Politics-only MeFi? March 22, 2006 7:32 AM   Subscribe

Let's make a new MeFi, just for politics. Perhaps it could be a chunky beige/brown.
posted by I Love Tacos to Feature Requests at 7:32 AM (134 comments total)

Let's not.
posted by mischief at 7:35 AM on March 22, 2006


Like khaki vomit?
posted by jonmc at 7:35 AM on March 22, 2006


I think it's a good idea. I also wish more people would use devoter for this kind of stuff.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 7:38 AM on March 22, 2006


Here you go (embrowning is left as an exercise for the reader).
posted by jack_mo at 7:39 AM on March 22, 2006


You recall, I assume, that this has been discussed in MeTa numerous times. And every time Matt has said no very clearly. In fact, IIRC, last time this was suggested Matt simply said no and closed the thread. Do you expect that by repeated pestering he will reverse his clearly stated and often repeated desicion on the matter?
posted by raedyn at 7:39 AM on March 22, 2006


Like khaki vomit?

Exactly.

Do you expect that by repeated pestering he will reverse his clearly stated and often repeated desicion on the matter?

Not particularly. But maybe he'll eventually think to himself "y'know... those people have a point, the political nonsense has gotten a bit insane and offputting."

It's his site, and his decision. I'm just putting a note in the suggestion box.
posted by I Love Tacos at 7:43 AM on March 22, 2006


Mmmmmmmmmmm yeaaaah... no.

I like metafilter (partially anyhow) because it's a grab bag. We don't need subject-specifc sub-sites. The ones we have make sense in a way that a politics-specific subsite does not.
posted by beerbajay at 7:44 AM on March 22, 2006


jack_mo: what I want is actually the exact opposite of that. I want a blue that has everything but politics and news.
posted by I Love Tacos at 7:44 AM on March 22, 2006


Can we just set DNS to forward politics.metafilter.com --> dailykos.com ?
posted by tiamat at 7:45 AM on March 22, 2006


Why stop there? Let's make a separate Metafilter for every topic under the sun. That way, no one will have to suffer through the HORROR of having to scroll past something they don't want to read.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:45 AM on March 22, 2006 [1 favorite]


I've supported it when it was suggested before, and I support it now.
posted by drezdn at 7:45 AM on March 22, 2006


[shrug] It just seemed to me that a lot of pointless drama could be spared if the political bullshit was held in a special, padded version of the site.
posted by I Love Tacos at 7:45 AM on March 22, 2006


Kinda like a room 101 with your worst fear in it? Mine is pointless bickering.
posted by wheelieman at 7:53 AM on March 22, 2006


Probably wouldn't work, the conflicts there would spill out. It has gotten personal with a number of the combatants, and a faux separation wouldn't help all that much. What probably WOULD help would be to boot some of the more egregious offenders for awhile.

Besides, politics are important at the moment, probably more than in any other time in living memory. The United States is being hijacked. If there's ever been a time for political discussion, tiresome or not, it's now.

It's my theory that the decision to 'not discuss politics at parties' has done more damage to the Union than any other single thing.
posted by Malor at 7:54 AM on March 22, 2006


There is a whole separate domain for people to talk about sports, after all (though the occasional, rare snippet sneaks in over here). And, people can edit their comments over there. And, politicsfilter.com appears to be available. Right there for the taking. Should someone or a group of someones want to step up and take it.
posted by Gator at 7:56 AM on March 22, 2006


How about making it Prussian Blue

and Paris Red
with a dash of quagmire in Persian Gulf?
(All real colors, taken from an exhaustive list here; unfortunately, I can't figure out the HTML marrkup needed to display the colors here.)
posted by orthogonality at 7:57 AM on March 22, 2006


Malor: conflicts don't often spill out into Ask or Projects... and it's rare to see significant conflict outside of MeTa, and political blue.

If it was seperated out, perhaps the admins could enforce stricter moderation of personal attacks, derails, etc (from all sides), tossing in week-long PoFi vacations along with the comment deletions.

Such a system might (longshot, I know), help get some signal out of the noise.
posted by I Love Tacos at 7:59 AM on March 22, 2006


How about we nuke all the political threads instead?
posted by danb at 7:59 AM on March 22, 2006


I try to stay out of the rancorous political threads, and I think that there's no real reason to have a separate MeFi section. I know that other posters I respect feel differently, but my guess is that all of the shit spilling out of political threads would be just as much of an issue if we had a separate section. Would we have to have a separate MeTa section for it as well?
posted by OmieWise at 8:01 AM on March 22, 2006


I guess what I really want is the ability for the admins to throw in week-long politics-only vacations along with comment deletions, and to set a higher standard of moderation.

It just seemed that such a feature would be easy to implement on a seperate site.

Like I've said though, it's Matt's site. If horridly obnoxious infighting is in line with his desires, well good for him.
posted by I Love Tacos at 8:02 AM on March 22, 2006


jack_mo: "Here you go (embrowning is left as an exercise for the reader)."

Because Matt is obviously uninterested in creating a new subsite for political posts, and seemingly equally uninterested in directing political posts to devoter, maybe we can get tag filters implemented at some point? While it's nice to be able to subscribe to certain feeds, it would also be nice to be able to exclude certain feeds from the front page on a per user basis.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 8:02 AM on March 22, 2006


"... exclude certain tags ...", obviously.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 8:04 AM on March 22, 2006


In this thread from just 5 months ago, Gator points out that Matt tersely says no to both news.mefi and poli.mefi.
posted by Plutor at 8:05 AM on March 22, 2006


"Why stop there? Let's make a separate Metafilter for every topic under the sun. That way, no one will have to suffer through the HORROR of having to scroll past something they don't want to read."

People make this [implicit] point all the time here in metatalk and they seem to be wholly unaware that it is self-refuting. Is this a politics thread? TPS, you're over at mecha frequently, as I am, and don't you agree that the enforcement of a certain kind of tone there (explicitly, and by peer pressure) helps maintain a site that is both friendly in general and in particular? If every third post there was a pugnacious partisan rant, the atmosphere of the place would change for the worse.

I don't read the politics and news threads anymore. But here and elsewhere in MeFi I have to deal with many of the consequences of those political threads.

Also, this point about just not reading what you don't like is flawed in that it pretends to be absolute. But there are diminshing returns for skipping more and more and more bad stuff just to find the good stuff.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 8:07 AM on March 22, 2006


I guess what I really want is the ability for the admins to throw in week-long politics-only vacations along with comment deletions

cornfield.metafilter.com?
posted by hangashore at 8:08 AM on March 22, 2006


It's a question of simply not clicking the 'comments' button at the bottom.

