Comment fiction February 8, 2012 12:34 PM   Subscribe

Is there much in the way of comment fiction? Has anyone collected it? Thinking about things like this.
posted by curious nu to MetaFilter-Related at 12:34 PM (86 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite

There is an entire wikipedia page dedicated to this w/ links to good posts. I'm a little swamped or I'd go dig it out but I'm sure someone can!
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 12:36 PM on February 8, 2012


Comment fables!
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:37 PM on February 8, 2012


There is a comment fables page on the wiki. I encourage peope to add to it. Looks like the last update was in October.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:37 PM on February 8, 2012


Awesome, thanks.
posted by curious nu at 12:38 PM on February 8, 2012


My personal favorite off the top of my head: THE WHEEL
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 12:47 PM on February 8, 2012 [7 favorites]


Some of us don't like those things, because we think they discourage interaction between members in comments, turn MetaFilter threads into someone else's personal 'blog, and generally come across as grandstanding.

We're usually outvoted, though.
posted by Curious Artificer at 12:55 PM on February 8, 2012 [7 favorites]


What CA said, plus a large dose of "Can you top this? aka Topper!
posted by Lynsey at 12:58 PM on February 8, 2012


I feel like I've probably done this at some point but damned if I can remember when.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:00 PM on February 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


What a strange and uncharitable attitude, CA/Lyn!
posted by kavasa at 1:05 PM on February 8, 2012


Who was it that told the story of how they met the tater's lady, and then fresh-prince-rolled us at the end? That bastard.
posted by Think_Long at 1:09 PM on February 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I understand the concern for one-upping in terms of ridiculous stories, but has that ever happened? Writing stories takes effort, and we have a pretty high standard for good stories, both real and imaginary.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:28 PM on February 8, 2012


"Can you top this? aka Topper!

That's nothing! I once had a kidney stone that tried to pass as Scott Adams.
posted by octobersurprise at 1:29 PM on February 8, 2012 [6 favorites]


Who was it that told the story of how they met the tater's lady, and then fresh-prince-rolled us at the end? That bastard.

Are you kidding that guy deserves a pizza trophy
posted by shakespeherian at 1:30 PM on February 8, 2012 [6 favorites]


you would say that shakes, you would
posted by The Whelk at 1:32 PM on February 8, 2012


oh that was you. for fuck's sake all over again.
posted by Think_Long at 1:33 PM on February 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


also, wait, a trophy containing pizza, in the shape of a pizza, or MADE of pizza?

This is important.
posted by The Whelk at 1:33 PM on February 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


That apocalypse pepper story is great. Plenty of people have a bunch of polished personal anecdotes they can pull out, and they are funny and all, but that pepper story is really on another level.
posted by Ad hominem at 1:33 PM on February 8, 2012


Are you kidding that guy deserves a pizza trophy

Is that what you guys use pizzas for in Chicago? I knew you weren't actually eating them.
posted by griphus at 1:35 PM on February 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


I thought it was used as a crude form of insulation myself.
posted by The Whelk at 1:37 PM on February 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


they discourage interaction between members in comments, turn MetaFilter threads into someone else's personal 'blog, and generally come across as grandstanding

I went to the Comment Fables page on the Wiki and clicked on a dozen random links. Not one of the linked comments was the last in a thread, and only two were even in the bottom third of the thread. If the comment fables discouraged interaction between members, there was no evidence of it, and ditto with the personal blog aspect.

As for grandstanding, I find that a curious position given how proud we generally are of the quality around here. Because the same could basically be said of anyone who dares to write, link fpps, or in any way participate in an especially noteworthy fashion. The unofficial mottos here are "best of the web" and "cool things on the web." Not "average of the web," and "nothing too cool now, wouldn't want to show anybody up."
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:38 PM on February 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


There are whole threads of that kind of thing, where even fictional/real people drop in.
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 1:39 PM on February 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


There are whole threads of that kind of thing, where even fictional/real people drop in.

