Let's End Single Listicle Front Page Posts. November 8, 2014 11:16 AM   Subscribe

I'm annoyed, but perhaps not too invested in this, but as a simple search for 'listicle' here on MetaTalk returns 11 comments (mostly negative) but no post hits, so perhaps it's worth discussing. I get that today's Erin buzzfeed listicle fpp does provide a little bit of context for the link (as to why the poster thought it worthy of attention,) but I'm not sure it's enough. I'm not just singling out this post, and yes, I can see it's generating discussion . But single listicle posts are the vacuous junk food amongst the fine satisfying meal that is this site. Perhaps we can have an informal policy of refraining from single listicle posts, but allowing listicles when more context, more reason for posting them -- beyond 'buzzfeed-clone wants more traffic' is given? This site is MetaFilter, after all, not MetaClick. (Though MetaClick would make a great April Fool's subsite, wouldn't it?)
posted by Catblack to Etiquette/Policy at 11:16 AM (79 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

I don't see why we need a policy. The mods already delete posts for being too thin; many, if not most, of the sorts of posts you mention would be deleted for that reason.
posted by The corpse in the library at 11:31 AM on November 8, 2014 [16 favorites]


Thank you for airing your views. I'm sure the mods are erring on the side of caution, but they have lots of errands to do before they get round to deleting that post.
posted by Thing at 11:32 AM on November 8, 2014 [12 favorites]


It's not like we're running out of space on the internet. If you don't care for a post, skip it.

Personally, I like listicles when they're done well, so having other MeFites bring my attention to the good ones is a service IMO.
posted by Jacqueline at 11:36 AM on November 8, 2014 [17 favorites]


But single listicle posts are the vacuous junk food amongst the fine satisfying meal that is this site.

Similar arguments have been made about single link Youtube etc. posts. People tend to disagree.

I'm fine with all sorts of posts remaining as per current MF posting patterns.
posted by audi alteram partem at 11:39 AM on November 8, 2014 [10 favorites]


It's not like we're running out of space on the internet. If you don't care for a post, skip it.

That's not correct for Metafilter though; mods routinely delete single link Cracked lists.

In line with the OP I'm happy to put a few pounds more pressure on the 'delete' side of the scales, without wanting to alter the essential ineffability of the modly process, since I think they generally strike a good balance. FIAMO, as always.
posted by Sebmojo at 11:47 AM on November 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


I think buzzfeed has long been on the "once in a blue moon" list like the onion or cracked. Yeah, if they showed up every day it would annoy me, but once in awhile I just see it and ignore it cause some people enjoy that stuff especially on the weekend.

On a related note: I propose "FILTER" as a flag option - for a post that's not offensive, not really breaking the guidelines, but really a way for me to say "less of this" without thread shitting.
posted by Think_Long at 11:54 AM on November 8, 2014 [8 favorites]


"Similar arguments have been made about single link Youtube etc. posts. People tend to disagree."

Yep. Ah, the history.

Anyway, having been gone from 2008 to 2011, I found it very interesting that when I came back, the argument about single-link videos had totally disappeared. Because, you know, it became obvious to everyone that a) people were really interested in learning about (arguably) cool videos, and b) it stopped being new and the site culture had pretty much figured out what was worth it and what wasn't and it became just another kind of thing to post about.

I don't see any reason why this won't happen with other new kinds of web content over time, including listicles. They're tremendously popular and although that's part of why they're annoying (what makes them popular makes them annoying), their popularity means that they're going to be posted and people are going to enjoy those posts. And bitch about them. Until we stop seeing them as distinct from other content, which will eventually happen. Then we'll not worry about it much.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 11:56 AM on November 8, 2014 [10 favorites]


Some people dislike single-link "thin" posts, some dislike multi-link "mega" posts. Other people like both kinds. In conclusion, MetaFilter is a land of contrasts.
posted by Lexica at 11:56 AM on November 8, 2014 [36 favorites]


I'd go so far as to agree that "listicle" is an abomination of a word and should be banned from the language.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 12:03 PM on November 8, 2014 [17 favorites]


But to the OP, more seriously, clickbait posts are usually mindless and should have to meet a higher bar.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 12:04 PM on November 8, 2014


I'd go so far as to agree that "listicle" is an abomination of a word and should be banned from the language.

Definitely! I'm 10,000% more bothered by the word "listicle" (shudder) than I am by the clickbait lists themselves.

That said, I liked the Erin list and have absolutely no problem with more lighthearted, less meaty posts on the blue. I like that there's something for everyone here, and in general I'd rather there be more posts on the blue even if I'm not interested in some of them.
posted by dialetheia at 12:08 PM on November 8, 2014 [9 favorites]


I'm going to guess that people named Erin (or Aaron) like that link a bit. Which goes to show that different people like different things.

Also, one of the things that I've grown to appreciate about metafilter is that it isn't always a super fancy restaurant with ten course meals, but it can be. But sometimes you just want McDonalds. (Of course, I also try not to eat from a garbage can, which is why I'm glad the moderators draw the line at some point.)

Mixing up the deep and well researched with the pithy and sometimes superficial makes me feel like a more well-rounded human being, and I like that MetaFilter naturally reflects some of this. What's great is that it's also structured such that I can choose what I want to eat, depending on what I'm in the mood for. I don't have to make fun of those who eat at McDonalds simply because I'm not hungry for it.

Oh, you can also go crazy with analogies on MetaFilter, too, and people tend to not think you are too weird.
posted by SpacemanStix at 12:17 PM on November 8, 2014 [15 favorites]


To be sure, a single link post does not automatically equal shallow content any more than a huge multi-link post equal deep content.
posted by Think_Long at 12:31 PM on November 8, 2014 [9 favorites]


Again, I'm not complaining about that fpp, (except for the distasteful hyperbole,) but weak content listicles in general. Yes, they may generate some discussion, but the I think it works better when the original poster gives more context.

To actually critique that Erin fpp though, the OP there could have given us how popular that name is, or what different spellings, mishearings are. Instead that FPP is basically, "here's a listicle, the comments are SO FUNNY!" Except they aren't.

I thought it better to have a discussion here about them because I hadn't seen one yet. So thank you all for the thoughtful comments.

I also hadn't considered, but am always thankful for, the great work that the mefi mods have done in weeding them from the site as much as they do already.
posted by Catblack at 12:32 PM on November 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


How about flagging it and moving on? It either will or won't get deleted and either way you don't have to read it. The post didn't interest me and I didn't read it, but I don't (necessarily) begrudge other people for enjoying something I don't. It has over 70 comments, presumably some people are enjoying it.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 12:50 PM on November 8, 2014 [11 favorites]


Well, my s.o.'s sister is called Erin and so I enjoyed it. Also, she has no listicle, thankfully (I am not her doctor, but I'm positive).
posted by Namlit at 1:09 PM on November 8, 2014


I don't consider flagging to be a viable option, as that makes more work for the mods. (From my understanding of it, it always reports to them.) If there were a greasemonkey script for having an ignore button, I'd be using that.

FWIW, I use RES filters on reddit, and of the 25 posts on each front page there, I see usually 3-5 posts. And I like having it that way, there's so much less mental clutter. For instance I don't care for advice animal posts, so I never see them. Maybe my life isn't enriched by their glorious wisdom, but I'm very, very, fine with that.

I was just actually searching around for something that would add an 'ignore' button to mefi posts, but I'm not seeing anything. And I'm considering coding up something. It takes mental effort to ignore something when you are seeing it each time you reload the front page, as we all know, and most of us are putting forth a lot of effort daily.

Again, I'm not complaining about that single listicle fpp for it's specific content, but because I thought a relevant discussion of single listicle posts as a thing should be, and hadn't been, discussed.
posted by Catblack at 1:13 PM on November 8, 2014


I have not tried it, but maybe the Chrome extension called Nancy in this project might be what you are looking for.
posted by danabanana at 1:41 PM on November 8, 2014 [2 favorites]


If you can't bring yourself to flag something because it seems too trivial to do so, then I think your best bet is to just ignore it and move on. It doesn't really harm you in any demonstrable way that there are innocuous posts on mefi which do not interest you. There will never be a time in any foreseeable mefi future when the entirety of the front page is single link listicles. There will always be an astonishing wealth of variety, no matter how pervasive an irritating thing you dislike seems to currently be.
posted by poffin boffin at 1:42 PM on November 8, 2014 [16 favorites]


It takes mental effort to ignore something when you are seeing it each time you reload the front page, as we all know, and most of us are putting forth a lot of effort daily.

I kind of feel like ignoring something you're not interested in takes, like, whatever the opposite of effort is
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 1:44 PM on November 8, 2014 [14 favorites]


Well if that don't tickle my listicle.
posted by Invisible Green Time-Lapse Peloton at 1:48 PM on November 8, 2014 [3 favorites]


How often to listicle posts appear on Metafilter? To me, they seem infrequent enough where it should be left up to the individual to deal with them, rather than crafting an informal policy.
posted by 23skidoo at 1:50 PM on November 8, 2014


Well if that don't tickle my listicle.

As much as I hate the word listicle, that sort of rolls off the tongue. It also makes the corner of my mouth twitch into an almost-smile.
posted by SpacemanStix at 1:50 PM on November 8, 2014


While we're at it, let's end links to bands that I don't like.
posted by tonycpsu at 1:50 PM on November 8, 2014 [11 favorites]


I don't consider flagging to be a viable option, as that makes more work for the mods.

I think you need to reconsider this stance. I'm no mod, but I've been around long enough to have seen several moderators comment here in MetaTalk re: posts/comments that oughta be [removed/deleted/edited/looked at], saying that there were zero flags associated with that content and how the heck should they know to attend to it if there aren't any flags?

Also, as has been noted here a bunch recently in discussions about high-quality internet communities, overworking our awesome moderators is the glue that keeps the wheels from flying off this ride. So flag that post! Flag it hard!

And move on.
posted by carsonb at 1:51 PM on November 8, 2014 [11 favorites]


While we're at it, let's end links to bands that I don't like.

Your favorite band sucks!
posted by carsonb at 1:52 PM on November 8, 2014


A nickel per tickle, too.
posted by Invisible Green Time-Lapse Peloton at 1:54 PM on November 8, 2014


Personally, even though I have made a few I would be in favour of a ban on all single link posts (youtube, lists whatever)… But that is never going to happen, and i think it is probably the only blanket rule that works. Either you need several links in a post to be worthwhile or a single link post is judged on the content of that link, and edge cases remain edge cases.
posted by Another Fine Product From The Nonsense Factory at 2:11 PM on November 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


Thank you thank you thank you danabanana for linking to those chrome extensions. Just exactly what I was looking for!
posted by Catblack at 2:28 PM on November 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


The only way to win is not to play.
posted by arcticseal at 2:39 PM on November 8, 2014


Yeah, on a personal level I dislike the more thin and empty listicles... but for many of them there's a personal-taste judgment call where a mod might feel like "well, not my thing, but nobody's flagging it, so I guess people are liking it well enough."

It's helpful if people do flag stuff that seems too thin. Call it 'other' or whatever. It's good for mods to see where people's line is.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 3:03 PM on November 8, 2014 [4 favorites]


Count me in as a supporter of single-link posts like the Erin one. I'm on Team GYOB when it comes to those encyclopedic surveys of complex topics that would take hours to follow through on. (Exceptions would be things like "Here's all the Iron Chef episodes on YouTube.") It's not like Matt needed to add links to supplementary articles about cats and scanners.
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 3:18 PM on November 8, 2014 [12 favorites]


Again on a personal note - I love single link posts. I just want the link to be something really good and worth reading/watching/etc.

Listicles are sometimes that, but are often kind of "meh" in their content. Same thing is true of videos - sometimes noteworthy and worth watching, sometimes kind of meh. It's always ok to flag things you think are meh.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 3:55 PM on November 8, 2014 [2 favorites]


If there's something I'm not interested in I just skip over it. I skip over most posts. I don't agree with every deletion, but the mods have a pretty good track record. They are a big part of what makes this site so great. Flag it, move on, and trust in the mods.
posted by Daddy-O at 4:15 PM on November 8, 2014 [2 favorites]


mods routinely delete single link Cracked lists

I hope that is much less true than it used to be, because Cracked, while still being very-very-bad sometimes, is also getting a larger proportion of very-very-good. And I've mentioned elsewhere that the only thing keeping them from serious respectability is their insistence on formatting or editing everything into a listicle. So I did a little lazy-research via the Deleted Posts Blog.

There has been a recently deleted "Single-Link Tumblr" that singlehandedly proves that Tumblr can be as much a comfy home for the violently-porny etchings of sick sexist sadists as for anything awful eminating from those damned SJWs. No, I'm not going anywhere near linking it. I'm using all the eye bleach myself. Which is another issue altogether (but still an example of 'don't judge a link by its domain').

The most recent deleted single-link-cracked-listicle was a badly-framed post for a badly-framed short piece with Matt's deletion reason: "This isn't really a remarkable Cracked listicle, we've had a ton of them in the past, a little thin for a post." In fact, I found THREE deleted single-link New York Times posts in the same period I was reviewing, which supports my own observations that some 'junk' websites like Cracked are getting better while the 'Grey Lady' gets worse, with the inevitable point of intersection coming within sight.

Actually, the last Cracked items to make the front page were in mid-September, "The 6 Most Pretentious Dishes Rich People Pay Money" not the best (but probably made acceptable because the fully awesome joseph conrad is fully awesome posted it) and the jaw-droppingly awesome tale of jaw-droppingly awfulness "5 Things I Learned as a Sex Slave in Modern America".

I have half a notion to assemble a 'mega-multi-link' post of what I'd consider FFP-worthy writings that no Mefite (including I) has dared to link, because "well, it's CRACKED". And it WOULD be a pretty large list (I might even consider numbering them, if only to annoy the Haters). But only half a notion - it won't take more than one or two memail messages to talk me out of it.
posted by oneswellfoop at 4:28 PM on November 8, 2014 [3 favorites]


I have no personal interest in tech/IT/computer language posts, so I just skip over them.

I'm also completely unfamiliar with most music and bands that people listen to today, since my own music bent got stuck on old rock 'n roll, old rhythm & blues, etc., so when posts come up about new music and new musicians, I just skip over them.

My granddaughter's name is Erin, so I read and enjoyed the silly little post about the name Erin. If the post had been about the name "Pete" I probably would have skipped over it.

I think it's a matter of training one's brain to scan the posts and pick up on only the ones that the brain finds intriguing; once you become adept at skipping the others, it's no big deal at all.

To expect the site to be changed all the time to eliminate this or change that or not allow this or change the wording for such-and-such - aaaah, for Heaven's sake. I just don't get it, but maybe that's what MetaTalk is all about - everyone wanting to reconstruct the way MetaFilter is run???

Okay - I'll go away now, but really folks, just skip the stuff you don't want to read - it just takes practice, not any real mental effort.

(too many "carriage returns," I know)
posted by aryma at 4:30 PM on November 8, 2014 [4 favorites]



I have half a notion to assemble a 'mega-multi-link' post of what I'd consider FFP-worthy writings that no Mefite (including I) has dared to link, because "well, it's CRACKED".


Include some of Buzzfeed's longer pieces too. Would be a good post.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 4:32 PM on November 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


Does anyone have a good recipe for cheese sauce? Or other ideas for what to do with a collection of cheese? My local delicatessen had a closing down sale and I over-bought. I have Cheddar (mild and strong), a sharp unidentifiable cheese from the Netherlands, some Double Gloucester, a large quantity of Red Leicester, and a pot of some cheese from France that smells like it died a considerable period of time ago. Thanks.
posted by Wordshore at 4:40 PM on November 8, 2014


French cheese never goes bad, it just gets renamed.
posted by Invisible Green Time-Lapse Peloton at 4:42 PM on November 8, 2014 [7 favorites]


tmotat, you're assuming that the content of Buzzfeed has been improving the same way Cracked's has. Not a valid assumption. In fact there are stories I won't bother to link to about recent efforts to 'raise the level' there that have come back to bite them in the ass (with much online schadenfreude).

me, I like a good cheese sauce, but not so much on a plate of beans.
posted by oneswellfoop at 4:44 PM on November 8, 2014


Guys, please do not insert recipe discussions into active MeTas. Thanks
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 4:52 PM on November 8, 2014 [14 favorites]


Does anyone have a good recipe for cheese sauce? Or other ideas for what to do with a collection of cheese?

Double.
posted by nebulawindphone at 4:56 PM on November 8, 2014 [2 favorites]


But single listicle posts are the vacuous junk food amongst the fine satisfying meal that is this site. Perhaps we can have an informal policy of refraining from single listicle posts

Whatever. Some of us are not you, and some of us like them. You don't like them, don't read them.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:13 PM on November 8, 2014 [3 favorites]


I'd read the hell out of a compilation of the Buzzfeed and Cracked. That truly would be a Filter post.
posted by arcticseal at 5:27 PM on November 8, 2014 [3 favorites]


That listicle was ehh, but the FPP was good because it pointed you to the hilarious and drama filled comments. I seriously don't know how you could not at least have gasped when more than one Erron showed up there. It's educational if nothing else.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 5:28 PM on November 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


There's already a site feature that exists today to fix this problem. I'm surprised nobody has mentioned it. On the front page there's a "MyMefi" tab. You can set it up to include or exclude tags that you always/never want to see. You can start yours by excluding tags like "listicle", "buzzfeed" and "cracked", then adjust it over time as you see posts that you don't like. It does a pretty good job of filtering.

I would favorite the hell out of a cheese recipe megapost.
posted by double block and bleed at 6:12 PM on November 8, 2014 [3 favorites]


I firmly believe that the mods should, from time to time, just delete all posts meeting some arbitrarily chosen and duly announced criterion. For instance, one week, they could delete any post using the letter 'e' above the fold, in a tribute to Georges Perec's Oulipian classic La disparition, and the next week it could be all posts where the title is not an inflamamtory out-of-context pullquote from the article, and the next any post that links a Wikipedia article. These constraints, no matter how whimsical and otherwise inoffensive their criteria, would spur posters to greater heights of creativity in unexpected ways.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 6:30 PM on November 8, 2014 [5 favorites]


> To actually critique that Erin fpp though, the OP there could have given us how popular that name is, or what different spellings, mishearings are. Instead that FPP is basically, "here's a listicle, the comments are SO FUNNY!" Except they aren't

That feels like padding. Either the main link is worth your time or it isn't; adding the first page of Google results isn't going to make it any better.
posted by The corpse in the library at 6:30 PM on November 8, 2014 [12 favorites]


Also: "Again, I'm not complaining about that fpp, (except for the distasteful hyperbole,) but weak content listicles in general. Yes, they may generate some discussion, but the I think it works better when the original poster gives more context.

To actually critique that Erin fpp though, the OP there could have given us how popular that name is, or what different spellings, mishearings are. Instead that FPP is basically, "here's a listicle, the comments are SO FUNNY!" Except they aren't.
"

I thought it was pretty funny specifically because I don't know anyone named Erin and someone else's hyper-specific complaints are often pretty amusing.
posted by klangklangston at 7:50 PM on November 8, 2014 [3 favorites]


you met my wife for 5 seconds once klang therefore you are wrong.

everyone knows an erin
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:22 PM on November 8, 2014 [4 favorites]


>> To actually critique that Erin fpp though, the OP there could have given us how popular that name is, or what different spellings, mishearings are. Instead that FPP is basically, "here's a listicle, the comments are SO FUNNY!" Except they aren't

> That feels like padding. Either the main link is worth your time or it isn't; adding the first page of Google results isn't going to make it any better.


YES! For my tastes, posters can stop adding links that are only there to bump the link count. Single links post are often the best way to make a post. Please don't let the complainers stop you from posting that one interesting link you found somewhere on the net.
posted by benito.strauss at 8:45 PM on November 8, 2014 [13 favorites]


If you thought you'd never met an Erin and you're wrong... then YOU are Errin'.
please... help me... stop me before I pun again...
posted by oneswellfoop at 8:56 PM on November 8, 2014 [6 favorites]


0.3% of people born in 1981 were named Erin so if you know 283 people and none of them are named Erin then it must be you.
posted by nebulawindphone at 9:28 PM on November 8, 2014 [15 favorites]


Errin' Erins' Errands Air In Éirinn
posted by Copronymus at 11:03 PM on November 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


Having only recently returned to Metafilter (check my user number it's been a while) I've no idea what's been happening in the meantime. I'm as cautious as you obviously are about listicles. But as I hope you'll understand and as I tried to draw the focus in rest of the post with a bit of hyperbole, I wasn't linking to it because of the list, but the comments underneath. In the original draft I used the phrase "fairly standard listicle" but then decided it wasn't fair to the author of the list and didn't fit the tone. Linking to a comments section could also be argued as being "a little thin" but I thought it was interesting and unique enough to be noted *somewhere*. Also I did consider adding in some extra links but it would have drawn away from central idea. In putting this together I was actually reminded of just how much thought can go into an fpp in the blue. Like I said, it's been a while, or at least it feels like it has. I remember when this place was all pancakes.
posted by feelinglistless at 2:31 AM on November 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


Hmmm. Pancakes. Errin' on the carby side of things.
posted by Namlit at 3:45 AM on November 9, 2014


I do appreciate that the title of this MeTa sounds like something posted in the hallway of a junior high-school in Japan:

"Let's All Work Together To End Single Listicle Front Page Posts!"


I hope senpai notices me today.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 4:20 AM on November 9, 2014 [6 favorites]


I hate hate hate buzzfeed posts. I think that they should have to clear a really high bar, like I/P posts and stuff to not be an insta-delete.

The thing is, assuming that was the standard which it seems to be in some unofficial at least perceived way, this would pass the test.

It's not the vacuous, dumb listicle that makes this gold. It's the comments. And the comments elevate it, bullet power-up in mario kart style, from being like a 3/10 to an 8/10. It's the kind of guffaw-then-jaw-drop stuff that the absolute best non-serious FPPs here aspire to bring.

In all seriousness though, i think these are a different case than the youtube whining. That was just another method of delivering content, buzzfeed/upworthy type stuff is usually really crappy content wrapped in a clickbait sleeve. I don't think anyone is going to calm down and get used to a new method of packaging shitty content. Other than the weird spurts of actual journalism buzzfeed has randomly been doing, their traditional bread-and-butter stuff like this usually needs some outside force or freak act of cybernature to elevate it beyond garbage. I think this post was a great example of exactly that happening, though.

On a related note: I propose "FILTER" as a flag option - for a post that's not offensive, not really breaking the guidelines, but really a way for me to say "less of this" without thread shitting.

I'm still rooting for this, but as something like "Oh for fucks sake" or "really?". I definitely wish there were more, and snarkier flag options. "Doing that one thing they ALWAYS do" would also be a good one.

If i can only pick one though, i vote for really?. I know that's basically what "noise" is now, but that would just be so much more entertaining.
posted by emptythought at 5:28 AM on November 9, 2014 [3 favorites]


I hate hate hate buzzfeed posts.

The listicles I can usually take or leave, but buzzfeed's long form journalism is actually starting to be better than most features I read in the British mainstream media of late.

I don't think I've ever seen an upworthy post that I liked though.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 5:59 AM on November 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


Why BuzzFeed Doesn’t Do Clickbait
posted by octothorpe at 6:04 AM on November 9, 2014


Why BuzzFeed Doesn’t Do Clickbait

tl;dr: Because they're using an intentionally narrow definition of 'clickbait.'
posted by Sys Rq at 7:56 AM on November 9, 2014 [3 favorites]


Some people dislike single-link "thin" posts, some dislike multi-link "mega" posts. Other people like both kinds. In conclusion, MetaFilter is a land of contrasts.

This, this, a million times this. The day that the blue is nothing but SLYTs, or Buzzfeed lists, or giant mega posts, then we should have his conversation. Until then, variety is what makes this place grand.
posted by Itaxpica at 8:20 AM on November 9, 2014 [3 favorites]


posted by feelinglistless

tee hee hee
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:18 AM on November 9, 2014 [7 favorites]


The thing is, I can get that listicle stuff anywhere. I come here for something better. Yes, we gave in to SLYTs - and our profit on the deal is funny doggy posts and a general dumbing down. We're not as exceptional as we used to be and if that process goes on Mefi might end up a sad old relic trailing in the wake of shitty link-mongers.

Popularity and volume of discussion are no arguments; chatfilter is unsurpassable for both.
posted by Segundus at 10:33 AM on November 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


> a general dumbing down

Unlike the intellectual era of Flash Friday and cats being stuck in scanners.

Currently on the front page there are amusing, lighthearted posts, yes, but also posts on ISIS (I haven't read it yet, maybe it's lighthearted too), MLK, veterans, feminism, Benin, a profile of James Randi... There was no Golden Age of MeFi when we were smarter than we are now.
posted by The corpse in the library at 11:25 AM on November 9, 2014 [11 favorites]


We're not as exceptional as we used to be and if that process goes on Mefi might end up a sad old relic trailing in the wake of shitty link-mongers.

Don't hyperbolize or anything!

I actually just went back and reread an old thread from 2006 last night and I was amazed at how much more intelligent and nuanced our conversations are nowadays. I've been here since 2001 and I believe 100% that Mefi is a better place today. People really tend to overestimate and romanticize how "exceptional" old Mefi was, and I've never seen one whit of evidence for any "dumbing down" happening here. There have always been fun posts and there have always been serious posts.
posted by dialetheia at 11:27 AM on November 9, 2014 [12 favorites]


We're not as exceptional as we used to be

Back in the halcyon days of endless The Onion posts, vibrating brooms, buying accidentally discounted cameras from Amazon, camgirl invasions...

Metafilter's always had light, goofy, dumb stuff as part of the mix. We were never exceptional by virtue of some keenly honed aesthetic snobbery; this place was and is good because a great big mix of people come here and enjoy the various different things on the internet that they enjoy. Not everybody enjoys everything, different folks post about different kinds of things, and the front page is better for it.

I think there's something to be said in favor of going not-so-much with the listicle stuff, but the sort of unreflective Golden Days-ing you're doing there isn't it.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:43 AM on November 9, 2014 [14 favorites]


'Best of the Web', as I recall; I wouldn't say that was snobbery.

Yes, back in the heyday of the meme there was always dumb stuff - though you have to make allowance for it's being dumb in ways that were new, and hence interesting, back then. But dumb or keenly honed, the main point is I was less likely then to come across things here that I'd already seen or read; certainly less likely to come across stuff that was already second-hand. Them's my views, anyway: I have no right to complain about it since I'm not exactly flooding the place with great content myself.

Maybe there is nothing new any more: maybe the web itself is sliding into an enfeebled decadence, stumbling with liver-spotted, palsied limbs into catastrophic senescence (that's for you, dialetheia!).
posted by Segundus at 2:02 PM on November 9, 2014


But dumb or keenly honed, the main point is I was less likely then to come across things here that I'd already seen or read

Which seems mostly like a product of the massive rise of aggregation and social media distribution of web content, to me; it used to be a lot harder to get salt or cardamom, too, but the world changes and the availability and distributional dynamics aren't what they used to be because, literally, things are not what things were before they changed.

There's still stuff I see on Metafilter before I see it elsewhere, and stuff I see on Metafilter that I never see anywhere else; there's also plenty of stuff I see going around the whole web-o-sphere that ends up landing here as well because some mefite thought it was funny or neat or cute or odd or just plain interesting enough to share even if it's not some sort of scoop.

There are sites that excel at having stuff first, and they do it mostly with volume; complaints that e.g. something was on reddit a day or a week before it's on Metafilter crop up largely as a result of this, because when your model is to get as many people as possible posting as much stuff as possible, you end up with a whole lot of stuff posted, and the stuff that makes the rounds afterward was there first, and all the crap that doesn't make the rounds because it's crap doesn't come up in conversation because everybody's already forgotten about it.

Basically I have no problem with you having yer views and I don't think you're alone at all on Metafilter in looking back wistfully sometimes at that weirder, smaller, patchier web of yore when nobody knew where anything was or how to find it and there was a lot of low-hanging fruit-of-the-weird. But you may want to think about how and why you go about presenting that wistfulness as some kind of accusation or condemnation of the site and your fellow users if your goal is to talk about what you like and think is good rather than to just kind of exude knee-jerk grumpiness.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:26 PM on November 9, 2014 [17 favorites]


We must indeed try to take feedback cheerfully.
posted by Segundus at 11:18 PM on November 9, 2014


"Ga-Ga-Ga-Golden days...wat-wat-wat
posted by clavdivs at 8:42 AM on November 10, 2014 [2 favorites]


I just read that the story that "you know who else" had a single listicle FPP was just wartime propaganda....
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:26 AM on November 10, 2014 [1 favorite]


Ah yes, the halcyon days of Metafilter. Back then we were all funnier and smarter. Back then, all of the posts were great. Back then, we were all happy.

Alas, those great golden glory days of yore are over. I'm sorry to tell you that it's all sackcloth and ashes now.
posted by double block and bleed at 2:00 PM on November 10, 2014 [3 favorites]


Isn't this discussion of "seen it elsewhere" a moot point, because MetaFilter doesn't allow for original content (outside of MeFi Music, and AskMe, but that's different). Even projects aren't hosted here, they're from MeFites who share material they've created elsewhere.

Yes, there was a time before Twitter and tumblr, when there weren't so many content aggregators, so MetaFilter was really unique in that sense. But I still like the Filtering aspect of MetaFilter, as the posts come with their own spins, or with different/more context, and then there are the discussions. Even with relatively obscure posts, a MeFite might come forward with personal experiences to share, or at least share more information and context on the topic. And that is pretty swell.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:17 PM on November 10, 2014 [7 favorites]


Isn't this discussion of "seen it elsewhere" a moot point, because MetaFilter doesn't allow for original content

It's partly about why people should come here if there's little they haven't seen already - that applies to NYT/Guardian style articles as well as listicles, though.

But also I think a good post tries to get back as close to the origin of the content as possible, rather than picking up from secondary sources. Partly that is so the content can be seen in its proper original context; there's also a thing about the actual creators of content getting the credit and the clicks.

You can't always find the original source, but with listicles the content is overtly recycled and ripped from its context, sometimes for fairly cheap lulz. We're not playing the Glass Bead Game here, alas (that's for you, lovers of keenly honed aesthetic snobbery).

That's why it's a bad thing if our aspirations slip from being The Cracked.com it's OK to like to the equivalent of Popular stuff from Cracked.com.

YMMV, obv.
posted by Segundus at 12:56 AM on November 11, 2014


Give it a rest.
posted by Invisible Green Time-Lapse Peloton at 4:24 AM on November 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


It's partly about why people should come here if there's little they haven't seen already - that applies to NYT/Guardian style articles as well as listicles, though.

You're assuming that everyone looks everywhere, or internets the same way you do. Not everyone is on Facebook or Twitter or reddit, so these things that are "everywhere" are not actually on everyone's radar. As far as the NYT, or buzzfeed, or cracked, etc, why would I need to see anything there first if I can come here and find the best (or even the "best) of those places. I'm not on Facebook, and the only time I ever visit those other places is when it is linked here.

If you're not finding enough new-to-you content here you should try coming here first, because I have the opposite problem: there are many times I see stories in my RSS feed from places like longform.com, The Dissolve, and Colossal and I think, "Pfft! I already saw that on MetaFilter!"

Oh, and the reason those three examples are in my feed is because someone found interesting content from those less-visited sites and posted them here. Be the change, etc.

we gave in to SLYTs

Gave in?
posted by Room 641-A at 5:44 AM on November 11, 2014 [3 favorites]


Yeah, seriously. Could we get a moratorium on YouTube links?

But honestly, MetaFilter is not One Monolithic Thing. There is no House Style, or Site-Specific Content Guidelines. People share what they like, and if it's super shallow, it gets deleted for being too thin. But some people like cute little videos, and that's OK. Other prefer to discuss news topics that are well-represented on most news outlets, and I for one enjoy seeing people provide more context and different viewpoints, without having to sort through the vitriol found in the comments from actual news sites.

If you're feeling like too much gets through on MetaFilter, you can check in on the MetaFilter Deleted Posts blog and see what isn't up anymore, and why.
posted by filthy light thief at 6:13 AM on November 11, 2014


The "already seen it elsewhere" thing doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me, but I think I know why other people get a little bit tweaked about it.

Using question asking as an example, I've noticed that there are roughly two types of responses to those who try to glean information from the internet. There are people who see the internet primarily as a repository of accessible information, and if people could have found it by googling or going elsewhere, they'll let them know as some sort of moral virtue of internet conservation. Then there are people who ask questions, and those who answer them, in part because they want to connect to other people in community. Whether or not one could have found it easily elsewhere is beside the point, because knowledge acquisition is a community experience, and the community in question matters. You gain something through the asking and answering and general engagement that is much greater than the content itself.

I sometimes share links to things that are already on the web, even widely distributed, because I want to share the experience with people I care about on this corner of the web, and also enjoy the ensuing conversation that gives me a spin on things that I can only get here. In this sense, it doesn't really matter to me that it's already floating around there somewhere else, as it's almost irrelevant to how I think about community engagement of content.

So in conclusion, Metafilter is a land of contr... just kidding.
posted by SpacemanStix at 1:30 PM on November 11, 2014 [2 favorites]


« Older The ins and outs of posting movies to FanFare   |   How can we make trigger and/or content warnings... Newer »

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