Are we going to be bummed when we hear that users have offed themselves after posting their suicide plans on AskMe? April 27, 2007 5:17 AM   Subscribe

So, this user wants to ice himself and post it on the internet. Or, the question is "totally theoretical." Who knows. I know this question has come up before, but the film-my-own-suicide dude seems to have an actual plan. I am thinking of the Viriginia Tech situation where former professors and classmates are coming with an example-a-minute of things the shooter wrote and said that people didn't respond to. I am picturing a local news story with friends and family going through this dude's bookmarked sites and saying "He pleaded for help on this site..." and seeing the green up there. Maybe MeFites more senior to myself can shed some light on this. I don't have a position either way (or, I should say, I have opinions that go both ways), I am more just wondering what an online community's responsibility is to its members, if any.
posted by sneakin to Etiquette/Policy at 5:17 AM (84 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

If someone was really intent on killing themselves and autoposting it to YouTube, they could have come up with a plausible cover story (either "I'm writing a book about..." or "I'm monitoring a remote process and want to the videos to be widely available..."). That they didn't says it's either a troll (about half of all AskMes seem to be trolls, IMO) or a cry for help.
posted by DU at 5:31 AM on April 27, 2007


you have to just answer the question ... anything else would be judgmental and disruptive to the site

next up - "i have a nuclear bomb - what american city should i use it in?"
posted by pyramid termite at 5:32 AM on April 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


If my friend kills himself, how do I dispose of the body?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:54 AM on April 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'd say Cleveland, pyramid termite. There's another Hellmouth in Cleveland, you know.
posted by cgc373 at 5:55 AM on April 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


cgc373 I am so excited by the Buffy reference that I no longer care about the pesky suicide conundrum. Thank you
posted by sneakin at 5:57 AM on April 27, 2007


Oh, and Blazecock Pileon, you'd eat the body, of course.
posted by cgc373 at 5:57 AM on April 27, 2007


It's funny, sneakin, but I'm almost ashamed of the Buffy ref. The stuff is sunk deep in me, though, so I bust 'em out inappropriate-like, way too often.
posted by cgc373 at 5:59 AM on April 27, 2007


"Are we going to be bummed when we hear that users have offed themselves after posting their suicide plans on AskMe?"

Depends on how crappy the video quality is on youtube.

And please stop using VT or whatever crisis of the moment as a justification for every single nannying, paternalistic impulse in your brain. At some point, the responsibility rests on the individual. He did not plead for help. Speaking as somone who has both given and received mental health care, it is overreaction like yours that keeps people from seeking help before things become too serious.

"We're afraid you're going to hurt somebody! We're afraid you're going to hurt yourself! So we decided that it would be in your best interest..."

There is a wide gap between killing yourself and going on a rampage where you kill tons of others.

As it stands, the question sounds like hypotheticalfilter to me. If a question about developing a resistance to poison can be deleted (sorry cortex!), then something someone is "trying to figure out" with his college roomies is fair game for deletation (deletement?).
posted by Eideteker at 6:04 AM on April 27, 2007 [12 favorites]


I am picturing a local news story with friends and family going through this dude's bookmarked sites and saying "He pleaded for help on this site..." and seeing the green up there.

Isn't assisted suicide illegal everywhere but Oregon? Anyway, consider this thread a decent CYA, perhaps. It might even make a good epitaph: "Alas, we thought enough of his plight to call him out in the grey."
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:06 AM on April 27, 2007


And I'm not saying "Fuck you," sneakin, because I don't know you. But if I did know you, and you said something like this, I would say "Fuck you." I'd probably also suggest you put down the newspaper and go outside, where you'd see that 99.9999% of people are not out to remake the latest movie-of-the-week tragedy. Bandying about your "cause" does a disservice to the memory of those who were killed. Do not try to see things through the lens of the most prominent current events. You will be forever chasing windmills.
posted by Eideteker at 6:07 AM on April 27, 2007


Eideteker, I'll be referencing VT until the next tragedy of its ilk happens. It's just logical to do so. In the days after Columbine we used that. After 9/11 we used that. It's not a statement of any kind. It's a reference point.
posted by sneakin at 6:08 AM on April 27, 2007


Hey, Eideteker, you might be reading too much into my question. As I said, I was interested in what people thought about this in the context of an online community. This is not my "cause," it's an interest as a member of various online communities. I didn't accuse anyone of being out to remake a movie of the week tragedy-- but it's funny you use that phrasing, because the asker was....out...to...make...a...movie of...nevermind. Clearly, you have some hangups about how the public responds to this stuff and somehow that's all gotten funneled into your responses here. That's cool, we all have our demons. Go for it, bro!
posted by sneakin at 6:11 AM on April 27, 2007


Tell me about it, cgc373. I have embarassed myself with out of context Buffy references too many times to count. That said, it's ALWAYS worth it. Keep 'em comin'.
posted by sneakin at 6:12 AM on April 27, 2007


Clearly, you have some hangups about how the public responds to this stuff and somehow that's all gotten funneled into your responses here. That's cool, we all have our demons. Go for it, bro!

