In Praise of Faze December 9, 2011 5:21 PM   Subscribe

Valiant defender of the bucolic splendors of suburbia, sprawl, and the Midwest.

He is our historian, helping us to recognize the glory of the present, and the relative horrors of the past.

He is our guide. Reminding us of the ever-stalking ravages of time. He helps us reach sensible decisions and encourages us towards personal responsibility.

He's anti-elitist, pro-sobriety, anti-rebellion, and a fan of easy listening.

Ladies and Gentleman, sit back and have a cheeseburger, I give you Faze.
posted by leotrotsky to MetaFilter-Related at 5:21 PM (250 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite

Sometimes, when I hate my post office, or the line in the bodega is too long, or the elevator is on the sixth floor and I am on the first and I have a shitload of shopping bags, I dream of living in the idyllic fantasy land Faze sends his missives from.
posted by griphus at 5:27 PM on December 9, 2011 [5 favorites]


I don't think there's a December post contest for Metatalk...
posted by the young rope-rider at 5:28 PM on December 9, 2011 [9 favorites]


Why are you doing this?
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:32 PM on December 9, 2011 [49 favorites]


Faze's account being disabled is one of the great tragedies of Mefi.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 5:32 PM on December 9, 2011 [7 favorites]


Metafilter has ruined me because I can't tell if this post is supposed to be ironic or not.

I just read a few of his posts and they look ok to me. I'm gonna go with "not", but I'm still not sure.
posted by bondcliff at 5:32 PM on December 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think he's a fascinating character in the history of Metafilter, and worthy of a salutary post. My tone is slightly jokey, but the interest is real.
posted by leotrotsky at 5:35 PM on December 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


That's the thing, he's made some truly great posts, and yet frequently faces accusations that he's trolling the site.
posted by leotrotsky at 5:37 PM on December 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


...and he IS very contrarian relative to the general attitudes on the site. Pro suburb, pro easy listening, etc., and yet his arguments are compelling and thoughtful. I personally think that his ruminations on aging are quite profound.
posted by leotrotsky at 5:39 PM on December 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


...and his last post was July 24th?

We seem to be a bit behind schedule.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 5:42 PM on December 9, 2011


The one really odd (to me) thing with him is that all his missives are almost exactly the same length, to the degree that if I see an undifferentiated block of text within a certain size range, I can pretty accurately guess that it's Faze without reading a word of it or looking at the "posted by" line. I used to be able to do the same thing with Ethereal Bligh (almost always three paragraphs).
posted by LionIndex at 5:43 PM on December 9, 2011


i don't know what this is but i like it
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 5:43 PM on December 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, I will never, ever forget the words "If Henry David Thoreau were alive today, he'd live in the suburbs and love it." As long as a live, long past MetaFilter and HyprFiltr and F-Prime and every future iteration of this website, I will remember that sentence.
posted by griphus at 5:51 PM on December 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


I never liked his comments much, but to each their own.
posted by rtha at 5:51 PM on December 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


The winning UK Mefi vs. Reddit trivia team was named after one of his colorful little phrases.
posted by The Whelk at 5:54 PM on December 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


Faze is an excellent example of the power of righteous and good writing. He reminds me of the head of a cult, smooth and slick and beautiful in his writing, but somewhere down the line, he's going to ask you to do an ugly deed to protect his beloved suburbs from the looming horror of something or other.

Get out while you leotrotsky and come join the ass jittering cattle.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:56 PM on December 9, 2011 [12 favorites]


In retrospect, I shouldn't have included the 'cheeseburger' reference because it implies some sort of ironic contempt. That said, it does highlights the kind of ambiguity with which we're often forced to confront his comments. Is he an exquisitely honed pinnacle of trollcraft, or simply a curmudgeonly good writer? I still don't know.
posted by leotrotsky at 5:58 PM on December 9, 2011


If this is an entry for the December best post contest, you are doing it wrong.
posted by bru at 6:02 PM on December 9, 2011


I disagreed with Faze about a lot of things and agree with him about a lot of others. And I enjoyed reading him WAY more than a lot of people who I usually agree with. I'll miss him.
posted by jonmc at 6:05 PM on December 9, 2011 [10 favorites]


Way to get my hopes up. I thought this was a "Welcome Back Faze, or Faze's True Identity is actually a [scientist doing social research, famous hollywood actor, world's most prolific conman, lonely 85 year old woman in Appalachia, etc.] post. He was certainly in a league of his own and I couldn't stand/stomach the actual content of most of what he wrote, but he had a real gift with *how* he wrote it that I always found perversely enjoyable.
see also: Hitchens, C.

posted by stagewhisper at 6:07 PM on December 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


I remain unfazed.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 6:08 PM on December 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Eh, he pretty much always seemed to me like he was trying to be the Republican version of Hunter S. Thompson which is a concept that is even less compelling than it sounds.
posted by Doublewhiskeycokenoice at 6:12 PM on December 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


Dude can write, but I don't care how eloquently he argues the point, Olive Garden and Applebees do suck, at any income level. Nothing elitist about wanting to eat good food.
posted by justgary at 6:14 PM on December 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


Dude can write, but I don't care how eloquently he argues the point, Olive Garden and Applebees do suck, at any income level. Nothing elitist about wanting to eat good food.

Olive Garden sucks, yeah, mainly because both times I've eaten their I got sick as a dog. Applebee's is passable for bar nibbles, but I wouldn't seek it out. But I see what Faze was getting at.
posted by jonmc at 6:16 PM on December 9, 2011


Faze is a troll. Bless his heart.
posted by Divine_Wino at 6:23 PM on December 9, 2011 [5 favorites]


Yes, but he wasn't boring, which is a far worse crime that far more people are guilty of.
posted by jonmc at 6:26 PM on December 9, 2011 [9 favorites]


"I used to be able to do the same thing with Ethereal Bligh (almost always three paragraphs)."

Really? Can you still recognize me? I think I'm somewhat more concise on MeFi than I was before, but I also think that during my time as EB, my writing here changed, too.

Faze didn't leave much of an impression on me. He was here from 2001 onward, but was he more active in recent years? Because I just don't remember him from my time as EB from 2004-2007. But, hey, I'm almost fifty and maybe my memory is starting to go. I think I'd remember someone who was prone to defending suburbia.

I mean, christ, I grew up in a small town which (when one is pre-adolescent) provides all the things that I suspect people who write apologies for suburbia laud about them, without all the awful, awful stuff. Like McMansions. And, arguably, suburbia is equally small-minded and conformist without the excuse of being so provincial. So I can sort of understand some of why someone would defend it, but not really.

But, hey, he defended easy-listening, too, so who knows what the limits are on his deranged sensibilities. Hard to believe I can't remember him.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 6:27 PM on December 9, 2011 [8 favorites]


EB, or IF, let me assure you that there are MeFites these days whose comments go on so long that they make you seem like Joey Ramone with laryngitis.
posted by jonmc at 6:29 PM on December 9, 2011 [9 favorites]


some of us just write short jokes about farts.
posted by The Whelk at 6:31 PM on December 9, 2011 [9 favorites]


Well, he wasn't alone on suburbia, as that thread indicates. I grew up in suburbia and have lived in it most of my life (until recently), and I loved it. MeFi tends towards city dwellers, it seems, so it's not surprising the general attitude is anti-suburbia. Although people have weird ideas about what it actually is (suburbia can have public transportation, sidewalks, etc; or it can be giant homes in gated communities -- in other words, it's really really hard to generalize about it).
posted by wildcrdj at 6:31 PM on December 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Toot sweet!
posted by Divine_Wino at 6:32 PM on December 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I didn't really have a good recollection of Faze by name, but I feel like if you put on the glasses from They Live and read some of Faze's comments this is what they'd look like:

OBEY...................................
..........................SUBMIT.......
...............CONFORM.................
.......................................
WATCH TV...............................
...........................SLEEP.......
CONSUME APPLEBEES......................
...................MOVE TO A SMALL TOWN

posted by 2bucksplus at 6:32 PM on December 9, 2011 [37 favorites]


Ivan Fyodorovich, in my anecdotal experience, Suburban kids grow up to be adults who sing the praises of the Big City while City kids grow up to write peans to the Suburban life. I'd guess that Faze was the latter.
posted by lekvar at 6:34 PM on December 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


EB/IF, I always assumed your verbosity was beaten into you as a Johnnie.
posted by leotrotsky at 6:35 PM on December 9, 2011


I just think sigling out one user's history like this is creepy. Let's not do that.
posted by Dumsnill at 6:39 PM on December 9, 2011 [10 favorites]


Oooh oooh, I love "pretend to be a rebel by defending the thing that's actually incredibly popular." Now somebody link to the goddamn Mr. Rogers comment!
posted by drjimmy11 at 6:39 PM on December 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Really? Can you still recognize me?

When you returned, I immediately knew who you were.
posted by lalex at 6:39 PM on December 9, 2011


Speaking of "Slickly presented but utterly lacking in substance if you stop to think about it," anybody going to see the new Diablo Cody movie this weekend?
posted by drjimmy11 at 6:41 PM on December 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


No, I hate that 3D crap.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:42 PM on December 9, 2011


I love(d) Faze with a manly man-love. I hope he returns.
posted by unSane at 6:43 PM on December 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


What the fuck does a vegetarian eat at applebee's?
posted by spitbull at 6:43 PM on December 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


the potted ferns.
posted by jonmc at 6:44 PM on December 9, 2011 [12 favorites]


The same thing as everyone else there: crap.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:44 PM on December 9, 2011 [7 favorites]


Flair
posted by 2bucksplus at 6:46 PM on December 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


Guys, a couple things:

I don't mind a good troll.

they make you seem like Joey Ramone with laryngitis.

HA! Jon, you got jokes man, but that is an exceptional line, even for you, mazel!

Ivan Fyodorovich

When you were EB I could always tell it was you if I had to do more than three rolls of the scroll wheel (OLD SCHOOL!), always loved your comments and your presence and once again, glad you are back. Also yeah, somehow nowadays your verbosity back than doesn't stand out. Stronger fingers? More caffeine in the Starbucks? Better schools?

Not sure.

Love you guys, all of you.
posted by Divine_Wino at 6:47 PM on December 9, 2011 [6 favorites]


What the fuck does a vegetarian eat at applebee's?

America's hopes and dreams.
posted by hellojed at 6:51 PM on December 9, 2011 [20 favorites]


What the fuck does a vegetarian eat at applebee's?

TVP, HFC and hog slurry, same as in town. I wouldn't eat the parsley at an Applebee's if I was concerned about eating animal flesh.
posted by Divine_Wino at 6:54 PM on December 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Well, if nothing else, this post has made me realize that I've been confusing The Critic and Dr. Katz Faze and Fake all this time. It was a little dissonant, I will admit.
posted by mendel at 6:57 PM on December 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


You look at a painting and it's predominantly blue maybe and/or somewhat dark but just that one small splash of bright orange, maybe just off-center the painting, and it really makes the painting jump, sometimes it's what gives the painting its song. Often, case could be made that it makes the painting, yet you don't even realize that orange is there unless you look closely. Myself, orange isn't my very favorite color, but I know it's awfully damned important.
posted by dancestoblue at 6:58 PM on December 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


This is my favorite Metatalk post in months.
posted by Perplexity at 6:59 PM on December 9, 2011 [6 favorites]


This is my favorite Metatalk post in months.


yep that
posted by unSane at 7:00 PM on December 9, 2011


I miss Faze. I don't know why he left, but his comments always made me laugh, and if we have to have people around who espouse ideas that make my head explode they should be literate and entertaining about it.
posted by winna at 7:02 PM on December 9, 2011


DOKTORS FOR "FAZE."
posted by mintcake! at 7:10 PM on December 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


The bit about meat and corpse-grinders has made for some really excellent trollbait copypasta on /b/, so much so that I see it used by other people more than I used to myself.
posted by brownpau at 7:11 PM on December 9, 2011


"Ivan Fyodorovich, in my anecdotal experience, Suburban kids grow up to be adults who sing the praises of the Big City while City kids grow up to write peans to the Suburban life. I'd guess that Faze was the latter."

