Already read the NYT today
October 3, 2002 11:23 AM   Subscribe

Of the 20 posts made to MetaFilter today, the majority are based solely or primarily on 17 links to major newspapers and/or other news sources on the Web. Three Yahoo news links, two Washington Post links, yet another dead-or-abused-child thread. [More inside.]
posted by Danelope to Feature Requests at 11:23 AM (168 comments total)

I love MetaFilter for its capacity to dig up obscure and interesting stuff -- for example, the Lego dope one this morning was entertaining -- but lately I find myself tempted to stop reading entirely. This is not what MetaFilter is for. This is against the guidelines, against both the creator's and the community's intent for the site, and is turning the MeFi into a mindless current events discussion board.

I don't know what the solution is, aside from a more stringent adherence to the principles upon which the site was founded. I'm all for benevolent dictatorship, and if it means that Matt will have to delete boring, zero-thought-invested posting-for-the-sake-of-posting content more frequently, I would applaud those decisions.

While I realize that no one member can or should dictate the "interest" level for the entire community, 17+ news posts before noon seems very, very excessive.
posted by Danelope at 11:24 AM on October 3, 2002


Go Danelope! Below this post you will find:

1. Someone complaining that this has been complained about before
2. Someone pointing out that everyone has a different definition of "obscure" and "interesting"
3. Someone suggesting if you don't like a thread, don't read it
4. Someone citing a post saying that Matt grudgingly accepts the NewsFilter noise as part of the cost of having "guidelines" instead of rules
5. A bunch more people supporting you.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 11:29 AM on October 3, 2002


I had the same thought when I logged on this morning, and I usually don't mind the news stories.

I'm all for instituting a put-some-thought-into-your-news-post-and-extend-it-past-one-link guideline and having Matt trounce anything that seems to have been posted sans thought. It certainly seems like a good deal of people rush to post a news item as quickly as they can so that they can have their name by the '60 comments' on the main page.
posted by The God Complex at 11:30 AM on October 3, 2002


1, 2 and 5
posted by gottabefunky at 11:30 AM on October 3, 2002


danelope: word.

(except for the dope-smoking legos, which made the meme rounds weeks ago. actually, i now get that sort of thing from our lovely friends at quonsar and co., who are the new POE without the fucking gradeschoolers. yeah, that's you, kid.)

of course, the eventual argument is "that's what the community desires", but, uh, i'd disagree. without elaborating, really, because i don't want to get in an argument.

i really just posted to give a shout-out to quonsar; since they don't have comments on their site.

that's me: ruining it for the rest of us.

posted by fishfucker at 11:32 AM on October 3, 2002


Don't look at me; I posted obscure and interesting stuff (at least I thought it was) and hardly anyone wanted to talk about it.
posted by mcwetboy at 11:33 AM on October 3, 2002


Put me in at #5.


posted by konolia at 11:33 AM on October 3, 2002


<sarcasm>
i was thinking matt should write a script that takes all the links at new.google.com and formats them into posts. this way, as news happens, the links will be here already and the discussions can begin. i mean, after all, there is nothing new and cool on the internet to find and link to. so come matt, help save some energy and write us up this script.
</sarcasm>
posted by chrisroberts at 11:34 AM on October 3, 2002


I agree entirely, almost posted the MeTa, and then decided I would end up sounding like yet another in a long line of MeFi chicken littles. So I wimped out (just a regular chicken). I will "me too" your post though.

But this time it really seems like the sky is falling, I can now be 100% that every news story that is remotely controversial or noteworthy (tho' not particularly remarkable) will be regurgitated on Metafilter. Worse by posters who put zero effort into making there post interesting or finding any relevant other links.

I definitely find myself skimming more lately, I also find myself less willing to spend time researching a post (the Mole Men post I was working on, for example, dead. Sad, right?), because I know how quickly it'll scroll away with and be replaced by the latest dozen news stories.
posted by malphigian at 11:35 AM on October 3, 2002


McWetBoy: You don't judge a post by the number of comments, some of the best posts only get a few, because people check out the links, think its cool, and that's it (you want them to post "Cool!"?). If anything, number of comments is inversely proportional to post quality.
posted by malphigian at 11:37 AM on October 3, 2002


normally 3, recently pushed to 5.

perhaps a small note on the side blog might help?
posted by gravelshoes at 11:41 AM on October 3, 2002


I agree with Dan completely, for what it's worth. The posting page has said this for the past week:

"There have been a rash of links to news stories lately, and if you check out some of the linked MetaTalk discussions, you'll see why they often make for poor posts. "

but I guess that's not enough of a hint.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 11:48 AM on October 3, 2002


#5, although maybe my opinion isn't worth much since I contributed last night with this.

But even if there's a large number of people that agree with this, discussing it seems pointless, because there's nothing we can do about it, except hope to scare away posters of weak links by bashing them. That's the only gun MeFi has, and its a pea-shooter compared to the cornacopia of AP wires on the web. Matt is the only one that can do anything about this, either through some nifty code or more policiing, and I hate pushing work onto him as much as the next guy. I don't see what discussion can accomplish.
posted by gsteff at 11:48 AM on October 3, 2002


I've also noticed that if I spend a little effort on a post, I'll be beaten to the punch, sometimes by just a few minutes, by someone who posted something quick and dirty (an example, with no ill will intended towards the poster).

In a nutshell, there is no incentive to make a finely crafted post: obscure posts don't get comments, and taking the time to post on something well-known simply means that someone else beats you to it.

I think we need a system that identifies good posts by something other than the number of comments. I've been working on a longish post about it for Metatalk for a while that isn't ready yet, but I'll just mention the point here.

On preview: I agree, malphigian, and in fact I've begun to think the same way as you, in that the number of comments is inversely proportional. The point is that, without comments, posters may feel that their work is being ignored or unappreciated, because there isn't any other metric on this site to identify good posts, rather than heavily commented posts. I'm not just (or even) talking about myself; I remember reading a complaint along those lines on the personal blog of a Mefi member whose posts here are fantastical and dreamy. It can be discouraging to put effort into posting around here, whether it's because of a lack of comments or because the good is drowned out by the dross.
posted by mcwetboy at 11:49 AM on October 3, 2002


cornucopia and policing.
posted by gsteff at 11:50 AM on October 3, 2002


I think it all comes down to this: "A good thread values uniqueness over novelty."

Yes, people (lots of people) will comment on news posts because they're easy. It requires little effort to pop off a one-shot "Ooh, dead kids. That's awful." or to regurgitate polarized political/religious viewpoints. The "What's your favorite ____?" threads garner hundreds of responses for exactly this reason.

Putting actual thought into good discussion, however, requires more effort. A lot of people didn't comment on mcwetboy's thread because it would involve reading, processing data, and forming some sort of cogent response. That doesn't make it a bad post; quite the opposite, in fact. Thought-provocation is always beneficial.

This has been complained about before, but the problem still exists. While "interesting" is purely subjective, "obscure" is not. You don't find obscure information on the front page of CNN.com. You find news flashes seen by thousands of people, and posting news flashes is, by definition, a violation of the MetaFilter prime directives. Ignoring the news threads will not make them any less inappropriate here, and ignoring the issue will not make it go away.
posted by Danelope at 11:51 AM on October 3, 2002


I dislike news posts, but more and more people seem to like them. Or that's the only reason I can see for them being here. And sadly, I find myself commenting in them sometimes too. If we can't get rid of them, I wonder if a little tickbox on the posting page would help, so new threads could be optionally marked as news, and members could opt out of having them displayed on the front page? Probably a silly idea.
posted by walrus at 11:53 AM on October 3, 2002


mcwetboy: I enjoyed that post and considered commenting just to applaud you on it. Then I forgot because a million news posts had been made when I came back to the site ;)

As per your last comment, I think it shouldn't matter which post is first--if you post something with some thought in it ten minutes after it's been hastily slapped to the front page, Matt should take the poor one out to the woodshed and beat it with a length of tire iron.
posted by The God Complex at 11:54 AM on October 3, 2002


Only Matt knows for sure, but I'd lay odds that if he ever decides to throw in the towel on this site, it's going to be because of the NewsFilter stuff clogging up the front page. Who has the time to keep stamping this stuff down?

And it's a death spiral because the more that shows up, the more people think it's what MetaFilter is supposed to be about.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 11:56 AM on October 3, 2002


5
posted by y2karl at 11:58 AM on October 3, 2002


Old-timers: In the big picture, do influxes of news posts come and go? Is it the buzz around Iraq causing the latest rash? Will this just pass?
posted by Shane at 12:04 PM on October 3, 2002


I was thinking about this last night. A good MetaFilter post is a *resource*, not a bottom-scrolling news update. I used to learn about new things here. I haven't for a long time.
posted by interrobang at 12:09 PM on October 3, 2002


5, and I'm afraid the only solution is Matt using a heavy hand on the delete button for a while. Yes, you can skip the threads, but as has been pointed out they tend to drown the good stuff. If they start vanishing, maybe people will be less likely to post them. (Yes, I posted a NY Times link, and now I regret it.)

