Gendered areas on MeFi? November 24, 2013 9:07 PM   Subscribe

I was reading the John Carmack FPP and suddenly became aware that pretty much everyone who had left comments in that thread was male. So I made a very rough tally, which shows that of the 39 unique users who left comments, only one user explicitly specified "female" in their MeFi profile. On a hunch, I went back to the recent Spelunky thread and made the same tally. I came up with 33 unique users, of whom two specify "female" in their profile. Obviously, everyone is free to specify anything (or nothing), but it still strikes as a little lopsided.

I participated in the CD swap twice, and both times sent CDs to sets of five people with typical male names. This is my second Quonsmas, and both of my quonsees are most likely guys. It's certainly possible MetaFilter is overwhelmingly male-dominated. Alternatively, it's possible that women on MeFi are just less likely to add their gender to their MeFi profiles (and less likely to participate in activities that require them to disclose their mailing addresses) because of safety concerns. I think that the cookie swap thread, where almost all users suggest being female, provides some evidence to the contrary.

I am a little surprised that as forward-thinking as MeFites are on average, even in the total absence of anything indicating our gender up front, we seem to be able to segregate ourselves pretty effectively. Can someone please convince me that "video games are a boy thing, cookies are a girl thing" is a good thing? The idea that I'm inadvertently and unconsciously participating in some kind of Good Old Boys MetaFilter doesn't exactly fill me with joy.
posted by Nomyte to MetaFilter-Related at 9:07 PM (446 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

Are you male or female?
posted by Houstonian at 9:13 PM on November 24, 2013 [6 favorites]


I'd have thought the appropriate response to this realization would be to join the cookie swap, because cookies.

But I see the solution is a midnight Metatalk, because engineer's disease.
posted by anotherpanacea at 9:14 PM on November 24, 2013 [41 favorites]


Are you male or female?

I am Liberace, the pinnacle of masculine, feminine, and neuter. But more to the point, I like video games and don't like cookies.
posted by Nomyte at 9:22 PM on November 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


I am a little surprised that as forward-thinking as MeFites are on average, even in the total absence of anything indicating our gender up front, we seem to be able to segregate ourselves pretty effectively. Can someone please convince me that "video games are a boy thing, cookies are a girl thing" is a good thing? The idea that I'm inadvertently and unconsciously participating in some kind of Good Old Boys MetaFilter doesn't exactly fill me with joy.

This seems like a fairly provocative statement if really all you've done is notice this sort of thing in a few places. Do you see it as an overall trend? Or are you just pre-angsting about the fact that this might exist as a sitewide thing?

AskMe tends to be more gender-balanced, but MetaFilter userbase generally is more male than female. I think the last time we checked (with people self-reporting, not checking people's profiles) it was 60/40-ish. The mod team is split 50/50 but if you count the hours of coverage there are more female-hours of coverage here than male-hours of coverage, by a little, not that I think that matters terribly much. The bulk of the people being moderated are male. Of the 20 most-flagged posters from the last 90 days six are female (and one was a spammer, everyone else are longtime users) and 14 are male. Of the 20 most flagged members of the last year, five are female. Of the 20 most flagged members of all time, all twenty are male. So, progress?

I am Liberace, the pinnacle of masculine, feminine, and neuter.

If this is some lulzy troll post, just let us know so that we can close it up. I honestly can't tell.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:24 PM on November 24, 2013 [46 favorites]


When I found myself composing a response to some MetaFilter comment and wondering about the gender of the MeFite I was responding to, I finally ended up asking myself why it would matter. Are there things I would say here that I would say to people of some genders and not others? The same question easily extended to other members' ethnicity, or religion.

I ended up deciding that this inability to know the "memberships" of the people I was talking to was actually an unexpected benefit of the way things work here — occasionally I get an little bit of insight on how I deal with people, and it usually goes like "Do I really think that way? I guess I do. Blech. Time to stop."
posted by benito.strauss at 9:31 PM on November 24, 2013 [18 favorites]


I am a male in case that is not clear. What is not clear to me is why it matters.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 9:32 PM on November 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


Nomyte: “I like video games and don't like cookies.”

I thought about it long and hard, and I'm convinced, with some certainty, that I have never met anyone before who likes video games but not cookies. So: congratulations, I guess. You're a first for me.
posted by koeselitz at 9:35 PM on November 24, 2013 [29 favorites]


But more to the point, I like video games and don't like cookies.

Do you feel as if you can't participate in what you enjoy here? To me, this is the more important question. Sometimes gender lines arise out of genuine expressions of personal preference rather than sexist expectations.
posted by SpacemanStix at 9:39 PM on November 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


Both of the FPPs you mention above are related to video games, which may (or may not) explain the gender imbalance.

And all of the MeFi Swaps that I've been participating in since 2010 have been split 3 males - 2 females consistently, which lines up with jessamyn's stats above.
posted by puritycontrol at 9:39 PM on November 24, 2013


Unless you're suggesting that there's some mechanism that exists solely in the site that drives males to one thing and females to another, all you're seeing is self-segregation. So, people like what they like and gender norms still exist to a large degree. How is this a MetaFilter problem as opposed to a society problem? Is the solution to force guys into the cookie exchange even if they don't want to?

Or are you just pre-angsting about the fact that this might exist as a sitewide thing?

Even if it is a sitewide thing, even if it's pervasive, as long as it's happening based on users' own personal preferences, what are we supposed to do about it?
posted by LionIndex at 9:40 PM on November 24, 2013 [14 favorites]


When I found myself composing a response to some MetaFilter comment and wondering about the gender of the MeFite I was responding to, I finally ended up asking myself why it would matter.

I don't intentionally think of the gender of the users I hear from on MeFi, and I'm not saying that anyone else here does. That's not the point I'm making. The point is that I was surprised that it's possible to think of the conversation as "gender-neutral" and still end up with "guy areas" and "girl areas," even on topics that I don't think of as strongly gendered.
posted by Nomyte at 9:40 PM on November 24, 2013


I can't get all twisted if women want to participate in cookie exchanges and men want to talk about video games. People like what they like.

Now if we were forbidding people to participate in discussions based on the their sex or gender, then I'd be furious. But people self selecting what they like? That's okay.

I'm female - not that it matters.
posted by 26.2 at 9:40 PM on November 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


Anyone interested in swapping video games for cookies? I might be interested in swapping steam keys for some delicious cookies. I prefer thin crunchy chocolate chip cookies but would be open to experiencing cookies of all types.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:41 PM on November 24, 2013 [10 favorites]


As the current secret quonsar czar (send Faberge eggs to ...), I haven't crunched the actual numbers, but I am pretty sure men are in the minority of participants. It's a very large minority, but still a minority.
posted by julen at 9:41 PM on November 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


People, yourself included, are allowed to like whatever it is they like. I don't think it's a problem if a thread is dominated by men or women as long as voices from other people are not being discouraged.

If you think that you couldn't Carmack it up because you were being shut out by men, that's a problem. But if the problem is that you felt that you couldn't do it solely because they were men...then maybe you're part of the problem.
posted by inturnaround at 9:41 PM on November 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


I am a pickle.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 9:48 PM on November 24, 2013 [22 favorites]


I've actually been surprised by the increased number of women gamers and STEM-based careers commenting here in recent years. It's still small compared to the number of men, I'd guess, but don't those numbers sort of reflect reality? I'm not saying it's not a problem, but it's a larger problem than MetaFilter, no? Anyway, since I was just looking over my husband's shoulder while he read a different, popular website with a bunch of "I'd hit it" comments on it tonight, I think MetaFilter does really well on gender stuff these days.

I see where you are coming from, but I think the problem is bigger than MetaFilter. But I respect your question and I hope you don't get piled on in this thread.
posted by onlyconnect at 9:49 PM on November 24, 2013 [6 favorites]


IDK why anyone would assign general ladyness to the cookie exchange when our very own Greg Nog, a mefite so manly that each of his chest hairs holds its own broadsword, once enthusiastically participated in and perhaps even won a prize in a cookie baking contest.
posted by elizardbits at 9:53 PM on November 24, 2013 [52 favorites]



IDK why anyone would assign general ladyness to the cookie exchange


My brow has been furrowed wondering this very thing
posted by sweetkid at 9:55 PM on November 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm female and I'm busy enough doing holiday things for/with people irl with not much time for my interwebs pals. It's neither the patriarchy nor personal.
posted by Ideefixe at 9:56 PM on November 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


a mefite so manly that each of his chest hairs holds its own broadsword

That is a wonderful phrase.
posted by davejay at 9:56 PM on November 24, 2013 [9 favorites]


FWIW, I am a dude, and I feel like Metafilter is by far the most gender-balanced website I frequent.

(I also make a mean cookie, and the reason I didn't sign up is because the mailing deadline corresponds to the end of the semester, and I'm going to be busy graduating and stuff.)
posted by jcreigh at 9:56 PM on November 24, 2013 [6 favorites]


I'm a dude that isn't participating in either the cookie thread (because I didn't know it existed) OR those threads you linked.

It's me, I am the flaw in your dataset.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 9:58 PM on November 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Apropos of gendered things, I had a visit from a five-year-old today who told me, as I unpacked a pink-tissued gift bag, "Pink is for girls." I said, well I'm wearing pink AND blue. I like to have all the colors. You like your red jacket, don't you? "No, I like blue. I'm a boy."
posted by Anitanola at 10:02 PM on November 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


C'mon, it's not crazy to associate the cookie swap with the ladies because baking and cooking are traditionally female roles. And as Nomyte notes most of the respondents in the cookie swap thread who announce a gender in their profile* are female.

* I like to imagine this as "Greetings and salutations from my vagina" but that's probably not how most of us do it.
posted by onlyconnect at 10:08 PM on November 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


Which parts of metafilter do you (or anybody) feel as if you cannot participate in? That would seem to be a key consideration in assessing whether this is a problem in any way.
posted by MoonOrb at 10:10 PM on November 24, 2013 [5 favorites]


It's worth noting that while women play video games, they don't necessarily play the *same* video games as men do (the demographics vary quite a bit game to game and genre to genre) and Carmack made games that skewed much further male, and at a time when video games in general skewed more male. I wouldn't point to a thread about him as an example of something that should be gender-neutral and isn't.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 10:13 PM on November 24, 2013 [27 favorites]


Be the change blah blah...
posted by Etrigan at 10:16 PM on November 24, 2013


The idea that I'm inadvertently and unconsciously participating in some kind of Good Old Boys MetaFilter doesn't exactly fill me with joy.

This statement makes it hard to take the post seriously.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:17 PM on November 24, 2013 [15 favorites]


I like cookies and I like music but I am flat-out terrible at mailing things, and also I should really not have large quantities of cookies in the house. No swaps for me.

And this: The idea that I'm inadvertently and unconsciously participating in some kind of Good Old Boys MetaFilter doesn't exactly fill me with joy.

Come on. You are overthinking your damn beans. If this is something you are genuinely concerned about, what do you think the mods/site should do about it, and what are you going to do about?
posted by rtha at 10:21 PM on November 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


All of my Quonsees have been women. So there's that meaningless data point.

MetaFilter is one of the most inclusive places I know, so I think there may be some confirmation bias going on.
posted by arcticseal at 10:21 PM on November 24, 2013


There are some interesting games that tackle the subject of cookies in video games. In particular, I'd like to point to Cookie Clicker. It is an intriguing contemplative work that encourages the player to confront game mechanics stripped of ludonarrative, the thingness, in a James Turell sense, of purely digital objects and the very nature of cookies qua cookies.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:33 PM on November 24, 2013 [16 favorites]


I like cookies and video games, but am rarely involved with either lately. Something is wrong in my life.
posted by bongo_x at 10:47 PM on November 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


I am a little surprised that as forward-thinking as MeFites are on average, even in the total absence of anything indicating our gender up front, we seem to be able to segregate ourselves pretty effectively.

Umm. You seem to want to give a lot of credit to metafilter for "forward thinking", but regardless of any effect it may have, socialized norms in western society will always have dudes spelunking about as much as chicks are baking.

Also, separate, not segregate.
posted by hal_c_on at 10:51 PM on November 24, 2013


I think it's not a bad thing to be aware of participation trends by gender. Part of the reason gender threads get so animated here is because so many aspects of life interact with gender in entrenched and thorny ways.

At the same time, I haven't noticed any pronounced gender trend in most of the threads I've participated in here; the fact that we happen to have the occasional thread that happens to appeal to male or to female users is probably not surprising with the volume of discussion we have here (am guessing a volcano plot would show this pretty well?). I think to say that we are self-segregating as a userbase would be pretty hyperbolic just based on these examples.
posted by en forme de poire at 11:29 PM on November 24, 2013


in most of the threads I've participated in here

(at least, the ones that don't specifically have to do with gender)
posted by en forme de poire at 11:30 PM on November 24, 2013


We allow people who don't enjoy cookies at Metafilter? Is this an oversight, or a deliberate policy decision?
posted by el io at 11:33 PM on November 24, 2013 [8 favorites]


I think its not unreasonable to notice that certain threads are gender dominated and that that might indicate that certain threads are driving away women/men. Of course, as others have noted, this might be due to men tending to prefer different things to women, and theres not necessarily a great deal that can be done about that on a site level. Also, there are tons of threads on metafilter, and sometimes that'll lead to gender imbalances by random chance. If we accept that thanks to cultural norms women and men tend to like different things then this will only be accentuated.

You can make a thread on knitting as welcoming as you like, I'm probably not going to join in. That may be because when I was younger I was taught that crafts were a "girly" activity, but I'm afraid thats something that has sunk into who I am. On the plus side, I do hate sports.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 11:40 PM on November 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


I have testes that grow under my chin in rows like shark teeth.
posted by planetesimal at 11:57 PM on November 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


I haven't noticed any pronounced gender trend in most of the threads I've participated in here;

And neither have I, which is really the reason I feel unpleasantly surprised in the first place. Most of the time when I interact with people on MeFi, their gender exists in a kind of indeterminate Schroedinger's cat state. I'm unaware of it, it could be anything. But isn't that also the point of gender hegemony, that it's invisible and quietly self-reproducing and self-reinforcing through that "that's just the way it is" thinking? I poked at a thread about video games and got a pretty skewed ratio. I then chose another thread about video games and found a similar ratio.

It's not super-feasible for me to train a classifier, since the data is just so free-form. But I'm wondering what I would find if I downloaded the MeFi data dump and spent a few hours/days manually classifying user accounts. I suspect that there's actually quite a bit of invisible and unremarked gender segregation going on, which most people find perfectly innocuous and obvious and natural.
posted by Nomyte at 11:57 PM on November 24, 2013


Participation on this site is free form, you get what you get.
[cookies)
posted by Namlit at 12:22 AM on November 25, 2013


much as I love both, if I had to choose between video games and cookies, I'd have no problem making the call ...
posted by philip-random at 12:23 AM on November 25, 2013


I'm low carbing, so no video games for me
posted by Namlit at 12:27 AM on November 25, 2013


I like pugs and flourless chocolate cake.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:43 AM on November 25, 2013 [6 favorites]


If a certain topic or activity draws a mostly-male or mostly-female audience...
a) is that a problem? Should everything be equally interesting to people of all genders?
b) is that something anything could be done about, apart from shutting people out? That seems like the solution would be worse than the problem (if it is indeed a problem).

I'm quite active on BookCrossing.com. That site is mostly used by women. Not because it aims to attract them more; it just happens. I don't think that is a bad thing as long as men and other non-women can still feel welcome, which seems to be the case.

BookCrossing profiles do not have a field for gender, but members are free to indicate it in the free form part of the profile. As far as I know, most do not.
We've had discussions about adding a gender field or button and there are always people who prefer not to have one, no matter what the options would be. On BookCrossing, we're all readers and for most of us that's enough.
Some people have said 'A gender indication would be handy so I know not to send chick lit or pink heart shaped stickers to men' but there have always been responses that went 'Please don't ever send me any chick lit or pink heart shaped stickers even though I'm not a man'.

I like some computer games but I'm not calling myself a gamer. And I like a cookie every now and then but I don't bake them. So, no cookie swap for me.
posted by Too-Ticky at 12:54 AM on November 25, 2013


My wife is the hardcorest-ass gamer. Owned every console since the Atari 2600, can one-credit Cave bullet hell shooters, currently some kind of level 55 Star Wars space asshole. Her idea of a romantic date is a candlelit dinner featuring all of the vegetables, cheese wheels, and bread loaves found as props in Skyrim, followed by a few episodes of Cosmos, and then she goes into the other room and we have steamy cybersex in a secluded grotto on a text-based fantasy MUD.. and also she is a chemistry major who owns actual lab goggles and is on a PhD track.

I can't convince her to participate here because "that's that blue thing that's always on your screen with all the smart people yelling at each other, right? No way, what if I say something dumb and they yell at me in that angry gray place? I can't keep up with those people."

She's a naturalized Cylon-American though, probably not a good data point
posted by jake at 1:01 AM on November 25, 2013 [41 favorites]


Just to illustrate how broad-based, how wonderfully diverse MetaFilter is, there is a member who does not like cookies. Surely this is rare.
posted by Cranberry at 1:20 AM on November 25, 2013 [7 favorites]


It really is a Eucharist with chocolate chips.
posted by planetesimal at 1:22 AM on November 25, 2013




The point is that I was surprised that it's possible to think of the conversation as "gender-neutral" and still end up with "guy areas" and "girl areas," even on topics that I don't think of as strongly gendered.

I think you're probably wrong about either topic not being strongly gendered. It's hard for me to think of any video games which are more likely for the audience to be gender-biased than Doom and Quake. And cookie baking likely skews female though not to the same extent that Doom and Quake skew male.

But in any case, it's not really a problem if more men or women participate in any given thread or Metafilter-adjacent activity, it's only a problem if that alleged (since we're talking about some really iffy anecdotal investigation here) self-segregation occurs because those threads or activities are not welcoming to both men and women.
posted by Justinian at 1:39 AM on November 25, 2013


Oh, I think its weird that Nomyte is complaining(?) about the gender presentation of people in a couple threads while being weirdly evasive about his/her own. Is this performance art or something?
posted by Justinian at 1:42 AM on November 25, 2013 [11 favorites]


What? No. I've been perfectly candid about my gender, and a great deal besides, in cases when that was relevant. In this case it's irrelevant, because I don't think my gender should have anything to do with how I interact with MetaFilter.
posted by Nomyte at 1:45 AM on November 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh, I think its weird that Nomyte is complaining(?) about the gender presentation of people in a couple threads while being weirdly evasive about his/her own.

I think it's weird that anyone cares enough to know to think that Nomyte is being "weirdly evasive."
posted by Etrigan at 1:47 AM on November 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think it's weird that you think it's weird... oh never mind.

What? No. I've been perfectly candid about my gender, and a great deal besides, in cases when that was relevant.

Ok, so why do you think the gender of the people participating in the threads you brought up is relevant in some way but yours is not? Neither seems particularly relevant to me but I'm not the one who started this Metatalk after all...
posted by Justinian at 1:49 AM on November 25, 2013 [6 favorites]


Because I think there's a good probability that your next comment would be something along the lines of "be the change you want to see," when what I'm talking about are patterns that shake our when people act in aggregate.
posted by Nomyte at 1:53 AM on November 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


I finally ended up asking myself why it would matter

As benito.strauss mentioned, I kind of feel the same way, to the point that unless I specifically know otherwise (because the mefite in question has identified their own gender in a comment) I've gotten to the point where I just don't try to guess anymore. It's really rarely at all important (outside of specific contexts, where gender is the topic at hand).

In other words, until you tell me otherwise, I'll continue to view you as sexless. As smooth and unfeatured as a Barbie and/or Ken doll.
posted by Ghidorah at 2:04 AM on November 25, 2013


Now I kind of want to start a sketch blog about novel imaginary genitals.
posted by Nomyte at 2:12 AM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


"But I'm wondering what I would find if I downloaded the MeFi data dump and spent a few hours/days manually classifying user accounts. I suspect that there's actually quite a bit of invisible and unremarked gender segregation going on, which most people find perfectly innocuous and obvious and natural."

I think your time would be better spent reading up on gender dynamics, especially as they relate to online communities. If you have academic library access, this article about gender and genre in weblogs (Herring & Paolillo, 2006) is a good starting point. It shows how genres (and subgenres) can be gendered, and people participating online may conform to those genres rather than make contributions online that are gendered. That is, people may perform gender online that is in line with the gendered space they are occupying, rather than performing gender that is reflective of their own actual gender. While the article isn't directly addressing your concerns, it clearly shows some of the deeper issues with doing gender analyses of these sorts and that the topic is much more nuanced than it originally seems. For example, people may be performing gender (in their profiles even!) on MetaFilter based on how they perceive MetaFilter. You wouldn't know the genders of the people who decline to state their gender in their profile, either. Or whether, say, men tend to comment more than women. And in certain genres, topics, or subsites.

Basically, there are a lot more variables that would need to be accounted for before you could make any claims about gender (im)balance. But you don't need to reinvent the wheel either…many people have been studying this very thing (that is, gender in computer-mediated communication) for a long time.

Just to add some stats to the pile, I conducted two surveys of MetaFilter for my PhD dissertation and found the following:
In 2010, when four options were given for stating gender (Male, Female, Transgender, Other) the distribution was 63% Male, 35% Female, 1% QUILTBAG and 1% declined to state. In 2012, when the question was free-form and data were manually normalized, the distribution of participants was 51% male, 43% female, 4% QUILTBAG and 2% declined to state. Both surveys' data represented over 10% of the active MetaFilter userbase (those who have made at least one post or one comment in the year prior to the survey). Fyi, another study of MetaFilter in 2010 (Warnick, 2010; dissertation) reported 48% Male, 47% Female, 10% declined to state from his 2009 survey data; Sessions (2010) and Lawton (2005) both reported results from a survey conducted in 2004 by MeFite fvw. Referring to the same data, Sessions reported fvw’s finding as MetaFilter being 68% male, while Lawton reported 63% male (but those survey data are no longer available for verifying the actual results).

Lawton, P., 2005. Capital and stratification within virtual community: a case study of MetaFilter.com. Lethbridge, Alta.: University of Lethbridge, Faculty of Arts and Science, c2005.

Sessions, L.F., 2010. How Offline Gatherings Affect Online Communities. Information, Communication & Society, 13(3), pp.375–395.

Warnick, Q., 2010. What We Talk about when We Talk about Talking: Ethos at Work in an Online Community. Iowa State University.

posted by iamkimiam at 2:18 AM on November 25, 2013 [61 favorites]


QUILTBAG is a gender? Surely it also includes people who fall squarely under male or female, since being Lesbian or Gay doesn't make you stop being male or female... or am I barking up the wrong end of the stick here?
(Wouldn't be the first time, so please feel free to tell me.)
posted by Too-Ticky at 2:26 AM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Because I think there's a good probability that your next comment would be something along the lines of "be the change you want to see," when what I'm talking about are patterns that shake our when people act in aggregate.

So that long ends answer mans gender matters when you think it matters, not when others think it matters
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:38 AM on November 25, 2013 [8 favorites]


Are women less likely to report their gender online?
posted by sciencegeek at 2:47 AM on November 25, 2013


I'd guess so, since there's a ton of incentive not to. People also tend to default to male when guessing gender, since that's society's default state.
posted by NoraReed at 3:08 AM on November 25, 2013 [15 favorites]


Are you male or female?

