A helpful, open place where the emphasis is on sniping January 19, 2007 11:48 AM   Subscribe

Since it seems the moderators are not reading the thread below, in which the community decided it was perfectly acceptable to launch personal attacks against a person whose only transgression was using the site as it's supposed to be used, I'm bringing it up as its own topic here. Nasty comments that serve no function in helping the poster find a solution are not allowed in AskMe. Allowing them in MeTa -- again, not because the poster has made some transgression or broken some site rule, but simply because he's fat or lonely or makes too much money or whatever else the community has deemed unacceptable today -- seems a completely shitty way of getting around the rules in AskMe, and seems to completely undermine what we as a community are trying to create there: A helpful, open place where the emphasis is on solving problems, not sniping.
posted by occhiblu to Bugs at 11:48 AM (151 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

Sigh, sorry, not a bug. Meant to post to etiquette or policy.
posted by occhiblu at 11:49 AM on January 19, 2007


tl;dr
posted by keswick at 11:53 AM on January 19, 2007


Opinions are varied; some, hurtful.
Consider that MeTa is a pressure valve for Ask that helps Ask's (and Mefi's) content closer to its stated mission. Do not mistake one for the other.
posted by boo_radley at 12:10 PM on January 19, 2007


The only thing that stands between us and Utopia...
posted by Dave Faris at 12:12 PM on January 19, 2007


Do not mistake one for the other.

Nobody's mistaking one for the other. When MeTa provides an opportunity for personal attacks on members based on questions they post in AskMe, MeTa is not acting as a "pressure valve," but instead is deterring members from asking questions.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 12:12 PM on January 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


Sigh, sorry, not a bug. Meant to post to etiquette or policy.

But if it clearly bugs you, it bugs you.
posted by Peter H at 12:14 PM on January 19, 2007


i agree that some of the responses in the meta thread were not nice - in particular the last one. The point of the callout was to verify the honesty of the original askme poster, NOT to let loose some "steam". Negative personal opinions belong somewhere else. metachat? #mefi? So yeah, a little moderating/editing would be nice in that thread.
posted by ashbury at 12:20 PM on January 19, 2007


I don't feel strongly either way, but if it was wrong to heavily chastise the question asker in MetaTalk, this FAQ entry should probably be changed: "heavy chastising of the question asker ... should probably be brought to MetaTalk."
posted by scottreynen at 12:22 PM on January 19, 2007


Fine by me; delete away. Won't happen again.
posted by The Straightener at 12:23 PM on January 19, 2007


This points to a need for hardline admin approach to any MeTa thread that gets started about an anonymous post in AskMefi.

Public vilifying may be something of a sport here but one of the unwritten rules is that the member who is the object of the vitriol at least should have equal access to the site to defend themselves or capitulate or threaten etc. I mean, I still think the comments were poor form regardless of the anonymous status, but they oughtn't be tolerated here because of the anonymous status.
posted by peacay at 12:27 PM on January 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


"heavy chastising of the question asker ... should probably be brought to MetaTalk."

Part of the issue is that in that MeTa thread, it wasn't like an extended argument got moved into MeTa, or that people who had something to say *to* the poster were taking it here. It was just gratiutous nastiness directed at an anonymous poster who couldn't defend himself.

So, yeah, some clarification in the FAQ would probably be a good idea. It's one thing to move a side argument here, it's another to use MeTa to mock someone, as I said, for using the site.
posted by occhiblu at 12:27 PM on January 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


Negative personal opinions belong somewhere else. metachat?

Definitely not there. Not regarding MeFi goings-on, anyway.

occhiblu, although I understand your concerns, wouldn't an email to Mattamyn regarding the thread below have served your purpose of drawing their attention to it?
posted by amro at 12:29 PM on January 19, 2007


scottreynen writes "but if it was wrong to heavily chastise the question asker in MetaTalk"

I don't sure you get it. The Asker wasn't being chastised, they had done nothing wrong, they had insulted no one, they had expressed no outre opinions. The Asker was being mocked. There's a big difference, which should be recognized. Failing to understand the difference between calling out someone who has been a jerk, or done something wrong, and piling on because you don't like the kind of pain someone is displaying is a big problem. They are completely different positions, the first often has to happen to maintain site equanimity, the second erodes the purpose of AskMe.
posted by OmieWise at 12:30 PM on January 19, 2007 [3 favorites]


Whoa. Were people actually quoting the Notorious B. I. G. back there?

I need to read these long ones more thoroughly.

Also, yeah, this thread should've closed. mathowie generally lets the "is this really anon?" threads run their course, since of course there's not really an easy answer to the question, but that just got silly. languagehat has it down pretty definitively: this sort of thing is very, very bad for ask.metafilter.
posted by koeselitz at 12:31 PM on January 19, 2007


Why do you seem to be working on the assumption that personal attacks are without value? For example, here’s one which, together with its context, conveyed to everyone reading really really well how ill-formed AmberGlow’s position was.

Sure, balancing that with people’s potential discomfort is important, but personal attacks can come from thoughtful people and be among the better answers in a thread. And depending on your personality type, well-intentioned polite noise (two maybe-relevant lines in AskMe ending with "The best of luck to you!") can be rage-inducing as any explicit insult.
posted by Aidan Kehoe at 12:32 PM on January 19, 2007


/yawn
posted by The God Complex at 12:33 PM on January 19, 2007


email to Mattamyn regarding the thread below have served your purpose of drawing their attention to it?

I don't know. I flagged the thread. Several people in the thread asked for clarification from Matt or Jessamyn. I would assumed, given the negative reaction, other people flagged the thread. At a certain point, I feel like it's a little cloak-and-dagger to have to personally contact the admins about something that's happening in public... that may be my hang-up, I don't know.

But it does seem to be a community standards issue, as well, given the number of people who seem to think that mocking posters is standard for MeTa.

Also, as Veronica Sawyer pointed out, making fun of questioners keeps happening here, and I dont' think it's a good trend.
posted by occhiblu at 12:34 PM on January 19, 2007


Aidan Kehoe writes "Why do you seem to be working on the assumption that personal attacks are without value?"

Nobody is working on that assumption. Read this post and the comments in it again.

And I think you mean AmbroseChapel.
posted by OmieWise at 12:34 PM on January 19, 2007


but personal attacks can come from thoughtful people and be among the better answers in a thread.

So put them in the thread.
posted by occhiblu at 12:36 PM on January 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


The Straightener: "Fine by me; delete away. Won't happen again."

I hope the fuck so, man. You were probably the worst one in that thread.
posted by koeselitz at 12:38 PM on January 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


...in which the community decided it was perfectly acceptable to launch personal attacks against a person...

We've hemorrhaged 99% of our userbase in the last few minutes? I didn't realize "the community" had been pared down to three users, but as always... nothing gets a proper callout rolling like vague pluralities applied with absolute indiscretion.

Allowing them in MeTa...

I have heard that "we" are not "a thought crime community". Might want to double check that one though.

...instead is deterring members from asking questions.

I'd like you to prove your theory, beyond a reasonable doubt. Show you work, please. Etch-a-sketch is a permitted medium for expressing this equation, and I'd imagine it'd be entirely appropriate.
posted by prostyle at 12:38 PM on January 19, 2007


Why do you seem to be working on the assumption that personal attacks are without value? For example, here’s one which, together with its context, conveyed to everyone reading really really well how ill-formed AmberGlow’s position was.


So you link to a comment that reads:
"You're an idiot"?

Are you being ironic, or what?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:39 PM on January 19, 2007


*snap snap*

You guys! Play nice!
posted by carsonb at 12:40 PM on January 19, 2007


Ikkyu2's comment is pretty fucking rough and that was in the AskMe thread. It stood there for eight hours before I posted anything, and it's still there. I did hold off until the meta thread by which point a good portion of the community seemed to doubt its authenticity to begin with. Sorry for thinking that by that point I could vent about a guy making more than a half million dollars a year complaining about his consumption problems.
posted by The Straightener at 12:44 PM on January 19, 2007


The guy who posted the thread apologized for having done so, and agreed it should be closed, given the nastiness that resulted. If you just read the three examples I linked to, then yes, it may seem as if only three people said nasty things. If you look at the entire thread, you will see that is not the case. It is sometimes informative to look at the entire context of what's going on, rather than just being dismissive by default.
posted by occhiblu at 12:45 PM on January 19, 2007


Negative personal opinions belong somewhere else. metachat?

