Good link and good discussion January 14, 2002 8:19 AM   Subscribe

Good link vs good discussion: Which is more important? And why is it so difficult to find both in a FPP lately?
posted by dogmatic to MetaFilter-Related at 8:19 AM (32 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

Because the best links are to things which are beautiful or thought-provoking or informative and web-based; the best discussions often seem to spring from poll-type situations or arguments about current events. Sadly, when posts which are meant to trigger good discussions don't, you're usually not left with anything really worthwhile.
posted by snarkout at 8:28 AM on January 14, 2002

There's been a lot of bitching about what's more important - the link or the subsequent discussion. Right now it seems that MeFi is divided into two camps: one that comes here for interesting links and one that comes here for interesting discussion. Generally, it seems that the older users are appreciate links while newer users skew toward discussion. Is there a way to bridge this rift? If not, what's the future of MeFi?
posted by dogmatic at 8:39 AM on January 14, 2002

Speaking personally I like both, if there's some sort of equilibrium.

The key words for me when thinking about FPPs are unique things [...] find on the web (from the about page) and most people haven't seen [...] before (from the guidelines). I believe (stop me if I'm wrong, I wasn't here) that the original purpose of metafilter was to spark discussion about unique or original content on the web. The problem, if there is one, is that there seems to be a lot of discussion lately about things that just aren't unique, such as news links to CNN et al.

There's also the point of view that this is a community and anything a community does is, de facto, it's purpose. It's probably a hard thing to bear if you join a community for one purpose and then that purpose appears to change under your nose.
posted by walrus at 8:58 AM on January 14, 2002

As an 'older user', I do come for links, but I also look forward toward discussions on those links. I think the perception that 'older users' prefer links to discussion is that there have been complaints about so much news-centric links and most discussions occurring around those items rather than other types of discussions (non-politics, non-religion, non-Dubya etc).

There seems more of a competition to post the first occurance of a news item rather than something interesting from the web.

As for the lack of variety - I blame that on the previous reasons mentioned.. mainly the lack of new blood / more heterogenous participation.
posted by rich at 9:13 AM on January 14, 2002

I agree with Rich, and also, I hate to say it, but--I think the web is a less interesting place than it was a couple years ago.
posted by rodii at 9:16 AM on January 14, 2002

Some people confuse 'good discussion' with 'a long page of comments'.

Long pages of comments are frequently not discussions, they're either a list of subjective opinions (resulting from poll posts) or arguments (resulting from troll posts).

I don't think the emphasis should be on good discussion. There might be a good FPP with only a few comments after it, but the reading (or listening) is the worthwhile part.

In the case of the recent FPPs talking about bands, there are long pages of listed subjective opinions. People might like them because a) they can reply to the post, because it's highly likely that they have some opinion about some band, and b) they can have their opinions affirmed by others' posts: "I like that band too!" - but that doesn't mean that it's a very worthwhile 'discussion', or that it's even a discussion at all.
posted by kv at 9:18 AM on January 14, 2002

I think we have to admit that we're not going to solve the world's problems here; we're unlikely to convince anyone that their long-held opinions are invalid; we're unlikely to get trolls to stop trolling or idiots to stop, um, idioting. The best we can do is (a) not shit on Matt's work, (b) ignore blatant trolling and idiocy, (c) play nice, and (d) be the best poster/commenter you can be. The more people that can do that, the better Metafilter will be for everyone.
posted by UncleFes at 9:33 AM on January 14, 2002

I chatted with Matt very briefly about this sort of thing after the Cleveland Browns bottle-throwing thread I posted a few weeks ago. It seems there is a Zen koan for Metafilter:

Current events and other discussions that were not originally meant to be on Metafilter are becoming the acceptable norm, but they're also contributing to the eventual demise of Metafilter.

I had a long essay written here using the "worst band of all time" thread as an example, but I don't think it belongs here. Let's just say, really think about what you're posting and try to promote good, thoughtful discussion.
posted by starvingartist at 9:51 AM on January 14, 2002

I hate sports analogies and I hate baseball, but here goes : posting is like pitching, the batter is the first comment, the ensuing commenting is the infield and outfield, mefi cops are first , third and home base umpires, all the fans in the stadium are lurkers, and Matt's the Comish. Everyone is necessary, and it 's beautiful to watch and play....oh well, I gave it a try.
posted by Voyageman at 10:10 AM on January 14, 2002

...and the hot dog salesman is from Portugal.

Yeah, it all makes sense.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 10:19 AM on January 14, 2002

perritos calientes
posted by Voyageman at 10:25 AM on January 14, 2002

... and occasionally someone thinks they're in a pro wrestling match and sneaks up behind the players and beats them over the head with a folding chair.
posted by darukaru at 10:37 AM on January 14, 2002

Does that make clavdivs the "SOY BOMB" guy?
posted by Marquis at 10:52 AM on January 14, 2002

I think waxpancake's post today is in the vein of classic metafilter. An amazing find you wouldn't normally see unless thousands of pairs of eyes were scouring the web for interesting bits.

