Is this something I'd have to have a Metafilter account to know about? January 23, 2008 1:30 PM   Subscribe

Users commenting just to say they haven't heard of the topic of discussion is 100% noise and garbage.

I'm all for positive/negative discourse on any topic on any thread, and even arguments of non-newsworthiness in FPPs. However, the need to show how cool you are by saying "I don't even watch television" in a thread about a TV show, or "I don't know/care who (dead person a) is" just isn't contributing to a thread at all. If you're not contributing, it's noise, and the comment should be deleted. Every time.

People comment on threads to discuss a topic. Disagreements abound in threads, but that implies an opinion on the topic. This type of behavior is just trying to show everyone how cool you are for not knowing about something. Ignorance ≠ Hipster cred, people.

More like MEHtaFilter, amirite?
posted by potch to Etiquette/Policy at 1:30 PM (83 comments total)

I was here!
posted by shmegegge at 1:31 PM on January 23, 2008


I've never heard of this problem.
posted by ORthey at 1:32 PM on January 23, 2008 [17 favorites]


Sorry for throwing another log on the fire, everyone, but I feel like this is perfectly fit the ettiquitte/policy part of Metatalk.
posted by potch at 1:32 PM on January 23, 2008


Being discussed here, mate.
posted by spec80 at 1:32 PM on January 23, 2008


And I promise this isn't about Heath Ledger, but a pattern of crappiness across innumerable threads.
posted by potch at 1:33 PM on January 23, 2008


I don't care
posted by jouke at 1:33 PM on January 23, 2008


flag it, move on
posted by ozomatli at 1:35 PM on January 23, 2008


But I don't even read MetaFilter.

I live it.
posted by GuyZero at 1:37 PM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


Camels working.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:37 PM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


Is this something I'd have to care about to care about?
posted by kittens for breakfast at 1:38 PM on January 23, 2008 [4 favorites]


I don't know who potch is.
posted by jerseygirl at 1:39 PM on January 23, 2008


What-evar!
posted by brain_drain at 1:40 PM on January 23, 2008


I'm ambivalent about people expressing apathy (I don't get it, either, but you can't force people to take an IQ test to comment or join, now can you?), but people acting like dicks and defending it always pisses me off, especially when it's trolling.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 1:41 PM on January 23, 2008


I agree with you entirely, but this is being pretty well discussed a thread or two down.
posted by jtron at 1:41 PM on January 23, 2008


OMG Burhanistan! I thought you had severed your hand and fled the country, whatever country that may be. Anyway, hi.
posted by Mister_A at 1:44 PM on January 23, 2008


Everybody needs a shrug.
posted by fandango_matt at 1:47 PM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


I agree with you, potch.

Also, I am apathetic about people expressing ambivalence, so Unicorn on the cob, you're in the clear. (This time.)
posted by Atom Eyes at 1:48 PM on January 23, 2008


If you're not contributing, it's noise, and the comment should be deleted. Every time.

Yup, I agree.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 1:48 PM on January 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


Hello, Mister_A.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:50 PM on January 23, 2008


Potch,
It might have better if you had posted other examples that weren't from the Heath Ledger thread. As you can see, people are dismissing your separate point because you're relating it to the previous MetaTalk thread about the Heath Ledger post.

saying Heath makes me want candy.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:51 PM on January 23, 2008


posted by potch If you're not contributing, it's noise, and the comment should be deleted. Every time.

Hey, great idea. What's the definition of "contributing", and who decides?
posted by fandango_matt at 1:51 PM on January 23, 2008


I have no idea what this topic is about and don't care.
posted by empath at 1:51 PM on January 23, 2008


Yup, I agree.

.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:51 PM on January 23, 2008


Brandon- yeah. Mods, if you're thinking of closing/axing this, could you simply remove the Heath Ledger mention? Pretty please?
posted by potch at 1:53 PM on January 23, 2008


Agreed, but these kinds of shallow obituary-filter posts are garbage anyway.

"Oh oh, somebody just died, I need to log in real fast so I can be the first to post it! Then I will post a "." to show everyone how sensitive I am!"
posted by LarryC at 1:53 PM on January 23, 2008


saying Heath makes me want candy.

Dude, that works on so many levels.
posted by dersins at 1:54 PM on January 23, 2008


If you're not contributing, it's noise, and the comment should be deleted. Every time.

