@ for one, @ for all December 2, 2011 2:37 AM   Subscribe

Can we have an @ button thingo pony so we can see when someone has replied to us, or quoted us, or SACRE BLEU, contradicted us on the green, grey and blue? You know what I mean, like twitter and Facebook has. Pretty please?
posted by taff to Feature Requests at 2:37 AM (137 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

Well, it'll be a bit before our programming wizards wake up and answer here, but I'm going to forecast that technical solutions that make it easier for people to go mano-a-mano in conversations is probably not going to be high on the to-do list. As it is now, users sort of need to pay attention to what's happening in the entire conversation, as opposed to just answering back to people who are addressing them, and that's really for the best, from our point of view.
posted by taz (staff) at 2:47 AM on December 2, 2011 [15 favorites]


But I would only use that superpower for good, not evil....
posted by taff at 2:52 AM on December 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


No.
posted by Wolfdog at 2:58 AM on December 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


MetaFilter is for talking with people, not @ them.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 3:07 AM on December 2, 2011 [75 favorites]


I am only in if it is implemented with actual ponies - as in, one of the mods rides up on a pony to let you know someone is talking about you on the internets.
posted by Dr Dracator at 3:15 AM on December 2, 2011 [11 favorites]


I think recent activity is the right way to do this, for exactly the reasons taz said. Are there really very many situations where RA wouldn't work, but @-style notifications would, and the responses you would make would actually contribute to the site?
posted by hattifattener at 3:23 AM on December 2, 2011


But what if I want to drag a few people in to look at a comment where I'm talking about them? (Coldchef, Miko, Fiasco, Ubu, come and help me here!) Or what if I want a mod to notice me? Or, you know... let people know they're loved? Maybe it could be an opt in thing. Could it?
posted by taff at 3:26 AM on December 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


You know what I mean, like twitter and Facebook has

MetaFilter is not a social networking site.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 3:26 AM on December 2, 2011 [10 favorites]


Well, you could (m)email them, if you actually think they'd want to read/comment.
posted by hattifattener at 3:27 AM on December 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Really? Thanks for clearing that up for me. I was confused for a moment.
posted by taff at 3:27 AM on December 2, 2011


I have a policy of not reading any comments that begin with the @ symbol. You put @ in there and it's directed at me? I'd never know what that comment said.
posted by gman at 3:31 AM on December 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


You see, this is exactly where I see a possible need for an @ or 2 or <3 or whatever because I was addressing Ends yet it looks like I was talking to Hatti. Would clear up a bunch and this tiny hack is just a hack. Well, that's what I thought.
posted by taff at 3:32 AM on December 2, 2011


There's a lot of distaste for the @ symbol here. See this Metatalk for example.

Of course this doesn't comment on the technical aspect of what you're asking for, but it might explain some of the grump about to arise.
posted by nat at 3:34 AM on December 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Friday night in Australia, combined with this request. I'm guessing office Christmas party.
posted by dg at 3:34 AM on December 2, 2011


And in comes the Snark Patrol, scenting fresh blood.

To answer the question, I think email or memail probably is a better solution - the point of the site is the text (the links or questions and comments), rather than the commenters. I quite like the sense that anyone can weigh in, and I think being able to call on specific people in-thread and outside the context of the discussion could hurt that. Happy to be proven wrong, however.
posted by ZsigE at 3:35 AM on December 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm a little surprised that someone who's been here nigh on five years is suggesting the @ atrocity.
posted by 6550 at 3:37 AM on December 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Gman, in Facebook, you don't see the @ symbol. It doesn't have to be that, it was just an example. I'd like notifications of being referenced. I would love to show respect to other users that way. And I reckon it makes it more accessible for new folk to see who is being discussed and maybe why. Perfect example...all the death/funeral stuff when folk do the, "Calling Coldchef" thing. He'd know straight away, someone unfamiliar with him could click the little HTMLish name and see his profile. Easy peasy not so squeezy.
posted by taff at 3:38 AM on December 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


taff: You see, this is exactly where I see a possible need for an @ or 2 or <3 or whatever because I was addressing Ends yet it looks like I was talking to Hatti. Would clear up a bunch and this tiny hack is just a hack. Well, that's what I thought.

See what I just did up there with your comment? There's your existing fix.
posted by gman at 3:39 AM on December 2, 2011 [19 favorites]


And in comes the Snark Patrol, scenting fresh blood

Sometimes snark is appropriate. You know, like when someone makes a really really really bad suggestion.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 3:40 AM on December 2, 2011


Atrocity? Hells bells Janelle, hyperbole much? Step away from the @ and replace it with ¥ .
posted by taff at 3:40 AM on December 2, 2011


I think this would be awful.
posted by slogger at 3:44 AM on December 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


Why, yes, the comment was hyperbolic, reflecting the distaste some users have for the @ convention that has come up in past MeTas.

More seriously, I think it's also been discussed having some kind of notification for users a la "calling ColdChef" and the mods did not seem inclined to add that kind of feature, if I remember correctly.
posted by 6550 at 3:44 AM on December 2, 2011


Yeah gman, I'm just suggesting a tweak to make it easier. The extent of notifications or not is not necessarily the only positive. Ease of use is cool. I was thinking it might be a handy hack.

