Cultivating Community February 29, 2016 10:51 AM   Subscribe

What do y'all think about adding another sub-site, one explicitly oriented to fostering community? I envision a sub-site where people could post significant personal news, achievements or challenges without the framing of an AskMe: these are announcements, not questions, e.g., I lost 20 lbs or had a baby or converted the garage into a bedroom.

This idea differs from what we have right now:
  • Projects is typically used by people posting professional or hobby achievements with a web presence;
  • Music is usually people posting MP3s;
  • IRL is pretty much only about meet-ups;
  • MetaTalk is about site dynamics affecting the community as a whole;
  • Chat is too transient for this purpose.

  • Although people occasionally use MetaTalk to update the community about a matter that concerns help provided/received through the site (often when the related AskMe is closed to comments), that seems qualitatively different to me.

    I could see expanding the function of Projects or IRL instead and allowing status-sharing like the examples above to happen organically. Projects is presently a sanctioned place for self-links and IRL is about, well, real life: both make sense in different ways. However, I also think the sub-site I envision should only be visible to logged-in members and kept from Google searches, to provide additional safety and privacy (especially for people posting links to photos), which runs counter to the purpose of either Projects or IRL.

    This sub-site would help us get to know each other better in a day-to-day way. Of course this may not be the direction in which the mods and/or members want to take the community. After all, MetaFilter isn't Facebook or its ilk. But what say you?
    posted by carmicha to Feature Requests at 10:51 AM (321 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

    Not for me. This would encourage competition and ego. To me, successful communities are about what they do, not who they are.
    posted by scruss at 10:57 AM on February 29, 2016 [11 favorites]


    Quick thoughts to start off:

    - I like the idea of helping encourage intracommunity interaction and so I totally get the basic impetus here. I think talking about how folks can feel more engaged with each other on the site in positive and humanizing ways is totally worthwhile, and this is as good a time as any to do some of that.

    - I don't however see putting together a new dedicated subsite for it. Substantially replicating the features of major social media platforms as a new basic top-level part of MetaFilter feels like a big, big change and an extremely complicated one, even after granting the assumption that folks would be generally into it which I don't know if that's the case. But as a starting point that's a huge project that we're definitely not up to tackling, all else aside.

    - Talking about little things that could be added/tweaked/connected on the site as it exists now that would improve a little bit this ability to have sort of personal news/status stuff be part of the community sense on the site outside of existing channels is more practical as something to at least discuss. What shape or form those things would take, I don't know, and I'm not saying it's anything like a given that they'd happen, but that's the right scope. So, e.g., what would it mean to build out the contacts and contact activity feeds a bit, or to try and more actively highlight member stuff on MetaTalk in terms of IRL/Projects/StuffThatHasHappened?

    One big big implication of anything along this lines is new privacy concerns and complications, and that's something that I think it is very easy to understate. I love sharing and have no real privacy worries about anything I put on the internet, but I'm very far from being everyone on that front, and that's true for a broad spectrum of users on a bunch of different fronts, so the idea of creating a new, explicitly-for-personal-sharing members-only, privacy-centric place that's also accessible to an open-signups userbase is taking on a huge challenge that'd be a larger-scale elaboration of some already difficult stuff we've been talking about and working mechanically on recently in the course of just status quo MetaFilter operations.
    posted by cortex (staff) at 11:00 AM on February 29, 2016 [4 favorites]


    Probably not for me, but I could see some folks enjoying it. (“MeTwitter”) (I just enjoy stalking other people on MetaFilter via their Twitter handles, because I’m a creeper.) Honestly, your best bet might be to make a set of dedicated alternate site personalities based on your pseud (@carmichaOnMetaFilterOnTwitter or to join metaChat or another chat-focused MetaFilter spinoff.
    posted by Going To Maine at 11:05 AM on February 29, 2016


    Metafilter doesn't have to be the solution to every problem.
    posted by Chocolate Pickle at 11:07 AM on February 29, 2016 [19 favorites]


    Metafilter doesn’t have to be the solution to every problem.

    Only because pb has only so much time.
    posted by Going To Maine at 11:09 AM on February 29, 2016 [3 favorites]


    Talking about little things that could be added/tweaked/connected on the site as it exists now that would improve a little bit this ability to have sort of personal news/status stuff be part of the community sense on the site outside of existing channels is more practical as something to at least discuss. What shape or form those things would take, I don't know, and I'm not saying it's anything like a given that they'd happen, but that's the right scope. So, e.g., what would it mean to build out the contacts and contact activity feeds a bit, or to try and more actively highlight member stuff on MetaTalk in terms of IRL/Projects/StuffThatHasHappened?

    One possibility (well, depending on the back end work): a dedicated MeMail subfolder for “status updates”. It would update silently, so people wouldn't be bothered by a stream of news. If someone wants to respond, they respond with a personal memail.
    posted by Going To Maine at 11:16 AM on February 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


    I like the idea of some kind of add-on to the IRL subsite. Alas and alack I'm yet to be able to go to an actual meetup because of where I live so I miss the interaction MeFites get through those. A kind of notice-board/announcement type thing as part of IRL would be a nice way to get to know people outside of Asks and Memail (and Chat scares the knickers off me).
    posted by billiebee at 11:22 AM on February 29, 2016 [4 favorites]


    I'd like this, if only to get life updates out of here. I'm a curmudgeon I guess and I feel like it's pretty cliquey when there are wedding/baby/etc posts to MetaTalk when it's clear that not many users could use MeTa for this purpose without flooding it.
    posted by ODiV at 11:30 AM on February 29, 2016 [34 favorites]


    Connecting something like this to the contacts functionality has potential. As it stands, the only thing I ever see on the contacts sidebar is when someone had a best answer or got a lot of favorites, and I never pay attention to that because my contacts are bright people who have best answers and tons of favorites all the time. But if we added something to the profile page that was a free form "News To Share!" and all contacts saw that in the sidebar when there was an update, I could see that being useful. I'd love to know who got a new job/had a baby/is dealing with something tough and needs support. I could go for that. And maybe set it so that new updates only got pushed to contacts once every 24 hours, to resist turning into MeTwitter.
    posted by Pater Aletheias at 11:37 AM on February 29, 2016 [5 favorites]


    MetaChat was established exactly for this purpose. How's that going these days?
    posted by briank at 11:40 AM on February 29, 2016 [13 favorites]


    This sounds like facebook but with no privacy and no filters over who posts in it. Just make a public facebook group if that's what you want.
    posted by shelleycat at 11:50 AM on February 29, 2016 [11 favorites]


    Just make a public facebook group if that's what you want.

    Or a private one, I suppose.
    posted by carmicha at 11:53 AM on February 29, 2016


    I really appreciate threads like these on MeFightClub, even though I'm not super engaged with them. I think it would work well as a goofy Twitterbot side project, where you tweet @[bot name] "I went on a hike and saw several nice dogs" and the bot would tweet "mefi's own [you] went on a hike and saw several nice dogs".
    posted by knuckle tattoos at 11:55 AM on February 29, 2016 [6 favorites]


    OK, so I thought MetaChat was just a formal name for Chat until I Googled it just now, and I actually thought "MeFightClub" was just a punny inside joke that would occasionally pop up in threads. What is it?
    posted by carmicha at 12:00 PM on February 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


    MeFightClub is a video game discussion site run by our own stavrosthewonderchicken.
    posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 12:03 PM on February 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


    MeFightClub is an unofficial but pretty rad spinoff community dedicated to (mostly but not entirely video) gaming, that started, dang, a while back now and which stavrosthewonderchicken runs.

    It's a pretty nice place to spend time as a video gamer, and has a MeFi-ish ethos though it's definitely its own community with its own mechanics and expectations at this point; one major distinction is its an entirely behind-membership place vs. MetaFilter's almost-everything-is-public approach, which of course informs some of the relative amount of casual real-life chatter in some of the long-running threads there.
    posted by cortex (staff) at 12:04 PM on February 29, 2016


    How about an area of MeFi which is just boiled down snark? A place where we work towards snark in its purest form? Where our singularity of purpose can being us together as one entity, indivisible, in a search for a platonic ideal?

    I dream it as a shining quest for completion of us all.
    posted by biffa at 12:33 PM on February 29, 2016 [9 favorites]


    How about an area of MeFi which is just boiled down snark? A place where we work towards snark in its purest form? Where our singularity of purpose can being us together as one entity, indivisible, in a search for a platonic ideal?

    Dude, you're already in MetaTalk.
    posted by MoonOrb at 12:36 PM on February 29, 2016 [34 favorites]


    A few more opt-in or opt-out (on both ends) for contact activity might be nice. "so-and-so changed their profile picture.", "so-and-so updated their profile.", "so-and-so just got a new Visa card and the number is..."

    Options in user settings could be "I want to see expanded contact activity" and "I want others to see my expanded contact activity."

    That way, someone opting in on both sides could use their profile a bit more actively, to update others and to see what others have updated.

    Just a thought.
    posted by bondcliff at 12:40 PM on February 29, 2016 [3 favorites]


    I can appreciate the impetus. At the same time, it's become clear over the last couple of years that there is a fair amount of width to the spectrum of how close people consider, or want, this community to be. Though I can't find a citation, there was a time years ago when mathowie described MetaFilter as something like "a social network for non-friends," where he meant that it was a place not to establish new cliques and circles but to trend toward a general openness, to have discourse between people who actually weren't all that close and weren't looking to share personal confidences and bona fides as the basis for interaction. I think that is a very special role to play, sort of an Internet third place that didn't depend on relationships to offer a basis for exchange of ideas, and have been aware of a little bit of a downside to the construction of the "MetaFilter community" as a place characterized by emotional warmth, a sense of unity in viewpoint, etc.

    I would definitely say that MetaChat is the result of exactly this kind of conversation. In 2005 or so, when some people wanted to be more personally friendly/interactive and were frustrated that MeFi guidelines prohibited chit-chat and social posts, taz and some others launched this separate community blog site where MeFites could have open conversation. For many years, MetaChat was super active and very social. Traffic has declined somewhat with the advent of Facebook and other social tools that began to edge into its place, but it still has the value of being a place where MeFites can meet other MeFites and enjoy more of a small "town-diner" atmosphere where conversation has lower stakes and fewer guidelines to meet. There are people there who have never been MeFi members, and people who are a lot more active there than here, but mostly there is a certain amount of visible overlap.

    This is definitely a great opportunity to invite people over to MetaChat. I am no longer an official admin (though the Wiki needs updating, I can see) but happy to play ambassador a bit. I know a few others have been really wanting to see participation increase, and everyone is welcome. New user signups are on a short delay but should be confirmed pretty quickly. Take a quick look at the user guidelines to get a sense of what's OK. I think it might meet a lot of this need without making MetaFilter itself a more IRL identity-based community that emphasizes relationships and personal profiles more than it currently does.
    posted by Miko at 12:43 PM on February 29, 2016 [26 favorites]


    I solidly endorse MetaChat.org; it already does provide a lot of what carmicha is requesting, for the few MeFites who use it, especially when someone posts a "Three-Point Update" post. I'm in there, mostly as the last active contributor to the "OMG BUNNY!" running joke (which is just an obsession with cute and/or weird rabbits that is tolerated on 'MeCha').

    Of course, Chat.MetaFilter is also a place to casually connect (and I hang out there, often just linking to weird images and chiding user evilspork for linking to weirder ones).
    posted by oneswellfoop at 1:01 PM on February 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


    I like giving people compliments when I'm in the place to do it, so I would enjoy occasionally popping by "LoveMe" and saying nice things. Congratulations on your successful thing, whatever it is - good on you! You're a talented, smart, determined and funny person, and I admire you (or what I know of you)! Best of luck in the future, and my best wishes to your family as well. That is what I could say, and I would enjoy saying it to many of you. In fact, please accept those thoughts for anything you feel happy about today.
    posted by the quidnunc kid at 1:13 PM on February 29, 2016 [10 favorites]


    I'm finding Miko's post persuasive.
    posted by carmicha at 1:13 PM on February 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


    Vote quidnunc kid!
    posted by carmicha at 1:14 PM on February 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


    I've been thinking more about this and I think the introduction of more of this stuff would just eventually drive me away from Metafilter based on past experiences. It would become just one more place to be excluded from the cool clique and ug, so tiresome and unpleasant. And since I don't want to join in with this stuff in the first place there's no respite, just exclusion.

    It's not what Metafilter is for, if you want a social network go get it on a social networking site and don't bring the cliquey stuff here more than it is already.
    posted by shelleycat at 1:17 PM on February 29, 2016 [36 favorites]


    I'd like this, if only to get life updates out of here. I'm a curmudgeon I guess and I feel like it's pretty cliquey when there are wedding/baby/etc posts to MetaTalk when it's clear that not many users could use MeTa for this purpose without flooding it.

    Aw, I really like these! Sometimes it's sad because someone has died and sometimes it's happy because people are getting married or having babies and either way I like that they are part of the way we communicate about the site. I do see your point about cliqueishness but I don't think we have THAT many people getting married or dying or having babies, do we? It's not like these are things everyone is doing twice a month. And of those people who ARE undergoing major life events, does everyone want a post here? It's never seemed that cluttered to me? I think it's nice that we acknowledge that these are big important deals to people and that we use the designated community input space to learn about them and cheer/commiserate and I think moving them to a different area would take away some of that.
    posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 1:36 PM on February 29, 2016 [7 favorites]


    What do y'all think about adding another sub-site, one explicitly oriented to fostering community?

    Speaking as a loyal MeFi and a regular on Meta Chat, I second Miko. I can't tell you how wonderful that site is at sponsoring a sense of community, just via daily chit chat posts. Please come join us! If Meta Chat has a weakness, it is that we could use some more Bunnies (the name for us MeCha-zens.)
    posted by bearwife at 1:40 PM on February 29, 2016


    gyofb.metafilter.com
    posted by Quonab at 1:59 PM on February 29, 2016 [3 favorites]


    I rather have .plan's than blogs, personally.
    posted by bonehead at 2:17 PM on February 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


    Yuck. No.
    posted by barnacles at 2:17 PM on February 29, 2016


    Interesting, shelleycat. I see your point about the negative consequences of any change that might increase cliqueishness factor. My experience with the site is less that there's cliques--although there are certainly groups that tend to coalesce around particular topics-- and more as though there are members who are the "cool kids." We know them by their heaps of favorites, but what makes them cool? Are they really that much more insightful or funny than everyone else?

    I think the secret sauce is that the "cool kids" give of themselves to the community and so we've come to know them better. They post frequently, they share details about their lives and so they've become recognizable as individuals. With familiarity comes not contempt, but community: they've moved further along a spectrum that ranges from internet stranger to IRL friends.

    I'm not one of the cool kids here, and that's fine and maybe even desirable; I've commented elsewhere on the grey that I cherished my actual (or illusion of) anonymity on MetaFilter. But I spend a fair amount of time here and might like people to know me better. And I'd like to know other people here better. It's not about creating another social network (which are only as valuable as the relationships they foster anyway)... it's about facilitating our ability to round out our perceptions of each other and share milestones and lodestones. I'd be bummed out if it turned into FaceBook, Twitter, Instagram, etc., but I've enjoyed the occasional threads like the "gratitude post" that popped around Thanksgiving in which people shared tribulations and jubilations. It felt good and it seemed like the site might benefit from installing something like that as a feature.

    MetaChat is new to me; as I said above, I hadn't realized it was different than "Chat." It looks like a good thing and I'm glad this post is giving it attention.
    posted by carmicha at 2:19 PM on February 29, 2016 [9 favorites]


    No one owns chatfilter.org, it seems.
    posted by Going To Maine at 2:32 PM on February 29, 2016 [3 favorites]


    This sounds to me like making a FB/MetaChat hybrid an official part of the site. I agree with shellycat that it'd feel cliquey and might drive me away.

    I do see your point about cliqueishness but I don't think we have THAT many people getting married or dying or having babies, do we? It's not like these are things everyone is doing twice a month.

    I'd guess that these things are happening MUCH more than twice a month. Obviously not for any one person, but across all members. Many certainly don't want a post about these events, but there may be others who would like it but there's nobody to post "SoAndSo had a baby and got married and lost a cat and got a dog!" I wouldn't want those posts so I'm not complaining, but the way they exist today does already feel clique-ish. Also, everything Miko said in the first paragraph.

    I understand the idea and I don't think the intention is bad at all. It just goes against the reasons I like MeFi so much.

    And on preview -

    I've enjoyed the occasional threads like the "gratitude post" that popped around Thanksgiving in which people shared tribulations and jubilations. It felt good and it seemed like the site might benefit from installing something like that as a feature.


    I like these posts and participate in them. But open gratitude posts or "Show us your desk" or "Pets of MeFi" or "Thing you learned from MeFi" are to me different than a "UserX had a life event" because the former are about MeFites and each instance of the latter is about a MeFite. I'm not sure why those seem so different to me but they do.
    posted by Clinging to the Wreckage at 2:33 PM on February 29, 2016 [4 favorites]


    Another no vote. Metafilter is great because everyone can offer their (civil, well-intentioned) point of view or advice without worrying too much about social ties.

    Clinging to the Wreckage: "With familiarity comes not contempt, but community"
    I reread Good Omens recently, and ever since then I can't help but think of this quotation whenever I see the word 'community':

    Newt had always suspected that people who regularly used the word "community" were using it in a very specific sense that excluded him and everyone he knew.

    Communities aren't really communities unless they're creating insiders and outsiders. No thanks.
    posted by crazy with stars at 2:33 PM on February 29, 2016 [13 favorites]


    Mrs. Pterodactyl: I do see your point about cliqueishness but I don't think we have THAT many people getting married or dying or having babies, do we?

    We do, but most of us don't post about it or don't have others posting about it. And that's exactly what makes it cliqueish.
    posted by Too-Ticky at 2:34 PM on February 29, 2016 [22 favorites]


    Facebook already exists and has been proven to be bad for you anyway:
    The irony of Facebook is by now known to most. The “social” network has been linked to a surprising number of undesirable mental health consequences: Depression, low self-esteem, and bitter jealousy among them. Now, a new study in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology finds that not only do Facebook and depressive symptoms go hand-in-hand, but the mediating factor seems to be a well-established psychological phenomenon: “Social comparison.” That is, making comparisons, often between our most humdrum moments and our friends “highlight reels” – the vacation montages and cute baby pics – is what links Facebook time and depressive symptoms together.
    The last thing I need is for Metafilter to make my depression worse.
    posted by chonus at 2:44 PM on February 29, 2016 [7 favorites]


    I like that tidbits about our personal lives are split up fairly evenly among all the subsites with the exception of major life events announced in MeTa. I wouldn't want that balance to change.
    posted by michaelh at 2:44 PM on February 29, 2016


    Throwing another log on the MetaChat bonfire here - it was established to meet the exact role you are proposing. As has been mentioned, traffic has dwindled significantly due to Facebook etc, but it's definitely a place where you can have a chat with MeFites (and others) in a much more informal way, but without the real-time only limitations that MeFi chat has.

    Come on over - this month, every new user gets a free (virtual) hug! Only if you want it, of course.
    posted by dg at 2:44 PM on February 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


    Clinging to the Wreckage: "With familiarity comes not contempt, but community"
    I reread Good Omens recently, and ever since then I can't help but think of this quotation whenever I see the word 'community':


    I'm not sure if you're attributing that to me or talking to me, but that was carmicha who said that. I like your line about community from Good Omens though and that's the short version of what I was trying to say in my rambling comment.
    posted by Clinging to the Wreckage at 2:49 PM on February 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


    We do, but most of us don't post about it or don't have others posting about it. And that's exactly what makes it cliqueish.

    My thought exactly. I've had two kids since I joined Metafilter, neither got its own Meta, because I'm not part of any of the social groups that would post a Meta about it. That's not a complaint, there's how many thousand active users? There's all sorts of people that I can't know about, and can't know about me. The point is there's very clearly there is an in-group and everyone else when it comes to getting a posting about your LIFE EVENT on Meta.
    posted by Gygesringtone at 2:52 PM on February 29, 2016 [10 favorites]


    Come on over - this month, every new user gets a free (virtual) hug! Only if you want it, of course.

    Does metachat have a gopher server yet? This is important.
    posted by Going To Maine at 2:54 PM on February 29, 2016 [4 favorites]


    Clinging to the Wreckage: “With familiarity comes not contempt, but community”

    In the words of Stephen Sondheim, “Familiarity breeds content.”
    posted by Going To Maine at 2:55 PM on February 29, 2016


    Would it be too crazy to propose a monthly thread here on MeTa that's a big "what's going on in my life" thread with attendant responses? I would read the heck out of one of those.
    posted by Night_owl at 3:04 PM on February 29, 2016 [10 favorites]


    very clearly there is an in-group and everyone else when it comes to getting a posting about your LIFE EVENT on Meta

    Yes, but isn't the point of this that we wouldn't need to be "in-group" enough for someone to do it about us, we could just do it ourselves but in a way that doesn't feel as big a deal as creating a MeTa about it? A MeTa post feels like headline news and most people probably wouldn't want to announce their stuff there for various reasons, whereas this would just be like a little "hey guess what?" to people passing by.
    posted by billiebee at 3:06 PM on February 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


    Communities aren't really communities unless they're creating insiders and outsiders. No thanks.

    Perhaps I'm naive, but I see MetaFilter as already being a community, with more that joins us together than willingness to pay $5 to gain admission. Herein lies my one reservation about MetaChat; it's taking the community conversation off-site. Therefore, I like Night owl's idea about a monthly update thread.

    I appreciate all of you taking part in this thread and sharing your insights.
    posted by carmicha at 3:09 PM on February 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


    I'm not sure if you're attributing that to me or talking to me, but that was carmicha who said that. I like your line about community from Good Omens though and that's the short version of what I was trying to say in my rambling comment.

    Ah so sorry!! My apologies. I messed up making the quote. Please correct mods if you have the time/inclination.
    posted by crazy with stars at 3:10 PM on February 29, 2016


    "Hey guess what? I had a baby" posted by UserX - 156 favorites 361 comments
    "Hey guess what? I had a baby" posted by UserY - 3 favorites 8 comments
    "Who here has a baby to show/talk about" posted as general MeTa - 1000 favorites 2000 comments.

    In some ways it won't matter if we're free to post about a life event ourselves. I'm not trying to make this a bigger deal than it is because I can just not participate, but I don't see a way this idea doesn't increase the clique/cool table at lunch/cabal level. When the third thing above happens I do enjoy them. It's not that I don't enjoy reading about the individual life events. I'd just rather there be fewer than more of them posted here.
    posted by Clinging to the Wreckage at 3:16 PM on February 29, 2016 [6 favorites]


    Please correct mods

    (I think it's been cleared up in flow of the thread, so going back to change it now is just more confusing than anything. Just clarifying, as you've done, is the best way.)
    posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 3:21 PM on February 29, 2016


    Another vote for no. as described I don't think this particular pony fits Mefi
    posted by Faintdreams at 3:22 PM on February 29, 2016 [4 favorites]


    If we need another separate outlet, I registered the domain METALIFTER.COM some time ago and kept renewing it without doing anything with it, but it came up again last week and I went "nah"... it's currently in 'grace period' but I support anyone who chooses to grab it when it opens up.
    posted by oneswellfoop at 3:23 PM on February 29, 2016


    We do, but most of us don't post about it or don't have others posting about it. And that's exactly what makes it cliqueish.

