TSA video makes a fraud out of a Mefi post? October 16, 2009 11:43 PM   Subscribe

Hmmm. Metafilter may be unwittingly perpetuating a fraud (re: the TSA babynapping story).

I didn't react particularly well to this myself, but cmonkey went ahead and found TSA's response.

At the very least, it might be nice to add a link to the video in [more inside].
posted by effugas to Etiquette/Policy at 11:43 PM (232 comments total)

I keep an emergency Xanax on hand whenever I read the gray.
posted by LarryC at 11:50 PM on October 16, 2009 [7 favorites]


Man, I dunno, a breaking story about a kid in peril that turned out to be a hoax. What a terrible post for meta.. oh wait. No, it's cool.
posted by empath at 11:55 PM on October 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


ugh.. the blue is so far away..
posted by pwally at 11:58 PM on October 16, 2009


This deserves a separate MetaTalk post why?
posted by blucevalo at 12:06 AM on October 17, 2009


Maybe it's just me, but outright fraud isn't exactly "best of the web".

Besides, it's fairly standard for normal, non-community blogs to post updates and corrections where they will be found before the outrage brigade gets a chance to go at it.

This isn't seen as a fraud in-thread for a good hundred posts, so there's definite interest and likelihood people won't see the correction where it is.
posted by effugas at 12:11 AM on October 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


This deserves a separate MetaTalk post why?

I would assume so we can talk about what happened after they delete the untrue post or something. I don't think everyone will be done letting everybody else know how much they dislike the lady.
posted by floam at 12:14 AM on October 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm wondering why they blur the video during the times she's actually being searched. I imagine it could be to prevent an aspiring terrorist from studying screening methods, but that seems kind of silly since anyone can watch it being done live at the airport...?
posted by zoinks at 12:25 AM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Well, for what it's worth, I think this is a valid post to the gray simply because this is now the second day in a row where a premature post about an unfortunate situation involving a young child has turned out to be completely untrue.

I'm the first to admit I've been guilty of making premature FPPs, but seriously, I think it's worth it for everyone to recognize that a single link post to a dubious breaking news story or someone's dubious blog entry could really benefit from either 1) a little more research or 2) a little more time.
posted by Lutoslawski at 12:30 AM on October 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


Man, I'm less than in love with that post given how some of the thread has gone, but I don't think we need to kill it just because it took a turn and we're pretty firmly not in the practice of making edits to the post text either. Metafilter is not a news outlet and it's not the responsibility of the site to make sure that people who browse the front page without clicking through come away with accurate capsule news summaries.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:32 AM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


p.s. i love that the only tag on this post is 'xanax.' indeed.
posted by Lutoslawski at 12:35 AM on October 17, 2009


Of course, the original poster has the option of adding "hoax" to the post tags.
posted by taz at 12:48 AM on October 17, 2009


Hey, we've covered two frauds in two days! This place is getting to be almost as good as The Weekly World News!
posted by five fresh fish at 12:57 AM on October 17, 2009


Well, the blogger was right about one thing.

It really did take all of 10 minutes.

vindication!
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:01 AM on October 17, 2009


I'm disappointed by the lack of terror farts.
posted by dirigibleman at 1:04 AM on October 17, 2009


About halfway through the video you can clearly see a TSA agent telling the woman to always blow on the pie.
posted by Rhomboid at 1:08 AM on October 17, 2009 [9 favorites]


Speaking of terror farts, a bunch of you might like this: Craig Ferguson interviewing the MythBusters boys.

MythBusters + Craig == goodness.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:25 AM on October 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


Speaking of terror farts, did you know that the global performing arts community contains at least one professional flatulist? We live in a truly amazing world.
posted by cmonkey at 1:43 AM on October 17, 2009


I'm wondering why they blur the video during the times she's actually being searched.

I'm pretty sure that's for privacy not security. The idea is that since they're moving the wands up & down her body, that's an invasive thing to show on the video. So they blur it.
posted by scalefree at 1:49 AM on October 17, 2009


I don't think we need to kill it just because it took a turn

The entire story behind the post has been proven false. What possible merit does this FPP have?
posted by knave at 1:51 AM on October 17, 2009


"Metafilter may be unwittingly perpetuating a fraud."
posted by effugas

Effugas, I get that you're sort of eating a lot of humble pie at the moment, given what happened in the latter stages of the thread (which is probably part of the impetus behind this MeTa) however I think you should put down the knife and fork for a little while and watch for further developments in this matter before finishing that pie.

As I just said in the thread, having watched the video, I'm not sold. Yet. The video, as far as I'm concerned at this exact point in time, does not prove conclusively to me that this is THE incident in question. All it really is is nothing more than very weak evidence to support the other side of the story. The fact that it appears at a blog entry on a subpage of the TSA website, rather than an official statement handed down from the highest rungs of the organisation, isn't helping me buy their side of the story either.

In the end, it may be conclusively proven that the original blogger made it all up, in which case I'll take my humble pie in the study, please. Personally I think the truth will fall somewhere in between these two versions of events. But at this stage, people's willingness to leap onto this semi-official evidence to fuel their blame-the-victim mentality speaks words about how well Authority has taught us to trust them first, and trust each other as little as possible.
posted by Effigy2000 at 1:58 AM on October 17, 2009


Let's face it - this was a single-link post pointing to someone's blog with a totally unverifiable story. If this had been her story about how 20 people in a row paid for someone else's coffee at Starbucks or about how she met George Clooney and he turned out to be a totally nice guy, it would have been flagged, mocked, and probably deleted.
posted by mmoncur at 2:04 AM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


It was mentioned in that thread before you posted this thread.

I'm mentioning this in case people actually read this thread before posting the video in the other thread. Again.
posted by Pronoiac at 2:13 AM on October 17, 2009


The video, as far as I'm concerned at this exact point in time, does not prove conclusively to me that this is THE incident in question.

Wait, really? This is what you're going with? That the surveillance video is actually of some other lady with a baby who looks very much like the blogger in question? And that "the truth will fall somewhere in between these two versions of events"? Somewhere in between objective closed circuit video and the hysterical rantings of a fucking loon? Really?
posted by dersins at 2:19 AM on October 17, 2009 [11 favorites]


Effigy,

I didn't want the thread killed. I've been angry in the past when my own conversations were deleted. I *did* want some notice added to the top of the thread saying that there was some controversy. I don't really see this as that big of a deal; most non-community blogs will update a post when new facts come to light. I respect that Metafilter isn't really a news operation but occasionally it's used for that purpose.

You have to admit, any other blog would probably post an update. That this is a community blog should just mean putting it to the community.

And I stand by my statements -- I was commenting on the surprise of some people that taking a child away would be a huge deal. It is a huge deal. TSA accepts that it's a huge deal. They also insist they didn't do it. For my part, I did take a look at both the times on the video and compared the appearances of the mother and child to what was seen. There's some definite overlap.
posted by effugas at 2:21 AM on October 17, 2009


That thread was all kinds of ugly for a number of reasons.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:36 AM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


The video, as far as I'm concerned at this exact point in time, does not prove conclusively to me that this is THE incident in question.

Wait, really? This is what you're going with? That the surveillance video is actually of some other lady with a baby who looks very much like the blogger in question? And that "the truth will fall somewhere in between these two versions of events"? Somewhere in between objective closed circuit video and the hysterical rantings of a fucking loon? Really?


Dersins, to be fair. we still don't ACTUALLY have evidence that leprechauns don't ACTUALLY exist, nor do we have complete conclusive evidence that the universe isn't being held up by an infinite line of turtles, so, you know, I just wanted to defend Effigy2000 by chiming in that epistemology is a very precarious subject, and I, for one, certainly believe that fairies may indeed exist, as I have yet to see absolute conclusive evidence to the contrary.

Take THAT Dersins! Now give me some eggs.

and in case there was confusion with regard to the tone of the aforementioned comment about mystical creatures, yes, it was meant with the most extreme sort of sarcasm.
posted by Lutoslawski at 2:55 AM on October 17, 2009


dersins: "Wait, really? This is what you're going with? That the surveillance video is actually of some other lady with a baby who looks very much like the blogger in question?"

The video is so small, even when zoomed in I can't tell with 100% certainty that the woman is the same woman whose blog started this whole thing. There appears to be some resemblance, but not enough to sell me on the TSAs semi-official side of the story.

With the amount of people who pass through a busy airport every day, small video clips which could create a compelling case for the TSA would not be slim pickings, I'm sure.

Your hyperbole aside, I'm going with a skepticism of authority and what it tells us, yes. I'll publicly concede I'm wrong if and when there's irrefutable evidence that supports the TSA, or when the blogger says she made it up. In the meantime, I suggest we all just wait and see what further developments there are in this case before we all chose a side in this thing.
posted by Effigy2000 at 3:03 AM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Metafilter is not a news outlet

Indeed.
posted by atrazine at 3:21 AM on October 17, 2009


This could be like that time when the CIA ran the investigation into the CIA bringing drugs into the US and found out the CIA wasn't involved. Either way, move along, citizen.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:24 AM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


cortex--

Is there a reason behind the no-article-commentary policy? There's certainly a comment block when a thread is deleted; why not one when it's ... clearly needing of a bit more context?
posted by effugas at 3:35 AM on October 17, 2009


As I just said in the thread, having watched the video, I'm not sold. Yet. The video, as far as I'm concerned at this exact point in time, does not prove conclusively to me that this is THE incident in question.

Go and read the comments on her blog. Her hysterical readers were emailing this to every news outlet going and twittering it to CNN and Good Morning America. There are journalists on there commenting and asking her to contact them. If there was anything in this story I think it would be news by now - and the comments would still be easily viewable on her website.

Personally I think the truth will fall somewhere in between these two versions of events.

I don't.
posted by fire&wings at 4:07 AM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think that this FPP demonstrates perfectly why this sort of thing (as with the one discussed in the MeTa yesterday) makes for a really shitty contribution to the site and should have been deleted.

Just because something is big and in the news, or is outragey and (if found to be true) will soon be in the news, doesn't automatically mean it has to be on MeFi. The word "Filter" in MetaFilter is an important one -- of all the piles and piles of stuff that is available online, MeFi serves to distill and select down to a subset of usually quite interesting and sometimes important stuff.

A crappy blog post (especially one that looks to be more crazy than true) isn't a good FPP. Waiting a day or three, allowing the truth to become clear, and then making a FPP about the TSA, claims of abuse, and the TSA's selective transparency, however, would have been awesome.

So put me firmly in the camp of urging stricter moderation of these kinds of FPPs.
posted by Forktine at 4:55 AM on October 17, 2009 [22 favorites]


It was not credible, or at least not credibly sane, from the "I handed him my son" point on -- who does that? -- but I am curious about the "You'll also see that a lot of the other claims are also unfounded" -- which ones are those?
posted by kmennie at 5:32 AM on October 17, 2009


That thread is a pretty good example of how people don't read all the comments.
posted by smackfu at 5:46 AM on October 17, 2009 [4 favorites]


Yeah. My issue is that people are still pouring into the thread screaming, "Oh my God, they took her baby!" while completely missing the links to the TSA video. Because the video is not a part of the post, it's just buried in 200-some-odd comments.

