A whale of a thread April 3, 2016 10:36 AM   Subscribe

I'm trying to follow the 4000+ comment election thread, and it's getting really difficult. Links are not where they look like they are, lines of text are duplicated and overwritten. Now, in addition to the jumping-links behavior, I'm having trouble scrolling. The page will just sit there as I wheel, then jump a couple of screens, so I have to go back, which also doesn't go smoothly. It's becoming unusable.

I had an email exchange with pb (including screencaps) about the displaced-links thing when it was happening on an earlier big thread, but didn't realize that the size of the thread was the cause. pb couldn't see it happening. Of course, the behavior stopped when a new thread started.

If there isn't a fix for this, can we get a new election thread, please?
posted by Kirth Gerson to Bugs at 10:36 AM (160 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

Long-ass threads tend to degrade performance a lot, often in device-dependent ways, yeah. I haven't been able to reproduce the displaced-link thing either on any of my machines, but that doesn't tell us anything other than we can't reproduce it.

A new catch-all thread seems like an encroaching inevitability, and to the extent that we've been corralling a fair amount of election-adjacent stuff into the current one it's pretty understandable if someone wants to figure out a basis for a new one to take that strain off.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:40 AM on April 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


That said, I'd also on that front like to talk more generally about how election threads have been going, partly because I'd like the end result of a new thread starting up to be something other than "let's just have the exact same thing happen again but without the annoying thread lagginess".

Which: we've had to do a lot of reminding folks to ratchet it down with, essentially, proxy fights between hardcore pro-candidate or anti-candidate groups. We've had to do too much of it. I feel like there's a couple different things in play:

1. Folks want to talk about the state and progress and horse-race aspects of the election.
2. Folks feel passionate about one or another candidate or the behavior of other folks re: some candidate and want a place to express that.

And the thing is, both of those things are understandable. And in a generic "the world is a big place that can accommodate lots of kinds of conversation" sense, both of those things are totally legit as well.

But, in threads about the election, the Dem primary process in particular, thing 1 is generally fine and interesting election-centric chatter when it's happening, and thing 2 is frequently pretty fuckin' lousy and makes me want to just ban election threads entirely.

What I would like to see is people, in the current thread and in future threads, making way more of an effort to silo off thing 2 as not what a discussion thread on MeFi is particularly for. I'd like to see:

- people not hollering at each other for difference in candidate preference
- people not descending to eye-rolling sarcasm about what Other People Will Say
- people not reacting to support for one candidate as an implicit attack on another
- people not redirecting threads back to their personal voting preferences or deal-breaker criteria or etc
- people not resorting to figleaf passive-aggressive restatements of any of the above as if that somehow makes it not obnoxious behavior

In tandem with that, these have also been long and unrelentlingly busy threads in part because there's a handful of folks who are being especially voluminous or aggressive or repetitive, and it's doing a few things that aren't great: blowing up comment counts, crowding out other voices, and setting a needlessly combative/antagonistic tone that just feeds back into all the problems above.

If you are someone who has been riding hard in election threads, it'd be good to stop and sort of reassess your participation there and look at throttling it back. If you are someone who we end up contacting directly about it, obviously doubly so, and we may start doing so more aggressively at this point if it's a problem that doesn't fix itself. But I'd rather it did, and as much as there's been some not-great behavior recurring in these threads it's not something I generally associate with folks who have some fundamental impulse-control problem in normal circumstances so there's very definitely something about the electoral context driving it and it's very definitely something basically everyone involved should be able to revert themselves on.

Couple hundred days left till this election is over. I, and the whole moderation team, would like to get through it sane and without strangling anybody and that's gonna require some help from y'all.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:54 AM on April 3, 2016 [109 favorites]


The election thread you follow is the election thread you deserve.
posted by MoonOrb at 11:00 AM on April 3, 2016 [8 favorites]


How about a thread on the history and practice of delegate rules. Delegate stories. Delegate rules. Delegate tampering. Delegate SCOUS issues. Delegate humor.
posted by sammyo at 11:14 AM on April 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


without strangling anybody

So, the IRL meetups just got way more interesting...
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:22 AM on April 3, 2016 [7 favorites]


there has been so much interesting stuff in the threads! i learned a lot about nevada caucuses last night, for instance (and think i could have learned more if it didn't get sidelined by conversations of conspiracies). it's such a bummer when 4-6 people just shout at each other and take things in the worst ways and aggressively hunker down. i'd love a new thread because, yeah, that one is getting difficult technically, but i'd also love one where it was a lot more of the interesting stuff and a lot less of the fighting and cherrypicked quoting and flat out ire between the dem candidate supporters/haters.
posted by nadawi at 11:34 AM on April 3, 2016 [8 favorites]


there's an election coming up?!
posted by chavenet at 11:40 AM on April 3, 2016 [6 favorites]


I have a half-finished one I was going to finish and put up early on tuesday morn, to cover the primaries then and in the next few weeks. I'll finish it now and make it live within the hour, unless someone else posts such a erm post. It'll be a similar style to the last few.
posted by Wordshore at 11:42 AM on April 3, 2016 [2 favorites]


I am totally in favor of aggressive moderation if these people won't knock it off on their own. The super partisan sniping is boring as hell, redundant to the entire rest of the Internet, and just creates a lot of text for me to scroll past. The last week or so has been especially lame. Although I'm not a big contributor, I'm an extremely avid follower of these threads, and the degradation of content has been frustrating. Not to mention really tone deaf and inconsiderate. You're not persuading anyone, just annoying the crap out of them.
posted by HotToddy at 11:42 AM on April 3, 2016 [32 favorites]


I have a half-finished one I was going to finish and put up early on tuesday morn, to cover the primaries then and in the next few weeks. I'll finish it now and make it live within the hour, unless someone else posts such a erm post. It'll be a similar style to the last few.

...except I can't post for another 2 hours 23 minutes due to doing an FPP yesterday. Gah! So basically I'll make a new US election post live in about 2 and a half hours unless someone else posts one beforehand.
posted by Wordshore at 11:45 AM on April 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


I installed the greasemonkey script that filters posts by favorites. I'd always avoided doing that in the past, but I can't read 4000 comments if I want to meet my obligations IRL, and if 3000 of them are going to be anti-Bernie or anti-Hillary screeds, I don't really want to. (My self-imposed rule is to never comment in posts where I haven't read all the other comments, so I guess that's my self-justification.)
posted by double block and bleed at 12:04 PM on April 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


I wonder if keeping election related things concentrated in one thread might not be contributing to the conversational issues. If people aren't supposed to start new election threads to talk about different aspects of the elections, the threads where they are allowed to talk about them are inevitably going to be wide-ranging and difficult to control. Perhaps having half a dozen more focused threads would actually create less space for random sniping, because it wouldn't be on topic for any of those threads.

Alternately, it might just cause people to snipe at each other in 5 different threads.
posted by jacquilynne at 12:05 PM on April 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


Or five 4000 comment posts.
posted by double block and bleed at 12:06 PM on April 3, 2016


I wonder if keeping election related things concentrated in one thread might not be contributing to the conversational issues.

It is probably a contributing factor, and so is one of the downsides of keeping things corralled. However, we've seen, indeed, the same dynamics play out when there's a larger number of concurrent threads, spread across all those threads, which is no less of a pain to moderate and more of a "jesus, I can't get away from this stuff" turnoff for folks not coming to MetaFilter specifically for endless US electioneering.

Generally I see the problems that have come up in conversation to be stuff that mostly comes down to folks not making the active choice to control their impulses well, regardless of which thread or how many threads there are in play. More threads won't solve that, and neither will fewer; people making the effort to be more restrained and thoughtful participants will solve it.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:11 PM on April 3, 2016 [4 favorites]


"Alternately, it might just cause people to snipe at each other in 5 different threads."

This is the thing that happens, yes, and sometimes when you tell particular combatants to quit it in one thread, they move right on to another thread and continue the same argument there, only now they're even madder because they had stuff deleted.

