Cliques in MeFi February 7, 2002 6:47 PM   Subscribe

I've been reading everyone's MeTa post's about "What's wrong with MeFi," and thinking on it had for awhile. I've decided that it's not right vs. left, old-timer vs. newbie, or even dumb wacky-news items or pancakes.
Basically, as the community has grown larger, everyone's broken off into little cliques. Now there's nothing intrinsically wrong with that, birds of a feather and all; however, back in high school I used to love introducing mebers of the various cliques to eachother and(somtimes) watching the cultural exchange(for lack of a better term) that happened when they realized the other clique was cool, too. Unfortunately, most of the time the cliques just snarked at eachother.
In my early days at MeFi, the various subgroups resisted this temptation, but not lately. Hopefully we can turn back the clock.
posted by jonmc to MetaFilter-Related at 6:47 PM (62 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

Care to label some of these cliques? Just to get a better idea of what you're talking about.
posted by MUD at 6:54 PM on February 7, 2002

I don't think it is cliques at all. I can't name a single group here.

I think it's just the size. At the point when people no longer recognize each other, anonimity among the community begins to set in.

Have you ever worked in a small office, say five people, and there was one bathroom you all had to share? My experience has been the bathroom stayed nearly spotless as everyone was considerate of all others, since they knew them well and worked with them. Now go work in a public building that is used by thousands of people. The common areas are not so nice. Anyone can dump over a trashcan or graffitti a wall, and no one notices or cares because you'll never find the person that did it, and they don't know or care about everyone else.

I think that's what may be happening here. People are starting to become anonymous crowd members, and don't feel the need to cooperate with everyone, or be the most considerate users.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 7:01 PM on February 7, 2002

OK, MUD since you asked. I'll try an phrase this humorously to keep from sounding like a pompous ass. Imagine MeFi High School:

There's Y2Karl and rodii in the school band. ParisParamus, MidasMulligan palegirl, and evanizer in the honor society. Me, crashdavis, unclefes, and dong_resin sitting in detention. skallas and jennak as hall monitors, nicwolf running the science club and of course miguel on the spirit squad.

I'm kidding around but sometimes it does seem like certain people seem to pair up for and against certain people and rather than listen to the other guy for potential pearls of wisdom, simply sharpen their swords for a retort.

And, yes I'm as guilty of this as anyone.
posted by jonmc at 7:02 PM on February 7, 2002

It's warm and yellow in the shallow end, in other words.
posted by Kafkaesque at 7:03 PM on February 7, 2002

Matt - well I dunno the trashcan emptying types tend to get called out pretty quickly and either shape up or disappear. It's us regulars(me included) who are part of the problem too.

posted by jonmc at 7:04 PM on February 7, 2002

Wait a minute, I'm in detention? I never got detention. I slept under my car in auto shop and roamed the halls on my press pass, but detention?

posted by mr_crash_davis at 7:04 PM on February 7, 2002

And I don't see it like High School at all.

I don't feel clique-ish.
posted by Kafkaesque at 7:04 PM on February 7, 2002

You wanna skip class and go get stoned, Kaf?
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:05 PM on February 7, 2002

Kafkaesque - Well you're not, personally, you've been freindly to everybody including me in my dumber moments. I just remeber back in the Gene Simmons/Terry gross thread me and unclefes were AIM'ing eacother saying "why's n9 whaling on us?" and noticing that it's always the same people ragging on our(me & fes) posts. I can't be the only one this happens to.
posted by jonmc at 7:10 PM on February 7, 2002

I'm pretty sure that one person does not constitute a clique (Miguel, are you a clique? 'Fess up, man!). And I'm pretty sure that y2karl and rodii aren't hanging out together making fun of you (jonmc), crash, fes, and donger (I figure that's what he was called in high school).

Now, there are some threads that are somewhat cliqueish as only a select few people post to them, but I haven't tried posting to them, so I don't know how welcoming/exclusive they are.