Ok. It's a conspiracy. You guys are just trying to make my head explode today.
posted by Dave Faris at 1:57 PM on January 23, 2008


Then I will post a "." to show everyone how sensitive I am!"

Sorry. It's just that "?" seems so insensitive.
posted by katillathehun at 1:57 PM on January 23, 2008


While we're on the topic of moratoria, can there please be a moratorium on using "blahblah hipster cred" as a crutch for not liking what someone else says?
posted by CKmtl at 1:58 PM on January 23, 2008


I am so apathetic about this subject, that I can't even even be bothered to finish this comme...
posted by quin at 1:58 PM on January 23, 2008


fandango_matt: Well, this site is known for its level of self policing, so I'd hope that decisions would be made in that vein. Additionally, I was specifically referring to the practice of "I don't know what this is" comments, not all comments, as referred to in every other part of this post.
posted by potch at 2:00 PM on January 23, 2008


Hey, great idea. What's the definition of "contributing", and who decides?

In this case, all of us, unless someone wants to step forward and say "Whatever, I don't even know how to read" is a contribution to a thread about Mark Twain. Or something.
posted by Bookhouse at 2:00 PM on January 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


Ok. It's a conspiracy. You guys are just trying to make my head explode today.

For sure.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 2:07 PM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


posted by potch Well, this site is known for its level of self policing, so I'd hope that decisions would be made in that vein. Additionally, I was specifically referring to the practice of "I don't know what this is" comments, not all comments, as referred to in every other part of this post.

So if I'm understanding you correctly, you want the community to root out and delete all comments that say "I don't know what this is," a remark which you have decreed to be noise. Does the context in which the comment is made matter, or are no exceptions made? For example, if someone said, "I have an itchy bump on my arm, and I don't know what this is" would that be grounds for deletion? Is there a way of phrasing the sentence that will save it from deletion? Please let us know, because I don't think you understand what you're really asking, or why you care.
posted by fandango_matt at 2:13 PM on January 23, 2008


Brandon- yeah. Mods, if you're thinking of closing/axing this, could you simply remove the Heath Ledger mention? Pretty please?

I think it's kind of hard to remove the association at this point, or even prevent it in the first place given the big discussion going on a couple posts down. I get that you're not intending this thread to be about that, and we can leave it open and see if people get some use out of this, but probably the better approach if you wanted to bullet-proof the discussion from that kind of association would have been to just give it some breathing room and wait a few days. Oh well!
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:15 PM on January 23, 2008


I LOVED you on CHiPs, man!
posted by Dizzy at 2:15 PM on January 23, 2008


Setting aside the HL association point, potch, if you were going to call out Jairus' comment, in fairness you should also have cited his subsequent explanation, which strongly suggests that his comment was made in good faith, not to "show how cool he is."
posted by brain_drain at 2:17 PM on January 23, 2008


I'm very sympathetic to your point of view, as I am similarly annoyed by comments that profess ignorance in order to showcase hipster cred (or luddite superciliousness, or highbrow disdain for popular culture, etc). They are tiresome and juvenile, and rarely do anything positive in a thread.

But, as f_m points out, every once in while they do, in fact, do something constructive - or at least aren't made in a cynical or cooler-than-thou spirit. The difficulty is that you (and I) are annoyed by the intent of the post, not necessarily the content. But instituting a blanket policy to ban a particular kind of content is choosing the wrong target. If someone wants to snark, they'll find a way to snark, and banning statements professing ignorance isn't going to stop them from doing so.
posted by googly at 2:32 PM on January 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


which strongly suggests that his comment was made in good faith, not to "show how cool he is."

Yup. This "hipster cred" stuff is nothing short of, often falsely, divining someone's intentions. It's as annoying as the Meh-comments that you're originally calling out.

Full disclosure: I've been falsely accused of it.
posted by CKmtl at 2:39 PM on January 23, 2008


note: Everyone needs a tug.
posted by lekvar at 2:43 PM on January 23, 2008


Well, "I have an itchy bump on my arm, and I don't know what this is", in Ask MetaFilter post would obviously be fine (though IANAD). Obviously I made this post with too much emotion invested in it, which was a mistake. However, the practice of ignorant dismissal in threads is still worthy of discussion.
posted by potch at 2:54 PM on January 23, 2008


If "ignorant dismissal" bothers you so much, why can't you just flag those comments and move on?
posted by fandango_matt at 2:56 PM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm ambivalent about people expressing apathy

Reading that made me weirdly happy.
posted by middleclasstool at 3:00 PM on January 23, 2008


potch: I'm all for positive/negative discourse on any topic on any thread, and even arguments of non-newsworthiness in FPPs. However, the need to show how cool you are by saying "I don't even watch television" in a thread about a TV show, or "I don't know/care who (dead person a) is" just isn't contributing to a thread at all. If you're not contributing, it's noise, and the comment should be deleted. Every time.