Like cortex said, it's an impulse control problem (IMO, by a small number of people). More threads is more places to be impulsive. The other issue is that when we've had specific-topic election-related threads this election cycle, trying to discuss one small area of the election, some people inevitably wanted to talk about a) their pet political topic or candidate regardless of its relation to the specific topic or b) argue about politics in general, regardless of the specific topic. So as a mod you spend 8 hours deleting off-topic comments and, seconds later, fielding angry e-mails about how moderation is out of control and it really seems like a thread about a local referendum on water usage in rural Colorado is ACTUALLY about Bernie and Hillary and you are a fascist jerk $candidate-hater for not understanding that. (And then, frequently, carry that vitriol into the general politics thread and ramp up the anger in that thread.) It's astonishingly wearing, I go to bed with a tension headache after sitting on threads like that all shift.
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 12:28 PM on April 3, 2016 [8 favorites]


Do mods get combat pay during election cycles? Or at least all the company-provided vodka and painkillers they want?
posted by easily confused at 12:34 PM on April 3, 2016 [3 favorites]


ElectionFilter: It's astonishingly wearing
posted by billiebee at 12:35 PM on April 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


I am totally in favor of aggressive moderation if these people won't knock it off

I am totally in favor of passive-aggressive moderation.
posted by univac at 12:38 PM on April 3, 2016 [2 favorites]


I'm totally in favour of only moderate passive-aggressiveness.
posted by Namlit at 1:00 PM on April 3, 2016 [2 favorites]


I'm totally in favo(u)r of moderately aggressive passion.
posted by newpotato at 1:20 PM on April 3, 2016 [4 favorites]


Heh I'm only moderately in favor of my pretty darn passive-aggressive Britt'tish autocorrect-gadget.
posted by Namlit at 1:37 PM on April 3, 2016


A new election thread is live.
posted by Wordshore at 2:11 PM on April 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


COM-MENT LIMITS! COM-MENT LIMITS! COM-MENT LIMITS!
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 2:13 PM on April 3, 2016 [2 favorites]


On the six main (actual voting and caucusing) election threads alone, there has been 17,523 comments since the first one opened on February 1st. That's an average of about 278 comments a day. If this average kept up to the election, we're looking at another 60,635 comments on main election posts alone to come.
posted by Wordshore at 2:24 PM on April 3, 2016 [10 favorites]


One country's inability to do democracy right is hardly best of the web.
posted by scruss at 2:25 PM on April 3, 2016 [7 favorites]


It seems like fewer and fewer people are actively participating in the 4000+ comment thread as time goes on. I don't know if that's because it's an old thread, or if people are just getting burned out.
posted by teponaztli at 2:33 PM on April 3, 2016


I've been meaning to ask this question--Cortex, it seems like lately Metafilter is getting more and more okay with saying "we don't want people passionately disagreeing on Metafilter."

Is that the direction you'd like? I can understand the sentiment but realistically, I can count on one hand the number of threads where people didn't disagree passionately that were useful to me. Meanwhile the vast majority of threads in which I have genuinely learned and grown had people passionately disagreeing in them and the community hashing things out. Because that's what learning looks like. And to be clear that's not a partisan jab on my part, I've posted in nearly none of those threads I'm talking about. In fact my read threads to post reply ratio is probably quite far over over 100:1.

And it's certainly possible I'm just not seeing lots of deleted things you are, and if that's the case, then I guess I can't apprehend all the data. But I just can't see how

"2. Folks feel passionate about one or another candidate or the behavior of other folks re: some candidate and want a place to express that.

=

"thing 2 is frequently pretty fuckin' lousy and makes me want to just ban election threads entirely."

I mean, that's what people having actual opinions about things looks like, isn't it? Would we really rather the classic sideways punny low-substance snark sniping to people actually talking about things they feel in some capacity about? I'm curious if this isn't a result of having flag-driven moderation in general. It's a flawed model because people are far, far more likely to flag comments they disagree with, all other things being equal, leading to points of disagreement being far more likely to aggregate flags and seem like a "problem."

I've been sitting on that question for the last three years or so, but I was a little surprised to see you more or less condense things down to "people passionately disagreeing = frequently pretty fuckin' lousy." I mean, it's problematic, but that's more or less the point of human interaction, isn't it? Do we want Metafilter to be "the best of the web we agree on"?
posted by Phyltre at 2:34 PM on April 3, 2016 [7 favorites]


I'm in favor of doughnuts
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:36 PM on April 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


Meanwhile the vast majority of threads in which I have genuinely learned and grown had people passionately disagreeing in them and the community hashing things out. Because that's what learning looks like.

I think this notion has been discussed previously, but for example the Emotional Labor Thread™ had very little passionate disagreeing or that kind of back-and-forth that you seem to be about, and yet several people have attested to having learned a great deal from it. Which is not to say that I think passionate disagreement should be viewed as a bad thing, but it's also, I think, provably incorrect to posit that it's necessary for good & edifying conversation.
posted by beerperson at 2:38 PM on April 3, 2016 [14 favorites]


It seems like fewer and fewer people are actively participating in the 4000+ comment thread as time goes on. I don't know if that's because it's an old thread, or if people are just getting burned out.

I tried to check the 4,000+ comment thread for a few things just now while finishing the new election post, and it was near-impossible. In fact I got a database time-out or something like that at one point.

It's possible that, as many of the comments within are short (and sometimes not-so-short) essays, in terms of sheer characters/volume/whatevs, it had become (as the poster of this Meta indicates) just too unwieldy to use for an increasing number of people. I'd be curious as to the Kb size compared to all other MetaFilter threads in history.
posted by Wordshore at 2:39 PM on April 3, 2016


Yeah, I hadn't thought about technical problems keeping people away. I haven't had any trouble loading the thread, which is weird because I'm using a not-great browser (Opera) on a shitty 6 year old computer that takes 20 minutes to boot. Who knows.

Anyway, I've stopped being really interested in talking about politics - with anyone, not just on this site - so I'm just wondering if other people have been feeling the same way, like if this has just been a grueling election season or what.
posted by teponaztli at 2:42 PM on April 3, 2016 [3 favorites]


I've been sitting on that question for the last three years or so, but I was a little surprised to see you more or less condense things down to "people passionately disagreeing = frequently pretty fuckin' lousy." I mean, it's problematic, but that's more or less the point of human interaction, isn't it? Do we want Metafilter to be "the best of the web we agree on"?


Not to speak for the mods, but I imagine there's a difference between passionate disagreement and passionate disagreement that contains a level of vitriol and/or personal attack that the mods need to step in and do something about. It's not exactly surprising if a thread that is more likely to contain the former, is also more likely to contain the latter, is it? hence the "frequently" in "thing 2 is frequently pretty fuckin' lousy" as in not always, but often enough that when you're dealing with a situation of limited resources as far as moderation goes, it's a problem.
posted by juv3nal at 2:43 PM on April 3, 2016 [6 favorites]


"jesus, I can't get away from this stuff" turnoff for folks not coming to MetaFilter specifically for endless US electioneering.


QFT. I'm an American, I'll be voting in this shitshow of an election, and I absolutely am already tired of being confronted with constant US election talk. Living in another country helps but since I'm a frequent poster here on MeFi, it really does become obvious this is a very US-centric site once election season rolls around. (This still happens in election threads for other countries where it stops being about the country in question and about the US again. Sigh.)
posted by Kitteh at 2:43 PM on April 3, 2016 [9 favorites]


Phyltre, scare quoting interpretations is a lousy convention to use - none of those statements you've put in quotes
are at all resonant with the more nuanced moderation model that occurs here.

I can understand the sentiment but realistically, I can count on one hand the number of threads where people didn't disagree passionately that were useful to me.

C'mon. There are fewer than five threads that you've learned something useful from a link or a particularly well-informed comment? You must read a different MetaFilter than I.

Meanwhile the vast majority of threads in which I have genuinely learned and grown had people passionately disagreeing in them and the community hashing things out. Because that's what learning looks like.

That's not what learning looks like.

Learning occurs when people share with one another - share stories, statistics, experiences, etc. Sharing occurs in many forms other than passionate disagreement, which to me is one of the reasons MetaFilter's original goal of being about the shared content and not primarily about the discussion was the bedrock for a more enlightened conversation - there's more here than "I am right and you are wrong."
posted by scrittore at 2:47 PM on April 3, 2016 [15 favorites]


"Meanwhile the vast majority of threads in which I have genuinely learned and grown had people passionately disagreeing in them and the community hashing things out. Because that's what learning looks like."

That's fine the first time, or the first ten times, but when you've got someone restating their same point, passionately, for the 300th time, nobody's learning anything new; the thread is just being drowned by one or two or five posters who are determined to keep repeating the same point over and over and over until they have the last word. That ceases to be what learning looks like and becomes a lot more like what refereeing a disagreement between my 6- and 4-year-olds looks like. "Is not!" "Is too!" "Is not!" "Is too!" x 300.

Also, "Your candidate sucks, my candidate is awesome!" is really the lowest common denominator of election "passionate disagreement." We're having a lot of complaints from members who are having interesting, productive, passionate disagreements about, say, the utility of the caucus system who are being drowned out by people who jump in and say, "But just so you know, my candidate was in the caucus, and my candidate is awesome and yours sucks," and tries to forcibly wrench the thread back to Sanders/Clinton sniping.

"Not to speak for the mods, but I imagine there's a difference between passionate disagreement and passionate disagreement that contains a level of vitriol and/or personal attack that the mods need to step in and do something about"

Definitely, and part of what you're mostly not seeing (because we're trying to delete it quickly) is when people argue for a while about whose candidate is better, passions rise, and then one calls the other a Nazi (or something similarly nasty). OVER AND OVER AGAIN. Like clockwork. I'm near the end of my shift for today now and I'm pretty tense and wound up -- my shoulders are up to my ears at this point -- just because of the violence of the language, the intensity of the anger, and the vitriol that some posters bring to these threads. The reason you're seeing a relatively (relatively) civil conversation that's being intensively moderated -- maybe to your eyes too intensively moderated -- is because the intensive moderation is nuking the bottom-of-the-barrel flamewar behavior.
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 2:54 PM on April 3, 2016 [38 favorites]


it seems like lately Metafilter is getting more and more okay with saying "we don't want people passionately disagreeing on Metafilter."