So is the responsibility with MeFi to delete/update the post or is it with the userbase to take in all the comments to get things right?
posted by trinkatot at 6:28 AM on October 17, 2009


Even though her story was proved false, there was still a whole bunch of unnecessary unpleasantness in that thread.
posted by Ruki at 7:01 AM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


At 11:04:07 in the TSA video, you can see a black tattoo on her right wrist. So, I'm convinced that these videos are of her. Of course, anything could have happened between the edits, but I sort of doubt they'd take the risk of editing out corroborating details - I think if the video showed abuses of power, they probably just wouldn't have written the blog post. I'm not generally inclined the trust the TSA, but the footage is fairly compelling.

I'm an internet detective!
posted by Salvor Hardin at 7:10 AM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think it's on the userbase to read the comments, or at least skim for links. It's not asking too much.

Even though her story was proved false, there was still a whole bunch of unnecessary unpleasantness in that thread.

Agreed, and the self-congratulatory jeering didn't help either.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 7:10 AM on October 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


And let's not forget that the TSA still sucks, even if they didn't steal this particular woman's baby. Fucking TSA.
posted by ryanrs at 7:31 AM on October 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


So is the responsibility with MeFi to delete/update the post or is it with the userbase to take in all the comments to get things right?

Userbase. You know how many AskMes make it clear that the respondents didn't even read the whole question? Updating the story at the top wouldn't necessarily obviate the people who jump in with emotional statements. Some of them seem to have started typing before they even finished reading the first sentence.
posted by tomboko at 7:54 AM on October 17, 2009


I think it's cool that there is an ad for Chimay on the blog. TSA and blogger should get together for a beer or two. And maybe pretzels in siver bowls.
posted by fixedgear at 8:37 AM on October 17, 2009


I keep an emergency Xanax on hand whenever I read the gray.

I think I am pretty easygoing. But can we knock it off with all the "emergency Xanax" jokes?
posted by the littlest brussels sprout at 9:17 AM on October 17, 2009 [4 favorites]


Yeah. My issue is that people are still pouring into the thread screaming, "Oh my God, they took her baby!" while completely missing the links to the TSA video. Because the video is not a part of the post, it's just buried in 200-some-odd comments.


MY THREAD. NOT YOUR THREAD. NO READ. Really really FOR REALS.
posted by fermezporte at 9:19 AM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Forktine writes "A crappy blog post (especially one that looks to be more crazy than true) isn't a good FPP. Waiting a day or three, allowing the truth to become clear, and then making a FPP about the TSA, claims of abuse, and the TSA's selective transparency, however, would have been awesome. "

The selective transparency is very interesting; it would be nice to see a good post expanding on it. I was pretty floored that the TSA would release footage debunking the woman's claims because going forward that means not releasing footage of a claimed incident lends credibility to the alleged victims version of the incident. Considering the number of people flying each week there must be an outraged blog post every few days, just from craziness.
posted by Mitheral at 9:20 AM on October 17, 2009


Effigy2000 what would irrefutable evidence look like to you? Jesus, you think they trawled through thousands of hours of footage until they found not just a mother+baby being screened, but also one who looked a lot like this woman?

Yeah, yeah, report the controversy.
posted by fightorflight at 9:24 AM on October 17, 2009


Wait, really? This is what you're going with? That the surveillance video is actually of some other lady with a baby who looks very much like the blogger in question? And that "the truth will fall somewhere in between these two versions of events"? Somewhere in between objective closed circuit video and the hysterical rantings of a fucking loon? Really?

Jeez, some nerve got touched there. And all in response to a measured skepticism about the the conclusivety of the video rebuttal. Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson airport is the busiest in the world, and probably over 100,000 passengers go through those security gates each day. It's not inconceivable, that this was a video of a different woman and given the record of the TSA, a healthy dose of skepticism is warranted. I think Effigy2000's observation that "people's willingness to leap onto this semi-official evidence to fuel their blame-the-victim mentality speaks words about how well Authority has taught us to trust them first, and trust each other as little as possible." is entirely appropriate.

And Lutoslawski's follow up jeering was puerile in the extreme.
posted by Neiltupper at 9:29 AM on October 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


I think Effigy2000's observation that "people's willingness to leap onto this semi-official evidence to fuel their blame-the-victim mentality speaks words about how well Authority has taught us to trust them first, and trust each other as little as possible." is entirely appropriate.

As is the observation that large masses o' Mefites will take poorly sourced, on-its-face questionable material for the truth if it enforces their prejudices ... this time, against people in positions of "authority." It's too bad that people seized on the fact that the woman medicates her anxiety as a reason to doubt her, as her blog post came off as less than credible way, way before that.
posted by Bookhouse at 9:47 AM on October 17, 2009 [10 favorites]


Just because something is big and in the news, or is outragey and (if found to be true) will soon be in the news, doesn't automatically mean it has to be on MeFi. The word "Filter" in MetaFilter is an important one -- of all the piles and piles of stuff that is available online, MeFi serves to distill and select down to a subset of usually quite interesting and sometimes important stuff.

This, a thousand times over.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:53 AM on October 17, 2009


Is there a reason behind the no-article-commentary policy? There's certainly a comment block when a thread is deleted; why not one when it's ... clearly needing of a bit more context?

Because we NEVER do it. Starting some sort of commentary option [other than adding NSFW to a post which we did this morning to another post] makes the website totally different. If people want, they can add a "hoax" tag which will get the point across nicely. That thread is so ugly I have no interest in going back to it, and it was crappy to begin with but that's what you get with late night weekend posts sometimes. Bleh.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:56 AM on October 17, 2009


Your hyperbole aside, I'm going with a skepticism of authority and what it tells us, yes. I'll publicly concede I'm wrong if and when there's irrefutable evidence that supports the TSA, or when the blogger says she made it up. In the meantime, I suggest we all just wait and see what further developments there are in this case before we all chose a side in this thing.

Amazingly, you've just described the mindset of the Birthers. And the Truthers. And the Teabaggers. And the Han-Shot-Firsters....
posted by dw at 10:17 AM on October 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


Is there a reason behind the no-article-commentary policy?

Because we NEVER do it.

"But why?"

"Because!"

"But why?"

"Because!"

"But why?"
posted by Sys Rq at 10:26 AM on October 17, 2009


But seriously, what you're seeing play out here is the old psychological conundrum of people and their beliefs.

Given one account of an event, they will form a conclusion. But if evidence is given contrary to that conclusion, a person will not go back on that conclusion and be more willing to reject the new evidence than reject their belief. And in fact, the amount of evidence required to overturn that conclusion may be far, far more evidence than the evidence originally presented -- if the person ever rejects the first conclusion at all.

There's a term for this conundrum, but I have no idea what it is, since I never took psych. But it's what you're seeing here, helped along by a deep distrust of authority and government. I'm not saying a healthy mistrust isn't OK, but sometimes, as we've seen with Truthers and Birthers and Teabaggers, that mistrust can turn into simple skepticism into a snarled belief system.

The Internet is just helping all this along, since it's easy for a meme to find purchase in the minds of people who are looking for exactly what the meme is offering them. It fits their personal belief system, so it must be true. At the same time, the Internet allows for these memes to be refuted just as quickly. What it comes down to is that it's far easier to transmit a hoax than it is to stop transmitting it. Refuting it is easy. Getting people to stop believing it is hard.
posted by dw at 10:27 AM on October 17, 2009 [5 favorites]


"Because!"

"But why?"


Because we don't believe it's a good direction to take the site in—post hoc admin editorial modification of the above-the-fold content of posts flies rather starkly in the face of the long-standing expectation that users will be trusted to post responsibly in their own voice when putting something on the front page. We delete stuff that really doesn't work and very occasionally add non-substantial warning tags upon request (NSFW, PDF, etc) but that's as granular as it gets and that's what we're comfortable with.

There is no established expectation in 10+ years that the mods will be rewriting portions of folks posts to better reflect the updates to whatever a post was about. It's a change of policy that we're not interested in pursuing.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:34 AM on October 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


There's a term for this conundrum, but I have no idea what it is...

Confirmation bias (Persistence of discredited beliefs)?
posted by Kronos_to_Earth at 10:47 AM on October 17, 2009


I think that is the dumbest metafilter thread I've seen in months. I think people need to start posting the TSA video and her nutty twitter feed in every comment because obviously people are not reading the whole thread before posting their anti-TSA anti-baby-taking anti-xanax-prejudice rants.
posted by empath at 10:59 AM on October 17, 2009


It's an illustration of the unfortunate truth that many people don't seem to read the whole thread. It's kind of beautiful, really, the way commenters keep coming in and screaming OMG DINGOS ATE THE TSA TOOK HER BABY and then other commenters say "It is a fraud." and then the dingo people either say nothing because they have moved on, or become argumentative or sheepish depending on their ways. It's like a little microcosm of exactly what was discussed in the two MeTa threads I linked above. It's kind of perfect, actually, because those who haven't read the thread are getting a nice real example of why it is a good idea to actually read the whole thing before commenting.
posted by mygothlaundry at 10:59 AM on October 17, 2009


or maybe we should just delete the whole thing since it's turned into such an embarassing cluster fuck for all involved.
posted by empath at 11:02 AM on October 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


We could henceforth call such a cleaning a mybottlesup.
posted by Mitheral at 11:20 AM on October 17, 2009


It really should be deleted. First, it's simply not anything even remotely like "best of the web." Second, it's a hoax yet people don't seem to be realizing that; thus, all the thread is accomplishing is fooling yet more people. All in all, it's a net detriment to the community.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:24 AM on October 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


What about updating the FPP, rather then deleting it? Right now, the link doesn't even work.
posted by delmoi at 11:39 AM on October 17, 2009


The link works fine for me.
posted by rtha at 11:50 AM on October 17, 2009


Hit post too fast.

It's a terrible fpp. Nothing but outragefilter. Bleh.
posted by rtha at 11:51 AM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


No, it should not be deleted. MeFi is not the NY Times, and even if it were, the story wouldn't be deleted. Do you people think the Kaycee thread should be deleted too? How about all comments that don't tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth? Get a grip.
posted by languagehat at 11:54 AM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'll publicly concede I'm wrong if and when there's irrefutable evidence that supports the TSA...

Some more details, as posted by math in the MeFi FPP:
"As soon as we saw the blog post, we reached out to the Atlanta airport. TSA at the Atlanta airport contacted Nic, but she didn't respond.

The blog post gave some key details: the airport, the gate (which can pinpoint the checkpoint) and an approximate time. The post also notes things that happened - the passenger calling out to people and officers from the holding area, and a female passenger getting Nic's bags for her. All of these details were helpful.

The blog has numerous pictures of the woman, the baby and the stroller. They match the video.

We take claims like this seriously, and the TSA staff at ATL used the information to pull the CCTV tape within a window of time that matched details in the blog post.

Nic was contacted more than once by TSA yesterday, but as of last night, had not responded."
posted by ericb at 12:02 PM on October 17, 2009


What about updating the FPP, rather then deleting it?

