We don't do everything 'badly' January 28, 2011 11:34 AM   Subscribe

Members often complain that we "do this badly". Well, I want to point out, we've done this well.

This thread has been an amazing chronicle of a historical event, I just wanted to make everyone aware of this fact.
posted by IvoShandor to MetaFilter-Related at 11:34 AM (67 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

We seem to do liveblogging well. I think it is because we're too distracted by the ongoing events to turn on each other.
posted by charred husk at 11:38 AM on January 28, 2011 [17 favorites]


That thread has been fantastic. I popped in very early this morning in the middle of an insanely bad migraine which kept me from sleeping, and that thread definitely gave me something else to concentrate on for an hour or two.
posted by odinsdream at 11:41 AM on January 28, 2011


Yeah, while I mostly don't like the political sarah-palin-said-something-stupid-treads, the here's an interesting-possibly-historic-development threads are often worthwhile. So thank you, MeFites.
posted by Dumsnill at 11:43 AM on January 28, 2011


I suppose that should be "historic", then we can argue about "a" and "an", properly, like real MeFites
posted by IvoShandor at 11:46 AM on January 28, 2011


We also do self-congratulation well.
posted by entropicamericana at 11:56 AM on January 28, 2011 [33 favorites]


two as-they-happen threads in one week, i hope this doesn't become the trend. i've always loved metafilter for picking up a story a day or two later than everyone else and making it more fleshed out and factual than the other sites.
posted by nadawi at 12:00 PM on January 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


nadawi, the post is 7 paragraphs long, any more fleshed out and it'd be an article in the Atlantic.
posted by desjardins at 12:04 PM on January 28, 2011 [5 favorites]


We also do self-congratulation well.

We are the champions.
posted by tapesonthefloor at 12:06 PM on January 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


We also do self-congratulation well.

I just figured since everyone always seems to point it out when shit is fucked up that it would be appropriate that it is pointed out when we do stuff right. I wasn't trying to pat myself on the back or any other member, just point out a thread that I thought had some real value. But that doesn't matter does it? Because you can score snark points early in a thread and get yourself some favorites. So I guess man/woman. Whatever. Rock. The, Fuck. On. Bro/Sis.
posted by IvoShandor at 12:07 PM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


it's not the length of the post, it's the distance from the event. live blogging style threads will always have reporting before the facts are known - the balloon boy thread comes to mind...

also, with the way we do reposts around here, a thread made in the next few days with new details/analysis will probably be closed and sent to the live thread which is filled with "as it happens" moments instead of "how it was" discussion. the as it happens discussions are interesting for the people participating in them from the start, but rather difficult to come to 600 comments later.
posted by nadawi at 12:10 PM on January 28, 2011 [7 favorites]


One thing that makes it good is that notion put the time in to craft a really excellent overview of Egypt and its dictator's cozy relationship with the US. We do single-link news posts well, too, but the effort notion put into his post set it apart, and commenters rose to the occasion, accordingly.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:32 PM on January 28, 2011 [7 favorites]


Is it damning with faint praise to say we're great armchair revolutionaries.
posted by 2bucksplus at 12:33 PM on January 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Even a fool knows when a thread is serious, creds and all. called
noise/signal. heh.
posted by clavdivs at 12:35 PM on January 28, 2011


it's not the length of the post, it's the distance from the event. live blogging style threads will always have reporting before the facts are known - the balloon boy thread comes to mind...

