Question about lack of a post on Gaza. April 6, 2018 8:30 AM   Subscribe

Do we not have a post about what's happening in Gaza because of the whole "Metafilter doesn't handle Israel/Palestine well", or because no one has made a post yet?

If it's the latter, I wonder if it's because of the former. Are the mods willing to approve periodic I/P posts, but no one bothers to make them because the expectation is that we aren't supposed to?
posted by andoatnp to MetaFilter-Related at 8:30 AM (28 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

I can say definitively that we haven't deleted anything on the topic lately and continue to not have a general prohibition on it; the rest just comes down to competing speculations I figure. If someone makes a post and the post doesn't suck, the post will stay around; in that case, hopefully the resulting thread won't suck.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:35 AM on April 6, 2018 [4 favorites]


I had to Google this just now because American news is now 100 percent "What did Trump eat this morning? What side is his unhair parted?" and will presumably continue that way even while the tsunami from the Abyss aliens gathers over our major cities.

So I thank you for bringing it to my attention.
posted by selfnoise at 8:59 AM on April 6, 2018 [18 favorites]


It's a big deal already, and it's going to continue for another four weeks.

Anyway. I think someone should make a post.
posted by andoatnp at 12:51 PM on April 6, 2018


Then make a post.
posted by LionIndex at 1:20 PM on April 6, 2018 [21 favorites]


I follow the American Friends Service Committee in various social media and they seem to be sharing good information about the situation.
posted by crush at 1:40 PM on April 6, 2018 [2 favorites]


Remembering the fact that yes, Metafilter doesn't handle Israel/Palestine well.
posted by Melismata at 2:43 PM on April 6, 2018 [4 favorites]


Anyway. I think someone should make a post.

This is disingenuous. This MeTa is a post-by-proxy. It would be a good idea if you also explained why you are not making that post.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 4:58 PM on April 6, 2018 [28 favorites]


Then make a post.

I'm not allowed to make posts about Israel because the mods told me a couple of years ago they think I might be anti-Jewish and anti-Israel, and I have a topic ban on the blue about those subjects.

Sorry for the late response, I was at a Palestinian led protest this afternoon, and then led my own protest at a NYC congregation. And now I have an op-ed to write about what is happening in Gaza.

In the circles I run in, what's happening in Gaza is a big deal, and we're talking about it every day. If it's not on other people's radar, and no one wants to make a post, that's fine.
posted by andoatnp at 8:18 PM on April 6, 2018 [9 favorites]


I remembered Restless_Nomad telling you not to make posts about "those subjects", andoatnp, and I was pretty sure she'd used your nick in saying so, but when I searched her activity for your name around 6:00 PM PDT, nothing came up -- because the post was deleted, possibly?
posted by jamjam at 11:45 PM on April 6, 2018 [1 favorite]


It's on my radar; I've read a bunch of stories about what's going on that side of the world. I'd love to see a well-constructed post that gave me informative points of view that didn't seem obviously biased.

But yeah, Metafilter certainly doesn't 'handle it well'. Specifically many of the conversations seem to be dominated by a few commentators that feel passionate (from various perspectives) about the subject. Like every other news story out there, it's pointless to discuss what's going on without discussing the context and history of a subject. But on that subject everyone (seemingly) has very different perspectives on the history; indeed folks often have different facts (and I say that not as an accusation, as I think folks have good will when trying to discuss the subject).

I read comment threads on the subject after each news article I read (for a short period of time). And I can honestly say that the metafilter discussions are the most reasonable I've ever encountered in a public forum. But we still don't do those discussions well.

Potential posters have seen previous metafilter threads, and are certainly aware that the mods (rightfully) have very high standards for such posts... But more than that anticipate that the conversation won't be a productive one.
posted by el io at 12:22 AM on April 7, 2018 [1 favorite]


> Potential posters have seen previous metafilter threads, and are certainly aware that the mods (rightfully) have very high standards for such posts... But more than that anticipate that the conversation won't be a productive one.

