Long comment is longish February 21, 2018 7:32 AM   Subscribe

This comment resulted in the this mod comment asking posters to use paste bin for "super long comments" as an aid to mobile users. I don't think we should be encouraging original content to be hosted on some platform not under the Metafilter sphere of influence. Bit rot is problematic enough within post linkage.

Also the comment was described as super long and a problem for mobile users. Was there something about the comment in question in particular that made it problematic for mobile users? I ask because it wasn't even long enough to trigger the recent activity cut off.
posted by Mitheral to Etiquette/Policy at 7:32 AM (112 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

Yeah, we've just been talking that over. I agree it doesn't seem too long or out of bounds to me. A few points:

-We do sometimes get long comments that *are* a problem for mobile users - in particular, superlong block quotes or especially, super long link text (like if the whole paragraph is a single link), can be hard to scroll past. So it's good in general for commenters to bear in mind the mobile user.

-The work that Chrysostom in particular has been doing to round up info about elections has been excellent and we don't want to discourage that at all.

-Manageable-size roundups are good, and (other things being equal) it's nice when people can group a few similar links together into a single comment rather than putting three to five single comments in the thread - just from the perspective of minimizing comment count. (Because number of comments is what makes the thread hard to load from the system's point of view.)

- Once a roundup grows to a certain size, a commenter could consider whether to spin it off as its own thread -- that might be a thing to consider with this public lands roundup.

- From my own personal perspective, I agree I'm not crazy about the pastebin thing except for unusual circumstances.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 7:40 AM on February 21 [14 favorites]


The pastebin suggestion seems very unusual to me, and I came to metatalk to see if someone else was as taken aback by that suggestion as I.

Speaking frankly, I think the (paraphrased) suggestion that "your comment is too long, please don't make it here - make it somewhere else and link it here" is patently out of sync with that I understand Metafilter to be. And while it is unfortunate that long comments can cause problems for mobile users, my feeling is that a well-intentioned and thought out "long" comment is better for the site than the (occasional?) inconveniencing of (some?) mobile users. I think LobsterMitten makes some great suggestions above for things to keep in mind. All that being said, I would vastly prefer a comment length hard limit to wholesale mod deletion of a comment simply due to its length.

Mods: is a hard comment length limit a solution to this problem? Or perhaps tuning an existing limit - I've never been even remotely verbose enough to discover whether such a limit may already exist.


(? full disclaimer: I pretty much never interact with mefi on mobile. I'm a classic theme user. I've never experienced any problems loading or interacting with threads because of length. This likely informs my opinion even more than I am accounting for.)
posted by namewithoutwords at 8:18 AM on February 21 [31 favorites]


I haaaaate the pastebin idea.

-We do sometimes get long comments that *are* a problem for mobile users - in particular, superlong block quotes or especially, super long link text (like if the whole paragraph is a single link), can be hard to scroll past. So it's good in general for commenters to bear in mind the mobile user.

I read those threads in the mobile layout on my phone pretty much every day. The politics threads get to be a couple of thousand comments long. The idea that one extra long comment is "a problem" for people to scroll past that requires an off-site solution of any kind (as opposed to being a minor annoyance for readers) feels completely ridiculous.
posted by zarq at 8:20 AM on February 21 [56 favorites]


If a super-long comment is mobile-problematic, could a mod insert a "jump to next comment" hyperlink at the top of the mega-comment?
posted by misterbrandt at 8:38 AM on February 21


A super-long comment would make a really great post!
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:45 AM on February 21 [2 favorites]


Anyone who posts a super-long comment should be immediately cast into the fires of HELL and then spend some time in purgatory and then maybe, uhh - go to ... heaven, I guess? I dunno.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 9:00 AM on February 21 [10 favorites]


compartment's public lands roundup was mostly focused on the actions of the Trump admin, so it seemed fine to me.

I agree the pastebin suggestion seems odd; if a well-intentioned but overly long comment would be welcome in an edited-down form, maybe it would be better to delete with a quick note saying so?
posted by mubba at 9:08 AM on February 21 [2 favorites]


I'm surprised by the pastebin comment, not just the idea of using pastebin, but the length of the comment that the suggestion is directed at.

It does not seem very long at all to me, and is well in line with Chrysostom's regular Elections Updates roundups (recent example), which have been going on forever (and are much appreciated and valued) so not sure where this is coming from.
posted by lalex at 9:09 AM on February 21 [23 favorites]


maybe it would be better to delete with a quick note saying so?

I don't think encouraging deletions of topical, relevant and constructive comments that further the conversation along is a good idea.
posted by zarq at 9:10 AM on February 21 [30 favorites]


I agree — I only meant a "temporary" deletion with an encouragement to trim it down and resubmit (assuming the length is truly a problem for some reason). But on second thought, never mind, I'm sure the mods are not eager to be everyone's personal editor.
posted by mubba at 9:20 AM on February 21


Can somebody remind me again why Metafilter doesn't use pages for long threads ? It would solve a lot of problems.
posted by Pendragon at 9:24 AM on February 21 [7 favorites]


Another mobile user/poster/commenter here, well aware of the limitations of MeFi mobile, trust me. We have been told that the number of comments in the megathreads is what is problematic, so I found the in-thread pastebin pushback both misguided and contrary to expressed mod policy on this.

The long (substantive!) comments — especially Chrysostom’s — and the labor users put into creating them is the source of much of the value of these threads. This user votes against the pastebin idea and the overall pushback as well.

Hopefully y’all are using paper ballots to track our votes on this :p
posted by Barack Spinoza at 9:26 AM on February 21 [19 favorites]


I read (but don’t comment in) the politics threads regularly, on my phone, keeping my place when I get behind by making sure to click on the timestamp. Invariably, when I come back to the thread after a while, instead of returning to the timestamp I’d clicked, it returns me to some random timestamp I’d clicked previously. Every time I click a link, I click the timestamp first, and cross my fingers and hope I come back to the same place, rather than hundreds of comments in the past.

All this to say, I would *much* rather have to scroll through long comments than click away to somewhere else.
posted by leahwrenn at 9:28 AM on February 21 [18 favorites]


Yeah, the problem with the mega threads is still the 10 jokey one line comments riffing on something not the long, well thought out comments that belong there.
posted by PugAchev at 9:32 AM on February 21 [22 favorites]


Did the comment at issue even get any flags? I can see if a ton of people flagged it because it was crashing their browsers or something that it might warrant a response, but that seems unlikely. I too was taken aback by the pastebin suggestion. Particularly because we've previously been asked to make our comments into more substantive roundups when possible. I use mobile for these threads at least 50% of the time, and sometimes super long comments are annoying to scroll past but this one wasn't even particularly long and it included a bunch of links and other interesting material and wasn't on one of the well-tread issues; it's not like it was someone's five-page essay on Bernie/Hillary.
posted by melissasaurus at 9:33 AM on February 21 [10 favorites]


Long comments are part of what makes this site what it is. Some of the best comments in site history are very long. They shouldn't be long for no reason or for lazy ones, but they shouldn't be discouraged.
posted by Miko at 9:34 AM on February 21 [12 favorites]


I'd never heard of Pastebin before. Does it support links? If not, I don't see the point.
I don't like the idea of pages either.
I've got a 16G iPhone 5 that's almost always got a 'Running out of storage' message, and I have no problem with long comments (especially Chrysostom's) or even the 2000+ comment political posts.
posted by MtDewd at 9:34 AM on February 21


In addition to my previous comment, I think the mods are doing a pretty good job with the mega threads, I just wish there was less they had to deal with in the first place.

