The Annotated Emotional Labor Post! January 6, 2016 7:46 PM   Subscribe

I saw this on The Mary Sue, referring to this document which has the thread, annotated. The original being here.
posted by mephron to MetaFilter-Related at 7:46 PM (745 comments total) 153 users marked this as a favorite

Compiling and annotating this was a flat-out public service. Thanks very much to the person who did so! (Who is credited at the end of the PDF, but whose name I'm not posting just in case she's concerned about that kind of thing.)
posted by mudpuppie at 7:57 PM on January 6, 2016 [10 favorites]


This is amazing. What an extraordinary effort!
posted by blurker at 8:04 PM on January 6, 2016 [2 favorites]


I've seen this being passed around a few places off metafilter, and it's sort of taken me aback. I'm not concerned that my advisor (or boyfriend) will ever read it and recognize me, but it is interesting and a little disquieting to see people I know in real life pulling wisdom from people I know in online life! But I'm glad other people are benefiting from a conversation which was really timely and important for me!
posted by ChuraChura at 8:06 PM on January 6, 2016 [15 favorites]


I love this. This is incredible MetaFilter site lore now.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 8:06 PM on January 6, 2016


We have Crone Island to thank for this - it was organized, proofread, etc.. through there and everyone involved deserves major kudos and pitchers of margaritas!
posted by Deoridhe at 8:16 PM on January 6, 2016 [34 favorites]


I wonder from time to time if any men did decide to go send a card after the whole "CARDS ARE HOW YOU MAINTAIN RELATIONSHIPS SO YOUR FRIENDS DONT DIE YOUNG!" part of the discussion.
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 8:23 PM on January 6, 2016 [24 favorites]


Wow.
posted by rtha at 8:41 PM on January 6, 2016


Reminds me I need to get back to Crone Island.
posted by immlass at 9:18 PM on January 6, 2016 [7 favorites]


This is amazing. Kudos to everyone who contributed to the original thread and those who put this together.
posted by alms at 9:18 PM on January 6, 2016


This is amazing, thanks for the effort put into it. And I noped out of sending Christmas cards this year. He didn't either. Oh well.
posted by Jubey at 10:16 PM on January 6, 2016 [4 favorites]


Thanks very much to the person who did so!

I found this a few weeks ago and contacted the person. They are not a Mefite but they have friends who are. I considered posting it but didn't. I am glad you have.
posted by Thella at 10:22 PM on January 6, 2016


Amazing. Thanks to all responsible for this. I love that the EL thread keeps living and evolving and gaining new readers. (It's not too much to hope that it becomes the key text in the New World Order, right?...)
posted by billiebee at 12:40 AM on January 7, 2016 [1 favorite]


Yeah, one of my FB friends posted the doc a week or so back and I was like "Holy crap who are on Metafilter?!", but he'd never visited. He may have signed up by now.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 12:43 AM on January 7, 2016 [1 favorite]


I am trying to be less of a self-centred man-child, Eyebrows, mostly because that thread has opened my eyes somewhat. I haven't sent any actual cards all by myself, but I did pitch in with the cards chore this Christmas.

That thread came about the same time that I started to realize some of this myself, and helped me both put words on it and realize how big a deal it really is. Some months before we had started a program for our youngest, whose language development is really late. So to get to the bottom of why that is we had to coordinate with different government functions, and an endless array of specialists (speech-language pathologist, psychologist, paediatrician, otorhinolaryngologist, physiotherapist and probably some I can't recall right now). So we agreed that following up all of that was 100% my job, otherwise my wife would be totally snowed under with everything in addition to caring for our two other kids. So I coordinate with all these people, who are lovely people each and every one of them, but the assumption (even here in somewhat progressive Norway) was always that mum was main point of contact. So I'm patiently giving out my number and email everywhere, and calling and emailing everyone, and scheduling and re-scheduling and taking Junior to his appointments and boy am I getting an eyeful of how much work this is. And it's a tiny part of what makes my life work smoothly. And my conscience takes a hit, but at least I'm in a position to do something about things, so I'm trying.

I'd like to thank everyone in the thread for sharing their stories and perspectives. And thanks to those that put in work in sorting through it all and making that PDF.
posted by Harald74 at 12:49 AM on January 7, 2016 [30 favorites]


Incredible. I mentioned the thread to my long-time best friend and roommate who is a wonderful feminist guy but most of our disagreements over the decades boil down to an emotional labor thing. He is a voracious reader who is compelled to read pretty much any text he comes across and willing to do most of the hard work of being a man and a feminist, but I knew he wouldn't touch that thread. So I tried to explain it and failed miserably. This pdf, though? Oh man it's gonna be like catnip. I have just sent him the link and he'll probably have read it all by the weekend. And maybe next year he'll take dumb pictures of our cat in something stupid I crocheted and send them out as holiday cards because this year we actually got a couple and he loved them but when I mentioned possibly sending some silly ones ourselves he scoffed. Scoffed! Well scoff no more, sir, and DIE LESS QUICKLY.
posted by Mizu at 2:20 AM on January 7, 2016 [10 favorites]


This is absolutely amazing. If I haven't said this in any of the other related discussions, thank you to everyone who participated in that thread; I'm a better person for having been exposed to many of the ideas discussed.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 4:10 AM on January 7, 2016 [1 favorite]


Whoah. That's a heck of a doc.
posted by rmd1023 at 4:24 AM on January 7, 2016 [1 favorite]


I sent cards.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 4:39 AM on January 7, 2016 [15 favorites]


Saw this posted to a parenting board I'm on. Very cool.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:10 AM on January 7, 2016


Someone put in some serious hours on that.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:13 AM on January 7, 2016 [3 favorites]


A non-MeFite friend posted this pdf to their Facebook feed a short while before the holidays, saying that it really helped her frame something that she'd been "having meltdowns" over for years without really understanding why. She'd previously been frustrated that she couldn't articulate the gendered component, and people would dismiss her with claims that it was all just a failure to establish "good boundaries" on her part. Ugh.

It was a little weird to see MeFi and non-MeFi worlds colliding, but man, I cannot think of a better thing for them to collide over. And I'm glad she posted it before the holidays - I hope it encouraged at least one woman to give a pass to managing all the preparation, serving, cleaning, and general caretaking involved in holiday get-togethers.

For my part, at 71 pages the PDF is regrettably too long for most of the people I would dearly love to share this with, but being able to pick and choose titled 'passages' is wonderful - I'd shared the bonsai human comments with two people who really needed to hear them quite a while back, and they resonated deeply with them. Though I know too much would be lost, I still fantasize about having a laminated 1-pager I can just keep on my person at all times ...
posted by DingoMutt at 6:04 AM on January 7, 2016 [5 favorites]


Eyebrows - I am a man and while I didn't need the thread to convince me of the importance of staying in touch with people and actively working at doing so (untimely family death took care of that years ago) I have often thought back to it in the months since and it definitely gave me a vocabulary to use when talking or thinking about such work.
posted by Wretch729 at 6:20 AM on January 7, 2016 [1 favorite]


I am a woman who resists paying the femininity tax, but I sent more cards after reading the EL thread.
posted by puddledork at 7:32 AM on January 7, 2016 [7 favorites]


puddledork: "I am a woman who resists paying the femininity tax, but I sent more cards after reading the EL thread."

Me too, exactly. I think cards are kind-of dumb but I am less-resentful about them now and I've been sending more "just because."
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 7:36 AM on January 7, 2016 [3 favorites]


You know, nothing has made me appreciate my husband more than reading the emotional labor thread. He cleans the house when it gets dirty without needing to be told, he organizes his own social outings with his friends and their wives, he cooks/does dishes on the regular, and not just for "special occasions," he tends to do the major lifting for cooking/preparing when we host holidays, etc etc. Not that I ever took these things for granted, but I found that I actually didn't have a lot of stories to tell on the post when it first went up. The thread has been ground breaking for a lot of people who needed words to apply to their frustration, it was ground breaking for me to realize how equal my marriage really is. Reading the thread makes me much more appreciative of that.
posted by Suffocating Kitty at 7:38 AM on January 7, 2016 [28 favorites]


Oh wow, this is so great. I have been telling people about that thread and the concept of emotional labor for the last 6 months, but it's so great to have it in this format. It's still very long (as it should be) but a lot more easily-digestible.

Huge amounts of gratitude for the mental and emotional labor that went into this project!
posted by lunasol at 7:52 AM on January 7, 2016 [2 favorites]


I wonder from time to time if any men did decide to go send a card after the whole "CARDS ARE HOW YOU MAINTAIN RELATIONSHIPS SO YOUR FRIENDS DONT DIE YOUNG!" part of the discussion.
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 11:23 PM on January 6


I've made an effort to send a few more e-mails/texts/Facebook messages to people who live far away. Physical cards still strike me mostly as people mailing trash to other people's houses, but I did take away something.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 8:01 AM on January 7, 2016 [5 favorites]


Huge amounts of gratitude for the mental and emotional labor that went into this project!

Seconded so hard. Thank you!
posted by MonkeyToes at 8:31 AM on January 7, 2016


On re-reading my thoughts about cards is in a little poor taste since that was a popular derail in the thread (where I consciously did not make it), my point was mostly that I'm trying to do more of the work of maintaining friend and family connections that my wife might otherwise do. Most of "our" friends are primarily her friends (at least by my reckoning), and that thread prompted me to think about that fact more clearly.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 8:34 AM on January 7, 2016 [3 favorites]


I shared this on FB just an hour ago and the comments from women are already flooding in and making me cry. Several women - who are older and have raised kids, been married and divorced, etc. - are saying they wish they had had this concept thirty years ago.
posted by lunasol at 9:00 AM on January 7, 2016 [9 favorites]


This is so great. I re-read that thread every few months to remind myself how to act. This document will save me some time by cutting right to the quick, the big important comments from that thread.

Since that conversation, I downloaded an app that reminds me to call my friends and relatives to say hello. I set up a spreadsheet for birthdays/anniversaries/christmas cards. I have an app that tells me what chores need to be done so I can stay ahead of them instead of letting everything run into ruin. My mom has even said, "when did you become so thoughtful" which was both a sting and a compliment, because I'm sorry I ever took her for granted and glad that she noticed I've caught on.
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 9:25 AM on January 7, 2016 [28 favorites]


what's the chore app? if I may ask
posted by typecloud at 9:33 AM on January 7, 2016 [2 favorites]


I am still working through the emotional labor thread. When it happened I was in a strange liminal place trying to process months of personal upheaval and second-guessing all my decisions and also felt like I should read to the end until contributing, which... hey, the Kindle says less than three hours left! So many thanks to all those who did contribute, though. Learning from everyone's life and relationship experiences has been a huge help.
posted by Flannery Culp at 9:54 AM on January 7, 2016 [4 favorites]


I don't like holiday cards, but I do send post cards when I am on vacation*, and I send them intermittently during the year. I used to do this more often, but a lot of the people that I kept bridges standing with through occasional postcard I now chat with 3-4 times a year, and that seems to work fine. Special people still get postcards, though.

* On a trip to Iceland a few years back my largest single expense, after lodging and a coat, was postage....
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:11 AM on January 7, 2016 [4 favorites]


Feminist thought is constant danger of being lost, although its sometimes (thankfully) reclaimed later; there was some awareness of emotional labor and its gendered aspect *decades* ago (although it didn't have this handy moniker), but there was no means to quickly and easily disseminate this idea to people (other than the library system and other feminist action that intersected with pop culture). God bless the internet. And everyone who shared on that thread.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 10:15 AM on January 7, 2016 [16 favorites]


PS. - I freakin' love cards and just got a cheap laminator and have been having a ball laminating the cards. OMG so much fun.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 10:16 AM on January 7, 2016 [3 favorites]


Something I got out of that thread that really startled me is the way that committee work at a University falls into a sort-of "emotional labor" category -- it's really important for the functioning of the institution, and there is a lot of abstract praise of "service," but, when push comes to shove, research trumps everything, and research is, interestingly, coded as "male," while service is coded as "female." This extends to most committees having mostly women on them, while the faculty who never do service are overwhelmingly male. I am not quite sure what to do with that revelation, but, reading the EL thread, the similarities came into really sharp focus.....
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:25 AM on January 7, 2016 [19 favorites]


Echoing the others to say that this is an amazing documentation of an amazing thread. Thanks so much to whoever put this together!
posted by aclevername at 11:09 AM on January 7, 2016


I wonder from time to time if any men did decide to go send a card after the whole "CARDS ARE HOW YOU MAINTAIN RELATIONSHIPS SO YOUR FRIENDS DONT DIE YOUNG!" part of the discussion.

I didn't read the whole thread, but I sent ~25 cards out for the holidays this year. I had to learn how to forge my wife's signature because she doesn't care about them and got grumpy when I asked her to sign.
posted by grumpybear69 at 11:45 AM on January 7, 2016 [3 favorites]


I didn't contribute to that thread, so am admittedly lacking interest/standing, but doesn't our community generally react to wholesale stripmining of site content (even with attribution) with some concern about copyright, instead of with fawning praise about how much work it took?
posted by 7segment at 11:46 AM on January 7, 2016 [10 favorites]


I am a woman who resists paying the femininity tax, but I sent more cards after reading the EL thread.

So much of the stress and conflict between my mom and I involved my resistance (and not appreciating) to doing what my mom considers her Life Job and thought I should be doing as well. Like many others, this thread changed my life, but it completely upended my relationship with my mom. It wasn't a bad relationship, it was just a frustrating one because neither one of us understood each other. And it was getting more frustrating by the year because she really thought my getting married would change everything - including appreciating what she does. But like Suffocating Kitty I have a very equal partnership and just. . .couldn't see it. Nor could I appreciate the pressures and expectations she's been under.

The wonderful words of so many on here gave me the vocabulary and understanding with which to approach her. We're still talking through so much. But I'll just sum it up w/ this: for the first time in ~40 years my mom did not make sure everything was "just so" for Xmas. She told my dad and brother to buy their own presents, she hardly decorated, and did not make a big Xmas brunch while listening to me complain that the guys were hardly doing anything to help out. Instead, she and I had mimosas and went snowshoeing. It was the best morning I've ever had with my mom, and I'm so, so grateful.

Anyway, so many times I wished for something like this so I can dive in and find what I needed quickly - like even, while on the phone! - to be able to understand and talk to my mom. Thank you everyone who pitched in to put it together - next time you're in Denver I'll buy you a pitcher of margaritas or a fancy tea at the Brown Palace, whatever your pleasure - absolutely serious, just memail me. Thank you, thank you.
posted by barchan at 11:55 AM on January 7, 2016 [65 favorites]


Ha! One of my friends from seventh grade posted that on Facebook, and I was like "yeah, so, I'm in that document a few times," and it was a cool way to reconnect with the girl who I used to make up fake operas with on a hillside in our neighborhood.

(my umbrella was the sword we used for dramatic duel scenes/stabbings)
posted by a fiendish thingy at 12:16 PM on January 7, 2016 [18 favorites]


I wonder from time to time if any men did decide to go send a card after the whole "CARDS ARE HOW YOU MAINTAIN RELATIONSHIPS SO YOUR FRIENDS DONT DIE YOUNG!" part of the discussion.

All I'm saying is that if greeting card companies haven't taken notice of this, then they are missing out in a big way.
posted by octobersurprise at 12:17 PM on January 7, 2016 [3 favorites]


MAN CARD.
posted by barchan at 12:18 PM on January 7, 2016 [12 favorites]


I reached a tipping point of my frustration about my relationship with my boyfriend a month ago, and I really wasn't sure if we were going to stay together. Around the same time, I set aside the time to finally read the entire thread. I asked him to do the same, and he spent two weeks reading it.

Since then, he has: coordinated our car rental for vacation on his own (required calls to at least 8 agencies, and follow up); taken an active role in our calendar; asked me about my day and actually listened and empathized regularly; openly discussed his feminism as an aspiration rather than something he's already crazy awesome at; came to my house and cleaned and decorated my room over the holidays.

I repeat. After reading the EL thread, my boyfriend flew to my apartment and cleaned my room while I was out of town. He selected and purchased appropriate and useful furniture for the room. Vacuumed. Put ice cream in my freezer. Made my bed.

I have complimented him on his incredibly receptive attitude about this a number of times. Each time, his response has been that I should "wait until he's really regained my trust in a few months for any compliments, because he's just getting started and he really wants to be so much better for me." This attitude has also extended to his mother, sister-in-law, and others.

Assuming this sticks (and I really believe that it will), the thread may very well have saved the greatest love I've ever experienced. Either way, it has drastically changed my standards.
posted by femmegrrr at 12:59 PM on January 7, 2016 [152 favorites]


I didn't read the thread the first time around, and after spending a little time with the document I'm mortified. This is isn't one of those times when I can reassure myself that "I'm not one of those guys." I think I need to take a page from femmegrr's boyfriend.
posted by Area Man at 1:08 PM on January 7, 2016 [14 favorites]


Since that conversation, I downloaded an app that reminds me to call my friends and relatives to say hello.

What is this app? I would find it very useful to know.
posted by ocherdraco at 1:17 PM on January 7, 2016 [2 favorites]


Just signed up for a MeFi account :)

Thank you all so much for your kind words. It's been a personal challenge I set myself to actually take credit for that compilation, but I figured that one was one of the key points out of the whole discussion: make EL visible! So, yes, it took me many hours to put together. But it was a labor of love. And I'm actually really glad that I put my name on it, and an address to reach me, because so many men and women have reached out to me, and it is so amazing to see how the thread has touched so many people.

That said, I didn't contribute a single word to the original thread! So while I was happy to do a bit of organization, all the brilliant insights are from you all: the amazing Mefites who poured out your hearts and souls and wisdom -- and I am *so, so grateful* that you did, because that was one mind-blowing thread! It completely opened my eyes. Thank you!!

P.S. I am not the only one who worked on the compilation - two others also stepped in to do a way better job formatting than I could, so hats off to them. They're each duly credited in the versions they created (one pdf, one html). I'll not name them here for the same reason you were cautious about me, but they are awesome and you should thank them, too!

P.P.S. My apologies to 7segment for the content mining. I set the compilation up as a pdf because I personally knew people who wouldn't read the whole thread, and I wanted a way to share all those insights with them. If you know a better way to do that, please let me know! Would be happy to see another version produced.
posted by oklima297 at 1:39 PM on January 7, 2016 [104 favorites]


So I think I may have come off as more anti-card in that thread than I really am and it was certainly enlightening to read other people's perspective on that and everything else. And I actually did send out my half of the Christmas cards this year although due to a planning error I ran out of cards part way through and now all I'm left with is residual guilt.

So thanks MetaFilter.
posted by GuyZero at 1:40 PM on January 7, 2016


So glad you joined up oklima297. And I am very glad that you are taking credit where credit is due.
posted by Thella at 1:45 PM on January 7, 2016


oklima297: "My apologies to 7segment for the content mining. I set the compilation up as a pdf because I personally knew people who wouldn't read the whole thread, and I wanted a way to share all those insights with them. If you know a better way to do that, please let me know! Would be happy to see another version produced."

Welcome to MetaFilter! Copyright in all comments on MetaFilter is retained by the author, so if you like, I would be happy to volunteer to attempt to contact the MeFites quoted in the PDF in order to secure their permission. I suspect most if not all of them would be eager to grant it.
posted by Rock Steady at 2:02 PM on January 7, 2016 [6 favorites]


Stay woke, Mefites.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 2:08 PM on January 7, 2016 [8 favorites]


Yes, welcome oklima297, and thank you so much for this. And thanks again to all the people who made that thread what it was. It was intense, and I'm still kind of astonished it happened.
posted by skybluepink at 2:10 PM on January 7, 2016


MetaFilter: now all I'm left with is residual guilt.
posted by epersonae at 2:11 PM on January 7, 2016 [6 favorites]


Oh gods, I did not send out cards this holiday season and I read the thread

Residual guilt for sure.
posted by AlexiaSky at 2:15 PM on January 7, 2016


These EL discussions always make me appreciate my husband so much because he's the one who does most of this crap in our marriage. I guess this is one of those few instances of when my ADD tendency to not notice / think of / remember things actually pays off.
posted by Jacqueline at 2:15 PM on January 7, 2016 [3 favorites]


Oh, thank you, Rock Steady! I'm sure that would be a lot of work, so thanks for offering. It would definitely be great if folks were to formally grant permission. If there's a way I can help, let me know.
posted by oklima297 at 2:23 PM on January 7, 2016


It's not too late to send MLKJr. Day greeting cards instead.
posted by Jacqueline at 2:26 PM on January 7, 2016 [5 favorites]


One of the biggest, most beneficial changes to my life as a result of that thread, and I CANNOT believe I'm saying this, is that it got me to rejoin Facebook. It has made it so much easier to tend so many more relationships. I just have to laugh, really.
posted by HotToddy at 2:40 PM on January 7, 2016 [9 favorites]


I just now got caught up in reading the PDF (even though I did mostly keep up with the original thread as it was posted; I work at home), and a couple times reflexively reached to favorite posts. Even though I probably already had.
posted by WesterbergHigh at 2:52 PM on January 7, 2016 [5 favorites]


> It would definitely be great if folks were to formally grant permission.

I hereby formally grant permission for my contributions, and I would be very surprised indeed if the issue raised so unpleasantly ("wholesale stripmining," "fawning praise"—seriously?) by 7segment caused any problems. You did something good, and I'm pretty sure we all appreciate it. And welcome!
posted by languagehat at 3:02 PM on January 7, 2016 [10 favorites]


Ha, I'm in there too. Permission granted.
posted by HotToddy at 3:09 PM on January 7, 2016


I just crtl-Fed my name and it's there (neat!) so here's my permission.
posted by barchan at 3:10 PM on January 7, 2016 [1 favorite]


I certainly myself do not wish to be spoken for by 7segment on this issue, and am very bothered by the head-pattyness of the phrase "fawning praise" in this context.

But if any of the participants in that thread have an issue being included and are afraid to speak out publicly, please memail or email me and I'll figure out who all to talk to about it. I was one of the advocates of compilation and will be happy to try to help.
posted by Lyn Never at 3:11 PM on January 7, 2016 [12 favorites]


To me sharing something here is very different than sharing something for publication. I will need to rethink my participation in those kinds of threads in the future because I don't want my ex reading some random link on Facebook and taking up stalking me again. Yes this is the Internet and anyone can take whatever they want etc etc etc but if I have the option to say no I will say no.

Yeah, that's kind of where I am. I searched for my name in the PDF specifically to make sure there was nothing hugely identifiable and was relieved when there wasn't. I agree that posting here is posting publicly, and I get it, but my first thought on seeing this shared was panic, truthfully.
posted by jaguar at 3:14 PM on January 7, 2016 [10 favorites]


I was all over that thread but I'm not in the PDF. Fine. That's fine.

harumph
posted by The corpse in the library at 3:31 PM on January 7, 2016 [10 favorites]


Portions of this document have begun to make their way into my syllabus.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 3:33 PM on January 7, 2016 [7 favorites]


Yeah, I'm sorry, I really wish I had been asked, because while I'm really flattered that someone thought my comments were worthy enough to draw from the 2000+ comment thread and compile into a summary -- and it is really flattering! -- jaguar is not wrong about the panic response.

Please remove my comments from the document. Thank you.
posted by E. Whitehall at 3:39 PM on January 7, 2016 [8 favorites]


Thank you so much for doing this! What a phenomenal job you did. You are free to use my comments (I'm pleasantly surprised and flattered that you chose to include them, thank you! :) )
posted by triggerfinger at 3:43 PM on January 7, 2016


It's not too late to send MLKJr. Day greeting cards instead.

More recently than I'd like to admit, I've actually drawn big red hearts on unsent Christmas cards to repurpose them as Valentines.
posted by tangerine at 3:48 PM on January 7, 2016 [7 favorites]


I was quoted and I grant permission to use my contributions in summaries of the thread.
posted by immlass at 3:49 PM on January 7, 2016


Would a document like this fall under fair use from a copyright perspective? It's a big change from the original thread, but individual comments were not changed.
posted by Dip Flash at 3:50 PM on January 7, 2016 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I don't think participants are necessarily worried mainly about copyright as much as avoiding very nasty personal repercussions.
posted by jaguar at 3:53 PM on January 7, 2016 [17 favorites]


i grant permission for the comments of mine that are in there, but i also share the panic response. i don't think people should be talked out of that response.
posted by nadawi at 3:55 PM on January 7, 2016 [11 favorites]


I'm so glad people found my comments helpful. I'm happy to be in the PDF, consider this full permission to take whatever you'd like of mine from that thread.

An update, since most of my comments in that thread concern my most recent ex: I am doing much better than I was at the time of writing, and that thread is a big reason WHY I'm doing so much better. I'm not sad anymore, just determined to never let myself be taken advantage of in quite the same way again-- and because I now have the vocabulary of emotional labor and the bright standards of Crone Island to march behind, I suspect I never will be. So much love to you all.
posted by WidgetAlley at 4:06 PM on January 7, 2016 [7 favorites]


Yeah, I don't think participants are necessarily worried mainly about copyright as much as avoiding very nasty personal repercussions.

I get that; I am wondering more generally if users have any recourse or not when this happens. There was an FPP the other day that was a link to a repackaging of a Reddit thread, for example. Thich was done for profit and this is not, but I think we will be seeing more repackaging and redistribution of content in the future, not less.
posted by Dip Flash at 4:09 PM on January 7, 2016


hopefully for this specific situation, especially considering the topic, the changes could just be made without a lot of back and forth about "recourse."
posted by nadawi at 4:12 PM on January 7, 2016 [4 favorites]


Oh cool. Just searched and one of my comments is in there. Permission granted.

This is really great. I've talked about this with a couple of friends and will be passing on the pdf. Much less daunting and if they want more they can go to thread!
posted by Jalliah at 4:13 PM on January 7, 2016


oklima297, I'm OK with my comments remaining in the document.
posted by MonkeyToes at 4:17 PM on January 7, 2016


Send your holiday cards now, but for 2016. You're not late! You're super early!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 4:19 PM on January 7, 2016 [3 favorites]


Languagehat: ...and I would be very surprised indeed if the issue raised so unpleasantly ("wholesale stripmining," "fawning praise"—seriously?) by 7segment caused any problems.

These were intimate topics for many of the people involved. If I had shared something so personal and found it published elsewhere without my permission, I know I'd have been upset about it. Even knowing that there was nothing I could do about it.

I think empathy is better than (gentle) tone policing here.
posted by zarq at 4:30 PM on January 7, 2016 [23 favorites]


It's not a legal copyright issue, and it's not about recourse. It's a situation where people bared their hearts in a safe, welcoming (albeit public, yes) space, about extremely personal topics. But now it's spreading quite a bit. I've seen the thread and document shared in totally un-metafilter parts of my internet. Good people, but still. It's much more "out there" now than some people realize. I don't think it's reached the mra/4chan/etc dark corners yet. But it could, conceivably, be shared among people who don't agree at all with the tenor of the thread, and think it's a holy grail of how fucked-up feminism is. Those are the kinds of people who delight in doxxing and harrassing people who share sensitive information.
posted by naju at 4:30 PM on January 7, 2016 [31 favorites]


Yeah, I'm really happy for this, but this also reaffirms why I do not share my name or personal information in my profile information (this is not to shame anyone else, this is just me doing me). I know a few people off the top of my head who do live in MRA communities, and if they knew it was me and would be able to trace me back to this thread, they would have a field day of destroying my life. So I've done the emotional labor of keeping my information private, even if I want to participate in this publicly, and it was one of the conditions for me to even write in that thread, and participate in MeFi in general.

But really, thank you so much for putting this together. I look forward to sharing this with my friends who would benefit from it.
posted by yueliang at 4:39 PM on January 7, 2016 [3 favorites]


oklima297 has already said they would like it if people granted permission, so finger wagging at people in the thread who don't want to grant that seems silly and shitty to me.
posted by nadawi at 4:41 PM on January 7, 2016 [8 favorites]


There was an FPP the other day that was a link to a repackaging of a Reddit thread, for example.

On Reddit, your profile doesn't contain any information about you, but here it could conceivably have: real name, birthday, location (down to the street), social media information (and your contacts there), and e-mail. All of which is possibly now linked to personal information about you that you have shared here.

This issue is not going to go away. It always was out there. Caveat poster.

Oh, come on. It's one thing to post it here, but it's another thing entirely for someone to distribute it elsewhere. With all the discussions about gamergate, MRAs, and other violent hate groups that would love to get their hands on something like this, I think it's fair to ask that no one makes it easier for them to have a catalog right at their fingertips of potential targets.
posted by zombieflanders at 4:44 PM on January 7, 2016 [2 favorites]


Yeah, in thinking about this more, I'm deeply uncomfortable with how this was done, and while I appreciate that the intentions were good, I'd like my comments removed from the document.

On a larger note, this is not the first time I've felt burned on this site as a survivor of domestic violence, when users have assumed that because I agreed to one thing (like publishing my own comment in a certain context) that I somehow gave consent to something else (like being published in a widely shared document). For people with violent exes or stalkers, such blithe disregard for consent can cause emotional and physical harm. (My first thought on seeing this document was, "Is this going to be what prompts my ex to come shoot me?") While I do what I can to mitigate harm in terms of how much I share, I really wish everyone here would be much more aware of how much damage you can cause by assuming everyone wants as much public exposure as you might.
posted by jaguar at 4:44 PM on January 7, 2016 [35 favorites]


It's disappointing that so many people are jumping immediately to "it's not illegal" and skipping over "is it right?" And it's painfully ironic that apparently nobody involved with planning it thought to reach out to the people who'd be quoted.
posted by Lexica at 4:45 PM on January 7, 2016 [14 favorites]


I understand that this document makes top comments more accessible, but I don't see too much difference between this document and just posting the link to the thread on social media. Even here on Metafilter, there is a super high bar for comments to be deleted once they have passed the initial moderator test.
posted by Roger Dodger at 4:46 PM on January 7, 2016 [2 favorites]


It's nice if people want to have that interpersonal exchange and may make people feel good and like one another more, but it affords no additional protection to anyone, and no one needs that permission to reproduce these comments. Just something to be aware of. In fact, the appearance of an exchange of permission may only serve to further confuse people about their actual rights and best means of protecting their own content.

it's another thing entirely for someone to distribute it elsewhere

I've gotten into this very deeply elsewhere on the site and it was the single most unpleasant experience I've had on MetaFilter. However, I'm not wrong about the issue and I continue to think it's important for people to better informed about what rights they have and don't have regarding the use and dissemination of their content. This material has been published online and is available for fair use. There can be some really negative use of such content, but that doesn't mean that there are any protections for the content or any way to control where it goes once disseminated.
posted by Miko at 4:47 PM on January 7, 2016 [5 favorites]


[Miko, I've deleted your earlier comment - that is really, really not ok use of the edit feature. Don't do that. ]
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 4:47 PM on January 7, 2016 [2 favorites]


I'm quoted on the document and I grant my permission for the quote to be used.
posted by Deoridhe at 4:50 PM on January 7, 2016


I'm not sure what you're talking about that isn't an ok use, adding a link? OK, here's the link to the EFF's statement on fair use of blog comments.
posted by Miko at 4:50 PM on January 7, 2016


no one is asking for legal protections. the person who put the document together has said they would like formal permission from the participants. some people have asked that their comments be removed from the document. just because there's a legal discussion derail doesn't mean the topic as it's being discussed in this thread is a legal one.
posted by nadawi at 4:51 PM on January 7, 2016 [12 favorites]


And the rest of the content was that the permission may be nice but is not necessary, and that in fact an appearance of exchange of permission may have the perncious effect of encouraging people to believe their comments enjoy more protections than they really do. I want people to be aware of what rights they do and don't have as they contribute material to public places on the internet.
posted by Miko at 4:52 PM on January 7, 2016 [5 favorites]


I'm aware that no-one needs or requires permission to further distribute comments made on a public webpage on a public website. However, I commented stating that I would like my comments removed from a document where the owner of the said document specifically stated here upthread "It would definitely be great if folks were to formally grant permission."

I'm not asking in a legal context, and I'm not talking about fair use. I'm interacting with the owner of the document. Of course the owner of the document can ignore my request. I am simply trusting the off chance they might not even though there is no legal requirement on their part to listen to me.
posted by E. Whitehall at 4:55 PM on January 7, 2016 [22 favorites]


I think oklima297 meant no ill intent whatsoever by compiling and annotating the thread and spreading it around because they thought it was awesome.

I also think it makes total sense for someone to not want their comments included in that wider distribution, and for them to be in here saying "actually, couldja take me out of that, that'd be awesome if you did, plskthnx."

For the record, oklima297, my name only comes up by description in your document (I think you quote someone saying that one way of trying to find decent men would be to start prowling among my exes), and I'm cool with that. (And also amused at the idea of a whole lot of women now trailing after those guys - because while they are indeed awesome, they're also mostly all taken, and they're all also pretty damn weird.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:01 PM on January 7, 2016


Google search results for the PDF - how much can be clawed back?
posted by Miko at 5:03 PM on January 7, 2016 [1 favorite]


I'm pleased to keep my comment in the document, but Oklima, I've sent you a memail asking if you could change a few identifying words and phrases.
posted by ChuraChura at 5:05 PM on January 7, 2016


if the pdf is edited then all of those shares would have the edited pdf since it just goes to a link...so, most of it? all except for the people who have happened to save a local copy...
posted by nadawi at 5:06 PM on January 7, 2016 [4 favorites]


Google search results for the PDF - how much can be clawed back?

If they're just the original links to the stored doc then any changes will be there when it's next clicked. Won't be able to pull back anyone who has downloaded it and reposted it with another link.
posted by Jalliah at 5:09 PM on January 7, 2016


Surprised as I am that my comment was included, I'm also fine with it - please feel free to leave it in.
posted by dotgirl at 5:10 PM on January 7, 2016


Google search results for the PDF - how much can be clawed back?

Jiminy H. Christmas, enough with this. At this point it feels like you're trying to either bully people into not objecting to their information and/or oklima297 into not listening to their objections on legal grounds. She made a decent offer, just let both sides come to an agreement and as nadawi pointed out, the links should sort themselves out.
posted by zombieflanders at 5:10 PM on January 7, 2016 [19 favorites]


Most are the original link, but not all - like this.
posted by Miko at 5:11 PM on January 7, 2016


It is a fair point to ask to be removed from the document. And I imagine that the editors will do so. It is a good reminder though about how public what we do here can actually be. We really are putting ourselves out there when we comment.
posted by Roger Dodger at 5:11 PM on January 7, 2016


helping publicize alternate links seems like straight up trolling at this point, frankly.
posted by nadawi at 5:14 PM on January 7, 2016 [15 favorites]


In fact, the appearance of an exchange of permission may only serve to further confuse people about their actual rights and best means of protecting their own content.

This isn't a grand teachable moment for learning about your legal rights. It's just a situation where people ought to be conscientious and make sure anyone who is hurt and uncomfortable by the sudden exposure can opt out. I said "ought", not "legally obligated", because not everything is about litigation. It's about things like community looking out for each other. I'm surprised because you're usually really perceptive when it comes to community.
posted by naju at 5:17 PM on January 7, 2016 [18 favorites]


I'm not bullying, zombieflanders, and it's certainly pleasant in many ways to see the exchange of goodwill evident in the requests for and edits made to the document. The only I reason I'm speaking up, now or ever, is in the spirit of education about how public things here really are, even though they often don't feel that way.

helping publicize alternate links seems like straight up trolling at this point, frankly.

There is no such intent, and that's a confusing (because of its irony) and unfriendly insinuation. Can we maybe drop the heat level here by about 80 degrees?
posted by Miko at 5:17 PM on January 7, 2016 [2 favorites]


Yes just stop and at least have the courtesy to read what the people who have requested a delete have actually said. They aren't stupid and know full well what the situation is.
posted by Jalliah at 5:18 PM on January 7, 2016 [2 favorites]


Can we get some refills on those margarita pitchers, and stat?
posted by tonycpsu at 5:28 PM on January 7, 2016 [3 favorites]


I'll take one of those pitchers, please and thank you.
posted by E. Whitehall at 5:30 PM on January 7, 2016 [2 favorites]


I'm not sure what you're talking about that isn't an ok use, adding a link?

Nah, you edited the content of the comment pretty drastically at least 3 times. I kept writing a reply, previewing and then reworking it when I saw you had changed the comment. Finally decided to wait until the five minutes ended. And then it was deleted.

It's a fast-moving meta thread. People were bound to notice. And the mods can see comment edit histories, btw. ;)
posted by zarq at 5:31 PM on January 7, 2016 [4 favorites]


I'll take one of those pitchers, please and thank you.

Here you go. Just put six on the table. The mango one is mine though!
posted by Jalliah at 5:33 PM on January 7, 2016 [1 favorite]


Yes, I know that, zarq (I've seen the admin interface too). For the record, I always opposed allowing user edits, and I still do. If you go back to the threads where it was introduced, I thought it was a terrible idea. I spent a lot of time as an admin with the power to revise, and I can't resist the habit; I'm also a fast typist and a compulsive revisor. It'd be better if no one had the power.
posted by Miko at 5:36 PM on January 7, 2016


Miko - Are you seriously trying to first deny that you made significant edits, and then when called out on how false that is, blame the edit function itself for you using it in a prohibited manner?

That's ... an odd choice.
posted by dotgirl at 5:38 PM on January 7, 2016 [23 favorites]


> and I can't resist the habit

DUDE come on.
posted by rtha at 5:40 PM on January 7, 2016 [23 favorites]


I'm not sure what the confusion is. The edit feature is for typos, not significant phrasing changes or additions. We're happy to discuss that in more detail via the contact form if you need further clarification, but otherwise, please restrain yourself.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 5:41 PM on January 7, 2016 [9 favorites]


I added a link, I added some clarifying language. I'm not denying it. I'm not confused about the option. I wish the option weren't there because it encourages a lazy habit in me. I can always see a way to make a sentence better or add information. I'm a writer, it's something I do all the time when I'm writing. I'm not blaming the function exactly; maybe think of it more like a an ex-smoker wishing their favorite bar would ban cigarettes.
posted by Miko at 5:42 PM on January 7, 2016 [1 favorite]


You know, I could have sworn that in the not so distant past viewing profiles required being logged in. Maybe it was a quirk of my cookies or something. Either way I'm changing my profile, stat, because I don't need uninvested randos looking at my comment history etc.
posted by grumpybear69 at 5:44 PM on January 7, 2016 [9 favorites]


The edit feature being there and encouraging a lazy habit is on you and your lack of self-control, and it's not appropriate to blame the feature, the mods, or the site itself for your own poor choices.
posted by FritoKAL at 5:46 PM on January 7, 2016 [3 favorites]


Yep, I have a lack of self-control in this regard. That's true. We all agree.
posted by Miko at 5:46 PM on January 7, 2016


Miko, then acting as if all you did was add a link when both you and the mods know that's not the case makes no sense. What could you possibly hope to accomplish there?
posted by zarq at 5:47 PM on January 7, 2016 [1 favorite]


Then you should probably cease to make comments that put the focus on the edit feature. Many, many people here are writers. You'd have been better served saying "Yeah, I screwed up. I have poor self-control. I'll go walk away from the thread and get a milkshake."
posted by FritoKAL at 5:48 PM on January 7, 2016 [5 favorites]


oh god, can all of you please drop it now? that feeling when a bunch of popular mefites get into it and nobody will back down. everybody on 3 for fuck's sake
posted by twist my arm at 5:48 PM on January 7, 2016 [24 favorites]


Piling on Miko is just making things worse. This thread isn't about her ill-advised edit. Anyway, I'm glad somebody pointed out that the privacy horse (shaggy with camo pattern down to the fetlocks) has trotted out of the barn.

And hmm, I thought profiles were only visible to logged-in members, too. That's a little troubling.
posted by tangerine at 5:49 PM on January 7, 2016 [9 favorites]


I don't hope to accomplish anything. I'm not the one harping on it. It's not a huge deal to me.
posted by Miko at 5:50 PM on January 7, 2016


And hmm, I thought profiles were only visible to logged-in members, too. That's a little troubling.

I don't *think* that was ever the case. Profiles are set to no-index, so they shouldn't get picked up by google, but they're not secure by any stretch of the imagination. (Even if they were members-only, the barrier to entry is achievable by nearly anyone, so...)
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 5:51 PM on January 7, 2016 [2 favorites]


Seriously. This is round two of a really awful Meta that we don't need a replay of. Please accept that people have reasonable disagreements and walk away from this rehash. The first go round was toxic, and there is literally nothing to be gained by dumping it back out.
posted by stoneweaver at 5:51 PM on January 7, 2016 [7 favorites]


Miko, you're right that people shouldn't assume that their posts here are really private. But I don't think anyone was really doing that. People aren't objecting to their comments being available, they're objecting to the exposure of their comments potentially being drastically increased without their consent. You're framing it as if it were a simple binary question of whether the content exists on the internet or not, when it's more accurately framed around a gradient of exposure.

I don't see people asserting that it isn't or shouldn't be possible or legal to do this. It's more of a question of community standards. Sure, it might be possible for one of our comments to go viral in unpredictable ways, but should we have any reasonable expectation that a community member won't drastically increase the exposure of our comments, especially intimate personal comments, without permission by collecting and promoting them elsewhere like this? I mean, your cautions about the fallibility of that trust are noted, certainly, but I think there's still a salient question there.
posted by dialetheia at 5:52 PM on January 7, 2016 [16 favorites]


I think the only thing that's viewable to non-logged in members is the user's social media apps. I could be wrong though because I haven't logged out in like five years, probably.
posted by triggerfinger at 6:03 PM on January 7, 2016 [1 favorite]


Just to return to the original topic of the post, I would like to note that I have not had to make dinner a single time since the original emotional labour thread. My husband suddenly realised how much emotional labour I do, realised it was a bit unrealistic to think he was going to take on a bigger share than that, but has insisted that he does all the dinner cooking (and more importantly the planning and shopping) to make up for it. I cannot lie: it is pretty awesome.
posted by lollusc at 6:06 PM on January 7, 2016 [14 favorites]


should we have any reasonable expectation that a community member won't drastically increase the exposure of our comments, especially intimate personal comments, without permission by collecting and promoting them elsewhere like this

I would say no, but I think you knew that I would say that. We can have an expectation, sure; but I don't think it can be reasonable, because it is just a social agreement, which might be only an appearance of an agreement (those who are silent have not agreed), and that is gossamer.

I mean, here we are fretting about whether I can respect a community standard about editing. I have trouble with that one, and I treat it lightly, which is totally not fair. If I - a longtime, invested user of general goodwill who at least some people consider to not be an asshole - can treat that expectation lightly, don't you think it possible that there might be people - even ones you might know well, ones with good intentions - are capable of treating other such expectations lightly?

And this site has 30,000 some user accounts or some such vast number (haven't looked in a while). Most of those folks, we'll never meet as individuals, and we don't know. I might like what they write online, and I might want to reference in something I'm doing, but I'm not going to trust those unknown entities very far. It could be someone from inside our community, who does know our standards, that wants to collect and promote comments as happened here - and that can still clearly go in concerning directions. Here, we have the best-case scenario, where the person is amenable to making changes and participating in a solution and users are finding satisfaction with what adjustments they are able to make. But so could someone from outside do something similar to this - someone for whom our standards don't matter. It's just something that can happen.

Can we hope, wish, encourage one another to prevent it from happening internally by making goodwill agreements and establishing this as a general community standard? We can. We do. But I remain painfully aware of the futility of that to prevent an outside less-well-meaning actor from doing it, and of the limits of even what seem like good online relationships, which can decay with remarkable rapidity, as I've sadly learned. So I think that we can have that expectation, or any expectations we all say we want, but not really have any grounds for grievance or redress when and if the expectation is not met. We can control some of how we handle our own content internally, but it will be impossible to control all of it. The very site infrastructure allows for the possibility of exploiting this sense of trust in a community standard. Even if every one of us here wants that to be the standard.

So far, our incidents of having something picked up here and amplified have been relatively benign. We've had great luck. At the same time, I feel like the conditions are all in place for something not-so-benign to happen. We both love it when we get mentioned offsite, when we achieve note for something we did as a community, and fear it, because people become uncomfortable with their own visibility online. That's a conundrum that I don't really think we can solve without being the kind of walled garden that it doesn't seem we want to be - or can survive as, as long as ad revenue is so important.

These are the notions that contribute to my reactions to these sorts of issues.
posted by Miko at 6:06 PM on January 7, 2016 [5 favorites]


I think the only thing that's viewable to non-logged in members is the user's social media apps. I could be wrong though because I haven't logged out in like five years, probably.

argh, *the only thing that's NOT viewable to non-logged in members*, sorry. Operating on very little sleep, going to bed now.

posted by triggerfinger at 6:11 PM on January 7, 2016


> I think the only thing that's viewable to non-logged in members is the user's social media apps.

Logged-out view shows name field, join date, posting history, and anything in the About section you might have added. (I checked in a different browser.)
posted by rtha at 6:12 PM on January 7, 2016


Quick summary:

- profile pages are set to be not indexed by search engines. All reputable search engines respect this as a matter of course.
- all profile pages are at least partially viewable by non-members.
- some profile page content is viewable only by members.

If you go to your Preferences, you can see a note that says "Note: Items with a highlighted background are only shown to other logged-in members, and won't be seen by the general public or search engines" up near the top; see the shading on various blocks of items down below to see what is and isn't hidden from non-members. With social apps that's something you can choose the visibility of.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:14 PM on January 7, 2016 [2 favorites]


So far, our incidents of having something picked up here and amplified have been relatively benign. We've had great luck. At the same time, I feel like the conditions are all in place for something not-so-benign to happen.

I appreciate people being concerned but someone has got to stand up for this stuff or it will never end. In the past women were imprisoned for standing up for what they believed in, so you will be in very good company if anything untowards happens to you. See also Civil Rights Movement, Gay Rights, Gay Marriage etc etc.

It is horrible to be on the receiving end, but someone has to stand up and say "No more," and to hell with the consequences.
posted by marienbad at 6:18 PM on January 7, 2016


It's not about that, though?
posted by E. Whitehall at 6:22 PM on January 7, 2016


Sorry, that was unnecessary of me.
posted by E. Whitehall at 6:30 PM on January 7, 2016

It is horrible to be on the receiving end, but someone has to stand up and say "No more," and to hell with the consequences.
How brave of you to volunteer other people for that job. Seriously, dude, are you even hearing yourself?

I'm totally fine with my comment being used, but I hope that the compilers will respect people who feel otherwise.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 6:31 PM on January 7, 2016 [14 favorites]


Whoa, that's awesome. I'm saving that right now.
posted by odinsdream at 6:46 PM on January 7, 2016


I love any document that has a heading-subheading reading:

II. Answering the typical objections
   C. Why we don't 'just need to communicate better about our needs' (God, we have tried)
      1. Do you seriously think we haven't tried that?
posted by odinsdream at 6:56 PM on January 7, 2016 [20 favorites]


but I hope that the compilers will respect people who feel otherwise.

I hope that the compilers will take down the document from public view (I realize there are likely already downloaded copies out there; I'm not going to worry about them), contact every person who is quoted to ask for their permission, take out quotations from anyone who hasn't explicitly said yes (not just not-said-no), and then repost publicly.

Not because they legally have to (they don't), not because I think that should be considered ethical best practices for MeFi (though I do), but because the entire message of the thread is how women's emotional work is dismissed and taken for granted and exploited, and taking 70+ pages of women's emotional work and publishing it without their explicit consent is pretty much taking for granted that they are all ok with their work being used that way. It's really disrespectful.

