FanFare Needs a Pony April 12, 2017 9:22 AM   Subscribe

FanFare turns three years old this month and needs pretty pictures as a present.

At the bottom of the Visualizing the impact of US politics megaposts on the blue thread here on MetaTalk there was some surprising unanimity of opinion (Five people agreeing without dissent!) on the idea that FanFare would benefit from having the ability to post images and gifs.

The thinking here is fairly straight forward. With most of the discussions so centered around images it would be a boon to be able to post images in the thread as examples to make discussion easier and more enjoyable. It would also make FanFare more in line with the way people seem to be using the web now and other sites that discuss media and the arts.

My working assumption would be that the site would hide the images as the default and only show them when clicked on to make the threads less cumbersome to load and browse if this were to happen. I have no knowledge, however, of how difficult this would be to implement or maintain, so that is a consideration that could provide difficulty for the idea.
posted by gusottertrout to Feature Requests at 9:22 AM (51 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

My first reaction to this is, I'm leery. I think it's optimistic to think images would be used mainly in a scholarly/substantive-media-discussion way, and it's likely they'd be used more in a (fun but) noisy reaction-gifs way. It would be a big, big change. But folks can talk it over here.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 9:26 AM on April 12 [3 favorites]


I am not a fan of this idea. I think if all you really want is to bring images in that require a click to reveal, links already handle that. Meanwhile, I think anything with less friction than that is going to lead to them being used for liveblog reaction-style conversations.

Fanfare threads should still be interesting and useful a month after having been posted (e.g. even if you're not watching a thing as it first is aired). I think adding any kind of inline images will encourage people to interact with the site in a way that will reduce that utility.
posted by tocts at 9:43 AM on April 12 [2 favorites]


Pro: no need to click a link to view an image!
Cons: link rot, and increased bandwidth use.
Solution to 2nd con: add "treat embedded images as links" option, perhaps as a default, as is done on Metachat (the sibling website, not the official MetaFilter chat space).
posted by filthy light thief at 9:47 AM on April 12 [1 favorite]


The end of pics and gifs on Metafilter was when it felt, at least to me, like we developed into a healthier community.
posted by 80 Cats in a Dog Suit at 9:53 AM on April 12 [5 favorites]


We can look at the sort of image links people currently post in Fanfare - I just paged through the the Rogue One post, and there weren't any reaction gifs posted - mostly links to visuals were referencing in their text. Up to a point, I do think the current culture around not having images will probably temper reaction gif use more than you'd find on different forums.

I also disagree that posting a link is the same as having a 'click to view' option - especially on mobile, we don't know what site the link might be leading to, how busy the site will be with ads, is it going to open in a new window, ect.

Admittedly, I would find it a lot easier to talk about comics if I'm able to post images, but it's hardly the only visual medium we talk about on Fanfare.
posted by dinty_moore at 9:55 AM on April 12


We can already post all the pictures we'd ever need.

🍔
posted by adamrice at 9:56 AM on April 12 [5 favorites]


I think it's optimistic to think images would be used mainly in a scholarly/substantive-media-discussion way, and it's likely they'd be used more in a (fun but) noisy reaction-gifs way.

Even though I do try not to be too disruptive around here, in the 30 seconds since I read this I already have a mental list of four billion reaction gifs ready to go. JUST THIS ONCE. Although, it would probably end up like the edit function; some initial abuse and then the occasional need for a mod reminder.
posted by Room 641-A at 10:15 AM on April 12 [1 favorite]


I really like that MeFi is a wall of fast loading text. I miss the time when the web was nearly all that way and it didn't much matter if it wasn't because I was browsing via Lynx on a VT220. Also, get off my lawn.

I do think that embedded images wouldn't be wildly misused on FanFare and it wouldn't bother me too much but it would be a major change to a long standing norm. Of course mods could set boundaries but that would add work to the mod team. Though I don't know how the line would be drawn differently than with a link to an image it seems like it would be.