Also I read almost exclusively on mobile and long posts don’t bother me.
posted by PugAchev at 9:34 AM on February 21 [1 favorite]


I would really hate to see a movement toward long comments being hosted off-site somewhere. I thought that comment was great and I like it exactly as it was written and formatted in the thread. It definitely could be its own topic and I wouldn't mind a nudge toward considering that, but let's nix "get your own blog and link out to it" as a type of mod feedback, pretty please?
posted by Stacey at 9:37 AM on February 21 [7 favorites]


I do not understand what pastebin means, but
- I don't think compartment's comment was too long.
- Chrystostom's comments have sometimes been longer than compartment's.
- I think both chrysostom's and compartment's long comments are really valuable

and if the pastebin thing means "make all long comments their own post" I disagree, especially if it's in the mega threads. I agree that it's the 1 liner stuff that bloats the megathreads, not the longer comments we're talking about here.
posted by yoga at 9:38 AM on February 21 [6 favorites]


I pretty much only ever read The Thread on mobile, and would vastly prefer a dozen giant informative comments on wonky policymaking details than, for example, a dozen chatty comments about how useful an idiot Glenn Greenwald is based on a linked Twitter comment.
posted by KatlaDragon at 9:41 AM on February 21 [5 favorites]


Did the comment at issue even get any flags?

Yeah, it got flagged and I think taz gave it an eyeball and it felt longish enough to give a nudge about comment length, although not to delete; and she had a quick thought about pastebin (which is just a place to put long pieces of text) and popped that in there. But we talked about it afterward at shift change, and she didn't feel strongly about it and is fine retracting that thought. And then this Metatalk came in so we left the mod comment and figured we could talk it over in here with anyone who saw the comment and wanted to discuss. So basically, along the lines of my comment above -- there are some general reasons why we're sometimes extra aware of long comments, they do sometimes cause a problem especially for mobile scrollers, they do pick up flags, and that's the context of her responding to this one -- but on reflection in this case it's fine and pastebin isn't something we're suggesting as a go-to for comments like this.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 9:45 AM on February 21 [9 favorites]


If there are site-architecture issues that make topical, useful, and valuable long comments a problem, the solution to that should be in the architecture. I understand there's a long history here of not wanting to explore pagination or similar, but when proposed solution is that comments should be put off-site instead, I think that's getting into silly territory.
posted by Drastic at 9:46 AM on February 21 [13 favorites]


I thought compartment's comment was valuable, and would like to see more of that sort of thing. The politics threads are a pretty broad church, and that's good, but my own *personal* preference is [news you might not have heard/personal reporting/actionable stuff], rather than "let us debate on where democracy is going" comments.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:56 AM on February 21 [7 favorites]


(and thank you all for your kind comments above - you will be receiving the money via PayPal, as we agreed)
posted by Chrysostom at 9:56 AM on February 21 [18 favorites]


I flagged it as a great comment, not as a negative flag. I love, love, love these types of comments and I so appreciate the time and effort that goes in to writing them and posting them. It is comments like compartment's and Chrystostom's that give me the best information and help me find a sense of calm in the storm. I will often copy and paste them and e-mail them to friends so they can benefit from them as well and be able to take the actions that are highlighted, such as the Public Comments for Agencies.
posted by W Grant at 10:01 AM on February 21 [5 favorites]


...they do sometimes cause a problem especially for mobile scrollers,

What problem?

A long comment may be an annoyance for some, but they don't break the site or make it impossible for people to read threads. We all scroll through comments of all sizes while reading. It's not as if we suddenly can't because someone decides to be more verbose.
posted by zarq at 10:02 AM on February 21 [2 favorites]


yoga: I do not understand what pastebin means

It means this external site where texts could theoretically be hosted, and linked to from here.
posted by Too-Ticky at 10:03 AM on February 21 [2 favorites]


compartment's comment was fantastic! I'll continue to try to avoid too many overly long pullquotes.
posted by zachlipton at 10:04 AM on February 21 [1 favorite]


zarq, just because it's not a problem for you, doesn't mean it can't be a problem for anybody. Something can be a problem i.e. a hassle, an annoyance, etc, without requiring instant action, but in a way that we keep in the back of our mind for those times when it seems like it's rising above a threshold. This kind of smallish problem is something people mention to us and something we keep in mind.

And separately about flags - just so people know: the positive and negative flags show up in totally separate parts of the admin interface and there is zero chance of a positive flag being misread - it can't happen with the way things are set up. People should feel free to "fantastic" flag things, it's safe.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 10:10 AM on February 21 [6 favorites]


"In the name of the most holy and individual Trinity: Be it known to all, and every one whom it may concern, or to whom in any manner it may belong, That for many Years past, Discords and Civil Divisions being stir'd up in the Roman Empire.."
posted by clavdivs at 10:15 AM on February 21 [7 favorites]


LobsterMitten: "Yeah, it got flagged and I think taz gave it an eyeball and it felt longish enough to give a nudge about comment length, although not to delete; and she had a quick thought about pastebin (which is just a place to put long pieces of text) and popped that in there. But we talked about it afterward at shift change, and she didn't feel strongly about it and is fine retracting that thought. "

Maybe we shouldn't be defining new site policy as an afterthought? I mean, whether or not this is a bad idea, it's a conceptually huge change that has caused a lot of people some anguish as evidenced by this discussion.
posted by TypographicalError at 10:45 AM on February 21 [10 favorites]




LobsterMitten: "but on reflection in this case it's fine and pastebin isn't something we're suggesting as a go-to for comments like this."

Maybe an edit to the mod comment (maybe a Strikeout) and a link to this discussion would be appropriate?
posted by Mitheral at 10:45 AM on February 21 [5 favorites]


she didn't feel strongly about it and is fine retracting that thought

Well, um, good I guess? Maybe better to not make up new site policy on the fly, but glad that this staff member has come around from that wacky idea.

