Speculative News Posts Shouldering Out Legitimate News Posts December 2, 2010 11:52 AM   Subscribe

Should speculative posts always become the canonical Mefi thread?

This post, based on a great deal of speculation about an upcoming NASA press conference was full of noise and jokes. Sprocket did a decent job framing the post, but the timing was such that it was simply impossible to have a good, constructive, and educational discussion about something that was at the time highly speculative.

Because of this, the actual news, when it came out, prompted a post based on the actual news. That post was deleted because, earlier, a post that was a far FAR less illuminating thread full of jokes and noise happened to take precedence.

I think it's a shame that a legitimately huge biology and astrobiology story (ATP in the Krebs cycle of these organisms being replaced by Adenosine Tri-Arsenate, the entire replacement of Phosphorus with Arsenic in a bacterium) is going to be mostly lost on Mefi because a speculative thread (which ended up full of noise and jokes and guesswork) will stand as the canonical thread.
posted by chimaera to Etiquette/Policy at 11:52 AM (47 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

I hate stuff like this. Seriously, wait until something happens before you post about it, especially if you know exactly when it's going to happen but don't necessarily know exactly how it's going to play out. Because this.
posted by Gator at 11:58 AM on December 2, 2010 [6 favorites]


We'd prefer fewer speculative posts. That said, the news about this news conference was itself news, so we eyeballed the first post but figured it was okay [it was also someone's first post and we try to be decent about those sorts of things]. My personal feeling about this is the fewer breaking news posts we have, the better, but I've always felt that news posts crowd out legitimate MetaFilter posts already, but that's sort of a GOML complaint from eight years ago.

Anyhow, I hear where you're coming from and generally we delete speculative "there's going to be some news" posts. That said, there's no guarantee that "real" news posts won't also become jokey and noisey and then you're sort of stuck.

We all have an ideal MetaFilter that exists in our minds and I think we're in agreement that speculative posts are generally not okay but we felt this one was okay bit more as an exception than as a guideline on how to do it.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:59 AM on December 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


The mods seem to be pretty good about axing posts that are about upcoming things. I'd like to see that be the standard around here, but I understand that it's hard to catch every speculative post as it comes up.
posted by stoneweaver at 11:59 AM on December 2, 2010


Good point well made.
posted by Abiezer at 11:59 AM on December 2, 2010


I agree with your general point, chimaera (it bugs me that the OP couldn't just wait a few more hours), but I feel like anything posted after the revelation would likely have led to a similarly jokey thread anyway.

Sprocket gives his rationale here, and I get where he's coming from, but I also wish that the post had waited until after the announcement.
posted by Greg Nog at 12:12 PM on December 2, 2010


No speculative post has ever gone badly. Not one.
posted by gerryblog at 12:39 PM on December 2, 2010


I'm not advocating the deletion of Sprocket's thread. As I said, I think that it was fairly well framed for a speculative post. But I think that this is a fairly edge-case situation and deleting the subsequent actual news post did more harm than good.
posted by chimaera at 12:40 PM on December 2, 2010 [3 favorites]


hamburger
posted by gerryblog at 12:40 PM on December 2, 2010


FRENCH FRIES
posted by nomadicink at 12:42 PM on December 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'd spent about half an hour on a comprehensive news-research-bios-pdf-papers post before thinking to check from much, much earlier in the day. Oh well. Imagine my disappointment---not at the lost time, mind you, but at the lost opportunity to use "Arsenic and Old Lakes" as the title.
posted by MimeticHaHa at 12:42 PM on December 2, 2010 [20 favorites]


yes
posted by edgeways at 12:54 PM on December 2, 2010


no
posted by edgeways at 12:55 PM on December 2, 2010


well maybe
posted by edgeways at 12:55 PM on December 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


This post, based on a great deal of speculation about an upcoming NASA press conference was full of noise and jokes.

So . . . Now is the time when we dance on Sprocket?
posted by The Bellman at 1:01 PM on December 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


Arsenic and Old Lakes. That's brilliant, MimeticHaHa. I feel your pain.
posted by Miss Otis' Egrets at 1:34 PM on December 2, 2010


Hamburglar?
posted by anniecat at 1:41 PM on December 2, 2010


The original post seemed wildly pointless to me. If the only place you'll be finding out about a NASA announcement regarding extraterrestrial life is MetaFilter......... Well, you really need to try to expose yourself to more than just MeFi as a news source. This was all over the place, and having an announcement of an announcement as an FFP is silly.

And the idea that MeFi needed to make sure everyone knew ahead of time so they could watch the live feed is equally silly. Anyone with an interest in this should have seen it in other places more appropriate. If people are really using MeFi as a news dashboard they are doing it wrong, in my humble opinion.
posted by y6y6y6 at 1:46 PM on December 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


MetaFilter: full of noise and jokes and guesswork
posted by banshee at 1:49 PM on December 2, 2010


No speculative post has ever gone badly. Not one.

You're going on my Enemies list just for reminding me of that fucking soul-crushing, heartbreaking thread.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:58 PM on December 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


The original post should have been deleted.
posted by grouse at 2:14 PM on December 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


I hear WikiLeaks is gonna release some awesome stuff, just devastating shit! Stay tuned, dudes!
posted by fixedgear at 2:20 PM on December 2, 2010


Guys I'm pretty sure James Brown will die later this week.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:30 PM on December 2, 2010


I get that people might want advance notice of a potential, but I don't think that's What MetaFilter Is For. I flagged the original post, and think a comprehensive post linking to different articles and news sources (like the deleted thread) would have been much better.