This is a great project. The way it was done, however, completely undermines the message the finished product is trying to spread, which is respect the time and energy women put into emotional labor (like teaching, and explaining, and commiserating) and don't treat it like it's an exploitable valueless resource.
posted by jaguar at 7:07 PM on January 7, 2016 [67 favorites]


Some of the comments that people would like taken out - possibly all of them, based on the names I'm recognizing here - are really, profoundly helpful. Is there a middle ground? Would anyone be willing to have their name anonymized and any personal / identifying info left off, but the comment left alone? Not trying to pressure anyone into changing their minds - it's a valid concern - but if the problem is one of protecting personal privacy rather than the post itself, can that be fixed?

FWIW, I give permission for my comment to be included (and am thrilled it made the cut). I'm also fine with the whole thing being taken down if that's the opinion of the greater community.
posted by Mchelly at 7:44 PM on January 7, 2016 [2 favorites]


I can't believe we're having this conversation again.

People, this is a public website. Everything comment you write on metafilter can be read by anyone in the world. Metafilter and its members go out of their way to publicize the really great discussions that take place here. The original Emotional Labor thread and its follow-ons have been repeatedly posted on the bestof.metafilter front page and they've been repeatedly tweeted by the various metafilter twitter accounts and retweeted by many many many other people.

If you are concerned that your comments will be viewed by members of the public, you should look around and how they are already being disseminated. Sure, it can be shocking to see something laid out with section headings and a table of contents, but there's nothing new there. All of this was already out for the world to see.

Metafilter has been quoted in the New York Times, in the Guardian, on various television shows. It's all out there. This has come up again and again. If you have an expectation of privacy when you post something on metafilter, an expectation of security through obscurity, you are mistaken. Metafilter is a large, well respected web site read by many many people.

This thread started with person after person thanking oklima297 for putting the document together. People commented on how much good the original thread had done them, and how great it is to see the information out there. And now people are demanding that it be taken down and somehow erased from the internet?

Maybe it's time to change the user agreement of Metafilter, just to make the reality clearer. Maybe we should move to a creative commons license or some variation thereof, so people understand better that they are talking publicly when they post comments here, and that they may be quoted by people who are friendly as well as people who are unfriendly. Because that is the reality of the site. It has been in the past and it will be in the future. There is no alternative as long as Metafilter is supported by page views (supported both financially and in terms of attracting new members). I recognize that it makes some people uncomfortable and I'm sorry that's the case, but it doesn't change the fact that this is the nature of participating in Metafilter.
posted by alms at 7:45 PM on January 7, 2016 [38 favorites]


And now people are demanding that it be taken down and somehow erased from the internet?

That's unfair. There are people expressing concerns and providing very valid perspectives that maybe weren't anticipated. No one here has "demanded" anything. In fact, the people who HAVE expressed concerns have expended -- get this -- a great deal of emotional labor in trying to express those concerns in a productive and non-confrontational way.
posted by mudpuppie at 7:56 PM on January 7, 2016 [20 favorites]


>This thread started with person after person thanking oklima297 for putting the document together. People commented on how much good the original thread had done them, and how great it is to see the information out there. And now people are demanding that it be taken down and somehow erased from the internet?

Turns out that different people feel different ways and that even individual people can have multiple feelings and opinions.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 8:06 PM on January 7, 2016 [16 favorites]


It's not necessary to shame or lecture condescendingly to people who have reasons for wanting to be careful about their visibility.

I've already had someone contact me and then button before I had a chance to respond. I understand entirely how it would have been easy to respond to that thread without thinking about the possibility of it blowing up. I did it too, but my stakes are low.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:14 PM on January 7, 2016 [2 favorites]


Excuse me, I shouldn't have said "demanded". It's just frustrating given how much good work oklima297 has done and how enthusiastic the response was, to see people asking her to do even more work for reasons that I consider illusory and based on a false conception of the nature of comments on Metafilter.

Metafilter currently states that each poster owns the copyright to their comments, and that implies some level of control, but that implication is false. There is no control, and there is no real ownership, and we shouldn't be putting an emotional and moral burden on people to navigate complex walls and boundaries that don't actually exist.
posted by alms at 8:14 PM on January 7, 2016 [5 favorites]


Maybe it's time to change the user agreement of Metafilter, just to make the reality clearer.

There's the reality of what is actually happening with peoples' content, and then there's the reality of what people are consenting to have done with their content, and what the site says should be allowed to happen to peoples' content. You seem to be conflating these, but the site policy couldn't be any clearer:
Who owns the copyright on MetaFilter content?

On the footer of every MetaFilter page is: © 1999-2015 MetaFilter Network Inc. All posts are © their original authors. What this means is that people own their own content. So if you wanted to publish a book of your own MetaFilter comments, you could. However if you wanted to publish a book of other people's MetaFilter comments you'd need to speak with those individual users; MetaFilter is not the owner of the copyright of that content. People have, however, granted MetaFilter the right to display their comments. MetaFilter will generally go after websites that are making wholsale reproductions of MetaFilter content, but limited content quoting is considered fair use and will be treated as such.
This may be unwieldy, at odds with fair use doctrine, and any number of other things, but you can't say that there's anything ambiguous about it. If people choose not to follow it, as I myself have done when quoting an insightful or funny comment elsewhere from time to time, then they're violating the policy. They're not going to go to jail for it, just as I didn't go to jail for speeding on my way to work this morning, but they should be accountable for any harm they cause by violating that agreement, just as I should be held responsible for any harm that comes from me driving too fast.

The problem is, I could see your request to change MeFi policy causing people to leave the site, which I wouldn't want, but at the same time, this repeated clashing over this policy also causes a lot of anger, so I do see how it might be useful to make it clear that, whatever MeFi's policy is, the staff is relatively powerless to do much other than publicly protest and maybe ban the people doing it if they're even members in the first place. Are they going to hire lawyers to help sue people on behalf of members who've had their content used in ways they don't approve of? Of course not.

Also, as much as I believe in fair use and generally think people shouldn't post anything publicly that they don't want reprinted, the site's ethos is that users make it what it is, so they should own the content, and I rather like that, even if it's pretty much unenforceable when people decide to use the content in ways that may or not comport with fair use standards. The down side of that policy is what I think we're seeing now, and perhaps those words at the bottom of every page might be altering user expectations in ways that lead to surprise (and even anger) at someone taking those words and publishing them in another format, on another venue, or in another context.

I really don't know what the right answer is here, but I really don't want to see anyone leave the community, so I'd be very much against any change in policy, even if the policy itself can't really stop anyone from doing anything.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:16 PM on January 7, 2016 [5 favorites]


Asking people before you republish their comments isn't navigating a complex wall or boundary.
posted by gingerest at 8:16 PM on January 7, 2016 [25 favorites]


This thread started with person after person thanking oklima297 for putting the document together.

Yep. I was one of them. First, in fact. Doesn't mean that the subsequent comments and concerns aren't valid. The earliest comments don't invalidate the ones that come later. That shouldn't even have to be said.
posted by mudpuppie at 8:16 PM on January 7, 2016 [17 favorites]


It's not necessary to shame or lecture condescendingly to people who have reasons for wanting to be careful about their visibility.

I apologize if my tone is shaming or condescending, but if people have reasons for wanting to be careful about their visibility they shouldn't be posting the things that they need to be careful about on Metafilter. It's a public website and the comments are indexed by Google.

I'm going to sleep now. See you all in the morning.
posted by alms at 8:19 PM on January 7, 2016 [2 favorites]


It's not about an expectation of privacy on MF or security through obscurity. It's about the fact that this is a document made specifically for dissemination. There's a great difference in practical effect between "there's a great thread here, y'all read it" and "here's X, Y, Z" with direct links to user profiles attached to X, Y, Z, and I think it's disingenuous to pretend there isn't.

I have no problem with the concept of this pdf and I have no objection to the document being made. What I said in my first comment is that I would have liked -- let me stress that this is a personal preference -- to be asked. Not necessarily because I have any expectation that I would have been listened to when I refused though it would be nice if I was, but even just so that I knew. "FYI, I'm quoting this and this comment to share it around". Fine.

Would I expect the NYT to bother contacting me like that? Nope. I wouldn't even bother with the expectation at all, really. But this isn't the NYT.

According to a comment upthread, in this specific situation we are talking about Crone Island, a specific MF-based spin-off that grew out of the EL thread to begin with and apparently helped with this pdf in editing and proofreading, people who I think would either have directly been involved in the original thread or closely aligned with people who did participate. Given that specific context, would I like to think I could expect members of Crone Island or people associated with Crone Island to bother contacting people first? Or to think of letting them know? Yes, I would like to think I could expect it of them in particular due to the nature of the thread that all of these comments are being drawn from and the kinships that sprang up around it, one of those being Crone Island.

Apparently not, but true enough, my expectations are my own. I can contain multitudes and be a little disappointed on the one hand and resigned on the other.
posted by E. Whitehall at 8:25 PM on January 7, 2016 [15 favorites]


If people choose not to follow it, as I myself have done when quoting an insightful or funny comment elsewhere from time to time, then they're violating the policy. They're not going to go to jail for it, just as I didn't go to jail for speeding on my way to work this morning, but they should be accountable for any harm they cause by violating that agreement, just as I should be held responsible for any harm that comes from me driving too fast.

The mods deal with violations of the guidelines by either issuing private or public warnings, or by temporarily or permanently suspending a person's account. Public warnings note to the rest of the community: "This is not okay."

Is compiling people's comments into a pdf without asking their permission and then disseminating that document publicly offsite, a violation of site guidelines?
posted by zarq at 8:30 PM on January 7, 2016


Is compiling people's comments into a pdf without asking their permission and then disseminating that document publicly offsite, a violation of site guidelines?

How could it not be? Still, it appears that oklima297 wasn't a member until today, so she could have put this together without ever joining the site. The punishments you mention (and that I also referred to in my comment) only work against people who've chosen to become members.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:36 PM on January 7, 2016 [6 favorites]


How could it not be?

Well, there have been at least one or two instances of journalists lifting site comments from people without permission and including them in articles. I don't know if they were mefites themselves.
posted by zarq at 8:46 PM on January 7, 2016 [1 favorite]


oklima297 did put the PDF together without being a member of MetaFilter, so I think it's important to remember that anyone could have done this and not heap too much censure on oklima297 specifically. I am pretty sure that she was trying to be helpful and created it with the best of intentions. Yes, I know intentions only get you so far, but since this isn't a court of law I think it's helpful to remember. Just as some of the people here are surprised and belatedly aghast at how far their comments have spread, I don't think oklima297 necessarily expected her PDF to become so public either. Does that mean there's been a bit of naïveté all round? Quite possibly.

I would like people to know (as an unofficial spokesperson for Crone Island; I'm one of the mods there but certainly don't speak for everyone) that many on the Island have taken all this very much to heart and have modified the PDF to take out comments from those who have stated they would prefer their comments not be in the PDF. Having worked out that it is possible to update the Google Drive doc while retaining the same doc name, the next step is to do that. So if that helps anyone's anxiety levels at all, that is in process.

I know there are those who feel the PDF should not have been created at all, or should only have been created after explicitly asking everyone if they wanted to be included. I think that this will continue to be an evolving discussion and the PDF may well go through several revisions. But taking out those who have specifically requested to be removed is an obvious first place to start.
posted by Athanassiel at 9:22 PM on January 7, 2016 [39 favorites]


Thank you very much, Athanassiel! That's really great to hear.
posted by E. Whitehall at 9:27 PM on January 7, 2016


I see my name in there at least once. I am fine with that, copy away.
posted by phearlez at 9:29 PM on January 7, 2016


Props, Athanassiel, and you're absolutely right about intention and censure. Keep up the good work!
posted by Joseph Gurl at 9:32 PM on January 7, 2016


It's just frustrating given how much good work oklima297 has done

What oklima297 and related folks have done is to compile the words that other people wrote. That may have taken some time, but it's a secondary level of effort. oklima297 et al. didn't create any of the content; it was all copied from things other people wrote.

I would like people to know (as an unofficial spokesperson for Crone Island; I'm one of the mods there but certainly don't speak for everyone) that many on the Island have taken all this very much to heart and have modified the PDF to take out comments from those who have stated they would prefer their comments not be in the PDF.

Okay, you're retroactively trying to respect the wishes of the people who've registered protest. What about the people who haven't explicitly said anything about whether they want their comments included? At least one of mine is in the compilation, but I haven't said anything about whether I'm okay with this. As has been pointed out, the MetaFilter copyright statement says that copyright for any particular comment belongs to the commenter.

It's kind of brutal that a community that formed based on an apparent understanding that emotional labor often gets ignored and disrespected now seems to be operating on a principle of "unless people complain, it's okay".
posted by Lexica at 10:19 PM on January 7, 2016 [23 favorites]


☝️👍
posted by clavdivs at 10:20 PM on January 7, 2016 [1 favorite]


I think this site needs to spell out a much more specific privacy and copyright policy. There are too many loopholes.
posted by girlmightlive at 11:13 PM on January 7, 2016 [1 favorite]


I admit to feeling somewhat wobbled by seeing my contributions there, even as I stand by their substance, tone and participatory direction. I know that what I write on this site is publicly accessible.

I don't see the necessity for having the user-names for each comment being linked to our profiles here. Would it be possible to have those links stripped?
posted by honey-barbara at 11:23 PM on January 7, 2016 [11 favorites]


That's a feature, not a bug.
posted by h00py at 11:23 PM on January 7, 2016


(that was in reference to girlmightlive's comment, btw)
posted by h00py at 11:24 PM on January 7, 2016


That's a feature, not a bug.

And to be honest I'm neutral about it but I wonder if the userbase wants it that way. Maybe they do! It does seem like the privacy policy for Metafilter is incredibly vague compared to other sites' and with more and more outlets just wholesale lifting people's comments, it should be clarified, the expectations of what could happen when you post on the site. Specifically, whether non-members have to abide by the "terms of use" and the copyright issue (like how can a user posting someone else's comment or article summary claim copyright?)
posted by girlmightlive at 11:34 PM on January 7, 2016 [1 favorite]


I'm not the creator of the document, it would be dumb of me to make promises about what's going to happen with it. I already said discussion on the subject is clearly far from over. Discuss away, but you seem to be thinking I have either all the answers or all the responsibility and neither is true. For that matter, where responsibility lies is one of the very topics we are discussing.

This is the wee hours of the morning where many people live. It's not going to happen instantly. After dealing with the most pressing concerns, it seems to me that there is also benefit in letting discussion happen and maybe even come up with a consensus on changes rather than jump to make every change that is suggested as it's suggested.

And please bear in mind that this document and the thread itself have been out there in the public domain for months. I don't think it helps anyone to either directly or indirectly get mean about it. There was an awful lot of good faith in the thread and it seems like that was the spirit in which the doc was created. Let's try to hang on to that good faith.
posted by Athanassiel at 11:38 PM on January 7, 2016 [9 favorites]


I don't see the necessity for having the user-names for each comment being linked to our profiles here. Would it be possible to have those links stripped?

This seems like a reasonable idea. I avoid moving unilaterally, but this seems like a good approach to keeping it from being as direct of a "This comment is associated with *this* person" connection.

Which, this is to say (as someone else also trying to help shoulder the load this unexpected popularity/attention has provided for the Island itself, the preservation of the condensed/reference Thread extract, and Oklima) that I definitely want to do what I can to help make sure that anyone who feels uncomfortable with their inclusion can be redacted/removed cleanly, while hopefully leaving something useful once things are relatively stable/settled (given how many people have already found it a valuable resource when the thread as a whole seems daunting).

If there were even the remotest financial association going on with this, I'd be much more uncomfortable with it; and I don't think anyone expected that it would become something which would be linked to in something like The Mary Sue rather than mostly passed around as a more individual-sized resource (and definitely not as something authoritative. The sort of thing you might get from a friend and be able to get a reluctant partner to be willing to read, perhaps.

Which, not that that's meant as a legal defense (And I'm not the creator, just someone trying to support things mostly behind the scenes), but more of a social point.
People trying to help people, rather than publication and the baleful gaze of the Internet (as noted in above concerns about MRA/Gators/etc.).
posted by CrystalDave at 11:57 PM on January 7, 2016 [2 favorites]


honey-barbara: I don't see the necessity for having the user-names for each comment being linked to our profiles here. Would it be possible to have those links stripped?

I'm very much in favour of this. Yes, it's only adding a very surmountable barrier, but it makes a difference. 'Public' as a concept has a lot of nuance and not all 'public' is the same.
posted by Too-Ticky at 12:19 AM on January 8, 2016 [9 favorites]


I don't see the necessity for having the user-names for each comment being linked to our profiles here. Would it be possible to have those links stripped?

Good point. Lose the links to the username and the "list of favorites" -- they're really not necessary since the point of the PDF is to summarize the contents of the thread, not to focus on the identities of the commenters.

Keep the links to the original thread's comments -- which are (confusingly) linked from the posting time (e.g. "6:37") in the PDF. Readers could want to check out the context in which a remark was made.

Question: if you are uncomfortable about having your words in this PDF, would you feel better if there were simply a URL link directly to the MetaFilter comment in place of them? Then there'd be no "reposting," but oklima297's systematic organization of comment topics would still be useful.
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 12:25 AM on January 8, 2016 [4 favorites]


That seems in the spirit of the enterprise which is to share substance, tone and participatory solidarity, rather than personal markers of identification.

btw I don't want my comments removed from the PDF and give permission if it's necessary. But the additional information provided creates a traffic path where none is needed [is it?]
posted by honey-barbara at 12:34 AM on January 8, 2016 [3 favorites]


Keep the links to the original thread's comments [...] Readers could want to check out the context in which a remark was made.

No, I'd rather see those gone too. After all, it's only one extra click from there to the profile. That's not enough of a barrier.
If people want to see the remarks in context, they should read the thread.

I'm fine with this contect being made available separate from MetaFilter, in fact I think that's a Good Thing... but I like it more, the more separated from MetaFilter it is. It's about the content after all, not who said it.
posted by Too-Ticky at 2:03 AM on January 8, 2016 [9 favorites]


I sympathise with the posters who aren't comfortable with this document and this is of course the perfect place to express their opinion. I want to thank them and the compilers of the document because the original thread has been one of the most powerful things in my life. Reading it (again because of this document) reminds me I'm not doing life wrong. I had lots more to say but none of it would convey the comfort it gives me, that I've tried hard enough and I deserve(d) more.
posted by b33j at 3:01 AM on January 8, 2016 [4 favorites]


This is a beautiful document. I'm not a part of it, because I didn't participate in the thread. So I have no axe to grind.

I think some of the "whoa!" responses are coming because this is a big project that's been in the works since at least August (according to the credits) and we MeFites (the few of us who read MetaTalk anyway) are hearing the finished product via The Mary Sue.

Anything now would be closing the barn door after the cows are out, but in the future, maybe a separate MeTa announcing that this is happening and asking participants for consent should happen in the "August" stage rather than the "Voilà!" stage. And as a Projects post, too, since this did originate from our MetaFilter community.
posted by kimberussell at 4:13 AM on January 8, 2016 [30 favorites]


I can't search the document for my name right now (tablet being cranky) but if any of my comments ended up in it, I hereby give permission for them to stay.
posted by Stacey at 4:42 AM on January 8, 2016


There are a few comments of mine in there, and I am OK with them being included. I sympathise with the posters who have asked to be removed, and/or expressed reservations about it. I would be a lot more comfortable if the direct links to our usernames and favourites were removed, though, and I, too, would've liked to have known this is was in the works before now.

That said, I still regard that thread as pretty much the best thing ever, and I am happy to have this condensed version!
posted by skybluepink at 5:20 AM on January 8, 2016


I posted this thing in my feminist book club group yesterday before this thread blew up, and woke up to see one woman saying she'd read the whole thing in one go and had some serious thinking to do about her relationship, and another woman saying it made her cry.

I think the way the creation of this document was handled was not great. But its value is hard to overstate.

I think stripping out or obscuring usernames and links is a good idea.
posted by showbiz_liz at 5:42 AM on January 8, 2016 [3 favorites]


I think the document should be taken offline until all user-links associated with the comments are removed. I was surprised to see the links there when I went to view the PDF, I expected to see only the content. Attribution is important in many contexts but in this one it is potentially dangerous.

I also agree it is poor form to republish this material without first seeking permission from the authors.

Once these two issues are addressed, this document can stand as the useful resource its compilers intended it to be.

Not directly involved myself - I followed the original thread closely, valued it highly, but didn't contribute to it.
posted by valetta at 5:54 AM on January 8, 2016 [6 favorites]


I've created a spreadsheet to track permission - so far based solely on comments in this thread - and will share it with oklima297. Thus far, out of 105 participants, there are 20 responses. I will continue to follow this thread, but you can MeMail or email me your permission (or lack thereof) if you prefer. In a few days I will reach out via MeMail to people I have not heard from.

To be clear, whether this permission is legally necessary or sufficient is, I think, a derail. It's a nice, neighborly way to handle the situation, and seems very appropriate, given the context.
posted by Rock Steady at 6:55 AM on January 8, 2016 [9 favorites]


On rereading I'll temper the comments I made above. Given the scope of this project, and the way it takes an entire thread and turns it into something resembling a book, I agree that it would have been appropriate for the creators to check in with Metafilter before starting. This is different from the fair use case of a reporter or blogger using brief quotes. It's a substantial piece of work derived from a substantial thread created by the community.

Coming to us in advance would have surfaced the issues that are being raised here. They aren't surprising and for the most part they aren't difficult to implement.

I also agree that it's appropriate to ask the people from Crone Island to make these changes now. First indications are that they'll be happy to do that. While the cat's already out of the bag, so to speak, it would be good if the definitive version that they host had these correctives.

All of the above is, of course, orthogonal to the question of whether people who post here should expect de facto anonymity for their comments. As the many users of Usenet discovered way back in the day, the world can be very small when even our grandparents have access to the Internet and know how to use Google.
posted by alms at 6:55 AM on January 8, 2016 [5 favorites]


It is informative to compare this thread to one of the many threads about Kutiman. Many people don't like having their work republished without their consent, attribution or no attribution.
posted by grumpybear69 at 6:57 AM on January 8, 2016


I think some of the "whoa!" responses are coming because this is a big project that's been in the works since at least August (according to the credits) and we MeFites (the few of us who read MetaTalk anyway) are hearing the finished product via The Mary Sue.

Anything now would be closing the barn door after the cows are out, but in the future, maybe a separate MeTa announcing that this is happening and asking participants for consent should happen in the "August" stage rather than the "Voilà!" stage. And as a Projects post, too, since this did originate from our MetaFilter community.


Yes, exactly. And I'm mostly disappointed at the Crone Island long-time MeFites who helped with this, rather than oklima, who's brand-new, and didn't think to ask people with whom they'd been interacting regularly if we'd be ok with this. I'm specifically refraining from trying to figure out which specific users were involved, because I don't really care, but it would be nice for people to take down the link while this is being hashed out and to at least say, "Hey, sorry, we fucked up, and we're going to do everything we can to make this right." Again, I know the intentions were awesome, but there were some major missteps and I don't feel like anyone's taking serious responsibility. I know that some of that may be because it was a group effort, but I think the document should be taken down until that's worked out. Not everyone reads MetaTalk, so there's no reason to believe that everyone who hasn't said "No" is fine with their comments being out there in this format.
posted by jaguar at 7:00 AM on January 8, 2016 [9 favorites]


Or let me put it this way: The people who are not ok with their comments being out there in this format are likely those for whom it is dangerous -- physically, financially, emotionally -- for their comments to be out there in this format. I would hope that a group of people committed to respect for women would realize this is a potentially serious issue, and do what they can to mitigate this immediate harm and threat.
posted by jaguar at 7:03 AM on January 8, 2016 [17 favorites]


...which is to say, not just waiting until people object, because you have no idea if people who haven't heard about this project would object.
posted by jaguar at 7:05 AM on January 8, 2016 [4 favorites]


Well, oklima297's sure getting an interesting first few days as a member.
posted by JanetLand at 7:32 AM on January 8, 2016 [24 favorites]


The people who are not ok with their comments being out there in this format are likely those for whom it is dangerous -- physically, financially, emotionally -- for their comments to be out there in this format.

Wow, I find this very disturbing.

Jaguar, do you think that it's safe for those comments to appear on Metafilter but not safe for those same comments to appear in this PDF? How does that work?

The original EL thread is one of the most widely praised that's ever been on Metafilter. There are hundreds of links to it around the web. It could have easily been picked up by the Huffington Post or some other major news outlet. Do you think it's okay and safe for people to post things in a Metafilter thread that could go viral, but then not safe for the same comment to appear in this other format? I don't understand that distinction and it strikes me as a very risky one.

People shouldn't be posting things here that could make them unsafe. This is the public internet. Many of our discussions have great insights, and any of those discussions could go viral at any time.
posted by alms at 7:36 AM on January 8, 2016 [28 favorites]


Good morning. I want to offer my sincere apologies to those who are worried about retribution, and also those who are offended to have their words used without their permission. I assure you that neither was my intention, but I accept that both were the result, and I humbly apologize.

Not being a member of MetaFilter, I did not understand how the community works -- and I hasten to add that the Crone Island MeFites who have helped did so after I had already created and shared the pdf, so they can't be held responsible for not seeking permission. I think the larger discussion about how privacy and sharing is and should be viewed in this community is interesting and valuable, but since I am not a member (having just joined to respond to this thread) I will leave that conversation to those who are more invested in it.

For my part, focusing on this pdf specifically, I believe that making the edits requested (deleting certain comments and removing links to user profiles) is entirely reasonable and I'm happy to do that. It exceeds my technical capabilities, however, since it requires link direction on GoogleDrive (were this a webpage instead of a pdf, edits would be easy and instantaneous; sadly, in this case they are neither). Fortunately, there are technically gifted folks on Crone Island who have generously stepped up and offered their time and abilities to make this happen. It will take a little bit of time for us to figure it out and get it done, but we are working on it. As others have noted above, there is no way for me to fully clean the slate (older downloaded/cached versions will still exist), but since most people will read the pdf through the widely shared links, I believe it will help for those to be redirected to an edited version.

I can reach out to the original authors in whatever way you all think is most appropriate. Should I send private messages to each? (other than those who have already posted here)

Mea culpa. I apologize for not asking in advance, which breach of trust I sadly cannot repair now. But I hope and trust that we'll be able to make the edits in a way that helps people feel safe and respected, and allows the thread's insights to continue to be shared, because there is so much value and wisdom in what you wrote.
posted by oklima297 at 7:38 AM on January 8, 2016 [66 favorites]


Jaguar, do you think that it's safe for those comments to appear on Metafilter but not safe for those same comments to appear in this PDF? How does that work?

We've already been over this before. Why is it so horrible that others ask merely for common courtesy and decency, especially when others are willing to gracefully defer to that? Why dismiss their very real concerns so you can quibble over minutiae? I really don't get why making it even the slightest bit harder for dangerous people to do bad things seems so controversial. And to do it over this specific thread, this issue, just seems incredibly insensitive and offensive.
posted by zombieflanders at 7:48 AM on January 8, 2016 [15 favorites]


[Passing this along from the contact form.]
I disabled my account a while back, don't plan on reactivating it, and hadn't been checking MeFi since, but I saw this on The Mary Sue and immediately popped back over to see what the deal was.

I'd (yes, naively) assumed that the MeFites whose comments were lifted wholesale and replicated on the PDF had at least been given a heads-up, and figured that my account being disabled had prevented me from being contacted along with everyone else. Now I see that not only was no one given a heads-up via MeTa, MeFi, email, or MeMail, but that it wasn't even on the compilers' radar screen until someone brought it up in this thread, which is frankly shocking to me, especially considering that this had apparently been in the works since last summer.

Suffice it to say that I have a whole lot of not-great feelings about the opacity with which this document was compiled, but jaguar pretty much covered them all with her 7:07 PM comment above. To my mind, the way it was put together -- no heads-up given, let alone permission sought or granted -- flies in the face of the most meaningful parts of the discussion. Even if MeMailing individual users was out of the question, it would have been easy, fast, and free to draw up a brief MeTa about the project before it was finalized and published.

Yes, I'm aware that I have absolutely no control over how, where, or why my words are used once they're posted here. And yes, I'm aware that what I've already written on MeFi was, is, and will continue to be publicly visible in perpetuity. But no, I still don't really want my comments being used to chase and capture pageviews or ad impressions anywhere outside of this site. I'd very much appreciate it if what I wrote could be removed from the annotated document.

Best,
divined by radio
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:48 AM on January 8, 2016 [25 favorites]


I think it would be good idea to PM individual commentators. Only a small slice of the Metafilter population reads MetaTalk regularly, so lots of people whose comments are in the current PDF may not see this post and may not even know the PDF is out there.
posted by colfax at 7:51 AM on January 8, 2016 [4 favorites]


I have a comment in the document that I'm comfortable with staying in the document. I agree that removing the profile links seems like a small but prudent step.
posted by deludingmyself at 7:57 AM on January 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


I think the document should be taken offline until all user-links associated with the comments are removed.

In my experience, disappearing something people want to see/which has been publicized is a recipe for folks digging up and sharing their saved or cached copies. You'd be better served, if that is the goal (and personally I think that's a bad idea) by hollowing out the linked document but preserving the link so people find SOMETHING there when they click through. Disappointment at no content doesn't seem to fire up the go-find-it folks the way a non functioning link does.
posted by phearlez at 8:02 AM on January 8, 2016 [4 favorites]


Wow, the posting and linking to the number of favorites that a comment has is just terrible. It's like a messed up popularity contest that serves absolutely no purpose at all.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:10 AM on January 8, 2016 [3 favorites]


As far as contacting people, not everyone has memail and some/many who do don't necessarily get notifications when some comes in. So a lack of answer could well mean someone doesn't know the message came in so you can't take silence as indicating awareness.

As far as attribution and links go, I'll add that I am not okay with my words being distributed WITHOUT attribution, as seems to have been floated in at least one suggestion above. I don't care if there's no links back to metafilter from them individually but I expect they will at least have my pseudonym and an indication they were written on metafilter.

I understand and respect people's concerns about the ease of the link to the original comment but I'm not sure this doesn't cross over into providing a harmfully false sense of security. Searching a quoted sentence from a comment is Google 102 if not 101 and will easily find the in place link. If that clickable user profile then reveals anything problematic it's still a risk and people should be addressing that there if they ever share risky things.

Wow, the posting and linking to the number of favorites that a comment has is just terrible. It's like a messed up popularity contest that serves absolutely no purpose at all.

So, favorites as they are constantly used here already then. (We'll call this my periodic grump about how they are named)
posted by phearlez at 8:13 AM on January 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


phearlez: "As far as contacting people"

Just as a heads-up, over 25% of the users included in the PDF have already responded one way or another, so while I'm sure there will be some stragglers, I think word is getting out pretty efficiently.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:19 AM on January 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


maybe this thread doesn't need to include a fight about favorites...
posted by nadawi at 8:21 AM on January 8, 2016 [20 favorites]


First edits are done (visible if you click the link at the start of this thread). We're working on the rest.
posted by oklima297 at 8:26 AM on January 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


maybe this thread doesn't need to include a fight about favorites...

Once we get through the favorites fight, the next thing on the agenda is a detour into a fight about post titles.

My own backseat-editor-after-the-cats-are-long-gone-from-the-bag take is, the default handling should be to anonymize the user names and take out the direct links. Folks who are onboard with credit can then have it, and those uncomfortable with their inclusion can have it removed.
posted by Drastic at 8:28 AM on January 8, 2016 [3 favorites]


Jaguar, do you think that it's safe for those comments to appear on Metafilter but not safe for those same comments to appear in this PDF? How does that work?

We've already been over this before. Why is it so horrible that others ask merely for common courtesy and decency, especially when others are willing to gracefully defer to that?


I don't think it's horrible, and I'm all in favor of courtesy and decency. In the comment you're quoting I didn't say anything about asking and deferring to people's requests. I was talking about Jaguar's statement that the PDF would make people unsafe, with the implication that the comments appearing in Metafilter didn't make them unsafe.

Why dismiss their very real concerns so you can quibble over minutiae? I really don't get why making it even the slightest bit harder for dangerous people to do bad things seems so controversial.

It's not minutiae. If someone's safety is at risk because of the comments appearing in the PDF, then their safety is also at risk because of the comments appearing on Metafilter. Some people insist on forgetting that Metafilter is a public forum, and it is not safe for people to do that.

This is different from people being uncomfortable about the PDF, or shocked by the PDF, or feeling taken advantage of by the PDF. I'll grant all of those. People will have feelings about their words being reused, and they have every right to those feelings, and courtesy is good, and in cases like this asking first is good.

But Jaguar was talking specifically about safety, and I was just asking for clarification about that safety's sake.
posted by alms at 8:29 AM on January 8, 2016 [6 favorites]


Jaguar, do you think that it's safe for those comments to appear on Metafilter but not safe for those same comments to appear in this PDF? How does that work?

How it works is that I'm an expert in exactly what sets my abusive ex off, is how it works, and publicity is one of those things, and I have done enormous mental calculations regarding what I feel necessary for my own mental health (sharing parts of my history) vs. what I feel necessary for my own physical safety (not making my comments too prominent in the world at large) and this project completely ignored that many of us have done those same risk analyses and come to our own individual solutions.

I don't appreciate people being concern-trolled as if we're idiots about how the internet works. Never being able to speak up about my abuse also exerts a toll, and "Don't ever talk about it publicly, even pseudonomynously" is not a solution I'm ok with, because it's basically forcing people to hide their abuse.
posted by jaguar at 8:33 AM on January 8, 2016 [79 favorites]


In a very minor aside, I am sad that dbr has disabled her account and won't be coming back. She was one of my favourite posters and if I had known that was coming, I'd have Memailed her for contact info so we could talk about vegan food somewhere else.
posted by Kitteh at 8:39 AM on January 8, 2016 [43 favorites]


It's not minutiae. If someone's safety is at risk because of the comments appearing in the PDF, then their safety is also at risk because of the comments appearing on Metafilter. Some people insist on forgetting that Metafilter is a public forum, and it is not safe for people to do that.

There's public and then there's PUBLIC. People are going to be comfortable with certain levels of exposure, and uncomfortable with others. That does not need to meet a perfectly logical definition to be true. That said, there is a HUGE difference in exposure levels between the original thread and the pdf.

Some of the concerns being raised in this thread are by people who have endured and survived domestic abuse. Who shared their stories and feelings in a thread with 2115 comments but are now finding them highlighted in a best-of, annotated 70 page summary.

What they shared was pretty much buried in the other thread. Now it's being showcased.
posted by zarq at 8:40 AM on January 8, 2016 [35 favorites]


Jaguar, thanks for the response.
posted by alms at 8:48 AM on January 8, 2016


(hit 'post' too soon. will not use 'edit' button.)
That clarifies things for me. I'm going to do my best to bow out now.
posted by alms at 8:49 AM on January 8, 2016 [3 favorites]


I'm really glad to have this resource, as I mentioned in my first comment in the thread, but I had totally missed that this wasn't just a "hey mefites, here's an index I made for mefites"... and that there was not even the slightest attempt at gaining permission. I'm really glad to see some of the authors of the document stepping up to try and rectify that situation.

It seems like we're wading into territory where we've gone over lots of times, with suggestions that just because Mefi is a public site, that's equivalent to any kind of publicity. I think that's pretty disingenuous at worst, or at best, a misunderstanding of how typical readers absolutely will not wade through a 500-comment thread, much less a 2500 comment thread.

By reducing that barrier, and by making this information more easily shareable, it undeniably pushes individual comments higher in public visibility. It's quite reasonable for one to be concerned about this.

Plenty of times I'll comment on threads well aware that it's a public internet, but also taking some solace in the fact that I'm buried in the middle of a thousand other comments. That calculus matters, and it's especially familiar to members who are more socially vulnerable for whatever reason. Please respect that.
posted by odinsdream at 8:57 AM on January 8, 2016 [15 favorites]


I strongly feel, to be ethical, keeping the comments on the PDF needs to be explicitly opt-in at this point, not opt-out (you have to actually say "yes, I want to be included" instead of say "no, remove my comment"). There will be people who are not going to be comfortable speaking up and drawing more attention to themselves (especially after some of the comments in this thread!).

People shared their stories in that thread because they have built trust in this community. I would bet that many of them would not have shared their personal stories in another place online - they shared them HERE because they feel connected to the community HERE and safe in the community HERE. That is a really, really important point. It doesn't matter that it's a public forum - the point is the community trust & connection.

I find it all too ironic that the original topic that brought all this on was emotional labor and the comments people are finding so valuable are about the invisible & important work of emotional labor because keeping people connected, feeling safe, heard, and included is all emotional labor.

Once that trust & connection is breached, serious footwork needs to be done to salvage it. Listening & acknowledging & accommodating people's concerns is a very important part of repairing that trust and connection. That is all, like, Emotional Labor 101.
posted by flex at 9:02 AM on January 8, 2016 [41 favorites]


That said, there is a HUGE difference in exposure levels between the original thread and the pdf.

Yeah, I'm mildly surprised to have a comment of mine included in the .pdf and I can tell you there was a moment where I had to figure out the likelihood of anyone in my family: reading the .pdf; connecting me to the comment; and going and looking at my comment history on Metafilter. I do say some things elsewhere on the site about my family dynamic, and my personal life that I absolutely feel o.k. sharing here where I'm certain enough none of the people involved are going to see, but not on the wider internet where I can't make that assessment. And that's just for low stakes, this would be mildly awkward at family get togethers, not higher-stake concerns that have been expressed.

Plus, I feel like there's a difference between being one comment out of a giant thread of people all telling their story and being singled out as having a particularly moving\well written\involving horrible people story.

Anyway, I really do appreciate the work that was involved, and do give my permission to use my quote (although having the direct links stripped out to the comment and the favorites would be nice), it'd just be nice to have been asked (and again, this is just from my low-stakes point of view, I know for some people it's a much more serious thing not to have been contacted). For what it's worth, I totally am picturing this oversight as a result some people who got so excited about a project they forgot to slow down and consider that not everyone will share their enthusiasm, rather than people just shrugging and saying "so what, it's out there, and legal, what are they gonna do about it?"
posted by Gygesringtone at 9:09 AM on January 8, 2016 [8 favorites]


People shared their stories in that thread because they have built trust in this community. I would bet that many of them would not have shared their personal stories in another place online - they shared them HERE because they feel connected to the community HERE and safe in the community HERE. That is a really, really important point. It doesn't matter that it's a public forum - the point is the community trust & connection.


Perhaps it is time to have a feature where certain posts are only visible to Mefites.
posted by grumpybear69 at 9:10 AM on January 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


Perhaps it is time to have a feature where certain posts are only visible to Mefites.

A healthy dose of curiosity + $5 makes that an ineffective solution.
posted by mudpuppie at 9:23 AM on January 8, 2016 [4 favorites]


Perhaps it is time to have a feature where certain posts are only visible to Mefites.

Just as a quick note, that is not on the cards, much as I appreciate the good intent. Deciding whether and how and where to share something sensitive publicly is complicated and I think there's a lot of reasonable points being made in here about why just saying published once == publish it everywhere is tricky even when done in good faith, but for all that mefi is a fundamentally public discussion space and we're not going to change that core attribute of the site.

Folks choosing to use other channels for private or semi-private subdiscussion is okay and basically a personal prerogative for any given user to sort out their needs and wants on individually.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:24 AM on January 8, 2016 [5 favorites]


I think that's pretty disingenuous at worst, or at best, a misunderstanding of how typical readers absolutely will not wade through a 500-comment thread, much less a 2500 comment thread.

For whatever reassurance it's worth, I strongly doubt that someone who wouldn't take on skimming a 500 comment thread is any more likely to take on a 37 page document. The underlying sentiment from someone who says "man, I can't undertake reading that much about emotional labor" isn't the much, it's the exertion of more than 10 seconds of attention to the subject (if that).
posted by phearlez at 9:42 AM on January 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


I fully support removing comments for users who ask/don't consent, as well as stripping links. I'm just wondering if, for the remaining comments, would obscuring usernames fully or partially for those who request it be a doable thing?

I'm okay with my comments being used along with my username, because I've generally taken steps from the beginning to not associate my MF account with my offline identity. But I don't really censor myself here like I do everywhere else and I've written lots of super personal things over the years. So none of my IRL friends (excluding people I've met through the site) know I'm here unless I want them to and I'm a-ok with that.

I'm not sure if it's really a doable thing, but if it would all still work with partially obscured usernames, I might think about doing that. (Not to throw another wrench into this, just wondering if it's doable - definitely fine with leaving my comments if it's not).
posted by triggerfinger at 9:47 AM on January 8, 2016


phearlez: For whatever reassurance it's worth, I strongly doubt that someone who wouldn't take on skimming a 500 comment thread is any more likely to take on a 37 page document. The underlying sentiment from someone who says "man, I can't undertake reading that much about emotional labor" isn't the much, it's the exertion of more than 10 seconds of attention to the subject (if that).

For the heck of it, I printed the original thread to pdf.

It came to 983 pages.

The doc is 72 pages. All the low-content stuff is removed, including the back and forth conversations. It's also indexed.

You may be right about the effort the average reader may be willing to put in. But the pdf is definitely a lot more accessible and readable.
posted by zarq at 9:49 AM on January 8, 2016 [14 favorites]


I fully support removing comments for users who ask/don't consent, as well as stripping links. I'm just wondering if, for the remaining comments, would obscuring usernames fully or partially for those who request it be a doable thing?

I agree that that should be one of the choices given to people. It seems like varying levels of permission could work:

* Don't use my comments at all.
* Use my comment, but not my username.
* Use my comment with my username.

I think links to usernames should be stripped from all comments. And, again, I think everyone quoted needs to have chosen one of those options in order to be included. If a user doesn't get back to people or doesn't state a preference, their comments should be taken out.
posted by jaguar at 9:50 AM on January 8, 2016 [6 favorites]


Oh, and add:

* Use my comment, but please edit it to remove identifying information.
posted by jaguar at 9:51 AM on January 8, 2016 [6 favorites]


A comment of mine ended up in the pdf; you have my permission to keep it there with my username.
posted by JenMarie at 9:58 AM on January 8, 2016


I strongly feel, to be ethical, keeping the comments on the PDF needs to be explicitly opt-in at this point

This, and while I appreciate that edits are underway currently, I think that this should be done with great haste as it appears that there are several members who have been made extremely uneasy by this.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:03 AM on January 8, 2016 [5 favorites]


The links have already all been stripped out as far as I can tell!
posted by leesh at 10:06 AM on January 8, 2016


I would like to not be in this document, thanks.
posted by poffin boffin at 10:08 AM on January 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


For the heck of it, I printed the original thread to pdf.

It came to 983 pages.

The doc is 72 pages. All the low-content stuff is removed, including the back and forth conversations. It's also indexed.

You may be right about the effort the average reader may be willing to put in. But the pdf is definitely a lot more accessible and readable.


I think an important point, too, is that if we decide that we should be sensitive to the desires of the original authors, that includes letting them decide whether or not participation risk in one medium is equivalent to a risk in another. A third-party desire to redistribute sensitive information shouldn't be the place to authoritatively weigh risk equivalency.
posted by SpacemanStix at 10:11 AM on January 8, 2016 [5 favorites]


I do say some things elsewhere on the site about my family dynamic, and my personal life that I absolutely feel o.k. sharing here where I'm certain enough none of the people involved are going to see, but not on the wider internet where I can't make that assessment.

I think it is a mistake to not think of Metafilter (including AskMe, MeTa, Fanfare, etc) as very much part of the "wider internet." Everything here is open, viewable by anyone, and indexed by search engines. There can be a lot of trust and familiarity here, but conversations here are as much a part of the internet as are posts anywhere else, and more so than in places that are more obscure or less transparent.
posted by Dip Flash at 10:31 AM on January 8, 2016 [4 favorites]


When I first saw this I thought it was a great thing, but I hadn't realised there were profile links involved and I also hadn't considered just how out there it might get (because I am quite stupid). I do believe the people who worked on it had great intentions and the omission of obtaining consent was an oversight and not a deliberate slight. But the one comment of mine which made it in refers indirectly to someone else, who could be very hurt if - unlikely though it seems to me - they came across the document and thought it was worth reading. So while I don't mind it being there I've anonymised my profile for the first time since I joined.

I previously deliberately used my real name and linked to my Twitter account, kind of to give myself accountability and not feel like I could "get away" with saying things here that I couldn't stand over IRL. But this has made me realise that in doing so I'm also technically making public things I might say about people close to me and they didn't choose that. So in a way I appreciate the wake up call that just because I feel like I'm talking to people I trust here (and I do, and if that makes me naive I'm ok with that), what I say here could end up in a different place with a different context and audience. So I guess I'm a little bit wiser, and a little bit sadder.
posted by billiebee at 10:35 AM on January 8, 2016 [15 favorites]


I think it is a mistake to not think of Metafilter (including AskMe, MeTa, Fanfare, etc) as very much part of the "wider internet."

I'll just repeat the point made above: Please let other people make their own risk-calculation decisions. I have a hard time believing that anyone here is unaware of how the internet works.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:03 AM on January 8, 2016 [24 favorites]


It is probably best to think of Metafilter like a roundtable discussion of potentially personal subjects that is filmed and broadcast on cable access TV. Occasionally a segment might get re-broadcast on the local news, or even a major network station. Your trust extends only to the people in the room with you, having the discussion, but not to the audience watching from afar.
posted by grumpybear69 at 11:03 AM on January 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


Or like a website that many people here have been using for years.
posted by jaguar at 11:09 AM on January 8, 2016 [8 favorites]


billiebee: while I don't mind it being there I've anonymised my profile for the first time since I joined.

But you still managed to look lovely in your profile pic.

(Kidding aside, I know what you mean.)
posted by Too-Ticky at 11:11 AM on January 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


Ok folks, all the edits and deletions requested so far have been made. (Not by me, by a Crone Island comrade who is kindly hosting this and put in hours of work today to keep up with this and make the changes.) If you follow the link above (same one on MarySue), you can see what the pdf now looks like.

Now that we have a system for making changes, I'll send PMs to folks I haven't yet heard from to see if there are further deletions/edits needed. For those who are just catching up on the thread, you can PM either me or Rock Steady (or post here!) if you want edits. As Jaguar suggested above, you can request that your comment be entirely deleted, or just have your username and/or identifying details removed. Also, if you are ok with having your comments included as is, please tell us. We'd like this to be affirmative consent, so we'll eventually delete comments from folks if we can't reach them.

My thanks to those who have agreed to remain a part of the document, and my apologies (and complete understanding) to those who prefer their comments not be shared this way.
posted by oklima297 at 11:13 AM on January 8, 2016 [17 favorites]


I'm okay with my comment staying, by the way.
posted by Too-Ticky at 11:16 AM on January 8, 2016


Oh ok, thanks, Too-Ticky! It was such a good one : )
posted by oklima297 at 11:29 AM on January 8, 2016


Thank you to everyone who contributed to the original thread, to the folk(s) involved in editing, organizing, condensing, hosting, and maintaining the PDF, and to those agreeing to remain part of the document. It's a great resource for activists and other folks who want an artifact to point to that says "THIS. THIS HERE is the evidence you bastards are looking for." in response to the constant challenges of validity and content for anyone talking about Emotional Labor. We as a world, I believe, really need this kind of material to help provide context and content and argument when EL is criticized and belittled in normal and public discussion.

(I wish I could have contributed, but I completely missed the EL thread in July.)
posted by kalessin at 11:47 AM on January 8, 2016 [3 favorites]


P.S. If any of you know affected MeFites who don't check their MeMail, and you have alternative ways to alert them, I'd appreciate that!
posted by oklima297 at 11:51 AM on January 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


On the subject of risk calculations, in 2006 the New York Times quoted a comment I made on Metafilter and they attributed it to my real-life name. This showed up in the printed paper, in an article about plagiarism. They did not contact me in advance. My real-life name did not appear anywhere on Metafilter, so the Times reporter must have figured it out from my e-mail address (which was included in my profile). I found out when I got an e-mail from my sister congratulating me on being quoted in the Times.