What I hate worst is those abused-kid "How low can people go???" stories. What do the posters expect? Are they really looking forward with happy anticipation to a few dozen "Yes, that's awful!!!" responses, perhaps leavened by a heartless joke and the subsequent reprimands? Do they realize that with a little extra searching, such stories could be posted every hour on the hour? From the Siberian Times: Kid Left in Tundra by Negligent Mom, Freezes in Minutes! Oh, the horror! Where's the next one? Can't get enough!
posted by languagehat at 12:14 PM on October 3, 2002


The idea of banning any front page link with one of the larger news sources' top level domains in it (cnn.com, yahoo.com, nytimes.com and so on) has been floated before and knocked back on the basis that it's pretty inflexible censorship but might it be time to give it a try? Perhaps even on an alternate day basis (banned one day, not the next, banned the next...) just to see what the effect is?
posted by MUD at 12:20 PM on October 3, 2002


Here's the trick, MUD -- some pages from news sources are worth posting. Granted, wire services pages and straight news sources (CNN, Yahoo, Reuters) are one thing, but there are some features in the New York Times (or the Globe and Mail, which I post a lot of, actually) that might make good posts, and straight news sources might make good secondary or tertiary links. The problem is not so much where the post is coming from, but its content: a New York Times Magazine feature shouldn't be compared to the latest, farkiest news item about terrorists or child abusers, or a partisan op/ed about the politician you don't like, regardless of where it comes from.

Bottom line, there are enough news sources covering the same stories that banning CNN or Yahoo or whatever won't work: Metafilter posters will interpret it as damage and route around it.
posted by mcwetboy at 12:28 PM on October 3, 2002


The news people are slowly but surely taking over the site and I don't believe increasingly visible guidelines or news-site blocking is going to make any difference.

Matt, I think you have decide whether your vision of a self-policing community is more important than your standards for links.
posted by timeistight at 12:33 PM on October 3, 2002


#6.
posted by crunchland at 12:37 PM on October 3, 2002


I can't believe Matt can't find 3-5 MeFi users whom he trusts to play whack-a-mole in his absence. That would solve it, seems to me.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 12:38 PM on October 3, 2002


Folks, if we are a self-policing community we need to do something.

any thoughts?
posted by konolia at 12:39 PM on October 3, 2002


i think the whole crux of the news post problem is that people have been using metafilter as their news source for a long time. a common argument that i've heard re: no yahoo posts is well i don't read yahoo! i'd never know about these things if it weren't for metafilter!

stop using metafilter as your primary news source. ok? i don't know precisely what it was originally intended for, or how it's been used in the time before i got here. i don't care that it's been used for this sort of thing while i've been around. i don't like that it gets used for that, and i'd rather it stop. some news stories really are unique and novel, and i think it's ok to post those, but most aren't. deal.
posted by moz at 12:40 PM on October 3, 2002


Old-timers: In the big picture, do influxes of news posts come and go? Is it the buzz around Iraq causing the latest rash? Will this just pass?


i'm not particularly an old-timer, but my guess is this:

after sept. 11th, news links started to proliferate (because most people really wanted news at that time).

a lot of people joined right around sept 11th, or because of it.

it's quite possible many people took news links, thus, to be the norm of the links distributed on the mefi front page.

these people posted news links, more people joined, news links grew exponentially.

of course, one would think the membership shutdown would have curtailed this sort of propogation, so maybe i'm just typing out of my ass (which, you have to admit, would be, as they so often would say in old Infocom games, or at least Wishbringer, "a neat trick!").

also: i think if everyone strove to include at least one link in every comment, well, it'd be a PARTY. and we all love to party, or so i've been told.

posted by fishfucker at 12:40 PM on October 3, 2002


Along the lines of what mcwetboy said in his first comment: why bother posting well-constructed, interesting links that garner 3 or 4 comments, when you can just regurgitate a couple of links to current events, then stand back and watch the thread grow to brobdingnagian proportions?

If people want to see good, original stuff here, then support it, even if it's just to pop in and write a short note of thanks to the person who posted it.
posted by MrBaliHai at 12:42 PM on October 3, 2002


How about this: someone who looooooves the news shit can set up their own damn site, a la sportsfilter. They can all go there instead. OR, if Matt wants to take on (probably) the exact same amount of traffic, could he set up news.metafilter.com? I'd stay away from it.
posted by interrobang at 12:45 PM on October 3, 2002


That still doesn't fix the NewsFilter problem.
posted by gsteff at 12:47 PM on October 3, 2002


Meanwhile, we've lost another one. The best lack all conviction . . .
posted by mcwetboy at 12:47 PM on October 3, 2002


why bother posting well-constructed, interesting links that garner 3 or 4 comments,

a good post should be its own reward. if you need accolades from your fellow man, uh, start a rock band -- one that rocks, preferably.

i used to try to post [this is good] when i saw a post i liked, but when you've already got 5 or 6 people doing that above you, well, it seems a bit of a waste. if you've made a good post, you probably know it, and you should know that a lot of us, me included, are humming a little salute to you in our heads.
posted by fishfucker at 12:48 PM on October 3, 2002


That still doesn't fix the NewsFilter problem.

It might if "ATTENTION EVERYONE: NEWS ITEMS ARE NO LONGER WELCOME HERE. TAKE IT TO NEWS.METAFILTER.COM IF YOU REALLY MUST POST IT" were written in huge letters at the top of the front page.
posted by interrobang at 12:53 PM on October 3, 2002


Two possible solutions:

1. Filter the posts. Either all posts are reviewed before they end up on the front page, or Matt appoints deputies for the times he's not watching the site (in different time zones, for example -- I think that a lot of the crap that stays up is because it was posted while Matt was asleep, and there were too many posts by the time he woke up) to play whack-a-mole, as stupidsexyFlanders suggests. And play whack-a-mole aggressively -- maybe our goal should be 10-12 posts per day.

2. Add a button or link, right beside trackback, that allows people to vote on the post as a good one (without having to say so in the comments). Prevent them from voting more than once (and you can't vote if you're not signed in) -- make it part of the database rather than part of the cookies. Then allow people to sort posts by the number of good-post votes each post receives, within each day. A crude Metafilterfilter that also gives people who post the good shit, mon, some feedback.

Either way, it's more work for you-know-who.
posted by mcwetboy at 12:54 PM on October 3, 2002


mcwetboy: for what it's worth, I thought your thread was great, but didn't want to post a "cool, thanks" comment, and I was busy at work, so couldn't comment in detail.

Although I am guilty of commenting in some of these news threads, I agree with all this. I like this site because of the neat-o stuff that gets posted. I read the news anyway, so I don't need to see it here.

Maybe the "Look at the links that carry 10 or 20 comments to see what everyone is talking about." statement should be removed from the guidelines--it seems to imply that heated discussion makes for a good post.
posted by Fabulon7 at 12:55 PM on October 3, 2002


a good post should be its own reward

In a perfect world, sure. And I would hope that people are more interested in generating a good discussion than getting praised, but in my experience a little encouragement is a good thing and gets some people who otherwise wouldn't, to make a repeat effort.
posted by MrBaliHai at 12:58 PM on October 3, 2002


I joined metafilter in the days following September 11th when plastic.com was down. I found this place less shrill, more tolerant, with far better links.

I wasn't looking for news. I was looking for community, even if I didn't have much to say to everyone else. Sometimes it's nice to listen.

But this site moves in cycles: something happens (Sept. 11, or new member signups open up) and we get an influx of chatty newbies who are eager to use their posting privileges. They probably need some time to break in, is all.

I'm with Dan: 17+ news posts before noon is awful. Yes, today is a bad day. But we've had good days since the new members came. A little patience, a little policing, and everything will work out.

And an admonition to all you newbies: just because you *can* post doesn't mean you *should.* I've been a member for more than a year, and I have yet to put a link up. When I find the right one, I'll post it. But I haven't found it yet. As I said above, sometimes it's nice to listen.
posted by rocketman at 12:59 PM on October 3, 2002


Hmm... seldom do I think this is appropriate, but just in case Matt's counting: me, too, at #5, with a bullet.

I lamented the change in direction following September 11, 2001; I've been increasingly uncomfortable with not only the NewsFilter-y-ness of it all, but the distinctly different tone the threads have taken on since then (blatant generalization: NewsFites are far more likely to start flaming faster and with more vitriol than your old school MeFites who're here for the unusual and interesting links to web content).
posted by JollyWanker at 1:01 PM on October 3, 2002


Perhaps derailing "little effort" newslink posts with constructive criticism will help people learn not to post them. It will at least point out to all who get sucked in, that the posts aren't welcome and that they should be better, if not possible, then they shouldn't be posted. I know it isn't good to derail threads, but it would be a form of self policing, and would be better than complaining about them in MeTa or just watching them pile up and continue to assert their position amongst the norm. At any rate, thinking of creative ways to derail uncreative threads would introduce a bit of sport into MeFi.
posted by Mushkelley at 1:16 PM on October 3, 2002


#5 all the way.
Something needs to be done about this. I agree with languagehat - delete, delete, delete these horrid posts. Maybe there are just too many posts in general, but I don't want to see a bunch of news links from major sites clogging up the front page. Maybe there should be a limit on the number of posts per day or hour?
I don't know, I'm just a vocal moron.
posted by ac at 1:23 PM on October 3, 2002


thinking of creative ways to derail uncreative threads would introduce a bit of sport into MeFi.

