I declare jihad. July 12, 2002 9:21 PM   Subscribe

I declare jihad. There have been 'imminent demise of Metafilter' threads posted with clockwork regularity since about two weeks after Matt started the site, I think, and this is not one of them. But the lengthy MeFi essay I blurted out on my weblog recently has got me riled up, and I think it's time for me, at least to declare myself. [Please join me inside, won't you?]
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken to MetaFilter-Related at 9:21 PM (104 comments total)

(Apologies for the length. I feel strongly about this.)

I don't claim to have been a sterling contributor to Metafilter, so let's get that out of the way. I've been involved in my fair share of pointless cultiness, mindless chatter, IRC-like banter, and outright tomfoolery. I've gotten drunk occasional and made an ass of myself. My posting history will show all of that quite readily.

*waves an admonishing finger at Tamim*

But I love the Metafilter. And I have noticed, as so many have, that there are some really smart, interesting folks who have left us, with or without fanfare, and in leaving have often bemoaned the way that the tenor of the site has changed.

I've only been here for a year and a half, and I think perhaps hasn't changed all that much since I joined, but I must admit that the level of intelligence, the level of civility, and the quality of the conversation, although it frequently reaches the giddy heights that once were common, has declined, most notably in the last six months or so.

So, rather than merely bitch and moan, which I have done already on my weblog, I have decided to make a commitment. I will consciously try, from here on out, to make MeFi better, in whatever ways I can. I won't become a MetaNanny and drag people into MetaTalk at the drop of a hat, nor will I entirely stop indulging in jocularity, which has a place here, I believe. But I will consciously try to exhibit behavior that is constructive and community-building, recognize that behavior in others, and try to discourage the kind of stupidity and incivility that has come to characterize too much of the discussion here in recent times, and that has driven some of my favorite people away.

I know, it's only a website. But I've met many fine people here. And there are still many really smart, really good folks actively participating here. I ask you all to join in this holy quest - whether or not there really is a slide into mediocrity 'round the Filter, and that is, as always, arguable, let's consciously try to make this a better place. The worst that can happen is that the quality of our community rises. The best, if the doomsayers are right, is that we can save Metafilter, the place we all so love.

Who's with me?
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:21 PM on July 12, 2002

Er, sorry I said you were being serious in the previous MeTa post, Stavros. You are right, of course.
posted by Lynsey at 9:29 PM on July 12, 2002

When people say "it's only a website", in that demeaning, shrug and wave of the hand kind of way, I get a little ticked (not at you, stavros, 'cause I know that's not what you meant). I'm sorry folks, but it's not "just a website". For many people it's a place to chat with friends, make friends, have good discussions, lively debates, discover something new, learn to be a better person, be amazed at the intelligence of people, even make enemies. For Matt, this is his baby-he's put more work into it than most of us will ever realize--I guarantee you that he doesn't say "it's just a website".

I think what stavros and many others are saying is that if you want to have a venue that you are proud to say you visit, a place that stimulates you in any way whatsoever, then take a moment to think about what you're posting. If you have any doubts at all about it, don't post it. If it's a ubiquitous news item, do the research to make the post more noteworthy.

I mentioned this in another post, but civility is not over-rated! I'm sure that we can talk about the hot issues without getting into flame wars--not addressing a flamer works best for me. Don't respond to trolls. Talk to people the way you would like to be talked to.

I for one would like to see many people who have left resume posting their amazing thoughts. I know I have been enriched just by going through the archives.

stavrosthewonderchicken, I'm more than willing to get silly and trite and say that I'm with you on this. I too will be more than happy to do my best to make MetaFilter a better place.
posted by ashbury at 9:53 PM on July 12, 2002

For what it's worth, I just refrained from posting a somewhat snarky message. I'm doing my part.
posted by crunchland at 10:02 PM on July 12, 2002

If we're not with you, does that mean we have to be against you?
posted by bingo at 10:55 PM on July 12, 2002

For those actually interested in learning what those good old days of MetaFilter were like, I'd like to suggest that they take a look at the way conversations of yesteryear were framed. Check out the daily 'one year ago today' and 'two years ago today' links. More often than not, they will be filled with civil conversations by intelligent people who may disagree, but who respect each other enough to keep the noise, the ad hominems, and the snarkiness to a minimum. And even in the cases when these sorts of comments snuck by, they were normally refuted with well-reasoned, well thought-out, and intelligent responses.

It's an amazing thing, really, to see this kind of conversation on MetaFilter (that is, one in which most people can respectfully disagree) -- especially on such a controversial topic of the time.
posted by dogmatic at 11:09 PM on July 12, 2002

If we're not with you, does that mean we have to be against you?

That's a disappointing question, bingo. I'm going to assume you're not just attempting to be clever, and try and answer seriously.


If you feel that there's absolutely nothing wrong with the way that Metafilter is now, and you feel unmotivated by a sense of community, that's absolutely fine. No one should have a problem with that, at all, unless you're running around pissing on people.

All I'm committing myself to, and asking like-minded others to do, is to refrain from taking for granted the quality of our experience here. If you are indeed 'against me' (which is a foolish way to put it, but fair enough), then it would seem to me that you are committing yourself to trying to drive the community into the dirt.

I assume that's not what you want. I used the first person singular a regrettable number of times in my post, I am aware, but I would nonetheless prefer if this wasn't about me, but about the site and the community here.

I'm disappointed at what seems like an attempt to derail that conversation. But it goes to support my point perhaps, so thank you for your comment nonetheless.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:13 PM on July 12, 2002

i think MetaFilter needs new blood - new voices and ideas to play with. Notice how just a few new users (thomcatspike?) can completely shake the community. New users does mean new chaff, new trolls and assholes, but it is also the source of this site's sustenance.

Whether its intentional or not, the current incarnation of Metafilter is a unique sociological experiment. Walled off, we have become bored with each other, we have fallen into the trap of the familiar and feel quite comfortable addressing each other by cute nicknames as well as uncomfortable obscenities. People have forgotten that they are in a public space, observed by many and have let their guard down. The result is rather like that of your father watching tv in his underwear - never a pretty sight.

I notice too that many of the exiles have not abandoned the Web, they have merely abandoned MetaFilter. You can still find them active and engaged on their weblogs or on other weblogs as commenters. Intelligent people need new challenges and new ideas and many old-timers probably just became tired and bored of explaining the same concepts to the same people, fending off the same objections, rehashing the same arguments and ideas. They went off in search of other intellectual territory to explore, as is their nature.

The links here are still fantastic and its obvious that most ex-Mefiers still frequent this place, as silent readers. Unfortunately, however, they feel no need to "stay for the conversation"
posted by vacapinta at 11:45 PM on July 12, 2002

I can't stand it when old timers like Tom Brokaw jabber about the 'good old days', I believe there is no such thing as the good old days, and this, in a way, applies to MetaFilter. There was snarkiness back then (the thread referenced by dogmatic), but it did not seem as prominent, perhaps because there were fewer active members.

Now I would like to completely contradict myself and say that I am all for a MetaFilter Renaissance, because indeed, something has been lost (civil, high discourse), and it needs to be recovered. Any good Renaissance needs a catalyst, though, and many a MetaTalk thread has called for a rebirth, but most end in idle banter and chit-chat. Where is the Summa Theologica for the web which will help spark the revival?
posted by insomnyuk at 11:47 PM on July 12, 2002

I think the very dramatic changes in the quality of our reality, ie. social, economic, and political life, reflect in the pages of MeFi as well. Persistent loud noise and sheer manipulative force appear to be more effective than rational dialogue and accomodation. The meaning of our identities jumbled, language itself is unable to differentiate between contrary acts wrapped in similar, outdated lingo. It's not only MeFi's future that's at stake, but our own.
posted by semmi at 12:03 AM on July 13, 2002

The result is rather like that of your father watching tv in his underwear - never a pretty sight.

Oh, jeez, thanks for the memory.
posted by y2karl at 12:07 AM on July 13, 2002

Whether its intentional or not, the current incarnation of Metafilter is a unique sociological experiment. Walled off, we have become bored with each other, we have fallen into the trap of the familiar and feel quite comfortable addressing each other by cute nicknames as well as uncomfortable obscenities.

This almost describes what having a job used to be like before the advent of the contingent workforce. Work, where you are thrown together with people by circumstance, not choice and where everyone gets to know youas intimately--and starts to treat you as shittily--as family.
posted by y2karl at 12:28 AM on July 13, 2002

You're a good man -- er, wonderchicken -- Stavros. I'll tilt at a few windmills in your company. Here's a start for me: rushmc, my apologies for this pointless snark, and I hope our more recent conversations go some way to making up for it.
posted by sennoma at 12:49 AM on July 13, 2002

wonderchicken: I was not trying to derail. And I like to think I'm not an opponent of civil disagreement, though I have my moments like everyone else.

I just get uneasy when I hear, in any context, "I'm going to start doing GOOD! Who's with me?" It's creepy. Like the speaker is claiming a moral highground in an abstract battle, and daring everyone not to fight on his side.

What you've written at the top of the thread reads less like a resolution for self-improvement and more like a pledge of civic virtue, written as if to be spoken in an auditorium full of good church-going country folk. It makes me want to hurl.

