A "staff" indicator for taz December 23, 2011 8:10 AM   Subscribe

Did I miss a meeting? I cannot figure out why taz doesn't have a nifty "staff" indicator when she posts (example). Hope me?
posted by Irontom to MetaFilter-Related at 8:10 AM (74 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

The staff flag only exists on the gray. And taz has one!
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 8:11 AM on December 23, 2011


Staff tags only appear on the grey, nobody else has them on the other sites either.
posted by Dr Dracator at 8:11 AM on December 23, 2011


The [staff] labels only appear in MetaTalk.
posted by lilac girl at 8:12 AM on December 23, 2011


We all have them here, we all don't have them on the rest of the site.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:12 AM on December 23, 2011


On the official Rocky Horror Picture Show forums, Richard O'Brien has a "riff raff" tag.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:13 AM on December 23, 2011 [11 favorites]


But shouldn't the mods have them in the rest of the site, so comments like "[fixed tag]" make more sense?
posted by John Cohen at 8:15 AM on December 23, 2011


Jessamyn's statement is the most logically complete. With the other statements it may be possible that only taz on Metatalk has a staff label.

To be complete: The Mods and only the Mods have a staff badge on Metatalk. Nobody, not even the mods, have a staff badge on the rest of the site.
posted by vacapinta at 8:16 AM on December 23, 2011 [4 favorites]


Whatever man, I can sniff a plainclothes mod from a mile away.
posted by Think_Long at 8:16 AM on December 23, 2011 [18 favorites]


I used to know some dudes in a punk band named Staff.

Their gimmick was that they wore thrift-store t-shirts with 'Staff' printed in big letters across the back.
posted by box at 8:16 AM on December 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


I seem to remember the reason that staff tags aren't in the blue/green being that the mods wanted to engage with the site in a user capacity as well as a staff capacity...
posted by cranberrymonger at 8:17 AM on December 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


If you suddenly get a sense of existential doubt and wonder if you've actually been seeing the "staff" icon next to taz' name in Metatalk, you may look here to be reassured.
posted by koeselitz at 8:18 AM on December 23, 2011


All my comments have the nifty [chaff] indicator.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:21 AM on December 23, 2011


You have to ask a mod three times if they're a mod. If they deny it on the third time, it's entrapment.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 8:22 AM on December 23, 2011 [16 favorites]


Of course access to the Violet Metafilter allows you see all the colorfully descriptive tags placed next to user's names.
posted by The Whelk at 8:22 AM on December 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


But shouldn't the mods have them in the rest of the site

We don't think so, no. The small-tags-and-brackets, while usable by anyone, pretty much indicates "this is when a mod is speaking as a mod" and the rest of the time we interact on the site just like normal people. There are some notable exceptions to this [i.e. times when our participation and our mod-particpation overlaps a little] but we've gotten no indication that this is confusing to people or problematic for them. It would be problematic for every comment we make on all the subsites to have big staff indicators next to them. We think it would weirdly status our contributions in ways that we're not comfortable with and it would be a visual indicator of something that doesn't need to be indicated. Most of our participation in MeTa is "as mods" most of our participation on the rest of the site is "as users" and we have a stylistic indicator to point out when we're very specifically speaking as moderators.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:26 AM on December 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


So, why doesn't vacapinta have a staff icon? Not actually officially staff?
posted by LionIndex at 8:31 AM on December 23, 2011


All my comments have the nifty [chaff] indicator.

My stores management system is carefully configured to dispense the appropriate quantity of chaff and flames, based on the type of incoming call-out.
posted by Alterscape at 8:38 AM on December 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


So, why doesn't vacapinta have a staff icon? Not actually officially staff?

I think they gave vacapinta an actual staff.
posted by cashman at 8:43 AM on December 23, 2011


I don't know why people are ignoring the first part of your post. Yes, you missed a meeting. And it was your turn to bring snacks.
posted by FishBike at 8:53 AM on December 23, 2011 [12 favorites]


It would be problematic for every comment we make on all the subsites to have big staff indicators next to them. We think it would weirdly status our contributions in ways that we're not comfortable with and it would be a visual indicator of something that doesn't need to be indicated.