Hmm... maybe try to see who can connect each post to existentialism fastest without nonsequiteurs?
posted by gsteff at 1:23 PM on October 3, 2002


Perhaps derailing "little effort" newslink posts with constructive criticism ...

In my experience, constructive criticism is either ignored or treated as a personal affront. Sometimes vitriol and abuse are the only things people pay attention to. But I have a problem with the notion that we'll derail threads that aren't up to snuff: our powers will not always be used for good, and the same tactic could -- and certainly would -- be used to derail posters on the opposite side of a debate, for example.

Whatever solution we come up with, let's be civil and genteel about it, rather than engineer in ugliness as a function necessary to the running of the site.
posted by mcwetboy at 1:24 PM on October 3, 2002


Or we could surrender to what the apparent majority of users want and start a "newsfilter" tab of the site. I like things nice and segregated. Some days I want odd links, other days I like news I wouldn't normally read. Yes I know its not what metafilter was for originally but some may argue the site has to evolve or already has and older members just want things to stay the same. Perhaps metafilter really can't scale with this many users. I thought it would be nice to have a metafilter like news site but don't know of any that have a similar format and design to metafilter. Just some thoughts.
posted by madmanz123 at 1:25 PM on October 3, 2002


Either way, it's more work for you-know-who.

I don't think Mr. Haughey shies away from adding code that, in the long run, would make MetaFilter a better site and/or easier for him to maintain. I believe the primary reason that he isn't more agressive in moderation is because he receives an inordinate amount of shit whenever he does.

People are constantly demanding to know why their perfectly good vibrating broom post was deleted. They attempt to argue the merits of every decision he makes, they try pointing out his hypocrisies, and generally start a shitstorm. If you were faced with that barrage of harassment every time you attempted to improve the quality of your site, how often would you make that attempt?

Part of this problem is that the concept of "community" fosters an environment in which some people believe they own the site. They believe that mob rule supercedes the wishes of the person footing the bill and breaking his back to hold it together. They fail to realize that it's his site and he has every right to moderate it however he deems fit. It doesn't matter if people want to post news links; this isn't a current events discussion board. Matt doesn't want it to be a current events discussion board. There's no room for argument.

This is why I've urged him, both today and in the past, to ignore the petty whining of a few and use his power to beat the site back into the shape he desires. It's Matt's creation, and if you don't like the way Matt runs it, leave. There are 20 more people ready to take your place every day.
posted by Danelope at 1:26 PM on October 3, 2002


I'm with moz

and fishfucker is right, 9-11 changed (for the worse, some us think) MeFi

posted by matteo at 1:30 PM on October 3, 2002


Maybe it's just the rush of newness wearing off, but I've already sadly noted a slide downhill during my brief tenure (having posted some dumb stuff myself already.)

It seems to me that the self-policing angle is the whole point - shaming into submission or out-waiting the trigger-posters or whatever. More work for Matt (24/7 whackamole?) should be an absolute last resort.

I've promised myself to put much thought into future posts, and no single-linkers unless it's a really really cool one (it seldom is). And a one-hour cooling off period before posting. And some chocolate.
posted by gottabefunky at 1:30 PM on October 3, 2002


While the newsfilter tab idea appeals to me somewhat, I worry that it would be be a breeding ground for everything people are complaining about. It would become a political Fark, an Australia to MetaFilter's British Empire.
posted by gsteff at 1:30 PM on October 3, 2002


Nooo! You bastards, you killed evanizer! Damn you! Damn you all to hell! Sure hope he comes back...

As for encouragement, MrBaliHai is right -- it encourages people. Do it. (Even if it makes you feel a little uncool.)
posted by languagehat at 1:35 PM on October 3, 2002


When it really hit me that things had changed was some Metatalk thread where Matt made a comment about this place having been a forum for design and web designers (pre 9/11). Oh, yeah! I remember that . . . I was a long time lurker and came to peruse the links and occasionally read the discussion because there might be even cooler links and discussion inside.

The problem is that Metafilter has become a victim of it's own success. Matt has crafted a distinctive, efficient website that has garnered plenty of publicity and has made it's mark on the WWW. The human ego likes to be fed and the "popularity" of the news links creates a desire on the individual to post something that will get traffic.

Hmmm, it's kinda like personal websites on smaller scale. MetaWeb?
posted by jeremias at 1:50 PM on October 3, 2002


Don't Panic.
posted by rushmc at 1:51 PM on October 3, 2002


gsteff:

While the newsfilter tab idea appeals to me somewhat, I worry that it would be be a breeding ground for everything people are complaining about. It would become a political Fark, an Australia to MetaFilter's British Empire.

at this point, i don't even care if there was a newsfilter. i think there probably is a bias in me toward found things on the web. not that i don't like reading news. just not to the extent that it gets posted on here. on one hand, i think all of the news posts being made are a problem; on the other hand, i feel sorta weird in being so vocal about it. i feel like i'm lobbying. i really am, i guess. the reason that makes me feel weird is that my idea is not clearly The Right Thing for everyone, because not everyone has the same concept of what metafilter should be. but it seems like there may ultimately be a distinction: "metafilter is X and is not Y." and that distinction will no doubt be brought on by increasing population density. (that's the other half of the main problem that i think mefi is currently suffering from.)

re: evanizer

the people who have left recently (or otherwise) mostly strike me as vocal members. evanizer participated a bunch. iconomy had that mefi poll for a while, and certainly participated a lot. holgate was all over the place. sdb was active. isn't it true that the candle which burns twice as bright lasts half as long?
posted by moz at 2:02 PM on October 3, 2002


Put me down with #5, though I am a little late. MonsterFilter has been excessively boring lately.
posted by adampsyche at 2:03 PM on October 3, 2002


I used to be NewsFilter agnostic... just did what the news-fans said to do: skipped those threads, moved along. But it's eating the site. It's been eating the site for the past year. Now it's all news, six days a week - with "Flash Fridays" to show that "hey, it isn't just arguing about current affairs; we can have fun here too, y'know!"

This thread has some fascinating implications. It's as if NewsFilter doesn't even need actual news to trigger off a flame-war any more... just the illusion of news (many commenters, like the poster, at first being tricked by the almost-exactly-a-year-old date of the story). So many have got comfortable with spilling out their entrenched opinions at the first hint of a relevant news story (relevant because it's 'news', of course) that the place has turned into the worst kind of Fleet Street bar, stuffed to the gills with rent-a-columnists.

Metafilter is NewsFilter now. Any attempt to reverse it would be a rearguard action that would alienate those who love it because it's NewsFilter. And in all likelihood that's the majority of active members at this point.

I guess it might be possible to drive away an entire population of new(s) immigrants, but it sure could get ugly. In trying to save the 'Filter, you might end up torching the whole place.
posted by rory at 2:05 PM on October 3, 2002


A good MetaFilter post is a *resource*

Interrobang, you pinned it down. Look through the archives and you'll find that the interesting links are still going and still relevant.

Good MetaFilter posts are resources; they're web-centred; meaning they're not just web versions of something that already exists in print. Ergo, fly-by-night news links, lifted from a news source, that are only interesting for a day or two (to those who haven't seen them already) are decidedly second-rate.

A good MetaFilter post is - dare I say it? - something so lasting it can even be double-posted a year after and still be welcomed by those who haven't seen it.

An excellent MetaFilter post is something never printed and, ideally, never posted in any other link-collecting weblog.

Hey, it's not that difficult if you have the secret weapon.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 2:10 PM on October 3, 2002


Old-timers: In the big picture, do influxes of news posts come and go? Is it the buzz around Iraq causing the latest rash? Will this just pass?

They do come in waves, but the frequency has definitely increased over time. The first massive influx of news I remember was the summer of 2000 (aka "Nader Nader Nader"), and then while the results of the election were still outstanding it was freaky nut bar newsfilter for a while.

It won't just pass though. News posts will become less prominent, certainly, but MeFi's becomming more and more a current events site.

Although I'd jump for joy to see newsposts programmatically banned, I became a number 3 long ago to retain my sanity. It really is easy to skim and pick out the good stuff.

moz, re ev et al: It's very likely he'll be back, though I wouldn't be at all suprised to see him take a significantly less active role. You can only repeat yourself so many times before it gets old.
posted by cCranium at 2:14 PM on October 3, 2002


Sure hope he comes back...

???
Y?
posted by Shane at 2:15 PM on October 3, 2002


Double newsfilter posts are up too, I think -- two posts on the same day, but separated by dozens of other posts! Jaysis.
posted by mcwetboy at 2:27 PM on October 3, 2002


ha! i don't even read the posts anymore. just the comments.
posted by jcterminal at 2:35 PM on October 3, 2002


Triple even, that Iraq duel one (matt axed one), and double on the blue senator ... the newsfilter people aren't even reading each other's news posts.
posted by malphigian at 2:37 PM on October 3, 2002


"The newsfilter people" are an amorphous blob -- I guess there are so many of them that there's no point naming names -- that clearly don't read Metatalk, or at least they're not tracking this thread.
posted by mcwetboy at 2:41 PM on October 3, 2002


Metafilter is NewsFilter now. Any attempt to reverse it would be a rearguard action that would alienate those who love it because it's NewsFilter. And in all likelihood that's the majority of active members at this point.

