Deletion Reasons: Threadshitting vs. Flagging vs. Mod Taste ... How Does It Interplay? September 24, 2010 10:38 PM   Subscribe

As far as I can tell, there's three factors at play with deleted posts – moderator opinion, initial crowd opinion (comments), and initial crowd opinion (flagging). And I'm kind of seeking to understand how it interplays,

I've seen different mods say that they didn't have a problem with a post but waited to see how the flags stacked up. I've seen them say the same thing about comments, i.e., that they didn't have a problem with the post but the community was just so out of control in its negative reaction in the comments that the thread got deleted.

But, on the other hand, I've seen comment threads go well and then get zapped by mod opinion. Now, some of the rules are really clear and are long-enforced (i.e., anti-chatfilter, etc.), but even they're put aside if the thread's getting special enough (and we've had a few of those).

But sometimes, I've seen threads with comment sections in them going fairly well, but the thread gets deleted using various wording (usually deriding some attribute of the source website -- there's an entire host of websites nowadays that proffer an excuse for deletion because it's "someone's blog post" or [CamelCasedNameofWebsite]-filter or ... ) ... well, wording that I'd respectfully say is really just a sort of useful substitute for the mods -- a substitute for what the real reason is, which is just that it's the mod saying, speaking from their "feel" or "sense" of the site, that "I don't think this post is FPP-worthy" or "I don't think this post belongs on Metafilter."

I mean "someone's blog post"? 90% of the new material coming onto the Internet is posted to websites that by a fairly conservative definition could be called a personal blog. And CamelCasedNameofWebsiteFilter is something that can be applied for any site, and seems to have a growing number of additions to it.

At this point, it sounds like I'm constructing an argument against mod opinion being a factor, but here's where I hopefully shake off that criticism by saying outright that here's the rub: I have utterly no problem with a mod deleting something because they (even if it is only they) don't think it belongs on Metafilter or they don't think it's FPP-worthy, because Metafilter's a pretty damn good website and the combined "what's FPP-worthy" taste of Jessamyn, Matt & Cortex has made Mefi what it is and kept it pretty reliably on track for a while. So, you know, were that the reason, I could completely respect a statement of mod "FPP-worthiness" taste. That's not, however, what we get.

So I guess to wrap it up, I'm looking for some clarity in two particular areas:

(1) I'm kind of wondering if the mods might consider dumping some of the more gray-area semantics currently employed – which I feel is disingenuous in many, many a case – and just consider outright saying in a few cases, "Hey, I deleted this because, frankly, I thought the post sucked, and I've done a pretty good job modding the site over the last few years, so suck it, haters." Maybe not quite that confrontational, mind you, but perhaps "mod taste" could just be an cause for deletion employed by the mods (and let's admit it, it's already being routinely employed -- I'm just saying "truth in labeling" here) and endorsed by the community.

(2) I'm wondering if I/we/anyone/Fiefel the Mouse could get some clarification as to how the three factors interact/rank with each other. Because, basically, I've seen each of them depicted in various deletions of people's threads as having overrode the other two ... and it makes it a little difficult to figure out of the three factors, how they interact/rank against each other. If the Mefi crowds react well to it but the mods don't like it, does it stay? If the mods think it's fine, or even good, but it gets heavily flagged, is it gone? If the mods think it's fine, people don't bother to flag it, but the comment section goes to hell, what determines if the post gets pruned and kept, or nuked from orbit?
posted by WCityMike to MetaFilter-Related at 10:38 PM (29 comments total)

Mike, all you need to know is two rules:

Rule number 1: The mods are always right.

Rule number 2: if the mods are wrong, see rule number 1.

If you really don't like how the moderating is done here, maybe you should seek a different site for your attention and posting.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 10:45 PM on September 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Chocolate Pickle: If you really don't like how the moderating is done here

Boy, that's some sloppy reading, there.
posted by WCityMike at 10:46 PM on September 24, 2010 [6 favorites]


If you really don't like how the moderating is done here, maybe you should seek a different site for your attention and posting.

That's not how MetaFilter works, thankfully.
posted by grouse at 10:47 PM on September 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


1. Nice timing on making this post, middle of mod-night, etc. Accident? I don't think so.

2. GYOBFW
posted by Rumple at 10:49 PM on September 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Quick, everybody go nuts!
posted by mlis at 10:53 PM on September 24, 2010 [8 favorites]


Why the need for bright lines and clear cut rules? There is a cabal, but there is not cabal algorithm. I look at it like this. Instead of worrying about how the three methods interact, since you are ok with mod experience and opinion as a legit factor, just assume they all fall into that category. Flag it and move on...
posted by JohnnyGunn at 10:55 PM on September 24, 2010


Linking to examples of what you're talking about would be helpful.

But the fact that there a lot of gray areas which can apply is a feature, not a bug.
posted by nomadicink at 10:56 PM on September 24, 2010


You can't quantify everything. And that's a good thing. If there was The Formula that weighed the three factors and churned out good/bad post outcomes...well, I think it would kill us all just a tiny bit and suck some of the joy out of this place.

