So is this cool? March 5, 2014 2:26 PM   Subscribe

Is it just me? because i'm fairly uncomfortable and annoyed with how this thread has become the "soandso show" of over 1/4 posts by one person...

I mean yea, obviously this is a callout, sorry in advance Sara C., but i think this is bullshit behavior.

Not only are nearly 1/4 of the posts by you, but most of them are double posts or direct back-and-forths where someone replies and you immediately jump right back on them.

You have systematically shouted down anyone who disagrees with you in any way, and just selectively attacked anyone who actually tried to explain why they didn't agree with what you were saying. You basically turned the thread into some boss battle where it's everyone Vs you and you're blasting all comers. It's patronizing and tiresome, and in my very opiniony observation seemed to have killed the thread pretty quickly with the exception of a few people who still wanted to do battle with you.

I mean, yea, i get that the main article of the FPP was pretty inflammatory in the first place. I didn't go in expecting a discussion about photos of knitted snow boots for kittens, but what you created is essentially one of those political TV shows where you interview people and then skewer them.

So yea, is this just me? Does anyone else think that thread played out in a bullshit way?

By the way, i checked the "this could not be resolved by contacting the staff" box because this thread is up to ~130ish comments as of this posting, and there has been no mod comment. Yea, i wasn't going to go through the thread and flag every post because that would have just seemed obsessive. But i assume it's popped up on y'alls radar and you signed off on it...
posted by emptythought to Etiquette/Policy at 2:26 PM (419 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

could you provide links to examples of "systematically shouted down" and "selectively attacked"?

I recommend flagging things that you want to ensure are brought to mod attention, not merely assumed to be so.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 2:30 PM on March 5, 2014


There were very few flags in that thread (none by you) and no one emailed us about it so from a mod perspective we'll certainly keep an eye on it but one person dominating a conversation is only a problem if other people object.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:31 PM on March 5, 2014 [3 favorites]


because this thread is up to ~130ish comments as of this posting, and there has been no mod comment. Yea, i wasn't going to go through the thread and flag every post because that would have just seemed obsessive. But i assume it's popped up on y'alls radar and you signed off on it...

This is kind of neither here nor there on the checking-the-checkbox issue, but to be clear there are lots and lots of threads on the blue in which no mod comments, because there's no general expectation that mods will be commenting in random threads on the blue. There was a small handful of one-off flags on some comments in that thread, nothing systemic, nothing on anything obviously hugely problematic, and we received no email from anyone about it. So there's not really any reason to assume we've given some specific unmentioned-to-us dynamic within it a close and approving look.

It's always a good idea to drop us a line if you think there's something a problematic going on in a thread; flags are great for specific self-contained problems as well, but if what you want to convey is more along the lines "there's an issue in here if you look at these several things together", just straight up contact form explanation is the way to go.

All that aside, what Jess said: someone talking a lot in a thread is more of a situational issue than something inherently problematic. Certainly someone can be way talkative in a thread in a way that is a problem in a how-the-community-receives-it sort of way, but that's more of a "let's talk about this" thing than a basic item-in-the-rulebook thing.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:36 PM on March 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


I actually was really squicked out by how toxic that thread went. And I hate personal call-outs in MeTa, but yes, it was unfortunately mostly the doing of one person being way too vocal and dominant for the space and topic of the thread. I made a comment earlier on in the thread, and I was instantly yelled at by Sara C. for not using the Gloria Anzaldúa quote to focus on the "right issue" - even though my central thesis was the exact same thing that was being pointed out! At that point, I just left the thread because I've had enough of having my views steamrollered over by loud privileged people to last a lifetime already, thank you very much.

And judging by the way the thread went, I'm not the only one who had the same issue. The thread was a parade of dozens of people coming by and giving their perspectives - only to have them shot down one by one by this one person who seemed to think of themselves as the facilitator of the thread, patronizingly telling everyone why their viewpoint was wrong and repeating the exact same arguments over and over again. Even after she was called out multiple times in the thread for privilege - both implicitly, and then later on, explicitly.

For a thread where everyone seemed to want to be on the same page about anti-oppression, it went really weird on a meta-level is what I'll say.
posted by Conspire at 2:40 PM on March 5, 2014 [26 favorites]


While I was trying to figure out how to ask my question, cortex answered it.

It's like that footprints poem about Jesus from the seventies.
posted by winna at 2:41 PM on March 5, 2014 [9 favorites]


You're not alone at all, there are a few people that love to dominate posts in an I AM OBVIOUSLY THE ONE WHO KNOWS EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS TOPIC way, but I'm not sure if there's anything to be done about it from a mod policy POV.
posted by lalex at 2:42 PM on March 5, 2014 [4 favorites]


So yea, is this just me? Does anyone else think that thread played out in a bullshit way?

What, exactly, do you hope to accomplish with this MeTa post?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:43 PM on March 5, 2014 [6 favorites]


I guess if you really want links, some will follow below this paragraph. But is it that hard to see, just quickly skimming the thread that it's basically

"i think it's banana"
"well i think it's more like an apple"
"Well i think it's banana"
"well, it looks more like a pear to me"
"well you're wrong, because it's a banana".

Like it pretty much begins here with a thesis i don't even completely disagree with that by being a major blog it's something mass-market only and should have a wider appeal.

The thing is, a lot of people explain that there are a number of reasons for public spaces, that a lot of 101 level questions are basically "prove to me this is even a thing that exists" and in and of themselves offensive, etc.

...and then she just hammers on it endlessly forever and ever.

Her point is basically that you're obligated to educate people or you're just like worthless noise, and she never wavers no matter how many people try and explain to her why that isn't necessarily true.

People made several valiant attempts to explain why this sort of thing to could have value, and she just never stopped.

on preview: What, exactly, do you hope to accomplish with this MeTa post?

I don't know? i didn't expect a court of the people or anything, i was just hoping that at least a couple people would agree with me that the thread was utterly dominated and driven into the ground? the article was about a lot more than "blogs not educating people on 101 levels of issues" but that's all the comment thread really became, besides an isolated comment here or there that wasn't part of that round table.
posted by emptythought at 2:45 PM on March 5, 2014 [7 favorites]


Jesus, Brandon, maybe the poster wants to know if anyone else thinks the post played out in a bullshit way? IMO this is an appropriate use of a community space to talk about site norms, no need to play hall monitor again.
posted by lalex at 2:46 PM on March 5, 2014 [70 favorites]


I noticed this too, also in this thread. I find it annoying and it sometimes dissuades me from participating in threads I might otherwise participate in. (YMMV)
posted by likeatoaster at 2:48 PM on March 5, 2014 [13 favorites]


Lalex, it is an appropriate question to ask anyone posting to MeTA, no need to play hall monitor again.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:48 PM on March 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


Sorry.
posted by Sara C. at 2:49 PM on March 5, 2014 [25 favorites]


And as for a non-mod response, yeah I thought that conversation clearly wasn't one I wanted to participate in because yeah, it was a lot of "BUT MORE ABOUT MY VIEW ON THIS" but every thread doesn't have to please me personally.

Please shut up about the hall monitor stuff.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:50 PM on March 5, 2014 [7 favorites]


I lurk more than I post, especially on Mefi, but I dislike it when one poster dominates the discussion.

Sara C., I think you make a lot of valuable contributions to the site, but sometimes I do feel like you comment too often, or comment because you want to add something rather than having something to add. This is especially true on AskMe, where I sometimes feel like you're answering for the sake of answering even when you don't really know the answer (I mean questions which have a specific answer, not human relations-type questions).

I just checked the infodumpster stats for this year thus far. The most frequent AskMe commenters is Sara C., with Ruthless Bunny not far behind & everyone else VERY far behind. The most frequent Mefi commenter is also Sara C., with The Whelk not far behind and everyone else fairly far behind. That means that Sara C. is by far the most frequent commenter on the site as a whole. Of course, someone has to be the most frequent, but I think anyone who is at the far high end of the bell curve would do well to think about whether they are in the habit of posting when they don't have much to add.
posted by insectosaurus at 2:51 PM on March 5, 2014 [78 favorites]


By the way, i checked the "this could not be resolved by contacting the staff" box because this thread is up to ~130ish comments as of this posting, and there has been no mod comment. Yea, i wasn't going to go through the thread and flag every post because that would have just seemed obsessive. But i assume it's popped up on y'alls radar and you signed off on it...

It seems to me there are some questionable assumptions underlying this disclaimer and this MeTa. Your default strategy should always be to flag comments you're concerned about (though not necessarily every single one in a thread) and use the contact form if explanation is required or action is not forthcoming. You always have the option of MeTa available to you if you don't get satisfaction out of the first two steps.

I didn't go in expecting a discussion about photos of knitted snow boots for kittens

I am home sick with a cold today and would be very grateful if someone made this post.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 2:51 PM on March 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


I placed a link to this post in the thread.

The last time I did that people got pissed at me. But I think people participating in that thread should be aware that a discussion is taking place here about them -- and especially Sara C., since she is being talked about negatively.
posted by zarq at 2:51 PM on March 5, 2014 [7 favorites]


answering for the sake of answering even when you don't really know the answer

That was not written well. I am uncomfortable saying something that is negative, and I rewrote my comment too many times.

Sara C. - I want to add that I mean this gently, and I do really appreciate many of your contributions, but I also think you could up the quality of your contributions by stopping to think about whether [comment] is really worth posting if you find yourself making multiple comments in a short timeframe.
posted by insectosaurus at 2:54 PM on March 5, 2014 [5 favorites]


Just for total clarification, is there a hard guideline about how much participation is too much?

I don't tend to notice that people say their one comment in a thread and then move on, except for at AskMe, which I do try really hard not to revisit/engage with in a conversational way.

If Metafilter is not for conversation but instead for making your one comment and logging off the site, I will start using it more that way.

I guess I wasn't aware that I was doing anything against the rules or even really unusual.

(In my defense, I absolutely never shouted anyone down in that thread.)
posted by Sara C. at 2:55 PM on March 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


I also think that Sara C. posts way too much and habitually presumes to be an expert on subjects that she clearly isn't. The apology here is a good start.
posted by planetesimal at 2:56 PM on March 5, 2014 [15 favorites]


I think this is starting to turn into a really shitty MeTa callout.
posted by prize bull octorok at 2:57 PM on March 5, 2014 [91 favorites]


I saw that Sara C. posted a lot but it seemed to be a conversation she wanted to have. No issue with that for me.
posted by josher71 at 2:58 PM on March 5, 2014 [4 favorites]


I thought presuming to be an expert on subjects when you clearly aren't was the point of participating in Ask Meftafilter.
posted by COD at 2:58 PM on March 5, 2014 [25 favorites]


I think Sara C. is a fine contributor and while I only rarely read Ask anymore, on the main site I do not find her prolific comments vexing.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 2:59 PM on March 5, 2014 [23 favorites]


Yeah, I wasn't delighted with the way that thread went, either, but I'm not sure I'm on board for the pile-on Sara C. show. Can we maybe turn this into a more-general discussion of how to avoid dominating threads, since I think that's a problem that several of us, me included, have run into in the past?
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 2:59 PM on March 5, 2014 [26 favorites]


Just for total clarification, is there a hard guideline about how much participation is too much?

There is not a hard guideline, see above. Though for what it's worth I do feel like you have a strong tendency to comment a lot in a lot of threads, which isn't by itself a problem but is worth sort of thinking about just to check in with yourself about whether making a bunch of comments in threads x is about e.g. having something really specific to add to that thread that other people can't cover or more of an "I'm bored and here is where I am" sort of thing.

I think it's really easy for talkative folks (of which I can be one) to just sort of habitually set up shop sometimes in a way that can turn other folks off or make them feel crowded out. Definitely something worth being personally mindful about.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:00 PM on March 5, 2014 [16 favorites]


Just for total clarification, is there a hard guideline about how much participation is too much?

No, and no one is saying that. This is a shitty response to what was brought up here. Because it's either snark, or rules lawyering.

I think we can examine dominating threads, as ArbitraryAndCapricious said, without turning this in to some kind of "am i breaking a hard and fast rule? because i don't feel like i was doing anything wrong"
posted by emptythought at 3:00 PM on March 5, 2014 [5 favorites]


i was just hoping that at least a couple people would agree with me that the thread was utterly dominated and driven into the ground?

For whatever it's worth, yeah, I totally agree about that thread, and also that this dynamic in general bugs me and I feel it could use a little more mod course-correction/gentle reminding occasionally. Heavy commenting isn't a problem by itself, sure, but it turns into discussion-destructive threadsitting at the point when the conversation becomes all about one person's comments and views against all comers (or responding to every new thing anyone says, or repeating their arguments more than once). I do try to flag comments as "noise" or "other" at the point when it seems like threads are veering into this kind of hyperresponsive, threadsitting territory.
posted by RogerB at 3:01 PM on March 5, 2014 [6 favorites]


i didn't expect a court of the people or anything, i was just hoping that at least a couple people would agree with me that the thread was utterly dominated and driven into the ground?

Cool, but contacting the person directly might be a more direct and quicker method, just a thought.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:03 PM on March 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


Sara C.: "Just for total clarification, is there a hard guideline about how much participation is too much?"

No, of course not. There are very few "hard" guidelines on Metafilter.

The general guideline is, you're not supposed to threadsit.

I haven't read every comment in the thread yet. But I don't think you were particularly out of line. I do think you made a lot more comments than anyone else, which is something I personally try to be aware of. I have been guilty of it before and probably will be again. From personal experience, if you find yourself making many, many comments in a thread and find yourself taking on all comers, it's probably a good idea to stop, take a breath and think about whether you're sucking all the air out of the room.

This is admittedly not easy. I have a hard time being aware of it myself, so I'm usually sympathetic when it happens to others.

The greasemonkey script MeFi Navigator, indicates how many comments a person has made in a given thread. I've found it helpful in determining when I should be taking a break from a thread. If there are 100 comments in a thread and I find I've made 25 of them, then I probably should just walk away and let the thread breathe.

---
To everyone else.... please consider that attacking people only generates terrible feelings and rarely gets anything accomplished other than forcing people out the door. If someone is doing something that bothers you, you might consider how you want to discuss it with them. Accusations or a helpful conversation?
posted by zarq at 3:04 PM on March 5, 2014 [34 favorites]


Because it's either snark, or rules lawyering.

Chill. I know you came to this thread a bit pre-peeved but this is where Sara C should be asking questions and unless you think this is some sort of bad faith gambit, it would be nice to allow this conversation to happen here.

Just for total clarification, is there a hard guideline about how much participation is too much?

Not at all, we just expect people to self regulate and most of the time most people manage to do it. And a lot of times people don't do it but the topic isn't really that contentious and so one person talks a lot and it doesn't bother anyone and so it's fine. But sometimes people start riffing (usually it's two people who get into a more personal-sounding discussion) and then the thread starts to be all about that person or people and their opinion on the topic. So we try to gently discourage what we refer to as either a "take on all comers" approach or a "two people wrestling with each other" approach to MeFi threads.

My personal approach is usually three comments and I'm out most times, at least for the day anyhow, and make sure I'm engaging with the thread, not just showing up and saying "Well *I* think..." and encouraging people to interact with me and especially doubling down if what I want to talk about isn't getting any traction.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:04 PM on March 5, 2014 [9 favorites]


Oh and to be perfectly clear here, while i used that thread and your posts in it as an example Sara, you are by far not the only person on here who does this regardless of statistics of who posts the most or whatever.

This would definitely be a more productive thread if we discussed this happening in a greater sense, in multiple threads. This should not just be about your behavior in that one thread(although i'll admit i did chortle when someone linked another thread i hadn't seen where the same thing happened...)

unless you think this is some sort of bad faith gambit

I guess it maybe did? It vaguely struck me as something along the lines of someone going "why did you eat almost all the cookies? there's only like two left!" and then that person responding "Oh, so am i not allowed to eat any of the cookies?". It's like, no, you know exactly what's up here.

But who knows, maybe i just read too much into it. It did strike me as a little flip though.
posted by emptythought at 3:07 PM on March 5, 2014 [3 favorites]


For what it's worth, I saw the way the thread referenced in the OP was going and thought it was a huge mess, but it didn't occur to me to tell anyone about it.
posted by winna at 3:09 PM on March 5, 2014 [4 favorites]


Can we maybe turn this into a more-general discussion of how to avoid dominating threads, since I think that's a problem that several of us, me included, have run into in the past?

I would like this too -- there's a really good groove that happens in threads sometimes where a bunch of people are all interested and post quite a bit without anyone becoming overly dominant or frequent . . . and then there's the problematic thing that happens when one or a few people sort of hover over the proceedings and suck all the air out. I would like to do the former and not the latter.
posted by FelliniBlank at 3:11 PM on March 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


Thanks, zarq. That clarifies a lot.

I'm not much of a greasemonkey person, but even if I don't use that, I think I'm going to try to be more mindful in the future about how much I'm commenting in a given thread.

I'm also trying to be more mindful of showing up in a thread, having a particular take on the subject matter, and getting frustrated when everyone else wants to talk about some tangential thing rather than what the FPP actually is. That's sort of how I got carried away with the FPP this MetaTalk refers to. I was super into talking about the subject of the post, not mean internet trolls, and when everybody else wanted to talk about mean internet trolls I got irritated rather than just ceding that nobody wanted to talk about the really interesting thing.
posted by Sara C. at 3:12 PM on March 5, 2014 [10 favorites]


There's some really odd public shaming of Sara C. in this thread, and I have to admit I find it uncomfortable.
posted by aspo at 3:13 PM on March 5, 2014 [71 favorites]


I've got no problem with Sara C.'s contributions (and this is from someone who has been reasonably called out by a mod for too-frequent posting on MetaTalk). There's a whole range of subjects e.g. Kevin Pietersen being dropped by England, the Sega Dreamcast, how Birmingham City Council spends money, librarian stereotypes, information security in the NHS, where I know I'd be dropping in lots of comments, discussing and possibly, no, probably, arguing. It is how it is.

The sheer range of posts every day, plus hours in the day, typing speeds etc means it's impossible for a person to "dominate" lots of said posts at the same time anyway. Also, a few of the comments in this MetaTalk are feeling uncomfortably borderline "mob against the individual". Heavens, this is MetaFilter, not Twitter. Therefore...

I didn't go in expecting a discussion about photos of knitted snow boots for kittens.

On it.
posted by Wordshore at 3:14 PM on March 5, 2014 [8 favorites]


"why did you eat almost all the cookies? there's only like two left!"

But the thing is, on metafilter there is no set number of cookies. It's not like threads get closed after 100 comments, and if I make 10, that's 10 people who didn't get to participate. I'm not arguing that I should get to dominate conversations, of course. But we're not talking about a finite resource here.

So it is worth asking whether there's a point that someone can be hogging/dominating/ruining it for everyone else. I'm not arguing that my behavior was correct -- the consensus seems to be that dominating a conversation is rude, and I agree -- just... there've been plenty of threads where I really had something to say, but I didn't for whatever reason and didn't feel like the people participating were eating all my cookies. There's plenty of conversation to go around here.

FWIW I like jessamyn's "three and bounce" idea.
posted by Sara C. at 3:16 PM on March 5, 2014 [4 favorites]


I was a participant in that thread that maybe should've contributed less too. Felt weird about it, especially since the subject matter was at least partly about marginal voices and substantive content. I would've liked to have heard a greater variety of those marginal voices and learn from their viewpoints.

I think there's an interesting discussion to have about this kind of thing (leaving aside the callout-y stuff.) I suspect we all have our own internal barometer for this, but I know it's something I've tried to be conscious of since I first started posting. I generally give myself a limit of around half a dozen comments total before I decide that I'm crowding out voices that otherwise would feel compelled to share their viewpoints. Even if there's an argument addressed particularly towards me, I try to limit my responses. Another thing to consider is giving both myself and the thread some breathing room. I feel my comments have more impact (to the extent they have any impact) when they're stated succinctly in a few paragraphs, not scattered everywhere. And I often need to let myself become removed from discussions before I get frustrated or say dumb things. So that's just where I'm at, and I'm probably guilty of violating all of that sometimes.
posted by naju at 3:22 PM on March 5, 2014 [6 favorites]

I'm also trying to be more mindful of showing up in a thread, having a particular take on the subject matter, and getting frustrated when everyone else wants to talk about some tangential thing rather than what the FPP actually is.
I think that part of the reason that I was kind of irked at your posts on that thread, Sara C., is that I actually didn't think that what you were posting about had a whole lot to do with the linked article. I think we may just have read the article differently, but I sort of felt like you had a particular hangup about the obligation of bloggers to answer 101 questions, and you were projecting it onto an article that wasn't really about that. I read the linked article as being about how bloggers participate in call-outs, rather than deep analysis, because call-outs feel good but don't challenge capitalism, and challenging capitalism would threaten their ability to monetize their outrage. I think that's a fairly provocative thesis, and it would have been cool to discuss that, but instead we kept coming back to whether bloggers are obligated to answer 101 questions. So to me, the issue wasn't just the volume of your posts, but also that it felt like your posts were enforcing a derail even when people tried to bring the conversation back to the original article. And when I've done a similar thread-domination thing, I think it's often been because the links kind of touched a related-but-not-totally-relevant nerve that I then wanted to put out there.

But like I said, that might just be a matter of how we read the linked article.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 3:26 PM on March 5, 2014 [16 favorites]


marginal voices

Er, marginalized voices, I mean.
posted by naju at 3:27 PM on March 5, 2014


Sara C.: "I'm also trying to be more mindful of showing up in a thread, having a particular take on the subject matter, and getting frustrated when everyone else wants to talk about some tangential thing rather than what the FPP actually is. That's sort of how I got carried away with the FPP this MetaTalk refers to. I was super into talking about the subject of the post, not mean internet trolls, and when everybody else wanted to talk about mean internet trolls I got irritated rather than just ceding that nobody wanted to talk about the really interesting thing."

The "I'M EXCITED ABOUT THIS! WHY AREN'T YOU ALL AS EXCITED AS ME AND TALKING ABOUT IT?!" phenomenon. :D

That happens to me a LOT. Especially when I create a post on a topic I find really interesting but the thread diverges in a different direction than I was expecting.

I'm learning self control. ;)
posted by zarq at 3:28 PM on March 5, 2014 [9 favorites]


I see it as less of an issue of frequency as it is commenting style. When you're personally responding to and picking apart every comment as if it were directed at you, and trying to guide and facilitate discussions to your hobby horse, that's an issue. Especially if the context is a FPP about marginalized voices, some people aren't going to want to share values and experiences stemming from marginalization if it's more or less guaranteed that it's going to be rebutted from every angle, picked apart, shredded and held up as an example of "wrongness". Even if it's done in a calm tone. That's hurtful - and that's why I left the topic.
posted by Conspire at 3:30 PM on March 5, 2014 [49 favorites]


Her point is basically that you're obligated to educate people or you're just like worthless noise, and she never wavers no matter how many people try and explain to her why that isn't necessarily true.

People made several valiant attempts to explain why this sort of thing to could have value, and she just never stopped.


Well, is the problem that she never stopped talking, or that she never started agreeing with the other posters?

Dominating a thread a shitty thing to do, people should try and be aware of that possibility and pull back, for sure. But I don't think it's wrong or rude to stick to your original opinion even when several people have offered opposing views. To me, that's tantamount to saying that majority opinion deserves absolute respect. Perhaps the best practice in such a situation would be to offer a blanket, "I hear and understand points A,b and C but to me I think Q is still the most important thing, and now I'll bow out." But that can be a little tricky when people keep engaging and trying to convert you out of q-ism.
posted by Diablevert at 3:32 PM on March 5, 2014 [17 favorites]


I'm also trying to be more mindful of showing up in a thread, having a particular take on the subject matter, and getting frustrated when everyone else wants to talk about some tangential thing rather than what the FPP actually is. That's sort of how I got carried away with the FPP this MetaTalk refers to. I was super into talking about the subject of the post, not mean internet trolls, and when everybody else wanted to talk about mean internet trolls I got irritated rather than just ceding that nobody wanted to talk about the really interesting thing.

The thing is, the article in the linked post was just as much about both of those things. It was talking just as much about "internet trolls" who post outragebait on tumblr as it was shaming major blogs for posting nothing but "this is a bad thing" posts.

the entire "large blogs should be required to post 101 level intros faqs or something like that" thing was a derail, and was a tangential aside from the article.

The most moderate opinion i could possibly have on this is that both points are equally on topic. but if you really want to present it as "this is a derail and this on the other hand isn't" then well, i don't know if i can buy that. and at the very least, it seemed other people weren't buying what you were selling.

Well, is the problem that she never stopped talking, or that she never started agreeing with the other posters?

The former. I don't expect people to agree with the majority of whatever, but posting 30 times to go "but my opinion!" becomes threadshitting.
posted by emptythought at 3:35 PM on March 5, 2014 [4 favorites]


I'd also like to note that what Conspire just posted is a much more coherently written version of the thoughts that motivated me to make this post.
posted by emptythought at 3:36 PM on March 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


Sara C., I think the issue of trolls being mean by asking 101-type questions in bad faith is central to the topic of the FPP. If you were trying to steer it away from that topic, which you saw as a tangent, it's possible a lot of other people interpreted you doing so as an attempt to shout down and dismiss a piece of evidence that happened to undercut your thesis that bloggers have a responsibility to answer those questions.

