Hope me understand March 7, 2009 6:04 PM   Subscribe

Would Metafilter admins appreciate deliberate shit-stirring on their site? If not, why encourage it elsewhere by approving the question?
posted by Krrrlson to Etiquette/Policy at 6:04 PM (245 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

Uh, meant to link to the question itself, not a comment.
posted by Krrrlson at 6:05 PM on March 7, 2009


A contentious web forum would be perfect.
A contentious web forum would be perfect.
posted by DU at 6:14 PM on March 7, 2009


If either of you are counting on me to defend you, don't, since I don't exactly know what the hell your on about. I'll defend you when you're getting a hard time but not on reflex
posted by jonmc at 6:27 PM on March 7, 2009


WTF, why was that approved, and WTF are people thinking by providing answers?

That's antisocial behaviour on the part of the mods toward their own community ("we shit on the owners of social web communities by helping people figure out how to best stir up the shit"), and be extension antisocial behaviour on the part of the mods toward other communities ("we shit on citizens of social web communities by helping people figure out how to best stir up the shit").

This is not unlike helping people figure out how to cheat, how to lie, and how to murder. Not necessarily as violent, but similarly destructive to community. It's pissing in the public pool, it's tainting the drinking water. It is sociopathic: anthetical to community, destructive instead of constructive.

IMO, bad mods, no cookie. Building community needs to be priority one in our society, both weblife and real life.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:43 PM on March 7, 2009


Oh, my.
posted by The Whelk at 6:51 PM on March 7, 2009


Fuck you and your "Oh, my," Whelk!
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 6:55 PM on March 7, 2009 [7 favorites]


Excuse me, but Matt has previously mentioned that due to the current economic downturn, he's now using bots on weekends to moderate the site, and approve AskMe questions.
posted by gman at 6:57 PM on March 7, 2009


This is not unlike helping people figure out how to cheat, how to lie, and how to murder.

It's a little different from murder.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:57 PM on March 7, 2009 [34 favorites]


I recently read this thread, and I laughed and I laughed.

Shitty behaviour towards the yahoo answers community, but entertaining.
posted by Dumsnill at 6:59 PM on March 7, 2009


I think it's sad the the OP hasn't intimated that s/he is interested in engaging in conflict in any particularly healthy way, but in a 'controlled' one. (For example, they are seeking conflict, not just debate). It would be sort of icky is someone posed this question on say, craigslist, and someone sent that person here.

That said, is there a website that just focuses on the no-holds barred type of conflict that the OP is seeking? Perhaps it wouldn't be so icky if all of the posters on the site *knew* that's what they were there for.
posted by anitanita at 7:00 PM on March 7, 2009


I sense that AskMe question is some kind of experiment; some psych student doing a research paper or something. The intent being to ask how to start an internet argument on the internet and then, 'ironically', starting one in said thread.

I say delete with extreme prejudice, before it gets out of hand and more people leave the community in a huff.
posted by Effigy2000 at 7:02 PM on March 7, 2009


i think this is an utterly awesome use of askme.

i suggest that we all take of en masse to whichever site is chosen as "best answer" and cause havoc there.
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:03 PM on March 7, 2009


Is there a difference between learning to debate/conflict resolution and trolling?
posted by P.o.B. at 7:03 PM on March 7, 2009


Somebody go get the mods some booze - they're all sober again.
posted by isopraxis at 7:07 PM on March 7, 2009


I'm not sober...make me a mod.... I'll take care of this mess!
posted by HuronBob at 7:09 PM on March 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


Wait, you started a thread to argue about whether or not a question about where to find an argument should be allowed?

Allrighty then.
posted by NoraCharles at 7:18 PM on March 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don't see anyone arguing here.
posted by gman at 7:19 PM on March 7, 2009


IMO, bad mods, no cookie.

I'm sure it breaks their hearts that you disapprove, really.
posted by jonmc at 7:19 PM on March 7, 2009


I don't see anyone sober arguing here.
posted by gman at 7:22 PM on March 7, 2009


No, no... "waaaaaaa".
posted by flabdablet's sock puppet at 7:22 PM on March 7, 2009


Krrrlson is clearly the anonymous OP. Someone even suggested MeTa. And here we are!

UbuRoivas: i suggest that we all take of en masse to whichever site is chosen as "best answer" and cause havoc there.

NOT YOUR PERSONAL ARMY
posted by peggynature at 7:31 PM on March 7, 2009


THIS ASK META IS AWESOME AND SHOULD BE ALLOWED AND ANYONE WHO THINKS OTHERWISE IS A PEDOPHILE OR COMMUNIST AND I'M ALSO NOT TRYING TO INTENTIONALLY START AN INTERNET FIGHT WHAT WITH THE CAPS AND ALL
posted by rollbiz at 7:33 PM on March 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


> i suggest that we all take of en masse to whichever site is chosen as "best answer" and cause havoc there.

...by amiably agreeing with everything.
posted by ardgedee at 7:34 PM on March 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Anon's AskMe is so similar to this joke comment in MeCha that it's uncanny.
posted by ardgedee at 7:37 PM on March 7, 2009 [5 favorites]


c'mon - what's wrong with a little mass trolling? it serves useful psychological functions both for ourselves and also for the people being trolled.
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:43 PM on March 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


and it's been closed.
posted by onalark at 7:46 PM on March 7, 2009


"I suggest that we start either posting or crossposting to alt.tv.beavis-n-butthead. I also suggest that we use big words and perfect grammar, and refuse to write as the young ruffians in question speak.

"This could lead to some interesting 'dialogue.' "

meow
posted by pyramid termite at 7:47 PM on March 7, 2009


This post was deleted for the following reason: The core question here—where are some places where conflicts happen/are okay, maybe?—seems kinda reasonable, but some of the details of what you're asking are not so great, and I don't think it's entirely cool to ask for targets for manufactured conflict. Maybe think this through a bit more, drop us a line if you need to discuss it. -- cortex
posted by Rhomboid at 7:47 PM on March 7, 2009


You know, I've gone ahead and nixed it. I think on a generous reading the question comes off as fairly okay, but I can see the less-than-generous reading too and the implications aren't great. It was nice that some folks tried to approach it constructively—both in terms of providing places that are pro-debate and in arguing for the problematic side of the request—while it was up, anyway.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:48 PM on March 7, 2009


It got closed just before I could post that Anon should join the "Something Awful" forum. If you want to learn to troll, learn from the best.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 7:49 PM on March 7, 2009


Cortex is such a killjoy.

Discuss.
posted by Dumsnill at 7:50 PM on March 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


*locates, kills joy*
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:51 PM on March 7, 2009 [14 favorites]


This Metatalk post is stirring up shit with arguments and it should be banned like murder and Communist pedophiles.

Also I am not sober having had a few beers if that is required.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 7:51 PM on March 7, 2009


It was a strange question, in as much as "abusive debate" is almost impossible to avoid on the internet.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 7:52 PM on March 7, 2009


talk.politics.guns, talk.abortion, alt.atheism, alt.flame, etc.

Usenet was the perfect answer to this question, given that (1) it involves no "site" in which to deliberately shit-stir, and (2) it has a long and glorious history of providing exactly the environment that the poster was looking for.
posted by Combustible Edison Lighthouse at 7:52 PM on March 7, 2009


*locates, kills joy*

'Kill Joys got nuts, Mods don't..'
posted by jonmc at 7:54 PM on March 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


injunction junction, where's your compunction?
posted by sergeant sandwich at 7:55 PM on March 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm just a thread, yeah, I'm only a thread
sittin' right by the front pages head....
posted by jonmc at 7:57 PM on March 7, 2009


Anonymous dude, just come in here and defend your question! Everybody wins.
posted by nanojath at 7:58 PM on March 7, 2009


Anyhow, what he wants is Wikipedia. Everyone knows that.
posted by Artw at 8:48 PM on March 7, 2009


lolcats kill joy.
posted by fleacircus at 8:53 PM on March 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


Are we having a fucking argument here or what, you Coulter-watching, cat-declawing, fat-person-circumcising pussies?
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 8:56 PM on March 7, 2009


If anyone below me says anything other than "rollbiz is the shit" (Case sensitive), they are aiding terrorism.
posted by rollbiz at 9:20 PM on March 7, 2009


rollbiz is indeed shit.