Dude, you're the one bringing all this up in Metatalk - he's simply responding to your ninny-ness by saying 'grow up'. (Not a word, I know.) If there's anyone here with hangups, it's you.

I notice that *you* didn't respond to his post, his 'cry for help'. If something does happen and people come to the green looking for answers, I'll point my finger at you and say "He recognized the signs and did nothing. Well, he posted a bit of navel-gazing, but then did nothing." And then I'll make some sort of trendy Mefi reference, like "Hi, I'm from Metafilter and I did overthink a plate of beans."
posted by unixrat at 6:17 AM on April 27, 2007


Eideteker, I'll be referencing VT until the next tragedy of its ilk happens. It's just logical to do so. In the days after Columbine we used that. After 9/11 we used that. It's not a statement of any kind. It's a reference point.

Yes, clearly quinquennial worldwide news events are a good reference point for living your daily life by.
posted by cillit bang at 6:21 AM on April 27, 2007 [4 favorites]


"In the days after Columbine we used that. After 9/11 we used that."

Yeah, that's what I'm really sick of. It's a cognitive shortcut, and a really lazy one at that. It allows you to avoid evaluating each situation on an individual basis, and leads to mass misdiagnosis. I have a friend whose youngest brother was pulled out of classes, sent for mental health counselling, and nearly suspended for drawing a picture of himself with a gun for a school assignment. In middle school. The assignment? "What do you want to be when you grow up?" He wanted to be a CIA agent (or maybe it was Secret Service, this was a while ago). Ok, so maybe a government agent in the real world is not a gun-toting superhuman, but how is a middle school kid supposed to know that? How is he supposed to know that his aspiration, fueled by images the TV and movie industries, will land him in serious trouble? You're supposed to want to be like Jack Bauer or any soldier in a war movie, but if you do so, you wind up standing tall before the man. So the song still rings true:

"...when I went to your schools, I went to your churches, I went to your institutional learning facilities?"

I watched the shows you told me to watch, the movies you told me to see, and so on.

Maybe the teacher was confused with the difference between drawing a gun in school (as in unholstering) and drawing a gun in school (as in illustrating).

Whatever. The point is, STOP FUCKING OVERREACTING. False positives ruin the system. So do false negatives, but I think in the long run, the false positives do more damage. I don't think my friend's brother was ever the same. I waited til high school to get disenfranchised, at least. All he wanted was to serve his country, and look cool doing it (according to the media images he was fed). And he ended up losing his dream, his focus, which depending on who you ask is the most important thing in a young mind (read up on identity diffusion).
posted by Eideteker at 6:23 AM on April 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


cillit bang: Not to live my life by. To post related events on one thread on one website to. I had a feeling that posting to the grey would result not so much in discussion of the question but more into a value judgement of how I phrased it. Sweet. However, great use of the word quinquennial!
posted by sneakin at 6:24 AM on April 27, 2007


I was interested in what people thought about this in the context of an online community.

It looks like there are a bunch of people explaining their thoughts about it in the AskMe thread, which is in an online community.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:25 AM on April 27, 2007


If someone was really intent on killing themselves and autoposting it to YouTube, they could have come up with a plausible cover story (either "I'm writing a book about..." or "I'm monitoring a remote process and want to the videos to be widely available..."). That they didn't says it's either a troll (about half of all AskMes seem to be trolls, IMO) or a cry for help.

Is not "...my assurances to all that I'm not suicidal or otherwise unwell. This is a question that a bunch of my friends and I are currently trying to hash out. (One friend recently watched some suicide videos as part of her psychology work, and got us talking.)" a plausible cover story, DU?

Mefi seems to have decided that theoretical questions are no good. I disagree strongly, as I've asked them and read them and found the discussions fascinating, but there we are. If the complaint is that this is theoretical, so be it, complain on those grounds, but I doubt ashbury was a murderer or trolling, and I wasn't planning on extinguishing the sun, and, since we got both a "plausible" explanation and an explicit assurance that this was not something he was planning....

I don't see the problem.
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 6:26 AM on April 27, 2007


CHUDMONKEY DON"T DO IT WE ALL LOVE YOU>
posted by chunking express at 6:26 AM on April 27, 2007


It probably would have been a little more sensitive for the OP to word his question in such a way that "StrictlyHypotheticalSuicideFilter" was not the most optimistic reading. But I guess we don't award many points for sensitivity around here, either.
posted by crackingdes at 6:27 AM on April 27, 2007


Ok, Eideteker, you have the biggest intellectual penis. I am going to read up on identity diffusion now.
posted by sneakin at 6:28 AM on April 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


Hypothetical suicide threads: Threat or Menace? On the next... MetaTalk!
posted by Eideteker at 6:29 AM on April 27, 2007


Or, what I posted, which was hypothetical suicide threads: What are your thoughts? But you can look at it the other way, too.
posted by sneakin at 6:35 AM on April 27, 2007


And for the record John Kenneth Fisher, I liked the sun burning out question.
posted by sneakin at 6:36 AM on April 27, 2007


"Ok, Eideteker, you have the biggest intellectual penis."