(Can I join the science club? I won't break much, I promise!)
posted by whatnotever at 7:10 PM on February 7, 2002

Hell yeah, Staverino. Thought you'd never ask.
posted by Kafkaesque at 7:10 PM on February 7, 2002

Le Clique
C'est Chic

Mig Out!
posted by Kafkaesque at 7:12 PM on February 7, 2002

no. whatnotever, y2karl and rodii are my boys. I was just using them as a funny example. but some people do tend to bash someother people with almost frightening regularity.
posted by jonmc at 7:13 PM on February 7, 2002

I think all this happened because the Den Beste Boys broke up. As long as you don't wear trenchcoats to school. As the self appointed hall monitor (look at my safety sash), I would have to tattle on you.
posted by owillis at 7:28 PM on February 7, 2002

There are definitely a couple of heated rivalries here between certain individuals, and a couple of people seem to have attracted a small cult of personality about them, but I really don't see a level of cliqueishness here that's commensurate with highschool. If that ever happens though, I want to sit on the wall across the street with the habitual truants, smoke cigarettes, and laugh at y'all.
posted by MrBaliHai at 7:54 PM on February 7, 2002

while miguel seems too inclusive to be a clique, I don't think it's reasonable to assume that he's not some kind of assemblage or convocation.

anyway, the only problem I see is that too many people now seem to equate shouting with debate and parallel talking with conversation.

few people listen anymore, and thoughtful participation is no longer rewarded, it's usually ignored or even punished.

is that a result of cliquishness, or a group of newer members who modelled their behavior after the most obnoxious people on the board, or sheer numbers? I don't know.
posted by rebeccablood at 7:56 PM on February 7, 2002

I agree with Matt that the lack of accountability that people feel in a community this size is more important than the alignments that people happen to fall into due to common beliefs/interests/senses of humour. It seems much easier to 'get away' with a dubious comment or post when you realise how hard it is to keep track of everyone and everything that happens on MeFi and MeTa these days. Cliques will come and go but anyone can be a dick if they feel they can get away with it.

Oh look, MetaTalk isn't copyrighted for this year. What dire implications does this have?
posted by MUD at 7:57 PM on February 7, 2002

Well, OK I guess I'm wrong(nothing new there).
Maybe rebeccablood's onto something. The problrm folk like n9 and fold_&_mutilate get tons of attention(bad attention but attention just the same.) To a newbie this can translate into fame.
Some folks(I'm not naming names, cos I'm not a snitch) help this process out by consistently being the first ones to scold somebody or drag them into MeTa. These two opposed groups have a symbiotic relationship you might say.
And while I've been on the reciveing end of a few scoldings here, I refuse to takethe schoolmarm approach with anyone else, it would just give them too much satisfaction. But of course, I don't have any better ideas either. Just thought I'd put my 2 cents in on this recurrent issue.
posted by jonmc at 8:06 PM on February 7, 2002

um, I meant real9 not n9 my bad.
posted by jonmc at 8:09 PM on February 7, 2002

Correction: Miguel is OBVIOUSLY the wacky foreign exchange student. Okay?
posted by ColdChef at 8:19 PM on February 7, 2002

There's Y2Karl and rodii in the school band.

This is so not me.
posted by rodii at 8:31 PM on February 7, 2002

jon, I loved your high school clique metaphor (MeTaPhor?). I would be the high school newspaper editor who rebelled against the establishment (actually, I was the 'girl-in-the-street' columnist & cartoonist). I think you, rebecca & mathowie are right in what you say here, and I also think there is a distinct gap between more seasoned MeFi members and newer ones, especially after I read the comments posted to a link I posted on MeFi today. In fact, sometimes I think I feel a cold wind blowing down the generation gap, between, oh, let's say, those under 39 and those over when I read the commentary posted on MeFi....

posted by Lynsey at 8:33 PM on February 7, 2002

is that a result of cliquishness, or a group of newer members who modelled their behavior after the most obnoxious people on the board, or sheer numbers? I don't know.

I think it's simply a numbers game. When there were 100 people here, there was only one guy that acted like an ass, and he stuck out for doing it. When there are 13k+ members, the 1% ass figure scales up and there's too many to keep track of.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 8:34 PM on February 7, 2002

the 1% ass figure scales up and there's too many to keep track of.

