I'm a fan of descriptive names, personally December 6, 2011 4:36 AM   Subscribe

Is "community weblog" still a good description of Metafilter? The word "weblog" is just a long form of "blog," according to Merriam-Webster, and all other dictionaries I checked. "Blog" has come to mean "a Web site containing the writer's or group of writers' own experiences, observations, opinions, etc., and often having images and links to other Web sites." (from here) But you don't really need a dictionary to tell you that "blogs" tend to be about people's personal opinions and experiences. So "community weblog" doesn't strike me as an apt description of a site where posts on the main page are required to be impersonal. Might it be time to change the name "community weblog" to something else?
posted by Net Prophet to MetaFilter-Related at 4:36 AM (214 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

Community Link-Garden?
posted by Potomac Avenue at 4:46 AM on December 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


I see several definitions of blog referring to regularly updated content containing links to other sites, news articles, media etc, all of which seems to fit the actual post itself in a typical Metafilter post. The experiences, observations, and opinions are supposed to come out in the comments, and they do. So I think it's still a good description, yes. The community input on posts wouldn't be as rich if the posts themselves contained those things.

And if this is about that post of yours that got deleted, I don't see why you couldn't have just said the part about how you felt about it in comments. Plenty of people do that. It seems to work fine.
posted by lwb at 4:47 AM on December 6, 2011


I like "community weblog" myself. Since the word "weblog" spawned "blog" it makes sense that older forms of blogs retain the "weblog" term. Other sites that describe themselves as community weblogs seem to function much the same way (well, except most of them seem to be sorta dead).

MetaFilter is the oldest of the community weblogs so it makes sense that it's called that.
posted by Kattullus at 4:48 AM on December 6, 2011 [7 favorites]


I like weblog, it's descriptive and sums up what we do here pretty well. Of course, we could just delete weblog and leave the Community part.
posted by arcticseal at 4:50 AM on December 6, 2011


May I refer you to the lawn you are standing on?
posted by adamvasco at 4:51 AM on December 6, 2011 [19 favorites]


Yeah, we can wrangle on definitions all day, the diversity FPP will still need editing to be a good FPP.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 4:51 AM on December 6, 2011 [8 favorites]


I disagree that the term "community weblog" is in anyway inaccurate or misleading, and I very much doubt we could do better at distilling MetaFilter's essence into a two-word phrase. Furthermore, I really don't see what problem this would solve--anyone who sees "MetaFilter: Community Weblog" and says "Nope, not for me" was probably not going to stick around long regardless.

Unless we're willing to go back to "The Plastic.com it's OK to like" in which case I'm on board.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 4:54 AM on December 6, 2011 [8 favorites]


Yeah, finding a dictionary that agrees with you isn't going to get your poorly written post back.
posted by nomisxid at 4:55 AM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Aww, are you still upset that your OWS post got deleted? If you try real hard you might come up with a way to make another MetaTalk post about it tomorrow.
posted by OmieWise at 4:55 AM on December 6, 2011 [6 favorites]


Community Link Dump
posted by Burhanistan at 4:56 AM on December 6, 2011


Yeah, to be clear we are talking about this.

All you have to do is remove: "I find myself forced to admit that this is a problem. How important a problem is it? Can I, as a white, cisgendered male even answer that question legitimately? Perhaps not, but I decided to at least read more articles about it."

Just delete that, add nothing. You will have a post with 25 favorites that does not get deleted.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 4:58 AM on December 6, 2011 [4 favorites]


FWIW it's worth, I thought your OWS post was interesting and provided some unique perspectives into the movement, but the post as it was written was hard to parse - it needed some editing, and it was too personal.

Why not go for more of a slimmed-down, factual approach tomorrow?

As for MetaFilter, it is definitely a community weblog. However, the touchy-feely stuff goes in the comments, not in the blog posts themselves. If you think about it, there's a reason why MetaFilter has outlasted most blogs out there by a long, long time.
posted by KokuRyu at 4:59 AM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


All you have to do is remove: "I find myself forced to admit that this is a problem. How important a problem is it? Can I, as a white, cisgendered male even answer that question legitimately? Perhaps not, but I decided to at least read more articles about it."

Just delete that, add nothing. You will have a post with 25 favorites that does not get deleted.


Yeah, as taz pointed out yesterday, this kid won't take yes for an answer. He got that advice yesterday, and it was like water off a duck's back. He was still upset and recalcitrant.
posted by OmieWise at 5:01 AM on December 6, 2011 [6 favorites]


Net Prophet: Might it be time to change the name "community weblog" to something else?

You're fairly new here and may not realize this, but the chances of this actually happening are somewhere between 'never gonna fuckin happen' and 'are you kidding?'.
posted by gman at 5:04 AM on December 6, 2011 [7 favorites]


Has any other site or publication besides metafilter managed to hold the line for 'weblog' as against 'blog'? I hoped the New Yorker, at least, would manage it, but no. 'Blog', that's the noise Swamp Things make in the mating season. Weblog, don't wanna give you up.
posted by jfuller at 5:06 AM on December 6, 2011 [10 favorites]


I suggest you look up the meaning of GYOFB.
posted by tommasz at 5:07 AM on December 6, 2011 [4 favorites]


Net prophet: The impersonal nature of FPP's is just a house style. We prefer FPP to present themselves objectively, and with a minimum of point of view. Then we present our points of view in the comments, rather than the fpp itself.

If you want to write a multi-paragraph essay on your feelings on OWS and racism, that's perfectly fine. But do it in the comments of the post, don't do it in the text of the post itself.
posted by empath at 5:09 AM on December 6, 2011


I'm surprised that someone who's nearly a decade older than me doesn't remember the original 'weblog,' which was generally "Here is a link I found interesting, let's discuss.'

Also, someone could literally take that post and put the last line of the front page as the first comment and it would have been acceptable (maybe not anymore after all this drama). Quite an interesting hill to make a stand on.
posted by muddgirl at 5:10 AM on December 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


the writer's or group of writers' own experiences, observations, opinions, etc., and often having images and links to other Web sites.

Honestly, the best MeFi posts still do this, you don't need an autobiography to express your viewpoints. MeFi is very much about the art of expressing yourself with links. The house style empath mentions and the lack of direct editorializing is about encouraging this particular method of expression, not demanding everyone acts like a zombie in FPP.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 5:12 AM on December 6, 2011


I'm surprised that someone who's nearly a decade older than me doesn't remember the original 'weblog,' which was generally "Here is a link I found interesting, let's discuss.'

Right, compared to memepool, metafilter is fairly verbose.
posted by empath at 5:13 AM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


The linguistic battles will be in this order: In the morning, we'll take on "weblog," then "community." Then a short break for tea. In the second session, we will take on "filter" and wrap it up with a discussion on the appropriateness of "Meta." Check-in and name tags are to your left. Cudgels are to your right. Enjoy the word-fighting, everyone!
posted by .kobayashi. at 5:16 AM on December 6, 2011 [11 favorites]


This thread is sort of based on one of Empath's comments about my deleted post. He said "Metafilter isn't your personal blog," as near as I can remember. I realized that I had been thinking of it as a community blog, and that the description didn't seem to fit.
posted by Net Prophet at 5:17 AM on December 6, 2011


We don't own the FPPs we post. That's why we try to keep things impersonal above the fold and keep opinions in the comments; to encourage others to participate in the discussion.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 5:18 AM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Net Prophet: "But you don't really need a dictionary to tell you that "blogs" tend to be about people's personal opinions and experiences."

"Tend to"

Phew, we're in the clear.
posted by Plutor at 5:18 AM on December 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


"everyone else has changed the definition of this word, so we better too" is a very strange mix of descriptivism and prescriptivism.

Either we can use the word how we want OR we should use it how it was originally used. Either way, MeFi is doing it right.
posted by DU at 5:20 AM on December 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Couldn't you just... get... your... own... blog? MetaFilter is a great site. It's well-moderated. Discussions are, compared to anywhere else on the internet, polite and friendly. The community knows what it likes and what it does not like. Why are you banging your head against the wall here?
posted by KokuRyu at 5:21 AM on December 6, 2011


crowd-sourced fascism?
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 5:24 AM on December 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Net Prophet, just repost your post already, pointing to what you want us to read without making your own feelings front and center (as everyone's mentioned, that's what the comments are for).

Posting this instead is absurd.
posted by mediareport at 5:24 AM on December 6, 2011


Really? If your argument consists primarily of, "Webster's defines X as Y", it's a sure sign that it's too weak to argue anywhere past 4th grade.
posted by mkultra at 5:26 AM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


I always live my life and use all my words exactly as Webster says.
posted by The Deej at 5:26 AM on December 6, 2011


The Deej: I always live my life and use all my words exactly as Webster says.

Emmanuel Lewis was a genius.
posted by gman at 5:30 AM on December 6, 2011 [11 favorites]


The Holy Roman Empire was neither holy nor Roman. Discuss.
posted by Panjandrum at 5:30 AM on December 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


So "community weblog" doesn't strike me as an apt description of a site where posts on the main page are required to be impersonal.

Oh come off it. You're so hurt that your OWS post was deleted, you decided to start a new metatalk post and try to mask it as "objective?" That's pretty uptight and passive aggressive of you.

Listen, anything that anyone posts on the front page is "personal." It can never be impersonal because an individual found it interesting enough to share. You express yourself through links, don't use the "I" statement too much, and then (this might shock you) if you must post your own thoughts, you post it as the first comment in the thread. This really isn't hard to do and doesn't require you to whine, piss, and moan about your post being deleted and trying to mask it in grand, all-encompassing, language.

