A rambling comment about off topic comments June 14, 2000 5:46 AM   Subscribe

The death of MetaFilter - A rambling comment about off topic comments.
posted by y6y6y6 to Etiquette/Policy at 5:46 AM (73 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

Jeffrey - I respect you and I find your comments typically get right to the heart of the matter. But in this case I just have to disagree.

> I do think Metafilter is getting hurt here.

I think not. Let me refer you to the "about" page:

"This website exists to break down the barriers between people, to extend a weblog beyond just one person, and to foster discussion among its members."

It doesn't say, "A structured discussion of important issues with no irrelevant or off-topic postings." I will agree that excessive tom foolery (sp?) by a small group of members would be able to lower the value of this site. But please! It's just a straw, and the camel will be fine.

Maybe you want MetaFilter to be limited to discussions of the current topic. Maybe Matt should institute some sort of moderation. Or maybe you think we should just behave and "self moderate."

Maybe, but I don't see the need.

1) This stuff has been going on since I first found the site. It contributes to the content. It gives the site personality.

2) Up to this point no one has mentioned Portman or grits. This isn't mindless or malicious posts. It's members of the community having a bit of fun. Those same people spend a lot of time making relevant comments. Haven't these trouble makers also posted comments that contribute and stimulate?

3) This stuff didn't really start until well after the 40 post mark. If someone actually reads that far, I think they're a) hooked, and b) in need of some comic relief.

4) I don't have a fourth reason.

5) "Collectively we seem to be making a lot of noise." This thread is a small fraction of the content here. I think we're making a small amount of noise. As a general rule, topics here get a good amount of intelligent discussion from both sides.

If your point is, "Ha ha. Very funny guys. Just don't let it get out of hand." I guess I can agree with that.

If your point is, "You people are ruining Metafilter. Please for the love of God stop now!" I think you are over reacting.

I suspect your point lies somewhere in the middle, but maybe I'm missing it. Maybe you should explain how MetaFilter is being hurt. I just don't see that.
posted by y6y6y6 at 5:46 AM on June 14, 2000

I'm here....
It's pretty early, my vivarins haven't kicked in yet and I can't think of anything witty.... But I just wanted to let brother Jon know I'm supporting his effort in moving the discussion here.

(More when I wake up at the crack of 1 or 2PM)
posted by EricBrooksDotCom at 6:49 AM on June 14, 2000

If these overblown discussions were happening on more than a handful of threads, I'd worry. However, we only seem to be getting into this Meta-Meta-Meta BS on one thread every week or so, rarely attached to any post that has its own substance. Yes, it's fully possible that MeFi will, somewhere down the line, turn into Trolldot despite Haughey's best intentions. I think we're a long way from that, even if the site has been going downhill since it got to user #450 or so.
posted by harmful at 7:00 AM on June 14, 2000

"I think we're a long way from that, even if the site has been going downhill since it got to user #450 or so."

Damn elitists...I wouldn't worry about this turning into /., I'm worried about it turning into something like the UBBs on all the teen domains. In other words, where the domain owner and her friends have the board open and then get peeved when visitors to the domain decide they like the board and want to post too.

(I hope you're joking, seriously. I'm responding as if it was serious, but if you're joking, sorry. This similar topic has come up at a few UBBs I post to, and it's hitting close to home.)

I'm SORRY I got first post in that thread. I was working OT and I was bored. I shouldn't try posting at two boards at the same time again...
posted by Electric Elf at 7:13 AM on June 14, 2000

I think (hope) Mr. Z was perhaps commenting on the fact that MetaFilter has changed recently, but it's purely subjective as to whether that's a good or a bad thing.
Do we have to be serious *all* the time? I don't think the spirit of MeFi has been lost just yet.
There are so many more comments being posted these days, but then there would be, there are over 3 times more members than there were when I joined, I find that I actually spend less time on MetaFilter these days because there are a lot of threads which simply don't interest me, when I first came to MeFi, Matt would post a thread a day along with maybe 3 or 4 more from other people, most of which were of interest to me. These days there are sometimes as many as 15 posts in a day on a very diverse range of topics, call me narrow minded but I know the people here whose posts and comments interest or amuse me and I tend to stick to those.
I certainly don't think the increased traffic is a bad thing, there definitely is more noise than there used to be ('Yeah, me too...' type posts are soooo pointless) but the signal's still pretty strong considering the number of people around here.
You'll always find people who'll tell you it was better in the old days, what matters is what you personally get from the site, if you don't like it theres a whole big world out there to explore, theres bound to be something you like better.
posted by Markb at 7:30 AM on June 14, 2000

Well, JZ did apologize...

There was one point he made, however, that I hope he *didn't* take back... and that was the point that on Memorial Day 10 posts were made on that subject while we all ragged on about "Email styles of the rich & famous".

I have to agree. That was a *tad* disgraceful. Hopefully on "Veteran's Day" we can be on a little better behavior.