Worse, when you have more than one ass, they think their behavior is more acceptable because, well, someone else did it and might have got away with it. (After all, you're not omniscient.)
posted by kindall at 8:45 PM on February 7, 2002

lynsey - I'm actually under 39, ya know.
To tell you the truth, matt, I think we could remove the 1% ass contingent and we'd still have some problems. But you're right, the exponential growth is still a factor even in my theory . When people know that there's a whole posse of like minded folks out there to back them up, they feel that much safer shouting a dissenter down. I don't mind backup myself, but as I said to midasmulligan yesterday, I'm a lone gunman not an army.
posted by jonmc at 8:46 PM on February 7, 2002

posted by owillis at 8:57 PM on February 7, 2002

Just for the record, I never made it to detention once.
When a grown-up told me to leave, I took them at their word and shuffled right the fuck off campus altogether.
Their coffee sucked.

As for what is wrong with MetaFilter, I'm certainly not the first to say it, but if all the energy put into analyzing it's troubles or responding to trolls were put into individual posting effort, it'd turn around almost instantly, I guarantee it.
posted by dong_resin at 9:05 PM on February 7, 2002

dong and crash, I used to live in detention. Not to mention my 4 suspensions(2 fights, 1 drunkeness, 1 arson). Guess I'm a bigger badass than I thought. No detentions...what kinda badass posse are you guys, anyway?!

posted by jonmc at 9:15 PM on February 7, 2002

especially after I read the comments posted to a link I posted on MeFi today

Lynsey, I don't think you can conflate the fact that the majority of posters just didn't like that link with speculation of the "these crazy kids' have done gone 'n fouled everythin' up!" sort. The reason I like MeFi so much is the discussion that arises from interesting links. I think the majority of those who commented in that post provided very thoughtful reasons for their dislike of the material you linked, or at least gave a humorous jab at it, which didn't seem to derail the discussion. From the standpoint of fairly rational discussion, the post seemed to me a success, rather than evidence of the downslide of the forum. In fact the rudest response seemed to come from posters who supported the politics of the link.

Anyway, back on topic, I think there's too much kvetching about the health of the community of late. I see it as a healthy community and perhaps one that has changed and grown. But growth and change mean vitality and life, which are both good things.

I think jonmc's characterization of the place as cliques was light-hearted and funny. In truth, all human endeavors involve a certain amount of social banding. I don't see really tightly knitted cliques here, more a casual association of people who share similar ideas about things. But also the entire community is also one big clique. We are all here because we like participating in Matt's experiment. And just like out in meat space, members of communities wax and wane in terms of their participation and attitudes.

I am just a newbie, however, and the new members seem to take a lot of hits when people mull over what is 'wrong' with MeFi. But I have been reading the site for a long time and I was lucky enough to be able to join finally. The fact that I kept reading the site for so long when I couldn't participate says a lot for its appeal.

The site works because of the ideological friction here. I enjoy hearing the voices and interests of so many different types of people. I am a conservative, but I don't want to see everyone agree on things or speak from just my point of view. I like the friction as well as the camaraderie.

I hope we all just remember our manners. There is no reason to act differently here than you would out in your physical communities. But overall, I think the self policing works here, as it does in society. It isn't the police force that really does the majority of the law enforcement, its socialization: people are generally kept in line by the standards present in their community. I once lived in a bad neighborhood. It stayed bad because there was a very low standard of behavior there. I think MetaFilter has a very high standard of behavior generally, and by keeping it up, it will stay that way.

Sorry to pontificate, but I feel strongly that this community is too valuable to let it get frittered away by apathy and a couple bad eggs.

Thanks for your time.
posted by evanizer at 9:19 PM on February 7, 2002

Oh, you misunderstand, I was sent to detention, I just never made it there.
Okay, you win.
posted by dong_resin at 9:19 PM on February 7, 2002

Er, that was directed at jonmc.
posted by dong_resin at 9:21 PM on February 7, 2002

donger - you ever see the movies "River's Edge" and "Over the Edge"...those kids were my crew back in the day..
posted by jonmc at 9:27 PM on February 7, 2002

At least "1% ass*" gives us another snappy slogan.

