. That doesn't make the thing that doesn't fly on Ask bad, it just makes it a bad fit on Ask.

And again, "so many" in this case is 13, out of hundreds, including a couple that had absolutely nothing to do with any possible controversiality but rather your (understandable but still really pertinent) lack of adherence to a basic "no metacommentary" guideline for comments. If your standard is that that's way too much, that's fine; you can have whatever personal standards you want. But that standard doesn't represent the general consensus on the site and doesn't match up well with the expectations we've been setting here for a decade and a half. It's a conflict between your personal preference and the site that actually exists, and that's not something that's going to suddenly resolve in favor of your personal preference and it's unreasonable to approach it from that angle.

The fact that a moderator went to the trouble to look up my posting history and "correct" me in this way, even though I'm actually defending Metafilter against the specific charge leveled against it in this post, should be a red flag.

It's trivial to look this stuff up, and the meaningfulness of a claim like "I have had many, many posts deleted" depends a lot on the actual details there. If you want to talk about your impression of heavy-handed and non-transparent moderation, that involves talking about the specific reality of the claims you're making. It's not an attack or an attempt at a gotcha, it's breaking down the actual details of what you're talking about so we know we're on the same page to at least that extent. If you and I disagree about what a reasonable rate of deletion is, that's okay, but I want to at least be operating with a clear picture of what that rate is.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:41 PM on September 6, 2015 [18 favorites]


the moderator personalizes it by bringing up my posting history

That's not unusual in MetaTalk, so please don't feel singled-out. And it was actually helpful, for me at least, by pointing out that all your comment deletions were in AskMetafilter. That section of the site has much stricter guidelines for commenting, chief amongst them that the comment must address the question. If you want to engage in spirited discussion, then you should hang out more on the other parts of the site. Conversations are much more wide-ranging.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 4:44 PM on September 6, 2015 [5 favorites]


I think it's highly incorrect to say that MetaFilter is free from moderation, and the degree to which I feel that is incorrect makes me wonder if you misread some stuff people said or if folks just were flat-out lying to you. The sometimes-overblown sense of pride members of this site feel in this site is directly due to its moderation. There have been numerous discussions about this, and about how one of the things that sets MetaFilter apart from other places on the web is that moderation is considered so important that we have full-time paid moderators, and not volunteers. So wherever you got the idea that people describe this place as free from moderation, I apologize-- that is not true, to the point that it's silly someone would say otherwise.

My reading of cortex's response -- the personalized one -- was that he was attempting to respond to what seemed to be a personalized complaint from you: You said, in your first comment in this thread, I have had many, many posts deleted, and I find it very strange to read time and again about how few posts are censored on this site. If that was not meant to be a complaint about your personal experience, it read to me like one, and apparently so to others, including cortex, and his therefore personal response did not seem, to me, to be rude for this reason.

Further, I do not believe you were called an asshole. The only place I see that word used the in the above exchange seems to be very clearly referring to a general 'you,' and not you specifically. That said, misreading is possible. I would like it to be clear, however, that that is what took place.
posted by shakespeherian at 4:45 PM on September 6, 2015 [8 favorites]


Metafilter told me it rarely deletes comments:

Occasionally a comment will be removed which then leaves a bunch of other comments responding to it just hanging there and these will sometimes get removed as well even though there is no problem with them. Mods use their own discretion and the input of the flagging queue to help guide those decisions. If you have a question about a comment removal, please use the contact form to ask about it. The MetaFilter comment deletion rate is about 1%. Most people never have a comment deleted.

5% of my total comments have been deleted, yet I read that most people never have a comment deleted (and I should emphasize that most of my comments are on non-controversial topics; the censorship rate on my postings regarding controversial topics is much, much higher).
posted by girl flaneur at 4:54 PM on September 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


I point out that the combination of being told that the site is free from moderation but the experience of being heavily moderated could be frustrating and could motivate people to post here.

I don't really get how you thought this place was 'free from moderation'. The very fact that it has moderators should indicate to you that it is a moderated space. Plus this multi-hundred comment thread about moderation, and the FAQ, and the wiki...

If people can't deal with posting in a moderated space, then they shouldn't post here. There rest of the internet is still there. If they disagree with the moderation policies, well, that's what Metatalk is for - we all contribute to the discussion about how moderation should work here.

At the same time, I'm called an asshole by another commentator. Still, other members keep saying over and over again how much Metafilter values civility. And then people continue to make snide comments when I say I feel silenced by the inconsistent policing of this civility standard.

Seriously, no one called you an asshole. Try again. ctmf obviously wasn't referring to you specifically, and has said so.

As a bit of site history, "don't be an asshole" is a defacto site motto that as been bandied about from time to time. But context matters. This isn't a classroom or a town hall meeting. 'Civility' in this context is about how we treat each other, not about whether we use naughty words or not. We're all adults here.

I have a pretty good sense of this site's demographics both from the specific comments that are made and by how invisible the power structure of these threads are to the vast majority of people here. I would encourage you to diversify, but you aren't going to be successful doing that under the current conditions.

I think you haven't the slightest idea about how this site works, as evidenced by the fact that you thought it wasn't moderated.

I don't see the possibly of any discussion and debate under these circumstances. Instead, I see people insisting on one dominant narrative and highly intolerant of difference.

No one has insisted on anything. All that has been done is that people have refuted your specific claims, and fairly gently considering how condescending you have been. You seem to take this as a personal insult. Is your ego so fragile that you cannot accept that you might have misunderstood something?
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 4:59 PM on September 6, 2015 [11 favorites]


I keep reading how free from moderation this site is.

I have my own criticisms of moderation here, some of which line up with your own, but I have never in my years here ever read a single implication that this place is moderation free or even light. The moderators are here and active 24 hours a day. If you want to participate you kind of have to understand that and accept their judgments in the end even if you maintain disagreement.
posted by Drinky Die at 5:11 PM on September 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


5% of my total comments have been deleted, yet I read that most people never have a comment deleted (and I should emphasize that most of my comments are on non-controversial topics; the censorship rate on my postings regarding controversial topics is much, much higher).

Asked and answered. Your comments were not deleted because they were bad, or because the moderators have a vendetta against you. You were apparently using AskMe incorrectly. The deletion of your comments is not a value judgement.

Are you aware of AskMe's guidelines and FAQ? In particular:
Ask MetaFilter comments should address the main question being asked. Common reasons for comment removal are wisecracks, derailing/ranting/axegrinding, picking a fight with or heavy chastising of the question asker, debating/chat among commenters, single word posts (yes, no, DTMFA &c.) and other non-answers that should probably be brought to MetaTalk. While it's okay to ask follow-up questions to the original asker, piggybacking questions [asking your own related question within someone else's AskMe] will often be removed.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:11 PM on September 6, 2015


Yes, if it helps, I can see how you could have thought I was calling you an asshole, logically.
("you" can't be an asshole, your comment got deleted, you must have been an asshole.)

That's not what I meant at all, and I apologize for not writing what I did mean more clearly. My fault.

I'm not sure that 1% figure... well, I've had a handful or two of comments deleted and it stings every time. I do notice that the mods will always explain the reasoning if asked, and it has never been "we don't want people saying that opinion." It's always been about how (and in AskMe, sometimes where) it's said. 1% deletion doesn't sound totally inaccurate, but it's been a long time and sometimes the rate is higher than others. 5% for a short time doesn't sound unachievable. The "most people never have a comment deleted" part sounds more dubious to me.
posted by ctmf at 5:13 PM on September 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


5% of my total comments have been deleted, yet I read that most people never have a comment deleted

I believe that the above-quoted statistics are accurate. If the comment deletion rate is 1%, and most people never have a comment deleted, then it stands to reason that some people will experience a deletion rate of higher than 1%, right? (I am not a mathematician).

Regardless, I'm not sure how you can read what you just quoted and take away from it that the site is 'moderation free.' Furthermore, the FAQ for Ask MetaFilter states that
Common reasons for comment removal are wisecracks, derailing/ranting/axegrinding, picking a fight with or heavy chastising of the question asker, debating/chat among commenters, single word posts (yes, no, DTMFA &c.) and other non-answers that should probably be brought to MetaTalk.
posted by shakespeherian at 5:14 PM on September 6, 2015


The "most people never have a comment deleted" part sounds more dubious to me.

Well, most members don't comment that much at all. Of the top 100 or so posters, I would expect most have had at least one.
posted by Drinky Die at 5:14 PM on September 6, 2015


5% of my total comments have been deleted, yet I read that most people never have a comment deleted

Where did you read this? And "most" by what margin? Context also matters, as comments are deleted for any number of benign reasons as well. I think this is what you're ignoring. You seem to have your mind made up about the site's culture, all points up for debate to varying degrees, but in this thread? "Highly intolerant" to you? How? All the comments responding to you were just answering your questions as best they could, when suddenly you're being "driven off"? There's a number of steps missing there. I looks like you're ignoring the reason your comment was deleted in favor of using that as a soundboard for your indictment of the site as a whole. I'll note that all your comments about how censorious and "superficially progressive" the site is are still standing, as they should be, as this site is not actually intolerant of dissent.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 5:15 PM on September 6, 2015


5% of my total comments have been deleted, yet I read that most people never have a comment deleted

Most people comment very little. Folks who comment more are proportionally more likely to have some non-zero number of comments deleted. 1% is about right for the baseline deletion rate; it varies a bit from one subsite to another (Ask has the most specific moderation guidelines and so is likely a little higher than elsewhere on the site), and different folks will vary on that depending on how well they're getting the gist of the site guidelines.

I should emphasize that most of my comments are on non-controversial topics; the censorship rate on controversial topics is much much higher

To what extent is this something you want to have a detailed discussion about? You've expressed discomfort about my tossing out some basic numbers, so I'm hesitant to get into detail about the content and context of your deleted comments unless that's something you really specifically want. But you keep making the assertion that you're being censored for controversiality when my general impression at a glance is you have mostly gotten comments deleted for just being generally pushy and argumentative in Ask Metafilter, and occasionally for complaining about moderation in Ask.

If you expected there to be essentially zero moderation on Metafilter, I'll reiterate what folks have said already that that is not something we've ever represented to be the case on the site itself; if someone mislead you in recommending the site on that basis, I don't know what they were thinking but that's a bummer and I can on that front appreciate your frustration. But your frustration should be with them, not with the site for not being what they misrepresented it as, and it's not reasonable to expect the site to adapt to that misrepresentation after the fact.

If you believe that the reason you've had the single-digit percentage of comments deleted that you have is because the controversiality of your opinions, I disagree—there are lots of people disagreeing about lots of things on the site or presenting opinions or positions that go against the grain or conflict with one or another plurality sentiment, and that is not itself grounds for deletion. In Ask, for sure, people are constantly disagreeing about stuff large and small. But as long as they're managing to otherwise do it within the expectations of that part of the site—that people will generally not fall into arguments with each other, that they will focus on the question rather than taking exception to other answerers, that they'll avoid being unnecessarily jerkish about their responses, etc—that's not going to be an issue.

I'm not banking on convincing you there, and figure we're stuck being at odds on it, and that's okay. There is zero requirement that you agree with the moderators or other users about what the guidelines and policy should be, and no one is going to try to force you to believe other than what you believe. But we have as a moderation team over the years done a great deal of work to be clear about what we do, why we do it, how we do it, and how much of it we do; I have zero incentive to misrepresent that work or our motives in doing it. So if you are coming to the conclusion that we are doing something other than what we say we are, or doing things for reasons other than those we've communicated, I can't find any middle ground with you on this.
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:15 PM on September 6, 2015 [14 favorites]


Ah, 1% it is! Still, benign reasons I reckon outnumber "DID NOT ABIDE POLITICAL ORTHODOXY"
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 5:16 PM on September 6, 2015


Regarding being called an asshole ctmf wrote:

Well for one thing I disagree with the last part; people say "unpopular" things all the time and they don't get deleted. Just, you can't be an asshole while doing it, and you can't expect people not to disagree with those opinions.


Whatever the intentions of this member, the implication of this comment is that I was an asshole and that's why my comments were deleted. That's just a clear implication of the comment, whether of not it was stated explicitly.

I don't really care, but if you want to create an community that is open to diverse opinions, you shouldn't personalize it in these ways. It seems that most people who have disagreed with me here have gone immediately to personal attacks (the strength if my ego is fine, his thoughts were red thoughts, but thanks very much for the concern). I don't understand the history of what is going on upthread, but there too disagreement was met immediately with fierce personal attack.

I understand the site is moderated, but the passage quoted above states that very few comments are deleted, yet in my experience a large percentage of my comments on controversial topics have been deleted; I don't know the exact percentage, but I'd estimate somewhere around 25%. Of course, the only way to assess if I'm "doing Metafilter wrong" is to look at all my deleted posts and the contexts in which I made them.

I suspect that Metafilter isn't actually interested in free, open debate, but instead only wants a debate within strict parameters that respect the substantive party line and the demographics of the participants. So maybe the welcome packet could include a Statement of Commitments so people can know whether or not they are one of you before sending in their $5.00.
posted by girl flaneur at 5:31 PM on September 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


I have had plenty of comments deleted. I did some reading about how the site works, learned some of the expectations, listen better, I have less deletions. Read the post, (unless you just read it from the original source.) Read the comments, all of them before jumping in. Get a feel for the room. Even academics will not get warm responses for criticisms. No one is immune from deletion. If there is a vaccination that insures civility toward me in every case I haven't had it. There is a wide variety of types and ages within the Mefite clan, as elsewhere. If people get too harsh, the moderators will end it. They often explain their reasoning. It used to be a lot meaner in here, it has been smoothing out, and that is not because all the nice people left.

There is a recent move in large web communities to turn off the endless shitstorm, to make civil the new normal. That takes a lot of work on the part of moderators, and members. It takes a lot of agreement about the culture the community wants to support. I have tried to be a better member, doesn't matter that I am not everyones' cup of tea.

Metafilter is not going to be anyones' mirror, mirror, on the wall.
posted by Oyéah at 5:37 PM on September 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


I suspect that Metafilter isn't actually interested in free, open debate, but instead only wants a debate within strict parameters that respect the substantive party line and the demographics of the participants.

This is the problem. You comment almost exclusively on AskMe. AskMe is not a place for debate. It is a place for offering answers to the questions that people have asked there.

The main site offers many opportunities for debate. Go nuts.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:40 PM on September 6, 2015 [25 favorites]


What's this whole "demographics" thing about? Do you in fact believe that your comments are getting deleted solely because of your race, gender, sexual orientation, income, religion, country of origin, age, or whatever?
posted by Spathe Cadet at 5:41 PM on September 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


It seems that most people who have disagreed with me here have gone immediately to personal attacks

Aside from ctmf's comment which has been discussed, I don't see a single thing above that could be read in any way as a personal attack.

I think that you are most likely feeling ganged-up upon, which is understandable, given how many people are chiming in to disagree with what you feel to be an earnest expression of your frustration with the site. It might be a good idea to just stand up and walk around the apartment/house/neighborhood for a couple minutes and remind yourself that this is just words on a screen. As far as I can tell, people are disagreeing with you because they are trying to help you find your way out of your frustration; if that does not seem to be the case in your own reading, try leaving for a bit and coming back with a fresh set of eyes. This is something that I have found extremely helpful for myself, which is why I suggest it.
posted by shakespeherian at 5:41 PM on September 6, 2015 [4 favorites]


It's probably true that you are valuing free and spirited debate more than the MetaFilter norm. Free and spirited debate is just one of many competing values and it is surely understandable that some folks value it more highly than others.

It sucks that you're just realizing this now after you've spent $5.00 on this; that $5.00 is gone forever now and mathowie probably did something frivolous with it, like pay the salaries of the moderators who have frustrated you so much.

But what could MetaFilter have done to make you better aware of the culture here prior to you making that financial commitment? It's not as if the site is a black box, available only to members: potential MeFites can read all the MeTas, see the mod notes where comments have been deleted, etc.

Also, is it at all worth considering that in almost every instance when a comment is deleted you have the ability to repost it in a way that conforms with site guidelines? The moderators will even help you with this if you ask them.
posted by MoonOrb at 5:41 PM on September 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


Metafilter: turn off the endless shitstorm
posted by Drinky Die at 5:41 PM on September 6, 2015


a large percentage of my comments on controversial topics have been deleted

100% of my deleted comments have been deleted.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 5:47 PM on September 6, 2015 [4 favorites]


Yeah, and academics have been discussing the meaning of civility for years. Many see it as code for speech that the powerful are not made uncomfortable by. And the appeal to civility as a way of silencing dissent is something that we should all be worried about.

Look I get it. I am not one of The Collective. You have made your collective hostilities toward both me and my comments very clear. I just wish people here would be more upfront about their substantive social and political commitments, and that acceptance of these commitments are required for "full", unhampered participation in discussions here, rather than attacking and silencing those who question the moderation practices.
posted by girl flaneur at 5:48 PM on September 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


Metafilter: turn off the endless shitstorm
Can that be a profile option?
posted by ctmf at 5:50 PM on September 6, 2015 [4 favorites]


Look I get it. I am not one of The Collective. You have made your collective hostilities toward both me and my comments very clear.

Perhaps you would be better off reading the actual responses to your points, rather than whatever fantasy thread you seem to be spinning in your head.

As far as I can tell, everyone in question has been painfully gentle with you. No one has been hostile except you.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:52 PM on September 6, 2015 [22 favorites]


I don't really care, but if you want to create an community that is open to diverse opinions....

We don't need to create one. We already have one. Metafilter has been around since 1999. Lots of lively debate here on all sorts of topics.

AskMetafilter has stricter moderation guidelines than the rest of the site to ensure it maintains its efficacy.
posted by zarq at 5:54 PM on September 6, 2015 [4 favorites]


Demographics are certainly related to civility; as many people have pointed out, speech is more likely to be dismissed as "uncivil" if it is coming from someone who is socially marginalized.
posted by girl flaneur at 5:54 PM on September 6, 2015


I just wish people here would be more upfront about their substantive social and political commitments, and that acceptance of these commitments are required for "full", unhampered participation in discussions here, rather than attacking and silencing those who question the moderation practices.

sure, make whatever wishes you like
posted by Greg Nog at 5:55 PM on September 6, 2015 [5 favorites]


Look I get it. I am not one of The Collective.

