Too many newsfilter FPPs don't make for a good front page May 2, 2002 11:56 PM   Subscribe

I’m really confused. This happens often so do try to help me out. The guidelines describe a good post as a web page that most people haven’t seen which contains interesting content and might warrant discussion. Does a story that ran in a few national newspapers and recieved play on several news networks fit that criteria? Remote Rats, The Clinton Show, Powell Peace Conference, the missing Florida girl and two Massaoui stories can't seem to be defined — according to the guidelines — as a good post. So why are there so many?
posted by raaka to Etiquette/Policy at 11:56 PM (19 comments total)

The guidelines' wording is a bit behind the actual evolution of the site itself. That's my simple answer.
Unfortunately, the rest of the stuff I want to say about this isn't fitting into words properly at the moment.
posted by Su at 12:06 AM on May 3, 2002

Yeah, from looking at the majority of posts, you'd think the guidelines went out of their way to ask posters to choose stories most people were familiar with.

The tragedy, of course, is that there's a hell of a lot of interesting stuff out there, easily found with a minimum of effort. While there's a case to be made for the angle "What does the MetaFilter community say about[insert well known story]?"; I still think Matt's original idea("What interesting stuff did the MetaFilter community dig up today?")is much, much, but much better.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 1:04 AM on May 3, 2002

su, doesn't that suggest that, unless we hear otherwise, the site is evolving in a way contrary to the only rules we've been given here? that doesn't seem like something to just kind of shrug off to me.

i personally don't like all the news links because the discussions are SO repetitive and the links are never very special. i wish the same guidelines did apply to news links the same way they do every link: post especially good articles that will provoke good discussion, don't just alert us of a development. make it something distinctive, something we might not have seen or heard somewhere else. an unusual perspective or an especially clear and well-written article.

i think there are so many of these posts because we've fallen into a lazy posting rut in a lot of ways (disclaimer that i don't post much). things that are newsworthy are replacing things that are thoughtworthy.

just because people are making more and more of these posts doesn't mean the site has to become that sort of an outlet. i think a quick email to the poster (not a metatalk bonanza) just asking what was special about that link and a polite request to examine the link more closely would suffice.

i'm just really tired of the discussion that comes from posts with only events and ideology as subjects for response. there's nothing terribly concrete to discuss in most cases, and it's just the same people floundering around yelling at each other.
posted by pikachulolita at 1:20 AM on May 3, 2002

i think a quick email to the poster (not a metatalk bonanza) just asking what was special about that link and a polite request to examine the link more closely would suffice.

I have to disagree with you pikachulolita. And believe me, I would love to agree with you on this point.

First, let's throw out all the "ideology", current event, CNN posters. Think of a knife grinder with the MeFi posters as the metal blade sparking against the spinning stone. Think of the blade as a ceremonial knife that will never cut anything, it will just sit on the wall and look pretty. All this ideological talk accomplishes nothing save for making persons in the middle less sympathetic to their cause because we tire of being told what is the right way to think. I think the recent commentary by Megnut was 5 by 5.

Related are those persons who (in the posting world) need to hear their own voices. In the simplest form, these are the persons who employ words like "natch" or "word" in their posts. Not satisfied enough to see that their ideas are being expressed by someone else, they have to pull a posting Arnold Horshack, bellowing out "oooh, oooh...look at me".

Finally, there are the people who cannot take the time to actually research an item that interests them and may be of interest to others. Instead, they reload their news pages like an autistic kid spinning a bowl then bluting out any change on the page, regardless of its propriety or credibility. For them, it is less about the issue that they are promoting, and more about their idiosyncrasy in being part of the issue or topic. Once again, think Horshack.

Sending an email to this type of poster (either the respondent or the original poster) is almost pointless as their effort is less about the effect of the post than the fact that they got a rise out of the MeFi respondents. In fact, the act of sending an email probably does more to further this behavior as it validates them and their post, in their minds.

posted by lampshade at 2:41 AM on May 3, 2002

Yet another news story offender...

raaka, why would a news story not fit those criteria?

  • webpage - check
  • few seen - possible but unverifiable (even for non-news), so half check
  • interesting content - check
  • warrants discussion - check

    A virtually automatic 3.5 out of 4, and a much better score than many of the "non-news" posts.

  • posted by mischief at 3:42 AM on May 3, 2002

    That's it. Matt's gotta go.

    Pikachu: I'm not shrugging the issue off. I said it was my simple answer; a quick rundown of how I see it. The main thing is that there are very few rules here, most of them are unwritten(I'll get to those written ones in a sec), and most of them are very broad, so as to allow for a great amount of freedom. It's just the way Matt generally runs the place. I actually recall some general resistance to formalizing the "rules" on a page, because it just provides more scripture for people to point at when they see something wrong.

    The problem with the initial question posed here is that there's no allowance for middle ground. Yeah, those guidelines make for good posts. There's also a list on the same page of what makes a bad post. But: There are also a lot—more than either of those—of just plain posts. Maybe everybody's seen that news story, but it makes for great discussion. Some posts elicit little more than some people commenting to the effect of, "Neat!" in various combinations of words, but little actual discussion. And that's fine, too. Sometimes a totally crap post has been saved by great discussion.
    posted by Su at 4:20 AM on May 3, 2002

    I don't love seeing NYT links and cnn links every single day on MetaFilter either; I watch news on TV and read a newspaper, and by the time I get to MetaFilter I know about a good deal of the news stories being presented here as interesting links. They aren't (to me), but people keep posting them and other people keep responding to them - some people use this site as their NewsFilter too, apparently. But I deal - there are lots of other good posts.

