6 EXPERTS ON HOW SILICON VALLEY CAN SOLVE ONLINE HARASSMENT October 26, 2015 12:08 PM   Subscribe

Wired has a six-person panel discuss how to solve online harassment. MeFi gets a mention: "There are communities that are doing it just fine. On Metafilter, for example, people have totally elevated, helpful conversations, and there’s no name-calling."
posted by GuyZero to MetaFilter-Related at 12:08 PM (112 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

UH, did you see that we need to have a discussion about racism? Clearly things are not just fine here. Harrumph!

I kid! Things are much better here than in many spots, and good job all who have helped make that happen.
posted by Going To Maine at 12:11 PM on October 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


Heh, the genuine flipside of that is that, yeah, for all the work we have to do around here it is still heartening to see MetaFilter regularly credited as a place that has at least been making an effort and reasonably successfully on a lot of the basic fronts where a surprisingly (or, at this late date, less that than depressingly) large swath of the internet doesn't seem to be trying very hard at all.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:13 PM on October 26, 2015 [52 favorites]


Shallow idiot.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 12:21 PM on October 26, 2015 [11 favorites]


and there’s no name-calling.

Hahahahahoho *snort*

But seriously, yes, what cortex said.
posted by Melismata at 12:22 PM on October 26, 2015 [5 favorites]


there’s no name-calling.

Here we've elevated it to willfully misinterpreting people and flying off the handle, which is of course too subtle for Wired to detect.
posted by thedaniel at 12:25 PM on October 26, 2015 [57 favorites]


(My jest was directed at the pullquote and the author.)
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 12:26 PM on October 26, 2015 [3 favorites]


Here we've elevated it to willfully misinterpreting people and flying off the handle, which is of course too subtle for Wired to detect.

HOW DARE YOU EXPLICITLY CALL ME OUT LIKE THIS.
posted by maxsparber at 12:27 PM on October 26, 2015 [115 favorites]


Obviously things aren't perfect around here, but the fact that Metafilter is the kind of place where we can have a 500+ comment thread on how to respectfully address sensitive topics is a good thing. I've been gingerly participating in the racism thread, and that is not at all something I would be willing to even countenance in most places on the internet. Way too scary, and way too risky.
posted by Diagonalize at 12:38 PM on October 26, 2015 [25 favorites]


Hoo yeah, I just went and looked at our Adria Richards thread and while I am not sure that the same thread today would go 100% better than it did then, it certainly would have gone at least some better.
posted by Lyn Never at 12:49 PM on October 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


Hoo yeah, I just went and looked at our Adria Richards thread and while I am not sure that the same thread today would go 100% better than it did then, it certainly would have gone at least some better.

(For those who aren’t reading / skimming the article, it’s Richards who mentions MetaFilter.)
posted by Going To Maine at 1:05 PM on October 26, 2015


That picture looks like the Homecoming Court of the Business Internet.
posted by ignignokt at 1:09 PM on October 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


It must be noted that MeFi's Own (3-digit user number) Anil Dash is on the panel, and he's not wearing a Professional White Shirt.
posted by oneswellfoop at 1:17 PM on October 26, 2015 [7 favorites]


In all seriousness, I can't imagine having the job of "vice president of trust and safety at Twitter".
posted by boo_radley at 1:24 PM on October 26, 2015 [2 favorites]


"Hi, I'm Jane Doe, Vice President of Pleasant Smells at the World's Largest Garbage Dump."
posted by protocoach at 1:29 PM on October 26, 2015 [70 favorites]


I can't speak for anyone myself, but using this positive media reference as a way to take snarky jabs at PoC for being unhappy with having their opinions dismissed and feeling alienated around here strikes me as being tone-deaf as fuck. Making "jokes" which in effect say "SEE!? I TOLD you it's fine!!" is mean-spirited and unnecessary. Can we not?

Oh well. What can you expect.
posted by Bassariscus at 1:32 PM on October 26, 2015 [16 favorites]

It’s not the rest of the users who are following the conversation and saying, “Oh my God, have you seen what happened on Twitter today?” As opposed to, “Hey, that’s not OK, we need to flag this person.” Or on YouTube, people don’t reply to the level of hate or body shaming or harassment that they see. We just kind of let it go and expect the platform or the person being harassed to do all the work. We have to create a society that says it’s not OK to do it.
Frown Power needs an emoji. Seriously. an expression that reads as "Knock that shit off."
posted by MonkeyToes at 1:37 PM on October 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


I didn't actually read any of the comments as snarky jabs at PoC. I mean, I think it can both be true that things aren't as perfect here as painted in the article, and also be true that compared to most of the rest of the Internet, Metafilter is doing a reasonable job.

The racism MeTa has been really been very interesting to read and I think it's been enlightening for myself and a lot of other people. And I actually can't imagine it happening in any of the other online groups that I frequent.

