Contact form to mefi mail? August 31, 2010 3:07 AM   Subscribe

Can the contact form have the option of choosing where a response from the mods is sent if one is forthcoming?

I recognize you have folks contact you via the form who don't have accounts here--but is it possible if I'm logged in and use the form I might see something like this?
If we need to contact you, how should we do so?
( ) Use this email address: ________________
(x) Use MeFi Mail
If I use the form and expect a response I'd much rather get said response in my mefi mailbox.
posted by maxwelton to Feature Requests at 3:07 AM (86 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

You know you can plug any email address you want into the email slot, right?
posted by nomadicink at 3:09 AM on August 31, 2010


You know you can plug any email address you want into the email slot, right?

I think his point is that he'd like the option to request a response by MeMail instead of normal email.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 3:13 AM on August 31, 2010


Ah, quite right, my apologies! Carry on then lad!
posted by nomadicink at 3:18 AM on August 31, 2010


Even if that's not what's meant, I don't think it's a terrible thing. If I want to have my site email address be me@you.com but for some reason I want a reply to this thing to be sent to cheese@dork.edu it would be nice if I didn't have to edit my profile just to make that happen.
posted by theichibun at 3:24 AM on August 31, 2010


Despite my best efforts (or because of them) my mefi posting experience, in a nutshell:
  1. Post something either confusing or which cannot help but be misinterpreted
  2. Someone steps up to clarify
  3. Sometimes there is grar and/or humiliation
Vis-à-vis point #2, EndsOfInvention is correct.
posted by maxwelton at 3:27 AM on August 31, 2010


nomadicink, I've just realized where to put the 'break' in when reading your username, which as a result has suddenly become meaningful to me. Scales from eyes etc. Nothing to do with this thread but I felt I had to mention it.
posted by lapsangsouchong at 4:20 AM on August 31, 2010 [8 favorites]


maxwelton, it's not you, it's me.
posted by nomadicink at 4:56 AM on August 31, 2010


Excuse me if I too misunderstand, but if you tie your MeMail to your email you will be contacted in both places. I understand that still means you need to login to the site to reply, but seems a small price to pay.
posted by terrapin at 5:07 AM on August 31, 2010


I think that's more work from the mods, since they usually just respond in their email client to the email that the contact form sends.
posted by smackfu at 5:20 AM on August 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


Use this email address: ___MeMail____
posted by DU at 5:40 AM on August 31, 2010


lapsangsouchong: "nomadicink, I've just realized where to put the 'break' in when reading your username, which as a result has suddenly become meaningful to me. Scales from eyes etc. Nothing to do with this thread but I felt I had to mention it"

Nom acid ink? Why would you want to eat acid ink? I still don't get it.

Dyslexic, me? Never.
posted by Grither at 5:52 AM on August 31, 2010


I'd been reading it as Nomad Icink, like a badly German accented pronunciation of Nomad Icing. I don't know why this was an acceptable enough answer for me to stop trying to parse it further.
posted by SpiffyRob at 6:20 AM on August 31, 2010 [3 favorites]


No, ma, dicin'. K?
posted by stavrogin at 6:24 AM on August 31, 2010


I'd been reading it as Nomad Icink, like a badly German accented pronunciation of Nomad Icing.

EES RUSSIAN ICINK! STRONG, LIKE NOMAD BULL!
posted by zarq at 6:29 AM on August 31, 2010 [4 favorites]


Same with me re: nomakadink
posted by Trochanter at 6:58 AM on August 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wow. I always read it as nomad chick.

This reminds me of the peacheater problem.
posted by phunniemee at 7:06 AM on August 31, 2010


> nomadicink, I've just realized where to put the 'break' in when reading your username, which as a result has suddenly become meaningful to me.

Good lord! I'd been reading it the same way as SpiffyRob. My eyes are opened.

My own username should be read "l'angu gehat," which means 'had the angel' in an obscure Swiss dialect.
posted by languagehat at 7:48 AM on August 31, 2010 [10 favorites]


I've been reading it as "Noma Dink-chink".

or what long gauge hat (big head) said
posted by Rumple at 8:12 AM on August 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


I like to think it's "No! Mad! I cin, k?"
posted by quin at 8:19 AM on August 31, 2010


My own username should be read

U CANT TELL ME HOW TO READ
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:21 AM on August 31, 2010


U CANT TELL ME HOW TO READ
posted by Po' Tom ACK A Venue at 11:21 AM on August 31 [+] [!]

posted by zarq at 8:40 AM on August 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


Mission accomplished!
posted by nomadicink at 8:52 AM on August 31, 2010


Noma di cink. It's Italian.
posted by Gordafarin at 8:55 AM on August 31, 2010


Use this email address: ___MeMail____

I think the mods would say not to do this. I often use the contact form to suggest my comments or posts for side-barring and the last time I did this I put my return e-mail address as "justmemailme@memail.com" and a mod actually e-mailed that address and got a bounce back and was moderately pissed when he or she did eventually memail me to say "No we are not going to sidebar that, you are dumb and I am pissed that I got a bounce back e-mail." Please note that is not an exact quote of what the mod in question wrote, but a rough approximation.
posted by ND¢ at 8:56 AM on August 31, 2010 [3 favorites]


If you want them to respond by MeMail, why not just MeMail them?
posted by muddgirl at 9:01 AM on August 31, 2010


a mod actually e-mailed that address and got a bounce back and was moderately pissed

Pun intended?
posted by EndsOfInvention at 9:01 AM on August 31, 2010


muddgirl: because if you MeMail one mod, you get a reply when that mod's available. The contact form goes to multiple mods.
posted by mrmorgan at 9:11 AM on August 31, 2010


I often use the contact form to suggest my comments or posts for side-barring and the last time I did this...

