politics subdomain November 17, 2005 4:56 AM   Subscribe

Not so much a feature-request as (I hope) a new twist on an old discussion. five_fresh_fish off-the-cuffed something in the "dhoyt" thread that got me thinking: What about poli.metafilter.com? It would address the problem that I think most people really have with "newsfilter", and it could be a way to leech off poisons from "the blue". (Hoping this doesn't derail into venom-swamp, and voting for purple...]
posted by lodurr to Feature Requests at 4:56 AM (122 comments total)

It's been suggested, numerous times as I recall, but Matt won't do it.
posted by Gator at 5:03 AM on November 17, 2005

I've always been opposed to news.metafilter.com (not that anybody cares), but I think this could be different. It could end up being beneficial to MeTa, also, since the "you're calling me out because you hate my politics" stuff would end up in MePol.

From a commercial standpoint (and frankly those things matter, now that this is matthowie's living), MePol could generate a lot of ad revenue. It might end up being a cesspool of posturing and nonsense, of course, but if the cess pooled there and not here....?

I'm open to being shot down on this, of course, but it seemed like a new twist to me, and the fact that a lot of the factions apparent from the dhoyt thread shake out on more or less political lines makes me more sympathetic to the ideas of filtering the filter.

I know I voted for purple, but i keep seeing it in yellow (the color of bile?).
posted by lodurr at 5:04 AM on November 17, 2005

Just to be clear, gator, and as I said right after you: I don't like "newsfilter", either. I'm just thinking this might be different.

As I said, I'm open to being shot down. Just shoot down the right plane.
posted by lodurr at 5:06 AM on November 17, 2005

The page could even be yellow!
posted by Plutor at 5:11 AM on November 17, 2005

There are already plenty of sandboxes devoted to politics that people can go shit in. Elsewhere.

I somehow envision politics.metafilter.com devolving into some kind of monster that is impossible to moderate.

On the one hand it would be nice to release the pressure from the blue and put it somewhere else, but on the other hand I just feel that it would open up a whole new set of problems. People get so emotional here and hold vendettas, I see this as only encouraging it.
posted by tweak at 5:23 AM on November 17, 2005

I mean, it would be akin to handing someone like dhoyt a gun.
posted by tweak at 5:28 AM on November 17, 2005

It might end up being a cesspool of posturing and nonsense
No, it would start off like that, then get worse.
posted by Joeforking at 5:42 AM on November 17, 2005

The best thing about MeFi is that it resists fragmentation. It encourages community. There are a lot of posts I'm not interested in. I ignore them. When they become overwhelming, there's a MeTa discussion, and it self-regulates. I'd be sorry to see FPP posts divided into categories.
posted by Miko at 5:44 AM on November 17, 2005

I'm curious -- are there any sites that do political discussion well? Sites where there is rational discussion from both sides?
posted by SteveInMaine at 5:48 AM on November 17, 2005

Miko: You're describing (what many of us regard as) ideal behavior. But MeTa is usually filled with people who don't obtain to your (and frankly my) ideal.
posted by lodurr at 5:50 AM on November 17, 2005

Apologies, lodurr, but you gave no indication that a [more inside] would be forthcoming.

At any rate, I don't see how poli.metafilter.com would be any different than news.metafilter.com. As tweak said, it would be a nightmare to moderate.

Also, what Miko said.
posted by Gator at 5:55 AM on November 17, 2005

Yes, what Miko said.
posted by terrapin at 5:57 AM on November 17, 2005

It would give the green light to a lot of behaviour we've been trying to reign in.
posted by mcwetboy at 6:13 AM on November 17, 2005

gator -- no apology nec.

Anyway, the second-from-bottom* line on this is whether people think there's a prayer that the siphoning effect would have a positive or negative impact. I think it's a crapshoot, myself -- worth talking about, at least -- but early returns seem overwhelmingly negative, so I'm going to bow out and hope i didn't start a shitfest.
*bottom, of course, being whether the owner would build it.
posted by lodurr at 6:16 AM on November 17, 2005

There are already plenty of sandboxes devoted to politics that people can go shit in.

And sadly, this is one of them. I love the idea. The predominance of political posts on the front page many days makes Meatfilter feel like a predominantly political site. New visitors (hello Village Voice readers!) who join are likely to be ones who want to discuss politics. And the bad feelings generated in the political threads spill over everywhere.

Lodurr has it right, this would be a crapshoot. But it seems worth trying.
posted by LarryC at 6:31 AM on November 17, 2005

Would a post about Abe Lincoln's hats go in the blue or the yellow? What about an online gallery of flip cartoon books about the Social Democratic Party of Germany? Kim Beazley knock knock jokes?
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 6:46 AM on November 17, 2005

I think this is a bad idea. It will only lead to too many posts and too much animosity.
posted by caddis at 7:18 AM on November 17, 2005

My Metafilter already has a "political" filter (it even specially filters out US politics!). It's called staying out of those threads.
posted by Quartermass at 7:22 AM on November 17, 2005

My Metafilter already has a "political" filter (it even specially filters out US politics!). It's called staying out of those threads.


I think having another section for politics would really lead to 'kos-filter'. or 'lgf-filter' or some unholy amalgam of the two. People will feel like they can post anything they like, regardless of how crappy, boring, or biased it is. Right now, we just have biased.

And it will mean that intresting political stuff won't apear on the blue. I think we have enough politics here for now.

What I'd really like to see is a tech.metafilter.com with tech news like digg.com
posted by delmoi at 7:31 AM on November 17, 2005

What I'd really like to see is a tech.metafilter.com...

Oh, like that wouldn't degenerate into pissing contests.... hell, I'd probably be the first to start one.
posted by lodurr at 7:49 AM on November 17, 2005

I think it's a good idea. I thought it was a good idea when it was first suggested a million years ago, then was convinced that maybe it wasn't by Matt's explanation of why he didn't want to do it, and now I'm squarely back at "good idea" (and have been for some time).

I think seeing the MeFi front page without politics (and/or news) would be fantastic. I also think that being able to go to a page that gathers it all together would be very handy.

In terms of "there are other sandboxes".... this argument is pointless, really, since the fact is that it's being posted here to such a degree that we are now largely (mostly?) defined as a politics/news blog.

Could it solve some of our problems in terms of hostility, aggression, and "poisonous atmosphere"? I hope so. In fact, I think so... though I might be completely wrong. But just going on exactly as we have been definitely won't improve the air quality.
posted by taz at 8:42 AM on November 17, 2005

I always assumed that part of the reason it was a DOA idea because it would drive eyeballs away from the main page. Maybe users would go directly there. Though I don't know enough about internet sites to understand why it would be a bad thing if people don't got a particular page or how that would effect advertising revenue, etc.

That, and if you create a battlezone, it would get really ugly. At least now people have to keep their politics confined by some limitations on content. But if you create an open area of political posts, "Bush is a drunk coke-snorting fascist" with a link to billysl33topinions.blogspot.com would be posted. Not to mention how political topics are so often incredibly redundant. So it might end up being a steaming pile of dogshit. Then again, as the Blue becomes more and more like that anyhow, this ceases to be a good reason to oppose a seperate sub-site.
posted by dios at 9:04 AM on November 17, 2005

It would give the green light to a lot of behaviour we've been trying to reign in.

But is it behavior that deserves a green light?

Metafilter's primary appeal - for me, anyway - is that the one page encourages diversity in posts, as well as quality. If it were to splinter, the various sub-Filters would be filled with tangential crap, like any other message board. There'd be less accountability for asshattery and less incentive to produce good, solid material.

I think it would seriously weaken the MetaFilter brand.
*Washes out n00b mouth for using marketer-speak*
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:09 AM on November 17, 2005

dios: Say we assume (big assumption, I know) that most of the same standards apply to the "yellow" as the "blue"? E.g., no self-linking, post is about the links, etc. All up for negotiation, of course, but in general raising the bar a bit above, say, Kos or teh Freep?

Maybe people could have to pay more for a "yellow" account (hm, that might be bad, acutally, see following).