I nonetheless hope the community will continue to try to do better - and I hope that people who are understandably frustrated by being everyone else's "learning experiences" become increasingly able to have the conversations they're interested in having.
posted by telepanda at 1:43 PM on October 26, 2015 [3 favorites]


It must be noted that MeFi's Own (3-digit user number) Anil Dash is on the panel, and he's not wearing a Professional White Shirt.

speaking of which, we're kinda dicks to him sometimes
posted by Hoopo at 1:46 PM on October 26, 2015 [5 favorites]


Bassariscus: "snarky jabs at PoC for being unhappy with having their opinions dismissed and feeling alienated around here"

I certainly hope my comment didn't come across that way.
posted by boo_radley at 1:46 PM on October 26, 2015


I certainly hope my comment didn't come across that way.

I suspect, and Bassariscus, please correct me if I'm wrong, that it was directed at thedaniel's comment about "willfully misinterpreting people and flying off the handle", which yeah, in the context of the racism thread, I also kinda read as aimed at the people bringing up those concerns, because the "You're overreacting" card is one that gets pulled pretty frequently.
posted by protocoach at 1:51 PM on October 26, 2015 [5 favorites]


I think the big problem is that almost every free-to-users service out there has active user-numbers as their primary metric of market share that they show to advertisers. As a result, they're reticent to invest in strong moderation like Metafilter or Stack Overflow because then their primary growth metric is also tied to cost of moderation, more than hardware cost or other resources users consume.

So they see what keeps Metafilter usable--that $5 gate to account creation--as a deliberate reduction in numbers for advertisers. They don't really have the margin to say, "we don't want those users" in reference to whatever noisome group. When the answer is "we need more good moderators and fewer bad actors," both of those things are significant costs in the current free-to-users model that may not pay off depending on execution.

I was a little disappointed to see the panel resort multiple times to saying that we need "a culture change," because while that's certainly true, it's also fantastically nebulous and the sort of thing you hear from a politician when they've accurately read the sentiment of a room but know that discussing solutions would quickly divide it. If there were a "change culture for the better" button around, we'd all be pressing it like the bedside morphine drip control after surgery.
posted by Phyltre at 1:56 PM on October 26, 2015 [23 favorites]


I was guessing the main issue was the opening jokey comment, which I got as a self-aware riff about the nature of MetaTalk and the juxtaposition of discussions but which was still kinda eh as choices for opening. thedaniels' comment struck me as totally agnostic to anything specific.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:05 PM on October 26, 2015 [4 favorites]


I was a little disappointed to see the panel resort multiple times to saying that we need "a culture change," because while that's certainly true, it's also fantastically nebulous and the sort of thing you hear from a politician when they've accurately read the sentiment of a room but know that discussing solutions would quickly divide it. If there were a "change culture for the better" button around, we'd all be pressing it like the bedside morphine drip control after surgery.

We need more proof that changing culture generates revenue, not simply good vibes.
posted by Going To Maine at 2:23 PM on October 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


That is to say, proof of revenue generation is proof that makes venture capitalists want to change things.
posted by Going To Maine at 2:26 PM on October 26, 2015


I was a little disappointed to see the panel resort multiple times to saying that we need "a culture change," because while that's certainly true, it's also fantastically nebulous and the sort of thing you hear from a politician when they've accurately read the sentiment of a room but know that discussing solutions would quickly divide it.

The problem with culture change is that some of the worst behavior online comes from subcultures like chan culture. I don't even understand that culture, much less know how to change it, and I don't think the culture will change on it's own. So, I don't know how to implement a culture change there.

On a site like Metafilter, I understand the culture more and have seen how self correction can occur. It's unfortunate some harassment still goes on offsite directed at users here, but the mods have made the site itself a very bad place to try and harass someone.

Moderation and technical solutions and law enforcement actually giving a fuck are the ways to handle online harassment while the cultural questions gets figured out.
posted by Drinky Die at 2:42 PM on October 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


posted by oneswellfoop It must be noted that MeFi's Own (3-digit user number) Anil Dash is on the panel, and he's not wearing a Professional White Shirt.

That's because he's being photographed against a Professional White Background.
posted by mattdidthat at 2:46 PM on October 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


The problem with culture change is that some of the worst behavior online comes from subcultures like chan culture. I don't even understand that culture, much less know how to change it, and I don't think the culture will change on it's own. So, I don't know how to implement a culture change there.

If there are any good books on 4chan's business model, I'd be interested in seeing them. 8chan lives off some combination of donations & hot wheels’ desire to keep it going. But I wouldn’t that 4chan clears that much from ads…
posted by Going To Maine at 2:54 PM on October 26, 2015


I kind of feel like the statute of limitations has expired on professional white background jokes at Anil's expense. Especially now that the site...has a professional white background?