What do small town kids grow up to prefer?

Huh. I'd not really noticed that pattern. But my peer group is totally not my demographic cohort. My peers are pretty much the main MeFi crowd that hates suburbs. I spent a weekend with my three best friends from high school in September, and it was weird because I feel like I can't relate to them at all. They're middle-aged, married, with adult children, living in white, middle-class neighborhoods—one of them only a few blocks from me in this very suburban, cookie-cutter neighborhood (I live in an apartment complex that accepts Section 8 that's cleverly placed in the middle of a neighborhood which probably hates its existence here) in the largest house on the block, one of those McMansion types. He's somehow become a hard-core Republican who loves Dick Cheney.

And we all got together two years ago for our small town's 100th birthday celebration—all four of us were drummers in the high school marching band and the current band director thought it would be fun to get alumni together to march as a band in the parade. I couldn't because of my disability, but I rode alongside in a golf cart. (And I damn well practiced and played the cadence on the snare, just to prove that I could still do it.)

Anyway, the visit was surreal to me. My family wasn't from there and I have had no reason to visit. My family moved away actually before I did when my dad got a better job in (groan) Amarillo. And, you know, I hated that place during my adolescence and I saw no reason not to hate it now. It's a damn small town, with all the small town vices. (And one of the two most conservative counties in the state. It has voted GOP in every presidential election post-WWII, I think. Despite having the state's third largest university.)

True, I always admit and tell people that my young childhood was awesome. Very unrestricted, no locked doors, no real crime against children (out of the home, anyway), I spent all my time out of school playing outdoors with other kids, on bikes, wherever. That was great and the regimented childhoods that city/suburban kids live now sounds like a sort of prison sentence to me.

But for an adult? Or a teen? Jeez. I had a weird desire to set fire to the place in 2009. I am not nostalgic in the least. But I think my friends are. (Though this guy, frequently the fifth of our group, and the best dungeon master I ever heard of—I mean, hey, he placed freaking David Lee Roth in our dungeon, and Roth was secretely chaotic evil and betrayed our group. It was the only time the five of us played, and the only time I played D&D, but it was awesome and you'll never convince me anyone was a better DM than Derik. What was I saying? Yeah, I know that he isn't nostalgic for our home town. He subscribed to New Yorker when we were in high school. Now he lives in Manhattan. Like me, he couldn't wait to get the hell out. BTW, before becoming a WS analyst, he got his PhD and had his own lab, was published in Nature. But I think he prefers his current lifestyle. Although his time in grad school in NYC was a bit of a reality check for him and he found that he got claustrophobic at times for a few years. He'd go to MOMA just to get some quiet.)

Anyway, suburbs aren't really that safe, for anyone. Not like actual small towns are. And they're not so safe anymore, really, either. That's where half the meth labs are, these days.

I guess that I fulfill the stereotype because I have some difficulty imagining a city being too big for me. Though I've never lived in a truly large city. D/FW was the largest. I found Austin just about at the bottom limit in size for me, and it's grown pretty huge, really. ABQ is too small, it could use about three hundred thousand more people, really.

It was trivial, almost, to walk from one side of town to the other when I was growing up. You can imagine what the "big city" was always like for me. ABQ seemed huge when I was a kid, because that's where I was born and both sides of my family lived, I visited here often. And when I first move to a large city, especially one I've never really much been in? That sense of there being miles and miles of unknown city around you is one of my favorite feelings in my whole life. It feels like possibility.

Was that verbose enough for my reputation?

"EB/IF, I always assumed your verbosity was beaten into you as a Johnnie."

I think a lot of us are pretty verbose before we get there. It's a "talking" school, after all. I don't know why verbally shy people would ever go there, but it happens and it's weird. But, yeah, it didn't help. It certainly contributed to how I use language in terms of carefully qualifying what I say/write most of the time. And why I elaborate things far more than most people do, because details matter even more to me and being clear about stuff and whatnot. So it certainly made it worse, I guess.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 7:17 PM on December 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


I want Faze back.
posted by Afroblanco at 7:21 PM on December 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


The world is always ending everywhere.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:21 PM on December 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Here is the thing, for MetaTalk the contest is for posts you don't make.
posted by shothotbot at 7:21 PM on December 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


"What's wrong with the suburbs?" said Bell, sipping a nice merlot next to the fireplace, with a sleeping dog curled at his feet.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 7:23 PM on December 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


I mean, I always just assumed he was trolling the site, but he did it so well, and with such finesse, I couldn't help but appreciate it. Really, people misuse the term "troll" all the time. When I use that term in reference to Faze, I mean it in the most complimentary way that word can be used.

Seriously, I'd rather have like 10 Fazes than 10 Very Serious People Getting Verbosely Offended About Things.
posted by Afroblanco at 7:25 PM on December 9, 2011 [29 favorites]


I'd rather obliquely tell everyone they suck.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:27 PM on December 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'd rather obliquely tell everyone they suck.


Fuck oblique.
posted by unSane at 7:29 PM on December 9, 2011


I also liked about Faze that he concealed his identity so thoroughly. A few hints there but nothing that ever really gave you any hints without getting creepy.
posted by unSane at 7:31 PM on December 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I hate these New Years retrospectives.

Also, where are our ass-jittering cattle?
posted by peeedro at 7:37 PM on December 9, 2011


I mean, I always just assumed he was trolling the site, but he did it so well, and with such finesse, I couldn't help but appreciate it. Really, people misuse the term "troll" all the time. When I use that term in reference to Faze, I mean it in the most complimentary way that word can be used.

Word Boogie. Indeed. Yup. Ditto. True Dat. I agree.
posted by Divine_Wino at 7:38 PM on December 9, 2011


I was moderately disturbed that a person could hold the set of beliefs Faze professed for a while after I started noticing who he was when he posted. Eventually i realized, or chose to believe, that no one does, and then I started to read his comments like some early Herzog screed. Like that segment of his (Herzog's) talking about the obscenity of the jungle and how he finds no beauty in it and he's talking along and you're squinting at the words trying to figure out the thought process behind this, but then he gets to the part about, "the land God made in anger," and you get it and laugh because it's just so ludicrous and so overblown that either that's what you're supposed to do or that's all you can do.

I liked his comments. Maybe he's Werner Herzog.
posted by cmoj at 7:42 PM on December 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I hope to someday inspire a eulogy as complex as this metatalk post.
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 7:44 PM on December 9, 2011


Really? Can you still recognize me? I think I'm somewhat more concise on MeFi than I was before, but I also think that during my time as EB, my writing here changed, too.

Nope, I had no idea you'd reincarnated. But yeah, there were often times when I'd just see a comment on the page and recognize it as an Ethereal Bligh based on the shape it took. There are other commentors where I can do this, and I honestly only mentioned you because I didn't want to mention active users.
posted by LionIndex at 7:44 PM on December 9, 2011


I hope to someday inspire a eulogy as complex as this metatalk post.

Well, death would be the first step. I'm just saying. ;>
posted by jonmc at 7:45 PM on December 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I had no idea either. My favorite thing about this thread so far is my delight that both Divine_Wino and EB/IF are still around. Or around again.
posted by Miko at 7:48 PM on December 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


I took DW out of cold storage and reactivated him. It's the holidays, ya know?
posted by jonmc at 8:02 PM on December 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was moderately disturbed that a person could hold the set of beliefs Faze professed for a while after I started noticing who he was when he posted. Eventually i realized, or chose to believe, that no one does, and then I started to read his comments like some early Herzog screed. Like that segment of his (Herzog's) talking about the obscenity of the jungle and how he finds no beauty in it and he's talking along and you're squinting at the words trying to figure out the thought process behind this, but then he gets to the part about, "the land God made in anger," and you get it and laugh because it's just so ludicrous and so overblown that either that's what you're supposed to do or that's all you can do.

I liked his comments. Maybe he's Werner Herzog.



Sorry to be all up in this thread, long day, kinda hyper. Hi Miko! Been around, but still digging old home week here. I just kinda fell a little out of love watching Herzog's cave painting movie and his Antarctica movie back to back (At one point I addressed the TV and said "Come on, you're just being a dick man"). Too much of a good thing? I thought I was hardcore, but I guess we all do get old. Maybe I'm just now understanding Herzog.
posted by Divine_Wino at 8:07 PM on December 9, 2011


Well, he was a great manager during his days with the Royals.
posted by jonmc at 8:09 PM on December 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


I mean, I always just assumed he was trolling the site, but he did it so well, and with such finesse, I couldn't help but appreciate it.

I always think of trolling as it's used in fishing—you drag a string of baited hooks behind the boat and see what you get. Faze didn't troll as much as set a trotline.
posted by dogrose at 8:11 PM on December 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


Faze didn't troll as much as set a trotline.

Snoodfilter?
posted by unSane at 8:21 PM on December 9, 2011


"...and his Antarctica movie back to back"

I really liked that movie a lot.

I'm a little bit fascinated by Antarctica and particularly the culture at McMurdo and Amundsen-Scott. The Artist-in-Residence program there is very cool, it's produced as diverse things as Herzog's film and Kim Stanley Robinson's novel. I really liked Herzog's film in how it presented McMurdo from a very, um, naive or "fresh" viewpoint, and with Herzog's gentle wit.

Last year a friend-of-friends officiated at my best-friend's wedding and he had spent time down at McMurdo. Because of my interest, I was very impressed with this (despite the fact that he was the separated husband of my girlfriend at that time) and I tried to get him talking about his time there, but he really wouldn't, oddly. It's such an odd place. Deeply odd. And the people who are drawn there are also quite odd. It was a good fit for Herzog, really.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 8:25 PM on December 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Fuck oblique.

My favorite font!
posted by benito.strauss at 8:27 PM on December 9, 2011 [13 favorites]


Antarctica. Heh.
posted by jonmc at 8:27 PM on December 9, 2011


Hi, miko! Hi, everyone-who-didn't-know-I'm-me!
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 8:32 PM on December 9, 2011 [5 favorites]


I loved that Antarctica movie, too. I have a friend who's been there three times now I think, as an artist-in-residence.
posted by rtha at 8:41 PM on December 9, 2011


Ivan F.: "Hi, everyone-who-didn't-know-I'm-me!"

Funny thing: I knew you'd been here under a previous name, and without checking I just assumed you were EB. Then sometime yesterday I read a comment that made me wonder if you weren't SCDB returned, so I checked your profile this morning.

