In political megathreads, can we please try to be more straightforward. August 4, 2016 5:17 AM   Subscribe

"punch drunk" is a thing, yeah. I get it. But there's a whole lot of us who aren't in on the cultural jokes. Or the sarcasm.

It is really really really hard sometimes for some of us to understand what is going on when people aren't being straightforward.

Please. Say what you mean. With no subtext. With no implied meaning. With no obligation for your readers to understand the implied references.

I have actually read all of the election threads these last 3 weeks. Top to bottom. Refreshing as necessary.

Irony/sarcasm/lulz is SO FUCKING IRRITATING.

Please.

Say what you mean.

If you are linking to a site that is doing irony/sarcasm/satire, please please please SAY SO.
posted by yesster to Etiquette/Policy at 5:17 AM (214 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

I think one of the joys of those threads is the riffing. The threads are informative but in no way groundbreaking. I don't think posters should be constrained to some imposed literalism.
posted by OmieWise at 5:35 AM on August 4, 2016 [82 favorites]


How is "punch drunk" a cultural joke?
posted by Going To Maine at 5:48 AM on August 4, 2016 [4 favorites]


But then, I haven't been in the political threads lately, so perhaps I'm also missing some context.
posted by Going To Maine at 5:50 AM on August 4, 2016


Counterpoint: If you don't understand the references in a comment, move on.
posted by duffell at 6:04 AM on August 4, 2016 [43 favorites]


OK, that was snarky, but this seems like a really rigid way to expect an entire site of people to behave, especially when a lot of people need to blow off steam (via irony/sarcasm/lulz) in what has become an especially frightening election season--so can I ask you to provide specific examples? With links to comments?
posted by duffell at 6:10 AM on August 4, 2016 [18 favorites]


If I link to this, but I tell people it's a joke, it kind of defeats the purpose.
posted by andoatnp at 6:12 AM on August 4, 2016 [3 favorites]


Unless duffell, it's a whole, dominant group excluding people from the non dominant group...which injokes and cultural references are. It others people who don't know them disallowing them to participate.

It's fncking insensitive and in this context could be viewed as racist. A non American born American is much less likely to get all the references and this kind of chatter alienates people.

So, whilst I haven't read that thread because I. Just. Can't. Even. Trump's election would affect the bloody universe so it's fair that both non American born Americans and people who are not Americans are reading and participating and looking to not be excluded. Again.

(Srsly, we need to do this again MeFi?)
posted by taff at 6:12 AM on August 4, 2016 [2 favorites]


There's really no way to functionally achieve the goal. Optimal communication will always be impossible because we are human beings, communicating through cultural and personal frames, and the result of communication is always an ambiguous creation in between us that can be multiply interpreted. Moreover, we are communicating in a text-only environment which has obvious limitations. As users, we need to find ways to work with this reality rather than asking everyone else to change around our particular mix of communication preferences (which can never be universal). Also, I agree that the personal voice and idiosyncratic commentary is one of the few reasons to read these threads.

I can understand that not everyone is in an equally good position to parse jokes, cultural references, irony, etc. This is an issue of neurology as well as culture and biography. There is plenty that I don't understand on MeFi because I am not a member of [whatever subgroup]. But I think the vast experience with both culture and neurology can help us devise work-arounds. If you find yourself confused, I suggest using one of these two useful options:
1. Ask for clarification, translation, explanation.
2. Ignore it and move on to other comments.
posted by Miko at 6:26 AM on August 4, 2016 [48 favorites]


I am sympathetic but a good ol Google can likely fill in some things you don't understand. I don't think we could or should force the site to be literal at all times, sorry.
posted by masquesoporfavor at 6:34 AM on August 4, 2016 [13 favorites]


If I link to this, but I tell people it's a joke, it kind of defeats the purpose.

Then I would gently suggest that you may need to find something that has slightly stronger indications that it is a joke. I would have definitely been fooled.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:35 AM on August 4, 2016 [7 favorites]


If you are reading election threads for some kind of actual benefit and not the ceaseless chattering of lost souls encysted in a dark oubliette far from the environs of man, you may be disappointed regardless of cultural touchstones.
posted by selfnoise at 6:39 AM on August 4, 2016 [59 favorites]


taff, I'm struggling to write a reply to your comment. Suffice it to say that I'd appreciate it if you could expand on how the behavior at issue is racist (or even insensitive). I don't understand that characterization at all, but I would very much like to.
posted by OmieWise at 6:41 AM on August 4, 2016 [8 favorites]


I feel like I'm missing something here. I'd estimate that 30% of written communication relies on some form of non-literal interpretation, sometimes for dramatic effect, sometimes for rhetoric, sometimes for lulz. Beyond that, 90% of comments on politics require background knowledge: that Republicans are on the far right, Democrats center-right, etc etc (also the "left-right" dichotomy). So I'd argue that it's impossible to do what you're asking, other than by degrees.

yesster, did you have examples in mind for the original request? Perhaps a problematic comment, accompanied by how you'd like it to be reworked?

I'm sympathetic, since 80% of activity on the blue these days is probably in those megathreads, so a suggestion to skip them is a much bigger ask than for Americans to skip Brexit threads that they don't fully understand (rather than changing the nature of them).

I think I get what taff is saying, that these megathreads present a steep learning curve for American politics, perhaps discouraging that learning. But the fact that novices to American politics exist shouldn't preclude the less-novice threads from existing.
posted by supercres at 6:49 AM on August 4, 2016 [5 favorites]


[Couple comments deleted. Pause and reconsider whether "you're like a person with Asperger's" is going to be useful here, in a setting where a number of people... do just literally have Aspergers.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 6:52 AM on August 4, 2016 [35 favorites]


So this seems like maybe a good time to say that while I disagree with the OP's premise, I will totally entertain the notion that I'm wrong, and I appreciate the OP for raising the issue.

And as always--thank you to the mods for all of your painstaking work in keeping discussions civil and productive, and for helping keep this community healthy. No matter how many times you're thanked in these threads, it can't be enough.
posted by duffell at 6:59 AM on August 4, 2016 [3 favorites]


... and to clarify, it's fine to talk about how Asperger's or other neuro/etc differences affect perceptions of sarcasm, but if you're bringing that issue up, bear in mind it's not a mere hypothetical or comparison, it's just a fact about some of the folks you're talking with.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 7:02 AM on August 4, 2016 [5 favorites]


I think the request would also work against justice and access. One of the benefits of a site where comments are open to all members is the inclusion of idiosyncratic voices, particularly people whose verbal expression is nonstandard, but also people whose view of the world is a minority one, who view satire as an essential component of democracy, specialists, people with unique cultural knowledge, etc. For example, I try to stay current on Native American issues, and I can say that whenever I read Indian Country Today I encounter tons of content, name-checks and references I don't understand. I would love to see comments drawing on that content in election threads here, but it would definitely be challenging in the same way to introduce unexplained references from deep in the world of Native politics [Black politics, other cultural group politics, etc]. I think we are best when we continue welcoming a variety of expressions, understanding that we won't grasp all of them immediately, or in some cases, ever.

We are all constantly learning. I am an American-born American who has always been politically active, and I don't half understand much of what I see in the threads - I just try to make my sense of them as I go along, and I certainly ask when I want clarification - I've also missed enough satire to have comments directed at me on the order of "uh Miko...that was satire." I understand the frustration of confusion but just encourage folks to ask when things are unclear.
posted by Miko at 7:03 AM on August 4, 2016 [28 favorites]


I'm not going to give any specific example, because I don't want to "pick on" any one person.

My intent is to just request clarity.

These election threads move very fast, with really high-volume of comments. It's simply not feasible to ask for clarification sometimes.

I have to admit that I have occasionally contributed some noise to these posts. I apologize for that.

But there have been several commenters asking "is this real?" about links and quotations. It's not just me.

Yes, I'm probably at the extreme end of the spectrum on ability to parse non-literal language.

I also apologize if I didn't explain myself very well in this metatalk post. I struggle with putting together coherent paragraphs these days.

Thank you.
posted by yesster at 7:04 AM on August 4, 2016 [2 favorites]


Yes, I mentioned neurology because I understand it is a very real issue. As an educator who has worked on occasion with autism-spectrum disorders, I believe that "ask for clarification" is an important part of the toolkit - I don't offer it snarkily, but seriously and with respect. And it is useful for everyone at times.
posted by Miko at 7:05 AM on August 4, 2016 [4 favorites]


I might be stepping in it here, but..

In that context, it almost seems like threading of comments could be seen as an accessibility technology. I don't say that lightly-- accessibility in general a huge issue in computing often overlooked by 20- to 35-year-old developers.
posted by supercres at 7:11 AM on August 4, 2016


*pushes supercres down into the mud*

NO NO NO NO NO NO NO
posted by nom de poop at 7:14 AM on August 4, 2016 [18 favorites]


I might be stepping in it here, but..

Please, please make this a separate MeTa if you want to open that can of worms.
posted by tonycpsu at 7:15 AM on August 4, 2016 [8 favorites]


Threaded comments isn't a direction we're going to go in, here, sorry.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 7:16 AM on August 4, 2016 [41 favorites]


I suggest that riffing in threads excludes people without the same cultural background. It's insular and cliquey. And one person's response was to basically like it or leave it. Coming from a dominant culture, refusing to make allowances or to acknowledge how isolating those kinds of discussions are in an international setting are...is kind of racist. It's feels in this instance here like a very American response to question if there's a degree of racism. I'm thinking about people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds who are not in America... Or didn't grow up there. Australians, Poms and Canadians are probably going to survive . But my refugee husband with English as his third language and Australia as his fourth culture...wouldn't feel included. And doesn't.
posted by taff at 7:18 AM on August 4, 2016 [2 favorites]


yesster, I apologize for my initial snarky response upthread. I should have engaged with your premise seriously instead of reacting dismissively.

I think this kind of thing is hard partly because community members come to political discussions with different goals in mind. Some are here to grapple with and debate the ideas. Some are here to let off steam, or to seek/offer moral support during a frightening campaign. Some are here for the jokes.

In addition to individual conversation styles and cultural backgrounds, I feel like some of those goals are going to align better with literal, straightforward language than others. And when you have a thread consisting of a LOT of different users (a hundred? hundreds?) each looking for something slightly different from the discussion, any attempt at dictating the level of "directness" in language is going to alienate people or cause them to feel that they can't get what they, personally, are trying to get from the discussion.
posted by duffell at 7:31 AM on August 4, 2016 [5 favorites]


All those things you dislike are the things i absolutely love about Mefi and the political megaposts. Without the jokes, memes and goofing around, I might as well stick to The Guardian or BBC.

Also, I acknowledge that these posts act as much needed relief, therapy and sanity check for lots of American Mefites and I wouldn't want to rob them of that.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 7:37 AM on August 4, 2016 [36 favorites]


I agree with those who say the snark is the best part. If you don't get the joke, move on.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:38 AM on August 4, 2016 [11 favorites]


Hermeneutical metatalk is the best metatalk.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:41 AM on August 4, 2016 [2 favorites]


MetaFilter would be a better MetaFilter if the MetaFilterers at MetaFilter MetaFiltered the way I MetaFilter.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:44 AM on August 4, 2016 [24 favorites]


OK, typing "MetaFilter" that many times gave me the feeling you get when you're really high and the spelling of words starts to seem insane and unlikely, or your fingers just look preposterous.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:45 AM on August 4, 2016 [10 favorites]


I'm stepping out of this thread. I just can't do it.
posted by taff at 7:51 AM on August 4, 2016


this sarcasm is usually at the expense of the less privileged. Like someone who posted a now deleted comment about how no one cares about Melania Trump's immigration issues because she's a nice white European which is the type "we" prefer (sarcasm, of course, about what THEY think)

Yesterday I commented about how Katy Tur mentioned one of the Trump gaffes as "fighting with a baby" and someone quipped "now if it was a MUSLIM baby..." but didn't finish what would befall this hypothetical "Muslim baby" attending a Trump rally.

I mean haha! So funny, if it were a Muslim baby there would be violence against the baby! I mean that's what "they" would say! Oh the snark!

Is that what we want to tolerate and say is "the best part"
posted by zutalors! at 7:53 AM on August 4, 2016 [3 favorites]


OK, typing "MetaFilter" that many times gave me the feeling you get when you're really high and the spelling of words starts to seem insane and unlikely, or your fingers just look preposterous.

OH MY GOD stop making this about Trump.
posted by Etrigan at 7:55 AM on August 4, 2016 [21 favorites]


If you don't get the joke, move on.

It's not always question of not "getting" the joke, though. The riffs and jokes overwhelm the thread at times and make them difficult to follow. I know lots of mefites love the chatfilter nature of politics threads but it would be nice if we could respect a reasonable request to be more straightforward without so much snark and dismissiveness. Just consider the fact that there are users out there that would appreciate a little explanation! It's not a big ask.
posted by everybody had matching towels at 7:56 AM on August 4, 2016 [7 favorites]


taff, I see you are stepping out of the thread, but I still want to say, because I think it's important, that I do not agree with your conclusions here. It may be culturally exclusionary, but I don't necessarily see that as a bad thing. The American election, while international in affect, is the American election. We just recently had praise for the Brexit thread and how the conversation was allowed to proceed in a specifically British context. I can tell you for sure that I read that thread, it's still in my recent activity, and probably only understood about 30% of what I was reading. That's fine, the cultural context is important.
posted by OmieWise at 7:57 AM on August 4, 2016 [65 favorites]


I don't have any real problem with jokes or sarcasm, I either get it or assume I'm missing the joke. However, I do agree that posting fake quotes without a clear link to an obvious bit of satire is always confusing, especially in this election.
posted by Think_Long at 7:57 AM on August 4, 2016 [25 favorites]


(sarcasm, of course, about what THEY think)

In non-election threads, stuff like this where someone says "what $bad_person would say" ironically usually gets called out by Mods.