If there is a "Celeb" that I feel deserves a good trashing here on that day... it would be Jane Fonda. Too young to remember? I offer Exhibit A.
posted by EricBrooksDotCom at 7:31 AM on June 14, 2000

Where's the original thread that inspired this? I'm having difficulty understanding whose accused of disrupting MetaFilter and what they did that was so reprehensible. Personally I'm a proponent and a guilty party of Topic Drift and have been since my old BBS days. Is that all this is? How is that destroying MetaFilter? I find it is what makes it worth coming back to.
posted by ZachsMind at 7:53 AM on June 14, 2000

Oops. my bad. That would be this one. The "Kottke's a meanie" thread.
posted by y6y6y6 at 8:10 AM on June 14, 2000

Signal to noise, boys, signal to noise. All the silliness, entertaining as it may be (or not), makes reading some MeFi discussions an unbearable task.
posted by ericost at 8:12 AM on June 14, 2000

The "Kottke's a meanie" thread.

Yeah... Jason that evil bastard. How dare he use his webby-nominated clout to tell people that most web logs are fairly generic in nature. THAT WAS MY JOB!!! That prick stole my thunder, I hate him!

:0) <~~~~Note the smiley emoticon before you sissies decide to flame me back.)

Zach...how could you *possibly* miss a topic with 114 comments??!!??
posted by EricBrooksDotCom at 8:18 AM on June 14, 2000

> reading some MeFi discussions an unbearable task.

Which ones? Really.

I find that this sort of thing only crops up when the original topic was a bit silly to start with, or the thread has already been beaten into the ground. What were the topics that we ruined for you?
posted by y6y6y6 at 8:19 AM on June 14, 2000

*sigh* Of course I was joking. Clearly MetaFilter peaked at user # 454, and has been going to hell in a handbasket ever since.

And of course the Memorial Day thread didn't get as much traffic; nobody said anything that anyone else disagreed with, or wanted to offer new information on. Was everybody supposed to follow up the first comment expressing gratitude to the honored dead with a "me too" post?
posted by harmful at 8:19 AM on June 14, 2000

That's a damn good point, Harmful. I really didn't think of that. Sometimes I hit a topic, where someone expressed my opinion better than I could. So I just read 'em all & move on....
posted by EricBrooksDotCom at 8:54 AM on June 14, 2000

> What were the topics that we ruined for you?

I am tempted to agree with Zeldman's "But talking about that won't help" comment, but I will trust this conversation can be fruitful and go ahead and say my piece:

First of y6y6y6, I never said you or anybody else ruined anything. But I don't think we have to look much further than the discussion that started this thread to see the problem I am talking about. FAB4GIRL has this to say about halfway down the page:
Hey, we all know no one will read the posts this far down so let's have our own little Metafilter party! YEAH!
From there on out the thread is a mixture of thoughtful comments from people trying to discuss the issue at hand, and a bunch of clowning around from various other people. I am NOT suggesting any one intended to derail the conversation, or to belittle anyone, or to be disruptive, but all the extraneous chatter most certainly IS disruptive to someone trying to read the serious posts on the actual topic of the thread. FAB4GIRL's suggestion becomes a self fulfilling prophecy: how CAN anyone read the posts that far down on the page when there is so much directionless in-chatter? There are 1000s of people who read this site, and I believe it becomes less pleasurable and useful for the majority when a vocal minority treat it like a personal BBS.

That said, I think it is a question of moderation (self imposed of course; no one WANTS moderators). I am not asking that anyone stop cracking wise, just that we try to keep topic discussions from degenerating to the point the "boring soda" discussion did.

Thanks for listening.
posted by ericost at 11:24 AM on June 14, 2000

I got two mentions! Yes! I'm quickly becoming famous or rather infamous round these parts. :-)
posted by FAB4GIRL at 11:33 AM on June 14, 2000

And you don't even have a weblog!

BTW, is this the boys bathroom? :-)
posted by tomcosgrave at 12:04 PM on June 14, 2000

If it is, shouldn't I leave before I see something I regret? ;-)

posted by FAB4GIRL at 12:11 PM on June 14, 2000

Christ. I give up. You guys are right. People prefer fart jokes.

So ericost, what's you're solution? Something tells me self-moderation isn't going to happen. I'm fairly happy with the way things are, but I do see your point. Perhaps a policy change? Something saying that this is a forum for discussing topics relevantly, not silly banter?

Where's Matt on this issue? It's his baby.

And Sarah, if you don't have a website we can't make fun of it. Please play along.
posted by y6y6y6 at 12:24 PM on June 14, 2000

I am in the process of making a website so you can all pick on me. I thrive on criticism. I can say mine won't be like anyone elses though. Mine will be worse. ;-)
posted by FAB4GIRL at 12:30 PM on June 14, 2000

Yo Jon! What's that crap about me & Matt doing gay stuff in the boys bathroom about???

I was thinking a little toilet dunking the geeks are in order (just for old times sake, ya big lug!).

PS: Fab4Girl... you know we all love you too much to be mean to you and your website. (Just watch out for that Kottke guy!)

PPS: Wow... I think this new medication I'm on *are* placebos!
posted by EricBrooksDotCom at 1:01 PM on June 14, 2000

I actually really enjoy it when threads on MeFi, especially the ones that people are taking seriously for whatever reason, with interesting discussion and contraty opinions, go off topic, to a degree.

