Close this thread up. May 2, 2013 12:33 PM   Subscribe

I don’t want to point out anyone or any thread in particular, but something I find odd; In almost every MT thread associated with any small controversy (and they’re all small) someone will jump in, usually right away, with "we should close this up", which as far as I can tell is not up for vote but at the discretion of the mods.

What’s the driving force behind this? Are we using up bits? Is this a "mommy and daddy are fighting" thing that makes people uncomfortable, or just "someone’s not agreeing with me"? MT is off the beaten path, you have to go find it, and it’s not a requirement to participate. Why do some want others to stop talking about a subject when they can just easily leave and ignore it?

I’m not mad, just curious and confused (a state which often leads to trouble; pregnancy and electrocution for example).
posted by bongo_x to Etiquette/Policy at 12:33 PM (264 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

We should close this up. (to get it out of the way)
posted by jonmc at 12:35 PM on May 2, 2013 [19 favorites]


I love assholes.

Especially ones that have been around from the beginning...
posted by Irontom at 12:36 PM on May 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


More than likely, it's just human frustration/boredom with seeing the same issues come up repeatedly. Toss in previous instances where similar questions have turned into angry arguments and the desire for people to avoid that, and it starts to make more sense.

If you need any other answers about anything, I'll be here until 4pm EST.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:40 PM on May 2, 2013


It's MetaTalk's manifestation of concern trolling. One might worry about what might happen if a thread that is basically resolved (through having been discussed thoroughly or recently or both or through timely moderator participation or whatever) continues to remain open to comments that might *gasp* have recipes in them or *gasp* wander off into alphabetland or *gasp* serve as a venting time for wound-up keyboard abusers.
posted by carsonb at 12:42 PM on May 2, 2013 [6 favorites]


MeTa threads actually are the one place on the site where mods are required to participate but no one else is. Accordingly, we're pretty hesitant to close up a MeTa thread because it's the space the community has specifically to air grievances with us and other people. Sometimes, however, long contentious MeTa threads turn into just weird rat king situations where everyone's stuck together and angry but there's no actual topic really open for discussion. Leaving these threads open so that people can flame and flag each other is a poor use of site resources and is sort of diverging from the general purpose of this part of the site. So, people often raise the idea of closing them. Its not really Robert's Rules of Order but I feel sometimes it's the same general idea.

Just my $.02. When I was actually a governance member at a place that did actually use Robert's Rules there were always people who would aggressively call the question (meaning "let's vote now and not talk about it anymore") and people who would object to ending discussion on principle even if it was just a bunch of people basically fillibustering. This is a topic (the "should we leave it open or not" topic) on which people Have Opinions and I'm guessing that's why we see it so often.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:43 PM on May 2, 2013 [7 favorites]


I have noticed the longer a MeTa thread says open, the greater the likelihood of people flaming out, it seems. This might be worth considering.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 12:44 PM on May 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's because longboats are deprecated and we're still pissy about that.
posted by klangklangston at 12:44 PM on May 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think "Close this up" is irritating because it seems like a "think of the children" type "everyone is fighting and people are closing their accounts and oh no" concern trolling. If people want to talk about something, they should be able to until mods think it should be closed.
posted by sweetkid at 12:45 PM on May 2, 2013 [10 favorites]


Also if you write it as MeTa instead of MT I will know what you are talking about about 20 seconds earlier.
posted by sweetkid at 12:46 PM on May 2, 2013 [59 favorites]


Meh. Sometimes it's obnoxious concern trolling. Sometimes it's people recognizing that the OP has gotten what they need and shit's getting deraily. Sometimes it's a joke.
posted by klangklangston at 12:46 PM on May 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm sorry, but this thread should be in MetaMetaTalk.
posted by Etrigan at 12:46 PM on May 2, 2013 [9 favorites]


BRB seeing how far the rabbit hole goes.
posted by zombieflanders at 12:50 PM on May 2, 2013


Are we using up bits?

Dunno. I'm still worried about unused accounts taking up space on the server.
posted by octobersurprise at 12:50 PM on May 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


If you need any other answers about anything, I'll be here until 4pm EST.

If South America were made of ice cream, where would it drip to?
posted by octobersurprise at 12:54 PM on May 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


Also if you write it as MeTa instead of MT I will know what you are talking about about 20 seconds earlier.

I thought this was about those troublesome Musical Theatre threads myself.
posted by Kabanos at 12:55 PM on May 2, 2013


Also if you write it as MeTa instead of MT

Yes. I was all confused about what Montana had to do with it for a minute.
posted by donnagirl at 12:55 PM on May 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


I thought this was about those troublesome Musical Theatre threads myself.

It is, sorry for the confusion.
posted by bongo_x at 12:56 PM on May 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Or Movable Type!
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:56 PM on May 2, 2013 [9 favorites]


Margaret Thatcher. Now THERE'S an MT we agree on.
posted by sweetkid at 12:56 PM on May 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


octobersurprise: "Dunno. I'm still worried about unused accounts taking up space on the server."

Your message will cost the net hundreds if not thousands of dollars to send everywhere.
posted by Chrysostom at 12:59 PM on May 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


People often post a MetaTalk thread when it would have been more appropriate to use the contact form to ask the mods a question. Calling for such threads to be closed is a way of discouraging that behavior.

Ditto for people berating other users in MetaTalk threads rather than contacting them directly via MeMail and trying to work out. There's no reason to keep open a thread that is about bashing someone (either the person being called out, or the person who did the calling out).

Closing up threads is a way of keeping MetaTalk focused on what it's supposed to be focused on. (Remember, except for extreme circumstances, MetaTalk threads don't get deleted.)
posted by alms at 1:03 PM on May 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


If we're talking Big MT that WAS home to the best Fallout NV DLC.
posted by yellowbinder at 1:06 PM on May 2, 2013


Thanks for the rat king link, jessamyn. Hadn't heard of that before.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:14 PM on May 2, 2013 [6 favorites]


If South America were made of ice cream, where would it drip to?

Trick question! It would be eaten up before it dripped because yum ice cream!
posted by sweetkid at 1:18 PM on May 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


Yes, I also just learned about the rat king. Kind of unsettling, that.
posted by A Bad Catholic at 1:19 PM on May 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


If South America were made of ice cream, where would it drip to?

Trick question! It would be eaten up before it dripped because yum ice cream!


WORST ICE CREAM HEADACHE EVAR!!!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:21 PM on May 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well, sometimes MeTa threads are closed too early.

This thread was closed two days in while still heated.

Which is a shame because I had figured out an angle to resolve things to everyone's satisfaction and had no way of posting it.

Live and learn.
posted by mazola at 1:24 PM on May 2, 2013


I suggested closing the Other Most Recent Why Was This Deleted meTa because I am a tut-tutting hall monitor.

Wait, that's not it (not this time!). It's because we already have a bunch of threads open and active about why things are deleted.

About a week ago someone posted a "Hey, why was this comment deleted" and a mod answered and the OP was all oh, okay, thanks, and the thread was closed. I think more quick closings of asked-and-answered meTas would not necessarily be a bad thing.
posted by rtha at 1:24 PM on May 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


Many issues will not actually be resolved in a MetaTalk thread. The mods will not undelete your comment. They will not ban the use of a word. The issue will be discussed and there will likely be a long term effect - people may phrase their comments differently, more people may avoid using a certain term. But there will be disagreement and there will people willing to fight to the end for or against the subject of the post. Because there will be no final resolution there is no solid place to end the thread. All that is left is to continue bickering until someone hits the big red button. Closing up a thread is meant to leave the discussion there for people to see and learn from before people begin committing MetaSeppuku.
posted by charred husk at 1:27 PM on May 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


I recently asked the mods to close a MeTa I'd opened since, after the run of useful discussion petered out, it just seemed to ramp up into an more and more incoherent squabblefest about something orthogonal to the original topic and I felt slightly guilty that (a) I'd indirectly given people a forum to get their tempers up and (b) the mods had to keep monitoring it. But it chilled out after a day, so, you know, whatever.

Yes, I also just learned about the rat king. Kind of unsettling, that.

I'm kind of surprised that Wiki page doesn't mention the 30 Rock reference, since that was how I learned about it. Oh, Dennis Duffy, you repulsive fuck.
posted by psoas at 1:40 PM on May 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


A common pattern seems to be:
  1. Someone posts about a problem in MeTa.
  2. People discuss the problem at some length.
  3. Either some kind of resolution is reached, or the conversation starts to go round and round in the same circle.
  4. People start posting recipes and other non-sequiturs.
  5. Someone starts to discuss an old grudge that may or may not be related to the original problem.
  6. Others jump in.
  7. Someone blames taz and others start defending her.
  8. Steps 5, 6 and 7 are repeated several times.
  9. At least one person closes their account.
  10. ???
I'm all in favour of allowing the conversation to run its course, and I've never posted a request to the mods to close a thread, but I wouldn't mind calling it quits after step 3.
posted by rjs at 1:52 PM on May 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


Are we using up bits?

I don't know if this is a common idea outside of software development, but SW engineers mostly agree that "human attention" is one of the scarcest and most frequently squandered resources.
posted by benito.strauss at 2:01 PM on May 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


I thought it had to do with that recent annoying trend of MT meaning modified tweet on Twitter.
posted by IndigoRain at 2:05 PM on May 2, 2013


Which is a shame because I had figured out an angle to resolve things to everyone's satisfaction and had no way of posting it.

did this involve a giant wicker man? because i had that idea last year and the mods said no.
posted by elizardbits at 2:05 PM on May 2, 2013 [16 favorites]


And part of the concern I think is that while people are happy using other people's MeTa posts as a place to grandstand their aggressively presented concerns, it really does turn into a mod time sink. Whereas if the same users wanted to open their own MeTa thread, their specific issue could be dealt with specifically there and not have the same pre-outraged audience that they were borrowing the coattails from in another MeTa thread.

There are some issues that can expand to cover a lot of different topics (i.e. complaining about a specific deletion may expand to turn into complaints about deletions generally or a particular mod's deletion style and we get that) but the general "I am angry" or even "I am angry at MetaFilter" topic is not one that should become the focal point of a MeTa thread so that it can burn forever like some abandoned coal seam, sucking up oxygen and sinking houses.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:06 PM on May 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


Yeah, to be clear, it’s not the closing of threads that I find odd, it’s (to me) the implied suggestion that the mods are doing it wrong. I just assume they’re on top of it.
posted by bongo_x at 2:07 PM on May 2, 2013


I AM MAD ABOUT THE BEES!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:08 PM on May 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


I think closing MetaTalk threads prematurely is a really bad idea, and leads to the kind of smouldering discontent that burst into flame in Tanizaki's most recent MT post, which was one of the angriest I can ever remember-- and the issues raised there were by no means resolved or even fully addressed when it was closed, in what seemed to me to be a clear attempt to put out the fire.
posted by jamjam at 2:11 PM on May 2, 2013 [7 favorites]


jamjam has it.
posted by Tanizaki at 2:15 PM on May 2, 2013


I think closing MetaTalk threads prematurely is a really bad idea, and leads to the kind of smouldering discontent that burst into flame in Tanizaki's most recent MT post

I'm not sure there's generally a clear line from metatalk thread closures to the smouldering discontent in question, really. Like, I follow you conceptually, I'm not saying no one has ever been cheesed off by a metatalk thread closing when they would have preferred it stayed open, but as a proportional component of the stone soup of grar that is a thread like that, metatalk closures are the fresh ground pepper, not the broth.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:16 PM on May 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


Goddamnit, now I'm hungry.
posted by zombieflanders at 2:17 PM on May 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think you meant stoned soup.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:19 PM on May 2, 2013


Certain malcontents seem to be the stones that make some part of that soup totally pointless to even taste but ends up screwing the whole of the soup.
posted by P.o.B. at 2:19 PM on May 2, 2013


"stone soup of grar" is so awesome I am already preparing strategies for using it in conversation.
posted by brain_drain at 2:20 PM on May 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


Every once in a while I scroll to the bottom of a closed thread and type "we should open this back up." It hasn't worked yet, but someday...
posted by phunniemee at 2:20 PM on May 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


I think they're more like the ptomaine poisoning, cortex, which leads to terrible shit-storms down the road.
posted by jamjam at 2:20 PM on May 2, 2013


TIL Rat king. To be featured in dreams tonight and in the future.
posted by Splunge at 2:21 PM on May 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm allergic to pepper. Thanks cortex, you heartless soup maker.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:22 PM on May 2, 2013


I think people anticipate that the mods are going to close the thread, and they want to be on the side of the grownups.
posted by grobstein at 2:22 PM on May 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


I think closing MetaTalk threads prematurely is a really bad idea, and leads to the kind of smouldering discontent that burst into flame in Tanizaki's most recent MT post

I'm confused with the cause and effect here. There was no closed MeTa that led to Tanizaki's thread to the best of my knowledge, unless I am forgetting something?
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:29 PM on May 2, 2013


MT is off the beaten path, you have to go find it, and it’s not a requirement to participate. Why do some want others to stop talking about a subject when they can just easily leave and ignore it?

