Proposal - Mefi Mentorship for new users January 20, 2006 3:04 PM   Subscribe

Encouraged by one supportive comment here, I am proposing the MeFi Mentorship program for new users. The idea is to ease new users into the MetaFilter community and avoid the kind of ugliness that happens when newbies don't understand how MetaFilter works. [more inside]
posted by JMOZ to Feature Requests at 3:04 PM (38 comments total)

In slightly more detail- respected MeFi users agree to look over newbies' first few posts (until they feel comfortable) to provide feedback on appropriateness and quality. As an added bonus, it fosters some initial interpersonal relationships between newbies and the community and should - if it doesn't backfire in some horrendous way I'm not foreseeing - prevent the kind of flameouts we've seen lately.

Proposed implementation: established users volunteer (here, perhaps?) to serve as mentors. Matt and Jessamyn can choose among the volunteers who will be best suited for the job. When new users sign up, they are emailed the names and email addresses of the MeFi Mentors and are encouraged to email to propose posts. The MeFi Mentors look at the proposed post and provide some feedback to the users so no one feels like they're learning to swim by being thrown into the pool. If people like the idea, the newbies could even be allowed to include something like [post endorsed by fixedgear] to prevent flaming of initial posts.

Anyhow, that's my proposal. Discuss, debate, argue, volunteer, flame, or implement as you see fit.
posted by JMOZ at 3:04 PM on January 20, 2006

and are encouraged to email to propose posts.

Maybe I'm just cynical, but...they won't do it. Unless it's hard-coded into the system (the way Anonymous AskMe notifes Matt of a new question in the approval queue), new users won't bother emailing anyone to ask if their post is okay. They'll just post.
posted by Gator at 3:08 PM on January 20, 2006

This idea has been suggested by jessamyn and had tons of volunteers. But I dont know that anything came of it.

My own take is that those savvy enough to know how to get help, probably dont need it.
posted by vacapinta at 3:10 PM on January 20, 2006

The Metafilter Mentorship program? Jesus. People don't take themselves that seriously do they? It's a web community with some rules and some guidelines that are (or can be) clearly posted and either followed or not followed by new users.

come on.
posted by xmutex at 3:11 PM on January 20, 2006

Gator, I don't know if that's necessarily true. Not everyone will take advantage of a resource like this, but I know I would have. In fact, I have asked Jessamyn about a post before posting it in effort to avoid being flamed.
posted by amro at 3:11 PM on January 20, 2006

What xmutex said.

Also, I, for one, happen to like the flameouts.
posted by CunningLinguist at 3:14 PM on January 20, 2006

Yes, xmutex, it's just a website, but if it's optional for both parties, some will use it and thus improve the overall quality of the site, however incrementally. It's a win-win.
posted by tweak at 3:16 PM on January 20, 2006

Miyagi: [Miyagi returns from fishing as Daniel is painting the house] Oh, miss spot.
Daniel: What spot? Hey, how come you didn't tell me you were goin' fishing?
Miyagi: You not here when I go.
Daniel: Well, maybe I wanted to go, you ever think of that?
Miyagi: You metafilter training.
Daniel: I'm *what*? I'm bein' your goddamn *slave* is what I'm bein' here man, now c'mon we made a deal here!
Miyagi: So?
Daniel: So? So, you're supposed to teach and I'm supposed to learn! For 4 days I've been bustin' my ass, and haven't learned a goddamn thing!
Miyagi: You learn plenty.
Daniel: I learn plenty, yeah, I learned how to sand your decks maybe. I washed your car, paint your house, paint your fence. I learn plenty!
Miyagi: Ah, not everything is as seems...
Daniel: Oh, bullshit! I'm goin' home, man!
[Daniel turns to walk away]
Miyagi: Daniel-san! Daniel-san!
Daniel: What?
Miyagi: Come here. Make post!
posted by Roger Dodger at 3:17 PM on January 20, 2006

Yeah, amro, there are some who care enough to want to get it right. I guess I should have said that the ones who can't be bothered to lurk for a while, read the guidelines, read the wiki, and get a good, solid feel for MeFi conventions, won't do it. Which is to say, the ones who really need a mentor won't take advantage of it.
posted by Gator at 3:18 PM on January 20, 2006

the ones who really need a mentor won't take advantage of it.