YEAH YOU HEARD ME
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 9:22 PM on March 7, 2009


I ♥ terror.
posted by ryanrs at 9:24 PM on March 7, 2009


I ♥ YOUR MOM
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 9:27 PM on March 7, 2009


My reading was the generous one, but I see why cortex nixed it.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:27 PM on March 7, 2009


jesus, jessamyn, play along won't you?
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 9:38 PM on March 7, 2009


I ♥ all of you.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:44 PM on March 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


I ♥ all of you, too.
posted by not_on_display at 9:46 PM on March 7, 2009 [1 favorite]


I ♥ New Amsterdam
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:52 PM on March 7, 2009


I Claudius.
posted by Combustible Edison Lighthouse at 9:59 PM on March 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


I ♥ carrot cake.

yum
posted by longsleeves at 10:13 PM on March 7, 2009



 _        _______ _________ _______ 
( \      (  ____ \\__   __/(  ____ \
| (      | (    \/   ) (   | (    \/
| |      | (__       | |   | (_____ 
| |      |  __)      | |   (_____  )
| |      | (         | |         ) |
| (____/\| (____/\   | |   /\____) |
(_______/(_______/   )_(   \_______)
                                    
_________ _______  _______  _        _       
\__   __/(  ____ )(  ___  )( \      ( \      
   ) (   | (    )|| (   ) || (      | (      
   | |   | (____)|| |   | || |      | |      
   | |   |     __)| |   | || |      | |      
   | |   | (\ (   | |   | || |      | |      
   | |   | ) \ \__| (___) || (____/\| (____/\
   )_(   |/   \__/(_______)(_______/(_______/

posted by KokuRyu at 10:14 PM on March 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


I ✈ New New Amsterdam
posted by mrzarquon at 10:18 PM on March 7, 2009


Aw man, jessamyn!
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 10:22 PM on March 7, 2009


Do you mean the tragically stunted Fox drama of 8 episodes featuring Nikolaj Coster-Waldau? Because that show totally rocked and deserved more time to thrive. And, like, making furniture is really cool.
posted by Rhomboid at 10:31 PM on March 7, 2009


I ♥ ✈'s.
posted by Effigy2000 at 10:43 PM on March 7, 2009


♥ ✈ ☃
posted by mrzarquon at 10:49 PM on March 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


Has anyone seen Joy?
posted by Sailormom at 10:56 PM on March 7, 2009 [3 favorites]


Assuming Joy is inside a house where cortex can work on it a bit, the first thing he'd be doing is to drain it of fluids. This would make it easier to cut up, and slow decomposition a little bit. The best way to do this quick and dirty is to perforate the body with a pointed knife, and then perform CPR on it. He'd be cutting the fronts of the thighs deep, diagonally, to slit the femoral arteries. Then pumping the chest. The valves in the heart will still work when dead, and the springback of the ribcage can put apply a fair amount of suction to the artria.
posted by UbuRoivas at 11:14 PM on March 7, 2009 [5 favorites]


Joy was last seen yelling at crab man.
posted by Rhomboid at 12:01 AM on March 8, 2009


HaHaHaHaHa... a callout about trolling ....from ......Krrrlson..... HaHaHaHaHa
*falls on floor, wiping tears from eyes *
posted by adamvasco at 12:02 AM on March 8, 2009 [7 favorites]


Wouldn't it be a nice favor to the poster if the mods would do him the favor banning him? Just so, you know, he doesn't have to go off and find another forum to get banned from.

There's a lot of good will already, anyhow. five fresh fish ("This is not unlike helping people figure out... how to murder... bad mods, no cookie") gets special props, as he went out of his way to make sure that his answer here was very helpful. Thanks are in order, I think, to him and to everyone here who pulled together and tried to really show this poor guy how this trollling thing is done, so that he can have something to take home from all this even though his question got deleted.
posted by koeselitz at 12:18 AM on March 8, 2009


It seems like the Pointless Internet Argument Forums were tailor made for this guy, surprised nobody sent him there.
posted by Meatbomb at 12:23 AM on March 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Generous reading: Are there real fight clubs and how can I join? Ungenerous reading: What are good places for suddenly punching people?
posted by Free word order! at 1:55 AM on March 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's not a callout, it's performance art.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:05 AM on March 8, 2009


What are good places for suddenly punching people?

IN THE DICK
posted by carsonb at 3:08 AM on March 8, 2009 [16 favorites]


A dick punch is really just a form of heated foreplay. Could be good, could be less than good.

No, if you meant "a good place for suddenly punching people" where it might get serious attention, you mean the balls.
posted by Dunwitty at 3:37 AM on March 8, 2009


you mean the balls.

Motherfucker talk shit ima punch 'em in the dick.
posted by carsonb at 5:11 AM on March 8, 2009


OMG UR A NOOB. YIFF IN HELL FURFAG!
posted by turgid dahlia at 5:29 AM on March 8, 2009


That said, is there a website that just focuses on the no-holds barred type of conflict that the OP is seeking?

This is Argument. You want Abuse - Room 12, just along the corridor.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:06 AM on March 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


As the old church women say...THE DEBIL GONNA GIT HIM!
posted by sixcolors at 7:21 AM on March 8, 2009


**stirs shit**
posted by Grlnxtdr at 7:48 AM on March 8, 2009


That was fun.
posted by Grlnxtdr at 7:49 AM on March 8, 2009


As the old church women say...THE DEBIL GONNA GIT HIM!

I think we know the devil's already got someone.
posted by gman at 7:51 AM on March 8, 2009


I ♥ New Amsterdam

Why? What's wrong with the old Amsterdam?
posted by DreamerFi at 8:14 AM on March 8, 2009


That's nobody's business but the Turks.
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:23 AM on March 8, 2009 [15 favorites]


I am atheist, liberal, pacifist and slightly authoritarian.

Aside from the license-to-troll angle of this question, what struck me was the whiff of false flag operation to it. I mean, liberals typically don't go around describing themselves as "authoritarian". The whole liberal-as-authoritarian meme is something that folks like Rush Limbaugh have been pushing for some time. Maybe what this poster is really asking is "where can I go be a douche while pretending to be a liberal".
posted by Toecutter at 8:32 AM on March 8, 2009


Does anyone remember that page from back in the usenet days that caricatured all the different kinds of internet personalities? I don't think it had atheist, liberal, pacifist and slightly authoritarian, but it was more along the lines of "The Troll" followed by 3-4 sentences describing his online behavior, and "The Peacemaker" and "The Hall Monitor" and etc. There were several dozen IIRC, and all of them were accompanied by a cartoonish illustration.
posted by headnsouth at 11:45 AM on March 8, 2009


headnsouth: You mean Flame Warriors?

I too think this is a false flag operation. Please also consider the well-established you-smelt-it-you-dealt it theory.
posted by grouse at 11:48 AM on March 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


It's a little different from murder

No shit, Sherlock. Could you make a less thoughtful response? Was it more important to post a short snipe than to understand the phrase in context of the entire message? You must willfully have ignored the phrase that immediately followed, "not necessarily as violent, but similarly destructive to community." Asswipe.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:59 AM on March 8, 2009


Please also consider the well-established you-smelt-it-you-dealt it theory.

I await your evidence for this statement, or, barring that, your apology.
posted by Krrrlson at 12:25 PM on March 8, 2009


You must willfully have ignored the phrase that immediately followed, "not necessarily as violent, but similarly destructive to community."

But, wait, stirring up an argument isn't as destructive to community as murdering people.

However, so many people are being ironically angry in this thread now that maybe you're joking. I'm so confused.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 12:26 PM on March 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yes, grouse, Flame Warriors! Thank you =) Bookmarked so I can look at it at leisure ... it's sure to bring back memories of shit-stirring days gone by.
posted by headnsouth at 12:49 PM on March 8, 2009


Was it more important to post a short snipe than to understand the phrase in context of the entire message?

