AskMe gets Gore-y September 6, 2005 7:46 PM   Subscribe

Is it necessary to politicize Ask Metafilter? [More inside.]
posted by davy to Etiquette/Policy at 7:46 PM (31 comments total)

As if the AskMe question wasn't political enough? WTF?
posted by caddis at 7:51 PM on September 6, 2005

Thanks, bemis. Couldn't we have have had this pro- vs. anti-Bush "debate" left out of something?

And caddis, there's a difference between asking why something happened and inciting another political argument.

(Damn, next time I'll have the "[more inside]" typed out in another buffer before I post the link.)
posted by davy at 7:55 PM on September 6, 2005

Yeah, that thread was pretty much doomed from the get-go. Although, I have no right to talk: I made a little mess on Aisle Green today, too.
posted by mds35 at 7:55 PM on September 6, 2005

posted by mds35 at 7:56 PM on September 6, 2005

I think it was a valid question, but as so often happens people respond with speculation rather then knowledge which in this general topic feeds upon itself and produces what we have.
posted by edgeways at 7:59 PM on September 6, 2005

"Why would FEMA ignore help offered by {insert the name of hundreds of groups here]?"
"Why didn't NO have an evacuation plan for people without cars?"
"Why did GW cut funding for levee projects?"
"Why didn't Blanco send in her LA national guard on Sunday?"

Why was the original question even in AskMe?
posted by caddis at 8:10 PM on September 6, 2005

Aren't these good questions?
Don't they have answers?
Should he have asked them elsewhere?
posted by Miko at 8:12 PM on September 6, 2005

If the obvious incompetence in his statements makes something "political," that isn't my fault.

If it's obvious then there's no need for the snark.
posted by Stauf at 8:16 PM on September 6, 2005

There is no guideline about AskMe questions that specifically precludes their use for hot button topics like who did what to whom in the Katrina relief effort. Perhaps there should be? Usually we draw the line at pure hypotheticals like "What if Hitler had never been born?" but generally it's good if completely unanswerable [at this point] questions wait until there is more data in. And, of course, it's good if people can keep axe-grinding out of their AskMe answers.
posted by jessamyn at 8:18 PM on September 6, 2005

Because we have multiple open threads on these subjects on the front page and these issues best belong there.
posted by caddis at 8:18 PM on September 6, 2005

Stauf, you misunderstand my words. obvious refers to incompetence, not my answer, which you apparently believe to be a "snark." -odinsdream

Huh? I'm not the one misunderstanding.

The current official explanation is that there will be a time and a place for these explanations, and that George Bush is personally going to head up the investigation. Don't you feel better? -odinsdream

That's a "snark". Unless you weren't being at all sarcastic with that statement.
posted by Stauf at 8:25 PM on September 6, 2005

bemis' post wasn't a reasoned attempt at answering the question - it was a snarky personal accusation. In other words: not helpful at all. I'd like to think that I can expect more than that from AskMe contributors.
posted by Pseudonumb at 8:27 PM on September 6, 2005

The question was, simply put, "Why would FEMA cut the emergency communication lines in Jefferson Parish?...What is the official explanation for it? What could possibly justify it?" I.e. "Why did this happen? What was the reason the actors who did this gave for doing this?"

It's only political, O caddis, if you dispute the factuality of it, if you say it did not happen. Do you dispute that FEMA cut the emergency communication lines in Jefferson Parish? If so, let's see your evidence.

I do wish the AskMeta question would have been worded more delicately to forestall shitting in the Green, but then beamis didn't have to jump at the chance.
posted by davy at 8:28 PM on September 6, 2005

So is it the question or the answerers that are the problem?

By the way, I'm not on the attack here and don't have a point of view yet. Just trying to get a sense of where people think the line is. For instance, I've been wanting all week for some sort of flow chart or road map describing what was supposed to happen in LA according to the current disaster plans. I haven't found it yet, but it sounds like many people think AskMe wouldn't have been the place to ask about it. Yet it hasn't turned up on the blue, either.
posted by Miko at 8:30 PM on September 6, 2005

For AskMe I would have worded it more conditionally: "I heard that X happened. Is this true, and if so what reason did the doer give?" So technically I'll also have to take aaronetc to task for posting something that was too easy for a Bushite to see as bait, which still does not excuse beamis for chomping hard at it.
posted by davy at 8:38 PM on September 6, 2005

caddis: Exactly what was "political" about the question itself? I posted to AskMe rather than the blue because the multiple open threads are absolute wastelands of snark and vitriol, and I'm looking for an answer to a question. The answer and question are not inherently political -- maybe there's some logistical reason why FEMA would cut those lines, I don't know; that's why I asked.

davy: "Why would..." is conditional enough, IMO.
posted by aaronetc at 8:49 PM on September 6, 2005

Actually mds35, I don't see anything wrong with your question. It's obvious that there is money to be made from such things; for 2500 years "Western Civilization" has provided repeated occurrences of people profiting from disasters. (I say "Western" only because I'm nowhere near as well read in East Asian, African or "New World" history). Your question too might have been worded more delicately given the context, but still it was "fact-based"and explicitly invited a factual answer.

