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Metafilter observations presented at 5th International Symposium on Online Journalism
May 13, 2004 7:38 AM   Subscribe

When the Audience is the Producer: The Art of the Collaborative Weblog (pdf), a presentation at the 5th International Symposium on Online Journalism by UT journalism grad student Lou Rutigliano has things to say about Metafilter. [more inside]
posted by thatwhichfalls to MetaFilter-Related at 7:38 AM (118 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

On the basis of a week of watching mefi he comes to some interesting and some contentious conclusions:
Divisions of class and education are often apparent on MetaFilter. Posters refer to
jobs in computer programming industries, experiences in graduate school, and trips
overseas. Front-page posts, which are intended to either provide useful information or
encourage the sharing of information on a topic, frequently deal with topics that are
beyond the reach of members or readers with low incomes or technical ability: favorite
bars around the world, Macintosh iPods, and string theory, to name a few. The ability to
consume, the ability to travel, and the ability to intelligently discuss scientific topics seem
directly related to the ability to post and comment on posts.
Despite its many members, there are several names that recur so
often as to develop recognizable personalities and predicable habits. Over the course of a
mere week these A-list “MeFite” celebrities are obvious and so well-known that their
absence in a thread is obvious and noted by other members. An aura surrounds the
frequent posters and is noted by rookie posters. After the veteran MiguelCardoso
responds to one rookie’s post, she then comments that it feels like a visit from “one of the
Beatles.” A hierarchy among members develops, and although it helps the community to
police itself, it also can drive MetaFilter’s coverage through a vicious circle of posting
popularity. Posts are steered towards the style dictated by the dominant members. There
were no posts in the week I observed that varied from the typical MetaFilter post
characteristics – socially liberal, technological/scientific, educated, media-savvy, and
relatively wealthy.
Plus a nice dig at stavrosthewonderchicken.

While I'm generally of the opinion that professional journalists and professional journalist wannabes might want to sort out the impacted shitheap that their own branches of the media have become, does he perhaps have a point in his explicit and implicit criticisms of mefi?

(original link via the diary of Tex Bigballs, of all people, over on K5.)
posted by thatwhichfalls at 7:39 AM on May 13, 2004


How could there NOT be people who post a lot and are well known? Aren't there distribution laws against that?

As for the classist/elitist charges, well... if socially liberal, technological/scientific, educated, media-savvy, and
relatively wealthy are wrong, I don't wanna be right. And if you don't like it, it's not like you can't go somewhere else.
posted by luser at 7:49 AM on May 13, 2004


what a luser!
posted by quonsar at 7:59 AM on May 13, 2004


There are no posts
here from the member stavrosthewonderchicken on unemployment, public housing, and
healthcare.


I noticed that dig, too. I'm not saying that some of the guy's observations aren't legitamite, but stavros would be the last person I'd pick as a representative of "elitist liberalism."

And if you don't like it, it's not like you can't go somewhere else.

[patrician accent]

We don't like your ill-bred sort here, please go back and consort with your own kind.

[/p.a.]

jeez, luser, prove the guy's point for us, why don'tcha? The point of this place (and the web in general) was supposed to be that all kinds of perspectives got introduced, not just ones from demographics that make you comfortable.
posted by jonmc at 8:05 AM on May 13, 2004


Luser, do not worry about Quonsars' Catachresis Hypallage
posted by clavdivs at 8:05 AM on May 13, 2004


It's interesting, but I'm sure that in the same time frame he looked at there were many many posts about things other than consuming, traveling, or scientific topics. And using Miguel as an example is not representative, i don't think. (and there's something else he leaves out--i'm never going to fully understand all the science posts here, but I value being exposed to the ideas inside them. And I may never get to Asia, but that doesn't lessen my enjoyment of posts about the region) He assumes that low-income--and/or technically-illiterate--people don't want to hear about certain topics, or certain ideas. I think there's enough of a mix on the front page on any given day to dispel his premise.

but i could use less productfilter myself.
posted by amberglow at 8:08 AM on May 13, 2004


stavros would be the last person I'd pick as a representative of "elitist liberalism."

*snicker*
posted by hama7 at 8:08 AM on May 13, 2004


wha-wha-what is a PDF
posted by clavdivs at 8:08 AM on May 13, 2004


Miguel is a genius, of course he should be "representitive"
posted by clavdivs at 8:12 AM on May 13, 2004


*snicker*

*snort*

Whassamatter, hama7, you can no longer speak, you must resort to animal noises?

Stavros is liberal and opinionated, sure. But a guy teaching school in a third world country, from a (based on biographical details I've gleaned from readinghis blog) relatively modest background, is somehow the poster-boy for limo libs, now? I'm not saying that there arent people like that here, as there are everywhere, but he ain't one of em.
posted by jonmc at 8:14 AM on May 13, 2004


jonmc, they just don't like each other, is all. Of course hama7 wouldn't be able to resist a little rabbit punch with an opening like that.
posted by ashbury at 8:20 AM on May 13, 2004


whats a matter jon, you need someone to pick on? A "snicker" is a human noise, a "snort" is either an animal noise or a traditional display of contempt.

wait, are we not all animals?
posted by clavdivs at 8:25 AM on May 13, 2004


jonmc, just making the point that Mefi is upmarket, fark is downmarket. Do you disagree? Have you never seen FPPs derided for being better left to fark? And is it so wrong to be skewed in one direction or another?

I'm not slagging on Fark, I go there a lot, but I expect a certain tone there. I expect another on MeFi, another on /., another on LGF, another on A&L Daily, etc. etc. Communities have personalities, and while MeFi's is a little more scattered than most (to the good), and the OP's citation is overgeneralized, MeFi is pretty much as described. I understand the shrinking away in horror at charges of elitism. But it's not a poll test. People who aren't interested are free to go elsewhere. Sorry, didn't mean to sound like Thurston Moore the 3rd in the original comment.
posted by luser at 8:25 AM on May 13, 2004


jonmc, just making the point that Mefi is upmarket, fark is downmarket.

How can something that's free be any market?

Ultimately, I think the author of the paper was just noting the demographics of the place and how that affects the social dynamic.

Sorry, didn't mean to sound like Thurston Moore the 3rd in the original comment.

I think you mean Thurston Howell. Thurston Moore is the guitarist is Sonic Youth. But it's ok, I reacted a bit strongly to make my point as well.
posted by jonmc at 8:33 AM on May 13, 2004


Posts often link to very lengthy and literate background material that requires time to read

We're supposed to read the links? Who has the time?

There are no posts here from the member stavrosthewonderchicken on unemployment, public housing, and healthcare.

or midget tossing either... sorry, what was your point? Am I totally missing something here, or isn't stav a Canadian living in Korea? Is this writer, Lou Rutigliano, assuming everyone here is American?

Maybe that explains his comments about overseas trips. A thread about bars around the world isn't a just about MeFi's USians drinking in bars in Tijuana. Its an opportunity for our diverse clan to talk about common themes.

on preview:

I think jonmc has hit the nail on the head....
posted by davehat at 8:39 AM on May 13, 2004


There were no posts in the week I observed that varied from the typical MetaFilter post characteristics – socially liberal, technological/scientific, educated, media-savvy, and relatively wealthy. . . . By not accepting new members, there seems little chance for a change in that pattern. - from the article.

Sheesh, you'd think that 17 000 members would have just a bit of variety, wouldn't you? Even if only 10 percent of the membership posts and comments on a regular basis, it's still nothing to sneeze at. Furthermore, any community, be it real or virtual, will always have stand-out personalities. While they may guide the ethos of the place to a certain extent, they inevitably get drowned out if they cross that invisible line that is set by the community as a whole. Witness the miguel-bashing, for one, or the many petty arguments and grudge matches that occur on a weekly, if not daily basis (fwiw, it's been pretty quiet around here, troll-wise and bickering-wise, imo).