Sorry if that offends you ;-)
posted by Pinback at 8:54 PM on December 9, 2011


Yeah's it's a great film, really fucking cool to look at and the people are as awesome and bonkers as I expect, there's just some smart remarks in Herzog's narration and I'm not as limber in my sarcasm at the moment, gotta get back in the gym I guess.
posted by Divine_Wino at 8:54 PM on December 9, 2011


SCDB? Christ. You're kidding.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 9:14 PM on December 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, they were kidding. He's not Jesus.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:30 PM on December 9, 2011


"What's wrong with the suburbs?" said Bell, sipping a nice merlot next to the fireplace, with a sleeping dog curled at his feet.

Meanwhile, Fullerton cops beat a homeless man to death.
posted by eddydamascene at 9:35 PM on December 9, 2011


Hey! I went to Cal State Fullerton!

no, seriously, I did.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:56 PM on December 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I like Faze. I disagreed with him a lot, but he was bright and eloquent enough that I couldn't disagree without stopping to really think about subjects for the first time. It's all-too-rare that arguments spur thought the way his did. I wish more people commanded rhetoric like his.

I'll take a beautiful thinker and writer to a correct dullard any day. There are more important things than simply trying to be right about everything.
posted by Rory Marinich at 10:02 PM on December 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hey! I went to Cal State Fullerton!

Go Titans!
posted by malocchio at 10:14 PM on December 9, 2011


There are more important things than simply trying to be right about everything.

This should replace the text above the Post button on the Blue.
posted by auto-correct at 10:25 PM on December 9, 2011 [5 favorites]


I've always benn more of a cladivus supporter myself
posted by The Whelk at 10:34 PM on December 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


It was the little details. I would assume Faze was trolling, but then something like his evangelical vegetarianism - totally at odds with his persona - would come out, and I would have to wonder all over again. Ultimately, I think, probably not trolling, just exaggerating.
posted by smoke at 10:34 PM on December 9, 2011


It was the little details. I would assume Faze was trolling, but then something like his evangelical vegetarianism - totally at odds with his persona - would come out, and I would have to wonder all over again.

Classic tradecraft, small incongruities reinforce the main backstory.

Reading spy novels, watching Ronin on Netflix Instant, check it out, DeNiro says everything twice.
posted by Divine_Wino at 10:52 PM on December 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


Yoko Ono was not his favorite person, if I recall correctly.
posted by y2karl at 11:24 PM on December 9, 2011 [1 favorite]




How do I love thee, baby,
I'd like to count the ways
But all the reasons,
they keep going,
in and out of Faze.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 1:03 AM on December 10, 2011


Faze's comments aren't troll comments, they're little manifestos. They're as much meant to spur the reader to think something different than they usually as they are to be taken at their word. Nobody writes manifestos these days, certainly not around here, so whenever most people actually stumble across one they don't know what the hell to do with it.

I like anyone who doesn't write in house style.
posted by furiousthought at 1:28 AM on December 10, 2011 [6 favorites]


hmmmm having grown up on a ranch i detest both the suburbs and the city. They both lack free space and fresh air. Unfortunately for me I currently live in Connecticut.

I am sad faze left.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 2:37 AM on December 10, 2011


I'm also sad Faze left, but singling him out for attention like this is not cool and is kinda creepy.
posted by arcticseal at 2:43 AM on December 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


I haven't really noticed Faze (terrible with names). This is all a bit odd.
posted by Packed Lunch at 2:49 AM on December 10, 2011


Faze is a troll. Bless his heart.

Yes. Perhaps Faze didn't always abide by the groupthink. Bless your heart for sharing too.
posted by rain at 2:58 AM on December 10, 2011


He seems to be someone who doesn't like living in New York, therefore I have to suspect he's probably going to be wrong about a lot of other stuff too.
posted by Decani at 3:22 AM on December 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


When you deliberately choose to pend the rest of your life in the midwest, you get a little bit evangelical about it. I spend a lot of time defending Ohio to people I know who live places with better weather and/or Chinese restaurants that actually serve brown rice.

Also, it makes me feel a little smirky sometimes to explain to people that I could buy a house for $50k. We have to have some things to be smug about, those of us who live in the great in-the-middle.

And I do think the Olive Garden issue is frequently a class thing. I know it's not the best food around. It was also what counted as "birthday splurge" when I was a kid. I still like eating there.

I seemed to disagree with a bunch of his comments, too, of course. But I do have to give him one solid WTF: Cleveland weather, *stable*? I had class one day last year--university still open--that I fishtailed all the way down a relatively major road because it was solid ice, and have had multiple days in recent winters where I got up in the morning to have to somehow dislodge two inches of solid ice from my car, and the summers lately are either parched or flooded (I would not finish a basement here unless I knew I was on high ground), and we get like two nice days in the autumn and one in late spring. I still love it compared to living somewhere with no weather, but stable it is not. Yes, this is the one thing he ever wrote that made socialist me seriously raise eyebrows.
posted by gracedissolved at 3:33 AM on December 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yes, but he wasn't boring, which is a far worse crime that far more people are guilty of.

Amen brother, they should have a flag for it.

Welcome back EB.
posted by sgt.serenity at 4:26 AM on December 10, 2011


trying to be the Republican version of Hunter S. Thompson

Faze is PJ O'Rourke?!?
posted by Meatbomb at 5:15 AM on December 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


I thought it was verboten to make posts about people who have left the site. it's tacky, anyways.
posted by desjardins at 6:23 AM on December 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


This one seems to have worked out just fine. Not at all tacky.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 6:27 AM on December 10, 2011


New York would still be ugly, but at least it might be half bearable if one could visit it without all the New Yorkers.
posted by Rory Marinich at 6:32 AM on December 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm with tacky on this one.
posted by Forktine at 6:46 AM on December 10, 2011


New York would still be ugly, but at least it might be half bearable if one could visit it without all the New Yorkers.

Now that, ladies and gentlemen, that is trolling.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:52 AM on December 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


Now that, ladies and gentlemen, that is trolling.

Yeah, it's similar to saying "drummers aren't real musicians," right?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:21 AM on December 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


I didn't typically agree with what Faze had to say, but this "ha ha look at this guy he thinks different than us" garbage is far worse than anything he ever wrote, and is one of the shittiest uses of MeTa I can think of.
posted by modernnomad at 7:25 AM on December 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


I don't think this is what the post or any of the comments are saying modernnomad...

more like modernUmad amirite? ahaha...sorry

I really appreciated Faze's contributions because they were different and fascinating takes on conventional thinking. I once compared him to Allan Bloom, who (as an east coast Johnnie, Got Beef IF?) I am bound by law to respect despite his influence on various evil-con followers.

I miss Faze, and the early internet in general, where more anonymity and wildness meant more utter iconoclasts lurked around every corner.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:35 AM on December 10, 2011


Now that, ladies and gentlemen, that is trolling.

Yeah, it's similar to saying "drummers aren't real musicians," right?


Well, it would be, if drummers could read...
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 7:36 AM on December 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


Thanks for this post. Never really read Faze's stuff before.

To be honest, can't say I disagree with a lot of what he wrote.
posted by Argyle at 7:37 AM on December 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


So cortex got tired of the whole Faze troll he had going on? I knew it was cortex the whole time.
posted by fuq at 7:38 AM on December 10, 2011


It has struck me more than once that MetaFilter has a higher concentration of Johnnies than just about anywhere else I can think of. It makes sense, really. After all, it would be a fair descriptor to say that Johnnies major in Beanplating.
posted by stoneweaver at 7:50 AM on December 10, 2011


Of course drummers are real musicians, you're thinking of bassists.
posted by The Whelk at 7:52 AM on December 10, 2011


Croquet 2012 meetup?
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:53 AM on December 10, 2011


This post survived?
posted by cjorgensen at 7:53 AM on December 10, 2011


This is stupid. Do you guys think that because he's disabled his account that you've somehow won, or something? You do realize that anyone who disables their account can come back whenever they want to, right? And lavishing this much attention on a troll is exactly the sort of thing you do to make them want to come back for more, right?
posted by crunchland at 7:58 AM on December 10, 2011


I'm shocked this is still open. The takeaway message seems to be "If you have different opinions from most mefites we're going to make fun of you or call you a troll." I don't know if his opinions were sincerely held, but if I was inclined to agree with him, I'd sure be discouraged from posting here.

Mefi needs more diversity. It's too much of an echo chamber already.
posted by desjardins at 8:00 AM on December 10, 2011 [9 favorites]


Of course drummers are real musicians, you're thinking of bassists.

HEY
posted by mintcake! at 8:02 AM on December 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Raise your hand if you've brought 'ass-jittering cattle' into meatspace before. Extra points if you manage to do it with a contemptuous snarl. Seriously, it's fun.
posted by Think_Long at 8:02 AM on December 10, 2011


I'll bite....what are "Johnnies?"
posted by nevercalm at 8:06 AM on December 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


Of course drummers are real musicians, you're thinking of bassists.

Pipe down back there, tracer.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:14 AM on December 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


He's a good writer. He got me to read stuff I would ordinarily never read but with him I'd read every line.
posted by Danila at 8:28 AM on December 10, 2011


I think I have favorited some of those comments. I appreciate you bringing them to our attention. I don't really pay that much attention to who writes particular comments (except for a select few people) and faze had never stood out to me as an interesting member. But it's clear from this post ... he is (or, I should say, was).
posted by jayder at 8:29 AM on December 10, 2011


I find it odd that so many people are assuming that this post is sarcastic. The OP has already said otherwise.
posted by LogicalDash at 8:39 AM on December 10, 2011 [5 favorites]


stop being so Logical, Dash.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:43 AM on December 10, 2011


It's pretty clear that this post is a loving tribute, even if leotrotsky doesn't agree with faze.
posted by jayder at 8:45 AM on December 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


Is Logical Dash one of Anil's siblings?
posted by mr_crash_davis at 8:47 AM on December 10, 2011


A troll is, specifically, a person who engages in conversation with the intent of disrupting it. Since it's predicated on intent, you can never quite tell that a person's trolling--Poe's Law says they could be serious and write the same things.

Faze is an iconoclast. He attacks popular, established things. Perhaps he does so because they are popular and established; I don't know, it's plausible.

If he's a troll he's not actually very good at it. He inspires a lot of counterarguments, some of which are very angry, but he's always on topic and so are the replies, generally. He doesn't talk about other members of the site, and in fact rarely replies to anything, himself.

If this post is meant to make him feel unwelcome it will probably do the opposite.

If it's meant to celebrate his departure--I guess that's what people mean when they deem it "tacky"?--well, I don't see anything intrinsically wrong with it, although putting it on MetaChat would have been better. This post won't aid any conversations of the sort that MeFi is actually supposed to be for.

If highlighting a person's history is somehow intrinsically wrong then we shouldn't have those links on profile pages that take you to a person's comments. I don't think there's anything really wrong with it, although it is easy to derail a conversation this way.

I find this post's most plausible interpretation to be that of irreverent appreciation.
posted by LogicalDash at 8:48 AM on December 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


nope, not related to anil. I'm just looking to get promoted to Captain Obvious.
posted by LogicalDash at 8:49 AM on December 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm shocked this is still open.

leotrotsky has said he was sincere about posting it. We had to weigh, on balance, the downsides to leaving it open or closing it on a Friday night. None of the mods particularly like it, but MeTa isn't only for us. Not closing this post was us basically saying "Um okay...." If people start making this sort of post as a habit, we'll shut it down fairly quickly, but otherwise it seemed to be better to let it run its course.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:54 AM on December 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


EB/IF, I always assumed your verbosity was beaten into you as a Johnnie.

