Resetting expectations about U.S. political discussion on MetaFilter November 28, 2017 7:45 AM   Subscribe

Hey folks, big discussion time. We're going to be making some changes on how U.S. political discussion plays out on MetaFilter, to try and make sure it remains available as a useful resource in a way that isn't as unsustainable as the current approach has been. I’ll lay out some concrete steps we’re taking, and some general thoughts, below. This is detailed but important and I appreciate you taking the time to read through it.

First off: we're not getting rid of political discussion threads. A lot of people in this community find real value in them, and politics has always been part of the mix on MetaFilter to some degree. In this weird and difficult period in history especially I can't see that changing.

That said, there are practical difficulties with how discussion of in particular US politics is going. The current megathread approach, with a new huge catch-all thread starting every few days and several hundred comments every day, week after week, is unsustainable. As a moderation team we're exhausted by keeping up with them; as a source of information about what's going on, they're very noisy and difficult to keep up with and have left lots of potential readers and commenters feeling excluded.

This is something the mod team met about last weekend, specifically to discuss in detail. It's an untenable situation, that we need to take action on at this point. We ended up talking about some of this a fair amount in this recent MetaTalk thread, but we'd planned already during our meeting to make this sort of MetaTalk post this week to lay out the situation in detail.

This is a big, complicated issue, because there's lots of pieces of community dynamics in play. There are a bunch of both cultural and mechanical approaches to parts of the problem. We can't tackle it all at once, but we need to start somewhere and see how it goes.

And so what we're aiming for right now is this: reining in the pace and content of these catch-all threads. We want them to be slower, more information dense, less chatty, and to consequently be fewer and farther between. That's going to require a lot of help from the community, and a lot of extra moderation effort in the short term to reset people's expectations.

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What that means in specific terms:

1. We're asking people in general to throttle way back on some specific in-thread behaviors.

These include:

- live-blogging and other real-time, contextless riffing on day-to-day stuff (White House press conferences in particular, but also other random "someone is talking on camera" events)
- linking in "look what THIS asshole said" stuff, whether that asshole is some rando on the internet or the current head of the US government
- writing up fake "what if they said/did THIS dumb or outrageous thing" quotes and scenarios
- rehashing arguments that have been had a bunch of times in previous threads over last months/years
- literally reiterating/duplicating comments from previous threads
- posting links to articles or events that have been covered upthread or in previous discussions
- linking in at-best-tangentially-related US or world news
- generalized repetitive "x is bad" griping—x being bad can be true without needing endless restatement, specific new "this thing is bad and here's why" comments are more useful and interesting
- generalized doomsaying or venting—discussing how and why specific things are worrying can make sense, but "we're all gonna die/we're fucked/it's hopeless" stuff is just wearying
- letting the stress of the current situation translate into heated comments toward other MeFites in general
- generally filling time during slow periods in political news with idle chatter; better to go somewhere other than the catch-all thread and participate in something else

That's not an exhaustive list, but those are some of the major things we've seen cause these threads to balloon in size day after day. Working with us and with each other on these points would be huge for how readable, useful, and manageable these discussions are.

None of those should need to be absolutes—truly exceptional cases will continue to come up, and in measured doses most of this stuff is okay—but need to see a significant improvement on the mix of this stuff. So as a mod team we'll be pushing hard to enforce these expectations with active deletion of comments and mod notes redirecting folks' behavior.

On the flipside, some of the stuff we definitely see as valuable in those threads:

- links to small- or medium-sized substantial developments about the admin, the US government, and related matters (big/complicated stuff may be better off with its own dedicated post)
- thoughtful discussion of substantially new, non-hypothetical situations or developments
- short, self-terminating explorations of some specific non-trivial wrinkle in the current situation (vs cyclical, endless back-and-forth)
- links to good external resources on a given topic (details on law/regulation, history of x, someone's daily/weekly roundup of events, and so on)
- links to specific past discussions of a recurring topic in place of taking that topic up again
- concise digests of live events like press conferences (two or three summary comments is useful and helpful for catching up the way 50 or 100 spit takes aren't)

Again, that's not an exhaustive list, and lots of stuff not on it is still a welcome part of the mix in the threads *in constrained measures*. But those things, done thoughtfully, all tend to create a thread that's both reasonably paced and dense with useful/referenceable information.


2. We'll be working more actively with high-volume participants to adjust how they're engaging with threads.

One issue with the current state of the catch-all threads is that a fairly small group of people are responsible for a large share of the comments. Which as a one-off thing in this or that thread isn't inherently a problem—everybody gets passionate about a topic sometimes—but as an ongoing pattern from thread to thread it becomes stifling to other voices and create a sense that these aren't so much inclusive MetaFilter community discussions as they are US Politics Regulars discussions.

So if you're a heavy participant in these threads on a regular basis, there's a good chance we'll be reaching out to you directly to ask you to tweak or re-examine one or another aspect of how you engage with those threads. Generally that's not an issue of bad behavior, just one of double-checking some commenting habits and being more aware of the share of oxygen you're using up in a group discussion context.

I want to emphasize that this is mostly a practical/need issue; I appreciate how much thought and passion folks have put into these discussions, both the more regular participants and the folks commenting here and there or around the edges. Community participation on the site is a good and valued thing, and in a logistically different universe we might be able to accommodate it without any changes. But we are limited to the resources we actually have, and so we do need to push for some change as far as how this participation and energy gets used on the site, just to keep our actual situation manageable.

3. We're okay with folks opting to make new stand-alone posts for major developments.

While we don't want to see a lot more individual politics posts on the front page, there are some things that have ended up as major subthreads in the megathreads that would probably work better as their own discussions, both so that that individual discussion can be more focused and detailed and so that the catch-all thread doesn't become difficult to use to follow everything else. And with the US Politics widget available as a per-person filter, we can manage a little more leeway on this without overwhelming users who really need a break from it.

So for things that are really significant or meaty, we'd like folks to consider framing up a new solid post on the situation rather than digging in on it in the catch-all. We will aim to prompt folks about that directly when we see it, but it's also okay to reach out via the contact form if you want a mod opinion.

Note that this is gonna be a pretty case-by-case thing, so the mod team may decide that a given post isn't a great idea after all, just like with any other posting decision. That's not a rebuke, just part of the process of figuring out a new balance on this. Or in some cases something may merit a new stand-alone post...in a couple days when there's more to actually work with. Again, when in doubt feel free to reach out to the mods.

4. We're encouraging folks to put their energy elsewhere on the site.

People have been spending a lot of time and energy in the political megathreads. I believe that reflects a mix of (a) actual usefulness/need, which is fine, and (b) sheer habit or a sense of "that's where everybody is", which isn't great either individually or for the site as a whole.

So as a broader aspirational thing, I'm going to ask that people try to redirect some of the energy and attention that they habitually put into these megathreads to all the other stuff on the site. While there are exceptions in this as in all things (and that's okay if you're one of them), most folks did not come to MetaFilter originally or solely for megathread political discussion, and I’d like you all to remember and return some attention to the things you did come here for and help that stuff blossom. I would like these huge political threads to have less dominating of a footprint on the site's daily activity. I want that as a mod for reasons stated above but also as a member and participant who loves the broad potential of this site to be a good, valuable place on the web well beyond its function as a water cooler specifically for the awfulness that is the prevailing political climate.

I know that all MetaFilter participation/energy isn't fungible. I don't believe that "just care about other stuff instead" is a universally workable approach to the state of things, and I'm not asking that. But I think it's very easy to end up falling into a glum or obsessive habit of thinking of the site too much as where-the-megathread-is, rather than thinking of the megathread as one thing on a large site full of other valuable and interesting stuff.

On the mod side, we're going to actively facilitate some of this alternate-ways-to-spend-your-energy stuff as best we can, by fostering or organizing fun or community-centric stuff on the site. We're doing another Best Post contest to finish out the year, we're aiming to do more work on FanFare to make it easier to find and participate in discussions there, we're looking at doubling down on the sidebar and "check out this fun thread" stuff, etc. To the extent that megathreads have become a sort of default hangout on the site for a lot of folks, we'd like to (and would like your help to) make it more obvious that there's a lot of other options on MetaFilter for that as well.

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So, that's where we're starting. There are other issues with the site to talk about, and there are other things we can do to try and improve the health and balance of MeFi and its community, including some mechanical pony-request stuff that we'll continue to make progress on. But this is our immediate focus and where a lot of moderation energy is going to be dedicated in the very near future. We'll see how it goes and will follow up soon.

Now that you’ve read through all of this, I’ll reiterate that we've ended up talking about a fair amount of this stuff in the last week, in this recent metatalk thread, and so it may be worth your time if this general situation is news to you to give that a read or at least skim for the [staff] comments before responding in here with any variation on the idea that not-changing-things is a workable option. We need to make some changes on this stuff, for reasons outlined above and in many of the comments in that previous thread.

And to an extent we've seen a bit of improvement already in the current catch-all discussions over the last week! I think partly as a result of us nudging a bit more and partly from folks just taking that recent discussion to heart. I want to thank y'all for that; it gives me hope that we can get to where we need to with this with your help.

All of this is effective basically immediately, though as far as the catch-all threads go it will be easiest to highlight this and press the issue on thread contents when the next one starts. We'd ask folks in any current threads to start heeding this stuff in any case, however.

Thanks, everybody, for your cooperation on this.
posted by cortex to Etiquette/Policy at 7:45 AM (457 comments total) 178 users marked this as a favorite

First, thanks for this post, and thanks for trying to re-shape the site discussions to be better for the mods, and all users of the site.

Second, thank you thank you THANK YOU to the moderator team for keeping up with this level of frenzy for over a year!

A practical question: when you write We're asking people in general to throttle way back on some specific in-thread behaviors, how are you looking to enforce this? I ask not to put you on the spot or force an answer, but to understand in advance. I think that initial list of things to Stop Doing makes sense, and I'll do my part to not include those items, but will the mod team be deleting more of those type of comments early on in threads to shape how they develop and avoid the bulk and time/life sink that is the semi-chat nature of the political mega-threads?
posted by filthy light thief at 7:59 AM on November 28 [26 favorites]


Yeah, more deletions, especially up front as we're resetting. We also expect this will be a process, where we're working with the community on the details as we go, to try to reach a new equilibrium, and we can hash things out in here as we go. I think once we start to have a higher signal-to-noise ratio in these threads, it'll be pretty natural for most folks to adjust their participation to that and we'll see a natural drop-off in some of the noise stuff. Once we're there for a little while we can reassess.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 8:00 AM on November 28 [8 favorites]


Thank you for this, cortex. And thank you for trying to work through the issues instead of shutting down the politics threads all together, which would probably have been an easier option for the Mod team.

Are you placing a link to this in the current politics thread? I think there should be one, and also a link within each new politics post to this thread to make sure everyone is aware of the community's expectations.
posted by zarq at 8:02 AM on November 28 [10 favorites]


Can you clarify the guidelines around live-blogging?*

I really do appreciate the information content during events that I cannot watch during the day, specifically comments like:

>> Comey: "The president told me XYZ. I knew this to be a lie"

while comments like:

>> WTFBBQ, cannot believe he said that!!!!

are uselessly content-free, and I can live without them, for sure.

*I'm hoping for some live hearings soon *cough* come on Mueller! *cough*
posted by Dashy at 8:02 AM on November 28 [33 favorites]


Aiming more for maybe a couple of paragraph-long summary comments at the end of a short presser, rather than two dozen one-liners during.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 8:04 AM on November 28 [33 favorites]


Are you placing a link to this in the current politics thread?

I linked to it in the current thread. It disappeared, but I think that’s because cortex linked it again. But it’s there.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 8:04 AM on November 28 [1 favorite]


Thank you, Barack Spinoza.
posted by zarq at 8:05 AM on November 28 [1 favorite]


For something big like the Comey or Muller (come on!) hearings, that would get its own thread under the new guidelines, right?
posted by Wulfhere at 8:06 AM on November 28 [1 favorite]


"also a link within each new politics post to this thread to make sure everyone is aware of the community's expectations."

Yeah, we're talking about this, and may have mods insert a line and a link at the bottom of new politics posts. (Or, once we have some good phrasing, I assume many users will just do it themselves when they create the post.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 8:08 AM on November 28


For a very big hearing, probably a separate thread; for a medium one, we'd try to have it in the catch-all and ask people to take liveblogging to Chat and put somewhat more substantial summaries etc in the catchall.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 8:08 AM on November 28


Would there be any benefit to including a link to these guidelines in the FPPs of the megathreads? When a new megathread goes up it will probably see a flurry of people that don't generally follow the megathreads religiously, so a link to this may help that group?
posted by Twain Device at 8:08 AM on November 28 [3 favorites]


4. We're encouraging folks to put their energy elsewhere on the site.

It's only now that you've said this that I've noticed myself really neglecting many of the other posts on the site. Metafilter has become the politics megathread for me.

And that kind of sucks, because most of the time they really aren't very enjoyable. Important, sure, but not necessarily pleasant.
posted by leotrotsky at 8:09 AM on November 28 [50 favorites]


(Apologies, I see I have been beaten to the suggestion. Thanks mods!)
posted by Twain Device at 8:09 AM on November 28


Point 4 seems healthy, as long as it doesn't get all cache 22.
posted by Artw at 8:11 AM on November 28 [2 favorites]


> I'm going to ask that people try to redirect some of the energy and attention that they habitually put into these megathreads to all the other stuff on the site.

I haven't taken the time to scroll through AskMeFi for a year now. I love AskMeFi, and used to read every title. Dammit, your request is well-placed, cortex.
posted by klarck at 8:11 AM on November 28 [4 favorites]


It's simple and clean
Keeps the front page pristine
If you need a space
For a one-liner race
Don't forget where it's at
Log in to Chat
Burma-Shave
posted by deezil at 8:11 AM on November 28 [71 favorites]


Crazy thought/pony: Maybe just above the text input box (and I don't know if this can be done only in the megathreads) there should be a little note:


"Might what you want to say be better discussed in Chat?"

Because, much to my shame, sometimes I straight up forget it exists and even now I had to check the wiki for the link because I somehow blanked that very simple link.
posted by Freon at 8:12 AM on November 28 [11 favorites]


I haven't taken the time to scroll through AskMeFi for a year now. I love AskMeFi, and used to read every title. Dammit, your request is well-placed, cortex.

I'm actually reading AskMe more now because the politics threads have been so stressful.

Fanfare and AskMe in particular can be good for de-stressing. Also, Johnny Wallflower's posts.
posted by zarq at 8:14 AM on November 28 [17 favorites]


And so as not to abuse the edit window: Also, sometimes it's just helping people be mindful. I find, for example, subreddits that when you mouse over the downvote arrow and they have a tooltip pop up saying "This is not a disagree button" is a very effective technique on me at any rate.
posted by Freon at 8:15 AM on November 28 [3 favorites]


"Might what you want to say be better discussed in Chat?"

Is moderation of Chat still going to remain almost entirely hands-off?
posted by zarq at 8:15 AM on November 28 [4 favorites]


It's only now that you've said this that I've noticed myself really neglecting many of the other posts on the site.

I have totally noticed this. Not about you leotrotsky, but about site participation in general especially in AskMe where I basically live. Some of this may be time-of-year, some of it may be ebb and flow of online communities, but I think some of it is linked to the megathreads and people's tendency to camp in them and have that be their primary place for participation (and arguing about them in Meta). I think a little fine tuning of that is likely to have sitewide benefits and I appreciate the mods' willingness to dive in and try to do this.

Part of this will, I think, be about nurturing Chat as a place people like to be, which might require slightly more moderation in there (just responding to "Hey so and so is being a weird creep") and people's willingness to view it as a shared space and be willing to report on anti-community behavior in there. Chat is perfect for live blogging and, iirc, was maybe being archived somewhere? Maybe I am wrong about that (mods?).

It is worth reading this longer mod statement for what it is: reinforcement of the fact that the site can't be all-political-things to all people and a pretty polite request that if the thing you want is on the list of "things you can't get" that you work with the mod team and the community to find useful workarounds. No one wants people to feel shut out, but there needs to be some readjustment of how some discussions take place here to keep the place sustainable.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 8:16 AM on November 28 [12 favorites]


[sorry my comment was not intended to be a response to zarq since I have no idea what is planned tho on preview it does look like that]
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 8:17 AM on November 28


Moderation of Chat has always been pretty explicitly reactive: we don't actively monitor it, but if folks tell us something's up we'll come take a look, check out the recent logs, and if need be intercede or give someone the boot.

If folks end up using it more regularly in a way that means we need to modify a bit what the moderation interaction dynamic is there, we can look at that. But in general, if something's weird, hit us up at the contact form and we'll take a look.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:18 AM on November 28 [5 favorites]


Okay, thank you cortex.

Thanks to you too, Jessamyn. :)
posted by zarq at 8:19 AM on November 28 [1 favorite]


the site can't be all-political-things to all people

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR SAYING THIS.
posted by Melismata at 8:21 AM on November 28 [9 favorites]


Chat is perfect for live blogging and, iirc, was maybe being archived somewhere? Maybe I am wrong about that (mods?).

We don't archive it at all, no. What we do do is keep a 24 hour rolling log of recent chat activity so if someone pings us about something problematic that happened an hour or go or last night, we can read over that. But beyond that, Chat is just ephemeral.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:22 AM on November 28 [6 favorites]


Thanks for making these changes; I appreciate that they weren't easily arrived at.
posted by michaelh at 8:22 AM on November 28 [6 favorites]


I totally understand the need for these changes and support them and at the sane time am freaking out about them internally because for the last year, the megathreads have literally helped keep me sane on more than one occasion. I feel like they're our Cheers and even if I'm an extra and not Cliff or Norm, I feel like they've been the only place online or offline I can go to interact with like minded people in an open way.

That said, the well being of the site genuinely does need to outweigh my selfish psychological needs. Has chat become less MRA? I'll try nesting there and maybe that will help keep me from freaking out. I'll also see if I can move my next session with my therapist up because the level of anxiety this makes me feel is really disconcerting.

Anyhow, good moves, I support and will do my best to adhere to them, I'll deal with my own internal reaction alone from here on out.
posted by Joey Michaels at 8:27 AM on November 28 [34 favorites]


posting links to articles or events that have been covered upthread or in previous discussions

Doing an automatic "has this link been posted already" check during the comment validation process would help. Counting on people to manually do so is never going to be reliable.
posted by Candleman at 8:27 AM on November 28 [18 favorites]


Many thanks to the mod team for taking the time to reflect on MeFi/MeTa politics in the current era and for sharing your thoughts with the community, to say nothing of all the caretaking that's gone into the megathreads.

In regard to Cortex's points, I'll try to throttle back on the chatter (1) and to return to participating in other areas of the site as well (4). Would it help to flag derails, noise, "other", etc. more frequently in the megathreads as we put these guidelines into practice? Also, on the topic of venting, would it help to have a running WTF thread up in MeTa, or are those as hard to mod for the team in the longterm as the megathreads?

I have one specific content-related question: On the principle of avoiding "look what THIS asshole said" when it comes to @realdonaldtrump, I've found that practically every other tweet provides some sort of insight into his thinking, and we've all noticed he often gets crazier and more prolific just before a damaging news story breaks or when something significant happens behind the scenes (as with the FBI raid on Manafort's condo). How much is enough for context and commentary, as a rule of thumb? A link or two to news stories, or just some reactions from pundits on Twitter?

Thanks again,
posted by Doktor Zed at 8:29 AM on November 28 [3 favorites]


With his tweets, that is a very difficult question we've debated and are still uncertain about. Ideally, maybe a roundup kind of thing? Because they're newsworthy in the sense you describe, but posting individual tweets will inevitably kick off a round of one-liner responses, and that's what we want to avoid.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 8:31 AM on November 28 [1 favorite]


As I read this I began to associate cortex less with the neocortex of the brain and more with the adrenal cortex responsible for the stress hormone cortisol.

The stress on the mods must be crazy, and I've done my part adding to it.

Needless to say the megathreads, among other very valuable functions in these uncertain times, have become a kind of communal rite where we explore our righteous indignation, confusion, fear, anxiety, contempt, and also obsession and dissociation by means of distraction, akin to the kind of non-feeling feeling while watching a horrorshow in paralysis. In those threads we feel mostly safe running into our intense and often long-lasting emotions, but this possibility never comes without the cost of labour and resources, and I feel that the world "unsustainable" said it all. We need to adapt.

I applaud the mods for taking these steps in a thoughtful and open-minded way. The first adjustments are always difficult but I believe we can meet with them meaningfully as a community, in benign regard of each other.

Many thanks.
posted by runcifex at 8:34 AM on November 28 [2 favorites]


Also, on the topic of venting, would it help to have a running WTF thread up in MeTa, or are those as hard to mod for the team in the longterm as the megathreads?

I think they've been helpful and continuing them is worth doing as a venting/anxiety/bummer outlet, yeah. They turn out not to be a huge drain on moderation energy, I think mostly because they're more focused and essentially opt-in. Chucking that same stuff scattershot into the larger general megathread discussions is more of a problem than doing so in a space where people are more braced and there-for-that to begin with.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:36 AM on November 28 [6 favorites]


"Has chat become less MRA?"

I remember exactly what you mean (from before I was a mod), and as far as we can tell, the big MRA chatters have closed their accounts as MetaFilter became less-friendly to MRAs, so they are not in chat these days. However, if there are people we aren't aware of who are engaging in problematic chat behavior, let us know via the contact form. I'll try to pop in there more often, but the bad behavior tends to stop when a mod appears so we won't necessarily observe it in action.
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 8:39 AM on November 28 [19 favorites]


This is extremely thoughtful. I'm impressed. Thanks.

I'd wondered if I was imagining less activity in other parts of the site.
posted by amtho at 8:42 AM on November 28 [4 favorites]


I've definitely been limiting my active participation lately on the megathreads. I've been reading but only posting when I have something to say (which might occassionally include a little zinger). I'll make sure to re-re-calibrate. Thanks mods for putting up with us. I really do appreciate it.
posted by Sophie1 at 8:44 AM on November 28 [1 favorite]


I think this will be good for my mental health. The megathreads have eaten up way too much of my time. Like all the leisure reading I used to do -- I just read megathreads instead now. If they could be shorter and more information dense that would be great for me. (Even though I know I have contributed to the problem by posting long philosophical arguments instead of links, too often.)

I REALLY hope people don't throttle back on the posting of important news stories, though, because this is honestly the main place I get my news. Plus I share stuff I read here on Facebook and I have discovered that for a number of other people I am their main source of news about Trump corruption -- so indirectly they are getting their news here too. I don't know where else to go for stories from all over the web. I subscribe to three newspapers and read a bunch of magazines, but people post links here to publications I don't follow and would never find on my own. I can't possibly follow everything, so the "filter" function of these threads is actually really important to me. I hope that people stick around and post links even if the threads are less active and entertaining.
posted by OnceUponATime at 8:48 AM on November 28 [48 favorites]


I've definitely found myself neglecting other parts of the site and when I do check out other posts, I tend to skim, whereas the megathreads and twitter until recently were open most of the day for me. I used to read every comment, but now I tend to check recent activity and scroll back up a bit e.g. if I know some news broke 3 hours ago, I'll scroll up to check the reaction to that breaking news and read on from there instead of reading a day and a half's worth of comments. When I do check out the rest of the site, I remember how delightful it is and why I ended up hanging out here in the first place so this is definitely a timely reminder.
posted by TwoWordReview at 8:48 AM on November 28 [4 favorites]


I think this is a well-thought out first stab at changes. Thanks.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:48 AM on November 28 [16 favorites]


I think this is great! I devour these threads and get an upset stomach from them, and the constant microblogging really aggravates my danger sense because it's constant cliffhangers. Heavier moderation will do a lot for me, personally, and I think it may be good for the site as well.
posted by rebent at 8:50 AM on November 28 [4 favorites]


Metafilter is a haven for me, on the internet as well as the world at large. I don't know what I would have done this year without it, but I bet I would have been far less informed and felt far more isolated. Thanks everyone so much.

I read most every word of every political megathread, and I am very appreciative of the efforts to reign in some of the more annoying goings-on even while I've been guilty at times of perpetrating them. Thank you for your caring curation of the best place on the web.
posted by thebrokedown at 8:50 AM on November 28 [8 favorites]


Cortex, you’re a good egg. And mods, y’all are awesome.

Thank you all for taking the time to figure out and articulate all this.
posted by Annika Cicada at 8:52 AM on November 28 [15 favorites]


Re Item 1, so.. it's basically the lalex/zachlipton show now? :-)

I agree that the chatter should be gone, or at least move to actual Chat (though, anyone trying to use Chat for non-politics-megathread-chatting would probably hate that influx of people. I've seen it drive people off during press event liveblogging. It has the potential to ruin chat as a resource for others if it becomes a 24/7 thing.) I'm not as sure on a couple of the other points.

Specific questions to this include:

- linking in "look what THIS asshole said" stuff, whether that asshole is some rando on the internet or the current head of the US government
... current US politics pretty much IS "look at what this asshole said...", on a daily basis, particularly when it relates to the current head of the US government.

Can you please clarify here? Is this a blanket prohibition on linking to twitter comments/comment threads, or something more comprehensive ?

I'd also argue that linking to stupid shit that any currently serving member of the US government is saying should continue to be within scope, but perhaps we could take a pass on the latest dreck to fall out of Hannity's mouth.
- posting links to articles or events that have been covered upthread or in previous discussions
This is a hard problem. Maybe it gets easier when the signal to noise level improves? I actually think people have been doing a pretty good job of this already, and there's only the occasional duplicate within a window of 10-20 comments. Duplicates across threads have been more-or-less invisible, and may even have a good reason for a mention. Sometimes things get missed. Sometimes things keep happening. I hope this one can solve itself organically without much moderator interaction.
- linking in at-best-tangentially-related US or world news
How tangentially related are we talking here? The megathreads have been a great catalog of the daily horror of living in the current US regime as it flounders its way around the world stage. Can we have some examples of when this has been done obviously poorly?
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 8:53 AM on November 28 [4 favorites]


Thank you, moderators. I tend to post only when my ex-journo background has some relevance, or if I've seen something a) really good and b) yet-unposted. But I'm guilty of occasional banter and now will try to hold-breath-count-to-ten before knee-jerking posting.

I wonder if more threads, instead of one official catch-all, would help. Right now, everyone piles into the catch-all thread, and we quickly hit critical mass -- so many MeFites, so many reactions, pinball, kablooey. If instead we created one post per truly significant event, conversations would be more focused and traffic would be spread out -- reducing the acceleration we see in the designated catch-alls. Maybe some MeFites with a knack for this - zachlipton, lalex - could be semi-official sub-mods setting up such posts. I'd be happy to help.

(Of course I could be completely wrong. Just throwing in my $0.02 in case it helps.)
posted by martin q blank at 8:55 AM on November 28 [2 favorites]


rehashing arguments that have been had a bunch of times in previous threads over last months/years

[...]

posting links to articles or events that have been covered upthread or in previous discussions


I do see these kind of deletions currently, and I have to say they often trouble me.