Speaking of those who don't read the thread before posting...
posted by ook at 12:03 PM on October 17, 2009


Heh. And now in her Twitter feed she claims that all the people saying she made it up are trolls.
posted by IndigoRain at 12:19 PM on October 17, 2009


But why wasn't the post deleted when it was first made, or soon thereafter? Isn't it sort of normal to delete posts that are comprised of a single link to a single blog post? Was it really not flagged to death just based on it being a shitty FPP, forgetting the hoax-or-not aspect of it?
posted by ericost at 1:08 PM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


It was not flagged quickly and heavily at all, no, and I was off having a lovely time at a meetup when it was posted, late on a Friday night and nigh on midnight Jessamyn time. By the time I saw it it had been going along at a pretty brisk pace for a couple hours and seemed like it was significantly developing.

None of which is foolproof deletion insurance, but it didn't seem like a slamdunk deletion at the time either and I went ahead and let it be.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:14 PM on October 17, 2009


I dig. And thanks for the explain.
posted by ericost at 1:22 PM on October 17, 2009


"I was off having a lovely time at a meetup when it was posted"

WHAT ARE YOU SOME KIND OF MEETUP MASOCHIST? TRY STAYING HOME FOR A WHILE, MAN!
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 1:24 PM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


None of which is deletion insurance

Wait, we can purchase deletion insurance? I didn't see that on the Shop page.
posted by the littlest brussels sprout at 1:31 PM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


No, it should not be deleted. MeFi is not the NY Times, and even if it were, the story wouldn't be deleted. Do you people think the Kaycee thread should be deleted too? How about all comments that don't tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth? Get a grip.

So those who disagree are so, so wrong--so wrong that they need to "(g)et a grip?"

Mmmmmmmmmmmkay.
posted by ambient2 at 1:59 PM on October 17, 2009


On another note, weird to me is the number of "you have to be a mother (or father) to understand" comments. It's as if Victorian-era maternalist-feminism or whatever you want to call it took over that thread. "You'd have to have a kid to get it" seems old-fashioned and out of touch with the impulse for empathy expected in nearly every other facet of society. That rhetoric bothers me, but it could just be my problem (because I don't have kids).
posted by vincele at 2:02 PM on October 17, 2009 [7 favorites]


On another note, weird to me is the number of "you have to be a mother (or father) to understand" comments. It's as if Victorian-era maternalist-feminism or whatever you want to call it took over that thread.

There was also a certain amount of it surrounding the Roman Polanski thing, as if one cannot be upset about the rape of a 13-year-old girl if one is not the parent of a 13-year-old girl. I also noticed it in the "kids don't walk to school anymore" thread, where people felt that non-parenthood would be the only reason that you would dare to question the real need to drive a kid one block to school in a completely safe neighborhood -- "if you were a parent, you too would operate out of misplaced fear, so BACK OFF!"

Anyway, I've noticed a lot of this lately in various places, and I for one am getting massively sick of it.
posted by OolooKitty at 2:27 PM on October 17, 2009 [15 favorites]


Jesus Christ has that thread taken an ugly turn off an already ugly avenue. Please add my vote for an immediate closure/deletion of it.

Somehow, all the elements involved - falsified, histrionic story, the TSA's involvement, the anxiety/xanax issue and the always-reliable LOLHYSTERICALWOMANZ element have whipped the whole thing into a perfect storm of awful.

Please pull the plug.
posted by EatTheWeak at 2:41 PM on October 17, 2009


Oh, yeah, and the whole "URNOTAPARENT" thing, too. It's just bad, it's all bad.
posted by EatTheWeak at 2:42 PM on October 17, 2009


Well, when a little baby is involved, its mother (and father, usually to a lesser extent) probably has a different perspective on things. It's like, science. That doesn't make it a better perspective, but I think it's naive to assume that we all see every baby the exact same way.
posted by kathrineg at 2:53 PM on October 17, 2009


There's a term for this conundrum, but I have no idea what it is, since I never took psych.

Cognitive dissonance.

And if we could make outrage or cognitive dissonance an energy source the worlds problems would be solved.
posted by tkchrist at 3:21 PM on October 17, 2009


Because we don't believe it's a good direction to take the site in—post hoc admin editorial modification of the above-the-fold content of posts flies rather starkly in the face of the long-standing expectation that users will be trusted to post responsibly in their own voice when putting something on the front page. We delete stuff that really doesn't work and very occasionally add non-substantial warning tags upon request (NSFW, PDF, etc) but that's as granular as it gets and that's what we're comfortable with.

OK. I understand this policy, and don't disagree with it.

In line with this philosophy, however, may I request that users get the ability to add -- not delete, not edit -- updates to a live post, in much the same manner that most other blogs do? I'll buy that it's not a mod's place to edit someone's post, but it does seem like the existing technical infrastructure blocks a correction that would otherwise be forthcoming.

(And can we keep discussion of the actual topic at hand in the blue?)
posted by effugas at 3:30 PM on October 17, 2009


(Specifically, users should be able to add updates to their own posts.)
posted by effugas at 3:31 PM on October 17, 2009


I think I am pretty easygoing. But can we knock it off with all the "emergency Xanax" jokes?

No. It's really funny and a funny part of the story.
posted by xmutex at 4:18 PM on October 17, 2009


*starts "emergency xmutex" meme*
posted by Sys Rq at 4:22 PM on October 17, 2009


may I request that users get the ability to add -- not delete, not edit -- updates to a live post

No offense, but those are called "comments" and anyone can make one. Not having a function for updates in this way is sort of a result of not really being the sort of blog that usually has posts that require this sort of thing. And, not wanting to encourage "breaking news!!" posts to begin with.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:02 PM on October 17, 2009


Cognitive dissonance.

Nope, Kronos_to_Earth was right. It's the persistence of discredited beliefs.
posted by dw at 5:33 PM on October 17, 2009


Well, when a little baby is involved, its mother (and father, usually to a lesser extent) probably has a different perspective on things.

Mostly, the perspective is one that has thrown any healthy skepticism out with the bathwater.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 5:35 PM on October 17, 2009


Update: my apologies
posted by Beautiful Screaming Lady at 6:23 PM on October 17, 2009


I've been pretty much staying out of the fray here, but that's a pretty bizarre non-apology for an apology.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:51 PM on October 17, 2009


I agree; how exactly is a further accusation that the TSA is lying an apology?
posted by Justinian at 7:16 PM on October 17, 2009


My impression is that it's not a non-apology apology regarding any of the bullshit; it's a mild apology for the downtime on the blog and lack of updates for several hours. She apologizing to the people who weren't getting twitter replies, etc, for 18 hours. Which, you know, whoop-dee-doo...
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:39 PM on October 17, 2009


Agreed, cortex - it's very much a 'sorry I didn't respond immediately'. As others in the main thread have noted, there's no attempt at an explanation, and she even makes things worse by claiming that the TSA have selectively edited their CCTV to discredit her.

This is interesting, though - her sitemeter stats (easily clickable from each page, I'm not stalking her). Nothing nothing nothing nothing BOOM.
posted by Beautiful Screaming Lady at 7:47 PM on October 17, 2009


She feels that it's an apology, and has written that it is an apology. Who are you-all to say it isn't an apology in her view?
posted by five fresh fish at 7:49 PM on October 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


No, seriously, I don't really care whether she is or is not hoaxing, and wish the idiot media storm would STFU.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:50 PM on October 17, 2009


Blargh. I was trying for that sarcastic toss-away snark effect. Blew it. I'll STFU instead.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:51 PM on October 17, 2009


That thread marks the first time I've used the "remove from activity" feature. I like the slow fadeout of the text. Nice work!
posted by EatTheWeak at 8:19 PM on October 17, 2009


Jessamyn is now fray-adjacent.
posted by adipocere at 8:29 PM on October 17, 2009


She hasn't always been Fray adjacent.
posted by dw at 9:32 PM on October 17, 2009


She feels that it's an apology, and has written that it is an apology. Who are you-all to say it isn't an apology in her view?

Because she's a fucking crazy liar person?
posted by xmutex at 9:54 PM on October 17, 2009


Man, parents sure are whinging bastards.
posted by koeselitz at 11:15 PM on October 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


Seriously. I don't mean crazy-mom-lady, because parents aren't usually like that (thank god) but that thread is full of so many people insisting that they'd inflict maximum carnage if it ever happened to their kid.
posted by koeselitz at 11:17 PM on October 17, 2009


Argh. This is metatalk, not the blue.

Just in terms of "what should be on MeFi" -- I totally buy Cortex's argument that it's not a moderator's place to comment on a poster's story. But can we at least have a way for a poster to point to ... important information that would would have been nice to know when the story was posted?
posted by effugas at 11:46 PM on October 17, 2009


OolooKitty: "as if one cannot be upset about the rape of a 13-year-old girl if one is not the parent of a 13-year-old girl...

Anyway, I've noticed a lot of this lately in various places, and I for one am getting massively sick of it.
"

Agreed. I don't have kids. My 15-year-old neighbor, whom I've known and babysat for since birth, well, I'd rip the head off anyone who laid a finger on her. I'm not a parent and I totally get it. A teacher once humiliated her in front of the class for an honest, non-harmful mistake she made (she forgot to lock her locker, and the teacher took all her stuff out and showed all her classes), and she came home crying. I was there to babysit. I was very close to calling the school and letting that teacher have it, but it was not my place so I left it for her mom to handle.

Apologies or fake apologies, this shitstorm sure got her a lot of attention and her blog on the radar.
posted by IndigoRain at 11:53 PM on October 17, 2009 [2 favorites]


On another note, weird to me is the number of "you have to be a mother (or father) to understand" comments. It's as if Victorian-era maternalist-feminism or whatever you want to call it took over that thread. "You'd have to have a kid to get it" seems old-fashioned and out of touch with the impulse for empathy expected in nearly every other facet of society. That rhetoric bothers me, but it could just be my problem (because I don't have kids).

This is one of the original details that really turned me off. Look, lady, I'm a human being and while not a parent, certainly have family (blood and chosen) and have had beloved children in my care. This sort of false "we parents against the rest of the world who can never understand" is frankly incredibly insulting.

Thus, I was not terribly surprised that she had misremembered. I was actually shocked that she'd almost utterly and completely fabricated the incident. I watched that whole damn boring footage waiting to see her child in the arms of a TSA agent for even a moment.
posted by desuetude at 1:11 AM on October 18, 2009 [3 favorites]


Ugh. That thread looks like something Shirley Jackson would write, if she were writing a digital-age blog-epistolary short story. Brutal.
posted by taz at 1:27 AM on October 18, 2009


Man, parents sure are whinging bastards.

My kids are whinging bastards too. That makes us even.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:21 AM on October 18, 2009


No. It's really funny and a funny part of the story.