I didn't have malicious intent in my heart, it never occurred to me that it might be used that way. My only memory of involvement in a meta argument was where this little code would have avoided this because I responded to the wrong person in a fast moving and very long thread.
posted by taff at 3:45 AM on December 2, 2011


And here we go.
posted by 6550 at 3:46 AM on December 2, 2011


"You know what I mean, like twitter and Facebook has."

Hahaha, you went about this all wrong. :P
posted by iamkimiam at 3:48 AM on December 2, 2011 [14 favorites]


A "mentions" tab could be interesting but difficult to implement given the conventions we use and how it is basically a deep search.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 3:54 AM on December 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


I started reading that other thread. Wow, such a passionate subject. Who knew?

Can we ignore my suggestion of the @ symbol and any reference to any other site's HTML practices? I just didn't know how to accurately describe that feature or I wouldn't have mentioned them.

It's a feature request without design suggestions.
posted by taff at 3:57 AM on December 2, 2011


Mentions!!!! That's what I should have asked for! Thanks Matt. I'm a twit. That's even one of the terms I searched the grey for. I should have stuck with that. I'd pay extra for it! And have it as opt in! Oh god, I've got to stop with the exclamation marks.
posted by taff at 4:00 AM on December 2, 2011


I am Jack's incredible fiery rage at mentions of the @ symbol.
posted by Justinian at 4:04 AM on December 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


@gman: DUDE, checks out this awesome cache of porn, pills and plumbing supplies
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:09 AM on December 2, 2011


Justinian, I just did a big site search to see if your ambiguous, to me, sentence was reference to a username. With a mention thingy, that could have been clear first up.

And I only found I am jacks amnesia. He isn't chatty in the grey so I have no idea what you were saying. Sorry possum.
posted by taff at 4:13 AM on December 2, 2011


It's a "Fight Club" thing, taff.
posted by taz (staff) at 4:39 AM on December 2, 2011


suggesting the @ atrocity.

no, its @rocity, whoever that user/member is...

I can understand what why you may wish to request this but I have a feeling it may only perpetuate some of those derail/three people arguments/debates that lead to more GRAR and grey threads

no, I have no data nor a citation, I call my expanding waistline an informed intuition on a good day
posted by infini at 4:41 AM on December 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh crap. I'm so unhip. I have seen that movie but it didn't have a profound enough effect upon me to recognise the quote a hundred and forty seven years later. I only remember the first rule. And only
because a million boring hipsters quoted it so frequently at the time and still do now.

Is this an oblique reference to the first rule?

Gah, at least if it was Fawlty Towers reference, he would have got away with it....
posted by taff at 4:46 AM on December 2, 2011


It's at times like these I'm glad I picked a unique, one-word, relatively easy-to-spell username -- it makes it super easy to see if anyone's replied to you or asked you a question lately. Makes me feel bad for the boxes and fakes (and ~s) of the world. Though I can never drop into a thread and riff on the coincidental use of my username in a post, so I guess it all balances out.

I know the "orangered" envelopes you get on Reddit whenever somebody replies to your comment are really nice (sort of like the eye-catching green of a new MeMail message), with the caveats that Reddit is vast enough to require notifications for conversation and that it's based on their threaded comments system. If Mefi could replicate that functionality in a reliable way (and without an @ sign), it could be a boon for positive engagement.

As for negative engagement, I'm not so sure the bad would outweigh the good here. I get the feeling fighty users are already on the lookout for any mention of themselves, and tense one-on-one arguments perpetuate themselves just fine through Recent Activity and real-time updates, no reminders needed. I think if some kind of "mentions tab" were added, it would bring in far more regular users responding to friendly callouts, bat signals, and speak-of-the-devils.
posted by Rhaomi at 4:51 AM on December 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm hesitant to suggest this, for the eminently valid reasons mentioned above, but one possible solution for a Mentions tab would be to restrict it to instances in which a user page or one of a user's comments is linked to directly. And it strikes me that instead of doing a deep search at the moment a Mentions tab view is requested, comments could be parsed for such links at the moment of posting and the info could be pulled into a Mentions database for quick recall upon request.
posted by nobody at 4:56 AM on December 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


I am only in if it is implemented with actual ponies - as in, one of the mods rides up on a pony to let you know someone is talking about you on the internets.

In the lonesome and desert hills, the prospector watches the plume of dust getting closer as the rider pushes her pony hard up the steep trail.

"Six Gun Sam! The Clantons took what you said in the wrong way, and now they're telling everyone you're not as much of an expert in Baltic cuisine as you say you are!"

"Tell 'em pickles. Hot. In the cream sauce with pork, there's no mistake. It's Latvian stroganoff, not Russian."

"Can do, pardner!"

"Oh, one more thing... tell Old Man Clanton I'm tired of his second-guessing, and I want to know what his problem is."

"Take it to MeFi mail, pilgrim... I'm keeping us out of that kind of trouble."
posted by Slap*Happy at 4:59 AM on December 2, 2011 [9 favorites]


restrict it to instances in which a user page or one of a user's comments is linked to directly.