* Your ass content may vary.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:30 PM on February 7, 2002

First, I think that the cliques, such as they are, are pretty fluid around here - two who fight in one thread might be on the same side in another. At the same time, you'll always have those who have similar interests/opinions/backgrounds finding each other and teaming/defending/packing - it's natural to seek the esteem and companionship (? not quite but close) of those they consider fellows. Not a thing wrong with it, provided those cliques don't start warring. Which, I might add, I don't think has happened here, not by a far stretch.

Second, I feel that this thread - and the myriad "what's wrong with mefi" threads that seem so populous of late - are peoples' way of dancing around what I think is one of the central unanswered questions of Metafilter: What Are We Doing Here. Well, what are we? A good many of us spend a significant amount of time reading, posting, arguing here on Mefi. WHY? What are we doing? One could say that it's for the links - fine. But there are, we must admit, far larger, more comprehensive link lists available if that were the sole draw. We could say that we are keeping our debating minds sharp, but that's not all of it, either. The beauty - and the bedevilment - of Mefi is that there is simple, stated purpose for our activity here. Beauty because it frees us up to be creative, to act impulsively, to not be constrained... but bedevilment in that there is no direction, to compass, to help us determine if we are doing the right thing, by Matt, by each other, by the ethos we perceive Mefi must certainly have but, maddeningly, does not make explicit. So in the meantime, we argue the points knowing that we will never change the minds of those we argue against, we rail against our trolls while indulging them (even coddling them, sometimes), and we come the Meta and debate our entry into the final, final no-really-this-time-for-sure ultimate death of metafilter... until tomorrow, when we do it all over again.

I don't have a solution - I don't even know that there is one, or that there should be one. But I believe that we are looking for a purpose here (as people always do) and, finding none but our own emotional/political/intellectual exercise, we seek to add meaning/direction where there is none. don't misunderstand - that in itself is one of the reasons we each have come and stayed, it is a positive aspect of this site, something others do not have. But we naturally seek to assign value to our work buy justifying it as the process by which we accomplish...something. That sense of process, of working toward a goal.

Perhaps that's what Den Beste meant when he claimed there was no guiding voice here. Personally, I'm comfortable with a lack of direction. But I think that the preponderance of navel gazing and "whither Mefi" threads lately are evidence that not all are similarly at ease.
posted by UncleFes at 9:30 PM on February 7, 2002

I second dong_resins' idea.

Maybe we should adopt a sort of voluntary, quasi-parliamentary procedure, which requires, among other things:

7. Recognize that five kinds of knowledge are all needed for a successful meeting participant:

Knowledge of the subject matter at hand
Knowledge of parliamentary rules of order
Knowledge of rhetoric-the power to persuade
Knowledge of problem solving and decision making
Knowledge of human social-emotional dynamics

Perhaps the appearance of cliques is merely a result of the huge number of FPPs. No user has the ability to post on all the threads, or even all the interesting threads, so he/she/it will perhaps limit their attention to a fairly narrow set of topics (in my case, politics, sports, and alchohol), simply as a matter of convenience. This lends the appearance that certain groups of users always get involved in threads of the same topic, especially topics pancake-related, and this creates the false impression of the clique.

Or, on the other hand,
posted by insomnyuk at 9:31 PM on February 7, 2002

I've got to agree with Dong_Resin for the second time today. The answer to our problems is to quit bitching about it and, to steal an overused phrase, lead by example. I'm not climbing on a high horse, because I need to do it as much as any of the other 13,000 users, but if the right kind of tone was set and maintained by enough people, it would stick.