I am Liberace, the pinnacle of masculine, feminine, and neuter. But more to the point, I like video games and don't like cookies.
posted by Nomyte at 5:22 AM on November 25 [1 favorite +] [!]


See, this kind of cutesy evasiveness doesn't exactly help your case.
posted by Decani at 3:49 AM on November 25, 2013 [13 favorites]


Out of curiosity, I counted up the tallies for the current top FPPs on the blue (pretty quick and dirty, so there might be small mistakes, but I think it's roughly accurate)

NEETS (about electrical engineering) = 10 male, 1 female, 5 not specified
Electroacoustic music = 5 male, 2 not specified
South Pole = 9 male, 1 female, 11 not specified
That's life = 5 male, 1 female
Alan tutorial = 15 male, 2 female, 5 not specified
Civil obedience = 10 male, 1 female, 9 not specified
Virgil Ortiz = 2 male, 4 female
Gene Ween = 3 male, 9 not specified

So I see several non-exclusive hypotheses, given the above stat that the userbase is like 60/40 male/female:

(a) These stats are skewed or non-representative of the site in general
(b) The male users tend to comment more in general on all posts, while female users are more likely to lurk. Implies there isn't strong self-segregation by post topic
(c) Female users are much more likely to not specify their gender
(d) There is strong self-segregation by post topic, but most posts tend to be preferred by male users

I just tallied these out of interest; my geeky data-loving self would love to see if this general pattern holds with much larger N. I don't see what the problem is, though -- or at least, if there is a problem, it's not a problem with Metafilter and not something Metafilter can do much about. (I'm female, FWIW).

I mean, people will talk about what they want to talk about, right? God knows I'd hate to have people constantly exhorting the women me to speak up more in order to meet some arbitrary criterion of gender balance.

The real question is, does it feel like a Good Ol' Boy's club? I don't think so, by and large, especially by comparison to almost any other site out there. Heck, even Nomyte couldn't tell from the flavour of the conversation that it was dominated by men - it was necessary to look up user profiles.
posted by forza at 3:49 AM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


I have testes that grow under my chin in rows like shark teeth.

You are Hugh Jackman from Movie 43 and I claim my five pounds.
posted by Sticherbeast at 4:22 AM on November 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't see why the gender breakdown in those threads is either troubling or surprising. People are interested in what they're interested in.

My strong suspicion is that the majority of "something is seriously wrong with Metafilter" MeTas are by male users. Infodump boffins, can you confirm?
posted by Admiral Haddock at 4:40 AM on November 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


I am a cat.

(If only.)

I think you have also left another, completely intangible factor out-- readers. For example, I was going to post in the latest Pacquiao thread, but I didn't because the undercard fight I watched was boring and I forgot the cogent point I had been composing. I did send the article to a friend and we had a whole discussion about it. On the other hand, I never thought to check the gender of anyone who did comment so maybe it was all cats anyways. I come to the blue with the expectation that my comments will be read for what they are, not what gender I associate with.
posted by jetlagaddict at 4:56 AM on November 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


It's cats all the way down. That much is clear.
posted by Too-Ticky at 4:59 AM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Is this a good place to say that Carnack's games are wack, and that he's probably more responsible than anyone for the rise (and eventual dominance) of my least-favorite game genre, which has kinda driven me away from video games in general?

Because, in the thread, that would kinda seem like threadshitting.
posted by box at 5:20 AM on November 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


I once received a cheerful MeMail expressing shock that I was not a lady!

...

Nomyte, I'm unclear on the concrete purpose for this callout. Should fewer men post to the Carmack thread? Should we recruit more women to post to the Carmack thread? It would be one thing if the Carmack thread was, say, a thread in which men were dogpiling women, but that wasn't happening there. (And if this thread isn't really "about" the Carmack thread, then what would have been the point of bringing it up?)

The idea that every topic should have a perfect 50/50 split is itself problematic. Feminism doesn't say that everybody is literally identical, just that everybody should be treated equally and have equal opportunity. If men are, as a group, more interested in Quake, and women are, as a group, more interested in cookies, but that difference doesn't otherwise hurt anyone, then who cares.

It's problematic in a similar way to the "all religions are the same when you think about it" mentality. No, actually many religions have diverse viewpoints. They're not all the same. That's what diversity...is. Religions don't have to be the same as yours (or your lack thereof) for you to respect them. If the reason why religious discrimination is wrong is because there are really no significant differences between religions, then there is also the implication that religious discrimination would be okay if there actually were significant differences between religions.
posted by Sticherbeast at 5:40 AM on November 25, 2013 [7 favorites]


See, this kind of cutesy evasiveness doesn't exactly help your case.

Why does anyone give a flying fuck what gender Nomyte is? If Nomyte was complaining by saying "No one is specifying their gender and it's soooo confusing" then hir "evasiveness" would be hypocritical. But that's not what Nomyte is complaining about.

This is not to say that I think that Nomyte's actual complaint is worth much consideration. The mods are really surprisingly good at addressing individual instances of problematic behavior, and there's no reason to think that there's anything about the structure of the site or its culture (as distinct from the cultures of its userbase) that contributes to gender segregation on a more systematic level.
posted by Jpfed at 5:44 AM on November 25, 2013 [6 favorites]


What? No. I've been perfectly candid about my gender, and a great deal besides, in cases when that was relevant. In this case it's irrelevant, because I don't think my gender should have anything to do with how I interact with MetaFilter.

I think your gender is explicitly relevant in this case, since you have brought to the table a question of whether it is appropriate that this community self-selects along stereotypical gender lines. Perhaps especially since you're a guy and thus part of society's majority, if not MeFi's, and therefore part of a priviliged group that has traditionally helped reinforce those definitions.

(I am assuming it's not a problem to point out that you are male, since you said "I've been perfectly candid about my gender, and a great deal besides....")

In any event, in this case people are, as was mentioned up thread, self-selecting. They're choosing whether they will interact, not having participation thrust upon them (or prevented.) Personally, I don't see any "boy zone" comments in the Carmack thread.
posted by zarq at 5:45 AM on November 25, 2013 [7 favorites]


I have testes that grow under my chin in rows like shark teeth.

where do i order the t-shirt?
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 6:01 AM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


I am a lady who played all of Carmack's games back in the day. I genuinely enjoyed them at the time, and I genuinely have nothing new to say about Commander Keen 20 years later. I don't think that has much to do with my gender, but now I feel like I ought to go comment in the thread just to spite this thread.
posted by hydropsyche at 6:04 AM on November 25, 2013 [7 favorites]


So what's your solution to this problem, nomyte? No future threads on 'gendered' topics? Mandatory participation by both genders in equal numbers in any given thread? What?
posted by picea at 6:11 AM on November 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


Why does anyone give a flying fuck what gender Nomyte is?

Why does Nomyte give a flying fuck what the gender of the commenters were in those two threads?

There wasn't an actual complaint about men behaving badly or women being driven away. It was essentially Nomyte noting they were reading a thread and suddenly noticed that it was full of...them. Men creatures. Clumping together in groups, loitering in threads and commenting, like, like...well, let's just use an analogy that has a historic precedent of actively and overtly denying other groups their basic rights and dignity, something like, oh I dunno, "Good Old Boys"

Seriously, what. the. fuck.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:12 AM on November 25, 2013 [26 favorites]


C'mon, it's not crazy to associate the cookie swap with the ladies because baking and cooking are traditionally female roles.

As a man who cooks but isn't interested in video games, I adjust my participation accordingly. I don't knit, but if I started learning you can bet I'd start reading and posting in knitting FPPs. (Assuming there are actually knitting FPPs, of course.)

I guess I'm not getting the point of this Meta other than performance art with a sidenote of grar. Yes, people self select, and gender is a huge component of that. Yes, there are situations where it can go beyond benign self-selection and indicate a structural problem (as in female students leaving a field because it is hostile, rather than because their interests change). But I can't see how people choosing to comment in one versus another FPP reaches that level.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:13 AM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


The mod team is split 50/50 but if you count the hours of coverage there are more female-hours of coverage here than male-hours of coverage, by a little, not that I think that matters terribly much. The bulk of the people being moderated are male. Of the 20 most-flagged posters from the last 90 days six are female (and one was a spammer, everyone else are longtime users) and 14 are male. Of the 20 most flagged members of the last year, five are female. Of the 20 most flagged members of all time, all twenty are male. So, progress?

Oh, man, this felt totally like I was reading a King of Dragon Pass end-of-year report! Buy more cattle, get more web pages for users to graze in! More meetups with our neighbors! Hire more Magic- and Plant-oriented mods to the ring!
posted by ignignokt at 6:17 AM on November 25, 2013 [7 favorites]


I am Liberace

Howdy. I'm the boy in the gin-soaked boy. More to the point, I love cookies—no, like Alvy Singer, "love" is too weak a word to describe how I feel about cookies—I luff cookies—and I'm pretty indifferent to video games.

I had a visit from a five-year-old today who told me, as I unpacked a pink-tissued gift bag, "Pink is for girls."

Next time, tell him that pink is the navy blue of India and blow his little mind.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:19 AM on November 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


This is the first time I've ever considered that my love of cookies might be a special lady problem.

Guess I'll be filing that in the bin along with:
-the patriarchy
-purple kitchen appliances
-uterus
posted by phunniemee at 6:20 AM on November 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


So you're male and you're surprised that the threads that you personally find interesting are dominated by users who also identify as male? And this is... news? And the counter example you could find for a thread dominated by female identified users is one about baking?

And the problem here is MetaFilter?
posted by sonika at 6:21 AM on November 25, 2013 [26 favorites]


I organized the previous cookie swaps and I am, technically, a boy. About 30% of participants appeared to be male last year, based on 1 minute's half-assed review. And about 15% Canadian, for what that is worth.
posted by shothotbot at 6:25 AM on November 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think there are some problems with threads about gender, but mostly other threads I'm interested in don't have problems with too many men in them. Just the gender ones.

I'm not in the camp that will pretend I don't care about or notice gender in other posters, though, since that does often inform where they're coming from on stuff. It's def a thing I check profiles for.
posted by NoraReed at 6:28 AM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


I bake things other than cookies and my friend is too busy playing the new Marvel lego game to try out Spelunky (or do anything else) even though she'd enjoy it.
posted by ersatz at 6:29 AM on November 25, 2013


Ooh, that game is out already? *\o/*
posted by elizardbits at 6:31 AM on November 25, 2013


I'm male, I don't care that much for video games, and I love baking cookies, especially around the holidays. I've been known to bake 10+ kinds of cookies in a holiday season. I don't participate in the cookie exchange because I don't care to ship or receive cookies. (And for this year, due to other activities, I won't start baking until about the due date for shipping anyway. Most years I begin cookie baking on Black Friday.) Unfortunately for MeFites, the beneficiaries of my cookie baking obsession shall remain RL friends, family, and coworkers whom I see at holiday parties.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 6:41 AM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


The first computer game I ever played was Doom, back in the stone ages before home internet was a thing, and it came in an accordian pack of pot-luck CDs that included stuff like A BAJILLION AND ONE CRAZEEE FONTS!!! or whatever. My husband and I spent many happy hours hunched over our little Packard Bell pc killing bad guys. But later came ... Myst! That was like heaven for me, and my husband was just as into it as I was. We both like cookies! We both cook and bake (a little). Neither of us have followed Doom-type games after that first one, though it holds a special place in our hearts. So I didn't have much to add in the Carmack thread, but I wouldn't have felt unwelcome to pop in and share that bit of ancient history just because I'm homogametic. I think we do pretty okay around here, usually.
posted by taz (staff) at 6:44 AM on November 25, 2013 [8 favorites]


Remove the gender field from profiles. Sorted.
posted by terrapin at 6:45 AM on November 25, 2013


That's perhaps a problem but maybe not the best example.

A balance or imbalance in the gender [knowing the malleability of the defintion] of people who choose to comment here on Metafilter, is indicative of, well, nothing.

John D. Carmack isn't likely made of protein and the controls for Spelunky fucking suck.
posted by vapidave at 6:48 AM on November 25, 2013


i'm a woman type person. i've been playing video games since the commodore. i hatehateHATE carmack and if i entered that thread i would only shit on it, which seemed rude, so i didn't. i saw the splunky thread, but as it's in my "this game will be AWESOME...once i play these other 40 games ahead of it on my steam list..." i didn't want to read anything about the secret eggplant. i didn't cookie swap because i suck so hard at mailing things.

the only topic that personally feels straight up aggressive and one that i am not able to engage with in any way here is julian assange - not sure if it's a woman thing or an abuse survivor thing or what, but when i participate in those threads my opinions of some mefites that i really, really like lowers considerably. i've decided to just leave it alone and read/comment/participate in other threads.


I once received a cheerful MeMail expressing shock that I was not a lady!

ha! me too! maybe more than one, actually.
posted by nadawi at 6:48 AM on November 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


I never liked Doom. But Marathon and Marathon 2? Those were amazing time sucks.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:49 AM on November 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


Um, skipping the assange. Why the carmack hate?
posted by vapidave at 6:51 AM on November 25, 2013


i don't like shooters, i don't like anything id software put out, i draw direct line from id software to a bunch of shit in the industry i don't like today. the move to 3d ruined a bunch of games i liked. i think it's silly that people are all excited that a dude who did some shit they liked 25 years ago is now making cellphone games.

but, i'm glad people are glad and i'm glad people have found things they've liked in his games and i don't really like just roundly shitting on things that bring people joy. there's nothing wrong with him objectively - i just like to imagine a gaming industry without him.
posted by nadawi at 6:59 AM on November 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


Remove the gender field from profiles. Sorted.

You can already put anything you want in the gender field (I am a San Francisco Giants fan, for example, although after last season...). Anyway, how does obfuscating the data solve a problem, or help you determine if there's a problem that needs solving?
posted by rtha at 7:04 AM on November 25, 2013


it's possible that women on MeFi are just less likely to add their gender to their MeFi profiles (and less likely to participate in activities that require them to disclose their mailing addresses) because of safety concerns

Not only physical safety, but just pre-judgment, dismissal, and maybe online harassment, which is something learned the hard way on on the Internet since the early 90s. I mean, I do sort of indicate my gender in my profile, though I don't know how many people can parse it, and the cat is out of the bag as far as I go anyhow. But there have been times I blanked it out, and I did remove my name because I was starting to get some uncomfortable treads of real-life uninvited interaction. This isn't unusual. I suspect that of people who don't specify gender, a majority of them would turn out to be female. There is just more incentive to conceal gender for females rather than males, in a forum like this.

I prefer MeFi over other similar web fora because it's the most egalitarian I've found, but it's not free of the social patterns that apply in the broader society. What I think is much more important than counting up how many of each is participating in a given thread is ensuring that anyone who participates in any thread is taken seriously and given the opportunity to speak without being undermined by gender stereotyping.
posted by Miko at 7:07 AM on November 25, 2013 [30 favorites]


ha! me too! maybe more than one, actually.

Wait, what? I thought you were of the lady variety.

I understand some of the anger/wtf/grar here because even if what Nomyte has noticed in a few threads is true of the site overall (and I'm not saying it is), there is not really any good answer about what to do about it, and it's not really MetaFilter's fault. And because MetaFilter really does do gender now so much better than so many other websites.

But is it bad to even raise the question? As a woman, I actually appreciate that a man is noticing this and bringing it up, but it seems like a lot of people think it is sort of a waste of time. Not to me, unless it creating a sort of impatience with the topic. Is it possible that everyone has a finite tolerance level for gender-type threads in MetaTalk, and talking about this sort of thing too frequently gets on people's nerves? Or that people here have talked about gender/feminism stuff so much that they want to reserve their energies for cases that, they think, really matter?
posted by onlyconnect at 7:08 AM on November 25, 2013 [6 favorites]


I like traffic lights. And turtles and a fireplace when the lights are low. And big butts and to move it.

I like the cut of your jib.
posted by h00py at 7:10 AM on November 25, 2013 [5 favorites]


oh! i read that wrong!! i have received memails with shock that i AM a lady. not recently though.
posted by nadawi at 7:10 AM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Hi Nomyte, I'm a woman and an enthusiastic video gamer and fan of comic books, as you might observe if you look over my commenting history; but I didn't even look at the John Carmack thread because to me it looked like "CEO decides he can't CEO it up for two companies at once" which doesn't exactly strike me as compelling reading material.

But thanks for making assumptions and stuff
posted by trunk muffins at 7:19 AM on November 25, 2013 [9 favorites]


It's gutsy to trot out the "Good Old Boys" club accusation about an entire community based on:

1) your analysis of three non-randomly selected threads and your participation in four swaps, all of which have self-selecting samples, and

2) a categorical variable based on a field that (as proven by your profile) is free-form and not mandatory.

So maybe you should count up participant gender info in 998 more "masculine" threads and 999 more "feminine" threads and let us know what you find.
posted by kimberussell at 7:20 AM on November 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


i don't like shooters, i don't like anything id software put out, i draw direct line from id software to a bunch of shit in the industry i don't like today. the move to 3d ruined a bunch of games i liked.

Fair enough.

i think it's silly that people are all excited that a dude who did some shit they liked 25 years ago is now making cellphone games.

Here we part company.

Carmack is more an engineer than a designer and is largely responsible for online play. His engines allow some latitude to designers but do not define design.

I think you are objecting to gaming culture and making a mistake. Engineers aren't responsible for consumers.

Carmack is a natural engineer.
posted by vapidave at 7:31 AM on November 25, 2013


I am a lady who played all of Carmack's games back in the day. I genuinely enjoyed them at the time, and I genuinely have nothing new to say about Commander Keen 20 years later.

But Dopefish references never get old!
posted by jcreigh at 7:35 AM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


I took my humorous reference to being an egg-generating mammal out of my profile just now because the idea of people counting up the number of female-identified persons in threads to prove some point that is still unclear to me sort of gross.
posted by winna at 7:38 AM on November 25, 2013 [12 favorites]


-purple kitchen appliances

Do they really come in purple, or is that like a special-order-from-Elvis thing?
posted by Hoopo at 7:42 AM on November 25, 2013


"Oh, I think its weird that Nomyte is complaining(?) about the gender presentation of people in a couple threads while being weirdly evasive about his/her own. Is this performance art or something?"

Not everyone has a gender to present that fits into a neat box or even any distinguishable one at all, and having one is absofuckinglutely not a requirement for having complaints about gender. All this weird bigoted gotchya shit should stop.
posted by Blasdelb at 7:43 AM on November 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


I think you are objecting to gaming culture and making a mistake. Engineers aren't responsible for consumers.

wow that's condescending. not sure why my opinion on the silliness of his job change means i don't understand what an engineer is and what consumers are.
posted by nadawi at 7:44 AM on November 25, 2013 [5 favorites]


i think it's silly that people are all excited that a dude who did some shit they liked 25 years ago is now making cellphone games.

He's making virtual reality hardware, but close enough.
posted by empath at 7:51 AM on November 25, 2013


Purple kitchen appliances aren't a problem: they're a blessing from the gods. I wish I had some, but since I don't I at least like being able to look at them in stores.

Brandon, I feel like a lot of folks don't necessarily know the race history of the term "good old boys." The women in an office where I worked up here in Yankee land -- in an office where there was a pretty bad gender problem -- used the term to indicate a class/membership/caste thing that came with being white and male and heterosexual and gender-normative. So maybe Nomyte didn't realize that the term also summons up terrible imagery from Southern history.
posted by brina at 7:52 AM on November 25, 2013


oh occulus rift, that's right. well previously he was all excited about mobile, wasn't he? i think i'm probably even less interested in occulus rift but that's just because my brain doesn't do 3d.
posted by nadawi at 7:53 AM on November 25, 2013


> But is it bad to even raise the question?

I might have an opinion on that if I understood what the actual question was.
posted by Too-Ticky at 7:53 AM on November 25, 2013 [11 favorites]


oh occulus rift, that's right. well previously he was all excited about mobile, wasn't he? i think i'm probably even less interested in occulus rift but that's just because my brain doesn't do 3d.

The 3d part is kind of half of the experience. The rest is full field of view and low latency head-tracking. It works perfectly well with no depth perception at at all.
posted by empath at 7:55 AM on November 25, 2013


yeah - i can't even watch someone play minecraft or skyrim. pretty sure the occulus rift would be a vomit comet for me. regardless, this was sort of my point - my opinions on carmack are really inconsequential and didn't belong in the thread which is why i didn't participate - not because it's for boys and i feel unwelcome because i have tits.
posted by nadawi at 7:57 AM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've ever considered that my love of cookies might be a special lady problem.

We have enough special lady problems. I think this is a dude-MeFite lack of cookie love problem.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:58 AM on November 25, 2013 [5 favorites]


The women in an office where I worked up here in Yankee land -- in an office where there was a pretty bad gender problem -- used the term to indicate a class/membership/caste thing that came with being white and male and heterosexual and gender-normative.

Yes, the general usage was the intended definition. It's a problematic term, no matter how you slice it, so Nomyte's usage of it in the post was wildly inappropriate.

All this weird bigoted gotchya shit should stop.

Here, here! Let anyone be a gamer and cookie lover if they feel it's the right lifestyle choice for them.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:01 AM on November 25, 2013


Blasdelb: "and having one is absofuckinglutely not a requirement for having complaints about gender. "

Requirement? No.

Helpful information? Yes.

Mansplaining exists.

In a case like this, Nomyte is essentially asking whether people are being shut out of two different threads because of their gender and if that is an example of a larger trend that occurs throughout Metafilter.

However, in the two threads he highlights, no evidence (zero! none!) exists that is happening other than the overall gender makeup of the commenters. No examples have been given of aggressive, silencing comments / behavior by one set of users against those of a different gender in those two threads. Which by itself is not an example of "boy zone" behavior.

So it can be quite helpful to understand the greater context behind the question. Given the apparent lack of a visible problem and a logical explanation for the phenomenon, it seems reasonable to ask whether Nomyte might be asking the question for a specific reason he's not stating.
posted by zarq at 8:01 AM on November 25, 2013 [9 favorites]


Blasdelb: "Not everyone has a gender to present that fits into a neat box or even any distinguishable one at all"

This is actually a nice, neat answer to Nomyte's question.

Since he brought up traditional gender divisions in the first place.
posted by zarq at 8:03 AM on November 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


But is it bad to even raise the question? As a woman, I actually appreciate that a man is noticing this and bringing it up, but it seems like a lot of people think it is sort of a waste of time.

I think the tricky thing here is that, in a null context, a metatalk post gets analyzed as a sort of challenge/complaint first and foremost, and when it's not clear either (a) that it's not a complaint or (b) what the exact nature of the complaint or goal of raising it is, people here tend to get sort of annoyed or frustrated or antagonistic. Especially when the topic at the core of the post is something that's historically been fraught.

So it's not so much people reacting in terms of "it's bad to bring this up" so much as "it's bad to bring this up without being a lot clearer about why and what you want to achieve and whether you have a concrete sense of how people should engage this". Collective (which is not to say unanimous) annoyance at the structure of the metatalk-as-a-metatalk more than at the topic being broached.

In particular, I'd like to point to Cookie Clicker.

