Obit Post Fatigue January 23, 2017 3:25 PM   Subscribe

It seems like there have been more and more obit posts lately. I understand that some luminaries have passed, but is it really necessary to post an obit for every celebrity/musician? Do these posts live up to the "Best of the Web" standard we set for posts to the Blue?

I realize I've also posted a few obits. Mea culpa.
posted by reenum to Etiquette/Policy at 3:25 PM (111 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

Yes, this is something we've heard from a number of people about, and have been talking about pushing back on more. We'd put off the public discussion of it, but now's a good time to have it. Will be interested to hear where folks feel like the line should be drawn.

(Also, thanks to reenum for letting us delay this post over the inauguration/march weekend. Because of that delay, note that this isn't referring to any specific obit post.)
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 3:28 PM on January 23 [8 favorites]


Well, let's parse this. Do we only allow posts about really popular musicians and artists and celebrities? Or do we happily provide FPPs about all kinds of new-to-many-of us people? In fact, isn't this element of discovery and sharing what makes this place truly special?

I posit that sharing the brushes-with-fame stories, the why-this-person-made-a-difference-in-my-life story, the here-is-something-you-should-go-explore-about-this-person story is exactly what MetaFilter is supposed to be about.

IMO
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:36 PM on January 23 [41 favorites]


Do these posts live up to the "Best of the Web" standard we set for posts to the Blue?

There is no such standard.
posted by Sys Rq at 3:39 PM on January 23 [17 favorites]


(That said, remember when newsfilter was discouraged? Those were good times.)
posted by Sys Rq at 3:40 PM on January 23 [18 favorites]


I feel as with anything here, I can choose to read a post or not, and that goes for obits. I usually choose to read the obits of folks I'm not familiar with because I feel that if that person matters enough to a fellow Mefite that they go to the work of making a post, then that may be a person I would enjoy learning more about. That often seems to be the case for me.
posted by agatha_magatha at 3:41 PM on January 23 [32 favorites]


I thought both participants made good points in this exchange from a 2016 MetaTalk about obit threads, and I post it as food for thought:
I feel like we have sort of three main categories of obit:
1) Huge cultural figure, major political figure, etc
2) Middle of the road
3) Obscure but interesting

I'm mainly thinking about category 2 as what I would be inclined to delete more of... the ones where it seems like "hey I saw in the news, remember this person from that thing a few years ago? let's all take a moment" and then the thread is mostly dots and people saying "wow a lot of people are dying this year". I'm not faulting the people who post these, I think it's totally understandable, but this is the kind of thing I think doesn't add a lot to the site and we could stand to have less of.
posted by LobsterMitten

I know the great Ethopian saxophonist Getatchew Mekuria died a few weeks ago, and Congolese soukous musician Papa Wemba just collapsed on stage in the last day or so. I considered making obit posts for both of them, but I know there's been a lot of "too many obits!" grumbling lately and it makes me way too self-conscious to post anything.

As far as these three categories ...

1) Huge cultural figure, major political figure, etc
2) Middle of the road
3) Obscure but interesting

Well, from whose perspective? If you're Congolese, I suspect Papa Wemba is category 1. If you're just a serious music fan, he's probably category 2. And for the majority of Metafilter readers I guess he's category 3 at best. I'm not sure how I'm supposed to second-guess that before posting, though.
posted by Mothlight
posted by lalex at 3:43 PM on January 23 [15 favorites]


I'm not so much bothered by the number of obit posts, but especially with less generally well known figures I'd find it more helpful if I didn't have to scroll through so many moment-of-silence dots to get to the interesting personal reflections and links that offer additional windows into their contribution in the field.
posted by drlith at 3:57 PM on January 23 [42 favorites]


Yes, I emphatically agree with drlith on the moment-of-silence dots. If you want to show that you were moved by an obit, then Favorite it or post a substantive comment.
posted by schroedingersgirl at 4:01 PM on January 23 [27 favorites]


I think identifying an agreed middle ground of "people who are vaguely notable but not famous enough to get an obit post but too famous to get an 'interesting person' post" is impossible. If we're going to push, maybe push on making all obit posts interesting, even if they are for relatively famous people (with the obvious mod discretion on those people who are going to get 97 obits if the mods don't allow the first one).

I do agree with drlith that the "." makes a lot of obit comment threads kind of annoying to read. The thought is nice, but it's kind of overwhelming in many threads. Maybe we need a de-perioding browser script.
posted by jacquilynne at 4:04 PM on January 23 [4 favorites]


Man, 2016 2017 just sucks.

Oh shit.
posted by spitbull at 4:12 PM on January 23 [1 favorite]


Is it that difficult to just not read the obituary posts if they bum you out? I skip obit posts all the time. An obit post of somebody I'm not interested in fades from my memory literally seconds after I scroll past it. Same with politics and every other category of post that somebody has questioned at some point.
posted by COD at 4:19 PM on January 23 [14 favorites]


This is a recurring question on the gray. To me unless the person was both deeply obscure and deeply uninteresting, an obit is fine. The rest of us can skip over an obit post we don't care much about. Also, I continue to like the dots, a quiet tribute from those of us who actually know and care who the obit thread was about.

As for the recent up tick in obits, which I agree I have been seeing, I blame this rotten year.
posted by bearwife at 4:24 PM on January 23 [11 favorites]


You don't get a metafilter obit post unless you were discussed on metafilter when you were alive.
posted by ryanrs at 4:27 PM on January 23 [8 favorites]


I don't care how many obits there are because I can skip them, but I've been disgruntled by the number of one-or two-sentence obits lately. I think that if someone cares or knows enough about a person they will post a thoughtful obit but only if someone hasn't rushed a quickie first. And if no one does and you think someone should, take a few moments to put together a paragraph or two with a few focused links and tell us why we should know about that person.
posted by Room 641-A at 4:31 PM on January 23 [31 favorites]


I also don't care if there are lots of obit posts. In fact those often serve as an introduction to someone interesting that did interesting stuff that I wasn't familiar with or aware of. And if they are not interesting to me I can skip them and move on to other posts.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 4:40 PM on January 23 [7 favorites]


I strongly agree with this sentiment and really wish people would refocus their efforts and reconsider (the substantial majority of) their impulses to make an obit post. I was going to post a quick summary of why I feel this way but this got a bit long, so... anyway, a not-quick summary of my thinking on this.

The general theme is that I think that people either don't understand, or don't respect, the fact that posts about people dying can be a major downer for a lot of us, in a lot of overlapping ways. For people you're familiar with but are not, like, super celebs or major political figures, it can invoke a melancholy, nostalgic... discouragement, almost? Like when Bobby Bland died - he was one of the first major blues artists I ever saw live, I always hoped to see him again, and when I read the FPP about his death on mefi it was like a gut punch - I'm never going to see him again, that part of my life is over, that part of the blues is over, just an "everything about this sucks" ickyness. I felt crappy for like an hour after I read that and wished I hadn't seen MeFi that day. Somehow the series of dots did not make it better.