Incidentally, Matt -- Do you keep statistics on the number of unique posters over a period of time? Just wondering if it has increased in proportion to the number of registered users.
posted by Hildago at 9:31 PM on February 7, 2002

Oh yeah, and I haven't really noticed a cliquishness in MetaFilter either. I'm only now getting familiar with you all as individual posters rather than a big mass of words that scroll down the screen, but while it's clear that some people tend to agree with others more often than not, I sure haven't seen anything to indicate groupthink or protectiveness on those issues they have in common.
posted by Hildago at 9:34 PM on February 7, 2002

I'm a relatively new member to MetaFilter. I joined a while back when I was still wading in the waters of the internet community, and I thought MeFi was a great place to start. But now, I feel an overwhelming urge not to post anything, and simply lurk behind the curtains for several honest reasons:

1. I am not as humourous or witty as some of the familiar names on MeFi. I can't make snappy one-liners.

2. I am very much afraid to be labelled as a troll or a double poster when I don't mean to. These terms come with very negative feelings.

3. I don't want to write comments that seem dull compared to others, because then they will just be ignored. That sort of means I don't want to say anything that's moderate or agreeable.

4. I don't want to say anything too controversial either, because then I'll be stomped to the ground by groups that are very rigid on their points of view. Or I'll be labeled as a troll.

I'm a very moderate person. I don't like to cause trouble. I would like very much to contribute, but somehow or rather, I feel unwelcomed. So, I understand that it takes some thick skin to post and comment and discuss issues on MeFi (hence my few retry attempts recently), and I'm learning in the process. But perhaps it shouldn't be this hard.

I hope that didn't sound like a little kid, but facing this well established community, I do feel like one.
posted by dai at 9:46 PM on February 7, 2002

UncleFes, that's beautiful, and totally on the mark.

Also for your perusal, I found this excerpt from The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin which, I think, is wonderfully appropo. Think of what we do on MeFi when you read it:
" the autumn of the preceding year, I had form'd most of my ingenious acquaintance into a club of mutual improvement, which we called the JUNTO; we met on Friday evenings. The rules that I drew up required that every member, in his turn, should produce one or more queries on any point of Morals, Politics, or Natural Philosophy, to be discuss'd by the company...Our debates were to be under the direction of a president, and to be conducted in the sincere spirit of inquiry after truth, without fondness for dispute, or desire of victory..."
If it's good enough for Ben Franklin, it's good enough for me.
posted by evanizer at 9:47 PM on February 7, 2002

and dai, I've been a member for one week, and already I've just hogged in and given it a go. You have to try and make an effort, here or in the physical world. It's always a balance of security and risk.
posted by evanizer at 9:50 PM on February 7, 2002

People tend to remember the overwhelmingly positive or negative, Dai, it's really unlikely you'd stumble into being thought of as a troll.
As for humor, it has many flavors. You likely have more to contribute than you think, particularly after you adapt to the rhythm of the place.
If you doubt this, read MiguelCardoso's first stumbings here.
posted by dong_resin at 10:03 PM on February 7, 2002

Dai -- Just wait until all the familiar names on Metafilter leave in disgust, then we'll have the place all to ourselves.

But, ahh, if you do have an opinion on something, and a reasonable strategy to back it up, there's no reason not to share it. On the one hand, if you're right and everyone ignores you, you're still right, and if you continue to be right long enough someone is going to engage you. If, on the other hand, you're wrong, then it's the perfect place to be wrong, as the people who will correct you are generally more civil here than elsewhere on the web, and the stakes here are lower than in real life.

That's my philosophy, anyway.
posted by Hildago at 10:04 PM on February 7, 2002


3. I don't want to write comments that seem dull compared to others, because then they will just be ignored. That sort of means I don't want to say anything that's moderate or agreeable.

my comments are ignored all the time. that sort of thing happens. moderate or not, it doesn't matter if what you say is agreeable so long as it's reasonable. and, more importantly, so long as it's something you want to say. (though i suppose we run into problems if you want to say unreasonable things; but maybe that's just me being moderate.)

4. I don't want to say anything too controversial either, because then I'll be stomped to the ground by groups that are very rigid on their points of view. Or I'll be labeled as a troll.

as long as what you say is reasonable according to your eyes, i think you've got no problem. that's true in general. if you were flamed for your speech and you can understand why, you can always apologize in understanding of your error. i think people appreciate that sort of gesture (or at least i do, if that counts for anything).

