needs more context? November 28, 2010 8:49 AM   Subscribe

When is "needs more context" an appropriate reason for deletion?

Yesterday evening I submitted a metafilter post (pointing out this website) that was just a single link, with a description of what I was linking to (a descriptive list of bombings of commercial aircraft). I thought, and still think, that the post works better as a single link.

The post was deleted, with the explanation: "A little context for this probably would be a good idea."

What I'm not clear about, and the reason this goes to Metatalk, is the question of when the need for additional context can serve as an appropriate reason for deletion. Why in a case like this is more context necessary, when other single-link posts (a list of 100 spaceships, or a baby owl) are permitted, "context-free," as it were? It seems more that a little arbitrary.

With respect to this post on airline bombings that relates pretty clearly to recent TSA controversies, bombings, the security state and so forth, I would have thought that the context here (the one that most readers will focus on, anyhow) is unusually obvious, and that posting links to CNN, the NYT, etc. about these issues would at best be adding a bunch of already-familiar filler material, and would also tend towards editorializing.

And since "lack of context" isn't listed in the FAQ's list of common reasons for deletion, I need to raise two related questions: 1) how often is "context needed" or some variation thereof cited as a reason for deletion, and 2) how can submitters know whether or not their post requires additional context, and judge what sort of context might be required in order for their post to avoid deletion under Metafilter's guidelines?

One would think that context would normally be required when introducing a subject or question that isn't already widely familiar. I'm not sure why this common sense understanding shouldn't be sufficient.
posted by washburn to Etiquette/Policy at 8:49 AM (66 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

Some additional remarks more specific to my own deleted thread. I note that three comments in the thread's discussion mention context (one agreeing with me, saying that context isn't necessary here). The other two criticize the post: Dusnmill asks why this isn't merely "trivia" without more context. Dunsmill doesn't state what context would render the post less trivial; however Chasing does. Chasing writes: "maybe a little context or something would be useful here. For example: It seems we've had an exceptional twenty-year run, minus a few incidents. The last incident involving a flight to or from the US on this list is Pan Am 103 in 1988. Which might be something to consider when deciding whether the current precautions (dumping bottled water, "gate rape," etc) are really necessary."

It's hard for me to avoid noticing that Chasing's request for "context" is really a request for editorializing from his point of view. And I have to confess that I tend to suppose that requests for more "context" for this post may in fact reflect the fact that the context here is abundantly clear, and that feelings are strong now about this issue (I'm guessing these feelings may also have prompted the post to get flagged more that usual).

I appreciate Chasing's comment, but I certainly think his point of view is best expressed from inside the discussion. Moreover, I'm kind of disturbed to see this sort of off-handed deletion done without a violation of Metafilter guidelines, and done for the reason that "probably" some more context of some kind might have been better. My sense is that off-handed deletions of this sort tend to harm Metafilter more than help it, and I respectfully suggest that mods consider restoring the post and the comments thread.
posted by washburn at 8:53 AM on November 28, 2010


I think the link was pretty interesting, but with a title like 'Boom' it looks like some kind of sick stunt post.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:55 AM on November 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


The things that make you go boom
Things that make you go boom
The things that make you go boom, boom, boom
posted by gman at 8:56 AM on November 28, 2010


With respect to this post on airline bombings that relates pretty clearly to recent TSA controversies, bombings, the security state and so forth, I would have thought that the context here (the one that most readers will focus on, anyhow) is unusually obvious, and that posting links to CNN, the NYT, etc. about these issues would at best be adding a bunch of already-familiar filler material, and would also tend towards editorializing.

You could have included something, anything really to put some context around it. I saw the post and wondered why it was posted. It's a cool link and my first impression was that there were far, far more actual airplane bombings than I ever thought (I would have guessed maybe a dozen or two happened if you asked me before I saw the list). Even just saying something like "How many airplane bombings have taken place in the past century? Ten? Twenty? Try 85, according to _this list of the history of airplane bombings_"

If a post leaves the reader wondering why something was posted and being highlighted without being described (or described in a few vague words), we delete them.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 8:56 AM on November 28, 2010 [5 favorites]


23skidoo, in the original thread: "This is better without any context." I agree. Any context would be pointless padding here. This shouldn't have been deleted.
posted by enn at 8:58 AM on November 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


1) how often is "context needed" or some variation thereof cited as a reason for deletion

Not that often, but there's an ongoing sort of back and forth about how much "mystery meat" in posts is okay.