Ad Hominem's is the path of wisdom.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:06 AM on November 25, 2013 [10 favorites]


They say you are what you eat, but I'm definitely a man and not a ham sandwich.
posted by MuffinMan at 8:07 AM on November 25, 2013


Girl you thought he was a man, but he was a muffin
posted by Venadium at 8:08 AM on November 25, 2013 [7 favorites]


I have never received a MeMail expressing surprise that I'm not actually a seal. I am disappoint.
posted by arcticseal at 8:11 AM on November 25, 2013 [7 favorites]


I knew Liberace, and you, sir, are no Liberace.
posted by thinkpiece at 8:13 AM on November 25, 2013 [5 favorites]


Some people like cupcakes better. I for one care less for them.
posted by octobersurprise at 8:13 AM on November 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


Of the 20 most-flagged posters from the last 90 days six are female (and one was a spammer, everyone else are longtime users) and 14 are male. Of the 20 most flagged members of the last year, five are female. Of the 20 most flagged members of all time, all twenty are male. So, progress?

Wow, our campaign to attract more female jackasses to the site is really starting to pay off!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 8:14 AM on November 25, 2013 [10 favorites]


But more to the point, I like video games and don't like cookies.

Who the hell doesn't like cookies? Something doesn't add up here.
posted by Naberius at 8:20 AM on November 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


our campaign to attract more female jackasses to the site is really starting to pay off!

Chris Rock has talked about racial equality and how you knew baseball was getting more genuinely racially balanced because you would get black ballplayers who weren't just wunderkinds a la Jackie Robinson. You were moving closer to equality because you had black ballplayers who sucked. So a site that has women serving in all the roles of various sorts of internet commenters does seem like it's achieving some sort of balance.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:26 AM on November 25, 2013 [30 favorites]


Wow, our campaign to attract more female jackasses to the site is really starting to pay off!

all the same rights and opportunities as the guys, even if that's being a jackass.

Who the hell doesn't like cookies? Something doesn't add up here.
my mother doesn't like chocolate. the mind boggles.
posted by nadawi at 8:27 AM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


I am female-bodied and didn't comment in the Carmack thread not because it was about video games but because I'm not generally particularly interested in the fine details of the life of a guy who is going from a company where he hasn't done anything I considered relevant in years to the company that seems to be producing the next Virtual Boy, but I don't feel the need when I have thoughts like that to go in and share them with everybody. Cough. My point is that not commenting does not totally indicate disinterest or for that matter not existing.

I like cookies but I live in a crap apartment with an oven that is extremely disagreeable and for the moment must leech all my baked goods from others.

I'm very much not sure what this proves. I have no intention of changing my profile at this point just to apply labels so people can tally up proportions of comments like my contribution makes this website more or less feminine by existing. Western society socializes boys and girls differently and thus different proportions are likely in any given discussion about anything, even on a site that is generally quite balanced and generally (though not always) non-hostile to nonconformity with traditional gender roles and identities.
posted by Sequence at 8:30 AM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh well, my tongue was certaily well planted in my cheek with that comment. One might hope we'd see some better (or at least more non-negative/neutral) stats than top 20 most flagged, like say top 20 most prolific posters, but I suppose it's some measure of an equalizing playing field.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 8:33 AM on November 25, 2013


This is the first holiday MeTa doom thread in recent memory where I have literally no idea what we are fighting about.
posted by Think_Long at 8:39 AM on November 25, 2013 [15 favorites]


For what it's worth, I'm a man and I was reading the cookie thread thinking how I haven't baked cookies in ages then I clicked on the Cookie Clicker link and ended up spending the afternoon making videogame cookies instead of real life cookies. So my point is... uh, I forget. But I think l left Cookie Clicker running overnight so I probably have like a trillion cookies now.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 8:39 AM on November 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


I make 1.214 trillion cookies per second. And that's not adjusting for wrinkler multiplexing.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:41 AM on November 25, 2013 [6 favorites]


I have literally no idea what we are fighting about.

Men are no longer allowed to have cookies, if they have any they go to cookie prison where they must work long hours in the candy mines instead.

i think
posted by elizardbits at 8:41 AM on November 25, 2013 [14 favorites]


this is the pastriarchy in action, folks.
posted by elizardbits at 8:42 AM on November 25, 2013 [38 favorites]


I think it's the dessert hegenummy in action.
posted by Think_Long at 8:44 AM on November 25, 2013 [8 favorites]


Why is it bad to occasionally check ourselves on whether our gender is influencing our interests and participation here in a way that might be negative? All of the grar directed at Nomyte in this thread is starting to feel weird.

The impatience with questions in MetaTalk is one of the things that still gets me angry here. I wish we could talk about stuff like this as though we were in a Philosophy classroom knocking interesting ideas around, instead of telling someone, in 100 different ways, that their question sucks.

I think the "Good Old Boys" sentence at the end is probably what tested people's goodwill here, and I guess I can understand that.

As a participant here, I wonder whether I should be pushing myself to read and participate in threads that are more of a stretch to my interests, because it would push me and open me up a bit more. Should I be leaning in to technology posts so I could learn more about shit I don't know anything about?

That reminds me a little bit of the MetaFilter post about a month back about Jackson Katz, the feminist educator who teaches that we have to start thinking about violence against women as a men's issue. That is, people will self-select what they listen to according to gender, to some degree, so it's very hard to reach men if you advertise your talk as one dealing exclusively with women's issues.

Not that cookie swap threads = violence against women! I'm just thinking aloud about the connections between things. We read what interests us, and sometimes that's gendered. And sometimes it could be helpful to push the boundaries of those gendered interests because we are missing out on ideas that could help us. And cookies.

on preview: cortex, I hear you about people getting annoyed generally about MetaTalk posts that don't seem to be clear or have a point.
posted by onlyconnect at 8:44 AM on November 25, 2013 [7 favorites]


The point is that I was surprised that it's possible to think of the conversation as "gender-neutral" and still end up with "guy areas" and "girl areas," even on topics that I don't think of as strongly gendered.

John Carmack is strongly gendered.
posted by Combustible Edison Lighthouse at 8:45 AM on November 25, 2013


Not that cookie swap threads = violence against women!

You haven't seen what happens to people that try and take my cookies!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 8:48 AM on November 25, 2013


Nomyte, it seems rude to rely on other people's representations of their gender here in order to make generalizations about Metafilter, but when asked what your own gender is, you avoid the question. That's fucked up.
posted by jayder at 8:48 AM on November 25, 2013


they must work long hours in the candy mines instead.

Deep in the Gumdrop Mountains.
posted by octobersurprise at 8:49 AM on November 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


they must work long hours in the candy mines instead.

Deep in the Gumdrop Mountains.


Dammit, now I have to start Candy Box 2 over from the beginning.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 8:50 AM on November 25, 2013


One might hope we'd see some better (or at least more non-negative/neutral) stats than top 20 most flagged, like say top 20 most prolific posters

Everyone else can read the contribution index but not everyone can see flags. And I have mixed feelings about heavy contributors being a net positive for the site all the time. Just like most-flagged people, it doesn't scale, so you have to achieve some sort of balance.

So, female representation...

- highest contribution indexes three out of 23 (mods excluded)
- most FPPs two out of 24 (mods excluded)
- most comments, one out of 25
- most MeTa posts, two out of 22 (mods excluded)

All of the grar directed at Nomyte in this thread is starting to feel weird.

As an individual question in MeTa it's not that odd or off. As one in a pattern of slightly fighty-sounding MeTa threads with no clear point (after people have given feedback on this sort of post in the past) I think it's a bit more concerning.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:51 AM on November 25, 2013 [11 favorites]


Wow, I knew I was slowing down, but I'm really off my game...
posted by Miko at 8:53 AM on November 25, 2013


Why is it bad to occasionally check ourselves on whether our gender is influencing our interests

You can check yourself all you want. Accusing other people just posting in a thread they were interested in of being "Good Old Boys Metafilter" is grar directed from Nomyte.

Should I be leaning in to technology posts

How you use MetaFilter is up to you. However, no needs to be policing other's people's intentions of how to participate, provided no rules/guidelines are broken.
posted by spaltavian at 8:53 AM on November 25, 2013 [8 favorites]


Nomyte, it seems rude to rely on other people's representations of their gender here in order to make generalizations about Metafilter, but when asked what your own gender is, you avoid the question.

How does Nomyte's gender expression affect his or her point (which is admittedly difficult to perceive) about MetaFilter's possible gender issues?
posted by Etrigan at 8:55 AM on November 25, 2013


jessamyn: "And I have mixed feelings about heavy contributors being a net positive for the site all the time."

*TWITCH* I CAN STOP POSTING ANY TIME I WANT *SHUDDER*
posted by zarq at 8:55 AM on November 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


All of the grar directed at Nomyte in this thread is starting to feel weird.

I respectfully disagree.

If you are going to post to MetaTalk on a serious issue - e.g. whether non-male MeFites are less inclined to comment and, if so, why? - then contradictory or ambiguous statements in the post or follow-up comments by the poster are unhelpful.

At best they are a distraction from the core issue. At worst, one doubts, just does not know, the seriousness or intentions of the poster with their post.
posted by Wordshore at 9:10 AM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


most of the respondents in the cookie swap thread who announce a gender in their profile* are female.
*I like to imagine this as "Greetings and salutations from my vagina" but that's probably not how most of us do it.
posted by onlyconnect at 6:08 AM on November 25


Au contraire
posted by billiebee at 9:11 AM on November 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


I didn't really think about how my user name was gendered when I chose it (even though I adapted it from a song about a man; I'm not always the quickest on the uptake). Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to disable this account and get one that doesn't have a gendered name associated with it. Threads like this make it sort of tempting.
posted by mlle valentine at 9:13 AM on November 25, 2013


if they have any they go to cookie prison where they must work long hours in the candy mines instead.

In the Big Rock Candy Mountain
You'd better fucking work
You were sentenced to hard labor
So pick up that pickaxe, jerk
At the guardpost: Gingerbread men
Firin' buckeyes in the air
If you make it past the fences
You'll be food for gummi bears
Sure, the work's a pain
But if you complain
You'll get five and twenty lashes with a candy cane
In the Big Rock Candy Mountain.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 9:18 AM on November 25, 2013 [20 favorites]


I thought about it long and hard, and I'm convinced, with some certainty, that I have never met anyone before who likes video games but not cookies. So: congratulations, I guess. You're a first for me.

I like videogames and not cookies, too.

Or, well - generally I like videogames. And generally, I dislike cookies. I don't really have much of a sweet tooth, and I like problem solving. Anyway, sometimes I feel like having a cookie, and so I make a whole pan and eat them straight out of the oven. My wife feels that eating hot cookies is improper and that I am a wierdo because cold cookies are better.

I am a land of contrasts and my wife is completely wrong about the cold cookies.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 9:22 AM on November 25, 2013


At the risk of taking the question seriously (though I also am unclear on what is the actual question exactly), rather than continuing the half-baked cookie puns (ahem), I think you'd have to parse out gendered spaces and participation on the site in a much more sophisticated way.

I could easily imagine finding that men were participating in cookie and knitting FPPs at a much higher level, proportionally, than women were in gaming FPPs, say, or perhaps the reverse. The point being, I'm certain that it isn't as simple as "girls here, boys there" and if there is an imbalance it is going to be more complex.

Which suggests, of course, that being both clear and at least a bit sophisticated in putting together a MetaTalk post on site gender issues would have value.
posted by Dip Flash at 9:24 AM on November 25, 2013


I think MeFites should stop participating in threads that interest them. Being interested in things is a thought crime against things that interest us less. Also, Pogo_Fuzzybutt's wife is wrong about the cold cookies.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:28 AM on November 25, 2013 [5 favorites]


I could easily imagine finding that men were participating in cookie and knitting FPPs at a much higher level, proportionally, than women were in gaming FPPs, say, or perhaps the reverse.

And that either or both were partcipating in those things in the community limited to MeFi membersw than would be true in the broader society.
posted by Miko at 9:29 AM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


I have mixed feelings about heavy contributors being a net positive for the site all the time.

I can agree with that! I was trying to think of a more middle of the road sorta stat. But as for positive, how about most favorited? Contributors of most favorited posts/comments? Or a low post/comments:flag ratio and/or high post/comment:favorite ratio? What is MetaFilter's ERA-ERA?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 9:31 AM on November 25, 2013


Not to speak for jessamyn, but I don't think statistics will be able to reliably assess a contributor's quality around here.
posted by Think_Long at 9:35 AM on November 25, 2013


Don't open the "favorite" debate! Good lord what are trying to do? Burn the website to the ground?
posted by edgeways at 9:35 AM on November 25, 2013


Don't open the "favorite" debate! Good lord what are trying to do? Burn the website to the ground?

Two words: Gendered favorites
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:39 AM on November 25, 2013 [10 favorites]


How does Nomyte's gender expression affect his or her point (which is admittedly difficult to perceive) about MetaFilter's possible gender issues?

As far as I can see it doesn't. (Though admittedly it depends on what you perceive the infuriatingly vague point to be, and they're certainly not going out of their way to make it more explicit.)

But I do think their gender expression is relevant when their whole point depends upon literally sorting and counting people by their gender expressions, then attributing all sorts of implicit and explicit meanings to their activities.

To do that while simultaneously claiming the privilege of keeping their own gender identity indeterminate because they reject having meanings attributed to their activity based on upon it is ... well, it doesn't come across as posting in good faith, exactly.
posted by bonaldi at 9:39 AM on November 25, 2013 [11 favorites]


Purple kitchen appliances aren't a problem: they're a blessing from the gods.

OK so having never seen such a thing I just googled it and apparently there's actually a "Purple Store" with purple everything and purple mugs that say things like "fear the purple" and "I heart purple" and it's like the Leftorium store Ned Flanders opened in that Simpsons episode except for purple-lovers. Then I checked to see if maybe "The Purple Store" was just one among many color-themed web stores, checking for "orange kitchen appliances" or "blue kitchen appliances" (and for "green kitchen appliances," which I probably should have guessed is a totally different thing), but no. Only purple. I'm now pretty convinced something strange is going on with purple, like maybe it's a cult or something.
posted by Hoopo at 9:41 AM on November 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


I don't think statistics will be able to reliably assess a contributor's quality around here.

Take your anti-baseball/cricket talk back to reddit where it belongs you dirty commie!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 9:43 AM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm now pretty convinced something strange is going on with purple, like maybe it's a cult or something.

Welcome to England, home of every deviancy from dogging to purple.
posted by Wordshore at 9:44 AM on November 25, 2013


How does Nomyte's gender expression affect his or her point (which is admittedly difficult to perceive) about MetaFilter's possible gender issues?

If Nomyte is going to use gender to shine a negative light on people who aren't doing anything wrong, I see no reason why others can't do the same.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:45 AM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


>Are you male or female?

I am Liberace, the pinnacle of masculine, feminine, and neuter. But more to the point, I like video games and don't like cookies.


It's bizarre that you have created a MetaTalk post about male/female but seem reluctant to identify as one or the other.

I don't think you (or anyone else) should have to identify as male or female, and I wouldn't argue that female MeFites may have a different experience than male MeFites, but all in all this post seems strange.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:45 AM on November 25, 2013


I'm filing this Metatalk under, "Looking for problems where none exists". It would not occur to me to check the sexes of Mefites in a given thread*. That mindset, to me, is what seems separatist.

I am a woman who enjoys cookies and videogames, though, so thank you for pointing out those threads to me. I didn't know anything about Spelunky, which looks amazing, but is probably way too difficult for me to play without serious levels of frustration. Still, consider my interest piqued.

One of my all-time favorite videogames involves baked goods, candy and (very especially a lot) fuzzy bunnies, which might make it stereotypically female in your eyes, Nomyte. It was called Power Pete. Unfortunately, you cannot play Power Pete any more, which makes me sad.

I would very much like an app like that game, if any of you game-developer-type smart folks are reading this thread. I do not care if you identify as male, female, or Ceylon, so long as I can pop bad guys with jawbreakers and collect FREE DUDES.

Also, in the interest of gender parity, my spouse was never much of a Doom player. He still misses digging for diamonds with Mr. Do** back in the day, though.

*did you try flipping their usernames over?
**Please note that, to my knowledge, Mr. Do does not in any way condone blood diamonds or the mining thereof.
posted by misha at 9:48 AM on November 25, 2013


This seems as good a place as any to raise an issue that has been bothering me for years: Is a One Eyed One Horned Flying Purple People Eater purple, and eats people? Or does it eat only purple people?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:48 AM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


apparently there's actually a "Purple Store" with purple everything

Which is great and everything, but it's a shame they aren't more sensitive to those of us who prefer violet, aubergine, and mauve.
posted by octobersurprise at 9:48 AM on November 25, 2013


Looking at a user's posting history is much more informative than a free-form box on a profile.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:49 AM on November 25, 2013


Mr. Do**

Spent like five seconds trying to figure out if this was "Mr. Dong" or what before continuing with the comment.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:51 AM on November 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm a woman, and there are certain subjects that I am interested in (like, say, gaming) but generally only comment on in female-dominated or explicitly woman-friendly spaces.
posted by northernish at 9:51 AM on November 25, 2013 [5 favorites]


Is a One Eyed One Horned Flying Purple People Eater purple, and eats people? Or does it eat only purple people?
I said Mr Purple People Eater, what's your line?
He said, 'Eating purple people, and it sure is fine.
But that's not the reason that I came to land
I wanna get a job in a rock 'n roll band.'
posted by octobersurprise at 9:52 AM on November 25, 2013 [8 favorites]


I would just like to note for people who have perhaps not considered it that men standing up for feminist or "women's" issues still get derided as white knights and have their motivations questioned (i.e., they're just doing it to get in good with the ladeez) and their POVs dismissed (by some). Even on this site. Even in modern times. Maybe the poster's gender matters to some people here, but I can certainly understand withholding the information.
posted by onlyconnect at 9:54 AM on November 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


I don't see how Nomyte's findings would present a problem unless the men in the Carmack thread were being vicious about women or "fake gamer girls" or something, or the women in the cookie swap were making it a Get Rid of Ugly Boys (G.R.U.B) Club.

But since neither of those are the case, I'm just kind of bewildered at this.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 9:54 AM on November 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


...and that band was: Deep Purple
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:55 AM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh this is easy.

The Carmack thread was posted at 7pm est, and the spelunky thread at 4:45 pm. The cookie swap thread was posted at 5:48 pm.

Clearly the men were posting in the Carmack thread while the women did the dishes.
And the men were posting in the Spelunky thread while the women were making dinner, as women are expected to do at that time of day.

The cookie thread was an aberration, clearly, and must have happened as women were getting flour all over their keyboards. While the men were changing the oil in the women's minivans.

How's THAT for a gendered analysis?

This misogyny brought to you by Idiots In The Wrong, presenting dumb ideas to bright people for generations.
posted by disclaimer at 10:02 AM on November 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


... performing "Purple Rain."
posted by octobersurprise at 10:03 AM on November 25, 2013


QUILTBAG is a gender? Surely it also includes people who fall squarely under male or female, since being Lesbian or Gay doesn't make you stop being male or female... or am I barking up the wrong end of the stick here? (Wouldn't be the first time, so please feel free to tell me.)

This is wandering right into one of my own personal gender-related survey pet peeves. In particular, having "male", "female", "trans" and "other" as radio buttons (and not tick boxes) requires binary-identified trans people to either be invisible or to not acknowledge their gender--they can't be both a man or woman and trans, only 'normal' or 'trans'. Surely this could be solved by separating the "are you trans?" question. (There's still a whole can of worms about how you phrase the 'other' option.) I'm assuming that QUILTBAG here is being used here for the sum of people picking either trans or other, which I think is problematic for the reason you suggest. (I get that people like QUILTBAG because it's pronounceable, but I'm kind of eh about it in general too.)
posted by hoyland at 10:14 AM on November 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


Cool, I got a couple of people to consider and understand my point, and that's its own reward. As for the rest, I rewrote this post three times over two days and thought I included all the obvious caveats, so take it or leave it, I suppose. I've poured a lot of (hopefully somewhat appreciated) energy into contributing to MeFi over the past 3.5 years, so I was hoping that at least my good faith wouldn't be immediately in question. I don't bring things up on MetaTalk unless I think they're important and I feel strongly about them. Being questioned whether I'm just engaging in some "lulzy trolling" is a wake-up call that there's useful talk to be had here, but not by me.
posted by Nomyte at 10:28 AM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Did not comment in spelunky thread due to business.
Did not participate in cookie thread due to business.
Do not think my gender is relevant here, just my level of business. I would have been happy to comment in either thread if I had the time to play games or bake cookies, as both are pastimes for me.
posted by nat at 10:36 AM on November 25, 2013 [2 favorites]




I check the purple store every few months, and if I had $644,000 I would buy that purple-inside house and make it purple on the outside, too. Thank you, Wordshore, for giving me a new ambition.
posted by brina at 10:41 AM on November 25, 2013


My bathroom fixtures are purple. More lilac, really, original fixtures from the 20's. Be careful what you wish for is all I'm sayin'.
posted by Think_Long at 10:46 AM on November 25, 2013


It does not surprise me that the commentary on some threads tends to skew in terms of gender. Women and men are socialized to be interested in/knowledgeable about different things, and there are only certain areas where they are likely to overlap. You could probably make some kind of Internet Gender Matrix, where something like an FPP about bra sizing would skew heavily female, an FPP about Movember would skew heavily male, many topics would be plotted more towards one extreme or the other (reproductive rights; new video game consoles), and some topics would be squarely in the middle (a big mainstream political thread).

This doesn't sound all that controversial to me. I would find it much weirder if it turned out that ALL Metafilter threads skewed male no matter the topic, or if every FPP's commentariat was evenly split.

I don't think there's anything wrong with the idea that women want to talk about some stuff, men want to talk about other stuff, and also we often want to talk about the same things.

In re the specific threads that were discussed:

- I have no idea who John Carmack is (I am female).

- I have no idea what "spelunky" is (I am still female).

- I don't do the music swap because I'm too lazy to burn CDs and don't think my music collection is that impressive. (I continue to be female.)

- I don't do the cookie swap because I think they will probably all crumble in shipment. (I am woman.)

- I am doing quonsmas this year for reasons entirely unrelated to gender. (Just checked, the vulva is still down there.)

For the record, both my quonsee and I are female. I had not guessed that quonsmas was a "male" skewing event.
posted by Sara C. at 10:47 AM on November 25, 2013


It seems like there isn't really a problem if more people of one gender or another are commenting in various threads. One could discuss whether it's inherently a problem that more males are interested in discussing John Carmack and more women are interested in discussing cookies, but without some reason to think that's bad, there's no real problem. Of course, one wishes people who think this would extend the same courtesy to other spaces dominated (without deliberate exclusion) by one or another gender, but one can only hope for so much consistency.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 10:49 AM on November 25, 2013


As a participant here, I wonder whether I should be pushing myself to read and participate in threads that are more of a stretch to my interests, because it would push me and open me up a bit more. Should I be leaning in to technology posts so I could learn more about shit I don't know anything about?

Yes, more people commenting on things they don’t know anything about and aren’t interested in is definitely the way forward. I think it should be compulsory, for equality and all that. Everyone comments on everything equally or the mods contact you and want to know why you don’t love your country and MetaFilter.

And about 15% Canadian, for what that is worth.

And that’s the elephant in the room, the Canadian anti-cookie movement. Are we going to stand for this?
posted by bongo_x at 10:51 AM on November 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


I was also unclear on what the main point here was, nomyte, but if it was a sudden realization that you were in a thread where almost everyone was/seemed to be male, and then went looking for threads that seemed to skew the other way and found the cookie Metatalk by happenstance (because it's a fairly atypical, holiday Metatalk thread), I guess I would say that the reason a lot of people are sort of confused is that for most of the internet, it's very, very, very common for there to be more obvious active male voices than female. So common that it's not even noteworthy unless the topic happens to be one that very specifically addresses women's issues. And not just online, obviously, but here we are, so let's talk about this.

