You should knock off the sermons January 24, 2012 8:20 PM   Subscribe

This post reads less like an interesting topic or link and more like a heavy handed call to action blog post. Can the post be deleted or failing that, could people please avoid this horrible writing convention?
posted by Brandon Blatcher to Etiquette/Policy at 8:20 PM (260 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

Disagree. I'd like to know why the tone of that post is only offensive to men so far. It is a call to action, if one believes that reproductive coercion is morally wrong and should be stopped. It's not even that heavy-handed.
posted by fuq at 8:25 PM on January 24, 2012 [11 favorites]


The OP of that post is pretty adamant that they are completely in the right for posting in exactly the manner in which they did, complete with insinuating that anyone who takes them to task for their framing is utterly disinterested in any of the umbrella issues they list in the FPP, and goes further to say that anyone who isn't interested in reading the post because of the framing has great moral failings and needs to feel shame about that.

Of course, the comment in which they said that was deleted (as was my response to said comment). For that I'm probably grateful, but still a bit taken aback at the now-deleted attack on my character for questioning the words they used in their post.
posted by hippybear at 8:25 PM on January 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'm not in love with the framing of that post, either, nor am I particularly in love with the discussion on tone that followed (I'm even less in love with the fact that I added a comment to that derail), but the post itself is pretty good, and so is a lot of the discussion that followed.
posted by infinitywaltz at 8:28 PM on January 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


The OP of that post is pretty adamant that they are completely in the right for posting in exactly the manner in which they did, complete with insinuating that anyone who takes them to task for their framing is utterly disinterested in any of the umbrella issues they list in the FPP, and goes further to say that anyone who isn't interested in reading the post because of the framing has great moral failings and needs to feel shame about that.

I did not see that comment. Mods, can it be reproduced? Not that I don't believe hippybear, but would rather see the actual wording before commenting on this piece of information.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:30 PM on January 24, 2012


Re the framing of the post:

You should also read this if you care about bioethics, medical decorum, feminism, women in academia, the ethical behavior of philosophers, or, you know, justice. If you care about those last four things, you should have been reading Feminist Philosophers already.

Yeah, I don't like the framing of the post.
posted by sweetkid at 8:30 PM on January 24, 2012 [8 favorites]


We talked about this when it went up and felt like it was a post from a new-ish user and that the tone was less than great but the linked stuff was really pretty interesting and we felt people would like it and there would probably be some "hey less editorializing next time" comments which would have been fine and self-correcting for the OP. And the thread was going okay but then turned into a weird fighty thing with the OP [who, yes, probably needs a polite lesson in "how we do things here"] and a bunch of people who sort of wouldn't leave it alone. So I'm happy the derail was brought here because it felt like people who wanted to talk about the article weren't able to.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:31 PM on January 24, 2012


The post was written in a weird (for MetaFilter) tone, but the linked posts are pretty good and worthy of discussion. We've tried to re-rail the discussion, can people take their gripes here instead of continuing in the thread? Deleting the post over a slightly off personal tone seems a bit much since the subject of the post isn't like that.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 8:31 PM on January 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


It feels like good content with not-great framing and maybe the latter bit coming from some mefi-specific tonedeafness from the poster. Sort of a bumpy-but-manageable situation as a one off, is my take. Jess left a note to try and settle down the thread itself.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:31 PM on January 24, 2012


TRIPLE PLAY
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:31 PM on January 24, 2012 [50 favorites]


Oh Jesus Christ. I hate to do this but, fine: Hi. I have ovaries and did not like the tone of the post. Is my opinion valid?

Have we not talked about how "should read this" is a bad post and "will want to read this" is a good post enough? How this site is a place primarily for sharing neat stuff on the internet and how a fair chunk of the membership, myself included, would happily give $5 and a sturdy crate stamped Pear's Transparent to anyone who sees the audience which reads this site primarily as fine and fluffy tinder for sparking their preferred revolution?

But hey, don't listen to me, I didn't want to read the post and therefore hate justice.
posted by Diablevert at 8:32 PM on January 24, 2012 [32 favorites]


Mods, can it be reproduced?

Really we prefer not to do that sort of thing without the OPs okay, no.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:32 PM on January 24, 2012


Let's Talk About Reproductive Norm Enforcement, Baby. An anonymous philoso-blogger recounts, in an honest, intelligent, compelling, and occasionally poignant way, the process of undergoing medically necessary surgery that would cause infertility. If you care about the reproductive expectations with which women are saddled by contemporary society, you should read this. You should also read this if you care about bioethics, medical decorum, feminism, women in academia, the ethical behavior of philosophers, or, you know, justice. If you care about those last four things, you should have been reading Feminist Philosophers already.

Shorter, more neutral version:

Reproductive Norm Enforcement Filter: An anonymous philoso-blogger recounts the process of undergoing medically necessary surgery that would cause infertility, in a series of posts that touches on the reproductive expectations with which women are saddled by contemporary society, bioethics, medical decorum, feminism, women in academia, the ethical behavior of philosophers, and justice. Via Feminist Philosophers.
posted by MonkeyToes at 8:34 PM on January 24, 2012 [8 favorites]


Yeah, if I hadn't reloaded the screen instead of just clicking on the load more comments widget, I'd still have it. I'd be interested to see it posted here (even with my response to it) to see what reaction it brings. But I agree with the mods that it shouldn't be carried in here now that it's deleted unless the OP says it's okay.

Given the tone of that comment, I'd be willing to bet they'd give an OK about it.
posted by hippybear at 8:34 PM on January 24, 2012


I amend to clarify: I meant to say, would happily give them $5 to begone from my sight, pun intended.
posted by Diablevert at 8:34 PM on January 24, 2012


Just finished reading the linked article before coming to MeTa. It's a nice piece of writing - really thoughtful, deeply honest and fascinating. Well worth a post.
posted by mediareport at 8:35 PM on January 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


The use of the word "tone" was unfortunate; "tone argument" means a pretty specific (and almost always inflammatory) thing in feminist circles.

I'll cut & paste my comment from that thread over here:

Well now, it's not about "tone", it's that the MeFi standard is: posts are framed impartially. I would say in large part because if they are not, discussions inevitably derail into discussing the framing of the post rather than the content of the post. The post is supposed to stand on its own without the poster trying to convince everyone of its worth or that they should agree with it.

As to this post, aside from the framing (which I didn't like - not because I necessarily disagree with it, but I prefer posts that are impartially framed as do most members of MeFi) - I was interested in it and the link is good...


My take was that maybe the poster doesn't know the site conventions, is bristling at being taken to task on "tone", and people are being more fighty about it than they need to be. ...And then the derail and the poster's big (deleted) comment.

I'd love to see people be less willing to be so fighty around here. It gets tiring. The link was good, and I don't want members to feel like they have to be defensive all the time. Why not give the benefit of the doubt?
posted by flex at 8:39 PM on January 24, 2012 [11 favorites]


I did not see that comment. Mods, can it be reproduced?

Did something by the poster get deleted? I had assumed hippybear was referring to this undeleted response about the framing of the post.

I don't know if the poster will come look at this but my opinion is that it is great to list all of those aspects that this story is about (and it is a worthwhile story, and a worthwhile discussion, and I'm glad it wasn't deleted but I hope the "tone" derail stops interfering with that discussion now that it is here).

But the specific phrasing - "if YOU CARE about X you SHOULD read this" put me off as well and in my mind violated the ideal around here of really holding down editorializing in posts. And this would have prevented the noise in the thread.
posted by nanojath at 8:43 PM on January 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sorry my first line up there was meant to quote Brandon's question above.
posted by nanojath at 8:44 PM on January 24, 2012


This sounds odd to me. Yes, ya'll take these issues on a case by case basis, so things that look similar may not have the same result.

But phearlz had a controversial AskMe comment remain because the mods weren't sure of the intentions. Now we have a blatant chest beating type of MeFi post where ya'll know the author was trying to make a point and it stays. Weird, from my vantage point.

The links may be interesting, but we've had plenty of poorly framed posts with good links where the mods have delete the posts and advised the OP to make a new post the next day, so I don't see why that couldn't be done in this case.

To be clear, I'm not saying the mods have a radical agenda or are horrible people or that the links in the post are not worthy of being posted or discussed about. But the over the top framing reads as a personal blog post, which I don't think make good posts to MetaFilter.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:46 PM on January 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


The article was interesting, but the tone of the OP was grating, so I just didn't bother participating in the thread. Seems like the best way to avoid rewarding negative behaviour.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:46 PM on January 24, 2012


nanojath: yeah, you missed the giant horrible thing the OPP posted. Probably for the best, but as I said, I'd welcome seeing it posted here. It gives a much clearer picture of the attitude of the OPP about how they choose to frame things in general.
posted by hippybear at 8:46 PM on January 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ugh, the framing of that post is fucking revolting, and I say this as a person who has been dealing with the exact problem discussed in those articles for the past 15 years.
posted by elizardbits at 8:47 PM on January 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Perhaps if the list of 'things people care about' is important to the post, they could be added as tags, to facilitate searching?
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:48 PM on January 24, 2012


The feeling I take away from MetaFilter so often is - that it is way more important to prove you are right than to try to get along.

I am frustrated by this.
posted by flex at 8:50 PM on January 24, 2012 [12 favorites]


I'd like to know why the tone of that post is only offensive to men so far.

I didn't love it, and I'm a haver of lady parts. The linked article is great, and I would love for as many people as possible to read it. I think alienating folks in the FPP is likely keep some readers from clicking through, or otherwise paying attention.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 8:51 PM on January 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Why not give the benefit of the doubt?

I sure didn't want to contribute to the in-thread derail and I wish if people felt strongly enough to say something about it they would just take it straight here, but I feel like the "avoid editorializing" dictate is a good thing and I'm glad it's part of the culture here. When you editorialize in a post, even when it is a topic with clear sides that you feel strongly about, there is this strong implication that if you don't see things exactly as the poster does you are wrong and bad and I think it is just that much more likely to end up in fights rather than discussion.

There is a meaningful difference between saying "these things are important and worth thinking about" and saying "if you care about decency you should be reading this".
posted by nanojath at 8:52 PM on January 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


Color me completely surprised that people were bothered by the tone. Maybe I read a lot of blogs where that kind of phrasing is completely normal but it didn't bother me. I don't take it personally, like YOU NEED TO CARE. It's a rhetorical technique that does nothing for me, but I don't find it offensive either. The follow-up comments from OP seemed defensive and way over the top long so I didn't read them.

Either way, the derail in the thread was not great and I apologize for participating in it.

Brandon, I have no idea why you're comparing an answer in Askme with a post in Metafilter. They're two different animals. Also, one of them involved a potential baby, so...big difference there.
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:57 PM on January 24, 2012 [6 favorites]



I'd like to know why the tone of that post is only offensive to men so far.

I am not a man, and I'm passionate about women's issues. I still disliked the framing of the post (not "tone" as much, as mentioned upthread). I feel like we've been over this many times, that Metafilter isn't anyone's soapbox.
posted by sweetkid at 9:00 PM on January 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Dasein's comment: You're coming off sounding like a self-righterous undergraduate who wants to convert people to your way of seeing the world and pass judgment on those not inclined to spend their free time reading through the blogs of your choosing.

Pot, kettle. It's one thing to provide advice on framing via memail, it's another thing to repeatedly hector a poster on a style issue and derail the thread.

If you have style objections to a post, provide them as polite advice, not a threadshit.
posted by mek at 9:03 PM on January 24, 2012 [5 favorites]


That is not what I'm saying. I agree that "avoid editorializing" is a great convention and I too am glad it's part of the culture here. I agree with your conclusion is well (it is more likely to end up in fights rather than discussion), and all of this, I said to the poster in the thread.

It was not initially presented to the poster that way so I am not surprised she got defensive. It was unfortunate. There was a derail. The derail was cleaned up. Jessamyn left a comment. The thread is completely back on topic now.

I posit the poster would not have felt so provoked if the problems with the framing of the post were presented to her more neutrally. That is what I meant by "giving the benefit of the doubt".
posted by flex at 9:04 PM on January 24, 2012 [5 favorites]


This is really small, but I rankle a little at the term, "Philoso-blogger." The person who wrote the post is a philosopher. She wrote for a blog -- a blog which is also run by a philosopher. When I read, "philoso-blogger," what I think of is someone who has a blog about philosophy but otherwise is cut off from the mainstream world of philosophy -- anyone from an interested novice to an all-out timecube weirdo could count as a "philoso-blogger." Given how serious the issues related to women are within the world of philosophy, it is important to note that this isn't a marginalized voice. Feminist Philosophers is one of the most significant sources of conversation about feminist philosophy and women in professional philosophy online.

Like I said, this is small beans. I'm not shooting any pigeons over it, but I thought I'd bring it up.
posted by meese at 9:06 PM on January 24, 2012


Yeah, I completely agree with those thoughts, flex.
posted by nanojath at 9:07 PM on January 24, 2012


If anyone has a copy of the OP's deleted comment, would you be willing to memail it to me?

As for style v substance: the post at Feminist Philosophers made the rounds a while back, and frankly it's fantastic. So when I saw the post the first thing I thought was "Oh No!" and I flagged it. Those links deserve a better post. I'd be happy to repost them if the mods delete this one, as I'm sure would a dozen other members. (Frankly I'm embarrassed I didn't post it when I read it last month... the whole three part story would have been a serious contender for the Best Post Contest.)
posted by anotherpanacea at 9:07 PM on January 24, 2012


Well, for the record, Dasein's first comment was "This is not an effective way to entice people to read your post.", which the poster then responded to with "But maybe you're right. I do have to admit that I'm a little confused about what exactly you meant. Maybe you meant that a list of relevant concepts is an ineffective way of enticing readers. Alternately, you may have been suggesting that signposting the fact that issues of justice are in play in a post is not a good way to go about getting folks on MeFi to read it. If either of these is true, so much the worse for The Blue. "
posted by hippybear at 9:07 PM on January 24, 2012


I have no idea why you're comparing an answer in Askme with a post in Metafilter. They're two different animals. Also, one of them involved a potential baby, so...big difference there.

The AskMe answer wasn't deleted because the mods weren't sure of the intentions and when they found out the intentions, said it most certainly would have been instantly deleted had they known them. The MeFi post remains despite the mods knowing the intentions of the poster, to make a point and call people to action with the editorializing. The intention axis in comparing the two posts seems off.

Both involved aspects of the bodies of woman and reproduction, so I don't see them as being quite as different as you do.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:09 PM on January 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh Jesus Christ. I hate to do this but, fine: Hi. I have ovaries and did not like the tone of the post. Is my opinion valid?

Of course it's valid. But I always thought that complaints about the framing of the post goes in meTa, not endlessly in the fpp, as was happening.

As I said in a now-deleted comment in the fpp, self-policing is all well and good, but it doesn't have to mean "fuck up the thread for people who want to talk about the linked items". It can mean flagging, memailing the poster, using the contact form, and starting a meTa.
posted by rtha at 9:11 PM on January 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


The use of the word "tone" was unfortunate; "tone argument" means a pretty specific (and almost always inflammatory) thing in feminist circles.

MetaFilter is a general interest site and not a feminist circle. To participate here you'll need to learn about the site's conventions - but forgive me, I am too tired to do the "MetaFilter 101" thing yet again, maybe some other MeFite will be willing to take the time to educate you. In the end, though, it is not our responsibility to bring you out of your ignorance - there are a lot of resources at your disposal if you want to know how things work around here :)
posted by Meatbomb at 9:11 PM on January 24, 2012 [14 favorites]


OP of the thread in question is using the @$_NAME convention, which is a pretty clear indicator that OP is not familiar with the MetaFilter 'style'
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:14 PM on January 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I haven't had time to read the links yet, so I haven't commented there, but: I don't think "you should" is a good non-ironic construction for the front page, basically ever. I'm still going to read the links when I have time, because I do care about those things, so I'm not put off our anything, but there is a place for stridency and the front page ain't it.
posted by Errant at 9:14 PM on January 24, 2012


But I always thought that complaints about the framing of the post goes in meTa, not endlessly in the fpp, as was happening.

Bingo. Much worse posts have had much more polite and restrained criticism. And the particular political context of the subject makes the aggression towards the poster all the more concerning. Whatever legitimate style concerns existed were thoroughly de-legitimated by Dasein's conduct, IMHO.
posted by mek at 9:15 PM on January 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


The framing (or tone, or just general juvenile hectoring) of the language in the FPP is terrible. The issues are interesting, but the framing was not of the standards to which we hold ourselves.
posted by Forktine at 9:16 PM on January 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


using the @$_NAME convention

tbh that is far more gulag-worthy than any errors in tone/framing
posted by elizardbits at 9:16 PM on January 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


Just chipping in to say that while it's true that the green is probably more clear and stringent about answering the question than the blue is about not editorializing, I too share Brandon's reaction that the disparity in the treatment was both noted and thought odd by me.

But hey, I'm certainly biased because that post got right up my nose. I hate, hate, hate being told how to feel about something before having read it and loathe even more being told I'm a bad person for not feeling the way I've been told to feel, and if i could work my will I'd spike that thread off the blue right now, I don't care how many comments it has.

Hey, where'd these purple pants come from?
posted by Diablevert at 9:16 PM on January 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Snarking and criticizing is definitely easier than analyzing, explaining, or attempting to get along.
posted by flex at 9:16 PM on January 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


I read the first article and thought it was really worth a post. I flagged the post for editorializing. (I'm a woman in case that matters. I don't think it does.) I'm glad the discussion about it came here, and I hope it's helpful for the OP for future posts. MetaFilter can be kind of hard to get used to; here's hoping MetaTalk doesn't double down tonight.
posted by juliplease at 9:21 PM on January 24, 2012


I suspect the OP has gone to bed for the night and won't be participating in this thread or granting permission for the mods to reproduce the deleted comment until tomorrow morning. I may be wrong, but they apparently live in Atlanta, where it's well past midnight by this point.
posted by hippybear at 9:23 PM on January 24, 2012


*waves from DC* :)
posted by juliplease at 9:25 PM on January 24, 2012


Not saying everyone in EST has gone to bed. But given the content of the now-deleted comment, I doubt the OPP would miss this chance to state their case here in MeTa if they were awake to do so.
posted by hippybear at 9:27 PM on January 24, 2012


OPP? eek. Are you down with OPP?