I disagree, passionately, with your imputation here.

People have always been allowed to disagree here in mefi, and I've done my fair share of it myself. What absolutely sucks is aggressive bullying, inability to let topics of go, a high school debate team "winner takes all" mentality, dominating threads with comments and comments, wild exaggeration, and minimising other people's voices.

You may not view aggressive thread bullshit as bullying or harassment, but it is, and it's super damaging to the community and its members. If that is the only way you feel you can truly disagree with someone, back to rhetoric school with you, I say.
posted by smoke at 2:56 PM on April 3, 2016 [16 favorites]


PS, it's a hell of an election cycle to be starting on as a new mod, quite the baptism by fire.
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 2:57 PM on April 3, 2016 [32 favorites]


You are doing great Eyebrows!
posted by pearlybob at 3:07 PM on April 3, 2016 [8 favorites]


We're having a lot of complaints from members who are having interesting, productive, passionate disagreements about, say, the utility of the caucus system who are being drowned out by people who jump in and say, "But just so you know, my candidate was in the caucus, and my candidate is awesome and yours sucks," and tries to forcibly wrench the thread back to Sanders/Clinton sniping.

I hadn't even thought to make a complaint about it, but yes, the constant repetition got old a while back and isn't improving. And I'm seeing this after moderation happens and the worst is deleted. There is a lot that is interesting to say, or to read, about this election cycle, but back and forth between partisans who are not listening to each other is not interesting at all.

I haven't been paying enough attention to say with certainty, but at any given moment it seems like it is a small number of people who are engaging in this. So if comment deletions and warnings aren't producing behavior change, maybe a few short time-outs might help, or perhaps there are other, better tools available.
posted by Dip Flash at 3:11 PM on April 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


I've been meaning to ask this question--Cortex, it seems like lately Metafilter is getting more and more okay with saying "we don't want people passionately disagreeing on Metafilter."

That's not really where I'm coming from. I'd add a key word to the end of that framing: we don't want people passionately disagreeing badly. It's when it is going badly that it's a problem—passionate disagreement can be difficult but worth mediating when folks are otherwise keeping in check the ways in which their passion and disagreement affect the conversation and the space around them, but when it goes sideways you stack up bad feelings and resentment and escalating rhetoric fast and it can be hard to systemically unfuck the whole situation even when we manage to put out the immediate fire.

Carrying a strongly held position or activist stance into a conversation isn't a fundamentally bad thing, and can be very much a good thing sometimes. But any given person's predisposition there doesn't change the fact that MetaFilter is a general space with lots of people who mostly didn't come here for a fight. And so patterns of behavior that seem to regularly turn into a fight, and alienate everybody not in the mood for an increasingly heated scrap, are a problem. Not because disagreement is bad, or because passion is bad, but because individual people privileging their own sense of passionate disagreement over an awareness of the effect they're having on a space much larger than themselves is a bad deal.

I'm curious if this isn't a result of having flag-driven moderation in general.

In the case of the election threads, flagging becomes a more secondary concern than it otherwise would be, and most of what I've said up thread is specifically about election threads over the last several months. It's secondary because we have to watch these things start to finish because they're such established problems, and thus most of the time when shit gets going in one of them we see it regardless of whether and when it gets flagged.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:11 PM on April 3, 2016 [6 favorites]


I'm going to keep following the old thread and pretend that everyone suddenly decided to stop talking about the US elections.
posted by dazed_one at 3:27 PM on April 3, 2016 [9 favorites]


All of this is why I'm staying far, far, far away from the election megathreads.

Years ago I would've proudly said that Metafilter does election discussion better than almost anywhere on the internet. Interesting information and analysis up front, petty sniping kept to a minimum. It seems like there are just a few bad actors who have managed to screw that up. It's very unfortunate, but it's possible for a small number of people to absolute dominate threads with their useless, noisy horseshit (no need to mince words at this point), ruining the experience for everyone.
posted by naju at 3:38 PM on April 3, 2016 [7 favorites]


And I have to say, the idea that the useless shouting and stanning for your candidate ad nauseum is the only way productive discussion happens? That's some kind of adversarial boxing-match idea of discussion that I don't want anywhere near this community. Maybe other internet communities are more your speed if arguing is the only way you learn. Save it for Facebook.
posted by naju at 3:44 PM on April 3, 2016 [6 favorites]


Bleh. I'm definitely part of the problem, and I owe the mods an apology.

My problem, I think, is that I actually genuinely want to discuss the process stuff. I'm a total process nerd, plus I'm pretty heavily invested in some local-level process stuff. But then people start in on your-candidate-sucks and your-party-sucks, and it feels really personal, even though I am only minimally invested in my candidate and have a complicated relationship with my party, and it's hard not to jump in and get fighty, even though I seriously would rather discuss proposals for caucus reform and the merits or not-merits of morning debates.

So anyway, I think I'm going to sit out political threads for a while until I decide I can do them without snapping at people. Also, I realized that following this minutely on Metafilter is making me focus way too much on the national picture, and I really want to be paying much more attention to state and local races right now.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 3:44 PM on April 3, 2016 [6 favorites]


PS, it's a hell of an election cycle to be starting on as a new mod, quite the baptism by fire.

I dunno I haven't been having that hard a time
posted by beerperson at 3:45 PM on April 3, 2016 [3 favorites]


Also, "Your candidate sucks, my candidate is awesome!" is really the lowest common denominator of election "passionate disagreement."

Oh, I don't know about that. That disagreement is at least purportedly about the views/record/other characteristics of the candidates that people will be voting for.

"Your candidate's supporters suck, my candidate's supporters are awesome!" is definitely a lower denominator than the above

"People who support your candidate in comments on reddit suck!" is even lower than that, and boy would I love to never see that one in one of these threads again, but they seem to have been considered okay so far
posted by cobra_high_tigers at 3:52 PM on April 3, 2016 [12 favorites]


On the tech front, I was unable to load the last election thread past the half-way point. Just kept losing connection in the middle of it. My bandwidth is slow, and I assume the metafilter server has some sort of timeout on the maximum amount of time it will keep a connection open.
posted by joeyh at 3:55 PM on April 3, 2016


Aaaaaand we're about thirty seconds away from turning this thread into exactly the kind of Bernie v. Hillary showdown that the mods are warning us not to have.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 3:56 PM on April 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


I can load really long threads, but they're a pain in the ass to comment on. Apple did away with the up and down arrows on the vertical scroll bars, and now it's really hard to use the track thingie to scroll down to see preview and click the Post Comment button.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 3:58 PM on April 3, 2016


Sorry if I've caused distress, I'm especially passionate about this election and it's probably spilling over. Moving forwards I'm going to make a good faith effort to stay positive and to post less.
posted by kyp at 4:02 PM on April 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


Ditto.
posted by dersins at 4:03 PM on April 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


kyp, in my opinion you have been nothing but positive and pleasant. My 2 cents.
posted by futz at 4:06 PM on April 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


I quit after I think the second or so election megathread because it was just too toxic and shitty. Basically people voteshaming and telling you how you had to vote otherwise you were responsible for whatever hypothetical bad thing might happen if a republican gets elected. It seems that this dynamic has not really changed, and good riddance to bad rubbish is all I can say.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 4:10 PM on April 3, 2016 [5 favorites]


If that comment's directed at me, A&C, please reconsider it. I'm not speaking in favor of either candidate here. I'm just talking about two trends that I've seen play out in fighty arguments both in the Blue and on Twitter:
  1. Focus on perceived sins of a candidates' supporters. There's been some of this in the election threads, but it happens on my Twitter timeline all day long every day - what BernieBro or #hillaryman has done something ridiculous now, and why does that represent something about that candidacy / why should it be imputed to the other supporters and the candidate him/herself. It's tiring and lazy and says nothing about the issues themselves. It's the Internet, you can find terrible people saying terrible things who also happen to like any given thing there might be. Horrible people who like kittens. Horrible people who like Adele. And talking about these things does literally nothing but make decent people on the other side feel attacked, because it's a guilt-by-association tactic. Which leads to increased defensiveness and fightiness.
  2. Trying to draw trends from what you see on reddit. I know there are a lot of people who use reddit who think of it as a microcosm of the internet as a whole. So if supporters of candidate X are doing something on reddit, this means something about what supporters of that candidate are doing everywhere online, or even in real life. Many others of us have made a conscious decision not to go to reddit, and we have social networks here on MeFi, on Twitter, in real life, etc. and never encounter the types of people who post on reddit about the candidates we support. We aren't aware of what people on reddit are doing, there's a good chance they're people we don't want to be associated with since we've chosen to avoid reddit, etc.
Sorry if my post came across to you as trying to turn the thread into a "Bernie v. Hillary showdown" but I feel like my concerns are both reasonable and candidate-neutral. That's certainly how I meant them - this seemed to be a thread to talk about what types of discussions make the long political threads better or worse, and I was adding to Eyebrows's point two behaviors I've seen repeatedly that I believe to be even less substantive and more likely to lead to drama. If you feel that I'm being unfair, please explain, but also please give me the benefit of the doubt aaaaaaaaand don't immediately jump to accusing me of trying to start a Bernie/Hillary fight just because we haven't always seen eye to eye in the threads on the Blue.
posted by cobra_high_tigers at 4:17 PM on April 3, 2016 [7 favorites]


I think I'm just going to tap out of the election for a while, which is a shame because this is shaping up to be the most bizarre/crazy/interesting election in a generation. Unfortunately, instead of bringing up the most interesting stuff, which is going to be pretty low-volume, the dynamic that gets established in the longboat threads is almost entirely one of bickering back and forth between the same people on the same tired topics. Like this morning, where some developing weirdness in Nevada's caucus process kept getting drowned out by the bickering. I wouldn't blame the mod staff at all if they wanted to keep this corralled to one thread at a time.

