Because only "Dude, that's f*cked up" will do. May 16, 2007 6:00 AM   Subscribe

What if sometimes wisecracks do help people find answers?
posted by holgate to Etiquette/Policy at 6:00 AM (68 comments total)

We've been over this before. Feel free to explain, if you think it will help, why the user is on a path to self-destruction, will not in fact "get the girl," or is making a big mistake. Say it with some degree of helpfulness or compassion or stay the hell out of the thread. If you are seriously saying that answers like "you are a douche bag" are helpful in that situation -- instead of just spleen venting sour grapes that someone is getting more action than you are and treating their girlfriend badly -- then you and I will have to agree to disagree.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:06 AM on May 16, 2007


Because if the moderators are going to let through anonymous questions like that one, that's what they'll get.
posted by holgate at 6:07 AM on May 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


I think this is one of those cases where style makes substance. "You're a bozo" only gets people's defensive hackles up. How's that an answer? "Maybe you need to rethink the way you're approaching life" is not a wisecrack but has the same substance. That's an answer.
posted by Firas at 6:07 AM on May 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


[leave your "you are a douche bag" responses for email or metatalk, seriously.]
posted by jessamyn at 9:29 PM on May 16


That guy was totally a douchebag.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:09 AM on May 16, 2007 [5 favorites]


Because if the moderators are going to let through anonymous questions like that one, that's what they'll get.

Yeah, from people who can't control their own ability to type. Jesus, some of the answers that were deleted were completely indefensible. It's moronic that you're defending them.
posted by mediareport at 6:12 AM on May 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


Live preview is my enemy.

I think a degree of intelligent foresight on the part of the moderators is to be expected, or at least a willingness to forego apparent surprise at the consequences. As for 'sour grapes', I'm not quite sure where you're deriving that, jessamyn, but it's not from the thread.

But whatever. Line me up with psmealey in wondering whether this wasn't borderline self-trolling, given that someone had the chance to look this one over and think, 'yes, this can go up as is'.
posted by holgate at 6:17 AM on May 16, 2007


Flag it and move on. I did.
posted by cribcage at 6:18 AM on May 16, 2007


or at least a willingness to forego apparent surprise

Apparent surprise? No, it's more of a sighing acknowledgment of the fact that we'll never see people show perfect restraint, followed by a bunch of clicking on little deletion buttons.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:25 AM on May 16, 2007


What guidelines, exactly, did you think that post was breaking when you flagged it?

That the guy was a douchebag? That he's full of himself? That it's full of a naive, self-congratulatory tone?
Is that brand new and in violation of askme? If you're just pissed because you don't like the question, or what you perceive is the personality of the poster, I don't think the question should be removed. Different folks, different strokes, eh?

The thread is weird combination of people actualy offering advice, and other people obviosly chiming in, letting their personal insecurites and morals make them incapabe of contributing to either a constructive discussion OR effective community self-policing. I think the thread is worse than the question on the whole.

Seriously, the poster has alot to learn, so why is there a chorus of 'holier-than-thou' stone throwers unwilling to actually help the person through a decision in which he can learn something, if only that his current attitude towards other people is making him seem like a a douchebag?
posted by conch soup at 6:41 AM on May 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


incapabe= incapable. gotta preview.
posted by conch soup at 6:42 AM on May 16, 2007


Wait, I don't understand this MetaTalk.

The MetaTalk post itself seems to be saying that insults are sometimes helpful answers.
However, the slightly belated "more inside" seems instead to be about advising admins to avoid posting anonymous questions which will inevitably get insults as answers.

Which is the topic you're trying to address, holgate?
posted by Bugbread at 6:43 AM on May 16, 2007


Because if the moderators are going to let through anonymous questions like that one, that's what they'll get.