There's not much to discuss about the links, but it's a great post
posted by mathowie (staff) at 11:03 AM on January 14, 2002

perritos calientes

That would be cachorros quentes in Portuguese, Voyageman. [lower lip starts strembling] I may be your hot dog salesman [tears begin streaming]...but... but I have my pride!

posted by MiguelCardoso at 11:03 AM on January 14, 2002

Clavdivs is the guy who whispers crazytalk into Jaron Lanier's ears while he preps his dreads.
posted by UncleFes at 2:00 PM on January 14, 2002

Current events and other discussions that were not originally meant to be on Metafilter are becoming the acceptable norm, but they're also contributing to the eventual demise of Metafilter.

Will it be necessary to have each FPP submission approved by a small group of moderators before eveyone else sees it?

Or, what about a self-rating system on each FPP like what's done at All registered and logged-in users could rate the FPP. Then the ones with a low rating after 'n' votes could be removed from the main page, moved to the "fark" area, or hopefully, people will see for themselves from the ratings what constitutes a good FPP.

posted by munger at 3:26 PM on January 14, 2002

Right now it seems that MeFi is divided into two camps: one that comes here for interesting links and one that comes here for interesting discussion.

I would argue this point. This business of 'two camps' may sound good, but I don't think it's true - or, rather, I think it's an oversimplification.

It's 'Fork! Spoon!' once again - i.e. an argument that is merely vociferous agreement. We all know the history and I'm not going to belabour the point - I would simply suggest that most people enjoy both good FPP's and good discussion, to various degrees, and at various times.

It may not all be good, but it's fruitless to identify 'division into camps' where none exists, as those polarized camps will spring up at the very suggestion they do exist.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:44 PM on January 14, 2002

...and the hot dog salesman is from Portugal.

....and the beer vendor is from Bridgeport, Connecticut.

Sorry, had to stake my claim.
posted by jonmc at 7:03 PM on January 14, 2002

Or, what about a self-rating system on each FPP like what's done at

That sounds pretty interesting, but I wonder how many people will vote along political lines. I doubt a pro-Bush post would reach the top here. I'm also curious to know if people will vote strictly on the FPP or consider the discussion too. A great post could turn into a trollish exchange very quickly, it doesn't seem fair that a great post should be knocked to the bottom of the page because so-and-so can't stop using the phrase "Emperor Asscroft."

I'm not saying its a bad idea, I'd love to see it implemented just to see how it eventually pans out. I'm sure its a lot of work but if Matt is considering adding moderation to comments he could use a lot of the same code to do FPPs too.
posted by skallas at 7:15 PM on January 14, 2002

posted by rodii at 8:03 PM on January 14, 2002

posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:20 PM on January 14, 2002

posted by rodii at 8:22 PM on January 14, 2002

I accuse rodii of being anti-spoon.
posted by machaus at 8:24 PM on January 14, 2002

The anti-Spoon thread is next door. This is being-hit-on-the-head lessons in here.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:24 PM on January 14, 2002

posted by walrus at 1:15 AM on January 15, 2002

Um, guys? There is no Spoon.
posted by j.edwards at 1:30 AM on January 15, 2002

People, people, there's a simple hardware solution to this problem: The Spork
posted by dchase at 6:10 AM on January 15, 2002


I don't think a thread rating would really work. It would get caught in the momentum just as posting does.. and I see people abusing it more than it being useful.
posted by rich at 6:11 AM on January 15, 2002

Spoon any day.
posted by Voyageman at 10:56 AM on January 15, 2002

Stavros, genuine, heartfelt linkslutting is a powerful, wonderful thing. For instance, if you knew a particular thread on mefi was mentioned in a particular book, and wanted to garner hits for your site, surely it would be an excellent idea to mention your site as much as possible. Possibly with several links to your site.

The most important thing, naturally, is the meta aspects of this. There was a mefi link that was mentioned in a book, linked to on a weblog, and then discussed back on the original mefi link. The circle is complete: the linkwhoring is the icing on the cake.
posted by Neale at 9:07 PM on July 22, 2002

Some more thoughts in the key of Meta:

Having just read an entire book about the weblogging culture (in theory - you may have skipped to the back to read the last page first, which would of ruined the surprise ending where Matt turns out to be a woman) the reader of this thread may have their mind open enough for other possible ideas about weblogging not expressed in the book, a political agenda highjacking.

For instance, if you thought weblogs are a blight on the face of the web (which, in reality, everyone already knows), you could you this thread as a space to speak about the highly masturbatory nature of weblogs, thereby leaving a sour taste in the readers' mouth, possibly turning them off weblogs forever.

An audience, pro-blog, turned off blogs forever because of one foul post to a thread briefly mentioned at the back of a book.

As a safety precaution, I hereby advise any book readers who have come here to read up on this thread, to READ NO FURTHER. Who knows what meta-commentary lies ahead. RUN! RUN WHILE YOU STILL CAN!
posted by Neale at 9:22 PM on July 22, 2002

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