BoingBoing offers a good example of this problem with random, non-authoritative comments that happen to have been written by moderators highlighted all out of proportion to the value of the comment. Of course, their "staff" indicators are not badges, but more akin to "best comment" highlighting (in Ask Metafilter style) so that increases the visibility of the problem. It's an odd social dynamic.

But it's not necessarily a question of all-or-nothing. It would be perfectly reasonable to find that the moderator posting interface supports both regular/staff modes. From a UI perspective, something as simple as a checkbox could do the small-tags-and-brackets thing automatically, while appending the staff badge. Or some pattern matching could look for the manual application of staff "voice" and cross-reference that with the list of moderators, applying the staff badge when appropriate.

I would imagine that the members (or users) who find the current vernacular confusing are also the least likely to understand the available channels for expressing their confusion and the least likely to make their voices heard.
posted by Jeff Howard at 8:58 AM on December 23, 2011


We waver about how much we need to work on issues where there isn't much evidence that in their current state they're actually causing problems. We sort of break down the userbase in this way

- know who the mods are and want them indicated - there are greasemonkey scripts that do this quite well
- know who the mods are and don't want them indicated - the current state of affairs except for MeTa
- don't know who the mods are and want them indicated - we use fairly specific syntax for our mod statements that are very rarely aped by other users and anyone "pretending" to be a mod is told specifically not to do that, we email users directly who seem confused and don't wait for them to come to us
- don't know who the mods are and don't care - frictionless for the most part

So I get what you're saying Jeff Howard, but our feeling is that if we're getting almost no feedback that this is a feature that would be helpful, it's not one that rises high on our "to do" list. We have a contact form, MeMailability that specifically indicates our mod status, profile pages that mention that we work here, an indication in the FAQ and the wiki of who the mods are, and past that it can be tough to tell if this is a solution in search of a problem or not. We already take the extra step of indicating our mod comments on the rest of the site, I'm not sure taking a step beyond small tags and brackets is solving a problem for anyone.

Again, I get that this is a feature that would be trivial to implement. At the same time there's lots of stuff that we could be doing that we don't just because we don't feel that there's any call for it. People who are confused enough that they have signed up for membership but can't find the contact form or MeMail or the FAQ [and there are some, but there are not many] are likely to have problems here that are more serious than not knowing who the mods are. At some level this is what differentiates us from a site that is geared towards "the public." As a member-based site there are certain UI choices that we can make that may have slightly more friction than something that has to by its nature be usable by the widest group of users.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:12 AM on December 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Mods and only the Mods have a staff badge on Metatalk. Nobody, not even the mods, have a staff badge on the rest of the site.

I wear a cape when posting, and nothing else.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:24 AM on December 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


I used to know some dudes in a punk band named Staff. -- box

True story: I knew some guys in a punk band called "Seamen." They wore sailor suits on stage. You can imagine the rest of the gag. Or not.
posted by spitbull at 9:36 AM on December 23, 2011


I can sniff a plainclothes mod from a mile away. --- they don't smell that bad.
posted by crunchland at 10:11 AM on December 23, 2011


"On the official Rocky Horror Picture Show forums, Richard O'Brien has a 'riff raff' tag."

I so much want this to be true. It's like wanting to believe in Santa, except entirely different.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 10:20 AM on December 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


"this is when a mod is speaking as a mod"

I prefer 'ex cathedra'.
posted by empath at 10:29 AM on December 23, 2011


I missed the original post rolling out the staff badges for MetaTalk but I'm curious about the thinking behind the feature. It seems like this area of the site would be where the staff badges are least necessary, given that staff presence is more ubiquitous here, and presumably more familiar to the members who frequent MetaTalk. Is it just for one-off flame out posts?

The categories you mention are along the all-or-nothing axis. I think your fourth category could be disaggregated (what are mods?) but there's at least one other category for "don't know (or do know) who the mods are and want them identified only when they're doing their mod job, but not otherwise." This is what you're already doing with the staff voice, at least for those who understand the syntax. The staff badge just makes it more obvious.

This isn't my hill to die on, but I got the impression upstream you were viewing staff badges as an all-or-nothing proposition. I'm theorizing that it's potentially more granular than that, with no community downside to only using them for mod-like things, unless I'm missing something. Maybe there's an upside to having a special code that allows community members who bother to learn the language to feel like insiders. In any event, I would be cautious about relying on silence as the best judge for this situation. Absence of evidence vs evidence of absence and all that.

