Stop HateBushFilter December 15, 2003 10:39 AM   Subscribe


It is getting ridiculous.

Everyday, one of the same 20 or so posters finds the latest outrage du jour regarding Bush, often linking only to a single news source or op-ed article. They read it and decide that "this is the best of the web" and post it for us because they think we wouldn't ever find it on the Yahoo! front page, New York Times, Eschaton or the Guardian.

This is not what MeFi is for. MeFi isn't Newsfilter. Linking to an op/ed in a newspaper that we all read is wrong.

The problem is that those same 20 or so posters don't like to discuss anything other than how Evil Bush is and how everything even tangentially-related to Bush is Evil as well.

If they want to discuss politics, then why don't they go to PoliticsFilter? That is the proper forum for that.

But this is a bigger problem then just being a misuse of the point of MeFi. All that it does is re-inforce the LeftyFilter label. These front-page posts don't exist to have a balanced dialogue on politics. They only exist for the sole purpose of trying to suggest that everything about Bush is Evil and the having a circle-jerk of anti-Bush rhetoric.

And some of these posts are ridiculous and in bad faith. Suggesting that Bush should go to war with China because of Iraq. Or that because Halliburton's field food services aren't spec, that somehow Bush is letting his cronies have a free ride. Or because Cheney went to a private hunt club, he is somehow Hitler-esque. I am just waiting for the post where they allege that Bush doesn't like cats and old people.

Then, on the discussion, there is a bunch of ass-patting where those same 20 or so posters all make further snarky anti-Bush comments. And if there is a criticism of the original post, the reflexively irrate original poster goes into the whole "I didn't know it was treason/un-patriotic to question Bush/Our Dear Leader/BushCo (or some equally insipid and un-original name for the current adminsitration).


This can't be what MeFi is for. And to be honest, it drives away people from reading and gives MeFi a Left label in the greater Net Community. MeFi isn't seen as a diverse group of sophisticated people. It is seen as a the Left version of LGF, and I am starting to see that meme more and more.

I have also noticed an increase in recent days of people getting tired of seeing these Anti-Bush Newsfilter posts.

So maybe we can knock them off. Maybe you can take it to politicsfilter.

We all get it: a good number of you don't like Bush and want him gone. Fine. Thanks for sharing. Do we really need to hear you repeat your message everyday?
posted by Seth at 10:39 AM on December 15, 2003


Seth has posted no links and 30 comments to MetaFilter.

Rather than whining about the "problem" here, why don't you post something interesting and apolitical to the front page? Instead, your complaint is belied by the fact that 90% of your comments have been in political threads.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 10:51 AM on December 15, 2003


It is seen as a the Left version of LGF


seen by straw men, apparently

you know, if you really think that, you're probably reading the wrong websites -- but I agree, MeFi is to the left of Andrew Sullivan or David Horowitz, yes. Most sane people all over the world are, by the way.

but of course you're free to add your personal "I Love Bush" content to the front page -- I'm sure Matt won't delete it if it's not a double post. go ahead.

ps before you make very weird comparisons again, check out some of those warblogs/hate sites -- I don't see lots of Arab hate or genocidal stuff on MeFi, so, really, only a deluded observer could argue that point in good faith

Do we really need to hear you repeat your message everyday?

MeFi has never been a "one-topic-only" site (as opposed to other "see how evil Islam is" sites you probably read and like, but this is another matter). but have you nopticed how people (American, Coalition and Iraqi) are dying in Iraq every day as well?
posted by matteo at 10:51 AM on December 15, 2003


Yes. And if you don't like it, don't read the threads.

It's that easy.

If you don't like a TV show, you change the channel. If you don't like the radio program, you change the station. If you don't like the way a president is effing up the country, you change the administration.

And if you don't like free speech, well, you go elsewhere.
posted by terrapin at 10:53 AM on December 15, 2003


matteo,

You just made two assumptions about me that are incorrect.

Merely because I am getting sick of people tripping over themselves to make their points about how much they think Bush is evil, does NOT mean that I love Bush. I didn't vote for him, and never have voted for any Republican for office. I can see Bush's warts. But I am not so irrational and immature to think that he is Evil like so many of the posters here. (You are also wrong in thinking that I am a right wing fanatic who reads right wing blogs all day. I am neither).

Your second faulty assumption is that, even if I did like Bush, that I'd post it here.
I wouldn't. Because it is the WRONG FORUM.

And yes, matteo, you are one of the "20 or so" people I referred to in my post.
posted by Seth at 10:57 AM on December 15, 2003


Oh, I see terrapin...

It is a free speech issue.


Silly me, I thought this was Matt Haughey's website. I didn't realize that is is a First Amendment protected forum operated by the state.

Silly me for also realizing that Matt has set out rules for what should be posted here, and that these posts violate his intentions.
posted by Seth at 10:59 AM on December 15, 2003


If I posted a link daily about the mold growing in my fridge, how long do you think I'd be posting before someone would stop me?

Besides, maybe Seth refrains from posting links because he knows he has nothing worthwhile to post, unlike some people.
posted by angry modem at 11:00 AM on December 15, 2003


Seth, i agree with you 100%, but your request will fall on deaf ears. I've yet to see a Meta post about this subject accomplish anything good.
posted by poopy at 11:00 AM on December 15, 2003


Silly me for also realizing that Matt has set out rules for what should be posted here, and that these posts violate his intentions.

Then let Matt decide whether to delete posts that violate his vision; send emails to members who violate the vision; or reprimand those who violate his vision, Seth.
posted by terrapin at 11:09 AM on December 15, 2003


why don't they go to PoliticsFilter?

WarFilter appears to be broken and the admin is MIA, so it's not really a viable alternative. Some of us tried to encourage a migration of political threads from MeFi to WarFi, but it never really worked.
posted by homunculus at 11:10 AM on December 15, 2003


Here's the reasons why I think the plea falls on deaf ears:

(1) These posts are interesting to many posters and readers. They provide (in some cases) solid matter for people who already think something smells fishy about Bush to chew on.

(2) By and large, most people here sympathize instead of assailing anti-bush sentiments. This isn't a big deal for me where I live now -- plenty of fellow Bush dislikers around -- but back in Utah I would probably feel pretty politically lonely.

Metatalk posts can at best change #2 (and probably not even that). Now, more interesting distractions posted to the blue might change #1....
posted by namespan at 11:12 AM on December 15, 2003


terrapin,

We are suppose to be self-regulating.

We shouldn't have the "it's allowed until Matt bans it" mentality.


He gave us rules and guidlines. These posts violate them. This is my plea to the community to conform to the guidelines.
posted by Seth at 11:12 AM on December 15, 2003


He gave us rules and guidlines...

He's a lot like Moses...
posted by SweetJesus at 11:13 AM on December 15, 2003


I dunno. Why did Seth feel the need to go into the thread regarding restrictions to international contracts in Iraq, and scream, in Stephen Colbert fashion, "You're wrong!" And then the whole bit about how you know how the average American would feel. That certainly elevated the level of discussion.

You're partially right here, by the way, but a little humility might help.
posted by raysmj at 11:14 AM on December 15, 2003


I too am getting tired of bashing Shrub Inc.
I can't wait for Dean to get elected. That guy writes his own punchlines better than Georgy does.
... but until then, all we got is the Man in the Hat.
posted by mischief at 11:15 AM on December 15, 2003


Seth, you're right that this is Matt's site. He deletes posts that he considers to be newsfilter or double-posts, etc. If your point here is to lobby for a quicker pinky on the delete button, you've made your point.

That said, these are highly political times. Our country is occupying a sovereign nation and killing its people. That's a fact no matter where you stand on the issue. A lot of people are upset about this. Sometimes the best site such people see all day is related to the occupation/terror campaign, or the administration that set it up.

As others have said, if you don't like it, don't read it. Matt has heard your complaint and will act as he sees appropriate.
posted by squirrel at 11:16 AM on December 15, 2003


Retorts to posts like this tend to take these forms:

1. You are exaggerating/imagining this problem.
2. If we have so many Leftwing posts, why isn't the Right posting more?
3. The anti-Bush posts are so prevalent because nearly everyone is anti-Bush.
4. The posts aren't anti-Bush, per se, but the comments are because so many regulars are liberals.
5. It's Matt's site, and he's okay with it.
6. Shut the fuck up.

You're tilting at windmills here, Seth, but I think that if we could get most of the people to agree on one or two of these five points, we could focus the discussion better.

BTW, did you buy your username on ebay? You have an odd posting history relative to your username.
posted by trharlan at 11:17 AM on December 15, 2003


I am just waiting for the post where they allege that Bush doesn't like cats...

No, you're thinking of Ashcroft.
posted by majcher at 11:22 AM on December 15, 2003


squirrel,

I'm not suggesting that all political discussion must disappear.

I was just suggesting that there manufactured posts to try to have endless discussions bashing Bush.

Look,
Markets, at some point, must go through a Correction.

MeFi needs to go through a correction here. It has gone too far asunder.




on preview:
trharlan,
No. I didn't. Was just busy playing Don Quixote.
posted by Seth at 11:24 AM on December 15, 2003


And yes, matteo, you are one of the "20 or so" people I referred to in my post.

I'm proud to have made your black list -- I'd volunteer for it I wasn't included already.
need me to sign a Loyalty Oath or something?

OK, now will you please be so kind as to link ALL the I-Hate-Bush related Front Page Posts I personally posted?

*waits, smiling*



anyway in the past I've been the first to complain about an excess of I/P posts in the front page.
and I could do without many Iraq-related FPP's.
But if we average about 30 or 35 FPP's a day, there's plenty, plenty of non-political material on MeFi, so knock yourself out

as others have pointed out, these are highly political times -- 9-11 and especially Iraq Attaq did that, unfortunately.
posted by matteo at 11:26 AM on December 15, 2003


I think the argument is kind of spurious due to the postings themselves, would you open up the NY Times and say it's just a Bush-bashing rag? Many (75%) of the posts you selected as "Bush-Bashing" are NewsFilter, but they are news stories which people are discussing all over the world.

I do agree, however, with the slam on the often pat 'debate' that transpires within such threads. But to tell people not to post anything that "bashes Bush" and then include posts which may have A. nothing to do with Bush per se and B. are related to some of most important issues of the day is disingenuous at best.

Furthermore, I think your main problem is that you like and support Bush and his policies (not all, you see the warts, but in general you are supportive) and it annoys you that everyone doesn't feel this way, or at least recognize the good points that you see. Pyschologically you may even be in denial about your feelings for Bush (you didn't vote for him, wouldn't consider yourself "that kind of guy"), and this causes you to lash out in ways that aren't necessarily based in reality. For example, how many posters really think Bush is the Embodiment of all Evil in the World? A handful? And yet somehow it has become The Downfall of MetaFilter.

Lastly I agree with Trharlan, the discussion would definitely be better if the few people who go over the top in the discussion would disappear. But that's not going to happen without banning people, and my experience in forums like this is that banning people for annoying opinions is about the worst thing you can do. So the solution is to live with it, ignore the trolls, and try to raise the discussion by providing good linkable evidence when you argue, and by posting your own links which are models of politeness and rational discourse.
posted by cell divide at 11:31 AM on December 15, 2003


Can you promise to not scream down everybody in political threads then, if everything works out your way? I've been guilty of it too, but you were coming off real hot and heavy there for a while. It was Anger City, and everybody who disagreed with you (at last in one thread) wasn't in touch with the Real America (or was against the First Amendment in the campaign finance thread), which only feeds into the whole easily-caricatured debate thing. If you hate the way things are going, work to improve them.
posted by raysmj at 11:38 AM on December 15, 2003


matteo,
No loyalty oaths required.

cell divide,
Interesting analysis. I do, however, disagree with your thesis. I don't think there is any "closet" love for Bush. It is just that, for the first time in my life, the Republican party has been the one that cares for universal rights and is the progressive party. I have always been a Scoop Jackson Democrat. Just in case you are curious about my personal feelings.

But I got your point, and I didn't mean to suggest that the problem was pervasive (I did say it was 20 or so out of the 20000) or that it was fatal. I was merely suggesting that we need a "correction."

ray,
As I said, I don't mind some political discussion. But as I began reading MeFi more and more again, I was happy and irked by what I was seeing. The size does gives us the virtue of having many great things on the FP and great viewpoints. But I was irked about the handful of garbage that was getting a ride. I do admit to allowing my humours getting out of whack on some of those posts. But I was just fed up with the garbage. And on the campaign finance post, my civil libertarian disposition was dumbfounded by a ruling that ought to have enraged any group that was so pro-civil liberties, and yet the pettiness was there too.
But good advice about leading by example. Still, maybe I'll just go back to just intermittenly reading.
posted by Seth at 11:51 AM on December 15, 2003


I think I might start digging up sites about Bill Clinton, or Howard Dean, or Gore or Dick Gephart. I will then fill the comment threads with my total dislike of their policies -assuming as a good little Republican I would-then see how stinking long it would take till my fanny was hauled to meta (which, hello, is the purpose for it in the first place.)

The point this poster was trying to make was that the Bush burning was getting tedious and annoying. The links that start the fire are in general total newsfilter, violating the stated purpose of this website, according to Matt the Magnificent.

IF the peasants-and-pitchfork crowd would simply find an interesting link that fit the guidelines, I wouldn't care if you figuratively beat out George's brains with a ball-peen hammer. But the links are vapid, and if I posted equally crappy links on the conservative side, I would be ripped up one side and down the other, and I would deserve it.

So get a grip people. As things stand now you are more aggravating than Bunnyfire.
posted by konolia at 11:54 AM on December 15, 2003


I am just waiting for the post where they allege that Bush doesn't like cats and old people.

I had actually been saving this up for tomorrow's daily HateBushFilter FPP, but since it has come up here, I might as well post it:

Bush Administration hates cats: John Ashcroft thinks calico cats are the sign of the devil AND Bush hates old people.
posted by limitedpie at 11:59 AM on December 15, 2003


Another thread in which a handful of users write numerous comments about why they don't like posting comments on Metafilter. Yay.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 12:01 PM on December 15, 2003


majcher: sorry, didn't see you beat me to it!
posted by limitedpie at 12:03 PM on December 15, 2003


Well, I think Bush is evil. I truely hate the man, and what he's done to this country.

Which is why I don't go into the Bush-bashing threads. It just makes me mad.

But for the people who post and comment in those threads they have a great deal of value. For whatever reason they enjoy them. And that's the bottomline. People like them.

Seth - Just because you and I think the anti-Bush posts are pointless doesn't mean they should be banned. You don't have to like it, but that's just the way it is. Trying to make it otherwise hasn't worked. People have been trying for years. Right? Scream all you want. Or just avoid the threads. Since they've been here for years it's a bit silly to say they violate the purpose of MetaFilter.

There are tons of topics I think should be banned here. Linking to online museums and photo sites got old about three years ago. But idiots still post them every single day. I hate it. If we ban your pointless topic we need to ban mine as well.
posted by y6y6y6 at 12:06 PM on December 15, 2003


konolia, please post some examples of vapidity to illustrate your point. Let's try to ground this discussion before it gets any farther afloat in vague rhetoric. And put down the hammer. ;^)

On preview, I don't know where the implied accusations of Bush ad hominem attacks are coming from. I haven't seen any links that attack the man; I've seen many that question/attack the policies and actions of his administration. There's a big difference.
posted by squirrel at 12:06 PM on December 15, 2003


I looked back through the archives at the front page posts for December, and we look to be averaging about one to two "political" posts per day. A few days had three, but several others had none. Thus far today, for example, of the nine posts only one is related to the Bush administration. Surely you can ignore the approximately 1 in 10 posts that you dislike?

I'm more curious to find out why y6y6y6 hates museums and photo sites.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 12:12 PM on December 15, 2003


I think I might start digging up sites about Bill Clinton, or Howard Dean, or Gore or Dick Gephart.



please do.

I'll help you, let's start with the satanic Clinton:
you know, maybe you don't remember that, but your fellow Republicans (hungrily followed by the "damn liberal media") busted the world's collective balls for years with Clinton's sex life and draft dodging -- I don't remember the same attention (in column inches, screen time, Usenet threads, whatever) given to Bush's alcoholism, coke addiction, shady National Guard record in 2000 by your fellow Conservatives (I remember some ugly stuff about McCain's alleged mental illness and his alleged "out-of-wedlock black daughter" -- ugly, ugly stuff thrown around by the Bush campaign. funny huh?)

anyway, there's still a guy bothering the Supremes (aka the Fantastic Five-Fours) with an injunction to see Vince Foster corpse's photos -- you know, Clinton killed Vince Foster too.

Clinton also ran a drug ring using Arkansas airports, and had Ron Brown snuffed out, too (just check out Scaife-funded rags during the Nineties)

so, here's a brief, incomplete summary of the very recent modus operandi -- and civility -- of today's "damn-pinko-terrorists-are-so-intolerant" contigent.

so much for civility, rabid partisanship and a sense of shame, huh?

but of course one is free to take seriously poor Ed Gillespie's rants about civility in the political discourse
it's all about shamelessness, after all


ps and please don't exhume bunnyfire's sad corpse.

posted by matteo at 12:30 PM on December 15, 2003


It is seen as a the Left version of LGF


seen by straw men, apparently


I'd beg to differ there. Political posts here tend to be almost always leftward-leaning, and the tone tends to be either "kill republicans" belligerent or "ain't we swell folks" self congratulatory back slapping, both of which bring out my inner redneck, and I (mea culpa) wind up contributing to the mess. And I, still after all is said and done, lean to the left.

It used to be, you'd hear reasonable arguments from both sides and more often than not learn something new, or at least gain a better understanding of the opposite viewpoint. These days, it's such bloodsport that it's turned me off of political involvement almost completely, and I can't be the only one.

I'm not asking to an end of Iraqfilter. It's important stuff. But I could stand to see a little more care taken in the wording and tone of fpps.

I think I might start digging up sites about Bill Clinton, or Howard Dean, or Gore or Dick Gephart.

All anyone needs to say about Dick Gephart is that he's the Buffalo Bills of American politics. Sit down and shut up, dick.
posted by jonmc at 12:34 PM on December 15, 2003


Matteo, in some sick way you prove my point. ;-)

can't exhume what has already been recycled.
posted by konolia at 12:38 PM on December 15, 2003


Who wants some cheese with their Whine?
posted by Stynxno at 12:47 PM on December 15, 2003


And some of these posts are ridiculous and in bad faith. Suggesting that Bush should go to war with China because of Iraq. Or that because Halliburton's field food services aren't spec, that somehow Bush is letting his cronies have a free ride. Or because Cheney went to a private hunt club, he is somehow Hitler-esque. I am just waiting for the post where they allege that Bush doesn't like cats and old people.

~chuckle~

If you can't refute 'em, try somehow to shut 'em up, right Seth?

Or at least lay in a big supply of straw for mischaracterizing the arguments you do not refute, right Seth?

(You might also consider trying internet stalking as a way of stifling dissent...or name-calling "troll" or "traitor" or "commie" or "terrorist"....or threatening to leave "biased" MetaFilter in a huff. They've all been tried here, and they're about on the same level, and just as effective as, your labeling dissenters "haters").

How interesting and completely telling that you did not explain (or more likely, merely cannot explain) what is "ridiculous" or in "bad faith" about most of these posts. You did not do so within many of the threads you reference, and now you have not done so here in the little tantrum you yourself created in MetaTalk. You merely label them as "ridiculous" or "in bad faith", just as you apparently label any posts with which you disagree as "Bush hate". Your complaint is about front page posts. You generalize that all posts that are critical about Bush are merely "Bush hate", which is the typically lazy, petulant way (and often the only way) around here for Bush apologists to handle any criticisms of Bush.

This is a pretty pathetic error in logic on your part (obviously heavily informed by your own political leanings and emotions), and on the part of others who whine about "Bush hate" as a way of avoiding the debate over his policies and actions.

Criticism of political leaders isn't going away any time soon. People comfortable with their views welcome criticism of their ideas and actions. May I suggest that the problem lies not with the critics, but with you and others like you who develop a strong knee-level wind in the face of such criticism (which, as others point out, are most often criticisms of policies and actions)....primarily because you and they are unable to effectively refute those critics.

May I suggest you (and others like you) come up with a little more mature way of handling such criticisms besides stupidly pigeonholing foreign or uncomfortable ideas as "hatred".
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 1:06 PM on December 15, 2003


tends to be either "kill republicans"



if you can't link to examples of this alleged constant bloodthirst -- as opposed as being against certain policies -- I'll have to consider this comment as baseless slander


in some sick way you prove my point.

well, if you can't really see the difference between the alt-current-events-whitewater false-accusations garbage and MeFi's opposition (by many members) to actual policies such as the Iraq War, and the White House's 1950's tactics, well, nobody can give you the -- I'll try to put this politely -- ability to do that, sadly
;)

on preview
as foldy said, when one can't defend the actual policies of his buddies, one can only scream "bias"

it'd be funny if this wasn't about an avoidable slaughter
posted by matteo at 1:10 PM on December 15, 2003


Linking to online museums and photo sites got old about three years ago. But idiots still post them every single day.