It's kind of like making fun of someone who carries around an inhaler for their asthma. Which is to say: lame.
posted by the littlest brussels sprout at 4:45 AM on October 18, 2009


Her bizarre non-apology makes total sense to me in that she's obviously decided that what she thinks happened is what happened. So, to her, there are things being "left out" or misrepresented because she remembers things happening differently than what's shown on tape. Unfortunately, the tape is objective and memory isn't. I'm not saying she's lying - I've dealt with people who have had anxiety provoking experiences who remember them in this totally bizarre and twisted way and yeah, even if you showed them the experience on CCTV, they'd say you doctored it. So, yeah, I believe that whatever happened, it was anxiety provoking for her.

I also believe that outrage is a great way to get traffic to your blog, so, really, slam dunk for her. She's put herself in a position where she really can't back down now unless she wants to risk losing most of her readership who are now just as convinced as she is about this whole thing.

It's kinda sad that this is the case, but so it goes. Outrage always sells better than facts! Just look at the success of Fox News!

Anyhow, I think that this has gotten so much attention is the really sad part. It's like we as the "viewing public" need to get our outrage on and are always looking for the next target. Whenever I see this kind of thing on MetaFilter, it makes me pretty disappointed that we're getting off on outrage for no apparent reason other than "RAH! OUTRAGE!" One-link outrage-filter posts are, for me, truly the worst of MetaFilter. The discussion never, ever goes well and why would anyone expect it to? Why (honestly) do we post things just to get each other pissed off?
posted by grapefruitmoon at 6:40 AM on October 18, 2009 [3 favorites]


It probably has something to do with the Popcorn and Pitchforks Cabal (TINPaPC).
posted by Rhomboid at 7:39 AM on October 18, 2009

in terms of the TSA attempting to contact me and me not answering. that is false. i have received phone calls from reporters in annapolis and atlanta, as well as a representative from the TSA blog but not from anyone who works directly for the TSA. and as you can imagine, yes, i am screening my calls.
So, who does the TSA blog work for?
posted by cjorgensen at 8:10 AM on October 18, 2009


So, who does the TSA blog work for?

That's right, buddy, you show that turd who's boss.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:51 AM on October 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


She's put herself in a position where she really can't back down now unless she wants to risk losing most of her readership who are now just as convinced as she is about this whole thing.

On the internets, you can always find delusional followers.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:33 AM on October 18, 2009


One-link outrage-filter posts are, for me, truly the worst of MetaFilter. The discussion never, ever goes well and why would anyone expect it to? Why (honestly) do we post things just to get each other pissed off?

For me, they are actually pretty fun.
posted by jayder at 11:19 AM on October 18, 2009


"But can we at least have a way for a poster to point to ... important information that would would have been nice to know when the story was posted?"

You could wait a couple hours on posting breaking news, just to give the media a chance to cycle through once or twice. That way, you'd have more information, and maybe be able to avoid even making a post if it looked like the whole thing was a hoax.

Otherwise, the poster being known as a gullible dupe who fell for a hoax is really the best we've got, unless the post gets deleted.
posted by klangklangston at 11:25 AM on October 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


That's right, buddy, you show that turd who's boss.

Huh?
posted by cjorgensen at 11:31 AM on October 18, 2009


Otherwise, the poster being known as a gullible dupe who fell for a hoax is really the best we've got, unless the post gets deleted.

Who says the poster "fell for" it. It was an interesting story --- who knew if it was true or not? --- but posting it does not imply that the poster actually believed it or fell for it.

Kind of like that crazy-ass website the spurned suitor at Blue Cross Blue Shield Chicago put up. Nobody would suggest that the Metafilter user who posted that, actually believed there was any merit to the claims made by the spurned suitor. It was just an interesting situation.
posted by jayder at 12:00 PM on October 18, 2009


That's right, buddy, you show that turd who's boss.

Huh?


I assume he was referencing this.
posted by EarBucket at 12:08 PM on October 18, 2009


Who says the poster "fell for" it. It was an interesting story --- who knew if it was true or not? --- but posting it does not imply that the poster actually believed it or fell for it."

"Woman tries to go through metal detector at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson aiport with her infant son, only to have his pacifier set off the alarm. TSA did the only rational thing and took the woman's son "
posted by klangklangston at 12:14 PM on October 18, 2009


For me, they are actually pretty fun.

That was sort of obvious by your comments. Fun for you != fun for me.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:21 PM on October 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


That thread is still getting comments from people who think the TSA took her baby. I know you are very sensitive about this, but could you even open to consideration the idea of making an exception for this one post to post a [hoax] tag akin to a [nsfw] or some kind of update on the post?

The events as they are so diametrically opposed to the content of the post, and there are so many comments, confusion is going to reign for readers for a long time to come.
posted by fightorflight at 3:41 PM on October 18, 2009


how about the batshitinsane tag...
posted by iamabot at 3:47 PM on October 18, 2009


Metafilter: On the internets, you can always find delusional followers.
posted by iamabot at 3:47 PM on October 18, 2009


I'm sure I remember the word "hoax" with a link to the debunking comment attached to a previous post, back in the mists of time.
And yes, I agree it's really needed on this one. If nothing else, at least a "hoax" tag. Yet another person just weighed in on what a great lawsuit this woman has against the TSA. Sheesh.
posted by CunningLinguist at 3:48 PM on October 18, 2009


I know you are very sensitive about this, but could you even open to consideration the idea of making an exception for this one post

No. People can read. People can inform other people. We're not sensitive, we just won't edit a thread for content.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:48 PM on October 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


I actually thought someone had added the hoax tag already for some reason. I've tossed it up there, that I don't particularly mind, but like we've said we don't intend to edit the post content itself.

Folks whose sole source of information on the subject is a metafilter thread that they've declined to read are free to continue making themselves look a bit foolish by leaping righteously into the end of the thread.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:53 PM on October 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


We're not sensitive, we just won't edit a thread for content.
That's demonstrably not true, though. You edit thread content (by post removal) frequently, and with broad support for it.

I can understand not wanting to edit the post itself. Would you object if the OP asked? Updates to blog posts are virtually a universal standard these days, which is perhaps why people don't expect a major shift in the events being talked about to appear 200 comments into a 500-comment thread.

That length is also why I think the "people can read" thing is a bit rich. There are almost 50,000 words on that page. It's a NaNoWriMo-length novel! Reading that many words takes some people a considerable amount of time, and is a big investment. It's also unfair to mock them for not doing so. And "people can inform other people" is just an invitation to do that, or to layer on another level of derail. For all it is a policy dilemma, the consequences of "do nothing" make it seem like the worst of all the options, here.

Thanks for putting the tag on, Cortex. I don't know if many people read tags -- I know I don't -- but at least it's something.
posted by fightorflight at 4:05 PM on October 18, 2009


(Oh, and I don't think that the "sole source of information" dig really works here: the story hasn't had any traction on any of the other sites, blogs or news sites I read. MeFi isn't my sole source of info by a long, long shot but on this particular story, yes, it has been the only one I've seen anything on)
posted by fightorflight at 4:07 PM on October 18, 2009


You edit thread content (by post removal) frequently, and with broad support for it.

I guess it's like this: when you put a post up, with a few very clearly stated exceptions [NSFW tags, html fixes, obvious typo fixes] it's your baby. We may remove it [insert lulzy TSA joke here] entirely but we won't change anything in it without your express request and/or permission. Otherwise we're in totally slippery slope land as far as when we decide to step in. We're making value judgments about the way a post is written. As it stands all we're doing is making one judgement: is this a good post for metafilter? With a community this large it's important to have a bright line rule, and this is it.

This means that sometimes people will comment without having read the whole thread, and that people will sometimes have to spend time telling people who aren't reading the whole thread what salient points they should hav emissed. From our vantage point, even though this is a minor disadvantage, it's a way better disdvantage than having a situation where mods may change the wording or intent if your posts.

I really do understand why you think this is important, I hope you understand why we feel that our position is pretty important also.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:10 PM on October 18, 2009


Oh, absolutely, yes, I do understand (and support) the principle entirely: posts are under poster's names, and I do agree that it's really important that mods don't edit them for content. I'm sensitive about it myself.

I'll MeMail cgs and ask if he would think about asking you to update it for him. If he won't, no harm done.
posted by fightorflight at 4:16 PM on October 18, 2009


That's demonstrably not true, though. You edit thread content (by post removal) frequently, and with broad support for it.

We remove posts—and comments—wholesale when we've got a reason to think it's better for the post or comment to be deleted than left in place. We as a rule do not edit the content of posts and comments. That is the distinction we have been making here, and it's a pretty clear one.

What other edits we do consist of html/spelling fixes and gross formatting errors (e.g. no [more inside] break on a lengthy post), that sort of thing. Things independent of the content and substance of the post.

On those very rare occasions when we have edited the content of something, it has generally been a comment, generally for privacy reasons of some sort brought to us by either the commenter themselves or someone directly affected by the post content, and always* with the permission of the person who posted the original comment. What small precedent there is for us doing that kind of edit, something we remain in any case disinclined to do, doesn't really apply to the notion of adding editorial commentary to existing front page posts.

*I can recall one specific episode where we edited the snarky bullshit portion out of an otherwise apparently good-faith askme answer without first contacting the commenter. It turned into a giant metatalk shitstorm. Needless to say, it helped reinforce in our minds the usefulness of staying consistent about our usual policy on that front.

It's a NaNoWriMo-length novel! Reading that many words takes some people a considerable amount of time, and is a big investment.

No one is compelled to invest that time, though, or even to take the considerably smaller portion of time it'd take to skim through the thread and read a couple dozen of the most recent comments to see what the thread is actually about at the moment; but folks who don't want to do any of that and yet want to leap into the conversation aren't really holding up their end of the discursive bargain in any case and, no, we don't consider it either an obligation or a proper thing to do as mefi mods to edit posts just to make sure that sort of thing doesn't happen.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:17 PM on October 18, 2009


And I don't mean to come off spiky about this and wonder if I am a bit. It feels a bit like broken record stuff in this thread I guess, but while I've got fairly strong feelings about how we approach this and why I don't mean to bite anyone's head off about it.

I'll MeMail cgs and ask if he would think about asking you to update it for him. If he won't, no harm done.

For what it's worth, I feel like a second party prompting the poster as a way to ask us to edit something by proxy is kind of pushing outside the boundaries of the spirit of those limited circumstances where we do edit stuff, and as I said even those very limited cases basically never involve making some kind of addendum to an established front page post. So while I don't object to you having a conversation with cgs on the subject or anything, it's not something that I think is a particularly good way to approach what's already been basically a series of flat "no"s from us in this thread, especially with cgs not being active in this thread and thus being potentially drawn into a weird mix out of the blue without knowing the context.

Again, not going for too strident a tone here and I feel like my tone-meter might be a little off today, but it feels a little like an end-run around the conversation we've been having here and I want to acknowledge that feeling.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:25 PM on October 18, 2009


Again, not going for too strident a tone here and I feel like my tone-meter might be a little off today, but it feels a little like an end-run around the conversation we've been having here and I want to acknowledge that feeling.

Arg! No, am genuinely trying not to do that at all, and am really sorry if I seem like I'm trying to railroad you guys here. I totally understand the reasons you have for not wanting to edit posts -- I agree with them all, too. I think I was blinkered to the larger consequences site-wise when I first asked because I was focusing on the problems it's causing on that particular thread.