$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$


douchebaggy questions will get snarks, it's a fact. you really don't want snarks, you don't post anonymous shit like that. if you do post them -- for whatever reason -- live with the fact that people will snark.

next time, pull the post.
posted by matteo at 6:45 AM on May 16, 2007


Say it with some degree of helpfulness or compassion or stay the hell out of the thread.

this is not a hospital, or a support group, technically: no matter how one would wish it were (I don't, personally). it's a place where people give advice for free. it's not even a workplace -- well, it is, but just for three of us, and we're more than 50,000 now aren't we? -- so it's not that a poster can complain about not getting his or her money's worth of answers.

it's impolite to point this out, but MetaFilter, and AskMefi, when it comes to their regular users, run on donated time, and work. we don't have any professional standards to follow here, I'm sorry. if one wants professional advice, one needs to pay for it in the appropriate places.
posted by matteo at 6:49 AM on May 16, 2007 [4 favorites]


matteo writes "it's a place where people give advice for free."

"You want my advice? You're a douchebag."

See, that's the problem right there: that's not advice.
posted by Bugbread at 6:50 AM on May 16, 2007


we don't have any professional standards to follow here, I'm sorry. if one wants professional advice, one needs to pay for it in the appropriate places.

What? We don't need professional standards, and no one is talking about professional standards but you. What we've traditionally pursued is not just dropping stupid zings into an askme thread and defending it on the terms of the lowest common denominator.

They don't get paid over at Yahoo! Answers, either.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:58 AM on May 16, 2007


See, that's the problem right there: that's not advice.

sure it is ... he wants to get into some girls' pants and the answer "you're a douchebag" is merely a fancy way of saying he belongs there
posted by pyramid termite at 7:01 AM on May 16, 2007


I just want to say that I approve of AskMe turning into a hybrid version of Penthouse Forum, even if all the porno has to end with a question mark.
posted by Dave Faris at 7:06 AM on May 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


No, it's more of a sighing acknowledgment of the fact that we'll never see people show perfect restraint, followed by a bunch of clicking on little deletion buttons.

Ah, yes. The inscrutability is touching.

Which is the topic you're trying to address, holgate?

The two issues are joined at the hip. If the mods want to forestall blunt responses to questions that don't necessarily paint the poster in the best light, they should make use of the prescreening process to make it clear. Anonymous posts provide that small advantage to counter the disadvantage of restricting the poster's ability to participate in the discussion.

And in this particular case, finessing the fact that the poster ought to put his dick away until he's a grown-up might miss the point.
posted by holgate at 7:12 AM on May 16, 2007


Holgate, it sounds like you're saying the admins should screen out questions simply on the grounds that they are going to be prone to snark. Am I understanding you correctly?
posted by conch soup at 7:17 AM on May 16, 2007


As a a skilled fence-sitter, let me say that, I agree a character judgment can indeed be an "answer." But just calling someone a douchebag... nah. How bout: You are a douchebag BECAUSE...
posted by The Deej at 7:24 AM on May 16, 2007


Who's to say what the perfect way to package advice is for this guy? Maybe he needs to read "You're a douchebag." and then go, "Somebody just called me a douchebag! Oh, wait..."
posted by iamkimiam at 7:45 AM on May 16, 2007


Definitely! That method actually works better the more of a douche a person is. Like, if you tell a reflective, self-doubting sort of person that they're a douchebag, they just shrug it off and start making a mental picture of you as an attacker in their mind. On the other hand, a totally insensitive jerk gets wrecked with formative insecurity upon being glanced at askance.
posted by Firas at 7:52 AM on May 16, 2007 [3 favorites]


iamkimiam writes "Who's to say what the perfect way to package advice is for this guy? Maybe he needs to read 'You're a douchebag.' and then go, 'Somebody just called me a douchebag! Oh, wait...'"

I don't know who's to say the perfect way to package advice, but the baseline for advice is the inclusion of words/phrases like "should", "should not", "it would be best", "I recommend", "The best thing would be to", "Try to avoid".

