I bet this goes well August 29, 2012 6:11 PM   Subscribe

MetaFilter is not a betting site.

It may be confirmation bias, but I feel as though I've noticed an uptick in people showing how "serious" they are by offering bets in comments. (Here it is most recently in the Bain Capital thread, where klangklangston just suggested they set up an escrow account.) Among the many sins of the Assange thread was a weird derail over whether or not people who wouldn't accept localroger's proposed wager really believed the things they were saying. As Bulgaroktonos put it in that thread:
This might be more MetaTalk territory, but goading people into placing bets as a way to determine if they're sincere in their positions is not really meaningful or useful conversation.
For now this is still just silly macho posturing, bordering on a bullying tactic -- but it's not a good trend for conversation on the site, especially if side action starts amping up the intensity of grudges and feuds.
posted by gerryblog to Etiquette/Policy at 6:11 PM (71 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

I bet you're going to get a lot of argument over this.
posted by HuronBob at 6:13 PM on August 29, 2012 [6 favorites]


I bet someone points out I already made that joke in the title.
posted by gerryblog at 6:14 PM on August 29, 2012 [13 favorites]


gerryblog already made that joke in the title. Show the man what he's won!
posted by gman at 6:16 PM on August 29, 2012 [5 favorites]


I'm really starting to get the feeling that, after that recent 48 hour period with no MetaTalk posts, people decided that we needed to make up for lost time or something.
posted by Egg Shen at 6:17 PM on August 29, 2012 [17 favorites]


Thanks for the heads up, I just upped the ante.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:20 PM on August 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


There was a long argument about this on another discussion site when Romney did the 10 000 bet thing in the debate. I asserted in that argument that this was a macho move in the same territory as "do you want to step outside and settle this like a man?" I was shouted down but this question is the critical one: could you see Hillary Clinton or Merkel or Thatcher or Palin saying that in a debate?

I cannot imagine that happening. It is not a good faith argument. It is not a mediocre faith argument. It's a shitty argument and Romney deserved the criticism at the time.

Nobody cares who is wrong or who is right. Get over yourself.
posted by bukvich at 6:21 PM on August 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


Here are the odds.
posted by Brian B. at 6:22 PM on August 29, 2012


I find the betting thing weird and aggressive but my opinion may or may not be normative here. Like you, I've noticed it all of the sudden and I find it strange.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:23 PM on August 29, 2012 [9 favorites]


That said, my SO and I will often use small bets as a way of saying "Look just shut up about this, you are wrong and let's just call the question and go look it up later so that we don't have to talk about it forever because it is a nice night and if you do not believe that there are people who have their hearts on the right side of their bodies then please just park your objections until we can get to Wikipedia and for now please enjoy this nice sunset quietly and you may privately gloat a little bit about the fact that you will be $.75 richer if you are right, which you are not."

Best $1.50 I ever made (he was so sure, he went double or nothing)
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:26 PM on August 29, 2012 [52 favorites]


Holy shit my husband just got cited as a voice of reason! I definitely did not see that coming in any context other than our relationship in which he has been officially designated as the stable and responsible one although that's pretty much just by default.

That said, unsurprisingly I agree with him; I think the betting thing is a really shitty rhetorical tactic. It's meaningless and aggressive and unpleasant and I don't take your argument more seriously just because you keep bringing up the sincerity of your point by emphasizing that you're willing to bet on it. If I cede your point or go away, it's just because I find that behavior tiresome, not because you've won.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 6:28 PM on August 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


I was shouted down but this question is the critical one: could you see Hillary Clinton or Merkel or Thatcher or Palin saying that in a debate?

I feel reasonably confident that none of the first three would say it, just like I feel reasonably confident Obama wouldn't say it either. Nor, I don't know, Bernie Sanders.