Neat idea, though I'm already picturing the "Could you please ask user X to stop linking to me in every post" meta thread.
posted by davey_darling at 5:13 AM on December 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


But if it were opt-in that wouldn't be a problem. And it could be removed as a privilege if a user abused it. Not that they would, of course.
posted by taff at 5:15 AM on December 2, 2011


Matt, what about trailing it on the grey for mod mentioning? (And Coldchef!)
posted by taff at 5:17 AM on December 2, 2011


Also....I joined the site and loved it immediately. About that time Jessamyn came to Sydney. I didn't go to the meetup as I had a very small baby and I thought its a meetup, a metafilter member is here, there will be more and whoever she is, she'll probably be back and I'll meet her then. And I'm really bloody tired.

I WOULD TOTALLY HAVE GONE IF I HAD KNOWN WHO SHE WAS AND HOW FAR SHE HAD TRAVELLED AND HOW UNLIKELY IT WAS SHE'D BE BACK SOON!!!! I was solely a green person then and wasn't familiar with her presence. I was still learning names.

I'm still a bit sulky.
posted by taff at 5:23 AM on December 2, 2011


It's a "Fight Club" thing, taff.

Well, if you're elderly, or me, it's a Reader's Digest thing.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 5:35 AM on December 2, 2011 [7 favorites]


It's so rare that I read a Metatalk thread and come away thinking 'Wow, OP is so cheerful and has navigated this thread with such charming aplomb. Kudos!'

So, y'know - kudos, taff.
posted by pseudonymph at 5:44 AM on December 2, 2011 [15 favorites]


Just visually, I really abhor the @ convention, and I wish it would forever disappear. But I think some variation of the "mentions" thing could be neat (though perhaps difficult or impossible to implement, given how loose the conventions are here on quoting, linking, and referring to other users and their comments). So if it was implementable and not hugely intrusive, I'd definitely be in support of this.
posted by Forktine at 5:47 AM on December 2, 2011


Is it just me, or are IRL notifications not going out recently? I checked that I still have the option set in my profile since after my last timeout.
posted by Eideteker at 5:48 AM on December 2, 2011


It's at times like these I'm glad I picked a unique, one-word, relatively easy-to-spell username -- it makes it super easy to see if anyone's replied to you or asked you a question lately.

It's at times like these that I am incredibly jealous of people like you. And annoyed at myself. (Though it's not as much of a hassle as all the misdirected email I get; you'd be amazed at how many people think that their email address is [myusername][at]gmail....
posted by Infinite Jest at 5:50 AM on December 2, 2011


I recognized it instantly as I'm Joe's Spleen from Reader's Digest, must be me=elderly...
posted by infini at 5:52 AM on December 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Speaking as someone who does not Twitter or Facebook PLEASE DO NOT MAKE THIS SITE ANYTHING LIKE THOSE HORRIBLE PLACES.

That is all.
posted by three blind mice at 5:54 AM on December 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'm trying to imagine how this would work. Would it be an automated thing? In which case, how would this automated thing tell the difference between me talking about the mefite Infinite Jest (fer instance) and me talking about, you know, the book?

If it's not automated, then we have to rely on people to know they should, what, highlight the username in the comment they're typing and click a button or something? Hmmm.
posted by rtha at 6:05 AM on December 2, 2011


It's a "Fight Club" thing, taff.

Well, if you're elderly, or me, it's a Reader's Digest thing.


Now on the blue.
posted by aught at 6:10 AM on December 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think there were two requests rolled into one here. One of them is I think pretty cool, but the other is about as problematic as threaded conversations. Unfortunately, I think the problematic one is the one more clearly presented.

1. (The Cool One) The ability to bring something to somebody's attention, as in "Paging ColdChef." Really not all that different from memailing them, but automated.

2. (The Problematic One) The ability to reply to people's comments in a similar manner, and have them notified.

#2 is going to facilitate back-and-forths, as has been mentioned above. It really has the potential to fundamentally change the way discussions go here, by making it easier to carry on a conversation without taking the time to at least skim everything else being said. If you want to see/be notified if someone has replied to a comment you made... read the thread.

#1 however, is more about pulling people into something they're not already involved in. While this has the potential to be used badly (*Blazecock Pileon, get in here and defend this Apple atrocity!!!!!!!) the opt-in safety hatch and general "don't use this to start fights" guideline could help.

But I don't really see a way to make 1 happen in a way that you couldn't just immediately use it for the same thing as #2. Maybe you could put a restriction on it that you can't "mention" somebody who's already commented in a thread, but that seems a little hinky.
posted by SpiffyRob at 6:21 AM on December 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Would clear up a bunch and this tiny hack is just a hack.

This isn't a tiny thing at all, it would radically change the way the site operates, and as such, it would radically change site culture. The opposition you're seeing here is because of that. If you don't recognize what a big difference this would likely make to site culture, you are likely to be confused by the vehemence here.

FWIW, I think this is a horrible idea.
posted by OmieWise at 6:22 AM on December 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


I would not like this pony and would opt out if given the option.
I agree with taz that
"users sort of need to pay attention to what's happening in the entire conversation, as opposed to just answering back to people who are addressing them, and that's really for the best, from our point of view."
posted by pointystick at 6:34 AM on December 2, 2011


To try and rescue some of these horses from this burning barn, I do think it might be useful to improve comment quoting. This format:

taff: You see, this is exactly

is quite nice, not very intrusive and fits the site norms. That is, quoting a comment from another user becomes: their username, linked to their comment, colon, followed by quote, all in italics. I don't know how hard it would be implement as a site wide feature, but I for one, would really appreciate being able to do this without add-ons.