If you are a woman, you've probably been noticing this world reality for so long (for me, at least since I was around 8 and looking for biographies of important women in my school library) that it's as obvious as the sun in the sky during daytime, and so not really something to remark on in the absence of other markers (as I mentioned, more men than women opining/dominating in a thread specifically about feminism/sexism etc. tends to stand out more). Metafilter is probably more gender-balanced than most fairly large, general interest sites, but it's not the magical completely gender neutral equal opportunity site of our dreams, and not because there's a whole lot of active untrammeled antiwoman sentiment here. There's just an immense weight of culture that we're all squirming under, and being marginally better than other places, all in all, doesn't make that all disappear.

I personally began online and here on Metafilter by keeping my gender unrevealed because I didn't want to be dismissed in conversation, didn't want to be hit on, and didn't want any weird stalkery or bizarre hostility stuff. Eventually, I got fed up with that and didn't feel like choosing pronouns carefully, and not mentioning anything that would reveal that I was a woman. But also, in my particular situation, I felt like I was a lot safer because I don't live where everyone else lives, so chances were just about zero that someone would be showing up at my door. I wasn't vulnerable professionally, and I wasn't vulnerable in my personal relationships – if someone decided to photoshop my head onto a porn image and try to pass that off to terrorize me, for example, absolutely nobody in my real life would be the tiniest bit persuaded. Nobody could send stuff to my boss, because I didn't have a boss (and now my boss is mathowie, so it still won't work). They couldn't mess up my romantic possibilities because that was already set in stone.

So I've been "out" about being female for a long time now because I'm relatively safe in my uncommon set of circumstances, but I still don't really put images online, or reveal enough information that my family might be identified and harassed, etc. So, what I'm saying is that this is all the stuff I've had to consider and evaluate just to be sort of talking nicely and in a restrained way online about stuff that interests me, so it's not the least bit shocking that women seem more invisible. We are actually present though, in equal numbers... but not always identified, if we are speaking, or not always speaking if we worry about being identified.

We do pretty well here on Mefi, but no so well that these concerns disappear – especially since it's not a private site that only members can read.
posted by taz (staff) at 10:53 AM on November 25, 2013 [42 favorites]


My point is that I find reminders of this unfortunate arrangement on a site I respect to be sobering.
posted by Nomyte at 11:06 AM on November 25, 2013


perhaps even won a prize in a cookie baking contest.

I got some great bakeware and a bottle of bourbon and a certificate signed by Marty Markowitz

My chest is hair is also p great ngl
posted by Greg Nog at 11:07 AM on November 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


My point is that I find reminders of this unfortunate arrangement on a site I respect to be sobering.

Yeah, it is. What more can be done than what the mods are doing now?
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 11:13 AM on November 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


this unfortunate arrangement

To what unfortunate arrangement are you referring?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 11:13 AM on November 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


Metafilter is amazing in many ways but it reflects larger social and cultural trends and effects. Unless you propose making people comment in threads where their gender/race/etc. is underrepresented, and unless there's more evidence than the threads you selected show that this is a Problem, then I still don't really get the point of this meTa.
posted by rtha at 11:13 AM on November 25, 2013 [5 favorites]


And that’s the elephant in the room, the Canadian anti-cookie movement. Are we going to stand for this?

My wife and I are starting a resistance movement, Canadians For Cookies. Anyone that wishes to support us may send cookies at any time. For the cause.
posted by Hoopo at 11:18 AM on November 25, 2013 [9 favorites]


My point is that I find reminders of this unfortunate arrangement on a site I respect to be sobering.

To be honest, I am still not seeing an issue. In neither thread are members of a gender being pushed away; if there is a fault, the fault isn't Metafilter's: it's the society in which we live and work in the real world.
posted by jetlagaddict at 11:19 AM on November 25, 2013


I am not trying to get anyone to do anything, and I am not trying to point out a problem for the mods to do anything about. Please go on to do your normally scheduled thing. This is not a pony request, and there is no pony. This is just a meta-observation about MetaFilter, and meta-observations go into MetaTalk, so here it is.
posted by Nomyte at 11:20 AM on November 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


I find reminders of this unfortunate arrangement on a site I respect to be sobering.

I find myself running this sentence through my head in the voice of an old classic radio serial drama villain*, you know one with an unidentifiable european-type accent and he pauses just a half-beat when he gets to the part about our... unfortunate arrangement... shall we say Mr. Hero-of -our-story?

*Note: not implying anyone is a villain here, I just like hearing about our... unfortunate arrangement.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 11:22 AM on November 25, 2013 [6 favorites]


My point is that I find reminders of this unfortunate arrangement on a site I respect to be sobering.

I'm curious about this--what is it that you find unfortunate?

It sounds like you're saying that it's unfortunate that men and women may like different things or may choose to comment on different things. Is that what you find unfortunate?
posted by MoonOrb at 11:23 AM on November 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


Dios mio. The more this place changes, the more it stays the same. Muah!
posted by cavalier at 11:24 AM on November 25, 2013



Why is it bad to occasionally check ourselves on whether our gender is influencing our interests and participation here in a way that might be negative? All of the grar directed at Nomyte in this thread is starting to feel weird.


Besides the, I assume, unwittingly inflammatory references to segregation and "Good Old Boys" (the point of segregation is that it's *enforced* (whether by law or cultural pressures, usually with an underlying threat of violence or other punishment if lines are crossed) and is not just self-selection ; really, you're comparing Metafilter to the Jim Crow South?), the "checking ourselves" thing suggests (without specific solutions - what are we talking about here - quotas?) that we turn our casual coffee break Metafiltering into space of ongoing self-critique and self-discipline for "hidden" offences and also vigilant surveillance of others to do the same (even for fondly held traditions such as the cookie swap and Quonsmas). Especially given that the mods (and usually users) do an excellent job of upholding civility and decency (including against sexism) on MeFi, it's difficult to take such a proposal, which would well-meaningly undermine MeFi's atmosphere (again, which is not actually a "Good Old Boys" culture) , seriously.
posted by Bwithh at 11:24 AM on November 25, 2013 [5 favorites]


Can someone please convince me that "video games are a boy thing, cookies are a girl thing" is a good thing?

Neither good nor bad and not necessarily true.
posted by Hoopo at 11:24 AM on November 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


My point is that I find reminders of this unfortunate arrangement on a site I respect to be sobering.

Among other topics, I have posted about video games and professional wrestling here. I can do that freely without fear of "Tits or GTFO" comments that are prevalent on other sites and in my local trade chat channel in WoW.

I am in full support of the arrangement here.
posted by kimberussell at 11:24 AM on November 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


To what unfortunate arrangement are you referring?

That people have their own interests and comment on things regarding them. Also, that people, in a place where gender is not immediately apparent, don't go searching to find out what gender people are and stop talking immediately if the gender balance is somewhat out of whack.
posted by LionIndex at 11:25 AM on November 25, 2013


So, if I get this correctly you've just discovered something here that many of us notice pretty much all day every day, wherever we go?

Well, woop tee fucking doo.
posted by Too-Ticky at 11:25 AM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Nomyte: " This is just a meta-observation about MetaFilter, and meta-observations go into MetaTalk, so here it is."

o.O And what's your follow up, skies are blue, water is wet? Maybe you did not really have that strong of a point when you first made the post, and that is fair enough... but to say "hey, boys are in the video game thread, and girls are in the baking thread"? There was a reason you thought that was noteworthy, and chose to share it. The question I have is.. why was it noteworthy?
posted by cavalier at 11:26 AM on November 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


and meta-observations go into MetaTalk, so here it is

There's no requirement to bring them to meTa, or to do anything about simple observations about the site but go "Huh. Interesting, I guess? I dunno. Maybe I'll go have some cookies now."
posted by rtha at 11:27 AM on November 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


Nomtye, perhaps this would have been an observation to make in the Chat room/server.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:28 AM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Being questioned whether I'm just engaging in some "lulzy trolling" is a wake-up call that there's useful talk to be had here, but not by me.

Noymte, I just had a spin through a few of your last Talk posts, I think you do have a lot of usefulness to contribute here. Though it seems wrapped in fightiness on first glance, I'm not sure the reason why and I don't think it helps your cause, when underneath you raise some interesting talking points that you passionately care about.

I've never noticed the gender issue, one of the few places on the web that I don't, but yeah - I think it's useful to talk about it.

fwiw I'm male.
posted by 0 answers at 11:30 AM on November 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't understand at all.

We're not implementing quotas, right?

People are free to drop into threads that interest them and talk about said interests, right? And by and large, those threads are welcoming and open, right?

And sometimes a particular thread might draw more men than women or the other way around?

I mean, we could implement a quota system where gender is a mandatory field and each and every thread must have a 50/50 comment/gender parity ratio, but that seems stupid, because thread content seems organic and people talk about what they want to talk about..

So what's the flipping point? I mean, your post seems to break down to, "Sometimes people talk about different stuff."
posted by kbanas at 11:50 AM on November 25, 2013


I also don't understand at all, and reading your follow-up comments didn't illuminate anything. This is just an observation on the gender participation on a statistically insignificant number of threads? Are men and women supposed to be equally interested in everything, no matter what interests them as individual persons? This takes the cake as one of the strangest non-deleted Metatalks I've seen.
posted by agregoli at 12:00 PM on November 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


ITS COOKIE APARTHEID
I WANT COOKIES BUT I HAVE NO USEFULNESS TO CONTRIBUTE
posted by XMLicious at 12:16 PM on November 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


Are we doing enough to encourage our daughters to talk about Wolfenstein 3D and Doom on the Internet?
posted by Tanizaki at 12:17 PM on November 25, 2013 [15 favorites]


John Carmack is about to--you know what, never mind.
posted by box at 12:24 PM on November 25, 2013


John Carmack is about to--you know what, never mind.


You're *totally* confusing John Carmack and John Romero!
posted by kbanas at 12:28 PM on November 25, 2013


What? What does 'Night of the Living Dead' have to do with anything?
posted by box at 12:31 PM on November 25, 2013


What? What does 'Night of the Living Dead' have to do with anything?


I can't tell if you're being sarcastic.
posted by kbanas at 12:34 PM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


John Romero = John Russo + George A. Romero

THINK ABOUT IT
posted by Sticherbeast at 12:36 PM on November 25, 2013


Nomyte; I am not trying to point out a problem for the mods to do anything about. Please go on to do your normally scheduled thing. This is not a pony request, and there is no pony. This is just a meta-observation about MetaFilter, and meta-observations go into MetaTalk, so here it is.

Your MetaTalk threads seem to be a lot more than "just" observations. They tend to come across as accusatory, aggressive and critical. You seem to care about how your contributions are perceived, so you may want to review your last few MetaTalk posts:

"The idea that I'm inadvertently and unconsciously participating in some kind of Good Old Boys MetaFilter doesn't exactly fill me with joy."

"So the fact that the most recent fedora question on AskMeta is kind of a trainwreck even after substantial mod involvement isn't really a surprise, but still kind of sad"

"But what has your mother done for you lately? Jesus, MeFi, you were doing so well, and then… this."

"This discussion thread is disgusting"

You are using strong, judgemental language in all those examples. This is why people aren't taking your threads as merely good-faith observations. I'm not even including your sarcastic one about how everyone here claims to be smart. You seem to dislike that people aren't understanding you in these threads, but are you working on your end to be better understood?
posted by spaltavian at 12:43 PM on November 25, 2013 [23 favorites]

So I made a very rough tally, which shows that of the 39 unique users who left comments, only one user explicitly specified "female" in their MeFi profile
Ooh! Ooh! Was it me? Do I get a prize? Is the prize an...oven baked dessert with little chips of chocolate, maybe?

My thoughts on id/Carmack are pretty much in line with nadawi and Sequence (i.e. very little interest, honestly), but I do really like the Quake soundtrack and it had been a pleasantly uneventful day, so I thought I'd share it and make everyone else feel nice and gloomy.

Also I'm a bit uncomfortable seeing people drilling Nomyte for a definite Y/N gender. It doesn't matter; it doesn't invalidate the topic to remain gender neutral.

Also also, I was going to say that id/Carmack tend to skew toward a particular...adolescent male aesthetic that probably isn't going to get many girls and women interested, but seeing other people say the same thing actually makes me feel a bit strange. I'm not sure why that is. The assumption, I guess, that of course girls won't want to shoot demons in spaaaaaaaaaaaace. Personally, the idea holds very limited appeal to me, and those kinds of games are not my cup of tea, but I guess it bothers me that, culturally, we want to draw these lines around "girl things" and "boy things" and then pretend they make sense and aren't completely arbitrary poppycock.
posted by byanyothername at 12:47 PM on November 25, 2013 [5 favorites]


"It sounds like you're saying that it's unfortunate that men and women may like different things or may choose to comment on different things. Is that what you find unfortunate?"

I do.

I think there are good reasons to believe that there are some inherent cognitive differences between men and women, but I also think they're small and only statistically relevant and cultural gender essentialism and segregation play a much larger role. And I think that's a bad thing.

We're each going to be interested in whatever we're individually inclined to be interested in, of course, and there's nothing wrong with that, all else being equal.

But all else isn't equal and because of cultural conditioning, we tend to segregate our interests and activities by gender before the fact. Everybody who does happen to have an interest in something that is mostly particular to the opposite gender is well aware of all the myriad social pressures and expectations — it's something that we talk about here all the time with regard to skepticism about the motives of nerdy women.

And it's just nuts. There are lots of things that I am interested in reading or talking about that I nevertheless don't participate in because, for example, I can't. Am I ever going to be a boxer or skydive? No, because of my health. Those things aren't physically possible for me. And yet no one expects that I would be necessarily uninterested in those things. In contrast, there are gender segregation of interests on precisely that basis. We can be interested in the experiences of someone who lives in a different country or speaks a different language or eats very different foods, but we can't be interested in the experiences of the other gender because they are supposedly essentially alien and uninteresting? That's crazy.

Of course, this is much more true with regard to men about women's interests. Women are sort of expected to at least feign some interest in men's interests and at the very least they can't really escape hearing about a lot of them. Still, there's this totally stupid presumption that things that are actually and truly related to sex differences are entirely alien and of no interest to the opposite sex.

And I mention those things because those are where there's even a small plausible argument to be made for such segregation of interests. Most everything else, of course, has no good reason at all to be gender segregated, except for social conditioning and expectations.

Whether it's about video games or baking or whatever, the degree to which we just go along with these segregations is the degree to which we accept and sustain an alienation of the genders from each other. All this segregation has the subtext that men and women really are very different, that we have a limited range of shared context and then all else is so alien as to be even uninteresting and necessarily opaque. We're not understanding each other as individual people because of this. It happens every day in groups when men and women gather in segregated clusters, when we buy gendered shampoo and soap, when our shirts — our freaking shirts, for crying out loud — have buttons on opposite sides because, of course, men's and women's shirts must be different. Mustn't confuse our shirts, that would be terrible.

All I'm saying is that we should question our interests insofar as they conform to gender stereotypes. If we're actually familiar with something and decide that it's not interesting to us, fine. But a lot of this operates below the radar, as evidenced by how various interests and activities particular to one gender are periodically repackaged for the other gender, changing certain social signaling and such so that, lo and behold, suddenly it's something that the other gender can participate in. And it works! That this is true tells us that our interests are not as exclusively the product of ourselves as we like to think. We feel certain that topic/activity Q, that is presently particular to gender Z, is self-evidently uninteresting to us, members of gender R. And then there's some cultural change or, god forbid, a marketing campaign for a new product, and suddenly what was self-evidently "not for us", is. This is dumb. Not only is it sort of an insult to ourselves, our possibilities for who we can each be, it's also evidence of this social segregation that presumes that each half of all of us is essentially alien to the other half of all of us. That should be resisted.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 12:48 PM on November 25, 2013 [8 favorites]




Ivan, how is that concept resisted or engaged in on Metafilter?
posted by agregoli at 12:52 PM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


but I guess it bothers me that, culturally, we want to draw these lines around "girl things" and "boy things" and then pretend they make sense and aren't completely arbitrary poppycock.

yeah to clarify, it's not that i think that girls and women don't like id games - i know lots of women who are huge fans - i was just saying that i am likely to participate in video game threads but that i didn't participate in those two for specific reasons unrelated to my gender. if the counting of genders were to be expanded to all video games threads, i'd be there to be counted - just in the tiny sample size of 2, i wasn't there. maybe the same thing happened with other people and that this isn't actually as cut and dried as it appears from counting up 3 threads.
posted by nadawi at 12:56 PM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Ivan, how is that concept resisted or engaged in on Metafilter?"

Institutionally, collectively, I don't think it is. MeFi is pretty neutral about this, we just reflect our culture(s). I do think that there are more people that aren't strictly gender-conforming and therefore, collectively, we're somewhat more flexible, but that's about it.

So I don't really agree with this post, insofar as it may be construed to be some call for community action.

I just wanted to push-back on the idea that of course men and women have separate interests.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 12:56 PM on November 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


Thanks, I. F., I appreciate your comments.
posted by Nomyte at 1:24 PM on November 25, 2013


What more can be done than what the mods are doing now?

So what's the flipping point?

What I took away from this is that someone gets to mine the database for gendered tags. So I can spread patriarchy or cookies. Maybe both!
posted by pwnguin at 1:26 PM on November 25, 2013


Of course, this is much more true with regard to men about women's interests. Women are sort of expected to at least feign some interest in men's interests and at the very least they can't really escape hearing about a lot of them

While this may be true of the culture at large, it doesn't seem to be true of this particular community. Quite a number of women-identified people have posted to say they don't see any reason to care about iD games, while I haven't seen any male-identified people saying there's no reason to care about cookies (or even knitting). Not that I think this is much cause for concern---iD doesn't exactly need our support---but it's a good reminder to focus on the community in which one is participating.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 1:28 PM on November 25, 2013


Quite a number of women-identified people have posted to say they don't see any reason to care about iD games, while I haven't seen any male-identified people saying there's no reason to care about cookies (or even knitting).

The difference between not caring about a brand of stuff and not caring about a hobby-type activity to me is a bigger deal than the gender-leaningness of the two sets of things' supporters, to my mind.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:32 PM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


As for the rest, I rewrote this post three times over two days and thought I included all the obvious caveats, so take it or leave it, I suppose.

At any point did you consider whether it was maybe not worth making? Serious question.
posted by Sebmojo at 1:37 PM on November 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


How awesome would DOOM be if the player had to knit their own bandages to stay healthy in the game?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:38 PM on November 25, 2013 [7 favorites]


The difference between not caring about a brand of stuff and not caring about a hobby-type activity to me is a bigger deal than the gender-leaningness of the two sets of things' supporters, to my mind.

Also, cookies are delicious, but sometimes an iD is just an iD.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:39 PM on November 25, 2013


I'm female, but the reason I didn't comment on the Carmack thread was because I was involved in the three simultaneous threads going on about Doctor Who and that was much much more important because IT'S DOCTOR FREAKIN' WHO
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:43 PM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Videogames are not a boy thing - last I remember it was something like 47% of gamers are female. However, commenting about videogames tends to be an overwhelmingly boy thing. I'm female, a gamer, I'm even in the games industry, and I don't post on gaming sites. They're awful. Actually most of my male co-workers don't post on gaming sites, now I think about it.

I saw the headline of the post about Carmack, and it told me all I really need to know, didn't even need to click the link, let alone post a comment.

Yes, in the wider world, videogaming is generally perceived as a male thing, and marketed as a male thing. Cookie-baking is perceived as a female thing. But no-one on Metafilter is enforcing any gender norms for cookie bakers or videogamers, so I am very happy with the arrangement I find on this site.
posted by Joh at 1:44 PM on November 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


How awesome would DOOM be if the player had to knit their own bandages to stay healthy in the game?

How awesome would it be if the BFG fired cookies?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:45 PM on November 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


sometimes an iD is just an iD.

As though your ape's brain could contain the secrets of the Krell!
posted by octobersurprise at 1:51 PM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


It would not be awesome, because it would be like you're giving away cookies.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:51 PM on November 25, 2013


Back when I still did science, I used to go to a lot of seminars. The introduction was useful in that it explained context and vocabulary and gave you an idea of why they were asking the questions they were asking, but the really interesting part of the talk was always the data. And I'd be sitting there impatiently waiting for the "good part" of the talk. Gimme the data!

And that's how I feel about this discussion of the matrix of gender and metafilter posting. I'm terribly interested in the data.

I'd love to know the gender percentages of usernames without specified gender that are owned by people who have specific gender. I'd love to know trends in terms of comments, flagging, favorites, FPPs, AskMe, Metatalk, memail, enspousening, IRL, etc. Some of these data have been discussed as they've been derived from surveys by a couple of different people. But I want more. More, more, more.

I'd like to know these things because I don't know what they will be and I would look forward to being surprised.

I'd also like some cookies and I'm going to go play some Starcraft while I try to figure out what to make for dinner.
posted by sciencegeek at 2:07 PM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


It would not be awesome, because it would be like you're giving away cookies.

You could also get crushed by a giant cookie if you fire the gun too close to a wall. Is that the sweetest death?

A: No, that would be the marzipan-gun.

Ooh, that game is out already? *\o/*

In the UK at least. I may need to send rescue parties to find my friend.
posted by ersatz at 2:09 PM on November 25, 2013


I'd also like some cookies [...] while I try to figure out what to make for dinner.

Two birds, one stone large batch of delicious cookies.
posted by cjelli at 2:11 PM on November 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


So you're not asking for the mods to do anything, you're not asking for the community to do anything, and you're not calling anything out... have you considered getting your own blog for these kinds of "have you ever really, like, looked at your hand?" kind of observations?
posted by Justinian at 2:18 PM on November 25, 2013 [33 favorites]



How awesome would DOOM be if the player had to knit their own bandages to stay healthy in the game?


That would be Skyrim and it is... not that awesome.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 2:26 PM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


where do I get this Skyrim knitting mod?!
posted by Jacqueline at 2:30 PM on November 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


In a poetic twist, you actually have to hand-knit a special installer program to use the mod.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:33 PM on November 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


spoken like a hand-knit mod
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:40 PM on November 25, 2013


*knits own hand*

*universe collapses*
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:42 PM on November 25, 2013 [5 favorites]


Please help, I'm seeing little goblin mods hand-knitting all the visual surfaces in my environment in real-time.
posted by planetesimal at 2:43 PM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


In the beginning was the Etsy, and the Etsy was with mod, and the Etsy was mod.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:55 PM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't read over 90% of FPPs on Metafilter. I comment in only a small number of the ones I do read. I've been on the internet long enough to have gotten over thinking every stray thought of mine is worth typing out and posting.

I am a female person, though not a feminine one, or one who feels particularly bound by gender expectations. I definitely don't feel excluded from any topics on Metafilter. I just don't have time for, or interest in, the majority of them.

I don't feign interest in male things for approval, nor am I afraid to be interested in typically male things if they really call to me. I don't feel like the hypothetical person Nomyte or Ivan Fyodorovich is concerned about. I feel comfortable continuing to participate on Metafilter and in my life in the way that suits me best.