2) how can submitters know whether or not their post requires additional context, and judge what sort of context might be required in order for their post to avoid deletion under Metafilter's guidelines?

Just want to start by saying that you can't always 100% determine that a post won't get removed, but generally speaking we're more likely to delete something for "um people aren't getting this" [i.e. maybe more context would help] than "Hey you overexplained this". There are overly wordy posts that seem more like "this is what I was reading this week" article dumps with ten hundred-word pullquotes, but generally explaining why you think something is interesting is a good idea if maybe people aren't going to connect the dots.

And honestly, the title "Boom" took it, for me, from "this is something interesting" to "maybe I am making a joke about this" and without any more idea of what you were doing it made the post read a little strangely. Terrible? No. But a post that is a single link to a list of tragedies might benefit from some framing. Not your fault that we do have people here who like to deal with upsetting news and information by making jokes about it, but without some additional context, it's unclear what your point was.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:00 AM on November 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


If a post leaves the reader wondering why something was posted and being highlighted without being described (or described in a few vague words), we delete them.

mathowie, this makes sense, but, as washburn mentioned, I don't really get how it gibes with a "list of 100 spaceships" or a "baby owl."
posted by grumblebee at 9:01 AM on November 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


You don't need context with a baby owl post because it's obvious that you're meant to watch the video and coo. When someone posts a link to statistics on plane bombings it's not nearly as clear. Is the post trying to make a point in the TSA debate, or was it just a neat site? Is it trying to say that bombings are more common than you might have thought or less common? Your comment and mathowie's comment demonstrate that it can be interpreted both ways. Leaving it vague like that does not make a good post.
posted by Rhomboid at 9:02 AM on November 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


I don't really get how it gibes with a "list of 100 spaceships" or a "baby owl."

Because people aren't going to start hollering at each other about a baby owl. Baby owls have a pacifying effect on people looking at baby owl videos. The opposite is true for "list of plane bombings" lists.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:03 AM on November 28, 2010 [10 favorites]


Yes, jacquilynne, the post's title seems also to have been an issue for some posters in the thread. Someone observed "stay classy metafilter" in response to the "Boom." title, which I have to confess kind of mystified me.

I'm not sure how the title is disrespectful or trivializing in any way. I think that the stark nature of the website--just a list of the events, minus the cable-tv chatter made "Boom." an especially appropriate title. It's the awful fact of the explosion. Or that's what it is to me.

The sounds of an explosion certainly doesn't amount to any kind of a joke, as far as I can see.

Ok...ducking out of the thread now.
posted by washburn at 9:03 AM on November 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't really get how it gibes with a "list of 100 spaceships" or a "baby owl."

I humbly suggest that we have had no 500-comment threads filled with outrage and namecalling over spaceships or baby owls. Plane bombings, on the other hand, bring with them atrocities and horror. I guarantee you if that post had stayed up, it would have devolved into more TSA grar.

On preview, yeah, what they said.
posted by Gator at 9:05 AM on November 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Okay, Gator and jessamyn. That makes sense to me. Perfectly clear rule: you need to provide context if there's a good chance a thread might get fighty. I'm sure the "rule" is more nuanced than that, but that does differentiate "airplane bombings" from "list of 100 spaceships." (Even though people who like the Millennium Falcon are fucking faggots!)
posted by grumblebee at 9:10 AM on November 28, 2010


that relates pretty clearly to recent TSA controversies, bombings, the security state and so forth
Exactly. That owl can just be cute without any context, everyone picks up on that, others will move on, no harm done. The 100 spaceships were one step more problematic, because the selection seemed so random. Some answers pointed that out. If a link goes to a random collection of unedited material, a pointer about why the link is interesting for the poster is a helpful thing.
Your post was likely to trigger all sorts of responses along the lines of what you say. Discussions about TSA have been heated of late, the topic of bombings is charged (hah) in all manner of ways, the security state discussion ditto. A link like this needs something more than boom, some guidance about what you find especially best-of-the-webby about it. I was surprised how long it survived, in fact.
posted by Namlit at 9:21 AM on November 28, 2010


