Deleted Questions December 12, 2011 6:23 PM   Subscribe

I don't think posters on the green should be able to have their questions deleted just because they are done with them or don't like the answers they are receiving.

We've talked about "poster's request" deletions on the blue before.

We've probably talked about poster's request deletions on the green before, but I couldn't a Metatalk thread about it. It bothers me that people give good advice and then the whole thread gets deleted because someone doesn't want to listen to that advice.
posted by insectosaurus to Etiquette/Policy at 6:23 PM (95 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

I'm referring to this post in particular. The poster says, "I feel like the rest of the answers are going to be about me, so I'm comfortable closing the question now. Thanks y'all." Shortly after, the post is deleted.
posted by insectosaurus at 6:24 PM on December 12, 2011


The green exists for the benefit of the asker, not the answerers. So it only makes sense that if they want their question deleted, it should be deleted.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 6:27 PM on December 12, 2011 [16 favorites]


We can't force them to leave them open if they don't want. I mean literally we can but technically that would be a mod nightmare. Usually when someone asks us to close their question we offer them some other alternatives like 1) going for a walk and ignoring the question or 2) anonymizing it if maybe it's embarrassing. There are also some cases where a question is so contentious that closing/deleting it is actually going to create more attention for it by creating a MeTa thread about it. So we usually have a back and forth with the OP about how we don't like to close questions, we'd prefer not to do it, but usually will do it one time only and then leave a note in their account and not do it again.

So I'm with you, I'd prefer pretty much to never close them and we don't do it without some sort of compelling reason. Some mods press this point more than others. Judging from mathowie's Twitter he's just gotten his wisdom teeth out, so maybe it's the pain meds talking?
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:29 PM on December 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


On the one hand, sometimes it annoys me when questions are deleted.

On the other hand, I understand that many Ask.Me questions are about extremely emotional topics. I do not like the idea that someone could ask a question before realizing how painful it would be for them, and then not be able to delete it. That would just be cruel. If Ask.Me is intended to help people, deleting the occasional question is part of being helpful.
posted by meese at 6:29 PM on December 12, 2011 [10 favorites]


I don't think posters on the grey should be able to link to questions deleted by request just because they feel like it.

It bothers me that a question that an OP might well have fully legitimate reasons for wanting removed can be made to lurch zombie-like from its grave in this way.
posted by flabdablet at 6:29 PM on December 12, 2011 [14 favorites]


© 1999-2011 MetaFilter Network Inc.
All posts are © their original authors.


Sounds about right to me.
posted by phunniemee at 6:31 PM on December 12, 2011 [20 favorites]


I agree that the deletion threshold should be higher than it was in this particular case.
posted by lalex at 6:32 PM on December 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


I rolled my eyes when I saw the closed at poster's request reason, but this still works better than not doing it at all, I think.
posted by rtha at 6:32 PM on December 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


I don't think posters on the grey should be able to link to questions deleted by request just because they feel like it.

I actually put my link to the deleted question in a comment rather than the post specifically so that my comment could easily be deleted, if appropriate.
posted by insectosaurus at 6:37 PM on December 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


For what it's worth, we generally do two things when someone asks:

1. If there's not a really understandably obvious reason why they'd want the question deleted, we try and get some sort of reasoning from them to make sure they're not just flippantly requesting it out of some misunderstanding of how the site works. We'd rather not delete than delete, or maybe anonymize rather than delete as a compromise solution.

2. In any case we'll make it clear that this isn't something we're comfortable doing casually and it's basically a one-time deal—if someone really regrets having posted something or feels really strongly for some (possibly not very sensible-seeming-to-us) reason that it has to go, we'll help them out but we'll also let them know that can't keep being a thing that happens.

In my ideal world, no one would ever delete a question because (a) they'd never have a regrettable development make it seem legitimately necessary and (b) they'd never really really want it gone for maybe not-so-serious reasons, but this isn't an ideal world and we're willing to be a little flexible.

I don't know what conversation Matt may have had with the asker in this specific case. It's definitely more on the "do you really need this gone, and why?" side by my personal calculus.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:39 PM on December 12, 2011


insectosaurus: “I actually put my link to the deleted question in a comment rather than the post specifically so that my comment could easily be deleted, if appropriate.”

I don't know if it works this way. Comments are hardly ever deleted here in the grey. As far as I recall, it's almost always because of threats or extremely caustic insults, not something this innocuous.

My own position is that this is the place to talk about stuff, so if you wanted to, well, here we are. I also happen to feel as though people are going to request that stuff be deleted, and there's not much I can do about it, and it's not really much of a loss. In almost every case, what we as a community are losing is the opportunity to 'set someone straight' by offering them advice they don't want to hear. People don't usually follow advice they don't want to hear, and if they're going to request that that hose be shut off, it's even less likely. So I don't see much of a point to keeping threads open when the asker doesn't want them, aside from the satisfaction of telling someone how wrong they are – and that urge, I should add, generally isn't a net community gain.

At the same time, like I said, I think you have every right to ask about this here.
posted by koeselitz at 6:44 PM on December 12, 2011


"© 1999-2011 MetaFilter Network Inc.
"All posts are © their original authors.

"Sounds about right to me.
"

It's right but in what way is it relevant?

AskMes getting deleted on posters request are irritating but fairly often understandable. Front page posts getting deleted on posters request, especially if they are going fine (if not maybe in the way the poster anticipated) drive me crazy.
posted by Mitheral at 7:02 PM on December 12, 2011


Repeating the 'blink' tag for a quote makes me weep inside.

Actually, wait -- the blink tag, under all circumstances, makes me weep inside.
posted by meese at 7:04 PM on December 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


Your weeping makes me blink inside.
posted by phunniemee at 7:06 PM on December 12, 2011 [16 favorites]


The green exists for the benefit of the asker, not the answerers. --- If you take a wider view, the content on Ask Metafilter is a resource that everyone in the world benefits from. Great content that Google indexes aggressively. It might sound funny, but I think the green exists not just for the benefit of the asker, but for the benefit of everyone, for as long as people are able to search html content.
posted by crunchland at 7:07 PM on December 12, 2011 [20 favorites]


The actual purpose of the green is not to give answerers an unlimited venue for making askers feel bad about themselves. Even if it were, human relations questions are a resource that continuously renew themselves, so it feels a bit churlish to latch on to one particular instance.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 7:08 PM on December 12, 2011 [10 favorites]


"The actual purpose of the green is not to give answerers an unlimited venue for making askers feel bad about themselves."