Dude, "mind boner" is totally my new sock puppet name. And you can take "do some reading" as an imperative, but it was meant as a suggestion, for those who underestimate the point I was making. Hey, if it gets you to better yourself through learning, my mission is accomplished.
posted by Eideteker at 6:38 AM on April 27, 2007


I'd say Cleveland

no, if we're going to pick an ohio city, it's GOT to be columbus

damn ohio state, anyway
posted by pyramid termite at 6:39 AM on April 27, 2007


sneakin, what part of "my assurances to all that I'm not suicidal or otherwise unwell" was it hard for you to understand? Why did you not believe the poster's very clear statement that he's not suicidal? Not only are you here saying "this user wants to ice himself" - clearly wrong based on all the evidence - and claiming "the film-my-own-suicide dude seems to have an actual plan."

Learn to read, and stop projecting your own crap on other folks' questions.
posted by mediareport at 6:40 AM on April 27, 2007


...[but you're also claiming], not "and claiming"...
posted by mediareport at 6:42 AM on April 27, 2007


Are we going to be bummed when we hear that users have offed themselves after posting their suicide plans on AskMe?

Why yes, I suspect we are.

I am more just wondering what an online community's responsibility is to its members, if any.

Look, if things are either obvious or extreme, there may be an outside possibility that one of the 3 moderators of the site will try to engage with the alleged suicidist or perhaps even intercede on their behalf somehow off-site (big maybe). I wouldn't want to even speculate if or what might happen in that regard but I would think that it would be mathowie or jessamyn or cortex's human response to what they perceived as a crisis and it wouldn't be a community or moderator responsibility, per se.

Otherwise, when people express things in ways that give clues that they are on a downward slope, responders will, you know, try to provide some help. But it's a message board. It's not a crisis intervention centre. And besides, this topic is pure speculation (present hypothetical Askme Q aside) and no particular ground rules can or should be established. The 'response' to any given situation within the ambit of your question will rely upon the facts of the case at the time.

But if someone does in fact post their suicide plans along with a question to Askme, the question will probably be deleted.
posted by peacay at 6:44 AM on April 27, 2007


One of the lousier parts of my job here is trying to figure out whether people are suicidal. We get a lot of troubling AnonyMes -- well not a lot, but a nonzero number -- and figuring out the best course of action is something that mathowie and I (and probably cortex but he's new) take pretty seriously.

The OP in this question does not appear in any way to be suicidal except that the topic of his question is suicide. This is problematic from an AskMe perspective because we've seen in that thread and others, people have strong reactions to suicide. I'd be surprised if it were otherwise, frankly.

A more valid objection would just be the "how to" ness of this question. So, if someone did actually find a way to kill themselves on YouTube -- MeFi member or not -- one could argue that they got the tech knowledge form this thread. I see that as a reach and not worth deleting the question over.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:46 AM on April 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


What's your stance on the hypotheticality, Jess?
posted by Eideteker at 6:47 AM on April 27, 2007


I am more just wondering what an online community's responsibility is to its members, if any

It's responsible for naming my cat or business, helping with any relationship problem, figuring out if something is safe to eat, mix tape recommendations and remembering old movie/tvshows/songs or books.

AskMefi is pretty good at offering suggestions for people who need real help, to the point where it's suggested specific help centers or doctors in the user's city. It short, it's been very human and kind and as a community of online strangers can be.

So, the real question is "What is a member of online community responsiblity to themselves?" 'Cause if someone asks for help and then gets suggestions for help and doesn't do anything about it, that's on them.

Metafilter can't make anyone do anything they weren't already interested in doing. It's a bunch of snarky, cliche, silly, stupid, occasionally brillant words on a computer screen.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:58 AM on April 27, 2007


Hypothetical/theoretical questions that have real answers are generally okay We leave hypothetical science and math questions in all the time. Usually we draw the line at weird "what if" questions that are just asking people to speculate some future scenario based on an impossible event because they basically become chatfilter questions - no one knows, everyone guesses, no answer is righter than any other. This question is a logistical question that happens to have a hypothetical built around it.

The faq currently says "Open-ended unanswerable hypothetical questions like 'What if Hitler had never been born?' or made up "what if" science questions." and that seems to be decent for most puposes, and allows this question.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:00 AM on April 27, 2007


Mind boner FTW
posted by sneakin at 7:02 AM on April 27, 2007


there may be an outside possibility that one of the 3 moderators of the site will try to engage with the alleged suicidist or perhaps even intercede on their behalf somehow off-site (big maybe)

Not a direct response to peacay's comment, but it's worth noting that setting up the expectation, however small, that moderators will intercede may actually be dangerous to suicidal members who might then post after doing something stupid in the expectation that they'll soon get help from moderators who can track them down, when in fact the moderators can't track them down.