Look, to be honest, I have not read, to my knowledge, a single one of your comments before this thread. I don't spend a lot of time in the Ask MetaFilter portion of the site, which is where, apparently, the bulk of your activity has been. So I have pretty much zero idea what controversial, non-echo-chambery opinions you've expressed, other than your severe opposition to the moderation style of this site. All of my responses to you have been based entirely on what you're saying right now-- none of which has much of anything to do with political positioning, race, sex, et cetera. I am trying to respond to your questions as I understand their answers. I haven't said anything about civility or demographics, and I don't know anything about your relative civility or of your demographic. I would like you to stop being frustrated, because I have been frustrated, and I dislike it. I am trying to help. You seem uninterested in that.
posted by shakespeherian at 5:56 PM on September 6, 2015 [13 favorites]


As far as I can tell, everyone in question has been painfully gentle with you. No one has been hostile except you.


You don't think your previous comments were hostile? Saying that my ego was too weak to handle the comments here wasn't personalizing and hostile? Please.

I'm starting to think there are some collective perceptual processing errors being displayed here.

But again. I get it. I'm not one of you. I received the message loud and clear. You can stand down now.
posted by girl flaneur at 6:00 PM on September 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


I've seen the rules for civility here drive away both people who are very much in the Metafilter mainstream in regards to politics and those who are outside it. There are two separate issues there. It can be hard to comment here when you are outside of the mainstream. It's not intentional, just a result of a lot of human behaviors coming together. (I can tolerate everything but the outgroup.)

But, still, treating people with respect is a seperate thing and politics don't decide if you can do it or not. If you want to debate stuff GF, try posting on the blue more and see if you have the same issues. Outside of a few, very justified, areas you can say whatever you want if you do it respectfully and it is appropriate for the topic at hand. If that doesn't work out, then maybe the site isn't for you. That's not a negative judgement on you, this is actually a pretty odd place. I think it's very possible you won't have an issue though, Ask has very different standards. I can see how that can be confusing but I think the mods are pretty good at communicating it.
posted by Drinky Die at 6:00 PM on September 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Hey, your comments were deleted from the "advice thread" this is an entirely different form than Metafilter, or Metatalk. There isn't debate in the advice thread, it is just well reasoned advice. Sometimes people offer opposing solutions, but the advice thread is not for debate, it is for support.

You seem to be missing that very succinct point. If you want to start a debate thread, find an article from the web that you have a serious opinion about, post it as a an FPP, don't editorialize in the posting, and see what happens. Debate your heart out.
posted by Oyéah at 6:03 PM on September 6, 2015 [8 favorites]


But again. I get it. I'm not one of you. I received the message loud and clear. You can stand down now.

No one is sending you this message. Not even me, although I admit I am finding you intensely irritating.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:04 PM on September 6, 2015 [12 favorites]


What I'm finding curious is the insistence that viewpoints are being censored without naming those viewpoints. For, like, the whole conversation now.
posted by Spathe Cadet at 6:08 PM on September 6, 2015 [9 favorites]


(because the comments identifying the censored viewpoints were censored, I suppose)
posted by Spathe Cadet at 6:13 PM on September 6, 2015


At least 25 percent of them were.
posted by Drastic at 6:14 PM on September 6, 2015


Hey, if the moderators want to repost all my deleted comments in the contexts of the threads from which they were deleted from then we can see if I'm just making this all up or not. Otherwise, I guess you'll have to give me the benefit of the doubt: it is my perception that my comments on controversial topics have regularly been deleted because the moderators disagreed with my particular point of view.

And I haven't even gotten into the issue of self-censorship. Having learned that Metafilter will delete my comments on a controversial topic, I just won't bother to post on that topic again.

Yes, I am well aware that askmefi is a question and answer site, but it obviously isn't apolitical or value free.
posted by girl flaneur at 6:17 PM on September 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


One thing that's occurred to me sometimes is that it might be possible to argue that while MetaFilter purports to be mostly content neutral in its moderation, because the userbase skews somewhat progressive, the overall effect is to disproportionately moderate people who comment against the grain of that viewpoint. It would be analogous to a disparate impact argument regarding the discriminatory effect of facially neutral laws.

But--and this is a big, important but here--this isn't really an argument you make about AskMe, which is not intended in any way to be a debate space. As a number of folks have pointed out, some of the origin of the frustration you appear to be experiencing is in what looks to be a mismatch between your expectations of how AskMe is moderated and how AskMe is in fact moderated.
posted by MoonOrb at 6:17 PM on September 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


I would be willing to look at some examples if you want to describe them or the mods post them GF, but I gotta say as far as Ask I don't think I've ever seen a moderation decision I disagreed with before. (Actually, I recall one now. The Reiki thing.)
posted by Drinky Die at 6:19 PM on September 6, 2015


Hey, if the moderators want to repost all my deleted comments in the contexts of the threads from which they were deleted from then we can see if I'm just making this all up or not. Otherwise, I guess you'll have to give me the benefit of the doubt: it is my perception that my comments on controversial topics have regularly been deleted because the moderators disagreed with my particular point of view.

Some of these would be interesting to see, perhaps - but could you give us a bit of a hint about:
  • which topics you consider controversial?
  • why you think your response was censored?
Frankly, given how long it takes to hash over anything here - thirteen comments might take a while.

Also, a more general question: when you've had comments deleted in the past, why haven't you taken it to metatalk or to the moderators? In a more general sense, I'd like to think that this thread is really about encouraging new members to better understand what the site is about and making sure that the moderators know how the site is presenting itself. Your thought processes and actions in the wakes of these deletions would be useful to understand.
posted by Going To Maine at 6:26 PM on September 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


it is my perception that my comments on controversial topics have regularly been deleted because the moderators disagreed with my particular point of view.

Allowing for the impossibility of being wholly self-aware about my own biases, I guarantee you that is not the case as a matter of course. People post all kinds of shit I disagree with, sometimes vehemently, and it sticks around if there's not some unrelated policy or procedural issue with it. And I delete stuff I agree with on a regular basis because there is some unrelated issue with it.

It's been a part of the moderation ethos of this place, for as long as it has had one, that our job is to try and help conversations go okay here and question threads get answers, not to tune the site to any of our personal or political or ideological biases. Some of the heaviest lifting I've had to do on the site is in defense of positions or people I don't agree with at all, because that's what the job is.

Like I said before, I don't think I can convince you that you aren't being censored based on the controversiality of your opinions or how they conflict with mine or with any of the other mods, and that's basically fine because it's not something we need to agree about for you to participate here. But as a moderation staff we are really, really communicative about how we do our jobs, and I feel like I've talked about it a fair amount in this thread and your response has been to consistently just return to "no actually it's what I said" without acknowledging any of that other than to casually dismiss it out of hand.

Which if that's all we're gonna do, maybe let's just leave it at that at this point, because I don't want to frustrate you by prolonging this and I don't really want the extra frustration either.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:29 PM on September 6, 2015 [13 favorites]


Allowing for the impossibility of being wholly self-aware about my own biases, I guarantee you that is not the case as a matter of course. People post all kinds of shit I disagree with, sometimes vehemently, and it sticks around if there's not some unrelated policy or procedural issue with it. And I delete stuff I agree with on a regular basis because there is some unrelated issue with it.

At the same time, you said many of my posts were deleted because I was too "argumentative." Do you think judgments of what does and does not count as argumentative are always made in a completely neutral way? I don't think so. In fact, I'm not sure if this is even possible. Members of some groups in society have historically been heard as being much more "argumentative" than others. I'm not saying this is some big plot where you sit around a table and decide to exclude those who don't express the party line, but just because you don't do it intentionally doesn't mean it doesn't happen.

I don't actually have a list of my deleted comments, and I don't see a place on this site where that information is kept. My comments have been deleted when they have questioned a wide variety of politically correct doctrines.

Sometimes I have written to a moderator when my comment has been deleted, but I have never posted here because: look what happens.

Immediately there is some big pile on which turns personal real quick and then gas-lighting occurs and people deny that their personal attacks were really personal attacks (gas-lighting is something that Mefis are Very Much Against unless the accusation of gas lighting comes from someone who is not One of Us). The moderators are actually part of the pile on which doesn't give those who feel silenced too much reassurance.

Still, to go back to the topic of this thread, it is better to have this process available and open then to not have it at all.
posted by girl flaneur at 7:01 PM on September 6, 2015 [5 favorites]


The very fact you keep saying "comments on controversial topics" shows that you have seriously misconstrued how Ask works. We don't "comment on topics" on the Green, we answer questions. If side-chat sometimes stays up, it's because nobody reading the thread felt strongly enough to flag it so the mods could delete - the mods can't read the whole site in real time, so they depend on flagging.

I would, however, really like to know the actual percentage of comments deleted in Ask. Because I like numbers.
posted by gingerest at 7:05 PM on September 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


My comments have been deleted when they have questioned a wide variety of politically correct doctrines.

The longer you continue to be coy about what exactly the "politically correct doctrines" you've spoken out against are, the more I have to assume it's some combination of you wanting to be able to be sexist, racist, homophobic, misogynist, etc. If you don't want that to be the assumption (because 99% of the time people are coy about what they're being silenced about, that's what it is), maybe consider actually putting forth some details.
posted by tocts at 7:06 PM on September 6, 2015 [5 favorites]


I think I've made it clear that I understand how askmefi works. In answering people's questions I have had my comments removed either because people did not like my tone or because they did not like the content of my answer even though I was answering the stated question.
posted by girl flaneur at 7:09 PM on September 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


My comments have been deleted when they have questioned a wide variety of politically correct doctrines.

Comments on Ask are for answering, not questioning. I think if you questioned views on the blue you would have a different experience. I gotta say though, I don't think you are hearing us very well. I'm sorry the communication has broken down, not your fault and not ours, it just happens sometimes. We don't know the content of the comments so it's hard to judge them and pick out what exactly might help us get on the same page.
posted by Drinky Die at 7:10 PM on September 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


Tone matters in answering questions.

"How do I get to Smith Street?"

"Down two more blocks and then turn left."

"Down two more blocks, then turn left, can't you read a map? Don't you have a phone? What's wrong with you, dickhead?"
posted by gingerest at 7:13 PM on September 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Members of some groups in society have historically been heard as being much more "argumentative" than others.

On the internet no one knows you're a...well, whatever you are. Nobody knows what demographic segments, groups (historically marginalize, dominant, forgotten, or other) or whatever you are a part of. It's not possible that anyone is intentionally or due to implicit biases making judgements against you based on your group membership or demographic categories or interpreting your behaviour in light of those things because no one here knows demographic categories you fit into.

On reflection, I would guess that you're a native or near-native speaker of English, from your writing, but it would be a pretty deserted site if native English speakers were somehow being silenced, so that's probably not the demographic group you're concerned with.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 7:17 PM on September 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Sometimes I have written to a moderator when my comment has been deleted, but I have never posted here because: look what happens.

Immediately there is some big pile on which turns personal real quick and then gas-lighting occurs and people deny that their personal attacks were really personal attacks (gas-lighting is something that Mefis are Very Much Against unless the accusation of gas lighting comes from someone who is not One of Us). The moderators are actually part of the pile on which doesn't give those who feel silenced too much reassurance.

I’d agree that the fact that MetaTalk threads can turn into pile-on hell is a real problem for the community. That is, when you’re at the bottom of the pile related to a policy issue it’s pretty easy to feel beaten on. If ever there was a subsite that needed to allow flagging of comments as being redundant, MetaTalk is it. There’s limited benefit in hearing why everyone thinks you’re wrong seventeen different times when you can just hear it once and be told that sixteen Mefites concur with the comment.

That said, I don’t think I disagree with the impulse driving the pile-on: if MetaFilter as a collective thinks the site should be run one way, the end result of a MetaTalk should probably not be that the outside, minority opinion is made into a new site norm. But people shouldn’t feel afraid to bring up concerns, and -at the end of the process- not feel like they’ve been beaten on by some sort of mob or clique. I’m not sure what the best way to do that is, but it should remain an aspirational goal for metatalk that hasn’t yet been met.
posted by Going To Maine at 7:18 PM on September 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Q-Traveling to Portland, Oregon, next week. Where are some good places to eat?

A-There is no food in Portland worth eating, you comminist sympathiser! You are just going there to have an abortion, or buy the abundant bud, get a job you no good hippie welfare cheat! Portland is a Gommoran hell hole on earth, why would anyone want to go there except for nefarious and highly suspect reasons.

MOM, I TALKED WITH YOU ALREADY ABOUT STALKING ME ON THE WEB!
posted by Oyéah at 7:21 PM on September 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm not being coy; I honestly don't remember all the details and I don't have access to my deleted comments. And I'm pretty much the farthest thing from sexist, racist, or homophobic as you will find on this site.

The last time a comment was deleted was on the question about trigger warnings. I don't approve of trigger warnings; I think they are bad for free discourse and also bad for the people they are aiming to help. While I was able to make a comment (to my surprise) I wasn't able to make a follow up even though others were allowed follow ups. From what I could tell, the moderator thought it was objectionable for me to say that trigger warnings send the wrong sort of message to victims of trauma: the message that they are fragile and ill equipped to deal with dangerous ideas. I said that educators have a role to play in helping our students interpret their traumatic experience.

Granted, in this particular case I was allowed one comment. In other cases, I wasn't allowed to make any posts at all.
posted by girl flaneur at 7:21 PM on September 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Eh, I for one am not that interested in picking apart GF's deleted comments on MeTa, especially subjective descriptions of them in lieu of the real thing. Maybe cortex could email GF the text of them, and we could have a look at one or two representative examples if she likes.

It's kind of a derail from, but also a perfect example of, her original point: people should get to make a MeTa if they want. If she wants to hash out her deletions in public, she should get to, but re the original post: I bet just MeMailing cortex would be quicker and less painful.
posted by ctmf at 7:22 PM on September 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


At the same time, you said many of my posts were deleted because I was too "argumentative." Do you think judgments of what does and does not count as argumentative are always made in a completely neutral way? I don't think so.

Not completely neutral, no—and I'd say that goes both ways, so it's kind of odd to presume that if there's some bias driving that interpretation it's on the moderator side and not the user side when users have far less at stake when getting it wrong—but I think it's possible to get pretty darned close, and that's something we actively work to do. I recognize a lot of problematically argumentative behavior in comments that I otherwise agree with, and that gets those deleted. "Yes but what if you're biased" isn't a sufficient counter-argument against the idea that we're paying close attention to how we're moderating the site.

Members of some groups in society have historically been heard as being much more "argumentative" than others.

As a general thing, you are not telling me something I'm not aware of; we have had massive, detailed discussions on the site about the problems of power imbalances and asymmetrical perceptions of behavior and interaction, in the world at large and on Metafilter itself, and why those things can be so problematic and pernicious. It's something we talk about a lot and take really, really seriously. Treating that stuff in a fair and thoughtful way will always be a work in progress, but it's work we've been actively undertaking because we think it's important, as staff and as a community. It's bumpy sometimes, but its worth the effort.

If there is a specific group oppression or misrepresentation you think is at stake here, you can clarify that if you want, but to be clear I have zero idea what your demography is other than presumably not the "white, upper middle class, progressive" group whose comfort you suggested up thread is the driving force behind moderation. If you feel like it's relevant, that's okay and you can talk about it. You are under zero obligation to do so. But it's hard to have a discussion about an abstract demographic defined only as implicitly in opposition to another identity along one or more unspecified vectors.

I think I've made it clear that I understand how askmefi works.

Some of your comments on Ask don't line up with that, which is why they got removed. Which is not a big deal—neither you nor anybody else except the mods really needs to be an expert on how Ask works, a deletion's not a big deal and reworking a deleted answer to better fit with the guidelines is generally totally fine—but it's not something you can reasonably claim to have a better handle on than the people who actually work here and who created those guidelines.

I don't actually have a list of my deleted comments, and I don't see a place on this site where that information is kept.

Deleted comments aren't publicly accessible, but I can send you the text of your deleted comments if you like. If there's a specific comment you want to discuss in context here, I can pull that together as well.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:22 PM on September 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


I tend to flag jerky, argumentative answers in AskMe even if they also answer the question. Is it possible that's happening there? If that's the case, that seems like a problem you can totally solve and be able to happily participate here, something it looks like you manage to do 95% of the time?

If the problem is that your responses don't answer the question, maybe your assumption that you are well aware of how AskMe works is off base.

And, yeah, if it all boils down to an interpretation of your deleted comments there's nowhere left to take this if you are unable or unwilling to provide examples and the mods aren't going to lay them out here in this thread.

What's happened when you've had an answer deleted and asked a mod how you can rephrase it in a way that conforms to AskMe guidelines? Have you given this a shot? Just because an answer is deleted doesn't usually mean you cannot participate in that thread; it is more like "something about this answer doesn't meet the guidelines, feel free to rephrase and try again."
posted by MoonOrb at 7:26 PM on September 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Oh brother, of course people pick up on all sorts of things about your demographics even if they can't see your face. I'd bet $20.00 you are white.

If the moderator wants to post the content of the last post of mine that was deleted, that's a ok with me.
posted by girl flaneur at 7:28 PM on September 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


The last time a comment was deleted was on the question about trigger warnings. I don't approve of trigger warnings; I think they are bad for free discourse and also bad for the people they are aiming to help. While I was able to make a comment (to my surprise) I wasn't able to make a follow up even though others were allowed follow ups.

That's not true, though; you left one comment midway through the thread, here, and then had a followup with some problematic framing deleted later on of which you shortly thereafter reposted a better rewrite that was more constructive as an actual focused answer, here.

Which is basically how it usually works: if there's a framing problem with an otherwise decent answer, rewriting it and giving it another go is fine. No one is required to do so, but it's very much allowed if you want to try.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:35 PM on September 6, 2015 [5 favorites]


z-snap
posted by shakespeherian at 7:36 PM on September 6, 2015


Can you please post the comment that was deleted?
posted by girl flaneur at 7:37 PM on September 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


I think I've made it clear that I understand how askmefi works.

I don't think you have, actually. The one example you give seems like a pretty clear case of you not answering the question ("how would you prepare to teach a class?") as well as looking to debate, both of which are clearly against AskMe rules. The fact that at least one other, more descriptive comment also suggested an alternative to trigger warnings stayed tells us that your viewpoint wasn't being censored. Pretty much no one else seems to have this problem, and the AskMe rules have been around in roughly the same form for over a decade, so they're clearly not the problem.
posted by zombieflanders at 7:38 PM on September 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


The continued existence of comments saying Metafilter is a place where mods exercise political orthodoxy with the backing of the Collective in the form of deleting politically "unorthodox" comments disproves that orthodoxy's own existence. That's why these accusations usually don't bring up what the offense was, even obliquely. But then this has nothing to do with deleted comments or how to post in Ask; it's a platform for a generalized gripe about the site's user base.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 7:38 PM on September 6, 2015 [5 favorites]


I'd bet $20.00 you are white.

