Is it wrong to use MeFi as your own personal soapbox? March 29, 2002 10:21 AM   Subscribe

"So let me get this straight. We have a post with a link to a cheesy bio page that is uninteresting, really has nothing to do with anything said in the post, and is only provided as a catalyst to debate something someone's professor said?" Apologies to Mikhail, but he brings up a pertinent point. When one chooses to compose a FPP for MeFi, which should come first: an appropriate link, or a soapbox worthy topic? Is it wrong to use MeFi as your own personal soapbox? How can one tell (preferably before they hit the post button) when they're out of line?
posted by ZachsMind to Etiquette/Policy at 10:21 AM (19 comments total)

which should come first?
an appropriate link. seems obvious.
posted by Dean King at 10:30 AM on March 29, 2002

I don't know. I've enjoyed the linked discussion, but the FPP was pretty weak. There must be a better link that will garner the same type of discussion, one that posits an interesting point of view. Doing stuff like this example is almost equivalent to just posting:

Race: discuss
posted by Ufez Jones at 10:33 AM on March 29, 2002

I would agree. Despite the healthy debate it might spur, it's better to make the link relevant than add one in just to satisfy FPP req's.

Regarding the post in question, I'm sure there are plenty of links to relevant articles. The poster was lazy.
posted by me3dia at 10:34 AM on March 29, 2002

Is it wrong to use MeFi as your own personal soapbox?

Yes. From the guidelines: A good post to MetaFilter is something that meets the following criteria: most people haven't seen it before, there is something interesting about the content on the page and it might warrant discussion from others. ... Make sure you're linking to something on the web. If you're posting a generalized question to the audience, or posting a comment as a main thread, either find an appropriate mailing list, or use MetaTalk.

(Pedantic? Yup. It rubs me raw that people want to play the game without following the rules.)
posted by gleuschk at 10:36 AM on March 29, 2002

"seems obvious."

Well Dean King, I was trying not to post my introduction to this MeTa post in a demeaning way. =) It's obviously not obvious to everybody, or people wouldn't do it.

There have been times in the past when for some reason I'd wake up one day and feel compelled to talk about a topic of interest to me here in MetaFilter. I'd find a link I thought people would find interesting, but (in 20/20 hindsight) my interest was completely self-involved. This shouldn't be wrong perhaps, but for some reason it is.

I've observed a lot more than actively participated in recent months. I comment when it appeals to me, but as for actually posting FPPs, I've pulled back. Try as I might I can't seem to understand why I can't make a decent FPP when others can. It's not as easy as some "obviously" make it appear.

When I saw the previously mentioned thread, a lightbulb went off. It's a common mistake here in MeFi but not something I personally saw as a mistake until just now. It happens all the time. I mean people do it all the time. And maybe it's not a mistake. Sometimes people compose FPPs here in MeFi that are of personal interest to them, and they pull it off brilliantly. Other times people are accused of trolling - or inciting a provacative topic purely for the purpose of pushing people's buttons. Or so it appears.

I think this may be a glimpse of what's really causing the arguments in MeFi and MeTa about what is appropriate. Some come here to share particularly cool weblinks with one another. Some come here for the community - and enjoy debating topics without really caring as much about what's going on outside of MeFi.

Is there a boundary line? Some question that one can ask themselves as they compose their post to see whether or not they've crossed a line? And how can one see that line before they hit send?
posted by ZachsMind at 11:04 AM on March 29, 2002

For what it's worth, the thread seems to be doing fine with or without a good link. It is a good topic that can go in many different directions.

Sometimes a topic can come up that is valid for MetaFilter and have little to link to. In this case it was a personal experience that is the topic. If we discuss and debate from our own personal experiences, why shouldn't we be able to create a topic from the same source. As long as, of course, it adheres (at least loosely) to the rules that have been set out for us.
posted by ashbury at 11:22 AM on March 29, 2002

"Apologies to Mikhail, ..."

None needed. That is the point of my post.

ashbury - For what it's worth, the thread seems to be doing fine with or without a good link. It is a good topic that can go in many different directions.

Yes, but my understanding of MeFi, such as it is, is that discussions and topics are based on interesting finds on the internet. Not interesting topics you want to see discussed. If that were the case, I would think this would be better formatted as a message board.
posted by mikhail at 11:27 AM on March 29, 2002

Yeah, that's my understanding too. Which goes back to what me3dia said. The Front Page Post could have had a few links to make it more interesting and more along the guidelines. The poster was lazy. We'll never know, but with more and better links in the FPP it's entirely possible that the thread could have gone the way it already has. The question is, what's more important, the link(s) or the discussion that follows?
posted by ashbury at 11:39 AM on March 29, 2002

So then it goes back to what ZachsMind was talking about. Do you start with a good topic for discussion and then sprinkle it with some interesting links to spur it along and simply fulfill the requirements of a FPP on MeFi? Or do you you find, or happen along something interesting, think ,"Golly gee, Mefi would get a kick out of this" and then post it with a brief commentary inviting discussion?