You guys generally rock, the site is testament to that. Careful and considerate moderation that is informed by mod consensus and the guidance of cortex, and does not depend too strongly on the whim of the current guy on shift, is part of what makes the moderation here so excellent.
posted by Meatbomb at 10:45 AM on February 21 [4 favorites]


And now I see lalex has already linked the meta.
posted by Mitheral at 10:48 AM on February 21


Have long comments that have few favorites/positive flags not load the entire comment. Clicking a javascript "Read More" link to load the rest of the comment. Also gives incentive for people writing comments that a borderline long to edit and trim it up to fit within the "normal" comment length.
posted by 6ATR at 10:58 AM on February 21


Also, defaulting to one long thread but giving users the option to switch to a paged version could help a subset of mobile users out
posted by 6ATR at 10:59 AM on February 21


Hell to the no. This isn't Reddit.
posted by Too-Ticky at 11:00 AM on February 21 [14 favorites]


By which I mean: favourites are many things to many people, but what they aren't is a thing that determines whether (part of) a commet is hidden or shown.
posted by Too-Ticky at 11:02 AM on February 21 [6 favorites]


I liked the comment, and I’m reading it on mobile. I strongly prefer long comments to linking out when I am reading on mobile.

I was interested in this content, but it’s the same either way- if I had to link out to see if I was interested, that would be annoying either way.

I would be interested to hear from mobile users who think long comments are a problem and hope some of them comment here as to why.
posted by nat at 11:10 AM on February 21 [2 favorites]


I don't have access to paste bin on every computer I read Metafilter on. I would really hate to miss comments because of lack of access to a third-party website.
posted by Quonab at 11:14 AM on February 21 [4 favorites]


(and thank you all for your kind comments above - you will be receiving the money via PayPal, as we agreed)

Blah blah, big promises but I've never seen a dime from you and it's been over a year since the first Women's March and my Soros check is still MIA.
posted by phearlez at 11:30 AM on February 21 [1 favorite]


I don't think encouraging deletions of topical, relevant and constructive comments that further the conversation along is a good idea.

Every other comment in those conversations is liable to a sudden deletion for some obscure and unwritten reason. Why stop there?
posted by octobersurprise at 11:38 AM on February 21 [1 favorite]


Bit of a side track and obviously not speaking for everyone but I don't think I've ever had a comment deleted or witnessed someone elses deletion where the reason wasn't obvious. I mean I don't necessarily agree all deletions are correct; just I always know the reason.
posted by Mitheral at 12:22 PM on February 21 [5 favorites]


zarq, just because it's not a problem for you, doesn't mean it can't be a problem for anybody.

Definitely!

Something can be a problem i.e. a hassle, an annoyance, etc, without requiring instant action, but in a way that we keep in the back of our mind for those times when it seems like it's rising above a threshold. This kind of smallish problem is something people mention to us and something we keep in mind.

Ok.

I would just like to encourage us all to keep things in realistic perspective, if at all possible. We have discussions every once in a while here in Meta where people complain that a particular kind of post or comment is Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad etc., for the site. But we're all adults who are capable of scrolling past a post or comment we don't like or that annoys us. I mean, I'm all in on curtailing the snarky one liners. But the politics threads are not running rampant with Treaty of Westphalia-length comments and I think the one or two that show up and are actually relevant to the topic being discussed should be okay for us to deal with. No?
posted by zarq at 12:26 PM on February 21


My feelings on this are on pastebin.
posted by peeedro at 12:41 PM on February 21 [24 favorites]


Once a roundup grows to a certain size, a commenter could consider whether to spin it off as its own thread

So am I reading this correctly as a mod request for more politics threads?
posted by ryanrs at 12:42 PM on February 21 [2 favorites]


I'm glad this thread got posted - replacing good, informed, long comments with links to PasteBin would be a huge step in the wrong direction.
posted by reductiondesign at 12:43 PM on February 21


ryanrs- Spinning off discrete topics has always been part of what we're hoping to see, in cases where a topic can support a substantial discussion on its own and will be separable from the main thread. So for example, all the stuff on the Parkland shooting we're trying to keep over in that thread. If there's some significant piece of journalism that will be a discussion unto itself, that could get its own thread.

We don't want a separate thread for every little stupid horrible thing the administration does, we want to contain all that smaller stuff in the catchall. But biggish separate topics, new threads are a good approach - so for example, the public lands thing could definitely be its own thread. Each of the agencies that are being destroyed could probably support its own thread with updates, depending. It's all judgment calls though, and I totally get why people might feel uncertain about it.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 12:47 PM on February 21 [3 favorites]


Very broadly speaking I think avoiding unnecessary sources of linkrot is a worthwhile goal for MetaFilter.

There's nothing we can reasonably do about all those links to, for example, The Toast, but moving comment content offsite and linking to it introduces a whole new vector of potential broken links.
posted by lalex at 12:51 PM on February 21 [2 favorites]


Nuclear nope on making comments offsite to link.

Reason 1 is linkrot, reason 2 is... would it really be that hard to implement that on site if the situation is really that serious? First, create something like long.metafilter.com to host the walls of text (no reason to index them - it would be a lot of no-context posts), and when someone makes a really long post, it warns the post is x characters too long and will overload less powerful devices, and after the first lines the rest will be truncated and placed a link to something like long.metafilter.com/201 where the whole text is.
posted by lmfsilva at 12:52 PM on February 21 [2 favorites]


It sounds like this is somewhat settled, but… That would be a terrible policy. I rather liked the longish comment that started this discussion. Although I did read it on a laptop, I read and appreciated this even longer comment on a phone this morning (about twice as many screens of text, over three times the character count, since it has less white space). I can see comments that are just a big link that extends longer than a phone screen being difficult to scroll past without tapping, but this seemed just like Chrysostom's election posts that mods have spoken of positively—a bunch of text, but well organized, and no harder to skip past if you're not interested than a couple of the medium-long comments that fill up the politics threads.

And the suggestion of moving longish comments to Pastebin?
  • It's a terrible reading experience—a bunch of monospaced text, no options for formating or links (unless you pay for pastebin pro, apparently?).
  • Linkrot. Things on pastebin can be edited or deleted. Pastebin could even go out of business.
  • Having to open up another website just to read someone's comment that's written as part of the thread is kind of a pain (especially on mobile, and especially for long threads like the politics mega-thread where it might re-load to some other point when I try to go back).
So, not to pile on, but in summary—uggh, please no.
posted by JiBB at 1:27 PM on February 21 [1 favorite]


Another down vote. I'm mostly reading on an iPad mini with wonky wifi connections. Mefi as it is loads fine but I have to prejudge every link before clicking on it whether it is worth potentially losing my place in the thread (clicking the time stamp to bookmark it doesn't always work) and then waiting, waaaaiting for the new tab to come up.... If it's raining, all bets are off.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 4:08 PM on February 21 [1 favorite]


I love pastebin but I hate this idea! (anecdata: usually read from mobile but am posting from a desktop)
posted by furtive at 7:37 PM on February 21


No. I read on a computer. I know, not forward. But I still say no. That's my vote, take it to the barn.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 7:50 PM on February 21


"Take it to pastebin" is the new "Get your own blog"
posted by banshee at 8:25 PM on February 21 [11 favorites]


My small opinion is that I do not like this idea. The risk of having to reload a mega-thread on mobile is far greater than any theoretical effort that may come with reading any given comment in said mega-thread.
posted by RolandOfEld at 8:40 PM on February 21 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I don't like this pastebin idea either. It's far more of a pain to open a new tab to read a comment in pastebin than it is to scroll a little further down in the thread.
posted by dazed_one at 9:01 PM on February 21


I had no idea long replies caused problems for mobile users since I'm not one of them, but I'd find the site a lot less inviting if long posts weren't welcome. That's a major part of the reason I avoid Twitter and other more quip/quick impression oriented sites. I have to say it also now makes me feel a bit self-conscious knowing long replies may not be welcome given that's such a common manner of response for me.
posted by gusottertrout at 2:53 AM on February 22 [1 favorite]


As an on-again off-again lurker on the politics threads, I think I'd notice and appreciate long and substantial comments more if I weren't skimming through the entire thing looking for links, because for me that's the best way to find news and real developments.

