Pony Request: Edited Flag February 20, 2016 7:04 PM   Subscribe

I am still seeing quite a few comments which are significantly edited for content using the edit feature. Things like tripling the length of the comment by adding two full sentences to it. Not minor edits where one or two words are changed, much less simply typos. The "Other" flag seems a little too generic but that's what I end up using when I flag them. A "Edited for Content" flag would be appreciated if possible?

Right now I fear that mods think I am an idiot for flagging what look like normal comments for "other". I'm not sure how obvious "comment tripled in size with edit feature" is if you're not actually looking for that.
posted by Justinian to Feature Requests at 7:04 PM (160 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

Right now I fear that mods think I am an idiot for flagging what look like normal comments for "other".

Nah, that's totally fine. We do have an "edit distance" indicator on comments in the admin view, so we can see an estimate at a glance if something had a couple characters tweaked vs something more extensive; it's not something we'll look at every time a flag comes in, but if it's sort of a head-scratcher otherwise then that's one of the things we'll check out. And if it's an especially weird/complicated situation it's always fine to drop us a note at the contact form to elaborate on the flag.

So, no new flag option for this, not at this point at least. It's something we can keep in mind down the road when we're looking at more general improvements/updates to the flagging process, but not a priority at the moment and the likeliest major change on that front would be adding an optional freeform text field to "other" in which case specific new flags would be kind of moot anyway.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:09 PM on February 20, 2016 [3 favorites]


In any case, heads up about weird editing is helpful, and we have seen a few cases of folks seeming to misuse it repeatedly and it's good to be able to talk to individual users about cutting that out. That said, I've found a certain amount of wiggle room, over the time that the edit feature's been in place, in my tolerance for occasional non-fuckerish off-label use of edit to add a sentence here or there when there aren't exacerbating circumstances. It's still not how it's meant to be used, and my baseline expectation remains "don't do that" and can under duress escalate to us stopping someone from doing it the hard way, but I am not super worried when I see it as a one-off thing.

I will sometimes decline to enforce-just-for-enforcement's-sake (rather than because there's something especially conspicuous or weird or deceptive about the editing, or it's being used in fast moving threads or as part of some kind of heated exchange, etc) and instead just mentally bookmark it in case I see repeated behavior from someone. So at times a flag on a comment that got a sentence added after the fact in a non-volatile context won't see any visible mod action even if it did get flagged and we saw it, because it's not quite crossing that threshold. Doesn't mean the flagging is useless or misunderstood or that we think you're dumb or anything, though. Just a little bit softer of a touch than when the feature first launched, now that we've seen it basically not wreak havoc in most situations.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:16 PM on February 20, 2016 [8 favorites]


I don't see why this is a problem. It cuts off at 5 minutes anyway; so what's the issue?
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 7:25 PM on February 20, 2016 [4 favorites]


When the feature was proposed and eventually implemented the worry was that comments would be edited for content. I feel like those of us who raised concerns were assured that edits for content would be against the rules and it would be strictly for typos/errors. It hasn't really shaken out that way. I see daily edits for content when I'm paying attention.

I kind of wish we could just get rid of the edit window even though I use it now and again. Either that or start actually following through on enforcing the rules.

... or I guess changing the rules. But I'd be pretty unhappy with that outcome.
posted by ODiV at 7:57 PM on February 20, 2016 [6 favorites]


Which I suppose is what has effectively happened.
posted by ODiV at 8:03 PM on February 20, 2016


I don't see why this is a problem. It cuts off at 5 minutes anyway; so what's the issue?

Because people use the edit window to add sentences and other stuff, and I like to flag it when I see it.
posted by Justinian at 8:47 PM on February 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


I kind of wish we could just get rid of the edit window even though I use it now and again. Either that or start actually following through on enforcing the rules.

... or I guess changing the rules. But I'd be pretty unhappy with that outcome.

Has editing for content caused any notable problems in any threads? My opinion on this remains the same as it has been. We all knew it would happen, we all know it is happening, and it turns out fears about the trouble it might cause were wildly overblown. Am I wrong?
posted by Drinky Die at 8:50 PM on February 20, 2016 [13 favorites]


I agree, which is why I just pony requested a flag and not requested the feature be disabled!
posted by Justinian at 8:55 PM on February 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


I get where you're coming from, my point was I'm more on the loosen the rules side of the debate.
posted by Drinky Die at 9:00 PM on February 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


Noooo. This mah pony, get your own.
posted by Justinian at 9:05 PM on February 20, 2016 [18 favorites]


(And it's a serious question if it has caused problems. I pay attention a lot, but by nature edit shenanigans that cause real trouble seem like something that is likely to be quickly cleaned up by mods, so we may not see the headache it caused.)
posted by Drinky Die at 9:11 PM on February 20, 2016


Yessss but one of the benefits of discussion is to hash out those problems, a flag could bring attention to said editing Sheenamagans.
posted by clavdivs at 9:20 PM on February 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


now that we've seen it basically not wreak havoc in most situations.

I think the time limit is the key. Since the implementation of the edit feature, I find that I have more George Lucas tendencies than I would like to admit. After hitting "post comment," my baby is out of the nest and now in the wild, but I have this weird compulsion to monkey with it to make it even better. Can doesn't mean should, of course, and the current policy against this is the right one. But give someone enough time, and they might be editing their comments all day, revising narrative history and probably adding some CGI magic in there somewhere.
posted by SpacemanStix at 9:23 PM on February 20, 2016 [2 favorites]


Because people use the edit window to add sentences and other stuff, and I like to flag it when I see it.

You still haven't explained why there's any problem here.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 9:39 PM on February 20, 2016 [7 favorites]


...it turns out fears about the trouble it might cause were wildly overblown. Am I wrong?

My fears were that the edit window would be used to edit for content instead of to correct typos and small errors. This is now happening several times daily, so I don't really think mine were overblown, no.

If you mean that no one really cares, then probably not that many people, yeah. I could start stirring up shit in threads about it, but I don't think that would be very welcome. I've finally started flagging recently, but nothing seems to be happening when I do that (At least visibly. If people are "overusing" it, they're getting told to cut it out, probably).

You still haven't explained why there's any problem here.

Almost everyone, including cortex, seems to understand why he posted this, so I'm not sure why it's up to Justinian to explain it to you.
posted by ODiV at 9:42 PM on February 20, 2016 [4 favorites]


I meant to ask more about problems beyond, "I don't like that this happens."

The serious fears I recall from the initial discussion where more along the lines of malicious edits designed to distort the meaning of responding comments. Or, even without maliciousness, comments with a changed meaning that lead to responses that no longer make sense.

I haven't seen this occur. To my observation, changes for content occur before any responses thanks to the tight time limit and things go smoothly. But, as I said previously, if this is an issue mods are probably fixing it before I see it so I don't realize it's actually an issue.
posted by Drinky Die at 9:49 PM on February 20, 2016 [7 favorites]


I think we could survive with a rule against malicious or disruptive changes for content without having a rule against them entirely. Sometimes it seems silly to me to add a sentence or two in a new comment when nobody has replied yet.
posted by Drinky Die at 9:51 PM on February 20, 2016 [6 favorites]


Things like tripling the length of the comment by adding two full sentences to it.

This may vary on a case by case basis, but going from one sentences to three sentences doesn’t seem like an enormous issue. Not technically the right use of the feature, but hardly an existential threat to post usability.
posted by Going To Maine at 10:29 PM on February 20, 2016 [7 favorites]


Going from one sentences to three sentences doesn’t seem like an enormous issue.

That depends strongly on what exactly those additional sentences are.

The mod guidance has always been a strong "if you have more to say, add another comment instead of editing to add it." I think that's a good line to draw: a new comment makes it clear that the extra thought came after original comment was posted.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 10:57 PM on February 20, 2016 [6 favorites]


That said, this is a little frustrating:

It's something we can keep in mind down the road when we're looking at more general improvements/updates to the flagging process

...because "yeah, we know it's not ideal but we'll look at it later" feels like it has been the stock response to all complaints and suggestions about flagging for several years now.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 11:14 PM on February 20, 2016 [3 favorites]


What are you not getting out of flagging that you need to? The way I understand it, the categories of flags are extraneous anyway; a flag's a flag, and the contact link has always been there.
posted by ctmf at 11:27 PM on February 20, 2016 [3 favorites]


(The tone of that didn't work right. I'm genuinely curious, not giving you crap about it)
posted by ctmf at 11:29 PM on February 20, 2016 [1 favorite]


That depends strongly on what exactly those additional sentences are.
The mod guidance has always been a strong "if you have more to say, add another comment instead of editing to add it." I think that's a good line to draw: a new comment makes it clear that the extra thought came after original comment was posted.


Exactly this. I'd much rather see the edit window reduced or taken away entirely than having the norm be that it's OK to make major edits after commenting. For people that both think and type fast, five minutes can be a lot of angry or angry-making words.
posted by dg at 11:30 PM on February 20, 2016 [7 favorites]


We do have an "edit distance" indicator on comments in the admin view, so we can see an estimate at a glance if something had a couple characters tweaked vs something more extensive;

You guys have to have the best community moderation tools ever.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 1:16 AM on February 21, 2016 [3 favorites]


See, though, I have seen the mods drop a note in a volatile thread if someone over-edits a content, telling them to knock it off. I think the mods just mean that they might just hold their tongue if it were a thread about puppies or something, and everyone was getting along and the over-editing was from someone who was ultimately adding an extra sentence to their cute dog story and no one else seemed to be bothered by that.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:19 AM on February 21, 2016 [5 favorites]


A couple times I've noticed an insulting comment that changed on refresh to something less harsh (on one occasion, in a comment directed at me). I can understand why someone would realize they were saying something bad and not want to leave the offending statement up. On the other hand, at least when it was directed at me, I was still offended to have seen the original comment.