That's a bad expectation to set up, and I'd have no problem with the moderators here making it clear that they do not intercede when depressed members post questions about suicide.
posted by mediareport at 7:11 AM on April 27, 2007


Wow, Eideteker is really being an ass. These issues are always relevant. Whenever someone commits suicide theres always questions about signs and warnings etc, so yes if someone is reaching out we should help. However in this case I dont believe this person was really planning suicide.. in addition to the assurance they gave it just seems like a plausible thing to be curious about, altho a bit morbid.. I for one have gone to rotten.com and been curious about things like this, that doesnt mean im suicidal. On the other hand, if someone was really posting a question like how to commit suicide then I think we have an obligation to try to talk them out of it, or at least provide links to counseling services etc. Answer-the-question-and-dont-be-judgemental rule is a good rule but imo it should be overruled in cases where the question is like "where should i jump off a bridge" so I agree with sneakin on this one
posted by petsounds at 7:17 AM on April 27, 2007


Is it wrong if I get a mind boner while reading AskMe?
posted by NationalKato at 7:17 AM on April 27, 2007


If we were to assume that the AskMe poster was truly suicidal despite his explicitly saying he is not and there being no indications in the question besides the use of the word "suicide," then that means that any question with the word "suicide" in it would merit this "discussion." Let's worry about problems that actually exist, rather than straining to create problems out of nothing.
posted by Falconetti at 7:20 AM on April 27, 2007


Not to live my life by.

But your first thought on reading that question was apparently "killing spree?", and you're urging us to consider it a realistic possibility we should moderate the question by.
posted by cillit bang at 7:22 AM on April 27, 2007


You don't need to think there is any latent suicidal tendencies in the OP, be worried about real-life consequences, or even reference VT to think that the question is just plain old f'ing bad taste.

As was pointed out in the thread itself, it could just as easily been asked as a purely procedural question without bringing suicide into it. As posted, however, it trivializes something that is a tragedy every time it happens.
posted by mkultra at 7:45 AM on April 27, 2007


This site is going through a dumb cycle.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:57 AM on April 27, 2007


I am picturing a local news story with friends and family going through this dude's bookmarked sites and saying "He pleaded for help on this site..." and seeing the green up there.

That's pretty funny. Reporting as tragedy porn has become so cliche and formulaic that most people have internalized this kind of 'if only somebody had...' non-logic. sneakin, you ought to just ahead and script out the whole thing. I'm sure there might be a Lifetime movie of the week in there and there'll be demand once VT is a no longer active in the news cycle (give it 6-8 mos). But in terms what the community should do, well, this kind of event would generate a lot of virgin publicity that could well put the green ahead of inferior-but-more-popular sites like Yahoo Answers! I imagine many people will come for the shock but stay for the pretty colors.
posted by nixerman at 8:01 AM on April 27, 2007


No one was concerned the Suicide Girls were going to kill themselves.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 8:03 AM on April 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


Crash, that's because their burlesque show sucks.

nixerman, what's made me think of it is the post that discussed seeing Ebert's well-wishers from MeFi in the Chicago Trib. But, yeah, I can get something drafted and put up in Projects in like, a day.
posted by sneakin at 8:08 AM on April 27, 2007


am I the only one who thinks that if I were going to commit suicide and try to get a video of it posted to youtube, then I wouldn't actually mention suicide in the question for fear of it being deleted before I get my answer?

and if I were in some way crying for help, then I'd probably be a lot more obvious in the text of the question. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't go for this odd middle ground where I mention suicide and then try to cover it up after the fact. This isn't a conversation where you have to work with the first thing out of your mouth. You have all the time in the world to either craft a cleverly hidden request for information, or an effective cry for help. This? This just feels like someone who isn't THAT interested in the information being direct and honest because they neither have anything to hide nor a desperate need for the information.
posted by shmegegge at 8:29 AM on April 27, 2007


I wouldn't kill myself on youtube unless I had some weird interest in all the comments about my demise being: LOL, Fag!
posted by Divine_Wino at 8:31 AM on April 27, 2007 [6 favorites]


am I the only one who thinks that if I were going to commit suicide and try to get a video of it posted to youtube, then I wouldn't actually mention suicide in the question for fear of it being deleted before I get my answer? -shmegegge

Unless you want us to think that you wouldn't post a question that mentions suicide if you were suicidal, but you really are suicidal, so the best way to avoid suspicion of suicidal intent is to mention suicide!

But if you are not suicidal,you might want to pretend to pretend not to be suicidal, since merely pretending not to be suicidal is a sure sign of suicidal intent, and would get you banned.

STOP TRICKING US!!!11!

Stop tricking us!
posted by Mister_A at 8:39 AM on April 27, 2007


/echo
posted by Mister_A at 8:40 AM on April 27, 2007


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~shoa
posted by Kwantsar at 9:01 AM on April 27, 2007


It seemed to me that the suicide question was entirely fabricated to test AskMe's "just answer the question; don't preach to the asker" policy in the wake of the concealed weapon question. Which probably means I need to get out more.
posted by LionIndex at 9:24 AM on April 27, 2007


pyramid termite, I don't give a damn about the entirety of your state.
posted by Kwine at 10:00 AM on April 27, 2007


Hypothetical suicide threads: Threat or Menace? On the next... MetaTalk!

OK, we absolutely need to change MeTa into a daytime talk show. Podcast, shmodcast, bring on the paternity tests and boyfriend-stealing mothers!
posted by Rock Steady at 10:08 AM on April 27, 2007


So, if someone did actually find a way to kill themselves on YouTube -- MeFi member or not -- one could argue that they got the tech knowledge form this thread. I see that as a reach and not worth deleting the question over.

