Does this post about Textism belong on MetaFilter? June 27, 2002 4:31 PM   Subscribe

Does this post about Textism belong on MetaFilter? As a link to directly to the Textism home page, it doesn't meet the guidelines, several people felt the link, and with the recent removal of the "general weblog-related" MetaTalk category, I wonder if it should be here at all. Isn't this what BlogRoots is for?
posted by kirkaracha (staff) to Etiquette/Policy at 4:31 PM (19 comments total)

p.s. I don't intend this as a flame, but a genuine question.
posted by kirkaracha at 4:33 PM on June 27, 2002

I always feel a link before i click on it. :)

but in all seriousness, i think we're bound to get some of this until blogroots takes off. a polite invite to the 'roots crew during a post will hopefully suffice, and bolster the membership there.
posted by Ufez Jones at 4:41 PM on June 27, 2002

Why not? How many Hoopla threads were we choked with before Leslie moved to her new domain?
posted by dogmatic at 4:41 PM on June 27, 2002

We should take the same position here as we do on SportsFilter. It doesn't mean that you restrict what you talk about on MeFi, just an encouragement to rabit on about it incessantly on the other sites. Otherwise we're just stripping MeFi bare and making it a less special place.
posted by nedrichards at 4:57 PM on June 27, 2002

I think you guys are right, it was a non-event and I've removed numerous "is blogger down?" posts before, so this one is gone as well.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 5:14 PM on June 27, 2002

while this appears to be a DOS thing rather than a registrar-incompetence thing, i do think it's interesting and relevant that we've seen several members of our community (hoopla, succaland, ditherati) swiped recently, and i was glad to learn about it through mefi/meta. i think it's different than "is blogger down?", though i'm not sure where the right place is - i know metatalk has been (improperly) used as a community bulletin board in the past - maybe there is a need for such a thing somewhere.
posted by judith at 10:12 PM on June 27, 2002


I am not shouting. I am just writing my frustrations with this in bold-cap type. I have disagreed with thread deletions in the past; both in public1,2 and in private. I just wanted to reaffirm my opposition in those exact words.

Matt has had the ability to close threads to new comments for a while now. He has closed at least two threads [1, 2] to new comments. With the ability to close a thread to new (and probably unnecessary and thread derailing) comments, why delete the thread? Why not just close it to new comments?

