What works and doesn't work when creating FPPs? April 12, 2015 1:23 PM   Subscribe

Since WomensMarch, I've been making more FPPs off and on when something interesting crosses my path. So far, I'm generally pleased with how they've gone, but I've noticed some interesting variation. It's been making me curious, and I thought I'd ask more experienced posters: what kinds of advice do you have for new posters on the Blue? What kinds of things have you noticed that change how people respond to a post? How much effort do you put in when framing things?
posted by sciatrix to Etiquette/Policy at 1:23 PM (82 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

From the Wiki.

And while crunchland has vanished (unless he's BNDed again), the "crunchland method" isn't on his profile anymore, but by searching around you can still find it. He was maybe not the greatest commenter, but he was a pretty great poster and it's worth reading.

Finally, something that I think is ignored too often (especially in the mega-dense linked posts and controversy/newsfilter): Please read or watch or examine everything you're going to post. You should be willing to cosign every link as quality.
posted by klangklangston at 1:39 PM on April 12, 2015 [4 favorites]


One of the really easy mistakes to avoid is derailing your own thread by above-the-fold framing. Choose carefully which words to highlight with links, and don't add distracting stuff above the fold. Assume people are skimming and may only see your highlighted text at first - will they get the right idea about what the focus of the post is? Sometimes people will start off a post by mentioning and highlighting something they don't want the post to be about, either as a jokey thing or a warm-up, e.g.:
"Tired of this annoying celebrity? Well then you'll love this nice thing instead!"
.... Given that framing and link-highlight placement, the discussion will be all about the celebrity and nothing about the second link. Much better to just say "here's the nice thing" with no attempt at warm-up jokes.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 1:53 PM on April 12, 2015 [22 favorites]


Yeah, that's one of those things I remember an editor telling me when I was just learning to do criticism: Don't lead with what something isn't. It's a subset of show, don't tell.
posted by klangklangston at 2:17 PM on April 12, 2015 [3 favorites]


Yeah, related - if you're using a pull quote as the title or post text, consider how it sounds. The catchiest phrasing may not fully reflect what you are linking.
posted by Chrysostom at 2:23 PM on April 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


How much effort do you put in when framing things?

I use to put a lot, now it's very little. Often the first comments in a post can be asinine and it's just not worth it to either put a lot of effort into crafting the perfect paragraph or worrying about it too much. Ultimately your'e just sharing something you think is cool, so just go ahead and do it and move on.

Don't overthink it, just do it.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:24 PM on April 12, 2015 [6 favorites]


I couldn't agree with Lobstermitten more: framing is so critical to setting the tone of a post. I once made the mistake of including a hypothetical an article included to illustrate its interesting research - nearly everyone eschewed the research and spent the whole time talking about the hypothetical, which was really orthogonal to the piece.

The other thing I would say, is like, don't get worked up about the number of comments or feel you need a shitload of links. Some of my favourite posts, both made and read, have only had one or two links, less than twenty comments and a handful of favourites. But I thought they were excellent, and I was glad to be able to share them with the site.
posted by smoke at 2:26 PM on April 12, 2015 [3 favorites]


Defining a good FPP is like defining porn: you know it when you see it.
posted by Abon Sapi at 2:28 PM on April 12, 2015


Use the number of links needed, no more. Zarq and JHarris and orange swan do these huge 5000 link megaposts, which are awesome. And if your post is "Everything Conceivable Thing About Topic X," that's great.

But if you are just posting, "Here Is An Interesting Thing I Found," one or two links may be plenty. You don't need to do a pseudo-fleshing out by grabbing a bunch of random "related" links you find on Google.
posted by Chrysostom at 2:36 PM on April 12, 2015 [5 favorites]


Yeah, related - if you're using a pull quote as the title or post text, consider how it sounds. The catchiest phrasing may not fully reflect what you are linking.

Seconding this, very strongly. I tend to use pull quotes frequently when making FPPs. The one time it went badly was when I used a pull quote from a fairly well-known person who was not the main subject of the post which was also phrased imperfectly. It derailed the post because at least half the comments were about the awkward wording of the quote (and how it could be read an entirely different way than he meant) as well as people opining with their opinion of the quotee rather than the subject of the post.
posted by The Gooch at 2:46 PM on April 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


I think it really depends on the subject matter. A post that's a SLYT of something incredible likely needs no more than a single sentence description. A giant omnibus post about a niche subject or person/event from history with multiple links requires, I think, some pretty catchy language with linkage used to highlight standout parts of the story you want to tell. And then there's everything in between.

But whatever the FPP, I think the main thing to have in mind is that The Thing itself is what you're sharing; not your take on it, whether overtly stated in editorializing or covertly through selective quoting. It should be The Thing which is front and center in your FPP, with language that both encourages the reader to click through and take part in discussing it. Not that this guarantees everyone will actually read the links before commenting on the subject, but it does help.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 2:48 PM on April 12, 2015 [4 favorites]


Many deleted FPPs share a common trait: the poster considers the subject to be an IMPORTANT THING THAT EVERY RIGHT-MINDED PERSON MUST BE MADE AWARE OF. Just go for things that you think are interesting or funny or cool.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 2:48 PM on April 12, 2015 [9 favorites]


Your posts have been very good from the get and I've been grateful to have them; improvement is always possible, but usually comes with time anyway. I see very little need on your part for guidance or constructive criticism and would be upset if trying to incorporate suggestions were to mar the casual offhand excellence of your natural style.

But I do worry you won't stay interested in posting once you've overcome the initial challenges and the novelty wears off.

If you want to address it and people don't think it's inappropriate for the thread, I'd like to hear what kinds of responses to your posts might keep you going or discourage you.
posted by jamjam at 3:00 PM on April 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


Also: MetaFilter Loves Cats.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 3:04 PM on April 12, 2015


A lot of it comes down to taste. Once people know what kinds of posts they like, it's best to imitate those posts. In a little while posters figure out their own style, what works for them and what doesn't.

Making posts isn't hard. It's a simple process.

The one non-obvious thing I've noticed is that the link which gets the second most attention, after the first link, is generally the last link. If there are two main links posters want to emphasize, put those links first and last.

Another thing I'd suggest, and this may be personal taste, is that it's good to boil the post down to a single paragraph, with no [more inside]. That, plus a title, is usually enough to make readers interested, but not enough to make them feel that they know exactly what the post is about.
posted by Kattullus at 3:05 PM on April 12, 2015 [7 favorites]


I don't post to the blue very much.

What I do is come across a link I think is interesting sometimes, that people might be interested in and not have seen on every other link aggregation site out there, and then I post that link to Metafilter. That is the sum total of the degree to which I 'craft' posts. I think people who build big multilink posts and agonize over them are doing the community a service in their efforts, but me, I've always been here more for the single links to cool shit, so that's how I contribute as well, when I do, mostly.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:16 PM on April 12, 2015 [7 favorites]


Also: MetaFilter Loves Cats.

Even ones not in scanners.
posted by radwolf76 at 3:27 PM on April 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


If you want to address it and people don't think it's inappropriate for the thread, I'd like to hear what kinds of responses to your posts might keep you going or discourage you.

Oh, sorry, didn't think how this MeTa might come across! I'm actually having a lot of fun with my FPPs, and I wasn't being coy when I said I was happy with the responses I'd gotten--I really am pleased with how they've turned out! I'm experimenting a lot, sure, but not necessarily in a particularly fraught way. Either way, I will probably keep posting interesting stuff that crosses my dashboard, and I'm not really short of ideas.

I just found the conversations about writing FPPs that came up during WomensMarch and JulyByWomen to be really interesting and thought I'd ask the userbase for insights. Insofar as I have any ulterior motive, here, I thought that this might be an interesting discussion for people who find posting scary or intimidating to read. But please, do not feel that this is like, some sort of cry for more attention or I'll quit--didn't mean to imply anything of the sort!
posted by sciatrix at 4:14 PM on April 12, 2015


I think a good FPP is a little bit like good poetry in that, if you choose your title and pull quotes well, a few words can go a long way and carry a lot of weight and then the "extra" is in the content of the links which, yeah, it is best to try to read the stuff you post and make sure it is good quality. I sometimes go looking for other articles on things to try to come up with some "best of" pieces on a topic after finding something that piqued my interest. I don't always get it right, but I am generally satisfied with most of my posts. Most of my deletions seem to be because they were duplicates and I am okay with that because I can't keep up with absolutely everything that hits the blue. Just can't.

I try hard to not inject a lot of bias into the subject, even subconsciously. So I try to post "Here is this article. Here are what both sides are saying." type perspectives rather than stuff that suggests that, obviously, THIS is the CORRECT side to be on, damnit!!!! That seems to foster better discussion and less controversy.

So that's my 2 cents worth, as someone who has been doing FPPs less than a year myself.
posted by Michele in California at 4:42 PM on April 12, 2015 [3 favorites]


My latest post, about Neil C's Outslide, got minimal framing, but what framing I gave it included extra links about Neil and the source material SlideShare (which led to "33 previous" in edit mode... a record for me). The method to my madness: keep a razor-sharp focus on the topic, then intentionally soften the focus. Don't wear out your welcome: I found I got more favorites when I posted less often. And beware: my least popular posts were ones I decided to post because I got the funniest idea for a title. My most favorited posts: Poorcraft, The Seeburg 1000, Troy McClure, Reggie Watts' TED Talk (or why James Corden NEEDS to let him talk more), Boulet's 24-Hour Comic, and, from my wendell days Uncomfortable Plot Summaries. My most commented-on posts were Plot Summaries and my Ronald Reagan Obit (from the VERY early days of Obitfilter - I've done other Obits, but the only other one to get many faves was one of the least known.) If that helps you learn how to be a better poster, please tell me, I haven't figured it out yet.
posted by oneswellfoop at 4:50 PM on April 12, 2015


There are some FPPs, like the one MartinWisse posted earlier today about Afrofuturism, that are amazing for the quality (and in this case the organization) of the links and material presented, but will never get many comments. Others, like the one about Hillary Clinton announcing her candidacy will get tons of responses regardless of the quality of the links. (In this case it is a well-done FPP with lots of links, but people are responding to the news, not to the links themselves.)

The type of FPP that I have been trying to respond to less (and to not post at all) are what get labeled "outrage-filter" -- it is possible to talk about bad things in more interesting ways, and there are consequences to emotionally bruising conversations.
posted by Dip Flash at 4:54 PM on April 12, 2015 [3 favorites]


I haven't figured it out yet either, it's a bit like writing - there can be a bunch of rules but really it has to come from the gut. I just think: do _I_ think this is interesting? That's basically my acid test.

I disagree with the idea (mentioned upthread) to just surf and then you'll find something worthy to link, as I work at it from the opposite end: I'm always on the lookout for fpps, there's lots of possible fpps I've drafted and then discarded because they weren't as good/interesting/funny as I initially thought. I guess that's my best bit of advice: when you're hot to post something, wait a day or two, sleep on it, and then look at it again. That'll tell you if you need to add more substance (links to great articles), re-frame and refocus the fpp, or simply scrap altogether.

Many times I've posted to please myself and been surprised and delighted by the warm reception and discussion that follows (M*A*S*H, Eichler domestic architecture, Costco).

One post I had sitting in my drafts folder for ever so long, because I just didn't think it was good enough for a post. One day I was cleaning out my drafts and decided I had to delete or "pull the trigger" on it; I did the latter and to date it's been my most favorited post! (To my utter, sheer, undying delight. Link if you're interested.)

I guess that segways into another unspoken thing about posting fpps: what motivates you? Is it the conversation in the thread? Do you want to read it, or be a participant in it? Or are you driven by favorites? Or something else entirely, e.g., just curiosity about things you want to research and write about and share?

Once you understand your motivations more you can harness that drive to make some really great fpps.

I totally agree with oneswellfoop that if you space out your posts a bit, it can be a more effective strategy as your posting then becomes an "event" (see: flex - like a barracuda, you never know when she's going to strike!). (I'm trying to cut down on my posting a lot more post-WomensMarch, where I was trying to do an fpp every day.)

I find I really like Kattallus' advice, above, with the caveat that posts actually can be hard, depending on your anxiety levels. ;)

You're doing a fine and dandy job - I've noticed your experimentation with different formats, it's been fun to watch you go through various incarnations. But go back to your gut - consult your gut over all other advice.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 5:10 PM on April 12, 2015 [6 favorites]


I like doing mega-posts about a person's body of work, as it turns out, so I try to include a lot of source material so that readers can follow up on specific pieces that catch their interest. If possible, I try to include a variety of sources, such as lectures on YT, longform Q&As, interviews (recording plus transcripts, if I can), essays by and about the subject, performances, etc. Three of mine that I still like: So an atheist baboon expert walks up to a mic...; An Illustrated Life: David Macaulay; and Steve Earle: Roots, Boots, Hank, Walon, and Being a Hardcore Troubadour. Discussion went well in each of those posts, and I was really happy to hear MeFites being excited about these men and their work.

My best advice, though, is to hit "Post" and walk away for an hour. I put a lot of work into the Steve Earle post and damn near died when someone posted that they were "excited to click on all the links" because I thought he was making fun of the, um, huge number of links. I started breathing again when the commenter clarified his meaning. But if I had just walked away, I would have spared myself the minutes of "Oh, shit, too much, too much!"
posted by MonkeyToes at 5:10 PM on April 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


Seconding MonkeyToes: so, so disheartening when you put your heart and soul into a mega-post and someone posts a rather stupid comment straight out the gate. Some people (the man of twists and turns) babysit the thread, to flag if those comments appear, however, I like to walk away and trust the community to flag if someone pisses in the punchbowl.

(Damn I didn't mean to write such a long-winded comment above, hope that didn't send you to 😴 Don't get me started on posting fpps... love to bend your ear about it!)
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 5:16 PM on April 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


I should clarify: That was totally my inability to differentiate excitement from sarcasm, and not the commenter's fault at all. Tells you something about my vulnerable post-posting state.

In someone else's post, when the first comments are quick to crap on the subject or framing? I try to engage with the material, and hope it gives other readers something to discuss.
posted by MonkeyToes at 5:30 PM on April 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


(yeah, sorry MonkeyToes - I didn't mean to misconstrue your story!)
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 5:36 PM on April 12, 2015


Use the number of links needed, no more.

Yes, this. My pet peeve is Wikipedia links as padding: I can Google those up myself if I want them.

The most important thing I've learned is: know what your strongest link is, and lead with it. The first link is the one that most people will read; readership drops off steeply after that. So don't bury your best link in the body. (Sometimes this can be re-railed by commenters calling out a buried link as exceptional; but still, you've already lost the drive-by readers who clicked the first link and meh-ed out.)

I see posts as falling into 4 basic types:
  • Single link: easiest to construct, punchy, probably best without a More Inside. The post form enforces a single paragraph for the above-the-line content. It's possible to circumvent that by using a description + a blockquote; probably also by explicit use of <br>. But probably best not to as it clutters the front page.
  • Primary link with secondary supporting links in the More Inside: tempting, often there's useful supporting information that could be added; the call is (a) does it add value, and (b) is it really subordinate to the primary link?
  • Multilink: I find posts with multiple strong links the hardest to construct. The ones I've been happiest with are the ones in which I found a narrative to lead through the post; least happy with the ones that became just an amorphous grab-bag.
  • Megapost: No idea. I lack the patience to construct these; to large extent I also lack the patience to read them. I applaud the effort, but I always find them daunting as a reader.
I like using pullquotes as attention-grabbers and as a taster of the content. But the choice of which quote can itself become editorializing -- a number of FPPs have foundered on that rock.

Also on pullquotes: make it clear that you're quoting. Use blockquote, or use quotation marks, or use italics to set it off; just do something because it's confusing to read an FPP and not be sure if you're reading the poster's words or someone else's. Especially so if you're quoting something polarizing.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 6:09 PM on April 12, 2015 [9 favorites]


Also on pullquotes: make it clear that you're quoting. Use blockquote, or use quotation marks, or use italics to set it off; just do something because it's confusing to read an FPP and not be sure if you're reading the poster's words or someone else's.

YES. I see this lack too, and have noticed it a lot lately.
posted by MonkeyToes at 6:26 PM on April 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


I have found that less is better. Most of my FPP's are one single link, and usually my post is a quote from the thing I link to, usually just a couple of lines. My own voice isn't present; I don't express an opinion or making any attempt to cue other people into how I think they should react.

This has led to me having posts deleted because the mods misinterpreted my reason for posting. That's life.

The most important thing it this: don't feel driven to post. No one is keeping score. I post when I run into something I think is worthy, and the rest of the time I don't sweat it.

Agenda posts are nearly always a bad thing. "Here's something important you should be paying attention to" is a terrible post. "Here is something you should get mad about" is even worse. "Here's something you might find amusing" is the way to go.

One-note posters are also not a good thing. If you find yourself making a lot of posts about the same subject, it's time to step away.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 6:37 PM on April 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


Mediareport always has good posts and pull quotes are used wisely.

2nd Crunchland.
posted by clavdivs at 6:55 PM on April 12, 2015


Some more principles: Don't try to sell the link. You're not an advertising executive.

Don't be cryptic. When a person clicks your link they should already have a pretty good idea what they'll get, so they can NOT click if they aren't actually interested.. Avoid "mystery meat" posts. Rickrolling is in poor taste. (Leave it on 4-chan, where it can die in peace.)

The goal is NOT to get as many people as possible to click your link. The goal is that everyone who does click it, however many or few, is glad they didn/
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 7:08 PM on April 12, 2015 [3 favorites]


And never do THIS. (Even if mathowie gives you an 'atta boy'... in 15 years, all the links will be dead and it'll make ZERO sense, either as information OR joke)
posted by oneswellfoop at 7:20 PM on April 12, 2015


Er..."The goal is that everyone who does click it, however many or few, is glad they did."
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 7:22 PM on April 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


Chrysostom: "Yeah, related - if you're using a pull quote as the title or post text, consider how it sounds. The catchiest phrasing may not fully reflect what you are linking."

oh man, this. People will flip their fucking shit faster than Khepri in a cowpatch if they think your inflammatory pullquote is even possibly just a little bit maybe your own words. Go full blockquote with a lead-in and citation if you do a quotation.
posted by boo_radley at 7:57 PM on April 12, 2015


It takes some extra effort, but recently I've been trying to make multi-link posts more navigable by using title text to attach a short pop-up description to each link (the FCC net neutrality post, for example). You can often imply the content of a link by judicious selection of which words to link, but I think explicitly summarizing the content and purpose of the link with hovertext like this can make larger posts easier to digest.

You can create these links like so:

<a href="http://www.example.com" title="hover description goes here">anchor text goes here</a>

Which creates a link like this:

anchor text goes here
posted by Rhaomi at 8:12 PM on April 12, 2015 [9 favorites]


I once made the mistake of including a hypothetical an article included to illustrate its interesting research - nearly everyone eschewed the research and spent the whole time talking about the hypothetical, which was really orthogonal to the piece.

Imagine how much easier posting would be if people would read the links before commenting.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:13 PM on April 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


> Don't overthink it, just do it.

This. The corollary - for me, anyway - is that if I do find myself overthinking it and endlessly tweaking it and going to find more links and and and.... that's probably a good sign that I should not make this post.
posted by rtha at 8:33 PM on April 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


"Some say the best way to post an article on an interesting subject is to pull a quote from the article, fill in the supporting links in on key words in that quote, then cite the source at the end with a link to the main article." --The Metafilter Gazette on posting FPPs
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:34 PM on April 12, 2015 [2 favorites]



Imagine how much easier posting would be if people would read the links before commenting.


Imagine how much harder commenting would be though! And commenters are the job creators that keep this economy humming.

Vote #1 Quidnunc Kid for a permanent ban on having to read the FPPs.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:36 PM on April 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


Less is more. On the posts with multiple links I'm always like "Which link is the important one?" Especially when everyone starts talking about only one specific link.
posted by pravit at 6:44 AM on April 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


How much effort do you put in when framing things?

I've seen things you people wouldn't believe framing fuck up so many good posts (my own included) that I've gone absolutely minimalist with it.

As little as possible, by which I mean I usually either use a carefully-chosen blockquote'd pull quote and a link, a single sentence, or a (clearly quoted) pull quote with individual words linked to relevant other links (which I know is Frowned Upon but we all have our vices.) However, I v. v. rarely make a most with more than a half-dozen links. I also make it a rule to never Defend My Post even if there's a derail or something; it's really just not worth it and IMO it that sort of behavior ends up turning into threadsitting and traffic directing more often than not.

Basically my philosophy toward FPPs is drop the bolwing ball in the pool and walk away as fast as you can. I put as little fore- and after-thought into what I post an MeFi as possible and honestly it's been working out pretty well.
posted by griphus at 7:14 AM on April 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


(Also I just want to say I think your FPPs are very well crafted and IMO you absolutely have the hang of it.)
posted by griphus at 7:19 AM on April 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


This Is Just To Say

I have read
the FPPs
you have been
posting to the Blue

and which
I think are
very
well crafted

Forgive me
in my opinion
you absolutely
have the hang of it
posted by Chrysostom at 7:38 AM on April 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


I thought of something else: don't try to be like everyone else. I mean, it's important to learn through imitation, but after that phase, do your own thing. I want to read an fpp that has someone's stamp on it. I know we're supposed to be robots and leave ourselves out of it, and heaven knows I'm not advocating editorializing, but you can tell when someone lets themselves shine through. I know a post by Lexica I know a post by flex I know a post by filthy light thief I know a post by The Whelk - let yourself shine through if you can, between the pixels. It makes MetaFilter a more interesting place.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 7:44 AM on April 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


Personally, I hate megaposts. Flag them every time. Someone has one up that is 15 screens of text, with hundreds of links. Get your own blog indeed.
posted by smackfu at 7:52 AM on April 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


(And yes I know it is some people's schtick, but please don't take inspiration from them.)
posted by smackfu at 7:55 AM on April 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


I think it's okay for Metafilter to contain multitudes.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:57 AM on April 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


I don't mean to be...whatever, but do people really think all that much about framing and which links to put where or making the post like poetry , etc. etc.? I mean, again, not to be whatever, but I'm posting on a community blog, not submitting a work for Pulitzer Prize consideration; the only thing I really feel like I need to think about is whether I'm posting on an interesting topic. I post something I think is worthy of discussion, and if people are interested, that's great, and if they're not, that's fine -- they'll scroll by. Is there really anything more than that to think about? I mean, obviously I'm not going to waste people's time by posting links to Garfield cartoons or something like that, but that should go without saying.

I've posted five FPPs, one of which was removed because it had apparently been discussed before (although I did check to make sure it hadn't, but whatever, I guess I didn't go back far enough), and I think most of those were just single links. It didn't even occur to me to go crazy thinking about framing or what have you.

I hope this doesn't come across as aggressive or anything; it's not meant to be. But to me, this whole discussion makes the process sound unnecessarily complicated, and just makes people (or maybe just me) really anxious about posting anything else because maybe I'm not using the right technique.
posted by holborne at 8:00 AM on April 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


I post something I think is worthy of discussion, and if people are interested, that's great, and if they're not, that's fine -- they'll scroll by. Is there really anything more than that to think about?

Yes, there is a third option, where they completely misinterpret your link and say it's crappy and it hurts your feelings. That's where framing comes in.
posted by smackfu at 8:03 AM on April 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


I used to love mega posts but now I wish they'd sift through all that cruft and just give me one, two, or three of their best finds. YMMV and no disrespect to the MegaPosters around here.

I think the phrase is, "You do you." (Although that is somewhat stupid, like "It is what it is." There's a stupid way of saying something, and a smart way; the smart way is this.)
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 8:03 AM on April 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


(holborne - if you're posting feminist stuff, there is *definitely* framing issues you have to consider, I've gotten my posts deleted because the mods anticipate a grary discussion, so I have to try and find a positive, upbeat way to present the post, which isn't always easy because a lot of feminist thought/events *are* "grary". I find it frustrating, shirtstorm comes to mind: significant event, worthy of discussion, had a damnable time getting it on the blue.)
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 8:07 AM on April 13, 2015


I post something I think is worthy of discussion, and if people are interested, that's great, and if they're not, that's fine -- they'll scroll by.

They (we?) often don't just pass it by, unfortunately. People will often glom onto some dumb part of the framing even if they have no interest in the subject matter because something about it bugged them. Then the entire discussion becomes about that dumb part instead of the thing you posted about, which is often worse than no discussion at all.

I mean, clearly the poster of the FPP can try to be the bigger person or whatever and just walk away from shit parade your thread inadvertently created and hope that the conversation either re-rails itself or the mods nudge it back on track but even if you try not to have a sense of ownership over your FPPs, it's not always easy to just let go.
posted by griphus at 8:10 AM on April 13, 2015 [6 favorites]


I guess that segways into another unspoken thing about posting fpps: what motivates you...Do you want to read it, or be a participant in it?

This is one area where I do think there is a right and wrong way to make an FPP. If you are motivated by "I have many opinions on this subject I would like to share", I think that generally makes for a much worse post than, "This is an interesting topic, I bet people on Metafilter would enjoy seeing and discussing this".

Too often the former leads to the kind of, "I AM SO MAD ABOUT THIS TOPIC...AND YOU SHOULD BE TOO!!!" type of posts rather than the Metafilter ideal of simply sharing cool things found on the web. If you are not commenting at all on FPPs you've started or just leaving a comment or two chances are you're doing thing right. If you are the most prolific commenter on your FPP, not so much.
posted by The Gooch at 8:33 AM on April 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


There's also an opposite thing where you find something scandalous and post it in an ironic "Check out this train wreck with these XXXX people" way and make a pun or two in the title and then half the conversation is "WTF this is not a joke my XXXX is a XXXXX or I am a XXXX, plus all of these fallacies" and you're like "Uhhhh wow I am dumbass." Don't be that guy (me) either.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:54 AM on April 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


An issue I've run into with FPPs is realizing that links accessible to me, probably because I run NoScript and AdBlock, are actually walled off to a wider audience. I haven't figured out the current situation with NYT links, and I've been thinking about including notes on how to access a walled link after the fold (e.g. run a WSJ article title through Google) or in a comment. I also plan to avoid walled links in the future, or at least not make them the central or only link in a post.

One thing I like to do with FPPs is find a relevant "previously" link, although sometimes this is through research notes that include sources, in addition to searching the site. I also hang out after my post goes up so I can favorite funny and interesting comments and/or experience the agony of realizing that some people can't actually access the links, and try to fix it in the comments.
posted by Little Dawn at 9:07 AM on April 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


Be Wary Of In Jokes. In two ways:

1. Make sure that the thing you're into is actually cool, as opposed to something that is "only cool if you are already familiar with a very narrow set of references". It's kind of the equivalent of someone telling you a family story about how hysterically funny it was that "Aunt Bickle told Uncle Lee that he could go BUST A KNIFE!" but you have no idea about any of the weird inter-family backstory that lead up to that comment, and so then they try to explain it and they have to give more and more backstory so you know who everyone in the family is and what their dynamics are, and ultimately it just isn't really worth the effort.

2. Make sure that you don't inadvertently set off riffing on one of MeFi's OWN set of in-jokes. I once had a thread about something happening at the Tate Modern museum get totally derailed by a bunch of people making "taters" jokes right out of the gate.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:00 AM on April 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


The one major thing I have learned is to assess whether or not the title of the linked piece jives with the content. If it's clickbaity or jokey or clever misdirection, that can get lost in translation, and people show up to argue against the premise based on the title rather than the nuanced subject. I do the blockquoted pull-quote followed by article title most of the time, but have taken to leaving the title out if it's not straightforward.
posted by almostmanda at 10:17 AM on April 13, 2015


but do people really think all that much about framing and which links to put where or making the post like poetry ,

I do mentally compare it to poetry, as I noted above, in terms of trying to convey a lot with a few words. I do this for about three reasons:

1) First, I tend to be verbose. So focusing on saying a lot in a few words is something that counters my own personal tendencies that have a downside, even though it isn't all bad. So if I post something long, I want to make sure it really is backed up with links and substance and not me just in the mode I am often in of "I would have written a shorter letter if I had had more time." If I am in that mode, I try to make a draft, go off and do other things and come back to it. Sometimes it simmers on the back burner and then it gets boiled down mentally and it's a lot easier to be brief without being shallow.

2) Another place I spend time handles FPPs very different from metafilter. Over there, you have 80 whole characters in which to convey why people should click this link and there are substantial restrictions on what you can do in that 80 character limit. My experiences with working in that much tighter set of limitations definitely influence how I frame FPPs on MetaFilter and helped shape my "poetry" metaphor of keeping my eye on using a few words to convey substantive information.

3) As noted above, some subjects are controversial or hot button and require you to put some thought into how it will go. I don't think it is disastrous to occasionally flub it, but I think it is problematic if you get a certain reputation for posting FPP's that are ranty or poorly framed or otherwise just bad in some way. I think if you get such a reputation, the mods are more likely to delete your FPPs and not give you the benefit of the doubt and I think other people are more likely to threadshit without bothering to read it.

I guess a fourth reason I do it is because I sort of suspect that writing a long or poorly framed FPP gives people a lot more room to respond to the FPP itself -- to the things written here on metafilter -- without bothering to read the links. I think trying to keep it somewhat brief (without giving short shrift to the subject) and framing it carefully can help encourage people to read the actual article or at least ask real questions and not just do some kind of drive-by threadshitting.
posted by Michele in California at 11:23 AM on April 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


Others, like the one about Hillary Clinton announcing her candidacy will get tons of responses regardless of the quality of the links. (In this case it is a well-done FPP with lots of links, but people are responding to the news, not to the links themselves.)

Thanks. Did spend a fair bit of time on that one while awaiting the announcement. Stripped out anything that may derail in an unpleasant way, and any personal bias (if I'd written anywhere near what I personally think of Ted Cruz, the mods would have nuked my post in seconds). Hopefully this would reduce the chances of flaming arguments in the comments, but looking at how it's gone looks like I failed badly on that attempt.

In terms of recommendations for framing and posting; if it's even a tiny bit controversial, just go for a straight title to avoid enraging anyone before they even hit the post. Also, draft but then turn the computer off, have a cup of tea or go for a walk, do something non-tech that gets the post out of your head, then read it again. Also - this one Cortex advised when I was angsting about posts on MetaTalk a while back - once it's live go for a walk for an hour or so, instead of repeatedly hitting refresh in nervous anticipation of the first comment. Once it's posted, it's posted. It will be what it will be, then.

As I've got a personal rule that for any post that's a bit newsy I have to do several that are just plain "cool on the web", won't be trying anything like that again for a while. At least not until Eurovision.
posted by Wordshore at 11:45 AM on April 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


My best advice, though, is to hit "Post" and walk away for an hour.

This.

Also, that means you won't get annoyed at the inevitable speling mistake somebody else finds 2 minutes after you hit post.
posted by MartinWisse at 1:10 PM on April 13, 2015 [4 favorites]


Also on pullquotes: make it clear that you're quoting.

Also this. Personally I like the blockquote + one line link format, as long as you don't make the blockquote too big on the front page. For those who think it clutters up too much, use italics and quotes, but for bigger chunks of text in the post itself, please use blockquotes as these are easier to read.

And if you do huge link lists, pay some attention to structure, to make them readable. For Afrofuturism post it was easy enough, just copying the layout from the original source, then stripping some of it out to make the formatting clearer.

Also, please only put substantial material in the [more inside] part of your post, because it always disappoints to see that the only added thing is a credit link or whatever. If it can fit in easily with the front page portion of a post, keep it there.
posted by MartinWisse at 1:18 PM on April 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


Personally, I hate megaposts. Flag them every time.

Waste of a flag.
posted by zarq at 1:55 PM on April 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


Wordshore: "Hopefully this would reduce the chances of flaming arguments in the comments, but looking at how it's gone looks like I failed badly on that attempt."

That post had very little hope of not turning nasty, regardless of framing.
posted by Chrysostom at 1:58 PM on April 13, 2015


Use the number of links needed, no more. Zarq and JHarris and orange swan do these huge 5000 link megaposts,

I haven't done one for almost a year now, actually.
posted by zarq at 2:02 PM on April 13, 2015


(zarq alt-tabs to 10,000-link megapost about Alien Nation and mouths "soon...")
posted by griphus at 2:29 PM on April 13, 2015 [5 favorites]


I now bend over backwards to lead with the link I think is most interesting / relevant / important - In my (limited) experience, most people click the first link first, and that's what they talk about. It might make the post less dramatic to frame it with the money shot first and the background info later, but people have limited time and if the first link is boring or self-evident or has anything de-railly in it, many won't bother clicking the rest - and it's often what people are going to comment on, even without having read the rest.

Also if your post title or the first line of your post is a question, even if it's just a quote from the link? People are going to comment with their answer to the question. Which - if you're using that question as an intriguing hook, rather than the meat - is almost always a derail.
posted by Mchelly at 2:30 PM on April 13, 2015 [3 favorites]


(zarq alt-tabs to 10,000-link megapost about Alien Nation and mouths "soon...")

LOL. I do have some half-formed long posts set up in Google Drive, but it's going to be a long time before I have the time or inclination to work on them.

I'm glad I didn't wind up spending days on my Bob Ross post since the Internet Archive took down the content the FPP was based on within hours after I posted. I had briefly considered creating a category index to the show similar to the one in my Iron Chef FPP.
posted by zarq at 2:44 PM on April 13, 2015


^ Brandon nails it.
My posts tend to fall into two categories; Current Affairs and Slightly Obscure art and its creators.
The former usually generates a fairly interesting discussion, the latter often gets under ten comments but many more seem to appreciate it in one way or another. I get pleasure from both types of posts and I hope metafilter does as well.
posted by adamvasco at 3:03 PM on April 13, 2015


zarq: I'm glad I didn't wind up spending days on my Bob Ross post since the Internet Archive took down the content the FPP was based on within hours after I posted.

I've had it happen a couple of times that a link to a trove of material goes stone dead relatively quickly after being posted. However, the posts keep picking up favorites afterwards, days and even months later. It's weird. I think that sometimes people like the idea of a post enough to favorite it, perhaps hoping it'll return from the dead. What I'm saying, people use favorites in odd ways.
posted by Kattullus at 3:15 PM on April 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


However, the posts keep picking up favorites afterwards, days and even months later.

Ugh. I just checked. It has over 100 favorites now. I wasn't aware it had accumulated so many. I should have paid closer attention -- would have asked the mods to just delete it rather than disappoint so many people. :(
posted by zarq at 3:59 PM on April 13, 2015


How much effort do you put in when framing things?

A lot. Part of that is simply my personality, but yes, I do feel framing is key to a good response so it's worth the work for me. I revise & edit & reword & edit again on almost every post I make, whether it's single-link or not (I do the same with comments). If I make a post on something that could be controversial, I want the discussion to go well so it's important to me to present it with care to facilitate that. I also have a constant awareness that every comment & post I make here is on a permanent, searchable record linked to my handle (this is my personality, again).

I definitely nerd out about certain things and MeFi in general is a thing I nerd out about - it just is! I certainly don't expect most people go that deep, but I enjoy nerding out about MeFi with other people who do (one of many reasons that I like meetups! my people understand me!). As well I do think there's a craft to posting & it's just an interesting thing for me to consider and explore. Different posters definitely have recognizable styles & reasoning for their methods, and discussing those nuances is fun for me.

Anyway, framing. Well, I try to frame posts as flat as possible - here is something I said recently elsewhere about linking stuff that has a high likelihood of sparking kneejerk-outrage: I tend to pullquote a lot or even use a less-baity quote as the link rather than the headline (if the headline is baity) so that people will get a solid summary if they don't read the links - I've accepted that many people will react-comment without reading the links so I basically try to do an overview that is as not-editorial or outragey as possible as the post itself and it seems to help keep reactions more even-keeled. Sometimes that looks like presenting a bunch of links as dry as possible and sometimes that looks like selective pullquotes that summarize without much slant.

My particular style has a lot of reasoning to how I make posts flow that I'm not going to dig into now or I'll be here all day. But it's definitely considered and thought-out on most posts I make, right down to spatial layout. Anyone is free to hit me up on MeMail or MeFiChat for further detail-wonkery. =)

What kinds of things have you noticed that change how people respond to a post?

Framing. Time of day. Days of the week. The other posts that day. How many other posts go up in the timeframe around when your post goes up. What the topic of your post is in relation to any of the previous factors. How recently the topic has come up on MeFi before. The first ten or so comments on the post. How many favorites the post gets. How many favorites any of the first comments get & the content of those comments. The order of links in the post. What you choose to pullquote. Your link sources. How your post visually looks on the front page relative to the posts surrounding it. What is visually the most prominent part of the post... I can keep going.

what kinds of advice do you have for new posters on the Blue?

Post what interests you. Post what you think MeFites will be interested in. Single-link posts are great. Don't editorialize. Don't threadsit. Err on the side of being clear where each link leads (explain, describe, pullquote). Each link you include in a multi-link should bring something different or new to the post (relative to the other links); think of a post as curating a subject - make the main link stand on its own, but the other links provide a great overview for the reader to explore. Exploring a topic is often more interesting if you show more than one perspective (as long as various perspectives are well-written and thoughtful, not merely "there are two sides and here's the other side").
posted by flex at 4:12 PM on April 13, 2015 [8 favorites]


Personally, I hate megaposts. Flag them every time.

I don't flag them but I feel like they miss the point of Metafilter. A post is supposed to be a link to something cool on the web, not 200 cool things on the web.
posted by octothorpe at 6:27 AM on April 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


My first and only attempt at a blue post prompted some interesting discussions with a lot of speculation about my motivations and name calling for something I thought was just interesting to post about. One commenter declared the post "bad", but didn't offer any useful feedback as to what makes a fpp qualitatively good or bad, outside of a potential difference in opinion. I've definitely held back on posts since then.
posted by Karaage at 7:35 AM on April 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


Karaage I thought that was a really great post and it sparked a lot of discussion. The more discussion a post gets, the more likelihood of bad eggs, but I'd hate for you to let that get to you -- if it was a genuinely bad post, it would have been deleted or ignored. Neither happened -- You done good!
posted by Mchelly at 8:31 AM on April 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


My first and only attempt at a blue post prompted some interesting discussions with a lot of speculation about my motivations and name calling for something I thought was just interesting to post about. One commenter declared the post "bad", but didn't offer any useful feedback as to what makes a fpp qualitatively good or bad, outside of a potential difference in opinion. I've definitely held back on posts since then.

I've been following that post, even though I didn't comment in it. It seemed to me that you had one commenter who was for lack of a better term, grumpy. That's not to say they didn't have reasonable points to make later on, but the initial reason given for criticizing your post was... well... grumpy. It's nice to see that their statements were challenged by other commenters and the rest of the conversation seemed pretty civil and productive.

I also thought you did a fine job with the post, and handled yourself admirably in the thread. Congrats on your first. May any you do in the future go even more smoothly. :)
posted by zarq at 9:38 AM on April 14, 2015 [3 favorites]


Karaage, FWIW, my first FPP was deleted (and rightly so) and it was a long time before I did another. I didn't really get up and running until July By Women last year.

If you need a little time to orient yourself to the site, that's fine, but please don't feel permanently scarred and scared to post. It helped me to participate essentially exclusively on AskMe for a while. It is more heavily moderated and there are basically rules against people talking to each other directly. The point is to answer the question someone posted, so it places limits on people saying to you in specific "Grar, you are stupid and doing it wrong and I don't like you!" That can help you get familiar with the site, the culture and some of the folks here with less risk and that can help you develop a positive relationship to the place with less baggage and less likelihood of getting into a rut of arguing with the same folks over and over. I mean, if you want. Totally optional, of course.

Best of luck on your next FPP!
posted by Michele in California at 10:12 AM on April 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


Karaage, I actually thought your post was a perfect example of why I come to Metafilter. You included a variety of post links that fleshed out the post but supported the main link. The post links themselves and the ensuing discussion caused me, and I think others, to rethink and carefully consider some ideas and opinions. I also got to learn some things, including some stuff from different viewpoints. And though neither my husband or I commented in the thread, your post and some of the comments was discussed at our dinner table; furthermore some of the ideas were brought up in a discussion I had with some other people later on when talking about events in my city, including with a city council candidate campaigning door to door. IMHO that's a pretty great post!

Please don't let one member or two stop you - I look forward to more interesting FPPs from you in the future.
posted by barchan at 10:21 AM on April 14, 2015 [8 favorites]


Thanks guys! Rereading my post in it comes off a little sullen, I didn't mean to do that. I wasn't permanently scarred by a few negative comments, but the "this post is awful" did lead to me wonder if there was some sort of objective community standard as to what made a good or bad post, hence why I hadn't posted since, because I was trying to figure out if there was some sort of mystique or tone of fpp that I was missing and needed to get down. It sounds like it's largely up to the users' opinion and but I did okay overall.

One feature I'd like to see is some sort of "draft post save" feature, even better if there's a way to share that privately with other mefites who had offered to review.
posted by Karaage at 3:49 AM on April 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


n-thing that I liked Karaage's post about Washington real-estate.
posted by octothorpe at 4:36 AM on April 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


but the "this post is awful" did lead to me wonder if there was some sort of objective community standard as to what made a good or bad post

It's one of those things where there are definitely examples of objectively bad posts that folks could try and round up and point to, but they'd be pointing to posts that generally got deleted quickly or if they lived for some weird twist of a reason did so while leaving behind a giant fractious legacy of terribleness in their wake and probably a giant metatalk argument and so on.

Basically, if a post really is terrible there's gonna be more than one grumpy person saying "this post is awful"; if it it is that one person, it's probably just one person being a big grump for whatever reason while also not really looking around and asking themselves some basic "is this just me?" questions or reading the room before they launch into it.

Which, a whole lot of people here; there's gonna be someone who dislikes just about everything (and, on the converse, someone who really likes or has no problem with something people are otherwise collectively super unhappy with) and you just kind of have to factor in that noisy whammy factor to stuff and try not to worry too much about it even if it's kinda galling to see it happen in your post.

Basically, you're all good. Sorry there was some friction there, but it wasn't your fault.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:32 AM on April 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


One feature I'd like to see is some sort of "draft post save" feature

FYI, the mods have said in the past that isn't a planned feature.

Having lost a few posts when a browser crashed, or when I stupidly hit the wrong key combination, I now do all of my longer posts in Google Drive. It saves automatically as you work and you can restore older edits if you accidentally delete a paragraph or something.

even better if there's a way to share that privately with other mefites who had offered to review.

I'll sometimes privately ask friends to look over an FPP before posting. I even once begged people on twitter to help me find a broken link html error on a post about the show Iron Chef that had 200+ links in it.

The mods will look over posts for you if you ask. Personally, I don't like bothering them (they're busy!) unless I'm really concerned about a post's chances of survival due to framing, topic, links included, etc. But they have far better insights into the userbase and what sort of posts usually get deleted than any user. They can also warn you if a post seems lopsidedly biased, or if it seems like it might start a fight.
posted by zarq at 7:51 AM on April 15, 2015


> If you need a little time to orient yourself to the site, that's fine, but please don't feel permanently scarred and scared to post. It helped me to participate essentially exclusively on AskMe for a while. It is more heavily moderated and there are basically rules against people talking to each other directly. The point is to answer the question someone posted, so it places limits on people saying to you in specific "Grar, you are stupid and doing it wrong and I don't like you!" That can help you get familiar with the site, the culture and some of the folks here with less risk and that can help you develop a positive relationship to the place with less baggage and less likelihood of getting into a rut of arguing with the same folks over and over. I mean, if you want. Totally optional, of course.

I think it is helpful to note distinctions between comments on the green, blue and grey - based on my experience, it can be a bit disorienting to transition from one forum to the other. However, I've joined MetaFilter to learn new things, including about online communication and social media - one of the big lessons that I've learned so far is that it can be very important to assume good faith by commenters, even when a comment seems snarky.

My first FPP link snafu was a result of clicking through a link on the Drudge Report - I knew I would get snarky feedback about it, but I also wanted to help readers access the content, so I commented, and then the snarky response was actually pretty funny. It may be helpful to anticipate that some topics (e.g. Capitol Hill real estate) are going to drive some people completely bonkers, and then not take it personally because it's the nature of the topic, not the quality of your post.
posted by Little Dawn at 9:45 AM on April 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


From my experience, most people will stop reading at the break, so put anything you think is key/ important/ worth focusing on above the page break if you have a longer post. That said, it can't all be important, so you shouldn't write a hefty paragraph because you want people to See It All before they go to comment. Accept that there will be a number of comments like "I was going to say X, but was happy to see it below the fold." People start thinking of what they want to say after reading a little.


We had a deal, Kyle: I see posts as falling into 4 basic types

This is a good break-down of the technical side. I think you can also break posts down into a hazy* binary situation: either
  1. people know about a topic, or
  2. they don't.
This then breaks into
  1. I know about this and have strong feelings which I will share without reading more
  2. I know about this topic but I have nothing to add to this post, so kudos for the post!
  3. I don't know about this, and the linked material is short enough that I took it all in and now have thoughts
  4. I didn't know about this, but there is nothing I have to add to this topic
*There are levels of how much people know about a topic, so it's not a strict "I know something/I know nothing" break.

With all this in mind, I try to let go after making a post, because I'm still not sure how people will react to things I find to be non-controversial and interesting. I stay away from political posts, because personal feelings come out before responses to the content, especially for hot topics like upcoming elections, so the tone of the discussion is set before anyone has time to read the content, unless it's content on a popular site that has been up for a day or two, so people would have read it ahead of the post going live. But the same can be said of positive, popular topics, where even detailed posts can serve as fig leaves for general conversations on the topic (see non-news posts on popular media - everyone already has good feelings about a thing, so they're ready to share). This is just the nature of people, so don't feel bad for spending time putting something together, only to have the discussion go some other way.


Chrysostom: I think it's okay for Metafilter to contain multitudes.

I love MetaFilter because it contains multitudes. I will read some mega-posts thoroughly, following many links because the topic is complex or broad and interesting. Others I will skim and think and/or comment "interesting topic, thanks for this work," because I'm sure there is someone who will find it interesting (really, I do want to know more about long-haul trucking, but I realize this interest may be more niche than others).

I skip over most "cute/fun/silly thing" SLYT posts, because I find them to be too much like potato chips - tasty, but not enough for my liking. But that's just me, so I wouldn't think of flagging them, even if there are some users who do that a lot.

Even though I like longer posts, I probably wouldn't like MetaFilter as much if it was all long-form posts, or even mid-length posts. There are plenty of things that can stand on their own.


With all that said, I still hold stupidsexyFlanders' post on The Harry and Bess Truman Ex-Presidential Road Trip as a great mid-lenght post, for its number of links (9), short paragraphs (4), and focus of the topic (main topic and a related sub-topic). Concise, focusing on the content rather than making content.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:06 PM on April 15, 2015


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