Oh god that FPP was the most fun I'd had on MetaFilter since that time we started playing D&D in-thread.
posted by griphus at 1:43 PM on February 8, 2012


there was a text adventure thread as well, don't have the link though.
posted by Ad hominem at 1:46 PM on February 8, 2012


I went to the Comment Fables page on the Wiki and clicked on a dozen random links. ... and ditto with the personal blog aspect

That's your view, but this isn't something that can be objectively proven or disproven. Other people might look at the same comments you looked at and say, "See, look, this person is using Metafilter as a personal blog."
posted by John Cohen at 1:46 PM on February 8, 2012


Man, I had forgotten how awesome that thread Philosopher Dirtbike linked to was. We need another thread like that soon.
posted by jbickers at 1:50 PM on February 8, 2012


Text adventure thread
posted by shakespeherian at 1:53 PM on February 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I thought shakespeherian's Bel Airing was fun, but a more little slapsticky than it needed to be. I much preferred his matter-of-fact opacity three comments down from this one, which made my heart grow three sizes.
posted by Greg Nog at 1:53 PM on February 8, 2012


Text adventure thread

oh god what was I on
posted by The Whelk at 1:57 PM on February 8, 2012


I love the metatalk one where someone had asked for a AskMe question queue, and a commenter imagined a future where civilization had collapsed, but a lone server was still dutifully loading questions from the queue. Can't find it though.
posted by lunasol at 2:15 PM on February 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


The End of AskMe
posted by Navelgazer at 2:18 PM on February 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


The End of AskMe

That's my favourite example of this kind of thing.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 2:25 PM on February 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


That's your view, but this isn't something that can be objectively proven or disproven. Other people might look at the same comments you looked at and say, "See, look, this person is using Metafilter as a personal blog."

That's my analysis of the evidence I sampled, not a statement of my preference. The claim was that comment fables "discourage interaction between members in comments," and "turn MetaFilter threads into someone else's personal 'blog." My methodology was to look at a random sampling of a dozen such threads, and determine the following:

1) If the comment fables occurred in the bottom third of a thread, thus perhaps showing some evidence of "discouraging interaction;"
2) Or if the authors of the comment fables were commenting at a noticeably higher rate in the rest of thread, thus showing some evidence of turning the threads in question into their personal blogs.

I didn't find consistant evidence to support either claim. In most of the threads I clicked on, the comment fables were a small part of larger threads, with many other MeFites participating. Now this might not be sufficient objective "proof" for you, and certainly other people can look at the same comments and say whatever they want about them. I'm just saying that a cursory examination fails to find any supporting evidence for the claim.

As to my personal view, my personal view is that when one likes or doesn't like something, I prefer that they simply say as much in pretty much that way, rather than making unsupported claims about how what they like or don't like is good for or bad for the community at large in some nebulous way that isn't something that can be objectively proven or disproven.

But I won't get my way, either.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:27 PM on February 8, 2012 [5 favorites]


Some of us don't like those things, because we think they discourage interaction between members in comments, turn MetaFilter threads into someone else's personal 'blog, and generally come across as grandstanding.

We're usually outvoted, though.


I agree with this. I don't like it.
posted by sweetkid at 2:29 PM on February 8, 2012


I've done this kind of thing a couple of times, in a slight way (The MeFi Australian shift and the secret life of Mathowie). I must have been in a whimsical mood.

I am nothing but a mote before the talents of the Whelk and Ian A.T, and the like.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 2:38 PM on February 8, 2012


I told a long joke once.
posted by kenko at 2:39 PM on February 8, 2012


IRFH, my comments were not claims that can or cannot be objectively "proven", they were simply reasons I don't like people using MetaFilter threads to write comment fables in. By their very nature as stand-alone stories, they discourage interaction. Since they don't have anything to do with the thread they are in, they are serving as someone's personal blog entry. As for my use of "grandstanding", would you have preferred I stuck with my initial phrasing of "overblown wankery"? I was trying to be nice, here!
posted by Curious Artificer at 2:47 PM on February 8, 2012


In the future the long form comment will be recognized as a distinct artform. We are widnessing something akin to the first few primative people painting on cave Walls.