Are you saying that's what happened in the question that insectosaurus mentioned?
posted by HopperFan at 7:35 PM on December 12, 2011


Great content that Google indexes aggressively.

This is actually sometimes the problem. People who only know AskMe as the funny little question closet on the side of MetaFilter can get confused and surprised when they see their question topping Google for their family member's rare disease or problematic personality tic. The people who ask to have their questions closed usually fall into a few categories

- I've grown up and questions from six years ago are haunting me
- I didn't think this through and asked a question rashly which had speedy repercussions that I am now dealing with
- My life changed and this is suddenly a big problem
- I do not know how the site works and assumed this would be no problem
- I am a very anxious person and can not handle knowing this question is out there and/or I want everything I've posted to AskMe removed

Depending on the reason we'll have varying degrees of tough love conversations people and offer differing sorts of first step remedies. Usually we can anonymize a few old embarrassing questions and things are fine. Sometimes someone is unclear on the concept and once we've spoken to them, they are now clear on it.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:54 PM on December 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm really glad we had this conversation.
posted by lakersfan1222 at 8:01 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Are you saying that's what happened in the question that insectosaurus mentioned?

Yes, I do think that dynamic was very much in effect, although it was also correct advice. Regardless, I don't think that by asking the question the OP incurred an open-ended moral obligation to provide a platform for people to tell her that her behavior was unprofessional and passive-aggressive gossip - even if it was.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 8:24 PM on December 12, 2011


Sometimes someone is unclear on the concept and once we've spoken to them, they are now clear on it.

I have been reading assorted Discworld novels and so this sentence feels just pregnant with unspoken subtleties of meaning to me right now. Which is to say I am imagining jessamyn explaining concepts to people with the help of some sort of blunt object.
posted by silby at 8:36 PM on December 12, 2011 [18 favorites]


Judging from mathowie's Twitter he's just gotten his wisdom teeth out, so maybe it's the pain meds talking?
Holy fucking rough year for this man, from my vantage point anyway.
Please send him on a vacation or at least make him pretend to relax and not have anything stressful happen for a while?
posted by chococat at 8:43 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


"I don't think that by asking the question the OP incurred an open-ended moral obligation to provide a platform for people to tell her that her behavior was unprofessional and passive-aggressive gossip - even if it was."

I disagree, unless AskMe's purpose is to only give answers the OP wants to hear. I offer my own recent AskMe as evidence of how it's supposed to work. Even though some of the answers felt harsh, the mods were pretty good about deleting comments that crossed the line from blunt to just plain rude. If you ask a question, you should be prepared for the answers. Or don't ask.
posted by HopperFan at 8:49 PM on December 12, 2011


This is a weird one because it seems like the poster's (in-thread) reason for asking for deletion is: "I've got my answer, and I don't want you to tell me to work on my own shit."

All the things Jessamyn and Cortex say make perfect sense as reasons to delete in general, but this seems like a different animal entirely. I'm not saying I disagree with deleting it if it's something the poster really wanted... just, this seems weird.
posted by J. Wilson at 9:02 PM on December 12, 2011


I offer my own recent AskMe as evidence of how it's supposed to work



Where's nickyskye when you need her ? - person not great with animals, major red flag - end of.
posted by sgt.serenity at 9:14 PM on December 12, 2011


Sometimes I think people who delete their questions are doing it because they were hoping for people to encourage them to make a clearly bad decision, but that's their prerogative.

If I make a thread or question that's bothering me for whatever reason, I should be able to get a mod to end it.
posted by mccarty.tim at 9:27 PM on December 12, 2011


I once had a question deleted as "poster's request". I asked a question about my child biting at his preschool, and the answers turned into an enormous clusterfuck of answers that could be summed up as "It's no wonder he's biting in preschool because you are a terrible mother for having put him in daycare. Quit your job and pay more attention to your kid." I honestly read those answers and sat on my sofa and wept and wept, because the answers were a) so far from the mark, and b) so completely judgmental, and c) so completely unhelpful in a situation where I was already at my wit's end. Having Jessamyn be willing to erase the question was about the only helpful thing I got out of that particular question.

So, yeah, sometimes it does become all about the poster, and not in a good, helpful way. Sometimes it turns into a pile-on.
posted by anastasiav at 9:36 PM on December 12, 2011 [25 favorites]


Wow, I'm sorry that happened to you. Those people were butts.
posted by the young rope-rider at 9:43 PM on December 12, 2011 [25 favorites]


Honestly, even though rushing to judgment is a great past-time for askme, we don't know what battles a poster is facing and tend to view the "question" as a self-contained environment - because for us as answerers it usually is. But for questioners it can break out of that green environment and produce all kinds of feelings, reactions, and thoughts that we, in posting our pithy answers to imperfect realities, can't necessarily predict.

I recently myself gained an interesting insight into this phenomenon when I saw some relatively innocently worded advice provoke a level of hurt that I wouldn't have predicted in a million years. It chastened me, personally, a lot, because I can post some pretty tough love on the green myself sometimes, and it forced me to consider how those half-sentences I didn't really think about might be whirling off like little shurikens into the flesh of someone who, ultimately, I really don't know and understand. If they were in a room with me I know I'd never talk like that in a million years! I'm very conciliatory and... more ethereal I suppose in person.

It changed my thinking completely. Which is now why, if someone's hurting enough to need a question taken down, I think to myself, "They're probably feeling pretty shitty. Do I participate in askme to make people feel shitty, or do I participate to (hopefully) make them feel less shitty? Is my participation about me (i.e. how dare you take it down, you are a shitty person doing shitty things, especially for ignoring me and other non-shitty people. I judge you and let others witness to my judgment), or is it about them?"

Cause if it's about them, let people get their comfort where they can find it, I say. They might be wrong, they might be douchebags, they might be a whole lotta other stuff, but I don't know that, they might be great and just having a bad day. And if their response is less than perfect, brusque, defensive, abusive, ignorant; well, my answers probably read like that sometimes too, and I like to foster the illusion I'm still okay.