I guess it might be possible to drive away an entire population of new(s) immigrants, but it sure could get ugly. In trying to save the 'Filter, you might end up torching the whole place.


If that's true, maybe the answer is to leave metafilter to the newsies and start something else (like owllis et al did with SportsFilter).
posted by timeistight at 2:58 PM on October 3, 2002


the newsfilter people aren't even reading each other's news posts.

"The newsfilter people" are an amorphous blob -- I guess there are so many of them that there's no point naming names -- that clearly don't read Metatalk, or at least they're not tracking this thread.

If that's true, maybe the answer is to leave metafilter to the newsies and start something else (like owllis et al did with SportsFilter).


Indeed. This is beginning to feel like (since Rome seems to be vogue these days) the Senators, disgusted with Caesar's shameless populism, getting together to plot his assassination. As I said above, discussion is pointless, only Matt can fix this. Follow Danelope's example and email him.
posted by gsteff at 3:02 PM on October 3, 2002


how about just addding a category to the FPP's and allow users to pick which categories they see in their preferences. (eg: News, Lego, TotalFark, etc)
posted by blue_beetle at 3:04 PM on October 3, 2002


For most people, there isn't any reason to go to metatalk normally. Even if you've been a longtime reader. Who the hell has that much time except the meta obsessed besides ourselves. Start newsfilter to drain off the crap the hardcores don't want, let what comes up come up there, don't filter it excessivally (only when things get way out of hand). The people who most people don't want posting will most likely moved to that much less moderated feed. Your happy, they are happy.

Look how newstoday.com does it. They have the official line, a public free for all, and a bulletin board.

Alternativally allow 2-3 simple categories for posts.

News
Cool Site
whatever else

and allow our prefs to select what we see.


posted by madmanz123 at 3:05 PM on October 3, 2002


Before everyone talks about "the good 'ol days". If you head back to MeFi 2 years ago on this day, over 10 links to major news sources out of 17 total posts for the day.

Have things really changed that much?

I think the growth of MeFi results in #2. Someone pointing out that everyone has a different definition of "obscure" and "interesting".

It's extremely hard to police a site with over 16k users; I don't envy Matt at all. The site has a life of its own at this point. Unless Matt can appoint 'filterers' to help out, it's just going to get more crowded.



posted by mad at 3:05 PM on October 3, 2002


Does it freak anyone else out that the population of Metafilter is the size of a small city?
posted by jeremias at 3:09 PM on October 3, 2002


Look at it three years ago. One cool link (that still works) and no comments at all.
posted by timeistight at 3:11 PM on October 3, 2002


I'm not only bothered by NewsFilter posts, but I feel that the level of political argument in the threads has become partisan, ideological, and worst of all, stupefyingly boring.

But I'm still enough of a newbie to hope that we can fix it. I've been ignoring the NewsFilter posts, but I feel like maybe there are a lot of people like me who want a different MetaFilter but aren't saying anything. Would it work if we started calling out NewsFilter posts to this thread?
posted by fuzz at 3:34 PM on October 3, 2002


evanizer left? did he leave a meficide note?
posted by quonsar at 3:46 PM on October 3, 2002


Here.
posted by timeistight at 3:56 PM on October 3, 2002


These damn newbies. Like me. All going and ruining mefi. Seriously though, I think calling the newsies out to this thread would be a good idea. Too bad evanizer's gone. ;(
posted by ac at 4:31 PM on October 3, 2002


No comments on the wallpaper three years ago? I have a solution for the decline in link quality. Let's just use the page from three years ago and add new comments. In fact, if Matt will start letting us post to old threads we can form splinter groups that all live 1,2, or 3 years in the past based on where you place the golden age.

Seriously, though, I don't know if people will tease me for this, but I sort of thought the closest thing to the metafilter front page should be memepool. Not updated excessively and generally interesting and intelligent links with some stupid mixed in for fun. Of course, I don't read memepool any more and I only post here in threads about racism, but I'm not a good person.

posted by Wood at 4:42 PM on October 3, 2002


Does it freak anyone else out that the population of Metafilter is the size of a small city?

Ah, but most of the population is dead. Back when there were a mere 12,500 members there were maybe 3,000 people logging in a month. Scale that up and assume that more people are sticking around than leaving - there's probably a population of 5,000 or so. It's still quite a crowd to make yourself heard over.
posted by MUD at 4:42 PM on October 3, 2002


I think too many members judge a post based on the amount of comments and discussion it creates. I still think a week of comment free metafilter might help people reevaluate what makes a good post.
posted by jonah at 4:43 PM on October 3, 2002


It's a mistake to count comments, yes, but it can be disheartening to spend eons on a post, only to have hardly anyone comment on it. Combine that with the 100+ comments that the comment pimps go whoring for by asking provocative questions (hey, what is your favorite blah blah blah) and I can see why people get discouraged and stop surfing for fabulous sites, and instead start looking for pablum to post. We all like getting some feedback for our posts, so let's give a pat on the back once in a while when someone posts something we like. I'm going to. Even if it's just a "hey, cool - thanks for that link".

So, lead by example. Stop posting news stories, and more importantly, stop commenting in the threads. Boycott 'em. Post links to great undiscovered websites, and when others do, comment in the thread. Post links to sites that enthrall you and engage you and inspire you and intrigue you. Be a vacapinta.

Any one of us can visit CNN or The Times and find all of these news stories that people keep littering the front page with. They're no-brainers. MetaFilter is better than that.
posted by iconomy at 4:47 PM on October 3, 2002


where is vacapinta? I love her(?) posts--
and madamejujuwhatever's ; >
posted by amberglow at 4:52 PM on October 3, 2002


What about adding a "this link has been clicked 6 times" stat under the post. I realize that it would probably only capture the first, main link. This might feed people's need for validation.
posted by jonah at 4:52 PM on October 3, 2002


Here's a crazy idea--not everybody reads metatalk, why, I don't know, so many of the suggestions that are made here don't get translated to everybody. Perhaps a MetaTalk thread such as this one should get plastered on the blue side with a big READ THIS THREAD sign, that way there will be more chance that it can be seen. I realize that is what the side bar is for, but the sidebar is often unread.

Just a thought.
posted by ashbury at 4:53 PM on October 3, 2002


Well, evanizer is wise enough to see this as a (singular) site, amongst a myriad of sites.

Hell, even Plastic & Kuro5hin have been somewhat attractive of late: though the links are almost all the same, and I hate the navigation, and the geeks are geekier and the flames are flamier... and they are heavily news-y, too. [Thing is, they are categorised: I can choose to read a type of post or not. Hmm....] News can be stimulating for those with the bent to take it as a jump-off for thought: however there are some notable commenters who post simply to hear their own voice, and, perversely, that of their poitical enemies. Original thinking needs to be more appreciated.

At this level of users, I would say: environmental pressures are making the pace, and you can't deny evolution. Well, alright , you can, but do you wanna see all the big beasts moving to pastures green? I've made my share of comments in news-y threads, but consider carefully ALL my contributions. From now on, my contributions to news-y posts will be shorter, not intended to foment debate (if ever I was guilty of that), and definitely not one-on-one

I would delete more flame-baiting, and put everyone on notice: 3 strikes and your out, for simply not following the guidelines (whether too much news posted by a user, or personal attacks, self-links, whatever). I'm tired of too much of the same. Embrace the change, but lets grow organically.

Plus - what iconomy said.
posted by dash_slot- at 4:57 PM on October 3, 2002


ashbury, Matt placed the following on the posting page a week ago, to little apparent effect:
While I work on revamping the guidelines, you'll want to check out some previous discussions on what makes a good post to MetaFilter. There have been a rash of links to news stories lately, and if you check out some of the linked MetaTalk discussions, you'll see why they often make for poor posts.
Maybe we should start putting it in the offending threads.
posted by timeistight at 5:00 PM on October 3, 2002


Any one of us can visit CNN or The Times and find all of these news stories that people keep littering the front page with.

Agreed, whenever I see someone whine that Metafilter is their only news source and say "But I don't read Yahoo! News or CNN.com" I have to resist the incredible urge to sneer Well maybe you should start reading them.

Spawning a newsfilter site won't fix anything in my opinion, there are already 1000s of other sites devoted to current event discussion. The reason people do it here I presume is because they're comfortable with the community instead of that of FreeRepublic or something. I personally don't mind news posts that could generate unique perspectives (Such as a Hurricane post that generates differing views of how they're affected), it's the political news posts that piss in my tea.

Leading by example however I feel is a difficult signal to noise battle, I've read the same suggestions since people began complaining about the Newsfilter phenomenon. I say it's time for a absolute frowning upon for newsfilter posts (i.e. the same frowns you get when you post something Fark-ish).
posted by Stan Chin at 5:02 PM on October 3, 2002


I've been here for quite a while, and news posts have always been around. The only problem is the sheer quantity of them nowadays. I can't keep up. Most of the time, I just ignore 4/5ths of the site. So while I am scrolling past Iraq/Rumsfeld/Child Beating/(insert other news)/DeathFilter, I often miss the truly interesting links.