You know, advising things.

(You people do know what "advice" means, right?)
posted by Bugbread at 7:58 AM on May 16, 2007


I'm not so sure holgate was just talking about his own (deleted, but very funny) comment. I read the next comment, nixerman's , as a snark too. Although, to my mind, nixerman is blatantly taking the piss - there's all sorts of reasons why it isn't a good idea to do what he says - it could be that anonymous will take it as "good advice" given that the guy appears to have a rather, er, "dicey" set of personal morals scruples.

Of course, maybe nixerman was serious...
posted by davehat at 8:00 AM on May 16, 2007


It's a bit old how the green swivels so from 'She looked at you funny?! Dump the bitch!' to the sort of immature prudishness on display in the thread. Makes you wonder if we could indeed replace the green with some smug, lonely jerk and put the whole thing on the radio.
posted by nixerman at 8:01 AM on May 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


Performative advice? Interesting idea, though I am under the impression that AskMe answers are judged not solely according to how helpful they are to the particular asker of the question, but to any future users who might search it up from the archives.

Then again...he is a douchebag.
posted by voltairemodern at 8:01 AM on May 16, 2007


Also, what about this:

"Your current description of the situation makes you sound like a huge douchebag. I therefore suggest that you withdraw into yourself, contemplate why you are being such a huge douchebag, and come back to us with a more pointed question that will help you become less of a douchebag. ps: don't sleep with anyone for a while."
posted by voltairemodern at 8:03 AM on May 16, 2007


See, the "put your dick away" and "don't sleep with anyone" is precisely the wrong response. Lame prudery, to second nixerman.
posted by Firas at 8:07 AM on May 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


But, you have to admit, it is at least an on-topic, advice giving response. Whether it would/should be axed or not is something beyond my ken, but at least it's more likely to remain than just "You're a douchebag".
posted by Bugbread at 8:15 AM on May 16, 2007


See, the "put your dick away" and "don't sleep with anyone" is precisely the wrong response. Lame prudery, to second nixerman.

This hasn't been explained, and I can't quite see the reasoning behind your objection. Why is it prude to suggest that he should wait to involve himself physically with another woman until he's figured out his obviously troubled relationship with his girlfriend?

You think we're advising he not couple with a stranger because she's a stranger? Then you're misreading the advice.
posted by voltairemodern at 8:30 AM on May 16, 2007


It may just be that on a site devoted to answering questions this is probably unnacceptable:

"You're a twat."

yet any combination of the following is probably acceptable:

"You're a twat. You should be honest/speak to your girlfriend and asses your relationship/look at your life choices and examine them more carefully/fuck one of them/ fuck the other one/fuck 'em both (simultaneously if you can possibly manage it, bro)".

I think the key here is giving advice to questions that other users have posted.
posted by ob at 8:45 AM on May 16, 2007


Sometimes the 'entitlement generation' needs a tough talking to... the real world is not all "But my mom says I'm special" or "but I want it".

Sometimes people ask questions that can't be adequately answered without imparting some social norms.

Calling them a douchebag certainly doesn't answer the question, but it does help the OP to learn that his actions are inappropriate as a cultural norm.

I love AskMe, but sometimes the touchy feely approach we take to answer people's questions makes me think we buy into the entitlement generation's demand to be treated with kid gloves WAY too much.
posted by matty at 8:48 AM on May 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


Of course someone could open up a site called JudgeMe, then one could read "You're a twat" all day long.
posted by ob at 8:52 AM on May 16, 2007


Makes you wonder if we could indeed replace the green with some smug, lonely jerk and put the whole thing on the radio.
posted by nixerman


Hey, that's me!