In the 100,000th post thread, someone linked to the posts at the previous 10K milestones, and I noticed that post 10,000 was made on September 10, 2001. That put me in mind of the 9/11 thread and I went to have a look at it. It's got a bunch of that kind of frantic, ultimately incorrect information in it -- "explosives found under the GWB" was one such claim that I noticed -- that is certainly understandable in the heat of the moment, but ends up jarring in retrospect. It's also fascinating to me that the 9/11 is about 500 comments long, and it still lives in my mind as Longest MeFi Thread Ever. Perspective is a funny thing.
posted by Rock Steady at 12:36 PM on January 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


The misinformation after 9/11 was staggering. I was in Manhattan at the time and the number of false reports I heard within the first few hours numbered in the dozens. One day I'd love to write an article on the topic (in Projects? Maybe for 9/11/11?). It's really telling how people seem to want to be the first to report terrible news. Some things I heard that day (before noon) in person:

> It was just a single engine Cessna that crashed, sad but nothing major
> There were bombs in the base of the towers, too
> The hijacked planes were filled with explosives
> Cellphone towers are being jammed by some outside force
> The Empire State Building has been confirmed as the next target
> _________ Bridge or ________ Tunnel is rigged with explosives
> They won't let us leave Manhattan, we better try to get out now on foot
> They're making us leave Manhattan, we have to get our stuff together now
> There have been reports of mass shootings

And my favorite:

> Don't drink the tap water! People have been saying it's contaminated/poisoned
posted by 2bucksplus at 12:49 PM on January 28, 2011


The misinformation after 9/11 was staggering.

That's interesting. My experience that morning in the Village was pretty much exactly the opposite: I heard almost all the misinformation/confused reports that you mentioned, but I heard them from the radio and online, while pretty much everything that people told me in person, even some fairly crazy-seeming people, turned out to be completely true. I was very skeptical about the word-of-mouth stuff that morning — e.g. some guy in an elevator told me about the attack on the Pentagon, maybe around 10am, and I assumed he was a conspiracy nut — but it all turned out to be true, while the little radio that I immediately ran out and bought to get the news was spewing all this misinformation about attacks on bridges and chemical weapons.
posted by RogerB at 1:00 PM on January 28, 2011 [4 favorites]


I don't think we're doing much other than commiserating during an extremely tense event that we can only sit and watch from far away. It's interesting to have a like minded group of folks to chat about this with.

I started a MeTa thread a few weeks back about the best liveblogging-type threads of 2010, by the way. When I have a moment I might throw up a page on the MeFi Wiki that will have a rundown of threads updating as an event is happening.

Not everything needs to be discussed in real time on this site like that, but it certainly can be a vital part of this place all the same.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:03 PM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Snark? In MetaTalk?! Well, I do declare! *fans self*

(Becoming more and more conscious of the generation gap: Gen-Xers relentless need for snark against Gen Y's relentless need for praise.)
posted by entropicamericana at 1:03 PM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, this has been a great post and thread. I couldn't get any of the live video sites to work for me. So, the live blogging here at MeFi has been much appreciated. Thanks to all who've been keeping those of us in the dark up to date.
posted by marsha56 at 1:07 PM on January 28, 2011


The thread made me cry. Sober. For the first time in over a decade.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 1:11 PM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't think we're doing much other than commiserating during an extremely tense event that we can only sit and watch from far away.

Actually I think the thread is a great compilation of the various fragmented information sources available, with members who know people in Egypt, speak Arabic, etc. providing valuable context (such as translations of the protestor's slogans). It's as much AskMe as NewsFilter.
posted by msalt at 1:19 PM on January 28, 2011


"[D]one this well?" There's a decent bit of stuff that's an eyelash away from "USA SUX," little or no tolerance for views that deviate from those of the like-minded people and lotsa painting in black and white.
posted by ambient2 at 1:19 PM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


As you might imagine, Mrs. Beese looks askance at the level of my involvement with MetaFilter. If she sees that my computer screen is blue, she may ask drily, "Checking your favorites again?" (Maybe I was, but what of it?)

But I boasted to her this morning about that thread - particularly all the technical knowledge on display about ham radio and such.

"It's the highest signal-to-noise site there is," I said proudly.