I only mailed cgs because it made perfect sense when Jessamyn said that you only consider requests from the posters themselves -- it seems like a good solution to the problem, and I can't see there being any larger objections to it, as long as it doesn't become commonplace or used to confuse. But I hadn't really known that you were amenable to that, and I doubted cgs would know either.

(To be honest, I am a little confused about whether or not you are amenable, now. It has been a series of flat "no"s so far like you say, but they seemed like flat "no"s to the idea of a mod editing a post's content without permission, not to the idea of a post ever being updated. If that is the objection, I admit I don't fully understand that: MeFi threads hang about for so long, and have such Google rank, that I think it would be a benefit to be able to correct big mistakes that emerge, in extreme circumstances, even if that has to be at the OP's request.)
posted by fightorflight at 4:53 PM on October 18, 2009


Yeah, I'm sorry if it's seemed like a maze or overly qualified. We're pretty flat no about it in general, and basically absolutely flat no about it as far as unilaterally taking our hands to other folks' content, but I think we've gotten in enough of a habit of accounting for the fact that there are multiple angles and odd bits of (precedent-setting or not, usually in our opinion not) exception cases in the history of the site that we tend to err on the side of over- rather than under-explaining.

So a sort of quickie restatement without some of the nuance, noting that it is precisely and only that:

1. We aren't going to edit someone's stuff without permission ever. Period. Asking us to edit someone else's post for content is a total no go.

2. We aren't in the habit of editing front page post for content or to make editorial corrections/updates to the thrust of a post, and it's not something that we're inclined to do no matter who does the requesting. It's not how the site has ever worked, and changing that now isn't something we see as being justified by the circumstances, odd and outlier-ish though they may be. That other blogs do it is more or less immaterial; our objection is not about what other sites do one but one of integrity of this site's practices; and we can understand why folks would suggest the move even if we don't feel inclined to execute it.
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:05 PM on October 18, 2009


Gotcha. I really appreciate the explanation, thanks.
posted by fightorflight at 5:08 PM on October 18, 2009


Jessamyn said that you only consider requests from the posters themselves

Yeah sorry I was glossing a little. There have been cases in the past where a poster has been like

- oh shit I misquoted a quote and everyone's getting on my ass
- oh shit I didn't put my quote in quotes and everyone's on my ass
- oh shit I didn't know porch monkey was a racial slur and now everyone's on my ass
- oh shit I mangled a link and sent everyone to my facebook page instead of the very impressive article I was hoping they'd read and now everyone's lulzing on my photo galleries

And we've stepped in to fix things. We have never done, to the best of my knowledge an "update:" type of addendum on a post. I can remember maybe one time where we may have added a note about hoaxing? Does this ring any bells with anyone?
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:01 PM on October 18, 2009


I can remember maybe one time where we may have added a note about hoaxing? Does this ring any bells with anyone?

Yeah, I dimly recall doing it one time, my recollection internally is one of having thrown my hands up and having done with it, but I can't remember what the situation was now or the topic of the post, or whether it was on the blue or the grey.

Along those lines, I can think of a couple times that I added a note to an epic, unusually world-visible metatalk thread once there was a mefi wiki page on the subject (Givewell, maybe BoingBoing/Violet Blue?), but again not really the same thing and more of a legitimate need in my view than this sort of thing.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:10 PM on October 18, 2009


"That's demonstrably not true, though. You edit thread content (by post removal) frequently, and with broad support for it."

I agree. The TSA kid post should be deleted.
posted by klangklangston at 6:27 PM on October 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


On another note, weird to me is the number of "you have to be a mother (or father) to understand" comments.

There's an explanation for that.

Was so sad when the story turned about to be false. I was in the midst of making plans to take my teenager on a flight, any flight, in helps that something like Nic's story might happen to me. Was even gonna stop by the ATM to get a few 20s to help the process. Or maybe that's my emergency cocaine talking.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:00 PM on October 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


I hate babies. My nieces keep having babies all over the place and are always telling me to look at them. "How come you don't visit to see the baby?" I know what babies look like and they look like something rendered in id Tech 4 and they smell of milk sick and I've heard them cry so hard that they choke and they have patches of eczema on their soft melon heads and sometimes I'm tempted to press down on their fontanelle and see if their beady little eyes goggle out of their sockets like an executive stress toy. And you know what else? You're not the only woman who has ever had sexual intercourse, conceived, carried, and given birth to an infant. Stop being so pregnant. I don't want to hold your stupid fucking baby. Jesus Christ.
posted by turgid dahlia at 7:07 PM on October 18, 2009 [5 favorites]


So it sounds like while there is precedent for editing posts, including updates (I wish I could find examples, but these aren't really ever marked in a consistent way), it's not going to be done here, despite how many people are being tricked into continuing to believe that the TSA stole this nut's child.

So maybe we could get the lead text on this post updated to remove unwittingly.
posted by Rendus at 7:12 PM on October 18, 2009


Maybe someone should just create a new FPP with the TSA link. That would stir up some fun, and technically it wouldn't be a double.
posted by alms at 7:19 PM on October 18, 2009


despite how many people are being tricked into continuing to believe that the TSA stole this nut's child.

Look, Metafilter can not save everyone from their own goddamn stupidity, ok?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:23 PM on October 18, 2009 [5 favorites]


it sounds like while there is precedent for editing posts, including updates

What? We've done it maybe once, in ten years and neither of us can remember doing it. Add another strongly worded comment to the end of the thread if you want to. I'm fairly certain we've never added an "update" to a MeFi post and I think we've only once mentioned that something was a hoax but I've just clicked through all the hoax tagged posts and I didn't find any edits above the folds.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:25 PM on October 18, 2009


I'm a little bit disturbed to be reading that so many people want a thread with over 500 posts deleted. While there is quite a lot in that thread that is over-the-top and outlandish, it has produced some worthwhile discussion and it is a record of the conversation. Is that thread representative of The Best of the Web? I have not found a more thorough and intelligent discussion of this matter anywhere else. Just because a subject is distasteful doesn't mean that valid discussions about the subject can't take place.

I do support the idea that an important update to a lively thread might need to be called out to avoid confusion. I completely agree that modifying an FPP or any comment is distasteful and to be avoided. Perhaps what is needed is something that does not yet exist: an administrative/moderator area that can be activated in cases like this.
posted by Revvy at 7:26 PM on October 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


>> Yeah, I dimly recall doing it one time
> So it sounds like while there is precedent for editing posts



Once is not a precedent.
posted by nomisxid at 7:57 PM on October 18, 2009


Once is not a precedent.
Sure it is.
posted by alms at 8:18 PM on October 18, 2009


"I'm a little bit disturbed to be reading that so many people want a thread with over 500 posts deleted."

Comments. Posts are what are on the front page. Comments are what's in 'em.

And seriously, you're "disturbed" that people would want a crap post deleted?

While there is quite a lot in that thread that is over-the-top and outlandish, it has produced some worthwhile discussion and it is a record of the conversation.

Metafilter can have a good discussion on just about any topic; good discussion does not justify bad links or posts. Conversely, Metafilter can have crappy discussions (or none at all) on good links. The discussion is secondary, and should not be used as a justification.

Is that thread representative of The Best of the Web? I have not found a more thorough and intelligent discussion of this matter anywhere else."

That doesn't change the answer of your question. No, it is not the best of the web.

"I do support the idea that an important update to a lively thread might need to be called out to avoid confusion. I completely agree that modifying an FPP or any comment is distasteful and to be avoided. Perhaps what is needed is something that does not yet exist: an administrative/moderator area that can be activated in cases like this."

So, in order to support more crappy posts on breaking news we should fundamentally alter a nigh-constitutional precept about how Metafilter functions?

No. Wrong.

We've had two emotionally-affecting hoaxes in two days, both with lots and lots of comments. I complained after the first one and got, well, it's a rarity, watcha gonna do? Two is enough for a trend piece in the NYT Style section.

This thread should have been deleted before it got to 500 comments; the balloon boy should have been deleted before it got as many comments as it has now.
posted by klangklangston at 8:40 PM on October 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Hah, Klang, I'm thinking balloon boy hits 2000 posts before its done. It's the gift that keeps on giving.
posted by empath at 8:53 PM on October 18, 2009


So, just because something is emotionally charged or a hoax it shouldn't be an FPP?

The post is the only thing that matters? Frankly, that's pretty limited. If that were really the case then why have comments at all? Why not just have a post-only MeFi and use MeTa for commenting?

And seriously, you're "disturbed" that people would want a crap post deleted?

No, I'm disturbed that they would be willing to throw out all of the comments with it and end some valuable discussion.

So, in order to support more crappy posts on breaking news we should fundamentally alter a nigh-constitutional precept about how Metafilter functions?

You overlook the possibility that a valuable (to you, I suppose) FPP might need updating, as well.

This thread should have been deleted before it got to 500 comments

I think you meant post.
posted by Revvy at 9:04 PM on October 18, 2009


One example of a MetaTalk thread about an edited post, wherein everyone freaks out. That might even be the point at which the policy was cast in stone.
posted by smackfu at 9:09 PM on October 18, 2009


"So, just because something is emotionally charged or a hoax it shouldn't be an FPP?"

Actually, what I was arguing was that "emotionally charged" isn't enough to justify an FPP, because that's too low a bar. But yes, I think hoaxes are generally bad for media, Metafilter and growing things. I'd have thought that self-evident.

"The post is the only thing that matters? Frankly, that's pretty limited. If that were really the case then why have comments at all? Why not just have a post-only MeFi and use MeTa for commenting?"

You know, when I write something like, "The comments are secondary," and you respond, "The post is the only thing that matters," I think, "I just wrote what I meant right there the first time. How weird that someone thumping the comments, comments, comments drum wouldn't bother to read my comment and respond like I meant what I wrote."

"No, I'm disturbed that they would be willing to throw out all of the comments with it and end some valuable discussion."

Well, you see, if FPPs aren't deleted, Metafilter will run out of electrons. By deleting the thread, the mods make it so that those comments not only no longer exist, but can never be made again, thus clearing space in the database. If not enough FPPs get deleted, Metafilter gets clogged and has jrun errors.

"You overlook the possibility that a valuable (to you, I suppose) FPP might need updating, as well."

If it was valuable to me, I might read the comments. Or use the magic of Google to somehow track down more information on what you hu-mans call the intarwebs.

"I think you meant post."

Uh, if I didn't think that thread and post could be used pretty interchangeably, I would have corrected you on it earlier.

(And that prior is now probably the nerdiest nerdlinger sentence that I have ever typed. I can't believe I'm even arguing about this. I got books to read.)
posted by klangklangston at 12:09 AM on October 19, 2009


the dingo people either say nothing because they have moved on, or become argumentative or sheepish depending on their ways

The dingo did take the baby. Just sayin'.
posted by flabdablet at 3:03 AM on October 19, 2009


On another note, weird to me is the number of "you have to be a mother (or father) to understand" comments.