Why not just flag them as "fantastic comment"?
posted by zarq at 9:14 AM on August 31, 2010


Also, you suggest your own posts and comments for sidebarring? Do people routinely do that?
posted by zarq at 9:15 AM on August 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


( ) Use this email address: ________________
( ) Use MeFi Mail
( ) Call me at this number: ________________
( ) Text me at this number: ________________
(X) Come to my house (bring pie)
posted by ODiV at 9:19 AM on August 31, 2010 [16 favorites]


Yeah, my inclination here remains negative. We want to keep the amount of mefi/email/server interactions we have to deal with and maintain to a minimum, and trying to create a bridge between incoming external email and the mefimail system is asking pb to do a bunch more work now and maintenance in the future for a very limited win, and in the process it would explicitly break the "we're all reply-alling on this collective chain" expectation we as mods have when dealing with contact-form issues.

I encourage people to keep their email addresses up-to-date (this is mostly only an issue for older accounts, but it applies to everyone obviously) and to just try and be mindful that sending us email means getting email back, not mefimail. I know it's not really a helpful answer to "but it'd be nice to get mefimail", but I think it's the answer we're sticking with for basic logistical reasons.

To muddgirl's point, if what you really really need is a mefimail from a mod, it's best to just send a mefimail in the first place, yes. As mrmorgan points out, that's in some cases pretty suboptimal because you don't get as quick of service and it leaves the whole mod team out of the loop on stuff that they might not need to be, but that's the option if must-get-mefimail is the top item on your list of priorities for that interaction.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:21 AM on August 31, 2010


because if you MeMail one mod, you get a reply when that mod's available. The contact form goes to multiple mods.

Yeah, I know. It's a trade-off that someone is going to have to make.

maxwelton wants the onus to be on the site developers or on the moderators to do the extra work to get in contact with him. I think, on the other hand, that if site users want to be able to contact all the moderators at once, it is not too much to require that the conversation happen via email.
posted by muddgirl at 9:23 AM on August 31, 2010


Ninja'd by a moderator. :(
posted by muddgirl at 9:24 AM on August 31, 2010


You can even get three separate answers to your contact email this way!
posted by smackfu at 9:26 AM on August 31, 2010


Also, you suggest your own posts and comments for sidebarring? Do people routinely do that?

I don't think most people do that much because of that whole not-wanting-to-come-off-like-an-arrogant-jerk thing. I do it quite frequently, but in my defense I also have so many great posts and comments that it is hard not to.
posted by ND¢ at 9:35 AM on August 31, 2010 [8 favorites]


We should be able to choose how Mods respond to us. I know I'd enjoy the casual friendliness of a Cortext Message, even if it was 'STFU n GTFO SOB SEO ROFL!111!'. The elegance of Jessamorse Code makes even the asshattiest asshat feel like someone special. And no one would mind being called out if they were notified via Singing and Dancing Mathowiegram. Let's make this happen.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:51 AM on August 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


Sidebar this comment, please. I've flagged it as fantastic. It really is.
posted by SpiffyRob at 9:52 AM on August 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


Pony request: two sidebars, one for ND¢, the other for everyone else.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 9:55 AM on August 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


One of you greasemonkiers needs to greasmonkey up a greasemonkey that will substitute an RSS feed of my recent comments and posts for the sidebar. Then you'd have really greasemonkied something worth greasemonkeying.
posted by ND¢ at 10:02 AM on August 31, 2010


I was reading it as "Nom a Dic" which I still think is pretty funny.
posted by paisley henosis at 10:12 AM on August 31, 2010


Yeah, for the most part we'd like to keep things to email and if you need a quick MeMail in reply you can take your chances that the one of us you decide to MeMail will be around and can handle it quickly. We realize this isn't perfect, but MeMail is really supposed to be a quick and easy way to private-message people and a way for MeFite who don't want to share email addressed to be able to contact each other. We'd really like to do even LESS mod work over MeMail because we can't share it with the other mods so a lot of back and forth with a single user over MeMail becomes sort of a dead end for us. If you check the MeMail page for me or cortex you might see that it says "If you have a Metafilter administration request, please use the contact form instead of MeFi Mail, thanks!" People mostly ignore this.

a mod actually e-mailed that address and got a bounce back and was moderately pissed when he or she did eventually memail me

That sounds like me. If you don't need or want a reply back, feel free to let us know to not reply to your message. Otherwise we doggedly try to reply to almost all email we get and you guys have some strange email addresses.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:25 AM on August 31, 2010


No! Mad! I cin, k?

I like this. If you think of 'c' as being an 's', as in 'sin', it sounds like what my honest three year old would say when we found her peeling paint off of the bathroom wall.
posted by SpacemanStix at 10:26 AM on August 31, 2010


I was reading it as "Nom a Dic" which I still think is pretty funny.

