Was I a jerk in this thread? August 28, 2005 4:27 PM   Subscribe

I wouldn't have thought this needed any discussion, but after a few emails and a lecture from my father, I'll open it up. In this thread I left some info for others, and upon receiving a "I don't think it's accurate" message, corrected them rather snidely. (The lead-in comments are the two immediately prior.)

The question is:
Given the offense (not checking facts before posting), did I come down too tough? Is this an effective way to get people to start thinking before posting, or is this just going to be seen as obnoxious and arrogant?
posted by mystyk to Etiquette/Policy at 4:27 PM (51 comments total)

I look at this as a chance for constructive criticism, especially since a similar thing happened to me when I was a newbie and it prompted me to be slightly more careful with my posting. I suppose it could be considered in the spirit of the recent flood of MeTa posts on the etiquette/policy topic.
posted by mystyk at 4:27 PM on August 28, 2005

Looked fine to me, though you were a bit tough on the kid, but he was wrong. Next time try to be a little nicer when you correct people with facts.

Also -- side issue - that was one of the "fun" DoIt! posts, and it's still about the war. Sheesh.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 4:31 PM on August 28, 2005

I read the whole thread and didn't understand any of it.

Therefore, I declare you, mystyk, the Supreme Ruler of the thread, and award you one million bonus points, to be redeemed at any S&H Green StampĀ® outlet in the continental United States*.

*Taxes not included.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 4:39 PM on August 28, 2005

No. Yes; a little, but it's okay.

posted by Kwantsar at 4:49 PM on August 28, 2005

Your father lectured you about a comment you made on MetaFilter?
posted by iconomy at 4:53 PM on August 28, 2005

Iconomy, yep. He did. I got him hooked over a year ago. I had been watching for about a year before that, but hadn't coughed up my $5 until just over 8 months ago. Every few days he calls and often he'll ask an opinion about something on the Blue during our conversation. To the best of my knowledge, he isn't a member, but he certainly takes an interest.
posted by mystyk at 4:59 PM on August 28, 2005

Sorry, but I'm going to come down on the side of you being an asshole. MSN raised some legitimate concerns about the accuracy of your info, and you took it as a challenge to the size of your wang.
posted by cillit bang at 5:07 PM on August 28, 2005

If your father isn't a regular poster, he doesn't understand the Metafilter dynamic. I don't think you did anything wrong. Being arrogant and obnoxious is part of what's fun about being on Metafilter. If the place became all huggy-bunny smooshy wooshy love, I'd kill myself.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:09 PM on August 28, 2005 [1 favorite]

I don't think that exchange rises to the level of some of the flamewars seen on MeFi (which by overall internet standards are still pretty tame), but think about what you are trying to accomplish and what you would do if the shoe were on the other foot. If the person you are correcting is a generally reasonable sort who made an honest mistake, then they will be much more willing to listen to you and consider that you might be right if you are nice about it. On the other hand, there are some people who are just cruisin' for a bruisin' out there and is fun to watch a few sparks fly every now and then. Of course, best of all is when the person doing the snarky correcting is wrong and ends up with egg on their face (whether they admit it or not). In any event, I wouldn't lose any sleep over it; it's all just electrons lighting up a screen in the long run.
posted by TedW at 5:20 PM on August 28, 2005

I'm afraid it is obnoxious and arrogant, sorry man.

Specifically, he said:
The 1LT who has been emailing and posting has sometimes gives out his personal email address @centcom.mil. It does not match the info you link to so I think you have the wrong guy. Also your guy is in the pao of medical services branch and is not located at centcom headquaters in Tampa Fla.

The part about the email addresses that MonkeySaltedNuts got wrong was preceded by "I think". We still don't know where the guy actually is, and you are making assumptions about that.

So, like I said, at the top... (All this is on a very cursory read - no research. So, by all means smack me down and look like a you know what again.)
posted by Chuckles at 5:34 PM on August 28, 2005

Perhaps you are familiar with the old army phrase "do pushups". Which means more than one, which isn't too many; and then move on. NBD.
posted by buzzman at 5:43 PM on August 28, 2005

Your info was great, and I hope you continue to provide that degree of detail. However, it probably could have done without the "Time to learn a little lesson." at the start and the "Moral of the story, do proper detective work of your own before you denounce someone else's. My information pans out, and I use it to allow others more adventurous to go further. You took a wild guess based on incorrect assumptions and a lack of analysis as to what is presented before you." at the end.
posted by Bugbread at 6:32 PM on August 28, 2005

It seems like that response could have been phrased quite a bit differently, and be about 3 sentences long. For instance, "Army personnel often have more than one address; I, for instance have 3. If he's assigned to centcom he'd have a centcom address and an AKO address (which every member has). The MS following his name stands for Med Service."