I'd suggest being generous and reading comments such as this as actual parents offering their POV for a relevant situation involving children. When there's a bunch of people slamming a group or a person for a certain behavior (e.g., conflating walking children to school with completely sheltering a child), it's probably helpful to get input from actual members of that group as to what the motivation is behind this behavior. I'd think that sort of information would be a lot more helpful than judgement from afar.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:51 AM on October 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


I just read the [air-quotes] apology, and, wow, that lady has a lot of ads on her page.
posted by box at 5:35 AM on October 19, 2009


On another note, weird to me is the number of "you have to be a mother (or father) to understand" comments.

The problem with this, as has been pointed out in another thread, is if you say, "You have to be a parent," or gay, or black, a rape victim, a refugee, homeless, etc., to understand, what you really are saying is, "Your input isn't desirable because your position has already been discounted." This puts the person not in this group into the position of having to argue whether empathy is even possible. The reaction becomes, "What's the point in trying?" when the very people involved are saying you have to be one of them to get it?
posted by cjorgensen at 6:21 AM on October 19, 2009 [6 favorites]


Also, it's just basic "appeal to authority". You're wrong because you're not an expert on this like parents are.
posted by smackfu at 6:23 AM on October 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


I think that it's sometimes correct and sometimes not--there absolutely are some things that you need certain experiences to understand. It's an appropriate response in some situations, specifically situations where one's individual experiences are being discounted or dismissed.

I will never know what it's like to be black, so when someone says "hey, you're assuming things about my life and my experience that are not true, that's not what it's like" I'm willing to accept that.

Obviously there are times when it's used as a cudgel but I find it silly to dismiss it out of hand.
posted by kathrineg at 7:39 AM on October 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: we can not save you from your own goddamn stupidity.
posted by dnesan at 8:02 AM on October 19, 2009


I will never know what it's like to be black, so when someone says "hey, you're assuming things about my life and my experience that are not true, that's not what it's like" I'm willing to accept that.

That's not what's being talked about, katherineg, because of course that's fine. What's being talked about is "hey you're assuming things, that's not what it's like, you'll never be able to understand, so I am right and you are wrong and the discussion is closed".
posted by fightorflight at 8:06 AM on October 19, 2009


UPDATE: ALL OF US HAVE THE ABILITY TO MAKE EYE-CATCHING UPDATES TO POSTS IN THE COMMENTS SECTION.
posted by slogger at 10:57 AM on October 19, 2009


I'm wondering why they blur the video during the times she's actually being searched.

That's actually IRL: I think its a pilot program at ATL and a few other airports. Its kind of like the thinny from Stephen King's Dark Tower series. Original protocol was that the agent was supposed to be entirely within The Blur but there were concerns about groping, collusion, etc. Time drops away, the mind starts playing tricks -- suddenly arms and security wands appear from the ether and a sense that one is not lost inside infinity returns for a few moments before they disappear again. Its rather horrifying. I've heard of abuses where TSA agents left difficult screenees inside The Blur on a punitive basis, seen folks come out the other side who looked like their soul was sucked from them, but then that's most people traveling these days.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 11:51 AM on October 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm wondering why they blur the video during the times she's actually being searched.

Because if they hadn't, the mommyblogotwittersphere who got all het up about her original lies would have started all over again with a round of "ZOMG I can't believe the EVIL TSA STORMTROOPERS violated her right to privacy be showing video of her being subjected to an intimate search!"
posted by dersins at 12:27 PM on October 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


You know, if I libeled someone in a post on my blog, and was later proven to have done so, I think I'd make sure I updated the damn post to reflect I was wrong to have done so and corrected the facts as best as I could, then apologized to everyone involved. Just saying.

Look back at her original post and it's still all OMG I WANT MY BABY BACK! Sorry, but these are not the dingos you are looking for.

I'll probably get some flak for this, but I think this woman needs some time in jail. Libel, false accusation, disruption of services, etc. I'm not a lawyer, but I'm guessing there were some laws broken here. If even making bomb jokes are illegal around the TSA I'm thinking false accusation of child abduction and imprisonment probably are taken just as serious.

And yes, I will settle for professional help if people insist she not see jail time.
posted by cjorgensen at 1:05 PM on October 19, 2009


yes, jail for criticizing government agencies, how could that possibly go wrong
posted by kathrineg at 2:14 PM on October 19, 2009


Jail aside, you do know that there's a difference between criticism and making up outrageous lies, right?
posted by CunningLinguist at 2:22 PM on October 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


true, I mean government agencies will always give us all the information that we need to determine if criticism is valid
posted by kathrineg at 3:51 PM on October 19, 2009


I am getting a sarcasm brain freeze.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:08 PM on October 19, 2009 [3 favorites]


I think kathrineg is saying that the TSA is misleading us with this so-called "video evidence" they keep posting, and Nicole White has been telling the truth all along, and thus should suffer no punishment or other consequences because all she's doing is speaking truth to power.
posted by dersins at 4:29 PM on October 19, 2009


About the notion that parents have unique insight into the feelings of this woman because a child is involved...

The pendulum seems to have swung back to reactionary or at least Victorian attitudes about women and children. Back then, women = mother, child = precious bundle of innocence, and the bond between the two was unique and sacred. Ideas like that empowered middle class women in the late 19th century. Backing them up with "science" added an air of authority that reinforced the connection, at least in the Anglo-American (and Japanese) world.

Science and experience don't buttress compelling arguments for the preeminence of a mother's-- or anyone else's-- perspective. Cjorgenson and smackfu and others addressed this in part. I'd add that historically most kids died in industrializing and newly industrialized societies before their fifth birthday. In Northwestern Europe alone, historians argue about how much time and emotional energy parents invested in small children, the majority of whom would die before age five. The ones who survived entered the workforce at home or in the factory soon after that. Hell, the age of consent in New York was TEN for much of the 19th century. Mother (parent)/child bond = precious is not science, it's a cultural idea and a very recent, powerful one. Its grip over Metafilter's sophisticated readership surprised me.

It's surprising because some feminists fought hard against popular opinion (they also fought each other) in the 1960s and 1970s to change that kind of essentialist, simple-minded thinking. What about adopted children, single women, lesbians and the other people who didn't fall into categories that fulfilled biological imperatives? Call them what you will, but that generation of feminists did a good job of grappling with hard questions.

Today we have the "mommy blogosphere." Um, wow. The ethos of the mommy blogosphere echoes those old-timey attitudes about children; bodily functions and celebrity banter take the place of political engagement. At least the "mommy blogosphere" brings together women isolated in big houses, alone with their precious bundles of joy. Betty Friedan wrote about housewives of her generation who numbed dissatisfaction with valium and how they discovered they shared a latent sense of unease. But rather than coming together and developing political consciousness, Mommy Nic and her ilk seem happy enough with their wine, xanax and celebrity banter. I wonder what Friedan would say about the mommy bloggers. There doesn't really seem to be anything "there" beyond narcissism and entitlement. Cheers, Nic!
posted by vincele at 5:11 PM on October 19, 2009 [8 favorites]


Are we able to make eye-catching updates to posts in the comments section?
posted by fightorflight at 5:21 PM on October 19, 2009


I'll probably get some flak for this, but I think this woman needs some time in jail. Libel, false accusation, disruption of services, etc. I'm not a lawyer, but I'm guessing there were some laws broken here. If even making bomb jokes are illegal around the TSA I'm thinking false accusation of child abduction and imprisonment probably are taken just as serious.

You think someone deserves jail time for histrionic and hyperbolic ranting at the TSA? Ooof, I think a whole lot of people would be in trouble. (Including all those who characterized TSA workers as generally moronic, evil goons in the blue, eh?)

Now, if she had brought a police report against the agents for kidnapping, that would be a criminally false statement. If she were to bring a suit of emotional cruelty against the TSA, it likely be considered frivolous. Ranting on her blog? Meh. That's up there with telling an exaggerated story at a party.
posted by desuetude at 5:25 PM on October 19, 2009


dersins: "I think kathrineg is saying that the TSA is misleading us with this so-called "video evidence" they keep posting, and Nicole White has been telling the truth all along, and thus should suffer no punishment or other consequences because all she's doing is speaking truth to power."

I am saying that it is stupid to want government agencies to have more power to harass and threaten people who say shit they don't like

Yes, even if that shit it super insane

Example: the FBI already harasses and photographs peaceful protesters and does other creepy shit like infiltrate quaker activist meetings. Now imagine that the same people have the power to either jail you or sue you for cash money if you are critical of their policies or procedures.
posted by kathrineg at 5:53 PM on October 19, 2009


Now imagine that the same people have the power to either jail you or sue you for cash money if you are critical of their policies or procedures.

Wait...what? You mean the fake stuff she made up that they don't do in the first place?
I mean if she was critical of their policies, people probably would have just shrugged and said welcome to the party. She took a step beyond that and outright claimed kidnapping. But, yeah, she only claimed it happened which isn't illegal it just makes her full of shit. Really, if government agencies acted upon every false claim about them, the streets would be clean of schizophrenics.
posted by P.o.B. at 6:29 PM on October 19, 2009


I think kathrineg was responding specifically to the "I hope she gets jailtime" notion, not to an abstract assessment of the system as it currently exists.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:38 PM on October 19, 2009


Argh. This was not meant to be another thread about the subject.

Bottom line, I think I agree with the concept that mods shouldn't be editing people's posts. But I do think posters have an obligation to update posts -- you know, like every other blog does -- if obviously important information shows up. I remain of the opinion that MeFi should make that technically easier, but there doesn't seem to be much interest in even responding to the concept. OK.
posted by effugas at 8:00 PM on October 19, 2009


there doesn't seem to be much interest in even responding to the concept.

I assume you mean by people other than the mods? Because we've been pretty chatty about why this is something that we think is 1) rarely needed and 2) a huge change to how the site works that we're not that psyched about because of #1.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:15 PM on October 19, 2009


The TSA turned me and my baby into a newt!



we got better
posted by tkchrist at 8:18 PM on October 19, 2009


jessamyn--

Posters should have the ability to issue an additive update to their own posts. This is a ridiculously common thing on the rest of the web:

http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/2009/10/palin_2012_ftw.php
http://it.slashdot.org/story/09/10/08/2022211/Comcasts-War-On-Infected-PCs-Or-All-Customers
http://www.boingboing.net/2009/10/16/history-is-comedy.html
http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2009/10/19/794586/-Moodys-Blues
http://www.bluehampshire.com/diary/8499/refreshing
http://www.bluecommonwealth.com/diary/1409/deeds-and-former-pres-bill-clinton-in-mcclean-tomorrow

You've argued at length that you don't want to be in the position of making those updates, and I think I agree with you. But you've been silent re: whether users themselves should be able to make updates a la the rest of the web.
posted by effugas at 3:53 AM on October 20, 2009


I am glad that people can't edit posts.