2. I am very much afraid to be labelled as a troll or a double poster when I don't mean to. These terms come with very negative feelings.

apologizing is the best way to go. if the mistake was honest and people don't accept your apology, are you the asshole or aren't they assholes? even if you go wrong, you have the capacity to right yourself later on. that's what gives me the confidence to post.
posted by moz at 10:41 PM on February 7, 2002

dai - I know the feeling. Don't let it get to you. It can be a bit unnerving to realize that the guy you've been arguing semioics with has a Ph. D. in linguistics or to read a brilliantly worded riposte, click on the profile and find out she's an 18-year old girl with a brilliantly designed website of her own. These both happened to me. I sat at my keyboard feeling like Comic Book Guy on the Simpsons as he watched the mushroom clouds rise("I've wasted my life.") But I plugged away and generally speaking people have let me find my place. The original purpose of this thread was to try and insure that continues.
unclefes's post seems to ask us the deeper question of "Why do we keep posting here?"
Speaking for myself it's cos, like Bob Dylan, "I got a head full of ideas which are drivin' me insane..."
posted by jonmc at 10:42 PM on February 7, 2002

And that is why I keep coming back, as I have great respect for the familiar names I see here. Thanks for the support and advice from you all, I really appreciate it, and I'll do my best.

Might I make a suggestion: one of the reasons why things get a little overwhelming is that I don't have that much time (nor am I a particularly fast reader), so when I come back to check on MeFi, some 20 links were posted, many more comments included, and I barely have time to skim through it all. Then I wouldn't want to post a comment that is redundant, and so I become a little reluctant. Any way to limit a daily number of posts or something to that effect or has that already been considered before?
posted by dai at 11:15 PM on February 7, 2002

Were you ever in a relationship where all you talked about was why the relationship wasn't working? You want it to work so bad that all you and the other person do is examine it, and try to figure out what the problem the end, what happens? It ends. She ends up a Keno girl in Atlantic City with two kids and a trucker husband. You end up all alone, eating dinty moore stew from a can over your sink, posting to Metafilter all day and working on your "notions" all night.

We need to stop wondering what is wrong with metafilter, unless we have a clear plan for how we can improve it. This isn't an attack on you at all, Jonmc. I just think it's time we stop examining Metafilter's problems. That's depressing.

Nothing is wrong with Metafilter. It's just different.
posted by Doug at 11:35 PM on February 7, 2002

Ben Franklin was also a member of the Hellfire Club in England, which "reputedly held elaborate orgies patterned after black masses and its internal feuds almost directly precipitated the American Revolution".

If that's good enough for Ben Franklin, it's good enough for me.
posted by liam at 11:41 PM on February 7, 2002

I declare that metafilter is good enough.

Who's up for an orgy at my place to be immediately followed by an internal fued?
posted by ben franklin at 12:50 AM on February 8, 2002

The problem with MeFi, obviously, is the dearth of qualified clique captains - clique spokespersons, if you will. There is far too much random and disorganized joining in. And even when a proper mandarin does establish him/herself, he/she is forced to waste time dealing with too many members of the vast egalitarian wad, which, of course, lowers the godhead's perceived cleverness quotient until he/she begins losing control of his/her followers until the inevitable de-reification leads to an inescapable de-deification and...see?...a vicious viscous cycle...a nasty, sticky problem...


Woe is us.
posted by Opus Dark at 1:20 AM on February 8, 2002

FYI, the Benjamin Franklin connection to the (probably ficticious) Hellfire Club is completely unproven and rather silly. He was certainly a libertine in his early days, and no pious individual, but this "illuminati" stuff, if it existed, probably wouldn't interest him.

Can we quit whining about MetaFilter and start the Black Mass already?
posted by evanizer at 1:49 AM on February 8, 2002

posted by bunnyfire at 3:45 AM on February 8, 2002

Can we quit whining about MetaFilter and start the Black Mass already?