I get the feelings when reading threads like the one that spawned this that we're all sitting around a big-ass dining room table, at 3 in the morning in a smokey, dingy kitchen after having talked all night about the interesting stuff going on in the world around us, trying to figure out which wine glass doesn't have a cigarette butt in it.

And that's a GOOD thing. Conversation gets a little goofy at time. It eases tension, brings people closer together. Humour's one of the greatest bonding agents that we as humans have in common. Go anywhere in the world, and you can start a slapstick routine and people will laugh. It's an excellent ice breaker, and knowing that the same person you're calling an incompetant buffoon who knows nothing about the state of X in Y or what's the new Z is laughing along with you about the latest joke someone just told... it takes a lot of the sting that plain text can unintentionally carry.

I don't think I'm exagerrating when I say the vast majority of the 'regulars' have similar ideas of what's funny, what's appropriate, whatever. That's why people come here and keep coming back, because we've got something in common.

Sure, MeFi's probably changed, but it's changed into something that's more good then bad.

Just as some topics of conversation won't interest you in Real Life, neither will they online, and the great thing about being online is that you can read a thread header and say "I'm just not going there" rather then having to find some excuse to ditch your crusty old great aunt who keeps talking about how great it is since they inveted that telegraph thing.
posted by cCranium at 1:21 PM on June 14, 2000 [1 favorite]

ericost: I hear what you're saying. Though I have got to admit, I was playing "class clown" (and a few others too, admit it.) long before Sarah's "let's party" post.

Face it. How many more times were we all gonna say "Jason's remark wasn't bad at all, and Jen needs to toughen up"???? (By the way Zippygirl thought yesterday's antics were hysterical... if everyone must know.)

Tom was right... "Dead horse..enough"

This just seems to be the trend when a topic involves a high-profile person on MetaFilter... we all jump in, and get goofy after a while. When does that really happen, once every couple of weeks?

Generally, we all post our say, and get on with our lives. I don't see how we're harming anyone.

If it is... then maybe Matt can create "MetaGoofballs", or something for us, and I'll gladly post there.
posted by EricBrooksDotCom at 1:29 PM on June 14, 2000

Ah, at last I am able to respond. Unfortunately, having just gone a little nuts over on Metafilter and I'm not feeling as zany as I was. I think Jeffrey is right, as far as he went (I mean, Memorial Day means a lot to a lot of people) and so is ericost, as far as he goes. I mean, just because I felt a bit like we were not only beating, but peeling that poor dead horse and wanted to lighten the mood doesn't mean I was right.

But ultimately, that was such a long thread about such an unremarkable event that I really couldn't resist. (And Eric, the bathroom is all smoky now and I'm not really interested in giving anyone a wet willie, so if you don't mind, let's get out of there...people are beginning to talk :)

Part of the problem is that I'm a bit irreverent of the whole weblog phenomenon anyway...I mean, I keep coming back to the first weblog I ever saw. I won't say who wrote it, but he spent several posts talking about his lust for a breakfast sandwich and how he can't eat them anymore. As I have said before, it was like watching snails fornicate. I know I didn't have to read it, but you have to understand...it was hypnotic how painfully small his aspirations were. No heartfelt honesty, no funny quips, no linkage, nothing. It still puts me in mind of Proust, but even worse, because while Proust was an intermiably prolix gossip, he at least felt constrained by the format to actually write about things. It was amazing in its sheer, breathless banality.

Since then, I've never been able to take blogging too seriously. At the same time, however, as long as a blog can transcend that first one (and almost all of them do) I often leave satisfied. Today, for instance, I spent ten minutes quietly perusing ThinkDink's site and saying "This is so nice. Picture of her kid. It's so...normal." I actually got a little choked up.

Blogging is voyeuristic, and it can be pointless at times, and it is in no danger at the present time of being literature in most cases. But it's young yet. I'm content to sit back and watch to see where it goes. And as for Metafilter, I think it displays a shocking vitality. It'll be fine. Imagine trying to have this experience in real life! We all knew by post 32 that the thread was growing like Gengineered Kudzu and it was absurd. We probably shouldn't have tried so hard to make it funny, because people were trying to have their say, and if I prempted that, I apologize most sincerely.

But c'mon. Sometimes you gotta throw that bananna cream pie.
I mean, he's standing right there.
posted by Ezrael at 11:30 PM on June 14, 2000

". I won't say who wrote it, but he spent several posts talking about his lust for a breakfast sandwich and how he can't eat them anymore. As I have said before, it was like watching snails fornicate. I know I didn't have to read it, but you have to understand...it was hypnotic how painfully small his aspirations were. No heartfelt honesty, no funny quips, no linkage, nothing."

Oh no! Maybe I shouldn't continue with my weblog after all. Trust me...snails fornicating would be verrrry interesting after seeing my weblog. ;-)
posted by FAB4GIRL at 9:07 AM on June 15, 2000

Man...no offense guys an gals... but this thread sucks without someone yelling at us.

Maybe we should go beat up a 13 year old girl for some controversy?

Oh man... is hell about to break loose in my world!
posted by EricBrooksDotCom at 11:09 AM on June 15, 2000

Naah. I gotta agree, though...the lunatic glee is missing when no one's telling you to quiet down back there, 'nnit? I know! Let's all post on our weblogs how much Derek Powazek bites it and watch the flames fly!

