Did you know there will be a whole year of political drama coming up? September 26, 2011 6:25 PM   Subscribe

Should we have a PoliticalFilter?

In a now-deleted thread, someone mentioned that "Metafilter 2012 will be even worse than Metafilter 2008."

I know that PoliticalFilter gets dangerously close to subReddits, but that doesn't mean it is a bad idea. (IMHO) I propose that we put a PoliticalFilter up on the top, maybe between AskMeFi and Projects, and move (mainly-) political discussion to there. Thoughts?
posted by andreaazure to Etiquette/Policy at 6:25 PM (156 comments total)

I propose we do one for Toddlers and Tiaras as well.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:27 PM on September 26, 2011 [8 favorites]


There was one but it looks dead to me.
posted by Rumple at 6:29 PM on September 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was going to say we *have* a PoliticalFilter, but it appears to be down. When did that happen?
posted by Rhaomi at 6:30 PM on September 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


I propose that we also create a PoliticalFilterFilter for MetaTalk threads suggesting PoliticalFilter.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 6:30 PM on September 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


I don't know. I do kind of lean toward the "this is too much segmentation" position; there are a lot of things that are borderline, right? And how do we draw a hard line between, say, obvious stuff like things about redistricting and direct posts about candidates on one side – and public policy issues like feeding the homeless and abortion on the other? I don't really think this would work very well.

That's just my take, though.
posted by koeselitz at 6:31 PM on September 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


Should we have a PoliticalFilter?

Can we have a FilterFilter, please?
posted by hal_c_on at 6:31 PM on September 26, 2011


no way. catfilter first.
posted by Ad hominem at 6:32 PM on September 26, 2011 [16 favorites]


This sounds more like part of a putative news.metafilter.com than a separate thing to me. I don't think a separate NewsFilter is ever going to happen, because creating it would come dangerously close to admitting that newsfilter posts don't actually have to contain interesting, meaty links (sausages?). But either way, it seems like the same arguments pro and con would apply to this as to that.

Or, you know, Daily Kos.
posted by RogerB at 6:33 PM on September 26, 2011


I only smoke filtered cats.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 6:33 PM on September 26, 2011 [5 favorites]


I can't imagine this ever happening because it simply isn't Metafilter. BUT, I'd rather read the comments here than any where else.
posted by snsranch at 6:34 PM on September 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


Where does end? There are a lot of things that are popular topics on mefi, but I think the mods do a good job, overall, of making sure that no one thing dominates and that related topics stay in one thread. FWIW I don't think we need subsites for specific topics.
posted by IvoShandor at 6:36 PM on September 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


I sympathize - political threads can get ridiculous and fighty - but I often get quite a lot out of them, when they're not just partisan sendups of someone. I think moving them to a subsite would be a loss for the main site. You're always free to ignore topics you don't like.
posted by Dasein at 6:39 PM on September 26, 2011 [5 favorites]


We've tried something like this more than once. At the start of the Iraq war, we had a warfilter or something like that, and it atrophied away.

Then Brandon did an awesome job with politicalfilter and it gained a bit of traction here and there, but then atrophied away.

Personally, I am not in favor of slicing and dicing the site into any more increments than it is. I I like some political and current events posts on mefi, but think they should be held to quality standards so we don't get a lot of noise.
posted by madamjujujive at 6:41 PM on September 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


we had a warfilter or something like that, and it atrophied away

The filter part, maybe.
posted by Trurl at 6:46 PM on September 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


Yes! Politics poisons the site, and if we can't ban in outright we should contain it in a seperate section.

However, this has been proposed maybe dozens of times before and Matt always says no. So unless he has a change of heart it ain't happening.
posted by LarryC at 6:47 PM on September 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


yeah, Best of the Web should stay here, and Politics should be filtered elsewhere.

I consider political journalism and analysis articles to be candidates for Best of the Web, but not, you know, news.
posted by infinitewindow at 6:49 PM on September 26, 2011


I was going to say we *have* a PoliticalFilter, but it appears to be down.

The blue is down?
posted by LarryC at 6:50 PM on September 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


Surely MyMeFi helps with this.
posted by That's Numberwang! at 6:50 PM on September 26, 2011


I hope the other site comes back... I stopped paying much attention to it after 08.
posted by yeti at 6:51 PM on September 26, 2011


How about we use MyMefi to screen out anything tagged politics? A few will slip through, but we'll get over it.
posted by COD at 6:52 PM on September 26, 2011


How do I add tags to the MyMefi? Right now I just have the NSFW tag which is cool, but I might get tired at some point.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:54 PM on September 26, 2011


It's a big internet. Have at it.
posted by odinsdream at 7:03 PM on September 26, 2011


Since people have to provide a quality link or links to make an FPP that will stand anyway, I simply propose that Team Mods be a bit more ruthless (as it seems they have been the past month or so?) about deleting crappy posts and just allowing things to remain integrated into one big Blue page. Subdividing posts by actual topic (instead of by genre) is, indeed, a bit too sub-reddit-ish.

Users can apply their own personal or electronic filters to keep them away from threads they aren't interested in, and can be on the lookout if they are seeking such threads out. I don't see why we should be hiding political FPPs from general view. Use MyMefi if you really can't stand to see them. That's what it's there for.
posted by hippybear at 7:08 PM on September 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


Why is it that so many people seem to think that Metafilter is segmented by topic, when, in fact, that's exactly what it's NOT segmented by?
posted by Plutor at 7:14 PM on September 26, 2011 [6 favorites]


COD: "How about we use MyMefi to screen out anything tagged politics? A few will slip through, but we'll get over it"

Ugh, I am still so super-leery about using MyMefi to filter stuff out by tags. Especially broad tags like "politics." People might do that wanting to avoid election year stress, but there's so much that falls under that topic that you'd be throwing multiple babies out with the bathwater.

Just looking at my own post history, there's one on the Daily Show writers' strike, one about the NationStates geopolitical simulation game, and the sprawling Nickelodeon one that only touched on politics tangentially. I'd hate for there to be a critical mass of people missing out on reading and participating in good, useful, non-partisan threads like that just because of how they were tagged. It actually makes me not want to use a lot of tags, or at least not hot-button ones.

(And like I said when this feature was first added, I think the presence of people who might block certain topics when given the chance are often valuable participants in threads about those same topics. We're not always the best judges of stuff like that.)
posted by Rhaomi at 7:15 PM on September 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


I personally look forward to months and months of unintelligible gibberish clogging up the front page.
posted by tumid dahlia at 7:23 PM on September 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't get MLP either.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 7:26 PM on September 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


I had a top ten in population state in nationstates for years, but I didn't log in for a while and so it got bumped down. Fuck that game! Filter it out!

Politics is part of Metafilter, the recent threads that make everybody facepalm are a result of some very narrow debates among the very liberal readership here. I honestly think getting it back into a general election us-v-them mentality where everyone gets together and agrees on how evil the other side is will make everything more harmonious around here, not less.