Since you mentioned my comment: yeah, my thinking there was pretty much along the lines of what matt, jessamyn, and rhomboid have said. But I was not very clear on what I meant, and so my comment was perhaps a bit threadshitty, and for that I apologize.
posted by Dumsnill at 9:27 AM on November 28, 2010


(Even though people who like the Millennium Falcon are fucking faggots!)

I suspect that you're trying to be jokey or sarcastic or projecting like someone else would talk, but people say stuff like this seriously so I just wanted to let you know it's not obvious that you're doing that because plenty of people really talk like this. If this is meant to be jokey, I would appreciate it if you didn't make jokes like this.
posted by andoatnp at 9:33 AM on November 28, 2010 [33 favorites]


Baby owls have a pacifying effect on people looking at baby owl videos.

Baby owls are significantly more terrifying than airplane bombings.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 9:36 AM on November 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Washburn:

You're working very hard to have your opinion on this out there. You even acknowledge that other people have opinions but can go no farther than say they "mystify" you.

Which leaves this scenario: Everyone is picking on your post for no earthly reason, or at least for reasons that are patently mystifying. Cruel, arbitrary universe, etc.

Can I suggest something? Could you honestly try, without immediately sticking in your counterarguments, to imagine what other people are looking for here? If you had the make the best case available on behalf of the moderators, what would it be?

I'm not suggesting that you conclude that they're right — only that you stop pursuing a legalistic line and gain a little empathy for others' views here.

Personally, I prefer to assume that the moderators are the editors, they're working hard to keep the site on track, and more is to be gained by aiming at their targets than by complaining over "inconsistencies" in their deletions.
posted by argybarg at 9:39 AM on November 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


It was a typo. It should have read "needs more cowbell." Makes perfect sense now.
posted by fixedgear at 9:47 AM on November 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


You don't need context with a baby owl post because it's obvious that you're meant to watch the video and coo. When someone posts a link to statistics on plane bombings it's not nearly as clear. Is the post trying to make a point in the TSA debate, or was it just a neat site? Is it trying to say that bombings are more common than you might have thought or less common? Your comment and mathowie's comment demonstrate that it can be interpreted both ways.

What is wrong with it being interpreted more than one way? We're not third graders here waiting for a writing prompt, people here can say "Wow, a lot more bombs than I thought" or "Whut, way LESS than I thought" or "This just shows we don't need as much searching at the airport" all in the same thread without having someone frame it in a specific context. I think the fact that you're able to so quickly come up with more than one way this could be framed makes me think that this is not as much of a "I can't understand this post without any context" situation as it's being painted as.
posted by 23skidoo at 9:53 AM on November 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


The 100 things that don't actually exist is from a post with the explanatory phrase ""The 100 Best Movie Spaceships". The cute baby owl is explained by "Cute Owl Hunts Invisible Prey". Add in the fact that the 100 imaginary things from works of fiction and the single baby owl don't have a history of killing people, let alone for political or religious reasons and things seems a bit more understand, IMO.

You posted a list of of people getting killed by bombs. Killed. Murdered. By bombs. Damn right there should be context, because it's a painful and controversial topic for a lot of people.
posted by nomadicink at 9:56 AM on November 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


I suspect that you're trying to be jokey or sarcastic or projecting like someone else would talk, but people say stuff like this seriously so I just wanted to let you know it's not obvious that you're doing that because plenty of people really talk like this. If this is meant to be jokey, I would appreciate it if you didn't make jokes like this.

Major apologies! I never in my wildest dreams imagined what I wrote could be interpreted as anything but a joke. (Really? "Star Trek" fans -- or whatever -- call "Star Wars" fans faggots? That's totally bizarre to me. Back when I was a nerdy geek kid, we all banded together. I hated "Star Wars," but I still felt its fans were "my people.")