My thinking on the "battlezone" is that what happened there could potentially stay there -- like things that happen on the basketball court or softball diamond. Of course, that goes both ways: Sometimes people, rather than working out their frustrations, develop new ones...

On the dynamics of cash: If people paid more, they might feel it's a license to be nasty, instead of perceiving the yellow account to be something of greater value. Maybe instead people could only participate in yellow after a period of time? Make them earn the privilege, i.e.

Part of the problem with all of this is that different people will simply behave differently; the dynamics of expectation are what largely drive a different flavor between, say, Freep and MeFi. (Politics aside.) So we wouldn't know one way or another, all talk aside, until it was tried. So maybe it's not worth the risk, for that.
posted by lodurr at 9:18 AM on November 17, 2005

"the problem that I think most people really have"

"Most people" have not expressed an opinion one way or the other. Of those who have, I don't think "most" applies to the dissenters, but to those who don't care.

Also, lodurr, after yesterday, the PTB have made it quite clear that the SLOE is an acceptable FPP.

I think, in conclusion, Matt has decided to let the MeFi community take its own course.
posted by mischief at 9:42 AM on November 17, 2005

btw, I support the idea of splitting off politics, but I doubt we will see that happen in the near future.
posted by mischief at 9:46 AM on November 17, 2005

posted by lodurr at 9:51 AM on November 17, 2005

Single Link Op-Ed, OK, sorry, I was SLOW.

Nit: The only SLOE I see yesterday is yours.... I don't think I see more (or less) of them just lately, but there are definitely more htan in the past.
posted by lodurr at 9:54 AM on November 17, 2005

I used to think there should be a separate section for news or politics, but I recently realized that part of what makes MeFi special is that it isn't broken up into a bunch of sections. MeTa and AskMe serve fundamentally different purposes than the blue, but poli. or news.mefi would fracture the community.

Why can't people just ignore posts they aren't interested in? The solution to bad posts isn't bitching -- it's good posts.
posted by callmejay at 9:55 AM on November 17, 2005

I started a MeTalk thread on the SLOE issue yesterday, lodurr, after giving up my fight at getting them deleted consistently.
posted by mischief at 9:58 AM on November 17, 2005

As just a momentary derail, your own SLOE was an example of how and when they can work. If you wanted to make a point, shouldn't you have done something a little more -- well, egregious?

Anyway, on-topic: callmejay, et al, I'm not suggesting many categories -- just one more. One that's been a problem. My question is whether that would work. I think there's a chance that poli wouldn't dilute the quality -- but then, folks who stuck to the blue would miss posts about Sri Lanka or GATT or the like. Is that an acceptable loss? I dont' know.
posted by lodurr at 10:11 AM on November 17, 2005

MeFi, MeTa, and AskMe all serve different functions, as do MeChat and IRC. MePo would also serve a different function.

There are two successful components to MeFi: the FPPs and the discussions. The discussions tend to be either silly and fun, or heated and serious.

The big problem with MeFi these days is that the two are contanimating one another. The heated discussions are carrying over into silly discussions, where political or moral opponents are barking at each other inappropriately, and where oneupmanship is resulting in fun turning into stupid scrapping.

Matt's job, especially now that he has decided to devote his energy to his communities, is to move the discussions to the appropriate half of the site. Using his wise and gentle touch, he can ensure the communities develop as separate entities beside one another. MePo can be all about heated discussion. MeFi can be all about fun. The two can peacefully co-exist so long as we users differentiate between the two (which is where the colour cue is so important.)

No harm can come to the MeFi network through this: it is the exact same software, the exact same users, the exact same functionality and fundamental ideas -- just different colours on the background.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:31 AM on November 17, 2005

Tangentially, lodurr is right, mischief. Your SLOE showed what a good SLOE could be. There's cool discussion on that thread. It made me think a complete prohibition against the SLOE was no good. But then again, I come to MeFi more for discussion; it's not a link farm for me.

I'm ambivalent about a PoFi. I dunno if it would be good or bad or what.

But MeFi is evolving/devolving into PoFi as it is. Unless political and news posts start getting deleted, I have a hard time imagining this changing. And I suspect we are in a feedback loop. Some folks come to MeFi and think about joining. They see 30%-80% political posts on the front page. This effects their decision to join: either they like PoFi, and sign up for that, or they are turned off, and don't sign up.

If that is seen as a bad thing, a PoFi might be able to stem the tide.
posted by teece at 11:36 AM on November 17, 2005

folks who stuck to the blue would miss posts about Sri Lanka or GATT or the like

Why would they? Is a post about Sri Lanka going to create a heated political discussion?

If it does, Matt can of course move it over to the #663300.

Likewise, if someone posts a "best of the web" on Sri Lanka over in the #663300, then Matt can move it over to the blue.

All that changes is the background colour. Everything else, including your user stats re: last message read, etc., can stay the same.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:37 AM on November 17, 2005

What happened to diversity? I might be in favor of Meta-cat for the sick kitty threads, or Meta-lostlove for the emotional tangles, but do a group of adults need to have all subjects pre-sorted by color like laundry? Skipping subjects of little interest does not seem too challenging.
posted by Cranberry at 11:49 AM on November 17, 2005

I'd love to see this as well. I've actually stopped going to the blue and removed it from my RSS reader because of the newsfilter.

I'd also like to suggest a nice, rich brown as the background color (and stick with the yellow hyperlinks). (on preview, yeah #663300 is pretty much the exact shade I'm thinking of)
posted by freshgroundpepper at 11:52 AM on November 17, 2005

keswick - I think this country is more screwed up than at any other time in my 40 years as a proud American. Polarization has grown wildly over almost every issue. Not just disagreement, but open hatred. We're actually thinking about changing the constitution over the meaning of a word.It would be wonderful if MetaFilter was a happy haven from the fray. But I suspect most users here wouldn't get as much from the site.

When I hear that people are protesting in the street to end the separation of church and state I want to go down and beat them up. How screwed up is that? So many passions getting ugly these days.

I blame Bush, but whatever it is, the world has changed. MetaFilter is the wall in the town square where we post our rants for the world to read. The world has changed, and MetaFilter has changed with it.

posted by y6y6y6 at 3:34 PM PST on March 11 [!]

posted by y2karl at 12:29 PM on November 17, 2005

Is a post about Sri Lanka going to create a heated political discussion?

Probably not. But that opens another question: How would you envision the selection process for the mahogany? Would it be self-selected, or moderator-selected? If it's self-selected, then asking peoople to decide whether something is "so political it will cuase a heated discussion" is asking for trouble.

So my rationale was based on the idea that any post about politics would go to polifilter -- i.e., a simple rule that anybody could be expected to deploy. So, blue-chauvinists (and I'd probably be one of them -- I only look at gray and green as afterthoughts, now) would miss them.
posted by lodurr at 12:47 PM on November 17, 2005

I think maybe we should have a punitive premium post-personal attack filter. Instead of trying to control the content of the posts, we could could control the content of the comments. We could add a [!] for lame callouts of people not participating in a given thread--say, amberglow or dios---or a [!] for usual suspects as when any comment or post by one member draws a belittling comment by the same member more than x amount times in a month or other period of time or there could be a [!] for unnecessary roughness from anyone. People could hit the [!].

Matt and Jessamyn could make the call and, after enough such [!] callouts, then freeze the account of the offender. Since they see who makes the [!]'s, they could freeze [!} abusers, too. Said offender would pay, say, $50 to get re-instated. There could be a deep pockets provision so that after so many [!}'s, the rate could be boosted up. Or perhaps there could be a different colored user name for repeat offenders. Their comments could be pay for view only for x amount of days after breaking the rules.

People would have to pay extra to be nasty and, after a certain point, they could be permabanned. It might make people think twice about getting nasty. It certainly would provide a revenue stream.