The community is continuing to expand, what to do about it? Well, unless a moderator system of some kind is installed this place will turn into zfilter or linkfilter, with so many links posted, they just scroll by. There have been previous discussions about introducing moderation into mefi, to include: threading comments, rating threads, etc.

But that's mathowie's call, what can I do? The obvious is as others have suggested. Post only links that I feel make the cut. Choose my comments carefully. I like MetaFilter, probably a lot more I should, so I am hoping it works out.
posted by patrickje at 5:18 PM on October 3, 2002


So, lead by example.

Amen.

No disrespect to those who have left, as some of them are freinds who I still associate with off-site, but I've had a lot of fun here and learned an awful lot. Now, there are times when I wanna shoot my monitor, but I don't wanna give up that easy. So I've done a few things:

1. Greatly reduced my posting and commenting schedule. Nobody needs to hear my opinion on everything. And if you don't know much about a topic sometimes it's great to just sit back and learn.

2. Laid off the news stuff. Yes, sometimes it's great to hear the mefi-pundits hash out an issue, but I don't think that's we come for generally speaking. Better to wait to you find a link or subject that stimulates you and introduce it to others. Someone here will be into it, trust me

3.Stopped taking myself so seriously. Opinions are like assholes, we've all got one and they all smell lousy. When you realize that your notion on a subject is not gospel you can loosen up and enjoy and avoid making enemies.

But that's just me. YMMV.
posted by jonmc at 5:50 PM on October 3, 2002


I blame the anti-Mefi
It sucked away all the funny posters...
(",)
posted by dash_slot- at 6:05 PM on October 3, 2002


come join us, senor slot...theres always room for another chimp...
posted by jonmc at 6:06 PM on October 3, 2002


" Nobody needs to hear my opinion on everything."

Come on, Jon, nobody needs to hear your opinion on anything. We just tolerate you 'cause you're hip to that new music all the kids love and you're a snappy dresser.

Word.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 6:13 PM on October 3, 2002


you don't need another earnest anarchosocialistislibertarian, do you, mr macnally?

~blink~

Besides, what alot of folks say about NYC applies here: A great place to visit, but...
posted by dash_slot- at 6:19 PM on October 3, 2002


Rule One is....

oh, never mind.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:21 PM on October 3, 2002


Whine all you want about news stories, but MeFi's basic functionality of "Post a Link and Discuss It" has produced a community of news hounds that far outnumbers the purists.

Matt can post all the guidelines and pointers to "good" posts but without some mechanism in place to enforce his desires 24/7, MeFi will continue its evolution as a news discussion site.

I really loved that suggestion above of a news tab that drains the news stories into a different area so the "good" posts would predominate. What a laugh! What you need is a "good" post tab that drains off the "good" posts for you vastly outnumbered purists.


posted by mischief at 6:23 PM on October 3, 2002


do you, mr macnally?

That's McNally. I'm bloody Irish(well half) not Scottish, faith an' begorrah. and you can never have too many earnest anarchosocialistislibertarians, dagnabbit.
posted by jonmc at 6:38 PM on October 3, 2002


half irish/half english here.
so I'll be punching myself now.
posted by clavdivs at 6:42 PM on October 3, 2002


owwww
posted by clavdivs at 6:43 PM on October 3, 2002


well clav, my non-Irish half is Italian, so I'll be engaging in gang warfare with myself shortly...
posted by jonmc at 6:47 PM on October 3, 2002


So, since this thread started, as of the time I write this, it looks like there have been 11 threads posted to the front page. 8 news, 3 not. (A couple are in the grey "not normal news" zone, maybe, but still...)
I used to think that it was easy to ignore threads you didn't want to read. But in addition to there being sooooooo many that it's hard to keep track of what you do want to read, I've noticed that part of the problem is that the controversy threads tend to suck the discussion away from the thoughtful threads...
Did this make any sense? I am tired.
posted by Fabulon7 at 6:54 PM on October 3, 2002


A positive example of a 'good' FPP? This is why the anti-newsies are losing.

posted by mischief at 6:55 PM on October 3, 2002


Well, as an Irishman born in oxford, england, i actually blew myself up in 1991, on my way to sign the Good Friday Agreement. But it was ok, as i quickly interned myself without charge, and formed a royal commission to whitewash the whole affair. Gerry Adams denies he was in the area that day, whilst David Trimble has called for the arrest of anyone who knows me.

The papers still haven't printed the truth...
posted by dash_slot- at 7:14 PM on October 3, 2002


Negative examples of a 'news' FPP. (Had about 10 more from today but ran out of words) Of course, this is all according to my tastes of what my oasis of Mefi is.

I don't think anybody doubts a newslink can be interesting and superb Mefi material, but lack of skill or weak supporting links plague many newslinks. It's more and more a water cooler "Hey did you hear what happened" type of link.

Some newslinks I believe stand by themselves, such as many NYTimes stories. Most are thoroughly researched and examples of exceptional journalism.

Perhaps we need to take more care in selecting what news links to post, and how to craft those posts up to Metafilter standards. The guidelines seem to sneak by on many news posts. Modification to the guidelines to specifically address news links is my suggestion for compromise.


posted by Stan Chin at 7:24 PM on October 3, 2002


Yestarday after I fell victim to the mother teresa thread, I began to think about how much metafilter has changed. And I wasnt contributing to something I used to admire and respect, I was making it worse.

I haven't been a member long at all but I have been a long time lurker. I think metafilter was almost perfected when it was a closed community. I thought it was the best thing the internet had to offer and I still haven't found anything better.

After I became a member I didn't have much of a chance to come here for about a month. I thought of something that I wanted to post and put it up without looking at the site. The post was pretty bad.

An excellent MetaFilter post is something never printed and, ideally, never posted in any other link-collecting weblog.

It fit that but not this :A good MetaFilter post is a *resource*

I thought it would sort of get the about the same acceptance as a post i remebered from while back, ghetto airlines.

I became overly defensive about it in the thread and became discouraged.

Almost every thread I participated in after that I felt like I had to be constantly defensive.

Discussion has turned into debate. The kind where no one wins.

I havent even been here for two weeks and the fun in commenting and posting is gone. I can only imagine what it is like for some of the people who where here when the community was at its best.

People who care about the project can get it back to something good. Eliminating the excessive news posts will help a lot. I think it would help if new members, such as myself, would have a type of preview/review. Even if it took more than a day or week before a post would show up on the front page. If a post is good it shouldnt lose its appeal within 2 days, like most news stories.

Looking over the front page now, I think no front page post with the name O'Rielly mentioned can produce anything of value.

I dont want to get on and see "Another child-bakes-in-car story," I might have opinions I can add to the thread but thats not what I come here for.












posted by Recockulous at 7:36 PM on October 3, 2002


where is vacapinta? I love her(?) posts-

Vacapinta announced a Mefi vacation a while back on some Metatalk thread, but check it out: he's making posts on his user page.

I am very happy right now.

Damn, recockulous, them there's paragraph breaks.
posted by furiousthought at 7:45 PM on October 3, 2002


he's making posts on his user page.

Holy shit. Nevermind, I'll just read that instead of mefi from now on.

See how pretty it all is without 5 news stories interjecting each post?
posted by Stan Chin at 7:49 PM on October 3, 2002


As in, pretty boring...

posted by mischief at 7:52 PM on October 3, 2002


Perhaps we need to take more care in selecting what news links to post...

Others have said this in different words, but I think it bears repeating: the issue isn't one of what "we" need to do. We, the reading audience of MeTa, probably don't count for more than a tiny fraction of the news-posting folks -- if every poster who started such a thread actually read MeTa, there'd be a great deal more traffic in this thread than there is.

Discussing your dissatisfaction with the state of MeFi in a MeTa thread is not enough to convice, or even affect, the bulk of MeFi posters, barring a situation where that discussion prompts sweeping action by matthowie. This is neither good nor bad -- it's just true.

I have a certain twisted desire to see vigilant, complaining callouts -- with links to the guidelines, this thread, and anything else pertinent to the issue -- against news threads, early on, by angry "Purists." I recognize the inflammatory nature of such a move, I realize it's a combative thing to do, but I so thoroughly dislike the current wide-spread and reckless news-posting that my reservations are infirm.

Put another way, their are green newbies, and some not-so-new folks, who either don't know or don't care about anti-Newsfilter sentiment. These twits will not be affected by this discussion, because most of them will never know it exists. Only actions taken in response to this thread -- by matthowie or by others -- will have any effect on the situation.
posted by cortex at 7:55 PM on October 3, 2002


sorry about that, furious
think of it as representing things better left not said
posted by Recockulous at 7:59 PM on October 3, 2002


First of all, I've been guilty of stupid news posts. I'm sorry. Really, really sorry.

But sorry won't fix this.
Little notes on the sidebar won't get people's attention.
Lots of people don't read MetaTalk.

Matt, just turn off all posting for one day. Have nothing but a simple note in place of the usual posts on the front page.