I want my brief incursion into their horizons to be a net positive. Failing that, if someone needs to pull out in order to preserve something, well they probably need it more than I need to keep a thread alive.
posted by smoke at 9:47 PM on December 12, 2011 [39 favorites]


I once had a question deleted as "poster's request". I asked a question about my child biting at his preschool, and the answers turned into an enormous clusterfuck of answers that could be summed up as "It's no wonder he's biting in preschool because you are a terrible mother for having put him in daycare.

That is absolutely not what happened in your question, and the fact that you characterize the answers like that is a good reason to have a high deletion threshold for Ask questions.
posted by lalex at 9:52 PM on December 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


"Where's nickyskye when you need her ? - person not great with animals, major red flag - end of."

I don't know what this means? Not trying to be snide or obtuse.
posted by HopperFan at 10:00 PM on December 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


That is absolutely not what happened in your question, and the fact that you characterize the answers like that is a good reason to have a high deletion threshold for Ask questions.

In all seriousness, lalex, merits of the answers to that particular question or no, do you really think it's a great situation to have someone responding like this to a question on askme?

I honestly read those answers and sat on my sofa and wept and wept

I mean do you really think the utility of having that question up is worth making someone feel like shit for hours and hours or even days? Cause, man, I looooove askme and all - it's my favourite part of the site - but I'm hard-pressed to think of a single question that would be worth keeping if it made someone cry and cry, and that goes for whether they were right or wrong, or the answers were the best or worst in the world etc.

I mean, if anastasiav was sitting in front you, crying and crying, would you persist in giving her advice that would provoke that reaction? Cause that, I think, is the reality of what happens for askers sometimes - especially if they are longer term members of the community and the reaction is particularly vehement - and I think as answerers we often forget that. I don't want to visit that kind of pain on anyone - even if I think they're total idiots - for any reason, really. Certainly not for something trivial like a personal askme.
posted by smoke at 10:03 PM on December 12, 2011 [14 favorites]


In all seriousness, lalex, merits of the answers to that particular question or no, do you really think it's a great situation to have someone responding like this to a question on askme?


Honestly, it's difficult to take this example out of context. In the question anastasiav is referring to, I would characterize two, maybe three, of the answers as (inappropriately) suggesting she should stay home with her child. Should a poster's inaccurate perception of a thread be enough to get it deleted?

I'm with crunchland in viewing AskMe as a resource not just for the asker, but for other community members and Google searchers.

I mean, if anastasiav was sitting in front you, crying and crying, would you persist in giving her advice that would provoke that reaction?

I...don't know? I don't think it matters? For me, part of the value of AskMe is that the advice is personally detached.
posted by lalex at 10:16 PM on December 12, 2011


Should a poster's inaccurate perception of a thread be enough to get it deleted?

I don't understand what this means. Their perception is always accurate, it's their perception. A thread isn't objectively one thing or another; you and I might see the same question quite differently, but surely if anyone has a claim to a kind of perceptual ownership it would be the asker?

What I feel like you're really saying there is that hypothetical needs (ambiguous number of people reading non-deleted threads and gaining insight) outweigh concrete needs. Given that there is no limit to question-asking and memberships, and thus nothing to prevent other users from asking the same or similar questions to deleted ones, I think that's very hard to defend from that utilitarian perspective - especially given that the vast majority of deleted questions are quite personal and thus rarely applicable at a broader level.

(note, I have not read the question we're discussing, but I think it's pretty immaterial.)
posted by smoke at 10:25 PM on December 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


As phunniemee alludes to, if posters hold the copyright to their comments it's moot what anyone else thinks; they don't need to justify control over their own work.

(Unless people have agreed to a Terms of Service type thing that grants MetaFilter a perpetual irrevocable license to the content, but I don't remember agreeing to that myself despite talk last year of a ToS being in the works. However, I am prey to wanton drunken fits of recklessly entering into legal contracts online, so I might just not remember.)
posted by XMLicious at 11:07 PM on December 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


For me, part of the value of AskMe is that the advice is personally detached.

People asking questions for help with stressful personal situations don't necessarily have a feeling of detachment, and answers that assume the worst about them can be difficult to accept with equanimity even if they aren't overemotional or particularly vulnerable.

I just looked at anastasiav's question, and there were several comments that would have been deleted, but it was an evening/night weekend post... pretty much the worst possible combo for a thread needing moderation back when there were basically two moderators to handle everything 24/7.

Generally speaking, one of the strengths – but also pitfalls – of Ask Metafilter is that our members usually want to view a problem from every angle, which sometimes leads to rejecting the question in favor of a question they find more pertinent. Sometimes this can be a good thing, and the poster is grateful for a different take on something, but very often it's not a good thing at all because it presupposes many assumptions about the OP. We will see answers like, "I think it's mistake to concentrate on fixing X problem, when you should be focusing on why Z happened that caused X problem." This presupposes that the OP is not concerned with why Z happened, when they may be aggressively pursuing that very thing... but didn't bring it up, because giant walls of text aren't popular in Ask Me, and because they're asking a completely different question.

So the "why are you asking this when you should be asking something else" answers can be a big problem. Even so, if an answerer phrases it in such a way that it doesn't imply that the OP is a bad/stupid person, it can sometimes clear up a point of confusion. Offering an answer that addresses the question asked, then saying something like, "it's not clear from your post if you're already looking at solutions for [possible underlying problem]," allows the OP to clarify that if they want to, without turning it into a derail or a judgment on their intelligence or priorities.
posted by taz (staff) at 11:37 PM on December 12, 2011 [7 favorites]


Maybe posters should be able to have their question deleted, but not the answers, which would remain in a kind of poignantly headless thread. That could be interesting.
posted by Segundus at 2:05 AM on December 13, 2011


Not too long ago I too asked a question and received a few answers where people seemed bent on assuming the worst about me. I didn't have it deleted, because I didn't know that was an option, but honestly it's something that I see happen more and more in this community. The pile-on, or whatever you want to call it. I'm not sure whether it just happens because maybe there are a lot of people posting without reading the previous responses, and so the once few bluntly harsh comments turn into threads with 40+ answers that all seem blunt and harsh, or that it seems like the first person in any given thread to post some edgy, slightly mean advice always gets a lot of faves and then a bunch of people follow suit. I suspect it's a bit of both.