Idiots like plep, hama7, and madamjujujive? What an idiotic thing to say.
posted by eddydamascene at 1:11 PM on December 15, 2003


seth is just pissed because the posts he doesn't like are drowning out all *his* fine contributions. go back to sleep seth.
posted by quonsar at 1:12 PM on December 15, 2003


jonmc: I think that, say, on the Saddam thread you could've easily have said the same thing about some conservatives that you did about some liberals. Just a second ago, I was reading someone saying that liberals who don't go act as human shields or something, after calling the war a great wrong, aren't putting their money where their mouth is. I'm thinking that sort of stupid line would get you kicked out of most debate clubs, or least get pointed shaved off your score.

And, although surely the left-leaning posts have been more numerous, we've had the conservative Dean-is-losing post (which was pretty lame, but nonetheless popular), the environmentalists-are-crying-wolf thread, the anti-terror protests thread, etc. And conservatives can sometimes come to dominate threads posted by liberals anyway, which is absolutely the biggest argument against them.

Example: One time I went out of bounds here in wondering aloud in an FPP: What is this crap about Iraq all about? That was the first Iraq thread on here, actually, and absolutely the only relevant FPP I've ever posted. I'm a terrible front page post link picker and writer. I know it. A man's gotta know his limitations, as Clint says, so I pretty much never post to the front page.

Anyway, who gets a "post of the day" type citation from a post in that thread? Stephen Den Beste? Who proceeds to leave metafilter over my post, which he calls an example of liberal solidarity or something (I'd been a rather vocal supporter of U.S. War on Terror efforts before, but never mind ...)? SDB, who becomes Mr. Warblogger for a while there and even writes for the WSJ's online site.
posted by raysmj at 1:12 PM on December 15, 2003


ok, matteo, I used hyperbole for effect, shoot me. Let's amend it to read "aren't all right wingers incredible stupid, evil lunatics," where "right-winger" means "anyone to the right of the poster."
posted by jonmc at 1:15 PM on December 15, 2003


(I still don't know the answer to my own question in that Iraq thread, by the way. As poorly worded as it was, it was heartfelt in its utter befuddlement. And I think sometimes people don't notice that not everyone posting an FPP or posting on a particular subject fits into any strict ideological category because of feelings on that particular topic. If that makes any sense.)
posted by raysmj at 1:20 PM on December 15, 2003


ray, believe me, the right wing is as much if not more to blame as the left for the monumental clusterfuck politics has become today. It's exactly that asshole vs. asshole metality that's made me say fuck it to the whole shooting match, since quite frankly there ain't a damned thing I can do about it anyway.

That is unless someone says something so ludicrously offensive, that I gotta retort, and someone always does.
posted by jonmc at 1:24 PM on December 15, 2003


It's very typical of the right wing these days to reduce anything that's not pro-Bush to "yet another drop in the ocean of liberal hatred," as if the content mattered not at all. As if "bush-hatred" were some kind of inborn disease, its main symptom arbitrary outrage.

People happen to care about issues that Bush engages in the course of his work. I have a personal hard on for education, social services, international cooperation, and the environment, not a vindictive death-wish for the Boosh. If he engages the issues in a way that matters to me, I'm going to care, goddamit. Don't tell me I'm just lathering in arbitrary, inarticulate hate. I only wish I could take every headline I see and throw it in a uniform ocean of "Bush Badness" and forget about it. But shit that matters continues to happen, to coin a phrase.

If all you see is anti-Bush, Seth, then perhaps you're reading from a slant. Not that your interpretation is invalid, but just because that's all *you* see doesn't mean that's all anyone sees.

Scroll down, christian soldier.
posted by scarabic at 1:34 PM on December 15, 2003


People happen to care about issues that Bush engages in the course of his work. I have a personal hard on for education, social services, international cooperation, and the environment, not a vindictive death-wish for the Boosh. If he engages the issues in a way that matters to me, I'm going to care, goddamit. Don't tell me I'm just lathering in arbitrary, inarticulate hate. I only wish I could take every headline I see and throw it in a uniform ocean of "Bush Badness" and forget about it. But shit that matters continues to happen, to coin a phrase.

[/sarcasm]

Yes, when the left get angry, it's because they care so much. They're such evolved beings that they're past normal human tendencies like grudge-holding, axe-grinding, ad hominem attacks, snobbery, and self-righteousness.

[sarcasm]

Yeah, the right wing is mean and stupid too, but at least they don't pretend not to be.
posted by jonmc at 1:41 PM on December 15, 2003


some runny, smelly french cheese, like maybe from Paris or Paramus? ; >
posted by amberglow at 1:44 PM on December 15, 2003


(boy, that looks weird without the comment immediately preceding it)
posted by amberglow at 1:45 PM on December 15, 2003


Color me biased, but a big portion of why I come to Metafilter *IS* the HateBushFilter threads. More and most importantly better substantiated HaBuFi posts, please!
posted by Ryvar at 1:52 PM on December 15, 2003


sorry , the anti bush is just boring , it actually makes me feel sorry for the man, this hooray ! we got somebody to hate ! thing comin out of people is actually starting to make bush look good.
posted by sgt.serenity at 2:58 PM on December 15, 2003


ray-
We should all re-read that thread. It is golden.

Iraq has weapons of mass destruction. It is on the verge of having nuclear weapons. This is too obvious to need more elaboration.
posted by ParisParamus at 6:36 AM PST on November 28


The American Right: It's too obvious to need more elaboration.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 2:59 PM on December 15, 2003


"Idiots like plep, hama7, and madamjujujive? What an idiotic thing to say."

Obviously I was using hyperbole to make a point.

Obviously plep, hama7, and madamjujujive aren't idiots. They seem like very nice and intelligent people who contribute a great deal to the MetaFilter community. Which makes it all the more strange that they keep posting idiotic things. If I were in charge they would, of course, have to be banned.
posted by y6y6y6 at 3:13 PM on December 15, 2003


jonmc - are you familiar with the term "reductive?" You provide us a pristine example of exactly the kind of polarizing reduction I was talking about. When I turn up to categorize your every thread and comment as "Bush-Living Rah-Rah-Rah" perhaps you will understand what I mean.

Oh, and you don't know how to use tags, so don't.
posted by scarabic at 3:23 PM on December 15, 2003


that's "Loving" to you and me.
posted by scarabic at 3:24 PM on December 15, 2003


Or because Cheney went to a private hunt club, he is somehow Hitler-esque.

Well, yeah, but not for the reason you quote.

*da-dump tish*

Yay! Am I one of the Contentious Twenty now? (or was I already?)

For my part, I tried for a while to stay away from the repeated criticism of America's fine President and his Happy Fun Death Squad, I did, but I've lapsed recently.

So, you know, sorry and all that.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:33 PM on December 15, 2003


(Also, offtopic but possibly germane given the nature of the thread: I have vanishingly little interest in online museum type links too, which proves what a philistine boob I am, perhaps, but I am very happy indeed to see links to such on the front page, even if I can't be bothered to follow 'em. Nothing wrong with a little culture. So poop on y6.)
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:52 PM on December 15, 2003


Jonmc - It used to be, you'd hear reasonable arguments from both sides and more often than not learn something new, or at least gain a better understanding of the opposite viewpoint. These days, it's such bloodsport that it's turned me off of political involvement almost completely, and I can't be the only one.

I certainly left due to the same thing. Not worth it. There is a small group that continually posts anti-Bush/Ashcroft/Republicans newsfilter items ... generally with snide little one-liners in the FPP text. They do not want reasoned debate.

foldy -May I suggest you (and others like you) come up with a little more mature way of handling such criticisms besides stupidly pigeonholing foreign or uncomfortable ideas as "hatred".

Last time I decided it might be worth it to comment on a political post - after a couple of months of absence, Starvos responded with "Crawl back under your rock, Midas." Is this the standard of "maturity" you'd invite anyone disputing your ideas to adhere to? And perhaps it is worth considering that the most "foreign and uncomfortable idea" here is that Seth might be right ... that a good number of these posts are motivated by, and do contain explicitly expressed hatred of Bush.

Seth - Good try. But it's been tried continually - and the people that have turned MeFi into what it is will simply never stop. They have the board they want ... and will enforce conformity to their viewpoint (and accuse you of trying to "shut them up" if you raise the point - even in a polite, reasonable way). Alternative perspectives are not welcome here.

Your only two choices are:
1. Stay, and live with it; or
2. Leave.

The sad thing is that if MeFi has to be part newsfilter, it could be a pretty interesting one ... if a few standards were set, and enforced.

For instance, instead of the norm ... the daily links to one-sided op-ed pieces (with taglines that verge on being the very definition of the word "troll") ... how about a standard in which people are invited to raise topics, and include op-ed pieces, but must provide links to articles with multiple viewpoints.

For instance, today's FPP's included "Ashcroft and FBI not doing enough to fight domestic terrorism." Of course, it turned into a bust ... very few comments, little of substance, and the usual cheap shots ("Ashcroft isn't here to fight domestic terrorism - he's here to fight domestic dissent.", "All hail Ashcroft!"). Seth, upon mentioning that it is "Newsfilter", is accused of saying this because he cannot "refute" it. (Somewhat bizarre, since the little actual evidence that is in the op-ed piece seems to be self-refuting ... it contains examples of the FBI actually catching and convicting domestic terrorists).

Point is, this could have been an interesting thread. Instead of being simply the daily troll - the excuse to accuse Ashcroft of something - the larger issue could have been raised ... i.e., in a post-9/11 world, in which there are credible threats coming from foreign terrorists that do require significant law enforcement resources and attention, how should the government balance the need to address these threats against the need to continue to try to guard against domestic threats? This is a powerful issue ... that the FBI itself wrestles with internally.

There is no easy answer. But (as with many such issues) there are several dominant perspectives. If articles containing those perspectives were presented in the FPP, in an even-handed way, then those multiple perspectives being discussed by MeFi members with multiple viewpoints could make for a very interesting discussion. Instead, we get a single, predictable NYT op-ed piece with one narrow point of view, introduced by an inflammatory FPP tagline, leading to an even more predictable thread that quickly fizzles.

So that's my suggestion to Matt: Continue to permit op-ed FPP's and newsfilter, but elevate it. Require that any newsfilter FPPs contain links to at least two opposing perspectives on an issue (if not more ... as most major issues are invariably quite nuanced). And summarily delete any newsfilter thread that does not do this.

This is a means of acknowledging that despite your continued requests, part of MeFi will always be political newsfilter FPPs, and choosing to make the best of it. It will encourage participation by anyone that does genuinely want a reasoned discussion that invites multiple viewpoints (and I have a feeling you might see a number of people that have left in disgust return to discussions).

While it will probably deeply piss off people that have been accustomed to using MeFi FPPs as their personal ax-grinding soapboxes - and if they want to continue to initiate such threads, force them to acknowledge (and indeed, even look for) legitimate opposing perspectives - I suspect the community as a whole might be much improved for it.

PS. Obviously, there isn't a chance in hell this - or anything like it - will be considered. MeFi is what it is. Love it or leave it. But it is wrong to complain without offering an alternative.

And don't worry starvos ... this was my one thread for this quarter ... I'll go "crawl back under my rock" now.
posted by MidasMulligan at 4:18 PM on December 15, 2003


So I'm just wondering: does this all mean that Elf Bowling is a bad post because it doesn't encourage balanced debate and because posts like it - which we have to see every day - are making Metafilter a haven for silly Flash game lovers while Flash game haters are left in the cold?
posted by badstone at 4:33 PM on December 15, 2003


This would be a good topic were it not for the utter disingenuousness of the poster.

Lesson for the slow: Disagreement isn't hate. Repeat that to yourself until the neurons fire in such a way as you actually understand this.
posted by Space Coyote at 4:34 PM on December 15, 2003


Do not taunt Happy Fun Death Squad.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 4:36 PM on December 15, 2003


I'm with Midas. If you post op/eds, post several on the topic with differing views. Let us do the compare/contrast in the comments.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 4:41 PM on December 15, 2003


it's nice to be lectured about the "fair and balanced" Foxnews thing by a guy who, before sulking towards one of the many self-imposed hiatuses, made fun of all us Pinkos here for being skeptical about the "Jessica Lynch fought to the death before being captured" fiction
I remember our friend being pretty sarcastic about the collective bias here, not enough users were swallowing the Pentagon's fiction.

heh

anyway, I'm sorry you went away Midas -- I can't avoid but love anybody who has the balls to define himself as "a Wall Street Player" like you did.

but at least, by avoiding MeFi, you'll have more time to check under your bed for commies -- you cannot trust the hired help with these bedroom security tasks
posted by matteo at 4:43 PM on December 15, 2003


"So poop on y6."

For the record, and if anyone cares, which I don't think they should, because I'm a troll, and before I sub-reference again, I can't think of a more appropriate reaction to anything I've said in this thread.

My own ideas about what MetaFilter should be seem wildly out of line with the mainstream here. I feel pooped on because MetaFilter isn't what I think it should be. Seth feels the same way. Seth is tired of the poo'ed on. Tough for us both.
posted by y6y6y6 at 4:49 PM on December 15, 2003


If MeFi turned into what we all think it ideally should be it would get far less traffic, as stav's comment about being thankful someone posts museum links even though he never looks at them illustrates so well. I'm the same way, I'm afraid, a bit too much of a sucker for a flamefest.
posted by Space Coyote at 4:53 PM on December 15, 2003


matteo, you took the one cogent remark in this thread and casually flung it aside by snidly remarking on Midas's history. well done.

and Midas, bravo.
posted by poopy at 4:54 PM on December 15, 2003


Why do people assume that just because we don't want to see Bush bashin' on the blue that we're pro-Bush? I loathe Bush just as much (if not more) than the rest of you, but I really don't feel the need to preach to the choir. Or be preached at by the choir.

Go to Plastic if you want left-wing self-congratulatory masturbatory groupthink or LGF for right-wing self-congratulatory masturbatory groupthink. Let's keep Metafilter a neutral Switzerland.
posted by keswick at 5:00 PM on December 15, 2003


I would like to make this known:

I am not going to vote for Howard Dean. Ever. Get over it.

That is all. Carry on.
posted by Stan Chin at 5:04 PM on December 15, 2003


oh, come on, people, seriously.

I hate Bush as much of the next guy, and cringe whenever I see the doofus on TV. But this Iraq thing is a legitimate debate with legitimate opinions on all sides. Personal attacks look like you don't have anything legitimate to say. And when that hurts the side of the cause that I believe in, that drags my credibility down a notch.

If it gets you that worked up, there's a lot of message boards out there for that kind of crap. Some of them even have little icons that let everyone know what kind of mood you're in!

Oh, and nobody cares what Paul Krugman or Tom Friedman thinks. And if they did, they would read their columns on nytimes.com instead of finding them here.

In other words, STFU.

Kind regards,
PrinceValium
posted by PrinceValium at 5:05 PM on December 15, 2003


poopy: Why wasn't it relevant, exactly? If he said he'd done that too, I would've been vastly more sympathetic. But it's more or less pointing the finger at everyone else, and then saying that you left for this reason, leaving no indication that you may have engaged in the same practice. I don't remember reading what matteo talked about, but if it happened it's certainly relevant.
posted by raysmj at 5:19 PM on December 15, 2003


Or do you mean the very last part? If so, nevermind. (Ducks into a corner.)
posted by raysmj at 5:21 PM on December 15, 2003


just one more year...elections...just one more year....just one more year... *cries*
posted by konolia at 5:21 PM on December 15, 2003


Just because you and I think the anti-Bush posts are pointless doesn't mean they should be banned.

y6y6y6: That's a little bit strong. I don't think anybody said that these posts should be banned, here. A lot of us just wish to see less of them. And likewise, some of the people who you said find those posts useful and interesting can't get enough of them. Therefore we're having our little discussion here.

Then let Matt decide whether to delete posts that violate his vision; send emails to members who violate the vision; or reprimand those who violate his vision, Seth.

terrapin, There's no reason to believe the venues you suggested are superior to seth's choice of posting in MetaTalk. I believe MeTa is intended for discussions about Metafilter itself, so it is the correct place for etiquette/policy suggestions. Actually... Don't they even have a whole category named just that?

And matteo, you are an unrelentless troll aren't you, you pinko-terrorist?
posted by VeGiTo at 5:23 PM on December 15, 2003


raysmj, forget about any individual differences and listen to the argument instead. it makes a lot of sense:

There is no easy answer. But (as with many such issues) there are several dominant perspectives. If articles containing those perspectives were presented in the FPP, in an even-handed way, then those multiple perspectives being discussed by MeFi members with multiple viewpoints could make for a very interesting discussion. Instead, we get a single, predictable NYT op-ed piece with one narrow point of view, introduced by an inflammatory FPP tagline, leading to an even more predictable thread that quickly fizzles...

...This is a means of acknowledging that despite your continued requests, part of MeFi will always be political newsfilter FPPs, and choosing to make the best of it. It will encourage participation by anyone that does genuinely want a reasoned discussion that invites multiple viewpoints (and I have a feeling you might see a number of people that have left in disgust return to discussions).

posted by poopy at 5:26 PM on December 15, 2003


I can't think of a more appropriate reaction to anything I've said in this thread.

I wasn't serious about the pooping, y6. *gives him noogies*

And don't worry starvos ... this was my one thread for this quarter ... I'll go "crawl back under my rock" now.

OK, bye-bye, Midas. See you in 2004!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:33 PM on December 15, 2003


kanolia: Good luck wishing that the election will change anything, especially with the economy going the direction it is going and all that "rah-rah" with the capture of Saddam.

seth: Let them whine all they want about Bush - ain't gonna change a thing. The only thing I'm waiting now is a surprise capture of bin Laden (or find him dead) a few months before election. That would put the final nail in the coffin of this matter.

BTW, what's good for Bush is good for stocks. =]
posted by VeGiTo at 5:37 PM on December 15, 2003


BTW, what's good for Bush is good for stocks. =]
is that so?
posted by amberglow at 5:44 PM on December 15, 2003


looks like we need a heavier rock.
posted by quonsar at 5:50 PM on December 15, 2003


That would put the final nail in the coffin of this matter.

i am amazed that veggiehead and others think that bush winning re-election will "put the final nail in the coffin of this matter". bush is the living antithesis of everything approximately one half of americans beleive. if the other half is stupid enough to re-elect him, you think the noise will stop? shit. i'll never stop castigating that bloated fratboy bastard. when that piece of good old boy shit drops dead i'll celebrate. until then, i'll continue to point out what a deluded fascist anti-american poseur he is. mida$mulligan and pari$paramu$ and george bu$h are self-serving, money worshipping creeps who crave a nation which rewards theft and deception and favors the corrupt.

on another matter, ignorant dorks who don't know any better keep talking about newsfilter as if mefi was ever anything else. the archives are there for your perusal, i recommend you check it out before buying into the phony history lesson.
posted by quonsar at 6:04 PM on December 15, 2003


quonsar: "That would put the final nail in the coffin of this matter" as in the matter of who will win the election, not the baseless (and ineffective) whine that pinko-terrorists will continue to spit out.

(I love that term by the way, thanx matteo =)
posted by VeGiTo at 6:10 PM on December 15, 2003


Let's keep Metafilter a neutral Switzerland.

When was Metafilter ever a neutral Switzerland? I've been hanging around here all these years partly because it isn't unbiased. Its culture and values are, for the most part, those of reasonably well educated middle to upper-middle class creative professionals, and that's why I feel comfortable here. The demographic lines have blurred over the years, and I doubt there are any substantial areas of consensus left, but MetaFilter has been LeftyFilter as long as it has existed. This, right now, is the most "balanced" MetaFilter's culture has ever been.
posted by Mars Saxman at 6:15 PM on December 15, 2003


indeed. the entire "end of mefi as we knew it" meme is largely the invention of those crawling out from under their metatalk rocks from time to time.
posted by quonsar at 6:20 PM on December 15, 2003


Good post up there, quonsar!
*rushes to wash hands - unclean... unCLEAN!*

I feel pooped on because MetaFilter isn't what I think it should be. Seth feels the same way. Seth is tired of the poo'ed on. Tough for us both.

Sheesh. Get a room, you two.
posted by squirrel at 6:36 PM on December 15, 2003


quonsar and Mars Saxman: so, you're basically saying, 'hey, leave it alone, we're doing just fine without your rocking the boat"? well, by all means, enjoy your luxury cruise.

