How to determine what constitutes outragefilter November 14, 2010 6:59 AM   Subscribe

What is "outragefilter"? How do we tell?

I've seen a lot of posts about terrible things deleted from the frontpage because they were deemed "recreational outrage". It's a good reason for deletion; if the conversation can't go anywhere but GRAR, it doesn't even really qualify as conversation.

But here we have a thread about Uwe Boll doing something terrible. This is unsurprising; the man has done a lot of terrible things for money in the past. The only place the thread could go is to making mean-spirited fun of Uwe Boll, and that is where it went.

Why is this post better than "recreational outrage"?

I suspect there is a good reason, because the thread has a pretty high proportion of genuinely funny comments. I want to understand why.
posted by LogicalDash to Etiquette/Policy at 6:59 AM (58 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

I'm pretty sure the reason is that the "recreational outrage" posts are fighty and collect flags like nobody's business. If a thread is full of funny comments and nobody's flagging it, why would it be deleted?
posted by languagehat at 7:21 AM on November 14, 2010


Good question.

While I won't argue that this (or pretty much any) Uwe Boll post imaginable isn't recreational outrage, I think the difference is that it's literally recreational. Though there's plenty to be outraged about it, because it isn't obvious police brutality or puppy drowning, there will always be those that believe that since it isn't hurting anyone physically, getting incensed isn't that important. And there will always be those here who disagree.

Meanwhile, the other examples of outrage filter I gave, though labeled recreational by standards here, are anything but. And beyond saying "WTF" and getting worked up, they don't really offer a lot.

That's just my 2 cents after just waking up though; I'm interested to see what others think.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 7:21 AM on November 14, 2010


But here we have a thread about Uwe Boll doing something terrible. This is unsurprising; the man has done a lot of terrible things for money in the past. The only place the thread could go is to making mean-spirited fun of Uwe Boll, and that is where it went.

Well, the first thing is that you are absolutely wrong in characterizing the thread that way. If you actually read the thread, a number of people, myself included, defended Boll and think that his Holocaust movie is a good thing. To me, this is not even close to outragefilter: this is a story about an interesting, controversial filmmaker making an interesting, controversial movie.

In fact, this metatalk post is, frankly, bizarre to me. Did you even read the thread? There's no fighting going on in there at all! In fact, it's a really interesting and civil conversation between a bunch of people who don't like his movies and some people who do. I'd hold this thread up as a great example of metafilter doing what it does best: discussing a potentially touchy issue in a thoughtful way.
posted by Frobenius Twist at 7:22 AM on November 14, 2010 [8 favorites]


I don't really know who Uwe Boll is, but I can scan a thread - as I just did over the last minute and a half - and it seems to me that you are making the assumption that your personal view of Uwe Boll reflects the majority position. Clearly this is not the case.

It's not triggering outrage because there is nuance and depth and complexity in the subject matter, enough that people are discussing current and past material in a manner that suggests that there is no single reaction at play.

So this post is better than recreational outrage because it does not attract a single response that might otherwise be summarised as "AARRRGGGHHHHH!!". Do you now understand why?
posted by peacay at 7:22 AM on November 14, 2010


Film-making vs. acts of violence, meme-stuff (Uwe Boll, Awful Director) vs. pitchfork-gathering. Those are the two big dynamic differences, to me: there's something to discuss (primarily but not entirely in a snarky vein, in this case) rather than just be angry and holler about, the stakes are very different from an actual Awful Thing Happened sort of situation, and there's a general understanding going in that the transgressive aspect of the subject of the post is more like Tacky Guy Is Tacky than anything.

So if you want to know why it's different from what we would be likely to delete as "recreational outrage", that's my fuzzy take. There's a degree of "I know it when I see it" on that front, but, yeah, the difference between a notoriously bad-filmaker making another notably bad film and something awful on a personal or political level occurring is a pretty key one.