Also, you're sorta suggesting a different way for the mods do their job. I know you're being earnest and curious, but I personally feel that it comes off kind of rude.

It's Saturday, go have fun and let the mods do the same!
posted by iamkimiam at 10:58 PM on September 24, 2010


*grabs beer*
posted by TheOtherGuy at 11:00 PM on September 24, 2010


Nailing jelly to a wall is impossible. Please tell me exactly how to nail jelly to a wall.
posted by Rumple at 11:01 PM on September 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


which I feel is disingenuous in many, many a case

Seriously, what? I won't tell you not to feel however the hell you feel but that's fairly insulting. We've been clear many times in the past that deletion reasons aren't essays and so detailed discussion of deletion reasoning beyond the basic gestural stuff there is better suited to email or metatalk in any specific case, but we sure as fuck don't make a habit of hiding behind fake-out reasoning in what we write there.

If you want to talk about specific examples of the "somebody's blog" thing (I've said this a couple times, definitely, but not in reference to the fact that the linked content is in blog format—no shit, a lot of stuff on the internet takes that form—but because it was a link to something that was as posted apparently just some random schlub's not particularly notable personal blog or whatever, which is thin without some compelling external context, just like news-of-the-weird wire blurbs are and so on) or the CamelCaseFilter thing (which I can parse but don't really know what deletions you're referring to here), then bring them up so we can actually look at them and figure out what your point of contention is.

We have talked, at length and in detail pretty much on demand, about all of the factors that go into mod decision making and how deletions happen, in both clear cut and fuzzier circumstances. We'll keep talking about that stuff as it comes up, certainly, I know we always have new people around, but you've been around here forever Mike and I know you have to have read a couple dozen such discussions at minimum, and must know by now how much harder it is for us to respond to vague generalized complaints or assertions than to talk about the details of actual specific examples. The distance between "here is a mod decision or three that I would like to understand better" and "explain how everything works and also maybe change how you do your jobs" is not short. I feel like this is something you mostly know, so, I dunno what we're doing here exactly.

And, generally, it's late on a goddam Friday night and I'm heading to bed and for all I know Matt and Jess have already as well. The timing on this is bizarre. I don't know how not to be a little bit grumpy and dismayed by the whole shebang here.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:03 PM on September 24, 2010 [18 favorites]


*grabs coke spoon*
posted by nomadicink at 11:03 PM on September 24, 2010 [5 favorites]


I really think it's a judgment call on the part of the mods, and less of an opinion-based action and more reason-based.

I know (in the sense of having met and spent at least some time with) Jessamyn and Cortex, and I trust their judgment pretty much implicitly. That's not to say they don't have their bad days, but overall, I think the modding here is pretty evenhanded and not at all smothering.

This is a community of people, and there are probably a couple hundred of us that participate in some manner daily. (As an aside, I'd actually like to know what those figures are now.) At any rate, the particular mix of regulars seems to make some subjects tank immediately, and others limp along and die out, and others soar. Life goes on.
posted by pjern at 11:07 PM on September 24, 2010


Close it up cortex, it is attention-whoring.
posted by Rumple at 11:07 PM on September 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


Please tell me exactly how to nail jelly to a wall.

Carefully.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:08 PM on September 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah, calling out the mods for, basically, the entire way the site is run is not a fantastic idea, particularly late on a Friday night.
posted by The World Famous at 11:08 PM on September 24, 2010


If you really don't like how the moderating is done here, maybe you should seek a different site for your attention and posting.

If you really don't like how Chocolate Pickle answers your question, wait for the next response, because Chocolate Pickle likes to be "first" and/or "most authoritative-sounding" and undoubtedly someone else will be along with the actual correct answer.
posted by amyms at 11:08 PM on September 24, 2010 [11 favorites]


it was a link to something that was as posted apparently just some random schlub's not particularly notable personal blog or whatever, which is thin without some compelling external context

Yeah, that right there. Notability ... thinness ... ? Some of the best stuff I've seen people post deeply enjoyable crap that was thin enough to see through, and I've seen stuff that was so unknown that it could definitely not be considered "notable" ... you're explaining the gray "blog post" reasoning by using gray adjectives. And I'm not attacking you for it, I'm just saying it's a synonym for mods' tastes in posts, which I'm saying is the underlying true metric for those gray-area deletions.

And, generally, it's late on a goddam Friday night and I'm heading to bed and for all I know Matt and Jess have already as well. The timing on this is bizarre. I don't know how not to be a little bit grumpy and dismayed by the whole shebang here.

Chill, Cortex. I don't really see this as an emergency, or a major callout or fight, or something that needs to have a problem with being handled in the asynchronous manner that Internet communications usually do. Hell, go to bed; I'm about to. This isn't a fight or a callout, it's a request for knowledge/understanding. I didn't really see the time of night that I was posting it as something particularly evil (as Rumple's little "you villain, you attention-whorer, you dastardly evil Mefite, you're posting it now as a sneak attack against the mods, and I'll just conveniently ignore that part wherein you praise them for an entire paragraph" comment goes), as I didn't see it as representing something that was so urgent or timely that it needed a response immediately.
posted by WCityMike at 11:19 PM on September 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


To be honest WCityMike, we have to be purposely vague in our deletion reasons because often people tear them apart word by word and read too much into things. If I ever sound vague in deletion reasons it's because someone has misinterpreted what I've said before or taken a single deletion reason and turned it into a blanket statement about site policy.