Thank you for alerting me to my bad taste and social blunder. Mods, please delete my comment -- or let it stand as an object lesson.
posted by grumblebee at 9:58 AM on November 28, 2010 [5 favorites]


You posted a list of of people getting killed by bombs. Killed. Murdered. By bombs. Damn right there should be context, because it's a painful and controversial topic for a lot of people.

Really? There is a big controversy over whether people should blow up airliners or not? I thought that was a pretty settled question for most of us.

I really don't understand at all this mindset that believes that you can't post an interesting historical timeline like this without a whole expository bit telling people how it is going to upset the preconceptions you imagine them to have. That seems like a very strange way to go about judging MetaFilter posts to me.
posted by enn at 10:00 AM on November 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Star Wars fans aren't fagots. But they are idiots.
posted by philip-random at 10:01 AM on November 28, 2010


Yeah, pretty much what Matt and Jess said. There's nothing wrong with a one-linker to interesting statistics in a vacuum, but one dropped with zero context and a questionable title when there's a like collective swirl of bad feelings about TSA-related stuff lately and an argument on the site in the last couple days about airline terrorism and related stuff: maybe not such a great idea. It was getting flagged quickly, it seems like if it's worth posting someone can pretty easily take another shot at it to make it clear why it's being posted.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:02 AM on November 28, 2010


... and, seeing as we're on the topic, why was this old post of mine deleted? I offered context (sort of) and nobody ended up calling anybody an idiot (sorry about that) or a fagot, and it even inspired some reasonably useful discussion?

Hint: this is sort of a rhetorical question which argybarg has already answered very well in this thread --

Can I suggest something? Could you honestly try, without immediately sticking in your counterarguments, to imagine what other people are looking for here? If you had the make the best case available on behalf of the moderators, what would it be? [...] Personally, I prefer to assume that the moderators are the editors, they're working hard to keep the site on track, and more is to be gained by aiming at their targets than by complaining over "inconsistencies" in their deletions.
posted by philip-random at 10:08 AM on November 28, 2010


When is "needs more context" an appropriate reason for deletion?

crap, that was supposed to say "needs more cortex".
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 10:13 AM on November 28, 2010


Did the video have spaceships and/or owls in it?
posted by Gator at 10:14 AM on November 28, 2010


You know, if you had put as much effort into the original post (five words, one link) as you did into complaining about its deletion (617 words, five links), it might not have been deleted in the first place.
posted by mcwetboy at 10:28 AM on November 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


Yeah, that's the problem with MetaFilter, no word count requirements. For crying out loud.
posted by enn at 10:32 AM on November 28, 2010


I would have thought it was deleted because it's a list of statistics. That's not interesting at all. I could post the statistics of my favorite basketball players too, but I wouldn't expect it to stand on its own.

(And I certainly don't think it would be helped by a paragraph of the "hey guys, this is what I think!!" editorializing that seems to be so popular lately.)
posted by drjimmy11 at 10:33 AM on November 28, 2010


We're not third graders here waiting for a writing prompt

Well, until we reach that level of sophistication, some allowances have to be made.
posted by Wolfdog at 10:36 AM on November 28, 2010 [5 favorites]


What is wrong with it being interpreted more than one way? We're not third graders

Right, we're not third-graders here, which means that everyone can very well surf the web and find boom content for themselves.
What makes MetaFilter interesting for me is when people
-- find fantastic self-explanatory links, or
-- combine material and tell us how and why they sorted it like that, or when they
-- link to something (provocative or otherwise) with some sort of an explanation of why they find it cool/interesting/horrifying/whatever.
I don't think that being interpreted more than one way is wrong. I do think that giving no clue whatsoever for enabling an interpretation at all is somewhat lacking.
posted by Namlit at 10:41 AM on November 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm generally all right with little or no context as I feel we should all be able to take things as we find (including negative responses), but then again also don't think having a post deleted is the end of the world either. So, largely in your camp washburn but also, them's the breaks.
posted by Abiezer at 10:42 AM on November 28, 2010


You don't need context with a baby owl post because it's obvious that you're meant to watch the video and coo.

lllllllllllllllllkm

Ok the first sentence is from my iguana crawling over my pc. Whether or not the bombing thread lacked context is beside the point that there are million sites with things that make people go "coo."