    Really, there have been a lot of really good posts lately. And it's funny, I had never clicked on those "metafilter one year ago today" and metafilter two years ago today" links in the sidebar before, but I have a few times this week, and surprisingly, MetaFilter hasn't really changed all that much. A lot less links and replies in threads, to be sure, but the overall quality is really not all that different. A pleasant surprise!

    Me, I have a problem with the way Fridays have turned into "let's dump silly games and inane flash crap into MetaFilter because it's Friday" day. And when people post the inane flash crap on other days now, they mention that they know it isn't Friday yet. So it's been pretty much accepted across the board that one day out of the seven every week, MetaFilter is pretty much a waste of time for anyone who doesn't want to blow people up or help the rabbit find the carrot or watch disembodied, badly cropped heads dance around the page - this kind of hackneyed over-the-top flash crap reached its pinnacle with All Your Base Are Belong To Us (really, that was cute as hell at the time) and it's been downhill ever since. I don't think I've ever seen anyone else mention The Friday Phenom so maybe I'm the only one who dreads it.

    I have to say though, today (Friday) looks promising so far. Sorry for the novella here. I need to take minimalist lessons from moz.
    posted by iconomy at 6:17 AM on May 3, 2002 sigh.
    posted by jpoulos at 6:39 AM on May 3, 2002

    I really have noticed that half of the front page posts are also on slashdot and on my moreover feed. I thought that "original" posts needed to be ones the main page? I also think a lot of people post the daily highlights of Drudge.

    I know I haven't been on here for long, but I feel that a lot of the people have never looked at the first "rule" of posting on on MeFi:
    "A good post to MetaFilter is something that meets the following criteria: most people haven't seen it before, there is something interesting about the content on the page, and it might warrant discussion from others."

    posted by mkelley at 6:41 AM on May 3, 2002

    icononomy : Tangentially, and for what it's worth : I come damn near to worshipping really good photoshopping/image remixing, and have hung around in the SA forums (from whence most of the images in the AYB flash movie originated) almost as long as I have here at MeFi, albeit as a total lurker, and I gotta say that a well-crafted image stays with me a lot longer than a well-turned phrase.

    Uh, but yeah, what you said about that other stuff.
    posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:43 AM on May 3, 2002

    As a long time lurker and sometimes poster, I think part of the increase in headline news posts (which to me are a seperate thing from the more obscure or the Sci/Tech news items) is the fact that those threads, almost without exception, draw the most comments. It seems to me that to just about any casual observer (or new person) the fact that the threads that get the most "encouragement" (i.e. discussion) are almost always headline news posts, therefore they must represent the topics that the has the most interest in and values the most.

    If the goal of MeFi is to foster discussion among its members (as Matt says it is), then the headline news posts meet the goal.

    Which isn't to say that I think this is the way it ought to be, but I do think that its the way that it is. (If you follow that.) I do think its interesting that many of the posts that get the most comments (i.e. foster the most discussion among the members) are often from mainstream news sources, but are also actually fairly obscure as "news" goes (take yesterday's chicken/egg thread as an example).

    On preview I find that I, too, I need to take minimalist lessons so I'll quit with only one more thought ... perhaps the best way to discourage these threads is to refrain from commenting in them.

    posted by anastasiav at 6:53 AM on May 3, 2002

    That Spider-Man post may be weak, jpoulos, but you can't deny that there's a buzz around that flick, particularly for the general age and background of the majority of Metafilter people. Discussion was inevitable.
    posted by dong_resin at 6:56 AM on May 3, 2002

    My Stavro-sense is tingling, and intuits that Meta-spidey jabber is here...
    posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:00 AM on May 3, 2002

    The tragedy, of course, is that there's a hell of a lot of interesting stuff out there, easily found with a minimum of effort.

    ::: wipes a tear from his eye :::

    Me, I have a problem with the way Fridays have turned into "let's dump silly games and inane flash crap into MetaFilter because it's Friday" day.

    BRAVO, iconomy!! Someone had to say it.
    posted by rushmc at 7:41 AM on May 3, 2002

    Fridays have turned into "let's dump silly games and inane flash crap into MetaFilter because it's Friday" day.
    word, natch!
    posted by quonsar at 7:47 AM on May 3, 2002

    This is sort of what i was talking about last week when reflecting on how the front page seemed to be turning into a reflection of Blogdex. It seems like there's a vicious circle here where various people scan the front page (or not) of Metafilter and then scan the Blogdex front page. (or daypop, or whatever). If there is something on the latter that is not on the former. Blammo! Instant front page thread.

    However, how can you stop evolution? I don't mean progress in this case, but rather the perception of Metafilter as a community to discuss the latest current events. Trying to single out and e-mail every "offender" in a community of thousands is a thankless job and most likely an impossible one.
    posted by jeremias at 8:01 AM on May 3, 2002

    now Spiderman stealing the orloff diamond? that would be a great front page story
    posted by clavdivs at 9:15 AM on May 3, 2002

    so, i guess i'm one of the offending parties for posting the clinton show thing (please excuse me as it was my first front page post.......i've been lurking for some time but didn't sign up until recently). i really don't mean for this to be snarky or anything, but sometimes it seems like people spend a lot more time complaining about the quality and/or metafilter-worthiness of posts and comments than they do actually posting "quality" stuff. if all of these posts are "wrong" for metafilter (in regard to the guidelines) why hasn't matt stopped it, or has he commented on it and i simply didn't see it.
    posted by m@L at 9:32 AM on May 3, 2002

    Funny you should ask, M@l. He has commented on this twice today, already.
    And you don't offend me. But I don't know who the hell you are, either. Welcome! The punch table's over there.

    Also, what Iconomy said about Friday Flash crap. I want Flash crap everyday, damnit. Though I'd much prefer Flash coolness. Just because it's so hard to find.
    posted by Su at 10:38 AM on May 3, 2002

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