The content will still be not great, but it will be more readable.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:27 PM on September 26, 2011


I don't get MLP either.

Now these people need to be corralled into their own subsite ghetto.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:28 PM on September 26, 2011


I'd also like to see SLYTFilter.
posted by 6550 at 7:28 PM on September 26, 2011


well... how-a-bout something like 1 post about American politics/elections per x given time (week, 10 days...), opened by a moderator and all election filter must go there, with no exception, save assassinations or likewise traumatic/earth shattering important. I know this is not-how-the-site-works territory, but creating a heat sink for the inevitable onslaught could be a viable method.
posted by edgeways at 7:29 PM on September 26, 2011


"no exception" is not a phrase that turns up too much in Metafilter moderation, which is what I like about it. I think we can trust the mods to determine this stuff without writing anything new in stone. But you could always write, "Don't click on politics posts, no exceptions" into your own behavior?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:32 PM on September 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


Yeah it seems like creating a PoliticalFilter subsite would be like saying "the posts over here can be crappier, more argumentative, and more editorial than posts on the blue, because they are out of the way, so go to town", which would really not solve any problems for the mods whatsoever.
posted by silby at 7:34 PM on September 26, 2011


also these new buttons aren't skeuomorphic enough for my taste
posted by silby at 7:35 PM on September 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Thoughts?

No. The Official Mod Line is that we're not really interested in spending more time or effort making MeFi "safe for politics" than we do already. If there's a post on a political topic that you really want to see here, make a MeFi-worthy post about it and it will be fine. Otherwise, maybe go somewhere else for the Daily GRAR sort of political stuff that is all over the rest of the internet.

opened by a moderator

<hibbert>Oh good gracious no</hibbert>

Put another way, we do not segment out any other part of MeFi by theme and if we were going to pick a part of MeFi to devote time and attention to in this way, PoliticalFilter would be maybe 18th or 20th on our list depending who is voting.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:45 PM on September 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


Where we are on this is where we always are, which is nope, not happening. What will make the 2012 election season liveable (and I really hope it will be liveable, and better than 2008 was) is people showing some restraint about posting, people showing some restraint in how they comment in what does get posted, and probably a hefty dose of us cutting stuff off at the knees when it's getting out of hand.

Mitigating an uptick in the problematic stuff that already naturally happens as part of the site is much higher on our list of priorities than making a space specifically to foster that stuff, for probably pretty obvious reasons.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:49 PM on September 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


...people showing some restraint about posting, people showing some restraint in how they comment in what does get posted...

pretty funny stuff there.
posted by edgeways at 8:01 PM on September 26, 2011 [6 favorites]


Yeah, well, a body can hope.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:02 PM on September 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think the fact that no reasonable person could be excited about any candidate from any party in this election should also help.
posted by drjimmy11 at 8:02 PM on September 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


What will make the 2012 election season liveable (and I really hope it will be liveable, and better than 2008 was) is people showing some restraint about posting, people showing some restraint in how they comment in what does get posted, and probably a hefty dose of us cutting stuff off at the knees when it's getting out of hand.

Curious, since you phrased it that way: My experience as a user is that, the more US elections cycles I live through as a MeFi member, the more reluctant to check in with the site I become when we're in one of those cycles. Is mod policy likewise getting to be stricter with the "this had better be good" standard with each passing election?
posted by middleclasstool at 8:03 PM on September 26, 2011


I think that's kinda what we're feeling, yeah. It's hard to directly compare 2004 to 2008 for me since I wasn't as active on the site in general, let alone modding, but we definitely talked about trying to somewhat contain the sort of predictable AAAUGGGHHR GRAAAR POOOLLIITIIIIICS thing when it was starting to ramp up. Different elections are a bit apples and oranges too, so 2008 turning out to be sort of extra goddam crazy out in the real world makes it harder to assess that comparison as well.

There's a lot of bullshit that makes this place worse that comes with people letting this be their go-to spot for political gossip and argument that I think we're really, really inclined to try and keep a lid on, in any case, yes. There'll certainly not be some lack of political stuff on the site, and I know a lot of people value the better bits of political discussion that do happen here and we wouldn't expect that to stop being a thing, but we'll be keeping an eye out and probably trying to act early on borderline stuff or recurring bad dynamics where possible.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:09 PM on September 26, 2011


Somehow I get the feeling this is a no for my Toddlers and Tiaras subsite as well.
posted by cjorgensen at 8:11 PM on September 26, 2011 [10 favorites]


the only reason I mentioned the above possibility is I have seen it done on a local blog, with some effectiveness. People who want to snipe at each other have a specific place to do so (within reason). Of course that is not Metafilter, but I think something similar would cut the upcoming workload by a fair bit. My gut feeling is the 2012 main race is going to be exponentially worse than 2008, and is likely going to be one of the worse in the modern era.
posted by edgeways at 8:11 PM on September 26, 2011


jessamyn: " [hibbert]Oh good gracious no[/hibbert]"

Hibbert? Or Hibbert? Or perhaps... Hibbert?
posted by zarq at 8:20 PM on September 26, 2011


I'm sure jessamyn meant Dr. Julius, but now I'll always hear it in my head as Toots.
posted by oneswellfoop at 8:26 PM on September 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Somehow I get the feeling this is a no for my Toddlers and Tiaras subsite as well.

<Mackenzie>No, I am thorry, but I am not doin' thay-ut. You are drivin' me nuth.</Mackenzie>
posted by Rock Steady at 8:34 PM on September 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


Is Toots related to Lennie Hibbert? Wikipedia just says he's Junior Delgado's uncle.
posted by box at 8:37 PM on September 26, 2011


well... how-a-bout something like 1 post about American politics/elections per x given time (week, 10 days...), opened by a moderator and all election filter must go there, with no exception...

Try to imagine the soul desiccating debates that would more or less boil down to How is this not about politics!?!?! for things that aren't really about politics at all. It'd be like Matt selling off a third of the screen real estate to adds that run all the time for either the Tea Party or their Left Wing equivalents.

If we go that route, my pony request is that we pull back and nuke it from orbit.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 8:42 PM on September 26, 2011


...and if we were going to pick a part of MeFi to devote time and attention to in this way, PoliticalFilter would be maybe 18th or 20th on our list depending who is voting.

So what's #1 - 17?
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 8:45 PM on September 26, 2011


I'm also curious to know what number one is. Is it Tumblr posts?
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 8:46 PM on September 26, 2011


I'm also curious to know what number one is.

Member blog pages!
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:49 PM on September 26, 2011


If you don't like it, skip it.
posted by bardic at 8:51 PM on September 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


what's #1 - 17?

- 24 hour mod options
- better search
- geolocation
- stemming and other useful authority control on tagging
- wiki build out
- better "post a question/project/post" pages
- robot mod
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:55 PM on September 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


- 24 hour mod options
- robot mod


I see some redundancy there.
posted by desjardins at 9:01 PM on September 26, 2011


I would not object to a hard-and-fast NO Single-Link-News or Single-Link-Op-Ed rule for the duration of the current crisis (which would only occur when one or both of the U.S.'s political parties is replaced by something better). There were some things I was interested in adding to the "Obama Oracle" thread, but I am totally not heartbroken that it was deLEted.