I know there are scripts that can do this, but there are many reasons greasemonkey isn't always a practical option (work restriction, mobile device restrictions, security concerns, etc...).
posted by bonehead at 6:40 AM on December 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


I do NOT want people paging me about a thread, thanks, I'll find it on my own. And, I'll further state that the use of the @ symbol comes across much like using U for "you" or R for "are", it's just lazy and cheapens the discourse.
posted by tomswift at 6:47 AM on December 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


bonehead: "I don't know how hard it would be implement as a site wide feature"

you already have this feature, without scripts or add-ons.
posted by tomswift at 6:48 AM on December 2, 2011


tomswift: "
you already have this feature, without scripts or add-ons.
"

Yeah, there's a little [quote] button after each comment, but this will only show up if you refresh the page, as the [quote] button is not there on new comments if you've clicked the "There are X new comments" link thing.
posted by Grither at 6:52 AM on December 2, 2011


Grither: "Yeah, there's a little [quote] button after each comment, but this will only show up if you refresh the page, as the [quote] button is not there on new comments if you've clicked the "There are X new comments" link thing."

Oh wait, am I actually running a script that does that for me? Or is this an actual feature on the site? I am confusing myself now.
posted by Grither at 6:53 AM on December 2, 2011


I thought you were just trying to trick me into favoriting you, Grith.
posted by Edogy at 6:54 AM on December 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, there's a little [quote] button after each comment

Uh, not on my metafilter there isn't. Am I missing something?
posted by bonehead at 6:55 AM on December 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Grither: " Oh wait, am I actually running a script that does that for me? Or is this an actual feature on the site? I am confusing myself now."

That's a greasemonkey script called Mefi Quote. Here's a full list of mefi-related scripts on the wiki.
posted by zarq at 6:58 AM on December 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Try GraphFi. It's great.
posted by phunniemee at 7:00 AM on December 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


taff: this tiny hack is just a hack.

mathowie: A "mentions" tab could be interesting but difficult to implement given the conventions we use and how it is basically a deep search.

So, not a tiny hack not just because of impact on site culture, but it's also technically difficult.
posted by needled at 7:01 AM on December 2, 2011


Let's not.
posted by Gator at 7:19 AM on December 2, 2011


taff,

My understanding is that the current convention for pretty much exactly what you are asking for is to type in the name of the person whose attention you particularly want to draw to the comment followed by a comma and two returns. This way, if even if the person misses it in the thread, they will be able to find it when the search the site for mentions of their name. The sum total is the same, its non-obvious enough that new folks who might be more likely to abuse it in ignorance won't necessarily figure it out, and its more personal.

Its also a kind of neat way to get a general impression of how the site sees a commenter's comments when they are notable enough to quote, just do a search for their username in the comments.
posted by Blasdelb at 7:19 AM on December 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Like Matt said, this would be complicated to implement. Either we'd have to make a heuristic that tries (and that on a significant proportion of occasions would fail) to guess when a comment is intended as a notifiable reference to one or more users, or we'd have to build in an explicit, active mentioning system that users would be required to activate on a per-comment basis if they wanted to encode mention/reference data into their comment.

The former is spotty and seems really not worth doing as a result; the latter is a bunch of work both in implementation and in user education, and implies a really, really significant shift in the site's approach to conversation and expectations about independent reading of threads. Neither seems like a good idea.

The best way to catch comments referring to you is to read the threads you've commented in. That's where 99% of such mentions will happen, and paying attention to what other people are saying in a thread where you've said something and expect other people to pay attention to that is pretty much the core of the discursive contract we've got here.

Mentions that fall outside of that mold may be benign and good-spirited but they are in fact often the opposite and we routinely remove them when we see them, e.g. one user with a grudge predicting a shitty comment by an as-yet-absent second user, or people making jokes about some third user's hangups about a given topic, etc. Obviously we do not want to build a system to make that a good way to not only passively taunt but actively notify users so mentioned.

And even the more neutral-to-good-intent stuff like "paging languagehat" is not something we want to get into, because there is no guarantee that anyone wants to be paged, or would want to be paged regularly. As 6550 noted, we've talked about it before.

Right now there is an opt-in search-for-mentions system if you want that: go to the search box up in the top right and type in your username. It's not perfect, but it will do a pretty darned good job of finding those exceptional cases where someone is mentioning you outside of the context of a thread you're already commenting in, and that should be pretty much the only case where it'd be necessary to go looking.

Gah, at least if it was Fawlty Towers reference, he would have got away with it....

Don't mention the @!
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:20 AM on December 2, 2011


Don't we do this once a month or so?

The answer has always been, and I suspect will remain "If you want to direct a comment toward an individual in a thread, it's best to find a way to do this freestyle. We are not going to implement a feature which does this for you".

There have been a lot of suggestions about how to do this in the thread.

I'd say, if you're more concerned with a conversation with a person directly than with participating in the thread as a whole, then you need to use MeMail. If you're worried that your response within a thread will be mistaken as a response to the wrong comment, you can quote the comment and write a response to that. (That's better than addressing a person, anyway, because you're then addressing the ideas expressed and not an individual within the larger conversation.)

