Why is this an acceptable FPP? March 25, 2014 6:17 AM   Subscribe

This single link FPP is effectively a blog post...

written by someone with no expertise or import in their field. Being metafilter, the ensuing discussion was quite good, but no one almost no one commenting thought the link contained a 'good' idea or bit of writing.

My broader question is, if the contents of the FPP is crap, but the discussion will be good, does that make it an appropriate FPP for metafilter?
posted by MisantropicPainforest to MetaFilter-Related at 6:17 AM (164 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

the ensuing discussion was quite good

No, it wasn't.
posted by toomuchpete at 6:29 AM on March 25, 2014 [5 favorites]


yes
posted by rebent at 6:30 AM on March 25, 2014


Perhaps you're not the only judge of what makes a good post.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:32 AM on March 25, 2014 [5 favorites]


I don't know about y'all, but I flagged and moved on.
posted by oceanjesse at 6:32 AM on March 25, 2014 [3 favorites]


That's an interesting question. I started to post essentially this yesterday, but didn't, just because the article seemed so rambly to me that I couldn't read the whole thing, and didn't want to post an article I didn't actually read. But the discussion was interesting, and I was glad it got posted.
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 6:32 AM on March 25, 2014


I think there's nothing wrong in and of itself with linking to a blog post. Many FPPs have done this, single link or no. And not every post needs to link to content written with expertise or authority on its subject. Depending on context though I guess: if it's a single blog post explaining in all capitals why the author things all math is wrong, well, I guess folks wouldn't mind giving that one a pass.

As for the broader question, in general I would say no, all other things being equal posting "crap" in the hopes of a good discussion doesn't seem like the best idea. I do think it's possible that an otherwise mediocre post results in a comparatively good discussion. But that's not an outcome I would bet on as a poster.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane (staff) at 6:38 AM on March 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


MisantropicPainforest: " My broader question is, if the contents of the FPP is crap, but the discussion will be good, does that make it an appropriate FPP for metafilter? "

Define "crap."

At various times throughout MeFi's existence, people have declared that any links to youtube, buzzfeed, a variety of gawker properties, the New York Times, the Atlantic and a huge number of other sites were inappropriate. Yet, there have been good posts that linked to those sites in the past.

Perhaps a gestalt view is possible: a post and its thread contribute to the whole.
posted by zarq at 6:38 AM on March 25, 2014 [6 favorites]


I reckon it's "acceptable" because it didn't get any or a lot of flags and other signals to mods that people thought it sucked enough to be deleted.
posted by rtha at 6:40 AM on March 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I don't usually flag a post for sucking unless I think it's there to deliberately suck.
posted by corb at 6:42 AM on March 25, 2014 [4 favorites]


While the ass-talking-out-of is a little more egregious in this one than others, it's not exactly Time Cube. The person who wrote doesn't seem to be stupid and/or crazy and the conversation isn't pointing-and-laughing at the perceived stupid and/or crazy person.

Plenty of FPPs go up where people who don't really have the expertise or knowledge to do so criticize at length art, or politics, or technology, or religion, or pop culture, or fashion, or gender or race relations or whatever. Why not economics?
posted by griphus at 6:45 AM on March 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


Well zarq, I think with the exception of youtube, all the sites you listed basically 'publish' articles (unless I'm mistaken about buzzfeed or gawker). My issue with medium.com is that its just a blog that anyone can sign up to and post whatever.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 6:45 AM on March 25, 2014


Medium is still shaking out a lot of QC stuff, I'd recommend it as a jumping-off point, not a main link.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 6:46 AM on March 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


MisantropicPainforest: "My issue with medium.com is that its just a blog that anyone can sign up to and post whatever."

So?

Many posts link to individual blogs and content created and posted by individuals, not articles that have gone through a review/publishing process.
posted by zarq at 6:56 AM on March 25, 2014 [9 favorites]


My hunch is that it would have gotten more flags and perhaps more mod attention if it were hosted on blogspot or wordpress, but Medium's glossy presentation lends an air of credibility to someone being wrong on the Internet. The author is a Breitbart D-lister who has devoted much of his time to shitting up comment sections on econblogs, which makes Medium the pefect, uh, medium for him to make a dangerous thing out of his little knowledge.
posted by tonycpsu at 6:58 AM on March 25, 2014 [5 favorites]


I thought the link was quite interesting. I love the idea of a Basic Income, but it attracts deep hostility from some. This seemed to be a useful attempt to try to make the concept more palatable to the Right, though at the cost of retaining some of the bad elements of the current system. I'm glad I saw it.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 7:04 AM on March 25, 2014


We've had sort of an ongoing concern that people don't seem to flag posts they think aren't a good fit for MetaFilter. Just something we've noticed over the past maybe six months. People just move on but they don't flag (not referring to you MP, thanks for flagging). Unless we're going to do a lot more modding by fiat, we need peoples feedback at the time that they think a post maybe isn't good for MeFi. We know people are reading/interacting because doubles and posts with typos get get flagged quickly and often. Not sure what's going on exactly, but it would be helpful to get more at-the-time feedback about this stuff.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:05 AM on March 25, 2014 [18 favorites]


I tend to let posts like this go in the hopes that bad FPP content can lead to good discussion. A lot of times someone will jump in early with "this is some bullshit, here are some better resources to really understand X" type comments. Sometimes I try to do those myself. If the discussion sucks, the worst thing that happens is some people yell at each other and I remove the thread from my recent activity.
posted by tonycpsu at 7:10 AM on March 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


Define "crap."

"A detailed, completely mental, somewhat plausible scheme for how a Guaranteed Minimum Income would work."

(I mean, "completely mental"? Regardless of the content, the FPP should be deleted for that alone.)
posted by Sys Rq at 7:11 AM on March 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


MetaFilter: Community Weblog
posted by LogicalDash at 7:12 AM on March 25, 2014 [6 favorites]


My issue with medium.com is that its just a blog that anyone can sign up to and post whatever.

Gee. Doesn't sound like any other site I know of.
posted by slogger at 7:12 AM on March 25, 2014 [29 favorites]


Yeah, "completely mental" bugged me, but I moved on without flagging.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 7:25 AM on March 25, 2014


every time MeFi debunks an awful technolibertarian policy proposal an angel gets its oh whatever we're never going to win against these bastards
posted by The White Hat at 7:32 AM on March 25, 2014 [27 favorites]


jessamyn: Not sure what's going on exactly, but it would be helpful to get more at-the-time feedback about this stuff.

Are we (unintentionally) moving toward a more permissive posting model? About the only thing I don't want to see on MetaFilter is NewsFilter. Everything else I am happy to assume it is not for me, but others seem to enjoy it (most of the more political stuff, for example). Is it helpful to flag what I see as examples of NewsFilter, or are the Mods already comfortable in their threshhold level for that?
posted by Rock Steady at 7:48 AM on March 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


What is it about being an alienated 23-year-old that makes libertarian arguments seem like God's holy incontrovertible truth?
posted by killdevil at 7:49 AM on March 25, 2014 [10 favorites]


Maybe the icon to flag a post should be a flag rather than an exclamation mark. Maybe that's what's tripping people up.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 7:54 AM on March 25, 2014 [3 favorites]


Logical Dash spoiled my intended comment of You'd almost think this was some wort of weblog, a community weblog, if you will. Single link post, not a lot of framing. Not a terrific post, but a reasonable discussion. Meh. I'm okay with meh posts. I dislike most youtube posts. I'd like a sidebar for youtubes people would like to share, as I think they get too much space on the front page and don't generate much interesting discussion.

moving toward a more permissive posting model? It's already a permissive posting model. Moderation has increased over time, making it less permissive model, but it's still possible for members to just make a post, and as long as the site is what it is - amateurs posting stuff - it seems to be working.

