E-Online is scraping MeFi for comments. June 1, 2002 5:56 PM   Subscribe

Remember when reporters used to contact general people and ask opinions? Well now it appears E-Online is just scraping MetaFilter for their comments.

So the question is... is MetaFilter a good venue for quick comments about news, or should reporters still be doing the leg work on their stories first?
posted by benjh to MetaFilter-Related at 5:56 PM (30 comments total)

[sarcasm]Well, I've always thought of MeFi as my #1 one stop for pithy movie commentary...[/sarcasm]

The whole NewsFilter question has been beaten to a pulp, so I'm not going to bother commenting on that, other than to register my vague disapproval.

This E-Online article, inauspicious as it is, fits nicely into the whole 'weblogs and journalism' conversations in recent times, though. If we grant that E-Online is journalism (rather than news entertainment or entertainment news or some other time-wasting insignificance), and that Metafilter is a weblog, maybe this is where the rubber hits the road.

But I fear that this kind of thing will encourage those spellbound by seeing their username writ large to initiate and participate in more discussions here about movies and such. I'd personally rather see some enterprising gang of MeFites pay Matt to build MovieFilter.com.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:13 PM on June 1, 2002

I'd personally rather see some enterprising gang of MeFites pay Matt to build MovieFilter.com.

Only if they built MusicFilter, first, my poultry pal. and if I had two nickels to rub together, I'd pay Matt to make it, but 'tis not so.
posted by jonmc at 6:42 PM on June 1, 2002

I wonder if E-Online had asked those users with quotes if E-Online could use them? If not, then the whole All posts are © their original authors seems a bit pointless now, or not? and if they didn't ask for permission, I believe a Big Stink™ Campaign is in order.
posted by plemeljr at 7:09 PM on June 1, 2002

Hmm, I wasn't asked permission, but I didn't have a problem with being quoted. Personally I believe it falls under fair use, if someone had taken all my posts and published them together then maybe I might have a problem, but journalists should be allowed to quote short comments.

I've seen some at least one newspaper article that was just a summary of a Velvet Rope thread, which I consider lazy reporting. On the other hand I see nothing wrong with including a few comments from some message board, it's probably easier for the reporter than asking people on the street.

Just remember to ask yourself when you're posting, "Would I want to see this quoted in the New York Times tomorrow."

posted by bobo123 at 7:33 PM on June 1, 2002

psst... jonmc... you looking for something? The activity is a little low, but it's alive. And remember, more members = more better (up to a point, certain restrictions apply, see your dealer for details).
posted by whatnotever at 7:42 PM on June 1, 2002

plemeljr: I was wondering the same thing myself. But then I thought about what we do here. We often quote a line or two from an article or news source; and then link to said source. The way I see it, that's about what E! Online did.
posted by gummi at 8:03 PM on June 1, 2002

I suspect the all posts copyrighted their author is there to protect Matt from any kind of libel suit for something that one of the people that posts wrote. Still, given his involvement with the creative commons project, maybe all posts should freely be added to the public domain.
posted by willnot at 9:27 PM on June 1, 2002

i suspect you've got news and whatever passes for content at that entertainment site confused.
cluebat #1: news never involves anyone named indiana jones.
posted by quonsar at 9:35 PM on June 1, 2002

maybe all posts should freely be added to the public domain.

I think this is a personal issue. I believe that my posts do fall somewhere in the public domain, yet I still want to be notified and cited. If someone really thinks what I have to say is worth for the Paper of Record, of course you can quote me, just ask.
posted by plemeljr at 9:38 PM on June 1, 2002

Hasn't this happened before? With E Online quoting MeFi comments?
posted by anildash at 12:28 AM on June 2, 2002

Yup, Anil... couple months ago, in a story about the anti-piracy speech during the Grammys.
posted by disarray at 1:00 AM on June 2, 2002

oh please god let e-online start using the phrase 'demand anal'.
posted by jcterminal at 1:24 AM on June 2, 2002

umm...whatnotever, that tool album has been out for, like, a year.