I go back and forth on this, but I sometimes feel like the default for Metas is that someone is angry and it can give the impression that the entire active userbase is angry and I sort of like to chime in and say, "This did not make me angry, and I think it's a bad use of site resources to hash this out endlessly." (n.b., I've never made the "close this up" comment but I have asked people why they didn't use the contact form.)

I also think that there's sort of a war of attrition thing that happens where the OP says their piece, the mods respond, the OP answers, 10 more people chime in, the mods respond again, 20 more people chime in and one says something the mods have to address and eventually after this cycle has repeated two or three or ten times, a mod says something slightly testy or badly worded and then that comment is seized on as evidence that all the prior agita was warranted because clearly the mods hate X or Y thing or user. I think that's mean-spirited and I think it's worth being on record as being against it. I don't think the mods need protecting from anything but it's just a weird dynamic that I think hurts the site and I don't like it and sometimes I like to chime in and say I don't like it. Everybody gets to post their thoughts in MeTa with very little restriction and sometimes my thought is, "Don't use MeTa for this."
posted by Snarl Furillo at 2:29 PM on May 2, 2013 [13 favorites]


Wishing I could go back in time to before I opened the rat king link.
posted by billiebee at 2:35 PM on May 2, 2013 [12 favorites]


Well, sometimes MeTa threads are closed too early.

This thread was closed two days in while still heated.


Yeah, no good reason for closing that thread, when people were still discussing the larger issues. Too bad it got closed because of sycophantic concern trolling.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:36 PM on May 2, 2013 [7 favorites]


Comments like that sure help threads like this go better. Thanks.
posted by rtha at 2:37 PM on May 2, 2013 [9 favorites]


I'm confused with the cause and effect here.

I think jamjam is saying that by closing other MeTas, users were denied a place to air their grievances, and so when a large, contentious MeTa appears, it is seized on as an excuse to grind their own personal axes.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 2:38 PM on May 2, 2013


The obvious problem there being that we have plenty of members that will seize any excuse to grind their personal axes, and will never be satisfied.
posted by klangklangston at 2:40 PM on May 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


Maybe they're just like my father.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:42 PM on May 2, 2013 [11 favorites]

This thread was closed two days in while still heated.
Wow, you're right. I was honestly sure it had lasted at least five days.
posted by dfan at 2:42 PM on May 2, 2013


Too bold?
posted by klangklangston at 2:43 PM on May 2, 2013 [6 favorites]


"The MT vessel makes the loudest sound."
posted by Kabanos at 2:46 PM on May 2, 2013


It's Raining Florence Henderson: "Maybe they're just like my father."

Too bold.
posted by boo_radley at 2:46 PM on May 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wishing I could go back in time to before I opened the rat king link.

See, this is the kind of thing I read and, having glossed right on over it the first time it was mentioned, decide to actually go back and pay attention to because, oh boy, this is just gonna be crazy.

MISTAKE.
posted by phunniemee at 2:46 PM on May 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


klangston!!!!
posted by boo_radley at 2:47 PM on May 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


And that is why this MeTa thread should have been closed up.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:47 PM on May 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wow, you're right. I was honestly sure it had lasted at least five days.

"Admiral, if we go 'by the book,' hours could seem like days."
posted by zombieflanders at 2:48 PM on May 2, 2013 [6 favorites]


I'm kind of amazed at how many people here have never heard of rat kings before - that seems like the kind of obscure, disturbing factoid that I thought came factory installed in the average MeFite.
posted by DingoMutt at 2:52 PM on May 2, 2013 [10 favorites]


This thread was closed two days in while still heated.

Over 1,100 comments in just two days? I am sure it made the podcast.
posted by Tanizaki at 2:53 PM on May 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


that seems like the kind of obscure, disturbing factoid that I thought came factory installed in the average MeFite.

I would assume so as well, solely from the sheer number of Pratchett fans here.
posted by elizardbits at 2:54 PM on May 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'm kind of amazed at how many people here have never heard of rat kings

Heard of - yep.
Had disturbing picture flash unexpectedly in front of my face an hour before bed - nope.
posted by billiebee at 2:56 PM on May 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Funny story (funny to me) in light of the open thread about being disconnected from the Internet. One of the things I lean heavily on the Internet for is possession of my pop culture synapses. I just don't have enough brain cells left to manage my own memories anymore. So I have outsourced my memories to the Internet. To wit: I actually started to write, "Maybe they're just like my mother." Then I doubted myself, as I often do, and looked it up. Can't remember exactly what I Googled, but the first result that my eye fell upon said father. So I copied and pasted. Without question.

The Internet is an awesome positronic brain. But... sometimes it really could stand to be closed up a bit faster.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:57 PM on May 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Over 1,100 comments in just two days? I am sure it made the podcast.

Not the edited version, no.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:01 PM on May 2, 2013 [6 favorites]


Metafilter: just weird rat king situations where everyone's stuck together and angry but there's no actual topic really open for discussion.
posted by El Sabor Asiatico at 3:01 PM on May 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


For a long time, I've wanted (someone else) to remake When Doves Cry to be about Romeo and Juliet, centered on the line, "Maybe I'm just like my cousin, Tybalt."
posted by klangklangston at 3:01 PM on May 2, 2013 [10 favorites]


I think that people who ask for threads to be closed know that contentious threads cause flameouts. Further, I think that they also calculate that because mods are loathe to close threads before their time so grievances to be aired, that mods will expect a certain number of voices to ask for a thread closing before any mod will actually close it.

I don't know whether mods actually listen to folks who ask for threads to be closed, but it does seem like a logical assumption that they do. Sometimes mods even ask, or say "I'll close this unless you still want to discuss further" etc.
posted by onlyconnect at 3:11 PM on May 2, 2013


Not the edited version, no

You deleted the thread you closed about the comment you deleted from the podcast?

Man you people are thorough.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 3:13 PM on May 2, 2013 [9 favorites]


Maybe I'm just like my cousin, Tybalt
Maybe I'm just like Mercutio
He's Speared and then he dies
Why do we stab at each other?
This is what it sounds like...
When Dub S cries.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:18 PM on May 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


the quidnunc kid: "Man you people are thorough."

non delendo sine deletionem
posted by boo_radley at 3:20 PM on May 2, 2013


Wishing I could go back in time to before I opened the rat king link.

Seriously. (Me: What does MeTa have to do with the Nutcracker? *innocently clicks link* Eeeeeeeee!!)
posted by DestinationUnknown at 3:21 PM on May 2, 2013 [6 favorites]


bongo_x: “What’s the driving force behind this? Are we using up bits? Is this a 'mommy and daddy are fighting' thing that makes people uncomfortable, or just 'someone’s not agreeing with me'? MT is off the beaten path, you have to go find it, and it’s not a requirement to participate. Why do some want others to stop talking about a subject when they can just easily leave and ignore it?”

There's a really straightforward answer to this, and it's odd that people haven't given it. A few people have alluded to it, I guess – mostly Bunny Ultramod.

Anyway:

The longer Metatalk threads stay open, the more valuable members of the community we lose.

It's really that simple. I appreciate that there isn't a simple causal link there, and personally I think Metatalk conversations can be very valuable. But people draw that connection, and when they see people they really like disappearing from this site, they get anxious and upset.

And they want to see fighty threads close before it happens again.
posted by koeselitz at 3:29 PM on May 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Blazecock Pileon: “Too bad it got closed because of sycophantic concern trolling.”

That's a pretty massive accusation you just lobbed. Who in particular were you talking about, exactly?
posted by koeselitz at 3:31 PM on May 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


The longer Metatalk threads stay open, the more valuable members of the community we lose.

posted by koeselitz at 11:29 PM on May


Interesting, that, isn't it?
posted by Decani at 3:32 PM on May 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's not really that interesting. It's also true that, the more years the Dalai Lama spends in exile, the more valuable members of the community we lose. I'm not about to demand that the mods fight against the Chinese government to orchestrate a return of the Tibetan traditional government in order to fix all of Metafilter's problems.
posted by koeselitz at 3:35 PM on May 2, 2013


I'm not about to demand that the mods fight against the Chinese government to orchestrate a return of the Tibetan traditional government in order to fix all of Metafilter's problems.

The ragyabpa, nangzan, and all other non-lamas thank you for that.
posted by Tanizaki at 3:37 PM on May 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Striking.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:37 PM on May 2, 2013


I would assume so as well, solely from the sheer number of Pratchett fans here

People who are not Pratchett fans can't be reliably said to be people.
posted by The Whelk at 3:46 PM on May 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


It's also true that, the more years the Dalai Lama spends in exile, the more valuable members of the community we lose.

Big poster, the Lama.
posted by Etrigan at 3:48 PM on May 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


(horray I'm a Lama again)
posted by The Whelk at 3:50 PM on May 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


A moose once bit my sister.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:52 PM on May 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


How 'bout them MeTas, ain't they wild?
Sittin' and a-waitin' for the next dogpile

Pilin' on Blazecock, Pilin' on Taz
Pilin' on anyone what shows they ass

Look at them MeTas, makin' folks frown
Costin' 20 bucks just the same as in town

Them silly ol' Metas, ain't they bad?
Spinnin' up the mods and makin' them sad

How to start a Meta? The same from coast to coast.
Just blow on by the contact form, haul off an' post!
posted by Mooski at 3:56 PM on May 2, 2013 [10 favorites]


I'm curious if that the reasoning is that we should'nt need to discuss community rules and norm, but instead that should always be a one on one conversation with the mods, then what can be discussed here?
posted by P.o.B. at 5:22 PM on May 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


Here is what I usually see happening with the "why was this deleted", "just close the thread" situations:

Stage one:
Someone posts on the green/blue/purple. The post is factually correct and pertinent to the topic under discussion, however, it's tonally inappropriate. By that I mean that it's unsympathetic, insensitive, a gross overreaction, blatantly antagonistic, or all of the above.

Stage two:
The post gets either feverishly flagged, or a mod happens to spot it right away. From his/her experience, the mod realizes that the post has the potential to cause DEFCON-1 level drama and flaming. The mod decides to delete the post before 115% of the mods day is taken up by dealing with the aftermath of "the poster who failed to read the room".

Stage three:
The poster, who fails to understand concepts like tone and context, righteously posts a MeTa asking why the post was deleted. However, the question is a veil. Through copious back and forth exchanges, it becomes apparent that the poster had actually started the MeTa in hopes of rallying the Mefis behind him/her to stage an Epic MeTa Rebellion!, where he/she hopes that the sheer number of discontents will storm the palace and slice off the mod's heads! Let us eat cake my ass!!!1!!!

Stage four:
The mods, and some of the other Mefis, realize that the MeTa is doing exactly what the mods had originally tried to prevent: a runaway flamefest that solves nothing except how best to drain the mod's time and attention.

Stage five:
The MeTa is closed, only for a new one to open the next day. Viva la Revolution!
posted by Shouraku at 5:39 PM on May 2, 2013 [16 favorites]


P.o.B.: “I'm curious if that the reasoning is that we should'nt need to discuss community rules and norm, but instead that should always be a one on one conversation with the mods, then what can be discussed here?”

I think it's the other way 'round, if that makes sense. If we have a dispute with the mods about community rules and norms, we should be talking about that here. If we're just wondering "why was this deleted?" or if we think "I agree that double posts should be deleted, I just don't think my post was a double post," then (usually) that's a one-on-one thing we can discuss with them, unless we feel like there's some sufficiently epic thing that has implications for the whole community.