Your gripe is with the quality of discourse, not the links themselves which (afaik) are the primary point of metafilter as a community.
posted by slimepuppy at 8:11 AM on March 22, 2006


If http://www.metafilter.com/tags/politics gives you all the posts tagged with 'politics,' how about having http://www.metafilter.com/!tags/politics show you all the posts except those tagged with 'politics'?

There are probably better ways to structure the actual URLs, but the general idea is allowing people to exclude certain tags.
posted by alms at 8:12 AM on March 22, 2006


Indeed, Plutor, but I don't know that Matt has ever discouraged anyone from stepping up and just starting their own politicsfilter.com that he wouldn't need to bother with modding himself, like sportsfilter.com. It might not work, but then again, it might, if the right people were involved.

See also this comment, as long as we're diggin' in the archives for fun stuff.
posted by Gator at 8:14 AM on March 22, 2006


TPS, you're over at mecha frequently, as I am, and don't you agree that the enforcement of a certain kind of tone there (explicitly, and by peer pressure) helps maintain a site that is both friendly in general and in particular?

Metafilter is not Metachat, the same way it's not Slashdot, Digg, or Livejournal. I like them both just the way they are. And this is from someone that does skip a lot of the political stuff. I like knowing it's there, in case I'm interested in reading the debate of an issue.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:18 AM on March 22, 2006 [1 favorite]


TPS: You might want stronger moderation of the political stuff, if you actually read it.

There's a lot of viciousness in those threads that successfully quashes my desire to enter most of the discussions. I'm sure I'm not alone.
posted by I Love Tacos at 8:20 AM on March 22, 2006


jack_mo: what I want is actually the exact opposite of that. I want a blue that has everything but politics and news

Oop, sorry - the chunky brown-ness of the request should've tipped me off.

Would it be possible for some sort of special MetaFilter RSS-slurping thing to swoop down on the site, running through every metafilter.com/tags/*/rss feed, filtering out cases where * = bush, politics, newsfilter, then rustling up a Metafilter-lookalike website featuring all the non-political content, with links to comment threads on the real MetaFilter? ie. since all the content is there for syndication, with mathowie's blessing, could it not be selectively syndicated? (I can faintly imagine how this might be done with something like MagpieRSS but don't know enough PHP to actually do it...)
posted by jack_mo at 8:21 AM on March 22, 2006


jack_mo,

Kind of like a tag-filtering based LoFi?
posted by Bugbread at 8:25 AM on March 22, 2006


Yes yes yes. Right now, a new visitor to MeFi would understandably think this is a political blog. If they decide to become a user, it is to participate in a political blog. And as they join, MeFi is in fact becoming a political blog.

You don't want a political section? How about a new section bestoftheweb.metafilter.com?
posted by LarryC at 8:27 AM on March 22, 2006


Gator: "Indeed, Plutor, but I don't know that Matt has ever discouraged anyone from stepping up and just starting their own politicsfilter.com that he wouldn't need to bother with modding himself, like sportsfilter.com. It might not work, but then again, it might, if the right people were involved."

I fail to disagree wholeheartedly. I think that politicsfilter.com or whatever would be, in fact, welcomed by Matt, but I don't think it would do much without the kind of strong enforcement that Matt indicates (in the thread you linked) that he's tired of brandishing. People post political things to MeFi (instead of GTOB) because there's an audience. PoliFi would be a chicken-and-the-egg problem that might not do any better than that European Metafiltery blog that came and went last year (wish I remembered the name).
posted by Plutor at 8:29 AM on March 22, 2006


I don't think I could have made that more abstruse if I had tried. Sorry.
posted by Plutor at 8:30 AM on March 22, 2006


Plutor is right. See devoter, to which I linked in my earlier comment. Despite being well-designed, possessing a commenting system similar to MeFi, and an obviously interested admin in JCA, there is no audience there. As a result, nobody uses it.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 8:31 AM on March 22, 2006


Wake me when there's a porno.metafilter.com.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 8:33 AM on March 22, 2006


monju_bosatsu : "See devoter, to which I linked in my earlier comment."

I think that is the most depressing site I've seen this year. Really.
posted by Bugbread at 8:35 AM on March 22, 2006


Ahhhhh guys, let's make devoter the new politics.metafilter.com. Just because it's said to see 0 comments on all those little entries.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:37 AM on March 22, 2006 [1 favorite]


I understood ya Plutor (and I think you're thinking of Viewropa). And yes, redirecting the poli traffic over to a new site would take some effort on the part of Matt and Jess, along the lines of "This post was deleted for the following reason: Not best of the web, please take it to politicsfilter." It'd cause a kerfuffle, but I'm (oddly, for me) optimistic in thinking that if it were applied consistently enough for a period of time, the traffic would start directing itself there of its own accord. All would hinge on that "if," though.
posted by Gator at 8:38 AM on March 22, 2006


I did actually let out a little sympathetic "awh!" when I saw '0 comments' on them, post after post.
posted by slimepuppy at 8:39 AM on March 22, 2006


"y'know... those people have a point, the political nonsense has gotten a bit insane and offputting."

So let's give them their own private island!
Negative reinforcement will not solve anything.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:39 AM on March 22, 2006


I want to know the political opinion of those who visit Metafilter for things other than political discussion. I don't know if a politics.metafilter would encourage or discourage broader, more civil, participation - but my fear is that it politics.metafilter would become a wasteland left to those that want to spit and claw at one another. At least in the blue there is a chance for a thread to lead to interesting discussion.
posted by mullacc at 8:44 AM on March 22, 2006


I think MetaFilter suffers from the broken windows problem. Crap comments are allowed to stay, so people feel it's OK to contribute more crap comments. I think the real way to solve the issue is to have someone go through the threads that are clearly political and delete comments like a motherfucker. If it's even the slightest bit questionable, delete it.
posted by chunking express at 8:46 AM on March 22, 2006


I know that Matt's had a long-term aversion to splitting the site off, but in the case of political threads, perhaps it is finally time to do something about it. I think Larryc's comment is what pushed me over the edge. While I admit to battling it out in my share of political threads (this is still the smartest online discussion board for political threads, and the svn ratio and the troll/nontroll ratio are amazing) I definitely didn't join this site to talk politics, and it scares me to think that people probably do.

I picture a politics.metafilter where all political threads start out, with the most interesting ones being modded/voted/some combo to the top.

Yes it's radical since this site works fine how it is, but if there is truth to the political feedback loop that LarryC describes, maybe its time has come.
posted by cell divide at 8:50 AM on March 22, 2006


replace "to the top" with "into the blue"
posted by cell divide at 8:51 AM on March 22, 2006


I think the real way to solve the issue is to have someone go through the threads that are clearly political and delete comments like a motherfucker. If it's even the slightest bit questionable, delete it.