I think it's awfully scary for many reasonable members to post to the front page. Hey, here's something on the Internet that I think is cool, terrible, important, worth discussing, but ... I may get beat up if I post it. Want to improve the front page - make excellent posts, be supportive of people who make excellent posts, let people build experience making posts by actually making them..
posted by theora55 at 7:57 AM on March 25, 2014 [5 favorites]


Weirdly enough, "completely mental" didn't even ping my radar even though I'd squint pretty hard at someone using a lot of other references to mental illness in a dismissive way in a post. Assuming that's the point of friction you're raising, Sys Rq and Ice Cream Socialist. I guess the phrase has a really strong surfer dude type valence for me.

This single link FPP is effectively a blog post...written by someone with no expertise or import in their field.

That's not actually a disqualifying attribute in a post, is the thing. It's plenty easy to do it wrong, but people also make totally workable posts out of that stuff sometimes too. I think maybe people end up generalizing the fact that sometimes "here's a blog post about x!" posts get deleted as thin to mean that blog posts are off the table, when as a category they're not.

On my post quality meter this one put the needle at a perfectly forgettable "eh" and people seemed into it discussion-wise more than they seemed not-into-it flags-wise, so I let it be.

Metafilter doesn't see only two distinct classes of posts, Great Posts and Shit Posts; there's gonna be stuff in between, stuff that is neither clearly tremendous nor aggressively deletable. It's a whole spectrum, and some of the stuff on that spectrum people are just gonna shrug at except for the people who specifically take an interest.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:02 AM on March 25, 2014 [5 favorites]


We've had sort of an ongoing concern that people don't seem to flag posts they think aren't a good fit for MetaFilter.

I don't keep close track at all, but my gut feeling has been that when I flag comments they almost always end up being disappeared, but when I've flagged FPPs they almost always stay. (The actual numbers might not back that up, but it very much feels that way.) Part of that is the flagged comments tend to be super egregious, while the truly bad FPPs usually disappear before I see them and the only ones left to flag tend to fall into the marginal category and have already developed long conversations.

Flagging also a really imperfect signaling or communicative device, in that comments and posts either disappear or don't, but with no automatic feedback to the person or people flagging as to why or why not.

So I'm not surprised flagging is being used in different ways for FPPs and comments; I have been trying to be more conscious about flagging bad comments rather than quoting and arguing, while my tendency with FPPs is to just say "not my thing" and move on.
posted by Dip Flash at 8:15 AM on March 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


Perhaps you're not the only judge of what makes a good post.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:32 AM on March 25 [+] [!]


Its almost as if I'm asking the community what they think!!!
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 8:15 AM on March 25, 2014 [15 favorites]


I'm guessing that's one of Medium's unpaid pieces. You can really tell the difference. Why anyone linked to it is beyond me.
posted by Ideefixe at 8:16 AM on March 25, 2014


Why anyone linked to it is beyond me

Because they thought it would generate discussion on MeFi. If you don't think it's a good post for MeFi, flag it so the mods can take a look. If you don't flag it, it's like a tree in a forest, no-one sees it.
posted by arcticseal at 8:18 AM on March 25, 2014


theora55: "I think it's awfully scary for many reasonable members to post to the front page. Hey, here's something on the Internet that I think is cool, terrible, important, worth discussing, but ... I may get beat up if I post it. Want to improve the front page - make excellent posts, be supportive of people who make excellent posts, let people build experience making posts by actually making them.."

Thank you for saying this.

Blazecock Pileon: "Perhaps you're not the only judge of what makes a good post."

MisantropicPainforest: "Its almost as if I'm asking the community what they think!!!"

Except you're not asking for the community's opinion on whether it is or isn't a good post. You're asking people whether a good thread can redeem a crap post.
posted by zarq at 8:26 AM on March 25, 2014 [7 favorites]


Ice Cream Socialist: "Yeah, "completely mental" bugged me, but I moved on without flagging."

It made me think the link might involve Ed Grimley somehow.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:30 AM on March 25, 2014 [8 favorites]


I guess the phrase has a really strong surfer dude type valence for me.

Yeah, that's why I didn't flag it. It's common enough and certainly not typically used to intentionally belittle people living with mental illness. That said, it's still a bit more true to its roots than the colloquial "crazy."

For me, it's not really unacceptable enough to flag, but it does have the effect of making me wonder why mental illness gets dragged into so many discussions. A bad taste in my mouth is something I can easily live with, though.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 8:30 AM on March 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


We've had sort of an ongoing concern that people don't seem to flag posts they think aren't a good fit for MetaFilter.

After reading many, many deletion and flag - related MeTa posts, I think many people see flagging as tattling and deletion as punishment.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:34 AM on March 25, 2014 [9 favorites]


Hello. I posted the FPP. In retrospect, I think I was more motivated by "hey, I bet people will have interesting things to say about this" than "this is an awesome thing everybody should read" which probably makes it not the best FPP.

I do think overall how one could practically implement a GMI in the US is an interesting thing to think about, and the quasi-libertarian framing of the blog post was interesting to me as a pointer to how these issues are framed on the more rightward side of the spectrum. I figured people would read it and want to point out the flaws with it, which in the end was the discussion I was most interested in reading. There was some of that, for sure, also a lot of simple contempt for the author, so I take the point that it wasn't the best of the web for sure. I've made worse FPPs, I've made better FPPs. I'll keep trying to make good ones, but I can't promise I'll always hit the mark.
posted by Diablevert at 8:34 AM on March 25, 2014 [7 favorites]


"completely mental"

I cannot read that phrase without hearing it in the voice of John Cleese's wife in A Fish Called Wanda.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:43 AM on March 25, 2014 [5 favorites]


This single link FPP is effectively a blog post...

and Metafilter is effectively a community blog.
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 9:18 AM on March 25, 2014 [3 favorites]



While I too enjoy snark-bait, it seems to me that when posting such, especially with the intent of starting an interesting discussion, that perhaps another link to an opposing viewpoint, or some other counter-point would provide a balance and frame the discussion.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:21 AM on March 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


We've had sort of an ongoing concern that people don't seem to flag posts they think aren't a good fit for MetaFilter. Just something we've noticed over the past maybe six months. People just move on but they don't flag (not referring to you MP, thanks for flagging). Unless we're going to do a lot more modding by fiat, we need peoples feedback at the time that they think a post maybe isn't good for MeFi. We know people are reading/interacting because doubles and posts with typos get get flagged quickly and often. Not sure what's going on exactly, but it would be helpful to get more at-the-time feedback about this stuff.

I'd suggest to revisit the flag options. I don't know how I'd flag something that's just lame. Noise? Where would you expect to see it?

And yes, I agree it seems like anything can be slid in under "intent is to have a good discussion" (no comment on the article being discussed; I didn't read it or the discussion) so flagging seems a bit futile.
posted by michaelh at 9:34 AM on March 25, 2014


After reading many, many deletion and flag - related MeTa posts, I think many people see flagging as tattling and deletion as punishment.

