Staying on topic July 8, 2000 9:33 PM   Subscribe

Okay here goes nothing. This one's about topic drift, and what is the proper way of handling it, if there is such a thing.
posted by ZachsMind to Etiquette/Policy at 9:33 PM (8 comments total)

The original thread is over there. The following is taken out of context:

I mean, so far, all I've seen it [DHTML] used for is gay popup menus and cheesy things that follow the cursor...
[posted by Bane at 1:39 AM PST on July 8]

allow me to be the first to introduce topic drift to this thread by saying that "gay" used synonymously with "lame" pisses me off no end. thank you, now back to regularly scheduled idle chatter.
[posted by Sapphireblue at 8:11 AM PST on July 8]

But to drift some more... didn't "gay" once have another definition, meaning something else entirely?
[posted by owillis at 8:21 AM PST on July 8]

Nope, it didn't.
[posted by alan at 9:08 AM PST on July 8]

...again, maybe I'm just old fashioned, but when I hear people use "gay" as a derogative I want to slap them.
[posted by Mars Saxman at 11:04 AM PST on July 8]

Okay. Point of Order time here. Personally I could care less about arguing over DHTML. We've had this problem since regular HTML had the blinking tag. There's something about everything on the 'Net that chaps someone's ass.

However, the subtopic drift about gays which popped up is strikingly hilarious to me. [warning: sarcasm] I've certainly never seen a gay person filled with angst and woe over how they've been treated in modern society. They're always happy go-lucky guys and gals and naturally deserve to use their gay moniker [end sarcasm].

This would probably just get ignored and disregarded, but after seeing Alan's link I think this is deserving of its own thread. However, how are we to properly do this without upsetting the proper use of Metafilter? Do we start a new thread at the top of the Metafilter page? Do we create a new thread over at Metatalk? Considering that now I'm talking about MetaFilter, maybe that's where it's suppose to go now, but what if it was just a fun silly little topic drift thing where someone like me doesn't come along and talk about talking about MetaFilter's proper use?

It would be ideal if there was some way, if ever someone could see ahead of time that their remark might start a topic drift as it was in this case, where the guy could post what s/he wanted to about the topic in the Metafilter page, and then easily compose a link that would go somewhere else. So if others want to join in the topic drift, they can, without upsetting people who'd rather talk about DHTML over the use of dated definitions for common words.

Uhm... I'm gonna manually try to create a thread in Metatalk about this and when I find out what the URL is I'll post it back in here. I just wish there was an easier way of doing this cuz it ruins the flow of conversation.
posted by ZachsMind at 9:37 PM on July 8, 2000

Okay done crossposting. Sheesh! Now it DOES feel like Usenet in here.

Any of the following works for me in this thread.

1. Talk about topic drift and if there's some way to set up a set of rules, or if we can beg Matt to code something in to fix it for everybody so nobody gets censored but everybody is happy or if we just should accept that it's gonna happen and quit worrying about it.

2. Talk about whether or not it's logical to refer to homosexuals as "gay" particularly if we can get an equal amount of openminded conversation on the topic from both sides without someone getting upset over it cuz really this is all in fun.

3. Subtle, unintended, or blatant attempts at topic drift which cause us all to start waxing philosophically about none of the above. For the record, any post I make to Metafilter should automatically be considered to have topic drift totally allowed and I promise to try and not get upset over it.


I mean originally I was thinking I could just post a new topic about this in Metafilter, linking to the previous Metafilter post. However that doesn't work for a number of reasons.

The purpose of Metafilter, as I understand it, is to filter the Internet. Take the best and most recent knowledge available out there, stuff people might wanna talk about, and bring it up in this website. However Metafilter is not for filtering Metafilter. That's just silly.

Further, in my own comment in response to the comments drifting the topic away from DHTML to whether or not gay is an appropriate nomenclature for homosexuals, I found that I was drifting the topic further away when I was trying to understand what's the appropriate way to handle topic drift when it comes along.

I mean I wanna NOT purposefully or accidently chaff people's asses when I post. Honest. I just don't understand how the proper way to do that is. Topic drift is natural for me. Other people get offended by it and I don't understand why but I'll try to accomodate as best I can but JEEZZ! This has now turned into a snake swallowing its own tail.

There's gotta be a better way than this.
posted by ZachsMind at 9:50 PM on July 8, 2000

I can *SO* relate to what you're saying, Zach.

Well, this is what has screwed me up. And I'm really not posting much these days. (all of you who just said "Thank God": CAN BITE ME!!!!).