that site is more than a few cents out of tune.

not trying to be snarky, but I wish it were more...in tune?

on edit: i can't disclaim myself enough. i'm really not trying to snark the site, but the activity is more than a little lagged.
posted by one.louder.ash! at 3:13 AM on June 2, 2002

Even if the quotes fall under fair use, shouldn't the article link to the actual thread they scraped them from, rather than just the front page? Considering that they are using excerpts, rather than just referencing an entire article(read: post), it seems it would be more proper to do that. Maybe even link to the comments themselves.
I think my objection to the whole thing comes more from the citation in the article being kind of backhanded than anything else. A similar citation for a book would be much more specific, such as providing chapter/page/etc. A front page link vaguely implies that MeFi is a music review site.
It isn't really all that clear that "...among Indy fans Friday on metafilter.com's message board." actually refers to the following paragraphs, which contain the quotes.

OLA: The post you linked refers to the "latest," not "new" album. Different.
Same as with MeFi, a quick scan of the site's info doesn't give me any hints that it's for News. It's for discussion. Different again. But like Stavros, I'm getting tired of that argument, so I'll just leave it be.
posted by Su at 4:30 AM on June 2, 2002

Willnot: We own the copyright to our own posts from the moment they're posted, regardless of the lack of a copyright notice. Matt owns a compilation copyright to the site as a whole, but he wouldn't be able to make our posts public domain even if he wanted to.

The advantage of being quoted off MetaFilter is that the reporter is less likely to botch the quote. However, I hate to read stories where screen names are used for attribution. At the very least, the reporter should e-mail the people here to get their real names to use with the piece.
posted by rcade at 4:55 AM on June 2, 2002

This actually happened to me and another Mefi member recently on a New Architect web article (about the 10th paragraph). The article was about digital music and the whole mp3/streaming thing. The quote was correct, yes, and my real (not screen) name was used, however I was never contacted about the use of my quotation. I found it by surprise.

I think the author maybe is a Metafilter member, and it doesn't really bother me. But there should be some sort of courtesy e-mail, no?
posted by jeremias at 11:20 AM on June 2, 2002

Seems to me that most of these quotes probably agree with the author's POV. So, instead of writing a persuasive piece, which would most likely be rejected for more objective analysis, the author injects MeFi quotes and allows the reader to "assume" that these opinions are that of the majority. Very sly.
posted by BlueTrain at 11:29 AM on June 2, 2002

rcade:However, I hate to read stories where screen names are used for attribution.

Amen on that one. It's just lazy journalism. It would have been a good jumping off point for a reporter to actually email brownpau, who has a webpage listed, and let him expound on his opinion. I would hate to be quoted for something as "eyeballkid" anywhere else but this site. It would be demeaning.

BlueTrain: It's the closing paragraphs on a fluffy E! story. Harrison Ford's age is pretty common knowledge and of course is a concern when he's being tapped to play the young, dashing Indiana Jones again. The writer was hardly being "sly." It wouldn't have been that difficult to hunt down people in the industry who would back that opinion up.

But I wouldn't be surprised if some major news outlet did the same thing. If you consider that the amount of "news" pumped out between print, tv and web hourly, is immense. They need something to fill the gaps, and this is an unindustrious of going about it. When that happens, you'll be dead on.
posted by eyeballkid at 12:15 PM on June 2, 2002

"oh please god let e-online start using the phrase 'demand anal'."

That, or "trolling for fellatio". Even "fuckwit" would be good.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 12:26 PM on June 2, 2002

Using a quote in an article, as long it's attributed, seems like fair use to me. I don't see how MetaFilter is any different than, say, a newspaper in this respect, and as long as they credit the site, I don't think they should have to get permission first.