Someone off site hates it because they get an image of a dick, washing its face in a sink.

They'd probably fit in around here.
posted by nomadicink at 10:31 AM on August 31, 2010


I don't think most people do that much because of that whole not-wanting-to-come-off-like-an-arrogant-jerk thing.

I think that if I ever wrote something I thought would look nice up on the sidebar, I'd drive the mods nuts about it: "Hi, I wrote this awesome comment, and I'd love it if you would put it on the sidebar so everyone can see it!!! But first, could you correct the following typos? It's not that long a list -- only about six pages worth. Oh, and if you could make me sound more erudite, well-spoken and worldly that would be cool too. Hey, is there any way to install a counter on the link so I'll know how many people click on it? And...."
posted by zarq at 10:34 AM on August 31, 2010


I think that if I ever wrote something I thought would look nice up on the sidebar, I'd drive the mods nuts about it:

The funny joke is, some people have done that. Mostly about things that they're trying to do that haven't gotten enough publicity buried here in MetaTalk, but it would definitely not be the first time.

The thing about the sidebar is that people are really touchy about it. Since it's clearly mod-selected, people read much more into the things that make the sidebar than they do into the favorites thing. So they want things sidebarred that reflect their own "this is important" feelings which are often sort of touchy things that would get a lot of people sort of upset or annoyed. So since I've been a little nutty with lists lately, here's some What Makes the Sidebar information

- stuff that has been flagged as fantastic or emailed directly to us. I have favorites turned mostly off so I don't know what's getting a lot of favorites.
- stuff that does not reflect one side of a contentious thread or issue, for the most part [someone quit after I sidebarred the slaughterhouse comment, I feel bad about that]
- stuff that isn't revealing someone's deeply personal stories that might be awkward if we surfaced them more than they already were [with some exceptions, but this is the category that gets the most "you need to sidebar this!!" suggestions that we ignore]
- stuff that's not from the same ten people that people always get flagged as fantastic [has anyone been following sonascope lately, he's amazing]
- stuff that reflects:
-- a very specific insider perspective into a topic
-- a reminiscence of a person being discussed in an obit/celeb thread
-- an explanation of a complicated thing in a way that people seem to be able to get
-- a famous/mentioned person showing up to talk about somegthing
-- a MeFi project or creation that is awesome or that needs participation or both
-- a crazy-insightful answer in AskMe
-- big feature updates

So I'm mostly typing this in here so I can link it over on Mod Explanations, but I don't know if I've explicated this before and I overslept and I'm still waking up so here it is.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:02 AM on August 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


- stuff that does not reflect one side of a contentious thread or issue, for the most part [someone quit after I sidebarred the slaughterhouse comment, I feel bad about that]

Since it's come up, I actually disabled my previous account due to the sidebarring of a comment in favor of skepticism - not because it was a bad comment, but because I couldn't picture a similar comment on "I was skeptical, but came to have religious beliefs" ever being highlighted and on a site that already tilts heavily towards atheism, having that point of view really put out there as an "official" position really made me feel like I'm swimming upstream, as someone with actual religious beliefs. I didn't want to complain about it because that felt way too much like "Look at me and my speshul opinions!" but it made me feel wicked uncomfortable to the point where I honestly didn't think I was going to return at all.
posted by sonika at 11:09 AM on August 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


I got sidebarred once. While it was nice and I was glad that people enjoyed the comment, it was sort of embarrassing; I wish there was some way it could have been tidied up for typos and grammar.

THAT'S RIGHT MODS EVEN WHEN YOU DO SOMETHING NICE I WILL STILL COMPLAIN YOU JUST CANNOT WIN FOR LOSING
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:12 AM on August 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


it made me feel wicked uncomfortable to the point where I honestly didn't think I was going to return at all.

Someone else mentioned that sidebarring, and we got an email from someone else asking if we'd ever sidebarred a comment in favor of religion [I don't remember exactly what the wording was]. And I don't think we have. I don't think we wouldn't. But I don't think we have. None of the mods have any religious leanings that I know of. MeFi skews strongly agnostic at best. The sidebar is not attempting to be balanced. It's attempting to highlight things that we think are interesting, on a site full of people who are overthinkers and easily offended.

To my mind, if it's helpful, the skeptic comment was about someone who helped themselves get out of a cult, and out of a cult mindset. It was favorited over 200 times [though some of that may postdate the sidebarring, in fact it certainly does] and doesn't say anything negative about religion except that she was happy that she was out of her cult brainwashing situation. She was in fact saved from that by her fundamentalist Christian boyfriend. It was an interesting firsthand look at something that a lot of us never see the inside of.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:20 AM on August 31, 2010


It makes me incredibly sad that not one but two people objected to highlighting a comment that spoke in favor of fundamental thinking skills over actual brainwashing.
posted by DU at 11:25 AM on August 31, 2010


It makes me incredibly sad that not one but two people objected to highlighting a comment that spoke in favor of fundamental thinking skills over actual brainwashing.

No, no, you're missing my point. I thought the comment itself was awesome. But, as jessamyn mentions, no equally awesome comments about "Here's how having a religious identity helped me" have ever been sidebarred. And that is what made me uncomfortable. Not the comment itself, which I may have even favorited.

