You beat the high score? June 2, 2013 6:49 PM   Subscribe

Once this morning, then again and again this afternoon, (effectively) single-link posts to a NYT op-ed by Julian Assange were deleted from the blue. Now, a cursory search shows many other single-link op-eds that have survived deletion, and also a fair number that haven't. What I don't see are many examples of a story being repeatedly deleted. I read MeFi via RSS feed; otherwise, this would pass by unnoticed. In years of doing so, I don't think I've ever seen a string of deletion events like this, and I figure others have noticed this as well. Any point in discussing?
posted by anarch to MetaFilter-Related at 6:49 PM (64 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

Given that several previous recent wikileaks threads have been a bit fighty, I imagine that the mods have elected to raise the bar on wikileaks/Assange posts. See (for example) the recent thread on the Blue, and on MeTa.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:55 PM on June 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


It's not all that uncommon, although usually it's just two, sometimes three reposts. This one was deleted particularly because a) there's already a WikiLeaks/Assange thread and associated MeTa, b) Assange in general tends to be a fight-starter here, and c) op-eds generally receive fairly high scrutiny, as they are very often designed to be the sort of flamebait that goes over so poorly here.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 6:56 PM on June 2, 2013


Wait a minute, Michael Jackson died?
posted by box at 6:58 PM on June 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


"Setting a high bar for Assange threads" makes perfect sense to me. Pointing to a 5 or 6 day old thread about the documentary as being an open thread on the same topic does not.
posted by tyllwin at 6:59 PM on June 2, 2013 [8 favorites]


There is an open thread about Wikileaks/Assange in MeFi and an open thread about that thread in MetaTalk. Assange is a polarizing figure who has issues with Google and this just seemed like a perfect nerd rage storm. Single-link op-eds are one of those types of posts that the pendulum can swing on a little (sometimes we have more of them and are more relaxed about them, then we tighten up because they start being awful and people start being awful about them). We were on the fence about the last Wikileaks-ish post, though I think it went mostly okay, but the resulting MeTa stirred up a lot of ill will.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:00 PM on June 2, 2013


Pointing to a 5 or 6 day old thread about the documentary as being an open thread on the same topic does not.

My intention was to point to an example of fightiness in wikileaks threads.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 7:00 PM on June 2, 2013


Oh, they're pretty much always fighty, so I don't blame the mods for not wanting another one. But I was talking more about restless nomad's reference to that open thread than yours.
posted by tyllwin at 7:08 PM on June 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


In years of doing so, I don't think I've ever seen a string of deletion events like this,

When very, very famous people die, there's sometimes a mad rush of super-thin posts that results in a flood of deletions.
posted by zarq at 7:22 PM on June 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, it's actually not so unusual for things to get repeatedly deleted.
posted by medusa at 7:44 PM on June 2, 2013


Tilda Swinton does not beat the high score. Tilda Swinton has defeated score itself.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 7:44 PM on June 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


If I didn't already have a girlfriend I'd be one of Tilda Swinton's boyfriends.
posted by cjorgensen at 7:59 PM on June 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


At the dog beach in HB yesterday, a banner flew overhead, and it read, "FOLLOW THE $ TO MICHAEL JACKSON DEATH". Discuss, point or no point!
posted by Brocktoon at 8:15 PM on June 2, 2013


In years of doing so, I don't think I've ever seen a string of deletion events like this

This Assange, he vibrates?
posted by octobersurprise at 8:16 PM on June 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


...who has issues with Google...

What does this mean? Doesn't everyone have issues with Google, of one sort or another?
posted by alms at 8:17 PM on June 2, 2013


If I didn't already have a girlfriend I'd be one of Tilda Swinton's boyfriends.