I'm glad this thread gave me an opportunity to mention that.
posted by Joe Beese at 1:20 PM on January 28, 2011 [12 favorites]


I think liveblogging routinely goes well here. I loved the Balloon Boy thread. We don't need to do every LA car chase though, yeah. These threads seem like a good amount of work to moderate.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:20 PM on January 28, 2011


That's very interesting, RogerB. I started off watching CNN but then the Icelandic state TV station, RÚV, started rebroadcasting live satellite feeds and had three people in a studio in Reykjavík covering the whole thing for the first two or three hours. CNN was full of crazy nonsense which it kept repeating throughout the day, when the RÚV people had long since said that Crazy Nonsense X and Y was not true (e.g. the truck bomb in front of the capitol building). I've always attributed it to them being far away and therefore not as shocked by events, but it may just be the nature of the 24-hour newscycle craziness.
posted by Kattullus at 1:20 PM on January 28, 2011


I've been up for days. I just want to say, thank you, Mefites. Thank you.
posted by Surfurrus at 1:24 PM on January 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Already mentioned this in the other thread, cortex said he doesn't do much with analytics:

I've been constantly reloading that ever-growing page for updates- Any idea as to how much site bandwidth goes up when threads like that come up?
posted by dunkadunc at 1:24 PM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


That Ballon Boy thread was a party after people could stop worrying whether Timmy would survive the well.

Wouldn't have missed it for anything.
posted by Joe Beese at 1:25 PM on January 28, 2011


My son was born during the "Balloon Boy" fracas. I missed the entire thing. I will always regret being by my wife's side instead of on MetaFilter.
posted by ColdChef at 1:46 PM on January 28, 2011 [16 favorites]


ColdChef:

My dad used to jokingly and lovingly call me "his sailboat" because around the time he had saved up money to buy a boat after marriage, my parents had their first blessed accident (me) and suddenly, he felt those savings were to go somewhere more responsible.

I'm not saying you should call your kid "Replacement Balloon Boy" but parents have done worse.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:50 PM on January 28, 2011 [6 favorites]


Yay us!
posted by delmoi at 1:51 PM on January 28, 2011


It's weird how everything that happens is posted 4-5 times simultaneously in that thread.
posted by smackfu at 1:54 PM on January 28, 2011


We seem to do liveblogging well. I think it is because we're too distracted by the ongoing events to turn on each other.
posted by charred husk


posted by charred husk.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:05 PM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


*Hugs everyone, 'cept for the taters*
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:06 PM on January 28, 2011


MetaFilter: Members often complain.
posted by jedicus at 2:26 PM on January 28, 2011 [5 favorites]


I thought I'd mention while I decided on a new thread: when I heard that they were cutting all internet and mobile phone access, I thought that really marked a turning point in the whole event. I'd been watching #JAN25 flutter by for a whole day, and I had really been affected by how earnest the protesters seemed to be, especially after I saw the gruesome photo of Khalid Saeed, and the audio from the Guardian reporter fearing for his life, and some of the very rough homemade slideshows on YouTube begging for freedom.

And then my little sister (with me at work) said quite innocently, "Oh, they're protesting in the Middle East again?" I've never been to the Middle East, and I knew the context only from years of obsessively reading about politics, so I'm certainly no expert. But I decided that a quick history of what stoked these protests, and Mubarak's relationship to the United States would be helpful for people who wouldn't have time to do the research.

I even started the timeline back with Napoleon surveying the ancient canals in the area to setup the eventual geopolitical battle between Egypt, France, England, Israel, and America in the 50s, but it got out of hand pretty quickly. I just think seeing everything in the Middle East as everything in the Middle East really deprives a person of what is a fascinating story of civilizations clashing for thousands of years.

I included the bit about America's support of Mubarak because it's really one of the main reasons he's still in power, and because I think that Americans carry an enormous moral burden, since we are the votes behind the government that wields such extreme power across the world. Sometimes it's for good, but most often it's for "American" interests, which almost always means "business" interests or maintaining stability. The official mouthpieces of our foreign policy apparatus talk through both sides of their teeth and it fills me with despair. I know that if everyone knew the full story that things would be different.