A lot of things I write often contain sidebars that people can drift on....


So now I fear posting and futher invoking the wrath of the "Whining Grumpies" here.

We're supposed to be having discussions. Discussion oftimes drifts (people here that have friends in the real world know what I'm talking about). In my opinion, that makes it a good discussion. Several disagree.

So until Matt blesses these agoraphobic misanthropes with a "Block this idiot out" button... I just have to watch my step.

That so sucks..... Because so many people have told me they like it when this place turns into a three-ring circus from time to time.

I can't prove that without "thread-views" (and I think Matt works hard enough)... but I know it's true based on all the friends I've made here.
posted by EricBrooksDotCom at 10:27 PM on July 8, 2000

I work hard too! Why just the other day I was working and I *really* wanted to just surf. But you know!

So JasperJ: did you get that thing about the donut holes? Get it? "Do" "NUT" "holes"???? HA HA HA HA HA. Silly old man. LHOOQ knows what I mean.

By the way, I know this old dude who says when he was a kid, he was so poor all they had to eat was popcorn. Yeah sure. He couldn't have been too poor if he could afford a microwave.
posted by ericost at 7:10 AM on July 9, 2000

Damn! I just can't think of a cool domain name that isn't already taken.

My natural inclination is not to care. Just respond with whatever comes to my mind. Leave my comment for good or ill and care not whether someone else later sees what I write and thinks it's a treasure or trash. That's my gut. But I second guess myself and try to see the other side of the argument. If I went to a link that was talking about a topic of interest to me, it would mildly annoy me if that page started veering off to something I wasn't interested in. I can empathize. I just don't see how anything can be done about it.

Except for Metafilter being turned into a cliquish place where only those who follow the rule of the majority are allowed to participate, and people like myself are told to leave. Lord knows I've been there before. I'm trying to keep that from happening this time. Maybe it's impossible to avoid. No harm in trying. Pick myself up, dust myself off, get back on the horse.

But then again, the first thing I get about this in the other thread is "Why do we have to be so anal about the 'rules'? Discussions naturally wander a bit - why can't we allow them to do so here on MeFi?" which is an opinion I agree with, but I'm trying to figure out how to accomodate those who disagree. So when Matt puts that killfile button in MeFi, I don't end up being one of the ones quietly squelched.

I want to play fair, but it just feels like the situation is somehow weighed against me, and no matter how I walk on the rice paper I'm gonna rip it. Thanks Eric. It's nice to know I'm not quite alone in feeling that way.
posted by ZachsMind at 11:13 AM on July 9, 2000

Has a branching structure been discussed before? Instead of just a "post comment," a "start related thread" action could (1) create said thread, (2) link it - two way - to the point in the original thread where the "branch" occurred and (3) provide a mechanism for segregating topic drift if the contributors feel that it's drifting...

Of course, having only observed here for several months, I can easily imagine a MetaFilter of the not-too-distant-future that's just one big, overheated, incestuously interconnected thread...
posted by m.polo at 4:26 PM on July 9, 2000

Who's asking you to leave, Zach...??? Don't you dare! If it ain't Matt... screw 'em.

In a hysterically ironic twist, me & Ezrael are helping out y6y6y6 develop his own beta-discussion-prototyp-ey forum for his biz, called "Babble House". It has levels of discussion based on it's replies (similar to what m.polo is talking about).

We always seem to stay on topic there.

Funny ain't it?

Disclaimer: This, of course does not mean we don't still love Matt. :0)
posted by EricBrooksDotCom at 7:57 PM on July 9, 2000

Oh no one's asking me to leave. I'm just painfully aware from past experience if I don't figure out what it is I do wrong before I do it, I will most certainly be carried out of the ballpark. It has happened before. Not here. That's all water under the bridge. I'm not interested in repeating history.

I very much would not like for it to happen here, but by the same token I so very much would like to feel I'm free to speak freely, as others are. It's just oftentimes in this virtual community I end up being like a bull materializing in a crowded antique store.

For example, I often see something in MeFi and it brings to mind some silly absurd thought that at the moment I feel is worth sharing, just as others do. However, I'll come back the next day and that thought will have freaked other people out in a way I had not intended. Causing me to discover yet another social faux pas I was not previously aware of. Nothing I can help perhaps, but if there were a way to prevent it, I'd give it a try.

And no, to anyone thinking the answer is simply for me not to post. Matt might as well show me the door himself if that's the only answer.
posted by ZachsMind at 9:53 PM on July 10, 2000

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