No, thank you.
posted by muddgirl at 12:45 PM on January 19, 2007


Sorry for thinking that by that point I could vent about a guy making more than a half million dollars a year complaining about his consumption problems.

Expectations are not applied evenly; depends who you are. Sorry, man.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:46 PM on January 19, 2007


Nobody is working on that assumption.

Okay, so the question I meant to ask was something along the lines of ‘why do you seem to be working on the assumption that personal attacks are necessarily of less value than the comfort in asking questions of people who lack the perspective to realise that no matter how bad an online insult is, it amounts to a few paragraphs on a screen that no-one will care about in a year’s time?’

I suspect I am a good deal readier to enter into arguments online than the norm, though, so in that context my views are of limited usefulness when considering a policy that’s applied to everyone.
posted by Aidan Kehoe at 12:49 PM on January 19, 2007


Aidan Kehoe: "Why do you seem to be working on the assumption that personal attacks are without value?"

You're right; some harshness can be constructive. But the thing is, attacks had but two truly legitimate uses in the case at hand:

1. Careful, focussed, intelligent admonishments in response to anonymous that show a real concern for the poster; and

2. Straightforward, attention-getting reproaches in response to the assholes who saw fit to mock him in the meta thread.

Seriously, sometimes confrontation is the only way to start actually talking about the problems at hand. The biggest problem with that thread is that one side is very concerned and somewhat disgusted with the mockery, while the other side doesn't even notice and keeps on slinging jokes. A simple "hey fuckface, you're being an asshole" sometimes helps.
posted by koeselitz at 12:51 PM on January 19, 2007


Kirth Gerson, it’s a good summary of the whole metatalk thread, and it’s got seventeen favourites.

OmieWise: And I think you mean AmbroseChapel.

And yes, I meant AmbroseChapel. Sorry Amberglow!

posted by Aidan Kehoe at 12:53 PM on January 19, 2007


I hope the fuck so, man. You were probably the worst one in that thread.

Puhhhhlease.
posted by The Straightener at 12:56 PM on January 19, 2007


Wouldn't it have been a lot more effective to email or IM one of the admins to get them to clean up or close the thread in question? Instead, we now have two stupid threads about this question that really doesn't deserve this much attention.
posted by Plutor at 12:57 PM on January 19, 2007


I flagged this as a double. I get your point but a) there is still an open thread right below this one and b) email Matt and/or Jessamyn and express your concerns.
posted by fixedgear at 12:57 PM on January 19, 2007


I made a snark in that thread which, while fairly harmless, I still regret. I do understand the impulse some had to be less than charitable to the poster (though I don't share their disdain for the man), since his post was written in such a manner as to be guaranteed to set off some people's bullshit meters, and other's cry-me-a-river meters. I'm torn, though, because AskMe prohibits non-helpful responses, but I don't really like the idea of anonymous pile-ons over here, either - yet, where else can objections be raised? Are we really required to be either sympathetic or silent to every post that comes down the pipes? Like I said - I'm torn. This whole thing leaves a bad taste in my mouth. But the last thought I'd leave you (occhiblu, in this case) with is that I wish you had taken this to email. I'm afraid that this thread is just bringing more attention to the other one.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:03 PM on January 19, 2007


why do you seem to be working on the assumption that personal attacks are necessarily of less value than the comfort in asking questions of people who lack the perspective to realise that no matter how bad an online insult is, it amounts to a few paragraphs on a screen that no-one will care about in a year’s time?’

There is a difference between a personal attack and helpful criticism. A personal attack, by its very nature, is hurtful and therefor not conducive towards any sort conflict resolution. It doesn't matter where the attack occurs, either. It could be face to face, in the newspaper, in a book, through rumour, etc.; it's still hurtful.
posted by ashbury at 1:08 PM on January 19, 2007


There should be a button located at the bottom of the AskMetafilter comment box right beside the [B][I][link]. When you click this button, this text should be inputed as a response: Seriously, dude, go see a psychologist.

I don't say this to make light of people's problems, but to highlight the danger in relying upon AskMetafilter as an emotional response team for people with depression issues. When people are calling out to semi-anonymous internet users for help, two things spring to mind: 1.) a warm, fuzzy feeling that Metafilter types think so highly of one another (generally speaking) 2.) that, as I said, the person should seriously be asking someone else if the issue is serious.

But, more than that, I can't help but wonder how these (largely anonymous) self-help questions serve the intention of the site that Matt has stated: how would these questions, found by a future Asker, be in any way helpful?

Moreover, I didn't think the thread in question was even all that bad. There were a few inappropriate comments, as is often the case, but that's the life of an Anonymous asker. When you choose to ask a question anonymously, you're giving up the ability to respond directly without outing yourself, and you're also submitting to being even more unknowable than your average Mefite--that is to say, you are known only by the information you give, and it's only natural people will attempt, perhaps (and unfortunately) uncharitably, to fill in the blanks.

What the hell is the point of the original thread, anyway? It parses as, "I have problem x, y, and z, but I won't take any of the logical prescribed steps A, B, or C, to fix said problem. However, a watered-down, home-cooked, internet version of option B might just do the trick." If, in fact, the thread is real (I have my doubts but don't care much either way), the user in question already took medication and professional help off the table, but we're supposed to believe that unprofessional AskMetafitler help will do the trick? If he's seriously having these problems he needs to find a better therapist and go from there.

Finally, I must reiterate that I really didin't think the metatalk thread was bad enough to necessitate yet another metatalk thread about it. You said your piece. You could have sent an e-mail, or flagged it, or done any number of things that didn't involve re-igniting the waning flames.
posted by The God Complex at 1:14 PM on January 19, 2007 [2 favorites]


Are we really required to be either sympathetic or silent to every post that comes down the pipes?
Why not? If you can't be helpful, then there's no need to post. If you find the post so distasteful that you desperately need to vent about it somewhere, perhaps it's time to turn off the computer and do something else for a while. Like mom said, "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all."
posted by vytae at 1:14 PM on January 19, 2007 [2 favorites]


(occhiblu, in this case) with is that I wish you had taken this to email

I just sent an email. As I said in that email, however, given that I chastised so many people in the MeTa thread for talking behind the guy's back, I guess I just feel like I'm doing the same thing now by sending an email. It seems like public conversations of policy should stay in public, and I'm a little weirded out to take it private. But again, if that's the general order of escalation, then I'll deal with my hang-up and move on.
posted by occhiblu at 1:16 PM on January 19, 2007


Opinions are varied; some, hurtful.

Exactly. Unless we ban 'bad thoughts,' or lobotomize all the site's members, there's no way that somebody's feelings arent going to get hurt around sometimes. We're big boys and girls, we should've figured that out a long time ago.
posted by jonmc at 1:17 PM on January 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


The problem here is that the people that were harsh in the other MeTa thread were reacting that way because they thought they were being trolled, or didn't think that the asker was legitimate. Obviously since the thread was posted it passed the admins' sniff test so that's not really up for debate. But part of the problem is that being anon is a two sided sword: yes, you don't get to defend yourself; but at the same time, if someone wanted to troll the community (and I'm not saying that's what happened here, I'm speaking in generalities) doing it anon gives them the chance to launch a bomb of a thread and then sit back and watch without the normal expectation to provide background details and clarifying statements. All in all, I think the anger was because people thought they were being played, not because they wanted to be mean for meanness' sake.
posted by Rhomboid at 1:20 PM on January 19, 2007


I just sent an email. As I said in that email, however, given that I chastised so many people in the MeTa thread for talking behind the guy's back, I guess I just feel like I'm doing the same thing now by sending an email. It seems like public conversations of policy should stay in public, and I'm a little weirded out to take it private. But again, if that's the general order of escalation, then I'll deal with my hang-up and move on.

Please don't be disingenuous. The tenor of your thread here is obvious, from the snipe about the moderators not reading the other thread to the false suggestion that the community at large condoned a few inappropriate comments. What you really wanted was to seize the moral high-ground as demonstrably as possible, light a fire, and attempt to shame Matt or Jess into relenting to your viewpoint under the weight of your considerable rhetoric.

Your intention might have been valid, even laudible, but the presentation is sanctimonious hand-wringing at its worst.
posted by The God Complex at 1:25 PM on January 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


SNAP.
posted by The Straightener at 1:25 PM on January 19, 2007


Or, possibly, I realized the thread's tone was not immediately apparent from the original post, and sought a way to present the objections that those of us had in a more logical, easy-to-find manner, as a separate issue from wondering about the authenticity of the anonymous poster.
posted by occhiblu at 1:29 PM on January 19, 2007


Can't we just send the anonymous AskMe poster a water buffalo and be done with it?
posted by mr_crash_davis at 1:31 PM on January 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


When MeTa provides an opportunity for personal attacks on members based on questions they post in AskMe, MeTa is not acting as a "pressure valve," but instead is deterring members from asking questions.