I once compared him to Allan Bloom, who (as an east coast Johnnie

MetaFilter has a higher concentration of Johnnies


Might I be a 'Johnnie" and not know it? What constitutes johnnie-ness?
posted by readery at 8:57 AM on December 10, 2011


I, for one, appreciate a retrospective about such a prolific and interesting former member. I dove into the links expecting to get my outrage on but instead discovered a truly interesting personality. I also don't read the discussion about Faze that followed as insulting to him. He held views and expressed them in a way that invites analysis, and hopefully thoughtfully.

Thanks, leotrotsky.
posted by TheNewWazoo at 8:58 AM on December 10, 2011 [5 favorites]


I think Johnnie refers to people who have studied at St Johns College.
posted by bardophile at 9:01 AM on December 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


I appreciate the mods keeping the thread open even if they don't personally care for it.

I would also point out (re the 'creepy' comments) that had not Faze been so assiduous in his anonymity, I would not have made the post.
posted by leotrotsky at 9:02 AM on December 10, 2011


Of course drummers are real musicians, you're thinking of bassists.

The lowest of the low!

Faze represented the antithesis of everything I believe in, but usually presented it in an interesting enough way that I actually looked forward to his unique little monographs. My biggest complaint would be that he never, ever engaged in conversation. He'd just drop his thing right there, usually right up front, then sit back while we all collectively lost our minds. Kinda the definition of threadshitting, and that put me off a bit. He could sure turn a phrase, though.
posted by Devils Rancher at 9:06 AM on December 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


St. John's College

I desperately wanted to attend myself, but my parents considered it 'impractical'.

So I majored in philosophy.
posted by leotrotsky at 9:08 AM on December 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


To be clear I was also sincere: I miss Faze immensely, even if I found him infuriating sometimes.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 9:18 AM on December 10, 2011


I don't see what's so iconoclastic about being (or presenting yourself as) a white, middle-class, white-collar guy who lives in the suburbs and likes living there, who hates rap music and thinks if you don't have what he has it's all your fault and you should just bootstrap already. Voicing these opinions on metafilter isn't all the common, but it doesn't make you some kind of daring rebel, on the Internet or in meatspace.
posted by rtha at 9:45 AM on December 10, 2011 [11 favorites]


I appreciate a user whose comments, as a whole, are informed by a coherent worldview. This post got me perusing faze's comments and I find them coherent in this way. Whether you agree with them or not (and there's much to agree with in them, frankly, even though I disagree with his conclusions in many cases), they are profitable reading in a way that lots of members' comments are not. They have a kind of Benjamin Franklin quality to them. You can think that Franklin's writing and worldview is repugnant while still recognizing that it is worth reading and considering.

And his careful, precise limning of the suburbs reminds me of Walker Percy's The Moviegoer.
posted by jayder at 10:26 AM on December 10, 2011


I mean, I always just assumed he was trolling the site, but he did it so well, and with such finesse, I couldn't help but appreciate it.

This is true. I come to praise, not bury, Faze. Our late comrade's talent lay not in the mulletheaded attitudes s/he usually espoused, but in the wit s/he dressed them in. Ugly as the implicit attitude behind "ass-jittering cattle" might be taken to be, the phrase still makes me laugh. If Faze wasn't Metafilter's Herzog, then s/he was our Archie Bunker, at least.

I don't really "miss" Faze (because it's, like, the internet), but s/he did entertain me.
posted by octobersurprise at 10:54 AM on December 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


crunchland: Do you guys think that because he's disabled his account that you've somehow won, or something? You do realize that anyone who disables their account can come back whenever they want to, right? And lavishing this much attention on a troll is exactly the sort of thing you do to make them want to come back for more, right?

What makes you so sure he disabled his own account?

I miss his username showing up in my sidebar when he'd receive more than twelve favourites. I knew with almost certainty that comment was going to be well written, and either make me smile, or at least think about a point of view I'd never considered before.
posted by gman at 11:31 AM on December 10, 2011


In the end, we're all trolling.
posted by spitbull at 12:01 PM on December 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


LogicalDash: " If he's a troll he's not actually very good at it. He inspires a lot of counterarguments, some of which are very angry, but he's always on topic and so are the replies, generally. He doesn't talk about other members of the site, and in fact rarely replies to anything, himself."

He had a habit of making a single incendiary comment in threads that derailed them all to hell, and not returning. While there's something to be said for refusing to perpetuate a shitstorm, there's also something to be said for not initiating 'em in the first place, and then not reply when a bunch of people respond to you in good faith.
posted by zarq at 2:32 PM on December 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


spitbull: "What the fuck does a vegetarian eat at applebee's"

Beer.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 2:36 PM on December 10, 2011


spitbull: "What the fuck does a vegetarian eat at applebee's"

Beer.


What about the wee yeasties?
posted by shothotbot at 2:43 PM on December 10, 2011


Yes. Perhaps Faze didn't always abide by the groupthink. Bless your heart for sharing too.
posted by rain at 5:58 AM on December 10 [+] [!]


Just to be clear for the thick of head: I've posted that exact comment a few times "Faze is a troll." I actually liked faze contributions for the reasons others have mentioned, I enjoy good performance art/piss taking, I also always appreciate it when people point out that I might not be getting the joke. Anyway, this is silly and so on, glad to see all the old homies out and about.
posted by Divine_Wino at 2:57 PM on December 10, 2011


Personal foul against leotrotsky: taunting; 15 yards; repeat first down.

The question here is have you ever, or do you know anyone who ever had the experience of looking at something they wrote from a couple or three or four years ago and groaning in agonizing embarrassment? It does happen and it is a common occurrence. Even if you intend your calling attention to the guy is purely well-intended they still might not like it. The guy nuked his account and for all we know he's still here brand new day style and would just as soon not be reminded of his previous incarnation. May be like those photos of you when you were in high school with a horrific haircut and stupid looking dated clothes.
posted by bukvich at 3:05 PM on December 10, 2011


What constitutes johnnie-ness?

The Tao of Steve is apparently a half-decent thumbnail sketch.
posted by Lazlo at 3:34 PM on December 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


I actually rent my garments asunder, so outraged was I that this thread was open.
posted by sgt.serenity at 3:47 PM on December 10, 2011


Just to be clear for the thick of head: I've posted that exact comment a few times "Faze is a troll."

Just to be clear for the self-absorbed: how would I know?
posted by rain at 3:51 PM on December 10, 2011


Anyway while we're on the subject of suburbia and sprawl and so on - I only bother listening to the arcade fire in the winter, it really is a most excellent album.
posted by sgt.serenity at 3:52 PM on December 10, 2011


What makes you so sure he disabled his own account? --- Because, aside from spammers, people aren't banned all that often, and when they are, there's usually a great deal of gnashing of teeth here in Metatalk.
posted by crunchland at 3:58 PM on December 10, 2011


i hope wherever he is, he's doing better

people don't usually troll or whatever like that if they dont have some kind of mood disorder
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 4:21 PM on December 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Voicing these opinions on metafilter isn't all the common, but it doesn't make you some kind of daring rebel

I didn't say he was a daring rebel. I said he was an iconoclast. He habitually attacks popular ideas.

He had a habit of making a single incendiary comment in threads that derailed them all to hell, and not returning.

A single comment is called a threadshit, not a derail. The distinction is important here because in order to hold Faze responsible for the whole derail you'd have to hold him responsible for what everyone else's failure to continue with the conversation as it was, rather than for provoking some incensed rebuttals. Rebuttals aren't derails. Thread-long arguments are.
posted by LogicalDash at 5:54 PM on December 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


LogicalDash: "A single comment is called a threadshit, not a derail. The distinction is important here because in order to hold Faze responsible for the whole derail you'd have to hold him responsible for what everyone else's failure to continue with the conversation as it was, rather than for provoking some incensed rebuttals. Rebuttals aren't derails. Thread-long arguments are."

Sorry, perhaps I wasn't clear. I do hold him responsible for that, because I am convinced from his pattern of commenting behavior on MeFi that he was deliberately trolling us.

He would make a single comment which seemed carefully and pointedly phrased to infuriate people. Some would respond in outrage. Some would try to clarify his meaning. Some would ask him follow-up questions or argue against the points he made. He would then not return to the thread.

His single comment would act as a flashpoint for a complete derail. There are other one or two other people on MeFi who do this on a regular basis, and I also think of them as predictable trolls.
posted by zarq at 6:03 PM on December 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ehhh... none of that sounds like a derail, to me. Perhaps I have lower expectations of threads than you do.
posted by LogicalDash at 6:14 PM on December 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Possibly! I admit my expectations might also be unreasonable, too. :)

To be honest, I really enjoyed reading his comments, since they were often quite artfully written. But after noticing his pattern (or had it pointed out to me?) I didn't respond to them any more, because they frequently seemed to provoke big, pointless arguments. Why perpetuate the situation?

I sort of feel we all have a responsibility to at least try to participate in the conversation here in good faith, you know?
posted by zarq at 6:29 PM on December 10, 2011


A single comment is called a threadshit, not a derail.

This may depend on what other sites you've been on. On MeFi a single comment can be flagged as a derail so I think people can be in the habit of thinking of an individual comment, occasionally, as derailing. faze's definitely fit the bill.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:33 PM on December 10, 2011


Right Jess, we get that you didnt particularly like faze - so why don't you quit trying to derail this thread yourself ?

Honestly, it really is tiresome watching you constantly trying to manipulate and control people on this site.

If you don't like whats being said, TOUGH - dont' us your wee digs, hints and puppies suddenly turning up in thread.

Honestly, you have done more damage to this site than faze ever did.
posted by sgt.serenity at 7:45 PM on December 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sgt.serenity, I think that comment is well out of order and I'd appreciate it if you didn't keep dropping in to harangue the mods. Not constructive at all. Please be civil or consider not posting at all.
posted by arcticseal at 8:02 PM on December 10, 2011 [14 favorites]


"'The Tao of Steve' is apparently a half-decent thumbnail sketch."

Ah...I hope not.

By all accounts, Duncan North is a great guy and well loved by those who know him. And I'm sure that his screenplay and the film is pretty accurate to his life in many respects.

But I really am not comfortable with that being a presentation of what a johnny is like.

Because it's in many ways exactly the worst result of that education I can imagine. That character reduces his erudition to nothing more than quips that demonstrates that he's educated and to prove he's witty. Someone once said that the worst thing a SJC education could do is merely make one impressive at cocktail party conversation. (To those who don't know, there is only one course of study offered at SJC, it's basically reading all the most important works in the western canon. This isn't just on the literature and philosophy side, but there's also four years of math and three of science, using the original works there, as well. And there's one year of music.)

In other ways, "Dex" and the film's milieu does capture something of what it's like to be a johnny at the Santa Fe campus.