This is exactly why I included my little PSA in my answer to the question. It wasn't for chudmonkey. I believed them when they said the question was hypothetical. Sorry if it bothered anyone. But people who are suicidal absolutely do search the internet when they are planning how to do it. The fact that they'd have to be looking for information on a pretty specific way to do it, and that the question would have to make its way up the search engine rankings are all that makes it less likely. I said what I did in the question because I honestly thought it irresponsible of this community to not say something along those lines.

Also, I don't understand why some, including chudmonkey, got annoyed that people were making too much of the suicide aspect of the question. That is what the question was about, as posted. Nowhere in the original question did chudmonkey say that the question was meant to be more general, and that relating it to suicide was meant only to make the situation more concrete. And nowhere did chudmonkey give one single other example of what this information could be used for. If they didn't have any other examples in mind, then why the heck even post the question. It seems totally pointless. So, chudmonkey, if you'd please explain exactly what your question is asking, I would appreciate it, because yes, apparently I am misunderstanding your question, but I don't think it's completely my fault.
posted by gauchodaspampas at 10:12 AM on April 27, 2007


"so I agree with sneakin on this one"

I'm glad this is a black-and-white, either-or, us-vs-them issue. I agree that we have a responsibility to answer cries for help. What I don't agree with is trotting out the latest tragedy when it fits worse than the suit I'm wearing right now. It's pretty clear the querent is not suicidal, and if they are, they have done a suitable enough job of disguising it that I will sleep peacefully at night.

But yes, I am an ass.

"Let's worry about problems that actually exist, rather than straining to create problems out of nothing."

That's what I wanted to say, more tactfully than I wanted to say it. But it's no fun if I can't get even a little angry about it.

This is how I see the evolution of this post:
  • sneakin sees the AskMe
  • sneakin starts thinking about suicide
  • sneakin, as a fairly compassionate person, starts thinking about how terrible it would be if someone posted about their impending suicide and we didn't catch it
  • sneakin, who is a diligent news consumer, is reminded of the VT tragedy (suicide → murder-suicide)
  • sneakin thinks it would be even more tragic if a murder-suicide post to AskMe would be even worse
  • sneakin, still acting out of compassion, composes a post about "what if this happened here?"
  • For lack of a more apropos post (thankfully; I mean, I'm glad there was no actual suicide thread to link to), sneakin links to the hypowhatever faux-suicide thread.
  • Realizing that the thread will get rapidly shot down (or even closed) without punchier framing, sneakin revises the post to make it look like she thinks someone is going to kill themselves. The link text reads: "So, this user wants to ice himself and post it on the internet," which contains in it a powerful assumption.
  • sneakin adds some color text about Virginia Tech, to add immediacy and relevance, hoping the thread will be better received if it is a little more grounded than "what if this happened here?"
  • The Usual Gang of Assholes (NOTE: NOT A CABAL™) react with much sturm und drang to the implication that we nanny every irreverent AskMe poster who violates the suicide taboo.
  • The thread is polarized, names are called, and so on. The usual MeTa lovefest.

    So yeah. I understand that the idea behind the post came from a place of goodness. sneakin, I'm sorry if I slapped your mouth with my brain penis. In the end, we all agree that it's a Very Bad Thing for warning signs to be missed. But my point is that it does equal or more harm (most of which is not seen or noticed) to see warning signs everywhere.

  • posted by Eideteker at 10:12 AM on April 27, 2007


    "OK, we absolutely need to change MeTa into a daytime talk show. Podcast, shmodcast, bring on the paternity tests and boyfriend-stealing mothers!"

    I totally volunteer to be the deliberately provocative, faux-sympathetic asshole egoist (or is that egotist?) host. Because life is precious. And god. And the bible.
    posted by Eideteker at 10:14 AM on April 27, 2007


    OK, we absolutely need to change MeTa into a daytime talk show. Podcast, shmodcast, bring on the paternity tests and boyfriend-stealing mothers!

    No, no, that's AskMe. MeTa is the Sunday roundtable talk shows. "You ignorant slut!"
    posted by languagehat at 10:29 AM on April 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


    AUTOPOSTING YOUR VIDEO SUICIDE ON YOUTUBE is lesson 6 on Hackey Hack.
    posted by quonsar at 10:35 AM on April 27, 2007


    Well, which Meta is going to finally tell me that Sandra Bullock is married to Jesse James, for god's sake?
    posted by Kirth Gerson at 10:35 AM on April 27, 2007


    in 7 lines or less.
    posted by quonsar at 10:36 AM on April 27, 2007


    I'm sorry if I slapped your mouth with my brain penis.

