Correcting inaccurate posts October 3, 2017 1:02 AM   Subscribe

I recognize that as of three minutes ago this is irrelevant for the example post, but it's the sort of thing that could become relevant again. It was posted earlier today that Tom Petty was dead based on an erroneous news report from CBS. He in fact was not then, but is now. I understand it's not the policy to change an FPP once it's made. However, in this era of fake news and itchy-trigger-finger reporting, should there be some sort of Amendment to the Metafilter Constitution for these situations?

I am very much a "SOMETHING is WRONG on the INTERNET!" kind of person, so maybe this is just something that bothers me?
posted by rednikki to Etiquette/Policy at 1:02 AM (57 comments total)

First, sorry for the bit of delay putting this through while we were pretty busy followed by shift change, with the attendant catching up on things!

As to the suggestion, I don't want to say that we would absolutely never, ever, ever do some sort of update thing in any instance, but it's definitely not something that we have plans to introduce. Metafilter isn't a primary news source, posters aren't originating reporters, and posts aren't news articles. Linking to something that has been reported, (or some commentary, creative work, etc.), and then discussing that situation, article, or creative work – along with the updates as they come along, in the thread – is what we do as a site. Mods can completely delete a post if something is a hoax or similar and it makes more sense in the moment for the post to just be removed. In other instances the OP may decide to add tags that reflect more of the developing nature of a story, but the comments are where new information gets posted.

We don't want to get into a situation where we are changing the original post with updates as they come in, or making clarifications that we don't actually know are accurate, or updating the updates, or acting as editors or fact-checkers on the original post in any way. People shouldn't be looking for mod commentary at all in the posts themselves. We remain committed to very few moderator additions (NSFW, Content Warning, PDF, Flashing Lights, basically), and no changing or deleting of the original post text, or additional moderator-added commentary, or updates on the original post.

In this particular case, the first link in the post, to a news story, shows the updated status of the situation, which makes sense. The originating news sources are responsible for clarifying if their earlier reporting was incorrect ... and making sure their updated info is accurate.

That said, we do totally get the SOMETHING is WRONG on the INTERNET annoyance, and we can discuss. There is an earlier conversation about this issue in this Metatalk thread from a few years ago.
posted by taz (staff) at 1:06 AM on October 3 [1 favorite]


I don't want to say that we would absolutely never, ever, ever do some sort of update thing in any instance, but it's definitely not something that we have plans to introduce.

This is a classic statement of the time-honoured lore of the mods, a kind of universal response to every query.
posted by Segundus at 4:55 AM on October 3 [3 favorites]


I just want to reiterate how mortified I am about making the post prematurely. I am so sorry.
posted by Elly Vortex at 5:18 AM on October 3 [4 favorites]


To me this isn't to do with the inaccuracy of the news, but how Metafilter deals with obits/news of deaths in particular. I know that people want to immediately talk about X and share their experiences about X, but would it hurt a day or two so that a proper obit full of wonderful links can be created rather than the rather kneejerk souless posts we tend to have?
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 5:31 AM on October 3 [16 favorites]


I just want to reiterate how mortified I am about making the post prematurely. I am so sorry.

Not your fault, Elly Vortex. There were three different posts on this within about 5 minutes, all reporting his death, all from different news sources.

urbanwhaleshark, that would actually be my personal preference, too.
posted by taz (staff) at 5:34 AM on October 3 [12 favorites]


FWIW Elly, I'm not singling your post out here.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 5:44 AM on October 3 [4 favorites]


urbanwhaleshark, that would actually be my personal preference, too.

How about a 20 link minimum for an obit post?

I'm kidding, kind of. I know we don't like rules about what can be in a post, but I wouldn't mind a higher standard for obit posts.
posted by COD at 5:56 AM on October 3


I don't think correcting the post was needed, but maybe a disclaimer at the top like wikipedia does, "This is current news and may contain errors," or "At this time these reports are unconfirmed," or just put a 24 hour moratorium on all obits.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:27 AM on October 3


or just put a 24 hour moratorium on all obits

All obit posts should go into a special queue for (some amount, 24 is fine) hours, and then the Council of Mods could vote on their favorite and post it. Optionally, a MetaTalk thread could be created immediately after a death for people to workshop ideas/vent/reminisce while the official post is pending.
posted by mikepop at 6:32 AM on October 3 [4 favorites]


would it hurt a day or two so that a proper obit full of wonderful links can be created rather than the rather kneejerk souless posts we tend to have?