I really think that week-long vacations need to be included with the deleted comments. Otherwise, there's no strong incentive to behave well, and the whole thing just creates a lot of work for Matt.

If nastiness routinely lead to forced vacations, people would be forced to approach the presentation of their thoughts from a different, and more amenable angle.
posted by I Love Tacos at 8:56 AM on March 22, 2006


I really think that week-long vacations need to be included with the deleted comments. Otherwise, there's no strong incentive to behave well, and the whole thing just creates a lot of work for Matt.

I was thinking that the fact your comments don't show up in the blue again and again might be enough of a deterent. But yeah, 1-week time outs or something similar may work as well. I think the problem is that you can be a jerk here, and it doesn't really matter all that much.
posted by chunking express at 8:58 AM on March 22, 2006


my fear is that it politics.metafilter would become a wasteland left to those that want to spit and claw at one another. - mullacc

It's my impression that is exactly what some people are hoping for.
posted by raedyn at 9:12 AM on March 22, 2006


I really hate this idea. Here's why (excerpted from the other major discussion of this idea here.):

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 9:14 AM on March 22, 2006


Very good analysis, shmegegge.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:16 AM on March 22, 2006 [1 favorite]


Ideally, I would wish that newsfilter and/or politicsfilter shitflinging festivals were actually MODERATED, the way other threads are, but jessamyn made it clear in the parisparamus thread below that they don't intend on even reading those threads, much less paying enough attention to them to trim the crap out.

It's for this reason that I'd adjust my statment above where I said, "People complain about inconsistent moderation of the site, but i disagree," to instead say "People complain about inconsistent moderation of the site, and there is some, but nothing is going to be done about it." It turns out that the current administration method is to police only the threads that need it least.

for those who don't like link-clicky:

The reason I think that political threads go so badly in my own opinion is that mathowie and I can barely stand to read them and they become Autonomous Mad Max Zones where all the craven political wankery can burn itself out.

awesome.
posted by shmegegge at 9:20 AM on March 22, 2006


I've always said I will never build, maintain, and pay for a site I would never read, and I have a strong feeling a politics area would be something I would avoid like the plague. So it won't be happening anytime soon.

The alternatives are do nothing, delete more crass political ax grinding threads, or "the real way to solve the issue is to have someone go through the threads that are clearly political and delete comments like a motherfucker. If it's even the slightest bit questionable, delete it."

It's easy to rank how much work each option is. Option 1, no work at all aside from having to deal with clusterfucks in MetaTalk and users acting stupid shitting all over the site as they argue. Option 2 is a bit more work, and means insomnia_lj and Postroad are posting to MetaTalk or emailing me asking why their latest Bush Is Teh Suck thread is gone. Option 3 would require a vast monkey army to man the keyboards, bringing real, heavy handed, probably inconsistent (I can't be perfect, nor can my monkey army agree on every deletion) moderation to the site. The workload for that option is insane and out of the question.

I felt like deleting a couple lame political posts yesterday and my intuition was right, so I think I'll make an effort to ax posts that are just boring everyday news about the presidency. That doesn't mean all political posts are banned, but certainly there are minor news items that become hotbeds of political fighting here we could do without.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 9:22 AM on March 22, 2006


Excellent summary shmeg. One thing it points up is the need for some way to determine click-through on posts, either to the post itself, or to the link(s).

Cool web stuff doesn't always merit discussion, even if the link is fantastic, and posting [this is good] gets tiresome. A click-through counter could serve as encouragement to those who post fine links, but don't get a lot of comments. It would be a shame to lose something the community values, just because that value is more difficult to quantify.
posted by frykitty at 9:24 AM on March 22, 2006


I think the problem is that you can be a jerk here, and it doesn't really matter all that much.

Agreed. Current policy is that if you're a jerk, you create a headache for Matt and Jessemyn, but nothing else happens.

Without some sort of timeout, there's no disincentive for bad behaviour.

If Wakko, Paris, Matteo and I Love Tacos got bitchslapped every time they stepped out of line, they'd have a lot more reason to aim for fact and eloquence, and to pass up the easy targets.

A deleted comment, though... who cares?
posted by I Love Tacos at 9:26 AM on March 22, 2006


mathowie: some people in this post have made me think that what I want isn't actually another site...

I think I want the moderation to also come with an user-felt penalty. I think the lack of a user penalty means that we have no good reason to behave well, and this leads to extra work for you guys.

If you routinely (and possibly unfairly) give a mess of people week long timeouts after they post inflammatory things... then eventually the middle should run towards sanity.
posted by I Love Tacos at 9:29 AM on March 22, 2006


Plutor: People post political things to MeFi (instead of GTOB) because there's an audience.

Ay, there's the rub. If there were a political section of the site, would people use it? It is true that Matt has vetoed politics.metafilter before. But it is equally true that he has often indicated a distaste for political posts and wishes there were fewer of them. So making repeated political posts is already an act of bad faith. Would the axe grinders play by the new rules? I think they would resist strongly, but in then end it could happen if Matt were behind it.
posted by LarryC at 9:30 AM on March 22, 2006


If you routinely (and possibly unfairly) give a mess of people week long timeouts after they post inflammatory things... then eventually the middle should run towards sanity.

There is something to that. I think Paris and wakko deserve some time off for directing their first comments in a thread towards others ("fuck you all..."and "I think you are spineless and shortsighted...").
posted by mathowie (staff) at 9:32 AM on March 22, 2006


The problem ISN'T the political threads.

Sure, insults may fly in those threads, but nobody is posting in them who isn't interested in that sort of drama. And people who hate "newsfilter" don't even read those threads.

Sticks and stones.

The problem is when somebody decides to take it outside of the political thread, by complaining via email or worse, posting a call-out in MetaTalk.

This thread came up, I think because ParisParamus posted a call-out: he wanted people banned after they made fun of him after he, ParisParamus, opened with the un-provoked comment "I still support the War, and I think you are spineless and shortsighted for not."


The solution is simple: dump the whiney-ass call-out threads.

If there's a real, serious problem beyond "wah wah my feelings got hurted", email Jessamyn. By real problem, I mean somebody publishes your address in the thread and vows to show up at your door and kill your cat.

Otherwise, if you can't stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen. and don't go crying to Matt.
posted by orthogonality at 9:35 AM on March 22, 2006


Hey Matt, thanks for running a very, very enjoyable website.
posted by sohcahtoa at 9:38 AM on March 22, 2006


orthogonality : "Sure, insults may fly in those threads, but nobody is posting in them who isn't interested in that sort of drama."