Note to humorless types: I do not actually think Derek bites it. He's a tease; he'd never actually bite.
posted by Ezrael at 12:42 PM on June 15, 2000

He might bite. I can still daydream that he might, right?

Semi-seriously though... yeah yeah, we all know that I suffer from a major Pollyanna Complex, but I'd like to think that MeFi isn't dying or becoming something icky - it's just going thru growing pains.
posted by thinkdink at 1:13 PM on June 15, 2000

Oh no, please not Powazek! You want him to start crying again??? We'll be billed as "The Charles Rockers" of the internet.... :0)

Is it just me, or is this the "Assume the position as we stuff you in a locker" position?

I should get a weblog. Neale's Weblog Junior High needs a "Brooding loner who keeps falling into the bad crowds section"...

P.S. (though this will kill the mood) You know we love ya Derek, right?
-Smokin in the Boys Room-
posted by EricBrooksDotCom at 1:24 PM on June 15, 2000

Uhm... this is a brainfart attempt to come up with a solution... And it's understood that Matt's a busy guy. He probably couldn't take the time to do this, but it'd be cool I think. Shouldn't be too difficult for a coding god. But then I don't know C++ from my own ass. So it may not be possible.

But picture it. Let's say you're reading along in Metafilter, and you see a post that, while amusing, is off the cuff and takes the forum off-topic. You like it. You wouldn't want to see it zapped. However, you understand both sides. You understand the more conservative types who want Metafilter to be more informative and easier to navigate than Usenet, AND you understand those guys (like me, guilty as charged) who might randomly throw in a quote from Monty Python just cuz you find it amusing at the time.

MetaFilter could have a little button next to every post. A voting button if you will. If you personally think a certain post should be moved from MetaFilter to MetaTalk or something new like MetaMindlessChatter, you push the button, and a little popup appears saying "thank you. [link]close window[/link]"

Then you go about your merry way. If ten or fifteen other people who have signed on to MeFi agree with you, the post quietly gets dropped from the MeFi main thread. In it's place is a link at the bottom of the MeFi thread page inviting people to go to MetaSayWhateverTheHellYouWant which has an uncensored duplicate of the MeFi thread, including all the stuff that some people found offensive.

This way, the people who believe it's okay to censor if the end result is MeFi becomes a better world for everybody, are happy. This way, the people who don't know when to shut their big yap, are happy.

Unfortunately Matt will pull himself away from his computer with bloody stumps for hands from all the coding, but at least he'll die from extraneous injuries with the knowledge that he has managed to make everyone happy.

...or am I missing something?
posted by ZachsMind at 2:00 PM on June 15, 2000

Well, a prime example is your discussion going on about "conspiracy theories"... someone's gotta pass snide remarks about it breaking the rules...

So what? It's a damn interesting discussion! Baylink'll break the rules everyonce in a while (in fact, I just stumbled on one of his topics that he actually *did* put on MetaTalk... no one saw it... so can you blame him?)

Like Jon said above: "I'm pretty happy with the way things are right now"... so am I.

I also suspect (I can't prove this), that Mr. Haughey may actually have a life outside of MeFi... and doesn't have the time to play moderator/policeman/programmer to every bore that doesn't like the way it's going. I suspect he doesn't want to either.

Matt did a really good thing with MetaFilter, and should be proud of himself. If these people don't like what's going on, they should leave & try and build a better one. They bore the hell out of me anyway.

John Cleese rules, dude! :0)
posted by EricBrooksDotCom at 2:31 PM on June 15, 2000

I like MeFi as it is now too. However the people who want a more controlled medium for the sharing of ideas and the filtering of the Web also have a right to their opinion, and apparently they don't like how things are.

I must admit their complaints are starting to get on my nerves, just as I'm sure my tendencies towards topic drift and tolerances of the same are annoying them. I can't help but think it's purposeful trolling on their part. It's really not that big of a deal. Some people just look for some stance to take that'll ruffle other people's feathers.

But it's probably not. Some people sincerely want to see MeFi stay the way it was before the numbers of users hit like 400 or something. They think it was better back then. Some don't like change.

Fact is, it can't. The only constant in the universe is change. MeFi changed every time someone joined up. It changes every time someone logs off and never returns. Most just don't notice the change. Actually, if we scanned the archives and looked way far back, maybe there was someone complaining, "hey! There's almost a hundred people in here now! It's getting too busy! I liked it when it was just me and a dozen other people! This sucks!"

I believe there ARE forums out there which are restricted. The Well is a famous example, but I mean something on a more private scale.

Let's say you like some of the people in MetaFilter but not others. You could build a place like MetaFilter (or maybe pay Matt lots of money and beg him to make it for you) and you put a password thingie on it. Perhaps you even get a nonsensical web domain that no one would ever guess, like www.lkjsdrm.org. Something that literally means nothing and no one will accidently search for it.

Then you can carefully select who you want in this private webfilter, and swear them to secrecy. If you keep the numbers down, it wouldn't be difficult to control. There shouldn't be a problem with bringing in new blood, because your friends in the secret society would also become recruiters, and after accepting and understanding your criteria, they'd bring to your attention friends that they think would be cool for your little society.