It depends what country I'm in. At this very moment am probably about 80% white. (As in, if you asked people who know me including a range of people who know more or less about about me, people who know me in different contexts, etc., I think 80% of such people in this country would say that I am white).

Does this mean I owe you $16?
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 7:39 PM on September 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Sure:
I do think there is a difference between giving a blanket notice on the first day of class and posting warnings connected to particular readings and assignments. I don't think even the former should be necessary, but given how we treat students with kid gloves nowadays, it is prudent. But the latter strategy further reinforces a problematic form of infantilism, in my view, simply in virtue of raising the issue over and over again throughout the semester. No matter what you call the warnings they are objectionable because of their repetition.

Sexual assault is terrible; I think we can all agree on that. However, people's reaction to their sexual assault very much depends on how we, as educators, frame what it means: if you suggest to victims that they are delicate flowers that can't handle surprises or open debate and discussion, then some of them will come to believe it. This would be tragic.

Moreover, as the OP indicates, once you establish a practice of warning students about content that might upset them, don't be surprised when the expectation is that they should be warned about *everything*. Case in point: the OP is asking if students should be warned about radical political views! Lord help us all.
posted by girl flaneur at 8:51 AM on August 29
Stripping out the "sexual assault is terrible, but..." and "lord help us all" stuff and focusing it more on a constructive statement of strategies you think are effective or ineffective and why vs. the chattier and more dismissive framing of the original made a big difference between a solid answer and a kind of scrapping sidebar complaint about stuff you dislike.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:40 PM on September 6, 2015 [4 favorites]


What's the inverse of not wanting to be a member of any organization that would have you as a member?
posted by phearlez at 7:41 PM on September 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


Gotta say GF, that first answer looks like something that is outside of the Metafilter mainstream but was well reasoned, thoughtful, and came from a place of expertise. It got 20+ favorites so it was clearly appreciated. The restatement of the deleted comment seems to hit the main points of the deleted comment very well. I'm not sure the deleted comment needed to go, if I was a mod I would not have deleted it, but even if you disagree with the deletion, it's not like your opinion was not allowed. I don't think that example really supports what you have been claiming here, and trust me, people around here know me as someone willing to criticize the mods when I think it is appropriate.
posted by Drinky Die at 7:45 PM on September 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


Ok, so please tell me what was so wrong with the deleted comment.

(I already acknowledged that it wasn't the best example, but I don't have a list of my deleted comments and this was the most recent deletion).
posted by girl flaneur at 7:47 PM on September 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


And for a little more context on that thread, there was one other user who got a couple comments deleted, who was really aggressively using it as a space to just kinda rant about trigger warnings in a way that wasn't remotely how Ask works; it was in response to that that taz left this note refocusing the question, and your deleted second comment (and its non-deleted rewrite) came along after that.

It's very much worth keeping an eye out if a mod has had to leave a note in a thread to try and steer clear of what may have become trouble spots; something that might have been sort of okayish as a borderline one-off in a thread is more likely to get nixed if it's happening multiple times and especially after a note about it, regardless of whether it's the same person in all cases, so it can be a frustration saver to watch for those and ask yourself whether what you want to add is likely to bump up against that thread-specific warning.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:47 PM on September 6, 2015 [8 favorites]


"What's the inverse of not wanting to be a member of any organization that would have you as a member?"

One that can and will bunt well.
posted by clavdivs at 7:55 PM on September 6, 2015


Well your deleted comment doesn't seem that off-base to me. It is answering the question and I don't think there's any rule against letting your opinion about a topic be known while answering the question.

BUT

The comment that was left in the thread (presmably posted after?) was WAY more useful and thoughtfully argued. For example "What kind of discussion would we have if people personally affected weren't in the discussion?" is a great point and maybe it's what you meant by "Lord help us..." but in your deleted comment that point doesn't really come across. I think if your hope was to persuade the OP to do a blanket warning instead of an item-by-item warning, then the comment left in is far more likely to do that then the deleted comment.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 7:56 PM on September 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Well, I made that comment before any warnings were issued.

So please, all the people who have been jumping all over me here, can you tell me, in detail, what was wrong with the deleted comment?

My interpretation: I'm not allowed to say that these warnings infantilize students or that educators have a role to play in shaping students' experiences of their trauma, because these are Not Positions Metafilter Endorses.
posted by girl flaneur at 7:57 PM on September 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Ok, so please tell me what was so wrong with the deleted comment.

Beyond what I wrote in the last paragraph of the comment of the comment where I quoted it? That's pretty much the story. It wasn't OMG THE WORST THING EVER or anything, it was just problematic enough as a framing that in an already bumpy thread that we'd had to leave a note in, nixing it was the call the mod on duty made. And you rewrote it better and that stayed and got no flags.

I don't know if you have an expectation that the threshold in Ask is a lot higher than it is, or something; it's not either (a) nuclear grade terrible or (b) a-okay, never deleted. Stuff that's not great gets removed on a regular basis, especially in particularly difficult threads. It's not a personal slight, it's just what Ask Metafilter's commenting guidelines are tuned to.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:58 PM on September 6, 2015 [5 favorites]


Was there some effort to promote MetaFilter as a place for "free and open debate," do people describe MetaFilter as a place for "Free and open debate," or do the materials in the signup process describe MetaFilter as focused on "Free and open debate?" If so, I am entirely unaware of it.

And in the spirit of "free and open," I'd like to proclaim that Butter Almond is the best flavor of ice cream, and make this thread a place to convince each and every one of you - and if you object, then clearly you're opposed to debate, both free and open, and certainly using your majoritarian privilege to silence it.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:05 PM on September 6, 2015


Well, I made that comment before any warnings were issued.

Again, I'm not clear what you mean here. The warning from taz that I linked was left at (server time) 1:08 AM on 8/29; you posted the deleted comment I quoted about seven and a half hours later, at 8:51 AM on 8/29, and the rewrite at 10:10 AM on 8/29.

My interpretation: I'm not allowed to say that these warnings infantilize students or that educators have a role to play in shaping peoples' experiences of their trauma, because these are Not Things Metafilter Endorses.

Your interpretation (a) ignores the stuff I actually said about it, and (b) ignores the fact that some comments in that thread, including your own rewritten comment, broach in parts the concerns you're surmising you're not allowed to broach.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:06 PM on September 6, 2015 [7 favorites]


Thanks for sticking around to talk about this stuff, gf.

I never noticed you before this MeTa post, but I've been reading some of your AskMe comments, and there's some good stuff there.

I am also someone who chafed at specifically AskMe's moderation at one time, but I have since come around on the subject. My sincere advice at this point is to try to preserve some space where something like that is within the realm of possibility for you.
posted by box at 8:07 PM on September 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


if you suggest to victims that they are delicate flowers that can't handle surprises or open debate and discussion

Calling victims of violence who might be triggered "delicate flowers that can't handle surprises" is a fairly dickish thing to say, and somewhat surprising pseudo-tough-talk coming from someone who's seemed so consistently thin-skinned in this thread.
posted by Greg Nog at 8:09 PM on September 6, 2015 [34 favorites]


Butter Almond is the best flavor of ice cream

You aren't even wrong. Graeter's Buckeye Blitz is tied with B&J's Triple Caramel Chunk for best.


Butter Almond. As if.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 8:12 PM on September 6, 2015


When you editorialize in AskMe you risk having a comment deleted; your editorialization isn't necessary to answer the question. Sometimes, editorializing either won't get flagged (and therefore won't be deleted) or isn't the type of editorializing that is problematic in AskMe (Oh boyI I love cake! It's going to be so obvious how much I love cake by the way I write this answer!--this is ok).

But the editorializing you were doing can be problematic, because it invited debate. Also, it was kind of jerky. If you want to be a jerk, btw, there are SO MANY opportunties on MF to do it! Just not on AskMe. So you can totally quench that thirst here in MeTa or on the blue. Had you skipped out on the criticism of the OP and the "Lord Help Us All!" swipe at the end, you'd sound less silly right now.

So, first port of call for you, specifically, would be to avoid dropping shit like "Lord help us all!" about the OP into your answers. But you seem to have this figured out 95% or so of the time; just do what you do 95% of the time closer to 100% of the time and you should be good to go here.
posted by MoonOrb at 8:13 PM on September 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


So please, all the people who have been jumping all over me here, can you tell me, in detail, what was wrong with the deleted comment?

My interpretation: I'm not allowed to say that these warnings infantilize students or that educators have a role to play in shaping students' experiences of their trauma, because these are Not Positions Metafilter Endorses.

I’m surprised that the comment was deleted because I’ve seen lots of spicier stuff stay. (Of course, I also don’t much use Ask.) From my experiences on the blue, I wouldn’t say that MetaFilter or its moderators have a single collective opinion on trigger warnings, so would have probably either escalated this deletion to the mods with the Contact Form, or else tried to unpack what went wrong and then resubmit. Since trying to read minds hasn’t served me well in the past, I’d probably try the former.
posted by Going To Maine at 8:14 PM on September 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Cookies N' Cream.
posted by Drinky Die at 8:18 PM on September 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


My interpretation: I'm not allowed to say that these warnings infantilize students or that educators have a role to play in shaping students' experiences of their trauma, because these are Not Positions Metafilter Endorses.

I'm actually pretty sure these are both positions I have seen heartily endorsed by members here.

What is not endorsed, especially on the green, is a fighty pile on if that's already been nuked and a redirect left in thread.

The mods have a very tight line to walk here between what you are suggesting in this thread and others such as this.

It means things become extremely facts and circumstances dependent and there are no bright line rules. As always, context is everything.

Your comments on the green are very insightful. So much so I did a double take on seeing how this thread has developed over the last few hours. I hope you keep posting on the green. But maybe take the need for "spirited debate" to the blue?
posted by susiswimmer at 8:21 PM on September 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Well, I don't know the precise time of the deleted comment since I don't have access to it, so I guess I have to take you at your word. Your interventions here seem somewhat "gotcha" to me. My sense is that you are committed to showing Your Community that I'm wrong. I don't like that in a moderator.

I have said over and over again that this isn't the best example of my larger point since I was allowed to post, but I do maintain that something was lost in my revised post. So far, no one had pointed to anything Very Wrong with it, and the fact that someone else's post was problematic shouldn't give moderators reason to delete my comment.

Making people rewrite their posts when you disagree with their content is still a form of objectionable censorship. Suppose I wasn't as stubborn as I am? Given the homogeneity of most of the answers on that thread, I think it would have been worse without my comments (that isn't to claim that I was right). I think many viewpoints are missing on metafilter because of this additional hurdle some of us are being asked to clear.
posted by girl flaneur at 8:23 PM on September 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


And totally cookies and cream. Especially if you make a milkshake out of it and put in creme de menthe.
posted by susiswimmer at 8:25 PM on September 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


There's an inherent problem in AskMetafilter that is really, really annoying. That is: Sometimes people post opinions about the question and its possible answers rather than just posting answers, which is what the site is for. If you've posted more than a handful of questions there, you will have experienced this personally.

My most recent question (I think) was about how to remove a small dent in my car. There was an inevitable answer about whether I should even bother. Whether I should bother wasn't my question. If it had been, I would have asked "Should I bother trying to remove this dent from my car?" My actual question was how to remove the dent, not whether I should. That comment discouraging me from even trying (and my snippy response to it) was deleted, which is how AskMe is supposed to work.

The deleted comments you're complaining about were in a thread about how to do trigger warnings, not whether to do trigger warnings. On AskMetafilter, the point of the question is determined by the person who asks it, not all the many people who have opinions about the question itself.

That's a fundamental tenet of the site. You need to be able to accept it to participate. Otherwise, off to Yahoo Answers with you. (And by 'you,' I mean the general 'you.')
posted by mudpuppie at 8:26 PM on September 6, 2015 [19 favorites]


(Wait who I am I kidding. I meant the specific you as well.)
posted by mudpuppie at 8:28 PM on September 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


And totally cookies and cream. Especially if you make a milkshake out of it and put in creme de menthe.

I know what I'm doing tomorrow. And it also sounds like a good St. Patrick's day idea.

The deleted comments you're complaining about were in a thread about how to do trigger warnings, not whether to do trigger warnings.

I'm not sure that is accurate, there is at least some borderline stuff there like: Do I need to include a trigger warning on my syllabus? And the title is a "Do you, would you want one?" formulation. GF saying "I don't do it" is a valid answer to my mind.

Again, GF, I think you are right the comment didn't necessarily need to be deleted, but you are kind of making a federal case out of a molehill if we just work on this example. I do understand you don't think it is the best example, but I'm just working with what I can see here.

I understand you don't like that the actions of others may have led to your deletion, but that is in truth a fact of life here. I find it frustrating at times too. If that is a dealbreaker, it's a dealbreaker, but I don't think it has to be.
posted by Drinky Die at 8:33 PM on September 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


And finally, because it apparently is taking me multiple comments to say what I mean: It's the moderation of AskMetafilter that makes it a useful site. That the mods delete comments that aren't germane to question, or don't directly answer it, is a good thing. The site is meant to be useful to the person asking the question. It is not meant to serve as a platform to the random person answering it who has capital-O Opinions on the subject.
posted by mudpuppie at 8:36 PM on September 6, 2015 [9 favorites]


Well, I don't know the precise time of the deleted comment since I don't have access to it, so I guess I have to take you at your word. Your interventions here seem somewhat "gotcha" to me. My sense is that you are committed to showing Your Community that I'm wrong. I don't like that in a moderator.

This goes back to a problem that LobsterMitten mentioned upthread: many of the options available to mods can always be interpreted in the worst light. Do you have a sense of how cortex could have responded to your comments in order to not come across as playing “gotcha”?
posted by Going To Maine at 8:38 PM on September 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Well, I don't know the precise time of the deleted comment since I don't have access to it, so I guess I have to take you at your word. Your interventions here seem somewhat "gotcha" to me. My sense is that you are committed to showing Your Community that I'm wrong. I don't like that in a moderator.

I'm not going to ignore it if someone asserts stuff about the site, things that have happened on it, and how moderation works that are untrue; it's literally my job to respond and explain stuff, and it's important to me that people don't misrepresent this place even if I can sympathize with the specific frustrations they're feeling while they do so. It's not an attempt to gotcha you, I have zero animus toward you; it's an attempt to be clear about the actual details of the situation. I said earlier I'm fine letting this be if you want, but that's gotta be a mutual thing because unlike anybody else in this thread I'm actually required to be here.

So far, no one had pointed to anything Very Wrong with it

Again, "Very Wrong" is not the standard of deletion in Ask Metafilter. It's okay if that's not what you'd prefer, but what you'd prefer doesn't change how the site works or why it works that way. If your goal is to state the case that you dislike it, that's fine, and you've done so. If your goal is to run into less friction in the future, tweaking your comment-writing process to accommodate that will probably pay off pretty well.

Making people rewrite their posts when you disagree with their content

Again, it's not content, it's framing. There is very, very little a person couldn't present as a good-faith answer in Ask Metafilter so long as it's answering the question and not being jerky or fightstarting or tonedeaf. You can find the idea of comment deletion objectionable, but that's again just something for you to sort out in terms of whether and how you want to participate here, not something that's going to change for you.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:38 PM on September 6, 2015 [15 favorites]


Reading both comments, it's pretty clear the content remained the same, though the language changed. I think seeing that will go a long way towards minimalizing the importance of a deletion, which in this case just looks like being nudged away from a derail. Going even further I guess would be to remove the expectation of malicious intent, but hanging onto it for whatever reason is a choice people continue to be free to make around here. I just don't see what purpose it serves to project ill will onto people who've been demonstrably helpful.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 8:52 PM on September 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


I just wanted to start a running list of all the names I have been called in the course of this discussion here: irritating, asshole*, ego too weak, hostile, condescending, fragile ego, dickish, thin- skinned, jerk.

While I criticized the site and it's members, I didn't call any particular people names.

The name calling doesn't actually bother me, but when I see all this name calling being allowed while 5% of my total comments are deleted due to my tone and civity issues, well, that is certainly frustrating. And no, I deny that the content of my two posts were the same.

No one has give a satisfactory answer about why my last post was deleted. You are collectively fooling yourselves if you don't acknowledge that this form of censorship is censorship and has real costs. We could go through all my deleted posts, but I think we will keep arriving at the same point: I have been asked to clear higher hurdles and sometimes my posts haven't been been allowed at all *because of their content*.

The moderation on this particular thread hasn't strived for neutrality but has instead contributed to the pile on. I think moderators should be sensitive to the dynamics of the conversation: when there is an obvious mobbing occurring, the moderator should either step back or try to be charitable to the person being mobbed.

I don't know. I like answering questions on askmefi, and I believe I contribute a unique perspective to some questions. But I loathe cliquishness, and I hate both hard and soft censorship. Most disappointing, however, is the weird bite back response that meets anyone who questions the moderation policy. I'm not some loon or a racist or sexist; I am a person who enjoys discussion and providing my point of view in response to people's questions. But instead of taking my concerns seriously, the Collective responds with real nastiness and closed mindedness and engages very little in terms of debate and discussion.

* lots of questions arose about whether I was even called this at all. So maybe we should add "crazy" to the list as a tacit insult.
posted by girl flaneur at 9:18 PM on September 6, 2015 [6 favorites]


girl flaneur, I have put in way too much effort in an attempt to communicate with you, and all you've given back is the same blank assertion you began with, while also claiming that you've been offered 'very little in terms of debate and discussion.'

I'm not sure what you want at this point. A lot of people have done a lot to offer debate and discussion, and you have ignored all of it.

Good luck in your endeavors.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:22 PM on September 6, 2015 [4 favorites]


So maybe we should add "crazy" to the list as a tacit insult.