Think of the money we could have made off of [fill in the YMMV blank].
posted by y2karl at 1:17 PM on November 17, 2005

While we're at it, can we get some sort of sex subsite? Because, this place needs more porn.
posted by graventy at 1:32 PM on November 17, 2005

I think seeing the MeFi front page without politics (and/or news) would be fantastic.
*Imagines such a world, drifts off in ecstacy*

Unfortunately, I don't think that splitting the site up into topics will achieve this, for two reasons. First, removing all political content from the "main" part of the site would take away some interesting stuff that generates tangential discussion and information for those of us with only a passing interest in US politics. Secondly, it gives tacit approval for political windbags to go wild with their rants - the only thing that keeps these to a minimum is because they don't have formal approval. Can you imagine a site that is the polar opposite of LGF? That is what PolFi would be.

Of course, with AskMe, now MePro and worth a jobs site on and off the wishlist somewhere along the line (WorkMe?), it seems as if the natural progression is towards more specialisation and this does have the benefit of acting as a filter of sorts. The real question, for me, is how big does a community have to get before it needs to be split?

The fact that the spellchecker wants to change PolFi to polio settles it for me. The spellchecker knows.
posted by dg at 2:14 PM on November 17, 2005

Yea! sex.metafilter.com, the #ff6666!
posted by ijoshua at 2:16 PM on November 17, 2005

SexMe: Post it in the pink!
posted by ijoshua at 2:17 PM on November 17, 2005

Why don't you make it? You know what? You could call it Devoter.com.
posted by xammerboy at 2:36 PM on November 17, 2005

My Metafilter already has a "political" filter (it even specially filters out US politics!). It's called staying out of those threads.

Precisely. As long as we have eyes to skim past posts (or ears, my aplogies to the screen reader massive!) there's no need for something like this.
posted by jack_mo at 5:12 PM on November 17, 2005

How would you envision the selection process for the mahogany? Would it be self-selected, or moderator-selected?

All of the above. Matt would be wise to set this up so that it is dead easy to transfer an FPP and its thread from the blue to the brown, with all the "last read" and etc. intact for the users.

Honest to god, folks, this is not going to cause harm and suffering. Far from it. Your end-user experience is going to be almost identical: it's just that we need to get the heated, aggressive, American-politics-dominated threads out of the blue. It's destroying us.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:26 PM on November 17, 2005

As this community is kind of academic anyway, call it Current Events. This idea would SO clean up the blue. Also, I imagine it would be a place of great discussions. (Discussions that are not so appropriate for the blue.)
posted by snsranch at 5:27 PM on November 17, 2005

I cannot understand why americans seem unable to discuss politics with out rancour, whether on TV or on the net. This site, and every other current affairs blog I read, is full of hatred - rare is the humour and wit that we would see in a British CA show on say a sunday morning with the talking heads. If O'Reilly or the Crossfire guys tried to air here, they'd be lowest rated on the segment - cos they sound so dumb and unattractive in their partiality and anger.

Having said that: US politics is where it's at. I admit it: I'm a poli-junkie, and the biggest and best shit is in D.C. Just as we always suspected, you guys have the biggest everything: the biggest corruption, the biggest budgets and the biggest assholes1.

It's poor manners but otherwise ok, in my books, to call Bush an asshole; much more acceptable to call him the goatfucking nanobrain from Planet Shame-on-Me. Gah, who cares?
1: My oft repeated pleas for better behaviour on the Filter is inapplicable here, as I'm being totally indiscriminate and anonymising my subjects - all o' them polis are assholes. But none o' youse guys, 'k?
posted by dash_slot- at 5:52 PM on November 17, 2005

I think it's time for this and I think there's a good way to implement it. Matt, please consider this:
  • "Current Events and Politics" or the equiv would be a good name.
  • It should be a one-click matter to move posts from the blue to there for the admin.
  • MeFi members should have to donate another $5 for the privilege of posting there. (The justification for the additional donation is to create a high-enough bar to filter out a certain amount of noise.)
  • This one is important: it should be a one-click matter for Matt or Jess to select exceptional AskMe and MeCur posts to appear on the mefi front page. This puts the best and most interesting alternate mefi ("BotW") content onto the front page, keeping the fp the center and front door of the site. This will increase hits to the blue because the very popular AskMe is at present accessed only directly. As long as only the best alternate content posts are featured on the front page, then MeFi will really be what it aims to be: the best of the web. That is, 4/5 content will be really good web finds, and the other 1/5 will be really good questions and really good news/politics posts.
  • This newspol page should be moderated about the same as newspol posts are currently modded.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 5:54 PM on November 17, 2005

Oh, just in case that was unclear: no to poli.metafilter.com. Our only hope is in community standards, and surfing past the stuff you don't like. That's what we do elsewhere: why do it any differently here?
posted by dash_slot- at 5:54 PM on November 17, 2005

...it's just that we need to get the heated, aggressive, American-politics-dominated threads out of the blue. It's destroying us.
I agree 100% with this. But we don't need to create a whole new section of the site to achieve this laudable goal. Just delete them. There are any number of places where you can argue interminably about US politics until you turn blue in the face and fall frothing to the floor. Why does this have to be another one of them?
posted by dg at 6:02 PM on November 17, 2005

Just delete them.

Yeah, that is my preferred option too. But a lot of members (especially among the newer members) like the political stuff, and their opinions are as valid as those of anyone else. The idea for a new section is a compromise.

MetaFilter is the wall in the town square where we post our rants for the world to read. The world has changed, and MetaFilter has changed with it.

Aack! I wonder how much of the above attitude is behind the opposition to a political section? Are fears of "fragmentation" and "loss of community" really just code words for "But how am I going to change the world through posting on the internet if fewer people read my posts?"
posted by LarryC at 6:11 PM on November 17, 2005

"MeFi members should have to donate another $5 for the privilege of posting there."

No good. Why pay $5 when one could just post it to the blue and wait for the PTB to move it.

I do agree that more than political posts should have this forum. Why not just call it NewsFilter and be done with it. Any news item (politics, disasters, celebrity birthdays, op-eds, the works) goes to the mahogany (love that connotation).
posted by mischief at 6:25 PM on November 17, 2005

I would be perfectly content to see politics entirely banished from MeFi.

I don't think that is going to happen.

Key to the success of the MePo twin of MeFi is to grandfather-in everyone who is an active poster on MeFi. This forms the core group of active users, ensuring the MePo's success. All existing MeFi usernames should be at least reserved in MePo, so that we don't end up with different physical people using the same alias.

I think it would be wise to charge $5 for new usernames' access to each section of MeFi/MePo/AskMe, though the first payment would of course reserve one's name for all the Metanetwork.

The extra income will be good for Matt, because he's going to be busting his hump keeping MePo from going completely out of control. Hopefully he'll simultaneously see MeFi become much, much easier to handle.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:32 PM on November 17, 2005

"Hopefully he'll simultaneously see MeFi become much, much easier to handle."

I believe without the NewsFilter posts, the MeFi posts will become much richer, encouraging more people to post good links.
posted by mischief at 6:35 PM on November 17, 2005

Well, speaking as somebody who mostly lurks, I would support this, at least as an experiment (read: pony) for a few weeks to see how it plays out.

I really think the problem is with the community, not the technical layout of the site, though. I'm genuinely interested in politics, and I would like to read good, infomed discussions about politics without having to wade through tedious callouts and feuds.
posted by whir at 6:53 PM on November 17, 2005

EB's description is the first I've seen that makes me think this might be a good idea. But Matt's not going to go for it, so this is all idle chatter.
posted by languagehat at 7:06 PM on November 17, 2005

I'm gonna go with Miko on this. Separating MeFi by topic, rather than function, is a bad idea. And no, serious discussion is not a different function than light hearted fun discussion. it's just the result of a differnt topic and/or different participants.

additionally, I think it's important to note that Matt's plan seems to be to let MeFi grow organically, which is to say that he's allowing the kinds of posts and reaction to those posts (within certain limits and guidelines) develop on their own instead of constantly being trimmed and fed by him. What this means is that he will no sooner eliminate or prune newsfilter (within limits) than he will posts about every minor thing google or apple does, or posts about design sites. If the community really doesn't want newsfilter, it will (ideally) die out naturally because no one will comment in those threads. Same with political threads.

BUT, the community loves newsfilter, and loves politicsfilter. If they didn't, then there wouldn't be 200 comments in those god awful threads. The simple fact is that MetaFilter is growing into a primarily news and political flame-war site. There are those of us holding down the fort for nice obscure web oddities and more niche topics, but largely we are being ignored or marginalized. But it's not being done by Matt, it's being done by the community that Matt has (as near as i can tell) decided to let flourish as it sees fit. At some point MeFi will no doubt just be a news and politics discussion site, when the number of voices that argue in politics threads start coming into MeTa en masse to complain about links to robot monkey toys polluting their political and current events landscape. Unfortunately, this is as it should be. If it's worth it to a person to make posts 90% of the community dislikes or ignores, then he'll do it. If it's not, he'll leave. The community culls itself and nourishes its own.

People complain about inconsistent moderation of the site, but i disagree. Matt's human and therefore fallible, obviously, but the moderation has been largely consistent. It's not that he sometimes thinks SLOE posts are good and sometimes bad. It's not that sometimes newsfilter is okay and sometimes it's not. It's that, short of a guidelines violation, the posts all stay. That's it. If no one wants to read a type of post, then it doesn't need moderation to go away. No one will read it, and people will (mostly) stop posting stuff that gets no response. And if everyone's going apeshit in a thread that bothers some members, it doesn't change the fact that there's a significant portion of the community that is making use of the thread, no matter how repellant to you and I it may be. The idea that you shouldn't HAVE to skip past articles you don't want to read is absurd and has always been ignored. If the whole page is becoming articles you don't want to read, then matt and we will miss you. There isn't a whole lot anyone can do about it if Matt's to stay true to the idea that MeFi polices itself and grows organically. Que sera sera.
posted by shmegegge at 7:16 PM on November 17, 2005

I believe without the NewsFilter posts, the MeFi posts will become much richer, encouraging more people to post good links.

I don't. What exactly is keeping people from posting good links now?
posted by kirkaracha at 7:28 PM on November 17, 2005

The place is not broken, it does not need to be fixed. We are living in tumultuous times. Building Fantasy Island won't keep them away. You want everything color coded ? Fine. Put it up for a vote. Let everyone make the choice. See how many people really want this MetaFilter that never existed. I am not for anything that smacks of a few trying to call the shots for everyone else. I know I'm not trying to change the world. I know I am not posting rants. I am not telling other people what to do. I am not for other people telling me what to do.
posted by y2karl at 7:29 PM on November 17, 2005

"At some point MeFi will no doubt just be a news and politics discussion site"

I also see this coming to pass.

I have always supported and always will support NewsFilter. However, I also like the non-NewsFilter links and I would hate to see MeFi become 99.9% news and politics. That is why I support breaking out NewsFilter into its own page.

As I emailed Matt earlier, in the community metaphor, MeFi now has both the Water Department and Traffic Court employing the same staff and located in the same office.

"The idea that you shouldn't HAVE to skip past articles you don't want to read is absurd."

This I do disagree with. In the current situation, those who dislike NewsFilter in any of its forms must skip past those posts and that is why their complaints have been ignored. Their position however is not absurd; it has merit. Why should they stand in a line twice as long and filled with traffic violators, when all they want to do is pay their water bill?
posted by mischief at 7:30 PM on November 17, 2005

"What exactly is keeping people from posting good links now?"

I believe many do not post "good" links because of the NewsFilter dilution effect and the relative lack of discussion that occurs in "good" links.
posted by mischief at 7:32 PM on November 17, 2005

I believe many do not post "good" links because of the NewsFilter dilution effect and the relative lack of discussion that occurs in "good" links.

Exactly. The political stuff drives the rest off the front page so quickly. Gresham's law.
posted by LarryC at 8:14 PM on November 17, 2005

"Are fears of 'fragmentation' and 'loss of community' really just code words for 'But how am I going to change the world through posting on the internet if fewer people read my posts?'"

It's a somewhat cynical way of looking at the newsfilteristas' motives, but I believe that this is a very accurate description. Yes, that's exactly why they so strongly oppose splitting mefi up. Also, they're turning mefi into newsfilter anyway, of course.

"Why pay $5 when one could just post it to the blue and wait for the PTB to move it."

Because in that case, they won't move it, they'll delete it. There's a lot about the extra fiver that is bothersome. But, on balance, I think it's a good idea primarily for the "make the bar higher" reason and the "this will be the most active portion of the site and this is Matt's income" reason.

"I believe without the NewsFilter posts, the MeFi posts will become much richer, encouraging more people to post good links."

I agree. Look at it this way: why did all of McDonald's experiments with pizza fail? Because McDonalds is a burger-joint, not necessarily because the pizza wasn't good.

The greater the portion of mefi is newsfilter, the less people will think of mefi as anything else. And if they don't think of it as anything else, they certainly won't be motivated to post anything else. That's just the way that people are. The "just don't read the newsfilter posts" is not a valid objection because it goes against human psychology.

"Separating MeFi by topic, rather than function, is a bad idea."

Seems to me that almost all objections to splitting mefi up this way resolves down to objections of splitting up the community. And I agree with that objection. That's why I think my "featuring good polfi and askme posts on the blue at admin's discretion" is a very, very good idea and will make all the difference.

I think this has to be done to save MetaFilter as we know it. Otherwise the transformation into a liberal political and news discussion site will eventually be complete. Far too many of the new users think this is exactly what MeFi already is.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 8:36 PM on November 17, 2005

I think this has to be done to save MetaFilter as we know it.

We had to destroy the site in order to save it.
posted by y2karl at 8:51 PM on November 17, 2005

EB: Your reasoning is confusing. You agree to the objection of splitting up the community, yet then you say 'featuring good polfi ... on the blue" will save the community. How can PolFi exist without splitting it out?
posted by mischief at 9:00 PM on November 17, 2005

Otherwise the transformation into a liberal political and news discussion site will eventually be complete.

I think that the primary point at which I disagree with EB is that I don't see MeFi as being "saved" by this, even though I dislike newsfilter. I see MeFi as being eradicated by this. Unfortunately, MeFi is already a largely news and politics oriented community site. Blame the scandalous current administration that has put politics so forcefully into everyone's forebrain. It's what people are worried about, passionate about, etc... MeFi is representative of this, being composed of people. It sucks, but trying to prevent this is essentially trying to bar regular people from MeFi. It's not intentional snobbery, but it still smells of snobs nonetheless. I don't even think it's possible. Maybe some of us would like to go back the under 1k total membership MeFi full of AYBABTU style links and endless links to photo portfolios and web design sites. I dunno. But the deal comes down to: are we an open discussion site for interesting things, or are we an exceptionally narrow and isolated shut-in community with specific forbidden topics and forms of discussion?

I know that a PoliFi sub site isn't technically forbidding that type of discussion, but it actually kind of is. the logic behind the move isn't that there should be a delineation between politics discussion and other types of discussion. The motivation behind it is this: take your politics elsewhere. We the undersigned don't want it. We can feel free to ignore you more easily if you're not on our doorstep.
posted by shmegegge at 9:10 PM on November 17, 2005

This just occurred to me:

Mischief makes the argument saying why should someone have to wade through newsfilter to find the stuff they came here for in the first place?

I disagree with this completely, but it brought something to mind. Why should anyone have to wade through the stuff they're not interested in to get to the stuff they are? Why should anyone have to worry about the interesting stuff running off the front page too quickly because of all the other stuff flooding the page, newsfilter or otherwise?

Well, they have to because there are a ton of posts, nowadays. Increased membership = Increased posts and increased types of interests and likely an increased number of posts that don't interest individuals.

Is MeFi's format just too inadequately suited for its increasing membership? think on it and get back to me.
posted by shmegegge at 9:14 PM on November 17, 2005

Dude, even if you did "eradicate" Metafilter by splitting the news part off, it'd still be like three times as big as it was in 2000.