That should be OP.
posted by hippybear at 9:27 PM on January 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Of course it's valid. But I always thought that complaints about the framing of the post goes in meTa, not endlessly in the fpp, as was happening.

I was responding to fuq, who wrote:

I'd like to know why the tone of that post is only offensive to men so far.

On the one hand, I agree that ripping the poster a new one for breaking site guidelines is a derail w/i the thread. Which is why I had simply moved on, as I realized that I would be quite tempted to do so were I to get involved in it. Seeing it come into the grey made me prick up my ears b/c i also thought it was weird it had been allowed to stand, and I'm afraid I snapped like a stale Pocky when I saw fuq's comment.

Because, on the other hand, I think it's unreasonable to expect a flagrant violation of the site guidelines to pass without comment in the thread itself, and personally, I thought that was pretty blatant. I don't actually think it's appropriate to just let it sail by in the blue when someone completely ignores community norms --- otherwise, how are they going to learn them? There were probably ways to handle it better from the get go --- but hey, it takes two to tango and it seems like the OP was in pretty deep in terms of helping the derail herself (I haven't seen the deleted comments).
posted by Diablevert at 9:33 PM on January 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


But hey, I'm certainly biased because that post got right up my nose. I hate, hate, hate being told how to feel about something before having read it and loathe even more being told I'm a bad person for not feeling the way I've been told to feel, and if i could work my will I'd spike that thread off the blue right now, I don't care how many comments it has.

Hmm, that may help explain why the comment didn't bother me. Being a woman who doesn't want kids, I have thought about aspects of the post topic a fair bit and I already know how I feel about the issue. The strongest thing I felt regarding the OP was, "Gee, it's too bad the tone of the post seems to have invited derailing and turned away some potential participants." But now I also think it's too bad that it may have gotten some people thinking about the topic in a GRAR mindset rather than a sympathetic mindset. Alas.
posted by mantecol at 9:33 PM on January 24, 2012 [5 favorites]


I'm choosing to believe it stands for "Ontario Provincial Police."
posted by nebulawindphone at 9:40 PM on January 24, 2012


I'm choosing to believe it stands for "Ontario Provincial Police."

Now I have visions of Kim Mitchell when I try to imagine what the OP looks like.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:45 PM on January 24, 2012


repeatedly hector a poster on a style issue and derail the thread

My first comment was "This is not an effective way to entice people to read your post." My second comment responded to the OP's tone - not in the post, but in the OP's responding comment - when he/she said "issues of justice are in play in a post" and "issues surrounding the treatment of women and their access to basic conditions of well-being are centrally relevant to questions of justice." That is, frankly, a rather self-important way to talk about your own post. If pointing that out is hectoring, well, don't try to lecture us about what we should be concerned about if you can't handle a little hectoring in return.

The post reads like a call to arms, not a sharing of something interesting on the web. It's particularly annoying because that sort of framing presupposes agreement with the viewpoint of the poster, and implicitly discounts those who don't see a particular issue through whatever lens the poster chooses to apply - justice, sexual or racial equality, or whatever. Irrespective of the point being made in the linked material, it was terrible framing for an open-ended discussion, and the OP doesn't seem to understand that: "so much the worse for The Blue"; yup, it's our fault for not siding with justice.
posted by Dasein at 9:50 PM on January 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm going to address Meatbomb's snark up there not only because I'm a little worn down by the phrase "Feminism 101" getting some people's backs up (I think they hear it as a criticism saying "you're not informed enough to enter the discussion") - but also I think it's relevant to the sort of situation we're discussing.

Here is a definition of "Feminism 101": Discussions on feminist forums are often disrupted, frequently but not always deliberately, by commentors who post often-seen questions/assertions which end up turning the discussion into arguing about their question/assertion instead of the original issue that was being discussed.

The most memorable time I used "Feminism 101" on MeFi was here. I used it to mean, "I am unhappy that when someone says an obviously uninformed/sexist thing, fifty people get righteously angry and then they pile on to school that person on how very wrong they are, and then a few more people come in to defend the first person, and then the discussion derails into a very basic argument that has been had so many times before, and there is no more energy left in the thread to discuss the actual topic because we are back to... Feminism 101."

When that happens, it's so not productive. A good link doesn't get discussed; people get angry and frustrated; they feel negative about MetaFilter and other members; it may happen that they don't want to participate as often, or they close their accounts.

I feel like most of that could be avoided if people just held back, let one or two people respond to the initial comment as calmly as possible, and then collectively ignored it. Ignore it really really hard, and just go back to the discussion at hand. Is it so important to let that person know they are so very wrong, every last one of us? Why can we not explain once and move on? If the person is genuinely uninformed and not just trolling, a pile-on will only make them defensive.

And back to this topic, when someone breaks the conventions on the site, is it more important to let them know they are so very wrong, everyone with a kick at the can? Or can we not just explain and move on? I'm not saying that's exactly what happened here because it wasn't really a pile-on. But it was a sharp correction, the poster got defensive, those correcting got defensive back (because they were, after all, right), and then it derails. (And it didn't need to happen in the thread, because we have MeTa for that.)

This is where I see the fightiness start all too often. It is harder to ask people to Not Do Something than it is for them to Do Something. Doing Something is more satisfying. You get to be right.
posted by flex at 10:04 PM on January 24, 2012 [32 favorites]


If the person is genuinely uninformed

Uninformed is one thing. However, quite often such a comment is not from someone uninformed, but from someone who disagrees with Feminism 101 dogma.
posted by Ardiril at 10:13 PM on January 24, 2012


Again spot on, flex. Plus, when we're addressing new members, we need to keep in mind these initial experiences will shape their understanding of the site. We need to give people some room to make mistakes and turn them into teachable moments, rather than an excuse for public shaming.
posted by mek at 10:14 PM on January 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Replace "uninformed" with "disagree" - does the thread need to become all about one person's disagreement on something most of the other commenters hold as basic? Does having a bunch of those commenters pile on to tell the disagreeing person that they are very wrong make the disagreeing person suddenly agree with them?

Or does it make the disagreeing person more defensive, more willing to fight, and more entrenched in their disagreement with all these people essentially shouting at them? Is that productive?

I think the point still works with your replacement.
posted by flex at 10:18 PM on January 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


The framing was bad but the article was interesting. The endless threadshitting and arguing over the framing is just dumb.
posted by FunkyHelix at 10:24 PM on January 24, 2012 [6 favorites]


I feel like most of that could be avoided if people just held back, let one or two people respond to the initial comment as calmly as possible, and then collectively ignored it.

Humans. Have you met them? I ask in jest, but --- this is a dynamic you see on every message board on the internet. [1] Metafilter is, if not entirely unique, then at least quite rare in having cultivated a robust set of practices to channel people's natural commenting behavior more constructively than most sites. But if you think a sound scolding in metatalk (well, you're more wistfully sighing, really) is enough to get people to not want to leap to the barricades when they read a comment they disagree with, I've got a bridge I'd like to sell you. The impulse to quibble is the universal, perpetual motion engine of online discussion, and the more outrageous the previous comment is, the stronger the impulse. If people didn't have that impulse there wouldn't be sites like this at all. It's what keeps us all here.





[1] yeah, yeah, here's your XKCD link
posted by Diablevert at 10:25 PM on January 24, 2012


all these people essentially shouting at them?

Better known as "hivemind intolerance" that is precipitated by a lack of nested threads.
posted by Ardiril at 10:29 PM on January 24, 2012


And back to this topic, when someone breaks the conventions on the site, is it more important to let them know they are so very wrong, everyone with a kick at the can? Or can we not just explain and move on? I'm not saying that's exactly what happened here because it wasn't really a pile-on. But it was a sharp correction, the poster got defensive, those correcting got defensive back (because they were, after all, right), and then it derails.

Posters need to be told when they are doing something wrong, otherwise they don't learn.

Multiple kicks seems to be an inevitable consequence of the site when unmoderated. It may not be desirable, but it's been happening for as long as Metafilter has been operating. I can't see it changing anytime soon.

There are only two ways to prevent derails like this: a heavy hand with deletions in the early part of the post thread, which tends to annoy people, or deleting the post entirely. The topic may be worth a post, but few topics are worth a post that will cause fights. If it's a worthwhile link, the post will get reworked and resubmitted. That's would have been the best solution in my view, but I'm just a Monday-morning quarterback here.
posted by bonehead at 10:30 PM on January 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh, it's not like I don't understand that impulse (or that I haven't been there myself!). But I would like to think MeFi can do better than most sites. Wouldn't you?

I don't want a community I spend this much of my time in to be shaped by who can be the loudest, the angriest, the most snarky, and the most right. I want to see all the cool stuff and read all the cool comments that every member can bring to the table, and so I wish it were a little less intimidating for them to do so.

I disagree with "that's what keeps us all here". Reading a thread turn into a fight is, well, boring and discouraging, for the most part. For me it is. I don't think I'm unique in that POV.
posted by flex at 10:40 PM on January 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


Another day, another gender MeTa. Can we do one about penises tomorrow?
posted by Burhanistan at 10:46 PM on January 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


Oh come now. That thread hardly turned into a fight, and the mods nixed it while it was still in the bud, even deleting the most egregious of the fighty comments and a few which surrounded it.

There was very little snark or anger in any of the comments made until the OP dug in heels and started being truly insulting to anyone and everyone who questioned the framing of the post, going so far as to acknowledge that it wasn't the first time their words had been described as pompous and then going to great lengths to make sure that they were sure that anyone who made such an accusation was put in their correct place, complete with aspersions about the character of anyone making such comments and suggesting that they were all of questionable moral character for even broaching the topic.

If there's one thing which MetaFilter really does well, it's community alignment with posting standards through community involvement. I know that I've learned a LOT over the course of my participation here about how to frame FPPs, and if this OP is unwilling to learn such lessons through gentle prodding (nay, is going to argue that they are in fact in the right for crappy framing and that anyone which disagrees with them is inferior) then they do need to be brought down a notch or two through collective engagement.

The argument has been moved to MeTa, as is appropriate, which I acknowledged in my now-deleted comment. But there's very little "most right" happening in any of the actual discussion still remaining in the thread, and if you missed the deleted comment from the OP, you've missed out on a huge dose of "most right" put in the most ugly way possible.
posted by hippybear at 10:48 PM on January 24, 2012


"Another day, another gender MeTa. Can we do one about penises tomorrow?"

This isn't a "gender MeTa".

And there's been a giant ASCII penis posted recently in MeTa that generated a bunch of chuckles so consider your quota met, regardless.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 10:50 PM on January 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I posit the poster would not have felt so provoked if the problems with the framing of the post were presented to her more neutrally.

Yes, because the poster's handiwork certainly made me feel, "boy, there's a person who values neutral delivery of content."
posted by rodgerd at 10:56 PM on January 24, 2012 [6 favorites]


Incidentally, I could hardly agree more with the poster's point-of-view, sense of outrage, or insistence that this involved important matters of justice. After reading the linked article, I wanted to go burn down some buildings, frankly.

But the op-ed framing of the post very definitely violates MeFi community standards for posts, such violations are harmful to the threads which follow, harmful to inclusiveness of the front page, and help move MeFi away from "links you want to follow" to "links you should follow". It's a good link, worthy of posting. But it's a bad post, as written.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 10:56 PM on January 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


My feeling on this is that it's only the poster's second FPP, and they have only a handful of comments on the blue, and none on Metatalk, so it's not a stretch to suppose that they aren't well acquainted with our posting standards. I imagine that they may be more familiar with other sites that have different conventions, and might have felt attacked and mistaken criticism of the post presentation with criticism of posting the subject matter at all, or criticism of the idea that these issues are related to concepts of justice.

From our point of view, once it's clear that a user is made aware of How We Do Things in terms of refraining from editorializing in posts, and then continue to insist on such a framework, it becomes a problem. This was a good post badly presented (for Metafilter), but I think we can accommodate a bit of a learning curve for someone who is essentially a new user, and understand how complaints about tone might have been interpreted to mean something rather different than "this kind of presentation violates site guidelines."
posted by taz (staff) at 11:34 PM on January 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


I agree, OP should knock off the sermons. I expect she will, too, or she won't be round these parts for long.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 11:44 PM on January 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hey flex, I understand the whole "101" thing, really I do. What I said here is snark in the sense that it is sarcastic, but what I am arguing against, I feel, really needs a bit of snark.

1. Fighty soapbox post.
2. People complain that this isn't how we do it here.
3. Person takes issue with the language of our critique, because it doesn't have that meaning in feminist circles.

The whole point of the original disagreement is that MetaFilter is not a feminist action committee, so trying to school people in the terminology of feminism rather than shutting up, listening, and learning is adding insult to injury, eh?
posted by Meatbomb at 11:44 PM on January 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


Can we do one about penises tomorrow?

Circumcision: a global crime against manhood! If you care at all about social justice you *will* read this thread.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:02 AM on January 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


This was a good post badly presented (for Metafilter), but I think we can accommodate a bit of a learning curve for someone who is essentially a new user, and understand how complaints about tone might have been interpreted to mean something rather different than "this kind of presentation violates site guidelines."

I look forward to seeing this patience extended to first-time posts re: circumcision or pro-life positions.
posted by rodgerd at 12:04 AM on January 25, 2012


Eurgh, rodgerd. Like. I know it's meta, but on top of everything else you want to add that? This thread is already doing like... a fragmenting clusterbomb thing with 3,873 small arguments spawning other, smaller arguments.

I get what Meatbomb is trying to do I think, and it was sort of cute, but it creates another strained, unhappy little place in the discussion.

So because I am I guess kind of dumb I am going to try to do some consensus seeking.

I think we can all agree that the OP presented good material, but did so in probably the wrong frame of mind.

"I found this series of essays deeply affecting/persuasive/whatever and wanted to share them with MeFi" would be good, right?

And "These are important and you should read them because, really, they are very important" is kind of what happened and that is not as great.

Ok.

So then I'd say "what is the best way for us to respond as a community when that happens" and I think, again, we'd mostly agree that "get into a big fight about it with the OP in the thread" is not really the optimal course of action. Right?

Like no matter how gently you phrase your initial response comment, and no matter how unhinged the OP's response to you is, that is probably a good time to disengage in the thread.

For me personally? I looked at the thread, and read a couple of the links, and then I was sad because I wanted to talk about them a little but the thread didn't seem to be a great place to do that. And I also didn't want to comment about the post's "you should read this" tack - or even send a memail - because it seems like at that point the OP would just be feeling dogpiled.

Anyway, I dunno, I don't really understand answering by saying "sure it would be great if we responded to this better, but it's a big place so we're doomed to shitty threads". Why not just be like "yeah ok, I will personally try to not turn threads into battlegrounds over unrelated stuff". Maybe you could even occasionally memail someone other than the OP who looks like they're getting into a tiff.

Just you know.

Try to take a couple small steps, is all.
posted by kavasa at 12:58 AM on January 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'd like to know why the tone of that post is only offensive to men so far.
posted by fuq at 4:25 AM on January 25


I wish people would cut this sort of insinuated sexism the fuck out. It's just an underhand, "poisoning-the-well" attempt to try to silence people you disagree with.

Hi. I have ovaries and did not like the tone of the post. Is my opinion valid?
posted by Diablevert at 4:32 AM on January 25


Thank you. It's a damned shame you had to do that but I appreciate that you did.
posted by Decani at 1:32 AM on January 25, 2012 [20 favorites]


Holy shit, I agree with everything Decani just said without reservation. Am I having an aneurysm? I think I'll just move towards the light and see what happens.
posted by Errant at 2:12 AM on January 25, 2012 [8 favorites]


Holy shit, I agree with everything Decani just said without reservation. Am I having an aneurysm? I think I'll just move towards the light and see what happens.
posted by Errant at 10:12 AM on January 25


That way lies madness. Divine madness. Follow the light.
posted by Decani at 2:57 AM on January 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Geez, the OP really got up your nose didn't they, hippybear?
posted by h00py at 3:14 AM on January 25, 2012


I'd like to know why the tone of that post is only offensive to men so far.

Because most of the female members were off gossiping about your fucked up line thought?

It is a call to action...

Yeah, we don't do that in posts.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:25 AM on January 25, 2012


I too am shocked that I agree so wholeheartedly with Decani's comment just above. But hey, sometimes people will surprise ya, eh?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:35 AM on January 25, 2012


Hi, I'm EC and I contributed to the early derail ("Hi, EC").

I freely admit that I was responding not to the "tone," but I took the "tone argument" to be referring to the use of the word "Justice" in the "list of things people care about". I got the impression the whole thrust was that "using 'injustice' to refer to the unequal state of reproductive rights is overreacting," and well, that's debatable.

But it looks like the framing argument was about something different, so I am outing myself as a ninnyhammer. And -- while I still can -- I'm going to blame it all on being bummed out by a broken foot making me all depressed and stuff.

(But seriously -- yeah, thanks for yanking my comment, mods; that wasn't helping, and sorry I contributed to the clutter.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:43 AM on January 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


I get what Meatbomb is trying to do I think, and it was sort of cute, but it creates another strained, unhappy little place in the discussion.

Meatbomb's comment didn't create that unhappy little place. It echoed an argument that is posted here very often. If that little place didn't have widespread precedent, it wouldn't make any sense.

(relurks)

posted by Dano St at 5:08 AM on January 25, 2012


After pondering this for several hours, I've come to the conclusion that "fairness" might have been a better word to use than "justice". But the framing of the rest of the post still stinks in a pretty unrepairable way.
posted by Jimbob at 5:28 AM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


personal tone seems a bit much since the subject of the post isn't like that.