Another unflattering, but partly accurate, presentation of a johnny is—a lot of johnnies don't know this, and no wonder—is Ralph Fiennes as Charles Van Doren in Redford's Quiz Show. His father, Mark Van Doren was good friends with Mortimer Adler, and they were both involved in the establishment of the New Program at SJC in 1939, and with the college after. Charles graduated from SJC and went on to get a MS in Astrophysics from Columbia, then a PhD in English, also at Columbia. This combination of degrees is very johnny-like. As is his being very unworldly.

The annual croquet match against the Naval Academy (which is across the street from the Annapolis campus) is pretty revealing, as well as being a hilarious contrast between the Middies and the johnnies.

A pretty good article about how all the instructors are expected to (eventually) teach every class in the program appeared a couple of months ago at the NYT. Novelist Salvatore Scibona wrote a nice little essay for New Yorker that appeared in June, titled "Where I learned to Read".
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 8:09 PM on December 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


Honestly, it really is tiresome watching you constantly trying to manipulate and control people on this site.

It's more tiresome to see you keep periodically working this weird shitty personal grudge you have against Jess in metatalk as if there's some secret terrible thing going down that only you are daring enough to speak up about. This is not the first time by far you've injected this into a random thread and it's honestly kind of fucked up; last time we talked about it privately you said you were going to cut it out, and yet here we are again.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:37 PM on December 10, 2011 [10 favorites]


Everybody, set your Fazers to stun.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:54 PM on December 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


You come across as a bit creepy, sgt.serenity. Least to mention you've likely just derailed this thread with your weird anti-jessamin rant.
posted by Packed Lunch at 8:54 PM on December 10, 2011


why don't you quit trying to derail this thread yourself

It's explicitly Jessamyn's job (and all of us mods' job) to be present in metatalk and discuss site issues, culture, and problems. Sometimes that means answering a specific question that's orthogonal to the initial discussion in the thread. Metatalk threads are usually astonishingly resilient and handle multiple discussion threads well. And getting those questions or concerns addressed is, again, our job.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 9:28 PM on December 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


trying to derail this thread

Since this is specifically the place for admin to answer questions or offer clarification, this isn't exactly an issue.

dont' us your wee digs, hints and puppies suddenly turning up in thread

I also have to correct this idea. I'm now in charge of manipulating and controlling people with puppies, and restless has taken over digs or hints, I can't remember which.

But seriously Sarge, this was mean and crappy, and ultimately just really, really puzzling. I think you have hold of the wrong end of the stick with whatever you feel the problem is. From my end I can see what happens on the mod side, and there's an absolutely stark difference between what you seem to be imagining and how things are.
posted by taz (staff) at 10:03 PM on December 10, 2011


Faze was not a troll.

I think what he did in many threads was like what I used to do in Louis CK threads, where I'd drop in and explain why I don't think Louis CK is very funny. Because I felt some deep opposition to allow the thread to go on as if everybody loved Louis CK and thought he was a great genius. I had to make myself known.

And what I had to say was sincerely felt; but then the thread becomes, either in full or in part, a boring one about whether Louis CK is funny, instead of an interesting one where people who really care about Louis CK talk about the deep structure of Louis CK.

I think it bugged Faze that there were whole threads devoted to working through the finer points of arguments that started from beliefs he didn't share at all. He felt he had to make himself known -- to make it public that not everyone was on board. Having done so there was not much more to say, which is why I think he didn't stick around in those threads to debate.

I now feel it's not worth it for me to comment in Louis CK threads. And if half of MetaFilter were Louis CK threads, and thus a large segment of my experience reading the site consisted of fighting off (and occasionally giving in to) impulses to declare my contrary stance, I would probably disable my account too.
posted by escabeche at 10:25 PM on December 10, 2011 [8 favorites]


Also, he's right about floss.
posted by escabeche at 10:27 PM on December 10, 2011


Well, yeah. If you don't floss you're fucking disgusting.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:37 PM on December 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think it bugged Faze that there were whole threads devoted to working through the finer points of arguments that started from beliefs he didn't share at all. He felt he had to make himself known -- to make it public that not everyone was on board. Having done so there was not much more to say, which is why I think he didn't stick around in those threads to debate.

It's the assumption that there was " not much more to say", though, that's the crux of the matter, as far as I'm concerned. There was often plenty more to say. But ultimately Faze's one-stop/never-to-return thread comments were often a kind of "fuck you" to the community. On so many of the occasions in which he dropped his one-comment bomb, there were people who genuinely wanted to engage him in conversation. I know, I was often one of those people. But the fact that he would never come back to engage in any way, to elaborate, to discuss, to elucidate, whatever, that fact ultimately led me to believe that he really held the community in very low esteem.

I have no problem with people disagreeing with me, and I was quite often impressed with various pronouncements of his that I didn't agree with. He was a smart and interesting guy, and a good writer. But the fact that he didn't respect me (or anyone else at this site) enough to go deeper into conversations, ever, is what ultimately led me to stop trying to engage with him, and to lose interest in what he had to say.

In that regard, I'm glad he's gone, cause that shit got to be a fucking drag.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 10:40 PM on December 10, 2011 [6 favorites]


I just assumed that Faze was a Mayor Curley persona.
posted by Kwine at 11:45 PM on December 10, 2011


I had always assumed that Faze's comments were an elaborate performance. I really enjoyed them, but not the way people took them at face value. I often wished that his name would have a tiny image of a jester's hat or perhaps a pig bladder on a stick next to it. It's a shame he's not here any more. I miss him.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 12:03 AM on December 11, 2011


If you don't like whats being said, TOUGH - dont' us your wee digs, hints and puppies suddenly turning up in thread.

This sentence makes no sense.

Digs are (generally) negative, hints are (usually) positive and puppies are very positive, unless they're chewing on the furniture. Is Jessamyn releasing puppies into threads, so they chew on the stuff, is that it? If so, what's kind of puppies are they? Can we place orders? If so, a brown lab would be nice, with blue racing stripes on the side.

Sarge, can you clarify what you're saying?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:12 AM on December 11, 2011


Sarge, can you clarify what you're saying?

I'm thinking that in honor of the Faze approach, he won't.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:27 AM on December 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


To be fair, Sargey seemed a little frustrated during fingerpainting so he might have gone down for an early nap.

Faze worked the magic at a very high level. People who got mad mostly got that way because he was bucking their idea of community by writing wild and even antagonistic dissent and then leaving. But what they don't seem to realize is that such thoughts put him outside that community in the first place, so the community would then counterattack or complain about the breach, isolate the unacceptable and limit the contagion.

This isn't to say it was all part of some teachable moment. Faze was certainly in it for laughs. But he was one of the old-school internet entertainers, getting a laugh out of the web. You can still see these hams sometimes, but mostly they've given up, as their audience is gone, replaced by earnest people who want safe spaces to discuss actual facts with traceable and scrupulously honest interlocutors.

I admire a good troll when I see one. It's a specific kind of writing meant to elicit a strong response, and when it works, it's pure gold. Many people mistakenly think the content of their hearts or minds is enough to make for good writing. Clarity takes imagination. Sometimes in a group, there's so much agreement that excellent opinion pieces are lost in the churning muck.

But the skill in perceiving a good trolling spot, baiting that hook with the juiciest garbage, then piloting slowly away while the big fish snap at it, well, who can blame him for not reeling it in? Only one fish really took the bait, the rest are just snapping at the blood, mud, and oily bits. A bunch of fish clamoring, "You come back here, you're part of this community" is as false a promise as was the bait in the first place. They might as well shout, "Not fair! You needed to bring enough bait for everyone!"

Eventually the site and the larger internet became more serious and accountable, and Faze left. Seems to me like he did himself and Metafilter a favor. I've always had it in me to grin and think I'm not touching that with a bargepole, but I know I don't speak for others. I enjoyed trolling the primordial waters but we've all evolved since then. I've adapted and shed my skin a few times, and maybe Faze has too.

I'm sure the new internet is chock full of former trolls, some of whom even regret such activity. Some of those former trolls may be loudest among the crowd clamoring for response and accountability. There's no zealot more fervent than the convert.

I'm glad there are vast silences to disappoint them. You get what you get, and you don't deserve anything more. Plus, it's funny to watch the frenzy. Sometimes the little fishes eat each other.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 7:18 AM on December 11, 2011 [7 favorites]


I think it bugged Faze that there were whole threads devoted to working through the finer points of arguments that started from beliefs he didn't share at all.

The hardest thing I've had to learn going from a lurker to a contributor is dealing with this. I get the same feeling in some of the religion threads. So I've had to learn to just not comment. Or, having commented, to remove it from my "Recent Activity" immediately.
posted by benito.strauss at 7:56 AM on December 11, 2011


earnest people who want safe spaces to discuss actual facts with traceable and scrupulously honest interlocutors

But that is almost always an illusion! Writing is a construct! When people send off these little two-sentence to four-paragraph-or-so missives to the internet they're usually holding some cards to their chest! Whether by planning, propriety or simple incompetence! The mode of communication you have chosen is not the best, it's just easy to follow along with!

How many people think you can actually tell important things about relationship AskMe questions by spotting subtle ways they phrased things, vs. those who think it's just a fun exercise. If you think you can always tell, how many times do you talk to someone in person and they have a completely different affect than they do when they write.
posted by furiousthought at 8:17 AM on December 11, 2011


But that is almost always an illusion! Writing is a construct! When people send off these little two-sentence to four-paragraph-or-so missives to the internet they're usually holding some cards to their chest!

Sure. The same is true at a fundamental level for speech as well, and for communicative performance in general; absolutely unmediated, unmoderated, complete and unambiguous communication of thought and intent and heart-of-hearts feelings is the exceptional case, not the rule, for any number of reasons.

But we can aspire generally toward straightforward or honest or non-manipulative conversation even with the understanding that it won't be a clear bright beam of light zapping from one brain to the next, with the understanding that not everybody is going to want to lay out everything about them when they have a conversation on one topic or another.

There's a difference between keeping a couple cards close to your vest because you don't want people to know you're fucking with them and keeping them close because you're not comfortable talking about one or another personal detail in a conversation where it doesn't feel relevant or necessary or even just socially appropriate to bare your soul there.

Intent matters an awful lot, and of course intent is hard to ferret out if it's not forthcoming from the actor, but at a certain point if someone's intent is constantly in question because of a pattern of problematic behavior and a lack of any sort of mitigating action or clarification on their part, that's a really different situation from just not knowing for sure that you know where someone's coming from in a one-off situation.

It's partly because text-mediated conversation is a low-bandwidth channel of communication that there's a lot of value in aspiring to have reasonably honest and straightforward discourse as a general expectation. And I think that's the general, if not really the universal, expectation and aspiration around here: that people won't be fucking with each other, that this is a place people come because they want to be able to have a conversation without constantly wondering if the person they're talking to is just being an asshole for the pleasure of being an asshole or intentionally refusing to have a conversation on the level.

It's not the only possible sort of discursive dynamic, obviously, but it's been pretty much the core dynamic on this site for ages. Plenty of snark and sarcasm and bits of posturing ladled into the mix, sure, but at the end of the day it's people trying to have something resembling honest, adult conversations with each other. It can't be perfect, certainly not with tens of thousands of people in the mix, but we can try.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:40 AM on December 11, 2011 [10 favorites]


I'm still convinced that Faze was cortex's sockpuppet and now I know why: so cortex could drop that bit of wisdom.
posted by fuq at 8:56 AM on December 11, 2011


Now I understand.