That's almost a tautology. It doesn't indicate, however, that there aren't people who want to post in them but don't, because they aren't interested in that sort of drama.

But, by your logic, there should also be no problem with whiney-ass call-out threads, because nobody is commenting in them that isn't interested in that sort of drama.
posted by Bugbread at 9:39 AM on March 22, 2006


Matt: Is giving timeouts an automated process? If you have to manually ban the person, send them an email, and mark your calendar for the day to let them back in--I can see what a lot of work that would be. But if you click on a username and get a pull-down menu ("Timeout for [] 1 [] 2 [] 3 weeks, generate email message linking to this comment.") you could enforce civility more efficiently.
posted by LarryC at 9:39 AM on March 22, 2006


sohcahtoa : "Hey Matt, thanks for running a very, very enjoyable website."

Yeah, that too. Sorry, been a while since I've expressed my gratitude on that point. Thanks, matt.
posted by Bugbread at 9:39 AM on March 22, 2006


I, for one, would stand in line to volunteer to be in a vast monkey army, especially if it meant that MeFi would be a better place.
posted by Plutor at 9:41 AM on March 22, 2006


I should note I have no desire to see ParisParamus or anyone else banned.

I think the punishment should fit the crime: if Paris opens with an un-provoked slam ("I still support the War, and I think you are spineless and shortsighted for not"), let Paris suffer the response to that, that is, a bunch of people telling him he's an idiot. There was no need for Matt or Jessamyn to get involved until Paris decided that others should be banned for responding to Paris's provocations.

"The best antidote to bad speech is more speech."
posted by orthogonality at 9:42 AM on March 22, 2006


Let's make a new MeFi, just for [insert topic I don't like or understand or, even better, both]. Perhaps it could be a chunky beige/brown.

etc, etc, etc

interestingly enough, I find Flash games and youtube.com links boring and useless and well-deserving of a chunky beige/brown shit color. but then, a lot of people here like them.

and, see, those posts certainly start interesting discussions, like "hey look at the funny Flash chipmunk", or, "hahahaha funny GoogleVideo of Japanese old men dressed up as Pikachu thx for the laugh ahahaha"

so, clearly some people here don't like politics (a topic that, of course, doesn't touch their daily lives). and, well, mentioning that this is a time of war kind of ruins one's appetite for the next "New Apple Overpriced Thing" post. but I'm afraid that I Love Tacos will have to learn to live with the fact that, as others have mentioned, this is a grab bag. God knows I skip the Flash and GoogleVideo posts. it's not that difficult, really.


*bitchslaps I Love Tacos*
posted by matteo at 9:44 AM on March 22, 2006


Option 2 is a bit more work, and means insomnia_lj and Postroad are posting to MetaTalk or emailing me asking why their latest Bush Is Teh Suck thread is gone.

Postroad posting to MetaTalk ? Oh, puh-leeze.

and no threads and 1 comment to MetaTalk

That one comment was epochal as it was.

So, c'mon... has Postroad ever emailed you about a deleted post of his ?
posted by y2karl at 9:48 AM on March 22, 2006


matteo, I don't think I Love Tacos is advocating this because he finds politics boring or useless.
posted by Bugbread at 9:49 AM on March 22, 2006


interestingly enough, I find Flash games and youtube.com links boring and useless and well-deserving of a chunky beige/brown shit color. but then, a lot of people here like them.

Which is why I think that Matt should enable some sort of tag exclusion on a per user basis.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 9:49 AM on March 22, 2006


Is giving timeouts an automated process?

No, it's not, and it is done exactly as you described, by hand. I never thought I'd see the day that I'd even need to program an automated time-out feature, which is unfortunate.

I gave wakko and Paris a week off just now, and added some text below mefi comment boxes to reinforce a very basic minimal guideline I hope people can stick to.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 9:49 AM on March 22, 2006


So, c'mon... has Postroad ever emailed you about a deleted post of his ?

Almost every time.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 9:50 AM on March 22, 2006


bugbread writes "But, by your logic, there should also be no problem with whiney-ass call-out threads, because nobody is commenting in them that isn't interested in that sort of drama."


Except that the whiny-ass call-out threads usually have as their object a) convincing Matt to punish somebody with a banishment or b) arousing the whole community to punish somebody by condemning his actions.

And frankly, that's ridiculous. The beauty of "teh intarweb" is that, except in rare cases, there's no actually harm possible. No one loses anything except reputation. As Thomas Jefferson wrote (of freedom of religion allowing diverse belief) "it neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg."

If there's no harm and no loss, why is there any need for punishment or sanction?

And it's the call-outs, I think, more than the actual thread, that raise blood pressure, precisely because people are baying for (or fearing) "justice".

Cancel the call-outs for a month, Matt, and see what happens.
posted by orthogonality at 9:51 AM on March 22, 2006


orthogonality : "Except that the whiny-ass call-out threads usually have as their object a) convincing Matt to punish somebody with a banishment or b) arousing the whole community to punish somebody by condemning his actions. "

Ok, that's a valid difference.
posted by Bugbread at 9:55 AM on March 22, 2006


so, clearly some people here don't like politics (a topic that, of course, doesn't touch their daily lives).

I think you are either missing the point, or being very disengenuous. Many folks in this thread and other PoliFilter-related MeTas have said that they are interested in politics and would love to participate in a good discussion. Unfortunately, the level of discourse in those threads is usually shit-poor, so why should we bother? It's the behavior of the usual suspects in those threads that turn people off, not the subject matter.

Just because we aren't willing to get into shouting matches and namecalling doesn't mean we're apathetic head-burying ostriches.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:00 AM on March 22, 2006


Or what bugbread said in one sentence, six comments up
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:05 AM on March 22, 2006


Matteo: Count me in among the MeFites who are very political but don't see the use of the political threads on Metafilter. No head in the sand here. In fact, one of my objections to the axe-grinding is that posting on the internet has become a substitute for real political action for a substantial portion of the left in the United States. For every leftist FPP, the theocons take over another school board.
posted by LarryC at 10:10 AM on March 22, 2006


Mathowie: Well-- part of of the problem seems to be that you already aren't reading a significant amount of metafilter, and I don't blame you.