As far as I'm concerned, Metafilter covers a very broad category of topics that, while typically liberal leading, will often show more sides to any given story than the initial postings might. It's why many of us come back every day, over and over again.

Thurston Howell the third.
posted by ashbury at 8:39 AM on May 13, 2004


Front-page posts, which are intended to either provide useful information or encourage the sharing of information on a topic, frequently deal with topics that are beyond the reach of members or readers with low incomes or technical ability...

What this author fails to realize is that MetaFilter also allows people to discuss their ambitions and desires, and members frequently do so. For every MeFite with a (Mac|travel itinerary|cuban cigar) , there are three or four others who can't afford the same, but that doesn't mean they aren't interested in -- or interested in discussing -- those subjects.

In my mind, (inaccurately) critiquing MetaFilter for not covering issues such as unemployment, public housing, and urban decay is like critiquing the Food Network for not demonstrating how to prepare hot dogs and Hamburger Helper. Like expecting the Travel Channel to provide a detailed look at the chalets of South Jersey.

MetaFilter: We may be laying in the gutter, but we're staring up at the stars.
posted by Danelope at 8:50 AM on May 13, 2004


What the hell is wrong with being able to consume, travel, and discuss scientific topics? These things "seem directly related" to the ability to post and comment? That sounds patently false to me, or, at least, the phrase "directly related" is overstated. I haven't read the whole piece yet, though - perhaps there is more support for this conclusion.
posted by crunchburger at 8:52 AM on May 13, 2004


In my mind, (inaccurately) critiquing MetaFilter for not covering issues such as unemployment, public housing, and urban decay is like critiquing the Food Network for not demonstrating how to prepare hot dogs and Hamburger Helper. Like expecting the Travel Channel to provide a detailed look at the chalets of South Jersey.

How ya figure?

Many of us live in urban areas, which contain housing projects. Hell, among 17000 members I'm sure there's probably a MeFite who's lived in public housing. I, for one, would love to hear their perspective. In times like these many people are worried about becoming unemployed.

What the hell is wrong with being able to consume, travel, and discuss scientific topics?

Not a thing. But there's also nothing wrong with not being able to, or having different interests.

Again, I think the criticism is based on the common hype that weblogs "democratize the media" while noting that it's still a certian demographic that the author describes that dominates.
posted by jonmc at 8:58 AM on May 13, 2004


"the typical MetaFilter post characteristics – socially liberal, technological/scientific, educated, media-savvy, and relatively wealthy" is the weakest part of an already very weak analysis (but of course the man's been reading MeFi for a week, the whole point of the paper seems to be wild generalization -- in that respect he's ready to graduate and go out, do damage in the real media world)

I mean, how unbelievably strange that English-speaking people from (mainly) industrialized countries who have Internet access and like to read (the pre-requisites of MeFi membership) end up being marginally more educated, marginally more tech/media-savvy than the phantom "average Joe" user the writer appears to have in mind.

I'm also willing to bet that most people here have hot running water available on a daily basis.
how elitist.

*snicker*
posted by matteo at 9:09 AM on May 13, 2004


I'm reminded of a David Sadaris spoof where he writes as a serious theatre critic reviewing a grade school play.

"In the role of Mary, six-year-old Shannon Burke just barely manages to pass herself off as a virgin. A cloying, preening stage presence, her performance seemed based on nothing but an annoying proclivity towards lifting her skirt and, on rare occasions, opening her eyes."

Seriously deconstructing MetaFilter indicates nothing more sincere than a need to fill time.
posted by y6y6y6 at 9:14 AM on May 13, 2004


We all have different interests and backgrounds, nobody's disputing that. But this place is pretty unfiltered democracy, as far as content goes. There's no entrance exam to join, everybody can post whatever they want as long as it meets the (incredibly lax) posting guidelines. There's no harm in observing that the content skews a certain direction; the observation doesn't denigrate other interests, backgrounds, user profiles... if it bothers you, jonmc, then you should post more of the stuff you think should be here.

P.S. I know my Thurstons, it was a joke...something about being uptown and downtown at the same time. For a nanosecond it seemed clever to me.
posted by luser at 9:19 AM on May 13, 2004


Front-page posts, which are intended to either provide useful information or encourage the sharing of information on a topic, frequently deal with topics that are
beyond the reach of members or readers with low incomes or technical ability: favorite bars around the world, Macintosh iPods, and string theory, to name a few.


The author pancakes himself by forgetting, "can't" is not in the dictionary. You can do anything once you put your mind to it. Though it may take hard effort & work on one's part: saving & learning. All obstacles are surpassed once you have implemented your goals accomplishing it. Even obtaining membership in Meta-Filter can be done.
posted by thomcatspike at 9:21 AM on May 13, 2004


For convenience--the discussion of MeFi is in pages 9-11 of the paper.
posted by Prospero at 9:46 AM on May 13, 2004


Hmph. He says "blogosphere" without making fun of the word by putting it in quotes.

As for all this shite about MeFi being overwhelmingly wealthy and techno-savvy, he just needed an angle to make his thesis more interesting. That's a spin to portray MeFi as "upper-class" and elitist. Um, we're not, are we? 'Cuz I HATE that ;-)
posted by Shane at 9:55 AM on May 13, 2004


I take issue with the author's implicit message that only content to which all possible users would have conceptual access is fair (e.g. p. 19, last paragraph). To my experience, all culture is negotiated by (intentionally or unconsciously) limiting the scope of our ideas to this or that subgroup.

References to The Simpsons, for example, necessarily exclude those unfamiliar with the program: that's a big part of what makes familiarity with the program socially meaningful. Subtle (and gross) exclusivity forms parties, and is the basis of all culture.

We are a party people, yo.

[Qualifier/disclaimer: These issues are the bread and butter of my daily studies right now. I'm currently finishing my Master's thesis in Speech Communicaiton.]
posted by squirrel at 10:00 AM on May 13, 2004


We are a party people, yo . . . I'm currently finishing my Master's thesis in Speech Communicaiton.

Like, "yo," why does that frighten me?

Sorry, couldn't resist ;-)
posted by Shane at 10:18 AM on May 13, 2004


This metafilter ... is it something I'd need a journalist grad student to know about?
posted by bonaldi at 10:21 AM on May 13, 2004


And now that I've read the relevant portion (thanks to this post, which links to "very lengthy and literate background material that requires time to read"):

"The conflict lies between the MetaFilter purists--who link to safe and apolitical technology news and Internet oddities--and those members with higher aspirations who would steer the blog closer to a news source model." (Emphasis mine.)

That can be seen as a reductionist statement for a number of reasons, but he shows a clear and surprising bias here. (I wonder if he ever came to MeTa or AskMe, come to think of it.)

"When Wal-Mart surfaces on the front page, the community struggles with arguments for and against the company's retail dominance and its effect on both suburban sprawl and the homogenization of American culture. Nowhere amongst the debaters is someone who actually worked a shift at the chain."

Mmmm, yes, it feels so good to criticize the bourgeois class of which one is a member, doesn't it? Especially when you're in grad school, giving the papers at conferences that you need to beef up your CV in preparation for a turbulent job market. Don't you feel revolutionary when you say things like this, when you stand up for the proles? Don't you get that tingly feeling of radicalism inside?

"To fully experience much of the information presented in this medium requires a daily schedule with a high amount of leisure time and the money it takes to afford the necessary technology for access.[...] There are member that apparently have these luxuries[....]"