I'm pausing on posting this, but for gender parity I think this topic need more women posting largely irrelevant observations.
posted by Squeak Attack at 3:19 PM on November 25, 2013 [38 favorites]


in related news is there going to be another MeTa holiday queue later this week because i think there should be
posted by elizardbits at 3:20 PM on November 25, 2013 [5 favorites]


I was also unclear on what the main point here was, nomyte

Me too, and i'm happy i'm not the odd person out here.

I went to an extremely out there far left hippy dippy alternative highschool. A massive percentage of the students went on to a very similar college(which is in fact the one Matt Groening endlessly makes fun of in the simpsons and futurama) which although i didn't graduate from, i also have a lot of experience with.

This thread radiates the same vibe that the "hey wait guys, look at what's going on here" conversations had, which were often phrased in this "hey, just asking questions, not saying there's a problem here but we should reflect on it" way.

The problem is that as soon as you go "Ok, i agree that this is a thing that's happening, what's the problem?" then it instantly goes into the bizarre territory Bwithh was pointing out above, where suddenly all sort of bizarre references to actual oppression and enforced segregation come in and there's this elephant in the room implication that anyone who goes "Yea, this is a problem, but these people are doing what they wanted to do what's wrong?" is actually a closeted bigot or complicit with THE MACHINE or something.

"I feel like XYZ behavior is an issue and i repeatedly see women being driven out of threads about bla" is a productive conversation.

"Hey, does anyone else notice that this imbalance is going on?" is a fucking minefield, and as shown by this thread. And often where it's leads is lots of accusations being thrown around by both sides. Especially when people start rolling out some kind of weird correlation = causation shit about how if there isn't an equal split of people in ANYTHING then it must be an institutional problem, not just personal preference.

But if you start trying to dig in to that, you sound like an asshole. Because anyone who says "show me an example that proves this institutional oppression" is usually indistinguishable from an asshole because that's something assholes say.

So, you're creating a fairly fucked situation here. It's an utterly unproductive way to address the situation, that's creating a problem out of thin air that really has nothing to do with metafilter, and is just luck of the draw of the people who wondered in here. And yet the way it's presented anyone who attacks your premise and "just asking questions!" premise looks like a cock.

Good job, A+ high quality thread. Utterly unique from the 1000s of similar discussions i've seen fruitlessly brought up. At least it didn't shut everything down and derail everything until it's conclusion like i've often seen it do in other spaces.

And yes, i'm a guy. If that makes my opinion completely irrelevant feel free to disregard me. I'll respect that, and i'm not snarking. Your liberace snarking when someone asked if you were reminded me of quite a few vaguely troll-types i've encountered in various left-leaning spaces over the years though.
posted by emptythought at 3:35 PM on November 25, 2013 [21 favorites]


in related news is there going to be another MeTa holiday queue later this week because i think there should be

You bet there will be.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:43 PM on November 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


My experience of gender (as a woman) does directly relate to my engagement with video games and my participation in conversations about them. From back in the Quake era, these lessons have been handed to me - someone is gonna make a sandwich joke, someone's gonna make a big deal over my breasts, someone's gonna be ironically hilarious about women playing games, someone is gonna hit on me ironically and someone's gonna let loose a rape threat. Do these apply to metafilter threads? Not all of them, not usually, but 15 or so years of those lessons are pretty hard to ignore and after a while I stopped caring anyway. I stopped playing games, I stopped talking a whole lot about them (but just can't help myself sometimes) and stopped participating on anything other than the edges.

So yeah, it's gendered for me. But not because 'girls don't like videogames' or 'it's a boy's thing' - it's a safety thing for me, and a reaction to what is often a violent and abusive space to be in.

But baking? I will straight up cut you if you try separate me from my kitchen. I can make that thing a fucking haven of vanilla and sugar and caramel, or garlic and onion and meats crisping, all without sexual harassment or rape threats (and the fact I have a knife in my hand makes 'ironic' jokes more scarce as well, for some reason). I can make what I want there, be what I want, do what I want, and get something lovely out of it. Instead of a migraine, useless words up on a screen, maybe a flashback, and an unreasonable hatred of men.

So yeah, I'll take the baking space over the gaming space any day, and yeah that is gendered for me.

(Short version - it isn't metafilter's fault I avoid videogame discussions, but I do it anyway).
posted by geek anachronism at 3:52 PM on November 25, 2013 [11 favorites]


I don't do the cookie swap because I think they will probably all crumble in shipment.

Well but then you can just pour the bits of cookie directly into your gaping maw.

Not really seeing a downside, here, tbh.
posted by soundguy99 at 4:12 PM on November 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


Erm, the recipient of your cookie bits can do this, that is. Maybe not you personally.
posted by soundguy99 at 4:14 PM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


I am a lady who is very into playing and talking about video games, but any discussion about the Oculus Rift is going to be 90% speculation right now so I didn't bother with that thread. I have not felt uncomfortable as a woman participating in discussions here AS LONG AS the topic is not gender equality or sexual harassment... which actually is pretty weird.
posted by jess at 4:15 PM on November 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


I love the assumption that some still float around that the goal and the proof of a perfectly just society would be that all people would be interested in exactly the same things in the same amounts, not that everyone is free to do what they want.
posted by bongo_x at 4:50 PM on November 25, 2013 [7 favorites]


MetaFilter: The solution is a midnight Metatalk
posted by four panels at 4:51 PM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is ChatFilter. GenderChatFilter, but still, it's clear based on the post and subsequent comments and I'm OK with that but I just needed to certify this thread due to the absence of that key phrase on CTRL+Fification.

Note: I am a male pawn of the patriarchy. I also would like some good faith outlets for ChatFilter beyond the MetaChat beast, for it lures me in for long stretches of time and is hard to untangle from.

This'll be something entertaining and stimulating to read tonight while I'm stoned out of my vulcan mind trying to get some red shut-eye.
posted by lordaych at 5:00 PM on November 25, 2013


bongo_x, Google already does that to some extent. I just searched for "Saint's Row IV Cheats" and it said "Did you mean...cookies? How to fucking bake them!"

Note: I do like baking cookies, and also telepathically throwing people into buildings in dream worlds
posted by lordaych at 5:06 PM on November 25, 2013


Note: I realize Saint's Row IV is one giant cheat code, that was a poor example. Time to go to home and simulate being an awesome home-person instead of a work-person
posted by lordaych at 5:07 PM on November 25, 2013


"I love the assumption that some still float around that the goal and the proof of a perfectly just society would be that all people would be interested in exactly the same things in the same amounts, not that everyone is free to do what they want."

Did someone actually assert this? Maybe I missed it.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 5:08 PM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]




Did someone actually assert this?

Not exactly, but I can see how someone would believe that's what Nomyte was saying,
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:17 PM on November 25, 2013


Ivan, it does seem to be the logical extension of Nomyte's position, even if it's paraphrased in a way that isn't especially flattering.
posted by MoonOrb at 5:55 PM on November 25, 2013


What is the alternative reading of Nomyte's position? "I was only asking the question"? That's what the birthers say too.
posted by Justinian at 6:10 PM on November 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm not really seeing an argument advocating "all people interested in exactly the same things in the same amounts and people are not free to do what they want".

That's not a logical extension, it's a rip in time and space through a wormhole into a parallel universe made up of whatthefucktonium.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 6:11 PM on November 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


Well, I mean, the question wasn't "Why are MeFi video game threads boy zones?"* it was "Is it morally okay that Mefi video game threads are boy zones?" I mean, maybe we're okay with seeing evil and doing nothing about it, but the presumption appears to be 'it's a bad thing', and I think most MeFites agree MetaTalk is the place you to go when you want a change to MetaFilter itself in some fashion. The video game boy zone is not a good thing, but it's the world that should change, not MetaFilter.

*The answer, I believe, is a lifetime of echo chamber gendered toy marketing pushing video games at boys (to the point there was literally a platform called 'Game Boy'), and Metafilter pulls its membership from society at large.
posted by pwnguin at 6:24 PM on November 25, 2013


There should be a way, when you put together a post, to specify that you only want the most attractive people to participate in it. Uglies get flagged immediately.
posted by turbid dahlia at 6:25 PM on November 25, 2013


has there actually been any further tallying done to see if video game threads are boyzones? all we have are 2 threads pretty close together. i suspect the glitch thread doesn't follow this pattern, for instance.
posted by nadawi at 6:26 PM on November 25, 2013


I think the Game Boy was intended as a play on the Sony WalkMan.
posted by laconic skeuomorph at 6:26 PM on November 25, 2013


Wasn't it just a play on the far more popular Virtual Boy?
posted by Sticherbeast at 6:34 PM on November 25, 2013


The video game boy zone is not a good thing, but it's the world that should change, not MetaFilter.

If that's the case, then I'm honestly baffled to what purpose a Metatalk post would serve. I don't feel excluded from videogame threads - or any gender threads, for that matter (in fact, people have sometimes asked me to shut up in lots of the gender threads, I talk so damn much) - and I haven't heard that any other women on the site feel like they're being deliberately shunned in such threads. In fact, when it comes to "gender bias" issues most of the time, Metafilter is a freakin' oasis, and it strikes me that the reason that more men than women among the Metafilter community would post in a given thread is because more men than women happen to care about that particular thread.

The only way I could see that the mods could make that balance more equitable in all threads is some weird kind of Conversational Busing in which a designated number of women are drafted in to comment on a thread that they otherwise wouldn't give two shits about, and that seems like it would cause more problems than it solves. So - I'm not sure what a metatalk post about "hey, more men than women happen to care about this thing" is supposed to accomplish.

Nomyte, if you were afraid that women feel like they are being pushed out, I doubt that's happening. I think you're confusing correlation with causation here.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:38 PM on November 25, 2013 [8 favorites]


For what it's worth, MefightClub was created in part to offer a place where female gamers or gay gamers or [fill in any group not as well-represented as they might be in the gaming world] gamers could hang out and be comfortable. In the last 6 years, I think we've done a pretty great job of living up to that mission.

Which is not to say anything about MeFi proper, but if you're tired for whatever reason of gaming stuff being exclusionary in any part of your online life, you might get some happy fun times hanging out with us at MFC.

I'm kinda surprised when I CTRL-F'd that no other Mefighters had mentioned it yet in this thread!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:54 PM on November 25, 2013 [8 favorites]


That's what the birthers say too.

So you're trying to up the ante on that "good old boys" line, hunh?
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 7:54 PM on November 25, 2013


Nah, just making the point that "I was only asking the question?" is not in and of itself any kind of explanation. There's always a reason why you're asking that particular question at this particular time so hiding behind "it's just a question!" is disingenuous.
posted by Justinian at 7:59 PM on November 25, 2013 [9 favorites]


There have been statements that things like "more men talking about games" and "more women talking about baking" are inherently bad and need to change if the world is to be a better place. Why? Is that really the goal? I thought the goal was that everyone have the same rights, respect, and opportunities, not that all fields be equally balanced. What if video game discussions were 75% women but still full of sexist bullying?

Having equal numbers is not the same as equality. Equality doesn’t mean "no differences". I might be poorer, dumber, and uglier than you (it’s even likely), we are still equal.
posted by bongo_x at 8:09 PM on November 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'd just like to throw in now that the thread is winding down, that I left this post to head to a (belated) Transgender Day of Remembrance event organized by and for Federal Government workers as an official event put on by several US Federal Government agencies and departments. I just wanted to come back to say that whatever gender politics were observed in the gaming and cookie threads were certainly trivial in comparison to what these men and women have had to go through and to see them in the spotlight for the one of the first times ever at an officially sanctioned and sponsored event recognizing them for their struggles was simply amazing.

Incidentally, after John Kerry not only publicly recognized TDOR on Wednesday but went on to issue a diplomatic cable suggesting and encouraging ways (and perhaps more importantly offering funding) US Embassies can promote and support Transgender rights abroad, a couple of the participants said they felt like they were living in some sort of future world. So progress!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 8:09 PM on November 25, 2013 [5 favorites]


I still don't really understand the point of this MeTa. I don't think we self-select that much. It's not like someone posts "La - DIES! Cookie Time!!" or "Hey fellas, new video game out, this post is for YOU, knowwhamean." So.
posted by sweetkid at 8:42 PM on November 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


What if the "Cookie Swap" was a horrible euphemism for the Laydeeeeez of metafilter sending the Dewddddds of metafilter cookies.

Then we'd have problems.
posted by Sara C. at 8:48 PM on November 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'd only have a problem if I didn't get any cookies.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 8:49 PM on November 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


Well, I mean, the question wasn't "Why are MeFi video game threads boy zones?"* it was "Is it morally okay that Mefi video game threads are boy zones?"

The thing is, the first post didn't say EITHER of these things. That's why it's a somewhat tiresome post. It implied those two things. It was all like "it seems like this might be going on based on this limited evidence" while hypothesizing the first, and implying the second question really hard.

That's where it gets really questionable, that huge elephant in the room of the second question you listed without going straight at it. It's skipping right past "what do you think about this?" although it's selling itself as that, and going straight to "this is a problem, and we need to solve it".

So you're trying to up the ante on that "good old boys" line, hunh?

It's weapons grade enriched snark, but i really get what justinian is saying there.

There's a huge wink wink nudge nudge implication in the first post here, and the subsequent posts only beat you over the head with it. There really is only one way to take this and even the first post didn't sell it very straight if it wanted to be taken seriously.

We're doing donuts in the parking lot over the same points here though.
posted by emptythought at 8:53 PM on November 25, 2013 [8 favorites]


If we're worried that boys don't do enough baking (that's what this thread is about yeah?) I actually have a really good almond bread recipe. Any imbecile can make it and it ends up like 16g carbs for the whole loaf. Hit me up.
posted by turbid dahlia at 9:20 PM on November 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


So when you look at any other environment where there's a pronounced gender imbalance, is your reaction "Hunh, guess that's just how people's interests shake out"?
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 9:26 PM on November 25, 2013


Sometimes, yes. Because what am I going to personally do about it? And is it always a problem, or is it sometimes just how things are?

Is this a trend on this site? Based on Nomyte's data points, it's hard to say. Is it a problem? In those particular threads, it doesn't seem like it, since nobody seemed to be shoving anybody else out. And yet here we are discussing it, on a subsite dedicated to discussing stuff like this. Are there additional things you think people should be doing?
posted by rtha at 9:32 PM on November 25, 2013 [6 favorites]


So when you look at any other environment where there's a pronounced gender imbalance, is your reaction "Hunh, guess that's just how people's interests shake out"?

I think you have to look at the situation and ask why this is important in this case. Is there some benefit that participation in Doom threads provides that is not available to participants in cookie threads, or vice versa? I mean, apart from access to cookies.

Like, are all the leadership roles and higher paying jobs going to people who made connections in the gamer threads or cookie threads? Are decision making and prestige opportunities mostly available only in the threads that women don't tend to be active in?

In this case, probably not, but I don't know, because I haven't read the threads I'm not interested in.
posted by misfish at 9:50 PM on November 25, 2013 [6 favorites]


Discussing it in a "wink wink nudge nudge I didn't mean there was a problem" fashion even.
posted by Justinian at 9:50 PM on November 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


ThatFuzzyBastard: "So when you look at any other environment where there's a pronounced gender imbalance, is your reaction "Hunh, guess that's just how people's interests shake out"?"

I think it's kind of weak to frame it as about mefi discussions though, rather than anything else. Which was my objection to the post - I don't participate in a lot of videogame threads because I had that habit drowned in rape threats years ago. As opposed to cooking, where I not only get a delicious delicious reward but I also have very low levels of angst or threatening behaviour aimed at me for my gender.

Mefi makes it more likely for me to engage in a conversation about gaming, but not to the same extent I would have ten years ago.
posted by geek anachronism at 9:56 PM on November 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


By the way, if you're not a MefightClub member, you just missed our own annual baked-goods exchange, which due to the logistical difficulties of shipping cookies world-wide, I did not participate in, but which to all reports involved much deliciousness.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:15 PM on November 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


Hi, sorry, I've visited MefightClub a couple of times since the redesign, and the giant splash image of TF just makes my stomach turn. This is completely irrational of me, I know, but I've seen way more "sexy TF" Tumblr fanart than any one person needs to see in one lifetime.
posted by Nomyte at 11:27 PM on November 25, 2013


"So when you look at any other environment where there's a pronounced gender imbalance, is your reaction "Hunh, guess that's just how people's interests shake out"?"

So, because something's not a problem in some places, it must not be a problem anywhere?

I mean, what the fuck are you even on about here? I can't imagine you seeing disparities in video game versus cookie interests as troubling. I can't tell if your comment is idiocy born of ill-placed contempt for feminism or just brain-stem shit stirring devoid of any coherent reasoning.
posted by klangklangston at 11:45 PM on November 25, 2013


Sexy... TF... ?

I refuse to believe such a thing exists.
posted by Justinian at 12:18 AM on November 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well, I don't play a lot of games, and especially not team games. I also don't watch TV. Most of my mainstream pop culture comes from a network of Tumblr fan blogs. So, as far as I'm concerned, TF is about tender scenes involving Heavies and Medics, the Sherlock Holmes media franchise is about the world's greatest detective and his doctor boyfriend, Homestuck is, uh..., and don't even ask about Harry Potter.
posted by Nomyte at 12:48 AM on November 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


"QUILTBAG is a gender? Surely it also includes people who fall squarely under male or female, since being Lesbian or Gay doesn't make you stop being male or female... or am I barking up the wrong end of the stick here?
(Wouldn't be the first time, so please feel free to tell me.)"


QUILTBAG is one aspect of gender identity, sure. And because the question was free-form, many opted to answer with some aspect of their gender identity. I needed a category that included all of the responses that weren't "male" or "female" (or some semantic equivalent) and I didn't want to use the label "other", for obvious reasons. QUILTBAG was inclusive of all of these responses, but should be noted that it was skewed toward responses such as "genderqueer", "transgender", etc.
posted by iamkimiam at 2:09 AM on November 26, 2013


Me: I think you are objecting to gaming culture and making a mistake. Engineers aren't responsible for consumers.

wow that's condescending. not sure why my opinion on the silliness of his job change means i don't understand what an engineer is and what consumers are.
posted by nadawi at 9:44 AM on November 25


I'm pretty certain that a job that effects tens of millions of people is not silly.

As to the usage; You may as well blame Tesla for the electric chair.
posted by vapidave at 6:04 AM on November 26, 2013


I'm pretty certain that a job that effects tens of millions of people is not silly.

You know who else thought that...
posted by Miko at 6:13 AM on November 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


I don't understand Justinian's insistence in this thread that Nomyte must be being "disingenuous," and all "wink wink nudge nudge" about wanting to just discuss the issue of participation in threads by gender.

I understand almost everyone here is annoyed by the question and the implication that MetaFilter is doing something wrong. But from my perspective, it is not crazy to take a question like this, even an imperfectly worded one, and stretch it into an opportunity to talk through the issues it raises that DO interest you. Just to talk about them. Because talking through shit is interesting and gives you perspective.

Doesn't anybody else do this with their friends? You see something you think is weird, and might be a thing, so you bring it up with your friends to have them check you on whether or not the thing is really a thing. I do this all the time and I can assure you I am not being disingenuous or subversive. I just want to talk shit through with people who see the same stuff see and whose opinion I respect.

So, whatever, by all means continue the Nomyte pile on that has ensued here. I am increasingly coming to the conclusion that I need to adopt the three-and-out rule in MetaTalk
posted by onlyconnect at 6:15 AM on November 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


All I'm saying is that we should question our interests insofar as they conform to gender stereotypes.

I kind of wish Metafilter was on this graph (or at least, on a similar but better-executed graph...). I have noticed that my web usage is really "male" and don't know what (if anything) that implies about me. (I've also noticed people here saying they find Reddit's interface incomprehensible, while for me it is perfectly natural; as if to demonstrate symmetry, I cannot make head or tail of Pinterest.)
posted by Jpfed at 6:23 AM on November 26, 2013


vapiddave - i didn't say being an engineer is silly, i said that people's interest in carmack's job change was silly (especially since the news about the new job already happened and this was just the expected result of that so it strays even further into *yawn* territory for me). i'm not really sure why you're banging on about this. you asked why i hate carmack and i told you and also why i was generally disinterested in the carmack thread. i'm sorry if you find that offensive and i guess it's just up to you if you want to be an ass about it.
posted by nadawi at 7:02 AM on November 26, 2013


All who oppose Carmack
Must face him in carmbat
posted by lordaych at 7:20 AM on November 26, 2013


I've thought about the OP and I do think there is something to what nomyte is saying, although he could have framed his concern better and it would have been better if the topic had been raised by someone else perhaps.

Nomyte, I think, was wondering about gendered interest in topics, but site usage is related to his concern.

So here's a data point. As a woman I rarely participate on Metafilter and I participate sometimes on Metatalk. I participate most often on Askme.

I am trying to figure out why I don't participate on the blue. It's odd because I don't hold back elsewhere on the internet or in my professional life. I think there is a vague sense of an in-group, and I worry I'll say something wrong. If I do I have something to say, it's usually more trouble figuring out how to word it than the comment is worth.

Re-reading Jessamyn's comments in this thread, I realize that what creates the sense of an in-group are the frequent contributors. They do so much for the site and are very nice people from all that I see. But sometimes their contributions are self-referential and that creates a barrier to entry for less frequent posters and I'd imagine for newer users.

Mainly though it's hard write for the blue because it's hard to imagine the audience. I enjoy the posts and move on.

It's easier to jump in on Askme. You know who you are addressing. There's no tolerance for snark or personalities. It's the most egalitarian of the subsites.

Everyone uses the site differently. Maybe it's a good idea for us to think about how our use has an impact on others.

For what it's worth, I don't think there's a problem with moderation.
posted by vincele at 7:31 AM on November 26, 2013 [12 favorites]


onlyconnect, I think that maybe the blowback Nomyte is getting isn't because of the issue he raised itself, but rather how it was raised. The way the question is phrased, it sounds kind of like Nomyte thinks that maybe Metafilter is somehow intentionally segregating genders, either through mod action or community subtleness behind the scenes. Or, that Nomyte is asking how MetaFilter can combat something that is not Metafilter's doing. And I think people are either questioning why Nomyte thinks there's a community conspiracy about that, or disputing whether these actions are intentional; or, they're pointing out that it isn't Metafilter's job to tackle an underlying societal thing.

Also, while there's nothing wrong with "did'ja ever notice...." kind of observations in general, MetaTalk is more for Metafilter-specific stuff - and what Nomyte is describing is how an overall societal thing is being reflected in Metafilter, rather than anything unique to Metafilter. Which brings us back to "it sounded like Nomyte was saying it was a Metafilter Problem or that Metafilter could bring about a solution", and that's not the case.

At the very least, I can see how this could have been phrased to be more like a "didja ever notice...." that didn't sound like Nomyte was expecting community action or correction, 'cos we ain't gonna be able to get that.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:35 AM on November 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


I think there is a vague sense of an in-group, and I worry I'll say something wrong.

For what's it worth, my wife and few friends have said the same thing when I've bugged them to join. The site can look very ingroupy from a casual glance, which can be off-putting to some. I think it's one of those minor problems with the site, where it things could be better, but it's not holding back site growth per se.

Back when I joined, it was Matt and Jessamyn was part-time I think, with cortex being a super user and running stats. These days, I have to stop and think about the actual number of moderators but I notice something shiny before finishing the tally and omganotherpostonio9!