    Yeah, I get that, and it does make sense (and my "twice a month" was per person, not across the site -- of course I know these things are happening much more frequently with a userbase this big), I guess part of it is I just like them. I think so many things are sad (I myself am sad almost all the time) that when something good happens, even to someone I know only tangentially, it makes me feel happy and like celebrating and I really enjoy that, and when something sad happens I want to be able to support people. I also recognize that I'm not at all neutral in this particular conversation and if it's making other people unhappy or uncomfortable or leaving people feeling left out I see how that's a problem and it's making the site worse, not better. I also, if the mods wouldn't mind, would always be thrilled to post people's happy (or sad) Big Deal news if they have it, and I think there are probably lots of other people who feel the same way? Anyway yeah, if these kinds of announcements are making people feel sad or left out I hadn't realized and I'm sorry.
    posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 3:25 PM on February 29, 2016 [5 favorites]


    I see MetaFilter as already being a community

    I see MetaFilter as a "community" mainly in the most minimal, folkloristic/anthropological sense - a group of people who have a relatively frequent degree of interpersonal interchange and who share a resource in common (space, food, etc). There are others who think of "community" as a feeling or intentional state of commonality, or sharing, or warmth, or general mutual approval, or mutual support. "Community" is such a hard word to define that you will find different definitions of it across disciplines and entire theoretical papers about what the word really denotes. Unless we carefully define terms, "community" doesn't mean the same thing to everyone.

    It seems kind of terrible of me to be saying "let's not be a community!" (in that second sense), but I do think big moves in that direction would fundamentally change the nature of MeFi. I just can't sign onto that as a characterization of MeFi. I prefer it as a bit more of an anonymous place focused on content - projects, ideas, interesting links, websites, questions - not as a place focused on personas and their relationships. I also think that the higher the expectation of mutual approbation and support, the less tolerance there will be for the productive tensions and respectful contention that make the site so intellectually valuable. So I'd like to urge: let's have a genuine commitment to discussion and exchange that is lively and respectful( but not always free of disagreement or criticism), and let's enjoy the fact that occasionally we learn interesting things about others and even form affiliations and deeper friendships with some of them over time, but let's not move MetaFilter toward centering on that sort of function.
    posted by Miko at 3:28 PM on February 29, 2016 [22 favorites]


    The only new subsite we need is a recipes subsite.

    [pick a reason to flag this recipe:

    scrumptious
    deadly poison
    You have called this chili but it is not chili].
    posted by dng at 3:29 PM on February 29, 2016 [38 favorites]


    As usual, I find Miko persuasive, particularly where she worries that the higher the expectation of mutual approbation and support, the less tolerance there will be for the productive tensions and respectful contention that make the site so intellectually valuable. Obviously if the membership thinks my idea will make the site weaker or exclusionary in some way, that's bad.

    To be clear, I'm not talking about shifting MetaFilter towards a personal support focus, much less centering it on that function. This is much closer to "Projects" or "Music."

    IMHO the threads that are damaging are the ones where people single out members for praise while everyone else feels bad that their contributions merited no mention. To me, Night owl's idea about the regular thread for news seems like a very low-impact way of accomplishing the information-sharing function a la the gratitude thread I referenced above. What do you think of that idea?
    posted by carmicha at 3:45 PM on February 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


    Only if it's called "FriendMe."
    posted by octobersurprise at 3:49 PM on February 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


    Not Contactster?
    posted by aubilenon at 3:56 PM on February 29, 2016


    [pick a reason to flag this recipe:

    scrumptious
    deadly poison
    You have called this chili but it is not chili].


    [can I eat this?
    I can eat this]
    posted by Going To Maine at 4:05 PM on February 29, 2016 [9 favorites]


    I'm in the "no I don't want this" group. I already see metafilter as cliqueish, which annoys and frustrates me a lot, and I think something like this would just make it worse. I agree with Miko - I would prefer the site continue to focus on content instead of people and their relationships. And personally, I dislike those "look I had a baby!" kinds of posts. It just seems like it's okay for certain people do that, and others not so much, and it also leads to feelings of competitiveness and other bad things like we already have on social media sites like facebook. I left facebook because I was tired of all the comparisons and cliqueishness and I'd rather this site not turn into that as well.
    posted by FireFountain at 4:37 PM on February 29, 2016 [12 favorites]


    Nthing all the people who say the already existing MetaChat serves the social/chat role the OP is asking for.

    And I'm a bit taken aback by those who claim the MeFi community is cliqueish and has cool kids. I've been a MeFite since 2002 and I don't see it.
    posted by orange swan at 4:44 PM on February 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


    everyone else feels bad that their contributions merited no mention

    Trust me. You don't speak for everyone.

    I'll note here that I'm a very private individual from the UK so maybe I'm misunderstanding or overlooking something cultural. But the need for people to share intimate details of their life in the hope that they will be validated (by strangers no less) is baffling to me. Outside of your family or your immediate friends why anyone on Mefi would find you losing 20lbs interesting is so outside of my world experience I've been struggling to write this paragraph for 20 minutes.
    posted by urbanwhaleshark at 4:45 PM on February 29, 2016 [17 favorites]


    Would it be too crazy to propose a monthly thread here on MeTa that's a big "what's going on in my life" thread with attendant responses? I would read the heck out of one of those.

    This seems like a great idea to me. Flooding MetaTalk with individual life update threads seems like it would overwhelm everything else on the grey--and it would skew toward those users who feel comfortable dedicating an entire thread to their own news, which I'd bet is a small fraction of users. However, I'm also wary of creating a Metafriendster subsite, lest Metafilter just collapse under its own weight.

    But. But. BUT. I love the idea of checking in every now and then & voluntarily sharing what's new, for all the reasons Mrs. Pterodactyl outlines! I love it! And I think Night_owl's idea makes perfect sense, with the caveat that I don't think it needs to happen like clockwork every month; "every now and then" would work just as well.

    Bonus: if the mods are ok with the idea of doing this, there's no extra work needed, beyond someone opening a life update thread.
    posted by duffell at 4:53 PM on February 29, 2016 [9 favorites]


    Isn't this already how it's working? On a semi-regular basis it seems like friendly, chatty MeTa threads show up and people gab about this and that.
    posted by MoonOrb at 4:59 PM on February 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


    I am fond of MetaChat. It's laid back and friendly and easy to feel free to post whatever is up or any tidbit that's interesting, with less formality than the blue.

    It's the only place on the Internet where I feel like I actually belong since the place is so welcoming. Plus, there's a lot of emotional support and hugs if you need them, or kudos if you have a nifty happening.

    I believe it functions pretty much as carmicha is envisioning.
    posted by mightshould at 5:01 PM on February 29, 2016 [3 favorites]


    I agree with Miko. There's already a place for this kind of thing, and just because it's offsite doesn't make it any less useful. Encourage people who want more sociability with their MetaFilter to go to MetaChat (or any of the variations).

    As for baby announcements/weddings, I think they're only worth MeTa when it's two MeFites spawning/marrying - children or unions that would not have happened without the website. Because then they become like a byproduct of the site. Which I'm sure is an endearing way to think of your spouse or child, as MetaFilter ByProduct, or the hot dogs of the internet.
    posted by gadge emeritus at 5:33 PM on February 29, 2016 [8 favorites]


    More like superhero origin story, amirite?
    posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 5:34 PM on February 29, 2016 [5 favorites]


    Isn't this already how it's working? On a semi-regular basis it seems like friendly, chatty MeTa threads show up and people gab about this and that.

    I am definitely on board with the already-sorta-status-quo concept of semi-regular friendly, chatty MeTa threads, yeah. This place has often had a reputation, semi-deserved, for being the scary and rancorous part of the site, but there's always been a fun, just-bullshitting friendly aspect to it that shows up in one form or another that I've always valued a lot. So if folks take from this discussion the idea that having slightly more of those would be okay, including just a straight up How You Doin' thread now and then for its own sake, that seems like a nice outcome everything else aside.
    posted by cortex (staff) at 5:43 PM on February 29, 2016 [3 favorites]


    And I’m a bit taken aback by those who claim the MeFi community is cliqueish and has cool kids. I've been a MeFite since 2002 and I don't see it.

    “Cliquishness”, I think, can be difficult to disambiguate from the fact that some users know each other more or less based on histories of shared interactions, both on-site and in-person. (There are a lot of Mefites in big cities.) Real cliquishness would be people getting brushed off, forced out, or snubbed, and I don’t think that’s happening. But since the site generally purges most open conflicts (a good thing), it can be hard to tell. And even then, I don’t really think that a sincere disagreement is the same thing as cliquishness.
    posted by Going To Maine at 5:51 PM on February 29, 2016 [5 favorites]


    Because then they become like a byproduct of the site.

    Have any babies paid the $5?
    posted by Going To Maine at 5:51 PM on February 29, 2016 [3 favorites]


    I feel like when Mefites spawn, they should be able to request a free account for their MiniMeFite, to be locked until such time as the child is no longer covered by COPPA. If they wait until they're actually okay to join the site, they'll end up with some lame user number.
    posted by jacquilynne at 5:54 PM on February 29, 2016 [8 favorites]


    Just piling on to the "Metachat serves this purpose" comments. While it has quieted down significantly over the last few years, it's still chugging along.
    posted by amro at 6:31 PM on February 29, 2016


    Have any babies paid the $5?

    Didn't Robobaby get an account?
    posted by Chocolate Pickle at 6:32 PM on February 29, 2016


    I think focus on MetaChat would be great. I think a monthly "share whats going on in your life that you want to share with the gray" would be interesting.

    I also think that because of the number of subsites we have now, it might be interesting/useful to think about how certain parts of the pie could be more integrated with each other?

    I'm still fuzzy on it, but from my perspective anyway, the Blue and the Green (and maybe Fanfare?) are Front-Channel metafilter (i.e. the bread and butter, the main point of contact, the "community of like-minded individuals"). IRL, MetaTalk, Projects, Music and Jobs are channels ABOUT MeFites and the MeFi community, to a greater or lesser extent. They are internally-generated channels, in the way that MetaFilter.com (links from the web) and AskMeFi (questions from peoples lives) are not.

    Might there be a way to connect these channels together somehow or at least make that distinction more clear? That might be a way to encourage "hey, metafilter isn't just a place where people pay five dollars to respond to content, we are also a place where people create things, meet up, and talk about the site"-ness.
    posted by softlord at 6:37 PM on February 29, 2016


    How about an area of MeFi which is just boiled down snark?

    You mean simulating living around crowds of bros and bro chicks who think their "sarcasm" is hilarious? Grown out of it, sorry. I know you were being facetious

    In all seriousness, I like the idea, and ALSO like the idea of it being off-site, like MetaChat. That way whatever drama happens there can happen there without the mods put in a bind of whether to feel responsible to moderate it, or to let whatever's there stand, but affect the site's look. All else fails, if it gets too cliquey, it could fork into another one just like it.

    That's not to say any of that bad stuff has happened at MetaChat. But it could.
    posted by ctmf at 6:59 PM on February 29, 2016


    Nope.
    posted by disclaimer at 7:17 PM on February 29, 2016


    MetaChat definitely is not a realm of either snark or drama. Try it, you'll like it! It is chatty and friendly and has regular features like a Friday question, a 3 point update, a photo Friday, and many bunny postings, among other things.

    It would be fun if there were a sidebar link here to MetaChat, but it actually doesn't need more than that.
    posted by bearwife at 7:21 PM on February 29, 2016


    But open gratitude posts or "Show us your desk" or "Pets of MeFi" or "Thing you learned from MeFi" are to me different than a "UserX had a life event" because the former are about MeFites and each instance of the latter is about a MeFite. I'm not sure why those seem so different to me but they do.

    I like those desk/pets/learnings threads, too--they feel like invitations to come and play.
    posted by MonkeyToes at 7:43 PM on February 29, 2016 [3 favorites]


    Commenting to register another "no" vote. Sure, a few more chatty MeTa threads would be fine, but I'd be really frustrated with any other changes to the site or its functionality that make it feel more like social media. As much as I value the relationships I've built through MeFi, I like that the actual site is only tangentially social and I would be unhappy to see that change.
    posted by capricorn at 8:12 PM on February 29, 2016 [3 favorites]


    I'll buck the trend and come out in favor of this. You could add an update functionality to profiles and then enable some sort of commenting feature. Folks could use it to post interesting links, pictures of ice sculptures or about their latest life event. It would be like a tiny Metafilter on every profile page. Some would suck, and some would be brilliant. It could be used for social networking or for posting funny photoshops. These MiniMeFi's would be just as funny and interesting as the users on the site wanted them to be.
    posted by euphorb at 8:21 PM on February 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


    I'm a definite "no" vote. I have enough crushing social anxiety on this site without it being a feature here.
    posted by teponaztli at 8:25 PM on February 29, 2016 [7 favorites]


    I actually thought "MeFightClub" was just a punny inside joke that would occasionally pop up in threads. What is it?

    We're a charitable organization whose members occasionally enjoy playing video games, too!
    posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:49 PM on February 29, 2016 [1 favorite]


    But the need for people to share intimate details of their life in the hope that they will be validated (by strangers no less) is baffling to me.

    And I am baffled by the notion that validation by strangers is what MeFites seek when they share information here, whether how things work now or via some new practice like Night owl's idea.

    But say I'm wrong. What's the matter with incidental validation, especially for someone who benefits from it? It's already true that MetaFilter provides a supportive environment when people choose to share more than their opinions, queries or advice. Consider Projects, where we have the equivalent of upvotes (aka recommendations to the blue) but not downvotes. When Quonsmas rolls around, nobody complains about their gifts. I don't think I've ever seen someone comment that a Music post sucks. If folks have nothing nice to say, they just stay out of it.

    If you find member news boring, don't read it. If your sense of privacy precludes sharing, then don't.
    posted by carmicha at 9:37 PM on February 29, 2016 [5 favorites]


    Around here, people who are having babies are expected to just casually work that in while answering questions on the green.
    posted by zachlipton at 9:46 PM on February 29, 2016 [4 favorites]


    My social media habit is out of hand already so I don't really have a stake in this, but just to chuck this out there: Chat is pretty deserted if you're not living in the US timezones. The closer you get to real-time the more it leaves out people who aren't awake during the "right" time of day.
    posted by gingerest at 10:51 PM on February 29, 2016 [2 favorites]


    Maybe MeFi could absorb MeCha and integrate it here somehow?

    Or a daily auto-generated chat thread here analogous to the "huddle" at SpoFi?
    posted by Rumple at 10:52 PM on February 29, 2016


    Hey everybody! HOW YOU DOIN'?
    posted by Joseph Gurl at 10:59 PM on February 29, 2016 [3 favorites]


    euphorb: You could add an update functionality to profiles and then enable some sort of commenting feature.

    ... I think you've just reinvented MySpace.
    posted by Too-Ticky at 12:06 AM on March 1, 2016 [5 favorites]


    I like the idea of a community action subsite, like IRL except sometimes not even in real life, just online organization and so on. And like projects, but community action projects intended to do something concrete. And like jobs, but community action openings for marchers, protesters, volunteers, and employees. When something is available near you, you get a message saying they need people to attend a political rally or clean up a park or work for Greenpeace or whatever. Not "I achieved this" but "Let's achieve this." Does this already exist here somewhere?
    posted by pracowity at 1:00 AM on March 1, 2016


    Does metachat have a gopher server yet? This is important.
    Um, sure. Yeah, pretty sure. Or maybe not. I think we did once but, when we got around to investigating that smell in the basement, well, you know how this goes ...
    posted by dg at 1:06 AM on March 1, 2016 [1 favorite]


    I'm quite in favour of a self.metafilter.com subsite, not so much to "help us get to know each other better in a day-to-day way" (which can be both interesting but also slightly scary), but to add content to the site that does not fit elsewhere due to the current rules. For instance, there's a person on Reddit who posts fascinating accounts of her holidays in her native village in the Solomon Islands. This would be forbidden on MeFi because SELF-LINK!!!!! but it's 1) great, high quality content and 2) users can interact and discuss with the poster, which does foster community. It would be beneficial for Mefi (both to the community and to the value/traffic of the site) to have an area dedicated to self-expression where people could share and get feedback more freely than by posting comments.
    posted by elgilito at 3:14 AM on March 1, 2016 [2 favorites]


    These days, I get most of this MeFi related socializing done via Facebook, Instagram, and Crone Island.
    posted by ocherdraco at 3:54 AM on March 1, 2016 [1 favorite]


    elgilito: For instance, there's a person on Reddit who posts fascinating accounts of her holidays in her native village in the Solomon Islands. This would be forbidden on MeFi because SELF-LINK!!!!!

    I think that this could possibly fall under professional or hobby achievements with a web presence, and thus be a good fit for Projects.
    posted by Too-Ticky at 4:00 AM on March 1, 2016 [3 favorites]


    Furthermore I second the notion that MetaFilter does not need to be all things to all people.
    posted by Too-Ticky at 4:04 AM on March 1, 2016 [6 favorites]


    1. I like the idea of regular but not overly frequent meta threads for people to note their major life updates. Every quarter maybe?

    2. If there does become some kind of way to post or tweet or whatever about your new baby or job, I'd like that to be linked to the already existing Contacts feature. I am already interested in what those people have to say, so I'd be fine with seeing their life updates, but I'm a lot less interested in an uncurated flood.

    3. As a related issue, the one thing I really miss on the mobile view is the lack of the contacts sidebar. There is something nice and even community-ish about seeing that someone made a post or an answer with lots of favorites. Maybe make the contacts activity a link under the user menu along with recent activity and so on? As we consider new features it would be great to also buttress the existing community-centric features that already exist.
    posted by Dip Flash at 5:50 AM on March 1, 2016


    I don't really have strong feelings about this either way but would like to push back against the idea that Metafilter is cliquish. Folks form friendships while hanging out together for a decade or more; that doesn't mean anyone is being purposefully excluded or that the site is reticent to allow in new members.
    posted by shakespeherian at 6:37 AM on March 1, 2016 [6 favorites]


    Folks form friendships while hanging out together for a decade or more; that doesn't mean anyone is being purposefully excluded or that the site is reticent to allow in new members.

    I think people tend to take the word "cliquish" as being a very personal insult. But the defining factor isn't usually purposeful exclusion--it's a lack of purposeful inclusion. I mean, the meetups thing means that there's an element of "hanging out" that is very region-specific to areas that have a lot of MeFites, and online some people have clearly bonded more than others. It's not a personal failing on the parts of the people who've found friends here, but the "community" that's here is not particularly ready to bring in people who arrived yesterday to those who've been "hanging out together for a decade or more".

    Metafilter itself isn't particularly friendly to people trying to make social connections, right now; the exceptions seem to do a pretty good job of proving the rule. Metafilter doesn't NEED to be everything to everybody, but there are precious few places on the web now that are good for making new friends. It would be nice if there were some better ways here to actually get to know people and socialize. My experiences in MetaChat weren't great, and I felt like part of that had to do with the lack of the sort of moderation that exists on the Blue and Green. (Though I will say this wasn't recent.) The flip side of adding more social engagement is that it'd require more time and effort from the mods. It'd be nice, but I understand that it's not a simple thing to make happen.
    posted by Sequence at 6:52 AM on March 1, 2016 [5 favorites]


    It certainly does feel cliquish sometimes, especially here in MeTa, with the "MeFite has baby!" and "Who's your favoritest MeFite?" posts. Exclusion isn't just the cool kids not letting you into their party -- sometimes it's the cool kids not inviting you to their party, not because they're dicks, but because they thought their party was just them hanging out and don't realize what it looks like to people they don't hang out with.
    posted by Etrigan at 6:53 AM on March 1, 2016 [34 favorites]


    > Metafilter itself isn't particularly friendly to people trying to make social connections, right now

    That's what meetups are for! I've found meetups consistently welcoming to everybody, new or not. (Of course, this doesn't work for people living far from other MeFites, but nothing works for everybody.)

    > Would it be too crazy to propose a monthly thread here on MeTa that's a big "what's going on in my life" thread with attendant responses? I would read the heck out of one of those.

    I think this is a great idea—no mod action or site changes required, just a desire to touch base. (I think the original request for a new subsite has been shot down, but just in case: I'm agin it.)
    posted by languagehat at 7:11 AM on March 1, 2016 [4 favorites]


    I really can't countenance any comment which takes the 'cool kids' construction seriously.
    posted by shakespeherian at 7:11 AM on March 1, 2016 [1 favorite]


    Nicely said Etrigan. I don't find MeFi to be exclusionary at all, but I do see certain aspects as super-inclusionary for certain members. It's an important distinction because if it moved over to exclusionary or othering I'd be done. The only time it starts to feel that way at all to me is when the "metafilter opinion on" a thing or "This is what Metafilter thinks about" is mentioned. I often am not of the same opinions as the MeFi Consensus (if there were such a thing) and that can make me feel a little weird. Generally though I really like this place and don't feel unwelcome at all, but that's not what I meant by cliquey.
    posted by Clinging to the Wreckage at 7:11 AM on March 1, 2016 [3 favorites]


    I really can't countenance any comment which takes the 'cool kids' construction seriously.

    Dismissing the substance of a comment based on a single turn of phrase is also a thing that happens way too often on MetaFilter.
    posted by Etrigan at 7:25 AM on March 1, 2016 [15 favorites]


    I really can't countenance any comment which takes the ‘cool kids’ construction seriously.

    Know thyself. Or, more seriously, know that perception is highly subjective. (10 years of membership, 200 contacts, and almost 68K favorites might not be truly meaningful, but to the casual observer it rightly or wrongly provides an impression.)
    posted by Going To Maine at 7:25 AM on March 1, 2016 [5 favorites]


    I really can't countenance any comment which takes the 'cool kids' construction seriously.

    This is sort of part of the problem, maybe? Even if MeFi doesn't feel this way to you, it sure feels this way to a whole lot of people here, and casually dismissive comments like this might tend to reinforce that perception.
    posted by MoonOrb at 7:28 AM on March 1, 2016 [24 favorites]


    I really can't countenance any comment which takes the 'cool kids' construction seriously.

    That's because you are one, though.
    posted by chonus at 7:35 AM on March 1, 2016 [6 favorites]


    I really can't countenance any comment which takes the 'cool kids' construction seriously.

    That thing I said about not feeling excluded here? Nevermind.
    posted by Clinging to the Wreckage at 7:36 AM on March 1, 2016 [11 favorites]


    I don't like the idea. It just seems to "not be MetaFilter" to me. I don't think we need a MetaFace when there are so many other social media sites out there. I'm also just about as open with my personal life on MetaFilter as I feel comfortable being, so a sub site designed to make me share more is not terribly appealing.

    I think a "what's been going on with you" MeTa once every 2-3 months would be a good compromise.
    posted by GenjiandProust at 7:38 AM on March 1, 2016 [8 favorites]


    Exclusion isn't just the cool kids not letting you into their party -- sometimes it's the cool kids not inviting you to their party

    What is the party in this scenario?
    posted by shakespeherian at 7:38 AM on March 1, 2016


    And I am baffled by the notion that validation by strangers is what MeFites seek when they share information here

    No. I'm saying that if you have a subsite/talk thread devoted to these announcements that's exactly what you want. If people share things in the context of a post or topic that's different. IMO obviously.

    If you find member news boring, don't read it.

    I think you're completely overestimating the interest that internet strangers have in your life.