(I wouldn't know, I still use the Classic Theme as God intended)
posted by Kwine at 2:57 PM on October 26, 2015 [20 favorites]


i really wish the professional white background "jokes" would die.
posted by nadawi at 3:01 PM on October 26, 2015 [13 favorites]


...or at least return a cold fusion servlet error

(oh, the memories!)
posted by andrewcooke at 3:08 PM on October 26, 2015 [5 favorites]


So my partner is going to court tomorrow over online harassment he and his daughter have got on Facebook and Twitter (long story) and neither FB or Twitter gave a flying fuck, and there's still stuff ongoing unchecked because one of the worst offenders is outside our jurisdiction. A change in culture would be lovely but saving a magic wand being waved over humanity the problem lies with corporations who don't care about the real pain online abuse causes its users. MeFi might not be perfect but the mods try damn hard I think to make it a good place, and I'm grateful to them and the other users here for creating at least one place on the internet that doesn't make me want to weep with despair over just how hateful people can be.
posted by billiebee at 3:20 PM on October 26, 2015 [29 favorites]


I can't imagine having the job of "vice president of trust and safety at Twitter".

Look, if FIFA's got an ethics committee...
posted by Segundus at 3:21 PM on October 26, 2015 [12 favorites]


Well, this is the closest I'll ever come to getting mentioned in Wired.
posted by teponaztli at 3:56 PM on October 26, 2015


Look, if FIFA's got an ethics committee...

That's only so they can make sure there aren't any.
posted by marienbad at 4:07 PM on October 26, 2015 [18 favorites]


I'm an Anil Dash fan. I think his 2011 blog post, "IF YOUR WEBSITE'S FULL OF ASSHOLES, IT'S YOUR FAULT", is spot on. That wasn't the Anil Dash who showed up at the Wired panel. Everyone in the panel seems to be working on the assumption that for a given site ("platform"), online harassment is a solvable problem that can be overlaid on the site. Dash gets close to his old self, just after Metafilter gets a namecheck, when he says,

"You make a set of choices early on about how you build the social dynamics, and you set expectations about what’s not going to be tolerated. Stack Overflow has really good tools. Moderators are ­people from the communities relevant to the discussions and are elected into authority roles. There’s a high ratio of moderators to users, and rules are strictly enforced."

My belief is that *how* you design your site has a huge impact on the signal-to-troll ratio. Metafilter has come as close as anyone, in my opinion, to figuring this out with the $5 registration fee and relatively heavy handed moderation (I say that with love). I spent a lot of my life online, professionally and personally, and have been online since the late 1980s. At this point, the only public social networking sites I'll post to are Metafilter/Ask.metafilter and Ars Technica, and both of those are behind psuedonyms. For the rest of the usual suspects (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.), I'm pretty much just consuming/lurking, and using whatever passes for a direct message. At some point, I have to believe this becomes an economic problem for those sites if all of the content contributors become lurkers. That is when solving the online harassment problem suddenly has a profit motive.
posted by kovacs at 6:43 PM on October 26, 2015 [11 favorites]


Someone said 'name-calling' and I can't resist this overwhelming urge to just type out, in small print, "You no-talent ass clown!" Thank you, that's all.
posted by carsonb at 6:50 PM on October 26, 2015


crumb bums, the lot of you
posted by the uncomplicated soups of my childhood at 7:03 PM on October 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


Carry on, looove is coming, looove is coming to you all.
posted by Oyéah at 8:00 PM on October 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


We need more proof that changing culture generates revenue

What more proof could possibly be required than the ongoing existence of News Ltd?
posted by flabdablet at 9:41 PM on October 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


speaking of which, we're kinda dicks to him sometimes

Eh, nothing more than apparently he expects us to enjoy at the local cinema. Quieter, even, as it was all in text.

The response was deserved, is what I'm saying.
posted by gadge emeritus at 9:54 PM on October 26, 2015


I think looking for proof of revenue generation (or, really, profit generation) is a red herring. First we don't actually know that it generates profit. It's quite possible the world is a crappy enough place that cracking down on assholes is a losing proposition money-wise. Second, and most importantly, you crack down on abuse because abuse is wrong and cracking down on it is the right thing to do.
posted by Justinian at 11:20 PM on October 26, 2015 [5 favorites]


Second, and most importantly, you crack down on abuse because abuse is wrong and cracking down on it is the right thing to do.