You're being a dick. Let's talk about what that means.

First of all, it's sort of silly for you to assume what Jairus meant there. He seemed to be honest, but fine, it pissed you off. If I may pull a potch and presume that I have a window into what you're thinking: that's what this is about. That comment pissed you off, and you wrote a metatalk post about it. Your callout doesn't even apply to anybody else's comment in that damned thread, where most of the annoying comments are of the "why do we care so much when celebrities die?" variety, not the "what is this?" variety.

In fact, second of all, generalized the way it is, your callout doesn't even make sense. You want "what is this?" comments to be deleted? What does that even mean? People aren't allowed to go into a thread about, say, booting the Ubuntu build of Linux on a USB drive and say, "hey, I don't know what a USB Ubuntu Linux blah blah blah is?" Are general questions to be forbidden?

Wait, no, you've clarified that. General questions which are asked ironically for the purpose of gaining hipster cred are to be forbidden, and deleted on sight. Great suggestion. It'd get rid of all those kids wearing their thrift-store retro crap and talking about Franz Ferdinand who keep standing around on our big blue front lawn and vying for cred. Heaven knows we have a HUGE problem here at Metafilter with general questions which are asked ironically for the purpose of hipster cred, or GQWAAIFTPOHCs, as we've taken to abbreviating them. It's a terrible problem; one can't put up a post about, say, Atlases of the Irkutsk without some dude in a trucker cap and aviator glasses wearing a Rolling Stones t-shirt wandering in and saying, "maybe it's just me, ha ha, but I'VE NEVER HEARD of IRKUTSK!" just so he can see all the other kids with record bags and strategically torn jeans smirk, squint, and nod knowingly. It's a fucking plague. Why, just the other day, I was in a thread about Walruses of Southeast Asia, and some guy was all, "Walruses of Southeast Asia? Am I alone in thinking that I'VE NEVER HEARD OF THE WALRUSES OF SOUTHEAST ASIA?" Ruined the goddamned thread.

And worst of all, it was so very, very disrespectful to the Walruses.
posted by koeselitz at 3:02 PM on January 23, 2008


I typically do. I screwed up in phrasing this post in terms of a specific instance of the behavior- it's not a callout. It is, however, something that comes up without fail, and I wanted to see what others thought of it. I profess in imagining some glorious unanimous uprising of users instantly agreeing with me, and ushering in a new golden age of MetaFilter, but seeing the exact opposite is certainly just as informative to me.
posted by potch at 3:02 PM on January 23, 2008


I gotta say, I kind of want an "I'VE NEVER HEARD of IRKUTSK!" t-shirt now.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:11 PM on January 23, 2008


Apathy abounds, but who cares?
posted by hydrophonic at 3:12 PM on January 23, 2008


I had a similar reaction to Jairus, as I too had no idea who Heath Ledger was until reading bits in the thread (had missed Brokeback Mountain but turns out I'd seen some of his other work) and was surprised at how quickly the thread grew. So Jairus, you weren't alone.
posted by Abiezer at 3:14 PM on January 23, 2008


I guess I'm having a hard time imagining how your ban would be implemented--if some questions can say, "I don't know what this is" while others cannot, we need you to explain why some can stay and others must go. What about cases where the offending phrase is used ironically, satirically, or sarcastically? Must those be deleted as well? How will this be determined, and who will decide?

Rather than imposing a ban which is impossible to define, let alone enforce, I think you'd be better served by flagging the offending comments and moving on. Or ignoring them altogether.
posted by fandango_matt at 3:16 PM on January 23, 2008


potch: It is, however, something that comes up without fail, and I wanted to see what others thought of it. I profess in imagining some glorious unanimous uprising of users instantly agreeing with me, and ushering in a new golden age of MetaFilter, but seeing the exact opposite is certainly just as informative to me.

Well, okay. We might agree with you. You weren't very clear, though, in what it is exactly that you're talking about. It doesn't sound like it's "what is this" questions, exactly, nor even that 'hipster cred' thing, exactly, so much as something you mention only once: "ignorant dismissal." I can begin to see that as a problem, I guess; I hate that kind of cynicism when people are talking about something worthwhile, but I have to say that I haven't really seen that much of that on Metafilter.