Yes, I think so. MetaFilter is a community, and when big things happen people want to come talk about it in their community.
posted by lalex at 6:52 AM on October 3 [14 favorites]


Hi Elly, I wasn't meaning to single you out either! It seemed like the perfect concrete example to use to discuss this. It's not the first time this happened (but, um, I didn't know about MetaTalk back then. Heck, I didn't know about Music until Burning Man this year!)
posted by rednikki at 8:16 AM on October 3 [1 favorite]


See, now if more of you had voted #1 quidnunc kid, none of this would have happened. Not to say I told you so, but I told you so. If the quidnunc kid were #1 yesterday, all deaths would have been certain. He would have made sure everyone was dead, even the most valued members of our community. Then mistakes like this would never happen.

Once again, I implore you to vote #1 quidnunc kid. Certainty of death is extremely important in everyone's life, and he'll make sure we have it. Thank you for your consideration.
posted by Capt. Renault at 8:33 AM on October 3 [12 favorites]


I think this particular case was an outlier and a thing where CBS was trying to get a scoop on TMZ's scoop and just a super fucked up situtation. Unfortunately, a ton of other outlets ran with the premature CBS report. It's impossible for posters on this site to fact check stuff when it's supposedly been confirmed by a major mainstream source.

Additionally, yesterday was just a fucked day for the mods due Vegas/gun control.

Elly Vortex, you really shouldn't feel bad for posting as you had fuck all to do with the news timeline on that.

Could there be maybe a two hour embargo/queue on obit posts?
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 9:21 AM on October 3 [2 favorites]


I think a short queue for obits would be good because often the second or third versions of obits can be higher quality than the f1rst!!!1!
posted by Room 641-A at 9:25 AM on October 3 [3 favorites]


Once again, I implore you to vote #1 quidnunc kid. Certainty of death is extremely important in everyone's life, and he'll make sure we have it.

Fake news! Vote #1 quidnunc kid for MULTIPLE OBITS for everyone.

That's right: under a quidnunc kid Godship, anyone who dies leaving an unsatisfactory obit will be allowed to live their life through again, getting a second chance at leaving the perfect obit. And if that second obit isn't good enough, they can come back again for a third attempt. As Room 641-A so almost-perfectly puts it, "often the second or third versions of obits can be higher quality than the f1rst!!!1!".

I mean, Room 641-A will probably want to have a second incarnation just to fix that weird misspelling of "first", but ... well, ol' Roomy's got a lot of living to get through before we need to clean that up.

My point here is that a vote for quidnunc kid is a vote for do-overs, because no-one is perfect (not on their first attempt, anyway). So vote #1 quidnunc kid as your Do-Over Deity, your Mulligan Messiah, your Groundhog-Life God - because even if it's a mistake to do so, you can always fix it in your "life 2.0".
posted by the quidnunc kid at 9:55 AM on October 3 [35 favorites]


Fuck going through junior high again!
posted by Burhanistan at 9:59 AM on October 3 [2 favorites]


As much as I love the idea of a 24 hour limit, obit posts are as much about remembering a life as a way for people to express their sadness in the moment they heard about the news. I think we would loose a lot of that with a delay. I would hate to see those comments go (even when they’re just the “oh fuck no” kind of thing).
posted by not_the_water at 10:06 AM on October 3 [4 favorites]


> How about a 20 link minimum for an obit post?

I'm kidding, kind of.


Well, to address the not-kidding part: no, "20 links" is not only not a guarantee of a high-quality post, it turns off people like me, who think for whatever strange reason that a good MeFi post is a link to something good on the web, not a college-education-in-a-jar. I would really like to stamp out this "more links are better" idea.
posted by languagehat at 10:39 AM on October 3 [20 favorites]


And specifically, a single "X is dead" link is just fine and all that's needed for an obit post. (It helps, of course, if X is actually dead.) As many links as desired can be provided in the thread.
posted by languagehat at 10:40 AM on October 3 [1 favorite]


How about a 20 link minimum for an obit post?

CHALLENGE ACCEPTED


I said that just to make languagehat twitch :D
posted by zarq at 10:42 AM on October 3 [3 favorites]


*twitch*
posted by languagehat at 10:43 AM on October 3 [13 favorites]


Fuck going through junior high again!