Or maybe we just surf from work. (Though it'd be fair enough to say that the population of people with jobs that allow them regular MeFi access is self-selecting.)
posted by Prospero at 10:21 AM on May 13, 2004


Many of us live in urban areas, which contain housing projects. Hell, among 17000 members I'm sure there's probably a MeFite who's lived in public housing. I, for one, would love to hear their perspective. In times like these many people are worried about becoming unemployed.

Perhaps I'm taking you too literally jonmc, but I immediately though of this thread, where the topic comes up. Though the back-and-forth get a bit heated, several members do discuss their less-than-opulent childhoods. This is not the first time I've come across such discussions, either. I think that maybe one doesn't find as many FPPs on 'unemployment, public housing, and healthcare' as they would like, but hang around long enough and it does come up in the threads, just out of serendipity.
posted by speedo at 10:24 AM on May 13, 2004


"To fully experience much of the information presented in this medium requires a daily schedule with a high amount of leisure time and the money it takes to afford the necessary technology for access.[...] There are member that apparently have these luxuries[....]"

Or maybe we just surf from work.


Hammer/nail head/BANG!
posted by Shane at 10:28 AM on May 13, 2004


What Prospero said. (well-said Prospero!) And, he doesn't even include page numbers - I HATE that, I mean talk about the #1 sign of the dilettante philosopher...
posted by lilboo at 10:37 AM on May 13, 2004


Posts often link to very lengthy and literate background material

So that's what those yellow things are!
posted by DrJohnEvans at 10:43 AM on May 13, 2004


My initial response on reading this was that I would ignore it and not respond, since I come across these sorts of academic generalizations often and getting up in arms over them is very close to pointless. However, I have yielded to my urges and responded:

Divisions of class and education are often apparent on MetaFilter. Posters refer to jobs in computer programming industries, experiences in graduate school, and trips
overseas.


First off all, I should probably point out the obvious: generally speaking (which is what he seems to want anyway) people using computers with enough free time to spend here--waxing sarcastic--are probably reasonably well off, or spend time here while they're at work (meaning, again, that they have a steady income). In addition, someone who has the means to visit this site with regularity--that is, someone who can afford a computer and an internet connection--is obviously going to skew towards the educated and/or wealthier end of the spectrum. In addition, when we're dealing with blogs, pointing out that a large percentage of users are "tech-savvy" accomplishes nothing, especially when the person making the argument fails to mention the correlation between the two.

Now, my question is whether any of this actually leads to a class "division", as he seems to believe. My suggestion is no, as I've never seen someone here criticize someone for having a lower income or not enjoying the plush lifestyles enjoyed by some. However, if his point is simply that the majority of posters here are of higher income brackets and are tech-savvy (I'm not), then I think the reasons I provided above probably account for that. If anything, the differences are a result of the medium, not of community standards.

Front-page posts, which are intended to either provide useful information or encourage the sharing of information on a topic, frequently deal with topics that are beyond the reach of members or readers with low incomes or technical ability: favorite bars around the world, Macintosh iPods, and string theory, to name a few. The ability to consume, the ability to travel, and the ability to intelligently discuss scientific topics seem directly related to the ability to post and comment on posts.

I would posit that the posts he mentions make up a miniscule percentage of FPPs. His use of the word "frequently" is misleading: there are upwards of twenty or thirty posts on metafilter daily and he does not mention what makes up this frequency. Is twice a day frequent? That's less than 10% of the posts. What about the dreaded War in Iraq/American Foreign Policy posts that Metafilter does so well and so often? These are inclusive, as are the majority of "whacky news" stories posted to MetaFilter. The celebrity/entertainment stuff that gets posts is equally accessible to everyone. This division he's trying to hard to outline simply doesn't exist to the level he's suggesting; as I mentioned, I have little or no technical savvy, or interest in google or apple products (which I can't afford presently), and yet I don't view these threads as exclusive in any way. They're simply the interests of other members on the site.

An aura surrounds the frequent posters and is noted by rookie posters. After the veteran MiguelCardoso responds to one rookie’s post, she then comments that it feels like a visit from “one of the Beatles.”

This brings to mind two things. First, there's nothing worst in academic literature (or even news journalism) than someone taking what is likely a half-serious joke with the utmost seriousness and using it to make a point. Second, one comment in the span of a week does not a pattern make.

Posts are steered towards the style dictated by the dominant members. There were no posts in the week I observed that varied from the typical MetaFilter post
characteristics – socially liberal, technological/scientific, educated, media-savvy, and relatively wealthy.


What does this mean, exactly? He keeps attempting to suggest that Metafilter is, at best, socially liberal--that we only support gay rights and the like, not typical liberal standards. This is patently false and misleading, at least to the extent that there is a healthy percentage of users here who are unabashedly liberal on all fronts. How does he account for this? If he spent a week studying metafilter in the past year and a half (and I assume that's the timeframe since I seem to recall the Miguel = the Beatles thing somewhat clearly) he could not possibly have missed the Iraq posts. These are 90% liberal, both in the characteristics of the post itself and the comments contained within. There have also been countless threads (likely on a weekly basis) in the past three and a half years about the various rollbacks in women's rights and other similar moves by the Bush government.

At best, what's being proven here is that MetaFilter is exclusive in the sense that the majority of online users have higher levels of education (that's who learns to use computers and has the means to own them, no?) and moderate incomes (let's not forget that in the rough and dirty survey of MeFi users a few weeks back less than 2% answered that they had higher than six-figure incomes). The rest of his assertions, at least about MetaFilter, are either misleading or plain misrepresentation--I'm not sure if he intended it or not. Regardless, the only points he's argued to any success are so brain-crushingly obvious they won't make for much of a paper.
posted by The God Complex at 10:44 AM on May 13, 2004


Perhaps I'm taking you too literally jonmc, but I immediately though of this thread, where the topic comes up. Though the back-and-forth get a bit heated, several members do discuss their less-than-opulent childhoods.

True enough. I was just trying to point out that if we're aiming for a broad spectrum of perspectives here (and succeding better than most), we can always aim for more.

Nowhere amongst the debaters is someone who actually worked a shift at the chain

*raises hand*

I never worked at Wal-Mart specifically but I spent all of my 20's and a good chuck of my early thirties working exclusively in nametag jobs in chain retail stores. And one of my Dad's jobs is as a salesman in JC Penny. And I know several MeFite's who've done the same. Maybe we missed that thread, but we are here. So that line is bullshit, I'll admit.
posted by jonmc at 10:49 AM on May 13, 2004


"To fully experience much of the information presented in this medium requires..........."

.......... requires a level of interest which is probably mythical rather than typical. I think the MetaFilter experience, like a cockroach, is lost once you shine a light on it like this.

Why MetaFilter? Because we're bored. Occasionally. Sort of. Or not. Maybe.

It might be just as accurate to condemn the Simpsons by pointing out that it is created by a self selected group of Hollywood insiders who have access to ready funding and cheap overseas animators. People who are able to work on it all day. People with a support structure optimized for creating such shows. In short, a group which is totally disconnected from the vast majority of people in the world.

Yeah. Right.
posted by y6y6y6 at 10:50 AM on May 13, 2004


One of the things I love most about metafilter is that despite the A-list mefites, metatalk callouts, lots of bitching, and the occasional deletion, each of our posts is displayed as prominently as everyone else's. Miguel can comment and I can respond and nobody is able to vote me down or him up. Our comments stand as they are and have a good shot of being judged on their own merits. This is as true of mostly-lurkers as it is of posters whose opinions are 180 degrees from the median mefite's.
posted by callmejay at 11:01 AM on May 13, 2004


I've been putting off applying for food stamps this week. Seems I should get that done, and on the way home stop by the UT J-school and present my street creds to Mr. Rutigliano.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 11:04 AM on May 13, 2004


And you know what? I'm starting to think this wanker has some serious issues of his own.