Not from where I'm sitting, no. "Disingenuous", maybe. "Axe-grinding", maybe. "Argumentatively dishonest", probably.
posted by Lexica at 9:25 PM on September 6, 2015 [10 favorites]


Hey, let me tell you a fact: if you are on a site where people call you names and generally don't appreciate you, it's probably better to move on. I don't mean that in a mean way, but in a self preservation way. If you're doing stuff that people don't appreciate, and they are being shits to you, it's better to talk to people who like you more. There are definitely sites where people think I suck, and i don't hang out on those sites much. To some extent that's just the luck of the draw, you get off on the wrong foot or whatever, but you should take care of yourself either way.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 9:27 PM on September 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


So maybe we should add "crazy" to the list as a tacit insult.

Well, no, but since you seem to believe what you believe and no amount of what anyone else is saying is helping, then I guess the only possible answer now is:

Ok. Your opinion is noted.
posted by ctmf at 9:51 PM on September 6, 2015


You really really don't seem to understand the subsite differences. You're providing useful answers over in Ask Metafilter, so maybe hang out there if you can tolerate the moderation and ignore this section? Metatalk can be rough, but I have to say that you have been treated incredibly gently, probably because people are still wincing from the MeTa that prompted this one. If you wish to continue providing answers on Ask, and keep to yourself your philosophical differences with what you perceive to be the MeFi zeitgeist, then everybody wins.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 9:51 PM on September 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Also--regarding how people here have described you with words like "condescending" or "thin-skinned" or "irritating," keep in mind that if they were to bring that same approach to answering questions on AskMe, it's likely they'd have those answers deleted--kind of how like your answer where you said "Lord help us!" about the OP of the AskMe was deleted.

But if you wanted to slide a "Lord help us!" or whatever into one of your comments here, in MeTa, it wouldn't get deleted, or even probably merit a warning note from a mod.

So you're comparing apples to oranges a bit when you're stacking up the expectations on AskMe (most tightly moderated part of the site) with the expectations for MeTa (least tightly moderated).
posted by MoonOrb at 9:52 PM on September 6, 2015 [6 favorites]


From where I sit, this seems unfortunate because it reads like a good-faith effort has been put forward by many mefites to explain why the comment was deleted, and these efforts are going nowhere. GF, if you’re still reading this, I have some questions:
  • What sort of explanation would you ideally like? Highlighted sentences with keys going back to a document?
  • Do you accept the idea that the standard for deletion is somewhat subjective and moderator dependent?
  • I asked it before, but I’d still love to know: what sort of intervention do you think cortex should have made to avoid seeming like he was playing “gotcha”?
posted by Going To Maine at 10:00 PM on September 6, 2015


Dear Going to Maine,
People have said that the standard for deletion is fuzzy, that the previous comments on the thread matter, and that I was able to reframe all that I wanted to say in my subsequent comment that was permitted.

I disagree with all these assertions. I don't feel like I was able to say what I wanted to say, and I don't think it should matter if other commentators made objectionable comments so long as my comment was well reasoned, supported, and answered the question. I was hoping people would be able to point to something that supported the deletion that didn't amount to not endorsing the content. Or some engagement with my claim that it is wrong to require some people to rewrite their comments when there is a disagreement about the content while allowing other commentators to post freely.


As far as the moderation on this thread goes, I believe the moderator should not have made things personal from the outset. Once he did make things personal, I think he should have tried to remain neutral instead explicitly taking the side of the mob. Every one of his comments was to tell me I was wrong; at no point did he acknowledge that there was something to be said in support of any of my claims, nor did he criticize others. I don't need anyone to hold my hand, and I get that many of the members don't value my contributions and would like me to go elsewhere, but it does no good for a moderator to flame the fires of the in-group.
posted by girl flaneur at 10:21 PM on September 6, 2015 [5 favorites]


I was hoping people would be able to point to something that supported the deletion that didn't amount to not endorsing the content.

Many users did. But as you have chosen to "disagree with those assertions" there may not be much more anyone can do for you here.
posted by susiswimmer at 10:33 PM on September 6, 2015 [6 favorites]


As far as the moderation on this thread goes, I believe the moderator should not have made things personal from the outset. Once he did make things personal, I think he should have tried to remain neutral instead explicitly taking the side of the mob.

Good lord. Go back and read your first comment, and the comment from cortex that followed it.

Here, I'll do it for you. You said:

One thing to do is to be more upfront about how much moderation goes on behind the scenes. I have had many, many posts deleted, and I find it very strange to read time and again about how few posts are censored on this site. Let's get real about how many posts are actually deleted and why, but don't take away or restrict access to the one spot where people can openly air their grievances; that makes no sense at all.

Cortex immediately responded:

But as a basis for implying some obfuscated aggressive campaign of deletion, your non-generalizable personal experience of having a baker's dozen out of close to three hundred comments deleted isn't really good footing, given that we're totally unambiguous about the fact that this is a moderated site and have talked at great length in Metatalk about how and when moderation happens.

That's not a moderator making things personal. That is a moderator addressing you, addressing your point, and being fucking responsive to you.

If a moderator talks to you, you think they're attacking you. That is a you problem. It is not a site problem, or a moderator problem.

Jesus. What's the point of engaging? (She said to herself as she walked away muttering and sputtering.)
posted by mudpuppie at 10:34 PM on September 6, 2015 [28 favorites]


What's the point of engaging?

If there was a point, there isn't any longer. The wheel will apparently turn forever. cortex has given his answer, patiently, politely and at length, and I think that's as good as it's going to get. GF can either take it in good faith or continue to live in their ridiculous persecution fantasy, as they see fit.

I suggest the rest of us let it lie.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 10:52 PM on September 6, 2015 [5 favorites]


So (she said, clearing her throat, cracking her neck, rotating her shoulders) what useful feedback can we extract from this? A year-long user of AskMe perceives that a 4-5% answer deletion is excessive and that moderation has been politically motivated. The user shares this in MeTa because some community members have been trying to identify ways in which new users can be attracted and kept.
Are there ways in which we can change the UX to make it more clear what the expectations in AskMe are, to decrease the deletion rate for outliers like this user? I think the first step needs to be to work up some numbers (I still like numbers but this time it's because quantitation is useful here) to describe whether there is a frequently occuring type of new user who contributes to AskMe with a higher than average rate of deletion, who eventually and prematurely quits the site. Is this worth sending pb after? If a significant user profile exists, is it a major issue likely to affect the future of the site, and if so, what are the ways to fix that?
posted by gingerest at 10:52 PM on September 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


I'm not seeing a huge difference between your deleted comment and your reframed one, except that the former took a dig at the questioner for wondering if they might need to give warnings for radical politics. That's pretty rude. If they knew where to draw the line on warnings, they wouldn't have asked for help. No big deal, we've all rolled our eyes at someone's question. But if we type out our exasperation it gets deleted and you can try again if you want.

And if you think your answer shouldn't be deleted because of how the thread in general is going, I don't know what to tell you. That's not how it works here. AskMeFi isn't about your right to say whatever you think, it's about the questioner's right to ask a sincere question and get useful information.

I know the topic of trigger warnings is just an example based on the last deletion you had, but if you really want to discuss trigger warnings, where you can voice an opinion instead of having to conform to the AskMe format, this thread on the blue (i.e. Metafilter's main site) is still open for a few days. It was pretty good about moving beyond a 101-level discussion of "what is a trigger warning " because the linked article for discussion was about exploring alternatives. This is partly because the mods deleted the knee-jerk "ugh who cares" comments which let people who have experience as teachers, students and victims of assault lead the discussion instead.
posted by harriet vane at 11:01 PM on September 6, 2015 [6 favorites]


I don't think a moderator talking to me is attacking me; I think a moderator being critical of a poster who is expressing an unpopular view and who is already on the receiving end of a torrent of harshly worded criticisms is not helpful.

As far as responding to my point goes, we could have had a general discussion of people's expectations regarding moderation when they read that fewer than 1% of comments are deleted but experience many of their comments being deleted. And we could have done this without having a general pile on me.

I don't know why I am being described as dismissive of peoples' comments. I've answered and responded, but I don't agree with the majority's views, and I've pointed out areas which I think require further response. Just because I don't agree with you doesn't mean I haven't been doing my best to respond to your arguments.

I'm irritated because my comments are getting deleted for what strike me as politically motivated reasons. And then instead of listening to and responding to what I say, people here simply defend the status quo in a knee jerk manner.

But if you want to sit around in a circle and congratulate yourselves on your community, go ahead. Obviously my contributions are not valued.
posted by girl flaneur at 11:05 PM on September 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


I don't know why I am being described as dismissive of peoples' comments. I've answered and responded, but I don't agree with the majority's views, and I've pointed out areas which I think require further response.

I think we are probably in agree to disagree territory at this point. You have stated your views. Other people responded. We haven't found consensus and still seem to be talking past each other to a degree, and I don't think the course of this conversation is heading in the direction of consensus and understanding.

Please stick around on the site if you find the conditions tolerable enough, I think you are an interesting and valuable voice here.
posted by Drinky Die at 11:16 PM on September 6, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm irritated because my comments are getting deleted for what strike me as politically motivated reasons.

You are mis-stricken.
posted by carsonb at 11:17 PM on September 6, 2015


as an intelligent and educated person, I would like to know what system you propose where moderators (humans who are biased) don't have bias in their actions

there is no such thing. so this is all such a big waste of time, for you to prove bias (there obviously is bias) and complain about it; and for people to assert that it doesn't exist. a waste!
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 11:24 PM on September 6, 2015


instead of listening to and responding to what I say

Oh, for heaven's sake: the last 12 hours of this thread have been all about you. If you'd stop being so invested in your ostracized-for-my-opinions position, you'd notice that many posters have been trying very hard to engage with you during that time.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 11:25 PM on September 6, 2015 [14 favorites]


I was hoping people would be able to point to something that supported the deletion that didn't amount to not endorsing the content.

This seems like a fundamental difficulty: it’s accepted on Ask that tone is important, and folks do seem to have generally agreed that they thought the tone of the deleted comment was somewhere in the yellow-to-red zone.

Or some engagement with my claim that it is wrong to require some people to rewrite their comments when there is a disagreement about the content while allowing other commentators to post freely.

This seems like a second fundamental disagreement: it’s accepted on all of the sites that it’s okay for peoples’ comments to be deleted for any mod-judged reason and then be rewritten to fit better. Of course, if you think that a particular deletion was bad then you have the option of complaining to the mods or to MetaTalk.

To my mind, the challenge remains making MetaTalk seem, well, soft. But I do think that folks are -generally- trying to be soft here! It’s a tough nut to crack.
posted by Going To Maine at 11:32 PM on September 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


I am trying very hard to value your contributions. There are a half-dozen people in this thread - one of them cortex - who have been trying really hard to address the verifiable matters you are raising without engaging the opinions you hold about site culture with which they disagree.

We don't have data to say whether a 5% deletion rate is really that unusual in Ask - the overall site rate is 1%, but by definition, a mean across the three main subsites is affected by the proportion of people commenting in each subsite and the rate at which deletions occur, and if I'm reading the URLs right, since the sites started, there have been about half again as many comments on MetaFilter proper (the Blue) as AskMe (the Green). So if the Blue, which should have a lower deletion rate under the Rules (because AskMe has all the same rules as the Blue, plus the Answer the Question and Do Not Chat rules), also has more comments than the Green, it will drive the mean rate down. Moreover, as a professor, you are aware that means aren't the be-all and end-all of describing performance. They are disproportionately affected by outliers. If there are lots of people who pop into Ask once or twice and drop an answer that stays, so that they have deletion rates of 0%, they are going to drive the average deletion rate down as well.

Would you still feel as silenced if you knew that your deletion rate was about the same as other users who've answered about 300 questions?
posted by gingerest at 11:36 PM on September 6, 2015 [1 favorite]


Girl flaneur, is it too late to ask what you would have liked to see happen -- unrelated to this thread -- when you noticed that some of your comments were deleted and it seemed like more of them were gone than you expected, given your initial expectations/impressions of the site? I agree with you that this is a more productive path to go down, if you aren't tired of this thread already.
posted by daisyk at 11:42 PM on September 6, 2015


she would like us to admit that we are the PC police
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 11:44 PM on September 6, 2015 [6 favorites]


sorry, I'm having a moment and that is not something I should have said. Apologies
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 11:45 PM on September 6, 2015 [7 favorites]


OK: mob wins.

With one or two exceptions, you have shown that this is actually a closed community that is much more interested in some vague notions of the Rules of Metafilter than the exchange of ideas or debate.

I'm not personally threatened when someone disagrees with me; instead, I respond. For example, someone says "oh, but you can just revise your comment and repost," and I point out that this is a form of censorship that can be costly and then. Crickets. No one responds to that claim, but instead people tell me they don't care about my views or resort to name calling or say, "don't engage with gf" as if I'm a troll. This is after I've been here a year and racked up over 1000 popularity points.

I just reread some of the postings on the previous thread that this thread is a response to, and that confirmed my sense that this place is more about the community feeling good about itself and less about discussion and debate.

Sorry, I care about ideas too much to sacrifice them to some vague set of standards that can't even be articulated. While you (that is the collective you) clearly see yourself as superior to politically conservative sites, members here share the very same hostility to independent thought and actual debate.

I have no desire to mold myself into some podperson so I'm not five times more likely than average to get a post deleted.

It is obvious that this place is predominately white, liberal, upper middle class, and I suspect many of you would really like to keep it that way. Well, congratulations. Starting today, the site just got whiter, more liberal, and more upper middle class because I have gotten the message: the white pseudoprogressive people of metafilter would rather read posts on the blue about racism, sexism, and heterosexism than actually engage with a real POC, on Metafilter, who has views that diverge from the received wisdom of the Collective.
posted by girl flaneur at 11:54 PM on September 6, 2015 [3 favorites]


/headdesk
posted by Drinky Die at 12:00 AM on September 7, 2015 [13 favorites]


For example, someone says "oh, but you can just revise your comment and repost," and I point out that this is a form of censorship that can be costly and then. Crickets.

You pointed it out but you didn't provide any reasoning. Why should anyone change their mind just because you say so? What is the cost of rewriting?

You have not engaged with the responses to your claims at all. You merely repeat that you feel silenced for political reasons. You haven't at all acknowledged that AskMe is not a debate club.

The site isn't going to change it's policies just because you don't like them. It has in the past changed policies because people put forward a solid case for change.
posted by harriet vane at 12:03 AM on September 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


/headdesk

It was a valiant effort, DD. Good try, at any rate.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 12:06 AM on September 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


METAFILTER: It is obvious that this place is predominately white, liberal, upper middle class, and I suspect many of you would really like to keep it that way.

they wouldn't post it if it wasn't true.
posted by philip-random at 12:14 AM on September 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Given that it’s clear that that the mefites who read MetaTalk don’t agree with your perception of the deletions and you consider those deletions to be a deal-breaker, then yes, this is probably a moment for a parting of the ways. I think everyone here does want MetaFilter to be the best site it can be, and there seem to be some basic disagreements about that.

You’re obviously still a valued member of AskMe, so I would hope that you don’t go - or at least don’t stay away for long.

If you decide to come back to MetaTalk and with a more concrete case that you or the site have been meaningfully harmed by deletions, I think we’d be happy to hear it. Everyone, mods included -or, really, especially- wants this place to be a good one.
posted by Going To Maine at 12:15 AM on September 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


Silenced 5% of my life.
posted by tonycpsu at 12:24 AM on September 7, 2015 [41 favorites]


the white pseudoprogressive people of metafilter would rather read posts on the blue about racism, sexism, and heterosexism than actually engage with a real POC, on Metafilter, who has views that diverge from the received wisdom of the Collective.

Incidentally, several of the handful of people who attempted to engage with you in this course of this Sisyphean trainwreck are POC, including myself.

In the last five years, no one has ever had a problem with me on the basis of my ethnicity or cultural background, which I am open about and have discussed many times here, often in fraught threads. I've been in the minority on some issues, and that's been fine too.

You might want to think about what else you were wrong about.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 12:30 AM on September 7, 2015 [29 favorites]


So, trying to move this out from being specifically personal, one thing that we've been talking about is general housekeeping and updating of FAQ and site information, and also how to juggle things to do stuff like make the contact info more visible / informative while also dealing with incredibly tight real estate on menu bars, how to deal with same in different views, and so on... so we've been evaluating some items, and I think we can look at making the "about" information a little more helpful, though, as always, a lot of that is going to depend on the expectations of the user.

For example, we could make it very clear that Ask Me is absolutely not a discussion / debate area in the About intro. Of course, this doesn't address, for example, someone who thinks Ask Me is for promoting their own products or spamming, or those who feel like Ask Me is the space to try to insult / shame the poster, or make jokes, or make suggestions that don't really have to do with the question, not to mention the basic guidelines for posts (vs commenting) – and of course, if we put alllll that on the About page very few would read it, but I think we can look at this as a trying to keep it fairly minimal while being quite clear about the raison d'être of that part of the site: members try to help posters to solve their specific/concrete problem, not discuss / debate with other commenters or the OP, plus prominently re-emphasizing that people can contact us with questions.

(LobsterMitten is much better at analyzing, phrasing, and organizing, don't worry – it won't sound as bad as my shorthand!)

Also, I've just manually looked up some deletion stuff in Ask Me for the last week, and will post a separate comment in a bit, in an effort to add a wee dab of statistical info in lieu of not having specific datadump figures at hand this moment, which some have been asking about (and which maybe cortex or pb can wizard up at some point).
posted by taz (staff) at 12:30 AM on September 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


Does the info dump contain anything about deleted material - that is, posts and comments? If not, it’d be nice if there was something, even anonymized.
posted by Going To Maine at 12:38 AM on September 7, 2015


I'm a (mixed) WOC and I am not shy about speaking up when I think there's a collective blind spot due to Mefi's userbase being relatively privileged. Most of the people (there's always a handful of jerks) who respond are thoughtful, gracious, and genuine in their engagement. I have, too, seen slow but actual change--there's certain microaggressions that were relatively common when I joined up 5 years ago that don't get said much anymore, certain topics that used to be inevitable total shitshows that are now, well, better in various increments.

I've had a couple of comments deleted when doing this--at least one where I told people to fuck off (the comment stood when I reposted it without that) a handful that were deleted alongside other people's comments because it was turning into a derail. I'm okay with that. I've had all kinds of comments deleted when I wasn't challenging "the consensus", too, because they were parts of derails or I was getting fighty or whatever. That's okay, too.
posted by kagredon at 1:37 AM on September 7, 2015 [9 favorites]


"I’m surprised that the comment was deleted because I’ve seen lots of spicier stuff stay. (Of course, I also don’t much use Ask.)"

"The name calling doesn't actually bother me, but when I see all this name calling being allowed while 5% of my total comments are deleted due to my tone and civity issues, well, that is certainly frustrating."

The AskMe (the Green) is much more tightly moderated than the main site (the Blue) and the least moderated subsection is MetaTalk (the Gray).

That is because they have different purposes - AskMe's primary purpose is to be helpful, so fighty, derailing, and insulting things are removed frequently when flagged. So are derails, extraneous things, and excessive questioning of the OP.

Moderation has tightened on the Blue in response to derails along axes of discrimination (flagging people who frame things as doubting racism exists in a thread about racism's effects, for example, may now result in a deletion), but it still remains significantly fightier.

The Gray remains very fighty, but members recently seem to have attempted to be less pile-ony and insulting; this is an individual choice rather than something moderated. The Gray will always be the most fighty.

I don't know how easy it would be to communicate the different deletion styles (my perception is that IRL, Projects, and Fanfare all have the least deletion but that is due to infrequent need not a different standard). Thinking back to my early days, I came to the Blue and the Gray very fighty and mellowed over time, and I didn't do much on the Green. I picked up on the tighter Green moderation through convo here, and thought it made sense, but I could see someone having a shock at the difference between the Gray and the Green.
posted by Deoridhe at 1:39 AM on September 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


Okay, here is some small info on deletions over a week beginning last Monday. Understand that I'm looking at these by day, so if on Monday, say, two were deleted from a specific thread, it doesn't mean that the thread has only two comment deletions, just that only two were deleted on Monday. Also, I have given deletion reasons only when more than one comment was deleted from a single thread, just because it would take too much time to track down all the "one-offs," I did this all manually, so it's fairly time-consuming. This may be confusing, so ask if anything isn't clear!

August 31, Monday: there were 7 comments deleted, all from different threads

Sept 1 Tues: 13 comments deleted:

6 from different threads

5 from one thread for arguing/debate (one comment that was a weird assumption that didn't follow from the post, and 4 responding to that)

2 from one thread that were 1 non-answer (discussion about the vaguely general topic) and one Meta Comment ("why was my comment deleted?")

Sept 2, Wed: 9 comments deleted

6 from different threads

3 from one thread (all answers that were outside the parameter of the question; for example, "what are items from A to G," and answers were M, P, S)

Sept 3 Thurs: 9 comments were deleted

1 from one thread (metacommentary about someone else's comment, ie "you shouldn't discuss that here")

8 from one thread (OP asked for factual evidence about the question rather than personal opinion, and they were all personal opinion)

Sept 4, Fri: 7 comments were deleted

5 from different threads

2 from one thread that were both jokes

Sept 5, Sat: 7 comments were deleted

1 from one thread that was already covered in the question (like, "do X" when the post said, "I've tried X"

2 from one thread that included one that had multiple reasons, but also included a slur term, plus one non-answer

4 from one thread that was a touchy-subject sort of thread; 2 were debating among commenters, 1 was a non-answer to the actual question; 1 was multiple reasons, but also included a slur term

Sept 6, Sun: 10 comments were deleted

3 from different threads

5 from one thread that was a fairly touchy subject post, including two typo-related deletions, two nonanswers, and one arguing with another commenter

2 from one thread that were one suggesting something op mentioned they already knew about, and one saying to that person that the OP already knew about that
_______________________

This was from a total of 299 threads posted from Aug 31 to Sept 6 (using US pacific time). I don't know how many comments that represents because it would take too long to count those up by hand, but again, maybe cortex or pb have a quick way of compiling that, as well as providing more specific database derived info on deletes over a larger time period, if they get a chance to do that.
posted by taz (staff) at 2:00 AM on September 7, 2015 [6 favorites]


Girl Flaneur: It seems to me that ultimately your complaint about moderator deletions of your comments is that they were carried out in order (whether consciously or not) to eliminate either certain points of view, or else were effectively 'tone argument' deletions. (And we all know that the tone argument has a long, dishonourable history in race relations.)

The truth is that you’re absolutely right - your answers were deleted from that ask.metafilter question for both these reasons. The purpose of ask.mefi is to answer people’s questions constructively. Anything that gets in the way of that is grounds for deletion. It should be entirely unsurprising that the mods are especially trigger happy about topics which have recently caused significant controversy on the main metafilter site & any reply in ask.mefi which appears to be rehashing arguments which have recently been gone over there is going to be much more likely to be deleted than perhaps it otherwise would be. Perhaps you weren’t aware of the numerous discussions on metafilter.com in recent months on the topic of trigger warnings? Let me assure you that there have been a number of them & I very much doubt that your comment would have been deleted from the discussion there.

There’s a secondary reason for the closer moderation of ask.metafilter, which I think most of the membership is keenly aware of but perhaps has passed your notice: ask.mefi is the major source of ad revenue for this site (between them, ask.mefi ad revenue and user donations are what keeps metafilter afloat these days, after a major funding crisis a year or two ago). Letting ask.mefi decay into a clone of the main site, but with questions triggering massive ongoing, unresolvable political arguments instead of links to articles on the web doing the same thing is not going to be allowed to happen, not only because it would destroy the utility of ask.mefi to the membership, but because it would destroy the entirety of metafilter. By demanding that the mods permit you to have arguments in ask.metafilter that you could in fact have elsewhere on the same site, you are in effect asking metafilter to fall on it’s sword so that you can have your say exactly where & when you want to. Needless to say, in general people here are unlikely to take your side in this matter because of this reality that everyone is aware of even if they don’t explicitly say so. If you comment on ask.mefi, you’re going to find yourself moderated more strictly than elsewhere. Not because of who you are, or even what you say, but because of the context in which you’re saying it: because certain kinds of response, if permitted universally will destroy the utility of the site for it’s users & ultimately destroy metafilter itself. By asking for looser moderation on ask.mefi to allow you to post 'controversial' answers you are in effect asking metafilter to self-immolate. Given that you have free-rein to post your thoughts elsewhere within the same site, I hope you can see why the membership is not particularly sympathetic to this viewpoint.

In short, if you want to have that free-wheeling political discussion, then have it in metafilter.com. If you want to help other people by answering their questions, do please do that in ask.metafilter.com. If you want to rail against the injustice of it all (and who doesn’t, from time to time), then metatalk.metafilter.com is where you can let it all hang out. I hope you choose to stay & enjoy taking on all comers on the blue, but it’s your choice to make.
posted by pharm at 3:24 AM on September 7, 2015 [8 favorites]


I point out that this is a form of censorship that can be costly and then. Crickets. No one responds to that claim

This is a really really good use of the crickets metaphor! The thread has gone on and on and on, reponses and counter-reponses and counter-counter-responses, again and again, often the same ones over and over again, at pretty close intervals.

"Crickets" is usually used as a metaphor for silence. But! Have you ever had a cricket in the house? Man, we used to get 'em in our basement, and they were loud as fuck! My wife would be trying to get to sleep (and she can sleep through a lot!) but the crickets would keep her up. "FUCKING CRICKS SHUT THE FUCK UP" she would shout. But the crickets don't care! They would just keep on doing what they're doing. Sometimes also, I would be trying to record audio in our basement, and a cricket or two would start with the chirping, and I'd be like "god DAMN it you dudes PLEASE QUIET DOWN"

And even "chirping" is too cute a way to describe their noise, because that assumes they're making little "chirp chirp" noises from their mouths, like a sparrow. But what they're actually doing is scraping their chitin-covered wings against each other, and there's this ridged hardened vein that lets out this awful creak. REEE REEE REEEE REE REEE, over and over.

You can scream at crickets all you want, you can try to point out that they're just making the same noise again and again, but they keep going! They don't give a shit! They truly DO NOT GIVE A FUCK. Nature is beautiful
posted by Greg Nog at 5:35 AM on September 7, 2015 [28 favorites]


I think at this point it's safe to say no amount of explaining and hand-holding is going to make a difference to someone who's had their minds made up from the start about moderation intent and site composition and has been nothing but hostile and sneering to even the most helpful people in this thread, and has repeated infinitum that we are terrible people. I'm sorry so many people wasted their time trying to engage and help a person clearly here to get on a soapbox and listen to exactly no one. But this is beyond fruitless.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 5:46 AM on September 7, 2015 [7 favorites]


But hey, a great object lesson on OP's question: even charging in guns blazing over a deletion, levelling all kinds of accusations and dismissing all responses in favor of repeating your charges, peppered with frequent assumptions about the site's racial and class composition, will get you ... people trying to sincerely answer your question. So much for that "public beatdown".
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 5:54 AM on September 7, 2015 [31 favorites]


I have a crick in my neck, probably unrelated but a datapoint nonetheless
posted by disclaimer at 6:19 AM on September 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


GF, you've mentioned that this place feels like a mob. My first several years here, the Blue really did feel exclusionary and monolithic to me and it was hard for me to engage in a meaningful way. After a while, I started recognizing particular usernames of commenters who were always saying valuable and interesting things. (And other commenters who reliably send me into deep sighs and eye-rolling.)

AskMe was a boon for me because the format obliges everyone to be a lot more straightforward and specific, so it was easier for me to recognize commenters who were consistently helpful and contribute in kind. I found that I liked the site a more once I recognized that there really are thousands of us here, and no one agrees with anyone else 100% all the time, but no one fights 100% of the time, either.

Ten years on, I am less into snarky commenters, more into the thoughtful ones. I hang out on the blue a lot more. I try to think more critically and try to understand my reactions to things a lot more than I used to. It's helped me give more people the benefit of the doubt.

Participation isn't mandatory. I write a lot more comments than I actually post, but I don't feel silenced if I don't participate. If I stopped commenting tomorrow, the site wouldn't screech to a halt. I find that to be a positive and even reassuring thing.

So I hope you stay and lurk for a bit. This place becomes a lot more fun and worthwhile when the mob dissolves to reveal it's always been just people here.
posted by mochapickle at 6:28 AM on September 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


Are there ways in which we can change the UX to make it more clear what the expectations in AskMe are, to decrease the deletion rate for outliers like this user?

I don't know how easy it would be to communicate the different deletion styles

This makes me think about creating a super-simple tutorial that would be available on the New User signup form, or perhaps even be a mandatory step on signup or during your first week or before you're allowed to make your first post or comment. Like, it could take the form of one slide or three simple, straightforward slides/screens that you click through or watch unfold. One slide per color, designed the same as the relevant site colors. Bullet points or pop-up notes.

GREEN:
Question and answer site.
Questions must have a problem to be solved.
Helpful answers only.
No chat or argumentation.
BLUE:
Post and comment site.
Interesting content people haven't seen before.
Single thread discussion.
No linking to your own projects.
Comments focus on topic.
GREY: (which I see as taupey brown but whatever):
Site-related posts and comments.
Discussions of site issues, policy and community.

You get the idea. Some form of very easily digested, boiled-down basic orientation information would be great, because we don't really have a place to provide a simple introduction to site mechanics. I've just spent a little time tapping through the various Abouts and FAQs for the different pages, and really, they are kind of convoluted - each page/site has its own About, but they don't necessarily follow a similar topic order. The New User Guidelines are good but don't provide an overall orientation to the site areas and different moderation standards. AskMe guidelines appear in the FAQ, but about 5 questions down, under "What Makes a Good Question for AskMe?" A few more questions down is "Why was my Ask Post/Comment removed?" and that links back to the guidelines too, but the guidelines only have information about posting, not commenting (there's no 'before you comment/after you comment'), so these FAQ questions appear to be the main place where you'd learn about the commenting policies, and that only in the third graf down.

I am generally down with the idea that it should be easy for new users to get the gist of the different areas, and doing so in a way that follows a pretty linear path and takes very little time and requires very little initiative on the part of the new user to dig down in the documentation. I think it would be great if everyone had this base-level information going into site interaction. At the same time, I don't think this is really the problem in this incident. It seems clear that there's no amount of explanation or experience design that would be able to communicate the site mechanics adequately in this case. Though maybe it gives us an opportunity to think about it how new people, who we hope will continue to come here, learn their way around the site and understand what to expect where.
posted by Miko at 6:32 AM on September 7, 2015 [9 favorites]


Does the info dump contain anything about deleted material - that is, posts and comments? If not, it’d be nice if there was something, even anonymized.

Posts, yes, they're in there with an indicator that the post was deleted and even the deletion reason is in there.

Comments, no, other than that they're sequentially numbered in each sub-site, so a gap in the numbering may represent a deleted comment (but could have other reasons as well). You could certainly put an upper limit on the deleted comment count that way, but you can't tell which thread the comments were in, who posted them, etc.

This corresponds to what you can see through the front end, where deleted posts can still be viewed, while deleted comments cannot.
posted by FishBike at 6:38 AM on September 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


So I haven't wanted to say this a) in case it was incorrect and b) I thought I'd seen it before - but it seems to me that deletions don't mean 'shut up', they mean 'try again'.

Except in my case when my (I think?) only deletion was in response to a desperate hitting of the contact form to say UNDO UNDO UNDO OH GOD WHAT DID I JUST SAY PLEASE HELP ME

also

GREY: (which I see as taupey brown but whatever):

thank god, i thought it was just me
posted by you must supply a verb at 6:42 AM on September 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


Exactly! DirtyOldTown referenced the hands-down best advice about deletions way toward the top of the thread but it's worth repeating. I literally had his comment on a Post It next to my desk for a year:
I find it helpful to think of being deleted less as being struck down by authority and more like having a friend say, "Dude... be cool."
posted by mochapickle at 6:50 AM on September 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


If deletions mean “try again” then can I have my original text back so I can edit it?
posted by pharm at 7:36 AM on September 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


You can always ask us to send you the text, yeah.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:43 AM on September 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


> Every one of his comments was to tell me I was wrong

So you don't want to be told if you're wrong? You want to be able to say anything at all and not be contradicted? Is that the standard you apply to your students?

Also, I had no idea you were a POC until you said so. We can't magically intuit these things.
posted by languagehat at 8:02 AM on September 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


POC?
posted by Oyéah at 8:21 AM on September 7, 2015


Person/people of color.
posted by rtha at 8:32 AM on September 7, 2015


Also, I had no idea you were a POC until you said so. We can't magically intuit these things.

I took "I'd bet $20.00 you are white" as a clue. Hardly conclusive, however.
posted by Wolof at 8:34 AM on September 7, 2015


Yeah maybe let that angle dangle. The whole thing has been difficult enough to watch anyway.
posted by Namlit at 9:07 AM on September 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


Re: the infodumpster, this is an example of how deleted posts are displayed. They're presented with strikethrough text.

In Metatalk, the criteria seems to be "closed early by a mod." Which I suppose could be the same for all subsites, since that's what a deletion is, after all.
posted by zarq at 9:12 AM on September 7, 2015


Looks like the Infodumpster does strikethrough on Metatalk for both closed and deleted threads (the "closed" status doesn't exist on any other part of the site), though outright deletions of threads on Metatalk are comparatively pretty rare and especially so now that they go through a queue. (The examples I could point to off hand are all memorable for precisely the "this was a bad idea" reasons that make me disinclined to link to them, but if I can think of an innocuous example I'll toss it out there.)

And yeah, like FishBike said, there's no way to detect deleted comments directly in the Infodump comments data, but you can calculate overall deletion rates just by looking for gaps in commentid from omitted comments. It's actually likely to be pretty accurate once you get past the first few years of the site since the commenting system has been stable for a long time now; a gap is almost certainly an actual deleted comment vs. a test comment or something from pb working on something.

I could think about adding a little skeleton of info about deleted comments at some point; I'm uncomfortable listing full stats because I don't want folks feeling like people are tallying up their deletions or whatever, but something that just listed commentid and threadid so people could do rough anonymous per-thread calculations would be okay I think. More a matter of digging into those hoary old perl scripts, at that point.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:22 AM on September 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


In retrospect, here's a kind of obvious safe source of deleted metatalks, for the strikethrough-on-deletion question: pb's test posts.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:29 AM on September 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


In addition to potential for tightening up/rewording sections of the FAQ, taking another pass at each subsite's "About" page could also be done. Aiming for similar tightening-up presentation of "what the isness is on this section, this is how moderation is approached on it" mostly.

I'd also trim out the embedded video on Mefi's About. A freeze frame of "TROUBLEMAKERS" probably isn't a great word to pop on its lonesome on pages that by their nature most new users are just going to skim once, if at all.

But as the most recent kerfuffle demonstrates starkly, no amount of rearranging and laying out of information will be of much help with the occasional outliers, so don't sweat any of that too much.
posted by Drastic at 9:32 AM on September 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Good day Girl flaneur as many people have tried / are trying to indicate to you AskMe has a very different agreed upon culture from the rest of the site and that seems to be where you hang out. Good for you. AskMe is a great resource but it does have a few standfast rules, and again these are agreed upon by everybody, well not quite everybody as you are not yet onboard about this.
AskMe is not Metafilter.
Someone with more patience and nous can probably point you to a couple of threads a few years back when there were acouple of large heated discussions on Meta about moderation and "censorship". I was one of those decrying the deletions.
However that was about the Blue part of the site and not the Green.
The Green - AdkMe is a place for questions to be asked and answers given. No more no less. Opinions about the question are not wanted. That is not censorship, it is staying within the decided boundaries for usefulness. If you don't like the question or cannot give a constructive answer, flag it if neccessary and move on.
The Blue is where you can state and argue an opinion. Here is where we thrash out the community policy and sometimes call each other arseholes in very convoluted ways as in Bless your little heart which believe those from the American south say.
You have chosen, quite within community guidelines to question policy and are getting a lot of mostly constructive feedback. What's the problem?
posted by adamvasco at 9:57 AM on September 7, 2015


I like the sound of crickets. To the point that I once posted an Ask about where to get them for the yard. Boy, did that bring out the preachers.

You could spread disease!!!! Won't someone please think about the wild crickets!?!

Not that there are any wild crickets in downtown Seattle but what the hey ? Any chance to haul out the torches and pitchforks.

And no one bothered to answer my question: Petco.

I had to figure that for myself. And so I used to get a couple of hundred every now and then.

Only problem was they are house crickets. And this last time about half of them came inside because of the heat wave. Boy, Mrs. Nog would have killed me!

As it was my upstairs neighbor was of a similar mind. She was an arachnophobe. And they reminded her of spiders, walking around in her apartment. And she insisted I come in and root them out. 'Cause her cat could give a shit. And they were too scary for her.