I'm obsessive, and I probably edit things more than I'm aware. I'd just as soon do away with the edit window, since minor typos aren't a big deal, and more than that is frowned upon but still (apparently) common practice. I'd just as soon not have the option as have 5 minutes to obsess.
posted by teponaztli at 1:37 AM on February 21, 2016 [4 favorites]


...and preventing myself from using the edit window, what I mean is that small typos are forgivable, and rewording stuff isn't always necessary. The downside of doing away with the edit window might be more clarifying comments like this, at least from people like me.
posted by teponaztli at 1:39 AM on February 21, 2016 [2 favorites]


We do have an "edit distance" indicator

Okay it's a tangent, but is it just basic Levenshtein distance, or something else? (I ask because I spent about a month figuring out which distance measure to use for a thing of mine a while back.)
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 1:47 AM on February 21, 2016 [2 favorites]


I had kind of an unusual experience with this a week or so back. I flagged a comment solely because it contained a fairly egregious misuse of the edit window (if I'm remembering correctly, I noticed that a whole additional paragraph had been added upon refresh). Not knowing what flag to use, I chose "It breaks the guidelines". The comment ultimately did get deleted, but for different reasons (getting too personal in comments towards another user) based on the mod note.
posted by The Gooch at 1:53 AM on February 21, 2016


If you're already calculating edit distance in the backend, how about disallowing edits that exceed a certain distance in the first place?
posted by snap, crackle and pop at 2:13 AM on February 21, 2016 [3 favorites]


pb can speak more about that, but from my point of view, my first thought is that I'd rather allow more latitude in the edit process than have to respond to questions and complaints about the cut-off. (ie, "I only made these basic changes, yet the edit function wouldn't allow them!")

Trying to predict in advance in what ways an arbitrary cut-off might cause trouble is iffy, but I imagine something like this, for example:

Comment: "That estimate was based on EBITDA"

Edited to read: "That estimate was based on EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization)"

Calculating edit distance here would ping a cut-off since the edit is significant in proportion to the size of the original comment, yet this isn't a comment edit I would have a problem with. I do understand that someone could immediately comment, "what is EBITDA?" which is one of the things that we try to avoid with restricting comment edits, but I'm using this as a lazy off-the-top-of-my-head example of the sort of usage that we might not take into account when applying an arbitrary hard limit.
posted by taz (staff) at 3:09 AM on February 21, 2016 [13 favorites]


I think this is the sort of thing where the more precise the rules, the more cunningly they will be broken, until pb gets instructed to write a natural-language processor to determine whether an edited comment is sufficiently close in meaning to the original.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:13 AM on February 21, 2016 [13 favorites]


If the edit distance is already being calculated and shown for admins it seems to me the easiest solution is to just show it always to everyone. I mean there's no reason NOT to do it: its an easy way to see how much of an edit has been made.

I'm not so sure I agree with the whole concept of policing the amount of editing that can be done. Five minutes is not a lot of time and threads don't usually move that fast on Metafilter anyway.
posted by Soi-hah at 3:49 AM on February 21, 2016


> threads don't usually move that fast on Metafilter anyway
Are we talking about the same MetaFilter?
posted by Too-Ticky at 3:55 AM on February 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


I like the idea of free form flag with Other. It would give mods more clarify and give us a better sense that what we're are flagging is clear, mods still get to make a judgement call.

It would be a shame if a reasonable request was derailed by either rehashing the original edit debate and justification, or going down the subjective byways of what could, should, might and is happening with edits currently.

Is indisputable that major edits in length are happening now, in contradiction of the stated guidance,and we were encouraged to flag it when the feature launched. If the mods are okay with it case by case, that's fine, but against the guidelines is against the guidelines. If the guidelines need to change, that should be another discussion.
posted by smoke at 3:56 AM on February 21, 2016


How about an option to just free up your post for anyone to open it to fix your typos? I certainly would welcome some editorial help on my lame prose, even if it did gain a few extra semicolons; or even fine tune the message to be less or more crazed ranty; totally down with that.

[Crazed contrarian comment inserted here for flavor. ]

Well it would need a double confirmation so no one that is concerned that their comments change radically does not check the box by mistake.

A much longer edit window, say two days; to allow the tone to be revised several times;

Oh; heck kids, let's just open one big shared google docs window and everyone share and fix everyone's ideas.
posted by sammyo at 3:57 AM on February 21, 2016


I should add, I think a free form other field would have a broader utility than this, whilst also addressing this.
posted by smoke at 3:57 AM on February 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


What about allowing edits before another N comments have been made (for, say, N = 5)? The current five-minute limit already works like this if comments are made at around one per minute. The problem with long edit windows is that users can change content after it's already being discussed, so it makes sense to give less time in fast-moving threads and more in slow ones. (For example, I might come back to a thread an hour later, see that only one new comment has been made, and then notice a typo that I want to fix.)
posted by Rangi at 4:03 AM on February 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


All the people mentioning that they think there's nothing wrong with substantive edits strongly push me in the direction of advocating for the removal of the edit functionality altogether.

I actually saw someone edit a comment to add something insulting and then a couple of weeks later the person got in trouble for editing-for-content in another thread ... and apparently this is an ongoing problem with them. Justinian's notice of it happening often and people arguing that it's not a bad thing in the first place really make me think this is a bigger problem than most of us realize and there's basically no strong argument for the edit window, anyway. It's being abused. When it was implemented there were warnings that it shouldn't be abused. People have been warned in threads against abusing it. People are habitual abusers. People confess to having difficulty restraining themselves from abusing it. And people abuse it in ways that are quite destructive to the conversation.

Seems to me the mods should reconsider having it at all and, failing that, the mods should always check every edit that is more than the length of a single word. If that's too much work, then that just proves that there are too many edits that go beyond correcting typos and this is a problem that needs to be solved one way or another.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 4:27 AM on February 21, 2016 [13 favorites]


I post quite often from a tablet or phone so really horrible typos often make it into the posted comment thanks to a combination of tiny text input area, small screen, and my terrible proof-reading skills. I find the edit function really helpful to fix these and I'd be very sad to see it go away. I'd be somewhat interested in seeing how many people are using it as designed vs abusing the edit function, because I bet it's a lot more people and posts in the former category than the latter.
posted by shelleycat at 4:49 AM on February 21, 2016 [7 favorites]


Editign is fot fuclwrsw
posted by Joseph Gurl at 4:55 AM on February 21, 2016 [2 favorites]


A vote for that free-form flag field.

Also - Metafilter: more George Lucas tendencies than it would like to admit.
posted by progosk at 4:59 AM on February 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


1) The current flag choices are inadequate, and have been for ages. Comment form is a lot more friction than a useful set of flag choices would be; I rarely use either, but I *would* use flags more often if I didn't have to sit there so long trying to figure out which not-quite-right flag description I should use.

2) Edit window abuse is only going to get worse, if we let it happen at all. New users (or old ones who don't read Metatalk).. get their expectations about the rules from actual use in-thread. If people are frequently adding full sentences, then other people will get the idea that it's ok and the behavior will increase (like when people used to do "more inside" jokes).
posted by nat at 5:02 AM on February 21, 2016 [2 favorites]


How could "other" ever be "not quite right"? It literally includes everything.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 5:17 AM on February 21, 2016 [6 favorites]


why not reduce flag to two options: good and bad?
(i think the 5 minute edit window is just fine.)
posted by andrewcooke at 5:25 AM on February 21, 2016 [3 favorites]


Sheenamagans

I want this to be the way I say this word forever and ever. I tried, but sadly, but somewhere between my brain and mouth, flags were raised, and I'm pretty sure something bureaucratic refused to allow it.
posted by Ghidorah at 5:26 AM on February 21, 2016 [4 favorites]


If the edit distance is already being calculated and shown for admins it seems to me the easiest solution is to just show it always to everyone. I mean there's no reason NOT to do it: its an easy way to see how much of an edit has been made.

Off the top of my head, I can think of one reason for this: edit distance is not a reliable indicator of whether a given edit is truly content-based. I recall a recent thread about misogyny in the arts, where one commenter referred dismissively to an artist as "that girl," then almost immediately edited it to "that author." Compare this to taz's hypothetical example above; based solely on edit distance, the latter would appear to be the problematic edit.
posted by duffell at 5:33 AM on February 21, 2016


er, I meant to say, one reason not to do this, not one reason for this. Edit window's closed.
posted by duffell at 5:41 AM on February 21, 2016 [3 favorites]


As a 'typomaster' please please do not remove the edit window. If anything consider an icon that indicates an edit was made.

I did not read previous mod discussion but do the mods have the edit history? Seems like ongoing egregious habit could be curtailed through good moddery.
posted by sammyo at 5:59 AM on February 21, 2016 [2 favorites]


How about an option to just free up your post for anyone to open it to fix your typos?

How would you restrict it so other people could ONLY fix typos, and be prevented from editing your comment to make it look like you accused the mods of eating baby-whale sushi or whatever?