Sure, there's a big difference between cults and organized religion, but in most discussions of religion on MeFi they're treated pretty much equally. My own religious beliefs are pretty much "relaxed and groovy," but they exist and simply for having them, I've been lambasted on more than one occasion. To already feel at odds with the tone of the site and just have it highlighted in a pretty major way absolutely made me question whether or not it was a place I wanted to continue to hang out.
posted by sonika at 11:37 AM on August 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


It makes me incredibly sad that not one but two people objected to highlighting a comment that spoke in favor of fundamental thinking skills over actual brainwashing.

Perhaps asking people how they felt about the comment and why, would be more charitable than casting them as unthinking cult supporters. You don't know their motivations.

The comment didn't exist in a vacuum. It was a part of a larger particularly nasty and contentious thread which caused at least two of us to disable our accounts for a while. I didn't do so because of the sidebarring of that particular comment, but the thread itself didn't exactly highlight MeFi's best side.
posted by zarq at 11:39 AM on August 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


And from my perspective, finding an awesome and heavily favorited comment in a toxic thread was something redeeming about it. I'd really like it if we could not do the religion tango here in MetaTalk again please.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:40 AM on August 31, 2010


I thought the comment itself was awesome. But, as jessamyn mentions, no equally awesome comments about "Here's how having a religious identity helped me" have ever been sidebarred. And that is what made me uncomfortable. Not the comment itself, which I may have even favorited.

Prior to August 9, no sidebarred comment in favor of either religion or skepticism had been made in over 10 years. Now that one has existed for 3 weeks, I don't think that's necessarily evidence of bias.
posted by DU at 11:43 AM on August 31, 2010


I'd really like it if we could not do the religion tango here in MetaTalk again please.

It's something that's made multiple users leave the site on more than one occasion. Doesn't that make it worth a discussion?
posted by sonika at 11:45 AM on August 31, 2010


But, as jessamyn mentions, no equally awesome comments about "Here's how having a religious identity helped me" have ever been sidebarred.

Well, that we can recall. Not to be overly handwavey about it, but the sidebar has been around in one form or another for years and years now, and it's hard to say definitively that content of Approximate Type X has ever been featured or not. But maybe more to the point, we don't sidebar a whole lot of stuff and as Jess said we're fairly shy about putting up stuff that's got a strong ideological component as it's main feature.

The sidebarred comment is not some sort of "fuck religion!" screed—that'd never, ever get anywhere near the sidebar. I hear you that this one did make you uncomfortable and I'm not going to tell you to feel otherwise, but at a certain point we have to make a decision between just never sidebarring anything that has even a shred of a position or a political/ideological/lifestyle context to it or risk having someone respond overtly to what we try to keep constrained to pretty mild selections. We're already quite conservative, maybe to a fault, in what we include and exclude to try and keep that risk to a minimum, but taking it any farther would mean probably cutting what is already a pretty low-volume set of sidebar candidates down to a much smaller pool.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:52 AM on August 31, 2010


Not in this thread.
posted by languagehat at 11:52 AM on August 31, 2010


"Not in this thread" was a response to the comment before that meddling cortex's sneaky insertion.
posted by languagehat at 11:53 AM on August 31, 2010


It's something that's made multiple users leave the site on more than one occasion. Doesn't that make it worth a discussion?

Super, if this is you wanting to talk about it, go ahead. I was trying to intervene so you could say your piece without people immediately saying "okay let's have an argument about this"

no sidebarred comment in favor of either religion or skepticism had been made in over 10 years.

We posted one other sidebarred comment about skepticism [or about someone's dawning awareness about their lack of religious feeling] which also garnered a few comments.

And, from a mod perspective and then ducking out of this... I feel like sometimes the issue here is that people think there's some hidden agenda on someone's part, at least where the sidebar is concerned, or about MeFi's treatment of religion generally. As someone who grew up without religion, the idea of religion is something that I understand is important to other people [either pro or con] but that does not impact my life except as people use their faith positions to try to affect legislation, something that has unfortunately been happening all too often in the US lately.

Religion is a topic that MeFi tends to not do well and it's a topic that is not really something that we see as a central theme to MeFi generally. Given this, we figure the people who bring it up are the people who want to talk about it and we generally let them be. That said, we feel a lot of pressure from both sides of this equation to have our actions be more representative of one side or the other [i.e. ban this person for their unpopular religious opinion, ban that person for talking shit about people who have religious beliefs, delete this or that comment one way or the other] more than just about any other topic. I feel that outside of the "don't be assholes" guidelines, people are pretty much on their own on this one.

None of the mods are religious. None of us enjoy debating religion. The majority of the site's members are either casually religious or not religious with a few aggressive atheists and a few aggressive people of various religious stripes. People who expect MeFi to be different than it is will be disappointed.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:56 AM on August 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


Not in this thread.

Fair enough. I'm not married to the idea of discussing it here and now, it just came up and I felt like it bore (beared?) mentioning. I'm happy to drop it for now if the implication is "Yeah, let's talk about this some other time." I just wasn't sure if that's what jessamyn was getting at vs. "LALALALALA NO NO LALALALALALA" which would be more problematic (for me and my speshul feelings, anyway).