You're not wrong, but you're also not running a community platform that already has millions of users. If you're trying to satisfice, things that aren't beneficial to the bottom line will go out the window
posted by Going To Maine at 4:31 AM on October 27, 2015


How about we stop letting online platforms externalize the cost of their users' shitty behavior onto the rest of society?
posted by anifinder at 7:00 AM on October 27, 2015 [8 favorites]


how?
posted by andrewcooke at 7:40 AM on October 27, 2015 [3 favorites]


Well, that's the big challenge. Coming up with something that threads the needle of not chilling free speech while also limiting harassment is huge.
posted by Going To Maine at 7:59 AM on October 27, 2015 [2 favorites]


Go to it, lawyers!
posted by Going To Maine at 7:59 AM on October 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm envisioning a big hand that comes out of a random USB port and slaps the user when they're being an ass.
posted by zarq at 8:01 AM on October 27, 2015 [4 favorites]


I'm envisioning a big hand that comes out of a random USB port and slaps the user when they're being an ass.

I would fund the shit out of that Kickstarter.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:15 AM on October 27, 2015 [15 favorites]


I'm envisioning a big hand that comes out of a random USB port and slaps the user when they're being an ass.

I am ok with a big hand coming out of a random USB port and slapping me randomly not just when being an ass.
posted by AugustWest at 8:27 AM on October 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


At this point, the only public social networking sites I'll post to are Metafilter/Ask.metafilter and Ars Technica, and both of those are behind psuedonyms.

Has the definition of social media evolved so far that it includes MetaFilter? I mean, I guess I can see it, given the community nature of things here, but I think there's also a pretty wide chasm between MeFi and Facebook or Twitter, not just in cultural terms but in functional terms, by which I mean how the sites expect people to use them.
posted by nickmark at 10:20 AM on October 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


I would fund the shit out of that Kickstarter.

I see what you did there.
posted by Melismata at 10:26 AM on October 27, 2015


...Whu? I sincerely don't know what you mean.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:39 AM on October 27, 2015


ass... shit... you know.
posted by dinty_moore at 10:40 AM on October 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


ass... shit... you know.

I.....don't, actually.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:41 AM on October 27, 2015


butts lol
posted by Melismata at 10:41 AM on October 27, 2015 [5 favorites]


you said "shit out of" about a thing that said ass

for more tips see my blog, Get Rich The Never Stopping Thinking About Butt Jokes Way

posted by cortex (staff) at 10:42 AM on October 27, 2015 [38 favorites]


Oh, I thought people were thinking it was an eponysterical thing.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:44 AM on October 27, 2015 [3 favorites]


The $5 barrier is great. First, it keeps out (most) teenagers, who are pretty much the worst offenders. Then it prevents someone from creating an army of bots that can massively amplify their voice. And it stops you from getting your 1000 friends on your bulletin board to sign up just to post one angry message too. Metafilter's moderation is important, of course, but I really think the $5 barrier keeps the noise level down enough that reasonable conversations can happen.
posted by miyabo at 10:51 AM on October 27, 2015 [5 favorites]


there is no ass in "I would fund the shit out of that Kickstarter"

wtf are you people talking about?
posted by andrewcooke at 10:52 AM on October 27, 2015


thank you andrew you have reassured me i am not slowly going mad
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:59 AM on October 27, 2015 [4 favorites]


comment 1:
"I'm envisioning a big hand that comes out of a random USB port and slaps the user when they're being an ass"

comment 2:
something kickstarter

comment 3:
"I would fund the shit out of that Kickstarter"

The Peanut Gallery: HERP DERP!

I just ruined everything, didn't I?
posted by Annika Cicada at 11:09 AM on October 27, 2015 [8 favorites]


I think it may have been already ruined.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 11:13 AM on October 27, 2015 [33 favorites]


I'mma just gonna generally plead that I have a sprained ankle and I'm on painkillers and maybe I'll get the sympathy vote as a blanket excuse this week.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:14 AM on October 27, 2015 [4 favorites]


Timing!
posted by Going To Maine at 11:19 AM on October 27, 2015 [10 favorites]


MonkeyToes: Frown Power needs an emoji. Seriously. an expression that reads as "Knock that shit off."

Huh, that's also a thing. In the vast panoply of emoji, there are a few good frowns, like 😐 , 😞 , 😾 , 😿 , 🙎 , 🙍 , though they're rendered lots of different ways that may not always display the same amount of emotion. I would also like a good "abuela finger shake" emoji (one's grandmother shaking her finger in disappointment and disapproval).
posted by filthy light thief at 11:34 AM on October 27, 2015 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I feel like the closest I can get is generally just ಠ_ಠ
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:36 AM on October 27, 2015 [9 favorites]


I am generally in favor of the $5 barrier here--but specifically in the context of how this site relates to POC, that barrier has been raised in conversations before as potentially shutting out POC folks who may not have access to a credit card or otherwise use PayPal. Twitter, especially, tends to be contrasted with MF for that reason.

Absolutely there are alternative ways to pay and occasionally people get comped accounts, but I did want to being that forward as we're, y'know, talking about MetaFilter and race a couple threads down.