Really? It seems like we still get a steady stream of questions that us old timers know are fresh meat to the trolls (relationship questions, usually). I can't decide if this means that most people don't read Metatalk and don't realize what a circus it is, or most people don't give a fuck what bad things strangers on the internet think about them. Either way, it's probably for the best.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 1:31 PM on January 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


"laudable", rather

I realized the thread's tone was not immediately apparent from the original post, and sought a way to present the objections that those of us had in a more logical, easy-to-find manner, as a separate issue from wondering about the authenticity of the anonymous poster.

This is not mutually exclusive from my explanation.
posted by The God Complex at 1:33 PM on January 19, 2007


If you pretend that you have a thick skin about life's little insults, then soon enough you actually acquire a thick skin. Try it!
posted by Burhanistan at 1:38 PM on January 19, 2007


'It puts the lotion on it's thick skin or else it gets the hose again...'
posted by jonmc at 1:43 PM on January 19, 2007


FYI I don't make 500K but I have an enormous penis.
posted by bardic at 1:46 PM on January 19, 2007


Of course you do, dear.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 1:47 PM on January 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


And by "penis" I mean "horse-cock."
posted by bardic at 1:48 PM on January 19, 2007


He also has a very pissed off horse.
posted by jonmc at 1:48 PM on January 19, 2007


I have a very sharp knife.
posted by ashbury at 1:50 PM on January 19, 2007


It's not that, bardic, you have small hands.
posted by micayetoca at 1:53 PM on January 19, 2007


Enough with the Thalidomide jokes.
posted by bardic at 1:55 PM on January 19, 2007


If I were the poster and I were offended by some responses, I would flag them and report them to the admins. I think that might clear up a lot of things.

Yes, I agree it would be nice if some people were less jerky around here and followed the nice intentions I see posted various places -- no time to look for them now, though.
posted by Listener at 1:56 PM on January 19, 2007


It was thoughtless. I apologize. Please delete the comment.
posted by popechunk at 2:14 PM on January 19, 2007


I really do not think 12-14 times a week is unreasonable.
posted by fourcheesemac at 2:18 PM on January 19, 2007


Nobody asked you.
posted by Floydd at 2:21 PM on January 19, 2007


one of the unwritten rules is that the member who is the object of the vitriol at least should have equal access to the site to defend themselves

Where did you dream this up? You have obviously never had a time out.
posted by Meatbomb at 2:21 PM on January 19, 2007


I thought there were some horrifyingly mean-spirited comments, clearly and solely intended to hurt (however the commenters want to spin their responses), in both the original thread and the MetaTalk one.

Whether the poster was legit or not, at face value he was in pain and asking for help on being in less pain, and the comments struck me largely as a pile-on of bullies, shored up by the presence of other bullies. It made me feel gross to read, so I stopped. I'm posting here now because I'm a notorious dumbass. Sigh.

Anyway, occhiblu, not that it means much, but I fully see your point.
posted by thehmsbeagle at 2:33 PM on January 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


Not just bullies, know-it-all bullies.
posted by caddis at 2:37 PM on January 19, 2007


This would have been more successful as an email to me and jessamyn. Basically, I don't have time to constantly check in on 150+ comment threads. I read the thread for the first 5 or 6 hours after it was posted but as five or six new metatalk posts come up, I follow those and lose track of the older ones. Also, older threads tend to pile up with chat further from the original point.

I haven't looked at the metatalk post since the day it was posted but will take a look.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 2:50 PM on January 19, 2007


The only time I posted an anonymous AskMe question, everyone ripped me a new one. It made me mad. I cried. I wanted to make them take it back.

And although some people were being dicks about it, they were right about the core of it. If everyone were kind and soft and "Awww, it's ok" I wouldn't have been able to deal with what I was asking about in a constructive way.

Sometimes AskMe is the honesty you can't count on from your friends. At least when you're a girl. They all tell me these jeans don't make my ass look fat in the least.

Maybe some people come here for a support group. But that's not the site I want to read. I've got a LiveJournal friends list for that.
posted by Gucky at 2:52 PM on January 19, 2007 [4 favorites]


It takes two to tango. If the anon AskMe was a troll, it succeeded only because some of you are dumbfucks who can't ignore being trolled.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:07 PM on January 19, 2007


i like the word 'maw'.
posted by empath at 3:09 PM on January 19, 2007


For what it's worth, I think it's easier to keep in mind one doesn't have to like/totally and wholly sympathise with/want to hug the asker in order to offer advice, but it's also easier to start from the assumption the asker is not making things up, because anyone could be lying about anything anyway.

That said, I do agree with the God Complex above about the 'danger in relying upon AskMetafilter as an emotional response team for people with depression issues'.

Especially in a case like this. If someone, rich or not, hot or not, getting laid 40 times a week or once a year, asks a question about serious psychological issues they're already aware of (depression, eating disorder) but preemptively dismisses all the most obviously helpful practical suggestions with a 'I'm asking but I know better than you anyway' attitude, then what is the point of the question, indeed? what are they actually asking for? validation? pat on the back? group hug?

That's what I think rubbed some people the wrong way, not just the perception of bragging or fakeness. Or the class war factor. (Who needs Celebrity Big Brother when you have Metatalk?).

And nevermind how uncalled for the mockery in the MeTa thread may have been, he still got a ton of sympathetic responses in the AskMe. And hugs. Not seeing all this horrifying mean spiritidness in the AskMe itself, honestly. Ikku2 was the only one to be harsh, but doesn't mean he was wrong.
posted by pleeker at 3:10 PM on January 19, 2007


Who got trolled, those of us who bashed him or those who lined up around the block to cosign his bullshit?
posted by The Straightener at 3:10 PM on January 19, 2007


"I really do not think 12-14 times a week is unreasonable."

Me either. And neither does my wife. Unfortunately, our kids seem to think so, and steal every waking moment.

Assholes.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 3:12 PM on January 19, 2007


there you go again, straightener.
posted by ashbury at 3:14 PM on January 19, 2007


To clarify: I think the AskMe thread was fine. I don't think having a totally separate conversation about the guy in the MeTa thread was appropriate.

People who gave him a hard time, wanted to dispense tought love, whatever, should have done so in the AskMe thread.

The MeTa thread seemed to exist solely as a means of mocking the poster in a way that would have been deleted in AskMe. I think that stinks. If there are rules about what constitutes an appropriate way of interacting with a questioner in AskMe, those rules shouldn't be suspended in MeTa (unless, as I've said, the questioners themselves somehow violate those rules). If it's not ok to make fat jokes about the guy in AskMe based on his question, it should also not be ok to make fat jokes about the guy in MeTa based on his question.
posted by occhiblu at 3:17 PM on January 19, 2007


Who got trolled, those of us who bashed him or those who lined up around the block to cosign his bullshit?

The troll, if there is one, is the only person who knows his mind. We therefore cannot know who got trolled if trolling occurred. We are left, then, to judge the merits of the behavior on its face.

In which case acting like assholes loses, in my eyes, to acting kindly.

I stand by my objection, in the other thread, that MeTa is not AskMe, and the much lower visibility and more insular and chatty nature of the MeTa regulars does mitigate considerably the violation of the AskMe spirit in my eyes, but at the same time I agree with occhiblu's sentiment. Being assholes for assholery's sake sucks.
posted by cortex at 3:21 PM on January 19, 2007


And I say the above not simply because "people shouldn't be mean" (though I don't think they should), but because mocking people for asking questions on a site that exists so that people can ask questions is totally counter-productive, and a bit slimy.

People should be able to post questions to AskMe and trust that they will be treated according to the guidelines of the site. In that MeTa thread, people did not treat the poster according to the rules of the site to which the guy posted. Hiding behind some idea that MeTa is the Wild West portion of the site, in which all users are mocked and therefore we can use a member's AskMe questions against him or her, undermines AskMe.
posted by occhiblu at 3:27 PM on January 19, 2007


I didn't read the whole previous MeTa thread until now. It seemed like a sort of weird callout, but not beyond the pale and not super-nasty at the time. The fact that people took it as an opportunity to mock the AnonyMe poster for what they didn't see as problems (depression even hits people with a lot of money and sex, everyone!) was a shame but I have to disagree that the poster was unable to defend him/herself, or that having this discussion in MeTa even has to impact the OP at all. I closed the thread because it was beyod the point of being constructive but just because someone says "gee I wish I hadn't asked this" doesn't mean we'll automatically close it.