Frankly, two of the things I appreciate about MetaFilter are (1) its emphasis on civility and (2) its political leanings (and the highlights of the recent GOP debates pretty much prove a direct connection between 'Conservative' politics and incivility).

And jessamyn's priorities are fairly interesting, BUT geolocation? Why? I never GO anywhere.

And you KNOW that 'robot mod' will turn into either Kryten from Red Dwarf or the first of the Cylons.
posted by oneswellfoop at 9:05 PM on September 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


God, Jesus, Lord, yes, please. Let's set up PoliticsFilter. If I have to read how people who criticize Obama's record are now racist I can only imagine how much further the Democrat establishment will debase themselves over the next twelve months, sending their lackeys to drag websites like Metafilter and others down with them.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:11 PM on September 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


It is kinda neat how metafilter wants to stay the same forever. Metafilter is kinda a well respected brand. Almost anyone else would want to build out a 'platform'. Stay golden Metafilter.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:13 PM on September 26, 2011


You could post political threads over at Gamefilter, but I'd just delete them (without even a clever comment to show for it)!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:20 PM on September 26, 2011


"Can we have a FilterFilter, please?"

No, those posts belong in the generalized "industrialFilter" with the NIN, Stabbing Westward, and God Lives Underwater posts.
posted by Eideteker at 9:21 PM on September 26, 2011 [5 favorites]


I think the gripe is that often there are several very good topics for posts that are often consumed by big, fat, unruly political posts. These good topics are often seen as sub-topics; but in fact are separate issues that deserve independent discussions.

I think I've seen many politicalfilter threads containing good, new information in them closed due to "there is already an open thread on this topic", when in fact the open thread only tangentially touches the new info.

Eventually, all political posts devolve into the same arguments between the same handful of mefites. This is disheartening, and discourages participation. Also, the political threads get huge and move fast, also discouraging participation.

I think that the point is that if we can devote an entire sub-site to politics, then the discussions can be spread thinner, and more manageable by all. This is especially so since the election cycle is getting very heated up again.

I think the idea of politicsfilter is probably a good one, from a practical standpoint, but I tend to agree that it's not going to work. It will change the metafilter into something less than it ought to be. While I love reading political insights on metafilter, and I hate the rehash of the same arguments by the same people, I think that good politics posts still belong on the front page of the blue. It may be a headache, but it's a headache the belongs where it is.
posted by jabberjaw at 9:24 PM on September 26, 2011


There was one but it looks dead to me.

All PoliticsFilter is dead to me.
posted by davejay at 9:39 PM on September 26, 2011


2012 may be better than 2008. I mean, what are the chances of having something as crazy inducing as Sarah Palin happen during the 2012 election season?
posted by kaibutsu at 9:40 PM on September 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


(just saying that so that in a year's time I can look back and laugh at my youthful naivety and idealism.)
posted by kaibutsu at 9:41 PM on September 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


Most requests for BalkanizedFilter essentially boil down to arguments for tolerating/encouraging mediocre FPPs by creating a Crap Preserve.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:49 PM on September 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


Eventually, all political posts devolve into the same arguments between the same handful of mefites.

I used to love political threads but I avoid them now because of this. They end up being three or four usual suspects shouting past each other with out much actual discussion going on. Half the time they're ignoring the specific post topic and just continuing the same arguments from the previous thread.
posted by octothorpe at 9:53 PM on September 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


Blazecock Pileon: "If I have to read how people who criticize Obama's record are now racist I can only imagine how much further the Democrat establishment will debase themselves over the next twelve months, sending their lackeys to drag websites like Metafilter and others down with them."

And you just know they use Microsoft products, too!


The Horror. The Horror.
posted by zarq at 10:05 PM on September 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


- 24 hour mod options
- robot mod

I see some redundancy there.
posted by desjardins at 12:01 AM


No, silly, the bots organized in 2009. Steelworkers 214 or some such thing, which would at first glance seem to be a conflict of interest...
posted by 1000monkeys at 10:32 PM on September 26, 2011


Sarah Palin

That first Palin thread was nuts! Everyone was like, oh shit McCain figured out the one way to trump Obama. We learned over the following months that she wasn't exactly an asset. McCain must still be pissed. So close but yet so far.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:41 PM on September 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'd think something like a general consensus to use a "2012election" or "2012politics" tag combined with a Greasemonkey script would be most effective. Yes, it's pretty hard to achieve consensus on anything here, although a friendly suggestion on the post page to use a specific tag would be a nice step towards that. Of course, that's assuming Greasemonkey scripts can read tags inside a post without clicking on the post, and that may or may not end up being a bit intensive on the server and/or computers. In that case, it'd require some sort of front page signal which in itself would be a step towards PoliticsFilter.

At this point, it'd seem most prudent to just write a script which hid posts with the names of any major candidate, "Democrat/Democratic" "Republican", or "election" in it. A little bit heavy handed, but I suspect it would be pretty effective for those who don't want to see the political end of things.
posted by Saydur at 11:27 PM on September 26, 2011


2012 may be better than 2008. I mean, what are the chances of having something as crazy inducing as Sarah Palin happen during the 2012 election season?

Romney / Bachmann 2012
posted by KokuRyu at 11:43 PM on September 26, 2011


And you KNOW that 'robot mod' will turn into either Kryten from Red Dwarf or the first of the Cylons.

We could always hire this guy.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:55 PM on September 26, 2011


We learned over the following months that she wasn't exactly an asset.

Speak for yourself, grasshopper.
posted by joe lisboa at 12:14 AM on September 27, 2011


Based on the sheer number of emo-prog pony-wishers up in here since, oh, twenty minutes after the Inauguration, I look forward to the Romney = Obama threads in the run-up to the 2012 election with something resembling enthusiasm. Only, you know, the opposite. Must be nice to live in a world totally shielded from the consequences of actual elections.

If MetaFilter is bound and determined to be a contingent of the circular firing squad on the left, you all might as well own it already.

I would type yall if I could afford a computer with an apostrophe key.
posted by joe lisboa at 12:25 AM on September 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


"robot mod"

The survivors of the nuclear fire called the war Judgment Day. They lived only to face a new nightmare: the war against the machines. The computer which controlled the machines, Skynet, sent two Terminators back through time.