In working to solve one problem (online harassment), the $5 charge adds to another (barriers to bringing in marginalized voices). It's hard to solve thorny societal problems and the $5 charge is not without potential concern.
posted by librarylis at 11:51 AM on October 27, 2015 [4 favorites]


Definitely the core value of the $5 barrier is the barrier, not the fiver itself, as far as lessons for sites/services to take about how to trade off some friction up front in the signup process for less wide-open opportunities for abuse and brigading and so on. If you're willing to say you're okay with slower growth, slower intake of users, less instant gratification, more active consideration and review of the signup process on an ongoing basis as an investment in shaping your userbase from the moment they hit the front door, then I think any kind of roadblock that forces a potential new user to stop and think about whether and why and how much they want to join is useful.

For us, the use of the $5 signup fee as a specific approach does two things:

1. Puts some of that "are you sure this is worth it to you?" question in a simple, concrete way that puts off a lot of potential driveby traffic. It's pre-filtering in a way that isn't perfect for a variety of reasons but does keep growth in check and limits the volume of post-signup review of new accounts we need to do (because that is something we still have to do).

2. Generates a little bit of revenue for us. The signup fees don't represent very much of MetaFilter's income, but they're not nothing, and as a site that has the last couple years in particular been having to look hard at the throughput and diversity of our available income sources that's a strong argument for us specifically to keep with it, rather than an argument for a new site or service in general to plan on it up front as a major source of operating funds.

That said:

In working to solve one problem (online harassment), the $5 charge adds to another (barriers to bringing in marginalized voices). It's hard to solve thorny societal problems and the $5 charge is not without potential concern.

Absolutely. And we've always tried to be communicative about being happy to comp an account—I can't think of any occasion where we haven't been happy to hand out an account other than maybe one or two particularly brazen and obvious spammers—but it's something we could look at communicating more clearly in the signup materials. The goal of the $5 fee is definitely not primarily to make sure new users have five bucks to spare, and I think per above that it can be a mistake to credit the fee, rather than the process, with keeping MetaFilter's userbase healthy and free from abusive vectors; I'd rather anyone who has a sincere interest in joining the site be able to get involved easily and confidently.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:09 PM on October 27, 2015 [11 favorites]


The signup fee also has another useful role which I think cortex alluded too which is that it takes the place of other more noxious barriers like a waiting period before commenting (I know there's a short wait before Ask posting) which people might find more difficult or annoying. In the past I was always happy to accept a postcard in lieu of the $5 and then sign up people for "free" accounts.

The PayPal option also gives mods a bit more personal information about people and there has definitely been once or twice (very rare, just mentioning to mention, not as a cautionary tale) where someone used the "send Jessamyn a postcard" route to then go and commit mostly-anonymous fuckery on the site.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 1:44 PM on October 27, 2015 [4 favorites]


I suspect, and Bassariscus, please correct me if I'm wrong, that it was directed at thedaniel's comment about "willfully misinterpreting people and flying off the handle", which yeah, in the context of the racism thread, I also kinda read as aimed at the people bringing up those concerns, because the "You're overreacting" card is one that gets pulled pretty frequently.

This kind of illustrates the downside of no personal attacks rules. Not that it makes them a bad idea, and it is not by any means specific to Metafilter, but sites where personal attacks on other users are prohibited always have a high incidence of passive aggression, where criticisms are couched in generalities and speculation or phrased indirectly, so they're ambiguous enough for plausible deniability, and ambiguous criticisms tend to cast pretty wide nets, which contributes to a minor but persistent undercurrent of paranoia in any remotely contentious discussion, and sometimes outside of the discussion itself. (And I have no idea what is happening there at all, but it's ambiguous enough that the dynamic is in full swing.)

Again, it's not just Metafilter, and I don't know if there's any way to avoid it or anything, but just because the name-calling is implied doesn't mean it's not there. It just means that casual observers are less likely to notice it.
posted by ernielundquist at 3:13 PM on October 27, 2015 [7 favorites]


I just ruined everything, didn't I?

Our second test subject!

I would be the first. ;)
posted by zarq at 3:19 PM on October 27, 2015


On Metafilter, for example, people have totally elevated, helpful conversations, and there’s no name-calling."

Lololol
posted by hal_c_on at 3:40 PM on October 27, 2015 [4 favorites]


I am generally in favor of the $5 barrier here--but specifically in the context of how this site relates to POC, that barrier has been raised in conversations before as potentially shutting out POC folks who may not have access to a credit card or otherwise use PayPal. Twitter, especially, tends to be contrasted with MF for that reason.

When MetaFilter gets a bit better on the funding fronts I've thought of trying to do a "fund a fellow" exchange where people agree to fund a certain number of members who ask for it via some means. I've already paid for a friend who couldn't get a US payment thingy, and got the resulting awesome dopamine hit.