It also seems like lots of folks are reluctant to flag if they don't see a flag option that reasonably approximates their reason for flagging. I know we occasionally talk about this, but I think a serious discussion of revamping the flag system might be in order.
posted by lalex at 9:39 AM on March 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


I think switching the icon from an exclamation mark to a flag is a great idea.
posted by cribcage at 9:40 AM on March 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


If I see a post I think is weak (which this one wasn't, imo) I flag it as "other" and let go, let Mod.
posted by kimberussell at 9:43 AM on March 25, 2014 [3 favorites]


We've had sort of an ongoing concern that people don't seem to flag posts they think aren't a good fit for MetaFilter.

Personally, it's because there isn't an identified tag for "not a good fit for Metafilter" on the flag choices, which means if I want to flag it, it requires an "other" or "guidelines" flag, plus an email via the contact form. Which means it's a three-step process, so I'm less likely to do that for things that I don't think really, really need to be gone.
posted by corb at 9:48 AM on March 25, 2014 [3 favorites]


Pony suggestion: selecting "Other" in flags opens a little text box where the user can type in a simple textual "other" reason for flagging.
posted by tonycpsu at 9:50 AM on March 25, 2014 [11 favorites]


Is there a reason the drop down flagging options need to be the same for posts and comments? There is overlap but there are different issues at play.
posted by Dip Flash at 9:50 AM on March 25, 2014


I think a serious discussion of revamping the flag system might be in order.

We've been talking about it seriously for a while, especially for being clearer in places like MeTa that a lot of flagging here really isn't going to do much. That said, we're really not sure if "I didn't flag because I didn't see the right reason" is a problem that we can sufficiently address by changing the reasons. And for people who are longtime MeTa readers all I can say is: just pick a reason. If we see a post has ten flags, it doesn't really matter if some are noise and some are breaks the guidelines, we're going to look at that differently than a post that has two flags of whatever stripe. The aggregate view is what matters to us.

But yeah splitting out comment reasons from post reasons is one of the things we've been thinking about, but I'm not so sure it's going to address this actual issue.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:53 AM on March 25, 2014


"It breaks the guidelines" maps pretty well to "not a good post for MetaFilter," in my opinion.
posted by MoonOrb at 9:53 AM on March 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


"It breaks the guidelines" maps pretty well to "not a good post for MetaFilter," in my opinion.

Yeah, the question I have in my head is, 'is this the best of the web?' And while this might not have been the best of the web, it was surely more interesting than 95% of the obituary posts that get left up.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 9:57 AM on March 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


My issue with medium.com is that its just a blog that anyone can sign up to and post whatever.

Doesn't that more or less apply to half of all blogs everywhere? The other half are written by some random paid employee given a blog space who may or may not have any expertise in the subject matter du jour.
posted by FelliniBlank at 10:00 AM on March 25, 2014


We've been talking about it seriously for a while

Sorry, I did not mean to imply that the mod team wasn't taking these concerns seriously. By "serious discussion" I meant on a community level...it might be worthwhile to have a dedicated MeTa thread where folks can give input on whether a revamp might be beneficial, and if so, what flag options they might find useful.
posted by lalex at 10:01 AM on March 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


If I was going to revamp the flagging system, part of me would be tempted to limit the dropdown to three things: 'this is good,' 'this is not good' and 'this is a double.'
posted by box at 10:01 AM on March 25, 2014 [4 favorites]


How bout "There's nothing really actionably wrong with this but it's bothering me"
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:02 AM on March 25, 2014 [20 favorites]


box: If I was going to revamp the flagging system, part of me would be tempted to limit the dropdown to three things: 'this is good,' 'this is not good' and 'this is a double.'

And "HTML/Display Error"
posted by filthy light thief at 10:05 AM on March 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


lalex: "I know we occasionally talk about this, but I think a serious discussion of revamping the flag system might be in order."

We could go with more honest choices....
Pick a reason to flag:
 
☑ I LOVE THIS POST AND WANT TO BEAR / RAISE ITS OFFSPRING
☢ Can't stand razzafrackin' linked website
☣ Presentation Sucks
☠ I have a grudge against the OP
⚡ Touches Metafilter's third rail 
☉☉ OH GOD
☤ Linked article/video gave me a headache / Too Many Links
☕ I need more coffee to deal with this
♾ Double
≠ Misleading
⚐ Other
Etc.
posted by zarq at 10:07 AM on March 25, 2014 [35 favorites]


lalex: "By "serious discussion" I meant on a community level...it might be worthwhile to have a dedicated MeTa thread where folks can give input on whether a revamp might be beneficial, and if so, what flag options they might find useful."

We just had this thread about it, and it is still open.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:10 AM on March 25, 2014


jessamyn: "How bout "There's nothing really actionably wrong with this but it's bothering me""

What if it's bothering us and we're not sure if they're actionable?

Not joking, btw. I flag things every once in a while that I think deserve a glance from Team Mod, but am not sure if they're in any way actionable.
posted by zarq at 10:11 AM on March 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


Why are there flag reasons at all? If it's the aggregate count and not the type that matters, maybe just make "flag" mean "I think a mod should look at this" and have it just be a binary switch.
posted by annekate at 10:12 AM on March 25, 2014


What if it's bothering us and we're not sure if they're actionable?

That's fine too! Sometimes people just want to say "Hey that user is doing that thing again, thought you should know" and that's fine.

Why are there flag reasons at all?

Because flags also signal to newer users the sorts of things that are not okay and that you can use the flag feature for. Like, we're happy to answer email that says "Can you fix my broken HTML" or "This is a double post" but you can also use the flagging feature for it.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:13 AM on March 25, 2014 [3 favorites]


And "HTML/Display Error"

You're probably right--changing 'This is a double' to 'This is a double/HTML issue' might be a good way to go.

Why are there flag reasons at all? If it's the aggregate count and not the type that matters, maybe just make "flag" mean "I think a mod should look at this" and have it just be a binary switch.

There might be a couple places that falls apart, though, including e.g. html issues that only pop up on particular platforms or things that the mods aren't sure if they're supposed to be fantastic or horrible.
posted by box at 10:14 AM on March 25, 2014


life was simpler when you could just post the pissing elephant and move on.
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 10:17 AM on March 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


For you, maybe.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:22 AM on March 25, 2014 [22 favorites]


Pony suggestion: selecting "Other" in flags opens a little text box where the user can type in a simple textual "other" reason for flagging.


I love this idea in theory until I realize that in practice, I'm afraid it would prevent me from using "Other" as I use it now -- as a general catch-all for "This sucks!!!! Wait, doesn't it? Could somebody rule on this for me?"

But who knows? I used to be too afraid to flag; I suppose I could learn to get over just calling out suckitude from my perspective.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:24 AM on March 25, 2014 [3 favorites]


Personally, I thought it was juust weird and whacko enough to be interesting.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 10:27 AM on March 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


Pony suggestion: selecting "Other" in flags opens a little text box where the user can type in a simple textual "other" reason for flagging.

Maybe it could be limited to one word or twenty characters or something, so that the mods don't have to wade through screeds but we can still let them know we're flagging it as "newsfilter" or "misogynistic" or whatever the case may be.
posted by threeants at 10:37 AM on March 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


tonycpsu: "Pony suggestion: selecting "Other" in flags opens a little text box where the user can type in a simple textual "other" reason for flagging."

I think this is a really good idea. Would reduce ambiguity.
posted by zarq at 10:43 AM on March 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


Better than the Murdoch marriage post...
posted by edgeways at 11:06 AM on March 25, 2014


There was a time when Single-Link Op-Ed got deleted from the front page. That was probably pre-YouTube though, get off my lawn.
posted by carsonb at 11:40 AM on March 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


Well, they've been potential delete material for a long time and that hasn't really changed. I think the core thing with the SLOE thing back in the day was it tended to be a lot of short, bitey political position statement type things people would post: pointed 600 word LET'S TALK ABOUT THE WAR/BUSH/ISRAEL stuff that may make good fodder for the editorial page of a newspaper but not so much post content. People eased up on that somewhat once there was pushback.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:44 AM on March 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


Wait, I thought that FPPs posted just to spark a discussion were ungood. That is, the linked piece itself also had to be pretty good.