I doubt many of us are out to bring down MetaFilter, and I doubt your reminder is needed to those sympathetic or heeded by those who are not. I like it here, but I am not going to wear your little armband, and I have the right to say so.
posted by bingo at 2:11 AM on July 13, 2002

It's only a website, it's only a family, it's only a country, only a planet. semmi's point is well made: this place is a mirror for what is outside it, as what is outside is a mirror for what is within.

bingo: why reserve your vitriol for someone wanting to do something right (even if you consider it misguided)? It makes me want to hurl when people act self-interestedly, in a way which disregards possible hurt or offense to others. This might make me want to pat stavros on the head, but only if he'll bring my slippers in from the fire afterwards.

Yes, I'll try to be a better mefi member. I did for a while, but then I became disheartened. Then I thought I had left for a bit, but I keep sneaking back. Not that I would put myself in the company of some of the clever people who have stopped posting here, to our considerable loss. I suppose the point is that if it's worth making the effort to read the site, it's worth making the effort to raise the bar a little, whatever that means to you.
posted by walrus at 3:00 AM on July 13, 2002

Not that my slippers are in the fire. I'm not sure what I was thinking there.
posted by walrus at 3:01 AM on July 13, 2002

It makes me want to hurl.

Hurl away, bingo. Just don't get it on my shoes, alright?
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:16 AM on July 13, 2002

Don't worry, I'll aim high.
posted by bingo at 3:29 AM on July 13, 2002

I take StWC's post very seriously because he's usually the optimist ("That problem will take care of itself") and the conservative ("MetaFilter is fundamentally OK as it is") who puts some common sense and hope into all the "MetaFilter is getting worse" threads.

He's also a light-hearted funster with a hell of a way with words - so when he gets serious I pay attention. I've tried to think up a comment that would be helpful but all I could come up with was what I take to be Stav's essential, unmentioned point: that MetaFilter is in need of both new blood and the old blood.

How can you not agree with this? Who doesn't want back the ones that got away and want in those who still can't join? Too many have left and perhaps too many, because of the size MetaFilter has reached, have been kept away.

And while the new server may solve the second problem, the first one can never be dealt with. People leave communities when it's no longer worth their while to stay. They fall out of love; they consider their work there to have been in vain; they think it's changed from something they believed in into something they become tired of trying to put back on track.

So, while I was unable to make a more positive comment, I kept thinking of that old Talking Heads song, "Once In A Lifetime", spurred by that line "Into the blue again". And it does seem pertinent and hopeful and funny in describing this typical MetaFilter quandary.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 3:46 AM on July 13, 2002

And you may ask yourself
Where does that highway go?
And you may ask yourself
Am I right?...Am I wrong?
And you may tell yourself
My God! What have I done?

Letting the days go by/let the water hold me down
Letting the days go by/water flowing underground
Into the blue again


Same as it ever was...Same as it ever was...Same as it ever was...
Same as it ever was...Same as it ever was...Same as it ever was...
Same as it ever was...Same as it ever was...
posted by MiguelCardoso at 3:48 AM on July 13, 2002

This is not my beautiful thread!
This is not my beautiful site!

...okay, I'm done.

For what it's worth, I applaud any effort to raise the level of discourse in any situation. Especially when that effort is accompanied by the realization, as stavros' seems to be, that said effort can only come from one's self.
posted by toddshot at 3:58 AM on July 13, 2002

Accepted, sennoma.

I think these calls for taking responsibility for one's actions here are great--I made one myself not too long ago. But I also think, unfortunately, that as long as we have people who actually pride themselves on constantly "pissing in the pool," that there is only so much that the rest of us can do. It is easier to sit back and snipe at people that rub you the wrong way than it is to contribute meaningfully to the discussions here, and I think more and more people are choosing to take the easy way out, which disappoints me.

and try to discourage the kind of stupidity and incivility that has come to characterize too much of the discussion here in recent times

We certainly can't get too much of that. I'm not sure when people decided that if they didn't like what someone posted, or their tone, or their politics, that they could declare open season on peurile personal attacks on them for their own petty amusement, but such attitudes are pure death for the site.

I agree with vacapinta about the "new blood" issue and have been saying so for a year. That which does not change, stagnates.
posted by rushmc at 4:07 AM on July 13, 2002

Stavros, I applaud your sentiments and your resolution, but as someone who's participated in several online communities over the last 18 years, I have to note that not a single one of them has survived in their original form. Good intentions are not going to do anything to curb that process, if my experience is any guide. The typical way that these groups evolve is that an elite group of the early contributors forms and then splinters off to another location.

Whether its intentional or not, the current incarnation of Metafilter is a unique sociological experiment. Walled off, we have become bored with each other

This, I think, is a good summation of the real problem. Unfortunately, it also reminds me of the movie Zardoz. Maybe we need a pony-tailed Sean Connery to come bursting in here wearing a red diaper and brandishing a gun?
posted by MrBaliHai at 6:09 AM on July 13, 2002

Stavros, I salute you and your jihad... I have been a card carrying member of MetaFilter (admittedly, under another login) for a very, very long time. I lurk now and occasionally post with this login, despite being a daily reader. Now that I've moved into the "it's just a website" camp, I can't say I share your passion for the improvement of MetaFilter, but I do share your frustration with its current state.

From that perspective, I am of the opinion that MetaFilter's stagnation is due to the (relative) narrowness of the links presented for discussion. MetaFilter is NewsFilter now, with over half of the daily links just reposts of Yahoo! News pages or CNN - that is, on the days when it's not The Obscure MetaFarker Store, when every other link comes from Romenesko or Fark.

Simple question, simple answer: you want better discussion, post more interesting topics. Expand the site's view, challenge it to see new things - don't just harrangue us with the latest Palestinian and/or Israeli atrocity. I'd venture to say that the incivility you so rightly decry has at least some basis in the boredom of readers when confronted yet another fat chicks post, yet another SUVs-are-evil post, yet another, yes, Middle East post. You can probably already predict what most frequent posters are going to say on each one of these things and, frankly, who gives a damn?

However, I must point out that I don't even own a red diaper (and all of the black ones that I have are in the dirty laundry basket...), so I'm clearly not the one who's gonna save the day here...
posted by JollyWanker at 6:28 AM on July 13, 2002

I'm clearly not the one who's gonna save the day here...

I vote that we start a genetic breeding program among the Brutals to produce an UeberFilterian who can save us from ourselves. I'll start working on building the giant stone head filled with guns...

...I've already got the Magic Marker goatee.
posted by MrBaliHai at 6:51 AM on July 13, 2002

(admittedly, under another login)
Really? Why did you change it then, JollyWanker? You may be one of the lucky people who can flaunt a three-digit user number and you now use a lame 13,000+ number?
It's very un-MetaFilter
No wonder you quit -- but if your eally quit, what are you doing on MetaTalk on a Saturday?
posted by matteo at 7:10 AM on July 13, 2002

Ancient prophecy says he or she will be an outsider who comes at a time of great crisis and raises us to new heights amid tears and porcupines (that part might be a mistranslation).
posted by rushmc at 7:13 AM on July 13, 2002

has anyone seen my bike?
posted by clavdivs at 7:49 AM on July 13, 2002


attention passengers, the captain has just turned on the 'lighten the fuck up' sign...

ok, go ahead, you create a jihad, i'm going to build me a dirty bomb full of snarkiness...
posted by jcterminal at 7:54 AM on July 13, 2002

I'll start working on building the giant stone head filled with guns...

Guns? Seems like CPUS, monitors, printers, scanners, assorted such peripherals and DSL lines for all would be more in order, MrBaliHai. Maybe even gift subscriptions for a year of free pizza deliveries...
posted by y2karl at 7:58 AM on July 13, 2002

the captain has just turned on the 'lighten the fuck up' sign...

On Meta, it's ALWAYS off -- that's the nature of MetaTalk

But it's a sad fact that in the last six months MetaFilter got definitely worse -- much more name-calling and trolling and shitting on threads and much less informative posts, stavros has a point. I don't know if it's a post-9/11 problem -- the general tone of gravity and the war in the months immediately after the tragedy have been replaced by something less interesting
And yes, we've lost some very smart users, too
The "new blood" thing is dangerous -- Matt has to control the new users number or we'll end up with 100,000 users and unmanageable chaos, it'll be up to him to find a way

Ancient prophecy says he or she will be an outsider who comes at a time of great crisis and raises us to new heights
rush, you mean Keanu Reeves will be on MeFi soon?
posted by matteo at 8:16 AM on July 13, 2002

Stav, brothaman, you know that i'm with you on this. What makes this site as good as it is, is not the format that makes the site.although certain decisions made by Matt (for better-stated details than I can provide see Matt chapter of the usability book) have fostered good things. It's the fact that 1) it's a "general interest" site, so no matter what you're into you're welcome here. 2)we've got a good collection of people hre, thorough whatever confluence causes those things.

It follows that to "save" the site, it's up to the active, old-guard people to lead by example, which is what I pledge to do in the jihad.

posted by jonmc at 8:32 AM on July 13, 2002

stavros, what a coup if you could book dogstar to play your jihad! although there IS a chance they are already booked for the carlucci briss.
posted by quonsar at 8:47 AM on July 13, 2002

Metafilter Still Dead, News at 11...

I admire your pluck, stav, and your comments at your blog, and yes, I miss rodii and holgate and sjc too (and hardly ever click '1 year ago today' because it's too depressing to fool myself, if only for a moment, into thinking 'Hey! X is back!'). But I suspect the real reason for the desertion of the old guard is vacapinta's:

Intelligent people need new challenges and new ideas and many old-timers probably just became tired and bored of explaining the same concepts to the same people, fending off the same objections, rehashing the same arguments and ideas. They went off in search of other intellectual territory to explore, as is their nature.

Those of us who've been around a while will have been through this more than once. Mailing lists and newsgroups and bulletin boards go in cycles, and most people get bored after two or three of them and move on. The problem may not be that MetaFilter has changed so much, but that it hasn't changed that much.

There are really two issues here: the departure of old-timers, and the lamentable changes in MeFi culture. There's not much we can do about the former—people move on. And I'm not sure what we can realistically hope to do about the latter (if we agree that there have been significant changes, and that they are lamentable, which not everyone will). As an individual, all one can do is attempt to lead by example in post by post and thread by thread; but it's hard to feel, as rcb commented on your blog post, that it really makes much of a difference in the face of hundreds of users who have other ideas. And attempting to 'lead by example' month after month contributes to exactly that feeling of living through the same thing over and over that prompts old-timers to leave.

Maybe it's not such a bad thing for old-timers to move on. Who'd want to watch a bunch of veterans waxing lyrical about the good old days all the time? Every second thread would be 'Double post! We discussed that back in aught one...' 'Triple post, doncha mean - why, I remember discussing that in ninety-nine, when you '01 vets were knee-high to a grasshopper!'

[Ponders own three-digit user number.]

[Realises that he's doing so in brackets, which is someone or other's Pet Peeve.]

[Realises that he's also using small type, which is someone else's.]

[Laments changing culture of Metafilter. Nobody had Pet Peeves in the Good Ol' Days.]

Miguel wrote above: they consider their work there to have been in vain. Which struck me, because yesterday he wrote in a thread, in response to clavdivs's appearance halfway through:

Ah, the masters awake.

Forgive me, Miguel, because I acknowledge your perfect right to admire clav's style, but isn't this part of the problem? We exalt a few 'masters', a few 'old-timers', and the rest feel like a buncha monkeys typing away for nothing while everyone is really waiting for the masters to awake...

We come here because it's a community of thousands, the one that matters the most in our corner of cyberspace, and then we expect to be treated like the unique snowflakes we all are, with everyone remembering all of our own particular peeves and foibles and treading warily around them. We look at the MeFi Stars and aspire to be like them, and make some noise so that others will notice us, perhaps a bit too much noise at times (but hey, everybody makes mistakes, don't they? I'm a unique and special snowflake), and then realise it's getting a bit noisy around here, so we complain about the noise (but in our own unique and special way: I'm no MeTa cop, I just care about the site!). After a while we expect to take our place among the MeFi Stars by virtue of our longevity, except that's not how stardom works, so we get annoyed that nobody seems to Respect Our Authoritay, and start waiting for The Thread, the one we know is coming, the one that will be So Outrageous and Annoying that we simply can't bear to remain in its obnoxious presence because, I dunno, it slags off Bush or Israel or contains a Rude Word or something, so that we can climb into our awaiting Toyota High Dudgeon and drive off into the sunset.

Which is not meant to impugn stav, or clav, or anyone, and is probably more a description of my own state of mind on any random third-year-at-MeFi day.

I'm just wondering whether, when we talk about our disaffection with the Current State of MeFi, we should be facing up to our own disaffection (as you are doing, stavros, and admirably so) rather than complaining about the Current State of MeFi. Disaffection is not always a bad thing. If we loved everything about the world absolutely and forever, we would feel pain at every slightest change.
posted by rory at 8:53 AM on July 13, 2002

seriously tho, i admire stavros for this. at least he's doing more than complaining. he's actively trying to solve the issue, and he's asking and inspiring others to do the same.

way to go stav!
posted by jcterminal at 8:57 AM on July 13, 2002

"It's just a website"

I knew I should have copyrighted that when I said it.

And I'm still waiting for the prize I was promised.

Communities do rise and fall with the willingness of their members to treat one another like members of the same culture. You can't deny that there has been intense polarization of this community since September (in fact, it really seemed to begin with the appointment of Bush as president in 2000). Once polarization sets in, it is very difficult to reverse. Even explicit efforts at civil discourse are often shortcircuited by the fundamental rifts that creep in.

Do what you think is right -- behave more civilly, contribute better posts, go find some other online community, snark till you drop, whatever. Just do what you think is right and you'll at least be true to yourself and you'll have some integrity to show for it. It doesn't really matter what happens to this community if everyone does what they think is right.
posted by briank at 9:01 AM on July 13, 2002

Here briank,

Have some printed boxer shorts or panties in lieu of an official prize. Community solidarity through underwear uniformity.
posted by srboisvert at 9:31 AM on July 13, 2002

Regarding the "We need new blood" theory: Since Matt "closed" the new member page on October 4, 2001, 1,791 new members have joined – an increase of more than 14%. How's that for new blood?
posted by timeistight at 9:32 AM on July 13, 2002

I think the 'newsfilter' tendency is like falling back on "default reality" SOMETIMES - posting what we're told is news (which CAN result in repetitive commenting, snarkiness, and 'same old same old' derailments, etc.) - while I certainly don't mind a bit of news here and there, I mostly skip over those posts. In a way, STWC's committment to focusing on what he DOES want to see here seems that it would take a bit more energy and personal integrity than just skimming yahoo headlines, but it seems that what energy you put into that kind of project you'd get back, tenfold. The more you look for things that are fascinating, yet AREN'T reported, fed to us, or generally known about, the more you find. And the more you fuel that search with your own personal interests, the better it works. (One of the rules of good writing is that if you want to appeal to 'everyone', be as 'specific' as possible, not as general. ;-) )

In my own life, I've certainly fallen back on snarkiness and complaining about things at times - eventually I get bored with the nothingness though, and start asking myself what I want to discover, rather than just reacting to what is presented to me. That is the kind of energy I'd like to see here - that, to me, is the meaning of new blood. Applying to myself, of course.

I wonder if this kind of 'situation' is a microcasm of the world at large in some ways - when you come to an 'end' of the era or grouping or phase, everyone knows a lot about the whole phase, but very little about what's coming. The tendency is to, then, focus back on what you DO know, and conversations tend to dissolve down to the same basic beliefs that govern that phase. Letting go of those beliefs and searching out the new - takes some strength to steer out of the old ruts of thought, and often we recreate ourselves in the process, if we're ready.

Er... my philosophical two cents worth - LOL. :-)
posted by thunder at 10:04 AM on July 13, 2002

"Community solidarity through underwear uniformity."

Hey, it works for the Mormons.

But seriously, I'm as liable to toss off a casual one-liner as anyone else (see above) rather than contribute a longer, more well-reasoned position which might in turn provoke a more reasoned response from the next person. So, it is my pledge to attempt to refrain from posting one-line quips and to instead make a reasonable effort to engage in actual dialogue, in the hope of raising the level of discourse.

I trust the armband is optional.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 10:39 AM on July 13, 2002

I trust the armband is optional.

Yes, but the tattoo is permanent. ;-)
posted by thunder at 10:50 AM on July 13, 2002

Well at least now I know.

I left MeFi this latest time not on purpose, but simply because life demanded of me attention elsewhere. I'd come back and lurk now and then, but rarely saw much to respond to. I did when I could, but ultimately I guess I feel that I don't contribute to this site in a way that is positive. I exist in a state of head in clouds heart on sleeve foot in mouth. In fact that is in a sense my life's mantra. I guess I figured the best thing I could do for MeFi would be to leave it alone. The times in the past when I tried to offer positive insight or find some way of helping to make it better, I'd either make it worse or I'd make absolutely no mark whatsoever. More often the latter.

And I like the one liners. I like many aspects of this place which others claim to be signs of an apocalypse. Recently I've gotten email from others wondering where I went. One kind gent went to my webpage and found out what I've been up to. He even congratulated me. That was sweet of him. And I realized I guess I have been away from here for awhile haven't I?

I've been gone awhile and people are still complaining that it's not what it once was. That MeFi's getting worse and is going to die soon. And of course it never does. MeFi is what you make of it, for better or worse. It is nothing better than what you put into it, and what you take from it. So if MeFi is worse for you, perhaps you should reconsider why you come and what you offer it. The only way to make it better for you is to offer better of yourself. At least now I know I can't blame myself, because I wasn't here and things didn't really change. So as an old college chum used to say, The Platypus is not my concern...

When I can, I'll offer the best of myself to this place and let the chips fall where they may. I ask nothing more or less from any of you. Well, maybe I could ask for one more thing.

Just try to enjoy yourselves when you're here. =)
posted by ZachsMind at 11:29 AM on July 13, 2002

1. Old-timers leaving / lack of stimulating topics that are not news-related:

There's only one way for anyone to get consistent access to scintillating, creative, cutting edge cultural developments: you prowl, constantly, for new sources of cutting edge people and personally invite these people to join in on your party. I suggest we should all start looking for some stimulating potential invitees, so that Matt has the option of doing some targeted expansion as an alternative to straight random signups.

Wonder what Matt thinks about that?

2. Spinoff sites: Why not start more of them?

3. Girls who want respect: We should be banned, pure and simple, unless we look good in spandex and post pictures. The Internet demographic is the wrong place for women who aren't cruising for stalkers! There's a reason for the sudden fascination with prostitution in the general culture: what you can't get for free, you may have to buy. The combination of HIV and an economic downturn makes "relationships" a bit tougher to sustain, because more of us ladies really need solid monogamy or money on the table as a part of your attestations of worthiness for our attentions ... Unfortunately, it still isn't comfortable, and may not be safe, for most non-working / non-dating women to be present where men are discussing their personal feelings regarding sex workers.

Feeling uncomfortable in a "boyzone" may well become more common in offline environments too-- not just on MetaFilter. (If anyone spots commentary on how to reverse this trend, I'd be interested in seeing it.)

Conclusion: Attempting to civilize the place so more girls show up would be nice, but it's up to you males to make it happen if it's your priority. Be advised! Any woman intrepid enough to hang out here probably has backup ready to smoosh you flat if you mess with her.

4. It's summer vacation time in the temperate zones. Bloggers are wildly erratic in their posting right now-- scads of stuff, or nothing at all.

Expect MetaFilter posting to be somewhat more erratic until after the Labor Day holiday, and don't be all bummed about it. People will be back and say more interesting things if they actually have a life.

PS As for changing the culture here with your own posts-- even if nobody else notices that you're a tactful person posting really fascinating links, I do.
posted by sheauga at 1:25 PM on July 13, 2002

Are the words here really so threatening, sheauga? I should not want to live in a reality so confining and fearful.

That said, I am certainly in favor of a broad demographic (no pun intended).

Do spinoff sites strengthen or weaken Metafilter? I can see how they might benefit the users, but I think each one takes something away from MF. Once we have shattered the site into a "filter" for every conceivable topic, what will be left? It seems to me that it is precisely the general flavor here that makes this appealing. There are already lots of niche sites for every specific interest.
posted by rushmc at 1:50 PM on July 13, 2002

Feeling uncomfortable in a "boyzone" may well become more common in offline environments too-- not just on MetaFilter. (If anyone spots commentary on how to reverse this trend, I'd be interested in seeing it.)

Among the girls I've known, having bigger boots(of the combat variety) than the boys helps.

I don't think I've seen any particular hostility towards girls, although I've been finding out of more and more people who seem to think I'm one. And I tend to elicit hostile responses at times.
There's a syllogism in there somewhere.
But yes, most of the known girls who stick around can definitely smack any boy down without too much effort. I wouldn't want to run into Rebeccablood in a dark chatroom.
posted by Su at 2:03 PM on July 13, 2002

I wouldn't want to run into Rebeccablood in a dark chatroom.

That was rude and ungracious, Su. Rebecca is unfailingly polite, sensitive and respectful and no less forthright because of it.

Yet another example of boyzone talk at its worst, if you'll forgive my saying so. Also: Johnny Cash apart, why do you keep complaining people assume Su to be a girl's name? What's so surprising about that?
posted by MiguelCardoso at 2:29 PM on July 13, 2002

"Su" is the Unix command to become superuser, and most Unix admins are men, so it's clearly a male name. I'd think that would be perfectly obvious to anyone.
posted by kindall at 2:43 PM on July 13, 2002

perfectly obvious to anyone

To "anyone" who knows what Unix is, kindall! Never mind what "Unix commands", "Unix admins" or "superusers" are - or the fact that most of them are male. I.e. to about 1% of everybody. I, for instance, have no idea what any of these things are. And I'm as anyone or everyman as the next man... ;)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 2:59 PM on July 13, 2002

Miguel: Er...where did I imply Rebecca was rude, insensitive, etc?
For those requiring clarification, the only real contact possible here is text and argument. Within that context, I acknowledge that Rebecca can kick most of our asses, and not smudge her eyeliner. I still have trouble getting eyeliner on at all.

I also don't recall complaining(much less repeatedly, as you suggest) about assumptions over my name. I'm amused by it, and it was a known factor in my choosing it. Su means a lot of things; I accept them all.

Back to the topic, I kind of agree with Rush's idea that more and more spinoffs will eventually leave little for MeFi itself, but I don't think the dissolution will be that bad. There's a SportsFilter, but for the really big events, it still comes over here some, and that's okay.
posted by Su at 3:08 PM on July 13, 2002

Thanks for that, Su. I obviously read you wrongly. I should have been more sensitive, honestly. Sorry! :)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 3:15 PM on July 13, 2002

Regarding "new blood":

(and sorry to devolve back on topic)

I've been a devoted reader of MeFi for almost a year now, but very rarely do I post comments (and I have but one link to my name). It's hard to keep up with the flow of the conversation, it seems, unless you are devoted to checking the site every hour on the hour. Most of the time I spend catching up on threads and conversations, because the in-jokes are carried around like everyone has read everything.

Anyway, my point is, the casual reader & commenter cannot keep up with everything that's going on, unless they devote a large chunk of time to it, and some of us are too parsed as it is.

But, we have that all-wonderful view of observer to the fray. And I can say that though I miss some of the old posters mentioned above, there are also names that are still here to hold the helm of reason. We all have our favorite posters for whatever reason, and as long as there's no mass exodus MeFi will survive.
posted by somethingotherthan at 5:19 PM on July 13, 2002

I can't help but wonder, stavros, why you'd post this as a MeTa thread. What, exactly, did you want to happen here? A bunch of folks raising their glasses and saying, "To MetaFilter!"?

There are a billion things wrong with MetaFilter, and there always have been. There are also a billion things that keep people here, day after day, in spite of all the crap.

After seeing the pet-peeve thread, and then the "Why I love MeFi" thread, it occurs to me that this thread is almost like the cigarette after a night of fighting and make-up sex that follows. Indeed, MeTa is about masturbation, which lead me to realize why Matt only allows 5 posts on the MeTa page. He did this, correct me if I'm wrong Matt, because of threads like these, that if left on the main page for days, would inevitably lead to hundreds of useless comments.

You made your announcement on your site. You received over 30 comments from various posters. You could have linked to it from your member page, or mentioned it in one of the other threads. You instead posted a new thread, rekindling the cycle of masturbation that inevitably follows. Seems to me that your jihad is off to a poor start.
posted by BlueTrain at 5:37 PM on July 13, 2002

Hope this approach to charming women and setting us at our ease is producing good results offline. Perhaps the gracious Rebecca can point out what I'm missing?
posted by sheauga at 5:57 PM on July 13, 2002

Upon re-reading this, I find myself pondering certain things. dogmatic's example of a civil thread makes me wonder whatever happened to Dr. Zoidberg? There's a new name to me. Rory's point about about boredom resonates with me--I wouldn't have re-read this thread if I wasn't so bored with the links of late.

vacapinta's tesseract post is my idea of interesting. Miguel's grammar post was another--to read the commentary was simply humbling. But everything else on the blue pages just bores me to death.

I click on the few blogs I follow--and I knew nothing about blogs before I came to this place via the Salon article in late September--and saw stavros' disquisition yesterday, followed a link to blogfucker where I found myself being and to think mr blogfucker used to like me...*sniff* slagged along with bluetrain, me via link (over some stale old comment on the OG 9622 prompted by some imagined beef concerning my former personal MetaPoliceman who initially didn't want me invited on 9622.org by Miguel) and bluetrain by name--Miguel, you should say something to your chums in the peanut galleries about slagging people 'in your defense', you know, that's really more appropriate for emailis it possible the ad hominems in the peanut gallereis indirectly contribute to the venom shown here?--where all the same old tiresome crap about the death of MetaFilter was spewed.

Such crust! Why does every other person who quits MetaFilter start a blog wherein they name names of examples of everything that's wrong here anyway? The since deletedway dong_resin went on about rodii at the original nascent 9622, for example, yet if I could trade one for the other to be here still...

MetaFilter reminds me of the community FM station where I used to do a show--there were so many disparate groups, all jealous for time, clashes of egos and personal dislikes and yet it was, in theory, consensus driven--under a board of trustees in the philosopher king position that Matt has here. And every so often there'd be a change of administrations who'd promised to 'shake things up by getting some new blood in here.' New blood usually translated to 'me and my buddies.'

Which is what sheauga's vetted new subscribers idea sounds like to me. My favorite newbies--coughpersonswho signedupaftermecough are iconomy and riviera--we could use more arch whimsy like hers* and, crusty or not, we could use a few more well spoken and pithy types like him: can I be in charge of the appropriate committee? You see the problem...

We may need another iconomy, I fear... Pooh...

I'm finding myself in agreement with rory more than anyone else. People are projecting their malaise on the blue screen... It's summer, the silly slow news season and people are playing outdoors and that's all for the good.

Now if you don't mind, I'm going go rent a canoe at the UW near at the Arboretum and go glide among the reeds, watch the herons stalk fish and listen to the blackbirds sing this is my territoree-ree-ree! When my girlfriend was out, we saw a bald eagle perched atop a dead poplar the first time and an osprey there on the second. It is so soothing and calming and the light is so golden in late afternoon...

This is not my territory and I have no grand pronouncements and nothing further to say. For the moment...

ps. two idle thoughts after review:
1. I clicked on kablam's user page after reading the Anne Frank thread and checked his comments. People here are so interesting... and far more complex than one comment might suggest.
2.And where's midasmulligan to preach to us about the glories of corporations in these postHarken/Haliburton daze?
posted by y2karl at 6:02 PM on July 13, 2002

Well, BlueTrain, if more people do think that my reasons for posting this here were all about wanking, and so easily dismiss what my point in doing so was, then you're right : there isn't much of a point.

This is MetaTalk here - a place to discuss Metafilter, and ostensibly to try to make it better. It is perhaps a function of your relatively short time here that you perceive the function of MetaFilter to be ego-centred chat and masturbatory hijinks. This is not the case, or rather it shouldn't be the case as much as it is.

As people more perceptive than yourself have realized, there is no point whatsoever in lamenting that something in which you are a participant is in decline, without making a commitment to do something about it. This I have done, and coupled it with a call for others to simply Be Aware of the consequences of what they say here : to try to make this place better.

The people who visit my weblog and comment there are a tiny subset of the people who might read and think about a MetaTalk thread. The numbers of well-reasoned responses here so far are a good thing, unreservedly so, in my opinion. If more people, more people like yourself, think about what they get and what they want from this site, and cherish it (yes, I know) a bit more, that cannot be a bad thing. We all know what happens when you take something for granted.

I understand that my 'who's with me' might have been ill-advised in retrospect. I suspect that the tone of my post, along with the tongue-in-cheek 'jihad' (and knowing me through my words here, as I would hope you do to some extent, how could you (and others) possibly think me anything but lighthearted in deploying that loaded word?) put a few people, including yourself, off. This is regret, despite the fact that my post has resulted in some people speaking up and making a commitment to try and keep this place the haven for smart, reasoned discussion it once was.

The pet-peeve thread, and the "Why I love MeFi" thread are part of the problem, BlueTrain, and if you don't see that, then we do have a problem, because for better or worse, you have been one of the more vocal participants around here.

You've missed my point so completely, and in fact it seems you miss the point of MetaTalk so badly (which, as I understand it, is to discuss MetaFilter) that it astonishes me. Clearly, the fault lies with me for not stating clearly enough that my rationale for posting this thread was not to get a bunch of pats on the back for my community-spirit, but a heartfelt plea "to exhibit behavior that is constructive and community-building, recognize that behavior in others, and try to discourage the kind of stupidity and incivility that has come to characterize too much of the discussion here in recent times, and to refrain from taking for granted the quality of our experience here".

I deliberately did not name names or provide examples of people who are contributing to the perceived decline of Metafilter, which I noted is arguable.

I understand your doubts as to my intentions. But I assure you, they were as pure as I am capable of making them.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:17 PM on July 13, 2002

It is so inappropriate to talk about what dong said on 9622.net regarding rodii. He was being nice, trying to stop rodii from basically saying, "please love me too. I don't feel like a man, and if you don't flirt with me I don't want you flirting with anyone." rodii went on and on about feeling left out, when in reality, he was left out because people just weren't interested in him, and he was jealous. It's not anyone's right to have anyone else interested in what he has to say.
posted by goneill at 6:42 PM on July 13, 2002

I have a question. Applauding, as I do, the sentiment to improve the site which we all love, what, exactly, are newer members expected to do? I do not mean this to be snarky, and I also regret my ham-handed self-congratulations on the other thread where a similar topic is being discussed, but seriously - what can I, and others who have only been here for less than a year and a half (and so missed the MeFi "glory days") do at this point?

I have been posting and commenting pretty regularly since I snuck in just a few months ago, and (I hope) have been contributing in a positive way. If not, please let me know. I'm serious about this. Either the "community" as a whole wants to continue to evolve, or it wants to stay as it was at a certain point in time, with no change in content or personnel. As I have said in other fora, I may still be at the point in my personal MetaFilter history where I am still so enamoured with the "whole" that I don't see the individual rotten pilings and cracked foundations that others bemoan. I don't have the history that so many others do, and that lack colors my view of the situation, but still - I see valuable contributions every day, from members who are scoffed at on a regular basis. Should I disregard their input, because they have rubbed the wrong way against one or members once or twice upon a time?

Anyway, this is going on way too long for someone of my vintage - just, please, let me (and, I think, the other latter-day signers-on or sneakers-in) whether we are in the right or in the wrong.
posted by yhbc at 6:56 PM on July 13, 2002

It is so inappropriate to talk about what dong said on 9622.net regarding rodii.

Then why are you doing it?
posted by rcade at 6:56 PM on July 13, 2002

< the percieved decline of metafilter>.
perceived by whom, exactly?. I think Mefi is great. I think Meta is better. That makes two shit hot places to visit all day every day. I don't know if it was better before I was aware of it, because I wasn't aware of it. Some of the comments on this thread are are very insulting and very childish however.
It smacks of, " This place was so much better when it was just me and my mates, now everyone is coming and THEY JUST DON'T UNDERSTAND".
There is a sense that people resent the new gang because they aren't the old gang, which is extremely wanky, really.
If change isn't allowed, encouraged and embraced, this will become a place for bedwetters.
posted by Fat Buddha at 7:02 PM on July 13, 2002

And jeez, goneill, it wasn't about that anyway but a bitch about rodii as MetaTalkPoliceman, I didn't see that shit to which you refer... Just the same I'm so sorry I wrote it or anything else now. I am so very creeped out.
posted by y2karl at 7:07 PM on July 13, 2002

Woaaaaah.. I was kidding about rodii. I thought that was perfectly clear to everyone. If you 9622 guys can't spot sarcasm, then we're all toast. Let me make this clear: I have nothing bad to say about rodii. I don't agree with him to often, but we've always been civil to each other, and I welcome his presence. I seem to remember inviting him to the earlier incarnation of 9622. I if I had shit to talk about a metafilter personality, I would not take it to some other site. I would do it here, with an invitation to email.

Interestingly, BlueTrain speaks for me as well.
Hard to find a bigger fan of Mr. Thewonderchicken than myself, but this thread is the biggest dick grab since they impeached Nixon.

Metafilter is the most user-friendly, easy to operate, interacitve site I can possibly imagine.
Don't like something? Post what you do like. It's that simple.
"A call to arms" is fucking ridiculous.

posted by dong_resin at 7:07 PM on July 13, 2002

Damn. Sorry to interrupt, but there should be a "know" before "whether" in my last sentence above.

Actually, no, I'm NOT sorry to interrupt, because this is what I'm on about. I don't know rcade, or rodii, or even goneill, on the basis of a long, drawn-out website relationship, but I do know each of them by name, and I recognize each as a valued member (past or present) of the MetaFilter community. So, how should I, when I am not personally a part of the bickering and stone-throwing (not necessarily here, but in general) react to the same when it happens?

And, on preview, my last sentence was way above. It's still there, though.
posted by yhbc at 7:10 PM on July 13, 2002

Don't like something? Post what you do like. It's that simple.

Sorry, dong_r, my friend, but it's not that simple. Like I said, it's arguable whether Metafilter is sliding, and how far it has, if it has, but I have to argue that what I've said is not ridiculous. I'm not talking about whether Metafilter is 'user-friendly' or 'easy to operate'. Of course it is. Matt's a master carpenter when it comes to usability.

What I'm talking about is knee-jerk dumbass behaviour, like calling something that clearly resonates with a large number of people here 'fucking ridiculous', without talking about why you find it so.

Of course a 'call to arms' is silly - that's the point, amigo. You can't expect me to say things, no matter how serious, with a completely straight face, can you?

Don't like something? Post what you do like. It's that simple.

That, if you stop to think about it for a sec, my friend, is precisely what I have suggested. Coupled with 'don't be an asshole', and 'don't encourage assholes'.

You really, honestly have a problem with that?
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:26 PM on July 13, 2002

Indeed, MeTa is about masturbation

Oh, for god's sake, BlueTrain, if this site is just about pissing and masturbating for you, and the only reason you come here is to shit on what the rest of us are trying to do, why the hell do you bother to come? Are you really so petty and destructive that all you want to bring to the table is negativity?
posted by rushmc at 7:35 PM on July 13, 2002

Yes, I know your tongue is firmly in your beak with your verbage, hombre, but you're basically complaining that metafilter is going to crap.
When you do that, of course you're going to get an assload of "me toos". Everyone has some opinion of what metafilter should be, and there's always someone willing to complain that it's not going that way.

In pointing out how easy it is to use, what I'm saying is if you dislike the current tone, you're not going to get anywhere complaining about it. We can all do something constructive, and post something that pleases us.
Change ensues as a result of indivual effort.

It is, in fact, just that simple.
posted by dong_resin at 7:37 PM on July 13, 2002

Alright, thanks for helping. I'll let you older and wiser folk fight it out. I'm done.
posted by yhbc at 7:38 PM on July 13, 2002

I'll put it another way : if there was a majority opinion of what was wrong, it probably wouldn't be going that way to begin with.
posted by dong_resin at 7:40 PM on July 13, 2002

Change ensues as a result of individual effort.

Yup. I'm going to give it a bash, too. With some histrionic posturing (which I've already apologized for), I've invited others to do the same. In all the many months I've spent so much time here (and met so many good people), I've seen a lot of bitching, and very little in the way of pledges to try to do better, and outright pleas for others to do the same. It's desperately unhip to do something like that, to be unsardonic and heartfelt, particularly out here in textspace, and maybe that's why.

If it's a wank as well, well hopefully the wankiness is secondary to my honest attempt to try something new at halting (again, for what seem like the 20th time) the arguable slide into mediocrity of the 'filter.

On refresh : 'it probably wouldn't be going that way to begin with'

My take on it is that not enough people are being aware, thinking about this place as a community of people rather than a great wodge of disconnected text. Thus my 'don't take it for granted' refrain.

I sense perhaps I should back off and let you folks build it up or tear it down as you see fit...but I do tend to rise to a challenge.

(yhbc - you are golden, buddy. OK? I think you can take the lack of response to mean a lack of complaints.)
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:48 PM on July 13, 2002

You may well be right with the awareness thing, Wonderchicken.
Maybe I give people too much credit.
posted by dong_resin at 7:59 PM on July 13, 2002

Before I go though, I'm just gonna note that the most recent bunch of threads in the blue are just chock full of civil and intelligent discussions.

Not for a second would I suggest that it's a result of this thread, but it is proof that this place is very much worth cherishing and treating with respect.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:00 PM on July 13, 2002

Being a relatively new member (about a year) I came here expecting the same crap I got at other online "communities" and fully intended to act in kind; that is, like a trolling, snarky asshole. Sure it worked maybe twice and I posted some lame-assed links but boy did I get slapped. Did I deserve it? Of course I did. But I did see something here that I didn't see in other communities; a sense of civility, intelligence and some downright hilarity. I really haven't see much of a difference over the year that I've been here aside from the occasional blowouts but that is to be expected as the numbers have grown. I simply trust the process. Newbies will fall in line or die away, oldsters will grumble, fade but hopefully come back. This place really is worth it.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 10:50 PM on July 13, 2002

I'll delurk for this thread.

In the various RL & online communities I've been a part of the last 20 years, I've seen the same pattern repeated many times. At one time it perplexed me, now I expect it.

Once a community is created, it in absolutely essential that new members are added. The community realizes this and and recruits. The new members look to be a good addition and everyone is happy at first. The elder members of the fraternity/irc channel/online gaming clan/message board are treated by respect and deference by the new members.

After a bit of time, the new members begin to want to be treated as elders. The elders get worked up. The newer members get worked up. If the community is strong, it gets worked out and the cycle begins again. If the community is weak, destruction.

I have found that if people can keep just a little perspective and realize that they do like each other and that's what matters. Most of the fights are about trivial issues when you really look at it.
posted by Argyle at 11:20 PM on July 13, 2002

This is MetaTalk here - a place to discuss Metafilter, and ostensibly to try to make it better.

Technically speaking, you are correct. But more and more, MeTa threads have been about discussing ourselves, as if we were some research project for some grad students about why human behavior can be so erratic.

you perceive the function of MetaFilter to be egocentric chat and masturbatory hijinks

No, I perceive MetaTalk to be egocentric chat and masturbatory hijinks.

As people more perceptive than yourself have realized, there is no point whatsoever in lamenting that something in which you are a participant is in decline, without making a commitment to do something about it.

I appreciate the jab. Making a commitment to creating a better MetaFilter is a very noble task. But very self-serving, IMO, because your particular view of MeFi is not necessarily mine, or the next poster. You want to make it better? Quit gabbing about what's wrong or how you're committed to being a better member. Just do it. And this is exactly what I'm referring to as ego-centric bullshit. "Hey guys, look at me! I want to make MeFi better...Pat me on the shoulder and join in my crusade!" Enough with the witty MeFi banter. Play on, player.

I suspect that the tone of my post, along with the tongue-in-cheek 'jihad'

How stupid do you think I am, exactly? Of course I realized that your terminology was a joke, if completely misplaced and badly timed.

The pet-peeve thread, and the "Why I love MeFi" thread are part of the problem, BlueTrain, and if you don't see that, then we do have a problem

What did I say above? Did you actually read it, or glaze over it, assuming my entire comment as irrelevant and/or inflammatory?

I said this:

After seeing the pet-peeve thread, and then the "Why I love MeFi" thread, it occurs to me that this thread is almost like the cigarette after a night of fighting and make-up sex that follows. Indeed, MeTa is about masturbation, which lead me to realize why Matt only allows 5 posts on the MeTa page. He did this, correct me if I'm wrong Matt, because of threads like these, that if left on the main page for days, would inevitably lead to hundreds of useless comments.

Let me water it down...MeTa has so much become about masturbation (the definition of masturbation is talking about MetaFilter) that Matt limited the number of posts available to the front page. That way, threads fall off more quickly and less chatter occurs (again, correct me if I'm wrong Matt).

you miss the point of MetaTalk so badly (which, as I understand it, is to discuss MetaFilter)

You and I have a completely different definition of the purpose of MeTa. I believe that MetaTalk is used for bugs, feature requests, and calling out inflammatory posters/posts/comments. You think that MetaTalk is to discuss MetaFilter, which leaves the door open, IMO, to chatter.

I found myself being and to think mr blogfucker used to like me...*sniff* slagged along with bluetrain

y2karl, I appreciate the head's up. Let me make this perfectly clear to my semi-anonymous admirers: if I did not like this site, I would leave. If I didn't feel that I was learning something, and genuinely contributing most of the time, I would stop posting. When Matt banned me, I could have easily just said that I no longer want to be a part of this site. Instead, he kindly reinstated my account and I'm back.

So much hostility, it's scary. You have a problem with MeFi, do something about it. E-mail people and tell them that they bother you, nicely, and reach an understanding. Make the thread better by contributing intelligent commentary and links. Quit your fucking bitching because it's lame. It's unproductive. It's unnecessary.

This place is still intelligent and civil...seems to me that fewer posters are carrying more weight now, however.
posted by BlueTrain at 11:37 PM on July 13, 2002

yhbc, what Stavros said. You're a fine, upstanding MetaCitizen.
posted by sennoma at 11:44 PM on July 13, 2002

By the way, lest my personal sex symbol and spirt animal Y2Karl paint me in an unflattering light, here is the original 9622 stuff, which if you allow to load and scroll all the way to the bottom, you can read for yourself, if so inclined, to see how I "went on about rodii" over at the embryonic monkey house.

Fear not Karl, as it is my understanding that rodii is still here, alive and well, merely having renamed himself.
And, still quite welcome, possibly even desired over at 9622.

Also, stop emailing me please, Karl, as I've told you I'm not going to sleep with you.
I'm sure you're very atractive.
posted by dong_resin at 12:16 AM on July 14, 2002

attractive, even.
posted by dong_resin at 12:20 AM on July 14, 2002

A common human delusion is to believe that by belittling something you're involved in - be it the company you work for or keep; your country or your friendly community weblog - you somehow emerge as bigger and better than what you bemoan.

Bitching about MetaFilter often conceals that ubiquitous human boast, made everywhere on this planet since time began, which always boils down to "I'm too good for this shit". This, in turn, entirely deserves the question "Then why[the fuck is optional]are you still here?"

That's why constant complaining and nitpicking, snarking and snobbing are so uncool - it's vulgar in the real sense of being so common and such an integral part of human nature that it's boring. And yet some users still seem to think it makes them look superior. Actually it just makes them look all the same. Ordinary. Ornery even.

Hell, if you want good, post good, m'kay?
posted by MiguelCardoso at 12:48 AM on July 14, 2002

BlueTrain, you are venturing into the realm of self-parody now.

I will admit freely that I mistyped when I said 'you perceive the function of MetaFilter to be egocentric chat and masturbatory hijinks' - I had meant to say 'Metatalk'.
Happily, you were willing to jump in and make my point for me when you said : 'I perceive MetaTalk to be egocentric chat and masturbatory hijinks.'

Oooh, what a give-away, as our friends in the UK might say.

If you'd taken the time to read what I've said in this thread, and elsewhere, you'd see that I am not 'bitching' about Metafilter - I don't do that. As I've said before, I love the Metafilter, and most of the people on it. The fact that you would say to me 'quit your fucking bitching because it's lame' indicates clearly, both to me and to every other person who reads this thread with even a modicum of attentiveness, that you've paid little attention to what has been said here (and presumable elsewhere) and are lashing out in the obnoxious, counterproductive way that is fast becoming your hallmark.

I have long been someone who sings the praises of Metafilter, over and over again, despite the presence of aggressive, self-involved little pissants like you that have the temerity to try and drag this place down to their own level, and in the estimation of many people whose opinions I respect, are succeeding.

You are perfectly justified in believing that I started this thread with self-aggrandizement in mind. You'd be wrong, but you're perfectly entitled to do so. What in fact spurred me to post this was a comment from Rebecca Blood on my weblog, which I hope she won't mind me quoting here, as it was also in public :
"I don't know. I've spent a *lot* of time posting to metafilter as constructively, thoughtfully, and respectfully as I possibly could, and finally it simply wasn't worth the trouble.


[I]n the end I haven't felt that those efforts had the slightest effect overall--at some point you need to just face reality and spend your time where you *can* hope to make a difference, or at least to have a little fun."

When she left that message on the comments thread attached to my little MeFi-essay of a few days ago, it made me realize that perhaps just displaying laudable behaviour isn't enough, mostly because of the presence of people who will not act in a communitarian fashion no matter how many times you show them that it's a good thing. *cough* I decided to post this thread, make it explicit, and hope to make an impact for the good. I did it after thinking about it, knowing that people like you would take the opportunity to piss all over my efforts - I did it after some consideration, because of what Rebecca and other people have said. I did it because when everyone around you sees a problem, whether you see it or not, doing what you think is the Right Thing is all you can do.

You'd do well to heed those words, BlueTrain.

Unlike you, from what I can gather from your words here, I am more concerned with the community and my place in it, rather than myself, and how the community can serve me.

I hadn't realize you'd been banned before. Fair enough - so have I.

But if Metafilter does decline to the level of IRC as so many (and I'll say it once again - this time in bold so maybe you will notice - not me) have worried, it will be those of your pointlessly agressive, self-involved ilk (of which thankfully there are few) who are responsible. There may be a silent majority out there that is cheering you on, grinning with schadenfreude each time you call someone fucking lame. I don't know. But I feel, like some other folks apparently do, that nothing will be lost by tuning you out in future. The kind of nastiness you seem to specialize in sucks all the fun out of this place.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:49 AM on July 14, 2002

Now, give me a kiss.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 1:00 AM on July 14, 2002

I appreciate the personal attacks, instead of arguing the merits of my comments.

Let me repeat myself, because apparently, specious attacks on my character are what seems best suitable for you.

This thread was an announcement to do better, which was completely unnecessary because this site does not revolve around your personal agendas. The only person, IMO, who should be allowed to announce a jihad to better MeFi is the site owner. Otherwise, you're simply creating a thread to further your own thinking.

There is nothing wrong with wanting to better this site. I do not argue the merits of your argument. My problem is with the placement of such an argument. As I said before, you posted it on your site, and that's enough. If others would like to link it to their own sites, copy it to their own sites, hell, print it out and worship it as God's words, I wouldn't care. But to bring your jihad to this site is to use it as your own personal playpen. And that's unnecessary.

If you'd like to continue attacking my character, go ahead. If I've learned anything this past month, it's to allow a poster, including myself, to make an ass of him(her)self and learn on their own how life works. So devolve. I hope you and your ilk enjoy moaning about the demise of MetaFilter, and bashing me in the process. ::shrugs:: Like I said above, play on player.

Now, give me a kiss.

Only if I can slip you the tongue.
posted by BlueTrain at 1:09 AM on July 14, 2002

*referee whistle*

Unfair timezone imbalance! Eight hours sleep conceded to BlueTrain!*

*[It's almost worth a separate MeTa thread. You, Stav, being in South Korea, are fresh as a daisy. BlueTrain, on the other hand, is burning the midnight oil. I wonder how many exchanges are affected by these imbalances... I often suspect coffee vs. booze conversations, where one user, Perky, has just had his coffee and the other one, Slurry, is well into his fourth malt nightcap.] ;)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 1:13 AM on July 14, 2002

So we'll agree to disagree then, and snog each other out behind the barn when no one's looking.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 1:20 AM on July 14, 2002

I swear to God, Bluetrain - sometimes it seems the only reason you're on Metafilter is to tell people how you think Metafilter should be run. Give it a rest.

That said.

See you all here next year when we talk about how great Mefi was in July of '02 and how it "totally sucks now".
posted by owillis at 3:05 AM on July 14, 2002

This thread was an announcement to do better, which was completely unnecessary because this site does not revolve around your personal agendas. The only person, IMO, who should be allowed to announce a jihad to better MeFi is the site owner.

People have a sense of ownership in the community that's expressed by suggestions and criticisms in MetaTalk.

You seemed to realize that when you asked, "Is there any way MeFi could have a voluntary moratorium on Middle East threads?"

Sometimes I think you adopt contrary positions in these discussions simply to hear your head rattle.
posted by rcade at 6:24 AM on July 14, 2002

"Sometimes I think you adopt contrary positions in these discussions simply to hear your head rattle."

It's called playing Devil's Advocate. I do it all the time. It's fun. You talk as is there's something wrong with that?

By the way one can ask for voluntary moratoriums on any and all kinds of threads but should not expect anyone to accomodate. Why? Moratoriums are unfun. And if anyone's in MeFi for a reason other than having fun, I sure as hell can't help ya.
posted by ZachsMind at 8:10 AM on July 14, 2002

It's called playing Devil's Advocate.

No, it's called making noise. To play Devil's Advocate is to explore the arguments on the opposite of an issue from that which you normally believe, in order to understand the issue better. Using any post as an opportunity to post intentionally contrary, antagonistic, offensively-worded rhetoric in order to stir things up and get people's goat is simply divisive and destructive.
posted by rushmc at 8:28 AM on July 14, 2002

If I've learned anything this past month, it's to allow a poster, including myself, to make an ass of him(her)self and learn on their own how life works
If there's a bustle in your hedgerow
Don't be alarmed now
I agree with Miguel's first paragraph here wholeheartedly. A trite aphorism of New Age seminars is You make yourself right by making other people wrong. It's a cliche wrapped around a kernel of insight, not unlike another cliche from the same direction: Be here now, which of course is the heart of any system of meditation. Easy to say but so hard to do in either case.

I pretty much divide people here into the Never Wrongs and others. I get sucked into writing things to the Never Wrongs sometimes, because I'm human, but it's such a waste of time--it's like the doofus who tried to catch out Ann Coulter: there's no point in climbing in the ring with some who is armor plated in industrial obtusity or has a black belt in conversational karate.

When I came on in late September, I thought Miguel, with all his solicitude and good humor, was one of the old timers. I hadn't picked up on the undercurrents then...

Miguel is one of the few here willing to be wrong openly, to be human, and admit to making a mistake. That is so rare. And if he's self-important, he's wise enough to stick a pin in his own balloon from time. And he's so damn nice to people...

(I sometimes suspect some of the A-listers quoted and unquoted herein or by reference, have quit in part because we new people don't know just how iimportant they are in the history of MetaFilter or weblogs and, hence, don't fawn properly or treat their words of wisdom with the proper hush and awe... )

I don't have that high opinion of my own brilliance to start a weblog, nor of others to read that many. It's a great concept in theory but even the best are so deathly boring too much of the time. And they are such a much major time suck to read or write.

Another thing I will say for Miguel is that he doesn't link to people's stupider comments on or off-premises, doesn't write MetaSkank crap like Also, stop emailing me please, Karl, as I've told you I'm not going to sleep with you. That is so tired... I email the people I like and respect, on my own initiative or when they write to me, and then only sometimes. I don't write unsolicited sexual innuendos at men or women, on or off-premises, and I just don't think writing crap like that is funny.

I have plenty of faults otherwise. I'd like to think that making profound analyses, grand pronouncements or writing manifestos are among my most common failings.

As to MetaFilter--the quality varies. I came for the links, stayed for the humanity.

posted by y2karl at 9:14 AM on July 14, 2002

er, are not among my most common failings.
posted by y2karl at 10:05 AM on July 14, 2002

It's interesting to me that out of this discussion of making a personal commitment to make MeFi better has arisen this subthread about a group of elite oldtimer posters who are all bent out of shape by all the uppity newbies.

Who are these people? So many are saying this, but I've never seen any evidence of a seniority system here. I've always viewed Metafilter as a place where one is judged strictly on what he or she types, nothing more (or less). I've seen lots of people come in and make a splash with their first couple of posts, because they were thoughtful and interesting. I've also seen people come in and basically get ignored (or flamed) because they didn't take the time to figure out what was appropriate to the site and to craft good posts.

But I don't get this "oldtimer vs. newbie" thing. Can someone give me some examples?
posted by rushmc at 10:23 AM on July 14, 2002

let's consciously try to make this a better place

I'm with you on this, stav -- I think this is the only worthwhile reason to submit a comment or post on this site. (I also once asked, in this space, what can we do to raise the level.)

But the key isn't the making-it-a-better-place-part, it's the consciously. Most users here simply don't seem to want to make the added effort.

And I think that any time anyone clicks Submit, they are making MetaFilter a better place in their own eyes; each comment or post is ultimately equivalent to a vote for a certain kind of MetaFilter. (Which is why Nick's point about user memory is so critical -- if the voters who can represent this place's history don't even show up in the polls, then that history is just that -- history.) MetaFilter is the way it is because the people here now like it that way. And that will always be true.

The only way to resist the pull of the unthinking masses is to do so consciously, as you say. (And MeTa helps bring out some issues to be discussed, and sometimes even redressed.) But deliberate acts of that nature are real work, especially when done individually, on MeFi proper, and people don't want to do it. And their silence is an accurate reflection of that fact. For whatever reason, it's not worth it to them.

All those people who whine about what MetaFilter has become do so simply because they'd rather whine about it than fight the (uphill) battle to preserve the elements they like. It's too bad, but it makes sense -- as the membership increases, and as the original body of members succumbs to attrition, the battle to protect the site "as it was" gets yet more difficult, and less rewarding. And so the site changes.

I can't not respect anyone who's stopped contributing to something, if contributing is no longer rewarding to them. And while I wish more people were willing to try and actively foster those aspects of the site they do find rewarding -- and I still think there's no reason why a group of proactive members couldn't get (virtually) together and figure out a few things they could do to post more of the kinds of threads and comments they think are good -- I think I can understand why they might choose not to, no matter how much I might regret it.
posted by mattpfeff at 11:23 AM on July 14, 2002

But I don't get this "oldtimer vs. newbie" thing. Can someone give me some examples?

In other words, systematically diagram and document an amorphous intuited impression developed over time, please, so I can refute it? Right...
posted by y2karl at 11:25 AM on July 14, 2002

What's tired Karl, is decided you don't like someone, and then weakly attacking them with a tiny made up character attack, and then, not even managing to have a sense of humor about it later when you get you shown to be talking complete shit.

Pretty weak, my friend.
You take yourself very seriously, it seems.
While you do this, there's no way I can.
posted by dong_resin at 11:36 AM on July 14, 2002

From my point of view, posting more stuff I like is not a way to fix MeFi. My biggest problem with the site, as I mentioned on stav's site (and there are a few good points there, from a bunch of ex- and present-day MeFi regulars), is that I can't keep up. The most time I can realistically spend on MeFi is an hour a day, so I always get this sinking feeling when I see "there have been 46 links and 7002 comments since your last visit." This sheer volume causes a bunch of secondary problems, including a) discussion dying out faster as threads get bumped down quickly; b) related discussion spread across a bunch of threads; causing c) rehashing of all the same points in each similar thread.

More good stuff is always good, I suppose, but I'd prefer to see way less bad stuff. People still post lots of good things here, but it tends to be buried and by the time I find it the discussion is dead. So some ideas to fix that are a) a longer posting limit (one per week instead of per day) and b) a moderation queue (gasp!). Of course, these are fixes that require Matt to do something...

Also, this is just my opinion - I know many of you are online all day and have more time to check the site, and if not an issue for the majority of users, so be it, I'll shut up. However, I can't help but imagine there are more people like me out there who have the same problem.

I also think there's an issue about an overall decline in the level of discourse and civility, but I'm not sure how we go about fixing that. That would involve, presumably, a sharp rise in the number of MeTa callouts, and the viciousness of the subsequent backlash never ceases to amaze me.
posted by D at 11:58 AM on July 14, 2002

[Excuse my length]

Hey! Y2karl! Actually the poster here who most revises - not trashes, not contradicts - his every opinion in the light of incoming intelligence is you yourself. I love reading what you write (even in the comments you probably find silly) because I'm reading a travelling mind, taking in what goes around it and feeding on what comes before, in order to go bravely forward more confused, more complex, richer and wiser from even the driest stones. I envy this mental availability - elegance I'd call it - and try to emulate it.

Your recent nostalgic pang for MidasMulligan - your constant reviewing of your every attitude - shows you're in this for the truth and the pain and beauty and the fun, as your posts and your radio show, er, show.

So I expect you'll forgive me - or at least reconsider - that dong_resin is easily the master of both of us, in terms of integrity and sheer, bloody humanity. He went out of his way to show you how wrong you were to bear a grudge (coz you are uncommonly hot-headed to begin with) and still you take his wonderful, deeply affectionate quip, to wit:

"Also, stop emailing me please, Karl, as I've told you I'm not going to sleep with you"

as being somehow petty. It's not. It's grand. As someone who really thinks about what others say I know you'll soon overtake your impulsive understanding of this and not only put me straight but teach me something about it as well.

This is your most admirable quality. Or at least the quality I'd most like to have. Your worst defects are your first instincts. Your emotional beginnings. This is good! Ordinary, petty people are exactly the reverse. They never progress beyond that initial impression.

You do. Deal with it; get over it; report back soon, comrade of mine! :)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 12:54 PM on July 14, 2002

/me reburies the dead horse known as 'boyzone'.

fuck. i need to watch the grounds a little more carefully.
posted by jcterminal at 1:18 PM on July 14, 2002

In other words, systematically diagram and document an amorphous intuited impression developed over time, please, so I can refute it?

If you can't point to it, it may well be a lie, for all I know. I've been around a while myself and have yet to see it. So why is it unreasonable for me to ask those who do claim to see it to point it out to me, rather than just alluding to it like it's a given?
posted by rushmc at 1:19 PM on July 14, 2002

ah, MiguelCardoso, you will eventually bring our cold, supermarketed hearts around from the harsh gutter of vulgarity to the flowery and subtle world of suggesting the vibrant tang of personal affinity, or implying a potential for heretofore unimaginable sensual delights ... the rank sweat of yesterday's coffee gives way to a swift new server after a fresh shower! ...

posted by sheauga at 7:38 PM on July 15, 2002

Miguel: That's some writin' there. Damn! I salute you.

D: Lately I've been in and out of here throughout the day (to the point that I feel sheepish about it) and I can't begin to keep up either. I doubt if I'm able to look into more that 10% of threads on a typical day.

Maybe Matt should cut the one post a day back to one post a week. Would that give more of us time to consider what got posted?
posted by timeistight at 7:50 PM on July 15, 2002

Blessed are the peacemakers. This we can believe is true. Right, sheauga? :) Though you're way ahead in this respect, because you bring peace to discussions by bringing knowledge and balance, appealing to information and depth, stressing complexity and, for lack of a better word, worldliness (known to the terminally insensitive as links). That's far more lasting and convincing than my emotional pleas, which are OK here in Southwest Europe but easily pass for "bullshit" in (too) tough America.

Though we do make a good double act, all the same. ;)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 8:02 PM on July 15, 2002

As one of the newest members of the family, I am with you, Mr Wonderchicken sir, all the way.

I have to agree with some users comments that it is very hard to keep up with the amount of activity on MeFi, even though I am on-line full-time at work. I tend to follow one or two threads and ignore the rest, which is probably for the best given the seeming duplication of subject matter.

A longer time between postings may help to reduce the traffic and make people think harder before "wasting" their weekly post.

By the way, one of the things that I like about MeFi is the one-liners that people post and the way that this happens without derailing the conversation (usually).

As with yhbc, I feel nervous about commenting and even more about posting a link, given the calibre of those who have gone before (particularly when my one and only post was completely ignored ;-))

Anyway, I will do my part to the best of my ability. Mefi is not "just a website" - it is a community that happens to meet at a website
posted by dg at 8:03 PM on July 15, 2002

As I wrote in an email to him last night:

"No, dong_resin, I was totally wrong about what you said about rodii, which makes me trust my memory even less and you have my profound apologies on that--it's just that I didn't find that wonderful, deeply affectionate quip funny. It's like what someone asked in one of the prison rape threads--do you think it's OK to make jokes about men raping women to women? On the same tip, would you write that line you wrote about a woman here? And if not, why to me?

It's like this--I have had all sorts of men friends who've come over to my apartment and gone in my bathroom to take a leak.. and to a man, they always left the bathroom door open. To me, that's worse than spitting in the kitchen sink--I hate it. And I asked them,

What makes you think I want to hear the mighty thunder of your peeing? Would you do this at a woman's home?
--Uh, no...
Why do you do it at mine?
--Uh, I don't know...

It's just a personal quirk like not wanting guys to come over and pee in my toilet and leave the bathroom door open: I don't find that sort of thing funny, and you are by no means the first person to write something like that to me at MetaFilter, just the first person to whom I got hot enough to say something about it. I shouldn't have gotten so hot about it but at least I'm on the record. ..

I really regretted writing any of that crap in that last MetaTalk thread--especially after reading what goneill wrote--but I got hot after seeing jpoulos little comments via Emptybottle...

..I don't even want to go back to MetaFilter now, to tell you the truth. It's just a waste of time anymore and I regret ever writing a single line there most days."

So that's my personal quirk. I'm not 20 years old and I don't like that stuff. My policy is don't say things to men that you wouldn't say to women, not that I always observe it or always say nice things to women. But I'm too old for making such comments to women, I guess... it wouldn't go over to well.

As to men--it'so junior high. I hated it then, I hate it now.

(an ancillary obervation here about something that bothers me is that I went to a party recently where a wife made a crack about her husbnad's pot belly--in front of everyone. Oh, it was immediately followed by But you know I love you... Can you imagine the reaction if her husband had made cracks about any part of her anatomy in public with the same follow up? Oh, I know some do--the world is full of assholes. But the difference, at least in the middle class circles of my successful friends, that only one of these above within-these-parentheses examples, actual or hypothetical, is even marginally socially acceptable. Which irks me. So I guess I feel this self made rule should be gender neutral in regards to both sexual innuendos and making fun of people's physical defects...)

I still do regret ever writing a single line here. I am sick of this place, sick of this hairsplitting and oneupmanship, sick of everything, sick of myself in this place,
posted by y2karl at 8:32 PM on July 15, 2002

Well I'm certainly not sleeping with you after that and that's for sure!
posted by MiguelCardoso at 8:41 PM on July 15, 2002

I am sick of this place, sick of this hairsplitting and oneupmanship, sick of everything, sick of myself in this place,

Karl, I feel the same way.

no sarcasm, no insults...simply quiet agreement.
posted by BlueTrain at 8:58 PM on July 15, 2002

I ask you: who needs a television?
posted by brittney at 1:39 AM on July 16, 2002

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