These days we get a thread the size of the legendary Kaycee Nicole epic four times a week.
posted by furiousthought at 9:34 PM on November 17, 2005

Two thoughts are coming to my mind.

First, filters can do more than segregate the good from the bad; they can also separate the Good Type A from the Good Type B. The classic links are Good Type A and the NewsFilter links are Good Type B. The sum of the two push the best of both off the page. So, why are you arguing to keep them together?

Second, concerning politics. Let's think about the future. MeFites and others often characterize MeFi as liberal, however what if that is not quite the case? What if the overwhelmingly anti-Bush stance is due more to an overriding anti-politics stance without regard to which party is in power? What kind of flame war will erupt if the next president is Democrat, yet the bitching about the executive continues at its current fever pitch? Can MetaFilter in its current configuration survive what many may feel is betrayal?
posted by mischief at 9:42 PM on November 17, 2005

Sigh. Please read carefully:

You will still be SomeAlias on the mahogany. You will still be able to rant and rave to your heart's content. You will still be able to post "best of the web" and "worst of the web" and "weird of the web" and even "important news" and "bullshit politics" and even anything else you want to post.

All that changes is that some people are assisted in (a) remembering that not all conversations need centre on politics, and (b) ignoring the frivolous blue or stormy mahogany or stoney grey or schoolhouse green.

You don't have to be one of those people. You can pay attention to all the colours of MeFi. Most of you already do!

We will have better peace in the blue. We will hopefully gain a bit of intelligence in the mahogany. We will be able to accomodate more interesting links. We will hear from more people, many of whom will be interesting. We can all have a better time.

The number of new daily front page items and the massive numbers of posts made in many threads is a rock-solid indication that a sustainable new theme of MeFi can be created. It worked with AskMe and it will certainly work extremely well for NewsMe.

Everyone wins. No one is harmed.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:03 PM on November 17, 2005

I don't think that many posts would be good enough for Matt to want to put them on the MetaFilter page. So it's not like it would end up being the same as it is now. It'd be the best of both worlds, instead. And don't forget I think the best AskMe's should be on the main page, too.

Putting the very best posts on the main page will make a huge difference. Enough to compensate for how the community would otherwise become splintered. I really believe that. It'd be an incentive for the newsfilter people to make really good posts, and everyone will still want to look at the main page, even the newsfilteristas. The hardcore ones will want to because they'll want to see if anything's crossed over and probably because thery're also interested in the type of things that would appear there anyway. More casual newsfilter types will probably find this an improvement, with only the best newsfilter posts to read and discuss.

But more than anything else, it sends a message. It explicitly says that news/polifilter is a part of metafilter proper, it would strongly reinforce the idea that the blue is the hub or front door of the site. That will maximize traffic to the blue, which will make it more attractive to advertisers while still allowing content targeted ads to appear in the newsfilter page.

It might encourage better behavior in the threads that are selected to show up on the main page, too.

Y2karl's point-of-view is flawed because MetaFilter wasn't intended to be newsfilter, Matt hasn't made it a democracy, and Matt continues to look at newsfilter posts more critically than others. I also think that of those who are primarily interested in newsfilter, a majority would approve of a separate section. And I think y2karl's objections here hint that it would be only the people who want to have a highly-popular general-purpose weblog fro which they can shout their political opinions that will hate this idea. And that's all the better, as far as I'm concerned. I like y2karl personally, but I hate how he abuses the site. The one thing that's always been clear is that it's not an ego platform. But y2karl has said several times that he doesn't want to have his own blog because he wants the audience he has here. We know his motivations and I think they're similar to the motivations of others like him.

The greater the degree to which news and politics—especially hectoring or advocacy news and politics—consumes the front page, the greater the degree to which metafilter is explicitly hostile to a considerable portion of its potential readership. It just doesn't have to be that way.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 10:10 PM on November 17, 2005

Your strategy does not work, EB: take a NewsMe post that's got a really good discussion. Move it to the BestMeFi page. What happens to the discussion? The teeming millions will be coming to the thread an eon too late.

Now, mind, if BestMeFi threads are closed, Matt can leave them cost-free for viewing. Attracts lots of eyeballs. It would be a wise strategic move on his part.

Which means we would end up with a mahogany for seriousness and an, I dunno, maybe pink, for silliness.

posted by five fresh fish at 10:37 PM on November 17, 2005

No, fff, the teeming millions will have already seen it on NewsFi.
posted by mischief at 10:41 PM on November 17, 2005

I still don't fully understand the argument against this idea. Is it a "slippery slope" argument? We've got the brown, now where is my pink/puce/mauve subsection?

Is it an argument that this will end up condoning political articles (legitimizing them in some additional, new way)?

Is it laziness that another link needs to get clicked on to look at the brown instead of the blue?

For those that don't think this is a good idea, did you think AskMe was a good idea when it was created? Do you think it's a good idea now or would you rather have those questions mixed into the blue?

Personally, I think that the biggest reason against it is an administrative one for Matt and Jess. That the coding of it and potential extra traffic (and ad revenue as mentioned above) could be more hassle than it's worth, but that doesn't seem to be the reason that most people don't want this.
posted by freshgroundpepper at 11:11 PM on November 17, 2005

"Is it an argument that this will end up condoning political articles (legitimizing them in some additional, new way)?"

I doubt the political posts could legitimized much more significantly than they already are. Unless Matt distinctly prohibits them, the SLOE is here to stay.
posted by mischief at 11:39 PM on November 17, 2005

In principle I like this idea, but I fear it would require a great deal of policing. Everyone who already has axes to grind would be whining "but this is of general interest! this is too important for the politics ghetto!"

On the other hand, from an ordinary member's point of view, it couldn't be worse than how things are now.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 12:51 AM on November 18, 2005

"this is too important for the politics ghetto"

That is why I think rather than just politics, the new section should encompass all of NewsFilter.
posted by mischief at 1:13 AM on November 18, 2005

So, why are you arguing to keep them together?

Because this NewsFi idea is rose-colored, exclusive and nowhere near as simple and perfect a solution as you guys are pretending it is?

I mean, I'd give you a more serious answer, but I already did that.
posted by shmegegge at 1:53 AM on November 18, 2005

Probably mentioned upthread, but this is a hit and run: if tags were actually leveraged to have some functionality on the user side of things, everyone could clickthrough or bookmark or customize or whatever their view of Metafilter to incorporate a tag cloud around various terms.

Your own front page (at, for example, say, http://stavrosthewonderchicken.metafilter.com) could include only posts dealing with, say, politics, surfing, nose whistles and beer, based on your choice of tag clouds. A follow-on effect from this (amongst many others) would be that people might start tagging their posts more carefully, and there'd be some convergence to standard terms so people could more meaningfully build their own FilterMetaFilter for their personal front page. Of course the regular old front page'd be there for the hoi polloi, but MeFiPro users (say) could create as many custom views as they wanted, tag-based.

Matt? Whaddaya reckon?
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 2:25 AM on November 18, 2005

Which would, of course, which I forgot to mention, obviate the need for topical as opposed to functional subsites of Metafilter. I think functional subsites good, topical subsites bad, to answer the original poster, from a info design principle kinda perspective.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 2:27 AM on November 18, 2005

On a smaller scale, I have seen seperate political forums work for a message board, keeping the bad blood out of the main topical forum.

I am not convinced it would work here though, would probably end up like a 24 hour neverending Fark political flamewar thread.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:28 AM on November 18, 2005

The blue is like a cool friend with a lot of interests and who can talk about any subject. For the friend to say "no more subject X, I don't even wanna discuss it any more, ever" seems sad, and sort of lame.

Looking at the blue right now I see about 10 posts I'd call polifilter (not counting news-but-not-NewsFilter posts like the LEGO court case), out of 50 FPPS, so 20%. Really doesn't seem that page-dominating especially if you allow that perhaps not all of that 20% is crap. Is the current amount just blisteringly intolerable or are we talking about avoiding the Katrina-esque flareups? I just really don't get the points of view like i_am_joe's_spleen's, the "things can't possibly be worse than they are right now" view. Are the other 40 links no good, and can that really be the fault of the SLOE? Maybe I'm blind to how much MeFi sucks.