The problem isn't "personal tone", all though that is a problem. Posts have been deleted for far less than this:

You should also read this if you care about bioethics, medical decorum, feminism, women in academia, the ethical behavior of philosophers, or, you know, justice. If you care about those last four things, you should have been reading Feminist Philosophers already.
posted by spaltavian at 5:32 AM on January 25, 2012


This was a good post badly presented (for Metafilter), but I think we can accommodate a bit of a learning curve for someone who is essentially a new user, and understand how complaints about tone might have been interpreted to mean something rather different than "this kind of presentation violates site guidelines."

You guys yank posts all the time for all kinds of reasons, including that they generate too many complaints, the conversation is going to present too many moderation problems, or just general presentation issues. Those are all fine reasons for deletion on a privately-owned site; letting a crappy post stand because the person is new and on a "learning curve" strikes me as a poor decision that does nothing good for anyone.

I've had two, or maybe three, FPPs deleted, and somehow I managed to put on my big boy pants and carry on. It's not a crushing blow to the ego, and maintaining those standards are what makes this site a more pleasant place.
posted by Forktine at 5:37 AM on January 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


None of the moderators thought it was a crappy post, just bad framing from a user that may not understand the conventions.
posted by taz (staff) at 5:48 AM on January 25, 2012


None of the moderators thought it was a crappy post, just bad framing from a user that may not understand the conventions.

Just because it has some fantastic links does not make it a great FPP, any more than having great links makes it ok to put in a fundraising request or a joke about "I'd hit that." The bad framing is what makes it a crappy post, and absolutely meets the guidelines for deletion, new user or not.

I mean, I'm not an employee here, so my opinion is worth exactly what you are paying for it. But from an outside perspective as someone who has watched a gazillion FPPs be deleted for all kinds of reasons, this one's failure to be deleted is very dissonant.
posted by Forktine at 5:53 AM on January 25, 2012 [12 favorites]


There seems to be a push for absolute guidelines going on which, in my opinion, would harm Metafilter much more than just letting an FPP with crappy wording but interesting content get through.
posted by h00py at 5:56 AM on January 25, 2012 [6 favorites]


I'm pretty aggro in terms of my self-proclaimed feminism and interest in social justice issues, and I hated the framing of that topic. I don't even think it's an acceptable framing for primarily feminist blogs, unless the stated purpose of your blog is to preach to the choir. That kind of framing is not useful at all in raising awareness and furthering the cause. In fact, that kind of framing is not useful at all for anything other than "killing puppies is bad and you should feel bad for killing puppies if you care about, you know, puppies". And even then I'm not so sure.

That said, I liked the linked article, and given that the content of the post was fine and the discussion was fine, I don't see anything wrong with giving a new person some slack for a learning curve.

I also don't see how this is at all relevant to phearlez's comment from a few days ago. The situation with phearlez was "distraught woman seeks advice; commenter turns it into an solicitation for personal problem", which is pretty clearly against the stated purpose of AskMe for helping the questioner first and foremost.

Whereas the situation here is "poster finds interesting article, tries to spread it around by being editorializing". I don't agree that a vested interest in a topic automatically disqualifies you from posting....after all, we all mostly post about things we're interested in, right? Even a neutrally framed post implies interest on behalf of the OP. The OP was just less careful about it than they should have been, which is not a crime worthy of the pile-on they have been getting, no matter how defensive you think they're being.
posted by Phire at 5:58 AM on January 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


And, yeah, I'm kind of irritated that this MeTa is being framed as "yet another gender MeTa". That's pretty disingenuous.

Frames for everyone!
posted by Phire at 6:03 AM on January 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


"poster finds interesting article, tries to spread it around by being editorializing"

Exactly, editorializing is regularly seen as not a good thing for FPP, so why this one gets to stay is mystifying.

I don't agree that a vested interest in a topic automatically disqualifies you from posting

That's good, because no one has said that.

The OP was just less careful about it than they should have been, which is not a crime worthy of the pile-on they have been getting, no matter how defensive you think they're being.

Nobody got a pile on, they got a couple of comments from a couple of users.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:10 AM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


I am a person with ovaries who did not disagree with anything in the post per se, but who thinks the post should have been deleted.

I'm sympathetic to the whole "new poster making a mistake can't we just get along" argument, but this really should have been one of those cases where the post got pulled and the new poster was counseled and given encouragement to try again the next day. I've seen that happen many, many times over the years and even though it most assuredly spawned a "why was this post deleted?" MeTa post, it would have been much more consistent with site guidelines and culture. If anything, new posters should be subject to stricter adherence to site guidelines until they learn the ins and outs.

I do agree that the insane pile-on tendencies here is unfortunate and I get why the OP responded defensively not being used to how things are around here, but that proves my point about why it's important to keep a stricter eye on the new users until they get the culture.
posted by Kimberly at 6:15 AM on January 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


Taz: My feeling on this is that it's only the poster's second FPP, and they have only a handful of comments on the blue, and none on Metatalk, so it's not a stretch to suppose that they aren't well acquainted with our posting standards.

Is deleting a post curating / editing, or is it punishment? Seems like an important distinction, because if it's punishment then I can see where it makes sense to give a new poster the benefit of the doubt and refrain from punishing them for an understandable mistake. But if it's editing, then this should've been edited / deleted regardless of how new or well-intentioned the user might've been.
posted by jon1270 at 6:16 AM on January 25, 2012 [6 favorites]


I'd like to know why the tone of that post is only offensive to men so far.

I'm a female person with some experience with the issues described in the post and I found the tone of the post (and even moreso the tone of the original poster's followups in the thread) to be incredibly pompous, self-important and condescending. I don't think it has anything to do with gender, I think it has to do with saying that if other people don't care about the same issues as you do to the precise degree that you care about them, they must be horrible people.
posted by jacquilynne at 6:17 AM on January 25, 2012 [10 favorites]


jon1270: Is deleting a post curating / editing, or is it punishment?

It's a lesson, and an important one to teach a new user here.
posted by gman at 6:18 AM on January 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


not a good thing for FPP

Right, I agree. But I would argue that "not a good thing" is different from "insta-delete". The instances of editorializing that I've seen are more along the lines of "XYZ is EVIL and here is why", rather than "this issue is important", but maybe you disagree. I mean, case-by-case decisions are why the moderation here is so good, right?

Nobody got a pile on, they got a couple of comments from a couple of users.

If you're new and unfamiliar with the culture, then this is more than enough to make you feel like your back's against the wall. Think about it - you found something you thought was important and tried to share it with a website you respect, and people criticized your method of delivery rather than discuss the content. That's frustrating even on the best of days.

Yeah, I know, lurk moar etc. But I guess I'd rather err on the side of being forgiving for learning mistakes.

Had the mods seen the post and found it objectionable before the hectoring began, maybe this would've turned out differently.
posted by Phire at 6:20 AM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


if it's punishment then I can see where it makes sense to give a new poster the benefit of the doubt and refrain from punishing them for an understandable mistake

You don't have to see deletion of a bad post as "punishment" to allow for the possibility of giving a new poster the benefit of the doubt, and giving them a little time to get used to the process.

Jesus, if every user's less-than-stellar first few posts got deleted the front page would be empty.
posted by mediareport at 6:20 AM on January 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


Geez, the OP really got up your nose didn't they, hippybear?

The now-deleted comment (which will probably never make its way here) was decidedly ugly and mean, and directed at me and Dasein personally. So yeah, I'm a bit affected by it.
posted by hippybear at 6:23 AM on January 25, 2012


The OP's comment, reprinted with their permission and with telling them that this is being discussed in MeTa was
Dasein, hippybear: It will probably shock you to hear this, but you're not the first person(s) to tell me that my tone is pompous. However, I will follow the lead of a philosopher that I admire when I claim that accusations of pomposity like these are just dodges on the substance. You may not like my tone, but my tone (damn near any tone) is justified in the furtherance of shit that matters. And some shit does matter. The issues in this post are of central importance to questions about what is just and why. While I deny that the phrase you quoted actually does sound pompous, we can assume for the sake of argument that you're right. It is more important to articulate and defend claims about justice than it is to safeguard your sensibilities from exposure to pomposity. If you wish to argue that the substance of the post is irrelevant to questions of justice, do so. If not, don't resort to saying things that amount to nothing more than "you sound mean and/or arrogant." Maybe I do, but that doesn't even come close to mattering.

Now, let's get clear on the logical implications of my post. I said that if you care about X, Y, and Z, then you *should* read this. We can read this "should" as "will want to." By modus tollens, we can say that if you do not want to read this post, then it follows that you do not care about X, Y, and Z. This entails no censure of those who have no desire to read it. Only by the incorporation of auxiliary hypotheses about the praise- or blame-worthiness of certain forms of caring can we can to a conclusion of "shame." I can countenance claims that it is no moral failing to not care about bioethics, medical decorum, women in academia or the ethical behavior of philosophers. It is, however, a moral failing to not care about feminism and/or justice. I stand by the claim that those who fail to desire to read the blog in the link are worthy of censure insofar (and only insofar) as they fail to be interested in things that they ought to be interested in. Maybe this insults you. If it does, it probably should. The appropriate response to this feeling of shame is not a tantrum. Rather, it's to expand the scope of your moral concern. In short, this is an opportunity to become a better person. If indeed you would find it unbearable to be told regularly that there are certain things that you have an obligation to care about, then you stand in serious need of some policing, either by yourself or by those around you. If you wish to argue against the proposal that the things you're being told to care about are worthy of your involvement, go for it! The floor is yours! But you're owed no apology for being told that your failure to care about certain things is worthy of censure. So here's to self-policing! And here's to the hope that it pushes us towards more than just keeping Dasein and Co. from being offended.
It was the first comment we deleted from the thread and then we axed a bunch of arguing about it afterwards and then there was this MeTa thread. And yeah, I hear what people were saying "Delete and tell the OP to repost later" may have been the way to go. Unfortunately even though we mean that in the best way possible when we do it, it's still a route that sometimes makes the OP feel punished and sometimes not a path of less hassle [for us or for the community] so we try to weigh the variables to see if we can maybe keep a post around that seems to be sparking good discussion versus axing it and dealing with grumpy email from the OP, other commenters, and a possible MetaTalk. It seems pretty obvious from looking at the last few days of MeTa that for whatever reason we've been tending towards with the "Let's leave it around and see if it can be salvaged" direction. I think we've had more people around to keep an eye on things which often results in us being more lenient about things we might find problematic. That's not an excuse so much as an explanation. We figured we could keep a close eye on that thread [something we can't always do] and figured between that and a note to the OP about how it was phrased [which we did] that might be enough.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:38 AM on January 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


I have to say I'm with the mods on this. The post stays, the comment goes.
posted by h00py at 6:50 AM on January 25, 2012


I think we've had more people around to keep an eye on things which often results in us being more lenient about things we might find problematic

Well, that's generally a good thing. Did the poster eventually acknowledge the merits of the "don't hector the community" approach to the front page?
posted by mediareport at 6:50 AM on January 25, 2012


taz was the one who wrote to the OP so I don't personally know, but at some level we're not going to report back what they did or did not tell us in email. They know it's a "This might make your post deleteworthy" issue and we've spoken to them. We can see what they do.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:52 AM on January 25, 2012


The post's framing was a violation of site guidelines. Period. It should have been deleted, and the mods should have put a note in the post that said "Great content, bad framing. Please try again tomorrow without editorializing. As they've done countless times in the past.

There's no clause in the FAQ that says, "well, if the post content is interesting enough, it might not get axed even if it's biased." Because that would be a clear invitation to folks to create posts that editorialize, soapbox and push agendas.
posted by zarq at 6:53 AM on January 25, 2012 [19 favorites]


The usual MeFi convention of post then walk away for a few hours as it no longer belongs to you would have saved some of the GRAR/hectoring.
posted by arcticseal at 6:54 AM on January 25, 2012


In terms of the delete-or-not question, there are many things to consider. Firstly, is it a good link or a so-so or subpar link? Bad presentation and meh content is an easier decision, but lets assume it's a good link. Sometimes posts have some obvious problems with the phrasing or nonconforming presentation, but the conversation manages to get past that and valuable discussion ensues. Deleting the post and all the conversation because of problems with presentation may not best serve the participants. Is it better to delete all just to teach the poster that they can't editorialize in a post? Obviously some here think so, and some don't.

Sometimes there is a problem with presentation and the discussion doesn't seem like it's going to move on from grousing about that. In this case, it usually seems better to me to delete and allow the poster a fresh start without the offending framing in hopes that it won't auto-derail.

But there are other aspects as well. At what point did the moderator(s) get to the post to see what was happening and where was the discussion at that moment? When the site is restless and in angry-mode (lately) there are already a lot of hot spots to watch over and other things to handle, it make take longer. Or maybe the flags are few or slow to trickle in (and this also sometimes has something to do with when things are posted versus when more people are reading it). I can't give you the blow by blow on this one because it happened when I was off, but between keeping an eye on trouble spots, responding to mails and keeping on top of metatalk threads where responses are expected there's not always time for a moderator to stay right on top of what's happening in a single thread to make that decision that "at this point no valuable discussion is going to be possible so it would be better to pull it."

Finally, though, we don't think of deletions in punitive terms, although I know that it sometimes feels that way to a poster who has had their post deleted. It's always a weighing and balancing of what (we hope) is best for the site overall. And of course, with any controversial post, we get a lot of criticism either way, deleting or not deleting, but we do try to be responsive. In this case it seemed that there were two conversations happening 1) discussion of the linked material and 2) complaints and responses about the presentation of the FPP. Choosing to delete at that point would have meant deleting something that we thought had good content, and all the discussion that had managed to go on despite the complaining (which, if everybody were actually following site conventions, should have come here to Metatalk).
posted by taz (staff) at 6:57 AM on January 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


that would be a clear invitation to folks to create posts that editorialize, soapbox and push agendas.

People do that all the time already. This is one of the reasons that all of the mods are sort of "Eh" on political-type posts. Just the act of making a post on a specific topic using specific links in in some ways an editorial decision. Determining what's just talking about a topic and what has crossed the line into axe-grinding is one of the things that we have to assess on a case-by-case basis. Usually people do this through the use of particularly eye-catching pull-quotes from articles that do the editorializing for them, but it's still there and it's still saying "I think you should think THIS about THIS"

And we're looking at the FAQ and think we should be clearer about what we mean by editorializing [as opposed to axe-grinding, which is in there] and at the same time address the early "Not the best of the web!" or "This sucks!" threadshitting which is also getting a little tiresome and should be equally discouraged.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:58 AM on January 25, 2012 [6 favorites]


jessamyn: "People do that all the time already"

And their posts are typically deleted with a note that says either, "this is axe grindy" or "try again tomorrow."

Why protect this particular post?

jessamyn: "And we're looking at the FAQ and think we should be clearer about what we mean by editorializing [as opposed to axe-grinding, which is in there]"

Text of the post. Editorializing bolded for emphasis.

Let's Talk About Reproductive Norm Enforcement, Baby. An anonymous philoso-blogger recounts, in an honest, intelligent, compelling, and occasionally poignant way, the process of undergoing medically necessary surgery that would cause infertility. If you care about the reproductive expectations with which women are saddled by contemporary society, you should read this. You should also read this if you care about bioethics, medical decorum, feminism, women in academia, the ethical behavior of philosophers, or, you know, justice. If you care about those last four things, you should have been reading Feminist Philosophers already.

'If you care about justice (and a host of other very important issues!) you'll read the link?' How is that not axe-grindy? It clearly violates the current guidelines.

taz: "Is it better to delete all just to teach the poster that they can't editorialize in a post? "

Yes. And for that matter, it's established precedent to do so.
posted by zarq at 7:08 AM on January 25, 2012 [13 favorites]


Established precedent. This is Metafilter, dude. There are few rules but lots of expectations. You can't always place a finger on it. That's as it should be.
posted by h00py at 7:15 AM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Established precedent. This is Metafilter, dude. There are few rules but lots of expectations. You can't always place a finger on it. That's as it should be.

Yes, and this post clearly broke one of those "few rules."

Many posts have been deleted over the years for less editorializing, and less hectoring of the community. I don't think I or anyone else is out of line for saying that this non-deletion seems at odds with the way the mods have acted in similar, previous cases.
posted by zarq at 7:22 AM on January 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


But the whole point is that the mods have always assessed things on a case by case basis. Why call for precedents and binding rulings to determine if something stays or goes? The framing grated but the content was worth it. So it stayed. It doesn't have to be any more than that.
posted by h00py at 7:28 AM on January 25, 2012


It's only a question of morals if you believe that morals are universal, or objective. Or if you believe that your moral/ethical system is superior to others, and therefore you should supplant and convert them.

This is not a belief shared by everyone.

There was an excellent essay on the subjectivity of morality, and the worth of promoting them regardless, but I can't find it now. It was centered around animal rights.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:29 AM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


I agree with zarq and others. The post should have been deleted with a note to the poster to try again in a less inflammatory manner. Though, judging by the deleted comment reproduced by jessamyn here, the poster would probably have refused, since justice demands that it be posted in an inflammatory manner, since that gives us all "an opportunity to become a better person."
posted by languagehat at 7:31 AM on January 25, 2012 [27 favorites]


h00py: "But the whole point is that the mods have always assessed things on a case by case basis. Why call for precedents and binding rulings to determine if something stays or goes? The framing grated but the content was worth it. So it stayed. It doesn't have to be any more than that."

I'm a huge fan of every mod action on this site being handled on a case by case basis.

But it's still reasonable to expect that the mods will be relatively consistent and impartial in the way they take each case, too. The decision to leave this particular post seems inconsistent to me. And the framing didn't just grate. Since we're talking about it, here's the guideline in the FAQ that addresses axe-grindy posts:
Why was my MetaFilter post deleted?

When a thread is deleted, it is closed to new comments and is removed from the front page but can still be visible at the permanent URL for the thread. There is a brief "reason for deletion" given when a MetaFilter thread is removed. The most common reasons are
...
- axegrindfilter - you posted on a hot-button topic that you frequently post about and/or used heavy-handed editorializing language.
...
Please note: Your FPP is no indication of your value as a human being. (Unless you are self-linking, spamming, or deliberately causing a problem. Then, you suck.)

posted by zarq at 7:32 AM on January 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


Essentially, I agree with zarq's points. FWIW.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:36 AM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Why call for precedents and binding rulings to determine if something stays or goes?