:: Crafting MeFi Projects post ::
posted by The Deej at 8:53 AM on May 16, 2007

Sometimes the 'entitlement generation' needs a tough talking to... the real world is not all "But my mom says I'm special" or "but I want it".
You’re under the impression that the described behaviour is particularly novel, or specific to a single generation?
posted by Aidan Kehoe at 8:56 AM on May 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


matty writes "Calling them a douchebag certainly doesn't answer the question, but it does help the OP to learn that his actions are inappropriate as a cultural norm."

Which would be awesome, if AskMe were called TeachMeMyActionsAreInappropriateMe. But since it's called "AskMe", if you ever find yourself saying "it certainly doesn't answer the question", then you're in the wrong place.
posted by Bugbread at 9:01 AM on May 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


Of course someone could open up a site called JudgeMe, then one could read "You're a twat" all day long.

Ok, that actually made me laugh! And good point, bugbread.
posted by matty at 9:04 AM on May 16, 2007


I think a degree of intelligent foresight on the part of the moderators is to be expected, or at least a willingness to forego apparent surprise at the consequences.

No one is surprised that snarky, unhelpful one-liners appear in anonymous askme questions from people with subaverage levels of morality. Just because those kinds of comments are expected doesn't mean that they have to be allowed to stay, and it doesn't mean that the mods and others can't reiterate the rule of the site which states that comments such as those don't belong in AskMe.
posted by 23skidoo at 9:53 AM on May 16, 2007


I have little sympathy for complaints about deleted AskMe questions or comments. The rules are crystal clear and easy to comply with (or circumvent, depending on how you look at it). As others pointed out above, you can ask or say whatever you want so long as you frame it right. If you have something deleted, it's because you (a) were sloppy, (b) were deliberately messing around, or (c) just don't get it.
posted by brain_drain at 10:34 AM on May 16, 2007


I'm still wondering why nixerman thinks "prudishness" is "immature." I can see criticizing prudishness. I can see criticizing immaturity. But criticizing prudishness on the ground that it's "immature?" How is prudishness immature?

Name-calling should never be an acceptable AskMe answer, unless the question was something like: "My friends all tell me I'm a douchebag. Am I, in fact, a douchebag?"
posted by The World Famous at 11:10 AM on May 16, 2007


The World Famous writes "But criticizing prudishness on the ground that it's 'immature?' How is prudishness immature?"

I think it's just the general internet thing of calling opinions you disagree with immature. I was reading BMEzine earlier today, and I noted (in separate threads) people who didn't like body modification calling body modifiers immature, and body modifiers calling people who didn't like body modification immature.
posted by Bugbread at 11:28 AM on May 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm still wondering why nixerman thinks "prudishness" is "immature." I can see criticizing prudishness. I can see criticizing immaturity. But criticizing prudishness on the ground that it's "immature?" How is prudishness immature?

The answers in the thread remind me of 13 years old in biology class going 'ewww!' I can understand finding the OP's behavior revolting but the over-the-top displays of disgust are immature.

And now one more great mystery been solved.
posted by nixerman at 11:40 AM on May 16, 2007


And answers like "bone her! Then bone your girlfriend! Then bone them both!" also remind me of 13 year olds in bio class. Both pro-sex and anti-sex positions are the domain of both young and old. That makes neither of them immature nor mature, any more than my coworker saying he's hungry makes him immature because kindergarteners also say they're hungry.
posted by Bugbread at 12:12 PM on May 16, 2007


jessamyn: Feel free to explain, if you think it will help, why the user is on a path to self-destruction, will not in fact "get the girl," or is making a big mistake. Say it with some degree of helpfulness or compassion or stay the hell out of the thread.

Right, except this particular user essentially said 'IM GONNA TOTALY FUCK THIS HAWT CHICK I MET W/O TELLING MY GURL WHOS A BITCH ANYWAYS AND THEN IM GONNA LIKE FUCK 7 OTHER HAWT CHIX 2 BECAUSE IM A STUD AND I DESERVE TO AMIRITE TELL ME IM RIGHT'.