Palin, all bets are off.
posted by hoyland at 6:30 PM on August 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Best $1.50 I ever made

Why would anyone bet against a librarian?
posted by Egg Shen at 6:31 PM on August 29, 2012 [14 favorites]


"Put your money where your mouth is" seems an old, tired and useless vehicle to state .. what? That you think the other person is arguing in bad faith? That you're so obviously right that no one would actually put up money against you? Whatever the point is, it seems like posturing to me, and I don't believe posturing has a valuable place on this site.
posted by Meep! Eek! at 6:31 PM on August 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Dextrocardia FTW!
posted by pecanpies at 6:31 PM on August 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Palin, all bets are off.

Crap, that wasn't intentional. I swear.
posted by hoyland at 6:31 PM on August 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


Crap, that wasn't intentional. I swear.

That's what they all say.
posted by HuronBob at 6:34 PM on August 29, 2012


Two kids at the library today came up to the desk, and one asked me if men could get breast cancer. I said, 'Yes, they can, but it's very rare.' Then the one kid said to the other kid, 'See, I told you. Give me your bag of hot chips.'
posted by box at 6:41 PM on August 29, 2012 [36 favorites]


Why would anyone bet against a librarian?

Always bet on Book.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 6:41 PM on August 29, 2012 [6 favorites]


Mrs A and I have bets with a kiss for the winner as the usual stakes. Even the loser wins.
posted by arcticseal at 7:08 PM on August 29, 2012 [4 favorites]


Palin, all bets are off.

Crap, that wasn't intentional. I swear.


You Betcha!
posted by mannequito at 7:09 PM on August 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


I originally ignored the bet because, not having looked at the poster or their posting history, I assumed they were an Obama supporter and the best saying Romney is going to win was a way to express their fatalism about this bought-and-paid-for election. After Kland chimed in with the escrow idea, I thought, what the hell, if I lose, my money is going to be worthless anyway; if I win, an extra $100 would be helpful.
posted by maxwelton at 7:16 PM on August 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Traditionally the way to combat devious or underhanded arguments along these lines is to call them out and deconstruct them. It's a fucking pain in the ass to do every time (requires thought! coherence! patience! not to mention a willingness to derail to varying extent) but it really is the best way. Attempting to rules-monger* or sway the community at large in this way serves to raise awareness only very slightly since relatively few MeFites read MeTa. In other words, you're preachin' to the choir and the only way to really get your message across is down-in-the-muck, good-faith, old-fashioned arguin'.

And even with that it's likely the offending party is arguing in bad faith anyway, is just fucking around with people, and/or doesn't care to acknowledge your retort. The good fight is not easily won, I guess.

* not saying that's what gerryblog is doing here, I'm not accusing anyone of anything here.
posted by carsonb at 7:16 PM on August 29, 2012


Also, I will spend some of that $100 on a spellchecker.
posted by maxwelton at 7:16 PM on August 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


Attempting to rules-monger

I'm not sure what this means in this context, but just to be clear this was absolutely not intended as any sort of proxy-argument. I just think it will only be bad for the site if people start setting up escrow accounts to make their arguments (even more) permanent, and that it would be a smart thing to add to the mods' please-don't-do-this-here list before the Bet Gambit becomes normalized.
posted by gerryblog at 7:33 PM on August 29, 2012


"before the Bet Gambit becomes normalized"

has that ever actually happened on a site anything similar to Metafilter?
posted by HuronBob at 7:53 PM on August 29, 2012


I bet 10 grand it has.
posted by carsonb at 7:54 PM on August 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


To be clear about my attempt to be clear, I combined two separate things there:

* insisting that you want to bet money to prove how right you think you are;
* setting up escrow accounts to actually make the bets real.

Both are bad for the site, though the second tips the scale into really-obviously-bad in my opinion. But the first is in its own way just as toxic, turning conversations into performances.
posted by gerryblog at 7:59 PM on August 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


$10,000 is known as 1 RomneyBuck (®).
posted by Mister_A at 8:13 PM on August 29, 2012 [10 favorites]


Man, when I saw this post I thought someone had stumbled onto the backroom craps game Taz has been running in music.mefi and I was all ready to pull the fire alarm and scatter. Shit man, you keepin' me noivus.
posted by Divine_Wino at 8:14 PM on August 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


I am shocked—shocked—to find that gambling is going on in here!
posted by octobersurprise at 8:34 PM on August 29, 2012 [4 favorites]


Ahem, what I meant to say was that Catherine O'Hara has her heart on the right side of her body.
posted by Tesseractive at 8:35 PM on August 29, 2012


I love the bets as long as it's just a single bet comment and not a "if you don't put up a bunch of money, I am right" thing.