    Announcements have no business being on Metafilter except on rare occasions. Metafiter isn't Reddit. Metafiter isn't Twitter or Facebook.
    posted by urbanwhaleshark at 7:39 AM on March 1, 2016 [5 favorites]


    I really can't countenance any comment which takes the 'cool kids' construction seriously.

    I don't even know what it would mean to be a "cool kid" in the context of a text-based internet forum. You get lots of favorites? Validation? People respond positively to your comments?

    Anyway, I have no objection in theory to making metafilter more facebook-like, tho I'd be unlikely to use it that way myself. But that particular quarrel right there—over who is or isn't a "cool kid"—is one I expect to see a lot of if it happens.
    posted by octobersurprise at 7:44 AM on March 1, 2016 [1 favorite]


    I wish all the people who are upset about favourites would just turn off favourites visibility instead of continuously exposing themselves to something that clearly makes them feel bad about this website and their participation here.
    posted by poffin boffin at 7:59 AM on March 1, 2016 [10 favorites]


    Things I can currently do to help foster community:

    1. Make posts.
    2. Say thank you, and give specific feedback about others' terrific links.
    3. Reach out over MeMail to say something supportive (although, argh, scary and fraught, but you know? Opening a kind MeMail has often made my day. I hope it works like that for you.).
    4. Drop relevant links into a thread as a way of saying "This is good conversation, more please, thank you!"
    5. Point out awesome comments/posts MeFites have made, whether I do it in a thread or in a note to the mods.
    6. Go to meet-ups, and meet interesting MeFites!
    7. Promote posts from Projects/Music.
    8. Participate in exchanges (this is theoretical, as I am *terrible* about getting to the Post Office).
    9. Tell stories.
    10. Be kind.
    posted by MonkeyToes at 8:03 AM on March 1, 2016 [47 favorites]


    Monkeytoes, that may be the single most useful and awesome comment anyone has ever posted. And that includes the "how to dispose of a body" thing.
    posted by bondcliff at 8:07 AM on March 1, 2016 [3 favorites]


    Exclusion isn't just the cool kids not letting you into their party -- sometimes it's the cool kids not inviting you to their party

    What is the party in this scenario?


    "especially here in MeTa, with the 'MeFite has baby!' and 'Who's your favoritest MeFite?' posts."

    You apparently don't realize that these things can seem cliquish to people who don't hang out with other MeFites (in the first case) or who read favoritest-MeFite posts like this one and see a bunch of the same people applauded over and over again.

    Cliques aren't just The Heathers setting themselves up explicitly as the cool kids and enforcing barriers to hanging out with them. A lot of things that look an awful lot like cliques from the outside evolve organically, and no one on the inside even realizes that it's happened. People are telling you in this thread that MetaFilter has aspects that seem kinda cliquish to them, and the way to deal with that isn't to insist that no, it's not really like that because their analogies are bad.
    posted by Etrigan at 8:09 AM on March 1, 2016 [25 favorites]


    I wish all the people who are upset about favourites would just turn off favourites visibility instead of continuously exposing themselves to something that clearly makes them feel bad about this website and their participation here.

    I wish that people who complained about the “cool kids” notion weren’t automatically assumed to just be complaining about having to see counts of favorites.

    (I mean, goodness! People look at favorites as indicators of liking things because lord knows that the majority of the time they are. They are surely one part of the “cool kids” gestalt, but it’s not like they are the only component. Any community worth its salt has popular and noticeable folks and less notable folks. That’s the way the world works and it grates at times. MonkeyToes is quite right, and the worst part about it is that those actions, as good as they are, might lead to people thinking that you’re one of the cool kids.)
    posted by Going To Maine at 8:10 AM on March 1, 2016 [9 favorites]


    I guess I don't understand what has prevented anyone from having their baby or other life event's being posted in MetaTalk. I had a baby three years ago and another Mefite posted about it -- a Mefite whom I only know through this site, whom I have never met in real life, and who (as far as I can tell) made the post because we have developed a friendship over several years of site interaction. I don't think it was because I have attained some sort of notability status, although I guess I could be wrong about that. It was because we consider ourselves to be friends because of this site. If that makes me a 'cool kid' then I'm not sure what the alternative is other than pretending we don't remember one another or form relationships.
    posted by shakespeherian at 8:14 AM on March 1, 2016 [1 favorite]


    You apparently don't realize that these things can seem cliquish to people who don't hang out with other MeFites (in the first case) or who read favoritest-MeFite posts like this one and see a bunch of the same people applauded over and over again.

    I find that the so called "cool kids" who get mentioned in those "what are your favorite comments?" threads are mentioned because they make awesome comments, not because they're the captain of the football team. This is not high school, most of the people here who get called out as "cool kids" earned it through their participation.

    One of the great things about Metifilter is that we're all on an equal playing field. There's nothing keeping any of us from making an epic post that may one day get called out in a MeTa.
    posted by bondcliff at 8:18 AM on March 1, 2016 [7 favorites]


    I wish that people who complained about the “cool kids” notion weren’t automatically assumed to just be complaining about having to see counts of favorites.

    I am specifically referring to people who have mentioned favourites as a point of exclusionary feeling, in this thread and in previous similar discussions.
    posted by poffin boffin at 8:24 AM on March 1, 2016 [2 favorites]


    This is not high school, most of the people here who get called out as "cool kids" earned it through their participation.

    To disagree: life is high school. The captain of the football team got to be the captain because he was good at football, not because everyone thought he was the greatest. People might have thought he was the greatest afterward, or because they are particularly interested in football, but life works like that too.

    It was because we consider ourselves to be friends because of this site. If that makes me a ‘cool kid’ then I'm not sure what the alternative is other than pretending we don't remember one another or form relationships.

    I think the alternative is just to acknowledge that yes, people can feel this way, and it kind of sucks even if there’s not much to be done. Be open.
    posted by Going To Maine at 8:27 AM on March 1, 2016 [5 favorites]


    I find that the so called "cool kids" who get mentioned in those "what are your favorite comments?" threads are mentioned because they make awesome comments, not because they're the captain of the football team. This is not high school, most of the people here who get called out as "cool kids" earned it through their participation.

    The idea that "cool kids" have earned their popularity is pretty universal to cliques, yes. For instance, the captain of the football team has earned that distinction. The homecoming queen earned that distinction. People who get cited a lot in Favorite MeFite threads earn that distinction. None of that really makes the people who haven't earned that distinction feel better about how cliquish this site (particularly MeTa) can feel sometimes.
    posted by Etrigan at 8:29 AM on March 1, 2016 [17 favorites]


    I think there's another way that there can be a feeling of cliquishness here: it's when someone gets a nod from a mod.

    Nod. From a Mod.
    posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 8:31 AM on March 1, 2016 [3 favorites]


    Nmod
    posted by MCMikeNamara at 8:32 AM on March 1, 2016 [1 favorite]


    "Metafilter doesn’t have to be the solution to every problem."

    Interestingly enough, MetaChat is the solution to every problem. But people have forsaken it for social media. I mean, isn't "static open web forum" retro by now? Get back in the MeCha before it's cool! Beat the hipster rush!
    posted by Eideteker at 8:34 AM on March 1, 2016 [2 favorites]


    (So, to get more serious: the people asked to be a guest on MetaFilter podcasts creates a sort of implicit 'nod'. Another example is: community members being selected to test-run a new, experimental function of the site.)
    posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 8:35 AM on March 1, 2016 [4 favorites]


    the worst part about it is that those actions, as good as they are, might lead to people thinking that you’re one of the cool kids.

    Heavens, it's all so confusing. I'm through being cool.
    posted by octobersurprise at 8:35 AM on March 1, 2016 [1 favorite]


    I had a baby three years ago and another Mefite posted about it -- a Mefite whom I only know through this site, whom I have never met in real life, and who (as far as I can tell) made the post because we have developed a friendship over several years of site interaction.

    Which is all cool and okay! But also: it was someone who was confident you'd be okay with that. And someone who was confident folks in general would be receptive of it. And someone who felt confident making that kind of announcement post in the first place. All of which isn't nothing, in terms of thinking about how any given person perceives their relationship with the site, of whether people really know who they are at all vs. being a quiet lurker or under-the-radar participant.

    And, again, none of that is bad—it's cool that we variously get to know each other on the site, through shared participation and meetups and all the little ways that being in the same thread at some point can blossom into some sort of start of a friendship or familiarity. I really like that about MetaFilter.

    But it is something that varies a great deal from person to person, and some basic realities of the distribution of activity and attention that happens in a large social place like this—the fact that a small number of people tend to account for a large chunk of activity/attention with a much larger group accounting for the remainder in increasingly smaller individual shares—helps explain why it's possible that any two people, otherwise both friendly and socially capable and interested in MetaFilter-as-a-website, can have very different perceptions of how social or inclusive or group/clique-driven a place it is, because they end up operating by whatever mix of circumstance and preference in different ways relative to that site-centric social behavior.

    I think the "clique" and "cool kid" stuff is very hard to sort out because it is significantly something that's driven by personal perception, and tied by analogy to other pre- and extra-MetaFilter social experiences that vary a lot from person to person. I think it's both an actual thing insofar as there are definitely legit differences from user to user in how they perceive the social nature and inclusiveness of the site, and not really so much an objectively definable, "this is its true form" thing insofar as what we're talking about is not actual baked-in structures of the site so much as ad hoc perceptive personal experiences of a social space. So it's tricky as fuck, and both the folks who feel like the cool kids thing is balk-worthy and the folks who feel like there's cliqueish social phenomena that can be at least passively exclusive are coming from legitimate experiential places.

    Ultimately I don't think the cool kids/clique stuff is resolvable or that it makes a great locus of discussion for what MeFi is or should be doing or so on, because it's such a debateable and subjective snare of personal perspectives, but it is something I think about a fair bit. And I like MonkeyToes' practical ideas as a better way to improve social togetherness on the site than an argument about the whether and why and who and etc of The Cool Kids from either direction. I'd much rather people think about positive ways to take action on feeling more included (if they want to be!) or being more inclusive than argue about whether it's even a thing.
    posted by cortex (staff) at 8:36 AM on March 1, 2016 [8 favorites]


    I'm saying that if you have a subsite/talk thread devoted to these announcements [validation by strangers is] exactly what you want. No. What I want is for other MeFites and I to be better acquainted. Personally, I don't care if they validate me or not.

    If people share things in the context of a post or topic that's different. IMO obviously. So are you ok with occasional update threads in the grey that are specifically for this purpose, as has been a recurring suggestion in this thread?

    I think you're completely overestimating the interest that internet strangers have in your life. Maybe. But the huzzahs, condolences and encouragement that members receive upon sharing life matters, not to mention the favorites that good stories set in either the past or present receive, say otherwise.

    Announcements have no business being on Metafilter except on rare occasions. As you put it earlier, " Trust me. You don't speak for everyone."
    posted by carmicha at 8:39 AM on March 1, 2016 [2 favorites]


    I think most of the cool kids on this site are genuinely cool, but regardless, they still have a lot of gravity that tends to make a lot of threads about them. This is fine if you like those guys, but as someone who sometimes is not into Hamilton or whatever is huge at the moment, it can make you feel excluded.

    Using Greg Nog as an example because I clearly think he's a good guy and pretty robust to boot: What if you didn't think Greg Nog was funny? What if people thought you had a broken sense of humor because you thought there's nothing funny about abstaining from raw chicken globlets? Well, it is, in fact, going to feel like you are not in a club that everyone else is in.

    You can say something similar about people that regularly go to meetups. There these guys are in a thread that pertains to a local geographic region, and they're all up in there inside-joking it up and winking at each other. It is like being around three or more people that went to MIT, all talking about building numbers, referring to wacky professors, and using odd language constructions. And you, with the social anxiety, you can't or don't want to go these things.

    Now, these people are generally very welcoming and friendly, but that doesn't mean this dynamic doesn't exist.

    Similarly, I don't think there is anything wrong with MetaTalk threads about significant life events of popular figures or for people to be friends. However, I think it's fair to acknowledge that by fate or nature, some people might feel excluded and give those people a break. If you do have friends from the site and might be thought of as a "cool kid," that actually means you're in a really good situation! You don't have to defend yourself that hard.
    posted by ignignokt at 8:44 AM on March 1, 2016 [21 favorites]


    (OK, I don't actually feel excluded by Hamilton. I just didn't want to use a dated reference like "alternative music.")
    posted by ignignokt at 8:45 AM on March 1, 2016 [2 favorites]


    Greg Nog? Doesn't ring a bell.
    posted by bondcliff at 8:46 AM on March 1, 2016 [3 favorites]


    I guess I don't understand what has prevented anyone from having their baby or other life event's being posted in MetaTalk. I had a baby three years ago and another Mefite posted about it -- a Mefite whom I only know through this site, whom I have never met in real life, and who (as far as I can tell) made the post because we have developed a friendship over several years of site interaction.

    It's great that you have that friend, but a lot of people don't for any number of reasons. You are saying that having the right kind of friend is why you got something that others didn't. Having that friend doesn't make you a bad person, it makes you a social critter. Others being slightly jealous that other people are higher on the social ladder than them doesn't make people bad people, it makes them social critters.

    I'm not really arguing against baby posts. I'm really just trying to get people to see that it can function to increase the appearance of there being an out-group, and that those people who feel excluded aren't just pulling it out of thin air. Of course all the social dynamics (good and bad) that happen when people interact happen here, we're people interacting.

    (Really having to fight off my parent based instinct of bringing up the relevant Berenstain Bears book)
    posted by Gygesringtone at 8:52 AM on March 1, 2016 [11 favorites]


    So here's what I'm reading as a consensus emerging from this thread so far:
  • No to another subsite, but some interest in members being able to use their profile area and contacts differently;
  • Recommendation that people explore MetaChat (and/or the more content-specific MeFightClub and/or the Crone Island group) to scratch the "getting to know you/me" itch. Some interest in a formal link to MetaChat somewhere here to help members find it.
  • Some endorsement of--or at least acquiescence to--the idea of periodic "What's Up with You" posts on the grey.

  • Do I have that right?
    posted by carmicha at 8:59 AM on March 1, 2016 [1 favorite]


    I tend to be a fan of the occasional friendly chitchat MetaTalk posts, which manage - to me - to keep this feeling fun rather than obligatory. (Not knocking the suggestion of more embedded social stuff, I get why the thought is appealing for totally nice lovely reasons, I just personally prefer a different way to scratch that itch.)
    posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 9:01 AM on March 1, 2016 [1 favorite]


    So, to get more serious: the people asked to be a guest on MetaFilter podcasts creates a sort of implicit 'nod'.

    Thanks for bringing this up--I've very much felt the same way about it.
    posted by MoonOrb at 9:04 AM on March 1, 2016 [7 favorites]


    I tend to be a fan of the occasional friendly chitchat MetaTalk posts, which manage - to me - to keep this feeling fun rather than obligatory.

    I quite like the "show us your desks!" posts! And that "what is a niche interest you have that other people don't know about?" and the way that tattoo MeTa turned into pics of tattoos, and the way that male selfie FPP turned into a bunch of dudes posting selfies, and the way pet threads often lead to pics of pets. I love those threads!
    posted by Greg Nog at 9:06 AM on March 1, 2016 [1 favorite]


    Thanks for bringing this up--I've very much felt the same way about it.

    I guess I can understand that, but would you prefer the alternative, having no guests on the podcasts? Because short of a lottery there's really no other way to do it.

    For the record, I really enjoy having guests on the podcasts.
    posted by bondcliff at 9:07 AM on March 1, 2016 [2 favorites]


    Really nicely put, Gygesringtone: I'm not really arguing against baby posts. I'm really just trying to get people to see that it can function to increase the appearance of there being an out-group, and that those people who feel excluded aren't just pulling it out of thin air. Of course all the social dynamics (good and bad) that happen when people interact happen here, we're people interacting.

    posted by crush-onastick at 9:09 AM on March 1, 2016 [1 favorite]


    I guess a big part of the problem is that there's a tension here; there are people (and this includes me) who think "I've made friends here! I feel like part of a community as a member of this website!" and then there are people who feel like "Wow, a lot of people around here seem to know each other and have a connection that I don't, and it makes me feel like I'm not really a part of the website" and it's tricky because these are both 100% valid feelings. It looks like also people are feeling frustrated because members of group A are saying "you really can be a part of this community if you want" (which I hope is true!) and members of group B are saying "I really don't feel that way and the fact that you think I can when I feel like I can't is part of the problem." Again, this is all reasonable, which is what makes it so challenging!

    I think it's great to share major events with the community and that if we stop doing that something of value will be lost, but it's also true that if that is hurting people or making them feel left out or isolated then that's a real problem. To me, it seems like the answer is "when there are really major life events to be celebrated/acknowledged, e.g. births, transitions, marriages, deaths, whatever, it's great to have a MeTa about it because I think the response is generally really positive/supportive even if the person or people involved aren't well known." I am pretty happy with this with the understanding that it'd be great if more people felt comfortable posting or asking someone to post these events for them, but I know this is far from a consensus. My preference is for trying to make this aspect of the site feel more inclusive rather than ending it.
    posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 9:09 AM on March 1, 2016 [3 favorites]


    @carmicha - crone island is for girls. hug life is the equivalent for boys. i believe. for appropriately qualified / expanded / inclusive values of "girls" and "boys".
    posted by andrewcooke at 9:11 AM on March 1, 2016 [1 favorite]


    I love MonkeyToes' list too. It's also a great list because it points up ways to form stronger relationships without necessarily posting and commenting a lot. I agree that the "cool kids" perception relies a lot on factors like frequency and volume of posting/commenting, and that is just not everyone's participation style. That doesn't mean that those people are not amazing and "cool," but since we are interacting via text, people who have those factors turned up to 11 (by virtue of their available time at a device, their general loquacity, whatever) end up being more visible than others and thus accruing, snowball-like, more of a "community" around themselves (in quotes because it might merely be the appearance of a community, not necessarily rock-solid friendships). It is an emergent property of site activity, and it is indeed enabled to a decent degree by features like profiles, MeMail, and favorites as well as the occasional exchange or charity project or desk thread. So countering the sense of exclusion, for people who for whatever reason are more lurkers or occasional commenters but love the site no less, might look like using existing site features other than commenting to interact in ways that enhance community. Some of my friendliest MeFi contacts have come from MeMail exchanges, for instance, not in-thread discussions - but somebody needs to be visible for an exchange to start. This is why the "first post challenge" was such a great idea.

    Even so, even given all that, some people are not inherently, or cannot be, for reasons of life structure, big sharers. And I want MeFi to feel welcome for them, too. I don't want them to feel like there's a warm conversation they just aren't in on or have to decline, and that as a result they are not really MeFites. I would like it if lurking and super-occasional commenting/posting are completely okay ways to take part in the site and consider oneself part of the community simply by virtue of being here. I would like it to be okay for people to love the site without having to feel like they are must rack up favorites and contacts, have lists of friends, participate in exchanges, go to meetups. I would like us to dignify the contributions and even presence of everyone even if they don't tell us they adopted a new dog or are trying something different with their hair. I think a certain amount of that makes sense but have always liked that here, that kind of thing is opt-in and in balance with a much more significant volume of open exchange.
    posted by Miko at 9:12 AM on March 1, 2016 [7 favorites]


    This whole discussion is important if uncomfortable if we're talking about community.

    But to be honest, I just love being a part of a place where 'clique' and 'cool kid' are among the worst insult some of us can imagine receiving.

    xoxo Gossip Girl
    posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:13 AM on March 1, 2016 [5 favorites]


    I guess I can understand that, but would you prefer the alternative, having no guests on the podcasts?

    I'd prefer that the guests on the podcasts were not people who didn't already have high name recognition on the site. Because that is understandably not very likely, I'd prefer in the alternative that there were no guests, or if that's not workable either, that one or two people commit to doing the podcast as a regular gig.
    posted by MoonOrb at 9:14 AM on March 1, 2016 [3 favorites]


    I'd like to add an item 5b) to MonkeyToes's excellent list:

    5b) Let people know if you found a link interesting and worth the read by dropping a recommendation comment back in the thread.

    As a f'r'instance, I read the Wikipedia article from supercres' comment here, and thought it was fascinating, so I followed it up with my comment.

    I used to hesitate to do this, because it might come off as "Yes, I benito.strauss give this link my seal of approval" and who the hell am I and who cares. But I've found it useful when others do it, so here I am advocating.
    posted by benito.strauss at 9:15 AM on March 1, 2016 [5 favorites]


    So countering the sense of exclusion, for people who for whatever reason are more lurkers or occasional commenters but love the site no less, might look like using existing site features other than commenting to interact in ways that enhance community.

    SMALL REMINDER I WANT YOU ALL TO RECORD A MUSIC PLEASE
    posted by Greg Nog at 9:16 AM on March 1, 2016 [2 favorites]


    I guess I can understand that, but would you prefer the alternative, having no guests on the podcasts? Because short of a lottery there's really no other way to do it.

    Well, or you could ask people to memail the mods if they want to be guests and then have a lottery. Or have some kind of round robin contest to decide who should be on, or do one of a thousand other things that we have yet to imagine. This isn’t bowling. There aren’t rules.

    The podcast itself is unfortunately problematic for this, as has come up in other threads. It’s just supposed to be a list of things the hosts like, but by dint of being a bit of public acclaim for doing a good job, it can take on a lot of weight. Maybe we need a bunch more podcasts about favorites on MetaFilter, hosted by random mefites.
    posted by Going To Maine at 9:16 AM on March 1, 2016 [4 favorites]


    @carmicha - crone island is for girls. hug life is the equivalent for boys. i believe. for appropriately qualified / expanded / inclusive values of "girls" and "boys".

    Dang it now I want to say that MGTOW guys are practicing hug life and that is not the idea.
    posted by Going To Maine at 9:17 AM on March 1, 2016


    I love the podcast, and I'm generally okay with having the guests because there are a lot of interesting people here and it is fun to hear from them. I agree that a diversity of guests is a great goal. Perhaps one good step might be to open up the guest selection process a little? What about having a MeTa thread every now and then where we can nominate guests - or, if that's just exacerbating the problem, an 'open nomination' period where we can MeMail names of people who might make good guests by virtue of some very interesting aspect of their lives but might not immediately come to mind when you think "Top 20 Well-Known MeFites."
    posted by Miko at 9:20 AM on March 1, 2016 [3 favorites]


    Maybe we need a bunch more podcasts about favorites on MetaFilter, hosted by random mefites.

    Nothing stopping anyone, really. One thing I really enjoy is the Flagged as Fantastic Twitter account, run by a "random MeFite" who uses it to highlight comments. I've run across a lot of good comments and individuals I wouldn't have otherwise discovered that way. It's kind of a neat, sideways way of reading the site that does bring a different perspective because it's not top-down-y.
    posted by Miko at 9:21 AM on March 1, 2016


    the people asked to be a guest on MetaFilter podcasts creates a sort of implicit 'nod'.

    "Mod always liked you best."
    posted by octobersurprise at 9:22 AM on March 1, 2016 [3 favorites]


    Well, or you could ask people to memail the mods if they want to be guests and then have a lottery.

    I suppose, but part of the thing about doing a podcast is that you have to be good at doing (or being on) a podcast. Just wanting to be on one isn't enough.

    I like what you're saying though, and do think some other options beyond "a mod likes and knows this person" could be interesting and should certainly be explored by the mods and/or the community.