Does MF have to be yet another? Is this where avoiding controversy or confrontation leading us?

I have also noticed at least 2 posts on the wikileaks pending release deleted.

lack of context?
posted by Max Power at 10:42 AM on November 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


I enjoyed the link and didn't see any particular reason for the deletion.
posted by special-k at 10:43 AM on November 28, 2010


I'm not sure how the title is disrespectful or trivializing in any way. I think that the stark nature of the website--just a list of the events, minus the cable-tv chatter made "Boom." an especially appropriate title. It's the awful fact of the explosion. Or that's what it is to me.

We live in a world where things that go boom are considered nifty and cool. (See: shows like Demolition Men, the fact that Michael Bay has a career, etc.) When you summarize the violent deaths of thousands of people with a word like boom, you are trivializing their lives, the reasons for the bombings, the genuine fear people feel about terrorist threats, security issues and all those other things that are wrapped up in 'context', and wrapping them up with little more than comic book onomatapoeia.

I've written and re-written this to try and explain, and I'm still not sure that I can adequately express how cold and insensitive and just plain icky that title felt to me.
posted by jacquilynne at 10:55 AM on November 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


I've written and re-written this to try and explain, and I'm still not sure that I can adequately express how cold and insensitive and just plain icky that title felt to me.

Just like no one made me click on the "talking cats" link, no one made you click on the "list of commercial airline bombings" link. Did you do it just to find out that you could and would be offended by the title?
posted by Max Power at 11:03 AM on November 28, 2010


I don't think that being interpreted more than one way is wrong. I do think that giving no clue whatsoever for enabling an interpretation at all is somewhat lacking.

Okay, so no clue whatsoever was given for enabling an interpretation of the information presented in the link. Does that lack of interpretation really present any barrier to commenters? What is stopping them from reading the link, figuring out what they think about it, and posting that as a comment?
posted by 23skidoo at 11:05 AM on November 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


What is stopping them from reading the link, figuring out what they think about it, and posting that as a comment?

Good gravy, man, next you'll be asking us to chew our own food, too. Where will it end‽
posted by enn at 11:08 AM on November 28, 2010


Just like no one made me click on the "talking cats" link, no one made you click on the "list of commercial airline bombings" link. Did you do it just to find out that you could and would be offended by the title?

As I said above, I found the link itself really interesting. But this MeTa is about why the framing of what was otherwise an interesting link got it removed, and I'm trying to explain what my reaction was, since the original poster seems confused about how people could have misinterpreted his intent.
posted by jacquilynne at 11:13 AM on November 28, 2010


I really don't understand at all this mindset that believes that you can't post an interesting historical timeline like this without a whole expository bit telling people how it is going to upset the preconceptions you imagine them to have.

Asking for a little context when posting lists of airplane bombings doesn't seem like an impossibly high bar to reach for.
posted by nomadicink at 12:40 PM on November 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Just like no one made me click on the "talking cats" link, no one made you click on the "list of commercial airline bombings" link. Did you do it just to find out that you could and would be offended by the title?
Given a one-word link, how would one know it was a "list of commercial airline bombings" link without first clicking on it? I'm sure nobody has suggested this yet, but maybe a little context might have helped?
posted by Karmakaze at 1:08 PM on November 28, 2010


It wasn't a one-word link. The text of the link was "List of commercial airline bombings." There is no conceivable way washburn could have been any clearer.
posted by enn at 1:12 PM on November 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'll come right out and say that I'm one of the people who flagged the post. I flagged it pretty quickly after I first saw it, after reading the 2 comments or so and seeing what was on the other end of the link. Basically, I flagged it because I didn't really get it and it didn't look like a Metafilter post. MeFi has always been about the quality of the posts, and this post really didn't have any sort of meat to it. It's just a link to a list. An interesting list perhaps, but it's still just a link to a list. How about giving us other articles on airline bombings? Accounts of the difficulties in investigating such an attack? Background on some perpetrators and what became of them? Information about bomb detection and efforts to strengthen aircraft against explosions? Flesh it out with cool stuff and you've got an interesting post going.
posted by zachlipton at 2:46 PM on November 28, 2010


Basically, I flagged it because I didn't really get it and it didn't look like a Metafilter post... It's just a link to a list... Flesh it out with cool stuff and you've got an interesting post going.