Finally, I want to clarify that I was only talking about triviality from a UI perspective (you don't even really need a UI). Implementation is a whole other barrel of worms, especially for the pattern matching element.
posted by Jeff Howard at 10:34 AM on December 23, 2011


No, we've definitely thought about the possibility of having it being a more granular/modal thing. That just becomes a little more complicated presentationally, and means that everything we say on the site then requires of us a decision as to whether to explicitly identify that comment as In Staff Mode or not, which is a drag. As it is, the customary markup we use is a decent hint when we want to be totally unambiguous that [this is a mod aside] but there are fuzzy spots where something's a bit more in the vein of a knowing look to people who should know better in what is otherwise a more casual comment.

Basically it's making things subtly more complicated, and adding more friction to our basic engagement around here, for not a huge win.

If people are silently enduring a problem instead of letting us know about it that's a bummer but we make a whole lot of effort to be accessible and at a certain point taking us up on that at all is part of the level of engagement we need from folks if its something we're going to consider changing about how the site works.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:45 AM on December 23, 2011


I can sniff a plainclothes mod from a mile away. --- they don't smell that bad.

Except for Meatbomb... we have to grease him up with lanolin everytime he travels back to the astral plane.
posted by Jahaza at 11:08 AM on December 23, 2011


He likes being greased up, hence all the ectoplasm.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:10 AM on December 23, 2011


You don't need to be worrying because I am the cool mod and won't rat you out anyways.
posted by Meatbomb at 11:22 AM on December 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


You can see them on the rest of the site if you wear special sunglasses.
posted by Hoopo at 11:29 AM on December 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


We think it would weirdly status our contributions in ways that we're not comfortable with...

But you're otherwise comfortable with your contributions being statused?

That would make me feel pretty squicky.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 11:42 AM on December 23, 2011


But you're otherwise comfortable with your contributions being statused?

What? No. People do all sorts of up/down status jockeying on this site for various reasons. My point is that we don't feel comfortable with our contributions on the rest of the site, at times when we're just interacting like users, having some sort of "a mod said this!" indicator. I'm aware that we can't totally divorce ourselves entirely from the fact that we work here, but I'd like to be treated like a user when I'm interacting like a user.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:45 AM on December 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


I used to know some dudes in a punk band named Staff.

I bet their music was infectious. Oh, wait. That was Staphylococcus.
posted by Hey, Zeus! at 11:50 AM on December 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Those are compelling rationales. Both the mental friction of constantly choosing between cortex and rodimus cortex, and the need for staff voice granularity at the sentence level rather than just the individual comment level.

I'm not saying that anyone is silently enduring a problem. They would need to be able to articulate it as a problem first, and I'm not sure that newcomers have the framework for that. And if they can't articulate that it's solvable or that there's anyone who could do the solving then it must just be how things work around here. There's some busybody in a bunch of the threads who seems to get their way for some reason. Whatever. It shouldn't need to rise to the level of "villagers with pitchforks" to qualify for consideration. There are ways to identify improvements with out waiting for the problem to come to you.

I'd like to be treated like a user when I'm interacting like a user.

Is jessamyn_prime registered? Problem solved!
posted by Jeff Howard at 11:55 AM on December 23, 2011


'Tis the season to remark on the staffs and staff-nots.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:59 AM on December 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


They would need to be able to articulate it as a problem first, and I'm not sure that newcomers have the framework for that.

So you're saying people who have the intelligence to grasp the framework of usernames, paying money, and making a comment don't have the framework to make another comment or ask a question?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:01 PM on December 23, 2011


i understand the interest on the part of mods to be able to freely interact as regular users on the site. But particularly for new users, a simple tag that indicates that it is a mod who is telling people to 'knock it off' with certain comments rather than just some other user would seem to be very useful. I remember back when I joined, it was a bit puzzling at first -- "who the fuck does this person think they are??" etc. I only got the names down because I started hanging around in MeTa. If you don't hang around in MeTa, there's no particular reason that people would know who the mods are, particularly if they are not engaging with the site on a daily basis. Even for regular users, if they stay away from MeTa they may not quickly come to grips with who new mods are, and comments left by new mods can easily appear to be just some random user making a request but writing it in small letters (which, of course, anyone can do).