I do not think the edit function is in danger of disappearing, but here's another voice saying "please, I want to keep it."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:18 AM on February 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


TYPO FEAR IS KILLING US ALL
posted by Joseph Gurl at 6:18 AM on February 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


Do the mods have the ability to disable the edit function on individual accounts? Or is the programming such that it's for everyone or no one? Seems like disabling the edit function for people that mis-use it would be fair.
posted by oh yeah! at 6:20 AM on February 21, 2016 [3 favorites]


In an Ask of mine a while ago someone commented, edited the comment (for content) , then edited the comment again (again for content). It wasn't a particularly helpful answer for me in any of its three iterations, and I was considering clarifying my question right after this commenter commented the first time, but then while I was figuring out the best way to phrase it and saw the three rapid fire large edits I thought fuck it and clarified perhaps a bit more harshly than strictly necessary. Then a few minutes later, the same commenter commented again to be mad that I had shot down their suggestion, and I think that comment got axed. BUT THEN THEY COMMENTED AGAIN, and then heavily edited that comment to change it to something that was not only extremely wrong but dumb and wrong, and I suspect by the time they realized how dumb and wrong the comment was the edit window had closed, and now they have to sit and stew in their dumb wrongness for all eternity.

In conclusion, I don't mind the edit window because sometimes it's funny and I'm not a very nice person.
posted by phunniemee at 6:53 AM on February 21, 2016 [13 favorites]


feels like it has been the stock response to all complaints and suggestions about flagging for several years now.

I think that's true but I also think it's accurate. If there's a future time when flagging is reevaluated, these things will be taken into account. I don't think there's a compelling case that flagging is fundamentally broken enough for an overhaul but who knows, that time might come?

will sometimes decline to enforce-just-for-enforcement's-sake

For me, while I understand this, I'd like a little less of it. I think in general editing for non-typo reasons should be really minimal and people who are doing it should be told not do do it, not just when it's not disruptive. It has potential to disrupt the flow of conversation and as someone who has been composing responses to later-edited comments, I find it irksome. That said, I'm a power user and this may not rise to the level of something that really needs changing, just where my head is at on this general topic.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 6:56 AM on February 21, 2016 [8 favorites]


like you accused the mods of eating baby-whale sushi or whatever?


The mods are all good guys, they'd never do something like that.

(not that someone would game the system here in a discussion about gaming the system, sort of :-)
posted by sammyo at 7:12 AM on February 21, 2016


why not reduce flag to two options: good and bad?
i suspect the current entries help reinforce the idea that this is for moderation. "this is good" and "this is bad" could be taken as a voting mechanism.

(i think the 5 minute edit window is just fine.)
(yeah, me too).
posted by andrewcooke at 7:39 AM on February 21, 2016


I do not think the edit function is in danger of disappearing

Yeah, in case there's any doubt: the edit function is not in danger of disappearing.

Okay it's a tangent, but is it just basic Levenshtein distance, or something else?

It's a fast-and-accordingly-imperfect Levenshtein distance estimate, if I recall correctly; we had a really robust Levenshtein calculation originally but it was a little sluggish under some circumstances, and so we moved to something the was reliably very fast but prone to occasionally getting the number wrong with more complicated multi-point edits. Generally it's good enough to give us an impression of the amount of text manipulated but not a character-count number that I'd swear to in court, that sort of fidelity. Since we really just use it as a prompt to go look at the actual diffs, that's sufficient for our needs.

(not that someone would game the system here in a discussion about gaming the system, sort of :-)

Ha ha ironic editing in context ha ha but, seriously, don't.

Do the mods have the ability to disable the edit function on individual accounts?

It hasn't come up so far, but in principle it's doable if a little bit of fiddly work to put on pb's plate. Conditionally serving or not serving the edit window stuff based on userid is accomplishable, though for the rare actually egregious stuff we've been aware of saying "stop it or this moves past asking nicely" has been the main thing we've needed to do.

It'd be worth it probably for us to do a quick run through edit history numbers on a per-user basis some time soon and see if we can identify any under-the-radar heavy edit users/abusers to have a "hey, that's not how to do it" talk with. Again, that hasn't been a huge priority because when someone's actually like fucking around with the tool it tends to be more conspicuous and get noted to us than when someone's just kinda benignly misusing it; active fuckery is higher on my list of priorities by a long shot than confusion or misunderstanding for a lot of different things on the site, basically, even though the latter stuff definitely matters too.

If someone personally wants to have that tool taken away from them for their own sake or whatever, they can totally let us know and we'll take that into account. That said, we added the feature in significant part to get away from a volume of edit requests to the mods, so if you're a person who feels tempted by the edit function in a bad way and the end result of not using it is sending a lot of edit requests to the mods, that's kinda of a blargy outcome for us and circles back around mostly to being a personal impulse-control thing.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:56 AM on February 21, 2016


On the other hand, at least when it was directed at me, I was still offended to have seen the original comment.

How do you know it was edited and not mod deleted and then replaced with a less inflammatory version by the user? Is there any mean difference anyway?
posted by Dysk at 8:24 AM on February 21, 2016


I agree with IF: if people can't be convinced to follow the goddam rules, take the function away. I was under the impression that the vast majority of MeFites understood the importance of the rules and were willing to follow them, but I'm getting the impression that there are way too many people who just don't give a damn. And there are people in this thread asking why it matters, which reminds me of the people who make excuses for plagiarism. I understand cortex's thought process, but I kind of wish he hadn't made it public (as fond as I am of transparency in general), because saying "I've found a certain amount of wiggle room" and "I am not super worried" seems to me to send exactly the wrong message.
posted by languagehat at 8:30 AM on February 21, 2016 [10 favorites]


As I've said before I don't think editing for content should be a problem. We made it a problem by making it illegal then making it secretly doable. It doesn't seem to bother most people or overwhelm the mods but some folks really get het up about rule-breaking. I've been in communities where editing just added a note to the post that it had been edited at XYZ time, and while some people used it inappropriately it wasn't any more disruptive there than the current set-up is here.

Seems to me that even with the status quo rules adding a "Edited at ..." Note to edited posts wouldn't be unhelpful but maybe that's crazy tech lifting and a non starter.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:32 AM on February 21, 2016 [7 favorites]


What are you not getting out of flagging that you need to?

Well, okay then:

1. The flag options are outdated, arbitrary, and confusing. "HTML/display error" is jargony; some users don't know or care what HTML is. Why is "double comment" still a flag when accidental double-commenting isn't a problem any more? Why both "noise" and "derail" when the difference between them is often so fuzzy? And "it breaks the guidelines" and "other" are both catch-alls so which do I use? This "hang, on, which option do I choose?" decision is a little speed-bump in flagging bad content, and maybe it causes some people to just not bother.

2. ...and then we're often told that at the mod end, it's much more volume of flags than the type of flags that drive visibility and action -- so why do we even have more options than "fantastic" and "bad"?

3. Flagging is low-friction, contact form is very high friction. It would be useful to have an easier way to pass along a "hey, I flagged this because" note with the flag. (For example: "it smells spammy", "personal attack", "that guy doing that thing again".)
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 8:50 AM on February 21, 2016 [12 favorites]


I wonder how much of the above-mentioned issues might be resolved by shortening the edit window. Five minutes is a lot of time to edit content significantly, and it will be noticed, especially in a thread that is pretty active. If it's really for correcting the occassional typo, I would think that one minute at most would be significant for finding the errort that doesn't get realized until "post" is hit, and it would cut down significantly on the more extensive edits that are problematic.
posted by SpacemanStix at 8:56 AM on February 21, 2016 [3 favorites]


I was under the impression that the vast majority of MeFites understood the importance of the rules

I don't. Why is this rule important? Plenty of other forums allow editing forever (as well as self-deletion) and it works fine.

What exactly is the problem if someone adds "oh and also..." or "(just to clarify...)" to the same comment instead of making a new one? The latter is only beneficial if you derive sustenance from bylines; they're just clutter to the rest of us.

I understand why changing the entire meaning of a comment is bad, but just adding on? Meh.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:58 AM on February 21, 2016 [12 favorites]


(Also, don't we not have "rules" here?)
posted by Sys Rq at 9:00 AM on February 21, 2016


florok nim spurlitz.
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 9:11 AM on February 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


The pearl clutching over the edit window is absolutely my favourite little oddity about Metafilter. Every forum I frequent deals with edits just fine, yet somehow here they are a moral panic agent.
posted by Sternmeyer at 9:12 AM on February 21, 2016 [12 favorites]


pearl clutching
This is a really obnoxious way to take part in a conversation.
posted by Wolfdog at 9:30 AM on February 21, 2016 [26 favorites]


ODiV: "My fears were that the edit window would be used to edit for content instead of to correct typos and small errors. This is now happening several times daily, so I don't really think mine were overblown, no."

Any chance you could rip off a quick query cortex to give some sort of number feel for how often and how much editing takes place in aggregate? I know larger edits happen sometimes because I've done it myself when I've accidentally posted gibberish instead of previewing. But I don't think I've ever actually noticed an edit by someone else so I'm curious how often it happens.

Too-Ticky: "> threads don't usually move that fast on Metafilter anyway
Are we talking about the same MetaFilter?
"

The vast majority of threads are not getting multiple comments within five minutes of each other. And of the threads that do the vast majority only have that occur a few times. Live news, rapid fire commenting posts are still the exception.