Yes, and just to spell it out: a post that is essentially "Look at this horrible thing Israel is doing, isn't it horrible?" will be deleted, and rightfully so. But that's exactly what most people who regret the absence of a post (including, I presume, andoatnp) want to post. This is the problem.
posted by languagehat at 5:57 AM on April 7, 2018 [17 favorites]


Just spitballing here. Would it be a worthwhile experiment to gather stakeholders of the main points of view plus mods & attempt a collaboration on creating a post that reflects multiple perspectives? So nobody can say it's biased towards the other side(s) because they're all represented.
posted by scalefree at 11:26 AM on April 7, 2018


@scalefree As long as that happens in a closed room far away from me (and with no weapons), i support it. Don't think it'll go as smoothly as you seem to think, though.
posted by softlord at 11:50 AM on April 7, 2018 [2 favorites]


(unless that is a joke about how I/P stuff is treated politically)
posted by softlord at 11:50 AM on April 7, 2018


In the circles I run in, what's happening in Gaza is a big deal, and we're talking about it every day. If it's not on other people's radar, and no one wants to make a post, that's fine.

It's absolutely on my radar and likewise a big deal, but I certainly don't want to make a MeFi post about it because (a) I am not there on the ground in Gaza and (b) I can't see how prompting yet another unproductive Team Israel vs Team Palestine shouting match on this site would actually help anybody who is.

And it absolutely would devolve into such a shouting match. I think that's well understood.
posted by flabdablet at 11:56 AM on April 7, 2018 [2 favorites]


Don't think it'll go as smoothly as you seem to think, though.

It's an experiment. You go into those not knowing what the end result will be.
posted by scalefree at 11:56 AM on April 7, 2018


I think there's a pretty reasonable question of "to what purpose" that would need answering up front before it makes sense to really invest in that experiment, is my thing. Because you can go into something with a spirit of experimentation, but you also go in with a reasonable sense of the site history and the conversational stakes and the likelier outcomes, and for me, I personally can't imagine wanting to put the mental and emotional and organizational effort into something like that proposal without a much clearer and justifiable goal than "so we can have a MetaFilter post about it".

And that's in no small part because almost everything that goes wrong with discussions of charged topics on the site goes wrong rather suddenly and organically in the comments after whatever care in post framing has already been taken. Because you can in theory get a handful of stakeholders to agree about a thing, but you can't in turn get Literally Everyone With A MeFi Account to agree about it too. I think it goes beyond mere experiment to in practice proposing a fundamentally different way of mediating and moderating an entire thread to propose that the likely problems with the topic could be ironed out up front, basically.

Because you can't just frame a post well, clap the dust off your hands, and call it a day. For the mod team that's minute zero of a constant process of watchfulness for the next few days or even weeks and, at best, managing to react quickly and in all parties' eyes equitably every single time some of the thorny shit that will inevitably come up in the comments comes up.

Which brings me back to my initial answer, which basically comes down to I'm not saying we can't have a post but my optimism reaches only as far as a dim hope that the ensuing comments wouldn't suck. Which goes too for a lot of other charged topics on the site, and is why as much as we don't prohibit difficult topics you're never gonna find anyone who works here getting excited about the opportunity to moderate a thread like that. Good outcomes are possible but so are pretty bad ones, and there's not much predictive we can throw at it besides nixing terrible framing up front, and even the good outcomes require an outsized amount of attention and emotional effort.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:21 PM on April 7, 2018 [2 favorites]


If experiments are to be run, the one I'd favour is for the MeFi codebase to gain a facility where a mod could mark any post with a particular combination of tags as potentially contentious; commenting on such a post would then become open only to members who have not already commented in any previous post sharing that same subset of tags.

That way, the entrenched majority would be allowed to say their say once, but would then be forced to shut the hell up and listen to what those who come to these issues with fresh eyes have to say.

Might need to up the bandwidth of MeMail to make this feasible, though I'm sure the sudden spike in $5 sock puppet signups would pay for that.
posted by flabdablet at 12:26 PM on April 7, 2018 [1 favorite]


Just spitballing here. Would it be a worthwhile experiment to gather stakeholders of the main points of view plus mods & attempt a collaboration on creating a post that reflects multiple perspectives? So nobody can say it's biased towards the other side(s) because they're all represented.