Also, my "wtf are you on" emoji of choice is o.O;;;;
posted by Deoridhe at 3:51 PM on October 27, 2015 [4 favorites]


Deoridhe I've thought of the same thing - I was actually just thinking earlier of how that would work. I was thinking maybe willing and able members could kick in $5 to a pot that the site ringfenced for "spare" sign ups. (don't know if that would work in case the mods would treat it like I treat my own savings ie spend it on emergency gin)
posted by billiebee at 4:08 PM on October 27, 2015 [2 favorites]


Practically speaking, I think it'd be a lot simpler for us to just clearly signpost the "if $5 is a financial hardship, you can contact us here about comping you an account" idea on the signup page than to worry about any kind of kitty process. Doing away with the $5 fee would be a biggish decision; waiving it a little more often when someone asks would not. Especially given the level of site support all you wonderful folks are already providing.

My biggest practical concern there is the possibility that we'd see ten "oh well uh I need a free account to spam I MEAN PARTICIPATE YEAH THAT'S IT" dinguses for every genuinely interested party who just can't manage the five bucks or has a severe paypal allergy or whatever. But that's something we'd just have to feel out when the time came, no way to predict for sure.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:16 PM on October 27, 2015 [6 favorites]


First off, I want to thank all the merits for getting together to spot me a free membership.

Next, as a gesture in return, I'd like to invite you all to the ground floor of a unique investment opportunity through a very handsome Nigerian prince...
posted by hal_c_on at 4:21 PM on October 27, 2015 [3 favorites]


I think you'll find the plural of dingus is dingi
posted by billiebee at 4:24 PM on October 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


It's always refreshing to see an intelligent comment from ernielundquist.
posted by uosuaq at 4:35 PM on October 27, 2015


"Fair is foul and foul is fair"
-Shakesphere, Mac. 1.👆.12

No mere tin nashy Palindrome will foil our good linguists. That's when you go for the move and abruptly interject:

"Mr antimetabolehat has three points, not the mere epandados two corner floppy felt cap"
posted by clavdivs at 6:41 PM on October 27, 2015


Then you run like hell.
posted by clavdivs at 6:41 PM on October 27, 2015 [3 favorites]


Practically speaking, I think it'd be a lot simpler for us to just clearly signpost the "if $5 is a financial hardship, you can contact us here about comping you an account" idea on the signup page than to worry about any kind of kitty process.

That would be awesome. Also I suspect kind of a pain in the ass, as you mention. Still, it'd be nifty if there was both a way to make it workable for y'all as mods and payoff for the site in terms of adding new members who wouldn't otherwise join.
posted by librarylis at 8:30 PM on October 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


sites where personal attacks on other users are prohibited always have a high incidence of passive aggression, where criticisms are couched in generalities and speculation or phrased indirectly, so they're ambiguous enough for plausible deniability, and ambiguous criticisms tend to cast pretty wide nets, which contributes to a minor but persistent undercurrent of paranoia in any remotely contentious discussion, and sometimes outside of the discussion itself.

Thank you for saying this. I'm certainly not in favour of more or more direct personal attacks, but ^^ sucks.
posted by cotton dress sock at 9:37 PM on October 27, 2015 [2 favorites]


Five bucks isn't the only filter for posting (or by postcard, as it were). There is, implied, a filter for being relevant, honest or fair, reasoned and factual, and being original and not selling a product (for examples). And this is where the soft label of "community" could conceivably become a harsh reality, not unlike a church or a small town in Idaho (or a Facebook page), because it shouldn't be like a fixed community by birth or conviction (or friends), but a provisional one for sharing information. It will survive if it stays true to its rules of order, and not to anyone else. Don't stop innovating.
posted by Brian B. at 9:42 PM on October 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


My biggest practical concern there is the possibility that we'd see ten "oh well uh I need a free account to spam I MEAN PARTICIPATE YEAH THAT'S IT" dinguses for every genuinely interested party who just can't manage the five bucks or has a severe paypal allergy or whatever.

I lurked for 4 or 5 years before getting an account. Part of it was having a severe PayPal allergy. I signed up the day Stripe was offered as an alternate form of payment, but it did require some manual mod intervention. I forwarded my Stripe email receipt to the MeFi mod contact email address.

- Is it possible to automate account sign-up with Stripe the way it (presumably) is with PayPal? I don't know what all the back-end stuff that needs to occur in order for that to happen, and it may not be feasible, but it's just a thought.

- If it's not possible to automate, perhaps adding a message that if someone prefers to pay by Stripe, to contact the mods?
posted by cynical pinnacle at 11:56 PM on October 27, 2015


I've been gingerly participating in the racism thread, and that is not at all something I would be willing to even countenance in most places on the internet. Way too scary, and way too risky.