Ivan Fyodorovich: "people arguing that it's not a bad thing in the first place really make me think this is a bigger problem than most of us realize and there's basically no strong argument for the edit window, anyway."

I was sceptical of the edit window was introduced. Boy howdy I love the edit window now though because it allows me to fix my recurring problem of leaving a "not" out of a statement. EG: The sky is green => The sky is not green. I don't know what it is but I do that _all_ _the_ _time_. So I've flipped over to being a strong supporter.

nat: "The current flag choices are inadequate, and have been for ages."

We only need two flags: Fantastic (should be sidebarred) and It breaks the guidelines (do something with this comment). I might be able to be convinced that HTML error should also be included; I don't know how often the mods can't figure that out. Anything more than that that needs extensive explanation can be done via the contact form. I encourage anyone who thinks it might be too much trouble to use it; it is quick and easy and the mods are always super responsive. It even automagically includes the post URL of the page you use it from so the mods know what you are talking about. The only thing that could make it easier is if you could hit the contact form directly from a particular comment but copy/pasting the comment URL isn't a huge chore. A contact form selection on the flag drop down would be great.
posted by Mitheral at 9:53 AM on February 21, 2016 [2 favorites]


pearl clutching
This is a really obnoxious way to take part in a conversation.


With bonus irrelevant misogyny, even.
posted by dersins at 9:58 AM on February 21, 2016 [10 favorites]


Just a thought from left field:
How about having a little "Editing" tag (similar to the "X new comments" tag) appear next to any comment where the user has pushed the editing tag. This way people can just ignore the comment until that flag goes away and the comment is updated. Then, when editing is done, leave a little "Edited" label on the comment. And as part of this, I would just eliminate the typos rule and permit any and all edits.
posted by beagle at 10:02 AM on February 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


Editing possible only until anyone else starts typing in the comment box. But now I'm getting silly.

Actually I wouldn't mind if instead of editing a comment, the owner could insert a follow-up remark tacked on the end (as is the etiquette anyway in forums I've seen that allow editing. Essentially, the 'no editing' rule, but your clarification can be relocated out of the timeline to immediately follow the comment it refers to. I can see how that's a non-starter though, given the strict flat chronology IS what MetaFilter IS, identity-wise.

I think the current state cortex described is the ideal "MetaFilter way' and works reasonably well. It's a rule; don't do that. But when someone does it, and it's not too egregious or disruptive, maybe a little side-eye is the only action required, unless it gets to be noticeably habitual. That pretty much matches how every "rule" is handled here. It doesn't seem to be causing a huge disaster to treat it that way, though it annoys some people sometimes. What doesn't?

I agree with We had a deal, Kyle about the flagging being kind of confusing but wouldn't really call it broken. If you just always pick 'other' you still get what you wanted.
posted by ctmf at 10:46 AM on February 21, 2016


Not to continue a derail or anything, but I thought "pearl-clutching" was a phrase more commonly associated with feminist and left-wing authors, and at least one article kind of confirms that. Why is it now obnoxious and/or misogynist?
posted by yhbc at 10:47 AM on February 21, 2016 [2 favorites]


I agree with We had a deal, Kyle about the flagging being kind of confusing but wouldn't really call it broken. If you just always pick 'other' you still get what you wanted.

Random point, but if I had one suggestion for flagging I wish I could unflag things or change the flag reason if a mod hasn't looked at it yet. I've occasionally flagged something accidentally or flagged as offensive instead of fantastic and I just imagine a mod sitting there reading it and being like, "What the fuck does he think is wrong with THIS one?"
posted by Drinky Die at 10:53 AM on February 21, 2016 [5 favorites]


Well, "pearl clutching" strongly implies that being prone to overreact by taking offense at things is a behavior that the speaker associates with women. (We don't, for example, hear the phrase "tie clutching.")

It's misogynist in exactly the same way that a teenage boy telling a frightened or nervous male friend not to be "such a girl" is misogynist.
posted by dersins at 10:56 AM on February 21, 2016 [4 favorites]


Fuck, missed the edit window.
4s/editing\./editing\.\)/
posted by ctmf at 10:57 AM on February 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


I meant to ask more about problems beyond, "I don't like that this happens."

It's hard to read this as anything other than "This thing you don't like isn't a problem unless it causes something I don't like." I think it's intrinsically a problem.

Why is this rule important? Plenty of other forums allow editing forever (as well as self-deletion) and it works fine.

I think there are a few things at MetaFilter like this. We've got a firm no self-links in an FPP rule. At other forums/weblogs they don't have such a rule and it works just fine for them. If it turns out people were occasionally posting self-links in FPPs then I would consider it a problem even if it wasn't causing any strife in the thread or resulting in a drop in FPP quality or anything.

Some forums let you outright delete the text of your comments months/years later and it works fine for them. Some forums have threaded comments. Some let you rearrange the conversation based on comment score. These things can all work, but they're not right for here. I feel the same way about comment editing. It sounds like I'm in the minority, which is fine, but I don't think it's an unreasonable position to take or all that confusing.

Any chance you could rip off a quick query cortex to give some sort of number feel for how often and how much editing takes place in aggregate?

Very much not a query or scientific, but you can search the site for "edit" which can give you a taste of it happening sometimes.
posted by ODiV at 11:57 AM on February 21, 2016 [5 favorites]


I actually do use the edit feature for its intended purpose of fixing bad grammar, typos, etc. but I don't recall poor grammar being a terrible problem before this feature was implemented. MeFi is still in the 99th %ile for comment quality on the web and when someone fudges their grammar it's fairly obvious what they intended.
posted by deathpanels at 12:33 PM on February 21, 2016


Perhaps set the window for 38 seconds then, the editgate will close on its own as per programming.
posted by clavdivs at 12:34 PM on February 21, 2016


I meant to ask more about problems beyond, "I don't like that this happens."

It's hard to read this as anything other than "This thing you don't like isn't a problem unless it causes something I don't like." I think it's intrinsically a problem.


No I mean I don't understand what the problem is because you haven't named what the negative consequences to the site are.
posted by Drinky Die at 12:38 PM on February 21, 2016 [3 favorites]


I need to confess that I have a bad habit of editing for content in AskMe. I basically never do it in the blue, but I often answer a question and then realize that I left out some relevant information and just editing seems more elegant than leaving a less-than-ideal answer posted and then amending it with a second answer.

I'll try to cut it out.
posted by 256 at 12:46 PM on February 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


You're just saying again that the thing I think is a problem isn't a problem because it's not causing anything that you think is a problem to happen. Sorry if I'm being unclear. I believe it's intrinsically a problem, you don't agree, that's fine.
posted by ODiV at 12:46 PM on February 21, 2016


If this is considered a problem, then why not just do what Facebook does and allow users to click and see the original unedited comment?

(But also, like - are people worried that they're going to like a comment saying "puppies are great" and then come back to see it says "like this comment if you kick puppies"? I just don't really get why this is a Thing.)
posted by showbiz_liz at 12:47 PM on February 21, 2016 [4 favorites]


So it's a problem like I think the color of the background is a problem, just a matter of taste?
posted by Drinky Die at 12:51 PM on February 21, 2016 [2 favorites]


ODiV: Some forums let you outright delete the text of your comments months/years later and it works fine for them. Some forums have threaded comments. Some let you rearrange the conversation based on comment score. These things can all work, but they're not right for here.

This is such an odd piece of Metafilter exceptionalism. I see absolutely no reason why any of those wouldn't work just fine on Metafilter the way they work (or don't) in thousands of other places in the Internet.

Unless, of course, if by "not right for here" you mean "not wanted by most of the community"?
posted by Soi-hah at 12:53 PM on February 21, 2016 [2 favorites]


It usually takes me significantly more than one minute to edit for spelling on my phone or tablet and even the five minutes is pushing it sometimes. I'm just not that dexterous. If I really can't get it done in five minutes I'll either let it go or move on to another option (new comment, contact mods, whatever), but a shorter window would be fairly useless to me. In which case why have it at all. So I would be sad to see the window time reduced.
posted by shelleycat at 12:55 PM on February 21, 2016 [4 favorites]


I won't say anything after this for a while because I feel like I'm talking too much, but...

So it's a problem like I think the color of the background is a problem, just a matter of taste?

Except that the comments are how we talk to each other (a huge amount of the content of the site). If self-links in FPPs didn't cause any other problems, I'd still think it was a problem intrinsically if it was happening. Same with people posting dishonest AskMe questions or using two separate "main" accounts for non-approved reasons. I have a problem with it on a basic level even if there's absolutely zero additional problems that stem from it. I don't think it's just "taste", but maybe it is.

This is such an odd piece of Metafilter exceptionalism. I see absolutely no reason why any of those wouldn't work just fine on Metafilter the way they work (or don't) in thousands of other places in the Internet.

Well yeah, the site would continue to function; it would feel and work a lot different that it does now, but it would still say MetaFilter in the URL. "Not right for here" in that it wouldn't keep the feel of the site. Essentially what I meant was that it would feel like a fundamentally different thing to me. I realize that's nebulous and maybe ultimately not important, but hey, I don't make the rules thankfully, so I'll just say what I think.
posted by ODiV at 1:22 PM on February 21, 2016 [6 favorites]


ODiV, I get what you're saying, but do you think it's really happening at a scale which is affecting the site and its members? Genuine question, I think it's not, but I'm not on metafilter every second.