You're starting to act as if your deleted post and your need to self-disclose your opinion using I statements is the hill you want to die on. And if that's true, have fun but don't think there aren't others that are going to rag you as long as you keep this up.
posted by Stynxno at 5:33 AM on December 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


Emmanuel Lewis was a genius.

Which is why I always eat at Burger King.
posted by The Deej at 5:34 AM on December 6, 2011


Might it be time to change the name "community weblog" to something else? --- What did you have in mind that we should change it to? What would be more descriptive to you?
posted by crunchland at 5:34 AM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


An Apple device is not remotely edible, and contains no seeds (although it does have a kernel).
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 5:34 AM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


He said "Metafilter isn't your personal blog," as near as I can remember. I realized that I had been thinking of it as a community blog, and that the description didn't seem to fit.

To me, A personal blog and a community blog are different.

A post to a community blog posts a bunch of links to stuff and basically (but not literally) asks: "What do y'all think?"

A personal blog says: "Here are a bunch of links to stuff, and this is what I think about them."

It's a subtle difference, but an important one.
posted by empath at 5:35 AM on December 6, 2011


I also think "community weblog" is a poor description for MetaFilter.

It should be retitled: "Bonaduce Cum Witherer: A Love Congealed, Volume XIII".

So vote #1 quidnunc kid.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 5:35 AM on December 6, 2011 [8 favorites]


These are also good names too:

MetaFilter: Slappy Blancmange, MBE
MetaFilter: Christ's Afternoon Kidney
MetaFilter: Hopeless Testicle Hour
MetaFilter: Plop Chance
MetaFilter: Sibling Jiggle Contest
posted by the quidnunc kid at 5:41 AM on December 6, 2011 [6 favorites]


But you don't really need a dictionary to tell you that "blogs" tend to be about people's personal opinions and experiences.

When I am spoken to like this it makes me want to go "Bzzzzthhhthpthhhhthththpptttth."
posted by mintcake! at 5:43 AM on December 6, 2011


Metafilter: the Blogopalypse
posted by Think_Long at 5:49 AM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


(net prophet is blind, by the way, please don't type stuff in this thread that a screen reader is going to have to spell out one letter at a time)
posted by empath at 5:49 AM on December 6, 2011


MetaFilter: Rigid Flap-Sausage
MetaFilter: Please Poultice Me
MetaFilter: Twitty O'Gangrenous and His Dissolving Leg
MetaFilter: Gunge Hump Vocation
MetaFilter: Pulsating Falafal Injector
posted by the quidnunc kid at 5:52 AM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Actually the original Anglo-Saxon blauge, first attested in the 12th century, referred to a form of trial by combat.
posted by XMLicious at 5:52 AM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hey, Net Prophet, it looks like you probably haven't had a lot of experience with Metatalk since it looks like your first comments were from yesterday, so let me tell you that it can be pretty rough and tumble here, since it's the place where we both hash out ideas and problems with the site, and also address things that are upsetting people, so it can be sort of fast and furious – and often harsh about suggestions or complaints. It's not personal, and most everyone here has taken their lumps in Metatalk and lived to post again.

This is definitely the spot to get insight from the people who use the site most intensively and care about how it works though, so you can learn a lot here.

As far as your idea about changing the name, that's not on the table. Dictionary definitions appear after something becomes enough of a "thing" to require a definition; Metafilter was Metafilter, and a community weblog, before dictionaries included the word "blog."
posted by taz (staff) at 5:52 AM on December 6, 2011 [10 favorites]


If its weblog, its Ajax.... taxonomy can be such a crowdsourced pain
posted by infini at 5:54 AM on December 6, 2011


and lived to post again

Actually you guys can't tell from all your continents, but I've been a typing zombie since my first MeTa
posted by infini at 5:56 AM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Net Prophet, one of the major reasons that personal statements of the poster are not allowed on Front Page Posts is that it doesn't scale to community of 50,000 or so. Having even 5% of that number injecting their personal opinions would turn the posts into being about them than about the actual information and links.

For instance, in your deleted post, you mention that you're a CIS gendered male. That statement caries a lot of baggage with it, baggage that could could derail the posts into what being a CIS gendered male is, or what it means, as opposed to racism in OWS.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:59 AM on December 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


The Holy Roman Empire was neither holy nor Roman. Discuss.

One might argue that it was also hardly an empire.
posted by daniel_charms at 6:02 AM on December 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


Metafilter: a tepid wonderblog
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:03 AM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Crunchland: "What did you have in mind that we should change it to? What would be more descriptive to you?"

Thanks. :)

What about
Metafilter | The Website about Other Websites
Metafilter | community link recommendations

Those seem more descriptive to me, but I'm not a regular here.
posted by Net Prophet at 6:05 AM on December 6, 2011


In a word, no.
posted by daniel_charms at 6:07 AM on December 6, 2011


Metafilter: Like Swamp Thing Mating Season
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 6:07 AM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


(They're not funny, they're not poetic, they're awkward and they suck)
posted by daniel_charms at 6:09 AM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


The title in the banner of Ask Metafilter is "querying the hive mind" which I love, but the title in the HTML is "Community Weblog" which is clearly isn't. I find this disturbing. MetaTalk also has the same issue, but "feature requests, bugs, etc" isn't exciting so I don't care.
posted by Lame_username at 6:11 AM on December 6, 2011


I suppose the next thing you know we'll be having debates on whether everyone needs a hug or simply wants it....
posted by infini at 6:15 AM on December 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


MeTa's tagline should be changed to "Aaargh!" I think it sums everything - feature requests, bugs, why was my post deleted etc. - up quite nicely.
posted by daniel_charms at 6:15 AM on December 6, 2011 [7 favorites]


Community, we blog!
posted by malocchio at 6:18 AM on December 6, 2011 [5 favorites]


Personally I think Community Link Farm has a nice ring to it.

We can call MetaTalk the Agrargator.
posted by nangar at 6:19 AM on December 6, 2011 [5 favorites]


Emmanuel Lewis was a genius.

For a little guy, he was big in Japan. (Cf. Michael Jackson dances with Emmanuel Lewis.)
posted by octobersurprise at 6:19 AM on December 6, 2011


MetaFilter: everybody needs hugging whether they want it or not,
posted by nangar at 6:20 AM on December 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


MetaFilter: A weblog where various people can post links which are lightly moderated to help prevent a Lord of the Flies type situations.

Hmmm, needs work. We'll pass it on to Marketing, so they can focus on our key points.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:29 AM on December 6, 2011 [4 favorites]


We can punch it up a little: MetaFilter: People. Links. Situations.

Then again, does it need punching up? Can I, as a white, cisgendered male even answer that question legitimately?
posted by box at 6:32 AM on December 6, 2011 [11 favorites]


Just got this back from marketing, what do you think?

METAFILTER (Bold and all caps makes it stand out more)
THE community weblog of the old and young, bringing you fascinating and insightful links to enrich your web experience.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:32 AM on December 6, 2011 [4 favorites]


Matt's House of Whoopass
posted by bondcliff at 6:32 AM on December 6, 2011 [7 favorites]


If someone could make a fake anagram site that takes whatever word you put in, totally ignores it, and generates things like "Rigid Flap-Sausage", "Please Poultice Me", "Twitty O'Gangrenous and His Dissolving Leg", "Gunge Hump Vocation", and "Pulsating Falafal Injector", I would be much obliged.

Also, Google's second autocomplete suggestion for "anagram" is "nag a ram". Accident or Easter egg?
posted by Honorable John at 6:35 AM on December 6, 2011 [4 favorites]


Hold on, one of production interns had good idea:

Metafilter
Straight Up Links Motherfucker

I like it, edgy, in your face and is keeping it real!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:35 AM on December 6, 2011 [11 favorites]


Where's the drop shadow?
posted by infini at 6:35 AM on December 6, 2011


Also, Google's second autocomplete suggestion for "anagram" is "nag a ram". Accident or Easter egg?

Isn't one of their earliest investors named Ram Shriram?
posted by infini at 6:36 AM on December 6, 2011


MetaFilter
Community bitching
posted by shakespeherian at 6:40 AM on December 6, 2011


Brandon, I like where you're going here, but I think Metafiltr would position us more aggressively in the bleeding-edge namespace.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 6:42 AM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


If by "bleeding edge" you mean 2004.
posted by Plutor at 6:44 AM on December 6, 2011


I guess what it boils down to in my mind is that it doesn't really matter what we label the site. It is what it is. We could just as easily remove the "community weblog" altogether, and it wouldn't change at all. In the end though, it really is up to Matt.
posted by crunchland at 6:44 AM on December 6, 2011


shakespeherian:
MetaFilter
Community bitching


I'd change it around a little - Bitchin' Community. That way it can be used on Metafilter or MetaTalk and it can have either a positive meaning or a negative one.
posted by gman at 6:45 AM on December 6, 2011 [6 favorites]


iFilter.
posted by The Deej at 6:45 AM on December 6, 2011


MetaFilter: Bored at work and itching for a fight.
posted by griphus at 6:47 AM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: Accident or Easter egg?
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 6:50 AM on December 6, 2011


"Matt's House of Pancakes" has an authentic, down-home feel.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:50 AM on December 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


Metafilter: making the status quo bearable :P
posted by Net Prophet at 6:54 AM on December 6, 2011


Bear your own status quo or something.
posted by Burhanistan at 6:55 AM on December 6, 2011


Metafilter: :P
posted by Think_Long at 6:57 AM on December 6, 2011


"'everyone else has changed the definition of this word, so we better too' is a very strange mix of descriptivism and prescriptivism."