At any rate, the focus of AskMe has always seemed to me to be a balance between the needs of the asker and as a resource for the community at large, but I think it's a balance that's more weighted towards the asker. As smoke pointed out, if someone else ever has a similar question, there's nothing stopping them from asking it, and so deleting a thread that has proved not useful or even damaging to the asker doesn't seem like that great a loss. I think it benefits both sides; the asker gets to retreat and the community gets a do over.
posted by katyggls at 2:30 AM on December 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


It seems pretty cut and dry to me. The OP obviously and understandably regretted their use of the word "Snowflakey" and asked for the question to be taken down.
posted by gman at 3:15 AM on December 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Generally speaking, one of the strengths – but also pitfalls – of Ask Metafilter is that our members usually want to view a problem from every angle, which sometimes leads to rejecting the question in favor of a question they find more pertinent.

I think this is a fairly kind way of describing the dynamic that katyggls outlines more bluntly. There are a lot of commenters who seem over-eager to deliver stinging, harsh advice, more aimed at proving that their tough love is the toughest than at helping the OP. This is often combined with finding a gotcha in the question to show that the OP is more at fault than they think they are or at least is asking the wrong question about the wrong aspect of their problem. My impression is that it's less often 'open-minded answerers brainstorming all possible aspects of the situation' and more often 'sharks sniffing around for a bit of blood'.

There are times when an OP needs to be shaken out of their complacency or is in denial about their problem, but these are rare and even then piling on them should be a last resort when reason has failed. At the moment, it seems to be a regular first resort and a lot of relationship questions contain at least one answer that reframes the situation in a very negative way.

It's slightly more literate than an unexplained DTMFA at the start of a thread, but no more helpful for the OP.

Of course, the great advice in AskMe outweighs all of this and the majority of relationship questions are answered really well, sooner or later. My concern is that someone with a serious personal problem shouldn't need a rhinoceros hide as a prerequisite to ask it here.
posted by Busy Old Fool at 3:39 AM on December 13, 2011 [25 favorites]


As phunniemee alludes to, if posters hold the copyright to their comments it's moot what anyone else thinks; they don't need to justify control over their own work.

What about the copyrights of the answers? I'm not arguing this as such, but the idea that I might invest time in an answer which is then owned by the question asker to delete at their whim is a bit weird. Do they get to transport the question complete with answers to their own blog without my permission at that point?

If you think question askers should be allowed to delete their questions, maybe ask for a pony to put the delete controls in their activity panels? That's the ultimate solution, isn't it?

I think my very first post here at metafilter was to ask a question which immediately got a couple of shitty answers--answers which made me feel like I had broken a guideline or something, and I asked that my question be deleted (though I don't recall getting a response, and it wasn't; maybe I just asked in-thread, hard to recall other than how stupid I felt).

(Sometime later those comments were deleted, but I was gone from that question by that point; in fact I only noticed they had been deleted recently when I went back to look at the Q.)

So, yes, I understand the impulse, but I don't think askers should own their question once it is released into the wild and it has substantial answers except for the very compelling reasons Jessamyn outlined above.
posted by maxwelton at 3:54 AM on December 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


The asker in this case didn't even want the question deleted. They just wanted it closed, but Ask doesn't support that. Why not?
posted by smackfu at 5:09 AM on December 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


There are times when an OP needs to be shaken out of their complacency or is in denial about their problem, but these are rare

I figure almost all relationship questions are posted in denial: it's probably not worth it, it's usually selfish, nobody else really understands, and anyway, we all die alone. But I see your point.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 5:11 AM on December 13, 2011


And I was really surprised they deleted this drama-filled one after 87 answers due to poster's request.
posted by smackfu at 5:14 AM on December 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Get thee to a therapist
posted by nathancaswell at 6:00 AM on December 13, 2011


There were specific enough details in this one that I wonder if privacy issues might have been a factor. Co-worker seeing that thread would be worst-case for the ol' job longevity.
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:36 AM on December 13, 2011


And I was really surprised they deleted this drama-filled one after 87 answers due to poster's request.

I was surprised at that deletion as well, but looking back on it, I'm pretty sure it would've been walked off the plank after a few more responses from the OP anyway.
posted by griphus at 6:37 AM on December 13, 2011


The asker in this case didn't even want the question deleted. They just wanted it closed, but Ask doesn't support that. Why not?

There's never been a clear reason to go there, basically. Thread closure is unique to Metatalk, not uniquely absent from Askme, and exists over here even as a bit of an oddity that owes its existence to the bumpy slow development of a proper delete-by-hiding function for threads.

Ultimately I don't feel like closing-but-not-deleting an askme is really much better or worse than deleting it—it wouldn't solve the "it's years later and I have serious privacy-related regrets about that old question" issues that make up the bulk of the poster's-request stuff we deal with, and for the cases when the issue is an asker really, really regretting a currently active question for whatever reason it seems like closing it but not deleting it wouldn't probably be any more attractive an option to them. In the mean time we'd be introducing some unexpected new functionality for the green that would be a "uh what happened with this thread?" conversation every single time.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:37 AM on December 13, 2011


And I was really surprised they deleted this drama-filled one after 87 answers due to poster's request.

Most of the people in that thread were assuming the absolute worst of the OP. If I had the time and a team of research assistants, I would like to do some kind of analysis to find out which subjects are most likely to elicit "clearly the problem is you" response from the hivemind.
posted by nooneyouknow at 7:03 AM on December 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


Most of the people in that thread were assuming the absolute worst of the OP.

I don't see that. I see people giving suggestions on changes the OP can make to their behavior because that is the only thing they can control. If X drives you nuts, and getting rid of or stopping X is not within your power, then the best advice is going to be on how to deal with it better. That includes stopping behavior that may make it worse (in this case, gossip) as well as protecting your own reputation.
posted by soelo at 7:39 AM on December 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


There are a lot of commenters who seem over-eager to deliver stinging, harsh advice, more aimed at proving that their tough love is the toughest than at helping the OP.

This is a real problem and one of the reasons we're really happy to have more round-the-clock moderation. There are a lot of people who really see their job as the "tough love" person, implying that the reason they are being harsh in their answer is because they really care. Whether or not that's true, it's very clear to us that many question askers and answerers do not see it that way. And we will delete answers that are giving good advice but providing it in a harsh, snarky or otherwise crappy tone, but this is a judgment call on our part and it's difficult to do.

