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FPP: Trolling?
March 26, 2004 11:33 AM   Subscribe

"As for the purpose of this post, I guess I wanted to see if you loud-mouthed, violently prejudiced morons on Mefi had it left in you to try and rationally adress a troubling issue that doesn't jive with your incredibly narrow viewpoints."

Thank you sir may I have another
posted by scarabic to Bugs at 11:33 AM (149 comments total)

Actually, to put a positive spin on this for once, I'd just like to applaud everyone who responded (as Krrrlson calls you: "the pricks in the audience") for showing the wit to see through this bullshit post's smoke screen. As the first commenter, I didn't have anyone else's thoughts to go on when I first saw this, and I feared, thankfully in vain, that it might slip under the radar and go unchallenged.

Bravo, MeFi!
posted by scarabic at 11:35 AM on March 26, 2004


Shit, sorry about "bugs." Unless that also applies to posts that really bug me.
posted by scarabic at 11:39 AM on March 26, 2004


Krrrlson has completely lost it. To carp about the imminent Canadian Holocaust is to do damage to the cause of combatting real hate, but I'm finally starting to understand his/her logic here:

Krrrlson thinks that all MeFites are stupid, and is thus confused/abhored that we aren't all accepting a very stupid interpretation of an event. It all makes perfect sense. But I've never understood the crusade being waged by Krrrlson, set, et al in which they attempt to win people over to their view of the world by continuinally issuing pre-packaged and irrelevant insults.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 11:50 AM on March 26, 2004


One crappy post leads to others, I suppose.
posted by BlueTrain at 11:56 AM on March 26, 2004


I'm not sure what you're complaining about scarabic. If it's the tone of the quotation, don't you think it's relevant that krrrlson posted that only after all of the following were written about him and his post:
This post sucks.

I mean, give me a freaking break.

Stupid post.

Um.... yeah. Oh! Yeah! This post sucks!

Is "flame bait" one word, or two?

everybody who doesn't agree with Krrrlson is anti-Semite too.

anyway, to put the final nail in this thread

what a terrible, dishonest post

[Officially nominated for worst post of 2004.]

Yeah, this is one of the most dishonest posts I've ever read on Metafilter.

Your lack of any sort of link or logic on this point betrays your underlying intellectual dishonesty.


Can you really blame krrrlson for being a wee bit defensive?

Frankly, I'm not sure why you're so congratulatory, scarabic. I read that post and see nothing more than a bunch of people who just dismissed the post out of hand and attacked the poster. Don't you see any irony in the fact that when a leftist issue gets posted, everyone pats each other on the back, but in the rare case when someone submits a post with a conservative theme everyone just piles on the invective, dismissing the arguments out of hand? If you disagree with the point being made, say so and explain why. But if you care at all about fairness, we're a long way past the point when politically-oriented posts are subject to a MeTa call-out just because someone happens to disagree with the point being made.
posted by pardonyou? at 12:01 PM on March 26, 2004


gibe/jive/jibe
posted by gleuschk at 12:03 PM on March 26, 2004


One crappy post leads to others, I suppose.
posted by BlueTrain at 11:56 AM PST on March 26


Therein lies the basis for critique that several people have presented of why this stuff has to be cut out.

To borrow from Moynihan, this is the classic case of "defining deviancy down." The more of this crap you allow, the more and poorer crap gets posted. It becomes increasingly harder to draw the line. The content of the FP the last 4 months or so shows Moynihan's thesis in perfect application.
posted by Seth at 12:04 PM on March 26, 2004


Thank you, gleuschk, for saving me the trouble of looking up a source for that - the most annoying aspect of the whole argument. (And that's sayin' something)
posted by soyjoy at 12:08 PM on March 26, 2004


I read that post and see nothing more than a bunch of people who just dismissed the post out of hand and attacked the poster.

Are you serious? Does it not matter that the post was demonstrably factually incorrect and intellectually dishonest, that in the interest of "fairness" one has a repsonsibility to ignore facts?

If you really read the articles, and really don't think the cascade of complaints in the thread was appropriate, please explain why in a manner that references the facts of the post and thread itself, rather than simply a "lefty" caricature.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 12:08 PM on March 26, 2004


Oops, I missed this on the first pass:

But I've never understood the crusade being waged by Krrrlson, set, et al in which they attempt to win people over to their view of the world by continuinally issuing pre-packaged and irrelevant insults.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 11:50 AM PST on March 26


I assume that "set" was directed at me? If so, could you please direct me to where I have insulted someone? I have posted in several contentious threads trying very hard to present a measured counter-point as the advocatus diaboli. A fair reading of these threads clearly shows that the pre-packaged and irrelevant insults are from those who try to shout me down for trying to present a counter-point.

What this shows is that this is a terrible place for a discussion. As a site for sharing great things found elsewhere (such as this link), MeFi is great. But it is a poor place for discussing contentious issues. The participants don't give each other respect, and too many people behave holier than thou. And since it is a closed community, the "echo chamber" quality is increased and ass-patting becomes the norm instead of disputaion.

There is a marked difference in the quality of FPPs and comments now then there were in the past. And I have tried to point this out, and you may agree with me or not. But it is improper and just proves my point when you accuse me of using "pre-packaged and irrelevant insults."
posted by Seth at 12:16 PM on March 26, 2004


Are you serious? Does it not matter that the post was demonstrably factually incorrect and intellectually dishonest, that in the interest of "fairness" one has a repsonsibility to ignore facts?

Of course it matters. I'm not defending the accuracy of the post. I'm saying that I often quibble with the accuracy of posts, and try to explain why, without piling on the "this post sucks" bandwagon. It just strikes me as juvenile, when 20 people feel the need to do nothing more than parrot some variation of "this post sucks."
posted by pardonyou? at 12:19 PM on March 26, 2004


Yes, gleuschk - i didn't want to stoop to grammar policing in the callout itself. Thank you.

pardonyou? - I see your point. It's not surprising that this person got defensive after being unanimously shouted down.

Let's not make the mistake of concluding that s/he got shouted down merely because the theme was conservative. What people shouted down was the following:

1) That only one side of this was reported. No mention of the opposing group getting suspended too.

2) Dubious connection between several hate crimes in the city and this policy action by the University.

3) Invoking the holocaust in this context.

Those were pretty specific criticisms, and people tracked down the supporting material to back them up. A job well done, in my humble opinion.

I guess 4) I will take the lead on returning a very nice "fuck you" for the "moron" and "prick" comments returned by the poster after having been thoroughly debunked. For fuck's sake, whenever you think you're right and EVERYONE else is wrong, chances are you have a screw loose. This is an opportunity to reflect on your words and actions, not to lash out with obscenities.

It's one thing to post something that's factually inaccurate. That's what I would call a mistake. But the poster clearly made an editorial decision to create a tie between the hate crimes and the policy action, which was a creative act, an act of blatant propaganda, and I think deserved a little more than mere correction. Like, "don't do that shit!"

I don't really know what you're talking about with the back-patting, though. People like Postroad get absolutely reamed for all the anti-Bush stuff they post. Given the above flaws in this post, however, you've gotta admit that at least some of the anti-Bush stuff might be more legit.
posted by scarabic at 12:26 PM on March 26, 2004


i agree with you completely, seth - this place is useless for discussions. it's agressive and one-sided. that's true whatever the quality of the particular post under discussion.
posted by andrew cooke at 12:35 PM on March 26, 2004


It just strikes me as juvenile, when 20 people feel the need to do nothing more than parrot some variation of "this post sucks."

Oh, I do so agree. Thank God, you never do that sort of thing.
posted by y2karl at 12:36 PM on March 26, 2004


Seth-
Are you serious? Have you ever made a comment about anything other than your personal outrage at the leftyjacking of Metafilter? You called people hypocrites in three of the first five comments I checked out. And that's fine. If you think people are hypocrites, don't hold you tongue on my account, but can't simultaneously engage in political discussions and decry their very existence as profane. That's very Bill Bennett.

I don't feel like wading through your ouvre and then having a semantic argument about what an insult is, so I'll respectfully amend my previous comment by removing the phrase "pre-packaged and irrelevant insult" and inserting the phrase "pre-packaged and irrelevant bullshit." I apologize for my previous statement.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 12:40 PM on March 26, 2004


Can you really blame krrrlson for being a wee bit defensive?


if you post an inflammatory fpp and your links not only don't support your position but they contradict the main thrust of your argument (and you also throw in an anti-Canada joke for good measure) you should be ready for a, ahem, strong reaction.

and anyway Krrrlson's commenting history is proof of his penchant for bad manners, personal insults, threats of physical violence.
I'm not sure he's in a good position to complain about people here being snarky.
cry me a river.


ps also, Krrrlson's own equation of "anti-Israel" = "anti-semite" really shows why he is unable to post clearly and honestly about the issue.

posted by matteo at 12:44 PM on March 26, 2004


scarabic, the egg is on your face, I'm afraid. You knew it would so easy to make this thread, so you made it. Listen to some wisdom:-

pardonyou? : Don't you see any irony in the fact that when a leftist issue gets posted, everyone pats each other on the back, but in the rare case when someone submits a post with a conservative theme everyone just piles on the invective, dismissing the arguments out of hand?

seth: What this shows is that [Metafilter] is a terrible place for a discussion. As a site for sharing great things found elsewhere (such as this link), MeFi is great. But it is a poor place for discussing contentious issues. The participants don't give each other respect, and too many people behave holier than thou. And since it is a closed community, the "echo chamber" quality is increased and ass-patting becomes the norm instead of disputaion.

But I congratulate you, scarabic, for raising a much more pertinent issue: that Metafilter is a god-awful place to discuss something seriously. I've tried myself in vain, and always maintain my integrity and cool, whereas when others cannot counter my arguments honestly, they choose to ad hominem. Even one member repeatedly cyber-stalked me (I have evidence of this). It's a pity: the contributors here have high intelligence, but boy are a lot of people lacking in maturity.
posted by SpaceCadet at 12:47 PM on March 26, 2004


but in the rare case when someone submits a post with a conservative theme everyone just piles on the invective, dismissing the arguments out of hand



no, it wasn't "attack-the-poster". it's that he posted a lie, putting a dishonest spin on the article linked. ane users pointed out that huge inconsistency.
or do you mean that right-wingers deserve different rules and their dishonest posts are OK?


MeTa call-out just because someone happens to disagree with the point being made.

no, it was Krrrlson's penchant for calling people "morons", "pricks", etc that spawned a MeTa thread.

again, cry me a river
posted by matteo at 12:51 PM on March 26, 2004


Not to turn this into a Sethfest, but Seth, I hope you do find the right wavelength here and persist. I don't know you so I can't guess at your demographics, but I do find something different about your perspective that makes for a good compliment to the standard MeFite profile. Your basic cloth seems to be a somewhat conservative one, but you're not a big fat ideologue like some I could mention, and it is clear you value this forum and want to see it thrive. Commitment is important in any relationship.

Anyway, stick around. But as quonsar suggested recently, maybe you would get more for your mileage if you post more links and debate ettiquette/politics less. I don't know about you, but that shit tires me out to no end. Just a thought.
posted by scarabic at 12:54 PM on March 26, 2004


Space Cadet - I would agree with you if there were anything resembling a "post with a conservative theme" or a "great thing found elsewhere" within a mile of this conversation. What we have here is a lump of excrement in a rented tux.