That's really just descriptivism. Er, well, the statement as reference is descriptivism. That is to say, that's how language actually works. Language usage changes and while some people lead the change, others follow it because...that's how one communicates. Insisting on an archaic usage just because one (as a person or as an institution) predates those changes will, at some point, become an affectation and at a further point become merely confusing to others. (For an example of antiquated and therefore affected usage, see the New Yorker.)

That said, I don't agree with the premise that either weblog or blog, in the context of community weblog, has the unambiguous meaning of "a writer's personal opinions". Even blogs run by individuals are far from universally personal journals or forums for personal opinions.

MetaFilter's self-identification as a "community weblog" does not, in fact, actually confuse very many people excepting perhaps those individuals whose experience of blogs has previously been exclusively of the livejournal variety. But community blogs are much, much more diverse in style.

And, in any case, that this is a community will, by the very nature of community, be far more important than how well it is or is not describes by "weblog". That is to say, communities have conventions. And one of this community's conventions, among many, is that there is as little overt editorializing and personalizing of MetaFilter posts as possible. There is, of course, quite a bit of covert, implicit editorializing and personalizing of MetaFilter posts. That may seem inconsistent to some, but it's only inconsistent if one denies that there are important differences between what is overt and what is covert, especially functionally.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 6:58 AM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: Community Plochops
posted by zarq at 7:00 AM on December 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


The Deej: "iFilter."

Not with this color scheme.
posted by zarq at 7:02 AM on December 6, 2011


Axes be grinding.
posted by cjorgensen at 7:02 AM on December 6, 2011


Implicit in this discussion is the idea that personal blogs automatically involve editorializing. Frankly, if more personal blogs just presented the information/links and refrained from the editorializing -- ie, if they were more in line with the Metafilter idea of blog -- they'd be much better.
posted by Frobenius Twist at 7:04 AM on December 6, 2011


Can we make the logo bigger?
posted by jenkinsEar at 7:07 AM on December 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


"Metafilter: Community Plochops"

That's an old in-joke. Nice to see those being kept alive.

Except that at some point they approach being archaic and therefore affectations and, eventually, merely confusing. D'oh. Hoisted by my own petard. D'oh! Oh, wait...Shakespeare never becomes archaic. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. So is Oolong. By the way, I only recently first came across herp derp and I so dearly hope that is a u. n. owen derivative.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 7:10 AM on December 6, 2011


Ivan Fyodorovich: "Except that at some point they approach being archaic and therefore affectations and, eventually, merely confusing. "

Yeah, yeah. :)
posted by zarq at 7:13 AM on December 6, 2011


Metafilter | The Website That Sighs about Sights, Cites, and Slights on Other Websites, Alright?
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:13 AM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Head:Desk

repeat
posted by edgeways at 7:18 AM on December 6, 2011


Metafilter: the erect nipple of the internet

I really don't know where that came from
posted by unSane at 7:19 AM on December 6, 2011


The community web log part of the site happens on the front page, which is a log of sites the the community finds interesting and worth discussion. The blog part happens in the comments section. The rule has always been to keep personal opinions off the front page. If you have personal opinions about the site or subject you are posting you are more than welcome to express them in the comments section. A pretty simple rule of thumb actually.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 7:19 AM on December 6, 2011


What taz and other folks said already; we're not changing the long-time self-descriptive motto of the site to avoid potential confusion by folks who expect a community blog to be a multi-user version of whatever they assume a blog to be. Someone whose attempt to figure this place out starts and stops at reading the header graphic in the top left corner is not really who we're aiming to get engaged with this place.

Net Prophet, getting used to the house style (such as it is, which is more proscriptive than prescriptive since there's a really, really wide variety of posting styles that are fine here so long as you avoid a couple big non-starters like personalized/bloggy/editorialized framing or self-linking) is a process everyone goes through and it's fine if it's something that takes a little time and a couple false starts to figure out.

Several of us mods have said a number of times now that your post is at its core totally fine and with a little bit of editing to remove the first-person perspective stuff would be totally not a be problem at all. If adopting that impersonal framing is a real deal-breaker for you, I respect that and maybe posting to the front page is just not for you. It's not a compulsory part of being a member of this community.

Hoisted by my own petard.

Hoist, Ivan. The infinitive form is "to hoise".
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:21 AM on December 6, 2011


Metafilter: the erect nipple of the internet

So when matthowie tells pb to tweak something in the code, he means . . . ?
posted by Think_Long at 7:24 AM on December 6, 2011


Maybe we should just call it Metafilter CW.
posted by AkzidenzGrotesk at 7:29 AM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: The Notorious We Blo G
posted by argonauta at 7:31 AM on December 6, 2011


Think_Long: " So when matthowie tells pb to tweak something in the code, he means . . . ?"

Enjoy yourself.
posted by zarq at 7:34 AM on December 6, 2011


Several of us mods have said a number of times now that your post is at its core totally fine and with a little bit of editing to remove the first-person perspective stuff would be totally not a be problem at all.

We've all said this, as have dozens of community members. The community aspect of the weblog is what determines the weblog aspect of it. The site was started in 1999 so that mathowie and his friends could have a place to share links together. When everyone knew each other, it was a lot more chatty and informal. As the place became populated by not just friends-of-mathowie but also friends of friends [that's how I got here] and friends of friends of friends and etc, the place became less formal because it became more important to gear posts towards a general audience.

Lots of blogs, blogs that are considered sort of the Platonic ideal of blogs, have more or less formal/familiar methods of framing posts from single sentences with links to long rambling essays. You have gotten personal feedback from us over MeMail and you have gotten feedback from us and the community in the other open thread on this topic. I get that it stings to have a post removed, twice. However, your ability to somewhat roll with the fact that you are one person among 10,000 or so who may be posting/commenting in a given month is going to be a large part of your final level of satisfaction with the place.

If you don't want to talk about this all in public, you are welcome to email us, but we're getting the feeling that you want MetaFilter to be something that it isn't based on a dictionary definition of a word as opposed to twelve years of evolving practice and that's just not going to happen.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:38 AM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Criminy—I'm being trolled by cortex. It feels tingly, with a scent of almonds, and just slightly yet quite disturbingly erotic.

Either that or I'm suffering from cyanide poisoning. How can I tell? Should I go to the hospital? If I don't die and it's just cortex, I'll feel foolish and end up with a steep bill.

But what if it's cortex who is poisoning me with cyanide?? That would explain everything.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 7:40 AM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think of MetaFilter as kind of a community crowd-sourced interactive magazine, but that's a mouthful. I'm OK with "community weblog" and like that it's archaic now. We're like the Stonehenge of the internet.
posted by Miko at 7:41 AM on December 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


Do you use the term "hacker" to mean someone who illegally breaks into machines?
posted by Obscure Reference at 7:44 AM on December 6, 2011


Wow, a Marvel 2099 reference.
posted by Eideteker at 7:44 AM on December 6, 2011


I remember Lance Arthur (MeFi's own), back about ten years ago now, explaining the difference between a personal website like glassdog and a weblog like MetaFilter.

The difference, he explained, was that a weblog was about links. "Here's something cool I found on the web." A personal website was about the author. It might contain links, but it was about self-expression. (Of course, a collection of curated links is also a form of self-expression, but it's not about the curator except very indirectly.)

I remember thinking at the time that "personal website" was too unweildy and that "blog" would eventually come to contain both meanings.

That was the first time I ever heard of MetaFilter.

This is the place where we woolgather about the salad days of http, right?
posted by gauche at 7:45 AM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


MetaFilter is a moderated discussion board, not a community weblog. It stopped being a community weblog when the 3rd or 4th moderator was hired. It's a damned fine moderated discussion board, sure, one of the best, if not the best, on the web. But it's not a "community weblog" anymore.
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:48 AM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Y'all be careful! Much more of this navel gazing and you're in danger of falling right in that belly button like a snake eating its tail.

I have no idea what that means
posted by tomswift at 7:53 AM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Cortex: "Several of us mods have said a number of times now that your post is at its core totally fine and with a little bit of editing to remove the first-person perspective stuff would be totally not a be problem at all."

Yes. I did get that.

"If adopting that impersonal framing is a real deal-breaker for you, I respect that and maybe posting to the front page is just not for you."

About certain topics, I think that's true. If someone else wants to make a post out of the material I put together here, or here, they're welcome to it.

I would change "weblog" to something else, but obviously ymmv.
posted by Net Prophet at 7:54 AM on December 6, 2011


octobersurprise: "For a little guy, he was big in Japan"

Big In Japan.

posted by Chrysostom at 7:55 AM on December 6, 2011


Frankly, if more personal blogs just presented the information/links and refrained from the editorializing...they'd be much better. --- I wish someone would tell Matt Drudge this. On the other hand, for the most part, he does just present the links, but the links he chooses to present are totally slanted to his own agenda.
posted by crunchland at 8:01 AM on December 6, 2011


"This is the place where we woolgather about the salad days of http, right?"

I sure remember back when we had to use LACP (lettuce and carrot protocol) as a wrapper around all stateful web sessions. It was a huge hassle, everything got soggy and getting the vegetables through customs was always a nightmare.

But building web apps meant something then, we had to keep content from going stale by hand, and it was no picnic, that's for sure. More like an ongoing brunch, really. With all-too-often wilted greens because, frankly, we had an immature toolset with no bug control from vendors who spent all their dotcom venture capital on sprouts and cocaine and so their lettuce-control was shit.

But we did provide a web-mediated light-snack to your door, and we did it via old-fashioned hard-work and lots of ICE (ICE Content Engine).
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 8:04 AM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


I wish someone would tell Matt Drudge this. On the other hand, for the most part, he does just present the links, but the links he chooses to present are totally slanted to his own agenda.