One day a robotic alien archaeologist will pull a badly damaged holo-storage device from the wreckage of a freighter from eath-that-was. That holo-storage device will contain, among other things, an early retelling of "The Wheel", one of the earliest known examples of the human artform known as the comment.

We are witnessing history people.
posted by Ad hominem at 2:58 PM on February 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Thanks all for the kind words about The Wheel. Been having a shit day and they really help take the edge off.

Well, that and the rum.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 3:10 PM on February 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


Some of us don't like those things, because we think they discourage interaction between members in comments, turn MetaFilter threads into someone else's personal 'blog, and generally come across as grandstanding.

I agree with all of this.
posted by nathancaswell at 3:12 PM on February 8, 2012


Thanks all for the kind words about The Wheel. Been having a shit day and they really help take the edge off.

For my part, I think it's brilliant. As are you.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 3:18 PM on February 8, 2012


As far as "discouraging site interaction", I'm pretty sure that comments from members who speak about their opinions about as The Way Things Should Be, and ascribe loaded terms to violators of The Way. have done far more to discourage people from commenting than the occasional comment fable, just by sheer number of times each has happened. But this probably can't be objectively proven either.

Like all things you don't like, it's pretty easy to ignore. And if it was taking over the place like kudzu, I would get the point of bringing it up as an issue. But it's not.

Now let me tell you about this time I lost a plate of beans in some kudzu...

[spoiler alert: you won't care]
posted by MCMikeNamara at 3:19 PM on February 8, 2012


1) If the comment fables occurred in the bottom third of a thread, thus perhaps showing some evidence of "discouraging interaction;"
2) Or if the authors of the comment fables were commenting at a noticeably higher rate in the rest of thread, thus showing some evidence of turning the threads in question into their personal blogs.


Why would those things need to be true to prove Curious Artificer wrong? You can post a deraily comment early in the thread and easily discourage interaction that way. As a matter of fact, it happens all the time.
As far as #2 is concerned, GYOFB is also a very common thing. Enough for it to have its own acronym.

I don't think those comments are that bad, and I like seeing stuff like that. But if they ever did become a problem for derailing posts, then I would have a different opinion.
posted by P.o.B. at 3:27 PM on February 8, 2012


Who was it that told the story of how they met the tater's lady, and then fresh-prince-rolled us at the end? That bastard.

Oh my god, this is the greatest thing I have ever read.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 3:51 PM on February 8, 2012


That I'm a bastard?
posted by shakespeherian at 4:26 PM on February 8, 2012


Is that news?
posted by P.o.B. at 4:29 PM on February 8, 2012


Not around my house.
posted by shakespeherian at 4:30 PM on February 8, 2012


Why would those things need to be true to prove Curious Artificer wrong?

They wouldn't. I was trying to find evidence to support his claim, not to refute it. In other words, if comment fables could be shown to frequently close out threads, this would provide a strong correlation between comment fables and reduced user interaction. That wouldn't prove anything, but it could be considered supporting evidence. Not finding such supporting evidence doesn't refute the argument, either. It just fails to provide supporting evidence for interpretation.

By their very nature as stand-alone stories, they discourage interaction. Since they don't have anything to do with the thread they are in, they are serving as someone's personal blog entry.

I just clicked around again. A dozen comment fables, randomly selected. Out of the dozen, only two were off subject - and neither of those two comments were still on the site (the links actually went to the author's personal blog, because the comments had been deleted, because they broke the guidelines).