    Speaking of the podcast, listening to it has actually helped boost my sense of belonging here and has let me learn about the community more. I highly recommend everyone listen to it.
    posted by bondcliff at 9:22 AM on March 1, 2016


    There must be people who often have posts or comments flagged as fantastic or which end up in Best of; it would be very interesting to me if the mods could say, "Hey, this user has been flying under the radar but they sure know a lot about holograms, let's find out more."
    posted by Room 641-A at 9:24 AM on March 1, 2016 [5 favorites]


    That's interesting, as a perception of the podcast guest thing. From my perspective, it's kind of a tricky logistical thing at the foremost: I've wanted to have someone on who I know or Jess knows a little bit at least, not necessarily personally but via MetaFilter/internet, so that we have a decent guess at good rapport and them being comfortable being on the podcast, and folks who are likely to have a decent idea about the podcast whether or not they're regular listeners.

    And from there, with the full-show guest-hosty thing still being really new by our podcast practice standards, the most ready-to-hand pool of folks to poke with this combination invite/obligation are the folks that she or I know well enough to be comfortable putting them on the spot while it's still a pretty experimental thing, because we might end up fucking it up and I'd feel way less bad doing that with someone who I know will be able to shrug it off than someone for whom this'd be a comparatively weird/big deal.

    But there's also just a number challenge here: we've done six shows so far where we brought on a guest or a couple of guests, after many years of pretty consistently structuring it around Matt/Jess/Josh with occasional minor variations. We do a show a month, a dozen a year. There's ten thousand or so people on MetaFilter any given week. I could explicitly plan and announce ten years worth of episodes and still be necessarily excluding 99% of the active userbase.

    For me there's a lot of reasons the podcast is just one little part of the MetaFilter universe rather than something we take super seriously and treat like PR. And in this specific sense it was definitely easier in a lot of ways to just keep running with the Matt/Jess/Josh thing than it has been to mix up the format, as much as it's been both logistically necessary and a lot of fun to switch to doing Jess/Josh/Guest.

    Anyway, I don't see the guest-as-relatively-high-profile-member-by-circumstance thing as a necessary part of the process, just more, see above, a result of the other factors and pressures that come out of us experimenting with this new thing. I also like the idea of other sorts of community involvement angles on the podcast; we've done a couple of call-in type shoes before with a voicemail box that were fun, and it'd be great to play around with that again in various ways, though it tends to represent a lot more work to produce because of the extra moving parts.
    posted by cortex (staff) at 9:25 AM on March 1, 2016 [1 favorite]


    I don't mean that there's something seriously wrong with MetaChat, which it was brought to my attention is how that came out sounding in my previous comment. I meant more--the moderators are a big part of what make interacting here normally such a positive thing. MetaChat seemed like more of a free-for-all, at least at the time that I went looking at it, and if you prefer the tone here, figuring out that balance between a more open space but keeping it feeling like Metafilter would be a thing that'd fall on the mods who already have plenty to do, so I get why it might not be feasible.
    posted by Sequence at 9:26 AM on March 1, 2016


    we have a decent guess at good rapport and them being comfortable being on the podcast, and folks who are likely to have a decent idea about the podcast whether or not they're regular listeners.

    I think you might be locking yourself into some format choices you don't really have to. First, you and Jessamyn totally have it - you don't need a third host. Second, the role for MeFite guest doesn't have to be "guest host." With good interviewing skills, which you have, you can just have MeFites appear in interview segments where they are the subject - this is likely to result in much better audio than having a random person just "sit in," Johnny Carson style, reacting and making bons mots with you. I understand you might not think of the podcast as that big a part of crafting a perception of MetaFilter, but whether you listen or not, it definitely is, at least to those who read MetaTalk and see the new podcast post pop up. It is a creative work that you guys do in response to the entire site - how could your selection of what and whom to feature not be an implicit endorsement of interestingness? Anyway, back to the point, you could do a segment that's an interview on a topic of expertise, a funny story, etc. You could do panels of MeFite guests a few at a time. You could do point, counterpoint on some topic of debate, hopefully a light one, Judge John Hodgman style.There would be a lot of ways to work in alternative presentations of MeFites outside the "guest host" model. Saying that, I know that any elaboration of content and style on the podcast does take time, work and planning and that those are limited resources.

    keeping it feeling like Metafilter

    Right, and thanks for the nice response, sequence. I think you point out that one main thing to know about MetaChat is that it's not intended to feel like MetaFilter - it's not an extension, but meant to be a space with no formal association, a space that doesn't have MeFi's content restrictions on what you can post. It might be analogous to, like, the workplace example of the loading dock out back where people go to smoke and chat about not-about-work things. So it's only modded in such a way as to keep smoking craters from forming, not to keep content at a certain quality level or focused around a certain topic. It's much looser, which is good to know, and definitely some people enjoy that less than others.
    posted by Miko at 9:35 AM on March 1, 2016 [4 favorites]


    i enjoy the guests on the podcast and don't feel excluded from the process.
    posted by nadawi at 9:39 AM on March 1, 2016 [2 favorites]


    Ditto. I'm not a "cool kid" but don't feel excluded by other people being on the 'cast.

    Although I do kind of wish Matt would be back on, there was an interesting set of relationships between the three mods.
    posted by Chrysostom at 9:44 AM on March 1, 2016 [1 favorite]


    Just as an heads-up, we've now got an open friendly-updates MeTa.
    posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 9:46 AM on March 1, 2016


    What about having a MeTa thread every now and then where we can nominate guests - or, if that's just exacerbating the problem, an 'open nomination' period where we can MeMail names of people who might make good guests by virtue of some very interesting aspect of their lives but might not immediately come to mind when you think "Top 20 Well-Known MeFites."

    I think the nomination thread idea would be exacerbating the problem, yeah, and has the second disadvantage of putting thus-nominated folks on the spot if they aren't actually so hot on the idea.

    That said, it's totally fine for folks to drop us a line privately to say "hey, I think user x would make a great podcast guest because y / would be into the idea because of z" as something to add to the podcast idea list. That way its something I can follow up on in a way that doesn't put undue pressure on someone who might not for any number of reasons be into it.

    First, you and Jessamyn totally have it - you don't need a third host.

    I really love kibitzing with Jessamyn, and we are definitely capable of entertaining ourselves for a couple hours, for sure. But the two of us have been having MeFi podcast conversations for going on a decade now, and kind of know our conversational beats inside and out; having someone else in the mix is a nice way to have each episode not feel like a rehash. So I expect we'll end up doing some more duo eps when logistics fall together that way, but I'm not inclined to aim for that as The Format so much as a now-and-then change of pace.

    Second, the role for MeFite guest doesn't have to be "guest host."

    Totally true, and we've chattered a bit about mixing things up on that front. That said, I also think it's easy to underestimate the logistical costs of doing more complicated setpieces on the show; the podcast is something I schedule and record and edit and annotate in the spare hours I can find outside of normal mefi moderation and biz stuff, and, as you note, adding in additional logistical and production complications there is a non-trivial implication of these ideas, compared to the current "get person on phone, make sure we've hit record, talk for 90 minutes, hang up" scheme.

    Which: it's not impossible the process of producing the podcast itself could change. But that's not a snap of the fingers, that's a bunch of work to plan and manage in its own right, outside of the actual per-episode production itself. So there's a real deep rabbit hole here.

    Although I do kind of wish Matt would be back on

    We will for sure get him back on at some point as a guest, yeah.
    posted by cortex (staff) at 10:00 AM on March 1, 2016 [1 favorite]


    I started listening to the podcast more because of the guests, and view Josh and Jess's selections as less a nod of approval than an insight into their personalities/preferences, which I like getting because I think they're neat people. So it's interesting to me that there's a sense of it creating a specific perception of the site, since that's very different from how I approach it.
    posted by EvaDestruction at 10:05 AM on March 1, 2016 [2 favorites]


    One thing I really enjoy is the Flagged as Fantastic Twitter account, run by a "random MeFite" who uses it to highlight comments.

    I actually really dislike that account. It feels like talking about people behind their backs, and I don't think most posters give permission for their comments to be publicized on twitter (although obviously it's not against the rules). After the privacy concerns that came up in PDFgate, it seems like kind of a bad idea to broadcast peoples' comments without permission.
    posted by dialetheia at 10:17 AM on March 1, 2016 [10 favorites]


    adding in additional logistical and production complications there is a non-trivial implication of these ideas, compared to the current "get person on phone, make sure we've hit record, talk for 90 minutes, hang up" scheme.

    Just a thought, I don't think it would hurt for it to be shorter, giving more time to produce. But I might be an outlier; I'm a heavy podcast consumer. 90+ minutes is a whole lot to produce, for sure.
    posted by Miko at 10:20 AM on March 1, 2016 [1 favorite]


    Run time isn't the only or really even primary factor of production, is part of the thing.

    That is: 90 minutes of three people talking, with minimal editing, requires e.g. 30 minutes of scheduling work, 5-10 minutes of pre-roll skype/recording setup, 90 minutes of actual show, 30-60 minutes of post-show editing to add in musical segues and trim dangling pre- and post-show chatter, and then another 60 minutes or so of annotation.

    Doing the same show at 45 minutes of runtime would cut 45 minutes off the "actual show" bit without substantially reducing the rest of the production time and effort. Doing the same show for three hours would add an hour and a half to the actual show time without substantially increasing the production time and effort.

    Doing a show that requires scheduling more people adds to the scheduling time and effort required, more than linearly, and/or means potential delays in getting the show out the door. Doing a show that requires significant editing of the actual segments, for time/content/continuity/polish, enormously increases the production time and effort required, even if the running time of the resulting episode is much shorter.

    This is, incidentally, why Out Of The Blue has been so frustratingly slow to get a new ep out; a 10-15 minute episode is easily ten times as much work, and far more complicated/demanding creatively to boot, to produce than a two hour Best Of The Web ep. I feel lousy that it has dragged out so long—I've got the raw material of an episode with iamkimiam ready for editing and have for a while but have just been too variously busy and distracted to do the heavy dose of post-interview crafting required to make it an ep—but it's been unlucky enough to be an idea that came up at the best possible time and then got stuck in the mud of much less ideal timing/circumstances a couple eps in. I'm continuing to look at how to best unstick it, as far as that goes, but the reality of that sort of thing being a factor is part of why I'm not leaping out of my chair to complicate the currently far, far simpler production process of the established Best Of The Web show, which, all else aside, gets done every month.
    posted by cortex (staff) at 10:33 AM on March 1, 2016 [2 favorites]


    Run time isn't the only or really even primary factor of production, is part of the thing.

    Assume I know about production from my 5 years in community radio. Very simply, the structure you have is minimally edited, but it is still a lot of file to run back and forth through. If you aimed for a tighter 60 minutes, with segments, you'd have more editing, but you would have 30+ minutes less to edit and add musical buttons to, so it's quite possible you could compromise on editing levels as compared to OOTB and have a net negative, though it would depend on how elaborate your production choices. I guess your present calculus is based on the fact that you don't edit much, and yes OOTB is a lot more edited and polished and I know that's where the time comes in. It's your podcast, but I generally find that editing makes things better even if they can't be as regular or as long. But even if you didn't go to segments, I do think the regular podcast would be better if more tightly timed and shorter.

    As I said - probably an outlier here. The podcast is not a critical issue, but I mainly wanted to say that your format and guesting choices are not written in stone, so they could be used in service of increasing the inclusivity of site culture.
    posted by Miko at 10:39 AM on March 1, 2016 [2 favorites]


    Bringing up Out of the Blue makes me realize that featuring a member on OOTB doesn't give me in any way the same somewhat uncomfortable vibe I feel with the podcast guest-hosting. The guest-hosting feels more like an implicit endorsement of a member's personality in a way that trips much more of that clubby type of feeling for me. I'm personally more enthusiastic about interviewing people as part of the podcast than I am about having them guest-host it. Both OOTB and doing an interview come across more to me like "hey, here is this really interesting person/here is this person doing this really interesting thing, let's share this with you all!" and less like "so-and-so is a pretty cool person so we're gonna hang out with them for 90 minutes on the podcast" (which is how the podcasting guest host spot feels to me, even if it's also true that the people chosen are in fact pretty cool).

    This might totally be a distinction without a difference for lots of folks here, but it least is where I'm coming from on this.
    posted by MoonOrb at 10:40 AM on March 1, 2016 [5 favorites]


    Also just a thought - you might be able to outsource the annotation and linking for posting purposes to a volunteer.
    posted by Miko at 10:40 AM on March 1, 2016


    Yeah, dialetheia, I didn't even KNOW about that twitter account until today. Just one more thing I feel out of the loop on. If I wanted to be on Twitter, I would have a Twitter account (which I don't). I really really dislike that account now that I see it. And I see one of my comments is there too. It's like, yay I guess, someone thinks my stuff is good, but on the other hand, I absolutely do not want my comments thrown all over the internet. I thought this was a safe place, and I view that Twitter account as kind of disrespectful to the community. I guess there's nothing to be done but I want you to know I agree with you, and I think people overall should be more respectful of the users on this website. I'm not on social media for a reason. Sigh.
    posted by FireFountain at 10:41 AM on March 1, 2016 [3 favorites]


    cortex just a thought but have you considered doing the entire podcast on horseback? I'm a big fan of horses
    posted by shakespeherian at 10:49 AM on March 1, 2016 [14 favorites]


    This might totally be a distinction without a difference for lots of folks here, but it least is where I'm coming from on this.

    In fairness, you’ve only got two episodes of OOTB with which to compare.
    posted by Going To Maine at 10:56 AM on March 1, 2016


    I’m pretty sure you could just ask joseph conrad is fully awesome to not mention your comments if you want them to not be posted…
    posted by Going To Maine at 11:01 AM on March 1, 2016


    I guess I could now, Going To Maine, but that's not really the point. I didn't even know about the Twitter until today. How am I supposed to ask people to not do something if I don't know it's happening? I'm not on here all the time like some people are, and as a result, I feel super out of the loop on things most of the time. I mean, now I'm wondering, what about that metafilter Reddit group - are people posting our comments there? What about that crone island group - are they talking about us there? Are there 80 other off-site groups I don't know about where they talk about us on the internet behind our backs? Maybe not, maybe I'm completely overreacting, but now I'm wondering about it. It's just all leading to me feeling that I need to be extra careful about what I post because it might not be as safe as I originally thought. And I don't like that. I want this to be a safe and respectful place for all. That's why I signed up in the first place.
    posted by FireFountain at 11:19 AM on March 1, 2016 [1 favorite]


    Every comment you post here can be directly linked from anywhere. You should assume it will be linked to from other sites, just as Metafilter links to Reddit threads or blog posts or whatever.

    I follow a lot of MeFites on Twitter and both posts and comments are routinely linked to. There is also "best of Metafilter" accounts on Twitter and Facebook that link to posts and comments. The Flagged As Fantastic account is really no different than any other account, or really any other page on the internet.

    That said, that particular account is run by someone who, by all accounts appears to be respectful and reasonable. As Going to Maine said, I'm sure you could ask them to not link to your posts.
    posted by bondcliff at 11:31 AM on March 1, 2016 [6 favorites]


    How am I supposed to ask people to not do something if I don't know it's happening? I'm not on here all the time like some people are, and as a result, I feel super out of the loop on things most of the time. I mean, now I'm wondering, what about that metafilter Reddit group - are people posting our comments there? What about that crone island group - are they talking about us there?

    I think there’s going to always be a risk with that, unless MetaFilter fundamentally changes from be in a public website that’s readable by anyone and indexed by Google. There are a lot of things we have to expect to be default open, even if it makes us uncomfortable. (A lot of this ground was last litigated when we added the new privacy settings for the profile, if you missed that.) Of course, even with people on the site could be having memailed conversations about any of us without the rest of the community being aware. So this particular twitter account seems like a small scale, community level thing with which we can wrangle.
    posted by Going To Maine at 11:34 AM on March 1, 2016


    Are there 80 other off-site groups I don't know about where they talk about us on the internet behind our backs?

    I don't worry about this myself; they only talk about the cool kids.

    ("The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.")
    posted by octobersurprise at 11:36 AM on March 1, 2016 [4 favorites]


    Oh thanks Going to Maine. Looks like I missed that privacy thread. I will take a look!
    posted by FireFountain at 11:47 AM on March 1, 2016


    So this particular twitter account seems like a small scale, community level thing with which we can wrangle.

    Whether it's possible for others to link to our comments on other social media or not, it is still rather inconsiderate given the privacy concerns people have floated here. Opting out of something that most people here don't even know about is a pretty tough ask - why not just ask people for permission before posting their comments so that they can opt-in?
    posted by dialetheia at 12:08 PM on March 1, 2016 [2 favorites]


    Well, that particular account waaaay predates a lot of this particular turn in the debate. (Project post from back in November of 2014.) So it seems like opinions about this sort of thing have gone through some changes. I also do not want to pre-suppose to speak for jcifa since it is her casual spare time project. But I will say that I raised some similar concerns about seeing the mods add comments to the best of blog and -as I recall- the feedback from that team was basically “yeah.... that’s a lot of work and would make it way too difficult to add anything”. I wouldn’t be surprised if jcifa’s response were similar.
    posted by Going To Maine at 12:34 PM on March 1, 2016 [1 favorite]


    I am definitely on board with the already-sorta-status-quo concept of semi-regular friendly, chatty MeTa threads, yeah.

    As long as semi-regular is like once or twice a year at most, and good god not monthly like some people are asking for, and as long as you all realise that you're alienating some people every time you do it.

    Also, for me at least, the part where a thread was opened less than a day after so many of us posted negatively about this whole thing feels very invalidating. It's not because I'm just grumpy about not being cool, the negative effects of social networking on happiness are real as is the exhaustion of either dealing with interpersonal politicking and relationship management which comes from this kind of networking or of being left out because we don't want to join in.
    posted by shelleycat at 12:39 PM on March 1, 2016 [7 favorites]


    I think this kind of random chitchat and/or announcement MeTa has been pretty regular in the last few years, popping up something like once a month or maybe once every few months? If we include threads like "show us your desks" and other stuff like that, I think they're reasonably common. I think people were posting them deliberately as a bridge-building thing after some of our fightier threads in the last few years, and I think they work well at that.

    I do get that people have different orientations to sharing personal stuff, and how much personal stuff they want to see from others, and how they would feel about an increase-from-baseline of the social networky features on the site. I had mainly been taking the negative reactions to be about those things, more a concern about increasing emphasis on this, or increasing potential scrutiny on abstainers. I wasn't taking it to be about the kind of general, open, participate-if-you-want, but-no-spotlight-is-cast-on-abstainers, kind of thread that was opened today. Maybe that was a misunderstanding on my part.
    posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 12:47 PM on March 1, 2016


    I like the podcast format and I don't think it needs to accommodate people who aren't currently being asked to participate, like me.
    posted by michaelh at 12:48 PM on March 1, 2016


    the negative effects of social networking on happiness are real

    You're free to ignore the thread. There's no reason why those purported negative effects need to be in your life at all. For me, I read that thread and learned about some victories, big and little, for people I know from the site and like. Reading it was really positive for me.
    posted by Bulgaroktonos at 1:11 PM on March 1, 2016 [5 favorites]


    I wasn't taking it to be about the kind of general, open, participate-if-you-want, but-no-spotlight-is-cast-on-abstainers, kind of thread that was opened today

    But these kinds of threads were proposed as a compromise position, which only makes sense if they would be an increase from the status quo. And as far as I can tell there haven't been any such threads since Christmas, so monthly would be a real increase in frequency.

    As far as opening this thread today, I did regard it as kind of an insult. I did think it was pretty gauche to open the thread while the conversation was still happening here about whether they were appropriate -- as shelleycat puts it invalidating those of us who felt differently. I considered flagging the thread but once I saw that a mod had the first comment I figured they had sanctioned it.
    posted by crazy with stars at 1:20 PM on March 1, 2016 [1 favorite]


    The poster of the new thread asked me about timing and I thought it was okay. So, I apologize to people who felt it was insulting, I didn't anticipate that.
    posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 1:22 PM on March 1, 2016 [1 favorite]


    As far as opening this thread today, I did regard it as kind of an insult.

    In the old days, you would've had to cut off a hand or fight LobsterMitten to the death.
    posted by octobersurprise at 1:31 PM on March 1, 2016 [1 favorite]


    I guess you're lucky because I hear Lobster's Mittens are pretty sharp.
    posted by octobersurprise at 1:32 PM on March 1, 2016 [3 favorites]


    Yeah, my feeling is this has been basically:

    "Can we do a radical new thing?"
    Nope, not gonna happen.
    "Can we do a thing we've already been doing forever?"
    Sure, go for it.

    Which, I don't want anybody to feel bummed out by seeing a kind of social-space thing on the site that they don't really like, but I don't think we can get to "no one ever feels bummed out" given the contradictions between different folks very different but nonetheless legitimate feelings about some of this stuff.

    I draw a big line in my mind between "HERE IS AN ANNOUNCEMENT ABOUT USER X, EVERYBODY TALK ABOUT USER X" and "HOW IS EVERYBODY DOING, TALK ABOUT YOURSELF IF YOU FEEL LIKE IT" and while both can in theory work and both have traditionally happened on MetaTalk, most of the issues where something just really wouldn't scale come down more to the threads-about-user-X side than the threads-about-everybody side, basically. Spotlighting vs. general participatory discussions is how I think of it.

    Ultimately if you kind of feel like even the general participatory discussions are problematic because they leave folks who don't want to or don't feel up to participating out, I can totally hear and respect that feeling but I don't think it's gonna be addressable in terms of changes to how MetaFilter/MetaTalk work, because those things are a part of fabric of this place and it'd be a conspicuous thing to take them away or actively discourage them.

    So that What's New thread feels like a good compromise solution to the problem of a lot of people liking social check-in stuff and yet a lot of people (and not necessarily an entirely different set of people) not wanting explicit social features structured more aggressively into the site. "Post a MetaTalk and just chat there" has been a pretty standard solution to all kinds of pony-refusals over the years, and it's an okay approach for folks to take. I can dig if it doesn't feel like a welcome response from folks who just don't want to see, or feel by contrast excluded from, overt socialization on the site, but it's a pretty normal site thing and I guarantee not intended to communicate insult. It's just a thread that's not about anybody in particular and that nobody has to pay any attention to if they're not so inclined.
    posted by cortex (staff) at 1:36 PM on March 1, 2016 [7 favorites]


    There are also positive effects to social interaction and I don't think that people should be required to not interact positively with each other because it might make other people feel bad. That's just not a healthy way to think, IMO. Unless someone is actually doing something bad to you, it's not fair to make them responsible for your feelings. There is a profound difference between "this is okay but it makes me feel bad" and "this is not okay because it makes me feel bad." The second is not something that people should feel obligated to consider when it comes to being friendly with other people.

    I often do consider the feelings of people I'm not talking to, or the feelings of people who might feel left out of a friendship, but no one is entitled to my attention, care or friendship beyond the basic obligation of humanity.

    If you want to be friends with people here, if you want to have more friends here, if you want to be included, start doing some basic emotional labor. In other words, congratulate people for their success, tell them when they do something you like, write them when they're feeling down, keep in touch. It will work.

    Many (actually, all) of the people in this thread who have talked about feeling left out are people who I actually have very positive feelings towards. The difference between those people and actual friends is 100% effort. It's okay not to make that effort, but I don't think it's okay to act as though people who do make that effort are harming you by enjoying the result of their effort.
    posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 1:38 PM on March 1, 2016 [18 favorites]


    "Can we do a radical new thing?"
    Nope, not gonna happen.
    "Can we do a thing we've already been doing forever?"
    Sure, go for it.