The link text is also pretty editorial. There'll be a great big 'PELOSI TO OBAMA: BACK OFF!' headline and when you click it it's some tepid story about senatorial blah blah and at one point three-quarters of the way down the article there's a phone call from some low-level admin at the White House offering to pay for pizza and Nancy Pelosi says into the phone 'Nah, I'll cover it.'
posted by shakespeherian at 8:06 AM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


ahhh, DOS 1.0 and EOF
posted by infini at 8:08 AM on December 6, 2011


A weblog by any other name would still needs as many hugs.
posted by Apoch at 8:13 AM on December 6, 2011


It stopped being a community weblog when the 3rd or 4th moderator was hired

Depending on how you count, that was either in 2006 or in the middle of this year. The moderation level really hasn't changed much--though people's perception of it definitely has--it's just become more round the clock so it's more consistent around the globe. And in the same time the active population of the site has increased maybe tenfold? It's difficult to play comparative blog stats since our old timey nature means we have a very different structure than many other sites who either have all-volunteer moderators or faceless paid moderator employees who are not community members. I can't think of many other sites of this size who let any member post to the front page without upvoting or a moderation queue.

I know it's reductive to say that the blog format is one of the things that makes this a blog, but the weird little moment in time when MeFi first started being a place to go was a very blog-heavy time. If you wanted to discuss current events or something cool you found, you literally couldn't leave comments on those sites, they didn't have comment functionality yet. So MeFi sort of started out as a place to comment on and discuss the things you couldn't comment on elsewhere. I'd sort of be curious what the ratio is of "uncommentable" content on the front page ten years ago, and now. That is, how many things are being linked to that don't have their own comments sections. Anyone who wants to go data trawling, I'd be interested in that.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:25 AM on December 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


bah. forget changing the description. change the NAME. i mean, Meta Filter? so we filter filters?

it should be called, it should always have been called, FetaMelter. a site that melts fine greek cheese.

and then, and only then, can we maybe talk about changing the description. how about

FetaMelter: The Cheese Stands Alone

or

FetaMelter: Look at How Skinny You Are, Eat, Eat! also you need a hug.
posted by fetamelter at 8:29 AM on December 6, 2011 [4 favorites]


Those seem more descriptive to me, but I'm not a regular here.

Then perhaps you should spend more time here before you make sweeping suggestions for change for a site that has had many of the same users for more than a decade?
posted by winna at 8:30 AM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


If someone else wants to make a post out of the material I put together here, or here, they're welcome to it.

Is there a reason YOU don't want to do so?....
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:31 AM on December 6, 2011


MeatFiller - the plastic corn its ok to bite
posted by yellowbinder at 8:32 AM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


We should just name it MetalFilter and only have posts about heavy metal. That should clear up any confusion there might ever be about the name.
posted by daniel_charms at 8:33 AM on December 6, 2011


Brandon Blatcher: For instance, in your deleted post, you mention that you're a CIS gendered male. That statement caries a lot of baggage with it, baggage that could could derail the posts into what being a CIS gendered male is, or what it means, as opposed to racism in OWS.

What? Seriously, calling yourself cisgendered (lowercase - it's no acronym) carries baggage with it now? Would (theoretically) indicating you were straight in the same context be problematic, too? I really don't understand, especially given how the FPP seemed to be concerned with sexism (and had at least one reference to cissexism) as well...
posted by Dysk at 8:34 AM on December 6, 2011


Dictionary definitions appear after something becomes enough of a "thing" to require a definition; Metafilter was Metafilter, and a community weblog, before dictionaries included the word "blog."

I view this as being similar to how "begging the question" is often used. Just because most people do it a certain way now does not mean there wasn't a better way once. And it doesn't mean that I won't be slightly irritated about it until my dying breath, although some would argue (probably legitimately) that words change meaning based on social context and usage. Sometimes you need to hold on to the knowledge that is in the deep recesses of your heart based on what you know is in the public record as being first to the table and say "screw you" to the world, although the world isn't listening any more and keeps going on the path of total destruction until all is burnt to a black husk, a smoldering reminder of the grammatically better utopia that it used to be.
posted by SpacemanStix at 8:39 AM on December 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


The moderation level really hasn't changed much -- I think this is probably false. Since 2006, there have been shifts in what was allowed to fly and what now isn't, especially in the area of comments. I'm specifically thinking about the tolerance for what we've come to call "thread shitting." There has been an obvious and distinct uptick in deletion of negative comments being deleted now compared to then. I also think that when Matt was running the site alone, he was much more tolerant than what the site has now become, and I don't think that it was due to him being over-worked. I'm not suggesting that the changes in moderation have been bad for the site --- probably quite the opposite --- but I don't think you can honestly claim that the site is the same as it ever was.
posted by crunchland at 8:41 AM on December 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


MeatFiller - the plastic corn its ok to bite

"Teddy, would you like some corn?"
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 8:43 AM on December 6, 2011


I view this as being similar to how "begging the question" is often used.

So, like "blogging the question," then?
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:49 AM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Seriously, calling yourself cisgendered (lowercase - it's no acronym) carries baggage with it now?

Using the term cisgendered is a sign that the person who is talking is coming from a particular background. This point itself is pretty value neutral, but there are places where this word is a common one and places where it's less common. It's been clear, in discussions here on MeFi, that the word isn't a common one here. As a result people have to sort of learn as they go. Some people are up for this, others aren't. If you're coming from a place where a word like cisgendered is the norm, having to have the "this is what it means, this is why I'm using it, this is why it's important" may be frustrating or irritating to them and frustrating or irritating to others. Indicating that you're straight would still be pretty weird in a post, but I think it would be understood by more people off the bat. This is just me being descriptive of how I've seen these discussions go here; I understand the need and desire for people to be the change they want to see in the world so this is not me prescribing anything, but yeah, the word cisgendered carries baggage in this community.

The moderation level really hasn't changed much -- I think this is probably false.

I may be coming from a more AskMe-centered perspective where I'm certain this is true, but we can run the numbers on the rest of the site. I think the absolute number of deletions has gone up, but so has traffic on the site so I don't think the percentage has increased by much at all.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:49 AM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


so long as you avoid a couple big non-starters like personalized/bloggy/editorialized framing

And even this has some flexibility to it, as it's unlikely that a post that's all "Awesome video with kittens! I loved it and so will you (unless you have no heart)" will get flagged to death, unless the video is terrible. Same with stuff like other lightweight topics like flash games. But for newsy/current events/hot topic items, it's safest to save your personal thoughts on the subject for the comments, and even then, maybe save them until a few people who are not you have commented.
posted by rtha at 8:50 AM on December 6, 2011


Imho, the shift from the read only web to the read write web, at least perceptually to an end user type like myself, occurred in late 2005 when blogs finally went MSM. There actually used be an entire blog called Blogspotting on BusinessWeek (the original BusinessWeek, for you young'uns - where they debated whether they should add blogs or not back then.

One day, one of the many other erstwhile and readily recognized members of the BusinessWeek stable who were all starting their own blogs actually sent yours truly an email asking for advice on how to blog. The recipient fainted. They'd only been blogging for some 6 months at that point. On coming to, they went off into pealing trills of laughter. After which they lit a fat one and sat down to advise the gurus.

7 years later, the rewrite web seems to have lost its comment features again.
posted by infini at 8:54 AM on December 6, 2011


I don't think the percentage has increased by much at all. --- So you're saying that there wasn't a point where you guys all decided to start cracking down on negative comments, especially those posted early in a thread, in an effort to save the tone of subsequent comments?
posted by crunchland at 8:59 AM on December 6, 2011


The phrase "community weblog" makes me think of a group livejournal. I would describe MeFi as a link aggregator.
posted by Pyry at 9:04 AM on December 6, 2011


Metafilter is a blog.

In fact, Metafilter is one of the first blogs I ever read. Metafilter was influential in defining my concept of what a blog is. I can't think of many websites that are more quintessentially bloggy than Metafilter.

"Blog" is a very broad term. It does not refer to number of authors or type of content. It refers to a website with content organized in an ongoing, reverse-chronological format. (And yes, this means your Facebook wall and Twitter pages are blogs.)

Many blogs aren't opinionated or personal. And Metafilter is not without a point of view; there is a clearly left-leaning perspective overall, and there are many topics that can be expected to elicit certain kinds of comments. I'm not just talking about politically charged posts; for instance, if a post is about philosophy, I expect to see comments expressing certain philosophical doctrines rather than others.

Metafilter is a website with reverse-chronologically ordered content. It's regularly updated with a variety of interesting links and commentary. It's a blog.
posted by John Cohen at 9:13 AM on December 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


(Hey. On re-reading my last comment, I'm regretting the argumentative tone of it. I don't really mean to be arguing about this.)
posted by crunchland at 9:16 AM on December 6, 2011


Please put "more addictive than crack" back as the tagline.
posted by telstar at 9:22 AM on December 6, 2011 [4 favorites]


Metafilter: more addictive than Metafilter
posted by daniel_charms at 9:30 AM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: Metafilter: more addictive than Metafilter
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:35 AM on December 6, 2011


Net Prophet (assuming you're still paying attention), I must say I laughed out loud when I saw that you're from Toronto.

INSERT CLICHED VANCOUVER BASED GRIEVANCE ABOUT PEOPLE FROM TORONTO:

What the f*** is it with people from Toronto? They roll into town and they immediately start telling you everything you're doing wrong. Even when they're right, it's f***ing annoying. Hey, Toronto! Fix your f***ing hockey team, and all those expressways and shit you put between the population and the lakefront -- get f***ing rid of it. And that stupid tower -- we're all kind of embarrassed for you about that. Didn't your girlfriend ever tell you? Width is more important than length.