I don't read every thread (often because of time limitations) and I certainly don't follow every link in a discussion. Discoverability in these mega threads is often problematic as well. It's really hard to catch up on several kilo-comment threads. So there is bound to be some repetition.

I understand the desire to cut down repeats, especially when you're neck-deep in it all the time, but for those that aren't, nuance here would be greatly appreciated, at least by me.
posted by bonehead at 8:57 AM on November 28 [6 favorites]


" I've seen it drive people off during press event liveblogging. It has the potential to ruin chat as a resource for others if it becomes a 24/7 thing.) "

We're talking about the best way to handle this; it's possible to have a second chat room in the chat room (as we've sometimes done during big events), so that may be an option.

How tangentially related are we talking here? The megathreads have been a great catalog of the daily horror of living in the current US regime as it flounders its way around the world stage. Can we have some examples of when this has been done obviously poorly?

This is more like people treating it as a general current events thread, and people have literally done things like, "Meanwhile, in Algeria, a building fell down today and a bunch of people were killed." Like, it is a bad thing that is happening, but that does not actually make it a US Politics topic although God knows it feels like it sometimes these days. Sometimes it's something like, "While Trump is renegotiating NAFTA, the UK is fucking up its Brexit negotiations [bunch of links about Brexit]" which is loosely related (both about trade) but that should go in a Brexit thread of its very own. Sometimes it's a breaking news event in the US that we can assume the president will probably respond to (and fuck it up), but it's being linked because it's breaking news, not political news. That can wait until it's more clearly related.
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 9:00 AM on November 28 [10 favorites]


Thanks, mods! I've been in pretty much every political megathread since last summer, and I really look forward to these changes; if nothing else, a slower pace will make it far less daunting to return to the threads after a day or two off, and I think I'd personally benefit (though I venture many others would, too) from discussions that were a bit easier to read in terms of a)information; and b)action.

In particular, everyone's reminders and scripts for contacting one's representatives and links to good explantations of things like the tax bill have been a goldmine for me, and it would be great if they were easier to find in the chaos. Throttling back on a lot of the filler would help us all.
posted by TwoStride at 9:00 AM on November 28 [5 favorites]


I'm so glad that this is being done. And thanks for laying it all out there in a very easy to understand way.

I appreciate all the work the moderators have put into this. Thank you.

And here's to making MetaFilter more weird/wonderful again.
posted by Fizz at 9:00 AM on November 28 [5 favorites]


current US politics pretty much IS "look at what this asshole said...", on a daily basis, particularly when it relates to the current head of the US government.

Yeah, I hear you. This is a matter of degree, not a blanket prohibition.

So e.g. when Trump tweets something outrageous and materially substantial, linking to and thoughtfully discussing the implications of that in the thread is probably going to make sense.

When Trump tweets something outrageous and essentially meaningless/contentless (like any number of his transparently defensive "why don't people give me credit for being awesome" stuff or railing yet again about how x or y person or news org is a failing loser, or...), basically nothing interesting results from linking and discussing it. We know he's a huge insecure asshole. It's not new territory.

When some random asshole in the Trumposphere says or tweets some dumb regressive thing that is outrageous but effectively toothless, that's something we can skip much more easily.

For a lot of that stuff, it would make sense to see if something comes of it vs. it just being more crazy-making but ephemeral noise in the current whirlwind. If it does turn out to be a story, and a day or two later there's reporting coming from that, linking to and talking about that reporting seems much more defensible.

Basically: we already know there's a ton of assholes in the US government. Merely noting every available specimen of reaffirmation of that fact isn't necessary and tends to define some of the endless-churn dynamics of these threads.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:00 AM on November 28 [15 favorites]


Maybe our more prolific posters who are going to be trying to wean themselves off of heavy involvement in the #potus45 threads would consider using an alternate tag like #definitelynotpotus45, so we can say 'ah ok here's where all the politics-thread-people are today, I'll go see what's up over there'...
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 9:00 AM on November 28 [1 favorite]


I think it's great that we're discussing this now. I would otherwise expect a lot of chat in the threads during the slow times this holiday season.
posted by SPrintF at 9:01 AM on November 28 [2 favorites]


I'm 100% in agreement with the direction expressed in the original post. I'd love to be able to actually read the uspol threads again, but I just can't with the current state of them.
posted by tobascodagama at 9:04 AM on November 28 [9 favorites]


I hope this works. I feel like I miss a lot of news sometimes and thoughtful discussion thereof because I just can't with the megathreads—too much concentrated badness, so I skip them all—and yet so much gets posted within the threads as it's happening. And then because I haven't read the threads to this point, I can't really rejoin them because I have no idea what's already been posted in a comment or long since hashed out in a thread months ago. So that adds one more reason for me to avoid the threads entirely, as they start to feel like a regulars-only space or a fast-moving river with undertow, not like spaces where I could read about something specific and contribute thoughts like I do on the rest of the site. Doing it the way it was done for a year maybe made sense, and I so hope in the future we can look back on these as this toxic time capsule of how bad the first year was. Here's to a better second year. And here's to the mods.
posted by limeonaire at 9:05 AM on November 28 [14 favorites]


Maybe our more prolific posters who are going to be trying to wean themselves off of heavy involvement in the #potus45 threads would consider using an alternate tag like #definitelynotpotus45, so we can say 'ah ok here's where all the politics-thread-people are today, I'll go see what's up over there'...

Perhaps the tags page can be cloned. The resulting page could be adjusted to show tags used in the past couple of weeks, or tags with the most comments, etc.
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:05 AM on November 28


To find active threads, there's the "Recent Comments" tab on the front page, where threads are listed in order of how recent their most-recent comment was.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 9:06 AM on November 28 [1 favorite]


I'm 100% in agreement with the direction expressed in the original post. I'd love to be able to actually read the uspol threads again, but I just can't with the current state of them.

Yeah, I had to switch to Firefox on my phone because Chrome starts dealing with them poorly at around 500-600 comments and falls over entirely around 1500 comments. In some ways that wasn't a terrible thing..
posted by wierdo at 9:08 AM on November 28


> - posting links to articles or events that have been covered upthread or in previous discussions

This is a hard problem. Maybe it gets easier when the signal to noise level improves? I actually think people have been doing a pretty good job of this already


People have been doing okay, but could do better. Part of why it's not as obvious an issue as it might look like is that we end up cleaning a lot of it up.

I do think it'll be easier to deal with, and maybe just less of an issue to begin with, when we see the pace and turnover of these threads go down; part of the dynamic of people intentionally repeating comments is a sense that everything is moving so fast that a late-in-previous-thread comment will be missed unless it's repeated early in the new one. And part of the issue with folks accidentally duplicating stuff is likewise that the threads are so big and fast that being caught up before adding a link is less doable.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:09 AM on November 28 [4 favorites]


" If it does turn out to be a story, and a day or two later there's reporting coming from that, linking to and talking about that reporting seems much more defensible."

Sites like Buzzfeed and Vox and Politico do a nice job reporting about Twitter events (usually the same day, sometimes the next day), where they'll contextualize a terrible POTUS tweet and gather some of the most important and/or funniest reactions; I personally find those really valuable when people link them. I'm not a Twitter user, so I find the context helpful, and having someone pre-sift the important/interesting/funny tweets from all the noise is great. Sometimes the tempest in the Twitterpot IS the story, and that's okay. It'd just be cool not to have the whole tempest replicated in-thread one tweet at a time over 27 comments.
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 9:10 AM on November 28 [18 favorites]


This is an excellent direction to move in. But I hope that there will still be room for the occasional light-hearted comments and humor, because it helps us not just blow off steam but makes us laugh, briefly, and not being able to laugh once in a while will make us even crazier than we are already.

I'm thinking of the funny comparisons of Jabba the Hutt to Trump in the current thread. There were about ten funny comments. They died out after only ten, which was fine; no mod needed to step in and say ok, enough already. But I would hate to think that the first one would be axed on the spot under the new rules. We so need to laugh.
posted by Melismata at 9:12 AM on November 28 [15 favorites]


Looking at the Meta linked upthread highlighted something for me. I think one of the big challenges, at least for users like myself, is that there's not really a good usage scenario for weekly-visit users. Many times--virtually every time I've wanted to say something in a thread, at least anything at all to do with anything political in the last three years--it's clear that the official stance is "we've already had that discussion." But even in the megathreads, many many commenters admit that they can't possibly keep up and read all of the many thousands of comments in real-time (or anything approaching it.) It just doesn't sound like there's a good answer when the response is "we've already discussed that (for an unannounced 24 hours you personally were gone), so that's basically off-limits."

I understand that moderator time is limited, and the megathreads were becoming bloated, but if nothing else they (occasionally) were a chance for people to weigh in without having engaged with the entire Metafilter body of work on the subject of the moment (unless the topic was "we've already beaten that into the ground somewhere you didn't see and probably wouldn't unless you were in an unrelated thread for eight hours a month ago.")

Of course, I don't really participate as much, and it's because on some level it feels like moderative policy seems to be centered around having less comments in general. I can't think of anywhere else that a huge volume of comments is seen as a problem. People disagreeing is a good thing and, yes, rehashing arguments is how lots of people learn.

Maybe we should give a per-user daily post limit rather than a per-subject daily post limit. (Maybe not literally, but certainly the sentiment fits.) That seems to be what the dynamic is actually reaching towards. I'd rather hear ten people say the same thing than one person say the same thing ten different ways, and I'd hope for diversity and plurality's sake we'd all lean in that direction.
posted by Phyltre at 9:12 AM on November 28 [6 favorites]


This is an excellent direction to move in. But I hope that there will still be room for the occasional light-hearted comments and humor, because it helps us not just blow off steam but makes us laugh, briefly, and not being able to laugh once in a while will make us even crazier than we are already.

Absolutely. But it's a matter of pacing and restraint, like basically all that other stuff. I love the goofing, it's close to my heart and in a different universe where I didn't have any responsibility on MeFi I'd probably be guilty of a lot of the overdoing it myself. So as a controlled part of the mix I'm for it.

But in the context of everything being very busy it can be part of the problem. With things being less busy maybe that will feel like less of an issue to begin with.

But, case in point:

I'm thinking of the funny comparisons of Jabba the Hutt to Trump in the current thread. There were about ten funny comments. They died out after only ten, which was fine; no mod needed to step in and say ok, enough already.

I actually did literally have to step in and say enough already, and spent the next half hour cleaning up aftershocks where folks who didn't read that note kept trying to riff on it at length anyway.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:17 AM on November 28 [58 favorites]


Do what you gotta do. Those threads are ridiculous, and it's a god damn chore having to dig through fifty lame ass quips, rehashed arguments, and interpersonal squabbles to get at the comprehensive and thoughtful insights that make this place worth coming to and those threads worth enduring.

I mean, it's a social and cultural problem and it is going to happen: we are humans and we live in a social media culture. Those megathreads are not just the go-to places for the most up to date into, they're also the threads that get the eyeballs, and so they are also those threads where cheap filler and tepid jokes are going to generate a wealth of those coveted favorites. (Shoulda called um "bookmarks," I always thought.)

And, yeah, it's putting the rest of the site in a choker. FanFare feels particularly barren right now, but that's probably because it's the only other part of the site I frequent anymore. I'm not surprised these megathreads are sucking all the oxygen from other rooms.

I especially think that a focus on prolific posters - especially prolific posters of tweets as well as prolific posters of tweet-style nonsense - will go a hell of a long way towards bringing the longboat back under some sort of reasonable course. (I've always thought a comment timer was a good idea, too.)

I hope this stuff makes it easier on all of y'all moderators - because it has to have been fucking grueling - and easier on the community and readership, as well.

So, do what you gotta. With fire, if necessary. Godspeed.
posted by absalom at 9:20 AM on November 28 [14 favorites]


Reiterating 100% what limeonaire said. I've dipped in and out of those threads, but they are just daunting and painful.

Thanks, and here's to the mods.
posted by blurker at 9:24 AM on November 28 [6 favorites]


Yea, I'm with absalom. Something has to happen. I have no idea how to improve it because it's a tough nut to crack. I know it won't be fun. Y'all are awesome. Good luck. Our hope lies with you all.
posted by RolandOfEld at 9:25 AM on November 28 [3 favorites]


FWIW, I'd be supportive of a two comment per 12 hour period (or whatever) per account limit for the political threads similar to the artificial scarcity with Asks. It would help with the riffing and might help make things be more literally meta than group liveblog if you had to save your comment for when you felt that you really had something important to say.
posted by Candleman at 9:26 AM on November 28 [7 favorites]


This is the kind of thoughtful compromise I was hoping for with the last MeTa. Thank you.

At that time, I thought the mods were sending mixed signals about what to do about the Franken allegations, which some thought were sucking the oxygen out of the megathread. The mods asked everyone to back off of Franken talk in the megathread, but also to not open up a new thread for it, because it was supposedly static, plus there were many open sexual harassment threads and it was exhausting for the mods and many readers.

I feel like this new guidance would lean more strongly in the direction of breaking out something like that into a separate post -- still subject to limits on how many spoons the mods have that day, how tired the community is of threads about abusive men, etc. -- so that those who want to talk about it, including discussing the facts of the case, the political ramifications, etc. can do so without polluting the megathread or upsetting people who want less upsetting/triggering content in their MeFi. Is this a correct interpretation?
posted by tonycpsu at 9:27 AM on November 28 [1 favorite]


Given the recent Mastadon invasion, is there any chance we could take some of the goofing/riffing there? I know that Mastadon is a little weird about political content (the culture there seems to be to put it behind a content warning, which is not intuitive to me), but maybe that or Twitter is a better place for general banter. I get the sense that a lot of regulars here follow each other on Twitter already, but maybe we could do a bigger push to facilitate taking it outside?
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 9:29 AM on November 28 [1 favorite]


Put me down as a "nay" on anything involving a comment timer/limit. For all it does to rein in the quips, it's also going to stifle the good discussions, and lead people to posting difficult to follow omnibus comments that respond to what five other people said like twelve hours ago, long after the thread has moved on. That kind of thing could work if comments were thr**ded, but since they're not, and since threaded comments suck for so many other reasons, I think dealing with the prolific posters /noisemakers on a case-by-case basis is far superior to a limit / timer approach.
posted by tonycpsu at 9:30 AM on November 28 [19 favorites]


I've long since disengaged from political discussion here (and may other places). Even prior to the current administration, I became quite disillusioned with a relentless lack of respect for diverse opinion or encouraging nuanced political discussion. Specifically, there's a pretty relentless dumbbeat(down) of any sort of libertarian or non-zero sum thought.

Personally, I'm not looking for an echo chamber and in a lot of ways that's what politics on MetaFilter has become.
posted by Consult The Oracle at 9:31 AM on November 28 [3 favorites]


Agreed, sometimes a back-and-forth is necessary and valuable, and a per-user comment limit would break that mechanic pretty badly. Otherwise I'm on board with the general sentiment, have been trying to limit my own involvement and will continue to do so. Thanks as always, mod team.
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 9:31 AM on November 28 [1 favorite]


Thanks so much to the mods and the contributors to these threads the past year. As others have related, they've kept me informed and sane far more than any other source since the election has.

That said, I totally appreciate that the unexpected Threadamari Damacy that has emerged is not sustainable for the site, and I'm on board with whatever it takes to rein it in.
posted by Rykey at 9:32 AM on November 28 [8 favorites]


I feel like this new guidance would lean more strongly in the direction of breaking out something like that into a separate post -- still subject to limits on how many spoons the mods have that day, how tired the community is of threads about abusive men, etc. -- so that those who want to talk about it, including discussing the facts of the case, the political ramifications, etc. can do so without polluting the megathread or upsetting people who want less upsetting/triggering content in their MeFi. Is this a correct interpretation?

Yeah, that's part of where we're at. I regret the weird collision of timing and mod note phrasing elements in that specific Franken discussion moment because I think it muddied stuff unnecessarily, but also that was part of the impetus for some of my thinking in this post about looking to more decisively make a standalone post for something significant.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:33 AM on November 28


As someone who literally rejoined MeFi because of the mega threads, I appreciate the thoughtful approach to improving them that the mods seem to be floating, here. That said, I also don’t feel comfortable speaking up (either for myself or on behalf of other “regulars” in those threads) because of the impression that we’ve become a punching bag for other users’ (sometimes but not always ill-placed) gripes with the site at large. That said, I also don’t want to get lumped in with the (few) users whose own in-thread behavior makes me eye-roll, so I understand that the mods have a tough needle to thread here. I’ll do my part to improve the quality of the posts, and I hope others do as well.

Thank you to everyone who has made the political threads so valuable in what has been a terrible year in so many ways. I really appreciate it.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 9:34 AM on November 28 [16 favorites]


but also that was part of the impetus for some of my thinking in this post about looking to more decisively make a standalone post for something significant.

Which was done beautifully this morning, with The Whelk's thread on the NYT article situation. Exactly How It Should Be Done. Thank you!
posted by Melismata at 9:35 AM on November 28 [3 favorites]


No comment timer/limit, please. I appreciate zachlipton, lalex, Justinian, and chris24's frequent link dropping too much, that's exactly what I want the political threads for. I appreciate the odd bit of riffing and discussion as much as anyone else, but I know I've certainly shifted to seeing the politics threads as, well, filters for the firehose of news, and a lot of riffing and arguing does not help with that.

Should we try to keep reactions to news out of the thread as well? I don't want to see the megathreads become just people dropping links, but what's the line on commenting on/reacting to the news dropped in there? Keep it substantive? Include some analysis with your snappy one-liner?
posted by yasaman at 9:36 AM on November 28 [21 favorites]


Maybe make the per-user comment maximum as a sort of penalty box, an alternative to a time-out, for people who have trouble getting with the program.

Sometimes the jokes are the only thing to keep you sane, so an approach which ended up making the thread a wall of unrelenting gloom would be a downside, but maybe still better than the alternatives.

Also, people, post more good stuff to the front page.
posted by Rumple at 9:38 AM on November 28 [7 favorites]


yasaman, I agree with you, but at the same time, just for the moment while we're trying to reset things, I think keeping one-liner reactions out of the threads is pretty much the direction we're aiming for. More substantial thoughts, ok, and maybe reactions to really major developments, but having a dozen people go "omg what a shithead"/"that's super offensive" every time something the admin does something shitty is a big part of the problem -- it's normal commenting behavior that, unfortunately, ends up being unsustainable over the long term with these high volume threads. We want to work toward an atmosphere that has a lot less of that kind of reaction.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 9:46 AM on November 28 [5 favorites]


Should we try to keep reactions to news out of the thread as well? I don't want to see the megathreads become just people dropping links, but what's the line on commenting on/reacting to the news dropped in there? Keep it substantive? Include some analysis with your snappy one-liner?

I was just thinking the same thing, mostly because I'm guilty of this pretty often. While responding to a breaking news comment with "Aw fucking hell" and not much else is emotionally satisfying, it doesn't substantially contribute to the conversation, so I'm gonna cut it out.

My own request: as much as I find them funny and clever, could we also voluntarily cut out the poems/limericks/altered song lyrics? They also don't move the conversation forward. A roundup in a MeTa thread would be great, though!
posted by Rykey at 9:50 AM on November 28 [16 favorites]


This is great, thank you.
posted by ellieBOA at 9:55 AM on November 28 [1 favorite]


it feels like moderative policy seems to be centered around having less comments in general. I can't think of anywhere else that a huge volume of comments is seen as a problem

This is an important point--other forums see more comments as basically an unqualified good, and those are mostly terrible places to be. What makes MetaFilter work is labor intensive human moderation, and it simply doesn't scale to firehose levels without breaking the very thing that makes this site different and better.

I really appreciate how clear and thoughtful this post is, and mod communication always is. I'd feel that way even if I disagreed with it (which I don't).
posted by Horace Rumpole at 9:56 AM on November 28 [17 favorites]


- (less of) linking in at-best-tangentially-related US or world news

Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick: Can we have some examples of when this has been done obviously poorly?

I am one of the culprits, as I see it. I find it interesting to compare US political strife and woes with politics around the world, but I realize that this is expanding the already daunting megaposts. I for one will stop tossing in "news from the rest of the world" and instead make new posts on those topics, if they're post-worthy and not just blips in comparison.


bonehead: I don't read every thread (often because of time limitations) and I certainly don't follow every link in a discussion. Discoverability in these mega threads is often problematic as well. It's really hard to catch up on several kilo-comment threads.

tobascodagama: I'm 100% in agreement with the direction expressed in the original post. I'd love to be able to actually read the uspol threads again, but I just can't with the current state of them.

If you're on a computer that can load bookmarklets, graphfi is magical, my eternal thanks to yourcelf. I use it to skim the highlights in megathreads, and to tie conversations together without having to read every comment, allowing others to mark important (or amusing) comments with favorite counts.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:56 AM on November 28 [6 favorites]


generalized repetitive "x is bad" griping—x being bad can be true without needing endless restatement, specific new "this thing is bad and here's why" comments are more useful and interesting

Thank you. In addition to cutting down on noise, I find it really disheartening when someone posts a link to, say, something relevant that John McCain said or did and then having 10 comments that are basically “fuck John McCain.” Or worse, something like, “You’d have to be a moron to believe that.” There are much more productive ways to respond to links like that, including flagging it if you think it’s just noise.

posting links to articles or events that have been covered upthread or in previous discussions

one thing that would help cut down on duplicate links is using the actual headline as the link instead of hiding it behind mystery meat. Since many new stories usually come from one source they’re easy to search for. I usually search for a keyword, looking if any news about, say, “Sessions” was posted recently.
posted by Room 641-A at 10:19 AM on November 28 [22 favorites]


On the flipside, some of the stuff we definitely see as valuable in those threads:

I very much hope that Chrysostom's "ELECTIONS NEWS" updates are considered by the mods to be some of the stuff of value in these threads.
posted by solotoro at 10:27 AM on November 28 [40 favorites]


Yes, absolutely.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 10:28 AM on November 28 [12 favorites]


We're encouraging folks to put their energy elsewhere on the site.

It's Holiday Movie Club time!
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:31 AM on November 28 [1 favorite]


This is a good post and you should feel good
posted by Jpfed at 10:32 AM on November 28 [5 favorites]


I dunno, I pretty much steer clear of the polithreads, because of time, emotional impact, and because generally anymore I can't seem to say anything substantive without someone getting pissed off.
posted by Samizdata at 10:34 AM on November 28


I'm gonna go along with supporting whatever the mods want because good God this has clearly been a monumental and endless task and their lives should be easier.

Which means I suppose I'll have to sit on my righteous indignation over any of my comments being deleted. But it's like super super righteous, yo.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 10:38 AM on November 28 [9 favorites]


I almost wonder if some of the Chrysostom-style topics should be broken out into individual threads?

It's hard to draw the line for when a topic is large enough that it deserves to be broken out of the "catch-all" thread, but in hindsight, it seems like certain topics like the VA House races could have been broken out into a separate thread to keep the overall noise-levels down (particularly since the VA election is somehow still an active story).
posted by schmod at 10:40 AM on November 28 [1 favorite]


Cortex said:"And with the US Politics widget available as a per-person filter, "

I've looked around my profile, and have changed the design type around, but I don't see a US Politics widget. What and where is that and what does it do?
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 10:45 AM on November 28


It's in the sidebar on the front page. Scroll down below your Contact Activity and you should see it there.
FAQ entry about US Politics sidebar widget
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 10:46 AM on November 28 [2 favorites]


When Trump tweets something outrageous and essentially meaningless/contentless (like any number of his transparently defensive "why don't people give me credit for being awesome" stuff or railing yet again about how x or y person or news org is a failing loser, or...), basically nothing interesting results from linking and discussing it. We know he's a huge insecure asshole. It's not new territory.

I think most of the points above are reasonable, or reasonable-to-preserve-mod-sanity-even-if-I-don't-agree-with-them, but this one is kind of extra hard? Because the Trump tweets if he wasn't present are EXACTLY 'some asshole said something on the internet', but he's our actual president so can enforce his horribleness with actual power. So when he's like "look at this terrible organization", on the one hand, yeah, Trump being Trump, but on the other hand, the President of the United States of America trying to rally a mob against another news organization really feels like something that shouldn't be 'ah yes same as it ever was', like, this is still insane every time even if he does do it a lot?
posted by corb at 10:50 AM on November 28 [4 favorites]


For sure, it's absolutely bonkers and fucked up that this is who the President is and this is how he conducts himself. I'm not trying to dismiss or normalize that; see this comment from the other metatalk thread for where my thoughts are on the need to both find a MeFi balance and not aim for normalization.

What I'm talking about, what we're aiming for here tactically, is adjusting how our collective response to that bonkers bullshit manifests on a day-to-day basis in these huge discussion threads. I don't think it's ceding to normalization to say that we can hold Trump's twitter shittiness more at arm's length and react to e.g. the fallout and reporting about it rather than every time having an in-thread frenzy about the tweet itself.

It is difficult, its a weird balancing act that we're having to do on account of that horrid fucko in high office. But it's something that there's room to move on in how as a community we manage our reactions to his awfulness, without at all denying the reality of that awfulness.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:57 AM on November 28 [9 favorites]


4. We're encouraging folks to put their energy elsewhere on the site.

Here f***ing Here.

Way back when during the Battle of Britain, there were those that argued that all theaters and such should be shut down what with all the WAR that was going on. To which Winston Churchill* is alleged to have said, "No. Bad idea. That's our culture. That's why we're fighting this fight. The theaters stay open."

I personally have mostly checked out of the US Gov Political threads precisely because I've felt that they were eating too much of my time, my consciousness. Trump and his crowd are misfits, loony-tunes, squalid criminals with their hands on the wheel and they're taking us all straight to hell -- I agree. But how much of that hell is self-propelled via our inability to look away from the ongoing accident scene? It's easy if you try.

* preemptive yadda-yadda-yadda on Churchill being at various points in his life the worst kind of colonial bastard, plus other sins -- that's true, he was a flawed and complex man, and I think he was a f***ing genius to keep the theaters open.
posted by philip-random at 11:09 AM on November 28 [3 favorites]


schmod: "I almost wonder if some of the Chrysostom-style topics should be broken out into individual threads?

It's hard to draw the line for when a topic is large enough that it deserves to be broken out of the "catch-all" thread, but in hindsight, it seems like certain topics like the VA House races could have been broken out into a separate thread to keep the overall noise-levels down (particularly since the VA election is somehow still an active story).
"

Yeah, the VA House stuff maybe should have been broken out. I confess to kind of straddling the line on state legislature races between news and activism (they matter! you can actually make a difference donating!). But you're right that there was a lot of it, so maybe those should have been a separate thread or even GYOB.

The little daily news roundup seems to fall within normal guidelines, though.
posted by Chrysostom at 11:15 AM on November 28 [3 favorites]


There was this thread about state and local elections (the US Politics sidebar section has a listing of recent threads), and if there's an ongoing recount that's going to have things to discuss (rather than just being the occasional update over weeks), it could be its own thread.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 11:16 AM on November 28


I always assumed the solution/s to the politics/megathread problems would be tech-based (more widgets? politics sub-site?). But of course the mods came up with a moderator/community-based solution. How perfectly Metafilter. Bravo folks.
posted by not_the_water at 11:22 AM on November 28 [10 favorites]


One thing that I see as problematic in the threads which I don't see addressed is that when news is slow they tend to go off into philosophical discussion completely unrelated to current events. Like, the nature of socialism and why Republicans are bad, or whatever. And, while I do appreciate Mefites opinions on stuff, those long discussions seem really to just be too often a way to pass the time until the next breaking news, and they fill the thread up with long, repetitive comments that can be really daunting to read through if you have been away and come back to try to catch up.