* tell people bluntly that any future news posts stand a very good chance of being deleted with no personalized explanations forthcoming
* put up a big honking link to the guidelines
* add a big honking link to this thread (maybe)
* add a big honking link to a selection of cool posts from MeFis' history -- and make the obvious note that some will have lots of great discussion, some will have less, but they all link to truly wonderful stuff, not cyber fishwrap.

Once a year, we're asked to post only about AIDS here. It should be no skin off anyone's teeth to have *all* posting privileges taken away for another day so we can start to rescue MeFi.

posted by maudlin at 8:10 PM on October 3, 2002


Rushmc, your suggestion that we not panic seems to have been entirely ignored.
posted by gsteff at 8:16 PM on October 3, 2002


Well this is all very depressing, but thank you for the joke Clavdivus; it made me laugh as hard as anything on the joke page.


posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 8:17 PM on October 3, 2002


What Metafile needs is a Metamorphosis.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 8:18 PM on October 3, 2002


maudlin: Not even your idea will work.

So long as Matt is not here 24/7, news posts will go up and they will be discussed until Matt deletes them.

Once deleted, someone else will come along, notice that the particular news story is not posted, and he or she will then repost it, and the discussion will begin again until Matt deletes it.

Repeat the previous paragraph a number of times.


posted by mischief at 8:32 PM on October 3, 2002


Discussing your dissatisfaction with the state of MeFi in a MeTa thread is not enough to convice, or even affect, the bulk of MeFi posters, barring a situation where that discussion prompts sweeping action by matthowie. This is neither good nor bad -- it's just true.

Now that's a depressing comment.

If that is true, cortex, then the experiment has failed, and Matt may as well just shut the site down.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:52 PM on October 3, 2002


It astounds me that you can continue to beat your imminent-doom drum, mischief, when nearly everyone participating in this thread except you has expressed an interest in curbing what is clearly an ongoing and detrimental trend on MetaFilter. This, of course, includes the owner of the site, whose opinion is ultimately the only one that matters.

I could write a PHP script in ~5 minutes that would prevent users from posting a link to any major news source unless they provided at least one other supporting link. If you want this shit hardcoded, it certainly can be, but it seems Matt has been willing to give members the benefit of the doubt until now.
posted by Danelope at 8:52 PM on October 3, 2002


So while I am scrolling past Iraq/Rumsfeld/Child Beating/(insert other news)/DeathFilter, I often miss the truly interesting links

This is the crux of the whole problem for me - Those who spend time researching good quality links see them swept away in a tide of crap and no-one notices they even existed. Several times recently, I have come across good threads that are a week or more old and wonder how I could have missed it. The answer is that MetaFilter is not filtering enough - the gaps are too big and too much crap fits through. Time for a new filter element, perhaps?
posted by dg at 9:15 PM on October 3, 2002


Immenent doom? No such thing! I see this evolution as a positive, not a negative.

Of course, it can be hardcoded in less time than anyone puts into drafting an FPP. So why hasn't Matt done that? Cuz apparently the issue doesn't bother him enough to perform the action.

Even if 10 times the people who actually express their negative opinion about news links represents the true number of MeFites sharing that sentiment, they are still far fewer than 3% of the entire 16K+ community.

Face it, you all are vastly outnumbered.



posted by mischief at 9:19 PM on October 3, 2002


mischief:

Even if 10 times the people who actually express their negative opinion about news links represents the true number of MeFites sharing that sentiment, they are still far fewer than 3% of the entire 16K+ community.

Face it, you all are vastly outnumbered.


we're vastly outnumbered by non-active members, you meant to say. (non-active in the sense that they do not post commentary or threads often.)

So long as Matt is not here 24/7, news posts will go up and they will be discussed until Matt deletes them.

Once deleted, someone else will come along, notice that the particular news story is not posted, and he or she will then repost it, and the discussion will begin again until Matt deletes it.


i think there's an excellent reason to believe that it's possible to curb news posts: there are already bans on types of posts. self-link posts are banned, generally speaking. they are sometimes allowed, but rarely so, and in fact more rarely than news posts would be allowed. metafilter did not always ban self-links: that was started before my time, but it was not always present. people got used to the rule that self-links are bad and should not be posted; according to this precedent, i believe it is possible that news posts can be stopped as well.
posted by moz at 9:32 PM on October 3, 2002


OK, my first suggestion wasn't good enough. Try this instead:

1) Turn off posting for three days, not just one. Just about everyone who is a member will probably visit the site at least once over any given three day period. This is the warning and self-education period. Include links to more appropriate places for various kinds of discussions (e.g. sick-dying-not dead yet-kaput celebrity notices can go to Fametracker's boards).

2) Implement a coding solution as suggested by Danelope to lessen the load on Matt. This will have been publicized during the three day no posting period, so fewer clueless people should be showing up here to ask why their post was deleted. It won't get rid of all of them, but it should ease the load.

If the vast majority of MeFi users really, truly want their news links, they'll come to MeTa and argue their case. I really doubt that there are so many fervent newslovers who must use MeFi to discuss current events. I suspect that, as always, there's a large number of people willing to adapt with whatever seems to be the prevalent view.
posted by maudlin at 9:37 PM on October 3, 2002


nearly everyone participating in this thread

So, now every respondent must kowtow to the opinion expressed in the original post? You should know by now that the vast bulk of the people participating in Me-Talk are fascist wanna-be's trying to impose their will on the masses. The only real purpose this forum serves is to keep this noise off the blue pages while giving those who vent their frustrations here the illusion of having served their otherwise ineffectual purpose.

it seems Matt has been willing to give members the benefit of the doubt until now

How far would that sentiment get you during a job interview for a computer security or software design position?

moz: One difference is self-links were not nearly as numerous as news links have been throughout the entirety of MeFi's history. Also, self-promotion will nearly always attract much more disdain than a news link. Comparing apples to zebras does not establish precedent.


posted by mischief at 9:39 PM on October 3, 2002


I agree that the only real solution will come when we all decide to put our game faces on and only post good links and comments. However, Matt has to make the first move by expressing publically, prominently, and permanently his feelings regarding news links, and follow it up by deleting threads that work against the stated goals of the site. I love the idea of a self-policing community, but sometimes you've got to shake the tree.
posted by Hildago at 9:44 PM on October 3, 2002


maudlin: I have always promoted the view that only hardcoded processes would make any difference in how people drafted their posts and comments.

Any such news filter as Danelope suggests would have to include every single source of news on the web. A story on CNN is likely to also be on Dayton Times.


posted by mischief at 9:45 PM on October 3, 2002


First you all chased rodii away, then rebecca quit posting. And now evanizer. For shame. These 3 meta-members posted consistently clearly thought out comments and occasionally some excellent linkage, too. Our community is sadder for their loss. I sincerely hope that evan got to see the excellent LOTR movies link from yesterday before he abandoned ship - that to me is the epitome of a grand MeFi post. After reading some of the garbage comments that pile up in MeFi, it should become apparent that quality posts don't necessarily pile up comments, nor should they. Most of those threads become shouting matches and aren't worth wading through.
posted by Lynsey at 9:45 PM on October 3, 2002


I hate to be a party-pooper and I enjoy playing the (start the oompah-pah) "If I Were A Matt Man" game as much as the next guy, but it's all in the mix.

It's all in the mix - this is a rule of life from nightclubs to angel cake. Some days there are too many news posts - so what? The problem is lousy news posts. The solution is inpenitent skipping or creative re/derailing - turning it round via the judicious introduction of another avenue of argument or solid linking. Sheauga is always doing this but, sadly, almost always in vain. Sometimes those who clamour for good links run away at the sight of more than two of them too close together.

It seems to me the problem is that most users just read the day's posts. Why not scroll down deeply? There's almost always enough in the last five days to amuse anyone.

Threads are open for a month - why stop commenting after they're a couple of days old?

Are old threads old news? Now, that would be ironic.

So *screws on mortar board* I'll be expecting a good non-news post in the next 7 days from all you whiners! ;)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 9:49 PM on October 3, 2002


Any such news filter as Danelope suggests would have to include every single source of news on the web. A story on CNN is likely to also be on Dayton Times. - mischief

There already exists a newsfilter. It's called news.google.com.
posted by dejah420 at 9:55 PM on October 3, 2002


* goes to google *

* wonders how he gets those screws into his head like that *
posted by yhbc at 9:55 PM on October 3, 2002


Hil: Deleting threads is not sufficient if those posts are allowed to sit on MeFi for hours collecting comments before Matt gets around to them. Also, "self-policing" is a false promise if only one person holds enforcement powers and only wields those powers for an hour or two every day.

Mig: You raise a valid point that many Me-Talkers miss. Many MeFi users including some who post FPPs apparently only read the FPPs for the links, never entering the discussion areas either on the blue pages or here on the gray pages.

dejah: So what's your point?


posted by mischief at 9:56 PM on October 3, 2002



vastly outnumbered purists...

...You should know by now that the vast bulk of the people participating in Me-Talk are fascist wanna-be's trying to impose their will on the masses.


Mischief, I'm getting the impression that you consider yourself privvy to the pulse of the masses (those who do not partake in Metatalk), and you've commissioned yourself as their voice.