If it is occurring at scale, surely it would be a majority of naughty content edits coming from a very small number of users, and the mods could deal with them individually? (Personally, I think serial users should just be banned, ffs, it's not that hard to control yourself.)

I dunno, I just think sometimes mefi looks for technical or "rules"-based solutions to behavioural/cultural problems. General distaste aside, I really struggle to think this is a major issue affecting the site from a large number of users - though I own that I think the line between "Content" and "grammar" can be a little blurry sometimes, but if someone's editing for clarity, I'm fine with that.
posted by smoke at 1:34 PM on February 21, 2016 [4 favorites]


Is there a way to leave the original text there, but with a line through it? So it would be visible but you'd be able to put in your edits (and yeah sometimes I fuck up my pasting and miss the last 1-2 sentences of what I was trying to say and have to add them.)

Or making edited text visibly a different color or something? Underlined?

I feel like I don't parse people's comments enough here, either this isn't happening much in threads I'm in or I just don't notice it. But then I am not usually re-reading people's comments closely unless I'm responding to them directly.

Is it rampant enough to worry about at this stage and need a fix?
posted by emjaybee at 1:43 PM on February 21, 2016


Or making edited text visibly a different color or something?

the thing that I remember from when I was working here pre-edit-window was that there was a subset of users who were extremely agitated about typos or formatting issues. That is, they would flag other people's typos and errors and email us asking us to fix theirs and it was clearly something that was bothersome to them. Anyone who has read a lot of my comments can see that I'm on the more relaxed end of caring about typos (I've been able to fix them forever, and only sometimes do) but that doesn't mean I get to tell other people that they shouldn't mind their own typos. So the point of letting people edit their own stuff is really sort of quicker resolution of the "Ah I made a typo and it's making me itchy" issue alongside clearer communication with the userbase generally. Some sort of visible editing would help with the latter issue, possibly, but would still put the original typo in stark relief which I am certain would bother some people.

More-than-typo editing is one of those things (I can see what edits people are making) that really only affects a small number of users, but for whatever reason even people who sort of know they shouldn't be doing it still do it. I assume it's some sort of anxiety-driven concern and there's not much to be done about that programmatically except drawing the line where appropriate.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 1:48 PM on February 21, 2016 [4 favorites]


> Except that the comments are how we talk to each other (a huge amount of the content of the site). If self-links in FPPs didn't cause any other problems, I'd still think it was a problem intrinsically if it was happening. Same with people posting dishonest AskMe questions or using two separate "main" accounts for non-approved reasons. I have a problem with it on a basic level even if there's absolutely zero additional problems that stem from it.

Same here, and this is well put. I honestly don't understand how people can not think it's a problem unless they think life and MetaFilter just need a lot more randomness and chaos. If you've said something, you've said it, stand by it or correct it in a separate comment, don't sneakily rewrite it, is that so hard to understand?
posted by languagehat at 1:51 PM on February 21, 2016 [17 favorites]


Mild tangent

After years of being in both places, I now totally get Metatalk threads: they're the Seattle Process in text form.
posted by fireoyster at 1:53 PM on February 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


and it turns out fears about the trouble it might cause were wildly overblown. Am I wrong?

I had that fear. I feel I've been proven mostly wrong. And further, the edit window has proven a net gain for me.

in fact, I just used it
posted by philip-random at 2:05 PM on February 21, 2016 [3 favorites]


I like the edit window, since a combination of commenting from my phone, not being an especially good typist, and minor visual problems cause screw-ups, less typos (which spell check often catches) but things like closing quotes and parentheses properly and the occasional "autocorrect is a jerk" moments.

If people are making more substantive edits (which I confess I haven't noticed), and the mods are noticing that, I think a sharper line should be drawn and more warnings/time outs/bannings handed out to stem the process.

As for flags, I confess to using "other" the most often, but then I don't find using the comment form that odious. I'd be OK with a few additions/deletions to the list, and I would probably continue to use "other" and the contact form.
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:10 PM on February 21, 2016 [2 favorites]


If people are making more substantive edits (which I confess I haven't noticed),

I'm generally not a fan of people getting singled out for transgressions (none of us being saints and all that), but I wouldn't be against an Edit Window Abuser Hall of Shame.


limited to people who repeatedly change the actual meaning and/or overall impact of their initial posted comments
posted by philip-random at 2:16 PM on February 21, 2016


If you've said something, you've said it, stand by it or correct it in a separate comment, don't sneakily rewrite it, is that so hard to understand?

I think the only way to enforce that is get rid of the edit window, otherwise you have endless battles over what is or isn't an allowable edit. What's sneaky vs. correcting an error honestly made? Only the writer knows their intent. Adding "not" or "I think" or "possibly" changes a comment quite a bit. Adding a whole sentence might not change its meaning at all.

If people want to flag something "edited for content" I wouldn't care but I doubt I'll ever use that flag. I just don't think this is a huge issue here.
posted by emjaybee at 2:17 PM on February 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


I do.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 2:21 PM on February 21, 2016


I'd also like to propose a new sort Metafilter sport wherein occasional META threads are completely concerned with Edit Window Abuse. It would go something like this:

1. user makes an intentionally wrong statement
2. user waits until someone responds, then "corrects" their statement
3. then what the hell, user keeps on making changes until the edit window finally shuts.
4. meanwhile other users have been doing much the same thing with their comments, making sure to copy/paste stuff they're responding to, which, of course, may disappear at any time ...
5. and so on.
6. what's left could be something akin to poetry, I suspect.
posted by philip-random at 2:24 PM on February 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


We did play nomic once.
posted by ctmf at 2:29 PM on February 21, 2016 [2 favorites]


Same here, and this is well put. I honestly don't understand how people can not think it's a problem unless they think life and MetaFilter just need a lot more randomness and chaos. If you've said something, you've said it, stand by it or correct it in a separate comment, don't sneakily rewrite it, is that so hard to understand?

I agree very much with this sentiment. What I almost guarantee is happening some of the time (as someone who is tempted to write and reedit almost anything I do anywhere a zillion times) is that some people feel that they have a buffer before the published comment gets integrated into the discussion, so they want to do a quickie edit or two, and sometimes get a little bit carried away in the process of wanting to release the Special Enahnced Edition TM of their comment, which reflects their truer thoughts. For perfectionists, it's about wanting to be as accurate as possible, and the long window allows for that kind of compulsive tinkering.

Or something similar to that, for a subset of people. This is why I'm a fan of the edit window (I love it, actually), but would prefer it to be shorter. If I remember right, when it was first available, the idea wasn't that it would replace other good editing efforts before hitting the button. It was due to the fact that a couple can errors slip through that you don't "see" until publication, and it's nice to be able to tidy that up without going bonkers. In my mind, five minutes is long enough to allow for more nefarious/compulsive types of edits, but a shorter window could be really helpful.

Although learing to acpet errers has been good fore me.
posted by SpacemanStix at 2:30 PM on February 21, 2016 [4 favorites]


6. what's left could be something akin to poetry, I suspect.

And nothing akin to actual conversation.
posted by dersins at 2:31 PM on February 21, 2016 [2 favorites]


Thanks for explaining Odiv, I think we are just philosophically different on this one.
posted by Drinky Die at 2:36 PM on February 21, 2016 [2 favorites]


ODiV: "Some forums let you outright delete the text of your comments months/years later and it works fine for them."

If by works you mean doesn't cause the sites to implode then sure; I've never seen it be an actual benefit to any site I've used that allowed it.

And it is completely unnecessary here as we have both the Brand New Day option and no real name requirement. And the mods will delete or anonymize the occasional comment for you if you have revealed something sensitive.
posted by Mitheral at 2:58 PM on February 21, 2016 [1 favorite]


So, I had a typo in an Ask, so couldn't edit it, where a single letter made it ...unfortunate ('fathered IN her" instead of ON her) and the mods nicely fixed that. Thus, I am very aware that a single letter difference can be a big deal in terms of meaning. I have crap eyesight and I am frequently posting from a neurotic tablet with an eccentric auto correct (It will not accept "per se" -- it first changes it to "per set" and then to "per we" when you remove the T and ..AUGH), so I really need the edit option.

I did see someone "abuse" the edit window and it was someone I have personal friction with and their edit annoyed me and blah blah blah. But I am old enough to recognize that "bitch eating crackers" thing and to recognize that just because I and x person have a history of friction and I am not fond of them does not prove they had malicious intentions. Same person later made a remark about themselves that made me view their edit a little more compassionately as more of a bad habit than "that bitch eating crackers" at me.

As for the thing of someone editing a comment to be less harsh, well, shit, I think ugly things about people all the time. I try to not say them. If someone edits a comment aimed at me to make it less harsh, I view that as an indication that they are trying to behave decently, even if they aren't always getting it right. Not everyone has to like me and many people don't. If they edited it to make it less harsh about me, I view that as "okay, this person probably doesn't like me, but they are trying to be civil, even if they initially blurted out something not so civil."

And I think that is part of doing the "charitable reading" thing I was taught was correct etiquette for interacting effectively with other netizens because we come from really diverse backgrounds and the internet lacks voice tone and facial expression and etc etc, so there are lots of potential pitfalls for things sounding a lot uglier than they were really intended. So as long as someone is not engaging in persistent hounding type behaviors, I kind of don't care that they don't like me, don't agree with me, whatever. They don't have to. But they shouldn't be engaging in some form of harassment over it.