Not that I'd remotely want to get involved in that, but for that to happen, the links themselves would inherently have to be biased one way or anything and would not, could not, portray an accurate picture when viewed as a whole. Bias plus opposite bias does not equal truth. You can't just slap together a bunch of pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli links and call it a day on a situation so complicated.
posted by Ruki at 12:29 PM on April 7, 2018 [9 favorites]


If consensus is against it then it's likely enough to end in failure that it's not worth trying. I trust the hive's decision.
posted by scalefree at 12:40 PM on April 7, 2018


Would it be a worthwhile experiment to gather stakeholders of the main points of view plus mods & attempt a collaboration on creating a post that reflects multiple perspectives? So nobody can say it's biased towards the other side(s) because they're all represented.

It's not something that would go quickly, and it not something that's appropriate to spend mods' time on (why this topic and not many other fraught ones?) for one FPP that is, arguably, on a topic that is not the central focus of the website's purpose. I get that some people care a great deal. However, like many difficult topics, caring a great deal doesn't always align well with "would make a good post about" because you'd also need to care a great deal about the site and the users in general, the site's ability to manage posts about difficult topics, and the fact that the framing of a post can determine how a thread goes (as cortex says, for days or even weeks).

The closer you are to a difficult topic, on average, the less likely you are to make a post that is dispassionate enough to allow people with varied levels of topic understanding to come to the thread in the spirit of discussing the topic of the thread, not their feelings on the topic. Some people at MeFi do this masterfully, many do not. I/P topics are one in which the escape velocity required to want to make a post about it often is negatively correlated with the likelihood that the post made will be one that encourages a good MeFi discussion.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 1:13 PM on April 7, 2018 [9 favorites]


Some people at MeFi do this masterfully,

Well, I wouldn't call myself a master, per se, but if you insist...
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:20 PM on April 7, 2018


Posted.
posted by DanSachs at 6:58 PM on April 10, 2018 [1 favorite]


Thank you to adamvasco for a good post, thank you to the mods for deleting my pissy, derailing comment about the post title, and thank you to adamvasco and the mods for reworking the title of the post.

As someone who actually would like to see more discussion of I/P issues, and does actually understand that those who feel especially passionate about such discussions might feel frustrated with how they have gone in the past -- let me just suggest that framings that take the form of "Well I care about murdered children and I'm not sure why you don't" might not be the most effective way of inspriring open discussion.
posted by neroli at 8:08 PM on April 10, 2018 [3 favorites]


It's nice that the current thread is going better than most, but grim that it's because we're commiserating around the seeming impossibility of progress and don't have much else to say.
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:22 AM on April 12, 2018


My feelings echo yours, snuffleupagus. That thread *does* seem better than any I've seen previously. And yet I don't really see why people feel compelled to chime in. There is so much effort put into convincing others to come around to a certain perspective, to have the last word on a question. Metafilter isn't the UN Security Council. Telling another user with a funny screen name what's what isn't going to shift the winds. Much like the conflict itself, I always see the same people in these threads having the same debates. The FPP will soon shuffle off the front page. The comments will slow in a week. And the post will shut down in a month. And then we pick up where we left off when tragedy next strikes the region?

What would it even mean to handle the topic well? To what end would it handle it? The links and framing are almost a formality; i.e. here are things you may draw on for the ensuing debate.

I tend to believe the topics we "don't do well" are those where many people feel like they have existing insight they can apply. And those that end up the best are those where it's a discovery for everyone.
posted by cichlid ceilidh at 2:08 PM on April 13, 2018


Metafilter isn't the UN Security Council. Telling another user with a funny screen name what's what isn't going to shift the winds...I tend to believe the topics we "don't do well" are those where many people feel like they have existing insight they can apply.

True enough. I am guilty of a little personal overloading of MeFi's I/P threads. I guess what I hope for here is reassurance that a real good faith exchange is possible even with a lot of vitriol and predictable derails....to the extent we get one, I feel a little better. To the extent that we don't (or that my sense of creeping antisemitism is aggravated) I feel a little worse.

those that end up the best are those where it's a discovery for everyone.

Threads like that are definitely magical and memorable.
posted by snuffleupagus at 4:12 PM on April 13, 2018


slow-burn headbutting between a handful of people

Each round will last for up to twenty brain-numbing smashes, until eventually one backs down and is banished from the competition. There's no mating for losers.

But even that head-crunching display doesn't impress these females.
posted by flabdablet at 12:37 PM on April 15, 2018


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