Anyway. I'm very glad to have the privilege of having these discussions on MetaFilter, which has turned into my favorite forum by far. I get a little too big for my britches sometimes, but there's usually someone, politely or impolitely, there to let me know.
posted by notion at 2:54 PM on January 28, 2011 [5 favorites]


My shout-out goes to Al Jazeera English for live streaming from their offices in Cairo and having very frequent updates from Alexander and Suez, with video and reports from people on the ground.
posted by NoMich at 3:04 PM on January 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


I honestly think that mefi does liveblogging about stuff like this incredibly well....I've read nothing but that thread all day, and I was able to fill my wife in on stuff that she didn't know after watching and reading news all day.

What's in that thread? Links to tweets, current articles, history lessons, and a discussion of HAM radio as an alternative once the govt cut off communications! I spend a lot of time online, as do my friends, and I was able to show them things that consistently made them raise their eyebrows and say "interesting."

Sure, this place isn't for that, but we have members in Egypt, so sometimes it has to be a site a little bit obsessed with events in Egypt.

I think that thread should be sidebarred, but I'm just some guy.

(Also, I too was in NYC on 911. You couldn't get away from that conspiracy shit. Walking home from work, I came home to my gf amazed at everything that happened. She looked at me like I was crazy.)
posted by nevercalm at 4:09 PM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


The thread was great, I largely missed much of it due to a busy day at work, but it allowed me to catch up with the developments rather than a 2 min summary on the news.
posted by arcticseal at 6:27 PM on January 28, 2011


I've just started reading the thread, but all I'm seeing so far is the usual anti-US kneejerking and utter ignorance of history, geopolitics and economics. It reads like a bunch of high school students on Digg.

In other words, it resembles most other MeFi political threads. MeFi's celebrated intelligence evaporates entirely when dealing with anything that touches on contemporary politics.

If the mods really wanted to fix this, they could start by deleting every unsourced one-line bumper sticker opinion in a political thread. After about six months, political threads might actually start to have some content.

Can this possibly happen? Sadly, I doubt it.
posted by Slithy_Tove at 8:35 PM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Eh, you're certainly welcome to offer your awesome and nuanced opinions.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:42 PM on January 28, 2011 [6 favorites]


You can mock him, Burhanistan, but he's not totally wrong-- threads like that one (and many if not most political threads here) tend to realy heavily on cheap sloganeering. Could I do "better"? Probably not (which is why I tend to stay out them) but on the other hand I'm not dislocating my shoulder to pat myself on the back about how awesome the thread is.
posted by dersins at 9:23 PM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


realy rely
posted by dersins at 9:24 PM on January 28, 2011


Well, I really wasn't mocking so much as saying that he's welcome to go post his viewpoint. It's not really realistic to hold up that kind of thread to some lofty academic standard, especially when it's fast moving and people are watching intense live video of social upheaval.

I agree that there's a lot of kneejerk sentiment, but there's room for more.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:37 PM on January 28, 2011


Er, room for more than just kneejerk sentiment, that is!
posted by Burhanistan at 9:41 PM on January 28, 2011


2bucksplus: "The misinformation after 9/11 was staggering."

I was in elementary school on 9/11; I remember standing in the courtyard with a bunch of other kids during morning break, trying to catch glimpses of CNN through the principal's office window. That afternoon, our art teacher had us use our daily journal entry to sum up what we had heard that day and how we felt about it. I came across that journal years later -- nestled amongst one-line drawings of crumpled Coke cans and classmates' hands was a matter-of-fact "I heard they're bombing Pittsburgh." Crazy times.
posted by Rhaomi at 10:29 PM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


"We also do self-congratulation well."

not me
i suck
posted by Eideteker at 10:48 PM on January 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


I don't get "liveblogging." If "blog" is web+log, a log of things that you found interesting on the web, how do you do that live? And what bearing does that have on a thread of continuous comments, very few of which are websites? It's more like "livecommenting."
posted by Eideteker at 10:51 PM on January 28, 2011


Eideteker: "I don't get "liveblogging." If "blog" is web+log, a log of things that you found interesting on the web, how do you do that live? And what bearing does that have on a thread of continuous comments, very few of which are websites? It's more like "livecommenting.""

I hate to get all "Webster's defines" on you, but Webster's defines "log" as "to make a note or record of : enter details of or about in a log." I don't see anything about live reactions to a current event that contradicts the purpose of a weblog.
posted by Rhaomi at 11:05 PM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


threads like that one... tend to realy heavily on cheap sloganeering.

But you can ignore the sloganeering and just read the comments that say "I am watching the Al Jazeera feed and they are showing x, y, z", "Here's a link to a map someone just put up of where the protesters are", etc. I actually think that thread is great because it's people's reactions as they're watching these news feeds.

For someone who's unable to watch, that is great. It's a way of keeping up without wading through all the usual very noisy channels. It's good to be able to share information and links to rebuttals of rumors, etc, in a low-noise way.

For people who are able to watch but are not with others in person, it's great to have the sense that they are having a shared experience with other people who are watching. ("Did you see that guy with the flag?" "I'm getting chills from watching protesters stop to pray" etc) I realize that might sound like a superficial benefit but I think it's not. Video coverage of big events like this puts the lone viewer in a weird position - helpless to affect events on the ground, but emotionally connected to those events, susceptible to big emotional highs and lows depending on what happens. It's healthy for people to vent some of that emotion by sharing it with other people that are involved in watching in the same way. (Obviously, the emotions of distant watchers are not as important as the events themselves are. I am not suggesting they are. Also not suggesting that overdramatic indulgence in public displays/exchanges of emotion is good.)
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:05 AM on January 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've just started reading the thread, but all I'm seeing so far is the usual anti-US kneejerking and utter ignorance of history, geopolitics and economics.

So, you've made a claim and backed it up with zero citations.

MeFi's celebrated intelligence evaporates entirely when dealing with anything that touches on contemporary politics.

The Rick Sanchez to Edward Murrow ratio on MetaFilter is pretty low compared to cable news, and probably on par with network TV. And other websites? Forgettaboutit.

If the mods really wanted to fix this, they could start by deleting every unsourced one-line bumper sticker opinion in a political thread. After about six months, political threads might actually start to have some content. . . Can this possibly happen? Sadly, I doubt it.

Pot? Kettle? Why don't you guys go somewhere else and be dicks together. The logout button is right over there.
posted by notion at 7:09 AM on January 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


First up, thanks, notion, for posting the second Egypt thread. It's what finally got me onto my ass (sitting down that is, and reading) and taking what's happening there damned seriously. I personally love the mix of hard news/reportage and sideways yammering that a good MeFi Breaking-News thread can offer. It's great to be reminded in the moment that everything the media gives you is suspect and is being interpreted by hundreds-thousands-millions-BILLIONS of brains in real time, for better and worse.

Welcome to reality.

It's really telling how people seem to want to be the first to report terrible news.

Reminds me of a small island community I was visiting about ten years ago. I went to the grocery store one morning and the terrible news was everywhere. A local man, estranged from his wife and two kids, had killed them the previous night, then himself. In a population of less than a thousand people, this was akin to nuclear bomb being dropped. EVERYBODY knew these people.