Probably true, but if they have the option and don't exercise it we can feel fully justified in a giant blazecock pile-on. Like tweak said: win-win.
posted by amro at 3:26 PM on January 20, 2006

... avoid the kind of ugliness that happens when newbies don't understand how MetaFilter works...

Or members could refrain from pile ons and fanning flame-outs, and let the admins handle it. Clueless n00bs are responsible for their mistakes, sure, but they're not responsible for the ensuing ugliness that makes the community look like a pack of twelve year olds.

On preview: What Gator said too.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 3:29 PM on January 20, 2006

It would mean extra work, but...maybe hard-coding an approval queue similar to Anon AskMe would be a good way to go, at least for first-time posters? If nothing else, it would pretty much eliminate the $5 front-page spammers.
posted by Gator at 3:39 PM on January 20, 2006

I hope you don't me me and that if you did, that you didn't take my comment as serious. "Impactful" was a consultant-speak buzzword from a recent Ask MeFi thread that I found amusing, 'Mentoring' is equally humorous. Can we have 'shadowing day?'
posted by fixedgear at 3:39 PM on January 20, 2006

This seems a little over the top to me. Maybe it's just the word "mentor," like this website is some sort of professional organization that requires extensive training and active off-site networking to participate in.... I don't know. Maybe just an email list of established members who are willing to look over *anyone's* submissions before they're posted?
posted by occhiblu at 3:39 PM on January 20, 2006

Or, what fixedgear said. (Does that mean I can add "[Approved by fixedgear]" to my post?)
posted by occhiblu at 3:41 PM on January 20, 2006

New member, m/22, looking for mentor. Likes bourbon and rugby. Plz send pic.
posted by Loto at 3:41 PM on January 20, 2006

how about these ideas instead?
posted by puke & cry at 3:43 PM on January 20, 2006

"respected MeFi users ..."

heheh, would that be the single-link proponents or the multi-link proponents? The newsies or the anti-newsfilterites?
posted by mischief at 3:46 PM on January 20, 2006

Loto, how dare you almost steal my username!
posted by Lotto at 3:46 PM on January 20, 2006

Uh, the easiest way to prevent newbie flameouts would be for members to say "You're new, so I'll give you a break" instead of tossing the usual snarks and insults. The problem isn't newbies behaving like newbies it's the way people to respond to such behavior. Besides matt's working on a FAQ and that should help a lot. We could even link to a few meta threads to demonstrate the consequences of not reading the FAQ.
posted by nixerman at 3:47 PM on January 20, 2006

respected MeFi users
Who's respected? quonsar? stavros? I've only made one post and few comments on the blue, but I can recognize a good post when I see one. Why? cause I had to lurk for a few years before mathowie opened sign-ups. I think the comments-before-posting threshold should be increased, so people aren't deceived about what kind of community this is.
posted by muddgirl at 4:04 PM on January 20, 2006

Wow, the new spell-check is nice, but it stripped the italics out of my post! see?
posted by muddgirl at 4:05 PM on January 20, 2006

nixerman gets it. More radically, get rid of metatalk. At least CunningL admits what many members won't.
posted by bardic at 4:21 PM on January 20, 2006

My first candidate for a MeFi metoring program: JMOZ.

We'll cover "How to post something worthwhile to MetaTalk" first.
posted by eyeballkid at 4:28 PM on January 20, 2006

I say let'em fuck up. The rules are pretty plain, and sooner or later we'll have an established FAQ.

I'm still pissed that mushroom thread was allowed to survive.
posted by graventy at 5:02 PM on January 20, 2006

If you're interesting in this "mentoring", then start doing it right now, with the newbies who are "making mistakes". Show a little kindness, give a few suggestions and then move on.

Because ANY sort of official mentoring program will create more flameouts and flamewars then you've ever nightmared about. People are going to want to know exactly who these mentors are and why this person gets to be one and this person doesn't. Soon there'll be calls of cliques, discrimination and the like. the FIRST post that features an "endorsed by so so" tag will probably be the hugest flameout ever seen here, at least until the second such post appears.

