Failure at the mediumest levels October 1, 2012 10:43 AM   Subscribe

You tell me how the first part of this post wasn't relevant to the second part? It's a story of triumph over adversity and every news article about those awesome kids mentioned where, specifically, they lived. This is moderation, it's racism, pure and simple.
posted by mikoroshi to MetaFilter-Related at 10:43 AM (155 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

That should say "isn't" obviously. I was distracted by the humourous ineptitude.
posted by mikoroshi at 10:44 AM on October 1, 2012


Oh, no! Not humorous ineptitude!
posted by atrazine at 10:46 AM on October 1, 2012 [5 favorites]


That should say "isn't" obviously.

So the corrected version is: "This is moderation, it isn't racism, pure and simple."

Yup, that's about right.
posted by googly at 10:47 AM on October 1, 2012 [48 favorites]


If you can explain how the first part isn't political, which is the claim that restless_nomad has made, than your position would be more clear.
posted by Quonab at 10:48 AM on October 1, 2012


The first part of your post was editorializing unnecessary for the enjoyment of the second part.
posted by elizardbits at 10:48 AM on October 1, 2012


it's racism, pure and simple.

I'm not sure if you're not familiar with the long contentious history of I/P posts here at MetaFilter? And how we've specfically asked people if they're making I/P posts to make them carefully? The first part of your post talked about Israeli harassment, the second part talked about the neat cane the girls had made. The first part was problematic here, specifically. Maybe make this again tomorrow with just the second part? The post got a ton of flags, rather quickly and r_n made the decision I would have made also.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:51 AM on October 1, 2012 [6 favorites]


Well, it certainly was a post that could have been made about "neat science thing" instead of starting with an inflammatory reference to the Israel/Palestine conflict. You were editorializing: not everyone on every side agrees with your framing of what is happening over there.

I'm listening to the video to see if it mentions the conflict, because that is the only way I can see the occupation being relevant. And even so, the occupation would not be the lede.
Indeed, 2 minutes in there is a reference to their being refugees near Nablus. But nothing about harassment from Israelis.

There are three Palestinian teams at the fair! Why didn't you link to the other two?
posted by bilabial at 10:53 AM on October 1, 2012


As Jess said, this was two posts smushed together - one that was just fine, and one that was super-touchy and needs great care in the presentation. Putting them together would pretty much ensure that the just-fine part got zero attention and the thread turned into I/P wrangling, which is tedious for everyone at this point.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 10:55 AM on October 1, 2012


This is moderation, it isn't racism, pure and simple.

Humorous ineptitude, indeed.
posted by grouse at 10:55 AM on October 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


every news article about those awesome kids mentioned where, specifically, they lived.

Of course, none of the linked articles mention anything about Israeli harassment. If they did, then you might have a point. Indeed, if these girls lived in Gaza then they would have had trouble sourcing the electronics for the project because of Israeli and Egyptian government controls over goods import. Frankly when you're making more of the role of the Israelis in the hardships they face than Al Jazeera, you're probably on shaky ground.
posted by atrazine at 10:56 AM on October 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


Part of what makes this story so compelling is that the girls were able to overcome the adversity of living under Israeli occupation.

That is absolutely an important part of the story.
posted by andoatnp at 10:56 AM on October 1, 2012 [5 favorites]


I am aware that there is a small, vociferous contingent of pro-israeli Mefites who pop into these threads and fuck it up for the rest of us, but i was unaware that Metafilter policy was now being set by the rabble-rousers and not by the productive members who are able to discuss sensitive issues without inciting flame wars.
"Metafilter" doesn't do anything poorly. Certain members, however, should temper their strongly held opinions with some respect.
The situation these girls live in is certainly relevant to their impressive accomplishment, the links I added were not "editorializing" they were context, which is a thing that used to be valued on this site.
posted by mikoroshi at 11:02 AM on October 1, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'm not quite sure that the race card is an appropriate response to "Israel/Palestine is a super touchy subject around here." Seems kind of like you're proving that point.
posted by schmod at 11:03 AM on October 1, 2012 [7 favorites]


Then maybe there should have been something substantive in the post or its links about the adversity that they, specifically, faced. Flatly characterizing their experience as "Israeli harassment" with nothing to support it was unnecessarily inflammatory.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:03 AM on October 1, 2012


Part of what makes this story so compelling is that the girls were able to overcome the adversity of living under Israeli occupation.

That is absolutely an important part of the story.


If it's such an important part of the story, why was there no mention of it in the links about the cane?
posted by ultraviolet catastrophe at 11:04 AM on October 1, 2012 [11 favorites]


Then maybe there should have been something substantive in the post or its links about the adversity that they, specifically, faced.

From the ABC News article:
All three go to a U.N.-funded school in Nablus and "are the Albert Einsteins of tomorrow," U.N. spokesman Chris Guness said.
...
The school is so overcrowded that it runs two different shifts a day.
A poorly funded school system in an overcrowded refugee camp enough for you?
posted by andoatnp at 11:05 AM on October 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Metafilter" doesn't do anything poorly.

Clearly you've never seen it cut the lawn.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:06 AM on October 1, 2012 [12 favorites]


I think if you had made the post without the really thin link about harassment, this could have gone better. It's cool that these girls did this, and at a refugee camp (which I agree is an important part of the story). I tend to fall on the Palestine side of Israel-Palestine discussions, but I still think this was a good deletion. This could be a cool post if it were framed better.
posted by bardophile at 11:10 AM on October 1, 2012 [4 favorites]


Did you say Rabbi rousers?
posted by to sir with millipedes at 11:11 AM on October 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


the links I added were not "editorializing" they were context, which is a thing that used to be valued on this site.

At what point, in your opinion, did context stop being valued here?
posted by grouse at 11:11 AM on October 1, 2012


And I really wish your conclusion of racism wasn't so easily jumped to, OP. I think your words and your reaction betray an axe-grinding tendency that is really not what I see Metafilter to be.
posted by inturnaround at 11:13 AM on October 1, 2012


I've seen deletions I disagreed with, but this isn't one of them. The first link added almost nothing but contentiousness to the post. The second gave some helpful background, the 3rd and 4th were essential. I think this post should be tried again tomorrow without the first link. What these girls did deserves to be seen.
posted by Daddy-O at 11:14 AM on October 1, 2012


If it's such an important part of the story, why was there no mention of it in the links about the cane?

I already cited the information from the ABC News article above about how the Israeli occupation is a part of the story. From the Al Jazeera video, starting at about 2:03: "The young inventors are refugees living in Nablus's Askar refugee camp, the product of a reality of poverty and limitations, their achievement has brought cheer here and offered hope for a better future."

Do people think that ABC News is doing a separate article about every single group that is going to the science competition? Of course they aren't.

These girls are specifically interesting because they are in a Palestinian refugee camp under Israeli occupation.

The moderators insistence that the Israeli occupation not be mentioned in a post about this invention is mind-boggling.
posted by andoatnp at 11:15 AM on October 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Nobody said not relevant. The implication was that it was not necessary, and that if you wanted to talk about the kids and their invention, you might want to not lead with some big contentious overshadowing topics instead. Alternatively, if you were really just looking to talk about Israeli harassment of Palestinians, you didn't need the kids as hook.
posted by jacalata at 11:16 AM on October 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


mikoroshi: “‘Metafilter’ doesn't do anything poorly. Certain members, however, should temper their strongly held opinions with some respect.”

Indeed. Thankfully, mikoroshi, the mods are pretty easygoing here, and they don't ban "certain members" even after those members lob overwrought accusations of racism at them.
posted by koeselitz at 11:16 AM on October 1, 2012 [5 favorites]


Wow, accusations of racism, total rejection of MeTa consensus, unsubstantiated claims, and vague personal recriminations. I almost have BINGO!
posted by carsonb at 11:17 AM on October 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


it's racism, pure and simple.