But from my perspective, it is not crazy to take a question like this, even an imperfectly worded one, and stretch it into an opportunity to talk through the issues it raises that DO interest you. Just to talk about them. Because talking through shit is interesting and gives you perspective.

Doesn't anybody else do this with their friends?


This can be hard to scale up to community of thousands of people, who aren't always close friends, who understand that so and so maybe state things awkwardly but is just lovable dork at once you get to know them, so those odds statements are excused. At the very least, having to respond to others with the lack of body language and knowledge of the individual's personality can be make communication difficult.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:10 AM on November 26, 2013


What I felt like Nomyte was doing (and why I think it seemed like a "wink, wink" sort of thing) was that it seemed like they were saying "Well, we THINK we're so progressive here on Metafilter, but when it comes down to it, guys like video games and girls like cookies, here as everywhere else in the world, gender splits, what ya gonna do, ya know" and that's what sort of bugged me about it. I didn't read it as much as "we push people out" of certain areas.
posted by sweetkid at 8:10 AM on November 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


I can't tell if your comment is idiocy born of ill-placed contempt for feminism or just brain-stem shit stirring devoid of any coherent reasoning.

Aww, I love you too klang. Don't you ever change.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 8:37 AM on November 26, 2013


It looked to me like picking a fight, and the deliberately coy followups did nothing to disabuse me of that notion. I'm honestly surprised the thread wasn't closed about a hundred comments ago, when it became clear this was posted as metatalk flavoured chatfilter.
posted by Proofs and Refutations at 8:40 AM on November 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


klangklangston: "I can't tell if your comment is idiocy born of ill-placed contempt for feminism or just brain-stem shit stirring devoid of any coherent reasoning."

Getting it all out of your system before you have to deal with family or something? How about you use your "nice words" for a change?
posted by Big_B at 8:52 AM on November 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


Seriously, please look like you are making an effort.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:56 AM on November 26, 2013




Doesn't anybody else do this with their friends? You see something you think is weird, and might be a thing, so you bring it up with your friends to have them check you on whether or not the thing is really a thing. I do this all the time and I can assure you I am not being disingenuous or subversive. I just want to talk shit through with people who see the same stuff see and whose opinion I respect.

I understand that you are being perfectly honest when you do that. In my experience, other people do that sometimes, too. A great deal of the time when people launch a conversation like that, however, what they are seeking is not merely other people's experiences. What they're looking for is their friends' support for opinions they already hold, and answers like "nah, I think you're nuts, most guys aren't like that" are not only unwelcome but potentially damaging to the friendship. In almost all circumstances, when someone says "didja ever notice...." answering "no, I haven't, and I think you're imagining things" comes off as rude. So framing a site policy/site culture discussion that way can seem a bit passive aggressive, because on a big site with a variety of opinions lots of people may fall into the "no I haven't" camp but feel they can't openly state that without being impolite.
posted by Diablevert at 9:05 AM on November 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


Some of the things Nomyte has said in this thread suggested to me this was not an entirely a "Hey I noticed this thing, did anyone else notice this thing too, what do we all think about this thing I noticed?" kind of post.

First, there was: "Can someone please convince me that "video games are a boy thing, cookies are a girl thing" is a good thing? The idea that I'm inadvertently and unconsciously participating in some kind of Good Old Boys MetaFilter doesn't exactly fill me with joy."

If Nomyte is asking to be "convinced" that the observed state of affairs is a "good thing" and that Nomyte is not "exactly fill[ed]...with joy" after the observation, it's reasonable to infer that Nomyte telling us that this is actually a bad thing.

If instead the MeTa had ended with "...pretty effectively. What do people think about this?" I'd be more willing to believe the MeTa was intended in the spirit of "Here's this thing I noticed" rather than also being loaded with the implied argument that there's something bad here.

Then there was the flippant response to the question about Nomyte's gender: I am Liberace, the pinnacle of masculine, feminine, and neuter. But more to the point, I like video games and don't like cookies.

Even if you take the reasonable position that Nomyte's gender is irrelevant (it's was also reasonable to ask in my opinion, but reasonable people can disagree), Nomyte's response made me question whether Nomyte was just being a provacateur or whether the post was intended in earnest. Maybe Nomyte thought that their gender was not relevant, but asking wasn't exactly offensive, and my feeling is that if you're going to start a MeTa on a topic that you know is going to be provocative, the least you can do is clarify from the get-go that you're participating in good faith, rather than saying stuff that makes people question it. So even if Nomyte didn't intend to put her or his good faith in question, the choice of this response sort of accomplished that anyway.

Then, after a series of responses in which it became more clear that Nomyte was probably earnest and not just shit-disturbing, Nomyte explained that "My point is that I find reminders of this unfortunate arrangement on a site I respect to be sobering."

So, yes--this couldn't have been simply "Hey I noticed this thing." To Nomyte, this thing is unfortunate and sobering.

And of course that's a completely fine point of view to have. But if anyone is wondering why people are getting defensive, I'd suggest it's because Nomyte has made the argument, both implicitly and explicitly, that there's something wrong going on here at MetaFilter. Interpreting the post as merely "Hey look at this thing I noticed, what do you think about it?" isn't really borne out by what Nomyte has said in this thread. In my view, at least.
posted by MoonOrb at 9:48 AM on November 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


Not sure what to tell you, OP. Play more games. Make more cookies. Or play other things. Make other things. Play with others if you can stand them. Or make them something. Or just sit quietly in a room and contemplate playing and making.

Getting it all out of your system before you have to deal with family or something?

Kinda feel like the same thing could be said of this entire Metatalk.

I do know I suddenly feel like changing my gender description from ♂ to "Amscray!"
posted by Celsius1414 at 9:54 AM on November 26, 2013


Diablevert's dynamic is pretty alien to me. I myself don't think it's impolite to ask genuine questions to which the answer might be no. This is why each time I am glad when I. F. responds in one of my posts, because whether or not he agrees with me, he helps me think about some idea in a new way. I would not want to be part of a site where it's considered too forward to ask anything other than "I know, right?!" questions.
posted by Nomyte at 9:55 AM on November 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


Well, at least you've finally won Metafilter.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:58 AM on November 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


Diablevert's dynamic is pretty alien to me. I myself don't think it's impolite to ask genuine questions to which the answer might be no....I would not want to be part of a site where it's considered too forward to ask anything other than "I know, right?!" questions.

The impolite part wasn't the asking. The impolite part is flatly contradicting the premise when you answer, it's the answerer who's committing the breech. Polite answers range from positive to non-committal.

I mean, to a large extent these are questions of framing and heaven help me tone. There's ways of asking a question which invite and welcome open dissent from the premise, and ways of asking a question which make clear that the asker is attempting to build consensus, launching the two-step process of gathering info about group mores in order to shift those mores. This is a thing, that happens, in groups of humans. The question is used specifically because it allows the asker an avenue of retreat if it becomes clear that the group consensus is united against her; flat contradiction of the premise comes off as rude because it can be ostracising.

I think that any thread launched in the grey is going to by default be perceived as an attempt to shift group consensus because the grey is the place on this site specifically set aside for group members to do that. In order to overcome that bias, the thread-poster has to use explicit language to countermand it in the post and make clear that dissent is welcome.

In this case, it seems clear that the majority of readers read your post as a consensus-building attempt. I don't think anyone here's saying that they don't want you to ask questions or that they don't want to have debates. But I think maybe you could think about how you're framing these potentially contentious questions if you want to make it clear that that's what you're up to.
posted by Diablevert at 10:19 AM on November 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


I would not want to be part of a site where it's considered too forward to ask anything other than "I know, right?!" questions.

Me neither. And yet you did not simply ask "Here is a thing I've noticed in these threads. Is this a usual thing here? Is there a way we can figure out if this is a usual thing?"
posted by rtha at 11:24 AM on November 26, 2013


Nomyte: I myself don't think it's impolite to ask genuine questions to which the answer might be no.

Your question wasn't genuine; it wasn't a question, really. You created a strawman and then tasked the rest of us with answering for it.
posted by spaltavian at 11:34 AM on November 26, 2013 [8 favorites]


Count me among those who might find a breakdown of gendered participants per thread sort of interesting, in a "huh, how about that" sort of way, but otherwise not really finding it useful information at all.

Honestly, this thread feels like pretty much all of your other MeTa callout threads, Nomyte. It's a little passive-aggressively axe-grinding, it's smoke with no fire.
posted by palomar at 11:56 AM on November 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ok, bait. The only genuine answer here is "I know but what are you gonna do."
posted by Namlit at 11:57 AM on November 26, 2013


Doesn't anybody else do this with their friends?

Sure, but A) that's not what Nomyte was doing as the post makes clear, I think. And B) Chatting with friends isn't really what Metatalk is for. That's more of a Chat thing. Metatalk is for discussion of site issues and site policy so it seems natural to assume that Nomyte intended this Metatalk as a discussion of site policies and site issues.
posted by Justinian at 12:16 PM on November 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


"This is why each time I am glad when I. F. responds in one of my posts, because whether or not he agrees with me, he helps me think about some idea in a new way."

I'm flattered that you say that, and of course that means that I'm inclined to respond to you favorably. So make of this what you will.

Your post puzzled me. I mean, as you can see from my comment, I am also disturbed by gender segregation and I'm not happy to see it here. But I don't expect to not see it here. I expect to see it here less than elsewhere, and in fact I do see it less here than elsewhere. But there's still more than a little of it. And, as I wrote in my comment, I do think that we individually ought to stop and consider the possibility that we've not paid attention to something because society says that it's not suppose to be interesting to us.

So I'm in agreement with your point of view here.

But you do sort of have an odd way of engaging when you've posted this MeTa posts. I can totally see why people suspect you of being disingenuous. I don't think you are — comparatively, you're not really in the running for the MetaFilter Disingenuous Championship.

One thing that's worth articulating, something that long-time mefites know deep in their bones, is that posting anything other than a "yay, MetaFilter!" or a bug report or question MetaTalk post is like painting a huge target on your chest. It's incredibly easy to misstep and offend a bunch of people, and even the most anodyne post is going to irritate someone. You seem to keep throwing yourself into the breech for no really good reason. Should it be this way? Well, like gender segregation, maybe it shouldn't be, and maybe we can individually help things improve for the better, but realism insists that for the foreseeable future, we're stuck with pretty much what we've got. "Have you noticed this thing?" posts are themselves not going to go over that well, especially if it's about something that is controversial (such as gender) and any hint of the post being an attempt to shame or preach or whatever will attract ill-will like crazy.

I think that what people have already said about this is pretty much all that can be said. MeFi is among the least institutionally and culturally gender segregated sites on the Web and, in general and relative to the rest of the culture, there's pretty good equal representation. And, not just in the case of gender roles and segregation, but in general I think it's a good idea for people to occasionally dip their toes into the waters of things they otherwise don't think will interest them.

I agree with onlyconnect that there's little profit in continuing to bash around Nomyte on this and that as MetaTalk threads go, this hasn't been so bad and hasn't been a waste.

So ... cookies for everyone? I got a bunch of birthday treats, including Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups, and I'd love to share them with y'all. Feel free to stop by my house and pick some up. It's probably not feasible for me to mail them, sadly.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 12:40 PM on November 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Honestly, this thread feels like pretty much all of your other MeTa callout threads, Nomyte. It's a little passive-aggressively axe-grinding, it's smoke with no fire.

It's also the most interesting thread on here in ages, possibly because it leaves a few gaps for the community to fill -because you know, apparently its a 'community' site and there's this weird two way interaction thing that sometimes occurs on teh interwebz.

I think its social something something media or whatever, it might be the next big thing.
posted by sgt.serenity at 1:04 PM on November 26, 2013


I'm flattered that you say that, and of course that means that I'm inclined to respond to you favorably. So make of this what you will.

I wouldn't try to curry your favor. That is a simple courtesy I extend to everyone. If you see me wandering off into the weeds and you want to say something, please do.
posted by Nomyte at 1:23 PM on November 26, 2013


"I wouldn't try to curry your favor."

I didn't think you were. I mean, you'd be daft to care that much. I just meant that I genuinely felt honored by the respect you publicly offered me and, being a complex emotional human being like anyone else, it does make me more generous toward your position than I otherwise would have been. So I was hoping that you'd take seriously my (gentle) criticism that there's something a bit "off" about this MeTa post and some others. I don't have any theories about it.

I really don't. I think I can be both empathic and insightful about people, but not infrequently I find that I can sort of see the outlines of maybe where they're coming from, but still there's something in there that's causing miscommunication or conflict that I can't quite get my head around. This is a self-indulgent digression, but I am aware that I suffer from a conceit that somehow, if I try hard enough, I can understand everyone else. So I'm always a little startled when I'm stymied. I can't put my finger on exactly what happened in your post and in this thread — I intuitively understand why people got hostile even though I don't suspect ill-motives on your part the way that it seems others do. Not knowing or understanding, I can't tell you how you might have gone about whatever you were attempting to do with this post better than you did; just that as someone well-disposed to you, I think that you ought to think about it some.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 1:37 PM on November 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


I see what you mean. That is an effect I tend to have regardless of the position I take. I'll take this as a signal to focus on posting light entertainment and maybe reevaluate my continued participation here.
posted by Nomyte at 1:44 PM on November 26, 2013


No, don't do that! That's an overreaction. I think in general your participation is quite valuable.

Just maybe the MeTa posts ought to be more carefully thought out.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 1:47 PM on November 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


If you see me wandering off into the weeds and you want to say something, please do.

Your comment here is an example of you wandering off into the weeds:
I'll take this as a signal to focus on posting light entertainment and maybe reevaluate my continued participation here.
No one here is saying "only light entertainment is okay to post". In fact, that's actually something of an overreaction to what people are saying the problem is.

Unless when you say "I'll take this as a signal to focus on posting light entertainment....." is your way of saying "maybe I'm not phrasing the complicated things as well as I could, so maybe I'll stick to light entertaiment because I know I can talk about that without it going weird."

My point being - it strikes me that you have good points and ask good questions, but the way you PHRASE those points and ASK those questions is unclear, and leads to misconstrued meaning. There's something Roger Ebert said to someone once - "If you were trying to make a point, I fear you are not in control of your instrument." I suspect something like that is what's happening here.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:00 PM on November 26, 2013 [6 favorites]


No one here is saying "only light entertainment is okay to post".

Right, no one said it and you did understand me. I am not trying to misrepresent your words or anyone else's. That is my decision, to avoid getting into heavy topics where my involvement results in more harm than good.
posted by Nomyte at 2:24 PM on November 26, 2013


My gender is:
- Spivak
- transgendered

My sex is:
- intersexed

For an under the shirt check, I have:
- moobs
- A medical diagnosis of gynecomastia (translation: moobs)

For an underwear check, I have:
- a small penis
- small testicles
- A medical diagnosis of hypogonadism (translation: small testicles)

For a reproduction check, I am: infertile

For a chromosomal check, I am: 46/47 XY/XXY mosaic

Is that enough fucking detail for the folks who want to know Nomyte's gender?

Can you tell me my own?
posted by kalessin at 2:25 PM on November 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


P.S. I WISH I ever had enough presence of mind to answer a sex check with Nomyte's "I am Liberace, the pinnacle of masculine, feminine, and neuter. But more to the point, I like video games and don't like cookies." Brilliant.
posted by kalessin at 2:26 PM on November 26, 2013


I dunno, it more strikes me as the kind of statement that tries to imply more than it can deliver, and just ends up sounding random.
posted by planetesimal at 2:38 PM on November 26, 2013


is that posting anything other than a "yay, MetaFilter!" or a bug report or question MetaTalk post is like painting a huge target on your chest. It's incredibly easy to misstep and offend a bunch of people, and even the most anodyne post is going to irritate someone. You seem to keep throwing yourself into the breech for no really good reason. Should it be this way? Well, like gender segregation, maybe it shouldn't be, and maybe we can individually help things improve for the better, but realism insists that for the foreseeable future, we're stuck with pretty much what we've got. "Have you noticed this thing?" posts are themselves not going to go over that well, especially if it's about something that is controversial (such as gender) and any hint of the post being an attempt to shame or preach or whatever will attract ill-will like crazy.

I just wish more people understood that *every* community feels this way, and calling out *any* community will have this effect.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 2:48 PM on November 26, 2013 [1 favorite]



Is that enough fucking detail for the folks who want to know Nomyte's gender


Nomyte has posted their own gender previously. Maybe not in this thread. If people are curious, they can find it.
posted by sweetkid at 2:52 PM on November 26, 2013


Right, no one said it and you did understand me.

But I wasn't sure I did understand you, and that is precisely my point - that something about the way you phrase the things you say is causing people to misunderstand you, and that in turn leads to conflict.

So basically, the only thing I'm calling you on for is "being a confusing writer". Fortunately, that's easy to fix.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:48 PM on November 26, 2013


Yes, there is at least one surefire way!
posted by Nomyte at 4:02 PM on November 26, 2013


Alright, fine, if you want to think we all think you should shut up, I can't stop you.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:07 PM on November 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't want Nomyte to shut up. It's also disappointing to see others throw stones in glass houses.
posted by kalessin at 4:12 PM on November 26, 2013


This thread has been like an extended excerpt of an unpublished Pinter play with far too many characters, and numerous chacteristically obscure remarks interspersed with just enough moments of blinding clarity to render the whole thing worthwhile, though not necessarily coherent or graspable.
posted by jamjam at 4:15 PM on November 26, 2013


Alright, fine, if you want to think we all think you should shut up, I can't stop you.

You can't, I'm too pretty.
posted by Nomyte at 4:28 PM on November 26, 2013


Honestly, just go ahead and take a break from this at this point, Nomyte.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:38 PM on November 26, 2013 [14 favorites]


I don't want Nomyte to shut up. It's also disappointing to see others throw stones in glass houses.

I think Nomyte's gender was relevant to the thread. If someone pipes up and says "hey, I feel like I'm being marginalized and my voice is going unheard" people treat that much more seriously than someone saying "hey, I feel like other people might feel marginalized by this." And that's....kind of how you want things, really, where the lived experience of the marginalized person has more cred that the assessment of an outsider.

If I write a post that says "I fear Metafilter has been silent on the plight of the Dutch" and MartinWisse and goodnewsfortheinsane pipe up and say, "what are you on about, we talk about the Dutch plenty" then I think most people would rightly regard them as having the better of the argument---because they're Dutch. (Or Netherlanders? Hollanders? It is now occurring to me that I am not sure what the right adjective is there.)

Which is not to say that an outsider shouldn't attempt to be cognizant of potentially troubling/marginalizing/oppressive things and raise them with the group --- it is in fact awesome and to be applauded when people do that. But being an outsider, they could be wrong about their instinct.
posted by Diablevert at 5:00 PM on November 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't think a gender check is relevant to any thread, least of all one talking about collective gender dynamics.
posted by kalessin at 5:10 PM on November 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't think a gender check is relevant to any thread, least of all one talking about collective gender dynamics.

I can understand that. But do you think it's wrong, that people take it more seriously when someone's raising something based on their lived experience? I feel like that's something that comes up in every subject under the sun. Is it always wrong, to give some deference to that? Or only in some circumstances?
posted by Diablevert at 5:21 PM on November 26, 2013


I think that there's fairness and there's decency and there's ethics and morality.

I think it's fair if we take each other at face value, if we don't do gender checks or underwear checks or shut-the-drawer-on-it checks and other kinds of checks that single us out or invalidate our experience based on what's in our pants or our minds or our experiences vis a vis gender or whatever the experience in question is.

I think it's decent if we give each other the benefit of the doubt and when we say we are speaking from experience, then we are given the room to express ourselves.

I think it's ethical if we come to a minority discussion (or a discussion about minorities) with some humility and we speak up when we are members of the majority with great care and lack of judgementalness and great support. Even if we feel sympathetic/empathic, the idea of the Silk Ring theory of expressions of sympathy or of "poking up" in comedy both apply here. Take the person who is speaking as or on behalf of the minority as the person who is in the inner Silk Ring or the bottom rungs of the "poking up" ladder. (Can't find a good essay/article that talks about poking up, but the Jezebel article on making rape jokes funny is close. tl;dr don't make the butt of the joke the victim.)

I think it's moral if we do all three, and more besides. This is a different kind of morality, I grant you, from what the church has traditionally taught, and the definition of morality I learned was tied closely to what the church hands down, dogmatically, about ethics.

To me, and I know you don't share my experience or priorities, as a person who has a fluid and flexible gender and who has experienced a great number of incidents of prejudice regarding my gender choice, gender expression and attempts to just do normal day-to-day living with a gender like that, I really don't think that the gender of the speaker need enter into the discussion of collective gender dynamics.

That a person (Nomyte, me, whomever) has asked the question begs the discussion. The fact that the person has a gender is certainly part of the discussion, but a gender check? Needing to know the gender of Nomyte? Or me? I think it's unnecessary and inappropriate, and I think it's disappointing that the discussion went there. Not only did it go there but it went there immediately and it got stuck there.

I was about to say that I thought the mods took Nomyte's simple refusal to specify a gender as a reason to ask Nomyte to quit the thread, but I think it was actually how e went about it - being whimsical and silly when confronted with repeated and unreasonable demands.

You may have seen how I responded. For folks with fluid gender presentations and associated life experiences, this kind of dynamic can be deeply upsetting and frankly very offputting.
posted by kalessin at 5:46 PM on November 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


I was about to say that I thought the mods took Nomyte's simple refusal to specify a gender as a reason to ask Nomyte to quit the thread

That was definitely not the case. People who know Nomyte around the site know Nomyte's gender and I don't think it has a lot of bearing on this discussion personally. I find Nomyte's history of making these same sorts of threads that go sideways in fairly predictable ways concerning. Because either it's a troll or Nomyte has some trouble communicating with the community effectively. And, as I said above, I honestly don't know which it is.

But, in a thread where so many people are making it clear that they're not even sure why it's been started, making repeated self-referential cutesy asides when it's pretty much not that sort of thread seems odd and jarring. Nomyte is free to act how they want, but now that we've been down this road in MeTa 3-5 times depending on how you count, we're pointing out what we see as trends a bit earlier and being a bit more clear that Nomyte may have to try something else.

We are more than happy to pre-screen MeTa threads and point out potential problems, pitfalls and alternate readings. We're pretty much available 24/7 to help out with this sort of thing. But we're also sort of stuck in these MeTa threads (unlike everyone else for whom they are 100% optional) and we'd like them to have some other purpose than someone just indicating vague disappointment with ... something.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:57 PM on November 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


To me, and I know you don't share my experience or priorities, as a person who has a fluid and flexible gender and who has experienced a great number of incidents of prejudice regarding my gender choice, gender expression and attempts to just do normal day-to-day living with a gender like that, I really don't think that the gender of the speaker need enter into the discussion of collective gender dynamics.

I totally see that...I understand that I'm blind, here, that I'm not going to be as sensitive to that problematic dynamic around gender that you've experienced, and I do want to be clear that I'm not trying to challenge you, or anything, just to understand better where you're coming from so hopefully I can be better about this stuff in future.

That a person (Nomyte, me, whomever) has asked the question begs the discussion. The fact that the person has a gender is certainly part of the discussion, but a gender check? Needing to know the gender of Nomyte? Or me? I think it's unnecessary and inappropriate, and I think it's disappointing that the discussion went there. Not only did it go there but it went there immediately and it got stuck there.