Metafilter: For when the real world is too real. Also, youtube comments.
posted by hal_c_on at 1:35 AM on October 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


"I'm envisioning a big hand that comes out of a random USB port and slaps the user when they're being an ass"

Would you care to help me with CTP, the Clue Transport Protocol? I originally was going to use a 64 bit integer to represent how forceful the dope slap was, until I realized that I'd be breaking the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty if bit 62 was set to 1, and might unbind the entire planet if all the bits were set.
posted by eriko at 10:00 AM on October 28, 2015 [7 favorites]


I have been wanting to encourage so many people to join who face the challenge of no paypal in their countries of domicile, primarily on the African continent. (and yes, 5$). Can I point them to you directly, Cortex? I'd offer to buy memberships for them (and mentioned in the past) but one of the beauties of mefi is you can pretend you don't know who is calling you names irl ;p
posted by infini at 12:14 PM on October 28, 2015


Anybody is welcome to drop us a line at the contact form about it, yeah. Doesn't have to be directed to me specifically, though that's okay too.

I'd offer to buy memberships for them (and mentioned in the past) but one of the beauties of mefi is you can pretend you don't know who is calling you names irl ;p

I know you're kind of joking, but as a practical thing it's important to be realistic about whether you can simultaneously (a) encourage someone to join MetaFilter and (b) expect to have them not know who you are on teh site, and whether the failure of that partitioning would be a problem.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:59 PM on October 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


People like introductions rather than anon contact forms.

I don't expect them to not know but if I don't shove it in their face, there's an expectation that they won't out me elsewhere in other websites. I suspect a few already have put 2 and 3 together, as my posting history is pretty much who I am, and I don't hesitate to share metafilter fpp links with the community
posted by infini at 1:24 PM on October 28, 2015


"pseudonymous"
posted by infini at 1:25 PM on October 28, 2015


i really wish the professional white background "jokes" would die.

first they come for your professional white background. then they come for your giant best of the web gif. finally they come for your microphone.
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 6:30 PM on October 28, 2015


We're talikg a-U minemum bidlets?
posted by clavdivs at 5:38 AM on October 29, 2015 [2 favorites]


This is maybe the right place to say that I credit Metafilter for changing my perspective on race, feminism, trans* concerns and just generally every aspect of life where empathy is a critical asset. For all of the derails and BS that go on here it is absolutely a world apart from the rest of the internet and deserves any credit that gets thrown its way. I can honestly say that I feel like I'm a better person for spending time here.

TL;DR: YAY METAFILTER!
posted by grumpybear69 at 8:44 AM on October 29, 2015 [11 favorites]


" I emailed them, saying, “I’m very concerned I’m going to be murdered in the next two weeks.” They asked me to file a ticket, so I did"

Not sure whether to laugh or cry when I read that ....
posted by AGameOfMoans at 9:36 AM on October 29, 2015


*peers closely with tri-focals at clavdivs comment*
posted by infini at 2:07 PM on October 29, 2015


Clavdzvlla slowly lumbers back into the Sea of Japan, a swath of toppled power lines and burning buildings behind him.
posted by y2karl at 8:30 AM on October 30, 2015 [3 favorites]


Hoo yeah, I just went and looked at our Adria Richards thread and while I am not sure that the same thread today would go 100% better than it did then, it certainly would have gone at least some better.

As an aside, the Richards thread was horrific, and if memory serves I think I either got timed-out or got told to take a knee lest I get timed-out for getting into it with some of the more enthusiastically, dog-whistlingly racist and misogynist posters. I really hope things have improved since... certainly, it seems like there's a will to improve, which is great.
posted by running order squabble fest at 11:02 AM on October 30, 2015


some of the more enthusiastically, dog-whistlingly racist and misogynist posters.

So, a question, and one that’s perhaps too big for here: are we assuming that people on the site are explicitly making dog-whistle comments - that is, deliberately choosing to use coded language in order to engage in racism/sexism/etc.? I ask because my general assumption is no: if people use such things they're doing it without believing that they are engaging in any sort of racism/sexism. Of course, I'm also a white dude, so my stakes in such a fight are low. But I think that understanding how we all perceive how other people as using the site is important.
posted by Going To Maine at 11:15 AM on October 30, 2015


Well, relatively few people _in general_ self-identify as motivated by anomie specifically about race or gender, but the kinds of rants we have had around here about Rebecca Watson, Adria Richards, Beyonce (Beyonce!) and so on are similar in impact regardless. So, "dog-whistle" in those terms is perhaps inaccurate, and perhaps not - I don't think someone insisting that Rebecca Watson would have loved to have been propositioned in a lift by a better-looking man necessary sees themselves as trying to express hateful opinions. On the other hand, I do think that kind of statement is intended to provoke others to express solidarity, to feel emboldened to make their own statements and to shift the window of what is normal in a particular direction. If the last year of Internet culture has shown anything, it's how that dynamic works.