Because then people get angry and/or confused over seemingly arbitrary deletions. None of the reasons offered by the mods make much sense when in terms of the FAQ or precedent. Deleting the post and simply saying "Repost tomorrow with less editorializing please" happens all the time.

This is one of the reasons that all of the mods are sort of "Eh" on political-type posts. Just the act of making a post on a specific topic using specific links in in some ways an editorial decision.

That's not what occurred here, the links were fine, it was wording of the post, which is a dictionary type definition of editorializing.

When the site is restless and in angry-mode (lately) there are already a lot of hot spots to watch over and other things to handle, it make take longer.

Which sounds like "we were busy and didn't see that crappy thing, but now that we have we won't delete it because we were busy." What?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:40 AM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've seen posts with less axe-grinding get deleted and I've seen posts with more axe-grinding stay. That's life. I wasn't bothered by the initial post's framing, but the OP's posts afterwards are quite something. The OP appears to be very good at the opposite of selling things. It's a shame, because the link itself is worthwhile, but the OP seems determined to prevent people from taking its content seriously.

In retrospect, it looks as if it should have been canned right out of the gate, but that's only with hindsight. The mods' "wait and see" attitude would have worked under different circumstances, with different personalities at play.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:46 AM on January 25, 2012 [5 favorites]


Brandon Blatcher: " Which sounds like "we were busy and didn't see that crappy thing, but now that we have we won't delete it because we were busy." What?"

Obviously I can't speak for Taz, but it sounds more like "since the thread is going well despite the framing, we're choosing to leave it up" to me.
posted by zarq at 7:48 AM on January 25, 2012


Brandon, I said I don't know how things happened exactly with this particular post because I wasn't on then. I was speaking generally about the many things that can might be weighed when trying to decide the best thing to do. But yes, we do take an ongoing productive conversation into account.
posted by taz (staff) at 7:51 AM on January 25, 2012


Which sounds like "we were busy and didn't see that crappy thing, but now that we have we won't delete it because we were busy."

Nope, we saw it as soon as it went up and were sort of glaring at it. We all got a chance to talk about it [doesn't always happen] and figured we'd do the "Let's keep a close eye on it and see if it might go okay" path instead.

When the site is restless and in angry-mode (lately)

I think this is more referring to the fact that there are a lot, relatively speaking, of sort of touchy MeTa posts over the past few days and we were maybe hoping that we could handle that thread without a new one starting up.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:51 AM on January 25, 2012


Nope, we saw it as soon as it went up and were sort of glaring at it. We all got a chance to talk about it [doesn't always happen] and figured we'd do the "Let's keep a close eye on it and see if it might go okay" path instead.

And that's cool that you'll see potential problems and discuss them. It's just weird, to me, that such an obvious and blatant example axe-grinding editorializing was left up when simply asking the poster to it over when less of those negative elements has been done before.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:59 AM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Good threads arise from the ashes of bad framing all the time. I'm pretty sure that the OP is aware of how this one went down and will consider it when/if posting in the future.

You post something, you takes your chances. Deletion, acclaim, interest, indifference, disdain. I like it that way.
posted by h00py at 8:01 AM on January 25, 2012


Is deleting a post curating / editing, or is it punishment? Seems like an important distinction, because if it's punishment then I can see where it makes sense to give a new poster the benefit of the doubt and refrain from punishing them for an understandable mistake. But if it's editing, then this should've been edited / deleted regardless of how new or well-intentioned the user might've been.

From the mod side, we see it as absolutely not a punishment, and put a fair amount of effort into gently communicating that to folks when we have conversations with them about deletions. From the user side, it often is taken as one anyway—it happens over a email a lot, and it happens in Metatalk as well, both with the actual poster being disgruntled about the deletion and with other folks being bothered about it by proxy or even just bothered about things being deleted in general.

There's no bulletproof way to make "it's totally fine to regroup and try this better tomorrow" be a message that gets through crystal clear to people; people do get bothered by deletions as if they were some sort of punishment, like jessamyn and taz have noted. It's part of the weird dynamic we deal with constantly in trying to communicate what's going on when we're doing our jobs.

But it's still reasonable to expect that the mods will be relatively consistent and impartial in the way they take each case, too.

We make a pretty serious effort to do so to the extent that we can. And I can dig it if this feels like a case of inconsistency in that the thread's framing is problematic. But we're flexible and not perfectly consistent as individuals or as a team, and part of the result of that is that we'll make calls that seem too permissive to some folks and calls that seem too restraining to others, all around the perimeter of the stuff folks mostly agree on.

It's just weird, to me, that such an obvious and blatant example axe-grinding editorializing was left up when simply asking the poster to it over when less of those negative elements has been done before.

We're humans, weird stuff happens. This case could be made for just about anything in the guidelines at one time or another.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:02 AM on January 25, 2012


There will always be problems. Even in precise, mechanical legal systems with heavy formality and several layers of appeals, there will be odd cases and odd results. This post was one of them odd cases. There isn't much to be done after the fact.

IMHO, after the first comment about tone, it might have been a good idea to let the OP know via MeMail that there was a larger site culture issue at play, with regard to non-editorializing. I don't know if this already happened. If you don't know the site's rules, then the experience could have seemed like something else.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:08 AM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think the initial framing of the post could be justified as a kind of incautious rhetorical flare. The subsequent deleted comment makes it look less incautious and more like deliberately inflammatory language, i.e. trolling.

Given that the actual links are so good, I don't think that this was the best outcome for them. But on the other hand, I didn't post them when I had a chance so perhaps it's better to post them badly rather than not at all.

It does seem like a bit of a departure from site traditions: the mods have repeatedly stated that with more hands on deck they're willing to accept a larger number of border-line and potentially inflammatory posts because they are easier to manage.

Well and good, but I can't help thinking that by forging new traditions the work (i.e. feistiness) will expand to over-fill the moderator time available.
posted by anotherpanacea at 8:16 AM on January 25, 2012


Oh my god, that deleted comment. I didn't think it was physically possible to be even less interested in what this person has to say about everything ever, even on topics in which we are in firm agreement. It seems that today is a day of surprises.
posted by elizardbits at 8:16 AM on January 25, 2012 [24 favorites]


But on the other hand, I didn't post them when I had a chance so perhaps it's better to post them badly rather than not at all.

We don't have to choose between only those options! Posts get deleted with the comment "good links, but no axe-grinding" all the time. Either the OP or someone else can fill the void afterwards.

Either way, it seems like that thread stabilized into a genuinely good discussion later, and so on to of the already-good posted link, I guess that's what really counts.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:25 AM on January 25, 2012


I grimaced at the framing of that post, and this is a topic 100% near n' dear to me personally. I'm glad for the info and links, but yeah, if there's some way to be like "hey guys, don't frame posts like this in the future" then I'm on board.
posted by ifjuly at 9:58 AM on January 25, 2012


I said that if you care about X, Y, and Z, then you *should* read this. We can read this "should" as "will want to." By modus tollens, we can say that if you do not want to read this post, then it follows that you do not care about X, Y, and Z.

Oh wow. Somebody should read Logic 101. If they want to, naturally.
posted by Decani at 10:03 AM on January 25, 2012 [12 favorites]


cortex: " We make a pretty serious effort to do so to the extent that we can.

It's definitely appreciated.

And I can dig it if this feels like a case of inconsistency in that the thread's framing is problematic. But we're flexible and not perfectly consistent as individuals or as a team, and part of the result of that is that we'll make calls that seem too permissive to some folks and calls that seem too restraining to others, all around the perimeter of the stuff folks mostly agree on."

What I don't understand is how a post goes from 'clearly seems to violate a written guideline' to 'well, we'll keep an eye on it and see what happens.' I get that y'all are human and take things on a case by case basis, but yeah, it seems weirdly inconsistent.
posted by zarq at 10:03 AM on January 25, 2012


I agree with zarq and others. The post should have been deleted with a note to the poster to try again in a less inflammatory manner. Though, judging by the deleted comment reproduced by jessamyn here, the poster would probably have refused, since justice demands that it be posted in an inflammatory manner, since that gives us all "an opportunity to become a better person."
posted by languagehat at 3:31 PM on January 25 [11 favorites −]


Holy crap! Errant and Flapjax agree with me! I agree with languagehat! Aneurysms all round!
posted by Decani at 10:05 AM on January 25, 2012 [10 favorites]


I shouldn't say that I also am in accord with that lest I cause a messy Scanners-style head popping.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:08 AM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


What I don't understand is how a post goes from 'clearly seems to violate a written guideline' to 'well, we'll keep an eye on it and see what happens.'

Matter of degree and interpretation and a little bit of whammy factor? I mean, we've done the "eh, this is problematic but may be salvageable, let's see if we can't help it work itself thing" with any number of things over the years. Basically every "why wasn't this chatfilter deleted" discussion in Metatalk has shades of this. There's been the rare "why wasn't that guy banned" conversation about a weird self- or friend-linky situation or someone really, really acting out on the site.

I feel like the body of guidelines and community expectations we have being as organic as it is and moderation being human-driven and ultimately case-by-case means that necessarily there's going to be these burls that crop up even on what we try to make into a fairly smooth and consistent process.

That inconsistency happens is a given; that folks note that and are like "well, that feels inconsistent" happens and is fine, too. To some extent I get a little frustrated when it feels like the way the conversation goes is more like "that's inconsistent and it's a really big deal that we need to address" than "well, as long as it's not some sudden massive change in policy I guess I disagree but no biggie" when we have a pretty seriously established track record of not suddenly, massively changing policy, but then that's life on this side of the discussion and I realize I'm looking at it through my own lens.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:13 AM on January 25, 2012


What I don't understand is how a post goes from 'clearly seems to violate a written guideline' to 'well, we'll keep an eye on it and see what happens.' I get that y'all are human and take things on a case by case basis, but yeah, it seems weirdly inconsistent.

Not to me. I've never moderated anything, but my job involves enforcing a lot of rules. And when they are violated, I will sometimes ignore it, depending on circumstances such as how important the rule is, why the rule was set up in the first place, who violated it, why they violated, what consequences the violation will have, etc, etc. I think they should have deleted it, but I understand that gap between rule violation and enforcement of consequences for violating it.
posted by nooneyouknow at 10:17 AM on January 25, 2012


Inconsistency at the edge cases is totally expected and normal, and if this were an edge case I think there'd be a waterproof argument that 100% consistency is impossible. But allowing editorializing as flagrant as this really does seem like a massive change in policy because it's so far outside what's been considered okay in the past. You're talking about this like it's giving someone a warning when they roll through a stop sign, when it's more like someone blew through a red light.
posted by 0xFCAF at 10:19 AM on January 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


....that deleted comment. I didn't think it was physically possible to be even less interested....

I was thinking the exact same thing. After being beaten over the head with the initial post about what I should read, that comment just confirms that the whole thread is not worth even participating in whether I agree with the ideas in the links or not. Regardless of the the relevance, importance and/or necessity of the ideas, the framing is exactly what I do not want out of this site.

State your piece, put in the links, let me make up my own mind. Browbeating in the post and subsequent comments only serve to relegate the poster to the land-of-rolling-eyes in my world.
posted by lampshade at 10:19 AM on January 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think the thing that bugs me isn't that there are inconsistencies, because I'm pretty comfortable with the case-by-case model. I think, from my perspective, there was just no way that framing wasn't going to start a fight, and it was trying very deliberately to start a fight. This doesn't seem like an edge case to me; it was an intentionally aggressive and provocative post, designed to allow the OP to call a bunch of people moral failures for disagreeing with him and doing so right off the bat. I mean, I love that you guys were optimistic about this, but I can't see how this wasn't going to end up in MeTa one way or another, and it's almost a stretch to call the in-thread argument over framing a "derail", because that was what that guy wanted.
posted by Errant at 10:21 AM on January 25, 2012 [6 favorites]


What I don't understand is how a post goes from 'clearly seems to violate a written guideline' to 'well, we'll keep an eye on it and see what happens.' I get that y'all are human and take things on a case by case basis, but yeah, it seems weirdly inconsistent.

I am explaining this because you asked, not because I personally feel that we have to get into this level of minutia if people aren't curious. But, since you're curious, here's the thought process as I understand it.

There are two main reasons that we delete posts, maybe three. One is that people are abusing the site. Self-linking and friendlinking and Kickstarter posts [possibly, and we don't want to have to evaluate each one] and stunt posts fall into this area. The idea is that the actual post itself is harmful to the site in some way and so will be axed with extreme prejudice and people might be banned for even doing it.

The other sort of posts that get deleted are the "These don't go well here" sorts of posts. This includes topics that go poorly [particularly if presented poorly], topics that seem axe-grindy and the sort of "Eh try this and repost it again tomorrow" sorts of things. We've really only done the latter sort mostly in the past year or so when we've had enough staff to actually talk to people about it and not just delete-and-run. So, these sorts of posts are deleted because they often turn into crappy threads and sometimes we'll delete them as a sort of pre-emptive "We don't want to go on this rollercoaster again just for a thread where people all get to holler about how much they hate cops" Again, in the last year we've maybe been on top of more of these posts, so we've deleted more of them than usual with the usual friction that this causes. When taz started there was a bit of "Delete less!" agita in MeTa which was totally understandable and I think we've been trying to listen to that, honestly.

These second sorts of posts are not inherently "Oh my god, this needs to be deleted immediately!" sort of posts, to my mind, but they're deleted because they're going to be long trainwrecks that might slop over into MeTa threads and get everyone all pissed off and people quitting and the like. Editorializing is one route down this path. The reason, generally speaking, there is a guideline against it is because they tend to make bad posts and make threads that might otherwise be fine go badly. So I think we may have been feeling "Well we're all sort of around today, we like this article, we'd like to give this thread a chance, we think that if we delete some of the early comments maybe it will..." hopeful and went the way we did. The guideline is to keep the threads going well and we felt we had another way to achieve that end.

This isn't me saying "And you're wrong for not understanding it just the way we do!" but this is me trying to explain as much as possible the context in which we made this particular decision. One of the weird and possibly counterintuitive growing pains around having more staff is that we can stick around and pay attention to some threads that might have otherwise been axed as looking like they were going to be future problems.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:22 AM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


The topic was of interest, particularly since the topic of impending or lost fertility is part of my daily life right now but I must agree that it was the way the FPP was framed that kept me away from it.

And that's sad, I realize that the articles and links were considered of interest but its not a new thing we're discussing re: interesting article lost in bad framing or putting off readers.

This is not a question of "if the FPP doesn't interest you don't come to the thread and shit" but "work on neutralizing your post because that's the way MetaFilter chooses its information to be presented".

Do however understand what you're saying here, just above, Jessamyn...
posted by infini at 10:51 AM on January 25, 2012


The thing about the post is that even as editorializing goes, it's just rhetorically a dead end
If you care about those last four things, you should have been reading Feminist Philosophers already.

So anyone interested in those topics should already know about the link. Anyone else by implication is not interested in justice because if they had been they would have already taken whatever steps were necessary to discover and be reading the site. Never mind the fact that maybe your first language might not be English or that internet access may be spotty in the Himalayas or WHATEVER. Never mind the fact unless the post is a self-link, it must have existed prior to when MultiplyDrafted started reading it and by extension MultiplyDrafted did not care about justice at any point in time prior to that.
posted by juv3nal at 11:07 AM on January 25, 2012 [6 favorites]


"Oh wow. Somebody should read Logic 101. If they want to, naturally."

If by "someone" you mean "Decani", then yeah. I agree.

The only part of her argument that was directly in the domain of Logic 101 was her modus tollens transformation, which was correct. So, there's that.

Given your phrasing, what you most likely object to is her claim of the equivalence of "if you care about X, then you should Y" with "if you care about X, then you will want to Y". The validity of this is not so much decided by elementary logic as it's taught in Logic 101, but is more the purview of rhetoric and its status is ambiguous.

Perhaps you are reading her should as its ethically normative form, in which case her equivalence doesn't follow. But I think it's clear that in her argument she is asserting that her should was an uncertain predictive will; that is to say, will want to isn't a certain prediction of an action, but of a desire that may or may not lead to an action. She's arguing that her should was a shorthand way of saying "if these are your interests and goals, then once having read these blog posts you will conclude that had you known before what you will know then, you'd have wanted to read these blog posts...therefore, you should read these blog posts".

Now, certainly, she would have been much more clear, though verbose, had she written that. She would have been considerably more clear, though only slightly more verbose, had she simply written "will want to". Even the most charitable reading of all this must fault her for the ambiguity.

Frankly, however, I'm skeptical that she isn't retconning her own rhetoric; and I think that when she wrote the sentence originally, she did intend the ethically normative should and that her defense is an authoritative-seeming bit of hand-waving designed to intimidate.

All of which, taken together, implies that she's well-versed in both Logic 101 and rhetoric and likely doesn't need remediation. Her good-faith is another matter, as is her charisma; likewise the quality of your snark.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 12:02 PM on January 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


...and juv3nal demonstrates the correct use of Modus Tollens!
posted by Uncle Ira at 12:03 PM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


I appreciate that y'all mods are trying to strike an extremely difficult balance in keeping the site going smoothly with the unruly lot of hooligans that we are. And I truly appreciate that your letting this stand was an impulse of generosity. But also these little meta talk threads are the Airing of the Grievences portion of our year round Festivus, where we hash this shit out. To my mind, when you look at the diversity of voices which have come to this thread and explained that they skipped the potentially good content because of the editorialising, maybe next time something comes along in a similar vein we burn it with fire. (E.g. gently suggest that perhaps it could be reframed, etc.) I appreciate that there was eventually productive discussion in the thread, but I think the content in a different box would have received a far wider and more appreciative audience.
posted by Diablevert at 12:19 PM on January 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


"...and juv3nal demonstrates the correct use of Modus Tollens!"

Yeah, it's deeply ironic that she defends her wording on that basis when on that basis, by her wording, her post is entirely unnecessary.