But seriously. I love Torontonians. Some of my best friends are Torontonians. I was born in Toronto (like at least half of Canada).
posted by philip-random at 9:36 AM on December 6, 2011


So you're [NOT TORONTO-IST]?
posted by daniel_charms at 9:39 AM on December 6, 2011


On behalf of other Torontonians, I apologise.
posted by modernnomad at 9:43 AM on December 6, 2011


jessamyn: Using the term cisgendered is a sign that the person who is talking is coming from a particular background. This point itself is pretty value neutral, but there are places where this word is a common one and places where it's less common. It's been clear, in discussions here on MeFi, that the word isn't a common one here.

Given the content of the FPP at least touched upon trans issues, it does seem the most succinct way to claim 'not trans'. He even linked a definition. (I do agree that personal statements of the sort we're discussing would've been more at home in a comment rather than the FPP itself.) Is there some less 'loaded' term one could use? I haven't come across any...
posted by Dysk at 9:47 AM on December 6, 2011


So you're saying that there wasn't a point where you guys all decided to start cracking down on negative comments, especially those posted early in a thread, in an effort to save the tone of subsequent comments?

It's something we've made an increasing effort to deal with promptly over the last few years, yeah, but I feel like that's not so much a fundamental change in moderation of the site so much as better resource availability for tackling what has always been a problem and what used to be more of a binary: leave an early derail in place when Matt finally saw it or do serious pruning after the fact. With more than one or two sets of eyes on the site we can try to head it off early a lot more regularly, so the reaction time is way down and a little pruning early on is a workable alternative to a lot of pruning later.

I guess I see it as a pretty narrow use case: the proportion of site activity that falls into the bucket of early threadshitting is a very small one. It's just that it's a small fraction with a disproportionally large influence over how threads go, so it's gotten more attention as we've had the ability to actually give it that attention.

Like Jess said, I think this is probably expressible in terms of the overall growth of the userbase and with the pace of the average thread—bad derails can get more momentum faster these days than back in 2003, say. So in terms of letting people just get on with the business of discussing stuff in threads, throwing more resources (now that we have those resources) at trying to keep threads from immediately derailing feels like a good way to make constant mid-thread moderation less of a thing and so moderation less visible than it would be otherwise with derails festering and people getting angry about it in-thread and in metatalk.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:50 AM on December 6, 2011


My favorite term to describe it is a "surf club".

(I'd link to the semi-scholarly article where I first came across the term, by my google-fu isn't good enough to clear all the photos of guys with long boards from my search results.)
posted by benito.strauss at 10:05 AM on December 6, 2011


Is there some less 'loaded' term one could use? I haven't come across any...

If you're talking to a generalist community, then "not trans" is the most succinct way to state this without creating a predictable "I'd like to talk about your word choice" derail. Again, I understand that for people who frequently move in these circles where this distinction is useful and important, cisgendered is the accurate and proper word. However if you're making a post to MetaFilter where you feel that mentioning your non-trans-ness is relavant, you probably need to spell it out. This isn't a community that does a lot of discussion of trans issues and not everyone is up on the nomenclature.

So if the point is to communicate something to people here and not engage in language-activism [which, again, has its time and place and if that's what you want to do, that's fine you just need to take responsibility for how that works out here] it's probably best to use more generalist language even if that comes at the expense of not being succinct. We say the same thing to people who are using terms of art within their scientific, technical or literature communities as well. It's important to understand what words are normalized here and what words will seem unusual so that you can best communicate with the community with both the meaning and the intent of your language.

Word choice matters and how you decide to describe someone or something will be noticeable to people and possibly to the point of obscuring your message. So I think of examples like

- peace officer/police officer/policeman/cop/pig
- he/she/(s)he/hir/their
- female/lady/woman/womyn/gal

Where some choices will seem more mainstream [or "unmarked" if you use that term] and others will seem jarring to people. In this community, a very verbal word-based bunch of folks, they might call that out. You can decide that conversation is one that you want to have, but if it's not one that you want to have, you should work towards clarity with this audience. I know it's really challenging for many people to understand how their words will be taken by people who are not them, but it's one of the most important parts to having the experience on MeFi that you want to have, and not feel that this place is a vast unknowable "here there be tygers" sort of web location.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:08 AM on December 6, 2011 [5 favorites]


Thanks jessamyn, for taking the time to explain all of that.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:15 AM on December 6, 2011


And all of that is somewhat secondary to the question of whether to even introduce that angle into a post's text in the first place, which is the more general framing issue we were dealing with here. Much of the time the simplest choice for avoiding tangling with all of the above is to just set aside your personal context for the sake of the post you're making—whether to describe yourself as cisgender vs. "not trans" is a question that only follows from the decision to make your self-description part of a post ostensibly not about you in the first place.

So basically any choice can carry baggage with it by its presence in a post external to the question of what specific baggage one choice of words or another might have in the context of a discussion about that stuff. While "Here's my cisgender view on this essay" and "Here's my take on this essay as a non-trans person" may have different readings that each work better or worse in one context or another, "Here's an essay worth reading" has a very different reading from either and is a lot more of a fit for a post.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:20 AM on December 6, 2011


It's just that it's a small fraction with a disproportionally large influence over how threads go, so it's gotten more attention as we've had the ability to actually give it that attention. -- Well, if people see more comments and threads disappear, for whatever the reason, and since there are now more people to make judgement calls about whether something stays or goes, then level of moderation on the site has noticeably increased. So it's not just a perception issue that the moderation on the site has grown, it's a fact. With more hands to delete things earlier, you're actually deleting more things than you used to. And so people are responding to it. When people toss out the bit about how the site is no longer self-policing, it's not just a throw-away line. The site is more policed now than it's ever been. And it's lamentable, but it's clear that the site could not have grown and prospered without that kind of intervention.
posted by crunchland at 10:47 AM on December 6, 2011


It's something we've made an increasing effort to deal with promptly over the last few years, yeah, but I feel like that's not so much a fundamental change in moderation of the site so much as better resource availability for tackling what has always been a problem and what used to be more of a binary: leave an early derail in place when Matt finally saw it or do serious pruning after the fact. With more than one or two sets of eyes on the site we can try to head it off early a lot more regularly, so the reaction time is way down and a little pruning early on is a workable alternative to a lot of pruning later.

The part following "I feel like that's not a fundamental change in moderation" appears to describe, precisely, a fundamental change in moderation. A change for the positive, in my opinion, but if there's some friction in the discussion here it might be because people are seeing, or at least feeling, the same objective facts quite differently.
posted by Wolfdog at 10:55 AM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


crunchland: "When people toss out the bit about how the site is no longer self-policing, it's not just a throw-away line. The site is more policed now than it's ever been."

We're still self-policing.

The mods respond to flags, comment form alerts and posts to Meta.

Which means they take action on stuff when it has been called to their attention by a member of the community. The difference is that (as you say) with extra people to help out, the mods are now able to respond more rapidly, and perhaps nip a greater number of things that could be potentially problematic in the bud than they could before.
posted by zarq at 10:56 AM on December 6, 2011


Well, if people see more comments and threads disappear, for whatever the reason

Not arguing your general point, just pointing out that deleting a few early threadshitting comments may not, in fact, be more visible than removing the extended ugly derail that follows from them 50 comments later.

I know there are some people who read every post as soon as it goes up, but these are a teeny minority of the people who are using the site, as are the people who post in and contribute to MetaTalk. So I'm not really trying to say "That's not what's happening" just that from the birds-eye view up here, early threadshitting deleting may in fact be less noticeable to the majority of our users than later in-thread fights that stem from them.

I think power users think that the rest of the site is also made up of power users and that is very much not the case. They may account for a lot of the commenting, but not most of the page views. And we don't cater to page viewers necessarily (despite what people say about whatever our relationship is to Google's AdSense) but we view every user who uses the site as the total of "the membership" and we try to adjust so that we strike a balance between deletions and usability of the site for all the people who want to comment in a thread.

So, as an example, there was a thread (the amnesia guy one) where, for whatever reason, we didn't remove the early sort of off-topic jokey didn't-read-the-links comments in a thread. And the thread mostly righted itself [hooray] but people kept flagging the early comments and kept commenting on them, and then people would be flagging those comments and it turned into a nice little flagging snowstorm which we had to keep an eye on for the whole day. Which had the possibility to turn into a MeTa thread and more people fighting with each other and a lot of community and mod time spent on it. All so a few people could get their early thread lulz on. Sometimes it happens and that's fine, but on the larger MeFi of 2011, it doesn't scale as well as it might have five years ago. We know some people are dissatisfied with that set of decisions and that's certainly their right to be, but from my vantage point it doesn't make the site less self-policing than it ever was.

I'm hoping someone can run the numbers because otherwise it's just my impressions against the impressions of others' and that's not a great way to have a discussion about something that is actually based on something quantifiable. As Wolfdog says, it may be because we just have differing interpretations of the same data, or maybe not.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:00 AM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Metafilter defines weblog more than weblog defines Metafilter.
posted by jamjam at 11:04 AM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, if people see more comments and threads disappear

I think there's a few different things there, though.

More comments disappearing as a proportion of total comments is not something that I think has been particularly happening.

More early crappy comments disappearing quickly is a thing that has been happening more the last few years, because that's seemed like the most manageable way to prevent big clusterfuck derails that would otherwise happen, and is likely to lead to fewer deletions later in a thread since it doesn't spin off the rails.

More threads disappearing is also not a thing I think is particularly happening. Someone ran the numbers recently and the resulting chart showed a fairly steady 6-9% average deletion rate month to month with a fair amount of variation over the last several years, including a peak back in 2008 that was significantly higher than the average for this year, for example.