--
Those election/politics threads just swamp me: while I am interested in the substance of the issues, and in fact-checking, and in the jokes, I still don't know enough about every locality or every issue to tell what's real and what's not. It's kind of disorienting, to be honest, so I have begun to skip hundreds of comments at a time without a single qualm.
posted by wenestvedt at 8:01 AM on August 4, 2016 [5 favorites]


I have to say it would be so GREAT to have both the megathread which I love with popcorn-clutching glee and chomp down happily, and a much slower very-strictly moderated highlights-only thread which would be JUST for specific substantial events.

Would it be possible to have a mirror election thread as a test-run that is Severely Moderated? Like, agreed from up front by everyone in it - no chat, no one-liners, no derailing, no joke-only comments.

That way people unhappy in the glorious muddy swamp of the big thread can go and be serious in the Quiet Room Thread - which I would also read because it is nice to know how soon nuclear armageddon will be.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 8:08 AM on August 4, 2016 [3 favorites]


Unless … it's a whole, dominant group excluding people from the non dominant group…

Like by using scripts to hide the comments of posters who aren’t cool enough to get enough favorites to their contributions.
posted by terrapin at 8:20 AM on August 4, 2016 [3 favorites]


Citing specific examples of sarcasm and snark that bled into assholery is probably not going to trigger some binary switch in which we all agree all of that is bad.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:21 AM on August 4, 2016 [2 favorites]


I don't get a lot of the jokes that are based on being a young person. I don't consider it agist for them to make those jokes; they can have their jokes, and I will either do some quick Googling if it looks like it's worth the time, or scroll on and make a joke about moon boots or Lidsville.
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:31 AM on August 4, 2016 [32 favorites]


I agree with those who say the snark is the best part. If you don't get the joke, move on.

I have to move on in the election threads because I rarely get the joke. In a slow moving thread I find myself looking up references and acronyms all the time. That's not realistic in a fast moving thread if I want to keep up or participate in any way that makes sense.

If something is obviously a joke (in all threads here and just in life) that I'm not getting I can ignore it or look it up, but when someone says something that's plausible with no hint that it's a joke or sarcastic I often have no idea that it's going over my head because read literally it makes perfect sense. Then if I respond to it literally people are anywhere from confused to pointing and laughing. I'm an American with English as my first language so I can imagine this being far more difficult for people who are more removed from either the references or the topic. I support the intent of this MeTa but I'm not expecting it to happen.

I'll also add that there's often a thing where people say 'if it's not for you, move along,' 'every post can't be for everyone' and then say 'I NEED this to be my place to vent, discuss, whatever a topic.' I'm not sure people notice that they're doing this, but it seems a bit exclusionary. This doesn't bother me much but I've certainly noticed more of it over time.
posted by Clinging to the Wreckage at 8:35 AM on August 4, 2016 [6 favorites]


Even with the jokes, the election threads are frequently depressing enough to make me sink into my seat and shake my head in despair. Without the jokes, they'd be pretty tough to take.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:36 AM on August 4, 2016 [17 favorites]


Say what you mean. With no subtext. With no implied meaning. With no obligation for your readers to understand the implied references.

One of the great joys of Metafilter, is that this is possible here, and that someone may well appreciate it. And a shared giggle or even a snort is always a nice thing. Not all riffs have to be for everyone---I certainly don't always get the jokes. That's fine, I can move on (or learn something new).

I certainly don't want see this place become another forum where humour or creative comments are unacceptable. I get that at work. And this is one of the major failings of places like Reddit where the readership is less educated and younger. I come here, at least in part to get away from that.
posted by bonehead at 8:51 AM on August 4, 2016 [14 favorites]


> I suggest that riffing in threads excludes people without the same cultural background. It's insular and cliquey.

No, it's human. That's how human beings, by and large, are.

> kind of racist.

That's just plain bullshit, and insulting bullshit to boot. Stop it.

Look, nobody can understand everything everywhere automatically. I like to read Russian, and I hang out in Russian venues where people are making Russian in-jokes which I frequently do not get. Do I get pissed off and demand they express themselves in a way I can easily understand? No, I google and try to figure out what I'm missing and if necessary e-mail a Russian friend to ask and sometimes just shrug and move on. I honestly do not understand how it's possible to think you have some sort of inherent right to easy understanding of everything everyone says.
posted by languagehat at 8:56 AM on August 4, 2016 [131 favorites]


I certainly don't want see this place become another forum where humour or creative comments are unacceptable.

Oh gosh neither do I.

I honestly do not understand how it's possible to think you have some sort of inherent right to easy understanding of everything everyone says.

That's not what I was after either.

In a text-only format like we have here, a lot of subtlety and nuance is lost. My intent was to emphasize that.

This is not a new topic. There's been lots of discussion (and joking) over the "hamburger tag." For exactly this reason.

I love and respect so many of you guys, and I really appreciate your input here ("here" as in MetaFilter, and "here" as in this thread in particular).

There's a certain kind of irony here, when I ask for folks to be more clear, yet I can't seem to communicate my intentions clearly.

Sorry about that.
posted by yesster at 9:06 AM on August 4, 2016 [6 favorites]


I don't have any real problem with jokes or sarcasm, I either get it or assume I'm missing the joke. However, I do agree that posting fake quotes without a clear link to an obvious bit of satire is always confusing, especially in this election.

Yeah, fake quotes in this election are really bad pool because it is impossible to tell at this point what is real and what is not using ordinary metrics.

For example, the Washington Post had a blog post with this headline yesterday: "Republicans nominate dangerously insane person to lead America, then panic when he proves he’s dangerously insane". In a normal year I would assume that was a hyperbolic gloss on the actual article, but not this year.
posted by winna at 9:11 AM on August 4, 2016 [22 favorites]


Half the jokes are about the fact that there is completely-impossible-to-credit stuff happening hourly, every day, in real life--I think some of the people asking what is real and what's parody are asking somewhat facetiously, to point out that we're living in surreal times. I can definitely see how it would get confusing were I reading the threads like a normal person, rather than like the complete addict I have become, but one thing I've noticed is that confusion gets cleared up relatively quickly. The parody site with the joke where David Duke withdraws his endorsement of Trump--were that real it would show up forty times in quick succession, without several people popping up to say "word to the wise, that's a joke site," and possibly with a few people posting "is it really true? omg it's really true..." And then it would show up on CNN.

"The riffs and jokes overwhelm the thread at times and make them difficult to follow."
Usually that's during lulls in the action, when nobody's actively making news. Again, I sympathize, though, because this wouldn't be clear unless you were following compulsively.
posted by Don Pepino at 9:13 AM on August 4, 2016 [2 favorites]


In a text-only format like we have here, a lot of subtlety and nuance is lost. My intent was to emphasize that.

Even if nothing changes as a result of this meta, I'm glad you said something. So, thanks for that. Ultimately tho, I don't think this is something that the community can change. But... I also don't always get cultural references.

If I'm not sure what something means from a comment's context, I sometimes ask. Or google search. Sometimes that helps. Sometimes it doesn't. For example, I've never watched the show "Parks and Recreation", and every once in a while one of those riffs will include a reference to "Leslie Knope." It's possible to know which show the character comes from but not understand why she's being referenced.
posted by zarq at 9:17 AM on August 4, 2016 [5 favorites]


Just like the other request for PERFECT CLARITY ALL THE TIME ON METAFILTER, I feel like the asker is missing the point that sometimes the medium is the message.

Sometimes, irony/sarcasm/lulz is the best way to get across the point that the commenter is making in the way they want to make it. Because I/S/L is a way of expressing frustration with a thing without going into all caps raging venting at how stupid/angry making the whole thing is.

In the age of online regular dictionaries, urbandictionary.com, and knowyourmeme.com, there really aren't all that many "cultural" references that are completely inscrutable.

As far as posting "fake" quotes as if they are true -- it takes less than 10 seconds (on my phone) to copy-paste a quote into google to find out the source. Anyone who decides to believe something controversial solely on the basis of a comment on a community weblog deserves any ridicule they get, sorry.

And all that being said, just to prove that what is being ask for here is impossible (even if it were desirable) I have no idea why this meta starts by going on about the term "punch drunk", a term that has been in the lexicon for almost a century but hasn't been used in the most recent electrion thread. And so in the Metafilter that this asker wants, this MeTa couldn't even exist.
posted by sparklemotion at 9:18 AM on August 4, 2016 [8 favorites]


I sort of love it when people make references that completely fly over my head. If I can't google up an explanation sometimes I'll even memail them to ask what they were referencing. I learn about new stuff this way. It's neat.

But I will say that I'm sympathetic toward anyone who needs #satire and #notsatire tags when people are liveblogging Trump quotes
posted by prize bull octorok at 9:24 AM on August 4, 2016 [23 favorites]



> kind of racist.

That's just plain bullshit, and insulting bullshit to boot. Stop it.


I'm totally bewildered by this level of hostility.
posted by zutalors! at 9:26 AM on August 4, 2016 [17 favorites]


As far as posting "fake" quotes as if they are true -- it takes less than 10 seconds (on my phone) to copy-paste a quote into google to find out the source. Anyone who decides to believe something controversial solely on the basis of a comment on a community weblog deserves any ridicule they get, sorry.

Empathy, who needs it?!

*sigh*

Yesterday's post was made at 2:01pm.

Then:
How did you people already put a hundred and sixty damn comments into this thread
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 3:18 PM on August 3 [21 favorites +] [!] Other [1/6]: ·≡»
That was at the 77 minute mark.

It's been 20 hours. The thread now has 1128 comments in total. By the time I finish typing this, it will probably have around 1140.

Comments in the election threads flow like a firehose turned on full blast. It can be hard to keep up. And when something is being presented as a fact, it's natural for people to believe it.

And all that being said, just to prove that what is being ask for here is impossible (even if it were desirable) I have no idea why this meta starts by going on about the term "punch drunk", a term that has been in the lexicon for almost a century but hasn't been used in the most recent electrion thread. And so in the Metafilter that this asker wants, this MeTa couldn't even exist.

And yet, we can still address the concern without dismissing it, can't we?
posted by zarq at 9:27 AM on August 4, 2016 [11 favorites]


> I'm totally bewildered by this level of hostility.

Really? You're totally bewildered by hostility towards bullshit accusations of racism, one of the most serious accusations that can be made around these parts? I'm bewildered by your bewilderment.
posted by languagehat at 9:34 AM on August 4, 2016 [31 favorites]


Anyone who decides to believe something controversial solely on the basis of a comment on a community weblog deserves any ridicule they get, sorry.

I disagree strongly, particularly with the word "deserves".
posted by puddledork at 9:35 AM on August 4, 2016 [5 favorites]



> I'm totally bewildered by this level of hostility.

Really? You're totally bewildered by hostility towards bullshit accusations of racism, one of the most serious accusations that can be made around these parts? I'm bewildered by your bewilderment.


Yes, I find your baseless accusations of ill intent incredibly hostile, and your willingness to spew it in whatever direction incredibly bewildering.

If you don't feel like following through on the OP request, just...don't do it.
posted by zutalors! at 9:36 AM on August 4, 2016 [7 favorites]


Would you stride into an IRL conversation and request that everybody stop making jokes and using idioms because not everyone will be able to get every reference?
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:37 AM on August 4, 2016 [14 favorites]


we can still address the concern without dismissing it, can't we?

My comment addressed the fact that the request was undesirable, (arguably) unnecessary, and finally, impossible. That's hardly dismissing -- that's taking on the concern in triplicate.

Yes, the election threads are firehosey. Too much for me (non-American, but I guess not foreign enough for my opinions on clarity to count) to even bother trying to keep up mostly. Does that mean that by commenting in them people are being exclusionary?

Re: racism -- the concern trolly "oh, but the poor immigrants won't understand all your yankee idioms" is absolutely bullshit, and trying to legitimize the concern trolling with accusations of racism is just shitty persuasion. Doubling down by tone policing someone who calls out the bullshit doesn't help.
posted by sparklemotion at 9:38 AM on August 4, 2016 [11 favorites]


Note: Everyone needs a hug.
posted by Etrigan at 9:39 AM on August 4, 2016 [12 favorites]


Gonna suggest that we step away from the "how angry should we be about what other people have said in here" thing, and keep things constructive.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 9:40 AM on August 4, 2016 [9 favorites]


I agree that I deserve any ridicule that I get, for many reasons, but I think it's a good courtesy in massive threads that most of us are scanning relatively quickly for content to have a clear indication when something is factually untrue.
posted by Think_Long at 9:40 AM on August 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


As a non-American who has been following US election threads since 2000 (on MeFi and elsewhere), I'm not bothered at all by jokes, ambiguous quotes, mystery acronyms and obscure references when they're made by Americans on an American topic. The Brexit thread had lots of them by UK Mefites too, and that was great and, more often than not, actually informative. We really need sarcasm et lulz here and, having been brought up with Charlie Hebdo, I love satire, sarcasm, Poe's law, second degré humour and the like. If I don't get something that I feel is actually interesting, I'll look it up. If I'm not interested, I'll pass, no big deal. There are many issues with Metafilter's default US-centrism but I don't think that this is one of them.
posted by elgilito at 9:43 AM on August 4, 2016 [21 favorites]


Even as someone who "gets" the cultural references, I would adore an election thread with comments and links of substance instead of the MST3K-ing of live campaign events as they happen and random lol-tweets. A thread that one could read and contribute to without feeling like they are crashing a private party in someone's living room. A thread that is not impossible to pop in and out of a few times a day without being left hundreds and hundreds of comments behind.

Simultaneously, I know that won't happen. The ship has sailed - comments that would be flagged as "noise" are not only just okay, but welcomed as a way to blow off the stress. And with the comments spreading like kudzu, that level of moderation would be impossible to ask.

The threads are popular, yes. But I still wonder how many more people would feel welcome to participate in the discussion if it was tighter.
posted by kimberussell at 9:43 AM on August 4, 2016 [10 favorites]


I mean I responded specifically to this MeTa because of a comment that was like "Oh in America we only like white Europeans" which to me is the inappropriate use of sarcasm that does read to me as racist and is entirely unnecessary.

It's different than like "Oh this is just like the Citizen Kang episode of the Simpsons" which people could just Google.