But basically, if what we're saying is "I don't understand why X was deleted," there's no reason not to at least talk with them first and ask. Yes, sometimes that's a sort of existential question that's more like "I don't understand why X had to be deleted, and I don't understand why the mods have the ideas they have about moderating," in which case one may eventually wish to bring it to Metatalk. But it's still a good idea to ask the mods, if only because they might say "hey, no, you misunderstood – we totally agree with you, it was something completely different, so please go ahead and repost your thing without the link to Kickstarter."

I'm saying this because I suspect some people mayhaps are a bit intimidated by the idea of shooting a message to the authority figures and asking why something happened. And I further suspect that, if they try it, those people might find that the moderators are actually pretty gregarious and nice and even awesome, and they may find that the whole thing ends in better feelings all around than they expected.

But, yeah. In sum: it's not forbidden to start Metatalk posts; it's just that, if the Metatalk post really just boils down to "why was this deleted? I don't understand" then a post is not necessary at all.
posted by koeselitz at 5:39 PM on May 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


A common pattern seems to be:
1.Someone posts about a problem in MeTa.
2.People discuss the problem at some length.
3.Either some kind of resolution is reached, or the conversation starts to go round and round in the same circle.
4.People start posting recipes and other non-sequiturs.
5.Someone starts to discuss an old grudge that may or may not be related to the original problem.
6.Others jump in.
7.Someone blames taz and others start defending her.
8.Steps 5, 6 and 7 are repeated several times.
9.At least one person closes their account.
10.???


No, no, you've got it wrong. The way it's supposed to look is like this:

1. Post about a problem in MeTa.
2. ???
3. Profit!!!
posted by wolfdreams01 at 5:41 PM on May 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Agreed, koeselitz, but it seems even when a lot of people feel it was an edge case or perhaps not even close to the edge it is still immediately dismissed by a certain group of people. As if it shouldn't even be on MeTa in the first place. Not every deletion question is frosted into a special snowflake shape, but there sure seem to be at least a few people who only see that.
posted by P.o.B. at 6:01 PM on May 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well, I knew about Rat kings from The Rats by James Herbert, but I didn't know about Robert's Rules of Order, so thanks for that.
posted by unliteral at 6:33 PM on May 2, 2013


Too bold?
posted by klangklangston at 4:43 PM on May 2


It was announced today that he's playing again this month. You just missed him.
posted by triggerfinger at 6:54 PM on May 2, 2013


Also, the rat king makes me sad for the poor rats.
posted by triggerfinger at 6:55 PM on May 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


I hate it when Mercutio dies. I keep hoping they'll change that part, because he has all the best lines......twill do, indeed.

Also, sometimes it takes me a while to get to the bottom of the thread. Then the topic's closed. I had my contribution all blocked out, too.

Also, if you put a little salt in the water when you boil your eggs it'll make them easier to shell. That's what RedBud says, anyhow. She likes to boil a dozen and a half at a time, but she usually makes me shell them. We keep them in a covered container in the fridge, and she makes up this devil stuff...out of sight!

Can you repeat the question?
posted by mule98J at 7:02 PM on May 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


I believe the question was, "Can I have some of RedBud's deviled eggs?"
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 7:21 PM on May 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


People asking for threads to be closed really, irrationally, piss me off. The mods monitor metatalk, certainly anything so contentious as to lead to a flame out. They don't need help in this task from apple polishers. No one who asks for these threads to be closed ever seems to have the motivation "Close this thread so I don't say something mean, stupid, or offensive". It always seems to be "Other people are saying things I thing are mean stupid, repetitive or offensive so please censure this thread".
posted by Mitheral at 7:50 PM on May 2, 2013 [9 favorites]


Ok, so looks like we can cl...


...am bake! Who doesn't love a clam bake?
posted by From Bklyn at 7:54 PM on May 2, 2013


Mitheral makes a good point.

And one question about/for the apple polishers ... Instead of urging that it be closed up, why don't you just stop reading that thread? Why are YOU (who are not a mod, not tasked with helping the mods, since the mods are perfectly capable of deciding these things themselves) even using your energy to suggest that a thread be closed? It seems comparable to an ordinary person arriving at a car accident and shooing along other rubberneckers, saying "move along folks, nothing to see here," instead of just, you know, moving along yourself. In short, your urging to "close this up" seems distastefully officious.
posted by Unified Theory at 8:00 PM on May 2, 2013 [14 favorites]


I was going to say that I find it obnoxious when people insist that others not be able to discuss the issues important to them, but mitheral and Unified Theory have said it so much better.
posted by grouse at 8:03 PM on May 2, 2013


I have suggested closing up metas sometimes - as I have here - because, like you special non-apple polishers, who of course are never brown-nosing or currying favor when you verbalize agreement with a mod decision, I am expressing an opinion on the usefulness of a thread.

Think of it as me being exasperated out loud, which is a thing that plenty of people here do. I have no power to close threads, and and those who pronounce that people who say things like oh god, again, can we close this already? are doing so out of a desire to get in good with the powers that be are being obnoxious and insulting. You are, of course, entitled to express an obnoxious and insulting opinion. I would not dare to suggest otherwise.
posted by rtha at 8:18 PM on May 2, 2013 [15 favorites]


I can see how requests to close threads might sometimes be annoying, but I have trouble understanding how it can make someone really angry. It's a peacemaker impulse, not a censorious impulse, it's motivated by a desire to limit damage.

I'm beginning to realize that there's a personality type who is more offended by courtesy and kindness than by rudeness and anger, believing that the former pair is false and the latter pair honesty. My suspicion is that this personality is just deeply suspicious of other peoples' motives and therefore imagines that most everything that seems well-intended has hidden, selfish, even hateful motivations.

That's not to say that there aren't some people, on some occasions, who ask for a MeTa thread to be closed out of less-then-benign/selfless motivations. But I think most, perhaps almost all, such requests are made in a good-faith desire to limit the unnecessary badness that transpires from extended MeTa threads.

On Preview: I understand and agree that some behavior is "distastefully officious" and that people who request that threads be closed might sometimes fit that description ... but your use of the expression "apple polishers" is a dead giveaway that this irritation is all about you and your own issues, much less about what you're claiming it's about.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 8:19 PM on May 2, 2013 [20 favorites]


but your use of the expression "apple polishers" is a dead giveaway that this irritation is all about you and your own issues, much less about what you're claiming it's about.

Oh ok.
posted by Unified Theory at 8:24 PM on May 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


What, are you annoyed that someone might be making unfounded assumptions about your motives?
posted by rtha at 8:25 PM on May 2, 2013 [14 favorites]


oooh girl

zorro snap in z formation
posted by elizardbits at 8:33 PM on May 2, 2013 [11 favorites]


And one question about/for the apple polishers ... Instead of urging that it be closed up, why don't you just stop reading that thread? Why are YOU (who are not a mod, not tasked with helping the mods, since the mods are perfectly capable of deciding these things themselves) even using your energy to suggest that a thread be closed? It seems comparable to an ordinary person arriving at a car accident and shooing along other rubberneckers, saying "move along folks, nothing to see here," instead of just, you know, moving along yourself. In short, your urging to "close this up" seems distastefully officious.

A better metaphor might be whether to ignore family discord in a house that you live in, when you care about the people and the type of community that exists there. You could say that what is happening in the living room isn't any of your business and you could retreat to your own room, but really, when you care about a place, you care about the kind of discussions and interactions that happen there that affect the whole.
posted by SpacemanStix at 8:33 PM on May 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


Similarly, there's almost always someone itching to jump in and tell the poster that they should have used the contact form.

Someone made the MeTa specifically since they want to have a public discussion, rather than fill out a form just to be told no again.
posted by spaltavian at 8:34 PM on May 2, 2013 [6 favorites]


Linking to that one in particular isn't particularly illustrative of your point, spaltavian:

I am trying to determine why an answer that is not a wisecrack, rant, chastising of any kind or the like was removed and why it might be removed in other instances.

In that case, "Contact form!" was a perfectly valid point to make: if you want a public discussion, don't pretend you're just asking a question.
posted by Etrigan at 8:41 PM on May 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


who of course are never brown-nosing or currying favor when you verbalize agreement with a mod decision, I am expressing an opinion on the usefulness of a thread.

If nearly every contentious MeTa didn't have a lot of not-related-to-the topic obsequiousness towards the moderators, I might think you have a point. But there usually is, and that's where you're getting this "apple-polishers" stuff from. It's usually just eye-roll inducing, but does get irksome sometimes.
posted by spaltavian at 8:43 PM on May 2, 2013


In that case, "Contact form!" was a perfectly valid point to make: if you want a public discussion, don't pretend you're just asking a question.

Or maybe instead of being officious, you could leave the fake-rule enforcing to the actual moderators.

And that situation is a prefect situation of where a public discussion was worthwhile, as it was an egregious deletion, with moderators coming right out and admitting the comment was deleted because the poster had given them a hard time in the past, rather than a real problem with the comment. I'd wager that would have never been revealed in a comment form situation.
posted by spaltavian at 8:51 PM on May 2, 2013 [8 favorites]


In any case, the fact is that this is the place where we figure these things out. The thread closure requests and the expressed annoyance of the thread closure requests both signal some degree of community sentiment about these things and that's important. We can't collectively know what we think about stuff unless people speak up.

With that in mind, I hear the thread closure requests as some pushback against long, contentious threads that generate a lot of bad feelings. That's nothing new and it's unfortunately not an easily solved problem. I hear the complaints about the thread closure requests as pushback against attempts to cut-off important debate and against individuals (intentionally or unintentionally) adopting an inappropriate controlling stance. That also is not easily solved because well-intentioned participation shades into selfish, controlling participation and is partly in the eye of the beholder.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 8:53 PM on May 2, 2013


I hate it when Mercutio dies. I keep hoping they'll change that part, because he has all the best lines......twill do, indeed.

'twill serve.
posted by winna at 8:53 PM on May 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


moderators coming right out and admitting the comment was deleted because the poster had given them a hard time in the past, rather than a real problem with the comment.

Just to be super clear: that is not what we said and that is not true.

I'd love to not have to rehash that thread in this one, but we expect users to give us a hard time to a point and that's not really a thing that would affect how your comments are moderated. Systematically abusive users? Maybe. People who are just crabby? No. When people are giving other users, particularly question askers and commenters in AskMe, a hard time in an ongoing "We've asked you to dial it back and you don't seem to be dialing it back" way, that is a thing that will affect how your comments are interpreted (by us and other users) and that can affect how your comments are moderated. And people have an opportunity to talk to us, publicly or privately, if they think we've gotten something wrong and to clarify, publicly or privately, what they were trying to say and what they think happened.

There was either a misunderstanding or you were filtering what we said through some other lens. Giving us a hard time does not get your comments deleted unless you're actively doing it in a thread where it doesn't belong.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:03 PM on May 2, 2013 [7 favorites]


it was an egregious deletion, with moderators coming right out and admitting the comment was deleted because the poster had given them a hard time in the past, rather than a real problem with the comment

Truth.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:22 PM on May 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


>: "I understand and agree that some behavior is "distastefully officious" and that people who request that threads be closed might sometimes fit that description ... but your use of the expression "apple polishers" is a dead giveaway that this irritation is all about you and your own issues, much less about what you're claiming it's about."

I said it was irrational.
posted by Mitheral at 9:23 PM on May 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


we expect users to give us a hard time to a point and that's not really a thing that would affect how your comments are moderated.

Yes, what will get your comment moderation is not using contractions.
posted by Tanizaki at 9:28 PM on May 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


jessamyn, at best, something was read into his answer that not there, and could not reasonably said to be there, because of your previous dealings with him. The comment was not judged on it's merits, rather it was decided that he must have meant something objectionable, because he's lost the benefit of the doubt with you.

Several posts made it clear that the deletion was over his relationship with the mods, rather than the comment.

I was really surprised by the reasoning given, and would not have thought deletion decisions are made that way (either initially, or in an after-the-fact way). Had the poster just went through the contact form, I would not have learned that I was wrong in how I thought MetaFilter worked.

I'd love to not have to rehash that thread in this one

Which is apropos to the point of this MeTa: that thread was closed prematurely.
posted by spaltavian at 9:32 PM on May 2, 2013 [12 favorites]


"Yes, what will get your comment moderation is not using contractions."

Look, I agreed with you about the deletion, but harping on it like this is getting into "Does baby need his binky?" territory.
posted by klangklangston at 9:37 PM on May 2, 2013 [8 favorites]


Tanizaki: Yes, what will get your comment moderation is not using contractions.