*rummages through memory, comes up empty-handed* Dang! I think I got an FPP deleted over this very point once, and at the time I heartily agreed with the Mods' decision and still do!
posted by wenestvedt at 11:48 AM on March 25, 2014


>> Pony suggestion: selecting "Other" in flags opens a little text box where the user can type in a simple textual "other" reason for flagging.

> Maybe it could be limited to one word or twenty characters or something ...


I had the same thought. Twenty characters is a good length, just slightly shorter than the longest current options (23-24 characters).

It could be interesting to try this for a set period of time, like 30 days, and see what people do with it. If you get a bunch more flags, you know that the lack of options really was holding people back. If you get a bunch of flags but they all fit into a few categories, you have really helpful data for revamping the options. If nothing much changes, that answers that question.
posted by jhc at 11:49 AM on March 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


If I was going to revamp the flagging system, part of me would be tempted to limit the dropdown to three things: 'this is good", 'this is not good'

Don't forget [this might be offensive].
posted by dersins at 11:53 AM on March 25, 2014


jessamyn: We've had sort of an ongoing concern that people don't seem to flag posts they think aren't a good fit for MetaFilter.

So if we assume that the system of flags is okay, it seems that something in the interface discourages users to fully engage with that particular feature.

Well, if the "other" flag would be supplied with a sub-feature where a one-word free-form reason could be added, that would probably help people overcome their shyness a little.

Note: I don't even mean that the mods actually should look at these free-form flag reasons very much. What I'm talking about is a user-perspective type of thing: Many people hate being shoehorned into standardized answers, they want to be able to give specific feedback--so perhaps it would be flag-inviting if one would cater to that mindset.

(This idea may have been discussed here before and I missed it. If so, disregard).
posted by Namlit at 11:56 AM on March 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


on preview: aha, not my idea any more. Carry on...
posted by Namlit at 11:57 AM on March 25, 2014


I don't see what particular good allowing users to craft their own flagging reasons provides. From what the mod's say, flagging seems to be roughly equivalent to yelling "Hey". There just needs to be enough options to tell if it's "Hey, call 911!", "Hey, look at this.", or "Hey now!"

Lately, I've been flagging and if I think it's not obvious I follow it up with a contact form note that clarifies the details.

Though deep in my data-wankery heart I want every flag to require a free-form reason so we can perform analysis on them. Also, it would give me chance to flag comments with a reason of "Bleurgh!".
posted by benito.strauss at 12:02 PM on March 25, 2014 [4 favorites]


jessamyn: Because flags also signal to newer users the sorts of things that are not okay and that you can use the flag feature for.

I completely understand and support that rationale, but from that standpoint, if you were to allow users to add some sort of freeform reason, you might be able to find things that the userbase thinks are not OK that you never would have realized were not OK, if that makes any sense.
posted by Rock Steady at 12:06 PM on March 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


cortex: "Well, they've been potential delete material for a long time and that hasn't really changed. I think the core thing with the SLOE thing back in the day was it tended to be a lot of short, bitey political position statement type things people would post: pointed 600 word LET'S TALK ABOUT THE WAR/BUSH/ISRAEL stuff that may make good fodder for the editorial page of a newspaper but not so much post content. People eased up on that somewhat once there was pushback."

I think this goes back to this comment over in the fffm flameout thread: a behavior (or type of post) can basically unobjectionable when considered in isolation, but be problematic when repeated endlessly.

1 SLOE = not a problem. Many SLOEs = potential problem.
posted by Chrysostom at 12:07 PM on March 25, 2014


Wait, I thought that FPPs posted just to spark a discussion were ungood.

Posting a link you think is crappy just because you think it'll spark a discussion is indeed ungood. That said, posting a link you think is substantial and interesting, even if you think it's a flawed idea or something you don't agree with, isn't so much a problem, and I'm taking Diablevert to have meant something more along the lines of the latter in their thinking on this.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:20 PM on March 25, 2014


benito.strauss: "Though deep in my data-wankery heart I want every flag to require a free-form reason so we can perform analysis on them. Also, it would give me chance to flag comments with a reason of "Bleurgh!"."

Although then I feel like you've just moved the flag categorization one step - from the user doing it, to the analyst doing it. Someone ends up saying, "Well, these are all for doubles. And these are basically for derails, I guess?"

Not that you can't learn some things, but maybe less than you might think.
posted by Chrysostom at 12:25 PM on March 25, 2014


I literally have never thought about "completely mental" before except in relation to Ed Grimley, and I don't know the etymology of it, but it seems likely to be from something related to mental retardation or mental illness.

I don't think I have ever used the phrase before, but it's worth being aware of it.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 12:49 PM on March 25, 2014


i thought it was mildly interesting and participated in the discussion

a post has got to be pretty damned bad before i'll flag it - i just figure if i'm not interested that it's not for me and skip it

"it breaks the guidelines" is my choice of flag in something like this - if it's not good, the guideline that it be good has been broken
posted by pyramid termite at 1:05 PM on March 25, 2014


"Hello. I posted the FPP. In retrospect, I think I was more motivated by "hey, I bet people will have interesting things to say about this" than "this is an awesome thing everybody should read" which probably makes it not the best FPP. "

Yeah, I would have deleted it, but if we ran MeFi based on my diktats, we'd have at least 30 percent fewer posts (or maybe not, maybe people would learn to please me. I'm willing to try it.).

It was an interesting topic and an interesting discussion, but I try not to post anything unless I cosign the link as something that I think people here would be interested in seeing for itself. You can always think, "But what about the poor bastards on RSS?" and remember that a lot more people will see the FPP than the comments, even if the comments feel a lot more vivid because there's a conversation.
posted by klangklangston at 1:09 PM on March 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm shocked, shocked to see a single link to an overly long post by someone with no particular credentials on Metafilter.
posted by John Cohen at 1:38 PM on March 25, 2014 [3 favorites]


I have felt before that the flagging system needs updating, but when you really start to go into specifics, it becomes (for me, at least) a monumental and overwhelming task, and I can see why the mods are wondering where to go with flagging.

For instance, I feel like threadshitting has become a problem, and it creates an unfriendly environment for posting here. The mods will remove initial snarky comments if they get flagged, but often the tone is already set (as an example, the recent post about the woman listening to her spouse's huge music collection got really ugly). Flagging won't help there.

There's no flag for, "Hey, this user is dominating the thread," either, but that's a a concern that's been brought up a few times about various users.

Then there is the "offensive/sexism/racism" flag. I feel like transphobia could be appended to that. I'd like to see the 'offensive' part struck right off, though. Offensive is so subjective that it could mean anything from, "This comment has swears in it! Think of the children!" to "Whoa, even Putin would hesitate to say something so hatefully intolerant as that, WTF?" Sometimes finding something offensive means someone is reading too much into a comment, taking stuff personally, seeing lighthearted jokes as criticism, whatever. We want to abolish is the obviously hateful stuff rather than shutting down people we just disagree with, right?

In summary, flagging is a land of contrasts.
posted by misha at 1:54 PM on March 25, 2014


it seems that something in the interface discourages users to fully engage with that particular feature.