Possibly I misunderstood there or whatever but I don't think the racist accusations were disingenuous bullshit.
posted by zutalors! at 9:45 AM on August 4, 2016 [7 favorites]


kimberussell, I just have to say that your use of "MST3K-ing" is perfect... even if awkwardly a cultural reference about rapid-fire obscure cultural references.
posted by duffell at 9:50 AM on August 4, 2016 [7 favorites]


As far as posting "fake" quotes as if they are true -- it takes less than 10 seconds (on my phone) to copy-paste a quote into google to find out the source. Anyone who decides to believe something controversial solely on the basis of a comment on a community weblog deserves any ridicule they get, sorry.

I mentioned this in another thread, but I'm my mother's primary caregiver and that means for 14-16 hours every day -- essentially my every waking moment -- and I'm in constant state of responding to her. So even if I want to google something there's a good chance that will be interrupted and by the time I make it back to the thread even a few minutes later the conversation has zoomed by. Unless you're in a position to be parked in front of a computer it's not even possible to catch up on what you missed, even without the googling. To suggest that anyone else is deserving of ridicule (?!) is not very nice and weirdly aggro.
posted by Room 641-A at 9:51 AM on August 4, 2016 [8 favorites]


My comment addressed the fact that the request was undesirable, (arguably) unnecessary, and finally, impossible. That's hardly dismissing -- that's taking on the concern in triplicate.

Telling people they should (paraphrasing) use google and stfu is being dismissive.

Yes, the election threads are firehosey. Too much for me (non-American, but I guess not foreign enough for my opinions on clarity to count) to even bother trying to keep up mostly. Does that mean that by commenting in them people are being exclusionary?

What are you talking about? The OP didn't make any claims either in the post or in their comments that either sarcastic comments and/or their inability to understand certain cultural references are exclusionary. They said: " It is really really really hard sometimes for some of us to understand what is going on when people aren't being straightforward."
posted by zarq at 9:51 AM on August 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


I don't understand -- what does "MST3K-ing" mean? And which ship is sailing? I was unaware that any of the campaigns featured official water craft. And comments are just words typed into a webbrowser -- how can they spread like an invasive plant? Please say what you mean.

"Oh in America we only like white Europeans"

This to me is the perfect use of sarcasm. To say it literally, would be saying something like "The kinds of people who are angry about immigration tend not to have the same qualms about white European immigrants" which is not only long, but is a very "us vs. them" framing, and at least an American making a joke like that is acknowledging their place in an America that can be very very racist in that particular way.
posted by sparklemotion at 9:52 AM on August 4, 2016 [5 favorites]


Yesterday I commented about how Katy Tur mentioned one of the Trump gaffes as "fighting with a baby" and someone quipped "now if it was a MUSLIM baby..." but didn't finish what would befall this hypothetical "Muslim baby" attending a Trump rally.

That one was me. So I thought it might help to give a bit of my thinking behind the comment - not in a "OMG I must react to what you're saying!" way, but because I'm always conscious (as a writer) that non-verbal communication is very different to verbal and thus am always looking to improve on ways to do it. And your understanding of it there was very different from how I intended it to be taken, which is obviously a lesson for me (because intent doesn't matter if people don't read it that way) but also - maybe - to help those who struggle to understand the flow on some of these things on an emotional level to understand the logic.

Basically the comment in question is here and was made immediately after reading the comment above it.

The discussion at the time was largely "at what point do things become serious enough that the Republicans will disavow Trump?"

My thought / action process on that comment was therefore this:

1) THOUGHT: Previous comment has a list of things that have finally caused a Republican commentator to speak against Trump
2) THOUGHT: Last item on the list (the "straw that broke the camel's back" so to speak) was the baby thing
3) THOUGHT: A lot of the current Republican rhetoric is essentially racist and certainly "othering" of minorities. So I suspect it the baby or the mother had not been white then this may not have been seen as a dealbreaker by the Republican commentator. I should make a comment about that.
4) THOUGHT: has anyone else commented since that previous comment (as it was a fast moving thread)? If so, then I need to quote the previous post. If not then I can rely on proximity to the last comment, and to the last line of that comment to establish context.
5) THOUGHT: No they haven't.
6) ACTION: Make comment.

Now obviously that didn't work for you, and thus probably not for some others either so that's something I'll be adding to the thought process above in future!

But ultimately I'm always conscious that communicating on the web places an obligation on the reader to try and understand context and the unwritten rules of the medium as much as it does the writer to conform to them. So if my list of thoughts/actions above might help someone understand the logic behind the comment then that might hopefully be useful to others as well.

Anyway, just to add on the wider point - I 100% wouldn't want to see the approach taken in those threads changed. And I say that not despite, but because of the fact that I'm British and thus a "foreigner" in this context.

This is because Metafilter is - and those threads in particular are - for me a great place for encountering unfamiliar cultural touch points from across the pond in a way that is generally well written and often explained on request (although mostly I can figure them out either by similarity to other touch points, context or from Google). This has a couple of effects:

1) Once I understand them I can then enjoy them and see the value they bring to the discussion for many of the reasons mentioned above by other commentors here.
2) I can then recognise them and parse them in other places on the web (Twitter, Facebook etc) where they aren't as fully-fleshed out or explained, for reasons of space or style of dialogue. This improves my enjoyment and ability to contribute in those places.
3) It gives me an insight into the minds and day-to-day lives of people a whole half a world away. And call me an old internet romantic, but I will never, ever stop finding that pretty damn cool.
posted by garius at 9:55 AM on August 4, 2016 [12 favorites]



This to me is the perfect use of sarcasm. To say it literally, would be saying something like "The kinds of people who are angry about immigration tend not to have the same qualms about white European immigrants" which is not only long, but is a very "us vs. them" framing, and at least an American making a joke like that is acknowledging their place in an America that can be very very racist in that particular way.


It's pretty much the definition of the "That's what THOSE people say" framing that the mods haven't approved of outside election threads, so it's not appropriate there either.

That type of sarcasm is inappropriate and really offensive to PoC Metafilter people, and we've lobbied hard enough to get rid of it.
posted by zutalors! at 9:55 AM on August 4, 2016 [7 favorites]


So I think we've got a bunch of things happening that different people are objecting to - at least:

-ironic racism, xenophobia, sexism, etc
-cultural references that some readers don't get
-sarcasm that can be misunderstood
-satirical quotes or articles that can be taken as factual
-just chattering noise

We already ask folks not to do that first one, and I deleted the comment zutalors was talking about as soon as it was flagged. We've had a lot of discussions of this over the years and I think most people are at least in principle on board with understanding why it can be a problem.

Taff mentioned the second one as being a problem/racist; a lot of people in this thread including languagehat are disagreeing with this suggestion that cultural references should be off the table.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 9:56 AM on August 4, 2016 [11 favorites]


What are you talking about? The OP didn't make any claims either in the post or in their comments that either sarcastic comments and/or their inability to understand certain cultural references are exclusionary. They said: " It is really really really hard sometimes for some of us to understand what is going on when people aren't being straightforward."

Not the OP but:
But my refugee husband with English as his third language and Australia as his fourth culture...wouldn't feel included. And doesn't.

The point I was making is that you don't have to be some kind of hapless foreigner to be overwhelmed by the threads. So if "overwhelming" is the standard that we are going to use to police commenting/posting as being "exclusionary" then the election threads shouldn't exist.
posted by sparklemotion at 9:57 AM on August 4, 2016 [1 favorite]



1) THOUGHT: Previous comment has a list of things that have finally caused a Republican commentator to speak against Trump


it wasn't a "Republican commentator" it was a reporter

So the rest of your thought exercise was immediately false.

Yes I could have said "reporter Katy Tur" and point taken on that before anyone else makes it...but it wasn't a "Republican commentator" and she wasn't talking about herself.

Your "Muslim baby" comment had an implied further threat against Muslim children that we've seen a lot of here in the IRL America which is why it "didn't work for me"
posted by zutalors! at 10:00 AM on August 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


I don't understand -- what does "MST3K-ing" mean? And which ship is sailing? I was unaware that any of the campaigns featured official water craft. And comments are just words typed into a webbrowser -- how can they spread like an invasive plant? Please say what you mean.

You know, when I get worked up about something I can be cutting and abrasive as hell sometimes. It's something I tend to think about afterwards with regret.

But this is a level of condescension and deliberate "not getting it" that in all my time on metafilter even I've never managed to achieve. Kudos, I guess.
posted by zarq at 10:02 AM on August 4, 2016 [15 favorites]




We already ask folks not to do that first one, and I deleted the comment zutalors was talking about as soon as it was flagged. We've had a lot of discussions of this over the years and I think most people are at least in principle on board with understanding why it can be a problem.


thanks for this - was a little concerned by sparklemotion's relitigating that behavior as potentially acceptable.
posted by zutalors! at 10:03 AM on August 4, 2016 [5 favorites]


I've found over the last several years that I'm a lot happier here when I don't take every MeTa as being aimed directly at me personally.

Also, when someone says they personally feel like they're being excluded, No you're not, and you're wrong for saying that, how dare you! is more or less the opposite of helpful.
posted by Etrigan at 10:04 AM on August 4, 2016 [12 favorites]


I don't think the ironic racism example is what this MeTa is meant to be about anyway.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 10:05 AM on August 4, 2016


OP here again, hopefully for the last time in this thread.

I just want to note that:

1. I did restrict the domain of my concern just to the election megathreads,

2. I did say "some of us" and "sometimes."

3. It was a request, not a demand. A request for a courtesy.

But I will admit to, and apologize for, wording my post very poorly.

Thank you all for your considered contributions to this thread.
posted by yesster at 10:06 AM on August 4, 2016 [5 favorites]


But this is a level of condescension and deliberate "not getting it" that in all my time on metafilter even I've never managed to achieve. Kudos, I guess.

What I apparently deliberately "don't get" is how the cultural references I drew attention to are any different from the cultural references that we are being asked not to use.

I mean, yeah, I don't think that cultural references/idioms should be discouraged, but if there were any way of determining which ones were OK and which ones were too exclusionary, I'd at least be willing to consider modifying my own personal usage.
posted by sparklemotion at 10:06 AM on August 4, 2016 [4 favorites]


But there have been several commenters asking "is this real?" about links and quotations. It's not just me.

I think that's intended to some degree, because frankly what's going on in the American elections right now sort of defies credibility. Real, actual news stories are almost indistinguishable from satire. Donald Trump has the support of like 40% of American voters right now. He is saying a lot of crazy shit.
posted by Hoopo at 10:07 AM on August 4, 2016 [9 favorites]


HEY so speaking as a guy who essentially walked into this thread at the beginning and left a snarkpoop on the OP's doorstep, can I make a few suggestions, especially to the folks who--like me--happen to disagree with the premise of the original post?
  • Don't assume ill intent because someone disagrees with you.
  • Don't put words in the mouths of people you disagree with.
  • When responding to a comment, it is unfair to assume the commenter agrees with the substance of every other comment that supports their "side" of the argument.
  • In fact, try and resist the urge to see this as a matter of two sides duking it out.
  • Don't be deliberately obtuse to try and prove a point.
  • Don't escalate. Don't be the person that brings new levels of nastiness or condescension to a discussion.
  • Better yet: deliberately de-escalate.
I fall afoul of these guidelines sometimes, as most of us do, but let's try and at least take a breath and shoot for civility before posting.
posted by duffell at 10:08 AM on August 4, 2016 [20 favorites]


Um, maybe we can fanfare the election or something? Save the FPP's for more "informative and engaging" and less livebloggy?

Has this been suggested and decided as "not the good thing to do?" because it seems obvious to me?
posted by Annika Cicada at 10:13 AM on August 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


(FWIW I had a fun time in those threads and I apologize if I participated in an exclusionary "USian" way.)
posted by Annika Cicada at 10:15 AM on August 4, 2016


Has this been suggested and decided as "not the good thing to do?" because it seems obvious to me?

I believe it has been suggested and dismissed several times.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:16 AM on August 4, 2016


Folks have raised that suggestion, but in short, we're only now at the stage of experimenting with livebloggy event stuff on Fanfare for relatively chill topics (sports, Eurovision). The election threads are by a wide margin the busiest and most mod-intensive things on the site, and at times the fightiest, and moving them over to Fanfare would mean importing all that stuff over to a part of the site that's meant to be pretty friendly and low-moderation.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 10:18 AM on August 4, 2016 [7 favorites]


Um, maybe we can fanfare the election or something? Save the FPP's for more "informative and engaging" and less livebloggy?

1. I thought liveblogging was discouraged in Fanfare
2. I could see Fanfaring specific events (like the conventions), but "All of the Election News" is not an episode, movie, book, or theatrical release that fits into the way Fanfare is set up.
3. We have a "noise" flag for a reason -- if people are making comments in the election threads that aren't sufficiently "informative and engaging" for enough MeFites, the mods can delete as necessary in order to steer the conversation. But it seems like MeFi, as a whole, wants to have threads "about" the election, and for the most part they seem to go fine.
4. Moving election discussions to Fanfare won't stop people from using idiomatic English and/or using humor to make points/commiserate.
posted by sparklemotion at 10:18 AM on August 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


moving them over to Fanfare would mean importing all that stuff over to a part of the site that's meant to be pretty friendly and low-moderation.

Uh. I think I will be spending more time on Fanfare! This sounds like lovely metafiltering!

Nodding on the reasons, makes sense to me now.

I guess on the OP Meta Request, maybe we could all do a little better to put hyperlinks in our comments to pages or comments that help others get on board and clip and italicize parts of the comments we are referring to so it's easier to keep track.

I hear you OP, Obviously this has annoyed you and I don't think it's too much to ask to figure out how to be better with the in-jokes here in a way that invites others in.
posted by Annika Cicada at 10:26 AM on August 4, 2016 [2 favorites]


-But there have been several commenters asking "is this real?" about links and quotations. It's not just me.