It's a question basically aimed a bunch of frat boyz of the kind who have never had consensual sex. And we're all supposed to, what, holla back? High-five him? Be compassionate? Help him through his serious and profound moral quandary with thoughtful responses conducted in a tone of deep respect?

No, I'm sorry, but I'm with matty on this one. This guy is either a troll, or a corpse-eyed puppet person who's never learned how to be a serious human being, or some combination of the two. Sometimes the only appropriate response to this kind of bullshit is derision, because that's how communities—virtual or otherwise—define and police their moral boundaries. Saying that we're not allowed to do this is just another example of the culture of hand-holding and post-'60s, hippy-dippy moral paralysis which enables this kind of puerile narcissism to thrive.

Of course, outright mocking might not allow this particular anon to find the answers he wants, but it might dissuade the next one from posting. (And there do seem to have been an awful lot of these kinds of please-validate-my-self-obsession 'questions' lately.) I, for one, would rather the white baseball cap and boom-box crowd stay the hell off this site.
posted by Sonny Jim at 2:32 PM on May 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


And we're all supposed to, what, holla back? High-five him? Be compassionate?

No, no, and yes. Think he's a douche? Explain why. Deride with substance; discuss what's problematic, in your eyes, with his take on things. Explain how you see things different; describe the harmful implications of his attitude.

A sense of moral superiority doesn't suddenly make zingy, substanceless one-liners useful. I think one of the things that makes mefi an interesting place is the fact that a greater proportion of people around here actually try.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:37 PM on May 16, 2007


Sonny Jim writes "Saying that we're not allowed to do this is just another example of the culture of hand-holding and post-'60s, hippy-dippy moral paralysis which enables this kind of puerile narcissism to thrive."

No, saying that we're not allowed to do this is an example of pre-hand-holding, pre-60's morality which said that what we can and should do is defined by rules, place, and occassion, and that the principle rule for AskMe is "answer questions". If you want to get all 60's anarchist "I don't have to play by your rules, man, I'm a free spirit, I tell it like it is", then feel free to do it in a less regulated environment that hankers to that kind of hippy bullshit.
posted by Bugbread at 2:46 PM on May 16, 2007


Help him through his serious and profound moral quandary with thoughtful responses conducted in a tone of deep respect?

Yes.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:47 PM on May 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


Move it, and flag on!
posted by blue_beetle at 3:29 PM on May 16, 2007


"Sometimes the only appropriate response to this kind of bullshit is derision, because that's how communities—virtual or otherwise—define and police their moral boundaries. Saying that we're not allowed to do this is just another example of the culture of hand-holding and post-'60s, hippy-dippy moral paralysis which enables this kind of puerile narcissism to thrive."

That isn't so. There is a difference between generally valuing tolerance so much that you tolerate anything, including all kinds of ugly behavior by others, and a conversation. Moral boundaries are enforced here, personal attacks (at least excessive ones), racism, etc. Your position is that when someone talks about a behavior that is outside your moral boundaries, you should be able to exceed the boundaries of the site and deride him. Is that about it?

I love how comments about there being too much pandering to people's sensitivities today are so often transparent complaints about not feeling validated in indulging one's self righteousness.
posted by BigSky at 3:30 PM on May 16, 2007


Help him through his serious and profound moral quandary with thoughtful responses conducted in a tone of deep respect?

Yes.


This is a library, after all.
posted by Dave Faris at 3:35 PM on May 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


Help him through his serious and profound moral quandary with thoughtful responses conducted in a tone of deep respect?

Yes.


How? Miko is right, there is no actual question there.
posted by Snyder at 3:38 PM on May 16, 2007


And yet Miko's comment was an excellent answer. I should amend what I said above, which was basically "answer the question", to be "answer the question; or, if the question is unanswerable, explain why it's unanswerable".
posted by Bugbread at 3:47 PM on May 16, 2007


Sometimes the 'entitlement generation' needs a tough talking to... the real world is not all "But my mom says I'm special" or "but I want it".