Honestly: is this something you see a lot? If so, we really should figure out why it happens and what to do about it. Describe the problem a little more.
posted by koeselitz at 3:17 PM on January 23, 2008


Askme: What's the difference between ignorance and apathy?

Best answer: Don't know, don't care.
posted by quin at 3:18 PM on January 23, 2008


IF YOU DON'T SWEAR TO CUT OFF YOUR HAND WE CAN'T TAKE YOU SERIOUSLY.
posted by loquacious at 3:20 PM on January 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


honestly, koeselitz, there kind of is a problem with people shitting in threads because they don't think it's worth their time. you know, the "is this something i'd have to have an [x] to understand" crowd. it's not a huge problem, but there is more of it than there should be, imo.
posted by shmegegge at 3:25 PM on January 23, 2008


I typically do. I screwed up in phrasing this post in terms of a specific instance of the behavior- it's not a callout. It is, however, something that comes up without fail, and I wanted to see what others thought of it.

Ah, yes. The time-honored, "I'm sorry, but is this something I'd need a _______ to understand?" rant. Though its initial origins were of an incredulous nature, the phenomenon has become one of the more recurrent in-jokes that's cropped up around these parts. A cursory reading between the lines will reveal the gag is intended to ruffle concerns of the community being too U.S. centric. The expatriates and overseas segments of our motley contingent will use this angle in an attempt to lighten up the site, so we can get back to hyperlinks to flash games, kittens, and YouTube compilations of K-Tel favorites.
posted by Smart Dalek at 3:29 PM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


Oh, yeah - and we're also a boyzone.
posted by Smart Dalek at 3:37 PM on January 23, 2008


Obviously I made this post with too much emotion invested in it

"Good, I can feel your anger. Cortex is unarmed. Take your weapon. Strike him down with all of your hatred and your journey towards the dark side will be complete. "

I'm sorry, it's the sugar from the Heath Bars.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:38 PM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm sorry, but is this something I'd need hipster cred to understand?
posted by grouse at 3:38 PM on January 23, 2008


Agreed, but these kinds of shallow obituary-filter posts are garbage anyway.

So ignore them. You avoid annoyance, everyone who cares avoids annoyance. It's win-win.
posted by languagehat at 3:48 PM on January 23, 2008


"maybe it's just me, ha ha, but I'VE NEVER HEARD of IRKUTSK!"
Don't be daft. That would mean that they've never played Risk!
posted by tellurian at 3:50 PM on January 23, 2008


Oh man, I can't believe this guy programmed two 8080s to do the end credits from Portal.
posted by boo_radley at 3:52 PM on January 23, 2008


Yeah, it's annoying as fuck. The problem is some people like to impress other people with the things they don't care about. Little do they know, no one gives a fuck.
posted by chunking express at 3:53 PM on January 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


PONY REQUEST:

deadceleb.metafilter.com

or maybe..

obituary.metafilter.com

I've never really enjoyed the obit posts on the blue. As someone said in the Heath thread, people are always rushing to post the news FIRST, I NEED TO BE FIRST TO POST ABOUT THE DEATH OF A LOVED ONE CELEBRITY BECAUSE THE METAFILTER NEEDS TO KNOW.

THEY NEED TO KNOW NOW, AS SOON AS POSSIBLE, AND IF I DON'T DO IT FAST AND IN A CRAPPY ONE LINK MANNER, SOMEONE ELSE WILL POST A WELL RESEARCHED, THOUGHTFUL RETROSPECTIVE OF SAID DEAD LOVED ONE CELEBRITY AND THERE MIGHT BE A MORE THOUGHTFUL DISUCUSSION OF THE SUBJECT.

Sorry. Just my thoughts.

And for what it's worth, there are good obituary posts, espescially when its about someone who isn't a celebrity. Usually those ones provide a good perspective of a person's life, and tend towards much more interesting discussion than "." or "who cares" or whatever crap tends to come into threads like the Heath one.

Think about it. obituaries.metafilter.com . Think of the monies that could be made of such a sub-site-
posted by localhuman at 3:54 PM on January 23, 2008 [2 favorites]


if only there was something like cnn.com, google.com, imdb.com, defamer.com, dozens of entertainment-oriented and general newswires, or wikipedia in the world.