-I think that's intended to some degree


Right, some of the "is this real?" responses to the jokes are jokes, themselves. And those jokes and the jokes that spawned them are jokes that emphasize the surreality of our current reality. The surreality of our current reality is the most interesting thing about this terrifying campaign. Those jokes aren't detracting from meaning, they're adding to meaning*.

*Except for some people, notably people not reading obsessively and cramming popcorn with both hands whenever they're not typing.**

**Actually, I agree with the OP about one cultural reference, at least: I would love it if people stopped making references to popcorn. Repeatedly reading about popcorn and clicking links to gifs of people enjoying delicious popcorn has led me to pop and eat considerable amounts of actual IRL corn. Thanks, Obama.
posted by Don Pepino at 10:26 AM on August 4, 2016 [11 favorites]


FWIW, I went and looked up the Muslim Baby exchange:

The first comment said that the republican party was turning on Trump because of [reasons] where [reasons] included yelling at a baby.

Second comment said "Now if had been a muslim baby..."

Which apparently is an implied thread of violence to a muslim baby somehow? I admit to being bewildered that that comment could be interpreted that way, as the second comment (when read in light of the first which was about the republican party turning on Trump) clearly meant "If it were a Muslim baby they'd still totally be on his side"

Maybe garius could have finished the sentence, but he got the point across and kept the comment short. Which, as far as we are actualy concerned about "straightforwardness" and "clarity" in the election threads is a benefit as it avoided adding to what was already a wall of text.
posted by sparklemotion at 10:31 AM on August 4, 2016 [11 favorites]


I feel like a thread about US politics is the perfect place for Americans to make these kinds of jokes and cultural references. It's their election, and it affects them most of all. We don't have to "get" everything. We can just read it and maybe learn a bit. Or we can ignore it. Metafilter certainly isn't the only site you can read about Trump and Clinton.

I was actually drawn to Metafilter during the Bush years because of these kinds of discussions. Reminds me of the old Iraq war threads and the whole "surely this" thing. That sort of thing annoyed some people then too but it was nice to be able to come to a place to discuss this stuff with people on the same page and blow off steam and not get in a fight with right wing trolls.

But this is a level of condescension and deliberate "not getting it" that in all my time on metafilter even I've never managed to achieve

not wild about the tone either but to be fair we're talking about a reference to a cult American TV show that ended 17 years ago and a reference to a plant that doesn't seem to be a major issue in a lot of non-US countries, in a thread about too many US cultural jokes and references. I mean I just had to google kudzu and I live about an hour by car from the USA
posted by Hoopo at 10:32 AM on August 4, 2016 [15 favorites]


Irony/sarcasm/lulz is SO FUCKING IRRITATING.

Please.

Say what you mean.

If you are linking to a site that is doing irony/sarcasm/satire, please please please SAY SO.


I had such a smart response to this, Swiftian-squared in its wit and multiplicity, but then I read duffell's comment above and realized I'd be transgressing on his last three points:

Don't be deliberately obtuse to try and prove a point.
Don't escalate. Don't be the person that brings new levels of nastiness or condescension to a discussion.
Better yet: deliberately de-escalate.


Which, I have to say, are great points. Because even if you know you're right, you're probably wrong -- just not about the thing you're thinking about. So thanks, duffell, for that. Peace is more important than victory, pretty much every time.
posted by philip-random at 10:34 AM on August 4, 2016 [8 favorites]


I was actually thinking of how Game Of Thrones Books-Included and Show-Only threads worked concurrently - usually the book included threads were much longer and chattier, and some people read both (I did) but in general respected the limits on the Show-Only thread.

The US elections are thankfully only once every four years, and this year is hopefully a bizarre aberration but maybe having two threads would help release some of the friction of two different discussion-seeking groups sharing space here.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 10:41 AM on August 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


Maybe garius could have finished the sentence, but he got the point across and kept the comment short

I don't think it's clear what the point even was, it was my read that if it was a Muslim baby the crowd would have beat it up or something. Finishing the sentence would have been helpful.

also garius completely misunderstood my comment as being about Katy Tur The Republican, so it didn't make any sense anyway.

Overall if we could avoid hurf durf those people hate Muslims/Mexicans hahahaha that would be great. The escalation of violent rhetoric is a sensitive enough topic.
posted by zutalors! at 10:41 AM on August 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


Oh I can see how it can be taken that way now, Zutalors! Certainly - especially with the clarification on the reporter thing. And rest assured sadly America isn't the only place with those issues of fear for non-whites. It's been pretty horrific here in Britain in places post-Brexit. Indeed in a way that's what I obliquely was attempting to highlight.

But like I said above - I wasn't attempting to justify the comment or say that my intent was the only way it could (or should) be taken - if anything I was saying the exact opposite. That I think there's always genuine benefits, and lessons, for both reader and writer in any misunderstanding. And understanding the thought process and actions can help divine those and avoid future issues.

Now for me, a specific lesson is that I should have been more clear and fullsome in what I was trying to convey and also be careful I don't assume someone is what I think they are. But I do also think (and I try and do it a lot more myself these days) that as a reader it's always also important to stop and think "is this definitely the ONLY way this could be taken?"

Because, especially on here, it's rare that anyone is genuinely trying to cause offence. And I love the fact that when it's pointed out to someone that they are, the general reaction is often to apologise and acknowledge rather than mount an ill founded defence.

And yeah, issues are always going to crop up in that kind of environment but I'd rather have that than a tightly locked down dialogue at all times any day. Because (to my mind) done well the former has a lot more humour and opportunity for mutual learning than the latter.
posted by garius at 10:50 AM on August 4, 2016 [5 favorites]


[One deleted; when the complaint is please don't invoke hypothetical violence against Muslim babies, probably better not to follow that up with even more severe hypothetical violence against Muslim babies.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 10:54 AM on August 4, 2016 [6 favorites]


Peace is more important than victory, pretty much every time.

Since dropping a reference to Vichy France would probably be too exclusionary, I'll just say that this is view is very easy to take from a position of privilege. And, ironically, another example of why this MeTa shouldn't exist -- if the goal is peace, then the asker should have just flagged the sarcasm and moved on.

The thought of a Trump victory is downright scary for a lot of immigrants/POC (and allies who care about us sorts of people). If people want to vent that fear through humor/satire/idioms/etc (without being shitty to those same people), I'd like to think that Metafilter is the kind of place that would encourage it. Vague requests for "straightforwardness" that imply that one some of the few tools disenfranchised folks have are somehow exclusionary are discouraging.
posted by sparklemotion at 10:58 AM on August 4, 2016 [15 favorites]


I think putting political threads into Fanfare is a problematic* idea.

*in this case, I use the word problematic to represent a range of personal reactions from horror that this should even be considered to concern for namespace confusion to disappointment as my work has Fanfare (but nothing else) blocked as an entertainment website to my base level of detached ennui (which masks a more deep-seated frustration) at that to which I am not but a passenger**.

**It was my hope/wish that there were sufficient breadth to the new set of emoji to represent all these feelings with more concision, but discoverability is a problem.
posted by bonehead at 11:01 AM on August 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


I was actually thinking of how Game Of Thrones Books-Included and Show-Only threads worked concurrently

This was actually a huge time-suck. There was a ton of fighting and deletions and notes and stuff, especially for the first season, because people would not get on board with the distinction between the two... and in that case, the line was pretty clear of what people were meant to keep out of the show-only thread.

I do sympathize with the idea of wanting everyone to have a discussion space that fits what they want, but I think it would be unworkable to have a two-concurrent-threads election policy arrangement. We're already pretty maxed out on the existing election threads, without having to mod two at a time and mod the additional overhead (questions, complaints, etc) about the fuzzy difference between what would go in the trivial-things-included thread vs. the only-major-things thread.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 11:08 AM on August 4, 2016 [7 favorites]


Overall if we could avoid hurf durf those people hate Muslims/Mexicans hahahaha that would be great. The escalation of violent rhetoric is a sensitive enough topic.

It's kind of the Republican platform this year.
posted by LionIndex at 11:09 AM on August 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


do we need to joke along with it? i don't think so.
posted by zutalors! at 11:10 AM on August 4, 2016 [7 favorites]


What I apparently deliberately "don't get" is how the cultural references I drew attention to are any different from the cultural references that we are being asked not to use.

People come to metatalk with reasonable and unreasonable requests on a regular basis. If we think something they've asked for isn't possible, it's perfectly okay for us not to react with high levels of sarcasm and/or condescension.

Ideally, people who aren't expressing racism, sexism or similar sentiments should not be made to feel like crap for posting to MetaTalk. That could discourage their future participation as well as that of other folks, who see the reception such requests receive from the community.

Also, being respectful to others who aren't being nasty to us or saying outrageous things costs us nothing.

I mean, yeah, I don't think that cultural references/idioms should be discouraged, but if there were any way of determining which ones were OK

I don't think the OP's request is possible and said so upthread. However, I do believe that striving for clarity in the way we communicate with each other is a reasonable goal. This isn't a matter of what is allowed or not.
posted by zarq at 11:12 AM on August 4, 2016 [11 favorites]


Ideally, people who aren't expressing racism, sexism or similar sentiments should not be made to feel like crap for posting to MetaTalk. That could discourage their future participation as well as that of other folks, who see the reception such requests receive from the community.

My comments weren't intended to make anyone feel like crap. Nor (do I believe) should the particular comment in question (pointing out that cultural idioms are a natural part of english conversations) have made anyone feel like crap unless the point of the OP was to make those of us who use cultural idioms feel like crap in the first place. But, because impact is more important than intent, I offer my apologies to anyone who was made to feel bad.

On the other hand, I have a really hard time figuring out how comments accusing posters of lacking empathy, being condescending, or being deliberately obtuse are not intended to make that commenter feel like crap on top of being extremely disrespectful. So I don't really understand what you're trying to say with this comment.
posted by sparklemotion at 11:27 AM on August 4, 2016 [4 favorites]


I do believe that striving for clarity in the way we communicate with each other is a reasonable goal.

This is but one of the many modes people interact with this site. Metafilter, as opposed to say AskMe, isn't just a news site or an academic journal though. Many come here specifically for the ability to informally express themselves, which for many includes various forms of indirect humour. Sarcasm and irony has a human part of political speech for millennia.

I don't believe that all or even most commenters should strive for clarity as a primary goal on this site. Some may, some may sometimes. And that has value. But certainly not every one, not even the majority and not always. On some days, I need stupid jokes a lot more than I need straight-faced seriousness.
posted by bonehead at 11:29 AM on August 4, 2016 [22 favorites]


On the other hand, I have a really hard time figuring out how comments accusing posters of lacking empathy, being condescending, or being deliberately obtuse are not intended to make that commenter feel like crap on top of being extremely disrespectful. So I don't really understand what you're trying to say with this comment.

Can you answer a question for me? You can answer now, or you can think about it for awhile and come back to it if you like.

If someone feels condescended to by another user, and would like to say so, what do you think would be an appropriate way of expressing that?
posted by duffell at 11:35 AM on August 4, 2016 [5 favorites]


I do believe that striving for clarity in the way we communicate with each other is a reasonable goal.

I agree with bonehead that that goal is not always applicable at this site. Full earnestness should not be the only rhetorical style available to us. Some of the historically most-loved comments, for instance, have been satire, fiction, poetry, or orthogonal reflection. I like to keep those doors open and to work to maintain this as a place that can tolerate and enjoy and encourage a variety of discursive styles.
posted by Miko at 11:49 AM on August 4, 2016 [15 favorites]


If someone feels condescended to by another user, and would like to say so, what do you think would be an appropriate way of expressing that?

The glib answer, of course, would be FIAMO.

Less glib, take it to MeMail.

But honestly, "condescension" to me, is really just a question of tone. And tone policing just isn't a great way to have a conversation. So, I guess I have to wonder why it needs to be "expressed" at all, as opposed to talking about the substance of the topic/comment.

For example, I do feel like zarq's responses to me, in particular, in this thread have been really really shitty, and I will admit that the barbs landed (and hurt). But I didn't think it would be helpful for the conversation to call those out as such, so I didn't -- I tried to focus on the topic(s) at hand. On the other hand, when I, personally, got accused of being shitty and trying to discourage participation, by someone who who has been objectively shitty to me, I felt that pointing out the hypocrisy was appropriate (though, I will admit that I will probably look back on it as my "lowest" moment of this thread, because I do like to believe I'm above getting snippy about personal attacks but I'm also human so there you go).
posted by sparklemotion at 11:52 AM on August 4, 2016 [5 favorites]


In general, I disagree with the notion that people should be striving to avoid subtext and implied meaning in what they say. Yes, some cultural references and subtext are going to pass people by, and that's unfortunate, but employing only straightforward, non-idiomatic speech is far too limiting to be realistically possible, never mind reasonable. People just don't parse their thoughts that carefully.

For election threads, however, I do agree with the notion that people should not engage in or link to satire without it being fairly clear that it is, in fact, satire. For example, if you're going to pull quotes from an Onion article and link to it, it would be helpful to mention it's the Onion in your post, because not everyone clicks every link, and it's getting really pretty difficult to tell the difference between satire and actual things Donald Trump as said, so unless they click through, they might accept that the pull quote reflects reality.
posted by jacquilynne at 12:00 PM on August 4, 2016 [14 favorites]


OP here, once again.

I just want to let you know that the discussion here is bringing me to a more nuanced view of things.

Thank you all for that.
posted by yesster at 12:03 PM on August 4, 2016 [14 favorites]


sparklemotion:

Here's what you said:

I don't understand -- what does "MST3K-ing" mean? And which ship is sailing? I was unaware that any of the campaigns featured official water craft. And comments are just words typed into a webbrowser -- how can they spread like an invasive plant? Please say what you mean.

It was mocking. It was condescending. It was a shitty comment. I stand by my assessment upthread.
posted by zarq at 12:06 PM on August 4, 2016 [15 favorites]


On the other hand, when I, personally, got accused of being shitty and trying to discourage participation, by someone who who has been objectively shitty to me, I felt that pointing out the hypocrisy was appropriate (though, I will admit that I will probably look back on it as my "lowest" moment of this thread, because I do like to believe I'm above getting snippy about personal attacks but I'm also human so there you go).