Going into dangerous waters here, but the "split off newsfilter" arguments always seem to have a kind of arrogance. The suggestion of a surcharges, the various careful steps to make it seem like an equal partner to the blue when really it's a toilet down which the NewsFilter to flush. (The suggested page colors of yellow/brown coincidental but amusing). For a subject (to me) as valid as history or photography, the treatment looks prejudicial, and ticks me off, but that's just my perception, I don't mean any offense. I think I'd rather not see it at all than see it special-cased and second-classed, like the bad teddy bear at a tea party.

Despite all the above, I don't think an apolitical blue would be a bad thing, and so if would vastly improve the blue to split off a MePo then why not, who wouldn't be for it? Ultimately, however, what I'd really rather see is a solution that maintained both the unity and the diversity of the front page because that just seems how it ought to be.
posted by fleacircus at 2:45 AM on November 18, 2005

Like what I suggested about 20 minutes ago, maybe?
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 2:49 AM on November 18, 2005

Sorry, that was a bit squeaky-bitchy. But I'm still impressed with myself.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:32 AM on November 18, 2005

If The Problem With NewsFilter is that it drives away new people (or attracts the wrong kind of new people), a tag filtering system that many users never bother with isn't going to solve it, unless say "politics" was filtered off by default or some such.
posted by fleacircus at 5:18 AM on November 18, 2005

You misunderstand me, but I am too giddy with the sheer joy of being alive to elucidate beyond [all is metawell, and filterfine, and if it continues so, those who wish for a political subsite could be satisfied with tagpower, and it'd add value for everyone else with other foci at the same time, woohooo], so hoopla hey.

Hoopla hey! even.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:27 AM on November 18, 2005

Here's a common thread I see above: "... Separating MeFi by topic, rather than function,...."

To be fair, that's been suggested once up-thread by FFF, but it certainly was not what I had in mind. I had in mind one narrowly-crafted division, intended (as with Metatalk and Ask) to fulfill a different purpose. I.e., I envisioned it as a functional distinction, to use stavros's term.

EB has made explicit some implicit requirements -- e.g., there would need to be a way to move posts (I'm not sure that exists now or even if it would be less than difficult to implement in the MeFi codebase).

Stavros has a great idea, but again, I'm not sure it's easy to implement; better might be a path-notation convention (metafilter.com/lodurr), that would show profile when not logged-in, and custom page otherwise. I think it's more conventional (a lot of people get confused by machine-names), and is definitely easier to implement. But that's all blue-sky; any version of custom pages is certainly non-trivial to implement, within the current codebase. At least, in a scalable manner.

I think expanding it to all of Newsfilter misses the point, and is actually more likely to initiate the 'slippery slide into liberal newsfilter', at least on the mahogany.

Also, finally: I see a lot of indicative-mood references here ("this will", not "this would"). That's presumptive. I've always maintained that the community "owns" the site in one practical sense (i.e., their actions define it), but Matt's the one with the actual commercial dog in the fight, and I envision him rubbing his forehead and muttering "LA LA LA LA LA" throughout this whole thing, and for good reason: We (and I very much include myself, since I started this particular bitch fest) are asking for a shitload of ponies.
posted by lodurr at 5:49 AM on November 18, 2005

...oh, btw, I think the extra $5 to post comments to the mahogany might be a good idea. EB's idea for displaying the mahogany stories on the FP is good; it addresses the problem people have with mahogany sapping the blue. It implies a redesign, though -- it's probably more a horse than a pony.
posted by lodurr at 5:53 AM on November 18, 2005

.... page-dominating .....

That's not the real problem: The real problem is that it's mind-dominating: It sucks up the attention of the regulars. And the regulars matter, because they're the ones who pump their energy into the discussion.
posted by lodurr at 5:55 AM on November 18, 2005

"For a subject (to me) as valid as history or photography..."

It's not a matter of whether the subject is valid or not, it's that news and political opinion posts are qualitatively distinct from what this site was designed to do. And it's not just how it was designed, it's how the owner wants it, and it's how a lot of us prefer it. You can keep insisting as much as you like that MetaFilter is DailyKos with occasional links to "Un chien andalou in 60 seconds reenacted by bunnies" but that doesn't make it so.

And it's not a segregation by topic, either. There will still be a great many posts that would be appropriate for the Blue and not newsfilter. You know, those that are about really cool websites that people haven't seen before. Remember those? Some of those sites might have news or political content.

Strictly speaking, newsfilter is a ghetto because it's a part of MetaFilter that doesn't quite fit but is forced on it by those for whom it holds the greatest interest. They want likably lefty news and political content they can discuss with other intelligent and articulate people. Well, I like that too. That's a good thing. It's not what MetaFilter was designed to do, but that doesn't make it bad. But if for a very large portion of the membership newsfilter is the primary draw, then either Matt capitulates and redefines MetaFilter, or he eliminates it and pisses them off, or he makes everyone happy by creating an area within MetaFilter devoted to doing exactly what they want it to do.

I can't speak for Matt, of course, but I think I can guess how he feels about this based upon what he's said in the past. First of all, I think he likes that aspect of MetaFilter, but in moderation. I think he doesn't want it to become the site's purpose, but he does like it in small amounts. For this reason he doesn't have a heavy hand when it comes to deleting these kinds of posts. It's part of why he doesn't want to legitimize it by creating a whole new section devoted to it. Second of all, and very importantly, from the very beginnings of the site design to how he still runs it today, he very much wants to keep it a single, general community. This is why no threaded discussions. This is the other part of why no newsfilter. This is why virtual filtering via tags and whatnot as stav suggests doesn't get him excited about coding such a feature.

I think he's absolutely right to have both structured the site in such a way as to effectively enforce a single, general community (even though AskMe, as it is now, to some degree divides it) and to continue to moderate it that way and to keep that as a requirement for redesign and the addition of new features.

This is why my idea of including a few of the best AskMe posts and the best NewsFi posts on the front page every day completely changes how I feel about a seperate NewsFilter. First, there'd still be posts to the blue that are appropriate to the blue but happen to relate to politics or current events. Second, the very best posts that are primarily about a news or political topic will appear both on newsfi and on the blue, which, in a way, is creating the "best of the web" as a few people are already doing presently with such content. Like y2karl. And just so the inclusion of very good askme posts.

Doing that includes all major factions of metafilter into the front page. The hard-core people will still almost exlclusively use AskMe and NewsFilter. But I think those who moderately are interested in these will find that just watching for those that appear on the blue and occasionaly checking the sub-areas will work very well for them. It will draw people who only look at the blue into the other areas, as well, while keeping the front page the front page in spirit.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 5:59 AM on November 18, 2005

"I see a lot of indicative-mood references here..."

But still, at least for me, quite strongly speculative. It's subjunctive.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 6:02 AM on November 18, 2005

Stavros has a great idea, but again, I'm not sure it's easy to implement

I'm no longer so worried about cutting #1 as much slack as I usedta because some pony request might be hard or time consuming, now that he's made Metafilter his day job. I got me some knowledge of datawrangling and web-presenting, myself, from back in the day. When I ask for my pretty ponies, I have an idea of how hard it might be to implement (even though I have no idea how hairily random-accretion his data structure might be).

If it's worth doing (which may or may not be the case with what I suggested above, I know), then I'm quite comfortable with hounding the poor guy about it now. A bit, anyway. He's still got a baby and shit, after all.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:08 AM on November 18, 2005

Stav, my concern is more in re-architecting than in designing from scratch. I've seen impressively concise code to do what you suggest in PHP, where it was designed from scratch to do that. But grafting a bag onto MeFi is probably harder and less scalable than doing it from scratch.
posted by lodurr at 6:41 AM on November 18, 2005

posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:52 AM on November 18, 2005

It's not a matter of whether the subject is valid or not, it's that news and political opinion posts are qualitatively distinct from what this site was designed to do.