One of the larger reasons this is difficult is because if there's a thread that has pushed people's buttons for one reason or another, deleting someone's heartfelt if angry response is often likely to make them more upset not less. A lot of people view AskMe questions with a much more personal lens than I think is sometimes helpful and don't have the amount of distance that would be helpful in order to give a truly helpful-to-the-asker response. And once these people start arguing with each other in a thread, it can really wind up obscuring the OPs question or other more mild responses. At the same time, we'd like people to be able to discuss the topic somewhat [i.e. "You suggested this, but I think this other thing is a better idea for these reasons"] but the line there is difficult.

At the same time we're axing answers that say things like "I really kind of hate you right now" and getting "Hey why was my answer removed?!" emails back, so not everyone is on the same page with this stuff. But we do talk to the OP of questions they want removed indicating that the time people spent giving them answers sort of gets lost of the question is axed which is one of the reasons we prefer not to do that.

And the copyright stuff, as we've said before, affects what other people can do with your content, not your ability to have it removed after it has already been "published" here. We can have a long discussion about that if people want, but you owning the copyright to your content is a different thing from MeFi's publication of your thing.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:49 AM on December 13, 2011 [6 favorites]


What about the copyrights of the answers?

The person who writes each response holds the copyright to that response. It doesn't seem ver controversial to me. AskMe publishes an article and responses to that article. If the original copyright holder of the article asks it to be removed, the moderators comply. The copyright holders of the responses can retrieve their responses and publish them however they want.
posted by muddgirl at 8:06 AM on December 13, 2011


What about the copyrights of the answers?

Everyone who quotes my comments owes me a percentage!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:19 AM on December 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


soelo,

I was referring to the question lined in smackfu's comment. That's a different one than the one insectosaurus linked to.
posted by nooneyouknow at 8:22 AM on December 13, 2011


Any other comment which quotes what I said is a falsehood.
posted by gman at 8:25 AM on December 13, 2011


If someone senpouse's me on the contact list in a commmunity property state, do they own 1/2 of my comment copyright?
*hides assets from Brandon*
posted by pointystick at 8:31 AM on December 13, 2011


I'm sorry, I just have to say it, and there's no where else to say it. This is my favorite leading question on AskMe ever.

Is there any scholarship out there about penis size and relative [success/happiness/confidence/etc]?


I know they're talking about a different kind of scholarship, but still. I am all giggles.
posted by Think_Long at 8:49 AM on December 13, 2011 [4 favorites]


After all, Jessamyn did say that we can talk about penises here. Flu shots, no, but penises, yes. Works for me.
posted by Melismata at 8:58 AM on December 13, 2011


I know they're talking about a different kind of scholarship, but still. I am all giggles.
posted by Think_Long at 11:49 AM on December 13 [+] [!]


Let me be the first to say eponysterical.
posted by TryTheTilapia at 9:00 AM on December 13, 2011 [5 favorites]


I'm sorry, I just have to say it, and there's no where else to say it. This is my favorite leading question on AskMe ever.

Is there any scholarship out there about penis size and relative [success/happiness/confidence/etc]?


I know they're talking about a different kind of scholarship, but still. I am all giggles.


On first glance I assumed it was a creative take on the affirmative action bake sale thing that college Republican groups love so much.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 9:08 AM on December 13, 2011


It ain't the kind of scholarship, it's the motion of the... median sample, excluding long tails.
posted by Devils Rancher at 9:22 AM on December 13, 2011 [2 favorites]


That is absolutely not what happened in your question, and the fact that you characterize the answers like that is a good reason to have a high deletion threshold for Ask questions.

lalex, I find it kind of hard to believe that you have that level of recall about a question that was asked four years ago, that wasn't your own question. My recollection is that a I wrote something like "how do I correct a behavior that I never, ever see?" (meaning that it was happening at daycare but not at home) and a number -- a large number -- of the first replies keyed in on that comment and interpreted it as meaning that I never, ever say my kid, and thus the pile on began.

Part of the issue for me at the time was that I didn't think a question that could be summed up as "My kid bites at daycare but he doesn't bite at home, how do I deal with this?" would end up garnering such a GRAR GRAR response, so the "spend more time with him" answers kind of came out of left field.
posted by anastasiav at 10:04 AM on December 13, 2011


XMLicious: As phunniemee alludes to, if posters hold the copyright to their comments it's moot what anyone else thinks; they don't need to justify control over their own work.

It seems like you're saying, the legal situation is thus-and-so, therefore it doesn't matter what the community wants. Shouldn't it be more like, let's figure out what the community wants, then see if there are legal roadblocks to implementing it?
posted by stebulus at 10:08 AM on December 13, 2011


For me, part of the value of AskMe is that the advice is personally detached.

Rubbish. The advice in relationship questions is as often as not likely to come from people who particular axes to grind as anything else. Spend any time reading human relations and you'll see any number of people who pop up again and again with the same answer regardless of the question.
posted by rodgerd at 10:20 AM on December 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


I didn't know you could ask to have a question deleted. I had one question about asking how to find a good lawyer and instead got hand-wavey legal advice from non-lawyers. Had I known that, I would have deleted the question once I saw the thread was just spiralling off away from my question.

Good to know.

(That said, I'd rather have good answers than delete a question any day.)
posted by yeloson at 10:22 AM on December 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


nooneyouknow, oh I see that now, sorry. I always find it odd when these discussions start focusing on behavior that happens, but did not happen in the example given in the OP. I agree that really tough love is not usually a good answer here and should be deleted. However if some answers are a little bit of tough love and people can't handle that, they shouldn't have been soliciting advice from strangers.
posted by soelo at 10:31 AM on December 13, 2011


There are a lot of people who really see their job as the "tough love" person, implying that the reason they are being harsh in their answer is because they really care. Whether or not that's true, it's very clear to us that many question askers and answerers do not see it that way.

And whether or not they "really care," it's a completely ineffective way to give advice. There's no better way to guarantee someone tunes you out. There's that old false dichotomy of "Oh I'm just being honest" but it's 100% possible to be both nice and honest- it really really is.

I will continue to flag these "shit sandwich" answers whenever I see them.
posted by drjimmy11 at 10:36 AM on December 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


It seems like you're saying, the legal situation is thus-and-so, therefore it doesn't matter what the community wants. Shouldn't it be more like, let's figure out what the community wants, then see if there are legal roadblocks to implementing it?