Speaking solely for myself, I find that I don't remember when a MeFite says "Hey, that was shitty" about another MeFite. What I remember is when the accused digs in and makes a huge deal about how they weren't really being shitty how dare you accuse me of being shitty YOU'RE THE SHITTY ONE THIS WHOLE COURTROOM IS OUT OF ORDER.

As I say, that's just me.
posted by Etrigan at 12:09 PM on August 4, 2016 [11 favorites]


I value implied meaning and subtext. Please don't make it go away.
posted by Dressed to Kill at 12:12 PM on August 4, 2016 [11 favorites]


Zarq, for the sake of digital polity, don't make me use my Huey Long quote.

(Satire)
American politics has always contained nuanced affairs, in-jokes, etc. For example the cheese hat you see at conventions, in my book, don't joke about the hat because all of a sudden, my state mascot is suddenly a rodent which not true which is the crux of hurt, avoiding facts when confronted.
posted by clavdivs at 12:19 PM on August 4, 2016 [2 favorites]


Layered irony, referentiality, opacity, and subtext are like my favorite part of language, which is a gorgeous labyrinth of meaning that blossoms in hundreds of directions at once, full of tension and frisson and unfurling and retracting!

Some of you might be asking if I am mixing metaphors, because what kind of labyrinth blossoms? What kind of labyrinth grows and stretches and reveals and obscures itself in this way? To this I say you should totally read Blindsight by Peter Watts, the spaceship thing is just nuts, it rules
posted by Greg Nog at 12:25 PM on August 4, 2016 [32 favorites]


Greg your comment is House of Leaves and I don't like it
posted by beerperson at 12:38 PM on August 4, 2016 [11 favorites]


Hedgerows or masonry?
posted by clavdivs at 12:40 PM on August 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


When Americans visit other countries, they often try to impose American values or customs on that culture. Sometimes this is fairly innocent, like asking for ketchup in Italy, bigger portions in France, or insisting on calling football soccer pretty much anywhere that isn't America. This is often called being an ugly American. It's pretty much being culturally insensitive and ignorantly unaware.

When I go to these places and the dominant culture doesn't conform to my expectations, I can either realign my expectations, or can insist on being uncouth (I've done both, depending on the importance to me). But I would never accuse the people in the dominant culture of being racists just because they aren't accommodating my needs/wants.

If you take out subtext, implied meaning, and cultural references, I would literally be down to blatant sarcasm as my only means of communication.

So while I can sympathize will the idea that you feel excluded, I would suggest you perhaps need to change your emotional response to the problem. Feel challenged instead. Try to figure out the reference, try to understand the cultural meaning, try to get the joke. I work with a lot of international scholars. These are some of the smartest people in the world, and I tell a lot of jokes that fall flat, and I've probably alienated one or two people, but I don't give up on humor. Nothing sucks the fun out of a joke like explaining it, but I explain a lot of jokes. I also have to have a lot of cultural concerns explained to me.

I see this as a good thing. If I understood everything, if I got every joke, if I no references went over my head, well, I'd most likely be surrounded by people dumber than me (or at least smart people dumbing things down for me, which would be just as bad).
posted by cjorgensen at 12:46 PM on August 4, 2016 [20 favorites]


the spaceship thing is just nuts, it rules

I hated that book but I like you.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 12:46 PM on August 4, 2016 [17 favorites]


I like when this site is firing at multiple levels at once, and I'm learning, or smiling at comments I don't quite fully grasp, or just letting things wash over me. I need to stay on my toes and keep my brain flexible with new info and weirdness and layers of meaning. Hell, half the time I don't even know what level of humor/sincerity I'm operating on. It's fun to play in the grey areas.

Also regarding current political events, increasingly for me it feels like absurdity is the only viable response to disingenuous takes and unparalleled ignorance and bigotry. It's a coping mechanism but also more effective at dismantling awful arguments than it would be to earnestly cite facts or patiently engage, neither of which will be successful when people are exploiting fear and throwing mud.

(That's not to say good faith engagement on this site is bad or ineffective. We're in company where that has a good chance of working. I'm talking about, say, commenting on the latest ridiculous pundit take)
posted by naju at 12:57 PM on August 4, 2016 [10 favorites]


I acknowledge that the original question of this MeTa seems to have been resolved, and I respect that the thread is delving into issue-resolved-MeTa-silliness and I apologize to all reading if I'm being a buzzkill or rehashing by this:

zarq, I'm open to instruction on a better way to point out that it's pretty much impossible to have a conversation without cultural references than by calling out the use of cultural references in a comment that expresses the wish to have fewer cultural references.

Because I sincerely don't see the mocking or condescension in my comment. Maybe it was a little dead horse beating, because the point had been made already, but I thought that the example was particularly illustrative.

Similarly, I was sincere when I said that I do not understand the difference between my examples and what I understood the OP to be asking for or, for that matter, other examples of "obscure" references pointed out in the thread.
posted by sparklemotion at 12:57 PM on August 4, 2016 [5 favorites]


Because I sincerely don't see the mocking or condescension in my comment.

You acted like a parody of the OP. That's as much mocking as Trump waving his arms around when "quoting" Serge Kovalevski's arthrogryposis.
posted by Etrigan at 1:15 PM on August 4, 2016 [5 favorites]


Please. Say what you mean. With no subtext. With no implied meaning. With no obligation for your readers to understand the implied references.

The only word of this I agree with is the word "please."
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:18 PM on August 4, 2016 [6 favorites]


Another vote for indirection, performativity, and (genuine) irony as tools of cultural resistance.

Classic examples: queer camp; African-American shade, pointed indirectness, etc.

Interestingly, Marcyliena Morgan points out that while white, hegemonic US language ideology assigns speakers the responsibility for being understood, AAE language ideology assigns listeners the responsibility for understanding.
posted by feral_goldfish at 1:20 PM on August 4, 2016 [26 favorites]


MetaFilter: it's rare that anyone is genuinely trying to cause offence
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 1:24 PM on August 4, 2016 [2 favorites]


the spaceship thing is just nuts, it rules

I hated that book but I like you.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 12:46 PM on August 4 [2 favorites +] [!]


I like when this site is firing at multiple levels at once,


Speaking of multiple levels, this prompted a quick search of my docs mega-folder where I found Blindsight.pdf buried in the "misc-2" sub-folder. I think I know what I'll be reading for the next while.
posted by philip-random at 1:25 PM on August 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


I feel like this MeTa would be better served with more examples of the offending behavior, so I can form an opinion (given that I was confused at first when I thought I knew what it was)
posted by zutalors! at 1:27 PM on August 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure if this is the right place to ask this, but if people can at least try to search the currently active thread before posting articles, that would be lovely. Obviously, search terms differ and it's easy to duplicate something even if you search (I'm guilty here), but things are getting a little repetitive.
posted by zachlipton at 1:39 PM on August 4, 2016 [8 favorites]


You acted like a parody of the OP. That's as much mocking as Trump waving his arms around when "quoting" Serge Kovalevski's arthrogryposis.

Thanks for this. I disagree with the reasoning (and worry that the equivalence you are making here between irritation and disability is a tad offensive - though it's not my place to take that particular offense), but I appreciate the realization that people actually think this way.
posted by sparklemotion at 1:40 PM on August 4, 2016


I put subtext in a lot of my comments; partly because my mind is polluted by an abundance of half-remembered phrases that float around in circles like half-crushed plastic water bottles in the Pacific Garbage Patch; and partly because if I don't, a sunken part of me often will, and I'll end up saying something more caustic or more disgusting than I consciously intend.
posted by jamjam at 1:52 PM on August 4, 2016 [2 favorites]


I have actually read all of the election threads these last 3 weeks. Top to bottom. Refreshing as necessary.

I think that's the problem right there. Nothing is going to be accomplished in these threads, at least on the scale of the scale of the election. You're essentially listening to people scream and moan about the awfulness that is Trump, for the most part.

Pace yourself. Dip a toe in every now and then. Save the long swim for election night, where people will be on pins and needles, until it's announced, before midnight, that Hillary had one and collective sigh of relief is exhaled. Then join us for a smoke out back.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:56 PM on August 4, 2016 [10 favorites]


the awfulness that is Trump

less editorial please
posted by beerperson at 1:59 PM on August 4, 2016 [2 favorites]


For the love of Mitchell, don't make me whip out my MST3K quotes—

("I was popular in high school. Why does my kid have to be such a dud?")
posted by octobersurprise at 2:04 PM on August 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


You're essentially listening to people scream and moan about the awfulness that is Trump, for the most part.

It's called primal scream therapy.
posted by octobersurprise at 2:06 PM on August 4, 2016 [2 favorites]


Would you stride into an IRL conversation and request that everybody stop making jokes and using idioms because not everyone will be able to get every reference?

In certain settings I have indeed taken people aside from a group conversation to politely let them know that their extensive use of slang or idiomatic expression is leading to their not being understood by everyone, and is excluding people from the conversation, yes. It's usually led to far more productive and enjoyable interactions.
posted by Dysk at 2:13 PM on August 4, 2016 [4 favorites]


Yeah we do that a lot in libraryland... "Quit with the acronyms if what you're trying to do is get people to understand you"

I think I know what I'll be reading for the next while.

He puts a lot of his backlist online. I'd skip that one and go straight for Rifters but everyone has their own feels about his stuff.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 2:48 PM on August 4, 2016 [5 favorites]


He Nivens the science a bit much for my taste, but to each their own.
posted by bonehead at 2:52 PM on August 4, 2016 [2 favorites]


I'm doing what has been suggested and asking directly: what is this about Niven? As in David Niven? Jesus, what are we even talking about now?
posted by teponaztli at 3:19 PM on August 4, 2016 [5 favorites]


(That's not meta sarcasm. I mean, really, what are you all talking about?)
posted by teponaztli at 3:20 PM on August 4, 2016 [2 favorites]


Sorry. (really). Bad thread to start verbing names. Apologies.

Larry Niven, SF author from the 60s and 70s. Famous, or perhaps infamous, for enthusiastically taking science headlines as ideas for stories. Mostly shorts. This makes for neat fiction, but fictional devices that often bear little resemblance to reality.
posted by bonehead at 3:23 PM on August 4, 2016 [8 favorites]


Oh that sounds really cool! Thanks for explaining (and really, there's nothing to apologize for).

I wasn't going to comment, but since I did want to know what you all were talking about, I wasn't being glib when I said I'd take the approach suggested upthread and ask directly. And it worked! Proof that at least in this case it was good advice, and also proof that op's post did actually lead to something productive.

I've been plenty vocal about how much I dislike the election threads (which is why I wasn't going to comment), but it does sometimes help to have a meta post like this to clear up a few things for the people like me. I have a tendency (in life and on this site) to assume people think the worst of me for whatever reason, and it helps to remember that it's very easy to misunderstand people and to be misunderstood yourself. I always translate that into literally the worst possible interpretation (that other people are telling me I'm awful, and also that I'm coming off as a huge jerk in spite of my best efforts). This thread was sort of an illustration of how some of that maybe looks from the outside (unless someone here really does hate me), and I think it's a reminder that people probably mean the best more often than I sometimes imagine.
posted by teponaztli at 3:46 PM on August 4, 2016 [13 favorites]


And also, it did help to know that you can just ask directly about these things, which for me at least wasn't obvious. For my part I'll try to be more clear, too, and at the very least I can see how it doesn't have to be so bad to ask or to have someone ask you for clarity. I still think it's impractical for the election threads, but I'm going to stop myself because I think I've probably said what I have to say about those often enough.
posted by teponaztli at 3:49 PM on August 4, 2016


Me, too, teponaztli! ("I have a tendency [in life and on this site] to assume people think the worst of me for whatever reason, and it helps to remember that it's very easy to misunderstand people and to be misunderstood yourself.") It only this year occurred to me that I don't actually know what people are thinking, I'm only guessing, so why not be charitable to them and me and guess that they're thinking the best possible thing, not the worst? It's increased my peace of mind considerably (though I usually only remember that I made a vow to quit thinking the worst after an hour or two spent thinking the worst).
posted by Don Pepino at 4:07 PM on August 4, 2016 [3 favorites]


I always assume people aren't thinking of me.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:29 PM on August 4, 2016 [14 favorites]


I'm thinking of IRFH.
posted by Deoridhe at 5:17 PM on August 4, 2016 [14 favorites]


More seriously: I'm a fan of minimizing "ironic" racism/sexism/etc... and marking satire in Trump-related circumstances because it honestly is really difficult to tell. I think removing cultural references is nearly impossible, but putting some effort into finishing thoughts is probably a good idea.

I was thinking about how the jokes I make at work are really different from any other circumstance because we have such a shared understanding of the context and each other. I've made some really ...questionable quips in my time there, often the opposite of what I thought, but they worked because of the context. One struggled with MetaFilter as a context is that it feels personal and intimate but it isn't really; it's on my phone but it's also in thousands of other realities, far removed from my phone. I'm grateful of periodic reminders of the narrowness of my perception, so thanks for that!
posted by Deoridhe at 5:21 PM on August 4, 2016 [9 favorites]


minimizing "ironic" racism/sexism/etc

I'm pretty sure that's out of bounds anyway.
posted by Miko at 5:24 PM on August 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


I feel like I still see it some and it's "acceptable" as long as it's obvious enough or by the right author, but my memory of MeFi is weird now where I'll think of something from half a decade ago as if it were yesterday, so...
posted by ODiV at 5:33 PM on August 4, 2016 [1 favorite]




I feel like I still see it some and it's "acceptable" as long as it's obvious enough or by the right author,


Yeah some people get a free pass, for sure.
posted by zutalors! at 5:39 PM on August 4, 2016 [2 favorites]


Yeah some people get a free pass, for sure.