Curious Artificer - I get what you're saying, and I even understand why it might feel like comment fables don't belong. And you did say that you "think" they reduce user interaction, etc., not that you could prove it. My effort - purely out of curiosity, ironically - was simply to look into that assumption. And I simply couldn't find evidence to support any of your reasons. Doesn't mean those reasons are wrong, or that you're wrong to feel this way, just that I couldn't find any evidence to support them.

As for "grandstanding," it's definitely more polite than "overblown wankery." Not sure if it's really nicer, but either way, I don't really have an argument on that front, because that's a purely subjective statement.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:35 PM on February 8, 2012


Do you need a formal definition for a derail? What exactly needs to be proved? The only thing that makes it problematic is context and timing. If someone asks about that one game they're looking around for and then the next comment is a long fictional story about rock-climbing that includes a link to QWOP; what would that prove? Right, nothing. It's far more contextual than a couple of rules could prove or disprove.
posted by P.o.B. at 4:49 PM on February 8, 2012


Yes, I know. QWOP is the running game and not its sequel, but ya know... no editing.
posted by P.o.B. at 4:52 PM on February 8, 2012


I like how I asked a question, got an answer, a couple of comments later someone complained about the subject, and now there appears to be a derailed discussion about how these bits of micro-fiction may or may not, hypothetically, derail discussions.

Meta indeed!
posted by curious nu at 5:20 PM on February 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


Do you need a formal definition for a derail? What exactly needs to be proved? The only thing that makes it problematic is context and timing.

My method doesn't prove one way or another whether comment fables are derails in some broader sense. Doesn't say anything about whether they are good or bad. I'm saying that I looked, and so far as I can tell, the statement "they don't have anything to do with the thread they are in," is falsifiable in my random sampling. Of the comment fables I clicked on that were not deleted, every one of them had something to do with the threads they were in.

How good a match were they? That's subjective, and unless we then compared them to all of the other comments in the threads, it's hard to make any kind of judgement there (even if comment fables aren't the best subject match, that doesn't mean they are less on-topic than the average comment).

Was the timing problematic? All I can measure is that on balance, threads with comment fables in them appear to continue on for some time after the comments in question, so I can't find any evidence to support subjective feelings that they are problematic in the same way that we normally mean by "derail."

There is certainly anecdotal evidence here that some people like these kinds of comments while other people find them disruptive, but I don't really have any way to know from the evidence on hand if one view is more prevalent than the other.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:21 PM on February 8, 2012


I feel safe the mods keep an eye derails.
posted by P.o.B. at 5:38 PM on February 8, 2012


By the way - since it may not be obvious, I want to point out that the reason I'm over-analyzing this to the extent that I am is that I've heard this said often enough before (that comment fables and whimsical departures are detrimental to threads) that I wondered if there was really any evidence of that, aside from anecdata. And because I'm something of a data nerd, I went looking. Because I really didn't know what I would find. What I found was that I couldn't find any evidence beyond anecdata to support any position on the subject.

My personal takeaway from that is that comment fables will continue to annoy the hell out of some people and make other people's days, but I think if they were really a problem for the site in general, there would be a pattern somewhere to show it. Of course I may well be looking in the wrong places.

Meanwhile, as P.o.B. says: I feel safe the mods keep an eye on derails.

And to those who find my personal brand of participation tiresome, I am truly sorry. I do try to listen and learn.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:49 PM on February 8, 2012


But have you read the comment immediately below this one? Man, what will that person be on?
posted by George_Spiggott at 5:50 PM on February 8, 2012


Are you talking to me?
posted by nobody at 5:53 PM on February 8, 2012


now there appears to be a derailed discussion about how these bits of micro-fiction may or may not, hypothetically, derail discussions.