And if I am just having a cow about something, the mods have never made me feel like I was being an asshole for flagging something and shooting them an email via contact form as to WHY I flagged it. They don't always agree with me, but they have never been all "WHY ARE YOU ABUSING THE CONTACT FORM????" So if I feel like it won't be obvious why I flagged it, I don't feel uncomfortable hitting them up via contact form -- and I have Baggage, so that makes me think this is not a big deal. If you really need the mods to know WHY you flagged it, you can TELL them and they won't give you hell about it.

So, if they ever get around to updating the flags, great. But I kind of think this is not a big problem that requires immediate attention. There are multiple other pathways to address these various issues. I agree with taz about giving some latitude for edits. I recently swapped out a phrase for a word because I felt it wasn't clear and I would hate for that to be A Big Fucking Deal where the mods would hassle me about Abusing The Edit Window for trying to make it say more precisely what I wanted it to say and reduce confusion and all that. Because it isn't okay in Ask Me to write clarifying follow ups. That seems to be one of the top reasons my comments in Ask Me get deleted, which, in fact, does bother me but not enough for me to start a meta about it or whatever. I usually just memail the OP and say "Hey, my clarification got deleted and FYI...."
posted by Michele in California at 3:01 PM on February 21, 2016


It's pretty silly for people here to act like editing a comment to add or clarify content is somehow cowardly or sneaky when a huge % of longstanding normal forums everywhere do it. You can be against it, but acting like it's a self-evident moral imperative is kinda goofy, imo.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 3:57 PM on February 21, 2016 [5 favorites]


"A huge % of longstanding normal forums" suck.

This place is older. And better.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 4:02 PM on February 21, 2016 [6 favorites]


One editing behavior that hasn't been mentioned here but which annoys me and is also against the guidelines that were laid out when the edit window became reality is when people put an "edited to add" disclaimer in their comment. It adds nothing to the conversation to have that there, and is an indicator that an edit was made which probably shouldn't have been, otherwise why would the commenter feel it was necessary to make the disclaimer at all?

Here is a current example of what I'm talking about. (Not trying to point a finger at Foci for Analysis who is a wonderful contributor, it just jumped out at me as an example of the kind of thing I wanted to bring up here.)
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 4:08 PM on February 21, 2016 [2 favorites]


someone's been adding beans to the plate.
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 4:11 PM on February 21, 2016


I didn't think a flag request would spawn this much (friendly) controversy. Forget it Jake, it's Metatalk.
posted by Justinian at 5:25 PM on February 21, 2016 [4 favorites]


AOANLA identified the kind of comment that rustles my jimmies. I would flag that EDIT: comments agree with me thing so hard.
posted by Justinian at 5:28 PM on February 21, 2016 [2 favorites]


Casting my vote for the mods being very aggressive in restricting use of the edit window to minor corrections.
posted by benito.strauss at 5:48 PM on February 21, 2016 [8 favorites]


Me too
posted by Joseph Gurl at 6:10 PM on February 21, 2016


We did play nomic once.
Once.
posted by dg at 12:46 AM on February 22, 2016 [5 favorites]


Seriously, what’s so bad about just adding another comment to clarify your statement instead of editing? All the arguments act like this is some horrible thing or great hardship.
posted by bongo_x at 1:25 AM on February 22, 2016 [6 favorites]


The problem with the edit function is that we are not allowed to use the full potential of the technology - which could, if we grant ourselves the freedom to exploit it, create new disruptive paradigms of MeFi conversation.

Let's just take a moment to blue-sky outside the box to envisage the ubiquitous game-changers that we could win-win with a cutting edge "pro-edit" viral strategy:

Firstly: by allowing users to freely edit their own comments, MeFi could truly become "self-policing". Scarce mod resources would no longer be wasted scrutinizing each comment for minor infractions, as users themselves could democratically self-moderate their own utterances, free of unnecessary and inefficient top-down regulation. Like Uber - but for conversations!

Secondly: got long threads, difficult to load/read? By allowing users to retrospectively edit their comments to include a summary of the next 5 comments, readers could save valuable time and effort when confronted with Megathreads. So you'll know to skip the next 5 comments if, for example, a user helpfully reports that they are just the worthless babble of closed-minded sheepy-men. Thus searching MeFi threads for great "information bargains" would become hyper-efficient. Like trivago - but for words!

Thirdly: MeFi threads often feature intense fights between two users, who explain and re-explain their positions on a controversy in comment after comment. But imagine if they could have the same fight in 5 minutes, using only one comment each! By allowing fighting users to edit their comment (by reinforcing their own argument and proactively addressing counter-arguments) a multi-comment battle would be neatly compressed into two comments over 5 minutes. At the end of that time-limit, the "winner" would be obvious to all, and the crowd could freely bay for his or her violent, bloody death. Like the Colosseum - but for ideas!

That's my pitch: by becoming edit ninjas, MeFi's true north will become a growth hack that pivots the social media revolution from end-to-end. It's a game changer, sure - but I say let's launch this next-generation collaborative partnership right into that dynamic net volcano to re-gamify a gestalt web model that is more than the sum of its parts. DISRUPT!
posted by the quidnunc kid at 2:40 AM on February 22, 2016 [12 favorites]


Seriously, what’s so bad about just adding another comment to clarify your statement instead of editing? All the arguments act like this is some horrible thing or great hardship.

Nobody is asking for that to be banned, they are asking for adding content via editing to be banned. So I think the burden of explaining why it's necessary is on that side of the argument. What is the horrible hardship it inflicts on you?
posted by Drinky Die at 2:49 AM on February 22, 2016


Adding content via editing is already expressly prohibited.
posted by Apoch at 2:59 AM on February 22, 2016 [3 favorites]


Yes, I'm saying the justification for that falls short of the "horrible great hardship" standard.
posted by Drinky Die at 3:54 AM on February 22, 2016


I participate on other forums where wholesale editing/deleting/whatever is permitted and I think it disrupts the flow of conversation there. I don't want to see the same happen here.

I'm happy to use the edit window here for its intended purpose, but I'd rather not have it at all than have free rein to add content to existing comments. That way lies confusion, IMO. Plus I think having a certain expectation that comments are final keeps me on my toes.
posted by asperity at 8:57 AM on February 22, 2016 [7 favorites]


Why does a practice that can lead to confusion and disruption need to meet this standard of "horrible great hardship"? We shouldn't edit in content because it is communicating in bad faith. Someone may have already replied and you are changing the context of that reply. If they haven't replied, someone may be composing a reply and not see your edits. Adding the content in a separate comment means that replies are not stripped of their context. It isnt a horrible great hardship, bu it helps preserve the context and flow of the discourse.
posted by Apoch at 9:24 AM on February 22, 2016 [10 favorites]


So those of us who think the current community rule & standard of don't edit to add content need to justify the existence of that rule, and the standard we have to meet is showing "Horrible great hardship? Is "horrible great hardship" the standard for determining site guidelines and norms now?

I believe the onus is in the wrong place here; if you feel it is fine for people to be able to add or alter content in the editing window, demonstrate the "horrible great hardship" that must currently exist if that is the case, in order for the existing rule to change.

Allowing people to add or alter content via the editing window creates confusion in the thread and in the conversation. Context is preserved. There is a record of what people said, when they said it so that we can communicate clearly with each other; if people need to clarify something they can add an additional comment.
posted by nubs at 11:46 AM on February 22, 2016 [4 favorites]


I'm sure I have broken the edit rule when my original comment was worded in a way that was easy to misinterpret. I've definitely gone back and rewritten something to be clearer. The option to do that, even if it adds a sentence or two, seems to be a value-add to the quality of discourse.

If someone is doing big edits for some nefarious reason, then it's a mod issue. When I notice it, it seems to happen at the top of the thread when someone wants to reserve a place in line. That behavior is not acceptable and worth a note to the mods.
posted by 26.2 at 12:12 PM on February 22, 2016 [2 favorites]


Oh, I'll add that I think it might be different in Ask than on the front page. Ask is about meeting the needs of the person who posted the question. If an answer is difficult to understand, then fixing it seems aligned with the intent of the Ask subsite.

Edits on the blue, seem a bit more clunky and prone to problems.
posted by 26.2 at 12:23 PM on February 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


Seriously, what’s so bad about just adding another comment to clarify your statement instead of editing? All the arguments act like this is some horrible thing or great hardship

Not horrible or hard, just pointless. What's so bad about editing instead of posting a new comment? The tools are there; why shouldn't we use them?
posted by Sys Rq at 12:29 PM on February 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


> The tools are there; why shouldn't we use them?

Because using them that way creates confusion and extra work for others who are reading our posts.
posted by benito.strauss at 12:53 PM on February 22, 2016 [4 favorites]


Because using them that way creates confusion and extra work for others who are reading our posts.