Anyhoo, I'm one who reads most of the politics posts (though I rarely comment) because they are actually enlightening and helpful to me. Yes, I've had to abandon ship when discussions just become arguments between a few people, and lots of throwaway comments about punching people in dicks and so forth means I often have to struggle through to glean the great comments... but we do have great comments and commenters. A lot of people here really do bring the value, and I appreciate them so much. I absolutely do gain a lot of insight from reading MeFi threads on complex subjects, and I'd hate to see an atmosphere of capitulation take hold in which we just throw up our hands and say MeFi doesn't do X well. For each subject that gets bandied about that way, we have some people sharing some of the best links/observations/insights/updates/examination that I've found anywhere, especially in a general interest venue.
posted by taz at 1:20 AM on September 27, 2011 [8 favorites]


We already have a MetaFilter.
posted by doublehappy at 2:13 AM on September 27, 2011


I listen in on election-night threads like I might listen to election-night news at a pub -- the noise of the television coming to me filtered through the noise of other people in the pub rambling, pontificating, complaining, groaning, sputtering, joking, and promising to move to Cuba. And because I don't actually go to pubs or have a television (yeah, I know), that sort of thing is valuable to me.

The pre-election political threads -- the campaign trail threads -- pretty much all suck like "your favorite band sucks" threads suck, but I can filter them out myself or browse them for my amusement, depending on my mood, and I wouldn't wish them sent away to another site.
posted by pracowity at 3:34 AM on September 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Overall, it's been a net positive that as a group, we no longer sanction negative or derail comments to pollute a post right out of the chute. Can we do that for "topics" too? Can we not allow people to preemptively poison the well by complaining about posts before they are even posted? Let's not prosecute crimes before they happen.

The bottom line on politics or any topic should be the quality of the post. There's really no reason why this or any other topic should be ghetto-ized by corralling everything into a single kajillion-comment thread or confining people to some frozen gulag. There is more to life than kitties, music and macs, unpleasant as that may be.

If there is one phrase I would ban it is that tired old saw that "mefi doesn't do x well." Mefi has proven time and again that it can do any topic better than almost anyplace else on the web. Similarly, I find complaints that certain posts pollute the otherwise impeccably pure atmosphere here rather precious.

If it's a loud group of the same few argumentative people spoiling things, why not unite our flagging efforts to stopping them? (My secret theory is that they are probably paid plants hired by the anti-politics crowd, anyway - hamburger /)
posted by madamjujujive at 4:32 AM on September 27, 2011 [15 favorites]


I like political threads; I actually think they're one of the better things about MeFi. When they get unpleasant it is generally because of axe-grinding or certain members taking every opportunity to return to their favorite political hobbyhorse like a dog returning to its vomit. If we could focus as a community on improving the behavior in political threads, rather than eliminating or corralling them, or relying on Mods to crack the whip, I think that would be progress.
posted by unSane at 4:44 AM on September 27, 2011 [6 favorites]


The bottom line on politics or any topic should be the quality of the post.

...in case anyone missed that.
posted by Wolfdog at 5:15 AM on September 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


The problem with the political threads is how boring and predictable they are, not any surfeit of fisticuffs. For the most part they're about as aggressive and argumentative as Joe Bugner fighting Audley Harrison would have been.
posted by joannemullen at 5:20 AM on September 27, 2011


Refraining from posting horse-race threads - Candidate X yelled THIS OUTRAGEOUS THING, Candidate Y has just SHIT HIS PANTS ONSTAGE - might go a long way toward avoiding the problem. Candidates are by necessity founts of idiocy; the stupid daily parade of it is hardly worth posting to the front page.

The focus on the horse race elements instead of the issues is one of the main things that fills the site with garbage during elections.
posted by mediareport at 5:29 AM on September 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'd think something like a general consensus to use a "2012election" or "2012politics" tag combined with a Greasemonkey script would be most effective.

It seems like this would be an easy mod action to help deal with this. You know they will be dealing with these threads anyways... adding a tag so that people can hide them wouldn't be that much of an additional burden.
posted by smackfu at 5:52 AM on September 27, 2011


- robot mod

Oh, I thought this was an absolute no. Once you start down this path (eg, time-out high flag posts when nobody's up) it'll be neat to see how far it goes.

time or effort making MeFi "safe for politics"

I think the point is safe from politics. Skipping grarfest posts is easy; what's bad is when they come to you. There's already a rule against derailing, but the explicit expectation that discussion of the economic and electoral impact of potato salad doesn't happen here would be nice.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 5:52 AM on September 27, 2011


The problem with the political threads is how boring and predictable they are, not any surfeit of fisticuffs.

Don't read 'em, Joanne. Save yourself a world of bull. I'm pretty embarrassed by the extent to which I enjoy/graze on pointless aggro idiocy myself; I wish I could follow my own advice.
posted by Wolof at 5:54 AM on September 27, 2011


I just axed a comment in the facebook thread basically being like "Oh yeah well what about YOUR GOVERNMENT spying on you, how do you like that?" complete with links to news stories from three years ago. I would like to suggest that people who enjoy those sorts of political threads not piss the entire site off by turning every other thread into a place to grind your political axes.

Also, I was kidding about the robot.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:01 AM on September 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


I advocated for this kind of thing back in '04 and '08, especially when Devoter was around, but I obviously didn't get anywhere. There is a significant portion of the userbase that wants to talk news and politics, and barring a mod slash-and-burn campaign, it's not going anywhere. What new users should realize, though, is that the bar for posting seems higher now than it was in '04 and '08, when the site was smaller, less active, and had fewer mods. I suspect we'll see more active moderation than in the previous election cycles, with posts on the same topic being deleted more vigorously and discussed channeled into existing threads. I hope so, anyway.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 6:05 AM on September 27, 2011


My kingdom for an edit window!
posted by monju_bosatsu at 6:06 AM on September 27, 2011


Is there really a shortage of blogs out there dedicated to interesting politics news? I don't think so. When I need a fix, I just head over to Crooks and Liars or some place like that.
posted by inturnaround at 6:08 AM on September 27, 2011


People behave pretty nicely in askme (or their comments are disintegrated by the moderating robot). They read the question and they answer the question; they don't ramble on about tangential stuff and they don't argue with the other people in the thread.

It seems like a little askme-like moderating (adjusted for conversation) might help political posts. Instead of answering a question, people might be expected to actually RTFA and focus their comments on it. And instead of just deleting comments, maybe implement a thread-level banning function. If you can't behave in a certain thread, one mod click gets you SILENCED ALL YOUR LIFE, but only in that thread.
posted by pracowity at 6:26 AM on September 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


PoliticalFilter < Don't be a Dick

Problem solved!!
posted by pearlybob at 6:32 AM on September 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


I would love a PoliMeta, or something like that. Part of the reason I've been spending a lot more time reading reddit these days is that the polticial discussions there are welcome, and interesting.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 6:35 AM on September 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is there really a shortage of blogs out there dedicated to interesting politics news?

This could be said of anything. Is there a shortage of cute animal blogs? When I need a fix of cat videos, I go to YouTube. Is there a shortage of tech blogs or blogs dealing with art or history or mac stuff, etc etc.

The point is this is a community blog with a purpose of "best of the web" regardless of topic. We are here as a community to share things and perhaps to have discussions with people we grow to know and respect. I don't know anyone at Crooks & Liars. I don't know anyone at Kos. I don't care what those strange people have to say about things. I don't want to shop around for a lot of different segmented communities and I don't know why people keep suggesting that I should.
posted by madamjujujive at 6:39 AM on September 27, 2011 [11 favorites]


Ontario already is in political season - anyone want to hear about Hudak versus McGuinty?