So, this was a great link posted by a very annoying person in an annoying manner. Not the first or the last, I reckon.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 12:30 PM on January 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


I initially read that as modus tRollens and lol'd a hearty lol.
posted by elizardbits at 12:32 PM on January 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


All of which, taken together, implies that she's well-versed in both Logic 101 and rhetoric and likely doesn't need remediation.

Her logic is fine, but her rhetoric is awful. It's not a question of having charisma or not: rhetoric itself includes communication and persuasion. Saying she's well-versed in rhetoric is like saying someone who misses 500 out of 500 soccer goals is obviously well-versed in soccer technique, because they used their feet every time.
posted by Sticherbeast at 12:35 PM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Aw man, this thread would've been much more fun if MultiplyDrafted had actually participated in it I bet.
posted by Grither at 12:35 PM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


No, it would have probably turned into an unnecessary pileon -the person was newish as has been said and has been advised.
posted by infini at 12:42 PM on January 25, 2012


I'm obviously no fun on the internets anymore
posted by infini at 12:43 PM on January 25, 2012


"...rhetoric itself includes communication and persuasion. Saying she's well-versed in rhetoric is like saying someone who misses 500 out of 500 soccer goals is obviously well-versed in soccer technique, because they used their feet every time."

Well, I was really trying to damn with faint praise by saying the attempt to intimidate was rhetorically fluent. In the sophist sense, you see. There's numerous ways to persuade and convince, not just through charm.

Arguably, given the rhetoric, the audience wasn't those who need to be convinced of the ostensible argument and the actual argument was about the poster's social identity. If that's the case, then the rhetoric was quite effective.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 12:54 PM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


wat

Seriously though, I was also impressed with the fluidity and clarity of their writing.
posted by the young rope-rider at 1:04 PM on January 25, 2012


cortex: "That inconsistency happens is a given; that folks note that and are like "well, that feels inconsistent" happens and is fine, too. To some extent I get a little frustrated when it feels like the way the conversation goes is more like "that's inconsistent and it's a really big deal that we need to address" than "well, as long as it's not some sudden massive change in policy I guess I disagree but no biggie" when we have a pretty seriously established track record of not suddenly, massively changing policy, but then that's life on this side of the discussion and I realize I'm looking at it through my own lens."

I'm totally not seeing this as some sort of massive change in mod policy. More of a one-off case that raises my hackles because I truly can't stand seeing editorializing survive on the front page.

I swear, I'm usually a proponent of "not every post is for you so just flag it and move on" but if FPP's like that one became more frequent, it would drive me completely nuts. I realize that other people may not feel this way. And that's fine too. But as far as I'm concerned, Mefi's 'no soapboxing' policy is one of best things about this place. Worth defending. I've tried to contribute to that over the years by attempting to keep my own posts as objective as possible.

jessamyn: "I am explaining this because you asked, not because I personally feel that we have to get into this level of minutia if people aren't curious. But, since you're curious, here's the thought process as I understand it.

Thanks. :)

There are two main reasons that we delete posts, maybe three. One is that people are abusing the site.

Amusingly enough, that's how I'd classify editorializing in a post. But I do see what you mean and understand why it's not.

The other sort of posts that get deleted are the "These don't go well here" sorts of posts. This includes topics that go poorly [particularly if presented poorly], topics that seem axe-grindy and the sort of "Eh try this and repost it again tomorrow" sorts of things. We've really only done the latter sort mostly in the past year or so when we've had enough staff to actually talk to people about it and not just delete-and-run. So, these sorts of posts are deleted because they often turn into crappy threads and sometimes we'll delete them as a sort of pre-emptive "We don't want to go on this rollercoaster again just for a thread where people all get to holler about how much they hate cops"
...
This isn't me saying "And you're wrong for not understanding it just the way we do!" but this is me trying to explain as much as possible the context in which we made this particular decision. One of the weird and possibly counterintuitive growing pains around having more staff is that we can stick around and pay attention to some threads that might have otherwise been axed as looking like they were going to be future problems."

That makes sense. So would it be fair to say that we should expect to see more of a "let's see how it goes" take from y'all on posts that aren't pure outragefilter or other topics that don't go well here in the future? Not that this would represent a big policy change, just that more posts might get the benefit of the doubt rather than preemptively deleted?

Again, in the last year we've maybe been on top of more of these posts, so we've deleted more of them than usual with the usual friction that this causes. When taz started there was a bit of "Delete less!" agita in MeTa which was totally understandable and I think we've been trying to listen to that, honestly.

Ah. To be honest, I thought people were piling on taz (and to some extent restless_nomad as well) unnecessarily. But I'm glad you're taking feedback.

Thank you. It was kind of you both to respond in depth like this and explain more fully. It's appreciated.
posted by zarq at 1:10 PM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


infini: "The topic was of interest, particularly since the topic of impending or lost fertility is part of my daily life right now but I must agree that it was the way the FPP was framed that kept me away from it. "

Same here. I've commented extensively on fertility and infertility issues over the years, as well as adoption and other related topics. But I also ignored the post and flagged the link to read later because the framing turned me off. The thread didn't look like it was going to go anywhere good.
posted by zarq at 1:15 PM on January 25, 2012


...Perhaps you are reading her should as its ethically normative form, in which case her equivalence doesn't follow. But I think it's clear that in her argument she is asserting that her should was an uncertain predictive will; that is to say, will want to isn't a certain prediction of an action, but of a desire that may or may not lead to an action...

Suddenly I know exactly how people feel when I talk about orbital mechanics.
posted by elizardbits at 1:16 PM on January 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


So would it be fair to say that we should expect to see more of a "let's see how it goes" take from y'all on posts that aren't pure outragefilter or other topics that don't go well here in the future?

Nothing personal but I don't think we'll be going on the record as saying we're going to be doing anything in particular other than continuing to moderate the site using our best judgment. There are so many variables that go into these decisions I really don't want to start saying we're going to prioritize one over all the others in any particular way, I just wanted to explain where we were coming from on that post in specific.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:20 PM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Completely understandable. Thanks.
posted by zarq at 1:22 PM on January 25, 2012


To my mind, when you look at the diversity of voices which have come to this thread and explained that they skipped the potentially good content because of the editorialising, maybe next time something comes along in a similar vein we burn it with fire.

Eh, there's what, 60 unique users participating in this thread, including mods? That's a very, very small percentage of the user base, to say nothing of what sort of diversity they represent.

I think the post was framed in an off-putting manner. I appreciate Jessamyn's point that with more mods, things can be handled differently than they used to and am interested in seeing how that shakes out in the future. However, I don't think it ever makes sense to assume that people who participate in MeTa represent the user base in a statistically significant way, or even say that a diversity of voices are represented here. People in MeTa are self-selecting; very few people who don't feel particularly strongly one way or another are going to show up to *shruggo* amidst a bunch of people all OMG. That's always the way things work, but what it mean if you collect data in any sense of the term you miss out an entire chunk of the population whose perfectly valid opinions don't compel them to post here.
posted by oneirodynia at 1:23 PM on January 25, 2012


Well, I was really trying to damn with faint praise by saying the attempt to intimidate was rhetorically fluent. In the sophist sense, you see. There's numerous ways to persuade and convince, not just through charm.

I'm aware of the sophists. If only the OP could have hired one. Her attempts to persuade and convince were all failures.

Arguably, given the rhetoric, the audience wasn't those who need to be convinced of the ostensible argument and the actual argument was about the poster's social identity. If that's the case, then the rhetoric was quite effective.

Even on that tiny playing field, her rhetoric fails. No one came away with what the OP felt her social identity ought to be. People are mocking her, without feeling intimidated or impressed.
posted by Sticherbeast at 1:28 PM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


I stand by the claim that those who fail to desire to read the blog in the link are worthy of censure insofar (and only insofar) as they fail to be interested in things that they ought to be interested in. Maybe this insults you. If it does, it probably should. The appropriate response to this feeling of shame is not a tantrum. Rather, it's to expand the scope of your moral concern. In short, this is an opportunity to become a better person. If indeed you would find it unbearable to be told regularly that there are certain things that you have an obligation to care about, then you stand in serious need of some policing, either by yourself or by those around you.

Wow! That's truly spectacular. I'm sorry I missed that in the original thread. Talk about doubling down.

Me: worthy of censure, properly insulted, appropriately shamed, choosing not to be a better person, and in serious need of some policing, since 2012. Volunteer seconds for Dasein's seppuku kindly requested to MeMail at their earliest convenience.
posted by Dasein at 1:44 PM on January 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


Dasein: "Me: worthy of censure, properly insulted, appropriately shamed, choosing not to be a better person, and in serious need of some policing, since 2012. "

Also, we'll never forgive you for canceling Firefly.

Never.
posted by zarq at 2:00 PM on January 25, 2012 [7 favorites]


Well, I'm impressed; her few comments are uniformly very well written, even touching brilliance on occasion, such as her reply to Dasein and hippybear, which was both reasoned and passionate, as well as forceful and astringent without being unduly cutting.

I wouldn't have said people feel intimidated, and that certainly doesn't seem to me to have been her aim, though it's interesting you feel the need to assert that she isn't intimidating, Stitcherbeast.

What I hear in these snide and rather precious comments about her rhetoric and charisma, I'm finding impossible to distinguish from envy.
posted by jamjam at 2:04 PM on January 25, 2012


Surely, one must judge communication not just by the quality of the prose, but by its success in spreading ideas and turning minds?

After seeing that post, I pretty much immediately concluded that I no longer care what the OP has to say, that I will avoid the "Feminist Philosophy" blog like the plague, and indeed that the issue of female reproductive rights itself is a minefield I don't want to step into. Still feel all those things pretty strongly 18 hours later.
posted by Jimbob at 2:18 PM on January 25, 2012


Still feel all those things pretty strongly 18 hours later.

So baby and bathwater just go right out the window together, because one person was (in your eyes) a jerk. Issues that concern more than half the human race are now too scary to contemplate because someone on the internet communicated poorly and offensively. Okay then.
posted by rtha at 2:27 PM on January 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


jamjam, the poster makes the mistake of assuming that all people either do or should share one (apparently the OP's) moral system, and that 'shame' (which is notoriously unreliable when applied to people with differing moral values) is the appropriate response for doing so.

If one's motivation for posting is to make other people better, this is probably not the right place.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 2:30 PM on January 25, 2012


"Issues that concern more than half the human race are now too scary to contemplate because someone on the internet communicated poorly and offensively."

We're only human, weird stuff happens.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:34 PM on January 25, 2012


"What I hear in these snide and rather precious comments about her rhetoric and charisma, I'm finding impossible to distinguish from envy."

Really? Should I read all your future critical comments as disguised envy, then? I mean, if you find it impossible to distinguish the two, then we can derive certain conclusions about all critical comments of yours, no?

"Surely, one must judge communication not just by the quality of the prose, but by its success in spreading ideas and turning minds?"

I was being snide, but also to some degree earnest. There's a couple of issues in play in this.

In the cisgendered MeTa thread, I was just recently pointing out that assuming that all rhetoric is conversion rhetoric is problematic. This poster is explicit in saying in so many words that the intended audience for the post is not people who are unconcerned with women's reproductive freedom. And, given how it's written, it's pretty clear that it's not, right? It's off-putting even to some of us who are just as committed and angry about these issues as the poster is. Clearly, to someone from a different perspective, it will likely seem combative or even repulsive. I honestly, sincerely don't believe that the poster cared even a tiny bit about outreach to those who aren't already believers.

So I can't see how her rhetoric can be judged a failure on the basis of its incompetence at outreach and conversion. That's not the writer's intention.

Rather, it's almost certainly one or several of a number of other things, such as increasing empowerment or fervor among believers, increasing specific knowledge among believers, and, as I wrote before, presenting a particular social identity of the poster's. The post can arguably be judged a success on one or more of these.

Even so, to the point of this MeTa, these things don't mesh that well with MetaFilter posts and community standards. Posters do all these things all the time, of course, but usually obliquely and within something that likely has more broad appeal to the community. Some people think that there's a kind of dishonesty about this, that if we feel that something's bad, then it's bad in principle, and therefore should be opposed in principle and universally. But that's the slippery-slope argument fallacy. All posts have some degree of editorializing, either explicit or implicit, but there's widely agreed-upon benefits of keeping the editorializing in posts within some boundaries, even though somewhat arbitrary and inconsistently enforced.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 2:39 PM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


I appreciated the link itself, which I thought was well written.

Strangely enough, I never would have looked at it if there hadn't been this metatalk thread.

I do think it probably would have been better received if it didn't have the "OMG you HAVE to see this movie" tone.

Anytime somebody tells me I HAVE to see some movie/book/whatever I immediately think I'm going to hate it. I don't think there has been one instance where somebody has said I HAVE to see something and I've ended up agreeing with them.
posted by The ____ of Justice at 2:40 PM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ugh, I'm pretty annoyed at myself for "her". Unless I missed it, I don't see that we know the poster's gender and we oughtn't assume it on the basis of the subject matter. I normally wouldn't have, I think and hope, but somehow this got into my head and it's difficult to dislodge. Personally, I deeply hate how certain kinds of default assumptions about a person are both difficult to escape and how they worm their way deep into our heads.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 2:48 PM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


I wouldn't have said people feel intimidated, and that certainly doesn't seem to me to have been her aim, though it's interesting you feel the need to assert that she isn't intimidating, Stitcherbeast.

I was directly responding to Ivan's assertion upthread that she was attempting to be as much.
posted by Sticherbeast at 3:06 PM on January 25, 2012


I agree, OP should knock off the sermons.

Yes, please. Leave that to professionals.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 3:12 PM on January 25, 2012 [9 favorites]


"I was directly responding to Ivan's assertion upthread that she was attempting to be as much."

Yeah, I asserted that and I think it's true. Not as much with her post, as very much so with her deleted comment, which was what my comment was concerned with.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 3:14 PM on January 25, 2012


Thanks for this comment Jessamyn. I really like hearing from the mods about the processes that go on behind the scenes here; it really makes me feel quite certain that whatever the decisions getting made here are, there is a great deal of thought behind them, not just reflexive judgement calls. Knowing that makes it easier for me when something happens that I disagree with

On the topic at hand, it looks to me like the mod team was in a no-win situation. Let the thread stand, and get a MeTa about allowing editorializing in FPPs; delete it and get a MeTa about censoring an important topic.
posted by never used baby shoes at 3:23 PM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ugh, I'm pretty annoyed at myself for "her".

Brief googling reveals the OP is a "he." But then so does the use of Modus Tollens when the question is not validity, but soundness.
posted by anotherpanacea at 3:49 PM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Let the thread stand, and get a MeTa about allowing editorializing in FPPs; delete it and get a MeTa about censoring an important topic.

The people here at Metafilter who have, on occasion, actually made a Meta post crying I'VE BEEN CENSORED!! have been universally laughed off the stage. And any fhe fear, among the mods, of being accused of censorship is, I'd wager, so low as to be almost nonexistent.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:56 PM on January 25, 2012


dunno where that fhe came from
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:57 PM on January 25, 2012


I pointed out the use of "tone" earlier because it seemed the crux of how this went off the rails. From my observation, a likely explanation is:

1) n00b poster makes a post that is framed in a personal manner (call to arms, etc.) perhaps not realizing that MeFi wants posts to be framed impersonally
2) members are annoyed (rightfully, but let's be honest, probably a bit righteously as well) by this framing, because it is essentially "against the rules" of MeFi and what's more, it overshadows a good link with the bad feelings it creates
3) commenters comment to the poster that their post's framing is going to turn people off, but do not specifically explain the framing issue as "this is against MeFi guidelines"
4) poster, having framed their post in a heated manner, probably reads this as a heated reaction from "people who don't get it", and gets defensive, backing up the worthiness of their post
5) commenters respond (basically) "I don't like the tone of this" - with the word "tone" specifically used
5a) "tone argument" in feminist/minority viewpoint circles specifically refers to the phenomenon of "I don't have to listen to your argument/your issue because I don't like how angry/strident I think you're being about it" (i.e. "If you didn't take that tone, maybe I would listen, but now I won't, so nuts to you")
6) I will assume here that the poster is probably fairly aware of this sort of anti-feminist "gotcha", and is probably interpreting "I don't like the tone of this" to mean "I won't listen to this important feminist issue because you're being too angry (or whatever)"
6a) poster very heatedly doubles down on the importance of what they wrote
7) people on both sides are now very offended; the discussion is derailed

So yeah, I think the poster framed it badly for MeFi. And I empathize with members who were offended by it. I don't think the first impulse should be to shame either the poster or the commenters - I think at the heart of this, it could easily have been a Big Misunderstanding. I think the annoyed commenters could have handled it more constructively (started a MeTa post, told the poster specifically the MeFi rules) and I think the poster could've taken it down a few notches as well.

I have said repeatedly I feel like MeFi is too quick to get fighty. I feel like a little more benefit of the doubt, a little more restraint in commenting, might yield a lot less GRAR. It wasn't inevitable that the initial misstep by the poster would cause all this bad feeling - and it's discouraging to me hear members assert that it was.
posted by flex at 4:16 PM on January 25, 2012 [8 favorites]


"But then so does the use of Modus Tollens when the question is not validity, but soundness."

There was absolutely nothing wrong with that use of modus tollens. Validity is the only thing relevant to a claim against it. An unsound argument is correctly criticized on that basis (what makes it unsound), not on its form. Criticizing the poster's use of modus tollens is a criticism of the argument's form, of its validity, not its soundness.

What you probably mean to say is that the poster's defense of their initial assertion is diversionary and irrelevant because the assumptions that assertion was built upon are unsound.

Modus tollens has fuck-all to do with that.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 4:46 PM on January 25, 2012


Every time you say fighty, I ratchet my estimation of your IQ down 20 points.
posted by jonmc at 4:47 PM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Really? Should I read all your future critical comments as disguised envy, then?

Feel free-- and you'd be right at least some of the time (not that I said anything about "disguised").

Ugh, I'm pretty annoyed at myself for "her".