I totally appreciate what you're saying, cortex. And I get that jessamyn thought that finding a positive comment in that thread made it worthwhile... but for those of us (or rather just me) on the other side of the issue talking about it, it was very much "Wait, why am I bothering?" inducing. Had the thread it come from not been so rife with actual anti-religion sentiment, the sidebarring admittedly wouldn't have made me blink. And the comment itself was pretty excellent. Like I said, it's just something that emphasized how I already feel fundamentally at odds with the majority in this matter and it made me feel pretty prickly about that.

I will now resume dropping it! Ok!
posted by sonika at 11:58 AM on August 31, 2010


And from my perspective, finding an awesome and heavily favorited comment in a toxic thread was something redeeming about it.

Understandable. The toxicity of the thread (speaking as someone who felt its focus) was unpleasant. I didn't have a problem with the sidebarred comment. I'm simply trying to point out that a larger context existed in this case, and am suggesting DU ask questions, rather than revert to using a casual stereotype. He doesn't know what people said or why, nor what their motivations were for speaking up.

I'd really like it if we could not do the religion tango here in MetaTalk again please.

Agreed. I'm definitely not planning to do so. I've had my fill of that particular tango. Sincerely, I'm not interested in starting an argument on this topic. Or even finishing one.
posted by zarq at 11:58 AM on August 31, 2010


I saw That Meddling Cortex's Sneaky Insertion open for Lit during their '99 Place in the Sun tour. They were pretty decent.

Also how did a discussion about memail even get side-tracked to talking about the fucking sidebar?
posted by ND¢ at 12:05 PM on August 31, 2010


That said, we feel a lot of pressure from both sides of this equation to have our actions be more representative of one side or the other [i.e. ban this person for their unpopular religious opinion, ban that person for talking shit about people who have religious beliefs, delete this or that comment one way or the other] more than just about any other topic. [...]The majority of the site's members are either casually religious or not religious with a few aggressive atheists and a few aggressive people of various religious stripes. People who expect MeFi to be different than it is will be disappointed.

From a person who is casually religious, I would like to point out that MetaFilter does not feel indifferent to religious belief, but rather - and has gotten increasingly worse over the past year or so (or I've gotten more sensitive about it) - is actively hostile to religious users. And that's where my stance lies - that just like it's not tolerated to be an asshole about sexism/racism, I don't think it should really be tolerated to call people unthinking idiots the way happens in a lot of religious threads. I think that there's a lot of ugliness from the very vocal portion of atheists on the site that gets cast aside since I know that I - and other "religious" MeFites I've talked to - feel like bringing it up is just swimming against the tide, and what's the use, perhaps more so than other issues.

Which leads to a really uncomfortable environment for anyone who does have beliefs. I know a lot of MeFites who are, f'rinstance, Catholic who would never admit to it here because of the immediate bashing they would receive. And my feeling uncomfortable about that isn't because I'm pro-Catholic, it's because I feel like "don't be an asshole" gets overlooked by the "YOU'RE WRONG BECAUSE SCIENCE SAYS!" crowd. MeFi, if anything, is pro rationality, so a lot of things that are really truly ugly get wrapped up in "What? I'm being rational! You're the one who's just WRONG!" and it gets mostly ignored.

I confess to being guilty to not calling it out - I've seen it time and time again and written countless deleted emails and MeTa threads that never see the light of day because my reaction, post writing, is simply "What's the point? This never goes well."

What I'm saying is that religion is one aspect where "don't be an asshole" isn't something that anyone ever really gets held to, except in the most extreme cases. The site has made huge strides in being more welcoming to women and more aware of racism, but in terms of being a place where an intelligent person with religious beliefs feels comfortable hanging out... well, there's a pretty vocal population screaming that if you really were intelligent, you wouldn't have beliefs. It's not just one or two people. It's not just one or two threads. It's every time it comes up.

And I can see how if you're a neutral observer with no horse on either side of the race or whatever, it wouldn't seem alienating to pick one comment out of a contentious thread and say "Hey! This comment was awesome!" but to feel like you're opening yourself up to attack just for saying "I have positive feelings about religion" it can be a bit of lemon juice on the paper cut when you're already feeling pretty down about how the site handles that topic.
posted by sonika at 12:09 PM on August 31, 2010 [5 favorites]


ARGH. NO GOOD AT DROPPING IT. I have a low brain to text barrier - I'll happily welcome anyone who wants to talk to me about this to email me if the consensus is that people would like this thread to go in a different direction.
posted by sonika at 12:10 PM on August 31, 2010


I got sidebarred once.

I've never been sidebarred but my goddam sockpuppet was. Dammit. There went my chance at internets fame.
posted by dersins at 12:33 PM on August 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


What the fuck is up here...i find myself agreeing with the mods more and more.
posted by hal_c_on at 12:44 PM on August 31, 2010


If I'm reading this thread correctly, not only is my pony being led to the glue factory, it found religion on the way there? Fair enough.
posted by maxwelton at 1:25 PM on August 31, 2010 [5 favorites]


It's not you macwelton, it's me.
posted by nomadicink at 1:49 PM on August 31, 2010


just try and be mindful that sending us email means getting email back, not mefimail.

It's not been said so I'll just say it: from a casual/new user's standpoint it's not at all clear that using the contact form sends email -- the submit button does say 'Send Email', but that's a rather subtle hint. Unless you were clued into that hint it might seem odd that you'd get an email reply when you thought you were sending a PM, which is generally how most other forums work.
posted by Rhomboid at 1:51 PM on August 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


Good point, we could maybe make that clearer.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:53 PM on August 31, 2010


MetaFilter does not feel indifferent to religious belief, but rather - and has gotten increasingly worse over the past year or so (or I've gotten more sensitive about it) - is actively hostile to religious users.

You're going to get a lot of disagreement on this point, because people are going to insist that they are not hostile at all, they simply want people of faith to respond to their questions. Unfortunately, it's almost always twenty people demanding at once, "What about this, what about that, how do you reconcile this hypocrisy with that historical atrocity and this politician with that famous preacher and this Bible verse with that encyclical and hey what about this other thing. Well? WELL? I DEMAND THAT YOU RESPOND. If you're not going to respond to our questions, you're not participating in good faith, you're obviously just a troll who likes to drop turds in a thread and leave without justifying your opinions!"

I don't think it should really be tolerated to call people unthinking idiots the way happens in a lot of religious threads.

Sometimes I feel like I'm the only person who flags stuff like this. Am I the only one who flags stuff like this? Because the vibe that I get from the mods' comments, pretty consistently, is that if stuff isn't getting multiple flags from here to Albuquerque, it's not a problem so it's not getting deleted. I also get the vibe from a lot of users that they don't feel comfortable flagging stuff unless they feel that it's SUPER egregious, and simply calling another user names just isn't serious enough to warrant flagging. Do people feel that way?

What I'm saying is that religion is one aspect where "don't be an asshole" isn't something that anyone ever really gets held to, except in the most extreme cases. The site has made huge strides in being more welcoming to women and more aware of racism, but in terms of being a place where an intelligent person with religious beliefs feels comfortable hanging out... well, there's a pretty vocal population screaming that if you really were intelligent, you wouldn't have beliefs. It's not just one or two people. It's not just one or two threads. It's every time it comes up.

I agree, and it makes me sad. I started participating in MeFi again recently after a lengthy absence (personal reasons, mostly not having to do with MeFi itself) in the hopes that interacting with the awesome people here again would help me out with some private issues I'm dealing with, but when I see stuff like this happening, the pileons, the namecalling, the mocking and hounding of other people because they're WRONG ON THE INTERNET...Well, I guess I should shut up now before I get accused of "hand-wringing." Because that's what seems to happen when you express disappointment with people's jerkish behavior around here.
posted by Gator at 2:23 PM on August 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


Fixed up the contact form, by the way. Thanks for pointing that out.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:31 PM on August 31, 2010


Because the vibe that I get from the mods' comments, pretty consistently, is that if stuff isn't getting multiple flags from here to Albuquerque, it's not a problem so it's not getting deleted.

One of the hard things to communicate sometimes is the degree to which the relatively light moderation here leads to a lot of letting-things-stand when the situation is less "not a problem" in the broad sense than "not crossing the threshold of being actionable".

If something gets flagged, that helps us see that something is going on. We go take a look; if it's something that obviously needs deleting we'll delete it, if it's something that doesn't seem at all problematic and it's a lone flag we'll probably glance around but leave it alone, if it's something that's obviously not great but isn't a clear delete we'll try to get some context, keep an eye on the situation, and maybe take some sort of gentler and/or less-visible action to try and help the situation along.

So if you flag something and it doesn't get deleted, from your perspective it may well feel like it was wasted effort—flag sent, comment sticks around. I can understand the feeling if that happens a few times that maybe we're just not on the same wavelength. And it's possible in some cases that we aren't, but for generally problematic stuff like people being buttheads about (among any number of other things) religious belief it's more likely that we're seeing the same thing as you are but have chosen to try and deal with it more subtly than blasting some comments.

Sometimes that's visible—one of us leaving a note to try and steer or rerail things, us discussing the subject in metatalk—but a lot of it isn't. We email people a lot, trying to manage some of this stuff in a way that doesn't turn into a public fight; people with recurring bad habits especially tend to hear from us that way. Letting us know directly via email if you feel like there is some specific unaddressed issue with a user's behavior is an okay way to try and make it clear to us that something is up as well, in away that may be more useful in some cases than flagging in isolation.

So it's not really "if there aren't enough flags it doesn't go" so much as that realistically a fair amount of stuff gets flagged, sometimes once and sometimes multiple times, and yet sticks around because we decide to try and deal with a lot of situations through discussion (public and private) rather than deletion when we can. Again, I can understand how that may be frustrating to see if you're not personally getting any feedback that something is being done.

As a general personal statement, I think people tend to be buttheads about religion on mefi overly much too. The stuff that falls short of being actively deletable is still annoying, but this is a site where the threshold for deletion is pretty high, regardless of the topic, and aggressively changing that would be a really weird move. Short of aggressively changing that, it's kind of a given that people will step on each others toes about stuff, and contentious or ideologically charged stuff in particular is going to sting when that happens. You can help us try to deal productively and proactively with some of the more obnoxious bits of that by flagging and letting us know by email if there's something specifically complicated going on, definitely. Beyond that, there's no lightswitch solution to this.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:08 PM on August 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


Sorry if my comment seemed like I was clamoring for heavier moderation. I didn't mean to suggest that there should necessarily be more deletions -- I've been here long enough to know that yes, that bar is high -- but I certainly do wish there was more visible mod disapproval of the kind of stuff I referred to. In addition to my own personal feelings about this stuff, we're getting new users all the time, and new users will take their cues from what they see.

I do flag a lot of stuff, sometimes just for the sole purpose of "Hey, mods, this isn't looking good, might need to have an eye kept on it" rather than "Don't like, please delete." But I've also used the contact form a handful of times; once I got no response at all, a couple of other times I got a "Meh, it seems to have died down by the time we got there, nothing deleteworthy." And yeah, that's frustrating, because it feels like, "Well, people are buttheads, whattayagonnado?"
posted by Gator at 4:00 PM on August 31, 2010


Oh! Nomadic Ink!

I am so slow today.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:05 PM on August 31, 2010 [2 favorites]


To a degree, people are in fact buttheads and what in fact are ya gonna do. I don't mean that in a dismissive sense, it's just that short of taking some drastic measure that's always going to be true on a lightly moderated site like mefi: being a butthead is not a bannable and not necessarily a deleteable offense.

I don't mean to suggest you're clamoring for heavier moderation, I'm just trying to be clear where we're coming from on why short of that there's no clear simple solution. As far as that goes, I'll try to keep an eye out and maybe recalibrate my "saying something in public" metric a bit if it looks like there's borderline situations where I could opt for the "go ahead and say something" side of the fence I'm perched on. We just try not to be hectoring, and it can be hard to run that line between "saying something" and "getting in people's faces" especially when there's a bit of extra strong feeling involved on a subject.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:07 PM on August 31, 2010


because it feels like, "Well, people are buttheads, whattayagonnado?"

In many cases, that is actually how we feel. In that specific thread, there were a few comments that seemed like they might fuck up the thread but by the time we saw them, a few hours had passed, they hadn't fucked up the thread, and so we left it alone.

People who are strongly objecting to your perspective, if they're doing it without calling you an asshole or opening up some sort of crappy interrogation [and we've really tried to step in actively and curtail that sort of thing] are not breaking any rules of the site. Threads that turn into pile-ons or otherwise hostile environments we'll often try to step in and say something, but it's possible that wherever you draw the line [and I don't mean you Gator, I mean you anyone] is not where we draw the line.

And so if you're not asking for more aggressive moderation, you have to either be willing to walk away, to tolerate the people who you think are being unpleasant or find a way to interact and engage without escalating whatever is going on. Some people are really good at this, some people are less good at it.

And don't get me wrong, we appreciate the emails that say "hey you might want to take a look at this" [and I do show one email from you that we didn't reply to, but it was just a "check this out" email that didn't seem to need a reply, apologies]. I get that it feels weird when your radar of what's problematic on the site doesn't seem to match up with the general site zeitgeist of what's okay, but that seems to be what's going on here. And again, this is sort of what I feel about sonika's post too. We want people to be happy here and enjoy their time here, but if there's some fundamental aspect of the site that is unbearable and also not changing, everyone needs to make their decisions about how they deal with that. One of those decisions that is totally okay is to come to MeTa and agitate for something to change, but as cortex says, this sort of thing is really tricky, so it's helpful if people come to the table with ideas. We do a lot of behind the scenes talking to people as well as the more public stuff we do and we're happy to share that with folks who ask.

In the above paragraph, I am specifically NOT saying that anyone should leave the site. I am saying that a few people closing their accounts, while concerning to us, is not on its own a data point that says "the site must change how it operates." We'd like to be as clear as we can about why the site is working the way it does, but we've only got a few blunt tools at our disposal.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:19 PM on August 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'll try to keep an eye out and maybe recalibrate my "saying something in public" metric a bit if it looks like there's borderline situations where I could opt for the "go ahead and say something" side of the fence I'm perched on.

Speaking only for myself, that would make me happy. As far as coming to the table with ideas, my response to "whattayagonnado" would be, "You're a mod, maybe drop a mild note in the thread?" That's not what I would consider "heavier" moderation, but maybe that's not how you all see it?

I absolutely believe you guys when you say you deal with stuff in the background, but like I said, I think it would be helpful, for both the community and for new users to understand what's okay and what's not, for some visible mod disapproval when buttheading is occurring. It seems to have worked fairly well for the long-tolerated casual sexism, just for one example. I've said this before, but one of the things that I love about you guys is your willingness to revisit the okayness of things that have long been considered Not That Big A Deal, because the membership has been growing and more people are expressing discomfort.

I do appreciate how tricky your job is. You don't want to deal with reams of emailed accusations of censorship, nannying, favoritism, etc. I try to do my part in not making your job harder by (for the most part) flagging and emailing you rather than jumping in and calling people jerks, and you have no idea how much restraint that sometimes requires on my part. It wouldn't be so hard if I didn't care about this place, and I know I'm not alone in that.
posted by Gator at 5:02 PM on August 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


At a certain point, one has to learn to either engage in those discussions simply for the sake of understanding the other side or learn to avoid them and make peace with that.
posted by nomadicink at 6:30 PM on August 31, 2010


I've said this before, but one of the things that I love about you guys is your willingness to revisit the okayness of things that have long been considered Not That Big A Deal, because the membership has been growing and more people are expressing discomfort.

I couldn't agree more.