Okay, I follow that. Adding in what you say here:

I think it's decent if we give each other the benefit of the doubt and when we say we are speaking from experience, then we are given the room to express ourselves...

Would it be fair to say that the thing you found distressing was the fact that people went straight to "are you male or female?" Would a question like "are you speaking from experience here or not?" or something like "wait, I'm confused, are you part of the Old Boy's Club you refer to?" have been more okay, in a thread like this?
posted by Diablevert at 6:13 PM on November 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


I thought I read a more definite disappointment with some gendered thing in what Nomyte posted. I get that you and the rest of the mods and many users did not.

I think the difference may be life experience and context. I read in Nomyte's word choice and posting behavior a very strong correlation to my own experience of gendered expression on a communal scale which seemed naturally related to the impulse a lot of folks had to sex or gender check Nomyte.

But I also know that it was all sort of non- or meta-verbal and not something easily articulated (or else how would we be here on the end of this thread trying to talk about it?), and I don't hold that against anyone in particular. It's a very difficult topic.
posted by kalessin at 6:15 PM on November 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Would it be fair to say that the thing you found distressing was the fact that people went straight to "are you male or female?" Would a question like "are you speaking from experience here or not?" or something like "wait, I'm confused, are you part of the Old Boy's Club you refer to?" have been more okay, in a thread like this?

To me, yes. I can't speak for Nomyte. But personally, the "at least look like you're trying" mod directive applies to all of us. "R U M OR F" is not trying.
posted by kalessin at 6:16 PM on November 26, 2013


"R U M OR F" is not trying.

That's a mischaracterization of what was going on when people were asking Nomyte about that, which I think is what Diablevert is getting at.

I mean if Nomyte were really uncomfortable sharing their gender on this site but also very clear and not fighty about what they were trying to achieve in this thread, I could see your point - but I don't think that's the case.

I think you mean well kalessin but you're taking up the mantle of someone who's not really engaging in this in great faith in my opinion.
posted by sweetkid at 7:18 PM on November 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


The fact that the person has a gender is certainly part of the discussion, but a gender check? Needing to know the gender of Nomyte?

I think if you read the entire thread it's pretty clear that I don't think (and said as much!) that Nomyte's gender is in any way relevant to this thread. The point was trying to get Nomyte to articulate why Nomyte thought the gender of the commenteriat in the two threads in the OP were relevant in the absence of any sort of misbehavior which might reasonably be said to discourage participation by one gender or another. Since Nomyte recognizes gender isn't relevant to this thread (as evidenced by the response to the question) it isn't at all clear to me what the issue being brought to the table here is. At all.
posted by Justinian at 7:22 PM on November 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


"Misbehavior" seems to me to be a loaded and problematic litmus test.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 7:24 PM on November 26, 2013


I don't think a gender check is relevant to any thread, least of all one talking about collective gender dynamics.

Seriously? i almost thought i misread this at first.

Count me strongly on the side of asking if someone is speaking from personal experience, or just like, what their opinion of what it seems to be generally being something very relevant to the discussion.

And hell, i would think that avoiding the question is a sign that either they think that too, or they think it's 100% irrelevant and are being coy and aren't approaching the discussion with any sort of maturity.

I think that in a discussion about gender, the gender of the people participating is absolutely relevant. Would you say that someone being white is irrelevant in a discussion about race?

It's seriously the same kind of thing. And i would side eye anyone who said that they thought something was wrong with taking a mans opinion about how women are being treated in a situation with a grain of salt was somehow fucked up or discriminatory.

I'm a bit dismayed too, that even the mods chimed in to go "i don't really see how a posters gender is relevant to this sort of discussion". Like, what?
posted by emptythought at 8:38 PM on November 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Happy birthday, Ivan F!

(Mine's tomorrow; am thinking of making a celebratory carrot cake. Because I routinely start cooking without checking to make sure I have all the ingredients, I recently found that Greek yogurt is actually a pretty okay substitute for cream cheese in the frosting, though you gotta add more butter to thicken that ish up.)
posted by en forme de poire at 9:00 PM on November 26, 2013


"Happy birthday, Ivan F!"

Thanks! Happy Birthday to you!

Mine was a couple of weeks ago, but I didn't really celebrate it until Saturday, when my sister and I had a combined birthday celebration, as hers was last week but it took some coordination of schedules for the get-together.

Our mother cooked us a special dinner and baked us a cake, which I'm pretty sure made her even more happy than it made us. Mom made her Italian creme cake, which is apparently southern so I don't know how that happened, but it's basically a coconut almond cream-cheese sugar bomb and oh so good. No greek yogurt substitute for me.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 9:12 PM on November 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Misbehavior" seems to me to be a loaded and problematic litmus test.

Feel free to substitute whatever word you want, the point was to try to figure out what the heck this thread was about. Which I think a lot of people are still confused by.
posted by Justinian at 9:29 PM on November 26, 2013


I'm allergic to the term "disingenuous". I just want to put that out there as I can see where this is heading.
posted by kalessin at 9:47 PM on November 26, 2013


sweetkid, what is the first comment on this thread?
posted by kalessin at 9:49 PM on November 26, 2013


No, Hu's on first.
posted by planetesimal at 10:23 PM on November 26, 2013


sweetkid, what is the first comment on this thread?


The first comment was mine. I asked what the poster's gender is because lots of people, like Nomyte, do not identify their gender in their profile. So, how does it work to count out male versus female responses to posts, when that information is not always available? Nomyte said, "Obviously, everyone is free to specify anything (or nothing), but it still strikes as a little lopsided" and I just think that it's a pretty big percentage that does not state strictly male or female on their profile.

Is that enough fucking detail for the folks who want to know Nomyte's gender?

If you're a little sensitive about gender discussions, I get it, but I really wasn't interested in people detailing their genitalia for me. If anything, you are one of the people I was talking about - not neatly falling into one category or the other as you specified in your profile. Go ahead and look at my profile -- see, me too. I'm not doing a gender check during a discussion about gender dynamics; I'm questioning the data collection method.
posted by Houstonian at 10:44 PM on November 26, 2013 [9 favorites]


Note that people detailing their genitalia to you wouldn't necessarily tell you anything about their gender.
posted by NoraReed at 11:02 PM on November 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


And yet it was detailed. And that's willfully missing my point altogether.
posted by Houstonian at 11:14 PM on November 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


Feel free to substitute whatever word you want, the point was to try to figure out what the heck this thread was about. Which I think a lot of people are still confused by.

Whether MeFi (inadvertently or not, I guess) creates areas/threads not welcoming to people of some genders. I sort of assume this is a possibility Nomyte had rattling around in their head for a while and then tried to look for data. (From what iamkimian said above, it sounds like no one has looked at gendered distributions in commenting, which is, of course, difficult because of the free-form gender field.*)

*Though that's a survey I'd kind of like to see. Ask people about what their gender actually is and what they have written in their profile suggests (with a "My profile doesn't say" option, of course). My suspicion would be that an awful lot of binary-identified people who wrote something, wrote something from which one could accurately guess their gender.
posted by hoyland at 3:55 AM on November 27, 2013


I don't think a gender check is relevant to any thread, least of all one talking about collective gender dynamics.

Yet, Nomyte went and checked the genders of participants in 3 threads that weren't about gender dynamics and based on a laughingly small sample, accused the entire community of thousands and thousands of members and lurkers of being self-segregating and sexist.

If you want to start bringing up gender issues and launch a MeTa and you go purposefully clicking to look for and record the genders of 72 unique users (who didn't have the opportunity to claim Liberaceness and opt-out of this "study", mind you) and posit that you, yourself, might be "inadvertently and unconsciously participating in some kind of Good Old Boys MetaFilter", it's not awful to be asked what gender you identify with.

Because it's damn hard to be a part of an Old Boys club (even inadvertently and unconsciously) if your gender is female.
posted by kimberussell at 4:06 AM on November 27, 2013 [13 favorites]


Is there any reason the question can't be asked with "no" being an acceptable response?

E.g.:

"I think your own gender/race/social class/whatever is relevant to this. Would you be willing to share with us what it is?"
"No."
"OK."

Both how-dare-you-ask and how-dare-you-not-answer seem like a big waste of time all around.
posted by kyrademon at 4:30 AM on November 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yet, Nomyte went and checked the genders of participants in 3 threads that weren't about gender dynamics and based on a laughingly small sample, accused the entire community of thousands and thousands of members and lurkers of being self-segregating and sexist.

This is exactly why it was relevant, and why it was so irritating to me that Nomyte was coy about the same question directed at them. Nomyte can go through people's profiles assigning gender to posters to post a plaint about a quibble the nature of which I STILL don't clearly understand, but will go all coy and fan-dancerish when other people do the exact same thing to them.

Nomyte's history of inflammatory, ultimately unaddressable MeTas does not help with the perception of deliberate provocation to this MeTa.
posted by winna at 4:47 AM on November 27, 2013 [6 favorites]


Nomyte's history of inflammatory, ultimately unaddressable MeTas does not help with the perception of deliberate provocation to this MeTa.

It has to be deliberate, I think. The only question actually asked in the OP is "Can someone please convince me that 'video games are a boy thing, cookies are a girl thing' is a good thing?"

It's basically "Can someone convince me that letting Mefites beat their partners is a good thing?" It's almost custom-made to lead to a shitshow.

Since it took nomyte three days to hone that wording, what else could it have been but deliberately provocative?
posted by bonaldi at 4:49 AM on November 27, 2013 [6 favorites]


Whether MeFi (inadvertently or not, I guess) creates areas/threads not welcoming to people of some genders.

No, I think you've added the question of whether the threads are welcoming. And the concept of "whether" actually, which would imply an OP that asked for discussion. Instead, the OP asked us to convince the poster "that "video games are a boy thing, cookies are a girl thing" is a good thing?"

See, that's not "let's talk about this." That's, "this thing sucks so try to justify it to me."

If the poster is truly concerned about gender segregation on Metafilter by subject matter, and would like to discuss it, they are asking the wrong question.
posted by Squeak Attack at 6:17 AM on November 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


I identified and detailed two genders and several secondary and primary sex characteristics. What gender am I Houstonian?
posted by kalessin at 6:17 AM on November 27, 2013


winna, was my answer coy? Relevant? I'm curious.
posted by kalessin at 6:18 AM on November 27, 2013


Also, I think dickering over posters' personal gender is besides the point (such as it is) and just general fightyness.
posted by Squeak Attack at 6:18 AM on November 27, 2013


My point is not to be fighty. I am disagreeing a lot, yes, but I am pursuing the points that:
- it's personal AND political to talk about one's gender.
- for some people (myself included) there are no easy answers and no easy gender identities.
- because of this not answering or being coy about one's own identity or identification is a valid way of answering when challenged.
posted by kalessin at 6:24 AM on November 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


It's a troll for attention. I mean sure, it's funny how much pointless, earnest hand-wringing the thread generated. Bravo there, I guess. But note how nomyte only answers questions personal to him and addresses the two-ish people supporting him but ignores everyone else's requests for clarification from him. He's more interested in telling us his opinion of TF2? Great. Helpful.

He's clearly not interested in engaging in good faith dialogue about his nebulous problems with the site. This thread already has about 360 comments more than it deserves and I feel bad for wasting my time with it and for adding to whatever endorphin runoff he's getting from it. This thing was started for his benefit, not MetaFilter's.
posted by picea at 6:30 AM on November 27, 2013 [9 favorites]


winna, was my answer coy? Relevant? I'm curious.

Were you going about the site making up trouble based on people's gender field on their profiles? No? Then this isn't about you.
posted by winna at 7:04 AM on November 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


winna, I agree with Nomyte's expressed opinion and expression here. Good job dismissing my participation and concerns though.
posted by kalessin at 7:15 AM on November 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


I can't even tell what Nomyte's expressed opinion even IS, here.
posted by palomar at 7:21 AM on November 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think it's valid to decline to state your gender.

I think being coy about it is a really unhelpful way of doing so, especially if your goal is a serious discussion about gender on this site and it is a discussion you started.
posted by rtha at 7:29 AM on November 27, 2013 [7 favorites]


I think it's tricky. Like I said earlier, I have a lot of experience that maps to what Nomyte's trying to express/think about/talk about in this thread so it reads to me clear as day that Nomyte's talking about these sorts of inherent imbalances and biases that sort of come and go but sort of generally enforce the binary gender paradigm and generally follow the enculturated gendered cultural expecations (of, generally, the Western World).

But it's hard to talk about, hard to "get" and in my experience it's commonplace when talking about non-binary gender systems, to really get spooked, really get suddenly well out of one's comfort zone and not be very nice about getting there.

So I'm reading a lot of the contrary and sort-of-in-poor-faith comments as more about that than about Nomyte's direct comments and behavior. But I don't know for sure if my interpretation is right or just seeming more solid and grounded to me.

I do need to say that I've been tempted to write this sort of Metatalk post in the past but I also had trouble articulating it well and had trouble feeling like I could express it and engage with the ensuing discussion well. It's a tiring and exhausting subject, a tiring and exhausting effort, and because of how well enculturated most of us are (even we outsiders) with the binary system(s), it's deeply problematic and challenging to even talk about it, because so much of our language enforces the binary culture.

Thinking about it further, I think I agree that declining to state gender is a valid answer as well. I like the whimsy of being coy but I also agree that it didn't help the discussion. However, I still don't know whether anyone found my extremely detailed and specific gender particularly helpful either. I certainly don't. If anyone can explain my gender to me I'd be deeply obliged.
posted by kalessin at 7:32 AM on November 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


But it's hard to talk about, hard to "get" and in my experience it's commonplace when talking about non-binary gender systems, to really get spooked, really get suddenly well out of one's comfort zone and not be very nice about getting there.

I hear what you're talking about there, and I think that as a general thing that's totally worthwhile stuff to talk about, but I honestly don't think people nudging Nomyte on the gender thing in here were doing so remotely out of discomfort about non-binary gender systems so it feels like sort of a big tangent is all. People seemed to me to be responding (and in some cases in a sort of pointless, needling way) to a provocatively-framed metatalk post where the poster followed up mostly by being conspicuously present but unhelpful in being clear what their post was about.

Basically a sort of annoying dynamic all around, but not one in any way fundamentally about Nomyte's gender identity let alone the possibility of some notionally spooky non-binariness of same. People were just annoyed at what felt like someone bullshitting in a public place for no good reason.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:42 AM on November 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


I guess I'm not understanding the point of this post at all, then. There are inherent imbalances and biases, I guess, because that's part and parcel of the human condition and last time I checked, we're all human, but... what's the solution? Is there a way to rig Metafilter so that there's a more pleasing blend of comments from every gender in every thread? Or... do we just leave things alone, and let people comment on the things that interest them, regardless of what gender they express?

kalessin, you seem to be taking up the mantle of Nomyte's cause here, whatever it might be, so... what's the solution that would best solve this problem, whatever the problem actually is?
posted by palomar at 7:44 AM on November 27, 2013


People were just annoyed at what felt like someone bullshitting in a public place for no good reason.

I get that. That's precisely why I never posted an OP on Metatalk about it. I couldn't figure out how to carry off a profitable conversation about it.

But that Nomyte did, I felt more right stepping in and challenging some of the ongoing dynamics that evolved from the general shitty feelings and trying to get something out of it.
posted by kalessin at 7:44 AM on November 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


What gender am I Houstonian?

My answer is exactly the same -- we do not have enough information in our profiles to provide a true count of which genders responded to cookie- and game-related posts.
posted by Houstonian at 7:47 AM on November 27, 2013


palomar, it's still Nomyte's thread, whether or not e's (I'm using my preferred neutral gender pronoun here in the absence of Nomyte providing one) still welcome to participate here, and I can't know what e was thinking. It sounds (from both on- and off-thread) remarks I've seen from Nomyte seem to indicate that Nomyte just wanted to have a conversation about the dynamics e'd observed and it seems like the tangent of trying to determine eir personal gender was an amusing and expected tangent, sort of in keeping with the whimsical nature of the Nomyte emself.

I think the fix is less hostility, less focus on things like an individual speaker's gender or gender expression and more mindfulness. A lot of the reactions I saw on this thread that I thought were objectionable were ones that weren't trying to be mindful and instead read as sort of subconsciously kneejerk. I understand that happens and I think it's about as OK as Nomyte figuring being coy and metaphorical in answers about eir gender was OK. People are never perfect and I get that, but I also have come to expect a lot more of my fellow MeFites. I want all of us to try harder to build bridges and be willing to talk about hard stuff without taking our frustration out on each other.
posted by kalessin at 7:56 AM on November 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


I get that. That's precisely why I never posted an OP on Metatalk about it. I couldn't figure out how to carry off a profitable conversation about it.

I don't know. I posted an example above, and while I can't know that a meTa started that way wouldn't go sideways, I think it would be much less likely to become all about the person who posted it. I also think that while light-hearted or humorous comments can have a place in a Serious Discussion, it's a very tricky line to walk and may be best left untraveled either very early in the thread or by the OP.
posted by rtha at 7:57 AM on November 27, 2013


Houstonian, I provided as much information about my gender (and sex) as I can. You pressed Nomyte to answer your question about eir gender. I will not do the same or similar to you. But my answer is that my gender and Nomyte's gender do not matter a whit.

If we all had intentionally non-binary genders I would get your point, but we don't. Part of the privilege of being in a dominant gender in an ostensibly binary-gendered world is that if we don't state a gender, we get to benefit from people's assumptions about our gender and the privilege that confers to us.
posted by kalessin at 7:58 AM on November 27, 2013


Also also: Nomyte seems to care a lot about the genders of other people, particularly those in the threads he addressed, to the point where he went through profiles of the participants in order to determine what they are, and I don't quite understand why that doesn't seem to bug you at all.
posted by rtha at 8:04 AM on November 27, 2013 [6 favorites]


I have a social sciences background. To me, going through public profiles to determine ad hoc what a gender is is more like a social sciences survey and less like an individual interrogation. I often participate in surveys that I have no specific interest in just to widen the bell curve, so that doesn't really bother me.

I get that the survey Nomyte did wasn't opt-in and I can see what that would bother some folks, but the information is also public. Houstonian's point is a reasonable one, I think, but given that cortex asked Nomyte to take a break from this thread I don't think we're ever going to get a good idea of the sampling and analytical categories and techniques Nomyte used to determine collective gender.
posted by kalessin at 8:08 AM on November 27, 2013


Oh! kalessin, I finally understand the misunderstanding! When I say that we don't have enough information in our profile to determine gender, I DO NOT CARE. I'm not asking people to fill it out, to tell me, to whatever -- I don't provide gender information myself because I just don't see how it is relevant.

You ask me, what gender are you. OK, in the context of this MeTa about gender entered in the profile, I say you are spivak and I'm n/a. My initial query was to point to that and say, how are we counted?
posted by Houstonian at 8:09 AM on November 27, 2013


So why did you formulate your first question in so gendered a way? Was it sarcasm?
posted by kalessin at 8:11 AM on November 27, 2013


Because Nomyte was counting males and females. And no, no sarcasm. I was hoping Nomyte would look at their own profile and see it from a stranger's eyes -- see how it what they were doing was silly because they, too, don't have "male" or "female" specified in the profile.
posted by Houstonian at 8:13 AM on November 27, 2013


but given that cortex asked Nomyte to take a break from this thread I don't think we're ever going to get a good idea of the sampling and analytical categories and techniques Nomyte used to determine collective gender

Well, I told Nomyte to take a break after some more LOOK AT ME BEING PRESENT IN THIS THREAD AND NOT REALLY ENGAGING stuff that seemed pretty much orthogonal to any sort of making-the-thread-better; I didn't tell Nomyte they could never speak of this stuff again, and if they want to talk about their coding methods or sampling rubrics in some sort of concrete not-just-idly-fucking-around way that's basically fine. Maybe this is not what you are trying to imply, but I feel like you are treating this as some sort of banned-in-fact-if-not-in-name-for-not-disclosing-gender-identity thing, when that's like five miles from the actual situation on basically every point.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:13 AM on November 27, 2013 [6 favorites]


Yeah, I agree with what kalessin is saying here about trying harder not to jump to conclusions about people's motivations when tone is hard and we are all just typing into space at one another. When you fail to give Nomyte the benefit of the doubt in bringing up a discussion of participation in threads by gender here, it can serve to send the message that we don't think what he's getting at is important.

Relatedly, I don't think it's helpful in any way to say kalessin is "a little sensitive about gender discussions" after what they have posted here. Would you say women who get paid less than men are "a little sensitive about pay imbalances"? The problem is not some oversensitivity on their part -- they are exactly the right amount of sensitive! The problem is our own marginalization of the real societal issue and imbalance.

I finally fail to understand people's obsession with Nomyte's gender even though -- EVEN THOUGH -- he asked a question dealing with participation in MetaFilter threads by gender. All Nomyte did was look at what people self-reported, and left blanks for where people didn't report anything. I don't think his avoiding the question of gender signals some underlying bad motivation in posing the question; I think he just didn't think his gender should matter to have his inquiry taken seriously.
posted by onlyconnect at 8:14 AM on November 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


kalessin, is there ever a time in MetaFilter when you think it would be appropriate to ask a person to state what their gender is?

If your answer is no, okay, and I'll disagree. But if your answer is yes, there is such a time, why wouldn't this thread be an appropriate time?
posted by MoonOrb at 8:16 AM on November 27, 2013


cortex, Not my intent. I think that there was a lot of gender-related hijinx about Nomyte's gender and some fightiness on the part of other commenters about Nomyte's coy refusals to identify, but jessamyn already addressed whether the take-a-break comment you left was about the coy refusals, and I am satisfied that it wasn't.

I do see the request that Nomyte take a break and the general fightiness about refusing to specify a binary gender as separate issues.

Still if I were Nomyte, I wouldn't feel welcome to comment until just now when you specified what was okay to comment about.
posted by kalessin at 8:16 AM on November 27, 2013


MoonOrb, no, I don't. I think folks can self-ID as much as they feel is relevant but if they're refusing or failing to self-identify they probably have a reason to do so.
posted by kalessin at 8:17 AM on November 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


kalessin, thanks. Sorry to be nitpicky. I have a follow up. I think I can agree with you that it should be okay when people don't answer that question. But I'm more asking whether it's okay to ask. I'm getting the feeling your answer to this is also no, from the way you've framed it as a "gender check," but I'm curious.

(also, my comment on Nomyte declining to answer isn't "Nomyte MUST answer" as it is, "the way Nomyte chose to respond to that question made me doubt whether the post was meant in good faith")
posted by MoonOrb at 8:22 AM on November 27, 2013


It's always okay to ask, but there are ways to ask that are trying to engage with the material at hand and ways that come off as reflexive and knee-jerk.

If you ask "Are you male or female?" then you've just taken me back to the 1980's on AOL (and earlier networks), where I'm in a chat room trying to find common cause with a bunch of cybersexers.

If you ask "So how did you do this survey and what did you do, statistically, with the non-conformers?", then you've engaged with the subject and are asking a good question.

I get that's what Hustonian intended when e asked in the first comment (the latter ask, even though e used the syntax of the former), but what came across was AOL cybersexing.

And if you really wish to ask Nomyte eir sex (I guess to try to determine whether e has the cred to ask the question or is not part of the majority and therefore the problem?), sure, do it, but be prepared for the possibility that the answer may be "No thanks." or "no", or "n/a", or something equally outside of the norm.
posted by kalessin at 8:29 AM on November 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


I also wanted to note that we are violating a number of assumptions that gender-identity activists and scientists use to talk about gender. The primary one is the conflation of biological sex and culturally-assigned and assumed gender.