Ulp! Me too.

And finally, sorry, StitcherBeast, I ought to have read more carefully.
posted by jamjam at 4:48 PM on January 25, 2012


The g word is offensive.
posted by Burhanistan at 4:50 PM on January 25, 2012


What do you gain by being nitpickingly critical, jonmc? That's not a rhetorical question. Casual nastiness is pretty harmful within a community IMO.
posted by flex at 4:58 PM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Every time you say fighty, I ratchet my estimation of your IQ down 20 points.

Man, you must really think poorly of Jessamyn, then.
posted by jacquilynne at 4:59 PM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Haha! I too have felt the sting of jonmc's anti-"y suffix" whip. Dunno why it's such a big issue with the man, but, hey, you gotta love him anyway, right?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:08 PM on January 25, 2012


Man, you must really think poorly of Jessamyn, then.

I have a special dispensation.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:15 PM on January 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


It wasn't inevitable that the initial misstep by the poster would cause all this bad feeling

What "all this bad feeling" are you referring to? Other than the deleted comment by the OP, this episode hasn't seemed to have generated much grar relatively-speaking, especially given the heat around here the last few days.
posted by Dano St at 5:16 PM on January 25, 2012


There was absolutely nothing wrong with that use of modus tollens.

If I tell you I disagree with your premise, you don't point to the formal structure of your argument, you give me reasons or evidence to accept the premise. (Alternatively, you give me different premises that also necessitate the conclusion.) Pointing to the validity of the argument in that case is a red herring, or more specifically a kind of circular reasoning that we call "begging the question." By pointing to validity in that case, you're saying, "I know you disagree with them, but if you assume that my premises are true then my conclusions would necessarily follow."

Once the premises are in question, it's not longer appropriate to demand that your interlocutors assume them. The critics are not contesting the validity of the argument, they're contesting its soundness.
posted by anotherpanacea at 5:25 PM on January 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


Now I feel bad for taking so much time to talk shit about the rhetorical capabilities of a stranger who is probably an intelligent, well-intentioned person who had an interesting link to share. Yeah, he wrote a jerky comment, but lord knows I've done plenty of that.

Either way, at the end of the day, despite all of our differences, I think what we can all agree on is the fact that Fish Police was an animated television show aired in 1992 on CBS, which featured film noir style mysteries told in a fantastic undersea universe.
posted by Sticherbeast at 5:32 PM on January 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


What do you gain by being nitpickingly critical, jonmc? That's not a rhetorical question. Casual nastiness is pretty harmful within a community IMO.

Nothing, I just hate the whole 'add a y' linguistic laziness. Why you care what I think is the real mystery.
posted by jonmc at 5:36 PM on January 25, 2012


Either way, at the end of the day, despite all of our differences, I think what we can all agree on is the fact that Fish Police was an animated television show aired in 1992 on CBS, which featured film noir style mysteries told in a fantastic undersea universe.

Reminds me of the scene in Brain Candy when Don Roritor is trying to convince Chris Cooper about something having to do with the drug GLeeMONEX. "Chris, I'm sensing that you don't agree with me. Can we agree that Paris is the capital of France? Good. Now we're back in agreement."
posted by hippybear at 5:37 PM on January 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yeah, you're right Sticherbeast. I teach logic so I get all stupid about it sometimes. Amusingly, today was the second day of class so we actually did modus ponens and modus tollens. I'm gonna go give my wife a hug and then do my taxes.
posted by anotherpanacea at 5:38 PM on January 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Nothing, I just hate the whole 'add a y' linguistic laziness.

Whole nations have sprung up and grown old in the time since the productive -y suffix became a normal part of the English language. Your relentless unwillingness to hug and accept this beautiful and long-standing engine of suffix-driven inflection makes me in turns gloomy and shirty, man.
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:45 PM on January 25, 2012 [9 favorites]


Again, why you care what I think is beyond me. But, it rubs me the wrong way, and that's simply the size of it. Do what you want, but that's what I think.
posted by jonmc at 5:50 PM on January 25, 2012


Fish Police

wait, really? that wasn't a wild drug fuelled hallucination?
posted by elizardbits at 5:57 PM on January 25, 2012


suddenly i have so many questions about the rest of that accursed decade
posted by elizardbits at 5:57 PM on January 25, 2012


Right night, huh? Everybody was Kung Fu fighty.
posted by drjimmy11 at 5:59 PM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Agggh. "rough" night.
posted by drjimmy11 at 5:59 PM on January 25, 2012


Why are you writing what you think in a shared space if you don't think anyone is going to read it and react to it? That people might care what you think is kind of a given here; things you don't think anybody should care about seem more like things to not say in the first place. Not a huge deal or anything, just kind of a weird gambit in a fundamentally conversational space.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:09 PM on January 25, 2012 [13 favorites]


What I hear in these snide and rather precious comments about her rhetoric and charisma, I'm finding impossible to distinguish from envy.

For some reason this really sticks in my craw. People bring different ideals to the table when writing and rhetoric. For instance, I'm pretty sure that this comment created a separate reality in which Eric Blaire's spirit spends the rest of eternity haunting MultiplyDrafted and any of their descendants that ever tries to write a single word in the English Language, and I'm pretty sure he would have nothing to be envious of.

Just because you dig something aesthetically doesn't mean that there isn't valid criticism of it.
posted by Gygesringtone at 6:12 PM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Once the premises are in question, it's not longer appropriate to demand that your interlocutors assume them. The critics are not contesting the validity of the argument, they're contesting its soundness."

Which critics? The one who suggests the poster should take remedial Logic 101? You, who suggest Googling modus tollens? The commenters who criticized the poster's tone?

The context of my comment was a response to the Logic 101 quip. Modus tollens is taught in every Introductory Logic course on the planet while, in contrast, soundness is much more ambiguous and while of course relevant to "Logic 101", it's far beyond its scope. "Logic 101" is first and foremost concerned with validity, not soundness.

To make this more clear: given a contesting of the premise, there is nothing more inappropriate about the use of modus tollens than there is about any other aspect of the poster's argument aside from the premise. It's no more inappropriate or appropriate than, say, the poster's spelling. There is no reason to single it out for criticism. Or, for that matter, to suggest that someone Google it.

Also, contrary to your assertion, defending the validity of an argument when the premise has been contested is not "begging the question". It's not a tautology. It's not circular. What it is, is ignoratio elenchi. This is an awfully embarrassing mistake for a professional philosopher, especially one who is attempting to be both condescending and pedantic. But, hey, you're a political philosopher and not a logician or an analytical philosopher, so it's more forgivable. Well, aside from the condescension part.

On preview:

"Yeah, you're right Sticherbeast. I teach logic so I get all stupid about it sometimes.

Well, that's frightening. And so true, apparently.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 6:44 PM on January 25, 2012


Well, aside from the condescension part.

*jaw drops*

This logic shit is way over my head, but I am utterly flabbergasted that a defense of "In short, this is an opportunity to become a better person," would include accusations of condescension upon anyone other than MultiplyDrafted.
posted by Dano St at 7:07 PM on January 25, 2012


Everybody stop fighting!

Can I do one of these:
Metafilter: this is an opportunity to become a better person.
posted by secretseasons at 7:10 PM on January 25, 2012


...This is an awfully embarrassing mistake for a professional philosopher, especially one who is attempting to be both condescending and pedantic. But, hey, you're a political philosopher and not a logician or an analytical philosopher, so it's more forgivable. Well, aside from the condescension part.

On preview:

"Yeah, you're right Sticherbeast. I teach logic so I get all stupid about it sometimes.


Well, that's frightening. And so true, apparently.


Uh huh!

See why I didn't say "disguised envy"?
posted by jamjam at 7:20 PM on January 25, 2012


Are we being fighty?

Do you really and sincerely object to that, jonmc? I think it serves a useful and subtle purpose, myself. It calls attention to belligerence while undercutting it with a dash of silly humor—which, in my observation, is better at defusing tension and avoiding provocation than even is Being Really Nice and much, much more so than Appealing To Our Better Natures. Humor is weird that way.

"This logic shit is way over my head, but I am utterly flabbergasted that a defense of "In short, this is an opportunity to become a better person," would include accusations of condescension upon anyone other than MultiplyDrafted."

The whole chain deeply rubbed me the wrong way. My feeling is, if you're going to attempt that gambit, you'd best be rock solidly secure in your supposedly lofty height. MP tried it and failed. Decani tried it against MP and failed. By anotherpanacea's lights, I tried it against Decani and failed, and by my lights, anotherpanacea tried it on me and failed. If any one or more of us are actually proven to be secure in our fortress of snootery, then hooray for us. Otherwise, I suppose we're all at fault.

It's a practice not very conducive to productive discourse. But we all have our buttons.

"See why I didn't say 'disguised envy'?"

No. In all sincerity, in almost all cases, there are vast possibilities for why someone would be motivated to be critical, or rude, or condescending, or dismissive, or angry about someone's else actions or arguments or statements. Back when this was more common (or perhaps I paid more attention to conservative media personalities), it always seemed to me to be very weirdly gradeschool-esque when American conservatives would argue that "they" hate us because they envy our freedoms.

Like a lot of folk, I spend a fair bit of time thinking about other people's opinions and reactions and, generally, figure out what's going on in their heads. And, now that I spend a few minutes scouring my memory, I can't remember the last time my conclusion about the motivation for someone's disdain or criticism was that it was envy. I think I must hardly ever infer that in people. Yet, obviously, some other people are quick to jump to that with very little evidence.

Which is something else to wonder about in itself.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 7:37 PM on January 25, 2012


Woah dude. I knew I should have gone to bed.

You, who suggest Googling modus tollens?

I don't know what you're talking about. The only time I mentioned Google, I was googling the OP and decided he was a man.

Also, contrary to your assertion, defending the validity of an argument when the premise has been contested is not "begging the question". It's not a tautology. It's not circular. What it is, is ignoratio elenchi.

Right, I said it was a red herring. But it's also circular, in the sense that I described, because it assumes what it sets out to prove (i.e. the contested premise.)

This is an awfully embarrassing mistake for a professional philosopher, especially one who is attempting to be both condescending and pedantic. But, hey, you're a political philosopher and not a logician or an analytical philosopher, so it's more forgivable. Well, aside from the condescension part.

I didn't condescend to you. I was just chatting. It's stupid to obsess about the OP's style and tone and such, which is why I bowed out. But now I'm back (which is also stupid) and I've got to say that you're not giving me much charity here. You're misreading statements left and right.

I'm super-glad you're back, (now that I've looked at your profile and realize who you are) but I wish I wasn't encountering you again under these circumstances. I really think if you look again at what I wrote, you'll realize that you're largely repeating what I said, and even if there's still some disagreement it's just a friendly one.
posted by anotherpanacea at 7:45 PM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well, fair enough. I apologize with reservation.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 7:54 PM on January 25, 2012


without reservation
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 7:56 PM on January 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


heh. seriously, though, it's great that you're back.
posted by anotherpanacea at 7:57 PM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


aw yay!
posted by sweetkid at 8:00 PM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


So... does red herring taste better in wine sauce or cream sauce?

Both with sweet onions, naturally.
posted by zarq at 8:04 PM on January 25, 2012


"heh. seriously, though, it's great that you're back."

Thanks! It's very kind of you to say so, especially in this context. Again, I apologize. I may be bad-tempered today. I'm better at recognizing when this is the case, but it's disconcerting that sometimes I can be bad-tempered but not realize it.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 8:04 PM on January 25, 2012


MetaTalk: secure in our fortress of snootery
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:23 PM on January 25, 2012


It probably violated site guidelines. But it only pissed people off that much because it involved feminism. Same way the whole cisgender denier thing had some truth to it (in that it is annoying to create new words and expect people to use them) but people only got pissed because it involved the subject of transgender.
posted by yarly at 8:49 PM on January 25, 2012


Is that so? Well, thanks for the clearing that all up.
posted by Dano St at 8:58 PM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Agree with all of flex's comments in the thread.
posted by Danila at 9:00 PM on January 25, 2012


It probably violated site guidelines. But it only pissed people off that much because it involved feminism.

Nah, it definitely violated site guidelines and that pissed me off. I rant about feminism at least once a week, so that's not what bothered me about it at all, it was pure framing of the post. It's not fair to characterize the disagreement this way.

I like that people like to post about progressive topics here, but I don't feel like Metafilter should be "that site where we educate each other about progressive topics."
posted by sweetkid at 9:26 PM on January 25, 2012 [8 favorites]


But it only pissed people off that much because it involved feminism.

Ahh! I love the smell of condescension in the morning!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:40 PM on January 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Ah the old use inflammatory language to get people worked up, then level the "tone argument" against them to shut them up when they call you on it. Metafilter, for all it's faults, is sort of an oasis in a sea of otherwise shit sites because people don't usually pull this here. The problem of course is nobody recognizes this trick here.

But trolling is a two way street, some people are not just fucking with you. When you say "I would would listen to you if you changed your tone" they think you are trolling them, that you are not interested in listening to them, that you are just interested in shutting them up.

Anyone who cares about justice should read this. Notice how the article demonstrates exactly what it is taking about, it would be very easy to say the article is itself hateful and angry, but if you dismiss the article for that reason you are doing exactly what the article is talking about. Very clever.

I'm just trying to educate people about arguing on the Internet. A poster may be sincere, but they may just be trolling.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:58 PM on January 25, 2012


I agree with jonmc that "fighty" is an annoying and infantile word, and that people who use it deserve to be gratuitously fought with.
posted by Decani at 12:44 AM on January 26, 2012


If by "someone" you mean "Decani", then yeah. I agree.

posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 8:02 PM on January 25


My little snark was about soundness vs. validity, and the fact that it's really easy to take an outrageously non-established premise and validly draw an unsound conclusion from it. Logically valid castles built on sand can be fun, especially for people who don't have a sound argument, but when it comes to fairness and truth they're as much use as the proverbial chocolate teapot.

I thought the comment deserved a sarcastic response because it was brimming with pomposity and arrogant presumption, and because the OP was lecturing us, which I don't appreciate. You have reminded me, however, that others simply love that sort of stuff. Different strokes, eh?
posted by Decani at 1:27 AM on January 26, 2012


I don't know why people are getting all hoppitamoppitish about "fighty".
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 3:59 AM on January 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


I don't know why people are getting all hoppitamoppitish about "fighty".

To the point of being ranty about being fighty about the word "fighty"? I am not sure if it is being snooty, persnickety or haughty? Giggity.
posted by lampshade at 4:26 AM on January 26, 2012


I like it better when we're tickety-boo.
posted by taz (staff) at 4:59 AM on January 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


TIL that "tickety-boo" is a slang word meaning "going smoothly, doing all right" and not a random phrase made up taz to fit the word+y discussion.

I also learned that I am incapable of hearing anything with the formula "* boo" without thinking "You wear a disguise to look like human guys but you're not a man, you're a chicken boo."
posted by nooneyouknow at 5:32 AM on January 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


CHICKEN BOO WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH YOU
posted by elizardbits at 6:24 AM on January 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


it only pissed people off that much because it involved feminism

I take it you meant this in a disparaging way, but my view is that such good links deserved a better presentation, so the sites' many feminists were disappointed that they were ensconced in that form.

Since we've been discussing rhetorical techniques and fallacies, it may interest you to know that this particular move has recently become known as arguing by going upstairs, a variety of self-sealing: "objections are dismissed as a sign that the objector is not yet in a position to understand the argument, or that the objector is actually proving the argument sound by asking those objections."

From Understanding Arguments by Walter Sinnott-Armstrong and Robert Fogelin:
Ideologies and worldviews tend to be self-sealing. The Marxist ideology sometimes has this quality. If you fail to see the truth of the Marxist ideology, that just shows that your social consciousness has not been raised. The very fact that you reject the Marxist ideology shows that you are not yet capable of understanding it and that you are in need of re-education. This is perfect self-sealing. People who vigorously disagree with certain psychoanalytic claims can be accused of repressing these facts. If a boy denies that he wants to murder his father and sleep with his mother, this itself can be taken as evidence of the strength of these desires and of his unwillingness to acknowledge them. If this kind of reasoning gets out of hand, then psychoanalytic theory also becomes self-sealing and empty. Freud was aware of this danger and warned against it. [...]

[This kind of argument can] counter criticism by attacking its critics. Critics of Marxism are charged with having a decadent bourgeois consciousness that blinds them to the facts of class conflict. The critic’s response to psychoanalytic theory is analyzed (and then dismissed) as repression, a reaction formation, or something similar. Here self-sealing is achieved through an ad hominem fallacy. We might call this self-sealing by going upstairs, because the theorist is looking down on the critic.
It's a tricky one. Clearly many objections to feminism and transgender issues come from a deep insecurity about these issues that prevents understanding. But does every objection come from that place? Almost certainly not.

What's more, sometimes you can only understand something by experimentally trying its assumptions on for size, but this works just as well for fundamentalist Christianity as it does for feminism: what makes feminism right and fundamentalism wrong are the facts that are persuasive regardless of your starting assumptions or biases. And while some things really don't make sense until you're older, other things are just irrelevant appeals to authority.
posted by anotherpanacea at 6:43 AM on January 26, 2012 [9 favorites]


The people here at Metafilter who have, on occasion, actually made a Meta post crying I'VE BEEN CENSORED!! have been universally laughed off the stage. And any fhe fear, among the mods, of being accused of censorship is, I'd wager, so low as to be almost nonexistent.

Yeah, I get you. What I meant by my comment was that no matter which way the mods went, they were going to wind up with a MeTa to babysit.
posted by never used baby shoes at 7:55 AM on January 26, 2012


I take it you meant this in a disparaging way, but my view is that such good links deserved a better presentation, so the sites' many feminists were disappointed that they were ensconced in that form.

Well, I didn't love the way it was presented, but I come to metafilter for the links, not the "tone." Plenty of time, FPPs have good links but are presented in annoying ways. What struck me is that in this case is the sheer vituperativeness of some people's reaction to the framing. Mere annoyance warrants a shrung and a "flag and move on" sort of thing, or maybe a Meta post if you're really a stickler for rules. Jumping IMMEDIATELY into the thread to chastise the poster immediately suggests to me that there's something more ... fighty ... going on, involving the underlying substance of the link instead of the "framing."