So it feels like a perception thing after all to a significant degree: if people are noticing that conspicuous derailbait comments are getting deleted more often now than they were years ago and jumping to the conclusion that comments in general are therefore getting deleted more, that's a perception thing, not well-footed assessment of moderation activity. If people are noticing an increase in thread deletions that's actually in fact steady or even decreased activity there, that's a perception thing.

I'm not trying to suggest here that there's been no change whatsoever in how moderation has worked on the site over the years or that we haven't firmed up how some of this stuff gets done and how quickly as time's gone by and we've gotten more moderation resources, but I also feel like there's a big gulf, in various directions, between what individual folks perceive to be the state of play now vs. some remembered past and what's actually measurably been happening in terms of aggregate moderation on the site.

When people toss out the bit about how the site is no longer self-policing, it's not just a throw-away line.

I see our main role as mods to be to deal as quickly and cleanly as we can with stuff that doesn't self-resolve well so that everybody on the site can get on with the business of being the community, gentle self-policing and all, that it ought to be. With a large userbase and an awful lot of trust up front in terms of posting and commenting freedom, we're bound to have messes that are better cleaned up promptly than left to fester; they're a small part of the total of what goes on here, but they're disproportionately distracting when they happen, and in many cases (someone flipping the fuck out, someone spamming, someone posting personal details to the site, etc) they aren't something that trying to talk out in a community reinforcement sense is going to solve.

Basically, self-policing isn't a binary where either you have moderation taking action or you have a community policing itself. There's a lot of different kinds of things that can happen in a large community and a lot of that can work really well as stuff for folks to talk out as a group, but some of it is stuff that just needs taking care of quickly using mod-level tools. I'd rather people actually spend their time self-policing the stuff that's actually self-policeable instead of getting drawn up in the futile drama of stuff that doesn't lend itself to that.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:05 AM on December 6, 2011


I don't understand how we can be not-self-policing when it's us that are flagging the bad posts, chatty askmes, and FRIST!-type comments. Is that not a form of self-policing?
posted by rtha at 11:13 AM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


It says a lot about the pervasiveness of the word "blog" that when I look at the word "weblog" it seems like it's missing a b -- like it should be "webblog"

I think I do read it now, since MetaFilter is the only place I see it, as "community we-blog" which is probably pretty twee and annoying to come people, but that's often how my feelings are about MetaFilter when forced to express them outside my brain.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:24 AM on December 6, 2011


rtha: "I don't understand how we can be not-self-policing when it's us that are flagging the bad posts, chatty askmes, and FRIST!-type comments. Is that not a form of self-policing?"

Depends on if you Mirandize the comments before you flag 'em.
posted by zarq at 11:25 AM on December 6, 2011


Is that not a form of self-policing?

Some would call it 'snitching' :)
posted by empath at 11:27 AM on December 6, 2011


Is that not a form of self-policing? --- I'd say that if the action directly led to the deletion without other human intervention, then we'd be self-policing. Since it requires some middle-man to make a judgement call, and there's an opportunity for a post or comment to get flagged to death and still remain, we're just witnesses.
posted by crunchland at 11:31 AM on December 6, 2011


I think your definition of self-policing is narrower than mine, but I see what you mean.

I think when the site was much smaller, self-policing worked in a way that it would be very difficult to have work now. One could argue that, say, a shitty FRIST! comment that gets called out and beaten up and snarked to death is a form of self-policing, but I don't think that scales terribly well. How would you envision it working?
posted by rtha at 11:46 AM on December 6, 2011


By that standard, though, how was Metafilter ever self-policing? There's never been thresholded deletion features, there's never been any ability whatsoever for mefites to trigger an unmediated removal of content from the site. Before flags, people made complaints in-thread or took them to Metatalk or wrote Matt email, or I suppose just assumed that nothing could or would be done. There was never any line to deletion other than putting a complaint in front of the eyes of the admin or admins on duty.

I've always felt the core idea behind self-policing was that people were paying attention to what was going on in the community around them, and felt engaged as part of that community in promoting and preserving it's health and functionality by modeling good behavior and talking through the problems that emerged from how folks interact.

It's like a neighborhood watch thing, not a police squad: you make a point of being around and keeping your eyes open, you know the other regulars and they know you, you try to mitigate trouble and encourage good outcomes, and when something goes wrong you try and talk about it and see if you can't find a way to make it right or to make it possible for things to go more right on average in the future.

Ultimately, either nothing gets deleted or someone's in charge of the delete button. It's always been the latter on mefi and it's always been some specific human mod or mods making judgement calls about when to press it based in large part on the feedback from the community. I don't think that's at all at odds with a core philosophy of community-wide self-policing as a method of maintaining and refining group cohesion and collective self-awareness.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:48 AM on December 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


That's a good point. You're right.
posted by crunchland at 11:51 AM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't think that's at all at odds with a core philosophy of community-wide self-policing as a method of maintaining and refining group cohesion and collective self-awareness.

I like to think of myself as Deputy something something of Metafilter, with special powers to bring stuff to the attention of the mods. Then I realize everyone else has the same powers and that special feeling goes away.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:00 PM on December 6, 2011


Matt and I talked about this and we're going with MetaFilter: Chevy Driving Excitement.

Brought to you by MeFi Mag: Paginated Lateness.
Back to work.
posted by klangklangston at 12:06 PM on December 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


Protip: if you switch to the professional white background, the phrase "Community Weblog" no longer shows up on the front page. Problem solved.

OK it still shows up in the title bar but who ever looks at that?
posted by octothorpe at 12:56 PM on December 6, 2011


"Blog" has come to mean "a Web site containing the writer's or group of writers' own experiences, observations, opinions, etc

That's why I never read the articles before commenting.
posted by StickyCarpet at 1:35 PM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


My favorite anagram of MetaFilter is MeatLifter. Though I have no idea who these people are lifting up their meat or why.
posted by sonika at 2:24 PM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is there a reason YOU don't want to do so?....

Maybe it's because it has been deleted twice now, the first time for "not enough context" and the second time for "too much editorializing," and also because everyone is being a bunch of dismissive snarky assholes to him over the whole thing. I'm surprised he hasn't given up on MeFi altogether, really.

If we're going to be so precisely prescriptive about our precious house style that neither version of this post is acceptable, and "sensitive" terms like "cisgendered" are big red flags, maybe this should all be spelled out for people somewhere. Or at least we could not be total dicks to people when they don't understand because they have failed to lurk for 10 years before posting. Honestly, it just kind of breaks my heart to think of this guy listening to his computer read each and every one of these smug, bitchy jabs aloud to him.
posted by dialetheia at 2:41 PM on December 6, 2011 [2 favorites]



I like to think of myself as Deputy something something of Metafilter, with special powers to bring stuff to the attention of the mods. Then I realize everyone else has the same powers and that special feeling goes away.



Only to return again 5 comments later.

Must be Hellish.
posted by sgt.serenity at 2:42 PM on December 6, 2011


Net Prophet made a post to Metatalk of his own free will. At the bottom of every single page is a contact link for the moderators, where this discussion could occur politely and in private.

(Also, jessamyn's response about the cisgender thing irked me too, but in the end it's a red herring. A perfect cromulent post could have been constructed with or without the term.)
posted by muddgirl at 3:07 PM on December 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Metafilter still resides in my "Message Boards" folder. That's how I've always seen the place and that's how it still seems to me. "Community weblog" always struck me as an arsey way to describe the place.

The moderation level really hasn't changed much--though people's perception of it definitely has

Oh yeah, that's definitely it. It must be "people's" perception that's changed, not observable reality. I mean it's not like you can go back into the archives and see masses of stuff that was left entirely un-mod-molested and which would survive for about three nanoseconds now.
posted by Decani at 3:08 PM on December 6, 2011


We don't own the FPPs we post.

"All posts are © their original authors."
posted by kirkaracha at 3:51 PM on December 6, 2011


YOU GUYS THIS WOULD FIX ALL THE PROBLEMS EVERYONE HAS WITH EVERYTHING WE SHOLD BE A WEB LOG
posted by cmoj at 4:17 PM on December 6, 2011


"All posts are © their original authors." --- Everyone knows that this was just a way for Matt to dodge any liability issues that might result in allowing any fool with a fiver to post anything they want to the front page of a highly trafficked and influential website. In practice, all posts belong to Cortex.
posted by crunchland at 4:27 PM on December 6, 2011


That's a good point. You're right.

Which kind of invalidates pretty much the core of your argument throughout this thread, no? Don't get me wrong, the discussion is fascinating, so thanks for that.
posted by mediareport at 4:43 PM on December 6, 2011


"All posts are © their original authors."

In a strict copyright sense, you explicitly retain rights over the words you put on the site: Metafilter makes no claim to acquire or transfer that copyright, and we're neither going to try to deprive you of your right to reuse those words wherever and whenever you like nor attempt to republish or monetize those words in some significant non-Metafilter context without your permission to do so.

In the community sense of putting out neat stuff for other folks to look at and discuss as a group, people need to not be under the presumption that they have control over or ownership of the Metafilter thread dynamic that emerges from the posts they decide to make. That just plain doesn't work here, and makes for bad threads.

Two different interpretations of "own", two very, very different aspects of how this place works.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:49 PM on December 6, 2011


Hiya Josh!

How is it possible you've been doing this for this long and you still have the patience of Job, the willingness to answer questions in good faith and explain things ad nauseum, and (presumably) rocking hair?


Must be something in the dognuts.
posted by dios at 5:00 PM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


dios: Must be something in the dognuts.