But since none of those sites exist, I can see why people have to brag about their ignorance, rather than spend the 4 seconds looking up Heath Ledger before commenting.
posted by drjimmy11 at 3:55 PM on January 23, 2008 [3 favorites]


"maybe it's just me, ha ha, but I'VE NEVER HEARD of IRKUTSK!"
Don't be daft. That would mean that they've never played Risk!


While playing Risk as a kid i pronounced it "Ir-rusk-a-tusk" and my brother laughed at me.

Dick.
posted by drjimmy11 at 3:56 PM on January 23, 2008


Sounds like someone feels a bit guilty because the do know about the topic.
posted by furtive at 4:07 PM on January 23, 2008


I haven't bothered to read any of the comments in this thread.
posted by Astro Zombie at 4:11 PM on January 23, 2008


While playing Risk as a kid i pronounced it "Ir-rusk-a-tusk"
heehee
How did you go with Yakutsk - 'Yak-ack-a-tusk'?
posted by tellurian at 4:23 PM on January 23, 2008


Do you know where the power lies?

Self-policing isn't about deleting comments or establishing codes of behavior for everyone to follow. It's about policing yourself.

The punishment fits the crime: if you say something dickish or trollish or ignorant, others will think you're a dick, troll, or idiot, respectively, and will eventually ignore you.

Being policed by moderators, even with substantial input by the concerned members of the community, is at most community policing.

Self-policing starts and ends with you.
posted by breezeway at 4:26 PM on January 23, 2008


I don't disagree with the sentiment, breezeway—the opposite, really—but my familiarity with the term "self-policing" is as a handy foreshortening of "self-policing community".
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:56 PM on January 23, 2008


Yeah, I know, but it's a misnomer, or misinterpretation, or convenient shoveling-off of personal responsibility onto the backs of others, in specific you three moderators, in general the rest of the community.

It's like the folks (myself included, sometimes) who don't self-police very well require "self-policing."

I guess it's a matter for interpretation.
posted by breezeway at 5:04 PM on January 23, 2008


Yeah, I dig it. For the individual level, my preferred taxonomy is "showing some goddamned restraint, for christ's sake", but I'll admit that that's a bit wordy.
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:07 PM on January 23, 2008


I bet there's a single word for that in German.
posted by breezeway at 7:17 PM on January 23, 2008


Deutscherweg
posted by not_on_display at 7:30 PM on January 23, 2008


Kind of a derail, in that I am addressing what the OP said at the top of the thread, but a post on the death of Heath Ledger is not Meta.

What makes it Meta is people commenting on the post itself: who the fuck is Heath Ledger? I had never heard of the guy, and, if I had been so inclined, I probably would have asked the same question in the thread. It's what makes MetaFilter an interesting and compelling place to visit.

A weepy post over some dead minor star is crap, crap, CRAP, I say.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:18 PM on January 23, 2008


Propriety for a single-word English version/virtue.
posted by Abiezer at 8:24 PM on January 23, 2008


For the individual level, my preferred taxonomy is "showing some goddamned restraint, for christ's sake"...

Goddamnit cortex! Do NOT misuse that word. If you do it again I'm going to drag a half-dozen cranky metafiltroons with taxonomist on their business cards down to portland and force you to sit through a live reading of Svenonious.
posted by stet at 8:41 PM on January 23, 2008


Taxonomy trumps taxidermy.

Though I always wondered if there was a taxidermist out there mounting animals as they were at the moment of lethal impact, or as they were while they tried to drag themselves to safety with a round in the gut.

Jeez, what a creep. Taxi!
posted by breezeway at 8:48 PM on January 23, 2008


Does it really happen often enough to be annoying?
posted by mattoxic at 10:41 PM on January 23, 2008


Though I always wondered if there was a taxidermist out there mounting animals

i've heard they prefer to mount sheep
posted by pyramid termite at 11:17 PM on January 23, 2008


Hey, I'm totally in the right. That one phrase? That's my entire taxonomy. I built a whole lexical classification architecture to house that one item.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:20 PM on January 23, 2008


Show some goddamn restraint, for christ's sake!

Oh yeah, that's ni-i-i-i-ice.
posted by breezeway at 5:33 AM on January 24, 2008


potch: so you believe this type of comment (or at least its first sentence) ought to be avoided?
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 6:54 AM on January 24, 2008


My restraints. Let me show you them.
posted by team lowkey at 11:29 AM on January 24, 2008


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