It's lame that people are jerks, however MeTa is the one part of the site that we don't moderate almost at all. Closing threads pisses people off and we try not to do it if people are still having discussions. There is a downside to asking semi-random strangers on the Internet your personal questions and this is it. I'm happy AskMe and AnonyMe exist to help people out and give them a way to get advice on weird and personal and embarassing problems but it's not a substitute for legal or medical advice or counseling and it's not a substitute for real-life people. I'm sorry, it's not.

I'm happy MeTa exists as a bit of a pressure valve so that people who read AskMe questions and say WTF come here instead of shit in threads. However, I think the chances that the OP read the MeTa thread are slim. The chances that if we had closed the thread earlier it wouldn't have had some ripple effect elsewhere are also slim since prematurely closing MeTa threads often nets new MeTa threads. and I don't really see the need for extra FAQ statements or anything else. We pay attention to the flagging queue, but that MeTa thread didn't really show up on the OMG radar indicating to me either that it wasn't a huge problem for a lot of people, or people are hesitant to use the flagging queue for MeTa threads.

In any case, the original thread is closed and the AskMe thread went pretty well considering. I'm not sure if mathowie has anything extra to add to this, but my feeling is that this isn't evidence that something is super-broken, but I'm in agreement that people might want to make a bit more of an effort to not just be aggro jerks about anonymous posters generally, it's not cool.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:29 PM on January 19, 2007 [6 favorites]


but my feeling is that this isn't evidence that something is super-broken, but I'm in agreement that people might want to make a bit more of an effort to not just be aggro jerks about anonymous posters generally, it's not cool.

I would agree. I guess I'm just asking for (1) more community awareness that this sort of behavior is frowned upon, which would hopefully allow (2) more admin intervention when it happens with fewer complaints about that intervention.

I don't think posters should substitute AskMe for professional help. I do think they should expect to be treated according to the guidelines of the site, and I think that if commenters on MeTa are not following those guidelines (again, assuming the poster has done nothing himself to break the guidelines), it does require admin intervention. Even if the OP hadn't seen the thead, others have; it being open that long sets a tone that says what happened there is OK.
posted by occhiblu at 3:42 PM on January 19, 2007


And my not emailing y'all earlier is part of the problem, I realize.
posted by occhiblu at 3:42 PM on January 19, 2007


the much lower visibility and more insular and chatty nature of the MeTa regulars does mitigate considerably the violation of the AskMe spirit in my eyes, but at the same time I agree with occhiblu's sentiment. Being assholes for assholery's sake sucks.

As usual, cortex is wise. I agree with both of 'em.
posted by languagehat at 3:44 PM on January 19, 2007


What? If you soften up like this, languagehat, we'll never reach . . . oh. Never mind.
posted by cgc373 at 4:12 PM on January 19, 2007


Even if the OP hadn't seen the thead, others have; it being open that long sets a tone that says what happened there is OK.

I've been following these threads for a while now, and I just realized what the problem is: occhiblu, you're asking for the wrong thing. You want immediate action, and protest the lack of administrative attention. By necessity, timely deletions and thread-closures are not to be expected here. There will occasionally be violations which can only be dealt with retroactively, and everything about the laissez-faire regulation of the site smacks of this delayed-but-not-denied justice; such is the nature of the internet. Be patient. Make your case, and then leave for a while: if, as here, it's a good case, you're likely to return to find your pleas have been answered.
posted by anotherpanacea at 4:13 PM on January 19, 2007


I really do not think 12-14 times a week is unreasonable.

Perhaps not, but it does cast doubt on the poster's claim that he's lazy...
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:16 PM on January 19, 2007


I read the thread for the first 5 or 6 hours after it was posted

It was pretty toxic within that time frame, its whole premise is toxic, although I can see why you didn't initially pull the plug because sometimes the Encyclopedia Brown types around here turn out to be right. Nevertheless, that sort of stuff bears watching. Whatever.

I am sure glad I don't have 47,000 people watching every move I make in my job, and then commenting to all the rest. Your judgment is usually so superior Matt, but I must say this one could have gone better. It's important as an issue mostly because this sort of semi-attack discourages people to come in and ask tough questions on AskMe. AskMe is a wonderful resource for tough questions and often we all learn a lot from these threads.
posted by caddis at 4:17 PM on January 19, 2007


As I was so firmly reminded back in 2002 (not under my present nick), this is not a place for emotional support. Yes, we do usually support one another anyway, but metafilter is not a support group. If anyone posts regarding depression or emotional problems HERE they should expect not to be treated with kid gloves.

If Mr Anonymous is real, he probably just gave us a metaphorical one finger salute, and went on about his business. And anyone who is smart enough to bring in a half million a year is smart enough to know that the way he came across could be construed as phony, so he shouldn't be surprised at what anyone said.

He didn't strike me as fragile, just unhappy. And/or bipolar, but I slap that label around pretty freely.
posted by konolia at 4:19 PM on January 19, 2007


I don't care much, didn't comment in the other stupidly long thread, but (I'm feeling frisky): people who Ask The Internet to solve the nebulous Personal Problems of their life need to be fucking mocked. The more the better. Maybe it'll teach them something that they clearly haven't learned yet -- their problems are their own, and can only be solved by themselves. If there's some useful advice amongst the derision and thigh-slapping jocularity, all the better. This assuming the asker was not writing fiction.

That guy asked What's wrong with me? The correct answer was : duh! [/thread closed]
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:24 PM on January 19, 2007 [2 favorites]


To be clearer: asking people for advice is never a bad thing, and AskMe is for the most part a good thing, but people asking kallikak questions like 'My darlin' don' luv me no more what shud I do? Also my dawg died. PS I think ah am the ghey please advice me' over the internet just get my goat.

(Worse eve, of course, if it's for 'entertainment' purposes, which people have suggested this might have been.)
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:29 PM on January 19, 2007


+n
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:29 PM on January 19, 2007


And anyone who is smart enough to bring in a half million a year

By which calculation, Paris Hilton is an off-the-charts genius.
posted by scody at 5:04 PM on January 19, 2007


Count me in with the wonderchicken.

mock, mock, mock!
posted by yhbc at 5:22 PM on January 19, 2007


"I really do not think 12-14 times a week is unreasonable."

Ma's dead, sis's knocked up, I can't sit down, and Dad's out back yelling "Here, kitty kitty kitty..."
posted by klangklangston at 5:24 PM on January 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


If anyone posts regarding depression or emotional problems HERE they should expect not to be treated with kid gloves.

This misunderstanding of the initial post is at the heart of everything. It wasn't a post about depression, or pain and didn't require an escalation to beetle in a box type obtuseness. It's not surprising that's where it went because I think there are people here that are looking to make every debate as complicated as possible because they think meaning lies there.

It's a status anxiety problem. End. Every negative mental and physical symptom expressed in the OP related directly to the angst of having to shutter a business and go work for someone like everybody else. Compulsive, gluttonous conspicuous consumers that tear through hundreds of thousands of dollars of disposable income every year are terrified by the prospect of scaling back. Taking a regular job. Selling a couple of the cars. The poster admitted he was an egomaniac with a boasting problem. His identity has become threatened by his own poor decisions driven by urges he can't control any more. He can barely admit he's wrong, laying out exactly the kind of help he will and will not accept.

That sucks, sure, sure. But to expect everyone to "respect his pain" or whatever is fucking horseshit. Because it's not pain. It's exaggerated stress that would be easily relieved by making some hard decisions he's too prideful to make. So let's gather around and give him hugs.

I interviewed a prospective client family for the program I work for earlier today, right before I saw this thread. They're living in the basement of an unheated house in North Philly. They're there right now. They're going to be there until we can place them somewhere next week. It's fucking cold out. They are suffering. Actually suffering. Sorry Mr. Box Beetle, all pain is not equivalent nor should be equivocated. The urge to equivocate golden handcuff pain with actual human suffering is a political correctness impulse gone awry. What is actual suffering? It's like porn, I know it when I see it and I see a lot of it and this wasn't it.

I still stand by my original answer to his problem. The chafing of golden handcuffs is best relieved by visiting a homeless shelter. An orphanage. A VA hospital. Trust me, your life will get real awesome real fast.

I'll refrain from commenting on golden handcuff problems in the future as I obviously can't be objective because of the work I do. However, beyond that, I think the rush to accomodate every problem as being as serious as every other problem and deny others the ability to say something abrupt that might brake through a wall of denial is a major step in the wrong direction.

Sorry about the book length response, I wanted to step away from this for a little bit before saying anything else. As if anyone gives a shit by this point, which I don't image they do, but you know, for the record.
posted by The Straightener at 8:01 PM on January 19, 2007 [9 favorites]


At least nobody mentioned pickles.
posted by davy at 10:07 PM on January 19, 2007


And by the way, in my opinion The Straightener has a point.
posted by davy at 10:09 PM on January 19, 2007


jessamyn wrote...
I closed the thread because it was beyod the point of being constructive

Hey! Listener and I were having a perfectly enjoyable pissing match in there, thank you very much. We had pretty much managed to reduce each other to gross stereotypes, but hadn't gotten into the personal insults yet -- don't tell me there was nothing left to be done in that thread.
posted by tkolar at 10:45 PM on January 19, 2007


The Straightener wrote...
I wanted to step away from this for a little bit...

I think you may need to step away a little further. A person who says "Life seems very tiring and if I could blink it away I often feel like I would." is suffering.

Perhaps not as much as your family living in a basement, but he's suffering nonetheless.
posted by tkolar at 11:15 PM on January 19, 2007


Oh man, these threads are starting to get ridiculous. A couple points:

1. To the people who said this belongs in metachat: Metachat is not where you bring your bullshit that you don't want on mefi. fuck, i don't even spend time at metachat anymore (for pretty much no reason. metachat rocks) but this attitude still pisses me off.
2. Metachat is not where you bring your bullshit that you don't want on mefi.
3. What the fuck is with two threads on this? Are we seriously closing a day old thread because now we have a brand new "mean people suck" thread? The big revelation here is that it's not cool to be an asshole? Come the fuck on. Yes, you shouldn't ridicule anonymous askme folk. People will still do it anyway. We don't need a sensitivity seminar on this. It's a no brainer. If only it were a no threader.
4. Anyone coming to askme with a desperate need for the mefites to solve their deep-seated dissatisfation with their life desperately needs another support system. No one should be depending on askme for this shit. I love mefi and mefites, but if I decided to base my personal satisfaction on what you all think then I have worse problems than the one I'm posting about. (No, this is not a justification for ridiculing the poor guy.) Point is: mightn't it be a better idea to discourage that type of question in the first place? People kill themselves over issues like this. It's probably in the dude's best interest to look elsewhere for advice of that particular type. that's just my $.02, though. maybe i'm way off base.
5. There needs to be a new flag: "hippy dippy hand wringing waste of time." I, for one, respect anyone who thinks ridiculing the less fortunate (in one aspect or another) is wrong. But nobody thinks ridiculing the less fortunate is right. Are we in high school? Do we need to attend health class to see someone's foamboard diarama on how mean words hurt? Anyone who will ridicule a guy in that position either knows it's wrong and made an unfortunate mistake that they don't need a public shaming to realize, knows it's wrong and doesn't care, or is just too wrapped up in their own life to see his side no matter what you or I say. No one is enlightened here, today.

This is not a condemnation of anyone in this thread, or the poster of the thread. It's more an expression of the fervent hope that we can skip posting an entirely new metatalk thread the next time someone thinks a handful of people were too mean the day before. This was just fine with people telling the assholes to stop being assholes in the original thread, it didn't need a public display of righteous indignation.
posted by shmegegge at 2:41 AM on January 20, 2007


but people asking kallikak questions like [...] just get my goat.

My GF wants a goat. Is he still available?
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:02 AM on January 20, 2007


> I think you may need to step away a little further. A person who says "Life seems very tiring and if I could
> blink it away I often feel like I would." is suffering.

So what? There's nothing odd or particularly wrong with suffering, most especially not when it's neurotic suffering caused by fucked up life choices. It's nature's way of telling you you've gone way wrong and better do something different while you still can.

Buttercup: You mock my pain.
Westley: Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.


Straightener's comment (linked by occhiblu as a "personal attack," forsooth) is dead-on correct and very likely the only available escape from suffering for this guy. The comment was tough love, tkolar. As is this one.
posted by jfuller at 5:52 AM on January 20, 2007


Yes, you shouldn't ridicule anonymous askme folk. People will still do it anyway.

Yes, they will. And they should be attacked and mocked for it. Because they're assholes.

We don't need a sensitivity seminar on this.

No, we need public shaming. If even one brainless jerk has to pause for a moment before typing HURF DURF BUTTER EATER RICH PERSON SUXX0RS and hitting Post, then it's worth it.

Sorry Mr. Box Beetle, all pain is not equivalent nor should be equivocated.


Sorry Mr. Self-Righteous Do-Gooder, all pain is equivalent. To think otherwise is to claim that the only person who truly suffers is the worst-off, most-suffering person in the whole world. Find that person and keep him in a cage suffering, and then the rest of us can't really suffer! What a load of crap. If you want to parade your social work and talk proudly about much your clients suffer go right ahead, but don't try to use emotional bullying to dismiss the suffering of anyone with a roof over their head.

Here's the first letter in today's Dear Abby:
DEAR ABBY: I am a friendly, happy, well-rounded student. I am president of my class in medical school, currently a 4.0 student and top-ranked in my class. I have a wonderful life. I am artistic, intelligent, attractive, very successful in work and at school. I have a lovely apartment, a new car, fulfilling hobbies, great friendships, and a fiance who is kind, loving and supportive.

I seem to have it all. In fact, I do -- and I feel guilty about it. I had an unhappy childhood coupled with a low-income household growing up, and now I feel as if this happy life is too good for me. I know I earned most of what I have -- I worked two jobs as an undergraduate and have been a dedicated student my entire life. Yet I still feel undeserving. How can I be happy about my happiness? -- DOESN'T DESERVE IT IN LOUISIANA
Look, another fucking loser who pretends she's suffering when there are homeless people in the world! But it's probably a fake, right? Because nobody with all that good stuff could really feel like that.
posted by languagehat at 6:15 AM on January 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


Touché!
posted by caddis at 6:28 AM on January 20, 2007


> Sorry Mr. Self-Righteous Do-Gooder, all pain is equivalent.

...said the Princess and the Pea.
posted by jfuller at 6:43 AM on January 20, 2007


Sorry Mr. Self-Righteous Do-Gooder, all pain is equivalent.

how do you know?

To think otherwise is to claim that the only person who truly suffers is the worst-off, most-suffering person in the whole world.

simplistic to the point of absurdity

don't try to use emotional bullying to dismiss the suffering of anyone with a roof over their head.

that's why starving children and paraplegics should stay out of sight and not emotionally bully people with their presence

god forbid that anyone should have to think about CLASS in this society
posted by pyramid termite at 7:18 AM on January 20, 2007


They are suffering. Actually suffering. Sorry Mr. Box Beetle, all pain is not equivalent nor should be equivocated.

Where did Mr Box Beetle actually imply his practical situation is as desperate as that of the family you're talking about?

Straightener, your rant is the more eloquent version of 'there's children starving in Africa'. If this was an unemployed guy living on welfare in a cheap rented accomodation he'd still be better off than millions of people in the world. So what? People of all kinds of social background and income can have life crises and psychological problems, whether they're the result or cause of specific fucked up decisions or not.

I'll be honest, I am envious when it comes to money, and my first instinct when I hear people with lots of money complaining about anything is, shut up! but it is wrong when we're talking this kind of complaint.

Shmegegge is dead on, people do kill themselves over shit like this. Lots of people could identify with the description of symptoms, even though they could never identify with the salary and lifestyle of the asker.

A little bit of 'tough love' is better than nothing, but it's not a magic wand. At some point you do need to 'snap out of it', make the effort to kickstart yourself into trying to fix it rather than just complaining about it, or you're just wallowing in misery and self-complacency and it's not going to do you any good, but the awareness you do have it far better than most people is not enough.

Otherwise, no one in the world would be ever depressed or fucked up, or they'd never go and seek help, they'd just need to tell themselves, gee, life is pain anyway and there's always someone worse off than me, my problems are worthless, I should just stop whining. Yeah, bear it all stoically, keep fucking up your life and those of your children, that's a clever approach isn't it?

You're not going to even begin to solve a problem if you don't first acknowledge you have it and that it's serious and legitimate enough to require intervention. This guy also has a company and a big family that depend on him, so it's kind of in the interests of everybody involved, not just him, if he gets the help he needs. He's not going to get it here, that's the problem, and he's not going to get it if he's so stubborn to even give it a try. That's the part that's infuriating (and that's why ikku2 was right, even if harsh), not how rich he is. Or, if the money comes into it, it's in how dumb and self-defeating it is, for someone who can afford the best help that money can buy, not to take advatange of it.
posted by pleeker at 7:22 AM on January 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


It's a no brainer. If only it were a no threader.

Simple as that then. Motion to ban all threads about topics on which some people have firm established beliefs.
posted by cortex at 7:58 AM on January 20, 2007


people are hesitant to use the flagging queue for MeTa threads

I suspect this is the case, given the number of "hey, MeTa is a release valve" comments, and it's a shame. There is a total lack of civility here that by-and-large the other sites have avoided. MeTa used to be about bugs, get-togethers, and random MeFi-related sightings. Somewhere along the line, the userbase figured out that Matt & Jess weren't modding much here, and decided to use it as their personal shitter.

I've seen some really, really nasty personal comments thrown around MeTa. Hell, I've been called things here that would probably instigate some fisticuffs if someone said them to my face. It really needs to stop, and honestly, I think that process needs to start with Matt and Jess backing off from their laissez-faire attitude toward MeTa and re-clarifying, prominently, the purpose of the site.
posted by mkultra at 8:40 AM on January 20, 2007


that's why starving children and paraplegics should stay out of sight and not emotionally bully people with their presence

Simplistic to the point of absurdity. No, wait, I mean: Total bullshit. I did not say or imply anything remotely resembling that. I said the pain of people who do not happen to be homeless or otherwise subject to Mr. Self-Righteous Do-Gooder's attentions is just as real as any other pain. And you can call my logical conclusion "simplistic" all you like, but that's a cheap substitute for actually dealing with it. Where do you draw the line? At what income level does people's pain cease existing, according to you?
posted by languagehat at 8:53 AM on January 20, 2007


Simplistic to the point of absurdity. No, wait, I mean: Total bullshit. I did not say or imply anything remotely resembling that.

i live in a town that actually put a "nuisance wall" between the homeless shelter and the rest of the downtown shopping district at a cost of $35,000

i'm sure they weren't implying anything, either

I said the pain of people who do not happen to be homeless or otherwise subject to Mr. Self-Righteous Do-Gooder's attentions is just as real as any other pain.

you still haven't explained how you know that ... it's almost as if you think a cold, hungry, jobless and homeless person can't be depressed, too ... or wouldn't have a reason for feeling that way

yeah, what a concept ... a person can suffer more than ONE pain at once ... who'd have thought?

And you can call my logical conclusion "simplistic" all you like, but that's a cheap substitute for actually dealing with it.

and you can call all sorts of pain equivalent, but that's a cheap substitute for actually putting someone's problems in a broader context and learning something from that ... which, pills aside, is how people learn to deal with the kind of existential pain you're claiming is "all the same" as homelessness and physical pain

Where do you draw the line? At what income level does people's pain cease existing, according to you?

straw man aside, life is a shit sandwich ... the more bread you have, the better it tastes

context and perspective is what i and mr straightener are advocating ... furthermore, that's what a lot of professionals use when dealing with this kind of problem

take it up with them
posted by pyramid termite at 9:17 AM on January 20, 2007


languagehat: If class is the cause of anonynmous's suffering, than certainly some version of a chastisement is in order, just as one chastises an alcoholic for his drinking rather than commiserating with him about his bar bill. That's not to say that "go to a homeless shelter" is a complete answer, but it's part of one.

Of course, all this requires us to acknowledge that not all mental anguish is chemically correctable.
posted by anotherpanacea at 9:31 AM on January 20, 2007


i live in a town that actually put a "nuisance wall" between the homeless shelter and the rest of the downtown shopping district at a cost of $35,000

What the... what does this have to do with anything I said?

i'm sure they weren't implying anything, either

Ohhh, I see! Everyone who implies anything about anything... or claims not to be implying things... is exactly the same... or something. You know who else implied things?

yeah, what a concept ... a person can suffer more than ONE pain at once ... who'd have thought?

Dude, this is exactly my point.

Look, we can sit here flinging poo at each other all day, but the fact is we're basically on the same side, you just don't want to see it. I'm all in favor of context and perspective, as I think is evident from the general run of my comments here on MeFi, and I don't think (for chrissake) that poor people don't have problems or they should be shut up behind walls or ground up for hamburger. To say "rich people have problems too" is not, logically, the same as saying "poor people suck and should be ignored." I think if you can wrap your mind around that and reread my comments in that light, you won't have a problem with them. Unless you literally think it's impossible for a person above a certain income level to suffer, in which case I can't help you.

And yes, I've been broke and I've had money, and having money is better than being broke.
posted by languagehat at 9:39 AM on January 20, 2007


jfuller wrote...
I think you may need to step away a little further. A person who says "Life seems very tiring and if I could blink it away I often feel like I would." is suffering.
So what?


Straightner made a big point of stating that anon wasn't actually suffering. I was disagreeing.
posted by tkolar at 9:45 AM on January 20, 2007


cortex wrote...
Simple as that then. Motion to ban all threads about topics on which some people have firm established beliefs.

But what will we all do with our weekends?
posted by tkolar at 9:47 AM on January 20, 2007


> I said the pain of people who do not happen to be homeless or otherwise subject to Mr. Self-Righteous
> Do-Gooder's attentions is just as real as any other pain.

Nope, you said "all pain is equivalent." If you had said all pain is real I wouldn't feel any impulse to deny it, since that's a truism. "All pain is equivalent" is a much broader and stronger assertion, and patently false.
posted by jfuller at 9:50 AM on January 20, 2007


What the... what does this have to do with anything I said?

it's symbolic of an attitude that is all too prevalent in our society ... and it's an interesting data point that deserved mentioning, whether it reflects what you think or not

I'm all in favor of context and perspective

then why the hostility towards the straightener? ... why the sweeping statements about equivalence? ... the bottom line is that his saying that the questioner should be more grateful and perhaps stop thinking "poor me" all the time wasn't bad advice ... alcoholics get that kind of talk all the time at aa meetings

the questioner, imho, needs to become less self-absorbed and more outer directed ... and he needs to consider how other people are dealing with problems that are much greater than his ... that's not being dismissive of his pain ... it's putting it in a context where he can see it as being less intractable and less important and therefore something that can be dealt with

but never mind those questions, here's one that goes to the heart of the matter - i have often heard it said that affluent, modern societies have a higher rate of depression, etc etc than poor, less modern societies ... is this so? ... and why would this be?
posted by pyramid termite at 9:58 AM on January 20, 2007


Nope, you said "all pain is equivalent." If you had said all pain is real I wouldn't feel any impulse to deny it, since that's a truism. "All pain is equivalent" is a much broader and stronger assertion, and patently false.

I suspect the Buddha would disagree with you.
posted by tkolar at 9:58 AM on January 20, 2007


But what will we all do with our weekends?

It gives us some extra spare time to try to reach that 12 - 14 per week goal.

Oh, with a partner you say? Oh Shi-
posted by Rhomboid at 10:05 AM on January 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


pyramid termite writes....
i have often heard it said that affluent, modern societies have a higher rate of depression, etc etc than poor, less modern societies ... is this so?

No one knows for sure. Poor, less modern societies lack the social structure to track such statistics and none of the richer countries have felt the need to fund large scale studies.

... and why would this be?

I can answer the question of why you would have heard this said so often: virtually every generation of humans has talked about how great things were in the old days. How back before all this modern stuff came along we all lived in peace and harmony and joy. Even the Greeks talked about this.

Apparently the quality of human life has been going slowly but steadily downhill since the invention of the wheel.
posted by tkolar at 10:10 AM on January 20, 2007


anotherpanacea wrote...
Of course, all this requires us to acknowledge that not all mental anguish is chemically correctable.

I have it on good authority that one bourbon, one scotch, and one beer will cure just about anything.
posted by tkolar at 10:17 AM on January 20, 2007


pyramid termite wrote...
[Building a wall between the homeless shelter and the downtown shopping district is] symbolic of an attitude that is all too prevalent in our society.

Which is more symbolic, that they built the wall or that they built the homeless shelter?
posted by tkolar at 10:25 AM on January 20, 2007


the wall ... i don't know of any wall-less people in our town
posted by pyramid termite at 10:30 AM on January 20, 2007


Newsflash: psychology and psychiatry are modern developments, depression isn't.

Now, get off my lawn, you spoilt, depressed, self-indulgent modern people! You don't know how good you all have it. You don't want me to start about the potato famine do you?
posted by pleeker at 10:39 AM on January 20, 2007


i have often heard it said that affluent, modern societies have a higher rate of depression, etc etc than poor, less modern societies ... is this so? ... and why would this be?

I don't normally use movie quotes as a source of wisdom, but I'll make this exception.

The things you own end up owning you.

That's why. Which is why members of our consumerist culture sometimes need extreme measures to stop them from buying shit for the sake of having shit. Because in the end, it's just another battery-powered counterweight in your coat pocket, and it's just easier to walk down the street with a lighter load.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:44 AM on January 20, 2007



The things you own end up owning you.


Ooh ooh! I have some pop wisdom too!


"I've been poor, and I've been rich. Rich is better."
posted by tkolar at 11:33 AM on January 20, 2007


By the way, you can get a pretty good idea of the quality of life in various countries by looking at the immigration/emigration numbers.
posted by tkolar at 11:37 AM on January 20, 2007


I have it on good authority that one bourbon, one scotch, and one beer will cure just about anything.

YMMV, but in my experience those three will make just about any problem worse.
posted by anotherpanacea at 11:41 AM on January 20, 2007


What about my problems?
posted by Mister_A at 11:44 AM on January 20, 2007


Mister_A wrote...
What about my problems?

Sorry, but we'll need a full demographic breakdown of you and your immediate neighbors before we can decide if your problems are real or not.
posted by tkolar at 11:59 AM on January 20, 2007


It really needs to stop, and honestly, I think that process needs to start with Matt and Jess backing off from their laissez-faire attitude toward MeTa and re-clarifying, prominently, the purpose of the site.

I agree completely, but I don't anticipate that will happen. For as much as Matt & Jessamyn talk about inappropriate behavior here, it is not backed up by action. Additionally, they rarely respond to this type of request. Could it be that there is a financial disincentive to getting rid of paying customers (fearing that this would dissuade future signups)?
posted by garypratt at 12:18 PM on January 20, 2007


> I suspect the Buddha would disagree with you.

We'll never know. The B-guy and I did meet on the road one day but I killed him before he could get a word in edgeways .
posted by jfuller at 12:23 PM on January 20, 2007


Simple as that then. Motion to ban all threads about topics on which some people have firm established beliefs.
posted by cortex at 10:58 AM EST on January 20 [+]
[!]


Hey, I have a better idea. One that actually resembles what I said. How about we keep it in the less than a day old thread that actually exists?

We don't need a sensitivity seminar on this.

No, we need public shaming. If even one brainless jerk has to pause for a moment before typing HURF DURF BUTTER EATER RICH PERSON SUXX0RS and hitting Post, then it's worth it.


If only this new thread were some improved public shaming, then! I can recognize and respect the motivation behind what you're saying, but this thread hasn't improved on anything that was going on in the one just a single day older, and the fact that the older one was even closed to make way for a post that reads like a kindergarten lesson on sticks and stones is silly.
posted by shmegegge at 12:31 PM on January 20, 2007


How about we keep it in the less than a day old thread that actually exists?

The one that was closed? Or do you mean that the whole user community and the admins should operate in telepathic lockstep from the get go to avoid the unpleasantness of the occasional MeTa sequel?
posted by cortex at 1:40 PM on January 20, 2007


Yeah, I *demand* psychic mods. That way I can be deleted before I even....
posted by Jofus at 7:03 PM on January 20, 2007


I thought weren't doing the hive-mind thing this year.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:05 AM on January 21, 2007


The Straightener writes "I interviewed a prospective client family for the program I work for earlier today, right before I saw this thread. They're living in the basement of an unheated house in North Philly. They're there right now. They're going to be there until we can place them somewhere next week. It's fucking cold out. They are suffering. Actually suffering."

So I guess that means you didn't offer them your house to live in until you find them somewhere else? That makes you a hypocritical blowhard, not just a blowhard. I understand the impulse: you've simply recreated one of the oldest distinctions in the social services between the deserving suffering and the undeserving suffering. In this case, though, not only are you a bad reader who's willing to condemn someone else based on a few hundred words on the internet, your assumptions are so unexamined that you use as an example suffering that you could have alleviated without too much trouble to yourself. The biggest difference between you and the AskMe poster is that you knew the family before you was suffering, you could have done something to alleviate it, and you turned your back anyway, leaving them to freeze in a cold basement for the weekend.

But leaving aside your heartless response to the suffering in front of you, what do you think would make this guy deserving of feeling bad? What if he had cancer? What if his kid died in a car wreck? What if his wife cheated on him? What if he's black and his son got lynched? What if his lesbian daughter got beat up? What if he was once a poor guy, who remembers what it's like to have to ask some sanctimonious prick at a social service agency for help, only to be turned back into the cold while said prick goes home to a warm meal, a cozy bed, and the playoffs on TV?

The fact is, you read a post by someone who said despite these things I feel shitty, and you decided that because of those things he didn't deserve the benefit of the doubt. You're a bad reader and a worse diagnostician. I might make a similar set of assumptions about your freezing, poor family (whose suffering you could have ameliorated), and say that they're lying. After all, they stand to get a real, material gain out of their sob story to you, while this guy can at most get some reassurance. Of course I won't do that, because I'm a social worker and I remember the part in the NSW Code of Ethics about respecting the inherent dignity in all people. If you're a social worker you should perhaps refresh your memory; if not, you should consider thinking a little bit about the position you occupy relative to your clients, and why you think your comfort (physical, emotional and psychological) is more important than offering your house to a suffering family on a weekend like this. (There are great reasons, but you haven't laid them out, while you have implied that material comfort is somehow morally questionable.)

Caveat: If you work for KWRU, then you get my respect regardless of your heartlessness.
posted by OmieWise at 11:49 AM on January 21, 2007 [1 favorite]


Damn, Omie. I thought *I* was cranky this week.

In Straightener's defense, I would guess you know as well as anyone how easy it is to become entangled with the suffering in front of you and lose perspective.

Straightener is almost certainly headed for early burnout if he doesn't step back a bit, but I don't think he's a sanctimonious prick at heart. He's just joined his clients in crisis mode for the moment.
posted by tkolar at 1:08 PM on January 21, 2007


and why you think your comfort (physical, emotional and psychological) is more important than offering your house to a suffering family on a weekend like this. (There are great reasons, but you haven't laid them out, while you have implied that material comfort is somehow morally questionable.)

if there are "great reasons" for him not to let a family into his "house" then you can't castigate him and call him heartless for not letting them stay the weekend ... speaking of unexamined assumptions, you're assuming that the straightener has a house ... what if he's got a one bedroom apartment and his landlord would throw his ass out if he was letting families crash there all the time?

in short, whatever point you were trying to make was obscured by dumb assumptions and self-contradictory bullshit ... not to mention that he could come right back and claim that he did let the family stay there and you wouldn't know if he was lying about it or not

it's stupid to call people out over their personal lives when you can't verify what they say ... it's not only stupid, but it's destructive to this site, because if everyone does what you've just done, no one will want to tell anyone anecdotes and lessons from their personal life that touch on important issues ... and then metafilter will be a much poorer and shallower place

so knock it off
posted by pyramid termite at 1:32 PM on January 21, 2007


pyramid termite writes "if there are 'great reasons' for him not to let a family into his 'house' then you can't castigate him and call him heartless for not letting them stay the weekend"

Absolutely not true. Part of my point is that I can make any set of assumptions I want about the commenter, that's the game T.S. set up in his comment. There are all kinds of professional reasons T.S. might not want to take those people in, but it's his notion of worth that we're working from here, and he seems to suggest that material comfort makes one unworthy of either empathy or sympathy. It isn't at all beside the point to suggest that he can only write that by excluding his own material comfort seriously from the equation. I made no assumptions about where he lives, or how, except to assume that his overweaning concern (and pride for that concern) for the dire strates of his clients could not possibly be limited by the impingements on his own comfort. (I'm a social worker, too, and I know more than a little bit about the difficult position in which it puts one. I also know that naturalizing that awkward position by choosing to ignore its implications is not a good recipe for ultimately respecting your clients.)

It is precisely my point that writing shitty things about other people on the site is a bad thing to do. There are contexts however, and the context for The Straightener's dismissal of another user's pain was that user's material comfort, while the context for my calling The Straightener out on his assumptions was the displaying of those assumptions to ugly affect. One is based on another users poorly founded opinions, the other on the bad behavior of the user in question. (See my distinction between chastising and mocking earlier in this thread.)
posted by OmieWise at 1:49 PM on January 21, 2007


Part of my point is that I can make any set of assumptions I want about the commenter,

but you can't make me care ... you and him go at it then, as i don't see anything useful coming out of it
posted by pyramid termite at 1:56 PM on January 21, 2007


to be a little clearer, if you're going to make any assumption you want, you can jump down his throat for any reason you can think of and it's just plain worthless for me to discuss it ... have fun with your hostile solipsism
posted by pyramid termite at 2:03 PM on January 21, 2007


Think about it real hard pyramid termite: if you do you might understand why berating an anonymous AskMe questioner for being unhappy is a shitty thing to do. But you already made clear that you agree with The Straightener's slanted reading of the Asker's pain, so I'm mostly puzzled about how you recognized my hostility but seemed to miss his. I guess hostility, like feeling badly, only matters when you disagree with it.
posted by OmieWise at 2:18 PM on January 21, 2007


Oh, and, I must say that I'm completely flaberggasted that you could talk about something being "destructive to the site" and then quote me out of context like that. Had you included the second clause of my sentence it would have been clear that it was not my own solipsism at issue, but The Straightener's decisions about how assumptions should be deployed. I absolutely hate that kind of wheedly bullshit. If you couldn't make the argument in context, couldn't be a dick without selectively quoting (and probably selectively reading), then why didn't you just leave it be? Seriously, WTF. What a fucking intellectually bankrupt move, what a cop-out, what a weasly attempt to pick a fight without standing up to the words as written. If you think The Straightener was right, say that, say why his laying into the anonymous Asker can be justified, argue with me about the set of assumptions (about the worthy and unworthy needy, about what constitutes material comfort that obviates mental anguish, about what constitutes the kind of material comfort that should and should not be considered "bad") that The Straightener deployed. Can't you do that? Apparently not. Apparently, along with Tony Snow and countless other people who want to express an opinion that stands in little relation to reality all you want to do is misquote, be shitty, be sanctimonious. It's a good strategy, but not an intellectually honest one. It's also bad for the site.
posted by OmieWise at 2:30 PM on January 21, 2007


if you do you might understand why berating an anonymous AskMe questioner for being unhappy is a shitty thing to do.

except that a) his unhappiness seems to be more the existential kind b) if you read real close, you might have seen where the straightener actually had some workable suggestions

But you already made clear that you agree with The Straightener's slanted reading of the Asker's pain

i agree with what he has suggested - a) be grateful for what he has b) look at what other people are going through

and your suggestion was ... hmmm, just what was your suggestion ... anything?

I'm mostly puzzled about how you recognized my hostility but seemed to miss his.

it must have had something to do with being offset by a suggested solution on his part

Oh, and, I must say that I'm completely flaberggasted that you could talk about something being "destructive to the site" and then quote me out of context like that.

i must say that you're being a whiny troll ... bye ... go pick a fight with someone else ... you're obviously itching for one and i'm not in the mood

ps how far is philadelphia from baltimore and how hard would it be for you to drive over and pick up that poor cold family and put them up for the weekend?

what's that? ... that's grossly unfair? ... hmmmmmm
posted by pyramid termite at 2:39 PM on January 21, 2007


What is it that you do, again?
posted by OmieWise at 3:10 PM on January 21, 2007


Damn, Omie. I thought *I* was cranky this week.

You've completely missed Omie's point, which is sharp, on target, and (as usual) superbly expressed. Read a tad more carefully and you should have quite a different reaction.

What is it that you do, again?

Makes ill-thought-out comments with too few capital letters and too many ellipses. I ignore them, myself.
posted by languagehat at 3:33 PM on January 21, 2007


Makes ill-thought-out comments with too few capital letters and too many ellipses.

ah, showing your true prescriptivist colors, i see ...

I ignore them, myself.

you weren't yesterday

(insert random ad hominems or requests for information to use in ad hominems here)
posted by pyramid termite at 3:44 PM on January 21, 2007


languagehat wrote...
You've completely missed Omie's point, which is sharp, on target, and (as usual) superbly expressed. Read a tad more carefully and you should have quite a different reaction.

Dunno, I'm not seeing it. It appears as if he just engaged in some "You like tough love? Let me demonstrate what it feels like" theatrics. Couple of low blows to grab Straightener's attention followed by an appeal to professionalism.

As I said about ikkyu2's response to anon: Just because the guy needed a kick in the pants doesn't mean OmieWise didn't enjoy supplying it.

Only in this case I'm

a) Not sure that Straightener really needed it.
b) Pretty sure OmieWise really enjoyed supplying it.
posted by tkolar at 3:50 PM on January 21, 2007


a) Not sure that Straightener really needed it.

Impossible to be sure, of course, but a reasonable hypothesis, if you ask me.

b) Pretty sure OmieWise really enjoyed supplying it.

Sure. So? Is one not allowed to enjoy one's own rhetoric? I know I do. And I enjoyed his as well, so as far as I'm concerned it was win-win.
posted by languagehat at 5:33 PM on January 21, 2007


Y'all defending The Straightener's points do realize that this thread is supposedly not one that the anon poster is reading?

Which, in fact, was my entire point?

His "solutions" or "perspectives" or whatever else, if they're worthwhile, can go in the AskMe thread.

Anything he says "to" the poster here is gossiping behind the poster's back.

The Straightener, and others here, obviously have the brains to construct a response that would meet the criteria of AskMe. It would be nice if they also had the courage to say it to the face of the person asking for help, rather than simply sniping about him behind his back.
posted by occhiblu at 9:43 PM on January 21, 2007


Y'all defending The Straightener's points do realize that this thread is supposedly not one that the anon poster is reading?

i don't know any such thing ... neither do you

The Straightener, and others here, obviously have the brains to construct a response that would meet the criteria of AskMe.

the straightener's response is still up in the askme thread and therefore de facto meets those criteria
posted by pyramid termite at 6:03 AM on January 22, 2007


no, actually, it isn't ... my mistake ... still, the idea that we can be "gossiping behind the poster's back" on a publicly accessible site closely related to the one the poster used doesn't hold water
posted by pyramid termite at 6:45 AM on January 22, 2007


1. The reason given for attacking the poster in various AskMe threads was that "he's not reading this anyway." So if that's the case, then it is talking behind his back.

2. If he *is* reading this, and we assume that he is (which I actually would assume), then my point is that we should not be using MeTa to skirt the rules of civility in AskMe, by "answering" him here in nasty ways that would be deleted from AskMe.

Either way, talking to the guy here rather than there is either pointless gossip, if you believe #1, or violating the spirit of the rules of AskMe, if you believe #2.
posted by occhiblu at 9:05 AM on January 22, 2007


Grr, sorry, that should have been "for attacking the poster in various MeTa threads."
posted by occhiblu at 9:25 AM on January 22, 2007


1. The reason given for attacking the poster in various AskMe threads was that "he's not reading this anyway." So if that's the case, then it is talking behind his back.

as you know i don't buy that logic ... and i don't see "talking behind his back" as an evil thing, anyway

2. If he *is* reading this, and we assume that he is (which I actually would assume), then my point is that we should not be using MeTa to skirt the rules of civility in AskMe, by "answering" him here in nasty ways that would be deleted from AskMe.

what you're really saying is that meta should be moderated to the same degree as askme ... i disagree ... and i think people should stop being treated as if they were these fragile glass dolls that would break if you breathed hard on them ... that way lies pablum and mediocrity

anon has been protected from nastiness in askme, more or less ... if he is uncomfortable with the other parts of the site, he can quit reading them
posted by pyramid termite at 9:35 AM on January 22, 2007


The original question read like one long brag session with intermittent troubles (I have more $ than you, I get more sex than you, I have more kids than you, I have a business...) asked anonymously.
I may have made an insensitive comment in the previous MeTa thread. But, I never assumed the OP wasn't reading, I assumed the OP's scenario is BS. The internet is terrible with made up stories because of anonymity, add another layer of anonymity on top of an outrageously written story wherein he preemptively dismisses any answers that may actually, you know, HELP him if his situation is indeed real and I find it hard to care. The OP isn't fostering any sense of community, so I feel little in return. This isn't a church, we don't provide absolution to anonymous confessions. The answers lie within and strangers can't do jack all if you aren't willing to get real life help.
posted by edgeways at 8:50 PM on January 22, 2007


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