Bad guy is silly and bad, also stupid. August 11, 2012 4:55 AM   Subscribe

This long and discursive post has a huge amount of editorialising in it and would really be a better fit on someone's personal blog.
posted by Joe in Australia to Etiquette/Policy at 4:55 AM (43 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

I disagree. I'm glad we had this conversation.
posted by absalom at 5:05 AM on August 11, 2012 [5 favorites]

Juuuuust kidding!

But, seriously. Just flag it and move on or contact directly. Do we need to have a public outrage session every time we see a sub-par post?
posted by absalom at 5:07 AM on August 11, 2012 [2 favorites]

The subject of the post is complicated enough (and the key link convoluted enough) to practically require a long discursive post for people to make any sense of it at all.
posted by ook at 5:54 AM on August 11, 2012 [2 favorites]

The post is fine and you are still not a mod Joe. Sorry.
posted by bardic at 6:02 AM on August 11, 2012 [4 favorites]

you are still not a mod Joe. Sorry.

That was uncalled for.
posted by ook at 6:18 AM on August 11, 2012 [10 favorites]

looks good to me.
posted by clavdivs at 6:32 AM on August 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

We talked about it a little bit at the mod handoff this morning and felt like while we think it's pretty important to keep axe=grinding and editorializing down in hot button and/or political posts, telling a story in your post is not really against the rules and for the most part we felt that that's what this was. That whole mess is big news in my circles of friends and having someone lay it all out was sort of helpful. Is there a particular part you were objecting to?
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:41 AM on August 11, 2012 [5 favorites]

That was uncalled for.

I thought the apology was a nice touch.
posted by arcticseal at 6:42 AM on August 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

jessamyn: We talked about it a little bit at the mod handoff this morning...

Why doesn't NBC ever show the Mixed 4 X 100 Mod relay? Did you medal?
posted by gman at 6:48 AM on August 11, 2012 [9 favorites]

Did you medal?

You've seen the other mod teams right? restless_nomad does karate and mathowie is a bike racer. We medalled.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:11 AM on August 11, 2012 [21 favorites]

that's spelled memailed
posted by Namlit at 7:15 AM on August 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

The post is fine and you are still not a mod Joe.

posted by Tell Me No Lies at 7:21 AM on August 11, 2012 [2 favorites]

Did anyone else find that post confusing? It needed an editor. For example:
Around mid-point, Smirnoff includes, in giant font, "“Fuck you disgusting cocksuckers," a line from what is termed as a not-so-secret top-secret diary from the OA senior editor mentioned above.
The senior editor is Smirnoff, right? I would have written this as "In the middle of his not-so-secret top-secret diary, Smirnoff writes 'Fuck you disgusting cocksuckers' in a giant font." Unless I am completely misunderstanding the meaning of the sentence, this seems more clear to me.
posted by desjardins at 7:30 AM on August 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

Jessamyn: The central paragraphs retell the story given (mostly) by the NYT but in an gleeful and discursive way. It reads like a blog post giving the OP's views about the event rather than presenting an interesting link or collection of links. Reading it analytically I see that the OP uses confirmatory adjectives to describe statements by the complainant ("her corroborated reply ...") but implicitly casts doubt on Smirnoff's account ("The editor insists ... cobbled together ... loosely connected details ...").

Here's an excerpt from the NYT article where Smirnoff gives his side (and I totally acknowledge that he sounds like a trainwreck of a man):
In an interview at his home in Conway, Mr. Smirnoff said his touching of employees was always “paternalistic and nonsexual.” He assigned a benign playfulness to his behavior and said his motivation was crucial to understanding his position.

“I understand that I walk a fine line with my joking, my banter,” Mr. Smirnoff said, comparing himself to the bumbling boss played by Ricky Gervais on “The Office.” “I have made bad jokes. My intent with regards to that humor is just as important.”
Here's the way the OP summarised Smirnoff's position. He's playing it for laughs and it's quite unnecessary, given that we have the actual links:
The editor insists that this was only fun and games, that sexual banter was common between these two, and everything was all paternalistic and playful, as was his hugging of interns and kissing them on the head, he was like the boss on "The Office" and legendary for his pathetic, off-color, non-PC jokes, others could attest to that. Also he'd taken photos of interns' feet.

My view, presuming the facts are as stated, is that Smirnoff's behaviour was ghastly and he should have been fired long ago. But that's my opinion. It's not the sort of thing that belongs in a FPP.
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:32 AM on August 11, 2012 [6 favorites]

It's a fine line for sure, but I saw that post as less editorializing and more as just sort of . . . rambling, which is suboptimal but not as irritating as a straight-out "OMG THIS GUY SUCKS" kind of thing. The framing of the post did make the whole thing a lot more confusing, though. I actually thought, based on a first read and before going through the links, that the OP was in favor of Smirnoff.
posted by Frobenius Twist at 7:40 AM on August 11, 2012 [2 favorites]

The central paragraphs retell the story given (mostly) by the NYT but in an gleeful and discursive way.

It'll be a sad day when glee and discursion is chased from Metafilter, never to return.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:47 AM on August 11, 2012 [7 favorites]

It was a dark and stormy night...
posted by infini at 7:50 AM on August 11, 2012


Bardic's angling for the mythic position of MetaMod.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 7:51 AM on August 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

The subject of the post is complicated enough (and the key link convoluted enough) to practically require a long discursive post for people to make any sense of it at all.

Most of the time I agree with this, but in this case there appears to be so much giggly stuff thrown into the mix of describing what is pretty reprehensible conduct, that I think it detracts from the links and the story. While the content is fine, I'd hate to see this style of framing used again for pretty much anything on Metafilter. Which is to say that I see this less about calling out one particular post than worrying about the way stories get framed and editorialised.

Er, I hope that makes sense.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 8:00 AM on August 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

Metatalk is basically built so users who've been pushed over that threashold by something can air their concerns or complaints. Then, the real mods let them down easy while the rest of us air our complaints about their complaints in the background.

That may be somewhat close to what MetaTalk has become, but it is certainly not why it was built.

Your Friendly Longtime User MetaMod
posted by carsonb at 8:08 AM on August 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

I put a link to this post over there.
posted by zarq at 8:50 AM on August 11, 2012

I honestly assumed the post was parody/satire of the idea of editorial need.
posted by cjorgensen at 9:07 AM on August 11, 2012 [8 favorites]

That post could have been a lot shorter and tighter but I don't think the framing counts as editorializing, per se.

The saga wasn't so convoluted or hard to understand that a multiple paragraph summary of a single, linked article was required though.
posted by zarq at 9:19 AM on August 11, 2012 [3 favorites]

Then again, I'm one to talk. :D
posted by zarq at 9:20 AM on August 11, 2012

I honestly assumed the post was parody/satire of the idea of editorial need.

Me too. The typos alone...!
posted by Sys Rq at 9:38 AM on August 11, 2012

this is the sort of post I come to Metafilter for, at least its better than the usual lifted links from

An interesting behind the scenes story with multiple sources/viewpoints about an interesting publication, and minimal editorializing from the poster.
posted by C.A.S. at 10:57 AM on August 11, 2012 [3 favorites]

I enjoyed the post - it's an interesting current story. I think critiquing the writing style is a bit out of reader bounds usually, for me, and I think that's really the only thing you could fault it for. It was informative and got me to read (most of) the linked material (couldn't make it through the Smirnoff screed, just skimmed). A good post, glad it was made.
posted by Miko at 11:54 AM on August 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

Trying to boil down someone's 20,000-word rant and lots of coverage of said rant into a concise FPP is not an easy task.

I didn't see any "editorializing" in the FPP, either.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:19 PM on August 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

This entire thread was worth it for me just to hear someone describe the mods as Calm Yodas.
posted by Drumhellz at 12:23 PM on August 11, 2012

I enjoyed the post too. It wasn't perfectly written/framed, but how many posts are? This callout is unnecessary.
posted by languagehat at 12:26 PM on August 11, 2012

Oh there has been some GYOB-y editorializing lately on the blue. I am not convinced this is one of them.

They're otherwise good posts, though. Shrug.
posted by troika at 12:44 PM on August 11, 2012

"I mean, yeah we have tons of backseat mods on the site. I'd say it's likely that every long-term, active member will give it a go once or twice."

I prefer to do my modding while riding shotgun, hanging on to the oh-shit bar, and shouting, "Why are you following that troll so closely? Back off! I said back off! Jesus Christ, do you have to delete so fast? Slow down! You're going to miss the nuance! What did I just tell you? You completely missed the nuance and now we're going to have to turn this forum around! You should have just let me mod!"

(Seriously, though, I had some trouble following the post, but I didn't think it was out of line. Maybe if I'd been aware of the situation beforehand I would have noticed editorializing, but since I was trying to figure out what the situation was I didn't really notice.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 1:08 PM on August 11, 2012 [4 favorites]

Hmmm, I'm not het up about it or anything, but I found the FPP somewhat incoherent and its weirdly juvenile tone definitely jarring. I'm not saying every post should be the same but it certainly stood out for me as being outside the median of what's typically allowed to fly.
posted by smoke at 3:09 PM on August 11, 2012 [5 favorites]

Frankly, I think the place could use more glee.
posted by tommasz at 3:49 PM on August 11, 2012

I'm a longtime member, not some top-secret person sent in by a dark, gleeful corner of the publishing or lit industry or whatever to cause trouble about the situation, so someone could've just e-mailed me about this, I suppose. But I am a person who knows this is a big, big story in certain circles and maybe it helps/hurts that I grew up in Mississippi and went to college in Oxford in the late 1980s, so I've kept up with this magazine's story. (I did submit something early, early on but had NO expectation of anything, didn't get a yes, but it was entirely too long ago to care). I always bought at least the Southern Music issue, and thought they'd gotten better with that (shorter features! more music! state-themed!) over the past couple of issues, ate all that up, gleefully. I'd liked the past few issues that I'd seen, regardless, and thought the "Garden & Gun" takedown was hilarious and mostly true, if trivial in many respects. I went around quoting one or two lines in it. (OTOH, I love the photos in G&G for what they are are, personally. The editor hated them, but I respected his aesthetic reasons for the hatred.)