My experience is the opposite. With a few exceptions, I think the edits are helpful.
posted by 26.2 at 1:22 PM on February 22, 2016 [7 favorites]


Since the site was founded, conversations in MetaFilter have functioned a lot like in person conversations. What has been said cannot be unsaid, it can only be followed up. The fact that it is on the internet didn't really change that. The permanence of what we choose to contribute when we hit the post button creates accountability. Editing for content, even if only in that five minute window, changes that. The edit function wasn't introduced to change that, it was only introduced to correct spelling/grammatical mistakes to prevent the mods from having to deal with those small changes. While the tool might exist, I'd rather not see the site culture evolve to take full advantage of it. It's not a technical limitation, it's a cultural convention limitation. A limitation that enhances contributions to our discourse instead of compromises them.
posted by Apoch at 3:01 PM on February 22, 2016 [8 favorites]


Well, now I feel like an ass for not breaking the edit rules. I'll have to remember to do so from time to time now that even the top brass has more-or-less okayed it.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 9:10 PM on February 22, 2016


How about don't.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 9:11 PM on February 22, 2016 [3 favorites]


uhhh yeah sorry I'll stop doing that.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 10:55 PM on February 22, 2016


Okay.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 11:12 PM on February 22, 2016


(There is something about this "it's against the rules but the mods don't actually care and enforce it only sometimes" system that reminds me of don't-ask-don't-tell, but Edit isn't going anywhere, and barring that, it's just not that big a deal to me, so I'll chime out.)
posted by Joseph Gurl at 11:15 PM on February 22, 2016


I guess my least favorite Metatalk argument is, "oh, OKAY, so now it's cool to do [thing we ask people not to do]. Gotcha. I'll be sure to always do [thing we ask people not to do]."

Please don't use the edit window to add or delete significant content, because it can cause confusion in threads and isn't fair to people who are participating in the conversation with you. If you make a comment, "check out A, B, and C," and someone replies, "D is also a good example of this," and you've changed your comment to "check out A, B, C, and D," it looks like the person replying didn't read your comment.

If you make a comment, "blahblah blahbity blah, and anyone who disagrees is an idiot," and someone replies, "well, you must think I'm an idiot then, because blahblah," and you edit your comment to remove "and anyone who disagrees is an idiot," it looks like the person replying must be incredibly defensive.

Editing for content can cause confusion, misunderstanding, and weirdness. Please don't edit for content. IF you do, and we don't delete it, it might be because it wasn't flagged, or because it was flagged, but we failed to realize it was an edit thing (which we are more on the lookout for, anew), or maybe even because we looked, saw there was an edit, yet also realized that the conversation had moved past that without confusion and made a choice not to delete your comment because it was a comment made in good faith and didn't feel that deleting it served the greater good in the big picture.

That happens. It also happens that sometimes something is flagged when things are very busy and it doesn't get as much scrutiny as it would at a calmer point. Sometimes we have time to contact the poster and just say hey, please don't do this thing for these reasons, but the comment remains, and it looks like we didn't do anything, but we did. Sometimes we revert and leave a note, sometimes we revert and contact the poster. Sometimes we delete the whole thing. Sometimes two different mods might do two different things, because we're people. Always, our number one priority is to try to do the right thing for the site and the individual members rather than robotically enforce guidelines regardless of situation or context.

This does not mean "it's against the rules but the mods don't actually care."

Please edit for typos and small errors only. The mods care. Don't follow the guideline because we care, though. Follow it because it makes it better for conversation on the site to avoid confusion and weirdness, and you're presumably here to share the site with other people you'd like to talk with. Follow it because "I will indulge in whatever problem behavior I can get away with" makes a worse site than "I probably won't always be perfect, but I'll try to participate in good faith and not intentionally make this a worse site."
posted by taz (staff) at 12:17 AM on February 23, 2016 [25 favorites]


Always, our number one priority is to try to do the right thing for the site and the individual members rather than robotically enforce guidelines regardless of situation or context.

Can I just say that y'all mods do a great job at this and in particular have been doing a bang-up job of managing yuuuge, fast-moving and emotional threads since the beginning of Americelectionpalooza '16? We don't thank you enough for the emotional labor you do in making this a safe, intelligent and fair site.
posted by tivalasvegas at 9:15 AM on February 23, 2016 [6 favorites]


Just a random thought, but one reason I edit a lot is anxious defensive writing. Sometimes I spot things that could easily be misinterpreted, and changing just one word won't fix it while also preserving the intended meaning. It may take a sentence or two. It can look like changing the meaning when it's really just trying to correct a word that screwed up the communicated meaning. Metafilter sometimes doesn't give you the slack to correct yourself later, people sometimes cling to the original misinterpretation. I wish people would ease up on that a little bit, and I wouldn't feel like every comment has to be very heavily evaluated.
posted by Drinky Die at 6:46 AM on February 24, 2016 [2 favorites]


While I can understand the thrust of your feeling there, the solution is not to rely on rewriting your comment in place after the fact. Slow down and take the extra five minutes to reread and reconsider before hitting post in the first place instead, or, if that doesn't feel sufficient in a given thread, just put off commenting entirely at the time.

Quickly posting a clarification in a new comment will generally work just as well; no amount of editing will fix regretting something only an hour later or whatever.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:22 AM on February 24, 2016 [6 favorites]


It can look like changing the meaning when it's really just trying to correct a word that screwed up the communicated meaning.

I think what you're saying is that it's not changing the meaning that was in your head the whole time, but to people who only have the words you type it's definitely changing the meaning. I've seen you doing this. I appreciate that your heart is in the right place, but you find another way to do that other than editing for content which you basically need to stop doing.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 8:02 AM on February 24, 2016 [4 favorites]


I think what you're saying is that it's not changing the meaning that was in your head the whole time, but to people who only have the words you type it's definitely changing the meaning.

Well I believe there are two different types of miscommunication. The kind caused by the writer and the kind caused by the reader. Either can be an accident and either can be malicious. With communities where there is an excess of pressure towards defensive writing the reader based problems can be a serious issue. Statements that were written perfectly clearly can be read as statements with some other meaning when a reader approaches them with bad faith or with the intent to find something wrong with them. It's not changing the meaning on the paper, it's shielding that meaning from being twisted into another meaning.
posted by Drinky Die at 8:17 AM on February 24, 2016 [3 favorites]


I think what you're saying is that it's not changing the meaning that was in your head the whole time, but to people who only have the words you type it's definitely changing the meaning

All the more reason to change it.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:31 AM on February 24, 2016


Statements that were written perfectly clearly can be read as statements with some other meaning when a reader approaches them with bad faith or with the intent to find something wrong with them.

But then if I am understanding you correctly, you are changing your words after other people have read and responded to them? Not cool.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 10:06 AM on February 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


Well I believe there are two different types of miscommunication. The kind caused by the writer and the kind caused by the reader. Either can be an accident and either can be malicious. With communities where there is an excess of pressure towards defensive writing the reader based problems can be a serious issue. Statements that were written perfectly clearly can be read as statements with some other meaning when a reader approaches them with bad faith or with the intent to find something wrong with them. It's not changing the meaning on the paper, it's shielding that meaning from being twisted into another meaning.

When you talk about a reader approaching a text in bad faith, you are talking not about miscommunication but about a deliberate attempt to misconstrue or mislead, and nothing can "shield" a text from that kind of reader.

There is only cause of genuine miscommunication, and that is the text itself. The particular mechanism for miscommunication may take place within the creation of the text or its interpretation, but, in the end, all we have is that text. To alter it after the act of interpretation is to move the goalposts in a way that is just as unfair to the reader as deliberate, bad-faith misconstruing is to the writer.
posted by dersins at 10:18 AM on February 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


When you talk about a reader approaching a text in bad faith, you are talking not about miscommunication but about a deliberate attempt to misconstrue or mislead, and nothing can "shield" a text from that kind of reader.

Eh, I think there are degrees of bad faith. Sometimes switching up some elements of the language can prevent those readings. In general though, yeah you do make a good point.
posted by Drinky Die at 10:26 AM on February 24, 2016


Yeah, again, that's an argument for taking more time with the drafting process (or reworking your decision-making process about when and what to draft in the first place), not a reason to edit meaning after the fact.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:34 AM on February 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


Hey, Drinky Die, I am sympathetic to how you feel and why you do it, but what you are doing is called "digging your grave deeper." I know how unfair it feels to have reason to believe people will twist your intended meaning, but editing for content is not the way to do this. In some cases, clarifying is also not real useful. Sometimes, the best thing you can do is make a mental note that X phrasing works really poorly and keep that in mind in the future.

If you and I were tighter, I would send this as a memail. I am aware that it will likely feel to you like you are being ganged up on and told you are in the wrong. I am posting it publicly because people tend to be at their most vicious when there are no witnesses, so, there kind of is no good way to do this. Public or private, you are likely to feel hurt. And I know no magic way to avoid that. I wish I did.

But what cortex and jessamyn are telling you is absolutely correct. Try it. Give it a bit of time. You might be surprised.

I do occasionally do a little more than edit for typos, but it is rare and is usually more along the lines of breaking up a long paragraph into two paragraphs by adding a space, not editing for content. Again, I will cop to swapping in a phrase for a pronoun recently for claritiy's sake, but that is unusual. I think it probably falls well within the latitude taz described above.

If you are routinely editing for content, regardless of the reason, it is a violation of the rules and it just makes you look bad. I have always gotten more mileage out of what one of my critics once called "owning your words" than out of trying to weasel out of it.

Take care, buddy.
posted by Michele in California at 11:19 AM on February 24, 2016 [3 favorites]


I don't feel ganged up on here at all. :)
posted by Drinky Die at 11:26 AM on February 24, 2016 [2 favorites]


When I notice it, it seems to happen at the top of the thread when someone wants to reserve a place in line.

Please tell me people don't do this.
posted by The Bellman at 11:41 AM on February 24, 2016


"Slow down and take the extra five minutes to reread and reconsider before hitting post in the first place instead, or, if that doesn't feel sufficient in a given thread, just put off commenting entirely at the time."