Why it's "better" than recreational outrage is a more complicated question that needs careful framing to be able to answer. I'd say that loosely speaking it's better for mefi insofar as it's a lot less likely to piss a bunch of people off and lead to crappy behavior on the site. That it hasn't been flagged at all or produced any flagged comments is a decent sign that people are (a) okay with the post and (b) handling the thread okay, and that's a pretty decent baseline measurement of success.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:24 AM on November 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


I think a key part of recreational outrage is that a news story about a particular act is the entire post (no context, no history, no other side) and topic has been done several times on metafilter recently. A post which consists solely of a link to a news story about a cop shooting an unarmed civilian, for example.
posted by shothotbot at 7:26 AM on November 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Every time Uwe Boll comes up I think, "Who's Uwe Boll?" then I read some of the comments, and I realize I am probably better off not knowing. My curiosity goes no where. I don't look him up. I don't get upset at my obvious ignorance. And so it goes until the next time Uwe Boll comes up. "Who's Uwe Boll?" Oh, never mind.

Sometimes, I think I live a life to be envied. Fear me.
posted by cjorgensen at 8:03 AM on November 14, 2010 [13 favorites]


Having been through genocidal experiences myself, not that long ago, I suppose I could take any sort of "outraged" position on the Uwe Boll Auschwitz film post and be somewhat justified in doing so. But - as I pointed out in the thread - to the best of my knowledge, I've never seen one of his films, and while I get that he's generally considered not all-that-great, the trailer was pretty evocative for me. And on this basis, the film could either be a compelling new take on depictions of the Holocaust, or a version of "Saw" set against a genuine historical occurrence. One would be worth someone having done; the other, not so much.

A lot of people bashed Uwe Boll. That isn't surprising. But a lot of people defended him, or his efforts in doing the movie and said, basically, let's reserve our judgement on this until we see the film. On the whole, it was a pretty civil discussion, given where threads on provocative and controversial artists go, not to mention threads having anything to do with Judaism.

So I don't know what you're talking about. In fact, you set this post up with some assumptions which aren't really accurate. I didn't see the thread being about Boll doing something terrible, even if it turns out that that's what he's done. I saw it simply as a post about a controversial and often disliked filmmaker making a film certain to elicit controversy.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 8:12 AM on November 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Funny, I thought it was a pretty great thread. If posts like that are wrong, then I don't want to be right.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 8:30 AM on November 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


The only place the thread could go is to making mean-spirited fun of Uwe Boll, and that is where it went.

If you read down to the fifth comment, I think it's clear that people have more nuanced things to say than GRAR. So I disagree with your premise and conclusion, based on evidence in the thread itself.
posted by oneirodynia at 9:01 AM on November 14, 2010


I don't really know Uwe Boll. That post has almost no flags. It's possible that your assessment of where the thread could and did go is somewhat off. Outragefilter is basically a borrowed term for some sort of "Persona does something totally reprehensible, here's very little information about it. Grar!" and then the thread is basically full of people being like "this is so fucking awful!" but again, there's no there there. This is just a post about someone that a lot of people dislike, but it's a serious post with a lot of links and discussion seems to be going okay.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:15 AM on November 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


Oh, I think it's a great thread. Never said otherwise. I meant to talk about the FPP, which seems to have all the characteristics of an outrage bait post.

I like this particular brand of mean-spirited fun-making, and if it inspires some defense of the man that's fine too. And still I am having a hard time distinguishing this from recreational outrage, save for the fact that it's funnier than outrage normally is.
posted by LogicalDash at 9:19 AM on November 14, 2010


As I was reading through that thread, I literally said to myself, "This is what I like Mefi to be."

It was a thoughtful, provoking conversation where people disagreed without getting flamey.
posted by meese at 9:19 AM on November 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ah... yeah, when I said "and that is where the thread went" I meant that there was in fact a lot of mean-spirited fun-making, not that there wasn't anything else.

The presence of anything-else would seem to be a good indicator of the FPP's quality. If that's the only test for whether a post is outragefilter... well, okay. I thought it had to be something intrinsic to the FPP and not to the mood the hivemind is in this morning.
posted by LogicalDash at 9:24 AM on November 14, 2010


You're still focused on the fact that through your glasses, the thread appears to be nothing but a series of takedowns of Uwe Boll. Other people are suggesting there is more to the thread. I would posit that the post itself does a good job of framing Boll's film as a starting off point to discuss what is or what should be characterized as appropriate or inappropriate depictions of the Holocaust in general and Auschwitz in particular, and that the thread follows naturally from there.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 9:24 AM on November 14, 2010


But here we have a thread about Uwe Boll doing something terrible.

I see people saying he's a terrible filmmaker, but where does it say in the thread that he's "doing something terrible" with this movie specifically? Or is that just your opinion?