"frequently deal with topics that are beyond the reach of members or readers with low incomes or technical ability"

Well, just for the record, I've done farm work, fast food, and minimum wage retail. While I've only been homeless for a short time, I have lived in some very nasty places. I know many ways to keep ramen soup and mac & cheese from getting boring when you have to eat it for weeks on end.

Still, I fail to find the exclusionary environment our young scholar has fixated on.

And while i won't cop to being stupid, I think we can all agree there are plenty of stupid people here. True, MetaFilter isn't the Today Show, but it's not far from it.

Perhaps Mr. Rutigliano has some social guilt or emotional disfunction he needs to deal with.
posted by y6y6y6 at 11:07 AM on May 13, 2004


Mr. Rutigliano, it's not that MetaFilter is exclusive. It's that it's not important to almost everyone. You, me, and 17000 others are pretty much the only people who care about it.

Some 6427510800 people are not members of MetaFilter and that is okay.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:15 AM on May 13, 2004


*chomping on veteran-like stogie, clears out garage and starts forming the A-List Beatles. First single to be "Stavros In The Sky With Diamonds"*:

Picture yourself in a farm in Korea,
With unlimited booze and elitist Mefis...

posted by MiguelCardoso at 11:17 AM on May 13, 2004


Two thoughts occur to me (especially after reading this thread):

1) There's an excellent chance that Rutigliano is reading this--if he's interested enough to write on this topic, he'd have to be obtuse to think that his article wouldn't eventually get discussed here, and there is a link to "MetaTalk" on the home page, so if he was thorough at all, he knows about MeTa. (Not meant as a warning, but as an interesting aside.)

2) Even more interesting, there's a very good chance he's a contributing member of the MeFi community. You could make an argument for anthropological objectivity, where someone doing research should just observe, and not interact, with their subjects, but if he's genuinely interested in this sort of thing, it's very likely he joined and contributed to places like this for a while before he decided to write about them. (Let the witchhunt begin...)
posted by LairBob at 11:28 AM on May 13, 2004


Hell, among 17000 members I'm sure there's probably a MeFite who's lived in public housing

*raises hand* I'm still in public housing - it's surely not that unusual?
posted by dash_slot- at 11:30 AM on May 13, 2004


*chomping on veteran-like stogie, clears out garage and starts forming the A-List Beatles. First single to be "Stavros In The Sky With Diamonds"*

And now the name Stephen Den Pete Beste is stuck in my head and must be written down.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 11:31 AM on May 13, 2004


Metafilter: what the fat white American techie guy thinks
posted by dydecker at 11:35 AM on May 13, 2004


if this guy's still around taking finals, ya want I should pay him a little visit?

/mafioso accent
posted by whatnot at 11:35 AM on May 13, 2004


Or, to continue the Beatles theme..

User #1, MeFites at your feet.
Wonder how you manage to make ends meet.
Who finds the money? When you pay for bandwidth
Did we think about who pays for 50,000 hits?

Friday night arrives with a flamewar
Sunday morning there's a triple post
Monday's posters cry that Bush threads are a bore
See, the server's toast!

User #1, MeFites in his face
Wondering how to keep the blue a civil place

User #1, lying on the rug,
Wondering how much longer 'til he pulls the plug.
posted by orange swan at 11:54 AM on May 13, 2004 [1 favorite]


I am MeFi as you are MeFi as you are MeFi
and we are all together
See how they run like Miguel from a closed thread,
see how they fly,
I'm posting

Sitting on a Front Page Post
waiting for amberglow to come
MetaFilter T-shirt, stupid bloody downtime

Man, You been naughty stav,
you let your contibution index get low
I am the MeFiMan, oh
they are the MeFiMen, oh
I am the mathowie, goo goo g'joob

Mister Metatalk nanny whining
Pretty little policemen in a row
See how they fly like ColdChef in the sky,
see how they run
I'm posting, I'm posting, I'm posting, I'm posting

Green matter comments,
dripping from hama7's thread
Dejah420, fishfucker, pornographic madamjujujive
Steve you been a naughty boy
you let your konolia down

I am the mathowie, oh they are the MeFiMen, oh
I am the mathowie,
goo goo goo
posted by matteo at 12:17 PM on May 13, 2004 [2 favorites]


Though it'd be fair enough to say that the population of people with jobs that allow them regular MeFi access is self-selecting.)

The author still pancakes himself here because members have stated that they: are unemployed and post their comments via the public libraries.
His thesis is based on limits which are "nothings", when you realize there are no limits obtaining a goal.
posted by thomcatspike at 12:20 PM on May 13, 2004


"Or, to continue the Beatles theme.."

Surely MeFi slash fiction can't be far away.
posted by y6y6y6 at 12:23 PM on May 13, 2004


but he ain't one of em.

That's not what he says. I mean, what?

Build yourself a house in Korea,
With unlimited booze and elitist Mefis...


*peers through binoculars*

*takes a long refreshing swig from an ice-cold can of Bud*
posted by hama7 at 12:27 PM on May 13, 2004


"...there's a very good chance he's a contributing member of the MeFi community..."

Or trolling for a membership.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 12:29 PM on May 13, 2004


orange swan - a fine ditty.

"When Wal-Mart surfaces on the front page, the community struggles with arguments for and against the company's retail dominance and its effect on both suburban sprawl and the homogenization of American culture. Nowhere amongst the debaters is someone who actually worked a shift at the chain." - well, Rutigliano doesn't really have much of a clue of what jobs most of us here have worked, does he ? I could learn 'em a thing or two - and would if had bothered to ask.

I could be a fucking genetically modified cephalopod in a tank, with a waterproof keyboard and mouse, for all Rutgliano knows.

Hey Rutigliano......Yah hear ME ? You THERE ?

"The ability to consume, the ability to travel, and the ability to intelligently discuss scientific topics seem directly related to the ability to post and comment on posts." - I ate a big piece of cheese a few minutes ago, and it wern't no government cheese, neither ! I went to washington DC once, too. In high school. On a bus. it was different from where I grew up.
posted by troutfishing at 12:30 PM on May 13, 2004


Anyone recall ways we threw around becoming a Meta-Filter member before our last sign up? Recall an idea by their writing skills. Maybe this fellow is looking for membership too; yet he did write about Plastic. Seems he was mostly pointing out in Meta-Filter: you can’t comment unless you are a member or done the posted thread contents.
posted by thomcatspike at 12:37 PM on May 13, 2004


1) There's an excellent chance that Rutigliano is reading this

I just e-mailed him, notifying him that this thread exists, and offering to post any comments he might wish to send me: it's only fair.
posted by Prospero at 12:48 PM on May 13, 2004


I just e-mailed him, notifying him

when he comes back from his Wal-Mart job he'll answer your e-mail.
that is, if he has Internet access.
posted by matteo at 1:05 PM on May 13, 2004


"Nowhere amongst the debaters is someone who actually worked a shift at the chain."

While I never worked at Walmart, I did work for three years at Target and three years and McDonalds, also, I've never made more than $13,000 a year, so I guess I ended up here by accident.
posted by drezdn at 1:05 PM on May 13, 2004


I travel loads in Europe (because I'm from Europe. ha!) Rich isn't it? like many others I've worked for many chains I'd rather not name..
posted by dabitch at 1:13 PM on May 13, 2004


And also, if any wealthy scientific types would like my metafilter account (less than 8k user number!), I'm willing to trade it for $20,000 or a used van.