But don't you see - you'll have already have done the required reading in your first life, you'll already know all the answers to every pop quiz! So you can just skip most classes, and when it comes time for an exam you'll just stroll in there and blammo! A+, no study! Plus, you'll know all the cool bands, hairstyles and slang even BEFORE they were/are cool. You'll be like, all the best parts of Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Back to the Future, Freaky Friday, that episode of Rick and Morty when Rick goes to Morty and Summer's school in a younger version of his body, and 21 Jump Street, all at the SAME TIME.

So yeah - think about THAT, while you tear down your existing idols and worship #1 quidnunc kid as your new God. And what's that existing God even offering you - eternity of hellfire, slim chance of salvation? Fuck THAT shit! I'll get you get "Back to the Freaky Day 21 'n' Morty", or my name isn't Satan! Uhh - no wait, "quidnunc", I mean. Totally not a sockpuppet for Satan! No yeah but heh heh I mean, uh ... OK just sign this contract in blood, spit on a crucifix and let's not even worry about "who" is really "who". Time to get Freaky!!! Vote #1!
posted by the quidnunc kid at 10:45 AM on October 3 [6 favorites]


And specifically, a single "X is dead" link is just fine and all that's needed for an obit post. (It helps, of course, if X is actually dead.) As many links as desired can be provided in the thread.

I can understand not wanting to create an expectation that all obits be megaposts.

But I would not place the content after the "More Inside" in say, this FPP, into that post's first comment instead.

Doing so could create a chilling effect on commenting that is much less likely to occur if it's included in the post itself.
posted by zarq at 10:51 AM on October 3 [1 favorite]


And specifically, a single "X is dead" link is just fine and all that's needed for an obit post. (It helps, of course, if X is actually dead.) As many links as desired can be provided in the thread.

I basically agree with this for the deaths of people who are reasonably well-known by Mefites.

On the spectrum of MetaFilter posts, I think such obituaries are way over on the "here's a place for the community to gather" end, as opposed to the "look, here's something interesting or cool" end, and I think the community would lose out by having a 48-hour queue.

"Here's a place for the community to talk" is also how I view the political megathreads and, idk, as a person who has posted a fair amount of those, collecting links for the sake of collecting links kind of sucks. There's an expectation that the post will contain a sort of summary of events, except no one really ever addresses any of the specific articles linked in the post.

This is both because folks following those threads are already pretty familiar with the subject matter and because it's understood that the post is just a vehicle for everyone to gather and talk about the subject. I basically feel the same way about obit posts for well-known people.
posted by lalex at 11:07 AM on October 3 [4 favorites]


Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead.
posted by terrapin at 11:23 AM on October 3 [12 favorites]


This is a classic statement of the time-honoured lore of the mods, a kind of universal response to every query.

It's not really a universal reply, it's more on a case-by-case basis.

You'll be like, all the best parts of Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Back to the Future, Freaky Friday, that episode of Rick and Morty when Rick goes to Morty and Summer's school in a younger version of his body, and 21 Jump Street, all at the SAME TIME.

How 'bout throwing a little Touched By An Angel in there, too. Or would that be weird?
posted by octobersurprise at 12:25 PM on October 3 [1 favorite]


How about a 20 link minimum for an obit post?

CHALLENGE ACCEPTED


Man, you're not even in the top 20 and I'm not even top 50. Clearly, we need Rhaomi, hippybear, and JHarris.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 3:05 PM on October 3 [1 favorite]


We should pool our resources one day and create a single post with over a thousand links.
posted by zarq at 3:09 PM on October 3 [1 favorite]


posted by the quidnunc kid

I miss you! Poast moar!
posted by Room 641-A at 3:11 PM on October 3 [1 favorite]


Wait; are we voting #1 quidnunc kid or #1 sithrak? Because frankly I'm not seeing much difference any more.
posted by yhbc at 3:39 PM on October 3 [2 favorites]


We should pool our resources one day and create a single post with over a thousand links.

I think stav did that once, it was a mess
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:50 PM on October 3 [6 favorites]


> Wait; are we voting #1 quidnunc kid or #1 sithrak? Because frankly I'm not seeing much difference any more.

Heresy!!

Is this our first schism?
posted by languagehat at 4:45 PM on October 3


I miss you! Poast moar!

Reader, permit me to note these interesting words. One human person, whose history I cannot attest, whose provenance I know not, reaches out across the void of our world to press a gentle hand into my own.

The touch of this warm hand, formed of sweet words, then sweetens my own heart, a heart whose history, whose provenance, is also unknown to it - save that gentleness and care do not seek to invigilate their happy victims, but the voyage of such warmth is completed to have warmed that which it touches.

Thus MetaFilter I commend to you this warmth, and I would reflect it to you all. These are cold times, and many here have and do suffer in them; the fact of it does not fail to fill my eyes and brain with tears. Thus I'll reflect these words and warmth to you all: post more, dear hearts. I miss you.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 5:13 PM on October 3 [11 favorites]


And specifically, a single "X is dead" link is just fine

What if Z's dead?
posted by GuyZero at 6:13 PM on October 3 [2 favorites]


And specifically, a single "X is dead" link is just fine and all that's needed for an obit post.

To be clear, this is not the official position on this - we've been pushing back hard on contentless obit posts lately, and feel pretty strongly that if you're going to make a post, it needs to link to something of substance. One link is fine, if it's a good link to an informative obit. One link to a newswire service reporting a death has a good chance of being deleted.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 6:16 PM on October 3 [3 favorites]


I think stav did that once, it was a mess
That took me down the rabbit hole from I like to watch to I like stavros. I like copyright infringement. to the glorious Poo and it's attendent BLAST HER.
posted by unliteral at 7:18 PM on October 3


Someone on twitter explained the confusion about Petty's death as that someone stood him up at the gates of Hell but he wouldn't back down.
posted by hippybear at 7:40 PM on October 3 [3 favorites]


We should pool our resources one day and create a single post with over a thousand links.


I've been on a kick of reading about the devastating wars of reformation and counter-reformation, to better understand modern state doctrine in order to understand the stage for international laws and norms In The 20th century in order to better understand the limits of state power and how what is now occurring (in The West) can be thought of as the "end" of a certain kind of concept of state power.

Bonus: In the name of the most holy and individual Trinity: Be it known to all, and every one whom it may concern, or to whom in any manner it may belong, That for many Years past, Discords and Civil Divisions being stir'd up in the Roman Empire
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:13 PM on October 3 [2 favorites]


I don't understand why the post wasn't deleted. It was an obit post for someone who wasn't dead. Many obit posts have been deleted even though they are about someone who just died.
posted by John Cohen at 11:30 PM on October 3


The post and comments were well under way before CBS retracted their initial confirmation of death, John Cohen. Many other outlets had picked up the incorrect CBS report and it was all over the internet that he had died before he actually had died. Metafilter wasn't the only site dealing with this particular clusterfuck.

Once the report was retracted he did die within hours. So yeah, it was premature but it was based on info available at the time. Shit happens.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 11:52 PM on October 3 [1 favorite]


I just want to reiterate how mortified I am about making the post prematurely. I am so sorry.

Don't be. It was not your fault. Everyone was taken by surprise when he turned out to not be dead.
posted by zarq at 4:31 AM on October 4 [3 favorites]


I don't understand why the post wasn't deleted. It was an obit post for someone who wasn't dead.

Well, he's dead now, John. Are you happy?
posted by octobersurprise at 5:57 AM on October 4 [5 favorites]


On the spectrum of MetaFilter posts, I think such obituaries are way over on the "here's a place for the community to gather" end, as opposed to the "look, here's something interesting or cool" end, and I think the community would lose out by having a 48-hour queue.

I haven't heard them described this way before and it's a really apt description. They're sort of similar to newsfilter in that they're centered around an event. Something that has happened that we can talk about.
posted by zarq at 6:43 AM on October 4


> To be clear, this is not the official position on this - we've been pushing back hard on contentless obit posts lately, and feel pretty strongly that if you're going to make a post, it needs to link to something of substance. One link is fine, if it's a good link to an informative obit. One link to a newswire service reporting a death has a good chance of being deleted.

Yeah, I should have been clearer: I agree with everything you just said, and when I talked about a single "X is dead" link I presumed the link was a decent one. Crappy links make for crappy posts no matter the subject.
posted by languagehat at 8:01 AM on October 4


Almost entirely without exception, nobody ever talks about the links anyway. Why not just go ahead and admit that linkless posts are fine so that people can post their personal reminiscences and and dots without all the needless formality.
posted by Wolfdog at 9:00 AM on October 4


I asked in comments once if I could make the new political megathread just be a link to @infinite_scream. I was only partially joking.
posted by lalex at 9:03 AM on October 4


Yeah, a single quite-good link can be fine for an obit. A nice retrospective roundup on someone's life or creative work or so forth as the grounding for a discussion about same works nicely.