I like the newsfilter threads a lot of the time, and I've been guilty of posting them, but if you guys are so turned off by political threads that you don't want to read them: Just delete them. I'm sure people will complain about it, but it's your site, and imo, your judgement has been very sound about what's worth keeping around.
posted by empath at 10:16 AM on March 22, 2006


And frankly, that's ridiculous. The beauty of "teh intarweb" is that, except in rare cases, there's no actually harm possible. No one loses anything except reputation. As Thomas Jefferson wrote (of freedom of religion allowing diverse belief) "it neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg."

this argument is like walking into a toys r us and saying "the problem with this store is that it sells all these toys."

I know you're aware of the way mefi and meta were designed, so why on earth are you proposing a totally different site dynamic?

Further, your position that a lack of real world harm on the site means nothing should be moderated or punished is patently absurd. The site operates on the principle that we should be able to enjoy ourselves here without having to deal with malicious intent ruining that enjoyment. Maybe it's not possible to eliminate or even distinguish all malicious intent, but that doesn't change the fact that people will still be upset by this or that thing said by this or that user, and will want the ability to express their outrage and frustration. Doing so all over the blue all the time poisons the blue and therefore picks the pocket of users trying to enjoy the blue. So that outrage and frustration is supposed to be channeled into meta. that's its design, along with bug reports and pony requests. if we eliminated callouts for a month, you'd see too much bile all over the rest of the site, and some asshole trolling a paricular askme question that doesn't have enough people reading it to flag it too much will get away with it because there wasn't a place to alert an admin through something other than flagging.

You may be perfectly fine with shitting all over threads every time you think someone is being stupid or offensive, but you might be the only person who actually WANTS that to be the case.
posted by shmegegge at 10:17 AM on March 22, 2006


added some text below mefi comment boxes to reinforce a very basic minimal guideline I hope people can stick to.
posted by mathowie at 11:49 AM CST on March 22


That's a nice step. I'd like to see it more prominent, though it looks like you would prefer it to be noninvasive. I think if it was more prominent and made clear that continual harassing of other users will result in negative consequences to the user's accounts, then some of the people who argue personalities and attack the person will maybe get the point they need to stop.
posted by dios at 10:31 AM on March 22, 2006


shmegegge writes "I know you're aware of the way mefi and meta were designed, so why on earth are you proposing a totally different site dynamic?"

I'm not. There are eight categories for MetaTalk posts; only one ("etiquette/policy") sort-kinda fits the idea of a callout, and it's not a close fit.


shmegegge: "if we eliminated callouts for a month, you'd see too much bile all over the rest of the site,"

But the whole point of the call-out is to increase bile and anger: if shmeg is angry at Mefite X, it's just shmeg who is angry. Until the call-out, that is: then shmeg tries to persuade his online buddies, Mefites in general, and ultimately the fellow with the ban-hammer, to understand and empathize with and share shmeg's bile and anger.


shmegegge: "but you might be the only person who actually WANTS that to be the case."

shmeg, you tend to over-generalizing, and I think that detracts from, and distracts you from, what can otherwise be cogent arguments on your part. (I bet you'll grow out of it, with time.) I might be the only person, I might not be. I don't know and neither do you.
posted by orthogonality at 10:32 AM on March 22, 2006

maybe we can get tag filters implemented at some point? While it's nice to be able to subscribe to certain feeds, it would also be nice to be able to exclude certain feeds from the front page on a per user basis 1
This would be relatively easy to implement for Firefox on the client side, but it would take either a bookmarklet, plugin or server side technology to do for IE.

It's a three part process to do client side:

1) Index each new thread by tag. Store the time stamp of the post (Ignore the fact that tags can be edited or deleted. It's a fundamental problem solved by creating load and traffic or by being done server side.)

2) Create a script that is called by some JavaScript to get a list of the last thread ids that, for the time frame of the page being viewed, contain the tags that you wish not to view.

3) Create a little Greasemonkey script, based off any of the numerous kill file scripts to simply hide these threads.

It's not a difficult or time consuming task, but one that may see little use, which is precisely why I have not whipped something up. If there's enough interest, though, I'd be happy to do so.
posted by sequential at 10:35 AM on March 22, 2006


how... smug.

either way, callouts absolutely fit the etiquette classification, without any problem whatsoever. further, your generalization about what people are attempting to achieve via callouts is inaccurate, at best. Most callouts are an alert, not a thesis.
posted by shmegegge at 10:36 AM on March 22, 2006


That looks very nice, matt - doesn't stick out like a sore thumb and blends in with the other widgets on the comment box.

Also, a question - are you totally removing deleted AskMe threads now instead of treating them the same way as deleted MeFi Blue threads? what brought on the change, if so?
posted by By The Grace of God at 10:41 AM on March 22, 2006


are you totally removing deleted AskMe threads now instead of treating them the same way as deleted MeFi Blue threads?

No, why?
posted by mathowie (staff) at 10:55 AM on March 22, 2006


Also, a question - are you totally removing deleted AskMe threads now instead of treating them the same way as deleted MeFi Blue threads?

Good lord, I hope not. That would be a step backward. There's nothing worse than "Nothing to see here, move along."
posted by languagehat at 11:00 AM on March 22, 2006


On non-preview: Oh, good.
posted by languagehat at 11:00 AM on March 22, 2006


Matt, I was using the greasemonkey script that shows deleted threads on the Blue and it showed deleted threads on AskMe. I clicked and got the 'nothing to see here.' Must be a bug in the script.. Apologies for the confusion.
posted by By The Grace of God at 11:08 AM on March 22, 2006


It's an old bug. Those are unapproved anon posts the extension is thinking are deleted.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 11:11 AM on March 22, 2006


aaah. Thanks for the speedy response, matt!
posted by By The Grace of God at 11:12 AM on March 22, 2006


Orth: I don't want to put words in matt's mouth, but stop and consider for a moment how this site is designed and how he's explained why it's designed as it is. No threading. Names after comments. A big part of what makes mefi mefi is that we're forced to live with each other. Your solution that anyone that is unhappy with anything "just ignore it" flies right in the face of the simple fact that mefi is inherently one, big, noisy shared public space, not small conference rooms that are reserved. That mefi has this character is why a lot of people come here...probably including many of those who participate heavily in current events threads.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 11:17 AM on March 22, 2006

So, c'mon... has Postroad ever emailed you about a deleted post of his ?

Almost every time.
So, it wasn't a bad example after all. Well, that is mildly interesting.
posted by y2karl at 11:22 AM on March 22, 2006



Which is why I think that Matt should enable some sort of tag exclusion on a per user basis.


I don't know how much work that would be for Matt, but I think this would be a great idea.
posted by juv3nal at 11:40 AM on March 22, 2006


Ethereal Bligh writes "A big part of what makes mefi mefi is that we're forced to live with each other. "


Take a look at who makes call-outs, and ask yourself if those folks are innocent bystanders, or the gang members hoping to get the cops to take out their rivals for them.