What I'm saying is that what the community wants doesn't make people's copyrights magically disappear nor overrides the control of their own work granted under law by those rights.

I'm not saying anything about what should or should not happen. If I were presented with a request to agree to a terms of service that granted MetaFilter Network Inc. a perpetual and irrevocable license to publish all of the posts and comments I've ever added to the site I would probably comply quite willingly because I trust mathowie and the other mods.

But in the absence of that, the explicit statement All posts are © their original authors does ensure that the people posting and commenting here have the same rights over their works that any corporate copyright holder flinging off DMCA takedown requests to pirate sites has.

I actually don't even believe in intellectual property, personally, and I'm not a lawyer, but the handwavey assertions I've seen mathowie and other mods make claiming that upon clicking the signup button all MeFi users entered into an indissoluble contract eternally surrendering rights as the copyright holder so that they can never ever stop MeFi from freely publishing the user's owned content every time a random person on the internet requests it, just don't seem to hold water to me. It would be pretty simple for MeFi to ask for this kind of license during the signup process but year after year we / mathowie have decided not to, which to me only reinforces that All posts are © their original authors really means what it says.
posted by XMLicious at 11:06 AM on December 13, 2011


I actually don't even believe in intellectual property, personally, and I'm not a lawyer, but the handwavey assertions I've seen mathowie and other mods make claiming that upon clicking the signup button all MeFi users entered into an indissoluble contract eternally surrendering rights as the copyright holder so that they can never ever stop MeFi from freely publishing the user's owned content every time a random person on the internet requests it, just don't seem to hold water to me.

That's also never what we've actually said. Our position is that it's a reasonable expectation in the context of what the site is and how it functions that content posted here will continue to be here in the future, that in the absence of an explicit ToS declaring to people that they forfeit any right to have a comment or post removed what we have is an expectation that people will understand that removing large swaths of content after the fact is kind of a crappy thing to do.

That's why when we get the rare "please make my whole account not ever have existed" request from someone what we do is try to figure out what primarily they're concerned about, which generally comes down to a specific question or comment or three that can be anonymized or removed. What we don't do is say "ha ha, suck it, we've got your content now".

We try to be super reasonable about this stuff and hope that people will likewise be reasonable about it on their end, and that works out fine like 99.99% of the time. We've discussed and will probably eventually put into place a ToS making stuff more explicit as a way to deal more formally and proactively with the hairy possibilities of that 0.01% stuff, but there's something fairly disruptive in its own right about going down that path and it sucks to basically make everyone deal with legalese just to try to marginally ward off the rare aggro YOU MUST COMPLY WITH THIS UNREASONABLE REQUEST POSTHASTE nutter flipping out about doing an account wipe.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:16 AM on December 13, 2011


the handwavey assertions I've seen mathowie and other mods make claiming that upon clicking the signup button all MeFi users entered into an indissoluble contract eternally surrendering rights as the copyright holder so that they can never ever stop MeFi from freely publishing the user's owned content every time a random person on the internet requests it

We have not ever said anything remotely like that. However where this differs from your DMCA takedown notice example is that you have willingly published your stuff to this site. We have not taken it from you. We try to be reasonable when people have issues as cortex said above. Copyright is all about giving the creator rights to their own work, or understanding that the creator has certain rights. These rights are usually about what they can do or what other people can do with the content. When you post a comment here, you're allowing MeFi to display that comment and hold it in our database and possibly delete it. We have an RSS feed, so your comment could wind up other places and if this is something you don't like, we encourage you, as copyright owner, to take this up in other places.

We should have a better Terms of Service, true. This doesn't absolve commenters from some basic "I am allowing MetaFilter to publish my comment" understanding when they do this. Many if not most places on the internet when you publish a comment, you lose the ability to control it entirely. We try to work with people to make sure that we're not doing that. We expect them to likewise work with us and be reasonable about the effect that widespread comment/post deletion has on the site.

I would have deleted the question once I saw the thread was just spiralling off away from my question.


To be fair, this is one of those situations where we'd strongly encourage you to either post an update to the thread trying to get commenters on track or just go for a walk and let the thread settle down for a bit. We know people are really invested in their questions [anastasiav I'd be happy to link to your deleted question if you'd like me to, otherwise I'm happy to leave it be] but we don't like closing/deleting a question just because someone doesn't like the answers. While a small percentage of questions do truly go off the rails with almost no provocation, usually there's some sort of give and take with the question being open-ended and the commenters favoring one interpretation and the OP getting annoyed that we think can be managed in other ways.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:38 AM on December 13, 2011


cortex, I guess I'm misinterpreting it then, but when jessamyn says things like "the copyright stuff, as we've said before, affects what other people can do with your content, not your ability to have it removed after it has already been “published” here" that appears to state that some portion of normal copyright privileges are not in the possession of the posts and comment authors as copyright holders, and to my (albeit limited) legal understanding that would require at least an implied or understood contract between MeFi and the authors.

Particularly since as I said, publishing on the web isn't a one-time thing: MeFi is actually providing a service, a web server and application, that re-publishes it anew any time anyone requests it.

But anyways, I agree that you guys are perfectly reasonable about it, I just don't think that we should pretend that the community really has a say over this or an overriding authority when we don't at this point. At the very least it's in a conversation like this - discussing the idea of denying requests to take down - when we should be dealing with the legalese or absence thereof, not acting as if it's all already there.
posted by XMLicious at 11:42 AM on December 13, 2011


I just don't think that we should pretend that the community really has a say over this or an overriding authority when we don't at this point

What kind of say would you propose the community have? (Asking for real, no snark, tone is hard on the internet!) Because "the community" means a lot of different things to different people; as individual members, we are *not* without say - it's just that we don't get to be the *sole* arbiters; it has to happen in the context of a conversation with the mods.

