Where is the place to discuss deletion policies? October 8, 2016 12:51 PM   Subscribe

In the context of a discussion about Trump's hot mic tape, and whether this reflected common experience or not, I recently had a comment deleted. (I can't don't it in the thread or in my activity or recent favorites etc, so I assume it's gone.)

The comment was about how my personal experiences with men have resulted in a need to constantly perform a sort of Schrödinger's sexist/rapist calculation in a way that has changed how I let men into my life. This was partially in response to #notallmen protests, partially in response to the media coverage, and partially just personal mourning. I explicitly connected this to similar comments in previous election threads about how many POC have changed how they relate to white Americans as a result of current events. AFAIK those comments were allowed to stand.

I understand these threads must be a nightmare to moderate, and I whole-heartedly sympathize, but the choice of what comments get to stay as part of the conversation and what are deleted is of course not neutral, and carries its own meaning.

I'm new, and while I've read the faq I'm still not sure if this is the right way to proceed. This deletion profoundly bothers me. Is there a conversation to be had about this?
posted by schadenfrau to Etiquette/Policy at 12:51 PM (57 comments total)

(Quick procedural note: I tossed some of this into the "more inside" area below the fold because it was huge on the front page of MetaTalk otherwise.)
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:52 PM on October 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


Hi! Um, the comment reappeared in my history, and now is maybe doing an appearing/disappearing thing? I don't know if it was ever deleted, so possibly this whole post is unnecessary or based on a faulty premise. (I messaged the mods but I don't think it went through before this was approved.)

I'm sorry if this is a glitch and totally unnecessary! I know you guys work really hard.
posted by schadenfrau at 12:59 PM on October 8, 2016


So: this is the right place to discuss policy, so you're good there, though if you're ever curious about a specific deletion it's fine to reach out to the mods via the contact form (see "Contact Us") at the bottom of every page) and we can give you some details about whatever is up that way. If there weren't a policy question wrapped up in this that'd have been the way to go, but this is fine in this case.

The short answer in this case is: you did have one comment deleted from that thread, but there was nothing wrong with your comment itself, other than that it was a quote-and-response to another comment which itself had been deleted. We routinely remove replies to deleted comments to avoid having strange one-side-of-the-conversation detritus left in threads where we've had to delete something. Not a judgement on your response in any sense, just bad luck.

That can be a frustrating or confusing outcome sometimes for the folks caught in the backwash, but as a matter of policy over the years we've found that to be a more consistent and coherent approach to thread management than the alternative of killing comments and leaving their replies.

AFAIK those comments were allowed to stand.

There's still a certain amount of back-and-forth in that thread—the current election thread—since as mods we very rarely delete all the way up to the start of a line of discussion even if it turns into a derail or goes sideways in parts. Once I saw that stuff seemed to be going off the rails a bit in there, I deleted one comment, left a note, and then did some followup moderation after having made it clear that a mod was around and needing folks to take a little guidance into account.

The comment you had deleted was in response to another comment after that that was ignoring the note, which is how it ended up in a deleted-while-not-everything-was state.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:02 PM on October 8, 2016 [3 favorites]


The added context to all this being that election threads in general, and certainly the last couple of days with all the extra-crazy Trump shit going around, are fast moving and much more difficult to moderate when something goes bumpy than a normal thread.

Usually we'd have the ability to assess and clean up a thread while it's fairly static and easy to catch up on, with maybe a new comment showing up every few minutes. For a thread like this, which is large and fast moving, another twenty or fifty comments can show up in fairly short order while we're trying to get some moderation work done, and so cleanly steering a conversation or cleaning up aftershocks from something we've left a note about is more intensive and messy than it otherwise would be.

As a result, it gets to be a bit of triage; sometimes whoever is working will do their best to clean up replies to deleted stuff or replies-to-replies to etc and end up missing something, or misreading something. In case of confusion there, it's again totally fine to write us at the contact form to inquire or to let us know something went a little funky.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:06 PM on October 8, 2016


Ah, gotcha! Thank you.

I think I should contribute some more to the mod booze fund.
posted by schadenfrau at 1:06 PM on October 8, 2016 [13 favorites]


For the love of all that’s holy can we close this thread up quickly before that argument starts up here as well? Some other time maybe, but not right now...
posted by pharm at 2:12 PM on October 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


I'm sort of enjoying the notion, however optimistic, that it'll work to rightly just not start having it in the first place.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:15 PM on October 8, 2016 [6 favorites]


While that's a perfectly fine comment I can see how the mods can't handle it in an election thread right now.
posted by Justinian at 3:57 PM on October 8, 2016


oh no i just remembered we could leave long detailed notes on our flags

this is gonna be the greatest test of my willpower to date
posted by poffin boffin at 4:21 PM on October 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