I, for one, stepped away from the thread when it became clear you wanted to express your point about responsibility to educate in very black-and-white terms on both the topic dimension (social-justice-oriented versus general interest oriented) and the professionalism dimension (whether the blog is profitable or more of a labor of love) when in actuality there are shades of gray in between.
posted by tonycpsu at 3:36 PM on March 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


Especially if the context is a FPP about marginalized voices

I find this a really problematic framing of the thread in question, since the FPP wasn't a "let's talk about a time we felt marginalized" kind of thing at all. It was a metaconversation about the effect of SEO and content farming on the social justice internet.

Which I think is a conversation anyone can participate in.

I also think it's exceedingly fucked up for any of us to decide who can and cannot participate in threads about social justice based on some arbitrary idea about who is or is not "marginalized".

Every time there's a thread about social justice or identity issues, I discover that some mefite I thought was a cis-het white dude is actually not. I've definitely caught myself in traps assuming that someone participating in a thread was doing so in a white-knight cookie-begging Good Liberal sense, when it turned out that they were speaking from their own experience as a member of a marginalized group. This makes turning metafilter into some kind of oppression olympics extremely problematic.
posted by Sara C. at 3:38 PM on March 5, 2014 [6 favorites]


I'm seeing really mixed messages above. If thisn't about volume, then the call-out seems much less warranted. She shouldn't have to stop posting just because others disagree with her about the underlying article.
posted by Area Man at 3:39 PM on March 5, 2014 [9 favorites]


But I don't think it's wrong or rude to stick to your original opinion even when several people have offered opposing views.

In most cases, I agree with this (I think). But in this case, where the opinion seems to be that marginalized bloggers are obligated interact with their readership in a specific way (willingness to do 101-level discussions regardless of the overall sophistication level of the blog), it's not so great. It's certainly why I stepped out of that thread.
posted by dorque at 3:39 PM on March 5, 2014 [3 favorites]


I think if you are participating heavily on a site, especially on many contentious topics, it should not be surprising that people have opinions about your participation and air them. I don't see that as shaming.
We could all use a reminder to be sure your AskMe answer is not just repeating what has already been said unless it is a one line agreement.
When I notice that someone is excessively commenting and seems to be arguing with the majority of posters, I will often flag it and usually not return to the thread unless it is hugely important to me.
posted by soelo at 3:40 PM on March 5, 2014 [4 favorites]


emptythought, I think it's in extremely poor form to call someone out on MetaTalk because you disagree with their opinion on the Blue.
posted by Sara C. at 3:40 PM on March 5, 2014 [5 favorites]


I find this a really problematic framing of the thread in question, since the FPP wasn't a "let's talk about a time we felt marginalized" kind of thing at all.

oh, dear
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 3:43 PM on March 5, 2014 [11 favorites]


This makes turning metafilter into some kind of oppression olympics extremely problematic.

I honestly don't see why my requests for a little more respect for people's values suddenly went to the deep end of "oppression olympics". Would it make you feel better if I framed it without talking about marginalization? The gist of my discontention is basically, it's very barring (and not to mention, arrogant) for one poster to set themselves up as the arbiter and judge of everyone's beliefs.

You're absolutely free to participate, and there's no self-branded police force out there making you participate in the "right" ways. But there's participating as an equal voice, and there's setting yourself up as a metaphorical border agency who everyone has to subject their opinions to for approval.
posted by Conspire at 3:45 PM on March 5, 2014 [34 favorites]


This makes turning metafilter into some kind of oppression olympics extremely problematic.

The face peels away, revealing the face beneath.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 3:48 PM on March 5, 2014 [10 favorites]


The problem isn't disagreement. The problem is slightly rephrased versions of the same comment over, and over, and over. And over.
posted by winna at 3:49 PM on March 5, 2014 [54 favorites]


This makes turning metafilter into some kind of oppression olympics extremely problematic.

This is really not where I would choose to take this thread, if I were you, or if I were anyone honestly.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:49 PM on March 5, 2014 [37 favorites]


emptythought, I think it's in extremely poor form to call someone out on MetaTalk because you disagree with their opinion on the Blue.

My impression from this is that emptythought is talking about your particular combative style, which is evident in threads other than this one.
posted by lalex at 3:50 PM on March 5, 2014 [15 favorites]


I honestly don't see why my requests for a little more respect for people's values suddenly went to the deep end of "oppression olympics".

Because you don't know what every mefite's identity is.

Nobody does.

Furthermore, there is no person at Metafilter who is charged with judging which participants in a thread are marginalized enough to be engaging with it.

I mean, does everyone have to submit a statement of identity, and then one of the mods makes a list of specific posters who are allowed to comment on a given FPP?

I am really enjoying the shit out of the #ItooamHarvard FPP right now, but I'm not participating, because I'm not black, didn't attend an elite university, and don't really have anything meaningful to contribute.

But an FPP about viral content and the social justice movement? How do we draw the line about who is marginalized enough to participate? The social justice movement belongs to me, a bi woman, just as much as it belongs to a black man or a trans person or a deaf Asian.
posted by Sara C. at 3:50 PM on March 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


emptythought, I think it's in extremely poor form to call someone out on MetaTalk because you disagree with their opinion on the Blue.

if that is really your reading of my opinion or why i posted this then i don't think we'll ever have any kind of understanding or consensus, but i don't think painting my callout as that serves to do anything but demonize me as an asshole.

the primary issue here isn't that i disagree with you, it's that you felt the need to make 1/4 worth of the posts in a thread to champion your point.

if you really want to turn taking issue with your participation style in to taking issue with your content and opinions though, i'm here all day if other people want to call me an asshole too. i'm used to it.
posted by emptythought at 3:50 PM on March 5, 2014 [8 favorites]


As a parsimonious poster, I'd like to say that I read threads like this all the time and almost never think "gosh, I wish so-and-so would post less because they dominate the discussion". It literally takes me fifteen or twenty seconds to read a Sara C. post.

This thread was no different. I don't mean to say this as a repudiation of emptythought's concern, but as someone who was reading but not participating in that thread, I am completely failing to feel offended by this.

HOWEVER. As someone coming to this site as a reader more than a poster, I would like to (very selfishly) say that the comments I enjoy reading are almost never two to five single-sentence paragraphs separated by line breaks. Spend a little time developing your thoughts, people! Do it for me, if not for yourself.
posted by pullayup at 3:50 PM on March 5, 2014 [8 favorites]


Sara C.: "emptythought, I think it's in extremely poor form to call someone out on MetaTalk because you disagree with their opinion on the Blue."

That's not what this post is about.

The post specifically discusses your behavior in the thread.

emptythought followed up here with additional clarifications of issues he has with the way you were commenting and clearly says that the issue is not that you disagree.
posted by zarq at 3:51 PM on March 5, 2014 [7 favorites]


pullayup: "the comments I enjoy reading are almost never two to five single-sentence paragraphs separated by line breaks."

Followed directly by a comment consisting of one sentence paragraphs separated by line breaks. Sorry.
posted by zarq at 3:53 PM on March 5, 2014 [3 favorites]


I'm going to go out a limb and suggest that emptythought would have had zero issues with Sara C's commenting frequency if they had agreed with what she had to say.
posted by aspo at 3:53 PM on March 5, 2014 [8 favorites]


Because you don't know what every mefite's identity is.

But saying, "let's be careful not to discredit people's values, especially noting if it's a sensitive topic" isn't even contingent on identity. I don't care what identity you hail from, it's still in very poor taste to behave in the way you behaved. And on the receiving side while it's an equally shitty thing to do to anyone regardless of identity, I don't think it's oppression olympics to note that it's going to disproportionately impact voices that are already subject to a great deal of silencing and bullying tactics already.
posted by Conspire at 3:54 PM on March 5, 2014 [4 favorites]


Sara C., I genuinely think you are reading things into this thread that people don't intend. I just skimmed over it again, and I don't see anyone telling you you are barred from social justice threads, just that your participation style was off-putting. I'm just some dude and you obviously have no obligation to listen to me, but take a breather maybe?
posted by dorque at 3:54 PM on March 5, 2014 [4 favorites]


As a positive example, I'd like to hold up Frowner as someone who pretty much always delivers something smart, thoughtful and written in beautifully-formed paragraphs.
posted by pullayup at 3:54 PM on March 5, 2014 [37 favorites]


In most cases, I agree with this (I think). But in this case, where the opinion seems to be that marginalized bloggers are obligated interact with their readership in a specific way (willingness to do 101-level discussions regardless of the overall sophistication level of the blog), it's not so great. It's certainly why I stepped out of that thread.

Word. Yeah, that's an especially fraught topic, so I think I'm going to follow my own advice here and bow out.
posted by Diablevert at 3:56 PM on March 5, 2014


I have a feeling that for as long as this thread remains open, Sara's going to get the opportunity to experience all kinds of silencing and bullying tactics firsthand!
posted by prize bull octorok at 3:56 PM on March 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


But saying, "let's be careful not to discredit people's values, especially noting if it's a sensitive topic" isn't even contingent on identity. I don't care what identity you hail from, it's still in very poor taste to behave in the way you behaved.

I think Sara C can be forgiven for her interpretation when your first comment in this thread contained

At that point, I just left the thread because I've had enough of having my views steamrollered over by loud privileged people to last a lifetime already, thank you very much.


Which did bring identity into it.
posted by Reggie Knoble at 3:58 PM on March 5, 2014 [5 favorites]


I'm going to go out a limb and suggest that emptythought would have had zero issues with Sara C's commenting frequency if they had agreed with what she had to say.

I think this is really unfair and tangential, and is once again like political talkshow catch 22 bs.

i could find example of where i agreed with someone, but they had completely steamrolled the thread and it was still annoying to read and my general thought was usually "Great suchandsuch, now you're going to make people groan whenever i or someone else brings up the same point you just did because they'll remember you jackhammering them here. way to preload assumptions about people making XYZ point that matches my opinions".

Just because i agree with someone doesn't mean i'll automatically have a different opinion about their participation style. Not to mention that this sort of grey area almost bullying behavior is shitty no matter what the person is saying, and is recognizable to people who have participated in many discussions about these sort of topics.
posted by emptythought at 4:02 PM on March 5, 2014 [15 favorites]


let's be careful not to discredit people's values

I guess I just don't get what a phrase like this even means.

What is "discrediting people's values"?

Is it disagreeing with them?

Is it thinking that best practices are to do Thing A even though many people choose to do Thing B?

Is it criticism?
posted by Sara C. at 4:03 PM on March 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


I am kind of not thrilled to see this here. I have been Sara C on other forums. I am aware of others like me who are capable of dominating a conversation. I have been more aware of this in chat than on the site, in part because I spend more time in chat then on the site here lately. But some things that can underlie "talking too much" on a site:

1) High typing speed. I don't type super fast but I guess I type faster than a lot of people (maybe 65wpm at my best). In the past in one-on-one chat, I have found that the fact that I typed faster than a lot of other people caused me to inadvertently dominate the convo. Having a high typing speed can make someone seem pushy online. It can also foster foot-in-mouth disease because it makes it easy to say everything that pops into your head without first thinking it through, so such folks sometimes read as if they have no filter.

2) Being well read/deeply familiar with a topic/having deep interest or broad interest. Some folks just know a lot about a lot of things. They aren't necessarily trying to be "know it alls." They may be genuinely trying to share with enthusiasm about a topic of interest and excited to find others who want to talk.

3) Coming from a chatty culture. Some people think I talk "too much." Other people think I talk "normal amounts." In my family of origin, no, I don't talk too much. I also get routinely drowned out in conversations with my older son, who handily dominates our conversations. I am usually fine with his talkative nature. I let him know if he is being unusually grating or if, for some reason, my tolerance is lower than usual.

4) Time on your hands or other availability. I have seen people do this for short periods while unemployed. I have seen homemakers (and been a homemaker) who were prone to this. I have seen people who are self employed do this because they are their own boss and thus no one is limiting what they do online during normal working hours.

I don't think I have a reputation for this here in part because I was on an Android until recently and that significantly hampered my typing speed. For me, that was an interesting lesson. I currently run several websites and I try to channel my time, energy and chattiness into them first. That is naturally limiting how much I post here and elsewhere. (Nevertheless, Hacker News sometimes nicely tells me "You are posting too fast. Please slow down." and doesn't let my post go through.)

I am sorry to see the way this call-out was handled. I have long joked about being The Poster Child for Excessive Long-windedness in multiple forums. I have often been attacked for it and, in some cases, changed the forum culture for the better by making the forum more tolerant of real conversation and of long-winded posts, which aren't necessarily inherently bad. ((((hugs))))) for Sara is she wants them. It could have easily been me. I just like talking with people and that sometimes gets interpreted as "fighty" or "attention mongering" or something, which tends to make me feel blindsided.
posted by Michele in California at 4:08 PM on March 5, 2014 [24 favorites]

let's be careful not to discredit people's values

I guess I just don't get what a phrase like this even means.

What is "discrediting people's values"?
My guess is that it basically means "acting as if other people do not have the right to their opinions".
Is it disagreeing with them?

Is it thinking that best practices are to do Thing A even though many people choose to do Thing B?

Is it criticism?
I don't think so.
posted by dfan at 4:09 PM on March 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


emptythought: Except you didn't call those people out publicly and let everyone know that you think what they are doing is "bullshit." (And you've made it clear above that not only were you upset about Sara's frequency of response, you were upset that she was wrong.)
posted by aspo at 4:12 PM on March 5, 2014 [5 favorites]


Sara.C, I had a look at the thread and then a look at your posting history, and you are unusually prolific.

If you genuinely do intend to be more mindful of your posting frequency in the future, it might help to remember that once you've written your opinion down, it stays on the page. People will read through the thread and absorb your message. Some of your commenting feels like you are broadcasting a station identification, you know, "for those who have just joined us"

No one is saying you have to comment once and log off, but consider whether you are repeating yourself.

I'd like to add that I don't have an opinion on whose views were 'right' or wrong' in that thread, so this isn't personal.
posted by Catch at 4:25 PM on March 5, 2014 [9 favorites]


I've noticed your activity in other threads, and just chalked it up to new user who is really excited and wants to share. It's inevitable, however, that a new very prolific user will appear highly visible to other users also, and then voila, we end up in Metatalk.

Advice: The sorry was good. Chalk it up and move on. No good will come of fighting this here.
posted by Big_B at 4:30 PM on March 5, 2014 [4 favorites]


Well, it's definitely not about disagreement, because Sara C. totally agreed with me in her response to my quote here. But she did it in a way that characterized my entire comment as "propping up outragefilter", and then rephrased my transitional thesis as a zingy one-liner while making it look like I actually disagreed with her or didn't acknowledge these points in the first place.

So I mean, there was nothing for me to rebutt because hey, I was in total agreement! Doesn't mean the commenting style didn't put me off.
posted by Conspire at 4:36 PM on March 5, 2014 [12 favorites]


I'd just like to say that Sara C. is a hoopy frood who knows where her towel is. She's a frequent contributor who generally has something worth saying to say. Here, she's responding to criticism not with snark but with good-faith questions about how she could improve.

Let's remember as we debate site standards that we're talking about a real person who's one of us.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 4:38 PM on March 5, 2014 [23 favorites]


I mean yea, obviously this is a callout, sorry in advance Sara C., but i think this is bullshit behavior.

I disagree. I think it's bullshit behavior to throw up this thread. I only say this because as I was reading this thread, I was thinking 'oh snaps, I'm glad someone who knows what they are talking about is talking on this thread'.

OP, don't hate the Sara, hate the game.
posted by hal_c_on at 4:38 PM on March 5, 2014 [6 favorites]


It's not like threads get closed after 100 comments, and if I make 10, that's 10 people who didn't get to participate. I'm not arguing that I should get to dominate conversations, of course. But we're not talking about a finite resource here.

Of course, in absolute terms, people can keep commenting until the post's time runs out. But unthreaded comments—one of the defining aspects of MeFi—means that people often treat only the most recent comments as active. Older comments are less likely to be responded to, and the direction of the conversation is usually determined by the most recent comments. So when someone comments repeatedly in one thread, it has the effect of knocking other people's comments off the top of the conversational stack, as it were. Since it's not a finite resource, they could always go back in and repeat their point also but many people don't want to do that and I don't think doing so would really improve the conversation here.

I don't think it's necessary to have a "three and done" guideline, but when I find myself making multiple comments on the same point, I try to think:
  1. Am I really saying something new here or am I just repeating my argument?
  2. If I don't make this point is someone else likely to? If they are, then maybe I should just let them do that. If they aren't then maybe I should keep posting, but I should carefully consider question 1 again.
Often this analysis leads to me abandoning the comment rather than posting it. Sometimes I will instead write an email to a like-minded friend about how Someone is Wrong on the Internet. Chatting about that with someone who gets it can sometimes be much more fun for me than writing yet another comment, and it leaves more oxygen for everyone else.
posted by grouse at 4:53 PM on March 5, 2014 [29 favorites]


I try to be as nonjudgmental possible about the style and frequency of comments and even off-topic wanderings because I have no idea what people are doing IRL. People could be posting while semi-supervising teens who are preparing the family dinner with knives and a hot stove and a casual attitude towards food safety.

Maybe I'm doing it wrong.

If we're at a party, and you dribble a little mojito on your sleeve, I might hand you a napkin but I wouldn't tell anyone else.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 4:59 PM on March 5, 2014 [6 favorites]


This could be solved if Metafilter moved to a threaded protocol, served via NNTP.

(hamburger?)
posted by Justinian at 5:11 PM on March 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


Holy shit, I read all of this thread.

1. Sara C is a prolific poster. I know that not because I see her name all sorts of places, it's because I see her shit getting favorited hard.

2. I read a lot of that thread in question. It was annoying because it was basically one side commenting, then the other side commenting. And people kept making metaphors, and calculus and college and 400 level and 100 level.

3. I was kinda on Sara C's side...and I appreciated her comments which put others' comments (especially about the 400 level calculus bullshit) into perspective.

4. At the end of my tolerance for that thread, I decided that I liked Sara C...and I also liked Brandon Blatcher. 'Clickbait'. Nice.

5. I thought this callout was mean when I read it. Kinda malicious if seen from a certain perspective.

6. I read this thread, and I thought:

A. Why is Brandon Blatcher always saying that on meta? But it's cool, I appreciate the contrarian.
B. People are being shitty assholes. But what's new on this site? Someone posts their shitty opinion about a person's commenting, then all the cowards show up slamming her and taking a simple 'sorry' from her as a reason to chastise her even more.
C. Worse than someone commenting 'too much' is this pile-on culture on metafilter. Someone else is throwing stones, so I should to. Stay classy, mefites. As long as you don't comment too much.
D. Good points by Sara C. In the end, it seems as if she's saying "ok, cool. If u don't appreciate contributions, then I won't contribute". There is agreement. Great.
E. But in the end, will metafilter be a better place because Sara C. comments less?

I think not.
posted by hal_c_on at 5:11 PM on March 5, 2014 [16 favorites]


I didn't feel the need to contribute to that thread because many of the things I might have said were being capably stated by Sara C. Now I'm wondering if this call-out would have occurred if there had been more than one person advocating for the positions Sara C. was. Sure, she posted a lot of the same stuff. She was responding to the same stuff, just from different people.

But I'll completely admit that I didn't mind it because I agreed with her. In other threads where someone is posting a lot of what I don't necessarily agree with, or even stuff I can agree with but I think is being stated poorly, I'll definitely notice, and bristle, at it. Hell, I'd reckon I've had that exact reaction to Sara C. before.

It's hard to try and expand this out into a call-out of threadsitting behaviour when only one person in one thread is mentioned; last time I remember this happening (even with an above-the-fold concern expanded inside, which didn't happen here) that it mentioned one person in one thread made it hard to be seen as anything other than a personal call-out of another user.

If you're trying to call out a behaviour, use more than one example from more than one thread. If you're going to say it's not because you disagree, then use examples from threads where you agree with a poster who is still taking on all comers. If you're calling out one person, at least stick with it, rather than trying to broaden the brush later when it's pointed out you're only citing one instance for something you're claiming is a sitewide issue.
posted by gadge emeritus at 5:17 PM on March 5, 2014 [3 favorites]


Laying out a bunch of numbered statements does not mean that you are actually dropping truthbombs.
posted by planetesimal at 5:23 PM on March 5, 2014 [38 favorites]


Sure, she posted a lot of the same stuff. She was responding to the same stuff, just from different people.

Is this really what was going on? I mean, I commented four or five times in that thread (I think) and I honestly have no idea what's going on any more. Not in a "I haven't read it in a while" way, but in a "People are disagreeing and I have no idea what about and some of these comments seem like non sequiturs wandering in from a totally different discussion" way. (Admittedly, one of the comments that is arguably a non sequitur came from me.)
posted by hoyland at 5:24 PM on March 5, 2014


So it's fine and good for a mod to tell people to "shut up about..."

That's professional and respectful?
posted by ambient2 at 5:47 PM on March 5, 2014


Telling the same old MeTa regulars to not get into the same old argument and prefacing it with "please" which you somehow elided? My opinion is that it's fine and good, yes. Feel free to get other opinions.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:49 PM on March 5, 2014 [16 favorites]


Oh, as the person who jessamyn told to shut up, I don't mind at all.
posted by lalex at 5:49 PM on March 5, 2014 [17 favorites]


Sara C.: "So it is worth asking whether there's a point that someone can be hogging/dominating/ruining it for everyone else."

I would say that yes, this tipping-point does exist.

aspo: "I'm going to go out a limb and suggest that emptythought would have had zero issues with Sara C's commenting frequency if they had agreed with what she had to say."

But other MeFites noted straightforwardly that they have issues with the frequency and attitude despite not disagreeing.
posted by desuetude at 5:51 PM on March 5, 2014 [6 favorites]


I do think :taking on all comers" is a real danger when you are in a fast-moving thread with high tempers. I tend to post in bursts, since that's how my life works, but I make a real effort to read all the comments and a) not throw in my two cents if someone else has made the point I was going for and b) respond to (my understanding of) peoples' points in a single comment. A related problem is when I find myself explaining an earlier comment more than about twice, it's time to close down that part of my argument, since it's not getting heard (for whatever reason).

Not too thrilled about the Sara C. call out (I generally like her contributions (even when she has the bad taste to disagree with me) and I haven't felt she was commenting excessively, but I have to say that the thread in question was a mess. I went in, read the first couple dozen comments and backed out slowly. Yeesh.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:53 PM on March 5, 2014 [4 favorites]


There was a period of time when I would post substantively the same comment in a thread, several times, because I felt like if people only understood me, then they'd agree with me.

I took some time away and I feel like I'm getting a lot better and expressing myself and then refraining from trying to hold the hill or whatever. I try not to repeat myself or rephrase myself even when people don't appear to understand or agree with me.
posted by muddgirl at 6:05 PM on March 5, 2014 [28 favorites]


Sara C., you do have a tendency to argue back with people who disagree with your point as if they misunderstand your point, and if you just re-explain it better, they'll get on board with you. I notice this because it is my constant impulse and I am always having to take a deep breath and remind myself not to overexplain if I have not actually been misunderstood.

(True story: I'm campaigning right now, and I was at a campaign event where I met a local grand poobah and he was a BAD PERSON with WRONG OPINIONS and he expressed them to me and I started attempting to argue him out of them because he was REALLY WRONG and COMPLETELY MISINFORMED and after like ten minutes he excused himself, went over to the guy who introduced us, and demanded the guy who introduced us apologize for introducing me to him because he thought I was a crazy, loud-mouthed bitch. But I went over like five minutes later and told the guy who introduced us, "Quit introducing me to your racist friends or I'm going to start sending you TMBG songs every 5 minutes," so apparently I also am demanding apologies for infelicitous introductions. Anyway, the point is, he totally understood me, he was just REALLY REALLY WRONG and explanations were not going to argue him out of being wrong. And also I just really want to tell this story because I'm still mad.)

Generally I make my one overly-long, too-verbose post, and then I allow myself one clarifying follow-up when I notice errors I made or things that people point out relatively rapidly. After that I try to make myself take a break from the thread for a couple hours because my desire is to constantly re-explain to people why I'm not wrong, they've just misunderstood my point ... but that is rarely helpful. It also helps me make my point more thoroughly and completely the FIRST time, if I know I'm not coming back to argue over and over. I know you will all be shocked to hear I have such an internal rule because I tend to serial-post but it'd be EVEN WORSE otherwise.

Sara C.: "I also think it's exceedingly fucked up for any of us to decide who can and cannot participate in threads about social justice based on some arbitrary idea about who is or is not "marginalized". "

I also notice, such as above, where you take umbrage at something that is not what was actually said to you; nobody suggested the privileged should NOT participate in threads, just that they should take care not to shut out marginalized voices. This is sort-of the inverse of the first point; you have a tendency to misunderstand what others are saying. It will help to make a consious effort to try to understand others' POVs as good-faith statements rather than arguments against your POV.

Again, I only say anything because I recognize a lot of my own tendencies in your posts, and I struggle with similar tendencies to dominate conversations and overexplain.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:08 PM on March 5, 2014 [107 favorites]


LOL maybe we should start a self-help group of some kind.
posted by muddgirl at 6:10 PM on March 5, 2014 [12 favorites]


5. I thought this callout was mean when I read it. Kinda malicious if seen from a certain perspective.

I kinda feel like just throwing something out there to respond to both you and others who brought up this point. But are we, as a community, really on the page that calling someone out is the "greatest rudeness" or whatever like Miss Manners writes? I mean, i know a small but vocal number of people in meatspace who think that way and it always gets on my nerves.