Jessamyn lets puppies loose in various threads and then gives them hints on where to dig for bottles of whiskey.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:19 AM on December 11, 2011


If they needed hints on where to dig for smelly booze then they would be pretty useless dogs. The puppies that can't find the bottles get deep fried and served at meetups.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:15 AM on December 11, 2011


if someone's intent is constantly in question because of a pattern of problematic behavior and a lack of any sort of mitigating action or clarification on their part

I truly don't get why Faze's intent would be in question, unless it's because people are unable to imagine that he actually believes what he says he believes. But that would be a grievous failure of imagination.

And yes, I did just comment in the current Louis CK thread, but I totally kept my mouth shut about LCK himself!
posted by escabeche at 10:55 AM on December 11, 2011


MetaFilter and New York City are both better off without this threadshitting asshole.
posted by Now I'm Prune Tracy! at 11:23 AM on December 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't think there's anything wrong with posting a contrary opinion and then not taking part in the ensuing argument. I mean, if you've said all you have to say on the subject, no point in repeating yourself.

To my mind, a "threadshit" is mainly characterized by lack of thought or reasoning, e.g. the classic "this sucks" comment. Faze's comments were typically well-written, and it was clear he put some thought into them. So, to my mind, no foul.
posted by Afroblanco at 12:04 PM on December 11, 2011


The puppies that can't find the bottles get deep fried and served at meetups.

Dag! I thought she said "hushpuppies!"
posted by jonmc at 12:12 PM on December 11, 2011


I always thought Faze believed what he said. As to the how and why, I know not. I just saw him as an organic whole with the contrarian musical tastes of, say, an R. Crumb, expanded globally in all directions to all topics. I saw his nastiness a product of how much he hated everything. That he was anything but totally sincere when he would call this or that well known woman with various well known political beliefs a 'prostitute,' that he wrote things like that for the shits and giggles of jerking the liberals around, that makes him seem creepier than I originally envisioned.

As for, speaking of creepy, a thread admiring him for the art of his invective, this would seem to be a more appropriate location.
posted by y2karl at 12:51 PM on December 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Faze was not a troll.

Sometimes yes, sometimes no? There were comments form him that were thoughtful, but I'm not sure why everyone seems to be forgetting how he'd turn up and drop one of the first comments in a thread, often before anyone was likely to have finished reading the links, often only tangentially related to the substance of the post, and drop some one-liner nonsense about trickle-down economics or some such that was sure to set people off and made no damned sense at all. I don't think Faze always participated in good faith and sometimes liked to just set off a shitstorm for kicks.
posted by Hoopo at 2:51 PM on December 11, 2011


Maybe Faze didn't know how to use Recent Activity.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:52 PM on December 11, 2011

I think it bugged Faze that there were whole threads devoted to working through the finer points of arguments that started from beliefs he didn't share at all. He felt he had to make himself known -- to make it public that not everyone was on board. Having done so there was not much more to say, which is why I think he didn't stick around in those threads to debate.
This feels like it to me, because I can relate.

Metafilter members often, often takes for granted certain viewpoints that I completely disagree with. There will be a flippant, boldly-stated comment with 40 favorites, and anyone who comes in and disagrees is shouted down by the mob.

Personally, I'm mostly too tired of it to bother posting responses anymore, but when I do, they're considered and well thought-out, to try to breach the divide between my opinion, and the way the thread is going. Faze on the other hand, took the approach of writing the comment that people who agreed with him would read, and say "Fuck yeah!" and favorite.

When you think of it that way, there's it explains a lot, doesn't it? He's not trying to convince the majority of posters in the thread who disagree with him, and he's not trying to argue with them, he's just stating an opinion to give those that disagree something to hang on to.
posted by !Jim at 2:56 PM on December 11, 2011 [2 favorites]

I'm sure the new internet is chock full of former trolls, some of whom even regret such activity. Some of those former trolls may be loudest among the crowd clamoring for response and accountability. There's no zealot more fervent than the convert.
yeah it is the worst
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 3:12 PM on December 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've had a variety of feelings about Faze over my time on MetaFilter. Sometimes, I thought he was a troll, but he put a lot of thought into his screeds. I think I currently side with flapjax at midnite's thoughts:
I have no problem with people disagreeing with me, and I was quite often impressed with various pronouncements of his that I didn't agree with. He was a smart and interesting guy, and a good writer. But the fact that he didn't respect me (or anyone else at this site) enough to go deeper into conversations, ever, is what ultimately led me to stop trying to engage with him, and to lose interest in what he had to say.
He dropped pennies on the rails of the discussion, maybe to watch the resulting wreckage from the sidelines, or perhaps just to make his thoughts known, never looking back. His comments, intentionally or otherwise, had the potential to derail discussions. But he never joined back in, to increase the noise (as you would expect for a troll), or try to elaborate on his thoughts (as a considerate member of a community would). Either he was a puppet crafted for random contrarian mayhem, which I doubt, unless his MetaTalk thread he posted was actually crafted to expand the persona of Faze the puppet, and in which case, that's some serious dedication to puppetcraft - he even replied twice within the MetaTalk thread!
posted by filthy light thief at 5:04 PM on December 11, 2011


Yes, but he wasn't boring, which is a far worse crime that far more people are guilty of.

But he was boring. Too much of anything always is, and I'd had too much of him from day one.
posted by Sys Rq at 5:53 PM on December 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


So that's where 'ass-jittering cattle' comes from!
posted by the man of twists and turns at 6:32 PM on December 11, 2011


I remember when he argued that Stephen King was the greatest author alive.

Good times.
posted by bardic at 8:15 PM on December 11, 2011


y2karl: As for, speaking of creepy, a thread admiring him for the art of his invective, this would seem to be a more appropriate location.

As a heads-up- I don't remember how firm the "no-linking-to-Stormfront" rule is here, but though it isn't immediately obvious from that thread alone, delving into it a bit more reveals that that forum is easily the equivalent of Stormfront as far as racism (and basically every other -ism you can think of) goes. (Specifically, it's sort of like if a bunch of ultra-rightist white supremacists decided to make their own version of Something Awful or 4chan, because that's just the thing the internet needed.) As I say I don't remember how strict that rule is or if it applies to similar sites to Stormfront as well, but anyone thinking of following that link might want to be aware of that. And now I am off to take a shower.

Anyway, I don't really feel like threads like this are that great an idea, but as long as this is here - one thing I noticed was a running theme in Faze's comments was that he was a total pacifist who saw the taking of life as wrong, always and absolutely. This actually seemed to be one of the most fundamental components of his belief system (which always struck me being sincerely held- I think to the extent you could put a label on his worldview, he was more or less a Tolstoyan), and I always wished he'd discuss it in further depth, (as that's a point of view which is really pretty rare, and which I respect greatly but don't share), but the whole never-following-up thing he did meant that this never happened. But the evangelical vegetarianism wasn't actually at odds with his persona at all, from all I could tell- he was just really consistent about being pro-life. I rarely agreed with him and on occasion he would say something outright revolting, but he definitely had a way with words, and I think we'd all be a lot better off if the American right tended more towards views like his than those like, well, basically any of the current Republican presidental nominees.
posted by a louis wain cat at 10:19 PM on December 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


I assumed it was some sort of free republican range deal but really did not examine the site beyond that page. Still, consider the source -- maybe they, too, thought Faze sincere.

With my interests in music, I have met more than one person in real life who can, when drunk, turn into the functional equivalent of Faze and say the most outrageous things in the most offensive way about the most sensitive of topics, race being first and foremost, who, when confronted, can then do a 180 Hyde into Jekyll while unctuously protesting his utter progressive innocence.

But the way they take it to the line and just over and then deploy the fog machines when called on it, it's all very sneaky and sadistic. It's sort of like the brother-in-law who can starts spouting racist nonsense ala Limbaugh at dinner -- just to ruin an otherwise imperfectly tolerable family visit. I often wonder how much of it with them is conscious and how much is unconscious, how much is intentionally malicious and how much some is sort of moral Tourette syndrome, where they just feel compelled to say the worst possible thing that can still be gotten away with.

Now, upon reflection, and after following some of the links here, I find the whole concept of Faze's sincerity to be rather quaint and unbelievable. Which means the less time spent paying attention to him the better, so nuff said...
posted by y2karl at 11:03 PM on December 11, 2011


Faze's FPPs were pretty obviously in good faith as were his answers in AskMe (at least the ones that weren't deleted, if any were). As far as I can see he was guilty mostly of expressing heterodox opinions in a colourful manner and then not sticking round to take his lickings.

Frankly, who can blame him? There would have been a lot more whining and gnashing of teeth if he had stuck around to rebut every comment that was made against him.

His contributions stopped abruptly with no flameout. He had been a member since 2001 and I see no reason at all to doubt his sincerity when he said he liked MetaFilter.

It's not entirely impossible, given his anonymity, that he died.
posted by unSane at 6:04 AM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Or sloughed his skin and slid back in as someone else.
posted by pracowity at 7:00 AM on December 12, 2011


unSane: "Faze's FPPs were pretty obviously in good faith as were his answers in AskMe (at least the ones that weren't deleted, if any were). As far as I can see he was guilty mostly of expressing heterodox opinions in a colourful manner and then not sticking round to take his lickings."

Perhaps. But he was also flat out wrong in his assertions more than once. At times, glaringly so.

When that happened, he wasn't speaking truth to power. He was saying something that deserved correction.
posted by zarq at 8:01 AM on December 12, 2011


Well, so what? you disagreed with him and had the opportunity to correct him. It happens.
posted by unSane at 8:39 AM on December 12, 2011


unSane: "Well, so what? you disagreed with him and had the opportunity to correct him. It happens."

You're characterizing him as someone who was mostly excoriated for disagreeing with the majority. I have no doubt that sometimes happened. Am just saying that it wasn't only that, and gave an example why.

The larger picture is that Faze was a classic drive-by / hit-and-run poster, and his comment there was more of the same.

We're a discussion forum. No one should be forced to comment, of course. But it seems bad form to be constantly in "broadcast mode."
posted by zarq at 9:27 AM on December 12, 2011


Zarq, you gave an example of you strongly disagreeing with him and in a subsequent post fully explaining why. I'm not sure what the problem is.

By the way, would one of the mods be willing to clear up the matter raised by gman above of whether Faze's account was disabled voluntarily or not?
posted by unSane at 9:32 AM on December 12, 2011


Sorry, I thought we already had upthread or I would have done so already. We'd given him a timeout after a recent flareup of flagbait stuff, and were trying to talk to him about trying to make some sort of change so that this sort of crappy driveby fight-starting thing didn't just constantly keep happening. That went nowhere, with Faze basically asserting that nothing was wrong and nothing had to change and being non-responsive to us trying to get him to meet us halfway on it, and so we left it at that and converted the timeout to a full ban.

If we hear from him at some point in the long run and he wants to talk about giving things another shot, we'll see about it then. For now, we haven't heard anything from him since July.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:04 AM on December 12, 2011


Sure. We had a long back and forth email conversation with him after one of the more wtf-inspiring comments he left. We explained that people were viewing him as a troll and as someone not invested in the community and we were getting to the point where if he was not trolling the community, it was now time for him to either be a little more interactive or be a little more thoughtful about the way he made his comments/posts. We explained that his participation, while loved by some people, was also strongly disliked and problematic to a lot of other people, a large enough number that we were having a discussion with him about how to manage that. His replies to us basically did not seem to even see what we were seeing, much less agree to move towards a less-problematic way of interacting with the community. So we said if he wanted to talk to us about it more in the future, that was great, but for now we couldn't really have him continuing to interact the way he was interacting.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:06 AM on December 12, 2011


Zarq, you gave an example of you strongly disagreeing with him and in a subsequent post fully explaining why. I'm not sure what the problem is.