Or for obscure people you've never heard of, it feels almost emotionally manipulative, though that is too strong a term for it. Like, a musician who played an instrument I'm not particularly familiar with, and was famous among a certain crowd several decades ago - if you posted about that person any time before he died, I could listen to 30 seconds of a YouTube clip, say "meh," and move on. But you can't "meh" an obit post. It feels like pressure to engage with the person in a certain way, and also to not complain about it, and it's just frustrating overall. (I know there's probably no solution to this one - one person's obscure WTF musician is another's favoritest ever. But there it is.)

And if it's someone the community is none too fond of at all, it typically devolves into this weird sanctimonious argument about whether it's ever OK to speak ill of the dead or whether that's just always not classy, which seems unsatisfying to almost everyone. Like the Thatcher obit post for instance.

And the feeling is invoked by just the text on the front page (especially with literal obit-type headlines, like "John Q. Celeb, 1945-2016" - not that I encourage hiding the ball on whether or not the person has passed; that would be shitty in other ways). So this is not really amenable to a "don't read the thread if you don't like it" solution. Like, if MeFi had the equivalent of subreddits I would unsubscribe from the obit one in a second, but it doesn't, you know? What's on the front page affects everyone.

Anyway, I wish and hope that everyone will make fewer obit posts. I will admit though that I can't see any particular rule about this topic working out very well.
posted by Joey Buttafoucault at 4:43 PM on January 23 [4 favorites]


.
posted by gwint at 4:47 PM on January 23 [5 favorites]


I think it is always appropriate to celebrate a life. That a person died is inevitably painful to some, but how they lived is their lasting legacy.

Almost every obit post I've seen tells us far more of how its subject lived than how they died. I think this is an appropriate, informative, and respectful way to pay tribute to a life that touched us.

I find obit posts to be a blessing, and I am always thankful for them.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 4:51 PM on January 23 [17 favorites]


I read the obituaries in my local paper every day. They are fascinating to me and a reminder that we all, ultimately, only have so much time. I hope Mefites will continue to post obits for anyone and everyone they find deserving. Those who'd rather not read can scroll on by.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:06 PM on January 23 [29 favorites]


Yeah, I like obit posts. I like them more when I'm learning something I didn't know. I used to hate the dots but they've grown on me and I've even left a few.
posted by chococat at 5:14 PM on January 23 [2 favorites]


I liked the advice from the last go round of this discussion that, if there is a person that you think you might make an obit post for if they died, go ahead and make a "here's an awesome/interesting/unsung person you should know" post.
posted by Rock Steady at 5:40 PM on January 23 [6 favorites]


No Jaki Liebezeit obit post either. I don't have the heart for it. Rest in amazing rhythm!
posted by Burhanistan at 6:26 PM on January 23


Yeah count me in as one who loathes the dots. There's often some real neat stuff posted in obit posts but you gotta scroll past countless me-too dots to get to it.

There's probably a way to tampermonkey that shit, isn't there?
posted by Sternmeyer at 6:30 PM on January 23 [4 favorites]


While I realize that this is probably a non-starter both from a technical and a desirability (for a lot of people) point of view, I would love it if I could occasionally hide a post. This would solve the problem for people who feel like they see too many obits (it is a downer, I admit) and for other more idiosyncratic, I-find-it-upsetting-to-keep-reading-that-title situations (e.g. there was a post about miscarriage while I was early in my pregnancy. I did not read the post or articles, but just seeing it kept stressing me out. Obviously the whole site doesn't need to ban any post that could possibly cause that reaction in someone cause there would be no more posts. But if maybe *I* didn't have to keep seeing it, that would have been nice).
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 6:36 PM on January 23 [2 favorites]


. I felt crappy for like an hour after I read that and wished I hadn't seen MeFi that day.

Respectfully, Joey, this - and your other objections - are more about your personal emotional states and behaviours than anything on the site. Mefites should not - cannot - be held responsible for your emotions.

I'm not saying this to minimise your grief or upset on reading an obit, however I do think your expectations about how the site should respond to is unrealistic, and perhaps not as universal as you think.

I don't care for a tonne of obits, personally, however some I appreciate very much. Given the particularity of which I respond to, and which I don't, I assume most others have their own personal preferences as valid and different as mine. This means seeking a bright line rule is a fool's errand, I think.

With the aging of baby boomers and concomitant explosion of mass entertainment and its celebrities, this is an issue I foresee getting bigger, not smaller - and I'm not sure there's a real answer for it.
posted by smoke at 6:36 PM on January 23 [10 favorites]


If it's a matter of scrolling, how about every run of consecutive dots to be linked at the first dot to an ancilllary sub page per thread ?

I never cared.for the periods until I realized it was the briefest way a person could note 'this mattered to me....'

And they are, after all, a part of the common culture here -- the roadside shrines wherein people try to honor the dead.

Like I said, I'm not particularly a fan but, on the other hand, I don't think there is a way to fairly decide whose passing does and does not deserve to be honored with our attention.

tl/dr: don't mess with it except to tweak for dotted length.
posted by y2karl at 6:39 PM on January 23 [2 favorites]


Respectfully, Joey, this - and your other objections - are more about your personal emotional states and behaviours than anything on the site. Mefites should not - cannot - be held responsible for your emotions.

I empathize when bad news becomes a bummer after awhile, but it does seem to me also that (with reason) an emotionally difficult discussion shouldn't should be the primary arbiter of whether or not something is post-worthy. There are a number of topics that come up here that, if I'm not careful, will bug me to one extreme or another. However, it has been a really good exercise for me to choose what to engage and what to ignore as a skill to develop for a life or pretty consistent disappointment at times. This is undoubtedly harder for some people than others, so I do not casually dismiss what is too difficult, especially depending on the topic. But I do fall down on the side of responsibility being on those who choose not to engage, not whether or not we should feel inclined to celebrate the life of someone we find pretty interesting. For me, obituaries fall under the genre of other sorts of interesting biographies we can do about people, which happens pretty regularly. So maybe it would be worth discussing helpful ways to frame obituaries (as in, what makes a good obituary post), rather than whether they happen.
posted by SpacemanStix at 8:09 PM on January 23 [2 favorites]


The thing about obituaries is that they burn people out. And I say that as someone who, once upon a time, many moons ago, actually worked the obit section for a newspaper -- I liked it, even. I thought it was important and interesting work, but I could only do it for so long. The obit section burns out writers and it burns out editors -- and it burns out readers, too. When you're reading a newspaper, only a small handful of super-important people's obituaries go on the front page; the vast bulk of obits go in the obituary section (or on the inside page of the sports section or whatever). On MetaFilter, because of the structure of the site, they're ALL front-page obituaries. While "just scroll past it" is good advice in general, don't underestimate how wearing that scrolling past can be when it's a daily undertaking.