I also agree that this seems to be something unique to elections threads, and particularly Democratic primary stuff, because I don't remember other multi-part, longboat threads (see: the Oregon wildlife refuge standoff) being nearly this bad.

PS, it's a hell of an election cycle to be starting on as a new mod, quite the baptism by fire.

I saw your [small text] show up in an earlier election thread and wondered if the mod team had decided to haze the newbie and metaphorically left you in the room and locked the door behind them.
posted by indubitable at 4:25 PM on April 3, 2016


Me too. I've stopped following the election stuff here other than to check for interesting links once in a while, at least for the moment, mostly because for me at least the interminable, exhausting bickering between Clinton and Sanders supporters -- a diamond-perfect instantiation of the old 'perfect is the enemy of the good' cliché, arranging figurines on the mantle while the house burns down -- is just insupportable.

It reminds me of the old apocalypse fiction trope where the asteroid is incoming and people are on the street tussling over looted TVs, presumably because they're in denial of the terrifying threat of the bigger picture.

Hopefully some of the usual suspects will take cortex's advice above, but historical experience with this stuff does not bode well.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:50 PM on April 3, 2016 [4 favorites]


I've been meaning to ask this question--Cortex, it seems like lately Metafilter is getting more and more okay with saying "we don't want people passionately disagreeing on Metafilter."

You know, after all the shit I've had to deal with on FB because of my choice in candidate, I'm willing to go on-record as saying that passion, as regards political dialogue, is a vastly overvalued commodity.

Also, I've been on Metafilter in one form or another since 2004, and people have been saying this kind of thing forever. As in, back when we had an almost completely different slate of moderators forever.
posted by panama joe at 4:51 PM on April 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


Thanks futz. I can think of one or two posts where I may have gone negative though so I'm going to do much less of that.
posted by kyp at 4:56 PM on April 3, 2016


On a scale of "will never ever happen" to "we'd at least consider it" how feasible would it be to just not have threads about the election during the election cycle? I know this sounds like heresy, but would the site be that worse of if we just didn't do election politics here? If it's really true that it's a diminishing number of users who are interested in arguing about this all the time, then it seems like there's some kind of utilitarian argument for excising this completely for the greater good.
posted by MoonOrb at 4:58 PM on April 3, 2016


So there I am in the new election thread trying to be good, and someone starts with the "Hillary is the worst" thing (because of course they do), so, thinking of this conversation right herein this thread, I say "I thought we weren't doing that any more."

Guess whose comment gets deleted.
posted by dersins at 5:02 PM on April 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


Or I guess we can just see if enough people button and maybe the problem will take care of itself.
posted by MoonOrb at 5:05 PM on April 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


I'm in favor of doughnuts

So typical of your pastry's supporters.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 5:06 PM on April 3, 2016 [6 favorites]


Guess whose comment gets deleted.

Pointing out a comment like that via the contact form or over here is the better way to go there, basically; getting in an in-thread scrap about policy/metacommentary stuff is something we've consistently asked folks not to do about just about anything for a very long time, much as it's difficult occasionally to hold the line.

But the comment I assume you're talking about was also not a great clearcut example of the problematic thing of candidate-ranting; it was someone talking about matchup chances in a kind of abstract horse-race sense, bad-as-in-polling rather than bad-as-in-your-candidate-preference-is-bad-and-you-should-feel-bad which is more where the locus of a lot of the frustrating bullshit has been. That's not to say it's a perfect comment made of beauty and light or whatever, but it's also not particularly what we've been talking about.

And part of the thing with how fraught the escalating back-and-forth stuff has been is folks sometimes being unwilling to just let a minor irritant pass by, and instead to pick it up and run with it and make things worse. So: someone says something kinda critical about a candidate, and then (a) people roll their eyes and move on or (b) people get kinda You Shall Not Pass about it. More of the former and less of the latter will help keep the temperature down and prevents stuff from getting too clusterfucky. Even if it involves feeling a little personally annoyed and not having an outlet for that on the site.

I talked in somewhat less cool-headed terms about how I've been feeling about some of this stuff in a comment a few days ago, and this is sorta of a piece with that: there's people behaving poorly, and then there's people insisting on answering poor behavior with poor behavior. Neither is good, but the second case is the one that really sets us up for a rapid slide down into shitsville, because once folks stop even trying to take a breath and decline to perpetuate a bad dynamic we lose the capacity for this stuff to be self-correcting.

Being the responsible, taking-the-high-road party in an imperfect discussion is a pain in the ass. It's frustrating. It feels unfair. It's unsatisfying as hell. But it's the thing that makes those imperfect discussions rerail and maintain some value instead of turning into a tedious study in mutual they-started-it-ness.
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:17 PM on April 3, 2016 [8 favorites]


> PS, it's a hell of an election cycle to be starting on as a new mod, quite the baptism by fire.

hey guys stop singeing the eyebrows ok?
posted by ardgedee at 5:24 PM on April 3, 2016 [3 favorites]


I have to say, my enjoyment of the election threads has increased greatly this cycle, since I'm ignoring 99% of them.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:34 PM on April 3, 2016 [3 favorites]


makes me want to just ban election threads entirely.

Is that a promise?
posted by jeather at 5:55 PM on April 3, 2016 [3 favorites]


There's a separate technical question here, which is "after how many thousands of comments would it be a good idea just to start a new thread continuing the old one?" My impression is that the moderators aren't in favor of starting a new thread (which would, after all, be the very definition of a "double") just to handle the very occasional situation in which a thread reaches two, three, four thousand comments or so. But these do seem to cause technical problems for at least a few users, so I'm wondering what others think.
posted by uosuaq at 6:05 PM on April 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


I feel like "super long fighty threads tend to break" might be considered a feature, rather than a bug.
posted by jacquilynne at 6:10 PM on April 3, 2016 [7 favorites]


makes me want to just ban election threads entirely.

I joined in 2004 after the Bush re-election, largely due to the political discussions on the site before, during, and after the election. I've learned so very much from MetaFilter in last ten years, and I think an election-less MetaFilter would be a terrible disservice to future me-type people who want a forum for political discussion, and from that discussion learn about the wealth of this community. I agree that this time around it seems to be a bit more strident than in the past, but I'm willing to fault the particulars of this election than advocate a blanket baby-with-bathwater ban on election threads.

Perhaps a sub-site for politics is in order?
posted by eclectist at 6:23 PM on April 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


yeah i kind of see the browser problems that crop up as a self-limiting feature that should be left as-is.
posted by indubitable at 6:44 PM on April 3, 2016


I think by 2020 elections this will be the only site on which I'll feel fairly confident I'm not arguing with robots.
posted by zutalors! at 6:47 PM on April 3, 2016 [3 favorites]


So is there some sort of official "buy booze for the mods" fund that I can contribute to? I'd be happy to throw a quicky's worth of dollars toward that.
posted by octothorpe at 6:59 PM on April 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


Despite the annoying bickering and the somewhat aback-taking vitriol, I find election threads incredibly interesting and informative. I've learned more about the American political process in the course of the 2012 and current election threads than from anywhere else.
posted by bardophile at 7:23 PM on April 3, 2016 [3 favorites]


I followed taz' guide on hiding US election threads in My Mefi and am glad to I did so. From reading the early threads it seemed like people would just end up going in circles repeating the same things, repeating each other, but using different words each time.

The only polite response left when someone keeps saying the same thing over and over again is 'duly noted'.
posted by um at 8:11 PM on April 3, 2016 [2 favorites]


Hey mods, thanks for keeping the election threads as civil as reasonably possible. I love election threads, and I literally don't know anywhere else on the internet where I can stomach discussing politics.
posted by skewed at 8:44 PM on April 3, 2016 [5 favorites]


I think by 2020 elections this will be the only site on which I'll feel fairly confident I'm not arguing with robots.

beep boop
posted by Drinky Die at 9:13 PM on April 3, 2016


"buy booze for the mods" fund

You can send a paper check to:
MetaFilter Network Inc.
1271 NE Hwy 99W #109
McMinnville, OR 97128
Write "Mod Stress Relief Fund" in the memo portion.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 9:40 PM on April 3, 2016


Eyebrows McGee: "So as a mod you spend 8 hours deleting off-topic comments and, seconds later, fielding angry e-mails about how moderation is out of control and it really seems like a thread about a local referendum on water usage in rural Colorado is ACTUALLY about Bernie and Hillary "

I haven't really been following the US election, but I wanted to say that this is something I really appreciate about the moderation here. Preventing the US election from spilling over into the rest of the site really helps. I wish there wasn't so much clean up required, but I am deeply grateful for the fact that the mods do it. The rest of the site is so much better as a result of that work: thank you for that.
posted by langtonsant at 10:17 PM on April 3, 2016 [2 favorites]


"buy booze for the mods" fund

Doobies are much more appropriate in a stressful work context, no? Throwing alcohol into the mix seems a bad idea.
posted by Meatbomb at 11:04 PM on April 3, 2016 [2 favorites]


I haven't done more than dip into the megathreads, but the behaviour that I'm reading about seems to fall squarely into 'sucking the oxygen out of the room'. When that happens in other types of thread, my impression is that it usually results in a 'xxx and yyy, can you guys dial it back?' modnote, followed by a more blunt warning and finally by the offending parties getting a day or two off.