I did restrain myself from making a post of an excellent analysis of our Toronto Portlands controversy ... on the grounds that no one outside of Toronto would care.
posted by jb at 6:40 AM on September 27, 2011


There's too much segmentation already.
Also, this post belongs in PonyFilter.
posted by rocket88 at 6:57 AM on September 27, 2011


What will make the 2012 election season liveable

The US election season will be liveable. What might come after the election is what terrifies me.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:06 AM on September 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


And I cant move to Canada if the unthinkable does happen, so I will just be ignoring, or trying to ignore, the GNAR in the threads.
posted by wheelieman at 7:11 AM on September 27, 2011


Metafilter is a community, not your own blog, so you have to learn how to ignore the stuff you dont want. The Mods aren't going to create more stress for themselves by setting up another section. SelfFilter is a viable alternative
posted by wheelieman at 7:16 AM on September 27, 2011


No
posted by caddis at 7:25 AM on September 27, 2011


While I can understand the impulse to want to segregate some threads away from the blue, I think it'll do more harm than good and lead to a lot of debate as to what should and shouldn't be there. There are a lot of threads that just don't interest me and I just accept that it's a conversation that I won't bring anything to or get much out of, so I move on. Occasionally I don't realize this until I'm a few comments into reading the thread, but once I establish that I don't need to be there, it's just as easy for me to close the tab and go on to something else.

Plus, if the threads were moved elsewhere, I might not see something that I didn't think would interest me but actually does quite a bit. That happens in political threads more than I'd like to admit.

But I don't want to talk about that. I want to hear more about this robot mod... does it have a built in ban-hammer? Like as a transformable arm attachment maybe? It probably wouldn't be all that practical, but it would look cool as hell.

Also, when it gets mad, I strongly suggest that its eyes turn red. It just adds to the terror of an unstoppable moderating machine, that will not stop, ever, until you are... uh, acting less fighty?
posted by quin at 7:30 AM on September 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


I will just be ignoring, or trying to ignore, the GNAR in the threads.

Why would you ignore the GNAR? I rather like the GNAR.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 8:09 AM on September 27, 2011


They're a bunch of gangsters.
posted by Horselover Phattie at 8:10 AM on September 27, 2011


If anyone doubts the danger of too much segmentation, I'd point out that there are two different blacksmithing subreddits.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 8:18 AM on September 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


- robot mod

Can we get the Fox NFL robot to be a guest mod (his name is Cleatus)? My wife HATES that robot, and I enjoy making her unhappy.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 8:23 AM on September 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


A SLYT of Candidate Y shitting themselves onstage would be the best of the web, AFAIC.
posted by Trurl at 8:26 AM on September 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


> A SLYT of Candidate Y shitting themselves onstage would be the best of the web, AFAIC.

So sayeth Brit Hume?
posted by Horselover Phattie at 8:39 AM on September 27, 2011


The robot mod. After a certain amount of flags on a post, all activity on the page gets redirected to that video. By the time people come to, the human mods will be awake and can take appropriate action.
posted by cashman at 8:42 AM on September 27, 2011


Just wanted to say that I do miss the PoliticalFliter site. The debate was good, nice and civil, and the liveblogging absolutely hilarious and a nice community gathering.

So if it ever comes back, I'm there. (Which may or may not be an attraction, I admit.)

Sorry, Brandon -- I tried.
posted by Capt. Renault at 9:00 AM on September 27, 2011


That first Palin thread was nuts! Everyone was like, oh shit McCain figured out the one way to trump Obama. We learned over the following months that she wasn't exactly an asset. McCain must still be pissed. So close but yet so far.

Well, not *everyone*.



This is a really poor choice, IMO. Disgruntled PUMA's were going to vote for McCain anyway, and voters who wanted Clinton because of her history of "being a fighter" and a champion of women's rights are not going to be pleased with obvious pandering. Anyone who has the least concern about electing a 72 year old President is not going to be comforted by the thought of a former Alaskan governor with hardly any experience running the country. I think the campaign shot itself in the foot.

posted by oneirodynia at 9:02 AM on August 29, 2008 [+] [!]
posted by oneirodynia at 9:02 AM on September 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


Ontario already is in political season - anyone want to hear about Hudak versus McGuinty?

I've been seeing the ads in BC.
posted by Hoopo at 9:36 AM on September 27, 2011


I just axed a comment in the facebook thread basically being like "Oh yeah well what about YOUR GOVERNMENT spying on you, how do you like that?" complete with links to news stories from three years ago.

I saw a couple live deletions recently; mod team deserves a lot of credit for its effort on this.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 11:00 AM on September 27, 2011


Here's my thinking on Politics/News Filter... not proposing a solution, just outlining the situation as I see it.

The Context: Metafilter's userbase contains some of the most intelligent and best informed commenters I've seen on the Internet. Most of the idiots, the worst of the assholes, and nearly all of the spammers have been culled out. I can't get that anywhere else, and I certainly can't duplicate it while maintaining my more-than-fulltime job.

The Need To Be Met: I want to discuss current events with that group of people, because I can't get the quality of discourse that happens when a current-events political thread on Metafilter is really clicking anywhere else on the Internet or in real life. Again, I highly doubt it could happen elsewhere.

I am most certainly not alone in this desire, and while the number of people who also want that is assuredly less than 50% of users, I would hazard that it is a LARGE minority (say, 20-25%) who do.

The Complication: Political threads, really anything ideological (religion, etc.) tend bring out the worst in otherwise good people. The current events nature of the subject matter exacerbates this. It creates large-scale behavioral problems for the mods to clean up, and fosters longterm grudges between commenters that can easily escalate into a sticky mess.

In short, this userbase might be great for discussing politics with, but discussing politics might not be good for the userbase.

Additionally, a political/news subsite would likely turn into a sewer very quickly, and there is no such thing as effective segregation of subsites because the relationships between different people exist outside and across the entire Internet. Until there's a clear solution that addresses the above points, a political/news subsite isn't up for consideration.
posted by Ryvar at 11:31 AM on September 27, 2011 [6 favorites]


The thing is, some days I'm in the mood and some days I'm not. If it's like, over there, I might not bother. But if it's right here, I might. I don't want another excuse not to click and engage.
posted by thinkpiece at 11:43 AM on September 27, 2011


Ryvar's analysis of the situation is excellent.

The really unfortunate thing is that the analysis applies not only to Mefi but the world at large.
posted by philipy at 11:48 AM on September 27, 2011


And I cant move to Canada if the unthinkable does happen, so I will just be ignoring, or trying to ignore, the GNAR in the threads.

Not sure if we can help you up here. We welcome Dick Cheney with open arms, after all.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:13 PM on September 27, 2011


Would this deleted post from today be a good post on PoliticalFilter?: Senator Bachmann says Hezbollah might be installing missiles in Cuba.
posted by smackfu at 1:44 PM on September 27, 2011


Can we have ScienceFilter, please? Thanks!
posted by wierdo at 2:25 PM on September 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Senator Bachmann says Hezbollah might be installing missiles in Cuba.