The "senior editor" thing ... feel free to fix that. I realized that could be confusing later, but there's no way to edit things on my end. And I didn't realize that I was writing for publication here! What I was trying to do was NOT to retell the New York Times story, but to tell the story as it comes from the Times, the Arkansas Times (which had it first), blogs and most importantly the central link in the FPP. I'd stayed up reading about this, tried to figure out what was going on a bit in that piece, in an impartial way (as in, I've worked in plenty of offices, including campus ones, where un-PC, but non-hostile, racial and sexually-oriented humor was the norm.). So I thought I was presenting that in a non-judgemental way here. Putting all of that out there is not going to help him, of course, but why do I need to say so?

As for this sounding bloggy? Metafitler is a group blog, not the New York Times (which wasn't my sole or even the most important source for this). I could've spent more time tightening this up, I suppose, but I just wanted to get something out there. It's an interesting story and a big one in certain circles, definitely. And yeah, I was trying to give the background on the central link, not the frickin' Times, which was really late to the story (as was I---had only been told about it by someone I know who works at a magazine, who didn't refer me to the NYT story but "Editors in Love" instead; I found the NY Times piece on my own), but the Arkansas Times, etc. The link re the apparently-taken-down McSweeny's link was, I thought, the most revealing, but maybe that's just me.
posted by raysmj at 5:36 PM on August 11, 2012 [3 favorites]

Discovering that some people from the Deep (and Gulf) South who know at the least the female half of the Editors in Love couple, by the way made me do a double-take on some aspects of this story, by the way, before I posted this. But yes, he comes off sounding like a person in need of treatment, also a person who should never be allowed to be a supervisor for the rest of his life. I did find it incredible that he admitted to saying any of that stuff, tried hard to understand why, especially given the constant stressing of sexual harassment policy on American college campuses. Honesty is the best policy? So, so weird. If I were writing a story on this, I would throw up my hands in trying to explain motivation, etc., after a while, just let the absurdity and stupidity speak for itself.
posted by raysmj at 5:54 PM on August 11, 2012

Oh, also: I know that the Southern Music issue is favorite of many people I know, and is an issue that the the OA's won a National Magazine Award for. It's also been posted about at MeFi before, as could be seen by clicking on the "oxfordamerican" tag. So I thought it helpful to tack that bit on regarding how the issue will be going ahead, despite the turmoil.
posted by raysmj at 6:23 PM on August 11, 2012

Metafitler: I should really type with my new Mr. Magoo-oriented progressive lenses on.
posted by raysmj at 6:29 PM on August 11, 2012

(Oh, and one final point: Smirnoff wasn't the only one fired. Fitzgerald, his girlfriend and OA's then-managing editor, was as well. And it's clear in going through the editors' website, but NOT the NY Times or any other piece--which by and large focuses only on Smirnoff--that she was engaged in sexual banter with the lower-ranking senior editor and vice versa, all the time. None of that is addressed in the Times article. What I didn't find was the lower-ranking, senior editor's side of the story, and that may never come out. You do, however, have the McSweeny's columnist and OA intern alluding to the social atmosphere of the magazine, as an organization.)
posted by raysmj at 6:55 PM on August 11, 2012

desjardins: "The senior editor is Smirnoff, right?"

Nope. I just made the mistake of reading some of that website (which was a good reminder to stop reading the blue), and the "senior editor" referred to is Wes Enzinna, not Smirnoff.
posted by Grither at 5:54 AM on August 13, 2012

Wes Enzinna = the guy referred to here: "including texts from a senior editor who is still at the OA"
posted by Grither at 5:58 AM on August 13, 2012

nbfd, imho, fwiw--obviously, ymmv
posted by y2karl at 10:03 AM on August 13, 2012

Yes, he was the senior editor. Said as much in that last post of mine in this thread. What I thought was confusing later was, yes, was that it seemed as I were referring to Smirnoff. But one always could've looked up "senior editor' on the main link, instead of just the Times. Remind me to bury a NYT link next time, even if it's not the main/central link. (And, fwiw, the former chief editor is now charging the NYT with libel, via Editors in Love.)
posted by raysmj at 7:23 PM on August 13, 2012

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