The counter-community nature of thread deletion out weighs any benefit it may yield.
  • Undermines the 'community': Many late comers see a MetaTalk thread about a 'controversial' thread but can't judge for themselves what caused all the commotion because that thread is long gone. Deleting a thread creates two artificial camps within the membership: an 'informed class,' those who saw the thread before it was deleted; and an 'excluded class,' those who were denied an opportunity to read the thread. There are comments aplenty in the various MetaTalk threads from members asking questions about what really happened in the deleted threads and regretting not logging on to MetaFilter sooner.
  • Undermines contributions: Disregarding a few irregular members who don't bother to check for double posts, many members post threads to MetaFilter in hopes of adding value both to the site, and also to their own contribution-credibility. They do the prerequisite searches to make sure that their post is not a duplicate. There are members who comment and add additional links to these 'double' threads not knowing that their genuine contribution to MetaFilter will soon disappear. Deleting a thread is essentially rejecting the contribution of the various members and not acknowledging the time and effort these members put into researching their post(s) and comment(s).
  • Creates confusion: Deleted posts create many-fold confusions within the membership. MetaTalk is littered with posters wondering why their post was deleted. Members often wonder where and why a thread they read or commented in disappeared. Others wonder why the ghosts of deleted threads still haunt their post and comment counts.
  • Erases trails: While most of the members here are 'good citizens,' there are some who frequently tests the 'limits' of the community. Deleting threads also erases the 'MetaFilter-crime-trails' of these repeat offenders.
  • Distorts freshness: Constantly deleting double posts distorts the freshness of a link re-posted to MetaFilter. Suppose a site was posted to MetaFilter in April 2000 by user X. User Y double posts that same site nine months later in January 2001. The usual ensemble of MeFi-Cops shows up in the January 2001 thread and flags it as a double post. Matt subsequently deletes the thread. Then a month later in February 2001 user K posts that site again on MetaFilter. Matt again deletes this thread following a thread-raid by the MeFi-Cops. The same thing happens again and again for the next few months. Finally, in May 2002, more than two years after it was first posted, user V posts the same site again. Despite the initial thread-raid by the MeFi-cops, this time Matt is persuaded by 6,000 new members to spare it from deletion. The new members argue that they were not here when the site was first posted. Had Matt not deleted the nine times it was re-posted every other month in 2001, he could've pointed to those multiple-posts of the site as evidence of the freshness of this site being frequently linked on MetaFilter.
Getting back to the thread that spawned this MetaTalk thread, user mook started it at 2:31 PM PST; asking why Textism was not responding. He suspected Verisign foul play. Until Dark Messiah in the 16th comment in the thread asked: "Since when was MeFi the World Wide Blog Status Centre!?" a half hour later at 3:03 PM PST; all the members that had commented were on topic and were trying to find out what really went wrong. Even Matt commented twice: 1, 2. Then rushmc with the 21st comment derailed the thread at 3:17 PM PST:
Who the hell is "Dean"?! Isn't referring to bloggers by only their first name on the front page JUST the sort of clubbish, exclusionary behavior that mathowie objects to so much? I can just imagine what the majority of the 14,000 members seeing that think, not to mention the many other readers, new and old, who are not on a first-name basis with every blogger on the planet.
Nine (including another one from rushmc) of the following 11 comments were replies to rushmc and not about Textism outage. Almost a third of the 32 comments made in that thread were devoted to rushmc and Dark Messiah. 15 members (insomnyuk, me3dia, rebeccablood, iceberg273, samsara, D, mr_crash_davis, evanizer, timeistight, billybob, yarf, bradlands, Catch, dogmatic and tomcosgrave), other than Matt, contributed on-topic in that thread.

So what can be done with the threads that are double posts or does not measure up to the standards of a handful of MetaFilter members?
  • Create FilePile-esque flags: Besides the double post button that Matt proposed last November, I propose adding a "redundant" button. Instead of sending Matt an email and prompt him to act, I suggest that the software automatically close threads to new comments if either of these two buttons were clicked a pre-determined number of times by a pre-determined number of unique-users (checked via cookies). Just like FilePile, where user profiles track how a member flagged certain files, Matt can track which members frequently flag threads to check for abuse.
  • Modify user profiles: Since many members measure others' contribution to MetaFilter based the numbers in the user profile, I propose adding an additional 'closed (and/or deleted) thread' statistics in the user profiles. This member has posted n threads that were closed should be added to the this member has posted n posts and n comments to MetaFilter/MetaTalk figures in the member's profile page.
posted by tamim at 10:57 PM on June 27, 2002

nice work, tam. i think that some people will complain about the possibility of abuse with the filepile flags, but deleted threads sometimes do get confusing (especially when the subject is very controversial and now there's no point of reference).
posted by moz at 11:08 PM on June 27, 2002

Wow, waking up here to find the thread gone and no new information. I am suprised it was deleted - I realise that it may not be a long-term newsworthy post, but seeing a beautifully crafted personal site turned into a dark corporate one, especially in light of textism's status as the anti-Verisign, anti-domain-hijacking googlebomber is important. I have no idea of what technical shenanigans are going on - but an important site on my personal toolbar is no longer in existence.

Tamim, thanks for your recap, and I wholeheartedly agree with your points about thread deletion. In a more fluid, emergent community this sort of thing could be left on the sidelines or ignored underneath user-ratings, but as mefi is a very tight and discrete site it causes commotion, and thread derailments.

posted by mook at 11:21 PM on June 27, 2002

mook, it's already back up. Crisis over. Everybody go home. Put it back in your bookmarks.

I'll say that I don't think this thread was exceptionally egregious, but it had no reason to stay. What I don't like about these threads is the spitting in the wind effect -- especially because of the distributed, and occasionally fragile, nature of the net. You could be having local DNS problems and not see the site, which would probably make you the one MeFi poster who thinks it's down. Some basic questions a psoter should probably at least investigate before birthing one of these threads include: Is the Whois record changed? Does a traceroute fail? Is the problem replicable by at least one other person on an entirely different region of the net? Can you e-mail the author and determine if there has been a truly important problem (e.g. not a temporary server outage, not a temporary financial dispute, not a "we forgot to chmod the Apache directory")? I recognize that not every member is a net guru (though surely one is not hard to find), but there's an enormous difference between "our ISP had a temporary server configuration problem" and "Network Solutions, the critical supplier of internet infrastructure and a bad corporate citizen, deliberately fucked over a little guy who had been slagging them". And no matter how important the latter may be, it's a hell of a lot less common than the former.
posted by dhartung at 12:04 AM on June 28, 2002

Oh, and it's buried at the end, but Dean reports that the problem, according to his host, was a denial-of-service attack. And that today, it was the least of his technological worries ...
posted by dhartung at 12:09 AM on June 28, 2002

well, that helps. several people i know noticed that textism was replaced by t.a.s. communications. some people could still see textism though, so it looked like a dns propagation, as if someone hijacked the domain. now openbrackets, dean's girlfriend's site, is awol. not surprising as they are probably hosted by the same place. BUT, several of us came here to see if anyone mentioned it, they HAD, but the thread was deleted and there was this metalk thread that didn't really say what was in the mefi thread, just that it had been deleted. very frustrating.
posted by centrs at 1:54 AM on June 28, 2002

I still get the creepy TAS communications page when I visit textism. Perhaps an example of dhartung's DNS propagation theory, or is it back down again? Oh well...
posted by evanizer at 6:37 AM on June 28, 2002

I just had the most bizarre web experience. I went to textism, and everytime I hit refresh, the site would switch back and forth between textism and TAS. What's up with that?
posted by monju_bosatsu at 6:55 AM on June 28, 2002

Perhaps a solution would be to migrate the thread to blogroots, rather than deleting it. Instead of the "Nothing to see here, move along" screen, there could be a pointer to the new blogroots thread.
posted by me3dia at 8:40 AM on June 28, 2002


I hear you, man. You make your point elegantly. I also appreciate Miguel's point of view, in that he feels that deleting a thread is somewhat inherently un-democratic

But, check out this FPP, freshly deleted by Matt.
If deleting a FPP means keeping our distance from Fark and Usenet, I welcome it. Enjoy the elegant wording


I like 'em fat like that! Are fat chicks ugly? This site doesn't think so. It's a G rated attempt to turn everyone's favorite celebs into whales. There's just something about seeing Big Britney that makes me even more naseous than usual. Or contact the site and perhaps they'll enlarge your significant other for you.
posted by Happydaz at 2:49 AM PST - 11 comments (11 new)
posted by matteo at 8:40 AM on June 28, 2002

dhartung: The Textism post about the 14 hour outage and DoS attacks went up 22 hours ago -- before yesterdays problems.

If you are (or have access to) a "net guru" who can figure out exactly what happened/is happening to Textism, I'd greatly appreciate you trying to explain it to me here, on Blogroots, or via email.
posted by timeistight at 9:18 AM on June 28, 2002

I actually agree with you about closing threads vs. deleting them, tamim. My complaint was not about the topic of the post in question but about the "in-group" clubbishness of the wording, though I suppose that would also apply to some degree to the topic itself. More appropriate to MetaTalk, I expect, but somehow making a post in the relevant thread seems less harsh and confrontational than calling someone out with a brand new MeTa post.
posted by rushmc at 11:22 AM on June 28, 2002

Tamim - good points all around. One potential problem, though, with the "permanency" concept is that this site is only really as good as what is posted here. Subconsciously or not, there are users here who might be less inclined to self-police their own posts and comments once the implicit threat of deletion is lifted. Before if you were a chronic self-linker, you got called out on Metatalk and your posts got deleted. Now you still get called out on Metatalk, but your free textad stays up in perpetuity.

posted by PrinceValium at 11:34 AM on June 28, 2002

« Older Sorry about the brief outage today   |   Bug in Mozilla 1.0 Newer »

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