Long posts are cluttering up the front page. August 14, 2002 9:45 PM   Subscribe

Crazy idea: What if Matt removes the paragraph/linefeed tag from the front page and all text formatting and adds a 'first post/more inside' box to the post a link page? The front page is simply cluttered and annoying when people have a lot to say directly on the front page. Perhaps even a character limit. The less of this the better.
posted by skallas to Feature Requests at 9:45 PM (64 comments total)

Seconded.
posted by holloway at 9:48 PM on August 14, 2002


Couldn't agree more.
posted by mhaw at 9:49 PM on August 14, 2002


maybe a 100 word limit so that a point can be made?
posted by amberglow at 9:58 PM on August 14, 2002


Nah, then people wouldstartpostinglikethisnadonlycountitasoneword.

I like the character limit, myself. I give my coworkers 250 characters on my intranet site, then the rest gets truncated. It still displays the full post on the "inside", but the front page just uses a:

Left(strData,250)

to keep it tidy.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 10:22 PM on August 14, 2002


Anyone else think a warning upon preview (rather than a strict limit) would be more approprate for a self-policing site? Something like this, maybe:

"The front-page post you've written appears to be quite long. Please take a moment to consider if it's necessary to use this much space on the front page."
posted by mediareport at 10:49 PM on August 14, 2002


yeah, I could easily add the check on preview, to warn them it is long and suggest they post the rest as the first comment.

I've been meaning to do it for ages, but am swamped with other work right now.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 11:02 PM on August 14, 2002


The problem with mandatory character/word limits is that with or without preview, chances are that cropped posts will occur frequently on the front page. My opinion is that anything that this will make things less tidy on the front page and cause this place to become more cluttered -

"I know there is a character word limit on front page posts, but surely poster x could have spent more time editing the post to fit the requirements"

It just seems to advocate too much style over content as a barrier for a good post.
posted by DaRiLo at 11:56 PM on August 14, 2002


I don't agree with any forced limit. Flatlander should be able to see that his post is stupidly long.
posted by Frasermoo at 12:40 AM on August 15, 2002


I thought it was an interesting post; it's just the length that made it off-putting. It probably could have stopped after the "No one gets fired..." sentence and been a good item.

However, is action from above really warranted? I may be a new member, but I lurked for a long time before joining, and posts of this length seem to be relatively rare -- and you can bet Flatlander won't do it again after this lambasting (sorry, Flat). Am I wrong here?
posted by boomchicka at 4:18 AM on August 15, 2002


I don't like the forced limit. It's an attempt to legislate intelligence. I do like the idea of a warning on preview. If there's a warning that says -

"Okay, I'll assume you're smart enough to know what you're doing. But from the length of your post there's a 100% chance most members will assume you aren't. Please consider shortening it."

I think people would quickly get the idea.

Many people here don't care much about whether something is annoying, but "stupid in the eyes of your peers" carries some weight.
posted by y6y6y6 at 6:20 AM on August 15, 2002


I guess I'll repeat it because people chose to ignore it: I will code a warning on preview when a post is above a certain character limit. It will simply gently remind them that what they are about to post is obnoxiously long and should be edited. There will be no forced limits imposed without warning.

I'm also this close to disallowing line breaks in posts, because people choose to keep abusing it on these long posts.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 8:12 AM on August 15, 2002


Flatlander won't do it again after this lambasting (sorry, Flat). Am I wrong here?

Only in that you are assuming Flatlander will read any of this.

posted by mischief at 8:31 AM on August 15, 2002


Matt - didn't you already disallow line breaks in posts once before? I thought at one time that was the case.