Some of the people most enthusiastic about making their feelings heard about the failings of specific women have left MetaFilter, or (as I understand it) have been removed after refusing to amend their behavior. That feels like generally a forward step, IMHO. I think MetaFilter has a rep for being better than the vast majority of the Internet, and I think that rep is generally well-deserved, but it's also a rep that has been _won_, both by the moderators adapting their positions and being prepared to stand by them and by users doing huge amounts of emotional labor to try to communicate to moderators and to other users how their experience of MetaFilter can be different, and often less enjoyable, than the defaults.
posted by running order squabble fest at 11:33 AM on October 30, 2015 [8 favorites]


So, a question, and one that’s perhaps too big for here: are we assuming that people on the site are explicitly making dog-whistle comments - that is, deliberately choosing to use coded language in order to engage in racism/sexism/etc.?

Four or five banned users used to, definitely. One of whom now does the same on reddit.
posted by zarq at 12:18 PM on October 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


Some of the people most enthusiastic about making their feelings heard about the failings of specific women have left MetaFilter, or (as I understand it) have been removed after refusing to amend their behavior.

Having given that long Adria Richards thread a skim, more the latter than the former.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:42 PM on October 30, 2015 [4 favorites]


I am also an Anil Dash fan, but I am frustrated and want to point out that the reason gender isn't so much an issue at Stack Overflow is because the absolute, rock-bottom default assumption is that any given member is male.
posted by DarlingBri at 9:29 PM on October 30, 2015 [9 favorites]


the male member


I will go away now until my 50th birthday
posted by infini at 4:07 AM on October 31, 2015 [1 favorite]


So, a question, and one that’s perhaps too big for here: are we assuming that people on the site are explicitly making dog-whistle comments - that is, deliberately choosing to use coded language in order to engage in racism/sexism/etc.?

Yes, but frequently not deliberately. Coded language is common around racism, sexism, etc... and gets passed both by people who explicitly know what they're doing, and by people who just think Welfare Queens and Inner City Youth sound scary without putting together that both terms are racist dogwhistles. A lot of racism is implicit, not explicit, and things like dog whistles and people who live in redlined towns without knowing it are part of the system even if they are unaware.

For example: my brother, raised by a feminist alongside another feminist, still threw the sexist dogwhistle that the stats on rape were exaggerated (read: women lie about being raped) because his perception was that none of the women he knew had been raped because we hadn't mentioned it to him. He didn't have to be TRYING to be sexist at me to throw out that dogwhistle; he just had to not really think about how he might react if he were raped in this society because he's never had to. People like him don't get raped in popular discourse (reality is, as always different) whereas I grew up with the threat of rape being ever-present since I was a teenager.

The issue is, the ignorant give cover for the purposeful - as they are meant to. It would be really nice if the ignorant would instead give cover for those fighting back, but the world is as it is. Fighting back is much more threatening than enforcing the status quo, and always has been.
posted by Deoridhe at 2:25 PM on October 31, 2015 [7 favorites]


For those who may have missed it: Project Implicit. Princeton is studying implicit bias in all its forms. I had the lovely joy of discovering I am severely fatphobic (as in my delays were long enough I perceived them!) despite being fat, which was oodles of fun. I highly recommend taking a few tests at random and seeing what happens; a known bias can be corrected for, but an unknown bias does a lot of damage.
posted by Deoridhe at 2:28 PM on October 31, 2015 [6 favorites]


For those who may have missed it: Project Implicit. Princeton is studying implicit bias in all its forms.

The sleeper story here is that Princeton has apparently co-opted harvard.edu
posted by Going To Maine at 2:56 PM on October 31, 2015 [4 favorites]


Ugh, I always get them mixed up.
posted by Deoridhe at 4:32 PM on October 31, 2015 [1 favorite]


You poncy halfwitted overripe cudgels couldn't properly call someone names even if someone had to show you how to do it!
posted by loquacious at 2:47 PM on November 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


For those who may have missed it: Project Implicit. Princeton is studying implicit bias in all its forms. I had the lovely joy of discovering I am severely fatphobic (as in my delays were long enough I perceived them!) despite being fat, which was oodles of fun.

I haven't taken all the tests, but I took the anti-Black bias one and haaaaaaaaated that feeling of "MY FINGERS ARE BEING RACIST!!! ARGH!" It was a good reminder that the bias is there even though I'm a "good person," and so I need to account for that in my thinking.
posted by jaguar at 6:41 PM on November 1, 2015 [4 favorites]


Yeah, that site is scary. Everyone should be forced to take all the tests at least once a year though.
posted by miyabo at 6:59 PM on November 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


And we mean everyone!
posted by clavdivs at 8:39 PM on November 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


I am also an Anil Dash fan, but I am frustrated and want to point out that the reason gender isn't so much an issue at Stack Overflow is because the absolute, rock-bottom default assumption is that any given member is male.

See also.
posted by running order squabble fest at 12:55 PM on November 12, 2015


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