Who was the MetaDetective? March 6, 2008 12:10 AM   Subscribe

Who was the comment detective?

I seem to remember there being a user some time back who would prepare these detailed dossier posts on other Mefi users, putting together a picture of their lives based entirely on what they'd posted here.

Does anyone else remember this? Links?
posted by jtron to MetaFilter-Related at 12:10 AM (96 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite

tamim has done some dossier posts, mostly in Metatalk threads.

Here's one he did on thomcatspike.

I think there are others if you search through his posting history.
posted by amyms at 12:27 AM on March 6, 2008


That's the one! Thanks, amyms!
posted by jtron at 12:31 AM on March 6, 2008


You're welcome :)
posted by amyms at 12:37 AM on March 6, 2008


Don't do that, by the way. The dossier thing, it's creepy.
posted by carsonb at 1:42 AM on March 6, 2008 [7 favorites]


That's awesome. Someone compile a book of these.
posted by hjo3 at 2:03 AM on March 6, 2008


Haha, and tamim's even kind of responsible for the feature that lets someone do that kind of research easily...
posted by hjo3 at 2:11 AM on March 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Heh, I think it's pretty funny. The only thing you could find out about me, though (I think), is that I speak Danish and that I want a mod in my time zone. And probably a bit about my past relationships based on my AskMe history.
posted by sveskemus at 2:53 AM on March 6, 2008


So Tamim's got an amusing hobby. Or a creepy hobby. At least he's got a hobby :)

I personally would be amused to see what he (or anyone else, for that matter) would dredge up on me.
posted by pjern at 3:12 AM on March 6, 2008


Creepy.
posted by Stewriffic at 3:28 AM on March 6, 2008


Creepy? Why? Everything you write in this medium is more or less permanent, and probably can and will be traced back to you. Don't harbor any illusions about it.

Hell, it's pretty amusing (and a little flattering) that someone did a profile of him. For me, I can't say it would be a challenge, though. As I say in my profile:

I long ago gave up the pretense of web anonymity that many people cling to. To me, this is the natural corollary of all that "be yourself" advice you got in grade school.
posted by chrisamiller at 3:47 AM on March 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


The only thing you could find out about me, though (I think), is that I speak Danish and that I want a mod in my time zone.

Interesting facts about sveskemus:

Is European and doesn't wear Speedos.

Tried absinthe.

At 15, found internet porn "terribly exciting".

Killed a man with his bare hands.
posted by burnmp3s at 4:00 AM on March 6, 2008 [11 favorites]


Well played, burnmp3s.
posted by chrisamiller at 4:18 AM on March 6, 2008


Fuck, rick-rolled.
posted by Happy Dave at 5:19 AM on March 6, 2008


I used to love it when tamim did those dossiers, and I don't think they were creepy exactly (well, maybe a bit!) - the thomcatspike one linked above for example, is good-humoured, and was only done to defend thomcatspike from a lot of rather nasty, patronising shit flung his way over the years for his eccentric, poetic prose style. If memory serves, the others were in the same spirit.

See also: tamim on Miguel Cardoso (I'm sure there are a couple more too?)

And: rcade does a bravura tamim-style dossier on tamim!
posted by jack_mo at 5:29 AM on March 6, 2008


Oh, and: tamim explains his history at MetaFilter, with quite a few links, funnily enough.
posted by jack_mo at 5:35 AM on March 6, 2008


I thought it was a bit creepy, but entertaining. And yeah, everything you write here is permanently made public, so caveat poster, etc.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 5:55 AM on March 6, 2008


I suddenly have the feeling of I've already said too much!
posted by Wolfdog at 6:32 AM on March 6, 2008


Man, good ol' tamim. With thorough annotation comes great responsibility, etc; I was impressed as hell by his dossiers, back in the day, partly because he seemed to know very well that he was digging through someone's history and didn't display any jerkish intentions along the way. It's hard to avoid the "creepy" thing entirely, I guess, and that ties in to some extent to our recent discussions upon the rollout of the user text search about not going dumpster-diving, but the creepy fell to the idea and not the execution as far as I was concerned.