And they're tough to moderate; it's hard to tell a community member that community-generated obituary content about someone they thought was really cool doesn't really rise to "notability" standards to be on the front page. It's a lot easier to be an obit page editor and tell a writer "nope, that guy isn't important enough for the front page/a reported obit/whatever." In that sense, it would be awfully helpful to have some loose community guidelines for what makes a good obit post.
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 8:42 PM on January 23 [6 favorites]


After the crucible of 2016 deaths I mostly just have no major reaction now beyond "huh, interesting". It's not useful for me to get all sad every couple of days about people dying who I don't personally know and who I may or may not have seen act or hear play or whatever. This sounds callous and I don't mean it to be, but rather than the site changing to your arbitrary whims or holding out hope that the deaths will slow down (they won't), it's a good idea to change your relationship to death and accept that people, interesting and talented people, die all the time and that's OK because death is not in and of itself a thing to be sad about or a major downer for your day. Sometimes I would catch myself learning about someone I was unfamiliar with and then sorta willing myself to feel sad about their contribution to the world and what a loss. This is no way to go about your days because it will be a ceaseless daily project. Cultivate neutrality. Save the grief for the people you personally know and the people you don't who really had a major impact on you.
posted by naju at 9:07 PM on January 23 [2 favorites]


I like the obits, one of my favorite things actually. I get to learn something about people I didn't know, or celebrate someone I did. I don't think there are too many.

There are lots of things I don't like and skip. Movie/TV/album etc. announcements are my pet peeve. They seem like press releases. Everybody is a fan of something and new stuff comes out every day.
posted by bongo_x at 9:16 PM on January 23 [5 favorites]


The criteria for obituaries should be about artistic and founding influences, not just a popular person. Any ruling that constrains it will, in time, be skewed in favor of the most popular deaths. It seems wrong-headed to put more second-guessing on an informed poster who wants to notify us of someone's passing, but who isn't sure of the rules, or doesn't want to get hassled by those who would be able to cite their ignorance as a reason to not know about it. People dying is actual news, and the best time for reflection and review of a body of work. In contrast, most of the stuff in the news sections we read day to day has occurred strategically, and if not, was probably well-timed for effect. Having said that, yes, everyone dies, and no, not everyone deserves an obit here. Perhaps, though, if they had been mentioned while alive, as a follow-up.
posted by Brian B. at 9:30 PM on January 23


I like the obits.
I like the dots.
posted by mochapickle at 10:04 PM on January 23 [16 favorites]


I get to learn something about people I didn't know, or celebrate someone I did. I don't think there are too many.

Me neither. For instance, recently I got to find out things I never knew about Maggie Roche and her sisters. Most edifying.

As La Rochefoucauld once noted:

We all have the strength enough to endure the troubles of others.

This seems too much like asking for permission to stop complaints by those who don't.

Not a fan of caving into the demands of the easily aggrieved. King Log always beats King Stork in my tome.
posted by y2karl at 10:05 PM on January 23


The thing about obituaries is that they burn people out.

But this could be said a variety of posts, no? Indeed, it is said for a variety of posts here on meta.

I dunno, I don't care for most of them myself, but they are a pretty integral part of the blue. I appreciate it's hard, but I sort of feel like this is something that's been established as a thing metafilter does - part of the job, as it were.
posted by smoke at 10:12 PM on January 23 [1 favorite]


I find orbits uniformly boring. I'd be happy to see less of them. We're not a newspaper, we don't need to post stuff just because it happened. And I know the response is always 'just skip them' but then I'm skipping this, skipping that, skipping other stuff, and there's nothing left. But I also don't see how they can be reduced or how any kind of cutoff can be made, other people like them and I think we're stuck with them. So try not to post boring stuff I guess is my advice and we can all keep having different ideas about what that means.
posted by shelleycat at 10:27 PM on January 23 [1 favorite]


I have no idea if my perception of this is even remotely correct, but I feel like the obit posts increased once the "DAMMIT 2016" sentiment really gained steam on the internet. Maybe I just noticed the obits more because of that context, but it seemed like people were posting more obits either to (a) highlight the shittiness of 2016 (and it was, indeed, shitty), or (b) had organically become more attuned to obituaries because of that prevailing sense that celebrities were dying at a higher rate.

I feel that this has perhaps spilled over into 2017. I like reading stories about people's lives and learning about interests and accomplishments that I am unfamiliar with. However, if the driving force behind obit posts is "See? Everything is awful," then I'm not sure that's a very positive or productive vibe.

Again, I have no idea if my read on this is correct. I can definitely see how I might be perceiving nonexistent motivations.

I certainly have no problem with people posting obits of people who they think are cool, for the sake of celebrating someone's life. But I'm also mindful of the fact that things are tough right now, and that seeing a consistent drumbeat of obit posts could reinforce that in a way that isn't great.
posted by delight at 10:30 PM on January 23 [2 favorites]


No Jaki Liebezeit obit post either.

there is now and if there wasn't I'd be working on one. So where does that put me in this discussion? I guess on the side of leaving it to the discretion of the individual members of the community.

Does Overend Watts deserve a thread? Yeah, I guess, if somebody cares enough to put the time in. Does he deserve one as much as Jaki Liebezeit? Probably not. But that's just my opinion, man.
posted by philip-random at 10:45 PM on January 23


I wonder if this bout of obit fatigue was inspired at all by the two musician obituary posts from earlier today? Just because one of them, the Jaki Liebezeit one, actually made me realise I should be paying more attention to obit posts than I have been. I happened to be sitting with my husband when he read about Liebezeit's death last night, and so listened to a Can song for possibly the first time ever (sorry, just not my milieu), and loved it. (Well, apart from some of the singing. But certainly I loved the drumming.) I actually felt a pang when I saw the post on Metafilter this morning and realised I wouldn't have heard that music if I had scrolled past and utterly ignored the death of a person I think I'm not interested in, the way I usually do. But the thing is, obituaries aren't about death, really; Thatchers aside, they're an opportunity to look back on the best of what a person has had to contribute to the world over the course of an entire lifetime. I think it's a service people are doing us when they post them, as long as they point us to some of those contributions, and I'm going to take better advantage of it from now on.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 10:57 PM on January 23 [7 favorites]


(Just a note, this MeTa was submitted a few days ago, so it wasn't inspired by any posts today)
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 11:02 PM on January 23 [1 favorite]


Oh yeah, sorry, I forgot about the queue.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 11:12 PM on January 23


While "just scroll past it" is good advice in general, don't underestimate how wearing that scrolling past can be when it's a daily undertaking.

you can just exclude the "obit" and "obituary" tags in your mefi preferences though, and never see a single post like that again. this is how i pretend hamilton doesn't exist. it's so great.

(well, not you personally bc you opened the ancient sealed mod tomb and got the mod curse, but everyone else can do it)
posted by poffin boffin at 11:34 PM on January 23 [9 favorites]


my name is fish
i reed the blue
it's full of stuf
i never new

thers art that i
have never seen
and places i
have never been

ther's music that
i never herd
and links that pleas
my inner nerd

ther's news from countries
far away
ther's lots of lections
from usa

thers books that i
have never red
and thers obits
about the ded

lately ther ar
lots and lots
but that's ok
i lik the dots
posted by superfish at 12:32 AM on January 24 [41 favorites]


Moderators, please moderate these Obituary posts of people by people.
For people.
posted by esto-again at 1:37 AM on January 24 [1 favorite]


As the guilty party responsible for the Jaki Liebezeit obit post, I extend my apologies to anyone who was vexed by it. For me, Liebezeit was a figure of major importance whose passing was worth noting; I recognise that for others the same will not be true. I myself have felt dismissive about certain obit posts in the past. Had the mods deemed mine one obit too many, I hope I might have accepted its deletion in good grace. Another drummer, Mike Kellie, died last week, and while he was a fine musician, and I love The Only Ones, I didn’t feel similarly moved to commemorate his life on the blue.

To the question ‘is it really necessary to post an obit for every celebrity/musician?’ the answer has to be ‘no’. But for me, it did feel really necessary in Liebezeit’s case, whereas it did not for Kellie. ‘Do these posts live up to the “Best of the Web” standard?’ It depends on the post and it depends on the person: for me an eighteen-and-a-half minute black-&-white YouTube clip of Can performing Oh Yeah is the best of the web!
posted by misteraitch at 2:01 AM on January 24 [5 favorites]


"I don't care how many obits there are because I can skip them, but I've been disgruntled by the number of one-or two-sentence obits lately. I think that if someone cares or knows enough about a person they will post a thoughtful obit but only if someone hasn't rushed a quickie first."

I don't have strong feelings about obit posts, but I do think that this argument is just a specific case of the newsfilter argument. Which we've (I've) been having for fourteen years.

I've come to terms with the existence of newsfilter posts and, in fact, I've come to appreciate many of them. But I really think that the evolving mod standard that such posts be substantial and not just a "first" post consisting of a single link to a major news site, should apply to obituaries.

As a rule, I'm very much opposed to the idea that "more is better" for MeFi posts. I think that single-link, short posts are fine. So are really comprehensive, long posts. And both can be bad. But for news, which includes obits, it seems to me that if it matters enough to post to MetaFilter, then it should matter enough that the post actually include a fair amount of content. Not just exist for the sake of existing.

I mean, I understand that many times what we want are news posts that exist for the threads and not the posts. Right at this very moment, I've been waiting a half-hour to see if someone is going to post the UK supreme court Article 50 decision, because I'm very interested in what people will have to say. And I am tempted to make a post. But I don't have anything substantial prepared. I could throw something together. But as someone who has repeatedly complained about newsfilter, that would be very hypocritical. So I understand: yeah, we sometimes want threads just for the threads. But it makes sense to require that news posts be more substantial in themselves and not just a container for discussion.

And I don't really see any reason to treat obituaries that differently than anything else that is in the category of "can be depressing to many mefites" ... which is to say, it's something to keep an eye on, but there's no standard that we're going to ever be able to apply to eliminate this kind of problem. The mods will just have to deal with stuff as it happens -- if there's so much of something that bothers people that they're getting lots of complaints about it, they can delete more such posts on the grounds of asking for more quality (or some other bar to clear). And then when there aren't so much, they don't need to, um, filter them. This is how MeFi works, how the modding works. I think it works well.

So, if there's been a big uptick in complaints about obit posts, then it makes sense to me that mods may throttle back on them a bit. That's okay. But the main thing, I think, is that obit posts, like all newsfilter posts, should actually take some effort to write and really offer something worthwhile to read.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 2:21 AM on January 24 [8 favorites]


As La Rochefoucauld also wrote, misteraitch,

To know things well, we should know them in detail; and as detail is infinite, our knowledge is always superficial and incomplete.

Your Jaki Liebezeit obituary was the epitome of informative and well crafted. For helping us to know and appreciate this man and his music, you owe no one here an apology. Indeed, we owe you our gratitude.
posted by y2karl at 2:36 AM on January 24 [4 favorites]


Moment of silence dots are a unique part of MetaFilter culture, and for the sake of this place staying a community and not just a website, if we're going to ask people to stop putting them in comments to keep the meatier comments easier to scroll to, there should be a button for dotting a thread up with the favorite and flagging options under the body of the post, that only gets turned on for obituary threads, where people can add their dots, or click through to see a page that is dots and usernames.

Of course, adding a special feature like that also serves to elevate obit threads, singling them out for a special feature that no other types of threads get, which is a problem for those who want to see them de-emphsised entirely. The best case might be to corral them off to their own subsite, any extra features implemented would be justified by it being a subsite, and it'd also serve the needs of those who don't want to have to scroll past obit after obit on the blue.
posted by radwolf76 at 3:43 AM on January 24 [1 favorite]


I very much agree with those saying that obit posts should be thoughtfully crafted and informative / detailed, which I think solves some of the problem of seeing too many of them. If people need to make an effort to create something that's high quality, we aren't going get a ton of slapdash "Person is Dead; here's the first link I found" type posts. Excellent obits are a valuable and appreciated part of the site, Frist Post Deadfilter, not so much.
posted by taz (staff) at 4:34 AM on January 24 [7 favorites]


Regarding the moment of silence dots: for those who don't like them, it should be relatively easy to hack up a Greasemonkey script to remove them from threads. Anyone want to take a shot at that? It's literally just parsing for comments that contain only a single dot, so theoretically shouldn't take more than 5-10 minutes for someone in the know to do.
posted by naju at 5:19 AM on January 24


I very much agree with those saying that obit posts should be thoughtfully crafted and informative / detailed, which I think solves some of the problem of seeing too many of them.

I also agree with that, figuring any obit post should be looked at as if the person wasn't in fact dead and you are trying to inform people of why this person is of interest. The notice of the death itself should generally be secondary. They're not important because they died, but because they did something while they lived. That's what the post should be about.

I'm not keen on the dots and the vague concept of being "respectful", which waxes and wanes in intensity of observance and enforcement depending on who it was that died. I see Metafilter as a link site that promotes conversation, making unclear demands over "respect" works against open conversation which may sometimes go towards less favorable aspects of a person's life. I get that some people become very emotional about some obits, and I certainly can't say anyone is wrong for doing so, but limiting conversation about a person to some narrowly held view over what's acceptable doesn't match what I think the site should be about.