I mean, i got a range of responses here which is exactly what i expected. At one extreme there's "yes, i've seen what you're talking about and i agree", but i didn't expect the other to be "Wow this is a really rude and out of line thing to do this callout is gross/malicious/etc", but more just "yea i don't see what you're saying idk where you're coming from".

Does that not seem a little extreme to anyone? like is saying you think that spamming posts of the same point into a thread is or could be detrimental to the discussion really that rude and awful?

Like if you're gonna call this mean, or malicious or whatever then show your work instead of just dropping that bomb in passing. Because i know people who would think it was like uncouth to publicly call someone out, but not malicious. Jesus.
posted by emptythought at 6:11 PM on March 5, 2014 [4 favorites]


It may just be what people are used to but calling someone out for "bullshit behavior" and then calling their request for clarification "a shitty response" is not the most level-headed way to go about trying to talk about a community issue. And I'm only saying this because you asked and it's not something I otherwise have a problem with but you can sometimes come across as really crabby/rude when I think to yourself maybe you just sound strongly opinionated. So, not really a big deal but this is MetaFilter and people feel weird about callouts generally and they tend to go better if they're framed a bit more dispassionately.

I thought this callout was "kinda mean" also, which doesn't mean I agree with hal_c_on's other points necessarily or that I didn't think Sara C was being a bit over-commenty in that thread, but there are ways to raise those issues for discussion without it seeming like the unstated coda is "AND I'M PRETTY ANNOYED BY IT" Some people just sound annoyed when they are talking in their usual way. I may be one of those people. You may also. Bringing that up is one of the almost-inevitable parts of a MeTa discussion and something that is within the OPs control. I don't think it's extreme to say that, and I think it is, in fact, totally predictable that people would say that.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:17 PM on March 5, 2014 [20 favorites]


Eyebrows McGee, directed at Sara C.: I also notice, such as above, where you take umbrage at something that is not what was actually said to you; nobody suggested the privileged should NOT participate in threads, just that they should take care not to shut out marginalized voices. This is sort-of the inverse of the first point; you have a tendency to misunderstand what others are saying.

I would add that she is very far from alone in this, and that while there is a very good point in realising that you won't convince some people no matter how RIGHT you are and WRONG they are, it is much easier online to feel that, due to the content of the replies you are receiving, that they are in fact just missing your point, misreading you, or what-have-you, and so constantly trying to reframe your argument becomes less about convincing them of your rightness and more just trying to show you have a valid point to make.

But my thing becomes I can nearly always see how behaviours can be a problem, so it always comes down to a matter of degrees. Threadsitting is a problem, but do I think this was a case of it, and so on. Or even I might agree something is an issue, but not nearly so much as the response indicates.

It is, as I said, a thing.
posted by gadge emeritus at 6:20 PM on March 5, 2014


I tend to be more of a reader than a poster, so maybe I notice a little more when it seems like the same person is commenting over and over. That thread was a really obvious example though, and nothing against Sara C. or her opinions, but it was overwhelming just to read through. It really felt like every other comment was from her - and unless the thread is really short, no one has that much of interest to contribute to any thread. It makes it feel like it is somehow one person's conversation, and no other commentators are welcome.
posted by madelf at 6:21 PM on March 5, 2014 [10 favorites]


ambient2: "So it's fine and good for a mod to tell people to "shut up about..."
That's professional and respectful?
"

Sure, it can be. Tone and context count for a lot. The specific comment of jessamyn's to which you refer didn't sound mean-spirited or rude to me.
posted by desuetude at 6:28 PM on March 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


So, this is not cool.

Is it just me? Because I'm fairly uncomfortable and annoyed with how this thread is the "complain about so-and-so show."

I mean, yeah, obviously this is a callout; sorry, emptythought, but I think this is bullshit behavior.

So, yeah, is this just me? Does anyone else think that thread is playing out in a bullshit way?

Whatever happened to flagnoring if we don't like the comments on an FPP? I don't like the idea of being told to sit in the corner, zip it, and be seen and not heard if I have more to say on a subject than somebody feels like hearing. I've had enough of that in my real life, and it's pretty damn rich in the comments section of an FPP about oppression.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:59 PM on March 5, 2014 [9 favorites]


Laying out a bunch of numbered statements does not mean that you are actually dropping truthbombs.

Did you actually say "truthbomb"? I bet you also say "Totes McGotes".
posted by hal_c_on at 7:08 PM on March 5, 2014 [6 favorites]


So, yeah, is this just me? Does anyone else think that thread is playing out in a bullshit way?

BOOM! I think so too. How you like that "truthbomb"?
posted by hal_c_on at 7:10 PM on March 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


Underpants, I don't like callouts that target specific people. It puts them on the defensive and makes constructive, meaningful dialog harder.

That said, threadsitting monopolizes threads, which is also problematic. if I think I'm going to be attacked for voicing an opinion by someone who clearly has an axe to grind, then I probably just won't bother commenting. There are people who have their pet peeves, and that's normal. But I rarely feel a pressing need to get shouted down and deliberately misinterpreted on some topics because someone had Wheaties for breakfast and is feeling ornery.
posted by zarq at 7:14 PM on March 5, 2014 [3 favorites]


The thread seems to be going fine to me. Lots of interesting, not-mean perspectives.
posted by muddgirl at 7:15 PM on March 5, 2014 [4 favorites]


As someone who's recently started to read the blue a bit more after a long time on Ask, I certainly notice when people post really prolifically in a thread. It makes me feel like I'm walking into the middle of a conversation that I'd feel uncomfortable interrupting. I definitely noticed this in the "Slates for Sarah" thread, for one, so I don't think emptythought is making up Sara C.'s tendency to post a lot of back-and-forth or anything (even though it doesn't bother me to read it; it just kind of discourages me from making my own comments, which is not necessarily bad on balance).

That being said, the framing of this MeTa really bothers me. I have been thinking about why and I am probably not going to articulate it well. But it's basically the wording, all the "so is this cool" and the "yea, obviously this is a callout" and "so yea" this and that. It strikes me as disingenuously casual and disinterested, when it's clear that you have a specific instance in mind, and a specific view that you basically think we should agree with, emptythought. I do think it's a pretty mean callout, and its main result is for me to feel sympathy for Sara C., which is probably not what you meant to accomplish.
posted by mlle valentine at 7:16 PM on March 5, 2014 [11 favorites]


emptythought, if you're going to convene a meeting of the minds to discuss "bullshit behavior," you might want to take a few extra moments to cool off, compose yourself, and frame your question, and your subsequent responses, in a less-inflammatory way.

Remember that there is an actual person on the receiving end of your criticism, and she really doesn't need or deserve to be spoken of so disrespectfully, no matter what you may think of her posting approach.

Be cool.
posted by nacho fries at 7:17 PM on March 5, 2014 [21 favorites]


Lay them truthbombs on me, hal_c_on.

Like if you're gonna call this mean, or malicious or whatever then show your work instead of just dropping that bomb in passing.

Many people get really, really upset, humiliated, hurt and embarrassed to be criticized in public - AT ALL.

Multiply that by criticizing someone in front of dozens to hundreds of people they may consider acquaintances or even friends.

Multiply that by the thousands or hundreds of thousands of people who may be silently reading it.

On top of that, it's constructed in a way that all kinds of other people are encouraged to pile on with the criticism, some of them eagerly doing so.

Take it even further by not even making an attempt to characterize the behavior you are objecting to civilly, moderately, or kindly - but instead repeatedly characterize the behavior with language of aggression, physical violence and war:

you immediately jump right back on them.

You have systematically shouted down

selectively attacked

you're blasting all comers.

a few people who still wanted to do battle with you

killed the thread

you interview people and then skewer them.


Dude she typed some words on a website, you're talking like she launched a tank war on a civilian population like some combination of Rambo and Hitler.
posted by cairdeas at 7:19 PM on March 5, 2014 [19 favorites]


I have no complaints about the quantity nor quality of your comments, Sara C. Keep on keeping on.
posted by flabdablet at 7:20 PM on March 5, 2014 [4 favorites]


(I do generally think both Sara C. and emptythought make great comments, by the way. Got lost in my general reshuffling of my thoughts.)
posted by mlle valentine at 7:20 PM on March 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


I mean, I guess we can keep focusing on the overly hyperbolic shit, if we want to. That's cool too.
posted by muddgirl at 7:21 PM on March 5, 2014 [5 favorites]


Did you even attempt to discuss this with Sara C. at all before making this super public statement encouraging everyone to pile on her and and characterizing her participation in such extreme and insane terms??
posted by cairdeas at 7:21 PM on March 5, 2014 [10 favorites]


Making callouts the main focus of the social justice internet creates nothing.
posted by Sara C. at 1:52 PM on March 3 [1 favorite +] [!]


LOL.

Having skimmed the thread in question, Sara C. seems to be a useful contributor to it; so yes, I'd say 'this is cool'.
posted by Sebmojo at 7:23 PM on March 5, 2014 [3 favorites]


insane

Oh, that's sure to help.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 7:27 PM on March 5, 2014


> Dude she typed some words on a website, you're talking like she launched a tank war on a civilian population like some combination of Rambo and Hitler.

That's not a good read of someone using pretty bog standard metaphors for this sort of thing. It's equivocation to say they were really accusing Sara C of actual heinous things.
posted by planetesimal at 7:36 PM on March 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


I don't see how creating a pile on is a decent way of protesting a pile on.

Those objecting to 'shitty' as a descriptor particularly likely to hurt Sara .C's feelings may not be aware that she used it herself in the same way in-thread. As well as offering up tiny violin recitals and passing judgment on who did, and who did not, RTFA. I'm sure she must have a fairly thick skin.

We shouldn't equate calling out someone's behaviour with an attack on their self. emptythought's phrasing didn't seem particularly 'mean' or 'malicious' to me. I recall so well the bad old days of Mefi when posting over three thousand words to one thread on the theme of 'how blogs are doin' it wrong' would inevitably provoke a response of GYOB, with no handwringing at all.
posted by Catch at 7:36 PM on March 5, 2014 [5 favorites]


That's not a good read of someone using pretty bog standard metaphors for this sort of thing. It's equivocation to say they were really accusing Sara C of actual heinous things.


Jump on me if you must planetesimal. I'll patiently withstand your blasts but I won't engage in a battle with you.
posted by cairdeas at 7:39 PM on March 5, 2014 [3 favorites]


> I'm sure she must have a fairly thick skin.

I get the sense that Sara C is taking this a lot better than some of those who are getting worked up about this thread being some perceived public square rotten vegetable pelting or something.
posted by planetesimal at 7:40 PM on March 5, 2014 [16 favorites]


> Jump on me if you must planetesimal. I'll patiently withstand your blasts but I won't engage in a battle with you.

If you perceive that as jumping and battle, then you need to just log off and go away from the internet, sorry.
posted by planetesimal at 7:40 PM on March 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


And I'm doing the thing now, so I will check out also.
posted by planetesimal at 7:41 PM on March 5, 2014 [3 favorites]


That being said, the framing of this MeTa really bothers me. I have been thinking about why and I am probably not going to articulate it well. But it's basically the wording, all the "so is this cool" and the "yea, obviously this is a callout" and "so yea" this and that. It strikes me as disingenuously casual and disinterested, when it's clear that you have a specific instance in mind, and a specific view that you basically think we should agree with, emptythought.

I intentionally chilled on even considering posting this for an entire day, and then made a point of writing it as calmly and casually as possible. If i had written it angrily which would have been i guess "less disingenuous" then i'd be getting heat for that. So i write it casually and i'm doing something wrong, i write it angrily i'd obviously be doing something wrong. Is there some option here i'm missing? sappily, saccharine phone customer service rep sweet?

I was trying my best to express my feelings about this without trying to dress it up in some specific twist to the reader in any misleading way, as i do whenever i post anything on here. I wasn't trying to spin this, or sell it in any particular way.

I feel like that, and Cairdeas' read is a pretty reaching way to take what i wrote when i was really trying to be neutral, casual, and nice. I'll admit i got a bit less so when pushed, but i'm not screaming at anyone here.

And seriously, cairdeas, don't troll up another MeTa here. I feel like you seriously came in here fists swinging ready to fight. What the hell?

I also think it wouldn't be out of line to take what you wrote as essentially "any public criticism is a direct violent attack on someone" which.... yea. Not going to engage on that one, but if you really want to create that as a standard neither me, sarah, or you would pass that test unless you're going to create a really narrow band like "created a callout meta thread".

I, personally, also think it's passive aggressive and shitty to create a wink-wink nudge-nudge meta thread that's obviously criticizing something a particular person just did, but sell it as being about that behavior on the site in general. Within a single digit number of comments someone always brings up "can i get an example on this?" and someone links to that persons posts, or just goes "oh, you're talking about [this] aren't you". But, having grown up in a culture of extremely passive aggressive people i at least get it. I just find it very tiresome.
posted by emptythought at 7:43 PM on March 5, 2014 [4 favorites]


She shouldn't have to stop posting just because others disagree with her about the underlying article.

Saw this upthread and while it's generally true, actually, no, it is best when you stop posting if you're out of sync with the rest of the thread. I've been this poster on a couple of issues and it's nothing but grief. This is why I have a three-strikes-and-out rule, because sometimes the thread is just going to be miserable if I've said what I think and enough people are going to disagree.

This is related to Eyebrows McGee's point about sometimes you feel like people don't understand you or are twisting your words or whatever. Maybe they are, but sometimes it's not worth it to fight that fight. What you wrote will still be on the blue to be read and judged. You don't have to have the last one (word).
posted by immlass at 7:43 PM on March 5, 2014 [4 favorites]


Just wanted to see if they are "bog-standard metaphors" when they're used to characterize your disagreement, or just other people's.
posted by cairdeas at 7:43 PM on March 5, 2014


like some combination of Rambo and Hitler.

Yeah, dude, she's not Hambo and she didn't invade Poland.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:43 PM on March 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


Whatever happened to flagnoring if we don't like the comments on an FPP?

But that's the problem - it's impossible to ignore when the voice dominates the thread so entirely and so combatively, and it's off-putting for others who do have something to say but there's no air in the thread in which to say it.
posted by goo at 7:44 PM on March 5, 2014 [3 favorites]


And seriously, cairdeas, don't troll up another MeTa here. I feel like you seriously came in here fists swinging ready to fight. What the hell?

Excuse me? You asked a question and I specifically answered it. The question YOU asked. And I did it in a friendly way. You are going off the rails and you're getting way out of line. Talk about take-all-comers, attack-everyone behavior.
posted by cairdeas at 7:45 PM on March 5, 2014


You are clearly furious and you are projecting aggression and wish for a fight onto everyone else. I assumed you genuinely didn't know why people thought your "callout" was mean and I was trying to explain it to you.
posted by cairdeas at 7:48 PM on March 5, 2014


Cairdeas, telling someone about how they are feeling is a conversational strategy that never ends well unless they're paying you for the service. It's probably a good idea to drop this line of attack.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 7:49 PM on March 5, 2014 [39 favorites]


I'm ain't attacking him, restless_nomad. I'm letting him know he's being extremely hostile and aggressive to a whole bunch of people here. I assume that when people are hostile, aggressive, and calling people names, they are angry; however, I apologize for the assumption.
posted by cairdeas at 7:51 PM on March 5, 2014


Regardless, it sure looks like you're trying to pick a fight, and I'd appreciate it if you stopped.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 7:55 PM on March 5, 2014 [16 favorites]


You are clearly furious and you are projecting aggression and wish for a fight onto everyone else. I assumed you genuinely didn't know why people thought your "callout" was mean and I was trying to explain it to you.

And you did so in a way that someone independent of you or me immediately called hyperbolic. I mean, you literally called it "extreme and insane". I feel like, from your earlier post that you have this pre-loaded assumption from your own experiences that publicly airing this sort of thing is an emotionally violent experience.

So, yes, i'm telling you that i understand where you're coming from, but that on a scale of 1-10 with the average person somewhere in the middle i think you're viewing this through a lens at the 10 end, where it's a nightmare clockwork orange torture chamber experience.

And i don't think that it's a constructive way to approach the thread, which hell to play your game you seem to have come in to already pretty upset, and pretty much go "this is the gross injustice you have done".

It is obviously my reading of that thread, but every pull quote of "violent language" that was me "treating her like hitler" you grabbed i could have directly pulled a link or several from this thread.

This isn't a hit piece of trumped up accusations, this thread was posted in good faith because i thought that someones behavior was aggressive and threadshitty.

And yea, to everyone, and especially Sara, i'm sorry if my response to that came of as well... aggressive and shitty in a very similar way. Because i can definitely see that now, reading all my posts in this thread. I may have to an extent become exactly what i was criticizing.

I don't know though. i tried my best not to be heated, or an asshole, but i agree with jessamyn that i can be a person who comes off that way especially in non face to face communication.

I think i'm just going to check out on this now unless someone wants to directly continue to talk to me about this.
posted by emptythought at 8:02 PM on March 5, 2014 [5 favorites]


Did you actually say "truthbomb"? I bet you also say "Totes McGotes".

We should all say 'Totes McGotes'.

Totes.

Totes McGotes.

TOTES MCGOTES.

Let some fun into your life.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 8:03 PM on March 5, 2014 [38 favorites]


Emptythought, I agree it's a framing issue. You and Sara C are both good contributors & things get more than a little nutty when we care.

IMO, it'd be 100% fair to post a MeTa saying something like:

"I've noticed several threads on the blue, especially on hot-button issues, seem to be dominated by 1-2 voices. Here's (link) a recent example. I kept waiting for mod intervention because it was getting combatative, but it never came up. How much should a thread swing before the mods get involved? What is the best way for us to self-police?"

I think this would have yielded a lot more helpful answers. As it is, a lot of the comments in this thread have been helpful to remind me to just let some things go.

Maybe as a pony request, is there a way to detect if you've posted more than 3x on a single thread and then pop up the "everyone needs a hug" reminder on the submission box?
posted by mochapickle at 8:06 PM on March 5, 2014 [13 favorites]


Whatever "side" of this trainwreck you're on, this could have been (probably should have been) a mefi mail.
posted by Celsius1414 at 8:12 PM on March 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


emptythought.

I like you, okay? I have absolutely no desire to fight you at all. Please be open to that being true for a second.

Let's take a step back.

I thought it was okay to reply to your question you asked about why it was mean.

Because you criticized Sara publicly, I assumed you would be okay with an answer/explanation that was critical of you.

Because you described her behavior using what were, to me, pretty strong words ("shitty behavior"), I did not think you would take offense at the strong description I thought was appropriate for your words "extreme and insane."

I was, honestly, pretty shocked when it seemed (SEEMED!!!!!!!) to make you so mad.

I don't personally feel hurt or embarrassed by public criticism at all. I might feel other things but not hurt or embarrassed. I was genuinely trying to explain why others might describe your callout as mean.

I was a bit of a dick with planetesimal. (My apologies, planetesimal).

emptythought, I didn't mean to make you feel attacked. I genuinely did not think that you would. My bad read this time, apologies.
posted by cairdeas at 8:15 PM on March 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


Sorry, emptythought, if you're still reading this. I appreciate hearing that you thought for a while about posting this MeTa, and I don't think anyone should have to be saccharinely sweet all the time (especially here). I definitely agree that it's shitty to basically post a callout without naming names, and so I think it's good you gave an example. I just found the framing offputting, for reasons I don't think I explained very well or charitably.
posted by mlle valentine at 8:17 PM on March 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


I intentionally chilled on even considering posting this for an entire day, and then made a point of writing it as calmly and casually as possible... ...i was really trying to be neutral, casual, and nice.

Since you say so, I'll take your word for it, but count me as one reader for whom it absolutely, 100% did NOT come off that way. It read as exactly the opposite to me.

But that's the problem - it's impossible to ignore when the voice dominates the thread so entirely and so combatively, and it's off-putting for others who do have something to say but there's no air in the thread in which to say it.

It's not impossible for me at all; I guess different people have varying threshholds for that sort of thing.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:20 PM on March 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


I think this MeTa is fine. Sara C. was taking up a lot of air space, it's not the only time it's happened with her, and just about any time it happens with anybody, it's kind of annoying. But emptythought I also think your version of "casually" can be read as being combative and I can see why people are giving you pushback here. "Bullshit" and "shitty" are perfectly casual word choices, but also provocative word choices. But, whatever, I like your comments and you don't really get under my skin. Other people might feel differently.
posted by MoonOrb at 8:25 PM on March 5, 2014 [7 favorites]


BRB getting "combination Hitler and Rambo" put on my business cards
posted by Sara C. at 8:35 PM on March 5, 2014 [24 favorites]


Rambolf? Adolfbo? Rambler? Hitbo?

So many possibilities...
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 8:47 PM on March 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


Or both first and last names.

ADOHN HITBO!

JOHNDOLF RAMBLER!
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 8:50 PM on March 5, 2014 [4 favorites]


I wonder if I can fit another line underneath "atheist commie dyke"...?

(the other best thing anyone on the internet has ever called me)
posted by Sara C. at 8:50 PM on March 5, 2014 [4 favorites]


So cairdeas has your entire participation in this thread been some attempt to give emptythought a taste of his own medicine or something? Because that seems pretty shitty, if you'll pardon my language.
posted by MadamM at 9:08 PM on March 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


HAMBO. It has to be HAMBO.
posted by mochapickle at 9:09 PM on March 5, 2014 [4 favorites]


HAMBO. It has to be HAMBO.

Apparently already a thing. Oh internet, never cease to amaze me.
posted by cjelli at 9:12 PM on March 5, 2014 [4 favorites]


omgee... But that's like ham. I wanted the little square 'stache.
posted by mochapickle at 9:15 PM on March 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


I just caught up with this thread and was not sure if I should comment because full disclosure I know Sara C. pretty well IRL and talk to her in some capacity every day. So I'm obviously biased.

But -

I think callouts of individual users are generally pretty shitty because what really is there to be discussed? It just seems like venting without any aim toward site consensus. "So is this cool?" reads like "am I rite?" to me. We all know there's no upper limit on how much someone can comment in a thread and I don't think anyone would like there to be one.

Yes Sara C posts a lot in certain threads but to the poster upthread who said she pretends/thinks she's an expert on topics where she's not - totally disagree. I think she posts a lot in topics where she can draw on a background of knowledge that she very much has.

Also, there are a lot of posters who post a lot, or a lot of content in certain threads. There are a few popular commenters who post long, long comments in some threads that get heavily favorite but I find them pretty boring so I skip them. If there are enough of that person's comments I skip the thread. I don't think there should be some site policy to make those commenters never post super long short story like comments in threads that bore me right out though.

I have a lot more thoughts but - bottom line would Metafilter be a better place if Sara C. posted less? Emphatically no.
posted by sweetkid at 9:20 PM on March 5, 2014 [17 favorites]


omgee... But that's like ham. I wanted the little square 'stache.

Does this help?

[sorry, it's still ham]
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 9:29 PM on March 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


MadamM, I respect him enough to give him a public apology. He also said he wasn't trying to come off as heated. Me neither. A bad read from my end, no offense meant.
posted by cairdeas at 9:38 PM on March 5, 2014


I just checked the infodumpster stats for this year thus far.

FYI, the infodumpster stats appear to cut off after about the first week of February, FYI. I know this because I have a, um, friend...a fascinating and attractive friend...who was curious where she would fall in these standings, and didn't come up, in spite of her comment history showing she'd posted somewhere between 50-100 Mefi comments in 2014, because those didn't start until mid-February. (I think insectosaurus's point is still well-taken, I just thought that people who, like my slightly vain...friend...decided to check the infodumpster on their stats.)
posted by kagredon at 9:46 PM on March 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


The meanness and rudeness of this call out far exceed Sara C.'s behavior in that other thread.

Full disclosure: I also know Sara C. IRL and she is lovely.

But really, I don't think there's anything wrong with saying, "hey, leave my friend alone."

This thread, and others like it, are passive aggressive, mean, and unhelpful.

Did you consider sending a memail or contacting the mods before instigating a mudslinging shitshow? If you have a problem with someone, tell them! Don't take them to the cleaners in front of everyone else. This isn't a Metafilter issue, this is Being A Grown-Up 101. Very disappointed with this corner of the internet today.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 9:47 PM on March 5, 2014 [8 favorites]


But really, I don't think there's anything wrong with saying, "hey, leave my friend alone."

Agreed.
posted by sweetkid at 9:52 PM on March 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


I think the larger discussion of how much is too mch for one poster to comment in a thread is a really good one, and worth having. There are combative voices that can seem to drown out the rest of a thread through sheer volume.

I have felt that need, like Eyebrows McGee, to EXPLAIN my POV repeatedly rather than take a step back and accept that Other People Disagree About A Thing On The Internet. It rarely goes well. I have also tried the Three and Out Rule, to mixed results. Sometimes the second will get you just as much flak as the first; you will be accused of making 'Drive By' comments, or not answering other commenters. I think mostly you have to keep working at trying to find the balance that works right for you.

Sara C., it's both cool (and a little awe-inspiring) that you manage to comment so frequently, and also a little off-putting. I mean, I favorite lots of your comments, but I also feel like, okay, you've said your piece, now I want to hear from other voices.