Everyone likes and are vehemently defending these kinds of long and substantial comments here, so it's too bad they can get lost in what seems to me a still too-high portion of derails, repeated content, and comments that could just as well have been posted in MetaTalk. And that's after whatever the poor mods are doing behind the scenes.

So separate from the policy decision that has already been resolved, if you love those comments so much consider giving them more room in the spotlight.
posted by sacchan at 6:18 AM on February 22 [1 favorite]


gusottertrout - don't worry about long replies in general on the site. Your replies are good and the length of them is fine. In a normal-length thread it's almost never an issue unless someone is posting the Treaty of Westphalia (PSA for newer members: please don't post the Treaty of Westphalia). It's really just in the context of the megathreads, where there's a lot more scrolling and other idiosyncrasies, that this stuff starts to be a thing we think about.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 8:37 AM on February 22


Anecdata: I originally read that comment on mobile (Chrome for Android, Samsung Galaxy 8) and had zero problems with it.
posted by Jacqueline at 9:32 AM on February 22


I feel that if long comments are a UX (user experience) problem within the site, then they need to be addressed within the site itself, and not attempting to change user's behavior. Asking users to know what the limit of a "long comment/breaks mobile" is and hence do something different is not the solution, whether it's pastebin, a new post, whatever. I know pagination, etc have been discussed many times, but I really feel there's a solution here in terms of small-ish change to how the site is rendered. If you don't want long comments because it breaks the UX for some users, don't allow them. If you do want to allow them, figure out a way to make them work within the site for the majority of the users (or accept that some will simply have a sub-optimal experience, which sucks for them, but is always an option). Truncating long comments with a [load more] for mobile users (done client side, assuming it's the actual page length that causes mobile issues, and not the sheer weight of the page) is the first solution I can think of, but there's probably better ones out there already.
posted by cgg at 11:02 AM on February 22 [2 favorites]


Pedantry: It's the PEACE of Westphalia.
posted by Chrysostom at 11:23 AM on February 22 [2 favorites]


The in-joke is Treaty. The original comment was titled Peace Treaty so make of that what you will.
posted by Mitheral at 12:19 PM on February 22 [1 favorite]


Oh, I know. I was just having fun being pedantic.
posted by Chrysostom at 1:36 PM on February 22 [1 favorite]


I ask because it wasn't even long enough to trigger the recent activity cut off.

Wow. Insane.

Maybe an edit to the mod comment (maybe a Strikeout) and a link to this discussion would be appropriate?

You should do this.
posted by Chuckles at 4:02 PM on February 22


If we wanted to keep all the long comments here but move jokey asides and multiple postings of the same breaking news to Pastebin, that would improve my user experience.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 4:34 AM on February 23 [4 favorites]


(PSA for newer members: please don't post the Treaty of Westphalia)

Quite so. That's a privilege reserved for members of long standing.
posted by flabdablet at 5:40 AM on February 23


Getting here late and ruminating a little on site history and the context here, because I feel like the "is this new policy?" "nope!" bit is already pretty clearly sorted.

"Take it to pastebin" is the new "Get your own blog"

Just wanted to pop in with a quick catching-up thought to note that while I agree with the consensus take that the "take it to pastebin" thing doesn't fly—basically see what LM has said already as far as taz having sort of a gut read there that we talked out afterward as pretty much "nah"—the idea of folks posting long-form stuff to their own blog is part of the cultural DNA of the site and I think structurally a part of where that gut read even came from.

For a long time the assumption was like as not your average MeFite had a blog. Early/mid 2000s that held pretty consistently; not as a rule certainly but it was a reasonable assumption, and even for cases where it didn't hold true that's an era where "then start one" was a plausible followup. The blog ecosphere for the solid first half of the site's life was different than it is today, where most folks are at least and at most using one to a handful of social media services. Blogging begat microblogging begat not using the word blog at all.

And "get your own blog" could be a dismissal sometimes but it was also frequently an earnest policy stance: putting everything on MetaFilter often didn't really work, and there were alternatives, and making a blog post and linking it in the thread was often one of the best ones available. Made room for long-form posting by members without MetaFilter threads becoming the defacto inhouse blog of those members at the expense of other people feeling like they could get a word in edgewise.

But context is context; blogs have fallen far by the wayside. It's not really any harder to spin up a blog now than it was ten years ago—in fact there's slicker, nicer looking, more featured options—but the culture of blogging has been decimated to the point where it doesn't feel natural. And for one-off type things where starting a whole blog up just to host some content feels over the top, there's a lot more in the way of nonce content hosting now.

Something like pastebin often fills that niche in practice the last several years: less "read my blog", more "here, look at this specific content dump" without all the added overhead of spinning up and styling and gussying up a home for an ongoing organized series of writings. The world has moved on, in weird ways.

And the megathreads are a different thing than the typical threads of MetaFilter, now or ten years ago, and that creates a different context too. The footprint someone's long-form writing has in a 40 comment thread is more outsized than in a 2000 comment thread. On the other hand, the megathreads continue to be an idiosyncratic challenge for the site and the community and the mod staff in a lot of ways, and so every contributing factor to that ends up being a point of friction.

Anyway, freeform thoughts. We're not gonna make "take it to pastebin" a going thing, and I appreciate folks wanting to blink at the idea and talk it out in here. On the other hand I'm also not concerned with that having come up as a mod thought in passing in a catch-all thread, to then get talked out a bit; I frankly have a hard time assigning any great importance to one or another brainstormy thought in one of those threads because their endless omnipresence can be all else aside such a fucking drag for the mod staff that I basically want to give everyone on the team medals for not flipping out constantly.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:18 AM on February 23 [10 favorites]


Anyway, freeform thoughts. We're not gonna make "take it to pastebin" a going thing, and I appreciate folks wanting to blink at the idea and talk it out in here. On the other hand I'm also not concerned with that having come up as a mod thought in passing in a catch-all thread, to then get talked out a bit; I frankly have a hard time assigning any great importance to one or another brainstormy thought in one of those threads because their endless omnipresence can be all else aside such a fucking drag for the mod staff that I basically want to give everyone on the team medals for not flipping out constantly.