Not that any of them sang inside. It was the principle of the thing.

Well, I wasn't that much of a cricket wrangler. She's still a bit miffed. And that was in June. So, I didn't get any more.

But everyone else loved them.

And we have one lonely little survivor out in the courtyard, still chirping his little heart out.

And the moral of this story ?

What, are you kidding ?

So, take that, haters.
posted by y2karl at 10:01 AM on September 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


The reason I think I won't continue to participate in the future is about 25% based on the fact that a disproportionately high number of my answers have been deleted and about 75% based the level of discourse and moderation on this thread.

I use askmefi to answer questions. I've done it over 300 times. I try very hard to think about the question and provide helpful feedback. If you don't believe me, look at my history; many questioners have marked my answers as "best answer."

However, many of my answers have been deleted even though I *am* answering the question. The problem isn't that I'm using askmefi as a platform for my political views or that I'm failing to answer people's questions. The problem is that askmefi only accepts certain *kinds* of answers. From what I can tell, the standard is answers that don't make progressive white people feel uncomfortable. (Aside: in the deleted answer about trigger warnings I was answering the question since the asker was asking if he should have trigger warnings. And I wasn't claiming that victims were sensitive flowers, I was claiming that trigger warnings treated victims as if they were sensitive flowers).

Maybe I could live with that and just stick to non-controversial topics (sad day for free thought and all, but whatevs).

But then I come here and encounter such nastiness and a bizarrely mob like mentality that is actually encouraged by the moderators and I think, why am I wasting my time trying to provide helpful answers (which apparently generates money for this site).

When I teach a class, and the majority of my students are highly critical of the position being articulated by an outlier, I make a point to take up and defend what is defensible in the outlier's arguments. I don't doubledown in an effort to punish the student or silence debate. Yet that sort of behavior is celebrated here.

I'm sure there are a few POC here, but it is obvious that the vast majority of commentators are white, upper middle class, progressives. If I had a site with those demographics, I would try extra hard not to gang up on and alienate people of diverse backgrounds that state they feel disenfranchised.
posted by girl flaneur at 10:45 AM on September 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


I have payed very close attention to this thread and I am just going to wish you well and hope you find a more accepting place for yourself on the internets. Bye.
posted by cairnoflore at 10:55 AM on September 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


girl flaneur, I really hope you stick around and contribute lots of spirited debate and more divergent ideas on the Blue. I think you are right that MeFi can be a little cliquey and skew more towards certain demographics, but I've never seen a longstanding internet community where this wasn't the case, and I don't see anything in this thread supporting a relationship between this dynamic and the heavier moderation in AskMe. Mefites tend to be loyal to the site because the moderators do strive to be transparent and fair and are willing to engage in dialogue (as this thread shows). Regardless, I hope you realize that you are a genuinely valued member of this community. I would like to keep hearing from you.
posted by thetortoise at 11:00 AM on September 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


girl flaneur: The moderators have told you they're not deleting your comments because of any political or other slant. Many other posters have repeatedly given you other reasons why they were deleted instead and explained how ask.me works. You haven't even had that many deleted, certainly not the huge numbers you keep claiming. But you refuse to believe anyone, instead sticking to your persecution complex. So we're at an impasse, there is nothing more we can do here.

And I find your constant whitewashing of the community here to be rude and insulting, as one of the aprox 1 in 4 non-US active members of the site. If you want people to treat you well them maybe coming in with unfounded insults right from your first comment is not the way to do it.
posted by shelleycat at 11:01 AM on September 7, 2015 [15 favorites]


But then I come here and encounter such nastiness and a bizarrely mob like mentality that is actually encouraged by the moderators

A lot of people who disagree with you about the things you're claiming about practice and policy on a site they're familiar with isn't a mob, it's a bunch of people who disagree with you. There were no pitchforks, there was no attempt to have you banned or ousted, there was remarkably little obnoxiousness of any kind considering how non-responsive you've been to the big pile of thought and effort folks have put into responding to your concerns.

Which: I can appreciate it's frustrating to have a lot of people all saying "no, you're wrong". The problem of managing the balance of crowd dynamics in Metatalk, the thing where (a) people should be allowed to speak their mind but (b) a lot of people speaking their mind can feel intimidating or adversarial when it's not going someone's way, is a hard one, and one we've been working on steadily for years now to try and find a good compromise on. Where we are now is a lot better than where we were ten years ago, as far as that goes, which is why this thread was a whole lot more civil and even-keeled than it would have been in 2005 or so. I sympathize with it feeling frustrating anyway; at a personal level I can really understand that, and I've tried to acknowledge multiple times here that aspect of it.

But unless you are operating from the position that you are incapable of being wrong—that you alone, more than a bunch of long-time users and more than the moderation staff of the site, understand how the site works—the idea that a lot of people saying "no, you're wrong" about something could be happening because you're actually just wrong on this should not be unbelievable or a reason to bunker up and double/triple/nth down on your original assertions. I think you have some serious misapprehensions about how moderation works here and about Ask Metafilter's guidelines, and that's not a big deal but it's also not something anybody else can fix for you and not something that's going to get resolved if your approach is to refuse to acknowledge the stuff other folks are saying when they're trying to explain how this place actually works.

I'm sorry you feel mobbed. I know that's a sucky feeling. My ideal outcome here is that you would find some compromise between your expectations about the site and its actual guidelines and continue to contribute in a way that you find rewarding. But I don't agree with some of the core premises of your complaints, and don't feel like you're making any kind of effort to hear and acknowledge what I'm saying, so this has been a really sort of dispiriting conversation on that front. I can't help you make this work if you're not willing to trust that that's what I'm trying to do.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:04 AM on September 7, 2015 [25 favorites]


It's sometimes unfortunate that to the person who is just wrong, wrong, wrong on a particular issue that they will have little ability to discern between feeling ganged up on by a mob and, on the other hand, appreciating that they are so wrong on a point that there is no one but them taking up their side of an argument.
posted by MoonOrb at 11:05 AM on September 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


Sometimes the architecture and acoustics of a house just prevents getting a satisfying slam to the door. No matter how much you want a jolting WHAM that silences all living things in a hundred yards with sharp intakes of breath and heart-lurches, there's just a little soft whump that's quieter than any yelling preceding it, sometimes a bang but it doesn't carry right. The instinct is to try slamming it again, but after a couple attempts, even if you get one that echoes right, by that time everyone around is used to the pattern. It's frustrating, but life isn't perfect.
posted by Drastic at 11:08 AM on September 7, 2015 [11 favorites]


Sometimes the difficulty is the impossibility of giving a prior exact description or checklist of what will be deleted. That's why some of us get comments deleted still from time to time. It's not blatant disregarding the rules (usually). It's that a comment you can look at and not predict will be deleted, can also be looked at after it is deleted and the deletion kind of makes sense.

The comment discussed in here was exactly that. Not an insta-delete by any means, but with corticis explanation of the context, I can totally go "fighty debate developing in AskMe? A mod note in-thread? another user grumpily flagging? Fair enough." If it was my comment, I'd be momentarily unhappy then move on. You don't always have to agree, but sometimes you just have to accept and trust the mods know what they're doing.

Which is the sticky point here, you a) don't have the trained eyeball from being here a long time to see the comment and think, "yeah, I can see that" and b) don't trust the mods.

Both of those things take time and all we can do in here is try to assure you that you'll see someday. I know that's not satisfying. I hope you stick around. It's a good sign that people are spending so much effort trying to explain this, instead of just saying "find another site, then" But I guess you gotta do what you gotta do.

Aside, I would totally subscribe to Taz' mod blotter twitter feed.
posted by ctmf at 11:22 AM on September 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


girl flaneur, I have been watching this last end of a long discussion (which happened last night for me: Europe and all that). Not being invested in any side of the argument, I just kept asking me "where is all this talk about "nastiness" and "ganging up" coming from?"
--because, first, many people actually took the time to explain stuff in a careful manner, and here I mean various, individual people, all (according to my reading) with no agenda other than trying to clear up some points for you,
--and second, it consistently seemed to me that the tone you chose was many nuances fightier than what most others did--which doesn't really mesh with your accusing others of "nastiness"; at least not as a whole group.

There is no mob. Nobody has an interest in forming a mob. Who would have any actual benefit from forming a mob on Metatalk? How would one technically form a mob? It's just not a realistic notion.
Nobody here can see the other person; one can only guess who they are. That's when one (everyone for themselves) decides whether one agrees with a viewpoint or not. By actually reading what others write. That's all there is to it.

And then this thing about Ask, and the specific set of rules there. The problem at this point is that you've made up your mind that askmefi only accepts certain *kinds* of answers, without having any proof other than that whatever you were concluding for yourself when some of your answers vanished. That is why the contact form is helpful: for asking and finding out what's actually behind a certain deletion. Just sitting there at home steaming and reverse-engineering the possible reason for a deletion doesn't do the trick; it only feeds into the prejudices one already carries around with oneself. This applies to literally everyone who uses this site.

And finally this: "the standard is answers that don't make progressive white people feel uncomfortable" This is assuming that this isn't just a US-heavy forum but an exclusive US-certain-progressive-white-politics-type-of enterprise. In fact, many users come from overseas and have entirely different kinds of beef to stew. What do you know what kind of internet writ makes whom uncomfortable? And besides, how can you even anticipate how people will react when they read something uncomfortable? Self-confrontation and learning-from-one's-mistakes is something some people actively cultivate. Do you know, for facts, whom you are addressing here, one by one, when you shout "mob"? Have you any idea whom you are, perhaps, insulting?

Yes, should you end up in some bar in small-town Virginia, in the midst of a pseudo-political discussion among a bunch of too-much-beer-drinking dudes, you may have a point, but give some people here the benefit of the doubt, will you?
posted by Namlit at 11:38 AM on September 7, 2015


The only thing that is interesting out of all the above, aside from train wreck value and eye-roll exercise, is that it does raise a good generic question: is there a way to discern the difference between someone who is legitimately unable to assess and confine themselves to the necessary tone/style in Ask and someone who is simply offended by the idea that they would be asked to and unwilling to comply?

I honestly do not know, even after all the above, which category gf falls into. The phrases that are so textbook about True Free Discourse would incline me towards the second option but maybe that's just a coping technique to deal with the frustration of being unable to ever figure out how to fit into the culture. That would be tremendously frustrating so I can see it, and there's a certain ego necessary for both camps if you're going to stick it out in the face of the adversity. But I sincerely am uncertain if gf (and presumably others have been in this situation) is just lacking the ability to write to that standard.

Internet being internet I think smart odds are on "asking ME to change is clearly a sign of wrongness" but surely Dunning-Kreuger guarantees that Ask would attract a segment of the world certain of their own value but unable to live within the strictures. I wonder how many folks come in hot and fizzle out after a short stint of deleted answers because of this issue?
posted by phearlez at 11:43 AM on September 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


So, possibly not helpful, in which case please delete.

This Ask thread on whether antidepressants give you a false illusion of life contains examples of what I would see as problematic posts from girl flaneur that stood. The first states their position/answer to the question. The second and third are debating with other posters/comments, doubling down on the previously-stated position, and are somewhat chatty. I found them irritating when I was reading the thread, but I'm not a heavy flagger, so I eyerolled and muttered and scrolled on, but those are comments that might have been deleted had they been flagged. Not because they aren't welcome viewpoints here, but because they don't conform to AskMe guidelines.

I'm also wondering if maybe this is an issue where someone who has some subject matter expertise gets extra frustrated - I have a vague memory of other MeTas (similar to Drinky Die's Reiki link above) where doctors and suchlike take issue with the fact that wrong information isn't deleted from Ask threads, and they get taken to task for trying to correct things in-thread. Maybe that sort of thing would be a decent example (lower priority, further down) for an Ask faq, to demonstrate 'yes, even if you're a medical doctor, you don't get to debate other users in Ask threads about medical questions, and the correct behaviour is ...' and that it's not a personal thing against any user or about the political or even factual content of the comment, it's just 'this is how we do things in Ask'.
posted by you must supply a verb at 11:43 AM on September 7, 2015 [12 favorites]


Pineapple Coconut.
posted by y2karl at 11:44 AM on September 7, 2015


wrong
posted by Namlit at 11:45 AM on September 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


It always amuses me when someone has a full-on flounce-out tantrum and then forgets the part where they actually, y'know, leave.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:46 AM on September 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


Dad’s Cardamom. But you need a second scoop of something chocolatey to get the optimal experience.
posted by Going To Maine at 11:48 AM on September 7, 2015


also

Metafilter: Crickets
posted by Namlit at 11:48 AM on September 7, 2015


And totally cookies and cream. Especially if you make a milkshake out of it and put in creme de menthe.

Mint-oreo with a bit of malt powder is my favorite kind of frappe, actually! Hooray!
posted by Greg Nog at 11:51 AM on September 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


It is certainly hard to understand how someone who charged into a barely-related thread, trying to pick a fight with the user base over moderation, might have gotten comments deleted for being off-topic, argumentative, and/or complaining about the moderation.
posted by Spathe Cadet at 11:52 AM on September 7, 2015 [7 favorites]


Picking up from what you must supply a verb was talking about, I actually argued with you a little bit in that thread, girl flaneur, and then tried to let it drop. But this wasn't because your point of view was unappreciated or too threatening-- your points about depressive realism would all be valid in a broader discussion and were clearly well-informed. But I felt that they were getting increasingly afield from the question, which was about someone who had clinical depression, gotten a beneficial effect on antidepressants, and worried about whether the drugs were shielding them from reality. It sounds to me like you would read that response as being a knee-jerk rejection of criticism of antidepressants, when it was really just an attempt to keep the focus on the OP. I don't think this will convince you that MeFi users aren't an intolerant bunch when you're disregarding the many reasonable comments upthread, but I wanted to explain that example a little further.
posted by thetortoise at 12:45 PM on September 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


But then I come here and encounter such nastiness and a bizarrely mob like mentality that is actually encouraged by the moderators and I think, why am I wasting my time trying to provide helpful answers (which apparently generates money for this site).

When I teach a class, and the majority of my students are highly critical of the position being articulated by an outlier, I make a point to take up and defend what is defensible in the outlier's arguments. I don't doubledown in an effort to punish the student or silence debate. Yet that sort of behavior is celebrated here.

GF: I think that everyone in this thread is acknowledging the reality of your feelings. I also think that it’s true that if people are feeling like their answers are being deleted for political reasons, that’s important for the site to deal with. It’s also important for the moderators to bear in mind. I personally think that the mod responses in this thread have been very clear about how they aren’t trying to be political to be sincere. I take the responses by community members who say that deletions aren’t political to be sincere, and learned by their lived experience on MetaFilter and getting used to its norms. It seems that you think mefites have been manipulated to go along with moderator deletions. The reality is that folks who stick around are generally at peace with it and trust the contact form and MetaTalk to sort things out. I think folks also understand that MetaTalk can be a mean place, which is kind of what this thread is about as a whole. I also think that many of the responses to you have been carefully considered, although there is definitely snark in the mix. Should that snark be deleted? Maybe, but I’m not there yet.

I also assume that your perception is sincere. I didn’t personally think that the example deleted comment we had brought up should have been struck, but it’s hard to see what was lost from your answer by removing the editorializing. Similarly, I think your follow-up comments in the thread mentioned by you must supply a verb were unhelpful, and did nothing but double-down on your first comment. By the “editorializing” standard, I’d be okay with their deletion because they add unnecessary bloat to a thread that is about answering a question, not debating a point. The mods aren’t omnipresent, so this doesn’t always happen.

Your feelings are real and acknowledged, but you’ve given the community little to work with to believe that your feelings are true - that is, that the deletions in Ask represent a campaign to silence particular opinions in question responses. This isn’t surprising, because this thread wasn’t about you (or any specific mefite) for quite a while. It’s hardly surprising that you can’t remember specific lists of deletions, just a general sense of injustice, because you didn’t start this thread. The next time you feel like you’ve been specifically harmed, please bring it to the community while your sense of the specific wrong is fresh and easy to define. I think it’s safe to say that:
  • We need a specific actionable example of wrongdoing (I think it’s safe to say that the consensus here is that the example deletion we saw here is accepted as fine)
  • We need a better example of the general reasons why we shouldn’t trust the moderators - of a pattern of wrongdoing.
It’s obviously not your responsibility to provide these things, but I think that these are the constraints of MetaTalk. The vaguer the accusation, the more you must rely on the community agreeing with you already. Your general accusations of censorship are vague and go against the grain, and that makes them a harder sell.
posted by Going To Maine at 12:46 PM on September 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


(I also note that -in my subjective opinion- accusations about the site being biased seem to come up in reference to the blue. It’s interesting to see them get raised in reference to the green.)
posted by Going To Maine at 12:51 PM on September 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


I took one of those online tests where, to my way of thinking, they were trying to set up a diction and cultural language usage algorithm, to determine locality, education level and ethnicity. I took the anonymous test, which determined I was a moderately educated, African American, from the midwest.

This is a whole lot better than me being called a drug addled hippie who can pull out some proper English when defending my misbehavior in a thread. People can be nasty here, especially if they feel they have stumbled upon a venal sin of language, or a Metacultural gaffe.

I am reminded there are tens of thousands of Mefites, from all sorts of cultural origins. Complaint from one or two, even three should not dictate policy. Still I have to say, it is a lot nicer place than it used to be, and still a lot of fun. I don't like being slandered on Mefi, and I thank the Mods for putting the brakes on that for me, and for others.

In Metatalk, I see black type on gray background, then white on green for Askme, and yellow on blue for Meffy. I don't see any other colors here.
posted by Oyéah at 12:55 PM on September 7, 2015


No, wrong. It should be

Metafilter: *crickets*

And Haggen Daz Pineapple Coconut is not without merit. For non-prescription ice cream.

On topic of late: *expression on General Eisenhower's face upon hearing of President Truman's dismissal of General McArthur.*
posted by y2karl at 1:22 PM on September 7, 2015


It always amuses me when someone has a full-on flounce-out tantrum and then forgets the part where they actually, y'know, leave.

Eh, this is the kind of sorta gossipy popcorn-munching play-by-play stuff that I think is legitimately not great for helping Metatalk be a useful space, and I'd generally rather if people want to roll their eyes about something they just literally do it with their eyeballs instead of taking a shot in the thread.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:39 PM on September 7, 2015 [44 favorites]


"Calling victims of violence who might be triggered "delicate flowers that can't handle surprises" is a fairly dickish thing to say, and somewhat surprising pseudo-tough-talk coming from someone who's seemed so consistently thin-skinned in this thread."