You can't actually do that yet; it got as far as testing before pb left but we haven't regrouped and rolled out a final implementation. Willpower saved!
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:23 PM on October 8, 2016 [2 favorites]


But feel free to hit up the contact form with your long and convoluted flagging complaints, being sure to include an emu reference in each one.
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 4:24 PM on October 8, 2016 [13 favorites]


i have gifs
posted by poffin boffin at 4:28 PM on October 8, 2016 [16 favorites]


Can "emu reference" be a flagging reason?
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:57 PM on October 8, 2016 [4 favorites]


Only if you're an ostrich.
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 5:51 PM on October 8, 2016 [4 favorites]


What if you're a Cassowary? I don't like how some flightless birds are being left out.

#NOT-FLIGHTLESSBIRD-IST.
posted by zachlipton at 6:13 PM on October 8, 2016 [3 favorites]


Puffin stuffin
posted by Joseph Gurl at 6:37 PM on October 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


The emu reference flag isn't ready yet, although I understand that frimble is working on a simulated environment for testing purposes. Once they're done, you'll get the emu later.
posted by zamboni at 6:41 PM on October 8, 2016 [15 favorites]


Ta-Dunsch-cha!
posted by clavdivs at 6:51 PM on October 8, 2016


I still like someone else's suggestion that the option "Mentions and/or references THREADS" be added to the flagging reasons.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:40 PM on October 8, 2016 [1 favorite]


Heck, I never have understood why deleted comments aren't still visible in the poster's own comment history, along with a little explanation from the mod.

I have things deleted, because I'm a pretty casual bastard, I guess. Often I don't notice. Sometimes I do notice, and sometimes I don't know or understand why a comment was deleted, but most of the time I'm so lightly invested that I really don't care to bitch about it.

But it sure would be nice to look and see, once and awhile, when I did want to know what the heck I did wrong, rather than pestering mods over such nonsense.
posted by rokusan at 11:08 PM on October 8, 2016 [4 favorites]


I'm sort of enjoying the notion, however optimistic, that it'll work to rightly just not start having it in the first place.

I mean, look. We've gone back and forth. Some people think we should have a mod booze fund. Some people think we should have a mod ALL THE BOOZE fund. If we don't talk about these important issues and work out a compromise, I'm afraid the mods will get no booze at all.
posted by corb at 1:50 AM on October 9, 2016 [3 favorites]


I suspect there is a booze continuum. At one end, parched, libation-denied* mods are wan and listless, unable to being the full focus of their attention on the site. At the other, addled mods, overwhelmed by demon drink**, bring the vague caprice of Angry Gods upon a quaking membership. Clearly, the disbursements of funds is going to be critical, lest, for example, we wake up to hear that Eyebrows McGee went on a bender and is now riding an emu across the Great Plains, a terror to the nation.

* Some mods may eschew alcohol, we should remember, but they might still Run riot with too little/much coffee, post-um, or even particularly sparkling water 'n juice. It's a tricky world.

** Same deal
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:50 AM on October 9, 2016 [9 favorites]


Heck, I never have understood why deleted comments aren't still visible in the poster's own comment history, along with a little explanation from the mod.

I don't think it's doable to leave notes for every deletion. If something that I posted was deleted and I can't figure out why, I just assume that it was a reply to something else that was deleted. I recommend this line of thinking; it gives me peace of mind.
posted by Too-Ticky at 4:05 AM on October 9, 2016 [4 favorites]


Idea: thread pause button. While moderation is underway people won't be able to post. Could have a countdown on it so nobody freaks out

[this thread is temporarily locked for moderation activity: please keep calm. Thread will resume in 4:20]
posted by Potomac Avenue at 4:45 AM on October 9, 2016 [12 favorites]


rokusan: "Heck, I never have understood why deleted comments aren't still visible in the poster's own comment history, along with a little explanation from the mod"

Because people not noticing deletions is a feature. Because people noticing but not caring is a feature that can be flipped to caring if they disagree with the mod explanation. And one can always use the contact form to determine why a particular comment was deleted.
posted by Mitheral at 4:53 AM on October 9, 2016 [3 favorites]


Also now I wonder what a deletion does to recent activity status? If my only comment in a thread gets deleted does the thread still appear in recent activity?
posted by Mitheral at 4:54 AM on October 9, 2016


I just assume that it was a reply to something else that was deleted. I recommend this line of thinking; it gives me peace of mind.

Oh, I don't. I've only been deleted a few times, but each time I did, it was for a comment that, at the time I was writing it, I thought, "Hmm, over the line? Maybe? Let's see."

I have not gotten a comment deleted in a while so I am learning! Sorry, mods, for shepherding me through the learning curve.
posted by chainsofreedom at 5:17 AM on October 9, 2016


Because people not noticing deletions is a feature.