Or having a history of making deliberately misleading statements.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:41 PM on May 2, 2013 [9 favorites]


You know I can hear you talking about me?
posted by MT at 9:46 PM on May 2, 2013 [6 favorites]


Or maybe instead of being officious, you could leave the fake-rule enforcing to the actual moderators.... It's usually just eye-roll inducing, but does get irksome sometimes.

Speaking for myself, the things you mention as eye-roll inducing seem sensible, and I roll my eyes over the little digs that people get in ("apple polishing", "brown nosing", etc.). I'm sure we'll never agree, but I'll bet your sentiments are very far from universal here.
posted by benito.strauss at 9:47 PM on May 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


Several posts made it clear that the deletion was over his relationship with the mods, rather than the comment.

His problem was, and is, his relationship with the community and his patterns of behavior with other users, not the mods. (Except in the "we have communicated with you on this before and now have to believe that you know what the expectations are here" sort of way.)

There are lots of people who have iffy relationships with the mods who don't have any chronic problems interacting with the community, and they're not on our radar much at all and their posts don't have any sort of heightened scrutiny applied. We're not particularly sensitive to it and take all feedback as it comes. What we are sensitive to, because it is our job, are inter-user interactions, both individual instances and in patterns.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 9:56 PM on May 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


I said it was irrational.
posted by Mitheral at 11:23 PM on May 2
[1 favorite −] Favorite added! [!]


I think he was addressing me. Pretty sure Ivan didn't read the thread carefully and didn't realize I was adopting your term.
posted by Unified Theory at 10:14 PM on May 2, 2013


Close this thread up (harder!)
Close this thread up (harder!)
Close this thread up (harder!)
Close this thread high!
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 11:04 PM on May 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'd love to not have to rehash that thread in this one

Fair enough. But as somebody who was participating in the conversation in that thread, I left my computer for a few hours to do actual things and expected to come back later that night or the next day and be able to continue talking. I wasn't done with the conversation. And by the time I got back, the thread had been closed.

If somebody posts a MetaTalk and then disappears for an hour, especially if his/her complaint is unclear, then I get closing it. That's different. But in deciding to close threads I think you (pl.) need to be wary of creating the impression that this place is so fast-moving that at some level, participation relies on sitting by your computer all the time. Because if that's a true thing—and I understand that it could be, due to growing membership—then I think the site will suffer for it.
posted by cribcage at 11:28 PM on May 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


One reason why I think sometimes closing MeTa threads might be a good idea is in those situations where the scope of the thread has crept well beyond what was raised or implied by the OP, and people are by and large taking up the same arguments they've made countless times before.

It is some kind of natural law that every contentious MeTa thread longer than, say, 200 comments turns into an arena where everyone shows up to do battle with the axe they've been forever grinding.

I think in those cases the utility of keeping the thread open is much less and closing them can make sense, because the few people who are still interested in having a discussion about the OP are swirled up into some free-for-all discussion of general gripes.

I also can see how there is a downside to closing up the MeTa threads before everyone is finished saying their piece.
posted by MoonOrb at 11:45 PM on May 2, 2013


I miss the recipes and descriptions of what other MeFites ate for lunch/dinner/snack while they were reading the MetaTalk thread. (Although I guess that chat.metafilter.com fulfills those needs now.)
posted by Jacqueline at 11:51 PM on May 2, 2013


"I'm beginning to realize that there's a personality type who is more offended by courtesy and kindness than by rudeness and anger, believing that the former pair is false and the latter pair honesty."

It's actually a matter of tone…

(Once again, I find myself being slightly snarky - but there's a reason "well, bless your heart!" keeps cropping up in AskMeFi answers as a 'polite' replacement for 'fuck you, arsehole!', and it ain't because a majority of Mefites are from The South…)
posted by Pinback at 1:06 AM on May 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


"Pretty sure Ivan didn't read the thread carefully and didn't realize I was adopting your term."

You're right. I apologize to both of you for that.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 1:44 AM on May 3, 2013


everyone's stuck together and angry but there's no actual topic really open for discussion.

true, this, at least for me. I was kinda ashamed of my comments in the last Metatalk explosive thread; I started to get in this mode of shouting down other commenters, which is what I try not to do anymore in general.

I mean, I'm weak this way, but yeah, closing things up is a helpful thing for the community, I think.
posted by angrycat at 3:33 AM on May 3, 2013


I've never come across the phrase "apple polisher" before, but I'm going to assume it means crouton petter. Because that sounds awesome cute.
posted by ambrosen at 4:10 AM on May 3, 2013


I think Tanizaki's thread should have been closed long before it actually was. It was allowed to turn into a giant flamefest that resulted in 2 or 3 MeFites disabling their accounts. People were saying their pieces over and over again. Nothing new was being added and it became ugly to read.

On the flip side, the thread immediately before that (similar "why was my comment deleted?" except it was a MeTa comment not a AskMe one) was closed in an hour and 20 minutes, after someone who was neither the OP nor a mod suggested it be closed. Not many people had the opportunity to comment on the appropriateness of the comment or the deletion. I think the user number of the people involved has a lot to do with how quickly fires are put out here.
posted by kimberussell at 4:27 AM on May 3, 2013


And one question about/for the apple polishers ... Instead of urging that it be closed up, why don't you just stop reading that thread? Why are YOU (who are not a mod, not tasked with helping the mods, since the mods are perfectly capable of deciding these things themselves) even using your energy to suggest that a thread be closed? It seems comparable to an ordinary person arriving at a car accident and shooing along other rubberneckers, saying "move along folks, nothing to see here," instead of just, you know, moving along yourself. In short, your urging to "close this up" seems distastefully officious.

Because we're a community, not a classroom.
posted by empath at 4:43 AM on May 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


I've never come across the phrase "apple polisher" before, but I'm going to assume it means crouton petter. Because that sounds awesome cute.

"Sesame grinder" in some places.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 5:29 AM on May 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think I've made really pithy and apt comments in any number of threads and yet somehow, 100 comments later, someone is still referencing the thing I've annihilated with my knowledge and I'm like fuck, haven't we been through this? Do I continue to press my point of view? Does every comment have to be a flaming dart to the heart? Say your piece and let it go. Don't call for closure, just stop reading.
posted by h00py at 5:35 AM on May 3, 2013


When a thread turns into multiple users sniping insults back and forth without much substance to their comments, the conversation is no longer effective at solving a problem and seems to mostly just be creating or nurturing grudges within the community. I don't mind these threads being closed, I guess.

I'm starting to feel like Tanizaki would be pretty thrilled if more people would flame out in his honor. Yuck.
posted by onlyconnect at 5:56 AM on May 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


onlyconnect: When a thread turns into multiple users sniping insults back and forth without much substance to their comments

Tainzaki's thread didn't turn into that at all. The only time it really turned personal was when the mods decided to dredge up posting history that had nothing to do with the deleted comment.

I'm starting to feel like Tanizaki would be pretty thrilled if more people would flame out in his honor.

No one "flamed out". Not everyone leaving is "flaming out". Those were people who no longer agreed with the direction of the site and no longer wanted to be part of it. If the Tainzaki or "Are we clear?" threads are accurate representations of MetaFilter, and people decide to leave based upon that, than what is specifically objectionable? Yes, it's a bummer if you liked those posters, but if they no longer like it here, and the mods are not willing to change the things they don't like, that's how it's going to play out.

The "close threads before people leave" reasoning seems like "close threads before posters realize that the site has changed in ways that a fair numbers of posters will find intolerable".

As for "yuck", I feel that way about your baseless and nasty accusation against Tainzaki. I doubt he and I agree on all that much, but he's being picked on by this community, and it sucks.
posted by spaltavian at 6:10 AM on May 3, 2013 [13 favorites]


"Maybe I'm just like my cousin, Tybalt."

It's funny because metatalk often makes me think of these lines:

Abraham: Do you bite your thumb at us, sir?
Sampson: I do bite my thumb, sir.
Abraham: Do you bite your thumb at us, sir?
Sampson (to Gregory): Is the law of our side if I say ay?
Gregory: No.
Sampson: No, sir, I do not bite my thumb at you sir; but I bite my thumb, sir.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:16 AM on May 3, 2013 [12 favorites]


speaking of which, can anybody recommend a good film adaptation of R and J? The one with DiCaprio I dislike greatly, although Claire Danes is radiant.
Or I could require students to read metatalk threads, maybe.
posted by angrycat at 6:31 AM on May 3, 2013


But in deciding to close threads I think you (pl.) need to be wary of creating the impression that this place is so fast-moving that at some level, participation relies on sitting by your computer all the time.

I think we're generally wary of that, which is why there's usually a fair bit of mod discussion on any Metatalk closure before it happens. That said, a thread getting closed is more the exception than the norm, and the reasoning for it is generally broadcast in the thread, so it'd be an impression not really borne out by close reading. We can't really decide not to do things the way that make the most sense to us just because someone might draw poor inferences from it.

On the flip side, the thread immediately before that (similar "why was my comment deleted?" except it was a MeTa comment not a AskMe one) was closed in an hour and 20 minutes, after someone who was neither the OP nor a mod suggested it be closed.

The fact that someone who is not a mod suggests something happen does not mean it happened because they suggested it. Again, this is a thing where, what do we do? Refuse to do things we think are the right things to do, if someone not on staff manages to suggest them before they happen? Make a point of chastising that person for daring to talk process without credentials just to be bluntly clear that by gum we're making this decision?

I feel like there are better uses of our mod resources than trying to fight off as much as possible on a preemptive front the possible mistaken assumptions of people not really paying attention to how the site actually works. We already spend a lot of energy on trying to be sort of clear and diplomatic about this stuff, but there's practical limits and, yes, some folks are bound to misunderstand stuff sometimes. So it goes, they can ask or not if that's the case and we can talk about it. But this is the sort of thing that would otherwise lead to essay-length deletion reasons and a manifest of perfunctory disclaimers on every mod comment.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:31 AM on May 3, 2013


speaking of which, can anybody recommend a good film adaptation of R and J?

Have you seen the Zeffirelli?
posted by shakespeherian at 6:35 AM on May 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


no, will most def check it out, thanks
posted by angrycat at 6:40 AM on May 3, 2013


Tainzaki's thread didn't turn into that at all. The only time it really turned personal was when the mods decided to dredge up posting history that had nothing to do with the deleted comment.

In no way does that seem like a fair representation of what happened in that thread. Part of the reason for the deletion was because of the poster's past history; the poster demanded to know why they were deleted, and the mods responded by alluding to -- without directly referencing -- a pattern of problematic behavior.

The poster then demanded specifics and other users complied.

It's not "dredg[ing] up posting history that had nothing to do with the deleted comment" when it directly relates to and responds to the poster's request.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 6:40 AM on May 3, 2013 [12 favorites]


His problem was, and is, his relationship with the community and his patterns of behavior with other users, not the mods.

How odd then, despite being allegedly so at odds with "the community", there was not a small number of other MeFites who supported my position, which was very kind. I hasten to add that a good number of these people explicitly stated their support despite their general disagreement with my politics. If the membership thought they needed your protection from me, they certainly missed a great opportunity to voice this opinion. This is just "think of the children" covered with a very thin veil.

The moderator who deleted my comment gave her reason as being because I did not say "in my opinion" and did not speculate about unstated facts such as if someone were quite drunk. The "community", at which I am at odds according to you, rejected this justification pretty quickly so then the wagons circled and the post hoc justifications got progressively more ridiculous. "He's a problem user" "He wrote bad stuff that you cannot see because we keep them in our secret files, but trust us on this one" and my favorite, "Maybe you should use contractions?" The contraction moderator is who closed the thread, although it was active at the rate of 23 comments per hour.
posted by Tanizaki at 6:41 AM on May 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Here would be an example of the poster actively demanding to have their posting history shared with the community, because they are functionally calling the mods liars.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 6:43 AM on May 3, 2013 [8 favorites]


Because we're a community, not a classroom.

Bullshit. Metafilter is a "community" only to those who toe the party line. But if you have the temerity to think for yourself and disagree with MetaFilter's standard belief set, the amount of ire you'll draw is staggering.

For example, I strongly suspect that there's one person who added me as a contact simply so they have an easier time following my posts and flagging them. (I'm a cautious person, so I like to read up thoroughly on the people who add me.) Does that sound like the kind of thing a "community" does?

If you want to legitimately claim this is a "community," maybe you should try acting like one - and by that I mean to everybody, not just the people you agree with.