Respectfully, your names have the word "staff" after them, and what you all say carries the weight of site policy.

I realize it's been a really long time since most of the mods were just plain members/end users of the site, but unless y'all are extremely specific and blatant about labeling "a mod thought in passing" your users are going to naturally assume that when a mod says "in the future it might be better to do X, thanks" a policy has been changed. Mefi's mods are treated as the voice of authority because that's what you are and frankly, that's how things are supposed to work here. When a mod says something on the site and that staff label is next to their name, you are speaking ex cathedra, so to speak. Especially if it is said in "mod voice" (small text and with the label). So for example, when you tell a member to stop behavior, we don't take that as "a mod thought in passing." We take it as a site admin saying, "cut it out or else." Even if that is not explicitly stated.
posted by zarq at 9:42 AM on February 23 [9 favorites]


Respectfully, your names have the word "staff" after them, and what you all say carries the weight of site policy.

Something we only very recently added on the blue after folks asking for it and insisting it would be a good thing all around. You can guess just about how excited I am about having that more or less immediately thrown back at us.

Not every mod note is hewn perfection, especially in those endless, tiring slogs of catch-all threads. And I think being able to accept that and move on after getting a followup explanation is a basic part of having a healthy relationship with the site, because we're sure as fuck not perfect and we're well aware of it. So, "respectfully" carries an odd charge when it's in service of reminding us, after multiple followup mod comments explicitly noting that the thing people are concerned about and want to not be policy is not, in fact, going to be policy, that one of us said something confusing. Take yes for an answer and cut us some slack.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:53 AM on February 23 [5 favorites]


Respectfully, I think you're being a grouchy bear.
posted by octobersurprise at 9:59 AM on February 23 [1 favorite]


ಠ_ಠ
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:01 AM on February 23 [3 favorites]


Not every mod note is hewn perfection, especially in those endless, tiring slogs of catch-all threads.

Yours noted, Mr. cortex; please accept my submission of appreciation for your work and of good thoughts to yourself and your fellow mods, and strong wishes for a happy weekend (similar thoughts are hereby sent to all the users of Metafilter).
posted by the quidnunc kid at 10:06 AM on February 23 [1 favorite]


Hey, cortex, I mean this in a kind way and not in a "you're bad" way, but maybe you need a vacation or a walk or something to clear your head and reorient? I hope this is not out of line for me to say, but I am worried about you. I don't know how possible taking a break is but this seems like it is really a hard time and like you need a break for your well-being (again, not in a "you're bad" way but in an "are you ok" way). We are all under tremendous stress--mods, users, everyone--and this job seems to be really painful and hard right now?

I really appreciate all that you and the mods do. I think that in your comment above, you really cogently recognize that the internet culture has changed but maybe not that site culture has changed as well. The "staff" tag thing... I don't see that as a "cut it out or else" but I do see it as a "mods want you to do this thing." And I think that given the changes in site culture the staff tag is appropriate and helpful for users. And I do think that when something is said with the "staff" tag next to it that it feels like we are being asked to do a thing, and so if that thing is something kind of surprising and really not in keeping with the way things are done here -- honestly, I don't even know what pastebin is -- I think it's expected that people are going to say Wait, huh? What do you want us to do? Is this a thing now?

I don't know, my recommendation is: take the weekend off, or a week off, make some of your squares and your art (which I love seeing on Twitter), do some serious head clearing, and then ... we probably need to have yet another discussion about "politics filter" because what we are doing here is still not working and it is causing you and the other mods serious stress and that is not ok.

"Everyone needs a hug" so hugs if you want them.
posted by sockermom at 10:12 AM on February 23 [14 favorites]


You can guess just about how excited I am about having that more or less immediately thrown back at us.

I am not "throwing" it "back at you." Mod notes have been a part of the Blue for years. But you're narrowing down what I said to make it solely about the staff label and ignoring the overall point I'm making. You're also defensively accusing me of somehow being shitty to the mod team or not taking yes for an answer. Ugh.

So, "respectfully" carries an odd charge when it's in service of reminding us, after multiple followup mod comments explicitly noting that the thing people are concerned about and want to not be policy is not, in fact, going to be policy, that one of us said something confusing.

You followed up all those comments with this: "I frankly have a hard time assigning any great importance to one or another brainstormy thought in one of those threads"

And that's exactly what I addressed.

Take yes for an answer and cut us some slack.

Not one word of my comment was an attack on you or the Mod Team. I truly do not understand why you perceived it that way or why you are speaking to me this way.
posted by zarq at 10:42 AM on February 23 [2 favorites]


Hey, I’ve an idea. Mod directions go in thread; the brainstormy thoughts go on pastebin.
posted by octobersurprise at 11:09 AM on February 23 [3 favorites]


...they do sometimes cause a problem especially for mobile scrollers,

What problem?


This part was talking specifically about comments where a whole paragraph is a single link. This is bad for mobile users because we have to scroll by swiping up or down on our phones and if a link has so much text that it fills the whole screen then no matter where we touch the screen to scroll we have a chance that our phone will think we wanted to click the link instead of scrolling.
posted by metaphorever at 11:36 AM on February 23 [1 favorite]


Oh!! That makes perfect sense. Thanks for explaining!
posted by zarq at 11:55 AM on February 23 [2 favorites]


For the record, I think that the pastebin suggestion was a pretty terrible idea. But perhaps we could collectively refrain from dragging this discussion down, down, down into a land of reverse-upside-down-yak-shaving.
posted by desuetude at 12:10 PM on February 23 [6 favorites]


> blogs have fallen far by the wayside. It's not really any harder to spin up a blog now than it was ten years ago—in fact there's slicker, nicer looking, more featured options—but the culture of blogging has been decimated to the point where it doesn't feel natural.

Oh, great. First they came for the fedoras, now it's the blogs.
posted by languagehat at 12:24 PM on February 23 [6 favorites]


I frankly have a hard time assigning any great importance to one or another brainstormy thought in one of those threads

That's great. Your a good manager. It is good that you are defending your employee. It is good that you give your employees space and power to do their jobs effectively. I still think the message should be altered to indicate that, upon video revue, the umpire's ruling has been overturned. Not everybody is going to see this thread, but the staff tag is still attached to that comment.

because [political (mega?) threads] endless omnipresence can be all else aside such a fucking drag for the mod staff that I basically want to give everyone on the team medals for not flipping out constantly.

In the very long term view, you might have to consider hiring a mod who has a greater tolerance, god forbid enthusiasm, for that aspect of the job? It might make for a happier workplace. Politics isn't going away, we hope.
posted by Chuckles at 12:40 PM on February 23 [1 favorite]


Oh, great. First they came for the fedoras, now it's the blogs.

May it please the MetaCourt to note: some of us still hold in high regard the blogs you write, the hats you wear.