And while you're at it, a smart script that recognizes any variation of "What do you think about this? Discuss." and alerts the poster that what they are about to say may be superfluous would be nice too.
posted by yhbc at 8:37 AM on August 15, 2002


Please don't get rid of line breaks. Although they have been abused, they can be useful in crafting a post; for instance, if the "title" is particularly long, I like to put in a <br> in before the body so that it drops to another line, rather than having one word hanging after the title. It's just good form.
posted by me3dia at 8:41 AM on August 15, 2002


And while you're at it, a smart script that recognizes any variation of "What do you think about this? Discuss." and alerts the poster that what they are about to say may be superfluous would be nice too.

How about recognizing any feature request that assumes a Star Trek level of artificial intelligence is a trivial programming problem? The feature would give any warning but it would automatically append "and a pony" to the end of the post.
posted by timeistight at 8:46 AM on August 15, 2002


Should be "wouldn't give any warning".
posted by timeistight at 8:47 AM on August 15, 2002


My sarcasm detector is so broken.
posted by PrinceValium at 8:59 AM on August 15, 2002


Just trying to use a little humor to make a point. No offence intended.
posted by timeistight at 9:05 AM on August 15, 2002


Stripping out line breaks on front page posts makes sense to me. If your front-page post is so long that it needs a line break, you're doing something wrong.
posted by waxpancake at 9:21 AM on August 15, 2002


We're talking about taking away all hammers because a few jerks are hitting people with them. If you strip out line breaks, we probably won't have fewer long posts, we'll just end up with posts that are several screen-inches of solid, unformatted text -- which would be more annoying, in my opinion, than our current infrequent long posts.

A warning on preview would suffice.
posted by me3dia at 9:27 AM on August 15, 2002


Stripping out line breaks (and all other block-level tags) is okay by me, but if people continue to write 200-word descriptions we'll have some pretty ugly-looking text blocks.
posted by timeistight at 9:32 AM on August 15, 2002


Uh, in other words, what me3dia said.
posted by timeistight at 9:33 AM on August 15, 2002


You're right, mischief. Many new users (myself included) have been reading MeTa to get a lay of the land; guess I was presuming that we're all doing so. Has anyone alerted flatlander to this thread?
posted by boomchicka at 9:34 AM on August 15, 2002


Has anyone alerted flatlander to this thread?

A completely unnecessary task if there ever was one. If flatlander makes the mistake again, posters will thrash him inside his next post, and they would have done so with or without this MeTa post.

If a member of this community actively avoids MetaTalk, it's their problem. Ignorance is not a legitimate excuse for breaking/bending rules around here. Quite honestly, just about every MeFi issue has been addressed in MeTa at one point or another, multiple times. A simple search of MeTa would show that. Type anything into google's advanced search and you will get a very good understanding of this site and its members.

New or old user, if you truly want to be an active and productive member of MeFi, a simply 20 minutes of reading MeTa every couple of weeks is enough to keep you abreast of any situation. Matt, what is that you always say? Something along the lines of, "You can't code common sense."
posted by BlueTrain at 10:00 AM on August 15, 2002


Flatlander won't do it again after this lambasting

Lambasting??? Yeesh. This has been about as gentle a correction of a ridiculously-styled post as I've seen here. It really is kind of unbelievable that flatlander completely ignored what typical MeFi posts look like and went with something full of bolded text and longer than 99.99% of what's appeared on the front page in the last six months. And the fact that the gentle corrections in the MeFi thread didn't derail the discussion into flatlander-bashing is itself worth applause.

I think flatlander got off easy. Self-policing means, you know, *self*-policing.
posted by mediareport at 10:10 AM on August 15, 2002


Ignorance is not a legitimate excuse for breaking/bending rules around here.

one of the rules i failed to see written anywhere, bluetrain, was the one requiring people to read metatalk. people are free to choose whether or not they read metatalk, and they should not be disparaged for their decision.

quite franky, i think that you fail to see the point of metatalk, bluetrain. it does not exist to establish law: it's not congress. it's a place for people to discuss things and to get feelings off of their chests. that's all it is. if matt decides to do something different, hey may decide from discussion on metatalk; he may decide from discussion on metafilter; he may decide while in the shower. this place is nothing special save a place to discuss things about metafilter.
posted by moz at 10:18 AM on August 15, 2002


Left(strData,250)

to keep it tidy.