Is this not happening in election threads because those responsible are good at tiptoeing up to the line without crossing it or is there some other dynamic?
posted by Busy Old Fool at 12:32 AM on April 4, 2016 [2 favorites]


Long-ass threads tend to degrade performance a lot, often in device-dependent ways, yeah.

I am totally in favour of long ass-threads, though. Why hasn't someone started one of those?
posted by lollusc at 3:07 AM on April 4, 2016


Back on the point of the poster, and those who've also been frustrated at being unable to read/write to the thread because of length/volume. It feels that this is something that goes against the grain of what MetaFilter perhaps is - a place where people post a variety of stuff, and you can go and read and (safely) comment on the stuff that interests you, and ignore the rest. Registered MeFi's being excluded from stuff on here that interests them because of tech limitations, or networking limitations (reminder to self: there are many still on variations of dial-up and not much better than two cans connected by wet string) seems profoundly anti-community.

Having said that, I don't think this has been a permanent and frequent problem of MetaFilter. Looking at the long-assed thread chart, all except one of the 25 most commented posts in MetaFilter history have occurred in just the last five years. And many of those epic threads are to do with US elections or violent US incidents.

But, it's still an issue and is exclusionary, the fact that after a while on (comment) "popular" threads, doing community things such as reading, commenting, flagging, becomes increasingly slanted towards those with the better tech/internet set-up and availability.
posted by Wordshore at 5:34 AM on April 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


Note: Everyone mod needs deserves a hug.

posted by valetta at 6:18 AM on April 4, 2016


About the tech problem. What if, when a thread gets to the point where links are leaping from your cursor like frightened frogs and typing more than a one-liner in the comment box is an exercise in patience - call it Quake Point - what if when a thread reaches quake point a mod then locks that thread, and restarts it as [Thread Title] Part Two, with a link in the OP to Part One.

Would that be useful/feasible?
posted by valetta at 6:37 AM on April 4, 2016 [2 favorites]


a "jesus, I can't get away from this stuff" turnoff for folks not coming to MetaFilter specifically for endless US electioneering.

While I doubt this will happen, banning election threads would be fine by me. There are infinite other places on the web to discuss this death-by-shit-molasses that started over a year ago and won't be done EVER because people are already salivating about the next mid-terms. It's worst of the web, all media, real life, and the next life as well.
posted by Celsius1414 at 9:05 AM on April 4, 2016


I can report relevance bugs here right?

In the latest election thread, the related posts are all from 2000, which is less relevant than 2004, which is less relevant than 2008, etc. There are already a few 2016 election threads so I'm surprised they're not listed here. Not that Year 2000 election threads aren't interesting, but still.

Related Posts
"The vice president says he would rather protect... September 30, 2000
Dem's let Nader on Ill. ballot, finally. September 29, 2000
As conspiracy rumors go, this is a doozy: World... September 28, 2000
WORLD EXCLUSIVE: GORE MOLE SUSPECTED TO HAVE... September 22, 2000
Bush: 342 / Gore: 224 September 19, 2000
posted by kyp at 1:35 PM on April 4, 2016


Heh, the relevance engine is a pretty minimal thing pb and I hacked together several years ago, and considers only a couple factors, not including recency. The raft-of-2000-posts thing is an interesting quirk but not really a bug, in that sense; there's no specific reason to expect a post would not, given the right matchup of tags, pull posts from a specific other year where tagging instincts lined up.

It may help to keep in mind that, newsy stuff notwithstanding, most MetaFilter posts aren't primarily about when they're being posted so much as what the post is about. An e.g. impressionist art post in 2016 pulling related posts from 2000 would be unremarkable, because it's about impressionist art, not about when that art was posted.

That presidential politics clumps up every four years in particular and has a more tightly-bound set of likely tags/semantics is an interesting wrinkle in post content and timing, not so much a commentary on the mechanics of a far more general content-comparison process.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:48 PM on April 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


Gotcha. I'd argue that there is value in classifying and adopting a different/tweaked algorithm for newsy posts, but it's not a big deal.
posted by kyp at 1:57 PM on April 4, 2016


Yeah, I totally hear you. It's something we might revisit to tune or rework at some point; just wanted to be clear that it is working more or less as intended at the moment.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:05 PM on April 4, 2016


I feel bad proposing this right here, because I'm sure it's come it in previous MeTa threads on elections (and if not, it probably deserves a MeTa of its own), but…

Would it make sense to have a certain class of newsfiltery threads about long term events of widespread interest close after 5 days?

Election threads are the only example I can think of currently, but a length of time like about 5 days gives enough time to expound on the specific story which prompted the post and for everyone to develop their thoughts on it without getting too entrenched in their views.

And when the 5 days is up, some Wordshore-like good egg comes along and distils the most positive elements of where the MeFi discussion and the public discourse has got to, and we all start again with a clean slate, and few enough comments that people can get to the bottom of it in half an hour and feel like there's a positive conclusion.

I think the real plus point of this is that the mods would be able to say "no, that framing didn't go well previously", and the conversation(s) would be kept to what MeFi does well. And they'd be short enough for me to read, which is selfishly why I'm proposing this.

If this is a suggestion that's been rejected before, then please accept my apologies, and no need to go through the reasoning in detail. But if it's worth bringing up for discussion, then I'm happy to research and write it up for a new post and see what people think about it.
posted by ambrosen at 2:30 PM on April 4, 2016


It would be really nice if we could have a discussion about an interesting topic like how the election might go with a third-party candidate without people dropping in jabs about their unpreferred candidate like this:


If otoh Trump and Cruz both run, then all those right-wing voters vote Republican in down ticket races. At the same time, there is no scare factor if the Republicans are divided, and Clinton in an awful candidate, so many Democrats just stay home rather than personally endorse her corporatist bullshit.

posted by mmoncur at 2:52 PM on April 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


Ambrosen, assuming that new threads are quickly made once the old ones are closed after 5 days, that's 6 election threads per month for the next 7 months and approximately 42 election threads until election day. Which I would think would be likely to be filled with duplicate links and maybe even arguments from other posts, since we're already having that problem in longer threads. You'd have a higher activity level in each compared to the longer election threads which tend to slow down to a dull roar after a week after they haven't been on the front page for a while.

It would solve the massive, unwieldy thread problem, but perhaps by sacrificing the mods' sanity.
posted by zarq at 3:26 PM on April 4, 2016


Any chance mods could consider going a little more nuclear on links to uninteresting hit pieces of the day? On both sides? Eighteen comments and counting on a NY Post headline is, even if something we deserve, not something anybody really needs. Links become a way to have proxy fights over totally banal b.s. that everyone will forget about by the time the next one gets posted.
posted by one_bean at 8:52 PM on April 4, 2016 [6 favorites]


Is there an official annual Mod Appreciation Day? Because there should be.
posted by Lyme Drop at 9:28 PM on April 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


If either you don't like the US election, are appalled by it, you're in the USA so you are stuck with it, or you like dark satire, the analysis by Frankie Boyle today in the Guardian may be a good read.
posted by Wordshore at 12:13 AM on April 5, 2016 [3 favorites]


Is there an official annual Mod Appreciation Day? Because there should be.


June 13th is Moderators Day.
posted by bardophile at 2:10 AM on April 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


well, the new thread is pretty ugly. Clinton supporters were scolded to not say anything positive about those wins because Sanders supporters were "hurting," but since Sanders won Wisconsin, which was completely expected, there are a ton of Go Bernie! And Feel The Bern! and I'm back to being unsure that I'm not on the Sanders reddit.
posted by zutalors! at 7:38 AM on April 6, 2016 [2 favorites]


Clinton supporters were scolded to not say anything positive about those wins ...

They were? I must have missed that. Link?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 7:47 AM on April 6, 2016


I remember this too, but I'd cede the point before I go dredging through 10,000 comments in 3 threads to find it
posted by prize bull octorok at 8:32 AM on April 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


Exactly.
posted by zutalors! at 8:34 AM on April 6, 2016


If neither of you can be bothered to to substantiate the claim, I guess there's no reason to believe it's true. Because I'm certainly not going to do the work.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 8:38 AM on April 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


yes, we're definitely lying.
posted by zutalors! at 8:44 AM on April 6, 2016 [3 favorites]


It's tough. Like throwing two tigers in a cage. On twitter I just stick with the people I agree with and we all get mad together at the other side. Or crack jokes about them or whatever. Here you're confronted with the other side doing the same thing.