I understand your feelings are hurt because of this deletion. Perhaps you should fully consider that the moderators are acting in good faith and examine your own emotional response before lobbing such a damning accusation, dickhead.
posted by rocketman at 11:19 AM on October 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


No, wait—

*checks board again*

That's five on the diagonal. BINGO!

WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
posted by carsonb at 11:19 AM on October 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


I am aware that there is a small, vociferous contingent of pro-israeli Mefites who pop into these threads and fuck it up for the rest of us, but i was unaware that Metafilter policy was now being set by the rabble-rousers and not by the productive members who are able to discuss sensitive issues without inciting flame wars.

Wouldn't the world just be a wonderful place without all those pesky people who disagree with you?
posted by Afroblanco at 11:19 AM on October 1, 2012 [7 favorites]


I am waiting for the A WILD TONE ARGUMENT APPEARS! square.
posted by elizardbits at 11:19 AM on October 1, 2012


These girls are specifically interesting because they are in a Palestinian refugee camp under Israeli occupation.

And that information is clear for people viewing the video. If you want people to focus on the cool part of this video, don't editorialize about the stuff that people are going learn about anyhow and let them draw their own conclusions. Trust people to understand the point you are trying to make.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:19 AM on October 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


The moderators insistence that the Israeli occupation not be mentioned in a post about this invention is mind-boggling.

I think if you want your post to be about the girls and their invention that's fine...but you start off with an incendiary word like "harassment". You pretty much eliminate anyone who doesn't see what's happening as harassment from reading the link and seeing the main story which is two girls overcoming a poor background. That's a shame that you made that the main thrust of your framing.
posted by inturnaround at 11:23 AM on October 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


I am aware that there is a small, vociferous contingent of pro-israeli Mefites who pop into these threads and fuck it up for the rest of us

That's a group that certainly doesn't include me (in fact, I've heard from them a number of times how I'm a horrible anti-semite and bla, bla, bla) but I still think this was a clumsy post. Everyone knows that people in West Bank refugee camps are poor, and that they're there because they were displaced from their homes in 1948.
posted by atrazine at 11:25 AM on October 1, 2012


Dispite living under constant Israeli harrassment in the Askar refugee camp, three Palestinian school girls have created a new kind of cane that could improve life for countless sightless people.

You're welcome.
posted by JeffK at 11:25 AM on October 1, 2012 [30 favorites]


So the ABC News article can mention the hardship of living under Israeli occupation because that is an important part of the story. And the al Jazeera video can mention the hardship of living under Israeli occupation because that is an important part of the story.

But a post on Metafilter must avoid mentioning this.
posted by andoatnp at 11:25 AM on October 1, 2012 [6 favorites]


It's a post on a group weblog that you paid $5 to join several ago. Regardless of the I/P implications or anything else, getting this wrapped up in a post you can redo tomorrow is just silly. I get posts and comments deleted, and I don't always agree. However, it's a group weblog that I paid $5 to join, years ago. It's not worth getting worked up about, and it certainly isn't worth repeating the drama here.
posted by COD at 11:26 AM on October 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


That's a shame that you made that the main thrust of your framing.

You were quoting and responding to a comment made by me, but you realize I didn't make that post, right?
posted by andoatnp at 11:27 AM on October 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's disgusting and pathetically wrong-headed to chalk up a post deletion to mod racism when there is so much evidence that they actually hate blind people.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:27 AM on October 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Dude, MetaFilter can't even do discussions about discussions about Israel/Palestine.

How can you be this far in the thread and think the original post would have somehow worked out better?
posted by ardgedee at 11:30 AM on October 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


My take on this is that the problem likely wasn't so much with the fact that you mentioned the kids live in a refugee camp as much as this specific wording: Dispite living under constant Israeli harrassment. Your choice of words gives the post a specific political/editorial context beyond the basic message of: "Despite living under some tough circumstances, these kids do something cool."
posted by asnider at 11:33 AM on October 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


Jessamyn said: "The first part was problematic here, specifically. Maybe make this again tomorrow with just the second part?"

I take this to mean the post can be broken into two parts.
First part:
"Dispite living under constant Israeli harrassment in the Askar refugee camp,"

Second part:
"three Palestinian school girls have created a new kind of cane that could improve life for countless sightless people. And all three get to go to California!"

Is my understanding of this correct? Does that mean Jessamyn would delete a future post that even mentioned the girls live in a refugee camp?
posted by andoatnp at 11:33 AM on October 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is my understanding of this correct? Does that mean Jessamyn would delete a future post that even mentioned the girls live in a refugee camp?

It could probably mention living in a refugee camp, but the "constant Israeli harassment" part is problematic. This isn't that hard to figure out.
posted by LionIndex at 11:36 AM on October 1, 2012 [11 favorites]


Oh for heaven's sake, andoatnp. Read what people are saying, and then read what you are saying. They are saying "talking about who's harassing who, in the context of a post about an invention, is an unnecessary and will cause derails." You're replying "SO WHAT YOU'RE SAYING IS YOU'RE RACISTS WHO HATE PALESTINIANS?"

And you're wondering why people here are fairly sure that post would have gone poorly, when the people speaking for it are assuming that attitude?
posted by badgermushroomSNAKE at 11:36 AM on October 1, 2012 [9 favorites]


It's unclear which one you want to talk about, andoatnp.

Do you wish to have a discussion about school girls inventing cool stuff, or a discussion about refugee camps in the Middle East?
posted by carsonb at 11:37 AM on October 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Your understanding is not correct. It means that the first part would need to be reworked so it is not written in such an inflammatory manner.

As long as you continue to ascribe the most malignant motive you can think of to other people's actions, you will continue to misunderstand.
posted by Quonab at 11:37 AM on October 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is my understanding of this correct?

I think the words "under constant Israeli harassment" are the problem. If you don't think the post can be made by you without those words, then I don't think you're the right person to make the post.
posted by inturnaround at 11:38 AM on October 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


You're replying "SO WHAT YOU'RE SAYING IS YOU'RE RACISTS WHO HATE PALESTINIANS?"

What are you talking about? I haven't said anything about racism. Are you conflating my comments with what mikoroshi said?

Do you realize that I didn't make the original deleted metafilter post or this metatalk post?
posted by andoatnp at 11:38 AM on October 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


Actually, I was going to object to that point on the basis of being factually wrong. Vibrating canes for blind people already exist.
posted by DU at 11:38 AM on October 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


Oh for heaven's sake, andoatnp. Read what people are saying, and then read what you are saying. They are saying "talking about who's harassing who, in the context of a post about an invention, is an unnecessary and will cause derails." You're replying "SO WHAT YOU'RE SAYING IS YOU'RE RACISTS WHO HATE PALESTINIANS?"

That is certainly not the case, man, get it straight. andoatnp has not replied in that way in this thread, and has in fact been very civil in attempting to gain understanding.
posted by carsonb at 11:39 AM on October 1, 2012 [4 favorites]


Certain members, however, should temper their strongly held opinions with some respect.

This reminds me, you should probably deliver a heartfelt apology to r_n for accusing her of racism based on little or no evidence.

I realize you were feeling wound up at the time, but making amends would go a long way towards establishing that you are participating in the discussion and not simply blowing off steam.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:39 AM on October 1, 2012 [4 favorites]


protip for andoatnp: when people misinterpret the conversation in a thread like this other people will cotton onto it and straighten it out. Have faith. Don't let it rile you, just sit back and relaxe knowing you've had your say.
posted by carsonb at 11:40 AM on October 1, 2012


Alright fine. Edit window any day now, right?
posted by carsonb at 11:41 AM on October 1, 2012


Is my understanding of this correct? Does that mean Jessamyn would delete a future post that even mentioned the girls live in a refugee camp?

It could probably mention living in a refugee camp, but the "constant Israeli harassment" part is problematic.


Going further: it's problematic because with that bit in there, the discussion then gets poisoned from the very start and will most likely be about whether there actually is constant Israeli harassment or not, and whether it's justified, etc., instead of being about a science project.
posted by LionIndex at 11:42 AM on October 1, 2012


I'm sorry, I apparently phrased that in a way that made it sound like I was saying something I wasn't saying. What I meant to express was that things like "Is my understanding of this correct? Does that mean Jessamyn would delete a future post that even mentioned the girls live in a refugee camp?, or "So the ABC News article can mention the hardship of living under Israeli occupation because that is an important part of the story. And the al Jazeera video can mention the hardship of living under Israeli occupation because that is an important part of the story. But a post on Metafilter must avoid mentioning this." all appear to be continuing mikoroshi's implication that there is some racist motive going on here, that the mods are outlawing posting about Palestinian refugees, etc. They are unnecessarily fighty, possibly-intentional misunderstandings of what the mods and other users have expressed here, and they show, at least to my mind, that the deleted thread would indeed have been an epic mess of a derail.
posted by badgermushroomSNAKE at 11:45 AM on October 1, 2012


I literally cannot imagine a better proof that this was a good deletion than this thread itself.
posted by Rock Steady at 11:47 AM on October 1, 2012 [23 favorites]


Do you wish to have a discussion about school girls inventing cool stuff, or a discussion about refugee camps in the Middle East?

Both? They don't seem mutually exclusive. I don't think there would be any way to frame a post about those girls and their invention where life in a Palestinian refugee camp under Israeli occupation wouldn't come up. So in that sense, I think the thread would have turned into a derail about Palestinian refugee camps, but I don't think that has to do with whether or not it is mentioned in the post.

And again, I didn't make that post.

It means that the first part would need to be reworked so it is not written in such an inflammatory manner.

Ok, but Jessamyn didn't say to rework the first part, she said to make the post without the first part.

At this point, it seems like we are quibbling over what sort of wording can be used in a post to refer to the conditions of a Palestinian refugee camp under Israeli occupation. Most people here seem to be saying that it would be ok to mention that the girls live in a refugee camp in the post, but there shouldn't be any unduly harsh wording to describe what conditions are like in such a camp. Especially not a link describing what these conditions are like.
posted by andoatnp at 11:48 AM on October 1, 2012 [4 favorites]


Yeah - it's awesome that the girls developed this while living in a refugee camp. The same way we had the post about the kid with one leg who climbed Kilamanjaro. Overcoming adversity is totally a winner on Mefi.

But...the "constant Israeli harassment" goes in a weird place. I haven't watched the video, but I gather it's not about the Israelis coming up and slashing their cane or anything - it's the problems that come from living in a refugee camp - which for the sake of argument can be entirely the Israelis' fault, but it doesn't matter. Nothing here would be different if the girls lived in a refugee camp near the DRC, or any other one. However, I/P threads will make the conversation about I/P in a way that other refugee camps won't, for no reason relevant to the actual cane story. So why not just say "while living in a refugee camp"?
posted by Lemurrhea at 11:48 AM on October 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


mikoroshi: "I am aware that there is a small, vociferous contingent of pro-israeli Mefites who pop into these threads and fuck it up for the rest of us, "

There are more than enough people on both sides who create FPP's about Israel or who treat existing FPPs about Israel (no matter the actual topic) as an excuse to grind an axe. Fucking up our ability to have a civil discussion is certainly not limited to one side or the other.

FPP's about Israel that spawn civil discussions usually do so because they're worded in an inoffensive manner. So the way you word your posts will affect both how they are received by the community, and whether the mods view them as potential flame-bait. The angrier or more condemning a post sounds, the more likely it is to be deleted.
posted by zarq at 11:50 AM on October 1, 2012 [5 favorites]


Going even further: With the harassment bit in there, one could reasonably assume the subtext of the post to be "look at all the awesome things Palestinians would do if not for the constant harassment of Israelis", which, granted, may be true, but at that point it's not a post about a science project, it's an Israeli occupation post, and then we're at QED.
posted by LionIndex at 11:50 AM on October 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


badgermushroomSNAKE: all appear to be continuing mikoroshi's implication that there is some racist motive going on here, that the mods are outlawing posting about Palestinian refugees, etc.

That's only the least charitable interpretation of andoatnp's words, and based, as far as I can tell, on assumption alone. Instead of accusing someone who has not acted like a dumbass in this thread of acting like a dumbass, just help clarify the obviously sticky situation and quit it with the baseless accusations.
posted by carsonb at 11:50 AM on October 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Both?

See, if that's your answer then I'm sorry but MeFi is not a good place to do that. The one poisons the well, as said above, and destroys any good the other half of the story may incorporate.
posted by carsonb at 11:51 AM on October 1, 2012


Tell Me No Lies is right, I shouldn't have ascribed to racism what can easily be laid at the feet of incompetence and fear. Mea culpa, I was and am annoyed and should have taken the required walk before posting.
The point remains that those living in the camps are harassed, and they are harassed by israelis and the harassment is constant and something awesome was born out of a shitty situation.
And any suggestion (as was made here) that the harassment is justified is just beyond the pale.
If these girls were Tibetan and the post made reference to Chinese occupation it wouldn't been seen as "inflammatory".
posted by mikoroshi at 11:51 AM on October 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


DU, I, too, was surprised that this was not already a known invention.

I wonder if this would even be a story if these girls were anywhere else?
posted by the man of twists and turns at 11:52 AM on October 1, 2012


See, if that's your answer then I'm sorry but MeFi is not a good place to do that. The one poisons the well, as said above, and destroys any good the other half of the story may incorporate.

But do you think it would be possible to make a post about this invention without the comments turning into a discussion about Palestinian refugee camps? I don't.
posted by andoatnp at 11:54 AM on October 1, 2012


Ok, I've said my piece, and I don't see my further participation in this thread at the moment to be likely to add anything helpful.

I'm going to go get some work done, and I'll check back in three or four hours to see how the conversation developed.
posted by andoatnp at 11:55 AM on October 1, 2012


I shouldn't have ascribed to racism what can easily be laid at the feet of incompetence and fear

sigh
posted by elizardbits at 11:55 AM on October 1, 2012 [18 favorites]


I shouldn't have ascribed to racism what can easily be laid at the feet of incompetence and fear.

Now that you recognize that the moderators of this site are incompetent, what does it say that you are continuing to argue with them?

If these girls were Tibetan and the post made reference to Chinese occupation it wouldn't been seen as "inflammatory".

Citation, please?
posted by muddgirl at 11:55 AM on October 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


I shouldn't have ascribed to racism what can easily be laid at the feet of incompetence and fear.

You seem way more determined to be a boor than to gain any understanding of site policies, or even to argue persuasively for your post.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 11:56 AM on October 1, 2012 [6 favorites]


Does that mean Jessamyn would delete a future post that even mentioned the girls live in a refugee camp?

You know, I'm right here, did not delete that original post, and am trying to be helpful here.

Decide if the post is going to be about this neat thing the girls invested or if it's also going to be about life in a refugee camp. The video makes it clear that's where they live. People who watch the video will see that. It's fine to mention that in the context of a post, but let me be clear, we will not green light a post from here. We've given folks feedback, I'd suggest sleeping on it honestly.

Especially not a link describing what these conditions are like.

Adding a link makes the post also "about" refugee camps which means people who show up ready to argue about the context or the content of that link will be able to in an on-topic fashion. People who showed up in a post about some Palestinian inventors who wanted to GRAR about I/P stuff would have a much less easy time of it (and would be easier to moderate)

If you want to make a post about both things (cane, life in camps), then it's going to turn into an I/P post and it might not go well here and/or might get flagged a lot and/or might get deleted. More to the point, knowing this, you can go into it with eyes open and try to make the post that will work best on MetaFilter and not just the post that you think is the exact perfect post that you want to make.

incompetence and fear

This is actually not helping and is not an apology.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:56 AM on October 1, 2012 [16 favorites]


And any suggestion (as was made here) that the harassment is justified is just beyond the pale.

I wasn't suggesting that, but to make a post on I/P and not assume that that point isn't going to be made somewhere is silly, and that's why we avoid I/P threads.

If these girls were Tibetan and the post made reference to Chinese occupation it wouldn't been seen as "inflammatory".

If the main point of the post seemed to be the harassment of Tibetans by the Chinese, it sure would be.
posted by LionIndex at 11:57 AM on October 1, 2012


And any suggestion (as was made here) that the harassment is justified

I hesitate to suggest that you're being paranoid and making things up, but unless posts in this thread have been deleted, I think you're being paranoid and making things up. Or I guess I could assume that you meant to link to an actual example of such suggestions outside this thread, and simply failed due to incompetence and rage?
posted by jacalata at 11:57 AM on October 1, 2012


(I hope it was clear that I was positing that the moderators are incompetent to make a point - that arguing with incompetence on an internet website is pointless. I think the Mefi moderators are 4 of the greatest cat herders I've ever had the pleasure to know.)
posted by muddgirl at 11:58 AM on October 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


mikoroshi, it really seems like you want to use these girls' cool invention as a reason/excuse to talk about the bad conditions in the refugee camps. MeFi really wants people to discuss things in good faith, and this strikes me as rather insincere.
posted by benito.strauss at 11:58 AM on October 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


mikoroshi, I flagged the post due entirely to the needless editorializing. Your further comments in this thread only serve to confirm the same biases that infected your post and prove that the deletion was the correct decision since this was clearly not a "look at this neat thing I found on the web" and more "here are my political opinions and a story tangentially related to them".
posted by The Gooch at 11:59 AM on October 1, 2012


Dude, you clearly can't be dispassionate about this and that makes for bad posts. It's kind of just that simple.
posted by mintcake! at 11:59 AM on October 1, 2012


Is this not an example of exactly the sort of thing Mitt Romney said could not possibly come out of Palestine because of their status as bad lesser people? So yeah, there's a story there, and the circumstances are part of the story.

Bad deletion.
posted by Artw at 12:01 PM on October 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


But do you think it would be possible to make a post about this invention without the comments turning into a discussion about Palestinian refugee camps? I don't.

I don't either. So then I naturally think "Oh, this is not a good post for MetaFilter" and I post a cool art video or something instead, and leave the I/P link to my FaceBook feed for the frothy discussion I crave.

This is actually not helping and is not an apology.

I've basically considered everything from mikoroshi after "Certain members, however, should temper their strongly held opinions with some respect," to be parody.
posted by carsonb at 12:01 PM on October 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


You know, I bet it's totally possible to "make their circumstances a part of the story" in a thoughtful and effective way. The deleted post did not do that in my opinion.

Good deletion.
posted by muddgirl at 12:03 PM on October 1, 2012 [4 favorites]


Artw: "Is this not an example of exactly the sort of thing Mitt Romney said could not possibly come out of Palestine because of their status as bad lesser people? So yeah, there's a story there, and the circumstances are part of the story. "

If there's a story about Romney's policies there, it wasn't mentioned in the post and it wasn't mentioned in the links. So you're in favor of keeping the post because it might have allowed you to complain about a topic that wasn't even there to begin with?
posted by zarq at 12:09 PM on October 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


"There's a story there" in that particular context twinges my sarcasm detector, zarq.
posted by carsonb at 12:10 PM on October 1, 2012


I shouldn't have ascribed to racism what can easily be laid at the feet of incompetence and fear. Mea culpa, I was and am annoyed and should have taken the required walk before posting.
The point remains that those living in the camps are harassed, and they are harassed by israelis and the harassment is constant and something awesome was born out of a shitty situation.
And any suggestion (as was made here) that the harassment is justified is just beyond the pale.



Oh, for crying out loud. I would point directly to this comment in my support of the deletion. Are you unable to see past your own hugely grindy axe?
posted by blurker at 12:13 PM on October 1, 2012


carsonb: ""There's a story there" in that particular context twinges my sarcasm detector, zarq."

*sigh* Ah. Thanks.

I am really bad at detecting sarcasm.
posted by zarq at 12:14 PM on October 1, 2012


Sure you are.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 12:16 PM on October 1, 2012 [6 favorites]


Wikipedia link above the fold = bad post.

Good deletion.
posted by daniel_charms at 12:19 PM on October 1, 2012


Deletion worthy or not, Gator's Rule Of Thumb speaks well to the quality of the post:

This is cool; other people will want to see it == Good post
This is important; I want other people to see it == Bad post

It might have been the second, but it turns out to very much to be the first.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 12:25 PM on October 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


Racism? What the eff?

Sometimes I don't know why I get out of bed in the morning. This is one of those times.
posted by Justinian at 12:31 PM on October 1, 2012


because eventually you will have to pee.
posted by elizardbits at 12:34 PM on October 1, 2012 [5 favorites]


Or the cat really, really, REALLY wants to be fed.
posted by cooker girl at 12:36 PM on October 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


You can totally pee without getting out of bed. Not that I've had any experience with this ever.
posted by daniel_charms at 12:37 PM on October 1, 2012


Or the cat really, really, REALLY wants to be fed.

This, though. I feel your pain. Every. fucking. morning.
posted by daniel_charms at 12:40 PM on October 1, 2012


This was a total revelation for me, so I'm happy to make your every-morning-from-now-on daniel_charms: Feed your cat before you go to bed.
posted by carsonb at 12:45 PM on October 1, 2012


That just leads to fat and twice-as-demanding cats.
posted by elizardbits at 12:48 PM on October 1, 2012 [4 favorites]


Is this MeTa some sort of training exercise for the new mods?
posted by aught at 1:04 PM on October 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


Feed your cat before you go to bed.

But that's old food. They need new food, or at least old food that you have touched with your hand a bit. And it's sunrise, or nearly sunrise, or they saw a stray cat/squirrel/piece of paper on the balcony so it's morning.
posted by jeather at 1:07 PM on October 1, 2012 [5 favorites]


To the OP, your choice of tags suggests a tantrum. Really, a disgusting post.
posted by feste at 1:31 PM on October 1, 2012 [4 favorites]


All these things in the OP are what my cat would call me in the morning if he could talk.
posted by daniel_charms at 1:43 PM on October 1, 2012


OP, did this MeTa go the way you wanted it to? And if so, why did you want it to go that way? And if not, how did you want it to go?

Serious question.
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:47 PM on October 1, 2012


Is this MeTa some sort of training exercise for the new mods?

You will notice they are smartly staying out if it. Achievement unlocked!
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:47 PM on October 1, 2012 [24 favorites]


Ok, I've said my piece, and I don't see my further participation in this thread at the moment to be likely to add anything helpful.

I'm going to go get some work done, and I'll check back in three or four hours to see how the conversation developed.


No sarcasm: I really wish I had your self-discipline. There's no way I could manage that.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 2:22 PM on October 1, 2012


I am glad the cats bug me in the morning. I want to get out of bed. They are like an alarm clock without a working snooze button.
posted by mountmccabe at 3:15 PM on October 1, 2012


Citation, please?

The deleted post should have been phrased better, but looking at, for example, posts of "cool things" from Tibet shows that contextualization is okay there, since there is a large amount of consensus among the US (or, at least, MetaFilter) population that the Chinese occupation of Tibet is a bad and illegitimate thing. Perhaps "Chinese invasion" and "eradication" are less inflammatory words than the phrase "constant Israeli harassment", since the "eradication" doesn't immediately say who is engaged in that activity.

I do think living in a Palestinian refugee camp in the West Bank or Gaza does involve being under "constant Israeli harassment" at least, due to the checkpoints, closures and raids, and is part of the story, but since it is not the consensus on MetaFilter, it is definitely inflammatory and more effective, if one wants to highlight Palestinian ingenuity under Israeli occupation, to take the approach of the first Tibetan "cool thing" FPP.
posted by Gnatcho at 3:34 PM on October 1, 2012 [4 favorites]


I do think living in a Palestinian refugee camp in the West Bank or Gaza does involve being under "constant Israeli harassment"

I don't think that this is anything that the mod team actually disagrees with. I know I don't disagree with it.

The question, for us was: Is this a post about life in a refugee camp (in which case then you need to actually adhere towards guidelines about I/P posts and be mindful of same, not every true fact is something that is worth making a post about or will make a good post on MetaFilter and whether that's a damned shame or not is a larger topic than this thread) or is it a post about these girls and the thing they made (in which case posting about conditions in refugee camps as part of your post is going to derail that and not result in the post that you want)?

We, guided by the community response on stuff like this, have to make unpopular choices. This is the one we made here. Acting like that's because we think the occupation is in any way conscionable is inaccurate and unfair.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:43 PM on October 1, 2012 [6 favorites]


For what it's worth, I don't think the choice was actually unpopular. Vociferously disagreed-with, perhaps. Unpopular, no. For my non-vote, it looked like a pretty textbook deletion.
posted by Scientist at 3:47 PM on October 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


I liked the part where, right after accusing people first of racism then incompetence and fear, you lectured about how some people are inflammatory, mess up threads, and don't do things as well as the rest of metafilter - that was hilarious, and some of the best satirical performance art I've seen since lunchtime PST.
posted by freebird at 3:54 PM on October 1, 2012 [4 favorites]


Just to be clear, I don't think it's about individual mod decisions, but more how certain things are deemed inflammatory and other things are not, because of the broader political culture of the majority American posters on this site. Moderators function based on the community they moderate for (the often beneficial feedback mod deletions can provide can be seen by perusing subreddits with differing levels of and policies regarding moderation), and upon preview, I agree with Scientist that most MetaFilter members would agree with this deletion.
posted by Gnatcho at 3:58 PM on October 1, 2012


Yeah, my read on the problem with the post is not "hey man, don't be rude about Israel, they're awesome"; it's "don't pick a fight if you're trying to post about something neat". There are better ways to put together a post about either the neat can stuff or the problems involved the Israeli-Palestinian situation, but this felt like a failure to navigate that well at all and was a textbook delete as far as I'm concerned.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:00 PM on October 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


And any suggestion (as was made here) that the harassment is justified is just beyond the pale.

Wha? Who made that suggestion here at all. There might be a very, very few (like, 1 or 2, *maybe*) mefites who may think and may have even voiced sentiments like that on the blue in the past, but they have not shown up here and no one has said that.

If these girls were Tibetan and the post made reference to Chinese occupation it wouldn't been seen as "inflammatory".

And if they were walruses and the post made reference to top hats no one would, either. But it's not, and they're not; there is how we want the world to be, and how it actually is.

Israel/Palestine posts are a fraught topic here, and the community moderators put their duty to the community ahead of a nebulous duty to... freeing Palestine or whatever you want, I'm not sure - and I say this as someone very, very much on the "P" side of the I/P debate.

I must say, I feel like your aggressive and aggrieved tone has really not made this discussion a productive one from any perspective. If you were interested in gaining a better understanding of how to do this I think fewer wild accusations and more genuine questions would be helpful. This is just a website, after all.

PS, it may have been before the current brouhaha, but I myself have made an Israel/Palestine post that dealt directly with the issue, and it was not deleted (at least, back then it wasn't, despite some pretty shitty comments in the wash-up). It can be - and is - done all the time.
posted by smoke at 4:21 PM on October 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


And if they were walruses and the post made reference to top hats....

Wait, what? Don't get me started, why, I don't even....
posted by Floydd at 4:55 PM on October 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Everyone knows that people in West Bank refugee camps are poor, and that they're there because they were displaced from their homes in 1948.

but not everyone knows about checkpoints, all that goes into being stateless, violent settlers, and many other small things that make living there different from living in a similarly poor place in, say, America.

did anyone actually click through the palsolidarity link? it's not really editorializing. it's a few paragraphs about how their town is basically shut down for several hours three times a week. the one thing people might have a problem with is describing the settlers as "illegal", which is pretty easy to see that it is illegal for them to settle in the occupied territories, even if you aren't an expert in international law, thought it's rarely acknowledged.

is it harassment? would it feel like harassment to you if you were told you couldn't leave your home for several hours, three times a week, every week? to me, harassment seems acceptably accurate. what else would you call it?

i think this was a bad deletion because it was relatively easy to dig into the controversial part and see that it was pretty tame. i could understand IF the link took a lot of reading to get the jist of it, but it was a short article. i don't think it's right that a post that is basically factually accurate is deleted because those facts are controversial.
posted by cupcake1337 at 5:09 PM on October 1, 2012 [6 favorites]


The deleted post should have been phrased better, but looking at, for example, posts of "cool things" from Tibet shows that contextualization is okay there

Right off the bat I see a huge difference between the deleted post under discussion and the one on Tibet.

Tibet: "Historic, beautiful and interesting footage of Tibetan lamas and yogis teaching Buddhism, just 4 years after their escape from Tibet, when the Chinese invaded in 1959."

Pakistan: "Dispite living under constant Israeli harrassment in the Askar refugee camp, three Palestinian school girls have created a new kind of cane that could improve life for countless sightless people."

Do you see the difference in approach and tone? The first contextualization is a statement of fact - the yogis fled Tibet after the Chinese invasion. 'Constant Israeli harassment' is not a statement of fact, although "living in the Askar refugee camp" would be.
posted by muddgirl at 5:28 PM on October 1, 2012


Pakistan: "Dispite living

Palestine?
posted by cupcake1337 at 5:37 PM on October 1, 2012


Sorry, Palestine. I have a problem with names, and my brain mixes up "India/Pakistan" with "Israel/Palestine" if I don't spend a few seconds to sort it out.
posted by muddgirl at 5:40 PM on October 1, 2012


This thread proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that the deletion was worthy. If you want to post everything you want to post with no censorship, the place for that is a personal blog. Metafilter ain't that. Whether we agree or disagree with the parameters set around here is kinda beside the point. I certainly don't always agree but I'm not the one who owns THIS weblog. And unless you are Mathowie, neither are you.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:44 PM on October 1, 2012


Alright fine. Edit window any day now, right?
posted by carsonb at 11:41 AM on October 1 [+] [!]


The important thing here is that carsonb is fucking clairvoyant.
posted by liketitanic at 5:46 PM on October 1, 2012 [7 favorites]


i always thought community input was kind of the point, otherwise why let users flag posts they don't like? you could make the same argument for why you shouldn't flag a post: things are posted, whether we agree or disagree with the parameters set around here is kinda beside the point, if you don't want to read it read your own blog.

i'm not saying "post everything you want to post with no censorship" i'm saying i think this specific post should not have been deleted.
posted by cupcake1337 at 5:54 PM on October 1, 2012


Well it did get flagged and thus was deleted. The community has spoken.
posted by elsietheeel at 6:11 PM on October 1, 2012 [4 favorites]


I am aware that there is a small, vociferous contingent of pro-israeli Mefites who pop into these threads and fuck it up for the rest of us, but i was unaware that Metafilter policy was now being set by the rabble-rousers and not by the productive members who are able to discuss sensitive issues without inciting flame wars.

If this is true, then there must be an equally small, vociferous contingent of Mefites who wish death on Israel.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:51 PM on October 1, 2012


mikoroshi: "i was unaware that Metafilter policy was now being set by the rabble-rousers and not by the productive members who are able to discuss sensitive issues without inciting flame wars."

You've been here six years! How can you be a Mefite for six years and not know about MeFi's history with I/P, cat declawing, and circumcision posts? Just how long do you need to lurk before you understand this place?
posted by Bugbread at 8:25 PM on October 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


i don't think it's right that a post that is basically factually accurate is deleted because those facts are controversial.

It's completely right. The point isn't whether or not anything about Israel or Palestine is true or not, it's that this is a historically touchy subject here with an enormous potential for a shitstorm of a thread. It doesn't matter if the post is "factual" if it's going to result in nothing but a flame thread.

Imagine if the post had been this:

Dispite living under constant fundamentalist Christian repression in [small hyper-conservative Bible Belt town], three atheist school girls have created a new kind of cane that could improve life for countless sightless people. And all three get to go to California!

And let's say that the "fundamentalist Christian repression" link described factual examples of these girls being mocked by their religious neighbors, purposefully held back due to their beliefs, etc in a manner that could be called repression. Religion is another touchy subject here. Such a post would be guaranteed to devolve into "LOL Christians and their sky fairy religion is dumb!" thread #10485839359048. What good would be accomplished? The invention wouldn't be discussed. The people wouldn't be discussed. We'd just have another iteration of the same old shit.

andoatnp asked above:

But do you think it would be possible to make a post about this invention without the comments turning into a discussion about Palestinian refugee camps? I don't.

The answer is likely no. But if the answer is no, then the thread shouldn't stand. andoatnp says that the political situation is important background, and I agree, but it's background. The post is supposed to be about the invention and the girls. If it's not possible to have a discussion about that without the background political situation taking over, the thread should go. It serves no purpose other than to satisfy partisan desires to rehash the endless I/P debates.
posted by Sangermaine at 8:56 PM on October 1, 2012


Jah, the litmus test of whether something makes a good MetaFilter post is not whether or not it is factually correct, it is whether or not it is cool and makes for interesting discussion. I am continually amazed by how hard a concept this is for many people to grasp.

I really wonder what good it does to leave this thread open. I feel like no-one is learning anything.
posted by Scientist at 9:08 PM on October 1, 2012


the litmus test of whether something makes a good MetaFilter post is not whether or not it is factually correct

right, but when the reason for a post being taken down is in part because it includes a link that is "editorializing" and "incendiary", whether or not it is factually correct is important, because when being factually correct is being criticized as being the two former things you've got a big problem.
posted by cupcake1337 at 9:28 PM on October 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


cupcake1337: "right, but when the reason for a post being taken down is in part because it includes a link that is "editorializing" and "incendiary", whether or not it is factually correct is important, because when being factually correct is being criticized as being the two former things you've got a big problem."

I disagree that it's a big problem. Facts can be "incendiary" if the cause firestorms. If MeFi were a newspaper, restricting itself from reporting facts because they're incendiary, then, sure, that's a big problem. But MeFi is a place for people to share links that others might enjoy, and engage in discussions people might enjoy. If someone posts a factual link that just creates anger, arguments, fighting, flameouts, closed accounts, moderator headaches, etc...then the post has failed. Whether or not the statement was true is irrelevant.
posted by Bugbread at 9:41 PM on October 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


Would have been great without the first link.
posted by batmonkey at 10:31 PM on October 1, 2012


Is this MeTa some sort of training exercise for the new mods?

The Holodeck seems to be stuck on Kobayashi Maru. No-one gets out alive.
posted by scalefree at 11:42 PM on October 1, 2012 [6 favorites]


I shouldn't have ascribed to racism what can easily be laid at the feet of incompetence and fear.

Wow. I commend the mods for their patience because, truly, that sentence is 100% A grade prime arseholery.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 11:58 PM on October 1, 2012 [4 favorites]


The important thing here is that carsonb is fucking clairvoyant.

I didn't even know they were dating.
 
posted by Herodios at 5:27 AM on October 2, 2012 [13 favorites]


mikoroshi: "i was unaware that Metafilter policy was now being set by the rabble-rousers and not by the productive members who are able to discuss sensitive issues without inciting flame wars."

Are you under the impression that you are one of the levelheaded ones who can discuss sensitive issues calmly and without rancor?
posted by ook at 5:56 AM on October 2, 2012 [7 favorites]


Are Israelis and Palestinians different "races"?

Cuz that's just stupid.
posted by blue_beetle at 5:59 AM on October 2, 2012


I shouldn't have ascribed to racism what can easily be laid at the feet of incompetence and fear.

Or more accurately, a reasoned response to a large community reaction based on the published site guidelines.

The tagline for MetaFilter is "the best of the web", not "your hub for the Israeli-Palestine debate". Meaning that, while an I/P story can become FPP material, it has to pass muster as the best of the web, not just another story furthering discussion on a controversial political topic. Put another way, right now the top 8 FPPs on MeFi are:
1.A collection of color photos from 1940s California
2. A steampunk short story
3. A US Supreme Court story
4. How to make your own Marmite
5. A link to a music cartoon about Middle East conflict through the ages (including I/P!)
6. A story about Apple using legal means to avoid paying taxes in the US
7. A story about one of the winners of the MacArthur Awards
8. A interview with a BMX rider
Aside from the Supreme Court story and possibly the Apple story, none of these are politically-related posts. Political topics are an incidence, not the norm. There are lots of places on the web that would welcome a heated I/P debate. MetaFilter would also probably be OK for a productive discussion on the same topic, but it simply is not the primary goal of the site or the community.

You find yourself on the other side of the site's stated and intended vision. This does not point to incompetence or fear on any of the moderators' (or flaggers') decisions.

Just my two pennies.
posted by Doleful Creature at 10:22 AM on October 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm a paid moderator at another site with a very clear progressive policy when it comes to politics of gender, race, imperialism and sexuality. The post in question would easily have passed muster, and, in fact, wouldn't have raised an eyebrow. While I admire the work the mods do here at so fiesty and large a site here, I think it's a problem that the mods felt they needed to remove this post. To be clear, I support the decision to delete the post, but I think it's a problem it was deleted.

If Metafilter, as a community, has decided that it can't talk about Israel and Palestine without acknowledging the clear and documented injustices of its ongoing occupation, then that is a mark against its capacity for productive discussion. That means not only holding those who make excuses for the occupation, but those, seen in this thread, who ridicule, pile-on and ostracize those who strain to make these injustices clear and known. Appeals to politeness and castigations of hyperbole in this context serve the occupier, not the truth.

In my experience, it's only the United States, Israel and increasingly Canada which doesn't recognize the occupation as such: a state-sanctioned violent act of coercion, colonization and erasure. It's unfortunate that MeFi's exaggerated USian composition affects what the rest of the world, including the United Nations, views as a shocking and sustained example of abuse.
posted by Catchfire at 7:39 PM on October 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


If Metafilter, as a community, has decided that it can't talk about Israel and Palestine without acknowledging the clear and documented injustices of its ongoing occupation, then that is a mark against its capacity for productive discussion.

Did you read all the comments in the thread or just the first couple because you couldn't wait to get your point out about I/P?

This isn't about I/P in the specific it's about the issue in regards to Metafilter as a community.

Appeals to politeness and castigations of hyperbole in this context serve the occupier, not the truth.

Oh wonderful. Thanks for the lecture. Don't hurt yourself when you fall off that horse.
posted by You Guys Like 2 Party? at 8:59 PM on October 2, 2012


Christ, our last best chance to end the conflict has been squandered. If only the mods let that post stand, we'd be living in a different world.
posted by Falconetti at 9:02 PM on October 2, 2012 [4 favorites]


Catchfire: "If Metafilter, as a community, has decided that it can't talk about Israel and Palestine without acknowledging the clear and documented injustices of its ongoing occupation, then that is a mark against its capacity for productive discussion."

Sure, it's a mark against MetaFilter's capacity for productive discussion, but it's an accurate mark.

Does it suck that MeFi is bad at talking about I/P?
Yes, it does suck.

Does pretending that MeFi handles I/P discussions well, leaving threads like this up, and allowing the inevitable firestorm to occur contribute anything positive to the site?
No, it doesn't.
posted by Bugbread at 9:35 PM on October 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm a paid moderator at another site with a very clear progressive policy when it comes to politics of gender, race, imperialism and sexuality. The post in question would easily have passed muster, and, in fact, wouldn't have raised an eyebrow.

That's an inadvertent endorsement for MeFi's style, where posts have to actually be good, not just on the right side.
posted by michaelh at 9:36 PM on October 2, 2012 [5 favorites]


My problem is that I agree politically that living in a refugee camp is living under Israeli harassment, but the OP has now squandered his credibility by overreacting to a fair deletion.

So way to write off whatever goodwill you hoped would make yor post influential. In other words I might agree the deletion was worth debating, but the way you chose to open that debate here is proof you wanted to stir shit up, not enlighten those who don't see it your way.

A shame, really. You aren't doing the cause you would champion any favors. And the fact that some people cannot discuss I/P with any sense of nuance or respect for other views is why the topic is almost always bad for metafilter.
posted by spitbull at 1:04 AM on October 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


Are Israelis and Palestinians different "races"?

The question of whether Jews are a race as well as a culture is a hole you just don't want to go down. But yes, there are reasonable people who consider I/P to be a racial conflict.

(as reasonable as anyone can be about I/P, which as you can see isn't much)
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 1:14 AM on October 3, 2012


Catchfire: "If Metafilter, as a community, has decided that it can't talk about Israel and Palestine without acknowledging the clear and documented injustices of its ongoing occupation, then that is a mark against its capacity for productive discussion.

That hasn't happened. A number of us have posted FPPs over the years about the conflict, peace efforts, terrorism, protests, the Occupation's problems, awful tragedies, controversies and injustices, the recent flotilla, as well as the Palestinians' campaign for freedom and statehood. Not to mention, stuff like this. I've posted at least two. Smoke linked upthread to one of his.

The issue here is not that "the clear and documented injustices" of the occupation are being suppressed on Metafilter. They're absolutely not. All you have to do to see a plethora of posts on the subject is peruse the tags for Israel and Palestine.

The general consensus in this thread is that the post would have been a good one without the unnecessary, incendiary language. This community really does not need yet another flamewar, or poorly constructed, accusatory and axe-grindy political threads with people shouting at each other or leaving in a huff. The mods work to make sure that doesn't happen. Since metafilter is not a political site, there's not reason why they shouldn't set the bar higher, to preserve good will in the community.
posted by zarq at 8:06 AM on October 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


Zarq, thanks for that thoughtful and comprehensive post. But I stick to my point that MeFi's inability to treat the occupation as a given, which much of the world does, is a mark against this community. Again, I don't fault the mods, who clearly were correct in supposing that the OP would have gone pear shaped. But it's worth pointing out that the "incendiary" and "unnecessary" language in this case was the fairly neutral "harassment." This is both true, since the word clearly incensed, but it is also problematic, since it's a) mild and b) true. This is what I mean when I say that deleting this post is evidence that MeFi is skewed when it comes to this subject.

Oh, anD MeFi definitely has a political bias. I'd define it as more-or-less American centre left liberal. That doesn't mean that every one fits this label, obviously. But it does colour the discussion and puts paid to the fantasy that posts need only be "good."
posted by Catchfire at 9:40 AM on October 3, 2012


But I stick to my point that MeFi's inability to treat the occupation as a given

And I am sticking to my point that we have standards for posts on I/P stuff and this post didn't meet those if it was a thread about I/P stuff. I treat the occupation as a given as I think most reality-based people do. The fact that there are ten people who want to fight about shit like this until the cows come home does, in fact, wreck this topic for the rest of us to have more nuanced discussions. At the same time, talking about politics is not one of this site's core missions and so we do not devote resources to solving this problem here. We don't have a lot of posts about pornography either just because ... they don't come up much. That doesn't mean we're sex negative it means we have a different focus.

I understand that if you are progressive or activist in your political views on this issue as well as many others the fact that we've made this decision to not have these discussions here is galling and possibly bordering on appalling, but it's a conscious decision not some sort of "Oh I an a Jew and live in America and so I absolutely can not handle having my workplace be a place where people discuss the Israeli occupation of Palestine" vague accident.

If you don't like the choices we made, I totally understand and respect that. But acting like we're making those choices because we're not aware of the political situation in the Middle East and are just idly parroting our stupid government's stupid decisions is inaccurate.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:54 AM on October 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


jessamyn, I recognize that the moderators (if that's who you mean by "we") made a judgment call, which I respect and agree with, based on the way the post would be received. I'm not critiquing that. I'm critiquing that such a call was necessary in the first place based on the way the community (not the mods) have decided to receive posts about the occupation. I certainly don't think that the mods are ignorant of the sensitive politics at play or whatever.

And actually, worse than the need to remove the OP, I think, is the way that the original poster was treated (by fellow MeFites, not the mods) in this thread for having the temerity to suggest that a harmful politic might be colouring the culture of MeFi. Yes, he called the mods "racist," which was injudicious, but it's not like hyperbole isn't common currency hereabouts. We saw dozens of posters circle the wagons and attack the absurdity, irrationality, hyperemotion and incendiary pose of "under Israeli harassment."

I don't think many here would disagree in principle that that's a form of self-censorship. Don't mention the occupation (notwithstanding the numerous posts which take the occupation up as a principle subject, of which zarq helpfully listed examples). Don't mention it if it makes you angry, don't mention it unless you can appease certain clamouring voices, don't mention it unless you can do it "rationally" (sic), etc. If, as a community, you want to make that choice, fine. But it's a problem.
posted by Catchfire at 10:36 AM on October 3, 2012


Don't mention it if it makes you angry, don't mention it unless you can appease certain clamouring voices, don't mention it unless you can do it "rationally" (sic), etc.

The thing is, in this particular post it was really "don't mention it as the lede if your post is actually about this other thing." There's probably a way to craft a reasonable post talking about Palestinian educational opportunities or the occupation or canes for blind people or kids being precocious, and it's conceivable that one could get all of those topics into one post that wasn't an instant derail, but this was not that post.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 11:42 AM on October 3, 2012


Catchfire, unless I'm misreading you (entirely possible) you seem to perhaps be misunderstanding the mission of Metafilter, at least to my understanding. The aim of Metafilter proper is to share interesting things found on the Web, not to act as an advocacy site for particular political viewpoints. Editorializing has always, at least in the six years I've been a member, been frowned upon as a framing device for a post, regardless of whether or not the majority of Metafilter members happen to agree on the point.

You seem to want an exception to this in cases where the "good" and "bad" guys in a political conflict are, to your view, clearly, objectively evident (or at least seem to be claiming it is a blight on Metafilter that this isn't allowed). This is a classic case where what you seem to be viewing as a bug is what many of us see as a feature.
posted by The Gooch at 11:50 AM on October 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


I understand that Metafilter likes to think of itself as politically neutral (see, for example, this post). I argued above that this is not the case (and, in fact, I believe it to be impossible).

If, for example, we would see a post about piracy laws or some limitation to freedom of information by the government, this would not raise a clamour, backed by consensus, that the post was being deliberately incendiary or unfairly harsh on the Republican or Democratic politician responsible for such a law. Of course some posters might feel that way and say so, but such a post is extremely unlikely to be removed via general will because of the kind of minor editorializing (i.e. "harassment") we see in the OP. I would suggest that there is a "good" vs "bad" guy dynamic on MeFi which suits the majority of the members.

I live in the real world and I know all too well the perils of discussing I/P in other contexts. I wish it was a given everywhere that Israel is unjustly occupying Palestine; I also know that this is not the case, nor is it likely to change here. But what is MeTa for if not to express wishes that things could and should be different, often in the face of widespread support for the status quo?
posted by Catchfire at 1:48 PM on October 3, 2012


If, for example, we would see a post about piracy laws or some limitation to freedom of information by the government, this would not raise a clamour, backed by consensus, that the post was being deliberately incendiary or unfairly harsh on the Republican or Democratic politician responsible for such a law.

We have removed rather a lot of posts on the subject of piracy laws for being incendiary. We remove incendiary posts on every topic with regularity, and we generally regret it when we don't. The issue isn't the subject, the issue is the framing. I/P requires more careful framing to rise above the minimum inflammability requirement, as do a number of other topics.

And yeah, if your real objection is that not everyone on Metafilter agrees with you, that's not moderation issue so much as it's a "Metafilter is a generalist site" issue. It's going to be true of pretty much every subject ever, including the ones (like sexism, racism, etc) that do in fact have a firmly-enforced moderation angle.

(Which, to reiterate, I/P doesn't. I have no idea what my colleagues' positions are on the subject, and I personally am militantly oblivious about it, because it's the only way to survive family get-togethers.)
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 2:03 PM on October 3, 2012


Catchfire: I wish it was a given everywhere that Israel is unjustly occupying Palestine; I also know that this is not the case, nor is it likely to change here. But what is MeTa for if not to express wishes that things could and should be different, often in the face of widespread support for the status quo?

FWIW, I probably largely agree with you on I/P, but your overly simplistic "all right-thinking people should agree with me" attitude is pretty offputting.
posted by Rock Steady at 2:16 PM on October 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Catchfire: "If, for example, we would see a post about piracy laws or some limitation to freedom of information by the government, this would not raise a clamour, backed by consensus, that the post was being deliberately incendiary or unfairly harsh on the Republican or Democratic politician responsible for such a law."

Since you're using this to parallel the I/P situation, are you under the impression that there is a consensus here that the post in question was unfairly harsh to Israel? If so, that's definitely not the impression I get. I don't think there's a "consensus" (in the sense of "every single person agreeing"), but I get the impression that the vast majority think the word "harassment" is fair and accurate, but that it would start an enormous flamewar between the majority who believe that, and the minority who do not, and thus is not a net positive for the site.
posted by Bugbread at 2:42 PM on October 3, 2012


I get the impression that the vast majority think the word "harassment" is fair and accurate, but that it would start an enormous flamewar between the majority who believe that, and the minority who do not, and thus is not a net positive for the site.

That's a fairly accurate distinction, Bugbread. So let me modify my statement to making the point that rather than collectively decide that those who wish to start a flamewar about something the majority of members believe is "fair and accurate," we demur to a small group of dissenters (who also happen to represent the views of a very powerful nation-state) and self-censor. I score that a loss, personally.

if your real objection is that not everyone on Metafilter agrees with you

I find that a rather simplistic caricature of the argument I am trying to make here in good faith. I know that not everyone on Metafilter agrees with me. That's rather the point.

your overly simplistic "all right-thinking people should agree with me" attitude is pretty offputting.

Thank you for the lesson in politesse. Consider it filed for future consideration. Personally, what I find "offputting" is tacit approval of a violent and shameless occupation of a vilified people. But then again, different strokes...
posted by Catchfire at 3:52 PM on October 3, 2012


Personally, what I find "offputting" is tacit approval of a violent and shameless occupation of a vilified people.

That's very interesting. Perhaps you should post about it. On your own blog.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 7:21 PM on October 3, 2012 [4 favorites]


That's a fairly accurate distinction, Bugbread. So let me modify my statement to making the point that rather than collectively decide that those who wish to start a flamewar about something the majority of members believe is "fair and accurate," we demur to a small group of dissenters (who also happen to represent the views of a very powerful nation-state) and self-censor. I score that a loss, personally.

This "small group of dissenters" are good people otherwise, though, so why not display a little bit of patience when discussing this particular subject (that is, Israel and Palestine in general, not the subject of this particular post) with them? I don't see why we should count this as a loss.
posted by daniel_charms at 12:27 AM on October 4, 2012


so why not display a little bit of patience when discussing this particular subject

it's the same argument you hear all the time regarding misogyny and feminism. calls to be "patient" are part of the oppression as well.
posted by cupcake1337 at 5:00 AM on October 4, 2012


it's the same argument you hear all the time regarding misogyny and feminism. calls to be "patient" are part of the oppression as well.

I'm not asking you to be patient towards towards Israeli harrassment, anti-Palestinian sentiments, or even disruptive behaviour by some folks. I'm only asking you to be patient towards these folks themselves because 1) they are not fully aware of what they do when they do by expressing a certain ideological position (because this is how ideologies work) and 2) I truly believe they are not defined by their position on one particular topic and can actually change it.
posted by daniel_charms at 5:36 AM on October 4, 2012


Mikoroshi, can you explain what you meant by "constant Israeli harassment"? The PalSolidarity link only complains about the road to Nablus being closed off three times a week - something which can hardly be described as "constant". In any event I find it hard to square their allegation about the road closure with Wikipedia's statement that visits to Joseph's Tomb under IDF guard are only allowed monthly - and apparently those visits take place at night.

More generally, UNRWA's website listing Palestinian refugee camps identifies Askar as one of those under exclusive Palestinian control. UNRWA's detailed description of the camp does say that the unofficial extension ("New Askar") is partially within the area of joint Israeli/Palestinian control, but the UNRWA buildings (including the girls' school) are within the camp proper. In any event, there's no evidence from your links that Israel has anything to do with the camp at all. Even if your lede hadn't been inflammatory, I think it's very poorly supported by the facts.
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:42 AM on October 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


For all the donuts in the world, please do not try and have a proxy conversation about I/P in this thread now.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:32 AM on October 6, 2012


I will accept your challenge and will not have that conversation. Please send donuts to my PO box. Thank you.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:35 AM on October 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Cortex wrote: For all the donuts in the world [...]

No thanks. I've seen that episode. Doesn't it end with a voiceover something like this?
The poisoned rain had fallen and the searing firestorms had come and gone, but in the depths of the US Central Commissary the machines purred and the air remained sweet. And in the echoing corridors one man remained, madly running through aisle after aisle of pallets marked "MRE - DONUTS". He finally had all the donuts he wanted. All the donuts in the world!"

posted by Joe in Australia at 8:06 PM on October 6, 2012


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