In general, if you simply must address a person, use one of the above formats to do so, and you'll find there is no confusion about any of your communication.
posted by hippybear at 7:21 AM on December 2, 2011


"Mentions that fall outside of that mold may be benign and good-spirited but they are in fact often the opposite and we routinely remove them when we see them, e.g. one user with a grudge predicting a shitty comment by an as-yet-absent second user, or people making jokes about some third user's hangups about a given topic, etc. Obviously we do not want to build a system to make that a good way to not only passively taunt but actively notify users so mentioned. "

On second thought, maybe I shouldn't have mentioned my superpower.
posted by Blasdelb at 7:23 AM on December 2, 2011


previously
posted by desjardins at 7:23 AM on December 2, 2011


Matt, what about trailing it on the grey for mod mentioning?

We already read every single thread on the grey that has anything to do with mod stuff and most of the ones who don't.

And even the more neutral-to-good-intent stuff like "paging languagehat" is not something we want to get into

Exactly, when people do this in AskMe [the paging stuff, not the "You should talk to ColdChef" stuff] we usually axe it.People should be able to freely participate without feeling like they are beholden to the community to show up in certain threads. I usually have a mental list of who is god at this stuff and I might personally ping Mitheral or ColdChef or someone if I felt they could be helpful, but just dropping them a personal note which is how I think this should ideally work out.

And yeah people would abuse it, but I don't think that's one of the top five reasons we don't think it would be an awesome idea. Oddly there are even some people who "abuse" the Contacts feature, adding enemies as sweethearts which gets them all pissed off and complaining to us.

So this idea is a neat thing that facebook/Twitter seem to do with varying levels of success for them but I don't think it's something that would help this community do what it does any better than it does now.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:36 AM on December 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Don't mention the @!

It's not an @, it's a Siberian hamster.

posted by zamboni at 7:44 AM on December 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Having this kind of notification, to me, would fragment the whole concept of long-form discussions that make metafilter's threads so great.
posted by odinsdream at 7:45 AM on December 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


Can we have an alert message that says "This is not Twitter" that pops up if you start a message with "@"?
posted by kindall at 7:46 AM on December 2, 2011 [10 favorites]


Th@t would suck @ss.
posted by The Deej at 7:46 AM on December 2, 2011


Thatt would suck atss?
posted by gman at 7:55 AM on December 2, 2011


@gman, you're smart and witty!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:55 AM on December 2, 2011


Bl@cher is a tw@.
posted by gman at 7:56 AM on December 2, 2011


I usually have a mental list of who is god at this stuff

You promised me you wouldn't reveal my secret!
posted by OmieWise at 7:57 AM on December 2, 2011


Shit, I've said too much.
posted by OmieWise at 7:57 AM on December 2, 2011


Omiewise, can we talk?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:58 AM on December 2, 2011


adding enemies as sweethearts which gets them all pissed off and complaining to us.

This is hilarious. Both adding enemies as sweethearts and the enemies getting all upset about it. I had no idea people cared about Contacts that much. Now I'm sad that I don't have enemies so I can add them as sweethearts.
posted by nooneyouknow at 8:05 AM on December 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


Are you there Omiewise? It's me, MCMikeNamara.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 8:05 AM on December 2, 2011


You don't have to ask. I'm always here and I'm always listening. Just like ceiling cat.
posted by OmieWise at 8:13 AM on December 2, 2011


*pant* *pant* *pant* OK! *wheeze* I'm here. I made it. Now...what do you n....

OH GOD-DAMMIT! No one was really summoning me?!

Do you have ANY IDEA how long it takes me to get here from my secret mansion?!

Next time you call me out there better be a corpse. (or at least a gumbo-based query)
posted by ColdChef at 8:14 AM on December 2, 2011 [20 favorites]


Call me
posted by infini at 8:15 AM on December 2, 2011


Next time you call me out there better be a corpse. (or at least a gumbo-based query)

What if I combine the two? I'm having my sweetheart for dinner. Who is? Oh, no one you know.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:15 AM on December 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


This is hilarious. Both adding enemies as sweethearts and the enemies getting all upset about it.

It's adorable! It's like Calvin and Susie Derkins are mefites.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 8:15 AM on December 2, 2011


A spouse a day keeps the ColdChef away?
posted by infini at 8:16 AM on December 2, 2011


Next time you call me out there better be a corpse. (or at least a gumbo-based query)

Since you came all this way, do you have any gumbo z'herbes pro-tips?
posted by zamboni at 8:31 AM on December 2, 2011


Rinse your greens several times, sneak in some ham stock, and (if possible) have Dookie Chase make it for you.
posted by ColdChef at 8:34 AM on December 2, 2011


Next time you call me out there better be a corpse.

There's a corpse in the library right now!
posted by rtha at 8:35 AM on December 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


nooneyouknow: "This is hilarious. Both adding enemies as sweethearts and the enemies getting all upset about it. I had no idea people cared about Contacts that much. Now I'm sad that I don't have enemies so I can add them as sweethearts."

The (spouse) must flow.
posted by zarq at 8:40 AM on December 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


Why, yes. My knee is rigged up with a fusion-powered jerker.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:48 AM on December 2, 2011


Not in favour, I think the MeFi quote script addresses your needs.
posted by arcticseal at 8:48 AM on December 2, 2011


I was going to make this post this morning, or something like it, and opted not to.