Seth's post raises a different concern than the usual "end of mefi as we knew it" meme. this is a specific request: can we conduct political discussions with some kind of discourse other than the usual blather? the iraq situation has exposed some profound questions on the possible abuses of a world power vs. the threat of that nations' safety, not to mention the fact that terrorism (as a relatively modern form of warfare) isn't solely usa-centric. this presents many potentially engaging debates that have been needlessly squandered here because of a certain mob mentality.
posted by poopy at 6:48 PM on December 15, 2003


I can't see how being fair and balanced gets you anywhere at all. Here we have mr. y6y6y6 throwing stones at the "culture" camp, and yet I certainly do my best to be nonpartisan by representing the counter-culture ethic with posts on a piano-playing penis, dancing boobies, and the tampon thread.

Did that curmudgeonly lump of redundant letters and numbers even notice my forays into the vapid and the vulgar in my attempt to be even-handed? Huh, I think not, he's now he's wishing me banned. He's a hater, that one.

I am only speaking for myself. Plep and hama7, on the other hand, may indeed be idiots ;-)
posted by madamjujujive at 6:53 PM on December 15, 2003


Mars Saxman: Its culture and values are, for the most part, those of reasonably well educated middle to upper-middle class creative professionals.

Translation: "Those of other NPR-listening web designers and bloggers living in San Francisco, the greater pacific northwest, and other trendier/artsier urban spots. I.e., the only people I associate with."

Can't see the forest for the trees.
posted by tirade at 6:55 PM on December 15, 2003


unrelentless troll aren't you, you pinko-terrorist?

yelps the kettle.


i have been trying (trying is key word here) to contribute more quality and less quantity on this front - the quality bush related posts (for or against bush) i visit mefi for a couple times a day. i'd like to see more on his less visible war that will affect us and our childrens lives forever: his war on the environment.

the web (and world) is big place seth ... if you don't like what's on people's minds at mefi - go somewhere else ... or put down your mouse and go for a walk ...
posted by specialk420 at 7:17 PM on December 15, 2003


We see the forests , tirade. Just not for long.
posted by squirrel at 7:20 PM on December 15, 2003


Jinx, specialk420!
posted by squirrel at 7:22 PM on December 15, 2003


"He's a hater, that one."

No. I'm a lover. A very very cranky lover.

And I'd ban all sorts of people if I was in charge. Which is why I'm happy I'm not in charge. MetaFilter under my guiding hand would suck. Seriously.
posted by y6y6y6 at 7:33 PM on December 15, 2003


"can we conduct political discussions with some kind of discourse other than the usual blather?..."

There is another way of looking at this issue - if you, as a Metafilter member posting a link, were to think of each potentially politically contentious post as a hypothesis which you would be willing to back up with facts and links.....but, alas, that would rule out a lot of great material.

Still - on the perpetual decline of Metafilter - why are we getting so worked up? After all, Western Civilization has been sliding downhill for a few thousand years. But maybe the topological space is non-Euclidian.
posted by troutfishing at 7:46 PM on December 15, 2003


And on the issue of the criteria themselves : consider the best of the web - best for whom?

Who decides what is best? Could this amount to rough consensus of all members of the site about the critieria for "best" ?
posted by troutfishing at 8:00 PM on December 15, 2003


Seth, here are your comments. By my count, onyl three of them are in threads not pertaining to George W. Bush.

This begs a question: are you frustrated that people persist in posting about Bush, or frustrated because people here don't like him? If it's the former, as you claim in this post, I suggest you practice what you preach.

Self policing works by example.
posted by Yelling At Nothing at 8:03 PM on December 15, 2003


I've just skimmed this thread and agree more than you think with the original post here. It's getting tiresome and I see MetaFilter held up as a mockery of "the left" increasingly often and say stuff like "jeez, these people (posting at mefi) need to get a grip, the bush/the world/the war's not that bad."

Seriously, it's getting old an unless the latest bit of news really uncovers something major, I don't know why every little damn thing the bush admin does needs to be posted here. It reminds me of all the clinton hatred of the last presidency and it makes me sad to see us all take the discourse down to the nit-picky borderline-conspiracy level. That's for dittoheads, not "reasonably well educated middle to upper-middle class creative professionals." It pains me to watch my friends devote so much energy to this stuff.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 8:03 PM on December 15, 2003


poopy: Why wasn't it relevant, exactly? If he said he'd done that too, I would've been vastly more sympathetic. But it's more or less pointing the finger at everyone else, and then saying that you left for this reason, leaving no indication that you may have engaged in the same practice. I don't remember reading what matteo talked about, but if it happened it's certainly relevant.

raysmj ... on the off chance that Matt is reading this, perhaps it's worth it to answer this. The "practice" I'm talking about is specifically the one that Seth addressed: HateBushFilter FPP's. The point I was making is that the MeFi community is damaged by the continual barrage of nearly daily Bush/Ashcroft/Republicans=evil FPP's, that take a single, one-sided perspective on an issue, and accentuate it with a trollish tagline. This sets the tone for most of the discussion within any thread. Once that tone is set, things will turn into nasty flame wars rather than reasoned discussions. If I'm going to be in a battle, I'll fight on the terms that are set. If it is cheap, nasty one-liners and personal attacks - fine. But after a time, this isn't much fun anymore. And certainly not as stimulating as intellectual discussions that invite multiple perspectives ... which is what MeFi could sometimes be.

My argument here is not that the discourse within threads should be altered at all ... but rather, that requiring a different tone to be set by people initiating threads, many more perspectives might feel it worth it to contribute, and the tenor of the threads might change for the better.

And for what it is worth, while my comments within threads certainly got, at times, as nasty as the cheap shots directed at me (and continue to be directed at me every time I say a word here ... including in this thread), I posted very few FPPs (and by the way, none that linked to op-ed pieces) ... and the two or three I did post that related to anything political in fact did attempt to do most of what I'm suggesting here ... raise a topic, and invite multiple viewpoints.

While there are a few that are apparently just going to see my name, and launch the predictable oh-so-clever one-liners (that serve to completely avoid the topic), maybe those who want to really discuss what more than one person sees as problems with MeFi tone might entertain the following idea ... to take today's Ashcroft post as (the most convenient) example ... contrast it:
-------------------------------------
Ashcroft and FBI not doing enough to fight domestic terrorism. More information on the Krar posion gas plot at thememoryhole.org.
------------------------------------
with something like this:
------------------------------------
Changing Priorities: Foreign vs. Domestic Counter-terrorism. 9/11 obviously shifted FBI priorities substantially. Prior to 9/11, some thought warnings about terrorism threats were "hype". We're now being warned that we've forgotten about domestic terrorism. While voices on the right argue for zero tolerance towards domestic terrorism, the left invites us to solve terrorism with progressive thought. Is there a mean between the extremes? Have we achieved it? Are we spending too much, or not enough, on counter-terrorism?
------------------------------------

Same topic. But is not the former likely to produce little other than junk ... and the latter more likely to invite more voices, and a better discussion? And even if you do want to bash Ashcroft ... wouldn't the latter actually provide an opportunity, an environment, that invites greater detail about why?

Would it not actually ... just possibly ... make MeFi quite a different forum if every political FPP were required to present, and invite, multiple perspectives?
posted by MidasMulligan at 8:04 PM on December 15, 2003


the iraq situation has exposed some profound questions on the possible abuses of a world power vs. the threat of that nations' safety, not to mention the fact that terrorism (as a relatively modern form of warfare) isn't solely usa-centric. this presents many potentially engaging debates that have been needlessly squandered here because of a certain mob mentality.

the iraq situation has exposed some glaringly obvious examples of unarguable abuses of a world power, which only increase the danger to this nation. "potentially engaging debates" are simply an opportunity for overly verbose apologists to bury the truth under heaping mountains of blather and rationalization: this country, at the behest of the demonstrably insane fundamentalist president, against the better counsel of most of the planet, arbitrarily undertook the invasion of another country, a 4th rate military power that presented no immediate threat to the u.s., and this was done for personal reasons and for financial gain. what the fuck is there to debate?
posted by quonsar at 8:07 PM on December 15, 2003


That's a great rewrite of the post Midas, though it would take significant resources to devote the necessary energy to be that type of editor, but it would be nice if users "stepped it up" a few notches, I don't think I could get users to put that much time into researching a post, even though it is much, much better and might lead to interesting discussions.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 8:12 PM on December 15, 2003

why every little damn thing the bush admin does needs to be posted here. It reminds me of all the clinton hatred
... and regardless of political affiliation, it will continue with the next president, and the next, and the next ...

That's just what politics does to discussion forums, regardless of medium.
posted by mischief at 8:13 PM on December 15, 2003


madamjujujive:
Well then by all means, bring on the left-wing dancing boobie posts.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 8:18 PM on December 15, 2003


That's just what politics does to discussion forums, regardless of medium.

And why it has no place here. Why can't we just agree that, on any given day, whatever is on cnn.com or even whatever alt news site is never, ever, ever, the "best of the web", and as such, should never be posted.
posted by tirade at 8:24 PM on December 15, 2003


this country, at the behest of the demonstrably insane fundamentalist president, against the better counsel of most of the planet, arbitrarily undertook the invasion of another country, a 4th rate military power that presented no immediate threat to the u.s., and this was done for personal reasons and for financial gain. what the fuck is there to debate?

quonsar, surely you must see that this is an emotionally, one-sided loaded question? i agree with the premise, i just don't understand the 'oreillyesque' shit attached to it. i've seen metafilter debate a hot topic like abortion better than this.
posted by poopy at 8:29 PM on December 15, 2003


Metafilter: It pains me to watch my friends devote so much energy to this stuff.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 8:36 PM on December 15, 2003


mathowie, thank you for reading this thread.
Regarding "getting users to put that much time into researching a post", if you do not ask for something, you do not stand a chance of getting it. I think a very strong message on the post page will make a difference.
posted by MzB at 8:48 PM on December 15, 2003


indeed. the entire "end of mefi as we knew it" meme is largely the invention of those crawling out from under their metatalk rocks from time to time.

Where can I get one of these MetaTalk rocks? I don't see one at CafePress or anything....
posted by namespan at 8:57 PM on December 15, 2003


though it would take significant resources to devote the necessary energy to be that type of editor

mathowie - it took all of five or ten minutes. I think the time & energy it takes to generate an FPP that produces a thoughtful, wide-ranging discussion is about the same as it takes to generate a one-sided, trollish FPP that is almost guaranteed to go into the toilet. It is the intent that matters.

I've got enormous amounts of respect for you and your work, and am quite sad at the subtle, but noticable trend of MeFi. I did have friends, a couple of years ago, that never posted, but did read MeFi periodically. Like myself, however, fewer of them stop by anymore, and those that do only do so occasionally. MeFi has almost become a parody of itself.

It did not used to be catgorized as a "lefty" board ... it was unusual in that it did seem to have a pretty wide range of perspectives ... and that meant that my right-wing and libertarian friends would read it, and would hear some of the more articulate left-wing arguments they may not have bothered to read otherwise ... i.e., because the discussions were more varied, the impact was wider.

Despite the denials by those in the sandbox, it is increasingly being perceived as just another lefty board (and I suspect you are aware that the perception of MeFi in the larger world is, indeed, shifting). The paradox is that the more strident the left-wing voices become, the more they wind up speaking only to each other.
posted by MidasMulligan at 9:01 PM on December 15, 2003


Holy hannah, MidasFilter would totally rock.

Matt, any chance you'd point to that comment in the sideblog as an example?
posted by weston at 9:02 PM on December 15, 2003


mathowie makes the clearest statement yet about the political crap here and everyone shouts over him.

Seth, I agree with you 100%, but this thread shows that you're crying in the wilderness. Me, I'm going to AskMetafilter.
posted by timeistight at 9:04 PM on December 15, 2003


{throws self in front of idiot bullet fired at madamjujujive}
posted by clavdivs at 9:12 PM on December 15, 2003


quonsar, surely you must see that this is an emotionally, one-sided loaded question?

um, no. reading over my screeds tonight it's become clear to me i've lost any sense of perspective. this is not mefi's fault. apologies to all. i need a break.
posted by quonsar at 9:15 PM on December 15, 2003


Where can I get one of these MetaTalk rocks? I don't see one at CafePress or anything...

CafePress won't print on dark grays. If you want a white rock, though, it apparently costs $16.99 to run it through an inkjet printer.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:21 PM on December 15, 2003


I've just skimmed this thread and agree more than you think with the original post here. It's getting tiresome and I see MetaFilter held up as a mockery of "the left" increasingly often and say stuff like "jeez, these people (posting at mefi) need to get a grip, the bush/the world/the war's not that bad."

Seriously, it's getting old an unless the latest bit of news really uncovers something major, I don't know why every little damn thing the bush admin does needs to be posted here. It reminds me of all the clinton hatred of the last presidency and it makes me sad to see us all take the discourse down to the nit-picky borderline-conspiracy level. That's for dittoheads, not "reasonably well educated middle to upper-middle class creative professionals." It pains me to watch my friends devote so much energy to this stuff.


That's fine, but keep in mind there are those of us--unless I'm the only one--who see threads about ridiculously overhyped, boring "innovations" by google, apple, et al and roll our eyes at what a waste of time these absolutely pointless "advancements" are. I have almost zero interest in 75% of the technology-related threads here because it doesn't interest me. If people want to spend their time discussing it, though, I might have a bit of a chuckle, but I certainly don't care. I've always been of the mind that people can spend their time talking and caring about almost anything they want, and I'll feel free to disagree with them at my leisure. I mean, really, life is a pretty aimless affair, and, as such, dictating the importance of certain matters over others is at best an exercise in advice and nothing more.

As has been pointed out, there is maybe a 10-15% level of Bush-related threads being posted to the blue. I think a slightly-higher-than-normal political atmosphere is to be expected when the world's superpower decides to lie and kill its way into billions (or trillions) of dollars for its government and the companies attached to it.

Let's keep Metafilter a neutral Switzerland.

Yeah, let's not form opinions on anything ever, unless it's Matrix Revolutions or the new iDrug ;)
posted by The God Complex at 9:38 PM on December 15, 2003


Why clavdivs, thank you! And you too, my friend eddydamascene.

"He's a hater, that one."
y6x3, just for the record, I meant that in jest, guy. You may be cranky on occasion, but all the good things you do for the community redeem you ;-)
posted by madamjujujive at 9:38 PM on December 15, 2003


it's become clear to me i've lost any sense of perspective.

It was 80% on the money and 20% too true for me to reasonably agree with ;)
posted by The God Complex at 9:39 PM on December 15, 2003


The God Complex: Why's it so hard to believe that lots of people might be interested in high-tech stuff when it's a Internet gathering place? I first came to metafilter after laughing hysterically at a Segway thread (then only known as Ginger/IT). I only found out about the politics later - and I'm a PoliSci doctoral student, already - and then realized the potential for democratic debate and community building here. Or rather, I realized I was seeing the Future of the Internet and political communication in general, in some fashion.

I see no problem with a site's being dominated by left or right-leaners, by the way. That's OK, great really, but only as long as it doesn't become a total echo chamber. (Sites such as A Small Victory, in this regard, have no reason to talk about metafilter.) But I too think Bush is a horrible president, do see the war as that bad (said so, before anyone on here, although I could've put it in a better way) and still ignore many nit-picky threads of the Hallburton-did-this-today variety. They are being overdone, and Seth was partially correct, even if he pretty much single-handedly ruined the campaign finance thread, which was a non-cliched and highly relevant topic -- and thus lost a smidgen of my sympathy.
posted by raysmj at 10:14 PM on December 15, 2003


In that political and news posts can become repetitive and boring, I completely agree with the poster.

I really dig any posts that show me something interesting and new new or at least shiny. Unfortunately, poli posts too often tend to be a rehash+1 or minor story and end up just not being interesting or noteworthy.
posted by rudyfink at 10:18 PM on December 15, 2003


i love museum posts !

i loathe apple threads and bush threads .
honestly , the fact that you hate george bush really loses its interest after a while , other peoples obsessions are very boring.
This reminds me not of clinton , but of the way the left tried to oppose reagan/thatcher , the more extreme it got the more the right could point to it and justify their remaining in office.
posted by sgt.serenity at 10:18 PM on December 15, 2003

Why can't we just agree that, on any given day, whatever is on cnn.com or even whatever alt news site is never, ever, ever, the "best of the web", and as such, should never be posted
Because quite obviously a significant number of registered MeFi users simply do not agree with that. You can bitch and moan all you want, but not everyone shares your perspective.
posted by mischief at 10:27 PM on December 15, 2003


I have always been content to simply skip the FPP's that do not interest me; I am simply following the premise that no website will be 100% to my taste 100% of the time. Having said that-- and despite my many sympathies with the 'loathing of Bush' position-- I *always* find it disappointing when any FPP comes from the front page of The New York Times, or Yahoo News. It is difficult to not come across these stories 100 different times in any given day. When these "Front Page" stories are FPP's I think it can be assumed that the poster has no illusion that this will be "new" information for the MeFi community. Thus, it seems the posts are being made out of a desire to have a community discussion of the matter du jour. I (personally) have never found the discussions as interesting as the FPP's that take me to some new corner of the web, some new corridor of thought or crevice of unique knowledge that is so abundant, but buried in the vast hinterlands of the 'net. I guess, in the end I am reminded of a comment Matt made in the thread about what kind of new members he'd like to see when he re-opens new logins: 'not those who will just re-post whatever is on Boing-Boing this week.' In the same spirit, I long for the posts that simply do not re-post Headline News. Lastly, having made a few FPP's myself, I can say that (for me) in a primary-school-I-have-more-crayons-than-you sort of way, the more comments one gets on a FPP the more exciting it is. In some Pavlovian sense, a FPP lifted from partison-cleaving headlines, is way more apt to get any MeFi dog drooling, and hence it is hopelessly reinforcing. 50, 80, 100 comments! Bzzzzzzz!
posted by limitedpie at 10:34 PM on December 15, 2003


As I think about this a little more I am compelled to ask-- seriously and not rhetorically-- (and look forward to your answers): Is the soul of metafilter the community discussion ("weblog as discussion") or is the soul if mefi the unique and special ("most people haven't seen it before, there is something interesting about the content on the page...") If it is the former, these type of (contentious "newsfilter") posts seem totally legit. If the latter, there is no place for it here. Perhaps this MeTa battle is simply the ideological fight for the soul of MeFi. So which is it?
posted by limitedpie at 10:44 PM on December 15, 2003


I don't think it has to be one or the other. It's the blending of the two that makes it special.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 10:47 PM on December 15, 2003


Fair enough mr_crash_davis. I too am not so much a fan of dualistic, mutually exclusive dictums. But I think reframing the question this way at least gets closer to the heart of the matter, and helps get past reducing the question to the mutually exclusive and facile dualism of haters versus right-wing apologists.
posted by limitedpie at 10:51 PM on December 15, 2003


limited pie: Can you be for a middle ground somewhere? Is it all black and white? I most like reading now about stories about politics and civic affairs that I cannot easily find elsewhere or that haven't been discussed much elsewhere.

But that's hard. I haven't been great at finding which ones will get people to talking. You can link to documents and such that are related to political events, but hardly anyone will get them. (For instance, I put HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy's bizarre personal web page up, and hardly anyone got that it was supposed to be at least halfway funny) Then a CNN post on his indictment was posted and and more people had an opinion.) You can't just put up a Supreme Court decision (or a speech by a justice - I did one of those too), for those are too hard and/or long to read. Politics and sociopolitical events just lend themselves more to newsfilter posts, and not best-of-the-Internet posts. And then of course you're wanting to have the "weblog as discussion" part.

I hope this all makes sense. I've gotta go to bed.
posted by raysmj at 11:00 PM on December 15, 2003


Why's it so hard to believe that lots of people might be interested in high-tech stuff when it's a Internet gathering place? I first came to metafilter after laughing hysterically at a Segway thread (then only known as Ginger/IT). I only found out about the politics later - and I'm a PoliSci doctoral student, already - and then realized the potential for democratic debate and community building here. Or rather, I realized I was seeing the Future of the Internet and political communication in general, in some fashion.

It's not, in the exact same way it's not hard to believe that a number of people are interested in politics. That was my point.
posted by The God Complex at 11:03 PM on December 15, 2003


*drool*
Seriously, I'm honoured to be in such fine company.

Mr y6*3 may try to play a curmudgeonly geek on Metafilter but I know the truth is somewhat different; his interest in stone circles has crept through on occasion in the past.
posted by plep at 11:07 PM on December 15, 2003


raysmj: Of course I "can be" for a middle ground. As I tried to articulate in my reply to mr_crash_davis, I am generally not a fan of this either/or construction; further, as I wrote above: I would never expect any website to be 100% interesting (to me) 100% of the time. Hence am quite happy with how MeFi is presently. But, reframing "Seth's issue" (for lack of a better descriptor) away from a left/right battle and to the (imho) more appropriate debate of 'discussion of headlines' versus 'the unique of the web' will not only be more productive, but is also closer to the real issues at stake here.
posted by limitedpie at 11:10 PM on December 15, 2003


" 'discussion of headlines' versus 'the unique of the web' " : Done there, been that. ;-P
posted by mischief at 11:25 PM on December 15, 2003


Until this thread, I don't believe I've ever been tempted to start posting anti-Bush-administration politically charged links.