I mean, it's necessarily a (your) judgment call who's a knife-fighter and who is not, but I think you'll find that call-outs complaining about political threads or comments are almost invariably made by the same people who get into the bare-knuckled political rumbles.
posted by orthogonality at 12:00 PM on March 22, 2006


This request targets a specific subset of MeFites - people who read the political threads, but don't like the way they turn out.

Honestly, I don't have any idea what is going through these peoples' heads. We live at a very politically divisive time. Of course political discussions will be rancorous. Also, many MeFites haven't yet found a way to ignore obvious trolling attempts, and this only adds to the mayhem.

Political discussions on MeFi are what they are. You can either love them, hate them, or do what most people do and ignore them.
posted by Afroblanco at 12:03 PM on March 22, 2006


Afroblanco : "Honestly, I don't have any idea what is going through these peoples' heads. We live at a very politically divisive time. Of course political discussions will be rancorous."

Yes, and folks want to minimize that. The US is at war in another country. Of course civilians will be killed. People want to minimize that. People with money have power. Of course they will try to abuse that power. People want to minimize that.
Nobody here is surprised that these discussions are rancorous playground shouting matches (ok, maybe someone is surprised, but I expect the number of folks is small).
posted by Bugbread at 12:20 PM on March 22, 2006


Sorry, I should say "Some people want to keep the political discussions, and thus minimize the rancor. Some people want to get rid of the political discussions, and thus get rid of much of the rancor. And some people want to do the first, but don't believe it would work, and therefore also support the second."
posted by Bugbread at 12:22 PM on March 22, 2006


I've made one callout in my time here, to my recollection, and it was regarding a political thread. I almost always stay out of political threads, because the level of discussion is so universally low and I just don't contain my anger well enough to engage in them civilly after a point. Nevertheless, there was a thread that I called out, and it was political.

Am I someone who gets into bare-knuckled political rumbles by staying out of political threads? I would be surprised as hell if that were the case. Most threads I can recall were called out by third parties, unless they were A_R style flameouts or paris' pissing. Sure there's room for abuse, but that's what admin moderation is there for. There's still a need to call crappy posts and comments out.
posted by shmegegge at 12:24 PM on March 22, 2006


bugbread wrote:
matteo, I don't think I Love Tacos is advocating this because he finds politics boring or useless.

Correct. Quite the opposite.

mathowie wrote:
I think Paris and wakko deserve some time off ...

Fantastic. Here's to hoping that the routine use of timeouts can help change the tone of the various discussions.

Sure, we're never going to agree about everything (or possibly anything), but that should make the threads interesting... not unbearable.

Thank you, mathowie.
posted by I Love Tacos at 1:10 PM on March 22, 2006


OK so forget what I said earlier. It's true that a small amount of pruning will be an improvement. I was just terrified at the prospect of people joining the site just to be political thread warriors and posters, when as much as I do enjoy some of the political arguments, the site is about a lot more then that.
posted by cell divide at 4:01 PM on March 22, 2006


It looks like finally there's some movement here, so I won't bother with pointing towards the wikipedia entry on the moderation style at SA again. The two or three times I've done it before, Matt had no comment, and I'll assume that's not going to change.

Someone (I think) suggested upthread that punitive measures be handed out more freely, and I find myself agreeing, completely.

I reckon that any of the other shit that Matt's currently working on for the site be dropped for the moment, and that he put in place some automation for probations. Comment deleted? 3 day probation. Thread deleted (because it was clearly against the guidelines)? 5 day. Repeat offender? Double it each time. Endless trollery? Hellban. Sockpuppet account used during a probation? Permaban all the user's accounts.

You fuckin' A that the signal to noise ration would skyrocket quicksmart, as the (relatively speaking) smallish number of bad actors quickly got the picture.

Matt doesn't want to treat users here like children, but there are many who behave that way, and lollipops and rainbows are fine, but their behaviour degrades the quality of the community for everyone. Some people don't understand anything less than a smack in the head.

In other words, Matt focusing on pruning threads and comments is attacking the symptom, not the cause. The cause is users behaving badly. Make consequences for bad behaviour, and it goes away.

It's pretty basic, really.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:24 PM on March 22, 2006


So, c'mon... has Postroad ever emailed you about a deleted post of his ?

Almost every time.


That's a lotta email.
posted by justgary at 4:25 PM on March 22, 2006


ration

A bit more: I'm talking about not only making the community better for all users except bad actors here, but actually lightening the moderation load for Matt and Jessamyn as the Noisemongers start to understand that there are consequences for being shitheads.

Two or three years ago, I would have argued strongly against this kind of thing. Now I see it as one of very few sustainable ways to get out of the swamp, and keep from sinking deeper.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:28 PM on March 22, 2006


I'm with stavros on this, although the last thing I'd want for mefi is for it to resemble the SA forums in any other way than this.
posted by shmegegge at 4:43 PM on March 22, 2006


Agreed.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:44 PM on March 22, 2006


stavros: I do think that automatically enforced temp-bans would help lighten the admin load, enormously.

In all honesty, I think it is a much better idea than seperating the politics entirely. And I'm saying this as somebody who has had a comment deleted (and thus would've been temp-banned).
posted by I Love Tacos at 5:35 PM on March 22, 2006


Oh, and if people like to e-mail asking "why?", I suggest a form letter saying:

Dear ____:

Thank you for taking for taking the time to express your opinion about Mefi Post 52906. I have voted no on 52906, as I believe that it is bad for MeFi, and bad for the Internet.

Don't forget to vote Haughey in '06!

Your humble dictator,
Matt Haughey
posted by I Love Tacos at 5:41 PM on March 22, 2006


Fantastic suggestions, Stavros.
posted by LarryC at 6:32 PM on March 22, 2006


What the wise chicken said.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 7:22 PM on March 22, 2006


When you wish upon a star,
makes no difference who you are.
Keep the politics afar,
and dreams come true.
posted by furtive at 7:32 PM on March 22, 2006


Comment deleted? 3 day probation. Thread deleted (because it was clearly against the guidelines)? 5 day. Repeat offender? Double it each time.

I can see the sense of that, but before going that far, how about simply adding an automated feature to notify people when they have a comment or a thread deleted? Or an automated feature to notify people when their comments get flagged?

I know that Jessamyn tells people when she deletes their threads (at least she's told me), but I have no idea how many of my comments have been deleted because they were "inappropriate" in some way. I just don't go back to read my own comments, and so I would have no idea if they've disappeared. And I also have no idea which comments of mine have gotten flagged and good, bad, ugly, or breaking the guidelines.