There's nothing intrinsically wrong with the dots, they just take up too much space and don't really add anything to the conversation about the post except, perhaps, a measure of popularity.
posted by gusottertrout at 5:29 AM on January 24 [2 favorites]


Echoing the sentiment that if we raise the bar for obit posts, this problem seems largely self-resolving:

1/ Good, multi-link posts are hard to put together and that means there will be fewer of them.

2/ Good, multi-link posts are educational and interesting, particularly when they are about someone who isn't "notable" to me because I've never even thought about lute making or home birth or how a new kind of cheese is created or whatever. These posts are as good as any other MetaFilter content.

3/ Good, multi-link posts at least partially relieve the mods of having to make a judgement about whether a person is "noteworthy" enough for the front page and all the issues that entails. If the post is about someone obscure to the mods but is still an interesting post, that's fine... we get those all the time, and surely it makes no difference if the subject is also recently dead.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:36 AM on January 24 [7 favorites]


Regarding the moment of silence dots: for those who don't like them, it should be relatively easy to hack up a Greasemonkey script to remove them from threads. Anyone want to take a shot at that? It's literally just parsing for comments that contain only a single dot, so theoretically shouldn't take more than 5-10 minutes for someone in the know to do.

I'm almost positive there already is one, but I can't track it down right now, and it may not cooperate with the modren theme.
posted by Rock Steady at 5:50 AM on January 24


The obituaries are the least depressing section of the newspaper. I am foursquare in favor of obit posts. Also, dots.

(The wiki informs me that a dot-comment-removing script already exists, for those of y'all who'd want one.)
posted by Shmuel510 at 5:51 AM on January 24 [6 favorites]


Chiming in the say I don't find obituaries inherently depressing. We are all going to die, and a life well-lived, even a shorter one, is still a life to be celebrated an examined as far as I'm concerned. I actually find discussion of the impact someone had on people, or learning someone's story even after their death, to be one of the best things about human tribes...our teachers of what it is to be human extend backwards in time.

I still don't really understand the quality metrics which is why I've never attempted a post on the blue, but overall I am definitely for a thoughtful approach rather than speed.
posted by warriorqueen at 6:17 AM on January 24 [5 favorites]


I totally get why the Trumpfilter posts exist, but every time the next one goes up, when I scroll past it, I get heart palpitations again. I have been seriously considering a script to omit them; I'm not posting in them anymore, that's for sure. But that's me. To be honest, on the list of things that I find rough to deal with to see a lot of posts about, the obituaries usually aren't one of them, and as a general rule, I put the management of my mental health on me, not on the composition of the front page posts.

All of that said, I feel like I've noticed, of the recent posts, if the person isn't super notable, then maybe what belongs above the fold is more about their life and work, and less about what ailment killed them, unless for some reason that's notable? Like, if someone was seriously engaged in activism with respect to their illness, possibly notable. But the part that makes them a bit more in the column of "grindingly depressing" than "interesting retrospective on a life" is the parade--not any single instance--of, like, pneumonia, oral cancer, breast cancer, talk about someone's young son, and so on. Even the obituaries section of the paper is usually framed with less focus on sadness and more on the highlights of a person's life, however brief they might be.

I don't mind the reminder that death exists, but I wouldn't mind a slightly higher standard for keeping more relevant-to-total-strangers information above the fold, and putting details like the circumstances of the death inside, instead of the other way around. And I'd definitely be in favor of a slightly higher standard for including more than one link, unless for some reason that one link is really incredible.
posted by Sequence at 6:29 AM on January 24 [1 favorite]


To me unless the person was both deeply obscure and deeply uninteresting, an obit is fine.

One of my favorite exchanges in Fletch Won:
"Not the toughest job in the world. writing obituaries. You answer the phone, listen politely, sometimes you have to check a few facts."

"I'm very good at checking facts."

Frank held up a piece of paper. His hand quivered and his eyes shook as he read the first paragraph from it. 'Ruth Mulholland died peacefully today having accomplished nothing in her fifty-six years.' Did you write that?"

"It was a fact, Frank. I checked."
I think I've remarked on this before: I rarely comment on obits unless the deceased has had some effect on my life and sometimes not even then—I love Can, but I have little to say about Liebezeit's death other than I wish it wasn't so. But I usually look at them and for every obit that means little to me, there are more from which I learn something new. I'm not bothered either way.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:44 AM on January 24


Trying to define who is worthy of an obit is a fool's errand. And aren't there already standards for what makes a quality post?

you can just exclude the "obit" and "obituary" tags in your mefi preferences though, and never see a single post like that again.

Doesn't this more or less take care of the issue for those who don't like seeing so many obits?

I admit that I'm not seeing the issue with simply scrolling past obit posts. I assume that most folks scroll past the overwhelming majority of posts on the blue because they have a life to attend to before someone posts their obit.
posted by she's not there at 7:05 AM on January 24 [8 favorites]


one small vote for fewer
posted by sammyo at 7:33 AM on January 24


Make every obituary post a competition. You select "Yes, this is an obituary" on the New Post screen and the post sits in a queue (like a meta post) until the mods decide which obit goes live. All the rest vanish, or they sit in your activity but visible only to you and mods.

An obituary post should be a good biography post. The "...has bought the farm" part of it should be 5 or 10 percent or less of the post. If you don't know or can't research that much about the person, you aren't the right one to make the post.
posted by pracowity at 7:46 AM on January 24


It all began* when Terry Pratchett died.

"ARRGH! ALL OF A SUDDEN I'M ALONE WITH THIS JOB! AND I CAN'T FIND THE FILE ABOUT HOW MANY CELEBRITIES HE WANTED TO DIE EVERY YEAR," said Death, and decided to just make up some stuff. Result: the 2016 carnage-fest.

*Alternative fact alert
posted by Namlit at 7:50 AM on January 24 [4 favorites]


i guess i'm mostly of the 'if a person is important to you, make a post about their work, not about their death' mind
posted by beerperson at 7:52 AM on January 24 [2 favorites]


No arguments against raising the bar from single link X is dead posts, here.

But asking the mods (as presumably the ultimate arbiters) to make any decisions on notability or whatever criteria would be an absolute shit storm and i don't see any way it could work.
posted by threetwentytwo at 8:00 AM on January 24 [1 favorite]


I haven't even noticed the volume of posts, but I do have to agree that the dots feel like about as substantial a contribution as 'lol,' and more often than not, unless the person is some super beloved figure, I assume that the person who left the dot did so more out of a desire to chime in with 'oh yeah, me too, because that's a thing we do here' than out of any sincere expression of grief. Sorry if it makes me a mega-bitch and I'm certainly not saying they should be banned or anything, but as long as we're talking about it...
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:04 AM on January 24 [4 favorites]


So basically what I'm saying is, if I die and get a metatalk obit post, the family requests 'lol's in lieu of '.'s
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:05 AM on January 24 [7 favorites]


Throwing this out there: as the rate of posts to the blue has declined, common post types will seem like they are dominating the blue more whether or not the frequency has actually gone up.