Anyway, show me a good place to discuss Israel/Palestine. The best thing I can say for MeFi as regards this thread is that at least people dug up some factual matter to insert into the fisticuffs.

It ain't perfect. Least helpful of all are burned-out husks who linger on to tell all the rest of us what a waste of time it all is. If you're through here, roll on already. I guess I wish you luck on your travels elsewhere. Bye!
posted by scarabic at 12:58 PM on March 26, 2004


no, it wasn't "attack-the-poster". it's that he posted a lie, putting a dishonest spin on the article linked.
posted by matteo at 12:51 PM PST on March 26


Give us a break matteo. There is clear evidence of rabid ad hominem in that thead. There is plenty reason to condemn that thread (and I think it is a bad FPP). But the mode and style of the responses is obvious.

You disagree with the person so you shout them down in a dismissive and hateful manner. Don't try to gussy this up and suggest that the FPP is slanted and mischaracterized, and therefore deserving of that treatment. You didn't seem to mind when the same was done on a point that you agreed with.

The truth is that ALL of these FPPs are garbage, and the behavior in this linked thread are clear indications of why they shouldn't be here.
posted by Seth at 1:01 PM on March 26, 2004


You knew it would so easy to make this thread, so you made it.

You know, I wouldn't have if Krrrlson hadn't had the audacity to lash out against everybody after posting such a pungent turd. If I run out and post a factually dishonest, inflammatory "Bush Sux" FPP and then call everyone idiots and dicks because they don't "get it" you're welcome to tar and feather me as well.

Oh, except you'll be gone. Right.
posted by scarabic at 1:02 PM on March 26, 2004


Seth-
The posts that you link to are not lying, are they (though I would agree that at least the last one is, indeed, garbage)? Are you saying that all political speech is equally invalid, and that whether or not someone is lying has no relevance?

It's all well and good that you have a personal mission on Metafilter, but do keep in mind that the politics-free utopia for which you pine has never existed, nor is there any indication that mathowie would want it to. Put it this way: people (mathowie included, on some occaisions) are going to continue to post about politics, so your comments here can only really serve to indicate it doesn't matter if they're lying or not. That is not productive. Certainly, there are venues in this world in which people do talk about politics more civilly and productively than on MeFi, right? Is indifference to intellectual honesty a common characteristic of those venues?
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 1:10 PM on March 26, 2004


I miss Matt. :(
posted by precocious at 1:15 PM on March 26, 2004


I miss Matt.

Me too.
posted by BlueTrain at 1:16 PM on March 26, 2004


Seth is a lot more readable if you imagine him having the voice of the Comic Book Store Guy from the Simpsons. Try it, you'll see!
posted by interrobang at 1:17 PM on March 26, 2004


The links I listed are *different* than this one, Ignatius?

Orginal critique:
it's that he posted a lie, putting a dishonest spin on the article linked

Sample posts:

I thought Bush liked to give off to the public that he was serious about WMD.
Guess I was wrong.

- Bush made a joke at a press corps dinner where he is expect to make jokes about himself. It is "dishonest spin" to suggest that such a joke means that he isn't serious about it.

Thou shalt not make scientific progress.
- It is dishonest spin to suggest that Bush is against All Scientific Progress because of his Christianity. He is opposed to a certain form of science because he finds ethical problems with it.

DOJ Asked FBI Translator To Change Pre 9-11 Intercepts
- This article didn't support this propostion at all. There is nothing which says she was ordered to change the intercepts. It is spin to try to cast the current administration in a negative light.

Bush lies about taxes.- Nowhere in the linked article does it say Bush lied about anything. It was an article about how the way Bush characterized certain votes as votes for higher taxes. The point of the article is that Bush should be careful of that characterization because it could be used to show that Bush was for higher taxes on some things. But it is complete and un-adulterated spin to suggest that Bush "lied" about that.


And the last one is a FPP that suggests that administration pre-approved the move to kill the Hamas leader. There is no idication of this, and it was pure spin.

Can you, in good faith, say that this FPP is any less appropriate than the others? Can you not get past your personal agreement to see the similarity?????

They are all ax-grinding garbage and the resulting discussion is either worthless ass-patting or venomous bile. There isn't a single shred of good discussion in any of them.

And I have never said that all political discussions are equally bad. But they are shown to be so here. Most of the political threads are written from a one-sided op/ed mindset which sets the tone for the discussion. We had a MeTa thread in the past where myself and others showed ways that a good discussion could be had. But the utterly worthless FPPs referenced in this thread could never foster a worthwhile discussion.
posted by Seth at 1:31 PM on March 26, 2004


what a stupid post. in the ensuing thread krrrlson proceeds to make things much worse for himself ...
posted by specialk420 at 1:36 PM on March 26, 2004


Wow, it really works. Thanks, interrobang!
posted by Galvatron at 1:50 PM on March 26, 2004


The post wasn't lambasted because people disagreed with the viewpoint of the poster, it was because it linked to an article that was not only not the best of the web, but biased, dishonest and false.

We're expected to read that and not call Krrrlson on it? It was a pathetic post, that distorted an issue (either willfully or negligently) and debased the memory of the Holocaust by comparing it to an administrative decision applied equally to two antagonistic groups on the York University campus.

The problem with the post has nothing to do with Israel-Palestine, it has to do with the demonstrably crappy quality of the post.
posted by Dasein at 1:56 PM on March 26, 2004


Yeah, that's a great tip, interrobang.
posted by soyjoy at 2:00 PM on March 26, 2004


Oh, I do so agree. Thank God, you never do that sort of thing.

I don't recall ever joining in a big chorus of "this post sucks." Sometimes I call out BushFilter, but I'm usually the lone voice, then I get shouted at by a bunch of people saying, "If you don't like it, don't read it -- some of us don't want to put our heads in the sand -- why don't you go post your flash cartoons and we'll post about things that really matter in the world."
posted by pardonyou? at 2:01 PM on March 26, 2004


That thread was stupid, so was the one addressed to America. They're both stupid. One does not excuse the other, and having people insult your lame post is not a good reason to preface every comment with comments in the vein of "now you're finally reading what i say, moron."

It's also becoming abundantly clear that several members on MetaFilter aren't fully aware of the difference between an ad-hominem argument and an ad-hominem fallacy, which is an important distinction to make. Also, saying a post "sucks" and then proving why is not an ad-hominem in anyway--either an argument or a fallacy--although it might be poor form.
posted by The God Complex at 2:03 PM on March 26, 2004


Seth is a lot more readable if you imagine him having the voice of the Comic Book Store Guy from the Simpsons. Try it, you'll see!
posted by interrobang at 1:17 PM PST on March 26


!!!
posted by Seth at 2:09 PM on March 26, 2004


seth please take a chapter from dating 101, less talk. Plus you're discussing the same thing over & over in each met-talk thread.

But the utterly worthless FPPs referenced in this thread could never foster a worthwhile discussion.
You may not like my criticism yet you mention it above, nothing to discuss.

!!!...nothing there unless your a boot hanging on a sign over a tavern looking building. Look you seem enthused with this site and if you rolled with the punches you would gain respect. Bet most here would have less to say in person but still would not mind meeting each other, ymmv.
posted by thomcatspike at 2:15 PM on March 26, 2004


Can you, in good faith, say that this FPP is any less appropriate than the others?

Do you really not know the difference between having an opinion and lying? It is "spin," as you say, for me to take one view of a given Bush statement or position, and it is "spin" for you to advance your view. Fine. But neither is equivalent to the post we are discussing here. The equivalent would be if one of us said that Bush did not make the joke about WMD at all, or that Bush's joke was a clear sign of an upcoming holocaust in the US.

The post was dishonest. Not "slanted" or "biased." Dishonest. It is the height of irony that you willfully refuse to recognize that while at the same time arguing that Metafilter is hopelessly partisan.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 2:56 PM on March 26, 2004


We're expected to read that and not call Krrrlson on it?

Apparently, we're supposed to prove our tolerance by how well we tolerate stupidity. I can see why that argument has appeal with some of our most persistent critics.
posted by rcade at 3:12 PM on March 26, 2004


Ignatius,

You are displaying an amazing about of bad faith. There is nothing different about the quality of the two kinds of FPPs. They are both mischaracterizations of news articles advanced in such a way as to further the poster's agenda. So they are either both "lies" or they are both just "mischaracterizations." An impartial person could run a divining rod over them and not come up with any bit of difference. The only difference between the two is that you agree with one and disagree with the other. It is remarkable that you refuse to shed your partisan coat long enough to acknowledge that they are both equally repugnant because they do the same thing: present a slanted characterization in order to grind an axe.

Feel free to sit here all day long and try to come up with some artificial reason why one is "lying" and the other isn't. There isn't a difference. I would hope that your intellectual integrity would permit such a concession.
posted by Seth at 3:14 PM on March 26, 2004


...if you rolled with the punches you would gain respect (thomcatspike to seth)

What?!? "Seth, toe the line - fall into lock-step with the rest of us - there's a good boy" - jeez, Metafilter: grooming school for awkward non-conformists. Gain respect on MeFi? Some of us have greater ambitions.

All I can say is: one of the least likely places to find the truth on the web is Metafilter. It's core contrbutors continually post their own agendas (obvious example: rights for gays to marry*) - Metafilter is supposed to have no political leaning (ha! as if!), but since they closed membership a couple of years ago, you can really start to smell the cabin fever here. You want honesty? OK, look elsewhere. I've done the mileage in terms of serious, knuckle-to-knuckle discussions here. My findings? It's a bullshit place to debate anything serious. Let me just say that there is a large number of people here who cannot handle an opposing view. They resort to ad hominem instinctively, rather than rationalising a proper counter argument.

Anyway, give me the best of the web - just forget the serious stuff like it never happens, please.

*look, I'm not against gay marriage (standard disclaimer, I actually don't give a shit about it) - just that there's a disproportianate number of FPPs regarding this issue for a supposedly politically neutral website.
posted by SpaceCadet at 3:35 PM on March 26, 2004


The only difference between the two is that you agree with one and disagree with the other. It is remarkable that you refuse to shed your partisan coat long enough to acknowledge that they are both equally repugnant because they do the same thing: present a slanted characterization in order to grind an axe.

You are completely daft, Seth. And on a more personal note, if you think I've never criticized my "fellow leftists," you're completely full of shit. Attempting to argue with you is entirely pointless, and that sheds light, I guess, on your disdain for political discussion. I see Krrrlson's post as dishonest, a lie. I see those other posts as providing spin on an agreed-upon set of facts. I attempted to provide analogies to establish that, and you simply restated your claim that I am too partisan to notice that there is no difference between lying and not lying. Whatever.

So are the following two statements equivalent:
1. The Holocaust was the worst thing that has ever happened (opinion).
2. The Holocaust never happened (lie).

By your rubric, one would have to conclude that both are equally inappropriate points from which to start a discussion. I would argue that one is opinion with which a reasonable person might disagree (maybe some plague or another seems worse to them), whereas the other is in a different category altogether because it can be easilly and reasonably shown to be untrue on it's face. And you know this, too. You are trying to act like you don't know what a lie is, so I don't know what anyone could ever say to satisfy you. It really is too bad that is the responsibility of everyone on this web site to create an atmosphere that is pleasing to Seth.