The thing is, MeFi IS open to the public. Matthew will step in when he finds time and enforce his own desires upon it. It's his place. He put the money into it. He's the only one really who has the right to put any stipulations on what is and what is not posted. But (I assume) he wants it to largely be self-policing. He just doesn't have time to be this place's den mother.

Some people believe it's impolite to participate in topic drift. I understand where they're coming from. Other people think it's boring to militantly stick to responding to the original post and not responding to one another's responses to said post. The fact is, this place will function based on the preferences and desires of everybody participating in it. That's part of what makes this place so amazing, and something worth returning to.

If a minority doesn't like what the majority are tolerating, they do have a right to go somewhere else. They also unfortunately have the right to bitch and whine to their heart's content.
posted by ZachsMind at 4:24 PM on June 15, 2000

I'm a pretty laid back guy myself. I also try (with a minimum of effort) to be considerate to everyone here. I see a topic, I'm not interested in, or whatever... I just skip it.

Live & let live, y'know?

I just don't know what everyone's problem is. If I'm being a problem here...hey, I know where the door is. In fact, I'm considering it now.
posted by EricBrooksDotCom at 5:14 PM on June 15, 2000

As I understood it, people didn't want this place to be somewhere where just any fool would link to the front page of their new website and try to get free hits for their own personal selfishness. The intent is to find material that others may find of interest. To literally filter the web, and cut out stuff that is just a waste of people's time.

But I don't see how offtopic comments destroy the quality of the site. If anything they broaden the humanity and community of the Web. And they help make this site worth coming back to.

So don't walk, Eric. Wait until Matt hands us our coats and ushers us out the door personally. He's the only one who has the right to make that decision. Don't let these other boneheads ruin your good time.
posted by ZachsMind at 5:24 PM on June 15, 2000

Thanks. :0)
posted by EricBrooksDotCom at 5:32 PM on June 15, 2000

Regarding Zach's post linking to old re-discovered material that he wrote... I can see where he thought that would be okay, because it becomes a very wavy line between "Here is a link to something interesting for us to discuss" and "Here is a link to something I wrote, tell me what you think". I think Zach honestly just wanted to get a discussion on the issues addressed in his old writing. Maybe should have found another more timely link by someone else on the subject, as well as linking to his own material?

But I thought his link started an interesting discussion, the only one I really followed today. There are so many posts like fpatrick's link to a Salon story about neighbor sex, which gets one comment, and then nothing. In a way, a post like that could also be seen as clutter. Is the purpose of MeFi to give people cool links to follow, or to inspire discussion? If it's discussion, then isn't anything that inspires a good discussion, a good post?

That's where there's ambiguity. It's best that we all err on the side of caution because Matt is right, it's no good if everyone starts using MeFi as their personal sounding board. Yet before we all snipe down someone's neck for violating the rules, we should recognize that to some degree, every link is posted in order to get a reaction; all the posts are meant to start discussions, and to some degree, every post is the result of someone using MeFi as their own personal sounding board (about a link that they find interesting). It's not always easy to see the distinctions.

And to make a long post longer... I sure wish people would leave the policing of MeFi to Matt, who is always so direct, even-handed, tactful, and fair. That complaining post from bryanboyer seemed really rude to me-- not rude to the other posters on the thread, but rude to Matt because bryanboyer came off as trying to wield the authority over MeFi that only Matt can claim.

On (unmoderated) Usenet, "policing" fell to the self-appointed ng cops because there was no one in charge. But here on MeFi, there IS a moderator, an owner, a proprieter and resident demi-god. When you go to a restaurant and you talk too loud, your fellow diners can't command you to be quiet with "SHUT UP OR LEAVE"-- they can ask politely, and get the manager or leave themselves if you don't listen to reason. Only the owner has the real authority to come to you and say "SHUT UP OR LEAVE."

When Matt says he wants MeFi to be self-policing, I don't think he means we should police one another. I think he means we should each police ourselves and do what we know is right. It may not always happen, as Zach's slip shows, but it's a goal worth striving for. And MeFi succeeds more often than not.
posted by wiremommy at 5:59 PM on June 15, 2000

Wiremommy is right...and also strangely soothing. :) (Sorry, I'm just remembering the MST3K where Crow was given a choice between a Slurpee Machine and a Wire Doctor Forrester.)

And Eric, c'mon, man, don't leave now! We were just beginning to assemble a coalition of like-minded pack predators, wandering the electronic corridors of MeFi and scaring people into giving us their...well, not their lunch money...okay, so I need to work on the concept, but you gotta stick around!

It's be much less fun for me without you, honestly. All these serious topics (including myself, when I get overly stressed or serious) require the occassional anarchic aside. It's what leavens everything.
posted by Ezrael at 8:00 PM on June 15, 2000

Nah dude... I'm not going anywhere. :0) You guys are too cool. I just said "considering it", I don't want to be a cause of Matt popping Alka Selter (besides that's what Yahoo Clubs are for).