Some of us think this is a bad feature. But it’s how the site has been for years and the mods have made it clear that it’s not going to change, so there it is.

(Although clearly the mods wouldn’t have time to write little notes to everyone they modded in an election thread - a little tickbox saying things like “your comment was deleted as it was a reply to a previous deleted comment” would be about the most you could reasonably expect.)
posted by pharm at 5:59 AM on October 9, 2016 [2 favorites]


I once got a nice note from a mod who apologized for deleting a comment of mine: they basically told me it was polite, thoughtful and well-reasoned, but it was getting deleted anyway because it was a thoughtful and well-reasoned response to someone else's truly jerkish comment, also deleted. Nicest deletion I've ever had.

I'd contribute to the mod's booze fund, but I suggest we wait to set it up after the November elections: if we set it up now, the mods might be inclined to drink up their entire year's allotment in the next couple weeks.
posted by easily confused at 6:55 AM on October 9, 2016 [6 favorites]


chainsofreedom: > I just assume that it was a reply to something else that was deleted. I recommend this line of thinking; it gives me peace of mind.

Oh, I don't. I've only been deleted a few times, but each time I did, it was for a comment that, at the time I was writing it, I thought, "Hmm, over the line? Maybe? Let's see."


You left off the relevant conditional sentence before that: "If something that I posted was deleted and I can't figure out why,"
If you already know that something may be over the line, then you can figure out why it was deleted.
posted by Too-Ticky at 7:12 AM on October 9, 2016 [2 favorites]


But it sure would be nice to look and see, once and awhile, when I did want to know what the heck I did wrong, rather than pestering mods over such nonsense.

It's our job! Stop thinking of it as pestering is the solution here: we keep the contact form actively attended 24/7 for a reason, so while I appreciate the kind intentions behind "oh, I don't think I want to bother them with this when they're busy", being bothered with such stuff is part of what we're busy doing. Always okay to drop us a line. In the very rare occasion that someone is showing poor enough judgement there that it is a pestering-type problem we'll gently let 'em know.

Idea: thread pause button. While moderation is underway people won't be able to post.

Ha, clever! And no.

Also now I wonder what a deletion does to recent activity status? If my only comment in a thread gets deleted does the thread still appear in recent activity?

I believe that will knock it out of your Recent Activity, yeah, though I can't swear we didn't change that once "add to activity" became an option; it's possible that at the time pb set it up to catch that edge case and swap a user over to being automatically "adding" the thread so it still shows up but without any comment to reference. There's decent arguments for and against handling that exception that way so I really don't know off hand where we landed on it.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:45 AM on October 9, 2016 [5 favorites]


#RememberTheRhea
posted by grumpybear69 at 9:00 AM on October 9, 2016


Idea: thread pause button. While moderation is underway people won't be able to post. Could have a countdown on it so nobody freaks out

How about one of the mods flies around the world fast enough that the spin of the planet reverses and time runs backwards, so that no one even remembers the derail happening
posted by XMLicious at 3:45 PM on October 9, 2016 [4 favorites]


Sometime in the past 4 years, i.e., after I joined, someone posted a comment here re "deletion is your friend". The message being, the mods save you when your inner peevish, mean-spirited, snarky self over-rides your better angels. (The original was better worded.) While this may not apply 100% of the time, it's a good default attitude when considering why a comment was removed.
posted by she's not there at 4:41 PM on October 9, 2016 [5 favorites]


the mods save you when your inner peevish, mean-spirited, snarky self over-rides your better angels.

Amen to that. When I get a comment zapped here, I get a wee pissed then think to myself "they know what they are doing and they do it right."
posted by vrakatar at 5:22 PM on October 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


I believe that will knock it out of your Recent Activity

Yep, this is what happens! A comment of mine was just deleted from here to test it.
posted by ODiV at 11:05 PM on October 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


Oh come on, guys, my comment comparing Donald Trump to Eegah was deleted? Seriously? I mean it's not like I compared him to Arch Hall, Jr.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:23 AM on October 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


Richard Kiel isn't around to defend himself.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:42 AM on October 10, 2016 [2 favorites]


Octobersurprise, sorry! It's not the comparison; the problem is we're getting some "I didn't follow the debate, here's what I did instead" comments and yours was basically along these lines. It's not a huge deal (nothing deplorable or anything!) but these threads are so unwieldy already, that we're trying to keep them a bit focused.
posted by taz (staff) at 6:53 AM on October 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


Yeah, they're keeping it pretty tight, I think I got a Wikileaks one deleted too. But given how fast we're moving it makes a lot of sense.
posted by corb at 6:57 AM on October 10, 2016


"I didn't follow the debate, here's what I did instead" comments and yours was basically along these lines.

