Knowledge building over time. January 16, 2006 12:29 PM   Subscribe

An interesting aspect of the "filtration" on MetaFilter is chronological; and this aspect I think is often ignored, overlooked, or deprecated. [moronic inside]
posted by Eideteker to MetaFilter-Related at 12:29 PM (9 comments total)

Threads like this one accumulate links such as this one, which join the content to a previous post on the Blue. There's usually a great outcry when something has been seen already on the Blue, but it seems every time this happens, there is a greater and greater collection of similar links, expanding the amount of content condensed into each subsequent thread. Each thread dealing with a specific (recurring) subject then becomes a greater and greater refinement and expansion of both linked and non-linked (e.g. comments/anecdotes) information on that specific subject. Where something like Wikipedia is a collective encyclopedia, MeFi is becoming sort of a collective editorial, anecdote, anthology. So while exact doubles posted within days of each other are usually a waste of time, inexact doubles or even the occasional duplicate over the course of a few years can serve a greater purpose for MetaFilter as an archive over time, as compared to the immediate desire for fresh content on a particular morning. I've certainly been guilty of taking the short view, and I think that at least some of us need to reevaluate things in a new light when considering what contributes to MetaFilter's strength and makes it a great website overall.
posted by Eideteker at 12:29 PM on January 16, 2006

Another case in point.
posted by Eideteker at 12:39 PM on January 16, 2006

I don't think this effect of accrual-over-time is over-looked as a possibility; I think it simply was not designed into the site. As such, we have, as your examples suggest, achieved a sort of compromise despite the lack of explict support for or encouragment of related posts.

It seems unwise to me to restate basic Metafilter policy to explicitly encourage successive posts on the same subject. The effect that you have observed is a good one, but the site is not designed to be a chronological musing on a fixed set of subjects; some subjects merely recur, despite the wide-open, everything-goes generality of the front page.

As it is now, explicit doubles almost always die. Near doubles live or die on their own merits (and a touch of whim), dependent largely on whether or not they actually vary in content and form (and to some extent time) from the earlier posts they resemble.

Are you suggesting simply being more lax about deleting not-explicit doubles? Are we arguing over where the line lies between how similar things need to be to fall into effective identity?
posted by cortex at 1:02 PM on January 16, 2006

I'm not saying we should force it, but should we be so resistant to things that seem to persist in our collective meta-unconscious? I'm not talking about a hamsterdance meme that won't die; I'm talking about the fine line between that sort of vapid entertainment and the endless circular logic of many NewsFilter posts. I think inbetween the two lies this unseen value of MetaFilter.

I'm not really trying to argue something so much as I am looking to say, "Hey, this isn't so bad if it happens from time to time."

I think Quartermass' thesis does well to illustrate that while many of us look to MeFi to fill a particular morning, it's a site with a community and a history, and perhaps a larger value which emerges over time than its face value as a linkfilter. Individual users acquire cachet over time, whether we intend them to or not. Topics on MeFi are like rubberband balls. Some of them get to be rather large; just look at the tags page. Within the general tag of music, however, we may get a surge in posts on Ukranian Folkdancing Music. While some users may get tired of reading about Ukranian Folkdancing, if there's an obvious interest by several other users, that particular speciality will grow to be quite a repository of knowledge on MetaFilter. Not of interest to you on a Monday morning, perhaps, but it could be of interest to someone studying that particular subject who stumbles over MetaFilter searching for Ukranian Folkdancing (or to an existing user doing the same).

No policy change in mind, just food for thought. Spit it out if you don't like it, but at least try it out.
posted by Eideteker at 1:20 PM on January 16, 2006

Nothing adds flavor to food for thought like a touch of whim.
posted by Roger Dodger at 1:27 PM on January 16, 2006

I hear and understand:

I'm not really trying to argue something so much as I am looking to say, "Hey, this isn't so bad if it happens from time to time."

I agree with you entirely. I guess my reaction above is to the notion that there might be anything to do about it -- it is certainly not bad when some non-news non-WackyMeme subject gets a multifaceted treatment over time.

I'm not sure there are many who feel otherwise, though -- I can (without cites, of course) recall folks occasionally saying "uh, hey, we talked about this complex and non-mainstream subject before, linky-linky", but no nasty instances of deletions or whatnot in that sort of situation, so I think folks by and large are already digging in to the entree.

Counter-examples are welcome, though, if I'm being too optimistic about this emergent behavior. And, again, I agree that it's a good thing when it happens.

Also, it just now occurred to me that it's probably so damn quiet around here because it's MLK Jr Day. It just now occurred to me because I'm at work. Consequently, I hate you all.
posted by cortex at 1:28 PM on January 16, 2006

Me work too. And hate.
posted by AwkwardPause at 3:09 PM on January 16, 2006

May I just add that this thread sounded a lot more interesting when I thought it was about the "flirtation" on Metafilter.
posted by FYKshun at 6:11 PM on January 16, 2006

? (forgot my question mark at the end. D'oh.)
posted by FYKshun at 6:13 PM on January 16, 2006

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