Metafilter: discussion of things that derail discussions derails discussion. Also, beans.
posted by killdevil at 6:10 PM on February 8, 2012


maybe we can talk about derail in easier to understand terms, like some kind of long-form metaphor or allegory or something.....
posted by The Whelk at 6:31 PM on February 8, 2012


Excuse me. I'm trying to have a conversation with nobody.
posted by P.o.B. at 6:33 PM on February 8, 2012


I worked pretty hard on this and have been bitter and disillusioned ever since it went largely unnoticed.
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:35 PM on February 8, 2012


that reminds me of a multiparagraph personal anecdote....
posted by The Whelk at 6:41 PM on February 8, 2012


Does it include ponies?
posted by P.o.B. at 6:47 PM on February 8, 2012


Seriously, being told what kind of coments not to make discourages me from participating more than seeing a random-ish long-form comment mid-thread.

If it bugs you, there are keyboard shortcuts for page down. I personally love the spontaneous upwelling of creative writing that results in these little missives. I think a lot of people have poured some really great creative content into the comments section of this site, and I want more of it, myself.
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:55 PM on February 8, 2012 [5 favorites]


I'm still blown away that my comment fable called an entirely new Mefite into existence.
posted by googly at 7:23 PM on February 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I love these comments and am frequently in awe of how talented some of you are. RIB, loved the Wheel, missed it when it was posted.
posted by arcticseal at 7:24 PM on February 8, 2012


robocop is bleeding: "Thanks all for the kind words about The Wheel. Been having a shit day and they really help take the edge off. "

The Wheel is just legendary.
posted by SisterHavana at 7:41 PM on February 8, 2012


Some of us don't like those things

I must have been in a whimsical mood.


Compare and contrast, people. Some people? They tell funny stories that others refer back to over the years, bringing back positive memories, bringing light to otherwise dark, rummy days.

Other people? They're against whimsy.
posted by Ghidorah at 7:51 PM on February 8, 2012


The perils of computer repair spawned this one.
posted by Sebmojo at 7:52 PM on February 8, 2012


There was one about being uncontrollably into cuckholding and losing your wife over it, wasn't there?
posted by ifjuly at 8:02 PM on February 8, 2012


That was, I'm pretty sure, just an AskMe question.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:21 PM on February 8, 2012


This one isn't fiction (as far as I know), but I thought it was like the perfect little short story in comment form.
posted by lollusc at 8:37 PM on February 8, 2012


Re: my dimly recalled cuckhold story, I found it!
posted by ifjuly at 5:11 AM on February 9, 2012


I once wrote of a fictional Metafilter brawl, in verse form.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:08 PM on February 9, 2012


that has yet to be set to music in a plucky spoken word form
posted by The Whelk at 5:12 PM on February 9, 2012


True, Whelk, although it does appear without music in a plucky spoken word form...
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:07 PM on February 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


HOW DID I MISS THAT?
posted by The Whelk at 6:12 PM on February 9, 2012


Hey, it's simply not possible to keep up with everything!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:26 PM on February 9, 2012


As I read that (the brawl), I reflexively tried to fit it to this old thing. Seemed to work okay.
posted by curious nu at 8:43 PM on February 9, 2012


There are whole threads of that kind of thing, where even fictional/real people drop in.

My favorite fictional-real person appearance.
posted by psoas at 10:29 AM on February 10, 2012


George Clooney account disabled whaaaaa?
posted by The Whelk at 10:35 AM on February 10, 2012


He decided what he really wanted to do was direct.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:00 AM on February 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


George? George?

So it's a fight you want, eh?
posted by "Doctor" Terence Malick at 11:03 AM on February 10, 2012


And down the rabbit hole we go.
posted by psoas at 11:59 AM on February 10, 2012


Ms. Hilton to the brown thread.
posted by The Whelk at 11:59 AM on February 10, 2012


A few people liked this thing.
posted by Splunge at 1:51 PM on February 11, 2012


Eight people liked this thing.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:47 PM on February 11, 2012


No time to search now, but the oeuvre of the late tkchrist had some allegedly non-fictional but well-told gems.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 8:17 PM on February 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


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