If MeFi is written in kindergarten programming code, yep :-)
posted by wackybrit at 10:24 AM on August 15, 2002


I thought bookchicka's idea to notify Flatlander was really a reference to Shadowkeeper's August 12th post about Metatalk notification etiquette, here. Cause it would be the polite thing to do.
posted by onlyconnect at 10:31 AM on August 15, 2002


"If MeFi is written in kindergarten programming code, yep :-)"

I've definitely been put in my place, haven't I?
posted by mr_crash_davis at 10:35 AM on August 15, 2002


it's a place for people to discuss things and to get feelings off of their chests. that's all it is.

I completely, absolutely disagree. If this was truly the case, MeTa would have been removed long ago. It's a place to discuss things about MeFi, as you said, and to establish policy for the community. Otherwise, why have the category, "etiquette/policy"? Why bother discussing anything aside from bugs?

MeTa has become a place to vent. I fully agree. But that does not change the reason for its establishment. I think it is you that does not understand, or maybe appreciate, this forum's value because of the asinine blabber that constantly occurs here.

I have no illusion about who is in charge here. I understand that everything goes through Haughey. But we, as posters, are like interest groups lobbying the benevolent dictator. He doesn't have to listen to us, but he have given us a forum to help him establish this sometimes brilliant community.

one of the rules i failed to see written anywhere, bluetrain, was the one requiring people to read metatalk.

Read the new user page. Matt stressed trust. In fact, he wrote an entire section about how he believes that we should be responsible for our own actions. Reading MeTa is not required. Commenting in a civil fashion is also not required. I can be, as I have been before, a complete ass and get away with it. There's not requirement for me to be a nice guy. Fuck that...I don't want to be a nice guy sometimes. But this community was built about the principle of trust, our own ability to maintain this site as intelligent and civil. MeTa is our place to establish these guidelines. And if it isn't anymore, as you said, then perhaps one of the first steps that should be taken is a reevaluation of this forum.
posted by BlueTrain at 10:35 AM on August 15, 2002


I agree with BlueTrain (except the part about asinine blather). MetaTalk is self-policing's best tool.

If MeFi is written in kindergarten programming code, yep :-)

Just curious, wackbrit – what would be the grownup way to code it?
posted by timeistight at 10:51 AM on August 15, 2002


It's a place to discuss things about MeFi, as you said, and to establish policy for the community. Otherwise, why have the category, "etiquette/policy"?

bluetrain, are you suggesting that an etiquette or policy category on metatalk implies that its purpose is to establish policy? could you explain that leap of logic to me? when i look on the category page, i see the following as an explanation for the topic: "Wondering what should or shouldn't be posted on MetaFilter? Think someone went too far? Talk about it here." discussion does not imply establishment. the latter may arise from the former, but the point always was discussion.

But this community was built about the principle of trust, our own ability to maintain this site as intelligent and civil. MeTa is our place to establish these guidelines.

in the trust section you point out, matt writes: "I trust that you'll act in a civilized manner, that you'll treat others with opposing viewpoints with absolute respect, that you'll contribute in a positive way to the intelligent discussions that take place here everyday."

matt is asking people to be civil to others; he is trusting them to do so. that is plain. you say earlier:

Matt stressed trust. In fact, he wrote an entire section about how he believes that we should be responsible for our own actions. Reading MeTa is not required. Commenting in a civil fashion is also not required.

matt is not asking you to read metatalk; he is trusting you to be civil to others. any comparison of likeliness between the two is specious, bluetrain.
posted by moz at 10:57 AM on August 15, 2002