Well except it didn't used to. This is the MeFi culture shifting as much as anything else and revamping the tool doesn't do anything to address that issue necessarily. There may be technological ways that we can address that in some ways, but the flagging system has been the same for years and there appears to be (Josh will need to check the actual stats) a decline in post flagging.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:57 PM on March 25, 2014


Obviously because all MeFi content is now PERFECT.
posted by Chrysostom at 2:00 PM on March 25, 2014 [4 favorites]


the flagging system has been the same for years and there appears to be (Josh will need to check the actual stats) a decline in post flagging

Thanks, makes sense. This is probably not a new thought either - one wonders whether that decline has to do with the increasing use of mobile devices…it's kinda hard to hit these tiny buttons on a tiny screen...
posted by Namlit at 2:08 PM on March 25, 2014 [3 favorites]


Namlit, I think there's a way to slide a comment in order to favorite it.
posted by Melismata at 2:12 PM on March 25, 2014


Or it could be that some people feel flagging does nothing so why bother. I know the mods will probably disagree, but if the user perceives that their flagging has been futile then why bother next time. If it's that bad someone will drag it to meta.
posted by Big_B at 2:14 PM on March 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


Namlit: This is probably not a new thought either - one wonders whether that decline has to do with the increasing use of mobile devices…it's kinda hard to hit these tiny buttons on a tiny screen...

You'd presumably be able to see a similar decline in favoriting, maybe adjusting for the (I think) small percentage of users who have activated the "swipe to favorite" feature if that were the case.
posted by Rock Steady at 2:18 PM on March 25, 2014


Swipe to Favorite
posted by zarq at 2:27 PM on March 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


I wish we could swipe others' favorites in a more fully gamified system.
posted by planetesimal at 2:28 PM on March 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


We've had sort of an ongoing concern that people don't seem to flag posts they think aren't a good fit for MetaFilter.

Good fit quality wise, or more in the context of community spirit?
posted by MartinWisse at 2:30 PM on March 25, 2014


currently:
fantastic comment
double comment
HTML/display error
offensive/ sexist /racist
noise
derail
it breaks the guidelines
other

I propose something like this:
fantastic comment - basically this is good
this is not good
HTML/ display error/ double comment - this is basically housekeeping
offensive/ sexist /racist
noise/ derail
it breaks the guidelines
needs moderator attention
other

What I think, from reading MeTa over time, is that flagging, in and of itself = needs moderator attention, so I flag things sometimes. If a post bugs me, I say so in the post. There are posts where I have no comment, but really liked the post, and I say so in the post. A good FPP isn't always one that gets the most comments; some terrific FPPs point out something wonderful on the Web.
posted by theora55 at 2:30 PM on March 25, 2014


Though deep in my data-wankery heart I want every flag to require a free-form reason so we can perform analysis on them. Also, it would give me chance to flag comments with a reason of "Bleurgh!".

Having had a similar system at work upon which I had to do the data wankery this is a bad idea because the people who use it are dumb and bad.

You get things like 'blue' and 'hdchhbd' and 'plzremivemefromlist' and 'toozday' and you want to wipe out our species with cleansing fire after eight hours trying to read the minds of concussed hamsters.

Ugh now I have to go lie down because the twitching is coming back.
posted by winna at 2:39 PM on March 25, 2014 [18 favorites]


theora55: " HTML/ display error/ double comment - this is basically housekeeping"

I believe it's better to separate the doubles category from the HTML/Display Error category. If you combine them, it will be impossible for mods to quickly tell what they should be looking for. You don't want them spinning their wheels looking for a broken link or a grammatical error when they don't need to.
posted by zarq at 2:39 PM on March 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


The whole point is to increase efficiency, I mean.
posted by zarq at 2:40 PM on March 25, 2014


I wonder if the perceived decline in flagging comes from a changing userbase who don't feel as clear on what, for example, "it breaks the guidelines" means?

I posted some suggestions for updated flags in the other thread, but I think really what we need is:
  • Yay this is so great
  • I think this should be deleted
  • FYI mods you probably want to check in here in case shit gets crazy but I don't think it should be deleted
  • Display error of some sort like HTML or a double
  • Other
Obviously the phrasing needs work but this is the Pterodactyl model of flag reform.

Sometimes part of the reason I don't flag things it that, while I think it's worth keeping an eye on them, I don't really think they should be deleted and I don't think there's a clear way to express that. I would probably flag more posts if I thought I could convey "Hmmmm, maybe look at this?" and not "please delete this".
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 2:42 PM on March 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


Oh, yeah, also, having just read what Zarq said, that was more for comments than for posts; I think a double post is sufficiently different from a double-posted comment to merit its own flag though I think the others would still work.

Also, obviously I wouldn't phrase a flag "I think this should be deleted" because that would probably spawn a zillion MeTas on the theme of "I said this should be deleted and it wasn't WTF", that was just a placeholder for a more cautiously-worded flag to convey that sentiment.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 2:44 PM on March 25, 2014


Good fit quality wise, or more in the context of community spirit?

Not flagging at all. I don't know what the assessment is that they're not making.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:45 PM on March 25, 2014


I think I use the Other flag the most. I just want a moderator to look at it. If it breaks some low threshold for them to actually go look at it, then I trust that they will be able to figure out what is going on.
posted by Roger Dodger at 2:46 PM on March 25, 2014 [6 favorites]


For myself it's been that either posts are so clearly unsuited one way or another y'all mods already have deleted it before I can flag, or they're not quite my cup of tea but I can ignored them and move on, as mostly the case with the example here.

Hence I think I've only flagged my own (double) posts so far.
posted by MartinWisse at 2:48 PM on March 25, 2014


Flag this Post and Move On:
Spam/Self-link
Active Fundraiser/Behind Paywall
Broken Link/Formatting Error
Double (posted within the last 12 months)
Posted to Wrong Subsite
[Ask only] Contains Multiple/Unclear/No Question(s)

Flag this Comment and Move On:
Sexism/Racism/Transphobia
Broken Link/Double Comment/Formatting Error
Threadshitting/Derailing/Dominating Thread/"Paraphrasing"
Discussion/Criticism of Other Members/Moderation (belongs on Metatalk)
[Ask only] Does Not Answer the Question

Request Moderator Response (brings up contact form)
posted by misha at 2:58 PM on March 25, 2014 [3 favorites]


I don't have any good ideas to make people flag more, sorry.

Personally I don't flag FPPs very much because most of them seem fine? Not amazing, not awful, generally kind of wanky at worst. I more often flag comments because they're part of a conversation and I see someone being shitty and that gives me a frowny-face, so I flag it. FPPs seem to most often be made from a not-shitty place, even if the actual post is something I roll my eyes at.
posted by kavasa at 3:00 PM on March 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


Aha: swipe it and move on.

It's not really a problem for me since I usually sit behind my laptop, but yeah, if the percentage of actually swiping mobile users is low, I think I might have been sorta right...
posted by Namlit at 3:18 PM on March 25, 2014


misha: "Flag this Post and Move On"

Perhaps it's just me, but don't most of these seem like they would be obvious to even a semi-conscious mod? I actually feel like spelling them out would be counterproductive, because there are at least a couple you list that could conceivably increase the number of deleted comments if they were added to the flagging reasons.