I use Imagus which exists for Chrome and Firefox at least and works pretty well. Links to single images on many sites will pop up when hovering the mouse over the link. This isn't going to work on mobile or for many people, but it might be an alternative for some.
posted by Clinging to the Wreckage at 10:15 AM on April 12 [3 favorites]


Community norms / content aside, weren't images originally disabled due to CSRF security concerns? Is that still an issue?
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 10:29 AM on April 12 [6 favorites]


I am vehemently against pictures/GIFs on the Blue but I strongly support them in FanFare. They both serve different purposes and I'm scrambling to think of (non-technical) reasons why adding pictures would make those threads worse or less enjoyable.

Specifically, I'm thinking about Westworld and how great it would have been to put images right into the damn post.
posted by Tevin at 10:31 AM on April 12 [4 favorites]


as is done on Metachat

Rah rah MetaChat! Check out MetaChat! This is a plug for MetaChat!
posted by Melismata at 10:35 AM on April 12 [5 favorites]


FanFare turns three years old this month

jawdrop.gif
posted by billiebee at 10:36 AM on April 12 [8 favorites]


FanFare turns three years old this month

WHAAAAAAAAAAAAA
posted by Going To Maine at 10:38 AM on April 12 [1 favorite]


Seconding NSAID that images were removed for cross-site scripting concerns--Rhomboid once managed to get a favorite from everyone who clicked on a thread.

In theory you could get around that by introducing something like BB Code rather than pure HTML, but (a) I don't know if anyone would want to introduce that since it goes against the ethos of commenting here and (b) I prefer text-only discussion and would probably stop using FanFare if it became reaction-gif-a-rama.
posted by thecaddy at 11:05 AM on April 12 [2 favorites]


I'm against this, mostly for the reasons Clinging to the Wreckage has said, above. I lurk on FanFare much more than I post, and I would neither post nor lurk as much if inline images were part of the experience.
posted by gauche at 11:09 AM on April 12


weren't images originally disabled due to CSRF security concerns?

It was the straw the broke the back, sure. But #1 had commented many, many times about how they were a moderation headache. Both because of lulzy/grossout (jessamin had a classic response to a chicken-fucker comment) content and because image links in the early 2000s tended to have short half-lives (mefi never hosted images, it hotlinked them). I don't think it's as simple to say that images were removed for one single reason.

Were mefi to self-host images, it would solve the technical issues, though might cause financial ones. With the modern throughput and storage costs of 2017, IDK how expensive that would be now. But in either case the increased moderation load would still be there.
posted by bonehead at 11:15 AM on April 12


I am not super into this. Clicking a link to an image and opening it in a new tab is already a thing that exists, and I don't think that hinders the conversation in any way.
posted by everybody had matching towels at 11:55 AM on April 12 [1 favorite]


I don't know. I just skimmed through a couple lively TV discussions over at the AV Club and they don't use images. I think FanFare suffers from a lack of structure and focus, not lack of images.
posted by lalex at 12:15 PM on April 12 [7 favorites]


My feeling on this, beyond the bare outline suggested in my post, is that talking about movies, tv shows, comics and other visual media almost requires image posting for the discussions to be both more easily understood and substantive when one wants to draw attention to specifics within the work, and more enticing to engage with when one hasn't yet seen the work but may be interested in doing so.

In the latter case, when, say, making a post about a movie few may yet have seen, adding images helps give a better feel for the film and makes it much, much easier to describe in look and tone than trying to rely on words alone. In the former case, images can help draw out comparisons between scenes in the film or across films to emphasize a point as well as draw attention to elements that may not have been noticed or given the same weight by others as they did by the person posting the image. This element is one which makes offsite image links more difficult to use as the text and images are separated, making for more difficult comparisons or the need to click back and forth between the two sites to read and see what is being talked about. It also allows those who may not know what exactly to say about something they saw or find difficulty in describing to simply post an image in lieu of trying to put it into words. Some thing shown are visually or emotionally more complex than language alone can easily account for in that way.

With those things in mind, my feeling is that some of the objections, while important, are weighing the potential negatives too heavily when compared to the benefits. I'm also not entirely sure how difficult it would be to minimize some of the worst projected ills images might cause. I mean there could certainly be a rule that required the images to be germane to the topic and not "chatty" as is the case with replies on the blue, so no generic reaction gifs, for example would be welcome. I'm also not really sure how much extra moderation would be required unless the amount of posting itself would dramatically increase.

I'm certainly not privy to how the behind the scenes elements work here, but my imagining would be that an image post is like a comment in the amount of work or difficulty required to decide on and possibly delete it. If that is roughly the case, then if the amount of engagement didn't dramatically increase the amount of effort involved shouldn't either, and if the amount of engagement did increase it might be hard to mark that as a point against the value of adding images as more users or more engaged users would seem to be a plus in some fashion.

Security concerns or increases in cost, of course, are a different matter, and one I know nothing about so I take no stance on those worries and would rather not have images then put the site at any risk of course.

As a final note, I admit to also being a little disappointed that there would be worry over the user base here somehow really abusing the feature as I tend to think of the site as being one where people are invested in its continued well being. With images so readily found on all manner of sites out there now, many with far less dedicated user bases and still able to function without dramatic problem with image posts, I'd like to think Metafilter could do so as well under whatever guidelines would be decided upon. If most users here simply aren't that interested in the function or don't see enough benefit to it, that's a different matter too and would be something I'd respect as coming from the same best interests for the site I have.
posted by gusottertrout at 12:17 PM on April 12 [3 favorites]


I am not a fan of this pony.
posted by Shmuel510 at 12:19 PM on April 12


Instead of that pony can we get little tags or whatever attached to each show and movie that shows us what service you can view it on, whether it be broadcast or netflix or public tv. Below the "categories" thing on the right, I'd love to be able to click the little hulu button to find things to watch the MeFi is interested in.

(This also doesn't even have to be a pony from the mods, we could just agree as a site to start tagging)
posted by FirstMateKate at 12:33 PM on April 12 [7 favorites]


Anyone with enough savvy to post a screencap to a thread is able to put that screencap up on an image hosting site or google docs or dropbox or a million other places and just include the link in the comment.

I appreciate the impetus for this suggestion -- encouraging substantive discussion about details of how a scene was staged or photographed or whatever -- but it seems to me that those motivated enough to actually do this (and to care enough to look at the screencaps) will follow a link in the thread, anyway.

"Instead of that pony can we get little tags or whatever attached to each show and movie that shows us what service you can view it on, whether it be broadcast or netflix or public tv."

This is in principle a really, really good idea but in practice it's complicated by the fact that a good portion of mefites are outside the US (and therefore availability will vary). But I agree that maybe there could be a way to encourage posters to include such links? Maybe there could be an optional field(s) in the form linking to an online service for that show that posters could use, if they wish?

Finally, since we're wishing for FanFare ponies, I really really really wish there were some practical and legal way that we could have group watching events (with chat or something). Gosh, that would be so fun. I've been thinking and exploring this possibility for literally years, and of course it can be done, but not so much legally and/or not where it would be very easy for most end-users.

Someone really needs to tell Netflix/Google/Apple that some sort of synchronized "friends and family group watch" functionality might be popular (depending upon implementation, probably).
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 12:41 PM on April 12 [6 favorites]


I am vehemently against pictures/GIFs on the Blue but I strongly support them in FanFare.

I've been thinking about this since it came up in the big Meta about megathreads, and this is where I'm at too. I don't think most of the site would benefit from images, but I think it would be pretty cool on Fanfare.
posted by mordax at 12:49 PM on April 12 [1 favorite]


>I think if all you really want is to bring images in that require a click to reveal, links already handle that.

>Clicking a link to an image and opening it in a new tab is already a thing that exists, and I don't think that hinders the conversation in any way.