So when we talk about gender, the guideline vocab is we should use terms "man", "woman", "Spivak", "masculine", "feminine", "androgynous", etc.

When we talk about biological sex, the guideline vocab is: "male", "female", "intersex", "Klinefelters", "Turners", etc.

Also, sorry for misspelling you, Houstonian.
posted by kalessin at 8:45 AM on November 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think it's tacky, bad faith, and trollish to play a stupid fucking gotcha game about people's self-reported genders when you're not willing to disclose your own. If you're not willing to share your own, then shut up about other people's and about what some half-assed gender analysis you did says about Metafilter. That's why I asked.
posted by jayder at 9:13 AM on November 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


jayder, in your judgement have I disclosed mine?
posted by kalessin at 9:52 AM on November 27, 2013


If you're not willing to share your own, then shut up about other people's and about what some half-assed gender analysis you did says about Metafilter. That's why I asked.

This. Nomyte just hackishly made some conclusions based on "typically male/female usernames" and then went looking for some counterbalance and found the cookie thread (I'm sure there are other, less stereotypically feminine topic threads in which women have dominated as well, but Nomyte went in for the cookies).

Kalessin, a lot of the people you are trying to instruct about gender sensitivity here are active in gender threads and have an understanding of non binary gender identification. But that stuff doesn't exist in a vacuum. There was a specific reason people were asking Nomyte about gender.
posted by sweetkid at 10:01 AM on November 27, 2013 [6 favorites]


jayder, in your judgement have I disclosed mine?

Who cares? You weren't the person who posted this stupid Meta and did the most half-assed in the history of half-assery gender "analysis" of a couple of threads. The points you brought up about gender probably deserve their own Meta, rather than getting wrapped up in this one, because they are smart and interesting. This Meta didn't start smart and interesting, then turned into stunt post territory, and now seems to be wrapped up in an odd back and forth about your details.
posted by Dip Flash at 10:08 AM on November 27, 2013 [14 favorites]


There was a specific reason people were asking Nomyte about gender.

Agreed. His "Liberace" response seemed... childish. Sorry, Nomyte. I don't mean to offend. But that's how it came across to me.

You had a question for the community. When the community asked you to clarify why you were asking the question and from what perspective, since many of us didn't see any evidence of what you were inquiring after, your response was.... snark.

It did not seem like a response made in good faith.
posted by zarq at 10:09 AM on November 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Seriously, can we please close this serial pile-up?
posted by Etrigan at 10:12 AM on November 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


kalessin, either gender matters to Nomyte or it does not. It's disingenuous* to go through everyone else's gender, catalogue them, draw broad, provacative conclusions based upon them about everyone who posted in those theads, and then publically tsk tsk the community and demand an explanation based upon those conclusions and then take the moral stand that one's gender should have no bearing on their participation in the same community. It's even worse to refuse to actually articulate that stand, but to refuse to engage seriously with the issue they brought up.

This issue has nothing to do with binary gender representations.

*It's a word, you're not allergic to it, and if you have a problem with its specific use, you are free to express it. You don't get to cast a magic force field against being held to an honest standard at the beginning of a conversation.
posted by spaltavian at 10:12 AM on November 27, 2013 [6 favorites]


I'm using myself and personal experience in good faith to discuss a communication transaction or style. I saw what seemed like incredibly poor faith attempts to force Nomyte to share eir gender for purposes I don't agree are important. I don't like what I'm seeing here and am in good faith pointing it out and saying so.
posted by kalessin at 10:12 AM on November 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


Now that disingenuous has been deployed please take further questions elsewhere.
posted by kalessin at 10:13 AM on November 27, 2013


But it's ok for Nomyte to make assumptions on other people's genders, and how that influenced site behavior? What.
posted by sweetkid at 10:14 AM on November 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


Out of curiosity, kalessin, what term would you use to describe a willingness to participate in a debate only if others don't say things you disagree with?
posted by spaltavian at 10:22 AM on November 27, 2013


Having boundaries and saying so.
posted by kalessin at 10:29 AM on November 27, 2013


What you said was that you were "alergic". That's not a "boundary", that is nonsense. Was everyone supposed to be shamed out of expressing themselves through your high-handed refusal of explanation?

Worth noting, no one said you were disingenuous. And Nomyte has ingnored dozens of comments earnestly seeking further explanation or commentary from them. Unless you think comments about Team Fortress were the issue at hand.
posted by spaltavian at 10:35 AM on November 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Hey folks who are annoyed by this thread. You have already gotten Nomyte to agree not to post contentious MetaTalk threads anymore. If you look at Nomyte's profile he is also talking about commenting less often and generally minimizing site presence. Win for you!

Now you are working on alienating kalessin as well and I think that would be awful. Would you consider dialing it down a little? Remember that it is like 10 against 1 here (I'm barely participating at this point so I don't count me) and your ire is adding a lot of pressure to an already tense situation. If you've read kalessin's previous posts you will see contributions of great value and I ask you to please have some respect and consideration.
posted by onlyconnect at 10:35 AM on November 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


any conversation among the mods to close this thread? it seems like it could have been closed 100 or more comments ago...
posted by nadawi at 10:37 AM on November 27, 2013


Everybody finding something else to do with like free-floating holiday anxiety or whatever would not be a terrible idea, yeah. I don't want folks to feel like they can't have a good metadiscussion about site stuff if that's what's in the cards but it feels like we're in sort of a weird culdesac at this point in here based mostly on a thread that didn't really start well in the first place.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:38 AM on November 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Are we not capable of keeping it open but refraining from piling on kalessin?
posted by onlyconnect at 10:39 AM on November 27, 2013


onlyconnect: Are we not capable of keeping it open but refraining from piling on kalessin?

That's not what's happening.
posted by spaltavian at 10:40 AM on November 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


You have already gotten Nomyte to agree not to post contentious MetaTalk threads anymore. If you look at Nomyte's profile he is also talking about commenting less often and generally minimizing site presence. Win for you!

It's not a win for anybody. If Nomyte read through this thread and the take-away was, "I NEED TO MINIMIZE MY SITE PRESENCE" then that's absolutely his prerogative but it strikes me as kind of passive aggressive. I don't think anybody asked him to minimize his site presence. People asked (rightfully) that he think about these kind of problematic MetaTalk threads that he continually opens. That's pretty much like, "Oh, you're criticizing me, instead of engaging I'm going to take my ball and go home" - which is, like, you know, your choice if that's how you want to roll, but it's sad and nobody in this thread asked for it.
posted by kbanas at 10:44 AM on November 27, 2013 [8 favorites]


Also his profile has said that for months. It's not in response to this thread.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 10:50 AM on November 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


I feel honored that you chose to share these things about yourself with us, kalessin.

I also think the kind of work you're doing here-- and the risks you're taking-- will help to make a space for you and others like you to exist in our culture without having to try to fit into Procustean categories, and will ultimately lead to a much deeper understanding of human nature as a whole than anyone can claim to have right at the moment.
posted by jamjam at 10:57 AM on November 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


onlyconnect - i'm not asking for this to be closed to stop what you've called a pile on, i'm asking what the point of keeping it open is. it seems like the thread is just twisting around itself and no site issues are really being discussed and that the potential this will change seems pretty small from where i'm sitting.
posted by nadawi at 11:01 AM on November 27, 2013


Last comment from me in this thread.

My profile has said what it says since I got to 10K favorites. I meant it as a "hang in there, kitty" reminder to myself.

As to methodology, onlyconnect made the correct assumption that I kept tallies for people explicitly reporting as male (M/guy/dude/Mars symbol), explicitly female, and those choosing not to report. That seems like the best available metric under the circumstances, because it allows me to avoid assumptions about non-reporters. If one is to claim that even that metric is meaningless because self-report on the Internet is untrustworthy, then we might as well assume that we don't know anything about Reddit's membership either.

On the other hand, sweetkid completely misread something else in my post. I made no assumptions about "typically male/female usernames." I think she's referring to the CD swap comment, although her quotation is not a direct quote. In the CD swap, people use real names like Jack and Bob and Kyle. Whether they're using their own names or the names of male household members is a conceivable objection. If "people with feminine names" participated in the CD swap as much as or more than "people with masculine names," getting a set of 10 masculine names would be a one in a thousand chance.

If perfectly well-meaning people like sweetkid managed to misread three paragraphs so badly, I can only imagine how confusing it would be if I kept adding restatements and clarifications.

Although I included myself in my own tallies, I still find the question of my gender irrelevant. I can only imagine comments like "this isn't for your kind to talk about" or "be the change you want to see" coming out of an answer, which I wouldn't welcome and would find beside the point. I have made the same point a long ways above, yesterday. I thought that getting the "M or F?" question right off the bat was extremely surreal, and responded in kind.
posted by Nomyte at 11:22 AM on November 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


You can only imagine those responses because they are incredibly unlikely to occur on Metafilter.
posted by agregoli at 11:41 AM on November 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


Be the change blah blah...
posted by [redacted] at 1:16 AM on November 25 [+] [!]

posted by onlyconnect at 11:45 AM on November 27, 2013


Yeah, I'm off-duty and several cups into my cups, but I'd sure like like to see us all come out of here with all our members intact. T'is the season when people do get angsty in general, but man, I don't even think we're much disagreeing here. And while there may be a productive discussion that could possibly happen about gender and participation on Mefi, it feels like there's too much confusion about the central question or issue in this thread, and it might be better to raise it in a much clearer form if someone feels like addressing that at some point. I'd personally be happier with a clearcut question and resulting discussion that might make some people specifically angry than a more amorphous fill-in-the-blank with free floating possibly-related-or-not anger because-it's-that-vague kind of thing.
posted by taz (staff) at 11:53 AM on November 27, 2013 [8 favorites]


Nomyte, i still really don't understand why anything observed in 3 threads with small number of overall participants is something you decided is present site wide historically (or why so many decided to just take it as fact)? for instance this video game thread has 19 people of unspecified or non-binary gender, 10 males, and 7 females. did you consider that maybe you were noticing a confirmation bias?
posted by nadawi at 11:53 AM on November 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


Although I included myself in my own tallies, I still find the question of my gender irrelevant. I can only imagine comments like "this isn't for your kind to talk about"

Really? This is the point where I wonder if we are all connected to the same community reality.

As to methodology, onlyconnect made the correct assumption that I kept tallies for people explicitly reporting as male (M/guy/dude/Mars symbol), explicitly female, and those choosing not to report. That seems like the best available metric under the circumstances, because it allows me to avoid assumptions about non-reporters. If one is to claim that even that metric is meaningless because self-report on the Internet is untrustworthy, then we might as well assume that we don't know anything about Reddit's membership either.

Here's where the question is partially problematic for a community like this, I think: how do you take into account those who are participating in the discussion in spirit but not saying anything? On the internet, people can be in the same "room," enjoying the conversation, nodding in agreement, without having to put anything in writing. They might throw in a favorite or two. Because talking out loud is not the only one way to participate socially in anything.

So, I'm not sure written participation is at all indicative of real participants, interest, or general overall social texture of a place. Which is why I think observations like lack of overt participation in a forum can perhaps be indicative of something, you would have to have some positive evidence to put any teeth to it. For this to mean something that has any prescriptive force, you would need to poll people to see if they actually were or felt excluded. Which of course you can do. But for most people I think it's not a "smoke, perhaps fire" kind of thing, but it's a "why are you assuming smoke in the first place, when it could very well be something else?"
posted by SpacemanStix at 1:16 PM on November 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


That seems like the best available metric under the circumstances, because it allows me to avoid assumptions about non-reporters.

Just in my experience from the chat room, I have been fairly surprised by how many people who don't identify with a gender in their profile are actually female. It's far more than 50%. I think that is typical of online communities, in fact.
posted by empath at 1:22 PM on November 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


Nomyte: Although I included myself in my own tallies, I still find the question of my gender irrelevant. I can only imagine comments like "this isn't for your kind to talk about"

SpacemanStix: Really? This is the point where I wonder if we are all connected to the same community reality.

You left off Nomyte's next phrase in your quote excerpt, which was "or 'be the change you want to see,'" which, as you can see from my response to agregoli above, someone in this thread actually DID lob out there. Why is it so hard for you to imagine that people in this community say these types of things when I just showed three comments before yours that they really do say them? I just don't understand the disconnect here. And to not just try to make your point but also question Nomyte's view of reality? That seems not right to me.
posted by onlyconnect at 1:34 PM on November 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Nomyte just hackishly made some conclusions based on "typically male/female usernames" and then went looking for some counterbalance and found the cookie thread (I'm sure there are other, less stereotypically feminine topic threads in which women have dominated as well, but Nomyte went in for the cookies).

If people are interested in whether posters are self-segregating by gender, we shouldn't look for threads that have stereotypically gendered topics and then tally the genders of the people posting in those threads, because that's not actually going to give us useful information. That procedure is a way of searching for a problem for a "pet" solution we've already got (starting from the idea that we're self-segregating, and *then* looking for evidence to support it, instead of starting from evidence and then drawing a conclusion about gender segregation from it).

Maybe threads *are* de facto segregated by gender across the site in general, but to figure that out, we need to set "identified/non-identified gender" as the independent variable, and "thread participation" as the dependent variable; nobody's gender is "determined" by which threads they participate in, even *if* it's true that which thread a person participates in can be somewhat predicted by that poster's profile-(non-)identified gender.

Maybe a better procedure would be to draw up samples of posters who, in their profiles, identify as male, female, or neither/other/blank/etc, and then track which threads those posters view and post in, to see if there's a significant difference across groups. (Even if it would screw up our samples a bit, I also think it's important that we ask people to participate before just drafting them into our survey. Yes, it's possible to just draft people using "public" information, but just because it's possible doesn't make it polite or good for the community).

The nice thing is that with that data, we would also be able to at least estimate *how* predictive someone's gender (non-)identification on their profile is to which kinds of threads they will participate in (which, since most things aren't *totally* random, is probably the more interesting/important thing to figure out anyway).

It would be great for my stat (and STATA) skills to work on a project like that, so if that's something people actually want to pursue, please go ahead and memail me.

If we were to find out that people *are* significantly self-segregating according to gender, that still wouldn't necessarily mean that we should or even can change anything. But I think it's pointless to try thinking of ways to change a situation we don't even know exists.
posted by rue72 at 1:48 PM on November 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


Ok, instead of more meta-meta-talk I'll go on the record and say that I don't think a Carmack thread skewing male is either surprising or problematic.
posted by Justinian at 1:51 PM on November 27, 2013


Oh, clarification: I don't think it is a problem with Metafilter circa 2013. It may represent a problem with computer gaming circa 1990 but unless you have a time machine there isn't much we can do about that.
posted by Justinian at 2:01 PM on November 27, 2013


You left off Nomyte's next phrase in your quote excerpt, which was "or 'be the change you want to see,'" which, as you can see from my response to agregoli above, someone in this thread actually DID lob out there.

I left it out because that wasn't the part I had an issue with. I could see the last part perhaps being said, but the first one seemed like a total disconnect to me. Those kinds of statements really don't fly here historically.
posted by SpacemanStix at 2:06 PM on November 27, 2013


"It may represent a problem with computer gaming circa 1990..."

I think that had a lot to do with that particular thread.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 2:32 PM on November 27, 2013


As the redacted (seriously?) "Be the change"-er mentioned, it wasn't intended to have anything to do with Nomyte's gender -- MetaFilter is 99 percent what we, the users, make it, and people not participating in threads is definitely not in the other 1 percent. Hence, the way to un-gender these gendered areas is not to MeTa about it, but to participate in stuff that you like, and then shit will sort itself out.
posted by Etrigan at 2:36 PM on November 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


Actually, at least three people in this thread have suggested that if this question were posed by a man it should be treated differently --basically with less seriousness-- than if it were posed by a woman. That is not the same as "not for you to talk about" but it is of a similar type, and may be what Nomyte meant. Moreover men have been told in feminism/sexism threads here before -- here, on MetaFilter -- that their white knighting on behalf of women was odious and suspect. I'm not saying that would have happened here, but it's not something that could only occur in a separate reality.
posted by onlyconnect at 2:37 PM on November 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Moreover men have been told in feminism/sexism threads here before -- here, on MetaFilter -- that their white knighting on behalf of women was odious and suspect.

As a thing-that-has-ever-happened, sure. By that yardstick, this is a place where all kinds of crappy things are totally plausible, because we don't filter comments upfront, for crappiness or otherwise. But that hasn't been the prevailing attitude, hasn't been done without significant pushback, hasn't been condoned by the mods, etc. The reality in which it's possible for someone to say something isn't the same as a reality where it's plausible for them to do so without getting called on it and receiving pushback.

It's something worth talking about in the context where it actually arises, but just raising the specter of it as an inevitability to argue against e.g. being more straightforward and less coy in a Metatalk thread isn't really such a great tactic.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:53 PM on November 27, 2013


Ivan Fyodorovich:
"It may represent a problem with computer gaming circa 1990..."

I think that had a lot to do with that particular thread.


So there are specific problems with that thread after all? Because that wasn't part of the original complaint, and to as far as I remember, this is the first mention of one. Might be better to talk about those.
posted by spaltavian at 3:01 PM on November 27, 2013


"Actually, at least three people in this thread have suggested that if this question were posed by a man it should be treated differently --basically with less seriousness-- than if it were posed by a woman. That is not the same as "not for you to talk about" but it is of a similar type, and may be what Nomyte meant. Moreover men have been told in feminism/sexism threads here before -- here, on MetaFilter -- that their white knighting on behalf of women was odious and suspect. I'm not saying that would have happened here, but it's not something that could only occur in a separate reality."

Those who feel an injury directly should have their comments about said injury regarded more seriously than someone wondering idly if someone else is injured.
posted by klangklangston at 3:24 PM on November 27, 2013


So there are specific problems with that thread after all? Because that wasn't part of the original complaint, and to as far as I remember, this is the first mention of one. Might be better to talk about those.

No, what we are saying is that a Carmack thread is going to skew heavily male because almost everyone interested in it will have been interested in Doom and Quake in the early 90s. And interest in early 90s computer FPS skewed heavily male at the time. Which may be a problem with gaming in the early 90s but isn't a problem with Metafilter or the thread and is nothing we can do anything about since it happened almost 25 years ago.
posted by Justinian at 3:39 PM on November 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


We could build a time machine.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:27 PM on November 27, 2013


And go back and fix that shit.
posted by bongo_x at 4:34 PM on November 27, 2013


It would take more than a time machine to fix this thread.
posted by box at 4:59 PM on November 27, 2013


Hi, sorry, I've visited MefightClub a couple of times since the redesign, and the giant splash image of TF just makes my stomach turn. This is completely irrational of me, I know, but I've seen way more "sexy TF" Tumblr fanart than any one person needs to see in one lifetime.

whut
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:07 PM on November 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


Actually, at least three people in this thread have suggested that if this question were posed by a man it should be treated differently --basically with less seriousness-- than if it were posed by a woman.

If by any chance you're tallying what I've said in this thread in your "at least three" then no, I did not say that.

If not, then carry on.
posted by zarq at 5:17 PM on November 27, 2013


well you see, stav, when a Heavy and a scout love each other very much....
posted by zarq at 5:20 PM on November 27, 2013


We could build a time machine.

In a jacuzzi?
posted by SpacemanStix at 5:31 PM on November 27, 2013


well you see, stav, when a Heavy and a scout love each other very much....

Beautiful things happen, I know.

I just don't understand the reference to '"sexy TF" Tumblr fanart'. The first splash image (of three at the moment) is a staged screenshot in-engine, with all 9 TF2 characters doing their default taunt animation from the very early days of the game. It's a screenshot of TF2, so it's not sexy (unless one finds the game per se sexy, which, uh, sure OK, who am I to judge) it's not from Tumblr, it's not fanart (unless one extends the idea of fanart to staged screenshots, which, again, sure OK, I guess). It is TF2, though, so.

The selection of images I use on the public-facing page are just some of games that many of our members love (or in the case of The Stanley Parable, one that just tickles me in particular downright pink). We started, going on 7 years ago, as a gang of TF2 players, and even if we don't get together these days as much as we used to to play on our servers, it is lodged deep in our collective heart.

But you can't please everyone. I do try very very hard to please members of the MFC community, but I also aim to please myself. And I fucking love that screenshot.

Honestly I can't even remember where it (or some of the others) came from -- they were just in some of my game images folders when I was redoing the front page -- so I should probably be thinking about replacing them with ones I'm certain were made by me or an MFC member.

But I really do love that screenshot. It captures the lighthearted fun that TF2 is all about, and, for that matter, MFC is all about, too.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:44 PM on November 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


He's poking you, stavros. Don't give it a second thought.
posted by kimberussell at 7:07 AM on November 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


All good. Just struck me as a little odd (and, if I'm honest, moderately annoying, after spending so much time on the redesign overall).
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:22 PM on November 28, 2013


How awesome would it be if the BFG fired cookies?

Biscuit firing glock
Biscotti flinging gun
Blunderbuss for gingerbread
Butter-flour giver

...that's all I got.
posted by FJT at 5:04 PM on November 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Have you seen the rest of the internet? Metafilter is not perfect, but it is not some sort of sinister force for gender segregation.

I dislike all video games, shooters, casual, based-on-boardgames (which I also dislike!), all of 'em. My mom was a Bunko queen, bridge shark and domino lover, she'd probably have been into video games if they existed when she was younger, at least Bejeweled Blitz or something. So I don't think it's a ladyparts (or lady-identification) issue. I just don't like games.

Except for drunken, vicious games of Uno where the point is to punish your opponents with endless rounds of card-drawing. That I love. All the rest can go hang.

I don't swap cookies for the same reason ex-alcoholics don't hang out in bars. I know the limits of my self-control.

I can tell you that on the more technical threads, I sometimes lurk, because I was so intimidated when I was younger by the boys-club geeks at school that there's a lot I never learned much about (computers, higher math). Metafilter is like a chance to eavesdrop on what different kinds of smart people talk about and maybe understand it a tiny bit more. I don't participate because I don't have much to add, but that doesn't mean I'm not paying attention.
posted by emjaybee at 5:41 PM on November 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Do they really come in purple, or is that like a special-order-from-Elvis thing?

My KitchenAid is purple. "Grape", I believe is what they were calling that color. It's pretty awesome.

Back to the topic of the thread...well, I'm confused. None of the noted threads come with signs that say "Boys only!" or "Girls only!"

For my own part, I have not participated in any of the three of them, and that has nothing to do with my gender. John Carmack is tired of working two jobs and has dropped down to one. *yawn* Booooooorrrrrrrriiiiiiiiiing. I have three jobs, myself, so my time is pretty limited, and as a result, I missed the Spelunky thread. Now that I know it's there, I'm going to investigate the game! Cookie thread? Well, no, not this year. Just moved last month, so I'm way behind on holiday prep. Next year, though!

If women aren't participating in a video game thread (for example), I think it's more likely - in the absence of "get your bitch-ass back in the kitchen and make me some pie" type commentary - that it's just not a game or industry person that they are interested in. If men are not participating in a cooking thread - in the absence of "Eeeewwww, boys can't cook! commentary - it's more likely that they either don't have time for that particular thread or just aren't interested.
posted by MissySedai at 9:19 AM on December 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


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