I'd say that if you find yourself commenting two or three times in a row, it's probably time to check out of commenting for a bit and maybe hit up another thread, or just read along (I have been trying to read more and comment less myself lately). Sometimes it's even helpful at that point to read the whole thread over from the beginning before weighing in again. Often it will give you a fresh perspective. I know I have gone back later, once I have had time to distance myself from a thread, and thought, "Huh. I felt like I was reacting to X, but maybe X thought I was coming on too strong!"

And also, just generally, I think a good rule of thumb is that if anyone in a thread is commenting two or three times as often as everyone else, then yeah, IMHO, that user's dominating the thread. Time to dial it back.
posted by misha at 9:54 PM on March 5, 2014 [24 favorites]


The MeFi Contribution Index may be of more direct interest for a quick gauge of things like this.
posted by planetesimal at 9:54 PM on March 5, 2014


Did you consider sending a memail or contacting the mods before instigating a mudslinging shitshow? If you have a problem with someone, tell them! Don't take them to the cleaners in front of everyone else. This isn't a Metafilter issue, this is Being A Grown-Up 101. Very disappointed with this corner of the internet today.

Also agreed, and this is my problem with threads calling out individual users generally. There's MeMail, contact form, tons of other ways to express dissatisfaction.
posted by sweetkid at 9:54 PM on March 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


BRB getting "combination Hitler and Rambo" put on my business cards

So Hitler and Rambo walk into the Taco Bell...


Personally, I try hard (and probably fail) to stick with the three-and-done rule. If all you idiots haven't seen the light after three brilliant comments from me, chances are you never will. (More seriously, because almost no one here is a dumbass, if people are still disagreeing with me I probably need to step away and reassess, because I am likely to be the one in the wrong.)

More Meta-ish, I think these posts go better when they are made more general (e.g. "I think there's a problem sometimes when a single user dominates a conversation. Here are three recent examples, two by the same person. I propose stronger mod action and free cupcakes.") rather than just being about the most recent example of one person who is chapping your ass.

People's writing styles are pretty distinctive; I can identify many people here from the first sentence of a post. Sometimes that makes me say "Yay!" and read every word, and sometimes that's my cue to scroll down. I'm ok that what is a problem for me isn't always a moderation problem, and it's on me to suck up and deal. But when there's a problematic pattern that limits good contributions, then I think it is a moderation problem.

My own take on the example linked in this Meta is that it doesn't cross the line into needing moderator intervention, but it is an example of a wonderful person self-sabatoging by communicating poorly and misreading the room. SaraC is someone with a distinctive style that I notice and enjoy; she'd be at the top of my list of people who sound like fun to have a beer with. In that thread, though, the dissonance was strong.
posted by Dip Flash at 9:58 PM on March 5, 2014 [7 favorites]


My own take on the example linked in this Meta is that it doesn't cross the line into needing moderator intervention, but it is an example of a wonderful person self-sabatoging by communicating poorly and misreading the room.

Honestly, I'd say that's true of both parties here, and I think people could stand to be a little more charitable to emptythought, who I think by now has learned his lesson about tone and then some.
posted by kagredon at 10:02 PM on March 5, 2014 [4 favorites]


sweetkid: "Also agreed, and this is my problem with threads calling out individual users generally. There's MeMail, contact form, tons of other ways to express dissatisfaction."

Yeah, I'm at the point where I wish the mods would close this thread.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 10:12 PM on March 5, 2014 [3 favorites]


Regardless of whether I agree or disagree with them, there is no need for anyone to have a double-digit comment count in an FPP. No one's interesting or smart enough to warrant making that much noise. I support introducing a thing where once a comment count goes above nine, the commenter forfeits a finger as punishment. I call it the "Double-digit? Lose a digit!" program.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:29 PM on March 5, 2014 [16 favorites]


> It's hard to try and expand this out into a call-out of threadsitting behaviour when only one person in one thread is mentioned; last time I remember this happening (even with an above-the-fold concern expanded inside, which didn't happen here) that it mentioned one person in one thread made it hard to be seen as anything other than a personal call-out of another user.

Yeah, that was bad. I miss having Artw around. I would not like to see that happen again.
posted by homunculus at 10:49 PM on March 5, 2014 [4 favorites]


I remember when someone picked a fight with me once here. No, not that time. This other time it happened in MeMail, and I got the mods involved just to sanity-check that the behavior I was witnessing was actually bad versus just me being sensitive. They validated it, and I stopped engaging, and that was that.

But you all go ahead with this thread because I am sure this is a much better way to handle it. I'm going to go eat a cookie.
posted by davejay at 10:51 PM on March 5, 2014


I don't know Sara C. IRL, but I do know that if I were commenting in a thread on a topic that I felt strongly about, and I got called out like this in a really long thread on MetaTalk, I would freak the fuck out and disable my account, at least for a few weeks.

I don't believe that weird mean arbitrary public mefi account shaming should be a part of this website and I agree that this thread should be closed. What good can come of these things?
posted by oceanjesse at 11:02 PM on March 5, 2014 [12 favorites]


Another stellar Meta thread. Makes one proud to be a member of this community. Truly outstanding.

Note to self: remove Meta from bookmarks.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:09 PM on March 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


you immediately jump right back on them.

You have systematically shouted down

selectively attacked

you're blasting all comers.

a few people who still wanted to do battle with you

killed the thread

you interview people and then skewer them.


Ball so hard motherfuckers wanna ban her.
posted by hal_c_on at 11:22 PM on March 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


While I can definitely see what people are getting at to some extent, I think most would agree that Sara C's heart is in the right place.
So I'm feel it's almost unfair that she's ended up getting this callout, where Shivohum's far, far more extreme and aggressive domination of the recent aca website post - that was mainly comprised of easily disproved untruths - went unremarked. Are there just some posters we are resigned to accepting this behaviour from?

Apologies in advance if this is an inappropriate place to bring this up, but it's been nagging at me for a bit and this prompted me to have a moan.
posted by ominous_paws at 11:26 PM on March 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


FWIW, as a person who was arguing with Sara C. in that thread, I don't personally feel that she was in any way over-commenting there and I do feel that this MeTa is a bit odd and a bit unpleasant.

I might not have agreed with all stuff said in the other thread - I said my piece and then stopped - but the conversation seemed entirely reasonable (possibly apart from me - apologies if so) and I am really really not seeing what the Problem Requiring MeTa Callout was.

If we must discuss her directly - which I wish we wouldn't, but here we are - it seems to me quite clear to me from her comments there, here, and elsewhere, that Sara C. is as fine a MeFite as any there has ever been; you may disagree with her from time to time (as I have done) but I'm glad she's around, the site is better for her presence and this thread is horrible.
posted by motty at 11:29 PM on March 5, 2014 [11 favorites]


So yea, is this just me? Does anyone else think that thread played out in a bullshit way?

Ok, fine:

I appreciate Sara C.'s contributions to Metafilter, and have never felt that her commenting frequency has been a detriment to the conversations. I never got the impression that she was trying to dominate a conversation, push a viewpoint or otherwise engage in a conversation in bad faith. I don't agree with everything she's ever posted, and I don't believe that every individual comment she has made is necessarily uniquely valuable, but I have never felt that her contributions have made me enjoy this site any less. I have also never felt crowded out of the conversation or less likely to comment myself because of her contributions.

I did not participate in the "Anti-oppression = commodity" thread, nor did I read all of the comments. I thought the FPP was thin, and the single link's argument pretty weak, and didn't expect a great conversation to come out of it.

So, it's entirely possible that Sara C. made some contributions to that thread that were somehow detrimental to reasonable MeFi users' experiences, and I am simply unaware of them. In that case, some sort of corrective Mod action may be appropriate.

I don't see how this MeTa is at all constructive or appropriate, though.

When I look at the phrasing of your MeTa, it looks more like something that is intended to make someone else feel bad in public, rather than a genuine attempt to change someone else's behavior via constructive criticism. I hope that you disagree with me, and that you were acting in good faith. I also hope that you will re-read your own comments with this in mind, and try to understand how others would feel this way.
posted by Anoplura at 11:31 PM on March 5, 2014 [7 favorites]


Why does metatalk feel like a god damn student body election most of the time? It's like a popularity contest or something....oh wait.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 12:20 AM on March 6, 2014 [8 favorites]


I think gauging the amount of space we're taking up in a discussion is difficult to do, especially if it seems like there are a lot of people on one "side" of a discussion and very few on the other. One of the things I personally struggle with is when I feel like I've contributed some nuanced thought to a thread and then watch a bunch of different people completely ignore it - it's a unique form of invisibility.

In threads like that, however, I have a one post and leave tendency (and then I'll go back a few hours or a day later and see if I want to comment), especially if I am emotionally invested in what I'm saying (which these days I almost always am, as the threshold for me commenting is fairly high).

In terms of the "greater good," however, I'm not sure how I feel about this - especially when my points are ignored or distorted by others. A large part of me just wants to be understood, to have my presence and contribution on a topic respected by the other people there, especially when I'm in a notable minority.

(The dynamic in other more "tag team" situations is different. I've been involved in threads where it felt like I was picking up for someone else who left because the emotional toll was becoming too great, and when there is a sort of collective sense I feel differently about things; the engagement is different when there is a sense of solidarity. However, that same sense of solidarity can itself become detrimental, depending on the circumstances.)

I think the issue greater than the one of "taking up too much space", however, is the extent to which people tend to talk past each other and reinterpret each other along our own assumptions; I think this is part of what drives an individual's desire to be really, really understood which can lead to repetition.

I think there's also an aspect of dish-it-out-but-can't-take-it with regards to hyperbolic or extreme descriptions of things. I know there are times where I've watched a conversation go south and realized in retrospect my attempts to add levity via byperbolism was part of the problem - since the situation was antagonistic, the exaggeration read not as whimsically funny and ironic but rather as harshly annoyed. Ironically, usually the other people were doing similar things, and I was similarly misreading them in the worst possible light.

I'm not sure there's an easy fix for this. A lot of what comes up in Metas like this are basic building blocks to human communication, as it were, where a host of connotations gum up the denotations of our writing.

Subtle things like "reading the room" or knowing how certain people will take things because you are familiar with that person can be escalated into major objections by third parties, who have different reads on what's going on which are likely to have at least some grains of truth in them. Unspoken and often unrealized inequalities are built into how we speak to each other, and written interaction for the purpose of being vindicated by winning a thread, even through attrition, can make people (even me, of all my wisdom and superiority ;) ) type ultimately inaccurate and harmful things.
posted by Deoridhe at 12:22 AM on March 6, 2014 [7 favorites]


The problem with this meta callout is that it's 1) a callout for a specific problem in a specific thread that 2) is rarely encountered in general on the site while 3) the framing of it was suboptimal.

If emptythought had stuck to something like "this thread seems to have evolved into an argument between one particular commenter and everybody else, what's the MeFi consensus about this and how this can be prevented" it might have been worthwhile, but even then this may have been better handled with a mail to the mods.

Putting it on meta, the way it was written, it hinders more than helps foster better discussions on Metafilter.
posted by MartinWisse at 12:32 AM on March 6, 2014 [2 favorites]


I try to walk away if I'm repeating myself too much in a thread. I think others should do the same.

This thread is a pretty shitty personal attack and is much less cool than the behavior that prompted it, to answer the title question.
posted by leopard at 12:51 AM on March 6, 2014 [3 favorites]


The problem with this meta callout is that it's 1) a callout for a specific problem in a specific thread that 2) is rarely encountered in general on the site while

Nonsense. The user in question has been absolutely overwhelming discussions she involves herself in for months now. If you think this is a unique instance, you are deluded, or don't actually read the site.
posted by Wolof at 12:52 AM on March 6, 2014 [20 favorites]


Another stellar Meta thread. Makes one proud to be a member of this community. Truly outstanding.

Note to self: remove Meta from bookmarks.
posted by five fresh fish


Hear, hear. Some of y'all don't realize how much like a clique of adolescent bullies you come off as, in thread after thread, month after month, the same dozen voices, veering from passive aggressive shaming to outright aggressive insults, reading coded meaning into anything certain people write, performing self-righteous odes to your Social Justice bona fides, and condescending from the heights of privilege (if you have the time and means to contribute here, you're privileged, get over yourself) while donning the Cloak of Oppression.

I gave up a while back on feeling any sort of "community" development happens in MeTa. I think the premise requires good faith and sincere interest in diversity of opinion, not lip service to "social justice," a phrase rendered ironic as hell by the conduct of several who condescendingly preach about it on MeFi.

The person being discussed comments a lot. It hurts no one. But MeTa must have this week's identified patient in the stocks. It's gross. And it produces nothing like community, only alienation and anger.
posted by spitbull at 2:18 AM on March 6, 2014 [24 favorites]


Guys, I don't mean to harsh on you all but this is exactly how the Old Republic fell apart. People started taking sides, the senate was paralysed, and a small number of evil-doers started taking advantage of the lack of good-governance to further their own interests. Even the Jedi Council (the equivalent of our "mods") was fatally compromised.

In that context, surely it's time we voted in a strong leader with full (but, of course, temporary!) authority to do what is necessary to save our society - someone to take the hard but necessary decisions and put us all back on track. In other words, let's call an election and vote for a candidate who will not be afraid to crack down on the most dangerous dissent.

In a happy coincidence, I have steadily been building an army of "clone" accounts, all of which are based on one particular New Zealander. If we vote #1 quidnunc kid, I'll relax the rule on multiple sockpuppets, release my Klone-Kiwis, and instead of having angry MetaTalk threads, every MeTa comment will be from a hitherto-unknown Finn brother. You will not believe the catchy pop hits that this subsite will produce, day after day after day. Then you motherfuckers will all "Fall at my Feet" and feel "Something So Strong" and you won't be "Mean to Me" either. I'm not sure how I just went from this post to a Neil-Finn based version of the Clone Wars, but if you dream this is over: don't. Don't dream that. 'Cos it isn't. So don't.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 2:34 AM on March 6, 2014 [55 favorites]


performing self-righteous odes to your Social Justice bona fides
condescending from the heights of privilege
donning the Cloak of Oppression
condescendingly preach about [social justice]


Wait, I'm genuinely curious where any of this stuff happened in this MetaTalk. There's a lot of ways this discussion could've been handled better, I agree, but - donning the Cloak of Oppression? Condescending from the heights of privilege? I really thought this was about posting too much in threads.
posted by naju at 2:49 AM on March 6, 2014 [13 favorites]


Without rendering an opinion on Sara or the linked thread - I think some of this is cyclical. I think I posted a lot more comments several years ago, when I was newer to the site. There's always a small cadre of people with high posting frequency, but the members of that cadre change over time.

I think if you personally think someone is hurting a thread by over-commenting, flag one of their comments or drop the mods or the person a quick (non-confrontational) note.
posted by kavasa at 2:49 AM on March 6, 2014 [2 favorites]


Yes, please. That would be helpful. Seriously, sometimes people do not really recognize that they are overcommenting or dominating the discussion, and actually don't mind if we ask them to dial it back. But we don't know about it if no one flags or contacts us, unless we just happen to be in that discussion.
posted by taz (staff) at 2:56 AM on March 6, 2014 [2 favorites]


Ah, Mod Master taz. You'll get yours when the Finn Clones execute order 66, my friend. Bam! - "Weather with You", right in the ear when you least expect it.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 3:03 AM on March 6, 2014 [7 favorites]


If Metafilter is not for conversation but instead for making your one comment and logging off the site, I will start using it more that way.

posted by Sara C. at 10:55 PM on March 5


Welcome to the club. :-)

I jest, but not that much. There was a time when I found myself unwittingly taking part in a very close game of "threadshitting accusations v hit-and-run accusations". Seems like this is often the result if you get involved in a thread where you either feel strongly about the subject or you have a minority opinion about it. And when both apply, Jaysus... these days I tend to just stay out of such threads.
posted by Decani at 3:06 AM on March 6, 2014 [2 favorites]


Darth Decani, it is long since we crossed light-sabres! Remember when you force-choked me when I was eating that star-donut? Man that was some funny force-shit! I was all like, "Oh Sith-dude you force-choked me right when I took a big bite!" and you were all, "Ha ha ha, only kidding Sith-bro!" - then we put on The Very Very Best of Crowded House and had our OWN "Sithcothèque", if you will.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 3:22 AM on March 6, 2014 [4 favorites]


Death, death, death to Sithco!
posted by flabdablet at 3:33 AM on March 6, 2014


naju, I'm referring to the broader context of the enmities on display, over many a MeTas, featuring the same dozen or so members, most of whom appear to live in the same neighborhood already anyway, which may be why they can't see how parochial they sound.
posted by spitbull at 4:07 AM on March 6, 2014 [3 favorites]


Spitbull, if you have something you want to say, go ahead and make a Metatalk and be clear about the problem. This mystery mudslinging from the sidelines thing isn't really something that anyone can address or offer an opinion on, and just seems like getting your cryptic licks in.
posted by taz (staff) at 4:19 AM on March 6, 2014 [20 favorites]


I think he's being pretty clear.
posted by 0 at 4:20 AM on March 6, 2014 [7 favorites]


Just for total clarification, is there a hard guideline about how much participation is too much?

Well I think -and God help me here cause I know lots of mefites hate this belief - that tone does matter. And that there's a dialogue, a conversation where people are interacting and participating, and then there's Debate Club, and its ready to slip into the latter sometimes.

I say this as, like other reprobates above, someone who struggles with the slipping into club mode. I can be quite Debate Club at times in real life, and indeed if people are calm I find it very energising and enjoyable.

But, a lot of people don't enjoy it, they feel attacked, harassed, vulnerable, harangued, etc. And I think it's important to respect that, as I am not here (or anywhere, hopefully) to hurt peoples feelings or make them feel bad. Certainly not if my only reason is to be right, to have an animated discussion, or flog someone intellectually.

I think there are ways to participate and still get the simulation of disagreeing or hashing something out that leaves everyone pretty satisfied, and sometimes that means agreeing to disagree, not having the last word, etc because that connotes respect to a lot of people and respect is as good to give as to get.

So yeah I think sometimes you could jump less fast less hard, and give yourself and others a little intellectual wiggle room. Absolutes can shut down discussion and can leave the impression a person is saying "I don't have anything more to learn" - which is very rarely the case, imho.
posted by smoke at 4:23 AM on March 6, 2014 [10 favorites]


Wait, there's a MetaFilter fight borough?

Mind = blown.

(I think MetaTalk is a curious proposition partly because it functions both as the superego of MetaFilter - where the big, serious issues about site policy are meant to be discussed - and also its id - a safety valve where people can get vocally angry with and about MetaFilter and each other, without ruining MeFi and AskMe for the Internet as a whole.

So, it's a combination of the Senate and The Real World. It's sort of like The Frat House of Representatives.

This is one of a number of things that can be a bug or a feature, depending on what angle you're looking at it from.)
posted by running order squabble fest at 4:24 AM on March 6, 2014 [5 favorites]


I don't love it when any thread becomes the "x" show. There have been lots of threads on filter where a thread has become about a particular member's opinion on the fpp, especially when they have become hung up on a particular aspect of the post and keep wanting to engage with that. I think if you've got to the point of responding to each and every point every other user is making that maybe you're over engaged with the thread.

Sara C, your first post in this thread was "sorry". You then got increasingly fighty as the thread continued, up til the misjudged "oppression olympics" detour. Why did you do that? If you were sorry for over engaging, why did you stop being so?

Emptythought, it does genuinely surprise me that you took a day to write this post, because it does come across as unecessarily provocative. I'm gonna agree with the "tone matters" comment. I think this might have gone better had it been a little less aggressive.

One thing I note in meta in particular, and argumentative fpps as well, is that people (and I've been guilty of this I'm sure) sometimes engage as if their goal is to win. They line their arguments up like soldiers (thanks to less wrong for this phrasing) and as one goes down they bring out a new one. I'd like to hope the true goal of a conversation would be to understand what other people are saying and possibly even realise that what they are saying makes sense. Sometimes, just sometimes, you will be the only right one in a thread full of wrong people, but it is possible that you are misreading something, or even just straight up mistaken.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 5:04 AM on March 6, 2014 [14 favorites]


If you think this is a unique instance, you are deluded, or don't actually read the site.

Specific examples, linked in a coherent way, and formed into a larger pattern of behavior would help.

The same applies to other assertions made in this thread.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 5:07 AM on March 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

One thing I note in meta in particular, and argumentative fpps as well, is that people (and I've been guilty of this I'm sure) sometimes engage as if their goal is to win.
Yes, this. Sometimes I do this when I'm super-invested in the topic, and sometimes I do it when I say something and feel attacked by people's responses to it, and then I feel like I have to defend myself. It's not a great impulse, and I'm trying hard to step away from the computer when I feel too emotionally invested in a topic or argument.

But sometimes I think I over-post just because it's an awesome topic and I have so much to say about it and I'm so excited to get a chance to share my thoughts in a way that I can't do IRL, because people roll their eyes and make excuses to leave. I've probably got to do a better job remembering that just because I can't see people rolling their eyes, it doesn't mean they're not doing it. I am not so good at reining in my geeky enthusiasms.
Yes Sara C posts a lot in certain threads but to the poster upthread who said she pretends/thinks she's an expert on topics where she's not - totally disagree. I think she posts a lot in topics where she can draw on a background of knowledge that she very much has.
I think that this gets at an issue that isn't particularly specific to Sara C. and that I also have some problems with. I'm pretty confident about my intellectual abilities, if about not much else, and I know a little bit about a lot. So I often presume expertise, even when what I really have is a little knowledge, not real expertise. And in most places, that's probably not a big deal. But on Metafilter, there actually are experts on most topics, and I'm sometimes presuming expertise when arguing with people who really have it. And that can get annoying and can muddle threads. And I do see Sara C do that sometimes (for example, on the slavery thread, about which I know enough to know that a lot of other posters have more expertise than she does), but I don't think she's the only one.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 5:24 AM on March 6, 2014 [8 favorites]


While I really hate these call-out MeTa's, I would like to point out that if you are going to do them, it's kind of a damned-if-you-do/ damned-if-you-don't situation; if OP had not mentioned anyone's name in particular, there would have been a round of people accusing of them being too passive aggressive, and asking them why they won't just "say what they mean". Because OP did focus on a particular user, they are accused of being too mean and confrontational.
posted by Think_Long at 5:39 AM on March 6, 2014 [30 favorites]


Agreed. The OP should been written much more tactfully, but emptythought's issue was with one user. As the infodumpster stats showed, there are three users who comment much more than most others, and Sara C. is at the head of that list. If your frustration is with over-commenting, it's disingenuous not to mention her.
posted by Chrysostom at 5:56 AM on March 6, 2014 [6 favorites]


While I really hate these call-out MeTa's, I would like to point out that if you are going to do them, it's kind of a damned-if-you-do/ damned-if-you-don't situation;

I don't know. I think it possible to write a MeTa on specific behaviors, drawing attention to the behaviors (which, to some degree, means identifying people who are doing it, but I feel that it avoids some of the "you are a bad person who does bad things" tone.

Again, I am not super happy about this specific Sara C. call out, especially since she got a really weird amount of push back in a thread on Christmas music, of all things. If the problem is "king of the hill"-ism or "repeats self" or "let me explain the explanation of my explanation of my point," well, there are a lot of people (me included) who have done most of those at least some of the time, and I don't think Sara C. is exceptional in this even if she may be an example. On the other hand, I've tried this approach, and it's ended up focusing on specific posters and refighting the thread rather than addressing the behaviors, so maybe that isn't a solution, either.

Spitbull's veiled insinuations above, however, are a perfect example of how not to do it, because I have no idea who his barb is aimed at. I can guess, but it's impossible to evaluate who he actually means.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:01 AM on March 6, 2014 [6 favorites]


while donning the Cloak of Oppression.

Not as desirable as the Codpiece of Offense or the Smock of Foom, but still a good thing to have in a pinch. I'll give you 100 gold pieces for it.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:17 AM on March 6, 2014 [12 favorites]


I don't know that I ever commented as much as Sara, but I know that I used to comment a lot more, especially in social justice threads. I took a long break and changed my user name because I became pretty unsatisfied with my experience on MetaFilter -- and I was much more of gunslinger than Sara, with comments that tended to be sarcastic or scornful, which I cringe at when I reread now.

I made a decision when I came back that I would try only to participate in a thread when I was sure I was adding value. For a little while, this meant I only answered Ask questions, and only when I actually knew the answer. Later I tried to make sure my comments contained some new information that could forward the discussion. I have loosened up a little and now think that offering my own perspective or, more frequently, a little joke, is all right, because it also is something new. But if I feel like I am going to repeat that information or belabor a comment or point that I already made, I try to stop myself. And if I feel myself getting heated or fighty in a thread, I walk away. I also try not to treat all responses to my comments as a demand to comment more, unless I am specifically being asked to clarify or for more information.

I don't always succeed at all this, but I try to remind myself of it with some frequency. I comment a lot less, but am a lot happier with what I do say, and my experience on MetaFilter is a lot better. This suggestions might not work for everybody, and aren't even really intended as suggestions. This is just the way I have found to make myself feel like I am participating in a way that I feel best about.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 6:18 AM on March 6, 2014 [33 favorites]


Specific examples, linked in a coherent way, and formed into a larger pattern of behavior would help.

In the 10th comment in this thread someone else points to a different thread on the very same day that they felt had the same problem. More importantly, they say it discouraged them from participating, and other people in this thread said they also found it discouraging.

On preview Think_Long and Chrysostom also make excellent points about how addressing this was going to be difficult regardless of the approach but this is hardly the first time it's come up.

I don't think Sara C. is exceptional in this even if she may be an example.