You know you can afford it.
posted by drezdn at 1:23 PM on May 13, 2004


Yackity yackity, choo CHOO!, Yackity yackity.....BLOGS! Self proclaimed Blogoholic George Packer, at Mother Jones, shits on blogs everywhere, joins bemused chorus - What are they? What do they mean? Quoth Packer : "Blog prose is written in headline form to imitate informal speech, with short emphatic sentences and frequent use of boldface and italics. The entries, sometimes updated hourly, are little spasms of assertion.... there is also something peculiarly stale and tired about them — not the form, but the content.....".
posted by troutfishing at 1:31 PM on May 13, 2004


And also, if any wealthy scientific types would like my metafilter account (less than 8k user number!), I'm willing to trade it for $20,000 or a used van.

Well, shit, mine should be worth millions. Or at least a concubine or two.
posted by jonmc at 1:35 PM on May 13, 2004


why is everyone getting worked up by the homework of some snot-nosed journalism grad student? that's the kind of guy who polishes my jag while i'm busy sipping martinis and discussing string theory and ipods with the blognoscenti.

your revolution is over, mr. rutigliano. condolences. the bums lost. my advice is to do what your parents did; get a job, sir!
posted by _sirmissalot_ at 2:01 PM on May 13, 2004


Hey--Lou Rutigliano wrote back.

Thanks for letting me know about the thread, and I'm at work right now but wanted to just say something quickly to you and the rest of the crew reading this discussion. The fact is, I'm a fan of MetaFilter, and the rest of the weblogs I studied. In that same paper, I complimented the fact-checking work of the membership, and in the paper's conclusions I suggested applying this sort of model to the mainstream. At a recent conference I recommended that mainstream editors and journalists check out MetaFilter, Plastic, Kuro5hin, and Slashdot as places experimenting with ways to use the audience to improve their coverage. But as one of the members mentioned, there is a lot of democratic hype surrounding group/collaborative weblogs. Some think that peer-to-peer communication will replace the traditional media. I think that if this medium is going to fulfill the potential that it has, there is room for improvement to make it more accessible and useful for a broader section of the public. It just seems sometimes that the digital divide applies not just to access, but content as well. Yes unfortunately my conclusions were based on the limited amount of material I was able to review, I know there are exceptions and things I missed, and yes, there are conclusions and statements that would be obvious to someone familar with weblogs. This paper didn't claim to be the definitive word on MetaFilter or group weblogs - it's just a foundation for further study, that hopefully someone will build upon. Maybe someone will start PublichousingFilter, I don't know.
Love it or hate it, I'm glad you read it, and I appreciate your feedback. Now I've got to go back to work before I get fired.
Thanks,
Lou Rutigliano

posted by Prospero at 2:33 PM on May 13, 2004


what's the fuss about? is anyone saying he's not right? i mean, i like much of mefi because it is liberal, educated, well-travelled, etc. and the thing i dislike most is the level of consumer-related stuff (miguel's old posts that sounded like something out of bad james bond, listing fancy brands; the tedious ask-mefi stuff on "what x to buy?" etc).

the only thing i see to object to is that this is a pretty standard trick - pulling the old "you're not an authentic prole" routine (so old it's even the basis of a monty python skit!) - and maybe that only comes from selective quoting above (i haven't read the full report - it's 33 pages long and not very interesting).
posted by andrew cooke at 2:49 PM on May 13, 2004


(based on what i did read - maybe the interesting bits were hidden away)
posted by andrew cooke at 2:51 PM on May 13, 2004


To Lou Rutigliano, I'd say - Hello! , and also - why should Metafilter talk down to the greater public ? Wouldn't that amount to condscension ? The mass media does that already - and that's a principle factor, I'd argue, in the overall dumbing down of American discourse.

I honestly don't see much intent, on Metafilter, towards cultural or intellectual snobbery. Most here - I'd say (and especially after they get used to the place) - simply let it all hang out - elephants with diarrhea and all.

We are what we are, and I yam what I yam. I have inexplicably big forearms too, like Popeye (it's true! - from long toil in Wal-Mart like places).
posted by troutfishing at 3:02 PM on May 13, 2004


Some think that peer-to-peer communication will replace the traditional media. I think that if this medium is going to fulfill the potential that it has, there is room for improvement to make it more accessible and useful for a broader section of the public

The distinction should be made between the general medium and the specific instance (i.e. metafilter). Even the traditional media has room for both The New Yorker and People magazine.
posted by vacapinta at 3:08 PM on May 13, 2004


Maybe someone will start PublichousingFilter, I don't know.

PublichousingFilter?
posted by 4easypayments at 3:19 PM on May 13, 2004


I think that if this medium is going to fulfill the potential that it has, there is room for improvement to make it more accessible and useful for a broader section of the public

You can't get much more accessible and useful than, say, Blogger. There's nothing that says it all has to happen on one site. In fact, that'd be dumb.
posted by kindall at 3:45 PM on May 13, 2004


I think there is a bit too much criticism in this piece. On and on about what we aren't (poor, illiterate, undereducated), and I read quite a bit of bias in the analysis. As if it's a flaw that none of us have ever apparently worked at Walmart (or are willing to admit it).
posted by crunchland at 4:06 PM on May 13, 2004


good point, kindall
posted by _sirmissalot_ at 4:38 PM on May 13, 2004


I didn't read the paper or the entire thread, but let me ask:

-what's the matter with being "relatively wealthy"?
-how does he know we are "relatively wealthy"? The "ability" to consume should not be naively inferred from the willingness to comment on consumption, travel etc etc; past experiences are unreliable (not to mention unverifiable) social indicators;
-is there any place on Earth where there are no class divisions?
-why should MeFi have posts on "unemployment, public housing, and healthcare"?

I say the author tried to further the already excessively populist-leftist social agenda that sometimes pollutes this site through the following sectarian misinterpretations:

1- denouncing our alleged "wealth" ("look, you are rich, spoiled kids who shut off the proletariat by talking about i-Macs, travels to Gstaad and fur stoles!");
2- ignoring the fact that there's already way too much of a social agenda here (pro-minorities, environment etc etc), as if we actually needed more FPPs about SUVs, homo rights and the like; and
3-hinting that community weblogs have some kind of mandatory responsibility towards the poor and poverty-related issues, instead of being simply private enterprises where people are free to talk as individuals.

Verdict: strong candidate for a D-.
posted by 111 at 4:47 PM on May 13, 2004


This thing is, there is nothing he says that is not true in one way or another. Where the inevitable arguments come from is based on whether or not you think the ways he describes MetaFilter are bad or not.

There is a fundamental flaw, however, in how he perceives the entry levels to MetaFilter. He seems to think that, in order to be a member here, you must have a certain level of income to be able to afford the technology necessary, when it is actually readily available for little cost using older equipment and a dial-up internet connection or for no cost using public facilities. In reality, the only barrier to membership here is the lack of available memberships, which is purely a matter of resources to manage the community and has nothing to do with the resources of the potential member.
posted by dg at 5:04 PM on May 13, 2004


111 - A+
posted by hama7 at 5:05 PM on May 13, 2004


there is nothing he says that is not true in one way or another.

Wow
posted by 111 at 5:08 PM on May 13, 2004


The introduction to the paper is messy. When introducing a paper you should make reference to your theoretical framework and establish your hypothesis in less than a page. It usually isn't very hard to do in a single paragraph. If I was reviewing this as a journal submission I may have to work through a suitcase full of similar papers and I don't have time to let you circle around your point. Put in an abstract or at the very least move the last paragraph on the first page to the second paragraph.

Also, this paper needs to distinguish itself as a paper and not as a literature review. For a start it needs to confront any and all attacks on your point, however peripheral. Consider that your audience wants something to argue about. You can even deliberately give them some targets that can take a hit and not compromise your main hypothesis. For example: Lindlif and Shatzer's objections to the use of limited online source material could be linked to similar concerns about the source material used in every other form of journalism due to time constraints, potentially biased sources, references to faulty references (the Bermuda Triangle effect) and the unreliability of eye witnesses (see Elizabeth Loftus). You can defuse their point, add some fire to the paper, and not disturb your main hypothesis.