Given the clear opportunity, my boyfriend would leave me to be one of Tilda Swinton's boyfriend in a hot second. And I'd help him pack.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 8:19 PM on June 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


restless_nomad's deletion "reasons" on those Wikileaks threads probably could have been a lot more informative and a lot less jerky.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:24 PM on June 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


The most notable thing about Assange's Op-Ed is the fact that he also has lots of issues with The New York Times, which went ahead and published it. Then again, the NYT also has issues with Google, and "the Enemy or My Enemy blahblahblah". And hey, they still had to publish one or two more left-leaning op-eds this quarter to avoid losing the title of Liberal Media.

But it being an "IMPORTANT" piece in the New York Times guaranteed that it'd be FPP'd in MetaFilter. And since none of the NYT fanboys ever expect a Grey Lady post to be deleted, multiple attempts were inevitable.

As for being obvious "flamebait", seeing Assange and the Times ganging up on the Googleplex (and so clearly lumping Google in with the Evil NeoCons, although the Eric Schmidt book apparently goes much of the way to start with), this flame war would've seen some interesting re-adjustments of alliances.

That said, it's getting harder to find somebody you can call 'good guys' in all this real-life drama than in Game of Thrones ... or Venture Brothers. (how many hours until its premiere starts generating quickly-deleted FPPs? THEY GOT A THREAD ALREADY.)
posted by oneswellfoop at 8:28 PM on June 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


In years of doing so, I don't think I've ever seen a string of deletion events like this

What is the record? Weren't seven deleted about James Brown's death?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:30 PM on June 2, 2013


I don't know. I would not have come across the op-ed (and usually great readers' comments that follow these articles) if it weren't for today's Heisenberg posting.

I don't think of Assange as a guy who "has issues" with entities, and that kind of framing trivializes his work (and certainly sounds like how Google would characterize him). I am a little disappointed that the community apparently can't have these political discussions in a more manageable way, but that's how it is.
posted by polymodus at 8:56 PM on June 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


restless_nomad's deletion "reasons" on those Wikileaks threads probably could have been a lot more informative and a lot less jerky.

How so?
posted by shakespeherian at 8:56 PM on June 2, 2013


James Brown is dead?
posted by desjardins at 8:59 PM on June 2, 2013


Dead as a Stark!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:59 PM on June 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


How so?

Including a reason would be a start.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:02 PM on June 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


How so?

Yeah, I don't know if it's "jerky" but the "still no" probably could have used a link to one of the previouslies. It does seem that mods sometimes don't take advantage of the space available to express reasons for deletion as fully as they could, and that maybe a MeTa or two could have been avoided if the more sharply brief reasons given were a bit more fleshed out.

Probably not, though.
posted by mediareport at 9:04 PM on June 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Including a reason would be a start.

I had a typo in my post, so I sent a message to the mods asking for a slight edit, and in the reply the reason was explained to me for the deletion.
posted by codacorolla at 9:26 PM on June 2, 2013


Maybe search could return deleted posts.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:32 PM on June 2, 2013


restless_nomad's deletion "reasons" on those Wikileaks threads probably could have been a lot more informative and a lot less jerky.

Yes.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:35 PM on June 2, 2013


I believe restless_nomad has edited deletion reasons in the past; maybe that could be done now?
posted by lalex at 9:38 PM on June 2, 2013


I'll stick a link in there. As codacorolla mentions, I explained the deletion to him directly, but that doesn't help the rest of you any, I suppose.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 9:42 PM on June 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


How are we going to discuss every deletion unless you provide a detailed rationale, all aspects of which we can interpret as official policy, and therefore scour the archives for inconsistencies and prove that you're fascists who favor certain members?

If you circumvent this process, it's pretty clear what your real agenda is.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 10:19 PM on June 2, 2013 [20 favorites]


No need to get crazy, now.
posted by mediareport at 10:26 PM on June 2, 2013


I think it's fair to say that Julian Assange has issues.
posted by medusa at 10:48 PM on June 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


This seems less like a "you beat the high score" situation and more of a "you unplugged the machine and reset the high scores" kind of situation.
posted by maryr at 11:47 PM on June 2, 2013


Assange is a polarizing figure who has issues with Google

WTF? Why is that relevant? Is there something particular about Google? Taleb is a polarizing figure who has issues with banks; Takei is a polarizing figure who has issues with bigots. Is this an AdSense thing?
posted by hattifattener at 12:14 AM on June 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


I checked the FAQs, but came up empty. What's an op-ed?
posted by Too-Ticky at 12:46 AM on June 3, 2013


What's an op-ed?

Journalism term.
posted by hattifattener at 12:54 AM on June 3, 2013


Thanks! I'm not sure what we call those. Probably 'opiniestuk' or something like that.
posted by Too-Ticky at 1:13 AM on June 3, 2013


WTF? Why is that relevant?

It's relevant because we are supposed to hate Assange here.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:39 AM on June 3, 2013


WTF? Why is that relevant? Is there something particular about Google?

The end of the comment "and this just seemed like a perfect nerd rage storm" struck me more as pointing out Google threads are often an angry mess (relating to complaints about the company's practices and direction) that when mixed with Assange would result in an even bigger problem of a thread than either individual subject would normally result in.
posted by Hobo at 1:49 AM on June 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


The end of the comment "and this just seemed like a perfect nerd rage storm" struck me more as pointing out Google threads are often an angry mess

yep, what I was just writing to point out.

1) There's already an open thread on Assange (and accompanying Metatalk thread), and 2) single link op-ed posts on contentious subjects are usually discouraged, plus, 3) this particular single-link op-ed is also about topics that people really, really like to fight about ("nerd rage storm"): Assange, Google, Wikileaks.

Also, I'm not sure what you're suggesting by "AdSense thing," but we do not delete posts critical of Google because of AdSense. Just fyi, you can see deleted posts at the (non-associated) deleted posts blog. ("Google")
posted by taz (staff) at 1:52 AM on June 3, 2013


We were on the fence about the last Wikileaks-ish post, though I think it went mostly okay, but the resulting MeTa stirred up a lot of ill will.

Honestly, i think that wikileaks/Assange stuff should be like Israel/Palestine posts. The bar should be very high, and posts should have to be exceptional to pass the sniff test.

I haven't seen a single one on here ever that didn't devolve in a fighty mess, and the most recent one especially bugged me because as i said at the time, it was about the documentary which covered essentially everything about wikileaks... Which opened up anything wikileaks-related as free for all discussion material.

I can really only see it working as "this specific thing happened, discuss" rather than stuff like that thread, or some Op-ed honestly that is basically just "lets talk about this guy and wikileaks again" which it all too often sounds like a thinly veiled excuse to do.

The last thing we need is more open ended threads on controversial topics for everyone to cruise their polished up hobby horses in to and joust. And somehow this topic in particular attracts some of the most tiresome discussion on the entire internet.

It's like on the level of the indoor/outdoor cat debate, but backed up by the fact that it involves serious major international issues.
posted by emptythought at 1:59 AM on June 3, 2013


It's relevant because we are supposed to hate Assange here.

pedia-envy?
posted by de at 2:05 AM on June 3, 2013


Why is the NYT called the Grey Lady? Do they drink a lot of tea there?
posted by marienbad at 2:28 AM on June 3, 2013


According to Wikipedia, the name is in reference to "its historical tendency to present a higher-than-usual proportion of copy to graphics."
posted by Rhomboid at 3:35 AM on June 3, 2013 [1 favorite]



>...who has issues with Google...

What does this mean? Doesn't everyone have issues with Google, of one sort or another?
posted by alms at 11:17 PM on June 2 [+] [!]