Later in the day, the real news finally got out. The guy had shot himself in his car because his wife wouldn't let him in the house. She and the kids were shaken up emotionally, but completely untouched physically. A tragedy for sure, but magnitudes less than what had originally been reported. My question to this day is, who found it necessary to start the original rumor, and why?
posted by philip-random at 10:12 AM on January 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


philip, I suspect it's the same reason we have the phrase "if it bleeds, it leads" in the news business. People have a preoccupation with drama, and a murder suicide is a lot more shocking than a simple suicide. Add one pathalogical liar to the mix, and you got a stew goin'.
posted by notion at 12:31 PM on January 29, 2011


all I'm seeing so far is the usual anti-US kneejerking

Criticising the foreign policy of current or former US governments is not an anti-US stance.

If there was a Venn diagram of the USA, the government would only be one subset of it, and foreign policy would be a subset of that. I thought that was the point of having elections and safeguards and a judicial system and all the other checks and balances - to ensure that the government is behaving the way it should. Public criticism of foreign policy is just part of that attempt to find a solution for the US as a whole.
posted by harriet vane at 8:44 PM on January 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


Has anyone else been noticing that the epic threads load pretty much flawlessly nowadays? Tip of the hat to pb and the gang on that one.
posted by stet at 9:41 PM on January 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


Agreed that the thread has been going well though it seems to be derailing now.
posted by proj at 5:17 AM on January 30, 2011


As events unfold I find myself thinking the thread would be a good candidate for the sidebar, since it's now moved off the front page, at least for me. Even though there's been some derailing, there are still important updates and observations being made, and from what I can gather there will be more.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 6:50 AM on January 30, 2011


I was in elementary school on 9/11

Let me just mark this as the first time that I have really, truly understood what it means to feel old.
posted by meese at 8:09 AM on January 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


Obligatory XKCD: Getting Old Edition
posted by notion at 12:19 PM on January 30, 2011


meese: "Let me just mark this as the first time that I have really, truly understood what it means to feel old."

Er, don't listen to me, I'm dumb. September 2001 would have been 8th grade for me, so it was more like the last year of junior high than elementary school (which I think is sixth grade and under?).

I blame the mix-up on the fact that I went to a smallish school which taught kindergarten through twelfth grade and used the "lower/middle/upper school" terminology rather than the usual "elementary/junior high/high school" one.
posted by Rhaomi at 3:52 PM on January 30, 2011


Well I thought that thread started out pretty tedious with a bunch of geeks talking irrelevant crap about technical matters of no import, and there was a hugely boring but not unexpected number of posts by needy Americans (left or right, it's not an ideological thing) wondering what it means for "the only country on earth".

But there was always a bit of a useful thread there, and before comment 700 or so the crap about turning the internet on and off seemed to disappear, and you have to be used to self-obsessed Americans on the internet or you'd never get anywhere. There was in fact quite a lot of excellent information provided.
posted by wilful at 4:04 PM on January 30, 2011


That's a lot of grar for a thread that you found useful.
posted by proj at 4:18 PM on January 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


> Well I thought that thread started out pretty tedious with a bunch of geeks talking irrelevant crap about technical matters of no import,

Eh, that's what the post started out as...a discussion of the internet/mobile phone shutdown. It morphed into the de facto "live" thread since that was the newest post on the subject. If you're not into nerds talking about technical points then you may be looking at a different Metafilter than the rest of us.
posted by Burhanistan at 4:38 PM on January 30, 2011


If you're not into nerds talking about technical points then you may be looking at a different Metafilter than the rest of us.

For an odd subsection of "us".
posted by wilful at 4:54 PM on January 30, 2011


That's a lot of grar for a thread that you found useful.

Indeed, it was frustrating digging for the excellent nuggets of info. And it got better after a while.
posted by wilful at 4:55 PM on January 30, 2011


Has any thought been given to adding some special liveblogging functionality to certain threads? Basically just a button at the bottom of the page that grabs any new comments and appends them, rather than having to reload the entire page.
posted by Ritchie at 6:59 PM on February 1, 2011


You know after I read the first 700 hundred posts or so I wasn't sure about that thread, but I read a few hundred more just in case.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:02 PM on February 1, 2011


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