I agree this isn't a uniquely Sara C. problem but I do think the fact that she's unusually prolific makes this an unusually specific part of the larger issue.
posted by Room 641-A at 6:22 AM on March 6, 2014 [3 favorites]


On callouts-that-name-names:

I've been the target of one, which - if memory serves - accused me of misandry. It lasted an evening before it got closed up. However, I wasn't even logged in and didn't even know anything about it until the following morning when I woke up and found all of these "I'm so sorry" messages in memail and I was all "....bwuh?" and found the closed thread.

But I was only amused about it, because the reason that I hadn't seen the thread calling me out for misandry was because I'd been on a rather nice date.

So -- maybe the moral is, if you're going to call someone out on MeTa, fix them up on a blind date first. At least they'll get a drink out of it.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:23 AM on March 6, 2014 [8 favorites]


If you think this is a unique instance, you are deluded, or don't actually read the site.

Specific examples, linked in a coherent way, and formed into a larger pattern of behavior would help.


Honestly, I hope this isn't taken as a request to go and find those examples and post them here, because focusing so much on whether Sara C specifically does or does not suck doesn't seem all that useful. I don't think it would be impossible for Wolof to find things that could be linked to (actually, didn't someone already do that upthread?), whether or not we all agree that they support the case, but what would come of that? MORE back and forth specifically centered around one particular user? If I were that user I would be seriously freaked out about that.

Not that I think it's okay to make unsupported claims, especially about a member of our community, but now that that's done it seems like it would be better to just move on rather than demand it be continued. The "oh yeah? Prove it!" approach often seems to just prolong things unnecessarily; surely there are better ways of discouraging unsupported claims.
posted by DingoMutt at 6:25 AM on March 6, 2014 [4 favorites]


I think one problem with this MetaTalk discussion is that some users responded to the call-out of Sara C. by then bringing up other complaints about her. We got less of a discussion of community norms about repeated and argumentative posting and more of a pile-on attack on a single user. I wonder if a different approach in the initial post would have resulted in a better discussion.
posted by Area Man at 6:31 AM on March 6, 2014 [8 favorites]


Ok, I'll confess I've kind of just skimmed this MeTa, but I'm thinking this is about is Sara C. hogging cookies? Well, you know, if she promises to bake more then I'm ok with it. Mind you, she never baked me any damn cookies so maybe she is a chatty-Kathy who ...

Madness, madness. Pileing on to anyone who isn't a troll-ish fart head is dumb. We all fuck up. I believe her heart is in the right place and she'll be mindful in the future.
I'm gonna drink coffee and imagine I'm eating cookies.
posted by From Bklyn at 6:36 AM on March 6, 2014 [3 favorites]


While I really hate these call-out MeTa's, I would like to point out that if you are going to do them, it's kind of a damned-if-you-do/ damned-if-you-don't situation

If it had been handled in mail, none of this shaming, passive-aggressive Sturm und Drang would have been necessary. No damning required.

What purpose is served by this thread still being open?
posted by Celsius1414 at 7:03 AM on March 6, 2014 [3 favorites]


A plate of rotten beans.

The world don't end. No one died. Someone said someone posted too much, other person said sorry.

Kindness was not at the top of the behavioral list for a few people, but the lack was acknowledged, nonetheless.

The rest is a plate of rotten beans.
posted by Vaike at 7:03 AM on March 6, 2014 [3 favorites]


the man of twists and turns:"Specific examples, linked in a coherent way, and formed into a larger pattern of behavior would help."

You can look at any users commenting history via their profile page. Go to "View All Activity" and then hit the "Comments" tab.
posted by desuetude at 7:09 AM on March 6, 2014 [2 favorites]


Celsius1414: "What purpose is served by this thread still being open?"

I think we pretty extensively discussed mod policy for leaving threads open fairly recently.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:10 AM on March 6, 2014 [2 favorites]


So since rap was the subject of the post that ended up being written about and that was the FPP, it could have been succinct in hip hop.

So, is this cool?
Nah yo.
My bad.
Aight then.

Or you could go a different way.

"So, is this cool?"
"A little less Twista, a little more Saafir."
"Okay, less Busta Rhymes, more De La Soul Got you, got you."
"One"

Anyway, sometimes the best way to get a point made is to have others make it for you. When I find myself getting all embroiled, I started learning to just take some time and wait, and hope someone like minded would step in and share sentiments that echoed mine. And if things just died out and people moved on, well that was a benefit too. I know what it feels like to want to have your voice heard, and to feel like you have some unique insight to share.
posted by cashman at 7:21 AM on March 6, 2014 [3 favorites]


kagredon: "(I think insectosaurus's point is still well-taken, I just thought that people who, like my slightly vain...friend...decided to check the infodumpster on their stats.)"

Oy. The 'dumpster shows me as making more comments in metatalk than anyone else, even more than any of the mods. Not good.
posted by zarq at 7:31 AM on March 6, 2014 [1 favorite]


At the end of the day, isn't it BETTER to have a diversity of perspectives and contributions? Does anyone disagree with that?

Now how to enforce that and what type of restrictions to create (if any!) is a tough call. As an example we are limited to one AskMe a week. So there is a precedent for establishing arbitrary (?) limits and then letting the site's "culture" evolve around those parameters. But don't rules seem stuffy and authoritarian? So maybe we do nothing, hope that people self-regulate, and then do "callouts" occasionally once a tipping point is reached? But apparently that leads to hard feelings and people closing their accounts, which in turn creates a different kind of toxicity. So...we're at an impasse here, folks. But I return to the first point:

Isn't it BETTER to have a diversity of perspectives and contributions?
posted by 99percentfake at 7:38 AM on March 6, 2014 [2 favorites]


GenjiandProust: "especially since she got a really weird amount of push back in a thread on Christmas music, of all things."

I thought it was an awesomely interesting post, but it wasn't poking any of my sacred cows. But honestly, if pushback is going to happen on any FPP, it's better to get it from Eyebrows McGee than just about anyone else. She's knowledgeable, polite and eloquent.
posted by zarq at 7:42 AM on March 6, 2014 [3 favorites]


I'm just going to comment here. Because apparently, there's never been a thread I didn't like to comment on.

Totes Magotes.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:57 AM on March 6, 2014 [22 favorites]


Oy. The 'dumpster shows me as making more comments in metatalk than anyone else, even more than any of the mods. Not good.

To be fair, this guy Mathowie has made more metatalk posts than anyone else. He clearly has some serious issues...
posted by Cannon Fodder at 8:05 AM on March 6, 2014 [4 favorites]


What purpose is served by this thread still being open?


I think we pretty extensively discussed mod policy for leaving threads open fairly recently


May 2013.

I guess a better question is what purpose is served by this thread. Flagged and moving on.
posted by Celsius1414 at 8:20 AM on March 6, 2014


GenjiandProust: "especially since she got a really weird amount of push back in a thread on Christmas music,"

Ahh yes. The Sleigh Ride debacle. That was wierd, but again I think this is just this person's style. I don't see any ill intent, but I read her comments in an excited voice. And I'm saying this not to pile on, but to reiterate that there is a really prolific new user here.
posted by Big_B at 8:35 AM on March 6, 2014


And my editing window timed out: The prolific new user has gotten peoples attention, some are unhappy with it, the user apologized. Put your pitchforks away.
posted by Big_B at 8:41 AM on March 6, 2014


Sara C.: BRB getting "combination Hitler and Rambo" put on my business cards

I would suggest you add that to the cheeky Tiger Tamer / Government Runner / World Traveler type cards (example).
posted by filthy light thief at 8:41 AM on March 6, 2014


And my editing window timed out

Not a huge deal but this is as good an opportunity as any to remind folks that the editing window is for typos, not for expanding your thoughts iteratively over several minutes. If you need to add an afterthought, just go ahead and make an additional comment.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:44 AM on March 6, 2014 [5 favorites]


I've wondered a few times lately if there should be a new flag added--for threadsitting, or monopolizing the discussion. It'd be useful in this Ask questions where someone's answering every single comment that comes in, and useful in situations like this. I can't help but wonder if some of the problem is that you can't see what's happening, then flag this and move on, because there's not really a good way *to* flag it.
posted by MeghanC at 8:56 AM on March 6, 2014 [12 favorites]


Oh yeah whoops. I was typing and saw it counting down and panicked. What happens if you are editing a comment and the timer expires? Does it save what you've edited or does it revert?
posted by Big_B at 8:57 AM on March 6, 2014


You die.
posted by cashman at 8:57 AM on March 6, 2014 [16 favorites]


on the slavery thread, about which I know enough to know that a lot of other posters have more expertise than she does

What are you referring to, here? Are you maybe confusing me with another user? Because I have barely participated at all in the slavery thread, and pretty much not at all from a position of special knowledge. My last comment in there was that Lupita N'yongo is awesome.
posted by Sara C. at 8:58 AM on March 6, 2014


I think until you press the save button it's not saved. We are not facbeook, we don't know what you've typed in the box until you tell us.

I think "noise" as a flag handles this hypercommenting thing, as does a nice note to us. This was awkward because we literally had no idea there was a situation in that thread. There was another analogous thread yesterday where there was a user "using up all the air" so to speak and we left what I hope was a friendly note about it and it worked out just fine. User left for a bit, came back to the thread after it had had some time to develop and continued their participation. Sometimes just a little time away by one or two users is all a thread needs to get back on track.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:59 AM on March 6, 2014


because there's not really a good way *to* flag it.

I've found "it breaks the guideline" to be a good catch-all flag for when someone is behaving inappropriately in a thread. On preview, I see jessamyn recommends "noise" as well, which I would usually be tempted to use more in AskMeta for comments that don't really answer the question? I suppose the specific flag doesn't necessarily matter, right? Mods tends to be good at assessing the situation once they receive the call.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:03 AM on March 6, 2014


Yeah, when in doubt flip a coin. And "I can't find a way to convey this issue to my satisfaction using flags" is a really reasonable prompt to just toss us a quick note at the contact form. It's like a fabulous meta-flag teeming with communicative possibilities.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:04 AM on March 6, 2014 [6 favorites]


It's like a fabulous meta-flag teeming with communicative possibilities.

I think that is what my ex wanted me to become. Never got past the useful flag stage.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 9:09 AM on March 6, 2014


What, exactly, do you hope to accomplish with this MeTa post?

I'm really starting to dislike this kind of statement early in a MeTa thread. I kind of have the feeling that you do it a lot, Brandon, although I may be misrecalling. Anyway, the point of posting this kind of callout is obvious: someone appears to the poster to be dominating a conversation on a particular topic in an unusual way for Metafilter.

Please reconsider, Brandon, the next time you feel compelled to question early on what a MetaTalk poster is hoping to accomplish. It's not clear what you yourself hope to accomplish with that kind of question, except to shut down discussion on topics the mods seem quite willing to discuss openly.
posted by mediareport at 9:15 AM on March 6, 2014 [34 favorites]


every MeTa comment will be from a hitherto-unknown Finn brother.

late to the thread, but holy god, EVERYONE VOTE #1 QUIDNUNC KID FOREVER!!!!!!

posted by scody at 9:17 AM on March 6, 2014 [8 favorites]


We are not facbeook, we don't know what you've typed in the box until you tell us.

Wait, Facebook keeps a record of what you type in the box before you post it? Goddammit, I'm never as paranoid as I should be.
posted by mediareport at 9:26 AM on March 6, 2014 [7 favorites]


MetaTalk is a lot likea game of global thermonuclear war: A strange game. The only winning move is not to play. How about a nice game of chess?
posted by entropicamericana at 9:26 AM on March 6, 2014 [1 favorite]


This is the article I read about facebook comment boxes and users' "self-censorship" behaviors. Here's the actual paper.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:32 AM on March 6, 2014 [9 favorites]


So like I'm not in any way feeling like I'm entitled to or called to participate in all threads but I will say that the comments and tone of insistence I saw in the thread this one is about were such that when I got there I looked at it briefly and said to myself, "No way. NO WAY." and backed out and forgot about it.

There is a kind of insistence to be educated by all available sources that folks in the majority frequently make that is one of the red flags I heed to stay the hell out of an SJ thread. I'm not here to do any more educating than I volunteer to do. The insistence that I do more than I'm inclined to do for some ephemeral social good is something I've not found to be in any way shape or form rewarding.

For me or for anyone around me.
posted by kalessin at 9:36 AM on March 6, 2014 [3 favorites]


entropicamericana: "MetaTalk is a lot likea game of global thermonuclear war: A strange game. The only winning move is not to play. How about a nice game of chess?"

U.S. First Strike
USSR First Strike
NATO/Warsaw Pact
Far East Strategy
US USSR Escalation
Middle East War
USSR China Attack
India Pakistan War
Mediterranean War
Hong Kong Variant
SEATO Decapitating
Cuban Provocation
Atlantic Heavy
Cuban Paramilitary
Nicaraguan Preemptive
posted by Chrysostom at 9:44 AM on March 6, 2014 [3 favorites]


Actually, the most obnoxious thing about this thread (and other MeTas) to me is people coming in specifically to post comments saying, "All you people commenting in this thread? Stop commenting. Mods, please close the thread to make people stop commenting."

If you want people to stop talking about the thing you are also talking about, feel free to lead by example.
posted by FelliniBlank at 9:47 AM on March 6, 2014 [10 favorites]


Ahh yes. The Sleigh Ride debacle. That was wierd, but again I think this is just this person's style. I don't see any ill intent, but I read her comments in an excited voice. And I'm saying this not to pile on, but to reiterate that there is a really prolific new user here.

Sara C is not new and i think it's kinda weird that people keep repeating that given that it's not that hard to see when someone joined.

Also just for yuks I looked at Metafilter comments for 2013 on infodumpster and I came in right behind Sara C, so dunno if the newness/prolificness is just something people have been thinking in the last month?

Personally I think my own high Mefi comment count in 2013 is mostly attributed to real time commenting in Mad Men threads.

OMG PEGGY NO

etc.
posted by sweetkid at 9:54 AM on March 6, 2014 [6 favorites]


If you want people to stop talking about the thing you are also talking about, feel free to lead by example.

Good idea. You first.
posted by Celsius1414 at 10:00 AM on March 6, 2014 [2 favorites]


As a fellow binge-poster I feel I should defend Sara C as well, who seems like a lovely, smart somebody who similarly gets all het up and wants to wade into discussion in debate mode when she feels like people are not getting what she's putting down. But yeah, Sara, sometimes its useful to realize folks are reacting to your name popping up over and over in certain threads or on certain subjects, especially because you have an authoritarian tone to your opinions (which I absolutely understand given that my preferred mode of address is "From On High"). You make good points and contributions often and I hope you continue. But us debate-team types sometimes have to take a deep breath and say "Sorry for the trench warfare, I'll consider that maybe my point isn't salient or correct, y'all go ahead without me" and back out, which I think you do sometimes, probably more than I do, so that's chill. Your response here to this legit callout has been reasonable and I hope we all learned an important lesson about clones.

And for the record I much MUCH prefer "I have an opinion that I will emotionally but thoughtfully defend for hours" rather than "Here's a snide curmudgeonly comment out of nowhere goodbye forever."
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:02 AM on March 6, 2014 [19 favorites]


On a non-Finn related note (vote #1 quidnunc kid!), I would like to chime in belatedly to thank ArbitraryAndCapricious for articulating what I've been thinking about here, only far better than I had managed to do with the various comments I'd typed up and discarded over the past day. I've been an over-commenter, too, and it does often come from a place of feeling particularly intensely invested in a topic, combined with a confidence (and sometimes an overconfidence) in my expertise in that topic. So when I see it happening in a thread (yes, sometimes I see it with Sara C., but sometimes others), I try to remember not to ascribe particularly bad motives to the person doing it.

The flip side of this coin, however, is that those of us who have a tendency to be prolix have a responsibility for being more mindful about it. Metafilter is not a production of "Really Rosie," where the mouthiest kid on the block gets to be the star of the show while everyone else stands around the stoop alternating between gazing admiringly and rolling their eyes.

I seriously went through a process on Metafilter where I had to come to grips with the fact that I am not the smartest person in the room. I also had to come to grips with the fact that this is not an environment where the object of the game is to win or lose the argument. Both of these were hard for me, for various reasons, but I made myself work through them (and I continue to make myself work through them), because I found that too often I was not leaving enough oxygen for others, and the upshot was that I didn't even come away from those threads feeling good about my participation.

For me, I've learned to heed the little trigger warning I get sometimes that I'm about to post just one too many times -- there's a little flush of anger in the pit of my stomach, or the little itchy "me too, me too!!!!" impulse. Almost without exception, that's my inner voice signaling me to put a sock in it. And almost without exception, when I ignore that signal, I end up saying something I wish I hadn't.

So I hope something good comes out of this thread. I hope those who are annoyed by heavy commenting might understand that it often happens in good (if sometimes oblivious) faith. I hope those who over-comment might understand that there's not always a direct correlation between the amount you say and the amount you know, and that there are benefits (both personal and others) in giving others a little more space and learning to be more comfortable with gray areas.
posted by scody at 10:05 AM on March 6, 2014 [38 favorites]


(urgh, "both personal and for others". I'm an editor and I still can't always manage to use the edit window right. I blame the flu.)
posted by scody at 10:15 AM on March 6, 2014 [1 favorite]


> I've wondered a few times lately if there should be a new flag added--for threadsitting, or monopolizing the discussion ... I can't help but wonder if some of the problem is that you can't see what's happening, then flag this and move on, because there's not really a good way *to* flag it.

I've thought the same thing. The issue with flagging threadsitting is that usually the individual comments aren't very problematic (though users can sometime get increasingly hostile once they fall into this pattern), it's just we understood your point the first 15 times you made it, but some of the rest of us also want to talk about the topic, and we'd appreciate it if you'd let us do that, and, no, we don't all agree that the one real issue you've already stated your opinion about is the only aspect of the topic worth talking about. It would be useful, I think, to have a simple flag to let the mods know 'hey, this comment on its own isn't really a problem, but Ctrl-F username will make it clear what we're complaining about'.

I realize we can use the contact form to explain the same thing, and I should get less lazy about doing that.
posted by nangar at 10:26 AM on March 6, 2014 [3 favorites]


> Almost without exception, that's my inner voice signaling me to put a sock in it. And almost without exception, when I ignore that signal, I end up saying something I wish I hadn't.

Yeah. I've had to learn that too. And I'm definitely learning.
posted by nangar at 10:32 AM on March 6, 2014


zarq: "I thought it was an awesomely interesting post, but it wasn't poking any of my sacred cows. But honestly, if pushback is going to happen on any FPP, it's better to get it from Eyebrows McGee than just about anyone else."

That is kind of you to say, but I must have had a bug up my ass that day about something unrelated. I still find the framing of the post annoying in retrospect, but not so annoying that I want to fight about it; clearly on THAT day I wanted to have a fight about SOMETHING and I picked that thread. Probably I was coping with holiday travel or something. Sorry I was excessively mean for no very good reason!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:34 AM on March 6, 2014 [8 favorites]


"Potomac Avenue from on High" sounds like very dangerous driving directions.
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:39 AM on March 6, 2014 [3 favorites]


(Eek, edit window! "definitely still learning".)
posted by nangar at 10:40 AM on March 6, 2014


It's cool, GenjiandProust, there's a Metro stop, no need to drive.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:43 AM on March 6, 2014 [1 favorite]


Doxx'd.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:54 AM on March 6, 2014


Eyebrows, you just proved my point. ;)
posted by zarq at 11:02 AM on March 6, 2014 [3 favorites]


Hear, hear. Some of y'all don't realize how much like a clique of adolescent bullies you come off as, in thread after thread, month after month, the same dozen voices, veering from passive aggressive shaming to outright aggressive insults, reading coded meaning into anything certain people write, performing self-righteous odes to your Social Justice bona fides, and condescending from the heights of privilege (if you have the time and means to contribute here, you're privileged, get over yourself) while donning the Cloak of Oppression.

So is this smattering of passive aggressive shaming and outright aggressive insults intentionally or unintentionally ironic?
posted by en forme de poire at 11:09 AM on March 6, 2014 [25 favorites]


On the general topic of being called out in MeTa, I think I would rather get a reality-check from the community at large than be protected from embarrassment. But this may be one of those Ask vs. Guess things.
posted by en forme de poire at 11:18 AM on March 6, 2014 [1 favorite]


So, you want some kind of point system like Weight Watchers?
posted by The Underpants Monster at 11:29 AM on March 6, 2014


So is this smattering of passive aggressive shaming and outright aggressive insults intentionally or unintentionally ironic?

It's a bad, axe-grindy comment and, predictably, its writer hasn't taken the mod's advice and posted a MeTa of their own, but it's enough of a derail from the topic at hand - whether you think it's Sara C. in particular or overcommenting in general - that I don't think it's worth dragging it back down to the bottom of the thread.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 11:30 AM on March 6, 2014 [2 favorites]


Keep in mind that it's a little friendlier to get a reality check from a mod than a reality check from the entire userbase in a format that invites a General Referendum On This Particular User, which is googleable on the internet in perpetuity.

I have received my share of moderator reality check messages and invariably comply with their suggestions. I'm a big fan of, as someone in another MeTa said, taking a mod warning as a "be cool, yo" rather than a spanking.

This thread feels like a spanking gang-bang.
posted by Sara C. at 11:30 AM on March 6, 2014 [9 favorites]


You obviously don't share my appreciation either for spankings or gang bangs.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:32 AM on March 6, 2014 [4 favorites]


For what it's worth, I think this MeTa shouldn't have been posted. The issue could have been resolved with flagging and an exchange of e-mails with the moderators. The moderators didn't leave a note in the thread in question because they weren't alerted, but I don't doubt they would have taken appropriate steps if someone had tapped their shoulder and said, "Hey, look."

On preview:

You obviously don't share my appreciation either for spankings or gang bangs.

I hope this isn't really the room where we tell this joke.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 11:34 AM on March 6, 2014 [1 favorite]


Sara C., that's fair.
posted by en forme de poire at 11:35 AM on March 6, 2014


Rustic Etruscan, I agree: FYI, the room where we tell that joke is the PornMD live searches thread.
posted by en forme de poire at 11:36 AM on March 6, 2014 [4 favorites]


Fair enough. I retract the joke and apologize.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:37 AM on March 6, 2014 [3 favorites]


I didn't read and have no opinion one way or the other on the anti-oppression thread. But since a few people have brought it up, I found Sara C.'s comments in the Slates for Sarah thread entirely reasonable and valuable contributions to the thread. I appreciated hearing from her, as well as from other MeFites with experience in the film industry, for their insight into the tragedy. Sara C.'s comments there did not come across in any way overbearing or domineering to me.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 11:38 AM on March 6, 2014 [2 favorites]


I think this is a community issue--how does the userbase feel about this type of commenting behavior? Are people cool with it? Are they not cool with it? Addressing this solely via MeMail or the contact form wouldn't bring about that kind of community feedback.
posted by MoonOrb at 11:45 AM on March 6, 2014 [13 favorites]


Bunny Ultramod, now that it's no longer a joke, do please memail me.
posted by ominous_paws at 11:45 AM on March 6, 2014 [9 favorites]


(On the actual issue, having realised my first post here looked pretty equivocal, I'd like to emphasise that I am a Sara C. fan and appreciate her contributions in that thread and others.)
posted by ominous_paws at 11:47 AM on March 6, 2014


Spanking and gang-bang jokes entirely welcome as far as I'm concerned.

I actually considered ending with a tongue in cheek joke, but didn't.
posted by Sara C. at 11:50 AM on March 6, 2014 [2 favorites]


I think this is a community issue--how does the userbase feel about this type of commenting behavior? Are people cool with it? Are they not cool with it?

That is the question, isn't it? It can be hard to frame a post well, and so I don't want to take emptythought to task for trying to frame the discussion as best as possible, but perhaps the issue is not so much with Sara C. as it is a larger question of threadsitting, and Sara's contributions might have been presented as merely being an example of that.

As far as I can tell, the community norms discourage it, but there's no real rule against it and it's a hard thing to flag. I have seen mods pop their heads in and ask someone to dial their participation back if it becomes one person taking all comers.

Spanking and gang-bang jokes entirely welcome as far as I'm concerned.

I appreciate that, Sara. It can be hard to read a room, though, and if a joke doesn't work for some people, it's not those people's fault. Some threads are perfect for ribald humor, and I can understand if this doesn't feel like one of those.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:54 AM on March 6, 2014 [5 favorites]


Whatever "side" of this trainwreck you're on, this could have been (probably should have been) a mefi mail.
posted by Celsius1414 at 8:12 PM on March 5 [2 favorites +] [!]


I really do not agree with this generally. Unless two people are close buddies, just emailing someone you barely know to suggest they are Behaving Badly or Doing It Rong or something like that usually comes across as a personal attack. Generally speaking, people are much more willing to be abusive in private where there are no witnesses, thus private mail is both more likely to be written in an ugly manner and more likely to be interpreted as ugly even if you are careful and mean well. I personally and intentionally err on the side of saying potentially "ugly" things in public. If I don't want to own up to it with witnesses, I probably don't need to say mean/rude/critical Thing.

If I do write privately, I try hard to ask if they are open to a little feedback and I try hard to frame it helpfully and supportively rather than critically. I can think of a specific instance where I did that and it went over well and seemed to be appreciated. I am unwilling to name names and all that but if Person recognizes themselves and wants to speak up, hey, I am okay with that.