MetaFilter is a userbase, not a community.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 6:46 AM on May 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


This also seems like a decent example of one particular poster's tendency to cause issues in this community-- derailing threads, making them about himself through accusations and foot-stomping.
posted by shakespeherian at 6:47 AM on May 3, 2013 [14 favorites]


Jesus H Christ, the OP was wondering about other users' comments about MeTa and not mods, and the axe-grinding has pulled this one away from discussion of that as a functional extension of the last thread rehashing the exact same thing that they spent the last thread rehashing.

Why are we making this into Yet Another Thread All About Tanizaki/taz/etc. again?
posted by zombieflanders at 6:47 AM on May 3, 2013 [9 favorites]


It's always Friday. He always does this on Fridays.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:49 AM on May 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


If you want to legitimately claim this is a "community," maybe you should try acting like one - and by that I mean to everybody, not just the people you agree with.

Oh, the irony, it burns and soothes.
posted by zombieflanders at 6:49 AM on May 3, 2013 [15 favorites]


I can see you're going to fixate on the contractions thing. It's really mostly to do with the Spock-Data-beep-boop thing. Sometimes that approach doesn't work. Sometimes it does. The way the questions themselves are asked almost always give you context as to how to word your reply.
posted by h00py at 6:52 AM on May 3, 2013


wolfdreams01: "Does that sound like the kind of thing a "community" does?"

Yes. It's a standard aspect of intragroup dynamics.

Communities tend to form because a given group of people share a commonality (or multiple commonalities), and typically also specific goals. When a person has been disruptive, most communities will find people gathering to either address that person's concerns or determine their value, isolate the disruptor or simply keep an eye on them -- all to prevent further disruptions from happening in the future.

wolfdreams01: " Bullshit. Metafilter is a "community" only to those who toe the party line. But if you have the temerity to think for yourself and disagree with MetaFilter's standard belief set, the amount of ire you'll draw is staggering."

I've experienced a bit of that ire on a couple of topics over the years. Have complained about it in Meta, too. It happens. Reasonable people will disagree reasonably. But disagreement doesn't necessarily mean that everyone is engaging in groupthink. There are few (if any) topics where Metafilter is "of one mind."
posted by zarq at 7:06 AM on May 3, 2013 [5 favorites]


How odd then, despite being allegedly so at odds with "the community", there was not a small number of other MeFites who supported my position, which was very kind.

It's not that odd that a lot of people who don't have to deal with you administratively, when presented with a complaint framed on your terms and without that context about a policy-and-process thing, gave their take on that policy-and-process thing as presented, no.

It also doesn't make it somehow untrue that your behavior on the site for people actually dealing with the not-so-great parts generates way more friction and flags and complaints and deletions than the average proportional mefite's activity. I know that you don't feel like there's a problem, or at least don't feel like it's one you should have to take action on, but I don't really care at this point how you feel about it because there is one and we have to deal with it regardless of whether you acknowledge it. We've talked to you a bunch at this point about it.

You want to not have that legacy affecting whether or not we go the extra mile to find the charitable read on the latest something-that-looks-like-you-doing-That-Thing-again in askme or elsewhere, then change the pattern of behavior. Give us a reason to believe this is going to get better, that you're actively working on your end of this in a "trying to make it work here" way rather than just a "trying to find the specific construction of rules that justify behaving however you like" way. That's the whole deal. Find a way to make this work, and things will be great. Plenty of folks have done it before.

You instead seem content to declare that you've done nothing problematic in your time here and that the problem lies outside yourself if it exists at all. I can't tell you to feel otherwise, but I can tell you that as someone trying to make this place work for ten thousand people and not just you, you not feeling it and trying to argue the details while ignoring the main problem isn't going to win out against the weight of everyone else we need to worry about.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:08 AM on May 3, 2013 [16 favorites]


mods responded by alluding to -- without directly referencing -- a pattern of problematic behavior

The problematic behavior is irrelevant if said comment was not an example of that behavior. The user is apparently on probation where neutral, contraction-less comments get scrutinized.

It's always Friday. He always does this on Fridays.

Given that Tanizaki didn't say anything until well after the thread was brought up by jamjam and myself, this is another weirdly uncharitable comment directed at him.
posted by spaltavian at 7:10 AM on May 3, 2013 [5 favorites]


The problematic behavior is irrelevant if said comment was not an example of that behavior. The user is apparently on probation where a neutral, contraction-less comments get scrutinized.

Well, you're entitled to your opinion on whether the comment was neutral or not, but that viewpoint is not universally held.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 7:12 AM on May 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


restless_nomad: "His problem was, and is, his relationship with the community and his patterns of behavior with other users, not the mods."

Tanizaki: "How odd then, despite being allegedly so at odds with "the community", there was not a small number of other MeFites who supported my position, which was very kind. I hasten to add that a good number of these people explicitly stated their support despite their general disagreement with my politics. If the membership thought they needed your protection from me, they certainly missed a great opportunity to voice this opinion. This is just 'think of the children' covered with a very thin veil."

This is lawyer-logic - it sounds rational, but it's really just calculated rhetoric. You know as well as I do that the fact that even thirty or forty people agree with you does not by any stretch mean "the community" agrees with you, given that there are thirty or forty thousand active users on this site, plenty of whom don't even visit Metatalk. And even if more agreed with you, it would not mean that you haven't had problems with users in the past.

And it wouldn't make anyone wrong or bad for reading "he did nothing unethical" as an indictment of the asker and a flat denial of the premise of their question, even though you did not mean it that way. It was a misunderstanding; misunderstandings are natural, but on a certain level (particularly on a web community) it's imperative to clear up misunderstandings because they can be harmful to what we're trying to do here.

Look, if we're going to rehash this:

You were told over and over again by the mods there that, with slight changes and just a little more information, your comment was fine and could be reposted. You even agreed that in your experience the tone you took in the comment was such that it might make people a bit more emotional and confuse them. Why in the world didn't you just listen to that feedback, turn around, and repost your comment? That would have gone a very, very long way toward fixing the problem; and we all could have stopped arguing and gone back to trying to enjoy the site.

The fact that you refused any fix for the situation that was offered was what generally disposed people against you, I think. That was what made so many of us think that, rather than looking for a solution to a problem, you were looking to generate discord.
posted by koeselitz at 7:13 AM on May 3, 2013 [22 favorites]


Spaltavian, I think that comment was about wolfdreams01.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 7:14 AM on May 3, 2013


Hey, I don't pretend to speak for anybody but myself here, but regardless of whether I agree that the deletion was a correct thing, maybe it's time to get our Buddha on and let it go?
posted by Mooski at 7:18 AM on May 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Well, you're entitled to your opinion on whether the comment was neutral or not, but that viewpoint is not universally held.

It's held by the moderators, given that the given deletion reasons were "you didn't say it was just your opinion", "you're a problem user" and "you don't use contractions". No serious argument was put foward as to why that comment was a actually a problem

Spaltavian, I think that comment was about wolfdreams01.

Regarding the "he always does this on Friday's" comment? Yeah, re-reading it seems like you are correct, and I misread that exchange. Thank you. I retract that part of my post.
posted by spaltavian at 7:19 AM on May 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's not that odd that a lot of people who don't have to deal with you administratively, when presented with a complaint framed on your terms and without that context about a policy-and-process thing, gave their take on that policy-and-process thing as presented, no.

When you say this, I wonder if you have been moderating the same site where I have been posting. I am surprised to inform you that no matter how the complaint is framed, the reader will interpret it however he pleases. This is obvious from those commenters who disagreed with me, some quite strongly. I am not so persuasive that the way I wrote my question hypnotized anyone.

We've talked to you a bunch at this point about it.

Yes, I have very politely been invited to leave a number of times.

Why in the world didn't you just listen to that feedback, turn around, and repost your comment?

Because the content of my comment did not fit the Standard Model. That is why it was removed in the first place. Yes, I know you will deny this fact.

change the pattern of behavior. Give us a reason to believe this is going to get better, that you're actively working on your end of this in a "trying to make it work here" way rather than just a "trying to find the specific construction of rules that justify behaving however you like" way. That's the whole deal. Find a way to make this work, and things will be great. Plenty of folks have done it before.

Kurt Lewin lives.
posted by Tanizaki at 7:21 AM on May 3, 2013


No serious argument was put foward as to why that comment was a actually a problem

I put forward a serious argument as to why it was a problem. Which I do not wish to rehash here, and I am not clear on the value of going round the horn on this again.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 7:21 AM on May 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Some people -- not all, but some -- do eventually develop the power of introspection to go with their big brains and impressive vocabularies.

On one hand, I don't really mind closing MeTa threads if that allows people to go through their growing pains with some privacy and dignity. It seems like the kind thing to do.

On the other hand... Entertain me, you fabulous freaks!
posted by Balonious Assault at 7:21 AM on May 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


This is fun. I'll get the party hats.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:23 AM on May 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


There are other reasons people disable their accounts in threads other than disagreement with their perception of the autocratic mod rule. Oftentimes it's because these threads excel at bringing out the worst in people, even in members whose contributions one might otherwise enjoy, to the point that MetaFilter no longer seems like a community worth hanging around in. Roboton666 certainly seemed to fit that profile. People say some real ugly things about entire groups of members when they're digging their heels in and trying to prove a point. In those instances I certainly would like (though I usually don't ask for) the thread to be closed so I don't have to keep losing respect for posters I like.
posted by Phire at 7:23 AM on May 3, 2013 [7 favorites]


No serious argument was put foward as to why that comment was a actually a problem.

Paging a True Scotsman. True Scotsman to the white courtesy phone.
posted by Etrigan at 7:24 AM on May 3, 2013 [7 favorites]


Yep, I freaked out and closed my account in a rape thread because essentially I was freaking out because I have an Issue and the thread was about Steubenville. Belated thanks to Cortex for dealing with it.
posted by angrycat at 7:26 AM on May 3, 2013


Tanizaki: " Kurt Lewin lives."

Zombie Karl Lewin would like us all to know that the victim tastes better if we eat it all at once, rather than just nosh on its brain.
posted by zarq at 7:27 AM on May 3, 2013


I actually thought the original thread was closed too soon, because it didn't feel like the original problem was resolved, namely that certain parties feel oppressed because they're not of the same political stripe as others here and are using deletions as an excuse to guilt trip the mods about being unfair, or whatever. And of course many of the rest of us feel this is ridiculous, because, well, we don't want a community where people are allowed to say hateful things, or tone deaf things. I sure don't. If that's undemocratic, whatever. I don't know why a website needs to be a democracy.

(That being said, I think the original comment could have easily been reposted without problem, and I've noticed Tanizaki explicitly saying that he's a lawyer in answers lately, and that's good.)

This thread is proof that the issues weren't resolved, though. Because here are the same people, grinding the same ax. Again.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:29 AM on May 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


I've noticed Tanizaki explicitly saying that he's a lawyer in answers lately, and that's good.

STOP DREDGING THROUGH COMMENT HISTORY
posted by shakespeherian at 7:31 AM on May 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't know why a website needs to be a democracy.

It's a cheertatorship.
posted by zombieflanders at 7:32 AM on May 3, 2013 [6 favorites]


When you say this, I wonder if you have been moderating the same site where I have been posting.

I have been. The difference is, I work here, have for years, and pay attention to a lot more of the site than you do because it's a job that I take seriously. You are not going to make headway here by suggesting that there's a discrepancy in your favor in our relative levels of attention to what goes on in this community.

Because the content of my comment did not fit the Standard Model. That is why it was removed in the first place. Yes, I know you will deny this fact.

The thrust of the comment was fine, we've said as much; you are wrong that it was removed for being otherwise; and it'd make sense to deny it because it's nonsense. Only by refusing to take some feedback and repost a tweaked and repeatedly pre-approved do-over of your comment can you maintain the fiction that of course such a thing would be deleted because The Truth Is...

But this is, again, basically how you seem to approach this stuff, and then it's some wonder somehow that you've burnt up your benefit of the doubt. After we try n times to bridge this gap, with no meaningful acknowledgement or compromise from your end, it stops being worth our effort.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:33 AM on May 3, 2013 [13 favorites]


I'm not sure that those issues CAN be resolved. At any given level of moderation, people will think it's too strict, and people will think it's too loose. And people will think things are politically (in the larger sense) motivated.