I happen to like obit posts, but I have my own category of FPPs on a given topic that bums me out and that I think is posted about too often with too low of a bar. It feels like it dominates even more now when it's like, 3 out of 17 posts in a 24-hour period as opposed to, say, 3 out of 40.
posted by lalex at 8:09 AM on January 24


I assume that the person who left the dot did so more out of a desire to chime in with 'oh yeah, me too, because that's a thing we do here' than out of any sincere expression of grief.

Huh. I'm picturing some sort of amusement park sign with a measuring stick and a pointed finger that says YOU MUST GRIEVE THIS MUCH TO LEAVE A DOT.

I don't think the . is ever someone just chiming in. And if it's someone who's wailing and rending their garments, the . would hardly cover it.

It can mean:
- I knew and appreciated their work
- I knew and appreciated them personally
- Wow, I'm too stunned to have words for this
- I hadn't heard about this person before and I'm glad you posted this because this person is remarkable
...

Grief and remembrance are such personal things. Trust that people are putting dots down for their own personal and valid reasons.
posted by mochapickle at 8:18 AM on January 24 [13 favorites]


> I feel as with anything here, I can choose to read a post or not, and that goes for obits. I usually choose to read the obits of folks I'm not familiar with because I feel that if that person matters enough to a fellow Mefite that they go to the work of making a post, then that may be a person I would enjoy learning more about. That often seems to be the case for me.

agatha_magatha said pretty much exactly what I wanted to say. And yes, the Jaki Liebezeit obit was fantastic and well deserved; if you've never heard of him, you can either scroll past and forget it or read it and learn something about a great musician, but what's the point of complaining there are too many obit posts? (I know this MeTa isn't about the Liebezeit post, but he's a convenient example of the kind of person who would probably not get their MeFi moment if the Great Culling happens.)

tl:dr: There is no problem here that needs solving.
posted by languagehat at 8:37 AM on January 24 [5 favorites]


Grief and remembrance are such personal things. Trust that people are putting dots down for their own personal and valid reasons.

Wouldn't it make for a better discussion if they were to actually tell us what their personal and valid reasons are?
posted by jacquilynne at 8:37 AM on January 24 [3 favorites]


The dots used to bug me. Like, when MetaFilter was young. Now MetaFilter is almost all grown-up, about to leave for university, and I've come to just accept the dots as one of those sometimes-annoying, sometimes-endearing -- sometimes even profound -- quirks.

Speaking just for myself, I only dot when I feel strongly enough that there's something I want to say, but don't have anything, actually, to say other than that this person mattered to me and I bear witness to their life and their passing. It's never -- for me, anyway -- a "me, too" thing.

And so insofar as I see the dots here as, usually, representing respect, honor, and grief, I've come to see this community quirk as something valuable. That doesn't mean that I don't occasionally get tired of scrolling through the dots and I don't wish that more people (including myself) were inspired to write substantive comments in obit threads, but these days there are numerous occasions when I find that the cascade of dots in a thread to be genuinely moving. It's a tradition here I've come to respect.

On preview:

"I don't think the . is ever someone just chiming in. [...] Grief and remembrance are such personal things. Trust that people are putting dots down for their own personal and valid reasons."

I strongly agree with the latter two sentences, but I think that they should include what's being described by the first sentence. Which is to say, stuff that's a social performance, a tradition, especially with regard to death, means that individual people will participate for a wide -- very wide -- variety of reasons. And I don't think that it's a good thing to set standards for other people's sincerity and depth of feeling. For oneself? Certainly. But other people's motives are not my business and it's destructive and presumptuous for me to question them. I say this as someone who is still very inclined toward that Caulfield-esque adolescent fetishizing of authenticity. That's why I set my personal standards for such things the way I do. But I (mostly) grew out of making value judgments about other people in this regard a long time ago.

So, yeah, I agree. Let's set side aside the questioning of other people's decision to dot in an obituary thread. As you say, "Trust that people are putting dots down for their own personal and valid reasons."
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 8:41 AM on January 24 [4 favorites]


for me an eighteen-and-a-half minute black-&-white YouTube clip of Can performing Oh Yeah is the best of the web!

I concur. Indeed, I still remember when I first stumbled upon that footage, maybe two years ago. For a long time Can fan, in particular of their early 1970s Damo Suzuki infused magic, discovering that such an artifact even existed was enough to keep me glowing for a few days.

As for the appropriateness of so much death on Mefi's front page, this speaks well for me:

We are all going to die, and a life well-lived, even a shorter one, is still a life to be celebrated an examined as far as I'm concerned. I actually find discussion of the impact someone had on people, or learning someone's story even after their death, to be one of the best things about human tribes...our teachers of what it is to be human extend backwards in time.


Everything is ultimately ephemeral, not just human life. I'm personally at a point in my life when I'm coming up against a lot of great things now being gone. And the conclusion I keep coming to whether it be a loved one, a drummer, a home, a restaurant, a pub, a business model, anything really -- at least we had it. Or as a friend once put it: "The price of joy is future sorrow. Welcome to mortality. Long live mortality."
posted by philip-random at 9:08 AM on January 24 [1 favorite]


My opinion on obit threads has shifted all over the place, and I mostly end up in the same camp with every other "does this belong here?" question: the old "if you don't like it, skip it" answer. But after last year, I see them as a necessary evil in a place where community has become more and more important to me. If anybody finds solace in the same way I did in the Bowie thread for an a celebrity who was important to them, I think it's definitely worth it.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:20 AM on January 24 [5 favorites]


Here in Canada, on Remembrance Day, lots of people wear poppies on their lapels as a show of respect, gratitude, and of course remembrance. A few years ago in Ottawa, when the Remembrance Day Ceremonies had concluded, members of the public, after removing their poppies, started placing them on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It has now become a thing that people do.* It's a thing, a gesture, done by anyone and everyone, in a specific context, without specifically stated reasons or explanations but with a personal reason important to each individual doing it. It's power as a gesture seems to grow as more people engage in it and yet it seems poignant on it's own as a single reflection.
I like to think of the dots in a similar way.

*And has even more meaning now, after ceremonial sentry Nathan Cirillo, who was guarding the Tomb with an unloaded weapon, was fatally shot at close range in 2014.
posted by chococat at 9:30 AM on January 24 [3 favorites]


I was going to comment here, but I died.