Not saying I always get it right and I certainly have been more blunt when people have written to me privately (where they were the initiator) and I felt they were being jerks to me, but those are guidelines I keep in mind for myself.
posted by Michele in California at 12:12 PM on March 6, 2014 [14 favorites]


I have seen mods pop their heads in and ask someone to dial their participation back if it becomes one person taking all comers.

I have, too, which makes me wonder how that occurs. Is it the result of flags on that person's comments or is it generally just a moderator noticing the issue either organically or through notes to the contact form?
posted by winna at 12:12 PM on March 6, 2014


I wouldn't be here if ribald humor weren't a community standard.
posted by Think_Long at 12:12 PM on March 6, 2014


...considered ending with a tongue in cheek joke...

I see what you did there.
I think.

...community issue--how does the userbase feel about this type of commenting behavior?

I'm for moderate thread-sitting. Though sometimes someone has pertinent insights and I like for them to stick around so we can all profit.

The continual popping in to add just one more little zinger (and I'm looking at you, XXXXXXXX) can grate.
posted by From Bklyn at 12:13 PM on March 6, 2014 [3 favorites]


I don't know? i didn't expect a court of the people or anything, i was just hoping that at least a couple people would agree with me that the thread was utterly dominated and driven into the ground?

And then? You didn’t get that from the thread?

I find funny the frequent complaint that someone is commenting too much in a thread, when it seems the real issue is that they feel compelled to respond to every one of those comments. It must be exhausting.

I actually considered ending with a tongue in cheek joke,

It just keeps getting better.
posted by bongo_x at 12:13 PM on March 6, 2014 [1 favorite]


winna, it can be any of the three. Definitely people should always feel free to drop a quick note to the contact form like "hey, So-and-so is kind of shutting down the discussion here" because sometimes we might be watching, but not sure if other folks are feeling like So-and-so is dominating or if folks are fine with it.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 12:14 PM on March 6, 2014 [1 favorite]


Sara C.: "This thread feels like a spanking gang-bang."

I can't go anywhere this morning without feeling like I've tripped and stumbled back into the porn search thread.
posted by mannequito at 12:15 PM on March 6, 2014 [3 favorites]


I really do not agree with this generally. Unless two people are close buddies, just emailing someone you barely know to suggest they are Behaving Badly or Doing It Rong or something like that usually comes across as a personal attack.

Yeah, the only time I can think of offhand where "taking it to memail" has gone well was when someone said something in the thread making it clear they were open to someone random me-mailing them and saying "I think this thing you wrote was less than optimal."
posted by hoyland at 12:16 PM on March 6, 2014


Spanking and gang-bang jokes entirely welcome as far as I'm concerned.

All right. It seemed like a more serious thread at the time, and the metaphorical spanking/gang-bang that inspired the joke was definitely not the consensual kind, so it put me off. But, like BU says, different people read the room differently. I don't want to, and can't, speak for anyone else. If I clearly did, I apologize.

I think this is a community issue--how does the userbase feel about this type of commenting behavior? Are people cool with it? Are they not cool with it? Addressing this solely via MeMail or the contact form wouldn't bring about that kind of community feedback.

I think that, like a lot of things, it works on a case-by-case basis, and I think people generally understand this. I've seen people monopolize threads to do as many one-liners as they can. In some threads, that behavior is appropriate, because everyone is trying to say LOLConservatives (or whatever) as many different ways as they can, and the monopoly isn't really noticeable; in others, where the thread has settled into a more serious discussion, even I don't like it, and I like jokey threads as long as the funny comments drown out the bad ones.

As for the take-on-all-comers dynamic, the community has discussed it many times before, and I believe most people agree it's bad, especially when it's extremely repetitive. It's tiresome to read and it's frustrating to participate in, whether you're the person challenging everyone or one of the mob taking them on.

Unlike in a cage match free-for-all, though, few people ever decisively win or lose an internet argument, and it's better to talk with the mods to figure out what they think of what's going on than to try to keep the fight going once it's clear that no one's going to leave the ring until somone gets knocked out.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 12:17 PM on March 6, 2014 [2 favorites]


No, I thought the nonconsensual gangbang joke was gross, too.
posted by winna at 12:20 PM on March 6, 2014 [2 favorites]


Well, it certainly wasn't my intention to suggest I am okay with nonconsensual sexual activites, so obviously that joke misfired on a number of levels. I would prefer it not also misfire by becoming a derail.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 12:32 PM on March 6, 2014 [5 favorites]


Too late, they got a taste of blood and they can smell fear.
posted by entropicamericana at 12:38 PM on March 6, 2014


Probably not helping.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 12:40 PM on March 6, 2014 [8 favorites]


Not a huge deal but this is as good an opportunity as any to remind folks that the editing window is for typos, not for expanding your thoughts iteratively over several minutes. If you need to add an afterthought, just go ahead and make an additional comment.

Given the premise of this MeTa, looks like I picked the wrong week to stop sniffing glue.

Rock on, Sara C. I enjoy your comments and I thought your educating ppl about what goes on with sets and locations in the train thread was interesting, as were others who also shared their knowledge.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 12:42 PM on March 6, 2014 [3 favorites]


Really impressed by the spanking/gang bang joking and in-thread processing. Good show, all. Way to resolve an issue without completely blowing it up, but taking a lot of perspectives into consideration and be present and suitable apologetic and talk about perspectives and be respectful.
posted by kalessin at 12:43 PM on March 6, 2014 [2 favorites]


Is it the result of flags on that person's comments or is it generally just a moderator noticing the issue either organically or through notes to the contact form?

Usually any of those, as LM says. If it's a thread that there are already mods participating in, you can presume that we may have seen the comments already. Otherwise, yeah, we can't be everywhere at once and appreciate the heads up without the presumption that we're okay with things that we may not have even seen.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:48 PM on March 6, 2014


I've seen people monopolize threads to do as many one-liners as they can. In some threads, that behavior is appropriate, because everyone is trying to say LOLConservatives (or whatever) as many different ways as they can, and the monopoly isn't really noticeable

I really notice it. I mean, really notice it. And, sure, we're told to ignore and scroll past it but when those folks take up so much space it's hard to unsee their names.

Which is why I downloaded a MeFi killfile extension and now those who knocked my blood pressure skyward with their constant noisy pandering for favorites and lulz are gone, leaving only a blank line in their wake. It helps me ignore what I feel should be ignored, and keeps me from flagging other people's fun or getting so ragey I end up doing a MeTa callout.

It's not the perfect solution for everyone, but holy cow has it worked for me.
posted by kimberussell at 12:50 PM on March 6, 2014 [16 favorites]


Wasn't emptythought calling Sara C. a favorite commenter only a few weeks ago?

That would give the lie to any claim that this callout was about a pattern of commenting rather than content, because the pattern hasn't changed.
posted by jamjam at 1:08 PM on March 6, 2014


I really notice it. I mean, really notice it. And, sure, we're told to ignore and scroll past it but when those folks take up so much space it's hard to unsee their names.

Sorry. I didn't mean to brush off concerns like yours, as you've said they've been brushed off before. To clarify my position: In lulzy threads where everyone is trying to get their laffs in (witness any time doge memes, SCIENCE!, and other Excellent Internet Shit come up), it's hard to see any one person monopolizing a conversation. But when it's just a few people doing glib, not memorably funny drive-bys in an otherwise fairly earnest thread, I agree: That's totally obnoxious. It's kind of obnoxious even when it is memorably funny.

Now, you can object to lulzy fave-bait threads in general, but that's a different dynamic from the one we're discussing. I just brought up one-liners as another example of individual thread-crowding, and I used a bad example.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 1:12 PM on March 6, 2014


It's fine, Rustic Etruscan! I'm not brushed off at all!

I just wanted to toss that out there as an option for curmudgeons like me.
posted by kimberussell at 1:22 PM on March 6, 2014


While I really hate these call-out MeTa's, I would like to point out that if you are going to do them, it's kind of a damned-if-you-do/ damned-if-you-don't situation; if OP had not mentioned anyone's name in particular, there would have been a round of people accusing of them being too passive aggressive, and asking them why they won't just "say what they mean". Because OP did focus on a particular user, they are accused of being too mean and confrontational.

I wrote this comment and deleted it on preview. this exact comment, i used these words and everything. just swapped the OPs and they's with I.

I'm not even going to engage the people who are going "you obviously have an issue with her message or you wouldn't have posted this, because you've liked other things she posted in the past!". Am i not allowed to like contributions from someone who i can also find to dominate threads at times? I mean no one is perfect, and i think it's really dumb to paint this as some kind of "one or the other or you're a HYPOCRITE CHECKMATE AHA WE BUSTED YOU!" thing, which feels pretty damn witch hunty anyways.

And you know what, now i really do feel like i'm an asshole for posting this, and that my opinion is not the norm and i'm in the minority here with all the people posting "i know sara c IRL and i love everything she posts i don't get this at all!". So yea, now i just feel like an asshole and a moron.

I got a few memails, and there's a few comments like

Nonsense. The user in question has been absolutely overwhelming discussions she involves herself in for months now. If you think this is a unique instance, you are deluded, or don't actually read the site.

from people who seem to see what i'm talking about here, but i guess i'll just make a point of using ye olde contact form in the future since this does not seem to be a widely held belief.

I mean muddgirls post about "i used to be like this" got 80 favorites for pretty much describing what she thought was going on, and a lot of good discussion came out of this thread. But i feel like a prick for even posting it.

To be clear though, and to clarify my position and why i was posting it, and how it's absolutely not about content... this post was made because of uncontent. Posting things you have already posted over and over, or posting filler comments just for the sake of commenting that just say something 3 people have already said in the thread. That kind of stuff blends in when it's a really fast moving thread that's going to have >300 comments within 24 hours, but in a slower moving thread i really do feel that it can drown out other people. Others took issue with my analogies on that front, but a few also said they had a hard time feeling comfortable stepping into a fast moving discussion like that and felt there wasn't really a place for them so they just abstained.

I guess it just annoys me when i open a thread and it's dominated by a specific person, because i come here to read thoughts from as many people as possible. The impressively wide variety of backgrounds and experiences that lead to a very diverse stack of comments is one of my favorite things about this site(another being that the content itself is top notch), and i'm of the opinion that if numerous people are going "woah, i'm gonna sit this one out if it's gonna be like that" and never even comment that it's detrimental to the quality of the comments overall.

I feel like the qualities and chilling effects of this domination don't translate as well for a lot of people. the unthreaded nature of comments here means that it really is like a bunch of people sitting around a big table having a discussion, and that in volume one or two people really can just monopolize a conversation. I think it's a psychological thing that since it's text and the comment box is always there, that anyone can just walk right in... when if you actually view heavily dominated threads once it's gotten to that level those comments just don't get acknowledged in the greater discussion in the way or frequency that they typically would.

Oh well though, i'm pretty much done with this. And i'm really sorry if i came off as an asshole, or more angry than i really was. I can be good at that. It was more that i felt what i was saying was being misrepresented or misunderstood.

Overall i'm just sorry for being a prick, both for the times offense was taken when none was intended, and for when i can definitely tell i crossed the line. This was probably not the best used of MeTa.

I like you, okay? I have absolutely no desire to fight you at all. Please be open to that being true for a second.

Hey, i'm willing to take you at your word here. But i think that if that's really truly, then not just i but also you should reflect on how we engaged here that really made it seem like we were being jackasses. I can see how i came off as combative and a penis here, but i think you should really re-read what you posted before this in here and see how it came off as a pretty aggressive counterattack to what you saw as an attack. I don't think either of our styles were conductive to getting the kind of response we wanted.
posted by emptythought at 2:15 PM on March 6, 2014 [28 favorites]


I also realize that comment doesn't really present a unified face even insofar as any one message of "I'm sorry for being a dick", or clarifying stuff, or whatever. But hey, i abstained for quite a while and there was a lot i wanted to say and a lot i hoped to respond to. I'd appreciate it if people didn't start a "Well you said foo over here and now you're saying bar" or any of that kind of stuff. I am not writing my comments as episodes of a TV show with a universe bible to check in on and make sure i'm consistent with canon. opinions change, and as i said there was a lot to cover.
posted by emptythought at 2:19 PM on March 6, 2014 [4 favorites]


That would give the lie to any claim that this callout was about a pattern of commenting rather than content, because the pattern hasn't changed.

This is not necessarily true. I, myself, simultaneously consider Sara C. to be a favorite commenter, and also find the pattern of commenting in nearly every thread on AskMe to be somewhat bothersome.

We contain multitudes.
posted by ocherdraco at 2:25 PM on March 6, 2014 [20 favorites]


and that my opinion is not the norm

Just as a data point - I have absolutely no beef with Sara C. at all, and she seems like a good sort from a cursory examination - and I also think she posts way too much sometimes in a single thread. Not all the time. Just sometimes. It's nothing at all to do with her as a person, and nothing to do with her opinion.
posted by supercrayon at 2:42 PM on March 6, 2014 [2 favorites]


And you know what, now i really do feel like i'm an asshole for posting this, and that my opinion is not the norm and i'm in the minority here with all the people posting "i know sara c IRL and i love everything she posts i don't get this at all!". So yea, now i just feel like an asshole and a moron.

It's clear you aren't the only one with this opinion. Many people in this thread didn't explicitly state an opinion one way or other, and it is a mistake to make assumptions about what they believe. Some would avoid stating their agreement because it might be seen as a "pile-on." And some might want to avoid repeating things that have already been said well by others.
posted by grouse at 2:50 PM on March 6, 2014 [10 favorites]


Keep in mind that it's a little friendlier to get a reality check from a mod than a reality check from the entire userbase in a format that invites a General Referendum On This Particular User, which is googleable on the internet in perpetuity.

I have received my share of moderator reality check messages and invariably comply with their suggestions. I'm a big fan of, as someone in another MeTa said, taking a mod warning as a "be cool, yo" rather than a spanking.

This thread feels like a spanking gang-bang.


Yea, and to respond directly to this and apologize directly to you, i agree with this now and see why this is shite. I'm really sorry for posting this, and in retrospect wish i had just done that. This in assy way to handle this sort of thing or really any problem with anyone unless they're being like, offensively abusive or something.
posted by emptythought at 2:52 PM on March 6, 2014 [22 favorites]


cool of you emptythought.
posted by sweetkid at 2:56 PM on March 6, 2014 [1 favorite]


good job, ET. meta is hard. you came out nice. good job.
posted by hal_c_on at 5:20 PM on March 6, 2014


Apropos of I guess not much:

The flip side of this coin, however, is that those of us who have a tendency to be prolix have a responsibility for being more mindful about it.

Prolix and prolific don't mean the same thing - Sara C is prolific but not prolix IMO.
posted by sweetkid at 5:42 PM on March 6, 2014


What is "one's share" of moderator reality check messages, I wonder? One or two? I think that's how many I've had.
posted by desuetude at 5:52 PM on March 6, 2014 [2 favorites]


I've never had one that I know of.
posted by sweetkid at 5:54 PM on March 6, 2014


Yes it has been maybe two ever.

Cripes. I was not trying to imply that I get a stern warning from the mods on a weekly basis.
posted by Sara C. at 6:11 PM on March 6, 2014 [1 favorite]


popcorn.gif
posted by subbes at 6:19 PM on March 6, 2014 [2 favorites]


I feel Sara C.'s pain. While I am not saying it's okay to dominate a thread, I can see why it happens, especially in this case when the opposing viewpoint was so fundamentally and intellectually flawed. It's maddening.
posted by KokuRyu at 6:21 PM on March 6, 2014


I don't know, emptythought; I appreciate the fact that you posted because there's been so much good discussion in this post. I'm sorry it's been a bit rough on you and others, but I think overall people have been commenting in good faith and it's been useful.

I still feel like I'm pretty new to MeFi and it's through posts like this on MeTa that I've gleaned a sense of how to behave not just on MeFi, but in life in general. Eyebrows McGee's insight into people who argue back from a belief that they haven't been understood was actually really helpful for me. I'd already absorbed somewhere the 2/3 comments and walk away rule of thumb (obviously not set in stone). And to pause before posting, and think about whether you are actually adding anything new to the conversation, let alone anything different from what you've already said. And to remember that people on the internet are people too, and have feelings, and get really enthusiastic at times, and misinterpret each other, and all of that. Common sense, I know, but so easy to forget when all you get are words on a screen.

Not that my appreciation is anything more than a random stranger on the internet saying thanks. But I may well be representative of a whole bunch of other random strangers on the internet who also appreciate the discussion but maybe don't feel comfortable commenting. Which I almost didn't either.
posted by Athanassiel at 6:26 PM on March 6, 2014 [6 favorites]


KokuRyu, that seems fundamentally out of order. I have thus far not said what I felt was going on in that thread because it seemed in poor taste, but since my contributions were called 'fundamentally and intellectually flawed', perhaps it would be enlightening to explain what I was feeling. It felt like no matter what I said, however reasonable, Sara C would have stridently disagreed. There was no middle ground to be found. There was no coherent position being advanced, just this sort of constant swirl of positions whose only commonality was that everyone else was wrong. Somehow I don't think an accurate description of that thread is that Sara C's intellect, while admirable, dwarfed that of everyone else involved.
posted by hoyland at 6:29 PM on March 6, 2014 [11 favorites]


Athanassiel, I really disagree. I think if you have a problem with someone posting a lot, you can bring it up more in a general site issue way and not calling out one person.

I'm glad emptythought apologized, but the way the post was framed was very "anyone agree with me" which basically invited people to be all, "oh YEA here's a thing I don't like about Sara C."

It was really gross. If you think someone's posting a lot, you can flag it. I have very very often seen mods post and ask someone, by name, to "maybe dial it back." That's much better than a big public MeTa where people are tutoring one user in the ways of Metafilter and communication and etc.

Again really glad emptythought apologized and cool if you feel like posting "I'm glad someone said it because i didn't feel comfortable talking about how much Sara C annoys me" but I think it's unproductive and mean. Maybe you feel uncomfortable about it because it's mean and it's not something good to do? Maybe that.
posted by sweetkid at 6:33 PM on March 6, 2014 [1 favorite]


Oh man, see, this is why I almost didn't comment. Not on the original thread that emptythought mentioned - which I hadn't even read until seeing this MeTa - but here on this MeTa because even though I tried really hard to emphasise that it was the discussion in this thread that I found helpful and insightful, I was pretty sure someone would misinterpret my comment.

Just to try to re-explain because I clearly didn't do a great job, this MeTa has obviously been painful for a lot of people and that sucks. But there has also been some good, constructive discussion that's come out of it, and I think people have overwhelmingly been engaging with this discussion in a positive way. So my thanks isn't just to emptythought, but everyone who has been making that happen.
posted by Athanassiel at 6:41 PM on March 6, 2014 [5 favorites]


MetaTalk is available for people who have issues with the site or other people and haven't been able to resolve them through the usual channels. As I said above, we prefer that people go through a few of the usual channels first, but some people don't and it's not mandatory. I appreciate that people have greater and lesser degrees of tolerance for callouts but they're sort of part of how things function here despite the fact that they make some people uncomfortable. Mods stick pretty close to MeTa threads to make sure they don't get out of hand, but having a place on the site where members can have a less-moderated discussion about site behavior is important, despite the fact that it may sometimes be unpleasant.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:48 PM on March 6, 2014 [16 favorites]


Well, I feel like it's really weird to enter a call out thread and say basically "this was painful for a lot of people" because it's really most painful for the person who was called out and has to answer for themselves now. No one else really needs to participate. It just seems disingenuous to say "We all learned something here, we shared our shared pain" type things especially if you didn't comment yourself because you were uncomfortable.

I didn't say anything was mandatory and I'm not a mod so I couldn't say anything was mandatory. I just don't think "issues with other people" make really great threads and I think they're mean. It's not that hard to just talk about an issue a bit more generally and not so obviously solicit opinions about one user.
posted by sweetkid at 6:57 PM on March 6, 2014 [2 favorites]


So I can't compliment the MeFi community for dealing with things, even ugly things, in a constructive way? I will reiterate one last time, my comments are in no way related to anything Sara C may or may not have posted or commented on anything except this particular MeTa thread, because she is also one of the people who has been responding in good faith.

And I am now following the advice delivered elsewhere in this thread (disengage after 3 comments), and have learned yet another lesson: when your instincts tell you that your comments will be misinterpreted, they are probably right.
posted by Athanassiel at 7:04 PM on March 6, 2014 [9 favorites]


Prolix and prolific don't mean the same thing - Sara C is prolific but not prolix IMO.

I'm cognizant of what both words mean, thanks. Sara C. is certainly prolific, and she can be prolix as well. So can I. As ocherdraco says: we contain multitudes.
posted by scody at 7:29 PM on March 6, 2014 [12 favorites]


In conclusion, Hambo.
posted by naju at 7:35 PM on March 6, 2014 [7 favorites]


yea Hambo was the most useful part of this thread.
posted by sweetkid at 7:36 PM on March 6, 2014 [1 favorite]


In my experience, almost any thread that has anything at all to do with capital F "Feminism", and, generally any thread with Jezebel, is going to end in a shouting match and a MetaTalk callout.

I don't think it's because MetaFilter is anti-feminism, but rather it's because the clash between orthodoxy and heterodoxy that will do it every time.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:51 PM on March 6, 2014


I'm mostly just a lurker, but I will say that the combination of "someone is wrong on the internet!" and "must have the last word on any argument" behaviours is very noticeable, and fairly annoying. Basically I think a lot of the more prolific posters could stand to take a breather once in a while. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, and all that.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 9:18 PM on March 6, 2014 [11 favorites]


but the way the post was framed was very "anyone agree with me" which basically invited people to be all, "oh YEA here's a thing I don't like about Sara C."

To be fair, it doesn't seem like there is a way i could have framed this post that wouldn't have angered or upset several people. That's part of the problem.

Does that mean it's a bad post in concept? I'm not sure, and i don't really want to pass some kind of decisive judgement on that. But i think it's been pretty well covered above that there wasn't really any way to frame this that everyone would be happy with. I was just pretty frank about the fact that this post Is What It Is, and i feel that any other framing would be begging or implying the question that sentence was since every single "So i noticed a problem with/have a problem with this" MeTas are asking that question. I just explicitly said the words.

I just don't think "issues with other people" make really great threads and I think they're mean. It's not that hard to just talk about an issue a bit more generally and not so obviously solicit opinions about one user.

The thing is, while i guess that's what people should do to not get skewered as much as i did, those threads become that. Go ahead and go back through MeTa and find big threads about a specific issue. Within 50 comments every single one has several people come in and go "Oh, you mean like this user did here and here?" and then the thread becomes well, this. People have left over MeTas in which no one was named in the title post. The only difference is the original poster can go "well i didn't swing the hammer" even though they put down a pile of wood and a box of nails.

"This was an unjustified/overly mean/otherwise wrong attack" is a valid train of thought. "These threads are especially egregious" is murky. There's been a lot more threads like this than you might imagine at first that were wink-wink nudge-nudge not targeted at a specific user or users, but quickly became that.

I'm pretty confident that if i had started my post out with "I've noticed this behavior in this thread and this thread and it bothers me" that within a few comments someone would have "called me out" for it just being a stealth hit thread on her.

So yea, i chose what to me seemed like the high road rather than opening myself up to a blatant accusation of some passive aggressive sneak attack. And i already apologized for that. I don't know if i'll ever even make a meta again since i don't have a great track record with that.

It seems though, that sort of wink-wink nudge-nudge is what a lot of people want to see on here though(with the exception of a select few who commended me for not engaging in that chicanery). But i'll shut up before i grind my axe into a spear on that one.

This seems like a classic case of "An interesting game, the only winning move is not to play".
posted by emptythought at 9:21 PM on March 6, 2014 [5 favorites]


Is it just me?

It's not just you. I haven't commented in this thread because honestly I thought I'd feel terrible if I was called out in a Meta, like Sara C. So I didn't want to contribute to a discussion about her, specifically, however much in agreement I might be with your overall conceptual sentiment. I did, however, finally decide to comment because I do think this "prolific commenter" phenomenon is worthy of community discussion.

Whatever the situation and whomever the commenters may be, I'm really put off by the threads that are dominated by one or two people trumpeting their viewpoints. I'm already a reticent commenter and the aforementioned behavior makes me even more so. I'm really not a rule follower in general, so I'm not in favor of any sort of hard-and-fast "3 comments and buh-bye" kind of standard (not that anyone is truly advocating that), but I do wish that those more voluble amongst us would try and be mindful of those of us who are a bit more measured.
posted by hapax_legomenon at 10:23 PM on March 6, 2014 [25 favorites]


The other thing about repetitive commenting it it makes a thread pretty dull to read if you are attempting to catch up on the discussion later after the debate has happened. A thread can start really interestingly, but if a few people get very stuck in a back-and-forth that doesn't develop new ideas, the whole thing just dies on the page, and you end up not reading any further.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 10:46 PM on March 6, 2014 [19 favorites]


To be fair, it doesn't seem like there is a way i could have framed this post that wouldn't have angered or upset several people. That's part of the problem... But i think it's been pretty well covered above that there wasn't really any way to frame this that everyone would be happy with.

I'm pretty confident that if i had started my post out with "I've noticed this behavior in this thread and this thread and it bothers me" that within a few comments someone would have "called me out" for it just being a stealth hit thread on her.

So yea, i chose what to me seemed like the high road rather than opening myself up to a blatant accusation of some passive aggressive sneak attack.