I'm not sure there's any way to reach complete consensus on these things. That doesn't mean we shouldn't discuss them, but it does mean we don't necessarily get very far.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:33 AM on May 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think the complaint of Not Toeing Party Line could be resolved easily by making Rand Paul a mod.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:34 AM on May 3, 2013


PhoBWanKenobi: " This thread is proof that the issues weren't resolved, though. Because here are the same people, grinding the same ax. Again."

I agree, but at the same time, it eventually becomes a foregone conclusion that repeating the same things isn't yielding a result.
posted by zarq at 7:37 AM on May 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


I've noticed Tanizaki explicitly saying that he's a lawyer in answers lately, and that's good.

STOP DREDGING THROUGH COMMENT HISTORY


I don't think that was an example of that? It wasn't a 14-point cut and paste, in any case.
posted by sweetkid at 7:43 AM on May 3, 2013


sweetkid, I'm pretty sure that was a joke. (Although I could be wrong.)
posted by zarq at 7:44 AM on May 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


The thrust of the comment was fine, we've said as much; you are wrong that it was removed for being otherwise; and it'd make sense to deny it because it's nonsense.

For somebody who has only been half following along, would you mind making another explanation of current thinking for why the answer was removed? It's thrust was fine, but... what? I'm just a bit lost; I'm not looking to argue with the reason, I just am rather confused about what it was at this point and it seems to be something of ongoing contention.
posted by 0 at 7:44 AM on May 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Well, you're entitled to your opinion on whether the comment was neutral or not, but that viewpoint is not universally held.

Well, in my opinion it wasn't at all implied that the opinion stated was universally held anymore then anything you write without prefacing it with "In my opinion..."

Funnily enough, the original reason Tanizaki's answer was deleted because it wasn't prefaced with "In my opinion..." In my opinion, this site would become rather unbearable if we had to kowtow to those few people who fail to understand that stating an opinion without prefacing it with "In my opinion..." is just an opinion, at least, in my opinion.
posted by juiceCake at 7:50 AM on May 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


sweetkid, I'm pretty sure that was a joke. (Although I could be wrong.)

Yea that's probably right. I was unsure.
posted by sweetkid at 7:50 AM on May 3, 2013


juicecake, your username always makes me thirsty...thirsty for cake, which is disorienting.
posted by sweetkid at 7:51 AM on May 3, 2013 [7 favorites]


For somebody who has only been half following along, would you mind making another explanation of current thinking for why the answer was removed? It's thrust was fine, but... what? I'm just a bit lost; I'm not looking to argue with the reason, I just am rather confused about what it was at this point and it seems to be something of ongoing contention.

I'm under the impression that it was deleted because it lacked proper context (that this was Tanizaki's professional opinion thanks to a review of legal literature), rather than stealth anti-trans commentary, and that this was especially unclear to the mods given his posting history and their history discussing these things with him.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:53 AM on May 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's a cheertatorship.

Mmm, 'tators.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:54 AM on May 3, 2013


Also it was the first answer in the post.
posted by sweetkid at 7:54 AM on May 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


Getting back to the original topic, "Can we just close this up?", as well as any variation of the condescending "What did the mods say when you used the contact form?" are two of my bigger Mefi-related annoyances.

When people are actively discussing a topic, requesting to close the thread seems incredibly presumptuous, and very disrespectful to those who are engaged in the discussion. I realize it's just a request, not a command, but it does come off, at least to me, as saying "these participants should no longer be allowed to engage in the discussion taking place here because I say so, please stop them from doing so".

The "What did the mods say when you used the contact form?" is worse to me because I rarely see it used as a genuine helpful suggestion as to how a user can best solve a site-related issue, but more often used in the form of a patronizing, dismissive lecture from a hall-monitor.
posted by The Gooch at 8:00 AM on May 3, 2013 [6 favorites]


For somebody who has only been half following along, would you mind making another explanation of current thinking for why the answer was removed? It's thrust was fine, but... what?

The thrust was fine, but the framing was needlessly terse especially for the first answer in the thread answering only a specific piece of the question in a specific sense without bothering to explain the why or the where-this-is-coming-from of any of that, and the person posting the comment has an outsized history of terse/chiding/pushy answers in askme that we've talked to him about working on previously.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:02 AM on May 3, 2013


cheertatorship

Shake a Pom Pom.
posted by The Whelk at 8:02 AM on May 3, 2013


Thanks for the catching-me-up answers.
posted by 0 at 8:07 AM on May 3, 2013


It's the We part.
posted by clavdivs at 8:10 AM on May 3, 2013


me: “Why in the world didn't you just listen to that feedback, turn around, and repost your comment?”

Tanizaki: “Because the content of my comment did not fit the Standard Model. That is why it was removed in the first place. Yes, I know you will deny this fact.”

Huh? You didn't repost your answer, which the moderators specifically and repeatedly said was just fine with some slight changes, because it didn't fit "the Standard Model?"

Your answer seemed to be fighting with the asker about the premise of the question – you didn't mean it that way, but that's the way it came out. Can you of all people really deny that at this point?

Honestly, there are many ways in which this is a tiny thing blown up into some kind of existential crisis. This is the crux of it, I think: a technicality which caused a comment to be deleted was turned around and trumped up into a crusade against moderating style, when you've been given license to repost your comment, exactly as you restated it in that metatalk thread, over and over again for a long while now.
posted by koeselitz at 8:13 AM on May 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


and the fact that it has been explained, again and again, with varying species of analysis and manners, combined with this current sort of wide-eyed wonder of Tanizaki at it all makes me wonder what good it does even discussing the Tanizaki debacle.
posted by angrycat at 8:19 AM on May 3, 2013 [6 favorites]


If the original comment had not been deleted in the first place; but maybe had some type of mod statement beneath it, then we would not have had the resulting shitfest and then this one which is oh so just edging to go in the same direction.
I am one of the people that thinks that moderation is getting a little oversevere but then I have always thought this from a long time ago.
I would like to see contentious subjects discussed and fighty participants given short time outs but there does to my jaundiced eye seem to be a certain amount of inconsistancy.
Pointing these inconsistancies out seldom results in an edifying response. Lots of explanation but seldom satisfactory.
posted by adamvasco at 8:35 AM on May 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Bullshit. Metafilter is a "community" only to those who toe the party line. But if you have the temerity to think for yourself and disagree with MetaFilter's standard belief set, the amount of ire you'll draw is staggering."

That you draw ire is not evidence that this is not a community. For someone who prides themselves on logic, you're unfortunately prone to the non sequitor. E.g., that the Amish shun a person does not mean that the Amish are not a community. In fact, that you draw ire by violating social norms is more evidence of a community than not.

For example, I strongly suspect that there's one person who added me as a contact simply so they have an easier time following my posts and flagging them. (I'm a cautious person, so I like to read up thoroughly on the people who add me.) Does that sound like the kind of thing a "community" does?"

That sounds like the sort of thing a paranoid person believes, but is unable to demonstrate and has no bearing on whether or not a set of people is a community.

"If you want to legitimately claim this is a "community," maybe you should try acting like one - and by that I mean to everybody, not just the people you agree with."

Again, the locus of the problem seems to be your comments; if you want to be treated as if you're not violating community norms, don't violate community norms. If you violate community norms, do it conscious of the fact that you will get opprobrium.

MetaFilter is a userbase, not a community.

No, you're thinking of StumbleUpon. If you'd like concrete examples that support this being a community, I can give a handful from my personal experience:

—The strong reaction against Dhoyt's shenanigans wouldn't have happened if this wasn't a community.
—The institution of the offensive/sexism/racism flag came after a massive discussion of community norms.
—The MeFiMag was only possible because this is a strong community.
—The help I got after my bike accident — even from people who I disagree with about nearly everything — really could only have happened in a community with strong affinity ties. (Likewise, Loquacious, and a few other members who have gotten help through MeFi along the way.)

So, to sum up: Your definition is bad; you don't know what you're talking about; in large part, you get what you give.
posted by klangklangston at 8:42 AM on May 3, 2013 [21 favorites]

If you violate community norms, do it conscious of the fact that you will get approbation.
You probably mean opprobrium, not approbation. (I always get those confused, so I'm sensitized to it.)
posted by dfan at 8:45 AM on May 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


"Because the content of my comment did not fit the Standard Model."

It did rest on the premise that neutrinos have mass.
posted by klangklangston at 8:45 AM on May 3, 2013 [8 favorites]


The "What did the mods say when you used the contact form?" is worse to me because I rarely see it used as a genuine helpful suggestion as to how a user can best solve a site-related issue, but more often used in the form of a patronizing, dismissive lecture from a hall-monitor.

O.k. I've seen that term come up a couple of times as a slur, and I have to ask what the hell is wrong with being a hall-monitor? The people I knew who were hall monitors all seemed to do it because they enjoyed helping people. They were also the kind of people who participated in cleaning up the school grounds, and helped other people with homework. Maybe that's the problem. Have you asked these people WHY they're giving the answer, or are you just assuming that it's meant to be dismissive? I can say that the one time I remember suggesting that somebody use the contact form it was because the contact form is a great tool for finding out why something was or wasn't deleted.

I've found that conversations with people are a lot more enjoyable when I don't make assumptions about their motivation.
posted by Gygesringtone at 8:46 AM on May 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


"You probably mean opprobrium, not approbation. (I always get those confused, so I'm sensitized to it.)"

You're right; I fixed it so that people reading later don't have that malaprop staring them in the face.
posted by klangklangston at 8:47 AM on May 3, 2013


'Scuse me while I kiss this guy.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:49 AM on May 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I can see you're going to fixate on the contractions thing. It's really mostly to do with the Spock-Data-beep-boop thing.

Yes, it's an issue of tone.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:54 AM on May 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


MetaFilter is a userbase, not a community.

No, you're thinking of StumbleUpon. If you'd like concrete examples that support this being a community, I can give a handful from my personal experience:

I can give another. Some time ago I posted a GYOB anonymous rambling question that veered too close to the topic of suicide for it to get approved. The following day someone else posted a suicide call-for-help question that was allowed to stand because people had already answered it before the mods found it. I used the contact form having worked myself into a self-pitying mess because my question had been disallowed whilst someone else's essentially similar question had got through.

Within five minutes I had replies from both Jessamyn and Matt explaining why questions about suicide were too dangerous for the site and they'd have preferred to delete the other suicide question as well if they'd had the chance. Both of them finished by saying that they were glad that I'm still ok. Likely neither of them likely have the faintest clue who I am, but they were glad that I'm still around.

That's why this is a community.
posted by talitha_kumi at 9:12 AM on May 3, 2013 [18 favorites]


I was a hall monitor. Also a mouth breather. And sometimes an asshole. For a data point.

Metafilter is a "community" only to those who toe the party line. But if you have the temerity to think for yourself and disagree with MetaFilter's standard belief set, the amount of ire you'll draw is staggering.

MetaFilter is a userbase, not a community.


I live in the Seattle area. Despite the fact that we can often be aloof and cold here, we do have a strong sense of community. So strong that we regularly get together to celebrate our commitment to the community by dancing in the streets to the heavy, heavy beat of breaking glass, concussion grenades and tear gas canisters.

Community doesn't mean homogeneity or lack of conflict. It means that we share a common space and therefore depend on one another. Doing so with grace is an act of will.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:17 AM on May 3, 2013 [12 favorites]


juicecake, your username always makes me thirsty...thirsty for cake, which is disorienting.

A chaser of cassis with either an Orange Juice Cake or a Tomato Juice Cake will solve this issue.
posted by juiceCake at 9:30 AM on May 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Orange Juice Cake

Wait this is a thing? I want this thing now.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:34 AM on May 3, 2013


Shakes: make this. It's the bomb diggity.
posted by phunniemee at 9:37 AM on May 3, 2013 [5 favorites]


The thrust of the comment was fine, we've said as much; you are wrong that it was removed for being otherwise;

I wonder why you raise the same justifications that were so quickly rejected in the last thread. Do you think memories are that short? You can talk about "terse", but "terse" is not a guideline. This is a tone argument. See also, "you sound like Spock and Data had a baby beep beep".
posted by Tanizaki at 9:37 AM on May 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Is there a Mai Tai cake? I want a Mai Tai cake. Right now. But I'll settle for a screwdriver cake, in a pinch.

Ptewie!