Also, I would definitely use the screen name, not the person's real name. Many people have on-screen personas that are identified with their user names (after all, what's the point of having user names otherwise?), and use the same screen names on multiple sites. And it would be confusing to cite and attirbute a quote and have the referenced quote be different.

posted by kirkaracha at 3:57 PM on June 2, 2002

salon interviewed me about the camgirl phenomenon based on an old mefi thread. i thought they handled it really well -- used my real name, asked me for more comments instead of just printing what i said on mefi out of context, etc. i think i would have been really angry if they'd just taken comments out of context, but at the same time, i probably just would have been happy to see my name in print.
posted by pikachulolita at 6:12 PM on June 2, 2002

The last quote is the best. "...wondered bobo123." That's classic.
posted by rusty at 11:33 PM on June 2, 2002

You post to Usenet or the Web, you're quotable. Period. A journalist on deadline shouldn't have to wait around for permission when you clearly intended your comment to be public in the first place.

That said, there's nothing wrong with demanding basic respect, which is too-often missing when lazy and/or overburdened journalists harvest the Net for comments instead of working the phones. The very least they should do is mention the newsgroup or Web site, which Grossberg did. Linking to the specific thread would have obviously been smarter, but at least print journos can no longer get away with "A poster at one online discussion forum wrote..."

One more thing: Seems to me that the annoyance some posters feel when their comments appear in a magazine or newspaper buys into the bullshit reverence of print over online speech. Would those people have the same complaints if they were quoted in someone's blog without permission? Ditto for the use of a pseudonym. If you call yourself bobo123 online, what grounds do you have for complaining when a comment attributed to bobo123 appears in print? (No offense, bobo; you were just handy.)
posted by mediareport at 1:49 AM on June 3, 2002

I was okay with being quoted, but what annoyed me somewhat was being misrepresented as a "fan." Sure, I admire Harrison Ford and I enjoyed the Indiana Jones movies (but not the TV series), but I certainly wouldn't classify myself as a fan or devotee. I just made a quip regarding the incongruity of having Harrison Ford playing Indiana Jones a this late age. Nothing along the lines of bobo123's relatively more profound insight.

That said, I certainly will not discount the fact that Ford is a hardy veteran with the pluck and capability to pull of another Indiana Jones regardless of how old he is. If he does it, I'll most certainly watch.
posted by brownpau at 9:29 AM on June 3, 2002

So, instead of writing a persuasive piece, which would most likely be rejected for more objective analysis...

BlueTrain, step back. It's E Online. Come back to us. DON'T YOU DIE ON ME!!!
posted by solistrato at 1:39 PM on June 3, 2002

>I'd personally rather see some enterprising gang of MeFites pay Matt to build MovieFilter.com.

Me too. And willing to chip in, too.
posted by D at 1:47 PM on June 3, 2002

Before you all think I've gone mad, perhaps I should make myself clear. I was referring to the article posted by jeremias. The web, and MeFi, doesn't have enough cred to be mentioned in a front page expose on the Times, perhaps, but this type of behavior by journalists is not rare, and should be made common knowledge, if it isn't already.
posted by BlueTrain at 1:58 PM on June 3, 2002

For the record, I have no problem with the way E Online has handled quoting in this case. Anything you say online is fair use, and like we quote from articles, they can quote us on issues. I like that they linked the site and mentioned it by name, though it would have been nice to link to the thread, so readers could see the context of how things were said.

For the username/Real Name issue, it's hard to say what I prefer reporters use, especially since I started hiding email addresses from non-members a short time ago. It would take some significant legwork for a reporter to even get your email address anymore (they could follow your homepage link if you have one, or email me to ask). I've been quoted in the NYT in a MetaFilter thread, but it was nice that the reporter emailed me to ask my full name, which is what showed up in print.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 2:38 PM on June 3, 2002

That, or "trolling for fellatio".

sounds like a genius MeFi nickname.
posted by matteo at 2:44 PM on June 3, 2002

Ah wait, I forgot that you can include your full name for public view on the user pages, so brownpau's semi-anon name probably was less informative than usernames and the reporter chose to use usernames instead.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 2:47 PM on June 3, 2002

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