Since we've been discussing rhetorical techniques and fallacies, it may interest you to know that this particular move has recently become known as arguing by going upstairs, a variety of self-sealing: "objections are dismissed as a sign that the objector is not yet in a position to understand the argument, or that the objector is actually proving the argument sound by asking those objections."

Which move are you referring to here? My criticism that it was really the feminism that pissed people off? I'm not actually commenting on people's actual objections to feminism; and I wasn't trying to say that the "tone" critics just needed their consciousness raised. What struck me is that what REALLY set them off was the fact that the post was about feminism and dared to be framed a bit obstreperously. If they actually wanted to criticize the link itself on anti-feminist grounds, that would be totally different (and much more in keeping with Metafilter's purpose).
posted by yarly at 8:08 AM on January 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


What struck me is that what REALLY set them off was the fact that the post was about feminism and dared to be framed a bit obstreperously

What struck me is that what REALLY set you off was the fact that the commenters were male and dared to voice an opinion on site policy.
posted by ericost at 8:54 AM on January 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


I would have been equally irritated by somebody telling me "if you care about, you know, justice, you should already have been reading x" no matter what the topic is. It's not anti-feminist to not want to be condescended to by a sanctimonious person, and the "tone argument" is not a blank check to treat people badly. Given that numerous women who are vocal feminists on this site have said here they found the poster's tone equally obnoxious, it's just a silly insinuation to make that everybody that hates this is secretly anti-feminist but not willing to say so directly.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 9:07 AM on January 26, 2012 [5 favorites]


Jumping IMMEDIATELY into the thread to chastise the poster immediately suggests to me that there's something more ... fighty ... going on, involving the underlying substance of the link instead of the "framing."

As a mere point of anecdata, I will mention again, as I did 200 comments ago, that that sort of thing drives me bananas and that I avoided the thread and its links entirely because I knew I would be tempted to pick a fight over how it was presented. I am extremely sympathetic to the idea that that choice about reproductive rights needs to include the choice not to exercise them. But you know what this feminist really doesn't like? Being told how to think, being condescended to, and being presumptively villified on there mere chance I might express disagreement with one's premise. I refrained from participating in that thread because I know that "Hey, pally, how 'bout you cram it sideways?" is not a constructive opener for civil discourse, but that's what I felt like saying despite my sympathy with the content of the post and the subject in general.

All of which is to say, there are more things, Horatio.

Also, another panecea, there's actually been a fairly lively recent debate about whether the American right is undergoing this process currently, only they call it "epistemic closure".
posted by Diablevert at 12:38 PM on January 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


What struck me is that what REALLY set them off was the fact that the post was about feminism and dared to be framed a bit obstreperously.

Yeah, it's this "what you REALLY mean" move that I was referring to. You're going upstairs.

Writing in the second person is irritating. The OP's post was was written in the second person, and that rankles no matter what the content. I realize now that part of what made my discussion with Ivan so difficult is that I was describing the problem in second person terms. It's difficult not to read what I wrote now as anything other than a lecture, even though Ivan and I largely agree! So what gives me the right to lecture him? Now, I didn't intend it that way, but I am a pedagogue and pedantry is an occupational hazard. Thankfully, Ivan seems willing to give me the benefit of the doubt.

Also, another panecea, there's actually been a fairly lively recent debate about whether the American right is undergoing this process currently, only they call it "epistemic closure".

Yup, though closure is a term of art, and it's probably best understood as group polarization.
posted by anotherpanacea at 12:44 PM on January 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


But you know what this feminist really doesn't like? Being told how to think, being condescended to, and being presumptively villified on there mere chance I might express disagreement with one's premise.

Very true for most feminists (also very true for non-feminists, I imagine). What's also true is that a lot of feminists (and, probably non- too) are over in that thread right now, talking about the links, because they decided that ignoring potentially good links because someone presented them in a less-than-ideal way is counter-productive. I just sat through a webinar for work where one presenter was....not great, in a god-are-you-irritating kind of way, but their slides and handouts had some very useful information.

tl;dr version: my nose looks good where it is, no point in cutting it off to spite my face
posted by rtha at 1:24 PM on January 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


What's also true is that a lot of feminists (and, probably non- too) are over in that thread right now, talking about the links, because they decided that ignoring potentially good links because someone presented them in a less-than-ideal way is counter-productive.

On a practical level, I feel the moment has passed, and I'm mostly in this thread when I probably should be out of it because, for better or for worse, this particular practice pushes my buttons and I'd like to do my bit to shape consensus toward not having it in the future.

But, to your larger point? I do not read this place for my moral betterment. The argument that I ought to go to church even though I don't like the preacher because it's good for my soul has no resonance with me. I'm glad other people are getting something out of it. But I think it's especially true that we ought not to let the packaging slide because we like the content when it comes to political topics, not the other way around.
posted by Diablevert at 2:17 PM on January 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


The argument that I ought to go to church even though I don't like the preacher because it's good for my soul has no resonance with me.

That's not my argument. The linked material remains what it is regardless of how it's presented; reading it or not will likely not have any effect on your soul, but it might serve you in other ways.

But I think it's especially true that we ought not to let the packaging slide because we like the content when it comes to political topics, not the other way around.


Agreed - when it comes to possibly contentious topics, presentation is key. For me, though, I try hard to not let my irritation with the messenger make me ignore the message. If I did, I never would have made it out of high school.
posted by rtha at 3:08 PM on January 26, 2012


But I think it's especially true that we ought not to let the packaging slide because we like the content when it comes to political topics, not the other way around.

I completely agree with this and as I've said I prefer impartial framing and support it as a MeFi rule (again - I didn't like the framing on this post in particular - but I certainly identify as feminist and thought the link was good). So I suppose that ideally, the post would have been deleted right away with the poster told that the framing was outside MeFi guidelines and likely to provoke a fight, please try it again, etc. which is what usually happens in these cases.

However, it wasn't deleted, for whatever reason. I don't feel it's constructive to get visibly annoyed, derail the thread, argue with each other, make the poster defensive (especially a new poster who may not understand they did something against site norms), or otherwise get everyone's tempers up. Some may think shaming is necessary, but I don't think it's constructive to immediately leap to shaming rather than give the benefit of the doubt that someone didn't know they did something wrong, or that they are having a bad day, or whatever else might be going on - beyond a kneejerk "someone is WRONG on the INTERNET". (Do you want to run off someone that posted a good link and could post more good links just because they made a mistake? Or do you want them to understand the site norms so they post more good links in a fashion up to the site standard?)

It isn't inevitable that cases like this will go badly. When members spot something that looks like it's against the site norms, or just off-kilter/potentially trouble - it isn't a license for them to behave negatively: two wrongs don't make a right. The post was made, it hadn't been deleted: you can flag it, go to MeTa, contact the mods - you could also refrain from commenting because you know you would make an angry comment, or you could discuss the link.

The constructive way still makes clear the community guidelines (allowing the reality, which is that everything is not going to be enforced perfectly all the time, but most of the time, it will run smoothly).

The not-constructive way is both short-term and long-term harmful to the community even as it poses as enforcing the community norms for the good of the site.
posted by flex at 3:25 PM on January 26, 2012


The linked essay was good, and I've subscribed to that blog. I'm glad MeFi was able to underail and discuss the post, but I think dasein's comment was entirely justified, and the OP is behaving like a real jerk.

I don't know what it is so many smart people have against learning to communicate effectively, but it pretty much is always your responsibility to make people give a shit about what you have to say. And this isn't just failing to reach people with tone, it's actively scaring people way with extremely shitty tone.

Many people care about these relevant issues but also don't feel the need to read everything written by everybody who feels like talking about these things, and they're allowed not to do so, so it helps to offer a compelling reason for a particular piece you feel should be read. If a piece is especially compelling, and this one was I think, then making this argument is not very tricky, so, no excuses.

I wouldn't mind not seeing the OP around anymore, because his every comment makes him seem like he still hasn't learned how to not be unpleasant. We have lots of good feminists here. I wouldn't miss this one.
posted by Rory Marinich at 3:43 PM on January 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


I was like him once. (Sometimes, on certain topics, i feel like i still am.) Probably some other mefites here were too. Over time and with enough feedback, maybe he'll learn that hectoring people and raising hackles is not an effective way to persuade people.

Better that than saying "go away," no?
posted by zarq at 4:50 PM on January 26, 2012


Yeah I'm not really comfortable with the "go away" approach. Give people some time to figure things out.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:12 PM on January 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah I'm not really comfortable with the "go away" approach. Give people some time to figure things out.

The Go Away Blues

go away for a while, and try,
to figure things out
go away for a while, and try,
to figure things out
when you're ready to not be a jerk,
hey, give us a shout

your sanctimonious tone,
hey man, it's a drag
your sanctimonious tone,
hey man, it's a drag
if you do it again,
we're gonna give you the "sermon" tag

i don't need be told how to think,
i got a brain of my own
i don't need to be told how to think,
i got a brain of my own
there's some front page post writing skills
man, that you need to hone

so next time, try
to lay off the editorial slant
yeah, next time, try
to lay off the editorial slant
and indeed, please do go away
if you find that you can't
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:47 PM on January 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


"I don't know what it is so many smart people have against learning to communicate effectively, but it pretty much is always your responsibility to make people give a shit about what you have to say. And this isn't just failing to reach people with tone, it's actively scaring people way with extremely shitty tone."

I don't agree with this. If I did, I think that I would have to switch one of my positions in this thread or in the cisgendered MeTa thread. In a way related to, but distinct from, the criticism of the tone argument, I think that it's problematic to critique someone's argument from the presumption that it's their responsibility to make it appealing.

My complaint about the poster's framing of the post is that it breaks site guidelines and community norms; and that these things exist because they help keep MeFi the kind of place it is, the place that Matt intended and most of the community prefers. Not that the individual post fails to achieve goals I ascribe to it or the poster.

I think it's presumptuous to assume that the posters of the cisgendered post and of this post intended them as outreach aimed at conversion of those who otherwise hold a different opinion and then to critique them on that basis. The sense of reader's entitlement in this bothers me.

Obviously, every written sentence is intended to be read by someone, sometime, somewhere and at some level of detail it could be fairly judged on that basis. But no writer ever aims to appeal to every possible reader and so any given reader has no right to assert that the writer failed because the writing didn't appeal specifically to him or her. That's not to say that we can't estimate the most likely intended audience, as a group, and also estimate how something fares in reaching that group; but we ought to be careful about not confusing our own subjective response with an objectively-based estimate.

Every thing worth reading, every thing worth learning, every artwork worth experiencing needn't have the most felicity possible. Sometimes, felicity is counter-productive. Often, an acquired expectation of felicity results in a narrow, self-harming range of learning and experience.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 6:30 PM on January 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't feel it's constructive to get visibly annoyed, derail the thread, argue with each other, make the poster defensive (especially a new poster who may not understand they did something against site norms), or otherwise get everyone's tempers up. Some may think shaming is necessary, but I don't think it's constructive to immediately leap to shaming rather than give the benefit of the doubt ...

I completely agree with this, but ask again what are you referring to? Dasein's first comment was "This is not an effective way to entice people to read your post." There are certainly better first posts that could have been made; the blue is not the best place to make such meta-commentary. But as a criticism of the framing, it's about as mildly put as can be. It don't think it is at all fair to characterize it as "visibly annoyed", arguing, shaming, etc. The same with hippybear's first comment.

From my reading of the thread, the highwater mark of extant harshness seems to be Dasein's second comment: "think about your tone... [y]ou're coming off sounding like a self-righterous undergraduate". After that came the deleted comments and the eventual re-railing of the thread

I get what you are saying about 'tone' having special meaning in social justice circles, but this isn't a case a man telling a woman not to be so angry. It's a man telling another man not to be so pompous. Self-righteous undergrad is hardly an outrageous insult on a site where declarations like "straight men should be made uncomfortable" are met with cheering. So really, unless you are referring to other (possibly deleted) comments, I can't see who you are saying should have been better about giving OP the benefit of the doubt, and how they should have done so.

You've suggested MeTa as alternative a couple of times. I agree that here is where comments about framing naturally belong, but generally having a MeTa thread created about you is not the nicest way to get feedback. It was only Brandon's expert framing here, and the protection afforded MultiplyDrafted by deleting his ultrashitty reply to "Dasein & Co", that prevented a big pile-on. MultiplyDrafted got off much easier than anybody whose ever violated a site norm related to gender certainly ever has.

Finally, regarding the "be nice to the newbie": the account has been open for over a year and a half, and MultiplyDrafted is clearly smart and thus probably quick to pick things up, and he has experienced at least some feedback about site norms before because he's had an FPP deleted before. I think much of this speculation about his understanding of site norms is exactly that: speculation.

I just feel like there's this narrative being pushed by some that people were outrageously mean to MultiplyDrafted, and I'm having trouble seeing the basis for that claim.
posted by Dano St at 6:35 PM on January 26, 2012 [6 favorites]


^After seeing that post, I pretty much immediately concluded that I no longer care what the OP has to say, that I will avoid the "Feminist Philosophy" blog like the plague, and indeed that the issue of female reproductive rights itself is a minefield I don't want to step into.

How very fortunate for you to have a choice. Some might even say you're privileged.
posted by gingerest at 7:15 PM on January 26, 2012 [5 favorites]


How very fortunate for you to have a choice. Some might even say you're privileged.
posted by gingerest at 3:15 AM on January 27


Yes indeed. And if such people said that solely on the basis of the comment you responded to, such people might reasonably be termed utter twats, also.
posted by Decani at 7:25 PM on January 26, 2012


I basically skim the post I then go to the links, I'm not reading it closely or taking it personally, so I'm reacting based on that. I'm also down to call people out when I think they might be sexist. In this thread, I failed, but I would do it again. Ya gotta watch out for that sexism!
posted by fuq at 7:42 PM on January 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Dano St, I don't think people were being "outrageously mean". I think Dasein and hippybear were irritated at the post's framing and the violation of site norms. I understand (and agree) with their irritation. I don't think the poster came off well in their responses. I think maybe it's appearing because I've been feeling the need to make sure my points are clear in this thread, that I'm waging a full-out defense of the poster and their behavior; or roundly censuring Dasein and hippybear; I am not doing either.

I think that threads are for discussing the topics of and the links given in posts, not the framing of the post or what have you. Talking about that stuff in a thread is mostly considered threadshitting and it causes derails. I thought the guideline was that if you have to say something publicly (because you want, essentially, a community referendum on the issue), you go to MetaTalk. If you don't feel it's so egregious that you need to open a MeTa, then you can flag it, you can contact the mods, you can MeMail the poster, and/or you can refraining from commenting in that thread at all and move on. (I absolutely agree that having a MeTa opened about a post is not the nicest way to get feedback, so I think it's worth trying milder options first, in most cases.)

If you start talking about that stuff in a thread, then you are being visibly (publicly) annoyed, because the other options aren't public comments. What do you think is going to happen by saying any of that in a thread? You may be perfectly right, but it's likely to start an argument (and it did, here). Early threadshitting often sets the mood of a thread. More people will join in and start a pile-on. Being criticized in public gets people's backs up - even if you think it's relatively mild criticism - some people are more sensitive than others; some people feel like they have to save face. (Your "hardly an outrageous insult" is still an insult.)

Your additional info that is coloring your perception of the poster and their behavior wasn't available when the incident happened. At a glance my possible explanation is plausible. It is no less plausible than yours, or anyone else's in this thread.

You are exactly right that I am speculating. But my speculation is "maybe the poster, who has only made two posts, doesn't know they violated the site norms" or "maybe the poster was thinking people were calling a tone argument on them (which is inflammatory, so they overreacted) when really, the commenters were telling the poster that this is not how we do things on MeFi, so when the poster got very heated in response then the commenters got upset because they were totally right, the post wasn't framed well, so everyone was shouting past each other and it flared up much brighter than it should have".

My speculation gives the benefit of the doubt because my speculation doesn't assume the worst of the poster as other speculation has or could: that the poster knows the norms but decided to violate them anyway; that the poster is trolling us all; that the poster is out to lecture us all (instead of feeling provoked to prove the worthiness of their post), etc.

I have no reason to assume the worst, I think, until I feel the poster (or anyone that breaks the site norms) has been clearly communicated with and still decides to ignore and/or yell. And when I say all this, I'm extrapolating it across MeFi, that it would be better for the site if we were kinder to each other. I try to take people seriously. I try to understand where they're coming from. I try to allow that they might have made an honest mistake or that they're having a bad day. I do that not just because I feel it's the kind thing to do but because I hope that's how other people will treat me, too. I don't always succeed, but I try.
posted by flex at 8:08 PM on January 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


All goals I share as well. Ideally meta-discussion should not have been part of the thread. And I try, as well, to give benefit of the doubt and encourage others to do so. Realistically, though, given the degree of the framing issue and a still evolving history regarding what constitutes threadshitting, it didn't seem like all that bad a thread to me. Perfection is nice to dream about, but I'll settle for trending in its direction without expectation of actually getting there. The site is generally nicer now than its been, I think.
posted by Dano St at 8:40 PM on January 26, 2012


I'm not fixated on perfection; I just think we can do better; I do think the negative participation overshadows or outshouts the positive participation all too often - it makes more impact with less effort, so I feel like keeping aware of that is helpful. But I agree with you that the site is probably generally nicer (and more inclusive) now than it has been in the past.
posted by flex at 9:10 PM on January 26, 2012


That's weird, I was just thinking about how long it's been since I had a reason to reorganize my personal list of Top Ten Instances in Which Vagina-Based Insults That Were Apparently Meant to Be "Cute" in a Cutting Way on Account of Context Instead Came Out Sounding Ridonkulous, as the Kids Do Not Actually Say. Or do they? I can't tell, they keep whispering. And pointing. It's unnerving, kids! Anyway, "twat" sounds pretty silly and gross, but I think "vagina" is actually the less attractive collection of sounds. Might as well just use that. (No replacements for "ridonkulous," spell check reports. I guess it has to stay in there.)
posted by Adventurer at 2:20 AM on January 27, 2012


I'll share an observation gratuitiously since its kinda on the various points that this thread covers. I'm discovering that all this feminism stuff loses its intensity somewhere after your fourth decade. You're in a weird 'whatever' zone and none of this evokes any outrage or energy of any sort. I'm not saying this as a good thing or a bad thing just observing myself feeling so detached from issues around gender and yet I do have dim memories of being really really strongly opinionated/emotionally worked about all this stuff.