*spits out screwdriver

Not really what I meant.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:39 AM on May 3, 2013


But tone arguments are only invalid if they're employed to dismiss a line of argumentation. Tone arguments are totes valid if you're talking about how to participate in a community with other people, especially when you are responding to sensitive queswhy am I even bothering to respond to this.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:40 AM on May 3, 2013 [19 favorites]


Do you think memories are that short?

You have our contact information. This thread is not your thread. You can contact us if you have questions about what we have done. It's getting tiresome responding to your continued misrepresentations of what we have said/done with you, especially over email (no, you have not been asked to leave multiple times) and we're done responding to you here.

We are at the "If you are not trolling we would like you to make it look more like you are not trolling at this point." point. You can follow up with us over email if you'd like to discuss that.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:42 AM on May 3, 2013 [9 favorites]


I wonder why you raise the same justifications that were so quickly rejected in the last thread.

I wonder why you have so much trouble dealing with the idea that something can be more than one kind of thing or hold more than one kind of aspect. There's a bunch of different things that come into how comments and commenting behavior work well or work poorly here; we addressed a bunch of those.

You seem to want some single codified item that explains why your comment was deleted, some bullet point in article seven, section thirteen of The Metafilter Moderation Code that either does or does not apply to you. You can't and won't get that; it's not a realistic expectation, as anyone who is familiar with this site's ethos or even just the introductory text on its sign-up screen could tell you. You're not the first person to have trouble with this idea, but most folks who do have that trouble actually hear and understand what we're saying the first couple times it comes up and figure that out. You don't seem to be doing that, and I feel like at this point if you have something you still want to understand rather than just some intent of generally rejecting this aspect of how the site works, it'd make more sense to take this up in email than to continue to nuh-uh us in this thread.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:45 AM on May 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


I still think it would have been better had the mods immediately come out and said that the deletion of Tanizaki's comment had a lot to do with his previous and well-hashed over difficulties communicating with people on this site, because, man, the more he digs in on this issue the more I understand where the moderators are coming from.
posted by MoonOrb at 9:46 AM on May 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm part of the semi-interested majority (or minority, I have no idea!). I'm interested enough in MetaFilter and associated properties to read regularly, not interested enough to follow politics or personalities very closely.

I must admit I had sympathy for Tanizaki going into the last MeTa. It seemed like a very out of place deletion. I'm less sympathetic given his follow up which is dressed up as 'being heard' but is all about him 'being right'.

The most clear explanation for the deletion was 'Be Kind' (which is what all the mods were getting at in their own way, it's a soft issue) with the response being along the lines of 'But I wasn't unkind.' That's not really the same thing. Tanizaki has not really shown any interest in exploring that distinction but seems plenty interested in creating a very public hoo-ha.

In short, I believe the mods acted in good faith. I'm not so sure Tanizaki has.
posted by mazola at 9:53 AM on May 3, 2013 [5 favorites]


Tanizaki, it's becoming more and more difficult to view your comments in these two MeTas as anything other than willfully obtuse. You're like a kid who annoys his brother by almost-but-not-quite touching him and laughs when Mom tells him to cut it out. You never bothered to post a revised answer to that AskMe, so it's obvious you're not concerned about providing information in this case; you appear to be having a good troll, and enjoying it immensely.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 9:58 AM on May 3, 2013 [6 favorites]


I dunno why I read that as a very Brady hoo-ha, but be assured I rather hate myself for it.
posted by 0 at 10:20 AM on May 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


One thing that I do miss about longer MeTas is that I'm not getting as many recipes.
posted by klangklangston at 10:51 AM on May 3, 2013


Recipe: Octopus Hot Dogs and Seaweed

Be sure to reserve the weiner water, it's a tasty broth and wonderful first course.
posted by mazola at 10:57 AM on May 3, 2013


The two parts of that sentence do not look like they should go together.
posted by zombieflanders at 10:59 AM on May 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


You seem to want some single codified item that explains why your comment was deleted, some bullet point in article seven, section thirteen of The Metafilter Moderation Code that either does or does not apply to you

This is also known as "rules-lawyering."
posted by the man of twists and turns at 11:07 AM on May 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


"weiner water" sounds like a phrase first graders would use to refer to urine. I'd expect to hear it paired with "butt brownies". And I would feel bad for lowering the level of discourse in this post, but I'm not sure I am.
posted by benito.strauss at 11:16 AM on May 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


And I would feel bad for lowering the level of discourse in this post, but I'm not sure I am.

Not sure you're lowering the tone? Or not sure you're feeling bad about doing so?
posted by talitha_kumi at 11:19 AM on May 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


The last Tanizaki thread, about the deletion of a 48 word comment, generated close to 130,000 words of commentary. This discussion is a waste of everyone's time, most significantly the mods', as they are the only people on this site who need to be reading this thread.
posted by Aizkolari at 11:20 AM on May 3, 2013


I feel we should reexplore my glorious idea of the king of the bean/mod for a day scenario, in the interest of democratic representation

as with most of my metafilter ideas this too ends with human sacrifice
posted by elizardbits at 11:22 AM on May 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


This discussion is a waste of everyone's time

Speak for yourself. This kind of comment seems to be exactly like the "can't we just close this up already?" commenting that this thread is purportedly about. And what we were talking about before the derail.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 11:23 AM on May 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


I volunteer. I will be the sacrifice.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:23 AM on May 3, 2013


It is our most earnest belief that the best way of preventing this is to offer to our god of the Sun and to the goddess of our orchards the most acceptable sacrifice that lies in our power.

Animals are fine, but their acceptability is limited. A little child is even better, but not nearly as effective as the right kind of adult.

You, It's Raining Florence Henderson, are the right kind of adult, as our painstaking researches have revealed. You, uniquely, were the one we needed. A man who would come here of his own free will. A man who has come here with the power of a king by representing the law. A man who would come here as a virgin.





A man who has come here as a fool.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:28 AM on May 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Hey could you do me a quick favor and put on this bee mask
posted by shakespeherian at 11:29 AM on May 3, 2013 [6 favorites]


And you had to go ruin it by mentioning the remake.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:30 AM on May 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


"This is also known as "rules-lawyering.""

BUT THE ENCOUNTER TABLE SAYS I SHOULD GET EIGHT FAVORITES FOR THAT COMMENT
posted by klangklangston at 11:31 AM on May 3, 2013 [10 favorites]


And it is done. I give myself freely so that MetaFilter might be healed.

The bee mask fits well. The bee mask fit swell.

Be swell.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:32 AM on May 3, 2013 [6 favorites]


everytime people call shakespeherian 'Shakes' I think hey who let a clown in here
posted by sweetkid at 11:33 AM on May 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Be swell.

I see what you did there.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:34 AM on May 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


And you had to go ruin it by mentioning the remake.

After all this time, Bunny, will this really be the thing that comes between us?
posted by shakespeherian at 11:34 AM on May 3, 2013


You cannot imagine how seriously I take The Wicker Man.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:35 AM on May 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


What if I told you I'm actually Nic Cage?
posted by shakespeherian at 11:36 AM on May 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Speak for yourself. This kind of comment seems to be exactly like the "can't we just close this up already?" commenting that this thread is purportedly about. And what we were talking about before the derail.

Truth.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:37 AM on May 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


This discussion is a waste of everyone's time...

Citation? Proof?
posted by juiceCake at 11:39 AM on May 3, 2013


I think you're too good of an actor to be Nic Cage...
posted by garlic at 11:41 AM on May 3, 2013


What if I told you I'm actually Nic Cage?

I would follow you around to see what your day is like.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:42 AM on May 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


how can it be a waste of EVERYONE's time? Mods maybe, but everyone?
posted by sweetkid at 11:42 AM on May 3, 2013


What if I told you I'm actually Nic Cage?

Show me your teeth, and I'll let you know.

I don't much like the idea of having my stuff edited, never mind deleted. If you aren't running a spell-check or correcting homonyms I'd just as soon you leave my entrancing rhetoric alone. I believe that's a common reaction fir most writers, and it's visceral more often than it is reasonable--I can't prove that of course, except by my own lights. The edit itself illuminates the editorial view over the writer's intentions. Sometimes there's a conflict, and guess who wins?

I had a comment delete a few weeks ago. The deletion was explained in a civil, even courteous, way by the mod who did it. I understood the reasoning, but I still don't think my post merited deletion. I did come to think my comment was parenthetic, though, and the thread didn't suffer by its absence. As time passes this deletion becomes a touchstone, by which I continue to absorb the difference in nuance among denizens of the Blue, the Gray, and the Green.

I think here we are beating a point into submission. This isn't helping Tanizaki any, because he's struggles against it--edit the damned thing, already. I can't speculate on the nuance he's trying so hard to defend, because it escapes me. On the other hand, guys like me, who are fairly new to the site, are getting the benefit of mod exposure, and their version of the bones that frame this site, which is a good thing. After all, it's the posters and commenters who will provide the skin and clothing of the outfit, and the mods are also commenters. I don't know all the code words yet, or most of the in-jokes, so this is a good vehicle for me to sort of catch up, and I appreciate this opportunity.

So, this is a good place for me to hurrah the users and mods for not closing the discussion. The horse died quite a while back, but the ceremony still is useful, at least for me. One final point. My viewpoint defines moderation as a necessary evil. Using the "sunlight kills germs" model--keeping the mods available for public verbal lashings--is a workable countermeasure. Even though the circling of the mod wagon can eventually determine policy, participation between us and them helps to keep the site from evolving to an "us" v "them" site.
posted by mule98J at 1:00 PM on May 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


"I believe that's a common reaction fir most writers, and it's visceral more often than it is reasonable--I can't prove that of course, except by my own lights. The edit itself illuminates the editorial view over the writer's intentions. Sometimes there's a conflict, and guess who wins?

Actually, one of the things that has helped me the most in being a writer is getting over the angst of being edited. Working in papers helped that a lot, where the copy I turned in wouldn't necessarily bear much relationship to the copy that came out, and it helps a lot in my current job, where everything I write ends up vetted by a bunch of folks. It's healthier to just let it go unless it drastically misstates your position.
posted by klangklangston at 1:05 PM on May 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Aizkolari: “The last Tanizaki thread, about the deletion of a 48 word comment, generated close to 130,000 words of commentary. This discussion is a waste of everyone's time, most significantly the mods', as they are the only people on this site who need to be reading this thread.”

kuujjuarapik: “Speak for yourself. This kind of comment seems to be exactly like the 'can't we just close this up already?' commenting that this thread is purportedly about. And what we were talking about before the derail.”

You both seem to be agreeing. You both think the Tanizaki thing is a pointless derail, right?
posted by koeselitz at 1:16 PM on May 3, 2013


I have been a professional writer and editor for almost two decades, and I didn't really improve as a writer until I started to realize that writing is often a collaborative process, and start being a lot less precious about my words and ideas. Ultimately, I guess, the question becomes one of the purpose of and value of writing. If I am merely writing to express my internal world, without concern for how it impacts readers, or if they understand it, or if I have communicated clearly, or usefully, then that's fine, but he best place for your writing might be a journal, or private communication with like-minded friends. But when your writing starts to intersect with the public, all sorts of additional questions pop up, and in professional writing an editor can be enormously helpful -- in fact, for much professional writing, where there is a consistent editorial agenda and house style, they are required. But, beyond that, they can point out when something is being miscommunicated or communicated unclearly, they can help shape a piece, they can spot errors, etc.

Now, Metafilter is not a personal journal nor a private correspondence nor a professional writing gig. It's an online conversation. There are some places on the web where those go unmoderated, and they are more to some people's tastes -- I find them depressing and frequently dominated by bullies, but that may simply be my sensibility, which is why I prefer MetaFilter. This is a place where there are certain rules for interacting, some established by the owner and moderators, some established by the community through discussions like this one. And one of the mechanisms for maintaining those rules is deleting comments that violate them.

It's fine to be unsatisfied with that, but it is how this place works and has worked from the get-go -- it has been moderated this way for as long as I have been here, and I have been here, in one incarnation or another, for a decade. And it can be irritating to have comments deleted, but, then, that's part of the deal we make when we post here. We participate in this discussion knowing that there is a risk of a comment being deleted. And it's not a huge risk -- very few of us have more than a few comments deleted every so often, and usually because we participated in a derail, or some other common and innocuous reason.

I can understand the frustration of losing a comment. But nobody ever agreed that every single comment will stay up here. If you are producing masterpieces of commentary that you can't stand to lose, you might want to type them into a Word document before you post them, and if you can't stand not to have them shared, you might want to start a blog.