If it's not easily workable for there to be a 'staff' tag when comments are deleted or requests for people to dial things back are made, then other options would simply be an explicitly say "Hi, mod here..." before each comment deletion/note drop etc, or to have a non-personally identified "staff" account used for the comment deletions/note drops (though that has the downside of losing the personal accountability dynamic between moderators and community members, which would be a shame.)
posted by modernnomad at 12:02 PM on December 23, 2011


So my attempt to stab the verbing of the noun status came up lame. Oh well.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:14 PM on December 23, 2011


We try pretty hard to use the staff style when making "knock it off"-type comments and that seems to work out. The first six weeks or so I'd sometimes get flagged leaving a mod note but that's pretty much disappeared, so I'm guessing people have picked up on my status just fine.

A generic mod account is not a good idea - the individual accountability is a fundamental part of the culture, and taking that away would be a massive change. The only times I've seen that even kind of work is when the site has outsourced their moderation and they have a whole bunch of interchangable minimum-wage people running very, very simple decision trees - and even then they usually number the accounts and issue them one to a person for internal tracking.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 12:17 PM on December 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


So you're saying people who have the intelligence to grasp the framework of usernames, paying money, and making a comment don't have the framework to make another comment or ask a question?

Well, my next sentence expanded on that. I'm talking about recognizing a facet of the site as the class of annoyance that qualifies as a solvable problem. Otherwise, why bothering griping about it. Like, who do I complain to about it being 32 degrees outside right now? No one, as far as I know. Oh well. I'll just accept that it's cold and deal with it. But if I knew there was a Directorate of the Weather then I might be bothered to lick a stamp.

Also, Metafilter users aren't necessarily Metafilter members with the requisite understanding of usernames, five dollar fees or the ability to comment. Even members don't necessarily comment. Asking of questions isn't a behavior that's exposed to non-staff analysis, but I'd imagine that it represents a bare minority of members/users.
posted by Jeff Howard at 12:18 PM on December 23, 2011


A generic mod account is not a good idea

Sorry, I was kidding about naming mods after Transformers.
posted by Jeff Howard at 12:20 PM on December 23, 2011


*stops drafting blueprints for Autobot costume*
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:51 PM on December 23, 2011


Oh well.

Sorry, I am terrible at jokes.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:22 PM on December 23, 2011


I wear a cape when posting, and nothing else.

I prefer my Snake Eyes cowl.
posted by P.o.B. at 3:10 PM on December 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


I actually had to go to Target to buy extra pajamas so I'd have something to wear to work in the winter.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 3:14 PM on December 23, 2011 [11 favorites]


staff or no staff tag, I hate you so hard. so so hard.
posted by Think_Long at 3:34 PM on December 23, 2011


I actually had to go to Target to buy extra pajamas so I'd have something to wear to work in the winter.

I've been trying to convince my family members to get me a Forever Lazy to wear while I work from home. Since you get two when you order, I figure I'd get a navy one and a grey one. The navy one would be the "formal" one that I wear to work.

My wife won't let anyone get me one though.
posted by LionIndex at 4:50 PM on December 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


Matt tweeted this earlier today:
In my perfect world, it would be possible to get custom embroidered Forever Lazy PJs overnighted to all your employees before xmas.
So I don't even know what to think.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:56 PM on December 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


If you're getting uniforms, then PJs are the way to go.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:01 PM on December 23, 2011


I got footie pjs a few years ago for holidaytime and they had glow-in-the-dark dinosaurs on them. These would be my *second* favorite footie pjs if they did arrive.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:09 PM on December 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


So, why doesn't vacapinta have a staff icon? Not actually officially staff?
Still waiting for an answer on this.
posted by unliteral at 5:16 PM on December 23, 2011


He has always been a volunteer. We've offered to pay him, he has said no. He has a real day job. Since taz has been on staff he's still got Midnight Mod access, I think, but he's always been non-staff. Not in any bad way, just not staff.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:17 PM on December 23, 2011


NPR has been telling me that pajamagram.com has hooded footie pjs for sale.