So you see people 180 degrees opposed to what you believe strongly is true, and if you trust your own mind at all, you pretty much have to conclude the other person is deluded or corrupt.

The "you've got to be kidding me" factor seems inevitable.

Like the reactions to the Daily News thing on Sanders. That was unbelievable.

Maybe separate threads? But on the other hand, we ARE kind of limping through.
posted by Trochanter at 8:49 AM on April 6, 2016


I've seen comments along those lines.

http://www.metafilter.com/157908/Election-2016-Rubio-and-Kasichs-last-stand#6445400

http://www.metafilter.com/157908/Election-2016-Rubio-and-Kasichs-last-stand#6445483

But I don't really see the problem here. It's okay to be happy when your candidate wins, taking it to gloating is kind of mean, but obviously the losing side is going to be more likely to be hypersensitive and feel like happiness is gloating. I haven't seen site policy reflect feelings along those lines. Losing sucks, winning rules. People of any political persuasion fall into traps because emotion gets the better of them around election days.
posted by Drinky Die at 8:50 AM on April 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


I'm trying to keep that current thread on track, and have deleted a few things this morning that fall more into "well here's how I feel about why [wrong candidate's] supporters are bad/wrong/sucky" territory. That's a big part of what I was talking about in my big comment up top of this thread.

That new thread has not been consistently great on that front, and to the extent that people will sometimes sidle up slowly toward the "cut it out" line it's going to be probably impossible to completely keep shades of that GRAR-y headbutting out of it. But we're making an effort, despite what feels like a lot of people not particularly making the complementary effort on their end.

As far as that goes: I am not interested in people using grievances about past conversations on the site as an excuse to behave poorly in the current one. I'm not interested in "but they started it" arguments. I'm definitely not interested in "as a supporter of candidate X, it's clear to me that the supporters of candidate Y are the problem" stuff. The mod team has been wading through all of that from multiple contradictory directions for months and it's tiring and circular and absolutely not best behavior from all the folks involved.

I am at this point looking harder at the recurring voices in these threads and the way they seem to map to recurring escalation and inter-user or other-users-by-proxy sniping, because I'm really tired of it and tired of the knock-on effect of people consistently behaving in a not-great way and then blaming each other for it.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:53 AM on April 6, 2016 [7 favorites]


I think there's a pretty wide gap between MeFites asking for no gloating and being scolded, which came across to me as meaing modly involvement.
posted by Etrigan at 8:56 AM on April 6, 2016 [2 favorites]


I felt scolded by fellow Mefites for saying such things as being proud of the fact that a female nominee can bring some strong focus on women's issues in the general. I didn't say it was modly.

But, it's at the point where I have no idea frankly what we're supposed to talk about at all unless it's pro Sanders. Criticizing the NY Daily News article is "unbelievable." There's no way to discuss anything about the Democratic candidates that people don't take personally.
posted by zutalors! at 9:04 AM on April 6, 2016


I was talking about the difference in the way people took the Daily News piece.

I have no idea frankly what we're supposed to talk about at all unless it's pro Sanders.

And again. If I let myself, I could feel the exact same thing about Hillary. The difference is unbelievable.
posted by Trochanter at 9:08 AM on April 6, 2016 [2 favorites]


I could be wrong, but I haven't seen anyone write Go Hillary Go!! and if they did it would be deleted.
posted by zutalors! at 9:09 AM on April 6, 2016


But, it's at the point where I have no idea frankly what we're supposed to talk about at all unless it's pro Sanders.

Most of what there is to talk about that isn't headache-making is stuff that's not primarily pro-anybody. There's a lot of political process stuff, state-by-state demography, party machinery, para-electoral development, etc. etc. etc. and to the degree that folks have in significant part been aggregating that stuff and discussing it independent of any particular candidate preference that's been some decent and interesting and non-headache-inducing MetaFilter. That's basically what I think of when I think of people actually liking reading and participating in an election thread here.

The candidate-centric arguing and sniping and headbutting and airing of grievances not so much. And we are hearing it from Clinton supporters and Sanders supporters both, and both camps are convinced that the other camp is the problem, and, shit, I'd kind of rather hear from neither at this point if that's what it takes because it's pretty much the core problem these threads are having.

That's independent of whether shit's played out in a perfectly balanced way before. That's independent of whether any particular strong supporter or anti-supporter of a given candidate feels like they're right, or that others are intolerably wrong, or that other people being allowed to be wrong out loud is tantamount to an attack on their righteous position, or whatever.

I know politics is a weird, charged, often personally-grounded thing and that people aren't being pains just because they woke up last fall and decided to cause us headaches. I sympathize about the frustration and sense of stakes that comes with this stuff. But I'm running real low on sympathy for that stuff manifesting it yet another round of "yeah but THEY..." bullshit on the site or hyperbolic/sarcastic/fight-starting re-upping and rehashing of candidate-vs-candidate shit that's already been gone around a bunch of times before in the last few months.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:22 AM on April 6, 2016 [4 favorites]


I could be wrong, but I haven't seen anyone write Go Hillary Go!! and if they did it would be deleted.

I don't believe that it would be. I'm seeing threads full of plenty of vocal Clinton supporters making their cases, if the mods are trying to turn this into a pro-Sanders zone exclusively they are doing a terrible job of it.

If someone criticizes your contributions it's good practice to consider the criticism to see if there is any validity to it, but when you decide that there is not you should feel free to just keep doing what you are doing unless a Mod tells you otherwise. I really think you are putting too much stock in user comments you have no obligation to listen to.
posted by Drinky Die at 9:24 AM on April 6, 2016


Oh hey, since I got quoted here, can I point out that saying that got me mocked repeatedly by Clinton supporters in a way that made me felt personally attacked? And that it continued to happen even after I asked my words not to be used that way? So maybe not the best example to use?

And that's why I don't participate in US election threads anymore.
posted by Ruki at 9:35 AM on April 6, 2016 [5 favorites]


I know Drinky Die posted it, but I had a feeling that was what was meant by scolding. It wasn't.
posted by Ruki at 9:37 AM on April 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


I could be wrong, but I haven't seen anyone write Go Hillary Go!! and if they did it would be deleted.

I don't believe that it would be. I'm seeing threads full of plenty of vocal Clinton supporters making their cases, if the mods are trying to turn this into a pro-Sanders zone exclusively they are doing a terrible job of it.


Hey fair enough, and i don't want to seem like I'm saying the mods are making this site a pro Sanders zone. They're not. I am a little unclear on what exactly we are supposed to post though, since any of the things cortex mentions, ie delegate math, quickly turn into partisan sniping on both sides.
posted by zutalors! at 9:40 AM on April 6, 2016


I am a little unclear on what exactly we are supposed to post though, since any of the things cortex mentions, ie delegate math, quickly turn into partisan sniping on both sides.

I'm mostly asking folks to make more of an effort on that secondary "turn[ing] into partisan sniping" bit. Talking about delegate math is fine. Bringing up delegate math in a sniping way, not so much. Sniping back at delegate math like it's a personal attack, likewise. Etc.

I would say that if you're in a place where the prospect of having a non-snipey conversation in that or future election threads seems dim, it may be a Physician Heal Thyself sort of deal where the answer may be to stop participating so much in said threads.

Nobody has to be in there, and one of the things I said above comes into play here: there seem to be folks who like these threads, as in are having a pleasant, civil, let's-discuss-a-thing-on-MetaFilter time, and then other folks who kind of insist on being in them while also seeming pretty unhappy the whole time. Choosing to not keep returning to a well that's making you unhappy is actually a pretty good move all around, even if it can be understandably frustrating too in a habit/impulse-control way. I've definitely been there.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:48 AM on April 6, 2016 [3 favorites]


yeah, you can go ahead and translate my comment that the new thread has gotten ugly to "I probably won't post much" (and I haven't been) rather than "fix it" for whatever it's worth
posted by zutalors! at 9:52 AM on April 6, 2016


Focus on perceived sins of a candidates' supporters.
-and-
Trying to draw trends from what you see on reddit

Not sure I can completely agree with this. Social media and the internet are playing a bigger part in this election. And we are seeing some interesting impacts of how this is shaping the election. From fundraising and organizing to more and more supporters playing a bigger part than before for a certain candidate or campaign. Not being able to talk about this in a constructive way is missing a part of what's going on in this election. Notice I said "constructive", so I'm not supporting using it to dump on a candidate.
posted by FJT at 10:40 AM on April 6, 2016 [2 favorites]


cortex, glad to see you're "looking harder at the recurring voices in these threads and the way they seem to map to recurring escalation ...". I'm one of those who is enjoying the current discussions of politics, minus the candidate advocacy.
posted by benito.strauss at 10:46 AM on April 6, 2016


Any chance mods could consider going a little more nuclear on links to uninteresting hit pieces of the day? On both sides? Eighteen comments and counting on a NY Post headline is, even if something we deserve, not something anybody really needs. Links become a way to have proxy fights over totally banal b.s. that everyone will forget about by the time the next one gets posted

I know the mods are super busy, so not sure if this just got buried or ignored because it came off as a one-off complaint, but this is a legitimate request: would you all consider being a little more stringent about what links are acceptable to post in thread? I'm not sure what the standard would be. "Would this make a good FPP if this open thread didn't exist" could be one standard. It just seems like, repeatedly, somebody finds an outside link that's attacking one candidate or another on some really minor point, they say to themselves, "THIS. THIS will finally turn the tide and convince people to vote for my candidate" and then post it to the thread. And then we go down a rabbit hole of how inane that particular link is and if you squint from one side it says one thing and you squint from the other it says another. Having read through almost all of the past few election threads, the click-baity links seem to come up over and over as instigating a lot of the worst conversations.