Honestly, I don't know what exactly prompted this and we've explained many, many times (often on late Friday nights it seems) how we do our moderation duties. I can't even tell if you're mad at a few deletions or that we're too vague in our reasons or something, this post comes off pretty muddled.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 11:20 PM on September 24, 2010 [9 favorites]


Sometimes, Mike, I'd swear you're angling for a moderator position, and you're hoping that if you write enough essays on MeTa, they just might notice your qualifications.
posted by katillathehun at 11:24 PM on September 24, 2010 [4 favorites]


Also, first ... and last, 'cause I'm not going to let this develop into a fight ... addressing of this particular subsubject already alive and thriving in the thread: in the above MetaTalk post, I spend nearly an entire paragraph stating that I think Cortex, Jessamyn, and Matt run the site amazingly well and that it is their taste in what is FPP-worthy and what isn't that is one of the two primary factors that makes the site as good as it is.

Again, that's nearly an entire paragraph; not a tossaway word or sentence, but a whole bloody paragraph.

Thus far, in response, we have Chocolate Pickle employing a modification of the "this is Amurica, love it or leave it" riff, we have Rumple telling me I'm an attention-whoring fuckwit who should get his own blog and is making this post in the middle of the night as a form of sneak attack against the mods, and we have the World Famous characterizing this as a callout of the mods.

That's either some amazingly kneejerk unthinking site-patriotism, some really shallow skimming of the source material, or some excellent trolldom. But in any case, it's a characterization of the source material that's pretty much diametrically opposite to what's there.
posted by WCityMike at 11:28 PM on September 24, 2010


There's three sides to every story. Yours and mine and the cold hard truth.
posted by wv kay in ga at 11:33 PM on September 24, 2010


and we have the World Famous characterizing this as a callout of the mods.

Um, isn't it a callout of the mods? My main point was that starting a MeTa post late Friday night that calls on the mods to discuss and defend a fundamental and complex policy of the site is sort of crappy.

But then, I'm at work late on a Friday night, so I'm probably just getting annoyed that you're making them work late, too.
posted by The World Famous at 11:34 PM on September 24, 2010


It's not whether you praise the mods or not, its that you open a can of worms that has already been opened numerous times and which has the potential to create a long, argumentative Meta thread, and you do it last thing on a Friday night. The fact you do it with a smile on your face in no way covers the appearance this is a self-indulgent and pointless thread to add to the majority of the other eighty-three MetaTalk threads you've made. The praise you claim to be dispensing is just a disingenuous frame you are putting around another in a history of attention seeking posts. I mean, I don't know you from a hole in the ground, but if you are bored, go rent a movie or something. If you care about the site, don't lay a dump on it then demand everyone calls it a rose.
posted by Rumple at 11:34 PM on September 24, 2010 [11 favorites]


I didn't really see the time of night that I was posting it as something particularly evil

Honestly, if you can't understand how the language of this post and the timing of it could be seen as an attack of sorts, then maybe you shouldn't be posting to MeTa.

One of my personal rules for making a MeTa post is that it be done during daylight hours so most of the mods and community have time to see and think about it. Posting it late at just doesn't seem helpful to an intelligent discussion. It's kinda like walking into a resturant 5 min before they close. It's technically fine, but also strikes me as thoughtless of the people working there as they'd no doubt like to leave ad early as they can.
posted by nomadicink at 11:36 PM on September 24, 2010 [5 favorites]


democracy is complaint driven
posted by philip-random at 11:38 PM on September 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think it's hilarious that you're referring to this bullshit post as "the source material."
posted by dhammond at 11:38 PM on September 24, 2010 [3 favorites]


Since evidently this thread's wording and timing is an attack upon the moderators, and it was definitely not my wish nor intention to cause excess workload or grief in the manner suggested by nomadicink's metaphor, if this thread could be closed, I would appreciate that. I apologize for any inconvenience caused to the mods.
posted by WCityMike at 11:40 PM on September 24, 2010


WCityMike, this post of yours is nearly 700 words long, or about 650 words too many, so it shouldn't be a surprise people are interpreting it different ways.

As others have said, it sucks to drop this at nearly midnight on Friday. It means god-knows-what will get posted all night and we'll have to nurse this thread all weekend. A thread like this can ruin the weekend plans for three people helping run the site and if me or cortex sounds crabby, that's why.

You mentioned the mods should be more assertive in your post, so I'm going to go ahead and assert some mod power and close this up. I don't want to have to explain minor moderator decision policy all weekend and have to come back to this thread for several days. You've posted about this kind of stuff before and I feel like we've hashed it out many times already.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 11:42 PM on September 24, 2010 [46 favorites]


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