I'll admit, that experience has colored my perception of the visibility of comments in Metafilter threads.
posted by alms at 11:52 AM on January 8, 2016 [26 favorites]


I strongly doubt that someone who wouldn't take on skimming a 500 comment thread is any more likely to take on a 37 page document.

Hey, I resemble that remark. Thanks for the PDF version, oklima297. However many pages it might be, starting with a "defining EL" section suggested a minimal amount of intellectual labour would be required to get some idea of what this emotional labour thing is about, and got me reading.
posted by sfenders at 12:26 PM on January 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


Just as a heads-up, I've sent 30 messages to the original posters and have 47 to go, but have to take a break (an hour, I think?) because I've maxed out my MeMail limits. --signed, Not a Spammer ;)
posted by oklima297 at 12:34 PM on January 8, 2016 [3 favorites]


Yep, it's 30 an hour that we throttle to by default. No worries, we're aware of this thread so no alarms will be going off.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:41 PM on January 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


I'm not one of the people concerned about my username being in the PDF. (Which is only because of the comment that's in there. If other comments I made in the thread were in the PDF, I'd worry about there being too much identifiable info.)

Anyway, I appreciate the responsiveness to people's concerns. I don't want to stir the pot any, but I'm just looking through the revised PDF and I've got to say that I think occasionally coming across the word "REDACTED" makes things worse. I think it will only serve to rouse curiosity, and people who really want to know who the REDACTED refers to can easily figure it out by going to the original thread.

Just two cents. I don't want to make things worse, but it stood out at me pretty glaringly.
posted by mudpuppie at 12:59 PM on January 8, 2016 [16 favorites]


I wanted to say that I really appreciate the people who had concerns posting about them and being so clear about them, additional concerns, and options going forward. I know you've gotten pushback here, but I'm really glad you spoke up.
posted by Deoridhe at 1:24 PM on January 8, 2016 [6 favorites]


I think it would be good to make sure you're contacting people who were quoted or mentioned in other people's comments, too.
posted by jaguar at 1:25 PM on January 8, 2016


(Or, at least, who were quoted or mentioned by name.)
posted by jaguar at 1:25 PM on January 8, 2016 [4 favorites]


I missed this until now. I'm actually pretty astounded that this project got to this stage at all. It seems like a cruel kind of irony (the real kind) that a bunch of people writing about how their labor is basically appropriated would then have their writing about that appropriated (with whatever good intentions) and not even be consulted about it. I also think that the responses in this thread to the very very mild and reasoned objections to this project show just how strange is human nature. Basically a thread that everyone is kvelling about because it taught people to be more cognizant about the impact of their actions, especially those cloaked in a "I-don't-care-so-you-shouldn't-either" plausible deniability, has led to this thread where people have been told exactly that (sometimes in pretty nasty ways) about their reactions here.

Frankly, I take the initial supportive reaction here to be of the Rah Rah Metafilter sort. The EL thread was a great thread that would not happen many other places. This pdf highlights (both literally and in its very production) how great the thread was. But I have a hard time thinking that anyone who sat with both things (the EL thread and this bootleg project) and thought about them dispassionately could possibly think this pdf was the way to go. I don't think anyone involved is a horrible person or anything, I just think that this was a horrible idea. I also think that it's almost as far from small f or big F feminism as you can get in this situation.

Ultimately, I think the pdf is kind of a tragedy, and it makes me sad because it shows what fuck all care people put into anything that isn't in their own thoughts or desires.
posted by OmieWise at 1:40 PM on January 8, 2016 [19 favorites]


I just had to come back in and share what an amazing impact this has already had. People I shared it with on Facebook have been telling me about the conversations they've had with loved ones this week. A male coworker told me he called his mom to apologize, and sent it to his dad. A younger female friend told me she sent it to her male partner and they've scheduled time to talk about it. This thread changes lives!
posted by lunasol at 1:51 PM on January 8, 2016 [4 favorites]


Mudpuppie, we've fixed the "redacted" bits -- thanks for pointing it out! Lunasol, I am so glad. OmieWise, I understand where you are coming from. I did not even know MeMail existed when I built the pdf. There was talk on the thread itself about people creating pdfs, and people sharing the thread with loved ones, and loved ones who wanted summaries but no one had time or spoons to make them. So I honestly had no idea this would be a problem. But I understand and I am doing what I can to make reparations. Honestly, I put great care into it, and wished to honor rather than disrespect those who contributed (hence attention to attribution, which ultimately I understand now is not enough).
posted by oklima297 at 1:58 PM on January 8, 2016 [9 favorites]


Of course. I recognize that. This is made weirder by the fact that you weren't, but now are, a Mefite. Welcome! Seriously. But my comment is partly predicated on the fact that there were Mefites involved, and on the response in this thread from people who have been involved in many conversations here, not just these two, who I would have expected to act differently.
posted by OmieWise at 2:12 PM on January 8, 2016 [3 favorites]


Yes, I appreciate there is a broader conversation about privacy and consent here. And it seems like an important conversation, albeit difficult, so I'm grateful for those who've taken the time to express their views and explain where they are coming from.
posted by oklima297 at 2:17 PM on January 8, 2016 [8 favorites]


Actually, I'm thinking more about wider conversations about women's experience, the EL of being a woman on the site, and the respect that ought to be granted to people who should be presumed to beat know about their own experience and how to take care of themselves.

The EL thread was great but it happened because of that larger MeFi history, not as some gift from the Flying Spaghetti Monster, and not as some gift to the world at large.

I'm not trying to harp on this, but my sadness is because it seems like something that only could have really happened because of an incredible amount of painful community work now seems to recapitulate the previous status quo.
posted by OmieWise at 2:25 PM on January 8, 2016 [8 favorites]



I missed this until now. I'm actually pretty astounded that this project got to this stage at all. It seems like a cruel kind of irony (the real kind) that a bunch of people writing about how their labor is basically appropriated would then have their writing about that appropriated (with whatever good intentions) and not even be consulted about it


Seconded.
posted by sweetkid at 2:28 PM on January 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


OmieWise, I think it was intended as an homage than an appropriation. The people who put the PDF together didn't take credit for the words or ideas. That would have been an appropriation. They were intending to amplify and make accessible a force for good that had been generated by that discussion. They made mistakes in the process which they've very graciously acknowledged. But I think you're being uncharitable when you characterize what they did as being at odds with the values expressed in the thread, or saying that what they did goes against f(F)feminist values. They were acting on emotions of support and praise, not theft. Their good intentions are made clear all over again by the their great reaction to this thread.
posted by alms at 2:29 PM on January 8, 2016 [17 favorites]


I also think that it's almost as far from small f or big F feminism as you can get in this situation.

Really dude, you're going to tell a bunch of women they're not feminist enough? You couldn't find a better way to express your reaction than that?
posted by phearlez at 2:37 PM on January 8, 2016 [16 favorites]


Yeah, this is seriously almost best case scenario when it comes to content being re-published without prior consent.

- The person (oklima297) publishing the document is on-board with the concept of the posts
- Value was added via a table of contents and an index, making what was, to some, an insurmountably huge thread into something that could more easily be digested, which in the context of making the concept of EL more visible is critical
- That person, who was not a mefite and had no explicit ties to the community, then joined in order to address concerns, and is going above and beyond what almost anyone else would do in terms of making changes and accepting criticisms

I'm in the ask-before-publishing camp, but in terms of how this could have played out, "tragedy" is not a word I would use.
posted by grumpybear69 at 2:44 PM on January 8, 2016 [53 favorites]


an incredible amount of painful community work now seems to recapitulate the previous status quo.

This was a big over-statement on my part. It's not a recapitulation of the previous status quo by any means.

OmieWise, I think it was intended as an homage than an appropriation.

I understand the intent. I don't know about "they," but your very poor reactions early in the thread are among those that make me feel the way I do. As I said above, oklima297 is in a weird position here, and 90% of my feelings expressed here are not directed toward her.

Really dude, you're going to tell a bunch of women they're not feminist enough? You couldn't find a better way to express your reaction than that?

Do you have something actually constructive to say, because there is no comment to your criticism, dude. I'm happy to make you a list of non-feminist women any time you'd like. The two are entirely separate categories.
posted by OmieWise at 2:50 PM on January 8, 2016 [3 favorites]


Even with all points being valid wrt having should have asked permission first, that the format could have been a lot better, and that Public On Mefi is not the same as Public Across Social Media, this thread makes me frustrated and sad. Like I get it's MeTa but the way some of you talk to each other here is awful. And I say this in total agreement with the privacy concerns, completely. As far as I can tell the whole intent of this project was to non-monetarily advance feminism. That intent was executed clumsily, but "a horrible idea" that is actually anti-feminist? FFS the bell is rung, but as far as I see every good faith effort is being made to right matters as much as possible. There's no need to pour more toxicity into this already difficult thread after that fact, least of all by sneering at the positive response as some kind of Yay Us community wank.

I've tried following along here as best I can but I can't watch people I care about talk to each other like this.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 2:52 PM on January 8, 2016 [55 favorites]


I'm kind of glad I'm only in there once, and not for something particularly identifying or negative. I'm also kind of sad I'm only in there once. Eh.

I'm fine with what's there. Thanks for checking!
posted by limeonaire at 3:18 PM on January 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


I've tried following along here as best I can but I can't watch people I care about talk to each other like this.

If I've learned anything, it's that good faith and good intentions are great, but real-world consequences are much more important. Of course this was made with good intentions. But lots of things are, and a loving misuse of someone's thoughts and personal information is a misuse - with the potential for real harm, if not just a breach of trust - either way.

I'm usually one of the first people to be going on about how shitty users can be to each other here, but what I'm seeing here is not nastiness for the sake of it, but serious, genuine concern about how things were handled. This was executed poorly, and there is a potential for harm in it that is shocking to me. I am honestly very alarmed by the idea that your comments could be publicized, with a link to your user profile, on an outside site with a large readership - and I have much less at stake than the women who participated in that thread. Regardless of the intentions behind it, it's an alarming thought, and we need to take everyone's concerns seriously.
posted by teponaztli at 3:18 PM on January 8, 2016 [9 favorites]


[Couple comments removed, don't have a public argument about a private conversation please. If there's anything either of you is concerned about as a site-related issue, reach us at the contact form, otherwise please just mutually let it drop.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:25 PM on January 8, 2016


I'm going to make one more attempt at explaining myself and then step away. I appear to have angered people much more than I intended to do.

I came to this thread following favorites on a comment of jaguar's that showed up on my sidebar. I like and respect jaguar. I think her comments are smart and add to whatever discussion she is a part of, and because we share a profession (or aspects of one), I have some basis for evaluating many of her points that is not simply whether they make me feel good. All of which is to frame my entry into the thread, which basically predisposed me to think that as executed, this project was not a great idea. I was surprised to see, once I scrolled up, that the general reaction was quite positive and that people were (at least initially) very dismissive of jaguar's concerns.

I understand and support the intent of this project. I still think it was a bad idea, by which I mean that the totality of how this was done overwhelms the good intentions behind it. So what's the idea as executed? Well, it's to take the intimate comments of a bunch of (mostly) women, excerpt them without their permission and without regard for their potential dangerousness to said women, "publish" them in a relatively easily digestible package with directions for basically visiting the women online if one would like, and widely distribute the result. Sure, the intent is to share the inspiring educational content of the comments, but that's not the execution. Now, all of those actions are one thing taken by an enthusiastic person who is not a member of the community, but this project was enabled by people who are very much members of the community. And this is a community where issues of consent (not of the publication sort, but of the "please ask yourself whether you can speak for me" sort), women's lived experience of safety and their ability to self-determination in this regard, and the perils of contributing online as women and as feminists, are all very live. The EL thread wasn't some teleological end to our having to think about those issues, or take them seriously. And, as I said above, it was really only possible because many women, some of them no longer here for reasons very germane to this conversation, have worked hard to make MF what it is today. I'm not trying to be hateful to remind people of that context, or to say that it is really disturbing to me that that context seems to have neither informed this project nor the response to women in this thread who disagree that it was properly executed.

I'm not sneering when I say that community boosting is something that I think contributes to the feeling that the intent is enough in this case to justify how things proceeded. We have had at least a few threads rightfully talking about how great the EL thread is. I’m a community booster myself, so I understand the frisson that comes from having the community boosted. I just don’t think that some of the people who seem to think the intent is enough in this case would feel so strongly if this didn’t effectively boost the community.
posted by OmieWise at 3:35 PM on January 8, 2016 [12 favorites]


PDF Doc is now 65 pages.
posted by DBAPaul at 3:37 PM on January 8, 2016


I feel like people were talking in the EL thread itself about how it would be nice to have a condensed version but how it would take a ton of work. (I even think people were talking about working on this/similar, weren't they?) I think it was reasonable to do this excerpting/condensing project, in a spirit of appreciation and contribution to the work in that thread. I don't see it being done in a spirit of exploitation or devaluation, quite the opposite.

The editors made a judgment call about whether people would want attribution vs anonymity, both of which might reasonably be things people might want, both of which are sometimes denied to women writers at their expense. The call they made turns out not to match everyone's wants/needs, and now that those objections have been raised, again in a totally reasonable way, oklima297 is taking steps to fix it, and is responding conscientiously and appropriately in here.

From my perspective this looks like people who respect each other, trying to act right and work with each other about something they all care about. So basically, I hope people don't get a bad feeling from this thread, because I think we're working through a somewhat thorny thing in a respectful way, and it would be great if we could keep this on a constructive footing.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 4:00 PM on January 8, 2016 [58 favorites]


Sure, the intent is to share the inspiring educational content of the comments, but that's not the execution.

Not to say the execution of this was perfect, but it does succeed in that. If sharing not only the comments, but news of the existence of metafilter and that thread is good, then it accomplished some good.

Isn't the "potential dangerousness" part of it also a consequence of sharing not only the comments, but equally news of the existence of metafilter and that thread, with people who might not otherwise have heard of it? There are already many people talking about it outside the perceived safety of metafilter.com itself. There is a sense of community here, but there is no privacy in mefi comment threads. It's a drawback of the format of the site, and to some extent you appear to be mistaken in putting blame for that on this document. I'm not saying that no harm at all was done, but it makes me wonder how many times the mefi front page itself has linked deep into some comment thread elsewhere on the net that its participants may have thought of as more safely sheltered in obscurity.
posted by sfenders at 4:16 PM on January 8, 2016 [5 favorites]


Very good point, sfenders. I remember back when I first joined up, it was almost a point of pride when traffic to a link on the front page brought the destination site to its knees. The whole point of MetaFilter was to shine a bright light on hidden corners of the web.
posted by Roger Dodger at 4:37 PM on January 8, 2016


Ugh, when I posted my last comment it was pretty much a drive-by and I hadn't really absorbed where the conversation was going. I apologize. My comment was not intended to be a statement on the privacy/credit/permission debate. I am personally glad this document exists because of how it's helped so many of my friends, but I feel awful that some people feel betrayed or less-safe as a result!
posted by lunasol at 5:27 PM on January 8, 2016


... to some extent you appear to be mistaken in putting blame for that on this document.

I do feel the fault lies entirely with the document. I think when people posted their comments in the original thread they were well aware there is no privacy on a public discussion board. They made their own judgement of the risk involved in posting personal stories and how widely that thread might be linked to elsewhere - and it was, even before it closed at the end of the month.

Had any of those posters become concerned about their comments after the fact they could have asked the mods to delete them. Once the comments were collated into the document they no longer had this option.
posted by valetta at 6:14 PM on January 8, 2016 [8 favorites]


they also weren't writing a primer on emotional labor, they were sharing experiences. The context is different.
posted by sweetkid at 6:20 PM on January 8, 2016 [21 favorites]


Just want to pipe up again and say I learned a lot from the EL thread, and I'm learning a lot from this one too. Thanks for that.
posted by mudpuppie at 6:40 PM on January 8, 2016


Do you have something actually constructive to say, because there is no comment to your criticism, dude. I'm happy to make you a list of non-feminist women any time you'd like. The two are entirely separate categories.

Well I thought it was fairly obvious, but I guess not, so here's the guidance I would have thought you could take from my criticism: For a man to tell women, the people who have the real skin in the game, that their endeavors trying to uplift other women isn't feminist enough is, in my opinion, gross and makes me think less of that man. The fact that there are non-feminist women is entirely separate. The fact that not all efforts are as good as they should or could be is entirely separate.

You, a man, announcing your judgment on how well they're doing feminism, is the comment. My criticism is that it sucks. My constructive contribution is to say that you could have said everything else in your criticism to women who are actually here without appointing yourself a post-facto judge of being good on feminism.

I hope that was sufficiently clear, and I will pass on the list of non-feminist women lest you feel like you should go ahead and inform them directly once you have it compiled.
posted by phearlez at 6:59 PM on January 8, 2016 [12 favorites]


It sounds as if they had good intentions but got carried away in their excitement, and made a couple of serious mistakes because of it. I'm not down with taking anyone's content and doing what you wish with it, but I have a feeling that they believed they were contributing, not taking away from. It seems like they are now seeing the errors and are open to correcting them. I think that is the best that can happen at this point.


(And I do want to read it, because at the moment I feel as if I am the only woman in the world who doesn't do EL like cooking dinner and cleaning and Xmas cards, so learning the why behind other people doing it is rather important.)
posted by Vaike at 7:00 PM on January 8, 2016 [3 favorites]


I've tried following along here as best I can but I can't watch people I care about talk to each other like this.

I find it helpful to think of them as normal reactions to emotional or psychological trauma. As opposed to people being mean to each other for no reason.

I have a pet theory that most people aren't able to completely understand and empathize with certain types of trauma until they have personally experienced them. So for example, people who have not been through the loss of a parent may be capable of empathizing with someone who has, but because they haven't actually lived through it some understanding will be lacking. Same with say, the death of one's child. Or with abuse, be it sexual assault, domestic / physical violence, etc. Intellectually and emotionally, empathy is possible. But viscerally... probably not.

Because of this, sometimes it's hard to get inside people's heads to predict and recognize how and why they might react a certain way, in specific situations. And it can sometimes be difficult to recognize that outsiders are capable of seeing traumatic things that happen to other people as abstractions, but those who have experienced it directly often don't have that luxury.

So... people make mistakes. It happens. And people who are at the butt end of those mistakes related to various traumas they have experienced then may express anger or fear or shock and all of these are in fact perfectly normal reactions and valid and should not by summarily dismissed.

We then have conversations. Over say, what could have been done better. How things can be made right. About earning good faith and preventing future incidents. Or even over the value of trigger warnings or the definition of rape or what it means to be a victim or a survivor or the value of remaining in control of the narrative of those parts of our lives that turned out to be hellish.

Personally, I'd like to think that the end goal is that we collectively learn from those conversations and increase our empathy for one another. Sometimes. Or maybe that's just the starting point.

But that won't happen unless people express how they feel.
posted by zarq at 7:14 PM on January 8, 2016 [25 favorites]


I've been reading this somewhat uneasily because I feel sort of obliged to have the comments left in, as they are semi-public and yet uncomfortable. I've been debating deleting my metafilter account this month back and forth for a number of reasons and this thread has been hitting a bunch of issues around that. Last night, I promised to buy a friend a metafilter account for her birthday present because it is such a great site, and yet - it leaves me raw sometimes. I would erase so much of what I've written.

The compilers have reached out to ask about reworking the PDF, and I think there is a difference between having a direct link with a handle to your comment and having the text with an initial next to it. Sure I can track someone down by reverse googling the text and looking for it on metafilter but at that point, I'm searching actively for someone's comments in a conversation, vs a compilation of named quotes about deeply personal experiences. It's an illusory etiquette, but so much of etiquette is about a shared illusion - what makes an occasion isn't the actual things, but the agreed rituals. You can have a dinner party with takeaway fast food if you all dress up and light the candles and sit at a table with best manners. A book to be shared for distribution with attributed quotes is different from an archived thread at a membership-website.

The other thing I wrote to the compilers was: "Thanks, for compiling this, for being open to fixing it and listening to the problems and working with people to come up with a solution. That's a very very big and important second act and I really appreciate and am glad that you're doing that."

They are doing the harder second thing after the mistake. This is the bit that is not as much fun and gets less attention and less help than the finding out of the mistake - it's tough, and it's a tangle. And they're showing up to do it, so I'm glad.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 8:33 PM on January 8, 2016 [18 favorites]


It's not minutiae. If someone's safety is at risk because of the comments appearing in the PDF, then their safety is also at risk because of the comments appearing on Metafilter. Some people insist on forgetting that Metafilter is a public forum, and it is not safe for people to do that.

Look, it's not safe for women to be women on the internet. Pretty much at all, at any time. I know things go viral, sometimes in terrifying ways (see: Justine Sacco). I know unpredictable things can happen on the internet; I just wish that we could have a conversation about how, as a community, we don't really condone or endorse or get super excited about that when permission/appropriate handling of other people's musings is not discussed first?

Metafilter is a community. I am WELL AWARE that my comments can be used however anybody wants to and I'm not looking for legal redress or even shaming. In fact, I'm fine with my comments being in the document. But maybe men are really not understanding how scary it is to be a woman on the internet whatsoever, and that not being on the internet is really a fringe option these days?

I mean, there was a thread once upon a time discussing off-site (negative) discussions of certain users. A lot of users here reacted with disgust and yelling about how those people were three year olds with no sense of privacy, community, or respect. So I don't see how we can have a soft community "standard" like that (don't discuss male users off-site, because it makes them angry/hurts their feelings), but we can't have a soft community standard along the lines of don't take reams of women's comments wholesale for granted, because we are sensitive to emotional labor here and it exposes women on the internet in ways they don't really need hanging over their head.

Lectures about how we're asking for it by existing on the internet in the first place aren't very interesting to me. Being on the internet, and being a woman on the internet, are calculated risks. We all hope we don't end up as the next Anita Sarkeesian or Zoe Quinn, but there are gradations in between, and asking the community to respect or be sensitive to them is reasonable. And fine. And objecting when your content is reused in a legal but disrespectful way is fine, too.

If a man takes my picture in public I can give him the finger. And if he's an acquaintance of mine, I can ask him nicely not to. People ask for permission to use photographs of other people all the time, out of decency. Those are reasonable things to do.
posted by easter queen at 9:42 PM on January 8, 2016 [19 favorites]


I do think that reading the document with the usernames left in makes it much more about "that specific set of bitches on the internet" instead of "fuck Metafilter, that place is a misandrist hellhole." It would be a nice touch to delete those at this point.
posted by easter queen at 9:43 PM on January 8, 2016 [6 favorites]


Sorry, last comment: I do think it's a great resource and I'm actually fine with it, and have seen people on Facebook completely flipping their shit about how great it is. So I'm very grateful to all the women who contributed, and I think that the people who compiled it into one document had their hearts in the right place.
posted by easter queen at 9:44 PM on January 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


If a man takes my picture in public I can give him the finger. And if he's an acquaintance of mine, I can ask him nicely not to. People ask for permission to use photographs of other people all the time, out of decency. Those are reasonable things to do.

Yeah, this was sort of my feeling as well. If we're having a meetup in a bar and someone says HEY LET'S ALL TAKE A PHOTO FOR FACEBOOK then I can nope the fuck out right away. If someone in the group takes a candid photo from which I don't manage to escape, I can say "hey please don't tag me with any identifying info, or even blur me out of the photo, if you post that online, thanks" and it shouldn't be a big deal, and shouldn't make the bar hangout less fun for other people somehow, and it shouldn't be taken as a sign that I have now decided I hate bar meetups. And the fact that some rando in the bar can at any time they choose take a photo of me and post it online and label it "metafilter meetup nerd" doesn't somehow make it irrational or silly or dumb or naive for me to want some kind of control over how and where my tagged-as-me photo is used if it's possible.

i'm sure this less than perfect example will be nitpicked to death but whatevs idgaf
posted by poffin boffin at 10:36 PM on January 8, 2016 [19 favorites]


Let me speak here as an activist, and not solely as a member of MetaFilter:
The annotated, condensed, abridged work (and with as many contributors as feel like they can have their comments remain) IS a fantastic resource for folks on other social media. Unlike here where moderation makes it possible to have a reasonable conversation without first providing overwhelming evidence as foundation work, most of social media is pissing against a rainstorm. So many chuckleheads insist on activists doing their own education and grounding work that it's absolutely unreal how much effort is involved to even get to a point where real progress and talk can be made.

This PDF resource could be (in an form, but the longer the better, honestly) a great back-pocket resource to throw up there when folks need to be distracted by, engaged by, or confronted by a huge walloping fish of shocking truth about why feminism.

I know that a lot of folks don't come to MetaFilter for social justice, and activism isn't really encouraged here. I get that. But to the extent that this PDF can be made acceptable for sharing publicly, I am all for it.

I'm not saying we shouldn't also be talking about permission and publishing-related personal risk. I'm just saying that this can be a very valuable tool to the extent that we find we can allow it/support it.
posted by kalessin at 10:42 PM on January 8, 2016


>I do think that reading the document with the usernames left in makes it much more about "that specific set of bitches on the internet" instead of "fuck Metafilter, that place is a misandrist hellhole." It would be a nice touch to delete those at this point.

Are you saying that it would be better to fail to credit the authors, who are the copyright holders of their posts, in the document and that the women who contributed to the EL thread shouldn't be credited for their writing and ideas?

>to the extent that this PDF can be made acceptable for sharing publicly, I am all for it.

Hear, hear.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 11:12 PM on January 8, 2016


It's not a for profit document, it's clearly an act of collaboration, not exploitation for commercial gain, and the question is not about credit but about balancing crediting people vs the risk of direct attribution on something volatile. In this case, it's pretty clear the correct thing would have been to give the authors some choice first. And now they are belatedly. Which is zip to do with crediting, and goes right back to choice all over again.

Interesting how there's a big range - some of the contributors are happy to be included completely with links, some want to be excluded entirely, some want to be included with anonymous credits, etc.

The EL thread was and continues to be a collaborative gift and in some ways recognising and acknowledging the amount of work put into it is great, but also giving the actual participants the decision power to decide they want to make a gift of their EL or to respect their decision to nope out of continuing additional EL in participating in this book project - isn't that honouring the spirit of the damn thread?
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 1:36 AM on January 9, 2016 [6 favorites]


Oh, yeah, I completely agree with every bit of that--I took the previous comment as suggesting that the document would be fine if the posters' names were removed, and I don't think that's a suitable solution (except, of course, on a case-by-case basis at the preference of the posters themselves, who, as you rightly say, should get any choice they want, no questions asked).
posted by Joseph Gurl at 1:49 AM on January 9, 2016


I'd be fine with not being credited, personally. In this case, I like the higher level* of privacy more than anything I could possibly gain from attribution.
posted by Too-Ticky at 2:14 AM on January 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


* (I know it's still easily tracked back to here and privacy online is an illusion and all that.)
posted by Too-Ticky at 2:43 AM on January 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


When I was writing in the EL thread, I was doing it within what I perceived to be the relatively closed confines of Metafilter, a community that I have felt safe in for many years.

In any case, a friend saw the doc where I'm quoted 6 times and outed me on Facebook, because she recognized a story I had told her.

I've changed my user name and asked to have my previous user name taken off the doc.

While I knew I was posting on the Internet, I wish I had been asked before that thread was compiled and spread more widely. I appreciate that it's being done now, but I don't feel good about the process.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 3:35 AM on January 9, 2016 [27 favorites]


... wow. That's a sucky thing for a 'friend' to do.
posted by Too-Ticky at 3:45 AM on January 9, 2016 [13 favorites]


Over Thanksgiving I had a long conversation with my sister about emotional labor and the thread -- I'd earlier had a conversation about it with my mom. I guess this goes without saying, but it was striking to me how both these women immediately intuited the significance of the idea and discussion. Both said they'd never really thought about all this before; both expressed interest in reading the thread. My sister made a point of reminding me twice to send her a link to the thread before she and her family traveled back home.

So I'd been thinking about the thread as a resource and just last week I was thinking about condensing it in some way and converting it into an ebook format. But then I saw this thread.

Once it's put into a form that conforms to all the writers' concerns and restrictions, is there any interest in it being converted to epub and aw3? Because I can certainly do that -- not just a dumb conversion, but I have a lot of experience editing epubs. Not professionally, but because I'm weird and have no life. I've probably spent a couple hundred hours editing ebooks, mostly tweaking the CSS but in other ways, as well.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 5:58 AM on January 9, 2016


I wrote one comment and it didn't make it to the pdf. If it had I would have been chuffed because it was about my experience as someone who hasn't felt the push to do this stuff that's apparently part of being a woman, so having my eyes opened really was important to me. I read the whole thread and it's had quite an impact on how I feel about everything I do, as a mother and a woman and about all the other women in my life who do the things that they are expected to do by society.

It's important, this thread.

At the same time, it's also so important to take into account the fact that the women who have opened their hearts in this thread may not necessarily want their stories connected with their online personas because there are so many arseholes in the world who would use their words against them.

It makes sense to me to want to share these stories to the world and it also makes sense that people want to be protected from all the horrible bullshit that comes from being honest about crap that happens when it's revealed to the world.

I'm so glad that people are taking into account the feelings of people who have recounted their experiences and how they want those feelings represented. If it didn't happen immediately I feel it's because their are so many people who haven't thought about the repercussions of honesty. I'm one of them. Now I know. I think I'm not the only one.
posted by h00py at 6:07 AM on January 9, 2016 [6 favorites]


I'm deeply impressed and admiring of oklima297's response -- it's so terribly easy when you have good intentions to become angry and defensive when someone points out hurtful consequences of something you intended to be beneficial and did with a good heart. It's extremely hard to not react that way and one of the lessons of the thread is how to humbly take a step back and re-evaluate when in this situation. I think oklima297 and the other people who have been working on the document have responded to this extremely well.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 6:37 AM on January 9, 2016 [48 favorites]


My name is Sheydem-tants and I approve of oklima297's PDF (as I already told them). Really nice job on the topical structure, especially.
posted by Sheydem-tants at 7:35 AM on January 9, 2016


I wonder if it would be possible, in the spirit of allyship and sharing the risk (not of trying to take belated credit for the work to put those narratives and experiences to words), for those of us not involved in the original discussion to list ourselves as "signatories" or interested parties or something like that to help draw fire from MRA idiots and the like. I would be happy to stand with those who remain credited in the document and I'd consider it the least I could do since the PDF helps me personally so much in activist spaces.

I'm happy to help also in any other way that might be useful and I intend this comment as a declaration of that, again not to try to steal thunder or take undeserved credit. If my idea is crap then it can go in the sewer and I'm okay with that too.
posted by kalessin at 7:39 AM on January 9, 2016 [8 favorites]


If it didn't happen immediately I feel it's because their are so many people who haven't thought about the repercussions of honesty. I'm one of them. Now I know. I think I'm not the only one.

You're not. I'm still pretty excited about the idea but many of the comments here put some new wheels on that wagon.
posted by barchan at 8:21 AM on January 9, 2016 [2 favorites]


I'm deeply impressed and admiring of oklima297's response -- it's so terribly easy when you have good intentions to become angry and defensive when someone points out hurtful consequences of something you intended to be beneficial and did with a good heart.

I appreciate that oklima is working to make corrections, but I have to say I'm not actually impressed by anyone's response on this. The document stayed public while people were objecting (and, as far as I understand, stayed public while the permission for many of the people quoted was/is still lacking), no one from Crone Island or on behalf of Crone Island has apologized, and no one involved has made any acknowledgment of how the document exploited the emotional labor of other women.

I realize everyone wants to move back into the "Yay, us" portion of the thread, but those things are still major sticking points for me and have made me more annoyed as this process has gone on, not less.
posted by jaguar at 8:39 AM on January 9, 2016 [12 favorites]


I see this dynamic as fueled by activist versus non-activist ethics. I'm not saying either side is right, but activists often place needfulness of information/publication as well as personal time and organizational resource limitations over and above the concerns of individuals. MetaFilter as a community and most MetaFilter members I know are far less self-expression- and privacy-sacrificing and generally socially risk-taking than activists I know (as individuals and in groups).

It's personally taken me a lot of time and energy and work to try to reconcile these two very different sets of expectations and ethics, and I'm not surprised that a new group that is a spinoff from MetaFilter's feminist-friendly discussions on the EL thread but also a bit more activisty and self-directed, would make moves that seem like missteps from the MetaFilter perspective.

Again, not saying either side is right, but observing the dynamic as it unfolds.
posted by kalessin at 9:44 AM on January 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


The feminist activists with whom I've worked and continue to work on domestic violence and sexual assault issues are extremely sensitive to privacy concerns, especially in sacrificing other people's privacy. I don't think that's a fair characterization, and I don't appreciate being described as not a real activist because I prefer it if my ex doesn't kill me.
posted by jaguar at 9:49 AM on January 9, 2016 [25 favorites]


no one from Crone Island or on behalf of Crone Island has apologized

FYI this wasn't a Crone Island project.

I don't have time to read every channel but from having an eyeball on the admin channel I had no idea this was an actual thing that was being done until the PDF came out. The person hosting the document was not and is not a member or known to anybody but oklima297 (which as far as I can tell is why the document stayed public while people are objecting).

There are CI members who apparently helped with the document (and I think there were people unrelated to all of it who got involved from other vectors), many of whom were in the original thread and so are presumably MetaFilter members, but this is also not a MetaFilter project.

I don't know the IDs of anyone involved in the project except oklima297, who has apologized repeatedly, and it sounds like Deoridhe worked on it based on her comment early in this thread. If other contributors to the document want to say something about their involvement or not, that's going to have to be up to them as individuals.

Now, in the admin channel at CI, a number of us have been trying to figure out how to help since this thread started, and it looks like oklima279 has been using the site as one route (besides memail and profiles, I'm guessing) to track down requests for changes or to get explicit permission to leave comments, but that's in cases where you can tell by user name that someone there was involved in the original thread. That's happening because there are helpful people there, and there is concern about having this project pinned on us when we don't actually have any control over any of it, but mostly we are in a position to be a little bit helpful so we are trying to do that.

There are 274 members of Crone Island and 66 channels, with a couple dozen admins of varying involvement, and I'll bet a good chunk of the membership at this point doesn't even know about the PDF or this thread. The conversation there has continued to split out into deeper dives into the facets of the original conversation, and knitting and pets and food and stuff. It's a chat server.

oklima297 was the person who organized this, and they have apologized. If you are not impressed with their response because you think someone else is supposed to be apologizing, that's really unfair to them and to the people you're blaming who are not responsible.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:50 AM on January 9, 2016 [24 favorites]


jaguar, I apologize for any offense I caused. FWIW, I didn't intend any, but I understand how my words can be mistaken as unhelpful. It feels like there's nothing more I can say to try to clarify or amend, so I'll just take my licks and apologize, again.
posted by kalessin at 9:52 AM on January 9, 2016 [5 favorites]


If y'all want to disavow the project, that's fine, but this was a very early comment in this thread:
We have Crone Island to thank for this - it was organized, proofread, etc.. through there and everyone involved deserves major kudos and pitchers of margaritas!
posted by Deoridhe at 8:16 PM on January 6 [27 favorites +] [!]
And no one contradicted that impression for a very, very long time. I understand from your comment and from Athanassiel's comment above that there may have been less overall involvement of Crone Island than was presented, but many many comments here have been very complimentary of Crone Island's involvement in this project, and there's been very little public statement contradicting that.
posted by jaguar at 9:55 AM on January 9, 2016


kalessin, it's fine. I think it's just generally unhelpful to think of "activists" as all one thing or another. Thanks.
posted by jaguar at 9:56 AM on January 9, 2016


I'll try to qualify my generalizations more going forward.
posted by kalessin at 9:57 AM on January 9, 2016


Hi folks - yes, I think there is confusion here about what the Crone Island group is. It's a chat group with many members and many channels, similar to MetaFilter. So there is no unified voice or action that emerges from such a group. Just as is so clearly the case here on MeFi, there is a diversity of opinions. And there are many, many people who aren't even aware/involved in this issue in any way! (just over there enjoying the original, respite intent of the Island)

*After* I created and shared the pdf, individual members of Crone Island helped me deal with some technical issues and editing. I'm grateful for their assistance. That does not make "Crone Island" a monolith that is responsible. It's my name on the document and I take full responsibility, and that's why I'm the one here apologizing.
posted by oklima297 at 9:59 AM on January 9, 2016 [14 favorites]


I mean, for heaven's sake, I've been apologizing to people who have reached out to me and talked about how this has negatively affected them, and I obviously had nothing to do with this project, but "I'm so sorry this triggered you and you're having to deal with that" is still the appropriate thing to say, because I am sorry that this triggered them and they're having to deal with it. I understand that "reflexive sorrys" are one of the emotional-labor things under scrutiny in the EL discussion, but I would hope that anyone with any connection at all -- even if that connection was exaggerated by someone else -- to triggering others' PTSD could acknowledge that doing so was a bad thing, even if they weren't the number-one force creating that situation.
posted by jaguar at 10:09 AM on January 9, 2016 [5 favorites]


oklima297, I do very much appreciate your continued apologies. I would like it even more if you could work with whoever's hosting the document to take it down until all the permissions are figured out.
posted by jaguar at 10:10 AM on January 9, 2016 [4 favorites]


There's no spokesperson, and I suspect nobody wanted to be the asshole coming in here saying "these other people are lying! we disavow all knowledge!" I've spent the past day and change, outside my day job, trying to make sure I could in good faith say it didn't happen as some sort of specific function of that particular Slack site. I mean, maybe they had a private channel with a secret name that doesn't mean anything and nobody noticed.

We've kind of been leaving it to oklima to handle the clarifications because they are the person who actually ran this project.

I was super uncomfortable with the people saying it was a Crone Island thing, implying it was something sourced out of croneisland.slack.com rather than the free-floating idea of Crone Island invented in the original thread. I'm sorry nobody wanted to be the asshole and that now means we have to take the blame, but we never had elections for that. Pretty much everyone there is just hanging out talking and it never came up.

As I said, the admins who know about all this been working in the background trying to help with the removals and changes and communication. But what I'd like to not see happen is a bunch of people who have no idea this is even going on get painted with the Bad Person brush because of the insistence that they participated in something they didn't.

But none of us can apologize for the document existing or how it was handled, which is what you were asking for before you changed that to being sorry that people are upset which, I can assure you, we are and continue to be as we try to help out people who need to talk to the organizer of the document.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:15 AM on January 9, 2016 [8 favorites]


Every request for an edit or deletion has already been honored. (90% of respondents have chosen to keep their comments in.) There are a few folks I have not yet been able to get a response from, and I will delete those comments if I can't reach them, but I am giving them time to respond: it's been less than 24 hours.
posted by oklima297 at 10:21 AM on January 9, 2016 [5 favorites]


but I am giving them time to respond: it's been less than 24 hours.

You can give them time to respond with the document down, too. I don't understand the reluctance to protect people's privacy until you get an ok.

Lyn Never, fine, I'm dropping this.
posted by jaguar at 12:40 PM on January 9, 2016 [4 favorites]


jaguar, may I quote this comment by phearlez: In my experience, disappearing something people want to see/which has been publicized is a recipe for folks digging up and sharing their saved or cached copies.

I think that's true. I don't like it, especially not in cases like this, but I still believe it.
posted by Too-Ticky at 1:16 PM on January 9, 2016 [7 favorites]


> Every request for an edit or deletion has already been honored. (90% of respondents have chosen to keep their comments in.) There are a few folks I have not yet been able to get a response from, and I will delete those comments if I can't reach them, but I am giving them time to respond: it's been less than 24 hours.

We already have a Metafilter-related resource that allows us to feature and organize Metafilter content, and it provides members with an ability to control the republishing of their work. It's the MeFi Wiki, and I wish the EL thread was organized there, because there wouldn't be the current need for a single gatekeeper to control the publication, and commenters could have more autonomy to make their own decisions about what is republished or not.

I have spent a fair amount of time working on the MeFi Wiki, and I highlight specific comments and threads, because that's what I understand the purpose of the wiki to be. Before I started the Homeless Survival Guide page, I did contact a member to get their perspective on using their content, because it was going to be more substantial than how I had previously been working on the Get a lawyer page. However, I usually don't contact members in advance of linking to threads and comments, or adding an attribution when it looks like a comment has been copied into the wiki without acknowledging the original author.

This discussion is getting me to rethink my contributions, and whether my perceptions of the wiki editing norms are a product of my own confirmation bias related to the amazing things that get written here. One option is to use MetaTalk more for construction projects like this, and also use a platform where members have more immediate control over their own work. I am deeply appreciative of the perspectives offered by jaguar and Miko on this, and I'm trying to reconcile these positions in my own thinking about how to continue contributing to the MeFi Wiki.

So, welcome to Metafilter, oklima. Based on my own fiery landing, I encourage you to continue exploring the site and the related resources.
posted by Little Dawn at 1:59 PM on January 9, 2016 [7 favorites]


jaguar, may I quote this comment by phearlez: In my experience, disappearing something people want to see/which has been publicized is a recipe for folks digging up and sharing their saved or cached copies.

I think that's true. I don't like it, especially not in cases like this, but I still believe it.


There's a middle ground of simply deleting/redacting the comments that are not yet cleared; I think it's the total disappearance that's likely to set off the cache hunt.

That's not a vote on what I think is the way to go; it's not up to me and I see no personal value in getting involved in that discussion.
posted by phearlez at 2:12 PM on January 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


I don't know the IDs of anyone involved in the project except oklima297, who has apologized repeatedly, and it sounds like Deoridhe worked on it based on her comment early in this thread.

To clarify, I saw it discussed early on but didn't have the spoons to get involved in the editing process, and dropped out of a lot of online places shortly thereafter because life got busy and stressful. I apologize for my part in not bringing up privacy concerns; I should have thought more about it and said something and I didn't.
posted by Deoridhe at 2:21 PM on January 9, 2016 [3 favorites]


There's a middle ground of simply deleting/redacting the comments that are not yet cleared

Oh, you're right, good point. I didn't think of that option.
posted by Too-Ticky at 2:22 PM on January 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


I also want to apologize to CI for speaking up and making it sound like a CI thing.
posted by Deoridhe at 2:23 PM on January 9, 2016 [2 favorites]


There seems to be a fork on github (no, I'm not linking) that is maintained, but slightly differently.
posted by scruss at 2:48 PM on January 9, 2016


I think the github style of revision-making is probably much harder from a technical standpoint than Wiki-based collaboration is unless a person is already familiar with pushing changes through github.

For those not familiar, you have to fork (or make a copy of) the original version, make local changes using whatever tool (the one I found uses LibreOffice), and then submit a pull request, which tells the owner of the original source to review your changes and decide whether to merge them into the original version. So to update via Git/GitHub you need a copy of git installed to your computer, a GitHub account, and enough technical wherewithal (with git and LibreOffice) to do those operations properly.

It's definitely possible, not way more complicated than using a Wiki to do similar work.
posted by kalessin at 2:57 PM on January 9, 2016 [3 favorites]


Er, the last line should read "It's definitely possible, BUT way more complicated..."
posted by kalessin at 3:03 PM on January 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


The pdf and mobi versions available from the github have also been updated. That's part of what other CI folks have been working on. I'm not one of them and don't understand too much about how it does work but no need for panic. I'll leave further clarifications to oklima297.
posted by Athanassiel at 4:30 PM on January 9, 2016


One problem with git for this application is that it retains the change history (as does a wiki) so for the purpose of full-on removing information from a document, git/wiki is not actually an awesome plan. A PDF that can be edited only by the owner is probably somewhat ideal from a "making info vanish" perspective.
posted by Alterscape at 4:43 PM on January 9, 2016 [3 favorites]


The difference may be more related to what zarq talks about above, that the comment is either showcased or not. After being deleted from a wiki, it goes back to the relative obscurity of not having attention called to it. I'm also not sure that "making info vanish" is the goal when the comment still exists on the original thread. It seems more about controlling the volume, and who can access the dial.
posted by Little Dawn at 6:56 PM on January 9, 2016 [2 favorites]


This thread has evolved so much since I started reading it that what I am about to say is almost a derail, BUT...

I have been off Mefi for about a year while my wife has continued to keep up with Mefi (mostly ask). She mentioned to me a couple of months back that I should check out the EL stuff and I meant to but never got around to. This thread popped up on the Best Of Mefi FB page and reminded me I wanted to read up on EL, and I devoured the 72 page doc. I'm now wading through the thread...

I hear everyone's concerns, and I don't want to diminish those, but I would like to thank all those involved in the thread, the document, this thread and Jaguar for everything they have said.

Even though I see myself as one of use good guys and a supporter of feminism all of this was a major eye-opener for me. There were many stories in which I could easily draw parallels with my own behaviours (or those of my wife), and it was convicting and convincing enough to motivate me to make some serious changes.

A particular benefit has been that it has finally shone a light on the arguments we have had where I have previously believed that my wife was over-reacting or I only half believed the apologies I was offering. For the first time I have seen the ways in which I was far more culpable for my wife's (and also my own) unhappiness. We have a mostly great marriage, don't get me wrong, but this area is, I now suspect, the one thing that has been a threat to us.

So thanks again to all. I will continue to share this resource with other guys, especially those getting married or committing to long term relationships.
posted by man down under at 12:02 AM on January 10, 2016 [14 favorites]


there is a HUGE difference in exposure levels between the original thread and the pdf.

Just as a note, on Google the difference is 300 hits in favor of the actual thread vs. the PDF. I agree there may be a big difference in potential exposure, but to this point it has not been realized.

I have a pet theory that most people aren't able to completely understand and empathize with certain types of trauma until they have personally experienced them.

Hm, I am somewhat uncomfortable with the pop-psychological framing of this, even as I understand that you may believe this to be personally true. For one thing, it might encourage you to believe people who take a different point of view do so simply because they have not (yet) had your experience, when in fact they may have had the same experience and simply be processing it in a different way. That can end up functioning as a way of delegitimizing a view ("you don't know what it's like!") without taking into account the probability that individual reactions to an experience will be varied. It's possible to both have empathy based on similar experiences and to espouse a different interpretation or make a different recommendation based on that experience. When I consider personally whether my positions on public speech (especially for women) are driven by a lack of empathy, I don't find it to be personally true. I always deplore being asked to produce personal bona fides for identity-related issues (see: hierarchy of oppression), but it's enough to say that I am a woman in the world with experiences of vulnerability and exposure, have been stalked, and have endured various forms of sexism, abuse, exploitation and dismissal, so I have empathy with many of the experiences that drive points of view that differ from mine, and am not coming from a place of non-empathy. I have also had my identity outed on MetaFilter at least twice, once when I was quoted under my real name in a national news outlet and someone here linked it to my username without asking, and once when I agreed to talk to a national news outlet under my real name about something that happened here under my username and it circled back here. It would be charitable to assume that I and others who take a differing view do have empathy with people who see themselves as walking the line between the desire to communicate and contribute, and the need to protect themselves from harm.

Secondly, as you know it's something of a patriarchal trope to have a reasoned position reduced to a purely emotional reaction (as in a trauma-driven reaction). While emotional processes are always involved in what we think of as intellect, I've thought through these issues a lot and have been engaged in a long process of reasoning about them that continues to develop. Working in journalism and growing up in a family in which many people worked in media have provided a foundation for regular review and debate, which have also contributed to my perspectives and perhaps additionally complexified the way I weigh issues or private and public speech and reproduction of content. Other incidents contributing to my perspective came when I was MetaChat admin and also when Taz was before me; there were a handful of incidents in which mild trouble arose because someone was drawn to the site via a Google search on something they cared about, or used the site as a venue to stalk/harass someone That led to a "Be Safe" section in the user guidelines and now and then reminders about the accessibility of user-generated content, some of it fairly intimate. So I would say that my position is a reasoned one that comes from direct familiarity with the real-world repercussions of public speech, wherever it happens and wherever it may go, as well as an understanding of the risks of being female in the world. I agree with Easter Queen that any participation in the public sphere, online or off, is for women particularly a "calculated risk," but public speech poses some level of risk for everyone.