And furthermore: it is my (idiot’s) pleasure to know of this “MetaFilter”, and to dream upon her users; beings I may never experience in the realm of flesh and proximity - but whose words alone can tickle and delight my mind (a simple thing, though it may be).

Thus, oh you posters and commentors: permit me to submit to you the appreciation of a faraway - but sincere - colleague in this race, known as “human”. It is still, to this Luddite, a delight to read and see and know the hot thoughts of your true brains that are given to me via the medium of said “MetaFilter”.

From the public house I find myself in, I wish you all good thoughts, and I point a beer right now in your direction.

Good cheer, dear hearts!
posted by the quidnunc kid at 12:48 PM on February 23 [3 favorites]


Not everybody is going to see this thread, but the staff tag is still attached to that comment.

Conversely, it's one mod comment in one of what is a very long chain of threads on the same subject over the course of multiple years, and this thread is linked later in that particular thread. So folks who see that note are likely to see this thread, and the majority of folks aren't going to see that note in the first place.

Which, to be clear, I hear you on the preference that the note got changed. I don't think it's an insensible thing to want or anything like that. I also just don't actually think it's necessary or terribly important; MetaFilter isn't a site where an errant mod note once in a while will break things, viz. the fact that we have a whole metadiscussion section to hash such things out. Talking it out on MetaTalk is basically how stuff works on the site and it seems like it's working sufficiently well for the actual pretty-limited scope and magnitude of this particular issue.

In the very long term view, you might have to consider hiring a mod who has a greater tolerance, god forbid enthusiasm, for that aspect of the job?

Realistically, there is no solution to this kind of systemic issue of site dynamics that can be solved by hiring a mod. Hiring an entire extra mod staff, maybe; making the whole thing not any of our problems would at least in a basic structural sense address the problem. But it can't be one person's job to monitor anything on the site 24/7, and if you ask the current mod team who among us is happy that ongoing politics megathreads are part of the job I can safely say that nobody's hand will go up.

That's independent of the idea that there's a budget for it which there is not. That independent of the idea that given such a budget the best thing we could do with it is literally double-down on politics-discussion infrastructure, which I heartily disbelieve.

The state of politics in the US and the world is just exceptionally bad right now. Folks on MeFi want to talk about it. I think it's worth letting them. I also think it creates problems for the site and I don't enjoy moderating it at all. It also doesn't work unmoderated. These are contradictions existing in tension, for which there is no simple solution, driven almost entirely by the externalities of the state of the world. So it just kinda sucks! It's a lousy situation! And it leaves us tired and frazzled and sometimes we're gonna whiff a mod note.

I emphasize that I think that isn't really a big deal not to say "don't speak up when you disagree about a mod call", because per this thread and the existence of MetaTalk in general I think it's actually useful and important to the functionality of MetaFilter that folks can say "hey, I disagree about this site/moderation/community/etc thing" and talk it out. That's the system, it works pretty okay.

I emphasize that I think that isn't really a big deal because not making too big of a deal out of shit helps keep things workable and less frustrating during a trying and stressful time. "Is this a new policy?" "Nope." "Okay!" is a pretty solid and sufficient resolution to a concern about a biffed mod suggestion. I am prone to get annoyed when that somehow doesn't suffice because I would much rather we spend our energy on constructive site stuff and doing new good for/with each other than belaboring a concern that's already been addressed explicitly. That's part of us trying to make good use of our limited energy for all the shit going on.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:13 PM on February 23 [12 favorites]


I emphasize that I think that isn't really a big deal not to say "don't speak up when you disagree about a mod call", because per this thread and the existence of MetaTalk in general I think it's actually useful and important to the functionality of MetaFilter that folks can say "hey, I disagree about this site/moderation/community/etc thing" and talk it out. That's the system, it works pretty okay.

You jumped down my throat. Someone responded to your comment by saying you were being grouchy. Another suggested that you might need a break. The message I take from that exchange is not that the site owner thinks we can "talk things out" but rather "don't speak up."

Thanks. It's helpful to know for the future.
posted by zarq at 2:07 PM on February 23 [5 favorites]


I personally enjoy the politics threads as a reader (obviously quite a bit more than cortex does!), but they're still an absolute shit-show to moderate and it's a really different dynamic when you HAVE to read every single comment vs. being able to drop out when it gets excruciatingly dull. And keep in mind we're also reading all the shit that's so terrible, or so off-topic, or so repetitive, etc., that it gets deleted. And keep in mind we're also fielding lots of e-mails about the politics threads, most of them totally fine, but some of them that are like SILENCED ALL MY LIFE FOR BREAKING EXPLICIT RULES THAT HAVE BEEN IN PLACE SINCE THE METAFOUNDING and some of them are like "But the black helicopters told me I had to post the truth about pizzagate, why did you delete it, are you afraid of THE TRUTH?" (And that second sort of poster sends us six messages in four minutes about how we are trying to hide THE TRUTH, typically with a lot of personal abuse.)

I'm glad the politics threads are there and I generally enjoy reading them, probably the most of anyone on the mod team because I'm something of a politics nerd, but moderating them is an entirely different story.
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 6:42 PM on February 23 [9 favorites]


Realistically, there is no solution to this kind of systemic issue of site dynamics that can be solved by hiring a mod. Hiring an entire extra mod staff, maybe; making the whole thing not any of our problems would at least in a basic structural sense address the problem. But it can't be one person's job to monitor anything on the site 24/7, and if you ask the current mod team who among us is happy that ongoing politics megathreads are part of the job I can safely say that nobody's hand will go up.

Point of order: Nobody suggested hiring an extra mod. The issue of none of the mod staff enjoying their jobs would certainly be solved by *replacing them* with mods who do.

BTW, cortex, could you move your comments in this thread to pastebin? I’m having trouble scrolling past them. (Just kidding.) Hoo, boy. The irony of two of your comments here being longer than the “too long” comment that precipitated this thread is just *chef kiss*. And such sweet icing:

I would much rather we spend our energy on constructive site stuff and doing new good for/with each other than belaboring a concern that's already been addressed explicitly. That's part of us trying to make good use of our limited energy for all the shit going on.

Dude. You could probably try a little harder at that.

it's a really different dynamic when you HAVE to read every single comment

Wow, really? If every single comment is getting flagged, of what use is the flagging system?
posted by Sys Rq at 6:52 PM on February 23 [3 favorites]


What the... I'm glad I missed this originally.

Everybody needs a hug.
posted by Justinian at 10:40 AM on February 24 [8 favorites]


The Pastebin suggestion seemed weird to me, but I did not take it to be any kind of official policy. It is now abundantly clear that it is not any kind of official policy. I was surprised by the continued strong reaction to the suggestion even after it became clear that it is not a policy.

The strong reactions make me suspect that another round of refinements to the US politics threads would perhaps be helpful. The hot takes and back-and-forth jokiness (which I have certainly engaged in) are sometimes fun but rarely super useful. There's less of that now, but it's still present. Here's what I find useful in the threads and would like to see preserved:
-- Links to solid reporting, with short summaries in the thread.

-- Links to stuff that is newsworthy but has not yet been well reported on. (Shouldn't have to say this, but obviously this excludes kooky conspiracy theory stuff.)

-- Concise analysis and background context. Shorter comments (maybe a couple paragraphs or less) are usually adequate, longer comments are useful when they answer a question explicitly raised by another comment or link.

-- Questions and requests for clarification. This does not include opened-ended stuff. "Why does Jared Kushner work in the White House?" is not a very productive question. "Can someone recap the security clearance process for someone like Jared Kushner?" is an example of a more useful question.

-- Personal stories and unique perspectives that are relevant to the conversation. (E.g., "During the Obama years I worked under an appointee whose successor is now in the news; here is how things were done when I worked there.")

-- Positive stuff. Bright spots to focus on and actionable suggestions. This is where I find the greatest value in longer and more free-form commenting. I think that focus on bright spots is especially important in dark times.
I suspect that the strong reactions to the Pastebin remark were because the US politics thread expectations are still a little unclear. My impression was that Chrysostom's comments were a good model for participation. I still believe that impression is correct (please correct me if not). But if good comments are also getting flagged frequently (which may not be the case; there's a difference between one flag and frequent flags) that also speaks to confusion about expectations.

Thanks to cortex and the mods for the disproportionate amount of work that goes into maintaining the relatively small number of (very long) US politics threads. The US politics threads are not intended to be a central focus of the site, but they seem to take a disproportionate amount of your time and energy. I hope you find a way to keep the required workload both reasonable and sustainable.
posted by compartment at 12:17 PM on February 24 [7 favorites]


I don't think it's a big deal, at all, that a mod had an ill-conceived idea in a note and, after a brief discussion, everyone agreed we're not doing that. It happens. But I want to highlight briefly this bit of cortex's comment:
MetaFilter isn't a site where an errant mod note once in a while will break things
Because no, nothing gets seriously broken sitewide, but I think it doesn't entirely acknowledge that people respond to criticism in really different ways. Some Mefites are not getting the point to the extent they're emailing Eyebrows over and over again about the black helicopters, while others see a single casual mod note and over-adjust their behavior. Just as some users are seemingly unable to understand that they are a problem despite numerous messages, others are going to react to criticism by thinking they are a problem when they aren't one, and we're less likely to hear what they have to say as a result.

If we didn't have this discussion here in meta, if compartment had read that mod note and was just naturally discouraged from posting further informative and well-researched comments like the one in question, that would have been a net loss for the site. That wouldn't break the site certainly, but it would have been discouraging.

It's inherent in the nature of the job that moderators will spend a disproportionate amount of their time dealing with the people who don't get it, so they're thinking mostly of those people more than those who will be scared off by a mod note. But it's also really easy for a mod note to chase away people who have a lot to contribute, particularly voices we don't hear as much from in the politics threads, and I hope we can be mindful of that.

I do, of course, greatly appreciate the work that goes into moderating these threads, and all of you.
posted by zachlipton at 5:57 PM on February 24 [7 favorites]


That's a good point, zachlipton.
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 6:09 PM on February 24 [1 favorite]


I remember one occasion (years ago) when a mod deleted a user comment for being too long and reposted it on pastebin. So interestingly there is in fact some sort of precedent for suggesting that lengthy comments go there.
posted by Busy Old Fool at 11:02 PM on February 24


Not every mod note is hewn perfection, especially in those endless, tiring slogs of catch-all threads.

No, they certainly are not. So maybe it would be a good idea to admit that a moderator made a mistake and fix it by going back into the thread and editing the mod note so it doesn't read like new policy.
posted by Soi-hah at 12:58 AM on February 25 [4 favorites]


hey!
posted by b1tr0t at 1:11 PM on February 25 [2 favorites]


I was surprised by the continued strong reaction

Upon further reflection, I also think that maybe the issue is just that people react strongly to everything.
posted by compartment at 7:39 AM on February 26 [2 favorites]


> Dude. You could probably try a little harder at that.

...speaking of irony. You could try harder to not be a jerk about this.
posted by desuetude at 12:14 PM on February 26 [7 favorites]


Wow, this whole thing is a surprisingly angry discussion about a minor issue.
posted by Dumsnill at 4:28 AM on February 27 [3 favorites]


I personally enjoy the politics threads as a reader (obviously quite a bit more than cortex does!), but they're still an absolute shit-show to moderate and it's a really different dynamic when you HAVE to read every single comment vs. being able to drop out when it gets excruciatingly dull. And keep in mind we're also reading all the shit that's so terrible, or so off-topic, or so repetitive, etc., that it gets deleted. And keep in mind we're also fielding lots of e-mails about the politics threads, most of them totally fine, but some of them that are like SILENCED ALL MY LIFE FOR BREAKING EXPLICIT RULES THAT HAVE BEEN IN PLACE SINCE THE METAFOUNDING and some of them are like "But the black helicopters told me I had to post the truth about pizzagate, why did you delete it, are you afraid of THE TRUTH?" (And that second sort of poster sends us six messages in four minutes about how we are trying to hide THE TRUTH, typically with a lot of personal abuse.)

Then end the political threads.

If they're too much for the mod team to deal with, then end them. It certainly sounds like they're a fucking nightmare to moderate. The mod team has spoken up about the stress and difficulties involved in moderating those threads repeatedly for the last two years. Changes have been requested of the userbase that clearly have not helped move the situation to anything approaching manageable levels.

Metafilter's owner is now snapping at the site's users. I presume that's a result of everything you're describing here. This is not good for the health of the site. And the stress is not healthy for any of you.

This site resisted dipping too deeply into newsfilter for years. For over a decade, Cortex was the mod in metatalk who was most vocally against newsfilter threads on the Blue. You are now running a non-stop newsfilter shitshow thread that no one on the mod team seems happy about, that keeps spawning ugly arguments and conflicts, and that sounds very much like it's making your lives hell behind the scenes.

Why allow that to continue?
posted by zarq at 7:33 AM on February 27 [5 favorites]


Frequent flier miles, presumably
posted by beerperson at 7:58 AM on February 27


Because we're trying to accommodate what people in the community want, to the greatest extent we can. So, like we said back in December, we're trying to take a middle course on the US politics threads of allowing them but trying to keep them more focused so both the volume and the affective load are more manageable.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 8:27 AM on February 27


Why allow that to continue?

Because between love and madness lies ... Obsession.
posted by octobersurprise at 8:58 AM on February 27 [1 favorite]


Because we're trying to accommodate what people in the community want, to the greatest extent we can. So, like we said back in December, we're trying to take a middle course on the US politics threads of allowing them but trying to keep them more focused so both the volume and the affective load are more manageable.

Yes, but at what cost?

Every single time one of you talks about what you're dealing with that we don't see, I cringe. I can't be the only one. There has to be a better way to deal with this stuff for you all. For the most part, the politics threads are less intense and frequent at the moment. But the last year plus has pretty much proven that won't always be the case. Big news will break and the threads will flood with comments again. The site is not designed for that, abstractly speaking.