The only place the thread could go is to making mean-spirited fun of Uwe Boll, and that is where it went.

Or ... this comment. Or the one right after it. Or this.
posted by John Cohen at 9:24 AM on November 14, 2010


Ah... yeah, when I said "and that is where the thread went" I meant that there was in fact a lot of mean-spirited fun-making, not that there wasn't anything else.

No, you literally said there wasn't anything else in the thread:

The only place the thread could go is to making mean-spirited fun of Uwe Boll, and that is where it went.

If you just meant the thread had some mean-spirited fun-making of Uwe Boll but also other stuff, why did you say that was the "only" place the thread went?
posted by John Cohen at 9:26 AM on November 14, 2010


And of course people are going to make fun of Uwe Boll. It is an almost international and intergenerational consensus that he is, if not the worst filmmaker ever, in the select circle of special humans who are. So, should the worst filmmaker ever make a realistic film about the horrors of Auschwitz? To me, it's pretty fascinating to think about.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 9:27 AM on November 14, 2010


Oh, I think it's a great thread. Never said otherwise. I meant to talk about the FPP

When you say this, you do not give the impression you thought it was a "great thread":

The only place the thread could go is to making mean-spirited fun of Uwe Boll, and that is where it went.

That "could go" certainly sounded like you were describing all the comments, not just the "FPP" part.
posted by John Cohen at 9:28 AM on November 14, 2010


I meant that there was in fact a lot of mean-spirited fun-making

Stop that this minute. How DARE people make mean-spirited fun of a director who challenges his critics to boxing matches?

How very dare you?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 9:41 AM on November 14, 2010


Here's an example of outragefilter and a more interesting (IMO, since I did the second post) and non outragefilter type post that has the same links but in a different presentation and context.

The difference between the two is fascinating.
posted by nomadicink at 9:45 AM on November 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


Posts on:

Israel
The financial crisis/Goldman Sachs
Lady Gaga
The Tea Party/Christine Odonnell
Ayn Rand
Sports
Peak Oil
posted by T.D. Strange at 10:09 AM on November 14, 2010


It's not outragefilter because almost everyone can get behind hating Uwe Boll. If almost everyone likes joining in on the pile-on, it's not going to get pulled.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:39 AM on November 14, 2010


And just to reiterate, this post has not been flagged at all. At some level we want to take the temperature of the site and see how people are feeling about a particular post and this one just isn't registering on people's radar as problematic. Just because it's a post about someone people dislike doesn't automatically make a post abotu them problematic.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:50 AM on November 14, 2010


Hey, I worded my post badly, I'm sorry about that.

I saw a post on Uwe Boll making a new and more exploitative film. I got in while there were only, oh, twenty comments or so? And while some of those were not in fact ragin', and in particular there was Astro Zombie's serious defense of the thing, it still looked to me like the thread had all the components of outragefilter.

"And that is where the thread went". I shouldn't have put that sentence right after "The only place the thread could go is to making mean-spirited fun of Uwe Boll", because then it looks like the "only" carries over and it looks like I said something equivalent to "And that is the only place the thread went".

So, it looked to me as though the thread had all the components of outragefilter, and--I really should have said this up front--also had some really worthwhile stuff in it. Is it saved from the outrage bin by the strength of the nonrage comments alone?
posted by LogicalDash at 10:51 AM on November 14, 2010


Is it saved from the outrage bin by the strength of the nonrage comments alone?

I feel like some of it is also the tone and wording of the post. The post is just "hey this is what's up with Uwe Boll lately" not "Uwe Boll is a huge fucking asshole and should die in a prison" and that sort of thing helps both set the tone of the discussion and also affect how people respond to it with flagging and the like.

And some topics, as TD Strange says, tend to lean more that way than others. So threads on

- parent doing something terribly abusive to children
- rape, especially institutionalized rape
- animal abuse
- police brutality and/or racial angles of same, especially in the US
- shitty things Israel has done

Tend to go badly because they stir up a lot of emotions which some people release by being hostile with each other. For whatever reason Uwe Boll doesn't dreg up the same lousy feelings that give people both a combination of

1. this bad thing happened
2. this needs to never happen again
3. some sense of urgency or responsibility for it happening "on our watch"
4. maybe some sort of protecting victims thing?