When I have spoken up here about this issue, I have done so because it is my observation that, due to the unpredictability of human interchange and the ease with which we can all communicate, it is not always easy to arrive at an accurate risk assessment for public speech, and I find that unrealistic assessments are not uncommon, here or elsewhere, and to me that can contribute to personally dangerous conditions. I understand that many people have excellent reason to be concerned about the repercussions of their speech as it encounters different audiences, and think it is very important that we give that due consideration as a website that invites and encourages public speech. For someone to feel, as a poster above said, that they were speaking in "what I perceived to be the relatively closed confines of Metafilter" or that "so many people...haven't thought about the repercussions of honesty. I'm one of them" is a serious problem to me, because there is a disconnect between user feeling and awareness and the reality of the accessibility of the content.

This is a side issue to the one about permission and negotiation within the community, which is fine. I may have caused a lot of bad feeling here by bringing up the larger context, but the fact that the compiler could very easily have been a non-member will, I hope, function as a reminder of the constant potential for material here to be picked up and more widely disseminated, with and without permission being requested or granted. I apologize for angering anyone by being dismissive of the exchange of permission, which has its rightful place within the community and is in accordance with our internal guidelines and certainly does foster a greater sense of interpersonal trust among members, but I do hope the wider awareness is not lost.
posted by Miko at 7:37 AM on January 10, 2016 [13 favorites]


My mistake on the Google results. I just rechecked and got 2,310 results for the main thread, 527 for the PDF.
posted by Miko at 7:42 AM on January 10, 2016 [5 favorites]


I'll refer back to zarq's comment upthread:
For the heck of it, I printed the original thread to pdf.

It came to 983 pages.

The doc is 72 pages. All the low-content stuff is removed, including the back and forth conversations. It's also indexed.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:50 AM on January 10, 2016 [2 favorites]


Yes, it's rendered in a much more accessible and digestible form, but so far has not traveled as widely as the thread. It's more likely to have a longer life than the thread, too.
posted by Miko at 7:55 AM on January 10, 2016


Yeah, I took the point about exposure to be not about how much it will be passed around, but about the prominence of any given comment. The comments in the condensed version are there specifically to have more attention drawn to them because they're the best or most representative or etc. Throwing a spotlight on the good comments is the point. So if someone is uncomfortable with the extra spotlight, well, it's understandable why they'd be more uncomfortable with being highlighted in the condensed version.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 7:55 AM on January 10, 2016 [6 favorites]


Yeah, exactly. In the original post, any given comment is a single piece out of 983 pages; in the PDF, any given comment is a single piece out of 72 pages.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:02 AM on January 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


Yep, I totally don't dispute the point, but condensation and highlighting are among the things that can happen.
posted by Miko at 8:02 AM on January 10, 2016


Sure, I just think the relative google hits is kind of missing the point of what people were bothered by.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 8:06 AM on January 10, 2016 [8 favorites]


Sure, I just think the relative google hits is kind of missing the point of what people were bothered by.

I don't think I'm missing that point. I'm responding to the narrow point about "huge difference in exposure levels between thread and PDF." Not yet. And to the idea that yes, having a comment out there in public means that one possible future for it is that it may be highlighted through a condensing/indexing exercise, or pulled out of context.

It was also on the Out of the Blue podcast.
posted by Miko at 8:10 AM on January 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


I'm saying the relevant meaning of "exposure level" there isn't number of shares or number of hits. It's the highlighting effect of being included in a shorter document.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 8:12 AM on January 10, 2016 [11 favorites]


Right, I don't dispute your understanding of "exposure level." However, I don't think that changes anything about the wider context, in which having any one comment reach a wider "exposure level" through an external sharing process is beyond MetaFilter's control. It's fine to be uncomfortable and to object when an another user does this and that's an appropriate time to invoke the site standards and undertake the negotiations we see here, but it doesn't change the reality that an entity with no membership in the site can do the same. If a large number of users are unaware of that possibility or uncomfortable with that degree of powerlessness, it makes for a serious personal and site problem.
posted by Miko at 8:16 AM on January 10, 2016


Miko I feel like you're having a bit of a "well, Actually..." moment here. You're uh something-splaining
posted by sweetkid at 8:18 AM on January 10, 2016 [20 favorites]


Sure, maybe it feels that way to you if you already get it, but there still seems to be a lot of confusion and/or naivete and I don't see the larger concern really getting grokked widely.

In the end, it's probably time for me to sign off and let it all go. It's not my problem, it's a problem for the mods and for people uncomfortable with the public nature of their comments, and I will probably need to end up dropping this issue and let whatever happens, happen - even though it seems that as time moves forward it moves toward the unpleasant inevitability of one or more people having a really public or really personal issue that the site's staff or community can't help them with.
posted by Miko at 8:24 AM on January 10, 2016 [2 favorites]


It also feels like you're saying folks shouldn't be upset at their comments being reset in a new & potentially more-visible context specifically because there always existed the potential for that to occur.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:35 AM on January 10, 2016 [8 favorites]


I can't really say whether they should be upset or not. I'm saying they shouldn't be surprised; it's something they should be keenly aware of so they can make informed decisions. That potential is not going to go away as long as the site remains public.
posted by Miko at 8:38 AM on January 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


I think that people are getting it, they just don't agree with you that they need it to be explained to them. So you're not seeing people saying things like yes, I get that now, thank you. You're seeing people being somewhat annoyed as though they are being talked down to.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 8:39 AM on January 10, 2016 [29 favorites]


There is always the potential when I walk to the store at night that I could get mugged, and I am already aware of that, and I would hope that if it were ever to happen that no one would come around to lecture me on how I should not be surprised, because the outdoors is public.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:43 AM on January 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


Hard to get that in the absence of evidence, but if you're right - great, that's a good outcome. Good luck all and, as they say, stay safe out there.
posted by Miko at 8:43 AM on January 10, 2016


I should not be surprised, because the outdoors is public.

Bad analogy - that's a crime.
posted by Miko at 8:44 AM on January 10, 2016


I feel like an accurate analogy would be taking one's photograph in public, without asking permission, but I realize that that issue is also highly controversial so making analogies is not really positive for me here, since it just further complicates things.

In other sites and contexts I've participated in where this kind of thing came up, one good solution that worked for many members was to come up with and articulate a policy about it. Folks realized that policies were not often enforceable, but in the realm of setting expectations, the policy did a set of good things: It gave folks who read policies (which I realize is nowhere near 100%) a reminder of the risk. It gave the community a read on mod opinion/position, and it occasionally prompted outsiders to ask for permission before doing a thing.

Has there been any thought/movement on this possibility in team mod?
posted by kalessin at 8:53 AM on January 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


Miko, The evidence for people getting it it is that it's not actually a difficult concept at all. People understand that we are not perfect arbiters of risk. We still wish to feel personally in control of our own risk exposure, even when that means taking a precaution that is completely illogical and has nothing to do with reality. For example, I lock my door. I live in a building with quite a lot of security. There is zero reason why anyone would ever pick my apartment, in all of the literally thousand apartments in my building, to try to come into. However, I still lock my door. It's not necessarily logical. It's not necessarily rational. There might not be any point at all. But that doesn't mean that I would enjoy it if someone were to unilaterally decide to take the lock off of my door. The chances of it making any kind of difference to my personal safety would be extremely low. In fact, someone could very easily pick my lock right now. Several people in my building have keys. It provides really, an illusion of safety, and a minor one at that. But still. I have a lock on my door. I lock it. That is OK with me. It should be OK with you, too. If someone were to take the lock off of my door, I would be upset. I would hope that you would support that, instead of lecturing me about the lack of protection that my lock provides in real life. And that is why people are not feeling like you are saying anything really particularly informative. You are focusing on the highly specific risk assessments people are making, and how accurate those might be, when what people are saying is that they want to be in control of their own risk assessment, despite the fact that they may not be perfectly logical risk assessing machines.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 9:01 AM on January 10, 2016 [13 favorites]


We already have reminders in a number of places (AskMe posting form, FAQ, account name choosing page) that people should be aware they're posting on the public internet and their comments will remain visible over time.

Beyond that, we don't have a policy about how third parties need to act when using Mefi content, basically because the ways it can be used are many and hard to anticipate and we can't actually control much of what third parties do. (There have been some sites that wholesale scraped huge chunks of the site, and even then it can be difficult to track them down and force them to stop.) So we basically rely on people to be reasonable and courteous, as oklima297 has been here.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 9:27 AM on January 10, 2016 [6 favorites]


Examples of the reminders we already have:

"Your question will be linked to your username and permanently visible to the entire internet. Think ahead."

"Your posts, questions, and comments here are visible to the whole internet, and they will remain associated with your username permanently. "
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 9:30 AM on January 10, 2016 [5 favorites]


And on the account name choosy page:
"Pick a username carefully and wisely. You cannot change it in the future. Be aware the things you say and do on MetaFilter will be public. Things you say will be available via google searches."
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 9:32 AM on January 10, 2016 [4 favorites]


I get that, and I get that policies can be limiting from the mod POV. Over the years I've consistently called for policies well early of when they get implemented and I get that I'm not a mod. But things happen and sometimes policies are the best answer of a range of shitty answers. Still I also understand that team mod and the site as a community will get to things when they will get to them.
posted by kalessin at 9:32 AM on January 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


The evidence for people getting it it is that it's not actually a difficult concept at all.

The individual decision piece is not, sure; everyone's got the right to make great or terrible risk assessments. But it is clear just from the comments since my last long one that at least some people are still not all that informed about issues surrounding public speech (or image), permission, consent, etc. And many of those are issues that no site policy can adjudicate. But you're right, people are certainly free to make their own decisions and deal with whatever may be the consequences, which is I guess what folks are arguing for.

In the end, nobody cares to hear me prattle on about it, especially me. I continue to be surprised the general literacy on this issue here is so low, and I can appreciate that my continued focus on it looks something like concern trolling, even though it is quite a sincere concern. Since it does seem to rapidly get ugly (and that really negatively colors my own feelings about this site), for my own serenity and everyone else's I am retiring from the discussion. If anyone cares to talk about it over MeMail, I can share more, point to some online resources on the topic, or field further challenges to my point of view.
posted by Miko at 10:22 AM on January 10, 2016 [4 favorites]


I just think that, as a matter of decency and sensitivity to community members' needs - NOT as a matter of official site policy adjudication, or IP law, or anything strictly rules-based - the instant even a single woman here says "I feel deeply uncomfortable about this as a survivor of domestic abuse" - as jaguar has said many times over in this thread - we ought to listen and do what we can. How anyone can read this:
My first thought on seeing this document was, "Is this going to be what prompts my ex to come shoot me?"
...and, rather than say "I'd like to help you worry less about that", instead tediously explain how speech works on the internet, over and over, is... I don't even know. It makes me feel like there's something deeply wrong. (And I say that as an IP lawyer who doesn't need anything explained to me.)
posted by naju at 10:47 AM on January 10, 2016 [34 favorites]


Look, my identity and my comments here* are possibly one of the most prominent examples of seemingly metafilter-only things that end up getting disseminated to the wider internet. I have literally been sent letters at my home address from the Associated fucking Press based on my comments here. I have been told that I needed to move. I probably have a file at the state department. My mother, whom I have no contact with, follows me around the site. My full name is associated with this profile in a way that will never be completely scrubbed from the internet, barring some kind of unforeseeable occurrence. I was still surprised that someone made and distributed this PDF document. I don't know why some kind of mythical higher level of internet literacy would have made a difference. We are all well aware that the comments here are relatively public, okay? We just think that this is different and that it's different in a way that matters to us. You seem to not think it's different, which, whatever. But when you attribute that difference in opinion to ignorance and illiteracy instead of to, you know, people having an opinion that is different from yours, it comes across as incredibly dismissive.



*among other people's
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 10:56 AM on January 10, 2016 [23 favorites]


There's a bit of Exhibit Z-with-exponents-involved about why that "but someone is wrong on the internet!" xkcd will still be in circulation a hundred years from now.

What I've been reflecting on lately is that there's an aspect of the message (or "the" message) of the entire emotional labor thread and its ongoing ripples here and elsehwere is that ultimately, empathy is a strength (and all too often, contextual deficits of it a weakness), and like all strengths, it needs consistent exercise to stay that way. I don't have a grand splainy conclusion, other than noting that it continues to be personally helpful to reflect on, and the main dissemination of the concept I wish I could do would be to zap it through a time machine to myself in the past.
posted by Drastic at 11:04 AM on January 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


People share personal things on MeFi and I'll bet some of the factors that go into deciding to share include very understandable ones such as:

*this comment is one of thousands and thousands of comments on this site
*the people who will recognize the specific situation I am discussing or the people who I might be referring to in this comment almost certainly aren't going to be reading Metafilter to begin with
*chances are very small that any one person will spend the time sorting through pages and pages of links and comments on MeFi to put all the clues together to figure out who I am
*the person whose question I am answering really could benefit from my personal experience so even though it's personally revealing in public, I feel the risk is small that I will get any blowback from it, in exchange for the opportunity to help someone else who needs it
*personal, emotional, heartfelt, lived-experience comments get a LOT of validation on MeFi (in responses, empathizing, favorites, MeMail, making friends with other members, etc.) and inspire a feeling of connection within the community that it is only human to assess that risk and decide the validation/connection outweighs any risk of publicly speaking about it

Personal, emotional, heartfelt, lived-experience comments create a lot of value for MeFi as a community; a lot of value for the usefulness of AskMeFi; and frankly having content like this generates money for MeFi in eyeballs from Google, ad impressions, etc. as well as inspiring people to join this community and donate to it.

Putting it on the shoulders of the members who share here and create this value for MeFi - in effect telling them it's totally on them to be more careful because anyone could figure out who they are & they should know better - while wholeheartedly praising, consuming, sharing, encouraging, and elevating this kind of content both officially & unofficially on MeFi is SUCH a double-edged sword. So many mixed signals.

I find it disappointing that people would put it on the shoulders of the members who made the comments - the members who made that thread so valuable with the content they contributed - that they should have known better, they should have been more wary, when they express dismay that their calculated risk was not only amplified and highlighted without their consent - but what's worse, praised and distributed and amplified by their own peers (other members)! - rather than put it on the shoulders of anyone who would come here and not ask for our members' consent to remix & distribute the content that those members contributed FOR FREE to the large benefit of Metafilter.

In public, uncompensated, beneficial still does NOT equal okay. Good intentions does not equal okay.

The calculated risk of contributing to that thread - one comment among thousands, on a site most people we know will not come and read, much less recognize us in anything we say - is a very different thing than someone carefully going through & picking comments to highlight, formatting it in an easy-to-read way and then putting it in front of those very people who will never come and read a huge, flat-threaded chronological-order post here - I mean that is the point of this digest, to make it easier for other people to read who will never come here to read it.

On top of that there's the decision to link directly back to members' profiles in the document; suddenly a highlighted and very-exposed comment can with one click lead a curious person who otherwise would not ever have read MeFi or dug into profiles & through links to a member's profile page and easily confirm who they are, if they already know them.

You don't have to be worried about your safety or doxxing to be concerned about that. Yes, everything online is public but people know to take calculated risks. Posting on MeFi is taking a reasonable risk. It could happen, but it's highly unlikely it will happen. It takes a dedicated attempt to dox a person, which most people will not attempt.

Making it easier to do this, without members' consent? Some members are very happy about the exposure. I see a lot of social pressure here to be happy about the exposure and the value of that thread, and how wonderful MeFi is that it can host these discussions among its membership.

Some members are not happy and it feels fundamentally against the ethos of MeFi and the value of that emotional labor thread to put a lack of asking for consent on the shoulders of the members who contributed and found their words broadcast like this, without permission.
posted by flex at 11:23 AM on January 10, 2016 [41 favorites]


chances are very small that any one person will spend the time sorting through pages and pages of links and comments on MeFi to put all the clues together to figure out who I am

Oh man, yeah. There's a reason that compiling disparate bits of publicly-available info on someone is still considered doxxing.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:47 AM on January 10, 2016 [7 favorites]


I haven't done a survey, but it feels like this issue comes up pretty regularly: once a year or so. An external website or group of people quote from Metafilter or deep link to comments or repurpose material as was done here in a way that upsets and surprised some of us, while leaving others scratching their heads at the concern.

There have been at least a couple of very difficult metatalk threads about it, with people on the two sides of the issue getting mad and feeling like they're not being understood or are being condescended to.

I've clearly been on one side of these discussions, although this thread has given me a greater understanding of the feelings of other people, and the hurt and worry that they can feel when their words are given new life beyond what they expected. I really appreciate that.

It would be great to avoid these arguments in the future, and also to find a way to help the people who are upset when comments made on Metafilter are used in ways the commenters didn't expect.

We already give lots of warnings that this could happen, as LobsterMitten pointed out above. Maybe there's nothing more we can add to that, and we just have to accept that some people will be surprised, disappointed, upset, angry, etc when this happens. But maybe there are other things we could do. It is worth thinking about, at least.

Also, are there better ways we can respond as a community when it happens, to address those feelings, to do whatever we can to improve the situation, and to avoid having these same disagreements all over again?

It would be great to have this be a growing experience for the site, to get better at this thing that we apparently have to do every now and then.
posted by alms at 11:50 AM on January 10, 2016 [2 favorites]


As an example (and not one meant to be in any way dismissive or hurtful or unsupportive), I've personally read probably 20 or more anonymous relationship AskMes that could, note for note, have been written by me over the course of my membership here. That's one reason I often feel okay about volunteering very personal stuff here. Because though you'd think the story would be identifiable and unique, it turned out to very not be.

I get though that if I had a violent ex stalking me or potentially stalking me, I would probably feel very differently. I do have an estranged ex, but the worst she did to me was tell damaging and slanderous (and, from my perspective, untrue) rumors about me, and I don't believe she is stalking me. Besides, she knows where I live.
posted by kalessin at 11:59 AM on January 10, 2016


We already give lots of warnings that this could happen, as LobsterMitten pointed out above. Maybe there's nothing more we can add to that, and we just have to accept that some people will be surprised, disappointed, upset, angry, etc when this happens. But maybe there are other things we could do. It is worth thinking about, at least.

I think the vocal pushback on this is one of the things that needs to happen. With the openness of the internet, there are a lot of people suggesting that the tension of these concerns is an inevitability and that is "just the way it is". The pushback we are seeing is against the seemingly inevitable tide of "sharing all the time" or "giving the media a permanent pass" on things that should be a lot more courteous and better thought out socially. Discussions on what it means to be courteous and thoughtful in a world that doesn't always do this because of either convenience or feeling sanctioned because of a media badge need to be more public and a bit more forceful, in large part because how much there are people talking about how it's inevitable and people should get over it. I don't think that necessarily has to be the case, and there is historical precedent that is already established to show that there can be more thoughtfulness in how we share or appropriate public information(even from the media), but too often isn't.

It's a larger cultural discussion that needs to happen with stronger words, because there is an old guard that gets (understandably) a bit uncomfortable when the carte blanche to appropriate anything with a semblance of being "public" under the banner of "the press" with no consequence is challenged. As many others have said, it's not about legality (an open press needs to be protected), but courtesy and helping set standards of public appropriateness. That can happen in a world in which everything seems to be open to observation and comment, and will keep getting more open over time with the advancement of technology. These difficult discussions can either happen now, or when the inevitable litigation happens that seeks to redefine and protect what "reasonable expectations or privacy" are, even in relatively public places, when google's street view is tame in comparison to what companies will eventually be able to do.
posted by SpacemanStix at 12:14 PM on January 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


Should we remove the ability to link directly to a comment from offsite? Is that technically possible? Is it desirable?
posted by alms at 12:40 PM on January 10, 2016


No, probably?, no.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 12:47 PM on January 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


It would be impossible to do without getting up to some super weird not-how-the-web-works hijinks and is a technically very bad idea even if I get the sort of spirit-of-accommodating-brainstorming that generated it.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:58 PM on January 10, 2016 [4 favorites]


If it's being shared so much on Facebook and elsewhere, the Google search results start to mean less and less in terms of showing which is getting the most exposure.
posted by Vaike at 1:34 PM on January 10, 2016 [3 favorites]


I'm angry.

Yes, I understand internet=public, etc. I posted in the EL thread and I understand that anyone who was looking at that specific FPP could see what I wrote.

But I am very much not okay that someone pulled SIX of my comments and published them in a PDF without asking for my permission.

I asked the author to anonymize my user name in the PDF and it was.

But because this is the internet, my comments are still linked to that user name and if anyone wants, they can easily figure out who I am.

So it doesn't matter that my comments are now anonymous on this ONE document because my old user name is STILL on the doc.

I have no idea what I'm supposed to do about this but this is DEEPLY AND SERIOUSLY UNCOOL.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 1:35 PM on January 10, 2016 [13 favorites]


jaguar's account is now disabled.
posted by zarq at 2:42 PM on January 10, 2016


Damnit
posted by futz at 2:54 PM on January 10, 2016 [14 favorites]


It's probably worth restating one of her comments:
On a larger note, this is not the first time I've felt burned on this site as a survivor of domestic violence, when users have assumed that because I agreed to one thing (like publishing my own comment in a certain context) that I somehow gave consent to something else (like being published in a widely shared document). For people with violent exes or stalkers, such blithe disregard for consent can cause emotional and physical harm. (My first thought on seeing this document was, "Is this going to be what prompts my ex to come shoot me?") While I do what I can to mitigate harm in terms of how much I share, I really wish everyone here would be much more aware of how much damage you can cause by assuming everyone wants as much public exposure as you might.
Can you blame her? If something happened here that made you worry about your physical safety, wouldn't you consider disabling your account just to put some distance between you and the potential threat? I sure would.
posted by mudpuppie at 3:00 PM on January 10, 2016 [17 favorites]


(That was meant to be the general 'you,' by the way. Not directed at anyone individually.)
posted by mudpuppie at 3:01 PM on January 10, 2016


Dammit.

Lesson 1: Ask permission.
Lesson 2: It's possible to want to share your ideas and experiences within a like-minded community without wanting to be an Activist. Being conscripted into something sucks. See Lesson 1.

Be safe and well, jaguar.
posted by kimberussell at 3:09 PM on January 10, 2016 [10 favorites]


It seems clear that some changes need to be made to account privacy settings in order for people to feel safe sharing personal anecdotes which might otherwise expose them to retribution. I suggest:

1. Allowing users to restrict access to their profile page to other mefi users, select mefi users, or just mods.

2. Enabling a feature where comments can be anonymized when viewed by non-members.

Policies on content use are also good, though they can't prevent third parties from doing what they will. Actual features which allow restricted information access will help protect people. These are features already available on sites like Facebook, Tumblr etc.
posted by grumpybear69 at 3:10 PM on January 10, 2016 [3 favorites]


We've talked about this before, and although proposals like that are well-intentioned, they offer an illusion of privacy that would probably be more damaging in the long run. Anybody would be able to get an account and see your "hidden" stories.

We try to be really clear with people that it's an open site, all the posts and comments are public. It's a thing where people have to make their own calculations about how they want to participate, knowing that.

Also - looking at the PDF document, the credits section says that all the comments whose authors oklima297 wasn't able to reach have now been removed. So I think that means the document now just has comments where people have agreed to have them included.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 3:16 PM on January 10, 2016 [2 favorites]


We try to be really clear with people that it's an open site, all the posts and comments are public.

Sure. But someone taking comments and publishing them elsewhere without my permission feels like a violation.

So I think that means the document now just has comments where people have agreed to have them included.

On the new document, yes. Unfortunately the original doc that has my old user name used without my permission is still on the internet.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 3:22 PM on January 10, 2016 [2 favorites]


Update on the doc available through github: it has been re-initialised so the history has been removed. The only version available now through that link is the edited, anonymised, consenting document. The git was not forked. So though there may be local copies of the original pdf that were downloaded earlier, the link goes only to that current version.

This update brought to you by a non-technical member of CI who asks the technical whizzes silly questions. Just thought it was worth letting people know.
posted by Athanassiel at 3:42 PM on January 10, 2016 [7 favorites]


Thanks for that update, and thanks to whoever zapped the history there.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 3:44 PM on January 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


In the FAQ, the answer is that the comments that you write are copyright you.

So you should be able to withdraw your comment and/or specify how it's used in any derivative work, up to and including licensing fees. I'm not saying this is likely or likely to be affordable to you, but there exists legal recourse.
posted by kalessin at 3:59 PM on January 10, 2016


Perhaps we could revise the FAQ with a statement about requiring individualized permission for republishing comments offsite? In the subsection at the bottom, after the bit about copyright? It's a bit after-the-horse-is-gone, but might help prevent (or limit) future situations.
posted by suelac at 4:05 PM on January 10, 2016 [2 favorites]


I feel like that's covered in the FAQ section i just linked though?
posted by kalessin at 4:11 PM on January 10, 2016


"Who owns the copyright on MetaFilter content?

On the footer of every MetaFilter page is: © 1999-2015 MetaFilter Network Inc. All posts are © their original authors. What this means is that people own their own content. So if you wanted to publish a book of your own MetaFilter comments, you could. However if you wanted to publish a book of other people's MetaFilter comments you'd need to speak with those individual users; MetaFilter is not the owner of the copyright of that content."


Someone DID publish comments without permission. What, if anything, happens now?
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 4:14 PM on January 10, 2016 [3 favorites]


They stop publishing the ones they don't have permission for, which is what they've done.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 4:22 PM on January 10, 2016 [5 favorites]


They did and they fixed it to within what the mods seem to think is a reasonable degree.

I believe that you could potentially write C&D type correspondence for search engines like Google to clear caches and/or unlist search results for works with your identity in them that were related. But I have no specific experience - this is just an educated guess.
posted by kalessin at 4:23 PM on January 10, 2016


In the meantime, the damage is done. The document got distributed and got even more boost & publicity from this MeTa post - from MeFi members themselves.

And this MeTa post sat for four days with no disclaimer from the mod team about the concerns that it was not compiled with consent, in violation of the comment authors' copyright.

And MeFites and others distributed it & shared it from this post without realizing there were consent issues in its compilation, thinking it was implicitly MeFi-endorsed.

Either that MeFi copyright means something or it does not. I don't think "but they had good intentions, and it's been fixed" is good enough when it was left be for this long without the mods explicitly disclaiming it or pointing out the copyright violations right up at the top of the post.

Many people aren't going to read down a large MeTa thread to find out there are concerns. They're going to see a post with the top comments applauding it, and a thwack of favorites on it, and they're going to think "oh, cool!" and then share it. I saw it happen more than once.
posted by flex at 4:30 PM on January 10, 2016 [13 favorites]


Many people aren't going to read down a large MeTa thread to find out there are concerns. They're going to see a post with the top comments applauding it, and a thwack of favorites on it, and they're going to think "oh, cool!" and then share it. I saw it happen more than once.

If they do read down this far, I want to say that even though I was one of the early applauders, I absolutely understand and agree with the people who had/have concerns. As I said upthread, had some other comment of mine, with identifying information, been included in the document, I would have freaked out a bit.
posted by mudpuppie at 4:40 PM on January 10, 2016 [6 favorites]


I shared the original link to the Condensed PDF (at 72 pages) and have been painstakingly updating the folks I shared it with with the results of this thread. I know that not everyone does that and that there's no way to enforce it, but we do our best to make amends as conditions change.
posted by kalessin at 4:42 PM on January 10, 2016


Either that MeFi copyright means something or it does not.

Sure, but what it means is that individuals retain copyright over their comments, which I don't think anybody's been disputing and which hasn't really seemed like the core point of any of the complaints or concerns expressed here. "I wish I had had a chance to opt out of being included in this document because of safety/discomfort reasons" is a different thing than "I require proper licensing of my intellectual property" and if the concern was primarily the latter this would have been a lot simpler and I think lower-heat discussion.

I hear you that you don't think good intentions matter here, but while I don't think they fix the problem of having made people uncomfortable by failing to get permission first, I think they absolutely do matter for how we look at this as something happening as a result of a good faith error in a community-minded project vs. someone maliciously or opportunistically making off with mefi community members' writing for far less defensible reasons. This situation has been a mess but it's been an essentially intracommunity one based on some bad planning and blind spots in an effort to do good, not someone actively trying to rip anybody off, cause anyone trouble, or violate anyone's IP rights. And the folks who messed that stuff up have been making an active effort to set it aright.

I totally and wholly appreciate why the folks who are somewhere between uncomfortable and actively spooked by their inclusion of the suddenly-more-visible document feel that way and want it remedied. And I am glad that the folks involved in putting together have been receptive to that criticism and have been doing their best to respond to it actively and to accommodate everybody's individual and collective concerns. The original error can't be unmade and people can't be unspooked or unfrustrated; we have no time machines to work with. About the best outcome we can hope for in that light is that folks as a community find a way to make it right as best they can, and that's been what I've seen happening in this thread over the last few days. If that hadn't been happening, I'd have been inclined to get fairly noisy and prescriptive about the fact that it did indeed need to, but that's not the situation we ended up with.

If I am misunderstanding anybody and they are actively concerned from specifically a copyright perspective, I'm happy to talk about that more. It just isn't clear to me that that's anyone's primary concern.
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:14 PM on January 10, 2016 [15 favorites]


I brought up copyright specifically in response to yes I said yes I will Yes' comment as a possible answer to what recourse there is, but I apologize because it seems like I just muddied the waters.
posted by kalessin at 5:41 PM on January 10, 2016


If they did not have the right to appropriate & remix those comments - which they did not and as far as I can tell that's pretty well acknowledged here - then the mods should have said right away "this document violates MeFi authors' copyrights and we do not endorse it" or something similar, where users could see it, as soon as anyone realized that the authors' consent was not obtained here.

Requiring "actively concerned from specifically a copyright perspective" is ignoring or gliding right over that this post sat up there for FOUR DAYS while people shared it, thinking it was hunky-dory, and the mods did not put a note on it saying it was compiled without consent and in violation of MeFi policy. People shared this without knowing the authors' consent wasn't obtained.

I am concerned & disappointed to find the mods more focused on explaining why they didn't need to disclaim it rather than acknowledging that because they didn't, it got signal-boosted & distributed and more damage was done while this was all being sorted out.

If (or should I say "when") there is a next time this happens I want to know (and I would assume other concerned MeFites want to know) that the mods are willing to back up copyright violations and damage-control to the best of their abilities rather than letting it sit because "good faith" or "good intentions" or "it's being fixed" while the problem spreads further in the meantime.

How else can I or anyone who feels like I do feel safe participating here in the meantime, knowing that in a clear case of copyright violation, the mods don't have our backs even just to say "this was done against MeFi policy and we do not endorse it"?
posted by flex at 5:46 PM on January 10, 2016 [7 favorites]


I really hope anyone whose identity was significantly compromised by sharing of the doc is able to keep contributing to MeFi under a new account or whatever's needed. I understand that people's safety comes first and that isn't always possible, but I am sad at the potential loss of members whose words have such a positive effect on people's lives. The rest of the internet and professional criticism already have major problems with losing honest female voices because of the omnipresent threat of doxxing and harassment. It's perhaps inevitable but awful that this would happen for MeFi too.
posted by thetortoise at 6:01 PM on January 10, 2016 [8 favorites]


Copyright has been discussed in this thread for days. Unless I missed a comment, that part of this ongoing conversation was not addressed by the mods until today, when Lobstermitten mentioned content around noon Eastern time. If I'm wrong, please feel free to correct me.

So after the happy back-slapping at the beginning of this post, it became apparent a few people were upset (and some of them were very upset) that their usernames and intimate comments had been highlighted in a document which had been widely disseminated.

If the copyright issues had been acknowledged by a mods earlier when they were first raised, it would have at the very least offered people who were concerned some official support, taking their expressed "this is not okay" from a "this is upsetting to me personally" position to some level of moderator involvement. Perhaps: "Publishing people's comments clearly violates our guidelines and we would like the person(s) responsible to correct it or take down the document."
posted by zarq at 6:07 PM on January 10, 2016 [6 favorites]


intentional_fallacy.gif
posted by shakespeherian at 6:12 PM on January 10, 2016


Someone mentioned the stats on the EL thread earlier -- I'm having a conversation right now with my sister (who read this Google Docs version a couple of days ago and she said it was revolutionary for her as a woman), and I wanted to pin down the big difference between the EL thread and this document with regard to the decision making process.

Just repeating what I wrote to her: "to provide perspective, I just now took that whole thread and stripped everything from it that wasn't the actual content of the comments. No attribution, nothing else. Just the actual words that people wrote. The entire thread is 354,235 words, which works out to be about 969 pages if formatted the way the average paperback book is formatted. A comment among that, on a small (but admittedly notable) site like MetaFilter is a different level of exposure than one of the (relatively) few comments selected for inclusion in that document and then promulgated widely outside of MetaFilter."

I think it's really important that we not accept a framing that makes it exclusively about our decisions when we choose to write something here or a framing that makes it exclusively about this one individual's decision. What we should be thinking about is our own decisions when we decide to promulgate other people's public speech, and specifically how we treat the speech of our fellow mefites. In this case, the author wasn't at the time a member, but there were members who were involved in this before this MetaTalk thread was posted and apparently none of those people involved, who are mefites, thought about the possible harm from wider dissemination and that it implied a responsibility to ask permission and such.

And outside of this example, I know that there are a number of people here who regularly promulgate via twitter or otherwise comments written here by other mefites, usually in the well-intentioned, good-hearted spirit that this was. And I think we just generally don't think about what we're doing when we do this, we don't think about how promulgating people's words from here to elsewhere means a different social context and a different exposure and risk profile than when it was being written here. We default to that "it's already public, isn't it?" stance. Which is revealing and disappointing because we go through all the the calculations that flex described earlier when we write our own comments here -- why don't we go through that process when we decide to promulgate other people's comments outside MetaFilter? We know that the overall context matters when we're deciding to write our comments, so why wouldn't we realize that we need to reevaluate that overall context when we're considering disseminating someone else's words elsewhere? But we don't. And that's a problem. But it's a problem that we can fix.

Sure, that doesn't mean that people outside MetaFilter will get better about this stuff. Except that, in a way, it probably does. The thing is, usually in some respect we're individually representative of other people like us. If we're thinking more carefully about these things, it probably means that other people are, too. And our behavior does affect how other people evaluate their own. This is how cultural standards of behavior shift and change. When we decide to behave better, in some sense we're part of a larger community of people who have decided to behave better. And things do get better.

Regardless, changing our own behavior is actually something we can do. Raising our own awareness about this stuff would have meant that as soon as mefites were involved in this, it would have been much more likely that someone would have raised these concerns with oklima297. It would have meant that the mods would have been aware of it when the post was made and some of the early commenters who unequivocally praised it would have probably both praised it but also raised these concerns.

The harm that can come from this kind of thing isn't something that just happens, it's not a fact of nature. It's something that many of us, sooner or later, actually do ourselves and even if that's not the case, it's something where our awareness and attitudes can affect the decisions of the people who do.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 6:28 PM on January 10, 2016 [14 favorites]


I think actually having a very specific policy directed towards people who make transformative use of comments on here, Mefites or not, is now not just useful but necessary.

Projects like this EL PDF is one thing; it's coming from someone who means well but has not thought it through, and because it's still relatively small scale that person still has a lot of ability to make big changes. But also, there is now the rise of entire media outlets where the bulk of their content comes from users on other sites. Buzzfeed, NPR's web based stuff, various others. This kind of use is getting more and more common, and people are profiting from that without being accountable for their use.

I know that this rubs up against the long-standing Net etiquette of "you don't need permission to link or share!". But now that harassment that leads to potentially mortal peril has become more and more common, particularly through doxxing, we may need to rethink how we approach things like transformative use of other people's content.

This isn't just about copyright anymore, this is about consent. Drafting a policy that we can use to show people wishing to remix content, with notes such as "get affirmative consent", norms about Metafilter and how they influence the ways people comment on here, deciding whether or not it's OK for someone like Buzzfeed to do a Top 10 Mefi Comments post, whether the policy changes based on scale of project or scale of creating entity - that could go a long way towards resolving the issues that lead to threads like this in the first place.
posted by divabat at 6:44 PM on January 10, 2016 [17 favorites]


We have already lost one member (at least) of our community because of this situation. I hope we do not lose any more. There are cases in which intention does matter. There are situations in which the right thing to do is an accept an apology, even if that apology cannot undo what was done.

There are dozens of people who should have realized more quickly that this document was not created with appropriate permissions and consideration. Just look at the start of this thread. Dozens of us had that same failure. We've now come to recognize it, and hopefully our community is wiser as a result and we will do better and be more careful and recognize problematic situations more quickly next time. But I hope no one feels that there should be some price to pay for this mistake. There's already been too much of a price paid.

I'm also concerned to read a warning about tweeting or sharing links to comments. Of course, we all need to be sensitive. But the links are there people will share them. We can't be expected to know the layers that lie underneath someone's insightful comment. Metafilter survives and depends on the larger social web. The site actively promotes its best discussions on Twitter and elsewhere, and members share links.

If there is anything so dangerous that it's dissemination could put your life in danger, you should not post it here. Yes, we may lose some insightful comments if everyone applies that standard. But if it's really that dangerous, this isn't the place to post it. There are lots of closed discussion groups, and those don't get quoted in the national press with the regularity that Metafilter does.

As a community we can all certainly be more sensitive, and I believe we are all trying to be. But that sensitivity will not create safety, and we shouldn't let ourselves be lulled into thinking that it will.
posted by alms at 6:53 PM on January 10, 2016 [3 favorites]


This isn't just about copyright anymore, this is about consent.

Do you envision that need for consent extending to getting permission before linking to and quoting from content in a FPP?
posted by Dip Flash at 6:58 PM on January 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


Dip Flash: Possibly; it was something I was thinking about when it comes to FPPs. My first thought with the policy though was to focus on the use of Mefi-created content by third parties; the discussion about etiquette of linking into Mefi seems like a separate discussion.
posted by divabat at 7:06 PM on January 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


There's also a pretty significant distinction to be made between (1) sharing/posting a link to a given FPP (possibly with some descriptive or excerpted text), and (2) editing, curating, and republishing the entire contents of the FPP itself.
posted by theorique at 7:15 PM on January 10, 2016 [10 favorites]


Divagate, the use of Mefi-created content by any parties (third or otherwise) already requires consent. That's what the copyright means. In this case, the people who put the document together did not initially do what was required. But the requirement was already there.
posted by alms at 7:21 PM on January 10, 2016


alms: It's not in the most obvious spot though, and it doesn't cleanly say "If you are planning to remix this for third-party use, please read this first". People are pretty cavalier about copyright already as it is - "oh I'll just link to the source! Fair use!" - but we've already seen how even that level of attribution can be dangerous. Hence the suggestion for an explicit, direct policy.
posted by divabat at 7:25 PM on January 10, 2016 [3 favorites]


Fandom has a lot of nuanced discussion about this - sharing content that is copyright protected, user created, made to profit or made for pleasure, material made for friends and then shared in a wider circle or made for public access but not to be pointedly directed to certain people. It gets incredibly complicated, emotionally difficult and often legally and ethically grey. And that's about fictional stories.

So when it comes to real lived stories, this isn't easier. It's harder. It's activism where you don't have cold hard cash as a useful way to figure out the transactions as you do in regular online blogging, or fandom where you get a sort of wanted fame/kudos/network effect as a transactional currency to use.

The people who contributed to the original thread gave to Metafilter as part of their social contract with Mefi and got something back - greater community feeling, higher social network in Mefi. With this document - they got what back exactly? They didn't ask to participate, they were asked retroactively, and some of them didn't want to participate in this kind of project because the cost was too high for them.

There's a thing in fandom where people will write "please don't remix my stories without permission" or some other policy and it's generally - you write to ask. Someone has an idea or they have a half-finished story, or they have a character you want to work with - you ask. And they're an asshole if they refuse to share, because hello, you are all sharing. But if they refuse, you then have to decide if you want to override their refusal knowingly. And sometimes people do because they feel they have to for Some Reason. The point is that you do it knowingly and with intent and careful thought about what this will mean to the people you are acting against.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 7:50 PM on January 10, 2016 [5 favorites]


Having a policy is all well and good. No issues there. What is the proposal for enforcing it?

For example I did some surfing to see whether any of my comments made it somewhere else. None of mine but I did find quite a few other postings with direct quotes from the EL thread on a number of other sites. These had nothing to do with the pdf and were from last summer. Not anyone at a level of Buzzfeed but several with what could be considered curated lists as there was more then one. Is it just a matter of wanting an explicit policy to help deal with bigger, money making sites or entities if it becomes an issue with one or them or blogs in general. I'm just not sure how such a policy would be able to do much to stop it.
posted by Jalliah at 7:53 PM on January 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


Without an army of lawyers backing it up any policy regarding third party use or aggregation of MeFi content is entirely toothless. Forget limiting linking to FPPs or directly to comments - that runs up against the fundamental architecture of the web. The only thing MeFi can do to protect users is enable restrction of information access such as profile info and comment history to mods or a whitelist of known users. Beyond that, as has already been mentioned, $5 and a dream will get anyone who wants it the info they desire.
posted by grumpybear69 at 9:26 PM on January 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


Toothless policy is still policy. Policy serves many purposes other than simply enforceability. It helps build community. It sets expectations and boundaries. It helps solidify non-mod understanding of mod priorities and procedures. There's lots of good things that a well formulated policy can do.

As I've said before I think it's a good time to start thinking about and establishing a policy about transformative and derivative use of content on MetaFilter.
posted by kalessin at 10:29 PM on January 10, 2016 [10 favorites]


It seems to me like if I were to write a policy about this specific issue, I would put it right next to the copyright FAQ entry and I would talk (briefly) about the risk/exposure issues various folks have raised in this very thread and ask derivative creators to not only ask for consent before publishing but also to consider that various folks have various reasons for wanting to be able to limit their exposure of their content outside of MetaFilter and to be prepared for that.
posted by kalessin at 10:41 PM on January 10, 2016 [10 favorites]


I would like to understand why anyone felt they had the right to take that thread, distill and distribute it without permission. Can someone directly part of the PDF doc answer why people weren't asked or even notified before this was published?
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 2:54 AM on January 11, 2016 [4 favorites]


I followed the original EL thread for the month it was open, and I've been following this thread off and on for days.

I wasn't involved in the production of the EL-distillate, but one guess as to
why anyone felt they had the right to take that thread, distill and distribute it without permission.
might be because the comments had already been posted on a public website, and were thus public comments, and after all, the compiler of the document was very conscientious in providing---linked, even---attribution. It wouldn't've occurred to me that compiling interesting parts of that thread in a more-accessible way could be seen as anything but a good thing, and it wouldn't've occurred to me to ask for permission, because after all, attribution and links to the original thread were being provided.

I now understand this would have been a wrong way to think. After reading this thread, I (and, clearly, the compilers of the distilled document) now understand that they should've asked for and gotten permission before posting these public comments in a different forum/format, and that people are justifiably really upset and that they made a mistake.

And they've apologized, and they've tried to rectify the mistake as much as they possibly can. Including stripping all history from all the copies they have access to, and deleting comments when asked, and anonymizing comments when asked.

But the mistake has been made, and they can't go back in time to have asked for permission before-hand.

What else do you want them to do?
posted by leahwrenn at 3:28 AM on January 11, 2016 [28 favorites]


I think the fault here lies more in the disconnect between how MetaFilter advertises itself and the expectations formed by those of us who have been here for a while than it does in any misstep by the person who compiled the document.

MetaFilter still calls itself a weblog before anything else. Given that, how is an outsider supposed to know that it's not automatically okay to quote us elsewhere on the internet? Legally, it falls under fair use. Morally, there's no reasonable expectation of privacy when posting to a public website. And even in terms of politeness, it's always been acceptable in mainstream internet culture to quote bloggers on your own blog or site without asking first as long as you link to the original source. Tumblr has even taken this convention a step farther with its one-click reblogging of whole posts.

So the problem is that those of us who have been here for a while feel like we're having a semi-exclusive conversation with our fellow community members (like having a conversation in a coffee shop -- in public, but it wouldn't be socially acceptable to record and broadcast our conversation without permission), but to anyone not familiar with site culture it looks like a bunch of co-bloggers publishing something for the general public to read (like recording a roundtable discussion for a public YouTube channel).

Maybe it's time for MetaFilter to explicitly rebrand itself as an "online community" instead of as "a weblog that anyone can contribute to"? The former seems like it would more accurately reflect the expectations and interactions of most of our active members than the latter.
posted by Jacqueline at 5:26 AM on January 11, 2016 [14 favorites]


I think that's a good distinction. Another analogy would be the difference between a private discussion and a panel discussion in front of an audience.

This confusion doesn't come up on the green, but it has been an issue on the blue. Of course, even with that rebranding it would still be a public site, and speech would still be a public panel discussion. But it might help non-members understand the dynamic better to see that this is a community with all that entails, and not just a list of links.
posted by alms at 6:43 AM on January 11, 2016 [1 favorite]


So the problem is that those of us who have been here for a while feel like we're having a semi-exclusive conversation with our fellow community members

As a data point, I've been commenting on metafilter since '02 and I have never imagined that I was having anything resembling a private or even semi-private conversation with anyone. I've rarely even thought of my commenting as "conversation." Rather, I think (and have thought) of metafilter as a forum in which to publish what I write—"publish" being a key word there, i.e., "to make public."

Obviously, tho, the catch here is a mismatch of expectations between what metafilter has been (and, arguably is) and what some subset of users expect it to be. The question at hand appears to be if metafilter should strive to accommodate the expectations of these users or whether it should strive to make clearer precisely what kinds of expectations users should have. As to the answer to that question, I do not feel it necessary to have an opinion.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:17 AM on January 11, 2016 [5 favorites]


Well I thought it was fairly obvious, but I guess not, so here's the guidance I would have thought you could take from my criticism: [...] I hope that was sufficiently clear [...]

Thank you. That makes much more sense, and leaving aside your need to resort to gratuitous shittiness in parts of your comment, is actually helpful to me. I am not sure that I agree with you completely, but I understand the criticism and will think about it.
posted by OmieWise at 7:19 AM on January 11, 2016 [1 favorite]


What else do you want them to do?

I've already said what I want them/her to do. I want them/her to explain why they/she did this. Consider it a teachable moment.

It's one thing to distill that thread and scatter my user name and my comments across the internet without my permission and say you're sorry. It's another to really consider why you made those choices and explain them to the community whose privacy you violated.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 8:08 AM on January 11, 2016 [3 favorites]


...or just explain them to me.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 8:16 AM on January 11, 2016 [1 favorite]


I think on the one hand a sort of public come-to-Jesus callout can certainly have a lot of effect, and it sort of feels deserved, that a person somehow mysteriously associated with Crone Island might be expected to know better, and also might be best equipped to deal with this kind of public callout, on the other, this proposed resolution seems a bit vindictive.

Believe me, I understand hurt feelings (especially on MetaFilter, where my expectations are constantly clashing with mod- and communal expectations lo these almost 15 years). But I think that most folks on this thread consider matters equitably resolved. And I feel like pursuing your version of justice (whether minimal or absolute) here is not entirely constructive.

Maybe oklima297 will MeMail you? If I were in oklima297's shoes though I would have noped out of the thread by now and I would personally be really surprised if oklima297 returned to process it out here.
posted by kalessin at 8:26 AM on January 11, 2016 [9 favorites]


I think that's a good distinction. Another analogy would be the difference between a private discussion and a panel discussion in front of an audience.