But, as thomcat pointed out above, you're not even really talking about krrrlson's post. You're just having the same damn conversation you always do, about how Metafilter is such a great web site that you just have to spend so much bitching about it.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 3:36 PM on March 26, 2004


Let me just say that there is a large number of people here who cannot handle an opposing view. They resort to ad hominem instinctively, rather than rationalising a proper counter argument.

You're not implying that this was in any way the case in the thread being discussed here, are you? Or do you think that dishonest posts should be welcomed?

Never mind. This is insane. Let's go back to lying about potential Holocausts, lest we fall victim to "cabin fever."
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 3:39 PM on March 26, 2004


What?!? "Seth, toe the line - fall into lock-step with the rest of us - there's a good boy" - jeez,

referring to this: Seth is a lot more readable if you imagine him having the voice of the Comic Book Store Guy from the Simpsons. Try it, you'll see!
posted by interrobang at 1:17 PM PST on March 26

!!!
posted by Seth at 2:09 PM PST on March 26

posted by thomcatspike at 3:41 PM on March 26, 2004


You're not implying that this was in any way the case in the thread being discussed here, are you? Or do you think that dishonest posts should be welcomed?

There's a case of "who - me?" here going on, typically in this kind of thread (in MetaTalk). Everytime there's a "call-out" of some sort, I see it as Metafilter on trial itself, rather than the person being called out. It just stinks of mob rule. I've seen a lot worse than the thread that's being autopsied here - it really has more to do with the subject matter the thread exposed than the manner in which it was written. Ignatious, a good deal of what I read on Metafilter is untruth. If I called out every untruth on MeFi I'd be banned for prolific FPP posting.
posted by SpaceCadet at 3:56 PM on March 26, 2004


Ignatius,
I guess the point that you don't seem to grasping is that there is a difference between discussion politics and discussing politics on MeFi. You incorrectly assume that I am apoliitical or that I abhor all political discussion. My point has always been that it shouldn't be discussed HERE. Do you not understand this distinction? If people want to go discuss their political beef du jour, then go to hang out at your favorite political forum at DU or MoveOn or LGF or Freep. But MeFi shouldn't be the place for it.

And I would suggest that the reason you can't see my argument is because we don't agree on that point. My argument has always been that MeFi doesn't do political discussion well. One of the many reasons? Because, as your example just showed, you assume that a FPP should be about expressing an opinion. I guess you can't envision a post that presents an interesting point without discussing it or slanting it or injecting opinion. But when you create a FPP to make a point or grind your axe, than you are immediately creating a conflict in the readers: they have to either agree with you or disagree with you. And since no one here seems willing to respect the opinions of others, the resulting discussion sare either ass-patting or venom towards those who disagree. So political discussion on MeFi should be held to a minimum because it just causes a devolution of discourse (see my point above about "defining deviancy down"). But if we must have it, than it should be presented in the most sterile form as possible so that readers aren't immediately forced to form an opinion prior to viewing the link (which ought to be good link that people wouldn't find on their own... but that may be asking too much).

MeFi just doesn't do political discussion well. If you can't admit that point, then perhaps you should keep yourself from calling other people daft.

I guess I would be dreaming to have someone agree that this is what makes/made MetaFilter great and this is the trash which should be discarded.
posted by Seth at 4:07 PM on March 26, 2004


MeFi just doesn't do political discussion well.

I would argue that no large collaborative group websites do political discussion well. Can you think of any that do get it right? I admit MeFi is now too big for its britches to do most political discussions well, but would be more than happy to crib ideas of collaborative sites that can get it right.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 4:21 PM on March 26, 2004


Because, as your example just showed, you assume that a FPP should be about expressing an opinion.

Wrong. I don't assume that an FPP should be anything. I also don't think it is legitimate for you to decide what anyone should do here. Again, I am puzzled as to what gives people the impression that Metafilter is supposed to be without discussion or without politics. It has never been. The guy who designed the site come here to talk poltiics sometimes, and posts about it somtimes, and even complains about bad political posts as well.

I persoanlly don't tend to favor FPP's that merely advance an opinion, but I do love political/news-related FPP's that have interesting information. For me (and, apparently, a lot of other members of this site), crazy news cycles and a cornucopia of diverse information outlets are "the best of the web." I totally get that you disagree with that, but your opinion is not more valid than mine.

But when you create a FPP to make a point or grind your axe, than you are immediately creating a conflict in the readers: they have to either agree with you or disagree with you.

I don't do that. I don't editorialize in my FPP's, and have only linked to "liberal" sites (like commondreams, etc., but excepting, I must admit, Salon) when they were hosting wire service stuff or a piece written by a primary source who was ineresting.

I like the political threads. I don't care whether anyone changes their miond as the result of rhetorical volleys. I do enjoy checking back to an ongoing thread to find new links faster than I could find them myself, and I love reading the entirety of an old political thread: you get a great sense of the nature and source of both sides' talking points, as well as a large resource of links. Many political threads at Metafilter have actually been important to shaping my views on certain subjects, if not for the snarky one-liners so much as the depository of links and viewpoints.

I'm not going to tell you that I think the Dylan post was dumb, or somehow an adbomination. Hell, I didn't even tell Krrrlson that his post wasn't legit (just that he's dishonest). It isn't my business whether someone else's favorite category of Metafilter post appeals to me, and I don't want it to be. I have consistently stuck up for people who have shouted down on Metafilter (recently, I stuck up for Christians, even though I am atheist, and I got a bunch of shit for it).

I wish that your response to something you don't enjoy wasn't to try and ruin it for those who do. Not clicking is easier than clicking.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 4:28 PM on March 26, 2004


MeFi just doesn't do political discussion well. If you can't admit that point, then perhaps you should keep yourself from calling other people daft.

To be blunt: is anyone here willing to admit that MeFi discusses politics well? I'd add further: can you discuss anything serious here, without a verbal gang beating taking place at one point or another? This is an important point, because I sense fear in a lot of people here when things get serious (they don't want to be "victimised") - it just creates a kind of constipated forum. I'm all for truth and unrestricted, uncensored opinion. Hey, I'm sounding like a true liberal here.

I admit MeFi is now too big for its britches to do most political discussions well, but would be more than happy to crib ideas of collaborative sites that can get it right.

Maybe in terms of registrants (MeFi being "too big"), but regular contributors are a select few and their political leanings even narrower. Metafilter is unrepresentative of the political spectrum because it closed membership so long ago. A left-leaning mindset has taken hold here (I say mindset because it supposedly has no political leanings). This has been due to self-selection (others have been shouted out, or aren't allowed to register).

Simply, if there was no closed membership, we'd see a totally different Metafilter than the one we see today. A much more diverse Metafilter.

It's odd how may threads on MetaTalk concern "etiquette" - think about it.
posted by SpaceCadet at 4:43 PM on March 26, 2004


I'd add further: can you discuss anything serious here, without a verbal gang beating taking place at one point or another

if you really think that, seriously, what are doing here?

I read MeFi and contribute because I think that it's often very interesting. and there's a not-that-small contingent of very interesting, brilliant users here I'm very grateful for.

if I thought this place was shit, I wouldn't hang around much.

that's why I have little patience for the MetaNannies whose output is 99.9% kvetching about how much this place sucks. if it really sucks, why are you here? are you that masochistic.

my idea is, MeFi can't really suck that bad, if even people who constantly complain about it appear to be reading it on a regular basis
posted by matteo at 4:58 PM on March 26, 2004


I'd add further: can you discuss anything serious here, without a verbal gang beating taking place at one point or another?

Okay, you're way over the line, here. I don't know how much clearer you want me to make the comments I offered you before, but if you really think there is zero bandwidth for discussing anything productively here, why don't you pack up and shove off already? Find a site with open registrations and enjoy this mythic political neutrality we're so sorely lacking. I think you're a fool for believing it exists, but hey, prove me wrong.

I do happen to know what ad hominem reasoning is, and whining about a leftist conspiracy instead of taking issue with the content of the posts is exactly that.
posted by scarabic at 5:01 PM on March 26, 2004


Find a site with open registrations and enjoy this mythic political neutrality we're so sorely lacking. I think you're a fool for believing it exists, but hey, prove me wrong.

I've packed my bags in terms of debating anything serious here.
posted by SpaceCadet at 5:10 PM on March 26, 2004


what SpaceCadet said.

matt, in the end you're the only person here who can set the tone of the site. i love arguing about politics and i agree with most of the opinions of liberal contributers here, but to be honest, it makes me sick to see how mefi has turned into some kind of bloodlusty vamp hangout. it's not fun and it makes mefi look like a street corner whore (not that there's anything wrong with that). when someone (like seth) trys to call us on this, there's always the same defensive responses (read something else, etc) and like others here have mentioned, these people get shouted down.

When people make remarks like 'you get a great sense of the nature and source of both sides' talking points, as well as a large resource of links. Many political threads at Metafilter have actually been important to shaping my views on certain subjects, they're talking out their ass IMO. this is complete bullshit and anyone with half a sense would know this and the ones that do know this would be right in trying to overcome their own political and religious biases.

most of the posters here have proven they can run rings around people like me (to be perfectly honest, slightly less than average intelligence), but that DOES NOT make them automatically right. i've seen the same amount of bias here that i would expect to see in podunk georgia. the only difference being that people here know how their grammar.

matt, please consider the current tone of political discussion, and what i and others perceive as this sort of thing getting out of control. i know you don't think there's anything that you can do, but you ARE a major influence here (the delete option notwithstanding), and people will follow your example.
posted by poopy at 5:18 PM on March 26, 2004


I guess I would be dreaming to have someone agree that this is what makes/made MetaFilter great and this is the trash which should be discarded.

I agree.
posted by timeistight at 5:27 PM on March 26, 2004


Can we stop debating whether the post in question was a "lie"? There's a spectrum between total truth and total untruth; it's not binary. It's stupid debates like this that clog reasonable discussion; people need to step back and read more carefully.Another example:
Simply put, if billions of people in the world are all devoting their lives to something, it seems curious that someone who claims a superior understanding of humanity's relationship to the universe would constantly reject data about it.

Yeah, and fuck Galileo too, fuck him for his elitist ideas about cosmology. The truth is democratic. If people believe something, that alone counts as evidence for it. Here, here!
The original point was that religion shouldn't be ignored, not that it's objectively true; seeing that second post -- simultaneously intelligent and really stupid -- is what sucks about reading mefi.