They also seem to be the kinds of discussions that turn into arguments and can get snippy and personal. So I wonder if it would be worth it to try to keep the megathreads focused on Current Events more than general political rambling. I've also noticed this is something that tends to happen overnight, when there's not news breaking but the thread keeps moving. Sometimes it gets real weird around 3AM, and I say this as someone who is often awake at the time.
posted by threeturtles at 11:33 AM on November 28 [8 favorites]


Can't say I blame the mods for any of this. I imagine the big threads are pure d call center hell to march through on a bad day. And lately, increasingly uncertain about what might or mightn't get deleted and figuring that neither the mods nor I need the extra heartache, I've been trying to stay out of the general political discussions. These edicts will only hearten my resolve. The loss of a place to drop my hot takes and my sparkling wit does make me a little glum, tho. I suppose I should get my own blog or take up journaling again. I mean, it's not as if I can bury my metafilter comments in a can for the future when it all goes blooey.
posted by octobersurprise at 11:49 AM on November 28 [1 favorite]


Thanks cortex for all your work on this.

The "put it in the megathread" vs new thread distinction is a hard judgement call, but I like the idea of splitting out more topics into their own threads, not least because it makes it easier for people who don't participate in the megathreads to join in and contribute to specific topics. My preference would be to try to make that decision early, realizing it's not always clear where a topic is going to go. The Whelk's NYT Nazi FPP is fantastic, but it comes a couple days after the fact, and after a long discussion in the megathread, so it feels like starting the discussion over again

It's hard because most people here put a great deal of time and care into crafting their FPPs, more than just "the NYT wrote a bad thing about a Nazi; discuss," but if we wait until there's enough substantive things to fill out a quality post, we end up having the discussion twice.
posted by zachlipton at 11:52 AM on November 28 [10 favorites]


I'd sort of thought the potus45 threads might become a completely unmoderated wasteland of poorly thought-out jokes, angst, and despair. Then the mods could just avoid the whole area, and the rest of the site would be much easier to moderate.

This is probably a better idea though, because that would probably devolve pretty rapidly.
posted by aspersioncast at 12:01 PM on November 28


Thank you, cortex, and the whole team, for your patience and thoughtfulness on these issues. I can only imagine how draining it's been for all of you to have to moderate these threads on top of having to live through the same nightmare as the rest of us.
posted by the return of the thin white sock at 12:02 PM on November 28 [3 favorites]


I have appreciated it when mods, in the process of leaving a note in a megathread, have taken the opportunity to also link to something fun that's going on elsewhere on the site. Sadly, having those links in-thread is often the only way I would have noticed them during those times when I am mired in the megathread muck of horrible current events, so I encourage mods to continue using this vector as part of the overall action plan.

I also appreciate recaps of live events such as speeches and press conferences, which I cannot bear to watch—I prefer having the information filtered through MeFi before deciding whether I should go back and watch them myself. But yeah, WTF-style hot takes in real time just bog things down. So the guidelines being offered for people making these kinds of comments, both good and bad, are very useful, I think.

Perhaps this has been discussed before, but a little more info/commentary on the technical difficulties involved in the long threads might help some people understand another aspect of the problems inherent in megathreads—i.e., if I understand correctly, the number of individual comments is a bigger factor in terms of slowing page loads than just the number of words in a thread. I think of this every time a new thread opens up and the first several comments are just, "Thanks for the new thread; my device was overheating."
It seems like those sorts of comments are just exacerbating the very problem they are complaining about. So guidelines mentioning the technical benefits of one longer, more content-rich comment versus several short ones, if there are indeed such benefits to page-load issues, would be welcome as an additional consideration for posters trying to adjust their megathread-commenting behavior for the overall good of the site.

As ever, thanks to the mods for, you know, just everything.
posted by obloquy at 12:10 PM on November 28 [4 favorites]


the number of individual comments is a bigger factor in terms of slowing page loads than just the number of words in a thread

This is exactly true, yes.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 12:13 PM on November 28 [2 favorites]


I just want to chime in to say I appreciate this; I've stopped reading the threads because there's a lot of noise in them, I feel like there is a high concentration of comments by the same users, and I feel like I can't get appropriately up-to-speed to contribute productively so basically everything cortex said.

I wonder if part of the problem is that it is so hard to keep up with what's happening that people who are trying in good faith to follow along with the conversation and even contribute to it aren't able to do so. It seems likely that there's an overlap between people who want to make thoughtful comments and people who want to be appropriately diligent by actually understanding what's going on in the thread and so if you have threads full of noise and in-jokes and rehashing the same conversations the people you're driving away from contributing are the ones who are trying their best to contribute productively which means you get a lot of comments which are either noisy or from people who, by dint of contributing frequently, already know what's going on in the threads.

I'm not trying to cast any aspersions here and in fact I am not able to test this hypothesis because, as I say, I've basically moved away from reading the politics threads even though I'd like to keep up with what's going on so I hope this doesn't seem like it's directed at anyone in particular, because it's not, basically I just think the threads would be improved immensely by allowing thoughtful people to keep up and make thoughtful contributions.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 12:27 PM on November 28 [19 favorites]


I'm very happy to see this thread and I think (I hope) that this is a step in the right direction. Thanks, mods.

I want to comment here because I have an opinion I don't see represented well in this thread yet: I hate the politics megathreads and would be happier if they went away entirely. I joined the site for links to and discussion of interesting stuff on the internet and megathreads are decidedly Not That. I have barely participated in the megathreads at all since the 2016 election season, and every time I click on one and start to read the comments, I immediately remember why I've been avoiding them.

My personal pony sparkly rainbow unicorn request would be to completely ban catch-all megathreads and replace them with normal MeFi one-topic posts (which could be something politics-related, e.g. "here's a roundup about the creepy White House Christmas decorations") where any discussion that isn't about the topic/links in the FPP is aggressively deleted as a derail. I know this would spawn way more political/news FPPs, and I suspect it would be harder to mod. But to me, megathreads are not what makes us MetaFilter.
posted by capricorn at 12:33 PM on November 28 [5 favorites]


I came in to say pretty much exactly what Mrs. Pterodactyl said, and she said it much better than I would have, so: ditto!

I used to read the megathreads from top to bottom. I stopped because I just couldn't keep up with the threads and keep my job and keep my family, so I figured something had to go.

I'm glad for this new road and I think it's going to be a good thing overall.
posted by cooker girl at 12:33 PM on November 28 [2 favorites]


Thank you for this - I find those threads exhausting and I can only imagine what it's like to moderate them.
posted by notorious medium at 12:35 PM on November 28


We're going to need a "why republicans are evil" dedicated thread then I guess, given today's news.
posted by Artw at 12:44 PM on November 28 [1 favorite]


Just so the idea doesn't get lost,the idea of a second chat room is great. That would provide a place for the one-liners and moment-by-moment anxiety, without breaking regular chat.
posted by zompist at 12:45 PM on November 28 [3 favorites]


honestly, regular chat has been dead for ages. I think separating it off into a separate chat room hasn't helped. Let people come in the main room and talk about stuff! It will be nice! Everyone is friendly in chat!
posted by corb at 12:46 PM on November 28 [1 favorite]


My thought with Chat is to keep it one room for the moment, try to get a critical mass of people going over there, and then once that exists, we'll have enough people to sustain a separate room.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 12:47 PM on November 28 [3 favorites]


And it's cool to see so many folks in there today! Over 30 people in the chat room right now.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 12:48 PM on November 28 [1 favorite]


Just tried using Chat via mobile. It’s a hot mess, which is really a bummer. I assume this is common knowledge, but as someone who was trying Chat for the first time it was a really frustrating experience.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 12:56 PM on November 28 [2 favorites]


To clarify: the people are lovely! The format/UI is essentially broken for me on this end, though.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 12:57 PM on November 28 [2 favorites]


Sorry about that - we'll look into it. I know it used to be people sometimes had better luck with an app, but I'm not sure what the current state of play is with that.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 12:58 PM on November 28 [1 favorite]


Thanks! I know you have your hands full already. I just think mobile users should know what they’re in for, since we’re being (rightly!) encouraged to take chattiness to Chat.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 1:00 PM on November 28 [1 favorite]


Just came in to say I loved the threads exactly the way they were. They were my sanctuary. Time to learn a new way of coping!
posted by localhuman at 1:05 PM on November 28 [14 favorites]


Just tried using Chat via mobile. It’s a hot mess

Chat is just a public channel (#mefi) on SlashNET. On mobile just use a real IRC client. (Same for desktop, if you want a nicer experience.)
posted by floam at 1:07 PM on November 28 [1 favorite]


That’s very helpful. Thank you, floam.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 1:10 PM on November 28


If it would help anyone, this bookmarklet checks to see if a link is already somewhere in the thread. I wanted to make it a bit smarter, as it's only looking for exact matches at the moment, but maybe that will still be useful.
posted by lucidium at 1:10 PM on November 28 [8 favorites]


Wait, I might be super wrong about that and the slashnet channel is unrelated!? The FAQ says it uses Jabber/XMPP. So you'll want to use a different type of client. My bad!
posted by floam at 1:11 PM on November 28 [4 favorites]


I think there's an older chat channel from prehistory, and the current Chat onside uses Jabber, yeah.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 1:12 PM on November 28 [3 favorites]


Chat is just a public channel (#mefi) on SlashNET.

This is incorrect, yeah. #mefi is it's own thing entirely and has nothing to do with the official chat.metafilter.com service we call Chat.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:15 PM on November 28 [2 favorites]


Chat is probably more fun when it's not all about nuclear war, I assume.
posted by zachlipton at 1:28 PM on November 28 [5 favorites]



It's only now that you've said this that I've noticed myself really neglecting many of the other posts on the site.

I have totally noticed this. Not about you leotrotsky, but about site participation in general especially in AskMe where I basically live.


I've noticed for a while that there seems to be fewer questions asked than there used to be. I was even thinking of asking here about it, but I guess it's explained.
posted by jgirl at 1:28 PM on November 28


My only caveat with these guidelines is that I don't actually think most people will change their behavior; rather the mods will simply end up having to delete more stuff. Which is counterproductive when trying to reduce mod load a bit.
posted by Justinian at 1:28 PM on November 28 [4 favorites]


> My only caveat with these guidelines is that I don't actually think most people will change their behavior; rather the mods will simply end up having to delete more stuff. Which is counterproductive when trying to reduce mod load a bit.

I would expect the folks having their stuff routinely deleted would (a) change their behavior or (b) be given warnings that continued bad behavior is going to lead to some days off or a permanent suspension. So maybe a short-term increase in the workload, but bending the curve enough that it pays off in the medium to long term.
posted by tonycpsu at 1:32 PM on November 28 [10 favorites]


Chat can be (or at least used to be) quite cliquey, so if regulars made an effort to welcome newcomers that would be helpful.
posted by Rumple at 1:32 PM on November 28 [1 favorite]


These sound like great moves forward and I am looking forward to the changes.
posted by Dip Flash at 1:41 PM on November 28


My thought with Chat is to keep it one room for the moment, try to get a critical mass of people going over there, and then once that exists, we'll have enough people to sustain a separate room.

i mean
i have not previously ventured into Chat, but i did for the first time just now and it was an argument about how people feel it sucks to have politics shunted into chat... maybe a separate room is already needed? it kind of seems like the people in chat do not want a critical mass --quite literally do not want, since the major complaint is 'OMG WILL YOU ALL STOP DOING A THREADS RE-ENACTMENT AND SHUT UP ABOUT NUCLEAR WAR ALREADY'
posted by halation at 1:44 PM on November 28 [4 favorites]


Thank you for this. What you've outlined in the op is pretty much what I want from the threads, so I'm one of the lucky ones, I guess. I'm sorry for those who want something different and will need to find other solutions.

I think I'm also going to experiment with getting off my phone for the megathread and check it once or twice a day from an actual computer, where I can use some of the fancy extensions y'all keep mentioning.
I have to trust that if the world's about to blow up, wapo will send me a notification soon enough. I love this community, but for sure, my productivity for the people who pay me has suffered greatly this last year.

Thanks again, mods, for all you do.
posted by greermahoney at 1:44 PM on November 28 [2 favorites]


"Has chat become less MRA?"

For those who may need a TLA primer like I did, MRA apparently means Men's Rights Activists.

I don't get to Chat often but when I do I have not noticed such people... thankfully.
posted by terrapin at 1:53 PM on November 28 [1 favorite]


Chat can be (or at least used to be) quite cliquey, so if regulars made an effort to welcome newcomers that would be helpful.

Whoa. As a person who pops into and out of chat at need (I treat it like a mini-ask/metatalk for when I want to find a link / comment from months back or when I need advice on a tech question quick/fast/in a hurry along with a few other uses) I have never had this feeling about chat. If it's a problem then yea, I'm all for it being more welcoming but I have never felt like that is all I'm saying.
posted by RolandOfEld at 1:58 PM on November 28 [2 favorites]


the number of individual comments is a bigger factor in terms of slowing page loads than just the number of words in a thread

So with this, together with the guidelines at the top of this post, in mind, maybe a helpful tactic before clicking "Submit" on our comments is to ask ourselves: Does this comment substantially move the discussion forward by

–Adding valuable new information, ideally with a link or some context
–Raising an actual, relevant question
–Answering a question somebody's raised

...within the boundaries of the 2016 US elections and their aftermath?

Or does it merely:
–Ask/answer a rhetorical question ("What the fuck are these people doing?" "Nothing, of course.")
–Express an emotional reaction
–Demonstrate cleverness
–Pointlessly speculate or hypothesize (Here's what Bernie would've done, the eighteenth person in line if Trump's removed is..., Warren/Ellison would be a great ticket for 2020)

Again, I personally don't usually mind the threads the way they are, but if the firehose has to come down to a garden hose, I'll give up the laughs and shiny stuff to keep the awesome info and insights. Just a thought.
posted by Rykey at 2:01 PM on November 28 [11 favorites]


As a pretty extensive thread reader (not every comment, but close) and infrequent poster, I'm very glad for these changes. Unfortunately - and speaking only for myself here - the riffs and emotional charge of the megathreads have calibrated my own emotional meter and my own expectations of others in a way that is hurting my life more than it needs to and, while I 100% intend to remain politically informed and deeply concerned, a clearer separation between chatter and information will be helpful for this lurker.

And, of course, thank you mods. I know it doesn't make things much easier but I sincerely hope y'all got a raise this year. Can we donate specifically to a give-the-mods-a-bonus fund? I'd do it in a heartbeat.
posted by mosst at 2:22 PM on November 28 [6 favorites]


–Express an emotional reaction
–Demonstrate cleverness


It's a fair cop, Guv.
posted by octobersurprise at 2:25 PM on November 28 [2 favorites]


OK, I think what I've learned from chat today is I need to put myself in time out for a while. Peace out folks.
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:27 PM on November 28


Joey Michaels, I'm sorry about the current state of things in Hawaii. It sounds incredibly awful.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 2:28 PM on November 28 [13 favorites]


As someone who on and off has spent a LOT of time in those threads, I 100% support this move.
posted by showbiz_liz at 2:32 PM on November 28


joeymichaels, I'm sorry to hear that - I actually was horrified to hear about what you were talking about going on, and even though there was some 'let's not talk about nuclear apocalypse' I don't think anyone wanted you to leave. I would never have known about what you were talking about if not for your presence!
posted by corb at 2:33 PM on November 28 [4 favorites]


I'm in the very strange position of agreeing with almost everything cortex wrote, understanding the motivation for all of these changes, and still being pretty disappointed.

Impact on the mods and impact on the site culture at large are enough justification for me to learn to live with this, but as someone who almost exclusively lurks in the US politics threads, I've adored them as they've been. I really didn't hop on board until the debates started, but pretty much every computer I use has the latest thread sitting in a tab at all times. Sometimes I drop out if personal stuff is bad or it's all just too much or I want a quiet Thanksgiving. Sometimes I binge to catch up, sometimes I just jump back to the present. Whatever my current level of engagement with US politics at any given moment, I can count on the amazing contributors of the threads to be there with solid analysis even though my personal politics are pretty far left of most here.

I don't want to be knee-jerk about this. There have been very few changes in MeFi that have rankled me beyond the initial shock value. On-page titles are still bad, for instance. But the thread is noticeably quieter this afternoon, and it's not for lack of things to discuss.

I might check out chat, but that's not the experience I'm looking for and I don't think it's unreasonable for me to assume the content will be very different there.

ANYWAY. Just weighing in. I understand and support the changes and you're all lovely.
posted by SpiffyRob at 2:35 PM on November 28 [25 favorites]


Pretty much everything that the vast majority of MeFites consider to be noise and filler in the megathreads is highly valuable meat and veg and bread to me -- and is also 80-90% of nearly every other thread on the Blue and an important chunk of community culture as well, as long as I've been here, but I recognize that doesn't scale sustainably in the case of a fast-paced jillion-comment thread. There's just not much utility for me personally in a link/news dump that mostly duplicates my existing Twitter feed and Google News, and sadly there don't seem to be other spaces that offer this type of insightful political discussion and camaraderie in a secure and moderated setting.

The announced plan seems like a smart and reasonable start to phasing out #potus45 threads or at least helping them naturally wither on the vine, which seems to suit the wishes of the userbase overall, so I support it.
posted by FelliniBlank at 2:48 PM on November 28 [9 favorites]


Um. I'm not seeing any plan to "phase out" #potus45 threads or get them to "naturally wither", just a discussion about how to make them less unwieldy and psychologically overwhelming.
posted by soundguy99 at 3:01 PM on November 28 [4 favorites]


> There's just not much utility for me personally in a link/news dump that mostly duplicates my existing Twitter feed and Google News, and sadly there don't seem to be other spaces that offer this type of insightful political discussion and camaraderie in a secure and moderated setting.

I've been reluctant to wade into this discussion, but I agree with this, very much.

I find it really useful to scroll through informed commentary (and yes, some of the silly riffing) as I try to catch up on what it all *means*. Sometimes I can't participate for two days, but I do want to see what was said, especially by users I recognize and whose opinions I have grown to respect.

I've generally drifted away from Twitter, but if the alternative to the current Megathreads was an ephemeral chat window with posts scrolling by in minutes, I'd probably take up Twitter again instead.

I recognize that many MeFites don't like the Megathreads - although I never understood why someone would bother to look at them if they didn't like them - but I hope you guys don't throw the baby out with the bathwater. Right now, my personal sense is that we are in a crisis - a flaming garbage dumpster of a political scene - and if I'm not discussing it on a MeFi thread, I'll end up discussing it elsewhere, not channeling that energy into other topics on the Blue.
posted by RedOrGreen at 3:10 PM on November 28 [20 favorites]


mostly duplicates my existing Twitter feed

Some of us are allergic to Twitter.
posted by OnceUponATime at 3:13 PM on November 28 [14 favorites]


Did Joey Michaels have a comment deleted here or something? What's going on in Hawaii?
posted by Rhaomi at 3:16 PM on November 28


He was talking in Chat about how Hawaii has been preparing for a nuclear strike and how that sucks. After a bit of this, one or two people said basically "whoa that's too depressing."

It's a matter of figuring out where the boundaries are going to fall, in terms of how these topics go on Chat. It's a little up in the air, we're hoping people can bear with us/each other as it works itself out.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 3:19 PM on November 28 [1 favorite]


This is one of the downsides of Chat (I can't scroll up to figure out what happened with Hawaii, I'm assuming this was discussed only in chat). I can't be on it all the time, and I can't possibly "catch up" by reading it afterwards because it is ephemeral, so I'm going to miss more (and be confused when topics from chat show up somewhere else).

I'll get over it, though, and generally I support any move to try to make the Megathreads more sustainable for the mods.
posted by nat at 3:22 PM on November 28 [3 favorites]


The attention in Chat will never be as sweet as the main site.
posted by Burhanistan at 3:23 PM on November 28


This is one of the downsides of Chat (I can't scroll up to figure out what happened ...

I would guess that the amount of scrollback their Jabber server sends to clients on room join is configurable on their end. If the volume picks up over what it used to be it might make sense for them to adjust it upwards. I can't see how it'd really hurt to have like 10x the amount - it doesn't send much at all.
posted by floam at 3:27 PM on November 28 [1 favorite]



Um. I'm not seeing any plan to "phase out" #potus45 threads or get them to "naturally wither", just a discussion about how to make them less unwieldy and psychologically overwhelming.


One person's 'less unwieldy and psychologically overwhelming' is another person's 'this basically just replicates my newsfeed,' though. That doesn't mean the change isn't going to happen, or shouldn't happen, but people do have varying opinions on what makes a fulfilling thread -- indeed, in this very thread, some people have been saying that they feel a little more psychologically overwhelmed *without* the #potus45 thread.

The consensus seems to be 'all this stuff can't happen in megathreads, and at least some of it doesn't merit FPPs,' which means either said stuff won't happen on MetaFilter at all, or it will start happening in Chat. It remains to be seen how that will work out in Chat, but I would assume at least some users in Chat would be reluctant to have Chat turned into a replacement #potus45 situation, hence the whole language of 'phase out' for the political megathread form of social interaction.
posted by halation at 3:27 PM on November 28 [5 favorites]


There's some discussion in chat about a MeFi-owned Mastodon instance (for moderation purposes). I'm not entirely sure how much that requires in terms of physical resources and system administration time, but on the face, it could be a good middle-ground between megathread and chat.

something to ponder, perhaps.
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 3:33 PM on November 28 [2 favorites]


Such a thoughtful response to a difficult and somewhat confusing situation. You all have my support!!
posted by latkes at 3:36 PM on November 28 [3 favorites]


...and MY axe!
posted by Chrysostom at 3:42 PM on November 28 [15 favorites]


Like others, I'm guilty of letting the catch-all dominate my time here.

Partially that's because I never seem to catch up, so I feel like I shouldn't comment because I'm not up to date. Often what I wanted to say was about something from hours previous and the thread has moved on.

I have been trying to make an effort to at least load the front page every now and again, but I just go right back to RA and never see those posts again because the catch-all is only not at the top of RA at new thread time.

I've been fantasizing about making FanFare posts for all the old Japanese movies I watched and maybe even paying for Filmstruck and finishing my project. Then the catch-all makes me wonder what the point would be.

I'm really struggling with hyper-normalization lately, is what I'm saying, but that's for another time.

P.S. Just FYI, apparently not everyone can use the browser based chat. Even with my stuff turned off and cookies cleared all I get is an endless "Disconnecting…" message. I feel like I fixed it at some point, but I can't remember what I had to do to do that. I could download a client, I guess, but I don't want to have to.
posted by ob1quixote at 3:43 PM on November 28 [1 favorite]


I support this, and am a little bit adrift when it comes to finding more things to get excited and post FPPs about. So much of my life is just.... all-consuming. I've really been enjoying the Whelk's little triumph-of-socialism posts as a form of a "thing is happening that is also not the sky falling", but there's got to be more things to get excited about that are a true break.

I guess what I am now thinking is....

Hell, what would people like to see in new FPPs? How do you generate enthusiasm for those conversations?

I think I tried to kick this off with another WomensMarch last spring, but it sort of fizzled (from my perspective) by way of not having a ton of effort and energy pushing it through as we all reacted. So I guess... What kinds of non-politics things would excite people to see and talk about?
posted by sciatrix at 3:45 PM on November 28 [3 favorites]


one alternative might be a lightly moderated daily open thread where people just riff on what they want to riff on - the chatty stuff can go there, the arguments can go there and many of us can just avoid it when we don't want to deal with it

offensive stuff and overzealous arguing can still be zapped, but the mods won't have to worry about stuff being off topic because there is no topic
posted by pyramid termite at 3:48 PM on November 28 [3 favorites]


Some of us are allergic to Twitter.

Sure, me too mostly -- it's just handy for "here are a bunch of curated links of the day." But I get why a MeFi-format version of mostly that plus some limited, judicious, sober analyis would be more useful for you and others than what exists now.
posted by FelliniBlank at 3:51 PM on November 28 [1 favorite]


one alternative might be a lightly moderated daily open thread where people just riff on what they want to riff on - the chatty stuff can go there, the arguments can go there and many of us can just avoid it when we don't want to deal with it

offensive stuff and overzealous arguing can still be zapped, but the mods won't have to worry about stuff being off topic because there is no topic


Isn't that what chat is?
posted by greermahoney at 4:06 PM on November 28 [3 favorites]


Hell, what would people like to see in new FPPs? How do you generate enthusiasm for those conversations?

After my brief mod stint last month I have committed to trying to make more FPPs and one of the things that is challenging in the age of megathreads is really being happy if a thread gets just a few comments and a few likes. I made two posts in a row that all started because of some goofy trivia thing I heard in a podcast, fleshed out with a few more things I'd learned. And was pleasantly surprised that I got some enthusiastic responses from people for whom the topic was sort of in their wheelhouse. Fun!

The big deal, to me, is to talk about things I like that are just not political for the most part. And it's hard to remember that is still most of the world. May not be, for many people, the most important parts, but it's still most of the parts. So engage with your day to day life and keep an eye out for stuff you like to talk about. And come here to talk to the people you like to talk to.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 4:16 PM on November 28 [20 favorites]


Isn't that what chat is?

Except for the fact that some people can't seem to log in and that apparently you can't scroll up and see more than the past 10 minutes of comments and it's not really a typical Mefi thread.

I can't see any of the Joey Michaels Hawaii stuff, so I don't know what was said (like I would in a thread) but it seems to me that there is a pretty big difference between all of the "apocalyptic fanfic" noise and a Hawaii resident talking about how, largely due to the President's BS, Hawaii is reactivating Cold War Era missile sirens and people are talking about shelters and what to do in the event of disaster. That is absolutely US politics.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 4:31 PM on November 28 [13 favorites]


Thank you mods for both your efforts policing these threads for over a year and for planning the next phase!

I'm curious what will be the deciding factor for when a new megathread is warranted under the new guidelines. Until now it's simply been whenever mobile users start complaining about load time (around 2000 comments).

If this system holds over, it would presumably be several weeks between each new thread, which may exacerbate the side effect of megathreads seeming like a more closed subcommunity since casual visitors may not bother hunting down the thread.

Then again, if you tried some other alternative, like weekly threads or turnover at a lower comment count, then you're effectively making your own job harder by having to moderate more comments from those non-regulars.

I don't have a strong opinion either way so much as just thinking out loud, and maybe you've already hashed all this out. At any rate everything laid out above sounds reasonable and good for the site. Thanks again!
posted by p3t3 at 4:41 PM on November 28 [1 favorite]


A slack channel would fix the ephemerality of chat problem, but that would end up being another thing for the mods to check up on.
posted by notyou at 4:43 PM on November 28


I think maybe some of the issues with the politics threads might be fixed by making them daily, with a big iron door that slams shut after 24 hours.

It wouldn’t be functionally much different than it is now — long linear threads mean it’s not really feasible to post a reply to something from yesterday anyhow. And having a new FPP every day with all the latest bullshit in one handy place might help corral the conversation, and keep all the redundant HEY DID YOU GUYS SEE THIS/YES FORTY-SEVEN TIMES UPTHREAD stuff to a minimum.

At the very least, it’d keep all our devices from bursting into flames. Maybe it’d even give a daily dose of cathartic relief to whoever gets to hit that reset button.
posted by Sys Rq at 4:45 PM on November 28 [4 favorites]


I really appreciate the mods' efforts to keep political discussions useful and tend to the community culture of the entire site. I am a hardcore politics junkie who has basically opted out of the megathreads in recent weeks because I find them just too unwieldy. That isn't a problem in itself, but it is if a lot of people are doing that. And I've been surprised many times recently at the lack of participation in FPPs that I thought were really interesting, but it never occurred to me that maybe the politics threads were sucking all the oxygen out of the room. That makes sense.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 4:48 PM on November 28 [2 favorites]


And Slack is pretty ungovernable by comparison to Metafilter.
10k messages of backlog can blow by pretty quickly for even moderately small communities, and there's basically no moderator tooling available.
Mods would have three options: Talk to someone, delete a message, or ban them. No room for "Take a break for a span of time"

Bonus: Imagine MeMail which you couldn't turn off & which mods couldn't see to step in if something goes wrong. Same goes for private channels.

Slack is built with the assumption that people have an HR department which can handle disputes, and social spaces which use it have to double down on EL-heavy community minding, having shared code-of-conduct guidelines, and being much more tightly aligned around core motivations.

I'd even point to Discord first at this point because of them not being able to ignore building tools to allow moderation to exist and abuse to be locked down against.

Like, I can go into more detail if it's warranted, but take it from someone who's pitched in on moderating a fairly good-size community (at its peak) which had all three above points going for it;
You really don't want PoliticsFilter Slack.
posted by CrystalDave at 4:51 PM on November 28 [10 favorites]


zarq was kind enough to create a PoliticsFilter, which anybody is welcome to join. It never took off, but it's there.

Slack would be good for ephemeral reacting to things stuff, with a better interface than MeFi chat, but I'd hope longer more insightful comments would stay on the blue no matter what.

(This is, to be clear, a separate unofficial thing, not moderated by MeFi moderators, though nobody has said enough in it to need moderation. And as CrystalDave just helpfully demonstrated, there would be problems if it really got to that point.)
posted by zachlipton at 4:52 PM on November 28


May we still have cake in the megathreads? And birthdays?

I have a birthday coming up! And I am eying the current excited goat entrails of journalism and hoping they yield something more rewarding than the standard weekly political bed fart.
posted by jointhedance at 4:53 PM on November 28 [2 favorites]


No room for "Take a break for a span of time"

On Slack you can set a user to Disabled, and then re-enable someone, at least manually. Not sure about an API so that it could be automatically re-enabled with a script. (Actually, they'd probably want to just make it so it's logging in with SSO via SAML or something so the users are the same as all the Metafilter users, and if the state of their Metafilter account is "on a break", have that translate to disabled as a user property or something.)
posted by floam at 4:53 PM on November 28


Yeah, for now I've pretty much come to terms with the fact either my metric for what makes an interesting post has collapsed, and/or that things outside the politics FPPs don't spark conversation anymore. So hopefully this will help people remember that there are fun and interesting things to see outside of Recent Activity.
posted by ChuraChura at 4:57 PM on November 28 [4 favorites]


One tool which would be helpful is some sort of "pruner/pointer" which maybe did something like this:
  • Allow mods to move/duplicate comments from the mega thread to whatever new post is covering that specific topic to help reign in noise and provide pointers. Inline in the mega thread it might look something like
    ... [Moved to "Franken Allegations"] feelslikepornwhenthishastobe notby maxwelton at 12:00 on Scaramucci 567
    And in the new thread it might be
    Some amazing comment. feelslikepornwhenthishastobe notby maxwelton (via megathread) at 12:00 on Scaramucci 567
    Assuming the comment was substantive and warranted moving, of course. This would help people to find the new thread and to understand that's where discussion of it goes.
  • Right above the post button appears something like:
    Discussing one of these topics? Please use that thread instead! [ FRANKEN ALLEGATIONS ]   [ VIRGINIA ELECTION SHENANIGANS ]
  • I do think a link search (even if just a linkify scan of existing page content) on "submit" with a friendly "that's already been mentioned" oops box if a match is found would help a lot.
  • It might also be helpful to make a note appear above the submit button which is triggered by either comment rate or sheer number of comments:
    [This thread is fast-moving and/or has a large number of comments, and we ask you to help keep this friendly to fellow mefites by not just adding noise. Are you posting valuable information or insight, or might it be better to share with the XX members currently in chat?]
    In an ideal world, clicking on the chat link would copy your comment to the chat comment box (not yet submitted, of course).
As a contributor of noise, I will try to be better about not adding too much more.
posted by maxwelton at 5:02 PM on November 28 [4 favorites]


May we still have cake in the megathreads? And birthdays?

I think this is exactly the sort of thing most folks are wanting to eradicate, but I'm actually pretty confused at present about what is and isn't and how much or how little is OK to say over there, so I'm probably gonna go with keeping my fucking value-detracting mouth shut until I have a better grasp of things.
posted by FelliniBlank at 5:03 PM on November 28 [6 favorites]


(OK, gave up on formatting. My work life haunts me where ever I go.)
posted by maxwelton at 5:04 PM on November 28 [3 favorites]


ChuraChura, I liked your Ruchie Freier post, and was hoping there would be more discussion. Did not contribute to discussion myself as my relevant knowledge was pretty much zero.

On topic, as a UK sometimes obsessive reader of the US politics threads, I tend to skim for longer comments (partly because the jokes go over my head), so having fewer one-liners will be helpful for me. But I'm not really the target audience.
posted by paduasoy at 5:06 PM on November 28


Can we also get the date format in scaramucci's? What a great Easter egg.
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 5:07 PM on November 28 [6 favorites]


Omg the mods do NOT have time or desire to port people's comments to and fro in various threads like they are precious jewels
posted by agregoli at 5:07 PM on November 28 [12 favorites]


if the firehose has to come down to a garden hose, I'll give up the laughs and shiny stuff

I think I can speak for most non-megathread-dwellers when I say that we'd love for folks to grace all the nifty conversations going on in the regular front page posts with their charming insights and sparkling wit instead!
posted by Greg_Ace at 5:12 PM on November 28 [6 favorites]


I guess this is a bit metaironic, because referring to past megathreads is a strain point of sorts. But I found that the discussion in the previous thread cortex linked to in the FPP, and especially this comment by cortex himself, which classifies the kinds of comments that go into the megathreads [1], really helped clarify my own thinking about things. It also answers somewhat the "I'm not certain if this is allowed..." questions.

The thread also has detailed discussions about the reasoning that went into pretty much every concluding decision here, and it's a short thread by the standards of the Threadmari Damacy-class threads [2], so I'll strongly recommend reading through it. You may find your concerns allayed.

I've had to stop reading the megathreads by and large, because I Can't Deal. (Due to Reasons, my action-taking is necessarily limited.) But I've tried to maintain my activity elsewhere in the site, which wasn't very hard since I was never that particularly active.

But MetaFilter is enormously valuable to me, as a place to learn things at; and that's included the politics threads. I wouldn't exchange some of the commentary/analysis here for a lot of political journalism. I'm happy with these proposed changes—I think they were both necessary and the best compromise available, and took the best approach, which is going for social rather than technological solutions.

Oh, and I also bumped up my monthly contribution. Seemed like a good thing to do.


[1] And which, incidentally, demonstrates how carefully the mods have been observing and how deeply they have been thinking about The Megathread Phenomenon. That kind of analysis/classification is sweet sweet intellectual candy to me, so I just wanted to point out separately how much I appreciated it, in another bit of, uh, meta.
[2] Rykey, that was amazing nicknaming on your part.

posted by seyirci at 5:34 PM on November 28 [4 favorites]


I appreciate that mefi allows these mega poli threads to go on and on. Probably neither of the following belongs in the main threads (correct?), but I hope will still be somewhere in the Mefi universe:

1. Discussions about our political activities:Our calls, postcards, sit-ins, kissing booth fundraisers, a decision to run for water commissioner because you're fed up with Big Water, etc.

2. Vent Central. MeTherapy. (I really have tried to not turn MeFi into my online shrink. But as others have said, for some of us it is a lifeline, when our IRL situation is not great.)
posted by NorthernLite at 6:17 PM on November 28


I like this!

May I contribute an idea?

Every time one of us starts planning a (what would be inappropriate) comment in a megathread and then decides "hmm, maybe better not to post this, considering" we get to say "go, me!" quietly and pat ourselves on the back. Endorphins!

I'll go first.
posted by kinsey at 6:34 PM on November 28 [8 favorites]


Well, I just had a comment deleted, so, go me!
posted by valkane at 6:37 PM on November 28 [5 favorites]


... [Moved to "Franken Allegations"] feelslikepornwhenthishastobe notby maxwelton at 12:00 on Scaramucci 567

What kinds of browser extensions do you have...?!

May we still have cake in the megathreads?


I imagine the actual (or figurative) enjoyment of cake when some major positive development occurs probably doesn't contribute to mod load. I might be wrong but it seems like people are less likely to get fighty or engage in apocalyptic fanfic when they're busy celebrating the failure of $TERRIBLE_BILL or the resignation/ indictment of $TERRIBLE_PERSON.
posted by Jpfed at 6:40 PM on November 28 [1 favorite]


Can you add a second permanent chat room and name it "Political Chat" in the drop-down menu? Then ask everyone to include a link to it when they start a new U.S. Politics thread?
posted by Jacqueline at 6:44 PM on November 28 [1 favorite]


Probably neither of the following belongs in the main threads (correct?), but I hope will still be somewhere in the Mefi universe:

1. Discussions about our political activities...

2. Vent Central...


Yeah, I think both of those very much have their place on MeFi; probably the vast majority of the time that place is in MetaTalk, where we've had some of both over the last year and a half.

On the venting side we've had a string of general WTF! threads for folks who just need to let it out somewhere, and we may see a new one of those the next time something goes real sideways out in the world here.

On the activities sides, there's also been a number of threads about both specific major events (e.g. planning for and reports from the Women's March) and more general political activism discussions.

And there may be little moments where it's appropriate to mention those things now and then in whatever the current thread on the blue is. As with so many of the other things I noted in the post, this isn't really about "this stuff can never be appropriate" so much as it is "the combined volume of this stuff unchecked is unworkable". The stuff that works as a once-in-a-while, special occasion deal only works when that's its frequency and impact, vs. all the time.

So we'll be moderating a lot more aggressively for a bit to try and get people to reset their idea of what baseline thread activity is. The special occasions and notable moments and exceptional situations will still roll around, I'm sure, and to an extent I look forward to us getting to a place where when they do they feel like some notable moment in a thread, rather than just feeling like "well, it's Tuesday".
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:53 PM on November 28 [5 favorites]


Knowing full well we're in the minority, I'd like to chime in with other users who say they get significant value from the commentary and analysis in these threads, and don't necessarily view them as primarily a source of links to news items. Most of the major news events posted here appear first on Twitter and shortly afterwards on Politico, HuffPo, TheHill, Vox, etc. I presume much of the "breaking news" here comes first from Twitter (though I don't use it myself), but either speedy or aggregate news is not the most valuable or unique part of what I myself get here, since both are obtainable elsewhere. I wouldn't even say that the depth of insight here is better than the best essays I read a day or two later in more mainstream forums. But something about the community discussion -- the analysis, the unpacking, the thoughtful criticism and conversation -- is totally unique to Metafilter, and a resource that is all the more valuable to me because I can't quite articulate why it's so important. Even a great joke is a wonderful thing, just as a deep piece of satire by Petri or Colbert can be, both illuminating and emotionally rewarding. I wouldn't know how to distinguish good jokes from bad on the fly, or incisive analysis from a repetition of some point the mods have heard a dozen times before. But notwithstanding those very real practical issues, I just want to chime in with other users when they say things like:

I find it really useful to scroll through informed commentary (and yes, some of the silly riffing) as I try to catch up on what it all *means*. Sometimes I can't participate for two days, but I do want to see what was said, especially by users I recognize and whose opinions I have grown to respect.

[Few places] offer this type of insightful political discussion and camaraderie in a secure and moderated setting.

Whatever my current level of engagement with US politics at any given moment, I can count on the amazing contributors of the threads to be there with solid analysis even though my personal politics are pretty far left of most here.

I can get news headlines anywhere, but the interpretation is what I can't get anywhere else.


[Apologies if these quotes misrepresent anyone's views.]

And for what it's worth, I myself am a fairly sophisticated consumer (and occasionally producer) of political news, so while the mods may often feel they've seen it all before -- and maybe at some level of granularity they are correct -- I do feel that even those of us who live and breathe this stuff can gain a lot from the discussions around here, over and above their strict informational content. I know these threads aren't going away and that mods won't be enforcing some silly draconian ban on discussion and commentary, but insofar as there is some play in what constitutes productive conversation, I'd like to add my voice to others who ask for as light a hand as is pragmatically possible in restraining the wonderful voice of Metafilter.
posted by chortly at 6:55 PM on November 28 [30 favorites]


Once again, possible solutions I don't love but might please the mods:
(a) Limit everyone's ability to post per day.
(b) Rolling midnight threads
(c) Required amount of text in each post before you hit, so you can't just put one liner jokes or one link any more, but it must be a substantive paragraph.

But in all honesty, I just don't care any more about fun fluffy stuff. I don't care about putting out the energy to look for it or read it 90% of the time, much less do FPP's about it (not that I've done a lot of 'em before this). The world is on fire and I can't care any more about stuff that isn't related to the world being on fire. About my only way to get away from this stuff is to go away from the computer, and if I'm on the computer, I'm reading the world's worst soap opera 90% of the time. I should be doing my homework now, but uh....nope, reading about what's on fire. Fun fluff is just not a priority any more, reading the politics threads is. Sorry about that, but I don't seem to be able to focus on other things to make the site better and more fun for people who can't take it any more.
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:04 PM on November 28 [16 favorites]


As a separate comment, I'd also like to join those asking for a daily thread. Many of the issues the mods have discussed are cold pragmatics, which I totally support, but I'm unclear on what the pragmatic argument against a daily thread would be, apart from cluttering up the front page. It would solve all the loading problems everyone has, and would reduce the burden the overwhelmed or occasional participant feels by encouraging people *not* to read through the previous days' threads if they missed them (which is a good thing, at least for those who are feeling overwhelmed). A daily reset would also I think curtail some of the meandering, albeit at the cost of someone actually doing the daily post. In any case, I know there are practical arguments against it, but the advantages seem significant, and the front-page-clutter issue superable through various technical solutions. Hopefully we're not missing an easy technical fix out of a merely philosophical objection to a daily politics catch-all.
posted by chortly at 7:06 PM on November 28 [8 favorites]


Not to flagellate an expired horse or anything, but what percentage of members (not viewers) access the site via mobile? Because if my experience of Chat today was anything like what a majority of members will experience when trying to take their commentary to Chat, then I don’t think Chat (in its current incarnation) is a real solution to political thread bloat.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 7:08 PM on November 28 [2 favorites]


It’s so unfair! It’s always about zachlipton. Zachlipton! Zachlipton! Zachlipton!

And if you think I’m coming back for the MeFi Megathread Hour post-2020 you’ve got another thing coming. You might as well recast me right now!
posted by Talez at 7:27 PM on November 28 [3 favorites]


It's been better lately, in part because the pace of new threads is slower, but I always used to dread new thread time because it always produced a crush of one-liners, starting old conversations up again like they're new, and other undesirable stuff, which all required a bunch of moderator attention and produced a lot of comments in the absence of much to talk about. I like the broad concept of daily threads reducing the burden for people to participate without having to feel like they need to read thousands of comments before they can speak, but fear daily threads would make a lot of these problems far worse.

Honestly though, I'm at a loss for what the threshold is for putting stuff in the thread anymore, and based on today, I feel like others are as well. I'm very much on board with the idea that we don't need a gazillion comments hating on, say, something outrageous Tomi Lahren said. But if Trump's tweets don't make the bar unless and until something substantial comes of it a day or two later, it stands to reason that nobody should post other "look what THIS asshole said" stuff about Trump, like an NYT story, to use a current example, about Trump ranting about the Access Hollywood tape and Obama's birth certificate being fake. Or this related Post story which doesn't contain "small- or medium-sized substantial developments," but is a look into the President's state of mind and an analysis of his behavior. If those things don't belong, that's fine. I've personally read them already, and other people can find them on their own, or not. But I, at least, have no idea whether they belong or not.

In any case, I've personally been dialing things back lately, and will continue to do so, but if Trump's tweets don't generally belong in the US politics thread, but a discussion in which people somehow believe courts apply RFC 2119 to statutory interpretation does, I've got no real idea what we're doing from the standpoint of "what information should be conveyed in these threads?"

It’s always about zachlipton. Zachlipton! Zachlipton! Zachlipton!

Ok this is just weird.
posted by zachlipton at 7:43 PM on November 28 [17 favorites]


As a dedicated lurker and favoriter, I can't thank the people who are good at participating in the political thread enough.

You are my heroes. You are all rockstars. It may not seem like such a big thing to you, it may feel like you're just cut and pasting the obvious, but it makes a lot of difference to many of us.

I'm good at some things, but I'm lousy at finding useful political news even with Twitter, and the news linkers here are wonderfully fast and helpful. Most are great at also giving context, which is often desperately needed. I'm also a slow composer of words and seldom have anything useful to add to the discussion, but I read every comment.
posted by monopas at 7:49 PM on November 28 [23 favorites]


(Sorry Talez. That didn't really come out right; I meant it was weird to see. I appreciate all your insights in the threads.)
posted by zachlipton at 7:53 PM on November 28 [3 favorites]


Ok this is just weird.

I know, right? Talez, are you sure you don't mean lalex?

(I keed. You may be a single, two-headed body, but I strongly echo monopas in their appreciation of you and everyone else's contributions- especially that added context.)
posted by Iris Gambol at 7:53 PM on November 28 [4 favorites]


zachlipton: "I've got no real idea what we're doing from the standpoint of "what information should be conveyed in these threads?""

I think this is probably something still evolving? If you think something is newsworthy, I say make a comment, see what happens.

For my two cents, I've enjoyed today not being a white-knuckle pace where I could actually, for example, read and close some open Metafilter tabs.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:56 PM on November 28 [13 favorites]


Rumple: Also, people, post more good stuff to the front page.

This. All the time. This will actually fix many problems. This is actually a thing that will enliven and sustain the community that people can do once in a great long while or with daily frequency.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 8:18 PM on November 28 [4 favorites]


I'm in a contrarian mood so I'll come out and say that the 24-hour/midnight restart seems like a terrible idea. First of all, whose timezone? If things roll over at midnight Eastern, I foresee tons of extra chat where people are complaining that they didn't get to something because it's not midnight for them. More importantly, I think that a new daily post would actually increase the amount of repeat link posts because if people already can't be bothered to ctrl-F the thread before posting their link, they're definitely not going to check the end of the previous post.

And on a different note, I think that it's really clear that one of the biggest impasses that seems insurmountable is people's relation to the megaposts vs the rest of their online news activity. I'm someone who is not on twitter or getting constant notifications from major news outlets and otherwise spending all of my online time getting news from everywhere; I come here. Judge that if you will, but I find it much better for my mental health to do a kind of "one stop shopping" approach. (And asking as someone not on Twitter... isn't twitter the better venue for the quips and running jokes that often clog up the megaposts? I mean, an obvious reply to the people who are all, "I get my news elsewhere! I come here for the jokes!" is to turn it around and ask why getting jokes elsewhere isn't an equally-valid--or equally unworkable--request).

I am in favor of limiting posts-per-day to the mega-threads, though.
posted by TwoStride at 8:23 PM on November 28 [4 favorites]


I laughed Talez. Out loud. So did my mom.
posted by monopas at 8:23 PM on November 28 [2 favorites]


Last 2c in partial favor of (previous) status quo: While I perhaps agree that the half-dozen most frequent posters in the megathread might dial it back by 50% with little loss of quality, I'd also like to say how much I appreciate the work they do and the quality of their work. I'd also humbly submit that nudging folks like zachlipton into omnibus posts like this one is not preferable to giving each of these separate items its own post as it breaks (and would perhaps also be an unfortunate result of per-person post limits). I did notice that more individualized posts became the pattern later in the thread, so maybe this adjustment is already happening. So anyway, this is just expressing a passing preference for (a) single-topic comments vs omnibus ones (Chrysostom's and other topically-coherent omnibuses excepted, of course), and (b) allowing those who do follow the news widely to post widely, since I at least find almost every one of those news items of at least passing interest. And finally, I'd just like to thank those frequent posters not just for the amazing informational content of these threads, but also for their patience in dealing with the various new requests from the mods, which I'm sure for many folks would result in not a few flounces.
posted by chortly at 8:29 PM on November 28 [13 favorites]


(Sorry Talez. That didn't really come out right; I meant it was weird to see. I appreciate all your insights in the threads.)

You didn't watch much Brady Bunch as a kid, did you? I think monopas got the reference.
posted by Talez at 8:59 PM on November 28 [6 favorites]


And now it makes far more sense!
posted by zachlipton at 9:06 PM on November 28 [4 favorites]


"Knowing full well we're in the minority, I'd like to chime in with other users who say they get significant value from the commentary and analysis in these threads, and don't necessarily view them as primarily a source of links to news items."

Mods in general also like the commentary and analysis. What's snowing us under is the contextless liveblogging, the repeated endless riffing, the bickering that's Participant A and Participant B starting up round 6,000 of a fight they've been having in every thread for over a year, etc etc etc.

Thoughtful discussion, explanations, exploration, analysis -- those are all things we want to see. Not JUST links! Nobody is asking for a linknibus thread, but a more information-dense thread where the signal-to-noise ratio is better. Thoughtful commentary and analysis is absolutely signal. In fact, we hope that we will have better commentary and analysis when it's not getting lost in the noise of one-liners and endless "AAAAAAAAAAAAA"s of horror. (Not that I don't love the one-liners and not that I don't emit my own AAAAAAAAAs of horror, but they are noisy.) It'd be great if as you scrolled through 50 comments, it wasn't 42 one-liners, jokes, riffs, and expressions of existential horror to get to 4 comments with great links and 4 comments with really thoughtful analysis, but maybe like 20 comments with great links and 15 comments with thoughtful analysis and 5 comments asking on-topic questions and 8 comments with really good answers and just a couple of cake jokes for leavening and I hope that added up to 50 because I'm sleepy and my math glands have already shut down for the night.

In the megathreads lately it's like 80% noise, 20% interesting links, substantive analysis, thoughtful commentary, and other forms of signal. (And if you don't think it's that noisy, that may be because we're deleting noise before you see it, and it's awesome that the modding is pretty seamless from the user perspective! but there is a lot of it going on.) It'd be great if we could reverse that ratio and have 80% signal.
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 9:32 PM on November 28 [28 favorites]


I just want to jump in with a PSA that if you *are* anxious at the prospect of mega-thread slow-downs because like me, you need to know there are smart and like-minded people out there having active discussions, just make a Twitter account.

Yes, I get it, Twitter is evil blah blah you're boycotting it. Fine, whatever. Not for you. But if you aren't boycotting it - pick some women/PoC writers to follow. Jamelle Bouie. Nikole Hannah Jones. Vann R Newkirk. Check out who they are retweeting; follow some of them.

Then let your feed fill up. Go to bed, wake up, boom - 150 new tweets. Hot takes. One liners. Retweets. Long form articles. Breaking news live discussions. All the crap from the megathreads, right there in Twitter. It is literally all of the same shit.

I don't really engage with the megathreads anymore because it's basically turning into a massive, repetitive twitter feed with no character count limit.
posted by windbox at 9:53 PM on November 28 [11 favorites]


and may have mods insert a line and a link at the bottom of new politics posts.

If we want to change behavior it'd probably help to have brief guidelines permanently next to the comment box, and links to Chat and the other single-purpose politics threads of the day.

"Might what you want to say be better discussed in Chat?"

I've finally logged into Chat for the first time - unlike Ask, the login box requires entering a password, which may slow folk down.
posted by sebastienbailard at 9:57 PM on November 28


Just chiming in to say that as an American abroad the megathreads have been the only source of meta-news I can reasonably do, given the lack of good coverage in my overseas location and that I'm awake when the US is mostly asleep, so the pace isn't such a factor for me. Less noise would be refreshing too.
posted by mdonley at 2:39 AM on November 29 [5 favorites]


I'm probably not the target audience here, but as an occasional reader of the megathreads, I am of the opinion that a comment that is just a one-liner link is noise just as much as a one-liner joke or venting, or whatever. I'd like to see more actual meaningful content in the threads, and less "here's a link I found!" stuff which, to me, adds nothing at all. If people just want the latest links, those are available elsewhere. It's prefer the bar for comments to be set at the comment itself adding to the conversation, with no allowance for the content of a link.
posted by Dysk at 2:51 AM on November 29 [7 favorites]


Also, people, post more good stuff to the front page.

You know who has two thumbs and makes excellent FPPs?

No, seriously, I would like to know.
posted by Literaryhero at 3:29 AM on November 29 [4 favorites]


Why are we still doing megathreads? A lot of the problems you're trying to solve with this are due to the "catch-all" nature of those threads, and perhaps it's time to move on from that. I think the political threads need to adjust their focus - instead of catch-all, have them be catch-similar. So the Moore-Franken-Conyers information can all go together, Asia trip-North Korea goes together, Mueller and other investigations together. Cross-pollinating comments would still need to be moderated, but the conversations would be more focused and less likely to drone on. When there's not much happening, the catchalls seem to fill up with noise because they're there. What if we take them away?
posted by GhostintheMachine at 3:43 AM on November 29 [4 favorites]


A lot of these proposed solutions just create other problems. Arbitrary comment limits and midnight rollovers would really change the culture that’s sprung up organically here, and probably destroy all the good while not really eliminating the bad. What we need is to self-police. I don’t post much. But I write comments all the time. I just usually finish writing and ask myself, “does this contribute something to the community, or am I just caught up in the moment?” 9/10 I delete and move on.
posted by Glibpaxman at 3:45 AM on November 29 [2 favorites]


SILENCED ALL MY LIFE!

*always wanted to say that*
I wanna buy all you mods a round or three - your engagement and care over the last year has been really exemplary. I can't imagine what you've had to excise but I know that the threads are almost full with pertinent, intelligent view-points. OK maybe not full, but I never feel like something has been chopped out.

I also imagine that no one thought this waking nightmare would extend this long (ahem, could someone go nudge Mueller? ) and the chance to bounce off one's experiences and thoughts about all this has been invaluable.