I think I said as much in the corresponding thread, but 88 Lines About 44 Mefites absolutely owes that dude a spiritual debt of gratitude.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:50 AM on March 6, 2008


I like your shirt, Wolfdog.
Did you get a haircut?
Looks good.
Your phone is ringing.
I'll get it.
Just a wrong number.
Hope you enjoyed the paella last night.
It was a bit too salty, wasn't it.
There are some dust bunnies under your fridge that are really big.
See ya!
posted by Dizzy at 6:52 AM on March 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Roll up your windows, cortex; it looks like rain!
posted by Dizzy at 6:53 AM on March 6, 2008


What jack_mo and cortex said. And where the hell did tamim go? He hasn't been seen 'round these parts since December 6, 2004. Come back, tamim!
posted by languagehat at 7:09 AM on March 6, 2008


Whoah, rcade's dossier post on tamim is great. I wish that tamim fellah would come back.
posted by NoMich at 7:19 AM on March 6, 2008


I still have no idea how pracowity knows so much about me.
Googling my name doesn't really reveal where I was born.
posted by jpdoane at 7:25 AM on March 6, 2008


Because I exist solely within my own head, I am able to turn down the volume on the crazy that bounces around in here. I know that it comes out in my comments now and again though.

I don't want anyone to profile me, because I strongly suspect that seeing the evidence all laid out in front of me, that I'd be forced to acknowledge that I'm a fairly loathsome person.

That, and that I quote way too many movies. It's like a sickness.
posted by quin at 7:55 AM on March 6, 2008




Didn't Cadehead do this?
posted by mattbucher at 7:58 AM on March 6, 2008


jpdoane, there's a link to your Flickr profile in the period at the end of pracowity's comment; it says your hometown is Grand Rapids.
posted by cgc373 at 8:34 AM on March 6, 2008


This is where rcade freaks out tamim.
posted by mattbucher at 8:51 AM on March 6, 2008


Okay, I really, really want to take somebody's body of activity and do a Tamim-style dossier, except instead of trying to get real information, try to get all the facts wrong. You know, quote things out of context, leave out qualifying phrases to make it seem like someone was saying something else, build an extremely shaky tower of unlikely deductions with some tiny premise (maybe a typo) leading to an enormous conclusion, etc.

But I'm currently sick with some nasty bug, and I don't have the patience to pull it off. Makes me appreciate the effort Tamim (and Rcade) put into those posts.

Oh, and thank you for posting a link to that song, Cortex. Fantastic. I'll probably lose the next half hour or so to following the links in the lyrics.
posted by ErWenn at 8:51 AM on March 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


I do not deny my denial of not denying my involvement with the Kennedy assassination.
posted by blue_beetle at 9:00 AM on March 6, 2008


cgc373 - thanks! Good sleuthing
posted by jpdoane at 9:04 AM on March 6, 2008


Ooh, do me, do me!
posted by chrismear at 9:26 AM on March 6, 2008


I personally would be amused to see what he (or anyone else, for that matter) would dredge up on me.

Oh absolutely with you on that. Though I'd probably regret having my real name as my username then. :-/
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 9:27 AM on March 6, 2008


When I was planning to attend a recent meetup, I did this to several pending attendees, before my fiance condemned me for the creepiness of it. I though I was being earnest.
posted by chudmonkey at 9:47 AM on March 6, 2008


before my fiance condemned me

Ah, but, you see, it's okay for girls to be creepy.
posted by chrismear at 9:59 AM on March 6, 2008


Yes, I know you are a guy, this does not take away from my point.
posted by chrismear at 9:59 AM on March 6, 2008


I personally would be amused to see what he (or anyone else, for that matter) would dredge up on me.
posted by pjern at 6:12 AM on March 6


pjern1 is a 22 year old female gymnast who enjoys cosplaying as a middle aged mall santa at roleplaying and anime conventions. Her current username, once solipsist, derives from her love of Anne McCaffrey books as translated into swedish. She had asked mathowie to change the username from solipsist after realizing that her grandchildren (currently aged 45 and 72) might one day learn to use the internet and discover that her online identity had been the middle english term for a jousting arena's backstage receptacle for used codpieces.