Julian Assange ploped down in his seat. The chair was a dark green leather, and although old and well worn, still soft to the touch. It was, as it had been for many years, his thinking chair. Many revelations had come to him while he sat in it - this had been where he was when he first heard about the procedures at Guantanamo Bay. This had been where he contemplated how he would handle the damning evidence of cablegate. For all intents and purposes - this was his spot - the spot where he was at his best. He sat there, with his cup of chamomile tea on the stand adjacent - today was definitely a chamomile sort of day. Everything was in place. He sighed, knowing what had to come next.

Julian flipped open his laptop, clicked on safari and took a deep breath. This would be the day, this would be the day that he was able to contact google and reset his gmail password.
posted by Nanukthedog at 4:11 AM on June 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ploping is a portmanteau of "plopping" and "eloping," and has to be initiated with the utmost care. One false move and it's the end. Of everything.
posted by to sir with millipedes at 4:42 AM on June 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's relevant because we are supposed to hate Assange here.

It's quite a bit more complicated than that, imo.
posted by zarq at 6:19 AM on June 3, 2013


In the one deleted post I saw there was not a link to the open Assange / wikileaks thread. I had forgotten about it and google did not return it on the first page. It did not have an Assange tag. I found it by searching on the wikileaks tag. It would have been easier if there had been a link in the deletion reason, but no biggie. I was surprised there was no discussion in the open thread at all at the time except that homunculus had posted the NYTimes op-ed link. There was an interesting discussion at hacker news on the post with a googler who was articulate leading the anti-Assange brigade without ad-hominem.

I thought Assange's op-ed was extremely well done. In the Schmidt-Assange transcripts it was Schmidt who brought up the phrase "banality of evil"!
posted by bukvich at 6:38 AM on June 3, 2013


Also I have not seen one person ask the (rhetorical) question that really interests me on this: does Julian Assange no longer use any google products? It is certainly possible to workaround them but they sure are damn easy and free to use.
posted by bukvich at 6:56 AM on June 3, 2013


It's relevant because we are supposed to hate Assange here.

It would actually be easy if we all hated him (or Google) or supported him (or Google). Instead, both are polarizing topics attracting a very narrow set of people who re-open the same arguments about them over and over requiring us to basically have to make a pre-emptive decision about how much of that we want to put up with in the name of a specific thing that happened (Assange wrote an editorial in the NYT about Google, among other things). For super important stuff, sure we'll deal with it. For something like this, not so much.

Is this an AdSense thing?

Just to be super clear, we are in the enviable position of making exactly zero moderation/content decisions here because of Ad Sense.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:14 AM on June 3, 2013


jessamyn: " Just to be super clear, we are in the enviable position of making exactly zero moderation/content decisions here because of Ad Sense."

Awwww. I was SO hoping that all mod comments would be followed by a small blinky indicating:

"This Moderation comment has been brought to you by the Hormel Foods Corporation, producers of canned precooked meat products since 1891 who take no responsibility for its content. Have you tried our newest acquisition, Skippy Peanut Butter? It's going to be the Next Big Thing!"
posted by zarq at 8:02 AM on June 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


I felt dirty just writing that comment.
posted by zarq at 8:03 AM on June 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I like the idea that Hormel has a disclaimer taking no responsibility for the content of their canned meat products.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:08 AM on June 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


If you were them, you would too.
posted by zarq at 8:47 AM on June 3, 2013


It's relevant because we are supposed to hate Assange here.

No.
posted by Falconetti at 9:09 AM on June 3, 2013


It's too bad we can't really handle this here due to the author - there's really nothing about Wikileaks until the very end, and the essay is absolutely worth reading. I know it means more work for the mods, but I actually enjoy it when this type of article shows up here - a bit of conflict can sometimes bring out more insightful commentary, but it's the mods' call as to whether MeFi would just end up talking about Julian. That Eleanor Roosevelt quote rings true:

"Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people."
posted by antonymous at 9:16 AM on June 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


Surely it should be "Ideas are discussed by great minds, discussions of events by average minds occur, small minds discuss people."
posted by Flunkie at 12:11 PM on June 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