But she didn't say that. What she said was that a person of authority telling people who have had this experience that an appropriate role for them is to respond as if they are "delicate flowers that can't handle surprises" is harmful because it's a false position tacitly endorsed through the action of the instructor.

And if I were girl flaneur, I'd feel pretty annoyed about being represented as saying what you think she's saying.

"People have said that the standard for deletion is fuzzy, that the previous comments on the thread matter, and that I was able to reframe all that I wanted to say in my subsequent comment that was permitted.

I disagree with all these assertions. I don't feel like I was able to say what I wanted to say, and I don't think it should matter if other commentators made objectionable comments so long as my comment was well reasoned, supported, and answered the question. I was hoping people would be able to point to something that supported the deletion that didn't amount to not endorsing the content. Or some engagement with my claim that it is wrong to require some people to rewrite their comments when there is a disagreement about the content while allowing other commentators to post freely.
"

I didn't see you address the first assertion, which is that the standard for deletion is fuzzy. It is. It's fuzzy and differs from moderator to moderator, and I tend to think of it as probabilistic; looking for consistency rather than trends only ends up being frustrating. To some extent this is because the particulars of the comments matter, but it also depends on which moderator sees it, what their day has been like… etc.

And you're right that there is a cost to that, both on your side and theirs. Absent other information, I would have left that comment alone. It's strongly stated, but I read the way you stated it as being relevant to the justification you were giving for your overall position. I think that's information that's reasonably useful in evaluating an opinion like that — someone who disagrees with your belief that giving trigger warnings for individual assignments perpetuates a view of students as fragile victims is helped by being able to evaluate your comment in that context. Removing that information and requiring a repost to do so has costs in multiple dimensions.

But I'll also say that the rhetorical terms that you used are within spitting distance of people who are collapsing the distinction that I read you as making, and given that the moderators were talking about having to remove other comments down that line, deleting your comment may be a cost that came from other, more disruptive comments.

On another topic, just some MeTa advice: First, if you feel like you're on the losing side of a pile-on, the usual best advice is to take a bit of time to walk away — if your arguments are good arguments, someone else will take them up and that will help shift some of the customary expectation that you're only concerned about your ox being gored. Second, there are a fair number of people in MeTa who disagree with any given argument you may make but who are both fundamentally invested in MeFi as a community and much more willing to consider arguments that are based on MeFi and an understanding of local culture than they are ones that they feel are based on personality. Approaching the larger argument as if the entire audience is composed of those people rather than snarky assholes intent on misreading you will help both get the resolutions you'd prefer. Which is itself something that I try to remember when I'm arguing over moderation questions here: Very rarely do I want any given comment or post reinstated; that's both an unusual remedy and one that's not usually warranted given that conversations have almost inevitably moved on. What I tend to want is for moderators to recognize why I think they made a mistake and take that into account in future decisions. In general, I also think of the mods as people whom I may disagree with on any given decision, but because of a shared interest in the community are willing to consider critique of their decisions. Even if I think that their decisions are representative of a bias in any given area, treating them as if acting from that bias is not their intention and something they would want to avoid in the future feels like it's more successful in getting them to re-evaluate their decisions. It's also worth recognizing that like most of us, they almost never apologize or admit that they or a colleague made the wrong decision unless an overwhelming number of members press them — and since most of the decisions that they take flak for are either ones that are pretty unquestionably in line with longstanding site policy or are questions upon which reasonable people may differ, it's generally not realistic to expect them to apologize or say they made the wrong call, nor likely that a plurality of MeFites will push them to.

So, while I can understand you feeling annoyed and have certainly felt annoyed about moderation decisions or MeTa feedback from my fellow members, allowing that annoyance to be the most discernible feature of your critiques of MeFi policy generally doesn't get the results you want. I can recognize that this can be connected to the hypocrisy of civility, but recognizing that the concept of "civility" generally includes things like assuming good faith and respecting your audience can help you keep your argument focused on the points you want to make rather than the snark that almost inevitably comes with these discussions.

"I also assume that your perception is sincere. I didn’t personally think that the example deleted comment we had brought up should have been struck, but it’s hard to see what was lost from your answer by removing the editorializing. Similarly, I think your follow-up comments in the thread mentioned by you must supply a verb were unhelpful, and did nothing but double-down on your first comment. By the “editorializing” standard, I’d be okay with their deletion because they add unnecessary bloat to a thread that is about answering a question, not debating a point. The mods aren’t omnipresent, so this doesn’t always happen."

See, I think the right call was made there: They're a little on the line toward continuing a debate, but they're also directly addressing the question of the OP. It was the right call to leave them if they were flagged. The follow-ups both addressed specific claims that answered the implied question of the OP rather than the literal one. I can see them being annoying to people who have been helped by anti-depressants, but that doesn't mean they're not helpful to the OP, which should be the ultimate guide for AskMe.

I do think that GF would probably be happier commenting on the Blue than the Green, but hey.
posted by klangklangston at 2:36 PM on September 7, 2015 [7 favorites]


"On topic of late: *expression on General Eisenhower's face upon hearing of President Truman's dismissal of General..."

HA! Ike wasn't a real general then was he.
posted by clavdivs at 2:45 PM on September 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


Klang
posted by clavdivs at 2:45 PM on September 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


Klang
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:54 PM on September 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Klang, went the trollix.
posted by y2karl at 2:59 PM on September 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


Reading over GF's exchange, it's not really hard to see where she's coming from in terms of feeling that MeFi can be pretty nasty. People repeatedly belittled her and/or views, which only served to get her hackles up even more.

Which in understandable, people often want to fix a problem by telling people they're wrong, but it's not helpful.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:05 PM on September 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


Except original thesis was not "MeFi can be petty nasty" (which I agree with) but "the moderation here is much too heavy and politically motivated." It didn't get nasty until she decided to call out the entire community in the midst of her factually-deficient attempts to prove that her viewpoints were being censored. Turns out it's a lot easier to work the refs and complain about nastiness than it is to defend the original thesis when your bluff has been called and you're holding nothing but a busted straight.
posted by tonycpsu at 3:12 PM on September 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


People did, Brandon, but other people responded to her points and got nothing back. I mean, sure, it's natural to respond to the people insulting you, but it's a lot more productive to talk to the ones trying to help.
posted by gingerest at 3:14 PM on September 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


Yeah, there's a point at which the only good advice one can give is "close your browser". Not in a bad way, but because the other party has reached a point where they can't stop doubling down on self-destructive behavior, and they are not adding anything else.

People will start to entertain themselves after a while, but usually only once it's clear that there is no intent to engage in good faith present whatsoever. It's not necessarily a desirable quality, but it's not something one can easily remove from a community without moderating it. MetaTalk is a place you can be ruder than elsewhere on MetaFilter without being moderated for it, but that's a double-edged sword.
posted by running order squabble fest at 3:46 PM on September 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


Reading over GF's exchange, it's not really hard to see where she's coming from in terms of feeling that MeFi can be pretty nasty. People repeatedly belittled her and/or views, which only served to get her hackles up even more.

Did you read the exchange from the beginning or pick it up somewhere in the middle? Because from her first comment, mods were politically-motivated censors and we are all dupes of some upper class pseudoliberal groupthink. Even so, most people responded to her concerns sincerely - and were summarily ignored, with the platform railing against Metafilter Site Culture continuing. That's a shitty way to respond to people trying to help, and when it becomes clear someone is just here to issue some generalized scolding of what they don't like about us as people, then yes, people will get snarky and snipey. And personally, I'm tired of seeing most of the finger-shaking aimed at people who push back rather than the person who pushed their way against everyone from word go.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 4:18 PM on September 7, 2015 [27 favorites]


Pushed back at everyone from the word go? I don't even know what that means. I disagree, strongly, with the majority's views on a number of social issues, but I never insulted any individuals or told people who disagreed with me to go away.

One mistake I made coming to this thread is that I didn't fully understand how this section of metafilter works. Apparently (correct me if I'm wrong), people raise questions about the moderators and then they are "metatalked" which involves a detailed assessment of their complaint, including their histories of deleted posts, the whole communitiy weighs in aggressive and personal ways, and so on. I guess people assumed I was making myself available for this process, but I wasn't. Instead, I was making a point about keeping this section of the site as a place where people who felt they were being treated unfairly could publicly complain. So I was confused by the personal turn and demands for specific examples. I didn't have examples ready since this wasn't my Meta, and I wasn't launching a formal complaint.

Now it is true that I do think there is a lot of groupthink on here, and I do believe I have been a victim of it. While I listened carefully to your arguments, I still think the deletion discussed up thread was wrong and politically motivated. Even with the allowed rewrite I wasn't able to make the points I wanted to make about how enfeebling trigger warnings are and how they are a slippery slope to instructors being unable to teach anything with the slightest whiff of difficulty. At the same time, those who wanted to decry the horrors of not including trigger warnings were allowed to post freely. I believe this is wrong. As I said multiple times, I think there are even clearer examples of this sort of censorship in my history here, but since I don't have a record of my deleted posts, and since I wasn't launching a formal complaint, it seemed easier to focus on my most recent deletion.

I'm still not sure what to do going forward (insert snarky jokes about how GF has already said goodbye forever but maybe not goodbye multiple times).

I find the cliquey, Mean Girl (and guy and gender neutral) aspects of the site really annoying and the homogeneity of backgrounds and perspectives highly problematic, but I haven't actually had to interact very much with the people who were especially hostile to me here, so maybe I will continue to answer questions on askmefi or try to get you all to listen to reason on the Green. But for now I will take a little break.
posted by girl flaneur at 5:20 PM on September 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


> At the same time, those who wanted to decry the horrors of not including trigger warnings were allowed to post freely.

I haven't looked at that ask but I bet it's because they answered the damn question and didn't fight with other mefites about it, and didn't complain in-thread about moderation or deletions. In other words, they followed the rules for askme.

This comment really cements for me that you have not read or paid attention to the helpful and non-snarky helpful suggestions that people in this thread have given you. You have decided that everyone here is pretty much all a bunch of group-thinky meanies who can't possibly have any useful, helpful or accurate advice about this site.
posted by rtha at 5:33 PM on September 7, 2015 [19 favorites]


Well, there are a lot of people here who most definitely are not telepathic, that is for sure, so it's best to keep it hidden when you are.
posted by y2karl at 5:34 PM on September 7, 2015


As I said multiple times, I think there are even clearer examples of this sort of censorship in my history here, but since I don't have a record of my deleted posts, and since I wasn't launching a formal complaint, it seemed easier to focus on my most recent deletion.

(If curious, or for future reference, Cortex has offered to send you the text of your deleted comments.)
posted by nobody at 5:37 PM on September 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Even with the allowed rewrite I wasn't able to make the points I wanted to make about how enfeebling trigger warnings are and how they are a slippery slope to instructors being unable to teach anything with the slightest whiff of difficulty. At the same time, those who wanted to decry the horrors of not including trigger warnings were allowed to post freely. I believe this is wrong.

But that wasn't what the question was about! Making those points was a) not answering the question and b) likely to create a derailed argument that would lead to more people not answering the question! girl flaneur, you haven't addressed the points that members have repeatedly made about the culture of Ask, which centers not on groupthink but on answering the question above all else. Do you think that your response would have answered the OP's question about how to go about creating a syllabus with content warnings?
posted by sciatrix at 5:37 PM on September 7, 2015


Wow, OK. Some of you want to keep pushing me for reasons that are not at all clear. I will treat this as an opportunity to practice deep breathing.

My response did answer the question since the question asked *whether* to have trigger warnings. From what I recall, cortex said the reason for deletion was framing, not that I wasn't answering the question.
posted by girl flaneur at 5:45 PM on September 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


But that wasn't what the question was about! Making those points was a) not answering the question and b) likely to create a derailed argument that would lead to more people not answering the question!

Perhaps I'm misunderstanding you here, but I don't think that's entirely fair to GF and is somewhat misreading the AskMe in question. My reading of the original AskMe is that it was a fair bit broader than just asking how to post a trigger warning, it explicitly left scope for commenters to argue that trigger warnings aren't helpful. To my mind the relevant passage is this:

Do I need to include a trigger warning on my syllabus? If so, what does that look like? Do the graphic violence and/or radical politics also warrant a similar warning? And if so, what does that look like?

I don't agree with GF's proposed answer, but I think that given that the OP framed the question using this language makes it very clear that answers of the form "no, trigger warnings aren't useful" are absolutely within the scope.
posted by langtonsant at 5:46 PM on September 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


Did you read the exchange from the beginning or pick it up somewhere in the middle?

Came in at the end, went back and read the who thing, then posted my commented.

She was clearly agitated, so trying to tell her she's wrong probably wasn't going to work, especially with the various snide comments and belittling.

For better or worse, (in my opinion better), Askme is designed for answering questions, not debates. GF maybe isn't getting that, so make it clear exactly what the expectations of AskMe are, politely of course and let her make her decision from there.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:47 PM on September 7, 2015


Lots of people have suggested, GF, that you might find it more agreeable to comment on MeFi ("the Blue") than on AskMe ("the Green"), because the deletion standard is less rigid. Why are you so certain that the Green is the only place for you?
posted by misfish at 5:48 PM on September 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


By which I mean "come to the Blue! the water's fine!"
posted by misfish at 5:48 PM on September 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


Wow, OK. Some of you want to keep pushing me for reasons that are not at all clear.

I mean, I've only been reading the thread this afternoon but it's crystal clear to me why people are pushing back on you: because you're not engaging with anyone here at all, simply fighting imaginary monsters.

It really seems like you would be happiest if you left this place. I'm sorry that you hate everyone here so much that you can't even be bothered to engage with anyone in this thread in an honest manner, but when you hate a group of people as much as you hate everyone here, it's usually best not to spend any more time around them.
posted by palomar at 5:49 PM on September 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


In girl flaneur's defense, the Ask.me poster did ask "Do I need to include a trigger warning on my syllabus?" It seems to me she had a right to respond with an answer that detailed her reasons for opposing them, which I believe the rewritten comment does just as well as the deleted one. Does anyone see a substantive difference between these two versions that I'm missing?
posted by tonycpsu at 5:50 PM on September 7, 2015


As I said in my post, maybe I will try the Green in the future. In general, I like to answer questions because I like to help people with their problems, and I have some subject area expertise in the social sciences and humanities.
posted by girl flaneur at 5:52 PM on September 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


Wow, OK. Some of you want to keep pushing me for reasons that are not at all clear.

Your latest comment was incredibly passive aggressive. It also continued your pattern of more or less ignoring the dozens of good faith attempts to explain what you're not understanding about the site culture of AskMe while instead repeating your pre-determined assumption that it's all politically motivated persecution. That you don't see why people would respond to this tells me you are either very bad at listening to people, or that at this point you're trolling.
posted by tocts at 5:52 PM on September 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I mean you mentioned 'gaslighting' upthread; I feel like you're doing a bit of gaslighting yourself by saying that you are listening and reading and yet nothing you've written indicates you have. It's frustrating and kind of sad to see so many people try to communicate with you and not able to get through.

It's good that you're taking a break. Also - kind of seems like you just want this to go on and on.

(Also, favorites are not 'popularlity points' or whatever you call them, and they don't bestow on you any special privileges or anything like that.)
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 5:54 PM on September 7, 2015 [12 favorites]


Fair enough--I was mostly feeling indignant, because I feel like there is a disconnect of communication here in terms of girl flaneur's interpretation of the culture of Ask. I'm not sure how to articulate that right now, though.
posted by sciatrix at 5:54 PM on September 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


It also continued your pattern of more or less ignoring the dozens of good faith attempts to explain what you're not understanding about the site culture of AskMe while instead repeating your pre-determined assumption that it's all politically motivated persecution.

A single person can literally not answer dozens of explanations and if they tried, they'd probably get a notice from mods about responding too much. Or snarky comments along the similar lines.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:55 PM on September 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


It seems to me she had a right to respond with an answer that detailed her reasons for opposing them, which I believe the rewritten comment does just as well as the deleted one. Does anyone see a substantive difference between these two versions that I'm missing?

My understanding is that the deleted comment had some borderline extraneous commentary that, in the context of similar but worse comments from others, and a mod note to cool it, was deleted as part of a larger cleanup of the thread.
posted by misfish at 5:58 PM on September 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I'm not really sure what to make of this anymore. Lots of us (and it feels like most of us at this point) have tried to be genuinely helpful and responsive and so far all those comments have been actively ignored.

To Brandon Blatcher's point, even a comment from GF saying, "Hey, I see some of you are trying to help and I will give that some consideration" would go a long way in GF's favor.
posted by mochapickle at 5:59 PM on September 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


One mistake I made coming to this thread is that I didn't fully understand how this section of metafilter works.

Is it not also possible you made mistakes about how other sections of metafilter work, too?
posted by MoonOrb at 5:59 PM on September 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


There's an interesting tension between 'no one here thinks for themselves, I am the only person who genuinely cares about free thought' and 'I haven't insulted anyone.'
posted by shakespeherian at 6:01 PM on September 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


Passive aggressive? Not engaging? I don't even know what that means. When you say things like that, you are confirming all my dark thoughts about metafilter. That is the sort of thing people say when they run out of arguments and try and force people out using Mean Girl tactics.

When people up thread asked me questions, I answered them and tried to make my case. I don't know what else you want in terms of engagement. Does engagement mean I agree with you and blow you kisses across cyberspace?
posted by girl flaneur at 6:02 PM on September 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


I would like cyberspace kisses.

Note: Everyone needs cyberspace kisses.
posted by mochapickle at 6:04 PM on September 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


A single person can literally not answer dozens of explanations and if they tried, they'd probably get a notice from mods about responding too much.

It was a little more like a dozens of explanations of just one or two points. gf surely could have addressed the issues without addressing every individual reply.

But it really felt like each time she said something like "can someone point out to me why this didn't work" and someone pointed out to her why it wasn't working, she ignored those comments and focused instead on her insistence that AskMe is being moderated to exclude unpopular points of view.
posted by MoonOrb at 6:04 PM on September 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


Wow, OK. Some of you want to keep pushing me for reasons that are not at all clear. I will treat this as an opportunity to practice deep breathing.