The intent wasn't to make a short snipe but rather distill your comment down to its flaw: you were using hyperbolic language to get your point across, thus weakening your point.

It's one thing to find that post objectionable, and question why it was approved or why people responded to it. What you did instead was question the intelligence and sanity of not onlyl the moderators (who you should know are not stupid or insane, merely human), and the people who responded to it. Then you proceed to say the mods were acting in an antisocial way not only towards this site but other sites, which is the exact opposite of how they behave.

After that, you're compared their actions to helping people lie, cheat and murder, while throwing in a wishy washy, "ok, it's not that violent, but similar". Still not done, you go to call their actions in approving that question both sociopathic and anthetical to community, despite the fact that they are a large part of what makes Metafilter such a good and unique community.

Finally, you sum it all up by equating the admins to children and then turn around and trot out trite sayings about the need to build community both in weblife and real life.

Seriously?

You've just insulted people who worked, for free or peants to make Metafilter what it is, a website that regularly that gets noted all over the world for being one of the finest places on the web and you insulted many of its users and then have the nerve to talk about the need for constructive community while taking the time and effort to go on a screed to personally insult another member of the site (me)?

Seriously?

Look, clearly you're going to say what you what to say and consequences be damned and that's your choice. But don't think you can pull that crap and go on nasty rants that insult the people who built this site and the people who use it and love it and not get called on it.

That said, if you would now like to get in a flame war, that's cool. It'll be lonely though, I'm going to be be off helping people in Askme (when I can), throwing up cool links on the main page and offering suggestions on how to make the site better here in Meta, while trying to keep a respectful tone and have fun, because that is constructive.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:56 PM on March 8, 2009 [5 favorites]


Then you proceed to say the mods were acting in an antisocial way not only towards this site but other sites, which is the exact opposite of how they behave.

Approving an anonymous post that asks how one can best stir up shit on other sites is antisocial. Regardless all their other terrifically good behaviours, this one decision, to approve that post, was destructive to communities. It was a flat-out bad decision.

It's swell that you're so gosh-darned concerned about the feelings and philanthropy and general awesomeness of our admins. I'm really thrilled by their work as well. But I'll be damned if I'm going to sit silent when they make such a bad, irresponsible decision.

My use of hyperbole to emphasis the wrongness of their original decision may or may not have played a role in their reconsideration; I don't have any evidence one way or the other. But fact is that none of the admins memailed me or torn a strip off me in public would tend to indicate that they aren't nearly so offended as you.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:23 PM on March 8, 2009


My use of hyperbole to emphasis the wrongness of their original decision may or may not have played a role in their reconsideration

Honestly, it played a role in me thinking you were being kind of a dramatic dick about what was otherwise a pretty reasonable "you guys should reconsider this approval" interjection. So, no? It didn't play an active role in the reconsideration itself, I guess, but it did make my night a little crappier.

I decided to just let it drop last night instead of saying anything because I didn't see any real profit it giving you shit about it at the time, but if it's going to be a point of public speculation, then, yes, I thought it sucked.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:00 PM on March 8, 2009 [3 favorites]


asks how one can best stir up shit on other sites

By the way, that's not what was asked. At least I didn't read it that way, and as far as I can tell a few other people did not either.
posted by P.o.B. at 2:19 PM on March 8, 2009


Regardless all their other terrifically good behaviours, this one decision, to approve that post, was destructive to communities

No communities were going to be destroyed by this decision. Communities are the sum of many, many actions and interactions and one potentially bad decision is going to leave the world engulfed in ruins.

It's swell that you're so gosh-darned concerned about the feelings and philanthropy and general awesomeness of our admins. I'm really thrilled by their work as well. But I'll be damned if I'm going to sit silent when they make such a bad, irresponsible decision.

As a member of this and other communities, both on the web and in meatspace, I've found that berating and insulting builders or members of a community isn't constructive. I'm all for pointing out the mods make mistakes, but doing the equivalent of "You antisocial shit, you're murdering communities, how could you be so fucking stupid?!" is not helpful, it is inherently and profoundly destructive.

But fact is that none of the admins memailed me or torn a strip off me in public would tend to indicate that they aren't nearly so offended as you.

This is isn't about being offended, it's about a person saying they're being constructive when they're actually being destructive. It's about not just talking the talk, but walking the walk.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:22 PM on March 8, 2009


I'm really thrilled by their work as well.

Why do I have a hard time reading this as anything but sarcasm?
posted by languagehat at 2:47 PM on March 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Totally didn't interpret the question as wanting to troll. I thought they wanted to find a smart community where arguing is encouraged/expected and conflict isn't avoided. It's not anti-social or destructive to direct someone to those kinds of venues. There is some cognitive dissonance in calling such a place a "community", but that's a matter of personal interpretation. If you want to learn how to express yourself (genuinely and productively) in the face of dissent, it seems more than reasonable to look for ways to practice this in a controlled setting (i.e. somewhere you don't fear bodily or other serious harm). The question could have been written more clearly, obviously, but there's no need to assume the person is being malicious.
posted by unknowncommand at 2:54 PM on March 8, 2009


I ♥ New Amsterdam

Why? What's wrong with the old Amsterdam?


It's become much too much.
posted by Jofus at 2:58 PM on March 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


Oh yeah, and he said "meditation" not "mediation". There is no need to assum that's a typo. It is common for people in meditation practice to discover things that they are avoiding. This person is avoiding conflict, and it's causing them suffering, ergo they are trying to address that. (No, I did not post the question in dispute, but if anyone could help a sister out...?)
posted by unknowncommand at 3:02 PM on March 8, 2009


When metafilter argues with itself, at least it's grammatically correct, and for that I am thankful.
posted by hellojed at 3:06 PM on March 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


If you are looking for arguments you want room 12A. Just along the corridor.
posted by vagabond at 3:29 PM on March 8, 2009


But fact is that none of the admins memailed me or torn a strip off me in public would tend to indicate that they aren't nearly so offended as you.

I was having a nice weekend and didn't see the need to do anything in particular but since you asked.

None of us on Team Mod pretty much ever "tear a strip off of" anyone. The most we do is say "Hey could you please not do that sort of shit? Thanks" Or occasionally, rarely, we'll tell people that we think they're being jerkish, or give them a few days off to calm down. You dont really last long in Mod Town if people telling you that you're wrong make you angry.

That's antisocial behaviour on the part of the mods toward their own community

That said, this is wrong which is mostly why I didn't respond too much to it.

IMO, bad mods, no cookie. Building community needs to be priority one in our society, both weblife and real life.

I'm okay without the cookie. And honestly my priorities in the real life community and the online community sometimes conflict. I approved the question because at first glance it seemed answerable and sincere or rather not appallingly NOT either of these things. I was also on my way out the door to go see Bow Thayer play at the Tunbridge Town Hall with my fella which was a terrific show.

Want to talk anti-social? Don't call people names and acting all angryman about whatever hot sociopolitical topic is currently being debated. For all I know there really ARE places on the web set up for people to holler at each other with low risk of deletion and/or opprobium. I don't know about them because I don't like that sort of thing. Asking where you can go to do that sort of thing doesn't seem totally unreasonable to me.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:51 PM on March 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Antisocial? That's the accusation? Not illegal, just uncooperative? We have to promote healthy social lives now? That's in the charter? Uhhhh, bad liberal notions ahead.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 3:52 PM on March 8, 2009


Hmm, I go back and forth on this, though I realize it's how I am reading the OP's question, rather than any actual understanding of what they intended.

I read the contentious with this definition in mind: exhibiting an often perverse and wearisome tendency to quarrels and disputes. I read "laboratory in which to elicit a controlled conflict", as wanting to go to that community and specifically start a fight, any sort of fight, with another person who actually believes in what they are saying, just to learn how to 'stand the heat' . For example, I don't particularly care for the political perspective of townhall.com or National Review, but I'd feel sort of squeamish about sending a self described "atheist, liberal, pacifist and slightly authoritarian" person there just to drop in, say increasingly inflammatory things, and then step back. Because I think to they want to engage in serious debate over their beliefs at those sites, not get into a contentious pissing fight, no matter how intellectual or highbrow.