I appreciate you all making the effort on our behalf. I sincerely do. Those threads are a pocket of sanity and knowledge and inspiration in an insane world for me and I suspect for quite a few other people. But they're not worth collective abuse of the mod team from large numbers of site users.

Is it manageable? It does not feel sustainable. It appears to be taking a toll on the mod team. I do not mean to sound hyperbolic or doom and gloomy, but it feels as if they're breaking the site. Participation in non-political threads still feels lower than it did. The threads themselves are causing strife. The mod team seems constantly on the defensive, rather than reacting to gentle criticism the way we're used to. You've had to adjust your moderation practices a bit:

Eyebrows said this, above:
...it's a really different dynamic when you HAVE to read every single comment vs. being able to drop out when it gets excruciatingly dull.

Is Team Mod now reading every comment(!) in the politics threads rather than relying on the flagging system? If so, that's not at all ideal. Nothing about this is ideal, of course. But that strikes me as very, very bad. Every thread literally accumulates thousands of comments. How is one mod on duty supposed to do that as well as monitor 8 subsites and a chatroom while also answering memails and contact form emails, and still dealing with various internecine crises?

--

I've been trying quite hard to change the way I participate in the politics threads (to varying degrees of success) for over a year. I haven't made any posts related to Trump or Clinton in at least a year and a half (I'd have to check my own history to confirm this, but I believe it's true.) Have also tried very hard to let go of my comment deletions and not kick up a fuss and also to learn from them. (Also to varying degrees of success.) I know other mefites who have made similar attempts to modify their behavior. Maybe I just don't have a full perspective, but it doesn't feel like it's helping the overall dynamic.

It's noble of y'all to try to accommodate the userbase. But given what Eyebrows is describing, it doesn't seem like that impulse is giving a healthy result for the team.
posted by zarq at 9:19 AM on February 27 [3 favorites]


Metafilter's owner is now snapping at the site's users.

Or not.

On my read, interpreting cortex's measured and reasonable comments as even vaguely resembling a personal attack or downward throat jump is completely unwarranted, and I'm sure I'm not alone in this.
posted by flabdablet at 9:37 AM on February 27 [10 favorites]


On my read, interpreting cortex's comments as even vaguely resembling a personal attack or downward throat jump is completely unwarranted, and I'm sure I'm not alone in this.

I disagree, obviously. But even if you're right, that doesn't change the fact that the politics threads sound quite unhealthy for the mod team, by their own descriptions. Which is not worth keeping the threads' presence on the site.
posted by zarq at 9:42 AM on February 27 [2 favorites]


Eh. I stopped contributing to the politics threads when my comment-to-deletion ratio started approaching 1:1, but I expect the mod squad knows what they want and what they can and can't bear. If they want to run a politics thread they will; if they don't they won't. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Unless cortex really does have them press-ganged in the basement in which case stop it cortex.
posted by octobersurprise at 9:58 AM on February 27 [1 favorite]


On my read, interpreting cortex's measured and reasonable comments as even vaguely resembling a personal attack or downward throat jump is completely unwarranted, and I'm sure I'm not alone in this.
posted by flabdablet at 3:37 AM on February 28


I also didn't get anything angry or attack like from cortex's comments. I'm not seeing any hints of grumpiness or unwarranted emotion. I'm wondering if I'm missing some sort of background or history?
posted by daybeforetheday at 11:11 AM on February 27


> On my read, interpreting cortex's measured and reasonable comments as even vaguely resembling a personal attack or downward throat jump is completely unwarranted, and I'm sure I'm not alone in this.

You are not, and I find the continuing attacks on him pretty weird.
posted by languagehat at 1:17 PM on February 27 [4 favorites]


Some people don't perceive anger or irritability in cortex's comments; some people do. I've noticed a curtness that comes across as crankiness in some of cortex's comments lately, including the one that zarq indicated.

The mods have said that moderating the political threads is tiring, draining, and emotionally taxing, and given that various mods have acknowledged that there have been mod comments whose phrasing not great, I'm not sure how valuable it is to spend time in "yes he was cranky" "no he wasn't cranky" discussion. Especially since none of us actually knows how cortex feels except cortex, so it'd be a level removed at "it did sound cranky" "it didn't sound cranky".

Spending time discussing that doesn't seem as useful as it would be to spend the time discussing how to reduce the load on the mods, whether it's necessary or possible to improve the back channels of mod communication so the on-duty mod doesn't wind up inadvertently sounding like they're making policy when they don't intend to, and similar issues.
posted by Lexica at 2:26 PM on February 27 [1 favorite]


I also didn't get anything angry or attack like from cortex's comments. I'm not seeing any hints of grumpiness or unwarranted emotion. I'm wondering if I'm missing some sort of background or history?
___
Especially since none of us actually knows how cortex feels except cortex, so it'd be a level removed at "it did sound cranky" "it didn't sound cranky".


I would suggest the only way to be sure is a full battery of tests.

@cortex
Sit down. Relax. Reaction time is a factor, so please pay attention.

You're walking alone in the desert and you come across a tortoise...
posted by Meatbomb at 7:22 PM on February 28 [1 favorite]


> If they're too much for the mod team to deal with, then end them. It certainly sounds like they're a fucking nightmare to moderate. The mod team has spoken up about the stress and difficulties involved in moderating those threads repeatedly for the last two years. Changes have been requested of the userbase that clearly have not helped move the situation to anything approaching manageable levels.

It's...their...job. (Not yours?) Some parts of a job are more frustrating than others, it doesn't mean you can or should just eliminate the annoying bits.

It seems like it's really upsetting you to hear more about how the sausage gets made on the mod side for political threads. If it makes you cringe all the time, why don't you just skip reading MeTa posts that are like this? Seriously. I don't read every MeTa post either.
posted by desuetude at 9:14 PM on February 28 [1 favorite]


I like this site. I like the mod team. I like cortex. And I really don't like hearing that they're being abused by users on a regular basis because of the politics threads. We've heard a lot of behind-the-scenes snippets regarding sexism and other nastiness that have been aimed at the mods over the years. It stinks.

That doesn't mean I think the mod team or the way the site is being run should be above criticism. We should absolutely be able to talk things out reasonably in meta or memail. But the situation as it stands seems to be leaving them open to things that no employee of a company should have to deal with. Especially not on a regular basis.

I don't think the politics threads have been a net benefit for metafilter as a site or for its employees. Which happens. We get terrible threads now and then. But this is something new. It's not a one-off thread/discussion/incident that spawns an angry meta they can deal with and move on. It's an open-ended source of high-tension problems.

None of this is news to anyone here. We should be able to talk about these things and not shy away from them. That's what this area of the site is for. So we can talk things out, ask questions, raise concerns and get feedback, learn and make adjustments.
posted by zarq at 5:54 AM on March 1 [1 favorite]


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