This has potential, but it needs some polish. Anyway, I've got things to do and I'm not your supervisor.
posted by snarfodox at 6:04 PM on May 13, 2004


but he ain't one of em.

That's not what he says. I mean, what?

Build yourself a house in Korea,
With unlimited booze and elitist Mefis...

*peers through binoculars*


Go fuck yourself, hama7. Your stalkeresque comment-tracking of me is getting really creepy.

That I should need to say this is ridiculous (I ought to ignore you, as usual except when you directly attack me), but :

1) I am poor as a fucking churchmouse. (To wit : my friend who's been hosting my website for free all this time might not be able to continue thanks to financial difficulties and I may have to fold it up soon because I can't justify the expense to keep it running if I have to pay.) I have a good, corporate job, and I have very modest savings, but no pension plans or anything of the kind. I own nothing more expensive than a 5-year old PC. Yes, I would love to build a house in Korea. I'd also love to shoot laser beams out of my eyes and write 'dumbass' on your forehead with them in big red letters. Neither is probably going to happen. If I make some money off this book deal I've recently been offered, I might actually be able to buy a new PC before the old one karks it completely.

2) My parents need to sell the lodge I talked about in that Askme post, a lodge which they do not own outright by any stretch of the imagination, because they are fucking broke, and too far in the hole to bootstrap out. Bankruptcy is possibly their only option, unless they find a last minute buyer. In fact, since I posted that AskMe question, the banks have foreclosed, and at the age of 60, they may well be put out without a home, without any savings to speak of, and there's very little I can do about it.

So suck my balls, you creepy halfwit stalker thud-dullard. Crawl back under your judgemental rock.


Also : anybody got a mirror of that pdf? It seems to have been taken offline, and I'd like to see how this (other) pencil-dick took shots at me without bothering to send me an email and ask if his guesswork was anything like correct.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:09 PM on May 13, 2004


Heh.

Every person that has found a way to post in here is, by the standards of the world at large, fabulously wealthy. You are all literate and educated (in the dominant language of commerce and culture on the planet), and probably all have a place to call home.
posted by NortonDC at 9:15 PM on May 13, 2004


The remarks about you did seem gratuitous, stavros. I'm sure you have your faults, but you're not really the first to come to mind when I think capitalist oppressor.
posted by crunchburger at 9:15 PM on May 13, 2004


OK, it's bad to post angry. Apologies to the community at large. But hama7 can still suck my balls.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:16 PM on May 13, 2004


I can't imagine find the energy to pore through my own stock of comments let alone sifting through somone else's to uncover possible personal flaws or inconsistencies.

That sounds really boring and, besides, only angels, devils, gods and demons have spotless records.

We mortals are a bit tarnished.
posted by troutfishing at 9:32 PM on May 13, 2004


If he does, please don't tell me about it, ok?

...but enjoy it.
posted by The God Complex at 9:34 PM on May 13, 2004


It's a deal, TGC. I guess photos are out of the question then, too, eh?

Also, never mind about the pdf. I dug around on the site and got a copy of it and the powerpoint.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:42 PM on May 13, 2004


They're not even in the same neighbourhood as the question.
posted by The God Complex at 9:50 PM on May 13, 2004


what are "homo rights?"
posted by mcsweetie at 11:07 PM on May 13, 2004


The natural enemies of homolefties, maybe?
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:24 PM on May 13, 2004


what are "homo rights?"

i believe the correct phrase is "Omo whites" and it refers to laundry.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 11:29 PM on May 13, 2004

"...there's already way too much of a social agenda here (pro-minorities..."—111
The pro-minority bias of MeFi is sickening. Allow me to do my part to help change that. 111, your token conservative shilling has been tolerated around these parts for far too long. Fuck off.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 11:37 PM on May 13, 2004


The pro-minority bias of MeFi is sickening. Allow me to do my part to help change that. 111, your token conservative shilling has been tolerated around these parts for far too long. Fuck off.

111's critique was, imho, not only fair but wise. You know, as a pretty liberal conservative who's pooh-pooed the "lefty agenda" paradigm, I'm beginning to believe that members' manners and fairness do indeed tend to approach zero whenever the conservatives here voice their opinion.

There's a lot of talk about how great it is to have dissenting voices and all that, but what I see (admittedly as a conservative, which definitely colours my view) is predominantly well-worded and thoughtfully argued opinions by those of us who aren't fortunate enough to be in the majority, received with incisive, persuasive and entirely inspired and original comments along the lines of "Fuck off".

Midas Mulligan, hama7, 111, myself and a few others are not here to try to convince anyone. People who dislike change are loath to change even other people's opinions. Like you, we're simply stating our sincere opinions. Besides, we're not by a long stretch the fascists you wish you could disparage. I'd argue we're, in fact, a good deal more liberal - in the classic, political philosophy sense of the word - open-hearted and tolerant than the "fuck off" crowd on the Left.

But that's just my opinion. Perhaps you could respect that, Captain Bligh?
posted by MiguelCardoso at 12:11 AM on May 14, 2004


Miguel, I must have missed the posts where your conservatism was demonstrated by coded racism. But if that's where you wish to make your bed, enjoy yourself. 111 will make for an enthusiastic partner.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 12:18 AM on May 14, 2004


Miguel,

I understand the conservative's occasional need to engage in the trademark "conservative" whining "lefties-are-so-intolerant", especially nowadays ("culture wars" and accusations of being "shrill" are the few things that, in a post- "no-wmds-in-Iraq" and post-Lynndie England world still allow "conservatives" to open their mouths and talk, instead of simply shut up in shame for all the times they've been horribly wrong, covering themselves in ridicule and enabling a very dangerous, unelected crowd to probably start WWIII) , but it's really funny, in general, that the people who cheerily admit their hate -- or at best distaste -- for "homos" (why don't they simply say "fags" if the thought of men fucking other men makes them so nervous, they'll feel better, I've always wondered), women (wanna check your alleged buddies comments re women's rights?), ethnic minorities, the handicapped, etc?

EBligh is right. you're too smart not to notice not-very-subtle coded racism. choose your buddies more wisely -- they're beneath you, really. I think that somebody as fundamentally decent as you should steer clear from associating himself (and poor, decent if funnily money-fetishizing MidasMulligan) with a demonstrably fascist crowd like 111's, hamasheaven, david dark's and a few others (open posting history can help in these situations)

(and yes Miguel, I like hama7's art fpps too -- as a European you perfectly know that the art-loving fascist is a classic character -- whenever I think of hama7 I imagine a more rabid Jean-Marie LePen with an Internet connection, but I'm digressing)

nobody here is putting "conservatives" in a Lager, except in some conservatives' twisted fantasies (btw, you're free to peruse some right-wing's warblogs and consider the kind of acceptance wild lefty ideas would get there, so please save us the lecture re "intolerant lefties". also, with secular lefty people you have the advantage that nobody will ever blame you for first not recognizing and then killing the Savior -- wanna go have dinner with Mel Gibson instead?).
its just that here on MeFi "conservative" BS gets constantly blown up a lot by others, with links (example: karl and war threads -- I notice you steer clear of political/war threads, I wish you'd join us, but never mind).

I don't like "fuck off"s either here on MeFi -- wanna check how often it is you "Tory" (snicker) friends who employ those Tourettian tactics here?

so please lose the "shrill lefties" argument. you're way too smart for that.

"liberal in the classic sense of the word" and defense of My Lai or ethnic slurs don't mix, Miguel. remember that, and try to choose your buddies more wisely
posted by matteo at 1:47 AM on May 14, 2004


that's a lot of fancy words in defense of telling people to fuck off.

couldn't they have been better used as an argument against whatever offends you? if there are racial slurs here, expose them and show them to be wrong.

that would be rather more constructive than blowing a lot of hot air in support of the latest mefi lynch mob.
posted by andrew cooke at 4:31 AM on May 14, 2004


Perhaps you could respect that, Captain Bligh?