We definitely don't need the mods policing comments so granularly that they start deleting or leaving mod notes for "Paraphrasing" for example. Is this even a widespread problem? Plus we already have had multiple instances where threads were closed before they even showed the slightest sign of being a problem.
posted by zarq at 3:19 PM on March 25, 2014


Heh I like ""Paraphrasing""
posted by Namlit at 3:19 PM on March 25, 2014


Did I just write """Paraphrasing"""?
posted by Namlit at 3:20 PM on March 25, 2014 [8 favorites]


Request Moderator Response (brings up contact form)

yes! to this.

tho more of a theoretical yes because I honestly have almost never flagged anything. A. because I generally only click a link if it's of interest, so even if the post's sloppily done or whatever, I'm inclined to let it slide. B. because if something's really obvious, there's almost always something done about it before it would occur to me to flag it. C. (more comment specific) I guess I'm just inclined to let things go regardless of what gets said -- they're just words after all.
posted by philip-random at 3:23 PM on March 25, 2014


Every time we debate tightening post and comment restrictions as well as setting specific, more stringent rules for participation (as opposed to the loose guidelines we currently have) I feel like the result would be an open invitation to the rules lawyers amongst us to incessantly debate the shit out of deletions and moderation decisions.

Tons of deletion threads already feature outraged people pulling up hypothetical gotchas to the mods, to which they have to endlessly explain "we take things on a case-by-case basis." I've done it more than once myself.

Be careful what you wish for, folks.
posted by zarq at 3:23 PM on March 25, 2014 [5 favorites]


-- they're just words after all.

guess I should elaborate a bit on this. I do think that words can be very hurtful etc, and have often seen really horrible stuff being said online. Just not much here, which I guess is my way of saying that, whatever it is the mods are doing here (in collaboration with the community), it mostly seems to be working.
posted by philip-random at 3:26 PM on March 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


Pick A Reason To Flag:

It Chafes My Personal Hobby Horse
posted by klangklangston at 3:28 PM on March 25, 2014 [7 favorites]


Pick A Reason To Flag:

It Really Rustled My Jimmies
posted by Hoopo at 3:53 PM on March 25, 2014 [10 favorites]


What is it about being an alienated 23-year-old that makes libertarian arguments seem like God's holy incontrovertible truth?

HOARMOANS
posted by y2karl at 4:31 PM on March 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


What is it about being an alienated 23-year-old that makes libertarian arguments seem like God's holy incontrovertible truth?

I think it's that Libertarians tend to be wrong, while R/D don't even rise to that level and just proffer complete bullshit. (Frankfurt sense.) The relative lack of bullshit is refreshing and I think lowers the mental guards.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 4:37 PM on March 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


"I just want the mods to see this. I want the mods to experience this post/comment. I want this post/comment to be something that one or more MeFi mods can truthfully say that they have seen, personally."
posted by capricorn at 4:54 PM on March 25, 2014 [4 favorites]


When I run across a post that I think is kinda lame but not actually offensive, I usually just move along. In fact, I don't think I've ever flagged a post just for being lame; I tend to figure that it's just not my thing, but that maybe somebody else will really like it. There's tons of stuff appears on MeFi every day that does nothing for me but which is obviously of great interest to other people, so it just doesn't occur to me to flag a post just because I happen to think that the linked content is dumb or uninteresting.

I guess that's not exactly what you (the mods) are talking about, though? I get the impression that you'd like it if users would flag posts that they thought were not just uninteresting but actually of poor quality as posts? That sounds pretty reasonable and I'll try to keep it in mind, but honestly I think that unless I immediately find a post really great (to me) then I tend to move on pretty early. I don't tend to stick around to evaluate posts that aren't scratching my special spot; I'm usually gone before I've looked at it in enough depth to make that judgment.
posted by Scientist at 5:14 PM on March 25, 2014 [2 favorites]


I want this post/comment to be something that one or more MeFi mods can truthfully say that they have seen, personally.

We check out every flag on comments (and any of the DANGER flags on posts -- offensive/breaks guidelines) so literally any flag will do this.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:25 PM on March 25, 2014


I get the impression that you'd like it if users would flag posts that they thought were not just uninteresting but actually of poor quality as posts?

Yeah, pretty much. "I'm not into it" isn't really a great reason to flag; "I think this is a badly made/badly considered/badly sourced/ill-fitting post for the front page of Mefi" totally is. Obviously shades of grey and matters of degree for anyone to make a judgement call on, but to an extent I'd say if you find yourself sometimes thinking "man, why is this post on the front page" but aren't ever flagging those posts, that's a good opportunity to be a little more active in your flagging.

We'll always end up looking at and thinking about the flags on a post rather than just deciding "welp, it's got flags, better delete it", but we can't even be sure to see a post that a lot of people think is bordering-on-not-postworthy but don't end up flagging.
posted by cortex (staff) at 5:28 PM on March 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


How about making the flag button spawn a new Metatalk post?
posted by double block and bleed at 5:37 PM on March 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: "welp, it's got flags, better delete it".
posted by Melismata at 6:07 PM on March 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


Actual footage of Mod HQ when something is flagged.
posted by Chrysostom at 6:37 PM on March 25, 2014 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: a good opportunity to be a little more active in your flagging.
posted by michaelh at 6:38 PM on March 25, 2014


written by someone with no expertise or import in their field.

Welcome to metafilter. Actually...that should be the motto of askme.

Ask Metafilter: written by someone with no expertise or import in their field.


My broader question is, if the contents of the FPP is crap, but the discussion will be good, does that make it an appropriate FPP for metafilter?

Prepare for the term "generally".
posted by hal_c_on at 9:35 PM on March 25, 2014


We've had sort of an ongoing concern that people don't seem to flag posts they think aren't a good fit for MetaFilter.

Ok, being sincere. I don't usually flag, because it seems as if what I consider flaggable may not be what others consider to be flaggable. And I have to weigh whether its of more value for me to NOT see that post, or its of more value for others to see it. And then my electronic scale needs batteries.

Also, I'm still kinda pissed that this shit is still up here.
posted by hal_c_on at 9:45 PM on March 25, 2014


We definitely don't need the mods policing comments so granularly that they start deleting or leaving mod notes for "Paraphrasing" for example. Is this even a widespread problem?

Well, zarq, I think it kinda is, yes. People mentioned it in the unholy Meta deletion longboat thread, and that spawned another Meta just to discuss how pernicious bad-faith paraphrasing has become. It's something users seem to have strong feelings about which is not currently addressed through existing site channels.
posted by misha at 12:21 AM on March 26, 2014 [3 favorites]


My hunch is that it would have gotten more flags and perhaps more mod attention if it were hosted on blogspot or wordpress, but Medium's glossy presentation lends an air of credibility to someone being wrong on the Internet.

I think this is an issue that needs to be dealt with, yea.

Although i've been a champion of "Jeeze, piss off with the SLYT hate", the general style and presentation of medium really does make it appear that whoever is writing it is speaking from a position of authority and that it may even be like, a legitimate source of journalism.

I'm not a web publishing hater, and i don't think that just because a solo person is writing something it inherently lacks value or anything like that. I've just seen some real dreck get pushed to the top of the stack on semi-highbrow places like the blue and "go viral" lately that was really just some belches and flatulence or deranged rantings set to some nice photos on Medium.

It reminds me of that experiment where people were served crappy fast food in a fine dining restaurant, plated in a fancy manner.

It's a sort of pepsi challenge thing, but with the suspension of a certain amount of pre-loaded critical thought and consideration that should be happening.

You can take this with a grain of salt if you like, since i was a person who hated the "shame on you white people for volunteering in developing countries" medium post both as a stand alone object, and as the anchor for an FPP. But i absolutely agree that nothing on there should be taken any more seriously than a similar rant posted on tumblr or other similar sites, and it really seems like people give it more credence because of the slick web 2.5 presentation and the vibe it radiates of being "curated" or... something.
posted by emptythought at 3:12 AM on March 26, 2014 [2 favorites]


I guess I disagree that it's widespread, then, misha. The presence of a metatalk post on a subject/a handful of people discussing something doesn't necessarily mean we have a sitewide problem or even that mod intervention is required or desirable.

For heaven's sake, if someone feels they're being misrepresented, how hard is it to say, "That's not what I said. *This* is what I said. If you're going to quote me then do it properly, please"? We have not lost the ability to verbally engage and stand up for ourselves. Under normal circumstances, why should the mods need to do it for us?
posted by zarq at 3:25 AM on March 26, 2014 [2 favorites]


zarq: For heaven's sake, if someone feels they're being misrepresented, how hard is it to say, "That's not what I said. *This* is what I said. If you're going to quote me then do it properly, please"?

Pretty hard, because then you're "taking on all comers" or "making the thread about you".
posted by spaltavian at 5:35 AM on March 26, 2014 [4 favorites]


Use in flags is declining - does this mean that the number of flags is staying relatively static, or does it mean it is actually decreasing as the userbase increases? Each symptom points to different problems. The first is about new user education; the second is about a shift in community norms.

Because all of the flag options are confusing to me - there's a lot of overlap, and some stuff that feels like it is missing - I tend to just pick the "breaks guidelines" flag because I know that a mod will see it and probably take a gander at the thread in question no matter what. We might want to make flagging incredibly simple, knowing how it actually works behind-the-scenes:
- Needs moderator attention
- Fantastic post

This, to me, reduces all of the confusion users might experience. Now, it removes some data from the mod side of things; it might be helpful to know whether any current flags have substantially different mod responses (e.g. display error flags may usually only be handled by pb - I don't think this is actually the case; it's just an example of what I mean) to make sure that the mods get the data they need while allowing the flagging option to be incredibly simple for users.

I'm not sure flag options signal much to new members about what is and is not acceptable here, to be honest. The community itself does most of that norm-setting. And flags are pretty hidden as it is, so I doubt they do much norm-broadcasting to newer members as they are.

I know that before I knew that mods basically just check everything that has been flagged multiple times I often didn't flag because my reason didn't match the ones available, and instead of doing mental effort to figure out the difference between "breaks the guidelines" and "noise" and "derail" and then mapping my issue to that vocabulary - I would just not flag at all. I think that an examination on the mod side looking at what flags are handled dramatically differently and keeping only those, with a new "mod attention needed" flag, might really simplify them and make them more usable and therefore more likely to be used.
posted by sockermom at 5:35 AM on March 26, 2014


Is it too late to flag it now?
posted by Obscure Reference at 5:56 AM on March 26, 2014


spaltavian: " Pretty hard, because then you're "taking on all comers" or "making the thread about you"."

I think that when someone is told they are doing either of those things, there's a larger problem at hand, not simply that they are being "paraphrased." Typically people who are told they're "making the thread about them" are taking an unpopular position, not being willfully misinterpreted, no?
posted by zarq at 6:02 AM on March 26, 2014


The two are not mutually exclusive.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:37 AM on March 26, 2014 [2 favorites]


The two often occur together.
posted by cribcage at 6:39 AM on March 26, 2014 [4 favorites]


zarq: Typically people who are told they're "making the thread about them" are taking an unpopular position, not being willfully misinterpreted, no?

True, but how often are people taking the popular position "paraphrased".
posted by spaltavian at 6:51 AM on March 26, 2014 [3 favorites]


Kirth Gerson: "The two are not mutually exclusive."

cribcage: "The two often occur together."

spaltavian: " True, but how often are people taking the popular position "paraphrased"."

Heh.

I was trying to say that I think being paraphrased is a symptom of the larger problem -- and it's better to address that larger problem than focus on a symptom that I think both happens more rarely and is perhaps a distraction from the real issue.

Something we've seen in the past with people who are consistently, repeatedly disruptive is they tend to make complaints about the way they are treated, while ignoring a larger dynamic they're involved in that actually triggered the blowback.

So perhaps someone says something kind of sexist about women, and then complains that they're not being given a fair hearing because the site is "too liberal." The problem in such a case really isn't that the site is "too liberal." It's that they've said something kind of sexist and people didn't like it. There are folks here who seem to have an ongoing mental disconnect between what they say and how people react. I'm often very sympathetic to them, because I've been That Guy and it sure was unpleasant as hell to be on the receiving end. But by claiming that they're victims of the MeFi Hive Mind, sometimes they also decide they've done nothing wrong and often that's not the case. Which is counterproductive and solves nothing.

So no, I don't think being paraphrased is a problem that needs to be specifically addressed by mod intervention. If people are being piled on, we should deal with that. If people are being disruptive we should deal with that, too.
posted by zarq at 7:39 AM on March 26, 2014 [4 favorites]


Totally agree with zarq here, but if I read misha right she's talking about a specific flavour of paraphrasing, which tends to take the form of, say, me saying I had a puppy once, it shat all over the carpet and someone else going "gnfti: All puppies should be banned". Please correct me if I misunderstand, but if we're on the same page here then I'd say this is most definitely worth flagging. When I see egregious instances of this sort of thing I do tend to delete them and/or leave a note.

But I feel compelled to add, often enough things aren't quite as clear-cut as in my (absurd) example. As mods we're absolutely always ready to step in if things get out of hand; and at the risk of sounding like a broken record, flagging a comment is a very reliable way of summoning our immediate attention. But I do think there are instances where the misquoted user basically saying "That's not what I meant, I meant [a more specific/nuanced thing]" by themselves tends to be more effective at clearing things up than any instrument of moderation.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying "Stand up for yourself and every thread will be a land of dreams and cake" (if I'm allowed to misparaphrase myself I guess), but I do feel like this sort of thing tends to be more clearly defined when we're discussing it here in the abstract, while practical examples are often more nuanced or complicated. So, I think all the mods are pretty much aware of misparaphrasing as a phenomenon, and it's definitely worth pointing them out. But at the same time it's one of those things we try to weigh against the context of the specific discussion.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane (staff) at 9:46 AM on March 26, 2014 [3 favorites]


One problem with paraphrasing is that it seems to me that "inaccurate paraphrases" are more likely to stem from unclear writing as from hostility. We're mostly spitballing here, and it's easy for people to write something that very clearly means "A" to them but also very clearly means something slightly, or very, different to people reading them.

That's not to say deliberate misparaphrasing never happens, but a little charity both ways doesn't hurt. When someone badly misreads what I wrote, I try to consider the possibility that my writing was a bit less clear than I wanted, and when someone writes something amazingly dumb/wrongheaded/whatever, I try to assume the same of them. Cromwell wasn't talking about Metafilter, but "I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible that you may be mistaken" isn't a bad attitude to take when you're misread or (possibly) misreading.
posted by immlass at 10:30 AM on March 26, 2014 [2 favorites]


Look, we don't have any *proof* that Cromwell wasn't a time traveler.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:51 AM on March 26, 2014 [3 favorites]


MetaTalk: All puppies should be banned.
posted by MoonOrb at 11:16 AM on March 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: Flagging is flagging
posted by chavenet at 12:06 PM on March 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


I have often wondered if the "fantastic comment" thing is worthwhile. Don't fantastic comments tend to accrue a bazillion favourites, and attract attention thusly? Doesn't favouriting a comment generally (and I know there are other uses, but generally) mean that it's pretty darn good?