Yes, we can. Hey evanizer: want to join my clique? It's much maligned and a little off the map but you'll find all the best cliques include it in their party lists, if only for the curiosity value and the piss-taking potential.

Though I warn you now that no amount of trolling for fellatio, much less from the devil's own, will be tolerated - at least not beyond the acceptable limits set down in the guidelines. ;)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 3:55 AM on February 8, 2002

hi everybody,
i just wanted to say that i love tha uncle, and i recently have been having some issues with metafilter lately in that last night i was staying with my grandmother, who doesn't have a computer, and i called mlang, and said, "so what is going on," and he started talking about his family, and i said, "NOOOO, i mean on metafilter."
What is up with that?
posted by goneill at 6:29 AM on February 8, 2002

I'm sorry I ever got that damn Ph.D. If you only knew the trouble it's caused me. :)
posted by rodii at 6:59 AM on February 8, 2002

Jonmc - did I get kicked out of the high school or something?

I probably have said this before, but.. I don't think it's the size of the place, or the number of users.. because the critical mass of posts and comments are by the same (relatively) small group of users who are active here. I mean, we have over 13,000 registered users, but I would doubt it if there were much more over 30-50 or so that are active users.

That contributes to a better sense of community since people recognize eachother, but it also contributes to the groupings that jon mentioned, just due to the familiarity between users..

Familiarity tends to have people behave less guarded, so you get some in-joke insults, and general snarkiness, but then that beocmes somewhat of the norm, and when new users show up, they get pummelled.
posted by rich at 7:15 AM on February 8, 2002

As the slightly out-of-it substiture English teacher in jonmc's high school, I always walk in on the conversation when it's nearly done and don't really think anyone is paying attention.

However, I would say that this dynamic -- the can't-stop-paying-attention-to-the-what-is-MeFi question is part of the natural evolution of a group, and goes hand in hand with the parallel issue of the change in behavioral profile that mathowie points out is almost incontrivertably an issue of size: to wit: MeFi gets big, which prompts a "loss" of the sense of small-group cohesion which used to give it a sense of identity -- regardless of a lack of "purpose" -- and simultaneously stresses the community on all sides (the place looks too loud and rude and unlistener-oriented to some, and too dominated by discourse cops to others).

The result is that a set of the invested folks -- the ones who, new or old, feel that "loss" of cohesion -- are drawn to the Who Are We or Why Does it Suck Now or the If Only We Had A Pony It Would Suck No Longer conversations. We are replacing the sense of community with a conversation we hope will fuel that. I think it's somewhere between nostalgia and ordinary group-dynamic.

Hey, why am I talking to an empty room? Oh, right. Free period...
posted by BT at 7:34 AM on February 8, 2002

seen my bike?
posted by clavdivs at 8:37 AM on February 8, 2002

i'm in here working on some letters to Greenpeace BT. But anyway - I think it is pretty healthy to be nervous to post. I was very nervous to post, and I lurked for months, and I think that we want people to be nervous and to lurk for a while before posting. It's not a free-for-all here. There is a culture, and you shouldn't just walk in. You should learn the style and figure out what the community is all about.
That's not cliquish, that's just community protection.
posted by goneill at 9:08 AM on February 8, 2002

What's wrong with Metafilter? Huge groups of bullies who witch hunt "trolls." A troll seems to be a prey animal that strays beyond the outer fringes of the herd, ideologically or lexicographically speaking. These "troll predators" seem to be always on the hunt for those they can single out as "trolls". These predators seem to have a goal of getting the "trolls" banned by Metafilter moderator(s). I would not be surprised to learn that these troll predators communnicate via email, perhaps congratulating themselves on getting some "troll" banned by Metafilter moderator(s).
posted by username at 9:34 PM on February 8, 2002

posted by rodii at 9:57 PM on February 8, 2002

*excitedly emails troll-predator posse*
posted by rodii at 9:59 PM on February 8, 2002

What moderators? Persecution complex ahoy!
posted by darukaru at 10:44 PM on February 8, 2002

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