    "Will you build us a tree house?"
    Nope, not gonna happen.
    "Can we play in a box?"
    "Sure, knock yourself out."

    Cortex, have I told you lately that I love you?
    posted by octobersurprise at 1:52 PM on March 1, 2016 [6 favorites]


    Many (actually, all) of the people in this thread who have talked about feeling left out are people who I actually have very positive feelings towards. The difference between those people and actual friends is 100% effort. It's okay not to make that effort, but I don't think it's okay to act as though people who do make that effort are harming you by enjoying the result of their effort.

    Yeah. I’m actually surprised that this has gone in the direction of “well, now that we’ve talked about perceptions of in-groups and out-groups, you can go back to doing what you were doing but know that it makes us uncomfortable,” especially since I thought the point of some sort of general announcement space would be to lower the barrier of participation and hopefully help break down that perception. Goes to show me, I guess. But yeah - the only barrier to communicating in this space is one’s choice not to do so. Which is a fine choice to make, but doesn’t mean we should guilt folks who do otherwise.
    posted by Going To Maine at 1:57 PM on March 1, 2016


    Jcifa proactively asked if I would allow comments or posts flagged by that Flagged As Fantastic Twitter account to be linked to my private Twitter handle. I asked her not to. She was quite nice about it.

    --

    Monkeytoes, I wish I could favorite your fantastic, brilliant comment a dozen times. Well said.
    posted by zarq at 2:00 PM on March 1, 2016


    Thanks cortex and LobsterMitten -- both of those comments are very helpful. I don't really have a problem with the mass-participation threads in general, just with one being posted while this conversation was still happening. But it's good to know that LobsterMitten sanctioned the thread before it went up.

    I don't think that people should be required to not interact positively with each other because it might make other people feel bad.
    That's very reasonable, and it's true that people have said things like that in this thread. But I think Miko and others have given stronger reasons not to give too much space to purely social interactions -- i.e. to allow "discourse between people who actually weren't all that close and weren't looking to share personal confidences and bona fides as the basis for interaction."

    I think it's a little unfair to say it's all about people feeling bad about being excluded -- rather, it's about a fear of losing the site's culture of a conversation that's open to all and that's not based upon previous social ties. But while that's my Metafilter, I do recognize that other people's experiences are very different.
    posted by crazy with stars at 2:06 PM on March 1, 2016 [6 favorites]


    I sort of have the impression that, historically, when the site was smaller, there was less need for some space to chit chat because fewer people posting = more contacts between the same people, thus community happens organically. Also, I sort of have the impression that MeTa used to be more tolerant of random, spontaneous sharing (of recipes or whatever) and that has tightened up some over time, probably for very good reasons.

    I think intentionally devoting some MeTa bandwidth to this is probably the best thing to do. I don't think the "tell us what is new in your life" framing is exactly optimal for actual community building. I mean, it isn't something that needs to be nuked from orbit. I am just hoping that, with practice, the community comes up with something a little better at focusing on sharing commonalities. Like "Tell us your wedding/elopement story!" Or "What was your worst day ever!" I think having A Thing to focus the conversation works better for actually developing a sense of connection. I think there is a danger that "What's new with you" will end up being much more cool kid friendly (and also potentially unwelcoming to the uncool kids) than something with a more specific question.

    But, overall, I think permission to play in the cardboard box is a good thing.

    I am on a tablet and have already blown too much of my day on MeFi, but Eyebrows McGee did a really good MeTa at some point that was something like "Tell us that one weird thing about you." It is a good example of a type of question that is likely to build community and reduce cliquishness instead of reinforcing in group/out group lines.
    posted by Michele in California at 2:13 PM on March 1, 2016 [4 favorites]


    EVERYBODY TALK ABOUT USER X

    EVERYBODY DANCE NOW!!! [UH! Uh-uh Uh-UH!]
    posted by USER X at 2:13 PM on March 1, 2016 [7 favorites]


    I think all I was looking for was a recognition that some of us feel like outsiders. I understand what people put into this site, I understand that some people have great things to say, but I just want people to be aware that whether or not it's because of individual merit, there's certainly an in-crowd here. When people talk about the "we" here, it's not hard to feel insignificant or left out.

    I'm not saying other people are participating in the wrong way. But I guess this means I am? I've said before that I don't think this site is necessarily the place for me, and that's no one's responsibility but my own - I'd just like to be able to walk away without feeling like it's because I failed at something.
    posted by teponaztli at 2:16 PM on March 1, 2016 [8 favorites]


    I like threads like today's and I usually participate in them though I do think the timing is interesting. I don't personally feel bad when there are threads like "Hey look who got married!" but I don't necessarily want more of them. When I and others reasonably said we felt there was a certain feeling of cliques here there was some dismissal and what I felt was 'No there are no cliques, you're wrong.' I don't like to be told a feeling I have is wrong. That's a thing I deal with and I get that, but the dismissal of feelings did make me feel bad.
    posted by Clinging to the Wreckage at 2:20 PM on March 1, 2016 [8 favorites]


    I don't personally feel bad when there are threads like "Hey look who got married!" but I don't necessarily want more of them.

    Right, and if there wasn't an in-group, there would be more of them. If everyone posted about marriages and babies and other major life events, it would quickly overwhelm MetaTalk and make it completely useless. But of course not everyone posts these, because people like me know not to. Again, that doesn't mean the people who are well-liked or have friends here are bad and doing it wrong, but there's definitely an in-group of people who feel comfortable taking up MetaTalk bandwidth on these things because they know they'll be well received instead of getting crickets. People who've made actual friends here presumably have other ways of letting them know about major life events, so using MetaTalk for that purpose seems weird and unnecessary to me. I also don't feel bad about them, but I don't think they really belong here. I also don't expect them to stop, but the insistence that there's no in-group here rubs me the wrong way.

    The more general "show us your desk" or whatever are different because there's a much lower barrier to entry and they're therefore more inclusive.
    posted by Mavri at 2:56 PM on March 1, 2016 [11 favorites]


    but no one is entitled to my attention

    first of all how dare you
    posted by poffin boffin at 3:02 PM on March 1, 2016 [5 favorites]


    I always assumed that who posts big news was more about people who like attention vs who doesn't, and not necessarily that some people aren't "supposed to" post. I would be thrilled if you posted about getting married or having a baby (and I feel that way about everyone in here).

    I see what you mean about not wanting to take up bandwidth; I just don't think it's necessarily an "everyone loves me so I can post" thing as much as a "I feel comfortable being prominent" thing. Which might feel not-so-different to you, but does feel different to me.

    I mean, if everyone who liked a website posted to Metafilter it, too, would be overrun. But I don't think that means that people necessarily only post things when their entrenched social support makes it clear that they're "allowed" to.
    posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 3:05 PM on March 1, 2016 [1 favorite]


    first of all how dare you

    my only defense is that I'm clinically deficient in it
    posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 3:05 PM on March 1, 2016 [3 favorites]


    and again, we go back to the idea that people necessarily have an "in-group" (which seems to be characterized by excluding people, maybe I'm using a different definition) because they feel comfortable being here, or they have enough friends here so they know a lot of people here would be interested in a big life event.

    I don't know. I both acknowledge that it can make people feel like they are outsiders, and want to push back on the idea that these things are necessarily indicative of an "in-group" type situation that excludes the vast majority of mefites.

    If anyone is part of an "in-group" I am, almost inarguably so. But that would indicate an out-group, and 99.9% of mefites are not in that category for me. So I feel like it's more like a bar where there are regulars, but where people are generally friendly and welcome and people who aren't necessarily already regulars have a very good chance of getting there. I wouldn't personally call that cliquish, exclusionary, "in-group"y, or what have you.
    posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 3:10 PM on March 1, 2016 [5 favorites]


    the insistence that there's no in-group here

    A bit like hipsters, isn't it? Everyone says they exist but no one points to the same person.

    (I propose that we call the in-crowd "metafilter hipsters" or "mefipsters.")
    posted by octobersurprise at 3:11 PM on March 1, 2016 [3 favorites]


    also, "weird and unnecessary" really doesn't go along with not thinking people are doing anything wrong.

    This thread is really hurting my feelings. It's really sadly (ironically) backhanded snarky towards a lot of nice people who wanted to share nice events with the community (and did so).

    It is criticism and judgment dressed up as self-defense and it's really hurtful. I'm not even someone who has done this, AFAIK, so I'm not even talking about myself here. I love wedding & baby posts and appreciate (with sadness) posts about mefites who pass away.

    I wish everyone would be kind to each other, and that includes treating people as people, and individuals, instead of as a sort of undifferentiated group or symbol for something else that bugs you.
    posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 3:20 PM on March 1, 2016 [10 favorites]


    I suppose there's also a question of what a "big life event" would be. I'm never going to be that person starting a "my big life event" because I don't feel like MeFi as a whole is aware of my existence (which is fine! some people I really like are and it's all good!) And I don't like being the center of attention. But also because those just aren't life events I have any interest in participating in, and that I don't particularly care about other people participating in either. I'm glad you're happy, I hope your wedding was all you wanted it to be, I am probably never going to take time to read about it or click through more than two pictures. (Which is fine too!)

    I'd be over the moon for "I just adopted a kitten" threads or "I just got a raise" threads or "I sold a short story" or "I came out to my friends" threads, though, because those happen to be life signifiers that are more interesting and meaningful to me when they happen to people I care about. A general "hey, tell us what's new and interesting in your life" thread allows for a lot more ground for different people to share different things they are excited about, I think.
    posted by Stacey at 3:22 PM on March 1, 2016 [6 favorites]


    I'm aware of your existence!

    I feel like a lot of this is caused by metafilter being weirdly one-way (in that you can notice and admire someone without them actually having any clue that you're doing so)

    anyway, I'm commenting in this thread too much so I'll step away :)
    posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 3:26 PM on March 1, 2016


    I'm never going to be that person starting a "my big life event" because I don't feel like MeFi as a whole is aware of my existence

    i have told people i know in real life to read your fic
    posted by poffin boffin at 3:27 PM on March 1, 2016 [5 favorites]


    internet fraud detective squad, station number 9: "So I feel like it's more like a bar where there are regulars, but where people are generally friendly and welcome and people who aren't necessarily already regulars have a very good chance of getting there."

    My preferred metaphor might be an undergraduate seminar: an eclectic group of people who have a moderated conversation about a shared interest. Some of them know each other and some of them don't, but their connections aren't really germane to the conversation. What matters is what they say then and there.
    posted by crazy with stars at 3:29 PM on March 1, 2016


    Hah, okay, I should have qualified that. Cannibal Club knows who I am because I NEVER SHUT UP there.
    posted by Stacey at 3:36 PM on March 1, 2016 [1 favorite]


    If MetaTalk was only people fighting about policy or requesting ponies, it wouldn’t be any fun.
    posted by Going To Maine at 3:56 PM on March 1, 2016


    I love threads like the one that was opened up. No barrier to entry, no forced participation, just...what's happening?

    I don't mind the "let's shout-out to our fave MeFites and the best posts/comments!" threads. It's the Oscars of MeFi. The same 50 or so people over and over. Every year.

    But the funniest post is the one that limps out of queue a few days later, calling for "hey, let's shout-out to the MeFites/posts/comments that don't get as much love!" Because that starts out nobly and then turns into a celebration of posts and comments from the top 50 people that didn't get as many favorites. It's humorous, it really is.
    posted by kimberussell at 4:37 PM on March 1, 2016 [14 favorites]


    The more I've watched internet communities develop, and how, and who tends to rise to prominence, the more I've come to appreciate how a set of influential/central/powerful people come to be in a circumstance where the official recognition/conferment of power is highly limited, and a lot of it is about how and what is communicated with a healthy side-helping of having been around for a while or being able to be present a lot.

    I think it's easy to underestimate the power one has when one has a degree of social influence and capital; it's easy to not notice the role that recognition by and of others plays in setting the tone and social hierarchy of a place absent any power-based hierarchy. It's also easy to ignore low bars of entry and not speak up as well, though. One of the downsides to social capital is that the majority of it is implicit, not explicit - it takes effort to pay attention to who we notice and who we don't and our emotional perception of our behavior is not the same as a systemic perception (see also: implicit bias).

    I've been thinking about this regarding my own love/hate relationship with the idea of being seen and noticed. To be seen, even if with critique, is to be validated however to be unseen is to be able to try to embody yourself at your most pure. However, if you are yourself and no one cares, it can be deeply wounding (see also: why I cried two nights ago). It is possible to minimize this exchange - to say the hurt person should have a stronger skin or not be so hung up on the opinions of the people they admire - but I think that fundamentally ignores the degree to which humans are a social animal more than almost anything. How our communities (of necessity and choice) react to us shapes who we are and how we view ourselves and vice versa.
    posted by Deoridhe at 5:28 PM on March 1, 2016 [15 favorites]


    This thread has been bothering me all day because of the blithe rejection that in-crowd dynamics exist around here and the sentiment that it's adolescent behavior to be concerned about fostering that dynamic. Deoridhe's excellent point about how easy it is to miss the development and influence of social capital through recognition, as well as the barriers it creates is part of what has been bothering me.

    The other part is conflating the concern with exclusion with the belief that it's deliberate--that some people are "picked last at recess" (as it were) because the team captains hate them. Nope, sometimes you're picked last because the team captains have friends who aren't you. Not because you're disliked but because you're not liked. Thinking this dynamic does not exist at Metafilter--and would not be exacerbated by adding deliberate channels for praising the popular (where popular means not "beloved" but merely "highly recognizable")--well, I think that shows a lack of sensitivity.

    I don't know. I think the resolution of the request (we don't need a social subsite, but the irregular "how's it going?" metatalk is fine) is a good outcome. But I remain unsettled by some of this conversation.
    posted by crush-onastick at 5:45 PM on March 1, 2016 [34 favorites]


    The line the annotated emotional labour pdf crossed was not in just collating a giant thread, but with links to individual users' profiles and the like, making distinguishing the person behind the username easier, and the subject matter made it more important for some users that their permission wasn't asked. I do think it's necessary to remember that everything written here is completely public; not just members, but even to the perma-banned, all can read whatever is written here. Any mental divide between 'Metafilter' and 'the (big bad) internet' is illusory.

    Also, there's lots of places where MF is being discussed behind its back. I mean, MetaChat is being advocated as one way to deal with the issue at hand, and while that's not behind the site's back per se, it isn't part of the site and most people don't know about it, and though the purpose isn't to discuss MF, it is bound to have some reference to the site that spawned it, much like all the other offspring from MonkeyFilter to Crone Island to whathaveyou. More directly, it was a pretty recent MeTa where the reddit MF site was linked; a number of users ex- and current reference the site in their tweets, people link to threads on other sites... really, having an engaged and reasonable identifiable person around to be able to request they not include you in any form of taking content beyond a metafilter.com address is the rare exception.

    Finally, of course there's cliques, in-groups, out-groups, whatever. This is a social space, and that's how we are social. You don't even have to be at all exclusionary for other people to feel excluded. If you wanted to keep the high school analogy going, it would even be possible to do the standard 'cafeteria sub-group walkthrough' with a lot of the users here, though it would be a bit more difficult than just who sits where; as you read through the site you notice patterns of who turns up where and has what to say, and can categorise accordingly. There's more floaters than in a usual school, because there's no physical impossibility to appearing in more than one space at a time, but that just means different groups have lunch at different times, or something equivalent to keep the analogy going.

    The different subsites could be different department buildings on campus, and you could put them in their appropriate places, like the activists in the quad and the techies in the computer lab, and of course MeMusic could be band...
    posted by gadge emeritus at 6:29 PM on March 1, 2016


    This thread is really hurting my feelings. It's really sadly (ironically) backhanded snarky towards a lot of nice people who wanted to share nice events with the community (and did so).

    Did I contribute to this perception of the thread? I really would like to know.
    posted by teponaztli at 6:46 PM on March 1, 2016


    Communities operate in similar ways online and off. It is inevitable that some members will be highly visible and highly interconnected while others will be, and feel, overlooked and/or excluded, even by processes that are entirely inadvertent. That's why it's really important for communities that do care about inclusion to recognize the reality of that process and figure out mechanisms to promote it. It can hurt to be called a "cool kid" or for people to impute to you some sort of ill intent when it may not be a process you participated in knowingly at all, but understanding that the mechanisms exist, and that you can benefit or be hurt by them even without wanting to or setting out to, is an important thing, especially for people who are on the receiving end of a lot of attention. As with any kind of privilege, the privilege of being a better-known persona comes with its responsibilites, and one of those is to try to level the playing field by making more space for others.

    For that reason I think a few of these threads that are not focused on star-bellied users but on building a general sense of community are great. At the same time, as is probably obvious, we should think about how much of that is too much, in tipping the site over into a primarily social space rather than an "exchange of ideas, personality factors/popularity less important" space.
    posted by Miko at 7:15 PM on March 1, 2016 [5 favorites]


    This thread is really hurting my feelings.

    Mine, too. I have been debating whether to say anything because I don't want to make anything worse, but like, yeah, my wedding was posted to Metafilter. But also, I have been a member of Metafilter for 10ish years, and I met my spouse through this site, and through friends of friends we had met through the site. I can't imagine not sharing with this community the fact that we had found each other through it, and how much the site means to each of us. Metafilter itself was a really important part of my big life event.

    And I would have posted it even if my spouse wasn't well-liked on the site. And I guess it hurts me a little bit to think that the fact that he apparently is well-liked somehow makes something really special to both of us, and which I absolutely cherish and will probably forever -- that thread -- something that people are holding up as evidence of or part and parcel to hurtful, exclusive behavior.

    And I get that everyone's circumstances are different and mine is just one small example, but also I'm sure most people who have shared life events have their own reasons for doing so. And I'm sorry that some people on this site apparently feel resentful for holding back on sharing their own or that other people have on occasion decided certain life events were worth sharing, but I absolutely would do it again in a heartbeat, and I absolutely think it has a place on this site.
    posted by likeatoaster at 7:15 PM on March 1, 2016 [15 favorites]


    One thing I hadn't considered was that it could hurt to be called one of the "cool kids," as if that implies deliberate exclusion. It's not like that at all. I think I read those comments really differently than some people did, because what may have sounded like an accusation of bad behavior just sounded to me like frustration. I think very few people were talking about bad intentions.

    Look, there is an in-crowd here, in the sense that you have people who are very active on this site and have been for maybe 10, 15 years. They have all these various ties binding them together, and they're going to get or give the benefit of the doubt, or commiseration, or recognition, or any one of a bunch of social bonds. It's not because of intentional exclusion, but it's going to take a lot of effort to keep up with that, and you have to be willing to put yourself out there constantly. That's not frustrating on its own, but I, at least, would appreciate an acknowledgment that it's a major undertaking, especially if you're not really inclined to do it in the first place. Reaching out to people can make you incredibly vulnerable, and it's especially tough on the internet where you've never even met a person.

    I've tried reaching out to people, I've tried getting involved and congratulating people on life events, and I've tried sharing parts of myself without feeling too ridiculous and humiliated. But it's exhausting, and I still feel like I'm on the periphery.

    Everything I do on this site is an effort to put myself out there. People comment here for at least some kind of community (even just to get feedback, or more info, or something), or there'd be no point. The frustrating, hurtful thing is when you feel like you're doing, and have been doing, everything people have been suggesting we do to be a part of the crowd, and still feel like you're hanging on the fringes. I mean, at what point is it just too exhausting?
    posted by teponaztli at 7:42 PM on March 1, 2016 [21 favorites]


    It's interesting that the people who feel well-known and liked in the context of MetaFilter are asking the less-well-know people to tone it down. Here we have people expressing their lived experiences of MetaFilter being somewhat cliquey, and some of the responses are "I am not accepting of your lived experience because it hurts my feelings."

    It feels like this thread is suddenly punching down on the folks that aren't in the clique.
    posted by Tehhund at 7:45 PM on March 1, 2016 [13 favorites]


    1) I love you all
    2) Any grouping of people more than two will have some inherent groupings and some people that are more extroverted and visible than others. It's a feature, not a bug.
    3) 'i feel like things are cliquish' is not a feeling. "I feel rejected" or "i feel angry" are feelings. All may be valid, though.
    4) What better way to bring visibility to those who may wish to be a bigger part of the conversation than the opportunity to share some stuff about themselves?
    posted by softlord at 7:45 PM on March 1, 2016


    [A few comments deleted. Let's reel this back in a bit.]
    posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 8:18 PM on March 1, 2016


    "One thing I hadn't considered was that it could hurt to be called one of the "cool kids," as if that implies deliberate exclusion."

    I, personally, am not super-fond of the terminology "cool kids" because I think it brings in a layer of remembered high school angst, on "both sides," that isn't helpful because so many of us remember those rotten feelings of exclusion from high school cliques, and I truly don't think MeFites are exclusionary; I think it's a warm, welcoming, friendly bunch of nerds who are sincere and enthusiastic and passionate and sometimes snarky, but really the farthest thing from the pretend-disengagement and fake-boredom-masquerading-as-sophistication and deliberate snubbing of others of high school cool. That warm, friendly adults still have closer and less-close relationships amongst themselves is totally a thing, and that it is hard to form new social bonds, especially as a newcomer to an existing group, or as an introvert, or someone for whom social interaction is difficult, is also totally true! But I think adding the "cool kids" layer of rhetoric muddles the discussion and raises a lot of hackles because so many of us have bad memories of the deliberate nastiness of "cool kids" when we were adolescents, and I truly don't think that's what's at work at MetaFilter (in the general dynamic. I'm sure there are pockets.).

    I've been reminding myself to try to read people's intended meaning rather than reading into their comments something that isn't there because of my dislike of the phrase "cool kids," because I know people are just using it as a shorthand and probably not thinking about all the connotations of the phrase. But I do think it's maybe a little more loaded than people intend, and that others are reacting to how loaded that phrase can be.

    Also I believe that once you pass 30 you can never be cool again so while I love you all and think you're all fantastic people, "cool" would not be my go-to word for most of you. ;)
    posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 8:27 PM on March 1, 2016 [8 favorites]


    And I'll say, I think it's pretty understandable both that (a) people who have friends here with whom they share a warm rapport feel like that's a fine and nice thing, and (b) sometimes other people might feel a bit bummed at seeing a warm friendship they feel they're not a part of. I think both of those are understandable suites of feelings, and it's fair for folks to voice them.

    But at this point, I want to suggest we step back from the direction this has been going, and return to the original spirit of the post here, about trying to foster positive feelings of connection?
    posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 8:28 PM on March 1, 2016 [4 favorites]


    It is work to make your name in a community, to establish friendships, to build a reputation via your contributions and emotional generosity. One of the end results of that work is a certain kind of privilege within that community. Just as with any kind of privilege, of course, the use of that descriptor doesn't mean that the person with it didn't also do work -- just that they may have been in a position to do that work more readily and more successfully than others.

    It is surprising, but it often is the people who think of themselves as most underdog who end up, by virtue of finding a great "fit" in the right community, finally, enjoy a lot more visibility/success than others in that community. It is okay for people to notice that some are achieving more success, share of conversation, notice, what-have-you and to ask for ways to make that more widespread. Often, the people who do enjoy access to something, whether it be more social capital or more weight to their contributions, are the last to realize that it can be exclusionary, even though it's inadvertently, because they feel they made their way fairly in a fair system. Like any social system, MeFi isn't inherently a fair system. It favors those with more time, more internet access, more verbal ability, more extraversion at least online, closer fit with the site's main age/education/income/cultural demographics, and more access to meetup-friendly communities. It should be okay for us to talk about these asymmetries and figure out ways to make them sting less, to provide more access to people who don't start from one or more of those positions of social strength.