I love you zutalors!, but I've never seen evidence of this. I do think that there is a difference between dropping ironic --ism into a thread at random, and putting voice to something that is an unspoken part of the platform of, e.g., Trump. I'm not sure how to think about that, ultimately, but I do think there is a difference.
posted by OmieWise at 6:07 PM on August 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


One struggled with MetaFilter as a context is that it feels personal and intimate but it isn't really; it's on my phone but it's also in thousands of other realities, far removed from my phone.

It is both of those things. Which is what makes election threads so heartwarming (or at least, heart de-icing). Jokes, nudges, etc. create intimate context out of the ether, in ways that 'straightforward' language can't. The further away the realities are, the more exciting the sense of solidarity when ironic points of light* flash** each other, so to speak.

* Literary reference. W. H. Auden, 1st September 1939. 'A thousand points of light' would have scanned too, but lost something.

** Urban Dictionary:
To show an "inappropriate" body part by quickly moving a object or artical of clothing out of the way then back "flashing" the part at somone
dude, she just flashed you!
by Chirs Stage February 14, 2005

posted by feral_goldfish at 6:11 PM on August 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


If we're going to "relitigate" ironic *isms, for me they are OK if the irony is clear given the context* and they are funny. This is a high bar to meet, so I won't be defending to the death anyone's "right**" to make those particular jokes***.

*which, come on, this is Metafilter -- you don't find real racists when you scratch ironic jokes here.
**given the topic of this thread, I guess it's important to be clear that I am not under the impression that the moderation policies here are any kind of hindrance to free speech.
***if you wanted to google quotes that are commonly misattributed to Voltaire I guess you could but I hope people don't feel excluded by the offhand reference here as this seems like a perfect example of where the reference is what makes the point.
posted by sparklemotion at 6:19 PM on August 4, 2016 [1 favorite]



If we're going to "relitigate" ironic *isms,


No, please stop trying to do this.
posted by zutalors! at 6:21 PM on August 4, 2016 [7 favorites]


Speaking solely for myself, I find that I don't remember when a MeFite says "Hey, that was shitty" about another MeFite. What I remember is when the accused digs in and makes a huge deal about how they weren't really being shitty how dare you accuse me of being shitty YOU'RE THE SHITTY ONE THIS WHOLE COURTROOM IS OUT OF ORDER.

As I say, that's just me.


I think you and a few other people are being really shitty to sparklemotion in this thread.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 6:22 PM on August 4, 2016 [3 favorites]


Also, "the accused" "digs in" ?

There is more than one right answer sometimes. It's creepy to have this attitude about people disagreeing with an accusation against them. You didn't even specify racism, sexism, etc. Just being accused of being "shitty." What does that even mean?
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 6:24 PM on August 4, 2016 [5 favorites]


> ...and marking satire in Trump-related circumstances because it honestly is really difficult to tell.

That's absolutely no one on this site's fault.

So other day I read a headline that said, "Trump Has Worst 72 Hours of His Campaign So Far," and the next day the baby thing broke out, and the nuke thing surfaced, and I mentally updated that number from 72 to 96. This got me wondering what the next fiasco would be.

Point is, you can't make up this stuff. I read a parody of him and it took me way too long to realize it wasn't actually him. I found that pretty effective.

Had it been marked, "Parody of Trump," it probably wouldn't have been worth reading.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:49 PM on August 4, 2016 [3 favorites]


It does seem that megathreads, especially emotionally charged ones, are overwhelming to lots of people for lots of reasons. I'm sure making them more digestible in form has already been discussed somewhere - I gather threading is out, can they not be made shorter, more digestible? Capped at 500 comments, then "continue to page 2". (I'm sure that's also been discussed and probably rejected, but it seems easy and I like it so I'm bringing it up.)
posted by cotton dress sock at 7:32 PM on August 4, 2016


Following up on Rock'em Sock'em's earlier comment, I'm sure people aren't *trying* to be "shitty" to sparklemotion in this thread, but reading along, I've definitely had the sense that some are just instinctively reading her comments in a way that are totally different to how I instinctively read them, and reacting with annoyance to what they see. The lines that set zarq off, for example, just look to me like "here's an ironic example meant to illustrate that everything is already drenched in cultural references", which I personally can imagine coming off as snarky, but not as horrible and mean.
My broader point is *not* that the people who didn't read sparklemotion's (or whoever else's) comments in the way *I* did is clueless and wrong, it's that this is yet another MetaTalk thread where one can start to see just how different people's viewpoints, and desires for what the site should be like, can be. Even on a site like this where the broader community values seem pretty clear, there are still plenty of incompatible but quite valid ideals. So, it's basically a microcosm of a functioning democracy...no clear answers, and we can only fall back on cheesy but important meta-values like "try to give each other the benefit of the doubt" and so forth. Maybe even something ultra-lame like "everybody needs a hug".
posted by uosuaq at 7:51 PM on August 4, 2016 [9 favorites]


I feel like I still see it some and it's "acceptable" as long as it's obvious enough or by the right author

If you see something like that, just flag it or otherwise bring it up for action, rather than assuming the writer is getting "a pass." If they are really crossing the boundaries, and you don't flag, then the pass they're getting is from you.
posted by Miko at 8:11 PM on August 4, 2016 [5 favorites]


I love OmieWise back, but some people do get a pass even with flagging. It's not egregious so I just roll my eyes but it happens. The site's not perfect and the mods are people, it's fine. But it's a real thing.
posted by zutalors! at 8:14 PM on August 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


Who are the people
posted by Greg Nog at 8:19 PM on August 4, 2016


Probably best not to turn this into a roll call of annoying people, but it's totally fine to drop us a line directly and tell us about patterns you're seeing. We don't always catch them, because we tend to read threads differently than regular users - most especially super-long threads.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 8:26 PM on August 4, 2016 [3 favorites]




Probably best not to turn this into a roll call of annoying people,


Yeah I am 100% not going to do that. I appreciate the mods' work overall in tamping this down, and appreciate people who understand the spirit of trying to keep ironic isms off Metafilter, rather than trying to "gotcha" into naming and shaming people or whatever.
posted by zutalors! at 8:31 PM on August 4, 2016


One thing I'm having a little trouble understanding from the original request is in the importance of separating out one set of cultural references, made in sarcasm perhaps or just linked to some more obscure item, from the the more obvious impossible to remove set of obscure cultural references which just come along with any serious discussion of some culture specific events.

Someone, say, comparing this election to one from another era perhaps, or mentioning the names of some other politicians that somehow might speak to a point, by themselves will be exclusionary since we certainly won't all have the same set of background knowledge for any event and the more area or informationally specific the event the less likely some references will be broadly understood becomes.

As such, I can't see treating humorous references any differently than more serious ones which could be just as opaque and possibly just as off the point.

I also tend to agree with the notion that some forms of communication , like sarcasm, may not be immediately clear to everyone, but they nonetheless still serve a meaningful communicative function both for the speaker and the listener (or writer and reader in this instance). There are some things, for example, so hard to digest that the mind rebels against responding seriously in order to preserve some better sense of one's place or reason. It's the joking at a wake phenomenon. Attempting to curtail that may not in fact improve tone or quality of message but could in some instances harm it as people then would be forced to more directly confront something they need to keep at more of a distance to remain emotionally balanced in the moment.
posted by gusottertrout at 8:34 PM on August 4, 2016 [6 favorites]


Just to be clear though, I didn't say all that as an invitation for more Hamilton quoting.
posted by gusottertrout at 8:38 PM on August 4, 2016 [7 favorites]


I kind of wish there were a clearer delineation between "cultural jokes" and "sarcasm" because I think the cultural jokes are fine and generally unavoidable, since we can't talk about this election without reference to American elections in general and the culture in general. But the sarcasm I can take a hard pass on.
posted by zutalors! at 8:41 PM on August 4, 2016 [2 favorites]


For me, sarcasm, like a number of other more nuanced forms of communication can really be useful and effective if done well, but just like anything that requires nuance or skill, not everyone will do it well. When misjudged in tone or effect it can be disruptive in any number of ways. We can't judge which it will be before the fact nor limit its use to only "skilled" practitioners obviously, but I don't think that should mean we should then jettison a significant form of communication due to its variability since serious comment isn't immune to wide variation either.
posted by gusottertrout at 8:52 PM on August 4, 2016 [4 favorites]


Given the political thread explosion, is there a need for a temporary mod hire? Like a 4-month part time contact for someone to relieve the pressure on the current moderators?

I can see that being something people would donate towards as a one-time special cost to keep things running smoothly at metafilter if it would be helpful.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 8:56 PM on August 4, 2016


I mean, even if things are running smoothly now, it seems to be really taxing on the mods to have to constantly monitor the election threads. I'm sure they could use the help. But would it be worth the difficulty of finding and hiring a new person (and working out how to pay them within the site's budget) for such a short term position?
posted by teponaztli at 11:57 PM on August 4, 2016


Yeah some people get a free pass, for sure.

It's rare that I get my sarcastic transphobia deleted, for example. But if you started doing so, I would be left with no tools to call or bullshit that has blatant and awful transphobia or transmisogyny written allcaps between the lines other than to earnestly start talking about how fucking awful the person who posted it is, and I really don't think that's the better option.
posted by Dysk at 1:14 AM on August 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


- Remember that the recipient is a human being whose culture,
language, and humor have different points of reference from your
own. Remember that date formats, measurements, and idioms may
not travel well. Be especially careful with sarcasm.


RFC 1855 Netiquette Guidelines, Internet Engineering Task Force, October 1995

/S
posted by polymodus at 3:15 AM on August 5, 2016 [5 favorites]


For years now I've been seeing people respond to certain topics on the blue with some variation of "this thread is not for you," usually when the topic is sociological, to tamp down on some line of discussion that isn't in line with the predominate crowd of folks in the thread. It consistently seems to stand without mod refutation.

So if that's the accepted MF culture I'm not sure how you can push back on the emergent nature of the political threads. They reflect the desires of the participants and the speed of them seems to indicate there's plenty of people of are perfectly happy with the irony/sarcasm/comedy style of chit-chat being a sizable portion of them. If that's the predominant tone in there then maybe this is another place where those threads are "not for you."

It's never enjoyable to get told nope, this way of approaching this topic that you want to apply isn't welcome here but metafiler is big and contains legions. I don't think we should take it personally when a discussion just isn't in our style, as opposed to being deliberately shitty/exclusionary.
posted by phearlez at 9:40 AM on August 5, 2016 [6 favorites]


Remember that the recipient is a human being whose culture,
language, and humor have different points of reference from your
own. Remember that date formats, measurements, and idioms may
not travel well. Be especially careful with sarcasm.


extreme A: absolute freedom to express oneself with whatever words and ambiguities one desires.

extreme B: impose Esperanto as Metafilter's official language.

Both of these are absurd. Nobody in this thread is arguing for either, though I'd argue that the site as a whole leans more toward A than B, as does free discourse in general. But that's just how I see things.

They reflect the desires of the participants and the speed of them seems to indicate there's plenty of people of are perfectly happy with the irony/sarcasm/comedy style of chit-chat being a sizable portion of them. If that's the predominant tone in there then maybe this is another place where those threads are "not for you."

I've been avoiding the political threads for a few months now, not because I find them off-putting, stressful, offensive, but because I just haven't had the time/energy to keep up. So yeah, by that definition, "not for me". And I'm probably sleeping better as a result.
posted by philip-random at 9:56 AM on August 5, 2016


I have here in my hand a list of 31 flavors that were made known to the Moderators as being delicious and fit for Immediate Scooping and which nevertheless are still untouched and melting away on the Side Table.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 9:58 AM on August 5, 2016 [4 favorites]


Just to be clear though, I didn't say all that as an invitation for more Hamilton quoting.

Not so much trying to make a point here as trying to express genuine thanks: I am grateful for the Hamilton references. Especially those not explicitly tagged as such. The sheer repetitive poking and sense of missing out made me go find this thing, which is indeed highly pertinent etc., and finally get why, when Barack was like, "She's been in the room", people were like: ""IN THE ROOM' -- YES -- C'MON BARACK JUST SAY IT, YOU CAN DO THIS ...", which is a joy.

Thank you.
posted by feral_goldfish at 10:22 AM on August 5, 2016 [6 favorites]


I have an odd thought, but one way we might address this situation is via Genius annotation. To whit, if a few users are willing to create meta-commentary via Genius on threads as requested by various users, it might allow people who are having a hard time catching references to better follow what's going on. For everyone who doesn't feel they want the additional commentary, they'll be completely unaware its happening unless they are reading using Genius.

The drawback being, of course, that Genius is a largely unmoderated hellscape. Perhaps we need a special Meta-Meta moderated annotation system. And a larger supply of hard liquor for the mods.
posted by Joey Michaels at 5:06 PM on August 5, 2016


i just ate mushrooms and i love all you people even the people i hate and why cant we all talk like hulk all the time anyway huh huh
posted by y2karl at 10:20 PM on August 8, 2016 [5 favorites]


We love you too y2karl.
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:53 PM on August 8, 2016 [3 favorites]


As someone who was fairly harshly treated and pretty much called names for suggesting in some threads of international significance we could consider not being cliquey and insular...I feel it's too early to joke about it, y2karl. I kind of regret dipping out so quickly upthread but felt myself getting very frustrated. When I later read comments directed at me and about people from culturally linguistically diverse backgrounds I started to get angry, then just became really, really upset.

I wanted to address one aspect at one time, for consideration. That asking everyone discuss the election in an American way (not exactly sure how to define that) all the time, might exclude people not from/in America. An American election with Trump discussing nuclear options is not the same diplomatically, nor economically nor strategically as Brexit (or HBO).

So far, there's nowhere here where people from different backgrounds can not be overwhelmed by the style and I suggest it's exclusionary. I'm not the boss of metafilter and I didn't make a post about it, I simply suggested there was a problem.

I'm not a concern troll and that awful phrase above "hapless foreigner" is pretty much exactly what I was pushing back against. Not all exclusion happens within the States. There are non American culturally and linguistically diverse people hanging out here with extraordinary educations and experiences and commands of language.