Except that there's 6-12 people talking, and the audience is there to see them. I was thinking the closest analogy I can think of was this thing that I saw happen in religious camps as a kid. There'd sometime be this moment at the end of the week\weekend\whatever where people where encouraged to go up front and tell their stories about why they needed God. Most of these stories were extremely personal, it was in public, with an audience even, but it was after all this community had been built up, and each story was one of many. People would have been absolutely horrified if anyone had shared other peoples' stories with the word at large, especially if they gave names or identifying information. But, and this is a big one, that's not the same either, because this is a different situation.

I guess what I'm trying to point out is that there's a whole lot of social context that still feels like it's getting ignored. I mean, I guess what I'm asking for is some indication from people coming up with reasons as to why you should always consider everything on the internet public and o.k. to share are willing to acknowledge that there's different sets of what's considered acceptable behavior regarding repeating stuff said in public depending on the context. This isn't just a bunch of hypothetical words on the screen that got there by a bunch of algorithms doing their thing, this is a bunch of people telling their stories and being people.

We're all adults here, and are all as capable of assessing risks as other people, and we know how the internet works. Nobody is shocked that copying text from a public website is technically possible, the surprise was that somebody ignored the social context that the stories were told in.
posted by Gygesringtone at 8:34 AM on January 11, 2016 [17 favorites]


I understand that people's safety comes first and that isn't always possible, but I am sad at the potential loss of members whose words have such a positive effect on people's lives.

If I ever come back I'll never post in a thread like that again. Not solely because of the outrageous lack of respect in taking my words without so much as a by-your-leave, but because when those who were upset about it spoke up the response was a condescending set of lectures about copyright law and how it was stupid to say anything in the first place on the Internet. So yeah, great job everyone high five.
posted by theory of semi-graphs of anabelioids at 8:36 AM on January 11, 2016 [30 favorites]


For my part in discussing copyright, I meant it as solely informational when yes I said yes I will Yes asked for recourse. I did not mean it to be dismissive or hurtful or unsupportive, but as an additional data point.
posted by kalessin at 8:38 AM on January 11, 2016 [2 favorites]


So the problem is that those of us who have been here for a while feel like we're having a semi-exclusive conversation with our fellow community members

I've never felt that way, but one of the most interesting aspects of this discussion for me is how many people clearly do (or did) perceive things in that context.
posted by Dip Flash at 8:47 AM on January 11, 2016 [1 favorite]


But I think that most folks on this thread consider matters equitably resolved. And I feel like pursuing your version of justice (whether minimal or absolute) here is not entirely constructive.

I don't really want to dive back into this thread, but this seems a strange formulation here at the end. First, the resolution, such as it is, has mostly been about people not just condescending to those who didn't think this idea was great (I mean those directly affected), but about sort of pushing each change to the document as unnecessary but very generous on the part of those who made it. Second, to the extent that there is consensus, it's lopsided because on the one side are people who fear for their safety and the integrity of their community while on the other are people who don't want a valuable resource to be lost. These two things are not the same, and mere numbers aren't likely to tell the whole tale.

But the largest reason that it's really strange to talk about "most folks" in this thread is that we know that at least one person vocally not-ok with this has left Metafilter, and another has had to change their username. It's just weird to view the thread itself as evidence without including the actual changes to the user base wrought in the thread.
posted by OmieWise at 8:48 AM on January 11, 2016 [9 favorites]


I'm a frequent leaver of the site. And I often come back (so far), but one of the other expectations I don't have is that if I leave, it will change anything, or that while I'm gone, my leaving will go remarked and change how business is done.

Also I'm aware that the "matters equitably resolved" is not uncontroversial. But I also read that two moderators seem to consider matters resolved, whether or not equitably.
posted by kalessin at 8:51 AM on January 11, 2016 [4 favorites]


I'm a frequent leaver of the site. And I often come back (so far), but one of the other expectations I don't have is that if I leave, it will change anything, or that while I'm gone, my leaving will go remarked and change how business is done.

Absolutely. I get that, I've done that, and I am not arguing that it should be different. I am more responding to your turn of phrase in this case to this user. "Most folks" in this context just seems strange to me.
posted by OmieWise at 8:56 AM on January 11, 2016 [1 favorite]


If I ever come back I'll never post in a thread like that again.

Me, too - I imagine something like a thread on depression being turned into a "What It's LIke" primer - because though I have experienced depression and want to share that experience sometimes, I don't have the drive other people do to convince people who haven't experienced it of "what it's like" and wouldn't want my experience to be representative, and likely wouldn't have written it to be educational in tone.
posted by sweetkid at 8:59 AM on January 11, 2016 [11 favorites]


That's fair, OmieWise.
posted by kalessin at 9:11 AM on January 11, 2016 [1 favorite]


So the problem is that those of us who have been here for a while feel like we're having a semi-exclusive conversation with our fellow community members

I don't think that's the problem at all. Again, it's not that people have some skewed or mistaken idea of what Metafilter is. As just about everyone has gone to great pains to disclaim, people know their posts here are public. But they also know how many other comments people would have to read through to get theirs, they know the chances of Person X finding their personally-identifiable story 500 comments down the page, they know how many people read MeFi. They've already done that calculus (far from not thinking about it at all, as many are still implying).

When someone takes their words outside of that context in which they posted them, the exposure of those comments changes, potentially beyond what they'd envisioned (e.g. the number of eyeballs, breadth of spread, degree of scrutiny, degree of highlighting). We already have somebody who was personally outed on Facebook as a result of having their words republished without permission! That's the part people are upset about. And yet people still want to tell them that they shouldn't be upset and should consider the matter resolved? Why not just let people be upset that their lives were affected by this, whether there's any 'recourse' for it or not?

I guess what I'm trying to point out is that there's a whole lot of social context that still feels like it's getting ignored.

Yes, absolutely. It's the social context here that matters, not the legalities or possibilities or condescending lectures assuming 'misconceptions' about metafilter. Yes, it's possible that someone will compile this thread or any other thread into a book and pass it around Facebook without so much as a single word of permission. But at least until now, that hasn't seemed likely to happen, and it shouldn't be socially acceptable from community members (much less celebrated) here at the site.

And yeah, I think it's very worth talking about the chilling effect of this sort of thing, because it makes me MUCH less likely to share my personal stories here knowing that it could get turned into some consciousness-raising publication at any time without my knowledge or consent and the community would a) cheer it on, then b) lecture me condescendingly when I didn't want to sacrifice more of my privacy for their activism.
posted by dialetheia at 9:13 AM on January 11, 2016 [31 favorites]


Okay, so, it still seems to me that oklima297's response was so much better than what is more typical in this sort of situation, and was genuinely quite responsive to people's concerns, that it makes sense to be positive and feel good about that response -- it's a good thing for all of us. That said, though, there was a bit more that oklima297 could have done -- removed it in the interim, maybe -- and so it's not as if no one's continued complaints are meritless. And I totally agree that all the people involved, from oklima297 outward, should think about why they didn't from the beginning take some time to consider the possible repercussions and whether they ought to ask for permission. A contention that is not made, in my mind, in a j'accuse sense, just that it's an opportunity to learn something, to recognize where we need to be more thoughtful in the future.

But much more importantly, there is the big asymmetry here about the scope of what's at stake. The people who are upset actually are quite exposed -- their stories were intimate and, in some cases, could come to the attention of dangerous stalkers or just enrage abusive spouses or other family. They have good reason to be very upset and not in the mood to go all kumbaya about how great MeFi is and how great oklima97's response was.

I imagine one retort is that the exposure isn't more than what had already happened by writing the comments to the thread. That argument was made above. But even setting aside what's already been pointed out -- that a 350,000 word thread is quite different from a much shorter document -- there's the case that this compiled document, hosted elsewhere and promulgated across various channels including Facebook, is a difference in kind, it's a different sort of thing. It's quite different from the forum in which people wrote their comments. It's a different context.

So even if you're in the group who think that people should be more cautious about what they write on the internet, you should still be sensitive and understanding and considerate about how these people feel.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 9:13 AM on January 11, 2016 [21 favorites]


I am not at all unsympathetic to folks who feel betrayed and outed and personally at risk from dangerous stalking folks. I frequently leave MetaFilter over way more subtle and philosophical causes that are way more difficult to explain. As I was saying over on Crone Island, I'm lucky that my ex isn't violently vindictive and won't pursue me.

I also am saying that I'm feeling very torn about this whole situation. I stand by everything I've said so far and am feeling pulled by many loyalties and do not have any answers - the situation strikes me as an evolving ethical situation, and it's one I don't have an established response to. It tugs on my interests and investments in MeFi, in activism, in feminism, in copyright and other law, in community participation, community building, policy writing, moderation, etc., and to have them all in various levels of conflict is, to say the least, breathtaking.

And, I will be the first to admit this, I am aggressively self-protective in daily discourse, so pursuing the goal of being ethical, available, accountable and present while being tugged in so many directions and being confronted with my own failings and missteps is hard.

I'm not saying that I won't step up to the responsibility, but I will say that to the extent that I reasonably feel I share some responsibility because of my community memberships and activist needs and other factors, I don't really appreciate having it implied that I am not being understanding and considerate.

Dissent does not equal uncaring and I'd like that to be remembered too.
posted by kalessin at 9:28 AM on January 11, 2016 [9 favorites]


I understand why someone would think this was okay to do, per leahwrenn's and Jacqueline's comments above. I get it. I accept it.

I also get that realistically, having had this happen, that it was (mostly) handled as well as any of us could expect, given the low expectations of how well these things are usually handled online (that is to say, not very well at all). I accept that as well.

I continue to find it ironic that this is all coming out of the emotional labor thread and yet much of the response (especially from the mods) feels like - frankly, impatience; like we get that people were concerned, we understand, but why are those concerned not satisfied now that it's fixed? Can this be over now?

We have lost at least two involved & respected members because of this situation. Another had to change their account. Who knows how many more felt scared, panicked, worried, stressed, or otherwise over all this? If we valued their voices in contributing to the original thread so much, why don't we prioritize making them feel safe, heard, acknowledged here?

Why is the feeling so quickly moving on to impatience, the room is uncomfortable with unpleasant feelings, defensiveness - rather than thinking about - how did this happen? How could this have been handled better? At what point did the members (that we just lost) shut down & how could we have kept them connected? What could we do in anticipation of this happening again to handle it next time to mitigate these problems? Those aren't easy discussions but they are necessary discussions to help heal this situation.

I know I want to hear from the mod team and from the other members that if they value the members who share their personal stories at some risk to themselves - which again, is often highly-praised, highly-valued content on MeFi without question - then they value making them feel supported & included here. That it's okay for them to express their concerns and that their concerns will be acted upon. That - without turning it into an argument about what anyone thinks is logic or legality - the important thing is that members can trust their community to have their backs.

I just don't see how, after that emotional labor thread that everyone is praising so highly, it isn't obvious that the social context here is not explaining how anyone should feel about it or defending why more wasn't done about it - it's reinforcing that members are valued & supported here.

If you want that content that makes MeFi so different from other communities - and I feel like so many of you do, because so many of you think this emotional labor thread was so beneficial and valuable - you have to make this place somewhere that people feel like they can share that content. That thread didn't happen in a vacuum. It happened here because people are connected here.

If you don't nurture and maintain that connection, you will lose that content and those people. Again - this is emotional labor, from the community to its members. As a community, MeFi is basically exploiting the contributions of those members if it is willing to happily consume their personal sharing but puts it on the individual members' shoulders to worry about themselves because the community isn't willing to do the work of keeping them supported when they do contribute.

And please, please acknowledge there is emotional labor in being one of a few dissenting in a crowd of people who don't seem to feel as you do - there is emotional labor in bringing it up, in knowing it will create conflict, in accommodating those who disagree in order to get them to see what you need done, in coming back to push back and point out details and ask questions over & over because it's important and it needs to be resolved, even when it's so uncomfortable. Again it is so ironic to see so many value this emotional labor thread so highly but not see it in practice or how to put it in practice right here, right now.
posted by flex at 9:41 AM on January 11, 2016 [52 favorites]


It's too late now, of course, but ideally the time to push back on the thought of someone collating the thread would have been at the time it was originally brought up. That is: within the thread itself while it was live.

Which is to say, at least the next time a cathartic thread happens, presumably the collective mind will remember and temper any enthusiasm with some better practices.
posted by rewil at 9:56 AM on January 11, 2016 [1 favorite]


There may not be another cathartic thread, and that may be a good thing. Perhaps that isn't the content Mefi should be hosting - maybe a private forum would be the best place for EL type threads, especially for women (but still - not a wholly protected place).
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 9:59 AM on January 11, 2016 [3 favorites]


"I'm not saying that I won't step up to the responsibility, but I will say that to the extent that I reasonably feel I share some responsibility because of my community memberships and activist needs and other factors, I don't really appreciate having it implied that I am not being understanding and considerate."

My comment wasn't at all directed at you, kalessin, if you felt that it was. I very much prefer the lack of threading, but I admit that it can sometimes create ambiguity. I've followed the conversation you've been having with others but, personally, I haven't seen you as one of the people who were minimizing the concerns of those who are upset.

My first comment in this thread, I think, was celebrating oklima297's response, and that was (understandably) upsetting in that it seemed to minimize the concerns of jaguar and flex and others. That wasn't my intention at all and I now regret that I didn't couple that praise of oklima297 with a defense of the people who are upset.

So my point is that I understand how you might feel put on the defensive. And I totally and completely share your concerns about this thread and the community -- I have a lot invested in finding a way to make this work out to be a net positive rather than a net negative and I'm mentally cringing away from the sometimes overt, sometimes subterranean conflict. But it's important to understand that the absolutely wrong response to that, to someone (in relative terms) somewhat aggressively expressing their hurt, is to say or do anything that implies you're trying to manage their response, to minimize what they feel, and the like. That's really infuriating when you're on the other side of it. It's better to err on the side of listening and empathizing, even if you're not totally sure you agree. Maybe you will if you think about it more. Maybe not. I'm probably being a little insulting to you now by saying this, I apologize if I am -- I'm sure this is stuff you understand very well. It's just something I'm thinking about as I read this thread and participate in the conversation.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 10:00 AM on January 11, 2016 [4 favorites]


I know I want to hear from the mod team and from the other members that if they value the members who share their personal stories at some risk to themselves - which again, is often highly-praised, highly-valued content on MeFi without question - then they value making them feel supported & included here. That it's okay for them to express their concerns and that their concerns will be acted upon.

Of course we do, and of course it's okay. If you want my opinion on how this project should better have been organized, I'm happy to go into detail, though I don't have much of anything new to say there following what folks in the community have already talked about up thread. If there's any lingering confusion over whether I think this could have been done better from the start, I'll be super clear here: it could have been, and should have been. Checking with potential contributors up front is the smart and accommodating way to go when assembling something significant for redistribution and is how this ought to have gone down, and if we'd had a heads up that it was in progress that's the advice I'd have given to the folks working on it; it's the advice I've given other folks in the past when dealing with projects that involve mefites' writing on the site as well.

When I talk about feeling like this is something that looks like a good faith effort, that doesn't mean nobody can or should have concerns about it, or that nothing needs fixing, or that nothing is a problem anymore because an effort is being made to get those fixes in place. It just colors the approach I'm going to have to dealing with the whole thing, compared to something malicious. I don't expect that to ameliorate anyone's specific concerns, especially in cases where it's a concern that's mostly personal. It's just also not an on-the-warpath situation; this isn't some fuckadoo content thief trying to cash in on stolen work or get people in trouble, it's something that looks like an amalgamation of a lot of good intentions from emotionally invested people that culminated in some bad decision-making in a particularly poor context. I have to approach that proportionally, even as I also really sympathize with the folks who are anywhere from bummed to freaked out by the fact that it happened in the first place.

We've been on the mod side totally willing to help folks talk through or figure out any immediate concerns about privacy as we've been able, and have discussed specific things with a few different folks over the contact form; any specific but privacy-sensitive concerns can totally come to us there with confidentiality, as usual.

The risk assessment and nature-of-public-discussion aspects of this whole conversation are complicated and I don't get the feeling anybody wants to hear yet another go-around on that at this point, but if folks want to discuss that more in the future in a more neutral context that's something we're fine with doing. I don't think I'm going to do it any justice with a short summary here in any case. But anybody who is trying to sort out the balance of their concerns about privacy and desire to share personal stories as far as it intersects with MetaFilter is, again, totally welcome to ask about it and the contact form is a welcome place to do it if you aren't specifically looking for a public discussion.

I'm sorry this has all been such a weird mess. It's frustrating to see so much discomfort and unhappiness come out of a thing that is otherwise a really positive bit of recent MetaFilter history, but I have zero interest in dismissing that discomfort or disagreement and if it's somehow come off otherwise then that's a failure on my part.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:19 AM on January 11, 2016 [18 favorites]


The specific thing I brought up both privately & publicly to the mod team is why they didn't officially & visibly disclaim on this MeTa post that there were concerns about this project, that it was not compiled with consent, and that it was not endorsed by MeFi in its current form.

People continued sharing that document based on simply seeing the highly-favorited, initially-applauded post & not reading the rest of the (long) MeTa thread where important concerns were brought up. People shared it thinking it had permissions it didn't have, and there was no disclaimer on it from the mod team. It spread further in that time with, honestly, only the best intentions on the part of the people sharing it, I'm sure. In fact, I know.

The distribution and extra attention could have been at least slowed down with some mod action. I did not feel like the mods addressed that adequately privately or publicly. I am frustrated that the mods would not be willing to simply visibly disclaim a document that they themselves say violated MeFi copyright policy so that MeFites would not share it until the permissions were handled - just as a heads up!

I brought this up so it can be on the table to consider if (when) this happens again. Please don't discount the value in the mods being willing to support their members by doing damage control of this sort. Had the mods taken or been willing to take such action, I feel it would have gone a long way.

cortex, I do feel dismissed, I am sorry to say. I feel you are in good faith, and I am in good faith, but I do feel dismissed by the mod team on this point and I don't want to go around in circles or feel like I'm being explained to - I want to feel supported & considered, on behalf of everyone here with concerns in either unwittingly contributing to the spread of the document before full consent was obtained and the people with concerns that it spread further than it could have in the time we had to damage-control some of that spread.
posted by flex at 10:39 AM on January 11, 2016 [14 favorites]


The specific thing I brought up both privately & publicly to the mod team is why they didn't officially & visibly disclaim on this MeTa post that there were concerns about this project, that it was not compiled with consent, and that it was not endorsed by MeFi in its current form.

Because that's not a thing we generally do, and the problem seemed to be being rapidly addressed on the document side to the point where the disclaimer idea became a moot point. We were as blindsided by this as everybody else, which is part of the theme here—it would have been good to know that this was in the works because we'd have been able to counsel the folks working on it beforehand, instead of just dealing with fallout after the fact. It's been a game of catchup the whole time for the mods much as everyone else.

I can't have-done-it-then now; I hear you that you wish it had been done then. It's also not something we basically ever do, which is part of why it didn't just happen immediately; it's not some point of standard practice that we took a mysterious pass on in this case. I think the idea that it'd have been worth doing in this case is totally worth arguing and I hear you on your concerns about it, but arguing it after the fact won't change it after the fact and it's been in that after-the-fact stage that you've been most insistent about it, so I don't feel like I have any answer that will satisfy you here.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:49 AM on January 11, 2016 [8 favorites]


I'm not arguing after the fact. I'm saying - I brought this up so it can be on the table to consider if (when) this happens again.

Because it wasn't a thing you generally do, and you said that. But it could have helped in this situation, in hindsight. So can it be considered going forward? I'm trying to get to a point where we can discuss what happened here so we can discuss what to do differently & better going forward.

And - even if the mods would not put a disclaimer on the post itself, neither did they officially & clearly disclaim this document in the thread at any point. Please can we consider the mods being willing to step up and say that something did in fact violate a MeFi policy when it clearly does? Especially when members express deep concerns? If it's not a thing the mods generally do now, can it be on the table as an option going forward? I think it would have helped in a lot of ways in this situation.
posted by flex at 11:02 AM on January 11, 2016 [12 favorites]


There may not be another cathartic thread, and that may be a good thing. Perhaps that isn't the content Mefi should be hosting

Cathartic threads can really make you feel like an outsider, if your experience doesn't happen to mesh with what the thread is about.
posted by Lucinda at 11:09 AM on January 11, 2016 [6 favorites]


Just as a head's up, maybe someone useful will see it in the thread, there definitely are multiple versions of the document floating around the internet. The one linked to from the Mary Sue is the current version, which has been redacted, and is identified as Emotional Labor: The Metafilter Thread Condensed.pdf .

However, there is an older version, apparently from August, that was linked earlier at various places (before the Mary Sue, in October, for example, here), which ---and I won't link directly to it---was called Emotional Labor: The Metafilter Thread Condensed.docx.

This file is not being updated and is dated 8/27/15.

So I don't know if it got lost on someone's google drive or what, but maybe deleting it would help get rid of the unredacted version?
posted by leahwrenn at 11:13 AM on January 11, 2016 [1 favorite]


So can it be considered going forward?

Yes, I think it can be.

And - even if the mods would not put a disclaimer on the post itself, neither did they officially & clearly disclaim this document in the thread at any point.

My read on the thread was that there wasn't any real dispute about whether getting permission first was the better way to go; if folks had seemed genuinely confused in aggregate by the idea that there even was a problem, mods clarifying that there was one would have felt a lot more pressing, basically. That said, I hear you that you'd have preferred there was some flat statement of position from the mods regardless.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:17 AM on January 11, 2016


This document has been floating around since August?
posted by zarq at 11:18 AM on January 11, 2016 [4 favorites]


This document has been floating around since August?

I don't know how long but several of my MeFite friends posted it on Facebook as far back as October. And it's been under discussion on Crone Island too.

After reading the explanations, I totally understand why people are upset about this document. But I am a little surprised that people who felt like it was wrong didn't say anything earlier.
posted by grouse at 11:59 AM on January 11, 2016 [2 favorites]


I think the idea that it'd have been worth doing in this case is totally worth arguing and I hear you on your concerns about it,

You're talking about adding a disclaimer to this post to alert readers that this project has some issues right? I think it's a little weird and condescending to be continually stating that you can't go back in time and do a thing instead of
A. just doing the thing now, that you've been asked to
or b. stating why you can't or won't do the thing now.

The only reason I even know there's a problem here is because I was bored, saw the huge number of comments here, knew that meant something bad happened, and knew to scroll to the bottom of the thread. If I didn't have the MeFi experience to know to do those things I would still think everything was fine and dandy with this project.
posted by bleep at 12:07 PM on January 11, 2016 [5 favorites]


But I am a little surprised that people who felt like it was wrong didn't say anything earlier.

Speaking only for myself, I spoke up the moment I saw this Meta. If I hadn't seen this, I would never have known about the doc and how often I was quoted in it.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 12:08 PM on January 11, 2016 [2 favorites]


just doing the thing now, that you've been asked to

Why would I put a disclaimer now about the state of the document several days ago? I'm seriously not being sassy here, I'm trying to make sure I'm not genuinely confused about the state of play. My understanding is that at this point the only people appearing in the document are people who have explicitly given their permission for such, either proactively in this thread or after having been contacted by oklima et al. If I'm misapprehending something here, please let me know.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:11 PM on January 11, 2016


"After reading the explanations, I totally understand why people are upset about this document. But I am a little surprised that people who felt like it was wrong didn't say anything earlier."

Maybe they weren't aware of it earlier?

"I can't have-done-it-then now; I hear you that you wish it had been done then. It's also not something we basically ever do, which is part of why it didn't just happen immediately; it's not some point of standard practice that we took a mysterious pass on in this case."

For all my dislike of the legalism aspect of the discussion, the one problem I have with the mod response to this is that the compilation of a large quantity of mefite comments and distributed outside of MetaFilter is prima facie a copyright violation, outside of fair use, and I'm struck by the fact that you guys (and me and some other people) didn't recognize this fact immediately.

And that being the case, I think flex's point and really my point, too, is that the ethical and empathetic concerns loom even larger (though I think many of us weren't previously aware of this) and it's striking that the mods and many of the rest of us didn't also recognize the second this was posted that this was a problem. Which is to say that I think flex is right to ask why the immediate mod response wasn't to keep the post in the queue as they tried to contact oklima297 to ask about these concerns, and/or write an immediate comment when the thread was posted that raised these concerns. It's not actually asking that much that the mods be more cognizant of these issues and take some responsibility at least at the stage of something like this being posted to MetaTalk.

I'm not happy about pressing you on this, because I think you guys have a thankless job that you do quite well, but I do think that flex's argument has merit. Part of what is so good about MetaFilter is that we can have threads like the EL thread and that's only possible if the community and the mods actually work at the things that make this possible. One of those things is being sensitive and proactive about the concerns raised in this thread.

"Why would I put a disclaimer now about the state of the document several days ago? I'm seriously not being sassy here, I'm trying to make sure I'm not genuinely confused about the state of play. My understanding is that at this point the only people appearing in the document are people who have explicitly given their permission for such, either proactively in this thread or after having been contacted by oklima et al. If I'm misapprehending something here, please let me know."

Wasn't there a period of a couple of days after this was posed that the document hadn't yet been altered? I didn't think about these concerns until they were raised in this thread and had I been a mod, I'd have not done what I think the mods should have done. I didn't do it as a member of the community. But I think it's reasonable to expect that I and others and the mods had reacted differently. We can't change the past, but we can change the future and recognizing that we made a mistake in not being aware of these issues is how we do that.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 12:18 PM on January 11, 2016 [2 favorites]


My understanding is that at this point the only people appearing in the document are people who have explicitly given their permission for such, either proactively in this thread or after having been contacted by oklima et al. If I'm misapprehending something here, please let me know.

From what I've gathered in this thread, all of the quoted commenters have been contacted, but not everyone has responded, and comments from people who have not responded have still been left in the document. That is, it's being treated as an opt-out situation, rather than opt-in, which is still quite problematic to me.
posted by dialetheia at 12:26 PM on January 11, 2016


I believe that, according to the PDF, it has switched to fully opt-in by this point.
1/10/2016: Redacted entries of authors who have not yet responded to Olivia's request for positive confirmation of inclusion.
posted by CrystalDave at 12:33 PM on January 11, 2016 [3 favorites]


Which is to say that I think flex is right to ask why the immediate mod response wasn't to keep the post in the queue as they tried to contact oklima297 to ask about these concerns, and/or write an immediate comment when the thread was posted that raised these concerns.

It wasn't immediately obvious that there were such concerns, basically. I feel like the revelation after the fact that permission wasn't sought is creeping up the timeline somehow here to being something that was obvious before the fact to us and to the community here. My default assumption when folks from the MeFi community do something MeFi-related is that they're being conscientious about that stuff. So holding it in the queue or immediately commenting on use/permission issues didn't come up. Folks have historically been pretty good about that.

From what I've gathered in this thread, all of the quoted commenters have been contacted, but not everyone has responded, and comments from people who have not responded have still been left in the document. That is, it's being treated as an opt-out situation, rather than opt-in, which is still quite problematic to me.

That's not my understanding; from LM in a comment yesterday:
Also - looking at the PDF document, the credits section says that all the comments whose authors oklima297 wasn't able to reach have now been removed. So I think that means the document now just has comments where people have agreed to have them included.
If that's not the case, certainly someone let us know.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:33 PM on January 11, 2016 [1 favorite]


From what I've gathered in this thread, all of the quoted commenters have been contacted...

For the record, I had to contact the author. I was never contacted before, during or after.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 12:34 PM on January 11, 2016 [3 favorites]


"My default assumption when folks from the MeFi community do something MeFi-related is that they're being conscientious about that stuff. So holding it in the queue or immediately commenting on use/permission issues didn't come up. Folks have historically been pretty good about that."

Ah, I see. You have experience with this, so I accept that you have reasons to have made this assumption. I didn't -- it didn't even occur to me to think about it but if I had and when I did in this thread, I assumed that people hadn't been contacted. And although people have been good about this stuff, there's a fair bit of commentary in this thread that indicates that at least a portion of the community wouldn't have thought of the necessity to ask for permission beforehand. So clearly it's been a problem here and is a potential problem in the future.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 12:50 PM on January 11, 2016 [1 favorite]


I am a little surprised that people who felt like it was wrong didn't say anything earlier.

I've always had a strong feeling that MeFi-related stuff should stay on MeFi, as well as a firm belief that MeFites are fully responsible for their comments, both in terms of accountability and ownership. When I first saw this MeTa I had a visceral negative reaction, but kept my yap shut because I was completely uninvolved with the initial EL thread, and felt no ownership of it - the handful of comments here were mostly positive and seemed to be from folks who did participate in the EL discussion. Deoridhe's first comment gave me the impression it had some sort of community or participant mandate, and who was I, with no skin in the game, to criticize? My negative reaction increased when it came out that it was primarily the product of a non-MeFite; their intentions were good but it struck me as a co-option of people's voices and a commodification of their experiences, even if it wasn't for the material gain or personal benefit of the compiler. The positive and very much "Go community!" responses also lead me to assume if I were to articulate my negative take I'd have to put up with accusations that I was personally attacking those involved in production of the PDF, supporters of it, participants in the initial FPP, the concept of EL itself, or that I was trying to stifle discussion or shit on people's parade, and I just don't have the time, patience, spoons, etc., to deal with that sort of bunk these days.

It makes me feel bad; if I had been able to articulate my position sooner in a constructive manner, maybe some of the negative aspects of this MeTa could have been avoided or addressed sooner. Props to the folks who did speak up in the face of real or perceived pushback.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 1:19 PM on January 11, 2016 [11 favorites]


I think a mod note at the top of this thread might be appropriate:

"Note: After publication of the PDF referenced in this post, it came to our attention that a number of Metafilter members had serious concerns regarding copyright of its contents. We believe that the publisher of the document has addressed those concerns, however, if you are a member that is referenced in the document, please contact the publisher (or any of us via the contact form) so that your concerns are addressed as well. Thanks!"
posted by disclaimer at 1:24 PM on January 11, 2016 [5 favorites]


Hi folks - I am still here and reading attentively (have just been at work today so am now behind in a few replies). I've not jumped into the broader discussion about MeFi policy because I don't feel I can contribute usefully (though I have appreciated the opportunity to learn from it). I am still happy to respond to questions or concerns about this particular document.

To leahwrenn: thank you for the pointer to the old Word version; it has been taken down.

To dialetheia: others have already answered, but I do want to confirm that yes, comments by authors from whom I did not receive a response were deleted, so all remaining comments have permissions.

To yes-I-said-yes-I-will-yes: you did not receive a message from me because you had already disabled the account you used to post, so I had no way to message you. You did reach out to me, which solved that problem; had you not done so, I would have removed your comments as a precaution (per the above "opt-in" process that posters here requested). Since you and I have already spoken at length in MeMail, I understand you are still upset (quite reasonably so). I'm not sure what I can add to what I have already said here, but if it helps answer your request for a "why": I didn't reach out to posters before creating the pdf because it honestly did not occur to me that I should do so. I thought the pdf followed in the spirit of other contributors on the thread itself who created whole-thread-pdfs, shared the thread with loved ones, and mentioned loved ones wanting a summary (despite the ironically large burden of such a task). I do not offer this reasoning as a justification, merely an explanation, since I think that's what you are asking for. I fully acknowledge that was a lamentable oversight. I also understand that reparation takes time and effort and is never fully restorative. As I've said before, please let me know if there is anything else I can do. For now, I'm mainly focused on looking online to see where old versions may be to request replacement (most references I find are fortunately links, so automatically go to the new version).
posted by oklima297 at 1:33 PM on January 11, 2016 [43 favorites]


oklima297, out of curiosity, it appears that the PDF linked at the top of the thread (and which you've been updating) is owned/hosted by/on someone else's Google account. I hope I'm not being too much of a dick if I ask who that person is and if he is aware of the discussion going on here? Having final authority over the doc owned by someone not involved in this conversation could make the whole thing moot.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:37 PM on January 11, 2016 [5 favorites]


shakespeherian: "I hope I'm not being too much of a dick if I ask who that person is and if he is aware of the discussion going on here?"

This is available in the google drive link. I'm not going to post the information here, but you can find it by looking at the document's metadata.
posted by boo_radley at 2:05 PM on January 11, 2016


How does looking at the document's metadata give information about whether the document owner is aware of the discussion here?
posted by Lexica at 2:13 PM on January 11, 2016


See, I still hate cards (wasting trees, I never know what to write in them, the ones I like either puzzle or offend people). But I am texting my family more. And at holiday gatherings, I resolved to go in less armed for bear because of our differing politics and more hey, I love you, are you ok? And my siblings told me some really good and also heartrending things that I didn't know about their lives. We got a little teary. It was really good. And it was at least partially due to the emotional labor thread because even if they make me crazy I love them and I decided to strengthen that connection.

(I am a lady, but not one who has always been good at this stuff. The thread was not just good for guys).
posted by emjaybee at 2:20 PM on January 11, 2016 [4 favorites]


How does looking at the document's metadata give information about whether the document owner is aware of the discussion here?

Last page of the document has Chapter 7: Credits. Subsection E states edits and redactions have been made by the document owner.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 2:29 PM on January 11, 2016


I guess maybe what I'm asking isn't so much what the fellow's name is but what his relationship is to this whole thing, since he owns the doc and appears to have final say over its contents but hasn't shown up here, as far as I'm aware, and I'm not sure what the relationship is between Crone Island, oklima297, and this person, and that is making me uneasy about things in general.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:40 PM on January 11, 2016 [11 favorites]


I follow you there, shakespeherian, and it's something I hope we can sorted out in a clear way going forward here.

That said, in the interest of trying not to make the privacy/identity complications of this whole situation any more numerous, probably best to sort of leave it at that in here for now and anyone with more specific concerns or questions about specific absent-from-the-thread/site parties consider dropping us a line at the contact form.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:44 PM on January 11, 2016


I contacted the mod team at 7:20 am on 1/8 GMT+9 (so that's 5:20pm 1/7 EST--) asking about this and received responses from Lobstermitten and Jeremy Preacher that it was nothing to worry about.

(timeline, fwiw)
posted by Joseph Gurl at 2:50 PM on January 11, 2016


>I've always had a strong feeling that MeFi-related stuff should stay on MeFi

As have I, and I remember thinking--a year or two ago when a (very popular but controversy-courting, now-buttoned) Mefite was tweeting about comments here, singling people out and deriding them--that this sort of thing would have to come to a head sometime soon. Here we are, I guess.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 2:53 PM on January 11, 2016


I contacted the mod team at 7:20 am on 1/8 GMT+9 (so that's 5:20pm 1/7 EST--) asking about this and received responses from Lobstermitten and Jeremy Preacher that it was nothing to worry about.

I don't want to put you on the spot re: posting an email exchange, but you're sorta putting us on the spot by summarizing it here like that. You asked a brief, general question about "that sort of thing" regarding the use of MetaFilter content, and got a couple of answers about where our concerns are about use and intent in a pretty abstract context, all of that before the primary concerns here about specific user permission and privacy/safety worries had become the prevailing focus of the thread in progress.

Which, if that's what you were trying to communicate here, cool, just feels like kind of an oblique way to broach it and weird timing. Given how fraught and more complicated the stuff discussed in the ensuing days has been, "asked about this...[they said] it was nothing to worry about" isn't really clear about what it's implying was asked or signed off on.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:10 PM on January 11, 2016 [2 favorites]


But it's important to understand that the absolutely wrong response to that, to someone (in relative terms) somewhat aggressively expressing their hurt, is to say or do anything that implies you're trying to manage their response, to minimize what they feel, and the like.

Perhaps this is because my experience, identity, and self are all deeply intersectional in ways I have discussed before in other threads, but while I agree in spirit, I need to assert here that I also am allowed my own boundaries and ethics. There are occasions, like right now, where pursuing what you seem to assert is the only right response (which seems to be expressing unconditional and unreserved support), would put me at an extreme disadvantage and also violate several needful and non-negotiable boundaries for me. So while I am not unsupportive, I also find I cannot, in this instance, be unconditionally supportive. I have extended the absolute maximum amount of support I find I am able to give, and I regret that it is not enough for some, but I am also not sorry. Because being sorry would violate my necessary boundaries.
posted by kalessin at 3:29 PM on January 11, 2016 [5 favorites]


Yeah, that's what I was trying to communicate, Cortex--I didn't think it was a very big deal, and don't have "skin in the game," and I dropped it. I was fully satisfied with Jeremy and Lobstermitten's responses. I just wanted to show how early this got on the radar and how it just didn't seem like the thing it later became--I don't mean to ascribe blame or put you on the spot, and I definitely understand how my comment could seem that way. Sorry about that.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 3:45 PM on January 11, 2016


I imagine one retort is that the exposure isn't more than what had already happened by writing the comments to the thread. That argument was made above. But even setting aside what's already been pointed out -- that a 350,000 word thread is quite different from a much shorter document -- there's the case that this compiled document, hosted elsewhere and promulgated across various channels including Facebook, is a difference in kind, it's a different sort of thing. It's quite different from the forum in which people wrote their comments. It's a different context.

There's a parallel I've been thinking about to this - from the three-letter agencies, sometimes called classification by compilation (or aggregation[PDF])
Classification by compilation is an aggregation of pre-existing unclassified items of information. The compiled information may be classified if it reveals an additional association or relationship that meets the standards for classification and is not otherwise revealed in the individual items of information. Bringing together information that is already classified from more than one source document is not a compilation; it is derivative classification. However, information from multiple sources that is already classified at one level may result in a higher level of classification when it is compiled.
another PDF from Oak Ridge (via FAS)*. Just because any individual piece of information is harmless or meaningless, the act of collecting, filtering, and compiling them turns them into something that is more valuable, and potentially more damaging - especially as it's in a format designed to be disseminated - as expectation of level of damage (or sensitivity) is the basis for security classifications.

* Oak Ridge, or DoE, argues that inherently unclass info put together should never becomes classified, since that implies that classified info could be broken down into unclass components and lose protections. opposed to this, DoD argues unclass info, put together in the right way, can generate classified conclusions, and so these agglomerations should be classified itself. DoE thinks this means that unclass was incorrectly marked in the first place. Personally I agree with DoD, in a sort of "curious incident of the dog in the night-time" way of thinking.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 4:27 PM on January 11, 2016 [23 favorites]


I fully acknowledge that was a lamentable oversight.

No. A lamentable oversight is leaving your coffee on the car hood and driving off.

Creating and publishing this PDF without permission was an action that exposed people in a very public way. Adding an element of insult to injury, you did all of this as a non-member. You were never part of the original EF discussion so it's especially unpleasant that as a Metafilter outsider, you took it upon yourself to take the work of others , edit and put it on the internet without anyone's permission.

Calling this a lamentable oversight indicates that you're not entirely aware of the gravity of your action.

And with that, I'm out.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 8:28 AM on January 12, 2016 [5 favorites]


Thanks to everyone who's been working on voicing and balancing everyone's different needs in this situation. I appreciate it.
posted by brainwane at 8:39 AM on January 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


But I am a little surprised that people who felt like it was wrong didn't say anything earlier.

This metatalk thread was the first I've heard of it, and I use Mefi like it's my job. I've probably seen literally everything that's been posted on all of the subsites consistently for years, excepting Thanksgiving break.
posted by odinsdream at 9:17 AM on January 12, 2016 [8 favorites]


So yea I think it's really surprising that nobody from the original project thought to bring it up in MetaTalk, if there's membership crossover. It only seems to have ended up here because of a coincidence.
posted by odinsdream at 9:18 AM on January 12, 2016 [7 favorites]


You were never part of the original EF discussion so it's especially unpleasant that as a Metafilter outsider, you took it upon yourself to take the work of others , edit and put it on the internet without anyone's permission.

I have to say I agree with this. Not to be all insider/outsider or anything, but it's especially weird that someone who wasn't even part of the discussion did this.
posted by sweetkid at 9:24 AM on January 12, 2016 [2 favorites]


Except people (MeFites?) in the Crone Island slack channels helped with editing/proofreading/organizing/revising/hosting the document. And were talking about it.

Or didn't know a thing, depending on what comment you read.

yes I said yes I will Yes buttoned. :(
posted by kimberussell at 9:36 AM on January 12, 2016 [8 favorites]


yes I said yes I will Yes buttoned. :(

Worth noting that is yes's second buttoning over this situation. They said upthread that they had disabled their previous account after being outed by a friend on facebook thanks to the pdf.
posted by zarq at 10:13 AM on January 12, 2016 [13 favorites]


I know I have become out of touch because I have absolutely zero idea what a "slack channel" is.
posted by Justinian at 10:51 AM on January 12, 2016 [2 favorites]


www.slack.com

Like irc, only far more sophisticated.
posted by zarq at 11:09 AM on January 12, 2016 [2 favorites]


Our intrepid former leader (mathowie) now works for them, btw.
posted by zarq at 11:10 AM on January 12, 2016 [2 favorites]


It's Line for grown-ups
posted by prize bull octorok at 11:10 AM on January 12, 2016


it appears that the PDF linked at the top of the thread (and which you've been updating) is owned/hosted by/on someone else's Google account

The person hosting the document is someone who, after it was written, helped with formatting and hosting on github. Oklima invited him to the Crone Island slack in order to co-ordinate this process, and although he's not otherwise an active member, he's been working with Oklima and a few other Crone Islanders in a private channel to complete the redaction work. It's only fair to point out that he was not as comfortable redacting the document as Oklima has been, but he has put the time in to get it done as fast as possible. Oklima has done extensive work in achieving consensus on this front. The requested edits could not have been achieved without his help.

Disclaimer: I have admin powers on Crone Island but I don't speak for Crone Island.
posted by emilyw at 12:24 PM on January 12, 2016 [9 favorites]


It's only fair to point out that he was not as comfortable redacting the document as Oklima has been, but he has put the time in to get it done as fast as possible. Oklima has done extensive work in achieving consensus on this front.

I just want to clarify to make sure I'm understanding this correctly - does that mean that this document is currently being hosted by someone who was hostile to the privacy concerns stated in this thread, and that he had to be convinced before these edits were made and these concerns were honored?
posted by dialetheia at 12:42 PM on January 12, 2016 [26 favorites]


/facepalm
posted by odinsdream at 12:47 PM on January 12, 2016 [3 favorites]


OK so yeah, the owner was kind of on the side of people here who were like "it's all on the internet anyway!" but he was willing to make the changes after a conversation with some Crone Islanders and wants to respect the authors' wishes.

Also, I feel like I should say here, I'm a long-time Mefite and I knew the pdf existed and the privacy concerns never even occurred to me, I feel really bad about it and am sorry for being dumb. I think this didn't occur to a lot of us who are now kicking ourselves and are grateful to the ppl who are speaking up. I guess a lot of us on Crone Island knew it was out there, but had no idea it was getting spread so far, so quickly. I'm really, really sorry this happened.
posted by leesh at 12:58 PM on January 12, 2016 [19 favorites]


Despite my limitations, I am also very, very sorry this happened.
posted by kalessin at 1:02 PM on January 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


I don't know if it's actually worth reopening this can of worms, but I do feel like there are some people who are still really unsatisfied with the way this went down and after a lengthy read of the thread last night I find myself siding with their concerns.

I'm frustrated with whoever the site members are who clearly worked on this. People are angry with oklima297 but she's the one who actually showed up to take personal responsibility for this and make changes, and she was not an existing member.

I think something like this document can potentially be a net good, but if you're going to create something like this you need to discuss it before it happens, and you need to discuss it on the actual site. And whoever controls the editing and access of this file needs to address the still-existing concerns that have been posed upthread.
posted by selfnoise at 1:22 PM on January 12, 2016 [3 favorites]


[dbr here - I've been following this discussion with interest and ponied up a fiver so I wouldn't have to bug the mods about reactivating my account just so I could close it again right away.]

I'm so unsettled by the implication that people who have zero intention of actually interacting with this community felt like copying and republishing our comments was A-OK Because Internet. I appreciate the fact that it must have taken a lot of time and effort to sort through everything and get it formatted all pretty, but the discussion? The reason people found that thread worth sorting through and formatting in the first place? That's our work. Those are our words. The "owner" is actually us, not whatever random dude is hosting the PDF on his Google Drive account. Just because something is on the internet doesn't make it public domain. Failing to note the existence of "All posts are © their original authors" and the FAQ doesn't automatically shunt this into fair use.

As flex observed earlier in the thread, deeply personal experiences are extremely valuable currency in this community. People find validation and enlightenment here that they aren't often able to find elsewhere. Speaking for myself, I've had my life changed, many times over, by what MeFites have written on the blue, green, and grey, not to mention the friendships I've made with folks who post here. But for random people who have no intention of chipping in by taking part in any discussions here to swoop in for no reason other than to copy what we've written in order to style and distribute it as some kind of educational tool, without even giving the content creators a heads-up, is ... shit, man, I don't even know. I do know we didn't ask for that.

What I wrote in the EL thread is hardly the most intimate or personal information I've posted here, and I'm seriously horrified by the realization that another random person could do the same thing with comments I've written about my experiences with intractable depression, familial estrangement, and much less savory topics than simply being annoyed with men for refusing to be aware of how much work it takes to run a household. So at the very least, no matter how much I've had my worldview shifted and my heart healed by what other people have shared here, I can thank this thread for making me realize that sharing my own experiences in this setting was ultimately not a smart or positive thing to do. Yeesh.
posted by amnesia and magnets at 1:25 PM on January 12, 2016 [55 favorites]


I do think it's pretty striking that the Mefites who worked so hard on this have not really come forward to identify themselves and talk about it. I sure understand why, given the response here, but it's a strange irony given how this issue turns on privacy or the lack thereof.

a & m, I so so wish you stick around...
posted by OmieWise at 1:29 PM on January 12, 2016 [10 favorites]


Yeah, leesh is correct. I'm another person who saw the pdf when it was new -- did not work on it -- and thought at the time that it was ok and didn't increase risk to the contributors. I was wrong to begin with, and when there were changes made to the doc like attribution links that, imo, made it worse from a privacy standpoint, I didn't know about them. It sucks and I am sorry.
posted by clavicle at 1:35 PM on January 12, 2016 [3 favorites]


the changing stories and lack of real transparency is stark up next to the way our privacy was never considered when creating the document
posted by nadawi at 1:37 PM on January 12, 2016 [8 favorites]


I think there's a disconnect between how we see this community and how a non-member could see it. I think it is obvious to us who have spent years here commenting, posting, interacting with other members that this is obviously a very special community with a very special group of people. However, to a non-member, the sense of community isn't obvious and this could look like another weblog site similar to reddit, and that whoever was participating in the EL thread were all strangers to each other. I totally understand the upset over this PDF and I think it is justified. I just think this unintentional disconnect could've been a reason that something like this happened.
posted by monologish at 1:40 PM on January 12, 2016 [4 favorites]


i totally agree, monologish - it just seems surprising to me the disconnect was fostered in a place that is metafilter adjacent...
posted by nadawi at 1:42 PM on January 12, 2016


Yep. My opinion has turned right around as this thread has progressed. I am not facing exposure to a stalker ex, or anything of that nature, but I am beginning to deeply regret my initial enthusiasm, and my agreement to be quoted in the document.
posted by skybluepink at 1:44 PM on January 12, 2016 [14 favorites]


The most unsettling thing is that it appears the document is solely editable by Hosting Dude. Is that incorrect?
posted by grumpybear69 at 1:47 PM on January 12, 2016 [4 favorites]


I'm frustrated with whoever the site members are who clearly worked on this

As I understand it, Oklima wrote this without any contributions from metafilter members besides the thread itself. I don't think that github-guy is a member, although I'm not 100% certain about that.
posted by emilyw at 1:48 PM on January 12, 2016


If, as I think I understand, the document that the PDF is generated from is the GitHub-hosted LibreOffice document, editing can be collaborative but the technique to achieve this is kind of a high learning curve unless you already understand LibreOffice and GitHub and are used to collaborating, through it, with strangers.