    As someone who has at times been a higher-profile MeFite, I've had a problematic relationship with the phenomenon of site reputation in many ways, most not relevant at this moment. Part of that has meant examining the difficult relationship between being well known in some circles, and enjoying that prominence and feeling like I certainly did earn much of it through my efforts, with my own history being excluded and overlooked in other realms of life. It's easy to imagine oneself as the underdog in all settings, but an oddity of transitioning between social milieus is that you can arrive at totally different statuses in one as compared to another. It's the classic thing of the nerdy kid who changes schools or goes to summer camp and is suddenly popular, or the opposite. Even though a lot of people who might not be the darlings of other social worlds can achieve a really comfortable space in this community, that doesn't exempt them from examining the baggage that comes with that privileged space, even the unwanted baggage - which is that some people, who aren't enjoying that same space for whatever reason, will feel that you are getting certain kinds of access and presence that they don't have, and they may want to fairly critique the structures that are making that possible, and perhaps tweak the structures to allow for more people to enjoy that spot of sunshine.

    It's never a happy message to hear, especially when the status quo is working really well for you. And it's true that most people are generally acting from generous intent, looking to be open and build social bonds. So it's a hard kind of self-examination to do and one that is just ugh, much easier to dismiss as other people's immature and jealous grievances, at least before you're ready to step back and look at the dynamic. I think really well of people who are able to do that, and we have a good few here as examples. I'm probably not expressing this well enough. It is a tough thing, but I like to believe that if we really did want to honor the site's general egalitarian ethos, making room for a wider number of people to feel included is a good thing, even as we keep the focus on welcoming their input of ideas and contributions.
    posted by Miko at 8:33 PM on March 1, 2016 [17 favorites]


    I, for one, would LOVE a feature on the podcast of like ... "a MeFite who does cool shit" and is totally someone I haven't 'heard of'.
    posted by softlord at 8:40 PM on March 1, 2016 [4 favorites]


    I'd enjoy that too, and I've got a list in mind and very eager to hear (in Mefimail or contact form) from people who have more suggestions.
    posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 8:41 PM on March 1, 2016 [1 favorite]


    I solved all the issues with the podcast a few months back.
    posted by Chrysostom at 9:08 PM on March 1, 2016 [1 favorite]


    Where's Crysostom?
    posted by Deoridhe at 12:41 AM on March 2, 2016 [3 favorites]


    Okay, this may sound like I'm repeating myself but it's actually a different point. I postulate that there are no "cool kids" outside US time zones. This in turn suggests that matters well outside likability come into the calculus, and maybe the hurt could be assuaged by that observation.
    posted by gingerest at 2:10 AM on March 2, 2016 [4 favorites]


    This thread is really hurting my feelings.

    Mine, too. I have been debating whether to say anything because I don't want to make anything worse, but like, yeah, my wedding was posted to Metafilter. But also, I have been a member of Metafilter for 10ish years, and I met my spouse through this site, and through friends of friends we had met through the site. I can't imagine not sharing with this community the fact that we had found each other through it, and how much the site means to each of us. Metafilter itself was a really important part of my big life event.


    Yeah, that's sort of how I feel too; as posted in the other thread, I'm having a baby! Yay! A lot of the people I was most excited to tell are people I met through Metafilter, and there's at least one person from Metafilter who I told super early because I wanted to hear from someone with kids that what I was going through was normal (and she was so, SO supportive and it felt great! It was a huge relief during a scary time.). And I was really excited about sharing this with Metafilter because there are a lot of people I care about on here, and now I feel really badly about wanting that. And I do recognize that I might be in a privileged position here because, among other things, I live in an area with a high concentration of MeFites so I've had more of a chance to develop strong relationships, but on the other hand I don't live that close to where I grew up and I live in a large city and work in a small office and I don't go to church or anything so it felt really good knowing there was a community with whom I could share what is, to me, joyful news. Other people have been hurting and I'm glad to know that even if it makes me feel sad and I definitely think it's important to talk about, but I also am disappointed and my feelings are a bit hurt.

    I am definitely on board with the already-sorta-status-quo concept of semi-regular friendly, chatty MeTa threads, yeah.

    As long as semi-regular is like once or twice a year at most, and good god not monthly like some people are asking for, and as long as you all realise that you're alienating some people every time you do it.


    I also wanted to push back against this; I'm clearly on record as liking announcement threads, even for individuals, but I totally get why they're a problem because of the in-group/out-group dynamic people have mentioned and I see where you feel left out if you don't think that you'd get a similar announcement.

    Telling people that they're alienating you by creating something entirely voluntary in which people only talk about themselves bothers me a lot more; if you want to participate, you're welcome to participate! It's not so much a "clique" issue because people are talking about themselves and not their friends. If you don't want to participate, cool! Don't! That's 100% reasonable and fine! But I have an issue with what feels like telling people that it's a problem for them to share events from their own lives and that they should feel bad about doing so.
    posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 6:00 AM on March 2, 2016 [12 favorites]


    gingerest, I disagree with the postulate, but definitely take the larger point - it is easier to build a broader base of social capital if you're "in the room" at the same time as a large number of other people, for sure. And there's also the question of who you're in the room with - my list of "prominent MeFites" probably only partially overlaps with anyone else's because I spend a lot of time on certain topics and only a bit on broader engagement. It's where the school-based analogies fall apart for me - in school, there might have been different "cool" groups, but everyone knew who they were. I have very little notion who's got a lot of social capital outside of MeTa and my personal topics of interest.
    posted by EvaDestruction at 6:56 AM on March 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


    Also I believe that once you pass 30 you can never be cool again so while I love you all and think you're all fantastic people, "cool" would not be my go-to word for most of you. ;)

    One time, many years ago, and honestly before I was as prevalent a commenter as I am today, somebody from MetaFilter (who will remain nameless) was excited to meet me because she thought I was so cool based on my online interactions. She was so pleased to discover that I was just a big dork. (She didn't tell me this story immediately.) If I'm completely honest, "might be cool but just a big dork" is exactly my personal brand and I'm proud for whatever I may have done, purposefully or otherwise, to cultivate it.
    posted by MCMikeNamara at 7:32 AM on March 2, 2016 [10 favorites]


    This thread is really hurting my feelings.

    Cliques are a natural part of any group were more than 2 humans are involved, and for what it's worth, popularity tends to come with drama and we all make the calculations to reach an amount of attention we're comfortable with. This is why we have long time lurkers as well as super active users.

    MeFites gauge their sharing of personal stories, extensive analysis on difficult topics, confrontation with other members, or their wit in order to ensure that the attention, drama and scrutiny they get does not make them uncomfortable . Some are more successful than others and that is okay, too.

    The problem here is that people tend to project their own assessment of how much attention/life sharing is right to others, and that is where things go south. Like, some people might be on the share everything!/attention! side of the scale, and while I get you, I might still at times see your participation with the same bemusement I feel when a coworker decides to tell me every single mundane thing they did over the weekend. I know they see it as a friendly thing to do, but to me it's not a friendly thing, it's kinda boring and I wouldn't do it to others (I don't mean it in an unkind way, and I am sorry if it sounds like I don't care. I really want you all to be happy, I just don't need a ton of details unless your story is really funny or super duper engaging). I don't expect people to change their sharing standards because of me, and I cannot fault them when the result of them being more sociable and engaged than me is that they are also more popular than me.

    It's also normal to not feel included in every single conversation here, like for example I think there is a group of well spoken, very interesting people who seem to be wealthier than most, and as much as I might not relate to their stories, it's still cool to be a silent reader and learn about situations I am not familiar with.
    posted by Tarumba at 8:32 AM on March 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


    I draw a pretty big line in the sand between "announcement/what's going on with you" type of posts and "Give a shout out to your favorite posters" threads.

    I see nothing wrong with the former. If anything, I think it would be really weird, for example, if Mrs. Pterodactyl and Bulgaroktonos some time down the road started participating in parenting threads in the position of parents without ever having mentioned the pregnancy at any point beforehand. Similarly, it would be odd for likeatoaster or Greg Nog to start casually referring to a spouse in comments without ever having mentioned that they are married to another Mefite. Having to keep those kind of things close to the vest lest it hurt someone's feelings because their hypothetical wedding or pregnancy announcement wouldn't garner as much interest doesn't seem to me a compelling reason not to have them (and I say that as someone who if I made a similar type announcement on the site I imagine the primary reaction would be "Who?")

    It is the occasional "Let's celebrate our favorite posters/Who are your favorite commenters" posts that do feel to me as more explicit in-group/out-group exercises, since such threads inevitably serve little purpose except to give already popular posters the unneeded reminder that they are popular here and to remind less prominent users that nobody knows who they are. I don't think the benefit outweighs the damage.
    posted by The Gooch at 8:39 AM on March 2, 2016 [5 favorites]


    If anything, I think it would be really weird, for example, if Mrs. Pterodactyl and Bulgaroktonos some time down the road started participating in parenting threads in the position of parents without ever having mentioned the pregnancy at any point beforehand. Similarly, it would be odd for likeatoaster or Greg Nog to start casually referring to a spouse in comments without ever having mentioned that they are married to another Mefite.

    Why? It's not like we demand to see a birth certificate from people before letting them comment on parenting issues.

    Having to keep those kind of things close to the vest lest it hurt someone's feelings because their hypothetical wedding or pregnancy announcement wouldn't garner as much interest doesn't seem to me a compelling reason not to have them (and I say that as someone who if I made a similar type announcement on the site I imagine the primary reaction would be "Who?")

    I think there's a gap between "keeping it close to the vest" and having a MeTa about it.

    Just to be clear, I'm not (and I don't think anyone else is) demanding a stop to the MeTas about individual MeFites having joyous or tragic life events. But it does contribute to people's feelings that there are in-groups or cliques or cabals or whatever -- that some people have this official MetaFilter Imprimatur of Notability. And as much as I don't want to make this some sort of "privilege" argument, I'm advocating kind of the same "check", especially before one pushes back on those other member's assertions that they feel like there is an in-group.
    posted by Etrigan at 8:50 AM on March 2, 2016 [5 favorites]


    It is the occasional "Let's celebrate our favorite posters/Who are your favorite commenters" posts that do feel to me as more explicit in-group/out-group exercises,

    I think these are typically done with genuine heartfelt good intentions. I think (at least some of) the people who do them genuinely feel blindsided when it doesn't become one big group hug like they were expecting it to be.

    Fostering a real sense of community is just not something most people know how to do well and there are special challenges involved in doing it at scale online. What worked when a group was smaller can suddenly and seemingly inexplicably stop working when they grow larger. Or it can sort of gradually peter out without people noticing that it is working less and less well until you wake up one day to a big fat hairy mess wondering "where the hell did that come from?"

    Kind of like the Great Fire of London, which was a disaster in part due to thatched roofs spreading the fire like crazy. After that, they outlawed thatched roofs in city limits. My understanding is you can still have a thatched roof in the countryside in England, but not within city limits. Because thatched roofs aren't inherently evil or even fundamentally defective, but thatched roofs plus population density = oh god no!

    Social problems are not like fire. They can be caused by either unfortunate circumstance or bad behavior. Lots of people are quick to assume bad behavior is the root cause and slow to believe that it is really not that. So then you wind up with people for whom it used to work well feeling like anyone who isn't happy with it is just being a jerk and intentionally spoiling the fun, and other folks who feel like it is a problem feeling unheard and dismissed.

    It is often kind of like the six blind men and the elephant. Metafilter has gotten to a size where no one person can stay on top of all public postings, plus there is plenty of private stuff that goes on (memail, meetups, etc). Different people see different pieces of it and sometimes have a hard time reconciling the description they are hearing with their firsthand experience. Then both sides feel dismissed.
    posted by Michele in California at 10:26 AM on March 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


    But it does contribute to people's feelings that there are in-groups or cliques or cabals or whatever -- that some people have this official MetaFilter Imprimatur of Notability.

    I still have no idea who is being excluded from what; I posted a MeTa about my own wedding. I posted a MeTa trying to find good underrated comments. I posted a MeTa trying to encourage inexperienced musicians to make music. I've posted MeTas about a number of things. Anyone can post. Go! Do it! There's no barrier! Seize the reins of the horse and then BITE THE HORSE
    posted by Greg Nog at 10:43 AM on March 2, 2016 [12 favorites]


    I think it would be really weird

    I can't imagine why. I'm married to another MeFite (and someone did post about it, though they nicely asked our permission first), but I don't see why it would be at all relevant in most of the threads either of us participate in. I do talk about "my husband" from time to time, but what on earth difference does it make whether he's a MeFite or not? Similarly, the MeFites I'm IRL friends with. Does this need to be disclosed too? Is it "weird" if we post in the same threads without disclosing our offsite relationships and interactions?
    posted by Miko at 11:03 AM on March 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


    It might not be necessary for people to post Metas about MeFites' life events, or to post themselves, but personally I find them joyful and interesting and I feel that way whether they're a person of note here or not. If you post about your News I will never think "Who? So what?" I will do a tiny squee in my brain for you. If you want to share but think no one cares, you're wrong. If you don't want to share or read other people's biz that's cool too. But I will delightedly take a "Here's a cool thing what I/they did!" post every single day over a shitty fighty Meta once every couple of months.
    posted by billiebee at 11:18 AM on March 2, 2016 [11 favorites]


    Having read this thread: God, this is depressing. I don't actually have a lot to add that Mrs. Pterodactyl hasn't (eloquently) said, and I'm honestly kind of frustrated because I am used to hearing "I do not feel welcome in this community because you all seem so close" from people who haven't put in the emotional labor to... strengthen those relationships. And I'm having a hard time not reading this kind of discussion as, in essence, imposing a penalty on the people who are willing to do that emotional labor, or as a demand for the "cool kids" you all are talking about to put more emotional labor out there for people who aren't willing to reciprocate.

    I've been here for a year. I'm certainly not a part of any kind of ten-year-old clique. I have posted a lot in MeTa, and I've tried to be a big part of the "let's all say nice things about each other!" threads--and deliberately tried to spotlight people who aren't huge parts of the site. I made myself a space in this community by talking to people and saying nice things to other people and thinking about ways to try and encourage positive communication and reaching out to people I thought were hurting and having other (great people!) reaching out to me and, you know, talking and listening a lot. And seeing the result of labor like that reduced to "cliquishness" feels really disheartening and makes me want to take a huge step back from this site. I mean, I already have been a bit, and maybe this is just a bad day, but.... damn.
    posted by sciatrix at 11:28 AM on March 2, 2016 [9 favorites]


    I feel like I should take my "This is why we can't have nice things" sockpuppet out of mothballs, but it would be too much work.
    posted by USER X at 11:36 AM on March 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


    Actually, let me rephrase:

    I actually feel hurt. I feel like, if this stuff doesn't matter to you, okay, that's fine. If it does and you feel left out, chime in and step into the conversation. It's probably less scary than you think. I've spent a lot of energy specifically on the grey trying to foster positive connections between people and make them feel included and it hurts to see the posts on the grey that are specifically dedicated to that--including posts that are basically "can we say nice things to each other?" or "hey, what's up with you?" derided as inherently exclusive.

    It makes me want to be less present here.
    posted by sciatrix at 11:38 AM on March 2, 2016 [6 favorites]


    If you post about your News I will never think "Who? So what?"

    Heck, it will probably help many of us who are bad with names recognize you in the future. Many years later, klangklangston is still "the guy who had a horrible bike accident" despite me learning and enjoying many of his other characteristics and contributions onsite since then.
    posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:39 AM on March 2, 2016 [2 favorites]


    For some people, the glass is always half empty, and what is this, tap water? Really? No ice? and who brings a glass to a desert rescue, anyway? Where's your canteen? Wait, where are you all going? Can you at least leave me a map? Oh, great. A metric map. What the fuck is a kilometer?
    posted by USER X at 11:45 AM on March 2, 2016


    I'm going to try and avoid repeating myself or others, but I did just want to make one clarification. My contributions to the discussion have all been intended to be of "this really is a thing" not "this is a bad thing", and if I failed in that and hurt anyone, I apologize. I think there's a bunch of people saying "no really, there is a group of people who are better known than others," and another smaller group saying "I hate this social crap" and I feel like some people are reading members of the first as supporting the second, and speaking for myself, that's just not true.

    I'm really not against baby\wedding\chatty posts on Meta. I think they're a net increase in happiness, and I'm a big fan of happiness. I even participate when I can. Heck, I think that having well known users that we all pull together and cheer for is probably a net good as well, and even if it wasn't I know it's unavoidable. In all sincerity, every well known Mefite I can think of I think is probably a great person to be around. I guess maybe Metafilter Celebrity is a better phrase than "in-group" or "cool kids", for what I'm describing.

    I'm also not saying that those people haven't put in any work to make good friends on the site, or that they shouldn't enjoy the rewards of those bonds. You put in the work (and it totally is work), you should absolutely feel proud of the relationships you've built, and that you've earned the admiration and respect you have among the people of who read and comment on the site.

    I'm just saying that hey, there's other people who for whatever reason can't or won't put in that work, and it's perfectly reasonable for them to feel like the celebrities have an elevated status in the social framework of the site. There's also probably people who put in just as much work as, and for whatever reason aren't as good of a fit for the community. So, without diminishing the work that people put in, "I didn't have a problem, just do what I did" and "What in-group?" can feel like dismissals of what people are trying to express.
    posted by Gygesringtone at 12:11 PM on March 2, 2016 [19 favorites]


    > So, without diminishing the work that people put in, "I didn't have a problem, just do what I did" and "What in-group?" can feel like dismissals of what people are trying to express.

    But what exactly do the people who are trying to express it want? What exactly is the point of saying "some people are better known than others" (which is both obvious and inevitable in any group) if you don't think it's a problem that needs solving? It's as if someone is standing around watching other people toss a ball around and saying "Hey, nobody ever tosses the ball to me!" "Come over here, I'll toss the ball to you!" "No, no, I don't want to get involved to that extent, but it still bothers me that nobody ever tosses the ball to me." I just don't see the point unless you want everyone to stop tossing the ball.
    posted by languagehat at 12:27 PM on March 2, 2016 [8 favorites]


    sciatrix: "I'm having a hard time not reading this kind of discussion as, in essence, imposing a penalty on the people who are willing to do that emotional labor"

    I don't think it's at all helpful to frame the problem as if the only difference between the two "groups" (to try to pick as neutral a term as possible) is the willingness to perform emotional labour. Just a few comments up gingerest mentioned the problem of not being in a US time zone (one that I admit frustrates me a little too), or you also have people like teponaztli talking about how exhausting it feels to be on the fringes even in spite of putting in a lot of effort. There are a lot of factors in play here, and simplifying it down to "some people do the emotional work and they get rewarded, others don't" is a little bit of a just world fallacy. No-one is saying that the "highly visible" users aren't all lovely people who put a great deal of effort into making the site great. You all are lovely folks... but this isn't a referendum on whether you're a good person, and talking about your hurt feelings is sort of missing the point.

    More generally, throughout the thread there are people expressing this general sense of concern that MeFi does tend to celebrate the lives of some users more than others, and that this can be kind of alienating, even if you're not actually one of the people who wants to be visible. I'm pretty okay myself with not being a very prominent user. It would probably stress the hell out of me even to try to become one. My reasons for being super-wary about these proposals have nothing to do with me. It's more about the potential ugliness of Clinging to the Wreckage's hypothetical scenario:

    "I had a baby" posted by UserX - 156 favorites 361 comments
    "I had a baby" posted by UserY - 3 favorites 8 comments


    Speaking for myself I would have a hard time seeing things like that pop up on the site. I'd feel really bad for UserY and would start considering leaving the site because it just feels a little gross to me. That's not a judgment on UserX or any of the people commenting on UserX's baby announcement. It's an expression of distaste for a site structure that deliberately emphasises the differences in visibility among users. MeFi already has a little bit of that going on (e.g., via favourites) but the mods put a lot of work into tamping down some of the potential downsides, and I'm grateful for that. So for me, I'm very much against anything like a new subsite (though it seems like that's not on the cards) and I'm also a little wary of too many "life announcement" threads for much the same reason. I'm not opposed to having a few more of them, but it's not obviously an unalloyed good either.
    posted by langtonsant at 12:30 PM on March 2, 2016 [21 favorites]


    [Nixed a comment and a couple replies chaining off it. Whatever good there is to come from this discussion, it's not going to come from terse accusations of "killjoy" etc.]
    posted by cortex (staff) at 12:37 PM on March 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


    What exactly is the point of saying "some people are better known than others" (which is both obvious and inevitable in any group)

    Can't speak for anyone else, but I just wanted to say "I don't agree with what you just said" to the people I was responding too.
    posted by Gygesringtone at 12:38 PM on March 2, 2016 [6 favorites]


    But what exactly do the people who are trying to express it want?

    Not every statement of an issue is an exhortation for a solution.

    But for me, as one of those people, I'd ask for maybe a little less "No, there's no cliques here!" when people say "These things make me feel like there's a clique."
    posted by Etrigan at 12:41 PM on March 2, 2016 [9 favorites]


    But what exactly do the people who are trying to express it want?

    From my point of view, two things--first, expressing opposition to the proposal that MetaFilter have a separate subsite for social content; second, just wanting to feel heard and acknowledged on this point.

    I'd argue that MetaFilter does about as good a job as it can dealing with this situation already--people can, if they want to, occasionally post "Hey, here's this news about this MeFite!" types of MeTas (or whatever); when this happens, not everyone is going to feel great about it and there are some people who wish it would never happen to begin with, but, hey, it's a thing that happens, and it should be at least possible to recognize that some people really don't love that aspect of the site because it makes them feel alienated.
    posted by MoonOrb at 12:43 PM on March 2, 2016 [3 favorites]


    I personally think one of the problems is that some of the popular people can talk about their sex life and all kinds of other personal information to a degree that would not be okay for other people. And while I recognize that there may be reasons why it is genuinely socially problematic for someone else to try to emulate those behaviors, if you have a group of popular people and they are allowed to do things that would get other people in trouble for emulating, a) that is the essence of "privilege" and b) it makes it damn hard for someone who isn't being warmly welcomed to figure out how the hell to fit in.

    Because if you get punished for doing things that other people get pats on the head for, it makes it incredibly hard to figure out what kinds of behaviors are acceptable. It also means that the site is not defining "good behavior" and "bad behavior" based on behaviors per se but, instead, it is based on who you are, and that is fundamentally a form of discrimination.
    posted by Michele in California at 12:47 PM on March 2, 2016 [2 favorites]


    "Just a few comments up gingerest mentioned the problem of not being in a US time zone (one that I admit frustrates me a little too)"

    I will just affirm that breastfeeding American mefites ADOOOOOOORE those of you in non-US time zones, especially when you're making long, substantive comments for us to read at 3 a.m. I still have a mental catalog of those of you in Europe, Asia, and Australia because it was always your comments I was hungrily reading in the middle of the night during long, boring feeding sessions. Sometimes you sit there at 3 a.m. trying to do the math to figure out what time it is in Amsterdam and WHY HAVEN'T THE DUTCHIES MADE A NEW FPP YET?