Damn you, Miguel. I was saving that for a special moment. Now all I'm left with is "Be more Ethereal and less of a Blight," but that kinda sucks.
posted by yerfatma at 4:42 AM on May 14, 2004


Yeah, just to be clear...in the context of MetaFilter, I can't imagine what a complaint about a "pro-minority" bias could be other than poorly veiled racism. Coupled with 111's repeated rants against "homo-lefties", it seems to me that such bigotry quite deserves a "fuck-off". But of course I was taking the opportunity to make the point that 111 and his ilk continually charge that in the context of MeFi they are the unfairly treated minorities—and so a complaint about MeFi's "pro-minority" bias from 111 has a certain irony to it, yes?

On preview:
"...if there are racial slurs here, expose them and show them to be wrong."—Andrew Cooke
Oh, so we have to both expose them and show them to be wrong? Are there quite a few racial slurs that are right in your world, Andrew?
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 4:45 AM on May 14, 2004


it's called explaining, ethereal bligh.

where i come from, that's what liberals do. they argue their point. they take whatever was said and show it to be wrong. then they do it again.

they do that because that's all that makes any sense. telling people to fuck off gets you nowhere.
posted by andrew cooke at 4:52 AM on May 14, 2004


also, with secular lefty people you have the advantage that nobody will ever blame you for first not recognizing and then killing the Savior -- wanna go have dinner with Mel Gibson instead?

Oh thank you, matteo, thank you so much for not not branding me as a Christ-killer! I had never realized what a lucky little Jew I was to be allowed to move about here and speak my thoughts without being stigmatized and persecuted. Thank you for reminding me I owe this extraordinary freedom entirely to those on the Left. And for bringing it up - now that you mention it, of course - since I'm sure MetaFilter conservatives secretly suspect me of poisoning the wells and drinking newborn infants' blood every Friday, but just don't have the guts to come out and say it, those sheet-wearing, cross-burning bastards! ;)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 5:03 AM on May 14, 2004


Ethereal Bligh, you've been here six weeks and have the audacity to tell much older members to fuck off?

I really don't care how many members here have said that they appreciate your contributions (in fact, up until recently, when you developed the typical "arrogant MeFi attitude", I enjoyed your thoughts as well), the last thing we need are volatile, name-calling "newbies" who are seemingly unaware of their impact upon opening the floodgates once more.

The reason why people like stavros are able to get away with such horrible rants is because, in his case, he has had a history of good comments. His behavior is wrong, but considering the good will he built though the years, the community excuses such aberations. You, on the other hand, are seemingly still on thin ice, and will be for another five months. You'd be wise to check your short temper at the door.
posted by BlueTrain at 7:39 AM on May 14, 2004


Wow, a thread turning on itself after it's done with its primary target! Whotta surprise...

The fact is, I'm a fan of MetaFilter...

See, I thought we were being a bit defensive. Too much defensiveness is not good, as it can be perceived as a chip on the shoulder...

And, with all of this talk of Walmart-esque jobs, my working class ethic has been aroused and I feel the need to assert that I have done more shit-work than everyone here put together, and I have the scars, muscle-knots, and even metal embedded under skin to prove it, as well as plenty of common sense learned the hard way.
posted by Shane at 8:53 AM on May 14, 2004


...even metal embedded under skin...
Were you part of that horrible robocop assembly line disaster? ; >

Andrew, it's been explained over and over to certain people about ethnic and other slurs and how they prevent conversation. Nothing's changed. Miguel, why defend trolls?

111 is a troll along with others. If he used "nigger" the way he uses "homo" he'd have been gone a long time ago, but it's apparently ok here to slur us gays. A gigantic mistake on Matt's part, and one i hope he'll someday rectify. Metafilter shouldn't be perpetuating the mistaken idea that it's ok to slur people of different groups, or races, or cultures--we're not freepers.
posted by amberglow at 9:09 AM on May 14, 2004


It's ok, amberglow. I like you even when I'm not listening to The Smiths.
posted by The God Complex at 9:58 AM on May 14, 2004


what convenient timing for this hateful post -- was that supposed to be cute?

TGC : >
posted by amberglow at 11:37 AM on May 14, 2004


Ethereal Bligh> I can't imagine what a complaint about a "pro-minority" bias could be other than poorly veiled racism.

I can't speak for anyone in this thread, but I can imagine what such a complaint might be about. You could be dealing with a die-hard populist. While populism is frequently used as a justification for various racist platforms it isn't necessarily a racist ideology.
posted by snarfodox at 11:44 AM on May 14, 2004


Bluetrain: Ethereal Bligh, you've been here six weeks and have the audacity to tell much older members to fuck off?

As long as his arguments are well-reasoned I dont care whether he is a newbie or not.

I agree with Ethereal Bligh. So as an older member (at least older than you Bluetrain) sign my name to them. I also wish 111 would fuck off.
posted by vacapinta at 12:18 PM on May 14, 2004


As my comment history will show, I'm not a fan of being provocative. Posting "fuck off" is almost always a mistake and rarely productive. And as my comment history will show, I spend a lot of time and effort attempting to understand, and even defend, opposition viewpoints.

But I don't think I'm going to apologize for this. 111's "pro-minority" complaint is bizarre and revealing in a way that, perhaps, he didn't intend. Even were it not, even if his complaint was intended to refer to "minorities" in the most neutral sense, then his was a complaint against tolerance of, for example, him. He was begging to be hoisted by his own petard.

And the "homo" this and "homo" that is unacceptable. That's traditionally an epithet, it's still an epithet; and it is unquestionably so in the mouth of someone who is vociferous in opposing gay rights.

There is a difference between presenting an offensive viewpoint in civil language, and presenting an offensive viewpoint, with intent to offend, in a passive-aggressive manner that provides a refuge of semi-plausible deniability. Lots of folks find the latter marginally tolerable, presumably on the principle that a false veneer of civility is preferable to no civility at all. I disagree, and strongly, because such discouse is, nevertheless, invariably yet offensive to those whom it was obviously intended to offend. It is a veiled attack that's only considered more acceptable because it's less discomfort-inducing to bystanders—not because it's less hurtful to its target. From my moral viewpoint, that's all kinds of fucked-up.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 1:20 PM on May 14, 2004


Telling 111 to fuck off is never a mistake. The guy is useless. Hell, he's worse than useless: he's a net drain on MeFi in all respects.

I also suspect he's something of a masochist.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:51 PM on May 14, 2004


"Fuck off"? What happened to calling someone a "fuckwit"?

Ah, Bligh, I remember fondly the first time I lost it and called someone a fuckwit. Unfortunately, the receiver was to RJ Reynolds, who had somehow or other called me a "heather" (which, oddly, is more likely to push me over the edge than the crudest epithet you can imagine.)

RJ and I shared a couple of e-mails and it was all over, really a misunderstanding of sorts. It was also the first time RJ had been called a fuckwit, and he was overjoyed, it being a badge of sorts, dont'cha know.

Yup. Good times.

Newbie, ol'by, what's the difference?
posted by Shane at 2:15 PM on May 14, 2004


Thank you for reminding me I owe this extraordinary freedom entirely to those on the Left.

I never did say it (even if, now that you mentioned it, I realized that it took the USA's most socialist -- and still hated for that -- President and the Soviets to stop the Holocaust together, but I'm digressing).
but feel free to change the topic and attack me. after all your buddy 111 has just scrawled anti-gay graffiti on the front page. why don't you go help him out insult gays, and taste some of his tolerance. after all, that'd allow you to escape us shrill evill commies.
have fun with 111.
posted by matteo at 2:34 PM on May 14, 2004


I also suspect he's something of a masochist.

Oh, and I hear he has a problem with...
*makes drinky-drinky gesture*
;~)
posted by squirrel at 3:08 PM on May 14, 2004


To add to the growing count up for the author of the paper:

I have lived in public housing as well. Is 18 years long enough to have public housing to gain my public housing cred? Add to that between 8 and 12 years on welfare (don't really know, because I was a child). In case matteo is interested, hot running water was very iffy after 8am, though the only time we went without running water were the months when it was shut off everyday between 9 and 5. We filled the bathtub in the morning so we could flush the toilet. I have never worked at Walmart, though I do have an aunt who worked for a distributor who can tell awful stories about the chain.

And ironically enough, I am also a graduate student, with all the social and cultural capital that kind of position brings. I don't have so much of that kind of actual capital with which you can pay rent, particularly since my overseas research grant came in at only about half of what I requested for the summer (itself not quite enough to get by). So I get to travel and see the world (or at least the reading rooms of archives around the world), but eat stale bagels for dinner.

In terms of access, he or she (sorry, the name is ambiguous) does make interesting points regarding the digital divide. There are definitely ways those with few resources cross this divide - internet access from schools or universities and public libraries being very significant ways. And there are those (myself included) who would rather skimp on furniture (May is dumpster diving month on campus) or groceries than not have access to the internet; it's not just a toy, it's my telephone, mailbox and sometimes library (but we definitely need more history journals online). However, I think the divide over who knows how to use these resources may be more important than just physical access; if you don't know how to use a computer, library access will not change that.

Understanding of content is an also an important issue of exclusion - but not exclusion based on primarily on class. How literate and how perceptive you are is not dependant on income, though this certainly helps educational attainment. It is also an issue much less fixable than class division, and if anything brings democracy down, it will be that. But the internet is actually the way I increase my literacy and understanding in subjects like science, where I have an average (sometimes less than) competency; communty weblogs are best for this, especially after the very helpful biologists or linguists come by.

Perhaps the most important message this paper should give is not about weblogs, but to those who would like to replace services with online services, leaving no access to those without internet. I am thinking of banks, companies, governments and schools who keep all of their important information online. The schools (mostly universities) could probably be excused, as they generally provide email and webaccess through labs to all students, but the others are moving in this direction without considering the effects.

As for weblogs replacing journalism - this will never happen; they rely heavily on journalism for content (newsfilter or not). They do provide good feedback regarding that journalism, but it is, of course, always biased, just as if one walked out and only asked questions on one street. And as far as its effect on democracy, the internet has created a new political public sphere where politics can be debated, rather than just consumed. (Oooh, I managed to cite Habermas. Now I just have to try rereading to see if I can understand him this time. And this should prove that the literacy level of graduate students is usually overestimated; we are just very very good at pretending that we understand what we read.)

[on preview] Blue Horse: Please do not hold a double standard for new members. It is very unpleasant, and perpetuates the feeling of elitism that this paper is all about. If a new member says something that you do not agree was appropriate, make your statement on the grounds of what they have said, and not who they are, or are not.
posted by jb at 3:49 PM on May 14, 2004


Like you, we're simply stating our sincere opinions.

Oh, come on. In this thread, Hama7's "sincere opinion" was to snicker at Stavros and add nothing else to the discussion? Miguel, that's bullshit. 111's post in this thread was an addition to it, as are the criticisms of it, but eventually he will say something that gets him flamed again, because he is at heart a troll.

Nobody attacks him, David Dark, Hama7, or anybody else for being a conservative, they attack them for saying repugnant, fallacious things. Proof? No one is attacking you for being a conservative, because you don't say repugnant, fallacious things. That I recall.

The thread descends into back-biting and rumination, as scholars look on in smug satisfaction
posted by Hildago at 4:19 PM on May 14, 2004


Miguel, as others have said, you're lying down with the wrong friends. Wipe the mud off and come inside, and I'll buy you a drink. And BlueTrain: pulling rank on newbies is the lowest form of MeFiBS. If EB is saying something wrong, call him on it. His user number has nothing to do with it.
posted by languagehat at 5:52 PM on May 14, 2004


Nobody attacks him, David Dark, Hama7, or anybody else for being a conservative, they attack them for saying repugnant, fallacious things. Proof? No one is attacking you for being a conservative, because you don't say repugnant, fallacious things.

Thank you hildago, for putting your finger on the fallacy of miguels argument.
posted by dash_slot- at 6:52 PM on May 14, 2004


pulling rank on newbies is the lowest form of MeFiBS

For anyone still paying attention to this thread, I never "pulled rank". I said:

the last thing we need are volatile, name-calling "newbies" who are seemingly unaware of their impact upon opening the floodgates once more.

Meaning that if new members become name-callers, the future of additional new members for this site may or may not become more precarious.
posted by BlueTrain at 7:28 PM on May 14, 2004


I'd always thought my aunt was very pretty. Luck and circumstance finally provided me the opportunity to take a peek up her dress. I noiselessly inserted my head underneath the fine blue brocade...

Her underneath wasn't anything like I thought it would be. I never sat on her lap again. She still looked pretty from the outside, but all those spiders living under her dress, crawling up and down her long white legs, all those black furry spiders, turning to look at me...
posted by Opus Dark at 7:54 PM on May 14, 2004


Huh. I find that sort of sexy.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 9:33 PM on May 14, 2004


Again, Opus Dark wins the thread. Thread closed. Scientists, leave your clip boards on the desk. Everyone else, I'll meet you at the secret underground effete liberal lair.
posted by Hildago at 1:19 AM on May 15, 2004


I'll bring the government cheese and two-buck Chuck!
posted by squirrel at 11:31 AM on May 15, 2004


Lou Rutigliano wrote again with more that he wanted to post to the thread, but I've been away for the weekend, and so didn't get around to it until now. Anyway--

I just wanted to add a few more things. Sorry about the long post, but I can only reply occasionally. Anyway maybe it's not up to weblogs to save democracy, but many people believe they will, and I wanted to take a closer look at that with this paper. I emphasized group weblogs because I think blogging is inevitably heading in that direction. Few individuals can sustain daily production, and have to sacrifice openness and interaction with their audience as they grow and attract larger numbers of viewers, and therefore larger numbers of trolls. They either wall themselves off from the audience (Instapundit, Talking Points Memo, Andrew Sullivan) or they adopt the group/collaborative format (Daily Kos), more or less. This paper overall was about different ways group-weblogs balance the participation they need for production with the control they need to avoid chaos. Although it's true, you don't want to confuse the medium with one instance of that medium, and you can't expect one website to do all the work, I think MetaFilter's strategy - collecting a large number of members, then closing off membership and not allowing anonymous comments - is going to lead to a particular outcome and would apply to other cases. For almost all group weblogs, it's up to the founder and the core early members to post, and these people are going to set the tone for the weblog. Considering the length of time and amount of work it takes to pull this off, I'd argue this automatically limits who can participate and who can't, and therefore the topics that are discussed. As more people join, yes the group becomes more diverse, but the weblog's personality and agenda have been defined for the most part, and there is a hierarchy left over based on tenure and the same time/money factors. So when the membership closes, I believe these trends are reinforced, and the daily agenda of the weblog - with rare exceptions - does not change. So you're going to get more Ipodfilter and less foodstampfilter. This might be fine with alot of people, who didn't sign up to save the world, but for those who do have those hopes for collaborative media, and think its format could lead to an information network for people underserved by the mainstream media, I think this is a reality to consider.
thanks,
Lou

posted by Prospero at 3:59 PM on May 16, 2004


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