I've also been increasingly uncomfortable with the LULZy "religion = brainwashing" type of comments. The site will always be agnosticish, and like Jessamyn I grew up without religion, so I feel like this is an issue I don't really share, except that I'm uncomfortable with casual mean-spiritedness.

So if I could have my way, it'd be slightly heavier moderating on this particular type of dickishness, maybe a few deletions when it's super egregious, and more mod-comments saying "uh uh, we don't play that way here." As the changes for the better on the sexism front have shown, even fairly low-key efforts like that can have a big pay-off in inclusiveness and just general niceness for all of us.
posted by Forktine at 7:59 PM on August 31, 2010 [1 favorite]


As far as that goes, I'll try to keep an eye out and maybe recalibrate my "saying something in public" metric a bit if it looks like there's borderline situations where I could opt for the "go ahead and say something" side of the fence I'm perched on.

That would be appreciated. Thank you.

I tend not to flag other people's comments unless I think they're so nasty that they're probably getting flagged to hell by other folks anyway. Part of the reason for that is I tend to think flagging comments is the same as saying "mods, please censor this." I'm not comfortable with that.

Flagging comments in order to signal y'all that something is happening in a particular thread is a good idea.
posted by zarq at 2:29 AM on September 1, 2010


Speaking only for myself, that would make me happy. As far as coming to the table with ideas, my response to "whattayagonnado" would be, "You're a mod, maybe drop a mild note in the thread?" That's not what I would consider "heavier" moderation, but maybe that's not how you all see it?

Agreed. Just a mod note saying "Guys, don't be assholes" goes a long way when there are the sorts of "JUSTIFY YOURSELVES, TROLLS!" (usually not worded *that* bluntly) pile-ons going on. These notes do often get dropped in other threads, but I feel like either not enough people are speaking up about these kind of disagreements in religious threads or the appeal to rationality makes it read as less hostile to a neutral observer than it comes across to the person on the other side of the argument. And I get that "Justify your comments!" is a pretty standard response site wide, it's just that in threads with religion as a topic (or sub-topic) it goes to this level of absurdity wherein the person answering is presumed to be wrong before they even start. I'm guessing a good parallel would be conservatives on MetaFilter, and we've come far enough to recognize that conservatives yes, are in the minority, but no we probably shouldn't call them evil robot alien jerks.

So if I could have my way, it'd be slightly heavier moderating on this particular type of dickishness, maybe a few deletions when it's super egregious, and more mod-comments saying "uh uh, we don't play that way here." As the changes for the better on the sexism front have shown, even fairly low-key efforts like that can have a big pay-off in inclusiveness and just general niceness for all of us.

Or what she said. Again, I'm not advocating for more deletion, but a few more "don't be assholes" notes (on either side, I'm not saying that it's impossible for the religious to be assholes either) would go a long way to improving the tone in these threads.
posted by sonika at 5:19 AM on September 1, 2010


I'll never get tired of MeTa threads starting down one road then careening wildly into another continent.
posted by cavalier at 8:35 AM on September 1, 2010


This is known as "plate tectopics".
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:43 AM on September 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


a few more "don't be assholes" notes

That's not a bad plan. The most recent mod adjustment we've made in the past maybe year has been disallowing [as we've seen them] the piling on of one user with the relentless interrogation sort of thing. It's tough because obviously when people don't understand something, asking seems the most sensible way to go about learning more. However too often these sorts of things either devolve into an inquisition of one user [in which case, take it to email guys] or the sort of trolling for a gotcha approach which is generally a sort of weak excuse for actual discussion.

Some people can not deal with the fact that there are other people in the world with views that are different from theirs. At the same time, we've put our foot down about things that are unacceptable on this site, and things that are not-so-great but maybe acceptable. The "all religious people are idiots, by definition" commentary followed by "hey that's just my opinion, man" is starting to move from the latter category to the former. It would be nice if people weren't constantly in the envelope-pushing aggro stage of dealing with this in their own particular world view, but that's what it seems like we have here.

And, with that said, everyone has a joint responibility to walk away from these sorts of things if they can't remain in the discussion without getting fighty or butthurt. It's a lot easier to handle one person being an asshat if their asshat comments stand alone as a shining beacon of asshattery and are not followed by ten more comments by people making it worse.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:01 AM on September 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


And, with that said, everyone has a joint responibility to walk away from these sorts of things if they can't remain in the discussion without getting fighty or butthurt. It's a lot easier to handle one person being an asshat if their asshat comments stand alone as a shining beacon of asshattery and are not followed by ten more comments by people making it worse.

Absolutely agreed. I try my best not to get fighty on the internets, but it certainly can be difficult. I shall continue my efforts to do my best to at least not make things worse while also trying to talk about touchy stuff that I care about. It would be easier to avoid touchy threads altogether, but the problem there is that pesky moment "I care about this and I know what I'm getting into in this thread" turns the corner into "I shouldn't have even started." It's identifying that moment that I think is difficult to really hone in on - not just for me, but I think it's universally hard to accept the moment when a conversation that you care about becomes one that you need to also walk away from.
posted by sonika at 11:15 AM on September 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


but we've only got a few blunt tools at our disposal.

When all you have is a banhammer, every problem looks like a nail.
posted by pjern at 10:57 PM on September 25, 2010


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