    Now there's a greeting card.
    posted by Fuzzy Monster at 10:56 AM on April 27, 2007


    If a question about developing a resistance to poison can be deleted

    There was a question about developing resistance to poison, and it got deleted? I want to know about that!
    posted by dreamsign at 11:37 AM on April 27, 2007


    Eideteker, despite how much care you took to compose that thoughtful blow by blow, the only part of it that corresponds to reality (as experienced by me, I can't speak to your reality) is when you point out that I posted something on this website. Other than that, sorry, bro, no dice. If you can't extend me the courtesy of trusting that, as a thinking human being, my motives for posting on a community website are sound (i.e. based in some questions and ideas I have and then articulated), there's not much I can really argue with you about. If you don't agree with me, you don't agree. But accusing me of "revising" my post to make it something you and others might want to respond to is weak sauce because some people who weren't derailed by our flamewar, were indeed weighing in. All that said, I can tell that flexing your muscles is what makes these conversations interesting to you. And this crazy online stuff is all what we make it. So, please, continue.

    No worries on the brain penis thing. I just didn't see it coming. Next time I'll be on the look out.
    posted by sneakin at 12:02 PM on April 27, 2007


    Is your NogginCock circumcised? Should it be? Find out on the next MetaTalk!1!!
    posted by Mister_A at 12:16 PM on April 27, 2007


    I spend a lot of time formulating my questions to AskMeFi, because in my experience a few things are generally true:

    1) A lot of posters do not include relevant details, including restrictions, in their questions and the thread thusly gets junked up with respondents asking for all kinds of clarifications or offering myriad qualified suggestions to compensate for missing data.

    2) A lot of respondents offer variations of "Why bother?" or "Just do this instead."

    3) A lot of respondents offer single-word links without context or opinion.

    I just want to avoid that BS, so the thread is as helpful to me and future readers as possible. In writing my post yesterday, I wanted it to be totally clear that in my hypothetical scenario, the individual would need a fool-proof system as he would not have the ability to monitor or adjust the process as it ran.

    I decided I had the option to simply post the truth about what I wanted to know and why, thereby equipping potential respondents with as much good data as possible, but risking... well, all this; Or I could define an uncontextualized scenario that fit the same parameters, never mention suicide and sort through the inevitable deposit of responses amounting to "Why would you ever need to do that? Just do something conventional, like this".

    I know that some people find the topic of suicide distasteful, and I don't blame them. I know that some people even find the topic of suicide unspeakable, and I do blame those people for all the ways they prevent desperate people from being honest. But I also have my personal opinion which is that suicude is a lot like prostitution: I feel a deep sympathy for anyone doing it out of desperation, and a deep regard for anyone doing it out of genuine, legitimate will. And I find both conditions fascinating in their ways.

    My first instinct is almost always to be polite and low-key in a public forum, so I strongly considered posting the censored version of my question. But in the end I decided that realistically the worse that would happen is that a bunch of snarky and/or over-emotional strangers would deliver their lamentable and/or ridiculous opinions to me in place of responses to my question, and I would have to/get to laugh about them with my friends who are also curious about my original question.

    For the record: my question was strictly hypothetical, although I was half-expecting to learn that the scenario had already occured - if not in real life, then in a book or movie. I fully expected at least one respondent to post links to suicide support resources, or else I intended to research a few and post them myself for the benefit of future readers of the suicidal variety. I don't honestly think my post will inspire the described behaviour, but I won't be shocked if somebody does do something similar. And my friends and I always figured the individual would make the YouTube posting private and only invite certain others to view it - of course YouTube would take it down very quickly otherwise.

    In conclusion, let me offer my truest thanks to everyone in the AskMeFi and MetaTalk threads who either posted a comment addressing my original question legitimately, or who read the thread and didn't post because you didn't have anything worth-while to add.
    posted by chudmonkey at 12:24 PM on April 27, 2007


    Chudmonkey, thanks for the thoughtful explanation. I have to say I still don't really understand your motivation for posting your question. Pure curiosity I guess? I suppose I just can't see why you're curious about it. But at this point that's on me. Sorry if my answer wasn't helpful. I imagine it wasn't. For the record, it didn't come out exactly as I had intended it. I did mean to emphasize that yes, I do think it's possible to do what you described, and I think most would agree. Unfortunately, I don't have the knowledge to give any ideas how it might be done.

    Also, I'm glad to know that you agree that it is appropriate to post some sort of information leading to resources for suicidal people. Also, though I would agree that I doubt your post will put the idea fresh in someone's head to post a video of their suicide online. What I was more concerned about was that someone who already had the idea might come across the question looking for ways to do it. It is mainly for any people in that situation that I posted the suicide hotline.
    posted by gauchodaspampas at 1:03 PM on April 27, 2007


    Also, sorry for being too confrontational in my first response to this MeTa. Thank you for not responding in kind.
    posted by gauchodaspampas at 1:05 PM on April 27, 2007


    Ricardo Lopez, aka the "Bjork stalker," filmed his own suicide before youtube even existed.
    posted by bardic at 1:19 PM on April 27, 2007


    My motivation was in fact simple curiousity. As for why I'm curious about it, I'm not sure I can answer that. I was part of a conversation about suicide videos. The idea of finding suicide videos on YouTube was mentioned and the rebuke offered that dead people can't post to YouTube. The geek and pedant in me determined that a dead person could do so, with some planning. Disagreement arose and so the geek and pedant in me sought to prove their hypothesis and gently shame my friends.