Which is why I was wondering earlier if there was such a site where people are all in on the game of consciously starting contentious, (read perverse), but well informed fights with each other.

Now that I think of it, I do have a friend like that. He's a human rights lawyer, and there is nothing he seems to enjoy more than fine wine and someone to disagree with him. I think for him it's about honing his skills, and frankly, he's brutal. But he doesn't necessarily engage in what I would describe as 'healthy' debate. He sort of takes fun in toying with individuals' arguments and beliefs like prey, going for the argumentative dialogue method until he's got you by the rhetorical jugular, and then beating your corpse a few times with a few more and-here's-another-reason-why-I'm-right verbal punches just for the heck of it. Personally, I'm just glad he uses his powers for good (the human rights bit), rather than evil.

Anyway, back to work.....
posted by anitanita at 4:14 PM on March 8, 2009


but doing the equivalent of "You antisocial shit, you're murdering communities, how could you be so fucking stupid?!" is not helpful, it is inherently and profoundly destructive.

On to the next step then....

*sprinkles Holy Water*

THE POWER OF CHRIST COMPELS YOU!!
THE POWER OF CHRIST COMPELS YOU!!
THE POWER OF CHRIST COMPELS YOU!!
posted by jonmc at 4:16 PM on March 8, 2009


That's not holy water jonmc, that's baby oil!
posted by hellojed at 4:18 PM on March 8, 2009


*looks at bottle*

actually it's EVOO. Damn Rachel Ray.
posted by jonmc at 4:22 PM on March 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'll wipe the EVOO (?) off and apologise to the admins, then. Sorry, cortex, jessamyn, mathowie, and whomever else.

I was appalled that you'd help someone go find communities in which to stir up the shit, and I'm really appalled at how the media heads are stirring up shit with the public when now's really the time to buckle down and help one another, and it all conflated into a big hissy fit. It seems to me that if humanity is going to pull itself out of the mess we've made, it's going to take some thinking about how to live our lives in ways that help others.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:36 PM on March 8, 2009


Antisocial? That's the accusation? Not illegal...

We' naw, wot's oll this then?
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 5:05 PM on March 8, 2009


I used to like arguing before the internet came along. Damn you, internet!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:18 PM on March 8, 2009


Dude, you're not going to save the world here.

I guess. I like to think that the most talkative members of Mefi are people who typically have been unafraid to socialize with people who live alternative lifestyles, who have been unfraid to express their views to strangers, who are unafraid to have people challenge their viewpoints and thinking. I like to think that people like us can engage the attention and thinking of tens and hundreds of thousands of people. I like to think that we can help our world see itself clear to doing the things that will make it possible for us to all get along without destroying ourselves.

My web world is a dream world, I guess. We're not gonna save the world.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:34 PM on March 8, 2009


Paste tastes good.
posted by flabdablet's sock puppet at 5:41 PM on March 8, 2009


*gets pasted*
posted by jonmc at 5:48 PM on March 8, 2009


I like to think that we can help our world see itself clear to doing the things that will make it possible for us to all get along without destroying ourselves.

ah fff, I hear you totally. I think the problem is, as with anyone who occupies a somewhat minority position in anything, being the person who speaks up in favor of niche things [or admits being a fan/user/whatever of such things] sometimes makes you a target for all complaints about said thing.

So, as an example. There aren't a lot of vegans on MeFi but there are a few. Sometimes people say stuff that is sort of nasty and intolerant of people who make a lifestyle choice to be vegan. If you were a vegan, say, and you were on this site, and your response to those people was "go get fucked you anti-vegan fucker! Go die of a heart attack!" then people here, rightly or wrongly [and I'm inclined to say wrongly, but that's my angle] will often walk away shaking their heads saying "man vegans are righteous and touchy, must be they don't get enough protein..." and haven't really had their mind changed by anything that you might have said otherwise. It's easy to say "oh hey those people that aren't like me don't have anything to offer me"

So, to make it personal for a second. Sometimes I see you in MeFi threads being pretty aggro about things the USA does, either politically or socially (just as an example I can think of off the top of my head). I think there are many people on the site, perhaps most, who would agree with your general feelings that Bush and Co did some shitty stuff and that people from the US will have to sort of "own that" as part of the USA's legacy. That's fine. Where it gets less fine is where you (fff) get angry, finger-pointy and huffy about it so that people feel that your anger that is rightfully directed towards the government then goes towards anyone on MeFi who says anything besides "yeah fuck those guys with a poleaxe!" Not voting for Bushco wasn't enough, you seem angry at anyone who doesn't denounce the guy before every politicalfilter comment. Some days, that is.

So, people walk away saying "man, Canadians are touchy people, must be that weird bacon they eat" and don't engage in a discussion of just what it might be like to have a government that's not, say full of war criminals (again, my opinion) or full of cults of personality.

So, yeah, its a tough burden trying to change the world, or even change your nieghbors' minds, but I'm of the opinion, and I'm sure there are lots of people here who disagree with me, that if you want to live a life that's somewhat different form the mainstream and one that you advocate, it's helpful though not strictly necessary if in your own word and action you make that choice seem appealing. I don't think you have to do this out of fear, but out of some sort of agitprop notion that it might be effective.

or in the words of Ann Magnuson "besides it's a lot easier to accept Jesus Christ as your personal savior when he looks like Willem Dafoe."
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:50 PM on March 8, 2009 [9 favorites]


Back bacon is not weird.
posted by gman at 5:56 PM on March 8, 2009


Then why are you so touchy?
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:03 PM on March 8, 2009


It's all we got.
posted by gman at 6:11 PM on March 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


I like to think that the most talkative members of Mefi are people who typically have been unafraid to socialize with people who live alternative lifestyles, who have been unfraid to express their views to strangers, who are unafraid to have people challenge their viewpoints and thinking.

What does this have to with your insulting the mods and other members?

My web world is a dream world, I guess. We're not gonna save the world.

Well no, burning the village won't save it.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:14 PM on March 8, 2009


Back bacon isn't bacon.

I think I tend to denounce the support of lying sacks of shit, corrupt bastards, and power-hungry theocrats. And talk show hosts that use their powers for evil instead of good. And the masses of morons who believe such obvious lies and engage in self-harming politics.

In our politics and in our society, we have what we deserve. When we don't care enough to demand better, this sad state of shitty affairs is what we get.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:25 PM on March 8, 2009


And the masses of morons who believe such obvious lies and engage in self-harming politics.

Sure, but it's hard to have a reasonable discussion with someone you've just called a moron. No?
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:33 PM on March 8, 2009


five fresh fish, I find your expressed intent inspiring. However, the execution of this maneuver of yours is just flawed, myopic. Wanting to get into arguments is not antisocial. Debate clubs are not antisocial, because they are defined spaces where structured argument are sanctioned. Who defines the social mores of online communities? Not you. You, like any of us, are by default, not a lawmaker, but an opinionated participant. Within that context, you have a certain potential. I think if you really value the ideal of a peaceful, cooperative community life with critical thought and escalating discourse, listen more, judge less. Model, don't complain. Live and let live, right?

Because seriously, if we're so open minded to alternatives, the last thing we need is people making accusations about what's antisocial.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 6:55 PM on March 8, 2009


What the fuck are you talking about?
posted by gman at 7:10 PM on March 8, 2009


it's hard to have a reasonable discussion with someone you've just called a moron. No?

I don't think we have many morons around here.

Because seriously, if we're so open minded to alternatives, the last thing we need is people making accusations about what's antisocial.

This is same thinking as Fox being "fair and balanced" because they give equal time to flat-earthers, or the science/economics/social welfare/etc equivalent of same.