I know it's asking a lot because there's going to be a judgment call (and then you get to deal with the fallout from whoever's link got deleted). I like reading the election threads. Occasionally we get good details on process and policy. But the minute I see some text pop up about what stupid thing Bernie's campaign manager said or how Clinton's brother's boss knows someone on the Panama list, I know the thread's about to be derailed for an hour or two.
posted by one_bean at 12:26 PM on April 6, 2016 [4 favorites]


It's difficult, because I get the impetus behind the idea and think it's got a bit of merit in the sense of avoiding a Junk In => Junk Out sort of cycle. I think people could do to be a little more choosy about what's worth tossing into a thread.

But for all that: that's not anywhere near a standard we have historically had. "Would this make a good post" is a criteria for making a post, not for putting something in a comment, and we have very, very different criteria for the two to the point that telling people to add sub-post-worthy links as comments in an existing thread instead is common practice.

I feel like the root issue is more patterns of behavior rather than links themselves; if someone as a one-off tosses in an opinion piece or a weak-ish bit of poli blogging, that's not a big problem, but if that's a major/recurring component of how a specific user is interacting with threads it becomes one. And we've talked to a couple people on basically that front in the last few months to try and right that a bit.

Basically I think the implementation side of the idea is profoundly muddy, especially given that people's taste/threshold is going to vary a lot and aggregating links from the political zeitgeist (even to sometimes tedious or unbalanced stuff) is part of what a lot of people appreciate about threads. There's no clear easy approach to the idea, again with the acknowledgement that I totally get the idea regardless.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:37 PM on April 6, 2016 [2 favorites]


Would this make a good FPP if this open thread didn't exist" could be one standard.

I think that's a good gauge. Anything from that US Uncut site shouldn't be posted, for example.
posted by zutalors! at 12:38 PM on April 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


All that said, of course it's fine if you see something that seems like it's egregious, or part of a problematic larger pattern, to go ahead and flag it or write to us at the contact form about it. I don't think there's a broad new-rule type solution available but we can still totally look at individual cases.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:39 PM on April 6, 2016


...but if that's a major/recurring component of how a specific user is interacting with threads it becomes one. And we've talked to a couple people on basically that front in the last few months to try and right that a bit.

Thank you for that.
posted by zarq at 1:22 PM on April 6, 2016


Comment timers, at least for politics threads. It's a technological mitigation (not solution) for a social problem, but there's too much valuable to be gained in politics threads to jettison them completely. Worse, I feel a lot of otherwise good comments are going unwritten because of the sniping and the vitriol and, hell, the volume. It will force people to resist the I MUST RESPOND RIGHT THE FUCK NOW impulse that makes the threads hellish and the mods shifts hell. It will force people into more thoughtful comments and stop huge sections of these threads from becoming a personal conversation between two or three people.

I mean, it doesn't even have to be long. Whatever gripping insight on current events you've JUST GOT to get out on the Blue will keep for 300 more seconds.
posted by absalom at 3:24 PM on April 6, 2016 [3 favorites]


I am a little unclear on what exactly we are supposed to post though, since any of the things cortex mentions, ie delegate math, quickly turn into partisan sniping on both sides.

But making a comment that includes partisan sniping is entirely under the control of the commenter, not some kind of Mysterious Unstoppable Force Of Nature.

You can certainly make a "delegate math" comment along the lines of "Pundit FooBar [link to article] figures that if Sanders can win States X, Y, and Z he has a chance at convincing some superdelegates to support him. But these states have demographic makeups that have tended to prefer Clinton." WITHOUT adding some kind of tagline like:

" . . . . and if Sanders supporters think he can actually win in those states they're fools."

or

" . . . . which is a shame because Clinton has absolutely no chance against Trump."

(Just to clarify, all of the above are paraphrases/examples I made up, not actual quotes of actual comments.)

It's those taglines and asides that add that little twist of partisan sniping to a comment, and sets other people off, and people can leave those kind of bits right the hell off. Well, I mean, in theory they can, but pretty clearly some people are unable to resist the temptation to get in a dig no matter what kind of comment they're ostensibly making.

And despite our Mod Team's efforts, to me it still feels like I'm seeing way too many comments that include a potshot or two along with some level of neutral/substantive material, which, again, tends to set other people off and contributes to making political threads stupidly long and contentious and more noise than signal at many points. So I'm fully in support of the mods taking a hard look at recurring commenters and coming down harder on them if they can't leave the sniping out of their comments.
posted by soundguy99 at 5:58 PM on April 6, 2016 [7 favorites]


I haven't seen as much of it in the new thread, although it's definitely gone there, but I am really, really tired of people pointing to things other people have said outside of this site (Reddit, Wil Wheaton) and using that as an example of why all Sanders supporters are awful. And yes, that does go the opposite way, too. There are people who can't seem to engage in good faith with what people are actually saying here because of outside parties that have nothing to do with the supporters of Sanders and Clinton here. I don't need to apologize for something Wil Wheaton said about Clinton because I didn't say it and he doesn't speak for me. It's a stupid little gotcha that contributes nothing to the conversation.

But the next time any of the mods swing by PVD, there's a free drink from me. Thanks for doing what you do.
posted by Ruki at 7:18 PM on April 6, 2016 [4 favorites]


Could not agree more Ruki.
posted by futz at 7:28 PM on April 6, 2016


Yeah this is seriously the most tedious and idiotic way to engage in political threads and reminds me of exasperated Obama agreeing to reject AND denounce a controversial supporter.
posted by lalex at 7:38 PM on April 6, 2016


I don't know if recent threads are any better, but one trend I got heartily sick of in early threads was the constant needling. Like, if I appended every comment about Clinton with a reference to her potential indictment by the FBI, or every comment about Sanders with a reference to his lack of support from African-American voters then it's clear I'm not participating in the conversation with a collegial spirit, but at the same time I'm not directly attacking people. It's the "I'm not touching you" gambit. It's tiresome.
posted by um at 8:34 PM on April 6, 2016 [9 favorites]


I really appreciate the small proportion of each election thread which goes into actual analysis and discussion about outcomes, strategy, etc.

All this gets totally drowned out in an endless stream of Monty Pythonesque Sanders vs Clinton he said/ she said/ they said/ they implied debates or breast beating about how awful Trump/Cruz are. We know all that, I wish they'd take it to Twitter.

Meanwhile contributions from Metafilter's one Republican who actually raises her head above the parapet in election threads are virtually ignored. It's really disappointing; Metafilter could have been one of the few places online where there is a space for reasoned discussion.
posted by tavegyl at 8:51 PM on April 6, 2016 [3 favorites]


I don't know if recent threads are any better

Well, the new thread started off well...
posted by neeta at 9:39 PM on April 6, 2016


Well, the new thread started off well...

I would strongly support time outs for some of the more egregious commenters.
posted by tavegyl at 9:43 PM on April 6, 2016 [3 favorites]


If threads are starting out well then maybe you could just keeping rebooting them at the first sign of trouble. Like if someone brings up Clinton voting for the Iraq war for the zillionth time everyone shouts NEW THREAD and bails out to the latest one. It will be like the Mad Hatter's Tea Party. Even better, every time a new thread kicks off you have to change your affiliation so Clinton supporters become rabidly pro-Bernie and vice versa.
posted by um at 10:40 PM on April 6, 2016 [3 favorites]


Well, Alice in Wonderland did have a caucus race.
posted by benito.strauss at 10:51 PM on April 6, 2016 [2 favorites]


...everyone shouts NEW THREAD and bails out to the latest one.

There are a number of Mefites who object to the very existence of political threads. Your proposal might effectively deal with the derailleurs, but it would invite a tide of MetaTalk requests to ban political threads completely. A multitude of poli threads would make it even more tempting for the mods to agree with those requests.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:27 AM on April 7, 2016 [1 favorite]


I'm much more interested in US elections than many of the topics that feature on the Blue. And after looking at lots of other places online (e.g. CNN, the BBC, the louder and more coarse version of MetaFilter that begins with 'R', etc), this does seem like the best of those places to discuss it in. It's not perfect; a good point a few comments back that comments by MetaFilter's open (token? :) ) Republican user is ignored amongst the Bernary Battles. As a north European liberal, I'd personally prefer if there were a few more (reasonably debating) Republicans, Libertarians, Greens and others in the threads for more varied, but still valid debate, rather than it sometimes seeming like a longform version of a liberal Twitter echo-chamber.