    I do think people's perceptions of their own prominence are sometimes skewed; several people here who've mentioned feeling on the fringes in this very thread I would have considered prominent. I suppose they probably post smartly and frequently in topics I'm particularly interested in, and I don't really do social media (twitter is a strange and frightening land) and have never been to a meetup (too far away), so my perception of who's prominent/popular is uninformed by people's off-site activities and pretty restricted to who posts about stuff I like to read about. I just assume some of them like to talk about their "real" lives and others prefer not to.

    Every now and then I stumble into a thread on MetaFilter that would normally bore me to tears (*coughcomicbookmoviescough*) and see people I've never really noticed before who are talking smartly and at length about the topic, and carrying on discussions that seem to be obviously ongoing conversations that have occurred over time across many threads, and I'm like, "huh," because here's a whole set of people/relationships/information that I just don't normally see.

    People feel how they feel, and I don't deny anyone's feeling of being on the fringes, or that that can feel bad. But I also think our own perceptions of how others see us are not always accurate. (I speak from long experience, as someone whose anxiety runs toward, "All my friends hate me and I have no real friends!" or as one of my friends prefers to call it, "There's not going to be enough food for the party and no one will show up!") I just want to give out many many hugs because I know these feels; and I also disagree with the underlying assumption some of you are making that you aren't well-noticed members of the site when, to me at least, you are.
    posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 12:51 PM on March 2, 2016 [10 favorites]


    I personally think one of the problems is that some of the popular people can talk about their sex life and all kinds of other personal information to a degree that would not be okay for other people.

    Part of the problem with this conversation is that (for very good reason) it's hard to use specific examples, but I don't feel like this is my experience of the site at all. Maybe you're right, maybe I'm right, maybe the truth is in the middle, but I feel like the "cliqueishness"* comes across mostly through things like certain users getting their work posted to the blue when it wouldn't if it weren't be a known Metafilter user or certain "paging so and so" style comments. I don't think I've ever observed the thing you're describing; I feel like there's plenty of well known users whose personal life I know zero about and I get sex anecdotes from everyone.

    *Which in the interest of disclosure, I think kind of exists, but I'm also not hugely bothered by because I think it's less exclusionary than the term "clique" usually describes.
    posted by Bulgaroktonos at 12:56 PM on March 2, 2016 [4 favorites]


    I personally think one of the problems is that some of the popular people can talk about their sex life and all kinds of other personal information to a degree that would not be okay for other people.

    I think this is basically 100% untrue, though, and it feels like you conflating your having gotten friction over the years here on a basically topic-neutral front over some of your behavior with some kind of in- vs out-group gating of the permissibility of talking about personal/sexual lives.

    If you're trying to make some broader point that is not about your own personal experiences on the site, it's not clear to me what it is or what the basis for it is.

    None of that's to say that I can't see different folks feeling varying amounts of willingness/comfort with talking about their personal lives or sexual history or or or. Everybody's different and has different contexts. But it's very, very hard to look at e.g. Ask MetaFilter and come away with the idea that basically anyone is discouraged at a basic level from talking about really personal stuff at will, let alone everyone-but-an-in-group.
    posted by cortex (staff) at 1:01 PM on March 2, 2016 [7 favorites]


    I'm just saying that hey, there's other people who for whatever reason can't or won't put in that work.

    Maybe this is a sign that I *can't* put in the work, because I simply don't know what it looks like, but I have no idea how I could be any more present on MetaFilter without quitting the rest of my life, and I still feel like I'm not one of the well-known people of MetaFilter. I think it's weird to characterize the people who find themselves on the outside as having not done enough work to be recognized, as if all they need to do is plug at it for some extra hours of the day and the recognition will come.

    I don't know what the well-known MeFites are doing -- sharing more personal things? being funnier? favouriting more things? memailing each other? -- that makes them more well-known, but my feeling that I'm not in that group isn't because of a lack of overall effort on my part.

    I don't think well-known Mefites should stop being friendly with each other, or that they should feel bad that they are friendly with each other, but I do occasionally get pangs of sadness that I don't seem to be among their number and nothing I've done in the past has changed that.
    posted by jacquilynne at 1:13 PM on March 2, 2016 [12 favorites]


    Okay - I'll try saying the same thing I tried to say bluntly with prettier words: There are people here who, for whatever reason, have social capital. There are people here who, for whatever reason, resent that, and any reminder of that, and anything that might be construed as celebrating or recognizing that. And seem to feel the need to counter the alleged positivism at every opportunity.

    There is no fixing it, because it doesn't need fixing. It is a reflection of the human condition. And as tiring as it might be to be constantly reminded of outsider status, I assure you that it is equally tiring to have every positive social interaction on the site later thrown back up as evidence of "cliquishness."

    We can strive to raise each other up or we can try to tear each other down.
    posted by USER X at 1:17 PM on March 2, 2016


    And as tiring as it might be to be constantly reminded of outsider status, I assure you that it is equally tiring to have every positive social interaction on the site later thrown back up as evidence of "cliquishness."

    How often do you see the latter thing happening?
    posted by Etrigan at 1:24 PM on March 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


    i admit i still don't really understand who is in the supposed in group and out group. lots of people saying they feel outside of something are those that i would put on my own personal section of "popular high profile mefites." i'm not asking for lists, it just seems really amorphous. i suspect there's a lot wrapped up in who each person puts in the different categories.
    posted by nadawi at 1:29 PM on March 2, 2016 [5 favorites]


    I don't think well-known Mefites should stop being friendly with each other, or that they should feel bad that they are friendly with each other, but I do occasionally get pangs of sadness that I don't seem to be among their number and nothing I've done in the past has changed that.

    This probably speaks to Eyebrows' point about perception, but I'm a bit confused here, since I thought you were one of the more prominent/recognizable usernames on the site. At least, for me.
    posted by CrystalDave at 1:29 PM on March 2, 2016 [7 favorites]


    I was maybe managing to sound woeful about time zones when what I really wanted to do was comfort the people who feel left out. The "cool kids" aren't just more popular - they are mostly longstanding heavy contributors to the site, who participate during its times of heaviest use, and who take part in meetups in cities that have a lot of users. There is definitely a social capital piece, but some of it is just circumstances.
    posted by gingerest at 1:30 PM on March 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


    How often do you see the latter thing happening?

    i personally constantly see charges of cool kids/in group/mean girls/mods' pets hanging out and cabaling in secret or in open and that's why they're allowed to/don't get deleted/aren't held to the same/etc and it pretty much seems scatter shot to me most of the time.
    posted by nadawi at 1:31 PM on March 2, 2016 [3 favorites]


    I came into this thread to speak directly to the idea originally proposed. I thought having a subsite like this sounded like Facebook, Twitter, MetaChat, or any number of similar things. Those things exist and whether I like them or not I don't see why adding them to MeFi is necessary. As part of that I and others said it might cause divisions or groups between members that either don't exist or aren't a big deal right now.

    I said a few times I don't have any issue with the personal update threads. I read them and think or say Yay! or Bummer or Hugs or whatever. I do like the general, open update threads like the current one or past ones but I also don't think we really need more of those.

    I didn't know the word clique had necessarily bad connotations. When I was growing up it meant any group of people who hung out for whatever reason. I would have considered the group of theater people I hung out with to be a clique and we were begging more people - anybody - to come join in the fun. I since read more on the word and I was very wrong and I'm sorry. Clique was not what I meant to say about people here. In-group is closer but in my head that has negative connotations as well. I don't have any problem with people who have posted life updates about themselves or others. I don't think that's necessarily exclusionary. As I said above - I don't find MeFi to be exclusionary at all, but I do see certain aspects as super-inclusionary for certain members..

    But what exactly do the people who are trying to express it want?


    For me I read people saying there is no in-group and that the people saying they think there is are wrong. I wanted to answer that it does feel that way sometimes to me. That's fine with me and I don't want anything. I can have a place here and if I want to be a lot more or less active I can and I know that. But several people said 'I see this thing happening' and were told 'that thing is not happening' and it bothered me.
    posted by Clinging to the Wreckage at 1:41 PM on March 2, 2016 [8 favorites]


    As I've been reading this it's occurred to me that it's not necessarily that helpful to sort out the question of "hey wait a minute who's really part of this in-group anyway" as it is just to acknowledge that on one hand a lot of people here definitely feel that there is a sort of cliquish quality to MeFi sometimes, and on the other, that certainly no one is deliberately intending to make it an exclusive club. So it's understandable that people have felt frustrated and hurt if they feel they've been singled out as belonging to any kind of MeFi in-group. And it's also understandable that even if it may feel weird to well-known MeFites to think that they may be part of some sort of in-group that they have no Official Membership Card to and honestly had no idea they were part of, there is a dynamic here associated with high visibility on the site and sometimes it's cool to just acknowledge that other people may have some feelings associated with that dynamic. It's probably less cool to dismiss the feelings; I can see how comments along the lines of "I don't see any in-groups here" or "who's in this in-group anyway?" could be perceived as being dismissive.
    posted by MoonOrb at 1:51 PM on March 2, 2016 [7 favorites]


    I think part of the "well, I'M not in the in crowd!", "Are you serious, you totally are!" is that there probably isn't one single defined goup (as MoonOrb just intimated). There are people who post a lot, there are people who comment a lot, there are people who hang out in Chat a lot, there are people who go to meetups a lot. Those groups are partially overlapping, partially not, and even within any one group, there would be differences.

    There really isn't a cabal; at most there are several mini-cabals, who may not even be aware of each other. I'm always struck when, in a thread, a mod says, "user Y, don't even start this crap again" and I don't even recognize the name (and I'm on here a fair bit). There are too many users and too much *content* for any of us who don't work here to know everyone (probably not even the mods know everyone). There are some people who are popular overall , perhaps, but there are so many barely touching worlds within Metafilter....
    posted by Chrysostom at 1:58 PM on March 2, 2016 [5 favorites]


    There is no fixing it, because it doesn't need fixing.

    I don't think you can "fix" fundamental principles of group dynamics, but what we can do is summed up in the concluding statement in that comment: We can strive to raise each other up or we can try to tear each other down.

    The knowledge that it is just about inevitable that in a place where socializing is possible and there are no particular constraining forces, people will behave according to social theory, makes it possible to make intentional choices about the kind of community we want to be, and give ourselves some constraints, if we so wish. Letting social behavior just run its course can have a lot of negatives.

    MeFi has already chosen through moderation and community self-policing to opt out of some of those negatives, like overt out-grouping, pile-ons, direct insults, etc. In this case, someone proposed an enhanced social component to the site. It's a great time to talk about what we want the social experience on the site to look like. I'm hearing that we want to design a site experience that allows people to get to know another better (if they so choose), and allows them to celebrate their accomplishments or receive commiseration at their disappointments, but also recognizes that there is are potential downsides and inadvertent feelings of exclusion that come from the perception, or reality, that there are social networks here in which they don't figure as centrally as others or as they might wish. Both things are true. Knowing this, we can just think about it better in terms of site choices and design solutions. This is a really basic idea that underlies the interaction and inclusion principles in any Scout troop or charitable volunteer effort or really anything driven by human mission and values. We can use the knowledge that we are social beings who behave socially in a social situation - but ones that to some degree value inclusion and an egalitarian orientation - to shape the norms for our social behaiors. Do we want to encourage more everyone-share threads and fewer individual-celebration threads? Or is the balance sufficiently well calibrated now that we are making an intentional commitment to the former? Do we want a separate site or more social features on profiles? What are the social negatives and positives that will result from adding new features? How do we minimize the known, real, black sheep effect, create more bridging between users, and offer more share of voice to people who for whatever reason as less prominent? And finally, how social do we want this site to be a in a world of social sites that are forcing our networks, ironically, to become ever more closed and homogenous?
    posted by Miko at 2:08 PM on March 2, 2016 [8 favorites]


    But for me, as one of those people, I'd ask for maybe a little less "No, there's no cliques here!" when people say "These things make me feel like there's a clique."

    I would like to go on record to say that MeFi does seem cliquey to me, and I am kind of surprised to see that this is even debatable. Having said that, cliques are a part of how social spheres function, for good or bad, and I don't really see a huge problem with their existence. Having super star MeFis as guests on the podcasts feels very cliquey to me, but then also lets me hear more stories from interesting people, so meh, whatever.

    However, I do think that there is a bit of an uncharitable reading here about the less-than-famous MeFis. I've been here for about five years, and over that time I've found that I post much less than I used to. In part, because I've learned that my opinion isn't always necessary or valuable to a conversation. MeFi has taught me to think about what I contribute, a lesson that has helped me immensely out in Meatspace. You could argue that I'm not putting in the emotional labor that other MeFis are, but I would contend that my restraint is sometimes just as valuable as posting. I may no longer be a frequent poster, but that's because I'm a much better listener.

    I support the idea of a community sub-site because I suspect that I am not the only person who feels connected to the community, but who doesn't feel that they have the social capital to be posting personal accomplishments to MeTa.
    posted by Shouraku at 2:36 PM on March 2, 2016 [5 favorites]


    > I don't think well-known Mefites should stop being friendly with each other, or that they should feel bad that they are friendly with each other, but I do occasionally get pangs of sadness that I don't seem to be among their number and nothing I've done in the past has changed that.

    This probably speaks to Eyebrows' point about perception, but I'm a bit confused here, since I thought you were one of the more prominent/recognizable usernames on the site. At least, for me.


    I was going to say the same thing: I think of you as a prominent MeFite. The same is true of some of the other people who have been talking about feeling left out. Perception is weird.

    > But for me, as one of those people, I'd ask for maybe a little less "No, there's no cliques here!" when people say "These things make me feel like there's a clique."

    And I'd ask for people not to use inherently charged words like "clique" if they don't want to offend the people they're talking about.
    posted by languagehat at 2:39 PM on March 2, 2016 [3 favorites]


    I agree that "clique," though it has academic definitions, colloquially has a hot-button sense that get's people's ire up. So, for that matter, do "in-group" and "out-group." Those words aren't helping, but we have few vernacular ways to say the same thing. Personally, I don't really think we have very tightly defined groups here, even though we do have phenomena that roughly match the social-psych definitions of those things.

    At the same time, I think we could all recognize that if we could draw an enormous network diagram of MeFi, there would be a dense web of interrelationship lines at the center and hundreds/thousands of individuals at the edges with only a few direct personal connections or recognitions of mutual particular close feeling linking them from one to another. It would be counter to reality to claim that some people aren't more tightly interconnected here than others. At one level, we're talking about the question "what mechanisms encourage the establishment of more connections so more people can feel more included and the site can function more cohesively, rather than simply reinforcing existing connections?," and at another level, we're asking "how tightly interconnected should MeFi, ideally, be? How much do we value cohesion in relation to other values, such as, say, diversity, relative anonymity, and independence of view? How much should making sure most members have multiple connections among the membership be the focus of effort here?"
    posted by Miko at 2:59 PM on March 2, 2016 [5 favorites]


    Well, everyone's feelings have been hurt, so I think this was a successful MeTa.

    Seriously, though, it's just a different social dynamic than some of us are used to. I'm sorry if my comments sounded like sour grapes. I'm pretty friendly in person, but this is what happens when I reach out on the internet, I bring people down. I feel like Richmond from the IT Crowd.

    I won't speak for anyone else, but I will say that I really respect what people have to say, and that includes the people who have expressed hurt at having read through this thread. Does that make sense? I like and respect people, and I think no one has done anything wrong. Let's just be aware that sometimes things can be weird (using whatever terminology won't imply something malicious), and maybe keep that in mind going forward, especially when lots of people feel that way regardless of any sort of "objective" measure of their popularity or esteem or whatever.

    The whole point of this thread was supposed to be about whether we want to do things differently, and it seems like the answer is, um, no. And that's OK! It's not like we need to demand well-known users be more outgoing, or something, that's weird.

    Look, here's what happened with my comments in this thread: I felt hurt, then excluded, and then because I felt hurt and excluded I could only write comments about that. I take this site way too personally, and it has a measurable effect on my day sometimes, which is embarrassing but true. That wouldn't be the case if you were all people I hated and resented, and didn't want to impress and get you all to like me. So that's where all this is coming from, and I suspect, if I don't know, that it's very much the same with other people.

    This may be the most pathetic comment I've written here to date, but I think I finally reached my tipping point for getting really obsessive about this stuff. We all like each other, and sometimes people get hurt and say stuff that comes across as hurtful, but I don't think anyone has anything less than high praise for everyone in this thread. You are all wonderful people and you don't have to change.
    posted by teponaztli at 3:13 PM on March 2, 2016 [17 favorites]


    This may be the most pathetic comment I've written here to date

    Not at all. Probably the most perfectly and totally human thing written in this thread.
    posted by USER X at 3:23 PM on March 2, 2016 [5 favorites]


    I honestly feel like this thread might be the highest concentration of "everybody is right in their own way" and "everybody is phrasing stuff just enough wrong that the misunderstood hurt feelings feel totally justified" on both sides that I've ever seen here, which is quite a (horrific nightmare of an) accomplishment.

    I leave you with a link back to Monkey Toes comment from a few days back which I just absolutely love and want to call out again.

    Everybody be good to yourself. You're very important to me.
    posted by MCMikeNamara at 3:25 PM on March 2, 2016 [8 favorites]


    I concede that my feelings of outsiderness may not be MeFi-specific, but rather a product of my own personal hang-ups, and that I might be more part of the cabal here than I think I am. That won't stop me from crossing my fingers and ctrl-F-ing my name whenever there's a mefites we love call-out thread, though.
    posted by jacquilynne at 3:27 PM on March 2, 2016 [3 favorites]


    I honestly feel like this thread might be the highest concentration of "everybody is right in their own way" and "everybody is phrasing stuff just enough wrong that the misunderstood hurt feelings feel totally justified" on both sides that I've ever seen here, which is quite a (horrific nightmare of an) accomplishment.

    I totally agree. At least one user who had a big life event linked in MeTa has already buttoned over comments in this thread, unfortunately.
    posted by dialetheia at 3:30 PM on March 2, 2016


    I think we could all recognize that if we could draw an enormous network diagram of MeFi, there would be a dense web of interrelationship lines at the center and hundreds/thousands of individuals at the edges

    I would say too that many of these cluster very strongly around large US cities in particular. Which shouldn't be that surprising as it's easy to see that friendships and relationships happen as a result of meeting to mefi. Many of the natural off-site interactions show up on-site and thus we're here, at least in part.

    There's similar difference to be drawn that I haven't seen yet mentioned in thread, between the higher and lower-frequency posters. As they do interact more, the high-frequency posters tend to form quicker and stronger bonds, just as do those who are geographically close. They're close in time rather than place.

    But many, probably most, don't interact with the site in real-time, but in breaks, after the day is done, when the kids are in bed. And that breaks immediacy and that sense of flow and belonging as well.

    So I don't know if I have a point here except to say that it does us all good to remember that different people have different associations with the site, and different abilities to participate. What that means is there needs to be a bit more patience on all sides with the various modes and ways people interact here---you may not be being ignored by someone, they may simply be putting the kids to bed or on a work trip. On the other hand, there are also rich rewards to be had by interacting with local mefites away from the blue and the green.
    posted by bonehead at 3:31 PM on March 2, 2016 [3 favorites]


    Look, here's what happened with my comments in this thread: I felt hurt, then excluded, and then because I felt hurt and excluded I could only write comments about that. I take this site way too personally, and it has a measurable effect on my day sometimes, which is embarrassing but true. That wouldn't be the case if you were all people I hated and resented, and didn't want to impress and get you all to like me. So that's where all this is coming from, and I suspect, if I don't know, that it's very much the same with other people.

    I feel very much the same. When I do something I find shameful on MetaFilter I literally hide from the site for a few weeks; it makes me feel about FIVE, but I think it's also a testament to the high regard I hold most of the people on the site in, so I'm trying to view it as a bar to rise to instead of a stick to hit myself with.
    posted by Deoridhe at 4:23 PM on March 2, 2016 [6 favorites]


    I confess I'm a little frustrated at this point, as I imagine everyone else is too. What I want to be able to do is express the fact I don't feel entirely comfortable with some of these proposals. I want to be able to say that my concerns have nothing at all to do with any individual users, because they do not. I deeply appreciate the contributions of everyone on this site, and I'm super sad to hear that people have buttoned over this issue.

    But I can't think of the right words. I fear that every possible choice of words might be parsed as a criticism. In my comment above I wanted express the view that you are ALL great, but that doesn't mean that there aren't important structural factors involved that make me wary of this proposal. This "no seriously it's really not about you" perspective seems to be an okay thing to voice in other threads, and it's generally expected to be read as "you don't need to have hurt feelings because it's honestly and really not about you", yes? But that doesn't seem to be an okay perspective to voice here? I sort of thought it was, but maybe I'm really off base here.

    So I don't know. I'm still not in favour of the proposal, but I can't think of how to express the substance of my worries without upsetting someone. So I think I'll bow out of the thread, because I really don't want to be a part of making a difficult thread worse than it already is.

    But I do want to at least say this:

    I'm genuinely not sure if my contribution upset anyone: no-one's mentioned my comment specifically, so hey, maybe it's not about me. But if it did, if my comments have come across as a criticising anyone at all, I am deeply sorry. I'm horrified by the thought that I've inadvertently contributed to a community member buttoning. That's not an okay thing to do at all, and I'm so sorry if I have.
    posted by langtonsant at 4:40 PM on March 2, 2016 [6 favorites]


    Jacquilynne, for me, you're an example of another circumstance that can't be controlled - I didn't twig that you and Jacqueline weren't the same user for a while, and now your qualities are conflated, and you are very very different people, and it's a lot easier and safer not to interact, much less bring you up in those cheering threads.

    MCMikeNamara and MikeMc are even more radically different people with all-too-similar usernames.

    It's a lot easier to keep track of poffin boffin and languagehat and dialetheia.
    posted by gingerest at 4:42 PM on March 2, 2016 [3 favorites]


    Oh good, other people get users mixed up too. It took me an embarrassingly long amount of time to realize maxsparber and maxwelton were different users. Also, a bunch of people expressing dismay at the in-group in this thread are people I thought were reasonably prominent users, fwiw. Like, if I actually recognize your username, I assume you have Made It, Metafilter-wise, because lacking visual icons a la LJ/DW/tumblr, I am terrible at correlating usernames to people. So if I recognize yours, it's because you post often enough that I've finally remembered you.

    Anyway, as someone who cannot even manage to keep up with/figure out the whole contacts thing, do not want a social subsite, do want icons. I know it's not gonna happen, but I wanted to put it out there.
    posted by yasaman at 5:21 PM on March 2, 2016 [2 favorites]


    Also, a bunch of people expressing dismay at the in-group in this thread are people I thought were reasonably prominent users, fwiw

    Just in case I'm lumped in there, it's completely possible to be a prominent/well-known user and also think we could stand to work on inclusion more.
    posted by Miko at 5:23 PM on March 2, 2016 [3 favorites]


    At least one user who had a big life event linked in MeTa has already buttoned over comments in this thread, unfortunately.

    What does "to button" mean in this context? I suspect it's not good.