I think "Richard Kiel isn't around to defend himself" is a better explanation.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:06 AM on October 10, 2016


the mod's booze fund

Given the way the US election is going, surely some sort of drugs fund would be more useful. Something hardcore so they don't have to worry about it as they fall unconscious for a long time.

Emu?
posted by marienbad at 7:36 AM on October 10, 2016


I have comments deleted, and I just accept it. For one thing, if I had better social skills, or even more interest in social activity. I would be a moderator, or somehow something different than ruminating then regurgitating my thoughts mixed with others. I stopped worrying about deletions a while back, and pay more attention to being present when I comment, and making sense. Not that those things have worked either.
posted by Oyéah at 9:49 AM on October 10, 2016


Given the way the US election is going, surely some sort of drugs fund would be more useful. Something hardcore so they don't have to worry about it as they fall unconscious for a long time.

Oh sure, and then quidnunc kid can just walk in to MeFi Towers, pick up the keys and will be Chief President Officer - and no-one has to vote #1 for anybody. Ok! Let's get this drug-fund thing going. Can someone make a banner on the front page? And a little gold star for everyone who contributes, for their MeFi profile: "⭐️I help drug MetaFilter!" - somebody code that up. Thanks.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 10:56 AM on October 10, 2016 [4 favorites]


🌟
posted by maryr at 11:13 AM on October 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


Cortex: Have the mods ever considered temporarily closing a thread that's moving quickly, to do some cleanup, and then re-opening it? With a note to that effect. Sort of like closing a shop during renovation?
posted by Splunge at 1:10 PM on October 10, 2016


While you are there, Quidnunc, maybe you could stop by fanfare and let us know how your team is doing in the World Cup Qualifiers...

On the subject of deletions, FPPs that are deleted don't show up in RA or in profile/comments list, but can still be accessed if you get the email with the link in, which is sorta interesting as a side issue.
posted by marienbad at 1:13 PM on October 10, 2016


While you are there, [q]uidnunc, maybe you could stop by fanfare and let us know how your team is doing in the World Cup Qualifiers...

Oh, gotcha! See you there tomorrow mate.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 3:07 PM on October 10, 2016


I like the pause-thread idea too, like the stock exchange "circuit breaker" when things are spiraling out of control. Only restart when reinforcement mods are standing by. We've never had a thread yet that needed that. Early November might.
posted by ctmf at 8:40 PM on October 10, 2016 [1 favorite]


But directing some of the load to chat has helped.
posted by ctmf at 8:41 PM on October 10, 2016


Maybe we need explosives wired up which, when set off, will cause avalanches to cut off all of the mountain passes into MetaFilter.

Or a script that, relative to the velocity of the thread, past a certain threshold begins to embed more and more kitten video playlists and TV Tropes links between comments, or links to internet mysteries that urgently need to be solved, to siphon off easily-distracted MeFites and thereby cut down the burn rate of the thread.

No, no, wait, I've got it: when the thread hits a certain speed some code plays audio that sounds like an ice cream truck in the distance. You can't comment while you're off looking for the ice cream truck!
posted by XMLicious at 9:26 PM on October 10, 2016


But ice cream trucks sound so creepy...
posted by maryr at 11:23 AM on October 11, 2016


Well then, commenting will slow down because people are attempting to flee from the ice cream truck. And maybe the sound of clowns laughing in the distance. Either way.
posted by XMLicious at 1:32 PM on October 11, 2016


That puffin stuffin' comment was uncalled for. Can we be a little more sensitive to swimmers here?
posted by mule98J at 10:39 AM on October 12, 2016


I know this is very individual, but I am pretty sure all my deleted comments have been either a) too forgettable to miss or b) shit I tossed out at someone in a fit of peevishness. Or both. On occasions where my comment was deleted for replying to a deleted comment, l just re-tool a version of my comment sans reply.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 1:23 PM on October 14, 2016


Oh hey, since the thread is here: A couple days ago I wrote a comment, tried to decide if it was crossing a line, and decided to flag it myself right after posting because I assumed that would get mod eyes on it. Is that an effective thing to do or just silly? Or annoying?
posted by Rainbo Vagrant at 10:26 PM on October 16, 2016


Not silly, not annoying. Semi-effective, because if I see that someone has flagged their own comment it greatly simplifies deletion calculus if there's any weirdness or ambiguity but we don't usually take the extra effort to figure out who flagged something.

So if you want to be sure we take a clear look at it from a perspective of you feeling regret or just wanting feedback on it, that's a good case to hit up the contact form with a quick note so we're sure to know what's going on. But if you really do just want to put it on our radar so we have a chance to glance and react or not, self-flagging's totally reasonable.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:33 PM on October 16, 2016 [2 favorites]


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