I use favorites to remind me of conversations I was having, but that only works when you people click that little plus button for me, and sometimes you're lax in your responsibilities.

I don't know if I like the suggested solution to the conversation following problem, but there has to be a better way. I don't always have time to sit here hitting refresh, waiting for people to respond to me, and reading each response in order.
posted by Stagger Lee at 8:54 AM on December 2, 2011


OK, I got bored, and just searched for "bookmarklet," and finding none, I'll throw this out:

THERE IS ALREADY A SOLUTION. YOU NEED NO GREASED MONKEYS. BOOKMARKLETS ARE THE WAY.

I'm shouting because it seems a bit noisy, but I'll stop that now. Instead, I'll link to the unofficial Meta wiki's page on Bookmarklets, and point out that when other people use quoting bookmarklets and you use GraphFi, you already have the ability to see "replies" inline! All hail yourcelf, unless you want to avoid such silliness, then you can scoff at him and mutter under your breath.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:00 AM on December 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


OK, so there's no notification that you got a reply in a thread, but I don't think there'll ever be such a feature implemented (MetaFilter is not a social site, it's about talking with the community and not personal discussions held in public, take it to MeMail), but the GraphFi solution is an easy existing fix (which doesn't work on mobile devices, as far as I can figure).
posted by filthy light thief at 10:02 AM on December 2, 2011


I could see this feature being used to heckle people. We do not need more of that.
posted by winna at 10:32 AM on December 2, 2011


The obvious answer is to adopt UK parliamentary procedure. The first commenter in a thread is elected speaker by default, and all subsequent comments must be addressed to them, referring to the commenter you are actually replying to as 'The Honourable User From [wherever they've posted on their profile]'. Other users should them post incoherent noises expressing approval or mockery (not much change there).
I know it sounds complex, but remember it would also give us the chance to fiddle our expenses on second homes in London and duck-houses on our county estates.
posted by Abiezer at 10:36 AM on December 2, 2011 [6 favorites]


HARRUMPH HUBUB HUBUB
posted by odinsdream at 11:19 AM on December 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


HEAR HEAR
posted by Dr Dracator at 11:23 AM on December 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh, stop being so demanding. Just take what you have and bloody well like it. You know people were dying of flu not so long ago, right? Jesus, you people.
posted by Decani at 11:37 AM on December 2, 2011


While we're here, can we rename "favorites" to "like"?
posted by davejay at 1:33 PM on December 2, 2011


davejay, I'll assume you're joking but provide a serious reply. You could modify jessamyn's US English to UK/Canadian English script to change favorites to likes.

Though I would be amused if someone took the time to "skin" the site and make it look and (appear to) act more like other sites.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:12 PM on December 2, 2011


Aside from the technical aspects, and the cultural problem, enabling @ reply notification would also pour gasoline on flame wars by making people more reactive.

I would guess that only 5% of @ replies would be for nice things said, and the remaining 95% would be used in comments that were spoiling for a fight.
posted by ErikaB at 3:35 PM on December 2, 2011


I actually think @mentions (with notifications) are a very good idea, although in past I would have said not. I even implemented them at Gamefilter, though it's not busy enough there to matter, much.

I support the idea of having them here. People don't like '@' because, I guess, it's what's used by Twitter (and?), but it's become standard notation pretty much everywhere that implements the idea (you could use '+' or something, but why would you?).

I hate Twitter more than pretty much anybody, I think, but just because they implemented something a certain way doesn't automatically make it a bad idea, I don't reckon.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:19 PM on December 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Further, replying to ErikaB above: not implementing truly useful functionality because one is afraid the userbase will just use it to be assholes means there's a big problem with social interactions on your site. I don't think that's the case here.

And if it is the case, there's a much larger problem to be addressed in terms of community culture.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:21 PM on December 2, 2011


What does @username do that username doesn't, other than uglying up the joint?
posted by Sys Rq at 5:36 PM on December 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


Why isn't Mefiquote adopted by Metafilter? Most people don't know how to install a greasemonkey script, and they shouldn't have to. This community's resistance to change and improvement is ridiculous sometimes.

(There's that other script that helps you navigate through a user's posts on a thread, that's really useful too.)
posted by gertzedek at 6:23 PM on December 2, 2011


Most people don't know how to install a greasemonkey script, and they shouldn't have to.

I think some of this is just community norms type of stuff. I agree with your assessment that most people don't know how to install a Greasemonkey script, but would add that almost anyone CAN install one [it's just clicking, there's nothing complicated about the mechanisms for doing it]. However, usually the stuff that winds up with scripts written for it are features that we're not implementing for whatever reason but people can use GM to get that functionality if they really want it. Not everything that some people see as an improvement is seen as an improvement overall. We try to implement features that people are clamoring for, not just features that some people would like and others would hate. In this instance, one of the things that has always been central to MetaFilter is that everyone needs to talk to everyone. It's possible that this won't scale to the next 50,000 users and we'll have to deal with that when it comes up, but generally speaking the quote script is useful but we're hesitant to change the way people are used to communicating here without putting some serious thought into it.