Wiremommy: Your post is off-topic. The topic here is not about Zach's post, but about being off-topic. We can't allow people to go off-topic about the topic of being off-topic.

I'm only kidding...come on back. You're right on the money about the self-policing.... :0)

Generally we're all pretty good kids, just a little misunderstood. Matt's right about the self-linking, but it's been done before (By that awful Mr. Kottke of all people!), and he would have cheerfully let it slide, if people didn't make such a fuss back there. Don't do it again Zach.... Or else you can join Baylink in detention!!!!

posted by EricBrooksDotCom at 8:39 PM on June 15, 2000

If Matt doesn't have a problem, there is no problem. Matt hasn't commented, therefore it looks like there is no problem.

Eddie Haskell, I mean Eric, when i was kvetching, it was not about the pie-throwing, it was about the endless recapitulation of the same three ideas over and over and over again in that thread that wouldn't die. But it wasn't my place to say a damn thing about it. I did apologize and I do again.

I think the pie-throwers and I were both responding to the same thing, each in our own ways.

When I get fed up, I try to act all reasonable and grownup and shit, in the foolish hope that others will listen. I should not do this. It's a character defect. But it's what I do.

When you get fed up, you throw pies. I love some of that - I dig Crazy Uncle Joe and others who pull the rug out.

I think I try to REASON with pomposity and you guys try to kick it in the pants. Maybe we're both wrong. "Live and let live" means live and let live.

But you know what? All this meta talk is meta annoying. That's what I meant when I said "talking about it won't help," and that's why I avoided this room.

I was in a closed community (like the Well; not the Well) that I thought was pretty open. I didn't know the rules. They weren't posted. Sometimes me and some others would get silly. Sometimes we would get emotional and personal. Neither was appreciated by the founder of that community. He wanted serious, on-topic conversation. That was his right. He set up the community. Unfortunately, he didn't post the rules, and when he felt they were being broken, he didn't speak up for quite a while. Probably he was afraid of hurting our feelings, and he hoped our off-topic stuff would just go away.

It didn't. Eventually he spoke. Several people, including me, were shocked to learn that we had been upsetting the community's founder for a long time. Everyone had hurt feelings. The community fell apart for a while. I think it is together again, and doing well, though I no longer participate in it.

Policing works if the rules are spelled out up front, and one person does the policing - and does it consistently, regardless of the personalities involved.

Matt is a low-key guy and I think his approach has been working and will continue to work.

The point about posts that don't start discussions was very well made. That is clutter, too.

But I don't think anyone posts intending to create clutter. Nobody says to themselves, "here's a topic that won't start a discussion." I think every poster hopes their topic will start a conversation.

I almost never start conversations here. I prefer to drop in. But if I did start conversations here, I would probably refrain on a busy day when there already 20 dead-end non-starter topics on the board. But now I sound all parental again. Shit.

I think I should adopt some kids or something.
posted by Zeldman at 12:45 AM on June 16, 2000

This may be ad hominem, but whatever. Online communities go off the boil, no matter what. But on a couple of previous occasions, when something has gone badly wrong, and the character of a community changes drastically and irreparably... well, Zach has been spotted leaving the scene.

So. This time, I may just avoid the carnage.
posted by holgate at 5:37 AM on June 16, 2000

I don't think I can agree with the idea that the number of replies should be used as an indicator of a thread's value.

The thread that started this wasn't (IMHO) worth getting worked up over, but many important topics don't get more than a few comments.


If MetaFilter supported sub-threads, a lot of this would go away. But I understand that would be a major rewrite. I just wrote something like this in PHP/MySQL. I'll contribute the code if Matt wants it.


I don't like the idea of everyone moderating everyone else's posts. Slashdot is a good example of this not working. The quality of discussion is higher here than it is there.
posted by y6y6y6 at 7:05 AM on June 16, 2000

About starting discussions: some stuff I post, just because I find it interesting to read, but not necessarily much to talk about. At least here, rather than at my blog, I know that a few people will actually read it, whether they comment on it or not. Also, I find that what interests me about something I link to is generally not interesting to other people. But I enjoy seeing what other people pick up on.

posted by elgoose at 7:32 AM on June 16, 2000

Well, I think we covered most of the basics here...

I'll recap:
1) The population here has tripled, there's a lot more posts....
2) Matt's a cool guy who doen't want to turn this into a police state... and neither do we.
3) Jon's Chicken Cordon Bleu is a bit dry. My wife's was better.
4) A little levity here is okay... but let's not go overboard
5) Some topics are interesting to some...some aren't. But every topic is interesting to somebody, and they all count.

Well, let me throw a few more in the ring...

Anyone who knows me ("oh God it's all about Him again") knows I'm an obnoxious s.o.b. that can easily go out of control here, if no one keeps me in check... I will try my best to curb the urge to post a comment with each new post. I need your help folks... please. Believe me, it's not "trolling for page hits" with me. In fact, you bastards have caused my flimsy counter script to crash on several occasions. I'd like you all to stop that! Please.

Zeldman, I say this with all the love in my heart.... please stop apologizing for trying to maintain some sanity here. I think you see yourself as a "bad guy" here. You'ree not. I'm sure you hate being the heavy and the voice of reason in these cases...but Metafilter is as much yours as it is Baylink's as it is Matt's as it is even bryanboyer's.... You have every right to vent. We're all in this together, and I thing the mesh of personalities make MetaFilter the incredibly cool thing that it is.