I don't think many Mefi users venture into Metatalk either, and some probably like newsfilter.... some probably don't. But if they don't come here and voice their opinion like you have, then they have absolutely no say about the direction of metafilter.

Those who come into Metatalk do not represent all users, but since they speak up they're the only ones that matter.

So far your opinion is not the popular one here.
posted by Stan Chin at 10:07 PM on October 3, 2002


then they have absolutely no say about the direction of metafilter

Given the bitching in this thread, I would hazard the guess that they have already DICTATED the direction of MeFi. This thread is nothing more than a reaction to that. Threads like this DON'T MATTER one whit precisely because so many DON'T read Me-Talk. This issue of news links has been ongoing for years and the complaints are always the same, but who is winning? The complainers?

My opinion has never been popular here, because Me-Talkers for the most part cannot stand the thought that their fantasies never become reality.


posted by mischief at 10:15 PM on October 3, 2002


Me-Talkers for the most part cannot stand the thought that their fantasies never become reality.

Some do.
posted by gsteff at 10:19 PM on October 3, 2002


What we've learned from mischief so far:
1. Matt's guidelines are completely ineffective.
2. Obscure non-news links are boring.
3. Deleting threads serves no purpose.
4. MetaTalk has no effect on site policy or user behavior.
5. Self-policing doesn't work.

In other words, nearly every guideline, community standard, and accepted practice in MetaFilter's 3+ year history has been rendered invalid by the sole dissenter among dozens of opinions voiced on the matter today.

If you actually believe these things, mischief, there's a good possibility you may be on the wrong site, regardless of how many times you use the phrase "vast majority", "vast bulk", and "vastly outnumbered".
posted by Danelope at 10:20 PM on October 3, 2002


Gee, Danelope, you are as good at spinning as I am. ;P

I'm glad you learned these facts from me (although #2 was sarcasm on my part).

1. If Matt's guidelines were effective, we wouldn't be having this discussion.
2. Already covered.
3. Vibrating broomstick.
4. See #1.
5. See #1.

I did not render the guidelines, standards or practices invalid, the years' worth of routine posting and commenting of MeFites rendered them invalid.

The years of complaining about news links has been ineffective. No one complaining has yet offered a workable fix or a convincing argument to stop MeFites from posting news links.

As I have indicated many times, since the core functionality of the Metafilter application cannot restrict how people post and comment, the relative few who complain in Me-Talk cannot make a difference. Like any other tool, people will use it however they want in any way they can. Without some serious recoding by Matt, the many so-called ills of MetaFilter will never change and many more will be discovered as the net evolves and new forms of communications can be linked to by URL.

Here's an analogy: Speed limits. Some people obey them. Everyone else just blows them off.

Claiming that news links make bad posts is just as ridiculous as claiming that Metafilter is not a discussion board. Your complaints are as vain as fundamental christians damning all sex except that performed in the missionary position by married couples in a darkened room for the purpose of conception only. Just as so many of us ignore the fundies as babbling lunatics, the MeFi community is ignoring you.

posted by mischief at 10:51 PM on October 3, 2002


16391 members | You are logged in as: dg / logout
There have been 620 links and 18009 comments posted since your last visit



*brain explodes*
posted by dg at 10:53 PM on October 3, 2002


It never ceases to fascinate (and puzzle) me to see so many otherwise sane, intelligent people struggle to throw off the yoke of freedom and clamp on chains. Rather than begging an authority figure to exercise his authority over us; shouting for rules, enforcement, punishment, and a narrowing and diminishing of the site, why not simply take responsibility for making the most of what we have here, which is better than what we find elsewhere (that's why we're here), which is probably as much as we dare hope for?

I think that many of the changes some of you clamor for would result in a site that would be a pale shadow of what it is now, despite the missteps, mistakes and various excesses. No two of us would run a site like this in exactly the same way, obviously. This one is Matt's, and he's done a damned fine job with it. I say we trust him to keep it going and keep it healthy. Brainstorming and making suggestions in order to be helpful are one thing, but what I see in this thread goes way beyond that, and the last thing Matt needs is 100 people trying to micromanage every last aspect of the operation and guidance of the site.

Metafilter means a lot to a lot of us, and we want it to succeed, to continue, and be as rewarding to us as we have found it to be in the past, so we sometimes get riled up when we feel we perceive threats to it. It's good to have an emotional stake in something like this, I think. But let's not get carried away and overstep our roles here. Matt has made something good here, something that operates on principles of freedom and participation and choice and community that WORKS, something which not even our great nation, founded on similar principles, can sustain these days. Give to it what you have to give, take from it what you want to take, control the impulse to control. Don't muck it up.
posted by rushmc at 11:01 PM on October 3, 2002


Well said, rushmc. I hope that, recent indications to the contrary aside, everyone who has a stake (if only emotional) in the continued life of the beast community will continue to try keep that spirit alive.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:39 PM on October 3, 2002


Lynsey: First you all chased rodii away, then rebecca quit posting. And now evanizer. For shame. These 3 meta-members posted consistently clearly thought out comments

Oh, please. Evanizer is obviously capable of wonderful stuff - he was one of the posters I used to follow most when I was new - but it seemed obvious to me that he's been self-destructing for weeks. This is hardly a "clearly thought out comment;" it's a blatantly insulting troll specifically designed to piss opponents off. Yeah, and *we're* all the problem. It was obvious then, if not sooner, that evanizer had abandoned caring about the quality of his arguments. Yes, too many posters assume everyone here agrees with their kneejerk and unnecessary spin on a topic, but evanizer's "Waaah! MeFi's too liberal for me to take anymore!" stuff makes far less sense than this:

Perhaps my boredom and ennui with MetaFilter is a symptom of a larger boredom and ennui with the net. I feel like my net activities are starting to invade the mental and emotional energy, and time, that I used to reserve solely for my artwork. To be honest, I'm tired of words. I'm tired of writing sentences. I'm tired of arguing about things I really have no need to argue about....I need to get my hands working on stuff again. I need to make something.

Now *that* makes sense. Evanizer blaming MeFi when the real issue was his feeling that he wasn't creating anything valuable is hardly cause for massive hand-wringing. And yes, I do hope he comes back and will miss him. But his public departure (why do people feel the need to announce these things? I used to see it ages ago on Usenet and it still seems odd) has more to do with his own head than with any purported lack of respect for dissent on MeFi.
posted by mediareport at 12:59 AM on October 4, 2002


A positive suggestion re: the Newsfilter stuff:

Matt, if you have time for it, I suggest a one- or two-week moratorium on breaking news posts to the front page, prominently announced. You'd be deleting like mad, I know, but perhaps the visual experience of a front page that contained nothing but cool odd Web finds would continue to resonate *after* the moratorium was lifted. It seems a fairly simple, temporary experiment that just might work to tilt the balance back away from CNN/NYT/BBC-type links for a while.
posted by mediareport at 1:04 AM on October 4, 2002


I'm with maudlin.

Just turn metafilter off for a week with the front page prominently displaying the message that news links aren't welcome along with links to examples of "good" posts. You could even come up with a thing like "This week is dedicated to a mefi retrospective" or some such.

All the "real" mefis (as they like to call themselves) will understand and can probably live without new content on mefi for a whole week. Of course not everyone that posts news links will visit the site during that period but it will certainly be seen by a large number of users. I don't think just turning comments off will do much good either. That just provides less content for news people to consume which will lead to more links to news.

Yes, I'm fairly new around here and even I recognize the problem with all the news links. Just turn the site of for a while. People who understand what is happening will wait around - those who are just looking for braindead conversations to pass time at work will move along or at least be presented with the idea that mefi has alternate goals/purposes.

I'd also like to point out that it took nearly an hour just to read through all the posts in this one metatalk! I'll be impressed if anyone makes it down to this post.
posted by stoic at 2:07 AM on October 4, 2002


No one complaining has yet offered a workable fix or a convincing argument to stop MeFites from posting news links.

FWIW, my own contribution to this thread was more an observation than a complaint (okay, perhaps also a lament), and I agree with your basic point: news fans are in the majority. But since you ask for 'workable fixes', mischief:

1) Remove 'most comments' from the 'sort by' drop-down menu to discourage the idea that 'many comments good, no comments bad'. ('Recent comments' and a cursory skim of the front page will still pick up the hot threads for those who want them.)

2) Introduce two basic categories (news, general), to be applied by the poster, which can then be filtered by users through the 'sort by' drop-down menu.

No-one is prevented by this from posting whatever they want, or commenting wherever they want. And those who want a MetaFilterFilter would have it. End of Bitching-About-NewsFilter-itis.
posted by rory at 6:12 AM on October 4, 2002


By "workable fix" I meant one that does not require new code or reworking existing code since Matt has indicated his resistance to such.

Even after 140 comments, stupidsexyFlanders nailed it.

posted by mischief at 6:33 AM on October 4, 2002


So I got some sleep and a BIG mug of tea and came back to this thread. I want to clarify that I never expected the technique I described to completely eliminate news posts, but I had hoped that they could be reduced. Call it the "learn to live with a few dandelions cause you ain't gettin' them all" principle.