pjern is terrified of flying,2 having only done so once in her life at the tender age of 0.5 years old when her parents had thrown her into the air and misjudged the wind at the time so that she landed not in their backyard but in one of the gathering bins for a local onion farm. This is the genesis of pjern's oft-heard admonition "It'll all end in tears."3

As a long time critic (she's been publishing letters to the editors of various magazines for at least a week) of photography, both analog and digital, pjern has often voiced her displeasure toward the medium on metafilter4 and has vowed never to touch a camera or allow her picture to be taken for as long as she lives.5 Having attained imperfect, but decent, results in this endeavor, pjern has managed to be photographed only 6,742 times in the past 3 days.footnote 6 redacted
posted by shmegegge at 10:18 AM on March 6, 2008 [4 favorites]


This article needs additional citations for verification.

Please help improve this article by adding reliable references. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed.
posted by burnmp3s at 10:49 AM on March 6, 2008


I keep a... well.... a small spreadsheet. it's nothing, really.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 11:44 AM on March 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


We know that "That's what the body of a woman is for [thomcatspike], pure lust," but we don't know his relationship status.

These are full-fledged biographies of people's self-images.
posted by roll truck roll at 12:28 PM on March 6, 2008


You lot can get really fucking weird sometimes.
posted by pinkbuttonanus at 12:37 PM on March 6, 2008 [5 favorites]


Baby_Balrog's been working on the same novel for twenty years, hoping that the first line will cause its readers to stand and utter these words: "Hats off, gentlemen!"

shmegegge is a sixty-year old anthropologist, specializing in the Mayan and Incan empires. Her love skeletal jewelry is well-documented, though carbon dating has established that all her pieces are at least fifteen hundred years old.

jtron is a middle-aged private detective, who does not like the term 'dick.' He owns several telescoping lenses for his Nikon SLR, which he recently used to capture the infidelities of a Democratic presidential candidate, though he won't say which one.

anotherpanacea wishes the world were more like a short story by Borges or a novel by Eco. He adds a wistful magic to his realist metaphysics by sprinkling his articles and books with references to fictitious events and false citations that appear real. He has yet to be caught for these scholarly outrages, but lives in mixed fear and anticipation for the ensuing debate.
posted by anotherpanacea at 12:39 PM on March 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


i am an inscrutable mystery.
posted by quonsar at 2:57 PM on March 6, 2008


I kind of want to see one of these on me. I love hearing about myself, even if it's my psychiatrist listing all the Axis I disorders I should be treated for immediately.

(Heh. Mine would be all "Metroid Baby is narcissistic, has low self-esteem, and thinks she's fat.")
posted by Metroid Baby at 3:04 PM on March 6, 2008


Yes, you are.
posted by timeistight at 3:07 PM on March 6, 2008


q
posted by timeistight at 3:07 PM on March 6, 2008


Ooh I'm glad you came back and cleared that up...Otherwise I think MB might have had a beef with you. :)
posted by CwgrlUp at 3:41 PM on March 6, 2008


I dunno, q, I'd scrute ya.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:47 PM on March 6, 2008


I already presume you all know everything about me, since you all exist only in my imagination.

god, my inner life is boring.
posted by not_on_display at 3:54 PM on March 6, 2008


And Ithought I was the only one who spent entirely too much time on Metafilter (and AskMe, and the grey, and...)
posted by misha at 4:10 PM on March 6, 2008


I'm taking notes...
posted by Benny Andajetz at 4:19 PM on March 6, 2008


You lot can get really fucking weird sometimes.

pinkbuttonanus, I'd like to introduce you to my friend, Kettle.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:21 PM on March 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Anyway, that's not particularly weird. Creepy, yes, but not weird.

I, on the other hand, spend far too much time wondering which mefites are actually people I know in real life, who go to inordinate lengths to disguise their identities with totally invented lives & interests, and who maintain vast cross-referenced repositories of information on what they've said previously, so as not to get caught out in the lie.