Call Krrrlson (weird, I thought he was a she for some reason) out but don't just say "fuck you"; take the small effort to understand why he said what he said (and thought it was true) and make some attempt to convince him, instead of just throwing a neck-punch for the audience. His post was misleading, but there's no reason to think it was disingenuous.
posted by Tlogmer at 5:32 PM on March 26, 2004


SpaceCadet is full of shit. His main beef is that people here paid attention to what he said, and remembered it. Tough. If that's too much accountability for you, then fuck off because you're not really here to contribute.
posted by NortonDC at 5:48 PM on March 26, 2004


show me a good place to discuss Israel/Palestine

Comedy sites. Gaming sites. Political sites will naturally draw users from one tiny wedge of the ideological spectrum; those won't. It's nice to see libertarianism debated at length instead of just shouted down; it's a cool theory (even if it's competely detatched from reality). It's nice to find a thread where the logic behind even having international law is called into question -- how else would you encounter arguments in its favor? -- or where lots of people from lots of places talk about their impressions of the U.S. Sure, the average IQ (or, more likely, age) can be lower, but at least there's disagreement that mirrors disagreement in the real world.
posted by Tlogmer at 5:58 PM on March 26, 2004


I would argue that no large collaborative group websites do political discussion well. Can you think of any that do get it right? I admit MeFi is now too big for its britches to do most political discussions well, but would be more than happy to crib ideas of collaborative sites that can get it right.
posted by mathowie at 4:21 PM PST on March 26


Well, Matt, I don't presume to know more about large collaborative websites than you do. But it is my experience that the groups take on an ideological identity. If we want Metafilter to have an ideological identity, then that is fine. I am just an admirer of the aspirational goal of MetaFilter encompassed in its introduction.

If you want ideas, I will offer mine.

I would begin by putting a temporary ban on all politically-charged FPPs. Put up a big message on the posting page that they are not permitted for the time being. I would make this ban at least a month in duration. This would give time for the group of people who feel that they must discuss these things to find a place to do it. During this temp ban, if someone posts one, its get deleted and the user gets a warning. If the user persists, the ban hammer comes out.

After the month, I would raise the ban, but implement rules for politically-charged posts. I would use the wonderful example that MidasMulligan provided in a MeTa post several weeks back. Posts would be required to make an attempt to present all sides of an issue with no editorializing at all by the poster. This puts the burden on the poster to make an effort before they post. This would eliminate a lot of newsfilter crap and single source crap. Again, if a user fails to respect this rule, the posts gets deleted and the user gets a warning. If the user persists, then the banhammer.

Now I have no idea the amount of time that would put on you. I would suspect not too much. But if people would make the effort to present a good basis for a discussion, then discussion would be useful and perhaps less moderation in the long run would be required from you.

Fruitful discussions could be had, but a lot of the garbage axe-grinding would be gone. Perhaps MeFi could then become the one example of when a large collabrative website gets it right. I think MeFi is capable of this aspirational goal; people are well behaved (for the most part) on AskMe because they don't get into these political brawls.

Of course, this wouldn't work without a firm hand from you for a month or so, and I don't know if you want to be that way or don't have the time for it.

Or, in the alternative, create politics.metafilter.com and then place an absolute ban on people posting political posts on the Blue. Again, I don't know what this would require of you.

But I think if we this, Metafiler would be able to retain a unique identity instead of just turning into a political wasteland like LGF, DU, Freep, etc.

That's just my advice.
posted by Seth at 6:00 PM on March 26, 2004


when someone (like seth) trys to call us on this, there's always the same defensive responses (read something else, etc)

Hey now. If you scroll up, you'll see that I expressed the desire to see Seth stay, and an appreciation for his desire to improve things (whatever his vision may be).

It's SpaceCadet's defeatist view that nothing good will ever happen here that inspires me to say "goodbye." If user 116 is still up for working on this community, I think user 15116's burnout is his own problem.

Correct me if someone's sold their low user number or something, here.
posted by scarabic at 6:15 PM on March 26, 2004


hmm interesting, personally i found it rather disturbing that only 51% of people eliglible to vote who were polled stated that they were definitely going to vote in the next general election (UK). Voter apathy is on the increase, the of polaristion of politics simply fuels the exponential disdain for politics; I can be as bad as the next asshat (my asshatism is duly noted). I do wonder where This kind of adversarial politics is leading too.
posted by johnnyboy at 6:39 PM on March 26, 2004


Maybe in terms of registrants (MeFi being "too big"), but regular contributors are a select few and their political leanings even narrower. Metafilter is unrepresentative of the political spectrum because it closed membership so long ago. A left-leaning mindset has taken hold here (I say mindset because it supposedly has no political leanings). This has been due to self-selection (others have been shouted out, or aren't allowed to register).

You are the guy who thinks the new FCC drive against indecency exemplifies--how did you put it? Fucking Political Correctness. The lefties have won.

Yeah, and if the milk goes sour in your refrigerator, it's no doubt due to Noam Chomsky. SpaceCadet is an apt nickname.

Then there is the fact that what is considered left leaning here seems tilted very right to anyone anywhere else on the globe, which is from where many new members will come. Open the gates and the political mix will, as it has in the past, stay pretty much the same--Boo hoo hoo.
posted by y2karl at 6:55 PM on March 26, 2004


absolutely agree on the month long ban on political threads , its maybe a bit of work for matt though.
posted by sgt.serenity at 6:56 PM on March 26, 2004


Perhaps too many people here expect too much from a political discussion, conducted on the Internet, via tiny snatches of text, by a large number of people, all strangers to eachother. It can never approximate a real conversation.

Given these enormous constraints, I think Metafilter is still very interesting and, on the whole, instructive. Perhaps it would help to be less demanding and expect no more from political threads than that they give you an unrepresentative sample of what other people think about a given issue. This, surely, is interesting enough and vigorously expressed opinions are part of it - a consequence of not being able to engage in actual conversation. It sort of forces you to be more extreme than you would in real life.

I honestly think even the very rudest members here would be engaging conversationalists if we could actually talk to them face-to-face, with hours to chat. Perhaps some would even be a bit shy?

The medium is to blame. I think it's up to all of us to figure out what the ideal kind of communication is on the Internet, given the limitations. We're all in the infancy of the damn thing, after all, and MetaFilter has been instrumental in showing bookish types like me the way forward.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 7:01 PM on March 26, 2004


Low user numbers don't really mean anything.

Some political threads work and a lot don't. I usually scan them for more links and the more heated the debate the better. There are usually a few comments worth reading and I'm getting better at spotting them.

Sometimes I wish there was an additional note at the beginning of a post to indicate the author. I would have less back and forth scrolling to do, but it's not a big deal to me. There are a few users that spend a great number of words saying either the same thing repeatedly or nothing at all and I like to go past them.

I don't see the need for any major change. The rules are fine. The people that fight want to fight. That's why they make ambiguous statements and then claim sarcasm.

The unclear line between abusive and "heated" is the topic of many Metatalk etiquette posts. It's not the topic, it's the character of the participants involved combined with grudges and agendas.

You can either think this needs to be wiped clean or, like me, enjoy the windfall of links gathered by users eager to source a key point in their tirade.
posted by john at 7:09 PM on March 26, 2004


Damn. I'm in full agreement with Miguel. I've often had those sentiments, to the point that I'm still here, posting to MeFi.
posted by BlueTrain at 7:15 PM on March 26, 2004


Damn. I'm in full agreement with Miguel.

Right. Now I am worried. ;)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 7:25 PM on March 26, 2004


I like mefi a whole lot.
posted by mcsweetie at 7:55 PM on March 26, 2004


Seth

I find your posts stimulating and understand your general complaint about politics on MeFi, though I disagree with it. I think it should be Ok to post political things -- left, right, communist fascist, I don't care. As long as it's something that interesting and a new twist.

What I find useful and rewarding here is when someone posts a political FPP and then people post various reactions from a different angle. The first reply is usually the best. The back and forth that ensues, while entertaining in a fight club kind of way, is not too enlightening. I would rather know what Seth is thinking about a link, and why he thinks it's wrong, than to hear him complain about why it shouldn't have been a link in the first place. I am in fact open to other views, and while I might not support, say, Bush the candidate, that does not mean I object to every view that he advocates. There are a lot of issues out there and I tend to take them one at a time. I don't believe in ideological road maps that demand one be in lockstep with everyone in your camp.

So while it is obviously partisan to say that Bush is evil, don't re-elect him, it is not necessarily partisan to post a link to an article analyzing Bush's comments about his opponent's record on taxes, in which it is claimed he distorts the record.
I'd be happy to read a defense of Bush on that or any other point. "Don't vote for Bush" on the other hand, is simply a boring comment, a slogan. We'll have a chance to vote soon enough, and when that's done with, Metafilter can return to flash cartoons and whatever else is deemed acceptable within the narrow boundaries of the online non-political geek consensus.
posted by Slagman at 8:17 PM on March 26, 2004


Everyone here is free to post anything, in any section, and post any response to any question. You post and people respond. If you post something that members disagree with, they will post responses which you will probably disagree with. Why the outrage?

Doesn't trying to add rules and regulations to political post (especially in an election year) seem like dirty pool? If your point is persuasive enough others will agree with you, and as others have said, you are free to ignore threads that you know will anger you. (Personally, I am irritated by flash movies, but do you hear me calling for a macromedia moratorium - no.)

(damn it. I had to remove a whole last paragraph because it was to similar to what Slagman just said, curse my slow typing!)
posted by milovoo at 8:34 PM on March 26, 2004


To borrow from Moynihan, this is the classic case of "defining deviancy down." ... The content of the FP the last 4 months or so shows Moynihan's thesis in perfect application.

of course, seth conveniently overlooks the huntley-brinkley corollary, which states:


posted by quonsar at 8:37 PM on March 26, 2004


Quonsar, will you gay-marry me?
posted by Slagman at 9:26 PM on March 26, 2004


Everything Slagman said, except the part about finding Seth's posts stimulating.
posted by Ryvar at 9:28 PM on March 26, 2004


Seth: The phone calls are coming from *inside* the website. Get out while you still can. Once out, stay gone.
posted by trondant at 9:40 PM on March 26, 2004


Quonsar, will you gay-marry me?

Ryvar, were you aware Slagman had said *that* when you hit the post button? :-)
posted by quonsar at 9:45 PM on March 26, 2004


I'm still waiting for URLs of large collaborative sites that do political discussions thoughtfully. Seriously.

I think we're discussing a perfect thing that doesn't exist, or isn't possible, or there'd be a wealth of examples people could share.

Think of it this way: if we were having a party at a house, 4 or 5 friends from all sorts of viewpoints could have a thoughtful, respectful, lively discussion. Balloon that up to 20 people and you might have one person being uncouth, or making their points in a clumsy fashion, but the rest could ignore it. Grow that number to say, 200 people in your house, and throw a somewhat controversial question out there and you'll have madness.

I don't think all serious discussion is pointless or impossible on MetaFilter, though many controversial topics do poorly. Ask MetaFilter certainly shows that it is possible for members here to act like a adults, but for one reason or another, people in MetaFilter don't do a good job of keeping things that civil and/or respectful.

I think a lot of the criticism is warranted. Most of the Bush=bad threads on MetaFilter should not be here and are posted in such a way that the points made are clumsy and do nothing to incite respectful conversation. Trust me, my eyes roll back in my head while reading this site on a daily basis. I'm embarrased by how crappy these posts are (like the Bush one by Tom Cosgrove today -- obviously posted in the heat of the moment, making wild accusations and totally over the top -- which Krrrlson's post also shared).

In case anyone is wondering, I do prefer more engaging posts about cultures or phenomena I've never heard of or seen, whether that's a gallery of saved objects, a flash game from another country, or a wacky bit of video. That doesn't mean all political topics should be avoided, I understand that MeFi doesn't exist in a vacuum and reflects the world in which it resides, and unfortunately a lot of ugly political rhetoric is passed along in our everyday lives and it ends up here.