And aaronetc, I'd've thought "why would..." would be conditional enough too, but here on the internets we gots to try harder (as we've just seen).
posted by davy at 8:53 PM on September 6, 2005

The guideline might not be exceedingly clear-cut or explicit but it does exist, just under the AskMe comment box:

note: Ask MetaFilter is as useful as you make it. Please limit comments to answers or help in finding an answer. Wisecracks don't help people find answers. Thanks.

I don't know if that was there before this came up, I don't always read the fine print, but it's there now -- and for once I agree. The Blue might be for political arguments and the Grey for personal feuds, but let's leave something non-irate.
posted by davy at 8:59 PM on September 6, 2005

I was thinking about posting a Metatalk thread about this (but with a different answer, I forget which one now). There seems to be a lot of this in the answers, which are nothing more than inane comments. I've tried tagging them but haven't seen them being deleted. I realize it's probably a pain in the ass to this but I think if we just get rid of them and move on people will see there comments won't and last and thusly won't post.
posted by geoff. at 9:06 PM on September 6, 2005

Geoff, I think education and persuasion, rather than power and its exercise, is the answer. "Chide, don't beat."
posted by davy at 9:17 PM on September 6, 2005

It's a question of motive. Were they trolling or did they want discussion and suggested answers?

People at MeCha have already stated that they don't want it becoming political over there, so that's not the answer. Really, this is the place for it, providing that we agree that these were questions asked in good faith. If we agree on that, who cares if the questions or answers have political charge? The poster was not asking "Why is George Bush such an idiot?"
posted by dreamsign at 9:50 PM on September 6, 2005

Dreamsign, could it be that when he was a baby Barbara dropped him on his head?

(Yes, I meant that as a joke. Please don't hurt me.)
posted by davy at 11:29 PM on September 6, 2005

that post is actually pretty funny because it seems rather evident that bemis did not bother to read the snopes text, but rather just the stuff that was highlighted in the pretty coloured box.
posted by fishfucker at 12:04 AM on September 7, 2005

These sorts of questions are questions of fact and are answerable. The problem is that the issue is so highly charged that people either won't agree on the facts, or they take offense at the question.

We could answer those sorts of questions if, for example, they were marked especially by the poster and there was a very strong community ethos that these so-marked should be answered as impartially as possible. There's some people here that are capable of doing this. Most aren't.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 12:35 AM on September 7, 2005

This thread where the issue of cutting communication lines is still active. Asking the question in AskMe rather than in the active thread is kind of like a double post. If there were not an open and active thread going I would probably feel differently. I find it political in that it pertains to one of the more outrageous accusations of incompetence where blame is being thrown about.
posted by caddis at 4:26 AM on September 7, 2005

I find it odd that people are offended by the supposed intent and/or the phrasing of the question. If one believed that the only explanation of the action was FEMA's callus indifference towards human life or something damning like that, there would be no point in asking the question. aaronetc is obviously open to the possibility that there is a rational explanation (and his choice of best answer confirms that).

I'm glad he asked it in AskMe, because it's a question I've had. I'm not inclined to go wading through Katrina threads, which are highly political, to find out if a question like this (which is pretty apolitical) has been answered. As disturbing as the evidence of FEMA's incompetence is, I don't want to add to that a belief of maliciousness. Teece's answer, which, although it is as much speculation as anyone, sounds both plausible and rational, provides just such a reassurance. It actually helped put a perspective on Broussard's comments that de-politicizes them a bit. FEMA's still fucking-up, but at least there's a reason they might of done this without the *intent* to harm.
posted by carmen at 6:28 AM on September 7, 2005

Asking the question in AskMe rather than in the active thread is kind of like a double post


come on, caddis. That thread you linked to is three days old! The only people still active in three day old threads are there to finish arguments, not to answer questions.

BTW, where's this rule, anyway? I think you're making it up. I've never seen a guideline about not posting questions in the Green if there's a chance someone might answer it in the Blue. How does that even make sense? For what possible reason would someone go to the Blue to ask a question of MetaFilter instead of going to...Ask MetaFilter?

BTW, caddis? If you're seeing political motivations in the question in question, they're all in your head. The question itself was entirely apolitical. As were the best answers. Bemis was the one breaking guidelines, not the asker.
posted by jbrjake at 8:09 AM on September 7, 2005

I note that teece answered the question very well. I also had the same question in mind, and it now it has been answered in a clear, concise manner. Not only that, but it de-politicised it a little bit for me. Very AskMe, if you ask me.
posted by Invoke at 8:51 AM on September 7, 2005

Necessary? Doubt it. Now ask me how much I think we should care. Actually, don't. You can guess the answer, I'm sure.
posted by Decani at 9:12 AM on September 7, 2005

The question seems fine and there is at least one good answer in the thread. It's the tin foilers that are driving up the noise.
posted by Mitheral at 10:30 AM on September 7, 2005

I hadn't been aware of the issue until it was posted on AskMe, and I read the question, clicked on the links, and examined the various follow-ups.

I then applied my own judgment to what I'd read and formed some opinions, having learned something. In general the discussion was moderate and, where expressing opinion, was generally explicit about it and brought up points of evidence.

Which is to say, isn't this more or less how it is supposed to work?
posted by ikkyu2 at 7:36 PM on September 7, 2005

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