Hosting Guy would still hold ultimate authority for merging in changes that other people made, but Git/GitHub is designed to support a certain collaboration style and it works well within the framework.
posted by kalessin at 1:50 PM on January 12, 2016


to a non-member, the sense of community isn't obvious and this could look like another weblog site similar to reddit

For all I know, Reddit could have a sense of community as well, and we have had curated Reddit lists posted as FPPs here. I can see how, as leesh said up-thread, the privacy and exposure issues did not occur to even mefites who had a hand in it. They didn't occur to me until people in this thread starting voices their concerns.

I'm really sorry that what was such a great thread and moment of enlightenment for a lot of people, myself included, has been a bit tarnished by this incident. I myself didn't post anything very personal in the EL thread (partly because I experienced blowback in my personal life for a comment I had made elsewhere on the site and I more carefully choose my words now), but the experience of reading what everyone else wrote was so profound. I hate to think this will have a dampening effect.
posted by JenMarie at 1:53 PM on January 12, 2016 [10 favorites]


nearly all reddit curated stuff i've seen posted here is curated on reddit. i can't really keep track of the changing story, but it seems like right now everyone in the know is saying mefites didn't have a hand in it.
posted by nadawi at 1:59 PM on January 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


Though I participated in that thread, none of my comments were quoted in the condensed document.

I had, however, written a much more personal 700-word comment that I ultimately didn't post. Which I regretted. Now... not so much.

Count me among those saying that the way this was handled is very much Not Okay.
posted by the turtle's teeth at 2:00 PM on January 12, 2016 [4 favorites]


Nadawi, as far as I can tell, Mefites didn't have anything to do with the creation, but it was brought to Crone Island and we knew it existed.
posted by leesh at 2:13 PM on January 12, 2016


I've tried following along here as best I can but I can't watch people I care about talk to each other like this.

Yup. We have lost members. We are angry with one another. It's a difficult moment for this community. Tough to find a way forward when the temperature is so high (which may have its own unintended consequences).
posted by MonkeyToes at 2:14 PM on January 12, 2016 [2 favorites]


Many of the users who commented in the EL thread are also the ones who (along w the mods) put in considerable emotional labor over the past 10 years in various boyzone MeTas to get the site to a place where the EL thread could even happen. It's really sad irony that the thread that signaled, in many ways, the demise of the boyzone era, has led to many of those members feeling unsafe with continued membership or participation in the community.

Yes, the site is better for women now than it once was, but the internet is worse for women. Even for women who are not at a higher risk of harm due to personal circumstances (and, let's be clear, there are a lot of women who are at higher risk of harm due to abusive exes or family members). Any highlighting of your statements can at any time bring an MRA cabal down upon you, including rape and death threats, doxxing, swatting, or threatening your children. The community has moved forward in how it treats its women members and their contributions, but it may be time for larger structural changes that take into account how dangerous it is to be a woman (or PoC) on the internet now. Maybe this should be its own MeTa, but I think a good first step would be to remove profile pages (along with links to comment history, favorites, etc.) from view unless you're logged in (or at least provide the option). It's not a perfect solution - wrong-doers could always create an account - but let's not make the perfect the enemy of the good. A small roadblock is enough to stop a lot of bad actors. And it signals that if you want to see my history of contribution to the community, you have to actually join the community.
posted by melissasaurus at 2:16 PM on January 12, 2016 [44 favorites]


I'm sorry but I just do not buy the "outsiders don't know our customs and ways" thing. I follow a few technical forums. It would be way out of line for me to make some kind of similar effort, say pulling all the comments about a certain circuit design, and not ask permission before doing so. Frankly, using the false equivalency of public=public domain strikes me as especially rude given the nature of the contents being ripped off (yes, that is the correct way to view the original document) from their rights-holders. Mefi is not some little corner of the internet where people care about copyrights in opposition to everywhere else. If anything, we're probably more saavy and permissive about them than elsewhere. No, the issue is that we're being talked over in an especially troubling way, as if we shouldn't dare to point out these rights have been violated because that's just such an impolite thing to accuse someone of.
posted by odinsdream at 2:32 PM on January 12, 2016 [12 favorites]


I've dug through the history of both the Crone Island slack and also the Google Group, and I can confirm that the annotated PDF in its earliest form was brought in by oklima as a fait accompli. It was not edited as a group initiative. It also did not receive any major critical commentary in the past several months from users on either the Google Group or the Slack, although I know that flex had concerns that she did not speak up strongly about because she didn't think it was intended for wide-spread sharing. I think there were many miscommunications made during the creation and sharing of the documents, miscommunications that were compounded across many people.

I am an admin on Crone Island, as are a lot of people. The people talking about how the Crone Island slack is an amorphous, non-hierarchical IRC-style cluster are not exaggerating. I was made an admin early on primarily so that I could invite people who wanted in. That was actually one of the advantages of making this a slack--it wasn't indexed by Google, so it was a more private place to have discussions. But because people wanted invites in large numbers at the time, admin status on Crone Island was very loosely decided at the time and it is still very informal. I can say, as an admin, that no effort to add to this document, choose comments, contact users, or seek out hosting was done as an official Crone Island initiative.

I confess that I have not read this MeTa in depth, because I was on a bit of a break from MeFi when it came up and then it was enormous. But I know some of the broad strokes. I know that people I care a lot about and respect greatly are hurting and leaving the community. I am ashamed of myself for not seeing these things and noticing them when the original sharing happened. I have been one of the primary people talking about the Crone Island slack and promoting it on the grey, and I posted the original thread, and I was and am so, so proud of what that emotional labor discussion became. I was so proud of having played a small role in something that was so good, and while I didn't post the PDF around--every time I linked the EL thread in my own off-MeFi social media, I linked the thread directly because I was proud, and knowing I was identifiable in those comments too--I can see myself having done so, because I was so excited about how good that discussion was and wanted to show off how helpful it was. I did not think about the consequences to Mefites who had made their comments in the understanding that the discussion was intra-community only.

I am horrified and saddened by the harm that publicly sharing like that has done to my community. It was thoughtlessness, but thoughtlessness doesn't mitigate the effects of actions, you know?
posted by sciatrix at 2:36 PM on January 12, 2016 [37 favorites]


For all I know, Reddit could have a sense of community as well

Most of reddit- maybe the vast majority- doesn't. Buzzfeed et al constantly excerpt the parts of reddit that try to generate humor etc. and redditors know it. There are some places on reddit where people are more vulnerable and the material more fraught; someone giving the condensed-PDF treatment to /r/wtf (!) would not be treading in the same ethical waters as doing it to /r/suicidewatch. But that's very much the exception.
posted by Jpfed at 2:41 PM on January 12, 2016


Thanks, Jpfed . I only ever go to Reddit to find cute animal gifs, so I'm pretty unfamiliar with the culture/norms of the place.
posted by JenMarie at 2:44 PM on January 12, 2016


I wasn't trying to excuse the incident or say it's impolite to be mad. I totally agree that this did not go down the right way. What I said was only a response to the comments that couldn't understand how someone in their right mind could possibly have done this. I think we all know now that the intent was not malicious rather just ignorance. I was just trying to find some logical explanation to the ignorance.
posted by monologish at 2:45 PM on January 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


I can say, as an admin, that no effort to add to this document, choose comments, contact users, or seek out hosting was done as an official Crone Island initiative.

Why is the finished doc the first time this was brought to MetaFilter? I am uncomfortable with the idea that Crone Island acted as a stand-in for the site as a whole (and why did oklima go there instead of here first?). Bringing the whole "hey, we're making a doc out of the thread!" thing to the community as a whole would have brought these concerns up a lot earlier.
posted by everybody had matching towels at 2:48 PM on January 12, 2016 [11 favorites]


I think a good first step would be to remove profile pages (along with links to comment history, favorites, etc.) from view unless you're logged in (or at least provide the option). It's not a perfect solution - wrong-doers could always create an account - but let's not make the perfect the enemy of the good.

AMEN.
posted by grumpybear69 at 3:03 PM on January 12, 2016 [9 favorites]


Given the response to the mefi2book thread, I think it's understandable that the dangers of compilation just never occurred to MeFi users on Crone Island. There isn't much there addressing the more nefarious potential uses of the script.
posted by klarck at 3:12 PM on January 12, 2016 [3 favorites]


I want to note/reiterate that while I am currently a member of Crone Island, and I joined because of this thread, I was not part of the original EL thread or the review of the GitHub/PDF document.

I remain in this thread as an interested party not only because of my long-time MeFi membership but also because the EL PDF is invaluable for me to use in activism, assuming it will remain usable in some form. Also to provide some tech guidance/answers. But I have no idea who the unnamed parties are in Crone Island who helped with the development of the document.

I also remain sorry for how it went down. It sucks.
posted by kalessin at 3:15 PM on January 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


I think a good first step would be to remove profile pages (along with links to comment history, favorites, etc.) from view unless you're logged in (or at least provide the option). It's not a perfect solution - wrong-doers could always create an account - but let's not make the perfect the enemy of the good.

AMEN.


thirded
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 3:19 PM on January 12, 2016 [7 favorites]


When crone island was first founded, i registered and then asked for admin powers so i could invite some people. I'd previously helped out with Lyn Never's hosted offsite group, but the slack had a much better interface and was better suited to conversations.

So I became an admin much the same way sciatrix did. And then when i tried to give back the admin hat, was told, "keep it if you want it." So, being the power mad megalomaniac that I am, I kept admin status.

But I don't have any interest in being a mod, anywhere. So I've basically done nothing with the power. In fact, I've only been minimally active over there for months. I read a few threads here and there but rarely comment and haven't kept up with any but the threads I'm interested in following. First I heard of the EL document was this post.

I've been following the conversation about this incident for the last 24 hours in the admin channel. My limited understanding of the situation agrees with sciatrix.

Anyway. I think I can give some understanding of how CI's admins are organized, if that would be helpful:

There are somewhere between 15 and 20 admins. Some are completely inactive. A few, like me, are completely hands-off. The rest are relatively active. They seem to participate in discussions, etc and pitch in wherever they can.

The admins do not have a hierarchy, a leader or leaders. Moderation is loose and unorganized. They're basically a pool of people who can be called on when someone has a question or needs a hand. The admin "interface" says no member's account is restricted or banned -- I assume the disharmony and difficulties that pop up here so often either don't happen there, or they do and aren't addressed by the mod team.

Or maybe I'm just out of the loop. Who knows. Obviously this is all very different from Mefi. But their community has different needs and goals than we do.
posted by zarq at 3:19 PM on January 12, 2016 [6 favorites]


"Nefarious purposes"* is not an accurate representation of the concerns that have been voiced here. The two concerns are that users' voices have been appropriated without their consent, and that users' internet visibility has been raised without their consent. Neither of those implies intentional misdeed on the part of the people who created or distributed the document, which "nefarious" certainly does.

I'm stressing this point because there has already been enough misunderstanding of those concerns without adding to the confusion by assigning malice (even in the name of mildly humorous exaggeration.)
posted by gingerest at 3:20 PM on January 12, 2016 [6 favorites]


Just want to weigh in as another voice that I would love to see something like melissasaurus's suggestions for profile pages implemented, with the input of community members with privacy concerns, just to provide at least a low barrier for doxxing. I am sure the mod team doesn't have the bandwidth for this right now, but maybe it could happen as a longer-term project (I am willing to chuck more money in the pot if it would help and I'm sure others would too). These stories and this community have made a major difference in my life (thank you, jaguar, if you're listening) and it is important to be able to keep the most vulnerable voices heard.
posted by thetortoise at 3:21 PM on January 12, 2016 [5 favorites]


* Should read "uses" not "purposes", and I am quoting klarck above. (Trying to be scrupulous about not abusing "edit" but also having a rather pedantic morning)
posted by gingerest at 3:23 PM on January 12, 2016


But I have no idea who the unnamed parties are in Crone Island who helped with the development of the document.

My understanding, from speaking to Oklima earlier, is that the Crone Island members who were involved in the creation were Oklima herself (who joined after she had created it) and github-guy, who was invited over to help co-ordinate some formatting and publishing details. There is not any as-yet-undisclosed group, either of mefites or of islanders, who helped created this but who have been keeping quiet throughout this whole thing for whatever reason.
posted by emilyw at 3:26 PM on January 12, 2016 [6 favorites]


"However, to a non-member, the sense of community isn't obvious and this could look like another weblog site similar to reddit, and that whoever was participating in the EL thread were all strangers to each other."

This is a red herring. What wasn't right about this is not simply and exclusively a function of "community". What goes into "community" and its size and such play a role, sure. But the bottom line here is:
  1. This was a copyright violation. Collecting and republishing a substantial portion of the EL thread is well outside fair use. Just because something is on the internet doesn't mean it isn't subject to copyright protections and therefore you can do whatever you want with it. In the US, we do have fair use exemptions but this goes well beyond them. So completely aside from the ethical concerns about privacy and harm, this project was fundamentally broken from the beginning in that permissions weren't sought and even when mefites learned of this and had months of being aware of it, no one apparently considered this. The person currently hosting the content apparently believes that he wasn't violating copyright before the permissions and redactions because "it was on the internet".  
  2. Taking people's sensitive personal stories and sharing them without their permission into venues outside of where they intended and, especially, to audiences much larger than they intended, is insensitive and potentially very harmful. It doesn't matter whether MetaFilter is a long-lived, tight-knit community, or if reddit allegedly is not. What matters is that in all such cases the very first thing someone should do who considers such a project is to ask permission... because they're aware of this potential harm. But it didn't occur to this person to do so, it didn't occur to many people who learned about it later to do so, and it didn't occur to many of us when we first read this post to do so. It's totally reasonable that the author and pretty much everyone else thought of this as small-scale, to a very small number of people relative to those who read the original thread. But by the time of The Mary Sue piece and this post, it was obvious that this wasn't the case. People have reported that it had escaped into to the wilds of Facebook months ago.
This isn't about outsider's expectations or educating people about MetaFilter. What was done here would be wrong elsewhere, including if the original discussion had appeared in a subreddit.

"Given the response to the mefi2book thread, I think it's understandable that the dangers of compilation just never occurred to MeFi users on Crone Island. There isn't much there addressing the more nefarious potential uses of the script."

I thought about that, too, but I think it's important to consider that the mefi2book thing is something where the end product is going to go to only a very few people. There are still some concerns. But I think most of the really important issues raised in this case are ones that have a lot to do with specifically intimate and sensitive comments that were collated into a document that was made available online externally to MetaFilter, and widely so. Although many people want to make this some sort of black-or-white thing, the truth is that the concerns we should have are related to potential harm, and that is a function of the combination of several things which vary. This is, unfortunately, on the more extreme side of being problematic.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 3:28 PM on January 12, 2016 [16 favorites]


I am sure the mod team doesn't have the bandwidth for this right now, but maybe it could happen as a longer-term project

I think having a separate conversation it down the road a bit is probably the best plan, yeah; it's something we could brainstorm and talk about some but it'd probably be easier to manage all around if it came with a little breathing room after this, and in any case it has been (even all this aside) a pretty busy last several days on the site so we could use a little break on new complicated stuff for sure.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:39 PM on January 12, 2016 [5 favorites]


Ok, I'll work on a MeTa for a later date - people can memail me with comments/questions/additional suggestions for that. Or, if someone else wants to take ownership of this, please feel free to do so.
posted by melissasaurus at 4:06 PM on January 12, 2016 [8 favorites]


Honestly, given the amount of bad will this document has caused, plus the fact that the person hosting the document is an unknown and - from the looks of it - untrustable quantity, it may be time to take this document down. I'm aware that there are local versions flying about and it won't erase every copy ever, but it's a start.
posted by divabat at 5:27 PM on January 12, 2016 [7 favorites]


I am another regularly-active admin on the Crone Island Slack. I helped set up the Slack as a group of people interested in having a Crone Island were figuring out a home in the days after The Thread. I am only speaking on my own behalf, however - as noted earlier Crone Island is a fairly loosely-organized conglomeration.

I haven't come forward earlier due to travel and being in the midst of a job change, so I have had very little availability over the last few weeks.

I, too, saw the desire for a condensed version as a EL primer while reading the original thread. Like many, I did not have the bandwidth to put in the EL to create my own excerpts for my husband and other loved ones, although I had my own favorite comments and statements that hit especially hard. The Thread unfortunately closed before I read through everything and was able to post my own responses and realizations.

Once oklima297's condensed version was posted, I opened it once and browsed through the Table of Contents, and then closed it. I was glad that something like it existed - people were praising it so I assumed the rest of it was as well-done as the TOC, but I didn't personally use or share it.

After all, I had read the entirety of The Thread, so I didn't need to re-see the content, right?

Unfortunately, the people most at-risk are once again the people who can least afford it.

I'm deeply sorry for my actions and inactions that contributed to so many people suffering.
posted by bookdragoness at 5:44 PM on January 12, 2016 [5 favorites]


imo, it should have been taken down right after the first concerns were raised. The reasons for NOT doing that confound me. Even after all the 'splaining I still don't get why those involved in this didn't pull the document until an understanding could be worked out. What harm could have come from that?! vs. The harm that has occurred since then and is still happening?
posted by futz at 5:44 PM on January 12, 2016 [2 favorites]


Futz, it's the same harm that could come from pulling it now: Removing a highly linked document that we can edit leaves only cached versions out there, and people with broken links searching for them. That is why I opted for fast live-editing rather than pulling. With the document still live, edits can be made, but the links still work seamlessly to the new version, so do not drawing anyone's attention to the fact that changes were made at all. That is very important to maintaining safety.
posted by oklima297 at 5:51 PM on January 12, 2016 [25 favorites]


Oklima, I continue to be very impressed by your willingness to engage here. I think it really speaks well for your commitments, even if we do not agree about everything. Thanks.
posted by OmieWise at 6:47 PM on January 12, 2016 [23 favorites]


Brilliant, melissasaurus, very much behind that.

As careful as I try to be on here, I'm not anywhere as cautious as I'd like and probably ought to be. (I've been a member of a few private communities - which were essential in helping me through some challenging times, much like MF can be for people - and have a hard time shaking the habit of self-disclosure developed there, especially when there is the subjective feeling of privacy (or a wish to find it) suggested by a community as strong as this one. Especially given the frequency of discussions about deeply personal concerns, like identity, illness - well, the things that tend to matter to people - and the preference for people to situate commentary in personal experience, rather than state baldly authoritative declarations absent that kind of context (lest one sound overly splainy). Disclosure is part of the exchange of good faith, here. But Miko's absolutely right, everything we put out is available to anyone to read, it's important to remember.

(And easy to forget. I think I'm not the only one who forgets, at times; it's a dissonance thing, as much as a risk calculation, I think. Check out NPR 's writeup of a Carnegie Mellon study called "I Regretted the Minute I Pressed Share," [pdf]. My solution to potential FaceBook regrets is just to lurk more than I post. Not sure that's a strategy that benefits the community here [if more people than me take it up, I mean].)

Other than making profile histories only visible to members, there's always the possibility of letting people delete posts and comments a la Reddit (probably my preference, though I get that that's not preferred here, given the value placed on legacy and investing in personal identities through comment histories. Which, I think it's worth noting, people get around, practically through the use of sock puppets and BNDs. In other words, there's a need for that, on some level.). Some forums allow OPs to decide in advance whether a particular post will be private/protected or publicly searchable. No idea about feelings on that or even technical constraints. That's just what I've seen happen around some sensitive forums, and I've appreciated it in all cases. I like participating here, but have always felt uneasy about how permanent and public our output is.

Very sad to see jaguar go, that's a massive loss. Understand why she did.
posted by cotton dress sock at 1:32 AM on January 13, 2016 [17 favorites]


I like participating here, but have always felt uneasy about how permanent and public our output is.

Yeah, that's what makes this complicated. As someone who was a longtime lurker who became a member just over a year ago, it was the public nature of all that output that drew me to it and eventually sold me on actually participating. So in terms of the longevity and vitality of the community (i.e., its ability to attract new blood), that's something to think about.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 8:30 AM on January 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


Allowing users to delete or hide posts or comments would leave the site wide open for instability and potential abuse. Also, that's what mods are for. Allowing users to control the visibility level of their own information - including comment history - strikes a good balance.
posted by grumpybear69 at 8:52 AM on January 13, 2016 [4 favorites]


MetaFilter is indexed by Google (aside from profile pages), meaning every comment is searchable. There is literally nothing you could do (barring deleting comments or un-indexing the site) that would stop someone from getting your comment history. It took me less than 5 seconds, and a single try, to come up with a Google query that would give you every comment by a given user (with the only possible edge case being noise from usernames that are subsets of other usernames).

Probably more to the point, we're at the stage of this meta where (like many long, contentious metas) people are throwing out feature ideas into the hole that's been left behind as most of the energy has seeped out of the thread. This is probably not particularly productive. If you have a feature idea that you think is worth discussing, you will likely get a lot more of a useful response from thinking it through, and then writing it up as its own meta, as opposed to trying to workshop it here.
posted by tocts at 9:01 AM on January 13, 2016 [3 favorites]


I know that the MeTa has wound down now, so I'm hesitant to even bring this back up, and I don't want to sound shirty, but when it comes to not drawing attention to the fact that changes have been made to the document, supposedly for safety purposes, there's been a change log on the last page of the PDF explicitly noting when, why, and what kind of edits -- "redactions as requested by the original authors" -- have been made from the get-go, so that ship has (intentionally) long since sailed.

Assuming permission has now been sought and granted for everything that's still there, is there a reason that "All posts are © their original authors" hasn't been added? Considering both the person who compiled the document and the person hosting the document made sure to credit themselves, along with the person who wrote the article that kicked off the FPP, with their full, real names, it seems like the right thing to do. I understand that the authors' copyright was ignored/overlooked in the first place Because Internet, but I still feel like it's important to acknowledge the fact that in spite of the way the PDF was compiled, the republished content isn't actually public domain (unless explicitly removing the existing copyright was part and parcel of the permission-seeking process).
posted by amnesia and magnets at 9:37 AM on January 13, 2016 [20 favorites]


Allowing users to delete or hide posts or comments would leave the site wide open for instability and potential abuse.

I dunno about that. Depends on what you mean by "stability", and how deletions or hiding are managed (depends on a lot of things). I sort of think that if our comments are our own, we ought to be able to disappear them for whatever reasons we feel are compelling. But yeah, need to think that through a bit more.

Also, that's what mods are for.

Our mods usually very graciously and kindly do this for us when we ask, this is true. Still, there are some comments I'd probably like to take back and it would be weird to ask about that at this point.

So in terms of the longevity and vitality of the community (i.e., its ability to attract new blood), that's something to think about.

Yeah, good point. Although, not every post is going to naturally attract the kinds of intimate revelations that come out with some subjects; there's still great discussion that happens with e.g. some posts about politics, art, sundry happenings.

Allowing users to control the visibility level of their own information - including comment history - strikes a good balance.

I do like this solution, agreed. (I'd obviously personally like to go even further, but I appreciate that not everyone might.)

If you have a feature idea that you think is worth discussing, you will likely get a lot more of a useful response from thinking it through, and then writing it up as its own meta, as opposed to trying to workshop it here.

Yeah, sorry. Melissasaurus did talk about starting another Meta about this, would be up for that.
posted by cotton dress sock at 10:03 AM on January 13, 2016 [2 favorites]


Hi, I've been reading this thread since yesterday with growing concern and the fact that this document is more or less in the hands of Some Dude who is not engaging with the community and can basically ignore all further input if the fancy strikes is just Not Good. I understand the need for this person arose due to the need of technical savvy, but reading that he had to be convinced to listen to privacy concerns is another strike and I would really, really, really prefer if his involvement in this whole thing was slowly (or rapidly) eliminated. I apologize if I'm missing something that requires his and only his continued control over this document.
posted by erratic meatsack at 10:10 AM on January 13, 2016 [16 favorites]


I'm perfectly willing to accept that I'm alone in this, but I still think the document should just be taken down or replaced with a blank until community members concerns are satisfied. For me it's less of a security thing (there's no evidence I can see that there has been a backlash from the usual doofuses over the doc yet) and more of a "don't be an asshole" thing.

At the very least, I think all user names should be stripped from it. I can't see what purpose they serve there anyway.
posted by selfnoise at 10:17 AM on January 13, 2016 [2 favorites]


You're not alone selfnoise. I think it should be taken down.
posted by sweetkid at 10:20 AM on January 13, 2016


Unless I am mistaken, the only comments listed currently in the document are from people who were contacted, and consented. What would the purpose of taking the document down be, at this point? Who would be served by this? And does your discomfort with how the document was created trump the rights of those who consented to be included?
posted by tocts at 10:21 AM on January 13, 2016 [2 favorites]


Oops, I just thought about the username thing and given the additional copyright issues that actually isn't feasible.
posted by selfnoise at 10:22 AM on January 13, 2016


I'm curious why you think it should be taken down if all the comments that remain have permission granted by the commenters? I'm not trying to be argumentative, just wondering if there's a reason I haven't thought of.
posted by JenMarie at 10:22 AM on January 13, 2016 [2 favorites]


"For me it's less of a security thing (there's no evidence I can see that there has been a backlash from the usual doofuses over the doc yet) and more of a "don't be an asshole" thing."

The problem is that it's been linked all over the place. As soon as the document is taken down, all those will be broken. What will probably happen then is that someone or multiple someones will "helpfully" make the copy they've saved available online and then it's more out of control than it is now and, worse, those copies are likely to be older and before the redactions. The big problem is that links to the Google Docs version have been propagated all over the place but a great many times that people have followed those links, they've downloaded the document. We don't want those downloaded versions to start appearing everywhere.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 10:23 AM on January 13, 2016 [4 favorites]


I've seen this scenario repeated several times but is there actually evidence of this? Is the document so explosively popular that people are going to go to these lengths to perpetuate it? It does seem like a great justification for keeping the document up if that's the goal.

I'm curious why you think it should be taken down if all the comments that remain have permission granted by the commenters? I'm not trying to be argumentative, just wondering if there's a reason I haven't thought of.

I'm not totally comfortable speaking for more directly affected people, several of whom have disabled their accounts, but the existence of the document spreads the awareness of the thread in the wider world in a way that I would imagine they would not be comfortable with regardless of whether their specific comments are included. But I would also just suggest re-reading the thread as I think it's pointless to reargue this stuff again, particularly since I didn't post in that thread and am not directly affected.
posted by selfnoise at 10:46 AM on January 13, 2016 [5 favorites]


Ivan Fyodorovich: "
The problem is that it's been linked all over the place. As soon as the document is taken down, all those will be broken.
"

In my software-engineer's mind, "broken links" is a trifiling issue.

However, if your concern is that people disseminate their local copies, then I would, if I were in charge of this Clusterfuck Rodeo, replace the existing document with a note explaining what happened and 1) why it's not available, 2) why it's a concern to continue propagation the document and 3) it might be super-cool if you deleted local copies.

erratic meatsack: " this document is more or less in the hands of Some Dude who is not engaging with the community "
This is probably the weirdest part to me.

~=* If the document maintainer wants a mefi account but can't afford one please hit me up on twitter and I'll set one up for you. *=~
posted by boo_radley at 11:00 AM on January 13, 2016 [10 favorites]


> I've seen this scenario repeated several times but is there actually evidence of this?

Oh yes, I've totally seen that happen before. A document that was online before, then disappeared; 'fortunately', someone had it saved and put a mirror online, which was then totally beyond the control of the person who previously hosted the original. And that's the problem.

> In my software-engineer's mind, "broken links" is a trifiling issue.


Not if it causes mirrored versions to pop up.
posted by Too-Ticky at 11:02 AM on January 13, 2016 [2 favorites]


"In my software-engineer's mind, 'broken links' is a trifiling issue."

No, it's a concern only in that it will spur people to make their saved copies available. To wit:

"Is the document so explosively popular that people are going to go to these lengths to perpetuate it?"

It seems to me that if there were a good candidate for this happening, this particular case would be it. It has been explosively popular -- it's been passed around on Facebook by people unrelated to CI for months and with things like The Mary Sue piece, that's now even more the case. As to the motivation of someone doing this, I think there's an unusually high motivation -- people have described the EL thread and this document as life-changing. That's why it's been passed around so much. So if the links were broken, then I think there'd be a high chance that the people enthusiastic about it would make their copies available.

You seem very suspicious of the argument and the motives for presenting it -- but I'd have been strongly in favor of taking the document down earlier if I didn't think this would be a problem. I fear it would have made things much worse. And I also share some of the concerns about where the document is currently hosted -- I think it makes more sense for oklima297 to have complete control of it, or at least, someone other than the current person who doesn't seem interested in engaging with this community about these concerns. So if there were a solution that wouldn't risk pushing this into a worse and uncontrollable state, I'd be all in favor of that, too.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 11:03 AM on January 13, 2016 [2 favorites]


If the document maintainer wants a mefi account but can't afford one please hit me up on twitter and I'll set one up for you

I'm going to guess paying five dollars to be told you are a piece of shit isn't enticing, but maybe for free.

(Note: I think everyone has legit concerns)
posted by josher71 at 11:04 AM on January 13, 2016 [5 favorites]


Also, that's it's being passed around on Facebook exacerbates the problem in my mind because there's a direct and easy channel for people who find the links broken to notify the people who posted them, some of whom will have kept their copies.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 11:06 AM on January 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


josher71: "I'm going to guess paying five dollars to be told you are a piece of shit isn't enticing, but maybe for free."

I haven't seen anything approaching this level of vitriol, but I also don't give a shit about any hurt feelings that might result from this person reading this thread. To need convincing that you should redact user names and other identifying details to maintain the safety of women online, in this day and age, is just lunacy to me.

On top of that I would also like to ask why this went to Crone Island and not to Metafilter as a point of contact for edits. Considering not everyone joined or maintained a membership on the group or slack channels who participated in the original thread, it is a weird exclusionary choice.
posted by erratic meatsack at 11:14 AM on January 13, 2016 [6 favorites]


I am not pro-taking-the-PDF-down but if it were to be decided that that's what should happen, my strong suggestion would be to replace current content fully with an explanation of why it's no longer available, and, if possible, a link to the original EL thread (for some continuity). Failing that, possibly this thread instead.
posted by kalessin at 11:21 AM on January 13, 2016 [2 favorites]


while i wish the document had been handled differently from the very beginning, and the changing story still doesn't make sense, i think any effort to take it down or replace it with explanation text or whatnot creates a much larger spotlight at this point than just leaving it alone and hoping people eventually ignore it. telling certain groups that some women decided to protect their safety is seen as an invitation for harassment - the more focus we bring to that part, the worse it is for those potentially affected. the people who created/edited/made sure their "credit" was respected wrt the document have put people in danger, but there's no way to unfuck that chicken, unfortunately
posted by nadawi at 11:27 AM on January 13, 2016 [24 favorites]


This is truly the Ernie Anastos of PDFs.
posted by grumpybear69 at 11:31 AM on January 13, 2016 [4 favorites]


To need convincing that you should redact user names and other identifying details to maintain the safety of women online, in this day and age, is just lunacy to me.

It's "lunacy" that someone's first reaction was "but...they already posted it publicly on the internet, what's the big deal"? That seems ... uncharitable. I certainly needed 'convincing', in that it didn't occur to me there was a problem until folks pointed it out upthread.
posted by leahwrenn at 11:47 AM on January 13, 2016 [6 favorites]


I would also appreciate it if we deescalated the language surrounding this set of problems. I think many of these discussion points are valid and should be honored. Characterizing them (as an aside, using crazy-related idioms is widely considered ableist and separately problematic - which muddies the waters here) uncharitably is arguably making the discussion much harder.
posted by kalessin at 11:49 AM on January 13, 2016 [4 favorites]


Yeah, I wouldn't call that lunacy. I'd call it privilege.
posted by Too-Ticky at 11:49 AM on January 13, 2016 [4 favorites]


Was it his first reaction? Just how much convincing did he need? This is why it would be helpful to have his own voice in this thread, because the only thing we know is "It's only fair to point out that he was not as comfortable redacting the document as Oklima has been" - and if my choice of words regarding this is uncharitable then I'm honestly okay with it. I don't know this person, I have no reason to immediately trust this person, and I have heard nothing about his willingness to reach out to people here even if it's done through someone who already has an account.
posted by erratic meatsack at 11:55 AM on January 13, 2016 [5 favorites]


So again I think we sort of return to the idea that in diplomacy you have to make concessions in order to have peace talks, and in situations like this if you demand an outside voice you have to assure some measure or foundation of safety. Or else it pretty much isn't going to happen.
posted by kalessin at 11:57 AM on January 13, 2016


And I'm not saying that's right or just, but just contextually the way the world seems to work.
posted by kalessin at 11:57 AM on January 13, 2016


kalessin, what measure or foundation of safety could this person need?
posted by erratic meatsack at 11:58 AM on January 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


I don't know, not knowing them, but my impression of the full discussion is that there are a lot of people who are incredibly and justifiably pissed off who would have a hard time even being polite to him, let alone be able to fairly say they would be able to assume good intent, since folks have felt pretty comfortable displaying that impoliteness so far.

Again, I think that it's totally valid to be that pissed off. But I don't think it's a reasonable temperature of discussion to invite an outsider to join us in and I would really admire the person in question and be quite surprised if he felt able to transcend the feelings of personal risk (of varying degrees of unkindness and disrespect) and come join us.
posted by kalessin at 12:01 PM on January 13, 2016 [4 favorites]


it's sort of funny that we're dancing around saying his name and discussing his personal risk when you consider what this thread is actually about, but focusing too much on that won't get us anywhere good, i don't think. it's probably best to just move the conversation on from him, both insulting him and finding ways to really admire him. he's decided to be a non-entity in the discussion. guessing at his feelings or motivations is fairy-tale making.
posted by nadawi at 12:07 PM on January 13, 2016 [22 favorites]


I can understand that, and thank you for explaining. But it feels like some people, myself included, are having these strong feelings because of this person's involvement and that's not going to dissipate on its own. I would at least like to know what is possible in terms of either a) having control of this document remain in the hands of actual community members who are aware of and sympathetic to all the concerns brought up in this thread, or b) engaging with the current document owner either indirectly through another person or directly but at a later time.

The fact that this person remains an unknown variable (no matter how willing he seems to be to make the edits after conversing with Oklima) is something I would like addressed.
posted by erratic meatsack at 12:08 PM on January 13, 2016 [5 favorites]


Speaking as someone who requested removal I'd wish that we could all just drop it and stop trying to escalate the issue in a way that makes this more of a deal that it was already.

There is no putting this back in the bottle. The best thing at this point would be that the document stay where it is, if people want to be removed they are removed and everyone moves on with their lives.
posted by theory of semi-graphs of anabelioids at 12:16 PM on January 13, 2016 [20 favorites]


What does "control of this document" even mean, in this context?

We are talking about something that is trivially copyable. It's going to end up copied all over the internet, pulled apart, quoted, re-purposed, etc. There is literally nothing you can do, no agreement you can extract from this person, that's going to change that. Any kind of security you would feel from dragging them into this thread would be a false security.
posted by tocts at 12:18 PM on January 13, 2016 [2 favorites]


that's exactly the spot i'm in, theory of semi-graphs of anabelioids. we're not going to get to more satisfactory answers or explanations. this is where we're at. moving on is the safest thing for those involved.
posted by nadawi at 12:19 PM on January 13, 2016 [6 favorites]


be quite surprised if he felt able to transcend the feelings of personal risk (of varying degrees of unkindness and disrespect) and come join us.

I don't think we should be concerned with safeguarding the feelings of an anonymous person who has done something that may have caused real harm to women on MetaFilter. This person does not need anyone advocating for him. He can do that for himself if he so chooses. Instead, let's focus on mitigating any damage this person has caused and make this situation as safe as possible for the affected MetaFilter users.
posted by i feel possessed at 12:32 PM on January 13, 2016 [13 favorites]


telling certain groups that some women decided to protect their safety is seen as an invitation for harassment

This comment by nadawi is the one that finally prompted me to ask that my username be removed from the PDF. "Invitation for harassment" seems about right when talking about the unintended but potential consequences.
posted by mudpuppie at 1:14 PM on January 13, 2016 [3 favorites]


"Yeah, I wouldn't call that lunacy. I'd call it privilege."
posted by Too-Ticky

I agree and here is why. To posit that a circulating doc is lunacy to try delete reinforces powerlessness. Perhaps it would be extremely difficult to remove but the fact that participants are still expressing views is a pushback and maybe pushback is incorrect but expressing ones view to be respected diminishes that percieved powerlessness.
posted by clavdivs at 1:48 PM on January 13, 2016


I do not want to stir up any grar, but I reopened my account to strongly urge people who asked to be removed to PLEASE CHECK that they were removed. Even though my own posts were removed, I am quoted in someone else's comment.

Check people, CHECK.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 2:11 PM on January 13, 2016 [8 favorites]


Maybe I wasn't clear: I used the word privilege as a form of shorthand to indicate that the person who is hosting the document may never have had as much reason to worry about online privacy, and the related safety issues, as some of us here. Because he is most likely a cis man.
So it's not much of a surprise if he feels that it's not a big deal, because in all likelyhood, for him, it isn't.
posted by Too-Ticky at 2:23 PM on January 13, 2016 [2 favorites]


I need to make it clear that not only do I not know the person who is controlling this very controversial PDF, but I am also not protecting him. Nor do I have any plans or desire to. He made his bed. He can lay in it.

I am only observing that if we, in the same breath, articulate a want to have him join us and be answerable to questions then the pragmatic thing to do would be to also reassure that it's not a trap. Or really give him any external reason to make the request convincingly attractive. This is a basic protocol in diplomacy for a reason.

IME only very extreme people join dialogs at their extreme disadvantage for purely self-motivated moral or ethical reasons while disregarding their own emotional safety.
posted by kalessin at 2:33 PM on January 13, 2016 [2 favorites]


kalessin, while I applaud your continued diplomatic approach I am at a complete loss as to what "trap" we could possibly lay for this person, and I'm feeling like this language you're using communicates a need to walk on eggshells in order for this person, who put himself in the middle of this endeavor, to deem it "safe" enough to engage with us. It feels like bullshit.
posted by erratic meatsack at 2:47 PM on January 13, 2016 [7 favorites]


No, I am walking on eggshells, if anything, in this thread, for the commenters who remain. Again, as I say, I don't know or really care about PDF guy, except for conjectures I make about him based on available evidence.
posted by kalessin at 2:49 PM on January 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


Frankly if he doesn't feel it's "safe" to engage with the very community that he is editing/hosting a document for, he should pass the job to someone else. But I for one refuse to believe that we need to do the emotional labor of convincing him we are not wolves, in order for him to feel comfortable raising a voice here.
posted by erratic meatsack at 2:50 PM on January 13, 2016 [8 favorites]


Again, I'm not speaking for him or telling him what to do. I'm speaking to us. I'm saying that if we want his voice we probably have to be nicer about it. Saying something like "we need his voice in the conversation" while someone else is saying something else like "I don't care for his feelings" isn't actually a trap, it's just an outright justification for not showing up.

And I don't even mean to be proscriptive but observational. I personally feel that because of how we are providing this justification for him not showing up, that we're really just venting, and the longer we go on expressing this mixed message, the more about venting it is rather than talking to him. That's okay, it just seems weird to keep on saying we want to talk to him and get answers but remaining openly hostile at the same time.
posted by kalessin at 2:54 PM on January 13, 2016 [3 favorites]


To the extent that guy is interested or disinterested in joining the discussion, here or via some other channel, he'll do so or not, and I think the idea of doing so is sufficiently on the radar at this point that we're just sort of playing volleyball with a horse corpse at this point.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:57 PM on January 13, 2016 [8 favorites]


Agreed, cortex. Also Crone Island is so processing oriented that if PDF guy is in any aspect associated, it's assured that folks have spoken to him about it.
posted by kalessin at 3:00 PM on January 13, 2016


...you've been part of crone island for less than week.
posted by nadawi at 3:33 PM on January 13, 2016 [16 favorites]


I'm gonna drop out of this thread. It's been my intention to try to remain present while folks determined what to do and go with the decision. It feels like folks keep questioning my intent and perceptions and good will and so on and it's collectively put me in a few impossible situations. And it feels like quicksand when I try to explain or justify, so I'll just stop here. Thank you all for your good graces.
posted by kalessin at 3:42 PM on January 13, 2016


I went to slack.com and I still don't really grok all this newfangled stuff. But that's ok! Good luck to our glorious former-leader in his hard to understand endeavors.
posted by Justinian at 4:35 PM on January 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


It's basically IRC rewritten in Javascript so the cool kids will use it.
posted by alms at 5:19 PM on January 13, 2016 [5 favorites]


You're saying I wasn't cool when I was using IRC?!?
posted by Justinian at 6:07 PM on January 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


No one is saying that. No one really NEEDS to say that.
posted by phearlez at 6:10 PM on January 13, 2016 [3 favorites]


Ironically, I am largely willing to remain in the document because the two people about whom I air dirty laundry in my comments are people I call out for being EL boycotters, and unwilling to perform the EL of reading the original thread, or, no doubt, its summary. Will probably not read a thread anywhere on any site that covers such thematic territory.

Isn't it also a shitty irony that there's been much expressed desire for menfolk to read the thread, but also a dreadful, competing fear about certain menfolk reading the thread.


My point is, my comments aren't staying because I agree with the methodology informing the creation of the EL thread's abridged text, but for other calculations I have considered.

And while I am here, I feel I have to say that I don't like how this metatalk post was constructed. Sorry mephron, I am not trying to be an asshole to you, but the 'Yay célébrité!' aspect to the post rather than 'This has appeared on the internet. How does the community feel about the use of EL thread material?' provided the backdrop to the way some members' subsequent questioning and fearful responses to this news went almost immediately to attempts at rules-lawyering, hushing and cajoling. I'm glad we pushed through that.
posted by honey-barbara at 6:14 PM on January 13, 2016 [5 favorites]


Actually, I've been unfair and I don't want to use edit function to change a sentence. The news was delivered neutrally, and the thread started with applause rather than caution or questioning.
posted by honey-barbara at 6:35 PM on January 13, 2016 [1 favorite]


fwiw, as one of the early "yay" people - I'll note again that I completely misunderstood the nature of this post (which is entirely my fault) and hence my "yay" was because I thought a metafilter member had done a cool piece of work for the metafilter community, and it had been noted on some third-party site. None of that of course happened, but that charitable reading was a big part of my early vocal support. I don't consider myself a supporter of this effort given what's been discussed since.
posted by odinsdream at 7:18 PM on January 13, 2016 [14 favorites]


ooof.

I have been following this thread since its inception. I have not had the spoons to participate--I still don't, really.

I care about you, your stories, and your safety.
posted by TimidRobotZehta at 8:19 PM on January 13, 2016 [5 favorites]


Thank you, amnesia & magnets, for the suggestion to add a copyright notice to the document: it is now included in the footer of each page. Thanks also to yes_yes for flagging that there were some posts where users quoted other users without identifiers: most were already-consented authors, but the exceptions have been removed.
posted by oklima297 at 8:22 PM on January 13, 2016 [5 favorites]


fwiw, as one of the early "yay" people - I'll note again that I completely misunderstood the nature of this post (which is entirely my fault) and hence my "yay" was because I thought a metafilter member had done a cool piece of work for the metafilter community, and it had been noted on some third-party site. None of that of course happened, but that charitable reading was a big part of my early vocal support. I don't consider myself a supporter of this effort given what's been discussed since.
posted by odinsdream


This. I simply did not fully understand the situation, and at this point, my opinion is completely different. I regret my initial support, and apologise for any distress and/or harm it may have caused to other participants in the thread.
posted by skybluepink at 11:47 PM on January 13, 2016 [2 favorites]


TimidRobotZehta, I think it's good that you're here. Have a seat, and a cup of tea.
posted by Too-Ticky at 1:23 AM on January 14, 2016 [2 favorites]


"...hence my 'yay' was because I thought a metafilter member had done a cool piece of work for the metafilter community, and it had been noted on some third-party site."

If it had been a mefite who had intended this for other mefites, but everything else about the scenario had been the same, I don't think thing any of the harm would have been lessened. It still would have been a copyright violation and it still would have been republishing sensitive comments outside the the context of MetaFilter and which subsequently reached high external visibility.

I'm uncomfortable with any insider/outsider framing of this because I think that obscures the locus of the harm and implies that merely by virtue of being a mefite, someone doing something like this again would be okay. It wouldn't be. That's probably not what you intended by your comment, but the implication is there and think it's important to contest it -- especially because I think that the single most important thing that we can learn from this moving forward is that we each have an ethical responsibility when we make similar decisions. That includes things that we do here regularly, such as our posts.

I have the sense that we tend to think of the rest of the web the way that oklima297 thought of us and that we don't even consider the possibility that we might be causing harm when we repackage and call attention to someone else's words. I can imagine something very like the EL thread on an obscure, small forum that got wider web attention and we posted about it, linked to specific comments from it, and so forth.

Each situation is different and I'm not trying to argue for equivalency -- quite the opposite. Each situation is different and that's why we have to make the effort to think about each case and make decisions appropriate to that case. Not assume that we don't have to consider this at all because "it's on the web". Now that we've had all this discussion and thought about it, condensing the thread into a document that's hosted and distributing externally to MetaFilter seems like a pretty extreme case and obviously wrong. But the point is that if you don't think about it at all, because it's on the web and public, then this doesn't seem extreme or even that it could possibly be a problem in the first place. I don't know how we can avoid making oklima297's mistake if we've not broken the habit of not even considering these issues.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 2:00 AM on January 14, 2016 [14 favorites]


'This has appeared on the internet. How does the community feel about the use of EL thread material?'

I stumbled on the pdf when doing a google search for the EL thread because I was too lazy to go through my favourites on Metafilter. At first I was excited and sought info from Oklima297 about whether it had been published here. I was going to post it myself but something held me back. There was a niggling of discomfort when I realised that the compiler was not a mefite, and I wasn't sure how I felt about that. It seemed at one remove from the deep and abiding alliance that the thread generated. And that made me uncomfortable. However, instead of contacting the mods (which I thought of) or framing the post as Honey-Barbara suggested above (which I didn't think of), I just sat on my hands.

So my lesson from this thread is: when something feels uncomfortable to me, it is likely to make others feel uncomfortable too. And when I can't articulate my discomfort I should take that as a sign that discussion is needed.
posted by Thella at 2:10 AM on January 14, 2016 [8 favorites]


I have the sense that we tend to think of the rest of the web the way that oklima297 thought of us and that we don't even consider the possibility that we might be causing harm when we repackage and call attention to someone else's words. I can imagine something very like the EL thread on an obscure, small forum that got wider web attention and we posted about it, linked to specific comments from it, and so forth.

Another related, but slightly different, contemporary example of this, is the situation that arises when a public figure (100,000s or millions of followers) retweets something shared by a non-public figure. Especially in the case where the well-known person is critical of what the obscure person said.

This situation is different in some of the critical details - a much bigger text, more work and effort than a retweet - but the basic idea of "we might be causing harm when we repackage and call attention to someone else's words" applies in both cases.

Web/Internet technology empowers people doing new, possibly harmful, things for which we don't yet have well-understood models.
posted by theorique at 2:28 AM on January 14, 2016 [9 favorites]


I'm going to give people a rundown of how this all played out as someone who asked to be removed from the doc.

I was active in the EL thread. I found it cathartic and it was the most moving interaction I've had on the internet, period.

Obviously, for the record, I am fully aware what an absolute bone-headed decision it was to write ANYTHING on the internet Because Internet. I know that in my life-changing enthusiasm as that thread unfolded--of seeing in print others' stories of all the crap we were ALL dealing with---all the buried sadness and ridiculously unchallenged expectations and how miserable so many of us felt---all of that CATHARTIC SISTERHOOD---I totally lost my head and shared a few stories. It's not that I could easily be identified by my stories.