You’re under the impression that the described behaviour is particularly novel, or specific to a single generation?

Yes.

Today's college students are more narcissistic and self-centered than their predecessors, according to a comprehensive new study by five psychologists who worry that the trend could be harmful to personal relationships and American society.

posted by Pater Aletheias at 3:55 PM on May 16, 2007


Today's college students are more narcissistic and self-centered than their predecessors, according to a comprehensive new study by five psychologists who worry that the trend could be harmful to personal relationships and American society.

More narcissistic and self-centered than their predecessors? That's because they didn't DO studies about this when we predecessors were kids.

Because we were already too perfect.
posted by tkchrist at 4:11 PM on May 16, 2007


Yeah, we kind of talked that to death a while back. I find the assertions that something is fundamentally different about Kids Today kind of uncompelling; if kids turning into their parents is an age-old saw, why should kids turning into people who complain about kids be implausible?
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:58 PM on May 16, 2007


I just want to say that I approve of AskMe turning into a hybrid version of Penthouse Forum, even if all the porno has to end with a question mark. - Dave Faris

...or begin with "I'm writing a book about..." - Mister_A
posted by Mister_A at 5:17 PM on May 16, 2007


That's because they didn't DO studies about this when we predecessors were kids.

Because we were already too perfect.

Predecessors! Fuck Yeah! Greatest antecedents in the whole wide world!
posted by Mister_A at 5:18 PM on May 16, 2007


...or begin with "I'm writing a book about..." -Mister_A

So, I'm writing a book about Mister_A...
posted by The corpse in the library at 7:30 PM on May 16, 2007


I'm kind of torn here. On the one hand, that was one of the most worthless questions I've seen here. On the other hand, I got a kick out of some of the answers and the debate it spawned.
posted by spiderskull at 7:41 PM on May 16, 2007


is this the line to tell that guy he's a douchebag?
posted by empath at 8:18 PM on May 16, 2007


Wouldn't a bag of douches essentially symbolize pure cleanliness?
posted by Firas at 8:21 PM on May 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


OP: Do I go to this girl's house, or what?
AskMeFite: You fucking douchebag.
OP: Right. So do I go to this girl's house, or what?

This conversation has no future. Both parties are sort of missing the bigger picture. The thing is, that's the poster's prerogative.
posted by YamwotIam at 9:42 PM on May 16, 2007


Ack. This thread is tempting me to actually ask for a pony. Is there no way to view the pre-moderated thread so as to know what the hell is under consideration?
posted by dreamsign at 3:23 AM on May 17, 2007


Self knowledge is an adaptive mechanism that often enables people to analyse situations and understand how different frames could affect the validity or authenticity of their actions as they relate to others. Some people could benefit from becoming aware that they are, in fact, douches.
posted by meehawl at 8:41 AM on May 17, 2007


Some people could benefit from becoming aware that they are, in fact, douches.

No argument there, in a general sene. However I would argue that telling them that on a snarky internet forum is not likey to achieve that result.

Is there no way to view the pre-moderated thread so as to know what the hell is under consideration?


That's correct. If we remove comments that are under discussion sometimes we'll paste them in here, but otherwise no you can't view the pre-moderated thread.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:54 AM on May 17, 2007


You could also say :
"You should cheat on your girlfriend and sleep with the club girl because that is the douchebag thing to do and you are quite clearly a douchebag"

this answers his question, and also calls him a douchebag.
posted by Megafly at 4:15 PM on May 17, 2007


telling them that on a snarky internet forum is not likey to achieve that result.

I'm an optimist when it comes to speech acts.
posted by meehawl at 6:58 PM on May 17, 2007


So, I'm writing a book about Mister_A...

Ah, the perfect antecedent of the narcissistic and self-centered Mister T. A worthy subject for a distinguished monograph.
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:09 PM on May 17, 2007


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