Thank you, onlyconnect, that was exactly my idea. Not only did I think it was the polite thing to do, but I also think it would be more beneficial to the site if attempts were made to educate a fellow poster, rather than "thrash[ing] him inside his next post." I'm a little disturbed by the "everyone for him/herself" mindset that seems to be so rampant here. Of course criticism is sometimes necessary, but there's a mature way and an immature way to go about it. It would be wonderful to join a community that makes earnest attempts to help fellow posters do it right, and there are some of you who do that very well, but so very many others who wait for someone to screw up and then pounce.
posted by boomchicka at 11:20 AM on August 15, 2002


matt is not asking you to read metatalk; he is trusting you to be civil to others. any comparison of likeliness between the two is specious

I can safely say that your arrogance isn't lost on me, moz. Let me say this again, because apparently, you aren't seeing my point. There are no established rules on MeFi or MeTa. This entire site, or community, is built upon the members' ability to maintain themselves in a "civil and intelligent" manner. So when you claim that MeTa is simply here for discussion and I say that MeTa is here to establish a civil society, neither of us are correct or incorrect. The community takes our words at face value and acts accordingly.

When I claim that MetaTalk needs to be reevaluated, I'm attempting to create a discussion to better understand this forum and to establish some sort of structure. You continue to claim that MeTa is only used for discussion. Fine, but this type of active thinking fosters more chattiness, more unnecessary conversation, and precisely what MeTa is not---a chatroom. I don't disagree that this place has simply become a vent for anger/sadness/happiness/etc. I don't disagree that MeTa really has, at some points, zero "policy" value. However, it would be foolish for anyone with experience on this site to portray this arena as simply a place to house inconsequential discussion. It isn't prudent because there are several new faces here begging to be taught the values of this site.

Think of the children, baby.
posted by BlueTrain at 11:26 AM on August 15, 2002


I can safely say that your arrogance isn't lost on me, moz.

i'm sorry, bluetrain. i don't mean to offend or act arrogantly: i am sorry if i have hurt your feelings. i suppose that i sometimes get wrapped up in my own arguments, yet we all have our faults, don't we? i'll try harder.

So when you claim that MeTa is simply here for discussion and I say that MeTa is here to establish a civil society, neither of us are correct or incorrect. The community takes our words at face value and acts accordingly.

this is true. discussion is a necessary part of metatalk, but i suppose i couldn't stop someone from saying, "no waitaminute, on metatalk we talked about this and said to do things this way." and in fact, that's happened for a long time (and i've probably said just that sort of thing in the past). but i think it's important to remember that metatalk can't be used to decide on civility and behavior for everyone: just for those who happen to read and agree.

However, it would be foolish for anyone with experience on this site to portray this arena as simply a place to house inconsequential discussion.

i don't mean to say that discussion here is inconsequential. there are consequences for participants: perhaps opinions shall sway. some people have left metafilter, never to return, as a consequence of things said here.

for a long time, i've thought metatalk should have been a place for policy. the same as you feel, bluetrain. i've changed my mind, because people don't change theirs. that's not to say metatalk has no value. it only has value for those who want it to. i've learned you can't force everyone not to post newsy links, even if a majority of people on a metatalk thread agree with you. for that sort of purpose, metatalk is useless. but if you want to get something off of your chest, and see how others feel too, i think metatalk is great. and likewise, it's ok if not everyone visits here.
posted by moz at 11:55 AM on August 15, 2002


i've changed my mind, because people don't change theirs.

it only has value for those who want it to.


Yep. I think that's why I've stopped commenting this past week. (BTW, I've been dying to use this next reference for almost a month now, so here goes...):

People want leadership. And in the absence of genuine leadership, they will listen to anyone who steps up to the microphone. They want leadership, Mr. President. They're so thirsty for it, they'll crawl through the desert toward a mirage, and when they discover there's no water, they'll drink the sand. - LEWIS ROTHSCHILD

Lewis, we've had Presidents who were beloved, who couldn't find a coherent sentence with two hands and a flashlight. People don't drink the sand, 'cause they're thirsty, Lewis. They drink it 'cause they don't know the difference. - PRESIDENT ANDREW SHEPHERD

I'll let (the collective) you interpret what I'm saying here.
sidenote: 10 BlueTrain points to the poster who can tell me what movie I'm referencing.
That's right, BlueTrain points. Now available at your local grocer. Just look for our spokesman, Hugh Jass.
posted by BlueTrain at 12:14 PM on August 15, 2002


Caddyshack.
posted by websavvy at 12:24 PM on August 15, 2002


Cannonball Run?
posted by monju_bosatsu at 12:26 PM on August 15, 2002


Showgirls!
posted by Ufez Jones at 12:28 PM on August 15, 2002


The American President, starring Michael Dougls and Annette Bening.
posted by timeistight at 12:34 PM on August 15, 2002


Timeistight is too zany for me.
posted by websavvy at 12:35 PM on August 15, 2002


Sorry for breaking up the game. I couldn't resist the Bluetrain points.
posted by timeistight at 12:50 PM on August 15, 2002


Congrats, timeistight. Your prize, 10 BlueTrain points, is equivalent to one free shot at me or my thoughts, without recourse. Use it wisely.

I'm having a great/terrible day today and I'm feeling a bit out of character. Please excuse me. Tomorrow, I'm return to my rather distasteful and arrogant self, I promise.
posted by BlueTrain at 12:57 PM on August 15, 2002


Skallas, I tried to do a post similar to this. Yet my imagination could not figure out how do it right. Why I wanted to do it like this, as I knew if I went on and on, on the front page, it would be ignored. members open threads that are interesting, and long winded preview is boring no matter what the content is, agreed folks, yes or no? What do I mean, if you have a long post break it down with, more inside. Also are we saying the front page is being clogged up? Why I ask, because I've notices some members have slower systems so it takes longer just to preview the front page than some. So does Matt want creativity here in our posted threads, or tools to make law here at Meta?

I'm feeling a bit out of character. Blue Train, I leave for a while, and what gives, TCSish now. I hear two asprins and a beer does the trick LOL ;)
posted by thomcatspike at 1:04 PM on August 15, 2002


Just curious, wackbrit – what would be the grownup way to code [ Left(strData,250) ]?

Why, as strData.Substr(0,249), of course.
posted by kindall at 1:38 PM on August 15, 2002


if matt decides to do something different, he may decide from discussion on metatalk; he may decide from discussion on metafilter; he may decide while in the shower.

"Hail to the Chief, he's the one we all say hail to.
We all say "hail" 'cause he keeps himself so clean.
He's got the power, that's why he's in the shower . . ."
*interruption by Sigourney Weaver*
Kevin Kline in Dave

(no disrespect to Matt intended, just trying to bring BlueTrain and moz together in peace, love, and sappy movies about American presidents. I don't think your positions are that far apart from one another; e.g., I don't think moz ever suggested MeTa was a place for inconsequential discussion. Matt can use the thoughts expressed here or follow his own course to set policy (I think he's wisely gone both ways in the past), but it's useful to have ideas fleshed out. Both for Matt and for other who read here to learn how to become better members. That's not drinking sand, I hope. Sorry for typo'ing your name earlier, boomchicka.)
posted by onlyconnect at 2:12 PM on August 15, 2002


Just curious, wackbrit – what would be the grownup way to code it?

In assembler, weaklings.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 2:29 PM on August 15, 2002


>> Has anyone alerted flatlander to this thread?

> A completely unnecessary task if there ever was one.

No one is arguing that notification is necessary. We are merely pointing out that's it's courteous.
posted by Shadowkeeper at 2:41 PM on August 15, 2002


heh, heh, heh.......
posted by flatlander at 2:48 PM on August 15, 2002


Shadowkeeper, like your name, why? Several days back; "Somebody notified delmoi to tell him that there's a MeTa thread about him, right?"