Senator Bachmann Compared To Sack Of Hammers. Sack Of Hammers Demand Apology.
posted by Devils Rancher at 2:28 PM on September 27, 2011


wierdo: "Can we have ScienceFilter, please? Thanks!"

I use MyMefi.
posted by zarq at 2:28 PM on September 27, 2011


smackfu: "Would this deleted post from today be a good post on PoliticalFilter?: Senator Bachmann says Hezbollah might be installing missiles in Cuba. "

Her only hope of being elected now is to promise to share whatever potent shit she's smokin' with the entire country.
posted by zarq at 2:30 PM on September 27, 2011


Bachmann isn't even a senator, good lord.
posted by dismas at 2:41 PM on September 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


I just axed a comment in the facebook thread basically being like "Oh yeah well what about YOUR GOVERNMENT spying on you, how do you like that?" complete with links to news stories from three years ago.

Hmmm. I hate to be the guy, here, but that makes me a little uncomfortable.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:42 PM on September 27, 2011


Really? Seems very similar to the constant "well, this too is Obama's fault somehow" comments that were clamped down on.
posted by smackfu at 3:47 PM on September 27, 2011


Hmmm. I hate to be the guy, here, but that makes me a little uncomfortable.

Got to say, I'm of mixed minds about it myself. A really nefarious sort of thread creep we see especially during election time is this sort of inserting of political agenda-filter links and comments into any thread that's even remotely related. So people turn facebook threads into "oh yeah could be worse, could be the government spying on you" arguments and the police brutality thread is potentailly turning into "let's fight about Guantanamo, shall we" and then we risk every thread about BBQing turning into an argument about vegetarianism just because that's what people like to fight about. Which means that the people who just want to talk about the topic of the thread have to dodge this sort of stuff whenever it comes up and if it's always coming up [and, to be fair, this was sort of by a Usual Suspect] it's a problem.

So I'm definitely of the mind that there are many many jumping off points to discussion on a wide variety of topics on most posts. That said, when we see the same handful of people trying to make any thread about anything into a fight about their pet topic, it's sort of a not okay way to be a part of the community and we'll politely tell them to ease off a bit.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:50 PM on September 27, 2011


Remember to have your pet topics neutered or spayed.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:54 PM on September 27, 2011 [8 favorites]


Didn't notice My Mefi until I read about it in this thread. Thanks!
posted by ZeusHumms at 4:13 PM on September 27, 2011


"let's fight about Guantanamo, shall we"

If only all fights could sound this polite.
posted by jabberjaw at 4:39 PM on September 27, 2011


zarq wrote: I use MyMefi.

MyMefi needs to be an arbitrary number of groupings of tags, such that you can have different pages for different topics. Otherwise, dumb people like me type in "nuclear politics" as a joke and never use the feature again.
posted by wierdo at 4:46 PM on September 27, 2011


I hear ya, jessamyn. It's too bad it feels like a necessary decision sometimes, but it's a rock and a hard place situation, I know.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:47 PM on September 27, 2011


jessamyn: "Also, I was kidding about the robot."

*cries*
posted by deborah at 5:26 PM on September 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Speaking as the author of the axed comment, my point was that the many people in the thread worrying about their online privacy were ignoring a far greater vulnerability. As if an Ask MeFi questioner worried if smoke from the fire burning in their living room would discolor their sofa cushions.

Of course, commenting before morning coffee, it came out in my native GRAR GOVERNMENT accent. As such, it was rightly deleted.

I did keep my trap shut before that Obama post got deleted yesterday. I am trying.
posted by Trurl at 6:11 PM on September 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


The one thing I don't like about My MeFi is that one has to go to preferences to remember what the tags I chose are.

Thought: would it work/is it possible to have a tag box on the right of MeFi, like Ask MeFi has, but have it customizable, like My MeFi, so that one's chosen tags are there as hotlinks to 'filtered' discussions.
posted by ZeusHumms at 6:29 PM on September 27, 2011


Trurl, "How can you talk about X when Z!" is a pretty arrogant and dictatorial position. Anyone can bust into any thread about any topic with the assertion that everybody there should be discussing MUCH MORE IMPORTANT OTHER TOPIC (often indistinguishable from TOPIC I FEEL LIKE TALKING ABOUT NOW).
posted by taz at 12:26 AM on September 28, 2011


"How can you talk about X when Z?"

I think it a fair question when Z is a more immediate, more comprehensive, and more dangerous threat of the kind people are worrying over X about.
posted by Trurl at 6:47 AM on September 28, 2011


Trurl: " I think it a fair question when Z is a more immediate, more comprehensive, and more dangerous threat of the kind people are worrying over X about."

Around here that sort of tactic is often used in bad faith. For dismissive axe-grinding. Outrage for outrage's sake. Distraction, for distraction's sake. It is behavior that tends to poison discussions by derailing them into minimally related topics.

Let's say you create a post about say, religious symbolism in Renaissance art. I add a comment saying "Sure the art is pretty, but we should really be talking about the modern pedophilic depredations of the Catholic Church!"

There is a time and a place for such discussions. They don't belong in barely-related threads, and certainly shouldn't be used to steer conversations away from the topic at hand.

Metafilter should not be anyone's "Wake up Sheeple!" soapbox.
posted by zarq at 7:02 AM on September 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think it a fair question when Z is a more immediate, more comprehensive, and more dangerous threat of the kind people are worrying over X about.

Then go start a website called bollocks-to-x-lets-talk-about-z.com and champion the cause there. One person thinking that people should stop talking about other than what they feel like people should talk about needs to not make that a basis for their behavior on this site.

That's not an assertion that X is equally or more important than Z. It's an assertion that taking action on the belief that you know better what other people should be discussing than they do is primo way to fuck up a conversation and piss people off, which is a pretty topic-neutral sort of bad behavior when you get away from any specific case of this or that person's personal Z.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:14 AM on September 28, 2011


Honestly, I think you're at least somewhat aware of this, which is why you used AskMe in your hypothetical. On AskMe, redirecting their focus would be appropriate in an equivalent situation. But The Blue is not AskMe.

An actual equivalentish scenario on The Blue would be barging into a post about corruption at a local government level and saying "Why are you even talking about this? There's much worse corruption at the national level!" When all that's at stake is awareness and conversation, nobody needs to make sure that they only ever think about THE MOST IMPORTANT THING. Attention isn't an all or nothing sort of thing.
posted by SpiffyRob at 7:29 AM on September 28, 2011


The Blue is not AskMe

From the thread, prior to my deleted comment:

don't allow Facebook apps that want to post to your timeline

The only way to be clear of this which doesn't involve reliance on the good intentions of others is...

Use, say, Chrome only for facebook...

Choose your social media connection with a little more care next time.

what's the situation with cookies if you're only browsing the webs via a smartphone

...on the rare occasions I log in, I do it from a browser that I only use for FB...

... I use someone else's identity on Facebook and I have friended only that person's actual high school friends so they all think I am him...

this is a better choice for those of you inclined to delete your cookies (unless you're on a shared computer)

This sounds like something that Close'n Forget and RequestPolicy could handle between them

is there a list of domains anywhere to add to my hosts file?

You can actually stop this behavior with Adblock Plus on Firefox.

is there anythig you can do to prevent this if you're using Chrome?

IIRC, when Gmail first came out and people fretted in the blue about the inadequacies of Google's privacy policy, it was pointed out that the structure of the Internet meant that a plain-text e-mail could be read at any of several points. And it was not objected that the issue was Google's privacy policy and not internet security.

That such an objection is made now is, I think, partly due to my commenting history - which is fair - and partly due to the fact that people dislike being reminded of their powerlessness in this respect.
posted by Trurl at 8:23 AM on September 28, 2011


partly due to the fact that people dislike being reminded of their powerlessness in this respect.

Seriously, the fact that you are having a difficult time parsing this is a decent exanple of why it's sort of important that people understand what the problem is and why it is a problem here on MetaFilter. People who do this sort of thing ["Oh yeah, well Z is so much worse, I can't believe you are wasting your time bickering about Y"] feel that they are speaking truth to power and so it's okay to sort of derail things because thing Z is important. This is problematic from a site standpoint because then any topic about anything is at risk of becoming held hostage by people who want to talk about More Important Topic. Go make your own post about More Important Topic if you can't not talk about it in an unrelated thread, seriously.

Your deleted comment, in full, read

"I wonder if people agitate themselves about marketing companies monitoring their Internet usage to distract themselves from the reality that there is already a far more powerful and far less trustworthy organization already spying on their communications. When Facebook starts building prisons, let me know."

It was not really responding to anyone's particuar comment, it was linking to a news article about the NSA and John Ashcroft from 2007 and was getitng precariously close to the "Hey don't fuck up your Brand New Day doing that thing that got you banned from here, please, we are trying to work with you on this and you need to meet us partway." line for my tastes. This has nothing to do with us shying away from difficult topics or not wanting to admit certain things about the way the US Government does their shady business. It has everything to do with learning to be appropriate in a time/place/context manner about the things you decide to talk to people about here. If you want to talk to us more specifically about this, we're always available over email, but your read on this is sort of at odds with our read on this.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:52 AM on September 28, 2011


Again, I have no argument with the deletion. If anything, I got off light.
posted by Trurl at 10:05 AM on September 28, 2011


I see the distinction you're making, Trurl, and agree it's a bit more nuanced than suspected after seeing the deleted comment.

Still: It's a pretty safe assumption that many people who care about privacy issues are pretty well aware of the overriding access the US government has to our online activity. Go into that thread with that assumption, and you can more charitably read people's efforts as "Wow, now the US Government AND Facebook are stalking me. Might as well try to stop Facebook!"
posted by SpiffyRob at 10:07 AM on September 28, 2011


It would be nice if similarly ranty, non-substance comments would get removed from that thread. There are a couple people who are on their soapbox without any kind of basis for their comments, but a need to insult all the others who are participating in good faith. If we can remove comments about the US govt, we should be able to dump their threadshitting, as well. :(
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:34 AM on September 28, 2011


Trurl, "How can you talk about X when Z!" is a pretty arrogant and dictatorial position.

I don't believe that's true. "How can you talk about the movie when the theatre's on fire" is neither arrogant nor dictatorial.
posted by unSane at 2:32 PM on September 28, 2011


But what he was bringing into the discussion wasn't related to the subject at hand, except that it involved the concept of "privacy" in some way. In which case, by the same justification, I could have popped into the thread to talk about how no one knocks on bathroom stalls anymore but just give them a push, discounting how many times the locks are often broken on stall doors.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:33 PM on September 28, 2011


I don't believe that's true. "How can you talk about the movie when the theatre's on fire" is neither arrogant nor dictatorial.

In a burning movie theater, sure. Or at a fire protection engineering lecture. Not all situations are analogous, and this would be more like "how can you sit here and watch a movie when theaters are potentially flammable", which, hey, way to be attentive to the realities of retail building construction but I'm trying to watch a movie here.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:45 PM on September 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


I was addressing the general point ('X when Z') not Trurl's utterance.
posted by unSane at 2:46 PM on September 28, 2011


But, really. How can we sleep while our beds are burning?
posted by Horselover Phattie at 2:59 PM on September 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


Burning beds aside, we'll at least have to keep dancing while the world is turning.

This conversation comes up in a related form with pretty much any kind of activism: one person thinks that forest issues are _soooo_ much more important than civil rights violations, while another thinks carbon caps are more important than forest issues. And so on and so forth.

The mature thing to do is recognize that we come at different issues in different contexts, and get involved in one or another not because of its absolute importance in the scheme of the world, but because of a confluence of knowledge, personal interest, and abilities. The best thing to do is recognize each others work on various issues as important regardless of how we personally rank the importance of the issues. Because there is a shit-ton of work to be done out there, and we should be happy enough when people get off their ass and do any of it, given the constraints that life piles upon us.

And now I'm off to a meeting of a cycling advocacy group. Cheers!
posted by kaibutsu at 4:07 PM on September 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


I got a suggestion. Change the way metatalk works. Each post to the blue automatically gets a grey thread. When you are in the blue, you can swtich to the grey thread for that post. Anyone who wants to snipe at the post can do it in there.

The grey page will work as it always has, except it will no longer contain callouts for specifit posts, just sitewide issues.

I know it seem crazy, but part of the angst caused by meta posts is because they are only created when something goes horribly horribly wrong. If each thread had a pressure release valve it might be better, each thread could be talked about individually before the inevitable giant meta explosion.
posted by Ad hominem at 8:04 PM on September 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


I can almost hear the sound of Mod wingsuits vectoring in to carpet bomb that suggestion, Ad hominem, but I think it's a really good one. Very similar to the 'discussion' view on a wiki.
posted by unSane at 8:20 PM on September 28, 2011


Yeah it's actually an idea that mathowie had way back when the site was mostly just him. I think our main concern is that basically this would create, not really a place to blow off steam, but a backchannel that would turn into sort of the anti-MetaFilter. And so instead of one thread to moderate which might spawn a MeTa post occasionally, you'd have two tandem threads only one of them would be the more MeTa-like and be less-moderated but at the same time we'd still need to moderate it somewhat. And you'd still need Metatalk for larger policy type issues.

I think the conclusion that we made at the time was that it would neatly double the moderation duties and not actually solve the problem. People would not automatically make their comment in the "proper" part of the site and there would actually become a triple tier of moderated places instead of the dual tier that we have now between MeFi and MeTa. It went on the list as "something we might want to do if we had infinite resources for keeping an eye on the site" but not really otherwise.

I know it's sort of chafing that because the site's grown somewhat organically, the tools that we have in place don't work as optimally as systems we could envision but there's the very real challenge of getting from here to there and it's more complex than I think it may sometimes seem.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:29 PM on September 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


True, each meta thread would need attention. And yeah, people would piggyback on it for random bullshitting so it may be self defeating.
posted by Ad hominem at 8:43 PM on September 28, 2011


Really, I've been impressed with the extent to which MeTa functions as a blow-off valve for the rest of the site. I think one of the things that's kept me with the site for so long is the extent to which it functions as a community space, and MeTa is a fundamental part of that function. We talk about our shit here, and that's the big difference between a community and, well, not. 'Coz when some shit goes down on someone else's playground, you take your ball and find a new place to play. But when it's a playground you feel some real investment in, then the shit becomes something to talk about and deal with, rather than just walk away from. This is what sets metafilter apart.
posted by kaibutsu at 11:58 PM on September 28, 2011


a backchannel that would turn into sort of the anti-MetaFilter

Would we all have goatees?
posted by desjardins at 7:48 AM on September 29, 2011


Should we have a PoliticalFilter?

Well, Metafilter had a politicalfilter, twice. First there was Devoter, then there was PoliticalFilter. Both had support and encouragment and good cheer from the moderators of Metafilter. Both failed in the sense that they did not do what a lot of people would have liked: shifted political posts from Metafilter to some other site, specifically the more outrageous and fighty ones.

As the creator and admin of PoliticalFilter, I've come to the conclusion that that is an impossible goal. I was pretty convinced it was one when I started it, but I went ahead, hoping to keep that line of action to a minimum, while building off of it (or at least using it) for something else.

The big problem, IMO, with wanting to shift any topic away from Metafilter or to a subsite is it immediately divides the community. After PoliFi had been around a while, people would make comments along the lines of "Why is this political post here, take it to PoliFi". Naturally, these were posts they did not like and felt should be sent to the "ghetto" offsite. That started to piss some people off, not surprisingly. Polifi looked roughly similar to MetaFilter, but was different in function and perhaps more importantly, it didn't have the traffic of MetaFilter, as Burhanistan noted:
PoliticalFilter is nice and all, but people don't want to just go somewhere where they can discuss politics, they want to do it here because there is a critical mass of eyeballs. I think it has very little to do with the appropriateness of the venue and everything to do with sweet sweet attention and response.
In short, PoliticalFilter suffered a bit from being too linked to MetaFilter. Ideally it should have started from a stronger position of being something other than just a separate little site related to Metafilter proper.

In the end, I think it developed its own personality and usefulness, specifically when it came to live-blogging. A bunch of us would gather for certain political events, such as a US Presidential press conference, debate or State of the Union address. Those were fricking hilarious and a real bright spot.

But in the end, the site became engulfed too much in US politics and the sheer craziness that grew from the 2008 elections. I had hoped for PoliFi to be island of rationality and discussion and instead it ended up being a lighter version of the Daily Kos, with posts wanting to constantly show the latest stupid thing done by Republicans or the newly perceived capitulation by Obama/Democrats. Important things, yes, but not the only thing occurring in the realm of politics and often far from the most interesting. One of the biggest things I had hoped for with PoliFi was for it not to be American centered, as I find the art or science of governing to be fascinating in how its practiced throughout the world. I would have preferred having 5 people discussing elections in Uganda rather than 100 people foaming at the mouth about Sarah Palin.

If you find that last image insulting, sorry, but it's how I see things and that viewpoint was the most surprising thing to come from working on PoliFi. Liberals can be just a fricking crazy, bullheaded and emotionally driven as Conservatives and equally unappealing to listen to. I have little patience for endless navel gazing or astonishment at the outrageous or stupid things people do, especially in government. My first thought in those situations is to access the issue and see if its important, then contemplate the various outcomes or blowback from those statements or actions. That's the really interesting stuff, thinking about what could or will happen as opposed to the "OMG HOW COULD THEY".

Finally, the last problem with PoliFi was that it was all me. I had hoped to work with a couple of other people on the project, but they invariably bailed or couldn't commit (I'm not talking about the various people who actively commented) and I just steamed on ahead anyway, determined to do it myself, 'cause at that point I had already said I would, bought a domain etc. To tackle such a large project, you need 2 or 3 other people with you, who are of roughly the same mind. I didn't try hard enough to recruit people after launching and that hurt the site, definitely.

Still, those live-blogging nights were pretty sweet.

Were Polifi to happen again (and yes, I get that little tingle every now and then), here's what would be different:
1. More modern look and feel. The simplistic look of Metafilter is fine, 'cause it's been around for a dozen years and can get away with it. Anything launching now has to have a more modern look and a bit more modern coding (jquery for some stuff, favorites, contact links)

2. Build the site more around live blogging

3. Have more than one person running it and writing code. I write terrible code and that's just the HTML/CSS. Javascript and PHP? I can make servers tremble in fear.

4. Less American focus. Ideally, start with a small group of people who blog about various aspects of politics and then slowly invite similar people to join in. Comments would be open to all, but posting would restricted, at least at first.

5. Less obvious relationship to MeFi. Any sort of "this is a dumping ground for political posts from Mefi" would be strongly discouraged, with extreme prejudice.


Otherwise, people have been asking for sub-sites for close to a decade now. It hasn't happened. It's probably not going to happen and if it does happen it may not be a great as you think. Once you start excluding one topic, that leaves room for other topics. You may hate the political threads, but there's a topic that you love that is hated by others. Be careful advocating for ghettos, as you may find yourself in one.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:48 AM on September 29, 2011 [7 favorites]


Also, I think madamjujujive summed up very well the community aspect of Metafilter and why people would be resistant to changing that.

The sub-sites that Metafilter has (AskMeFi, Projects, Music, Jobs, MetaTalk, IRL, Podcast, ) are done by function, not topic. You can post a political thread to the main page, ask a political question, do a political project, make a political song, ask for or post a political job, bring up a point about how politics are handled on the site, have a political meet up or get any of the former mentioned on the podcast. Separating politics or anything else out by topic is fundamentally against how the site was birthed and grown and now lives.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:25 AM on September 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


I feel for the mods. I have a hard time seeing how most political threads are going to be avoided in a US election cycle unless it's just straight-up endless churnings of ranting and arguing back and forth. But that's really what most US-related political threads end up becoming anyway. I like the give and take, and one reason I come here is to follow the political discussions (and occasionally engage) because they're far more stimulating and enlightening to me than political discussions anywhere else. I learn a lot from the political threads. If a political thread is too ranty or sharp-edged for me, I move on.

Creating a subsite for political threads seems not what mefi is all about to me, regardless of the heat and fury and chaos. The mods might as well just start slicing off thread subsets for any topic that some of us might find too heated or explosive. It'd be interesting to see what would still qualify as an FPP after dust had settled and all the slicing and dicing was done.

And to me, predicting out of hand that Metafilter 2012 will be even worse than Metafilter 2008 seems like a self-fulfilling prophecy waiting to happen.
posted by blucevalo at 12:30 PM on September 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


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