*dies*
posted by jonmc at 9:55 AM on January 24


.
posted by biffa at 10:05 AM on January 24 [3 favorites]


I very much agree with those saying that obit posts should be thoughtfully crafted and informative / detailed, which I think solves some of the problem of seeing too many of them.

I don't really understand these kind of sentiments in general. Everyone is not a writer. The entire point of the site is to link to other things; sharing things, not writing things. This isn't a writing site. In the case of obituaries you are linking to the very thing that is already written. How much does that need to be repeated in the post before it's acceptable?

I don't understand what people think a "thoughtfully crafted" post is. For the record, that means nothing to me. I see many posts as too long and full of cruft.
posted by bongo_x at 10:10 AM on January 24 [2 favorites]


Does Overend Watts deserve a thread?

Oh man. That's a big one for me and I just learned about it. But I'm still surprised Pete Burns didn't get a post.

That's the thing about obituary posts, I'm learning a lot about people, but I probably would have never caught that news in the wild on my own. And that's why I come here.
posted by bongo_x at 10:14 AM on January 24 [2 favorites]


I do have to agree that the dots feel like about as substantial a contribution as 'lol,' . . .

Haha, fwiw
posted by y2karl at 12:03 PM on January 24


Yes, this by Ivan Fyodorovich:

But for news, which includes obits, it seems to me that if it matters enough to post to MetaFilter, then it should matter enough that the post actually include a fair amount of content. Not just exist for the sake of existing.

I really want to see multiple links to multiple examples of that person's works, be they a scientist, actress, musician, writer, politician (2017 could be the year where, for example, two to three US presidents pass away), even royalty (the media here in England are prepared for inevitable news) and astronauts (especially the few remaining who walked on the moon, as all are in their eighties). Some links will appear more interesting than others, depending on the reader.

It maybe doesn't help that when you fire up the page to do a post on the blue, the first three boxes you see for filling in are slanted towards single link posts:

1. Title
2. (sole) Link URL
3. (sole) Link text


I've always wondered - not just with obit posts - how much this nudges or encourages some to throw up just a single link, instead of a more rounded multi-link post which you can explore for a while, come back to for more new content, and build a more substantive conversation around.
posted by Wordshore at 1:10 PM on January 24 [1 favorite]


It's always interesting to see what people like. I tend to read MetaFilter on my phone and I prefer there to be just a few outstandingly good links, especially as I can't really preview them that well. I have Google for more. But like I said I don't really get the quality metrics on the blue.
posted by warriorqueen at 1:29 PM on January 24 [1 favorite]


> I've always wondered - not just with obit posts - how much this nudges or encourages some to throw up just a single link, instead of a more rounded multi-link post which you can explore for a while, come back to for more new content, and build a more substantive conversation around.

Do we have to go through this again? There is nothing wrong with single-link posts. They are what MeFi was built on; the whole point of the site was to link to something interesting, not give people a college education. I'm not saying multi-link posts are bad; I've enjoyed the hell out of some of them. But they are not inherently better, and I will do my best to stamp out any emerging flicker of a suggestion that they are.
posted by languagehat at 2:11 PM on January 24 [11 favorites]


... a good single (or slightly more) link posts oft lead to more relevant links popping up in the discussion. I'd personally already seen all of the stuff linked to in initial Jaki Liebezeit FPP, but found some real gems further down the page.
posted by philip-random at 2:23 PM on January 24


Do we have to go through this again? There is nothing wrong with single-link posts.

That's fighting talk. Though in fairness, for the recent POTUS inauguruation day post I was very tempted for the entire content to just be a single link with the text "Well, this sucks."
posted by Wordshore at 2:35 PM on January 24 [1 favorite]


This may explain the absence of an obituary for Antony Armstrong-Jones. An incredibly interesting life, but I won't be posting anything now.
posted by unliteral at 2:38 PM on January 24 [1 favorite]


Single-link posts are a-okay, hunky dory. And links to obits of less-known but incredibly interesting people are a-okay, hunky dory, too.

The problem comes with a single link to a kinda brief obit of someone who had maybe a middling level of recognition, but not really anything super interesting about them - or a multi-link where the additional links are kind of meh/pro-forma and don't add anything interesting. Having too many of these kind of posts is a problem IMO. The exact lines for this (for life-interest and link-quality) are fuzzy, absolutely, but I do think there are some lines there.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 2:48 PM on January 24 [4 favorites]


I would like more obits of people that Mefites find interesting.
posted by desuetude at 4:27 PM on January 24 [2 favorites]


I know it's not the reality, but it feels like sometimes Metafilter is nothing but obits and politics these days. Outrage post, despair post, rage post, rage post, another despair post… I was going to jokingly propose a new subsite, Metafilter Black. I don't actually have anything against obits or politics, it just can seem a little overwhelming at times.
posted by rodlymight at 6:12 PM on January 24 [3 favorites]


I really like the idea of the obit queue. Maybe post the best one when there are 5 or when 24 hours has passed since the first was posted, whichever comes first.

I think the possible problem is that it creates a disincentive: Who wants to put together a great obit with no guarantee it will get posted, and no way of knowing if a better one has been created or if you'll miss the deadline, so (for that reason, and also because why lose good links), the competing non-selected obits should be posted at least as the first few comments in the selected obit thread.

How much of a technical nightmare would that be to set up?
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 6:18 PM on January 24


it feels like sometimes Metafilter is nothing but obits and politics these days.

I'd like to introduce you to Johnny Wallflower.
posted by Room 641-A at 6:22 PM on January 24 [7 favorites]


What exactly is the problem that needs to be solved here?

There seems to be a divide in that some people feel like we should be creating works and content, where I always felt like we should be inking to others works (GYOB). I thought the idea was "here's an interesting thing I saw on the internet, discuss". Being critical of people's posts for not being artistic or informative enough is certainly not the way to get more interesting posts, it only gets less posts.

It makes less sense to me when my pet peeves, "There's a new Marvel movie coming out", followed by "here's the trailer for the new Marvel movie" etc. etc. etc. doesn't seem to be a problem. Is there anyone in the world who might be interested yet doesn't know when a new Marvel movie is coming out without several posts about it?

Sometimes I see something interesting on the internet. I'm not going to sit around for hours and make an encyclopedia entry about it, especially when someone else has. "This person died, they were interesting, here's a link to someone with a lot more to say about it" is as far as I'm going to go.
posted by bongo_x at 6:41 PM on January 24 [1 favorite]


some people feel like we should be creating works and content

Posts need context. Sometimes "link to comic book movie trailer" is enough context. I will also refer to the great Liebezeit obit linked above: two sentences above the fold, one pull quote inside, and a couple of links. I doubt it took "sitting around for hours" to put together. If that's "creating works and content" then basically every post here is. (Which has been argued here before!)

This person died, they were interesting, here's a link to someone with a lot more to say about it" is as far as I'm going to go.

So maybe don't post that as soon as the news breaks and wait to see if someone else would want to write something more in-depth. Like a second sentence.
posted by Room 641-A at 7:04 PM on January 24


Bann all obit threads.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 7:54 PM on January 24


I know it's not the reality, but it feels like sometimes Metafilter is nothing but obits and politics these days. Outrage post, despair post, rage post, rage post, another despair post…

Help be the change you want to see. I don't mean that at all dismissively. Post FPPs about interesting or beautiful or weird things you've encountered online. That's how the balance gets changed.

As far as obit posts go, I like the ones that link to examples of the deceased's work, or stories about them, or something to help me appreciate what was interesting about them.
posted by Lexica at 8:08 PM on January 24 [2 favorites]


Bann all obit threads.
Sorry, only got the one and it's a bit brief. Elmar Wolf.

As far as obit posts go, I like the ones that link to examples of the deceased's work
That I can do - YouTube playlist
posted by unliteral at 8:16 PM on January 24


Execute all typoists.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 8:31 PM on January 24 [1 favorite]


I retain hope that the obits will rebalance themselves once we get past the piling on motivated by that lamentable 2016 meme.
posted by fairmettle at 4:03 AM on January 25


There's nothing intrinsically wrong with the dots, they just take up too much space and don't really add anything to the conversation about the post except, perhaps, a measure of popularity.

. . . except, definitely, that this, too, mattered to me was a thought behind the dot.

Complaining away about what people do is fine with me. Trying to control the content of the common page is not. You don't like the dots? Me, neither. And voicing our opinions shapes the consensus. But they're dots, for Christ's sake. We don't need to do anything more.
posted by y2karl at 6:49 AM on January 25 [6 favorites]


If we had the Black for obits and the Orange for politics, the Blue would be like MeFi Classic. I think the mods think this is silly, but I imagine it would be a lot less disruptive of site culture than the move of entertainment discussion to FanFare. But then maybe it would feel less and less like a "general interest" site.
posted by rikschell at 9:12 AM on January 25 [2 favorites]


MTM :(
posted by Sonny Jim at 12:13 PM on January 25 [1 favorite]


and Butch Trucks.
posted by octothorpe at 12:17 PM on January 25 [1 favorite]


Metafilter : Someone died and someone else was moved to make an obit post because that person touched their lives some how and then someone else took a moment to acknowledge that and then a bunch of people complained because scrolling is you know, hard.

Seriously?
posted by WalkerWestridge at 2:15 PM on January 25 [12 favorites]


I have no problem with obit posts. If I'm not interested, just like everything else, I can ignore them...

(If we're banning every post that depresses us, the next four years are going to be hell)
posted by HuronBob at 4:46 PM on January 25 [5 favorites]


Favoriting an obituary may have a slightly different emotional subtext than leaving a dot.

One thought about the dots: They are easy to scroll through on a computer screen. I suspect the people who are bothered by them are trying to read on phones or something.

It is impossible to optimize for multiple platforms. I appreciate the strengths of larger-screen interactions for digesting information like this.
posted by amtho at 9:30 PM on January 25 [1 favorite]


Obits. I usually skip the links and the discussion, but pause a moment on my scroll to contemplate that persons passing. That brief paragraph a small snapshot into someones entirety. I think about my own mortality for a moment. Saddened that my accomplishments too meager to rank a posting, but humbled that I am still living, and I know that most people will just slip away. Thankful that the funerals have been few, but more are coming.

And there will be much more funerals for everybody in the west, because the boomers have started dying. That wave started in 2015, and will peak around 2020, and return to a normal rate in 2025, and by 2030 the youngest boomers will be 65, and most of the generation will have passed. Its simple demographics- and that means 2017 will resemble, if not outpace 2016.

We will need to be resilient. Soon most of the artists, writers and cornerstones of boomer culture, who tend to be slightly older than their cohort, will die. Just look at this random list -
Bruce Springsteen (67)
Pete Townshend (The Who): 71
Michael Jagger (Rolling Stones): 73
Keith Richards (Rolling Stones): 73
Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin): 73
Paul McCartney (Beatles): 74
Brian Wilson (Beach Boys): 74
Bob Dylan: 75
Ringo Star (Beatles): 76
Actuary tables indicate that half of US males who are 75 will pass away within a dozen years. So obit filter is going to be a much larger part of here and culture generally for the foreseeable future.
posted by zenon at 9:14 AM on January 27 [1 favorite]


I've heard that newspapers and TV networks make it a practice to write up obits for prominent people before they've died in order to not be caught flat-footed when a person of note actually does pass away. Which means there must already exist hundreds of detailed, lovingly-composed obituaries for a certain notorious figure who shall remain nameless. I wonder how it felt for the authors of those pieces to actually put those words down on paper? Huh.
posted by Atom Eyes at 10:23 AM on January 27


I've heard that newspapers and TV networks make it a practice to write up obits for prominent people before they've died in order to not be caught flat-footed when a person of note actually does pass away.

Elizabeth Taylor's NYT obituary was credited to a staff writer who died six years before Elizabeth Taylor did, because it hadn't been substantively revised in at least that long. Even MeFi does it.
posted by Etrigan at 10:39 AM on January 27 [1 favorite]


Barbara Hale .
posted by tilde at 12:10 AM on January 29 [1 favorite]


My obit post about Barbara Hale was deleted for being too thin. I'm not likely to try again as I linked to two substantial obituaries about her and don't know what else to do. Anyone who wants to take a crack at it is welcome to do so. I think she deserves it.

I'm not pissy about this (I've got a cold; "pissy" would require too much energy), but if obit posts are going to be held to a different standard than other kinds of posts, the rules need to be spelled out and posted prominently.

As others have noted, any obit post fatigue people are feeling is not likely to be relieved in 2017. FWIW, I stand firmly with languagehat on what a good MeFi post can be -- even an obituary post.
posted by bryon at 3:42 PM on January 29 [2 favorites]


Obit posts are basically newsfilter, and if you're getting your news from Metafilter, Papa Legba help you.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 3:50 PM on January 29


I'm in favor of setting your preference to exclude anything with the relevant tags, if it's something you don't want to see. It's not hard - set it, forget it.

For myself, I largely like obit posts. There are lots of interesting people in the world, many I never hear of until they pass and someone posts about them here. I click if the title and above the fold catches my attention, I scroll by if it doesn't.
posted by MissySedai at 5:20 PM on January 31 [1 favorite]


Soon most of the artists, writers and cornerstones of boomer culture, who tend to be slightly older than their cohort, will die. Just look at this random list...

Well, THAT is depressing.
posted by she's not there at 12:14 AM on February 1


Posting ages later, but, ho about adding tags of a post to the front page, so as to make TamperMonkeying those posts away infinitely easier?
posted by XtinaS at 8:38 PM on February 16


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