I've had contracts for anthology pieces where I kept copyright of my work in the anthology, and gave them permission to use that piece in that anthology. I didn't have the right to change my mind five years later and ask them to destroy all existing copies of the anthology. I'm not exactly a copyright expert (though I do handle reprint permissions requests as part of my job), but I'm not sure copyright of any sort give the holder this right (i.e. revoke permission after the fact and demand erasure of the material).
posted by rtha at 11:52 AM on December 13, 2011


As I understand it, a lot of the legalese is hypothetical since there haven't been a lot of test cases about people wanting their content taken down from websites when it wasn't a more clear cut case of DMCA-type stuff. I know this is the sort of thing mathowie keeps track of. So I think talking about how we deal with things like this really does fall mostly into the "This is how we deal with things that have happened" realm and not in the "This is how we're legally required to deal with it" realm. At the point at which you are threatening us with lawyers, we stop talking about it in MetaTalk, pretty much. Up until then we'll gladly talk through hypotheticals with the understanding that we don't know how we'd deal with some "so edge case that we've never actually dealt with it before" situations.

Copyright has the concept of "fixing" a work in a particular medium. I don't know it well but I know it enough to know that if, for example, you took a public domain postcard and scanned it and sold the images as your own postcards, you could legally do this AND copyright your own image even though it was a scan of a public domain thing. If you publish an article in a newspaper, you can still own copyright to your content, but the newspaper also owns copyrights to its issue of the newspaper. The issue of your copyright comes up when the newspaper wants to do something else with your content ["refix" it] in, say, a book of newspaper articles. It could not do that without your express permission. MetaFilter is allowed to publish your content, or is a service that you use to publish your own content. MetaFilter is not allowed to reproduce your content in any other medium without your permission.

Copyright does not necessarily make your publication or fixing of something revocable. You can't make the newspaper remove your article from published newspapers but that's mainly because it's really difficult. It's less difficult to do with digital content and there have been come cases where people have done that, but precious few in web forum types of situations. People tend to see the cases that have occurred [I'm sure someone can dig up a few] through the lens of their own perspective about how things like this should happen.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:54 AM on December 13, 2011


jessamyn, for example Matt does say here "we're pushing for a perpetual license" though he may be talking about the future ToS.

I guess I would see this (in the absence of explicit ToS) as something like putting content on a web hosting service. Yeah, you have granted the service provider the ability to publish your content but it's not perpetual and it's an agreement that can be dissolved.

Sure, copyright doesn't give the copyright holder the ability to force anyone to go hunt down paper copies of published works but this is a different thing entirely - MeFi actually has to actively maintain the computer systems that continuously give out new copies of the content upon request.

rtha: What kind of say would you propose the community have?

I definitely think we should be obtaining from the users the perpetual right to republish the content as far as the law allows, in fact I could even go for it being Creative Commons or something, so that it will be possible to publish archives of the site if (heaven forfend) it doesn't last forever. I think that the way the mods have been handling deletions so far is fabulous but should be construed as a courtesy rather than a guarantee.
posted by XMLicious at 12:07 PM on December 13, 2011


cortex, I guess I'm misinterpreting it then, but when jessamyn says things like "the copyright stuff, as we've said before, affects what other people can do with your content, not your ability to have it removed after it has already been “published” here" that appears to state that some portion of normal copyright privileges are not in the possession of the posts and comment authors as copyright holders, and to my (albeit limited) legal understanding that would require at least an implied or understood contract between MeFi and the authors.

It's not necessary to establish a contract. Estoppel might be enough to prevent someone from posting a literary work in a particular place and then later forcing that place to remove it. But you'd have to talk to your lawyer to see whether it fit the set of circumstances here.
posted by grouse at 12:53 PM on December 13, 2011


Sure, copyright doesn't give the copyright holder the ability to force anyone to go hunt down paper copies of published works but this is a different thing entirely - MeFi actually has to actively maintain the computer systems that continuously give out new copies of the content upon request.

I'm not so sure it's that different anymore. This place is scraped by google and god knows who else, and archived on the web. I imagine if you had a *really really* good reason for wanting a (as in, one) question completely nuked - not just made invisible, but gone from the database forever n ever - you might be able to get the folks here to do that, but if you posted it more than 24 hours ago, it almost certainly exists in places that mathowie has little or no control over.
posted by rtha at 1:12 PM on December 13, 2011


I guess I would see this (in the absence of explicit ToS) as something like putting content on a web hosting service.

A web hosting service that you control has the explicit understanding that you may add/remove content from it at any time. MetaFilter is pretty clear both through use and through guidelines FAQ that once things are "published" here, removing them is a headache and we prefer not to do it but will if the situation warrants. I don't think we're in very big disagreement here, but your examples are really not at all like the situation we have here.

We are not interested in a situation where anyone can republish the content here. I understand how such a model would work, but it's not our model and if we were going to move to a different licensing model for content moving forward we'd basically be scrapping MeFi and starting over which is something none of us are interested in doing.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:33 PM on December 13, 2011


jessamyn: "This is actually sometimes the problem. People who only know AskMe as the funny little question closet on the side of MetaFilter can get confused and surprised when they see their question topping Google for their family member's rare disease or problematic personality tic."

If you think this is something lost on most posters (which I agree is probably true), why not say something to this effect on the posting page?
posted by mkultra at 1:34 PM on December 13, 2011


grouse - how can the rights to publish the content get transferred from the copyright holder to someone else without some kind of agreement? (An agreement is what I'm referring to as a contract because I thought that they were synonymous in law, perhaps that's the wrong terminology.)

Just looking at the Wikipedia definition of estoppel, which talks about whether something has "been established as the truth... by his own deed, acts, or representations, either express or implied" (quoting from American Jurisprudence) it doesn't seem like a replacement for an agreement or an alternative to one, it looks like it would be a means to assert whether or not the copyright holder ever agreed to the work being published in the first place.

rtha - I'm pretty sure that there is going to be a distinction between past acts of publishing and future acts of publishing. Copyright isn't a matter of controlling all copies of a work everywhere - whether or not a copies are in the database on MeFi's servers or in backup tapes isn't the issue, it's the activity of giving out new copies of it upon request that would be under the discretion of the copyright holder (or one who hadn't signed away the license to do this, at least.)
posted by XMLicious at 1:34 PM on December 13, 2011


jessamyn - On many if not most forum sites, though, you can also log in and edit or delete posts and comments you've made. My point with the web host analogy was that using a site or service to publish something once or giving permission for someone else to do it once doesn't inherently and generally involve it being irrevocable or impossible to change your mind later on.