There are mechanisms now for providing feedback to the admins, and mechanisms for the admins to cleanup messes. But there is no good feedback mechanism for people to understand the quality of their own posts. The only way someone knows that a comment was disliked is if someone calls them out on it publicly, and that, unfortunately, is more likely to lead to an escalation of hostilities rather than an improvement in behavior.

I'd love to have something added to the "my comments" page which tallied up the flags that my comments have gotten. It would be a kick to see "best answers" but it would also be interesting and educational to see if people were flagging my posts and comments as newsfilters or derail or breaking the guidelines, etc. That could go a long way towards educating people about proper behavior here.

So do that, pony please, and also add another flag which is "personal attack". I'm never sure whether to flag personal attacks "noise" or "derail" or "offensive" because they are all three. But they happen often enough that they should have their own category.
posted by alms at 8:40 PM on March 22, 2006


I can see the sense of that, but before going that far, how about simply adding an automated feature to notify people when they have a comment or a thread deleted? Or an automated feature to notify people when their comments get flagged?

Well, from my perspective, because that wouldn't be punitive, and, as I mentioned before, I think punishment (trivial punishment, but punishment nonetheless) is necessary to encourage some users to behave better.

Matt assumes the best of people, or used to, at least, and while I respect that, and I don't exactly expect the worst of them, it's clear (to me, anyway) that deletions as a moderation policy are not addressing the root issue, and are therefore a bandaid rather than a cure.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:59 PM on March 22, 2006


What's so funny 'bout... Peace, Love, & Understanding?

also what the wonderchicken said.
posted by Dreamghost at 9:19 PM on March 22, 2006


I've got an idea. Let's move the politics threads to their own page!
posted by fleacircus at 9:38 PM on March 22, 2006


Devoter looks pretty cool. In fact it looks like exactly what I Love Tacos is looking for. I've signed up.

Devoter.com -- It's like Metafilter, only much more political. (Is that possible?)
posted by russilwvong at 11:07 PM on March 22, 2006


I also agree with stavros' idea... with a couple of tweaks. (hopefully this wouldn't be any harder to code.)

I think the first time you get a post or a thread deleted, you should get a warning; subsequent offenses would result in tempbans. The double-each-time idea is a good one. But there should also be some kind of 'aging-out' period, where a deletion from, say, a year ago, doesn't count anymore.

We are human, and we do make mistakes. It has been shown recently that we are NOT good at correctly determining the tone of written communication. Something that was written in a lighthearted spirit could easily be misconstrued, or a sinister motive read in where there was none. It would be easy to end up autobanning very good users.

A full history-and-aging-out of old deleted posts would take a table and a maintenance job, and would suck. You could do it, instead, with three fields: number of banned comments, number of banned FPPs, and date of last offense. Very rough pseudocode:

if this offense_type_count == 0: set count to 1, issue warning, return;
(else)
if ( last_warning_date < (today - timeout period)): reset this offense count to 1. Set other offense count to 0. Issue warning. Return.
(else)
Time to issue a ban: Issue tempban of (offense_type_base_days * (2 ^ offense_type_count)); send ban letter. Increment this offense type count by one. Return;


In other words, if someone doesn't blow it for long enough, all their counters are reset. And you don't have to make a whole table or keep any kind of detailed history... just the number of times they blew it, and the last time it happened. And you have no extra ongoing maintenance burden... the cleanup, if any, is done the next time someone gets a post or FPP removed.

I also really like alms' idea of being able to see flag totals on your own posts (but not other people's). That would be a good feedback mechanism.
posted by Malor at 11:40 PM on March 22, 2006


Malor writes "I think the first time you get a post or a thread deleted, you should get a warning; subsequent offenses would result in tempbans. The double-each-time idea is a good one.... [But w]e are human, and we do make mistakes. It has been shown recently that we are NOT good at correctly determining the tone of written communication. Something that was written in a lighthearted spirit could easily be misconstrued, or a sinister motive read in where there was none. It would be easy to end up autobanning very good users. "

If people are bad at determining tone, then so are Matt and Jessamyn (as they are people). as you note, good users would be autobanned, especially of Matt or Jessamyn were in a hurry and didn't read the whole thread and appreciate its nuances.

Worse, autobanning would take away the flavor of the site; everyone would self-censor, and that would lead to bland, safe comments. sure, sometimes people get insulted now, but sometimes that results in funny or memorable comments. (E.g., dios's comment to me about growing out my hair and carry a sign warning the end was near was insulting but funny.)
posted by orthogonality at 11:56 PM on March 22, 2006


dios's comment did not get deleted.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:10 AM on March 23, 2006


That said, auto-probations might be a bit harsh, of course. But I do think a middle ground between the status quo now and OMG INTERNET TOTALITARIANISM could be found.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:33 AM on March 23, 2006


mr stavroswonderchicken has some very good ideas. There are some people, even in this thread who are more part of the problem than part of the solution. A quick smack on the side of the head quickly concentrates the mind in such cases. Banned for three days... go outside, get a life; don't like being banned...wise up. Get all huffy and leave......byeeeeeee.
posted by adamvasco at 12:36 AM on March 23, 2006


MeTa comments > 1.5 * MeFi comments
One month ban, ability to comment in MeTa permanently removed.

MeTa posts > 0.5 * MeFi posts
Perma ban

(MeTa comments > MeFi comments) AND (Meta posts > 0.1 * MeFi posts)
Perma ban, IP block, all previous comments in MeFi and MeTa to be replaced by a random text string assembled from the words "blah", "whine", "pissy", "wah".

There you go. Sorted.
posted by thatwhichfalls at 2:01 AM on March 23, 2006


I dunno. Maybe it's just me. But did stavrosthewonderchicken lift his proposal here from this Star Trek TNG episode? I mean the bits about the automatic nature of The Justice of An Automatic and Therefore Egalitarian Nature?

And all that happened as the anti-climactic denouement in that episode was that Picard wound up giving a lame speech about all Justice being a consideration of exceptions, and then Wesley Crusher Didn't Die (tm, patent pending) and got beamed up out of trouble, anyway.

It's inevitable that out of the perhaps 200 - 300 people who are active posters and commenters on this site, that some finite percentage are going to be trolls or issue jerks, but as far as I can see, it's still a 2 digit sized problem at this point. Greasemonkey filter scripts work pretty well for this sized problem, and have the big advantage of being entirely user configurable.
posted by paulsc at 2:21 AM on March 23, 2006


paulsc, I've seen online communities degenerate too many times to fool myself into thinking that works. It doesn't. It just lets the existing people ignore the problem, while doing nothing to treat it. Meanwhile, it festers... the badly-behaved contingent attracts people that are just a little bit worse. They attract people that are just a little bit worse, and so on. Neat people are put off by the nastiness. And the existing interesting people move on to greener pastures. The slow but inevitable result: a sewer.