I feel like, if we're reviewing options, "recommend for sidebar" is a more accurate representation of what the flag is for than just saying "hey, this is pretty great." The former has an outpoint, the latter is just kind of "double favourite" but doesn't mean much to me as a user.
posted by Shepherd at 12:26 PM on March 26, 2014


For what it's worth, I don't flag things not because of any problem with the interface, but because I don't actually want to see everything I don't like/am not interested in disappear necessarily. Simply skipping things I don't want to read is effective for my purposes, even if I think some particular post is not so good. If other people are getting something out of the thread, it's no skin off my back. It'd only be a rash of a certain types of bad posts that I would think otherwise, but that seems to be handled with or without flagging by virtue of having involved moderators and metatalk, so I'm not clear what purpose it serves for borderline posts people disagree on. It's not up for a vote, is it?
posted by cj_ at 12:29 PM on March 26, 2014


Well, I think that it is worth flagging bad posts that are bad for reasons besides you don't like what they say. If I see an axe-grindy post whose perspective I disagree with, I don't flag it, I read the links or ignore it and move on. When I flag an axe-grindy post, it's because I think it's axe-grindy AND I agree with the point it's trying to make.

Or, if it's not peak time and the discussion has gone to hell (like, "fuck you, no fuck you" gone to hell) I'll flag it, usually as other, not because I want the thread deleted, but because the mods aren't omniscient and I think they should know that a knife-fight is happening somewhere.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 12:57 PM on March 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


Also, I'm still kinda pissed that this shit is still up here.

Good looking out, whichever mod finally deleted that. Previous attempts over memail to have a mod delete it were unsuccessful. But I guess posting on meta solves problems because it makes it a community problem. So...I guess I'm in support of the grey.

Long live the grey.
posted by hal_c_on at 1:09 PM on March 26, 2014


Metafilter: I think they should know that a knife-fight is happening somewhere.
posted by corb at 1:21 PM on March 26, 2014


Also, I'm still kinda pissed that this shit is still up here.

Good looking out, whichever mod finally deleted that.


Um, I think it's still there. And you didn't flag it and didn't use to contact form to talk to us about it and it's the first time I've seen it.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:28 PM on March 26, 2014


It's six months old, which is an eternity to care about something here.
posted by planetesimal at 1:35 PM on March 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


I thought it didn't look very familiar....
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:44 PM on March 26, 2014


I still see it too.
posted by rtha at 1:56 PM on March 26, 2014


Heh. It's a new tool in the mod box: They made it so hal_c_on couldn't see it, but everyone else can.
posted by klangklangston at 2:21 PM on March 26, 2014


A new tool in the mod box?? What devilry is this!
posted by Namlit at 2:34 PM on March 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


Unless we're going to do a lot more modding by fiat, we need peoples feedback at the time that they think a post maybe isn't good for MeFi.

I don't flag posts on the Blue very often, because I take a fairly permissive attitude on what should be allowed, but every once in a while I see a post that I think is just a bad post for MeFi (which is not merely "I don't agree with it" or "I'm not interested in it") and flag it. I think I usually use "other" or "breaks the guidelines," even if I can't cite a specific guideline it breaks.

Here's the thing: I sometimes do this with semi-old posts, by which I mean 12 hours up to maybe a week old, even though I know they're not going to get deleted, because if a post is going to get deleted it happens within the first few hours.

So when I do that I've always tried to send psychic waves through the flag which say, "I know you're not going to delete this because it would have happened already if it were going to happen at all, and I'm OK with that and accept it, but I would still like to register my opinion that I don't think this is a good post."

And in the back of my mind I've wondered if I'm providing useful feedback, or if I'm just annoying the mods by giving them a flag to clear on something that I know isn't going to be deleted anyway. So it's good to know that yes, it actually is useful feedback when I do that.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 2:45 PM on March 26, 2014


Metatalk: takes a fairly permissive attitude on what should be allowed.

[i just had to. Priceless phrase!]
posted by Namlit at 2:49 PM on March 26, 2014


Pretty hard, because then you're "taking on all comers" or "making the thread about you".

As if there's not tons of country, hills, and trees between the two.

Unless someone is trying to paint you as hysterical or whatever, going "that's not what i said" if you're not being disingenuous is not the type of threadcrapping you're describing.
posted by emptythought at 2:49 PM on March 26, 2014


Well, it becomes "making it about you" if you find yourself repeatedly correcting how other people paraphrase you. Once or twice is fine but if people still don't get it, they never will.
posted by Omnomnom at 3:07 PM on March 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


To me paraphrase means: "this is what I heard and how your comment made me felt." When it creates friction is when the rewording expresses a reaction, and that tends to read like hyperbole to the original commenter.

This is not just the slippage between intention and reception, it's the fact that paraphrase communicates the effects of the reception-- how the words made you felt.

I have been trying to use quotation marks and italics as a courtesy to the person I am engaging. I think it shows that at the very least I read the words on the screen.

Another way to rephrase a commenter's words is to use the phrase: "I hear you that..."

That says 'I read your comment.' Then you can disagree: "I hear you that apples taste better than oranges, but for me the real issue is not taste, the real issue juiciness."

If you distill the disagreement to one word like this (taste vs. juiciness), you create emphasis, clarity and a bit of distance. Generalizations force you to be more precise if you apply them to yourself as well as to "the other side."

Maybe this looks like overthinking. Even though we identify paraphrase and hyperbole as maybe specific to certain users, they do seem to pop up more often nowadays when everyone frames disagreement. It's worth recognizing that and considering alternatives that make things go more smoothly in the long run.
posted by vincele at 4:43 PM on March 26, 2014


Well, it becomes "making it about you" if you find yourself repeatedly correcting how other people paraphrase you. Once or twice is fine but if people still don't get it, they never will

If you really find yourself having to do it more than once or twice either:

1. use the contact form because someone obviously has a hard on for shitting up the thread, and get a second opinion on whether or not serious assholism is going on.

or

2. you're doing that thing where people are responding to exactly what you wrote, but there's some magical intent that wasn't in your words you're convinced they're not getting despite the fact that they aren't telepathic(this is a thing that happens on here not like, super often but often enough to be worth mentioning). Contact form is probably still a good idea because then someone who you might actually listen to can go "yea, those people are responding to exactly what you said. they're not misunderstanding you just because they didn't agree with you".
posted by emptythought at 4:55 PM on March 26, 2014 [2 favorites]


Another way to rephrase a commenter's words is to use the phrase: "I hear you that..."

That says 'I read your comment.' Then you can disagree: "I hear you that apples taste better than oranges, but for me the real issue is not taste, the real issue juiciness."


FWIW, I'm fourth-generation San Francisco Bay Arean touchy-feely consensus-driven like whoa, and that phrasing puts my teeth on edge.
posted by Lexica at 7:42 PM on March 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


I know, right? juiciness. Gross.
posted by MoonOrb at 8:46 PM on March 26, 2014


I know, right? juiciness. Gross.

I thought about contrasting "juiciness" with "mouthfeel" but I felt that was going a little too far. Hehe
posted by vincele at 10:31 PM on March 26, 2014


Your comment has been flagged for poor mouthfeel.
posted by Dip Flash at 9:41 AM on March 27, 2014 [4 favorites]


What a bunch of moist mouthfeelers.
posted by planetesimal at 10:26 AM on March 27, 2014 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: the real issue juiciness.
posted by daisyk at 8:54 AM on March 28, 2014


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