But. There are people who I would not want to see what I wrote.For Reasons. It was buried deep within the thread and I mostly forgot about it.

A while back, someone on FB posted something I'd written in the thread, saying, "Hey, wasn't this YOU?" and I thought, "Oh shit, I guess anyone can read that thread and figure out a few contributions could be me. But anyone who I really don't want to read that thread is not especially internet savvy." I asked my friend to take it down and she did, no big deal. At this point I am disquieted but not worried.

But I changed my user name just in case, as I was working on the assumption I was quoted from the EL thread, not the doc. If I knew a doc was out there I would have contacted the mods immediately because copyright.

So I'm looking here one day, go check out Meta, and see this thread. AND I AM FUCKING FLOORED. I check the doc and I'm in there A LOT. More than 5 times, less than 12 times. Without my permission.

This is not a Good Thing. THIS is the situation that I am rightfully worried about, for safety reasons. Actual fucking safety reasons.

A person could have clicked on my user name, saw my posting history, and it would not have been a Good Thing.

I had no idea this doc existed. Just--who?---what?--the Crones?--my SISTERS?!---who DID this and why the holy fuck is this on the Internet without my permission?

So I see most of the comments are really positive at this point so I made a guarded comment (my heart was actually pumping in my throat, people--I was on my way to a full-tilt panic attack)--that I am not happy with this and I asked to have my name redacted.

In my communication with the creator, I am told my comments remained because I closed my MetaFilter account and she couldn't ask for my permission. So instead of using common sense and just removing comments where she had no approval, she left them in.

Then I realize, actually I am PISSED about this, so no, lady, I don't want you using my comments anywhere because I do not approve of what you did. Take everything out.

I close THIS Metafilter account.

And I breathe for a few days.

I check again and see that I'M STILL IN THIS FUCKING DOCUMENT, not-attributed but chunks of things I had written are quoted by other people. I contact the mods, ask them to reopen this account so I can contact the creator and post neutral warning to folks that they may STILL BE IN THIS THING despite saying to be removed.

(I would like people to please consider at this point the sheer amount of work I have to do as I'm fighting nausea and a low level of terror because I am trying to get someone to DO THE RIGHT THING. Please consider the irony that this is all about Emotional Labor.)

I send the creator a pretty hostile email to get every single thing I wrote off this doc.

It eventually happens. But here's the thing.

It never occurred to the creator to:
1. mention this project
2. ask for permission
3. take the doc down until she received permissions
4. automatically remove ALL comments from people she couldn't reach
5. realize that people quoted other users and those quotes needed to be removed.

So. That's been MY week. And in this thread I so appreciate the support from everyone who has been so cool and understanding that some of us had Reasons to be very worried about a very serious copyright infringement. Thank you for that. The mods have been extraordinarily level-headed to me personally.

I would like to mark this by noting that this has been a Very Bad Thing.

I hope that lessons have been learned, dogs have been called off, and everyone feels safe(r).

Everyone needs a hug.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 3:17 AM on January 14, 2016 [42 favorites]


Lastly, I'd like for the original thread to not be linked to in the doc.

I think in the spirit of helping others, the author should do that.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 3:28 AM on January 14, 2016 [2 favorites]


Really lastly. I'd like to tell the community that the creator has been nothing but respectful in my interactions with her. She has been putting out fires as requested.

However, I'm still seeing this as we don't know what we don't know. The author did not know to do certain things and anticipate certain issues.

I remain concerned that there could still be negative kickback that has not YET been considered. Until yesterday, nobody had considered that people who had asked to be redacted were still quoted by others in the doc.

Because nobody can predict other problems that may arise, I would like for the link to the original thread to be removed.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 4:38 AM on January 14, 2016 [2 favorites]


At that point, you might as well ask that the original thread in its entirety be deleted. Having a link in this annotated document is not going to bring any more visibility to the full thread than the fact that it's already linked on a number of high-profile sites, is being shared on twitter and facebook, and is in the top 10 hits on google if you search for "emotional labor".
posted by tocts at 5:08 AM on January 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


Having a link in this annotated document is not going to bring any more visibility to the full thread

so why would it matter if it were deleted?
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 5:47 AM on January 14, 2016 [10 favorites]


what are the stats for the original mefi post? it's been linked to from the guardian, and a bunch of other places.

and can anyone get stats for the pdf?

i'm wondering how "important" this pdf is relative to the original (which has a pile of implications and i'm not pushing any particular one here, just looking for numbers).
posted by andrewcooke at 6:00 AM on January 14, 2016


All the talk of others and outsiders is deeply disturbing.
posted by TimidRobotZehta at 6:17 AM on January 14, 2016


Why?
posted by Phire at 6:19 AM on January 14, 2016 [4 favorites]


Having a link in this annotated document is not going to bring any more visibility to the full thread than the fact that it's already linked on a number of high-profile sites...

I disagree. If the link is there, people can see where they can read more by simply clicking. Not making the link transparent means it's more difficult to do this.

In the last few days, non-anticipated problems have arisen and going on the assumption that it's certainly possible that even more issues could arise, there's no harm in removing the link, is there?
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 6:21 AM on January 14, 2016 [4 favorites]


Not making the link transparent means it's more difficult to do this.

Only if by "difficult" you mean "requires half a second and google". The name "Metafilter" is all over the document. Searching for "metafilter emotional labor" takes your right to the thread. Additionally, every single one of the comments in the document, if you search for a small excerpt from it, will bring you to the thread.

Asking that the link be deleted because of claims that it will somehow make anyone safer is literally denying how the internet works.
posted by tocts at 6:23 AM on January 14, 2016


Maybe redirect the energy to nitpicking people who have clearly laid out their concerns to, oh, I dunno...listening to them. These are such monumentally small requests that the constant pushback is getting more disturbing. Especially when it's aimed at people who are directly affected by those who are not.
posted by zombieflanders at 6:25 AM on January 14, 2016 [32 favorites]


Since anybody with half a second and Google can find the thread, obviously they don't need the link to exist in the document. What harm is caused by removing the link? What legitimate reason is there for not removing the link even though it makes people feel uncomfortable?
posted by Phire at 6:28 AM on January 14, 2016 [12 favorites]


I need to step out of this because I'm one of the people getting increasingly upset that I'm getting this level of pushback because I want to protect my privacy, but...

"All the talk of others and outsiders is deeply disturbing"
by a member who joined yesterday and is involved in this debacle is opening a can of worms that may not go well.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 6:33 AM on January 14, 2016 [14 favorites]


if you don't have the spoons to discuss your own involvement, then maybe you should not share your opinion about how this community is handling the conversation.
posted by nadawi at 6:41 AM on January 14, 2016 [20 favorites]


All the talk of others and outsiders is deeply disturbing.

Welcome to Metafilter. It is cliquey and occasionally reminiscent of livejournal. That said, you are doing yourself no favors with that comment, especially with the added touch of bold text. People are really angry at you right now, and I can guarantee without reservation that becoming defensive and digging in your heels will not go well. See also: making critical observations about the community.
posted by grumpybear69 at 6:50 AM on January 14, 2016 [5 favorites]


While all these concerns are being laid out, it might be a good time to remind people that Metafilter as a matter of long-standing practice actively promotes its great content in a variety of ways. The original EL thread was featured on bestof.metafilter. It was discussed in a podcast. The original thread and a few related follow-on threads were tweeted about almost a dozen times. Comments are regularly pulled out of context and quoted in the "New & Noteworthy" sidebar on the front page of the blue. In my experience there's been zero pushback against that.

I'm not excusing what happened with the PDF, or saying it was done properly or should have been expected. It was super problematic for all the reasons people have outlined.

At the same time, I hope everyone remembers that Metafilter will continue to promote its content, in some cases with slight repackaging (as in the front page sidebar and bestof), and that part of the goal of the promotion is to bring new people into the site and reach new audiences. We need to do that to continue to thrive as a community, and it could result in some of the same kinds of exposure -- friends on Facebook noticing something we wrote -- as happened with this PDF.
posted by alms at 7:18 AM on January 14, 2016 [5 favorites]


i really don't think anyone at the end of this incredibly long and difficult thread needs the internet or metafilter explained to them.
posted by nadawi at 7:21 AM on January 14, 2016 [34 favorites]


It's been interesting boring and predictable to observe that the Well, Actuallys about the function, purpose, and visibility of MetaFilter and online commenting in general are being delivered by a) men and b) men who did not participate in the EL thread.

Are you guys under the impression that the only thing the people (mostly women) who have been affected by this really need is to be pseudo-helpfully 'reminded' about Internet, How Does It Work? Like if you just explain it another dozen times, we're finally going to have that lightbulb go off over our heads and see it your way instead of maintaining that maybe the way you experience the world isn't the way that we experience it? I would venture that the answer is, "Nah, bro."

Sure, it's easy to condescend about all of this when you've never had any reason to worry about the stuff that women have to worry about -- because if anything unfortunate happens or is done to us, whose fault is it? OURS, and please don't labor under the impression that we're ever allowed to forget this -- but that doesn't mean it's helpful.
posted by amnesia and magnets at 7:51 AM on January 14, 2016 [71 favorites]


Flagged as fantastic.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 7:53 AM on January 14, 2016 [5 favorites]


Thank you for saying that, amnesia and magnets.
posted by zarq at 7:55 AM on January 14, 2016 [8 favorites]


Yes, clearly I'm not understanding something. When someone says, "my comments appeared somewhere unexpected" or "because this happened, other people will know about the thread" it makes me wonder whether they're aware of the fact that Metafilter is actively trying to promote the thread in ways that could have exactly the same result.

I understand the concern about the creation of the PDF and how it was done and the lack of permissions. I also understand the concerns (safety concerns and other concerns) about new people reading the material. But I don't understand how to reconcile "let's try to make this thread more obscure" with the promotional activities that Metafilter engages in on an ongoing basis.

If this is 101 level stuff that people don't want to take the time to explain, I'll just bow out. But really, no "well actually" was intended. I honestly didn't know if people were aware of the fact that Metafilter tweets this stuff, or whether people were considering how to reconcile the desire for intimacy with the ongoing promotion of site content that happens.
posted by alms at 8:06 AM on January 14, 2016 [2 favorites]


you've made over 10 comments explaining the internet and metafilter to people who are actively using it. you've supposedly bowed out of this conversation at least 3 times. you're going to keep doing what you want to do, but you can't pretend to be ignorant of how it's being received. intent isn't a magic bullet. please stop.
posted by nadawi at 8:23 AM on January 14, 2016 [27 favorites]


I'm not really sure how to say this differently than it's already been said, but I guess it's wroth another try?

There's a difference between Metafilter promotion ("Hey! Look at this cool post about snails!" "Hey! Look at this 972-page long thread!") and calling out specific, emotionally intense, potentially identifying comments as being especially worthy of reading, and then repackaging those into an easy-to-digest chunk, highlighting them, and disseminating them broadly.
posted by ChuraChura at 8:25 AM on January 14, 2016 [24 favorites]


nadawi said it more eloquently than I could, so on preview I'm removing the bulk of my post and just saying "what they said."

I think "how to reconcile the desire for intimacy with the ongoing promotion of site content that happens" could be a valuable discussion some other place and some other time, but this is not the time or the place to inject it.
posted by Alterscape at 8:27 AM on January 14, 2016 [10 favorites]


I think it's simply a matter of different people consenting to different things. It's generally known here that Metafilter includes this content in the sidebar, the podcast, and on twitter, but that's all still contained within the Metafilter bubble, and viewed by those that have probably already seen the EL thread anyway. Only some of those people would consent to being included in a compiled and indexed post, and only some would do it if it was kept within the Metafilter community. Some wouldn't consent at all.

I think the counter-argument is "Well, you posted it online, there is always the possibility of it becoming widespread", but there is a lot of value in security through obscurity. I don't put bars on my windows at home, even though someone could easily break one open, climb in, and rob me, simply because I haven't given anyone a compelling reason to do such a thing. But if my houseguests start telling the neighborhood that I've got a very pretty gold coin collection sitting in my bedroom, then I've got a problem. It's a similar situation here. Most of the internet isn't aware of the EL thread, and isn't aware that there's certain posts that could put certain users in danger, if read by the wrong people. This PDF file raises the risk for those people in a way that nobody reasonably believed would happen without their consent. I believe it's a very good thing to keep this in mind when propagating other people's personal stories on the Internet, here or otherwise. There's always possible consequences.
posted by Skephicles at 8:29 AM on January 14, 2016 [5 favorites]


For example, I say a lot of things about my research, about my life, about my experiences on Metafilter. They certainly exist on the broader internet, and I have no doubts about that*. But for the most part, they exist in a place that the people I interact with on a daily basis have no concept of. My advisor has vaguely heard of Reddit, maybe? But when a comment I made about the sexist ways in which he interacts with me gets posted on facebook as a PDF and shared and talked about by women in our field, the chances that it will come back to him, and thus come back to me, exponentially increase. I guarantee you none of those women would have found the comment without that PDF. That difference in exposure and ease at finding particular things and tying them back to people is what concerns me about this project.

*In fact, I was contacted by qz.com after a comment I made about fieldwork in Cote d'Ivoire got really popular, and they asked me if they could publish it as an essay. I changed a few things, and said sure. I even sent it to my advisor, although I'm pretty sure he didn't read it.
posted by ChuraChura at 8:31 AM on January 14, 2016 [34 favorites]


We are talking about practical obscurity. Here is a good primer on the concept. Essentially, the right to be obscure - as one comment is on Metafilter in a sea of over 2000 comments in a giant thread about emotional labor - is a component of privacy that has not been properly operationalized. This article attempts to do just that, outlining four components of obscurity as it relates to privacy online: search visibility, unprotected access, identification, and clarity.

Yes, this is an academic article, but it is very accessible and highly worth a read (or at least a skim!) if you want to dig a bit deeper into the thought that "this is just how the Internet works" stuff. Because no, what happened here is not how the Internet necessarily works or has to work. Not at all.
posted by sockermom at 8:54 AM on January 14, 2016 [43 favorites]


Looking at it another way...

If I volunteered to be a part of one of Spencer Tunick's nude photographs with 2000 other people, it would be because with that many other people, it would be very hard to recognize me. (There are also consent forms to sign.) But if someone else cropped his photo down to 99 bodies and mine without my consent, and then redistributed the crop to Facebook, it would be easier for others to spot me.

Consent makes things so much better.
posted by kimberussell at 8:55 AM on January 14, 2016 [5 favorites]


I think the naivete is more on the part of those people who repackaged a thread as an educational primer on the topic, added people's personal experience in arbitrarily assigned categories, didn't consult the posters about the project, hosted it via a third party who needed to be convinced to make changes, and initially thought that no one would be bothered at all.
posted by sweetkid at 9:02 AM on January 14, 2016 [36 favorites]


I want to thank everyone who took the time to explain, over and over, the problems with this document, because it really opened my mind in a lot of ways and made me see a perspective I didn't quite realize at first. So, thanks for that.

That said, I also think this comment from alms is worth highlighting:

On the subject of risk calculations, in 2006 the New York Times quoted a comment I made on Metafilter and they attributed it to my real-life name. This showed up in the printed paper, in an article about plagiarism. They did not contact me in advance. My real-life name did not appear anywhere on Metafilter, so the Times reporter must have figured it out from my e-mail address (which was included in my profile). I found out when I got an e-mail from my sister congratulating me on being quoted in the Times.

I'll admit, that experience has colored my perception of the visibility of comments in Metafilter threads.


Instead of just pointing out the issues with quoting/sharing comments widely and hoping all random internet strangers never do that again, is there maybe a bit of room in the discussion for how to prepare for next time this happens rather than assuming it never will? I appreciate that the creators of this document have been so willing to modify it and remove what was out there as best they could, but I worry about how much worse it would have been if they hadn't been so responsive.
posted by R a c h e l at 9:02 AM on January 14, 2016 [4 favorites]


i really don't think anyone at the end of this incredibly long and difficult thread needs the internet or metafilter explained to them.

I actually think it's the opposite, that the people who think we don't know how the internet works need to have part of being a human explained to them.

Maybe they've never been part of something where they've finally found a group of people, like them, for them, and talking about the things that are important to them. Stuff that they can't talk about in an outside context because of concerns about how other people would react. Like maybe these people who are so sure others don't know how the internet works have never felt the relief of finally being able to say "hey, I can talk about this stuff here". In my experience there are few things more powerful than being part of a group of people all describing their own experiences. Especially when it's the first time you've felt able to tell your own story. Hell, it's like they've never felt the rush of finally having words to describe a concept they really WANTED others to understand. Since I give them credit for being smart adults, with way more experience of risk management than me, I'm sure those who shared their stories, at a greater personal risk than my minimal contributions caused me, decided that the power of that experience was well worth the increased risk.

I mean, I think this is a big part of where the comments about non-community members and outsiders come from. The thread wasn't a thing that just sprang into being in an instant. It was a conversation, a series of moments in time experienced individually and collectively, and quite frankly if someone wasn't there, they are an outsider to everyone that had that experience. All of which informed people's willingness to share their stories, and changed the mental calculus involved in if sharing those stories was worth the possibility of the negative outcomes. In this specific instance, it also means that if you weren't part of the conversation, and are going to go ahead and scrape a website, host the doc, or share it (despite the fact that NONE of the extremely personal stories are yours to share), the people whose words and stories your appropriating have absolutely no reason to trust you, assume good faith, be polite, or whatever, because literally the only way you've interacted with them to that point is to take what's theirs without asking.

People don't stop being people because they're posting online. It's so weird to me that people expect the entire social dynamic behind a conversation to shift just because it involves a computer transmitting the words instead of just air transmitting the sound. I mean, yeah there are differences in the availability of the words to other people, but that doesn't mean that you get to pretend that there's no social conventions about sharing other people's stories that involve complaining about a boss\husband\boyfriend\ex\whatever.
posted by Gygesringtone at 9:03 AM on January 14, 2016 [43 favorites]


(Or what sweetkid just said more clearly, and with less words.)
posted by Gygesringtone at 9:04 AM on January 14, 2016


is there maybe a bit of room in the discussion for how to prepare for next time this happens rather than assuming it never will

It's been discussed several times, actually. There are already plans for another MeTa to keep the discussions separate.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:07 AM on January 14, 2016 [2 favorites]


Well said, Gygesringtone.
posted by zarq at 9:07 AM on January 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


I think the naivete is more on the part of those people who repackaged a thread as an educational primer on the topic, added people's personal experience in arbitrarily assigned categories, didn't consult the posters about the project, hosted it via a third party who needed to be convinced to make changes, and initially thought that no one would be bothered at all.

I'd just like to add "Didn't even bother to inform the site, whose members held copyright on all encapsulated posts, that they had created this public document". We learned about this after the fact from a third party after the creators went to a Slack site with some MF members that most of us have never seen or heard of.
posted by selfnoise at 9:09 AM on January 14, 2016 [11 favorites]


I actually think it's the opposite, that the people who think we don't know how the internet works need to have part of being a human explained to them.

Yesssssssssssssssssssssssssssss thank you. It's like someone telling you "No no no, you don't seem to understand. The internet makes it completely acceptable to be an asshole!"
posted by selfnoise at 9:13 AM on January 14, 2016 [20 favorites]


All the talk of others and outsiders is deeply disturbing.
posted by TimidRobotZehta at 6:17 AM on January 14 [+] [!]


This is starting to feel like some seriously bad-faith trolling.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 10:06 AM on January 14, 2016


Ivan Fyodorovich, I've been very clear about my position on the copyright and permission-getting, and visibility in the thread, again I just wanted to clarify that I shouldn't be lumped in with supporters simply because of my first comments in the thread, and I'd caution people from trying to count up supporters in such a way since the story has changed so much in the latter part of the thread. I absolutely don't support this project given what we know now.
posted by odinsdream at 10:14 AM on January 14, 2016 [3 favorites]


Condensed Version 1 of the document was shared with me because it was transformative in the lives of people close to me. It has significantly impacted my life for the better. I am doing my best to ensure that a version of it is available to be shared with people who need it. I am doing my best to ensure that the document is ethical, respectful, and protective.

It is not obvious, but I have worked many many hours on incorporating your feedback into the document.

This thread seems to be dominated by a complete opposition to the document, but that is not the whole story. Of the people originally quoted in the document, 77% see enough value in it to consent to being included. Of the people who have responded to oklimia297, 89% have consented to being included.

I understand there are many good and important reasons why a person wouldn't want to be quoted or included.
posted by TimidRobotZehta at 10:55 AM on January 14, 2016


This thread seems to be dominated by a complete opposition to the document, but that is not the whole story.

You really don't want to do this.

People are opposed to your decision to violate copyright and publish a document that you not only had no legal right to publish, but a document that put people in serious danger.

You violated the law, the standards and the spirit of MetaFIlter.

Coming in now to defend the importance of this document is a VERY BAD IDEA.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 11:03 AM on January 14, 2016 [13 favorites]


Tim, this is really not the time for "the lurking majority support me via email".
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 11:08 AM on January 14, 2016 [14 favorites]


This thread seems to be dominated by a complete opposition to the document, but that is not the whole story.

You're right. It isn't the whole story. That isn't how I read this thread at all, and I think you are misrepresenting the discussion here, as well as using statistics to draw unwarranted conclusions. (Did you ask: "Do you see enough value in this document to consent to being included?" when you asked for consent? No? Then you have no idea why people consented.) This thread has been amazingly respectful given the circumstances. Poke around on MetaTalk a bit if you don't believe me.

I'm not sure your particular brand of defensiveness is going to lead to the outcome you probably want. But, and this is part of why the difference between people who are part of the community and who have just joined matters, in the end you can just split without caring too much. This isn't a place you have spent time or invested, wait for it, emotional labor.
posted by OmieWise at 11:09 AM on January 14, 2016 [15 favorites]


Many people here and elsewhere have attested to the document being important, even life-changing. That's why it was being passed around and why The Mary Sue wrote about it. And it's obviously true that a lot of people wanted to be included in the document, given a choice.

But it's also true that many did not. They weren't given a choice until after the fact. And while fair use in copyright law allows you to quote someone, it doesn't allow you to take many thousands of other people's words and package them up in a document and distribute it how you wish. These are the kinds of things you ask permission for -- because not only is this not your right to do unilaterally, but additionally in this case you have put people in actual risk.

And so when people are upset and some of them want the document to be burned in a fire and the ashes buried in a hole, what you do is you say, yeah, maybe that would be for the best and you solicit the opinions of everyone involved. Maybe some (or many) of those people will make the case for keeping the document available. It's better that they make the case, not you, because they're the ones who wrote the words that appear in it. It's better that they and the people who feel harmed by it have the discussion, not you.

It sucks to see something really cool and decide to work hard on promoting it because you believe in it and then find that you've stepped on a lot of people's toes. But often in life it's the times when we're the most earnestly well-intended that we do the dumbest things that hurt other people -- and those are learning opportunities.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 11:29 AM on January 14, 2016 [17 favorites]


do not take my staying in the document as some sort of silent approval or what you guys have done. that is absolutely not the case. my own risk assessment makes me think it's safer to stay in than to ask to be removed. i wish i didn't have to make that calculation at all, but here we are.
posted by nadawi at 11:40 AM on January 14, 2016 [29 favorites]


It is not obvious, but I have worked many many hours on incorporating your feedback into the document.

No, it is not obvious at all. Why didn't you introduce yourself in your first comment and explain your connection to the document?
posted by futz at 11:40 AM on January 14, 2016 [16 favorites]


i'm also completely unimpressed by the descriptions of hard work that the people creating and editing this document undertook, when that labor was done on the backs of people who did not ask for your involvement. "sure, i made a giant mess of your living room but look how much time i took to clean it up in a way that will never be completely satisfactory!" is not as persuasive as you might imagine...
posted by nadawi at 11:43 AM on January 14, 2016 [30 favorites]


Of the people originally quoted in the document, 77% see enough value in it to consent to being included. Of the people who have responded to oklimia297, 89% have consented to being included.

This sounds a lot like a post-hoc justification for "it's better to ask forgiveness than permission." Apparently the reason this all had to happen in the first place is because a man decided that the feels of complete strangers who "need" to see a handy-dandy truncated version of the EL thread are more valuable than any given participant's right to retain copyright over their own work and persist in practical obscurity? Bored. zzzzzzz. zzz. so bored.

Women are very, very pointedly socialized to maintain the primacy of other people's needs, wants, convenience, and comfort. To me, that's basically the foundation of female socialization. We're often made to feel uncomfortable (if not honest-to-dog unwomanly) whenever we try to say no, let alone when we try to deny something we have to someone who obviously wants it, in an attempt to protect our own boundaries. When a woman says no, the first response is almost never "OK," it's almost always "C'mon, seriously? Why?"

To that end, sometimes women say yes to things they wouldn't normally say yes to for no other reason than because they think it's going to be easier or safer than saying no. If someone had asked me if they could republish my words in a format like this, as part of some kind of made-for-distribution educational tool for the masses who can't be bothered to read the original thread, I probably would have said yes because saying no always makes me feel like I'm doing something wrong. (Since I wasn't asked first, and I basically live for situations in which I'm confident that I actually have a right to say no, I said no as soon as I possibly could.)

If assigning a modicum of compliance -- which is what "I already put it out there, it's been out there for like six months already, is it OK if it stays out there?" actually is, in contrast to consent -- to female socialization sounds like bullshit to you, consider what "X percentage of people agreed to remain in the current version of this document after the fact because they agree with me" sounds like to me.
posted by amnesia and magnets at 11:45 AM on January 14, 2016 [37 favorites]


This thread seems to be dominated by a complete opposition to the document

Well, other than beginning of the thread, when most people were for it.

And the many people who've spoken up to defend it since.

And the people who've criticized the way it was done, but support the general idea of it as long as care is taken to ensure that nobody's harmed by it.

Huh, after taking a moment to think it over, I'd say the thread hasn't been dominated by complete opposition to the document at all, unless "complete opposition" means "not simply accepting whatever someone else wants to do with their copyrighted content."
posted by tonycpsu at 11:47 AM on January 14, 2016 [18 favorites]


Apparently the reason this all had to happen in the first place is because a man decided that the feels of complete strangers who "need" to see a handy-dandy truncated version of the EL thread are more valuable than any given participant's right to retain copyright over their own work and persist in practical obscurity?

I thought oklima297 was female? Weren’t they a Crone Island member?
posted by pharm at 11:52 AM on January 14, 2016


Apparently the reason this all had to happen in the first place is because a man decided that the feels of complete strangers who "need" to see a handy-dandy truncated version of the EL thread are more valuable than any given participant's right to retain copyright over their own work and persist in practical obscurity?

That's a totally bizarre and unhelpful reading of the events, at least as they have been related in this thread.
posted by mzurer at 11:52 AM on January 14, 2016


I gave consent but after reading TimidRobotZehta's self-justifying response for using the emotional labours of strangers for the benefit of his friends, and breaching copyright in the process, I have now withdrawn my consent and I wish everyone else would too so the document is left empty.
posted by Thella at 11:54 AM on January 14, 2016 [16 favorites]


(The part about being socialised to say Yes is important though & something at least personally I’ll try and bear in mind in future myself.)
posted by pharm at 11:54 AM on January 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


Is it worth the bullshit to keep this up? I say take it down and let the chips fall where they may.
posted by josher71 at 11:56 AM on January 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


In other words, I never wrote my comments for anyone outside of the thread. All my comments were for my sister/brother mefites participating in the thread.
posted by Thella at 11:57 AM on January 14, 2016 [8 favorites]


I am not saying I am beyond criticism.
posted by TimidRobotZehta at 12:02 PM on January 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


It's pretty striking how much of a Catch-22 this all is, at this point. Keeping the document up calls lots of negative attention to individuals who don't want to participate. Taking the document down would call much more negative attention. I think a lot of people feel out of control, with respect to how their lives may be affected by this stuff. It's not helping that the one person who appears to be in control is coming across as (using polite words) defensive. We also want to take pains to politely persuade you, so participating too candidly in this metatalk itself is fraught too. You can kind of see how frustrating it all is.
posted by naju at 12:02 PM on January 14, 2016 [9 favorites]


Taking the document down would call much more negative attention

It's already in the torrents.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 12:03 PM on January 14, 2016


It's pretty striking how much of a Catch-22 this all is, at this point. Keeping the document up calls lots of negative attention to individuals who don't want to participate.

Are those people still in the document?

I wonder if the best way out is to just make the document as good as it can be and give that best version enough google juice to obscure the lesser alternative versions.
posted by Jpfed at 12:08 PM on January 14, 2016


Of the people originally quoted in the document, 77% see enough value in it to consent to being included. Of the people who have responded to oklimia297, 89% have consented to being included.

I don't really see how using statistics is helping here.

80% of people in a 4-on-1 fight are having a great time - doesn't mean that one person isn't having a very bad experience.

Some people have explained why they wanted their words and usernames elided. Those wishes matter even if they are in the minority.
posted by theorique at 12:12 PM on January 14, 2016 [18 favorites]


I haven't been able to update the document since 9:36 pm CST last night. At that time, it contained only people who wanted to be included. Additionally, it incorporated any edits or redactions requested of authors about their content.

This is not the first version for which that has been true, but there has been a lot of requests (both for inclusion or removal) over the last few days.
posted by TimidRobotZehta at 12:19 PM on January 14, 2016


Are those people still in the document?

There are people who mentioned having to make the risk calculation for whether to remain in the document or not, and staying in for various reasons. There are also people changing their minds about their consent, as we speak. It's an evolving situation. As things stand, my thinking is "what if this ends up prominently featured in the NYT tomorrow", i.e., lots of light shed on the document and thread overnight, with the NYT possibly caching a copy for their own servers. So no, it's not as simple as thinking everything is fixed.
posted by naju at 12:19 PM on January 14, 2016 [8 favorites]


(And we should add, it's an evolving situation partly because the stories and justifications have been changing over the past few days. If we want to talk about "how can we prevent this next time", my main advice would be 100% transparency from the very beginning.)
posted by naju at 12:23 PM on January 14, 2016 [11 favorites]


I am one of the 77%, or possibly the 89%; not sure how you're dividing the numbers.

I gave my (enthusiastic) consent because I think the idea behind this document - as a useful tool to help women who are struggling with EL-related issues in their relationships and careers - is a fantastic one. I have sent people the link to the thread, but it's hard knowing that it's so long that it's almost impossible to get through from the beginning (heck, I noped out of it when it was fresh, and only came back and commented a few days in, after there was a MeTa calling attention to where it ended up going). I still believe, if it could be fully anonymous and done in a way that doesn't cause harm or fear of harm to its contributors, it should still exist.

But I also gave that consent because the comment of mine that was chosen was fairly impersonal, as opposed to others in the thread I made that I wouldn't have wanted disseminated so publicly (at least not with attribution). As it is, the comment I made hinges on one made in another thread by another user, and if that user doesn't give permission, then I don't see the use or fairness of including mine (I believe as of now she still has).

If enough people here are saying that the threat posed by having their comments out in the wider world is so great that the doc shouldn't exist, I would prefer to stand with those people rather than give consent. Honestly, the more that is taken out of the document, the weaker it becomes -- at some point it will become so bowdlerized that it stops having a reason to exist on its own.
posted by Mchelly at 12:27 PM on January 14, 2016 [8 favorites]


This thread makes my head want to explode.

I also just want to say that calling Metafilter "cliquey and like Livejournal" is supposed to mean... what exactly? That it's a community? Or that WOMEN are there with their FEELINGS? Unlike a cool, noncliquey nonemotional male-dominated place like Slashdot or reddit or Something Awful, where people are NEVER cliquey and irrational... yep, that's totally a thing.

There is a point on this site where even the people on your side are saying sexist things and then you just need to leave. At least on gross female Livejournal, people didn't lecture the fuck out of me all the time.

Also, I didn't care about my comments being included at first, but the longer this discussion goes on, my ambivalence grows. I would have rather it had never happened; as much as I thought it was a useful document, it also got my heart racing immediately. Fuck all you fuckers who have nothing to do with this but can't shut up about it.
posted by easter queen at 12:30 PM on January 14, 2016 [43 favorites]


I haven't been able to update the document since 9:36 pm CST last night.

This is chilling and is why I want the whole thing gutted if not removed.

How much more, "Er, I didn't plan on that happening," needs to happen?

I am so unbelievably uncomfortable seeing there is ultimately only ONE person with any power here and their very first comment was that he was disturbed by some of our conversation.

This person has still not clearly noted his part in this, and whilst being way too defensive he drops a line that actually, he hasn't updated the document as requested.

Hey Tim, please consider stripping or dumping this.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 12:43 PM on January 14, 2016 [20 favorites]


@easterqueen - my apologies for the livejournal reference. It was unhelpful and hurtful, I now realize.

As for cliquey - I meant that, yes, MeFi is a community with social circles and barriers to entry (beyond the $5 fee) that can make it intimidating to outsiders. To me, the difference between MeFi and those other sites seems to be that MeFi has an overall higher quality of membership. The relationships are stronger and there is more implicit trust, with the caveat that it takes longer to feel welcome. It is also markedly smaller in membership than those other sites, which makes it feel more special. Feelings are what make this site run, imho.
posted by grumpybear69 at 12:43 PM on January 14, 2016 [3 favorites]


alms appears to have buttoned :(
posted by pharm at 12:43 PM on January 14, 2016


(And we should add, it's an evolving situation partly because the stories and justifications have been changing over the past few days. If we want to talk about "how can we prevent this next time", my main advice would be 100% transparency from the very beginning.)

Worth pointing this out loud and clear again. I have been following this closely and I still have a really shaky understanding of who's involved. For instance, I have no clue who TimidRobotZehta is (hoster? editor? strongly involved person??) or even really why we're all supposed to thank oklima297 for seeking out permission even though they're not even the owner of the document (which is the correct and only person who should be seeking permission to publish shit).

It's a fucking mess, even now after days of EL spent on this, that we still have this black-box approach of "I'll contact my contacts and something something".
posted by odinsdream at 12:46 PM on January 14, 2016 [12 favorites]


This is the weirdest thing I have ever seen happen here. And this will be my tenth year, though only my fifth or so participating outside of Ask.
posted by sweetkid at 12:50 PM on January 14, 2016 [8 favorites]


This is the weirdest thing I have ever seen happen here. And this will be my tenth year, though only my fifth or so participating outside of Ask.

Nowhere near the strangest, in my opinion.
posted by josher71 at 12:51 PM on January 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


Nowhere near the strangest, in my opinion.

Pour one out for our surprisingly alive homie, holdkris99
posted by Greg Nog at 12:53 PM on January 14, 2016 [24 favorites]


FWIW I interpreted his "not being able to edit it" as he hasn't had the chance or is at work or whatever. Hopefully the document is not in limbo. I do think it's strange that the creator of the work is not the one editing it but whatever.

This is the weirdest thing I have ever seen happen here. And this will be my tenth year, though only my fifth or so participating outside of Ask.

Yeah, I've seen nastier and angrier MeTas for sure but this is definitely in the top five "hardest to understand why this happened". There have been more oddball ones, I guess.

I am glad that some of the people most hurt by what happened have come back to this thread and are being heard. I think it needs to be very clear on the site that if you are intending to create a work incorporating copyrighted Metafilter comments that you need to seek permission from each individual commenter BEFORE you begin. And frankly you should probably also discuss with the mods.
posted by selfnoise at 12:55 PM on January 14, 2016 [8 favorites]


Pour one out for our surprisingly alive homie, holdkris99

Bingo
posted by josher71 at 12:55 PM on January 14, 2016


It's already in the torrents.

Aw shit. I looked and can confirm this. All leechers and no seeders for the moment.

Not linking here. If anyone who is in the pdf and wants to monitor the torrent, needs the link and can't find it, feel free to memail me.
posted by zarq at 12:55 PM on January 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


As far as I can tell from my following of this issue in this metatalk odinsdream: oklima297 is the primary author of the document & when she had originally finished it she showed it to various people on some of the Crone Island slack channels who were generally supportive of it. TimidRobotZehta was responsible for the hosting the document on some combination of github for editing via ODF XML (presumably with oklima using LibreOffice to do the actual editing) with the resultant pdf published to his Google Drive link. Presumably TRZ has some social connection to oklima297.

Because the shared link is a Google Drive one, it can't be taken over by anyone else - it's tied to TRZ's personal Google account I believe. Possibly he could give edit rights to other people though?
posted by pharm at 12:57 PM on January 14, 2016 [4 favorites]



Nowhere near the strangest, in my opinion.

Pour one out for our surprisingly alive homie, holdkris99


yes that was the strangest. I don't know. It's a tossup between these two.
posted by sweetkid at 12:59 PM on January 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


Because the shared link is a Google Drive one, it can't be taken over by anyone else - it's tied to TRZ's personal Google account I believe. Possibly he could give edit rights to other people though?

If it's on Google Drive/Github, yes, it is completely possible to add additional contributors for editing/updating.

I do hope it's in a private repository, though, if the GitHub thing is true? Otherwise this could be even more forked up than it is now.
posted by qcubed at 1:02 PM on January 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


Aw shit. I looked and can confirm this. All leechers and no seeders for the moment.

Not linking here. If anyone who is in the pdf and wants to monitor the torrent, needs the link and can't find it, feel free to memail me.


I found it on torrents a day or so after this thread went up. There was only one day that I saw where there were some seeders. Otherwise nada. I've had it in my torrent queue for days now in order to see what version it was but it has yet to download so it's pretty much a dead torrent at this point.
posted by Jalliah at 1:04 PM on January 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


Good to know, thank you. Its stats say it was downloaded 10 times and uploaded 6 days ago. Which means it was/is a version containing comments from people who subsequently asked to be removed.
posted by zarq at 1:05 PM on January 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


I do hope it's in a private repository, though, if the GitHub thing is true? Otherwise this could be even more forked up than it is now.

Tim appears to have scrubbed the github repo about 18 hours ago.
posted by pharm at 1:07 PM on January 14, 2016


(Which probably means that the github change history *was* public up until then, but I can't say that for sure.)
posted by pharm at 1:08 PM on January 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


It's probably better not to post in this thread about other places where the document is available, if one's trying to support the goal of harm reduction here.

I also want to say: any individual member's choice about how they want to respond to this, whether they want to have their comments in the document or not, is completely their own free choice. Nobody should be pressuring anybody else one way or the other about this, period.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 1:10 PM on January 14, 2016 [9 favorites]


Er, the README.md file is still up, and displays automatically with GitHub. It has links to the PDF and MOBI versions of the file, which, as of right now, are still live.
posted by qcubed at 1:11 PM on January 14, 2016


I was scrubbing the GitHub repo on every removal, but I have completely removed the LibreOffice document from there until the changes die down.
posted by TimidRobotZehta at 1:12 PM on January 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


qcubed: That is exactly the same PDF link that everyone has been sharing already I think & the mobi link is dead, so there's nothing there that hasn't already been made public elsewhere at least.
posted by pharm at 1:17 PM on January 14, 2016


There's a fucking eBook?
posted by odinsdream at 1:19 PM on January 14, 2016


I volunteered to make an especially good one! I, uh, am very grateful now that no one invited me to do so.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 1:22 PM on January 14, 2016 [4 favorites]


There was.
posted by pharm at 1:23 PM on January 14, 2016


There's a fucking eBook?

Well, .doc .pdf .mobi, they are all widely readable and basically interchangeable. It doesn't seem to me like it matters all that much what format(s) it's in.
posted by OmieWise at 1:29 PM on January 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


I believe Chuck Tingle was in talks to do the cover.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 1:44 PM on January 14, 2016


This thread seems to be dominated by a complete opposition to the document, but that is not the whole story.

I don't think you see the whole story behind that consent.

I was part of the original rah-rah crowd because yes, that thread changed my life. I first felt fear and uneasiness when I saw it, but submerged it because: a) I've really wanted to show that thread to my mom but couldn't because she doesn't have internet. Here was a document I could reasonably print out; I was excited about my mom reading it. And b) I also naively assumed it was somewhat MeFi based and the "thinking through" process as part of its creation had kinda been done already - like permission asked and granted (I didn't think I'd be in it, so not being asked wasn't a red flag). I feel positively sick* about that and I'm so sorry, even though my apologies doesn't mean shit compared to the loss of people whom I adore.

I have one sentence in there. The quote itself isn't personally revealing. I was still thinking about my mom. I gave my consent. I almost withdrew it when I learned about the links. Then. . .

Here's what you did to this percentile of consent: I'm shy so on MeFi I have to simultaneously operate within this weird duality: a) I almost have to pretend no one reads my comments. I have to shrink the room in my head, and when people are sharing intimate and personal stories it's easier. I feel safe. And after time, years and years, trust. b) I'm still on the fucking internet. I know how the internet works. I know how many unique views this site gets.

I work in extremely male dominated profession. I've been the only woman in a room with 150 guys. I talk a lot on this site about my experiences with sexism and misogyny. With outright hate. My fear isn't that a friend will recognize me, it's that a non MeFite type coworker will. Like the coworker who once keyed "cunt" on my car. Or the guy I once fired who went home and beat the shit out of his wife. I need a place where I feel safe to talk about this shit, where I don't have to explain what's wrong with it. I have no other place to do this.

But it's still the internet - I make choices all the fucking time about what I say here; 7/10 times I don't comment, and when I do, I have to make this huge calculation about that visibility versus how my comment is useful for interacting with this community and I FUCKING HATE IT. I hate not commenting in a thread I could add some fun info to because it might be too personally revealing. I hate that when my husband says I'm sidebarred I don't feel excitement but a little pulse of fear. I suspect you've never weighed commenting about your life or your work every single time with the fear that someday, someone will cause physical harm to you or harassment like rape threats.

I'm so pissed at myself for not seeing right away that those little feelings might be amplified for others in that document. I'm positively sick about it, sick that those women had to actually push back and build arguments. It's my own fault for thinking that whoever built it had thought through all that in the first place. I want to throw up. But I knew about it for what, a day, as a user, not a builder. I didn't build it. I didn't spend "hours and hours" putting it together. I didn't spend 6 months knowing it existed.

I gave my consent because I was glad to contribute something of value and it wasn't personally recognizable. Because it already existed. But I still had to WRESTLE WITH THAT. I also didn't have the full picture nor do I feel I do now. So had to keep wrestling. I have one fucking sentence. And your response makes me think I've spent more time trying to weigh my tiny contribution's value to other women vs personal risk than was spent by the builders in their hours and hours of work weighing what putting that document together might mean to the people who contributed.

I have exactly one place where I can really talk about all the fucking awful sexist stuff that happens to me which isn't super sexist itself - the kind of site that allowed the EL thread to happen in the first place. As the scenario became more and more clear in its weird fucking muddled way, you and oklima ruined this place for me by finally pushing that weighing of risk vs contribution into the fear zone by doing exactly what I was afraid of might happen to comments on MeFi. Do you understand how much my guts have been ripped out by this? How heartbroken I am, how much loss I feel? Do you understand how fucking terrified I am that, without this place to let off steam and hear from other women, the sheer rage and helplessness will build and build until I do something horrible like ragequit my job or call a guy who swings around 30 foot steel pipe for a living and outweighs me by 150 lbs he's a sexist asshole? And I'm not the only one. This document has caused members of this site to leave. Members who have spent years helping to build this site. In my MeFi way, I love these women and am heartbroken too to lose them. And your response is your "many hours" of work? With percentiles of consent?

I withdraw my permission.

*Skybluepink, flex, mudpuppie, and others have said what I've been thinking so much better than what I've been struggling to** but as part of the original positive crowd: I'm so so sorry. Thank you all for speaking up.
**and thank you for that
posted by barchan at 1:47 PM on January 14, 2016 [71 favorites]


Tim, is there a reason that you followed this thread for a week before deigning to respond to concerns from the authors of this document, yet you somehow feel that you should be the sole editor/publisher of a document that you had no part in creating?
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 1:51 PM on January 14, 2016 [8 favorites]


I'll pop back in here to note that I am also one of the people who consented to stay in the document. I did so after careful consideration of the comment of mine that was chosen, and a risk/value calculation. Had my contribution been different, my choice might have been different as well.

I also am utterly sick about how this document has affected some contributors to that thread, and that I didn't realize that it would. (I was not in any way involved with its preparation, let me note, but I still feel that I should have realized what a problem it could be way back at the beginning of the thread. )

I'm thinking about withdrawing permission but I honestly don't know what the right calculation is there. Pull back permission as suggested above very reasonably? Stay in the document to help keep up the signal-to-noise ratio so if someone does choose to be a jerk about the document maybe I can draw fire from some of the more vulnerable people who might otherwise get picked on, and because I do think the document has / could have had a great deal of value if done with consent up front?

I don't know. I'm not withdrawing permission at this point. But I also don't want to be lumped in as 100% supportive of the document today, knowing where things stand at the moment, so I'm diving back in to say as much. My personal consent does not stand for uncritical support of the document, after having read through this thread. The safety of other MeFi members is much more important to me, and if someone comes up with a way to yank that document down without further compromising anyone's safety, I'm 100% fine with my words vanishing into the ether as part of that.
posted by Stacey at 1:54 PM on January 14, 2016 [16 favorites]


I wanted an actual paper book, god help me, because I wanted to read it again and again, and I wanted to give it to everybody I know because I think everyone should read it. But I wanted the book to be the whole thing. What I object to most about this project is the editing. I hated that idea--of making a trimmed-down version--when it was posited in the original thread and should have spoken up at the time. I want THE THING ITSELF. The thing bowdlerized and hacked up and reassembled is vastly less than than the thing and vastly worse than nothing, if you ask me. The emotional labor thread takes emotional labor. An emotional-labor-saving device like this pdf is blasphemous. I mean, RTFT, mahfahs. The buffet is open: parthefucktake. No, you cannot cherrypick.

So this pdf pissed me off from the git before I'd properly considered the copyright issue or the fact that it likely could endanger some of the people who commented. But I granted permission to use my username and my blather because that original desire of mine for the unattainable book made me appreciate and sympathize with the urge that led to the creation of the pdf. I granted permission before I thought this through and would now like to retract it. Oklima297, I retract my memailed offer of "The Fork Comment," and further would like you to get all mention of things written by me and all mention of me and my username out of the thing. I still sympathize with you and still believe your heart was in the right place. I just vehemently disagree that anyone needed to expurgate that gorgeous thread or hack it up and rehash it into sections, and I don't want to imply that I endorse the project by allowing my username to remain in the pdf. And of course I don't want to imply an endorsement of an unauthorized reproduction of people's intellectual property.
posted by Don Pepino at 2:10 PM on January 14, 2016 [24 favorites]


Oklima297, TRZ, have you considered handing over control of the document to its authors?
posted by progosk at 2:20 PM on January 14, 2016 [4 favorites]


As not excited as I am by the idea of adding another layer of mediation to the document management process, I feel like it might be easier at this point to work out the details of what the current and future state of the doc stuff is and should be in a venue other than a week-old metatalk thread where we're all already pretty tired and wired and there's understandably not much benefit of the doubt left in anybody's tank.

So, thinking out loud here in case there's some obvious gaps I'm missing here. If this is all workable as a basic plan, I'm happy to go from there and try and work this out over email; in tandem with that, I think it'd be good to look at winding down this thread for good.

TimidRobotZehta, oklima297, it'd be useful to nail down definitively what the current state of the document workflow is and who has the keys to what, and what the future state of that can be that leaves folks feeling as comfortable as they can be and facilitate any further contributor-requested changes. Changing/adding ownership of the doc/process to an established community member seems like a good move there; that can be me if there's not something else that specifically makes more sense. The core issue: if folks decide they would rather withdraw permission or other details from their currently-included stuff in the doc, we need to be sure that's promptly facilitated, not just right now but tomorrow and a week from now and a month from now, etc.