....what if someone manages to discuss ideas, events, and *gasp* people.
posted by Deoridhe at 1:28 PM on June 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Not a huge fan of these deletions. The issues discussed here are absolutely vital and aren't something we're talking enough about. Sure, there's plenty of general discussion of Assange, plenty of "cool! Google did this cool thing!" discussion, and plenty of "Google is evil and must be stopped" rants, but Assange's essay isn't any of these things, it's an (far from perfect, to be sure) attempt to start a conversation about what kind of society we want, how governments and technology (and tech companies) should or shouldn't work together, and what kinds of change and "progress" are we delivering to the rest of the world with little regard for the consequences, positive and negative.

If Google and friends are to be major tools of US diplomacy and foreign policy, the least we can do is try to understand the implications and discuss whether they get us closer to living in the world we want to build. This isn't a conversation I see us having very often, but it's one that is vitally important. Reading Assange's essay, my thoughts immediately turned, despite my own excitement for technological development, to Robert McNamara and the incredibly dangerous and often deadly road that an optimistic liberal technocracy and the last round of the Big Data revolution led us down.

I recognize that potentially contentious discussions can take up more moderator time, and I certainly realize that they don't always turn out as well as we might hope. But we're increasingly seeing situations where deletions boil down to "let's not have this conversation because some people will have strong feelings."
posted by zachlipton at 5:22 PM on June 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I certainly realize that they don't always turn out as well as we might hope. But we're increasingly seeing situations where deletions boil down to "let's not have this conversation because some people will have strong feelings."

It's more like "Let's not have this conversation because there is no indication it won't turn into a huge fight and there's still an active fight going from the last time we talked about this topic. Nasty fights are bad for the community." Not all topics, even difficult topics, turn into nasty fights but some of them do. We've been very communicative about those topics and what we think needs to go differently and we're still seeing the same people (and not like one or two, like 10 or 20) just dig in and mix it up every time. This isn't "Not turning out as well as we might hope" territory. This is "Causes users to quit, threaten each other, threaten us, open MeTa threads that burn for days" territory.

The loose thing we say is "There is a higher bar for these sorts of posts" and we stand by this. No topic is verboten but a single link op-ed post is already sort of "Eh" territory and the fact that there's a faction of folks who believe the topic is "absolutely vital" is actually one of the things that makes these threads difficult. MetaFilter isn't a news site, isn't moderated like a news site and doesn't have to staff to be a news site.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:41 PM on June 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


Pointing to a 5 or 6 day old thread about the documentary as being an open thread on the same topic does not.

this. how many page views does that thread get now? in the last 24 hours? you're essentially saying "you can totally link to it on metafilter, but not here where people might actually see it, you should put it there, where almost no one will see it."
posted by cupcake1337 at 7:34 PM on June 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


It will also come up in Recent Activity for anyone who commented in that thread, and in My Favorites for people who favorited the thread. So it will have a pretty good chance of being seen by people who are interested in the topic.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 10:41 PM on June 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


The issues discussed here are absolutely vital and aren't something we're talking enough about.

The "people will want to see it"/"people should see it" divide.

We've been very communicative about those topics and what we think needs to go differently and we're still seeing the same people (and not like one or two, like 10 or 20) just dig in and mix it up every time.

Perhaps a higher bar for participation in the thread, then. And since deleting comments from people who "have strong feelings" and can't engage in any other method than fighting would be a large timesink for the on-duty moderator .... well. I understand why my previously proposed idea is not favored, but it would work really well in preventing in-thread fights!
posted by the man of twists and turns at 5:47 AM on June 4, 2013


Just to be super clear, we are in the enviable position of making exactly zero moderation/content decisions here because of Ad Sense

OK, thanks for the clarification and additional context. It didn't seem like a policy you guys would adopt without a pretty big fight, but I really couldn't think of another interpretation of "we deleted this Assange post because Assange is critical of Google".
posted by hattifattener at 9:06 PM on June 5, 2013


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