If you are confused as to why people keep responding to the things you keep posting I am glad to help you understand: it is because you keep posting.
posted by phearlez at 6:04 PM on September 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


You all understand you're being trolled, right? And classical trolling too, not this newfangled - being-a-shit-online "trolling."
posted by the man of twists and turns at 6:09 PM on September 7, 2015 [12 favorites]


When people up thread asked me questions, I answered them and tried to make my case.

Okay then, I'll play fair and ask a sincere question.

You began your comments in this thread by stating that the moderation was "politically motivated". Can you explain why you consider a deletion to have been "politically motivated", when you were able to re-post your comment using a different phrasing?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:11 PM on September 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


> As I said in my post, maybe I will try the Green in the future.

You already use the Green. If you're using the professional white background option, you may not know that the different subsites have different colors. I think it's been mentioned upthread, but:

The Green = askme

The Blue = metafilter

The Grey = where we are right now
posted by rtha at 6:12 PM on September 7, 2015


Does engagement mean I agree with you and blow you kisses across cyberspace?

Gosh, no, but dialing down the "ugh, everything I read just confirms every negative assumption I have about this place" nonsense and actually responding to the words people have typed in their many efforts to help you would probably be a great start.

If you are indeed trolling, that's really sad. And if you're not trolling... I don't know, maybe come back in a day or two and read the thread when you're in a different mental state? It's hard to reconcile the helpful words I'm seeing people typing to you, with the response you're giving back that you're the only decent person here and the rest of us are somehow out to get you.
posted by palomar at 6:12 PM on September 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


Stop engaging gf. There's sufficient evidence that she will misconstrue kindness, patient and repeated explanation, and face-saving outs as malice. At this point, there's nothing that anyone here can say that won't confirm, in some way, gf's persecution. Disengage.
posted by MonkeyToes at 6:12 PM on September 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


I think MetaTalk can have an unintentional mobbing quality just because a bunch of people will weigh in with strong disagreement at once, and threads that go on for a long time can turn mean. But MetaTalk is pretty minimally moderated, since it's the place to bring up everything that doesn't fit elsewhere, so this tends to demonstrate how well the moderation usually functions on the rest of the site. The Blue can be snarky, fast-moving, and much sharper in tone than the Green, but anything overly personal or nasty will be removed pretty quickly. To girl flaneur and anyone else feeling frustrated and not heard in this conversation, I recommend writing directly to the mods with questions and concerns. You'll probably come away feeling a lot better.
posted by thetortoise at 6:14 PM on September 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


You all understand you're being trolled, right? And classical trolling too, not this newfangled - being-a-shit-online "trolling."

I don't think so. A year of honestly answering questions on the Green is a pretty long walk to go for to get to a MeTa flameout as stupid as this one.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:14 PM on September 7, 2015 [10 favorites]


*kisses, kisses, kisses*

This seems to be the part of the process where you circle for blood.

If people want to keep responding to me, that's fine. I'm like the fucking energizer bunny when it comes to answering hostile responses on here. But I thought we could agree to disagree since I emphasized that launching an official investigation into moderation practices was never my intention.
posted by girl flaneur at 6:15 PM on September 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


You all understand you're being trolled, right? And classical trolling too, not this newfangled - being-a-shit-online "trolling."

I think a lot of us have had that thought at some point, but it's an unprovable and unfalsifiable assertion, so it's really not productive to raise it in MeTas no how sure you are that you're right.

Furthermore, she has a history of what I consider very thoughtful answers, such that even if this is some kind of long-con troll, she could an asset to Ask.me and the larger MeFi community if she can stick to the questions at hand and learn to read the room.
posted by tonycpsu at 6:15 PM on September 7, 2015 [7 favorites]


But I thought we could agree to disagree

Yeah, let's do that. Best wishes to you.
posted by tonycpsu at 6:17 PM on September 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


As flame-outs go, this one is really full of whatever that German word is that means feeling deep, excruciating embarrassment at someone else's actions...
posted by palomar at 6:17 PM on September 7, 2015 [7 favorites]


This seems to be the part of the process where you circle for blood.

For crying out loud.

Mods, is there really any point to this continuing this? There's nothing to be gained here. Can we close it up?
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:18 PM on September 7, 2015 [7 favorites]


Let's not close it up! Let's see what happens!
posted by Greg Nog at 6:18 PM on September 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


palomar: fremdschämen
posted by mochapickle at 6:20 PM on September 7, 2015 [8 favorites]


Apparently (correct me if I'm wrong), people raise questions about the moderators and then they are "metatalked" which involves a detailed assessment of their complaint, including their histories of deleted posts, the whole communitiy weighs in aggressive and personal ways, and so on. I guess people assumed I was making myself available for this process, but I wasn't.

Hey, never heard the term "metatalked" before.

But basically, "MetaTalk is the part of the site for talking about the site itself. " There's more info here, from the MetaTalk FAQ, I'd recommend just reading that for more clarification of what this particular sub-site is.

Yes, Metafitler skews white and middle/upper class but that isn't necessarily bad, it just is. Like any group, the site population has developed a certain culture which can be odd or distant to new comers.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:21 PM on September 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


> If people want to keep responding to me, that's fine.

And this is how THIS part of the site works. It is not how the green works. You want to have back-and-forth exchanges with people in askme, and really, that's not on. Here, though, yes - you make assertions or accusations or ask questions about site policies and culture, and people respond. Then you can respond to them, if you want. That's how it works on the blue, mostly, too.
posted by rtha at 6:23 PM on September 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


You began your comments in this thread by stating that the moderation was "politically motivated". Can you explain why you consider a deletion to have been "politically motivated", when you were able to re-post your comment using a different phrasing?

I have explained, but I'm happy to explain again:

I do not believe I was able to make the precise point I wanted to make (and which answered the Question). I wanted to stress how enfeebling trigger warnings are and say that if we include them we are on a slippery slope to having to put trigger warnings on *everying*. I hinted at the first point in my rewrite, but I was unable to make the second point at all.

Why should this be considered political? Because I wasn't able to post freely and answer the question as I saw fit, while people who took the opposite position were allowed to post freely.
posted by girl flaneur at 6:25 PM on September 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


This Groundhog Day remake is really not as good as the original.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:26 PM on September 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


But if it were political, why would you be allowed to repost your comment after removing just the mean snarky parts that had nothing to do with the question?
posted by palomar at 6:27 PM on September 7, 2015


For the record, there's also a general policy in MetaTalk of not arguing about the validity/stupidity of answers on AskMe, which is why most of us have not directly addressed what exactly we think about your slippery-slope complaint about Trigger Warnings.

If we DID engage with what we all thought of that, this thread would become much much longer!
posted by Greg Nog at 6:27 PM on September 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


I mean, I know I'm just going to be accused of some straight up hateful nonsense in a sec, but I'm just so curious.
posted by palomar at 6:28 PM on September 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


Actually, I have a better question, come to think of it.

If your deletion really were "politically motivated", or based on some kind of enforced groupthink, then why do you think that your comments here have been allowed to stand? Wouldn't your comments here be a greater challenge to the groupthink, and thus more dangerous? If so, why weren't they deleted, if groupthink were really the cause of the deletion?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:30 PM on September 7, 2015


PALOMAR YOU OWE ME A COKE
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:30 PM on September 7, 2015


Also, the trigger warning posts on the Blue have plenty of anti-trigger warning comments that have not been deleted. It looks like the main source of deletions there was people discussing an article not linked in the FPP. If the mods were busy trying to silence any anti-trigger warning opinions, why were they allowed to stand on the Blue?
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 6:35 PM on September 7, 2015


But if it were political, why would you be allowed to repost your comment after removing just the mean snarky parts that had nothing to do with the question?

That is a question I'm not in a position to answer. I suspect the slippery slope argument rubbed some people the wrong way.

While these exchanges are invigorating, I agree we have been over these points several times now. I'm starting to think *I'm* being trolled.

'Till we meet again.
posted by girl flaneur at 6:36 PM on September 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


You might try making a reply that does not have one molecule of attack or self praise however indirect. Don't make yourself right by making everyone else wrong. To you, it seems like everyone wants to get a kick in, I am thinking. But then, to me, it's like you can't respond without taking a shot at everyone in response. And that is what seems to have gotten you in trouble in the first place. You have to let everyone know how stupid they are. Just a little, yes, but it seems like a must. No reply is complete without a shot taken at the room at large.
posted by y2karl at 6:38 PM on September 7, 2015 [23 favorites]


I honest to god can't stop laughing. Ego is a hell of a drug, kids.
posted by palomar at 6:39 PM on September 7, 2015 [2 favorites]




That is a question I'm not in a position to answer.

I'm not asking for, like, exact facts, I'm asking what your opinion is. I'm asking what you think the answer is.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:40 PM on September 7, 2015


on the Blue a few months ago

That thread's from 2014, actually. Maybe you were looking for this one?
posted by tonycpsu at 6:41 PM on September 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


'Till we meet again.

After the 8:20 PM "I will take a little break" comment you lasted 25 minutes so i'm excited to see if you bring it up to 26 this time
posted by Greg Nog at 6:42 PM on September 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


That thread's from 2014, actually. Maybe you were looking for this one?

Whoops! Yes, that one also.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:43 PM on September 7, 2015


I'm starting to think *I'm* being trolled.

Failing to indulge someone in their efforts to get the last word is not trolling.
posted by phearlez at 6:48 PM on September 7, 2015


Look, I'm probably wrong, but gf started off a long time ago now saying that she is a person of colour who feels marginalised here, and at this point has given several indications in the last few/tens of minutes that she feels cornered, and regardless of whether we think she has a valid reason to feel that way or whether we also feel attacked/hurt by her, could we maybe be the ones to take the initiative to cool off and back away from this discussion?
posted by you must supply a verb at 6:50 PM on September 7, 2015 [10 favorites]


A lot of the discussion about trigger warnings on the Blue has also explored the topic from the perspective of POC, disabled individuals, and marginalized identities. It was a pretty interesting discussion, especially since my knowledge of trigger warnings came out of fandom first and there were a lot of perspectives I hadn't really thought about. I'm sure your thoughts would be welcome on the still-open thread, GF.
posted by PussKillian at 6:53 PM on September 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


But if it were political, why would you be allowed to repost your comment after removing just the mean snarky parts that had nothing to do with the question?

That is a question I'm not in a position to answer. I suspect the slippery slope argument rubbed some people the wrong way.

I think you misunderstood the question. It's not really "Why would they do this (let you repost the same content)?" It's "How is your assertion that the deletion was politically motivated plausible given that you were allowed to repost the same content (and I would add personally: .. "and given that many people have posted anti-trigger warning content on the Blue and not been deleted.")

If you are correct that this is politically motivated, then one would hypothesize that anti-trigger warning content would not be allowed and would be consistently deleted. What does the fact that this is demonstrably not the case suggest about whether or not this is politically motivated?
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 6:54 PM on September 7, 2015 [6 favorites]


I kinda feel like we're going in tight circles here and maybe everybody should just let it be for a bit at this point.

girl flaneur, it's okay if you want to peace out on this but if so it'd help if you actually go ahead and do so; regularly coming back to the thread to re-up arguments with folks before peacing out again and then coming back ad infinitum is kind of a bad loop to get into and makes it hard to take complaints about others responding to you seriously.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:56 PM on September 7, 2015 [14 favorites]


what the hell did i just read

was it performance art
posted by poffin boffin at 7:53 PM on September 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


do you feel glee?
posted by clavdivs at 8:33 PM on September 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Well, reading some of gf's noncontentious answers made for a more well rounded impression. More person and no neener neener makes for less circling the firenado drain.
posted by y2karl at 8:42 PM on September 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Cortex said:

I kinda feel like we're going in tight circles here and maybe everybody should just let it be for a bit at this point.
posted by futz at 9:04 PM on September 7, 2015


A couple of months ago a MeTa thread crystallised a growing disconnect between my enjoyment of this site and the userbase. I sent the mods a note, and gave the site a break. I didn't button, and do occasionally come back, but a daily habit has become a weekly graze, if that. None of this had anything to do with the mods, who I think do their best and their best is pretty damned awesome.

I think it's interesting, a no-judgement, academic-ish interesting, to compare the response to girl flaneur to the response to knowgood's MeTa, that has been widely presumed to have set off this post in the first place. The most obvious difference is tone and level of accusation from the primary complainant, but I do wonder what degree timing, level of engagement, opening level of insult and the like also contributed to one user being repeatedly, patiently engaged with by the users, eventually shading into frustration, vs. the other getting gleefully teed off on by users apparently happy to have a target (in between a charming engagement announcement and responses that, really, deserved to be isolated and posted separately).

But apart from that, I also think it's interesting to see what feels like a natural progression of this accusation of a level of insularity, an accusation I don't think is wholly without merit. Because if the userbase is becoming more insular, more requiring of a certain orthodoxy to take your contributions on good faith, then the sorts of users to leave because of it are less likely to be the bull-headed provocateurs or those with cemented assumptions, it's going to be the already marginalised or vulnerable who might get on the wrong side of an argument and find it no longer worth their time or effort or even mental ability, and rather than dig in and stick around in the face of adversity, they just melt away. Which just leaves the most intransigent, and usually (as I think can be seen in this most recent interaction) most uncompromising, least reasonable users to consider themselves outside the in-group and a voice for other opinions.

If I were encouraging a new person to read MetaFilter, I would cite the mods as a primary reason to stick around, but to show them how the users react to disagreement and contention I'd show them the responses to girl flaneur than, say, those to knowgood. Neither is wholly representative, both can be considered warranted, but only one shows the engagement and positive involvement you'd want to use to advocate MeTa. There used to be a strong suggestion, years ago in MeTa posts, that new users should be prepared to take their licks as they got used to the site - a pile-on was another form of welcome. I'm glad that's not the case anymore, and anything to keep encouraging behaviour away from that is awesome; the only tendency I've noted is that if you add 'unless I think they deserve it' to that idea it still stands, and I believe that shouldn't be the case.
posted by gadge emeritus at 9:05 PM on September 7, 2015 [8 favorites]


IMO one of the ways MetaTalk goes wrong sometimes is that it is incredibly difficult for users in "take-on-all-comers" mode to accept they aren't going to have the last word unless the mods actively give it over (i.e. close the thread immediately after the last comment from that user.) This leads to the dynamic where people flounce and re-flounce, and their opponents taunt between/after flounces, and everyone comes off looking terrible.

I have no idea how to fix this but it definitely makes MeTa more entertaining, less productive, and more likely to end up with long-lasting hard feelings between segments of the userbase.
posted by gingerest at 9:15 PM on September 7, 2015 [14 favorites]



If people want to keep responding to me, that's fine. I'm like the fucking energizer bunny when it comes to answering hostile responses on here. But I thought we could agree to disagree since I emphasized that launching an official investigation into moderation practices was never my intention.


Dude, when you feel like this, you win by saying your piece and walking away for a while. If/when you come back, rereading the comments and only responding to comments that you feel are constructively engaging, even if you don't agree with them.

Continuing to engage primarily with the comments that piss you off will just reinforce feeling pissed off while frustrating people who have tried to engage with you.

If you can, you might also be served by getting high enough to regard everyone with a detached benign affection.
posted by klangklangston at 9:33 PM on September 7, 2015 [7 favorites]


That detached benign affection better not be patronizing, because I think that would be all it takes at this point in this thread to release the Kraken.
posted by ctmf at 9:43 PM on September 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


you might also be served by getting high enough to regard everyone with a detached benign affection.

I've been doing MetaFilter ALL WRONG.
posted by Miko at 9:51 PM on September 7, 2015 [9 favorites]


What would really be good to remember is everybody else is not they, and, god, they all say the same thing, blah, blah, blah, but me, one me at a time and l am a unique individual and have this one take on the world to share. We go on about the mob but it is one person at one time with the triple tiered gnomic bon not, flash flood of feelings or book length exegisis. It is not they but I who, one at a time, has to be considerate, thoughtful and just shut up. No wait, that last part is for the next guy.
posted by y2karl at 9:53 PM on September 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


you might also be served by getting high enough to regard everyone with a detached benign affection.

I've been doing MetaFilter ALL WRONG.
posted by Miko at 9:51 PM on September 7


Champagne helps too.

But I really came back in to give mochapickle a cyber smooch. Because they asked so nicely. Also, champagne.
posted by susiswimmer at 10:58 PM on September 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


In girl flaneur's defense, the Ask.me poster did ask "Do I need to include a trigger warning on my syllabus?" It seems to me she had a right to respond with an answer that detailed her reasons for opposing them, which I believe the rewritten comment does just as well as the deleted one. Does anyone see a substantive difference between these two versions that I'm missing?

Yes! The deleted one is kind of personally insulting to other Mefites, as it happens:

However, people's reaction to their sexual assault very much depends on how we, as educators, frame what it means: if you suggest to victims that they are delicate flowers that can't handle surprises or open debate and discussion, then some of them will come to believe it. This would be tragic.

That bit effectively says to anyone arguing for trigger warnings that they are a delicate flower that can't handle surprises or open debate and discussion and that that is tragic. That's not a particularly nice thing to say, but furthermore it is completely unnecessary to making the point in question (which is why it was reposted without). Being unnecessarily and deliberately insulting to other people in the thread is likely to get your AskMe answer deleted, and rightfully so. The point, however, is perfectly sound to make in Ask as long as it is done tactfully.
posted by Dysk at 1:35 AM on September 8, 2015 [11 favorites]


I think we’re done here aren’t we? I can’t see any further purpose in leaving this thread open.
posted by pharm at 2:15 AM on September 8, 2015


Yeah, maybe close this? I feel like the most plausible outcome here is that we end up with more variations of criticisms that have been made several times upthread. Either (a) girl flaneur comes back to defend herself and restarts the pile on, or (b) she shows restraint while others get to take a few more potshots, alienating her further. Unless there's some realistic opportunity for helpful discussion that I'm missing, I'm not seeing any upside to keeping this thread alive.
posted by langtonsant at 3:20 AM on September 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


Okay, yeah, we're pretty far off the original purpose of the thread and we have a lot of suggestions for modifying About and FAQ pages, contact info, user help tips, etc. and anyone can follow-up with another post on these items any time, or, likewise, make a general post about deletion criteria if folks want to discuss that, so I'll go ahead and close it up.
posted by taz (staff) at 4:01 AM on September 8, 2015 [5 favorites]


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