The Google Drive-hosted pdf linked in the post here, and on The Mary Sue etc., seems to be the main high-visibility thing which suddenly taking down or zapping clear would be conspicuous; alternate formats (is that just the MOBI ebook?) sound like they're much lower-profile at this point, so it may make sense to just nix that/those versions or links, and any other pointers to the document other than the big can't-put-it-back-in-the-toothpaste-tube one we've all been looking at and talking about.

Folks who have any further "hey, I've changed my mind about my comment's inclusion/visibility/identification in the doc" requests or questions or concerned would be welcome to bring that to the contact form, and we'll make sure they get processed accordingly.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:23 PM on January 14, 2016 [23 favorites]


WHAAAT? NO!

I mean, yes to metafilter hosting and curating "The Document" (O please), vehement no to winding down the metatalk thread?!? I only got to it yesterday; where will people who're just finding out about this go to learn what's going on? Look: this was totally unfair use of our stuff. Even those of us who gave permission should be assumed to have been harmed because it's impossible to give permission after the fact for something that already happened, for all the reasons explained above. There are probably manymany more like me and like barchan who gave permission initially based on the memail from oklima297 and only now are figuring out what they (sortof,notreally,italreadyhappenedsohowcanweconsenttoithappening) consented to.
posted by Don Pepino at 2:36 PM on January 14, 2016 [5 favorites]


I know this is not a vote, but if it were one, I'd vote to keep it open.
posted by Too-Ticky at 2:44 PM on January 14, 2016 [2 favorites]


Yeah but if we don't wind down this talk now, where will the creators of this thing devolve further to? Revealing they used puppy skins to make book bindings? Every dozen or so hours seems to provide a further devolution.

I am reminded of something a friend once said to someone telling this long involved tale of what was, at its core, insurance fraud. "Please stop while I can still think less of you."
posted by phearlez at 2:45 PM on January 14, 2016 [6 favorites]


Please keep this open. We're only getting the half-assed transparency that we are getting right now because of holding feet to the fire through this MeTa thread. Again, I'm not in the EL thread or the doc but for the sake of my MeFi sisters who have been compromised by this, how can we keep track of changes/accountability/etc if all communication about this project is taken offline/backstage/off the record?
posted by kimberussell at 2:51 PM on January 14, 2016 [12 favorites]


This needs to be as transparent as possible. The secretive way this was done sparked this clusterfuck in the first place.
posted by zarq at 2:51 PM on January 14, 2016 [12 favorites]


It took DAYS of demanding answers to get even this far.
posted by zarq at 2:52 PM on January 14, 2016 [5 favorites]


I only got to it yesterday; where will people who're just finding out about this go to learn what's going on?

I guess I don't expect much to change from where we've gotten to at this point, and I'm not talking about deleting the thread or anything like that; I feel like "what's going on" is pretty much what has already gone on and all bumpiness aside the specifics of where the doc is and what's wanted with it, and the idea that folks may want to change their permission/inclusion status going forward, are sort of stabilized, and I'd like to focus on tying up the remaining loose ends at this point in the spirit of the stuff folks have been asking for.

Basically, it's been bumpy as hell and nerves are raw, and I don't mind the thread staying open in principle, but I don't really want it to just keep flaring up. And at this point it feels like we have more opportunities for flare-ups than for new substantial useful stuff coming up. But, again, that's my perception, which is why I'm broaching it rather than just literally yanking down the shutter at this point; if folks feel like there's something specifically useful to do in here still that is better done here than over email or in some future discussion that has some breathing room, it's fine with me if you want to lay that out.

The other practical issue here is that, as much as we work scheduled shifts with sane hours (getting a little saner as we bring Eyebrows into the mix), this isn't really the sort of thread that mods can easily just write off as a Not My Problem thing because they're off duty. I've had days off in the last week but I haven't really had any days off, and that goes at least to some extent for everybody else on the team as well, and there's been a lot more work happening on our end than just comments in this thread, and we're all kinda bushed.

Which, again, doesn't mean the thread has to close, but if it's gonna stay open I'd like for it to be in service of some clear utility rather than just feeling like an opportunity for more bad feelings and raw nerves.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:58 PM on January 14, 2016 [9 favorites]


My two cents as just one dude who found the EL thread amazingly useful and humbling, I'd say the useful point to get to would be modly pressure for pretty much how you put it:

it'd be useful to nail down definitively what the current state of the document workflow is and who has the keys to what, and what the future state of that can be that leaves folks feeling as comfortable as they can be and facilitate any further contributor-requested changes.

But not as a "if that would be convenient for you" kind of thing, but as a "you need to officially do that, period, signed The Mods." Honey and vinegar, I get it, but a lot of the bumpiness in getting nearer to that state has probably been due to leaving it be to more affected parties to go after that nailing-down while struggling through umpty iterations of Well Actually Since You Don't Seem To Know The Internet Works Like and that whole Let Me Whip Out Percentages Ah HA! pothole section of the recent road.
posted by Drastic at 3:18 PM on January 14, 2016 [2 favorites]


I have not had time to read all of this thread and I still don't have time now, but from what I can gather this is not something I want to be part of; therefore I rescind permission for use of my comment.
posted by HotToddy at 3:33 PM on January 14, 2016


People should do what they want, but for myself I'm not going to change my grant.

Even if folks who worked on the compilation have failed in thoughtfulness or seem to really love putting their own foot in their mouth, this is still a worthwhile thing to exist. I gave my permission based on that theory and no matter how badly they fall oh grodd please just stop getting worse that's not going to change.
posted by phearlez at 3:42 PM on January 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


Here's a Google Docs help page titled "Transfer file ownership". You can transfer ownership of a Google Docs file to someone else and the links will still work regardless of ownership. They don't change.

I know, because I just tested it with this document between two google accounts.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 4:03 PM on January 14, 2016 [2 favorites]


MetaFilter should hold the keys. Because for one thing the current keyholders' method of expunging people, redacting the username but keeping the content? That's insufficient. Example (I replaced most of the content, which was empathizing with [username], with loremipsum):

Hey, [username],

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat.

He [username’s cheating husband, just busted again] duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit! In voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum!!!


Now, maybe [username] just wanted their username replaced with [username], but maybe [username] asked to be removed. If that's the case and the editors obliged by replacing [username]'s username with [username], it's not enough at all, because suppose [username's cheating husband, just busted again] is now [username's vindictive exhusband out to wreak havoc]? Suppose he gets sent The Document on facebook by one of his friends who knows he was an oftbusted cheating husband? Suppose he sees this, knows [username] is a Mefite, goes and finds the EL thread, CTRL EFFS his way to this comment, then scrolls up to [username]'s comment that inspired it and that contains sufficient detail to allow him to recognize himself for sure? Now that he knows [username]'s username, he can CTRL EFF himself into a surfeited selfpity blackout, bestcase, or, worstcase, a violent tantrum.

I don't think wanting to keep yummy poignant content is sufficient reason not to completely expunge from the document people who want to be completely expunged from the document.

What if MetaFilter assumed responsibility for the keys? Then someone with more experience with this sort of thing could do a search-and-destroy for all instances of [username].
posted by Don Pepino at 4:15 PM on January 14, 2016 [2 favorites]


All of the posts and quotes that remain with "[username]" are used by permission.
posted by TimidRobotZehta at 4:31 PM on January 14, 2016 [1 favorite]


It's great that the doc can be transferred to cortex or similar! What a relief for the people who are bearing all of the hard work of keeping it edited it now, and what a relief the people who want it to be in trustworthy hands. I'll be happy to hear of it being transferred; it sounds like a win/win.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 5:05 PM on January 14, 2016 [24 favorites]


I'm sure it will be transferred real quick, yep. Certainly there's no reason to think anything else would happen at this point.
posted by odinsdream at 5:14 PM on January 14, 2016 [8 favorites]


(And, I don't mean it's not in trustworthy hands now, of course, I don't have any opinion about that! I just mean that cortex is a known quantity to the community here and I imagine that a lot of people will be more comfortable with someone who we know, you know? I'm sure all the hard work that has gone into it will continue to be credited in the versions that exist going forward, and it will surely be appreciated and acknowledged.)
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 5:15 PM on January 14, 2016 [12 favorites]


I believe Chuck Tingle was in talks to do the cover.

"Pounded In The Butt By My Ebook Compiled from a Discussion Forum 'Emotional Labor Pounds Me In The Butt'", by Chuck Tingle.
posted by theorique at 6:24 PM on January 14, 2016 [9 favorites]


Just a quick update; I've talked with oklima297 and TimidRobotZehta over email and they've given me co-edit permissions on the existing EL document and the permissions-tracking spreadsheet, which I'll go over in detail as soon as I'm able, and they've both been on board with handing off any responsibility for those docs going forward.

Literally transferring ownership of the live PDF document that exists right now looks like it may not possible in this case for technical reasons, but I'll look into whether there's any sort of workaround there or other good solutions in the long run; TRZ and oklima have both expressed a ready willingness to respect any future request to edit or remove documents if that turns out to be the thing the community needs to have happen.

While the thread here is open folks can continue to note any requests and such here, but again any further permissions-adjustment/-revocation requests can also come to the contact form and I'll make sure we get them rolled into the live document. Likewise fine to let us know about any other related questions or concerns if that's what you prefer.

Thanks everybody for your forbearance with all this; I know it's been a weird and unhappy episode, especially for something coming out of what has otherwise been such a positive touchstone in recent site history.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:27 PM on January 14, 2016 [32 favorites]


What, if any, policy changes or user interface changes are appropriate to make to avoid this happening again?
posted by saeculorum at 7:39 PM on January 14, 2016


Thanks for keeping the thread open, cortex. I (personally) think it's important for folks to continue to be able to process this with others here, rather than just through the contact form. Thanks also for taking on an editorial role with the document, which is certainly above and beyond the scope of your duties and something I'm guessing you never bargained for.
posted by mudpuppie at 7:54 PM on January 14, 2016 [10 favorites]


What, if any, policy changes or user interface changes are appropriate to make to avoid this happening again?

Also, no offense, but I feel like this is beating up the mods for something that they were not responsible for. Asking them how they'd respond differently is one thing. Asking them how they'd prevent a problem they didn't cause in the first place, either culturally or technically, is totally another, and it seems unfair to me.
posted by mudpuppie at 7:59 PM on January 14, 2016 [21 favorites]


Cortex specifically has been great on this.
posted by sweetkid at 8:00 PM on January 14, 2016 [12 favorites]


I feel like this is beating up the mods for something that they were not responsible for

That was not my intent, although I do realize how it could be parsed that way. I was wondering if there is a way to prevent this, even though I agree they did not cause this. I'm wondering if there is a way to communicate the group norms that were reflected in this thread.

I would never have considered any of the norms that were expressed in this thread had I been interested in making such a document (fortunately, I was not interested). Is there a way to communicate those to people who are as daft as me?

Further, is there a way to prevent people from making comments that would be dangerous if shared more widely (as has, apparently, happened here) as a harms reduction method?
posted by saeculorum at 8:06 PM on January 14, 2016 [2 favorites]


I think we can trust people to do their own risk calculus, now operating under slightly less certainty that Metafilter offers relative obscurity. Trying to come up with some sort of policy against oversharing seems heavy handed at best, and paternalistic at worst.
posted by ChuraChura at 8:11 PM on January 14, 2016 [12 favorites]


Thanks for the link, Ivan. As the tiny print disclaimer notes, "Consumer Drive users: You can't transfer ownership of a synced or uploaded file (like a PDF or an image file)." But Tim and I have provided Cortex with edit access and all necessary information for edits, including our continued availability to him for any questions and our willingness to assist in any additional technical solutions for transfer. We will otherwise bow out, and let the mods take full control over editing and decision-making regarding the document on behalf of the MetaFilter community. My thanks to Cortex and the other mods for taking that work on, and my apologies once again.
posted by oklima297 at 8:25 PM on January 14, 2016 [16 favorites]


saeculorum,

Upthread cortex mentioned how spread thin the mod team is. Perhaps your questions would be better suited for the next MeTa on this topic:

Ok, I'll work on a MeTa for a later date - people can memail me with comments/questions/additional suggestions for that. Or, if someone else wants to take ownership of this, please feel free to do so.
posted by melissasaurus


I am in no way suggesting that you shouldn't ask those questions! Just saying that perhaps the timing is wrong.
posted by futz at 8:26 PM on January 14, 2016 [2 favorites]


Yeah, no problem with the questions but I'll catch up with it in the morning, and some of that's probably mostly a good fit for the MetaTalk post melissasaurus is planning to make.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:01 PM on January 14, 2016 [2 favorites]


Just an update on that: it's ready to go, I just haven't submitted it yet since it will be held in queue for at least a few days anyway due to mod availability. People can still contact me if they have any thoughts on it before the thread goes live.
posted by melissasaurus at 11:14 PM on January 14, 2016 [3 favorites]


Writing as someone who had Serious Privacy Concerns about this whole thing, I would like to tell my fellow MeFites that seeing Cortex, et al. will take the keys for this doc--

this is the first time since this whole shitstorm happened that I have been able to take a deep breath.

(Some props and some finger wagging: Props to my sisterhood and the support I've received from other members. It has been unbelievably moving and it's what kept me coming back here and pushing, pushing, pushing for change.

Finger wagging to those who continued to explain how the internet works and completely ignored/minimized that their MeFite family members were clearly stating that they were in danger because of what these two NONMEMBERS did.

To all of you who felt the need to, "Yeah, but..." our very real concerns, please know that in the future when people are telling you that Something Bad could be a consequence--even though MetaFilter is an awesome place for looking at all sides of issues and feeling able to express all of the ways of thinking about things--just have the intelligence and compassion to respect there's genuine fear coloring a lot of comments, so please don't pour salt on our fear by pointing out where we're wrong.)

While the thread here is open folks can continue to note any requests and such here...

Wiping the links and references to ALL MetaFilter threads would make a lot of us feel better, and oklima297 has expressed that she is fine with that change (not that it matters).
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 2:52 AM on January 15, 2016 [19 favorites]


I'm not usually a fan of changing standard tool behavior, but I do notice that many sites override default cut-paste functions. The particular compromise I am thinking of would be to modify cut-past of the "posted by" tagline so that the hyperlink to the user profile becomes just static text with the username.

This would obviously not be an across the board technical guarantee, and easily overridden with manual effort. It would also be analogous to the 'no search indexing' function currently implemented by the site on user profiles and would likely have addressed the issue of the initial creation of a pdf file with active links to every mentioned user profile.

In contrast, I can't think of a situation where I've ever wanted to actually copy the link portion of a user's identity. I don't think the extra right click to copy link location would be an undue burden.
posted by meinvt at 6:58 AM on January 15, 2016 [5 favorites]


Okay, so!

What, if any, policy changes or user interface changes are appropriate to make to avoid this happening again?

There's a couple ways of looking at this:

1. What would have prevented this specific situation from playing out?
2. What's worth thinking about for the future in light of this situation?

And the answers are different, and there's a lot to cover.

I'm gonna start by focusing on the first one, the what/how/why take on what went down here.

So: what realistic policy or UI mechanism could have prevented this specific situation from playing out? I've been thinking hard about this for a week now and talking with the team about it (and likewise more generally about related ideas for years), and the answer, unsatisfying as it is in context, is just about nothing. There's no major oversight in site policy or reasonable UI mechanics that would have prevented the actual core problem here, because that problem isn't a policy or UI problem.

The core problem is that no one thought to stop and ask an obvious question: "are the people being quoted in here going to be okay with being quoted in here?" That's in part a dry copyright (and, complicating things but that's a different discussion, Fair Use) question but, much more importantly and by far the primary issue in this case, a personal safety/privacy question about the impact of not just quotation but potentially throwing a spotlight on that quoted content. It's a question that should have been obvious, and should have led immediately to either seeking permission from contributors directly or checking in with the MetaFilter staff about how and whether to proceed so that we could provide guidance.

There's no question that there's a copyright notice at the bottom of every page asserting that individual users retain their copyright; the FAQ specifically reiterates this, going so far as to make an explicit example of needing permission to compile something book-like from other folks' text; even the folks who worked on or saw this document over the last several months weren't operating under the impression that that copyright didn't exist, certainly can't and won't claim to be unaware of the concept of copyright. From a common sense perspective, anyone compiling pages and pages of material should immediately stop and say, shit, this is way more than grabbing a quick paragraph of something. I need to ask about this.

It's, again, something that should be obvious, and something that's made unambiguous by the existing copyright text.

We can't ultimately prevent individuals from failing to ask a basic question that they should ask. We can't prevent a lapse in common sense. And as we saw here, we can't prevent folks en masse from failing to stop and re-ask that question; it's easy for someone to lend the benefit of the doubt that the person before them in the chain has been responsible about that issue and that it's just taken care of now. And so the error cascades.

If no one thinks to ask, and no one reads or processes the notifications on the site, then it just doesn't happen. It's a human error gap that will always exist, even in the absence of any kind of malicious or intentionally negligent behavior; we see it all the time in various lower-stakes forms on MetaFilter, where almost universally well-meaning users, new and old, fuck up on some clearly-signposted aspect of site guidelines or well-established community norms, and the only recourse is to fix it up after the fact and reiterate that it's a problem that shouldn't happen again.

Something we can do as a policy matter is actively check with people working on any sort of project reusing/remixing MetaFilter content that we are aware of as a mod team, to make sure these questions have been asked and answered correctly. And that's something we currently do; I've discussed a large range of MeFi-centric projects with users over the years, both things where they came to me ahead of time to ask (great!) and things where I tripped over or someone notified me about something in the offing or in the planning stages and I went and inquired directly (not so great, but it has basically always worked out okay once I said "hey, uh...").

We'll keep doing that, and I'll take this whole episode as a reminder to jump a little quicker to trust-but-verify instead of just trust mode if another project with this kind of size and potentially sensitive context suddenly comes down the pipe, however well-meaning. I regret not immediately thinking to sanity check this when it came along to MetaTalk, much as it would have still been a cat-out-of-the-bag situation it turns out; I let myself be part of that cascading error that passed the benefit of the doubt upstream, just like everybody responding positively at the start of this thread. It's something I wish I'd jumped on quicker.

UI and policy aside, though, another thing that can help here is for folks in the community to be collectively aware of potential issues here and broach them when they come up, whether to the party doing the work or to us at the contact form with a quick "hey, you might want to check in on this" note. And that's something I think a lot of folks will be more likely to think to do now having been involved in this whole situation.

It's the one thing that would have been most likely to prevent this specific scenario; that, with a little bad luck, it's so easy for it to not happen is very human heart of the problem, but that's also why it's so useful and important for folks to have it on their radar. Everybody's fallible, everybody's prone to assume things are kosher or to shrug something off as being probably fine, but if we can nudge up everybody's probability of stopping and asking instead of shrugging even just a little bit, the collective change in the probability of someone stopping and asking leaps up enormously. That's one of the amplifying powers of a community. I think that probability has already jumped up as a result of this whole situation, and that at least is one good outcome.

So that's the What Was bit. I'm gonna get another cup of tea and then I'll tackle the second point, the What Now question.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:14 AM on January 15, 2016 [44 favorites]


Thanks, cortex.

Something that I think a lot of community members were frustrated by was the lack of transparency & control as the privacy issues were bring addressed, and the feeling of powerlessness that their concerns would even be addressed at all. So I'm curious: is this something where MetaFilter could [not should; that's a separate question!] have enforced the copyright on by slapping them with a C&D order (or the threat of one) until all the issues were satisfactorily resolved, or does the "© original authors" mean that it would have been up to each poster, individually, to pursue?

I ask because I think it would mean a lot to the posters to know that MetaFilter is prepared* to have our backs by throwing its organizational/legal weight around, and because having that support* stated would put individual posters in a stronger position negotiation-wise. Is it feasible -- legally or business-wise -- for MetaFilter to do so?

____
* Even if MetaFilter doesn't act on every instance! I know that in this case a takedown notice might have done more harm than good. Hence "could" & not "should" -- I'm asking whether MetaFilter is able & willing to act, not for a commitment that it always will.
posted by Westringia F. at 10:34 AM on January 15, 2016


So I'm curious: is this something where MetaFilter could [not should; that's a separate question!] have enforced the copyright on by slapping them with a C&D order (or the threat of one) until all the issues were satisfactorily resolved, or does the "© original authors" mean that it would have been up to each poster, individually, to pursue?


Any one of the commenters quoted could have, as holders of their own copyright, delivered a DMCA takedown request to Google to demand the document be removed or redacted. While it sounds intimidating it's really a fairly straightforward thing. Different operations are differently helpful about DMCA requests but the big operations tend towards shrugging and just knocking things offline.

Once such a thing is done there's an opportunity for the alleged rights violator to provide a counter-notice claiming they have a right (say under fair use or other grants) but there's still a 10-14 day cooling off period before the material can be returned to distribution.

When I was one of the grand poobahs of We Love DC we sent a few of those out when people were using our full-content RSS feed to mirror our stuff elsewhere. Tended to take about 5 minutes to find the right contact address where stuff was hosted and another 5 minutes to compose the email with the link to the offending content and supporting links to show that nope, not theirs - ours.

Never failed to get action within 12 hours, though we never ran up against anyone who wasn't using US domestic hosting. Outside the US would be dicier but the big players are so often US based or multinational with serious US interest that it's surprising to run across many hosts who won't honor a legit-seeming DMCA notice.
posted by phearlez at 10:48 AM on January 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


Right, so:

2. What's worth thinking about for the future in light of this situation?

Having said above that I don't think we had any good way to bulletproof the situation we've been dealing with here, I think this is still a good opportunity to look at things we could do to make folks incrementally more comfortable with the balance we're striking on the site with policy and UI stuff.

And I think that's a mix of potential changes and renewed expectations-setting.

~ On-site changes:

A few ideas have come up in here, all well-intentioned but some more workable than others; as melissasaurus has said, she's got a MetaTalk post drafted at this point that I've asked her to plan for Monday for posting, to give everybody a chance to catch their breath, and I think that'll be the best place for detailed discussion of these things.

That said, I can give a few things a gloss right now just to give folks an idea of where I am generally on this stuff:

- We can review what we've got in the FAQ and see if it's worth revising or supplementing the current copyright entry to put additional emphasis on the idea of considering not just the copyright but the context of quoted material. That'd be a matter of consideration, not enforceability—we have no legal standing to say "don't be thoughtless" and copyright enforcement for individual comments remains in the individual user's purview—but saying it explicitly is worth considering in any case.

- I'm okay with the idea of allowing individual users to explicitly opt to have a greater share of their profile page info be members-only rather than totally public-facing. We provide this for some fields already; revisiting and expanding that seems doable. It'll be good to talk about that in some more detail.

- We're not looking at more fundamentally obscuring user activity on the site; a comment or a post is still going to be as searchable and as googleable as ever if someone's just straight up looking, even if we change profile page options such that it's less trivial for a non-member to browse someone's posting history. The public, indexed nature of most MetaFilter participation is a core part of the site and can't change.

- We have been and will continue to be willing to delete or edit sensitive comments or questions after the fact on a case-by-case basis, on the original user's request. We try to keep this to a minimum for site continuity purposes (and as has come up here re: quotation-of-quotation in the PDF, it can get complicated to properly clean something up in some cases), but it's there as an option and we have basically always been able to accommodate a reasonable request. We've done a couple bits of that for this specific situation, and have been glad to be able to help there.

- We're not moving to self-serve deletion, however. That's a far hairier proposition for a variety of reasons, and again comes down in significant part to the core idea of how MetaFilter works. If you need something removed, the process will continue to be one of contacting the mods to facilitate.

- Altering default copy-and-paste behavior is a hard no.

It's a long thread so I may have missed a suggestion/question or two re-skimming; if there's something else someone wanted a quick opinion on as far as feature/UI stuff goes, let me know, though again probably the best place to dig in on any of this stuff or brainstorm further will be the new MetaTalk next week. And as usual, folks are always welcome to ping us at the contact form if you want to brainstorm without an audience.

~ On setting expectations:

One of the painful but important things that's come out of this discussion is the reminder in practice that MetaFilter is an almost entirely public, publicly-indexed online community.

That's a thing that's important to emphasize not as any kind of rebuke to the wholly valid concerns and distress that have been at the heart of this, but as a way of framing how we look at how to deal with this stuff in the future and how each individual user manages their risk assessments about participation. That's a hard problem, and a personal one.

And it's hard because it's not as simple as "if it's sensitive, don't say it in public". Several folks have laid out a very real tension in here: being torn between wanting to be able to share and have a space where they know their sometimes deeply personal and vulnerable stories and questions will be received in a compassionate and thoughtful way, and wanting to not feel regretful or exposed if the nominally public but drop-in-the-ocean nature of a comment becomes instead very emphatically public. And there's a lot of value—personal value, community value—in being able to share that stuff. The original Emotional Labor thread was an amazing thing on the strength of so many people being willing to look at that tension and break toward the share-it-anyway side of the fence.

So I want to be supportive of that; it's definitely a valuable thing to aspire to. And to the extent that it's possible for us to do that, as a site staff and more broadly as a community, I want to do that. Talking about possible changes above to slightly ease the burden of that tension is part of that. Mods keeping an eye on potentially sensitive situations in case they need action is part of that. Reminding folks in the community at large to be thoughtful about when and how they quote or put new attention on something is part of that. Those are all things that we can do to help make it a little more possible, a little more comfortable to make the decision to share.

But, for all that: it's still a public site. It'll always be a public site. And so personal risk-assessment is always going to have to be a central part of this, which I know is not news to the folks most likely to need to do that kind of risk-assessment, but one of the things that periodic unhappy situations like this end up doing is acting as a reminder of the value of stopping now and then to re-assess. And I think that kind of regular reassessment is the best tool any of us have as individuals to keep ourselves safe, to do that maintenance every once in a while and make sure assumptions vs. practice haven't slipped out of alignment.

It won't be perfect and it would be unfair and unrealistic to expect anybody to be able to get it perfect. The whole nature of risk-assessment is that there is a risk, that with a stroke of bad luck almost-certainly-fine can turn into actually-a-real-problem. And as a moderation crew we'll do what we can to help out when stuff like that happens—again, contacting us about an emerging privacy disaster is always okay and something we can generally help with. And it's completely okay to contact us up front if you want to talk through a dilemma beforehand, or get advice on whether and how to proceed with something potentially sensitive. We're here, it's part of the job.

But that still has to be part of folks' expectations, at all times. There are aspects of the talking-in-public problem that aren't fixable, by me or by MetaFilter or by any amount of shared good intentions within our community.

I want to figure out what can do to best support folks in navigating that gnarled thicket of territory that comes with this tension between participation and privacy, but it's very important to me that as a site and as a community we don't misrepresent what is doable, what is possible, in a way that leads anyone to assume they are more insulated or private here than they actually are. It's important to me that people's expectations are set realistically, as frustrating as some of those realities can be.

It's tricky stuff. It's stuff we'll have to keep talking about, for as long as MetaFilter is a community. I don't think it'll get any easier, but I'm certain we'll keep making the effort, and I'm hopeful that we'll continue to mostly get it right, and I really deeply appreciate the willingness of folks in this community to be part of making that effort.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:06 AM on January 15, 2016 [33 favorites]


So I'm curious: is this something where MetaFilter could [not should; that's a separate question!] have enforced the copyright on by slapping them with a C&D order (or the threat of one) until all the issues were satisfactorily resolved, or does the "© original authors" mean that it would have been up to each poster, individually, to pursue?

It's interesting because it's in a middle-ground area that has very rarely come up in practice: the two more typical cases that have come up are (a) someone's just straight up scraping the site, which is pretty unambiguously MetaFilter's problem to solve (though in principle individual users could try to enforce claims on their subset of the scraped content), and (b) someone's using an individual's single comment or post, which is that individual's copyright claim to enforce.

If pressed by circumstances I'd certainly be inclined to make noise there, in any case, yes; I'd talk to Matt and to our lawyer about the best way to proceed and go from there. It's certainly not something that MetaFilter would be unable to make any effort on, though depending on the details how much of it would be MeFi acting as an entity vs. us helping coordinate with individual users would likely vary from one situation to another. Having not had to take any kind of legal action so far on something that closely resembles this case, I can't really tell you more.

I say "if pressed" because in this case we weren't; I totally understand people's unhappiness about and uneasiness with the non-mefite-controlling-the-document wrinkle of this already sufficiently crappy situation, and am glad we've remedied that now and with oklima and TRZ's prompt and unconditional cooperation when asked, but for all that weirdness and without dimissing the valid worry and distress various folks have experienced, this did move along toward a resolution fairly quickly as such things go and without any obvious need to involve legal maneuvers or escalation, and I consider that a very good thing all else aside. The possibility of legal recourse of various sorts is important and good to know is on the table, but it's also something that should come into play only when all the less-shitty options have been exhausted.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:29 AM on January 15, 2016 [7 favorites]


I'm sure this has already been discussed, but what about a (black-themed, of course) subsite that works much like the Blue but is only viewable by members? I realize it's not much of a barrier to entry, but it seems like anyone scraping/digesting content on the Black would be more likely to be familiar with community norms than someone doing that to content on the Blue.
posted by Jpfed at 11:32 AM on January 15, 2016


I'm sure this has already been discussed, but what about a (black-themed, of course) subsite that works much like the Blue but is only viewable by members?

Non-starter, there. At the point where folks want to have non-public MetaFilter-related discussions the appropriate move needs to be to set up some non-public, non-MetaFilter channel for it where there's a clear and coherent sense of expectations, security, membership control, etc. and of how that differs from MetaFilter proper. Reworking existing profile page stuff to provide a little bit more of an optional speedbump is one thing; relying on a speedbump to justify heavily muddling expectations about privacy across the site is another entirely, and a lot more problematic.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:41 AM on January 15, 2016 [4 favorites]


Would it be possible to expose MetaFilter's authentication API (as you have done with chat) in order to allow such a separate site to auth existing MeFi members, along with bringing over their public profile info or something? That would allow maintenance of the community aspect of MeFi on a private site without burdening the MeFi itself with, as you've stated, muddied expectations.
posted by grumpybear69 at 11:45 AM on January 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


It wouldn't be technically impossible, but it would be a big thing to bite off; we've talked about both content and auth APIs occasionally over the years and never really gotten to the "this is definitely worth the effort" point even on otherwise somewhat appealing ideas.

For spin-off sites that want to have a degree of mefi membership parity, there's been ad hoc schemes that have worked pretty well while not being slick and automagical; the most basic version of that is "send me a mefimail to verify that you are who you said you are on the sign-up form", which is certainly really manual but is also pretty simple and reliable.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:48 AM on January 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


Huge thanks to Cortex and the mod team for working through this stuff in a thoughtful, sensible way.
posted by naju at 11:51 AM on January 15, 2016 [15 favorites]


Cortex, your two-parter is a good enough comment pair that it's a shame to be on the bottom of this titanic thread. Maybe you could post it again at the top of the Monday MeTa post or it could be linked?

* * *

One thing I did notice in this thread is a fair amount of mistrust between site members and the Crone Island community(which I recognize is not a 100% subset of Metafilter members, but also contains non-members). I think this is unfortunate; it's quite valuable that members have the ability to form their own private communities, particularly since Metafilter is such an intentionally open community and sometimes you need to have a discussion in a safer, more private, or simply more appropriate space. I personally made some assumptions in earlier posts in this thread that I regret. I noticed that a lot of Crone Island members made attempts to explain how their community functions, which is laudable, but also I'm not sure we had to make that necessary.

I don't really have a policy suggestion for this (and to be clear, I have never visited Crone Island and actually don't know how I would even find it) but I think it ought to be possible not to default to assuming that subsites are cabals.
posted by selfnoise at 11:53 AM on January 15, 2016 [5 favorites]


Years ago, one of the interactive fiction contests generated a token, then had you paste it into your mefi profile to prove identity. As far as the ad-hoc schemes cortex mentioned, I thought that was pretty clever. I still have a token in my profile because lazy.

Rolling a whole third-party authentication API though, seems like a hell of a lot of work.
posted by 7segment at 11:59 AM on January 15, 2016 [2 favorites]


Yeah, the token/profile scheme is simple and works well.

One thing that concerns me about the copyright stuff is that while MeFi explicitly asserts that members retain copyright of their words, as something is more brief both the likelihood that its use elsewhere is covered by fair use increases and that it actually is subject to copyright protections decreases. Which is to say that people ought not assume that they can assert copyright over their individual comments in any given situation. A quote elsewhere as part of a separate original work is probably fair use. A couple of generic sentences may or not be protected by copyright in any case.

In that this document was carefully compiled as an edited and condensed version of the EL thread but included no additional content and the included EL comments appeared in full, there really is nothing about it that would qualify it as fair use. Taken as whole, in context, there's no question at all that this was a copyright violation. But a different document, one that is largely an original work but which includes a substantial number of quoted comments -- even quoted in whole -- could very well be entirely within fair use. And someone repeating someone else's short comment in a tweet, without additional context, may or may not be a copyright violation, depending upon how some judge feels about it, assuming you could get anyone to care. IANAL, but this is my understanding of this stuff.

But, also, isn't it the case that even if we users still hold copyright to our comments, something like a thread as a whole or the site as a whole can be legally considered also and additionally subject to copyright by the publisher, that being MetaFilter? If that's true, then it seems to me that with regard to anything that is approaching or similar to site-scraping -- which I think this case effectively was -- both individual commenters and MetaFilter Network Inc. can assert copyright. Regardless, I am persuaded by cortex's argument that this wasn't necessary in this case.

And to reiterate -- the most important issue here is potential harm and trying to be aware of this and to learn to ask permission as a result. It's just that in some cases there actually are legal protections available, and this was one of those cases. Which is kind of remarkable, really, as I think that it's usually not the case and even so a whole bunch of us didn't pick up on either the copyright problem or the potential harm problem. I think a lot of us have had a huge blind-spot revealed by this.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 2:26 PM on January 15, 2016


[Comment removed; in a thread where concerns for women's privacy online has been one of the paramount issues I really don't want to start down the road of using specific references to people's real-world identities to make a point. Don't feel like this should even need saying.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:06 PM on January 15, 2016 [7 favorites]


I noticed that a lot of Crone Island members made attempts to explain how their community functions, which is laudable, but also I'm not sure we had to make that necessary.

We did. Because waaaaaay upthread there was a comment that Metafilter had Crone Island to thank for the pdf. And then when Lyn Never explained that it wasn't a Crone Island project, she thought at the time that "There are CI members who apparently helped with the document (and I think there were people unrelated to all of it who got involved from other vectors), many of whom were in the original thread and so are presumably MetaFilter members, but this is also not a MetaFilter project." Part of which was wrong: the person (not people) who compiled the document was not a Metafilter member. The guy hosting the document wasn't a mefite. So all of that had to be clarified.
posted by zarq at 3:30 PM on January 15, 2016 [3 favorites]


I agree with all that, zarq, but the misunderstanding was not Crone Island's fault, and I'm not sure they should feel under pressure to clarify it.
posted by selfnoise at 3:46 PM on January 15, 2016 [1 favorite]


Both of those comments are from CI members, so I'm not sure whose fault the misunderstanding is if it's not CI's.
posted by Lexica at 3:52 PM on January 15, 2016 [3 favorites]


I think it's good to make clear that an entire community filled with mefites wasn't responsible for making some of us feel unsafe or violated.
posted by zarq at 4:25 PM on January 15, 2016 [4 favorites]


Update: the document should now be up to date with all outstanding permission changes since the previous edit; a few users had things removed on request, one user granted permission for use of a quote that had been elided in the prior absence of a response to oklima297's mefimail query, and I've edited the end notes a little to remove the explicit links in a couple places to mefi threads and note that I'm the most recent editor and point of contact. The document's now got slightly less content but still comes out to the 49 pages total that it was at when I took over the process.

For simplicity's sake, any future requests for changes should ideally come to the contact form or me directly (email or mefimail is fine); oklima297's been forwarding along recent requests to me and letting folks know to follow up with me for any future stuff there.

If there are any errors in what the document contains now vs. your granted/revoked permission, specifically for requests in the last day or so, please let me know; the document and permission-tracking spreadsheets that oklima and TRZ were using are very well-organized but it's not impossible I missed something in the process of taking the editing process onboard.
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:08 PM on January 15, 2016 [13 favorites]


cortex, I want to thank you and express my respect and how impressed I am for the way you've stepped in and handled this. Your thoughtful responses and explanations today showed how deeply you've considered the situation, and how future incidents might be discouraged. You've taken a difficult situation that was clearly upsetting a lot of people, taken the reins and I hope, made many of them feel less vulnerable. That their intimate stories are in safe, known hands.

Thank you.
posted by zarq at 5:26 PM on January 15, 2016 [30 favorites]


Increasing my monthly contribution to Metafilter based purely on all the great work the mods have been doing both in this thread and behind the scenes.
posted by triggerfinger at 5:32 PM on January 15, 2016 [7 favorites]


i'm also completely unimpressed by the descriptions of hard work that the people creating and editing this document undertook, when that labor was done on the backs of people who did not ask for your involvement. "sure, i made a giant mess of your living room but look how much time i took to clean it up in a way that will never be completely satisfactory!" is not as persuasive as you might imagine...

Ironically (or fittingly?), this closely resembles a common way emotional labor is often exploited IRL: "I did something for you; tell me what you think about what I did! Give me your evaluation! Be happy! Look happy! Seem grateful! But don't make it feel too forced!"
posted by threeants at 5:58 PM on January 15, 2016 [6 favorites]


Increasing my monthly contribution to Metafilter based purely on all the great work the mods have been doing both in this thread and behind the scenes.

I read this and thought, yes emotional labour is hard work, it creates value that I directly benefit from and there is the possibility of paying for that work! - and I also bumped my contribution.
posted by emilyw at 1:39 AM on January 16, 2016 [5 favorites]


I stand to applaud 7segment's post, the crack in the thread that began to let the light in. Good call.
posted by valetta at 3:30 AM on January 16, 2016 [5 favorites]


"And to reiterate -- the most important issue here is potential harm and trying to be aware of this and to learn to ask permission as a result."

We're not going to make a dent in IP law, we're not going to make teh internets a safe place, but I think this site is influential enough to affect social mores in the digital age. I made a bit of a 180 over the course of this MeTa; I'd guess others have too. This is an opportunity on an unsettled frontier.
posted by klarck at 4:10 AM on January 16, 2016 [3 favorites]


[Comment deleted. Let's please avoid personal attacks and just general re-amping the overall heat level here. Thanks.]
posted by taz (staff) at 4:55 AM on January 16, 2016


Couple more small edits to the doc made live. Given that we're likely to see a long, decelerating straggle of further permissions updates as various folks get to their mefimail late, there'll probably be a few of these "one thing added or removed" events over the next bit; I'll call 'em out briefly in the thread (e.g. "Another small edit to the doc" or whatever) while it's open and otherwise note anything significant in the doc end notes.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:33 AM on January 16, 2016


Jpfed: what about a (black-themed, of course) subsite that works much like the Blue but is only viewable by members?

Crone Island (croneisland.slack.com) and Hug Life (huglife.slack.com) could somewhat fill this role. They're not exactly what you're talking about because 1) they're explicitly gendered and 2) Slack is chat akin to IRC rather than comment threads like MetaFilter, but if you want to have discussions with MeFites in a place that is not viewable without an account, those Slacks are places you can do that.

A MetaFilter account isn't required to join either Slack but they are mostly populated by MeFites.
posted by Tehhund at 8:04 AM on January 16, 2016 [2 favorites]


Thanks for your thoughtful updates and work, cortex.

Pretty much all of this is obvious, but I wanted to remind myself of different kinds of potentially identifying information (because I'm forgetful). These are bits of info / vulnerabilities people have used to ID people, according to some hacker and privacy protection sites. I don't know what the odds of being doxxed are in general for people with no IRL or not IRL haters, but in theory, anyone who uses the site with regularity could be found by a motivated person with a bit of time.

- Disclosing that you're a woman, LGBT (particularly trans), disabled, or belong to a racial, ethnic, or religious minority
- Saying something some limited person finds inflammatory ( :/)
- Usernames (esp if used across other social media)
- Obviously actual name, birthday, etc
- Email, website, social media profiles
- IP address, ISP (weaker)
- Images (there's obviously just recognizing someone, also if an image has been used on a social media site, that profile can be found through a reverse image search)
- City, education, work / school locations, job title, organizational affiliations
- Likes / interests
- "Embarrassing personal details"
- "Biographical Info: What high school you attended, your sexual history, previous forums you visited, dumb things you said as a teenager; This is a catch all for information that isn’t directly useful, but can be used to embarrass, slander, or shame you. Details like these are also used by “diggers” to cross reference other information. Depending on the severity and nature of the information, this can translate from a quick episode of doxing to an extended slander campaign as harassers attempt to promote your dirty laundry, no matter how innocuous, untruthful, or irrelevant it may be, simply to get a rise out of you." (from here)
- Friends with known identities; family
- "Language comparisons" (stylistic anomalies, e.g. unusual capitalization; using the same or similar text in multiple online locations)


I don't think it's quite possible to be open and exactly "safe" at once.
posted by cotton dress sock at 9:21 AM on January 16, 2016 [10 favorites]


What is huglife?
posted by zarq at 9:44 AM on January 16, 2016


It seems to be the "male" analog to CI.
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 10:04 AM on January 16, 2016


Ah.
posted by zarq at 11:06 AM on January 16, 2016


Here is where it started.
posted by clavicle at 11:13 AM on January 16, 2016 [1 favorite]


Thanks, Cortex.
posted by kimberussell at 9:18 AM on January 17, 2016 [1 favorite]


New thread about privacy settings on MetaFilter.
posted by lalex at 10:14 AM on January 18, 2016


Requisite context, I'm a member of both Crone Island & Hug Life.

Neither space has a Calvin & Hobbes-esque "Boys/girls keep out" sign, though both have their focuses and demographic lean. I like to think of Crone Island as centering female & non-binary experiences, and Hug Life as centering male & non-binary experiences. Both aim to explore & unpack emotional labor issues in a positive/community-minded way, and both are (from what I've seen) very inclusive and supportive spaces.

Kinda like the Emotional Labor thread was, or a couple later threads where men took the example of the EL Thread and opened up on rough topics. Room for people to talk, but at the same time, be mindful of the space you're in, you know?

Much like Crone Island came out of the Emotional Labor thread, Hug Life came out of this thread about difficulties in maintaining/creating friendships in adulthood (and a tendency for men to let relationships like that decay outside of spouse/work). Lots of talk about avoiding toxic masculinity, non-traditional concepts of masculinity, etc. And recipes. Everybody loves swapping recipes. (huglife being the URL subdomain, Hug Life being the name, for clarity's sake)

There's some crossflow in figuring out how administration of Social Slacks can work (since the medium comes with its own challenges & expectations), so it really isn't any sort of "Women have this space, Men have that space, and never the twain shall meet" thing. (That would be be terrible for anyone uncomfortable with that strict binary if nothing else)

There's definitely different expectations/norms from MeFi (with overlap/guidance taken from it, of course), so I wouldn't call it a 1:1 mapping, but they're good spaces. I love that they're there, I love the feeling of community that exists there. There's going to be more stumbles along the way, it's probably inevitable with this many people, but through good will and (yes) conscious labor (emotional and otherwise), I'm optimistic that we can keep things running along well in some sort of long-run.
posted by CrystalDave at 11:14 AM on January 18, 2016 [12 favorites]


Thanks for the 'splainer, CrystalDave. I have a question, though--are they (or is either one) an explicitly safe space?
posted by Joseph Gurl at 3:37 PM on January 18, 2016


Can you say more about that question?
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 3:52 PM on January 18, 2016


Safe space is a specific term with a specific set of meanings. I'm asking if either of these sites is explicitly a safe space. Not really sure what else you want me to say?
posted by Joseph Gurl at 4:45 PM on January 18, 2016 [1 favorite]


While I'm a member of both CI and HL, I do not think I'm qualified to speak on behalf of CI, though I am an admin at HL.

As for HL, we're explicitly striving to become one. But, at the moment, there aren't a) that many people on HL on an active basis, b) we're still figuring things out and learning, c) we don't quite have the staff nor the tech to truly make it a "safe space".

CI is more developed at the moment, and we at HL are borrowing some concepts and best practices from them, such as working on a full-fledged Code of Conduct, figuring out how best to actually make the goal of a safe space for male-identified/non-binary individuals to discuss difficult concepts like EL, the nature of friendship, queer/MSM issues, and so on. (This is not to say female-identified individuals are not welcome; their perspectives are valuable and would be great to have.)

If it answers your question, Joseph Gurl, no, I don't think we meet the strict definition of a Safe Space. However, we do keep an eye out for misbehavior (which has not happened to my knowledge), and intend to do our best to create one. Safe-Space-as-Goal, I think, is what we're at; depending on how HL continues to grow, organically, we'll learn how best to approach it.
posted by qcubed at 5:24 PM on January 18, 2016 [4 favorites]


Can you say more about that question?

No, you say more about your question.

/Settles back into my hammock on the deserted beach of Cranky Isthmus.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 5:26 PM on January 18, 2016


I think an issue with any community is that whether something is a "Safe Space" or not seems to be somewhat of an unattainable goal? It is something to always, continually aim for, and refine policies and practices to better and better fit that goal.

Like filling a curve with the Riemann method.
posted by qcubed at 5:30 PM on January 18, 2016 [4 favorites]


Thanks, qcubed. I appreciate the thoughtful response.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 5:33 PM on January 18, 2016


A concept that might be useful is that of "Space of accountability". It's something that's been cropping up in my IRL queer spaces. Namely - we expect everyone to do their best, accept being held accountable (called out/in) when you fail, and then not screw up in the same way or a way they could be expected to know better. It's a more attainable goal, and sets people's expectations.
posted by stoneweaver at 6:48 PM on January 18, 2016 [14 favorites]


Could the document begin by stating that copyright is retained by the original MeFi commenters? And to be considerate of possible safety concerns when referring or pasting elsewhere?

Sorry to everyone harmed by our obliviousness to danger. We should have learned to mind the considerations of others without causing them pain first.
posted by halifix at 7:43 PM on January 19, 2016 [2 favorites]


Especially those that have told potentially identifying stories in this very thread to drive into our thick skulls how much threat they constantly experience.
posted by halifix at 7:52 PM on January 19, 2016


Safe space is a specific term with a specific set of meanings. I'm asking if either of these sites is explicitly a safe space. Not really sure what else you want me to say?

I'm not a rep for crone island or even from there so you don't really have to answer my question to get your question answered. I was surprised because to my knowledge no one from there mentioned anything about that or really anything much that related to that concept so I wanted to know what the context was for the question. It's a pretty controversial topic, as you know, I'm sure.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 10:39 PM on January 19, 2016 [2 favorites]


The context was Metafilter. Were you trying to ferret out an ulterior motive? Because I don't have one.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 11:16 PM on January 19, 2016


Well, it's just that some people in the past, when asking questions like that, often do have ulterior motives.

Some who ask questions like that have a history of using it to pin the unlucky answerer down just so they can ask them a few questions, or be a devil's advocate for this or that, and so on.

Others who bring up those topics seem to be doing so to interrogate or dismiss the policies and desires of the group in question.

Good faith is hard to come by.
posted by qcubed at 11:30 AM on January 20, 2016 [10 favorites]


"Be joyful, though you have considered all the facts." - Wendell Berry
posted by Joseph Gurl at 9:35 PM on January 20, 2016


A couple of comments deleted; we don't need the unrelated interpersonal stuff. I'm going to close this up, since it seems like we've wound down the original discussion in here, one resulting proposal is being discussed in a new thread, and it'll be good to give this a break.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 7:18 AM on January 21, 2016 [2 favorites]


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