Today; "Has anyone alerted flatlander to this thread?" ;)

I stumbled into mine by accident(metatalk thread about me), as I was walking around in the dark then.....no shadow ; (
posted by thomcatspike at 3:15 PM on August 15, 2002


I really only used flatlander as an example. This is an old conversation and Matt was more or less putting the fix off until he had time if I remember correctly. There were a couple other posts from the same day which were pretty long or had too many linefeeds.

Also I am not at all criticizing flatlander's content. This is purely presentational.
posted by skallas at 3:18 PM on August 15, 2002


I'll watch your back from here on out, Tom.

The startlingly uninteresting story behind my name is on my user page
posted by Shadowkeeper at 3:23 PM on August 15, 2002


I stumbled into mine by accident

That was my mistake, TCS. I apologize. I should have emailed you first, instead of later. I know better now.
posted by timeistight at 3:24 PM on August 15, 2002


I'll watch your back from here on out, Tom ... but I offer no guarantees about spelling your name correctly.

Okay, who wants me to shut up in this thread already? Everyone? All right, then!
posted by Shadowkeeper at 3:32 PM on August 15, 2002


I'm confused about this email notification thing. Isn't a pointer in the original thread -- which timeistight posted this morning -- enough? Why should anyone have to email the individual on top of that?
posted by mediareport at 4:08 PM on August 15, 2002


I know, e-mail all the above, yet I will share. Shadowkeeper, I read your reasoning for your name, yet you have lived up to it in definition, I have your back tom. \!!!/

Timesight, nothing personal was meant, I only said the above as I thought that was a double post about Flatlander, and researched it so I said something else for the effort and you have backed me up more than once, so I feel bad, and forget the past, why. As you said, and I want to point this out to those reading, yes timesight and I established a bridge, I think, by e-mailing each other. ;)

And yes, Skallas, I figured you were not picking on Flatlander from first reading the comments before my first post. See I notice if your not making things personal with a member like pointing a finger but to share our mistakes so all can learn. In my opinion it will make this place a personal place for all to come see. As I tried to do in my first comment above. ;)
posted by thomcatspike at 4:31 PM on August 15, 2002


Yeah, I was pretty sure you and I were okay, TCS, but it never hurts to say you're sorry.
posted by timeistight at 4:42 PM on August 15, 2002


moz, I'm not sure if you're missing a vital point here or not. I doesn't matter if some people do not visit MetaTalk regularly, or at all, for that matter. What is important is that enough people do visit it, in order to be able to propagate what few consensus decisions are reached, and be able to cite discussions about them. Metatalk is patently not 'useless' if not everyone reads it.

In other words, Bluetrain is right, and so are you, to a degree, I think. But BT is righter.

In my humble.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:57 PM on August 15, 2002


i think people should put a comment in the thread linking to the metatalk discussion. i am not going to ever email anyone. well, i'm also probably never going to start a metatalk thread about some bad thread either, but that's what i wish you people would do. i'm not pushy.
posted by rhyax at 8:45 PM on August 15, 2002


to propagate what few consensus decisions are reached, and be able to cite discussions about them.

Assuming of course that "everybody" (what, a couple hundred out of 15000+) who visits actually agrees with the moralizers instead of writing them off as a bunch of fundamentalist whackos.


posted by mischief at 6:36 AM on August 16, 2002


*smack*

You fail, mischief!

Back to Metafilter 101 : Introduction to Metafilter. Do not pass go, do not collect credibility.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:42 AM on August 16, 2002


I like the way it works at Whedonesque. Admittedly it depends on Matt's time constraints, but the way it works at that website is most ideal.
posted by ZachsMind at 3:28 PM on August 16, 2002


Ahhh, people fight and others kiss, meta the series . Timesight, do you have a sister I can lip lock with next time?
posted by thomcatspike at 5:08 PM on August 16, 2002


Let's not get carried away here.
posted by timeistight at 5:12 PM on August 16, 2002


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