It doesn't strike you that there's ANY middle ground between coyly not naming names, and using really rude language like "bullshit?" You don't think you could have clearly, honestly, and explicitly stated your issue, but done so in a polite and civil manner free of hyperbole and loaded words like "boss battle," "blasting," and "skewer?" That would have been a simple and obvious way to frame this post that would have kept from angering several people. If this is the high road, it's a high road with a lot of deep potholes in it.

yea Hambo was the most useful part of this thread.

Hambo,Hambo, where you been?
'Round the thread and back again.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 11:50 PM on March 6, 2014 [5 favorites]


Metatalk threads are a lot nicer than they used to be, even fairly contentious ones like this one. People used to be so nasty to each other. Here the two protagonists came in with some heat and managed to turn it around and be pretty gracious and cordial. The "What do you expect out of this post?" troll was resolved in a sane way with minimum derail. There was an off-tone joke that nobody went thermonuclear about, everyone sort of talked each other down. It's all kind of amazing in the context of Metatalk from a half decade ago.

I think Metatalk is completely fascinating and to an extent I see the rest of the sites as pillars that support the ongoing experiment in social governance and norm management through debate that is Metatalk, where the real, serious important work is done. I know that's kind of insane. For a long while there I had read every word ever written here, just about. I haven't been able to keep up over the last few years as my life has gotten more complex, but I'd love to have a third or fourth career as a social scientist really digging into Metatalk in a serious way. Maybe next life.
posted by Kwine at 12:43 AM on March 7, 2014 [22 favorites]


smoke: So yeah I think sometimes you could jump less fast less hard, and give yourself and others a little intellectual wiggle room. Absolutes can shut down discussion and can leave the impression a person is saying "I don't have anything more to learn" - which is very rarely the case, imho.

and scody: I seriously went through a process on Metafilter where I had to come to grips with the fact that I am not the smartest person in the room. I also had to come to grips with the fact that this is not an environment where the object of the game is to win or lose the argument.

Quoting from two of the most useful comments, IMO, in the thread. Just wanted to add something in this vein. One thing you (general you) could think about, in addition to quantity of posts: Do you ask questions on the blue? Do you ever say, "Huh, good point, I hadn't thought of that"? Or seek clarification of a POV different from yours, before jumping in to make a contrary (or contrarian) point?

In real life, you pretty much have to have this kind of give-and-take, or people will think you're a dick (I've been there). Metafilter's somewhat different, I know. For one thing, it can be harder to know when another commenter might have more expertise on a subject or more life experience than you do, so that some deference might be in order. But I think it's useful to consider that either or both of those are likely true of other commenters in any given thread. Useful, I mean, for maintaining a conversational tone as opposed to coming across like "You all are doing it wrong."
posted by torticat at 1:41 AM on March 7, 2014 [5 favorites]


Metatalk threads are a lot nicer than they used to be, even fairly contentious ones like this one. People used to be so nasty to each other. ... It's all kind of amazing in the context of Metatalk from a half decade ago.

Yeah, or a decade and more ago. Didn't it used to be fairly common for people to be called out by name in Metatalk for not-such-egregious offenses? Not that a kinder, gentler Meta is a bad thing! I'm just wondering if my perception is off. (I've been reading under this and an earlier name since, oh, 2000 or 2001, and definitely feel that Meta used to be a tougher place.)
posted by torticat at 1:50 AM on March 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


Kwine: I think Metatalk is completely fascinating and to an extent I see the rest of the sites as pillars that support the ongoing experiment in social governance and norm management through debate that is Metatalk, where the real, serious important work is done. I know that's kind of insane. For a long while there I had read every word ever written here, just about. I haven't been able to keep up over the last few years as my life has gotten more complex, but I'd love to have a third or fourth career as a social scientist really digging into Metatalk in a serious way. Maybe next life.

THAT. Exactly that and all of that. Not insane at all. I always turn to the Grey (let's talk about us) before the Blue (let's talk about this online thing) and the Green (let's talk about me). Have done so for a long while, even before becoming a signed-up MeFi.
posted by Wordshore at 4:20 AM on March 7, 2014 [5 favorites]


yes torticat, the direct nasty callout used to definitely be a thing and is no longer, to the point where any callout these days will always have lots of comments about how this is uncomfortable and gross.

also agree with kwine-- i was noticing as well that there have been a lot of apologies in this thread and can't remember where this many little fires were put out without incident. and most of the criticism has been phrased politely, using the structure "something positive, something critical, end on a good note."

i mean "i value you as a user, but this one thing that was brought up here, yeah could you maybe not do that so much? but it's not just you, i see it a lot, and i used to a lot more, and here's my personal way of dealing which you may or may not find helpful. anyway, keep contributing you valuable contributor you!" is pretty gentle as these (negative callout) things go.
posted by twist my arm at 7:11 AM on March 7, 2014 [5 favorites]




i mean "i value you as a user, but this one thing that was brought up here, yeah could you maybe not do that so much? but it's not just you, i see it a lot, and i used to a lot more, and here's my personal way of dealing which you may or may not find helpful. anyway, keep contributing you valuable contributor you!" is pretty gentle as these (negative callout) things go.


Are you talking about the original OP or the comments? If the comments, I sort of agree, but also think the kindergarteny "here's how to engage, little one" style of a lot of these comments were a little gross and could have been dialed back. I guess it was mostly fine, but I wouldn't like my site behavior called out in that way. I don't think most people would.
posted by sweetkid at 7:19 AM on March 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


Of course no-one would. Personally, it would shatter my poor fragile heart. If I was being obnoxious I would hope that a Meta would be the last course of action. But as much as I hate being criticised, I hate even more being unaware that I'm being obnoxious in a way that I didn't even particularly realise was obnoxious. A heads up in some form is not a bad thing.
posted by h00py at 7:53 AM on March 7, 2014 [3 favorites]


"Obnoxious" is completely subjective, I fully realise that.
posted by h00py at 7:53 AM on March 7, 2014


I just think the "some form" is getting a comment in thread from a mod because people have flagged the user's behavior enough. It seems clear from the original OP that emptythought didn't understand that mods don't watch and interact in an official way in threads unless there's flagging. So I think something to be learned here is that more people could take that avenue rather than a public callout.
posted by sweetkid at 8:01 AM on March 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


How do I flag a behavior? I can only flag a comment, and one of the reasons this behavior is so hard to come to terms with and one reason why this thread is so contentious is that each individual comment isn't particularly objectionable.
posted by muddgirl at 8:36 AM on March 7, 2014 [6 favorites]


...and could even a fantastic comment taken on its own.
posted by muddgirl at 8:37 AM on March 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


The Underpants Monster: It doesn't strike you that there's ANY middle ground between coyly not naming names, and using really rude language like "bullshit?" You don't think you could have clearly, honestly, and explicitly stated your issue, but done so in a polite and civil manner free of hyperbole and loaded words like "boss battle," "blasting," and "skewer?"

emptythought has issued numerous gracious and sincere apologies to the thread for the original framing, and a gracious and sincere apology directly to Sara C.

Most everyone here who has mentioned Sara C. has gone out of their way to be generous to her: they've offered themselves up as examples of people who have been over-commenters themselves, they've said actually like her and her comments, that she's got a good heart and is coming from a good place, etc.

I understand the desire to defend and protect a friend, but I don't know why it's so difficult to accept that the way the most prolific user here (by far) interacts with the site might have a disproportionally large impact on that site, and that the community might want to constructively discuss that impact, even if you don't agree.

People have been trying to have this conversation using generalizations, insinuations, and yes, passive-aggressive comments for months and I honestly believe it's precisely because no one wanted to be mean to Sara C.

sweetkid, I know you're trying to be a good friend but trying to shut down people making calm and reasonable personal statements seems to re-igniting the debate, which is probably the opposite effect you're going for. I do agree that the mod contact/flagging elemnet of this MeTa has been very educational for a lot of people and hopefully this will reduce the number of future call-outs.
posted by Room 641-A at 9:29 AM on March 7, 2014 [43 favorites]


(..and I can see now that I missed the whole flagging discussion yesterday, so feel free to ignore my last couple of comments as being hypocritically ignorant of prior conversation. In the future i will make more of an effort to email mods when I feel like a flag is insufficiently informative.)
posted by muddgirl at 9:35 AM on March 7, 2014


Metatalk:"An interesting game, the only winning move is not to play".
posted by hal_c_on at 9:46 AM on March 7, 2014


Bullshit, hal_c_on, the idea is to just play nicely. It's not that hard.
posted by h00py at 9:50 AM on March 7, 2014


Also, to be pedantic, the correct quote is, "A strange game. The only winning move is not to play."
posted by Chrysostom at 9:53 AM on March 7, 2014


I find it either a little hard to believe or a little upsetting that this is something "everybody has known about for months" when zero people including friends, site regulars noticing a pattern, and mods have said anything to me about it privately.

I don't really understand the preference for ongoing passive aggressive (or just regular aggressive) callouts when literally any mefite could have just said something without all the public shaming. I'd have even been fine with a heads up in the thread that started this MeTa. "Hey Sara C, we're totally picking up what you're putting down. Could you give some other people a turn to talk?" would have been a lot better than starting a callout MeTa inviting everybody on the site to pile on.

This is something that I literally did not realize was a problem until now. Nobody ever asked me to not do this, or even pointed out that I was doing this, or even pointed out that there were unspoken Metafilter guidelines about this. So it feels just a smidge junior high to be all "everybody KNOWS Sara C is like X and we all have a huge problem with it".

Just tell me.

The first option really should not be a callout MeTa.
posted by Sara C. at 9:54 AM on March 7, 2014 [6 favorites]


emptythought has issued numerous gracious and sincere apologies to the thread for the original framing, and a gracious and sincere apology directly to Sara C.

And then after offering those apologies emptythought again opined that framing the post differently would have just been beating around the bush. That's just not true and it was perfectly appropriate for The Underpants Monster to point that out. You can directly point out a problem and even call-out a person by name without swearing at them and using aggressive language.
posted by Area Man at 9:55 AM on March 7, 2014 [2 favorites]


We're adults here, and I think we can use the word "bullshit" to describe a behavior that we think is bullshit.
posted by muddgirl at 10:05 AM on March 7, 2014 [2 favorites]


Bullshit is great word. Very earthy.
posted by h00py at 10:08 AM on March 7, 2014


mods have said anything to me about it privately.

Not trying to be all "Nuh uh" about this, but this is actually not the case. We haven't talked to you a LOT but we've sent a few notes.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:12 AM on March 7, 2014 [7 favorites]


FWIW, I have seen mod comments that say "maybe dial it back Sara C" but also "maybe dial it back corb" and "maybe dial it back xuser and yuser because you guys have done a ton of back and forth about this and maybe take it to memail."

I assume those comments are the result of flags. That's why I think flags are better than callouts like this.

I have no idea if people have "known this for months" or whatever, but I know if I see a thread about TV or gentrification or a few other topics that Sara C will post in those. It seems like many comments but not ALL THE COMMENTS and not in a "Take all comers" sort of way, or a trolly "hey, this is just me spitballin', but can't everyone be a little less sensitive" sort of way or any of the other ways that really annoy me about other frequent commenters.

So I didn't think it was an issue either.
posted by sweetkid at 10:13 AM on March 7, 2014


To be fair, even if it's not directly said, I think the onus is still at least partially on people to read the room for themselves. In this example, halfway through the thread the comments rebutting Sara C. started to get very exasperated in tone - and there were a bunch of complaints about how the thread was turning without directly referencing Sara C. - which would have been inappropriate for the blue anyway. In fact, I see emptythought making a comment in the FPP directly referencing the dynamic going on in it, and I could easily see why he'd escalate into making this MeTa after that didn't work because Sara C. just kept going for several comments after that. So I mean, it's no one's responsibility - and hardly respectful or in lines with guidelines - to explicitly point out these behaviors, and we can't be asking people to do so if the person that's taking up all the oxygen in the room isn't actively monitoring their own behavior and is oblivious to repeated hints and tenor.

I'm being blunt, I don't think Sara C. is a bad person and I'm using the fpp as an example of a larger trend, but this is what I saw going on. There wasn't a sudden jump from "no one is saying anything" to "SURPRISE META". I was not even surprised this came to MeTa in the end after all that.
posted by Conspire at 10:24 AM on March 7, 2014 [17 favorites]


Sara C.: "I find it either a little hard to believe or a little upsetting that this is something "everybody has known about for months" when zero people including friends, site regulars noticing a pattern, and mods have said anything to me about it privately. "

I apologize in advance for bringing him up, but it's been discussed in Meta before so....

The Whelk comments like a madman. He's quite literally one of the (if not the) most prolific people on this site, and a reasonably large percentage of his comments are one-liners that don't contain a great deal of context. And I gotta admit I find that annoying every once in a while. But we've met in real life. The Whelk's a super nice guy. I like him a lot. His comments are often hilarious or insightful and it's not like I don't do that same one-liner commenting thing myself all the time. Plus, people are entitled to comment without having to conform to my personal, quirky sensibilities.

So I don't say anything. Because I'd rather not make him feel bad and heaven-forbid stop what he's doing. I'd hate to be the cause of him throttling back.

I agree with you that a callout meta probably isn't the best first option. But the assumption you're making that random users or friends would be likely to say something even privately... I know I wouldn't unless what you were doing hit a particular threshold. And if we weren't friends I'd be a LOT more likely to disengage completely than stay in a thread. That's just me, though. Other people might feel differently.
posted by zarq at 10:25 AM on March 7, 2014 [5 favorites]


I also want to repeat something I said upthread... I didn't feel you were stifling conversation in the original thread. And you're not really on my radar as someone who does. I'm just adding a data point that I hope is helpful. :)
posted by zarq at 10:27 AM on March 7, 2014


To be fair, it doesn't seem like there is a way i could have framed this post that wouldn't have angered or upset several people.

Then you should have used the contact form instead. Or held your tongue entirely.

emptythought has issued numerous gracious and sincere apologies to the thread for the original framing, and a gracious and sincere apology directly to Sara C.

Talk about having your cake and eating it too.

This wasn't the 'community' discussing mores, it was poo flinging. Piss on that noise.

Allowing these by-name call-out posts is MetaFilter's one unforgivably egregious policy lapse. It needs to stop now.
posted by Pudhoho at 10:28 AM on March 7, 2014 [2 favorites]


Oh, poo. Allowing? Leave it up to the people as to what is socially acceptable or not.

As has been mentioned above, meta used to be much nastier. It's not so nasty now because people have thrashed shit out here and acceptable discourse changes based on what is basically agreed on (is don't be a dick universally acceptable now?)

It's for the greater good. *the greater good*
posted by h00py at 10:37 AM on March 7, 2014


I think there's plenty of space for a thread about commenting too much in a thread and sucking up the oxygen. But the way this thread was framed, some of the side comments, and the way it went early on this was not that thread.

Framing matters, and I find especially ironic how poorly this thread was framed when the originating post was a social justice thread worried about how outrage alone works but may be toxic to long term goals.
posted by aspo at 10:40 AM on March 7, 2014


Town hall like call-outs suck, but some political philosophies have managed to find a lot of good in the process of working individual call-outs out.

So I think the individualistic reasonably don't like them because they suck and are and feel like pile-ons but I think communities tend to get communal understandings out of them since there are so many participants who are saying how they feel about the topic and person at hand.

I've been the subject of some call-outs and I sure as hell didn't enjoy them. With a long view, though, I've been able to look back at them and get something out of them. Something that usually ended up making me a better, more solid contributor to society at large. Usually.
posted by kalessin at 10:46 AM on March 7, 2014


Pudhoho: " Allowing these by-name call-out posts is MetaFilter's one unforgivably egregious policy lapse. It needs to stop now."

IMO, the main effect that would have would be that the MeTas that did get posted would be more oblique and passive-aggressive about things.
posted by Lexica at 10:51 AM on March 7, 2014 [4 favorites]


To be fair, it doesn't seem like there is a way i could have framed this post that wouldn't have angered or upset several people.

Then you should have used the contact form instead. Or held your tongue entirely.


Agreed, there was nothing fair about this post. it seemed entirely framed to come to site consensus about how Sara C sucks as a poster. Also, glad you apologized but it seemed like in your small text you had no idea that you can flag comments in a thread to get mod attention to those threads. If you flag a series of her comments, you'll likely get the mod attention you want, or they'll decide it's not necessary.

So it seems like that's something you could have or maybe did learn here. But instead it seemed like Sara C needed to be the only person who had something to learn. Never mind that there are a lot of people who comment a lot and dominate threads. I don't think it's appropriate to call them out, and also a lot of them are really popular (so funny! so eloquent!) so it doesn't really seem worth my while.
posted by sweetkid at 10:51 AM on March 7, 2014 [2 favorites]


why focus on the framing of the post when the thread has turned into something else despite that? i see many comments that cite the bad framing and then move on to try to make productive contributions. i see many who say Sara C is not the only one, regardless of how you took the original framing. and i see lurkers who say, like you, they notice and dislike the thread-sitting even from popular users and were mixed or torn as to what to do and hopefully have seen others agreeing with them and will perhaps in the future be more willing to flag/memail/use contact form.

it is easy, especially since the flag/memail/contact form stuff is invisible, to think hey, looks like i'm the only one, i don't want to rock the boat on this, maybe i'm just a party pooper. that doesn't mean nobody else agrees with you, and, if enough people think that's something we can work on, well maybe it's worth it to enough people to gently change the site dynamic away from it.
posted by twist my arm at 11:06 AM on March 7, 2014 [11 favorites]


The Whelk comments like a madman.

Which, I mean, this is sort of the dilemma at the heart of being a heavy participant somewhere, right? Because The Whelk is another person who comments a bunch, and is another person who folks sometimes gripe about on that front, and is another person we've talked to as mods now and then about maybe cranking it back a little, etc, and is also a totally nice, funny guy who just likes being here, and none of that is totally cleanly separable. And this goes for a bunch of people on mefi right now, and many more over the years. Some people are naturally pretty talkative; I'm as I said above very much in that mold too.

Being talkative isn't bad at all, but it can be a source of friction if you lose track a bit of the reality of the impact of your own participation on everybody else around you, so being mindful of how and when and why you're engaging, and whether you're carrying a particular pattern of engagement from one venue where it really fits to another venue where it doesn't so much, is really important.

Never mind that there are a lot of people who comment a lot and dominate threads.

Well, I think folks in this thread have done a pretty good job of acknowledging that this is indeed a thing that applies to lots of folks, and it's been noted more than once that there's definitely more overall community value in talking about the general phenomenon than just talking about one user's behavior in isolation, but it's also okay to talk in Metatalk about what you see as problematic behavior from a user. I totally get that you feel like Sara C. was wronged here but you've made this position pretty clear at this point and I think people have heard you, so maybe let this rest now?
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:07 AM on March 7, 2014 [18 favorites]


yea I just thought we were having a conversation here.
posted by sweetkid at 11:24 AM on March 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


some political philosophies have managed to find a lot of good in the process of working individual call-outs out.

I deeply disagree (having been part of the political scenes you're referring to) and think it's really problematic to assume that just because a certain political scene does something, therefore it is best policy for metafilter.
posted by Sara C. at 11:28 AM on March 7, 2014 [2 favorites]


yea I just thought we were having a conversation here.

Forgive my bluntness, but it felt less like a conversation to me but a repeated personal chastisement of emptythought after he had apologied multiple times and had been attacked rather viciously in the thread previously, while ignoring the whole tone and tenor of the thread which had largely moved on.

Which was ironic on multiple levels given this MeTa.
posted by Conspire at 11:32 AM on March 7, 2014 [23 favorites]


Not trying to play gotcha or anything like that, but we briefly toed the waters of "do some people comment in AskMe too much?", including a drive-by accusation that you do, in a MeTa you opened back in December.
posted by SpiffyRob at 11:35 AM on March 7, 2014 [7 favorites]


I actually don't have an issue with emptythought and said repeatedly I appreciated his apology, it was more the "thank you for your service" and "this is the only way we could alleviate our pain" type comments that rankled me.
posted by sweetkid at 11:36 AM on March 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


Then perhaps you should be addressing that directly instead of making a single member the brunt of your complaints as well? You're right when you say it's not just Sara C. that has something to learn here - but it's not just emptythought too.
posted by Conspire at 11:39 AM on March 7, 2014 [2 favorites]


Which is to say, not personally singling you out ina passive aggressive way even though I'm aiming at you, sweetkid, but this is a community discussion for a reason.
posted by Conspire at 11:40 AM on March 7, 2014


I definitely don't mean to be singling out emptythought so apologies if it seems that way. However, still seems like people are making some sort of focus out of Sara C's comments even this far down in the thread -- see SpiffyRob's contribution.
posted by sweetkid at 11:42 AM on March 7, 2014


Enough, maybe?
posted by gman at 11:44 AM on March 7, 2014 [3 favorites]


Sweetkid, I think you should take cortex's comments to heart: I think we all get that you're a really big fan of Sara C. and you want to help defend her and that's great, but you're kind of modeling the same over-and-over-and-take-on-all-comers posting that people have been posting about in this thread.
posted by jetlagaddict at 11:46 AM on March 7, 2014 [27 favorites]


think it's really problematic to assume that just because a certain political scene does something, therefore it is best policy for metafilter.

That's not what I said. I said that some folks find the process helpful, I have also been subject to the process and I have found it helpful. I didn't say anything about how it's the best policy for Metafilter and I feel like you are putting words in my mouth to say that I did.
posted by kalessin at 11:46 AM on March 7, 2014 [4 favorites]


I don’t think SpiffyRob's comment is malicious or anything when Sara C. just recently said that she felt this was sudden and was paranoid about people talking behind her back about her - if anything, I think it's to demonstrate that this has been an ongoing low background buzz that people are open to discussing. I think that's good to put forward if Sara C. herself has explicitly invited people to point these things out directly to her, which I very much appreciated.
posted by Conspire at 11:48 AM on March 7, 2014 [2 favorites]


Which, I mean, this is sort of the dilemma at the heart of being a heavy participant somewhere, right? Because The Whelk is another person who comments a bunch, and is another person who folks sometimes gripe about on that front, and is another person we've talked to as mods now and then about maybe cranking it back a little

I've thought for a long time that the site benefits greatly from having one or two Mr. Congeniality types banging around, and has since that one sunny day when MiguelCardoso showed up (and Miguel was way more controversial in his era for several reasons).
posted by furiousthought at 11:49 AM on March 7, 2014 [2 favorites]


--The Underpants Monster: It doesn't strike you that there's ANY middle ground between coyly not naming names, and using really rude language like "bullshit?" You don't think you could have clearly, honestly, and explicitly stated your issue, but done so in a polite and civil manner free of hyperbole and loaded words like "boss battle," "blasting," and "skewer?"

-emptythought has issued numerous gracious and sincere apologies to the thread for the original framing, and a gracious and sincere apology directly to Sara C.


Yes, there were some “I’m sorry you were upset by the things that didn’t come out like I meant them” – type apologies (I’m sure they were sincere, but I don’t know if I’d personally go as far as gracious), and if it had been left at that, I wouldn’t have said another word on the subject.

It was only because emptythought went on after that to further justify the post with 500 words about how they had no other choice but to write it the way they did, that it was taking the high road, that writing it in a civil manner would have made things worse, and on and on. What’s the point of apologizing for a rudely-written post, and then immediately going on to give a lecture on how it was the right, reasonable, well-mannered - the only - thing to do?
posted by The Underpants Monster at 11:49 AM on March 7, 2014 [6 favorites]


Regardless of if his apology was magnanimous enough or not - I think is fine if he discusses his rationale and saves a little face, just as Sara C. did in her follow-up comments after her apology - I'm uncomfortable with shifting targeted personal focus from one user to another. That is missing the whole point.
posted by Conspire at 11:55 AM on March 7, 2014 [4 favorites]


I want to correct something I think was supposed to be quoting me:
Sara C.: "I find it either a little hard to believe or a little upsetting that this is something "everybody has known about for months"
If this is a reference to my comment
“People have been trying to have this conversation using generalizations, insinuations, and yes, passive-aggressive comments for months and I honestly believe it's precisely because no one wanted to be mean to Sara C.”
then you have mischaracterized what I said. On preview, SpiffyRob actually gave examples of what I was talking about.

I’m going to be super cheesy now and quote Boyd Crowder from Justified:
“I’ve been accused of being a lot of things. Inarticulate ain’t one of them.”
I realize people disagree with things I've said here. I looked over my comments and I’m satisfied that I have expressed myself effectively so I’m going to bow out of this thread now.
posted by Room 641-A at 12:03 PM on March 7, 2014 [3 favorites]


I don’t think SpiffyRob's comment is malicious or anything...

It's crystal clear that SpiffyRob read no further than the title before he linked that particular AskMe.
Read the question and some of the answers and you'll understand.
posted by Pudhoho at 12:03 PM on March 7, 2014


Just so everybody knows -- I'm removing this thread from my Recent Activity and am unlikely to continue following it.
posted by Sara C. at 12:06 PM on March 7, 2014 [4 favorites]


Take your crystals in for polishing: Your standards for clarity are lacking.

I didn't link to an AskMe, I linked to a MeTa. The MeTa was started as something 100% irrelevant to this conversation, but turned into something 100% relevant. And then irrelevant again many times over. It was a hoot, that one was.
posted by SpiffyRob at 12:37 PM on March 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


And further, not meant to be malicious at all. I was just offering a counterpoint, much like Jessamyn did, to the idea that there hadn't been any sort of discussion of this before. I'm just pointing out that this isn't the first time we've broached this topic, focused on a particular user or otherwise.
posted by SpiffyRob at 12:40 PM on March 7, 2014 [7 favorites]


yea I just thought we were having a conversation here.