(Also, Arsenic and Old Lakes?? Headline of the year.)
posted by auto-correct at 2:32 PM on December 2, 2010


Guys I'm pretty sure James Brown will die later this week.

Zsa Zsa is at death's door, and people are praying for Aretha. Meanwhile, Abe Vigoda is still hanging in there. That's quality December FPP contest material.
posted by fixedgear at 2:37 PM on December 2, 2010


Is Abe Vigoda Alive?
posted by The Whelk at 2:56 PM on December 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


I like the speculative posts on account of the aliens and stuff.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 3:06 PM on December 2, 2010


The original post should have been deleted.

Pretty much in agreement. Sorry Sprocket.
posted by Artw at 3:31 PM on December 2, 2010 [3 favorites]


I made the second post and was baffled by the deletion reason as I had searched for a relevant post before posting in the first place. It honestly took me going over the front page three times to find "Oh, THAT'S the relevant post" and even that wasn't really... relevant.

It did seem to me like "Space is big" and "ARSENIC BASED BACTERIA!" would be worthy of two posts, but *shrugs* I'm not a mod.
posted by sonika at 3:44 PM on December 2, 2010


The mods are arsenic lovers!
posted by nomadicink at 4:07 PM on December 2, 2010


people are praying for Aretha

I read that and thought "Should I start working on an obituary post?"

Then I screamed in horror at what I have become.
posted by Joe Beese at 4:12 PM on December 2, 2010 [2 favorites]


sonika; the related post was "NASA will hold a news conference" not the "Space is big" one. (It is the first post of Dec 2)
posted by phoque at 4:49 PM on December 2, 2010


phoque: Well, the mods certainly can't be faulted for the fact that I can't read.
posted by sonika at 4:50 PM on December 2, 2010


The affliction hits us all by times ;)
posted by phoque at 4:56 PM on December 2, 2010


ALIENS?
posted by clavdivs at 6:11 PM on December 2, 2010


VS CLAVDI, yes.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:43 PM on December 2, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's not about the thread. It's about the post.

It doesn't matter that the first post was speculative. It was a better post. It's correct that it's the one that stayed.
posted by koeselitz at 8:58 PM on December 2, 2010


> Arsenic and Old Lakes

I'm a sight reader, and at first glance I thought this said "Arsenic and Old Latkes," which would have been the best headline ever about the worst Chanukah ever.
posted by .kobayashi. at 9:37 PM on December 2, 2010 [3 favorites]


Or the Jewishest Cary Grant film ever.

MUME MARTHA: For a gallon of Manischewitz, one teaspoon full of arsenic I add, and a skosh of strychnine, and then? Some cyanide maybe, if it's in season.
MORTIMER BREWSTEIN: And such small portions!
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:44 PM on December 2, 2010 [6 favorites]


I have never liked the idea of deleting posts because older open posts about the same topic exist. People who read the original post won't know that it's been updated if an update is just posted in-thread.

Any of the following solutions might be better:

1) Close new thread while leaving it visible with a link to the older thread.
2) Bump (link?) the original thread to the current date/time.
3) Simple one-line link on the front page at the time of the update to the old thread. ("UPDATE: I for one welcome our to be announced overlords...")
posted by callmejay at 7:48 AM on December 3, 2010


I have never liked the idea of deleting posts because older open posts about the same topic exist. People who read the original post won't know that it's been updated if an update is just posted in-thread.

They will if they use Recent Activity, and Recent Activity is honestly pretty awesomely useful for these sort of things so I would recommend that they give it a shot if they haven't.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:42 AM on December 3, 2010


edgeways I'm putting you down for 'splunge'.
posted by Mister_A at 8:55 AM on December 3, 2010


As someone who reads the blue pretty casually, I very much agree that if a thread is closed due to a previous one on the topic still being open (which I agree is a valid deletion reason), it would be nice to have a link to the thread that remains open. Sometimes I don't read the blue for a few days and I might not have any idea that there is a thread open about the topic. Tags are not always useful and the search is kind of cluttery. In addition, you already post links when there is a double, and this situation is at least similar if not the same.
posted by Night_owl at 8:56 AM on December 3, 2010


Ah, if it's a question of linking explicitly back to the open thread in the deletion reason, we often will. Usually if I don't it's because someone has linked to it already in the comments, though I can't say for sure I've been a hundred percent about that and it's something I can definitely try to make more of a point of doing.

That said, if you're as far as looking at the deletion reason, search really will get you there pretty quickly pretty much all the time, especially if it's a newsy sort of story where some obvious proper nouns are involved ("NASA" for this one, say, or "TSA" or "wikileaks" for some other recent examples). To a certain extent putting in a little effort to track something down if you're curious about whether and where it's being discussed should be a reasonable half-way point to meet us at on this stuff.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:06 AM on December 3, 2010


Sorry. Broken my cardinal rule: do not enter conversations where you don't really know what you;re talking about. Thanks Tex.
posted by Night_owl at 9:16 AM on December 3, 2010


My issues is I didn't care much when it was "Possible proof of life from asteroid!" rumors, but I think organisms that can survive without phosphate (no ATP!?!?) are KICKASS. So I would have liked the real news to have stayed up - as it was, I happened open a browser with the front page of nature.com set as default at the right time. (Thank you, coworker.)
posted by maryr at 11:09 PM on December 3, 2010


(Issue. Singular. Sorry.)
posted by maryr at 11:10 PM on December 3, 2010


(Happened TO open... OK, previewing next time, sorry.)
posted by maryr at 11:10 PM on December 3, 2010


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