I spend too much time on Livejournal where people screencap things religiously because people edit every time someone says something they don't like.
posted by kathrineg at 4:59 AM on October 20, 2009


katherineg--

Agreed on *editing* posts. Just saying it'd be good to be able to add updates, like everyone everywhere else.
posted by effugas at 5:06 AM on October 20, 2009


effugas writes "Posters should have the ability to issue an additive update to their own posts. This is a ridiculously common thing on the rest of the web:"

This isn't a compelling argument for editing (and it may be an argument against). Taking the ridiculously common thing metric Metafilter should have Threading or Avatars or Disemvoweling or Voting.
posted by Mitheral at 6:33 AM on October 20, 2009


It's been pretty clearly implicit—users can't now and we haven't said boo about changing that—but I'll be explicit about it: we are not interested in engineering in a method for folks to do post-hoc editing of the substance of their posts, no. That, too, would be a significant change to how this place operates, again in service of a very rare kind of situation and one that is generally an outlier content-wise (breaking news coverage).
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:37 AM on October 20, 2009


I'll let the other mods chime in if they want. I thought I was clear that changing the way the site works to create a post editing/updating mechanism is a large change in site dynamics and one that we don't see a real pressing need for. The fact that there have been posts this week that people argue could have benefited from updates doesn't really tip the scales into "WE NEED THIS" territory to me. I realize you feel strongly about this and I feel that I understand your arguments but I'm not seeing a groundswell of "we need this feature" from others either.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:41 AM on October 20, 2009


I think it would be a good feature to be able to supplement your own posts by adding clearly delineated new sections. Not edit. It does come up quite often that people post better supplemental links or info in the comments and it would be nice to be able to roll them back into the main post. It would make the site better.
posted by smackfu at 6:55 AM on October 20, 2009


(Because I don't want the mods to think effugas is the only one who wants this.)
posted by smackfu at 6:56 AM on October 20, 2009


You think someone deserves jail time for histrionic and hyperbolic ranting at the TSA?

Whatever the appropriate punishment is for false accusations, refusal to print a retraction, and continuing to perpetuate falsehood. If this is a fine...then fine. Someone had to pull the tapes, write up a response, and try to call this woman. This takes time and resources. Accusations like this also tarnish the reputation of a organization.

Even when the TSA is solidly in the right you see people writing, "But what about all the times they don't post tape?" And, "They blurred stuff. They obviously did something bad to her like undressed her in public!"

It's little different that pulling a fire alarm or claiming your kid floated away in a balloon.

I believe in free speech, but also believe there has to be repercussions for incorrect speech.
posted by cjorgensen at 7:03 AM on October 20, 2009


I don't think we'll ever agree with this because I think that the reputation of a federal agency is wholly insignificant in comparison to our relative freedom to criticize said agency. There is an enormous power imbalance between some random person and a government agency and there is no need to tip that balance further in their favor.
posted by kathrineg at 7:07 AM on October 20, 2009


How does requiring accusations to be true affect the balance of power at all?

If I put up a blog claiming that the police are more likely to kill you that help you, say that I was assaulted when pulled over, and threatened by the police, and it's all a lie, why should that stand? It may make someone who reads my site decide that pulling over for the cops might not be a good idea.

Presumably the TSA has a real job to do. Being forced to defend itself from the tinfoil hatted mommy blogger shouldn't have to be part of this. Some amount of money has gone into this hoax. I don't get why a person should be able to do this with impunity, but then I also don't get why she lacks the basic decency to print a retraction and apologize.

I'd rather the criticisms of individuals or agencies be valid and constructive.
posted by cjorgensen at 8:03 AM on October 20, 2009


I know I'm late to the party, but reading the non-apology I was struck by the way she managed to use the shift-key to write "TSA" in uppercase without bothering to capitalise anything else. I don't want to read too much into that, but in my mind, that all feeds into the crazy.
posted by ob at 8:31 AM on October 20, 2009


Even at this late date, we're seeing people come into that thread ranting about how awful TSA is for abusing this woman.

Can't we get the word "[hoax]" appended to the post?
posted by five fresh fish at 9:28 AM on October 20, 2009


I believe in free speech, but also believe there has to be repercussions for incorrect speech.

This is a terrible idea because of the massively chilling effect. Who's going to risk a fine or jail time because of their "incorrect" speech? In most cases, the government, as the more powerful actor, is going to control the information needed to prove or disprove an incorrect notion. People should always be able to air their grievances against a government, even ones that turn out to be false. I think this is true even when the falsehood is intentional (barring false police reports, fire in a crowded theater type situations that are already covered under the law), because of the aforementioned chilling effect. Can you imagine good faith efforts to expose government wrongdoing being prosecuted as intentional falsehoods? Because I can.

None of that even addresses how damaging your idea would be to people who have mental illnesses that cause delusions. I can't really explain why I feel this way about Nic, but I think she believed what she wrote. Her story is obviously not true, and she seems like a nightmare to know, but I'm not convinced at all that she sat down one day and decided to concoct this story. Maybe it's her non-apology. People I've known with delusions hold onto them despite all evidence to the contrary. But, even if this was a purposeful hoax on her part, fining or jailing her seems really excessive.
posted by Mavri at 9:54 AM on October 20, 2009


Can't we get the word "[hoax]" appended to the post?

Jesus effin' xanax --- IT IS APPENDED TO THE POST!
posted by jayder at 9:55 AM on October 20, 2009


You mean it's a tag. And tags aren't shown on the front-page.
posted by smackfu at 10:03 AM on October 20, 2009


"How does requiring accusations to be true affect the balance of power at all?"

Because the power to decide what is true and what isn't is one that is likely going to be applied for the benefit of institutional interests to the detriment of the public.

Should Dan Rather go to jail over the National Guard documents that he claimed were real?

This is all sort of academic—there are laws against filing a false police report, and a first amendment to protect idiotic blog speech.
posted by klangklangston at 10:17 AM on October 20, 2009


Can the people who want to argue about government power go do it in the thread and leave this for a discussion of whether or not it's ever appropriate to update a misleading FPP?
posted by CunningLinguist at 10:19 AM on October 20, 2009


I think that updating the post (at the top of the page, I mean, which is what a lot of people here who think that's a good idea seem to be suggesting) is as useful as adding a tag or adding update(s) further down the thread, which is to say, not very. It's evident in many, many threads that people don't even read the link(s); lots of people clearly don't even read the [more inside]. Instead, they read the first umpteen comments and hop in based on what people are saying, not based on what the links say (I've done this too).
posted by rtha at 10:30 AM on October 20, 2009


Maybe it's because my job is starting to suck, and I have all kinds of privileges like not having to wear a uniform or be on my feet at all if I so choose, and not having to deal with people I don't know, but these "I screamed and yelled at TSA agents" anecdotes are pissing me off. Stormpooper didn't read the whole thread either. I don't think she even read a little of the thread. Stormpooper just added one where she tells TSA that the appropriate punishment for their reacting to her husband's taunting them about not knowing what diving equipment looks like is TWO WEEKS WITHOUT PAY because they don't know if she has military family or what her heritage is or whatever.

Two weeks of my pay = 1/2 rent money for us in DC. And I don't have to commute for fuckteen hours a day to the airport from some shitty town.
posted by anniecat at 11:08 AM on October 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


Can the people who want to argue about government power go do it in the thread and leave this for a discussion of whether or not it's ever appropriate to update a misleading FPP?

Because this has already been resolved. The answer is no.
posted by cjorgensen at 11:29 AM on October 20, 2009


At the risk of being perceived as defending the mean, jackbooted Metafilter moderators, I don't understand why we are still talking about updating the post.

I have never seen a more infantile display of not-taking-no-for-an-answer on Metafilter as I have seen in this thread.

The answer is no. Why is that not registering with some people?
posted by jayder at 12:32 PM on October 20, 2009


To be honest, that comment by jader really annoys me and is symbolic of what is wrong with MetaTalk. It's just such an escalation over the existing rather civil discussion. Hyperbole like "never seen before"? Check. Calling people names like "infantile"? Check. Implying other people think the mods are jackbooted? Check.

Was that really necessary?
posted by smackfu at 12:47 PM on October 20, 2009 [3 favorites]


"I don't like that man. I must get to know him better." -Abraham Lincoln

I think that fits a lot of the comments back and forth.

Anniecat, sorry I pissed you off. Neither of us know our situation and are going on assumptions and/or personal experiences.
posted by stormpooper at 2:55 PM on October 20, 2009


jayder writes "The answer is no. Why is that not registering with some people?"

Obviously because the people who want this to happen don't read the comments in the thread. Cortex would need to update the post telling all these johnny come latelies that the issue has been decided authoritatively.
posted by Mitheral at 3:51 PM on October 20, 2009


Stormpooper (this is the trouble with usernames; it sounds like I'm calling you a bad name), you specifically didn't piss me off. I think it was lame of you and others to be so hypocritical in the discussion. The general theme for the anti-TSA crowd has been that, "Overprotective moms are all perfect and wonderful and wouldn't possibly ever lie, whereas TSA agents with proof are all a bunch of stupid, intellectually inferior drones who deserve to be abused by the general public." How does this even help anybody?

Furthermore, it looks as if you added an anecdote which didn't happen as you said it did because ericb pointed out that TSA didn't exist on the date that your alleged incident with TSA took place. So that's strange and ridiculous.

But I guess this is what comes with the internet. Plenty of somewhat anonymous folks can claim the TSA harassed and abused them, and then tell some exaggerated story about how they had no choice but to kick the agents' asses and stand up to authority like they are some kind of hero, when they are boring and ridiculous and in desperate need of dramatic situations in their lives, and the only way to do that is to create a situation in which they are the victim.
posted by anniecat at 4:25 PM on October 20, 2009 [2 favorites]


jayder--

There's a lot of noise in this thread. Ultimately though, the discussion has mostly summarized down to:

"Er, shouldn't we be able to correct for this stuff?"
"No, we're not as moderators wading into that pool of crap."
"You're right. That *is* a pool of crap. But can't at least original posters do this, like every other site?"
"We *really* don't want to do this as moderators."
"Oh, I understand. But what about original posters?"
"Ah. No. Every other site has stupid stuff, and this problem doesn't come up enough for us to make what could be a major cultural shift in the way Metafilter works. It's not enough of a problem yet, mainly because we're really not a breaking news site."

As far as I'm concerned, it's a reasonable argument that this problem doesn't come up enough to justify a change that could potentially have extensive and difficult to predict side effects. I may not entirely agree, but at least the request has been considered and rejected, which it hadn't been earlier. If this problem gets more severe, perhaps this can be revisited.

So, uh, go take your asshattery somewhere else. You too, Mitheral.
posted by effugas at 4:45 PM on October 20, 2009


(And thanks, smackfu.)
posted by effugas at 4:46 PM on October 20, 2009


Yeah, I think that it's not just that the need for an update field (from the original poster) seems relatively low, but that the potential for abuse is awfully high. I can imagine a lot of OP-In-A-Bit-Of-A-Snit situations wherein they use the update line to say things like DON'T BOTHER TO COMMENT UNLESS YOU RTFA!!1! or PLEASE DON'T DERAIL - THIS DISCUSSION IS ABOUT FOO!!

You get the picture. On the other hand, if it were actually used in a responsible way, I could see it being very useful not only for situations like this in which the original story is false or incomplete, but also for a lot of those updates to older posts (significant new news follow-ups) that often get posted here at MetaTalk for lack of a better system. So, it's kind of a shame, but I don't see how it could be implemented successfully unless all updates were vetted by mods first... which, again, some people would still use just to blow off steam. Pity.
posted by taz at 3:07 AM on October 21, 2009


taz--

I dunno. Seems strange to me to be more paranoid about bad updates to a post, than the post itself. I mean, the whole magic of Metafilter is you can post anything to the site with no delay or moderator approval whatsoever, and it still works.
posted by effugas at 5:32 AM on October 21, 2009


Well, when creating a post, most people try for something they think will be interesting and suitable, that they hope will be well-received, but once comments are underway it's not uncommon to see some posters becoming defensive/aggressive/exasperated, sometimes matching comment for comment as though they need to personally respond to every criticism or less than enthusiastic response. In that sort of situation, I imagine the temptation to make some kind of declaration via update might be strong. When people initially post, I think their attitude is usually constructive, but in the heat of discussion many tend to become more reckless and less wise.
posted by taz at 6:07 AM on October 21, 2009


Yet another person just arrived in that thread to opine about the TSA's actions without reading the expose buried in the comments. I really think it might be worth a single, just-this-once-and-damnit-never-again addition to this post of the word hoax, maybe with a question mark, linked to the TSA video or the comment linking the TSA video.


taz is right about abuse if the procedure were changed. I know that I might have been tempted, in some of my, um, less well-received posts, to make defensive changes based on derisive comments.
posted by CunningLinguist at 8:39 AM on October 21, 2009


Just reply and tell them they're wrong, politely. We're not updating the post.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:44 AM on October 21, 2009


So, did the TSA ever give that crazy woman her baby back?
posted by Floydd at 9:02 AM on October 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


10-4.
posted by CunningLinguist at 10:01 AM on October 21, 2009


I really think it might be worth a single, just-this-once-and-damnit-never-again addition to this post of the word hoax, maybe with a question mark, linked to the TSA video or the comment linking the TSA video.

I don't see how confusion about whether the TSA literally walked off with her kid is such vital knowledge that it warrants an FPP update.

If there were a hugely significant update for some sort of very influential bit of news, I'd be more concerned -- that the [world leader] was murdered but it turns out to be a close call, that [planet] was destroyed by Martians but it turned out to be a hoax, that [country] and [country] are reported to be at war but it turns out diplomacy arrived in the nick of time, etc.

I find the "remove from activity" button handy in cases of FPPs where the discussion is no longer fulfilling.
posted by desuetude at 10:39 AM on October 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


des--

So a fraud is OK to perpetuate if the victim is just the faceless, disliked TSA?
posted by effugas at 5:06 PM on October 21, 2009


Nope, but that's not what is happening. The story has been outed as a hoax several times in the thread. The first within three hours of the post being made. And cgs has added the hoax tag. The only people this is getting now is the TL;DR crowd who can't be arsed to read three hours worth of comments on a five day old post.

I think it's better for MetaFilter that these people be made to look foolish. It'll curb the TL;DR idiocy that is all to common on any thread of substantial size.
posted by Mitheral at 7:18 AM on October 22, 2009


MetaFilter: It's better for people to look foolish?
posted by effugas at 8:04 AM on October 22, 2009


So a fraud is OK to perpetuate if the victim is just the faceless, disliked TSA?

I don't think that her blog post meets a reasonable definition of "fraud," given that she had no established credibility or authority in the first place. (Even before the release of the video.) By this definition, anyone who exaggerates when recounting a negative experience is perpetuating fraud?

Characterization of the TSA as a "victim" implies that they actually suffered specific harm. Again, I don't think that this threshold has been met. Complaints, including baseless accusations, are an expected part of being a government agency.

Anyway, my indifference has absolutely nothing to do with whether or not the TSA is faceless or disliked. It's that the details of one woman's frustration going through the security checkpoint at an airport are just not that terribly fucking important. Even if the TSA agents HAD walked off with her kid, I still wouldn't find this incident to be individually that important, though it would be an important data point in the larger issue of how the United States is handling security and the politics of security.
posted by desuetude at 10:36 AM on October 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


By this definition, anyone who exaggerates when recounting a negative experience is perpetuating fraud?

thank you, desuetude, this is what has been bothering me. I have friends who sort of make up stories about half of what happens to them... they are perfectly good and honest people, really, but for whatever reason, they seem to automatically invent stuff; they fill out real-life events to make them more dramatic or interesting. The first time I met someone like this, it took me some time to figure it out, but eventually I got to the point where I would listen patiently and then sometimes say stuff like, "oh, that sounds awful! But what did you/he/she really say/do?"

Sometimes people I've known snap out of story-mode when confronted - but sometimes they just seem to convince themselves that it happened the way they told the story, however unlikely... and however glaring it is that "here's yet another unlikely event in a long, long series of unlikely events!". If they had blogs, they would probably write stuff like the TSA thing. All the time.

But I never felt they should be reamed and spackled about it. You just get to know who is completely reality-based, and who isn't, and you can still love your friend and enjoy his stories without believing every "I said"/"He said" narrative. That's real life.

And then there are blogs. There is no reason a blog should be taken any more seriously than a random friend recounting a possibly heavily embroidered story, but they are. And in equal measure to how silly it is to take every blog tale for DEEPLY SERIOUS, people want the punishment for them being fooled by a blog post to be DEEPLY SERIOUS.

It's a blog (by someone you don't know from Adam). It's not the news. It's not your elected representative. It's not police/government/university/official organization. It's somebody's blog. Like somebody's diary. How many people would take a diary entry as being 100% fact-based?

We need to be more discerning and careful, is all. We don't need to crucify this person because the whole internet was ridiculously naive. We need to be smarter about what we accept as information. Just like in real life.
posted by taz at 2:32 PM on October 22, 2009


desuetude--

Heh, I'll totally accept "this isn't enough of a problem" as a reason not to make significant changes to the way MetaFilter works, but:

1) So, it doesn't count because it's just some woman on the Internet?
2) So, it doesn't count because the TSA should just be used to it by now?
3) So, it doesn't count because, heh, who cares about the government taking your kids away anyway?

I'd hate to hear what else you could rationalize.
posted by effugas at 2:50 PM on October 22, 2009


taz,

Let me turn this around a bit.

Lets say you're sitting there, working at Starbucks. And all of the sudden, some woman blogs "Heh! I went to Starbucks today, and this Taz character just refused to serve me unless I, AND I QUOTE, lifted my shirt and jiggled my breasts! I'm never going to Starbucks again!"

Now imagine her blog post gets picked up by MetaFilter.

Unless there's video, you're probably getting fired. True or not, it's just easier to fire you.

Some poor woman at TSA could have gotten fired over this completely made up tale. This isn't some kind of "I once caught a fish this big" story. There are consequences.

Frankly, she owes MetaFilter an apology for using us to amplify her fraud. Maybe she can "look into that" too, after she gets around to actually apologizing to the woman she tried to publicly pillory.

Hell, the TSA woman could have been charged with kidnapping and abusing color of authority, criminally. That's screwed up, and it's sad MetaFilter got dragged into it.
posted by effugas at 2:59 PM on October 22, 2009


It doesn't count because she's not in a position of power over TSA and is, in fact, not threatening them in any way since, you know, her story doesn't seem to be true. Crazy people make claims all the time; there's a fact-finding process (and a legal system) that is available to her and to TSA should they want to make use of it. Fraud is a legal technical term that the TSA is more than welcome to go after that woman for. However, they probably won't because they know she's just a person on the internet. They responded in a way that seemed appropriate. She responded in a way that made her seem less-than-honest. And we move forward knowing a little more about her and a little more about TSA and a little more about how much people trust the things they read ,and how much they read the comments on MetaFilter.

As taz said "We need to be smarter about what we accept as information. Just like in real life."
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:59 PM on October 22, 2009


And maybe a bit smarter about what we post to MeFi. A single blog post does not a good post make.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:28 PM on October 22, 2009


jessamyn--

Was Balloon Boy fraud?
posted by effugas at 6:08 PM on October 22, 2009


Heh, I'll totally accept "this isn't enough of a problem" as a reason not to make significant changes to the way MetaFilter works, but:

1) So, it doesn't count because it's just some woman on the Internet?
2) So, it doesn't count because the TSA should just be used to it by now?
3) So, it doesn't count because, heh, who cares about the government taking your kids away anyway?

I'd hate to hear what else you could rationalize.


Currently, I'm working on my rationalization of dignifying this with a response. I'm working on something in the neighborhood of "well, I'm finally over my sinus infection, last night the Phillies won the pennant, and my sexy new tights arrived from Sock Dreams a day early, so I'm feeling pretty indulgent at the moment."

And I'm absolutely riveted to find out how else you will streeetch my words into inflammatory interpretations complete with intimations of sexism and persecution. Which seriously, are a figment.

It's a blog post, and has all the weight of gossip at a party, regardless of the gender of the author. No children were actually kidnapped. Nothing of note actually happened.
posted by desuetude at 6:21 PM on October 22, 2009


It seems likely that Balloon Boy was some kind of fraud, because the family intentionally misused official channels for private gain when they called 911. TSA Mom only told a made-up story on the Internet, one that she apparently believed herself. No intent plus no misuse of anything but her own blog on the Internet equals no fraud.
posted by scalefree at 6:27 PM on October 22, 2009


What about the part where she's trying to pitch her make-believe story as a journalistic work? Is that not fraudulent?
posted by five fresh fish at 7:14 PM on October 22, 2009


Pitch it to who, her Twitter followers or her fellow mommy bloggers? I'm pretty sure she's folded her tent and left.
posted by fixedgear at 7:27 PM on October 22, 2009


jessamyn -- Was Balloon Boy fraud?

Looks like it.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:29 PM on October 22, 2009


one that she apparently believed herself.

Why are people trying to prop her story up with some kind of explanation other than a complete intentional fabrication? If you want to believe she believed ,then fine, but quit acting as if that is true. It's about as true as me spouting off she's batshitinsane, which is probably closer to the truth then random ideas on why she told her lies.

Anyway, I'm curious if naked guy in window is a hoax? That would be the Metafilter trifecta for news.
posted by P.o.B. at 7:43 PM on October 22, 2009


acting = stating
posted by P.o.B. at 7:44 PM on October 22, 2009


If you want to believe she believed ,then fine, but quit acting as if that is true. It's about as true as me spouting off she's batshitinsane, which is probably closer to the truth then random ideas on why she told her lies.

If you believe things happened to you that didn't happen, I think that's pretty much the definition of batshitinsane. How are we saying different things?
posted by scalefree at 8:25 PM on October 22, 2009


Because I didn't state she was, nor I do necessarily think that she flat out is. I think coming up with a reason or saying "she believed her events of what happened" is giving credence and leeway (and an out) where none is deserved.
posted by P.o.B. at 8:37 PM on October 22, 2009


Sounds like some of the mommy bloggers are upset with their friend Nic.
posted by anniecat at 7:48 AM on October 23, 2009


annie--

That is awesome.
posted by effugas at 1:46 PM on October 23, 2009


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