It totally looks like a Metafilter post. There are posts on the front page right now that consist of a single sentence fragment that links to one thing on the web, with no "more inside".

"I didn't really get it" is a bad reason to flag a post.

Not everyone thinks that posts get better the more links they have.
posted by 23skidoo at 3:07 PM on November 28, 2010 [7 favorites]


What, it totally does not like like a Metafilter post, where's the fedora?!

There are posts on the front page right now that consist of a single sentence fragment that links to one thing on the web, with no "more inside".

Not all single sentence fragments are the same.

Example: Which one of potential single link sentence fragment posts would have the most potential for being deleted?

1. 50 best moments of Battlestar Galatica
2. Single link Youtube video about a cat fight
3. A list of all the murders that have occurred in anytown USA
4. Article about differences in classes and food availability

Please use a number 2 pencil and turn your test over when complete.
posted by nomadicink at 3:48 PM on November 28, 2010


Ok the first sentence is from my iguana crawling over my pc.

....Now I want an iguana.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:52 PM on November 28, 2010


I think single link posts that
1. are funny
2. are cute
3. are profoundly geeky
4. or have kittens
get a free pass.

Single link posts that are
1. about horrific disasters, without any hook to hang a discussion on
do not.
posted by SLC Mom at 4:26 PM on November 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Schmontex!
posted by fire&wings at 5:04 PM on November 28, 2010


Counterexample: deleted profoundly geeky post.
posted by jjray at 5:07 PM on November 28, 2010


Thanks everyone; I'll repost this tomorrow with wording along the lines of what mathowie suggests, and omit the world "boom' from the title (although I think this is a shame--a poster who dislikes the title wrote, "I'm still not sure that I can adequately express how cold and insensitive and just plain icky that title felt to me." That's how it makes me feel too, and also why this title was appropriate here).

But the conclusion to be drawn from this thread seems to be that a lack of context only became a significant problem because the post's title ("Boom.") created an ambiguity for some readers, who may have assumed (not very charitably, I have to say) that my post perhaps intended to present this list of bombings as something people would find funny.

While I'm a little disappointed that my post wasn't restored, I'm willing to revise it and repost tomorrow and see what happens.

Thanks again.
posted by washburn at 5:50 PM on November 28, 2010


But the conclusion to be drawn from this thread seems to be that a lack of context only became a significant problem because the post's title ("Boom.") created an ambiguity for some readers, who may have assumed (not very charitably, I have to say) that my post perhaps intended to present this list of bombings as something people would find funny.

I think the post's title was the clearest thing that people could point to about why a single link to a list of tragedies seemed like sort of a weird choice for a single link post. Your claiming that the title was a deliberately ironic juxtaposition [is that what you're saying? I still don't totally understand what you are saying about the title.] is again making this seem like a post with a point and not enough information about what that point is. Best of luck with a rewrite for tomorrow.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:59 PM on November 28, 2010


It was more than just the title. I read through the list a liitle and couldn't help but think it was a bit sick and distasteful thing to post (or compile). It was like rubbernecking a horrible accident. Others may feel differently.
posted by nomadicink at 6:10 PM on November 28, 2010


My baby owl post got called out? Some people are impossible to please.

If it makes any difference I'll go on record as saying I didn't know if it would survive when I posted it, so fundamentally there isn't a difference in the level of context, but if I am going to go into a post without explanation I'd rather it be cotton candy and not death and destruction. Though, admittedly, wiith a baby owl you get both!
posted by cjorgensen at 6:58 PM on November 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


It was more than just the title. I read through the list a liitle and couldn't help but think it was a bit sick and distasteful thing to post (or compile). It was like rubbernecking a horrible accident. Others may feel differently.