So thanks.
posted by From Bklyn at 3:47 AM on November 29 [2 favorites]


Also, people, post more good stuff to the front page.

This frustrates the hell out of me, because like Chura I've sort of concluded that it's not worth making more fpps because people don't care. There's less discussion, less favorites, less attention generally, and I'm personally burned out and tired and finding fewer things so personally joyful that I can be powered to share them based on my own enthusiasm. That isn't a fucking rare experience right now.

When I look for FPP content, I do it because I find joy in something and want to be share it with people or because I want to have a specific conversation. I make FPPs out of a desire to engage. I count them as successes if they inspire pretty much any strong response: I am as proud of my FPPs that inspire a good conversation as I am those with no comments but a pack of favorites. But I don't find throwing something up and having it be more or less ignored to get rewarding, dammit, and that means that non political FPPs are difficult for me personally to rev up to push past the inertia and create.

I asked what people wanted to see more of literally because having people say "I want to see weird niche history events" or "I want to see reminders that life can be good somewhere" or "I want to see more bizarre biology weirdness" actually tells me what will reward me with engagement if I put the energy into making it.

For crying out loud, folks. Robust ecosystems of discussion off the damn megathreads do not happen without actual participation.
posted by sciatrix at 4:13 AM on November 29 [16 favorites]


I love the megathreads but have slowly pulled away in the past couple months in favor of what is left of my sanity, trying to be more creative in my life, and working on political stuff locally.

The information is useful to me but I 100% understand why these changes need to happen and will further back off snarky quips in the threads.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 4:54 AM on November 29


Thank you very much for this. I'm so happy to be part of a community that actively engages in its well-being.

I banned myself from the poli-threads for a while for mental health reasons but as I'm slowly recovering I find that they're impossible to read. I'm still pretty sensitive about exposure to politics, but if I were to dip my toe back into it, I wish I could through Metafilter, which I have always appreciated it's collective perspective on these matters.

Instead, as I still actively ignore news outlets I get my political updates through Buzzfeed. Which... I mean it's fine, pretty good in fact as far as 'reporting the news' goes. But it doesn't really fulfill the community, personal feel that the Metafilter filter does.

I 100% support these changes and for my part, I'm going to try and comment in the non-poli threads more because I appreciate that people need positive feedback.
posted by like_neon at 5:04 AM on November 29



Thanks to all the mods, for dealing with the endless thread, for tackling this—which I see as a huge change in the way Metafilter exists as a resource and as a community—and just, in general, for the rest of the site, which continues to be excellent. I subscribed for a monthly donation during the election, and you all continue to reward my donation spectacularly.

My take on this whole thing is that in a major way, the politics megathread is a completely different beast.

Metafilter FPPs in general generate focused conversations on interesting topics that end organically after the topic is thoroughly talked out. This is how Metafilter has been curated by moderators in the past. The main way the megathread is problematic as I see it is because it is a broadly focused thread. It covers a lot of topics that I want to keep up with, and keeps adding new ones.

Metafilter has had a policy of avoiding chat posts, which was largely suspended for the politics megathread. And yet I value the chattiness and topic openness because, to me, it allows us to probe these issues more deeply and pursue connections that tend to be cut off when the focus is tighter. It has become home for a number of regulars and it generates valuable insights. I think one sign of this is the push for a new sexual assault megathread.

It’s a direction metafilter could go. I don’t know if it’s a viable direction; I think it would require more staff and revenue to support chattier threads with broader topics.

I think the megathreads have strengths: they become a sort of sub-site for breaking news, vital information, cross-topic discussion, and actionable ideas on issues that are larger than a single focused event, person, or idea. They bring mefites with similar interests much closer together.

But moderation which would usually happen behind the scenes happens in public and becomes part of the public conversation. Chatfilter has to be constantly enforced because the thread is chatty. Topic drift is a major issue because the topic isn’t limited. The wide focus precludes focused discussions for some topics which end up subsumed, and members who don’t have the time for the megathreads lose them completely.

I like the megathreads. I also think they change Metafilter in ways that will break it if we all aren’t careful. The suggestions above all look like good steps in the right direction and I hope they work. I would suggest putting off any new megathreads until we see whether the current one can be lived with.
posted by Wilbefort at 5:11 AM on November 29 [1 favorite]


GhostintheMachine: "Why are we still doing megathreads? A lot of the problems you're trying to solve with this are due to the "catch-all" nature of those threads, and perhaps it's time to move on from that."

Because then we get MeTas with people complaining that they see multiple political threads.
posted by Chrysostom at 5:17 AM on November 29 [6 favorites]


Hi, I've been mostly a lurker lately, but I'd like to suggest a "2-before-1" approach:

-When you open Mefi in the morning, click on 2 new posts before you click on the current mega thread/recent activity
-When you want to comment on the mega thread throughout the day, make 2 new comments/answers in other threads before your 1 new political comment.

2-before-1.
posted by that's how you get ants at 5:19 AM on November 29 [11 favorites]


Today's Trump tweet is going to be a good test of how we handle his tweets.
posted by diogenes at 5:39 AM on November 29 [1 favorite]


instead of catch-all, have them be catch-similar.

We've kinda tried that already, and it starts looking like the cork board with red string. Everything's interrelated.

Dialing the chatter back a little and taking a few moments to add some context and thoughts[1] (maybe "Why am I posting this link anyway? What did it make me think when I read it? Which red strings does this pull on?") feels like an easy win to me for dramatically improving the megathreads for everyone.


[1] It really isn't a race. You're not going to beat talez/lalex/zachlipton to getting the link moved from twitter to here. they're machines. ;-)
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 5:39 AM on November 29 [5 favorites]

For crying out loud, folks. Robust ecosystems of discussion off the damn megathreads do not happen without actual participation.
Eh, I try. But commenting on cute dogs feels so incredibly artificial when all I can think about is that there's a malignant narcissist in the WH actively trying to kill me. I've taken to gritting my teeth so hard at night while I sleep that I've loosened them at the roots. And every day I go the mailbox wondering if today's the day they're taking away my disability. You'll have to forgive me for not finding much to say about anything else.
posted by xyzzy at 5:47 AM on November 29 [14 favorites]


diogenes: "Today's Trump tweet is going to be a good test of how we handle his tweets."

I feel like so far, so good? People have been providing context, and not just saying, "What an asshole."
posted by Chrysostom at 5:47 AM on November 29 [6 favorites]


I'm definitely patting myself on the back for not posting something along those lines. It wasn't easy!
posted by diogenes at 5:58 AM on November 29 [5 favorites]


In the megathreads lately it's like 80% noise, 20% interesting links, substantive analysis, thoughtful commentary, and other forms of signal. (And if you don't think it's that noisy, that may be because we're deleting noise before you see it, and it's awesome that the modding is pretty seamless from the user perspective! but there is a lot of it going on.) It'd be great if we could reverse that ratio and have 80% signal.

Yes I agree with this so much! I don't care so much about the links although I absolutely see where they're valuable and it's just a personal thing, but I do really like analysis, especially comments that put what's happening in a broader context from voices I might not hear so much otherwise.

This is an example I'm getting from stuff I see on Twitter not the threads so I don't know if it's actually in there, but I really appreciate stuff like "When Donald Trump talks about how Elizabeth Warren has claimed Native ancestry and the media focuses on that instead of his incredible racism it shows how we pick apart everything female politicians do and let Republican men get away with everything". I think stuff like that is really interesting and helpful, much better than "JESUS CHRIST I JUST FUCKING CAN'T WITH THIS GUY". I have a lot of sympathy for that point of view! I also literally can't with this guy and his goddamn racism and his misogyny and his affection for Andrew fucking Jackson but twenty comments of "I just fucking can't, he's so racist" (which is absolutely true!) makes it harder for me to read and appreciate comments that include analysis of how the racism plays out, who it's affecting and how, how coverage is lopsided, &c., and that's really interesting to me and I'd appreciate the chance to see what thoughtful people have to say about these kinds of incidents and it's harder for me to do that when the threads are full of people posting jokes or rehashing old arguments.

Boy do I have a complicated relationship with the cake stuff; I think it's kind of neat and interesting that it's still happening and I'd like to read them to see how it's being framed now but on the other hand maybe I don't? Perhaps because I am petty and small.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 6:02 AM on November 29 [8 favorites]


Yeah, I hear that, xyzzy. Fuck knows it's hard for me to focus on other things, too! That's why I'm complaining to begin with: people are asking for more non political front page content, and not actually rewarding it with attention or focus. If you're not asking, my aggravation is not directed at you.

And all love for Johnny Wallflower aside (and I have a whole lotta love; I admire and respect the hell out of what he does for this community), cute qua cute isn't my thing either. Which is why, given the constant exhortation for more people to provide non political content to grab attention, I'm pointing out the lack of incentive for folks posting FPPs right now and asking what other break topics folks would like to see.
posted by sciatrix at 6:02 AM on November 29 [1 favorite]


Good work (re: this post), good luck (with MeFi’s developments), and good thoughts (I’m sending to you), dear hearts.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 6:22 AM on November 29 [8 favorites]


we'd love for folks to grace all the nifty conversations going on in the regular front page posts with their charming insights and sparkling wit instead!

Metafilter is the place (or one of the places) where I write about things that interest me and of which I have some knowledge. I don't write about topics that don't interest me or about topics of which I know I'm ignorant or about topics which might be presumptuous of me to write about at all. And that's okay! It would be absurd to do differently! But it may explain why charming insights and sparkling witticisms—or mine, at least—are not fungible.

And there may be little moments where it's appropriate to mention those things now and then in whatever the current thread on the blue is.

Where can I sign up to be notified of these moments?
posted by octobersurprise at 6:34 AM on November 29 [1 favorite]


I'm pointing out the lack of incentive for folks posting FPPs right now and asking what other break topics folks would like to see.

It may be partially due to the holiday season. I was on a posting roll for a while but I'm not seeing a whole lot of stuff I'm excited about right now. Also, it's a little busy for me and I have no Moore, so I assume lots of people are much busier even.
posted by Room 641-A at 7:19 AM on November 29


I asked what people wanted to see more of literally because having people say "I want to see weird niche history events" or "I want to see reminders that life can be good somewhere" or "I want to see more bizarre biology weirdness" actually tells me what will reward me with engagement if I put the energy into making it.

Everybody's gonna have different answers, is I think part of it, and this discussion has such a specific sort of mission/charge to it that people may not be wanting to dig in on that right now; I think this question would be really good as its own MetaTalk thread, actually, to get folks to talk in a focused context about the various things each of them likes or looks forward to or so on. We've done that in an ad hoc way in the past and doing it again seems like a fine idea.

We're also about to kick off a Best Posts contest in December, which I think is useful not so much for literally discerning Which Post Is Best but for providing some explicit prompting there: here's various things you could go make a post about, here's a kick in the pants to make one or ten, here's a nudge for everybody to go look at posts.

For me, I hear you on the enthusiasm loop problem: if you're scraping by emotionally, you don't have the energy to invest in constructing posts; if you're looking for a boost from a post as payoff and it's very quietly received, that's frustrating. Both of those are totally valid things and they're things I've felt myself at times, and you can look at my posting history over the last year to see that I've had fairly busy stretches and real quiet ones. Life gets in the way, not everybody has the spoons all the time for this stuff.

So my general exhortation for folks to go make posts and go participate in other threads shouldn't be taken as "literally everybody go do this now, or you're not doing MetaFilter right" sort of thing. Everybody's different, everybody's in their own spot. But if some people can, if another ten people go ahead and make a post this week, if another hundred people go comment even briefly in some interesting thread this week, that makes a difference.

And if that happens, and those threads get a little more attention, then posters will feel that. And that sense of gratification for posting will be a bit more there. And posting will be easier to feel like doing. And there'll be more interesting stuff to look at and comment on. And participating in other threads will be easier. And, and, and.

It's cyclical, it's an ouroboros, it's an ecosystem. It's not a lightswitch, we can't change it by just flipping something on; it's all about the accumulation of little bits of slightly-more from a whole bunch of people, manifesting as a palpable shift in overall activity that no one person could be responsible for.

For my part I do best at actually making posts when I really get out of my own head and just do it almost automatically. See a thing go by on mastodon or mltshp or twitter or Projects, think, "neat", do three minutes of link-collecting and make a one-liner post, done. I don't let myself agonize over it or get invested beyond "I think this is cool, a few other people might too", and then it's a post and I can close the tab and check back later to see who if anyone dug it.

And a lot of those posts I make get only a handful of comments and a handful of favorites and it's a drop in the ocean compared to a big, highly-commented thread, but that's okay! That's most posts! That's been most posts forever. But the six people who explicitly signal that they saw that bit of art I tripped across, or that bit of games writing I liked, or that bit of computing silliness a friend mentioned to me in passing, they got that out of MetaFilter that day, and it was a positive thing for them, and that's good enough. And the hundreds of people who saw it in passing but don't actively participate on MeFi in a way I can measure saw it and got something out of it too. And that's part of what makes MetaFilter a thing that exists in the public consciousness, outside of the comments and the favorites and so on.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:21 AM on November 29 [12 favorites]


I'm pointing out the lack of incentive for folks posting FPPs right now and asking what other break topics folks would like to see.

I think part of the problem for me at least is that our current national dystopia affects how I perceive the world in so many ways I know I can’t even fathom them all. And I know we’re trying to keep analysis of that stuff away from the walled garden of the rest of the site. So sometimes I don’t comment on stuff that would or does interest me, because I know where my analysis often leads.
posted by corb at 7:25 AM on November 29 [5 favorites]


I *would* like if someone would write an informed post about this new Apple security problem.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:33 AM on November 29 [4 favorites]


I *would* like if someone would write an informed post about this new Apple security problem.

There's not much to it. MacOS automatically upgrades passwords without shadowhashes (like root which is normally disabled on a MacOS install) after authenticating as a security measure. On that particular dialog box there was an error in logic where the password couldn't be authenticated so it upgraded the password using the CURRENT password and wrote it to the root account also enabling it.

Here's a long form breakdown for you.

We could have an FPP but it'd denigrate into 50% "how could Apple be so stupid" and 50% "Apple sucks!" so I'm loathe to do it personally.
posted by Talez at 7:47 AM on November 29 [9 favorites]


It's been spoken about in the past that the rest of the world exists outside of the USA and how Metafilter should respect that.

It's true that what happens in the USA government affects the rest of the world and it's also true that what's happening in Washington is a fucking shit show and that needs to be said out loud and analysed. But life continues on despite what's happening in the White House and I agree that it's important that this site reflects that. It doesn't make what's happening less important, it just emphasises that it's not all about US politics. Bad and good things are happening everywhere, in every country, and I think we all need to not only remember that but to make the effort, as far as we're capable, to engage in other things on this site outside of the catch-all threads.

The catch-all threads were designed as a way to stop posts about US politics from completely taking over the front page of the blue and to an extent that has happened but I think it's important to respect the mods request that catch-all doesn't mean that those threads have to catch all the attention.

I fully admit to being a bit obsessed about what's happening over there and for a while I had an extra tab open for months with the latest catch-all thread but I had to let it go. I still open it up when something super appalling happens (so obviously that's every second day) but I close it now when it reaches the point where people are just rehashing things over and over.

This is the new normal and it shouldn't be. It would be great if we could all fucking chill but we can't. I understand that and I wouldn't ask anyone to just pretend to be interested in things that they're not.

But for the sake of Metafilter remaining a point of interest and a place where people come to in order to discover new things and to discuss interesting things it's so important that we don't get bogged down in just this terrible US administration.

It's a big world full of wondrous things. The site should reflect that.
posted by h00py at 8:11 AM on November 29 [14 favorites]


It's a big world full of wondrous things. The site should reflect that.

Agreed. But there's really only one way that's going to happen: people need to make posts. More specifically, if the front page is going to be less US-centric, more mefites who are located outside the US should definitely be making posts. They are most likely to have a direct understanding of the country and culture involved. Mefites tend to post about things they know or have become aware of. Americans can and do post about non-American things. But if anyone would like to see more things on the front page that interest them, then they really should be making the effort to be the change they want to see.
posted by zarq at 8:29 AM on November 29 [6 favorites]


Part of me loves this, as the megathreads are unwieldy, noisy in a way that overshadows much of everything else, and hard to get your bearings within. Am I in the right one? (I'm often not.) Does one of the previous 700 comments already cover the info I wanted to add in? Control-F may not tell me with any certainty and I may not have hours to read carefully to make sure. I definitely see how this makes a kind of sense.

Part of me though feels like we've been beating up a community post/comment system to do something it wasn't designed to do and now that it's mutated and gotten out of control we want to try to prune it back into something manageable? I think maybe for me, I am not 100% convinced this site is the best format for political discussion, even as I am 100% convinced the people at this site are the people I'd most like to talk through these things with. I would not pretend to know how to reconcile that.

There are very smart, much more involved people than I am at work on this, and they think the plan in this post is the best idea. So I will offer my support and hope for the best.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:33 AM on November 29 [5 favorites]


Is there a help file available that gives information about the mefi chat interface? I'm curious about one of the available functions but would prefer to not clutter the thread.
posted by zarq at 8:50 AM on November 29 [1 favorite]


Clutter the chat thread? Not possible.

Direct Quote: "Feel free to natter about chickens."
posted by slipthought at 8:54 AM on November 29 [2 favorites]


For those who don't comment in threads where they don't have anything "useful" or "new" or whatever to say: just say "Great post!" If you want, add something about what you especially liked, or give a pull quote, or something, but the important thing is just to offer a verbal appreciation (favoriting isn't the same thing). I know from back when I was still posting that it was really important to me that at least a few people said nice things about the post; I didn't need a lot of comments, but silence is utterly depressing.
posted by languagehat at 9:11 AM on November 29 [16 favorites]


In 2008, back when political stuff on the front page was routinely deleted for being 'electionfilter,' I asked where I could go to find electionfilter stuff and was pointed toward the SomethingAwful forums' politics subforum. I was honestly skeptical but it really is pretty great, much more intelligent and less gross and bro-y than you might imagine. I have continued to vist those forums on and off ever since, and spent most of the last election splitting my time between our megathreads and theirs, and I got a lot out of both.
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:22 AM on November 29 [5 favorites]


I want to say on a personal note, that one of the things I really value in the politics threads is when people say "I called my rep and here's how that went".
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 9:31 AM on November 29 [28 favorites]


I checked in on the current US political thread this morning, and it seemed really meaty and interesting and satisfying, so my impression would be that things are going well and thank you to the mods and everyone posting in that thread the past few days!

For FPP posts, I do love the animal ones, because that is where my marshmallow softiness resides, but I would also love to maybe see folk art and food traditions of various areas, art art art and crafts, women artists, and cool pop culture. At least, going by my favorites, that is what I like.
posted by Squeak Attack at 9:37 AM on November 29 [6 favorites]


Clutter the chat thread? Not possible.

I want to ask questions about the ignore function without getting into a debate about it or having people speculate about why.

It would clutter the thread.
posted by zarq at 9:40 AM on November 29 [1 favorite]


one thing that would help cut down on duplicate links is using the actual headline as the link instead of hiding it behind mystery meat.

And if you're linking to an article in The Guardian, please don't intentionally mispell the name of the paper. It took me months to realize that there wasn't some blog called the Grauniad.
posted by Uncle Ira at 10:07 AM on November 29 [20 favorites]


Today was a particularly horrible news day to wake up to on the west coast, with screenfulls of awful push notifications on my phone, and I just want to thank everyone who made the thread an informative and insightful way to get caught up.

I've been trying to favorite more non-politics FPPs lately where I don't comment. I check into and read a bunch of threads, but often don't have anything really to say, so the person who created them just sees more silence. A favorite to let them know, in a tiny way, you appreciate the effort that went into the post takes just a click. I know I've appreciated them on posts I've done that didn't get a lot of comments, just a little sign that people were still there and cared whether or not they had anything to say.
posted by zachlipton at 10:14 AM on November 29 [9 favorites]


I know you guys are busy but can we nip stuff in the actual bud. Like someone makes a baity assertion, people reply, chain gets deleted, baity assertion stands, watch a new set get deleted.
posted by Talez at 10:22 AM on November 29


I'm very unhappy about this change and my decision to stop supporting the site monetarily feels even more correct.
posted by TypographicalError at 10:28 AM on November 29


First thing, you don't actually need to reply to baity assertions.

Second thing, yeah, this is a case where the conversation people are having in there would normally be fine, and nobody's doing anything wrong, so I'm sorry to be pushing back on it.... Initially just now I was slow off the mark in corraling this, because again people aren't doing anythign wrong at all, and I don't want to be discouraging people...

...but it is really just "we're all in here, so let's shoot the shit about broadly politics-related topics, like the 90s or generational change", and it will lead to an hour or more of conversation on these topics, which is interesting but repetitive and not focused on potus45 or current events at all. So - I fully get why people want to have those conversations. "Do people get more conservative as they age" could be a whole night at the bar, unto itself. But this is one of the things that we're going to try to prune, to reduce the frequency of -- very general topics like this. So, I'm sorry, I should've been quicker and more decisive in this case; it's a big adjustment from the mod side as well as the member side.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 10:31 AM on November 29 [5 favorites]


Would it be better off to contain that sort of thing into a subthread quarantine without going to full on hierarchical? It might need some back end work or would it just be too much to moderate?
posted by Talez at 10:40 AM on November 29


I feel bad for Joey Michaels. I think he misinterpreted a comment in chat about no nuclear stuff all the time and he vanished after that. I don't think any harm was meant by either party and poor Joey was clearly stressed out about the NK thing.

I like chat when people actually chat in there. Someone commented way upthread that it seems a bit cliquey at times, and I would agree with that. Many times I've popped in and there'd be 6-10 people listed but hardly any conversation or even just a hello. I felt like I was interrupting or something.

Thanks for all you guys' work, O Mods and Cortex. I will do my best to behave!
posted by yoga at 10:48 AM on November 29 [2 favorites]


contain that sort of thing into a subthread quarantine

Threading comments like that isn't on the table, no. And some degree of conversational drift like that is going to keep being fine in other threads -- it's really just the megathreads where we want to push to make these threads more lean, and kind of break the expectation that "everybody's in here, so this is the place to have whatever conversation will be had, and there'll always be something to pop in and chitchat about." (Which again, I totally sympathize with, and nobody's doing anything wrong to feel this way. But if we're going to rein the threads in, that sense of "all conversations happen in this one thread" has to shift.)
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 10:50 AM on November 29 [4 favorites]


I think the thing about no conversation is: chat’s been dead-ish for a while. I’ve been in chat long enough to recognize all the regulars and it can still be kind of dead. It’s not that it’s cliquish, it’s that people have gotten out of the habit of, well, chatting. Don’t be intimidated!
posted by corb at 10:51 AM on November 29 [2 favorites]


Could always put a chat box below the comment box in potus45 threads?
posted by Talez at 10:56 AM on November 29 [1 favorite]


I would like to make an FPP, or two. However, what keeps me from doing it is that about 99% of interesting stuff I would love to share is by people I know, either through work or friendships. And i have this (maybe wrong?) memory of reading somewhere that making an FPP about someone or linking to someone i know is a bannable offence.
Which seems a bit sad to me because my job brings me in contact with very many truly interesting people and they speak for example at some event i organise which is videotaped and put on you tube by my employer, but am i right i cannot link to those?. While I know some of them well but would not call them friends and while the relationship is cordial itis professional, with a few excexceptions who have become friends. So what is the right thing to do?
posted by 15L06 at 11:26 AM on November 29 [1 favorite]


You're right that "friendslinking" (as it's called) is a bannable offense. (The idea being, it avoids even the appearance of spammy posting motives.) And you're right that it means we sometimes miss out on some really great stuff from people who are insiders in small scenes. It's something we've talked a bit about relaxing, so yeah, that's something we might revisit at some point.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 11:29 AM on November 29 [2 favorites]


Re chat, I want to thank corb for reaching out with a “Hi!” when new people entered the room. It made me much more comfortable in there than in the past. (Even though the iPad changed your name to corn and really wanted to know if your dog was a dentist.)
posted by Room 641-A at 11:38 AM on November 29 [3 favorites]


TypographicalError: "I'm very unhappy about this change and my decision to stop supporting the site monetarily feels even more correct."

It would probably be more productive if you talked about what specifically you don't like about it, and what your alternative suggestions are. Rather than just saying "this sucks!" and walking away.
posted by Chrysostom at 11:43 AM on November 29 [20 favorites]


I check into and read a bunch of threads, but often don't have anything really to say, so the person who created them just sees more silence. A favorite to let them know, in a tiny way, you appreciate the effort that went into the post takes just a click. I know I've appreciated them on posts I've done that didn't get a lot of comments, just a little sign that people were still there and cared whether or not they had anything to say.

We had a theme month awhile back where people posted things that made them happy, and one of my suggestions then was that readers could make a quick comment if the thing also made them happy so that posters know that others are reading along and liking what they post. Since then, I've been trying to do that myself -- I pop into threads where someone has shared something neat and just say something like "thank you, this is neat". Because sometimes that's all you need to say to make the poster feel like their effort was worth it. And it adds the thread to your activity, so if someone else comes along and says something substantial, you get the benefit of that, too. It's really made me feel involved in threads about art and cool people more and in fighty Asks about relationships less, and I suspect it might help with politics junkies, too. Even if the megathread is always the first thing on your My Activity page, it won't always be the only thing with anything new.
posted by jacquilynne at 12:18 PM on November 29 [8 favorites]


There's less discussion, less favorites, less attention generally

Sciatrix, I'm really sorry about this. What I'm about to say right now may not seem like I appreciate FPPers like you, but I really, really do. I became a mefi years ago because of the fantastic FPPs. But when Trump took over, I wasn't suddenly given an extra hour a day. Yet somehow I need to find time in my day to call my rep to plead for my life, write postcards, text voters, keep up with the craziness so I can let my friends and family on Facebook know what the heck is going on, so *they* can write postcards, call reps, etc. I'm not saying this is out of the ordinary. I think a lot of us in the mega threads are doing these things. But that time had to come from somewhere and what that means for me is I generally don't click on FPPs that I *might* be interested in, and stick to ones where I know I am. And I'm not commenting a lot on them either. I know this sucks, because why would you keep posting if we're not engaging, but I don't know what the answer is. I truly miss hanging out in fanfare, and taking joy in most all of the FPPs. I hope to someday get that time back. And I certainly hope when that happens they'll be the wonderful posters there still plugging away. But I couldn't blame you for not waiting.
posted by greermahoney at 12:23 PM on November 29 [15 favorites]


Not being involved in politics is a privilege. That is something I have learned from Metafilter. And, god, how I miss that privilege.
posted by OnceUponATime at 12:31 PM on November 29 [9 favorites]


People can be involved in politics and do other things too. (Or they can be involved in politics exclusively too.) It's okay for people to have different amounts and types of energy and interest, and it's ok for people to budget where they're spending that energy and interest however they judge is best for them.

There's nothing productive about shaming or guilting people for not posting or not looking at non-politics posts, and I don't think that's really what anybody's aiming for here. If you're feeling like you can't or don't want to spend time on other stuff, that is a-okay.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 12:40 PM on November 29 [20 favorites]


I just mean... It's not just fun FPPs on MeFi that I'm skipping now. It's novels, and TV shows, and exercise, and time with my kids, and... I mean I never had much free time to begin with, and now my anxiety issues demand that I spend almost all of it trying to understand and/or resist what is happening to our government. (I tell myself to take a break, but I actually cope better when I feel like I am doing something, or at least understanding something...)

So I mean it that I miss feeling like it was safe to disengage from politics. I know a lot of people never have had that privilege, but I did, and I miss it.

And now if MeFi misses the old me, who commented on FPPs about papercraft and SF shows and obscure bits of history.... Well, I miss the old me too, and so does my family.
:-(
posted by OnceUponATime at 12:50 PM on November 29 [17 favorites]


(I tell myself to take a break, but I actually cope better when I feel like I am doing something, or at least understanding something...)

Oh, same. I thought I was the only one.
posted by greermahoney at 12:54 PM on November 29 [3 favorites]


> I checked in on the current US political thread this morning, and it seemed really meaty and interesting and satisfying, so my impression would be that things are going well and thank you to the mods and everyone posting in that thread the past few days!

Same here: I think it may be working!

> I check into and read a bunch of threads, but often don't have anything really to say, so the person who created them just sees more silence.

Again, it just takes a second to type "Great post!" or the like. If it makes you feel stupid to just do that, try to get over the feeling, because it really makes a difference to the poster.
posted by languagehat at 12:54 PM on November 29 [13 favorites]


Yeah, I kind of feel like other FPPs are a gamble, given how stressed I feel by daily life. Like, at least I know exactly what I'm getting into the with the political megaposts, whereas with a random FPP I hate clicking on it and then getting unreasonably upset (because I have no margin these days) at the usual Your Favorite ___ Sucks/Someone Is Wrong On Teh Internets comments. It's just too extra-disheartening, and makes me more hestitant to click/engage.
posted by TwoStride at 12:55 PM on November 29 [3 favorites]


Thank you LM for the clarification. especially linking to my employers you tube channel would appear like i am spamming for clicks. I agree.
posted by 15L06 at 12:56 PM on November 29


I come across really fascinating stuff all the time, through work and through my own personal interests. The big problem is that I'm not online much, and everything cool I see is in books and articles. There's no way to share that, short of hoping I can find a decent article online that talks about it. This might be a question for a different kind of thread, but what can we do when there's an interesting subject, but we don't know how to share it on this site?
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 12:57 PM on November 29 [1 favorite]


Again, it just takes a second to type "Great post!" or the like. If it makes you feel stupid to just do that, try to get over the feeling, because it really makes a difference to the poster.

Great comment!
posted by Chrysostom at 1:00 PM on November 29 [11 favorites]


^^^ Me too!
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 1:10 PM on November 29 [3 favorites]


Don't make me break out the noogies.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:26 PM on November 29 [3 favorites]


Good job, everyone!
posted by octobersurprise at 1:44 PM on November 29 [2 favorites]


cortex: For me, I hear you on the enthusiasm loop problem: if you're scraping by emotionally, you don't have the energy to invest in constructing posts; if you're looking for a boost from a post as payoff and it's very quietly received, that's frustrating. [...] So my general exhortation for folks to go make posts and go participate in other threads shouldn't be taken as "literally everybody go do this now, or you're not doing MetaFilter right" sort of thing. Everybody's different, everybody's in their own spot. But if some people can, if another ten people go ahead and make a post this week, if another hundred people go comment even briefly in some interesting thread this week, that makes a difference.

TwoStride: Yeah, I kind of feel like other FPPs are a gamble, given how stressed I feel by daily life. Like, at least I know exactly what I'm getting into the with the political megaposts, whereas with a random FPP I hate clicking on it and then getting unreasonably upset (because I have no margin these days) at the usual Your Favorite ___ Sucks/Someone Is Wrong On Teh Internets comments. It's just too extra-disheartening, and makes me more hestitant to click/engage.

To reduce the stakes of that gamble, might I suggest the following as a way to increase one's MeFi engagement without the onerous onus I know we have all at times felt when hitting the "New Post" button on the Blue:

Just go ahead and throw together some FanFare posts. Or a series of posts!

It can be about anything at all that you are into, and the probability of acrimony is lower. Of course, if it's older and/or obscure, the probability of RESPONSE is a bit lower too :), but it's a comparatively safe-feeling environment. Speaking for myself, I sympathize with a great deal of what folks are saying about feeling tapped out—but being on the Star Trek Voyager FF team has been surprisingly helpful in basically forcing my attention away from the Trumpocalypse on a regular basis, and has made me feel like a part of this site to an extent I had not previously approached.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 1:46 PM on November 29 [3 favorites]


And if you're linking to an article in The Guardian, please don't intentionally mispell the name of the paper. It took me months to realize that there wasn't some blog called the Grauniad.

The very first hit if you type it into google is the explanation for Grauniad. If you expect British contributors to give up any affectionate colloquialisms which might take you five seconds on google, do you intend giving up GOP or Sally Mae or similar American nicknames for institutions which might require non-American posters to google? Or is it a one way street round here where non Americans should know their linguistic place?
posted by Flitcraft at 2:15 PM on November 29 [16 favorites]


The Grauniad thing is something we've been over, some folks like it and some don't, both in the UK and in the US and even in the rest of the world. Here's a past Metatalk about Grauniad/Guardian.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 2:19 PM on November 29 [3 favorites]


I always write ‘Guardian’ because I’m sure I’ll misspell ‘Grauniad’ and that's not funny.
posted by Room 641-A at 2:24 PM on November 29 [6 favorites]


There's definitely part of me that would find it funny to misspell the misspelling or even continually scramble the letters so you were always talking about the Arugndai or Nuadirga, but I'm not going to pretend like it wouldn't infuriate even the people who like Grauniad and make threads significantly worse.
posted by Copronymus at 2:33 PM on November 29 [1 favorite]


You're right that "friendslinking" (as it's called) is a bannable offense. (The idea being, it avoids even the appearance of spammy posting motives.) And you're right that it means we sometimes miss out on some really great stuff from people who are insiders in small scenes. It's something we've talked a bit about relaxing, so yeah, that's something we might revisit at some point.

Can't folks do friendslinking through Projects currently? Or is friendslinking a weird edge case that is beyond both Projects and making a post directly?
posted by filthy light thief at 2:44 PM on November 29


Depends. Projects posts should be your own work. So if you're collaborating with a friend, that could go in Projects. But a pure "my friend has this cool thing", there's no place to post that in itself. You can put it in the comments of a related post, with full disclosure.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 2:46 PM on November 29


The Front Page looks great right now. 19 posts compared to 20 all day yesterday and some great variety, and mostly low-impact and fun. I wish I had time to read it all.
posted by Rumple at 2:49 PM on November 29 [2 favorites]


But a pure "my friend has this cool thing", there's no place to post that in itself. You can put it in the comments of a related post, with full disclosure.

Yeah, if that's the case just get your friend a MeFi account.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 3:18 PM on November 29 [1 favorite]


Grauniad

For some reason, the word always reminds me of Au Gratin Potatoes. I cannot see it without also picturing a bowl or tray of them in my mind.

This is probably a key to my deeper, much weirder psyche or something, which I am trying very hard not to ponder.

Or perhaps I'm just always in the mood for cheesy potatoes.

posted by zarq at 5:18 PM on November 29 [4 favorites]


I appreciate that many regulars in the megathreads find them essential, but I am one who has been missing the posts and comments normally to be found elsewhere. Honestly I’m also a little worried about some of y’all, with absolutely zero condescension intended. So I hope that this set of changes will be positive for MetaFilter and Mefites alike.

sciatrix, I’d love to see more posts on things (especially internet things) coded feminine that aren’t often given respect. Fandom, Anne Helen Peterson articles, fashion, whatever. There are these healthy female spaces and interests that are so awesome to learn about.

Also: a long time ago I decided that I would comment in every zero comment FPP that I could. Sometimes it has to wait until I’m in a place to read the link or watch the video (because part of my deal is that my comment should be aware of the material and not just a ‘good job’), and sometimes someone else has jumped in by that point, but every now and then an FPP goes up and eight hours later there’s still no comments.

So I consider it a super-small contribution to the MetaFilter community to comment. If you are in a place where you have enough bandwidth to try it, I encourage you to join me.
posted by librarylis at 6:07 PM on November 29 [30 favorites]


Speaking as someone who sometimes makes posts that attract zero comments, and kind of obsesses over them: thank you librarylis. That's quite awesome of you. :)
posted by zarq at 6:10 PM on November 29 [5 favorites]


zarq, i need you to know that your comment inspired my dinner tonight: i am making gratin and i am very excited about it
posted by halation at 6:13 PM on November 29 [7 favorites]


I'm trying to be better about favoriting, too, which I sometimes forget to do.
posted by Chrysostom at 6:42 PM on November 29


Belated suggestion: how about a floating chat widget in the in the margin in designated politics threads? It would be a bit of work to put together but it could marry both parts of what people like in the megathreads (community/commedy/commiseration alongside actual content).
posted by ropeladder at 6:52 PM on November 29 [2 favorites]


I'm trying to be better about favoriting, too, which I sometimes forget to do.

I turned off favorites, which has been great, but I often forget to favorite stuff until I see something I want to remember.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 7:01 PM on November 29


Honestly I’m also a little worried about some of y’all, with absolutely zero condescension intended

None taken. Hell, I'm a little worried about myself.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:17 PM on November 29 [7 favorites]


I’ve been a member since August 2001, and have never had the guts to make a FPP. Maybe I’ll try to work up the courage in December.
posted by Superplin at 7:37 PM on November 29 [7 favorites]


Thank you.
I know that the mods are weaving through a booby-trapped field this week, trying to re-fit the political megathreads into a workable form without alienating the contributors. But pruning this top-heavy load after a year of letting it evolve is the only way to make it sustainable.
No one knows what goes into a project in its final form, and how much is left on the cutting room floor. The amount of day-to-day work done by the mods can only be guessed, although they have been voicing their concerns. Again, thanks for all the hard and thoughtful editing of what we see on the blue.

My thoughts on changes in the megathread --
No post limits or word limits. This would discourage infrequent posters from adding their insight. Instead, the current decision to remove off-the-cuff remarks makes more sense. The push is not to steer the megathread toward a limited number of posts, dominated by the frequent contributors, but toward more space for a diverse community with thoughtful, meaty analysis and source materials.

Favorites within the megathread. This is usually my only contribution to the threads. Would unlimited favorites within just the megathread help slow down the noise? Would one post during the Thursday vote of "the RNC tax plan is highway robbery" and 200 favorites be preferable to 200 posts without context?

A weekend turnover for the megathread, regardless of size. Sunday at 12:01 a.m. a new megathread goes up and the old thread closes. The predictable nature may encourage posters to table new conversations and hold links until the new megathread is underway. Weekends can be slack time, allowing posters to research their on-topic ideas before the latest breaking news surfaces. Weekly megathreads would also make finding information easier months later.

I look forward to the next version of the political megathreads. I hope that after the first few days the evolved product will be more satisfying, for posters, moderators and lurkers like myself.
posted by free f_ cat at 7:37 PM on November 29 [5 favorites]


"Maybe I’ll try to work up the courage in December."

We're acknowledging first- and second-time posters in the best-post contest! So it'd be a great time to do it!
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 7:43 PM on November 29 [7 favorites]


I’ve been a member since August 2001, and have never had the guts to make a FPP

This is my second account, my first was started September 2001, and I made 0 FPPs on that one and exactly 1 on this account, so it took me almost 15 years.
posted by thefoxgod at 8:12 PM on November 29 [2 favorites]


It’s working.
posted by valkane at 8:16 PM on November 29 [1 favorite]


I'm really encouraged to see this slight shift in direction and I salute the mods for their patience with the inevitable growing pains.
posted by Phire at 11:31 PM on November 29 [2 favorites]


I’ve been a member since August 2001, and have never had the guts to make a FPP.

Have you seen the crap I put up?! Go for it!
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 11:38 PM on November 29 [14 favorites]


For first timers, there's no shame in going for the low-hanging fruit! It also took me years, but then I saw a 1) stop-motion short, 2) recreating The Wire, 3) made of Lego, and even I was like, okay, one person will like this. It got enough good feedback that it took away the fear. Just make sure it's something you genuinely find interesting; you can work your way up to that mega-post about your favorite niche subject.

I think people who have been engaged here for years, even lurkers, make great first posts because they already know what makes a good post.
posted by Room 641-A at 12:02 AM on November 30 [6 favorites]


halation, hope your potatoes were delicious!
posted by zarq at 3:26 AM on November 30 [2 favorites]


I'm very unhappy about this change and my decision to stop supporting the site monetarily feels even more correct.

Thank you for your patronage. In respect to your wishes I'm doubling my monthly contributions.
posted by Molesome at 4:23 AM on November 30 [9 favorites]


I've always found the interface for creating FPPs to be a little daunting and have probably given up and discarded more half-written posts than ones I've actually gone through and posted.
posted by octothorpe at 4:54 AM on November 30 [1 favorite]


it was actually a white bean, onion, and celery root gratin, with bread crumbs and gruyere/swiss on top

and it was spectacular
posted by halation at 5:08 AM on November 30 [6 favorites]


I still find the "Grauniad" thing beyond annoying but that ship seems to have sailed. Maybe I could find a TaperMonkey script that changes it back to Guardian.
posted by octothorpe at 5:26 AM on November 30 [6 favorites]


halation, that does sound nice.

octothorpe: it sailed some time ago, Grauniad likely dates back to at least the 1960s.
posted by biffa at 5:49 AM on November 30 [1 favorite]


Maybe I could find a TaperMonkey script that changes it back to Guardian.

Once my pull request is approved, you shall have your wish.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 6:04 AM on November 30 [8 favorites]


I still find the "Grauniad" thing beyond annoying but that ship seems to have sailed. Maybe I could find a TaperMonkey script that changes it back to Guardian.
posted by octothorp at 5:26 AM on November 30
[1 favorite +] [!]


You mean back to "the GraaAAArdian"?

I'll see myself out
posted by From Bklyn at 6:43 AM on November 30 [1 favorite]


I'm really encouraged to see this slight shift in direction and I salute the mods for their patience with the inevitable growing pains.

Same here. I've notice a definite change in the megathread since this announcement, and it's made it noticeably more focused and easier to navigate. I hope it's been easier on the mods too, and I'm pretty proud of us for being able to police ourselves in this way.
posted by Rykey at 7:13 AM on November 30 [6 favorites]


Ugh. So I wrote three chatty comments today and deleted them before posting. But I just posted a one-liner response and now I'm second-guessing myself. I guess I'll see if that's OK or not...
> The tax cuts do not remotely come close to paying for themselves.
These are, alas, our collective surprised faces.
posted by RedOrGreen at 12:40 PM on November 30


I'm trying to cut out a lot of sort of reflexive chat stuff that's coming into the thread, and it's a bit of a feel thing and also not being absolutely merciless about it if the thread's stayed fairly on point for the last bit.

So that comment for example RedOrGreen falls into the mushy "this is just kinda chatty" territory that I could easily nix, but also am not gonna be hell-bent about if it's not one of a dozen in a row from folks. Whereas I probably nixed four different Trump Pooping comments in the course of a couple minutes because apparently that was sufficiently low hanging, uh, fruit that people just sort of collectively went for the same not very good riff.

Work in progress getting this calibrated, so I feel you on the uncertainty. And while I've been around watching and responding to this MetaTalk the last couple days, they were technically days off so this has been my first sustained shift of watching the catch-all under this new set of guidelines.

It's been interesting and a bit weird but also, as much as I don't actually get fiendish pleasure from deleting people's comments (I'd rather just get folks onto the same set of expectations so no one feels surprised or put out by deletions very often, which is why we're doing this in the first place), I will say that is has been kind of a...relief? to just go ahead and nix a lot of stuff that had previously come to feel like an unwanted but inevitable fixture of these threads. This is a non-trivial change to be making and I know it's a mixed bag for some folks, but it honestly feels pretty good to be leaning in on it.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:53 PM on November 30 [11 favorites]


Yeah the toilet story was something I probably could have done without posting, I don't know.
posted by zachlipton at 1:16 PM on November 30


I probably nixed four different Trump Pooping comments

what

Yeah the toilet story was something I probably could have done without posting, I don't know.

don't wanna know
posted by zarq at 1:21 PM on November 30


For context, the toilet comment
posted by zachlipton at 1:27 PM on November 30


That's when you just blame it on the covfefe and move on with things, albeit with an ever shrinking sense of normality.

(Plus the next comment there is about "movements being monitored". Heh heh.)
posted by Burhanistan at 1:32 PM on November 30 [3 favorites]


I think the new relevance threshold is working fabulously. I'm addicted to the megathreads, but they've been making me cranky lately. (As opposed to making me furious, which is a feature, not a bug.) There's been way too much crap to wade through. Now I'm flagging the hell out of chatty stuff, "this is terrible" one-liners, extended apocalyptic scenarios, links that have been posted a million times, and anything else that seems like dross. And mostly they are being zapped! I think the megathread is becoming much more readable, and hopefully people will begin to self-censor a little more when they find their comments disappearing.

So, thank you mods, and thank you people who are being more restrained with your comments!
posted by neroli at 1:55 PM on November 30 [7 favorites]


It's the least I could do.

I probably nixed four different Trump Pooping comments

lol pooper scooper
posted by octobersurprise at 2:20 PM on November 30 [4 favorites]


Fuck you mean the Guardian and the Grauniad are the same fucking source??

Also I didn't mean to imply in my comment WAY back in the thread that there shouldn't be discussion and commentary or it should just be a series of links. Just that sometimes the thread becomes like 50 comments about why people are conservative or whatever and it's not related to anything other than people feeling the need to keep posting. I think the mods have a good handle on what is and isn't relevant, judging from the current thread and it makes it a lot easier to keep up with.
posted by threeturtles at 2:47 PM on November 30 [4 favorites]


I meant to say it sooner, but I think this is a great move, and I'm glad so many people are on board with it. I'm especially grateful for the mods, and for everyone who says they've been making an effort to modify their behavior for the greater good. I've been a huge grump about the politics threads, but even I think they're way better than they used to be. Although I'm not the intended recipient of these efforts, I do appreciate them nonetheless.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 3:02 PM on November 30 [2 favorites]


Only 8 posts from when I left work till until I got home? It's working!
posted by agregoli at 4:41 PM on November 30 [1 favorite]


Once we get past 1500 posts the rate starts to slow dramatically through attenuation. The potus45 post isn't on the front page, mobile browsers start to creak, people have to put up with more to sift to the thread and the cost-benefit analysis goes towards "fuck this shit".
posted by Talez at 5:09 PM on November 30 [1 favorite]


Well, yes, I know, since I've been following these posts from the beginning. But I've never seen that few between my work-home interval, so something definitely changed. The links are thicker, the chaff is less. Thank you, mods!
posted by agregoli at 7:26 PM on November 30 [5 favorites]


My own request: as much as I find them funny and clever, could we also voluntarily cut out the poems/limericks/altered song lyrics?

seconded except that I do not find them funny or clever because they are not, ever, and never will be. if they could be deleted not just as they happen but in advance, pre-crime style, it would be super. if that means my hilarious jokes (that do not rhyme or go on for fifteen stanzas, because they're high-class jokes) are likewise deleted and expunged, that is completely fair and well worth it.
posted by queenofbithynia at 9:46 PM on November 30 [15 favorites]


Thanks for the thoughtful post. As a 95% mobile user who rarely visits MetaTalk, I only saw this because for once, I checked Metafilter from a desktop and saw the sidebar. I'm not a huge megathread reader, in part due to the issues described, so I didn't see a link in the thread. (I read AskMe, skim the blue, then go read politics on Twitter.) I now have more hope that I might be able to keep up with the threads. It may be that others like me aren't really the target audience for this post, but I was glad to see it. Might you want to link to it at the top for a couple of days after the current Mefi Mall banner has had some time to shine?
posted by slidell at 10:19 PM on November 30 [2 favorites]


Might you want to link to it at the top for a couple of days after the current Mefi Mall banner has had some time to shine?

Please?
posted by ZeusHumms at 11:35 PM on November 30


rehashing arguments that have been had a bunch of times in previous threads over last months/years

This sounds too restrictive. I am 99% sure that the next go-around about the 2016 Democratic primaries will be the one that settles the issue once and for all.

I very much hope that Chrysostom's "ELECTIONS NEWS" updates are considered by the mods to be some of the stuff of value in these threads.

Chrysostom's updates are the best! I keep meaning to figure out if I can set up a feed or something of them for myself because to me they're the most valuable content in these threads.
posted by schroedinger at 2:05 AM on December 1 [5 favorites]


It would probably be a huge help to have a separate chat channel, if channels are possible, dedicated to politics threads and have every catchall link to it right at the top. If a separate channel isn't doable, mods could decide to just let politics threads spill into the main chat for awhile when they arise.

I agree with nearly all the changes. With any other mod team, I'd be much more afraid of the broad nature of the moderation rules posted, but I know you all will be fair and measured. That said, I do have a couple specific concerns:

- writing up fake "what if they said/did THIS dumb or outrageous thing" quotes and scenarios
>>>>This can be either a useless addition or a valuable parody/satire that makes a political point. Taking a given policy to an absurd conclusion can reveal the absurdity of the policy.

- rehashing arguments that have been had a bunch of times in previous threads over last months/years
>>>>>Needless repetition every couple of threads is needless, but people ebb and flow into and out of threads on long enough timescales that they might not have seen something last said 6 months ago or a year ago. The "months/years" is what gets me--if something is said once or twice a year, it's likely that someone hasn't seen it. Again, my trust in the mod team keeps me confident that enforcement will be balanced.

Having said that, the mod team has done amazingly with the herculean task of handling the politics threads and a few quantitative easing measures for comments are definitely appropriate. Thanks for all your hard work!
posted by Grimp0teuthis at 8:07 AM on December 1 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I hear you; those are both matter of degree things where we're aiming more for cutting it way down than for saying that it's just outright off the table.

Like, someone occasionally salting the conversation with a bit of thoughtful and pointed absurdity isn't an issue in the way that folks collectively reflexively doing it in response to every tidbit is.

Likewise the stuff we're calling out re: rehashing isn't "this literally ever came up before", it's stuff that comes up again and again and again. Especially if it's something that tends to turn into an actual argument every time it comes up. So it's not so much "sorry, Captain Holtron mentioned that six months ago so hush" as it is "y'all do not have fight #17 about this right now".
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:27 AM on December 1


I'm actually bummed out about this. I'm in the minority, I guess. I like the venty, jokey politics threads. I need that in my life. You may say, 'can't you get that anywhere?' and I'd say 'Yes, yes I can, and I need it every single minute of my waking life because this is how I live now, because I am punchy as fuck and so is everyone else.'

Chat's not the same (although I'm lurking to try it out). The throwaway comments people make in politics threads usually have some thought behind them--I really don't see it as noise. Even when I'm scrolling-scrolling-god-help-me-still-scrolling through the politics threads, I never see things and think 'wow, that person could have kept that thought to herself'. I guess that illustrates why I'm part of the problem.

I get why it's unmanageable and clearly not everyone finds it as satisfyingly distracting as I do. I guess my alternative is Twitter but I'm old and Twitter is weird.

Ah well.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 8:34 AM on December 1 [9 favorites]


They're not going to ban all joking, for pete's sake; don't catastrophize (there's enough of that going around). Who likes jokey remarks more than cortex? They just want it pruned back so that the threads are readable. Please give our pruning overlords a chance.
posted by languagehat at 9:02 AM on December 1 [9 favorites]


Yes, since apparently it's number of comments and not (so much) each comment's length that's causing the problem, joking within an otherwise substantial comment seems totally par for the course. Actually, it seems like the best of both worlds.
posted by Rykey at 9:46 AM on December 1 [1 favorite]


a joke that adds to the momentum of a given strand of discussion -- I think there's no problem with that. A joke that distracts however, and opens its own wormhole ...

As to which is which. I guess if such causes one to hover for a moment and wonder, should I post this? How is that a bad thing?
posted by philip-random at 9:54 AM on December 1 [1 favorite]


i wanted to make this comment in the politics thread but then i remembered this thread so i'm posting it here also to ask if this kind of comment is allowed/wanted

Metafilter: In all seriousness, I'm not getting my hopes up because I don't have any faith
posted by numaner at 11:57 AM on December 1


I also heroically restrained myself from posting something that would have got me favourites.
posted by RobotHero at 12:01 PM on December 1 [11 favorites]


Hey I don't know if this is the new rules being followed or the mods being vigilant (probably a combo of the two) but I wanted to thank everybody for the political thread being the restrained, helpful to read on this day of SO MUCH NEWS.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:25 PM on December 1 [5 favorites]


It's definitely a mix of both. I've been watching the thread and nixing a fair amount of stuff that falls into the outlined problem areas up in the post, but it also hasn't been a ton and I think that reflects a lot of active collective effort from folks, and I really really appreciate that.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:27 PM on December 1 [7 favorites]


When does a fresh thread start? My mobile is gasping.
posted by agregoli at 1:01 PM on December 1


I mentioned in the current one earlier that a new one's probably fine whenever given the current comment count; no one's specifically checked in about drafting one but someone may be beavering away as we speak.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:04 PM on December 1


i pretty much only lurk and read the megathreads rather than posting but as a frequent reader here are my two cents:
- i am okay with and like the fact that the same people post over and over, actually. i like seeing these people's comments and value their contributions in the overall context of now having a sense of where many of these specific people are coming from, what their backgrounds are, etc. that adds value for me.
- i agree that the funny comments inject much needed levity into these threads and i want them to continue.
- the way i'm able to navigate these threads is that i use the multifavorited multiwidth extension. this has been IMMENSELY HELPFUL as I skim and only read comments with a certain number of favorites, so the conversation is effectively whittled down to the most important news, the most thoughtful discussions, the funniest one-liners, etc. I get the entire variety of the types of comments that make these threads good, but only the best of them. maybe we could have a sidebar or some other easily seen reminder of the fact that this option exists and how to use it. it's a total game-changer for these threads at least for me. (although i guess it's also more helpful for me since i read these threads in marathons while generally being at least a day or two behind. it's less useful if you're reading it as it goes along.)

thanks mods, commenters, and FPP makers. these threads have helped me maintain a sense of sanity over the past year, as i currently live in a place where people in my immediate work and social circles arent generally as tuned in and fired up about this stuff so i rarely discuss it with actual humans in my life. metafilter has been a helpful surrogate for that.
posted by robotdevil at 3:49 PM on December 1 [1 favorite]


I had no idea that extension existed, robotdevil. Thanks for the tip, I'll give that a whirl!
posted by tautological at 6:15 PM on December 1


Just to give a wee position statement on the new thread, I'm gonna be extra heavy on the modding for the first little bit to avoid the pattern of new-thread inflation that we've been seeing.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 7:38 PM on December 1 [9 favorites]


Been watching breathlessly as the new thread grows... and shrinks. You're truly doing good work restless_nomad. Good luck, we're all counting on you.
posted by Start with Dessert at 7:45 PM on December 1 [3 favorites]


Bless you. The worst part of the megathreads is the first few hundred comments that just... appear... after a new thread shows up.. then people settle down to business, if there's something happening.

I'm guilty of contributing to this myself, and it's largely because the thread turnover happens during the lulls where it's full and something is going to happen soon... so it just gets lull noise.
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 7:50 PM on December 1 [2 favorites]


I think this re-calibration has been a long time coming and I fully support it.

Is there a particular flag we should use for comments that violate these guidelines? I've been using "noise" (and I was flagging that for several weeks before this thread, so sorry if that made it harder for the mods)
posted by Rainbo Vagrant at 8:54 PM on December 1 [1 favorite]


Noise is totally fine, derail is fine, anything other than display error honestly gets the same mod glance as everything else.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 9:07 PM on December 1 [1 favorite]


Everyone, r_n just said noise and derails are fine!!!
posted by Chrysostom at 9:19 PM on December 1 [6 favorites]


A mod at one point said to flag as "double comment" comments that are just a link or article someone else already posted upthread. I've been using that a bunch. Is that still the recommended thing to do?
posted by zachlipton at 9:33 PM on December 1 [2 favorites]


That's a good idea, yeah, forgot about that one.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 9:34 PM on December 1


I don't feel like I generally contribute a lot of noise, but most things I've tried to say recently have been plucked out of conversations where what I was responding to is there, and other comments responding are there, but my comments are deleted. While I understand that the Thread is probably a nightmare to mod, I would also say that the current editorial decisions make it seem like some commentators are more equal than others. For me, special snowflake that I am, it feels silencing to have multiple comments over a day or two be deleted, especially when those were my only contributions, thus any trace of my part in the conversation has been deleted. I have effectively been erased from the conversation when that happens, and I'm not sure that was the intent, but I now feel like I am not welcome to participate.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 12:10 AM on December 2 [3 favorites]


So, now that the most recent one has closed and given the events of the day, would a new Fucking Fuck thread be in order?
posted by monopas at 12:36 AM on December 2


Go for it.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 12:41 AM on December 2 [2 favorites]


Just a brief note now that I've actually finished reading this thread:

I do really like the proposed increase in moderation to cut down noise. The sheer amount of effort it takes to read through the entire megathreads feels to me like it leads to diminishing returns, and has drastically cut my interest in Metafilter overall. I've hoped for a similar approach for a while, but had assumed that mod resources simply weren't there to engage on this level. Beyond that, I think/hope that a more active moderation focused primarily on noise will both cut down on the often frustratingly inconsistent deletions and give deletions a less adversarial feeling. It's easier to not feel singled out if there are more deletions in general.

I do think that at every point where the community relies on mod authority rather than member action to enforce and regulate norms diminishes the responsibility of members and the ability to hold each other accountable, but I both recognize the value in skilled labor and I think that by culling more often, the barrier to meaningful engagement with the megathreads (and threads in general) will be lowered.

Anyway, since I complain about mod decisions often enough when I disagree, I think it's also a good idea to note when I agree and am encouraged. I think this is both a good approach and one that's been fairly well communicated — anything that relies on judgment of mods is going to be impossible to pin down totally prior to the implementation, but I feel like Cortex especially and the rest of the mods have done a good job talking through what this will mean in practice. It still won't fix the problem of the corrosive black heart of despair eating through America's body politic, so the threads themselves will still probably be a bit of a slog, but at least this seems like a pretty good change for the MeFi community.

I do have one worry though: If you cut out the endless repetitive arguments, how will we know whether Bernie would have beaten Trump?
posted by klangklangston at 10:50 AM on December 2 [9 favorites]


ಠ_ಠ
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 1:22 PM on December 2 [1 favorite]


I do have one worry though: If you cut out the endless repetitive arguments, how will we know whether Bernie would have beaten Trump?

PISTOLS AT DAWN, KLANGKLANGSTON.
posted by corb at 1:29 PM on December 2 [9 favorites]


I do have one worry though: If you cut out the endless repetitive arguments, how will we know whether Bernie would have beaten Trump?

I accounted for that aspect, too; I've been running a recurring neural network simulation adapted from Google's "Deep Dream" infrastructure to figure out once and for all how a notional Bernie/Trump matchup would have played out. Requires a lot of computing power, so it'll be a while before the simulation reaches a reliable equilibrium point, but based on the early indications I can safely predict the President of the United States would have had seventeen different dog faces emerging from his body and clothing and podium.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:59 PM on December 2 [30 favorites]


how will we know whether Bernie would have beaten Trump?

delete your account
posted by halation at 2:51 PM on December 2 [11 favorites]


The new moderation is doing _something_. I'm noticing a lot more names that weren't the usual posters. I think more people are engaging with the megathread now. That may not actually have been what the mods wanted. ;-)
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 2:53 PM on December 2 [2 favorites]


I, for one, welcome our existing MeFi overlords. And would remind them that as a trusted megathread contributor I could be helpful in rounding up others to toil in their underground moderation caves.

That said - it's such a fine line. At first it just killed the thread. It was boring and dry. It sucked. I would definitely not last there, chat is not an option, and it looked bad for the home team. But after a few milimuccis or so, it started to get looser again and it felt like a good mix of links, commentary, and snarkish gooferality.

But the start of a new MegaThread is always different as it gets hit from the fair-weather posters, looky-lous, newbies, begruntled denizens of FanFare, the movie star, and the rest. So clamping down on the "grease" is understandable. Maybe even desirable, but by the time it rolls off the front page we're thinning down to the regulars and I'd do some beseeching to let in more rousing of the various rabbles.

That's me, you guys are awesome, thank you and goodnight!
["Insane In the Membrane" plays
petebest's wardrobe by Botany 500]
posted by petebest at 3:46 PM on December 2 [3 favorites]


"I can safely predict the President of the United States would have had seventeen different dog faces emerging from his body and clothing and podium."

Would have had?
posted by klangklangston at 4:54 PM on December 2 [6 favorites]


I just had a comment deleted from the new thread, and it was a good deletion. It wasn't an egregious comment, but it wasn't adding anything to the conversation.

It was a comment about how fucked up it is that we can't assume that the President's tweets are authored by the President. Other people had already commented on how messed up that is. I need to get in the habit of favoriting stuff I agree with, but then refrain from adding a comment about how very much I agree.
posted by diogenes at 5:54 PM on December 2 [4 favorites]


Also: a long time ago I decided that I would comment in every zero comment FPP that I could

Wow. That's hella considerate.
posted by dmh at 9:04 AM on December 3 [2 favorites]


I'm in favor of these changes. These posts have kept me sane and connected this year, but I've been unable to process them in recent months. Cheers to the mods for their incredible work thus far. Ya'll rock.
posted by Nancy_LockIsLit_Palmer at 5:54 PM on December 3


how will we know whether Bernie would have beaten Trump?

I found this in /r/politics
posted by sebastienbailard at 6:05 PM on December 3 [1 favorite]


petebest: "That said - it's such a fine line. At first it just killed the thread. It was boring and dry. It sucked. I would definitely not last there, chat is not an option, and it looked bad for the home team. But after a few milimuccis or so, it started to get looser again and it felt like a good mix of links, commentary, and snarkish gooferality. "

I liked it better earlier, I think too much is being let through now.
posted by Chrysostom at 6:38 PM on December 3 [1 favorite]


Really? Seems pretty info-dense to me.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 9:18 PM on December 3


Really. I just caught up with the weekend's stuff, and it just seemed to be a lot of the same nonsense.

I don't want to complain about specific people. I probably just need to take a break.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:21 PM on December 3


You've certainly earned it. Thanks for your hard work.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 11:17 PM on December 3 [4 favorites]


I don't want to noise up the current Thread with the following observation, but let's take a look at the posts announcing indictments and guilty pleas in the Russia investigation:

Collusion Course
(preceded by “HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!”)

"...and now the facts are pouring out. DO-SOMETHING!"
(preceded by ha-ha-ha-HA ha...)

If people are looking for ways to improve Thread, one promising method to explore is "wait until the current Thread has reached more than 2000 comments, then make an unrelated post with laughter in its title".
posted by Jpfed at 7:29 AM on December 4 [1 favorite]


Hey, I just wanted to thank the mods for the new policy for the megathreads. It’s a lot easier to keep up now, a lot more signal to noise, and as a result of this brevity it’s harder for the thread to eat too much of my time anymore. Like other posters, I like SOME jokes and extrapolation, just not... 80% jokes and extrapolation.

Here’s hoping it becomes an easier and easier job to keep it pruned back like this as time goes on.
posted by Andrhia at 8:17 AM on December 4 [4 favorites]


But the start of a new MegaThread is always different as it gets hit from the fair-weather posters, looky-lous, newbies, begruntled denizens of FanFare, the movie star, and the rest. So clamping down on the "grease" is understandable. Maybe even desirable, but by the time it rolls off the front page we're thinning down to the regulars and I'd do some beseeching to let in more rousing of the various rabbles.

If I were looking for one single comment which summed up how the megathreads have helped to obliterate the notion of MetaFilter as an inclusive community with many varied interests, I don't think I could do better than this one. So, thanks for that, I guess.
posted by Errant at 10:20 AM on December 4 [10 favorites]


Hey there! So after taking a few days (mostly) off from posting and for reflection, I've realized I need to dial way, way back from contributing. Between my experience in chat and the new policies, I realized I'm not really able to gauge the impact of anything I write. I don't want to be Neil from The Young Ones bringing everybody down. Or Rik from The Young Ones overestimating my own profundity. Or Viv from The Young Ones coming in and breaking stuff. Or Mike from The Young Ones because, I mean, Mike. Or Alexi popping in and just doing a random monologue. You get me, Young Ones fans.

My point is I didn't take a time out because of anyone here other than myself. This change in policy was a good wake up call for me and chat (which turns out really isn't for me) just reinforced it. Until I feel like I can read the room better, I'm going to write less, read more. Thank you mods for being awesome.
posted by Joey Michaels at 10:55 AM on December 4 [1 favorite]


(Just to note, that link checking bookmarklet is on the mefiscripts github repository now with some fixes, and the source if anyone would like to make it do something smarter than basically ctrl-F-ing the html.)
posted by lucidium at 11:06 AM on December 4 [1 favorite]


I personally like to process things by writing poems/songs. I tried to post a new thing to the political thread (it's doubly relevant/horrible: a politician-themed Christmas carol). I was told to bring it over here. Does that mean to post it here, or to post a complaint that songs and poems are no longer allowed as a form of political expression in those threads?
posted by drawfrommemory at 7:38 PM on December 4 [1 favorite]


I'm sorry about that, yeah -- I know it's a drag to spend time composing something fun like that and then be told it's not wanted. I'm not sure how to square the circle on it, though, because especially longer song lyrics are something folks have definitely pointed to as a problem in these threads -- fine in spirit, but just too much considered in the context of these many long threads over months and months. So I think, share it here instead, is a good compromise.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 7:42 PM on December 4


Actually, thinking about it -- a thread specifically for sharing parody songs/poems would work too -- either on Metatalk or on the blue.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 7:46 PM on December 4


A general "how have you responded to the events of the past last year in the creative medium of your choice?" thread would be really fun. Not sure if that goes on meta or the blue or what, but I'd enjoy seeing what people are making. Could even be a metatalktails.
posted by zachlipton at 8:04 PM on December 4


Yeah, good thought. I posted a Metatalk for sharing song lyrics etc. So, drawfrommemory, you can put yours over there!
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 8:29 PM on December 4 [2 favorites]


I’ve been a member since August 2001, and have never had the guts to make a FPP. Maybe I’ll try to work up the courage in December.

Some will like it, some won't, some will ignore it, it might be deleted.
There's really nothing else that's going to happen.

I guess my alternative is Twitter but I'm old and Twitter is weird.

I was a formerly very anti twitter, and didn't understand it at all. Then I started reading the political megathreads. Sign up, follow some interesting people, and it's pretty close to the same thing. The hard part is getting started following the right people. It's like you have to build your own curated list of MeFi people before you can read the thread. So search for some terms, click on some profiles, and then see who's in their list.

I accounted for that aspect, too; I've been running a recurring neural network simulation adapted from Google's "Deep Dream" infrastructure to figure out once and for all how a notional Bernie/Trump matchup would have played out.

Oh shit, that's what this is, isn't it? I knew it wasn't real.
posted by bongo_x at 11:59 PM on December 4 [1 favorite]


Some will like it, some won't, some will ignore it, it might be deleted.
There's really nothing else that's going to happen.


The hardest part is making something I Like, since it’ll be attached to me forever. I have high standards after all these years. You people have spoiled me.
posted by Superplin at 3:13 AM on December 5 [2 favorites]


Did the time the edit window is open just jump to 6 minutes from 5? I just corrected a typo in the megathread and it said I had 5:32 left when I clicked save.

If that's a bug, please disregard. :D
posted by zarq at 1:17 PM on December 5


Ooooh. It works here, too. 5:48 left when i clicked edit.
posted by zarq at 1:18 PM on December 5


Daylight savings time, probably.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 1:18 PM on December 5 [1 favorite]


Can we keep the pony? Please? I promise to curry it every day and feed it only the best apples and sugar cubes.
posted by zarq at 1:19 PM on December 5 [2 favorites]


There's some pretty annoying chatter in the Thread right now.
posted by diogenes at 3:04 PM on December 5 [2 favorites]


I was leaving some fun pet facts in there, in the name of brief fun, but maybe more of those can go to Chat.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 3:15 PM on December 5 [1 favorite]


I've started to find the threads pretty stark and lacking. I've found myself bypassing the thread directly for chat unless I have something to post or something in particular to look up. But I see now that to me, many short quips can really serve as shorthand for a more verbose comment, and with most of those gone the conversation is less interesting. It's also still hard to tell what is okay and what isn't, although I've been erring hard on the side of not posting.

This is all fine if this was the hoped-for result, or maybe the pendulum will swing back a little, but as was mentioned above, it's not that different that a really well-curated twitter feed.

I'm not even complaining about this, because I think it's been good for my metal health. I'm just offering up my experience since this started.

On preview, LM, I liked the pet stuff. I think it should be okay to let some of these kinds of things go and then have a mod make a note about chat. Did you get a ton of flags?

PS: As someone who always had a hard time gaining traction in chat, give it a try. I've had fun in there.
posted by Room 641-A at 3:20 PM on December 5 [1 favorite]


On preview, LM, I liked the pet stuff. I think it should be okay to let some of these kinds of things go and then have a mod make a note about chat.

But if chatting about White House pets is fine, then chatting about literally anything is fine, and the thread becomes pointless.
posted by diogenes at 3:27 PM on December 5 [4 favorites]


I think the comments that veered off into aristocrats are clearly over the line. I don't see how you get from something tangentially related to Trump straight to "literally anything."

To paraphrase George Carlin, Maine's license plates say 'Live free or die" and Idaho's say 'Famous Potatoes.' Somewhere between them lies the truth.

It sounds like you want something closer to links and statements of fact with no chit-chat. I'm not sure that's a thread I would visit. But again, I'm not arguing for any more chit-chat than the kind of pet example above, curtailed any time it's becoming a load for the mods.
posted by Room 641-A at 3:37 PM on December 5 [1 favorite]


Well, New Hampshire's license plates say Live Free or Die; Maine's say Vacationland.
posted by ChuraChura at 3:46 PM on December 5 [1 favorite]


I knew that didn't sound right, but Vacationland also works!
posted by Room 641-A at 4:06 PM on December 5


I wonder if that 2,245 word policy discussion could be reduced to a bulleted list called something like "political discussion guidelines"
posted by mecran01 at 4:37 PM on December 5


By the way, is anyone else finding that Twitter's new 280-character limit has made extended tweeted news and commentary more substantial yet harder to post in the megathreads? It feels as though I used to be able to quote excerpts from tweetstorms, sometimes copy-paste entire ones, in the discussion. Now they seem far too voluminous to quote at length, but unlike regular news articles, too loosely written to extract even a nut graf from.
posted by Doktor Zed at 5:02 PM on December 5 [1 favorite]


if chatting about White House pets is fine, then chatting about literally anything is fine

My thought was more, these are novel, factual, President-related, don't make me want to die, and likely to be self-contained to just a few comments, rather than leading inevitably to a three hour rehash of some issue we've been over a hundred times.

It's a balancing act for sure, in that we don't want to crush all the life/spontaneity out of these threads, but we do want to cut way way back on a lot of the repetitive stuff (even substantive stuff that we've been over and over). So, sometimes we'll let a riff run a bit and then ask folks to rein it in. The other thing is, our mod shift change happened just after those past-presidential-pets comments, and so now it's restless_nomad's ship to steer, and there may be some variation from mod to mod as we work out where the equilibrium is on this kind of thing.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 5:16 PM on December 5 [2 favorites]


No worries. It bothered me in the moment because I was trying to have a serious conversation, but it definitely wasn't a major derail. Keep up the good work :)
posted by diogenes at 5:24 PM on December 5 [1 favorite]


Thanks; I really appreciate that folks have been so willing to bear with us on this.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 5:31 PM on December 5


Just wanted to say thanks for this, I really appreciate the cleaner, slower moving thread. I had more or less stopped participating in the politics threads but I still found them useful resources. But it had gotten to the point where once or twice a week I would go to the bottom and read back for an hour or two to find out what was up. Even like that, there was so much noise, in-jokes, fighting etc. to wade through. Last night I got caught up after dinner around 8, wandered off and did some real life stuff, and came back online around midnight to the open tab. It was amazing to see 14 New Comments, not 114, or 214, or 514 on a busy day. Now I can just leave the current thread open in a tab and catch up whenever I have the time.

Anyhow, thanks, that's all.
posted by mannequito at 5:49 PM on December 5 [7 favorites]


I don't disagree with the new principles in, well, principle, but aren't we going a bit overboard with the deletions and strictness of moderating now?
posted by Dumsnill at 7:21 PM on December 9


It's hard to tell. I left a couple of hours ago, and came back to six new comments and a shushing. I could have missed the rowdy horseplay though. I mean, the open borders conversation was pretty lacking in policy references and the favoriting seemed rootless and sort of half-heartedly Baudrillardian.
posted by petebest at 8:02 PM on December 9 [1 favorite]


If we're relitigating this, I'll repeat that I find the threads much, much more pleasant to visit and spend time in now.
posted by languagehat at 8:19 AM on December 10 [5 favorites]


I don't disagree with the new principles in, well, principle, but aren't we going a bit overboard with the deletions and strictness of moderating now?

I mean, you've had a handful of comments deleted from that current catch-all thread, across a few days. They were almost all one-liner quips. One-liner quips are a big part of what I talked about in the post in terms of them being a problem of degree and pace, rather than merit. We're deleting a lot of them. So principle and practice are pretty closely in alignment there; you're in company with a lot of other folks who are getting bits of driveby commenting removed.

You also had a somewhat longer comment removed, which based on timestamps is probably what prompted the comment in here; I'm sympathetic on the "but I wrote a whole thing" angle there more so than with the one-liner stuff, but it was a whole thing on a derail about folks deciding to solve healthcare through strongly-stated personal opinions in a catch-all politics thread. It was one of several things in that vague constellation of chatty/derailing comments by various people that we removed around then, with the accompanying nudging mod note.

And, again, none of these are things that are a matter of some strict merit, of judging comments each to be either good or bad. But we need to filter, and more importantly long-term to have folks self-filter, what's going into these threads in particular to keep them workable despite their outlier nature. So a comment that would have been totally shrugworthy in another context is more likely to get deleted in there if it runs up against the effort to keep things a bit slower paced and more information dense.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:38 AM on December 10 [12 favorites]


Re: LobsterMitten's recent modspeak in the Roy Moore thread:
[Hello friends, the question about whether Dems should try to reach conservative voters is absolutely ground amply-covered; some think yes, some think no, you all know the reasons. Let's not go back over and over those same arguments in here. If there's nothing going on, the thread can just be quietish until something's happening.]
I feel like this is an application of the new guidelines that goes too far for my taste. That doesn't make it wrong, but my interpretation of things was that the heavier moderation would be aimed primarily at the catch-all "longboat" potus45 threads, not "spinoff" threads that are more focused on a specific aspect of US politics. I understand that the idea is to be less chatty and provide more substantial information, commentary, and insight, but stepping in just as a conversation about a topic germane to the FPP is getting started seems unnecessarily heavy-handed. Yes, folks have discussed the topic of Democratic outreach to conservatives, but I disagree with the notion that anything meaningful that could be said about it has already been said before, or that discussing the same topic would necessarily lead to "those same arguments."

If they do -- like if people are carrying over grudges from previous fights or whatever -- then yeah, sure, nuke those. But to just decide a priori that anything that touches on the topic is not going to have a high signal to noise ratio? Look, we all have other online sources where we can get information on who wins the race, what exit polls are saying, What It All Means For America, etc. The aggregation / curation aspect of MeFi threads is useful, but so is the insight and analysis from other members of the community. I worry that the lever is being pushed a bit too far in the direction of the former. If conversations that *could* get out of hand are killed off early not just in the high-volume catch-all but also in spinoff threads devoted to a more specific topic, then that makes MetaFilter less appealing to me.
posted by tonycpsu at 9:58 AM on December 12 [1 favorite]


Maybe it's that I have spent so much time in the catch-all threads, but what I see there is literally the same people making the same speeches about the very general thing of reaching out to conservative voters ("we must be open and inviting and try to really reach them" vs "screw them, they're a lost cause, being open is a mistake"). Stuff that is specific to Alabama I've been leaving in there, but launching into the same very general debate over conservative outreach seems like putting the same old record on 'play'. But again, maybe I'm over-exposed to it; is it really the case that people who've read these threads don't see that as very repetitive?
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 10:12 AM on December 12 [2 favorites]


I think some people may be confused as to whether the Roy Moore thread is the next longboat or not, especially as in the longboat thread, cortex gave his modly nod of approval to create a new thread, and then the Roy Moore thread dropped. It might take a day or two before that sorts out.
posted by corb at 10:12 AM on December 12


My "is it a catch-all or not" metric is the presence of the potus45 tag, which the new AL-Sen-focused thread lacks. I thought that's what we were shooting for to separate "catch-all, up-to-the-minute happenings in US politics" vs. spin-off topics.

With that said -- LM, I get your point that a spin-off could quickly start looking like a catch-all if people are going back and forth with tired arguments. The thing is, unlike "Bernie woulda won" or "Trump wouldn't have happened without (pick one): Comey, Russians, sexism, racism, ..." topics, I feel like the topic of Democratic outreach to moderate/conservative voters is a fascinating and important topic that we can actually move the ball forward meaningfully on -- not in terms of coming to one agreed-upon answer that satisfies everyone, but more in terms of advancing everyone's understanding of the issue.

Like, some of the most important and enlightening comments I've seen have been from red-state MeFites who are out there trying to build up progressive organizations in their communities, or to elect Democrats, or at least to have Democrats running in their deep-red districts. I'm plugged into a lot of sources online, but I rarely get as good a picture of the ground truth in other parts of the country as I've gotten from people in this community.

Of course there is baggage that comes with opening up to these topics, and certainly some points will be made that have been made before, with some potential for nastiness to develop... but I feel like the bar should be lowered a bit for spontaneous conversation to develop in the non catch-all threads so that there's *somewhere* to have these conversations. (MeChat isn't an acceptable substitute for reasons others have mentioned.)
posted by tonycpsu at 10:56 AM on December 12 [1 favorite]


If you’re really “encouraging folks to put their energy elsewhere on the site,” overmoderating outside threads is a funny way to go about it. I could point to several threads in the past month where a mod has swooped in, deleted literally half a thread because people dared to have on-topic disagreements with each other about minor, fluffy subjects — something called having a conversation — with the small-text mod note as a final “fuck you for being here” (and, yes, they read that hostile) on a now completely dead thread that never starts up again, let alone recovers to some sort of ideal. Great job. Big help. Way to “save” it. It’s incredibly frustrating. Why would anyone bother to contribute if their contribution is just going to be memory-holed? Why should anyone spend any time or effort here if it’s not valued at all?

(And, in the pol thread, I hardly see the problem with the quick one-liners. Heaven forfend it should be anything but doom-and-gloom for half a second.)
posted by Sys Rq at 11:11 AM on December 12


I mean, most of that sounds like a separate MeTa, but in regards to this:

I hardly see the problem with the quick one-liners

If this is in good faith, well, just read upthread of this. Or skim any one of many of the previous MeTas about the political thread. To start: the signal/noise ratio makes the actual political content (which many people do want to read) hard to find, long threads are extremely difficult to read/load, the cliquishness makes many people feel unwelcome and unable to participate, and the content of many of those comments (doomsdayish, triggering, whatever) is really hard on participants and mods.

And it's not like one-liners are banned - they've just been asked to move to chat.
posted by mosst at 11:33 AM on December 12 [2 favorites]


The Roy Moore Thread is the Roy Moore thread, and good for it. More specialist threads please, hopefully to the point where we don't need catch all anymore.
posted by Artw at 11:33 AM on December 12


I could point to several threads in the past month where a mod has swooped in, deleted literally half a thread

Which ones?
posted by zarq at 11:47 AM on December 12


with the small-text mod note as a final “fuck you for being here” (and, yes, they read that hostile)

What are the Metafilter colors in your universe?
posted by Chrysostom at 11:51 AM on December 12


Plenty of throwaway one-liners in there right now that aren't getting deleted. But they often do, so it can seem uneven and unfair.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:51 PM on December 12


I don’t think it matters too much if a political thread is a catchall thread or not. If it’s full of constant activity by all the regular politicsfilter people, I would expect it to behave like any of the other politics threads, and to need the same kind of moderation.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 1:26 PM on December 12 [1 favorite]


Oh fuck no.
posted by Artw at 1:44 PM on December 12


I can accept the catch-alls being bland platitudes only but if it's a real thread it should act like a real thread.
posted by Artw at 1:46 PM on December 12


Plenty of throwaway one-liners in there right now that aren't getting deleted. But they often do, so it can seem uneven and unfair.

I suspect there's a bit of a flagging clique involved and it reflects their tastes.
posted by Artw at 1:47 PM on December 12 [1 favorite]


Oh for fuck's sake. Moderating is an art, not a science. You can rules lawyer why one thing gets deleted and another thing doesn't, but it may come down to things like what the general tone of the thread is at that moment. And honestly, it may be a little arbitrary. I'm sure there are lots of edge cases that might be deleted and might not be, and it might come down to which mod is on duty and what kind of mood they're in. And we're just going to have to put up with that, because mods are human, and they're doing the best they can. And seriously, speaking as someone who gets a fair amount of stuff deleted, I think we need to give them the benefit of the doubt, because I don't see how this whole mess works if we don't.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 1:54 PM on December 12 [6 favorites]


I don’t think it matters too much if a political thread is a catchall thread or not. If it’s full of constant activity by all the regular politicsfilter people, I would expect it to behave like any of the other politics threads, and to need the same kind of moderation.

For this to be the case, an assumption would have to be made that non-catch-all politics threads will be consistently filled with a high volume flood of comments. That's why the catch-all's are being "reined in" -- so they will 'flow more slowly, be more information dense, less chatty and consequently be fewer and farther between.' (To paraphrase this post.)

Applying those moderation standards to other political threads isn't called for. The current Roy Moore thread has only 236 comments. Not thousands. The previous thread only reached 1591 comments in an entire month. This election will be a one-off event that isn't likely to spawn additional sequel threads.

Thankfully, the mods have given no indication that they want higher moderation standards applied site-wide, or even to every politics thread, catch-all or not.
posted by zarq at 1:55 PM on December 12 [2 favorites]


> I suspect there's a bit of a flagging clique involved and it reflects their tastes.

For god's sake. Can we try to avoid this level of paranoia? It doesn't help anything.
posted by languagehat at 1:56 PM on December 12 [4 favorites]


Whatever. You're allowed to post in those threads.
posted by Artw at 2:00 PM on December 12


What I mean is, if people treat a political thread like the general catchall threads, then it doesn’t matter what the tags are, because it’s behaving like one of those threads. 250-something comments in half a day is kind of a lot.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 2:07 PM on December 12


> Thankfully, the mods have given no indication that they want higher moderation standards applied site-wide, or even to every politics thread, catch-all or not.

No, but this particular intervention seems like a move in that direction, even if it hasn't been announced as a desired end state of these new expectations around political discussions.
posted by tonycpsu at 2:08 PM on December 12


tonypcsu, it was one comment deleted, and a nudge away from one single strand of conversation. Do you feel like that Moore thread has been harmfully curtailed as a result? There's been a ton of participation in there of the kind you say you want.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 2:09 PM on December 12 [1 favorite]


What I mean is, if people treat a political thread like the general catchall threads, then it doesn’t matter what the tags are, because it’s behaving like one of those threads. 250-something comments in half a day is kind of a lot.

Barring any unforseen circumstances it will probably hit 1000 by tomorrow morning. It's about an event that's happening today that's getting a lot of media attention. And then everything will trickle off and it will be pretty much done with within a few days.

Here's the thing? None of the things people are complaining about re: the catch-all threads are happening in that thread. Moderation shouldn't be knee-jerk preventative. It should respond to actual things that are actually happening. There's no reason for the mods to treat the comments differently there than they would any other thread.
posted by zarq at 2:11 PM on December 12


Catching up on a few things.

Great job. Big help. Way to “save” it.

Sys Rq, you have been vocally unhappy with moderation/MeFi for a while now and while I can't tell you not to hang around and be unhappy out loud if that's really what's improving your life, I'm at the point where I absolutely do not get why that's what you're choosing to do. At a certain point if you are convinced that the mod team is fucking everything up and MetaFilter is bad now, just...find something else to do. Because we are not disagreeing on details here, you seem to be basically fundamentally opposed to how the site is operating most of the time and it feels like a crappy use of both your emotional energy and ours.

Whatever. You're allowed to post in those threads.

Artw, you post a lot of grumpy one-liners. I know you a little, I like you, besides that I agree with you politically on most things as far as I can tell. I've got zero animus here or desire to put you out. But if you want to put a fine point on it the issue with you getting comments deleted from fast-moving politics threads lately is that you post a lot of grumpy one-liners. We've been deleting a lot of grumpy one-liners, very much not restricted to yours but yours included.

This is an enormously shitty time politically and I really, really feel the grumpiness and am right there with you and everyone else on that. But it's not a flagging clique or some other complicated thing that's responsible for grumpy one-liners getting deleted more now than they were a month ago; it's just us saying "hey, we're gonna push back on a bunch of stuff that's been a problem in fast-paced political discussions the last several months" and actively doing exactly that as best we can.

It'll be bumpy and imperfect and it'll impact some folks more than others based on what their recent commenting inclinations are. I'm not going to declare it inherently just or fair, so I feel you and anyone else who is frustrated. But it's the change I talked about, the change we're making, and it means by definition deleting more of the stuff on that big list up above.

You—both literally you and the generalized "you"—are in fact allowed to post in those threads, but you don't have carte blanche in those threads.

The current Roy Moore thread has only 236 comments. Not thousands.

The current Roy Moore thread has over 200 comments and it's basically brand new. It's fast-paced, and a lot of that comes down to the same things that make the catch-all threads fast-paced and it introduces the same sort of complicated time/pacing/moderation pressures. I don't think it makes a very good example of a typical stand-alone politics thread—which tends to be much slower and easier to manage—so much as it stands as a weird circumstantial parallel to the catch-all because it's a really conspicuous election, happening today, on the tail end of a month of close watching in another dedicated thread.

Analogizing from there to general moderation policy doesn't seem useful, basically. It's a much closer situation to the catch-all than would normally be the case for a random MetaFilter thread, political or otherwise.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:12 PM on December 12 [10 favorites]


I’m only commenting here because I was going to make some dumb jokey comment in the Roy Moore thread about how dumb he looks on a horse. But I saw half a dozen or a dozen comments that already said the same thing, and it seemed like I was just going to be doing all the chatfilter stuff that has been such a problem the past year. So what I’m saying is, a thousand comments in a day is a shit ton, even if they taper off later, and if that’s going to affect how we should participate, I’d like to know. As it is, I’m already getting the sense that I need to approach that thread differently than other threads on this site, because I don’t usually have to take into account that there will be many hundreds of comments, with dozens of people already saying what I came to say.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 2:15 PM on December 12 [2 favorites]


Analogizing from there to general moderation policy doesn't seem useful, basically. It's a much closer situation to the catch-all than would normally be the case for a random MetaFilter thread, political or otherwise.

Are you (collective you) applying tighter standards there?
posted by zarq at 2:16 PM on December 12


Not in general, there have been a lot more short comments in there than we've been aiming for in the catchall, but in some things, like the comment tonypcsu is talking about maybe? There are some topics that are just totally predictable quicksand for a politics thread and nudging to avoid those is ... I guess I don't even know if it's "tighter" or not. If the thread really speeds up tonight as the results are coming in, we'll probably have to tighten up some to keep it workable and ask folks to take liveblogging to chat.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 2:19 PM on December 12


Artw, you post a lot of grumpy one-liners.

Not any more I don't.

Hey, maybe some of you don't like my style of posting, whatever, you have the catch all threads, I'll maybe post links there but that's all because everything else is an auto-delete. Whatever.

Try and claim the rest of the site and I am done. And you know what? If you are pushing for that fuck you.
posted by Artw at 2:19 PM on December 12 [1 favorite]


Okay. That's reasonable! :)

Thank you, LM.
posted by zarq at 2:20 PM on December 12 [1 favorite]


It seemed clear to me from the description of the new moderation policy that any thread about politics that is likely to quickly produce a large volume of comments would be moderated differently. It also seems obvious to me that a thread about Roy Moore would produce many familiar discussions that are also found in threads specifically about Trump. It seems completely understandable to me that a Roy Moore thread would be moderated according to the more stringent moderation policy that was outlined on metatalk. I don't even understand what folks are confused about. Also, geeze, what's the big deal about having some one liners deleted? I don't like having comments deleted either, but I don't understand the scale of reaction.
posted by latkes at 2:23 PM on December 12 [5 favorites]


If you are pushing for that fuck you.

This seems less than constructive.
posted by Chrysostom at 2:30 PM on December 12 [4 favorites]


> tonypcsu, it was one comment deleted, and a nudge away from one single strand of conversation. Do you feel like that Moore thread has been harmfully curtailed as a result? There's been a ton of participation in there of the kind you say you want.

Certainly there has been, but I try to avoid conflating outcomes with process. It's a perfectly fine thread, and if that intervention avoided a dozen fighty comments, then it was worth doing. And I understand these are judgement calls that have to be made based on previous experiences. I just don't see every time a similar topic we've talked about before comes up as "relitigating", and I'd like more space for natural discussions to happen when possible.

I did not see the deleted comment. It's possible that I would support the deletion had I seen it. It's the "and please don't talk about this because we've talked about it already and are unlikely to cover any new ground" part that rubbed me the wrong way. Not like "push the button" wrong way, just... lamenting the fact that a legitimate avenue of exploration in a spin-off thread is being foreclosed on in the name of avoiding repeats of previous behavior. That sort of firm stance doesn't allow for any growth on the part of the community.
posted by tonycpsu at 2:33 PM on December 12


I posted a comment last night in the politics thread and then was confused because it didn't appear. So I posted it again, and it still didn't show up. But new comments from other users were. I tried a third time and nothing. Nada. Zip. WTF.

So I had a minor freakout moment because something was wrong -- possibly with my phone browser or with mefi. I sent a note through to the comment form and was told my comment had been deleted. Probably between the time I hit post and the page loaded. Which is kind of hilarious if you think about it. Also a little disquieting that the mods are just that efficient. I'm guessing that the bit of coding that prevents the double posting of comments nabbed my second and third attempts.

I didn't complain about the deletion. It was a dumb one-off and not worth fighting over.

In the past I've sometimes complained (sometimes aggressively) in memail when my comments have been deleted, but the truth of the matter is... well, comments get deleted. It happens. The mods don't have it in for us, there is no vast flagging conspiracy or cabal, and sometimes what we might think is a perfectly cromulent comment is gonna get axed. It happens.

We all should really try not to take it so personally when our comments get deleted. It would be healthier for all of us. Probably for the mods, too.

[uh.... note to the mods, please never quote this back to me if i get pissy in memail]
posted by zarq at 2:34 PM on December 12 [2 favorites]


It seemed clear to me from the description of the new moderation policy that any thread about politics that is likely to quickly produce a large volume of comments would be moderated differently

Ok yeah, that was my assumption too. I just wanted to see what other people thought. Since I never really participate in political stuff on this site, I didn’t want to shit everything up by dipping my toe in and going “huh huh dude can’t horse.” I’d rather not make mods delete stuff if I can use a little common sense and just not say it. And I’m sort of dumb, so yes, I did need need to talk through that to understand the basic concept of common sense posting.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 2:40 PM on December 12 [2 favorites]


I just don't see every time a similar topic we've talked about before comes up as "relitigating", and I'd like more space for natural discussions to happen when possible.

We don't either, for the record. It's not an absolute. It'd gonna depend on the context and timing and players. It is a thing that can be a problem a lot, though. So we may not be disagreeing on anything here while voicing different but mutually compatible takes on the situation: it's possible to see potential value in revisiting a discussion that's come up before without saying that that's always gonna be a good or productive thing, and on the flip side it's possible to declare a need to see people work harder not to fruitlessly go down some unproductive retread without wanting to categorically shut down the idea of revisiting discussions in general.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:40 PM on December 12 [1 favorite]


Honestly, I'm kind of ashamed to say this now, but I used to be very much "argh the mods are deleting too much, whyyyyyyy". But I was in error to think that - I viewed it as the mods trying to control the discussion, rather than 'the mods are juggling three cats, a chainsaw, and a blender and trying to keep them all from crashing.' Which I think is far more what's going on now.

Have I had comments I loved deleted lately in politics threads? Absolutely. Some of them bespoke comments I agonized over for like half an hour and put in an artisanal jar! But the mods are in danger of burning out. We are in danger of not having the Metafilter we love at all. That's why they started deleting things heavily in Potus45 in the first place. And if they are deleting with a heavy hand - which I'm not even sure of - it's so we can have nice things.
posted by corb at 2:40 PM on December 12 [4 favorites]


> It seemed clear to me from the description of the new moderation policy that any thread about politics that is likely to quickly produce a large volume of comments would be moderated differently.

Well, it didn't seem clear to me. zarq hit on some of the reasons I thought it would be handled differently, but even if my expectation was wrong, and goes against the grain of what you think the "obvious" implication is, I figured that new-ish threads that aren't setup for the explicit purpose of being a catch-all politics longboat would be given a chance to grow a bit more, without such careful gardening by the mods.

If we're applying "duck typing" to new politics threads -- that is, if it meets some set of tests like "has the usual political argument suspects", "has talk about rural / conservative voters", "is getting more than N posts per hour", etc. -- then I acknowledge that the Roy Moore thread sort of quacks like a megathread. But that was not obvious to me at the time I posted my concern here.
posted by tonycpsu at 2:41 PM on December 12 [2 favorites]


This seems less than constructive.

Whatever. Conceding the rest of the site to team Hyper Agressuve Thread Policing would be a disaster for metafilter.
posted by Artw at 2:42 PM on December 12 [1 favorite]


Whatever. Conceding the rest of the site to team Hyper Agressuve Thread Policing would be a disaster for metafilter.

The line must be drawn here!
posted by zarq at 2:50 PM on December 12


OK, this might be a dumb and/or poorly phrased question, but as far as relitigating stuff goes, is that something that depends on who’s saying it? LM’s note above made it sound like part of the problem was hearing a ton from the same few people, but I might have totally misunderstood. Part of the problem with the Old Style threads was that people like me, who weren’t regulars, we’re totally unaware when something had already been discussed to death. It’s made me a little anxious to weigh in on stuff now, because I don’t want to waste my time and the mods’ time by writing something that’ll just be deleted for relitigating or some such.

Since I know there’s no strict guideline, is this just something where less frequent visitors need to accept the risk that we’ll be deleted for something we weren’t aware of? That wouldn’t be hugely unfair, or anything, but like I said, I want to try and cause as few headaches as I can, and I’m not always uh, socially aware enough to do that without having it spelled out for me.

Basically, was part of the problem with the stuff LM deleted that it was relitigating by people who should know better, or... am I missing the point completely?
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 2:50 PM on December 12 [1 favorite]


Ugh, and I’m sorry if THAT comment is relitigating something that was already discussed. Again, I’m not trying to argue about anything, I just want to hone my common sense so I can try to be less of a hassle when I do want to weigh in about stuff.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 2:52 PM on December 12


zarq: "The line must be drawn here! yt"

I know Stewart had fun chewing the scenery there, but the whole thing seems like a fundamental misunderstanding of Picard's character. He never would have acted like that.
posted by Chrysostom at 3:08 PM on December 12


So, yes, context of the person posting something does make a difference. Some people have topics they kind of hobbyhorse about, and after enough go-rounds, that can be a problem even if their view is right and they're expressing it in an otherwise fine way. It can get to be a Thing. If a hobbyhorse-prone person is starting up on their topic, we might be quicker to shut that down than if another person were making a similar comment.

But for the average person wondering about posting in these threads, don't worry about it -- aim for a reasonable level of signal, and you're fine. Broad points to consider: If other people have already made the same joke you wanted to make in the catchall, or your joke is kind of an obvious one, you can skip making that joke. If your comment mostly just amounts to a short reaction along the lines of "I can't believe these assholes" or "they're all so evil" or similar, maybe skip that too. But if you have a new joke that's original/clever, or a more contentful reaction/thoughts about something, go for it. Definitely if you have some specific connection/experience with the specific topic, like people who are in Alabama today, please comment, we want to hear from you!

It'll probably be fine, and even if it isn't, it's not a huge deal. We understand that not everybody knows what topics are overdone; we'll try to give a general sense in our notes, and if you're not sure you can always ask. If you post something that gets deleted, that's ok -- we're not mad at you, you're not being "bad" or anything. Much of this pruning-around-the-edges stuff we've been doing in the catchalls is stuff that's fine -- it wasn't "wrong" for the person to post, it's just somewhat noisier than we're aiming for in the context, or it has happened onto a topic that has some history, and we know there's not necessarily a way to predict that. If someone's consistently running into deletions, drop us a note, we're happy to talk it over.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 3:39 PM on December 12 [5 favorites]


Thanks, that makes a lot of sense.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 5:16 PM on December 12


while I can't tell you not to hang around and be unhappy out loud if that's really what's improving your life, I'm at the point where I absolutely do not get why that's what you're choosing to do.

Sigh. When it feels like I’m just shouting into the void, I wonder the same thing. Here’s the gist of it: I WANT METAFILTER TO BE BETTER AT BEING METAFILTER. I’m not just saying these things to be “unhappy out loud.” I’m not idly talking shit, or grumbling for grumbling’s sake, or kickng you in the head. If I didn’t like MetaFilter, I wouldn't give a shit, and wouldn’t bother to offer my two cents; I do, so I do, so I do. MetaFilter’s great, but there’s plenty of room for improvement, and that’s my goal here. That’s why I’m criticising the moderation. You can take criticism or leave it, but for the love of MetaFilter, hear it. It’s there to help.

The criticism this time around is simple: Lay off the deletions outside of the politics thread, except for flagrant violations of community standards. The deletions have seemed unnecessarily heavy lately, and that does not help in “encouraging folks to put their energy elsewhere on the site.” It’s incredibly discouraging to spend time and effort writing a comment just to have it caught up in some mass deletion of half a thread because it was a reply to a reply to a reply to a comment that was at worst an edge-case violation of the guidelines (which are not rules), when a simple mod note would have sufficed to curb whatever it was we were doing that was deemed to be doing MetaFilter wrong. Our time matters too. When you waste commenters’ time — which is what deletion does — commenters might feel discouraged. So maybe do less of it. Maybe, instead, tell us what the problem is, and advise us to stop. That’s all.

Heed that, or don’t. Your decision. But I think the site will improve if you do, and will be more encouraging, and that is why I am saying it.

At a certain point if you are convinced that the mod team is fucking everything up and MetaFilter is bad now, just...find something else to do.

Will do. But you’re gonna have to try a lot harder to wreck the place, ‘cause I still like it here.
posted by Sys Rq at 12:49 AM on December 13 [1 favorite]


As a reminder that Metafilter contains multitudes, I would comment more if the moderation was stricter. The sort of comments which are now being deleted from political threads are exactly the sort of comments which discourage me from participating across the site. Moderation is, for me, what makes Metafilter.
posted by Busy Old Fool at 3:20 AM on December 13 [7 favorites]


I was a little surprised to see a number of comments in the Roy Moore thread thanking the mods for not over-modding because I really thought all this was specific to the catch-all threads. (I’m not against people thanking the mods, just surprised that it was a thing.)

It seems like people mostly like the changes in the catch-all, and that’s great for the site. Personally, I feel like the conversation has really been curtailed along with the noise. I’m enjoying chat a lot but it’s not a substitute for focused discussion. However, that’s where I go instead of the catch-all. The downside is that I feel more removed from the site.

On preview, kind of the opposite of what Busy Old Fool just said :)
posted by Room 641-A at 3:31 AM on December 13 [2 favorites]


I, on the other hand, completely agree with Busy Old Fool, and am puzzled by Sys Rq's automatic equation of "what I like" with "what's good for the site."
posted by languagehat at 6:09 AM on December 13 [2 favorites]


I would just like clarification on what's happening in non-potus45 threads..
posted by Room 641-A at 6:55 AM on December 13 [1 favorite]


Mostly they're going the way any thread goes, no big special difference. Sometimes a topic might come up that's been done to death, like relitigating the primaries or whatever, and we might say let's not go there. Sometimes if there's a super-busy time for one of those threads, we might end up needing to tighten up on noise comments. I thought we might need to do that last night and we didn't. There were 600 comments overnight in that Alabama thread, but they're happy comments and people aren't fighting/despairing/etc and we don't need to keep the thread at a smallish size for a week, so it worked out fine to have a ton of short reaction comments.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 7:18 AM on December 13 [2 favorites]


languagehat: "I, on the other hand, completely agree with Busy Old Fool, and am puzzled by Sys Rq's automatic equation of "what I like" with "what's good for the site.""

This is known as the "pundit's fallacy."
posted by Chrysostom at 8:14 AM on December 13


It’s incredibly discouraging to spend time and effort writing a comment just to have it caught up in some mass deletion of half a thread because it was a reply to a reply to a reply to a comment that was at worst an edge-case violation of the guidelines (which are not rules), when a simple mod note would have sufficed to curb whatever it was we were doing that was deemed to be doing MetaFilter wrong.

The thing you're describing—deleting half a thread to clean up a problem—is a huge outlier, not the norm, because most of the time nothing to that level is going on. So your complaint is we're doing too much of something we barely have to do. Most threads see no or nearly no deletions. Most problems that do come up we nix one problematic thing, if needed, and then generally monitor and let self-correct or leave a note if needed.

But this is also you teaching your grandma to suck eggs, because as much as I believe you think you've got the pulse of how shit plays out on the site down enough to confidently declare when "a simple mod note would have sufficed", we actually see it play out in action and have the ability to realistically assess that. And we do a lot of leaving simple mod notes when it suffices and only clean shit up more thoroughly when it needs it. We didn't all just walk in the door last week and start winging it, and as much as I don't want you to be unhappy on the site you seem to be hanging your happiness on it on the mods hewing to your imagined approach to an imagined scenario and that's not in the cards.

If you have specific scenarios you need to talk out—the closest recent thing I can see at a glance is you getting some beefing and follow-on "don't beef about my beefing" stuff deleted from a short OK Go thread last month?—you can drop us a line and do so, and talking to us about the specific situation that's bothering you, when it's happening, is gonna be a hell of a lot more useful all around than this "mods are out of control" stuff.

But aside from that I'd recommend if you do as you say actually still enjoy your time here to take a step back and look at how you are writing your comments when you participate. Because you give off a really consistent sense of just being grumpy or angry at topics, folks, the mods, and the site you're interacting with, and whether or not you're personally aware of that you ought to be aware that that is affecting other people's time here in a negative way and that sucks.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:22 AM on December 13 [3 favorites]


Lay off the deletions outside of the politics thread, except for flagrant violations of community standards. The deletions have seemed unnecessarily heavy lately, and that does not help in “encouraging folks to put their energy elsewhere on the site.” It’s incredibly discouraging to spend time and effort writing a comment just to have it caught up in some mass deletion of half a thread because it was a reply to a reply to a reply to a comment that was at worst an edge-case violation of the guidelines (which are not rules)

This reads like a roundabout version of the old complaint that MetaFilter used to be more "free-wheeling" and a certain combativeness was just expected. Or, to put it more crudely, that MF is now "too PC."

Which, OK, only we've at this point had a whole pile of MetaTalks and arguments on the Blue (starting, possibly, with jessamyn's decade-plus-old campaign against "I'd hit it") where a whole bunch of people have pointed out that commenters can create a hostile and unwelcoming environment (especially for women/PoC/LGBQT) while still not crossing the "Fuck you" guideline. Heck, just a week ago we had a Can we not use gendered insults? MetaTalk. And community consensus was, generally, "Yeah, good points, let's not."

Whatever your problems with the current state of deletions, it certainly seems to me that your issues are rooted in the community discussions and changing standards driven by these discussions rather than some arbitrary Mod Decision From On High - that in the process of years of MetaTalks, the community as a whole has stated a preference for the mods and other MeFites being aware that a pile of "edge-case" comments can be just as hostile as a comment that's clearly over the edge. With the result being that the mods are now more willing to scratch edge-case comments and the resulting discussions, because we the MeFites have let them know that we'd often rather not even bother with borderline-hostile comments.

To put it another way, you seem to be complaining that MF used to only delete stuff that was obviously broken, and are missing the fact that community standards have moved about how to define "broken" - that for all that a single comment might just be a minor paper-cut, a thousand tiny paper-cuts will still bleed someone dry, and we've, collectively, decided that we don't want Death By A Thousand Cuts.
posted by soundguy99 at 8:24 AM on December 13 [6 favorites]


Lay off the deletions outside of the politics thread, except for flagrant violations of community standards. The deletions have seemed unnecessarily heavy lately

Examples? Deletions seem normal in AskMe. (Friends, I will flag you every time as "noise" for suggesting things the OP has already said they've tried in the question. Please read more.)

I'm curious where these half-thread deletions are happening.
posted by Squeak Attack at 8:32 AM on December 13 [5 favorites]


Can we see the deletions? I thought we couldn't (or I can't anyway) which makes examples harder to gather.

Not, that I have any. Sirs. *salute*
posted by petebest at 3:49 PM on December 13


am puzzled by Sys Rq's automatic equation of "what I like" with "what's good for the site."

Oh, come on. Are you new to the concept of opinions?
posted by Sys Rq at 6:38 PM on December 13 [1 favorite]


I'm curious where these half-thread deletions are happening.

The FPP about the fake TripAdviser shed restaurant is the one that immediately comes to mind. There have been several others, but I haven’t been keeping track of them, just noticing when they happen. And they do.

I’m not “grumpy,” cortex. I’m annoyed by things that annoy me. I’ve told you what they are. I’ve said my piece. If you want to continue whatever this apparent personal grudge is that you have against me, well, I don’t think it’s a good look, but, hey, you do you. I’ve said what I wanted to say, and I’m done. Removing from activity.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:30 PM on December 13


Huh. Made a non-single link comment, expressing an opinion no less, in a politics thread abdbits been up for more than five minutes, so it dies still happen I guess. Maybe the flaggers aren't caught up.
posted by Artw at 8:16 PM on December 13


I see you, Chrysostom .
posted by Artw at 8:27 PM on December 13


The FPP about the fake TripAdviser shed restaurant is the one that immediately comes to mind.

Had a handful of comments deleted, out of over a hundred, and the thread continued for dozens of comments after that. A couple of those deleted comments were yours. I realize I'm probably talking to a brick wall on this, but "some of my comments got deleted" isn't the same thing as "half the thread got deleted", and that specific example you're mentioning is a case of the former and not the latter. I wouldn't bother responding to this after you've pointedly taken your leave except that I think it's illustrative of the understandable but not very useful impact that personal bias has on some of these MetaTalk complaints.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:56 PM on December 13 [2 favorites]


I am absolutely displaying personal bias in not wanting Zarq et al to have veto power on my comments on the site at large.
posted by Artw at 8:58 PM on December 13


Artw: "I see you, Chrysostom ."

[looks behind me]
posted by Chrysostom at 10:47 PM on December 13 [2 favorites]


Regarding politics thread deletions, I had a comment deleted there too. Both I and another deleted comment asked you all to knock off the constant pissing contest about whether we should primary conservative Dems or whether any Dem is better than none. I personally also flagged several posts in the conversation to which I believe you are referring, Artw. If it remained for five minutes before deletion and cleanup, I expect it was only because the mods are human and occasionally need to get a cup of tea or pee on shift just like the rest of us.

I stand by my sentiment, but I'm glad my own comments got deleted. That argument is a rumination of worry that no one can do anything about right now, and in particular it is an argument that means nothing outside of additionally local information from West Virginia itself. We've been having it here for literal goddamn years with the same people. We don't need to litigate it in public again and suck up air.

In general, I have never had a comment deleted by the mods here that I did not decide, upon cooling down and walking aggravation off, was in retrospect a good deletion. And I want to add my own thanks to the mods for additional pruning. The politics threads are better for me right now than they have been in a long time.
posted by sciatrix at 6:19 AM on December 14 [2 favorites]


Sciatrix - not aware of any comments in that conversational thread being deleted except for maybe your bitter ill tempered demand that it all be deleted? If that was one of the ones you flagged then good call, it was clearly noise.
posted by Artw at 6:47 AM on December 14


I am absolutely displaying personal bias in not wanting Zarq et al to have veto power on my comments on the site at large.

What in the world are you talking about, and why am I being used as an example in your dystopian fantasy?
posted by zarq at 7:04 AM on December 14


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