Good people come and go, because they have other options. Psychos accumulate.

I saw a study of online groups of people a few years ago that was very interesting; I cannot, unfortunately, remember who wrote it or what it was called. (boy, that's helpful, eh? )

The 'prescription', if I remember the analysis correctly, is to keep the core group pleased, and not to worry about the fringe. I would translate that on MeFi to this: Matt needs to identify who the core group is that he's really trying to make happy, and that he really wants to hang out with, and then aggressively work to keep those people enamored with the site. If they're happy, they'll attract other like-minded people, the site will tend to retain its flavor, and it will thrive.

I strongly suspect that group would be best-identified as the pre-$5 crowd. Some that came later will fit... you pre-$5 folks will know who they are.

Yes, this is elitist and cliquey. But it works.

I'd suggest you guys set up some kind of back channel and talk things out in there.
posted by Malor at 2:51 AM on March 23, 2006


"(MeTa comments > MeFi comments) AND (Meta posts > 0.1 * MeFi posts)
Perma ban, IP block, all previous comments in MeFi and MeTa to be replaced by a random text string assembled from the words 'blah', 'whine', 'pissy', 'wah'."


That's a good idea, except it should be AskMe instead of MeTa and the words "cat", "breakup", and "penis".
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 3:09 AM on March 23, 2006


orthogonality writes "everyone would self-censor, and that would lead to bland, safe comments...sometimes that results in funny or memorable comments. (E.g., dios's comment to me about growing out my hair and carry a sign warning the end was near was insulting but funny.)"

stavrosthewonderchicken writes "dios's comment did not get deleted."

Stavros, I don't think orthogonality is saying that dios would be autobahned under the proposed system, but that he would self-censor, so that comment wouldn't occur.

thatwhichfalls writes "MeTa posts > 0.5 * MeFi posts
"Perma ban"


Hey, the first call someone has made to ban me! I should get a celebratory cake or something!
posted by Bugbread at 3:15 AM on March 23, 2006


auto-probations might be a bit harsh

No, the inability to post on Metafilter for a week or two is not that great a burden. And for that reason, justice doesn't have to be perfect.
posted by LarryC at 5:24 AM on March 23, 2006


I can think of an easier way to cut down the snark and bullshit on this site by a third (or probably more), which doesn't have the hassles of trying to code draconian standard sentencing.

Replace all of Metatalk with a "Contact the Admin" page.
posted by crunchland at 5:24 AM on March 23, 2006


cause mathowie really wants a thousand emails a day about the garbage we normally take to MeTa.
posted by shmegegge at 8:21 AM on March 23, 2006


How do you figure? Even on its worst days, Metatalk gets at most 20 new posts a day. So Matt would get 20 emails, and wouldn't need to waste his time babysitting the public bull sessions on the grey.

I say this as a person who usually finds the grey much more interesting than the blue or the green. But I think the site would benefit immensely if he just cut off this festering arm of the site.
posted by crunchland at 8:28 AM on March 23, 2006


There are a number of problems from auto-banning based on just one or two deleted comments. I think that's way too harsh.

Jessamyn deletes comments for a number of different reasons. It's relatively common for AskMe answers to get deleted because they are slightly humorous, use an ironic tone, bring in a side issue, etc. She deletes them to keep AskMe focused, but the comments aren't abusive or attacking and they don't pollute the system. Deleting under these criteria is valuable (I believe) but it's also highly subjective.

If deletions like that led to probations, then you'd have some combination of (a) almost every active poster getting put on probation at least once in a while, (b) Jessamyn getting much more reluctanct to delete comments, and (c) members getting very conservative and restrictive about what they are willing to say.

I'd be fine putting people on probation for posting comments that insult other members or for major obvious derails. But those are not the only reasons comments get deleted. Some of it is just thread-grooming.
posted by alms at 8:49 AM on March 23, 2006


Even on its worst days, Metatalk gets at most 20 new posts a day. So Matt would get 20 emails - crunchland

I believe this is a flawed assumption. It wouldn't be a one to one ratio. There would be no way for people to know what had or had not been brought to Matt and/or Jess's attention, so there would be more duplication.

There are many questions people have (not of the call-out variety) that can be answered either by searching the archives, or by asking other MeFites because it's come up in MeTa before. Eliminating MeTa would eliminate our ability to help each other. That would either A) create a lot of work for the Admins to reply to all that themselves* or B) leave a lot more people with unanswered questions and unresolved problems.

While I understand both Matt and Jess spend a lot of time and energy on the grey, they don't currently have to reply to every single thread. What you are proposing would mean that they have to answer every single question or that people would no longer be able to get answers at all. I don't think that's good for MeFi.

* But it might hurry the effort towards a FAQ page or something similar.
posted by raedyn at 9:06 AM on March 23, 2006


what raedyn said, and also that one of the great things about metatalk is that you can search it for questions that have already been posted, like "what does '.' mean?" and not fill up the blue with the question every time there's an obit thread. sure, people still ask in meta sometimes without checking the archives, but then they learn their lesson and the next time they have a question they DO check the archives.

I honestly think it's kind of funny that people think of meta as some part of mefi that should be as nice and polite as the rest of the site. To my mind, meta is where the shit and bile is SUPPOSED to go. I mean, we're not supposed to just pick fights here for the fuck of it, but if you're gonna shit SOMEWHERE, it might as well be in the toilet, numsayin'?
posted by shmegegge at 9:15 AM on March 23, 2006


All right. That's a point I hadn't considered, raedyn. How about metatalk gets replaced with a FAQ, a contact page, and on that contact page, a list containing the last 25 or 50 topic lines from previous submissions, to cut down on the redundancy?
posted by crunchland at 9:22 AM on March 23, 2006


bugbread writes "dios would be autobahned"

Cleverness or a spell-checker that think autobahn is a verb?
posted by orthogonality at 1:46 PM on March 23, 2006


I love the autobanning idea. It provides a feedback loop completely separate from our current (and apparently quite ineffective) MeTa system.

I do think it should have some flex built in. People who've been months without raising ripples certainly ought not be treated the same as a trolling dipshit.

It's like a bank account: if you've socked away a pile of goodwill, the payment for screwing up doesn't bankrupt you. OTOH, if you haven't cached away goodwill, you're up shit creek when you piss everyone off.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:45 PM on March 23, 2006


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