So even though Uwe Boll is a racist and makes these weird movies [and again I know very little about the man] there's not a sense that there's a disaster in progress that we need to fight with other people about in order to get it to stop, and very few people seem to feel implicated by Boll's actions. In many other cases we might call outragefilter -- which is just a shorthand reason for deletion, not a criteria we view every thread through -- there's some sort of blame aspect and an urgency aspect. Both of those seem missing in this case.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:00 AM on November 14, 2010 [4 favorites]


Posts on:

Ayn Rand


Too lazy to dig up a link, but the last few posts mentioning her have been largely kind and sympathetic toward her works. (And you can do this without necessarily agreeing with her personal philosophy, which is exactly what happened)
posted by schmod at 11:05 AM on November 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


OK, I think I get it.
posted by LogicalDash at 11:09 AM on November 14, 2010


... making mean-spirited fun of Uwe Boll ...

You say that like it's a bad thing.
posted by Bruce H. at 11:11 AM on November 14, 2010


Bruce H., I was being facetious. I agree, making mean-spirited fun of Uwe Boll is funny and the man has totally earned it.
posted by LogicalDash at 11:17 AM on November 14, 2010


This is outrageous. I am outraged.
posted by finite at 11:46 AM on November 14, 2010


This thread keeps making me think of Lionel Richie.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:47 AM on November 14, 2010


Using the phrase 'recreational outrage' is most often a fundamentally craven and bad faith attempt to justify not being moved by things that are, in fact, very moving to emotionally intact human beings.

Around here, when someone uses it in a direct way, I try to make a mental note of that so I know to discount whatever they might say in the future.
posted by jamjam at 11:49 AM on November 14, 2010


Is that Anil's little bro?
posted by BeerFilter at 11:52 AM on November 14, 2010


This thread keeps making me think of Lionel Richie.

EVERYTHING reminds you of Lionel Richie, let it go, it's over, he's moved on.
posted by nomadicink at 11:53 AM on November 14, 2010 [4 favorites]


Why is this not outragefilter?

I think one difference is that there is a real distinction between reportage of war crimes etc. on the one hand, and simple aesthetic judgments on the other.

We can argue about whether or not some particular work of art is the worst ever, or just the worst so far this year, without the thread ever reaching the level of discussing horrible things that happen in the real world.

Art is not life.
posted by AsYouKnow Bob at 11:53 AM on November 14, 2010


This new post on the front page is textbook example of outragefilter. Seriously, what can you do with that be get pisssed? There's no intelligent presentation or context given, it's just LOOK AT THIS AWFUL THING, ISN'T IT HORRIBLE.

Christ, it's like the regular internet.
posted by nomadicink at 12:07 PM on November 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Found something on the web that makes you so hoppin' mad you just have to share it? put it on your own blog.
posted by Wolfdog at 12:09 PM on November 14, 2010


Crap is in the eye of the beholder. You see outrage filter, I see a thread in which I learned about some good, non-Uwe movies, and a funny anecdote about a press junket to an Uwe movie.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:36 PM on November 14, 2010


Every time Uwe Boll comes up I think, "Who's Uwe Boll?"

Don't feel bad, I keep thinking he's Usian Bolt. I think after this though, I will finally have it straight.
posted by sunshinesky at 12:44 PM on November 14, 2010


This new post on the front page is textbook example of outragefilter. Seriously, what can you do with that be get pisssed? There's no intelligent presentation or context given, it's just LOOK AT THIS AWFUL THING, ISN'T IT HORRIBLE.

Christ, it's like the regular internet.


Would you feel better if there was a [via] to Reddit? lol
posted by sunshinesky at 12:46 PM on November 14, 2010


This new post on the front page is textbook example of outragefilter.

Was just coming here to say that.

Using the phrase 'recreational outrage' is most often a fundamentally craven and bad faith attempt to justify not being moved by things that are, in fact, very moving to emotionally intact human beings.

We use it here as mods, not often, but as shorthand to explain that "posts that are just an excuse for the entire site to co-hate on a very touchy subject and yell at each other" are not really so great for MetaFilter. Just because something touches a nerve does not mean it's necessary to make an angry post about it on MetaFilter.