I definitely understand that it's a headache for you mods to do, I'm just saying that this difficulty doesn't appear to me to translate into an implied surrender of the copyright holder's privileges.
posted by XMLicious at 1:48 PM on December 13, 2011


MetaFilter: YOU MUST COMPLY WITH THIS UNREASONABLE REQUEST POSTHASTE
posted by epersonae at 1:55 PM on December 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


why not say something to this effect on the posting page?

The posting page is already a mess of warnings and caveats that we've been looking into revisting and maybe revising somewhat. We sort of feel that beyond some reasonable point, folks not understanding how the internet works is something we don't have much control over. So we try to make certain things clear here but some of the stuff we just explain when it comes up. There is literally no way to make a list of warnings and caveats that is bulletproof enough that it will take care of every contingency so we try to balance not being overly verbose with being clear about the things we think we need to be clear about. Most people understand that a question on AskMe is public, some people don't quite grok how public until they see it.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:16 PM on December 13, 2011


If you ask a question, you should be prepared for the answers. Or don't ask.

In an ideal world, yes. If wishes were horses, etc.

I think that when a querent doesn't like the answers they're getting (even when the answers are legitimate) and asks to have the question removed, that's often the lesser of two evils—the greater evil being that the querent will go on to argue at great length in the thread with all the people trying to provide helpful answers.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 2:28 PM on December 13, 2011


how can the rights to publish the content get transferred from the copyright holder to someone else without some kind of agreement?

There doesn't need to be any transfer of rights, per se, only an implied promise that you won't sue someone for leaving your comment up after you pressed a button that said "Post Comment." It would clearly be unfair for you to take an action that causes someone else to automatically infringe your copyright and then turn around and sue them for this infringement.
posted by grouse at 2:51 PM on December 13, 2011


Construing the button press as a contract or promise not to engage in litigation over the implied unwritten agreement you're making with MeFi would be way sketchier than it just implying that you grant a perpetual irrevocable right to publish the content.

Also, posting doesn't cause someone else to automatically infringe your copyright simply because the measure required to cease publishing at some point in the future is manual rather than automated.
posted by XMLicious at 4:14 PM on December 13, 2011


When people request for their AskMe posts to be deleted, it's usually because they're being ripped apart and raked over the coals, and don't need YET ANOTHER person piling on to say the same thing. Rest assured, the poster in question GETS IT, they know they're a bad person or whatever, they don't need any more 'advice'.

Also, as someone who's seen plenty of questions derailed by bad phrasing or poor word choice, I can sympathize with someone who's being savaged over a misunderstanding, and would really just rather the whole thing be gone.

Deleting questions amounts to an act of mercy on the part of the mods, and I think it needs to remain a viable option.
posted by Afroblanco at 5:27 PM on December 13, 2011 [5 favorites]


On the copyright derail, I've always though of metafilter as similar to a site I run which allows photos to be uploaded. I state in my TOS that although the photographer retains all copyright to the photo, they also, by uploading the photo, grant me a license to use the photo on my website and in site-specific promotional materials in perpetuity, and that while they may ask, it is at my option to decide whether to remove a photo once it's on the site.

In other words, I don't claim to own the photograph, and cannot sell it to someone else for use elsewhere, but do have the right to display it once they've made the decision to upload it, whether they change their mind in the future or not. The reality is I will occasionally delete photos if there is a compelling reason, but it has to be that, compelling.

Mind, I occasionally get people who have no right to uploading images, and I do immediately take those down if later the copyright holder shows up and says "uh, no." But that's not the situation here.
posted by maxwelton at 5:56 PM on December 13, 2011


The posting page is already a mess of warnings and caveats... --- tl;dr.
posted by crunchland at 7:52 PM on December 13, 2011


There's that old false dichotomy of "Oh I'm just being honest" but it's 100% possible to be both nice and honest- it really really is.

“People who are brutally honest get more satisfaction out of the brutality than out of the honesty.” Richard Needham
posted by mreleganza at 5:42 AM on December 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


As for my own experience, not long ago I asked about the best way to do A Questionable Thing. For the most part, people clambered to tell me not to do the Questionable Thing, which is not surprising, but they (well, not everyone) were incredibly judge-y, presumptuous, and mean in expressing this.

I used the contact form to request the question be deleted. I did not give a reason. Matt deleted the question without asking for one.

For this, I am grateful.
posted by mreleganza at 5:47 AM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


People who are brutally honest get more satisfaction out of the brutality than out of the honesty.

When preparing to offer advice, I've learned to ask myself three questions first: Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary?
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:15 AM on December 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


To be fair, this is one of those situations where we'd strongly encourage you to either post an update to the thread trying to get commenters on track or just go for a walk and let the thread settle down for a bit.

I did both, but basically, it continued on and was the first time I was disappointed with Ask. Mostly, though, I didn't want new folks wading in and wasting their time answering stuff that also wasn't relevant to my question at that point.

It was extremely frustrating.
posted by yeloson at 8:09 AM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


I had one question about asking how to find a good lawyer and instead got hand-wavey legal advice from non-lawyers. Had I known that, I would have deleted the question once I saw the thread was just spiralling off away from my question.

Do you mean this question? Because I do not think that is an accurate summary of that question. Your question didn't even mention lawyers. Later, after a couple of people suggested a lawyer, you added this in a comment downthread:
Ok, so rider to the question:

Anyone know good IP/Copyright lawyers in the Bay Area?
Then you marked this answer, this answer, and this answer as best answers, none of which tell you how to find a good lawyer. So either I have got the wrong question here or your memory of how that question went is inaccurate.
posted by grouse at 1:44 PM on December 14, 2011


To be fair, some of the answers are still a good example of this kind of thing. Saying something like "I'm not sure how you think ideas work" because a layperson doesn't have a grasp on a niche area of law is really unnecessarily rude.
posted by the young rope-rider at 2:24 PM on December 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


grouse,

You're right. My memory about that is wrong, and I think that was a pretty shitty time for me, specifically because it was the first time (and I hope only) that I had my writing plagiarized for a for-profit, written product. Actually, looking back there was 1 great answer and some ok ones. You will notice, though, that my question about lawyers is the 4th comment, so it's not very late in the conversation.

My favoriting was mostly trying to steer the conversation TOWARDS actionable advice.

That said, "I'm not a lawyer but I'm going to tell you why you shouldn't get more information from a lawyer while telling you how I think copyright works" seems not a great contribution to any discussion.
posted by yeloson at 10:03 PM on December 14, 2011


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