I've been wanting to bet Mr. Blatcher for some time now.

Calendar's out though. I'm too sexy. Hmm. Okay, loser has to post an askme "My knees and elbows are really really ashy and lotion just does not work. Any ideas?"

OH MAN THE COMMENTS WILL BE EPIC
posted by cashman at 8:36 PM on August 29, 2012


Doesn't this always happen around election time? There was a lot of you "you do this and I'll pay this much to such-and-such candidate" in the Sarah Palin nomination thread way back when.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:40 PM on August 29, 2012


Yeah, I dunno, I kinda feel like bets here should only be about eating vast quantities of pie (savoury accepted; preferably sweet), and the stakes should only be donations to charity or dressing up as animals and photographing it (preferably both).

Anyway isn't there that betting site that lets famous people make stupid bets about shit? Do they take non-famous people too?

I dunno; I'm pretty down on gambling that doesn't involve eating things, charity, or dressing up as, with, or on animals - so maybe I'm not the best person to assess.
posted by smoke at 8:46 PM on August 29, 2012


Can someone hit the Pick Sixcolors Exacta?
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:01 PM on August 29, 2012


I just took the bet on the basis that it's an even bet and I believe I'm likely to come out ahead. No chest beating intended.
posted by jaduncan at 9:05 PM on August 29, 2012


setting up escrow accounts to actually make the bets real.

Hmm, it seems like there's a business to be made here. A separate website that specializes in brokering bets between arguing parties on various online forums. If you could get PayPal to agree to not ban you it would be pretty easy to set everything up.

I'm not sure Metafilter would yield much custom, but I can think of quite a few forums that would.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 9:35 PM on August 29, 2012


Calling for a bet to me feels (feels, mind you, first impressions and all that) like a recognition of a stalemate in a discussion while still wanting to win or come out on top.

So perhaps the sudden surge in betting comments (seeded and germinating idea or coincidence) is more an indication of the calibre of comments? We're debating ourselves either into locked horns or some kind of resolution, which is good, right?
posted by Slackermagee at 9:39 PM on August 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


I can see how you'd feel that way, Slackermagee. I felt that bets were a way to win, but I have found that they are really just a way to have a way to root for one outcome or the other.
posted by cashman at 9:42 PM on August 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Conversations are to be had, not won. This is a site about conversations, so the concept of betting just doesn't feel right.
posted by davejay at 9:44 PM on August 29, 2012 [8 favorites]


This is a site about conversations, so the concept of betting just doesn't feel right.

Ok, ok, instead of money, people place bets for lengths of time that their account will loose commenting privileges (restricted to an average window of previous active commenting hours). It could also have a dutch-auction thing going on where the parties can bid up the bet based on how sure they are.

Side parlay-bets across an entire thread?

Win for the betters, win for the rest of us when they can't leave antagonizing comments for a week!
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 9:48 PM on August 29, 2012


Sounds like a meetup come-on. "Ooh, you look like you got loose commenting privileges."
posted by cashman at 9:52 PM on August 29, 2012 [3 favorites]


er.
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 9:58 PM on August 29, 2012


Oh, shit. Sorry, didn't realize it was being aggro.

I won $50 on Obama getting elected the first time (woulda won $100, but my shitty boss who rode me with conspiracy theories then told me I should have gotten it from him in writing right while the other guy was genially paying).

But then, the bet was $50 that when Obama won, Bush wouldn't declare martial law and seize the presidency.