I can see the validity in both, and by the sheer continued exisitence of posts and threads like that, Matt seems to as well. Once a good discussion gets going, Matt usually doesn't delete the post, even if it doesn't seem to be in the spirit of MeFi. As long as it seems to be a worthwhile discussion, it stays.
posted by mikhail at 12:06 PM on March 29, 2002

Please let's note that this was ProfLinusPauling's first post, and he is entitled to some understanding and encouragement. Don't take it personally, Prof. Once you've absorbed all this criticism, please post again.
posted by jpoulos at 12:22 PM on March 29, 2002

Mikhail, I apologized up front because I was taking your words specifically and copying them to Meta, since that's where your sentiments belonged in the first place. Not in the MeFi post. So I was also sort of criticizing your behavior along with ProfLinus. Criticism of MeFi posts belongs in MeTa, not in MeFi. I wasn't singling you out mean-spiritedly, but it was just an example of what happens in MeFi way too much - and causes more people to get upset which causes more interference of the actual fun conversation stuff going on and blah blah blah.

I also didn't mean to single out Prof - it was just an example of what's happened a lot in MeFi which hit me upside the head like one of those "I shoulda had a V-8" moment and I just.. well..

Oh the hell with it. Friends is on.
posted by ZachsMind at 4:04 PM on March 29, 2002

It was a weak link, but interesting discussion. I wish the original post had more interesting links and wasn't just an excuse to discuss things, but it's the person's first post and I'm sure next time they'll post more appropriately.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 4:06 PM on March 29, 2002

Okay. Commercial.

I mean are these just different approaches and both are equally okay (if the link's a bit weak that's okay if the topic is meaty enough to withstand it) or is it just flat wrong to FPP without a decent link just because you wanna talk about foo-bar.

How is someone to know? Not that I wanna give topic police any more ammunition, but.. ooh! Wait! Monica just had sex with a virgin. I gotta go...
posted by ZachsMind at 4:18 PM on March 29, 2002

mathowie: it's the person's first post and I'm sure next time they'll post more appropriately.

Ah, Matt, how quickly you forget.
posted by sylloge at 5:00 PM on March 29, 2002

three things:
1. zach, you watch too much tv.
2. "Is it wrong to use MeFi as your own personal soapbox?" I'm suprised you even have to ask.
3. yes, it is just flat wrong to FPP without a decent link just because you wanna talk about foo-bar. (imhbco) If a topic is interesting, how hard can it be to find an interesting link for it? There's a lot of web out there.
posted by Dean King at 5:09 PM on March 29, 2002

Hey. ProfLinusPauling is pissed off. Let's go easy on him.

ProfLinusPauling. Dude. Buddy. Pal. Chill out, siddown, put your feet up, relax, have a beer. Don't let these people get you down, whoever they are. (yeah, okay, i'm one of them, but you have to admit, the link was a little lame). Take comfort in the fact that, bad post or not, you've got 66 people commenting. And Matt allowed it. I would say that is a successful FPP.

posted by ashbury at 6:34 PM on March 29, 2002

Excuse me, but at what point was I rude, hostile, or elitist?

I had no idea that ProfLinusPauling had any problems with prior posts, and I was not personally attacking him at any time.

Yes, my original post in the thread alluded to the fact that I thought the post was lacking, but at no time did I use language that vilified the post or the poster. In light of that, I take exception to being called out as the one being rude.
posted by mikhail at 8:33 PM on March 29, 2002

Mikhail, you were the only one who said anything I could remotely construe as being rude. Language like "so let me get this straight" and "cheesy" is a little off-putting and seems destined, if not intended, to raise hackles. But even then I thought PLP's accusation of hostility toward him was a stretch, thus my "maybe." My point was that if what you said is as bad as it got, then it wasn't very bad.
posted by rodii at 9:38 PM on March 29, 2002

For me, this post was neither a "cheezy link" nor an irrelevant comment. The point Ufez is making is well taken-- we're not exactly getting very much in the way of new insights on race coming out of our discussion.
posted by sheauga at 6:34 AM on March 30, 2002

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