There's a HUGE host of issues with doing this, stuff that will echo down through the years and frankly it's just not worth it.

Metafilter is a fairly open community on the internet. Ugliness will happen from time to time, newbs will do stuff that annoys the established community and when it gets to the point, it's up the established community, these socalled respected MeFi members to show what makes the community great.

Cream rises folks, don't get bogged down with the crap.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:25 PM on January 20, 2006

As the Red Cross says:

Swim with a buddy in a supervised area;

Be cool, follow the rules;

Look before you leap;

Think so you don't sink.
posted by StickyCarpet at 7:05 PM on January 20, 2006

fixedgear writes "'Impactful' was a consultant-speak buzzword"
Glad you cleared that up. I remember seeing it before - wherever you wrote it - and gave some consideration to alternately beating you on each earhole an Oxford (Shorter Edition - I have some manners) and Websters dictionaries. I went for a short walk instead.

An actual mentoring program is silly. Tell them on the signup page and/or FAQ that they are free to email any member they want should they need assistance. Or not.
posted by peacay at 7:16 PM on January 20, 2006

Well, I guess this wasn't a good idea after all based on everyone's well-thought comments. I intended it in earnest because I was nervous about posting despite having lurked for quite a while before joining, but there are more problems with this than I realized. I guess that's why it apparently didn't take off when Jessamyn suggested it a year ago as vacapinta pointed out.

I'd like to thank everyone (except eyeballkid) for criticizing the idea rather than me personally.

After seeing the response to my unpopular idea on MeTa, I now agree more strongly with Alvy Ampersand and nixerman.
posted by JMOZ at 7:40 PM on January 20, 2006

next up, how to form proper links.
posted by puke & cry at 8:39 PM on January 20, 2006

I'm sorry, but blogrrrl had a very consumerist attitude (i.e. "I bought it, why isn't it working the way I want it to!"). I don't know if a mentorship would have helped her. All we really need is a proper FAQ.
posted by graventy at 9:00 PM on January 20, 2006

nixerman: "The problem isn't newbies behaving like newbies it's the way people to respond to such behavior."

Amen to that.

Though I think very light 'mentoring' mightn't be a bad thing - perhaps something as simple as an opt-in list of users who've been here for, say, more than a year who are happy to be pestered by new users.
posted by jack_mo at 7:05 AM on January 21, 2006

On two occasions my early posts got criticized, mortified I emailed the critics trying to explain myself.

On both occasions a pleasant exchange followed, including offers to help.

Thanks langaugehat and arse_hat.
posted by StickyCarpet at 9:00 AM on January 21, 2006

Oops, that's languagehat.
posted by StickyCarpet at 12:24 PM on January 21, 2006

MetaFilter: Don't get bogged down with the crap.
posted by Duncan at 12:33 PM on January 21, 2006

Heaven is nice, but Hell is where you find all the really interesting people.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 12:56 PM on January 21, 2006

I don't think this is a worthless idea at all, but if it were ever really FORMALIZED, it would likely be messy, since there's hardly a unified idea of what a good MeFi post looks like.

Perhaps Matt might put up a page somewhere with "People who will look over your post"? Unofficial, no 'endorsed by' tags, just... "these are some good people you could ask about the quality of your post." And if someone wants to take advantage, great, and if not, that's fine too. It's just a resource for people who are worried, not a Hardcore Rule That All Must Follow.

You could even automate it.. use the email addresses of people who A) checked a box that said it was okay, and B) have the most posts. Or, if that's too leaderboard-ish....each day, pick 20 random names out of the pool of people who opted in. Either way, it's self-maintaining, so mathowie won't have to think about it once it's set up.

I also liked the idea of increasing the number of comments before being able to make a FPP. If you increase the investment into an account, people will be more careful, and you'll get fewer scammers.
posted by Malor at 6:01 PM on January 21, 2006

Oh! You should also charge ten bucks, too. :)
posted by Malor at 6:04 PM on January 21, 2006

« Older Proxies for AskMe   |   Why was my AskMe answer to the BSDM bottom/top... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments