Tagging Users In Comments and Posts June 1, 2014 4:23 AM   Subscribe

I know that things are rough right now, and Metafilter is understaffed and all that (everybody donate $10 right now!), but I was hoping that maybe there could be a way to tag other users easily a la Facebook and Twitter, etc, so that if we add an @ in a comment or post, we could just add the username and the name would link to that person's profile.

Of course, this would come with the option to not link as some people have very common word-choice names. I'm looking at you pants.

Perhaps there could also be a function where if you add an @ and started typing it would give you options to automatically fill in people that you link to (to clarify this statement, when I say "link to" I mean as a user who "follows" or "links to" another user). So if I typed in "@p" it would try to fill in "pants," someone I follow.

An even bigger pony request (full-sized horse maybe) would be that users would get notifications (perhaps in memail) if they were tagged and then be provided a link back to the comments / posts. Any thoughts on this?
posted by degoao to Feature Requests at 4:23 AM (163 comments total)

It would just link to the person's profile? That's pretty easy to do now on your own, but most people don't bother. I'm not sure what benefit this brings?

I can better understand the request where tagging a person would cause them to be notified. But if this is done, I feel strongly that it should not be publicly viewable. I would hate for Metafilter to be filled up with @s in each comment. It always feels so clubby on other social media sites. Metafilter is best when it feels like a conversation for all, not conversation directed at a few.
posted by painquale at 4:52 AM on June 1, 2014 [9 favorites]


Ugh, no.
posted by barnacles at 4:54 AM on June 1, 2014 [49 favorites]


Thumbs down. If you want to link to someone's profile, you can do it with some quick HTML. If you think someone really needs to be alerted to something in a thread, you can send them a MeMail. Automating the process would (a) clutter up the place, and (b) make MetaFilter look more like Twitter, which I think we can all agree is something to be avoided at all costs.

(What next? Hashtags?)
posted by Faint of Butt at 4:57 AM on June 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


@degoao #lolnope
posted by ryanrs at 5:02 AM on June 1, 2014 [19 favorites]


I think it would be nice if when you were mentioned in a thread and you opened it up again later, posts you were mentioned in were highlighted somehow. Actual notifications might be a bit far.
posted by ElliotH at 5:12 AM on June 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm also not seeing what this would do to make the reading experience here any better.
posted by Ipsifendus at 5:13 AM on June 1, 2014


Agree that I don't see much benefit in this.

I think the only thing related to this that would be nice would be a built-in way to link to other comments in the thread with one click, but there are already scripts that add this feature.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 5:18 AM on June 1, 2014


I get why the notification seems like a good idea because, hey, who doesn't want to know when someone's talking about/responding to them? The problem is, sometimes people actually DON'T want that; if you've left a thread because it's bothering you and people are still responding but you're taking a walk to calm down, for example, you don't want to get dragged back in. I think it might also reinforce the idea of the "cult of popularity" that some people see, or end up being kind of an in-group communication tool. Also, I like that the conversations here are bigger and more inclusive and (generally) not just between two people while the rest of us watch. I think this could lead to people feeling excluded or change the style of conversation.

I understand why you'd propose this, but overall I don't think it's actually an idea that would work out so well for Metafilter, even though, yeah, it would be super exciting to know that you'd been heard.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 5:37 AM on June 1, 2014 [18 favorites]


No, thank you. I can't imagine why you'd want to do this, but in any case, it's not like you can't do this already for whatever reasons you have.

Metafilter is pretty much anti-"@" in comments to begin with, so I don't imagine there will be much support for automating the use of it for anything.
posted by tzikeh at 5:39 AM on June 1, 2014 [2 favorites]


I don't understand why you need to link to people's profile pages so often.

If it's looking them up and finding the proper link/user ID, then you might want to know that you can link to user pages with usernames too. So instead of http://www.metafilter.com/user/60913 you can write http://www.metafilter.com/username/degoao and it will automatically redirect people.
posted by bjrn at 5:44 AM on June 1, 2014 [4 favorites]


This is not Facebook or Twitter. Please don't try to change that.
posted by tommasz at 5:44 AM on June 1, 2014 [14 favorites]


This has been discussed many, many, many times in the past. It's come up as side-discussions in other MeTa posts as well.
posted by jedicus at 5:59 AM on June 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


I totally get the desire for sort of real-timey response notifications the way Facebook and Twitter do them, but I think Metafilter's mechanisms are vastly different, making this relatively unworkable.

For one thing, a big part of the wife's ethos is the option to use functions in whatever way you want. So lots of people don't link to anybody at all; the autocomplete thing would only help a vanishing number of people in a vanishing number of circumstances, I'm afraid. And the existence of very long usernames with spaces and commas and stuff means that username detection would be incredibly problematic, I think. And while I'm speaking of the site's ethos, I'll say that this idea of tagging (which has come up several times before, as I recall) seems akin in my mind to requests we sometimes get for a standardized quoting mechanism. I know people want that for a good enough reason: because it would simplify and make things scan a bit better, and allow for further optimizations like linking and such. But it's counter to the foundational idea here that people should be able to comment however the hell they want. If people want to use odd quote styles, that's up to them. So it is with mentioning people in-thread; if they want to notify the person, that's fine, and they have a mechanism for doing so; but trying to force folks into that mode isn't really how we do things here.

I mean - generally, there is not really an unsolved problem this would fix, either. We have "Recent Activity," which will tell you what's happened in conversations you've participated in; and we have the in-thread notification of new comments. So I don't think it's something that's necessary.
posted by koeselitz at 6:02 AM on June 1, 2014


it would give you options to automatically fill in people

Oh that 'it!' It does 'it' every time!
posted by carsonb at 6:14 AM on June 1, 2014


By the way: if you really want alerts when your username is mentioned, there is a way to do that already, and it's pretty easy to set up:

1. Go to Google Alerts.

2. Set the "Search Query" field to

"username" -"posted by username" site:metafilter.com

- replacing username with your actual username - and select "all results."

3. Enter your email and create the alert.

That will send an email to you every time Google detects a new use of your username on Metafilter in threads where you haven't commented. It isn't super useful if you have a very common word as a username (sorry, pants) but otherwise it should work fine for the purposes of notification.
posted by koeselitz at 6:16 AM on June 1, 2014 [11 favorites]


(In my comment above, "wife's ethos" should be "site's ethos." That's a relatively interesting autocorrect error there.)
posted by koeselitz at 6:18 AM on June 1, 2014 [34 favorites]


The cultural aspects aside, this would not work as well on Metafilter because our usernames can be long and can contain spaces. @degoao is OK; but @We had a deal, Kyle looks terrible and would be hard for the backend to parse.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 6:28 AM on June 1, 2014 [5 favorites]


Just speaking for myself: I don't think this is a good idea for Metafilter specifically, no. I get the good motivation (potentially boosting casual engagement/interaction) but one thing we've tried to avoid emphasizing in conversations over the years is a high level of user-centric behavior—we'd rather a thread, a conversation, be more about what folks are talking about than about who is talking. So automating the introduction of a lot more visual emphasis on Yes But User X Probably Has An Opinion On This feels at odds with that, for one thing.

Beyond that, where we've typically seen people manually invoking other non-present users in threads in the past, it has often been sort of crappy or disruptive PAGING USER X BECAUSE OF A JOKE HA HA or PAGING USER Y BECAUSE I THINK THEIR OPINION ABOUT THIS SUCKS AND THEY'LL BE HERE IN ANY MINUTE TO PROVE IT stuff that we as often as not end up having to delete. So the unintended consequence of enabling that with official functionality seems even more problematic than just the users-not-conversations raw noise issue.

Right now, what works pretty well for letting someone know about a thread you think they'd be interested in is dropping them a quick mefimail. It's direct, it's discreet (they can engage or not as they see fit and not have to decide how they feel about being publicly invoked or the phrasing of that invocation), and it doesn't create a new user-focused distraction in the thread.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:31 AM on June 1, 2014 [10 favorites]


Sometimes when I'm alone in the house and reading and my dog is nearby I'll read out loud to my dog, just so he feels included.

I'm lying in bed right now and my dog was lying with his head on my stomach. I read this metatalk and he promptly got up, burrowed, and buried himself under the covers.
posted by phunniemee at 6:42 AM on June 1, 2014 [20 favorites]


Now I want a dog so I can read him MetaTalk threads. The cat is not interested.
posted by Omnomnom at 6:44 AM on June 1, 2014 [6 favorites]


I can see the need for a shortcut to link to a comment upthread, but linking back to a user's profile doesn't have much use.

Ravelry's forums have a feature where you can effectively "page" someone by linking their username in a comment, and it sends them a message. I really like it for Ravelry, where things are chattier and very open-ended and groups are smaller, so it's not like "hey User X you NEED to comment on this RIGHT NOW" so much as "hey User X this thread full of Pacific Rim GIFs might interest you." I don't think it'd be as helpful here.
posted by Metroid Baby at 6:47 AM on June 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


I've thought about this feature for a while before. One thing is I wouldn't want @username mentions to be required in that format. I think it's weird and clunky and unnatural to talk to people in text like that (but it's fine for Twitter). I know a good reason why many non-Twitter systems adopted it was because it's easy to program against, to look for that really unique pattern that people wouldn't normally use in comments and auto-link them. I could see the mechanism being linking to a user's profile page instead and that being something that you could search the database for. A helper "hint" app on the user side would be fairly difficult to create though.

I like the idea of a "mentions" feature in general. I use it on many systems and find it handy to know when people are talking about you or asking you to chime in somewhere. I'm not sure how it would work here culturally, if people would jokingly page ColdChef to anything remotely related to a funeral. It might be useful, it might get annoying, I'm not sure. I think it would be interesting for people that rarely get an occasional mention, but I could see how it could make MeFi feel more like "work" if you had a lot of mentions when you arrived at the site.

So I think the bottom line is technically probably possible, but culturally not sure.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 7:05 AM on June 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, and Hell NO!
posted by Gringos Without Borders at 7:26 AM on June 1, 2014 [8 favorites]


The 'calling' people to come to threads seems to work, and it's easy enough to find most through their profile. And I'm mildly a-social and would not like this feature. Because of all the reasons stated above.
posted by From Bklyn at 7:28 AM on June 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


No, thank you.
posted by heyho at 7:30 AM on June 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


If I want to alert someone to a thread, I send them a MeMail. @hellnohellnodonotwantatallpleasedontdothis.
posted by arcticseal at 7:36 AM on June 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


Cool. Bad idea. Got it. I'll be sure to raise my opinion again in the future and not at all feel attacked by assholes with snarky remarks. So mods, close this thread please.

I just want to help make this site better. This is obviously a bad idea, I get it.
posted by degoao at 7:40 AM on June 1, 2014 [8 favorites]


#badidea #why #terrible
posted by oceanjesse at 7:45 AM on June 1, 2014 [2 favorites]


The lack of the features being implemented that you suggested means that you don't have to take this nearly as personally as say twitter for example.
posted by oceanjesse at 7:48 AM on June 1, 2014


I'm sorry you feel this way, degoao. Have a hug.
posted by BeerFilter at 7:51 AM on June 1, 2014 [5 favorites]


Oh, and also: when I search google for

"username" -"posted by username" site:metafilter.com

I only see the projects I voted for on metafilter. That just a me thing?
posted by oceanjesse at 7:53 AM on June 1, 2014


You still use google? ;D
posted by BeerFilter at 7:54 AM on June 1, 2014


I was referencing this earlier comment.
posted by oceanjesse at 7:59 AM on June 1, 2014


Related to this pony - a cousin if you will, perhaps missing a vertebrae or two - I would like a way to respond to a post that linked to the post. I do it manually now when I'm replying at anything more than a page scroll of distance, but it would be nice to automate it.

I'd imagine it something like someone's name turning into a link to their comment in some manner.
posted by Deoridhe at 8:05 AM on June 1, 2014


Degoao, the responses are to the idea, not attacks on you personally. Apologies if my comment read that way, it was not my intent. Seconding the hug.
posted by arcticseal at 8:08 AM on June 1, 2014 [5 favorites]


I just want to help make this site better. This is obviously a bad idea, I get it.

What?

I mean, look, sorry if people were too emphatic up there in the beginning with their "nope!"s but neither the sentiment nor vehemence with which the sentiments were expressed actually mean anything about you as a person. You had an idea for a feature, people asked what benefit it might bring and you don't even answer before deciding that people not liking it means they....are rejecting improvements to the site, and it's personal?

It's too early for hugs over here but I can bring you coffee if you want.
posted by rtha at 8:09 AM on June 1, 2014 [16 favorites]


Maybe @username #TakeItToMeTa could add a standardized callout thread to the MeTa queue.
posted by michaelh at 8:12 AM on June 1, 2014


Degoao, I didn't mean you were #badidea or #terrible. I'd buy you a beer if I could - sorry I posted my dicky hashtag comment right after your comment.
posted by oceanjesse at 8:13 AM on June 1, 2014


oceanjesse, that's the expected result if people haven't mentioned you in threads where you weren't participating.

The equivalent search for my username is pretty similar: projects that I've voted for, plus a couple of places where my name has been mentioned in my absence.
posted by metaBugs at 8:20 AM on June 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


I too hate this idea and indeed any idea in general that starts out with "here's how we can make mefi more like twitter and facebook".
posted by elizardbits at 8:21 AM on June 1, 2014 [8 favorites]


Well, precisely because of the avoidance of user-centric behaviors on MetaFilter proper, MetaTalk is where a lot of the social flexing goes on. Watching a group of people one-upping each other's expressions of horror and bewilderment at your suggestion is probably kind of unfun, if you're not familiar with MetaTalk's dual function of serious policy forum and lightly-moderated social area and overflow valve for MetaFilter - both the model United Nations and the playground, in effect.

Anyway... it looks like this can basically be done with existing mechanisms - if you think coldchef, say, would really like to come in on a thread, you can MeMail. If you want to keep track of what people are saying in threads you've posted to, there's "recent activity". If you want to check if anyone has addressed you directly in a thread that's moving fast, there's ctrl/cmd-f*, and if you want to get notifications when somebody mentions your name there's Google alerts.

(Obviously, "pants" is going to be tougher for this...)

I absolutely get the instinct behind this. That said, over time I've come to think that the fact that you can write long, detailed responses to another user's post and they can miss it completely is actually a feature, not a bug...


*On Chrome, this actually puts little bars on the points along the scroll bar where the search term occurs on the page, which is incredibly useful if you're trying to find e.g. where the discussion of a particular writer is clumped in a thread, rather than having to page through each use and work it out by context...
posted by running order squabble fest at 8:23 AM on June 1, 2014 [3 favorites]


The 'calling' people to come to threads seems to work

It would be so much easier if I didn't have to go find eye of newt, toe of frog, and howlet's wing every time I wanted to summon someone to a thread!
posted by MonkeyToes at 8:25 AM on June 1, 2014


guys i want to play too but try searching for MY username
posted by item at 8:27 AM on June 1, 2014 [6 favorites]


Just a reminder for people whose lives are MetaTalk centric: There are huge swaths of the world where constructive criticism is a thing and people are able push their little baby ideas out into the world secure in the knowledge that while the idea may be gently rebuffed, it will not immediately be torn to shreds by a pack of shrieking harpies.

To cut to the chase,

Metafilter: A pack of shrieking harpies
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 8:33 AM on June 1, 2014 [18 favorites]


Deoridhe - I would like a way to respond to a post that linked to the post ... I'd imagine it something like someone's name turning into a link to their comment in some manner.

If you're happy to use the Greasemonkey extension in Firefox, or if you're a chrome user, you can use the Mefiquote script. It's a while since I've had it installed, and I can't check on this computer, but IIRC it adds a "quote" link beneath every comment that does exactly this.
posted by metaBugs at 8:36 AM on June 1, 2014


There are huge swaths of the world where constructive criticism is a thing and people are able push their little baby ideas out into the world secure in the knowledge that while the idea may be gently rebuffed, it will not immediately be torn to shreds by a pack of shrieking harpies.

Whatevs, there is maybe a single comment in this entire thread that is not 100% reasonable for casual conversation.
posted by elizardbits at 8:38 AM on June 1, 2014 [13 favorites]


I'd imagine it something like someone's name turning into a link to their comment in some manner

As someone who reads a lot on a smart phone, I absolutely loathe links that go back to some previous comment in a thread. When I click on a link to some other page, it just opens in a new tab, no problem. But when I click on a link to a previous comment, it moves me back up to that comment and I lose my place in the thread. If it's a long thread, it can be a serious pain finding my spot again. I avoid such links when I can, but sometimes they're sneaky and presented like links to external pages.

So... linking to previous comments: something that really annoys at least one person, namely me.
posted by meese at 8:40 AM on June 1, 2014 [2 favorites]


Well said, Tell Me No Lies.
posted by SLC Mom at 8:46 AM on June 1, 2014


Sorry , Meese.
posted by SLC Mom at 8:46 AM on June 1, 2014 [2 favorites]


I actually have to agree with you. I would like to have ALL links open in a new window.
posted by SLC Mom at 8:49 AM on June 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


Oh come on, of course Degoao is going to take it personally when people shit all over their idea as we've been largely doing in this thread and the argument that says basically, "no it's not you that's fucking stupid it's just your idea that's fucking stupid" would hardly make them feel better.

Like, sure, being rude to people in MeTa isn't delete-worthy, but, come on, just call it what it is. Degoao, people were being dicks to you not because they think you're a bad person, but because they think you had a stupid idea, and it's, like, totally fine or something to be a dick to someone when you think that, apparently.
posted by MoonOrb at 8:49 AM on June 1, 2014 [7 favorites]


literally the only outright nastiness in this thread are the people labeling the dissenters as harpies and dicks and threadshitters though

irony is a harsh mistress
posted by elizardbits at 8:56 AM on June 1, 2014 [9 favorites]


The first comment in this asks for more details. The second just says ugh no. The third points out that we can already do this. Are those comments really harpy-ish?

This thread is not that long, can we really have already forgotten the first few comments?
posted by rtha at 9:07 AM on June 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


Ugh, no.

(What next? Hashtags?)

@degoao #lolnope

Oh that 'it!' It does 'it' every time!

No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, No, and Hell NO!


I'm not labeling anyone, and I know that people are trying to be funny, but I would also be offended if people responded to me in this way. I appreciate snark and quips but there is a huge difference between a thoughtful, constructive criticism of an idea and just tearing it apart.

Thankfully there is more of the former here.
posted by SLC Mom at 9:36 AM on June 1, 2014 [9 favorites]


This thread is not that long, can we really have already forgotten the first few comments?

Yes.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:38 AM on June 1, 2014


I think we're following a fairly standard pattern of more or less performative disagreement, hurt feelings, condemnation of the tone of the performative disagreement, condemnation of the tone of the condemnations of the tone of the performative disagreement and so on.

Whether this is MetaTalk working as intended is, I think, an interesting question - most of the time it's all good fun and nobody gets hurt. Where there are escalations to a point where it becomes a headache for the mods, from memory, it's when the initial suggestion is framed in a way that moves the emotional temperature up several notches to begin with, like the recent MeTa about the use of language to describe the mentally il, or really a callout of an individual with a light frosting of policy suggestion over the top...

So, that comes back to the discussion about every MetaTalk thread having a non-zero chance of blowing up into something that consumes time and mod resources, and the new limits on mod resource, that we were talking about in the MeTa queue thread.

Huh.

I think, though, that if you're a light user, you might assume that MetaTalk is where serious questions are discussed seriously, as a kind of Palladian ideal. Whereas while it is that, it's also a place where people, many of whom have been hanging out in MetaTalk for a long time, engage in social behaviors. It's more like a Congress than a Senate, if you like - there's a lot of more or less good-natured joshing, baracking, in-jokes (vote #1 quidnunc kid!) and so on, which can act as both a lubricant for and a distraction from discussing the issues.

Not suggesting that's a bad thing, or anything that needs to change - I just think that might be why a relatively new user might be put a little on the back foot, and why that doesn't necessarily make them a bad, or an oversensitive, person - just someone who has an opportunity to recalibrate.
posted by running order squabble fest at 9:44 AM on June 1, 2014 [3 favorites]


Degoao, the responses are to the idea, not attacks on you personally.

The fact that there was any doubt in your mind about that is exactly why so many people here, myself included, regard Twitteresque personality-cult promotion mechanisms with such instant visceral loathing.

This is not "your idea is bad and you should feel bad". It's not all about you. In fact it's not about you at all. That's the whole point. We are not our ideas, and should all feel secure enough about that not to need to cling to bad ones.
posted by flabdablet at 9:46 AM on June 1, 2014 [6 favorites]


An even bigger pony request (full-sized horse maybe) would be that users would get notifications (perhaps in memail) if they were tagged and then be provided a link back to the comments / posts. Any thoughts on this?

I'm on Quora, where you can ask another member to answer specific questions, be it one you asked or just one you think the other person would be interested in or has knowledge of. Since I've answered a lot of questions about manned spaceflight, I get a fair of amount of requests to answer questions.

Not all of requests are about about manned spaceflight. or even space related. Today, it was "If you were a form of information, what would it look like?" Previously it was "Why are democracies still designed around party politics? Would it not be better to split governance into sectors and vote for the policies you want for each sector?" Before that it was ""Speech is power: speech is to persuade, to convert, to compel.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson And you? How do you feel about public speaking?"

Of course you don't have answer these questions. There's 'Decline' button, which you can click and the option to add a reason why you're declining. So you can just decline and not answer, knowing somewhere in the world there's a person who thought you were intelligent and wise and sought your opinion on a subject that was important to them, which pulls at the guilt strings that your dad carefully built into you. Or you could try to explain for the nth time that it's not a subject you're comfortable answering, do to your lack of knowledge in that area.

Or you could just get snarky. Probably best to randomize your answers, keeps things interesting.

Tagging people on MeFi would end up similar to the above.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:46 AM on June 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


I read "Ugh, no" as meaning "This idea so obviously sucks that I don't need to explain further." Am I wrong?
posted by in278s at 9:46 AM on June 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


I read it as expressing absolute rejection of a proposal so loathsome that the question of who proposed it doesn't even register.
posted by flabdablet at 9:50 AM on June 1, 2014 [3 favorites]


SLC Mom: "I actually have to agree with you. I would like to have ALL links open in a new window."

I hate when sites do that. I know how to right-click, how to control-click/command-click, and (on mobile) how to touch-and-hold. If I want to open a link in a new window, there are ways to do so. I really don't want a site "helpfully" deciding that it knows where the links I'm clicking should open up, especially since that's usually more of a hassle to work around.
posted by Lexica at 9:57 AM on June 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


So the poster's question was answered many, many comments ago and yet this post still remains open. Hmm.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:58 AM on June 1, 2014


One of the reasons I don't hang out on twitter anymore is that it really began to feel like work to me - having to pay attention to the various @s directed at me, or that included me in something, and having to pay attention to the various conversations happening more or less simultaneously so that if I got @'ed I would sort of have a context, and it was just exhausting. I can see how it really works for some people, and they make it work for them, but I am not among them.

So in the first comment in this thread, painquale asked how the OP envisions this working exactly, and how it would be different from the way things work now (aside from the current system not being automated). I still don't know, since the OP has fecked off, but my visceral NO reaction is because I feel fine about how notifications work here - it's the right level for me. People can memail me if they want a specific answer or think I haven't seen the latest bird or kitten fpp. If the idea was just to have someone's profile autolinked when they're mentioned in a thread, then I don't see the point; if it was for some way to actually notify the autolinked person, then again, I don't really see why this is different from the manual system we already have.
posted by rtha at 9:58 AM on June 1, 2014


So the poster's question was answered many, many comments ago and yet this post still remains open. Hmm.

Jesus Christ, man, it's Sunday morning on the west coast. Maybe the mods just haven't gotten around to closing it yet?
posted by asterix at 10:12 AM on June 1, 2014


Jesus Christ, man, it's Sunday morning on the west coast. Maybe the mods just haven't gotten around to closing it yet?

Maybe they're just having their pancakes.

Please, let it be time for pancakes.
posted by kinetic at 10:17 AM on June 1, 2014


Blazecock Pileon: "So the poster's question was answered many, many comments ago and yet this post still remains open. Hmm."

It seems like there are a couple of different kinds of Metatalk posts. One is the "I can't find this old comment - does anyone remember where it was?" type; those are easily answered and closed. But this is a feature request. What's more, mathowie's response above is not quite as absolute as some responses here; he says it's an interesting idea, although he's not sure it'd work culturally.

I think the idea is to leave threads like this open at least a bit so we can discuss the proposition more and maybe toss out some ideas and see how we feel about it. Even negative reactions help with that, although it'd be good to avoid insults, and slightly more comprehensive responses than "ugh, no" would probably be more helpful.
posted by koeselitz at 10:18 AM on June 1, 2014 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I left it open hoping more people could chime in with ways they could or couldn't see it working mainly, but if the consensus is closing it, I can do that. I've only seen two mentions of it though, and the thread is still less than 6hrs old, maybe more people would want to see it and/or comment on it?
posted by mathowie (staff) at 10:28 AM on June 1, 2014


Jesus Christ, man, it's Sunday morning on the west coast...

You might want to scan the first comments in the thread.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:30 AM on June 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


Why should it be closed?
posted by lalex at 10:32 AM on June 1, 2014 [5 favorites]


Cool. Bad idea. Got it. I'll be sure to raise my opinion again in the future and not at all feel attacked by assholes with snarky remarks.

Don't take it personally, the @ thing is just a shibboleth here. It probably doesn't help that 90% of the time that people do @ usernames on MetaFilter now, it's used by somebody who thinks they need to offer a detailed rebuttal to every single response to their horrible human relations question or eccentric political hobbyhorse.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 10:35 AM on June 1, 2014 [3 favorites]


I would just like to viciously attack the @ sign itself. It's a horror show - overly busy, completely distracting, and just a blight on decent written conversation. Its usage should be minimized or eliminated as much as humanly possible.

That is all.
posted by mediareport at 10:35 AM on June 1, 2014 [8 favorites]


lalex: Why should it be closed?

Because the OP asked for it to be closed so they don't have to hear another fifty people say it's a bad idea, when a consensus has already been reached on the original idea. I don't think that's without precedent.
posted by gman at 10:41 AM on June 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


Maybe it would work with an alternate to @. I propose 🍲 as a stand-in for a plate of beans.
posted by michaelh at 10:44 AM on June 1, 2014 [3 favorites]


You might want to scan the first comments in the thread.

I'm perfectly well aware that both cortex and mathowie weighed in. It doesn't strike you as possible that they did so and then went off to do other things on a Sunday morning?
posted by asterix at 10:46 AM on June 1, 2014


Because the OP asked for it to be closed so they don't have to hear another fifty people say it's a bad idea, when a consensus has already been reached on the original idea. I don't think that's without precedent.

Not too far above your comment Matt is saying maybe there hasn't been consensus yet. It is Sunday nearly everywhere, maybe other people are lazing around and haven't gotten to the part of the day where they check meTa, I don't know.
posted by rtha at 10:50 AM on June 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


rtha: Not too far above your comment Matt is saying maybe there hasn't been consensus yet.

Whether you or Matt choose to believe there's a consensus, reading all the comments over the past six and a half hours, there definitely is one, with a couple "maybe this would work instead" comments. He even goes so far as to say that culturally this is probably not a good fit. I suppose leaving this open for a month might also supply us with more outliers.
posted by gman at 11:01 AM on June 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


Please, let it be time for pancakes.

Who here likes pancakes? I love pancakes.
posted by homunculus at 11:01 AM on June 1, 2014 [2 favorites]


To comment on the original idea, I'll point out a (not yet mentioned) reason why it wouldn't work for me. When I quote a previous comment, I usually specifically do not include the name of the original commenter.

I probably started doing it out of laziness, but I've decided I like it, because it re-inforces the idea that I am responding to the ideas stated, not to the person. People here can get in to snarky back-and-forths (cf. this very fucking thread), so anything that discourages it is good.

degoao, thanks for making the suggestion, and sorry the response struck you as abrasive.
posted by benito.strauss at 11:07 AM on June 1, 2014 [21 favorites]


I suppose leaving this open for a month might also supply us with more outliers.

Never underestimate statistics!
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:24 AM on June 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


To comment on the original idea, I'll point out a (not yet mentioned) reason why it wouldn't work for me. When I quote a previous comment, I usually specifically do not include the name of the original commenter.

That's an interesting point, and I think is something I've adopted without really noticing, having started out using @name and being encouraged to unlearn it.
posted by running order squabble fest at 11:37 AM on June 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


degoao, thanks for making the suggestion, and sorry the response struck you as abrasive.

To be fair, "@degoao #lolnope" deserves "sorry you got some shitty comments" and not so much "sorry you took the comments badly." Does a comment that calls you out by name to offer a dismissive laugh strike you as somehow not abrasive?
posted by in278s at 11:44 AM on June 1, 2014 [11 favorites]


Just going to chime in here to reinforce what cortex said. I think a focus on public individual-user-centric stuff would tend - unintentionally - to encourage an unhealthy conversational dynamic.

I might not have noticed this before being a mod and therefore spending extra time with the fightiest threads... but the fightiest threads almost always involve an intense focus on interpersonal stuff. It's "how can YOU think that" and needing to express how bad User X's personal morals are, or User X responding to defend their personal morals from direct callout etc. It makes discussions suck. Discussions go a lot better if it sticks to "here's an idea, let's all talk about it" rather than "here's User X, let's talk about his or her character/opinions."

Just to pursue this a bit -- conversation works differently in different platforms, so @tagging has a different utility.

On Twitter, there are so many conversational strands going on all over the place, you might not even realize you've been mentioned unless tagged. And all those pieces of the conversation have different audiences (audiences=the followers of each person who's tweeting about you). Also being mentioned usually doesn't require a lengthy response but rather a quick acknowledgment. It's also impossible for an exchange about one person's views to "take over" a discussion, since the discussion is kind of all over the place.

On Tumblr, I get the sense it's more common to highlight for your followers a comment User X made, and maybe make some critical remark/joke about it -- again, all mainly for the audience of your followers, not mainly in order to engage in conversation with User X. So, lots of branching conversations (on different tumblrs, each with its own audience and focus, who mention User X), name-tagging is useful for being able to follow them all, and if some of the conversations get into an intense focus on User X, it doesn't prevent other conversations from taking place.

Whereas here, each thread is one conversation. You're usually already in the thread if you're being mentioned by name, and the expectation is you'll be able to read all the comments in that thread sequentially as it goes (or just ctrl-f for your name if you just need to skim for mentions). There's one audience - or rather one group of equal conversational participants, since MeFi threads aren't a broadcast-to-an-audience, subscribe-to-individual-person's-feed, type of platform.

In MeFi threads we're all in the same conversation, and the purpose (IMO) is to have a good discussion -- not to put on the best show for your own followers, or to really pin down what any one person thinks, or what we should think of them for their opinions. Those things can take over a conversation here and suck all the air out of the room, in a way that doesn't happen on the more branched-conversation platforms.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 11:57 AM on June 1, 2014 [16 favorites]


I really don't think the comments were that shitty, some are jokey, others of the "no, do not want variety", none were of the attack on the person variety that several users seem to have read.

Use of the @ is just not a good convention when there are already existing mechanisms including Ctrl+F, RSS, MeMail and MeFi quote that are all mentioned in earlier comments, however jokey they were written.
posted by arcticseal at 11:58 AM on June 1, 2014


Oh hey, staff tag. Maybe that should be "schmaff" now.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 12:15 PM on June 1, 2014 [17 favorites]


Looking at it just now on a small screen, I honestly thought it said "stuff" which I found amusing...like "hey everyone, LobsterMitten is saying stuff, pay attention!"

Which I approved of actually but would probably be a little much.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:00 PM on June 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


I just figured the tag is still there to let everyone know that you now carry around a wizard staff.
posted by pwally at 1:02 PM on June 1, 2014 [4 favorites]


I have an anecdotal suggestion for posting ideas to forums (or elsewhere, for that matter): once you share an idea, it is no longer your idea, so treat all comments as criticism of the idea and not about you.

This came from a first year landscape architecture class, where all the students were fresh out of high school. We were posting our basic projects on the wall, and the professor would tear them apart, but he told us that once we put something on the wall, it was no longer ours, but something to be viewed as an example to improve upon.

Few here were calling out the OP specifically, and the vocal majority were responding (strongly) to the idea.

[And if it wasn't clear enough in other comments, the gist of the site-specific stance is that MetaFilter is about discussions with the crowd, not personal conversations, which can be held via MeMail. Threads shouldn't become an exclusive discussion between a few people, but rather an inclusive thread for any and all to join.]
posted by filthy light thief at 1:04 PM on June 1, 2014 [5 favorites]


But if you'd like to have the ability to track discussions and responses within a thread, yourcelf's GraphFi bookmarklet is awesome (direct link). It ties the back-linked references to prior user comments in a thread and makes a little webby graphic, plus it makes a bar graph of the favorites throughout the thread. I just added it to my current browser, and I'm happy about it all over again.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:09 PM on June 1, 2014 [4 favorites]


And somehow this thread is still open. Thanks for everyone's input!
posted by degoao at 1:13 PM on June 1, 2014 [3 favorites]


Hooray, GraphFi back! (It had stopped working for me for 3-5 days there. Thanks again, yourcelf.)
posted by benito.strauss at 1:16 PM on June 1, 2014


Yeah I can't say enough good things about GraphFi, it makes long threads SO much better.
posted by pwally at 1:17 PM on June 1, 2014


degoao: And somehow this thread is still open.

It's in the queue to be closed.
posted by gman at 1:20 PM on June 1, 2014 [3 favorites]


Oh hey, staff tag.

Security to MeTa, we have a stowaway!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:22 PM on June 1, 2014 [2 favorites]


GraphFi is fantastic, I love it so much.
posted by arcticseal at 2:10 PM on June 1, 2014


meese, regarding the behavior of linking to previous comments & smart-phones, what I do is first click the timestamp of the comment I'm currently looking at (to set the url to where I am in the thread), then click the link I want to follow. That way, I can just use the back button to pop back to where I was reading previously.

Actually, I use the click-on-the-current-comment's-timestamp trick to keep track of where I am generally, since my phone sometimes freaks out when I scroll or switch apps. Reload the page, and I'm back at the spot I last marked.

[for reference of those who want it: meese's comment]
posted by Westringia F. at 3:10 PM on June 1, 2014 [3 favorites]


And somehow this thread is still open. Thanks for everyone's input!

To be fair, mate, you're not a mod, and you don't get to decide to close threads - even when you started them. This is a pretty standard thing on the site and has been for a really long time, so I'm surprised that you're surprised.

I agree that MeTa is significantly more... rowdy than anywhere else on the site, but by the same token, fighting sarcasm with sarcasm is probably going to be an unprofitable endeavour, here.
posted by smoke at 3:55 PM on June 1, 2014 [7 favorites]


One of the reasons I don't hang out on twitter anymore is that it really began to feel like work to me - having to pay attention to the various @s directed at me, or that included me in something, and having to pay attention to the various conversations...so that if I got @'ed I would sort of have a context

whereas one of the reason I don't hang out on twitter anymore is that none of these things ever happened to me
posted by billiebee at 4:04 PM on June 1, 2014 [3 favorites]


degoao: "And somehow this thread is still open. Thanks for everyone's input!"

I don't know if you're being sarcastic here - I guess so, since you'd asked earlier for the thread to be closed.

In any case: as I said above, there are reasons to keep threads like this open. I think it's an interesting proposition that's worth discussing. I don't seem to be the only one. You might notice that the founder and owner of the site has commented saying he had actually thought this might be a good idea himself sometimes, although he had some reservations too. Regardless of how some other people here have felt, I think you should take that as a sign that all of Metafilter isn't against you on this idea. And I have to say that, while I know we've discussed this kind of thing before, I have learned things from the insightful comments of others here in this thread. I think it's been productive.

Metatalk is sometimes kind of like this; sorry, I know it can be awful. Once you look past the negative stuff, though, you'll notice that a lot of people are offering constructive criticism - sometimes even the ones who seem at first glance to be just straight-up downers.
posted by koeselitz at 4:53 PM on June 1, 2014


benito.strauss: "To comment on the original idea, I'll point out a (not yet mentioned) reason why it wouldn't work for me. When I quote a previous comment, I usually specifically do not include the name of the original commenter. ¶ I probably started doing it out of laziness, but I've decided I like it, because it re-inforces the idea that I am responding to the ideas stated, not to the person. People here can get in to snarky back-and-forths (cf. this very fucking thread), so anything that discourages it is good."

I don't actually think it works that way, honestly. Conversations are not between ideas; they're between humans. They're about ideas, yes, but you can't really have them without human beings either, and ignoring the fact that they're between human beings doesn't make them any more civil. This would be sort of like trying to defuse a tense real-life conversation by looking away from the person you're talking to and instead maybe looking at the wall or the ceiling; at best, it's just confusing.

And if you're loudly dismissive of the ideas, people are going to take offense no matter what - even if you don't list their name when you quote them. You're just making it a somewhat more private slight, since only the person who wrote the comment is likely to recognize the quote as their own words. So my experience is that this kind of obfuscation doesn't really work very well.

In fact, I've found that a well-worded disagreement that resonates with respect even as it contradicts the ideas is more effective when you actually name the person you're responding to.
posted by koeselitz at 5:03 PM on June 1, 2014 [4 favorites]


degoao: "And somehow this thread is still open. Thanks for everyone's input!"

I didn't read it as sarcastic. I thought maybe degoao was saying they were pleasantly surprised that people had bothered to keep the conversation going, and was genuinely thanking people for their opinions.
posted by billiebee at 5:03 PM on June 1, 2014


Ah, maybe so. Sorry if I misread that, degoao.
posted by koeselitz at 5:06 PM on June 1, 2014


My take was the same as Billiebee's.
posted by arcticseal at 5:21 PM on June 1, 2014


I think I suggested this too, a while back. I still think it's a good and useful tool in general -- and I loathe and fear and just generally do not understand Twitter or Facebook.

The vigor with which MeFites in general seem opposed to functional @mentions surprises me every time it comes up, but I think I've come around to the idea that Metafilter culture would too often lead to it being used in annoying and disruptive ways, so the benefit would probably be outweighed by the downsides.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:22 PM on June 1, 2014


the functionality I had recall that I had in mind was notifications, not auto profile links, but
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:32 PM on June 1, 2014


this is a horrible idea. my thoughts on this "tag other users easily" is that you will have to catch up to me to do this, and even at 59 (today!) i can still move fast enough to avoid this.
posted by bruce at 5:54 PM on June 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'd love a way to ping a user, so that linking their name sent them some kind of mefi mail notification, like "Hey there! User sweetkid thought you'd want to know about the following post: ... "

But otherwise, if it's just a quickie shorthand to link to someone's profile? Why bother? I can find anyone's profile I'm interested in by searching for their username. And I don't see the point of autocompleting usernames, since the userbase here is huge (I only have about 700 facebook friends and find it kind of annoying there), and typing out usernames is not really that big of a thing. Sometimes I have to check spelling/capitalization, but otherwise who cares? This is not a particularly onerous task.
posted by Sara C. at 6:01 PM on June 1, 2014


I think the original idea is well-intentioned, but a poor fit with the site's culture.

Separately, I think calls for MeTa threads to be closed up are generally misguided.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:15 PM on June 1, 2014 [2 favorites]


On a side note, I have a pony request I'd be interested in if it's actually a pony and not some sort of load-bearing mule serverside:

If it's looking them up and finding the proper link/user ID, then you might want to know that you can link to user pages with usernames too. So instead of http://www.metafilter.com/user/60913 you can write http://www.metafilter.com/username/degoao and it will automatically redirect people.

Can we change "username" to "user" in the latter case? It's not obvious that you have to do that; I didn't know this, and while searching for somebody's name worked fine in aggregate it would've saved noticeable time just to go through the URL.
posted by solarion at 8:30 PM on June 1, 2014


Can we change "username" to "user" in the latter case?

If you mean changing the URL, that's not possible. The /user/ one is expecting a user_ID numerical value, while the /username/ one is specifically looking for a username text.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 9:07 PM on June 1, 2014


I'd love a way to ping a user, so that linking their name sent them some kind of mefi mail notification

I don't really want a profile option for turning off mefi mail spam.

If whoever thinks I might be interested in having my attention drawn to something cares so little about that fact that they can't be arsed copying a link and pasting it into an ordinary memail, I can't see why I'd attach any weight to their attempts to curate MeFi for me.

MeFi has little bars raised all over the place to make doing potentially irritating things slightly inconvenient, and to my way of thinking that's exactly as it should be.
posted by flabdablet at 9:49 PM on June 1, 2014 [6 favorites]


I don't have very strong feelings about the main request, except that I don't like the use of the @username format. I don't use twitter, and see it as visual noise - not to mention the perl horror flashbacks.

Other than that, what would easier linking to somebody's profile accomplish? If they are in the thread, there's plenty of links already under their comments. If they are not, why bring them up? Like others have said, it draws attention to the user in a way that I think does not really fit with the site culture.
posted by Dr Dracator at 11:28 PM on June 1, 2014 [1 favorite]


Look I just hate it when I miss out on a Star Trek FPP, OK
posted by Sara C. at 12:01 AM on June 2, 2014


If you mean changing the URL, that's not possible. The /user/ one is expecting a user_ID numerical value, while the /username/ one is specifically looking for a username text.

Alright. Is this listed in an FAQ that I've overlooked somewhere?
posted by solarion at 12:05 AM on June 2, 2014


Huh, that's newish. It used to be /username.mefi/xxxx for the longest time.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:34 AM on June 2, 2014


Few here were calling out the OP specifically,

No one here was calling out the OP specifically. One person tagged him, because the idea was about tagging people.
posted by John Cohen at 3:43 AM on June 2, 2014


So the poster's question was answered many, many comments ago and yet this post still remains open.

It was "answered" in that some people gave their opinions of the proposal. But other people who haven't commented yet might have different opinions.
posted by John Cohen at 3:45 AM on June 2, 2014 [1 favorite]


degoao can you explain how you think being able to more easily link to a user's profile would benefit the site? How would being able to get automatic notifications about being mentioned help the site? I am not sure what you are envisioning exactly. I have found the site admins to be very open to any suggestion that helps make the site better, and many have been implemented over the years. Can you explain what you like about the features you are proposing as they are used on FB and Twitter.

First of all I am having problems imagining a system that wouldn't visually screw up the flow of threads, so IMHO @ signs are out of the question. Let's say there is some way for me to more easily alert a user to a thread or somehow point them at a particular comment, how does that help?

Assume I am on the receiving end of one of these batsignals, I look at the thread and see it is going well and any point I might have had to make has already been covered. Will I offend the person who summoned me by not commenting? Will I contact them and say thanks, but no thanks? Will I leave a comment saying, I was summoned to this thread but I don't have anything to add? To me that is noise not signal.

The whole 'calling username to the courtesy phone' thing grates with me anyway. If you think someone would be interested in commenting in a thread then Memail them.

I have to agree with flabdablet: MeFi has little bars raised all over the place to make doing potentially irritating things slightly inconvenient, and to my way of thinking that's exactly as it should be.
posted by asok at 4:20 AM on June 2, 2014


Let's say there is some way for me to more easily alert a user to a thread or somehow point them at a particular comment, how does that help?

Bearing in mind I am asking them to read a linked article (or more), an entire thread and any links that I think are relevant and digest all of that. In short I am asking them to participate. I really wouldn't want to encourage drive by snarking or other noise. This only seems to work for the superficial SLYT, listicle or similar.
posted by asok at 4:26 AM on June 2, 2014


You have to understand that for many of us mefi is the anti-f@cebook and the un-twitt€r. We are here hiding from those people.

Not all of us, but many of us. Even the mention of twitter gives me a sad. It's the nadir of literature, compared to which Archie comics might as well be Finnegan's Wake.

Friends don't let friends tweet.
posted by spitbull at 4:44 AM on June 2, 2014 [2 favorites]


Please no.
posted by pointystick at 4:51 AM on June 2, 2014


Joining in the "no no no" chorus here. I cringe every time I see an "@user" in a comment in Metafilter; seeing a whole post full of them would be more than I could handle.
posted by octothorpe at 4:56 AM on June 2, 2014 [1 favorite]


All I know is that I never saw my old username tagged in this thread until much, much later. Never got my free book. :)
posted by charred husk at 5:51 AM on June 2, 2014


So do the Mefi sign-up rules allow usernames that start with an @ symbol? So I could make another account named @octothorpe and then if people wanted to reference me they'd have to type @@octothorpe.
posted by octothorpe at 6:27 AM on June 2, 2014


> I cringe every time I see an "@user" in a comment in Metafilter

How so? I'm genuinely having a hard time understanding your response.
posted by Too-Ticky at 6:35 AM on June 2, 2014


It's not the worst idea in the world, despite the absurdly hyperbolic reactions to it up top.

degoao: You had the bad luck to invoke the @name convention, though, which has become popular elsewhere as a way of signaling a username reference, but to which there is a strong aversion on Metafilter specifically.

There's no reason that you would know this, but: Occasionally a Metafilter-noob whose comment-replying style is informed by twitter or any other site that uses @-notation will come to Metafilter and assume that given the lack of threading or other formalized reply structure, @-notation is at least an option.

What they don't realize is there's a large minority of users who will raise a great hue and cry, shrieking in hyperbolic shock WE DON'T DO THAT HERE and I COME HERE TO GET AWAY FROM "TWITTOR," with all the cane-shaking and lawn-preservation rhetoric you might expect.

(The sweeping pronouncements of how AWFUL TWITTER IS and furthermore METAFILTER HATES TWITTER (NO TRUE MEFITE) are a little strange, though, on a site with so many enthusiastic Twitter users, including many of the mods and the site owner himself.)

So the basic idea is at least interesting to think about, but you had the bad luck to suggest a version of it practically guaranteed to get the reaction you got, which I agree was shitty, and I would feel stung too.

All that said, I tend to be wary of anything that makes it easier for Big Metafilter Personalities to bubble to the top. The cabal is already my least favorite part of site interaction. This would make Metafilter more big personality-centric, not less.
posted by Sokka shot first at 6:42 AM on June 2, 2014 [10 favorites]


How so? I'm genuinely having a hard time understanding your response.

Too-Ticky, one factor is, as Matt has pointed out here in the past, we don't talk "at" people here; we talk *with* people here.

@Too-Ticky, one factor is, as Matt has pointed out here in the past, we don't talk "at" people here; we talk *with* people here.

Now, what exactly does the @ sign add to the 2nd sentence that is not already present in the first, aside from an ugly, overly large and distracting symbol that conveys no meaning?
posted by mediareport at 6:58 AM on June 2, 2014 [2 favorites]


octothorpe: I cringe every time I see an "@user" in a comment in Metafilter

Too-Ticky: How so? I'm genuinely having a hard time understanding your response.

I've read that some people see that you're talking "at" someone, instead of to them, as mediareport mentioned; also, it can be perceived of the bleed-over of the Twitterverse into MetaFilter, which as others have stated, is something they dread as they are adverse to Twitter for one reason or another (dozen).
posted by filthy light thief at 7:00 AM on June 2, 2014


benito.strauss: " I probably started doing it out of laziness, but I've decided I like it, because it re-inforces the idea that I am responding to the ideas stated, not to the person. People here can get in to snarky back-and-forths (cf. this very fucking thread), so anything that discourages it is good."

A scenario:

User X says something against the collective MeFi grain.
10 people respond forcefully. Never referring to User X by name.
User X says, "Huh. That never occurred to me. Thanks for changing my mind, MeFi!"
30 more people respond to User X's original comment, because they don't realize the User X who has changed their mind is in fact the person who made the original statement.

So... it can go either way.
posted by zarq at 7:01 AM on June 2, 2014


Too-Ticky: "> I cringe every time I see an "@user" in a comment in Metafilter

How so? I'm genuinely having a hard time understanding your response.
"

Other people have explained some of the reasons but for me it's mostly an aesthetic reaction. A whole page of @ symbols would just be ugly and distracting.
posted by octothorpe at 7:03 AM on June 2, 2014 [1 favorite]


Also, on Facebook if you type @Michael Jackson and then select a user to link to, the final link shows up as the person's name in bold text without the '@' sign.

You type:

@Michael Jackson

and it appears

Michael Jackson
posted by zarq at 7:04 AM on June 2, 2014 [2 favorites]


Late, but I'd like to second running order squabble fest's statement that users of different experience levels have different expectations about MetaTalk. I don't think there would be a problem with rowdy responses to someone who has been around for a while, but for MetaTalk newcomers I think that it would be appropriate to respond with politeness.
posted by Jpfed at 7:36 AM on June 2, 2014


I would just like to viciously attack the @ sign itself. It's a horror show - overly busy, completely distracting, and just a blight on decent written conversation. Its usage should be minimized or eliminated as much as humanly possible.

Someone has written a provocative video game that forces you to act out the role of the @ sign.
posted by Jpfed at 7:40 AM on June 2, 2014 [5 favorites]


> what exactly does the @ sign add to the 2nd sentence that is not already present in the first, aside from an ugly, overly large and distracting symbol that conveys no meaning?

None. That cute, small and pretty symbol is reduntant here. It doesn't distract me though. I guess I don't mind redundancy as much as some of us do.

If we would only post things that add something and convey meaning, a lot of things that currently get posted wouldn't get posted.

I'll just file this in the 'site culture' folder then.
posted by Too-Ticky at 7:51 AM on June 2, 2014


Occasionally a Metafilter-noob whose comment-replying style is informed by twitter or any other site that uses @-notation will come to Metafilter and assume that given the lack of threading or other formalized reply structure, @-notation is at least an option

Wailing and gnashing of teeth aside, this is actually a valid reason to dislike @-notation. For many people, myself included, the lack of threading is a feature, not a bug. It is assumed that everybody read most of the comments, and is expected to keep track of what everybody is saying. An automated way to make an end-run around this, helping users split off into their own virtual thread would erode that assumption.

Also, on Facebook if you type @Michael Jackson and then select a user to link to, the final link shows up as the person's name in bold text without the '@' sign.

For me this would be a good way to implement this feature, relegating it to the level of syntactic sugar without explicit semantics. Get rid of the duckie and use some other syntax (let's be sensible here and make it balanced, e.g. {{Michael Jackson}}) and not many people would object.
posted by Dr Dracator at 7:56 AM on June 2, 2014 [1 favorite]


Oh and then you would also need a way to escape that syntax, for when you actually want to type {{Michael Jackson}} in your comment, and about 500% more code to handle the weird cases and user errors and whatever, and it's going to choke five years from now on a stunt username and require fixing, and this is why programmers hate users who ask for one small, simple back-of-a-napkin feature.
posted by Dr Dracator at 8:00 AM on June 2, 2014


For many people, myself included, the lack of threading is a feature, not a bug.

Well, yes, which is part of the reason why formalizing a reply convention of any kind would be subtly unmetafilterlike, as I said.

But the point I was making is that @-notation is regarded with a particular and (in my view) unreasonable vehemence here, and degoao had the bad luck to invoke it, thereby dooming his suggestion to lazy, snarky replies from the first.
posted by Sokka shot first at 8:07 AM on June 2, 2014


lazy, snarky replies from the first.

Of the first ten comments, *maybe* two can be characterized as either lazy or snarky.
posted by rtha at 9:18 AM on June 2, 2014


Really, I think the issue tends to be less lazy/snarky comments and more that *everybody* wants to give their two cents. Which makes it seem like a pile on, even if that is not the intent.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:31 AM on June 2, 2014 [2 favorites]


¢Chrysotom¢ has it
posted by flabdablet at 10:12 AM on June 2, 2014


Perhaps it is the hinted assumption of bad faith on the part of the poster that is rankling. I know if I was treated that way, I wouldn't like it either.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:16 AM on June 2, 2014 [1 favorite]


I think there's a tension between not wanting to be part of a pile-on, on one hand, and wanting to be sure that one's opinion has been registered as part of the userbase gestalt. For example, the term "USian". On the (mercifully infrequent) occasions it comes up, I try to stay out of the discussion; I've already expressed my opinion. But then somebody will say something like "well, you don't hear people complaining about that anymore — I guess they got over it" and I feel obliged to say "No, actually, still have a problem with it for all of the previously discussed reasons, just trying not to be Johnny One-Note about it."

"Likes" and upvoting are, it seems generally agreed, antithetical to MeFi culture. We're encouraged to engage in discussion and express our ideas and opinions verbally. The upshot is that sometimes an opinion will get expressed multiple times by multiple users. That doesn't necessarily mean those users are trying to dogpile the people who disagree, it might just mean that they don't want their silence to seem like agreement.
posted by Lexica at 10:23 AM on June 2, 2014 [3 favorites]


Perhaps it is the hinted assumption of bad faith on the part of the poster that is rankling.

Where is this hinted assumption? I saw one comment saying "are you trying to make this site into Facebook/Twitter/etc? hell naw" and the rest (including several from mods) saying "this doesn't fit into the site culture, sorry."
posted by zombieflanders at 10:55 AM on June 2, 2014


> Huh, that's newish. It used to be /username.mefi/xxxx for the longest time.

I think the "new" /username/xxxx has been around for a number of years by now (the old way continues to work though).



> Get rid of the duckie and use some other syntax (let's be sensible here and make it balanced, e.g. {{Michael Jackson}}) and not many people would object.

I don't know about that. I (and some other people in this thread have mentioned this too) think it would detract from the (mostly) topic-centric nature of MeFi threads to start adding in pings to users. If there's a post about sharks and you want that guy who knows about sharks to check it out, does it really need to be a permanent part of the thread that you want that guy who knows about sharks to come and check it out (not any specific "you", could be anyone)? That seems very much something between you and shark guy, and that it something that memail seems much better suited for.
posted by bjrn at 11:03 AM on June 2, 2014 [2 favorites]


Not talking about pings, just plain html links to users.
posted by Dr Dracator at 11:05 AM on June 2, 2014


"Likes" and upvoting are, it seems generally agreed, antithetical to MeFi culture.

[1 favorite -]
posted by Jpfed at 11:14 AM on June 2, 2014 [3 favorites]


So do the Mefi sign-up rules allow usernames that start with an @ symbol? So I could make another account named @octothorpe and then if people wanted to reference me they'd have to type @@octothorpe.
Or just make the username "@".

This isn't the first time someone has made a similar request to make MeFi more like TweetBook and it's not surprising that those who aren't MeTa regulars wouldn't be aware of the vehement opposition to that. Maybe it would help if there was something in the FAQ about this? Because, as we know, everyone reads the FAQ before posting here ...
maybe there is. I didn't read it :-(
posted by dg at 2:11 PM on June 2, 2014


We could start one on the wiki and call it "A Million Ways to Get Snarked at in MetaTalk"
posted by zarq at 2:31 PM on June 2, 2014


There's some lazy shitty favorite bait in this thread. On the other hand, poster knows enough to know that this kind of idea is called a 'pony' and should therefore know enough about site culture to expect some lazy shitty favorite bait in response to this particular idea.

The system kind of works!
posted by Kwine at 2:35 PM on June 2, 2014


Historical note: The "@username" convention—and MetaFilter's cultural hostility towards same—predates Twitter by years. Before people were getting snarked at for trying "to make MeFi more like TweetBook," they were getting condescending reminders that "this isn't an IRC channel."

I guess there really is nothing new under the sun at-sign.
posted by Zozo at 2:38 PM on June 2, 2014 [1 favorite]


I think the idea in the OP is a terrible idea.
posted by Sebmojo at 2:41 PM on June 2, 2014


We could start one on the wiki and call it "A Million Ways to Get Snarked at in MetaTalk"

It might be easier just to list the ways not to get snarked at in MetaTalk.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 3:26 PM on June 2, 2014 [2 favorites]


I don't think there's so much Twitter-hate in this thread (as has been pointed out, many Mefites use Twitter) as there is a "don't cross the streams" vibe. I like Tumblr conventions on Tumblr, I like Twitter conventions on Twitter, and I like Metafilter conventions on Metafilter. Metafilter isn't Twitter, or Tumblr, or Facebook, or Reddit -- it's its own, curious, wonderful beast, and the people here (for the most part) like it that way. By and large, we don't want threading or upvoting or @username or whatever on Metafilter. That doesn't translate to not also enjoying, or at least making use of, Twitter and Facebook as well.
posted by tzikeh at 4:25 PM on June 2, 2014 [1 favorite]


I seem to be a known knowledgeable person on a couple esoteric topics. I write that because I get a steady trickle of memail from other users wanting help on those topics. Which I don't mind at all; sometimes I respond right away, sometimes it takes a while and sometimes "it takes a while" slides into "I never get around to it". Especially so since I closed my account for a while and I don't visit quite so often. Mail backs up and I never actually get around to replying.

However those memails require some effort by the seeker. Either a search for my name or a search for the topic on Ask and then a few clicks to get to the memail form and then a bit of typing to actually send me the memail. Being able to throw up a Bat Signal in a post by "@"ing my name would eliminate that bar completely to my detriment in the short term and to the detriment of the site in the long term as acknowledged experts close their memail to combat the deluge.

And my area is pretty narrow. Think of the flooded memail that Brockles, The Straightener, ColdChef, Jessamyn, languagehat, gompa, onlyconnect or ...

Ok, I can't think of anyone else with well known expertise in a broad area but that's I'm sure because I don't pay much attention to usernames rather than because their aren't legions of experts here.

At any rate I think being able to ping other users would be of very limited benefit to most of the user base and would be a serious burden to at least some of the user base while cluttering the reading experience with superfluous markup.

And it would promote a culture of "A-List" members. The same users would get pinged over and over in part because they were seen to be pinged before. Talking about F1; better ping Brockles and even if the OP doesn't some helpful commenter or three are sure to do so. Which would be another annoyance as a single users gets pinged multiple times per thread (programmicly there are ways to work around this but it trades off annoyance for a feature that only works some of the time and therefor would increase support costs).

Finally this feature wouldn't play nice with deletions.
posted by Mitheral at 8:42 PM on June 2, 2014 [4 favorites]


Good lord, even a web site called blankwebsite.com has ads.
posted by maryr at 8:50 AM on June 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


AND Google hasn't shunted them off the internet.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 8:53 AM on June 3, 2014


It's true, it's the top hit when I Google "blank website". LAME.
posted by maryr at 10:41 AM on June 3, 2014


Of the first ten comments, *maybe* two can be characterized as either lazy or snarky.

You should try the same calculation but instead this time multiply each comment by the number of favorites it's received.
posted by zixyer at 12:54 PM on June 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


It might be easier just to list the ways not to get snarked at in MetaTalk.

The only winning move is not to play.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:28 PM on June 3, 2014


FIAMO, Hal.
posted by maryr at 11:35 PM on June 3, 2014


Or Joshua. Whoever you are.
posted by maryr at 11:35 PM on June 3, 2014


WHOPR!
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 8:00 AM on June 4, 2014


It's WOPR - War Operation Plan Response.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:31 AM on June 4, 2014


Oops.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 2:40 PM on June 6, 2014


« Older Post about historical debate about numbers?   |   Because You're Worth It, Metafilter. Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments