Pony Request: Delete Notifications March 21, 2013 7:18 AM   Subscribe

Sometimes, coming into a thread and seeing a comment a mod has made, there's confusion - it seems to have little relation to the comments immediately above it. Often, but not always, this means stuff has been deleted, but it's hard to tell. How hard would it be to implement delete notifications or a way to show that comments had been deleted in-thread? Is this a thing other people would find useful?

This was mentioned a bit in some separate MeTas of late, so I thought I'd pull it from the surroundings and leave it as a clear thing to talk about. I'm not suggesting that we should be able to see what the deleted comments were, just that they existed. There was also I believe a suggestion that when you were about to post in a thread that had been updated by a delete, something would notify to that effect.

I think this would be helpful for a lot of reasons, not least that people wouldn't be responding to deleted comments, which then in turn need to be deleted or seem really, really confusing. Another thing is that I think it dilutes mod "suggestions" when you're not sure if they're addressed to the people whose comments remain in the thread, or to other, more egregious violators, that are gone.

Thoughts?
posted by corb to Feature Requests at 7:18 AM (123 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

Mods used to (but don't seem to anymore) include an "X comments deleted" aside in those mod notes.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 7:23 AM on March 21, 2013


(And for my money, I think it's good to have those asides, because it would clarify when mods are saying the existing comments are skirting the line, and when they're saying "we deleted comments that did [bad thing], now don't do it again," which in turn is helpful for newcomers to the discussion who need to be able to read the room, as it were.)
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 7:25 AM on March 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


You're always welcome to ask us (contact form is best, in-thread is suboptimal) if something has been deleted if you're confused. We have to draw the line between calling people out in our mod comments by name which is not great for what I hope are obvious reasons, and trying to leave a general note for folks to "do better" Most of the time it works out fine. Occasionally there is confusion. Usually that confusion is by a very small set of people who seem to think that we are often referring to them when we are not. But yeah leaving a note that we did that is what we do more often than not. Automated indicators of comment deletions are a non-started and fall into the "asked and answered" category.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:28 AM on March 21, 2013


Sorry, Jessamyn, I had seemed to recall from that other MeTa that was closed that there was a suggestion for people curious about it to open a new one specifically dealing with this aspect.

Was there a specific move away from identifying whether comments have been deleted or not in mod comments, though?
posted by corb at 7:45 AM on March 21, 2013


For me when that sort of blip happens, I just keep reading and don't give it all another thought.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 7:48 AM on March 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Was there a specific move away from identifying whether comments have been deleted or not in mod comments, though?

No. We go back and forth on it. Sometimes people get grouchy when you specifically refer to them or their deleted comments (or we get MeTa posts "What was deleted?") and sometimes if we don't leave notes people get confused and/or irritated. We try to ask ourselves "Will letting people know that we deleted comments here help or hurt this discussion?"

My preference is to often let shitty comments stand but leave a note that says that they're not okay people need to not continue down that road but in a lot of cases it depends on the specific users since some people have made it clear to us in the past that they will completely ignore (or argue with) mod notes and then you're in an awkward situation where you're arguing in-thread with someone because you don't want to keep deleting their comments but they insist on arguing with the "Comment deleted, please cut it out" notes that we leave.

In almost all cases, we moderate to help the conversation continue to flow smoothly and very rarely do we moderate because there are things you Just Can't Say here. However there are definitely some people who see us letting a comment go undeleted as some sort of sanctioning of that sort of comment and so we really try to think these things through if we can. At the same time in fast moving threads silently plucking out a totally obnoxious comment can keep an entire thread from being ruined.

Most people never have a comment deleted from MetaFilter. We feel like there are a short list of people who have things deleted with some regularity but who aren't people who we would ban for just being Bad at MetaFilter. We don't, however, feel that those people need an awful lot of prompting from us on how to be Better at MetaFilter because they have often indicated, specifically or generally, that they don't care.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:52 AM on March 21, 2013 [4 favorites]


> Thoughts?

Yes.
posted by ardgedee at 7:55 AM on March 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sometimes people get grouchy when you specifically refer to them or their deleted comments

Oh man. Deletion is a gift, it's unearned, like grace. It's a way of obscuring how stupid and petty we all can be. Why would people argue with deletions? It's like the infamous self-callout MeTas that rarely occur: "I said this stupid thing, and I want everyone to know, dammit!"
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:56 AM on March 21, 2013 [15 favorites]


[comment deleted. Let's not do that [comment deleted] thing, shall we?]
posted by octobersurprise at 7:57 AM on March 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


jessamyn: "Automated indicators of comment deletions are a non-started and fall into the "asked and answered" category."

I think we should post a banner at the top of every single FPP:

MINUTES WITHOUT A COMMENT DELETION: [6].
COMMENTS DELETED: [2]
MOD NOTE: [Cut it out or I will totally banhammer the lot of you, I swear. ~Taz]

Consider the possibilities!
posted by zarq at 7:57 AM on March 21, 2013 [31 favorites]


I think we should post a banner at the top of every single FPP:

With a "sad trombone" every time the clock resets.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:02 AM on March 21, 2013 [18 favorites]


Yes! Or Darth Vader's voice saying, "YOU HAVE FAILED ME."
posted by zarq at 8:07 AM on March 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


It would be a good excuse to bring back the marquee tag....
posted by TangerineGurl at 8:08 AM on March 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


I thought this was going to be about getting notified when one of your comments is deleted. Which I would love, so I can keep following threads I've been kicked out of.
posted by DoubleLune at 8:33 AM on March 21, 2013


Oh man. Deletion is a gift, it's unearned, like grace. It's a way of obscuring how stupid and petty we all can be. Why would people argue with deletions?
posted by the man of twists and turns at 3:56 PM on March 21 [+] [!]


Because what you just said simply isn't true. It's highly selective propaganda for the pro-censorship brigade, and those of us who think the mods have pretty much gone deletion-happy will continue to have a problem with it, and to say so. That's why.
posted by Decani at 8:45 AM on March 21, 2013 [5 favorites]


*gives Decani a big ol' hug*
posted by carsonb at 8:49 AM on March 21, 2013 [11 favorites]


Most people never have a comment deleted from MetaFilter
We are the 1% are we a cabal yet.
posted by adamvasco at 8:52 AM on March 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


I like it when mods clarify that comments were deleted. When there's a general "Let's answer the question, shall we?" I'm like, oh shit, is that about me? Did I not answer the question? I thought I was answering the question. Do I need to take another stab at this? Maybe I can do a better job of answering the question.


Esp when the mod note is shortly after my comment.

After a year or so of this I've relaxed a bit, but it still throws me sometimes.
posted by bunderful at 8:55 AM on March 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


[redacted]
posted by mazola at 9:03 AM on March 21, 2013


A deleted comment should be replaced by an animated GIF of something blowing up.
posted by mazola at 9:04 AM on March 21, 2013


Decani: "Because what you just said simply isn't true. It's highly selective propaganda for the pro-censorship brigade, and those of us who think the mods have pretty much gone deletion-happy will continue to have a problem with it, and to say so. That's why."

There are days when I wonder whether mathowie and pb are randomly serving different versions of the site to different users. Like, there's a Fascist MetaFilter and a Liberal MetaFilter and a CrazyPants MetaFilter, all of which are selectively modified, and they get cycled.

Because reading things like this makes me seriously wonder what site you're reading that I'm not.
posted by scrump at 9:08 AM on March 21, 2013 [29 favorites]


Can we have something like Metafilter Deleted Posts, where deleted comments can go wander around for eternity? But not grouped by FPP, just in order of deletion, so it would just read as one very long and fighty bizarro metafilter thread.
posted by Kabanos at 9:08 AM on March 21, 2013 [20 favorites]


the man of twists and turns: "Why would people argue with deletions?"

I have occasionally acted like a complete idiot over memail to cortex (or one of the other mods) over a comment deletion. Because someone else got the last word and I didn't think that was fair. My ego getting the better of me. I think I've only done it two or three times but I've always regretted it afterwards.

It can be frustrating to have a comment deleted. Or a post. It's not always easy to step back, breathe and try to remove your emotions and ego from the equation.

Kabanos: "Can we have something like Metafilter Deleted Posts, where deleted comments can go wander around for eternity? But not grouped by FPP, just in order of deletion, so it would just read as one very long and fighty bizarro metafilter thread."

Only if they're posted without attribution, please. ;)
posted by zarq at 9:12 AM on March 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yeah, there have been several recent mod notes where I wasn't sure if some shit had already gone down and been deleted or if the mods were jumping the gun and preemptively trying to keep shit from going down. It's confusing.
posted by nooneyouknow at 9:15 AM on March 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


where deleted comments can go wander around for eternity?

Craigslist has a place like this called the Island of Misfit Threads or something and I don't actually think it's a good solution for anything. Stuff that should be speedy-deleted (people posting folks' personal information, for example) would then still be live there in addition to just random "quit fucking around" deletions.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:25 AM on March 21, 2013


I understand how leaving "X comments deleted" in the thread itself would be disruptive. I don't think that's a surmountable problem, except maybe if it only showed if a user clicks a button on the bottom of the thread or something. The point of deleting is to make it gone. Leaving a trace just continues the disruption.

Would it be possible to auto-send a mefimail to someone when their comment is deleted, as notification to the offender but no one else? Or would that spiral out of control with people pestering the mods for explanation?

As for the mod notes, it can be confusing when I'm not sure if the comments still present are over the line, or if comments over the line were deleted. It makes a difference for gauging acceptable tone. More clarity in the wording of notes would be nice but I understand that's sometimes a lot to ask in a fast-moving thread.
posted by daveliepmann at 9:25 AM on March 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Would it be possible to auto-send a mefimail to someone when their comment is deleted

No. This is also an asked-and-answered request. The general explanation is that most people never have a comment deleted. For people who we think will be confused or not get what's going on, we'll often drop them a personal email. However the majority of our comment deletions, other than spammers, are people doing that THING again, whatever that thing is. Opening up conversations with them about it is not a good use of our time and, more importantly, won't change the actual behavior that the deletion was designed to solve: keeping conversation flowing smoothly. Opening up a side conversation with a user who may already be stressed or unhappy for various reasons is really not something we want to be doing. We are contactable 24/7 and someone will get back to you within minutes if you have a question.

We accept that there are people who are MeFi members who either don't know or don't care to know what they can do to keep their comments from being deleted just as they accept that they may not agree with the moderation here. We'd like more in-depth conversations about those things to happen either via the contact form (so that all the mods can participate and users don't get the feeling that one mod has it in for them) or in MeTa where people can get feedback that's not from the mods about whatever it was that caused the deletions in the first place.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:31 AM on March 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


You know how when you link to an anchor in the middle of the page (like this), a little triangle points to the beginning of the linked comment? It would be great if anchor tags for deleted comments were preserved somehow, even if only to tell us that we're looking for a comment that's no longer there.

Without such anchors, there are two problems. Clicking on the timestamp for a comment you don't know has been deleted, and then refreshing the page, causes you to be deposited to a somewhat random location in the thread. Additionally, if you're clicking a link to a deleted comment from outside the thread, you end up at the top of the thread, with no idea whether the comment was deleted or someone just put in an incorrect URL.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 9:41 AM on March 21, 2013 [6 favorites]


All fairly sensible, except the idea that most people never have a comment deleted. That just boggles me.
posted by MartinWisse at 9:43 AM on March 21, 2013 [4 favorites]

It's highly selective propaganda for the pro-censorship brigade, and those of us who think the mods have pretty much gone deletion-happy will continue to have a problem with it, and to say so.
God-damned seconded.
posted by MrMoonPie at 9:44 AM on March 21, 2013


It's highly selective propaganda for the pro-censorship brigade

Is this a brigade that anyone can join, or is it invitation only?
posted by octobersurprise at 9:55 AM on March 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


pro-censorship brigade

I'm pretty willing to grant that other people experience deletions on the site differently, and want a place where the mods are less interventionist. This is not generally my position or feeling, but there are folks I like who feel that way and I can respect it as a valid position on what would make Metafilter better. I have a much harder time doing that when comment and thread deletions are referred to as "censorship," and the people who generally support current site police are described as "pro-censorship." Not only is it hyperbole that seems to fail to account for what's actually going on, it's a deliberately provocative and insulting characterization seemingly meant to deride more than it's meant to argue (or even represent) a position we should take seriously.
posted by OmieWise at 10:17 AM on March 21, 2013 [27 favorites]


I actually thought that the "pro-censorship brigade" comment in this thread was sarcasm.
posted by gauche at 10:19 AM on March 21, 2013


> I actually thought that the "pro-censorship brigade" comment in this thread was sarcasm.

Me too, until I saw the "posted by" line.
posted by languagehat at 10:24 AM on March 21, 2013 [17 favorites]


The deleted threads script abruptly stopped working on on work machine. Like, just now. I bet this meTa is some kind of jinx.
posted by rtha at 10:39 AM on March 21, 2013


gauche: "I actually thought that the "pro-censorship brigade" comment in this thread was sarcasm."

The brigade's flag has a big blue boot stamping on a green comment on a nice, professional field of white... forever.
posted by zarq at 10:39 AM on March 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


those of us who think the mods have pretty much gone deletion-happy will continue to have a problem with it, and to say so.

I've told you before, it's not possible to storm off in a huff if you never actually leave.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:42 AM on March 21, 2013 [12 favorites]


The deleted threads script abruptly stopped working on on work machine. Like, just now. I bet this meTa is some kind of jinx.

still works on my iMac... They've singled you out!
posted by HuronBob at 10:50 AM on March 21, 2013


It's reasonable to disagree with site policies and still stay.
posted by MrMoonPie at 10:50 AM on March 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


still works on my iMac... They've singled you out!

I know - it's weird! It still works on my laptop (Mac). Mod Windows censorship conspiracy!
posted by rtha at 10:56 AM on March 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


"There are days when I wonder whether mathowie and pb are randomly serving different versions of the site to different users. Like, there's a Fascist MetaFilter and a Liberal MetaFilter and a CrazyPants MetaFilter, all of which are selectively modified, and they get cycled."

It's A|B testing.

THANKS OBAMA
posted by klangklangston at 10:57 AM on March 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


If you're not seeing TimeCube MetaFilter, you're being educated stupid.
posted by griphus at 11:02 AM on March 21, 2013


klangklangston: "It's A|B testing.

THANKS OBAMA
"

THBNKS OABMB
posted by boo_radley at 11:37 AM on March 21, 2013 [24 favorites]


HAM BOAT SANK
posted by griphus at 11:38 AM on March 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


It's highly selective propaganda for the pro-censorship brigade, and those of us who think the mods have pretty much gone deletion-happy will continue to have a problem with it, and to say so. That's why.

Keep fighting the good fight!
posted by axiom at 11:42 AM on March 21, 2013


I've told you before, it's not possible to storm off in a huff if you never actually leave.

Maybe you could show us how it's done.
posted by Tanizaki at 11:45 AM on March 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


Maybe you could show us how it's done.

Wow, there is absolutely no call for that sort of retort here. Is that really what you want your contribution to this discussion to be?
posted by carsonb at 11:58 AM on March 21, 2013 [13 favorites]


Ain't no thing, Carson, I'm sure Tanizaki will tell you I'm too dumb to understand what he's saying anyway.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:00 PM on March 21, 2013


Man that 'delete' tag just sends up the Shoulder Chip beacon something crazy doesn't it.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:26 PM on March 21, 2013 [6 favorites]


It's practically the Chips Ahoy brigade.
posted by octobersurprise at 12:29 PM on March 21, 2013


Ouch. This is getting ugly.

Redirect!

Mods, is there a way for you all to track how many comments were deleted on a given day? Does that option persist over time?

I'm asking because I think it's pretty obvious we've got widely diverging opinions in this thread on whether you guys are deleting right and left, willy nilly, these days.

For the record, my take is that as the user base has grown, so have the deletions, which makes sense, but I also feel we have more "proactive" deletions now that we have several mods helping out, more, "Uh oh, this is going to go bad real fast, so I will snuff out anything that might lead to a problem."

I believe those judgment calls come from a sincere desire to keep the shitstorms off of Metafilter as well as an understandable reluctance at having to wallow through personal attacks and ugly prejudices yet again. I empathize with the good intentions behind the calls.

I can understand, though, how some see the winnowing as too heavy-handed, because you are basically solving a problem that doesn't actually exist at the time. That's where all the cries of censorship, thought police, fascism and crushing the common man under the weighted yoke of oppression come from.

I think. ;)

Anyway, I really am curious about the volume of comments that get deleted, seeing as how we know whenever a post is deleted, but frequently don't when a comment is, as corb points out, and that makes threads confusing and tricksy to navigate at times.

Could cortex or jessamyn or someone with that info please weigh in with some actual hard data, like how many total comments were deleted yesterday, for example (say, noon to noon, site time, March 20th, for clarity's sake)? No thread or user IDs required.

Surely no one could be offended by that much, right? And then maybe we can look at that data again in a few months, or something, for comparison's sake. I don't think the infodump has that info now, does it? Could it be added?
posted by misha at 12:45 PM on March 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


That's where all the cries of censorship, thought police, fascism and crushing the common man under the weighted yoke of oppression come from.

More realistically, those comments come from a place of boredom, hyperbole, and a pretty hilarious set of priorities.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:49 PM on March 21, 2013 [11 favorites]


More realistically, those comments come from a place of boredom, hyperbole, and a pretty hilarious set of priorities.

Even more realistically, those comments come from those who do not adhere to the MetaFilter View.
posted by Tanizaki at 12:58 PM on March 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yes! Or Darth Vader's voice saying, "YOU HAVE FAILED ME."

BUT NOT FOR THE LAST TIME!
posted by yoink at 12:59 PM on March 21, 2013


We just went over this recently.
As much as I hate to encourage y2karl, who really should go for a walk, the percentage of comments deleted per day has in fact doubled from .5% to 1% over the last three years.

(the graph goes from January 2009 through three days ago.)

And now I'm going to set an example for other people by going to bed.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 4:49 AM on March 18 [1 favorite +] [!]

...

"Well, having the site covered 24/7 has added to the number of deletions. I'm not sure what changes there have been, if any, in the level of site activity.

But anyway, just for a general idea of what's happening currently: I just added up all deletions from all mods for Metafilter blue for the past two full months and it averages out to 4.66 deletions per shift: that's three 8-hour shifts a day, so around 14 deleted comments on the blue per day, which includes all "please delete my comment" requests, commented in the wrong thread, double comments, "here's the fix for my typo / my link" once we fixed that, spam, etc. I feel like we skew much more to adding a note to a discussion when it starts to go south rather than just deleting comments.
posted by taz (staff) at 5:02 AM on March 18 [4 favorites +] [!]

And, oops... I left someone called "mathowie" out of my mod deletion count, which adds another half-deletion a day for that two month period, so more like 14.5 per day.
posted by taz (staff) at 6:01 AM on March 18 [+] [!]"

posted by zarq at 1:01 PM on March 21, 2013


I don't see any cries of thought police and fascism. The "lol mods are literally Hitler" is a common gambit in these types of discussions and it irks me how it's used to shut down legitimate debate.

I've been a little wary of the extent of moderation here ever since, a year or two back, one of the new mods went rogue and deleted scores of comments in a single thread. Mistakes happen, after all, but the problematic part for me was that there was no effective system for alerting users to whether they were happening. In short, if it was happening now, how would anyone really know?

There have been some insanely dramatic moderation wars over on reddit (LGBT sub I'm looking at you) but at all times users at least had a good sense of the extent of material that was being deleted, even if the comments themselves were gone.
posted by dontjumplarry at 1:04 PM on March 21, 2013


Could cortex or jessamyn or someone with that info please weigh in with some actual hard data, like how many total comments were deleted yesterday, for example (say, noon to noon, site time, March 20th, for clarity's sake)? No thread or user IDs required.

As zarq said, we've gone over that fairly recently, but we could do the numbers again. However, just choosing a random day and looking at it to learn something about trends isn't really the way to do it. cortex will be around tomorrow (or you can drop us a note to the contact form) and could run some numbers if people think that's a real concern.

Mistakes happen, after all, but the problematic part for me was that there was no effective system for alerting users to whether this was happening. In short, if it was happening now, how would anyone really know?


The system that alerted people that was happening last time (i.e. some people were just reloading the thread via recent comments would show all the deleted comments when compared to a fully-reloaded page) still works this time. Mods make mistakes and that was one of them. We keep an eye on that sort of thing and users can see when that sort of thing is going on as well.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:09 PM on March 21, 2013


those comments come from those who do not adhere to the MetaFilter View.

And who are bored, hyperbolic, and pretty hilarious.
posted by octobersurprise at 1:10 PM on March 21, 2013


Thanks jessamyn. I didn't realise that.
posted by dontjumplarry at 1:12 PM on March 21, 2013


Thanks, zarq and jessamyn, I missed that update by taz. As I said, I don't have a problem with the moderation. I'm just suggesting that transparency is the best way to nip those complaints of "censorship" in the bud.
posted by misha at 1:14 PM on March 21, 2013


I've been a little wary of the extent of moderation here ever since, a year or two back, one of the new mods went rogue and deleted scores of comments in a single thread.

what
posted by rtha at 1:20 PM on March 21, 2013 [4 favorites]


Even more realistically, those comments come from those who do not adhere to the MetaFilter View.

Yes I can see how propaganda and censorship are reasonable claims to make because you disagree with a group of people about which television shows are best.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:23 PM on March 21, 2013


In a post-apocalyptic landscape, a new mod separated from her warrior bloodline must travel through the ruins of a thread-city gone bad. Her only chance: to delete threads to survive. Will she make it through?

Find out in ROGUE MOD. Coming soon to theaters near you.
posted by corb at 1:23 PM on March 21, 2013 [5 favorites]


misha: "I missed that update by taz."

Not surprising! It was buried in that thread, and the thread was closed pretty early in the morning.

This isn't directed at you specifically, misha: One of the things taz mentioned is that with more mods, there's more coverage. It used to be that hardly anything would get deleted at say, 3am Eastern time. And the mods have an informal policy not to delete comments that have been heavily quoted and linked to, unless there's really good reason. Because removing them at that point, (when they've become entrenched, so to speak,) can make a thread completely incoherent.

So back in the old days, someone might have made a nasty comment at 3am and if it had received many replies before a mod had seen it, it would most likely have survived. We used to have meta threads asking why stuff hadn't been deleted and the reply would usually be, "it's nighttime in the US. The mods are probably asleep. They'll see it when they wake up."

Nowadays, there is 24/7 mod coverage. So comments like that can be deleted before they wreck a thread.

This change contributes to the sense that Mefi used to be less strict about deletions. It wasn't. The mods aren't less strict. Or more strict. They're still following the same guidelines they always have. Stuff that could derail a thread or that belongs in Metatalk gets deleted from the Blue. People being vicious to each other gets deleted. And comments that don't answer the question being asked get deleted from the Green. But because someone from the mod team is monitoring the site all the time now, stuff that might have slipped past the radar and be left up is now being nipped in the bud.

So yes, more deletions. But not a change in policy.
posted by zarq at 1:29 PM on March 21, 2013


one of the new mods went rogue

I knew Sarah Palin was looking for work, but ... wow.
posted by octobersurprise at 1:29 PM on March 21, 2013


what

Linked above but here's my summary:

There was a long MeTa about it . But it was basically an overnight thread that turned into a not-that-problematic lulzfest. taz, on one of her early shifts when she was new here, was trying to keep it on track and deleted a bunch of jokey comments which was noticed and objected to.

It came to MeTa, we had a long discussion about it where, to my read, the upshot was people agreeing and understanding that it was a case of new mod good faith overzealousness combined with being in the bad situation of not really having anyone to ask about it. She made a judgment call. We give the mods a lot of autonomy here. It was understandable, to my mind, and forgivable (and hasn't happened since, even with two new mods) but MeTa has a long memory.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:32 PM on March 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


rtha, I think dontjumplarry is referring to that time about a year ago when there was a thread about a map and people kept making fart jokes and one of the new mods started deleting the fart jokes and then everybody was like OMG CENSORSHIP YOU KNOW SHAKESPEARE WAS NOT ABOVE A FART JOKE HIMSELF ONCE IN A WHILE and it was evident that our Sacred MetaFilterian Trust was misplaced and had been abused.

Heads rolled LOLled.

ETA: Or what jessamyn said.
posted by gauche at 1:33 PM on March 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's not shocking at all that the total number of deletions is so low. The vast majority of the threads are on entirely non-controversial subjects and you would have to work pretty hard to come up with something that would need to be deleted.

I would be interested to see numbers on how the amounts of deletion have changed on controversial topics specifically, but that would be much more difficult to quantify.

Personally I would like a comment deleted notice to remain in the thread for each deletion, but I understand that isn't going to occur.
posted by Drinky Die at 1:33 PM on March 21, 2013


It came to MeTa, we had a long discussion about it where,

Oh, I remember that now. Thanks.
posted by rtha at 1:35 PM on March 21, 2013


Automated indicators of comment deletions are a non-started and fall into the "asked and answered" category.

Anybody got a link to the definitive meta on this topic? Google-fu failing me.
posted by amorphatist at 1:52 PM on March 21, 2013


Is it theoretically possible to have a deleted comment script the same way in which we have a deleted fpp one?
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 1:52 PM on March 21, 2013


maybe.
posted by clavdivs at 1:54 PM on March 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


nevermind
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 1:55 PM on March 21, 2013


Maybe you could show us how it's done.

Wow. It is just me or is that dick comment carrying on a disagreement from the blue?
posted by gaspode at 1:58 PM on March 21, 2013


perhaps.
posted by clavdivs at 2:00 PM on March 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'd yoink some of my comments too.
posted by jeffburdges at 2:17 PM on March 21, 2013


jeffburdges, we deleted a variant of that comment as basically not appropriate in another MeFi thread, it would be awesome if you could just leave it alone.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:19 PM on March 21, 2013


Just demonstrating that it's possible to notice when comments are deleted. :)
posted by jeffburdges at 2:26 PM on March 21, 2013


I do have one specific request, (though I might have missed it already being addressed amidst all the witty "fuck you"s being tossed about here): If comments are in fact deleted, can any mod message include the words "Comments deleted"?

It doesn't have to say how many, but sometimes I see something like [Let's do better.] and I get a little lost trying to see what's wrong with the comments just above it. If I see "comments deleted" it's like a "expect bumpy road surface" sign — I know that the narrative might not quite sync-up. Or does a mod comment *always* indicate that comments have been deleted?
posted by benito.strauss at 2:40 PM on March 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


It would be sort of sensible if a deleted post did not get the "Hey you made a post" email but not a Big Thing.
posted by theora55 at 2:53 PM on March 21, 2013




It is very hard to admit fault when under attack. It's very human to get upset and have a hard time backing down when just one person, if not when the whole torch and pitchfork crowd du jour shows up. Everyone on the attack demands an apology but in my experience those under attack have a very hard time apologizing except begrudgingly and self-servingly, if at all. It is very hard to back down when people come at you online.

Mods included. They make mistakes just like the commoners and then confabulate explanations after the fact when they get their backs up and feel criticized, because, to all intents and purposes, they default to the Never Wrong Never Apologize position, just like the commoners. I have seen mods in the past get frustrated and pissed and go after people unfairly and do things that cross the line, like referring to private emails and such. And get called out for it. And have a hard time dealing with criticism.

As for leaving MetaTalk posts up and then closing them, I remember back in the day when jonson was stalking me from thread to thread and it got to me and finally I freaked out and posted a MetaTalk about it, which then disappeared. Which was fine with me. I was upset and regretted the post.

It seems sometimes, though, that the powers that be feel certain people have to be taught a lesson and leave things so the torch and pitchfork inclined can go after said people. Which would be wrong and would be wrong even if it worked both ways. Which is not necessarily true but a feeling one is left with sometimes.
posted by y2karl at 3:40 PM on March 21, 2013 [4 favorites]


Torches, pitchforks, the Mods vs Commoners framing....I think your lens is different from mine.
posted by lazaruslong at 3:48 PM on March 21, 2013


It would be sort of sensible if a deleted post did not get the "Hey you made a post" email but not a Big Thing.

The problem with this is that the "Hey you made a post" MeFi mail is automated and happens immediately after you post. If it gets deleted as a double five minutes later, there's no way to go and undo that email, plus it gives posters a way to find their deleted thread again when it's gone from the front page (so they can read the reason).
posted by mathowie (staff) at 3:52 PM on March 21, 2013


Back when comments being deleted became an actual thing, I militated strongly for some very subtle indicator -- not attributable to the user whose comment had been deleted, just a place marker. My thinking was that silent deletion was destructive to trust and therefore damaging to community.

I'm not entirely sure if I've changed my mind, but I think that if I was right, I was right only at smaller scale than MeFi currently is. I don't think Team MeFi has hit on exactly the right formula yet in terms of designing the mechanical interactions around moderator intervention, but I do think it's pretty close.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:55 PM on March 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Which is not necessarily true but a feeling one is left with sometimes.

It's not true, we don't single people out or purposely leave them to be attacked by others. The way we delete stuff is pretty clear and cut and dry in my mind. People sometimes rarely say crappy stuff or introduce a derail that has nothing to do with anything, then often people flag it and we see it. If it is deemed better for the thread to remove it, we remove it but if several people have already quoted it and we're seeing the flag 12hrs after it was made, we usually don't remove it.

So I can see why you might think the moderation is inconsistent, but we're trying to ruffle the fewest feathers and pick our battles and often it's when flagging lags behind and the damage is already done.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 3:56 PM on March 21, 2013


"Craigslist has a place like this called the Island of Misfit Threads or something and I don't actually think it's a good solution for anything. Stuff that should be speedy-deleted (people posting folks' personal information, for example) would then still be live there in addition to just random "quit fucking around" deletions."

There could totally be two buttons though right? One that would be a deletion button for things that don't belong on metafilter for various normal reasons, and the other could be the memory hole for things like personal information that don't at all belong on metafilter and absolutely should be killed with fire. At the moment we are stuck with the memory hole, which gets freaky for people with bad memories, confusing for people trying to figure out whats going on, and scary for people who like transparency when there arn't good arguments against it.

If the 'non-memory holed' deleted comments were treated the exact same except for being indexed in the infodump - it would be really unlikely to result in pretty much any extra het up caterwauling for you guys as that only ever gets updated at best once a month, it would be datawankable, and we could get a chance to look back and think yeah maybe I shouldn't have done that.
posted by Blasdelb at 3:58 PM on March 21, 2013


Someone that worked on a Slashdot-style site once told me their voting system was more trouble than it was worth because even though people saying insane things got hidden from everyone with -5 vote counts, it made a permanent home for such thing.

I remember when Slashdot was big and I had nothing to do most days and I'd read every single new thread, and then I'd read threads with my threshold at -10 so I could see everything. Almost every thread included something about Natalie Portman, and how good she looked, when she was going to turn 18, etc, in addition to the N-word bombs everywhere.

Making a place for "non-memory holed" deleted comments makes a permanent home for the type of thing we don't want to have part of MeFi. Sure it'd be hidden from almost everyone, but I'd rather bad stuff go away for good instead of being relegated to some subterranean library.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 4:03 PM on March 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


So...people go back and look to see if their comments were deleted? I guess I never considered that.
posted by davejay at 4:06 PM on March 21, 2013


See, that's how I remember Slashdot reading even at +5.
posted by Drinky Die at 4:17 PM on March 21, 2013 [6 favorites]


I'm actually someone who had a comment deleted and got a really nice note from Jessamyn about it and why, and while part of me wishes the comment would have stood, the fact that I couldn't come up with another way to express myself that abided by her reasons for deleting the first one became a chance for me to rethink what I was trying to communicate.

There are a lot of different ways we refine how we communicate with each other, and I personally think community norms matter. Metafilter is a place where difficult topics can sometimes be hashed out, but the cost of that is the lasting hurt feelings of people involved who disagreed and the disagreement became personal. I'm not sure there's a way to moderate that in any meaningful way, but I wish more people would engage in self-reflection about what they want to communicate, why, and how effective they are. It's a bar I'm trying to raise for myself, and while it is often challenging, I think the end results are valuable.
posted by Deoridhe at 4:30 PM on March 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


If you click "your most recent comment" to continue reading a thread, then you cannot help but notice that comment being deleted because you've lost your bookmark.
posted by jeffburdges at 4:50 PM on March 21, 2013 [4 favorites]


the mods have pretty much gone deletion-happy

I have never seen the mods as deletion-happy. I understand that, in fact, every time they delete a comment, each mod sheds perfect, crystalline tears, like a Pierre et Gilles photoshoot with fewer sailors and slightly less hunkiness.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:25 PM on March 21, 2013 [3 favorites]


I double dog DARE the mods to delete this comment!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:32 PM on March 21, 2013


every time they delete a comment, each mod sheds perfect, crystalline tears

Well, that's because in order to delete comments they have to kill an actual pony. Every. single. time. Why else do you think there's such a pony shortage around here?
posted by yoink at 5:34 PM on March 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's actually unicorn tears, which is why no one believes they exist, because we're so deletion-happy around here, hence, no more wild unicorns.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 5:35 PM on March 21, 2013 [5 favorites]


So...people go back and look to see if their comments were deleted ... ?

I went back to look and see,
if my comment was deleted
when I saw that it was gone,
my soul felt drained, depleted
why had such cruel punishment
upon my head been meted?
so I went straight to Twitter,
and this is what I tweeted:
"the mods at Metafilter,
have censored me, you know!
so cruel and wicked, yes, are they
it's such a bitter blow!
these tyrants of the internet!
yes, they must be unseated!
and ne'er again will my insightful comments be deleted!"
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:41 PM on March 21, 2013 [4 favorites]


Opening up conversations with them about it is not a good use of our time and, more importantly, won't change the actual behavior that the deletion was designed to solve

Quite so. A warped barrel is a fool's frustration.
posted by flabdablet at 5:57 PM on March 21, 2013




It's actually unicorn tears, which is why no one believes they exist

This is true, and verifiable÷, it also goes back a long way, and speaks to a longstanding mystery*; some scholars of internet alternate history suggest that the first script deletions by pre-mods were in the Indus Valley Civilization, Harappan Period, c. 2300 BC, where unicorns horns were the only acceptable tools to use to write (or to destroy what was written, once it had been submitted to clay÷). All that is left today of this legacy are Unicorn Seals, and those who still practice Unicorn Sacrifices.

We are witness to what appears to have been a highly complex (yet seemingly peaceful) society, with craft and skill specialization, long distance trade networks (Quon'seeoys, and SeeDieSwap, MieFie'a'Mall) a civilization that clearly 'had' planning, and social organization, an underlying structure, egalitarian in nature, but in a baffling situation where the elites of the society managed to almost completely mask the archaeological record of their rule (if that even is what it was [many suggest it may likely have operated as a sort of 'Noblesse oblige', 'Mederatiriys were actually part of the community itself, rather than rulers, or outsiders demanding taxes, levees and services, they were embedded members, co-equally invested in the success of the community with each citizen']), an anomaly, or was it a stand out example of the organization of a complex community of egalitarian operations?

How did they remain devoid of the ostentatious violence and signals of the elite of most Harappan 'contemporaries' in the new world of complex civilizations (Mesopotamia, Egypt, Inca, Maya), similarly seen in many modern socially hierarchical societies. The Unicorns were also used to gore people who wrote poor stamps or seals÷, or those who altered one of the common weights and measures (tax avoiders?). They were also used to trample the seals of poor writers÷. This ultimately converted to merely collecting the tears in bottles, and using them to saturate the clays, rendering them malleable, and able to be "etch'a'sketched" when it was decided that goring people didn't play well÷.

This story is documented on a Unicorn seal from Trench 37, which lies to the east of the "Granary." This type of seal comes from levels dating to Harappa Phase Period 3B. Similar seals were found near the "granary" in 1997. (More unicorn seals at 133, 145.)


*Deciphering the Indus script. (÷Some elements of the above comment are notably absurd; the violence is invented; the archaeology is a mix of joke and documented)
posted by infinite intimation at 8:26 PM on March 21, 2013 [4 favorites]


It's not true, we don't single people out or purposely leave them to be attacked by others.

For the record, I was remembering this and this -- and that is how it seemed to me then. I felt stabbed in the back at the time.
posted by y2karl at 8:46 PM on March 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


y2karl, your name doesn't come up in that metatalk thread from 7 years ago nor in the thread it linked to. The entire thread was about two nasty comments that were deleted (and left by someone else). Jessamyn was just asking the community how they felt about endless Iraq war threads and explained why they are a pain from a moderator perspective.

I don't see how it singles you out in any way. We used to have tons of Iraq War threads from loads of users.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 8:57 PM on March 21, 2013


mathowie, y2karl posted the FPP that was the subject and was another Iraq post that was being judged:"Do these posts suck, or do some people just hate them an extreme amount and the posts are generally okay?"

And a quick ctrl-f shows 98 instances of his sn.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:02 PM on March 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Back when comments being deleted became an actual thing, I militated strongly for some very subtle indicator -- not attributable to the user whose comment had been deleted, just a place marker. My thinking was that silent deletion was destructive to trust and therefore damaging to community.

I'm not entirely sure if I've changed my mind, but I think that if I was right, I was right only at smaller scale than MeFi currently is.

I think they would also be a bad fit culturally - because MeFi is what it is, the addition of a deleted comment indicator would instantly result in requests to know what the comment was, various people with differing opinions about whether it really should have been deleted (some of whom would have seen it pre-deletion and some that hadn't), cries of censorship etc etc.

So, pretty much what we have now, but at a much larger volume, because I bet almost every comment that gets 'invisibly' deleted hardly gets noticed by anybody, so imagine the number of times we would have to have this conversation if there was a clear mark that something had been deleted. Might as well link the deletion marker to this page.
posted by dg at 9:25 PM on March 21, 2013


Yeah, I didn't read the whole thread, just the comments jessamyn made which didn't call him out and seemed to be more in general about posts on the war. We always kind of had too many election posts, too many war posts, etc and it looked to be a general discussion of that, but I see my own comment specifically called him out because I was clearly frustrated with it at the time.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 9:25 PM on March 21, 2013


5. they really stretch the "found something interesting on the web" litmus test. y2k does great research and writes great posts, but there is a certain hypergraphia feeling to them that makes me a) a little uncomfortable and b) repeat the GYOB mantra. This is exactly what YOB is supposed to be for and I bet if y2k got one, people would read it. I don't take kindly to people using MeFi as their personal soapbox to get the highest numebr ofpossible eyeballs, as opposed to just trying to share with the community. I also realize it's a damned fine line. Since some people always say they like these posts, it's hard to tell what's y2k's soapbox and what's just giving the people what they want.

I think Jessamyn singled him out as at least an example of the potential problem, and someone walking a fine line.

It's interesting to browse over that thread because I can't imagine would it would be like here if something like Iraq happened again. People would just lose it. Hopefully the Bush years were a uniquely nutty time.
posted by Drinky Die at 10:01 PM on March 21, 2013


What it would be like. Where is my 30 minute edit window?
posted by Drinky Die at 10:27 PM on March 21, 2013


Unicorn tears? And you've been killing them? Seriously, it doesn't take that much to get unicorns to cry. Show them the end of Bambi, or tell them their favorite faerie-folk indie lute-rock duo sucks. They'll bawl until you have a fresh bucket full of shiny unicorn tears.
posted by Ghidorah at 10:54 PM on March 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, or they'll impale you with their magic horn.
posted by Drinky Die at 11:10 PM on March 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


DroneFilter
posted by lordaych at 1:06 AM on March 22, 2013


Oh man. Deletion is a gift, it's unearned, like grace. It's a way of obscuring how stupid and petty we all can be. Why would people argue with deletions?

Completely agree here. I usually don't know if I've had a comment deleted -- I don't track them like they were valuable little nuggets of gold. But when I've noticed it happen in the past, it's usually been for a couple of reasons:

a.) I've been an asshole. Thank God the mods have hidden my asshole qualities.
b.) I've been stupid. Thank God the mods have hidden my stupidity.
c.) The mods are WRONG! Thank God I didn't know about it, or we might have gone back to a.)
posted by PeterMcDermott at 5:03 AM on March 22, 2013 [3 favorites]


The times that I've had a comment deleted, I've been an idiot and it deserved to be deleted. Zarq's comment about it being grace is spot on.
posted by arcticseal at 6:08 AM on March 22, 2013


Even though I've had few comments deleted (that I know of), I thought the number of deletions was much higher than what zarq posted above. I've posted some snarky comments here and there about what I saw as heavy-handedness that apparently wasn't warranted. Sorry about that.
posted by double block and bleed at 6:18 AM on March 22, 2013


I think Jessamyn singled him out as at least an example of the potential problem, and someone walking a fine line.

Yeah I'm sorry for that thread. MeTa used to be a lot more rough and tumble than it is now and we could have been more judicious in managing it even at the time.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:46 AM on March 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Zarq's comment about it being grace is spot on

:(

I thought the number of deletions was much higher than what zarq posted above. I've posted some snarky comments here and there about what I saw as heavy-handedness that apparently wasn't warranted.

Part of the problem is that deletions may be falling on a specific subset of users. There are probably a great many users who have not had anything deleted, running up to a few users who see comments disappear with alarming frequency.

I've had a few drop off the site, generally for being off-topic or not answering the question.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:25 AM on March 22, 2013


MeTa used to be a lot more rough and tumble than it is now

It was the Alex Reynolds/dios drama queen Metatalk thread that made me determined to drop the five dollars when membership re-opened. I don't think I've seen anything quite as cruel as that thread here before or since, but I laughed my ass off while I was reading it.

If I recall correctly, the rancour started out as an Israel/Palestine post.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 9:50 AM on March 22, 2013


As a posessor of several deleted comments I can heartily endorse the "deletion is a gift" idea. Your comment isn't going to get deleted unless you're being a dumbass, acting like a stubborn spoiled child, ruining the discussion, making baseless personal attacks, posting information that you shouldn't be, or some horrid combination of the above.
posted by tehloki at 2:45 PM on March 22, 2013


I can't find the dios/Alex Reynolds smack down thread. Did it get deleted?
posted by double block and bleed at 2:55 PM on March 22, 2013


I think that was one of the ancient horrorshow metatalks that did indeed get nixed back when nixed meant nuked, yeah.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:59 PM on March 22, 2013


Wait, metatalk threads, that aren't like displaying personal information or something, get nuked?
posted by Blasdelb at 3:23 PM on March 22, 2013


tehloki: "As a posessor of several deleted comments I can heartily endorse the "deletion is a gift" idea."

I misread this as "as a professor of several deleted comments", and I was like THAT'S IT, THAT'S WHAT IAMKIMIAM'S JOB WILL BE.

Then I went back and re-read and my life became sadder.
posted by scrump at 3:36 PM on March 22, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wait, metatalk threads, that aren't like displaying personal information or something, get nuked?

Got, not get: we're discussing a dramarama thread from yeaaaars ago, deleted at the time, not something removed retroactively and recently.

And it's important to understand that that was a technical issue, not a philosophical one; Matt didn't make an extra effort to scrub that thread specifically, it was just the nature of the Metatalk codebase at the time that deleting a thread nuked it instead of simply hiding it the way the site works now. That was the original regime for the whole site, actually, though that got changed for Metafilter and for Ask a lot sooner than it did for Metatalk because the codebases were distinct and it mostly hadn't come up.

This is actually a big part of why Metatalk threads can be closed; for whatever reason of priorities at the time for Matt, getting a thread closure option for Metatalk threads in place trumped adding the whole delete-by-hiding thing and so that was the way to sort of gently close down a problem Metatalk.

These days a deleted metatalk thread is just like a deleted thread anywhere else on the site.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:45 PM on March 22, 2013


Back in the very old days, threads which were closed were actually deleted from the archive and unrecoverable, not left intact.
posted by zarq at 3:46 PM on March 22, 2013


Just wanna say I've noticed mods being a little more specific with pointing out deletions happened and it's appreciated.
posted by Drinky Die at 4:07 PM on March 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


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