    And so I apologize to all for whom the thread prompted hurt feelings and dismay. The thread was started in good faith and, as the post stated, with full awareness that people might nix the idea as not right for MetaFilter. I did not foresee the direction it would take. Stay in the love, all.
    posted by carmicha at 5:51 PM on March 2, 2016


    Maybe this is a sign that I *can't* put in the work, because I simply don't know what it looks like, but I have no idea how I could be any more present on MetaFilter without quitting the rest of my life, and I still feel like I'm not one of the well-known people of MetaFilter. I think it's weird to characterize the people who find themselves on the outside as having not done enough work to be recognized, as if all they need to do is plug at it for some extra hours of the day and the recognition will come.

    I don't know what the well-known MeFites are doing -- sharing more personal things? being funnier? favouriting more things? memailing each other? -- that makes them more well-known, but my feeling that I'm not in that group isn't because of a lack of overall effort on my part.

    jacquilynne


    What are the more well-known MeFites doing? Let me tell you.

    Flossing. They're Flossing. Now get to it.
    posted by bswinburn at 5:59 PM on March 2, 2016 [3 favorites]


    Wrong Jacqueline again or does jacquilynne also have an issue with forgetting to floss?

    (You should be so proud of me, bswinburn: Not only have I been flossing almost every day lately but I've also been exercising almost every day too!)
    posted by Jacqueline at 6:11 PM on March 2, 2016 [3 favorites]


    I smoke bidis with all the cool MeFites behind the bleachers after school, we're getting matching jackets and we're going to menace the townsfolk.
    posted by the uncomplicated soups of my childhood at 6:13 PM on March 2, 2016 [2 favorites]


    If people think of Jacqueline and Jacquilynne as good flossers my work is done.
    posted by bswinburn at 6:22 PM on March 2, 2016 [2 favorites]


    yasaman: "Anyway, as someone who cannot even manage to keep up with/figure out the whole contacts thing, do not want a social subsite, do want icons. I know it's not gonna happen, but I wanted to put it out there."

    Isn't there a Greasemonkey script that will pull the userpic from the profile and use it as an icon?
    posted by Chrysostom at 6:40 PM on March 2, 2016


    Carmicha: "button" - as in "push the big red button" or "button something shut" - is shorthand for closing one's account.
    posted by gingerest at 6:41 PM on March 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


    carmicha: "What does "to button" mean in this context? I suspect it's not good. "

    Button means "to close one's account."
    posted by Chrysostom at 6:41 PM on March 2, 2016


    "Button" means "to close one's account."

    Damn. I hope he/she/they return some day.
    posted by carmicha at 6:55 PM on March 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


    Isn't there a Greasemonkey script that will pull the userpic from the profile and use it as an icon?

    IS THERE? If so, someone pls link me, I need it. I know not everyone uses userpics, but it'd still be better than nothing.
    posted by yasaman at 6:56 PM on March 2, 2016


    Oh, here's the thread about it. Not sure if it still works, but worth a shot.
    posted by Chrysostom at 7:02 PM on March 2, 2016


    Alas, the link for the script is dead. Thank you anyway though!
    posted by yasaman at 7:32 PM on March 2, 2016


    I have no problem with forgetting to floss. You cannot forget to do something you never had any intention of doing.
    posted by jacquilynne at 7:34 PM on March 2, 2016 [7 favorites]


    I totally agree. At least one user who had a big life event linked in MeTa has already buttoned over comments in this thread, unfortunately.

    WOW. Terrible.
    posted by Going To Maine at 8:00 PM on March 2, 2016


    Have things cooled down enough for me to bring up something that might be tangentially related to the whole "cool kids" issue? Personally, I'm delighted that are many different modes and levels of social interaction available to MeFi users, and as a mostly background-y non-sharer, I appreciate both the BIG PERSONALITIES here and the quieter folks, and think the differences between them are mostly down to personal styles, and that talking about "cliques" is inappropriate.

    BUT…I've had the feeling that lately there are a lot more FPPs coming from Projects posts. And maybe I'm wrong, but it seems like a small group of people are promoting the Projects of a related small group of people.

    I haven't wanted to make a Meta about this because actually I've really enjoyed all these FPPs and I didn't want to make waves. But some small part of me is wondering if the combination of Projects and closer social interaction between members isn't opening up a back-channel way around the prohibition against posting work by friends.

    Has anyone else noticed this? Am I crazy or an awful person for bringing this up?
    posted by neroli at 8:34 PM on March 2, 2016 [6 favorites]


    Okay, here's an active link for the user pic script. However, I installed it, and while I can see where the user pic should be, it's not displaying them for me.

    Grumblebee appears to have gone dormant, alas, but perhaps some other scripting wise person could help.
    posted by Chrysostom at 8:44 PM on March 2, 2016


    I joined Metafilter like 16 years ago, at least in part because so many of the early members, Matt included, were people who were or were on their way to becoming Bigtime First Wave Bloggers, back when that was a new thing and meant something and the whole personal web was taking off and it was super exciting and I wanted to be a part of it. It also seemed like it was a very close-knit, cliquey thing, already in 2000, and that everybody already knew each other, offline and on. Matt's friends and friends-of-friends, basically. It felt weird and daunting to dive in, uninvited, but I knew I wanted to be part of whatever the hell was going on, clique or not.

    Over the years -- well, nearly decades now -- the issue has come up many times, and I think it's something that increasing numbers of people have had feelings hurt over as the site has grown. With an active userbase in the several thousands rather than the several tens or hundreds, it's just not possible to be friends with or even be recognized by everyone. Even if, like me and a smallish number of other folks, you've been around nearly forever.

    Which is to say that the concerns about cliques and cool kids aren't new, and they're valid, but I'm not sure it's the kind of thing that can ever go away. What we can do is try and be kind and friendly, as much as we are able, to community members old and new and personally-known and not, equally.

    Which is why the impetus I've seen in recent years towards making who-we-are-on-MeFi more contingent on who-we-are-IRL, or at least render the two more connected, has had me worried a little, because for my part, I am happy to be known here mostly by what I have to say, and less by the circumstances of my life. Which may be why after all these years I don't feel like a 'cool kid' by any stretch. Maybe a cranky uncle, best enjoyed sparingly, on holidays, at best. Others may see me differently (for better or worse), of course, but we rarely see ourselves as clearly as we'd like.

    But that is fine, all fine, for me. I'm totally OK with folks wanting to have hangout threads where they talk about the circumstances of their actual lives, even if I'm probably not going to take part all that much. As was mentioned upthread, we have a few multi-hundred-page threads on MefightClub and many smaller ones dedicated to exactly that sort of thing, sharing happiness and pain in equal measure, and I honestly think as many Community Member Good Feelin's may have grown out of those as from anything else over the years (even though, just as here, there are people who don't care for them).

    It's rough when you feel like you've poured yourself into being a positive member of a community but you haven't really earned commensurate social capital (to make it all sound very academic), and we all love to be loved and recognized, but the work, so to speak, is its own reward. Online community, passé an idea as that is, is at least partly about building something together out of nothing, and that still fascinates and thrills me.

    WOW. Terrible.

    It is indeed terrible when threads that get started with the best of intentions end in people quitting the site. Which speaks, perhaps, to my concern with mixing in our personal lives with our MeFi lives: the stakes, emotionally, can get amplified in the process. But, hey, that can be part of the fun, I guess, and the internet now is not, as it felt to me a generation ago, a place that is separate somehow, and that's probably for the best.
    posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:53 PM on March 2, 2016 [13 favorites]


    The key question is not are there more central users and connections, but rather what kinds of connections are being promoted through site design and moderation? Which comments get sidebarred? What life events get a meta post and what don't? In other words, are this patterns inclusive?

    On the design side, I love that the contacts sidebar thing tells me someone has X favorites on a comment, for example. But I wish it also showed me things like a comment that set off a really interesting discussion, say -- things that aren't captured or rewarded currently.
    posted by Dip Flash at 9:05 PM on March 2, 2016 [4 favorites]


    Just a point, buttoning isn't "quitting the site." A lot of people who disable their accounts do so temporarily. I'd actually love some stats on that, but it's beside the point. I've done it. Lots of people do it. Sometimes you need a break, and sometimes it's a hot incident that prompts it. It doesn't necessarily mean everything is on a horribly wrong track, or that the folks who disabled their accounts are never coming back and this was the last straw forever and ever; sometimes people just want to take themselves out of the multi-function interaction of being here for a while, and breathe. It is OK, and not something that has to be catastrophized.

    Online community, passé an idea as that is, is at least partly about building something together out of nothing, and that still fascinates and thrills me.

    Me, too. Those days are gone, but I think that's part of why I'm sort of "hey...wait..." before we go all-in warm fuzzy IRL life exchange here. Is there really not a place apart that we can make? Maybe not, and I'm totally on the fence...communities are communities, and behave by the rules of communities, whether or not they form online. There was probably never a point at which they weren't bound by these rules of interchange, but for a while, those rules were on the back burner as we explored a less defined space. Now, by virtue of the rise of social media and its expectations, we exist not in a secret ether where probabilities of interchange are upended, but in a regular human network that more closely replicates those of the actual day-to-day world. It's both better and worse than the way it was. We just have to keep adapting. I think when it comes down to it, my goals of being "more inclusive" are some attempt to preserve, on a values level, the 1995 or 1998 or 2002-era "login with your handle, do what you will and harm none" ethos.
    posted by Miko at 9:09 PM on March 2, 2016 [5 favorites]


    The key question is not are there more central users and connections, but rather what kinds of connections are being promoted through site design and moderation? Which comments get sidebarred? What life events get a meta post and what don't? In other words, are this patterns inclusive?

    MeFi's Own Derek Powazek notwithstanding, I'm not sure I agree. Although I am a firm believer in the importance of design (or have become one over the years, anyway) in supporting community, I am also pretty strongly of the opinion that Human Stuff like this can't really be done in a top-down way. There's a special sauce to all of it, and after thinking about it a lot for all these years, and running a moderately successful web community myself, I still don't know what goes in to the recipe, exactly.

    Which isn't to say tools can't be made better, or principles of good community membership clarified and underlined, and all that sort of stuff. But messing with a winning formula too much can be just as dangerous as not changing or adapting at all. Better, I think, in general, is to give users tools and let them decide how to use them.
    posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:16 PM on March 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


    give users tools and let them decide how to use them.

    Sounds great - so, we were given favorites and contacts. Is that working to achieve the desired ends? Or just reifying social hierarchies? What's working and not working w/r/t including the widest range of great viewpoints/ideas/personas?
    posted by Miko at 9:20 PM on March 2, 2016 [2 favorites]


    Those are excellent questions, but they are ones that I have no strong opinions about. I'm sure others do!

    [Perhaps even in a separate thread running into the thousand-plus comments resulting in one or more people closing their accounts amid much gnashing of teeth and rending of garments and generalized stress... ;-)]
    posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:25 PM on March 2, 2016 [3 favorites]


    It's sort of kicking the ball down the road, but it's one option. I would say it's probably a good option since I don't get the sense this thread is getting very wide participation at all. It's probably best not to generalize from it too much.
    posted by Miko at 9:44 PM on March 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


    Miko: "Just a point, buttoning isn't "quitting the site." A lot of people who disable their accounts do so temporarily. "

    This is terribly pedantic of me, but I don't think anyone said buttoning meant quitting the site. It was stated that buttoning means "closing your account." This is correct - you literally click a link titled "Close Your Account".

    One can, of course, request that your account be re-opened. But it's certainly closed until then.
    posted by Chrysostom at 9:52 PM on March 2, 2016 [2 favorites]


    In this thread jacquilynne breaks my heart.
    posted by bswinburn at 11:20 PM on March 2, 2016 [3 favorites]


    Neroli - I don't think this can be *that* big a problem, because you can only post to Projects once a month, and it is intended as "a springboard for posts to the main MetaFilter site, if a member decides it's a project worth sharing there."

    I wonder how much is that there are some people who put their stuff into Projects and are also on sites on the web that are popular with MeFites. Like, as an example (NOT A CALLOUT) The Whelk has had a lot of FPPs, but it's partly because of Projects and partly because he sells pieces to The Toast, a site that might as well have Friend of MetaFilter bannered across the top, and to The Awl. He's putting his stuff with those sites into Projects (which is acceptable/accepted use - international bestselling author and MeFi's Own Charles Stross, subject of 61 FPPs, rather sweetly made his single Projects post about his last Laundry Files book) but I think you're seeing his name a lot because his stuff is popular, not because his friends are promoting him.

    Now, I do suspect that the 323 people who have him on their Contacts lists are seeing him put stuff into Projects and clicking over, but I don't think that's actually against the spirit or the letter of the FPP rules - I can put anyone whose activity interests me onto my Contact list, they don't have to be my friend.
    posted by gingerest at 12:00 AM on March 3, 2016 [4 favorites]


    In this thread jacquilynne breaks my heart.

    You're not my dental hygienist, are you?

    Because every time I see her, we have the same 3 minute conversation in which she asks me to commit to flossing, I tell her that I cannot commit to flossing, because I know I won't actually do it, and I prefer not to lie, and then she asks me again, and I demur again, and then she asks me while looking like a sad puppy dog, and I just lie to her sad puppy face to make her feel better and also so I can end the conversation and leave the dentist, which is not exactly my favourite place on Earth. And I know that the sad puppy knows I am lying, but the sad puppy would rather have my lies than the truth that made her sad in the first place.
    posted by jacquilynne at 12:06 AM on March 3, 2016 [9 favorites]


    Because every time I see her, we have the same 3 minute conversation in which she asks me to commit to flossing,

    Is her name Pat by any chance? Because my former hygienist did the same thing, and I would do the exact same thing you do. But... eventually I started buying those plastic flosser things and using them at night while I watch TV. Now my formerly mutant gums are clean and shiny. You could eat off them!

    Sadly, though, Pat moved away so she is unaware of my becoming a flossing master. My current hygienist is super proud of me though and always compliments me on my flossing.

    Hey... look, we're fostering community!
    posted by bondcliff at 6:01 AM on March 3, 2016 [8 favorites]


    This is terribly pedantic of me, but I don't think anyone said buttoning meant quitting the site.

    That was in response to stavros':

    It is indeed terrible when threads that get started with the best of intentions end in people quitting the site

    As I said, done it myself, so I know it closes your account, but that you can reopen it with an email. My point was just that, as used in, practice it's at least some of the time not a permanent break, but a self-imposed time-out.
    posted by Miko at 6:16 AM on March 3, 2016 [2 favorites]


    More like flosstering community, amiright?
    posted by benito.strauss at 7:29 AM on March 3, 2016 [18 favorites]


    You know, it's people like you what cause unrest.
    posted by Etrigan at 7:41 AM on March 3, 2016 [5 favorites]


    The more I think about it, the more ifds,sn9's bar analogy makes some sense. (I've spent no small amount of my life working & people-watching in bars.)

    You've got regulars who show up pretty much every day, you've got regulars who show up a couple of times a week, you've got semi-regulars who drop in every so often, you've got the very irregular who drops in rarely, and over time people's "regular" status can ebb and flow. And there can be different definitions of "regular" in different contexts at the same bar - are you a regular that stops in for a couple of quick ones after work, or are you a regular that's at all the ska and skate-punk shows? Some of the regulars or irregulars know each other outside of the bar (even though they may have met at the bar) so sometimes you'll pick up bits of conversations between people that are referencing things that happened outside the bar. All of these people have different personalities, and some personalities will lend themselves to everyone yelling "NORM!!" when they walk in, others will get a quiet nod and wave, others will just join into the various conversations with no direct acknowledgement. You don't have to be a current regular to get the "NORM!!" when you walk in, either. Some people will dominate conversations, some people get everyone to laugh at their jokes and snark, some will quietly nod along, or interject an occasional bon mot or interesting point.

    But on the internet, no-one can see you hanging out and listening and nodding along (favorites can maybe kinda sorta serve as a vague indicator of this, as in if someone favorite as comment of mine, I know they've read it, even if they don't say anything in thread.) So we're missing a possibly-important element of self-analyzing our social status - if I go hang out in a bar 3 times a week, I'm pretty confident that it wouldn't take long before the other regulars and staff recognize me as a "regular" even if I don't say much or have a bunch of people laugh at my jokes or whatever. If I were to stop going to that bar for two weeks and then came back, it's likely someone would notice and say something. If I spend a week here reading things but don't have anything to say, I'm "absent" in a way I wouldn't be in MeatSpace, even though I'm still "here." And mostly I have no idea if anyone notices my "absence" or not.

    All of which is to say that while I think it's sad that people are feeling like outsiders (and I'm also surprised at who feels like an outsider - many of the people expressing said feelings I would absolutely consider "regular MeFites"), it would, I think, be worth examining whether part of the reason they feel like outsiders is because they're looking for indicators of their social status that they're not going to get here due to the nature of the medium. And/or looking for indicators (everyone yells "NORM!!") that they won't get because of the vagaries of human interactions.
    posted by soundguy99 at 8:20 AM on March 3, 2016 [5 favorites]


    A bit late to the party, but I really don't think there is a need for this on MetaFilter proper that isn't met by any number of external tools, many of which have been discussed already. It seems to be working -- I'm in no way a well-known/popular user, but I have friendships with quite a few other users that extend off-site through many of those tools, and meetups. I don't really feel the need to broadcast stuff I'm up to outside that community of people I already know. I don't really want someone I have not already established a reciprocal friendship with to find out about my life.

    "To Button" means to hit the "Deactivate account" button -- the account can still be reactivated w/o paying $5 again, but it requires a conversation via email with a moderator.
    posted by Alterscape at 8:39 AM on March 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


    Yes, cortex, I am trying to make a broader point. I have had intro to psychology, social psychology, a class on negotiation and conflict management, training with a Fortune 500 company, numerous free business classes though chambers of commerce, etc. And everything I have ever read or been taught from a good source indicates to me that a) shit runs downhill and b) "do as I say, not as I do" is almost always an incredibly broken social model.

    I thought I stated that clearly above when I said this:

    , if you have a group of popular people and they are allowed to do things that would get other people in trouble for emulating, a) that is the essence of "privilege" and b) it makes it damn hard for someone who isn't being warmly welcomed to figure out how the hell to fit in.

    Because if you get punished for doing things that other people get pats on the head for, it makes it incredibly hard to figure out what kinds of behaviors are acceptable.


    It would be nice if other people would stop claiming that I am trying to make things about me. I have made every effort to comply with what I have been told I need to do differently. Pro tip as a mom who raised two special needs kids: If you really want your problem kids to behave better, it helps to give them credit for effort and improvement and not keep throwing it their face that they used to be worse, so we still don't trust you.
    posted by Michele in California at 11:24 AM on March 3, 2016 [2 favorites]


    MiC, I think whatever you're feeling about your own treatment here is probably something to take up with us privately? I don't want to get into a lengthy public examination of your behavior here. I don't think that's good for anybody.
    posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 11:33 AM on March 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


    MiC - I think the reason people claim you make things about you is neatly illustrated in your previous comment. - in addition to three lines explaining the classes and jobs you've had, you also use "I" eleven times. I know people have attempted to explain this to you before, and clearly failed, and I am unlikely to be successful either, but .. can't hurt to try?
    posted by dotgirl at 11:34 AM on March 3, 2016 [2 favorites]


    DG, I sincerely appreciate you trying. But it would be far more helpful if people would actually focus on the points I try to make and engage those. There seems to be zero means to get that outcome.

    LM, I emailed cortex yesterday. He never replied.

    But I will again step away from the thread. I also sincerely do not want this to become about me. But there seems to be no acceptable way for me to take off the dunce cap and participate like just any member. And that isn't something I have 100% control over.
    posted by Michele in California at 11:39 AM on March 3, 2016


    LM, I emailed cortex yesterday. He never replied.

    You wrote me personally with a copy of a comment you were telling me you weren't going to post, literally prefaced with "You have no obligation to reply" and then a bunch of reiteration of stuff you and I have been over a bunch before. I share LM's sentiment that digging into this in here isn't going to help anything.
    posted by cortex (staff) at 11:53 AM on March 3, 2016 [7 favorites]


    Michele in California: "But there seems to be no acceptable way for me to take off the dunce cap and participate like just any member."

    Brand New Day?
    posted by Chrysostom at 12:00 PM on March 3, 2016 [2 favorites]


    When you say "what am I doing wrong, you people need to tell me, other people do the same thing" and then someone tells you what you are doing wrong, they are engaging with your point.

    Here is the other piece - the way in which it is different from how other people talk about stuff is that from reading your comments it isn't always clear what the connection is to the topic at hand, which means that, from the reader's side, it looks like talking about yourself for its own sake. It isn't that it isn't okay to talk about one's sex life, it is just sometimes not apparent why you're bringing it up.
    posted by gingerest at 12:03 PM on March 3, 2016 [6 favorites]


    Fwiw, I feel like if we're talking about popular people or in-groups or regulars or whatever then we have to acknowledge that at least a couple of people get a bit of a harder time here than others, rather than just being ignored, and I feel like MiC is one of them. Tempers have frayed a few times in the thread and some people have said things that others might find debatable but cortex replied to her comment quite strongly (imo) in a way that I'm not sure he would have replied to someone else. I realise that sometimes people have history with each other and all of that and none of it is my business. It just made me uncomfortable to see.

    I think MiC has valuable contributions here and works hard to explain herself, and I do think when "good" comments are ignored (or, to be fair, quietly accepted) but "bad" comments are called out swiftly then a person could get very demotivated or defensive very quickly. That's not to make this about her (and sorry MiC if it feels like that). It's just that a lot of this discussion has referenced high school dynamics, and it's worth remembering when we're trying not to be exclusionary or make people feel left out that we also shouldn't be ok with letting a couple of kids in the class take the brunt of all the negative attention. If you feel you have no power or value somewhere it can be tempting to think "but at least I'm not them" and that is also destructive to a community.
    posted by billiebee at 12:35 PM on March 3, 2016 [14 favorites]


    It would be nice if other people would stop claiming that I am trying to make things about me.

    Well - let's look at your most recent comment.

    I have had intro to psychology, social psychology, a class on negotiation and conflict management, training with a Fortune 500 company, numerous free business classes though chambers of commerce, etc. And everything I have ever read or been taught from a good source indicates to me that a) shit runs downhill and b) "do as I say, not as I do" is almost always an incredibly broken social model.

    The first forty-six words of a sixty-nine word statement were establishing where you were coming from. Twenty-three words were content.

    This is a thing I notice about your comments - it isn't that you overshare, it's that you inject your experience as a core element in your point, which makes it really difficult to engage with you without engaging with...you.
    posted by scrittore at 12:42 PM on March 3, 2016


    oh god please don't add the MiC show to this thread people
    posted by advil at 12:49 PM on March 3, 2016


    billiebee, you have a wonderful caring impulse and I'm taking your feedback. I really don't want to get into the particular case of MiC in here; happy to talk with anyone privately about it.
    posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 12:52 PM on March 3, 2016


    Is this thread still productive?

    We've gotten so far away from the original question and it just seems to have resulted in hurt feelings, "buttoning," and high mod intervention. As I stated above, I believe the consensus on the original question is clear: a) no new subsite geared towards anything ressmbling social media-style interactions; b) occasional MeTa update threads are OK, and c) users seeking more social media-style interactions should check out MetaChat, MeFightClub and their ilk. No one has really questioned that interpretation.

    Perhaps it's time for the thread to be closed down.
    posted by carmicha at 2:18 PM on March 3, 2016 [6 favorites]


    I'm happy to do that if you feel like things have run their course. I'll close this up and folks can touch base with us if they have further suggestions e.g. for podcast guests, yes, yes.
    posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 2:19 PM on March 3, 2016 [3 favorites]


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