Have you actually read through the archives? Check out 2000 and see what I mean. News and political opinion posts have always been part of MeFi. The biggest difference, aside from the increased number of posts and comments, is that we now have less tech news, at least as a percentage.

Putting news posts into their own category will only dramatically increase the number of such posts. Every story will get posted, and every update will get its own post. Anything good just gets lost in the flood. Just go check out the Free Republic. Yuck.
posted by caddis at 7:04 AM on November 18, 2005

But y2karl has said several times that he doesn't want to have his own blog because he wants the audience he has here

You, sir, are a liar, perpetually putting words in my mouth. This is what you have said over and over. This is your interpretation. I am tired of your long winded and long distance mind reading and projections. And your two face kiss ass emails.You ascribe to me the pettiest of motives while wrapping yourself in self-important omniscience. You know what I think from a couple of sentences.

Talk about, to quote you, a worldview that sees the worst in people, mocks generosity, prides itself in its cynicism, and essentially denies other people the humanity that it guards so zealously within itself--making yourself right by ascribing the pettiest mtovies to me, now, that's your first move when I don't endorse your self-important Rube Goldberg device here. You tell me what a valuable member I am in your emails and trash talk me here. You are contemptible.

I barely had had an email account when I started here. I had to go online because the guy who owned the internet station got tired of recording my show and wanted me to do it. So I had to get a used computer and get on dial up. I came here just after 9/11 after the Salon article.

This place is the only place familiar to me. I didn't know shit about weblogs when I joined. I don't know much more. Weblogs bore me--I don't read many. This place doesn't and I read it. What little I know about HTML. I learned here. I know so little about anything web related. I post here because the people here are the only people on the web I know.

I don't want a blog because it's too much work, because I lack the technical skills, because I don't have the money, because, outside of this place I have zero participation on any web forum. Apart from a couple of comments on Kevin Drum, All I know is this place and the people here--this is the only place familiar to me.

You have no idea what I think or why I do what I do. I post here because it's the only place I know and because I type real slow. I have been on no other common forum on the web. I don't want to have some boring second rate web log like yours because I never wanted a weblog in the first place. I don't have the time for anything more than what I post here. It's not rocket science, two face.
posted by y2karl at 7:13 AM on November 18, 2005

Aw, Jeez, now you have gone and gotten Karl's dander up.

Stavros has it--we need more tag functionality. Users could set their MeFi preferences so the news and politics posts don't show up in the first place. Matt and Jessamyn would have the ability to ad tags to posts, and one of the flag options would be "needs to be tagged." Those of us who want to get away from the whole newsfilter plague could do so with a few discreet clicks. The same for people who are sick of posts about Apple and Google. For everyone else, the site would remain exactly the same. Everyone gets what they want, without any official fracturing of the site.

Surely no one could object?
posted by LarryC at 7:27 AM on November 18, 2005

No, y2karl, you've said it.

"You tell me what a valuable member I am in your emails and trash talk me here. You are contemptible."

Well, "valuable" except for the character trait you're demonstrating.

You did say what I claimed and while I don't like it, because you said it yourself I didn't think you would think mentioning it would be pejorative. Anyway, I also said in this very thread that a) I like you personally; and b) your NewsFilter contributions are, though NewsFilter, excellent. See if you can find that part.

That you would think it dishonest of me to continue to publicly disagree with you about newsfilter while privately I am friendly indicates, well, something, I'm not sure how to describe it. But it's actually quite the opposite. I am never dishonest or insincere and that is precisely why I don't pretend to not disagree with you about NewsFilter publicly while being very friendly privately.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 7:42 AM on November 18, 2005

Can we can it, guys? We're trying to have a meeting, here.
posted by lodurr at 7:54 AM on November 18, 2005

LarryC, amen, sort of. The question with an application is never really how people can use it, but how they do use it. Qualitative categories, whether you conceptualize them as functional or descriptive, are more than just "tags" to most people. I would argue, to anybody, frankly. There would be qualitative difference in the experience of posting on "the blue" and on "the mahogany". We know that. What we don't know, is what that difference would be.

So, architecturally, more tagging would be a Good Thing. But I don't think it accomplishes the goal.
posted by lodurr at 8:01 AM on November 18, 2005

"would probably end up like a 24 hour neverending Fark political flamewar thread."

You mean like what we already have?

"I'd really rather see is a solution that maintained both the unity and the diversity of the front page because that just seems how it ought to be"

That's a horrid conservative reason for avoiding change.

"I think expanding it to all of Newsfilter misses the point"

I think including all of NewsFilter greatly simplifies the definition of what is to be included.

"Every story will get posted, and every update will get its own post."

This can be substantially controlled by limiting each user to one post per week as on AskMe.
posted by mischief at 9:36 AM on November 18, 2005

I too recall y2karl saying something along the lines of the following:

"[user] why don't you just get your own blog karl?"

"[y2karl] the world has too many unread blogs as is."

I think it clear that people, like y2karl, like to post here because of ego and they know there are a lot of eyeballs here. Their fear is that if you move that kind of stuff off the front page, they might lose some of their precious eyeballs. And, in my opinion, that is the same fear that mathowie has. Again, I always thought his primary objection to this is because a loss of eyeballs might lead to a drop of hit count or advertising revenue or something else that would lower the marketability of the website. Then again, I don't know enough of that dynamic to make the case well.
posted by dios at 9:57 AM on November 18, 2005

And let me add in a vote for EB's suggestion. I think that is a good one.
posted by dios at 9:58 AM on November 18, 2005

dios: Matt's already planning to split the site into at least two more "sub-brands." So there's more eyeballs off the blue. But you'd be right if you countered that those are different kinds of thing from this.

mischief: I'm not clear on how "newsfilter" is a cleaner category than "polifilter". "News" is a very fluid concept. I see a lot of stuff called out as "newsfilter" that sure doesn't look like "newsfilter" to me. "Politics", though -- most people could agree on a broadly-held definition for that.
posted by lodurr at 10:15 AM on November 18, 2005

The easy definition, NewsFilter is any post whose primary link is to CNN and such. For me, politics is the vague concept.
posted by mischief at 10:20 AM on November 18, 2005

Well, I've said nearly all that I care to say, and more. It's not in our hands, it's in Matt's hands, and I think he will make a decision that best satisfies his goals, not necessarily my own.

The only thing I've left to say is this:

Back in the days of the Citadel-86 network we had what was essentially MetaFilter spread out over several local single-line BBSes.

Citadel was structured as a house: you had "floors" that provided a general context or theme, and user-created "rooms" that provided a specific discussion space. Users could choose which rooms and floors to read, and which to completely ignore (the old "Z - Forget" command).

Rooms could be networked, so that they were shared among all BBSes, enabling a higher-volume discussion (with a single line system, you couldn't have much more than a couple dozen serious users a day: if each person takes an hour to browse the BBS, you can only pack in 24 a day!)

Anyway, long story short: Citadel was basically a distributed MetaFilter. Certain BBSes had a certain "feel" -- the topics would tend to be more serious or more frivolous, depending on the sysop's choices of rooms and direction. You could, however, log into any local Citadel and feel right at home: they all had the same sort of UI and structure, they all shared a lot of rooms, they all shared a lot of users.

It was a rip-roaring success.

I have absolutely no doubts whatsoever that it would be the same for MetaFilter.

And with that, I leave this discussion. Matt's a big boy and he has heard all my arguments. He'll do what he wants.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:25 AM on November 18, 2005

I think a good definition would be something like "it's not a post about a very interesting and relatively unknown website but it still seems like a good post, even if it's to some sort of media service".
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 10:29 AM on November 18, 2005

For me, politics is the vague concept.

politics is more vague than news?

Politics seems really simple and clear, to me -- at least, for the purposes of organizing a website.* From Dictionary.com #1 def: ".... government or governing, especially the governing of a political entity, such as a nation, and the administration and control of its internal and external affairs." And that's why I was saying we'd lose posts about things like Sri Lankan elections.