Semen?
posted by gman at 5:06 PM on December 6, 2011


*stares long and hard at glass of bourbon*
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:08 PM on December 6, 2011 [5 favorites]


*stares back*

posted by bourbon at 5:38 PM on December 6
posted by villanelles at dawn at 5:38 PM on December 6, 2011


When you stare into the bourbon, the bourbon stares back.

posted by Nietzsche44 at 10:45 PM on December 6
posted by Horace Rumpole at 5:45 PM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


And if you gaze long into a bourbon, the bourbon gazes also into you.

posted by ProperNeitzche at 5:48 PM on December 6

no, really.
posted by That's Numberwang! at 5:47 PM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


I mean it's not like you can go back into the archives and see masses of stuff that was left entirely un-mod-molested and which would survive for about three nanoseconds now.

Go do it then. Three posts, any time period. We can tell you how much they were flagged relative to the number of users at the time, how many comments we deleted, and at what point in the thread, and whether or not we would have deleted them if we'd only had more staff and been able to axe earlier comments. It's a counterfactual at some level because you can't say how a thread would have gone had you moderated it sooner/later, so you sort of have to look at the outcome and see if it seems to have been worth it after the fact.

Our argument isn't that our strategy hasn't changed, it has, it's that the percentage of comments that are axed remains about the same. So instead of letting people argue themselves into a dozens-of-comments lather because someone used a racial epithet or made a rape joke, we step in sooner than we used to, and draw the line earlier.

And honestly, some days I just wish people could just not be assholes to each other and/or not react/respond to people being assholes with increasing levels of assholishness until threads were unmanageable and horrible and made the site look like it was populated with evil children, without me or cortex or tax or restless_nomad having to step in. Other days I think that moderation helps people have the discussions they want to have here and helps make MeFi more the sort of site that most people who are here want it to be. And I go back and forth, honestly. Because I think very few people on this site would argue for a totally unmoderated MetaFilter, we just draw the lines in a different place and try to not make the place become someplace different.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:56 PM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Which kind of invalidates pretty much the core of your argument throughout this thread, no? --- I don't see it that way. I'm willing to admit that my concept of the site no longer being self-policing was wrong, in that it apparently never was. But I still think that saying that the level of moderation on the site has been unchanged over time. But I guess you're free to mistakenly reduce what I've written to whatever you want to.
posted by crunchland at 5:57 PM on December 6, 2011


If you gaze too long at the barman, the bourbon gays you.

posted by Rick Santorum at 5:58 PM on December 6


On preview: I see long blocks up grownup words but I'm posting this anyways.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 5:58 PM on December 6, 2011


MetaFilter: I see long blocks up grownup words but I'm posting this anyways.
posted by Rory Marinich at 6:16 PM on December 6, 2011 [6 favorites]


I too think the tagline should be changed from "community weblog". We just need something better. I think "social" is verging on passe, we want to be ahead of everyone not joining the pack, but everyone wants it. Community is good I guess, harkens back to MetaFilter's roots, acknowledged to be a strong point, implies social.

"Done right" is still of the now, implies MetaFilter is the best of breed, as is "2.0".

I vote for "E-Social Online Community Done Right 2.0 (beta)" or some variation.

Can we see some comps of that for the AM?

Thanks,
posted by Ad hominem at 6:17 PM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


I too think the tagline should be changed from "community weblog".

But aren't we logging the web?
posted by SpacemanStix at 6:18 PM on December 6, 2011


Ya got me there,

"Online Social Community Weblog Done Right 2.0 (beta)" it is.

Anyone got a cartoon of one animal dressed as another for the 404 page? Maybe a chimp in a tiger costume?
posted by Ad hominem at 6:26 PM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


The moderation has definitely changed. I once had a post deleted that did nothing but link to the exact same thing someone had linked before in a previous post. Mine was deleted and the previous one was not! If it was fine then, it should be fine now!

/checkmate
posted by furiousxgeorge at 6:30 PM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Don't you think that "weblog" is quaint? It's as if we fax our posts to Matt or something.
posted by shothotbot at 7:41 PM on December 6, 2011


Net Prophet? Please.

Enough.

You've been here six months and you had a post deleted. One which almost every mod and pretty much every member said would be OK if you just took out the "I think" stuff. Everyone has been, polite, supportive, and helpful in trying to help you acclimate to this wonderful town.

Stop being whiny. Either re-post with the suggested changes and see what folks think and have to say about it, or shut up. Don't stomp your feet and say someone else can do it.

I've been here going on ten years, and my first post was a mess. I learned. I've have been in my cups and said some dumbass mean things. I learned, and I apologized. I've had posts and comments deleted. Some with very obvious reasons (i.e. a unintentional double). and some for reasons unclear to me, but not a big enough thing to grouse much about.

In my time I have found the mods to be pretty damned even handed, perhaps to a fault. I think the only people who get the banhammer are straight out of the gate spammers, or people who have gone through repeated private emails, time outs and last chances before being shown the door and hearing it lock behind them.

We're a pretty nice bunch in here and welcome you gladly, but at least know us a bit before you start peeing in the gladiolas eh?

The reason we call it a community, is because it isn't about me, or you. It's about us.
posted by timsteil at 7:48 PM on December 6, 2011


It's as if we fax our posts to Matt or something.

I write mine out on foolscap with a typewriting machine, then place it in the cylinder and then place the cylinder in the vacuum tube, and away it goes. Isn't living in the Scientific Age the best thing ever!
posted by doctor_negative at 7:55 PM on December 6, 2011


philip-random writes "Hey, Toronto! Fix your f***ing hockey team, and all those expressways and shit you put between the population and the lakefront -- get f***ing rid of it."

I love how Canadian this comment is what with the go to put down being a slur on their hockey team.

dialetheia writes "maybe this should all be spelled out for people somewhere. Or at least we could not be total dicks to people when they don't understand because they have failed to lurk for 10 years before posting. "

You don't have to lurk for 10 years. Spending a few hours during the week you are restricted from posting perusing the archives should allow you to see how things are done. Certainly you'd see if you are paying attention that not much editorializing occurs on the front page.
posted by Mitheral at 8:54 PM on December 6, 2011


I suggest you look up the meaning of GYOFB GYOBFW

FTFY
posted by eddydamascene at 9:43 PM on December 6, 2011


Sometimes the liberal one-upsmanship and the pedanticism of Metafilter get me a little down, but then I read threads like this where with almost no prompting at all, and in response to a sort of bad-faith OP, folks start riffing on really interesting ideas about what the site is and isn't and why and why not etc. etc. and you know, it reminds me that I have come to read stuff here just about every day because it is a really unusually brilliant and thoughtful group of people on the whole who post here all the time.

Thanks guys!
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 9:52 PM on December 6, 2011


It's as if we fax our posts to Matt or something.

Wait, am I doing it wrong?
posted by madamjujujive at 10:02 PM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Almost certainly. It's how we learn.
posted by arcticseal at 10:28 PM on December 6, 2011


Miko: I'm OK with "community weblog" and like that it's archaic now. We're like the Stonehenge of the internet.

Holy crap, did you mean that in the way I think you meant that? As in reference to the perverse state of affairs that the word 'henge' comes from Stonehenge but that its meaning actually excludes Stonehenge itself?
posted by Anything at 11:00 PM on December 6, 2011


As, of course, discussed here.
posted by Anything at 11:05 PM on December 6, 2011


I had a weblog from 1999 to 2003 or so (that's how I got here--it was linked on MeFi), and it was a lot like a one-man version of this place: links and brief (not very personal) comments. The idea that blog equals diary is new, comparatively.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 11:15 PM on December 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


the pedanticism of Metafilter

It's a trap!
posted by running order squabble fest at 3:14 AM on December 7, 2011


My favorite anagram of MetaFilter is MeatLifter. Though I have no idea who these people are lifting up their meat or why.

oh i go to MeatLifter all the time.
in private browsing mode
posted by fetamelter at 7:49 AM on December 7, 2011


I did this a week or so ago, when I was poking at D3, but here's graphs of posts, comments and deletions from early days to now, taken from the infodump.
posted by frimble at 8:19 AM on December 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


What's the key?
posted by OmieWise at 8:22 AM on December 7, 2011


My favorite anagram of MetaFilter is MeatLifter.

I like "Team Trifle"
posted by griphus at 8:24 AM on December 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


here's graphs of posts, comments and deletions from early days to now, taken from the infodump.

Interesting. I'd love to see this alongside a best fit line showing population growth along the same times. The early AskMe jump is, I think, because MeTa and AskMe were sharing numbers during early AskMe days. One of the things I'm curious about, about our database, is when a post is deleted if the comments in that post are considered to be deleted? I'm pretty sure that is not the case, but it would definitely skew the numbers where people might feel that there were a lot more non-live comments [because the parent posts had been removed] than would appear in the InfoDump. I'm not sure if I'm reading this right but it looks like while overall comment deletion levels are only slightly up, the proportion of comment deletions that are in the blue is up a little. And I'm not sure what's up for deleted posts in 2004-2005, I'm certain there were more AskMe posts deleted than ... none? This may have to do with the same database AskMe/MeTa overlap possibly.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:36 AM on December 7, 2011


Meatt Rifle would be an excellent name for a Spinal Tap cover band.
posted by frimble at 8:37 AM on December 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Community of Beans on a Plate
posted by WinnipegDragon at 8:58 AM on December 7, 2011


I had a weblog from 1999 to 2003 or so (that's how I got here--it was linked on MeFi), and it was a lot like a one-man version of this place: links and brief (not very personal) comments. The idea that blog equals diary is new, comparatively.

I got paid to maintain a film industry focused weblog for a couple of years starting in 1999. I was essentially pointed at Slashdot and told to the same thing, only for all things film industry. I was also told that it was not to be my personal pulpit for spouting off -- that the goal was to engage others to get involved, post their own cool links and so on. In fact, true success would be me not posting any front page stuff at all -- just moderating etc.

We didn't succeed.

But yeah, weblogging as I was introduced to it (and practiced it) was always supposed to be a bigger thing than just me and what I thought about shit. Which sounds like a pretty apt definition of Metafilter and its relation to its founder.

Blogs on the other hand ...
posted by philip-random at 9:30 AM on December 7, 2011


All I want to say is that we aren't promoting our world-class Deskology department. Let's get this alumni association started and someone contact the Times HE.
posted by ersatz at 10:33 AM on December 7, 2011


Anyone got a cartoon of one animal dressed as another for the 404 page? Maybe a chimp in a tiger costume?

Fuuuuuu! mint.com one upped us! They made their 404 page a personal ad for one of their developers.

We may need to break out the big guns, we may need to make the 404 page the mom cat hugging baby cat video.

There is no way we are going to get mindshare with a stock 404 page.
posted by Ad hominem at 3:27 PM on December 7, 2011


Interesting. I'd love to see this alongside a best fit line showing population growth along the same times.

That wouldn't be hard to do at all. I'll see about graphing that along with the totals when I have a chance -- Tomorrow night at the earliest.

One of the things I'm curious about, about our database, is when a post is deleted if the comments in that post are considered to be deleted? I'm pretty sure that is not the case, but it would definitely skew the numbers where people might feel that there were a lot more non-live comments [because the parent posts had been removed] than would appear in the InfoDump. I'm not sure if I'm reading this right but it looks like while overall comment deletion levels are only slightly up, the proportion of comment deletions that are in the blue is up a little.

The infodump doesn't record deleted comments, so the 'deleted comments' graph is a hack, really. It looks for holes in the ID column of the comments table, so it relies on a host of assumptions about the behaviour of the site. That said, comments on deleted posts are not counted in that graph, only comments which no longer exist at all (or never did)

As to overall levels, from eyeballing it, they're up slightly. Metafilter normally averages about an 0.5 to 1.0% deletion rate and Ask averages about 1.5 to 2.0%. Over the past few months:
Metafilter
       Comments Deleted Percent
2011  5   64258  328    0.51%
2011  6   59924  330    0.55%
2011  7   54492  425    0.77%
2011  8   54989  341    0.62%
2011  9   50290  381    0.75%
2011  10  54866  609    1.10%
2011  11  43222  513    1.18%


Ask
       Comments Deleted Percent
2011  5   36042  558    1.54%
2011  6   34573  535    1.54%
2011  7   37008  654    1.76%
2011  8   38496  575    1.49%
2011  9   35144  622    1.76%
2011  10  35232  684    1.94%
2011  11  31451  600    1.90%
And I'm not sure what's up for deleted posts in 2004-2005, I'm certain there were more AskMe posts deleted than ... none? This may have to do with the same database AskMe/MeTa overlap possibly.

That I'm not sure of. If I have time, (and someone doesn't have a good answer) I can go poking around in deleted posts from that period, and see whether there are posts attributed to a different site than the one they're on.
posted by frimble at 10:28 PM on December 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I really do love this stuff, but on a note of personal paranoia – it also makes me nervous. I do a lot of editing of comments to fix something that the poster messed up – either by request, or whenever I happen notice they've made a correction in another comment. So there might be a comment "blah blah link here," followed by "oh, dang, I messed up the link! Here's the real link." And I'll fix the original, and delete the oops! comment... plus maybe another comment that says "hey poster, your link's not working. What did you mean to link to?" Same with typos that are pointed out/corrected in another comment by the poster.

I don't want to be feeling wariness about being as helpful as I can be/am inclined to be because I'm afraid it's going to show up in raw form as more deletions, convincing everyone that new mods are terrible, terrible people. I know that I shouldn't be insecure in that way, and that I should trust people to trust me, but in these early days when there's a lot of understandable doubt, it's sort of scary to think about putting "just trust me, 'K?" up against SCIENCE.

For the record, I love fixing broken comments; I do not at all, ever love deleting comments for content, but that's part of what I'm paid to do for certain cases, and I'll try to do that in the fairest way possible according to how I understand what Matt, Jess, Cortex, Restless, and the site at large wants. There's no PEW!, PEW! feeling about it ever at all for me. Well, maybe a wee little PEW! for spammers.

So, anyway, yeah; Yay, Data! But also, eek!
posted by taz (staff) at 1:13 AM on December 8, 2011


Heh, if we're doing the anagram thing...

Trite Flame
Arm Feel Tit
Milf art tee < available on Etsy
posted by unSane at 6:03 AM on December 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


And I'm not sure what's up for deleted posts in 2004-2005, I'm certain there were more AskMe posts deleted than ... none? This may have to do with the same database AskMe/MeTa overlap possibly.

Yeah, huh. I don't immediately know what's going on there either.

It's not the askme/metatalk database thing, at least not directly; you can see really distinctly the period where askme was living in the metatalk tables, that big hump in several of the graphs from late 2003 to mid-2004, after which I believe askme finally moved over to its own posts table. (Which reminds me, I should ask pb to clear those duplicate records out of the metatalk tables for sanity's sake.)

But the dearth of apparent askme deletions continues on until late 2005.

And it's a dearth, not an absence; looking carefully at the bottom of the deleted posts graph, there's some very shallow activity in that otherwise dead period. So something was registering occasionally by whatever the current metric is, presumably infodump rows in the askme post data that list the deleted flag as true.

Ah, but now I have a theory!

1. For a long time, Metatalk posts that got deleted just went poof. They weren't in the database anymore. This actually remained the case until mid-late 2007; you can see on the Deleted Posts graph that the grey sliver doesn't show up until maybe August of that year, despite metatalk having been around for a very long time and certainly having had deletions sometimes.

This goes for Metafilter proper, too; note that there's no deleted mefi posts until late 2002, which is sure as heck not the case. But since deletions were just outright removed from the database, there's no record of them in the infodump with a deleted flag; they're just not there.

2. Since Askme started on the same codebase and in the same tables as metatalk, it inherited that nuke-from-orbit approach that metatalk had originally inherited from mefi before mefi started doing hiding-style deletions. And so there were no askme post "deletions" until that got changed in late 2005 when Matt made some more changes to askme under the hood.

3. But those scattered deletions in late 2004 and early 2005, what about them? Well, people occasionally regret a question years later—often because their expectations about their privacy vs. their visibility or longevity with mefi changes over time—and so they ask us if we'd nix something embarrassing or privacy-compromising. The result is that stuff posted during that nuke-from-orbit period but deleted later on in the modern hiding-style period rightly disappear from the database but rather get flagged as deleted internally. So my guess is you'd find a scattered handful of "poster's request" type deletions in 2004 and 2005 before deletions kicked in properly in late 2005.

A re-run of these that accounts for the possibility of missing rows in the posts data will give a decent (if, because of bug-testing admin test post deletions, in spots slightly inflated) picture of what the deletion rates were like before each of the given subsites started doing the modern hide-flag-as-deletion-marker thing.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:38 AM on December 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


A re-run of these that accounts for the possibility of missing rows in the posts data will give a decent (if, because of bug-testing admin test post deletions, in spots slightly inflated) picture of what the deletion rates were like before each of the given subsites started doing the modern hide-flag-as-deletion-marker thing.

Despite knowing that there was a 'nuke from orbit' period, I didn't do that because I wasn't sure how many assumptions were bundled into that process. I.e. if the database creates a new ID, then discards it, when a post is started, but not completed, or at other points, then the number of 'deleted posts' could be far higher than the actual deletions.

Honestly, I hadn't thought about comment editing when I calculated deleted comments, either (probably because it's wholly outside my experience of the site). If it does assign a new ID, then the deleted comments graph is completely wrong, and I should remove it.
posted by frimble at 8:20 AM on December 8, 2011


If it does assign a new ID, then the deleted comments graph is completely wrong, and I should remove it.

Pretty sure it doesn't. taz was mostly referring to situations where a user posts a comment with a typo and then a second posts that says "ACK TYPO!" or something and then we fix the first comment and delete the second.So it shows up as a deletion event even though we weren't deleting for content really. Doesn't happen that often but maybe a few times a day on a site where we don't delete that much to begin with.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:28 AM on December 8, 2011


There's no id reassignment, so that's something you don't have to worry about; I agree with Jessamyn's read on what taz was saying.

And that's definitely one of those subtle things that comes with more available mod reasources—since we're not stretched as thin in terms of available time and energy, little things like repairing attested comment errors that might otherwise have slipped through the cracks are more likely to get fixed up at this point.

Post ids and comment ids get assigned at the moment the content is actually made live. So for example if you start making a post to the front page, pause for several hours, then finish it up after some other posts go up, your post will get assigned its id based on the current set of live posts rather than reserving the next available post id at the time composition started.

The only major exception to this rule is that in the first couple years at least of anonymous askme posts, the anony post's id was reserved at the time of submission, so the posts that got approved would show up in correct chronological order but with out-of-order post ids. This made deleted thread scripts not work for askme correctly for a long time, and also led to rare odd artifacts when an anony post got deleted then undeleted and at that point ended up taking up a new position lower down the page in proper ascending-post-id order. But that's been fixed for a while.

You might also find occasional out-of-order artifacts in the post data from time-change situations or temporary server misconfigurations if you look hard enough.

I've got at least a few notes about idiosyncrasies listed on a per-section basis on the wiki page for the Infodump, so that may help some with any assumptions, but you're also totally welcome to pick my brain about any details.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:40 AM on December 8, 2011


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