I think matching units for the entire staff is in order, even if they don't arrive in time for Xmas.
posted by hippybear at 6:08 PM on December 23, 2011


i'm still waiting for my smock tag.
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 6:55 PM on December 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


PJ uniforms or not, we're going to have another no-pants club meeting about the rules if this talk of wearing PJs continues.
posted by P.o.B. at 8:15 PM on December 23, 2011


LionIndex: "My wife won't let anyone get me [a Forever Lazy] though."

It's because of the poop flap, right? Because even though they're ridiculous, they have a cute charm until they start telling you about that feature. Then it's ruined, even as a gag gift. Because of the emphasis on gag.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:00 PM on December 23, 2011


I still haven't seen tax post in this thread, so I'm still skeptical.

I've also never seen cortex and Brandon Blatcher in the same room together, so I'm skeptical there too.
posted by slogger at 10:23 PM on December 23, 2011


tax=taz. Damn autocorrect.
posted by slogger at 10:24 PM on December 23, 2011


In all seriousness though, why doesn't pb get a staff tag too? Even though he doesn't mod, his voice on feature requests and all things mefi tech are as official as God.
posted by slogger at 10:28 PM on December 23, 2011


It's because of the poop flap, right?

Yeah that's pretty much it.
posted by LionIndex at 10:33 PM on December 23, 2011


I used to know some dudes in a punk band named Staff. -- box

Lead singer's name was Rod, right?

Their music was hugely comforting. So much so that it's goodness and mercy will be playing in my head for the rest of my days.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:02 PM on December 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


I still haven't seen tax post in this thread, so I'm still skeptical.

I came for the 1040A forms, but I stayed for the poop flaps.
posted by taz (staff) at 11:57 PM on December 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


pb does have a staff tag. They just don't show when you make posts, I guess? Without a poop flap, I would not consider a onesie pajama solution because it is COLD in Vermont and I'm not getting entirely disrobed just to pee.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:10 AM on December 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


On the official Rocky Horror Picture Show forums, Richard O'Brien has a "riff raff" tag.

He also gets the "Dad" tag on Phineas and Ferb forums.
posted by drezdn at 7:52 AM on December 24, 2011


> they had glow-in-the-dark dinosaurs

My sister made my dad a nightshirt with glow in the dark elements but forgot to tell him about it. When he returned to bed after peeing (and charging up the glow), he happened to look under the covers and see himself glowing. He was surprised
posted by morganw at 3:56 PM on December 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Without a poop flap, I would not consider a onesie pajama solution

You could wear a union suit with a drop seat. (In real life too.)
posted by longsleeves at 6:08 PM on December 24, 2011


Um. I thought a union suit with a drop seat was a onesie pajama with a poop flap. Is there some sort of sleepwear-defecation-technology terminological distinction here that I'm unaware of?
posted by nebulawindphone at 3:30 PM on December 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


"...sleepwear-defecation-technology terminological distinction..."

Weirdly and disturbingly demonstrating the wondrous je-ne-sais-quoi of MetaFilter.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 4:49 PM on December 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is the poop-flap architected for girl-pee? I didn't think came far enough forward? Or are there two flaps? I'm confused.
posted by SakuraK at 9:49 PM on December 25, 2011


SakuraK, I once owned a union suit (red) that opened with buttons from roughly the pubic bone all the way around to about mid-pelvis in back, suitable for a range of eliminatory and other behavior.
posted by tangerine at 11:59 PM on December 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


> I can sniff a plainclothes mod from a mile away.
>> --- they don't smell that bad.


Not bad at all. Kind of like coffee and doughnuts.
posted by 3.2.3 at 6:23 AM on December 26, 2011


So, why doesn't vacapinta have a staff icon? Not actually officially staff?
Still waiting for an answer on this.
posted by unliteral


He has always been a volunteer. We've offered to pay him, he has said no. He has a real day job. Since taz has been on staff he's still got Midnight Mod access, I think, but he's always been non-staff. Not in any bad way, just not staff.
posted by jessamyn (staff)


Yep. What jessamyn said. If you ever get the mefi trivia question "Who is the only regular user who has access to the mod panel but is not a mod." I am the answer.

I've taken a backseat now that taz is on board. So I guess I'm retired though I have offered to help cover if I am needed again, so that is probably why I still have mod access.
posted by vacapinta at 8:30 AM on December 28, 2011


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