I don't think banning political posts will help. I don't think putting bigger warnings all over the site will help. I don't think having an equal number of posters from all political stripes will help political discussions. If I thought any of those things would or could help, I would have already tried them out. I believe we have a lot of people, too many to be honest, to discuss sensitive issues and not have someone, somewhere take their point too far, or be an ass when they're trying to make their point. This isn't a symptom of groupthink. It's simply a scaling problem around sensitive issues.

I think the other 65% or more posts that have nothing to do with politics are why I keep the site going, and why I cherish looking at the site for the first time every morning.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 9:47 PM on March 26, 2004


Ryvar, were you aware Slagman had said *that* when you hit the post button? :-)

Sure, he waited a whole two minutes!

*gets into gay-marrying quonsar queue, takes out packet of beer nuts; opens blockbuster novel, taps foot, reads mathowie comment on the wide-screen monitor, fails to find marriage proposal, is frankly disappointed*
posted by MiguelCardoso at 9:51 PM on March 26, 2004


Crap. I read that well-reasoned, thoughtful post all the way to the end, and then found that it was from the one guy who can't do a damn thing about the situation.

*edit on review*

Not Miguel's, obviously; the one above it.
posted by yhbc at 9:53 PM on March 26, 2004


Here's a quick example that just popped up before my eyes. I saw this interesting and thought-provoking post come up a couple minutes ago, scanned the article and posted what I thought was a thoughtful response.

It's a meaty point that is a sticking point in our society. We love capitalism, but sometimes, taken to its logical ends, people are pushed out of the equation. What should Costco do, continue to treat their employees right or go for the quick buck at the expense of worker satisfaction?

Not to call anyone out, but while I was trying to get at those issues, someone posted "Fuck the WSJ, fuck the investors-first mindset" and if you can go back and imagine our small house party conversation, anyone saying that in a discussion amongst adults as their first point would likely be ignored and/or booted from future gatherings for spouting such nonsense.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 10:00 PM on March 26, 2004


Ryvar, were you aware Slagman had said *that* when you hit the post button? :-)

Mmmhmm. Noticeably I didn't take exception to THAT bit of what he said, honey. We'll talk over what date we want to set on IRC.

To Mathowie:

I've been reading MeFi since about 6 months after its inception - some 3.5-4 years now, I think, though I only started heavily posting recently.

MeFi is, more than any other factor on the web or in real life, responsible for my transition from a die-hard religious right Republican of the kind that finds Ashcroft too easygoing into someone just barely shy of Chomsky.

I adore the political threads not so much for the comments as for the fact that it allows me to hit one site and see not only whatever best of the web the other sites I read missed (as well as the odd informative culture piece), but also all the stories the media didn't report, or wouldn't report. Yes, some of the political posts have an inherent outrageous bias that is the lefty version of krrlson's ridiculous post - that's going to part of the Gaussian curve of discourse in any online community. I'd ask you not to throw out the baby with the bathwater, though - the utility of MeFi as an alternative media outlet for myself and many others like me who read it in silence far outweighs suffering the occasional petty conflicts when people can't keep their ideologies in their pants.

Perhaps some urging about standards when it comes to politically-themed posts is in order (there are quite a few raving anti-Bush posts that I find embarrassing both as a site participant and as a liberal), but pushing it at all past that would be, in my opinion at least, a grievous error.

On preview, your latest post indicates you clearly get my distinction.
posted by Ryvar at 10:05 PM on March 26, 2004


A good many Bushfilter threads are rubbish. Some others are done decently, but perhaps excessive in number and too newsfiltery for MeFi. A few are obscure and interesting and lend something genuinely new that might have been overlooked.

I wouldn't mind seeing "this is a crappy post" on the first two types of Bushfilter threads from someone who doesn't obviously have a personal position on the matter. We sometimes see that. But usually the "stop it with the political FPPs" is just code for wanting to silence others on the very specific topic in question -- and this, I think, is what it always means in the case of one particularly relentless protestor, whose claims of impartiality and evenhandedness over all political threads don't stand up to the most glancing scrutiny.

But matter what you think are the "worst" threads, even those don't break the rest of MeFi, which is good and rich and fascinating. We live in harsh, divisive times -- what's happening in one corner of MeFi is an expression of how our society is trying to work through it.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:07 PM on March 26, 2004


When people make remarks like 'you get a great sense of the nature and source of both sides' talking points, as well as a large resource of links. Many political threads at Metafilter have actually been important to shaping my views on certain subjects, they're talking out their ass IMO. this is complete bullshit

poopy-
Fuck you. Who are you to say that I don't know what I get out of this site? Do you think that I participate out of some pathology, and not because I actually like the site? I usually disdain the idea of getting overly personal on a website, but Damn! dude, I don't even get the angle from which you're trying to slime me here. You're saying that I really never learn anything? I am incapable of learning, or that I have already learned everything there is to know?

For what it's worth, my statement is true. I like political threads, even when poeple's feelings get hurt. I have learned a great deal by reading articles linked in political threads, and I really don't care if you think I'm making that up. I don't want to put words in anyone's mouth, but I would imagine that a number of other users (likely y2karl, mjj and homunculus, to venture a few guesses) feel exactly the same way. A lot of people--on this site and elsewhere--are comfortable with the idea that they have much to learn from their "peers." Again, fuck you for presuming to read my mind. Why is it impossible for you to believe that people doing something you dislike are doing it because they like it?
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 10:16 PM on March 26, 2004


anyone saying that in a discussion amongst adults as their first point would likely be ignored and/or booted from future gatherings for spouting such nonsense.

true, matt, until you look at the nonsense that provoked the outburst! i mean, wall street criticises costco? didn't the WSJ just sneer at all privately run companies when it implied costco is run like one? it's a bit over the top itself (WSJ, not the post.)
posted by quonsar at 10:22 PM on March 26, 2004


people can't keep their ideologies in their pants.

my ideology's breath smells like fruit of the loom.
posted by quonsar at 10:25 PM on March 26, 2004


Fuck you, and fuck you, and, oh, fuck you!

Matt, in response to the Costco question you posed, I think what you're not taking into account is the mounting sense of helplessness many people feel in the face of big business economy in the west, specifically the united states. While "fuck investor-first policy" might not be the most astute critical observation, I think what you're missing there is this overwhelming sense that not only is nobody even considering putting restrictions on these large corporations; on the contrary, your president is instead relaxing labour laws across the nation in order to benefit these corporations (less overtime, longer hours, etc.). It takes them a god-awful length of time to indict anyone for scandals like Enron but it takes them seconds to launch investigations into Clarke or any other whistleblower that's fucking them in public opinion. So, again, while the opinion may not have been expressed all that well, I'm also not sure it's fair to simply dismiss something because it's posed emotionally (I would usually ask the person to express what they meant more precisely).

At any rate, I think it's fairly clear--as I said before--that both the Israel/Palestine thread and the "Dear America, Please Stop Bush" posts were frighteningly poor showings, regardless of what was a lie and what was spin. In both cases the framing leaves something to be desired, even if I think the I/P one was a more egregious offender. However, this thread was about the I/P thread, not the other threads, so the rampant hijacking of every Meta thread about politics by a certain member in order to further his agenda was way off topic, especially when it's framed as it was.
posted by The God Complex at 10:42 PM on March 26, 2004


Also, I might just be a pinko commie, but I think it's almost unfathomable for someone to complain about people making too much money because their stocks are a little lower. It's one of the things that actually makes me want to shop at Costco. Home Depot also pays their employees fairly and I think it reflects well on the company and makes deciding on somewhere to spend my money a lot easier.
posted by The God Complex at 11:01 PM on March 26, 2004


Not to call anyone out, but while I was trying to get at those issues, someone posted "Fuck the WSJ, fuck the investors-first mindset" and if you can go back and imagine our small house party conversation, anyone saying that in a discussion amongst adults as their first point would likely be ignored and/or booted from future gatherings for spouting such nonsense.

I don't know what parties you go to, Matt, but they must be skull-crackingly tedious. There's absolutely nonsensical or nothing wrong with saying "fuck the WSJ, fuck the investors-first mindset," depending on the tone with which it's said, and it's regrettable that you'd ignore or kick out someone who'd said it (rather than shouted or ranted it) from your tea party. The sentiment was inelegantly put, but that's the only thing that offended me, at least.

It wouldn't be the kind of party I'd want to attend, that's for goddamn sure. But perhaps that's obvious.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:03 PM on March 26, 2004


er, '..nothing nonsensical or wrong...'
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:05 PM on March 26, 2004


I gotta admit, my thought on reading "fuck investor-first policy" was Right On, Sister!

A P/E of 20 is just fine, thankyouverymuch. And the very, very healthy return of 50% on my stock in COST over the past eight months is just fine, thankyouverymuch. So not fucking-over your employees so that I can benefit by an extra 2% gain is just fine, thankyouverymuch.

So even though I am an investor, I heartily agree with that opening statement. Pretty sums up what I said in just a few perfect words.

I also gotta admit, it didn't leave much for the next poster to work with. Ya pretty much gotta just ignore it and pretend like it wasn't ever written.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:06 PM on March 26, 2004


There's absolutely nonsensical or nothing wrong with saying "fuck the WSJ, fuck the investors-first mindset," depending on the tone with which it's said

That points to another major problem with handling discussion online -- there is zero tone communicated. You might hear me make the same point, but devoid of any emotion, in a "aw, fucking A man, investor-first mentality" but it could also be read as if I meant it seriously and was shouting it from the top of my lungs. There's very little intent or humor to convey in plain old text, and read at face value, a lot of stuff is lost or taken completely the wrong way.

Again, if anyone knows of any large collaborative sites that do political discussions well, I'm still all ears. I think we're arguing over some cultural and communication limits of a medium.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 11:24 PM on March 26, 2004


It wouldn't be the kind of party I'd want to attend, that's for goddamn sure. But perhaps that's obvious.

That's one of the other issues with online discussion of this nature, don't you agree? Not everyone at the party is looking for the same things. Next thing you know some black dude has your purse.
posted by The God Complex at 11:28 PM on March 26, 2004


Again, if anyone knows of any large collaborative sites that do political discussions well, I'm still all ears. I think we're arguing over some cultural and communication limits of a medium.

No. This is the only online community I participate in with any frequency.
posted by The God Complex at 11:29 PM on March 26, 2004


There's very little intent or humor to convey in plain old text, and read at face value, a lot of stuff is lost or taken completely the wrong way.

Exactly true. Does help you become a better writer, though, I think, and choose your words with more care.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:39 PM on March 26, 2004


Again, if anyone knows of any large collaborative sites that do political discussions well, I'm still all ears. I think we're arguing over some cultural and communication limits of a medium.

DailyKos definitely does one kind (partisan brainstorming/asspatting) of political discussion well, but not a kind that Metafilter would be interested in. But don't listen to me, because I'm crazy enough to actually think that MeFi does political discussion fine. I wouldn't do away with our dialogue to improve things, and I admit that people (myself included) act stupid sometimes, but the end result is OK. I frequently will throw in "metafilter" as a search term when googling for something. If a thread comes up, I will scroll through it and there are often useful in-thread links. There are other aspects of the site which please people--like flash games, which I'm not ripping--that don't have that same lasting utility for me, but I don't assume that those aspects necessarilly aren't "done well."
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 11:47 PM on March 26, 2004


Matt - for whatever it's worth, I'm just about as big a Bush-hater as you're going to find out there, but I would be very happy to see you delete more of the Bushfilter posts. I personally posted the press conference inappropriate joke thing to the front page of my personal blog, but I realize it doesn't belong here. Every little merit or demerit for this clown of a president doesn't deserve its own post on MetaFilter. Best of the web, period. It's been some months now that I've been simply skimming past them, ignoring them (as people say one is supposed to) but it's at a point where I would gladly support you if you did more. A year ago, it was no big thing to get through a day without a Bushfilter post. Now, it's not even a question of getting through a day. The question is, will there 3 or more today? The interpersonal damage these wreak between members is probably beyond measure by now.

It's like my reporter friend says: "We don't cover bank robberies in the newspaper. They happen too often. We only cover the ones where something interesting happens."

Again, I passionate detest our president, but passionately love MeFi, and don't see any obvious marriage between the two feelings. This is not where I think to bring my anti-Bush energy. There are actually more productive channels for it. I think you're well within reason to shitcan a few more of these as you see fit, if you really think they "don't belong here." More power to ya.
posted by scarabic at 11:55 PM on March 26, 2004


If you think that metafilter does political threads badly, you need some perspective. Look elsewhere on the web. It's all shit, everywhere you look.

Here, people complain about the overwhelming liberalism that grinds every conservative voice under its thick heel, but it's actually pretty hard to find a thread where someone doesn't rush to somebody else's defense, even when they don't agree with him. When people are assholes to each other, they get called on it -- not always, not equally, but generally, and in large part.

On the internet as a whole, you sure as hell don't find that kind of civility. I'll second Matt's plea to find some other community site that does it better than we do, because I doubt that one exists. Generally, the internet is a wasteland for discussion. If you think we dogpile, flame, troll, and go around in circles, go ahead and wander the earth for a while and then come back to report your findings.

Yeah, we suck, and we could do better, but try to keep a sense of perspective. One thing the recent week-long downtime taught me was that for as piss-poor a job as we make of it, we are, in comparison to the internet at large, a fucking Algonquin round table of enlightened disputation.

And we're not going to stop discussing politics and religion, Seth, I'm sorry. You're right, we shouldn't. But we will. You will even participate. It's inevitable. Again, sorry.
posted by Hildago at 12:08 AM on March 27, 2004


SpaceCadet is full of shit. His main beef is that people here paid attention to what he said, and remembered it. Tough. If that's too much accountability for you, then fuck off because you're not really here to contribute.

The irony - an adhominem attack on this very thread. Thanks for providing a good example Norton, much appreciated.

This is precisely why MeFi is a god-awful place to debate something. NortonDC cannot separate principle from personality, and instead takes everything intensely on a personal level. I'm sorry you still feel vitriolic about threads that happened weeks ago (my god!) - I really wish you'd take my advice (I'm totally serious) and see a different point of view not as a personal attack, but....a different point of view. Step back a few paces and argue principles (better than posting ad hominem like you do here)

You are the guy who thinks the new FCC drive against indecency exemplifies--how did you put it? Fucking Political Correctness. The lefties have won.

Yes I am that guy.

Yeah, and if the milk goes sour in your refrigerator, it's no doubt due to Noam Chomsky. SpaceCadet is an apt nickname.

y2karl, so, do you associate political correctness with right wing conservative political thinking? Hello?! It's totally from the leftist, socialist mindset. Do you honestly believe that every policy dreamed up by the US government must be from the right? Leftist thinking created political correctness.
posted by SpaceCadet at 1:59 AM on March 27, 2004


I sorry to have to be so blunt, but the real problem is that Americans are literally nuts about politics. The funny thing is that, while the screaming and yelling would make you think that communists were fighting fascists there, the American political landscape seems pretty monochromatic to me. Is life under President Kerry really going to be much different for most of you?

This will likely be an election year in Canada, we have a brand new political party that has at least some chance of winning it, all three parties have brand new leaders and the government is currently in the midst of a huge political scandal, but if there's been word one of it on MetaFilter, I must have missed it. This despite the large Canadian membership.

I guess people just like to argue, and it's a lot easier to get an arguement started if you are already divided into teams.
posted by timeistight at 2:21 AM on March 27, 2004


The entire post in one word: Wow. Can half of you spell?
posted by Keyser Soze at 4:13 AM on March 27, 2004


I would argue that no large collaborative group websites do political discussion well. Can you think of any that do get it right? I admit MeFi is now too big for its britches to do most political discussions well, but would be more than happy to crib ideas of collaborative sites that can get it right.

I don't know of any. The problem is a lack of respect for differing points of view, so the only option I can see is to be a lot stricter in terms of conduct and kick people out that resort to name-calling, ad hominem arguments etc. Or people get defensive when their opinion or reasoning is questioned and confuse it for a personal attack. Many people just seem to lack debating skills. Quite how one would build such a community without being accused of elitism, I don't know. Perhaps the trick is to just go ahead and do it, and not give a hoot.
posted by nthdegx at 5:13 AM on March 27, 2004


That's a good point, n (may I be informal and call you that?)

Maybe one could show one's record, from a site other than 'DebateFilter', which demonstrates an ability to argue without attacking the person (the only real criteria we could ask for - irrational arguments are to some extent in the eye of the beholder).

Hmmm, how many of us would pass muster, I wonder?
posted by dash_slot- at 6:10 AM on March 27, 2004


there is zero tone communicated.

Both here and in email I am constantly reminded of a David Cross' character in a Mr. Show sketch who insisted on writing sarcastic letters and then was upset when people didn't get it. To you I say, "Learn to READ!"
posted by yerfatma at 6:17 AM on March 27, 2004


SpaceCadet, regarding "ad hominem," you keep using that phrase -- I do not think it means what you think it means. It means using one of either appeals to feelings or attacks on character, to the exclusion of rational points, but the passage cited includes "His main beef is that people here paid attention to what he said, and remembered it." That invalidates your labelling of the comments as ad hominem, and makes your comments wrong.

Which won't help convince anyone that you're not full of shit.
posted by NortonDC at 8:32 AM on March 27, 2004


Back in the day of Citadel-86 (mid-1980's) there was a network of discussion-focused forums. Most of the population was young and many were attending university: you can well imagine how argumentative and right everyone was.

Even despite this, the discussions were usually civil, informative and, believe it or not, deeply influential. My worldview has been largely informed by the discussions and counterpoints made in those glory days of BBSdom.

Perhaps the largest difference between Citadel and Metafilter was in continuity: discussions were longer-term, with far less turn-over in topic. There was no "front page" from which good discussions got bumped off: all discussions had a natural lifecycle, staying active as long as everyone remained interested.

Anyway, point is that BBS media can be a useful, informative, enjoyable forum for all sorts of discussion, MetaFilter's experience notwithstanding.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:08 AM on March 27, 2004


y2karl, so, do you associate political correctness with right wing conservative political thinking? Hello?! It's totally from the leftist, socialist mindset.

Your cartoon boogie monster definition of your cartoon boogie monster political correctness aside,

A Brief History of Banned Music in the United States: 1950s. 1960s. 1970s. 1980s, 1990s and 2000s

Cursory examination of the cases on radio censhorship linked above will show that calls for censorship of radio preponderantly from right wing social conservatives and began decades before the phrase politically correct was ever coined. Hello? Welcome to Planet Earth, SpaceCadet. How was the trip to Uranus?

See also

Banned Books Online

A Short History of Censorship in Comics

Adult Video News - A History Lesson: How The Adult Industry Has Fared In The United States Supreme Court - Part I

The legal history of Internet censorship and pornography in the US.
posted by y2karl at 9:11 AM on March 27, 2004


five fresh fish, I think BBS forums were also successful because they were clusters of small groups discussing something. I bet if we could whittle down MeFi threads to maybe 20 members that wanted to discuss something, things would be much more sane around here (as they were four years ago when the userbase was smaller).
posted by mathowie (staff) at 9:20 AM on March 27, 2004


Thank you sir may I have another
The thread's statement is well backed by it's commenting.
posted by thomcatspike at 9:23 AM on March 27, 2004


ug...its commenting.
posted by thomcatspike at 9:23 AM on March 27, 2004


NortonDC, you told me I'm "full of shit" and to "fuck off" in the two posts you've made here. If that's your idea of considered thought, go back to school and get some vocabulary. Otherwise, I actually call that ad hominem (when you can't attack the message, attack the messenger). To you, principles and personality are the same thing.

You didn't respond at all to what I have said in this thread. You came in with this:-

SpaceCadet is full of shit. His main beef is that people here paid attention to what he said, and remembered it. Tough. If that's too much accountability for you, then fuck off because you're not really here to contribute

A classic ad hominem attack. It doesn't address what I have said here, but instead belies the grudge you have against me. You didn't counter-argue anything I've said in this thread - instead you attacked me.

Like I say, I appreciate you inadvertantly giving a good example of what I was talking about earlier in the thread - that Metafilter is a god-awful place to debate anything seriously.

Feel free to hammer my point home even further.
posted by SpaceCadet at 9:33 AM on March 27, 2004


Anyway, point is that BBS media can be a useful, informative, enjoyable forum for all sorts of discussion, MetaFilter's experience notwithstanding.

Metafilter members are smarter and more well-spoken than the members of any BBS I was a part of. Including the ones I ran. There are fewer fights, too.

I remember there was one board in my area that had closed membership, and somewhere around a dozen active users, all of whom were friends in real life. No door games, no files, just a couple of message boards. I was never a part of it, because I wasn't invited, but the people I know who were on it said it was like The School of Athens or something; totally brilliant.

But I guess my point is that for there to be total civility there has to be total accountability, which can't happen outside of absurdly restrictive, tiny, inbred enclaves.
posted by Hildago at 9:37 AM on March 27, 2004


Matt, I suspect most of the MeFi threads only have a dozen participants. There may be 17k+ MeFi members, but only a few dozen actually participate in threads.

Hil, the Citadel network was entirely discussion-oriented and non-threaded, like MetaFilter. I think that was a very large part of its success: systems like Fido (A) had choppy conversations because of threads and (B) had a significant file-sharing component. This tended to weed out those who weren't well-spoken: most of the discussions were, IMO, pretty damn fine.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:46 AM on March 27, 2004


Again, if anyone knows of any large collaborative sites that do political discussions well, I'm still all ears. I think we're arguing over some cultural and communication limits of a medium.

are you? are we? if your serious then implement some of the suggestions given to you. There will be limits until the next round of high tech devices become available to a majority of people whom us these "mediums". What good will metafilter be, in it's current "form" in 2-3 years (if that) if one can instantly talk, type, leave a picture or even live feed at a much easier pace and cost then today. I will venture metafilter in it's current form will be...I don't know, dead? who wants to type when a nice little "thread" on someone elses website can link to people and places all over the planet, have picts, video, whatever the member chooses to communicate in.

Miguel is right and what skins my elbow is that Miguel could whip most if not ALL of us in a political discussion. Perhaps this is why you never "see" him in a political thread or rarely. someone want to explain that little conundrum?
posted by clavdivs at 10:04 AM on March 27, 2004


Like I say, I appreciate you inadvertantly giving a good example of what I was talking about earlier in the thread ...

It's All About Me! &nbps;First Person Pronounitis continues...
posted by y2karl at 10:20 AM on March 27, 2004


oh poo!
posted by y2karl at 10:21 AM on March 27, 2004


someone want to explain that little conundrum?
Mig's compassion needs explaining?
posted by thomcatspike at 10:24 AM on March 27, 2004


Bingo!
posted by timeistight at 10:35 AM on March 27, 2004


It's All About Me! &nbps;First Person Pronounitis continues...

Sorry.
posted by SpaceCadet at 10:47 AM on March 27, 2004


timestight - regarding the lack of Canadian political discussion, it occurs to me that the Canadian membership is also more likely to jump in and articipate in a discussion about American politics than vice verse.

It would seem that Americans dominate the demographics, here, but we're also everyone's whipping boy. Everyone considers himself an expert on American politics, and therefore the participation is higher. There's an entire branch of phenomenology at work here, primarily advanced by Miguel, namely, pointing something out and crying "How Very American!" There have even been a number of threads with this formula:

"I'm in country X. I just read Y in the news. Will you Americans please vote Bush out in November? You're all going to hell!"

My point is that if discussion of American politics is disproportionate here, it might also have something to do with the condescension, schadenfreude, and also genuine, informed interest surrounding them on the part of the international crowd. I for one certainly don't know enough about what goes on in Canada to discuss it.
posted by scarabic at 11:23 AM on March 27, 2004


which might be a good reason to post some links about it all, eh?
posted by scarabic at 11:25 AM on March 27, 2004


I'm just about as big a Bush-hater as you're going to find out there, but I would be very happy to see you delete more of the Bushfilter posts.

Me too! Though I agree that Metafilter isn't horrible at political discussions, if you consider what else is out there. Comment threads on political blogs especially - even the even-tempered ones attract people who may be at least as articulate and knowledgeable as our post warriors here, but are far more tedious and rigid and blessed with infinite time. Plastic, actually, does politics somewhat better than Metafilter, but then, they don't do anything but politics.

Seeing the trench of the day being dug around somebody's op-ed is as wearying as it is addictive. It's like eating Cheetos for breakfast. I don't really care to purge politics from Metafilter, but having the trenches dug every other day might be nice for a change.

However, I'm still reeling from Ryvar's comment: Metafilter actually changed someone's mind!
:: boggle ::
posted by furiousthought at 1:22 PM on March 27, 2004


scarabic: The focus on US politics seems easy to explain; US members predominate; US foreign policy impacts heavily on non-US nations while the reverse is only true on specific occasions; as a result of this second point US politics is covered in much greater depth in media outside the US than is true of the reverse and thus non-US MeFites know more of US politics than US MeFites know of the range of political issues which are significant in other nations. Most nation's domestic policies will not be known by sufficient members to form any kind of basis for debate.

It would be nice to cut a lot of the point scoring election crap though.
posted by biffa at 2:47 PM on March 27, 2004


It would seem that Americans dominate the demographics, here, but we're also everyone's whipping boy. Everyone considers himself an expert on American politics, and therefore the participation is higher.

It occurs to me that America is like a big television show watched by the entire world, and that metafilter is sort of like Television Without Pity.
posted by Hildago at 3:03 PM on March 27, 2004


Except in troutfishing's case--then it's about without television without pity...
posted by y2karl at 5:21 PM on March 27, 2004


It occurs to me that America is like a big television show watched by the entire world, and that metafilter is sort of like Television Without Pity.

But TWP is run with an iron fist compared to mefi. I suspect those who wish matt would take a bigger role in shaping metafilter would approve of the heavy handedness found on the TWP forums. (though I'm sure the average age of TWP members is much younger than metafilters).

As already stated, politics are here to stay on metafilter, and I'm sure they'll always lean left. But most members here discuss the issues like adults. As for the daily 'bush sucks' agenda threads, they're really the product of aournd 10 members. Though better suited for personal blogs, I'm sure the number of eyeballs available on metafilter is a big draw.
posted by justgary at 5:21 PM on March 27, 2004


It occurs to me that America is like a big television show watched by the entire world, and that metafilter is sort of like Television Without Pity.

Classic, Hildago. That's exactly it.

The whole reason I think Bushfilter posts suck is that I've always seen the information already. I read the news [gasp] and I don't see what people hope to accomplish by logging every single Bush foible and fuckup here. In fact, it becomes counterproductive to their own aims after a while, because people become desensitized to the material. And the smaller the nitpick, the less sympathy you're going to get. In fact, the more petty and worthless your overall campaign to oust the baboon appears.
posted by scarabic at 6:09 PM on March 27, 2004


SpaceCadet: I've tried myself in vain, and always maintain my integrity and cool, whereas when others cannot counter my arguments honestly, they choose to ad hominem.

Dude...c'mon.

Plenty of us respond to your posts respectfully and with well-thought out responses - you simply seem to prefer to respond to the ad hominem postings. Quite frankly, you're pretty flame-y at times - I've been on threads with you that turned into negative feedback spiral free-for-all with you giving as well as you get.

Mind you, I'm not saying that I don't ever get snippy or flame-y. It's just that I've discovered that engaging you in an emotionally-loaded exchange of insults accomplishes nothing and only contributes to the creation of a equal-opportunity rant-a-riffic dogpile.
posted by echolalia67 at 7:07 PM on March 27, 2004


t occurs to me that America is like a big television show watched by the entire world, and that metafilter is sort of like Television Without Pity.

and metatalk is like point/counterpoint. you ignorant slut.
posted by quonsar at 9:18 PM on March 27, 2004


Metafilter: an equal opportunity, rant-a-rific dogpile

heh.
posted by echolalia67 at 10:00 PM on March 27, 2004


I was involved in a rolling religious debate on a BBS for over two years back in the early nineties. The main players were a fundie christian reverend (who happened also to be blind), a hard-core atheist or two, a convert Buddhist (who, in later years, I learned didn't really know his shit that well), a guy whose basic philosophy was based on a mix of Douglas Adams and R.A. Wilson, and me, the hapless agnostic kid. I was probably fifteen when I wandered into this thing, and close to eighteen by the time I wandered on.

The atheists often seemed to talk down to the rest of us, but had enough glaring holes in their ontologies to be easy enough to bring off their perches. But the whole time, things stayed really very civil. There were no personal attacks that I can recall, and the thread just rolled on, and on, and on, each person adding maybe a page or two of text a week. Just responding to each others points, introducing new ones from time to time, talking about new readings, movies, etc. The quality of the discussion was very high, and we knew each others belief systems pretty damned well by the time I left.

Now, there's a lot of ways this is different from MeFi, clearly.

First, there's the size thing. We only had maybe five to eight people at any given time. I'm guessing MeFi's big political threads are more-or-less the same thirty people or so, on most days. Which is still fairly close-knit, in this man's internet, so I don't think it's neccesarily the root of our woes.

More importantly, MeFi's discussions are narrowly topic-defined, and highly temporal, with a thread rarely lasting more than a day or three. Someone posts about Bush tax cuts, there's a long rambling yelling match about Bush tax cuts, then it's on to the Palestine post a few doors up. As a result we tend to yell at each other with these individual issues as sparking points, instead of ever honestly addressing and exploring the various points of view. We never ask, 'Why are you conservative?' We just argue about headlines. As a result, there's no real learning that occurs, and no personal growth among the combatants. (Ryvar excepted.)

Additionally, this super-topical dialogue keeps us from becoming more knowledgable of each other. It certainly helps the cohesiveness of the site to see that discussions stay on topic, but I think it might, on the other hand, keep the community from developing. I think that when we are keeping things opn topic all the time, keeping ourselves from really getting to know one another, then the personal accountability for what one says goes way, way down. If I call someone an idiot, it is almost certainly because we have never had a discussion as friends.

I only knew one of the other people in the BBS discussion in the flesh, the others I never met. (For the record, it was the crazy Doug Adams fan.) And yet we had a very long, often topical, but always friendly discussion on issues on which we were deeply divided. After just a little while, inflammatory personal attacks were unthinkable because, even if the athiest was dead opposed to what the fundamentalist was saying, neither wanted to see the other leave the community. There was a cohesiveness there that held things together.

Now, as for suggestions on how to run MeFi political threads in the future (because I want to see it change for the better as much as anyone)... I think we need to find some ways to encourage community cohesiveness, and especially to encourage commonly sparring members to get to know each other outside the context of the political thread. Maybe have some CD-swaps or something - I think those (and 9622-type sites) are some of the strongest community-building activities on the site. Just a general idea though, if we want to see the level of discourse improve.

(/me harbors some vain hope that matt might still be reading.)
posted by kaibutsu at 10:47 PM on March 27, 2004 [1 favorite]


echolalia67, you actually are one person that can debate well without getting personal or "upset". My subject matter is "flamey" but I do not take anything I read here personally (however hard people try).

For those that do take it all so personally, Alt+F4 is the first step to getting a life. Unless you have a Mac.
posted by SpaceCadet at 2:28 AM on March 28, 2004


Metafilter does political discussion just fine. Being able to calmly defend ones opinions in the heat of the argument is a good habit.
Some people seem to think that their opinions don't need defending, that they should be accepted regardless. Some people don't like to discuss a subject outside of it's media framing.
Some people simply don't understand what is involved in a rational discussion, whether because of character, manners or lack of respect. These people tend to need alot of support (i.e they take up everyone's time through trolling), which drains the discussion of it's momentum.
I have learned alot about discussion and debate here. I have learned that opinions that are different to mine can be held by people who are not completely insane and that they can justify and explain their position, given the oportunity. Even those with whom I disagree on most major points will have some common ground somewhere (e.g. ParisParamus and I both think that sky-scrapers suck), which re-enforces my faith in humanity.
Also, while it may be a little sterilising to the tone of debate, much care must be taken when attempting sarcasm, humour or irony on screen.
Lastly, don't presume to assume what another person is thinking.
posted by asok at 3:36 AM on March 28, 2004


I would argue that no large collaborative group websites do political discussion well. Can you think of any that do get it right?
Sure. The Debate & Discussion forum on Something Awful. But that's because there's a relatively high barrier for entry ($10). And repeat thread disrupters get banned very quickly.
posted by darukaru at 9:24 AM on March 28, 2004


Also, nobody there takes themselves half as seriously as the average MeFi ideologue of either side. That's a big help, too.
posted by darukaru at 9:31 AM on March 28, 2004


Ignatius, it was my pleasure, you sexy thang :).
posted by poopy at 10:00 AM on March 28, 2004


No, poopy, the pleasure was all mine. Bizarre presumptuousness is the only thing that turns me on more than online armchair psychoanalysis. Can I bum a smoke?
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 11:57 AM on March 28, 2004


good post asok - I share your sentiments.
posted by SpaceCadet at 1:34 PM on March 28, 2004


Ignatius, to make amends, i didn't mean to point fingers at anyone, and if that's the way you took it then i'm sorry. i quickly grabbed a comment that i thought added to the point i was trying to make, not to place blame on anyone. my argument was halfassed and i'm sorry if i offended you. that wasn't my intention.

but you're still sexxy :)
posted by poopy at 5:32 PM on March 28, 2004


asok: Some people simply don't understand what is involved in a rational discussion, whether because of character, manners or lack of respect.

I think a big part of the problem is that in the "real" world most folks don't generally associate with people with differing opinions. We tend to gravitate towards people who share our worldview. Discussion about contoversial topics tends to be a preaching-to-the choir political circle-jerk. As a result, the critical thinking skills get a little flabby and there's an over-reliance on soundbites from the party manifesto. Throw in the anomynity of the web and you have a ideological clusterfuck waiting to happen.

Me, I think Metafilter has challenged me to get beyond political retoric, think through my reasons for supporting a particular viewpoint and state it in a logical fashion. Whether I'm successful in that is a matter of opinion. I believe it's a great forum for anyone who is willing to try to become more effective in getting their point across.

SpaceCadet, I enjoy debating you - I think we've managed to take our polar opposite Feminist/Masculinist (for lack of a better term) debating to some interesting places. You can be a very eloquent advocate for your position when you refrain from the flamey-ness. I appreciate the fact that you and I can engage in a spirited, but polite discussion for the most part.
posted by echolalia67 at 6:36 PM on March 28, 2004


Oh SpaceCadet, my statements were directly about the gaping difference between what you say about MetaFilter and your experiences here and what even a passing examination of your history on the site shows to be reality. You claimed above that "Metafilter is a god-awful place to discuss something seriously. I've tried myself in vain, and always maintain my integrity and cool, whereas when others cannot counter my arguments honestly, they choose to ad hominem."

Then later I said that little thing you so wish wasn't true, that "His main beef is that people here paid attention to what he said, and remembered it."

As in remembering performances like this. Or maybe you calling people asshole is more proof that you "always maintain [your] integrity and cool." Maybe not. Maybe when you called someone a fucking idiot we were supposed to take that as proof of you always keeping your cool and integrity.

No, wait, maybe it was FUCK OFF and watch TV. Or maybe Pretentious wanker.

Or maybe you could tell us how in your understanding of the word, calling this site DumbFilter is so different from the charges of ad hominem attack you bandy about.
posted by NortonDC at 7:56 PM on March 28, 2004


Ignatius, to make amends, i didn't mean to point fingers at anyone, and if that's the way you took it then i'm sorry.

Screw that. I think you were wrong as a point of fact, but you definitely don't need to apologize for offending me. Typically, the more "offended" party (in this case, me) is just choosing to be that way, and I don't want to outflank people with silly emotion. I guess I tend to do that when I'm failing to communicate with someone.

I shouldn't have been thin-skinned.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 8:16 PM on March 28, 2004


Norton, you always bemoan about how I supposedly turn threads into being about myself....seems you're doing the job for me here. I'm not sure how long it took you to do your research, but you seem determined to attack my character at every turn.

I stand by my comments you link to, given their context (particularly stavros' way out of line abuse). I even admit I've been out of hand on occasions, risen to the bait - but I've learnt that when you react instinctively as I have done in the past, it just goads others to leave more flamebait. It's like a viscious circle. I have my views on things, and it seems my opinions don't sit nicely with the "typical" MeFi user. But....isn't that a good thing, to have an opposing view? If debates were kept to principles and not made personal, I'd keep going on with these debates. However, I just get sick and tired of being called a "crank" because of my views. That's disrespect, pure and simple. I'm not putting myself on a pedestal - I've learnt as I've gone along here.....which is why if you view my posting history in the last 100 or so of my posts, I don't think I've ever taken things personally (as I mention in this thread). Lesson learnt. I also think it's a waste of time debating anything seriously here, as you have to trust no-one is going to wade in with some personal snark that derails the entire thread. In essence Norton, you simply do not like my views on certain issues. Fair enough - but why not stop at that point? Why the need to spend so much time on finding any fault I may make? I can do that if I wish to anyone posting on MeFi - but I'd rather not. I'm getting tired of having to respond to your personal attacks to be honest. Let's call a truce here, and move on....or if you feel the need to keep going, all you're going to do is reinforce my point, as I mentioned earlier in this thread.

echolalia67 : I appreciate the fact that you and I can engage in a spirited, but polite discussion for the most part.

Me too.
posted by SpaceCadet at 4:26 AM on March 29, 2004


...I supposedly turn threads into being about myself...

Not always, but I saw one disgusting example recently, and now I understand where it came from. You deserve every bit of it and will get no sympathy from me if NortonDC wants to point out your hypocrisy whenever you talk about not getting respect. You are the Dave Sim of Metafilter and your views are going to receive the same cold reception. Get used to it.
posted by john at 6:04 AM on March 29, 2004


john, your post is utterly redundant.

Why don't you elaborate on what you find "disgusting", otherwise, that just sounds a little incendiary to me. What exactly is it I "deserve" john? You are entitled to your opinion, of course, but if you are championing personal attacks to anyone who you simply disagree with, you should move on from here. Like I say, I've learnt not to rise to the bait here anymore, however hard people try. I'll continue to post links, but will not debate any contentious issue here. There's really not much more to say. I'm not after anyone's sympathy - like I say, if anyone takes any of my comments personally, close down the browser and go for a walk. Some people take total strangers whom they will never meet far too seriously.

Anyway, what's this thread about again?
posted by SpaceCadet at 6:55 AM on March 29, 2004


This is a very interesting thread, because it is truly metatalk - we are discussing here the very foundations of what we talk about and how we use the medium. There are still many people out there that consider it impolite in the company of anyone other than family and close friends to discuss politics or religion - discussion of such matters brings out the strongest sentiment in people, and can lead to bitterness. On the other hand, it is precisely these discussions that cause our most deeply held beliefs to be exposed, and so they are the best ways we have of learning about each other, and communicating on the most significant levels. So, I think it would be a mistake to respond to the problems discussed here by banning such controversial topics.

Two specific problems with our discourse are mentioned in the thread, in particular in kaibutsu's superb post - accountability and continuity.

Accountability
Hidalgo: for there to be total civility there has to be total accountability

kaibutsu: when we are keeping things on topic all the time, keeping ourselves from really getting to know one another, then the personal accountability for what one says goes way, way down

Accountability is a problem, and while it does exist on mefi - it is somewhat whimsical and selective. A metatalk thread, such as this one, can be used to bring attention to a perceived problem and, as demonstrated here, action can be taken. However, there is little to guarantee that this kind of enforcement will be regular and just - people could simply bring someone else's comments to attention on metatalk out of spite or disagreement. Accountability could be implemented via a system whereby users can grade each other's comments and FPPs, and temporary loss of posting rights could be automatic if a user's posts repeatedly met with a sufficient amount of censure. As an example of how complex such a system can become I submit everything2's system. Many expert cites also use similar feedback systems to establish a poster's "reputation". Could a similar system be useful here? The devil would again be in the details, and the exact parameters of such a system would be difficult to tweak.

Continuity

kaibutsu: MeFi's discussions are narrowly topic-defined, and highly temporal

Is there a good way to compile a body of more fundamental, general discussion on the issues? A set of positions for people to refer to as they discuss the topic of the day? Perhaps in addition to a set of daily FPP's, MeFi could use some permanent pages dedicated to broader issues. These could even differ from the usual thread. Perhaps each user only gets to weigh in once, but can edit their comment. Such "statements of position" almost become a part of the user's profile in this case. But now it becomes possible to see where people stand on the issues, and even get the demographics of MeFi's political denizens.

In counterpoint, the problem with all these suggestions is that their implementation would detract from MeFi's simplicity, which I consider to be one of its greatest strengths.
posted by yoz420 at 7:09 AM on March 29, 2004


Ryvar: MeFi is, more than any other factor on the web or in real life, responsible for my transition from a die-hard religious right Republican of the kind that finds Ashcroft too easygoing into someone just barely shy of Chomsky.

I was really moved by this. It reaffirms my belief in both reason and the internet. Welcome Ryvar and I say thee yeah Metafilter!
posted by yoz420 at 7:15 AM on March 29, 2004


SpaceCadet,

You deserve to be called on hypocrisy regarding respect and ability to conduct a serious debate. You were incapable of it and project that on the rest of us. Since you've given up on trying you seem determined to convince everyone else to do the same.

It's sad that you have no idea what's disgusting and that's why you remind me of Dave.
posted by john at 7:49 AM on March 29, 2004


Some people take total strangers whom they will never meet far too seriously.

Anyway, what's this thread about again?

Now? People who can't stop talking about themselves in the most flattering terms possible to total strangers.
posted by y2karl at 8:18 AM on March 29, 2004


john, whatever. I think you're labouring your point just a tad now. Just don't ask me to apologise for my views. Or is that what you're upset about?

People who can't stop talking about themselves in the most flattering terms possible to total strangers.

In another thread, jonmc got accused of always talking about himself. He then said he couldn't possibly defend himself without further being accused of talking about himself (though he tried his best).

I know the feeling.
posted by SpaceCadet at 10:04 AM on March 29, 2004


I'm way late to this but there are a few things I'd like to say.

I've been on the road for nearly 4 months & my MeFi reading habits have changed from the time when I was in an office with MeFi always in the background of whatever else I was doing.

Now I'm getting 30mins a day (if that) 'net access so, apart from the usual e-mailing & bits & bobs, I tend to skim & download a whole raft of stuff to read on the laptop later on. WRT MeFi this means that links to sites that involve looking around are (unfortunately) out whereas links to one or a few pages with a good long discussion attached tend to be in. No photo/flash/lots-of-stuff-to-look-thru sites. Lots of news tho'.

So I've been reading up on various flavours of the current US govt. (which some people lazily label 'Bush' threads), gay marriage, Spanish bombs/elections, etcetera.

Y'know what? I've actually enjoyed it. It's been frustrating at times with not actually being able to contribute, but then it's been fun just reading away.

I've learned a lot.

Things get a little screwed when members;

i) post badly constructed posts
ii) people dance into a thread with 'Oh this is just xxxxFilter!', 'MeFi sucks because of this', 'You people are stupid/left-wing/right-wing/&c.' and the like.
iii) flip out/losing control.

If we try & address those points I think we'd have an improved MeFi. No need for any radical overhaul, banning certain topics or the like, just encourage members (that's encourage!) to be mindful of the above.

_____________________________________[/troutfishing] ;-)

Nothing 'does politics well.'

If you've ever watched parliamentary/senate debates from around the world they're either dull as ditchwater or just a mess of shouting & haranguing. It's not a case of Metafilter 'not doing politics well', it's a case of politics not doing politics well. Just the nature of the game no matter what medium.

If you don't like the cut & thrust you've got to go for something else on the site. And MeFi is big enough to cater for politics, news, flash, sports, funny pranks, geek stuff, Apple stuff, gay stuff, stuff stuff, strangely shaped vegetables. But maybe everything here isn't for everybody all of the time no matter how much we'd like it to be?

And with that I now return you to your regular programming. Sorry for rambling & if I've repeated something that's been said already but I haven't had a chance to read this thread in a couple of days & I'm having to use some scabby PC in the back of a souvenir shop so the less time I spend the better.
posted by i_cola at 8:31 PM on March 29, 2004


I want more strangely-shaped vegetables!
posted by timeistight at 9:20 PM on March 29, 2004


I am a strangely-shaped vegetable!
posted by dg at 9:54 PM on March 29, 2004


No need to remind us of that, dg. You mutant artichoke, you.

And i_cola, that was a great comment.
posted by orange swan at 4:11 AM on March 30, 2004


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