There will be deletions that are edge cases, and the mods have always shown themselves to be willing to discuss them, privately and in MeTa. They even reverse their decisions sometimes, or offer suggestions for how the comments can go back into the thread without being deleted. And that seems like a very fair system to me.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 1:24 PM on May 3, 2013 [9 favorites]


mule98J: "Even though the circling of the mod wagon can eventually determine policy,"

I believe site policy is ultimately determined by the site's owner.
posted by Chrysostom at 1:30 PM on May 3, 2013


The fact that someone who is not a mod suggests something happen does not mean it happened because they suggested it. Again, this is a thing where, what do we do? Refuse to do things we think are the right things to do, if someone not on staff manages to suggest them before they happen?

Delete the comment, then close the thread. Comments are deleted all the time for good reasons, this is one of them. I’m not sure how a "close this thread" could seen as anything other than "noise/derail". Not offensive enough for me to want to flag it, but rude and in poor form.
posted by bongo_x at 3:57 PM on May 3, 2013


The trouble, bongo_x, is that my experience is that people don't just make a demand: "close this up now." It's usually a question: "is there any reason this thread should still be open?" And as far as I can tell there's no ban on such questions; there's nothing wrong with asking it, or having a discussion about potential thread-closing, on Metatalk.
posted by koeselitz at 4:27 PM on May 3, 2013


bongo_x: Comments are deleted all the time for good reasons, this is one of them.

That seems like a bit of a stretch to me. In MeTa, as far as I can tell, comments are only reliably deleted for either a) literal "FUCK YOU" b) posting information from profile pages/phone numbers of random person on the internet c) posting something directly in contravention of an in-thread mod request ("stop this derail"). Even accepting ad arguendo that these sorts of posts are a problem, I don't think they rise to the level of the above.
posted by PMdixon at 5:10 PM on May 3, 2013


I’m not suggesting an angry, punishing delete. Just a cleanup. The mod is closing the thread, so delete the comments asking for the thread to be closed. It seems like that would solve the problem that was stated. I can’t imagine someone would get upset if that was deleted. Actually, I can, but you’d really have to have no shame.
posted by bongo_x at 6:36 PM on May 3, 2013


The fact that someone who is not a mod suggests something happen does not mean it happened because they suggested it. Again, this is a thing where, what do we do? Refuse to do things we think are the right things to do, if someone not on staff manages to suggest them before they happen? Make a point of chastising that person for daring to talk process without credentials just to be bluntly clear that by gum we're making this decision?

Are the mods basically neutral to negative on members who worry about flameouts asking for thread closure, then?

It was my earlier hypothesis that mods were in general loathe to close threads and so might be more willing to close them if people here requested it, particularily when threads descended into heated insult territory that often does lead to valued members flaming out. But I think cortex is saying this is totally wrong.

I guess what I'm saying is if those sort of comments are not helpful feedback for the mods and just annoy other people, I am certainly willing to vow not to ask for a thread closure in MetaTalk. (Well, unless I posted the MetaTalk myself and it is leading to embarrassing self-destruction). I'm not sure I've commented in favor of closing a thread before but I can make sure I don't do it going forward.
posted by onlyconnect at 8:02 PM on May 3, 2013


It was my earlier hypothesis that mods were in general loathe to close threads and so might be more willing to close them if people here requested it, particularily when threads descended into heated insult territory that often does lead to valued members flaming out. But I think cortex is saying this is totally wrong.

We basically do not take them into account at all. At very most, it might spur a conversation amongst the mod staff if the mod on duty was already thinking about it, but the presence or number of comments about closure in that thread would not actually be a factor in that discussion.

I personally look at those comments with the same faint puzzlement as the OP of this thread. They're not useful to me as a mod, and I'm usually not totally clear what they're trying to communicate. It's been interesting to read the conversation about that specific topic here.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 8:08 PM on May 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well that makes a difference to me, then. If that feedback isn't really doing anything more than annoying some people, I can agree not to do it. I've asked the community for behavioral changes before in boyzone threads and this is a pretty easy one in comparison. Kind of a no brainer, really.

Given that the mods don't really consider requests to close threads, and that many people see such requests as inherently dismissive of attempts to problem solve in the community, why make them anymore? Why not agree not to do this going forward? The comments can't really accomplish anything positive besides one person letting off steam (just go outside!), and as others have testified they definitely alienate some of the userbase. Which shouldn't be the effect we are aiming for.
posted by onlyconnect at 8:37 PM on May 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


-onlyconnect

That was why I made the deletion suggestion, I wasn’t trying to say "punish those people". It seems like people might get the impression that they suggest a thread be closed and then it is, so it works! (It still might be a stupid suggestion though).
posted by bongo_x at 9:57 PM on May 3, 2013


bongo_x, having followed some recent threads in MetaTalk on comment deletions, I think there is a whole other contingent of users who would oppose giving the mods permission to delete more than the current standard.
posted by onlyconnect at 10:35 PM on May 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


"I personally look at those comments with the same faint puzzlement as the OP of this thread."

I think that they're annoyed/distaste or concerned/dismayed reactions to existing or anticipated large quantities of ugliness in the thread. As such, it seems to me they are a measure of the sentiment against the sort of thing that started to happen in this thread with the rehashing of the Tanizaki stuff. There's significant community sentiment against the axe-grindy thing with an aggrieved member leading to the appearance of several outspoken and sarcastic/angry camps arguing with each other, which leads to implicit and then explicit insults.

This is one thing that I feel like I've noticed as a change from when I was here as EB from 2004-2008 to my period here as IF from 2011-2012 (+ the last three weeks). My sense is that there was greater tolerance for very contentious MeTa threads; indeed, "pass the popcorn" was a regular quip. Now, not so much. These days, there's more of a sense of embarrassment and regret associated with these contentious MeTa threads. That's not to say that there wasn't before, or that there's still not some apparent enjoyment of them now, but the balance has shifted, I think.

People express this in numerous ways, but I think one of the concise ways that they do so is by suggesting that a thread has run its course and it would be better that it were closed.

That said, I think this is a thorny problem.

I seem to have persuaded approximately no one and I know it's annoying for me to repeat something that few seem to find persuasive ... but it seems to me that by design MeTa must err on the side of less-moderation and more discussion and so there's not that much on the mod side of things that can be done about the community dislike of these contentious threads. Closing them earlier conflicts with the primary purpose of MetaTalk. Thus the only solution lies in altering the ethos of how we participate here on MeTa.

Put differently, the implicit idea that has formed here in the past is that because MeTa is lightly moderated then necessarily there are looser restrictions on behavior here. And, yeah, that's true insofar as it concerns authority. But it's not necessarily true insofar as it concerns our own cultural standards for behavior. Those could be, and I think should be, quite the opposite. If that were the case, we could have the very lightly-moderated part of the site where stuff is hashed out and not have it be filled with free-for-all hateful flameouts.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 10:57 PM on May 3, 2013 [6 favorites]


h00py: "I'm like fuck, haven't we been through this? Do I continue to press my point of view? Does every comment have to be a flaming dart to the heart? Say your piece and let it go."


I'm like fuck,
haven't we been through this?
Do I continue to press
my point of view?

Does every comment have to be
a flaming dart to the heart?
Say your piece and let it go



Oh man. There's your chorus. A whole song can be written around that.
posted by krinklyfig at 5:54 AM on May 4, 2013 [5 favorites]


I would listen to that song.
posted by h00py at 6:42 AM on May 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


There's an interesting experiment in "close it"/"don't close it" going on a couple doors over!
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:40 PM on May 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Be sure to reserve the weiner water, it's a tasty broth and wonderful first course.

So watery! And yet there's a smack of ham to it.
posted by maryr at 6:40 PM on May 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


Wiener Water Soup.
posted by mazola at 12:49 AM on May 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


In the most recent MetaTalk thread, there was a lot of talk about closing it, and even closing the related AskMe because it had received enough answers. Jessamyn nixed the latter, but at least one moderator (Taz) indicated that closing the MeTa was on the table and I'd like to respond to that. I'm doing it here, because it's more relevant to this thread and I don't want to interrupt the unrelated discussion that's happening there.

You (moderators) should keep an eye on MetaFilter becoming a place where people need to be online constantly if they want to participate. It's happening. Threads are growing bigger and moving faster, both on MetaFilter and on MetaTalk. Because conversations aren't threaded, they take on direction early. As comments pile on, that direction builds momentum. After an hour, or three hours, or overnight, you often end up with two hindrances for a new participant: (1) It's difficult to take the conversation in a different direction against so much momentum; and (2) it's daunting to join the conversation without reading what's already been said, which we've always considered a fair social expectation but is becoming increasingly impractical.

Threading would help. It isn't going to happen, so okay. Two other suggestions occur to me. On MetaFilter especially, it would be helpful if people were more judicious and economical with commenting. If you have five things to say, take the care to combine them into one comment. If you think of a sixth moments later, maybe hang onto it for a bit and see if somebody else makes the point for you. It's a big site. That's probably a big discussion for another MetaTalk thread at some point.

Second, and specifically with regard to MetaTalk: Dial back the thread closings. No, you're not crazily closing threads left and right, but you do it often enough that it's beginning to feel like an always-available option. As discussed in this thread, it's popping up pretty often as a suggestion from ordinary members. I realize those suggestions don't necessarily result in any action by mods, but I think they're a symptom of, again, this increasing sense that a thread has been open for sixty minutes so now everybody's had their chance to weigh in.
posted by cribcage at 11:14 AM on May 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


you do it often enough that it's beginning to feel like an always-available option.

Yeah I hear what you're saying, we should be more mindful of how doing more closings is going to affect how thread-closings can be seen as an "on the table" option. And because people who check the site only once a day (or less) may find that things have been asked-and-answered-and-closed before they can even chime in. And so there's an impression that the site is run or "community policed" more by the superfans, the people who never leave. However, the reality is that closing MeTa threads IS and always-available option. I understand that we could be offering it as more of an "only in a really bad situation" option but at the end of the day we-as-mods are actually totally okay with people saying "close this" it's just not really going to affect our opinion much. If other people don't like to read that sort of thing, they can take it up with the commenters which is sort of what I think this thread was originally about.

It's slightly problematic to have MetaTalk as a place both where people make more lighthearted "I had a weird dream last night" posts and where people petition the community or mods or both for redresses of grievances, because it's our job to be available for the latter type of threads. At the same time, it's not really our job (or shouldn't be) just to sit around in long fighty threads for days in case a user shows up angry about something unrelated but knows there are mods watching that thread. And that's happening more and more lately and it's a problem.

If people think we're closing threads that in some way inhibits discussion or the community policing aspect of MeFi, that's something we're concerned about. At the same time, just as I think your suggestion of people being more judicious commenters is a great idea, we also need MeTa threads to have slightly less mission creep if they're to work as expected and as promised. Our part of the social contract is that we are here and available and very responsive. The users' part should be that they take up issues they have in the ways we have set up in a somewhat timely fashion. The default setting is still to leave MeTa threads open unless there's a reason to close them. However of late one of the reasons has been "This is turning into a mess of unrelated complaints that need their own contact form or MeTa discussion and shouldn't piggyback here" and I think that's not always a bad thing.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:04 PM on May 12, 2013


I agree that MetaTalk threads have exhibited more mission creep lately, and been more fighty. And I agree responsibility falls on the users as long as the mods are consistent about not engaging tangents beyond the usual, "You're welcome to open another MeTa to discuss that." I'm not sure why the atmosphere has been more testy, but I don't think it has anything to do with moderation. (I don't think comment deletions have changed significantly, for instance.) But I appreciate that sometimes you need to do something about it, and only have so many tools.

Thanks for responding, Jessamyn.
posted by cribcage at 4:34 PM on May 12, 2013


All I can say is that I have used the contact form three times - Once when I screwed something up in a post, once when I wanted to change my primary email address, and the last time, most recently, when the mods posted about the OpenDyslexia embed, which let me know it existed, which I then shared with a dyslexic little sister who was made very happy.

So, all three good, and all three were handled wonderfully.

The few times I have had an issue with someone here, we just moved it to MeMail and let the slings and arrows fly there. Thankfully, MeFi The Community is awesome enough it's only happened that way a couple of times.

I have no idea if I contributed anything to this thread, but I just wanted to say that.
posted by Samizdata at 10:24 AM on May 18, 2013


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