So when I saw the dude be like, "$100!" I thought, "Sure, sounds good," not "This will prove your comment insincere!"
posted by klangklangston at 10:18 PM on August 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Didn't realize I was being aggro, rather.
posted by klangklangston at 10:18 PM on August 29, 2012


Best Dollar Eighty I Ever Spent!
posted by drjimmy11 at 11:15 PM on August 29, 2012


jessamyn: "because it is a nice night and if you do not believe that there are people who have their hearts on the right side of their bodies then please just park your objections until we can get to Wikipedia and for now please enjoy this nice sunset quietly and you may privately gloat a little bit about the fact that you will be $.75 richer if you are right, which you are not."

And that is how I found out that Catherine O'Hara has Situs inversus! Thanks, tiny wagers!
posted by not_on_display at 12:24 AM on August 30, 2012


Perhaps if we set a maximum stake of twenty dollars, the same as in... where was that now?
posted by Abiezer at 1:33 AM on August 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


It seems weird and reductive to value sincerity in terms of money. Also, there are many wealthy users here and many who are quite poor. I really don't think we want to imply that wealthy ones are more trustworthy. What it should be is, a finger.

"You going to argue with me? Put a finger down here on the bar, right next to mine. Graham will get the cleaver, Brian will call Jessamyn [or another librarian, because there's probably a limit to how many fingers she would want to be responsible for]. We'll put her on speaker and Brian will be ready to swing as soon as he gets an answer."

Simple, equable, and it shows sincerity in the most profound way imaginable.
posted by Joe in Australia at 1:39 AM on August 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


Bringing a whole new meaning to digital reputation. But able-ist though.
posted by Abiezer at 1:42 AM on August 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug: "This is a site about conversations, so the concept of betting just doesn't feel right.

Ok, ok, instead of money, people place bets for lengths of time that their account will loose commenting privileges (restricted to an average window of previous active commenting hours). It could also have a dutch-auction thing going on where the parties can bid up the bet based on how sure they are.

Side parlay-bets across an entire thread?

Win for the betters, win for the rest of us when they can't leave antagonizing comments for a week!
"

You know, on This Other Site I Visit, they have Toxx Clauses as the put up or shut up punishments. Most commonly, it is in fitness threads. Basically if X does not happen by date Y, the account gets banned. Just saying...
posted by Samizdata at 2:54 AM on August 30, 2012


Why would anyone bet against a librarian?

You might as well get involved in a land war in Asia or match wits with a Sicilian.
posted by Devils Rancher at 4:36 AM on August 30, 2012 [6 favorites]


I'm totes behind the calendar idea. Let's not make it nude photos though -- how about pictures eating a mouthful of food you hate? Dressing up as your fave GOPer?
posted by angrycat at 5:06 AM on August 30, 2012


You might as well get involved in a land war in Asia or match wits with a Sicilian.

AHAHAHA AHAHAHA AHAHAHA AHA --

*THUD*
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:41 AM on August 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


100 quatloos that the mefites are untrainable.
 
posted by Herodios at 6:02 AM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Mrs A and I have bets with a kiss for the winner as the usual stakes. Even the loser wins.

My wife and I made what I'll call a "similar" bet, only the stakes were a little higher and the issue wasn't who was right it was about whether I could eat an entire large box of Jujubes while we watched a movie. I won, but my fillings didn't. In retrospect, this story makes it sound like I'm married to a 12 year old boy. If I told you about how she changes all the calculators at Staples to say 69696969, you'd be sure of it.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 6:14 AM on August 30, 2012 [5 favorites]


In defense of the betting thing: I've found, first, that pointing people to Intrade over the election is really quite useful. For a long time a lot of my friends thought Obama was sure to lose, and saying, "Look, you can go make a lot of money if you're right" has helped calm their fears.

In general, people like to make claims for the wrong (non-truth-tracking) reasons, and asking them to stake some small amount on it (or demonstrating that others have done so) is a way of getting them to re-assess their reasons. People also assess more certitude than is usually warranted, and betting can help us think about odds and probabilities.

That said, I do think it comes off as aggressive in the comments the OP points us to. Part of the issue is that we've got a built-in form of accountability: if someone makes a prediction that turns out to be wrong, you can just link back to it in the future.

Here's an example from my own life: my office-mate and I have a $1 bet over whether Apple will do well without Steve Jobs. It started out as shit-talking (me praising Jobs and saying Apple couldn't survive without him) but when we got down to it, I realized I was making a prediction about stock prices and that we could set some victory conditions. Currently, he is looking likely to win, but we'll see how the iPhone 5 announcement goes. In other words: I made some claims, they were probably wrong, and now we'll both know it. Nothing aggressive there.
posted by anotherpanacea at 6:42 AM on August 30, 2012


gerryblog: " MetaFilter is not a betting site. "

Precedent.
posted by zarq at 7:08 AM on August 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


Who would bet on trivia with a librarian?

And then double it?

Your SO has stones, that's for sure.
posted by notyou at 7:10 AM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm really starting to get the feeling that, after that recent 48 hour period with no MetaTalk posts, people decided that we needed to make up for lost time or something.

I bet everyone we'll never go four days without a meta.

I blame Romney and Perry for the increase in betting rhetoric.
posted by cjorgensen at 7:36 AM on August 30, 2012


Simple, equable, and it shows sincerity in the most profound way imaginable.

Yeah, but you start down that road and pretty soon you've got people betting their right hands against some other person's lies. And who has to clean the burn marks out of the tank? It's unworkable.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:55 AM on August 30, 2012 [5 favorites]


-What's the most you've ever lost on a MetaTalk thread?

-Sir?

-The most. You ever lost. On a MetaTalk thread.

-I don't know. I couldn't say.

-Flameout or not? Call it.

-Call it?

-Yes.

-For what?

-Just call it.

-Well, we need to know what we're calling for here.

-You need to call it. I can't call it for you. It wouldn't be fair.

-I didn't put nothin' up.

-Yes, you did. You've been putting it up your posting history, you just didn't know it. You know what thread number this is?

-No.

-22009. It's been traveling 3 hours to get here. And now it's here. And you have to say. Call it.

-Look, I need to know what I stand to win.

-Everything.

-How's that?

-You stand to win everything. All the cats. All the scanners. All the taters, hard- and softcore alike. All the plated beans. Now call it.

-Alright. No flameout.

-Well done....Don't favorite this thread! It's your lucky thread.

-Well, how do I bookmark it?

-Anyway but with a favorite. Then it becomes just another thread. Which it is.
posted by Rangeboy at 9:09 AM on August 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


Obviously the right thing to bet is favorites from your total favorite count.
posted by Pyry at 10:38 AM on August 30, 2012


Thanks, tiny wagers!

Tiny Wagers sounds like online poker for people who like Etsy. Also an excellent band name username.
posted by davejay at 10:38 AM on August 30, 2012


I saw Tiny Wagers open for Favorites Are Bookmarks in '08.
posted by mintcake! at 10:46 AM on August 30, 2012


Why would anyone bet against a librarian?

In my experience? Because they are tired of life.
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:02 PM on August 30, 2012


See also: I am away from my reference materials. It's really the only chance you'll get.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:08 PM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


It seems weird and reductive to value sincerity in terms of money.

It's something that virtually everyone cares about. I could bet my lint collection but I wouldn't find many takers.

I used to write group experimentation software for an economics professor doing game theory. We would have twenty students in to play a money based Prisoner's Dilemma and start tweaking the payoffs to check where the system would stabilize. Students took home extra money based on how much profit they made.

One thing that became clear was that people absolutely hate losing money. The graphs had a large discontinuity when you changed a $0.00 payoff to a -$0.01 payoff, as opposed to a smooth curve for $0.01 and above.

I believe that the small amounts are part of the reason people were more wary: they were playing for pride, not cash. The money was just a way of keeping score.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 4:42 PM on August 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Collapse Wager
posted by infini at 7:09 AM on September 1, 2012


Regardless of the content of that bet, its attempt to provide "objective" measures is woefully inadequate. If ever there were a place to break out hard numbers, or at least specific percentages...
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 12:29 PM on September 1, 2012


To whit.
posted by gerryblog at 9:07 AM on September 10, 2012


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