>but it seems to me that those motivated enough to actually do this (and to care enough to look at the screencaps) will follow a link in the thread, anyway.

This is platform dependent, I think: on a phone, particularly in medium-to-long threads, I'm not going to follow every link (particularly if it's unclear from the displayed text exactly what the link is to). On the desktop, with a tabbed browser, yes, not a huge issue. But I would absolutely appreciate this pony as a platform-usability tweak, to make the mobile experience as easy to engage with as the desktop. I'm also deeply against this on the Blue, but it feels like it would be a fun addition to Fanfare (that might or not be worth the work to set it up, but).

I'd hope that site culture would keep images away from endless reaction gifs, and if this were to be done it would be done best as (at least at first) a time-limited trial since it's a big departure from how Fanfare has looked.
posted by cjelli at 12:51 PM on April 12 [1 favorite]


If this happens it should probably be well before or well after Game of Thrones comes out in July, unless the mods want to do some sort of trial by fire approach.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 12:56 PM on April 12 [2 favorites]


my imagining would be that an image post is like a comment in the amount of work or difficulty required to decide on and possibly delete it.

On the blue, I think the feeling was that images tended to get rapidly posted and countered, leading to rapid cascades of comments. The young hair-hoppers of today might call them meme wars. They engendered cycles of quickfire posting that wasn't great for site discussion and could provoke cries of alarm and censorship when they got clipped out. I think they did make things worse that straight text. And I'm glad of their absence every time we have a long thread where feelings run close to the surface.

Also they made the pages pretty ugly, and visually noisy. Even if they weren't all gifs of elephants excreting voluminously.

That said, I think the use and intention in a very directed site like Fanfare would be very different that if they were allowed in the politics megathreads. I've long thought that Ask would benefit from inline images.
posted by bonehead at 1:04 PM on April 12 [1 favorite]


If we wanted to do @FirstMeKate's suggestion, Guidebox has an API.
posted by softlord at 1:08 PM on April 12


Not a fan of inlining images either. Apart from the visual clutter: it's a lot easier to be accidentally spoiled by an image, which is all up in your eyeballs and into your brain immediately, than it is by a comment which you can nope out of in mid-reading.

The pony I would like is for clicking an image link to automatically popover a lightbox containing the image, similarly to the popover players for YouTube and Vimeo videos. That would make "hey, look at this screencap" a lot more seamless than having to navigate away/navigate back or open-in-new-tab/change tabs/close tab.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 1:14 PM on April 12 [6 favorites]


For the inlining images - it sounds like a lot of the issues would be solved by having the 'click to view image' option as default: You'd have to click on the image to be spoiled, and you wouldn't have to deal with the image data load slowing things down unless you clicked on the image (it may be a little slower, but hopefully not by much). Am I missing something?

Another difference between the 'click to view image' vs. clicking and going to an outside source - it's a lot more difficult to see what a link is on mobile, and I'm disinclined to click on any link while on mobile because there's a fair chance that it's to youtube, and my data plan is not forgiving.
posted by dinty_moore at 1:19 PM on April 12 [1 favorite]


Imagus - which I linked above - is pretty much what you're describing We had a deal, Kyle. The problem with it, and I presume the same problem with implementing it behind the scenes on the site, is that it already handles 262 sites (in my install) and there are plenty of image links that still don't work. Image links are apparently not nearly as popoverable as Youtube or Vimeo since they have a known link format that can be scraped.
posted by Clinging to the Wreckage at 1:26 PM on April 12


FanFare needs more people posting, not images.

I think I've mentioned how frustrating it is when a clip of a show or some yawning thinkpiece about it makes it to the blue and gets comments almost in the three digits, while the FF post gets a dozen. Maybe.
posted by lmfsilva at 1:41 PM on April 12 [6 favorites]


There have been some pretty excellent pic & gif-worthy moments in Survivor this season and while yeah I can always just link to them wouldn't it be better to see this inline with all my comments?
posted by phunniemee at 1:43 PM on April 12


>Finally, since we're wishing for FanFare ponies, I really really really wish there were some practical and legal way that we could have group watching events (with chat or something).

So who wants to watch Veep with me this weekend?
posted by Tevin at 1:59 PM on April 12


Ivan Fyodorovich: Finally, since we're wishing for FanFare ponies, I really really really wish there were some practical and legal way that we could have group watching events (with chat or something). Gosh, that would be so fun. I've been thinking and exploring this possibility for literally years, and of course it can be done, but not so much legally and/or not where it would be very easy for most end-users.

Tevin: So who wants to watch Veep with me this weekend?

If it's live TV, couldn't Metafilter Chat be used for this? Or any other IRC channel? There are plenty of online IRC clients, and maybe even some that work well on mobile devices.

Otherwise, it seems like MST3K viewing works well with CyTube, when though I haven't used it myself. There are (or were, as of July 2016) three Netflix (plus Hulu and Crackle) synced watching and chatting tools/services.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:22 PM on April 12 [3 favorites]


I'm pretty much against this.
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:48 PM on April 12


> FanFare needs more people posting, not images.

Repeated for emphasis. I admit I enjoyed the images back in the Stone Age when we had them, but the site is better without them. Yes, even FanFare. Use your words!
posted by languagehat at 3:34 PM on April 12 [3 favorites]


Oh Lord, no! I've got a pretty good opinion of you all, but I know for a fact that I'd be just-this-once-ing any amount of oblique quasi-memetic visual nonsense, whilst all the time giving side-eye or worse side-mouth to any similar mis-posters.

Image links are good. Is it not possible to have a GreaseMonkey/whatever script which expands bare (or e.g. specifically-prefixed) image links to inline ones?
posted by comealongpole at 3:45 PM on April 12 [1 favorite]


Please don't fuck up FanFare. I really like FanFare! Thank you.
posted by MoonOrb at 7:55 PM on April 12


At last, the triumphant return of Ceiling Cat!
posted by Chrysostom at 8:12 PM on April 12 [4 favorites]


It seems the idea isn't a popular one. Fair enough. I do have to wonder though why it is that reaction gifs aren't more prominent now if that's the worry, given the seeming belief that posting links to images works as well as having them in thread. I'm having trouble reconciling those two perspectives myself.

My takeaway from this is more that people aren't seeing a value as the function isn't something they see themselves using, other than perhaps for some ransom gif fun, so it feels more like the proposal doesn't seem to spark enough interest in using it as some of us would like to, which is certainly fine, but a somewhat different thing than what's being said.
posted by gusottertrout at 9:09 PM on April 12


Not meaning to completely dump on the idea. I definitely recognise the uses for images, side-by-side comparisons, close-ups, "THIS is the thing I'm talking about" and similar illustrative purposes, plus Fanfare is a less-settled/more-experimental subsite anyway. Wouldn't be against seeing it tried out.
posted by comealongpole at 6:21 AM on April 13


I do have to wonder though why it is that reaction gifs aren't more prominent now if that's the worry, given the seeming belief that posting links to images works as well as having them in thread. I'm having trouble reconciling those two perspectives myself.

I'm sorry that your pony request isn't getting the response you want, but this seems like a grumpy, willful misunderstanding of the pushback. It is not at all inconsistent to say that the current amount of friction allows people to post links to images to discuss if relevant in a way that is workable for that purpose, while not being seamless enough to encourage reaction gifs (because their light, reactionary nature doesn't work as well as a link, vs. inline).
posted by tocts at 6:34 AM on April 13 [4 favorites]


Eh. I've been in other forums that didn't allow inline posting of images, and they totally posted reactionary gifs as links. Twitter - and twitter users - did that forever. Reactionary gifs worked just as well as links as more useful external images are as links. But those forums (and those twitter conversations) were a hell of a lot more chatty than Fanfare. You might have a couple of reactionary gifs occasionally, but I don't think fanfare is really in danger of looking like ONTD circa 2010, especially if people side eye their use, simply because it's the least organically chatty of the Metafilter subsections.

I mean, I think what's more likely is that people are less likely to post any images, including reactionary gifs, because it's kind of a pain to find the image, upload it, and post a link if you realize that a good majority of the people wouldn't click on it (this is definitely where I am). But it's also sounding like a lot of people would rather have a higher barrier for posting any image, which is fine.
posted by dinty_moore at 6:56 AM on April 13 [1 favorite]


(Here's also where I admit lack of images kept me from participating with the discussion of Legion, because my contributions would have been mostly been about the batshit weird and pretty going on in the visuals, but translating that batshit weird and pretty into words made it seem banal)
posted by dinty_moore at 7:11 AM on April 13 [1 favorite]


I do have to wonder though why it is that reaction gifs aren't more prominent now if that's the worry, given the seeming belief that posting links to images works as well as having them in thread. I'm having trouble reconciling those two perspectives myself.

I mean, maybe it's just me, but I can easily imagine it being misused the same way it's not uncommon to see a post with "edit to add:" even though that's explicitly against the guidelines.
posted by everybody had matching towels at 8:14 AM on April 13


I support this pony. Fanfare needs a structural overhaul to make it easier to engage with but images and gifs would make the discussion more engaging, light-hearted and sometimes more insightful. From an aesthetic perspective, well, Fanfare already hurts my eyes with movie and TV posters, so why not add images that might actually add something to the discussion.

I'm envisaging something with a compulsory heading text that one has to click on to actually view the image (like the spoiler text in some online forums). I'm sure there are more technical terms for all of this.

I'm not sure that reaction gifs are such a big deal. Maybe I'm being naive here, but I feel that good moderation, strong community norms and judicious flagging should reduce pointless reaction gifs, while letting the actually witty ones through.

I think it's definitely worth trying out in a few threads if the mods have the time to monitor it and are willing to see what direction norms might evolve towards.
posted by tavegyl at 10:36 PM on April 13 [3 favorites]


I think images from the shows would be cool to have, but I'm also 90% sure that would quickly devolve into reaction gifs, and since show images would improve FanFare by 10% for me and a slew of reaction gifs would worsen FanFare by 237% for me, I'm good with leaving things as they are.

Apart from the visual clutter: it's a lot easier to be accidentally spoiled by an image, which is all up in your eyeballs and into your brain immediately, than it is by a comment which you can nope out of in mid-reading.

I don't get why someone would read a FanFare thread for a show they haven't seen yet if they didn't want it to be spoiled. I don't know what you're expecting. It's discussion about the show. Spoilers happen by default.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 6:38 AM on April 17 [1 favorite]


I was thinking more of "in the preview for next week" and "in this leaked thing I found on Reddit / Tumblr" against-the-guidelines spoilers . The kind of things that get flagged and modded fairly quickly in fast-moving FanFare threads. In text they're an avoidable annoyance in the gap between posting and deleting; in image form they'd be unavoidable. But maybe I'm worrying too much about an edge case.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 1:23 PM on April 17


I agree with the comment above this one*. For example, yesterday I was looking for more images for my Expanse screensaver and one of the ones that came up on image search was a major spoiler. Luckily I've read the books, and so my perspective for the remaining episode is "will they do That Scene the way I expect them to or differently?" and it doesn't feel like a serious spoiler. But if I hadn't read the books, I might be annoyed right now.

*Side note to We had a deal, Kyle: do you have a preference for having your username abbreviated/nicknamed? Whad,K? Kyle? "Quote it in full if you're going to refer to me?" Something else?
posted by Lexica at 4:17 PM on April 17


(No particular preference; feel free to abbreviate however you like. I see WHADK used fairly frequently.)
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 5:07 PM on April 17


"We had a deal, Kyle" should be abbreviated "mathowie."
posted by Chrysostom at 8:36 PM on April 17


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