For the first time, I am.

Or maybe it's just indigestion.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:44 PM on December 15, 2003


Would it not actually ... just possibly ... make MeFi quite a different forum if every political FPP were required to present, and invite, multiple perspectives?

God what kind of idiocy inducing fungus do you eat under that rock or yours Midas?

Discussion loc! Yep, discussion is what most of us MeFites do when a post is made. You're the one who went away. Why?

You want different perspectives? Come awn back then. Your's and others' self flagellating exiles are just that. Self flagellating exiles. Nobody's stopping you from posting, commenting and returning for some good old jabs in Metatalk are they? Well then. . .
posted by crasspastor at 12:22 AM on December 16, 2003


While it will probably deeply piss off people that have been accustomed to using MeFi FPPs as their personal ax-grinding soapboxes - and if they want to continue to initiate such threads, force them to acknowledge (and indeed, even look for) legitimate opposing perspectives - I suspect the community as a whole might be much improved for it.

MidasMulligan-

While this is a noble suggestion, it seems to me that this is largely what "discussion" is all about. Arriving at something valuable by collaborating and/or competing, providing different points of view, arguments and counterarguments, until the whole ugly, complicated picture comes into full view.

No one is as smart as everyone, though you seem to want them to be. I don't understand why, if you think supplementary material will balance and mitigate these vicious Bush threads, you simply don't provide more of it. You pontificate a lot about the intolerance of the left-wingers here, but it takes balls to insist that your opponent include your point of view whenever he speaks.

Also - I'm finding your participation kind of confusing. This whole issue of your "leaving..." If you're here, you didn't leave. If you didn't leave, then there is no "reason" you left. But here you are, tallking about why you left. So I guess you were... what? momentarily frustrated by the discourse here, but came back for more?

Join the club, friend.
posted by scarabic at 1:45 AM on December 16, 2003


Discussion loc! Yep, discussion is what most of us MeFites do when a post is made. You're the one who went away. Why?

Maybe he went away becaus of comments like:

"God what kind of idiocy inducing fungus do you eat under that rock or yours Midas?"

I'll answer the question for him: it's got to be the same stuff that makes people think statements like that pass for "discussion."

I'll agree with the idea that if you want different perspectives, sometimes you have to be willing to be the odd man out. But to say "Nobody's stopping you from posting" in the same breath that you're throwing fungal dialogue around is to really miss the whole point: it's not that much harder to say things reasonably and politely rather than barfing the first disagreable invective that occurs to you onto the screen via the keyboard.
posted by namespan at 1:50 AM on December 16, 2003


I'll answer the question for him: it's got to be the same stuff that makes people think statements like that pass for "discussion."

On the subject of what keeps us coming back to Metafilter: It probably has to do with adding an entirely sarcastic remark within a community self-referential thread, in a totally ironic post. That's what I love.

I love not being serious and also at the same time being so. I love nobody getting me. I love being misconstrued. And yet I don't.

What does metafilter mean to me? I'm using it aren't I?

Ask Midas why he "does".
posted by crasspastor at 2:11 AM on December 16, 2003


The thing about Bush is that he is the leader of an extremely powerful foreign country whose foreign and domestic policies have a considerable impact on the foreign and domestic policy of my own country, both on the left and right wings of our political spectrum. These have largely been negative. Discussing or criticising Bush or Bush's policies does thus not have to be an attempt to influence the votes of individuals. The fact that the commentary tends to be negative rests largely with the fact that many of his policy decisions have a negative impact upon my country (or even my continent). How can such topics not be relevant subjects for debate on Metafilter?
posted by biffa at 2:54 AM on December 16, 2003


it's always safe to remember how, in the final analysis, Conservatives (or right-wingers, or whatever) own the White House (well, at least five ninths of it), Congress, SCOTUS, aggressive electronic and print media, are always bragging how progressives are split and Bush is going to be reelected in a 1972-stile landslide, and manage to pretend to feel besieged -- and whine about it -- anyway

God forbid there's a place where the consesus is, maybe, that Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld/Ashcroft are wrong.
and that their policies are dangerous

I agree that, if one is accustomed to the American *ahem* damn-liberal-media, it is kind of a surprise that the world outside of the Home Of The Brave is not at Bush's knees.
sadly, it is the truth -- most of non-USians have grave doubts about the wisdom of many of the WH choices
I'm sorry, but MeFi has non-USians members.
Welcome to the Real (as in, there are not many RNC around) World. Internet kind of gives a passport even to those who don't possess one, so to speak.
Welcome to a forum where opinion is not FoxNews-approved. As I said, I appreciate your being here. And feel free to provide links to back up your pro-Bush sentiments. Anti-war people provide links all the time, after all, don't they. Just check y2karl's cornucopia of links
but of course it's so much easier to attack others for being "shrill" and "biased", isn't it

It reminds me of all the clinton hatred of the last presidency

because of course Whitewater, Vince Foster's "homicide" and blowjobs are the same as Halliburton's sweet deals, a preemptive unilateral attack, cuts to Veteran's benefits and to GI's pay, Enron, budget-busting tax cuts for the rich, etc etc etc

It pains me to watch my friends devote so much energy to this stuff.

yes, I agree that the fact that the draft does not exist anymore in the US made young people a little, ahem, lazier, than their fathers -- who at least had to figure out a way to avoid a road trip to the beautiful rice paddies of Indochina.
if all able-bodied Americans here on MeFi had actually received draft cards in the last coupla years (free trip to Afghanistan/Iraq/insert name of future attacked country here), political discussion would be kind of livelier. as our fiftysomething American users would be probably ready to admit


*resists the urge of posting this cartoon in the thread*

just kidding
posted by matteo at 4:30 AM on December 16, 2003

No one is as smart as everyone, though you seem to want them to be. I don't understand why, if you think supplementary material will balance and mitigate these vicious Bush threads, you simply don't provide more of it. You pontificate a lot about the intolerance of the left-wingers here, but it takes balls to insist that your opponent include your point of view whenever he speaks.

Also - I'm finding your participation kind of confusing. This whole issue of your "leaving..." If you're here, you didn't leave. If you didn't leave, then there is no "reason" you left. But here you are, tallking about why you left. So I guess you were... what? momentarily frustrated by the discourse here, but came back for more?
Argh! Logic! HE'S USING LOGIC AND MAKING SENSE! NOOOOOOO!
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 7:47 AM on December 16, 2003


matteo, jesus christ, you are being an enormous asshole.

Seth's observation is on-point, and it's not. He complains about the glut of "anti-Bush"* links. The problem, as others have pointed out, is not that "anti-Bush" perspectives are being represented, but rather the amount of poor (verging on terrible) political FPPs. The level of discourse in these FPPs frequently sinks below that of Fox News, and they tend to engender the same level of debate within the comments. It doesn't matter if you self-identify as left or right, 'Scoop Jackson' or 'Jean Chretien' liberal; MidasMulligan is right. There's little balance here - and almost zero effort being made, by either political 'wing,' to remedy that. (And why does MidasMulligan's presence/absence here have any impact on the [in]validity of his statements?!)

Even if you hate Republican policies - especially if you do - it's our responsibility to try to elevate debate to an intelligent level. Society's going to continue to swerve between two polarities, never moving forward, unless we take the effort to understand our opponents. Conservatives are not greedy, heartless demons (although some are), the Left are not smug, jealous idiots (although some are).

If MetaFilter (and frankly, the world) resolved to work on producing better balanced, coherent, respectful discourse - to engage intelligently with those who disagree with them, to try to understand their values, learn from their insights - we would all benefit.

Instead of acting like retards and taking Seth's comment as a piece of Republican propaganda, why don't we consider whether we're truly representing the values of social justice and universal human rights when we brand, dismiss, spit-at, or deliberately misinterpret someone who supports different tax cuts than we do.
posted by Marquis at 8:03 AM on December 16, 2003


* I put "anti-Bush" in quotation marks because I think it's stupid to use a single monniker for all those who are critical of (a) particular government policies/policy. There is a wide field of such positions, and it's counter-productive to bunch them all into one thought-category: it's only use is for simplicity in conversation, or for (stupidly) dismissing the whole "camp" outright.
posted by Marquis at 8:07 AM on December 16, 2003


Seth - ("It is just that, for the first time in my life, the Republican party has been the one that cares for universal rights and is the progressive party.") - Your sense of the universalism of the Bush Administration concern for human rights might become a little more nuanced if you shifted your gaze to other parts of the world. In Columbia, for example, US government funded government forces and their paramilitary allies who are fighting a rebel insurgency have been accused of massive human rights violations such as wholesale killings, "disappearances", torture, and so on. The rebel groups have been also accused of major human rights violations but the bulk of the violations have been attributed to government and government associated forces.

Mathowie - I completely agree with Midas's point about the need for posts - at the risk of being longer and more time consuming - to present different perspectives. Midas's rewrite was great, I thought. Can Metafilter members who post political cuts at the Bush Administration make an effort to at least present one opposing viewpoint and perhaps a link to a more academic take on the subject?

That might be a lot. Still, Metafilter would benefit. There is a paradox here : the posters who want to make political points against the Bush Administration might be, in fact, undercutting their own self-appointed mission by driving away undecided readers who perceive, rightly or not, the forum as a form of political 'self gratification' (to put it politely).

On the other side of the equation lies the political polarization which has been ongoing in America - since the 2000 election at least. And - although Midas or others may be able to prove me wrong - I cannot think of any prominent democratic figures who would assert quite bluntly that that god is on the side of their candidate in the way that David Frum asserts "... it’s becoming increasingly difficult to doubt that God wants President Bush re-elected." ( David Frum ). Further, the "Democrats/critics as traitors" meme is being widely broadcast by the Republican punditocracy. Dave Neiwert, over at Orcinus, sees this sort of rhetoric as a possible precursor to fascistic, thuggish violence against dissenters - and the use of actual use of federally funded, disciplined state/police force against political dissenters has been tested recently in Miami.

These are some of the background reasons for the anti-Bush posts. Personally I think that it would advance the cause of some anti-Bush partisans to hold their fire a bit whilst assembling judicious and somewhat more "balanced" posts : Fewer posts w/ more links.

In a national atmosphere of ever louder shrieking rhetoric I suspect that the time has come for a bit more horse-whispering - sometimes quieter voices can be more effective.
posted by troutfishing at 8:29 AM on December 16, 2003


Metafilter Partisan Quotient : 6.3% (see new Metatalk post)
posted by troutfishing at 8:46 AM on December 16, 2003


Well - I guess not, since Metatalk posts about the actual numbers themselves - interesting in terms of coming to a more objective appreciation of the subject - will not be allowed outside this thread discussion. What a waste of typing....Anyway:

Total posts on Metafilter December 9th through December 13th : 142~

Total political posts : 16

"Anti-Bush" Posts : 11

"Pro-Bush" Posts : 2

Neutral, relatively judicious posts : 3

Politcal post quotient (to total posts) - 11.28%

"Anti-Bush" post quotient (to total posts) 7.75%

Adjusted "Anti-Bush" post quotient calculated by subracting the two "Pro-Bush" posts from the "Anti-Bush" count 6.34%
posted by troutfishing at 10:15 AM on December 16, 2003


You invited people to do their own statistics in the axed thread, troutfishing, so for some contrast, here are my own sums:

December 2-15 (I didn't start at Dec. 1 as it was AIDS day and thus, I thought, unrepresentative of normal MeFi activity.)

Total posts: ~290
Posts related to US federal/international politics: 33
Posts ~supportive of the Bush administration: 3
Posts ~critical of the Bush administration: 25
Posts neither pro/anti Bush administration: 5

According to my statistics, then, for Dec. 2-15, "anti Bush" posts made up 9% of total MeFi output, and formed 76% of front-page American political discourse on MetaFilter.

Playing the numbers game is obviously fruitless (lies, damned lies, etc.), but I thought it was important to provide some balance to troutfishing's post.
posted by Marquis at 10:29 AM on December 16, 2003


troutfishing, the problem with posting "other" viewpoints is that 70% of the "anti" bush fpps aren't anti bush; rather, they're regular news reports on bush's latest move that are construed as negative by many of us here. Take, for example, the threads about "partial-birth" abortions. How would you phrase that to be objective? George Bush's administration recently passed a bill outlawing "partial-birth abortions"--which is a scare-tactic label given to it by convervatives--in a move that in some situation could put the life of an unborn child above that of the mother. Or is that too "left" because I deigned to include that little bit about the scare-tactics? Or should I just put a link to some anti-abortion site?

There are times when some "balance" is needed--say, for example, when talking about tax cuts, as Marquis mentions: Instead of acting like retards and taking Seth's comment as a piece of Republican propaganda, why don't we consider whether we're truly representing the values of social justice and universal human rights when we brand, dismiss, spit-at, or deliberately misinterpret someone who supports different tax cuts than we do.

Of course, that little ditty is a blatant misrepresenation of what anyone who hates bush really cares about. Insinuating that all of this is about tax cuts and not about the murder of thousands of people as a means of lining their cronies pockets in corporate america and then having the gumption to categorize that as "defending our way of life" shows a complete lack of understanding, or at least an unwillingness to admit what people are shouting about.

I can understand balance, I suppose. But I have a hard time stomaching the idea of representing the bush view when the bush view is the marginalization of those that don't agree with them as unpatriotic traitors while wearing those god-awful smirks as they preach to us about compassion.
posted by The God Complex at 11:36 AM on December 16, 2003


I did have friends, a couple of years ago, that never posted, but did read MeFi periodically. Like myself, however, fewer of them stop by anymore, and those that do only do so occasionally.

This is true of old-timer Metafilterians in general, regardless of political orientation. People come and go. Most of "the regulars" from when I first started reading are long gone by now, and they were by no means all conservatives.

MeFi has almost become a parody of itself. It did not used to be catgorized as a "lefty" board ... it was unusual in that it did seem to have a pretty wide range of perspectives ... and that meant that my right-wing and libertarian friends would read it, and would hear some of the more articulate left-wing arguments they may not have bothered to read otherwise ... i.e., because the discussions were more varied, the impact was wider.

This is the idea I was trying to counter in my previous post, though it seems my snarky delivery obscured the point.

THERE NEVER WAS A GOLDEN AGE.

People talk about this past era when MetaFilter was some haven of balance and mixed perspectives, and it just ain't so. It has always been a LeftyFilter, for demographic reasons I explained in my previous post. If you judged the US presidential election in Y2K by the MetaFilter commentary alone, you'd have thought it was a race between Nader and Gore, with occasional entertainment-value appearances by a brain-damaged third-party candidate named Dubya.

MetaFilter is as balanced now as it has ever been. The population has grown and so has the diversity of opinion. What's changed is not the overall political orientation, but the level of tolerance for opposing viewpoints. The contentious end of the 2000 election and the U.S. response to the terrorist attacts in 2001 have polarized political conversation. It is much harder to discuss issues calmly, because we all feel their impact.

The other point I was trying to make is that MetaFilter does not NEED to be balanced to be a good place to hang out. MetaFilter as LeftyFilter is not necessarily a bad thing. If we have a complete diversity of opinions, we will rarely if ever get past the basics. If you put a group of Democrats in a room together, they don't need to discuss their shared vaguely-lefty ideals; they can assume those ideals and get on to the next layer of specifics. If you mix the crowd up with some Republicans, all the group can talk about are the differences between their basic viewpoints. Any discussion about specifics will inevitably run into the fundamental disagreement over worldview. I've done my share of arguing over worldview with people from the other side of the political spectrum, and it becomes boring after a while.

Frankly, I don't care if the lefty bias here drives some conservative voices away. There are umpteen dozen places on the net I can go if I want to discuss politics with a thoroughly mixed crowd. One of the attractions Metafilter has had over the years is that its population tends, in general, to look at the world in a way I can understand. There is of course the danger of becoming an echo chamber, but the conservatives who do hang out here are far too vocal to be ignored.

I actually agree with Seth's original point, but for rather different reasons. The BushFilter posts are boring, not because they always tell us how badly Bush sucks, but because we already know how badly Bush sucks. There are hundreds of places to find world and U.S. news and practically all of them will tell you what Bush is up to using whatever ideological slant you are interested in. Reposting them on MetaFilter does little beyond giving the people who are pissed off another outlet for their frustration and the people who feel persecuted by anti-Bush sentiment another opportunity to fight back.

There's no grand solution, and there's really nothing we can do to fix this. People disagree about what MetaFilter is, and especially about what it should be, but the only thing we can really do about it is complain. MetaFilter is a non-democratic constitutional monarchy, where the code is the constitution and Matt is the monarch; it's up to him to do whatever he wants to do with it. If you don't like the BushFilter posts, then don't comment on them! If people stop commenting on them, they will go away. They aren't going away, so there is clearly some contingent of MetaFilterians who think they are interesting and worth participating in, and unless Matt decides to kill every post related to Bush or Iraq or whatever, that's all there is to say about it.
posted by Mars Saxman at 11:55 AM on December 16, 2003


that little ditty [which refers to tax reduction] is a blatant misrepresenation of what anyone who hates bush really cares about

No, it's an example of an issue that social democrats like me care about - there have been a number of posts about who benefits from the Bush tax-breaks, corporate bloat, etc., and it's a fine example of the sort of blatant "camping" that occurs here.

It's true that it's not as important an issue for many people on the Left (me included). But I didn't use Iraq as an example because it's an issue where the sociopolitical/philosophical/ethical issues are much more complex, and wouldn't neatly fit into my summing-up sentence. Please, don't attribute nefarious intent in my direction!

Even when it comes to Iraq, though, my point stands. The bulk of people who support the war aren't the evil, arab-hating zealots that most people on my side of the political spectrum paint them as. They feel that the USA's entrance into Iraq was a necessary, positive development for (inter)national security, and human wellbeing. It's nonsense to dismiss them as unethical brutes every time they open their mouths: do this and no dialogue will ever occur, furthermore no one will ever learn anything.
posted by Marquis at 11:56 AM on December 16, 2003


Not all of us Republicans enjoy arguing/discussing politics much. That doesn't mean we aren't around.
posted by konolia at 12:00 PM on December 16, 2003


MetaFilter is as balanced now as it has ever been.

Mars, but Midas' point still stands -- that in the "golden age" or "ye olden days of yore" people weren't so polarized and those on the right and left could post about something with respect for each other, sometimes even if the original post was heavily worded.

These days it just doesn't seem possible, as the rhetoric of both sides takes over, the usual suspects take their positions, and begin lobbing verbal rocks at each other.

I learned more about the conservative viewpoint in 2000 than I had in years of school classes in politics, civics, and government. Since then, I've learned to identify the tactics of modern day politics and the language of attack.

I hate to lament "how things used to be" (I agree that nostalgia isn't as great as it sounds) but there was a time when partisan topics were treated with respect by the community (which is exactly what ask mefi reminds me of), people used to ask stuff like "why would McCain support x?" and "what did Janet Reno do in Waco?" without people launching into tirades that seem more at home at indymedia or freerepublic.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 12:27 PM on December 16, 2003


The problem, as others have pointed out, is not that "anti-Bush" perspectives are being represented, but rather the amount of poor (verging on terrible) political FPPs.

Well, I don't actually disagree with this terribly, but there's a complication. Who's to set the quality bar?

Some might find value in a FPP featuring a hand-picked, easy-to-read article about Halliburton's contract award, but Seth will just see "more bush hating" and complain about the shallowness of the FPP. Who's right?

I'm all for promoting better FPPs, but I'm suspicious of anyone who complains about left-leaning posts *merely* on the basis of their quality. I mean, come on. Are we really supposed to take that as an unbiased evaluation of quality?
posted by scarabic at 12:28 PM on December 16, 2003


So, mathowie, it seems that you are unhappy with the level of discourse, here, not the content of the posts. Is that correct?
posted by scarabic at 12:31 PM on December 16, 2003


where the code is the constitution

Article: 0

Article: 1

Article:01

Article: 010

do I have to read all of this document?
posted by clavdivs at 1:06 PM on December 16, 2003


It pains me to watch my friends devote so much energy to this stuff.

Matt, I agree with your preference for balance (and Midas's rewrite), but I find this statement hard to understand. I presume by "stuff" you mean "every little damn thing the bush admin does," and the Bush administration happens to be not only running the most powerful country in the history of the world but taking it into major wars (with no end in sight) and making major changes to the national economy and political system (trying to make the Republicans the permanent majority in government via redistricting and easily manipulated electronic voting, for example). It doesn't surprise me that a lot of people prefer to keep their heads in the sand and devote their attention to their TiVos and other fun stuff, but it would surprise the hell out of me if you thought that was an appropriate response to these times.

MetaFilter 180 AD: Why do we have to talk about the Parthians and the Marcomanni and the Christians all the time? Barbarians are boring, and who cares about masochistic religious sects that will never amount to anything? Let's talk about circuses, they're fun! I remember when we didn't even care who was emperor!
posted by languagehat at 1:15 PM on December 16, 2003


The God Complex - The thing about setting up a Metafilter post is that you - as the editor - have extremely wide discretion. So, as long as you don't just drop a preformed opinion in people's lap via your post, your overall point will tend to come across on the strength of your material. This does take time however.

"...troutfishing, the problem with posting "other" viewpoints is that 70% of the "anti" bush fpps aren't anti bush; rather, they're regular news reports on bush's latest move that are construed as negative by many of us here." - Maybe, but no news is objective and news sources can be preselected to convey an overall agenda. That would be the conservative critique and, although I tend to like the Anti-Bush posts, I can see that point. There's a Buzzflash-ish quality to a lot of the anti-Bush posts here so - why wouldn't I just go and read Buzzflash to get more of the same sorts of stories that Metafilter members are passing along?

As someone managing the site Matt, of course, wants novel material and not just recycled material from agenda driven websites - whether from the right or from the left.

But why don't conservatives simply post on metafilter more often? Well, they say they get tired of being shouted down. Is that an accurate perception? Well, from their perspective it is. "Objectively", what is the balance on metafilter between actually confronting conservative arguments or merely shouting them down? The conservatives are making the "you're a bunch of mindless ideologically driven zombies" argument - To what extent is that correct? Of course I've seen conservatives try to shout down people on Metafilter many times......

Political ideology aside, I'd say that intelligent, thoughtfully constructed posts are respected here. I there now more shouting? I don't know if the rhetoric is more heated than when I started coming to this site, but deferring to an old-timer.......

Mathowie - ( "...in the "golden age" or "ye olden days of yore" people weren't so polarized and those on the right and left could post about something with respect for each other " ) Two things - As I've said, US politics have become more polarized and so I think that that ramping up of rhetoric on Metafilter is partly a spillover from that. Political rhetoric - as in the slinging around of the label of 'traitor' - has become more heated than it has been for many years in American politics.

But there is another very real, major contributing effect - group polarization

...The discussion illustrated the phenomenon that Mr. Sunstein and various social scientists have called "group polarization" in which like-minded people in an isolated group reinforce one another's views, which then harden into more extreme positions.

That having been said, I do believe that the Bush Adminstration are daemonic Hell-spawn spewed up from the fiery deep in a thunderous sulphur-clap of doom.
posted by troutfishing at 1:21 PM on December 16, 2003


"but there was a time when partisan topics were treated with respect by the community"

I think what happened is that the "community" started out as strangers who needed to feel each other out and establish context. Lobbing verbal rocks at strangers is generally viewed as juvenile and mean. But......... we aren't strangers any more. We've been yelling at each other for years now. The benefit of the doubt is gone. Our agendas are notorious.

There are no naive newbies left who need to be treated with kid gloves. The current crowd are the flamewar survivors - Grizzled veterans of the most snarky, elitist trolling MetaFilter had to offer.
posted by y6y6y6 at 1:25 PM on December 16, 2003


So, mathowie, it seems that you are unhappy with the level of discourse, here, not the content of the posts. Is that correct?

They both can suck and doom a thread, though even "balanced" front page posts can have shitty comments.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 1:27 PM on December 16, 2003


"It doesn't surprise me that a lot of people prefer to keep their heads in the sand and devote their attention to their TiVos and other fun stuff, but it would surprise the hell out of me if you thought that was an appropriate response to these times."

The question is whether this is the right forum for that. I spend a great deal of time talking, writing, arguing, thinking, reading, etc about Bush, religion, and global issues.

But, at the exact same time, I don't think these things should allowed on MetaFilter. I think MeFi should be for "TiVos and other fun stuff". I think that's what MetaFilter does best.

So....... No, it's not the appropriate response to these times. But neither is this the right forum for it.

In my opinion.
posted by y6y6y6 at 1:32 PM on December 16, 2003


languagehat - I completely agree, and wonder why must we insist on flinging sand and braining each other with our Tonka trucks. : why can't we simply manage 1) polite discourse and 2) thoughtful posts ? * cue sad violin music * (by the way, congratulations on the new house).

y6y6y6 - a damn good point, you bastard......oops, sorry.
posted by troutfishing at 1:33 PM on December 16, 2003


Matt, I agree with your preference for balance (and Midas's rewrite), but I find this statement hard to understand.

I didn't really direct it at people here, it's more along the lines of the whole "obsessing over bush" stuff I see offline, in my friends. During the early 90s, I lived in a really conservative town. The week that Clinton got sworn in, there was a guy at the gas station in front of me with IMPEACH CLINTON on the back window. The first week!

I'm bummed to see my personal offline friends exhibiting the worst of the dittohead rhetoric of vince foster, et al in 1994, except now it's Bush.

I dislike Bush's policies and I'm embarrased whenever I see him speak to the world stage or speak anywhere outside of the US, but he's not the hellspawn of satan and I don't think we'd be incredibly better off if Gore was in charge. I guess I'm kind of a political agnostic in a way, never putting my entire belief system in the front runners. I can see strength and weakness in both parties and wish my friends (and everyone here) could take a step back and acknowledge that, and maybe approach these small things ("halliburton did a dine-and-dash at the Bagdhad McDonals!") from that perspective.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 1:33 PM on December 16, 2003


MetaFilter 180 AD: Why do we have to talk about the Parthians and the Marcomanni and the Christians all the time? Barbarians are boring, and who cares about masochistic religious sects that will never amount to anything? Let's talk about circuses, they're fun! I remember when we didn't even care who was emperor!

LOL!
posted by homunculus at 1:48 PM on December 16, 2003


Matt,

I really respect your last post. You have shown the masses that it is actually possible to express dissatisfaction with Bush without descending into character defamation or inflamed foaming at the mouth. And it is the kind of post that should and probably will attract intelligent, thoughtful comments.

I hope.
posted by konolia at 2:45 PM on December 16, 2003


I don't think we'd be incredibly better off if Gore was in charge.

People who believe that don't post FPPs about it. Metafilter's political debate is based on the honest fact that about 90% of its users either agree or disagree with that statement.

The discourse surrounding statements like yours above are without a doubt less likely to lead to partisan ragefests, but who makes an FPP on the topic of "I'd just like to say that I neither or agree or disagree with this opinion?"
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 4:26 PM on December 16, 2003


"it's our responsibility to try to elevate debate to an intelligent level" - That's rather presumptuous.

"the language of attack" - This trait has been well honed by the availability of sites like MetaFilter (see Miguel's "Writing Better" missive), and I have noticed more than a couple times that a sound bite or a speech replicates something I read on the web.

"I don't think we'd be incredibly better off if Gore was in charge" - THAT is the #1 spector lurking in the shadows. As much as I cut on Shrub, I believe that between him and Gore, he is the lesser of the two evils. Looking down the road, I see Dean bringing his own crock of shit to the party. At least Dean seems to have more complexity to mock, because the problem with Shrub is he is so fucking one-dimensional.
posted by mischief at 4:51 PM on December 16, 2003


"I don't think we'd be incredibly better off if Gore was in charge"

At the very least, we wouldn't be in Iraq, and bankrupting ourselves in the process, if Gore was in charge--thus eliminating the continuing corruption, scandal and bashbush posts.

Help Metafilter--Vote Democratic. : >
posted by amberglow at 5:26 PM on December 16, 2003


mischief - well that's your opinion.... I think that to equate the attacks on the Clinton Administration - for Clinton's personal immorality mainly - with the attacks on the Bush Administration for well.......

Environmental pillage not seen since 'environmentalism' itself became a term, walking away from about a dozen international accords on human rights, nuclear weapons, land mines, small arms (shall I go on?), Dramatic shifts in the tax burden (upwards), a Justice Dept. concerned more with domestic surveillance than with catching terrorists....Oh yes - budgetary policies which dump a huge mess of debt onto the next generation of Americans or even onto we Americans still living four years hence.....

I think this equation would be a little bizarre. GW Bush's father's policies were more consistent with Clinton's or Carter's than with his son's.

The GW Bush Administration is a radical one which has reversed US foreign policy courses laid down in past decades by both Republican and Democratic prior presidential administrations.

I'd say that this was an administration determined, somehow, to roll back the clock, back to the 1950's. But not the real 1950's either, but some bizarre fantasy 1950's.

"I'm bummed to see my personal offline friends exhibiting the worst of the dittohead rhetoric of vince foster" - So they are proposing vast shadowy conspiracies a la the proposal that the Bush Administration allowed 9-11 to occur for political gain? Or are they just making boneheaded attacks on Bush Adm. policy which do not reference facts?

Mathowie - History says that your political agnosticism is usually correct but sometimes wildly wrong. That's what Dave Niewert (Orcinus) is arguing ( re - the rise of American proto-facism through the targeting of dissent ).

In fact, the viability of this sort of political agnosticism is based itself on the healthy functioning of democracy. Checks and balances, right? Well there are many out there who have strong arguments that American Democracy is no longer healthy at all.

So - it's good to view human politics through a skeptical eye, sure. But human history does have bifurcation points, and sometimes these end in world wars.
posted by troutfishing at 5:56 PM on December 16, 2003


Bush: Threat or Menace? Tonight on Smartline.
posted by boaz at 6:03 PM on December 16, 2003


Well, since you actually did want to address it, I think that if Gore was president, as it pertains to Metafilter, we'd probably have more prevalent news / so-called-news stories about the bad things President Gore had done, hence more right-leaning posters posting them. Either two things would then be happening: mass shooting down of the opinions by the predominantly left-leaning populace, or a MetaTalk post complaining why all the HateGore FPPs are being made that make Metafilter look bad. So it goes.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 6:06 PM on December 16, 2003


The question is whether this is the right forum for that. I spend a great deal of time talking, writing, arguing, thinking, reading, etc about Bush, religion, and global issues. But, at the exact same time, I don't think these things should allowed on MetaFilter.

Thanks for that, y6. I've long been trying to say the exact same thing every time the topic comes up but am usually drowned out by the louder voices proclaiming "You just don't have a compelling arguement, you're 'burying your head in the sand', you're a Defender of All Things Duhbya", which is all, of course, horseshit. I like to read about and discuss politics as much as anyone else, but I can do that anywhere. This may surprise a lot of people, but discussing politics & current events is simply not what Metafilter was created for.

::: obligatory puff of brimstone signaling arrival of fold_and_mutilate who will sarcastically remind me that I once posted about Iraq, and am therefore a hypocrite :::
posted by dhoyt at 6:43 PM on December 16, 2003


Well sorry to disappoint, but.........At this point it seems appropriate to invoke the Deus-Ex-Machina of "So Matt, what was Metafilter created for?"

It sounds absurdly like a theological argument - these immediate questions might go away for a time, sure.......but they would re-emerge in some other forum.
posted by troutfishing at 7:47 PM on December 16, 2003

I think that to equate the attacks on the Clinton Administration ... with the attacks on the Bush Administration
trout: I think you got the wrong person. I have never equated the Clinton attacks with the Bush attacks here on MeFi nor on any other forum. I can see a couple parallels or abstract them to say, 'attacks are attacks', but beyond that the similarities end.

Also, I believe XQUZ's scenario is accurate. The government will always be a target for criticism regardless of which party is in power.
posted by mischief at 8:16 PM on December 16, 2003


The GW Bush Administration is a radical one which has reversed US foreign policy courses laid down in past decades by both Republican and Democratic prior presidential administrations.

Opinion. And a rather outspoken one, at that, here on MeFi. You are completely missing the point, troutfishing. MeFi was not established so that we could debate the health of our democracy. MeFi was created to find and post excellent finds from the internet. At some point, posters began to abuse the privilege of posting and used MeFi as their personal soapbox. What Seth is alluding to, as well as many others, is that this soapbox is obvious and overplayed. It's helping to destroy a community and creating an internet debate/yelling site, depending on how you view it.

The fact that you're mentioning Bush's policies here, in MetaTalk, proves the point that you misunderstood Seth's, and Matt's, original thought...politics have become more polarized than ever and people are abusing each other in the name of "believing in what's right for the country".

History says that your political agnosticism is usually correct but sometimes wildly wrong.

The very definition of "political agnosticism" allows for other types of political beliefs. Therefore, you may choose to be agnostic without being correct or incorrect. There are plenty of people willing to fight the good fight and shout till their heads explode; live your political beliefs and let others live theirs.

But human history does have bifurcation points, and sometimes these end in world wars.

I hope you aren't making the suggestion that GWB is somehow going to lead the US into a world war, because that's preposterous.
posted by BlueTrain at 8:39 PM on December 16, 2003


So - it's good to view human politics through a skeptical eye, sure. But human history does have bifurcation points, and sometimes these end in world wars.

"The book depicts a bifurcation of global politics in which an autonomous multi-centric world has emerged as a competitor of the long established state-centric world. A central theme is that the analytic skills of people everywhere are expanding and thereby altering the context in which international processes unfold. Rosenau shows how the macro structures of global politics have undergone transformations linked to those at the micro level: long-standing structures of authority weaken, collectivities fragment, subgroups become more powerful at the expense of states and governments, national loyalties are redirected, and new issues crowd onto the global agenda. These turbulent dynamics foster the simultaneous centralizing and decentralizing tendencies that are now bifurcating global structures."
posted by clavdivs at 8:53 PM on December 16, 2003


BlueTrain: Not that I think Bush will lead the country into a world war (although some people associated with him wouldn't mind an all-out Middle Eastern regional one - it's public record) but ... If the last few years of American politics and international relations prove anything, it's that nothing's preposterous anymore. Everything can be considered on the table. That's part of why the debates these days are so polarized and shrill. But that doesn't excuse the constant front page posts in question.
posted by raysmj at 9:06 PM on December 16, 2003

It's helping to destroy a community...
Opinion.
Sometimes the jokes just write themselves. ;-P
posted by mischief at 9:12 PM on December 16, 2003

Not that I think Bush will lead the country into a world war...
From some perspectives, he already has.
posted by mischief at 9:16 PM on December 16, 2003


I am glad to see others speaking up, and I wish those who have tried to shout me down would at least listen to Matt.

There have been many good suggestions on this thread. But for some reason, it seems that such suggestions will never take hold.

There are clearly times and means to engage in a well-reasoned, respectful and interesting dialectic about political topics.

But people must recognize decorum and purposes of the forum.

Crap like Amberglows posts, which consist of linking to an op-ed article and goes on to assume the propriety of the conclusion does not foster a dialogue. It fosters two things:
1. Similar-thinking mutual masturbation.
2. Shouting down of those that disagree.

If that is what some of you want out of MeFi, then I regret that. Since Matt seems to disagree with concept, I am suprised that some of you won't even listen to him.


Even in THIS thread, we see political ax-grinding and shouting down of those who don't agree with you.

I hate to lament "how things used to be" (I agree that nostalgia isn't as great as it sounds) but there was a time when partisan topics were treated with respect by the community (which is exactly what ask mefi reminds me of), people used to ask stuff like "why would McCain support x?" and "what did Janet Reno do in Waco?" without people launching into tirades that seem more at home at indymedia or freerepublic.
posted by mathowie at 12:27 PM PST on December 16


Matt just stated exactly my impetus for posting this, better than I could.
posted by Seth at 9:34 PM on December 16, 2003



I hope you aren't making the suggestion that GWB is somehow going to lead the US into a world war, because that's preposterous.


you're in one.
posted by sgt.serenity at 10:06 PM on December 16, 2003


If the last few years of American politics and international relations prove anything, it's that nothing's preposterous anymore.

I'm not going to argue because this IS NOT the place. That was the point I was making earlier...see my first sentence (Opinion).

And mischief, are your emoticons the equivalent of foldy's ~chuckle~, or in other words, a quick way of making a jab instead of a thoughtful contribution?
posted by BlueTrain at 10:06 PM on December 16, 2003


I wasn't arguing with you, nor did I have any intention of doing so.
posted by raysmj at 10:08 PM on December 16, 2003


Metafilter doesn't exist in isolation -- it reflects the world around it, or the world as perceived by its participants. If Mefi is polarized and politically too-aware it's because the events are overwhelming. It's happening everywhere: everyone is more political and more polarized than usual. MeFi is just reflecting the times.

And by the way this MeTa post is a sham -- it affects to decry partisanship and yet it consists of exactly the same language that one partisan camp uses repeatedly -- criticism of Halliburton and related plunder is given the term "HateBushFilter": a straw man if ever there was one. If you're going to disparage partisanship you might try to do it in a less nakedly and unreservedly partisan way.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:37 PM on December 16, 2003


BlueT: ' ;-P ' is my logo. I have been using it and the name 'mischief' (on and off) for almost 20 years.

As for thoughtful contributions: ;-P
posted by mischief at 10:45 PM on December 16, 2003


criticism of Halliburton and related plunder is given the term "HateBushFilter":

George_Spiggott, you're missing the point. Any criticism of Halliburton isn't just antibushfilter because it is simply against the president, it's because we have had a dozen or more posts in the past couple months about every little thing halliburton has done. Some of them are important and they are indeed taking advantage of the american taxpayer and all its citizens, but after a dozen they look pretty nit-picky, especially the last one I saw about some very minor thing.

MeFi sucks if 1 in every ten posts (that's at least 2 and as many as 4 per day) are about the latest dumb thing the bush admin did. I don't like the guy either, but slinging shit towards him on metafilter isn't going to help anything. There are other sites on the web that revel in it, but I think it brings the quality down here immensely, especially in terms of conversations.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 11:14 PM on December 16, 2003


Also, you guys might have missed TownHall.com (I'd call it a conservative version of Alternet.org - they run their stories on numerous other sites) running an entire story about the nazification of Bush, which included a MetaFilter comment to illustrate the point. Kind of drives the whole point home, especially when viewed alongside the other extreme examples.

Again, I don't like Bush at all, but some people have to ease up on the extreme rhetoric and chill out on the nit-picky posts here that show up every day.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 11:43 PM on December 16, 2003


I felt that Metafilter took a dive just a few weeks (or was it months? Ah, internet time...) ago. I first noticed it when quonsar suddenly stopped posting his usual somewhat-leftist snark/insight and started shouting, "Can't you see?! Can't you SEE!?!" Quonsar "gets" Metafilter, more than anyone else, I think (maybe even more than Matt), and to see him lose it was... a sign.

I look at Metafilter from a definitely leftist viewpoint. Also, I look at Metafilter from the viewpoint of someone who isn't a good contributor, and knows it. I would love to "self-police by example," but I know I can't -- my best contributions are usually made when I sit on my hands or stop and get myself another bottle of Pepsi Blue®©³. But here's what I see:

- Online discussion sites don't do politics well -- except for Metafilter. Metafilter does politics really, really well. Metafilter does politics better than many [most (all)] politicans do politics. Does this mean we do politics well all of the time? NO! Many political threads dissolve into flamewars -- always have, always will. But a larger proportion of political threads have been dissolving into shit recently; why is this?

- Some people are still making excellent contributions to poltical threads on MeFi. Kablam is probably my favorite poster right now, because he is increadibly focused on discussing the issues at hand, and he always cites his sources. There are others like him, on the right and the left. But there used to be more, and right now, we definitely need more.

- Politeness. In the past, I would refrain from posting, because I knew that I did a poor job of stating my opinion without being rude. Now, I post freely, because everyone else is rude, too. Note that I'm not talking about snark, which is the heart and soul of MeFi.

- Old blood/bad blood. Sometimes there are trolls who need to be ridden out of town on a rail. I'll grant that. But there's a reason the username shows up at the bottom of the post -- read what the person said before you judge. Midas made a really good contribution to this thread (not perfect, but really good) and he got walked all over for it. This is Metafilter, not Washington. When someone on the right makes a good point, those on the left should be the first to acknowledge it, and vice versa. No one can "win" a political argument on Metafilter, but everyone can learn, and you can only learn if you acknowledge merit in the opposition when you see it.

That's what I see/think. It's going to be hard, but I'm going to try to take some of my own advice, as well as some of Midas's (maybe :P). From now on (or until I forget), I'm going to try to show respect for every individual on MeFi, regardless of what they might say, and for everything they say, regardless of who says it.

So that's what I'm doing. What are you doing to make Metafilter's political discussions better?
posted by Ptrin at 11:43 PM on December 16, 2003


"the last one I saw about some very minor thing" : Was that the dirt in the soldier's food post? Yeah, that one was pretty blah.
posted by mischief at 11:47 PM on December 16, 2003


I'm a deep-blue conservative and I fail to see what the problem is. Anyone is free to post what they like and include the viewpoints they see fit. Anybody is free to comment.

These complaints are disturbing to me because they wish to alter others' behaviour. This is traditionally a failing of the authoritarian left and right, not of modern conservatives. Live and let live. Choose and let others choose. Participate at will - or don't. Be free. Accept we're all in this together. What is there to be afraid of? All political power should be violently criticized and constantly held to account. Bush is in power now - it's his turn.

Midas's rewrite is indeed competent but it pretends there is a way to be "objective", to see all sides, to present opposing viewpoints in a fair way. There isn't. Opinion and passion, even in academe and journalism, are essential components of honesty. They are the reason I enjoy Midas's participation here and wish he'd contribute more. "Objectivity" went out with the mullet. It's the weighted sum total of every possible standpoint that most approximates the "truth".

Besides, this is an informal website where we can all relax (please, no letting down of hair!) and be stubbornly ourselves. That's the beauty of MetaFilter. Specially for conservatives - who wants to be bored by the like-minded?

Please stop being such an annoying, vociferous, easily offended nanny, seth.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 1:00 AM on December 17, 2003


By which I mean, of course, that you shouldn't mind me and go on as you see fit. ;)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 1:02 AM on December 17, 2003


... running an entire story about the nazification of Bush, which included a MetaFilter comment to illustrate the point. Kind of drives the whole point home, especially when viewed alongside the other extreme examples.

Ljubljana (who was quoted) was clearly being sarcastic. Her whole comment started with the statement "Nazi analogies are bodacious". John Leo got his quote, stripped it of humor and context, and pasted it in his article because it suited his purposes.
posted by eddydamascene at 2:02 AM on December 17, 2003


s/her/his
posted by eddydamascene at 2:15 AM on December 17, 2003


"John Leo got his quote, stripped it of humor and context, and pasted it in his article because it suited his purposes".

Dont' you love the way these people argue?
(tm John Leo)

no, seriously, I doubt Leo hangs out at MeFi. He kind of lacks the brains -- it's sad how he really is a third-rate right wing commentator, upstaged on one side by much more intelligent Conservative op-ed writers (like Safire, Kristol, Morris, or even the bloodthirtsy Krauthammer and many others) and on the other by talk-radio people who at least are much more entertaining than Leo's. he lacks the brains to be Safire and the guts to be Rush
I guess Leo had a researcher or somebody pick up -- in bad faith, probably, I agree with eddie, the irony was apparent -- the comment and ran away with it

I perfectly understand how episodes like Leo's unfortunate column -- even if they quote us out of context it's bad -- make the good Mathowie cry. I'd be pulling my hair out if _my_ site was put in the same category as other (frankly unreadable) political-hatefest-sites.
(of course anybody who compares MeFi with, say IndyMedia, is either in bad faith or nuts, but that doesn't necessarily matter. slander is a powerful tool as we see every day at least since the aftermath of 9-11).

strange how nobody in the "you're like DemocraticUnderground" contigent bothered to quote stuff like troutfishing's brilliant comments, or y2karl's I'll-bury-you-with-credible-links attacks on the war, or XQUZ's, etc (I could name dozens) of course making clear that this is hardly a radical lynch mob but a place where people have 90% of the time done their homework quoting links and thinking out rational arguments (of course then a pro-Bush reader is free to disagree, but it's no IndyMedia conversation) and the "Bush-is-Hitler" throwaway lines are a minority of the comments

lack of civlity? maybe, sometimes. and I'm as guilty as anybody. and I'm sorry.
lack of ideas/arguments/links? Nope, wrong target mr Leo (and Seth)

anyway, here's an idea -- why doesn't Matt (who, as censor, has always been exceptionally laissez-faire) deletes FOR A WEEK all political threads from the Front Page?

then we'll see in reality how well a Bush-free (I didn't say Bush-frei, mr Leo...) MetaFilter works


then we'll have lots of room for flash sites and new Apple products...
;)

posted by matteo at 2:43 AM on December 17, 2003


anyway, here's an idea -- why doesn't Matt (who, as censor, has always been exceptionally laissez-faire) deletes FOR A WEEK all political threads from the Front Page?

That's got my vote.
posted by timeistight at 3:22 AM on December 17, 2003


say, starting from tomorrow until Xmas?
posted by matteo at 3:36 AM on December 17, 2003


The week before Xmas might not be the best time to ask him to babysit us 24/7.
posted by timeistight at 3:41 AM on December 17, 2003


Wait, wait, I've got another one (my second ever?) all lined up and ready to go!

Damn kids.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:55 AM on December 17, 2003


Crap like Amberglows posts, which consist of linking to an op-ed article and goes on to assume the propriety of the conclusion does not foster a dialogue.
You're full of shit, Seth--maybe you should check someone's posting history if you're using them as an example, and, btw, don't shit in the ICC thread, which also had supporting links, if you're already shitting here--only one of my 27 posts consisted of solely an op-ed, and I try hard to present supporting links when necessary.

Maybe, as others have said in this thread, you should lead by example, instead of insults.
posted by amberglow at 5:14 AM on December 17, 2003


"some people have to ease up on the extreme rhetoric and chill out on the nit-picky posts here that show up every day."

Sounds like it might be time to start deleting them, yes?
posted by y6y6y6 at 6:12 AM on December 17, 2003


There's a fine candidate for deletion right here. There's a lot to said about the interview linked, but a FPP that picks one point, previously discussed many times on MeFi does not quality make.
posted by Wulfgar! at 7:16 AM on December 17, 2003


y6y6y6, Wulfgar! - But that's editorial work for Matt : How about a rotating deletion committee? I'm sure it's been discussed many times before. "Dear Metafilter member : your post was deleted because it sucked. Nonetheless, we welcome your future contributions. Please consult the guidelines on what constitutes a good post, and then try again. Yours truly, the Metafilter Deletion Committee"

"Even in THIS thread, we see political ax-grinding and shouting down of those who don't agree with you......" (seth) - It's my perspective, sure, but I see little shouting in this discussion and many well reasoned perspectives from all over the map. I would call this "shouting down" assertion as a "shouting down" tactic itself.

In itself, this thread could be accused (fairly or not) as a form of political ax-grinding. Where is the privileged ground of neutrality, anyway? Show me that land and I'll hop on the boat today.....otherwise, if we can't define objectivity or neutrality, I'd argue for MidasMulligan's appeal for better constructed, more thoughtful, less one-dimensional posts.

matteo brought up a point that's been bothering me for a while - on Metafilter there is still a favorable ratio of incisive, thoughtful commentary to mere shouting, whining, invective and sloganeering. But it is always convenient to advance a political agenda (here or elsewhere) by accusing others of "shouting" or claiming that a discourse is mindlessly agenda driven - by unsubstantiated assertions, through selective quotations, by way of slanderous accusations......whatever. John Leo has a relatively big soapbox from which to employ these tactics.

So does that mean that people here should censor their comments because they could be twisted, taken out of context, and held up disingenuously as examples typical of the character of Metafilter?

I'd take Leo's attack as a compliment and would suggest that he feels the need to attack Metafilter precisely because there is intelligent discourse on the site. And that makes it - for his purposes - a threat.

Mathowie - Re the the "nazification of Bush" [links to a footnote bit I wrote -which I didn't want clogging up this thread- about what I think Leo is really up (re "Bush=Nazi") in the context of the new tactics of the US right ] - ("The hard left decided long ago that George W. Bush is Hitler."..., ) (John Leo) - Leo's opening sentence here at his TownHall.com piece might be true of some on the left I suppose, but his quotation of ljubljana - as somehow representative of opinion on Metafilter - betrays either great laziness as a writer or a deep intellectual dishonesty. Given the range of comments on Metafilter, one could certainly - as with the Bible - prove or justify anything at all or simply 'prove' that Metafilter had any sort of bias whatsoever - hard left, hard right, libertarian, geek.....

Selective quotation is the tool of political attack hacks.

"anyway, here's an idea -- why doesn't Matt (who, as censor, has always been exceptionally laissez-faire) delete FOR A WEEK all political threads from the Front Page?" - Matteo, that's got my vote. How about a month?

Even if a new game emerged, one of edging up to the line of the "political" but not quite crossing it, the posts would have to be much more intelligently constructed (which is the beef of MidasMulligan's camp : dumb posts are boring, mindless shouting and sloganeering doubly so).

mischief - pardon me, you're right.
posted by troutfishing at 8:26 AM on December 17, 2003


"But that's editorial work for Matt"

In the short run (and I would argue the *very* short run) yes. But in the long run no.

The reason these posts are here is that Matt allows them. As soon as he starts deleting them, and makes it clear he won't allow them, they will die out on their own.

I remember when this whole argument started. There were daily flamewars in MetaTalk and the FFPs where the self-policing crowd pounded on the idea that news and political agenda shouldn't be allowed. Matt sat it out, almost completely, until one day where he told us to chill out because sometimes news posts were just fine.

But it hasn't worked out that way. The few times they're fine are downed out by the vast majority of times when they're pointless and ugly and they make us look bad.

We tried it. It didn't work. Nip this shit in the bud. If we can't do political debate without peeing on each other (and we can't) then don't allow political debate here. There are other places for it. It's not like political debate will vanish from the planet if we don't allow it on MetaFilter.
posted by y6y6y6 at 8:49 AM on December 17, 2003



The question is whether this is the right forum for that. I spend a great deal of time talking, writing, arguing, thinking, reading, etc about Bush, religion, and global issues.

But, at the exact same time, I don't think these things should allowed on MetaFilter. I think MeFi should be for "TiVos and other fun stuff". I think that's what MetaFilter does best.


Darmok and Jilad at Tanagra!
posted by thirteen at 9:14 AM on December 17, 2003


Then one dimension of the site would disappear. And another might then emerge. I, for one, would probably still comment here and there. It would make for a fascinating story and one which would be very interesting for the wider net community and political communities everywhere to ponder : how a small group - on both the right and the left, to be fair - can provoke an authoritarian response which limits the range of expression and allowed discourse - in order to maintain order and preserve the commons.

I have to wonder to what extent the shouting on Metafilter arises from spur-of-the-moment passions and to what extent (or on whose part) it is intentional - for this raises the specter of a few who intentionally pollute the commons to provoke an authoritarian response. This is pure conjecture on my part, but such tactics has been used before in politics to great success. As it reaches a certain level, violence does provoke authoritarian responses and sometimes the provocation can be quite intentional. I'll respect Godwin here by refraining from citing an outstanding historical case of this but, beyond such cliched examples, agent-provocateurs have left a long and infamous trail through human history.

This is because it is a very effective tactic.
posted by troutfishing at 9:22 AM on December 17, 2003


"provoke an authoritarian response which limits the range of expression and allowed discourse"

Huh?

I hang out on several forums. None of them - not a single one - have the level of ideological bashing that goes on in the political threads here. And none of them - not a single one - have the level of noise that arises from the news posts here.

The reason is that those forums have a focus and a purpose which the users appreciate and buy in to. The users don't post those types for threads because it would just fill the place with yelling and noise which would degrade the value of having the forum in the first place. and on the very rare occasions where they do get posted the admins delete them. No problem.

MetaFilter is suppose to have a focus and a purpose - A forum for sharing and discussing the best new stuff on the web.

What you seem to be saying is that the purpose of MetaFilter should be a forum for discussing all topics with no limit on subject or context. Is that what you see MetaFilter as?
posted by y6y6y6 at 9:48 AM on December 17, 2003


Again, I don't like Bush at all, but some people have to ease up on the extreme rhetoric

Heh.
posted by trharlan at 10:32 AM on December 17, 2003


Amberglow,

I stand by my argument that your (recent) posts are poor.
Granted there is the one that you admit to being nothing more than an op-ed, but what about your most recent post?

Let's analyze it:
Robert "Moose" Cobb's new job --Under fire for its handling of postwar contracts in Iraq, the Bush administration plans to appoint NASA's inspector general to the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad to oversee investigations of any alleged abuses.

Begins with a link to the news story at Reuters.
Reuters.
How is, what amounts to a editorialized press release, the basis for anything that is "Best of the Web" that we "wouldn't find on our own?"

It is pure Newsfilter, and doesn't exist to inform us, but to give you a basis to make your political point.

Then you link to the "who is" article at NASA. Gee thanks.

Cobb was Associate Presidential Counsel for Bush and before that spent nine years as a career attorney with the Office of Government Ethics. His appointment was seen as a bid by the administration to counter criticism -- mostly from Democrats in Congress -- that oversight of multibillion-dollar contracts has been lax.

So, then you quote some more from the original article including a cherry-picked quote noting the criticism of the administration (with the appositive noting the partisan nature of that critcism).

You also treat us with a nice link to the homepage of the Office of Government Ethics. Thanks again. That will really help in the discussion. I'm shocked you didn't hyperlink Bush to whitehouse.gov and Democrats to democrats.org

So can a guy who worked in the Bush White House actually be trusted to objectively investigate abuses? And if the Pentagon is auditing all of this, why use this guy? (and can the Pentagon objectively investigate this stuff either?)


Now we are treated to your editorializing which is suppose to function as your discussion starter. But the questions are slanted with your assumption that it is all wrong from the beginning.

That is no way to start a thoughtful discussion. Only thing that come from that crap is more crap. You kill the discussion with your post.

I submit that such a post exists for no other reason than to permit you to make your political point.

Compare that to the nice sample post by Midas above. Do you not see a telling difference?

What is amazing, is this post by you was after this MeTa thread and the discussion in it.

Yet you still decide to make an overtly partisan post that is NewsFilter and nothing supporting it other than your own editorializing.

So, I stand by my criticism of your posts, Amber. It is this kind of stuff that caused me to start this thread. This kind of crap is not what MetaFilter is for. Go to a political shill site for this kind of garbage.


As for your "lead by example," as I have already said, I am not going to post other FPPs to contradict your shouting because I don't think any of it belongs here.
posted by Seth at 11:35 AM on December 17, 2003


y6y6y6 - I'm confused by your response. I wasn't saying anything at all about what Metafilter should be. Ultimately that's up to Matt. I was instead describing a phenomenon (which has a rich historical tradition) and wondering out loud to what extent it applies here. Perhaps people discuss politics more peaceably in other forums - but that has no direct bearing on my point.

In my previous comment I was comparing the historical phenomenon - of a few polluting the commons and so provoking an authoritarian response (intentionally or unintentionally) - with what seems to be going on on Metafilter which, as a site, is not really comparable to the sites you allude to for the fact that it has a somewhat heterogeneous user base and is organized around a very ambiguous premise (the best of the web).

The sites you are describing are almost exactly analogous to "gated communities" full of self-agreed upon rules whereas Metafilter is - though currently closed to membership - a fairly anarchic community.

The "best of the web" criteria is a very vague, one which certainly demands quality (hence Midas' objection) but leaves all else ambiguous. Does it amount to "the best of the web except for political posts (because those tend to inflame people's passions) " ?

Or is it a criteria which is consensually determined and - if so - how?

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Meanwhile, there are two serious criticisms at play in this discussion - poor quality posts, and a decline in the quality of the discourse on Metafilter. Of those, I would say that the second constitutes a far more serious problem.

It is rather curious to me that seth chose to focus on the "HateBushFilter"posters rather than on the "shouters" and "bashers" (who constitute at least as significant a problem on Metafilter)...

Relatively few members generate the lion's share of "shouting" and "ideological bashing" on Metafilter - as with Seth's 20 or so who post political digs at the Bush Administration (cheap or not) Oddly, these two groups don't intersect as closely as one would suppose. And there are even worthwhile distinction to be made among the "shouters" and "bashers" - some of them can - and do - whip off intelligent, polite commentary occasionally while others never do. But I think it is inaccurate to imply that my first group here - the posters - "....post those types for threads because it would just fill the place with yelling and noise". Perhaps some do. But -as I said- many of those posters are not yellers and many of the yellers are not posters. Some of the worst yellers seldom post. Perhaps some of those 20 or so posters are being intentionally provocative, sure. But what if - additionally - the "shouters" are simply waiting, itching for a political post to jump on, regardless of whether it has has merit or is incendiary or not, so they can derail it or shut it down by shouting and - this is my key point - so pollute the discourse that the entire category of political posts get banned to protect the 'commons' (Metafilter) ?

Subject oriented discussion sites are by definition communities set apart, like conventions of dermatologists or emu-ranchers. Unlike with conventions, strangers wandering the web can - and do - drop occasionally in on issue oriented sites. But there aren't so many places - on the web or off - where the unwashed encounter alternative viewpoints. Political discussion sites are great, sure, if you are a political junky. What if you want varied fare? You might go to Metafilter. So the site would be - to some - a threat for the very fact that it was both intelligent, politically incisive, and heterogeneous : and so it would have appeal for more than a narrow group of policy wonks and political news junkies.

Your subject-oriented discussion sites with specific focus and purpose are - like gated communities - not good approximations of human society at large. They are not democracies though they have democratic elements. One might term them self imposed totalitarian states, I suppose. As such, agent provocateurs, hotheads and boors in them - all transgressing their plump rulebooks - would be quickly stomped or cast out. Metafilter, though, is a far better approximation of human society at large and, as such, has few defenses against those who would make determined attempts to curtail it's freedom of expression......all the more so for it's "laissez-faire to the breaking point" approach.

If political discourse were banned on Metafilter, the dynamics by which this occurred would bear some similarity, I would argue, to the historical cases I allude to (I'll email you examples if you want).

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

I'd venture a guess that things really busted loose from the old Metafilter mold on September 11th, 2001 . That date was a watershed event for a great many Americans - and indeed many all over the world - who are now, for better or worse, more heavily or overtly politicized.

So - given that concerns have shifted - it would stand to reason that even on Metafilter the definition of what constituted the "Best of the Web" would shift also, with that shift in the outlook of it's members. The clock cannot be turned back to the halcyon days at the height of the internet boom. I remember those days - I was high on them too. They're gone now. And Metafilter is, for better or worse, different.

The interesting question is : if Metafilter were to disappear tomorrow, would it's members reorganize by interests (i.e. new technology, funny sites, cultural curiosities, politics, highbrow analysis, and so on) or would they choose to reassemble, in part, under a new and heterogeneous laissez-faire roof ?
posted by troutfishing at 11:43 AM on December 17, 2003


I just wanted to add one more thing.

Many of the comments in here criticizing the suggestions of Midas, y6 and myself stem from the idea that it is just our view of what MetaFilter should be about.

Some of you suggest that MetaFilter should be about whatever the members of MetaFilter want to talk about.

Then we have the numerous comments from Matt. He seems very clear that he is tired of seeing the stuff, and he would like to have it cut down. In a tribute to his ability as community leader, he hasn't ordered it or turned to bannings. He seems very sure of this idea of self-policing.

But when we see what his preferences are and what he thinks MeFi should be like, I am amazed that people can still argue against it.

We are guests on his website. It is as if we are guests in his house. He has invited us over and told us that we can do what we like, and he tries very hard not to limit us. But as guests, don't we owe our host a little respect?

If he asks us not to shit in the corner of his house, ought not we respect that request?

Some of you seem to think not, as long as shitting in the corner is what you want to do here.

I don't think Matt could be any more explict about his dislike for these things, and I personally find it embarrassing that some of you wish to not respect his views.
But that's just my opinion.
posted by Seth at 11:46 AM on December 17, 2003


Darmok and Jilad at Tanagra!

Sucat, his eyes uncovered!

Where are those who in times past have opposed the Group of Seventeen ?

posted by y2karl at 11:57 AM on December 17, 2003


"I was instead describing a phenomenon and wondering out loud to what extent it applies here."

Okay. My bad. Sorry.
posted by y6y6y6 at 12:03 PM on December 17, 2003


I don't think Matt could be any more explict about his dislike for these things, and I personally find it embarrassing that some of you wish to not respect his views.

Seth, I think you're going a bit overboard here. I don't want people to respect my views 100%, which is why I haven't made any new rules or coded links here. My word is not that of a god everyone must appease.

There are a lot of anti-Bush posts lately about seemingly minor things (major gaffes are still fair game) and they don't lead to productive conversations. Like troutfishing said, there are two problems there worth addressing.

Midas pointed out that sensitive issues like politics can be done well and lead to productive discussions when the posts are well thought-out and worded without hyperbole and it serves as a great illustration.

I'm not quite sure what I can do with Midas' suggestion right now beyond posting a summation on the metafilter posting page, but it's what I'd like to steer people towards, though I know it's hard to get people to put more effort into making posts.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 12:09 PM on December 17, 2003


matt,

I completely understand that you aren't making an authoritative statement. As I mentioned, I think that is a credit to your ability as community leader.

You make it a point to not make commands or rules. You leave us to self-police, to a degree.

I wasn't trying to suggest that your comment was intended to be vox dei. What I was suggesting is that, from my personal view, I get the impression that you are opposed to certain things (like all the silly in-jokes, ad hominem attacks, and these weak NewsPoliFilter posts). Because I get those impressions, I am inclined to try to avoid them out of respect. Just as if there wasn't a rule against posting NAMBLA posts, I would probably refrain from doing it if I found out that people, and especially you, don't want to see it. But as I said, that is just my opinion.
posted by Seth at 12:27 PM on December 17, 2003


mathowie - As one who certainly has inflicted some shitty posts - How about "fewer posts, more work per post" (as a slogan, or guideline not a rule. Some can crank out quality posts at a good clip, but good political posts might take more work, perhaps).

Midas's example is nice because it has more dimensions than a rote, idiotic "anti bush" link + "pro-bush link" formula. Why not post it - with a few others - as examples of good political posts? (on the link posting page, maybe along with the Iraq War warning) Not that people should conform to a literal formula as such, but 2 or 3 such examples should get the general point across.

Plus, I think that when people got used to that idea, they would eventually come to like it and realize that - if the material actually supported their positions - they could reach more people by coming across as less ideologically strident.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

(re: my previous comment, a technical observation on commons, yadda yadda) Oh and - by the way - there are examples aplenty in which groups truly independent from states - both from the left and from the right - have "polluted the commons" and so provoked authoritarian responses : and there are probably more examples still of agent-provocateurs - acting as proxies for governments and inciting or committing violence - who act to insure a pretext for repression. It can occur in either fashion. The first is the game of terrorists and the second the game of anti-democratic regimes.

These sorts of games, strategies and dynamics apply, of course (in their own fashion), to political rhetoric and to online communities.

And then, of course, many commons can be polluted by mere idiots and assholes which - in our turn - most of us act as from time to time (some more often than others).

Oh well - We must aim for relentless self improvement. Think Teddy Roosevelt! Think Ben Franklin! Think ( insert appropriate female examples here _________ ) !
posted by troutfishing at 12:41 PM on December 17, 2003


Seth - Why not vent your exasperation and frustrations by working up some really good political posts of your own? Set an example. You are interested in politics it seems - given that all but four or so of your thirty six Metafilter comments have been on recent political posts - and you can certainly argue your own case.

So why not set a higher standard for political posting on Metafilter? Raise the bar!
posted by troutfishing at 12:55 PM on December 17, 2003


My next post to the front page will be dedicated to Seth and Midas Fucking Mulligan.

*smooches, you tiresome do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do netnannies, you*
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 1:00 PM on December 17, 2003


My problem isn't the content, it's the lack of conversation. I like to discuss politics with people who are trying to figure out what's going on, not people who are trying to score points. "I'll-bury-you-with-my-wisdom" is not really any more inviting than "You're a fascist asshole".

There are a lot of people on MeFi whose intelligence I respect, and who I often agree with, but who make me feel like it's impossible to get into a conversation with them here, because they want to talk about politics in order to demonstrate the correctness of their views. A lot of intellect gets spread around, but no one learns anything.

I agree with Matt's vision for what MetaFilter should be about. Let's all stop trying to make points and start trying to talk to each other. AskMeFi proves that we can do it, so why not try to talk about politics the same way?
posted by fuzz at 2:11 PM on December 17, 2003


The suggestion of balanced posts as a guidline would apply to any Pro-bush/republican/war post as well, correct?
It seems like it would be worth any amount of extra work, just for some sort of confirmation that the conservative posters
have actually read and acknowleged the existance of an alternative viewpoint. So I think it's a great idea.

BTW, I think these guys might be able to craft someone a "MeFi" rock, although probably not large enough to hide under.
The search for "customized rocks" is really disappointing.
posted by milovoo at 2:15 PM on December 17, 2003


Midas pointed out that sensitive issues like politics can be done well and lead to productive discussions when the posts are well thought-out and worded without hyperbole and it serves as a great illustration.

Not to put too fine a point on it but, considering the source, Midas, that is, what a load of bullshit.
posted by y2karl at 2:18 PM on December 17, 2003


troutfishing - You're making the assumption that people will actually discuss. It's usually only a matter of time (often in the very first comment) that a really stupid, worn out Bush-bashing joke is posted. Then the whole thread (or the majority at least) becomes a "who can make the best snarky comment or sarcastic pun about Bush" contest. And MAN, most of them are so fucking old already.
posted by Witty at 2:32 PM on December 17, 2003


Glad to know you have a personal dislike for Midas, y2karl. What do you think about what he said?
posted by fuzz at 2:38 PM on December 17, 2003


"and a decline in the quality of the discourse on Metafilter"

troutfishing, assuming this is true, I realize now that implementing a "(fewer posts), more work per post" guideline might not be a good move.

Look at K5. It has very strong requirements when it comes to publish a story, but the comments .... well, let's just say one has to dig deep to find the good ones.

It would be better if we could raise the quality of FPP through comments in the thread. Now we have two levels, "preview" and "post". A permanent, stable change (such as adding a guideline similar to the one on AskMe) will not make a difference in the long run. What about some sort of random pop-up: "could you spend some more time expanding your argument?", "do you really have to post this?", "ready for public shaming?" etc. ?

On preview: ok, so we see a trend here.
posted by MzB at 2:40 PM on December 17, 2003


MetaFilter: a god everyone must appease
posted by inpHilltr8r at 2:42 PM on December 17, 2003


Miguel ... Midas's rewrite is indeed competent but it pretends there is a way to be "objective", to see all sides, to present opposing viewpoints in a fair way. There isn't. Opinion and passion, even in academe and journalism, are essential components of honesty.

Oddly Miguel, you are actually one of those I think of as being able to achieve precisely what I was describing ... for instance, your recent "One Nation Under God(s)." FPP is very nearly a case study of the point I was trying to make.

It raised issues that are just about as contentious as it is possible to imagine (statements by George Bush, concerning the world's different religions - hard to get more potentially divisive than that). Yet ... it was done exactly as the example I tried to give above suggested ... it raised an issue in an even-handed way, provided several different points of view, and did so with a tone that genuinely invited multiple perspectives.

And what was the result? Virtually exactly what I suggested the results of this model might be: A very active thread (107 comments), with very little snarkiness, a number of well thought-out comments, and participation by at least some folks that rarely speak up.

Now there are a hundred different ways that same news item could have been introduced that would have pre-disposed the thread to be a nasty, trollish snarkfest that fizzled after a few comments ... but the time you put into preparing the links, and the tone you used to raise the topic, created a different kind of environment - that both elevated the discourse and drew a wider range of viewpoints into the discussion.

Troutfishing made a good point: Meanwhile, there are two serious criticisms at play in this discussion - poor quality posts, and a decline in the quality of the discourse on Metafilter. Of those, I would say that the second constitutes a far more serious problem.

I guess my point all along has been that the two topics are quite interrelated. And I'd argue that by addressing the first, one also addresses the second. If the post that starts a thread contains several links, and a high quality, balanced tone, it is immensely more likely that the thread will turn into a thoughtful discussion with a variety of viewpoints. If it starts with one or two extremely one-sided links, introduced by rancorous, trollish statements ... well, how can the discussion be anything but cheap shots and snide one-liners?

Obviously Matt will not force any standard on MeFi ... but the question is ... what does the MeFi community really want? People that post FPP's can choose to make this a more pleasant place to be ... and one in which many more of the lurkers feel comfortable enough to speak up. They can choose to make whatever political discussions do occur far more interesting than what has currently become the norm. I believe the easiest way to do that is simply by putting the appropriate effort and tone into FPPs, and doing so as a sign of respect for both Matt and the rest of the MeFi community.
posted by MidasMulligan at 2:51 PM on December 17, 2003


Midas, I would assert that the community, by and large, is and will get what it really wants. The question at hand is whether that community will appease those who aren't satisfied (yourself and Matt included).

I like to discuss politics with people who are trying to figure out what's going on, not people who are trying to score points.

Scoring points ... now that's an indictment worth looking at, and completely beyond the community to police. And it does beg the question, what of those who honestly feel they HAVE figured out what's going on?
posted by Wulfgar! at 3:38 PM on December 17, 2003


Those of you who think you know what's going on are very annoying to those of us who do.
posted by timeistight at 3:55 PM on December 17, 2003


Seth, until you've made even one single solitary post, and put your money where your mouth is, I'll invite you to get lost--not all my posts are winners, but all posts are thought to be interesting stuff on the net, and of value. If they're not worthy, they'll be deleted by mathowie. Additionally, when i ask a question in a post, I'm seriously looking for an answer, or I wouldn't ask it. If you don't like it or the way i phrased it, don't comment in it--It's simple.

You say: I get the impression that you are opposed to certain things (like all the silly in-jokes, ad hominem attacks, and these weak NewsPoliFilter posts). Because I get those impressions, I am inclined to try to avoid them out of respect. In fact, you've been doing the opposite. Self-policing doesn't mean you shit in all sorts of MeFi threads trying to make your point (some of those after you had already posted here). I think your targeting of a certain kind of "NewsPoliFilter" post is a sham and aimed at shutting down all investigation or questioning of this adminstration, whether it's highlevel scintillating prose, or just normal folks discussing, which is just sad. If you're trying to be a posterboy for raising the level of discourse, try a little harder, sunshine. (incidentally, I was going to email this to you, but that's impossible.)
posted by amberglow at 4:03 PM on December 17, 2003


How about different-thinking Mefites informally collaborating on FPP's via e-mail, then one of them could post it with a "[thanks to]" instead of a "[via]"?

I can think of several Mefites who would identify as "conservative" who would be good at this, though obviously I can't say if I know that anyone would be into it.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 4:35 PM on December 17, 2003


Midas, I would assert that the community, by and large, is and will get what it really wants.

You are absolutely correct ... but the entire reason why there is an "etiquette/policy" category on a "MetaTalk" site is to allow the community to to step back and reflect on what it is doing - to both look at what it is, and envision what it could be.

Friday is my 2 year anniversary here. And while I'm simply too busy to participate that often right now, (and frankly have no desire to spend what little free time I have listening to cheap personal attacks), I do consider MeFi a community I'm somewhat involved with, and seem to remember a greater number of good discussions in the past than there seems to be right now.

Communities evolve ... in positive or negative directions. And they can, indeed, choose to change. Certainly the people that post the one-sided, trollish FPPs that sparked this discussion are satisfied with the current state of things. But others are not ... including people that are actually sympathetic to the politics of the posters.

Since a number of folks (including even Matt) would like to see something different, I have been merely trying to paint a picture of one possible means of doing that. Further, I'll back it up with action. While in the past, I have engaged in personal battles (though most of the time I would have preferred to talk about ideas), I'll hereby apologize for any degradation of discourse in which I was a participant.

Further, going forward, I'll voluntarily conform to a set of standards that I believe would better the community if widely followed. Call it the "MeFiVow 2004":
-------------------------------------------------------
1. Any FPPs I post that concern potentially volatile issues will contain multiple perspectives in their links, be even-handed in tone, and genuinely try to produce intelligent participation by the widest possible range of viewpoints.

2. I will not participate in any thread whose links and tone seem designed to produce nasty, reductionist, mean-spirited conversations, are deliberately written to try to denounce some person or group, or seem intended to goad people into fights instead of inviting them into discussions.

3. I will neither initiate, nor respond to personal attacks in any way, shape, or form. When they are directed at me (as more than one has been in this thread alone), I'll simply completely ignore them.

4. Matt has set guidelines for MeFi. I will follow both the letter and the spirit of those guidelines ... because I believe his work earns him this sign of respect.
-------------------------------------------------------

Those who post the stuff that is being discussed in this MetaTalk thread obviously will continue to do so. But since this is a free-for-all, others that believe these sorts of posts degrade the MeFi community have equal freedom to choose to begin completely ignoring them, and setting and conforming to other standards.

And actually, since several people have brought up the notion that MeFi is just a reflection of the larger world ... I believe the same goes for that. Public discourse has, I believe, become reduced to little other than ugly, divisive, unintelligent mud-slinging ... but I also believe that far more than a few people don't like it. I know both liberals and conservatives that really would like to have more nuanced conversations, really would like to get beyond one-liners, sound-bytes, and personal attacks, and whose characters are developed enough to be able to treat with respect even those with whom they vehemently disagree.

To some degree we are all subject to the current environment - both on MeFi and in the larger world ... but we are also perpetually involved in creating it.
posted by MidasMulligan at 4:39 PM on December 17, 2003


I admire Midas's persistence here, it's a mark of some one (re)committed to the improvement of MeFi via his own efforts. No snark - from MM, nor me.

on preview: my thoughts redoubled.
posted by dash_slot- at 4:49 PM on December 17, 2003


Ah, if this only meant no more kneejerk Al-Gore-said-he-invented-the-internet-and-Hillary-channeled-Eleanor-Roosevelt-in-the-White-House Clinton-hateoholic crapola...
posted by y2karl at 5:17 PM on December 17, 2003


fuzz: MeFi's infrastructure is not really suitable for conversation, but for one-off comments that may or may not lead to threads involving the same participants. As has been indicated since day one that I arrived here, MeFi is not a discussion site; given its nature it can't be. Each comment pretty much has to make its point, because it could potentially be the poster's last word on the post.
posted by mischief at 5:19 PM on December 17, 2003


If Midas is serious about his 'ask not what your metafilter can do for you...' pledge, and not merely pandering, then I welcome him back with open arms.

A Midas who isn't continually belittling others, who is neither pompous nor dismissive, who seems to be more interested in what others have to say than merely running his mouth....just think of the Potential For Good there.

This I look forward to with great -- great! -- anticipation. I may dislike him with an inexplicable degree of vitriol based on what he's said and how he's said it in the past (which has nothing to do with his politics: I'm not even certain what those are), but he is at least articulate I must admit, and to all appearances intelligent, and there's far too little of those two qualities in tandem these days.

So bring it on, MM. But we'll be watching. In a nice way, though, of course, but watching, oh yes.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:03 PM on December 17, 2003


So bring it on, MM. But we'll be watching. In a nice way, though, of course, but watching, oh yes.

Who "we" is I'm not certain. Whether you watch or not makes no difference ... unless you are willing to take a similar vow. If I voluntarily conform to standards and decline to respond to personal attacks, I'm also not going to concern myself with the opinions of those who initiate them.

I'd invite you to join me in MeFiVow 2004.
posted by MidasMulligan at 6:33 PM on December 17, 2003


Stavros, trust is never, nor can logically be, earned. It is a gift that one gives to another. I trust that Midas has good motives and will follow them.

That doesn't mean that his desires or actions will result in a better MeFi, or that any other should follow suit with his pledge. Mischief pegged it spot on: Mefi is not a discussion site. Ideas (good, bad or indifferent) are presented, and people comment. It appears that Midas has pledged not to present bad ideas. That's a worthy personal goal. I will share that pledge.

That doesn't mean that I won't be mean, snarky or brutal. I will hopefully remain abrupt and somewhat unpleasant. But I'd like to think that I won't be presenting ideas just to count coup. Ego driven posts are at the heart of what Seth complains about here (though it appears for all the world that he does so driven by ego). As each individual commits to commenting or posting from the viewpoint that they are presenting an idea, then the BushHate posts will not diminish, but will take on the same flavor of commitment that Midas desires and I applaud.

You, Stavros, as well as quonsar, f_and_m and others (including myself) are quite vociferous in our spite towards the Bush administration. As long as we present the face of commited opposition (instead of petulant anger) then the overall quality of political posts will improve (except to those who really just want the opposition to shut up, right Steve?)
posted by Wulfgar! at 6:38 PM on December 17, 2003


I'm suddenly reminded of something:

Brain - storming, habit - forming, battle - warning weary winsome actor spewing
Spineless chilling lines -
The critics falling over to tell themselves he's boring
And really not an awful lot of fun.

Well who the hell can he be when he's never had V. D. ,
And he doesn't even sit on toilet seats?

Court - jesting, never - resting - he must be very cunning
To assume an air of dignity
And bless us all
With his oratory prowess,
His lame - brained antics and his jumping in the air.

And every night his act's the same
And so it must be all a game of chess he's playing -

But you're wrong, Steve. You see, it's only solitaire.

(Ian Anderson, of Jethro Tull)
posted by Wulfgar! at 6:52 PM on December 17, 2003


i retract my first comment. this is promising news. like Midas said, i would love to see more political posts like Miguels... 'food for thought' kind of posts. then again, i've never really cared for any of his food or drink blatherings. one word: spaghettios :)
posted by poopy at 7:13 PM on December 17, 2003


My word is not that of a god everyone must appease.
well said , oh enlightened one !
seth , lay off amber will ya ? as well as a lot of good fpps amber is also very positive , supportive and friendly to people, i havent seen you cheering anyone up on this thread so far (8 million comments and counting).
posted by sgt.serenity at 7:59 PM on December 17, 2003


MeFi's infrastructure is not really suitable for conversation

Then what was Matt thinking when he called it "Weblog as Conversation"? You and I are having a conversation right now, as are many other people who are stating their opinion in a way that allows for interesting disagreement. Many others, on all sides of the issue, are just grandstanding. I appreciate MeFi a lot more when I feel like I'm exchanging something with people, and not just joining a group showing off how smart they are about something they all agree on.

As long as we present the face of commited opposition (instead of petulant anger) then the overall quality of political posts will improve (except to those who really just want the opposition to shut up, right Steve?)


That sentence would have been a lot more convincing without the ad hominem snark at the end.
posted by fuzz at 8:14 PM on December 17, 2003


You, Stavros, as well as quonsar, f_and_m and others (including myself) are quite vociferous in our spite towards the Bush administration. As long as we present the face of committed opposition (instead of petulant anger) then the overall quality of political posts will improve ...

This is excellent. The central value proposition behind MeFi is that if you have several thousand people each looking at their own particular slice of the web ... and contributing the most interesting and unusual links they find on their travels, the network that is formed does indeed become a "meta" filter for the web ... and site visitors can stumble across links that they never otherwise would have found with traditional filters (like SE's) - or even known to look for.

Obviously in the case of the political discussions, there's been a divergence from this (e.g., most links come from highly visited sites that almost everyone already knows, on topics that are already in the news). However, that doesn't mean that same value proposition cannot be adapted - only in this instance, the "meta" filter aspect does not filter websites, but rather points of view.

Just as the core value of MeFi lies in the fact that visitors can inadvertently stumble across surprising and interesting sites that wouldn't otherwise have found, so - I believe - can the political discussions permit people to stumble across surprising and interesting perspectives that they might not otherwise have been exposed to (or even considered).

This, however, is only possible if those initiating the posts, and participating in the discussions, are both willing to acknowledge that there are perspectives other than their own that might be worthy of consideration, and to willingly invite those perspectives into the discussion (indeed, to try to actually draw them out, instead of shutting them down).

There are already political filters on the web ... all sorts of boards where the left, right, center, and fringes can speak with like-minded people. A meta filter is a board where all of those perspectives speak with each other. The potential downside of such an ideal is that there is no common, shared ideology or paradigm, and it can easily descend into uselessly antagonistic vitriol. The potential upside, however, is (again) that there is no common, shared ideology or paradigm, and hence people can come into contact with unusual ideas, and have their most basic assumptions challenged ... for the extremes of the left and the right, this is a nasty proposition (there is no possible challenge - they are right, and that is that) ... but for a good number of people, to have one's ideas intelligently challenged, refined through discourse, and sometimes expanded (or occasionally even discarded) as a result, is the very essence of intellectual development.

This is often not what MeFi political discourse is now, but it is what it quite often could be, if the intention and effort to make it so exists.
posted by MidasMulligan at 8:22 PM on December 17, 2003


I'd invite you to join me in MeFiVow 2004.

I'm totally uninterested in your vow, Midas, I'm afraid, even if I agree in principle with the first two items.

I feel that my contributions to this site over the last three years -- good, bad, and frequently ugly -- are as they should be. Certainly I have said things I regret, but on the other hand I've written many things of which I am very proud, and taken as a whole, my participation reflects who I am, and is a matter of some pride to me, in this little forum of ours.

This is also as it should be.

If you believe me to be part of the 'problem', whatever that problem may be, you are well within your rights to do so. But being chivvied into letting you own the nature of my discourse -- even if, as Wulfgar! suggests, you may well have the best motives in mind -- is not something that I'm willing to do.

My posting history here at Metatalk will indicate that I care deeply about this community, and bemoan as much as anyone else each notch as it slips towards the lowest common denominator, in my own way. There are times when I agree with Mars Saxman that that may not actually be the case -- that things are getting worse -- but there are times when I am sure they are.

But for all your high-minded speech (the gist of which I agree with, for the most part), I don't see you here on an almost-daily basis, taking as good as you give, being part of the interplay of intelligent people that makes this place such a joy, making mistakes, losing your temper, sharing your knowledge. I see you parachuting in and talking up a high-minded ideal. And not one that hasn't been discussed before.

Which is not to attack you, Mr Sensitive, just in case you're feeling put upon again by my inimitable and abrasive style.

The point being that I do my best, in my rambling, synaptic-misfiring, good-hearted way to make this place better, but I sure as fuck am not going to agree to a set of arbitrary rules suggested by you or anyone else, that can be pointed to (a la hama7's incessant pointing to a comment I made as the Iraq was started) and shoved in my face every time I lose my temper or call George Bush a shit-monger.

'cause it's gonna happen.

So thanks for the invite, but I'll continue to try and make Metafilter a good place in my own way. You do the same in yours, and all will go swimmingly.

As long as we present the face of commited opposition (instead of petulant anger) then the overall quality of political posts will improve

Yup, but I'm not going to rule out the possibility of losing goign ballistic once in a while. That's me, fer chrissakes. (Yelling at clavdivs about personas and persons notwithstanding. Heh.)
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:53 PM on December 17, 2003


But for all your high-minded speech (the gist of which I agree with, for the most part), I don't see you here on an almost-daily basis, taking as good as you give, being part of the interplay of intelligent people that makes this place such a joy, making mistakes, losing your temper, sharing your knowledge. I see you parachuting in and talking up a high-minded ideal.

Since this seems (oddly) to be an issue ... that is getting in the way of ideas ... I did participate, quite frequently (quite often daily) for a good bit of time. Often the discussions were very interesting - though often they got quite personal. A couple things happened, though. I'm now quite engaged in building a business, and just plain don't have very much spare time. But the other problem is that the ratio of "interesting discussions" to "personal attacks" shifted substantially. While sparring at the personal level might be fun now and then ... it does get old. I'd much rather talk about ideas. And since I have so little spare time, spending any of it listening to personal attacks is just not something I wish to do.

Even in this one thread, you (and a couple of others) have decided to take a few shots at me (not my ideas ... me personally), and launch characterizations that - in the past - would have invoked (quite deserved) responses. I'm not going to engage in that, however, as it would serve to do nothing other than take this thread down the exact road that I'm arguing against.

Because it is wrong to complain about a problem without offering a solution ... that's what I've been trying to do. Whether you do anything different or not is certainly up to you. But I'll continue to try to float the idea of a MeFi where a larger variety of ideas are discussed with a wider perspective ... and where personal attacks become more of an exception than a rule - and come to be perceived with distaste ... and get ignored.

And I not only believe the majority of the currently active contributors find they liked such an environment quite a bit better, but also that some of the huge number of silent members might start feeling that this was a safe enough place to start talking a bit.
posted by MidasMulligan at 9:29 PM on December 17, 2003


Fair enough. But if what's happened in this thread is your idea of being attacked, I suggest that your skin is a titch too thin.

That being merely my opinion. And a condition that I share, of course.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:39 PM on December 17, 2003


Wow. What a busy little thread....

I'm inclined to sign onto Midas' first principle, #1 "1. Any FPPs I post that concern potentially volatile issues will contain multiple perspectives in their links, be even-handed in tone, and genuinely try to produce intelligent participation by the widest possible range of viewpoints." because it leaves me all warm and fuzzy inside. It appeals to my sense of idealism.

In fact, if one substitutes "statements" for "FPPs", the above principle could be the overriding imperative in a basic primer for working at the UN.

You know, I'm reminded of a story I ran across once whilst roaming the net, from a guy who claimed that he could do astral travel. He said that, on one such trip, he ran across one reality (quite valid and real) in which an alien energy life form fed off human negative emotions and 'farmed' humans by provoking their worst tendencies the way humans now farm cattle.

"Metafilter - food for 'bad vibe' eating aliens"?

Hmmmm....where was I going with that? - oh yeah : I'd be happy to sign onto Midas' first principle. The next two make me leery because I can be occasionally inconsistent, and the last principle somehow reminds me of a famous Nietzsche quote :

"Be careful in casting out demons lest ye cast out that which is best in yourselves"....

Still, Midas' first principle is the most crucial, I would say - and I can't see fault in encouraging us humans to flex our cortexes rather than snapping out with our midbrains....

* Bares teeth - Snap! Snap snap !!*
posted by troutfishing at 9:44 PM on December 17, 2003


stav, i love you, and if we were in a bar together i would most likely buy you a drink or two or three, but i do have this nagging suspicion of you holding a SLIGHT grudge against the current US administrations' policies, as do many people here (including me!). that's all good, but after many months of lurking and then *finally* given the priviledge of joining the ranks i considered that any political FPP's i would make would be as 'fair and balanced' as possible, w/o linking to OP-ED pieces or trying to belittle the other side with snide comments. in other words: let the readers make up their own minds. we're intelligent enough to handle this, right? we're beyond petty personal squabbles and can acknowledge when an insightful point has been made? shit, i've seen a few people here actually admit their own biased feelings on a subject (who isn't guily of this) and this is a positive thing.

on preview: troutfishing is a total asshole 'cause he is much more intelligent in translating this kind of stuff :)
posted by poopy at 9:52 PM on December 17, 2003


let the readers make up their own minds.

poopy, I did try that here, without candycoating or stealth-injecting (mmm, sounds sexy) my own opinions, and with some success, I think, at least according to Seth. Heh.

I could never be accused of being reticent in expressing my beliefs, I'm afraid, though.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:08 PM on December 17, 2003


I know I'm a little late to this party but I have an idea.

dean and clark should run on the same ticket. they could call it the super ticket or something. clark gets to be prez since dean is a little radical. think about it though, they'd be unbeatable. imagine clark and dean in a debate with bush. that comedy gold mine is worth the price alone.

anyways, just think about it ok!

oh yeah, another thought hit me today: what if bush were president during the cuban missile crisis? yikes.
posted by mcsweetie at 10:12 PM on December 17, 2003


Midas: I'm with you on three quarters of your vow, but I feel that I cannot abide by rule #2. I feel like it is a MeFi responsibility to raise the level of discourse in threads designed to lower it. Take this thread, even -- a strict reading of the vow would have kept me out of it, but look what good has come of it.
posted by Ptrin at 10:40 PM on December 17, 2003


oh yeah, another thought hit me today: what if bush were president during the cuban missile crisis? yikes.

Are you saying the Cubans were not an imminent threat? That we didn't all end up speaking Cuban?
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 10:49 PM on December 17, 2003


That sentence would have been a lot more convincing without the ad hominem snark at the end.

fuzz, buddy, learn a little bit about logic, please. Snarky? Yes. Accusatory? Absolutely. Ad Hominem? Not so much, which is to say, not at all. Mr. at L frequently claims that others ideas aren't worth much because we have "agendas". And you think I leveled an ad hominem attack? Puhlease! Check your definitions and get back to me. It's okay .. I'll wait.
posted by Wulfgar! at 11:07 PM on December 17, 2003


"I'm not levelling ad hominem attacks, he is! Yes, I'm being snarky and accusatory, but we need to move beyond petulant anger. Puhlease!"

*sighs*
posted by fuzz at 12:36 AM on December 18, 2003


fuzz: This 'dialog' of ours illustrates my point.

First, we must address each other up front, breaking the flow of the thread (a type of derailing).

Second, I had swept through this thread 4 or 5 times before I noticed during this last sweep that you had responded to me. Further, if you do respond to this current post, chances are very good I will never know it because by the time I get to back to MeTalk (on Sunday), this whole post will have dropped out of sight.

Matt calls MeFi many things that it is in fact not, like "the Plastic it's okay to like" and "community weblog". If MeFI was in fact either of those, this entire post (HateBushFilter) would be senseless.
posted by mischief at 1:53 AM on December 18, 2003


Sorry, I'm a little late to the party.

I wonder how much of the problem with the bad posts about Bush's little gaffes is people posting right after they've read something and are still angry about it. This happens to me all the time: I read something outrageous (to me), decide the world (i.e., Metafilter) must know about it. 30 minutes later, I'm realize what a stupid post it would be. Does this happen to others?

Maybe if we could just encourage people to cool off a little bit before posting something that they've read and are mad about, it might solve some of the problems with the most ridiculous posts.

My other personal wish for Metafilter is that people would just be respectful of each other. That means recognizing that people with opposing political perspectives are not evil incarnate--they simply see and interpret the world from a different perspective and with a different set of assumptions. It also means avoiding ad homenim (and otherwise disrepectful) attacks, even when provoked. When you have members telling each other to fuck off, it doesn't just lower the quality of the debate in the current thread, it leads to grudges and rivalries that reduces the quality of all similar threads in the future.
posted by boltman at 2:09 AM on December 18, 2003


I'd invite you to join me in MeFiVow 2004.

What is this the fucking Saved By the Bell Christmas anniversary special? That is perhaps the stupidest shit I've ever heard on something so novel that not in a million years do you ever want to restrain it! You don't restrain MetaFilter by constraining its content. Making vows? You still paying your frat dues Midas?

It's not like Matt has set aside a defined space where only X number of FPPs can ever appear per day. You don't like it, don't freaking read it! I don't.

Metafilter is nobody's to control by a cheezy ass system of vows and ritual. Metafilter is because of its multifarious membership. Let the members do what they do and then pay the price individually, not by alliance against them, but by naturally letting the cards fall where they may.

If MeFi has settled into itself, so far, as being "lefitst", then so be it. It happened on its own, not by any manipulation by Matt, as we all probably agree. Which in itself says something about the inclusive propensities of many a "raving liberal" leftist I know. That we're not all raving, liberal, nor necessarily leftist. The marketplace of ideas is such that all are included. That be the case, you are welcome Midas to do whatever it is you want to do here. But yet, you do not have the right to define what it is that a poltically couth post is.

Fuck you bean counters. BTW.

.
posted by crasspastor at 2:23 AM on December 18, 2003


...you do not have the right to define what it is that a poltically couth post is.

Well, if you consider the punk rock Bush-bashing video thread an example of liberal political couth, then I guess I just feel sorry for you.
posted by Witty at 6:58 AM on December 18, 2003


if what's happened in this thread is your idea of being attacked, I suggest that your skin is a titch too thin

Did you perhaps miss y2karl's nasty, unprovoked attacks? Or do those fall under the laudable temper-losing category? And since then there's been crasspastor's charming
What is this the fucking Saved By the Bell Christmas anniversary special? That is perhaps the stupidest shit I've ever heard... You still paying your frat dues Midas?... Fuck you bean counters. BTW.

It never ceases to amaze me that the right-bashing folks here, while able to perceive the nasty attacks of the left-bashing righties, are constitutionally incapable of noticing the personal attacks the righties complain of. Midas and hama7 and steve_at_linwood (and evanizer and others who have left the site for that reason) have been repeatedly subject to vicious attacks whenever they stick their heads into a thread, regardless of what they actually say. Here Midas presents thoughtful suggestions while acknowledging his own past sins and vowing to do better, and some people can come up with no better response than "Look! The asshole is flapping his lips!" [Note: Not an Actual Quote.] The same thing happened to steve_at when he made a similar vow last year. News flash: sin and virtue do not correlate well with political viewpoints. Let's try not to be knee-jerks.
posted by languagehat at 8:45 AM on December 18, 2003


I liked Midas' example post. And I'd agree with languagehat that there's dumping and abuse on both sides of the political equation or - as it were - dumping by all upon all from the four quarters of the quadrasected political map. (damn that sounds asinine, but I just hate the simplicity of the Left/right cliche)

In any case, there are a lot of Metafilter members who don't contribute much - if at all - in the way of comments or posts but who still read the site. Those would tend to be the types who would be put off from participating based on the level of bashing going on.

Additionally I think some readers tend to give - rightly or not - the benefit of the doubt to those commentators who manage to stay calm and polite, and who sublimate their anger through generating blizzards of reasoned argument and substantiating links.
posted by troutfishing at 10:29 AM on December 18, 2003


And aren't I just troutfuckin' holier than thou.
posted by troutfishing at 10:37 AM on December 18, 2003


And aren't I just troutfuckin' holier than thou.

Wait a minute... is this the long-feared merger between troutfishing and fishfucker??
posted by languagehat at 11:41 AM on December 18, 2003


And aren't I just troutfuckin' holier than thou.

hehe. troutfishing, i was thinking the same thing (mainly because i'm jealous that you're able to articulate this much better) and there you go admitting to it. you fucker of trout you. :)
posted by poopy at 11:47 AM on December 18, 2003


The week that Clinton got sworn in, there was a guy at the gas station in front of me with IMPEACH CLINTON on the back window. The first week!

Funny how well that worked.
posted by hama7 at 1:09 PM on December 18, 2003


Somebody once said; "Jumping into a pack of hungry puppies with hamburger all over you" (or something like that as a metaphor for MetaFilter) is no fun, but informative and thoughtful comments that are met with outrageous and hysterical personal insults generally just make the insulters look ridiculous, which is why it's a loss to MetaFilter that MidasMulligan's comments aren't available on a more regular basis. They were greatly appreciated by many around here.
posted by hama7 at 1:23 PM on December 18, 2003


Funny how well that worked.
Somebody once said; "Jumping into a pack of hungry puppies with hamburger all over you" (or something like that as a metaphor for MetaFilter)

I am very confused by hama7's analogies here. First of all, Clinton WAS impeached. I'm assuming he's being sarcastic, but if so, wouldn't the message be that the from-start urge to attack Clinton non-stop led to a temporary setting of moral victory for his opponents followed by the loss of his successor in the national election? I certainly don't see how hama7 is countering Matt's comment by implying that attacking Bush is a good thing, and yet that's what it seems to do here.

The puppies one is just speculative. What if they were really tiny and furry puppies? Like, without their big teeth in yet? Jumping into a pack of them could be somewhat enjoyable, and in some cases even possibly arousing. Assuming, of course, you don't weigh a lot, in which case jumping into a pack of hungry puppies will lead to splattered puppy guts which I doubt smells very well mixed with hamburger and your natural body odor.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 3:20 PM on December 18, 2003


Somebody once said; "Jumping into a pack of hungry puppies with hamburger all over you" (or something like that as a metaphor for MetaFilter) is no fun,

Yeah, they might lick you to death ...

but informative and thoughtful comments that are met with outrageous and hysterical personal insults generally just make the insulters look ridiculous, which is why it's a loss to MetaFilter that MidasMulligan's comments aren't available on a more regular basis.

hama7, your conclusion doesn't follow from your premiss. If insults simply make the insulter look foolish, than why on Earth would that cause persons such as MM to go absent? What you've just argued is that you want Midas around more often, so that people will insult him, and thereby look rediculous and thereby enrich MetaFilter, as opposed to being a loss to (when Midas doesn't comment, and people don't insult him, which is in your words a loss to MetaFilter). Is this truly what you want? How selfish of you.

They were greatly appreciated by many around here.

As they are by me. More grist for the mill, I say. But please don't expect that any will hold back fang, beak or sword, just because another doesn't like being licked by puppies.
posted by Wulfgar! at 3:51 PM on December 18, 2003


languagehat, what the fuck are you talking about, man?

I see no particularly nasty attacks from y2karl on Midas in this thread, and the bleating you quote from crasspastor came after my post, for christ's sakes. What am I supposed to be, clairvoyant?
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:23 PM on December 18, 2003


Rather than start a whole new thread, I'd just like to point out that "Don't like it? Ignore it." will now become my new mantra.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 5:56 PM on December 18, 2003


Rather than comment substantively at the tail end of a 250+ comment thread, and because I feel a little guilty for metatalking in the blue (although the bulk of the thread was others doing exactly that, and although I felt it the best place to say my piece), here (including the thread-starting post itself) is my response to the 'balanced rewrite' thing.

For ease of reading :
I was in small part trying to make a metapoint (while still hoping that the thread would be useful to some) that the 'balanced rewrite' idea that many seem to like so much is wishful thinking in a forum, that despite lip service to the contrary, has turned into a discussion site first and foremost. That in fact as a proposal it directly addresses the fact that Metafilter is now a discussion forum, by pretending 'it's about the links', when in fact such a rewrite takes the focus off the value of the link or links and places it squarely on a concern about the 'quality' of the resultant discussion. Ironic that those who would trumpet in lockstep with Matt about 'quality links' so quickly fall in with an idea that is in fact focussed on discussion. Or, if not ironic, at least indicative that, as in most aspects of society today, what is being discussed is the phrasing used to describe something, rather than the thing itself. Which is a staggering debasement of debate, of course.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:17 PM on December 18, 2003


I almost forgot!

Metafilter: Threat or Menace?
posted by Ptrin at 6:26 PM on December 18, 2003


To elaborate : my 'balanced' post did not foster discussion, other than some metacommentary. Which is no big deal to me, but goes to help me make my point.

skallas's totally crap, 'unbalanced' post today (in a similar, dissenty vein, of course) : fast moving discussion (in terms of quantity) (with admittedly also quite a lot of metacommentary).

I understand that the driver behind the idea of posting 'balanced' views is not to foster more discussion per se but to foster higher quality discussion (which as I said above, seems to subvert the point of Metafilter (best links) while simultaneously pretending to support it)), but I would suggest that this is not the way to do it. It is a solution that does not address the problem, which is with the discussion, not the links.

So, in Midas's self-described spirit of 'do not talk about a problem without offering a solution', I suggest : The Banhammer!

Yes, yes, yes. If someone does nothing but contribute noise (I'm not talking about the occasional joke or snark, and I'm not talking about humourous but substantive contributions to the discussion) ban the fucker! Maybe if they egregriously violate Midas's Vows, let 'em sit in the duncehat corner for a while (or forever).

If I were having a party in my house and someone refused to be civil, he'd be out on his ear before he could close his fly and take the lampshade off his head. Is this different?

(I leave it to the reader to decide if I'm serious about the Banhammer or not. I am however entirely serious about the fact that I don't think the idea that balancing links in a politically-charged post is either helpful, or something, clearly, that most people are going to do. Buzz happens over the controversial, and people like buzz (look at what's happened to television news), and there is no changing that. People will continue to post things that are designed to elicit outrage and anger, and other people will continue to flock to those posts. And flock away, for the most part (but not entirely, which keeps Metafilter worth visiting) from posts that require some thought.)
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:41 PM on December 18, 2003


For the purpose of discussion (NOW DEAD), I just thought I'd mention to whoever cares, including stav and languagehat:

What I wrote came directly after this by boltman:

My other personal wish for Metafilter is that people would just be respectful of each other. That means recognizing that people with opposing political perspectives are not evil incarnate--they simply see and interpret the world from a different perspective and with a different set of assumptions. It also means avoiding ad homenim (and otherwise disrepectful) attacks, even when provoked. When you have members telling each other to fuck off, it doesn't just lower the quality of the debate in the current thread, it leads to grudges and rivalries that reduces the quality of all similar threads in the future.

This being MetaTalk I just thought my soundin' all flyin' off the handle would be kind of funny. I know, I know, the discussion boards don't do irony.

Oh and Stav, you may not be clairvoyant, but you did kind of make me do it and all. You need to quit writing so clearly.
posted by crasspastor at 6:53 PM on December 18, 2003


Maybe try [irony][/irony] tags next time, cp.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:03 PM on December 18, 2003


the puppies thing came from evanizer , it was his last comment before he left.
posted by sgt.serenity at 7:36 PM on December 18, 2003


in fact such a rewrite takes the focus off the value of the link or links and places it squarely on a concern about the 'quality' of the resultant discussion

Found something cool on the web and want to share it with everyone else? Great! Not so fast! You can't post until you Google up something else on the web that may or may not be cool and that you may or may not really want to share. For balance!
posted by eddydamascene at 8:09 PM on December 18, 2003


I knew there must be a something that offered more balance than Hannity and Colmes (which is a good idea, badly executed) and the search lead me to the National Center for Policy Analysis, which seemed so useful that I made it a FPP. Ya know, for balance.

Also, this thread is taking too long to load, and I keep forgetting what the puppies and meat suit was all about. (I think they did that on JackAss once didn't they?)
posted by milovoo at 8:54 PM on December 18, 2003




hama7, your conclusion doesn't follow from your premiss. If insults simply make the insulter look foolish, than why on Earth would that cause persons such as MM to go absent?

Because he doesn't like idiotic people falling all over themselves to insult him for anything he writes? Because it's a waste of his time to write thoughtful posts just to have the conversational equivalent of a high school detention hall (see above) riddle the post with insults and personal attacks? I don't know, ask him.

the puppies thing came from evanizer

It did. So I'm assuming that this general feeling, especially among the you-know-whos is not just coincidentally occurring.
posted by hama7 at 8:40 AM on December 19, 2003


stav:

Not to put too fine a point on it but, considering the source, Midas, that is, what a load of bullshit.

Ah, if this only meant no more kneejerk Al-Gore-said-he-invented-the-internet-and-Hillary-channeled-Eleanor-Roosevelt-in-the-White-House Clinton-hateoholic crapola...


Those don't sound nasty to you? Whatever. As for crasspastor, that's why I said "since then" (ie, since your comment); my point was not that you should have been clairvoyant but that clearly there is a problem with people making unprovoked attacks on Midas (and others), and you should acknowledge it rather than wishing it away.

crasspastor: Irony's fine, but it has to exist somewhere other than in your mind. It wasn't in your words.
posted by languagehat at 9:19 AM on December 19, 2003


Those don't sound nasty to you? Whatever.

No, they don't, particularly. As you say, whatever.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:04 PM on December 19, 2003


What stav said.
posted by y2karl at 6:45 PM on December 29, 2003


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