I think it would be inclusive to consider the effect of injokes upon internationally significant threads. And if diversity is something we only want to nurture at specific times/places. In Australia, there is a phrase that is used to dismiss the concerns of new Australians particularly around race, "Love it or Leave it". It's most often used by extreme right wing nationalistic race hate groups. I kind of felt reminded of that and that's why I left so quickly. I'd have buttoned but I owed someone an me-mail and didn't have another contact for them.

I get that someone suggesting some behaviours may appear racist is confronting. But that doesn't make me a troll nor, to that one commenter, that people from different backgrounds are deficit in some way. I didn't intend to offend the Americans here, but I did mean to strongly challenge some comments. I believe there should be some space allowed for more inclusive, or less exclusive, discussions.

I'm sure I'm still less than coherent even now. I feel genuinely shredded by languagehat and their supporters. I recognise that I'm a very flawed human...but if any of you had met my significant other, you'd realise what a genuine loss to the community it is that people like him don't feel this place is somewhere they feel welcome. (Also, he's not a hapless foreigner (ugh), he' s a bloody refugee. Not actually welcome in his home country either.)

Anyway, that's my last thoughts. Too soon, y2karl. Too soon. :-(
posted by taff at 12:08 AM on August 9, 2016 [5 favorites]


Well, tl/dr then: People are complex, think complex thoughts and try to express them. So, when other people say things that upset you, you can attempt to control other people or attempt to control feeling upset. Which is more ethical ? Which works better ? Your mileage may vary.
posted by y2karl at 4:57 AM on August 9, 2016 [4 favorites]


So, when other people say things that upset you, you can attempt to control other people or attempt to control feeling upset. Which is more ethical ? Which works better ?

Asking people to consider how they are interacting with others and think about changing is not "controlling them" though? The person being asked still has free will to say yes or no, after all. There's a tradition of asking those kinds of questions in metatalk.
posted by zarq at 7:56 AM on August 9, 2016 [3 favorites]


....asking everyone discuss the election in an American way (not exactly sure how to define that) all the time, might exclude people not from/in America.

This is the complete opposite of what was being requested in this thread.

Many of us don't think that the initial ask was really a good idea. Some people enjoy the riffing/cultural references/snark. Some people enjoy being able to express themselves in the way that feels most comfortable (within, of course, the limits of being respectful to others). Some folks mentioned the irony of on the one hand, being asked not to "Americanize" threads that aren't about America, and on this hand being asked not to Americanize threads about America.

But not a single person has even implied that comments discussing the election in a "non-American way" would be unwelcome.

I don't doubt that your husband would be a great asset to the community, taff. But I wonder if it's really just references to Leslie Knope in threads about an election that make him feel unwelcome. And if it is (or, if cultural references in general are the problem), it's hard to see a workable solution because what some of us see as just words (e.g.: "Poms" "buttoned" "Nivening" "me-mail") might be confusing, but there isn't any way to tell which is which.
posted by sparklemotion at 8:18 AM on August 9, 2016 [3 favorites]


> Asking people to consider how they are interacting with others and think about changing is not "controlling them" though? The person being asked still has free will to say yes or no, after all. There's a tradition of asking those kinds of questions in metatalk.

I personally don't have a problem with yesster; the question was asked in an unhelpful way, but yesster acknowledged that ("I will admit to, and apologize for, wording my post very poorly") and ended "Thank you all for your considered contributions to this thread," which was classy and all that could be asked. I do have a problem with taff's continued insistence that anything not immediately understandable to everyone is automatically exclusionary and refusal to back away from the incendiary term "racist."

> I feel genuinely shredded by languagehat and their supporters.

I'm sorry for that, but nobody is trying to shred you, people are just pushing back against your ideas; if you insist on the right to push back against things, you have to allow others to do the same. Also, I'm a he.
posted by languagehat at 8:29 AM on August 9, 2016 [9 favorites]


They as a gender neutral pronoun is growing more common.
posted by phearlez at 8:38 AM on August 9, 2016 [3 favorites]


We are not amused.
posted by y2karl at 10:46 AM on August 9, 2016 [2 favorites]


The important thing to remember is that they/their is intended to be neutral and polite. Of course it's not wrong to state the right pronoun, but I wouldn't've. Not in this thread. Because "they" pretty much means "I don't know your gender," and so responding to it with "and I'm a [whateeeverrrr]" reads like "you should've worked to find out my gender before you presumed to mention me," which, given the whole argument of the thread, is hilair.

I, for one, would welcome and enjoy mystifying commentary and new and possibly not-immediately-perfectly-understandable-without-explanation-or-research perspectives from nonAmericans about the terrifying candidacy of the demon Trump, which, after all, does affect the entire globe. I cannot fathom why jokes and US argot would read like "racism" to anyone. Read Trainspotting or Clockwork Orange. You steep yourself in the dialect, you begin to pick it up, you begin to grock the deranged, upsidedown world and the hapless natives struggling within it. Soon you're nearly a native, yourself. Please do read and comment, ask for clarification at any time, and feel free to see our dizzying blather and raise with some of your own.

Meanwhile, back in the election thread people have started to take an extra half-second to put little [fake]s into posts to mark jokes and hyperbole. So it's looking like this metatalk was somewhat successful.
posted by Don Pepino at 11:01 AM on August 9, 2016 [6 favorites]


[One deleted; let's please lower the heat level in here.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 11:21 AM on August 9, 2016


I think it's worth pointing out that the singular "they", in reference to a known person, isn't really universally understood/accepted and is therefore, in and of itself, a example of the argot of a certain kind of culture.

Therefore, according to some, assuming knowledge of it is de facto exclusionary and should be discouraged.

On the other hand, Person A providing information to update Person B's knowledge of their gender seems pretty harmless, even in this thread. Because the culture of Metafilter is one that generally believes in respecting people's gender identities.
posted by sparklemotion at 11:42 AM on August 9, 2016 [2 favorites]


Counterpoint: If you don't understand the references in a comment, move on.
posted by duffell at 23:04 on August 4
[35 favorites +] [!]


Sparklemotion This was what I wrote my original response to.

My point is that racism is everywhere and everyone interacts with it daily. To deny the possible implications (clearly unintentionally) and refusal to examine the possibility that it might not be inclusive and to think the worst thing a person can suggest is that some actions (again, clearly unintentionally) could be perceived as racially biased is bewildering and, I admit, distressing.

I was hoping to add another data point for us all to consider. I remember bridling at what my husband said about the culture here a long time ago. But now I see he had a point. And in this thread I don't really see " That's something I hadn't considered, let me think about that." I just see,"Racism is the worst thing ever, you're awful, we are good people we would never BE racist. How dare you suggest my way of interacting with my cohort might have consequences I didn't intend."

I didn't mean to say anybody was a racist person . I tried to say the insistence in internationally significant threads of injokes and riffing could be interpreted that way.

The worst thing I've ever had levelled at me is not listening. I accept freely that I've myself perpetuated racial micro aggressions in the past and almost certainly will in the future. It horrifies me, of course. I like to think I'm an exemplary race-free ally. But I'm absolutely imperfect. And no two victims or perpetrators of racism will interpret different acts the same way. My husband's job is in media and largely addressing institutional racism. I can only use the language I know myself and the understanding I have (uncomfortably) come to.

I hoped some here might take a moment to consider, what if this style did feel unwelcoming and exclusionary to people of culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. But it seems this is categorically an offensive thought. No, I won't humbly retract my suggestion and meekly apologise for a suggestion there is a problem. I shouldn't need to profusely apologise and shower gratitude for space to speak. The suggestion I do feels pretty entitled.

Look, I notice I'm still upset and really just don't have the capacity to defend myself against another round. It was simply a suggestion. Something for consideration as a data point. You appear to think I've cast the biggest slur possible with absolutely no foundation, and that I deserve all I get.

I'm disappointed it's not even something the best and brightest here can sit with for just a moment. What if...?

(I apologise for not knowing your gender identity languagehat. I didn't mean to offend you by using gender neutral pronouns. I try to never assume gender unless it's stated.)
posted by taff at 11:43 AM on August 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


an exemplary race-free ally.

What is this expression?
posted by Greg Nog at 11:56 AM on August 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


You seem determined to conflate a(n arguable?) failure of inclusiveness with racism, and if that's your personal definition I don't know that anyone can talk you out of it. But it is not how the dictionary defines racism, which is less important, nor it is how I think most people define it, which I think is.

I would contend that most people expect racism to include a sense of superiority to another race/culture, whether it be conscious and deliberate or subconscious and/or accidental. When using terms with racist history, like for example 'gyp,' ignorance cannot reasonably be a complete excuse. A responsible person accepts their accidental mistake, apologizes for harm caused, and corrects their behavior.

We have discussed in metatalk the use of the perfectly innocent word niggardly in a winking trying-to-get-a-rise-out-of-people manner and I, for one, think that's a racist act - attempting to offend or irritate people with the smell of racism even if there is no actual racial language. Because it's unquestionably targeted at people on that level.

But what you're doubling down on here is an assertion that by virtue of having a fast-moving thread with some in-jokes and satire that there is hostility and a sense of superiority. Not that it's exhibited here by being unwelcoming in discussing it, but in the thread itself.

You go hard on that right out of the gate. Your very first comment includes a whole, dominant group excluding people ... disallowing them to participate... It's fncking insensitive

That's not even including the hot-button of accusing people of racism. You came right out of the gate with (coded) swearing and claims of actively pushing people away. It is textbook assumption of the worst possible interpretation, as opposed to yesster's simple "hey, this is problematic for me in this way for this reason."

And maybe all of that might have flew if not for whilst I haven't read that thread because I. Just. Can't. Even., which is super annoying. "Hey I didn't read it but-" is just never going to seem anything but cruddy.

I don't think we need to coddle people when they do racist shit, but I think if you're going to go that far afield in claiming racism - not to mention come out hard and accusatory - you should not be surprised when people come back at you with that same level of heat.
posted by phearlez at 12:21 PM on August 9, 2016 [8 favorites]


taff,

I'm sorry that you're upset.

I find your comment a little confusing because you address me at the beginning, but then go on to assert that I said things that I neither said nor believe (e.g.: You appear to think I've cast the biggest slur possible with absolutely no foundation, and that I deserve all I get. ) In the interest of giving fellow commenters the benefit of the doubt, I'm going to assume that you don't mean to attribute that belief to me and therefore not address it.

You also state:
No, I won't humbly retract my suggestion and meekly apologise for a suggestion there is a problem. I shouldn't need to profusely apologise and shower gratitude for space to speak.

Which, again I know I didn't ask for. And as far as I can tell no one in the thread has (but maybe you saw a deleted comment that I didn't?).

I'm disappointed it's not even something the best and brightest here can sit with for just a moment. What if...?

I didn't know that it was necessary to show one's work and detail their entire thought processes in a comment. The vast majority of people in this thread didn't call you out on the "racism" thing -- why are you assuming that they didn't consider "what if?"

For those of us who have stated that riffing is not racist, why are you assuming that we didn't consider "what if?" but just happened to come to an alternative conclusion to the one that you did.

I very much noticed that you didn't say "you could be racist," but instead said "this thing you do could be seen as racist." And I realize the very wide gulf between those two statements. But that doesn't mean that people can't (or shouldn't) disagree with the second statement. And that disagreement might be heated, most justifiably by those of us who have actually experienced racism and are frustrated to see it diminished by the comparison to (seemingly) innocuous actions like makings jokes or dropping cultural references.
posted by sparklemotion at 12:26 PM on August 9, 2016 [3 favorites]


[A few comments deleted; let's keep the Trump in the election threads, it doesn't need to be in here too. Also please don't flag stuff and then heatedly respond to it.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 1:18 PM on August 9, 2016 [2 favorites]


I'm disappointed it's not even something the best and brightest here can sit with for just a moment. What if...?

I would never claim to be the site's best and brightest, but I do like sitting.

In-jokes and other forms of speech *can* be microaggressions. I wouldn't deny that. I've been on the wrong end of them. (POC in the US. Believe me, I've seen 'em.) However, the ones here aren't.

The difference is this:
1) We don't have in-jokes or coded references at the *expense* of one or more out-groups, as a way of obliquely insulting them. Like, we haven't given cutesy names to some minority group so that we can slag them without getting caught by a casual observer. I'd say this is the most common kind of microaggression you'd expect to see in a discussion like this.

(There are some issues about tolerance in those threads that I do cringe about, but there is absolutely nothing micro- or veiled about them, and they're all about fellow US citizens.)

2) We don't tell people who cannot follow every little thing to get out. In an exclusionary environment, a request for 'hey what did [x] mean?' would be met with scorn. Ask a clique to explain a joke, you're going to get talked down to. That's not what goes on here. Nobody's acting superior because they watched Hamilton and we didn't.

People in those threads are talking fast because events are moving swiftly, and they are stressed out. Asking them to reduce the tools at their disposal to vent that stress is going to be met with resistance. Accusing them of misconduct, (deliberate or otherwise), for speaking the way we normally do is not going anywhere good.

Being able to ask for explanations about stuff without getting treated badly *is* a reasonable accommodation for people who are participating in a high-level discussion at a cultural or language related disadvantage. It is precisely what I would hope for if I wanted to participate in, say, a discussion of Russian politics with actual Russians or something.
posted by mordax at 1:18 PM on August 9, 2016 [14 favorites]


As much as I try, I can't follow you to your conclusions, taff. You seem to be starting from the assumption that 1) absolute inclusion is possible, and 2) less that absolutely inclusive actions are meant to exclude and "other." I don't see that either of those is true, and I think insisting on them is problematic. I cannot, for instance, imagine that standard working in a thread by South Asians discussing South Asia in a way that did not cater to White Americans. This is, obviously, not the same as saying that "reverse racism" exists, it doesn't, but I don't see the rational justification for your position.
posted by OmieWise at 6:27 PM on August 9, 2016 [2 favorites]


taff, there's so much wrong with your hypersensitive comments, from not even reading the threads but decrying their content to tripling down on why you should be able to claim people are being racist in a thread about their own country's elections because you and your poor husband don't feel like you get every reference.