We have to answer for any and all site changes on a site where people pay to be members and many have been members for over ten years. It's a large boat and it is difficult to steer and it is populated with brilliant and irritable nitpickers with strong opinions. We appreciate your patience.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:42 PM on December 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


i think jessamyn should get her star back! while i appreciate the staff tag, that star was really something.
posted by radiosilents at 6:46 PM on December 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


You know who else had a star?
posted by mlis at 7:40 PM on December 2, 2011


Sneeches!

but if you are seriously making some sort of joke because I am jewish I would like you to reconsider that.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:42 PM on December 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Jesus!
posted by nooneyouknow at 7:43 PM on December 2, 2011


I would not make such a joke! Effigy2000 was the answer.
posted by mlis at 7:44 PM on December 2, 2011


You know who else had a star?

*Nsync?
posted by Sys Rq at 9:03 PM on December 2, 2011


Stan Chin!
posted by notsnot at 9:56 PM on December 2, 2011


Is this where I note that in my "recent activity from contacts" I saw "ColdChef added The corpse in the library as a contact. 13 hours ago" and about wet myself?
posted by notsnot at 9:57 PM on December 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Deputy Dawg!
posted by arcticseal at 10:56 PM on December 2, 2011


What does @username do that username doesn't, other than uglying up the joint?

Nothing, currently. The proposal -- or at least the idea that I am talking about -- is that prefixing a username with an @ sign (@Sys Rq, for example) in a comment would shoot off a notification to you that you had been mentioned. The back end of this would be a page where received notifications would be listed with links to the comments in question, of course.

It's got little directly to do, really, with quoting people's comments when replying to them as we tend to do here, although this is where the functionality would most often be used. It needn't be, though -- @mentioning someone anywhere would send them off a quick notification. Opting out of receiving notifications would be a necessary option, of course.

In practice, on sites where I have seen this newfangled emergent semi-convention for this kind of functionality used (note that I do not actively use Twitter or Facebook), it has actually a boon to conversation and community interaction.

We could live without it, certainly, but it's a nice thing to have, and on sites that use it, I find it useful and unintrusive.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:21 PM on December 2, 2011


More generally, stavros, why not simply allow users to set watchlists for words they're interested in? Prepopulate it with their username by default, and you have something that is no more complex to implement, more powerful, and possibly easier to understand.

TBH, I'm still not convinced this would actually improve the site. If you're not engaged enough to be reading that thread already, are you really going to be engaged enough to comment insightfully once the Migs Signal goes up? It seems more likely to encourage a Vortex of Grar. (No disrespect to Miguel Cardoso himself of course.)
posted by hattifattener at 1:25 AM on December 3, 2011


The why not would, I suppose, be that a mention/notification system would be relatively easy to implement -- parse on comment save, boom you're done -- but your idea not so much, at least off the top of my head.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:04 AM on December 3, 2011


I don't know that I agree with the idea of people not reading the whole site are the people it would help. I often read every comment and still miss stuff.

I know I miss posts on the green. I read every one, every day(not the more inside necessarily)... scrolling back to the one I read last time I was logged on. And every time I do the "popular" search of the site, I see posts, not comments, that I had completely missed.


I also see people quote comments that I missed in long threads. It's easy to miss stuff here, even if you're reading every comment. Or every post.

Of course I'm open to being ignored. I didn't really have a perfectly clear vision of all the ins and outs of it. But mentions as a general hand-wavy thingo sounded pretty cool.



And thank you so much to the lovely pseudonymph....aplomb.... you're very kind. (See, I'd like to do a mention there!)
posted by taff at 4:55 AM on December 3, 2011


FWIW, a few sites I belong to have this capability and it's a pretty good one. If I don't check in for a while, when I do, I can see what I missed. Often, people will point me to something I'd otherwise overlooked, or ask my professional opinion about some deathly thing. And it's nice. I like that.

Do I think something like that could work here? Yes. Do I think that it could be abused? Yes. But I think that anything that helps conversations outweighs the bad stuff. (But then again, I'm not the kind of person who'd look to a new system and try to abuse it)

I wouldn't mind seeing the @username system here on MetaFilter. As long as there's an opt-out.
posted by ColdChef at 6:20 AM on December 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


I am SICK and tired of hanging around this place waiting for things to get more like Facebook. Repost if you agree!
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 8:04 AM on December 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


RT @Slarty_Bartfast I am SICK and tired of hanging around this place waiting for things to get more like Facebook. Repost if you agree!
posted by infini at 8:12 AM on December 3, 2011


MT @Slarty_Bartfast I am SICK and tired of hanging around this place!
posted by Horace Rumpole at 3:00 PM on December 3, 2011


MT @Slarty_Bartfast I am waiting for things to get more like Facebook.
posted by desjardins at 3:03 PM on December 3, 2011


Piss successfully taken, but point completely missed.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:03 PM on December 3, 2011


But to be honest, I'm not all that invested in the idea. I just think it's not a bad one.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:58 PM on December 3, 2011


I was talking with madamjujujive the other day, and she mentioned something that probably touches on this... that she sort of mourns the days when Metafilter seemed more intimate, and you could pretty much be aware of every post, and read every comment in posts you were interested in, but now with the much bigger threads and the overwhelming tide of comments in busy threads, that she comments less often, because it's nearly impossible to read every comment before replying, for one thing, and because she's not a rapidfire commenter.

I think some of the arguments for having some kind of mention system stem from this same dynamic, but I wish I could see how it could be implemented without The Suck. Because it would take a hot second for someone to be dragging in other users for bad porpoises. And if there were stiff penalties like time-outs, there would be dozens of angry Metatalk threads about how User A was totally innocently mentioning User B because they knew they might have some valuable input about the subject of puppy beheadings, and mods are nazis who hate free speech.

Stav, you say that not implementing truly useful functionality because one is afraid the userbase will just use it to be assholes means there's a big problem with social interactions on your site, but unfortunately, I think it's well and truly the case that the 10% can mess it up for the 90%, which doesn't mean there's a problem with the userbase at large, but a problem that is unavoidable if you choose to have a lightly moderated community. So, there are at least two critical issues: Would a mention system enable commenters to bypass the discussion to focus on repartee between a smaller group of two or more? and, would the seemingly unavoidable enforcement of honorable use fundamentally change the way Metafilter is moderated?

A third issue is a subset of both of those: Does Metafilter become an angrier place as a result of something intended as a conversational aid?

I'm really commenting more as a user now, not a dewy new moderator, and I'm asking these questions entirely sincerely, not as opposition masked as concern.
posted by taz (staff) at 10:35 PM on December 3, 2011


My concern is that you end up with a kill-file type of issue where if you're only reading the posts/comments that mention you, do you then get only one side of MeFi that slowly skews towards your point of view and those that agree with you?
posted by arcticseal at 1:34 AM on December 4, 2011


While I've read this thread, I haven't really thought at length on the @soandso thing.

But I wonder if it fits into that broad category of things that, although it's no big thing if people implement it through third-party solutions like Greasemonkey or whatever (and, although I'm no Greasemonkey expert, this seems like it would be at least possible--of course, GM is not a viable solution for all users, etc.), adding it as an actual site feature would kinda send an inaccurate message about what kind of site this is and how the powers that be would prefer to see people here interact with each other.
posted by box at 8:15 AM on December 4, 2011


Google Alerts? Just throwing it out there.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 1:11 PM on December 4, 2011


I'm not sure that the comparisons with how this works on Facebook and Twitter are all that valid - they are very different animals to MeFi. To take Facebook as an example, it's not really a community at all, but a conglomeration of thousands of communities using a common tool to connect. You can't really see, in any useful way, the content generated by users outside your own community within Facebook. By contrast, MeFi has always been a single community where everyone is connected to everyone else (kind of like if you were friends with everyone on Facebook). It seems to me that there has always been a shared understanding that some users are more engaged with the community than others and this means that those more engaged users are more likely to be known and to be 'expected' to contribute on certain topics than others. This may or may not reflect their capacity to contribute beyond the obvious, although it is likely to reflect their willingness to do so.

There are no doubt other users equally capable of contributing information about specialty areas as those that are well-known for doing so (eg ColdChef), but the fact that the 'usual suspects' are highly engaged with the community means they would be even more likely to be called on and expected to contribute if it is easier to contact them directly (this can already be done, of course, via MeMail, but it takes more work than an automated gadget). I think there's a risk of both contributing to the cult of celebrity that surrounds certain users and of making MeFi more of a chore for them than a cool place to hang out.

At the moment, members that want to be heavily engaged with the community can be (assuming they have time/access etc) and those that just want to use the site as a resource or to ask questions can do so. All this co-exists quite happily because there's enough content and enough different spaces on the site that you don't need to contribute everywhere to get what you want from the site. I too mourn the 'Golden Age of MeFi', which was not golden in terms of better content or anything but, for me, was a better place because it was small enough that it wasn't too hard to be fully engaged. It's not necessariliy a bad thing in general that that has changed, because it allows a lot more people to have a place here where they fit. My concern, though, is that the idea of 'mentions' or whatever run the risk of further fragmenting the community and there's a tipping point somewhere where it stops being a community and just becomes a different kind of Facebook where there is no single underlying community. Maybe that's inevitable as the site continues to grow and maybe it's not a bad thing anyway, but it's not what I would choose for The Future.

I agree that new features shouldn't be squashed because people might abuse them, because some people will abuse the site no matter how rich or poor the feaqture set is - that's a social problem and, just as technical solutions to social problems rarely work, technical enhancements shouldn't be denied just because they enable social problems. Despite my negative comment early on, I'm not particularly opposed to this although, as a long-term but non-celebrity member, it would no doubt shift me further away from being an active community member because I wouldn't be part of the group of people who are regularly @ed and who would inevitably form a kind of 'inner circle' of members who are treated differently to the common folk. That happens to some extent now but, because the tools aren't there to make it easy, it's self-limiting to a large extent.
posted by dg at 1:46 PM on December 4, 2011


I'm really commenting more as a user now, not a dewy new moderator, and I'm asking these questions entirely sincerely, not as opposition masked as concern.

I am hesitant to become a poster boy for a feature request I don't really care that deeply about, and I'm afraid I would become that by replying at length, and that wouldn't be much fun at all, so: maybe I'll just bow out now.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:41 PM on December 4, 2011


What Wolfdog said.
posted by 31d1 at 9:02 PM on December 6, 2011


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