Not speaking for zarq, but for me, faze's refusal to ever say anything except that One Thing he wanted to say was annoying. If his One Thing was incorrect, and people corrected it, he never did what the vast majority of people here do - either come back and continue to argue, or do some version of "Hadn't thought about it like that...", or even come back, ignore the correction/challenge, and take up some other point.

Most of us leave only one comment in a thread (on the blue) at least occasionally, and I'd bet that the vast majority of those are something like "Nice post, thanks" or a personal story related to the post, or a jokey/snarky one-liner. My gut feeling is it's quite rare to be so consistent, as faze was, in putting only one comment in each thread he chose to engage in, and that comment was almost invariably something that people were going to take issue with. He was That Guy. And that's just annoyingly tedious.
posted by rtha at 10:26 AM on December 12, 2011


Yeah, I don't buy the whole idea that "If someone agrees with the majority, they can say whatever they need to in a single comment and be done with it, but if they disagree, they need to stick around and explain themselves/be corrected for having the 'wrong' opinion". To my mind, if someone doesn't have the self discipline to resist a suspected trolling attempt, that's a personal problem.

I always suspected that Faze was being disingenuous, but I enjoyed reading his posts, and after our first (or so) exchange, I decided to stop trying to convert him, and instead elected to just enjoy his writing, which, to my mind, was quite enjoyable. Then again, I read MeFi and MeTa for enjoyment, and in general could care less if anyone agrees with me, here or in real life. People are wrong about all kinds of shit, as am I, and in general I could give a shit if Someone Is Wrong On The Internet.
posted by Afroblanco at 10:28 AM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Jessamyn & Cortex, thanks for the (belated) explanation.

I have some serious reservations about what you describe. I have to go away and think about this.
posted by unSane at 10:36 AM on December 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


unSane: "Zarq, you gave an example of you strongly disagreeing with him and in a subsequent post fully explaining why. I'm not sure what the problem is."

Because it was a pattern of behavior which rarely ended so neatly? The responses to his comments often seemed to blow up into large arguments.

I apologize if this is pedantic, but the phrase "hit and run poster" refers in part to a pattern of behavior in which a commenter on a web forum posts a comment that is inflammatory and flame-baity, and walks away, without further engagement. Sort of like dropping a hand grenade into an unsuspecting crowd. This was faze's primary way of interacting on the Blue, and I suspect that's what cortex and jessamyn are referring to.

I'm having a very surreal day. Have commented that imo, one-shot, drive-by comments are often the best way for us to interact on AskMe in one Meta thread, and am arguing against people doing so for the Blue and Gray in this thread.
posted by zarq at 10:39 AM on December 12, 2011


Afroblanco: " Then again, I read MeFi and MeTa for enjoyment, and in general could care less if anyone agrees with me, here or in real life. "

Yet you also have very specific ideas about what is and is not an appropriate post for Metafilter and have passionately argued your points here in MeTa before. To postive effect, I think.

Are you saying you don't care if your points get across or if your opinions have an effect? Because I find that kinda hard to believe. Why bother to speak up at all then?
posted by zarq at 10:44 AM on December 12, 2011


Are you saying you don't care if your points get across or if your opinions have an effect?

What it comes down to is that, if someone straight-up disagrees with me, and it's become clear that there's no way I can convince them, I'm happy to just stop trying to convince them, and instead just listen to what they have to say. And I have to admit that some of this is a little bit of a "Conservative wildlife safari" thing, even though I know that's kinda condescending.

I dunno, I guess a lot of it comes from growing up in Missouri, surrounded (for the most part) by conservatives, and finding myself in situations where arguing will get me all of nowhere, and so I treat the whole thing as a learning experience. And sometimes people can be funny or amusing even while they're being wrong, and I can appreciate that.
posted by Afroblanco at 10:51 AM on December 12, 2011


I'm having a very surreal day. Have commented that imo, one-shot, drive-by comments are often the best way for us to interact on AskMe in one Meta thread, and am arguing against people doing so for the Blue and Gray in this thread.

I don't think those are mutually exclusive - askme is for answers, not for discussion. I think more than one comment in an askme is fine, though, if it's not fighty or off-topic. The OP may come back to update or clarify, which may change your answer, or someone might have posted something just...wrong ("do mix bleach and ammonia!") or you yourself might have mistyped something ("Argh! I meant to say do NOT mix bleach and ammonia!") in your first response.

And for the blue and the grey, they do tend to be, and it's explicitly okay for them to be, about discussion. The discussion may or may not be argumentative. I do think that it's better to check your RA occasionally, especially if your comment is or can be seen as fighty or contrary.
posted by rtha at 10:52 AM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


His replies to us basically did not seem to even see what we were seeing, much less agree to move towards a less-problematic way of interacting with the community.

Years ago, I had a job as proofreader in a legal publishing company. Proofreaders worked in pairs with one reading aloud and the other reading the same copy silently. The room was wide open with several pairs of people sitting across from each other across tables. It was a very friendly, convivial place until the manager hired the most socially transgressive person with whom I have ever worked. She was like the most unpopular kid in junior high school on steroids. She was so incredibly aggressive about butting into every conversation with the most incredibly rude and abrasive comments. She picked no hints when she crossed any line and when flat out called upon it, she played the naif. She had no idea what you were talking about.

She offended everyone. The whole social scene at the office changed because she was such a walking train wreck. Everyone tried to avoid letting her overhear anything. Which led to secrecy and cliques and all sorts of social discord in what had been a friendly and social workplace.

Was she an innocent or was she a sociopathic sadist ? No one could tell. And she was no help in the matter because she refused to consider that anything anyone ever said. One thing was certain, whether it was conscious or unconscious -- she had so much invested in acting the way she did that she could never admit that anyone had a point, that anyone else's perspective ever had a scintilla of merit, because to ever admit so to anyone would mean she would have to try something new, like playing by the tacit rules of interaction everyone else had picked up by the age of three, because, be it ever so shitty, there was no place like home. There was some huge pay off for her in the way she behaved and she was never going to change.

But, because she always played the Who me ? I have no idea what your are talking about... card when anyone tried to metacommunicate with her about how she presented herself, the manager felt sorry for her and would not fire her .

My long ago conclusion was that Faze was baiting people, trying to upset them and that none of what he wrote was to change anyone's mind or present another view. He was just poking sticks into other people's eyes as hard as he could. That he was so good at it implies that on some level he knew exactly what he was doing. He should not come back until he cops to it and fesses up.
posted by y2karl at 11:40 AM on December 12, 2011


I have some serious reservations about what you describe.

And just to be clear, this is something we almost never do here and is notable to us in both how rarely we do it [maybe less than five times that I can think of, ever] and how much of a mess things need to be before we get to that point. While it may not be faze's fault that many people reacted strongly to his comments, started MeTa threads, flagged him all the time and sent emails to us asking why his comments were even allowed, that's also somewhat his responsibility.

Most of the time, nearly all the time, we-as-mods will take the occasional time-and-effort hit that happens when posters don't fit in well here. We'll try to encourage others to have good faith interpretations of what they say, we'll try to facilitate understanding, we'll talk to them a lot about what's going on and how they might be able to address that, we deal with flags, stay on top of threads where there are problems, etc. However, we can only do this for so long and we can only do this for so many people. And we require posters to, generally, meet us at least part way. And if we get to the point where we tell people "Your behavior here is a problem" we expect some sort of glimmer of recognition that, even if they don't have a problem with their own method of interaction, they may need to adjust it somewhat to be on a community website full of people who are not like them.

And we didn't get to that point with Faze, ever. And we never, after ten years, had any sort of actual gut feeling that he was a real person and not a troll. We just never knew. His account on our side was totally anonymous. And earlier this year he was showing up more often, earlier, in threads with drive-by comments talking about things like spousal battery maybe being a sexual preference, the homosexual agenda, AIDS being avoidable if it weren't for the gay lifestyle, that sort of thing. Comments that derailed and messed up threads and comments that he never stuck around to support or reply to or follow up on or anything.

At some point, we can't look into your head or heart and know that you're not a troll, so this is why we have a discussion with you, off the site, to ask what's up and try to get some sort of a sense of what is happening, what your intent is, why you're doing this. This is the "If you are not trolling, you need to be more clear on the site that you are not a troll" discussion, one we very rarely have. And instead of "Oh hey sorry, my bad, this community is important to me I'll try to be more mindful of how my words are being interpreted" or even "I'll try to comment when I have more time to participate in the discussion" we just got the email equivalent of a blank stare and some pat denials that he'd ever done/said anything problematic. And we all talked about it [this was before restless_nomad and taz came on, I think] and we decided we couldn't deal with the constant disruption and time/effort hit for one user who didn't seem to take responsibility for the effects of their interactions on the site.

I always view this as a bit of a personal failure when it happens, because my personal opinion is that this site has a place for everyone who genuinely wants to be here. But we'd be lying if we weren't honest about the fact that maybe 100-200 users probably take up 50-70% of all of our mod time here. And once you get to where one user is taking up a noticeably significant amount of time, something needs to be fixed. I'm sorry for the people who enjoyed his contributions.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:44 AM on December 12, 2011 [5 favorites]


And we never, after ten years, had any sort of actual gut feeling that he was a real person and not a troll

Well, that's just bizarre because even the most cursory reading of his posts delineates a person with a consistent history and worldview. For example, he was a magazine writer at one point, did plenty of LSD, evidently was on speaking terms with Emanual Ax, supported local musicians, worked in a New Jersey shipping office in the 70s, saw Bill Haley in '68, and so on and so on. I remember him talking about having been in a band and recording singles.

What's more the majority of his comments (at least the ones that remain) are not trollish. Many of them are literate and interesting. The worst you could accuse them of being is a bit arch.
posted by unSane at 12:19 PM on December 12, 2011


The worst you could accuse them of being is a bit arch.

I'd say that's probably so if we were discussing posts on his personal blog. The difference is that this isn't his private journaling space, and the critical issue that kept arising with his activity here was his failure to account for the presence of other people and make any kind of visible attempt to acknowledge and address the negative effect he was having on other community members' experiences here.

It's not strictly against the rules to be a read-only sort of personality on this site where you don't really interact with others. I'd say that characterizes a lot of low-engagement, low-volume users who don't do more than comment once in a while or post an askme. It's not great community interaction, but in those cases it's also not really getting in the way of anything or causing trouble.

But when that comes packaged with an ongoing habit of stirring shit up, it is a problem, and that, not the existence of sometimes-unpopular apparent positions, was the issue with Faze's (lack of) interactions on the site. Conspicuous provocative commenting combined with a willful refusal to be responsive to other mefites is a pretty bad way to inhabit this place.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:36 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Afroblanco: " What it comes down to is that, if someone straight-up disagrees with me, and it's become clear that there's no way I can convince them, I'm happy to just stop trying to convince them, and instead just listen to what they have to say. And I have to admit that some of this is a little bit of a "Conservative wildlife safari" thing, even though I know that's kinda condescending.