I am ever-alert for cracks in the facade, though, which I research with gumshoe-like persistence & inventiveness.

I am almost certain that misha, for example, is the Greek guy who supervises the loading dock around the back of the factory where I work.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:30 PM on March 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


Oh dear. All those comments I made about my breasts suddenly seem so ill-considered.
posted by orange swan at 5:16 PM on March 6, 2008 [6 favorites]


Y'all are making me feel bad about my recurrent fabulism.

I can only condemn the complicity of those who have gone along with it, pretending to meet me in person, pretending to date me, pretending to shore up my web of lies.

I'm a 48-year-old woman with a lot of cats and too much free time.
posted by klangklangston at 5:32 PM on March 6, 2008


Pretending to date you?

But you said you loved me! I bet your real name isn't even Klang Klangston!
posted by box at 5:42 PM on March 6, 2008


orange swan: did you use any terms other than "breasts", because that only shows up four results, one of which was the comment you just made here.
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:25 PM on March 6, 2008


hey, orange swan recycles her own jokes!

suddenly all those comments I've posted about my boobs seem so ill-advised.

posted by orange swan at 3:55 PM on September 7, 2003.
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:29 PM on March 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Actually, the first time I read one of those comments of his, I had a total panic attack. I was like, "Oh shit. I really need to stop typing on this site RIGHT. THIS. MINUTE."

Not that I did.
posted by miss lynnster at 6:58 PM on March 6, 2008


miss lynnster: the thing is, somebody would have to care enough in the first place to trawl through one's entire commenting history in order to put one of those biographies together. that would be either flattering or scary, i'm not sure which, but it's not particularly likely*.

personally, i only write stuff here so that after i die, my friends & relatives can read up & learn just what a malicious, snarky bastard i really was.

(* i advise you to favourite this comment as a bookmark. you'll be able to trot it out as delicious irony if & when i am hunted down & killed by a crazed internet fan)
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:09 PM on March 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


uh oh.. suddenly all those comments I've posted about UbuRoivas' gadonkadonk seem ill advised.
posted by not_on_display at 7:19 PM on March 6, 2008


Hey! You tricked me!

note to self: put n_o_d on potential internet stalker watchlist
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:22 PM on March 6, 2008


I wish I were even vaguely interesting enough for someone to bother doing one of those on me. I'm an open book on the internet -- not the hidey type, but also probably pretty damn regular and boring, so what's the point?
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:47 PM on March 6, 2008


I think everybody is interesting. And people who present a boring exterior are sometimes the most interesting. I don't think this is creepy, I think it's fabulous. I love the things people say about themselves especially when it doesn't matter, when they're not trying to prop themselves up or tear themselves down. Metafilter is filled with very interesting people who have some insightful things to say and that's why I come here. Knowing the interesting tidbits behind the personas makes it even better.
posted by Danila at 8:18 PM on March 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Sometimes I like to boil an egg for three or four hours. Not because it tastes better that way; I just like to watch it bob around in the saucepan, and listen to the sound it makes when it hits the metal.
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:40 PM on March 6, 2008 [3 favorites]


Danila, pretty much everything I say is intended on some level to either prop myself up or tear myself down. Sometimes, I can swing from one to the other and back again within the span of a single sentence. On very rare occasions, I will realize that the net benefit of making the comment doesn't make up for the fact that my primary motivation is a desire for attention. And on those occasions, nobody notices because I don't end up posting. (Although, as you can see, I seem to have just undermined any self-righteousness I might have gleaned from those decisions not to post (I am aware that commenting on undermining myself doesn't unundermine it, though I'm hoping that enough people will find it amusing to make up for it (I am also aware that calling attention to humorous attempts makes them less funny, but this won't be the first time I've failed to avoid doing so (I admit that that last parenthetical comment was merely an attempt to continue a running gag of nested parenthetical comments (I'm keeping this up because I have a theory that a running gag loses all humor it had after about three repetitions and doesn't get it back until at least the sixth repetition (did it work?)))))).
posted by ErWenn at 9:00 PM on March 6, 2008


hey, orange swan recycles her own jokes!