I can see no real reason for the whole "Time to learn a lesson...Moral of the story..." business; if this person had belonged to any organization other than the army it seems to me that the divergence in facts MonkeySaltedNuts posted would really strongly have suggested that you had picked out the wrong person.
posted by advil at 6:34 PM on August 28, 2005

Ditto advil, basically.
MonkeySaltedNuts: "... so I think you have the wrong guy..." didn't really deserve this sort of smackdown. (Not) MonkeySaltedNuts: "...so you're an idiot..." perhaps would've.

MeTa is beginning to remind me of AskMe -- you never know what sort of callout you're going to see!
posted by Aknaton at 6:47 PM on August 28, 2005

ThePinkSuperhero writes "If your father isn't a regular poster, he doesn't understand the Metafilter dynamic. I don't think you did anything wrong. Being arrogant and obnoxious is part of what's fun about being on Metafilter."

I beg to differ. I read Metafilter for a year before I got an account. I rarely post, and comment slightly more, and generally only when I have something worthwhile to add. I understand the dynamic very well, and that dynamic could use some improvement. Specifically in the arrogant and obnoxious department. It's as unattractive in cyberspace as it is in real life and we could use less of it. Metafilter should be a place to share, not bicker.
posted by Roger Dodger at 7:09 PM on August 28, 2005

disclaimer: I am not mystyk's father.
posted by Roger Dodger at 7:13 PM on August 28, 2005

The thread isn't closed, why not just post a little "That was harsh, sorry" semi-apology?

Damn, if my dad read MeFi that would fuck my shit right up.
posted by nicwolff at 7:21 PM on August 28, 2005

My father called me and told me this thread sucks.
posted by euphorb at 7:32 PM on August 28, 2005

I try to get my mom to read Mefi but she says she's too busy with the SA forums.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 7:50 PM on August 28, 2005

I've seen a lot worse. That said, there's still room for improvement in the areas bugbread discusses. The thread is still open, if you think you were overly harsh, why not just say so there?

[ever since my Mom started following my sister around craigslist, I worry she'll find me here]
posted by jessamyn at 7:54 PM on August 28, 2005

Thanks, everyone, for the brutal honesty. I've amended the thread.
posted by mystyk at 8:23 PM on August 28, 2005

I think the fact that this has been on your mind for some time, that you talked with your father about it, that you asked for the community's critique/guidance on such a matter, that you actually listened to the advice and finally made amends in the thread puts you heads above most of the users around here in terms of civility, previous outburst notwithstanding. Were that we all so self-policing.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 9:21 PM on August 28, 2005

What Civil_Disobedient said.
[If mother is anything like daughter then Jessamyn, yes she'll easily find you, particularly if someone else asks her where you are and I've got a feeling she'd be quite proud of what she found.]
posted by peacay at 9:54 PM on August 28, 2005

Actually I think you've still missed the point. The composition of your final comment "This is proof that in a community like this, it can be just as important to check your facts as to check your tone", indicates that you still think that the other poster was the one in the wrong.
posted by wilful at 10:22 PM on August 28, 2005

On the other hand, although the AKO info you listed is not classified per se, it does fall into the SBU category, Sensitive But Unclassified. I would be vary careful about listing information that is not open to the general public. It isn't. You need an AKO account to get that info for a reason.
posted by Dagobert at 11:12 PM on August 28, 2005

Who's your daddy?
posted by loquacious at 3:21 AM on August 29, 2005

It didn't seem all that harsh, but maybe I'm jaded. Nice apology in thread...this MeTa. You've done your penance.
posted by OmieWise at 4:40 AM on August 29, 2005

It didn't seem all that harsh

Not if it was deserved -- if MonkeySaltedNuts had been nasty to him, he would have deserved that kind of smackdown. As it was, MSN was quite meek and tentative and didn't deserve it. (Unless you think nasty smackdowns should be handed out at random, just to keep the asshat quotient up.) But I'm impressed with mystyk's willingness to ask and amend. Well done.

wilful, I thought the same thing at first, but then I realize mystyk probably meant just the reverse, that tone could be as important as facts. I've seen people make that phrasing mistake many times.
posted by languagehat at 6:18 AM on August 29, 2005

As others have said, you were a bit heavy-handed, but it's splendid that you're worrying about it and making amends rather than wandering off to snipe away in other threads.

(And father's are the bane of internet life - mine is constantly leaving comments on my site telling me I should get a life. He may have a point at times, but still...)
posted by jack_mo at 6:48 AM on August 29, 2005

[wishes her father was still on the internet]
posted by JanetLand at 7:04 AM on August 29, 2005

My dad reads Metafilter. Has an account too.
posted by danb at 9:11 AM on August 29, 2005

Being arrogant and obnoxious is part of what's fun about being on Metafilter.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:09 PM PST on August 28

Hmm. I'd be interested to hear more about this theory. My experience and what has been said to me suggests otherwise.

As for the question at hand, I think it was ridiculously overboard and undeserving. There is no reason to be so rude. If people weren't so emotionally invested in their politics, then they wouldn't have to make everything so personal and wouldn't have to take every challenge as a personal affront.
posted by dios at 9:12 AM on August 29, 2005

Actually, compared to the way lot of people talk around here mystyk's was a rather mild smackdown. Consider too that the issue was a matter of fact, where one can be proven right or wrong, rather than a difference of opinion or interpretation that is a bit more subjective. I still think it was disproportionate, that something like "no you're wrong, this is how I know what I'm talking about and this is what the real facts are" would have been better, but mystyk didn't call him a dumbass or a Democrat or say anything that should make even the average Mefite think he'd just put a price on MSN's head. (mystyk, is your father an old-fashioned Quaker or something that emphasises politeness and kindness way more than most people?)

So I think an in-thread apology -- "sorry, that was too harsh, sometimes I over-react when I feel my competence has been impugned" -- would have sufficed.

Now this thread here, yet another self-callout, is overkill; it strikes me as blatant attention- grabbing a la Mayor Curley and ParisParamus. In fact, were I a little less inclined to mind my manners at the moment I'd say threads like this are self-absorbed drama-queenery. (And I know from "self-absorbed".) As I might put it if I felt like it, 'one can say "spank me daddy I've been bad" without a soapbox and a bullhorn.' But since I'm in the mood to be a tad more circumspect -- or at least circumlocatory -- I won't add those "nasty" elaborations, and will content myself with 'An in-thread apology would have sufficed.'

[So how'm I doin'? Is this "nice" enough for y'all quasi-liberal pseudo-heathers?]


On preview: dios, you crack me up sometimes. Take a metaphorical look in a mirror.
posted by davy at 9:16 AM on August 29, 2005

Being arrogant and obnoxious is part of what's fun about being on Metafilter.

Please be joking. It's not fun at all for those who aren't.
posted by klarck at 9:28 AM on August 29, 2005

davy, I'm sorry you feel that way about the nature of this thread, although given the circumstances it isn't a stretch to see how one might reach that conclusion. As I had mentioned, I didn't even give my initial comments a second thought until a few emails came in, and it wasn't a strong consideration until my father piped in. In fact, when the comment immediately after my smackdown came in, I saw it and laughed. I was happy at that moment. Once I was questioning myself, however, I find it natural to search for other opinions and this thread was born. The issue was MeFi related (I didn't ask for comments on morality of cheating taxes, did I? No, it was about the harshness of a comment on this site.) and since I enjoy this community I felt this was the most appropriate place to ask.

As for your query into my father, no he is not a quaker. Quite the opposite, as he routinely calls me for tech-suppory on new gadgets like his blackberry phone. He is, in fact, a corporate lawyer (litigation and bankruptcies only) and is very careful with his language.
posted by mystyk at 9:48 AM on August 29, 2005

mystyk, I agree that if one must start a thread on any of Matt's sites about one's behavior on Metafilter, Metatalk is the place to do it. I also understand and condone questioning oneself and searching for new opinions. I will say however that the most modest thing to say about one's self is nothing at all, and "Look at me being humble!" is not very. (One looking for my definition of "humble" might begin by excluding most of what I do around here.)

As self-callouts go yours go yours ain't so bad. It's just that I find the itself technique vain in an underhanded way, compounded by the cute lead-in about being lectured by your father. Blatant self-dramatization is for livejournal or usenet; Metatalk is for dramaqueeny overkill on somebody else's alleged faults and sins, such as all those callouts of poor ParisParamus.

(Of the three self-callouts I've seen here recently I prefer Mayor Curley's: it's silly but sassy too, with notes of cherry and plum behind the barny aroma.)
posted by davy at 10:26 AM on August 29, 2005

[I] corrected them rather snidely ... Is this an effective way to get people to start thinking before posting?

I am STUNNED that anyone would think this way. I'm not calling you stupid. It's just so different from my mindset that I'm having trouble understanding it -- that it could even be a question for you.

I try to always be kind to people, but like everyone else, I sometimes fail. Sometimes I am snide. When I am, I generally realize (sometimes after the fact) that acted this way for self-gratification. To deal with my frustration. I might even think the other guy "deserved it," in the sense that since (in my view) he acted wrongly, he should now be punished for it.

But I would NEVER consider chastisement an effective form of modifying someone's behavior for the better.

Of course, different people are motivated by different things. I'm sure SOME people do change their (bad) behavior if they get yelled at, sneered at, or scoffed. But in my experience (as a adult educator, theatre director, former child-care worker, and as a 40-year-old human) they are the exception, not the rule. Most people close down when they are confronted in a negative way -- or they lash out or rebel.

So when I act snide, I know it's to make myself feel good. I don't kid myself that it is somehow teaching someone else a meaningful lesson.
posted by grumblebee at 10:46 AM on August 29, 2005

I thought your comment was fine, but, then, I'm obnoxious and arrogant.
posted by Zed_Lopez at 11:08 AM on August 29, 2005

I'm with mr_crash_davis. I tried to read that thread but after about the third post I realised I had no clue at all what people were banging on about. My dad called me and said this was to be expected, so I said, "Maybe for you, but you're a senile old get". He replied, "And your point is?" I think I get my sense of humour from him. Or maybe it's my lovely brown eyes. I can never remember. I wish nurse would bring the tea and scones.
posted by Decani at 12:13 PM on August 29, 2005

Quakers are not anti-technology.
posted by spaghetti at 5:02 PM on August 29, 2005

mystyk : "As for your query into my father, no he is not a quaker. Quite the opposite, as he routinely calls me for tech-suppory on new gadgets like his blackberry phone."

My father is not a Christian. Quite the opposite, he often eats ice-cream.
posted by Bugbread at 6:08 PM on August 29, 2005

Oops. sorry. I had always heard of quakers, a.k.a "The Society of Friends" as being homely, and while not specifically anti-technology, not really for technology either. Keep in mind, I'm not saying it's analogous to the Pennsylvania Dutch, but just that they don't embrace technology for technology's sake. Looking through some quick online resources, it says that many tend to be as described above, but it is not significant enough to be characteristic of the group as a whole. It was a mis-understanding of the word. (I suppose somewhere back in my brain I probably was drawing a comparison with the Penn. Dutch)
posted by mystyk at 6:43 PM on August 29, 2005

Thank you, spaghetti and bugbread. That comment both baffled and amused me. I had a confused mental image of Vietnam-era Quaker draftees going to jail because of their anti-transistor beliefs. (I hope you realize that the two of you represent the Atkins Diet ideal.)

mystyk: Please read grumblebee's post, carefully and repeatedly. In the online world, putting the smackdown on someone is infinitely more fun than trying to be tactful and generous. When the facts are on your side and you can proclaim rightness without fear of contradiction, or confrontation with confusing and slippery humans -- it's hard not to push it for all it's worth, because we all know that in real life, you'll never have such a clear field.

Even so, it's worth the effort to overcome those impulses and choose to not attack with pixels bared. Because you're human (and deeply non-binary), you have to make that choice again and again and again, and you fuck up sometimes. Maybe often. Apologize, try to do better, go on.

Oddly enough, this exercise confers benefits in the real world.

And now I'm off to a tasty dinner of pasta in long, thick strands, dressed in olive oil thickened with breadcrumbs, with a topping of cranky sauteed bees and unspecified bugs. Yummy!
posted by vetiver at 7:25 PM on August 29, 2005

Why would you use breadcrumbs with pasta in the same dish? You like some bread with your bread?

For a sauce I like a crunchy peanut butter thinned with hot water, with garlic and spices to taste.
posted by davy at 9:02 PM on August 29, 2005

The breadcrumbs soak up the bee venom.
posted by Bugbread at 9:15 PM on August 29, 2005

Oh and as for Quakers: I was thinking picturing them as pacifist, polite but informal (they used to call one another "thee" way past when everybody else quit), valuing honesty and integrity, and striving to be forthright without giving offense. That probably changed bigtime around the time Nixon entered politics, but I did meet a few older Friends who considered that the ideal. (As opposed to meanyheads like me, y'know; I'm not willing to put that much effort into not giving offense.)
posted by davy at 9:16 PM on August 29, 2005

The pasta would soak up the bee venom.

(You guys are kidding about the bees, right?)
posted by davy at 9:18 PM on August 29, 2005

davy : "(You guys are kidding about the bees, right?)"

Yeah. But not about the unspecified bugs.
posted by Bugbread at 9:28 PM on August 29, 2005

Toasted breadcrumbs on pasta are traditional, bees are the new thing. It's good.
posted by spaghetti at 4:31 AM on August 30, 2005


When I first read MonkeyNuts' reply to your post, I read it as a kind of obnoxious, finger-pointy smug kind of post, like "nyuh! You're wrong!"

When one corrects another in writing, in public, one best have the facts straight, indeed.

When I took the time and read his post slowly, I saw less attitude in the tone. I imagine you read it quickly and shot off a reply quickly -- one good way to check your head is to copy the text you're replying to into another text editing window, such as an e-mail message or a Mac Post-it or what-have-you, and open a second text window to write in, where you can see what you're replying to the whole time.

Pasting back in generally is a memory jog for me to re-read; plus I don't lose shit to browser crashes, which happened earlier to day on a different site (and Firefox was supposed to be an improvement over Safari).

/pasting away:
posted by tarintowers at 5:56 AM on August 30, 2005

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