Being tolerant does not require being tolerant of the non-tolerant. Promoting the social good does not require supporting the antisocial.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:40 PM on March 8, 2009


Promoting the social good could be achieved by people sending me the cookies previously assigned to the mods.

Once I am filled with cookie deliciousness, the sum total of human happiness in my immediate vicinity will be raised significantly.
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:53 PM on March 8, 2009


No, social relativism isn't the same thing as fascistic disinformation, and such a comparison is unnecessarily incendiary in a way that leads me to question the means by which you'd achieve this "social good," if aggressive misreadings are your response to a request to listen more closely. What you're suggesting as an alternative is nothing more to me than evangelism of your philosophical viewpoint, which is more authoritarian in the determination of social goals than mine. I reject your reality and substitute my own.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 8:03 PM on March 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


I ♥ commenting in long MetaTalk threads without reading anyone else's comments.
posted by not_on_display at 8:12 PM on March 8, 2009


wao, u guyz use big wordz
posted by carsonb at 8:39 PM on March 8, 2009


[morons reprezent]
posted by carsonb at 8:40 PM on March 8, 2009


Listen more closely to whom? To everyone, including those who promote medical hogwash, or wars of agression, or untenable loans? To those that are trying to discourage progressive taxation? To those that want social equality?

Surely it is our collective responsibility to call out that which will harm our society. And surely it is with compassion and reason that we will develop an equitable, long-term sustainable, free society.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:43 PM on March 8, 2009


all i wanted were some cookies :(
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:42 PM on March 8, 2009


So, people walk away saying "man, Canadians are touchy people, must be that weird bacon they eat" and don't engage in a discussion of just what it might be like to have a government that's not, say full of war criminals (again, my opinion) or full of cults of personality.

In Canada, back bacon is made from war criminals.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:23 PM on March 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


Mighty fine writing there AV.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:50 AM on March 9, 2009


Why do I have a hard time reading this as anything but sarcasm?

It's because you're a CRANKY OLD MAN.

/me runs off languagehat's lawn.
posted by rodgerd at 1:51 AM on March 9, 2009


We're not gonna save the world.
No, but we can do our best to make our little corner a nicer place to be. If we could convince everyone else to do that, the world would be saved and, if you were the first to do that, maybe you could rightfully claim to having saved the world.

If that doesn't get you laid, I'm afraid you're a lost cause, my friend.
posted by dg at 1:55 AM on March 9, 2009


Surely it is our collective responsibility to call out that which will harm our society. And surely it is with compassion and reason that we will develop an equitable, long-term sustainable, free society.

Yes, yes it is. And it's also our responsibility to make those callouts in a way in which our words get heard and understood, not to be seen as more of the shrill hyperbole and posturing which we are used to getting from "the opposition" whoever they might be.

As an example, I was looking at Pope Guilty's comments this morning. Do you think he's convincing anyone, or just venting? Do you want to buy what he is selling? Does he seem deeply principled or deeply disturbed? Do you read his words and think "that's someone who really feels strongly about his position" or "that's someone who lacks the ability to get along with other people"?

And, I agree with his position. However, I'm embarassed by his approach. So, it's a bind.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:25 AM on March 9, 2009 [2 favorites]


I don't think we have many morons around here.

With respect, that's not how you come off. I think of you in general as an angry, bitter person who likes nothing better than insulting other MeFites. I'm not saying you are like that, and obviously you don't see yourself that way, but you might want to consider why it is that you come off that way (and there's no point your snapping back "To you!"—you know perfectly well it's not just me).
posted by languagehat at 11:24 AM on March 9, 2009


Hi, dg!
posted by dios at 11:27 AM on March 9, 2009


Hi dios!

It's interesting (to me, anyway), the different ways people here are perceived. I (almost) always find fff to be pretty much spot-on in his comments, if a little too cynical about human nature even for me. Sure, he tends to be hard on the US and its ways, but who isn't these days? There's a lot there to hate and I don't generally see his comments as being aimed as Americans in a personal way, but at America the country. It's also quite likely that I'm seeing his comments through the eyes of one who is quite pissed off at the havoc the US has wrought throughout the world in the past few decades. Sure, the US has provided much-needed relief to many parts of the world as well, but it's pretty much human nature to see the damage and not be able to see the good.
posted by dg at 1:14 PM on March 9, 2009


Sure, he tends to be hard on the US and its ways, but who isn't these days? There's a lot there to hate.... It's also quite likely that I'm seeing his comments through the eyes of one who is quite pissed off at the havoc the US has wrought throughout the world in the past few decades.

Uh, yeah, sure thing, chief. And how would you like it if we all ragged endlessly on you for every sin Australia has committed against Aborigines, Asians, the environment, etc.? "Your country is bad and you are a bad person for living in it!" That gets old fast, and it's stupid besides. Let's try to rise above that level of stupidity around here.

I don't generally see his comments as being aimed as Americans in a personal way, but at America the country.


Gee, that couldn't be because you're not American, could it? Naw, surely not.
posted by languagehat at 5:18 PM on March 9, 2009


fff: In our politics and in our society, we have what we deserve. When we don't care enough to demand better, this sad state of shitty affairs is what we get.

This struck me as a little off. For one, speaking as yet another progressive Canadian, I would like to think that what our country currently has is emphatically not what it deserves: we don't deserve a government that can't handle access to information requests, that is destroying our nature to drill for oil (not just Alberta, but back home in NL as well), and on and on. Oh god and on.

But even more importantly, in many ways the left-wing school of thought is that people do not always get what they deserve. Health issues, both mental & physical, aren't the fault of those who are sick - and we'll treat them even if it sort of is. We don't often blame people for being un(der)employed, but work on retraining them. We institute affirmative action programs because minorities don't deserve the fact that they have statistically poorer access to education & opportunities. We tax the rich heavily because we understand that a decent portion of their wealth comes from the opportunities we've created, and we recognize an opportunity for them to give back to their fellow citizen.

Some people deserve what they have, few people have what they deserve. I tend to think of civilization as giving us brutal, petty, short-sighted humans a lot more than we deserve.
posted by Lemurrhea at 6:58 PM on March 9, 2009


An aside,

dg: I don't generally see his comments as being aimed as Americans in a personal way, but at America the country.

languagehat: Gee, that couldn't be because you're not American, could it? Naw, surely not.

Languagehat, I agree with your statement above that, that every country has its problems and so on. But I think in the section I quoted you're cherry-picking, or at least interpreting uncharitably. Take a bit more of the quote:

dg: There's a lot there to hate and I don't generally see his comments as being aimed as Americans in a personal way, but at America the country. It's also quite likely that I'm seeing his comments through the eyes of one who is quite pissed off at the havoc the US has wrought throughout the world in the past few decades.

I read the bolded half of his statement there as an acknowledgment that it is because he's not an American. Which makes your snarky point-out of it either useless or just mean-spirited.
posted by Lemurrhea at 7:03 PM on March 9, 2009


I am undoubtedly far too cynical about human nature. On the other hand, that cynicism has yet to fail me when it comes to matter political or economic.

"Your country is bad and you are a bad person for living in it!"

I doubt any MeFi user has ever said that about any country.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:07 PM on March 9, 2009


how would you like it if we all ragged endlessly on you for every sin Australia has committed against Aborigines, Asians, the environment, etc.?
Rag all you like - not only would you be right, I could probably add a few that you haven't even thought of. But perhaps that's just because I'm not an Australian ...

Gee, that couldn't be because you're not American, could it?
Yes, it quite likely is because of that. My apologies for not stating that more clearly.

I have certainly never said any person is bad because of the country they live in and never would. While Americans as a people have to take responsibility for what their country does (as do the citizens of every country), that doesn't make any one person bad or at fault. It doesn't even mean that any one of those citizens is a bad person - a group of good, well-meaning people can make bad decisions such as, perhaps, voting a war-mongering incompetent buffoon as President for a second term. Still, I don't blame you for that, or any other person for that or think any less of you because you are a member of the group of people who made that decision (I'm assuming you have the right to vote in US elections here, of course).
posted by dg at 8:35 PM on March 9, 2009


Languagehat, I agree with your statement above that, that every country has its problems and so on. But I think in the section I quoted you're cherry-picking, or at least interpreting uncharitably. Take a bit more of the quote

You mean the part that I myself quoted? You might want to read before responding.