MetaFilter, again, some more, is a mostly American website, and while steps can (and should) be made to improve the cultural insularity, if there's any place where a certain amount of local reference should be able to fly, it's in a thread about their political process, however world-important. I note that all reference to the Brexit threads has been complimentary about how it was informed by the users from UK/Europe, rather than decrying it as exclusionary or racist. Similarly, the occasional Australian political threads are a place where the Australian MeFites get to make references unfamiliar to outsiders without the expectation that, unless explicitly (and invariably politely) asked, they won't have to explain them to a non-local.

Metafilter has always sent very mixed messages about when someone should go off and google things vs. people explaining things in-thread; it usually seems to come down to the angrier people are the more you'll be told to look it up yourself, so I get why that can seem dismissive or exclusionary - frankly, it often is. But people also appreciate effort, and your comments suggest that you didn't even make the baseline attempt to read the threads and see if the references you don't get could be explained by context, but still want to be able to make other users think very hard about their racism or you'll try and guilt and shame them with your emotional reaction.
posted by gadge emeritus at 9:45 PM on August 9, 2016 [6 favorites]


Man there's not much that gives me a ugh don't be on my side feeling the way something like "hypersensitive" and condescending stuff like "poor husband" does. Can we please disagree with taff w/o making claims about the right amount to care about something?
posted by phearlez at 10:24 PM on August 9, 2016 [14 favorites]


I note that all reference to the Brexit threads has been complimentary about how it was informed by the users from UK/Europe, rather than decrying it as exclusionary or racist.

Apples and oranges. The Brexit threads were indeed full of people speaking from a UK perspective, but it was not full of a bunch of obscure references unique to Britain or British culture. The two are not actually the same thing.
posted by Dysk at 1:59 AM on August 10, 2016


I would contend that most people expect racism to include a sense of superiority to another race/culture, whether it be conscious and deliberate or subconscious and/or accidental. When using terms with racist history, like for example 'gyp,' ignorance cannot reasonably be a complete excuse. A responsible person accepts their accidental mistake, apologizes for harm caused, and corrects their behavior.

That's an interesting expectation, but creates a definition that serves to erase an awful lot of structural racism in particular. Systems set up that just happen to favour one group over another don't always have to have intent or malice built in. Racism is outcomes, not processes. For sure, the focus is often on the processes - that is how we affect the outcomes after all. But if you are excluding entire groups of people - even if it's by accident, even if you don't mean to, even if it seems tangential - then there is some element of structural exclusion embedded in your practice. If that exclusion is along lines of race or cultural background, we call said exclusion racism. Doesn't matter how or why it happens, that it happens is enough.
posted by Dysk at 2:04 AM on August 10, 2016


I personally have to disagree about the apples and oranges comparison for Brexit. I learned a lot about the European Union that I didn't know before reading the threads. Now whether I should have known or not and how that should have or not affected conversation on the subject is another matter which speaks to my main concern.

I feel the racism issue here is a bit beyond the scope of the conversation, and as in its broadest sense, which it sounds like some are arguing for, it may be beyond the scope of the forum itself.

Just as any reader here may have trouble understanding something beyond their cultural context, so to would any writer have difficulty in formulating their thoughts outside of their specific cultural context. We are all creatures of our societies after all.

But even were that not the case, the issue then becomes one of first recognizing where there may be gaps in understanding, something difficult to do when you experience may make some things seem "obvious" when they may not be to everyone. If one then makes a general reasonable assumption that anything you write about won't be understood by everyone, correcting that still raises problems as you'd have to revert to starting every conversation from basics or first principles, which would make conversation virtually impossible. It would also serve to rob readers of gaining more knowledge along other lines, some purely conversational, such as learning new slang or adages, while some would be in the limiting of more technical or specialized detail which readers may have only come across due to a conversation being held that was "beyond them".

There is also the problem of making the assumption that any given member of any given group would not be aware of more complex details or have special knowledge. Talking down to people too can act as a form of racism.

I'm not keen on the suggestion that race and cultural background are in fact the same or should be thought of as approximating each other. I think that overreaches and can lead to virtually all relationships as containing a difficult to bridge distance, which isn't true and is something different than racism in the manner of exclusion.

We can recognize that there is indeed some background racism likely inherent in any conversational strain if one digs down enough. A college educated person is speaking from a position of privilege that others do not share, and those who do not share it may be disproportionately from certain racial groups. But that still doesn't not mean that conversations are benefited by speaking of less than one knows. Just as I don't want a doctor to hold back some knowledge due to fear of upsetting me over privilege, I don't want people here to hold back from discussing what they know for similar reasons. It would be to my disadvantage to be excluded from more specialized discussion as I wouldn't be getting the same opportunity to grow or join in with the group.

I think being aware that others may have difficulty grasping some references or tone is a good thing for everyone but trying to put up any more forceful controls than awareness would harm everyone to an even greater extent. I also think that awareness should extend to being more judicious about using terms like racism itself in some instances, as the meaning of it can be diluted by overuse. In some situational contexts, an accusation of racism can be more incendiary than almost any claim one could make, so using it without full awareness of that effect and full intent of purpose can be damaging to any hope of beneficial discussion.
posted by gusottertrout at 3:41 AM on August 10, 2016 [4 favorites]


I learned a lot about the European Union that I didn't know before reading the threads. Now whether I should have known or not and how that should have or not affected conversation on the subject is another matter which speaks to my main concern.

I don't think anyone is complaining about US politics being talked about in threads about US politics. Unattributed quotes from pop culture works are not the same thing as information about the functioning of the political institutions under discussion.
posted by Dysk at 3:58 AM on August 10, 2016


We don't know what people are complaining about - it's references and in-jokes and irony/sarcasm/lulz, but what taff is talking about vs. yesster vs. other users are different complaints, with different responses. One of LobsterMitten's comments covers that quite well, as does, I thought, the responses that suggested that fast-moving election threads aren't great places to put non-super obvious satire but should allow for a certain level of conversational lightness.

So, no, I don't think it's apples and oranges with Brexit, or indeed any other local political thread. There's just so much more of the American stuff, considering how much a number of users seem to flock to dissecting the election here. Which is why, again, it's the most popular topic discussed here by far.

phearlez: Can we please disagree with taff w/o making claims about the right amount to care about something?

I wasn't criticising how much she cared about the issue, instead how she conveyed her emotional reaction - as if a few users had tried to hound her off the site for daring to drop a racism truth-bomb. Saying her poor husband was a cheaper shot, but that was a response to her overall tone, as if he were being deprived of the essential lifesource that is Metafilter rather than ... not liking it.

Because another thing the userbase is very good at sending mixed messages about is how much Metafilter, or how much of Metafilter, should be for everyone. People frequently say that threads aren't for them, or not for you, so they can be skipped, after all. So why can't someone just skip the US election threads, like taff herself? If it's just more of the 'all US Mefites are racist', there's another open MeTa for that.
posted by gadge emeritus at 5:16 AM on August 10, 2016 [4 favorites]


Saying her poor husband was a cheaper shot, but that was a response to her overall tone

Perhaps we could do less matching what we see as the bad tone of others in the conversation.
posted by Etrigan at 5:53 AM on August 10, 2016 [5 favorites]


Yes, it is hard to know what it is people are looking for or even what it is they are finding irritating. A cultural reference could be pretty much anything that seems unfamiliar to one's own experience I'd think. With any of the conversations here there is a pretty heavy Mefi culture effect too, where a lot of in jokes and stock phrases show up with a lot more frequency than they would outside the site and discussions over the years have taken on their own sets of norms, which is something that makes figuring out the nature of the complaint and solution even trickier I'd think.

I'm personally always open to hearing ideas on better ways of communicating, I just think there seems to be a lot more asked of people in this request than perhaps was immediately apparent.
posted by gusottertrout at 6:07 AM on August 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


I'm still confused about exactly what is objectionable and how. Can someone quote something? I'd like to understand.
posted by zutalors! at 7:53 AM on August 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


Apples and oranges. The Brexit threads were indeed full of people speaking from a UK perspective, but it was not full of a bunch of obscure references unique to Britain or British culture. The two are not actually the same thing.

The title of the largest Brexit thread is a pun about "full English breakfasts." I found at least one Monty Python reference in the first 10ish percent of comments. There's a smattering of references to the "Grauniad" (previous MeTa). And that's just the Britishisms that my raised-in-the-colonies-with-some-family-ties-to-UK-and-decent-80s-brit-com-knowledge ass could recognize in the first 20ish percent of comments.

I'd be open to the argument that maybe these particular examples aren't so "obscure" or "unique to Britain or British culture" but I bet you five dollars that I could make the same argument about any reference to American culture in the American election threads.
posted by sparklemotion at 10:57 AM on August 10, 2016 [5 favorites]


Those are all examples of things that thread would've been better without, unlike 'facts about the European Union', which was the provided example I was responding to.

That said, there is potentially a thing to be said about dominant groups vs minority groups, and how the same behaviours don't necessarily have the same effect depending on context.
posted by Dysk at 11:07 AM on August 10, 2016


They are all examples of things that this statement: but it was not full of a bunch of obscure references unique to Britain or British culture implies didn't exist (to an appreciable degree).

I don't think the "but both sides..." argument is a slam dunk*, but factual statements made with the goal of refuting it should at least be based in truth.

*a move in a game of basketball (which is a popular sport in countries such as the U.S.) involving thrusting the ball directly into the basket, in such a way as to prevent any interception, often used as a metaphor for a "sure thing". Particularly notable is the unfortunate use of the phrase by former U.S. CIA director George Tenet with respect to evidence for the presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraqi in the lead up to the Iraq War. As used in this comment, it could be seen as ironic and/or humorous because the author of the comment is denying that the argument is, in fact, a "sure thing." If she were of the opposite opinion, it is unlikely that she would use the "slam dunk" phrasing because the historical significance of the phrase might detract from her argument.
posted by sparklemotion at 11:38 AM on August 10, 2016


Those are all examples of things that thread would've been better without

Disagree, "Full English Brexit" is a fantastic pun
posted by Greg Nog at 12:30 PM on August 10, 2016 [21 favorites]


it's hard to see a workable solution because what some of us see as just words (e.g.: "Poms" "buttoned" "Nivening" "me-mail") might be confusing, but there isn't any way to tell which is which

I think this is key - it really is hard to know what isn't familiar to others. It took me a fair bit of Googling before I hit upon what "pom" means, and I've been guilty before of rolling my eyes at others' "knowledge gaps" relative to my own assumptions.
posted by psoas at 4:50 PM on August 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


I'm late to this party, but...

On the one hand, yeah, jokes and wordplay are part of MeFi culture – and I neither expect nor desire for the mods to issue a mandate forbidding them.

On the other hand...these are extraordinary threads, in at least two different ways.

First of all, there's the sheer volume of posts.

Second of all, there's the sheer bugshittery of the events being discussed. It's a fun-house maze of unprecedented politics, impenetrable Trump logic, events unfolding rapidly in realtime, a media that doesn't know how to cope with it, and half a dozen other confounding factors.

Altogether, it really does make it hard to parse some of the conversation – even for myself as a relatively informed American.

So maybe these unusual threads call for some unusual, self-imposed restraint.

I'd personally be happy to see fewer of the cheap, low-hanging, me-too jokes (Steve / Meredith / Drumpf) – it's just noise in an already noisy thread.

The [REAL/FAKE] system is a helpful thing, and I applaud it.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 1:47 PM on August 11, 2016 [7 favorites]


I feel like this MeTa would be better served with more examples of the offending behavior, so I can form an opinion (given that I was confused at first when I thought I knew what it was)

Yeah, like - is this about all the Hamilton references?
posted by corb at 6:24 PM on August 11, 2016 [2 favorites]


Right, I appreciate the reluctance to identify specific examples but this kind of request is doomed without specificity.
posted by Justinian at 6:51 PM on August 11, 2016


Yeah, but unfortunately that's the perennial problem with MeTas about people's commenting behavior. If the OP doesn't include specific examples, discussion winds up theoretical and people ask for examples. If the OP does include specific examples, discussion winds up being about litigating whether each example does or doesn't meet the standard of behavior under discussion.

It's frustrating.
posted by Lexica at 7:39 PM on August 11, 2016 [2 favorites]


I, for one, would welcome and enjoy mystifying commentary and new and possibly not-immediately-perfectly-understandable-without-explanation-or-research perspectives from nonAmericans about the terrifying candidacy of the demon Trump, which, after all, does affect the entire globe.

Seconded.
posted by feral_goldfish at 8:51 PM on August 11, 2016 [1 favorite]


I know nothing about Hamilton except that it's some kind of Broadway play – so, yeah, Hamilton references just read as oblique nonsense to me.

(That's the thing, though: one person's familiar touchstone is another person's oblique nonsense. What to do?)

If I may offer my own interpretation of OP's meaning: just make an effort to be a little less cute/clever/glib than usual. (And think twice before posting that jokey one-line comment to a thread that already has hundreds of them.)

Nobody wants to stifle humor or any other honest reactions – especially around a topic like this, when God knows we need all the release valves we can find. But the whole thing is fucking crazy, and keeping up with the threads is like drinking from a firehose, and it doesn't help when half of the discussion is insider references and ironic/sarcastic/cute/stunty stuff that only makes sense if you're in the same particular headspace that the commenter was in when they commented.

(Also: it's always good practice, but please make an extra effort to link to the original comment when replying to someone, link to the specific article when commenting on it, etc. I've seen a lot of references to "the Politico article" or "argybarg's point" or whatever, 140 comments after said article or point was brought up.)

Bottom line: due to the sheer volume of these threads, we're straining against the limits of MeFi's (ordinarily fine and noble) unthreaded structure. There are twenty different conversations happening in the same thread at any given moment – and it's hard to know which thread of discussion people are commenting on, or which person they're replying to, or what register (sincere / jokey / ironic / polemic / etc.) they're speaking in.

There's my 2¢.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 9:05 PM on August 11, 2016 [3 favorites]


« Older Metafilter, FOR SCIENCE   |   119: We're Very Helpful You're Here Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments