One asshole ruining it for everyone
April 13, 2004 4:11 PM   Subscribe

Yesterday I said jokingly "I'm not a big fan of gatherings -- it seems when you get enough people together in one place, the chances of one asshole ruining it for everyone goes up exponentially." and someone went and proved it. This is why letting new users can be problematic.
posted by mathowie to MetaFilter-Related at 4:11 PM (72 comments total)

Nice catch, though.
posted by scarabic at 4:20 PM on April 13, 2004


Well, that certainly was a bizarre thread. How influential is MeFi anyway, if people come up with this sort of stuff ?
posted by swordfishtrombones at 4:28 PM on April 13, 2004


Frankly I'm astounded at how good the folks here are about tracking down bullshit. If only we could channel our powers for good...........
posted by y6y6y6 at 4:36 PM on April 13, 2004


Realistically, some people would invite the wrath of God to sell an inkjet cartridge.
posted by eddydamascene at 4:43 PM on April 13, 2004


I'll just repeat what I said in response to onlyconnect's question here:

In discussing this here and elsewhere, for the sake of the search engines, I think that it would be helpful for us to definitely link the name "thebettercompany" and "thebettercompany.com" when we are talking about things such as the likelihood of millionforchrist.com being nothing more than a spam trap and a scam, and when observing the fact that Paul Emmer of thebettercompany.com signed up for a MetaFilter membership under an anonymous name just to post and promote said spam trap and scam via viral marketing, and when wondering if lying and taking advantage of people both in this way and by preying on their religious faith to put money in his pocket is really good Christian behavior.
posted by taz at 4:44 PM on April 13, 2004


"Realistically, some people would invite the wrath of God to sell an inkjet cartridge."

WWJP?
posted by mr_crash_davis at 4:50 PM on April 13, 2004


Wait a second; is someone (user 1, even!) using the example of this one guy to argue against new-user signups? Because while I'm afraid of change and afraid of new users, that argument sounds poor -- "this is what can happen, therefore it's not a good idea." One of the pre-existing members could easily be turned to the dark side and go spammer on all of us. And I'm not sure the advantages of new blood don't outweigh the possibility of deception and/or evil (though I know this has been discussed at length elsewhere.)

On the other hand, this does suggest that maybe Metafilter is now somehow 'too' popular, influential, or popular, and as such is now a target for various agenda-pushers... another factor in any future discussions about new users. Interesting.
posted by evinrude at 4:51 PM on April 13, 2004


I knew when I saw that username that things were going to go awry.
posted by The God Complex at 4:54 PM on April 13, 2004


is someone (user 1, even!) using the example of this one guy to argue against new-user signups

I meant it purely in jest. I just can't believe the jesus guy turned out to be worse than even our worst fears.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 4:56 PM on April 13, 2004


and also even if in jest, matt said, "problematic" not, "something i'll never do again in order to punish everyone."

though, wouldn't that just be downright old testament like?
posted by th3ph17 at 5:01 PM on April 13, 2004


hey, one more thing, did you check other User IPs? in case he was already one of the flock with multiple names?
posted by th3ph17 at 5:10 PM on April 13, 2004


Jwanted to note that the thread poster sleuth, snarfodox, acknowledged that it was mote who initially tipped him off that something was weird about the MillionforChrist site. And mote just joined the site April 1, 2004. So we smited ChristFollower with our mighty mote!

But is there anything else besides vigilance to prevent site from being preyed on like this in future by marketers? So scary.
posted by onlyconnect at 5:19 PM on April 13, 2004


Maybe that wasn't clear: I meant it in a "one great new user helps cancel out one evil new user," not any sort of weird accusation against mote.
posted by onlyconnect at 5:21 PM on April 13, 2004


On the other hand, this does suggest that maybe Metafilter is now somehow 'too' popular

Makes me wonder how many visitors the guy got to his site, and how many people actually put their email address in the box. It didn't seem to be a very well-targeted thing -- from what I can see, MeFi has two or three token Christians, hardly a crowd ready to go and give him their email addresses. I suspect many more people went to millionformarriage.com and signed up for that.

MeFi is certainly well known, and can presumably drive a lot of traffic to a site. Probably not on the scale of a slashdot or a fark, but still, I've had one or two friends ask me if I could post their pet web projects since I managed to join here. I declined, though, mainly because their sites weren't much cop, and would have just got a reaction of 'buh? what the heck?'

Anyway, it was neat to see that web-famous MetaFilter investigative team get to the bottom of another case and stuff.
posted by reklaw at 5:23 PM on April 13, 2004


Mathowie:

I just can't believe the jesus guy turned out to be worse than even our worst fears.

It's a test of faith.
posted by mwhybark at 5:23 PM on April 13, 2004


Wow. The last I had checked in on the thread things had been looking like they were going to swing the other way, and I was feeling bad about the very slight assumption of guilt in my post. Now I wish I had left all the "Jesus Christ, people like this make me wish I believed in hell" stuff in...

Way to go team though! I see this not as a problem with the new kids on the MeFi block, but as an astounding victory for the SelfPolice. Book 'em, ...ah, MeFi-O? MeFo? MePol? ahem. Anyhow.
posted by freebird at 5:38 PM on April 13, 2004


Of course everyone knows that "the jesus guy" is really hitler in disguise.
posted by cbrody at 5:45 PM on April 13, 2004


how many people actually put their email address in the box

When I was testing the site out earlier, it was up to 8,500 or so.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 5:45 PM on April 13, 2004


Wait -- I missed this, so... one of the new users was somehow connected with the millions site?
posted by weston at 5:56 PM on April 13, 2004


yep, he was the guy that built it weston.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 5:59 PM on April 13, 2004


Have you had any contact with him since, mathowie? Has he offered any excuses? Does this get some kind of "Worst.Self-Post.Ever." award?
posted by freebird at 6:02 PM on April 13, 2004


Revenge... it's the only way.
posted by Witty at 6:11 PM on April 13, 2004


anyone think he's probably calculated he would get banned thus giving him more publicity?
posted by sgt.serenity at 6:35 PM on April 13, 2004


OK, I found the post... wow.
posted by weston at 6:39 PM on April 13, 2004


Thanks, onlyconnect. I wondered if I should point that out or not... though I'm not sure that it really affects the argument. I'm glad to have helped, though.
posted by mote at 6:43 PM on April 13, 2004


man....i always miss out on the detective threads.

i totally failed the entrance exams for the junior mefi detective squad, i suppose.
posted by taumeson at 6:48 PM on April 13, 2004


Would there be any usefulness in implementing a mandatory, small "via ________" addition to the end of each post, so that a thread poster accredits the source through which s/he found posted site to make it easier to spot self links? People who really found the link on their own can just do something like "via google," but in those cases readers could be more alert for potential self-links. (More problematic for multi-link threads.)

Or is this an overreaction?

Anyone wondering about the subservientchicken post from last week now?
posted by onlyconnect at 7:16 PM on April 13, 2004


"Anyone wondering about the subservientchicken post from last week now?"

Nah, I was going to post it but got there about thirty seconds too late, and I don't even like chicken.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 7:25 PM on April 13, 2004


I think there's an unspoken rule in MeFi.

You can post links to advertisements, but if said advertisement isn't exceptionally unique and amusing, the MeFi Junior Detectives will hunt you down like the dog you are.

Next step is to mete out actual punishment. Otherwise we're going to be inundated with advertising, from the stimulating and simulating subservientchicken, to the ratbastardly ripoff millionforchrist.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:25 PM on April 13, 2004


I declined, though, mainly because their sites weren't much cop, and would have just got a reaction of 'buh? what the heck?'

Um, that should not be the reason for declining to post a friend's site.
posted by anathema at 7:44 PM on April 13, 2004


I think the likely popularity of this thread making it the eventual top search for this guy's website and his fraudulent activities is a suitable punishment, but that's just me.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:13 PM on April 13, 2004


Well that was fun.

Again, kudos to mote and a warm welcome to the MetaFilter community, I get the impression you're going to fit in nicely.
posted by snarfodox at 8:27 PM on April 13, 2004


what does the subservient chicken do when you tell it "million for christ?"
posted by mwhybark at 8:39 PM on April 13, 2004


From crazycanadian's journal at linkfilter:

I have admitted a wrong to the group. I posted deceptive self interest posts to "concept" websites I was developing. However, that isn't the extent of my wrong.

I have also cheated in the ratings too. I thought more people would read a link that had a higher rating and created an account called RadioGuy and another called Disciple.

I am very sorry for my conduct. I ask that my accounts be deleted immediately. I ask for everyone's forgiveness, even though I don't deserve it.

I would understand if people asked me to leave. I would be grateful if I could start again from scratch with a new account...as I have grown to love this community (which makes me feel worse for my initial conduct)...

Paul

1 comments


Links in question included millionforchrist.com, rxpetition.com, and several others that have since been pulled.
posted by swell at 9:20 PM on April 13, 2004


Aw, I know I'm gonna get rotten eggs and tomatoes thrown at me fot this, especially after swell's post above, but what with all the talk about the "MeFi junior detectives," I gotta bring it up...

How's MoJo doing?

Seriously, it could've helped to have the tool ready to go for something like this, even if we hadn't envisioned using it on MeFi itself. And if Matt had, say, been out of town, that thread probably would've gone on a lot longer and devolved into mutual recriminations. So I see the whole thing as a lesson not that we need to restrict new users, but that Now, More Than Ever! we need our MoJo.
posted by soyjoy at 9:27 PM on April 13, 2004


and more...
posted by swell at 9:36 PM on April 13, 2004


created an account called RadioGuy and another called Disciple.

Oh, for Christ's sake. I have a friend who's been trying to join for a year and a half and missing it every time and this dickhead managed to sign up three times?!

Hey Paul, go tell it on the mountain you stupid son of a bitch.
posted by dobbs at 9:38 PM on April 13, 2004


Aargh. Shoulda clicked swell's link. The other accounts were at LF.

I'll admit I was wrong but I won't apologize. Nope.
posted by dobbs at 9:40 PM on April 13, 2004


You know, I had a suspicious feeling about ChristFollower from the moment that post went up. His description protested a little too much about his "relationship" with Christ, claiming not to want to convert anyone. When I saw that his first post was Millionforchrist, it just seemed... fishy. I didn't say anything, but I wish I had in hindsight. Oh well.

Great detectivework, everybody.
posted by me3dia at 9:41 PM on April 13, 2004


Dobbs - Note the quote's from linkfilter, not here. I got an account over there instantaneously.
posted by swell at 9:44 PM on April 13, 2004


Wow, swell's other link spells it out, nice and clear:

I abused your site and posted self interested links. I signed up for Linkfilter to shamelessly promote concept websites. . . .

I was looking for an easy way to launch some "idea" websites and boost search engine ranking. As it happens, the concept websites were largely failures so I really gained nothing but disgrace. I apologize that I broke the rules. I was "outted" on another blog and am coming clean with everyone here.


All that for search engine ranking. And he would have kept going here if he hadn't gotten caught.
posted by onlyconnect at 9:51 PM on April 13, 2004


....by those meddling kids.

C'mon, finish those quotes, onlyconnect.

BTW, is it significant that it took a mote to perceive the beam in his brother's eye?
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:30 PM on April 13, 2004


As I said, I knew the guy was bad news simply by viewing his name. I planned to relentlessly hound him until the gig was up, but you fucking attention whores beat me to it.
posted by The God Complex at 10:37 PM on April 13, 2004


... fucking attention whores.
posted by Quartermass at 12:01 AM on April 14, 2004


MetaFilter: Fucking Attention Whores
posted by SpecialK at 12:53 AM on April 14, 2004


so, please explain the etiquette here... is this a bad time to FPP my self-link to www.CLFrogs-wants-to-sell-your-email-to-spammers.com?

anyway i was worried that some of us newbies would commit a Crime Against the Blue due to ignorance of the culture. never ocurred to me that some dope would infiltrate, wait out the 5 days, then attack with a viral spam campaign. so, mathowie, if he's not outright banned, can you make it so that every post and comment from that account comes up with a giant blinking red "i am a spamming hypocrite jackass" warning until you feel he deserves otherwise?
posted by caution live frogs at 7:27 AM on April 14, 2004


I declined, though, mainly because their sites weren't much cop, and would have just got a reaction of 'buh? what the heck?'

Um, that should not be the reason for declining to post a friend's site.


Is there some reason why not? If one of my friends one day sends me a link to a really neat, interesting or funny site that he or she has worked on, why shouldn't I post it? Sorry if there's some unwritten rule here, but surely that's not a self-link?
posted by reklaw at 7:34 AM on April 14, 2004


How's MoJo doing?

The conclusive evidence about this guy had to do with matching the address of the siteowner, who sent a message to Matt, with the IP of "ChristFollower", who posted the link; MoJo would be a great good thing, but its members couldn't normally produce this sort of proof on their own.

I'm not putting down the idea of MoJo, I'm just talking out loud... If MoJo were influential enough, then it could cause actions like this to take place (comparing IP addresses, for example), but in order to be influential, it would have to be taken seriously, and in order to be taken seriously, it would have to be.... like... serious.

I'm just hoping for the model that will employ all the analytical and creative thinking of MetaFilter while expelling the stupidity and grandstanding.
posted by taz at 7:48 AM on April 14, 2004


Is there some reason why not? If one of my friends one day sends me a link to a really neat, interesting or funny site that he or she has worked on, why shouldn't I post it? Sorry if there's some unwritten rule here, but surely that's not a self-link?

The thought here is that your objectivity is compromised by your personal connection. It's easy to imagine scenarios where your opinion of a site is influenced by its source ("This is hysterical, considering Johnny did those three months in that Mexican prison!"). In trying to avoid these kinds of conflicts, yes, I believe the general opinion is that you shouldn't post a friend's site.
posted by gleuschk at 7:59 AM on April 14, 2004


But how else do you find a site, if one of your friends didn't work on it? Maybe you found it on a blog whose writer knows the site creator. Maybe you found it in a mainstream media article, in which case there's a good chance the site creator is no more than two degrees of separation away from the journalist. Or maybe it is a mainstream media article, in which case the writer probably got the job in the first place by knowing someone. When things become popular, the reasons are rarely completely objective.
posted by transona5 at 9:11 AM on April 14, 2004


If MoJo were influential enough, then it could cause actions like this to take place

Don't know exactly what you mean by "influential." All it would need to do is efficiently organize the detective work for those of us who wanted to use it. Yes, in this case we had one "detective" who had access to info the rest of us didn't, but digging that out was spurred by a lot of work by others. So it reminded me of MoJo.

I'm really just asking what the status is, since it's been more than a year since insomnia_lj proposed it, and the last I heard, Matt & Rusty were still thinking of getting it together.
posted by soyjoy at 9:15 AM on April 14, 2004


As I said, I knew the guy was bad news simply by viewing his name.

Oh, well, that's not prejudiced in the least.
posted by jonmc at 10:18 AM on April 14, 2004



As I said, I knew the guy was bad news simply by viewing his name.

Oh, well, that's not prejudiced in the least.


Considering that it was The God Complex that wrote it there's a good chance it was a joke.
posted by rdr at 10:39 AM on April 14, 2004


As I said, I knew the guy was bad news simply by viewing his name.

I didn't. And he seemed so nice....
posted by y2karl at 10:42 AM on April 14, 2004


If one of my friends one day sends me a link to a really neat, interesting or funny site that he or she has worked on, why shouldn't I post it? Sorry if there's some unwritten rule here, but surely that's not a self-link?

If your friend produces something you'd consider not only funny or interesting but best-of-the-web funny or interesting, then you're probably safe, even though your friend was involved.

Full disclosure in comments following the post is probably wise, though. If you're not comfortable doing that, it's probably a sign that your post isn't suitable.
posted by weston at 11:57 AM on April 14, 2004


The sunservient chicken thing was funny. (And KFC or whoever it was probably didn't need us). Trillions for Jebus wasn't cool - AND it was a self-link from which he was going to get financial gain, rather than a self-link FPP to elucidate a point of contribute to a thread. That's what annoyed me.
posted by Pericles at 12:25 PM on April 14, 2004


What I meant was: The subservient chicken thing was funny. (And KFC or whoever it was probably didn't need us). Trillions for Jebus wasn't cool - AND it was a self-link FPP from which he was going to get financial gain, rather than to elucidate a point of contribute to a thread. That's what annoyed me. And the smug bastards in the stock photography.
posted by Pericles at 12:28 PM on April 14, 2004


Oh, well, that's not prejudiced in the least.

I was joking. You actually think I'd go around hounding someone to out them? I don't have that kind of discipline.

Then again, his name did catch my attention, as did his overtly nice explanation of how he's not trying to convert anyone...

Ok, you're right. I'm prejudiced against people who choose names for themselves that have some sort of God affiliation. Take me away, officer! ;)
posted by The God Complex at 1:19 PM on April 14, 2004


Soory, tgc, I over-reacted, but around here that statement could be taken at face value from some.
posted by jonmc at 1:42 PM on April 14, 2004


No worries!
posted by The God Complex at 1:53 PM on April 14, 2004


Well, at least, you didn't go ham 'n chicken on it.
posted by y2karl at 1:54 PM on April 14, 2004


*groan*
Karl, here in Japan that qualifies as an "oyaji gyagu"
posted by gen at 9:52 PM on April 14, 2004


That MeFi thread is among the best I've seen- surely it deserves a sidebar link, Matt?

I think we all need a MetaPatOnTheBack.
posted by mkultra at 6:47 AM on April 15, 2004


Considering all the soppy contrition (and just once wouldn't you like to see contrition from someone who actually got away with it? Apologies are cheap when you're caught) he's coming up with where he's still allowed to post, I wonder how many emails Matt's gotten from this guy that he just hasn't bothered to mention? I don't envy him having to wade through the amount of stuff he's probably gets and having to decide whether the courtesy of a response outweighs the futility and annoyance factor of a conversation you don't much want to have.
posted by George_Spiggott at 8:04 AM on April 15, 2004


This is what they've decided on as punishment in Linkfilter:

"I'll delete the fake accounts and unroll the votes sometime in the near future. In the mean time, knock that shit off. The punishment will be -100XP per forged vote. I'm not sure what that adds up to.

In the mean time, relax and post some real posts."

(I still think banning is/was appropriate for MetaFilter, at the very least for the fact that when Matt e-mailed him, he made up more lies and even pretended to take offense at us for questioning his motives.)
posted by onlyconnect at 12:01 PM on April 15, 2004


Plus, he's a fuckin' tool.
posted by Witty at 3:28 PM on April 15, 2004


Well, that too.
posted by onlyconnect at 5:30 PM on April 15, 2004


Considering all the soppy contrition

Nothing the guy has written rings true - I find myself recoiling from the screen if his words happen to be on it. ChristFollower? He should have named himself Gollum.
posted by orange swan at 2:49 AM on April 16, 2004


After having only been back around for a few weeks, following a year or so of hardly ever logging on to MeFi, my heart swelled as I scrolled down that thread. This is an amazing place. Take any given group of people who have come together more or less by chance, and you will just plain not have a group that is capable of breaking down a situation with that kind of efficiency and pinache. It was like reading the kaycee thread. We are not just blowing steam around here, and this is not just another bulletin board. Go metafilter go.
posted by bingo at 9:30 AM on April 16, 2004


Not all of this crop of newbies have been badly behaved; in fact, some of them have fit right in and have added considerably to the site, IMO. Reklaw springs immediately to mind when I think of the new class who've added good stuff to Metafilter, followed in no particular order by Gyan and gesamtkunstwerk. There are always those who will try to subvert our little slice of Internet heaven here and I appreciate everyone's efforts to weed them out, but I just want it noted that some of our n00bs have been a great addition to the mix and I for one would like them to feel welcomed.
posted by Lynsey at 1:40 PM on April 16, 2004


Many of the new users have been great contributors from the word go. ChristWeaseler was very much the exception, in my opinion.
posted by crunchburger at 7:28 PM on April 16, 2004


Yeah, but we'll rub their faces in him any time they get uppity.
posted by languagehat at 7:07 AM on April 17, 2004


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