But we do get single not very good link obits, and they get nixed; the first Petty post was (with no ill intentions from the poster I'm sure) one at the time poor link, just "RIP Tom" linking to a few placeholder paragraphs on Rolling Stone before they actually got the article put together.

The distinction mostly only comes up at all when it's a surprise; someone who has been knowingly doing poorly health-wise or has been out of the public eye for a long time or just well on into old age is going to be the subject of solid, pre-drafted retrospective obits already and you don't get the Oh Shit WHAT rush that comes with breaking news dynamics. And when there is that sense of surprise, brief, poorly constructed posts are most likely, which is where both most mod work comes in and where the perception of single-link-as-bad obit posts comes in.

Petty's a sort of middling case where the death is a surprise but he's got that long body of work that means retrospective stuff will come together quickly; it's a good argument for holding off for at least a basic attempt at a roundup one way or the other, with a collection of links probably being a workable approach a little bit sooner than a single link retrospective. With folks shocked and wanting to talk about it, that means a "here's a few different content/history links supplementing the newness of the announcement" style post is the likeliest to stick.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:07 AM on October 4 [2 favorites]


My point here is that a vote for quidnunc kid is a vote for do-overs, because no-one is perfect (not on their first attempt, anyway).

Which is why I'm voting #2 quidnunc kid.
posted by chavenet at 2:14 PM on October 4 [2 favorites]


Good Axe Cop, Bad Axe Cop
posted by y2karl at 4:56 PM on October 4


Which is why I'm voting #2 quidnunc kid.

You are dead to me.
posted by Capt. Renault at 6:24 AM on October 5 [1 favorite]


Note that 2 is merely two times one, hence voting #2 obviously involves voting #1 twice. For this reason I entirely support anyone voting #2 quidnunc kid - as two is (on rough calculation) MORE than one. And 2 in binary is 10! So you're actually voting #10 quidnunc kid, which is like, a WHOLE LOTTA quidnunc kid! I mean ... ahh ... it's probably a little too much quidnunc kid? Could you, uh, maybe ... dial it back on the quidnunc kid there? Seriously, I mean ... he's REALLY fucking tedious. Did you even read this very comment he wrote? It's STILL going on and there isn't even, like, any point to the fucking thing. So, seriously, just vote #0 quidnunc kid, as 0 is less than 1. Which means it comes before 1. So that means it's actually better than 1 when you want to figure out who is first!!! Jesus fucking Christ am I still writing this comment? Am I still actually writing words, what the fuck is even the POINT of me?!?!?! OK, so: vote #quidnunc kid. Don't even use numbers. Just hashtag the stupid motherfucker! "OMG I just wasted 4 minutes of my life reading the stupidest paragraph ever written, gee thanks #quidnunckid" - that's probably how you'd use it. Wait, am I still typing in this fucking comment box? Ah - OK, I'll just press this "Post Comment" button, that'll clear out ALL the text I've written so I won't ever have to look at it again. I wonder where it goes, though?
posted by the quidnunc kid at 8:45 AM on October 5 [3 favorites]


metafilter: He ain't dead yet.

edit window: I'm talking about Morgan Freeman this time.
posted by mule98J at 11:37 AM on October 5


*puts on a "the quidnunc kid is number two" t-shirt*
posted by hippybear at 8:03 PM on October 5 [1 favorite]


Yes, I think so. MetaFilter is a community, and when big things happen people want to come talk about it in their community.

Agree entirely. I think we will lose a lot if we wait. A lot of the conversations we might have had will end up on other social media if we wait 24 hours. And I'd much rather have those conversations with you all. Plus, without an FPP, I think some of the grieving will bleed into comments on other posts, like the Vegas comments were hard to keep out of the US politics thread.

I like the big linky obits, but I honestly think the sooner, the better.

In this particular case, I think we should have added a line to the original post stating the updated news so that every 10th person didn't feel like they had to say "he isn't dead, tho." I don't anticipate this will happen often, so I'm not sure the mods need to actually create a rule about it.
posted by greermahoney at 9:49 PM on October 5


I'm so darn glad he let me try it again
Cause my last time on Earth I lived a whole world of sin
I'm so glad that I know more than I knew then
I'm gonna keep on voting
vote #1 quidnunc kid

posted by Meatbomb at 9:19 AM on October 8 [1 favorite]


the quidnunc kid is number two

An emoji comes to mind...
posted by y2karl at 1:11 PM on October 14


🥈?
posted by Burhanistan at 1:37 PM on October 14


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