Metafilter: a short, descriptive title March 7, 2010 5:26 AM   Subscribe

Pony Request: A book of great metafilter comments.

The sidebar is chock full of great comments, as are the popular favorites and collections like this one. Most of these comments are stand-alone, they don't require a specific thread for context. Why not collect and publish the best-of-Metafilter over the last ten years?

Obviously, the authors retain their copyright, but if you ask them *real nice* maybe they'd let you include a version of those comments in a Metafilter Best-of collection.

Upside: great writing gets publicized widely.

Downside: profit and popularity.

Probably the threat of a flood of money and new members is enough to stop this project in its tracks, but I thought I'd suggest it.

(Look, if a blog about cooking can get a movie deal and an Oscar nod, there's a book or two in all this.)
posted by anotherpanacea to MetaFilter-Related at 5:26 AM (64 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

Sit Down, Stand Up: The Metafilter Bathroom Companion
posted by infinitefloatingbrains at 6:05 AM on March 7, 2010 [7 favorites]


I think this would be a great and thing to do and would love to design such a book. Hell, do it a digital book and make it freely available to the community.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:20 AM on March 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Done.
posted by headnsouth at 6:33 AM on March 7, 2010


I'm still waiting on that illustrated compendium of sixcolors comments.
posted by mintcake! at 6:40 AM on March 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


Done.
posted by headnsouth


your link is obviously borked.
posted by gman at 6:42 AM on March 7, 2010


Pastabagel's comment about how men are "boring" is a must.
posted by Melismata at 6:53 AM on March 7, 2010


robocop is bleeding's The Wheel needs to be in anything of this nature.
posted by allkindsoftime at 7:14 AM on March 7, 2010


Taters.

sincerely,
todd lokken
posted by fixedgear at 7:17 AM on March 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


There's this.
posted by bluefly at 7:18 AM on March 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Why not? Because it's a shit-ton of work. You'd have to contact every author individually and wait for a reply, and keep track of who has replied yet or not. And then you'd have to figure out whether to edit a comment for typos or length, and whether provide an introductory framing to provide context or just leave it be. All of those edits would need individual approval and some people wouldn't want their typos in print but others don't want their words dicked with. If you're letting people edit the comments then some would want to reword their arguments slightly or perhaps remove some personal details and then you get into a whole thing of whether a book is really genuine if the comments have been worked over. All in all when you're done you'd have a lot of random stories that don't have anything to do with each other and possibly contain lots of in-jokes or unwritten context so then you have to find some way to weave them together. If you were actually making a book then you'd have to then talk about money, compensation, written contracts, due diligence to make sure nothing was plagiarized/cribbed from other authors, and probably a bunch of other random boring junk.
posted by Rhomboid at 7:24 AM on March 7, 2010


If you were actually making a book then you'd have to then talk about money, compensation, written contracts, due diligence to make sure nothing was plagiarized/cribbed from other authors, and probably a bunch of other random boring junk.

Good thing we've got a whole section of the site devoted to finding folks who are willing to exchange their labor for cash money!
posted by anotherpanacea at 7:38 AM on March 7, 2010


A lot of the comments need context in order for them to make sense, so we'd end up having to print the entire thread, or do mini summaries before each comment: "and then, the Whelk said something like this, to which Cortex said this, until so and so laid down this little gem: . . ."
posted by Think_Long at 7:51 AM on March 7, 2010


Downside: profit and popularity.

anything but that!
posted by jonmc at 8:05 AM on March 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'd love to see such a book. I volunteer anything I've written here, though I doubt I've been around here long enough to have many book-worthy comments. Maybe for the sequel.
posted by Rory Marinich at 8:18 AM on March 7, 2010


Someone could certainly in theory go through the effort of contacting everybody involved to secure rights to use their comments in a new publication. Like a couple people have suggested, it would be an awful lot of work, and there's a good chance that aside from the question of people being willing to grant that permission (I imagine a lot would, and I imagine a few might not) there'd be a lot of frustration in just not being able to get ahold of many of the original commenters at all.

It's one of those things where the idea is nice but I think it needs to be a lot more than just a nice idea, and somebody has to be really deeply invested in the idea of throwing months of work at the project, for it to have a chance of turning into something concrete. And that's not accounting for the question of who such a book would be for, what it would be about, why it would be interesting to encounter in book form, etc.

I love metafilter to death and believe it is a very good place to spend time conversing with smart, clever, funny people, etc, but that doesn't automatically translate to Successful Book.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:22 AM on March 7, 2010


The MetaFilter Book.
posted by fixedgear at 8:43 AM on March 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Here are some sidebarred comments from the last three months that would fit into a variety of short non-fiction I've read recently:

"You just don't expect a career you spent a lifetime learning to just go."

"I used to work at Hooters."

"Some years ago I needed to talk to [Hunter] Thompson for an article...."

"never go into the wilderness without either some tampons and a lighter or a flashlight and always take your cell phone. If things get really bad, hope someone rescues you."

"Mrs. S... Your child described reproduction to another child today and used the words 'penis' and 'vagina'..."
"Ok. What's the problem?"


"I'm a federal employment lawyer. Let me explain exactly how [Blackwater being cleared of guilt] happened."

That's from three months.

1. Pick say 300 great comments.
2. Email the authors. Let's say 50% opt out.
3. Organize the remaining 150 comments somehow: by theme, or date, or style.
4. Ask each moderator to write a short introduction to the site.
5. Find a publisher. Actually, find an agent, then they'll find a publisher.
6. Profit Give the proceeds to Oxfam, Doctors without Borders, the Clinton-Bush Haiti relief fund, or a Metafilter scholarship, or whatever you like. Split the profits between the mods. Whatever.

Speaking of "Whatever," Metafilter's own jscalzi has managed to turn two collections of his blog entries into published non-fiction: You're Not Fooling Anyone When You Take Your Laptop to a Coffee Shop: Scalzi on Writing and Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded: A Decade of Whatever, 1998-2008.

Think of Metafilter: The Book as This American Internet Life, or A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Blog Again.
posted by anotherpanacea at 9:08 AM on March 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hmmm... with aeschenkarnos's permission, a good title essay might be: "Outside is Overrated."
posted by anotherpanacea at 9:11 AM on March 7, 2010


NOT IT.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:18 AM on March 7, 2010 [4 favorites]


More to the point, this isn't really a pony request since there is no way any of us who work here could take this on. I'm solidly with cortex. Nice idea to think about, not really practical for actual implementation.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:20 AM on March 7, 2010


Why a book? Why not a dramatic interpretation?
posted by The Whelk at 9:49 AM on March 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Popular Favorites: The Musical?
posted by FishBike at 10:14 AM on March 7, 2010


"Why a book? Why not a dramatic interpretation?"

Make it a dramatic interpretive dance and I am in like Flynn.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 10:30 AM on March 7, 2010


mu-man-chantz (sic sp) with a bon fire and 10000 rounds of .22 ammo as kindling.
then some scientology bashing, rabbitt stew and a story by Miguel.
posted by clavdivs at 10:39 AM on March 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


What you need to do is collect the comments, pair them with funny/ironic/wistful images from pop culture/news media/the 70s and then release them slowly via a tumblr blog. Someone will be by momentarily to toss cash at you for a book deal.
posted by donnagirl at 10:43 AM on March 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


Do it yourself. Put together a bunch of great comments (for your values of great), then print it double-sided - there'll be an option somewhere to print as a bunch of folded-over sheets, two pages per side - then use a velobinding machine or whatever's down at your local copy shop to slap a spine and cover on it. Cheaper than buying a used book off Amazon, plus you can put jessamyn's old chicken pork GIF as the cover if you so desire.
posted by jtron at 10:48 AM on March 7, 2010


Man all the best comments are many paragraphs long.

I gotta work on my bloviating.
posted by graventy at 12:20 PM on March 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Why a book? Why not a dramatic interpretation?

I have dibs on the puppet show so back off.
posted by Meatbomb at 12:53 PM on March 7, 2010


If this happens, I think the title should be

Metafilter:
posted by litleozy at 1:17 PM on March 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


A lot of people would be crying about being in the book, and a lot of people would be crying about not being in the book. Sounds fun.
posted by planet at 1:29 PM on March 7, 2010


If there are any illustrations, interrobang should be commissioned for the long work that lies ahead (personal favorite).
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:35 PM on March 7, 2010


We should just publish a book of all the dots from obit threads.
posted by brundlefly at 2:31 PM on March 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


Should the infamous body disposal comment be a song, a dance, or a puppet show?


Or should it be all three?
posted by The Whelk at 2:59 PM on March 7, 2010


So, a musical.
posted by Elmore at 3:10 PM on March 7, 2010


with puppets.
posted by The Whelk at 3:20 PM on March 7, 2010


sock puppets.
posted by fixedgear at 3:26 PM on March 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is a terrible idea.
posted by dhammond at 3:27 PM on March 7, 2010


www.twitter.com/ShitMetaFilterSays?
posted by Wuggie Norple at 3:30 PM on March 7, 2010


Man all the best comments are many paragraphs long.

Oh, I dunno. I thought this seven-word comment in the List Of Bitches thread was pretty fantastic.
posted by Greg Nog at 4:12 PM on March 7, 2010


1. the idea that occurred to me a while back was more along the lines of a periodical (ie: the best of MeFi coming out maybe once a month, quarterly, whatever); this would keep it from trying to be PERFECT (arguments over this comment over that)

2. it would have to be some kind of non-profit venture a la ADBUSTERS or some such, minimal bucks for whichever individuals did the heavy lifting of actually putting it together, printing it, distributing it etc, the rest going to a worthy cause ... like the Church of Scientology.
posted by philip-random at 4:32 PM on March 7, 2010


I'll just wait until google scans it, so I can read it online.
posted by pompomtom at 4:57 PM on March 7, 2010


There's already a MetaTalk book. It spends so much time alternating between hilarious and idiotic and insulting that the plot never really goes much of anywhere.
posted by Plutor at 5:09 PM on March 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is my disappointed face.
posted by anotherpanacea at 6:08 PM on March 7, 2010


Meatbomb: I have dibs on the puppet show so back off.

Are you going to reenact the podcast with sockpuppets? Pleeeeease?
posted by Pronoiac at 6:45 PM on March 7, 2010


I'm an editor, and I just can't imagine any way in which this book could be made to work. I'm a book buyer, and I wouldn't buy this book. It's all free and searchable and in context as online content. Putting the content on paper would eliminate those attributes and add nothing in exchange.
posted by orange swan at 7:04 PM on March 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


There was a book called 'We've Got Blog' a few years back where a long and quite silly conversation from Metatalk was used in part, and John Rodzvilla (I think that's the right name, but I can't remember his Metafilter account name), the editor, was trying to get permission from everyone involved.

He failed, because a whole bunch of people are, as far as I can tell, dumb.

They printed it anyway, with just the comments from people who gave permission. Which kind of messed it up.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:38 PM on March 7, 2010


I kind of had this idea, I just did a blog of comments instead.
posted by The Devil Tesla at 9:52 PM on March 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


Sounds like too much effort with too much room for hurt feelings, e.g. "I had a best answer, why wasn't my post in the book?!"

I do like The Devil Tesla's blog, although I don't read it often.

I can't say whether I'd consent to having my comments in a book anyways... I guess it would depend on the context. I mean, I know that my comments will basically live forever and eternity on the internet, but it would seem weird to have a tangible copy of that to me.

And what Orange Swan said.
posted by IndigoRain at 2:23 AM on March 8, 2010


I support this idea, provided we limit included materials to comments that pertain to circumcision, obesity, Christianity, sexism, Israel/Palestine, and quonsar z''l.
posted by felix betachat at 4:41 AM on March 8, 2010


I'm a book buyer, and I wouldn't buy this book. It's all free and searchable and in context as online content. Putting the content on paper would eliminate those attributes and add nothing in exchange.

As one highly-unrepresentative datum, I must mention that I own the Suck.com book, which was published way back before the blog-to-book trend meant "oh, I guess we need to create some new content."
posted by kittyprecious at 7:10 AM on March 8, 2010


Most of these comments are stand-alone, they don't require a specific thread for context.

I find that this is actually rarely the case; occasionally I want to show someone some brilliant piece of writing here, and it's virtually impossible to just give them the comment devoid of any kind of context, because at the very least, most people need to know what the thread itself was about so that they understand what inspired the comment in the first place.

At the very least, I suspect some sort of paraphrasing-lead in would be required to get readers up to speed with where the writer was coming from or responding to.
posted by quin at 8:22 AM on March 8, 2010


I support this idea, provided we limit included materials to comments that pertain to circumcision, obesity, Christianity, sexism, Israel/Palestine, and quonsar

I think I'm going to make the cut!

That was not a circumcision comment.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 11:24 AM on March 8, 2010


Maybe we should make a podcast out of all the best stuff on MetaFilter... a recurring podcast... everyone loves podcasts!
posted by Mister_A at 11:58 AM on March 8, 2010


As long as any comments attributed to me are read by either a. Sean Connery or b. someone doing a lousy impression of Sean Connery (preferable).
posted by philip-random at 12:14 PM on March 8, 2010


Just put out a book of all the Palin threads. Reading it would be like eating ten bags of Doritos, but who among us could resist?
posted by The Card Cheat at 2:39 PM on March 8, 2010


Just put out a book of all the Palin threads. Reading it would be like eating ten bags of Doritos, but who among us could resist?

You could fill a book with just the deletion reasons alone.
posted by gman at 2:45 PM on March 8, 2010


I have frequently thought of a Metafilter book, and never mentioned it, for some of the reasons stated above. When I think that something might work without the context of the site and try to take it away to show someone else, it falls flat.

I have noticed that even the best material from the internet doesn't work in another medium anyway. Your favorite blogs don't necessarily make good books, your favorite videos generally makes terrible TV shows. There's a particular dynamic, a spontaneous interactive energy that doesn't always survive when taken out and exposed to the air.

As incredible as some of the comments and stories are, maybe they just belong here. They are a good thing that is ours.
posted by louche mustachio at 9:05 PM on March 8, 2010


One vote for the anotherpanacea algorithm.
posted by molecicco at 12:38 AM on March 9, 2010


If we wanted to produce a book, we should collaborate to come up with new material. Announce the project, set a theme and some specifications as to length and so on, and invite interested MeFites to submit material. Select the best of this submitted material, and put it all together in a book. Post a sampling of the best material for everyone to see, take pre-orders, and print according to demand.

Now that's an idea that gets my creative juices flowing. I seem to be salivating, as a matter of fact.
posted by orange swan at 7:11 AM on March 9, 2010


It's not like we're short of talented writers here. And whatever profits we made could be split between the writers, editors and so forth.
posted by orange swan at 7:12 AM on March 9, 2010


If we wanted to produce a book, we should collaborate to come up with new material.

I've seen a couple of books put together in this way, though I tend to stay on the university press side of the publishing business. But honestly, without Matt's participation, it'd just be another book of short non-fiction. Plus I'm totally sold on calling it Metafilter: Outside is Overrated, so we've got to at least solicit aeschenkarnos's permission.
posted by anotherpanacea at 8:33 AM on March 9, 2010


This just penalizes those of us who contribute through links and highly context sensitive single line witticisms.
posted by Artw at 10:59 AM on March 9, 2010


Anyone interested in the collaborative book idea, step this way.
posted by orange swan at 1:13 PM on March 9, 2010


I made a Mefi comment
they put it in a book
it's there on page one hundred ten
if you'll just take a look
course, now it's out of context
no reason now, no rhyme
but trust me, friend, it really was
quite brilliant at the time
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:25 AM on March 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


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