Though I can, easily, see that if I wasn't interested in US elections then I'd get increasingly annoyed, then angry, at mentions of it creeping into other threads and topics. Like here in England, despite it directly affecting me, I have utterly no interest or emotion in the Brexit vote and am completely bored and fed up of the constant mentions of it everywhere. To me it's the dullest and most banal remake of Groundhog Day possible that I'm forced to sit through 24/7, and that's possibly a similar emotion to some of those who aren't into US elections. I suspect at some point, if I felt like this about US election threads I would honestly be "to hell with freedom of speech and everyone having their interests" and comment "BAN THESE THREADS NOW".

I've had an on-off chat with the mods about core election posts, partially as I'm an FPP-crafting nerd who always has several drafts on the go. Their weariness in comments on MetaFilter is genuine (my chats probably aren't helping) and I feel kinda bad, having been a (disastrously inappropriate) online community mod for a few years back in the day. Many - all? - of your mod actions, and inactions, annoy or anger someone in that community. There is no win-win being a mod.

(winches original train of this MetaTalk post back onto its rails)

The current election thread is already 1,000+ comments in, what, 3.5 days. Though that includes the fevered time around Wisconsin voting (but doesn't include however many comments the fed-up mods have deleted). One of the drafts am whittling away at is for the next election thread. When the current thread hits 3,000 comments, possibly the region where it's slowing down on some peoples browsers and connections, am going to float that draft past the mods with a view to it being the next, or if you like reset, core election thread. That of course does not preclude someone else doing a core election post as there's no dibs, rights, or flag-planting on future posts. Saying this so that there's no worries that the current election post will again sail past 4,000 or 5,000 or however many comments, leading it to be unusable and election stuff spilling into other threads, causing headaches (modaches?) there.
posted by Wordshore at 6:00 AM on April 7, 2016


Yeah, it just wasn't workable for me past 3500 or so even on a modern gaming PC. Forget about it on a phone or tablet. I assume the pagination thing is still being considered, if so 3000 might be a good cutoff.
posted by Drinky Die at 7:56 AM on April 7, 2016 [1 favorite]


The recently closed thread was mostly fine for me except for adding links. I am currently using an uber crappy Verizon Ellipsis 8 and fully expected it to cause me trouble. My iPhone, on the other hand could not deal.

I wholeheartedly agree with wordshore upthread:

But, it's still an issue and is exclusionary, the fact that after a while on (comment) "popular" threads, doing community things such as reading, commenting, flagging, becomes increasingly slanted towards those with the better tech/internet set-up and availability.
posted by futz at 12:19 PM on April 7, 2016


The latest election thread has begun showing the link-jumping behavior of previous giants. It will get worse as comments breed. Maybe some of the profligate posters still hammering away could let it rest a little more?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 7:07 PM on April 7, 2016 [1 favorite]


That's at just under 1200 comments.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 7:11 PM on April 7, 2016


What on earth are you people browsing the web with? I've been reading the election threads, sans problems, with a 6 year old iMac, a PC with a motherboard from 2007, and an iPhone (albeit one that's roughly a year old). I don't doubt that people are having problems, but we're talking about a website that's basically text.

The most recent election thread comes in at slightly over 300 kb, although I don't think that includes scripts, stylesheets or ads. If that's causing a problem, I'm not sure it's on MetaFilter's end.
posted by figurant at 8:47 PM on April 7, 2016 [1 favorite]


MacOS 10.10.5, Firefox 45.0.1, and I'm getting the same weird behavior when I try to click on or hover over links.
posted by Daily Alice at 9:05 PM on April 7, 2016


Win7 Firefox 45.0.1

I think it's the aggregation of links. Every comment has at least four links (the ones below it). That's over 4800 links in that thread.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 1:18 AM on April 8, 2016


Might be a Firefox issue? I notice the thread performs better on Chrome.
posted by kyp at 9:31 AM on April 8, 2016


Firefox 45.0.1 here too, Windows 10. Plain theme, if that matters. Seeing the same link-jumping behavior as of this morning.
posted by cjelli at 9:48 AM on April 8, 2016


To clarify what I said, I use Firefox and I do see the link jumping behavior as well.

I also have Greasemonkey installed because I use MeFi scripts.
posted by kyp at 9:50 AM on April 8, 2016


there are some posters who just post links, lots and lots of links. That could probably be avoided.

That said, also try switching to Chrome.
posted by zutalors! at 9:51 AM on April 8, 2016


What on earth are you people browsing the web with? I've been reading the election threads, sans problems, with a 6 year old iMac, a PC with a motherboard from 2007, and an iPhone (albeit one that's roughly a year old). I don't doubt that people are having problems, but we're talking about a website that's basically text.

MacPro1,1 / Dual-Core Intel Xeon / 2.66 GHz running 10.6.8 and Firefox 45.0.1 has no problems. (Computer is 10 years old)
Same with Linux Mint 17.3 and Chromium.
Win10 and the latest version of Firefox, the thread gives weird effects with links.
At 3000+ comments on my Android browser (will look up the stats on the OS and software if requested) it becomes difficult to favorite or click on links.
posted by zarq at 9:55 AM on April 8, 2016


'67 Chevy, slant V6, Hooker headers and dual carbs. I have trouble clicking links at over 3500 rpm.
posted by benito.strauss at 10:12 AM on April 8, 2016 [6 favorites]


Your problem is the engine. Slant-sixes were Mopar powerplants. Install a 327 'Vette motor and you'll be fine.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 10:15 AM on April 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


The most recent election thread comes in at slightly over 300 kb, although I don't think that includes scripts, stylesheets or ads. If that's causing a problem, I'm not sure it's on MetaFilter's end.

The page linked in the OP is about 1MB gzipped, but it's not just about the size -- there's also all the rendering the browser has to do. Load that same page sans CSS styling, and it's enormously faster (once the transfer time is accounted for).

However, that wait for transfer is a killer. A Pingdom test I ran just now shows the transfer of just the HTML is at 7.4 seconds, with an overall 10.42 seconds -- an eternity online. Add in a bunch of complicated rendering or other factors, and it's no wonder browsers are choking.
posted by Celsius1414 at 1:20 PM on April 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


there are some posters who just post links, lots and lots of links. That could probably be avoided.

Think so? I think people would just ask for citations for any assertion made anyway.
posted by Trochanter at 3:22 PM on April 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


I just mean they could post a link and like, something about it that they found interesting. A pull quote or some commentary or something.
posted by zutalors! at 3:35 PM on April 8, 2016


Do you mean post a link as text, requiring a copy&paste into the browser? Because otherwise, I don't see any change.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:01 AM on April 9, 2016


Just as a data point, I'm also FF 45.0.1 on Win10, Modern Blue theme, and see nothing out of the ordinary happening on the gigantothread.

Like Celsius1414 says, it takes about 7.9 seconds to load the page itself content itself for me, which is about 1Mb gzipped, and other assets from the cloudfront CDN come down in fractions of a second, as they should.

If I were to make a guess -- pulled mostly out of my butt based on the scrolling jankiness I've seen on my ancient iPhone 3GS since the modern theme was rolled out -- I'd guess that the problems people are having are javascript-related.

An easy way to test if that's the case for people who are seeing the weirdness on desktop browsers would be to temporarily install noscript or something like that, block the js for MeFi, reload the thread after clearing their cache, and see if the problem goes away.

I understand that scripting, as with pretty much any website these days, is essential to the Metafilter user experience, but at least that might help to zero in a bit on the cause, if that's what it is.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:57 AM on April 9, 2016


No, I don't mean post a link as text, I mean just post a link to Twitter with nothing else to add as comment, for example.

It's not a big deal, it's just annoying to me because then everyone starts arguing about why the link is posted and what it means and it becomes a mini post.
posted by zutalors! at 11:02 AM on April 9, 2016


zutalors!, I prefer a MeFi where we post links with minimal commentary. We should evaluate articles without the biased commentary one way or another. Twitter links seem like an exception because they are short, but we can still discuss them without the poster adding opinion.

This is IMO of course. But I think, let's post links and discuss them as impartially as we can.
posted by kyp at 11:31 PM on April 9, 2016


I mentioned upthread:

I am currently using an uber crappy Verizon Ellipsis 8 and fully expected it to cause me trouble. My iPhone, on the other hand could not deal.


It is a really shitty tablet that uses chrome and for some reason it handles these long boat threads extremely well. I run into problems with linking but figured out a workaround.

You should read the reviews of my crappy tablet. Why it handles these threads but my iPhone doesn't is baffling. Safari on macs has always been a crapshoot though.
posted by futz at 8:23 PM on April 10, 2016


There is a new core US election FPP just up on the Blue. The post has been mod-checked.
posted by Wordshore at 2:24 PM on April 11, 2016


(last such announcement on this MetaTalk) the new, mod-approved, US election FPP is now live.
posted by Wordshore at 9:05 AM on April 19, 2016


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