Ah. I don't think it's necessarily condescending. I try to be mindful of that, too. And try to realize when to step away.
posted by zarq at 1:25 PM on December 12, 2011


rtha: " I don't think those are mutually exclusive - askme is for answers, not for discussion.

I thought it was kind of a weird dichotomy. :)

I think more than one comment in an askme is fine, though, if it's not fighty or off-topic. The OP may come back to update or clarify, which may change your answer, or someone might have posted something just...wrong ("do mix bleach and ammonia!") or you yourself might have mistyped something ("Argh! I meant to say do NOT mix bleach and ammonia!") in your first response."

Oh, sure. Definitely.
posted by zarq at 1:26 PM on December 12, 2011


...so we left it at that and converted the timeout to a full ban.

Huh. Well, I'm disappointed.
posted by rain at 1:32 PM on December 12, 2011


I wish this was a universe where a rubber room for interesting but "challenging" contributors could exist. Maybe allow accounts that were banned for being intractably fighty not spammers to have a link to a blog somewhere as a final goodbye? Without another intriguing but hopelessly unwilling to learn community norms poster, I never would have found this. What other wonders will we be denied?
posted by morganw at 3:34 PM on December 12, 2011


Different places have different cultures I guess, and cultures shift over time. I used to run a very busy and contentious forum (not on the scale of MeFi obviously!) but we never had to ban anyone for fighting. Faze would have been very welcome there after a traditional hazing. Like a lot of fora it essentially withered on the vine but most of the meaningful discussion and relationships have transitioned to facebook.

This Faze thing really bothers me. I'd never even considered suspending my account before but it did really make me have to think long and hard about whether I wanted to be part of a place where someone as harmless as Faze has to be banned. I guess it edged me a couple of tables closer to the door.
posted by unSane at 3:49 PM on December 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Hmm, I didn't know Faze had been banned. I'd just assumed he quit, or, as you suggested upthread, unSane, perhaps died. I laid out my feelings, in a comment upthread, about his lack of interaction with the community here, and how dissatisfying that was, in general. But I wouldn't have imagined that was, you know, a bannable offense.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:09 PM on December 12, 2011


Yeah, not so happy about the bannination of Faze, but I respect the fact that this is the mods' house and not mine, and that they have a completely different set of pressures and concerns to deal with than I.

....

In other news, I like to imagine Faze, sixcolors, and ParisParamus camping out in the wilderness somewhere, roasting marshmallows and not really getting each other.
posted by Afroblanco at 4:19 PM on December 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Truly, if Faze had responded to his many critics, he would have been reprimanded for "taking on all comers." I didn't always agree with Faze--not by a long shot--but I still looked forward to his contributions. The way this happened and the way it was revealed certainly doesn't make me feel very good about MetaFilter right now.
posted by rain at 4:35 PM on December 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Truly, if Faze had responded to his many critics, he would have been reprimanded for "taking on all comers."

This is not a binary. "Never respond" and "get into drawn-out hyper-responsive arguments" are two endpoints on a continuum and not, by far, the only two options; the less-extreme area between those endpoints is where most conversation happens and is where we sometimes have to encourage people to try and shift their behavior toward.

And just as asking someone who has a habit of getting in taking-on-all-comers throwdowns to throttle it back some is explicitly not a request that they just stop commenting at all, asking someone who has a habit of dropping provocative comments and then refusing to respond when people take issue to, in fact, try being more present and responsive if they're going to comment is not a suggestion that they get into enormous arguments instead.

We put a lot of hours, proportionally, into dealing with users who are outliers on the site behaviorally. We do that, even thought it's often unrewarding and pretty much always tiring, because we want to help people find a way to make it work here even if their instincts produce problematic behavior. If there's an ongoing problem, the good outcome in our eyes is that someone figures out a bit of a compromise in how they participate and thus mitigate the problem while still being able to get more or less what they want out of their time here.

Most of the time when we get as far as having to talk to someone about this stuff, they do meet us in the middle. We'll go pretty far out of our way to try and make it work but getting nothing back after years of the same problem recurring doesn't really give us anything to work with.
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:26 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


rain, you seem to be confusing the relative and the absolute. The mods have used "taking on all comers" to refer to the behavior where you argues with anyone who will argue with you, and never back down, such that the thread becomes hard to read if the argument happens not to interest you. One can respond to critics without doing this, without even getting into much of an argument: just clarify your position, don't elaborate on it.
posted by LogicalDash at 5:26 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Calling anything a "bannable offense" implies that there's some tome of bylaws that the moderators use to make decisions about who to ban. I checked the About page; there are guidelines, principles, and maybe even precedent, but I'm not seeing a list of bannable offenses.
posted by LogicalDash at 5:29 PM on December 12, 2011


I always figured Faze was what joannemullen was aspiring to be. His alternating between drive-by turds and eloquent defences of positions bound to be unpopular on MetaFilter were entertaining but also exhausting (and I imagine more so for the mods).
posted by vanar sena at 12:59 AM on December 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


I always figured Faze was what joannemullen was aspiring to be.

Huh. I see she's disabled her account. I can't say I'll miss her, exactly, but I did feel she was working towards a more constructive persona on the site. Maybe she'll Brand New Day it without the tedious neoliberal snark.
posted by smoke at 1:11 AM on December 13, 2011


I see she's disabled her account.

Question to Team Mod: Out of curiosity, was she banned?

Maybe she'll Brand New Day it without the tedious neoliberal snark.

There's some truth to what unSane and others were saying above: that people who voice heterodox opinions around here tend to be attacked for them. And 'acceptable' snark, even when it's said quite brusquely, is left untouched. This happens frequently in threads about religion, gender and racial issues, politics, Israel/Palestine, etc.

I think it's more difficult to be a vocal member of a minority on Metafilter (hell, on the internet,) than it is to go with the flow.

Over time I've noticed that at least a few of the folks who self-identify as religious to some extent have had an experience like this one on MeFi: someone says something uninformed about their religion, either its beliefs, its administrative structure or its underlying philosophies. They step in to (hopefully gently) correct the person on that error and catch hell for it.

I'm all for keeping an open mind, having one's firmly-held beliefs challenged and learning from new different perspectives. An unchallenged worldview is a detriment. But it feels like on certain topics, sometimes there's a public expectation that it's their way or the highway, so to speak.
posted by zarq at 5:16 AM on December 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


I just realized that because the first half of my last comment was a question to the mods, the second part might be interpretable as a critique of site policy. I'm referring to the way discussions happen on Mefi between members, not the way threads are moderated.
posted by zarq at 5:19 AM on December 13, 2011


Joannemullen self-closed, zarq, but apparently also with some accompanying behavior that now makes it pretty much mutual.
posted by taz (staff) at 5:33 AM on December 13, 2011


Ah. Thanks for explaining, Taz.
posted by zarq at 5:46 AM on December 13, 2011


that people who voice heterodox opinions around here tend to be attacked for them.

I found her one-liner snarks more tedious than faze's comments because they were so often "I know the liberal userbase here will hate this opinion, blah blah blah." She generally seemed profoundly contemptuous of users here; from the first time I started noticing her, I wondered if some mefite along the way had kicked her puppy or something. She made good fpps that I often enjoyed, though.
posted by rtha at 6:04 AM on December 13, 2011 [5 favorites]


She generally seemed profoundly contemptuous of users here

It started like that right out of the gate, which set my teeth on edge a lot worse than Faze ever did. The presumption was always right up front, followed by the point of view which we would be too dumb to fully understand. There was a lot history there somewhere, long before she signed up under that name. whether it was just lurking, or whether it was an old-timer coming back in a new guise, who knows.
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:41 AM on December 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


whether it was just lurking, or whether it was an old-timer coming back in a new guise, who knows.

She wasn't someone we recognized, for what it's worth. And she was someone we'd had a few back and forth exchanges with, along the lines of "You seem to be dropping a bunch of angry unhelpful comments into AskMe, maybe dial it back a little?" and we'd get responses back and, more importantly, she'd change her tune, at least somewhat, at least for a while. I don't want to get into a big discussion about her since she's not here to answer for herself, but she was, from a mod perspective, a very different type of user from faze.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:55 AM on December 13, 2011


She was a drag.

And she came out against the use of the word "y'all".

Good riddance.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:12 AM on December 13, 2011


She was a disingenuous drag who would deliberately misrepresent her behavior to make it seem like she was being demonized.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:17 AM on December 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Zarq I'm all for heterodoxy and there is no doubt that minority opinions have a higher bar for them, but I can think of several users off the top of my head (eg Malor and his libertarian stuff) whom I regularly disagree with, but voice their disagreements in constructive, coherent ways and are willing to participate in a dialogue about it.

She was not that user. I like alternative viewpoints, but if you can't voice one without insulting everyone who might disagree with you in the most simplistic and facile I am not that interested...
posted by smoke at 4:43 PM on December 13, 2011


..and he IS very contrarian relative to the general attitudes on the site. Pro suburb, pro easy listening, etc., and yet his arguments are compelling and thoughtful. I personally think that his ruminations on aging are quite profound.

He does not like Frank Zappa therefore I cannot be allowed to like him.

The End.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 10:21 PM on December 13, 2011


I found her one-liner snarks more tedious than faze's comments because they were so often "I know the liberal userbase here will hate this opinion, blah blah blah."

At the same time, her comments listed without context, as on her profile page, are a thing of beauty. Often though I disagreed with her, and bristled at her contempt, she was great at piercing through self-congratulatory self-righteousness, and clearly has an excellent sense of humour. I think it's a huge shame she couldn't find a way to settle in here.
posted by tavegyl at 2:13 AM on December 14, 2011


For what it's worth, I didn't really mean to turn this into a joannemullen thing. Sorry.
posted by vanar sena at 4:52 AM on December 14, 2011


smoke: " She was not that user. I like alternative viewpoints, but if you can't voice one without insulting everyone who might disagree with you in the most simplistic and facile I am not that interested..."

I tend to agree, except there are a small number of users here who are inconsistent. They seem to engage quite prolifically on some topics, but don't engage on others except to drop short, simplistic snark into a thread.

I suppose that's normal, though.
posted by zarq at 7:41 AM on December 14, 2011


Banned you say? My gut reaction, and I suppose I'm not alone, is: not cool. As a qualifier, though, we have to remember that we're not privy to all the shit that goes on behind the scenes.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 1:07 PM on December 14, 2011


So who's next on the hit list? I have Ironmouth in the Death Pool.
posted by banshee at 1:32 PM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Calling anything a "bannable offense" implies that there's some tome of bylaws that the moderators use to make decisions about who to ban.

I'm not sure I agree with that definition. Self-linking to your spam site can very reasonably be called a "bannable offense" despite the lack of a specific bylaw.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 3:37 PM on December 14, 2011


There aren't many things you could reasonably call "bylaws," but "no self-linking" would be one of them.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 3:48 PM on December 14, 2011


I knew Faze was banned, but hearing it again makes me sad. Still, I do get why he was banned, and I know the mods try to protect Metafilter from chaos. The net no longer has much room for people like Faze. I hope he's made a twitter account and is sending out baffling reactionary koans to celebrities.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:40 PM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


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