Arghhh. Now that's probably the most embarrassing thing that would appear in a dossier on me.
posted by orange swan at 9:33 PM on March 6, 2008 [3 favorites]


Baby_Balrog: "I keep a... well.... a small spreadsheet. it's nothing, really."

A certain ex-MeFi regular used to keep a dossier on lots of MeFi members, gathered through their comments on the site, things they said in #mefi and extensive googling and subsequent research done on said members.
posted by dg at 9:39 PM on March 6, 2008


Thanks, shmegegge. I'm still laughing.
posted by pjern at 9:43 PM on March 6, 2008


This is why nothing I say is true. Even when I make apparently exhaustively alternative claims, none of them are true.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 9:44 PM on March 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


orange swan: mefigoogling "embarrassing" or "embarrassed" against you reveals otherwise.

for example, you didn't know what Jon Stewart looked like!

(this is the first time i've trialled that new search pony, and it's kinda scary!)
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:54 PM on March 6, 2008

A certain ex-MeFi regular used to keep a dossier on lots of MeFi members, gathered through their comments on the site, things they said in #mefi and extensive googling and subsequent research done on said members.
link plz
posted by jtron at 10:25 PM on March 6, 2008


So, that cute girl I had a crush on in the third grade. Hm. Let's see, 65,000 members, 300,000,000 US citizens, maybe 250,000,000 that roughly fall within range, lesse, is that 26/100ths of one percent chance she's on here? Shit, forgot about the durn furriners on here. Hm, probably more like 2/10ths of one percent.

Now all I need to do is remember her name, come up with a convenient excuse for the Mrs., an appropriate explanation to the authorities, and convincing patter about how she hasn't aged a day in 32 years...

Now this will be a test of the member's comment search.
posted by maxwelton at 10:36 PM on March 6, 2008


Looking at my dossier, max, that woman is Phyllis Wojnecki; she is not on MeFi but is on Stumbleupon. Looking at your 3rd grade picture, I can tell you that in 32 years, you've both aged fairly, but her psychological profile reveals that she would see through your wily charms. Your Mrs. is reading your emails, too, so best go the phone route.
posted by not_on_display at 11:36 PM on March 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Also: UbuProivas. When you're walking from the living room to the bathroom, please don't keep stepping on the mic under the hallway rug. It's an expensive mic. Also, #3, 8, and 11 on your list are correct. #6 and 15 you can cross off (you only WISH Punky Brewster was stalking you). Which reminds me: your prescription is ready at Walgreens; don't forget your health insurance this time.
posted by not_on_display at 11:42 PM on March 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm a 48-year-old woman with a lot of cats and too much free time.

I am Mrs Buttons, one of Klang's cats, preparing a searing analysis of identity fraud for 60 Minutes
posted by Sparx at 3:01 AM on March 7, 2008


Ha! Can't fool me that easily. My living room is my bathroom. Well, it has been ever since I picked up that cute antique bedpan at a garage sale.
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:09 AM on March 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


jtron: "
A certain ex-MeFi regular used to keep a dossier on lots of MeFi members, gathered through their comments on the site, things they said in #mefi and extensive googling and subsequent research done on said members.
link plz
"

Wouldn't be much of a secret dossier if I could link to it now, would it? I guess I forgot to mention that it was secret, known only to a very select few at the time. Just another data point to remind people that anything they put online can end up in places you never thought of.
posted by dg at 3:10 AM on March 7, 2008


anything they put online can end up in places you never thought of

and that would be a problem why, exactly?

for example (revealing too much here) there's no reason to assume that the entity known as Ubu is one single person.
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:17 AM on March 7, 2008


Well, it wouldn't be a problem for me (or for you, apparently), but people often share information on-line and live to regret it when someone finds it and uses it against them. It doesn't hurt to remind people to make sure they are comfortable with what they are making public in a permanent and irreversible manner.
posted by dg at 4:21 AM on March 7, 2008


hey, in another thread just the other minute, i insinuated that i had experience with heroin, coke & meth, despite the fact that even as some nine year tough old peddles drugs, i swear to god, i swear i never even knew what drugs were. but that's ok - my political career was doomed the second i decided to play devil's advocate for the NAMBLA.