While Americans as a people have to take responsibility for what their country does (as do the citizens of every country)

I disagree with that in the strongest possible terms. I have zero influence on the actions of my government, and the same is true of the vast majority of people in the world. The equation of "citizens" (= people with the misfortune to be born into a world where you're involunarily assigned to one or another overbearing authoritarian entity) with "their" governments is one of the worst habits of modern thought.

I don't blame you for that, or any other person for that or think any less of you because you are a member of the group of people who made that decision (I'm assuming you have the right to vote in US elections here, of course).


I have that right, meaningless as it is, but I haven't exercised it in decades because I'm an anarchist. But thank you for not blaming me.
posted by languagehat at 2:20 PM on March 10, 2009


I have zero influence on the actions of my government ...
But you do have influence over the selection of that government in the first place - by voting. By selecting the most appropriate authoritarian entity, you have a say in deciding which set of likely actions will result.

As flawed as it may be, that's the system in place and, while you can hold your hands up and say "don't blame me, I didn't vote for them", you lose some of the right to bitch about their actions by choosing not to vote for the "least bad" option. Not all, but some. I understand that it's purely a personal viewpoint and quite likely fatally flawed and/or a purely emotional response, but I don't have much time for people who bitch about their government but refuse to vote. In our society/s, the only way you can influence the actions of the government is by voting, unless you have the time and/or resources to exert influence by lobbying tactics. By refusing to vote, you choose not to influence these actions.
posted by dg at 2:57 PM on March 10, 2009


Note: I don't mean to say that you are saying "don't blame me ...", because you clearly didn't say that.
posted by dg at 2:58 PM on March 10, 2009


i sense a derail coming on
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:32 PM on March 10, 2009


and just when things were going so well, too, yes
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:57 PM on March 10, 2009


But you do have influence over the selection of that government in the first place - by voting. By selecting the most appropriate authoritarian entity, you have a say in deciding which set of likely actions will result.

Not really. The most we usually get to do is vote for one of the two or three candidates left by the time our state has its primaries, then one or the other of the two at the end. That's almost never the one I wanted at the start of the process.


How's that, Ubi?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:00 PM on March 10, 2009


But you do have influence over the selection of that government in the first place - by voting.

And by writing letters to your representatives. We (Canadians) killed a DMCA attempt up here by not sitting on our goddamn asses.

Hell, I didn't even write a physical letter: I sent email and signed a couple of petitions, got a response from the Minister of whateveritis, and next thing you know, a whole bunch of us have gotten what we wanted.

Every day we read shock-and-horror stories on MeFi, and every day 99.9% of our readers do nothing to influence the people in power who are enabling the slow erosion of our freedoms, rights, and privileges. Oh, man, do we as a community know how to whine and complain — but to actually do? Why, no, that's for someone else.

That cynicism of mine? I think it's well-founded.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:44 PM on March 10, 2009


Oh, man, do we as a community know how to whine and complain — but to actually do? Why, no, that's for someone else.

Since you're not speaking for yourself, I feel like I should mention you're also not speaking for me. 99.9% of members, let's say. At current levels that's saying that maybe thirty-five that are doing anything. I think that's low. Maybe you really mean readers and not members in which case maybe. But I personally know at least four MeFites that went to town meeting on Tuesday which is doing a bit more than nothing. I think they all voted too, extra non-nothing.

I have nothing against people being cynical in a general sense, but presuming to know how MetaFilter-Americans are being politically and socially engaged in their lives because we have DCMA or because George Bush was president is a better tactic for getting in an argument than for having a rational discussion about anything but your attitude.

This is that thing you do, by the way.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:57 PM on March 10, 2009


The most we usually get to do is vote for one of the two or three candidates left by the time our state has its primaries, then one or the other of the two at the end. That's almost never the one I wanted at the start of the process.
Yeah, my limited understanding of the US system leads me to believe that it's not ideal in democratic terms (but what system is - democratic or otherwise). My point still stands though - you do have some input into the system and, as fff rightly points out, you can have input into the system even after the best-of-a-bad-bunch have been elected, by harassing writing to them and expressing your concern/frustration/outrage. Mostly, though we (including myself) can't be bothered. If we can't be bothered, what right do we have to complain when decisions are made that don't suit us?

I'm actually not all that cynical about human beings as a group, because I see communities doing great things but I am incredibly so about individuals. In short, people are no damned good.
posted by dg at 6:00 PM on March 10, 2009


I am confident that well over 90% of our readership has never written their representatives. Hell, half of them don't even vote.

You know my 99.9% figure was pulled straight from my ass, Jessamyn. You seem to want me to couch my statement with a bunch of qualifiers, as if being more wordy would make a whit of difference to the core truth of the matter.

I'm curious as to how you'd rewrite my contentious paragraph. Do you have more accurate numbers? Can you qualify adequately and still keep it short? Will your rewrite maintain the sense of frustration I feel by people consistently failing to act to change things for the better?

I suppose ultimately the only important thing is whether it gets someone to get off the couch next time they're upset about what their representative is doing.

I see how using 'readership' and then a sentence later using 'our community' would lead to confusion. I did mean readership.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:28 PM on March 10, 2009


I'm curious as to how you'd rewrite my contentious paragraph.

"Every day we read shock-and-horror stories on MeFi, and every day I feel like most of our readers do nothing to influence the people in power who are enabling the slow erosion of our freedoms, rights, and privileges. We as a community know how to whine and complain but are less good at follow-through."

No sarcasm, no assertions of truth via made up stats, no bloviating italics or bold text. I get it, you feel bad that people like to complain more than they like to actually work (harder) to change the thing that they're complaining about. And maybe you're motivated by indignation in which case maybe this sort of approach works for you. Indignant sarcastic people who make overly broad sweeping statements in what I can only read as a Homer Simpson voice make me personally feel like you'd rather be angry and feel that people are doing nothing than admit that even the most principled best motivated hardest working people (and I'm not counting myself among them, but we have some seriously politically active people on MeFi) sometimes fail.

And if they fail and you still blame them and are jerkish to them because the results aren't what you (and they) wanted, then I think that sucks and it's tantamount to yelling LOSER at them which isn't really how we (should) do things here. Most of us are trying and things don't always go our way. People get motivated in a lot of different ways but I'm no more motivated to get rid of George Bush and fix what got fucked at Abu Ghraib because someone I don't know on the internet thinks I'm personally damnable for shitty things my country does. Responsible at some level, sure. Accountable in the grand scheme of things, definitely. But I didn't sit on my ass at all and we got DCMA anyhow, so if you could bitch at "Americans -- besides jessamyn and Miko and and many other people who have been busting ass to make this place suck less -- have been sitting on their asses" I'd appreciate it.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:59 PM on March 10, 2009 [3 favorites]


Oh, man, do we as a community know how to whine and complain — but to actually do? Why, no, that's for someone else.

If I couldn't rattle off dozen -- at LEAST -- counterexamples, this wouldn't sound so much like hot air. I know you're revising what you've said to include the broader swath of the passersby, not only those of us who do things like pony up $5... but WRT mefites, maybe you just don't fucking know what you're talking about. I see you're not exactly Mr. met contact. I mean, the mefite I know who's handing our syringes to junkies at this actual moment? I didn't know that was their thing from reading mefi. So, if you want to be vaguely derogatory to the readership, don't forget that your discussion is taking place with a certain subset of that group, and we might get a bit discouraged in our work by your cold pricklies. Want people to get involved, to feel like they have the emotional capital to spend? Be nice to them.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 8:59 PM on March 10, 2009


Thanks, jessamyn. I'm gonna go meditate on that.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:18 PM on March 10, 2009


I mean, the mefite I know who's handing our syringes to junkies at this actual moment?

I sure hope you're cleaning your syringes carefully before giving them to junkies.
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:42 PM on March 10, 2009


Oh no, not our syringes! Our matched syringes from my mother? Why, I thought those were special! Don't you remember all the times we shot up together, and laughed, and laughed? Why, to think of some junkie using our syringes makes me just about want to turn to drink!
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 10:31 PM on March 10, 2009 [1 favorite]


Junkies, you really don't want those syringes. You're not that desperate.
posted by Artw at 10:49 PM on March 10, 2009


We (Canadians) killed a DMCA attempt up here by not sitting on our goddamn asses.

I did. Thanks for doing the unheavy lifting, suckas!
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:15 PM on March 10, 2009


Just as a data point, even though I'm an anarchist and don't vote, I have written to my representatives, because it doesn't violate my principles and might do some good.

you lose some of the right to bitch about their actions by choosing not to vote for the "least bad" option.

I disagree with this in the strongest terms. Everybody has the right to say whatever they want.
posted by languagehat at 10:40 AM on March 11, 2009


Just as a data point... I'm an anarchist and did vote just so that people would leave me alone about it, even though it does somewhat violate my principles.

However we govern locally through town meeting which I attended and voted at (and which I think is defensible voting) and I'm pretty politically active in other ways (letter writing, direct action activities, mutual aid, all the good stuff) so I don't think the fact that I voted is anywhere near the top of the list of many reasons why I feel that I have a "right" to complain.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:52 PM on March 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


I was way, way, way too nervous to ask this question anywhere near the election, but I suppose now I'm ready:

Isn't voting in a presidential election, (and ONLY the presidential election, for the sake of this argument) quite literally the least effective thing you can do other than nothing? Not in a rhetorical way. It seems like literally any other action you take that could potentially help a campaign/candidate has the potential to influence more than one person, and changing two people's minds is literally twice as effective as simply voting yourself.

I only ask as the converse of the discussed notion. Just because you don't vote doesn't mean you don't have the right to complain. You could have done any number of things more effective than voting. On the flipside, just because you *did* vote doesn't mean you have the right *to* complain, because it seems like, literally, the least you can do.
posted by SpiffyRob at 1:38 PM on March 11, 2009


I don't believe that you entirely give up the right to complain just by not voting and I don't think I said that. I know a lot of people do think that way, but I disagree with them. Perhaps not as violently as languagehat, but quite strongly nevertheless.

The right to free speech is one of the most important, although, in Australia this right is culturally ingrained rather than explicitly granted and can therefore be taken away at any time. But. I think that, if you are going to bitch about the government and/or its decisions or policies, you have to be prepared to answer the question "what are you doing or what have you done about this"? Voting is something you can do that takes little effort. If you haven't voted and don't take any other action to influence policy, then I think you have less right to complain than if you vote, because we all have a responsibility to make our voice heard and to influence policy in whatever tiny way we can. That's an opinion only, of course and I'm aware that my political naivety makes my opinion less valid than many who have a greater understanding of these things. Also, I don't do anything apart from vote to influence those in power (except for working in government and doing my best to make just and fair decisions myself and to influence policy from within to be more human wherever I can), so who am I to point fingers at people who take other actions which are likely more effective?
posted by dg at 1:51 PM on March 11, 2009


I have never understood why people insist on treating hyperbole as if it were meant to be truthful. When dg says you lose your right to bitch about things if you don't vote, isn't it dead obvious that he's not really saying that your tongue has been ripped out, but that without having participated in the electoral process you shouldn't expect people to listen to your complaints?

Why make dg write 263 extra words to explain something so obvious?
posted by five fresh fish at 5:32 PM on March 11, 2009


At least vote on this.
posted by gman at 5:57 PM on March 11, 2009


One of the problems with hyperbole is that when you deploy it, it's not entirely clear what the precise gap is between what you've actually said and what you expected people to gather. You're actually hiding information for the sake of style points, which is a stupid thing to do if your primary aim is to communicate clearly—the only thing you've established clearly is that you'd rather overstate your case than just state it.

Which is fine if that's what's important to you. God knows I've done it plenty of times myself. But (and here's a familiar form) when you go for the overwrought or the hyperbolic instead of just stating your opinion clearly, you shouldn't expect people to listen to you as if you were making a good faith effort to communicate your position in a clear manner.

There's give and take, here: rhetorical flair doesn't come without a cost, and demanding that your interlocutors be psychic isn't a workable defense of hyperbolic argumentation. Say what you mean the first time or expect to be asked to explain yourself.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:10 PM on March 11, 2009 [5 favorites]


Every day we read shock-and-horror stories on MeFi, and every day 99.9% of our readers do nothing to influence the people in power who are enabling the slow erosion of our freedoms, rights, and privileges. Oh, man, do we as a community know how to whine and complain — but to actually do? Why, no, that's for someone else.
versus
"Every day we read shock-and-horror stories on MeFi, and every day I feel like most of our readers do nothing to influence the people in power who are enabling the slow erosion of our freedoms, rights, and privileges. We as a community know how to whine and complain but are less good at follow-through."

So I've given some thought now. I think my version is obviously hyperbolic and conveys the frustration I feel with the way our society is screwing itself. I think the second version is significantly weaker for having used "feel", in that it turns a truth into opinion¹.

Out of the context of this thread, I think neither of them would/should upset anyone. On the other hand, I've seen two examples today where people were presented what was obviously hyperbole, and interpreted it as if it weren't hyperbole. It surprises me that people are doing that, and I don't understand what they hope to achieve by doing so, but it seems to be the way things are.

In the end, I'm not sure which version would be more influential in getting people to change their thinking or their behaviours. And maybe I'm tilting at windmills when I think MeFi can be used to shape social change.

Pass the beans, please. Two sentences written two different ways wasn't the meal I'd hoped it would be.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:24 PM on March 11, 2009


Actually, I think the issue is less one of hyperbole (which I tried to avoid for the reasons cortex outlines) and more one of my lack of communication skills. fff pretty much nails what I was trying to say - bitch all you want (as is your right in the US, although not everywhere) but, if you opt out of doing what you can, no matter how small, you have less right to expect people to listen or care what you think than if you have at least done the minimum amount of work to contribute.

I don't know how to explain myself more clearly than that so, if you still don't grok what I mean, either:
1. I'm an idiot who can't write to save himself
2. You don't understand English
3. Some other shitty excuse.

You can all choose for yourself which applies.
posted by dg at 9:16 PM on March 11, 2009


I don't know - is the world at the bottom of a MetaTalk thread really worth saving anyway?
posted by dg at 11:18 PM on March 11, 2009


Why do people try to save the world at the bottom of a Metatalk thread?

As mortal humans all we can do is play at the margins. The heat death of the universe is inevitable
posted by Meatbomb at 1:17 AM on March 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


I have never understood why people insist on treating hyperbole as if it were meant to be truthful.

I was not disagreeing with the hyperbole, I was disagreeing with the thought it was exaggerating. The idea that one loses any portion of one's right to disagree because of anything one does or does not do is pernicious, and anyone who would not "listen or care what you think" because you didn't take some pointless action like voting is a moron.
posted by languagehat at 10:46 AM on March 12, 2009


languagehat is my homeboy.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:09 AM on March 12, 2009


"If you don't vote, don't bitch."

"If you have a complex relationship with something that results in a non-traditional decision, as determined from my perspective, don't command my attention with commentary about it which I can't contextualize or synthesize without demonstrating empathy or experiencing intellectual growth."

"Go 'way. 'Batin'."
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 11:19 AM on March 12, 2009


One of the problems with hyperbole is that when you deploy it, it's not entirely clear what the precise gap is between what you've actually said and what you expected people to gather. You're actually hiding information for the sake of style points

Yeah, because hyperbole is like the one single part of language that isn't rigorously mathematically precise in its transparency & non-ambiguity of meaning for the listener.
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:50 PM on March 12, 2009


Yeah, because hyperbole is like the one single part of language that isn't rigorously mathematically precise in its transparency & non-ambiguity of meaning for the listener.