I think I've asked about this before, but I have the impression that I'm among the very tiny number of people who use the true preview function. Do you have stats on this? It's a post, so I'd think you could tell.

But I think that too many people are relying on the live preview for their final scan before posting. When we talked about the edit window a long time ago, there was a lot of discussion about the psychological effect of noticing errors only after something has been posted -- I think that it has a lot to do with the combination of the (substantial) break in continuity in the writing process and seeing something in a different format. The text input window doesn't provide either of these, and the live-preview in my opinion only provides the latter in a weak form. Actually posting the form for a true preview is a post-like process that brings the comment up in a format different from how it was composed and close to the final result. I really think that if people want to catch their typos, as well as becoming aware of the need for some revision, the true preview is where they'll find this.

When I write, I'll glance down at the live preview if I want to re-read what I've written -- I don't read it in the text input window, though I do check for my browser's highlighting of typos/misspellings -- and then sometimes I'll make a few revisions. But when I think I'm done or nearly done, I'll post for the true preview, and that's when I'll really proofread. And often end up revising. Frequently, I'll go through this process several times (which, incidentally, is why I think I see an infrequent but annoying error more often than almost anyone else). In fact, between writing the previous sentence (which I'd intended as my final sentence) and this one, I've now brought up five or so true previews as I've proofed and revised this comment.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 2:36 PM on February 24, 2016


Please tell me people don't do this.

It is a thing I've noticed.
posted by phunniemee at 2:52 PM on February 24, 2016


I've been using the true preview pretty heavily since the new comments feature was rolled out.
posted by Mitheral at 3:38 PM on February 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


I have been trying a lot harder over the last year to craft comments (well, serious comments, rather than snap jokes). I am writing and rewriting longer comments, sometimes over the course of an hour, and, often enough (especially in contested threads), I end up deleting the thing I have written because I can't find the words to precisely say what I want. Alternatively, I decide that I have done the best I can and post it, figuring that I will respond if I have mis-expressed myself.

trying to get a complex thought out in the white heat of internet conflict is just asking to make things worse. If it has to be done both well and quickly, it's better not to do it at all, I find.

Besides, I find the edit window with it's little counter anxiety-producing enough, even for typos. If I was trying to edit for content, I would feel like I was trying to decide to cut the red or green wire in the finale of an action film (after I was called out of retirement for that one last job).
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:21 PM on February 24, 2016 [2 favorites]


Yeah, again, that's an argument for taking more time with the drafting process (or reworking your decision-making process about when and what to draft in the first place), not a reason to edit meaning after the fact.

Doesn't this advice also apply to people hastily responding to newly-posted comments? Couldn't they also slow down and consider what they're doing?

(Ditto any advice to use the Preview button.)
posted by Sys Rq at 4:39 PM on February 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


I have been trying a lot harder over the last year to craft comments (well, serious comments, rather than snap jokes). I am writing and rewriting longer comments, sometimes over the course of an hour, and, often enough (especially in contested threads), I end up deleting the thing I have written because I can't find the words to precisely say what I want. Alternatively, I decide that I have done the best I can and post it, figuring that I will respond if I have mis-expressed myself.

This is a something I'd like to work at, myself; the majority of my comments throughout my 10 years on MetaFilter have been of the "bon mot" variety, hold the bon.

Seriously, thank you for sharing your process. There are so many thoughtful people on this site who clearly put a lot of effort into what they say and how they say it, and the level of discourse is so much stronger for it. The mods are a big part of that formula too, of course. (Thanks, mods!)
posted by duffell at 4:42 PM on February 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


trying to get a complex thought out in the white heat of internet conflict is just asking to make things worse.

This is often true, but if you are sufficiently behind the 8 ball for some reason, it can be a damned if you do, damned if you don't situation. You don't reply and other people act like that is evidence of some kind of wrong doing. You do reply and it isn't absolutely perfect, oh, hey, hang-em-high.

In addition to trying to step away from the keyboard during heated situations, a good practice is to try hard to find a means to engage positively. This is hard to do and hard to describe. But, instead of arguing with people who don't agree with you, it can help to step back, think it through, and put together a not-fighty "position statement" about something. This can be really effective, but it is very much not a conversational approach to engagement and most people are dealing with forum discussion as "conversation." In actual conversation, you don't walk away for a day or two, think it over, then come back with a well written and researched short speech giving your position and doing so neutrally so as to not be fighty.

Also, my observation has long been that many bright people default to arguing because it is a kind of lazy way to satisfy some of their intellectual needs. There is more to say when you debate something. If you just want to say "I agree", there is usually not much to really elaborate upon. Debate is typically where we get our serious intellectual workouts and I think people who are bright but do not have very challenging jobs and are bored with life default to picking arguments, sometimes without realizing it. They may hate the emotional fallout, but at least it puts a stop to the feeling of mental suffocation. So, I think sometimes people who don't have a real solution get enough out of it that it winds up being the least worst answer for them.

The solution is to help them get the engagement they need without fighting with them. But, once established, it is a hard habit to break and most people aren't going to recognize the real issue nor be sympathetic after arguing with you so many times. ...

I might be rambling at this point. I am going to post it anyway. I think it is useful info, even if I am failing to make it fit elegantly because that would be more work than I can currently give it. I do sometimes use the preview function (and sometimes not), but my point is that some of the issues being brought up in this thread are not solvable by encouraging more people to use preview.
posted by Michele in California at 4:43 PM on February 24, 2016 [4 favorites]


Doesn't this advice also apply to people hastily responding to newly-posted comments? Couldn't they also slow down and consider what they're doing?

Based on your advocacy for using the edit function for changing content elsewhere in this thread, are you suggesting that people should be expected to preview comments for five minutes before risking a response in case the comment they're responding to changes?
posted by Apoch at 4:56 PM on February 24, 2016 [2 favorites]


"...and, often enough (especially in contested threads), I end up deleting the thing I have written because I can't find the words to precisely say what I want."

These days, I write (with that long process I described) but end up abandoning at least as many comments as I end up posting. Seriously, my write-then-abandon rate is about 50%. And I think that basically everyone, but particularly me, is better for it. I heartily recommend this.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 6:14 PM on February 24, 2016 [2 favorites]


This is often true, but if you are sufficiently behind the 8 ball for some reason, it can be a damned if you do, damned if you don't situation. You don't reply and other people act like that is evidence of some kind of wrong doing. You do reply and it isn't absolutely perfect, oh, hey, hang-em-high.


Part of my progress to this point is being less anxious about being seen as "right" and less concerned with "winning arguments." I try to make my points as clearly as I can, clarify if I've made an obvious error, but it's not like I'm the only voice in a thread, and, if the words aren't coming on a given day, if I'm too busy or lack connectivity or I have to go to bed, then I have to trust myself to have done the best job I could and trust that MeFites of good intent will read me with some charity (or MeMail me and say "wtf man?"). MeFites of different views can take exception, if they like; I'll answer them when I'm able to put the time into the comment to clarify, respond, or whatever. MeFites of truly ill intent (and there really aren't that many of these) aren't going to understand anyway, so it's pointless to even consider them an audience.

And, assuming I'm reading as I'm writing, I'm almost never a "lone voice in the wilderness;" I not only don't need the last word, I should be giving my fellow travelers support and room to breathe, not insisting on always being the "point voice."

tl;dr -- trying to give up the urge to dig in or pursue to the point of exhaustion makes participating in the site much nicer.
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:18 AM on February 25, 2016 [3 favorites]


So here's an interesting example. I'm pretty sure the linked comment was edited to add the small-text aside. Would the aside have survived as its own separate comment since it wasn't explicitly answering the question? I know similar asides about language have been left alone by mods, but I don't know if it would be completely safe like it is as an addition to an existing answer. So there's a potential upside for the commenter on editing vs. new comment in AskMe that I hadn't previously considered.

I didn't flag it because I've stopped flagging these. It was starting to feel pointless.
posted by ODiV at 10:58 AM on February 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


For me, no editing makes for conversation, editing makes for statements.
posted by bongo_x at 12:53 PM on February 25, 2016 [2 favorites]


And I think the conversation/statement divide may be as fundamental as the ask/guess one.
posted by benito.strauss at 1:16 PM on February 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


> For me, no editing makes for conversation, editing makes for statements.

> And I think the conversation/statement divide may be as fundamental as the ask/guess one.


This makes a lot of sense to me.

I feel like I've seen a number of instances where one person will comment with a half-formed theory, or maybe an open-ended question asked in good faith out of genuine curiosity--and the response is, shall we say, less than charitable (e.g., assigning motive, assuming the commenter is deliberately poisoning the well, that kind of thing). And I suspect that sometimes, the people responding to that initial comment are treating it as a statement (which implies an agenda) rather than a snatch of conversation (which doesn't, necessarily).

That's not to say every MeFight is the result of an honest misunderstanding. Sometimes people really are shitposting, poisoning the well, shitting in the well (whatever MeTaphor you like).
posted by duffell at 1:33 PM on February 25, 2016 [2 favorites]


...and obviously it's possible to act in good faith yet still cause people harm. On review, I think Michele in California said it well upthread: Sometimes, the best thing you can do is make a mental note that X phrasing works really poorly and keep that in mind in the future.
posted by duffell at 1:45 PM on February 25, 2016


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