But 'from some site like CNN' -- to me that's really, really vague. What's a site "like CNN"? What does that mean? Is there to be a canonical list of "news sites"?

Anyway, this thread is probably past the point where it's useful. If Matt decides to do something about this, maybe he'll look at these ideas and maybe he'll even ask some of us for input. But if he's smart, he won't put it up for design by the users.
*Obviously, there are more inclusive readings of "politics", and I use them a lot. But that's a different issue.
posted by lodurr at 1:46 PM on November 18, 2005

I know I always sound very self-assured about everything, but I am absolutely sure that my proposal would work very well and make everyone happy and mefi even better than it is. It's a gut thing. I wish Matt would consider it.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 2:11 PM on November 18, 2005

I just wanted to say to everyone that I am sorry for my previous outburst. I read Ethereal Bligh's comment first thing this morning and got pissed off. I am sick and tired of people who do not know me in real life, who are not my friends in real life or online, pretending to know what I am doing, what my motives are, what I am thinking--especially people who are twisting everything I say. I am not on a crusade, I am not trying to change anyone's mind. I am tired of people ascribing to me the pettiest of motives. I really have no idea why I post things. I never gave it much thought.

One part of posting for me is to make a better crafted post than the last. I like making exhaustive, multi-link posts. I post on what interests me, what concerns me. And, for a fact, you can click on my post page and see I don't make as many as I used to by design. I made five posts last month. Three were topical. I have made three posts so far this month. Man, that last one was some screed, huh ?

I made more post in the pasts. I make less now. And I am absolutely not going to post anything on the current political situation because it has gotten so ugly in real life. I am just watching in horror. These are frightening times.

I think the ideas here presented are unnecessary, unnecessarily complicated and pointless, and if implemented, might help torpedo the site. It's just too complicated. As to why anyone are promoting them, I have no idea. I am not reading anyone's mind, parsing their every sentence and ascribing the worst motive to them for wanting to make such changes.

Other than perhaps the over-contribution of a certain multi-sockpuppet troll recently banned, I am not putting any part of What's Wrong With MetaFilter on anyone else. It has gotten meaner. We all have apiece of that. But we are rid of a troublemaker who poisoned the site. That is probably a plus. I just don't see how one person's misuse of the common trust means we all of a sudden need to change the site. Ban the nastiness, lose the nasty people and leave the content alone. That's my suggestion.

I am sorry I contributed to the nastiness. As for the content, one post a week from me is hardly gross misuse of the site. Maybe, if we made a one post a week rule for everyone, it might tone things down. I could live with that. We don't need complicated harebrained schemes for controlling content because it suits someone who feels he knows better than anyone else what this place should be. I would rather have King Log than King Stork. These ideas reek of King Stork to me. I know I am not trying to recast this place in my image, according to how I think it should be. It's not broken. Leave it alone. That's what I think.

I am posting this here and not scrolling up to see what has been posted since I blew up this morning. So, maybe some of my remarks are not timely. So be it. But again, I am sorry for the negativity. I have enough stuff in my real life to deal with now. I will not come back to this thread. I just can't take any more crap right now. But I will make no excuses for myself. Sorry for the yelling. Right now, I just want to leave other people alone and be left alone myself.
posted by y2karl at 2:35 PM on November 18, 2005

I don't mind the yelling as much as I mind you deliberately insulting me in six or seven ways. And while you're thinking about "mind-reading" it might occur to you that you're doing exactly that when you link your negative response to my mefi suggestion to my mentioning you. I brought you up because I've always brought you up when this is the topic. I claimed you said what I claim you said because I am certain you said it once and maybe twice. I don't like what I think are your motives when posting to metafilter, but that doesn't mean that I don't like you, or that I think you're a bad person, or whatever you seem to think must necessarily contradict anything nice I've ever said to you, privately or publicly.

Okay, I can see how it would be pretty easy to get the wrong impression from my comment and that in the context of me just sending you a very friendly email yesterday, it felt like a betrayal or something. I can see that. But you've got to get your finger off that hair-trigger and control, well, what seems like mild paranoia.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 3:28 PM on November 18, 2005

I said, "I'd really rather see is a solution that maintained both the unity and the diversity of the front page because that just seems how it ought to be"

mischief said, "That's a horrid conservative reason for avoiding change."

Some change might be good, but I don't like this change. very much.

I think I know where you're coming from mischief, it seems like you've decided there's no other choice since the PTB aren't patrolling the SLOE's enough. If it can't be regulated down -- cut it out. There is no other option and the need is dire. I understand I just don't agree. I think it would damage MeFi and I don't think the need is dire enough and I don't think the moderation route is really exhausted.

Has it even been suggested to have moderators? They wouldn't really guide discussion; their narrow mission would be to keep NewsFilter FPPs down to a certain level. They'd have to be trusted, restrained, and fair. And hopefully by having more energy about it they would come off as less capricious in the enforcement. With the burden removed from the top admins there'd be less screeching in MeTa to try and be loud enough to be heard, and less taking a passing statement from #1 and using it as one's banner in a crusade to transform Metafilter and smite one's opponents. And mathowie and jessamyn would have more time to better spend. In other words, for God's sake, delegate already.

Why not do that? I haven't read every thread so I don't know if it's been discussed. Maybe the hope was that MeFi would police itself (via flags and ettiquette discussions) without needing anyone appointed in a special role of power. Right now this doesn't seem to be working to everyone's satisfaction.
posted by fleacircus at 3:48 PM on November 18, 2005

I like Stavros' idea, mostly because it's a backend change that allows for client-side alteraton of he front page, as per an individual preference. I think it's one thing to create a change of this variety that affects all users irregardless of personal preference and is divisive along topical lines. It is entirely another, better thing to simply allow people to change what they see on their own machien based on their own personal preference.

I don't know about the logistics of it, or if it's the best possible option, but Stavros' idea is definitely thinking along the lines tat I'd like to see implemented. Especially since, as i implied above, I think MeFi might be getting too big for a "one big honking page of link flood" format.
posted by shmegegge at 4:29 PM on November 18, 2005

Oh, and I think that it requires mandatory post tagging, and moderation of said tags to some extent. Maybe a dialog that says "Please tag your post," if the user doesn't put a tag in when they click post?
posted by shmegegge at 4:31 PM on November 18, 2005

Has it even been suggested to have moderators?

This is a better idea. I vote for bugbread. I disagreed once with the idea when he proposed it elsewhere but I have thought better of it since. He has impressed me as fair and very patient.

Each one speaks to some but not all on any topic. What we say has worth and value only to sympathetic ears. Anyone who types a word and posts it is guilty of some vanity and presumption. It's redundancy and hypocrisy for anyone here to accuse anyone else of seeking attention. We all do. It's being human. No one wants to be alone all the time.
posted by y2karl at 4:49 PM on November 18, 2005

Someone--was it Angry Modem?--used to pointedly ask for more moderators, but never got a reply from Matt that I can remember. I like tag sorting better, as it allows each of us to moderate what we see.
posted by LarryC at 6:49 PM on November 18, 2005


Tag sorting is basically Citadel with a variation on floors.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:28 PM on November 18, 2005

I don't think 'tag sorting' is a good name for what I was describing.

'Citadel with a variation on floors' is even less accurate. That's a little like saying a computer is a typewriter with a screen attached.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:07 PM on November 18, 2005

Politfilter is a really bad idea. Bad political posts get deleted, because prety much all bad posts will get deleted, eventually. If there are complaints about the leaning of political posts, then stop complaining and make good posts from the "other side".
posted by Rothko at 2:16 PM on November 19, 2005

Poli.mefi.com is anethema to the site, which is flat, inline, realtime commenting and posting. AskMe is dipping into communal knowledge (and, admittedly, opinion). MetaTalk is clearly management of the whole site. Everything else is Mefi.

Is, was, ever shall be. Amen.
posted by dash_slot- at 5:58 PM on November 19, 2005

If poli.mefi.com doesn't belong then it sure as hell doesn't belong on the front page, either.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 9:57 PM on November 19, 2005

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