what you say makes sense, though: something repeated again & again in expensive corporate training thingies is that you should never put anything into an email that you wouldn't want plastered on the front page of your local paper. the same goes for online stuff.

unfortunately, it's pretty easy to take things out of context or assume somebody was speaking earnestly when in fact they were making some sort of ironic quip, like a nigger saying that he has a job or something.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:43 AM on March 7, 2008


Heh, I was talking to my boss this afternoon about e-mails we had both received by mistake from someone, which described us in far from glowing terms (I work for the government, so that's pretty much par for the course). We commented that we really should be careful about some of the conversations we have via e-mail about some people (including the person who sent us the e-mail by mistake, ironically enough). The general rule we are asked to follow is that we don't put anything in e-mail we wouldn't say to the subject of the message, which I think is a safe way to go. E-mail is such a convenient medium, though, that it's hard to resist sometimes. Places like MeFi are this way too - it's such a comfortable place that it's easy to forget that there are sometimes hundreds (thousands?) of people watching.
posted by dg at 4:59 AM on March 7, 2008


sorry, did i hear that right? there are only sometimes hundreds (thousands?) of people watching?

damn, and i thought this was my ticket to a syndicated sitcom that would allow me to retire forever to the bahamas within less than a year.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:16 AM on March 7, 2008


I can't even keep people's gender or sexual orientation clear in my head. I still mistake empath for a woman and UbuRoivas for a gay guy.
posted by desjardins at 7:22 AM on March 7, 2008


> anything they put online can end up in places you never thought of

and that would be a problem why, exactly?


One of those places could be your butt. Next time you're typing up a comment rashly, ask yourself: do I want to find this in my butt?
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:47 AM on March 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


Wow, I can't believe thomcatspike is a native English speaker.
posted by ninebelow at 8:10 AM on March 7, 2008


cortex: ask yourself: do I want to find this in my butt? Well so much for line breaks and large text.
posted by carsonb at 9:36 AM on March 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


desjardins typed "I can't even keep people's gender or sexual orientation clear in my head. I still mistake empath for a woman and UbuRoivas for a gay guy."

Huh. Gender doesn't really come into how I think about most of you.
posted by roll truck roll at 9:41 AM on March 7, 2008


Well, it wouldn't be a problem for me (or for you, apparently), but people often share information on-line and live to regret it when someone finds it and uses it against them. It doesn't hurt to remind people to make sure they are comfortable with what they are making public in a permanent and irreversible manner.

LOL. it must be fun to live in your fantasy land.
posted by Stynxno at 9:43 AM on March 7, 2008


link to fantasy land, pls
posted by not_on_display at 11:28 AM on March 7, 2008


I am not a man, I am not Greek, and I do not work on a loading dock. Other than that, Ubu, you've got me down to a T!

How does he do it?! ; )
posted by misha at 11:45 AM on March 7, 2008


not_on_display, your accuracy is laughable: It was Phyllis Wojnecka. I mean, come on.
posted by maxwelton at 1:00 PM on March 7, 2008


you've got your metafilter in my butt!
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:07 PM on March 7, 2008


I still mistake empath for a woman and UbuRoivas for a gay guy.

this means i must be doing something right. and to back that up, just the other day a woman at the factory who i've worked very closely with for more than five years asked "so, did you participate in the [gay & lesbian] mardi gras?" and then tried to backpedal by tacking on "i mean, like going to watch it or seeing any of the other exhibitions & performances around it...?"
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:12 PM on March 7, 2008


I just arrange you on my shelf by colors, that's how I remember you all.
posted by not_on_display at 3:51 PM on March 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


max: That's the one thing I forgot to tell you. Phillys is now Philip. Was a, now i. Thanks for picking up the error. I have already rewarded you; please look in your kitchen garbage, at the bottom of the basket.
posted by not_on_display at 3:53 PM on March 7, 2008


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