You know what, since this thread has pretty much run it's course i might as well bring up something i thought was crap here.

I mean someone else already called you out on it, but you're pretty much doing exactly what the thread is about in the first place in a fairly amusing ironic way, which is belaboring your point endlessly.

Yea, we get it, you think this was rude and fucked up. And then when someone calls you on doing that you drop a snarky comment like this.

What service to any conversation we'd be, or are having is that? you've basically been doing donuts over that point for a good while now.

If you're trying to take the high road here, you're doing it in name only. this is a crappy approach and doesn't exactly announce "Certified fair trade Good Faith!" on the package to me.
posted by emptythought at 2:04 PM on March 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


emptythought,

You yourself repeatedly posted in this thread often covering the same or similar points. You don't seem to be able to let it go. You apologized at one point, but then couldn't let that be your last word so then you had to come back into the thread to again justify your approach to the FPP. And now you had to weigh in one more time to attack sweetkid for taking a "crappy approach" and to suggest she is not acting in good faith.

What do you wish Sara C. had done in the original thread? Have you done that here?
posted by Area Man at 2:26 PM on March 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


okay, dude, I think you've gotten a raw deal in this thread because it kind of turned into an XTREEM version of "person who posts the MeTa is fair game!" (which is a trend that I've noticed on an unpleasant rise lately), but your last comment is an example where you REALLY should've reconsidered if it was something that you, personally, needed to respond to in the thread (especially since, as you yourself pointed out, sweetkid's kind of been told to walk it back by a lot of other people since the comment you quoted.)
posted by kagredon at 2:29 PM on March 7, 2014 [2 favorites]


So proud. Much community. Best of the Web. Wow.
posted by five fresh fish at 2:37 PM on March 7, 2014


you're pretty much doing exactly what the thread is about in the first place in a fairly amusing ironic way, which is belaboring your point endlessly.

!!!

posted by 0 at 2:38 PM on March 7, 2014


you already made that joke in here, fff
posted by kagredon at 2:39 PM on March 7, 2014


Yea, alright. I'll give it a rest.


Can we close this up? it really isn't just me saying the same shit over and over at this point.
posted by emptythought at 2:40 PM on March 7, 2014


Well damn my shibe mind. Guess I'm just all ultra-impressed with this thread.
posted by five fresh fish at 2:43 PM on March 7, 2014


if you like, we can start keeping lists of who doesn't post in contentious metas, and then people will know how high-mindedly above-it-all you are without you having to even post!
posted by kagredon at 2:44 PM on March 7, 2014 [6 favorites]


I think your disdain is pretty clear in this and what feels like every meta lately. No need to keep popping in and reminding everyone how much you loathe us.
posted by smoke at 2:44 PM on March 7, 2014 [4 favorites]


Jinx
posted by smoke at 2:45 PM on March 7, 2014


Allowing these by-name call-out posts is MetaFilter's one unforgivably egregious policy lapse. It needs to stop now.

Agree wholeheartedly. I think the site would be much better if they weren't allowed.

If enough individuals feel strongly enough to contact the mods privately to voice concerns about a specific user, then the mods can judiciously take appropriate action -- whether that appropriate action involves MeMail'd guidance, an in-thread mod warning, or a forced leave of absence or outright ban for the problematic user.

Trial-by-mob isn't an effective or fair way to encourage community-minded behavior. It's grotesque.
posted by nacho fries at 3:29 PM on March 7, 2014 [3 favorites]


I love too express discontent through doge memes
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 3:31 PM on March 7, 2014


> Trial-by-mob isn't an effective or fair way to encourage community-minded behavior. It's grotesque.

I wonder if people ever go outside. There's no trial here. Did we come to a verdict? No witches were burned and any ruffling that could go on here is really trivial, be honest with yourself.
posted by planetesimal at 4:38 PM on March 7, 2014 [9 favorites]


Allowing these by-name call-out posts is MetaFilter's one unforgivably egregious policy lapse. It needs to stop now.

It's not going to. Set your expectations accordingly. MeTa is optional entirely even for the people who are the subject of callouts. But there needs to be a public place for people to talk about site norms and those sometimes include other people's behavior. This is something that has been baked in to the site since we have had MetaTalk and it's not something that we're considering changing by fiat. We've been very on hand to discuss the specifics of this callout and ways it could have gone better, but not having callouts be an available option is not on the table.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:56 PM on March 7, 2014 [16 favorites]


MeTa is optional entirely even for the people who are the subject of callouts

Participation in the site as a whole is optional (except for the paid pros, such as yourself, of course). People who need a "safer" place to post because they feel overwhelmed by the quantity of another person's posts are free to abstain from threads, or the site as a whole.

That's a freedom that I think is not truly available to someone who has been called out in a Meta. I think it stretches the bounds of belief a bit to think that someone would opt to sit on their hands while a bunch of people put them under the microscope and scrutinize their behavior in sometimes uncharitable ways; those people not being willing perhaps to confront the person directly (via MeMail) or at least have a private chit-chat with the mods to get a more historical perspective on the "person of interest."

I hear you loud and clear that site policy is locked on this particular issue, but I think we shouldn't justify it by making less-than-realistic assumptions about human behavior (that people will have the will or desire to let themselves be criticized without standing up for themselves).
posted by nacho fries at 6:05 PM on March 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


I wonder if people ever go outside.

I got a sunburn today, and I think I have sand stuck in some rather immodest places. It was gorgeous here at the beach...thanks for asking.
posted by nacho fries at 6:08 PM on March 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


I think we shouldn't justify it by making less-than-realistic assumptions about human behavior

People have done it. One of the larger issues with callouts and how they are handled in MeTa is that a lot of people overgeneralize their own feelings about them into something that they feel should be site policy. I'm a mod and part of my job is dealing with a lot of particularly noxious personal and nasty callouts so I'm clearly not an average user in this respect. That said, there are a lot of people who feel that the idea of callouts entirely is so anathema to how they want this site to be that it bothers them and they demand it were otherwise. And they seem to believe that their subjective experience is the same as everyone else's.

I understand that people have strong feelings about this and I don't mean to diminish them, but being accountable for your actions here in MetaTalk is part of the package of this lightly moderated site. Not everyone's strong suit, certainly. It's my feeling that self-moderation goes a long way towards making one's MeFi experience more hassle-free. We're available for backchannel conversation if people want to kibitz (about themselves or others) to try to make this work better for them. However we see a lot of people who, despite whatever advice we or others may give them, choose their own path here. That is their right (usually) but it may come with some pushback from us and from other users. And what that happens there's often a handful of people who feel that any sort of callout (by mods, by users, over MeMail, in threads) isn't okay. And I feel that we have to set expectations accurately to say that it's going to happen. Doesn't mean that people need to like it, but talking about things out in the open (and not having mods always be intermediating) is part of it.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:14 PM on March 7, 2014 [4 favorites]


If enough individuals feel strongly enough to contact the mods privately to voice concerns about a specific user, then the mods can judiciously take appropriate action -- whether that appropriate action involves MeMail'd guidance, an in-thread mod warning, or a forced leave of absence or outright ban for the problematic user.

I honestly cannot understand why anyone would prefer to be blindsided in this way, though. It may not be pleasant to be on the receiving end of a MetaTalk callout, but at least the complaint is out there in the open, you know who is making it and who agrees or disagrees with it, and you have a chance to speak to the criticism. If someone is unhappy with my actions (or perceived actions), I would far rather have the chance to hear and respond to the criticism and face my critic (or even attacker, whatever) personally,

To me, your idea of individuals writing the mods behind the poster's back feels truly passive-aggressive, and much closer to mob rule than what happened here.

Personal attacks suck, no question. I have had people question my motives here on MetaTalk before, and yes, it felt awful and I personally felt unjustly attacked. I try, and in fact I think most people try, NOT to be a jerk, and to be told that's how you are coming off is never going to make anyone feel good! But at least it is out there in the open, and you can respond, and sometimes you will even get support from other users amid the pile-on.
posted by misha at 7:40 PM on March 7, 2014 [7 favorites]


If this many people are uncomfortable with the idea of personal callouts even being allowed in the first place, I certainly don’t think it’s unreasonable that they might need to be held to a certain standard of civility.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:06 PM on March 7, 2014 [2 favorites]


As was mentioned here, this callout is virtually the picture of civility compared to how callouts used to go 10 or even 5 years ago. MetaFilter has been evolving for a long time in terms of dealing with conflict, and I'm confident it will continue to evolve.
posted by scody at 8:36 PM on March 7, 2014 [12 favorites]


Are there like Khan Academy lessons in semiotics & signalling & game theory we could have everyone watch? Because the signalling value of a Metatalk callout is very different from the signalling value of a Mail callout, and I don't know how much more effective one or the other is, do mods?
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 8:36 PM on March 7, 2014


Effective in what, getting a person to change behavior? Not sure. I imagine some people would respond better to a private message of some kind, and some to a public thing. I think framing things in a way that doesn't immediately get the person's back up is a good idea, as far as convincing them to listen to you -- and that would apply to a private or public message.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 8:45 PM on March 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


If enough individuals feel strongly enough to contact the mods privately to voice concerns about a specific user, then the mods can judiciously take appropriate action -- whether that appropriate action involves MeMail'd guidance, an in-thread mod warning, or a forced leave of absence or outright ban for the problematic user.

A perfect recipe for bullying. Get your cadre/tribe/warriors/team/pals together and you can eliminate "problematic" users. Even a judicious mod is going to be deeply influenced by a shift in the Overton window. Over time, behind the scenes group efforts can effect change. Nasty game, that. Rather counter to the spirit of MeFi.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:07 PM on March 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


Fff, it's also possible the mods could react to a sudden mob of people complaining about one user by going to the mob themselves and asking "what's got you all het up all of a sudden? Maybe you all are the problem."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:19 PM on March 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


Any professionally-minded group would use simple scripts to ensure they don't seem mob like. Space the flagging, randomize the participants. Organize a Fight Club in your spy centre/multi-national corporation/whatever. Script a message to a subset of your group to perform certain tasks — favourite a certain post, flag other posts, email mods, etc. Anyone with money, mad power, or fervant belief & a big social circle/charisma could pull it off.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:45 PM on March 7, 2014


…and groupies who will dedicate the time & effort to develop the credibility of an account, assuming mods see the names/uids of flaggers.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:48 PM on March 7, 2014


God Bless America
posted by planetesimal at 11:57 PM on March 7, 2014


No, you totally caught us. The only possible explanation is that there is a pointlessly evil cabal and outrageously organized conspiracy out there to systematically discredit anyone who disagrees with them on incredibly minor points on an online website, because the mere thought of multiple people independently making observations and having opinions that are not yours is too unbelievable to possibly be true.

Oh and apparently the mods are on this too. Apparently. So maybe you can stop going on about how much you hate us and how we're all sheeple and how we're all out to get you, now that you realize it won't change a thing?
posted by Conspire at 12:10 AM on March 8, 2014 [12 favorites]


Hey it could be worse. I make 4 comments in a 100 comment thread and I'm accused by mods of "flooding the thread" and have 2 of them deleted. Like this one will be.
posted by NiceKitty at 12:17 AM on March 8, 2014


Your own MeTa was closed for a reason. Don't hijack this one.
posted by Conspire at 12:18 AM on March 8, 2014 [7 favorites]


five fresh fish: A perfect recipe for bullying. Get your cadre/tribe/warriors/team/pals together and you can eliminate "problematic" users. Even a judicious mod is going to be deeply influenced by a shift in the Overton window. Over time, behind the scenes group efforts can effect change. Nasty game, that. Rather counter to the spirit of MeFi.

Ding ding ding!

I have some e-mails between myself and the mods I would love to show you! But they were big meanies and wanted to keep it pwivate. No problem -- I actually wanted to talk about it in public anyhow! What a great opportunity we have found here! It'll be a dandy experiment. =)

Let's play a fun fun game of click the link. Try to get it before they delete this message. You gotta be fast....

Ready?? Go! click the link

Back to your regularly scheduled Metafilter. It's been real, folks!

Psst lemme know how long this message lasts! ;) Longer than me? Oooo I'm so excited!!
posted by NiceKitty at 12:38 AM on March 8, 2014


NiceKitty, you're not doing yourself, or indeed anyone, any favours here.
posted by Too-Ticky at 12:43 AM on March 8, 2014 [6 favorites]


...drumroll...
posted by NiceKitty at 12:44 AM on March 8, 2014


Take a break, NiceKitty.
posted by taz (staff) at 12:45 AM on March 8, 2014 [8 favorites]


You are fully aware of the meatpuppeting of wikipedia, downvote brigades on Reddit, the latest NSA leaks, and the Clams back in the alt.religion.scientology era. Groups do organize to do dirty tricks. Some users do maintain an inventory of user names, old posts by same, and use back-channels to stir the shit. There is no reason to disbelieve that some groups will conspire to shift the culture or chase people off in addition to ordinary, organic social pressures. Your mockery is asinine.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:18 AM on March 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


There is no reason to disbelieve a group could try some high-school means of ganging up on someone, you're correct about that.

But there is also no reason to believe the mods are dumb enough to fall for it when they do, is my point.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:31 AM on March 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


No, you totally caught us. The only possible explanation is that there is a pointlessly evil cabal and outrageously organized conspiracy out there to systematically discredit anyone who disagrees with them on incredibly minor points on an online website, because the mere thought of multiple people independently making observations and having opinions that are not yours is too unbelievable to possibly be true.

Oh and apparently the mods are on this too. Apparently. So maybe you can stop going on about how much you hate us and how we're all sheeple and how we're all out to get you, now that you realize it won't change a thing?
posted by Conspire at 8:10 AM on March 8 [+] [!]


eponycabaltastic
posted by romakimmy at 1:38 AM on March 8, 2014 [3 favorites]


NiceKitty, I read the correspondence at the link you provided and I urge you to seek a mental health evaluation from a medical professional. I don't intend that in a mean or dismissive way -- I am worried that the level of paranoia you are exhibiting wrt MetaFilter could be symptomatic of a developing serious mental illness. :(
posted by Jacqueline at 1:46 AM on March 8, 2014 [8 favorites]


Re: dirty tricks, yeah, this is a thing a well-organized, incredibly focused mob could try to do but it would be glaringly obvious to us as a departure from how flagging works on the site, and we don't make decisions just on flagging anyway. We can discuss flagging or contacting versus a Metatalk thread here (and my own personal preference is that I'd like to see the former precede the latter: flag or talk to us, then Metatalk if you feel like it's not a good resolution), but in terms of complaints about flaggers possibly gaming the system, it's not something that has happened, and not something I can see being successful with our human moderation.

Also, let's drop further discussion about NiceKitty. He's on tempban and can't answer, and his issues aren't the topic of this post.
posted by taz (staff) at 2:17 AM on March 8, 2014 [2 favorites]


Some are coming down on empty thought about making this public and that it could have been solved in MeMail. Honestly, if I had a problem with how a member makes their points/argues in threads, I would probably see this happening if I MeMailed them too, so I wouldn't bother with that route....

A few months ago I had wanted to MeMail a member about some of their comments on AskMe and how they came off as a judgey know-it-all. I actually wrote out the MeMail; I felt that I could offer some suggestions on the language they used - the teacher in me wanted to help this member.

And then I took a walk. I realized that I don't know this person and who the hell am I to tell them I didn't like how they posted and offer suggestions? I wound up not sending the Memail, but flagged the comments and when I checked on them a day later, they had been deleted - which confirmed to me that I was right to flag. Unfortunately, with the way MeFi is set up, people don't get notified that their comments are deleted, so this member may not have even noticed there was a problem with their comments.

So if you don't know you are doing something wrong, how can you fix it? Well, we're not going to get "Your comment been deleted" notifications, so I think its helpful for all members to go back and see how their comments are being received. This isn't "real life" where a person is more likely to notice body language and people physically walking away from conversations to know that they are hogging the conversation or being judgey or know-it-all or whatever, so I think it does help to go back and see how people reacted to what you posted. To me, that is part of the self-monitor idea at MeFi.

MeTa is our tool; there is no up/down voting tool here at MeFi - and I don't ever want one - talk about hurt feelings and passive aggressiveness!! IMHO we need to have MeTa and sometimes callouts like this. Sometimes people just can't see (like I did years ago on another board), "Oh wow, I'm getting downvoted and it's not just one person, I should examine my behavior/posting style." Again, I find going back to see how others replied to my comments here be helpful. If I want to enjoy the higher standard of discussion that MeFi provides, I need to be a lot more active in my overall participation than just looking at my "likes/dislikes" to see how I'm coming across to others.

Finally, are we really supposed to bug the mods and expect them to solve all of our problems with others, or are we supposed to act like adults, put our big boy/girl pants on and address issues head on, even if it may hurt some feelings? Like many have said, this thread is TAME compared to older MeFi callouts and most people have been pretty nice about things, which is really nice to see. While it might feel uncomfortable, it is what it is and MeTa is the tool we have to work with. If members want to participate, members need to understand that people might have a problem with what they say or how they say it and it's not going to be all lollipops and rainbows when it is addressed - it shouldn't be pitchforks and torches either. A middle ground does exist and the good news, based on what I've seen in callouts years ago compared to now, I see MeTa making its way to that middle ground.
posted by NoraCharles at 7:42 AM on March 8, 2014 [24 favorites]


Any professionally-minded group would use simple scripts to ensure they don't seem mob like. Space the flagging, randomize the participants. Organize a Fight Club in your spy centre/multi-national corporation/whatever. Script a message to a subset of your group to perform certain tasks — favourite a certain post, flag other posts, email mods, etc. Anyone with money, mad power, or fervant belief & a big social circle/charisma could pull it off.

You know, if somebody did pull this off, especially in the room full of cats that is an Internet message board, I think I would feel obscurely honored to be targeted. So much effort, over a $5 membership to a website! It would be like they'd knitted me an entire winter wardrobe...
posted by running order squabble fest at 7:50 AM on March 8, 2014 [2 favorites]


You are fully aware of the meatpuppeting of wikipedia, downvote brigades on Reddit, the latest NSA leaks, and the Clams back in the alt.religion.scientology era. Groups do organize to do dirty tricks. Some users do maintain an inventory of user names, old posts by same, and use back-channels to stir the shit. There is no reason to disbelieve that some groups will conspire to shift the culture or chase people off in addition to ordinary, organic social pressures. Your mockery is asinine.

His mockery is right on the money, dude. Just because a few extremely hypothetical caremad people may keep lists of people they really hate, and just because those three or four shadowy straw men may have the free time to coordinate a sinister assault upon the $5 internet accounts of paranoid Canadians with alliterative names, doesn't mean that they actually are doing so, or that, if they were, their evil work would actually be effective. Get a grip.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 8:49 AM on March 8, 2014 [5 favorites]


Can we close this up? it really isn't just me saying the same shit over and over at this point.

This kind of goes to the root of the problem. The discussion doesn’t need to be closed up to stop responding.
posted by bongo_x at 10:05 AM on March 8, 2014 [4 favorites]


Well, we're not going to get "Your comment been deleted" notifications

It might be useful to have deleted messages end up in one's memail along with a mod note. Although I can see that would also greatly increase the amount of memail mods would receive back.
posted by five fresh fish at 2:12 PM on March 8, 2014


Yeah that's been on the denied pony requests list for some time now. Most people never have a comment deleted. Some people have an occasional comment deleted. A few people have more than that and we don't want to open up a channel for griefing/rules lawyering that doesn't go to the Contact Form. MeMail is good for small back and forth conversations but we try to do as little mod work there as possible because you can't talk to more than one mod that way at a time.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:19 PM on March 8, 2014


Well, if there's one thing I learned from my father it's that no matter how badly someone treats you in public one time, it can ALWAYS be worse the next. So, I don't think I'll ever get to the point where I can happily shrug my shoulders and say, "Well, at least it wasn't worse," when I see one person being rude and verbally abusive to another in front of everybody when it would have been just as easy, and far more effective, to say the same thing in a neutral and civil voice.

But if that's what the culture is, and people are OK with that, then I guess it's probably better if I stay out of future discussions about it instead of trying to figure out why it's that way or influence it to be different.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 2:50 PM on March 8, 2014 [2 favorites]


A few people have more than that and we don't want to open up a channel for griefing/rules lawyering that doesn't go to the Contact Form. MeMail is good for small back and forth conversations but we try to do as little mod work there as possible because you can't talk to more than one mod that way at a time.


I'm not sure it's needed, but that's a solvable problem by having the "your comment was deleted" memail come from a no-reply address.
posted by Dip Flash at 2:51 PM on March 8, 2014


We're sort of opposed to sending people messages they can't reply to, especially if it's the sort of message that might annoy them. I was just mentioning that in case people were wondering why we don't do more mod work via MeMail.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:11 PM on March 8, 2014


I don't think I'll ever get to the point where I can happily shrug my shoulders and say, "Well, at least it wasn't worse," when I see one person being rude and verbally abusive to another in front of everybody

Calling emptythought verbally abusive is far more inflammatory than anything he said. I think he's owed an apology.
posted by Room 641-A at 4:45 PM on March 8, 2014 [12 favorites]


I don't think "personal callout" and "rude and verbally abusive" are synonymous.
posted by Chrysostom at 6:10 PM on March 8, 2014 [2 favorites]


I don't think "personal callout" and "rude and verbally abusive" are synonymous.

I don't think they are, either. But I think individual personal callouts CAN be, depending on on HOW the person doing the callout chooses to write them. They can easily be done in a perfectly civil manner - but this particular one wasn't.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:14 PM on March 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I didn't mean to imply that you, specifically, felt that way. But there have been people in the thread who do seem to think that, and I rather strongly disagree.
posted by Chrysostom at 6:20 PM on March 8, 2014


Emptythought: Overall i'm just sorry for being a prick, both for the times offense was taken when none was intended, and for when i can definitely tell i crossed the line. This was probably not the best used of MeTa.

I dunno. If you'd used milder language in your original post, the tone of the whole discussion probably would've been calmer and people would've been less defensive of Sara C. But from my perspective that's the only mistake you made.

I've read a ton of callout threads, partly because they're fascinating in a train-wreck kind of way and partly because they've been super-helpful for me in understanding community norms. I get that the person being called out finds it shaming/upsetting, and that matters and it sucks. I also get that many community members don't like callouts, and I think en forme de poire is right that there's probably an Ask versus Guess component to that. Myself, I think they're kind of gruesome but net beneficial.

For the person being called out, the threads do seem to sometimes function as a bit of a wake-up call. Maybe the person hasn't been doing a great job of reading the room, and maybe there were deletions and warnings that they didn't really notice. If they found the callout surprising, then arguably that's a useful surprise. (I don't mean to sound trite but growth and change are fucking painful. Pain is not always bad.)

But more importantly, I think callouts are useful for the site. Metafilter is a pretty awesome community, and a lot of that I think comes from people's willingness to be direct and brave and honest with each other, both in the actual discussions and in meta-level hashing out of norms about how to discuss. I feel like callouts are part of that -- maybe the messiest, most awkward, least-comfortable part.

On the topic of over-commenting, I wanted to mention a Quaker guideline that I stumbled across a couple of years ago. This isn't a direct quote but the gist is something like this: Talkative people should remind themselves to leave space for the quiet. Quiet people should remind themselves to speak. We use this in a couple of groups I'm part of, and the discussion quality really dramatically improves.
posted by Susan PG at 12:33 PM on March 9, 2014 [23 favorites]


And they seem to believe that their subjective experience is the same as everyone else's.

This is a really good point, and it was helpful for me to be reminded of it. I fall into that trap myself too often (as I did in my earlier statement against call-outs).

My experience online (and offline) has taught me to be wary of situations where individuals are put in a position of coming under public criticism -- if the wrong person is called out without warning at the wrong time (maybe they are having the worst day of their life, e.g.), there can be some long-range hurtful fallout. And it may not be the person being called out who gets hurt.

But absolutely, this dim view comes out of my direct experience, which is based only on my experience as a participant in sites, not as a moderator or site-owner. It's one of those experiential things that once witnessed, can't be "unseen," but that's my problem.

It will however inform how I participate from here on out on the site (which is fine, too). I will tread more warily.
posted by nacho fries at 1:07 PM on March 9, 2014 [3 favorites]


Reading and thinking about this thread has made me realize that I don't feel at all uncomfortable saying that the site would be a better place, IMO, if 80% of the most prolific posters dialed their commenthappiness noticeably back. I doubt anyone could argue that MeFi is in danger of hurting for sheer quantity. There are many members whose contributions I value immensely, but a thing I don't think when I read their posts is "wow, I wish that could be duplicated mutatis mutandis in every thread across the site, repeatedly!"
posted by threeants at 6:17 PM on March 19, 2014


(There are definitely exceptions, but going down the list and saying "posts too much, posts too much, posts too much, inobtrusive!, posts too much..." is a beehive I don't really feel like walking into right now, no matter how sweet that honey might taste.)
posted by threeants at 6:19 PM on March 19, 2014


(Finally, a quick peek at the infodumpster has shown me that my own complicity in heavy posting is somewhat more significant than I imagined; so do believe that I will take my message to heart as well.)
posted by threeants at 6:25 PM on March 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


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