Personally I kinda mark the "teacher walking in to the class catching us throwing airplanes" posts as the highlight of my day... but it goes without saying, that you're more than welcome to sit in the back with us and toss an airplane or too every once in a while... I bet your loosleaf has plenty of paper just itching to fly free... :0)

Next topic: Uhh.... there is another topic brewing just under the surface, and for the first time in my life, I'm actually afraid to open "Pandora's Box".

F*ck it.. I'm just gonna say it: What's with the fascination with "Web Celebs" (aka "The Web Elite")here? Why do we all worship them? Why do we all hate them?

I want this out in the open and settled. I worked out my issues and will post my thoughts when everyone's done. And none of that pussy/anonymous "cardboard" shit... got something to say... say it now....
posted by EricBrooksDotCom at 9:33 AM on June 16, 2000

JZ: You can play Bud to my Lou any time. :)
posted by CrazyUncleJoe at 10:25 AM on June 16, 2000

1) Deep fried chicken stuffed with a 1/4 pound of butter will never be "dry." What? You want a 1/2 pound of butter?

2) It might be a good idea to keep things in context when we talk about "Web Celebs." I have many friends who are totally immersed in the Internet who've never heard of Zeldman, Kottke, etc.

3) I LOVE MetaFilter. This site kicks ass! Why are we talking about changes? It works. We come back everyday. It rocks.
posted by y6y6y6 at 12:31 PM on June 16, 2000

Who's Kottke?
posted by Zeldman at 4:43 PM on June 16, 2000

(Dodging Zeldman's airplane by inches) HAHAHAHAHA!!!!
posted by EricBrooksDotCom at 5:05 PM on June 16, 2000

And Eris sat back, and she was pleased. Gotta say, I agree with 3) above. I love it, too, and if I didn't, I could always go and do something else. It's not like I don't have things I'm supposed to be doing.
posted by Ezrael at 8:10 PM on June 16, 2000

Personally, I think Slashdot's moderation system works for reading messages but not for participating in discussions. If you only read the 3-or-higher messages in a topic, you often find useful information, especially if it's a technical subject rather than a religious one. I don't post there any more for the same reason I gave up on Usenet years ago -- too much, too loud, and too stupid.
posted by rcade at 12:17 AM on June 17, 2000

Try reading Slashdot at -1 sometimes. A lot of the stuff that gets filtered out is highly entertaining. One of my favorites? A totally stupid bit embedded in an otherwise dry and tiresome discussion:

"When will a book come out that will advice me how to best admin putting hot grits down my pants?" - Rating: 'Offtopic'

Is this childish? Yes. Is "hurting" Slashdot? Nope.
posted by y6y6y6 at 8:45 AM on June 17, 2000

Anybody still reading this?

I have a minor announcement to make.... Baylink, Barbelith, Ezrael & the Webmistress can all start laughing your asses off now as Hell officially freezes over. Yep... no one cares about "WHUZZUP® the update page", so how does "WHUZZUP® the weblog" grab ya?

Hey, people consider Zeldman's Daily Report a weblog...

If anyone here sees anything particularly offensive, please don't take it personal...they're just my inner thoughts and how I truly feel, okay?

No promises, ThinkDink, but I'll try my best. :0)

HOLEE JEEZUS FUCK!!!!... I'm reading my back-posts, and I tought my rants get me in trouble!

posted by EricBrooksDotCom at 2:38 PM on June 17, 2000

Oh sweet festering balls of Jesus, we're all going to die.
posted by Ezrael at 8:47 PM on June 17, 2000

Hey pal! I even plugged you this weekend! :0)

Wow... so did Jon.
Dammit, you're more popular than me... Waaaaaaah!!!!
posted by EricBrooksDotCom at 9:30 PM on June 17, 2000

Oh, being new to this weblog scene.... I forgot to mention. This hot chick wrote and offered me some "Linky Love"... so I gave her my ICQ#.

I've been sitting here for three hours waiting for her to show up, what's up with that? Is every girl on the web a tease?????
posted by EricBrooksDotCom at 9:33 PM on June 17, 2000

Eric, I may be more popular than you, but of the two of us, you are much more the man, and we all know it. Nobody ever offers me "linky love"...
posted by Ezrael at 9:37 PM on June 17, 2000

I'm gonna be Uncle Joe's "Quote of the Day" if it kills me.

Of course, It would probably help if we were able (Matt) to link each individual quote (Matt) down here in the dungeons of MetaTalk (Matt).

Don't worry Brother Ezrael, I won't fall for *that* "Linky Love" hoax again... damn teaser. (I'll still stay on ICQ for another couple of hours just in case)
posted by EricBrooksDotCom at 9:53 PM on June 17, 2000

Okay. We seem to have run out of options.

The "are off topic posts evil?" thread has now gone totally off topic. Where the fuck do we move this now?

Perhaps we need a "MetaBabble" site that could be a home for this little mutual admiration wankfest.