I think this speaks directly to the context issue - Aerospaceweb looks like a pretty neat website, and the linked post is the answer to a question in the Ask a Rocket Scientist section of the site ("How dangerous would a bomb be to a commercial airliner? Have many airliners been attacked before?", in the Civil sub-subsection of the Aircraft questions subsection of the questions list).

There are probably ways to present both this list and the (potentially much more interesting) site as a whole that emphasize the more general appeal and put that list into context.
posted by gingerest at 7:03 PM on November 28, 2010


jessamyn, it seems like you are here asking for some additional clarifications: explicitly (1) about the title of my post and maybe implicitly (2) about the point of my post, which you would like me to clarify and which you perhaps view as "weird."

With respect to the post's title, I wrote upthread:

"I think that the stark nature of the website--just a list of the events, minus the cable-tv chatter made "Boom." an especially appropriate title. It's the awful fact of the explosion. Or that's what it is to me."


I'm not sure if you read that and still would like clarification or if you didn't notice it. But I'm certainly not saying that my title is ironic, although I guess I might say if pressed that perhaps some of those who object to my title may have attributed to me a kind of sudden shocking cruelty that I see my title as observing.

Your second (implicit) question, if there is one, is harder for me to understand or answer. Are you stating that metafilter posts are supposed to make a point? My sense is that posts on Metafilter are not supposed to present a thesis or make an argument, but that they should direct readers to web pages of interest, some of which present arguments and some of which don't.

But perhaps when you say "point" you don't mean a thesis, and mean rather a reason for existing. If this is your sense however, your question becomes harder to answer. I think the reasons for pointing out human tragedy on a pretty large scale--which in addition relates closely to a range of ongoing policy and calls attention to a set of events that aren't very widely known--are as about as nearly self-apparent as I can imagine. Why are we interested in the lives of other persons, or our own? Why is transportation security an issue today? I don't think these are weird or tangential concerns that require defensive explanations in order to consider.
posted by washburn at 7:21 PM on November 28, 2010


I'm just saying you seem to feel quite strongly about making a post about this particular link and you seem to be sort of bummed that you were denied that because of the way people interpreted what you wrote. And I think it's important to point out that people's interpretations of your post -- why did he post this? why did he post it in that way? what is he hoping to get from this? how does this make me feel? what do I want to talk to other MeFites about concerning this? -- are really all we have.

And so, in a post on a topic that I think we could charitably consider a difficult one [disaster/tragedy/pathos] it's important to think about those things. You're clearly someone who has given this thread and the link you'd like to post some thought, so I was just suggesting having some of that show through in how you make the post.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:31 PM on November 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yo, did you slam the baby owl post? HOW DARE YOU??
posted by Mister_A at 7:33 PM on November 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Thanks jessamyn; your clarification is helpful.
posted by washburn at 7:49 PM on November 28, 2010


I thought it was a weird post, like posting a gruesome library catalogue or something.
posted by unSane at 7:33 AM on November 29, 2010


I'll repost this tomorrow with wording along the lines of what mathowie suggests

I will be pleasantly surprised if it still doesn't turn into security theater grar.
posted by Gator at 7:56 AM on November 29, 2010


The link was much more interesting than I would have expected. It wasn't just a list, but also the story behind each incident. I thought the title of the post was unfortunate.
posted by snofoam at 1:34 PM on November 29, 2010


I've gone ahead and reposted this link, with a little more context. In fact I don't feel all that strongly about making a post to this particular link (I just happened across it yesterday via google while reading an article on the TSA). Keep or delete at your discretion, mods.
posted by washburn at 3:00 PM on November 29, 2010


I think that looks just fine.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:15 PM on November 29, 2010


This is... what I would call a Good post. Not even just a good post, but something to think about for a few days for sure.
posted by Night_owl at 4:21 PM on November 29, 2010


I for one am pleased that this post has gone up again (and not been deleted). I wrote an intelligent response to the original thread but it was gone before I clicked "post comment" and felt a bit peeved to have the conversation interrupted.

Anyhow, interesting stuff. Thank you Washburn.
posted by Rarebit Fiend at 9:36 AM on November 30, 2010


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