    I can't say how my curiosity arose. I can only say that I don't ignore my curiousity when topics like death come up. I try to learn anything that it occurs to me I don't know, within practical bounds.
    posted by chudmonkey at 2:08 PM on April 27, 2007


    And for the curious: I don't intend to personally attempt it, but thanks partly to AskMeFi responses and partly to a friend who wasn't in on the original conversation, I now understand how to create a set-and-forget, 99.9%-foolproof automatic scheduled video-capture + YouTube posting process. My friend tells me it could even defeat certain CAPTCHAs without too much trouble.

    So, question answered. But, understanding the awesome power this information could hold, I will safeguard it forever.

    Jessamyn: I'm sorry if I freaked you out, and I'm sorry that my post resulted in any work for you whatsoever. I think your job at MetaFilter is important and I think you do it admirably. I just wish you didn't have to do it so often.
    posted by chudmonkey at 2:30 PM on April 27, 2007


    Both threads (the AskMe and this one) bummed me out. Though I don't mind sharing why when I think it'll help, I recognized that this question was an academic exercise using suicide as an example, and not a cry for help, as some people took it, and decided not to say anything.

    But I came back to it because I've been thinking about the unspeakable all day, and I just thought I should point out the power of fallout. You see it as something to learn about, and you made an interesting point about regard for will upthread; curiosity and openness is a good thing. I've learned altogether too much about suicide. I know it intimately, and I can't help but relive the past and think about things I'd prefer to bring up to myself in my own time. But that's neither here nor there.

    It's selfish for me to blame your hypothetical suicide question for my sadness last night and this morning; it's a slow-healing wound for me, but not one that I can, as one user among many, expect anyone else to be mindful of.

    Which makes me wonder why I'm even writing this. I guess I just want to point out that there are people who might be deeply upset by seemingly unnecessary suicide references who don't do their handwringing online, and while it's a fool's game to try to predict every reaction to everything, when it comes to suicide there are always going to be folks who appreciate a lighter touch.

    I don't mean to criticize you for your post, because I don't think you deserve it. Suicide is a tricky subject: it's impossible to know exactly what it means to anyone else.
    posted by breezeway at 3:07 PM on April 27, 2007


    I was really surprised about the reaction to this question. In retrospect, I suppose I shouldn't have been considering how far out of context mefites have the tendency to take questions. Anyway, strange questions about the possibility of certain processes run through my mind all the time. Not because I have a specific interest in whatever the process is related to, but because I am always curious testing the limits of what is and isn't possible. I would never want to watch a video of someone's suicide (or murder), but if I had to watch such a film in a class, I could definitely see myself wondering if, in our tech-crazy, me-media age, if it would be possible for someone to commit suicide on film and upload it to a video sharing site without the assistance of another person.

    Not being very tech-savvy, I it possible I would have asked on ask.meta, because where else would one go to ask such bizarre questions? In doing so, it would have never occurred to me that anyone would have zoned on on the suicide, I would have assumed people would have taken the question at face value, especially if I explained the origin of my curiosity. It also would have never occurred to me that someone would google "how to automate an upload process for a suicide film" in order to get step-by-step instructions for their own use. I am not trying to diminish the seriousness of suicide. I don't think suicide is a pleasant topic, and any time I hear of someone's suicide I am saddened by the complete desperation they must have felt. I don't know many people whose lives haven't been touched by suicide in one way or another, mine certainly has. However, I can see a clear distinction between a question about a process that seems so completely impossible, and the background reason that serves only to shed some light on why the process seems impossible.

    I suppose there are variations on the question which would have achieved the same answer: is there an automated process that would allow a quadriplegic (without the use of something like a mouth or other body part operated computer) to create a video blog and post it to you tube without human intervention. But what is the point of making up a potentially less offensive question when the original question specifically asked in a way that did not encourage a debate about the politics of suicide or whether or not such a video should be recorded and/or shared in the first place.

    I guess I can see why people got all 800-talk-line wacky about the question, but it is disappointing that people can't distinguish intellectual curiosity (albeit somewhat off-color) from the OMG! THIS IS A CRY FOR HELP!
    posted by necessitas at 3:41 PM on April 27, 2007


    "No worries on the brain penis thing. I just didn't see it coming. Next time I'll be on the look out."

    Next time? Are you coming on to me?

    My exact words were: "This is how I see the evolution of this post". I meant that more as a guide for you, in understanding where my reply was coming from. Understanding each other is important. But I'm concerned, because I'm picking up this standoffish vibe from you, and I'm worried that means we can't be friends.

    "I know that some people find the topic of suicide distasteful, and I don't blame them. I know that some people even find the topic of suicide unspeakable, and I do blame those people for all the ways they prevent desperate people from being honest. But I also have my personal opinion which is that suicide is a lot like prostitution: I feel a deep sympathy for anyone doing it out of desperation, and a deep regard for anyone doing it out of genuine, legitimate will. And I find both conditions fascinating in their ways."

    Holy crap, will you be my president? What fucking eloquence!
    posted by Eideteker at 3:46 PM on April 27, 2007


    I guess I just want to point out that there are people who might be deeply upset by seemingly unnecessary suicide references who don't do their handwringing online, and while it's a fool's game to try to predict every reaction to everything, when it comes to suicide there are always going to be folks who appreciate a lighter touch.

    On one hand, I understand what you are saying, but I can't help but wonder about the difference between the too-close-to-home sadness some might feel about this question, and the too-close-to-home sadness some might feel about questions concerning what to expect when dealing with loved one's end stage battle with alzheimers, cancer or any terminal disease, or the questions about coping with the recent death of a parent, spouse or child. Certainly many have had their lives rocked by such a tragedy and reading these questions have the potential to re-open those horrible wounds.

    I suppose an argument can be made that the mention of tragedy in those questions are necessary whereas the mention of suicide in this question was unnecessary. However, certainly the contents of the what to expect and grief - type questions and answers would be way more graphic and way more painful for those readers who have experienced it themselves. There was nothing graphic about the mention of suicide in this question. I could understand the too-close-for-comfort if the question dealt with the graphic specifics of suicide, but in the question, it was merely a word. So would the lighter touch have been not mentioning the word at all? Or would it have been a more appropriate question if it was not one about a technical process but a graphic cry for help from a desperate soul? I guess I am just not understanding were the line is drawn between those subjects that have the potential to upset people but are appropriate to discuss and those subjects that aren't.
    posted by necessitas at 3:56 PM on April 27, 2007


    I had a bunch written about my ruminations on this topic. A completely inappropriate volume of considered and hopefully thought-provoking prose. But it basically just boils down to this:

    I think that anyone who would post a suicidal cry for help on the internet and anyone who would try to intercede with a stranger in such a scenario both have the same goal: To compensate for a lack of emotional attachments by intruding upon strangers without cause and forge them out of desperation. Both parties make a large presumption about the value of their opinions to strangers, and both are largely indiscriminitory about sharing them.

    I suppose that's not even a criticism, since I don't really oppose people who behave this way. But I wont pander to them, either.
    posted by chudmonkey at 4:12 PM on April 27, 2007


    Holy crap, will you be my president? What fucking eloquence!

    I typically find Eideteker quite clear, even when clearly sarcastic, but I'm not sure if this is sarcasm or its own sort of cry for help.
    posted by chudmonkey at 4:21 PM on April 27, 2007


    I can't help but wonder about the difference between the too-close-to-home sadness some might feel about this question, and the too-close-to-home sadness some might feel about questions concerning what to expect when dealing with loved one's end stage battle with alzheimers...

    That may have been part of it for me. I wasn't freaked out per se, but the year before I went to college there was a suicide there that was videotaped [happened on cable access TV actually, ugh]. The tape attained a weird sort of cult status among students and was the subject of a lawsuit by the deceased kid's parents. This was all pre-YouTube and pre digital but the seamy undercurrent among certain groups as to whether you'd seen it or not was at some level distressing to me. I haven't really thought about that video, or that kid, for maybe a decade, but he's been on my mind a lot this week.
    posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:23 PM on April 27, 2007


    eerily, I recently re-watched Ken Park with somebody who hadn't seen it yet
    posted by matteo at 6:27 AM on April 28, 2007


    I thought the "could one broadcast one's suicide on Youtube" was a tacky, stupid, trollish question, but I couldn't think of any principled reason for saying so. It just seemed obnoxious, but I can't explain why. I suspected that it was not so motivated by curiosity as it was calculated to get people riled up.
    posted by jayder at 9:36 AM on April 28, 2007


    Are-we-going-to-be-bummed-when-we-hear-that-users-have-offed-themselves-after-posting-their-suicide-plans-on-AskMe-Filter
    posted by nanojath at 11:13 AM on April 28, 2007


    Also, "ice himself?" Are people still getting "iced" in the 21st century vernacular? Am I losing touch with how the kids talk now? And if so, what the fuck am I spending all this time reading Metafilter for? I thought you guys were hep.
    posted by nanojath at 11:16 AM on April 28, 2007


    Ooh, you know what he should have asked? Whether a person could arrange to post a video of themselves being taken up in the Rapture on YouTube.

    Seriously, it's not hypothetical: let's say you were convinced that the Rapture, like classic charismatic/evangelical bodily transported to the Heavenly realm, glasses and fillings left behind, was imminent, within years of arrival. So you decide that your highest calling is to leave behind a clear record of your transmission and/or ascension behind to lead the salvageable infidels back to the Path of Light, you know, like so they can join with the Tribulation Force and everything.

    Now this assumes that you would get a minute or two notice of the impending rapture, like you hover a couple of inches off the ground or hear all these celestial trumpets, or see, you know, ethereal light pouring out a crack in the sky or maybe host, you know, some type of winged creature (NOT BIRDS). So you could confine yourself to a room with a camera at the ready, but how do you make sure it gets sent to YouTube? Because, right, nobody you can really trust will be left behind right? A technical fix is your only solution.

    Exact same question, totally avoid all this controversy.
    posted by nanojath at 11:30 AM on April 28, 2007


    What I want to know is if the suicide poster also arranged for a post on the front page to the youtube video if it would still be deleted as a self link?
    posted by Mitheral at 5:00 PM on April 28, 2007


    shame, shame on this fetid callout
    posted by scarabic at 1:21 AM on April 30, 2007


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