(And silly fuck that I am, I will now start coding it.)
posted by y6y6y6 at 1:25 PM on June 18, 2000

>I'm worried about it turning into something like the UBBs on all the teen domains.

WTF's an UBB? I've been online since the Apple ][ and I dunno what an UBB is. Of course, I'm a sheltered child...
posted by aaron at 2:39 PM on June 18, 2000

UBB= Ultimate Bulletin Board
posted by EricBrooksDotCom at 9:14 PM on June 18, 2000

Yeah I give up here too. Only four people willing to admit Web Celebs suck on the other post....

Let's go back upstairs and tear shit up....
posted by EricBrooksDotCom at 9:17 PM on June 18, 2000

Eric.... Ummm.... I'm at a loss for words here. Talk to your doctor about dosage or something. I'm laughing. But dude.... I'm just sayin'......
posted by y6y6y6 at 10:32 PM on June 18, 2000

Hee hee! I know...

How many more times do I have to hear caffiene pills and ritalin counteract each other????

Let's go back up and hear more of Murray's marital problems....
posted by EricBrooksDotCom at 11:41 PM on June 18, 2000

Aww, I'm feeling mushy. I love you guys. You make me giggle.
posted by thinkdink at 11:36 AM on June 19, 2000

And we love you right back, Dink! :0)
posted by EricBrooksDotCom at 11:56 AM on June 19, 2000

So much love..... aaahhhhh..... peaceful...... happy.....

Almost as good as air conditioning. And cheaper!!!
posted by y6y6y6 at 5:29 PM on June 19, 2000

I know where you live, Eric...
posted by GrahamVM at 12:13 AM on June 21, 2000

Hee hee... and I bet you'd never thought I'd come back and read that, didja????? ;0)
posted by EricBrooksDotCom at 11:53 PM on June 21, 2000

> Oh sweet festering balls of Jesus, we're all going to die.

I cannot even get to the end of that sentence aloud without losing it. Completely. I love it.

The Linky Love is from Susan at Flowerhead.

And I see that it's time for Matt to add a 'Kiboze' feature to MetaTalk; I had no *idea* I was mentioned here.
posted by baylink at 9:14 PM on June 23, 2000

*heavy sigh*

It's possible it's safe to post here now, because after all that above there's only two kindsa people still returning to this thread. People with a sense of humor, and people seriously concerned about going off topic in the replies to MeFi posts. And those are the two kindsa people I want to communicate with.

Ever been to a party?

Imagine a party where there's an infinite number of rooms. In fact every time someone changes the subject, a new room is magically created.

Thing is, when you change the subject, you have to get up off your ass, and walk into that new room, and then you and your friends continue that new subject until someone in the group changes the subject. Then you have to get out of the chairs in that room, and go into the new room that just opened up and sit down.

Pretty soon you realize you're getting a lot of exercise, but not very much talking done. In fact the talk deteriorates into, "where were we? What were we talking about just now? You remember?"

Really. Honestly. I'm very serious. The next time you find yourself sitting with a bunch of friends over drinks at a bar or restaurant or maybe you're kicking back in a friend's living room and having a few beers. Maybe you're all passing a reefer or doobie or whatever it is you kids call it nowadays..

Next time you're with a bunch of people just shooting the shit, try to pay attention to HOW MANY TIMES the subject of a given conversation changes in the course of say.. just ten minutes. Imagine if you had to literally move to a different location every time you wanted to change the subject. And how many of your friends would go, "no. y'all go ahead. I like it in this room. I'll catch up with ya later." Until no one's left.

Trying to police a conversation kills it faster than anything. Conversation is not a scientific methodology that you can control. It is an artistic freeform intangible creation comprised of the ideas and concepts and whimsy of everyone involved. It's the ultimate in improvisational theater, and you're entertaining each other. Online or offline, talk is a mustang; wild and untamable.

You guys don't want topic drift? *shrug* Then you don't wanna talk. You wanna either make speeches or listen to speeches on specific subject matter, but if you're not into topic drift, you're not into literally talking to each other.

Topic drift is an inseparable part of interactive communication.
posted by ZachsMind at 4:39 AM on June 24, 2000

I just can't believe people are fighting about this. It's all good. The off-topic stuff is good. The silly stuff is good. The serious stuff is good. What a fun place. We have so much good stuff. Yahoo!
posted by y6y6y6 at 4:33 PM on June 24, 2000

You guys don't want topic drift? *shrug* Then you don't wanna talk.

The only way to continue a conversation without it drifting, is to say "Yes" No" or "I agree". Nothing more; otherwise while using an example or anecdote to reinforce your point, you will run the risk of someone picking up a piece of that example, and taking it off into a new direction. Probably with bad spelling too.

Speaking of which, while the hell do I still botch up posts with misspellings or added words that I forgot to delete when I changed my mind????
posted by EricBrooksDotCom at 5:54 AM on June 25, 2000

See what I mean?
posted by EricBrooksDotCom at 5:56 AM on June 25, 2000

I would like to state at this time that I am in fact made, entirely of wood.
posted by ZachsMind at 10:01 PM on July 6, 2000

This is an experiment in Google skewering.



posted by Neale at 10:01 AM on December 8, 2001

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