No, there are other aspects of language like that. Sarcasm is a good example.
posted by grouse at 2:15 PM on March 12, 2009


Yeah, totally, my favorite part about hyperbole is how because it's not the only potential source of ambiguity in language it totally doesn't ever matter that it's a potential source of ambiguity.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:18 PM on March 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


i still think the site should switch - en masse - to german in order to avoid these issues.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:49 PM on March 12, 2009


NEIN SIE
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:52 PM on March 12, 2009


languagehat: anyone who would not "listen or care what you think" because you didn't take some pointless action like voting is a moron.

jessamyn: languagehat is my homeboy.


I give up trying to explain what I mean. I'll just go sit with the other morons and shut the fuck up.
posted by dg at 2:53 PM on March 12, 2009


dg, I'm pretty sure they understand what you mean, they just disagree.
posted by grouse at 3:02 PM on March 12, 2009


Yeah I didn't mean "oh hey dg is a moron and I'm in languagehat's corner on that score!" I don't even think he called you a moron, really. I think I've been fairly clear that I think the snarkier aspects of languagehat can sometimes detract from his more appealing characteristics. However the perniciousness of the idea that voting is

1. an action you can do and not do anything else and still feel like you "did something" and
2. a necessary action you have to engage in in order for many people (and I don't mean you dg, but I get into arguments with people who believe this not as hyperbole but as fact) to think it's okay for you to have political opinions generally.

Is, I think, harmful both to our ideas of free speech and out reasonable expectations of how engaged we expect Americans to be in their political processes.

I understand why it's important for people to have their say in the processes that govern them. I understand why people want to feel that voting is important, possibly very important, to that end. I think voting is a very very small part of being politically engaged and one that gets overemphasized because Americans can be so apathetic and because it's so easily quantifiable that it makes great "news"

Anyhow, I'm not slagging on you dg, just disagreeing.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:47 PM on March 12, 2009


See? If jessamyn had written "Sprachhut ist mein Hausjunge" this would not have occurred, because it would have been clear that he's a boy who lives or works in her primary domicile, eg as some kind of indentured servant.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:08 PM on March 12, 2009


Well, I think he did call me a moron and that stings all the more because I have a great deal of respect for him. However, I know that he is far more capable of precisely communicating his thoughts and opinions than most, so perhaps I take what he writes more literally than I might others.
posted by dg at 6:39 PM on March 12, 2009


I quite sure that he meant 'moron' figuratively.
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:58 PM on March 12, 2009


Being a moron is where I'm a viking!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:15 PM on March 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Some things give me hope.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:16 PM on March 12, 2009


Maybe he was aiming for irony, dg.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:17 PM on March 12, 2009


fff, before you get your hopes up, how much did the CEO give up personally, as a % of his income?

I see your cynical and raise you a healthy dose of suspicion.
posted by dg at 5:23 AM on March 13, 2009


I don't even think he called you a moron, really

No, I didn't; I wasn't talking about you but about the straw people you created here:

you have less right to expect people to listen or care what you think than if you have at least done the minimum amount of work to contribute.

I think those straw people who won't "listen or care what you think," to the extent they exist, are morons. If you are not one of those people (and you're pretty clearly not), you are not included in the ambit of my anarchist wrath. I respect you, too; we just disagree on this, and jessamyn (as always) says it more nicer than I do.
posted by languagehat at 6:47 AM on March 13, 2009


more nicer? was that tongue in cheek, or is that part of ameringlish?
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:52 AM on March 13, 2009


lhat, you're just saying that because you're her yurtchap.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:53 AM on March 13, 2009


JESUS IS MY TEEPEEFELLOW.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:54 AM on March 13, 2009


izba droog, if you will.
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:58 AM on March 13, 2009


Cottagebro.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:03 AM on March 13, 2009


humpy mate.
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:07 AM on March 13, 2009


Palacepal.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:10 AM on March 13, 2009


家男孩
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:21 AM on March 13, 2009


more nicer? was that tongue in cheek, or is that part of ameringlish?

Tongue in cheek, but doubling up on comparative markers is an occasional feature of nonstandard English; I'd actually be curious to know if someone's done a study of it, but I'm too lazy to find out.

Also: padbud.
posted by languagehat at 7:28 AM on March 13, 2009


habib, it reminded me of my childhood yugoslavian neighbours (sorry, no idea which flavour of yugo they were; they resisted all questions with a "what matter, people are people, we are all aussies now anyway") - they were big on their double negatives & double comparatives.

from a recent article that might be of interest to you: Greek-Australian English (Grenglish): has such things as [...] double comparatives such as "more better".
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:37 AM on March 13, 2009


Squatsqueeze.
posted by flabdablet's sock puppet at 8:19 AM on March 13, 2009


Cribchum
posted by Kirth Gerson at 11:30 AM on March 13, 2009


Bungalowbosombuddy
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:44 AM on March 13, 2009


Loftlove
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:44 PM on March 13, 2009


Estatemate
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:48 PM on March 13, 2009


hut slut.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:16 PM on March 13, 2009


Babayagababymama
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:25 PM on March 13, 2009


hovelhoney
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:26 PM on March 13, 2009


igloo warmer.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:28 PM on March 13, 2009


RV SO
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:30 PM on March 13, 2009


condominium condom-on-'im.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:30 PM on March 13, 2009


Apartment togetherness
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:34 PM on March 13, 2009


Flatflame
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:35 PM on March 13, 2009


Walkup hookup
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:35 PM on March 13, 2009


toilet trader
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:37 PM on March 13, 2009


Chateauchap
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:39 PM on March 13, 2009


Tenement tickle
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:41 PM on March 13, 2009


room mate
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:41 PM on March 13, 2009


Shackshackup
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:44 PM on March 13, 2009


satellite love
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:47 PM on March 13, 2009


Lean-to lipper
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:47 PM on March 13, 2009


Don't ask, don't dwell
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:48 PM on March 13, 2009


bedsit fellow
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:48 PM on March 13, 2009


Outhouse in-law
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:49 PM on March 13, 2009


Garagegrab
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:51 PM on March 13, 2009


Hutonghug
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:52 PM on March 13, 2009


Hostelhotstuff
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:53 PM on March 13, 2009


Hoochcooch
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:53 PM on March 13, 2009


cabana boy
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:53 PM on March 13, 2009


Trailernailer
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:54 PM on March 13, 2009


Wikiuppickup
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:55 PM on March 13, 2009


Bivybevy
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:56 PM on March 13, 2009


floor amour

running out if ideas, here
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:01 PM on March 13, 2009


ute root

requires aussie vernacular. dang, i need to explain this one: a root ute is synonymous with a fuck truck, ie a vehicle set up with a bedding area out back. ute comes from "utility vehicle" which nobody uses, and is what americans call a pickup truck.

truck pickup!
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:05 PM on March 13, 2009


Sugarhouse sweetie
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:07 PM on March 13, 2009


Smokehouse smoker
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:08 PM on March 13, 2009


crackhouse whore
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:08 PM on March 13, 2009


Springhouse fling
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:09 PM on March 13, 2009


Stable Mabel
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:09 PM on March 13, 2009


hamam madam
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:13 PM on March 13, 2009


Thanks for the clarification, languagehat.

Also: Shed Slapper

(for this to make sense you have to know that I live in a shed)
posted by dg at 9:17 PM on March 13, 2009


Cave fave
posted by flabdablet's sock puppet at 4:21 PM on March 15, 2009


dorm warmer
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 4:57 PM on March 15, 2009


galley slave
what?

posted by not_on_display at 7:05 PM on March 15, 2009


shackup
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:12 PM on March 15, 2009


cubbycuddle
posted by flabdablet's sock puppet at 7:12 AM on March 19, 2009


abodebud
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:41 AM on March 19, 2009


These new Busy Town characters are confusing me!
posted by Artw at 10:08 AM on March 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Penthouse partner
posted by Kirth Gerson at 10:13 AM on March 19, 2009


Houseboat's mate
posted by Kirth Gerson at 10:14 AM on March 19, 2009


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