But rory's suggestion to add an additional level of filtering on the individual level makes a lot of sense. People would be free to post news and those of us tired of it would be able to ignore it much more easily than usual.

Of course, it's up to Matt to decide if he wants to tackle the coding, but he may prefer that to dealing with endless arguments on this issue here. He's commented in this thead that he finds the rash of news postings to be a problem. I think he may be more open to a code fix that adds more choices for the reader than for any code change that reduces choices for the poster.
posted by maudlin at 6:55 AM on October 4, 2002


By "workable fix" I meant one that does not require new code or reworking existing code

Ah. So although "workable fix" is normally a term applied to technical problems, you were actually talking about cultural problems, in which context "workable fix" is an obvious oxymoron. So you weren't actually calling for constructive proposals. Got it.

since Matt has indicated his resistance to such.

Yet Matt does write new code and rework existing code around here. Look at the changes he's made to MeTa over recent months, most of which are more substantial than those suggestions. Doesn't mean he has to lift a finger over this if he doesn't want to; he can and will do whatever he likes, obviously.
posted by rory at 7:03 AM on October 4, 2002


TURN METAFILTER OFF YOUR DAMN SELVES, THOSE WHO ADVOCATE THAT, AND QUIT TRYING TO CONTROL IT FOR THE REST OF US, YOU DAMN NAZIS!!!
posted by rushmc at 8:26 AM on October 4, 2002


Gee Mr. Rush, I thought you were fond of rules.
posted by timeistight at 8:49 AM on October 4, 2002


I don't see the conflict you are implying...perhaps you'd care to be more specific?
posted by rushmc at 9:21 AM on October 4, 2002


Okay, tell me if this is clearer: back in July, you were incensed that Matt said that membership was closed but allowed and even facilitated limited new member sing-ups. Now, when many members complain that Matt says that news posts are bad posts but doesn't act to limit them, you call those members nazis.
posted by timeistight at 9:31 AM on October 4, 2002


I'm not finding much interesting out there on the net these days as everyone is temporarily obsessed with the rumblings of war. However, I think clarity is going to start to emerge within the next few weeks, and then we'll resume a more typical agenda for discussions.
posted by sheauga at 9:49 AM on October 4, 2002


Timeistight - rushmc, like me, is of the Let A Hundred Flowers Bloom School. Here's a brief explanation of our position.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 9:50 AM on October 4, 2002


one complaint I have with all the news posts is that in a week or month or whatever, all of those links will be broken or dead (what's the proper terminology?).
posted by tolkhan at 9:54 AM on October 4, 2002


Miguel, do members of that school habitually call people who disagree them nazis?
posted by timeistight at 10:16 AM on October 4, 2002


[ex-topicus]

Funnily enough, timestight, it was we Jews who started this unfortunate habit of calling anyone with a different opinion a nazi. It's still the insult of choice at the Knesset. Perhaps in some unconscious way we wish to make the word so commonplace its real meaning becomes obscured...as happened with fuck. Or fuckwit - that's almost a term of endearment now!

Perhaps this has happened here as well - Godwin's Law helped a lot to defuse or even rhetorically disable the word altogether. I'd say racist was a far worse insult than "nazi" nowadays - and they don't come more racist than the nazis.

Perhaps even fascist. It's interesting, innit? The worst of all is still troll, of course. ;)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 10:26 AM on October 4, 2002


Couldn't there be a way to categorize a link before you post it? Like it's either "news", "politics", "sex", "comics" etc... And the users could filter certain categories out...
posted by zerofoks at 10:38 AM on October 4, 2002


I agree with maudlin. Matt? What do you think about that idea? Or at least a filter. I think some action needs to be taken.
posted by ac at 10:45 AM on October 4, 2002


I like Maudlin's idea... What say ye, Matt? Then again, I'm also in favor of shutting down new users again...

Mischief - I wish that MeFi had an "Ignore this user" feature like /. does, so that I could turn your posts off. You contribute nothing to this community. And while I'm at it, go for a nice run with scissors to the cement plant so that you can play in front of the trucks, Ok?

Vacapinta's personal-page-filter is everything I always loved about MetaFilter. If I see another post with "Israel" in it, I'm going to scream.

AUAUUUUUUUGH!
posted by SpecialK at 11:09 AM on October 4, 2002


Well, Matt, what do you think?
posted by Hildago at 11:29 AM on October 4, 2002


Now, when many members complain that Matt says that news posts are bad posts but doesn't act to limit them, you call those members nazis.

Actually, it is not the complaints that I object to--though they are certainly tedious--it is the calls to enforce upon a membership of 16k+ certain limitations which they are not willing to enforce upon themselves. This is a very puritan (and irresponsible) attitude which I object to in all forms: "I can't control myself, so we must implement draconian rules for all so that I have no choice but to stay in line."

(And the Nazi remark was largely meant as a humorous reference to this concurrent thread.)
posted by rushmc at 11:40 AM on October 4, 2002


Be it known that maudlin is currently supporting rory's suggestion that posters label their input as news and readers choose to read all-MeFi or MeFi-sans-news. zerofoks suggested something similar, although I don't think we should have multiple categories. Look how often someone forgets the correct category for MeTa posts.

And fellow perfectionists: a certain number of news posts won't get tagged. As long as the deluge diminishes when I'm viewing the news filtered MeFi, I'd be happy.

I'm no longer stumping for shutting down MeFi for a day or longer, so those of you who say you're supporting my suggestion should clarify: shutdown and re-education camp (with pony rides!) or Me-filter.
posted by maudlin at 11:51 AM on October 4, 2002


I like both ideas. Shut it down for a day, and then implement the News-Filter-Filter.

Alternately, we can start our very own episode of Survivor: MetaFilter, and vote off the users we don't like in Tribe Council topics in MetaTalk... ;)
posted by SpecialK at 1:42 PM on October 4, 2002


Couldn't there be a way to categorize a link before you post it? Like it's either "news", "politics", "sex", "comics" etc... And the users could filter certain categories out...

You mean like Fark does? Yeah! Cool!

posted by NedKoppel at 1:51 PM on October 4, 2002


Or like Kuro5hin does? Yeah! Cool!
Or like Slashdot does? Yeah! Cool!
Or like [site name here] does? Yeah! Cool!
posted by SpecialK at 2:00 PM on October 4, 2002


Could something be done where any time someone posts something about Israel, their name is replaced by the Fark "Dumbass" picture?
posted by interrobang at 2:04 PM on October 4, 2002


mcwetboy: Metafilterfilter.
heh.
posted by eddydamascene at 3:05 PM on October 4, 2002


MeFiFi is such an old joke. ;)
posted by SpecialK at 3:09 PM on October 4, 2002


zen like master, matt
waits thirty days to delete
this thread, like any other


posted by dash_slot- at 4:55 PM on October 4, 2002


Of the six FPPs in the last three hours, three got called out to this thread on the grounds of being "NewsFilter." Nonetheless, they collectively garnered 48 comments (45 not including the callouts.) In light of the phrase "warrants discussion" in the link guidelines, I'd say this indicates at least some worthiness on the part of those posts.
posted by Nicolae Carpathia at 5:13 PM on October 4, 2002


Note that the very first guideline is "most people haven't seen it". Clearly, the day's top news headlines are something most people will see during the course of the day.

It's not about "worthiness" it's about MetaFilter's raison d'etre. Many, if not most, news sites have their own forums for discussing the headlines. Headlines are not by any stretch of the imagination unique and original web content that people might not otherwise discover, and surely that's what MetaFilter is all about.
posted by George_Spiggott at 5:31 PM on October 4, 2002


Good point, George. I still think those NewsFilter posts were "worthy", but you've made me look deeper to see why I feel that way.

When something in the news is interesting to me, it is not just discussion that I seek, but discussion by a particular group whose discussions have enlightened or amused me in the past. MeFites are, for me, such a group.

You are right, though, about MeFi's raison d'etre. I will continue to respect that by not making FPPs that rely on daily news type sources, and I thank you for spurring me to understand that more carefully.
posted by Nicolae Carpathia at 7:58 PM on October 4, 2002


I still think those NewsFilter posts were "worthy"

Sorry if this looks like I'm picking on you Nicolae, but I'm wondering what part of

A good post to MetaFilter is something that meets the following criteria: most people haven't seen it before, there is something interesting about the content on the page, and it might warrant discussion from others.

(emphasis mine) and

There have been a rash of links to news stories lately, and if you check out some of the linked MetaTalk discussions, you'll see why they often make for poor posts.

you didn't understand, exactly?

They're quotes from the posting page and the posting guidelines, and English really isn't that difficult a language. I know it's a lot more people than just you. But I'd be really pissed off if for some reason Anfield started to evolve into a baseball stadium just because lots of people like baseball. No hang on: I meant really pissed off. Sorry, I'll shut up now. It's just that I really used to like this website, and a lot of people are spoiling it because they seem unable or unwilling to understand a few fairly simple concepts.

But, as mathowie said above: I guess that's not enough of a hint.
posted by walrus at 2:01 AM on October 5, 2002


Someone do something!
posted by ac at 3:09 PM on October 5, 2002


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