I wonder why its so - is it that I'm detached from worldly life or live in my head too much or simply way more experienced in who I am [in entirety] or single and thus not impacted on a daily basis or what? Or have I just faded away?

Yeah but its not really Askme either is it?
posted by infini at 5:50 AM on January 27, 2012 [3 favorites]


I won't pretend to be able to able to answer that, but I've noticed a couple of thing about how my attitudes have changed since I was twenty:

Drama isn't as fun anymore. Outrage was really fun when I was young. There were protests, action committees, lots of activity. Family and home and work life limits the time for a lot of that, and I don't seem to be able to sustain the emotional energy for it anymore. Which is good on balance, I don't hold grudges for days anymore either. Lower-key activities like volunteer work are more appealing now.

Probably more important than that thought is a better understanding of nuance, and the idea that surface effects are less important than root causes. Band-aid solutions are less satisfying because I've seen them fail now. A few times in some cases. Positive change works best at the root rather than the top of the tree. Things are always more complicated than public opinion or the press makes it out to be. Understanding is hard and real change takes energy, time and patience. Protest and outrage seem the easy way out to me now.
posted by bonehead at 8:12 AM on January 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm discovering that all this feminism stuff loses its intensity somewhere after your fourth decade. You're in a weird 'whatever' zone and none of this evokes any outrage or energy of any sort.

“It’s funny. In your 20s, you’re like, 'Fuck you, man. Fuck that shit. Fuck my parents. I don’t need none of that shit.'

In your 30s, you’re like, 'Fuck the President. Fuck that guy, that fucking asshole.'

In your 40s, you’re like, 'I’m hungry'."

- Adam Sandler, Funny People
posted by Errant at 10:51 AM on January 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


"I'm discovering that all this feminism stuff loses its intensity somewhere after your fourth decade. You're in a weird 'whatever' zone and none of this evokes any outrage or energy of any sort. I'm not saying this as a good thing or a bad thing just observing myself feeling so detached from issues around gender and yet I do have dim memories of being really really strongly opinionated/emotionally worked about all this stuff. "

By "your", you mean "my". I'm 47 and I feel at least as strongly about "feminism stuff" as I did when I was 20 and it generates a great deal of outrage and energy in me.

What is different (in my case! I'm not speaking for anyone else!), however, is that I don't seek out, and in fact avoid, Sexist Outrages of the Day. It's why I stopped reading Feministing. I don't need to be reminded on a daily basis that stuff like what's discussed in the linked post occur everywhere, all the time. I'm deeply aware of this. I'm not saying that it's not important to learn about new forms of it, and things that involve timely public policy issues, but when it's mostly more examples of things I already know are happening and are huge and vital problems, specific examples of it on a daily basis just end up making me want to either drink myself to death, or shoot someone.

But I do think that the very existence of this kind of outrage of the day discussion indicates that it serves a purpose for many people. My guess is that especially for younger people, or for people new to the issues, it acts as sort of combination of reinforcement that, yes, although many others would like to pretend this stuff doesn't happen, it really does, and provides a kind of necessary energy to, well, transform one's consciousness about it. On the other hand, there's also no doubt that a certain kind of personality just likes to be outraged and I personally think that this latter thing is a bit pathological.

Also, while I recognize that bonehead's experience is valid and typical, I don't enjoy being outraged now and I've never enjoyed being outraged. I have very strong beliefs that often place me in opposition to convention, but I get no pleasure from this. I enjoy "fitting in", though rarely experience it, but for whatever reason, that enjoyment has never motivated me to alter my beliefs or even my discussion of my beliefs, at all whatsoever. The integrity of my beliefs, and that I live according to them, is absolutely paramount to me above all other considerations. I deeply mistrust others who shape their beliefs according to either the pleasures of conforming or the pleasures of noncomforming.

Mostly, the outrage I feel about the things in this world I think are deeply unjust makes me often very tired. I feel the outrage more as a kind of burden than anything else. But what am I going to do? Pretend that these things aren't true, that the injustice doesn't exist? That's wrong. When I was twenty and first became a feminist, I expected, or hoped, that by the time I was fifty that the worst forms of institutionalized misogyny would be mostly eradicated. Instead, I find I still live in a world where women who are raped are forced to defend themselves from accusations that they are responsible for it, I live in a world where at least 10% of the women live in slavery that we for some reason don't call slavery and this is mostly accepted as just the way things are.

Anyway, more generally, while I recognize that the trope that people are more likely to be liberal when they're young and then move rightward as they age has some basis in fact, it bothers me that it's often presented as normative and universal, when in fact neither of those are true. I've steadily moved leftward my entire adult life, opposite the trope. My maternal grandmother, a woman I greatly admired, similarly moved steadily leftward during her 50s through her 80s to the end of her life. She and her boyfriend once flew Goldwater in her boyfriend's jet somewhere and asked him to run for President again—but by the time of Bush I, she despised both Reagan and Bush and she voted for Clinton. She was actively curious and intellectual and erudite through the second half of her life and in my opinion her iconoclasm, particularly her political transformation, indicated an active mind that wasn't afraid to question either convention or her own biases. I hope in my next and last thirty years, I live up to her example.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 11:39 AM on January 27, 2012 [4 favorites]


Probably more important than that thought is a better understanding of nuance, and the idea that surface effects are less important than root causes. Band-aid solutions are less satisfying because I've seen them fail now. A few times in some cases. Positive change works best at the root rather than the top of the tree. Things are always more complicated than public opinion or the press makes it out to be. Understanding is hard and real change takes energy, time and patience. Protest and outrage seem the easy way out to me now.

In fact I was talking to an African midwife in her midthirties about this very thing over dinner today (she's my biz partner's wife) and saying that the clear drawn lines of black and white have fuzzed over with all shades of gray (nuance) that age brings on (with wisdom if you're open to learning and lucky enough to embrace it).

Ivan, you've written some very thoughtful things and I'm hazarding a guess that you're a white male (reason why I'm bringing this up and its a little later down in my comment) and so even more valuable that you see and feel what you do in response to the injustice in the world.

My lack of energy for the good fight isn't a case of moving rightward, {after all, what does conservative even mean in the context of Asia?} more likely in the context of who I am and who I was supposed to have been, I'm neither left nor right but halfway to Pluto.

Its just that in my teens and 20s the fight was a matter of life or death for me, more figuratively than literally although that's only because I was lucky enough to have been born in a privileged situation of an educated well off family. But now I don't need to fight to go and study science or engineering or work outside the home (the first woman in my family to do so ever) or not be married off in an arranged marriage at 21/22 or live the sheltered life of many of my female cousins. I've become me. And nothing and no one can stop me or control me in any which way.

And I'm tired, just as you are - reading your words evoked something in me - and this loss of outrage does concern me but I learnt early that activism and ranting gets you no where except labelled as an activist (Arundhati Roy for eg) or "third world woman surviving all kinds of shit so come on Oprah" which in the long run does no one good because its a pigeonhole and its own kind of dead end when it comes to making real change in the world as someone noted above (here I must mention the other downside of encroaching dementia, losing memory bits and pieces btw I'll only be 46 ;p soon)

On the other hand by never ever even noticing my gender, colour, age or whatever in terms of what I'm doing or what I've done or what I hope to do in my daily life and work, then I think that whatever I do, as long as with that integrity you mention (I really liked that paragraph of yours, its spot on btw and better capture by Shakespeare - Be true to thine ownself etc which I've held close since 17) will have far greater impact than if I were to mention or use any of these boxes or labels. Because it would be so easy to use that third world woman overcoming odds bullshit but the fact that I choose not to nor let it get in my way is my own daily commitment to whatever label the world puts on those actions.

People's liberation. Not men or women or black or white but human liberation from the shackles of labels and boxes and shoulds and coulds and whatnot.

eh.

nice. thank you for this turn in the conversation
posted by infini at 12:53 PM on January 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


I love hearing about increasingly liberal grandparents. Until recently my mom's mom was a casual Republican. Less because of any particular beliefs than because her late husband was a strong Republican and because since she came to the U.S. as a non-English-speaking teenage mother, she has always lived on military bases or in Kansas. GWB radicalized her, though. She says she considers herself a socialist now. Having been born in Munich in 1929 and having lived there through the war, she has (despite her natural cheerfulness and resilience) many dark dire thoughts about where this country appears to be headed these days. The Occupy protests have really given her hope, though.

My other grandma mostly likes to party.
posted by Adventurer at 12:57 PM on January 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Mostly, the outrage I feel about the things in this world I think are deeply unjust makes me often very tired. I feel the outrage more as a kind of burden than anything else. But what am I going to do? Pretend that these things aren't true, that the injustice doesn't exist? That's wrong. When I was twenty and first became a feminist, I expected, or hoped, that by the time I was fifty that the worst forms of institutionalized misogyny would be mostly eradicated. Instead, I find I still live in a world where women who are raped are forced to defend themselves from accusations that they are responsible for it, I live in a world where at least 10% of the women live in slavery that we for some reason don't call slavery and this is mostly accepted as just the way things are.

This overwhelmed me entirely and almost spiralled me into depression in 2006ish until I took the strategic approach of what little levers could little old me push and prod to shift the balance the other way towards fairness and justice, just a tad.

Its not fair to be judged based on things you cannot change about yourself but part of growing up is also accepting that and then working on carrying on anyway. I think real defeat isn't the detachment however its the conservation of energy and its application towards what can truly be effected towards positive change.

Also the realization that I cannot afford to think about the injustice the world metes out to the big mouthed brown woman who never learnt to bow her neck. I would be paralyzed. And/or stoned.
posted by infini at 1:00 PM on January 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think real defeat isn't the detachment however its the conservation of energy and its application towards what can truly be effected towards positive change.

Badly constructed, what I mean here is that real defeat isn't being detached but not finding ways to constructively do something about it with whatever skills or talent one was blessed with.
posted by infini at 1:02 PM on January 27, 2012


Thanks for those thoughtful and very personal comments, infini.

I didn't mean to imply that you have become more conservative as you've aged. That just seemed to strike a similar chord in me as the "less outraged as I've aged" comment. Often, the people who've become more conservative see the transition as becoming more wise in that they are more accommodated to the world the way it actually is and, crucially (and which I take great exception to) advocating for a better world is mostly foolish and naively idealistic.

There are various issues on which I'm outspoken, and work in my own way, to increase social justice; but sexism is by a very large margin the one I feel most strongly about. And that's because it is, in my view, the one in which the truth of the matter is most violently at odds with conventional views of the matter...so much so, that conventional views on the American political left are, for me, not that much of an improvement over the conventional views rightward. I use that slavery language all the time, and I'm sure that most people see it as hyperbole. I hope, though, that every now and then someone stops and thinks a little bit about it. Because imagine, for example, were people of color living in the same situation as women do in cultures/nations where they cannot leave the home without a male relative's permission or escort, where they can't own property, or get much or any education, or work in most professions, or drive cars for crying out loud. When I was college-aged, people on campuses were regularly protesting and camping out against apartheid. Now, don't get me wrong, apartheid was horrible and should be fought. But it was still better than what I describe above that a large portion of the world's women endure. And yet...no protests. No outrage.

When I really think about this, my head spins. I feel deeply, deeply alienated both from my culture and the world in which I live. To the point of despair, as you so eloquently describe you experienced yourself. I talk about things, I write about them in highly visible places like MeFi, and I hope that in various ways I'm helping. But it feels like there's so very far to go and that I am very unlikely to live long enough to see the change I'd really love to see.

And, in that context, it becomes extremely hard for me to engage in productive and calm fashion with, for example, the gentleman I'm currently arguing with in the thread in question. And that's even when I'm prepared to agree that there's some scientific basis for believing in sex behavioral/cognitive differentiation in humans! I mean, how often do we have to engage politely with people who say that obviously women necessarily have a heightened biological need to procreate and obviously have a biological regret when they fail to have done so? When that person says that all they're doing is stating "the truth", which we don't like? I've had this discussion about eight billion times so far in these last 28 years.

So it's not as if I'm unsympathetic to this poster's (the poster of the MeFi thread) outrage. And, as I've written, I don't think that it's fair or rational to assert that they necessarily have some responsibility to present their viewpoint in a way that is most likely to convert those who think differently. And, you know, what many of us are outraged about deserves outrage. All these younger people, the young people (mostly women) who post and comment on Feministing, who are deeply outraged against sexism, we need that because it's necessary for the social change that we want.

But I think outrage for its own sake is narcissistic. A lot of it, especially in the young, is mixed up with the forming of personal and social identity. And that's fine, that kind of ambiguity about motives and all that is part-and-parcel to being both human and a young adult. I do think that it can work though someone's psyche to just become a feeding of a kind of need for destruction, which I think is a common human vice and most likely related to a certain kind of despair. So, you know, outrage is not unlike fire. It's natural, it's useful, but it can be dangerous and destructive. And necessary.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 2:53 PM on January 27, 2012


But undirected outrage, that too without context , can often be counter productive.

An example that comes to mind is that of the yards of cloth one would wear in one context vs another, in order to send the appropriate signals to the entire community. I have often said that there's no point outraging to liberate women from their veils until you change the thinking and attitudes of half a billion men around them because until then you are only making them less safe. Control over their income, ability to be financially independent and being educated and less dependant are far more powerful tools imho than clothing alone. But as someone said above, these complexities rarely translate into powerful soundbites.

Re: regrets, I don't know, I've looking into this aspect myself as I have never had children and now that I most likely won't I wonder if I should have had [complicated mixture here]
posted by infini at 11:30 PM on January 27, 2012


Anyone who cares about justice should read this.

When I read this statement, back on Friday, I was sitting in Neurologist's office with my wife. We were there to see if there was a neurological component to her progressively worsening hand tremors. At the office, she wept softly, in frustration, about those tremors and others things that have been signs of her deteriorating health over the past five or six years, which lead her to having to take a medical retirement from a job she loved. It also prevents her from volunteering in the community, which leaves her feeling useless, because she would really like to help people within our town, she would like assist people in doing better, learning more and seeking justice.

So when I read this statement of yours and the entire comment and think about the post that inspired this MeTa and the bulldogness of MultiplyDrafted's doubling down comment, I just sigh, shake my head, let the ‘fuck you’ and ‘go to hell’ run riot in my head..

Because if we're at the point where any argument about tone is seen as a willful disregard of a very important message, where your ideology trumps anyone else’s reality and such views are allowed to stand on the flimsy basis of "well, the links are interesting", then there's not much to say. Perhaps a long string of obscenities questioning whether the person can pull their head out of their ass and actually communicate instead of uttering words designed to make only themselves feel good would be choice, but really what's the point? The person has already demonstrated that they're not interested in listening; only pushing,

This is Metafilter. It is a community that firmly believes in equality and justice for all and has strong feminist roots and branches. No one here needs and deserves a condescending tone about they should or should not be doing about that subject, when most of us are already on your side. Present the link without the editorializing, the community will eat it up, compliment the chef and eagerly ask for seconds.
This is a community. It’s full of people that despite the appearance have a life outside this website. For anyone to give off the impression that those things, that their life, should be put on hold for whatever cause, no matter how righteous, is arrogant, galling, insulting, narrow minded and tone deal. Knock it off.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:30 AM on January 29, 2012 [15 favorites]


Agree, Brandon. Best of luck to your family.
posted by sweetkid at 8:43 AM on January 29, 2012


Yes, great comment, Brandon, and I agree completely.

Prior to my return to MeFi, I believed it was important to push-back within MeFi threads themselves when posters do something I thought deserved it. I don't think this now because my sense is that the balance has shifted. There's too many people, with too many reasons to complain in-thread, for that to be a viable way of asserting community norms. The mods are right to insist it be done only via memail and MeTa. No matter how provoked, we ought not be complaining about the quality of posts within their threads.

I agree with you about abuses of the tone argument critique. I'm extremely ambivalent about this, because I am absolutely certain that it's true that very often the tone argument is used to silence and/or unwittingly reinforce privilege. It's a harmful tactic and it's important that it be called-out. On the other hand, I've also seen it used as a heavy club to silence all dissent. I saw one example a couple of years ago on a feminist blog (not directed against me, the discussion was a couple of weeks old at the time) that was egregious and after reading the exchanges, I had to put away the laptop I was so frustrated and sad.

It's not clear to me that there are simple or even good answers to this. I'd like to just say that the tone argument critique should be wisely and carefully wielded, but that's not likely. I can't say that it should be abandoned, because I think it's valid and important and necessary. Maybe those of us who feel this way should just try to force ourselves to always speak up when he have any doubts about whether it's being used justly. I don't know.

I've explained here and elsewhere why I think that sexism is by a large margin the most important human rights issue of our times. More important than disability issues, by the way, even though I'm disabled myself while not, as it happens, a woman.

That said, and while I respect the validity of anyone's good-faith and considered judgment about what is vitally important and deserving of attention (I respect and value public advocacy in itself, even when it's advocacy for things I disagree with), there is a point when advocacy becomes imposition. This poster, with the rhetoric and with the post being made where it was, crossed that line. But then, I think a whole hell of a lot of posts to the blue are either in the gray area or cross that line, the advance of newsfilter and advocacy posts has made MeFi a soapbox, whether or not many of us like it. And it's worth asking oneself why aggressive, insulting advocacy posts for things with which one doesn't agree should be nuked from orbit while those one finds felicitous are, at worst, not that big of a deal.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 2:21 PM on January 29, 2012


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