Flagged as Fake April 28, 2017 8:26 AM   Subscribe

Should there be a flag category for false or misleading information?

(Mods, ok not to post if not a productive topic.)

(Also sort of previous, 2005 and 2014)

There has been an uptick of comments in fast-moving politics threads where a linked story, tweet, or fact is later demonstrated to be false. Sometimes this debunking happens only a few comments down, or sometimes days later. Is there a benefit to allowing users to flag comments as "false" or "misleading"? in lieu of deletion, my thought would be to mark highly-flagged comments with a visual cue like a red asterisk or auto-hiding them to limit the spread of bad information.
posted by Chris4d to Feature Requests at 8:26 AM (16 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

Heya, I get the thinking but don't see us making this sort of change; marking up comments after the fact isn't really in line with how the site functions vs. debunking or critical discussion in the flow of the thread after the fact, and switching gears there feels like a big change for not a good enough reason. It also implies putting the mod staff in charge of assessing, and making up/down decisions on, truthfulness which boy howdy am I not interested in.

In the spirit of the thing though, I'll reiterate a couple things that folks can do, especially with these fast-moving US politics threads but also just in general for fast-moving stuff:

1. Flag stuff promptly that's obviously problematic (or promptly drop us a line at the contact form); some stuff that's really pretty error-in-judgement type stuff is easier to actually delete and cut off a derail on if we know right away what's up than if we're only giving it a close look hours later. If you're not sure what to flag as, don't fret over it, just use "other"; we'll look regardless.

2. Slow down on the linkin' to shocking/surprising/unbelievable stuff. These threads move fast because...people move fast. Any given link will wait around while you do a little it of googling or critical reassessment; as much as there's lots of appalling, stupid shit actually happening for realsies in the world today, none of it needs to be chased down breathlessly, so take the time to sort out the real WTF stuff from the hoax/prank/bad-joke stuff before adding it to a thread. Everybody commenting in a MetaFilter thread is the filter for usefulness; add signal, not noise.

That this is a problem in particular in fast-moving threads is sort of a structural double-whammy because it means it's harder to clean up, harder to get a prompt response, etc. But while I can see the merit in the idea here, I think it would be difficult to substantially improve the threads themselves with this change, so I'm pretty strongly disinclined to pursue it.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:35 AM on April 28 [6 favorites]


I vote no. I want to see that shit called out and, if posted in bad faith, hit with some sunlight.
posted by RolandOfEld at 9:14 AM on April 28 [7 favorites]

I vote no. I want to see that shit called out and, if posted in bad faith, hit with some sunlight.
In my experience, unfortunately, usually
  • It was posted in good faith
  • It is hit with sunlight
  • Many more people notice the original false statement than the correction (as gauged by favorites, responses, quotes, etc.)
I don't know what the best solution is, or if there is one, but it's disheartening.
posted by dfan at 10:27 AM on April 28 [11 favorites]


Little known fact, day old nachos, when mashed together and stored in the refrigerator overnight work as a great exfoliant for your feet.
posted by Nanukthedog at 11:06 AM on April 28 [5 favorites]


Trump is a great President. Rhode Island is the biggest state in the USA, Obama was not a great President, Alaska has a tropical climate, Hillary did not lose because of misogyny, The world population is decreasing, Sanders would have beaten Trump, Zuckerberg had nothing to do with Facebook's origins, and Russia didn't hack the election. And I tried that day old nachos thing. All it did was make my feet smell like day old nachos (Flagged for misleading).
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 11:29 AM on April 28 [6 favorites]


If this pony ever gets off the ground, I also want to be able to use it to retroactively mark my old "I'm a totally cis dude and I feel the same way" AskMe answers with a little footnote that says "Actually y'all it turns out zie was trans as fuck, probably take this with a grain of salt."
posted by nebulawindphone at 12:33 PM on April 28 [16 favorites]


We should just make it easy. Any good news about President Trump or bad news about any progressive person or cohort we will define as fake and the mods will excise it from Metafilter.
posted by Rob Rockets at 12:52 PM on April 28 [1 favorite]


I've seen a few where a mod "warning" addendum to the original post that "there are unconfirmed" comments could have slowed the grarrrar somewhat, perhaps consider the occasional ad hoc addendum?
posted by sammyo at 7:03 PM on April 28 [1 favorite]


METAFILTER: I don't know what the best solution is, or if there is one, but it's disheartening.





and yet we perservere
posted by philip-random at 12:52 AM on April 29 [5 favorites]


Yes.

The blue has always been good at debunking any BS in an FPP and many of us rely on what mefites might have to say on something or the other. This would be a great value to the community if it could be made visible somehow with the take down details.
posted by infini at 2:10 AM on April 29


no, it's a discussion board. Discuss.
posted by Sebmojo at 4:36 AM on April 29 [5 favorites]


The solution is reading. Whenever you can, take the time to read comments and encourage comment-reading.
posted by Miko at 7:29 AM on April 29 [1 favorite]


I have trademarked DayOldNachos (tm) and will be soon rolling out an entire line of DON-branded skin care products.
posted by mrbill at 9:35 PM on April 30


Seeing a correction of an erroneous or false comment is incredibly instructive and helpful. Not seeing erroneous information addressed at all is a huge problem. It means that people who come up with problematic ideas on their own, or who are given bad information from other sources, will never ever see any counterpoint to it.

That in turn leaves the door open for all kinds of "THEY don't want you to know X" conspiracy-theory-style reinforcement of bad information.

I think it's better, at least some of the time, and probably more often than happens now, to let people propose (or ask about) problematic ideas and then follow that with actual counterpoint information that explains exactly why X, Y, or Z is not a workable solution to the problem at hand.
posted by amtho at 8:19 AM on May 1 [1 favorite]


The solution is reading. Whenever you can, take the time to read comments and encourage comment-reading.

The problem is that especially with the megathreads, many people can't devote enough time to reading every bit of the thread. As dfan noted, very often people read long enough into the threads to see the misinformation, miss the debunked followups, and then repeat the misinformation here and elsewhere. Fake news is a problem for all the sides.

For the cases where it was done in good faith and the poster recognizes the error, perhaps someone should be able to flag their own comments in just the megathreads as debunked with an optional link to the proper information?
posted by Candleman at 8:58 AM on May 1


"As dfan noted, very often people read long enough into the threads to see the misinformation, miss the debunked followups, and then repeat the misinformation here and elsewhere. Fake news is a problem for all the sides."

Fake news, or bad information? How is this different than hearing some random wrong thing in the bar, and then repeating it?

Advice for fast-breaking news stories: Wait a couple of days; honest reporters (and metafilter users) often gets facts wrong when they are rushing to get information into the public. For most news stories they won't immediately impact you, so waiting a day or two for more facts to come out can be helpful.

A tweet from someone is not a primary source of information. Before 'fake news' became a phrase, the internet was filled with non-factual information being passed on as real; it's our jobs (as humans) to be critical information consumers.

If people are repeating things they saw someone post in a long thread in a 'breaking news' situation as gospel truth, perhaps they shouldn't do that.

If we had things function, flagging a comment isn't a refutation, it's a disagreement. If you disagree with something someone says, post a reply (and for fun and giggles add a citation/link to your refutation).
posted by el io at 10:51 AM on May 11 [1 favorite]


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