I'm aware that this is a subject on which reasonable people disagree, but I think it's useful to know that this is a term that is used here, whether you like that or not. We are not using it in bad faith. You are welcome to discount what we say in the future.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:22 PM on November 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


If all a thread does is piss people off, it should be deleted. That seems to be "outragefilter".
If something isn't being flagged and isn't causing a huge ruckus in the comments, I don't think it should be deleted.

The Uwe Boll thread falls in the 2nd category, so it stayed up.
On preview, what jessamyn said.
posted by azarbayejani at 1:33 PM on November 14, 2010


Don't feel bad, I keep thinking he's Usian Bolt.

I thought it was about that nice basketball player, Manute Bol. I even favorited it at first. But now I know it's about some guy who makes movies I'll never watch based on games I'll never play. Anyone who pays to see a movie based on a video game is asking for a floater in his punch bowl. If you get anything better than that, consider the ticket price quite fair.
posted by pracowity at 2:00 PM on November 14, 2010


Anyone who pays to see a movie based on a video game is asking for a floater in his punch bowl.

WHAT!!!?

Oh, never mind.
posted by metagnathous at 2:17 PM on November 14, 2010


EVERYTHING reminds you of Lionel Richie, let it go, it's over, he's moved on.

I wonder where he is, and I wonder what he does. Is he somewhere feeling lonely, or is someone loving him?
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:26 PM on November 14, 2010 [5 favorites]


Note to self regarding a deleted post linked in this thread: do not confuse "a black mail carrier" with "a blackmail carrier."
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 3:20 PM on November 14, 2010


THIS......IS.......OUTRAGEFILTER

*pushes OP into giant tater pit*
posted by schmod at 4:42 PM on November 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


This thread keeps making me think of Lionel Richie.

Say you. But Not Say me.
posted by jonmc at 4:42 PM on November 14, 2010


Because of the 1985 American Music Awards, you see. When Prince won something, he'd go up to the mic and say, "Thanks" and then sit down. But Lionel Richie, who kept winning one award after the other, became more and more psyched every time he was announced as the winner in some category - jumping around, fist-pumping, doing back-flips and cartwheels and Triple Lyndies - and he kept yelling "Out-RAY-geous!" every time he went to the podium. Plus he was wearing some hideous sequin and plaid jacket, a daring combination. So now every time I see or hear the words "outrage" or "outrageous", there's Lionel Richie, jumping all over the AMA stage in my head.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 5:03 PM on November 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


Let's roll over Lionel Richie with a tank.
posted by Wolfdog at 5:44 PM on November 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


Every time Uwe Boll comes up I think, "Who's Uwe Boll?"

Don't feel bad, I keep thinking he's Usian Bolt. I think after this though, I will finally have it straight.


This made me laugh. It's Usain, not Usian. He is, in fact, not Usian.

And I agree with meese. I have no opinion of Uwe Boll because I've never seen his films, but that was an interesting thread that actually exemplifies what I like about MeFi.
posted by misozaki at 6:24 PM on November 14, 2010


I finally found out his name is pronounced "oo-vay". I've never actually heard anyone say it before. So that's something.
posted by dead cousin ted at 6:59 PM on November 14, 2010


Sometimes, I think I live a life to be envied. Fear me.

Wouldn't envying you make more sense?
posted by davejay at 10:34 PM on November 14, 2010


oo-vay? rather oo-vuh with the emphasis on oo. Like Porsh-uh, not Porsh, nor Por-shay (for Porsche). Names are weird.
posted by Namlit at 2:03 AM on November 15, 2010


Oy vey.
posted by pracowity at 5:08 AM on November 15, 2010


I'm just going to come right out and say that I'm totally against rape, killing children, genocide, and ordering a half-caf, "wet" pumpkin spiced latte chilled to room temperature when there's a line of people behind me. These things we must not tolerate.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 7:28 AM on November 15, 2010


When you're sitting up on the hill, and you hear the faint sounds of a distant crowd gathering in the valley below, and then taste the whiff of kerosene in the air--burning kerosene--you know the torches have been lit. That's a good time to head out of MeTaville for a few days: it's OutrageFilterFest, and the woods will soon be crawling with witchburners. Run! Run! and stick to the blue and green areas of the map!
posted by not_on_display at 8:04 AM on November 15, 2010


« Older You got sports in my MetaFilter!   |   MeFi XMPP/Jabber chat (not a pony) Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments