Muting Certain Commenters July 1, 2018 8:22 AM   Subscribe

I find I'm reluctant to post any sort of "human relations" question because there's always going to be people who invidiously misrepresent or distort the question or otherwise show gratuitous ill-will. And even just coming here occasionally, I've noticed it consistently tends to be the same people. I understand that MetaTalk serves to give everyone a voice, and that's fine, but is there a way, or could a feature be added, where I personally "mute" selected commentators? Others can read their comments if they find them constructive and I could filter out what I perceive as malignant.
posted by Jon44 to Feature Requests at 8:22 AM (189 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

Heya, we don't have a muting function (also often known in traditional net jargon as a "killfile") built in to the site, no. Historically we've discouraged the idea as an official thing—which is why there's no formal feature for it—but have allowed for the fact that folks make variations on it available for personal use with third-party user scripts or browser extensions and haven't tried to get in the way of that.

There's some brief discussion about MeFi-specific scripts for that sort of thing in a recent MetaTalk discussion starting here, though if folks want to round up or reiterate the details of what's available, what's known to work where, etc, in this thread that'd be fine.

I don't have plans to revisit the idea of a built-in feature right now, though in the spirit of a lot of stuff being in flux and getting a second look I will be at least thinking about some of the historical assumptions behind the no-killfiles position to see if there's things we can tweak or support to better help folks deal with some of these issues.

One thing that's helpful for us on the mod side with recurring user behavior issues is actually hearing specifics about them at the contact form; it's totally okay to take that "ugh, user x / behavior y is ruining my experience of the site AGAIN" energy and actually toss us a note about it, and helps us better understand what specific site issues are getting at people.

There's a paradox there where I think people get understandably frustrated with something, assume that the reason its happening is that the mods won't do anything about it, and then...don't tell the mods about it, which is what we need most to be aware of and do something about it! Which is nobody's fault, it's just one of those odd emergent traps in community management. So please do let us know if something is up.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:32 AM on July 1, 2018 [25 favorites]


And to just note directly a couple things from that other thread:

1. Here is a list on the wiki of MeFi-related scripts. Includes among many other things some muting/killfile scripts.

2. Nancy, a killfile for Chrome.

3. diediedead, a killfile for Firefox.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:35 AM on July 1, 2018 [3 favorites]


I read this, then went over to Ask, which I kind of avoid a lot now for this kind of reason. If there was a "mute" function, I was thinking, I know exactly who'd be right at the top of it. And the first question I happened to open had a reply from this person in the middle of it all. And you know what? It was really kind. So I think I'm saying I hear you, but if you mute someone you mute it all, good and bad, and maybe then you might miss out on something that is actually useful to you. So yeah, I think in the past I've done an internal eye roll thinking "there's that thing they do", whereas now I might be more inclined to contact the mods saying "they're doing that thing" and let them sort it out or not. In the meantime I'll just stick to some mental muting instead. Sorry you've had a hard time though.
posted by billiebee at 9:46 AM on July 1, 2018 [44 favorites]


So yeah, I think in the past I've done an internal eye roll thinking "there's that thing they do", whereas now I might be more inclined to contact the mods saying "they're doing that thing" and let them sort it out or not.

This is literally what the mods are for, to correct people who are doing it wrong & if they still won't do it right, take corrective action for them. I've become a big believer in soft power over technological solutions in large part to watching the mods in action. Let them do their jobs; if things still don't improve then it's time to revisit the issue.
posted by scalefree at 9:59 AM on July 1, 2018 [3 favorites]


Honestly, that’s the sort of thing I’ve always assumed the mods were too busy for. Like, who wants to hear me complain that so and so is being argumentative and self-righteous again? But if this is literally part of your jobs, I will do my part and complain loudly and often.

Haha no, kidding, but I’ll try to keep in mind that I can bring it to your attention. This seems like something that might also get more attention if the flags with notes get implemented site-wide. Sending an email feels like a bigger thing than dropping a note that says “they need to chill the fuck out.”
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 10:22 AM on July 1, 2018 [12 favorites]


Oh great - and I just installed a kill-file to mute out the WORST commentator on MeFi; thanks everyone! Just gonna check now if it works!!!
posted by the quidnunc kid at 10:30 AM on July 1, 2018 [15 favorites]


 
posted by the quidnunc kid at 10:30 AM on July 1, 2018 [166 favorites]


Good point shapes that haunt the dusk, and I'm glad I got right in after your comment to tell you so.
posted by billiebee at 10:34 AM on July 1, 2018 [21 favorites]


Mute #1 quidnunc kid!
posted by ActingTheGoat at 10:59 AM on July 1, 2018 [24 favorites]


Mute #1 quidnunc kid!

but now he sounds like charlie brown's teacher
posted by MonkeyToes at 11:38 AM on July 1, 2018 [12 favorites]


diediedead also works in chrome with tampermonkey and it is very easy to add/remove people. in the past i used it for awful terrible people, but fortunately for everyone here they have all been banned or left on their own; i now use it like mute on twitter, to just avoid stuff on a daily or thread by thread basis, because sometimes FIAMO is very frustrating and in-thread discussions are a waste of everyone's time.
posted by poffin boffin at 11:50 AM on July 1, 2018 [1 favorite]


I like this feature on other sites, but feel it doesn’t belong on metafilter. It would just become another way for people to silo their worldviews, and metafilter’s moderation is the (better) alternative to the blocking that other sites do. Blocking ends up stifling discussions and making threads weird when you can’t see some of the discussion.

With that being said, I can see a few ways of implementing it that wouldn’t be so terrible.
1) you have a limited number of people you can mute. Not sure how many would make sense, but a handful at most.

2) mods have to put the mute in place, thus making the bar to mute someone higher than a simple click.

3) muting is time limited, making it more of a timeout from someone than erasing their presence.

Just spitballing. Could be used individually or in combination.

But mostly, I’m against the idea and think it would change metafilter in the wrong way.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 1:09 PM on July 1, 2018 [2 favorites]


I just want to say on a semi-related note that I have noticed lately that the mods have been doing a great job lately of paying attention to flags in AskMe on comments that are aggressively not answering the question, and I really appreciate it. I feel like focusing on flagging and removing comments that break the guidelines is a better approach than muting people because it improves the AskMe experience for everyone and makes the site more approachable for new folks who just came in off google. It will make them actually want to come back and get their own questions answered.
posted by bleep at 1:12 PM on July 1, 2018 [14 favorites]


I would like this feature. I've never been able to get diediedead to work for me for whatever reason.
posted by Stonkle at 1:32 PM on July 1, 2018 [2 favorites]


I would also like this, because while I use diediedead and Nancy (one for home, one for the work laptop) I'd love it if I could manage that as part of my metafilter profile, and have it be tied to account rather than tied to browser. Interestingly, I don't use it for people I disagree with, just a handful of performative commenters.
posted by kimberussell at 2:02 PM on July 1, 2018 [3 favorites]


I agree bleep, I've noticed and appreciated it too. Thanks team!
posted by smoke at 2:07 PM on July 1, 2018


SILENCED ALL MY LIFE
posted by pipeski at 2:25 PM on July 1, 2018 [21 favorites]


Good point shapes that haunt the dusk, and I'm glad I got right in after your comment to tell you so.

I feel like I'm missing something here, but thanks?
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 2:34 PM on July 1, 2018 [3 favorites]


shapes that haunt the dusk, pretend billiebee has the quidnunc kid on mute, and reread the sequence of comments.
posted by lazuli at 2:39 PM on July 1, 2018 [5 favorites]


quidnunc kid left a comment in this thread?

Ha ha ha, OK thanks, I get it now.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 2:41 PM on July 1, 2018 [17 favorites]


Oh, wait, did I step on your joke? I get confused after multi layers of meta; my desire to make sure people don't feel left out overrides any sense of comic timing.
posted by lazuli at 2:43 PM on July 1, 2018 [16 favorites]


IT'S LIKE WALKING ON GAG-SHELLS AROUND HERE
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:03 PM on July 1, 2018 [44 favorites]


The more I think about this the more I really feel like if everyone has bad actors on mute the more will Ask Me become a toxic free for all because no one will be flagging anything. Flags are the thing that keeps MeFi healthy and muting will result in less of them.
posted by bleep at 3:05 PM on July 1, 2018 [33 favorites]


Mute #1 quidnunc kid!

I voted #none ———— —-!
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:08 PM on July 1, 2018 [1 favorite]


Maybe we could bake it into the flag system. Like have another option “I’m
Flagging this person and putting them on mute” so mods can have some visibility into how much muting is going on and who is inspiring it.
posted by bleep at 3:09 PM on July 1, 2018 [4 favorites]


You can't flag people for "bitch eating crackers."
posted by Stonkle at 3:10 PM on July 1, 2018 [18 favorites]


Wait, do you mean you can’t or you shouldn’t?
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:23 PM on July 1, 2018 [3 favorites]


You can't flag people for "bitch eating crackers."

Sure you can! There's a freeform text flag now!
posted by Elly Vortex at 3:24 PM on July 1, 2018 [11 favorites]


Okay its in the testing phase. But soon!
posted by Elly Vortex at 3:25 PM on July 1, 2018 [1 favorite]


Flags are the thing that keeps MeFi healthy and muting will result in less of them.

i flag stuff and if nothing happens from that, for whatever reason, it's easier to just mute the person who made the comment for the rest of the day rather than 01) try to push back on that in-thread or 02) have a discussion with the mods about why i am unable to move on or 03) god forbid take it to meta and make it everyone's problem. i've seen enough in-thread mod notes directed at others to know that if a flag is seen and decided to not be an issue, then flagging further comments that person makes in that thread is going to become A Problem, so removing the issue entirely via muting someone seems, for me personally, like the most productive way to go forward.
posted by poffin boffin at 3:30 PM on July 1, 2018 [6 favorites]


I like bleep's idea that flagging would essentially be the entry point for a mute feature if one were to exist. You might have the signal that user X is getting muted a lot, but asking whoever's doing the muting to explain why might help moderators better address the issue while still allowing a user to curate their own experience if they need to.
posted by Aleyn at 3:44 PM on July 1, 2018


I think that in that case poffin boffin maybe muting on the green is different than muting on the blue. On the green it’s a totally different expectation because you’re not supposed to even be engaging with people in threads. It’s about making sure the OP gets their question answered. If there are some people who you think always give bad advice or never really answer the question or consistently break the guidelines and everyone has that person on mute then no one is flagging their bad answers and AskMe becomes a more hostile and less valuable place. According to cortex in order to improve our long term viability that’s the opposite of what we want. Maybe on the blue the option to mute people within a thread or something wouldn’t have such a bad overall effect on the conversation I don’t know.
posted by bleep at 3:56 PM on July 1, 2018 [8 favorites]


I've long thought that a mute function would be the only answer to making Metafilter a better place to be, because there are some frequent commenters that work my last nerve and I have a hard time reading even innocuous comments of theirs objectively.

But then seeing the discussion here I realize that a mute function might become super obvious and awkward as people repeat points that have just been made and/or have clearly been missing something, and then I'm imagining even more beanplating and drama and accusatory MetaTalks about the ethics of muting.

So... yeah? Maybe an increased use of flagging would be good. At the very least it might be able to help the mods sort out "this poster tends to be really microagressive on Topic X and we'll tell them to cool it" vs "you two need to just make like grade school and not interact because you're being petty."
posted by TwoStride at 4:03 PM on July 1, 2018 [4 favorites]


I can't envision a MetaFilter where there is enough consensus that everyone manages to mute the same person. We can't even agree on how favorites should be used or titles being on/off.
posted by kimberussell at 4:06 PM on July 1, 2018 [7 favorites]


In lieu of commenter muting, could we get mooting instead? Especially for raging arguments where there's no dang point.
posted by Celsius1414 at 4:08 PM on July 1, 2018 [6 favorites]


I can't believe no one has commented in this thread yet.
posted by biogeo at 4:12 PM on July 1, 2018 [66 favorites]


Yeah, so to talk a little about the philosophy behind the lack of a mute/killfile function built into MeFi: it's very difficult to get people to work around the fragmentation of a conversation when they don't even know whether and how the fragmentation happens, and we also don't get feedback on bad behavior when the folks bothered by it put it out of sight.

The reason I don't push hard against third-party killfilling is all the complicated little "yeah, but..." issues that come into play. Which mostly comes down to the idea that though in my ideal world people will always shrug or eyeroll and move on, in the real world even people with good intentions and reasonable self-control will still have their worst moment or that one person who just gets right up their shirt no matter what. And if you just can't find a better way to deal with that person that drives you to bad reactions, okay, I'd rather you find a way to hack around it than keep having bad reactions on the site. In which case, killfile away. But it should be a matter of resorting to a blunter tool because the other stuff isn't working for you.

In that kind of scenario, killfiling/muting is a bit of work and relatively rare and the fragmentation it introduces is pretty contained. It's not ideal but then neither is being driven totally nuts by That Dang Person, so it's a matter of users making individual, considered compromises in how they interact with the site.

Normalizing muting would be a different sort of thing and not one I'm really at all excited about pursuing. I don't want the site functionality to normalize what should be an edge-case, last-resort sort of thing.

So: if someone's driving you crazy for reasons you're sure are just weird personal stuff which doesn't seem actionable, track down a killfile script and plonk away, and just keep in mind that you are using a killfile and if something complicated or confusing happens in a thread as result be aware and responsible.

But if someone's doing something that is actually bad behavior on the site, or a recurring problem, or seems to—even if well-intentioned and low-stakes as a one-off—add up over time to a site friction or hostility or etc. thing, then flag as appropriate or drop us a line. It's possible that it's something the mod team isn't aware of, or not to the extent that it's been recurring, and it helps us to know. It's also totally possible it'll be something that's kind of a non-problem as far as we can tell and then it's back to either rolling your eyes or reaching for some kind of killfile solution in the end, but I usually only advise someone in that direction once or maybe twice a year.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:17 PM on July 1, 2018 [16 favorites]


I find I'm reluctant to post any sort of "human relations" question because there's always going to be people who invidiously carelessly misrepresent or distort the question or otherwise show gratuitous unintentional ill-will.

I didn't actually read this first motivation, and yeah, if it's actually making you reluctant to post your human relations questions here, then what needs to happen is that somehow those people need to realise that they're using other people's problems as jumping off points to write about and think through their own priorities for what needs fixing.

Personally, I think it's great that people write big replies about issues that affect them. It's when they click Post and share it with the asker who's made themselves vulnerable that is where the problem occurs.

If you find yourself answering a human relations question with too much zeal, there's no shame in saying to yourself “no, I wrote that for me, not the asker”, and being the mute that the asker wants in the world.

In my opinion, anyway. That came out a little didactic.
posted by ambrosen at 4:26 PM on July 1, 2018 [10 favorites]


Aside from people who just happen to irritate you somehow, like, sometimes discussions can get triggering of certain issues for certain people even when everybody is behaving very much in line with the general ideals of the site? There are definitely different kinds of muting people. Sometimes someone can be saying things that I even think are fairly important for them to say but that are triggering for me, and like some topics I can avoid by just not clicking on certain Ask questions, but that's not always the case. But this is why I think the web is great, because end users can work out their own solutions for these things, ideally in ways that work for their particular needs.

Like, I went and poked at Nancy and realized that oh, actually, I'd really prefer to be able to do this but to still be able to see that a comment/post existed but just not automatically show the text, but then realized that I probably know enough to make something to do that myself, and okay, learning JavaScript isn't a great option for everybody, but you know... it's available and I'm glad it is.
posted by Sequence at 4:42 PM on July 1, 2018 [2 favorites]


But if someone's doing something that is actually bad behavior on the site, or a recurring problem, or seems to—even if well-intentioned and low-stakes as a one-off—add up over time to a site friction or hostility or etc. thing, then flag as appropriate or drop us a line. It's possible that it's something the mod team isn't aware of, or not to the extent that it's been recurring, and it helps us to know.

Just my 2 cents, but this kind of situation is (IMO) pretty much where the freeform flag option will be very useful. Y'all have always been quick and responsive to the contact form, but a lot of times I'm not in a place to check my email for responses or requests for clarification. So if I see That Person Doing That Thing Again I can either flag as "other" and hope you can figure out my reason for flagging, or I can shoot you something longer via the contact form, but either way I'm not available for any possible followup. Which leads sometimes to a reluctance to do either. The ability to flag with a "That Person Is Doing That Thing Again Aaargh" note would give me some confidence in flagging borderline or minor-but-cumulative problem comments without feeling like I'm demanding that you read my mind.
posted by soundguy99 at 5:02 PM on July 1, 2018 [5 favorites]


Also, what's the word for the thing where you can see a punchline coming from a mile away but it still makes you laugh when it lands?

Well done, quidnunc. You've got my vote #1.
posted by soundguy99 at 5:07 PM on July 1, 2018 [8 favorites]


FIRST POST!!!

(oh wait, is my custom killfile/mute plugin acting up again?)
posted by sammyo at 5:18 PM on July 1, 2018 [4 favorites]


I hear what you're saying about why muting isn't something you'd want to normalize for the site, but from this user's perspective, I really wish it were a feature here.
posted by MoonOrb at 5:18 PM on July 1, 2018 [2 favorites]


I can't imagine an actual running conversation happening with some people totally failing to see certain comments. I'd rather flag the ones that irritate me and hope a mod just deals, in part because people who irritate me in one conversation often bring useful or thoughtful comments that surprise me pleasantly later and I'd hate to miss those--and in part because if a mod deals, the derail I can see a mile away or the minor pettiness I'm worrying about poisoning a discussion or whatever is not going to be responded to by the people I can see and the thread is more likely to burble along apace.

I would be very unhappy to see a mute function roll out as a normalized part of site activity versus the usual third-party extension sort of things.

Also:

I can't envision a MetaFilter where there is enough consensus that everyone manages to mute the same person. We can't even agree on how favorites should be used or titles being on/off.

this.
posted by sciatrix at 5:27 PM on July 1, 2018 [12 favorites]


I didn't know about those extensions and wrote my own that's basically a lite version. All it does is color the text of "muted" commenters a medium gray so they're easy to skip over (but still readable). Maybe a happy intermediate?

It's not public, but I could publish it if asked.
posted by waninggibbon at 6:03 PM on July 1, 2018 [17 favorites]


I can't envision a MetaFilter where there is enough consensus that everyone manages to mute the same person.

But if there is ... you get the MetaOstrakon.
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 7:16 PM on July 1, 2018 [2 favorites]


/Fry: I'm walkin' on gag shells, whoaaaaa oh ahhh ah...
posted by 1f2frfbf at 8:52 PM on July 1, 2018 [3 favorites]


I feel weird about this because I get that people's conversations are going to have highs and lows. I just kind of accept that in one circumstance that someone is going to warm and loving like gravy and in other instances, friction-filled lint ball of doom; it is just the nuanced nature of people. I always figured a consistently bad actor would be banhammered or have a talk with the mods. So, either a tool like wanninggibbon's so that conversation is not lost/ fragmented or general flagging notes.
posted by jadepearl at 9:06 PM on July 1, 2018 [6 favorites]


I agree that too much killfiling would leave odd holes and anomalies in some discussions and I also think the site is a over moderated (well how would I know, well I've seen stuff that vanished that seemed pretty darned innocuous) but I also deeply feel that the world in general needs to just chill rather a whole lot. It's just words folks, remember the "somebodies wrong on the internet" cartoon.
posted by sammyo at 9:40 PM on July 1, 2018 [2 favorites]


Ostrakon, huh? More like walkin' on potsherds.
posted by biogeo at 9:40 PM on July 1, 2018 [3 favorites]


course it's all just hypothetical until one of the mods weighs in.

surely one will be along any minute now.
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 10:20 PM on July 1, 2018 [9 favorites]


Have at it (Chrome/Firefox).

It only filters comments, not posts. There are example screenshots at the above links. Assumes you're not using the white background themes.
posted by waninggibbon at 10:29 PM on July 1, 2018 [2 favorites]


I can't imagine an actual running conversation happening with some people totally failing to see certain comments.

I can. It was a necessary tool on Usenet, the distributed forum system that spanned the early Internet. It worked a lot like Reddit with local mods for each newsgroup, except the entire alt.* hierarchy had none at all. In contentious groups you had to fend for yourself; to avoid being drawn down recurring rabbit holes with the Usual Suspects you were forced to put them in killfiles. And then there were trolls, lunatics & crusaders who would crosspost their screeds across a multitude of unrelated groups. And even in the moderated groups you could end up on the wrong side of an issue with a mod.

There are times I miss the glorious global free-for-all that was Usenet. But all in all I prefer the predictable, largely invisible wisdom of MeFi's mods.
posted by scalefree at 11:23 PM on July 1, 2018 [2 favorites]


Spam. Spam was born on Usenet with the infamous Green Card Lottery. That shit was everywhere.
posted by scalefree at 11:26 PM on July 1, 2018


When people irritate me on Metafilter, it's usually due to one of the following:

a) They've said something that's forced me to consider my privilege / position and my brain's first reaction to that 'ouch' is to blame the messenger
b) They have a political position / are a fan of a politician I don't like and I get grumpy instead of accepting differences
c) They really are a jerk. I'm glad the mods are happy for us to message them regarding commenters who have a pattern of hostility / bad behaviour. Often, I can't point to a single individual comment that's a problem, but when put with their entire posting history, it becomes clearer.

I'd worry about Metafilter becoming more of an echo chamber for people if we started muting away.
posted by daybeforetheday at 1:01 AM on July 2, 2018 [9 favorites]


I emailed the mods about a craptastic comment in an ask once and the reply was essentially "it happens, ignore it. " Which is fair I suppose, but it certainly left me with the impression that contacting mods with issues like that is a non-starter.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 1:56 AM on July 2, 2018 [2 favorites]


The problem with muting is that it doesn't fix the behavior. What keeps happening and keeps happening is that you get horrible, mansplaining comments right off the bat (and yes, they're often the same repeat offenders) and it leads the entire fucking thread astray, rendering it useless. Just muting select people wouldn't help with this, and could even make it worse, because you wouldn't even be able to see why the whole thing went so wrong.
posted by Violet Hour at 3:23 AM on July 2, 2018 [5 favorites]


Over the years I've contacted the mods quite a bit to vent my spleen. Sometimes the response is "that's a nice spleen, but you're gonna have to stop showing it in the thread, sorry" and often the response is "wow, yeah, not good, I'll look into it/delete it/keep an eye on it/etc." Just the other day I wrote in and was unclear about a thing re: site culture that was bugging me. Cortex answered quickly and was like, 'eh, I get a different read?' Then i realized what my actual problem was, and I wrote a much too long email about it. Then Cortex again responded and said he'd keep an eye on the specific issue. So now if I stumble on that again I can just write and be like, hey, that thing, this is what I'm referring to.

Which is all to say, even when we disagree the mods are open to discussing the particulars.
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 5:44 AM on July 2, 2018 [6 favorites]


I think this is a bad idea, but I'm probably the person everyone wants to mute.

(NB: not everyone lives wherever you live, that's why "www", not just "w").
posted by pompomtom at 6:53 AM on July 2, 2018 [2 favorites]


If there ever is an official MeFi killfile-or-equivalent, I have one feature request for it: the person who's been muted needs to be able to know that it's happened. I don't mean name names -- that'd be a nightmare -- just some indication somewhere that "you've been muted by n people," that's maybe fuzzed a little bit for deniability and probably doesn't even display until n is greater than some reasonable background-noise number.

Basically it's that the idea of someone who thinks they're contributing to the conversation but doesn't even know that they're invisible to the person they think they're talking to, is a really sad idea to me. Or to put it the other way round, if I'm one of the Repeat Offenders I guess I'd prefer to know about it -- gut-curdling though the thought is -- so that at least I'd have the opportunity to do something about it.

(Also maybe just have it deemphasize the person instead of removing them altogether, so there aren't confusing gaps in the conversation; and do it as a time-limited "snooze" rather than a "kill", and uh probably a dozen more ways to water it down that I'll keep coming up with if I keep typing, I think I may have talked myself back around to "please don't do this")
posted by ook at 7:10 AM on July 2, 2018 [7 favorites]


In cases where several participants have coincident mute lists, threads might require an accompanying Venn diagram.
posted by pipeski at 7:30 AM on July 2, 2018 [1 favorite]


I've been tempted to use a killfile before, but opted not to because ignoring but accepting the existence of people who annoy/offend me seems like a skill I could stand to better cultivate. There are, of course, people who are legit unforgivable/intolerable... but those are the people you gotta report, right?

I'm also wary of muting people forever when a) I'm a flawed human being my own damn self and might get the wrong idea about someone and end up missing out; and b) I like to leave open the possibility of growth. I surely hope I've grown in my years here.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:54 AM on July 2, 2018 [9 favorites]


On any given day, the MeFite I find the most intolerable is me, approximately five years before.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:01 AM on July 2, 2018 [37 favorites]


(not sure if people are +1-ing because they relate to the self-flagellation or because they agree I was seriously the worst)
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:58 AM on July 2, 2018 [14 favorites]


I sometimes wonder what this place would be like if it were a bit more ephemeral, that if posts, once they aged out, rather than locking, just went into the ether.
posted by cjorgensen at 8:59 AM on July 2, 2018


Far, far worse off for ad revenue, for one.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:25 AM on July 2, 2018 [7 favorites]


(Also maybe just have it deemphasize the person instead of removing them altogether, so there aren't confusing gaps in the conversation; and do it as a time-limited "snooze" rather than a "kill", and....

A mod clicks a button and your entire Metafilter world changes.

To the world, your profile notes, "This account is disabled."
Despite this, you can still log in to the site, post and comment normally.
But to everyone else, logged in or not, you have effectively become invisible.
No one ever sees or replies to your comments.
Your posts remain comment-free.
You're just screaming silently into the void, for eternity.

The label on that button? Hellban.
posted by zarq at 10:27 AM on July 2, 2018 [2 favorites]


It would cheer me right up to know I had enough impact on this site that someone hated my every utterance. Had maybe even killfiled me. I suppose they aren't in a position to memail me to let me know.
posted by biffa at 10:38 AM on July 2, 2018 [1 favorite]


zarq, I'm gonna have to answer that with 2018's grimmer version of "Simpsons did it"... Black Mirror already did that.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:38 AM on July 2, 2018 [1 favorite]


DirtyOldTown, my +1 was for "I'm a flawed human being my own damn self" because yeah same

Years ago I tried using an extension to hide one specific person (now long departed from the site.) I found it wound up drawing him to my attention even more than before I'd blocked him, because other people kept responding to him and I'd have to toggle him back into view to make sense of the thread.

(And now that I go back and reread some of those old comments it looks like his major crime consisted of being totally out-of-step politically with the MeFi consensus, yet bullheaded and contrarian enough to continue trying to argue his point of view here... his presence was an instant thread-ruiner, partly because of his actual words and tone, sure, but just as much because it gradually became acceptable to just openly treat him as a punching bag. So people did. At length. Maybe that's an argument in favor of some sort of built-in killfile; it'd help take the spotlight off the shit-stirrers if the people who are already exasperated with them aren't tempted to respond.)

(But hellbans are just gratuitously cruel IMO. Individuals muting individuals out of their own personal reading experience, okay; but I hope we'd never sink so low as to just send people to the cornfield without their knowledge. If someone's that much of a problem just kick them out the door.)
posted by ook at 10:50 AM on July 2, 2018 [2 favorites]


On any given day, the MeFite I find the most intolerable is me, approximately five years before.

Agreed, if I could mute me, I would.
posted by Fizz at 11:16 AM on July 2, 2018 [6 favorites]


"if I'm one of the Repeat Offenders I guess I'd prefer to know about it -- gut-curdling though the thought is -- so that at least I'd have the opportunity to do something about it."

I very much like this idea, and the rationale behind it.
posted by kevinbelt at 11:17 AM on July 2, 2018 [3 favorites]


Since we're trying to consolidate all of the MeFi Scripts over at

https://mefiscripts.github.io/mefiscripts/


Would it be possible to get a MeTa sidebar link to this?
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 11:18 AM on July 2, 2018 [2 favorites]


We're never ever implementing hellbans or anything like them. If I need to ban someone, I'll just ban them.

Would it be possible to get a MeTa sidebar link to this?

Good idea!
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:21 AM on July 2, 2018 [3 favorites]


I like the idea of a shadowy Hell-MetaFilter one can descend into as a necessary step in our heroic life journey, can we make this happen
posted by prize bull octorok at 11:24 AM on July 2, 2018 [14 favorites]


I'm pretty sure we're already in that one, octorok.
posted by Etrigan at 11:32 AM on July 2, 2018 [4 favorites]


That’s what you get for eating that pomegranate
posted by Barack Spinoza at 11:36 AM on July 2, 2018 [11 favorites]


I'll start by saying that I have had positive experiences with flagging and with contacting the mods and I appreciate it very much. I also agree with billiebee's sentiments overall.

So I don't think I would use this feature, but I am curious for the sake of discussion if people would feel differently if you could enable a 24-hour timeout button instead of a mute?
posted by juliplease at 11:38 AM on July 2, 2018


Would it be possible to get a MeTa sidebar link to this?

It was in the classic sidebar, but not in the modern one. Now it's in both.
posted by frimble (staff) at 11:45 AM on July 2, 2018 [1 favorite]


ME: hey can we add the scripts to the metatalk sidebar
FRIMBLE: I...thought I already did?
[time passes]
FRIMBLE: okay so there's the Classic theme sidebar and then there's the Modern theme sidebar, and—


So it was there already and/or it is there now, depending on how you roll. Thank frimble twice.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:45 AM on July 2, 2018 [1 favorite]


(I'm sorry if that was asked and answered. I tried to read all the comments before I posted but I may have missed it.)
posted by juliplease at 11:45 AM on July 2, 2018


We're never ever implementing hellbans or anything like them. If I need to ban someone, I'll just ban them.

Was totally joking.
posted by zarq at 12:08 PM on July 2, 2018 [2 favorites]


FRIMBLE: okay so there's the Classic theme sidebar and then there's the Modern theme sidebar, and—

That's a weird. Out of curiosity, is there any other content that has to be duplicated across themes by hand?
posted by zarq at 12:10 PM on July 2, 2018 [1 favorite]


There are a number of, uh, redundancies in the code base, yeah. One of my big-picture projects is revisiting both Modern and Classic (and Classic mobile, which is technically its own theme too) to see where we can synthesize things some. A really pie-in-sky outcome there would be getting people's needs met sufficiently all on a somewhat elaborated version of the Modern theme and simplifying everything on the back-end as a result, but there's a whole lot of unanswered questions between here and there so it's hard to scope that out speculatively.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:23 PM on July 2, 2018 [1 favorite]


So I don't think I would use this feature, but I am curious for the sake of discussion if people would feel differently if you could enable a 24-hour timeout button instead of a mute?

No. There are a couple of regular posters who don't break any rules and might be perfectly lovely in meat space, but their particular shticks irritate the hell out of me. Examples: consistently reading Asks in an uncharitable manner and then attacking what they imagine the OP's motives are; banging on about their pet issues every time they comment(supplements, meditation, mustaches, whatever); innocently trying to be funny in a way that makes me unreasonably angry and then I feel like a weird jerk for being mad.

I am excited to use Waninggibbon's script because it's exactly what I need. I can still see the posts but I'll know it's from one of Those People so I can just skip it if I'm not in the mood. Thanks Waninggibbon!!
posted by Stonkle at 12:31 PM on July 2, 2018 [6 favorites]


:(
posted by Barack Spinoza at 12:36 PM on July 2, 2018


(could someone tell Stonkle i posted a frown)
posted by Barack Spinoza at 12:38 PM on July 2, 2018 [13 favorites]


innocently trying to be funny in a way that makes me unreasonably angry and then I feel like a weird jerk for being mad.

If it makes you feel any better, I am the same way. Sometimes it's ok to drop the mods a note just to vent, especially if you can make your complaint amusing.

A really pie-in-sky outcome there would be getting people's needs met sufficiently all on a somewhat elaborated version of the Modern theme


Cold, dead, hands cortex......
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 12:39 PM on July 2, 2018 [7 favorites]


But what if the Classic theme you think you're using...already IS a modified version of Modern?!

~ B L A C K M I R R O R ~
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:43 PM on July 2, 2018 [7 favorites]


it's not though, but that'd be kind of a good twist
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:43 PM on July 2, 2018 [6 favorites]


I feel pretty firmly that using killfiles is bad for the community because it fragments conversations along invisible lines. One of the key things that makes this place what it is, I think, is the one-big-room-with-everybody-talking-to-everybody nature of our threads. Killfiles break that, and worse they break it in a way that's basically impossible to detect.

I'll concede that it's a bit different on Ask, where the dynamic has more of an everybody-talking-to-one-person feel to it and there's a presumption that the Asker is going to be mentally winnowing the wheat from the chaff anyway. But like, I'd rather people didn't use them. If a killfile is the only thing that lets you participate here without losing your mind then I guess it is what it is—I'm not trying to tell anyone what to do—but I still think they're not a great thing for the site as a whole.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 1:23 PM on July 2, 2018 [2 favorites]


innocently trying to be funny in a way that makes me unreasonably angry

Can I just say how glad I am that we currently don't seem to have any frequent posters that have adopted an obnoxious "look at me" orthographic tic to give their comments a personal brand?
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 1:39 PM on July 2, 2018 [6 favorites]


I would make responsible but frequent use of a temporary block list. I use it on other social media for people I like enough to follow but need time to breathe without seeing the 50 posts they make in a single day on one topic. Sometimes it is a hobby horse they just won't get off and sometimes it is just their repeated use of a trope/idiom that literally causes me to shiver. I would make it a policy to always flag something I felt was breaking the rules before I started the temporary block.
I have used third party metafilter blockers in the past and then they would break when my OS updated or my browser changed. By the time they broke, the main offenders were rarely still up to the same old crap that caused me to block them in the first place.
posted by soelo at 1:41 PM on July 2, 2018 [1 favorite]


"... consistently reading Asks in an uncharitable manner and then attacking what they imagine the OP's motives are"
This is exactly the sort of thing I had in mind originally and the problem is that these comments don't technically break any rules. (In that sense, they perfectly parallel passive-aggressive people in real world who superficially stay within bounds of social convention.)
posted by Jon44 at 4:36 PM on July 2, 2018 [3 favorites]


Absolutely, Jon44. I post AskMes about my kid semi-regularly and there's an entire alternate universe contained within about 5-10% of the replies in which a scared, miserable kid is abused and undermined by his parents at every turn. Given the fairly mundane reality of me, Comrade Doll, and DOT, Jr. as that obnoxiously happy family that drives everyone else crazy, it's a weird timeline, for sure.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 5:06 PM on July 2, 2018 [10 favorites]


I am curious for the sake of discussion if people would feel differently if you could enable a 24-hour timeout button instead of a mute?

Nope, if people are causing that kind of problem I flag it and often close the thread. What muting would be great for is Ask, where one person drives me bonkers, but gets plenty of agreement, so I think the comments must be helpful to someone. I'm gonna try the gray-out option, since die die died for me.
posted by Margalo Epps at 7:43 PM on July 2, 2018


It occurred to me what I'd really like here instead of a killfile type option is the ability to hide comments and hide all comments by certain users. Then I could see that a comment had been made and who it was by and if I was feeling like a glutton for punishment/full of loving kindness/in the neighborhood, feeling a bit daffy I could expand it and take a look.
posted by MoonOrb at 7:47 PM on July 2, 2018 [1 favorite]


Huh. I seem to be in the decided minority, then, but the one person I recall using one of the scripts to mute was on the Blue, and not precisely offensive so much as incomprehensible and derailly. After flagging once or twice, it just seemed easier. A killfile limited to a handful of accounts sounds nice to me, but muting that one person worked fine; it just meant I stopped reading the site on mobile for a while.
posted by tautological at 8:26 PM on July 2, 2018


I like the idea of a shadowy Hell-MetaFilter one can descend into as a necessary step in our heroic life journey

Yup, we have that. The political megathreads. So when does my life journey start getting heroic? (Kindly ignore derail.)
posted by Bella Donna at 3:45 AM on July 3, 2018 [3 favorites]


I'm a little wigged out by the idea that people relating their own experiences in Ask is considered bad behavior. I feel like answering a Human Relations question by sharing one's own relevant-seeming experience—and the perspective gained thereby—is one perfectly fine way of participating on Ask. It's something that I sometimes do. Should I not be doing that?

I also feel like some of the things that people are saying drive them up the wall could maybe be boiled down to, "This person has a very different outlook on life than me and I think they give bad advice," which I think is maybe just an inevitable result of how AskMe works? People will give bad advice sometimes, it's always been up to the Asker to decide which advice they consider worth heeding.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 4:01 AM on July 3, 2018 [8 favorites]


This is exactly the sort of thing I had in mind originally and the problem is that these comments don't technically break any rules. (In that sense, they perfectly parallel passive-aggressive people in real world who superficially stay within bounds of social convention.)

I have some time in the distant past flagged comments like this where the answerer is assuming way too much about the asker. A mod usually leaves a nice note asking people not to do that any more. So, the system works! And maybe the flag with note feature will help this as well. Perhaps flagging and then muting with a userscript (just for that thread?) would work to generally reduce such comments and protect your sanity?
posted by bluefly at 4:34 AM on July 3, 2018 [1 favorite]


Why is everyone assuming muting would mean you wouldn't see the comment at all? Is that the only way it works? No one is going to be confused that they missed a comment if they see the username but the comment part is blank. That's what I'd like, the ability to mute or unmute in the thread itself, not ban certain users from my eyeballs forever.
posted by agregoli at 5:41 AM on July 3, 2018


they see the username but the comment part is blank.

I mean, for me, I can see a username and then guess the comment (and my relative annoyance to it). Blanking the comment doesn't help when the problem is, "User X's hobbyhorse drives me up the wall and I bet I know what they said here."
posted by TwoStride at 5:54 AM on July 3, 2018 [2 favorites]


It would help me a lot.
posted by agregoli at 6:14 AM on July 3, 2018 [1 favorite]


I'm a little wigged out by the idea that people relating their own experiences in Ask is considered bad behavior. I feel like answering a Human Relations question by sharing one's own relevant-seeming experience—and the perspective gained thereby—is one perfectly fine way of participating on Ask. It's something that I sometimes do. Should I not be doing that?

No one is saying that. What they're talking about is people coming at questions sideways, either to cast aspersions on the Asker or to shoehorn in an only tangentially related hobby horse.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:29 AM on July 3, 2018 [8 favorites]


Well… where is the line between sharing your perhaps-unpopular perspective and grinding your axe, though? The mods have always been clear that axe-grinding is something they see as an actionable offense, so in theory flagging and/or contact form usage should handle it. If that's not working, then maybe the issue is that moderation guidelines aren't lining up well with user expectations and need to be recalibrated?
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 7:03 AM on July 3, 2018 [2 favorites]


I am clear that this sounds like it will never happen on MeFi. But it does tie into the discussion about users and their experience here - because it's such a fundamental thing you can do almost everywhere else on the web where users talk to each other.

I also think it's a bit frustrating how casual everyone is with the killfiles and such - that's the answer every time this comes up - oh there's a script for that. I have tried multiple times over the years but I have NO freaking idea how to install/use/implement scripts to mute users (particularly on mobile - I downloaded Tampermonkey and could not figure out how to use it at all). I'm not the most technical user of the site, and often it feels like the "solution" is to tell people to use a very techy solution. I'm sure that makes me look like a dummy but honestly...can't figure it out. And I know plenty of people who wouldn't even try. It's not a user-friendly solution. I'd love the tools to take care of this on my own on MeFi.
posted by agregoli at 7:13 AM on July 3, 2018 [3 favorites]


Well… where is the line between sharing your perhaps-unpopular perspective and grinding your axe, though?

Maybe we can trust each person to set their own line for their own experience, which is what a killfile / mutelist does without affecting anyone else in the slightest bit.
posted by Etrigan at 7:25 AM on July 3, 2018 [2 favorites]


From what I gather, Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The, is trying to get a better handle on how comments are being taken by others as a way to better shape their own ways of response so killfiles might be avoided. That seems a reasonable question to ask in light of the talk about improving everyone's experience of the site, which Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The has been trying to do and which I too am interested in doing without resorting to killfiling others or, hopefully, being killfiled myself if possible.
posted by gusottertrout at 7:40 AM on July 3, 2018


Except that they do affect others, by invisibly stifling discussion. They turn what looks like an open forum into an indeterminite number of overlapping-but-not-identical conversation silos. If more than a very small percentage of the userbase started using them, I feel like communication on MetaFilter would become totally untenable. And that's not even considering the effect they have on the person who thinks that they're participating and being heard but who is actually being invisibly ignored. Frankly I feel like killfiles break the presumption of good-faith participation that is the foundational cornerstone of this community, and I'm pretty surprised not to be seeing way more pushback against them here in this thread.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 7:41 AM on July 3, 2018 [6 favorites]


Like basically, if you want to turn MetaFilter into a place that actually is run by cliques of popular power-users, widespread use of killfiles is probably the fastest way to accomplish that.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 7:44 AM on July 3, 2018 [4 favorites]


Because I am tired. I have been on Metafilter since 2001, and I am TIRED of seeing some of the same people over and over and over again with the same predictable comments or fight-iness or whatever, and sometimes I want to read the thread but have a break from them. I don't want to ban them forever from my experience, but muting someone in a thread I am interested in would be so helpful. It wouldn't even care if I had to mute them every time I wanted, as in, only-in-any-one-thread can you mute (and maybe you can only mute 1 person or something). It would be so lovely.
posted by agregoli at 7:47 AM on July 3, 2018 [4 favorites]


I would even trade muting in a thread for being able to comment in a thread. Meaning if you mute even one person, you can't comment. Which would clear up any concerns about conversations being confusing.
posted by agregoli at 7:48 AM on July 3, 2018 [4 favorites]


I know plenty of people who wouldn't even try. It's not a user-friendly solution. I'd love the tools to take care of this on my own on MeFi.

I am certain someone could walk you through how to do this. I know "scripts" sounds sort of complex, but usually it's just a few buttons to click and someone could help walk you through which buttons to click when and how. Don't know if it's an AskMe thing or a MeTa thing (and I would but I'm not very online in the next few days)

I totally understand the mods' objections to making killfiles a site feature at the same time I support users who would like to use them for their own reasons and I am not at all concerned about them becoming a widespread thing.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 7:49 AM on July 3, 2018 [3 favorites]


Maybe there could be a MetaTalk in the future where someone in the know could walk users through this killfile thing? Then we could reference that for people who want killfiles in the future. I need more than a tutorial, I need some advice on the ground! I would definitely be indebted if someone in the know would take that on and add it to the MetaTalk line-up.
posted by agregoli at 7:54 AM on July 3, 2018 [2 favorites]


Yeah I'd like to clarify that I don't, like, hate you if you use a killfile or want to use one. My reaction pretty much stops at just sort of wishing people wouldn't, and I accept that it's a choice people are allowed to make. I think it would be pretty bad if their use became widespread, but I recognize that that's not the current reality.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 7:59 AM on July 3, 2018 [2 favorites]


(not sure if people are +1-ing because they relate to the self-flagellation or because they agree I was seriously the worst)

mine is because you were the worst.
posted by Comrade Doll at 8:17 AM on July 3, 2018 [10 favorites]


I haven't used a killfile but I can see why some folks would. There are a lot of threads I nope out of pretty quickly because it gets tiresome as same people trot out either their hobby horses or are spoiling for an argument/pile-on.
posted by Kitteh at 9:09 AM on July 3, 2018 [1 favorite]


On any given day, the MeFite I find the most intolerable is me, approximately five years before.

Agreed, if I could mute me, I would.


Oh God totally, I wish I could actually mute me irl too to be fair.
posted by billiebee at 9:20 AM on July 3, 2018 [4 favorites]


Except that they do affect others, by invisibly stifling discussion. They turn what looks like an open forum into an indeterminite number of overlapping-but-not-identical conversation silos. If more than a very small percentage of the userbase started using them, I feel like communication on MetaFilter would become totally untenable. And that's not even considering the effect they have on the person who thinks that they're participating and being heard but who is actually being invisibly ignored. Frankly I feel like killfiles break the presumption of good-faith participation that is the foundational cornerstone of this community, and I'm pretty surprised not to be seeing way more pushback against them here in this thread.

I agree with you. I also tend to think they allow people to bypass an important behavioral skill for participating in a community. As a general rule, the mods assume we're mature enough to manage our own interactions with people. They may slip a little guidance into a thread by deleting a comment or in a mod note. But for the most part, we're expected to converse with respect for one another and to handle conflicts, without getting defensive or going on the offensive and blowing things out of proportion.

Killfiles eliminate the need to manage one's own behavior with regard to specific people. If I can't see your comments, I don't have to worry about controlling my own reactions to them. About how I will or won't respond. They're invisible to me, and therefore ignored.

But being part of a community means that we have to deal with each other. Warts and all. Bypassing that isn't great. It prevents people from interacting (as you say) in good faith. It also discourages people from examining their own behavior and modifying it. Or apologizing when they have wronged others or are simply in the wrong. That's how communities heal after conflict.

On the other hand, allowing people to manage their own experience here is quite important. The site has slowly been allowing more and more of that control since it launched. We have MyMefi. We have the ability to block people on MeMail. If a killfile is anti-community, then is blocking people on memail also anti-community? I don't honestly know. We do have the mod team, who will step in if things get out of hand. But giving us the tools to do such things ourselves removes the burden on them to police this place.

If more than a very small percentage of the userbase started using them, I feel like communication on MetaFilter would become totally untenable.

Before I was here, I spent a lot of time on Usenet, IRC and in listservs. All feature linear communication threads similar to mefi's post threads. Killfiles were a common filtering system on Usenet. They're a common option on IRC.

People on usenet who used killfiles tended to avoid taking the bait from people who annoyed them. By design. They got into fewer arguments and contributed significantly less noise to threads. It made for better conversations, although yes, there was probably a stronger tendency for them to become more silo'd and echo-chamber-y. But threads never really dissolved into chaos because of them.

IRC on the other hand: there Killfiles could easily foment chaos. Possibly because there was a lower threshold between writing and adding your words to the conversation. It felt more instantaneous and also more ephemeral.

Different spaces. Different examples. Not sure how that would carry over here.
posted by zarq at 10:16 AM on July 3, 2018 [4 favorites]


If I killfile cortex for talking about taking away Classic theme, that means he can't do it, right? That's how killfiles work, yes?
posted by stoneweaver at 10:26 AM on July 3, 2018 [9 favorites]


My work's IT department has things pretty tightly locked down so I couldn't install a killfile script even if I wanted to.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 11:00 AM on July 3, 2018


If a killfile is anti-community, then is blocking people on memail also anti-community? I don't honestly know.

It's an interesting point of comparison! My basic answer is "no", though I could reframe that as "not at a comparable order of magnitude" to be less absolutist about it. One distinction between in-thread interactions and mefimail interactions is the presence vs. absence of a public context; all else aside, one knows when they comment in a thread that many other people will see what they write, but in private correspondence the opposite is true. And that public context can have a natural moderating effect on people's worse instincts.

So there's no question in my mind that the block function in mefimail belongs as part of the standard feature set. Having to share the site with people you don't particularly want to talk to doesn't oblige anyone to have a private correspondence with any of those people, and in a private correspondence someone has to go out of their way to even make the moderation team aware that something is going wrong vs. the explicitly public nature of in-thread conversation.

Mostly I'd characterize the question of mefimail and blocking thereof as parallel to general community questions, rather than being either pro- or anti-community in its own right. Very different realms to manage, that don't intersect so often as they just run tangent.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:01 AM on July 3, 2018 [2 favorites]


Gonna have to disagree with your first points, zarq. People aren't lacking maturity if they don't want to deal with something that repeatedly stresses them out.

Killfiles eliminate the need to manage one's own behavior with regard to specific people. If I can't see your comments, I don't have to worry about controlling my own reactions to them. About how I will or won't respond.

Or! Killfiles eliminate the need to manage one's own stress reaction with regard to specific people.
posted by Stonkle at 11:24 AM on July 3, 2018 [4 favorites]


Yep, agree with Stonkle...I don't respond to every post that annoys me...but they still do and I'd love to mute certain folks at certain times.
posted by agregoli at 11:27 AM on July 3, 2018


Could reformatting to put the user's name at the beginning of the comment instead of the end help matters? If a comment is from a user you recognize, it gives context to the forthcoming remarks. If a comment is from a user who gives you angina, it makes it easier to skip.
posted by carmicha at 11:40 AM on July 3, 2018 [1 favorite]


At this point I’m pretty good at recognizing the style of users who annoy me from the first few words, I just scroll past.
posted by bleep at 12:05 PM on July 3, 2018 [4 favorites]


Or! Killfiles eliminate the need to manage one's own stress reaction with regard to specific people.

This exactly. I'd love to give examples of the things I won't deal with anymore but I don't want to make this into a debate on a single person and whether or not they really meant X thing that they said 5 years ago that I found appalling and deeply personally offensive. I just want to go about my mefi life without having to ever deal with them ever again in any way at all. I don't even know if they're still a member and I don't care. Even making this comment is stressful because I'm remembering their terribleness.
posted by poffin boffin at 12:52 PM on July 3, 2018 [8 favorites]


At this point I’m pretty good at recognizing the style of users who annoy me from the first few words, I just scroll past.

Never thought much about it before, but now that you mention it I realized that I do this too. It's weird how one can recognize some of the most eyerolly commenters right away, like in less than one sentence sometimes. I've totally done the "Hey is this…" *scroll scroll* "Yep, sure is" *scroll scroll scroll* thing before. It appears that despite being consciously anti-killfile, my subconscious may be maintaining one internally.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 1:20 PM on July 3, 2018 [1 favorite]


Gonna have to disagree with your first points, zarq. People aren't lacking maturity if they don't want to deal with something that repeatedly stresses them out.

Maturity is not a perfect word here. I tried to avoid using it but wasn't coming up with an alternative. Sorry. I'll try to express this better now.

Metafilter is not and has never been a safe space. In my personal experience, (as someone who experienced CSA,) I think there's a certain amount of self-reliance required for survivors in terms of managing one's reactions to people and their words when one is explicitly not in a safe space. I think this is unfortunately one of the burdens we bear.

For myself on metafilter, this has meant learning to close threads, walk away from topics and making the decision not to engage with certain users. In effect, I learned to manage my own mefi experience. Just as I have learned to manage my own real life experiences. I don't like to impose those demands on other people, (and frankly, I dislike speaking about those things with strangers,) so in recent years I have tried not to ask the mods to do so for me. I think this is an unavoidable part of the process of being in a non-safe space and part of a large community.

If killfiles are the way that people manage their experiences, that's fine with me. I said above pretty clearly that allowing people to manage their own experiences here is important and I meant it. And to be perfectly clear I don't have any problem with that. I certainly don't look down on people for it -- I've used them myself over the years! So I think of this in terms of negative effects other than only stress. But since we're speaking about this abstractly, I don't think we should be ignoring the wider effect they can potentially have on the community, or be able to assess whether that's something we should be realistically concerned about, either.

--

Somewhat off subject, I can't stand the word "survivors" and don't like using it to describe myself. I also really dislike the euphemistic and sanitized "experiences." Language keeps failing me on this topic, and it is frustrating.
posted by zarq at 1:28 PM on July 3, 2018 [5 favorites]


Sorry... by: "So I think of this in terms of negative effects other than only stress."

I mean I think of the need to use a killfile in terms of blocking triggering comments. Crossing a line past stressful and upsetting into harmful. Because of it, I think of them as a vital tool that we should be able to use ourselves.
posted by zarq at 1:42 PM on July 3, 2018


I agree kilfiles ruin things. Am active in a large diverse group elsewhere that offers blocking and what happens is-

1-J ticks B off, B blocks J
2-J logs out, sees activity by B thus knows they’ve been blocked
3-J creates a new username, posts even more, now intentionally messing with B
4-all new posters are asked who they used to be, accused of being J, treated with suspicion
5-not all new names are J! New members are treated very poorly, and its all because of that block button imo.

This happens almost daily in this group, but its completely unmoderated except for extreme violence or nudity. So we have a core clique that sees itself in charge, blocking, flagging and dogging anyone they don’t like. And discussions are often nonsensical depending who has you blocked, creating dramaz all day long. Just scroll on by and roll your eyes.
posted by RichardHenryYarbo at 1:44 PM on July 3, 2018


I expect that at least some of your concerns won't come up, RichardHenryYarbo - namely, since this is one-way-only, the only way I can think for someone to know they've been killfiled is if they attempted to call out a user who has them killfiled, and don't get the response they're expecting.

Plus, we have a moderation team that is pretty good at catching malicious sockpuppets, from what I remember in the rare instances they've come up.
posted by sagc at 1:50 PM on July 3, 2018 [2 favorites]


I would like to be able to mute people. Ideally I'd like both temporary and indefinite options. I don't think it would have a hugely deleterious effect on site conversation, but I completely understand the reasons why it's a very tricky topic, and if Metafilter never implements this kind of thing I'll be just fine.

There's currently only one person I would mute. For me, it's not a big enough deal to be worth installing a script (and I don't think it's even possible on Safari.)

I will say that for my own personal seeing-red issues, turning off visible favorite counts made a huge difference for me. It's one thing when That One User I Can't Stand is doing their insufferable schtick, but it's much worse when it's like "insufferable schtick (54 favorites)" because then I just feel like I'm on the wrong side of history.

Honestly, having the free-form flag option so I can FIAMO while feeling like I had the chance to say "they're doing that thing I hate again" will probably help, too.
posted by Sokka shot first at 2:01 PM on July 3, 2018 [2 favorites]


3-J creates a new username, posts even more, now intentionally messing with B

hey I think we've just identified a potential new revenue stream

There's currently only one person I would mute.

while I believe it is an OVERWHELMINGLY good thing that MeTa is no longer cool with shitty callouts, sometimes it feels like threads on the gray have more blind items than Page Six these days
posted by prize bull octorok at 2:06 PM on July 3, 2018 [7 favorites]


Honestly, I am not trying to comment too much so I'm going to walk away after this. But for me, zarq is so far off the mark of what I'm personally trying to say with why I want a mute function that I want to make one more clarification.

I do not need a safe space. I am not asking for one. I am not a survivor of anything, and as far as I know, am not triggered by much. What I am asking for is a common sense tool that is available in almost every other social space on the internet - the ability to block users whose comments, for whatever reason, you want to see less of.

I'm not assuming my reasons are anyone else's reasons, but this doesn't need to be a Grand Ask of a Pony. It seems to me like a totally normal thing to want on Metafilter, whether you have a personal dislike of someone or you're in a thread where someone is sucking up all the air by commenting every 3 comments.
posted by agregoli at 2:06 PM on July 3, 2018 [1 favorite]


2. Nancy, a killfile for Chrome.

Who's the original Nancy and what did she do ?
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 2:25 PM on July 3, 2018 [4 favorites]


But for me, zarq is so far off the mark of what I'm personally trying to say with why I want a mute function

Just to be clear, my comment was not about you personally. It did not quote you, refer to you, has nothing to do with you, your reasons, your motivations or anything else related to you.
posted by zarq at 2:26 PM on July 3, 2018


I know that, zarq, but thanks for making it excruciatingly clear, as if I'm a child. It was steering the conversation in a direction that I don't think I, or anyone else, was actually going regarding our desire for a mute button, which is why I clarified that it wasn't at all what I was wanting it for.
posted by agregoli at 2:30 PM on July 3, 2018


I have zero desire to make anyone defend their choices or re-live something that they found terrible, but I also feel like if one member behaves so badly toward another that they can't stand to ever see anything written by them ever again, that member should probably be banned. Again, not trying to litigate anybody's individual case, but I feel like in general at least some of the need for killfiles could be alleviated by moderator action. I know the mods are human and that they also rely heavily on flags and comment form contacts, but jeez if someone is that mean then I can't see why they should be allowed to stay here.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 2:33 PM on July 3, 2018 [1 favorite]


> Sokka shot first:
"I will say that for my own personal seeing-red issues, turning off visible favorite counts made a huge difference for me."

You can do this on your preferences page. Set "Comment favorites style" to "Hide favorites."
posted by cichlid ceilidh at 2:43 PM on July 3, 2018


Oh, sorry, I misread. For anyone else, though!
posted by cichlid ceilidh at 2:44 PM on July 3, 2018


[One deleted. If you look down and find your fingers typing anything along the lines of "well I'm gonna mute/killfile/block YOU", it's time to take a little walk and cool off, do something else for a while.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 2:44 PM on July 3, 2018 [7 favorites]


I apologize. I was (mostly) commenting in jest. Allow me to rephrase: that’s a shitty thing to say to zarq, agregoli. I read his comment as earnest. If anything, he tried to neutralize your (to me) way over the top reaction.

I remain opposed to killfiles, so I’ll still get to read everyone’s bon mots. No worries.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 2:49 PM on July 3, 2018


I know that, zarq, but thanks for making it excruciatingly clear, as if I'm a child.

This is the second time in recent weeks that you have basically accused me personally of something I am not doing. I felt being very clear was required.

It was steering the conversation in a direction that I don't think I, or anyone else, was actually going regarding our desire for a mute button, which is why I clarified that it wasn't at all what I was wanting it for.

For heaven's sake, I'm not steering anything. Not asking the mods for anything. Nothing I've said should interfere with your ability to set up a killfile or ask the mods for one as part of the built-in site tools available to users in any way. I'm simply discussing the topic with at least a couple of other people.
posted by zarq at 2:49 PM on July 3, 2018 [3 favorites]


I had no idea you felt like I was targeting you, zarq. That is not my intention. Maybe its because I have felt the same from you, on multiple occaisons. I do not think I said anything over the top, I clarified my comments and those were my feelings on the matter. Maybe my tone was colored by a rude interaction in the past, and I apologize for that. I don't know why anything here on this topic has to be personal.

I reacted the way I did because who likes a comment like that? Paraphrasing you said your comment had nothing to do with me. And mine had nothing to do with you, besides referencing your comment! There should be no hurtful intention taken there, simply because I referenced your comment and felt differently.
posted by agregoli at 3:34 PM on July 3, 2018


but I also feel like if one member behaves so badly toward another that they can't stand to ever see anything written by them ever again, that member should probably be banned.

I think a lot of the situations people are talking about have nothing to do with members behaving badly to one another. It's more that an individual is well within community bounds but simply behaving in ways that an individual finds irritating or upsetting for highly individual reasons. I can't ask the mods to ban someone because I think their relationship advice is always the same and usually off-base.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 3:56 PM on July 3, 2018 [8 favorites]


*plonk*
posted by notyou at 4:14 PM on July 3, 2018 [3 favorites]


What if when you mute another member any thread they comment in disappears for you. Just *poof* you cannot see the entire thread anymore. You get to killfile people, but in exchange you are excluding yourself from any conversation they participate in. Threads don’t get fragmented, and by golly you really have to mean it if you decide to mute someone.
posted by stoneweaver at 4:36 PM on July 3, 2018 [2 favorites]


I had no idea you felt like I was targeting you, zarq. That is not my intention.

OK. It felt personal. In the comment you responded to I discussed life experiences related to how I feel about killfiles and why I've used them in the past. If that wasn't your intention then that's fine. I'm happy to hear that. Thank you for explaining. I apologize for being brusque earlier.

Maybe its because I have felt the same from you, on multiple occaisons.

I sincerely am not trying to be rude or offensive here, but I barely recognize your username. We don't know each other. You had a negative interaction with me in a thread a few weeks ago where you believed I stepped over a line and was rude. You then yelled at me in memail afterwards and made your feelings clear and that's the only reason why you're even on my radar. I don't remember interacting with you at any other time on the site or off it. Honestly, given your last couple of comments before your latest one I had quietly concluded that you've wanted to set up a killfile to put me on it.

If I've made you feel targeted on other occasions than the incident you yelled at me in memail over, I sincerely apologize. I had no idea. I don't know you, it wasn't personal and it definitely was not intentional.

I don't know why anything here on this topic has to be personal.

I don't either. It is utterly baffling to me that it would be.
posted by zarq at 5:14 PM on July 3, 2018


but I also feel like if one member behaves so badly toward another that they can't stand to ever see anything written by them ever again, that member should probably be banned.

I too would prefer a metafilter with about ten to fifteen members max. a civilized number for a gathering

seriously I have the face-blindness thing but for usernames so while I bet everybody who hates me remembers which person it is they hate, I can only say the same for like five of them. there are several pairs of people whose names begin with the same letter, both of whom I like a lot but I confuse them, and I'd say who they are except what if they hate each other.
posted by queenofbithynia at 10:45 PM on July 3, 2018 [8 favorites]


Y'know what, I used to love killfiles back in the day. They were like TV-B-GONE for jerks — if someone was truly dorking up the collective vibe in a space, you could simply flip the bozo bit on them, and just like that they and their dubious contributions'd be magicked out of existence. It worked, at some occasional damage to sense and the flow of conversation, and it was proportionate to the space and time.

Not here, though. Honestly, there are only a few people here that bother me that much, and none of them for ideological reasons. (Having been present on the site more or less daily since 1999, I guess it falls to me to commit the faux pas of identifying the obnoxious contributions referred to way above as those of Steven C. Den Beste, and for all the various boyzones and blindspots we've worked through, it's been a long, long time since anyone's been that proudly, combatively wrong around here.)

No, I probably share upwards of 75% of my social and political values with the people I can't stand here, which means that my antipathy comes down to matters of style. I cringe at their running shtick, or their tutting, or their incontinent capitalization, or their need to relate everything back to their own naff-ass media consumption, or their simple longwindedness — good god, the longwindedness. And these are things I can learn to live with, or have done. At worst I just do what so many of you evidently also do: confirm that the tic I've spotted within the first four or five words means what and who I think it does, roll my eyes and move gaily forward. It works.

So. Another vote to the effect that killfiles just aren't the MetaFilter Way, to the degree that there is any reasonably stable, identifiable body of custom and praxis worth the name. It's not the way it feels like things work here, or ever ought to.
posted by adamgreenfield at 1:44 AM on July 4, 2018 [9 favorites]


(Heh! FWIW I'd completely forgotten about Den Beste; I had a different proudly wrong guy in mind.)
posted by ook at 5:41 AM on July 4, 2018 [1 favorite]


Thanks to this thread I am now frantically rethinking every word I've ever written online and wondering if anyone dislikes me enough to want to hide my very existence from their sight.
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:41 AM on July 4, 2018 [14 favorites]


Not just you, liz.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 7:47 AM on July 4, 2018 [5 favorites]


Me too, which is of course the other other reason I'm not a fan of normalizing kill files here. I'm actively contemplating a "who do you notice around and actively enjoy?" conversation for distraction, because the vague "I hate so and so and I'd love this site much more if I never saw them again" stuff is better than open call outs but it's also social paranoia tinder in the worst way.
posted by sciatrix at 7:53 AM on July 4, 2018 [9 favorites]


the vague "I hate so and so and I'd love this site much more if I never saw them again" stuff is better than open call outs

I'm not sure I agree that it is, honestly!
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:02 AM on July 4, 2018 [5 favorites]


I gotta say, this thread is not good reading for me. Maybe I’m egotistical, but I worry I’m on your list.
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:14 AM on July 4, 2018 [2 favorites]


Everyone's on someone's list. CF: the human condition.
posted by pompomtom at 8:20 AM on July 4, 2018 [6 favorites]


The main reason I suggest these sorts of decisions should be personal is that, in the past at least, people who've acted poorly here were described as being "cranky." Call me old-testament, but my view is that some people are just actually evil. (And research bears out the hypothesis that a lot of those sorts of people spend time online)
So personal muting acknowledges that people will differ on their perception of what's out of bounds, and also different world views on what causes malicious behavior. (And also what constitutes "community", given the reality that some have perverse agendas.)
posted by Jon44 at 8:23 AM on July 4, 2018 [2 favorites]


No mute button. If we don't use our node of discretion it turns into a turnip and just sits there in the middle of our forehead making us look stupid, eventually at the top of our lungs. Then even Cortex can't help us.
posted by mule98J at 8:48 AM on July 4, 2018 [2 favorites]


MetaFilter: That came out a little didactic.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 9:49 AM on July 4, 2018 [8 favorites]


I gotta say, this thread is not good reading for me. Maybe I’m egotistical, but I worry I’m on your list.

Same and now I feel so uncomfortable I think I'll refrain from answering anything in AskMe for awhile.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 11:08 AM on July 4, 2018 [1 favorite]


All of you are fine according to me, someone who is super great at getting people here to always agree with me and appreciate my contributions

(That is a joke, but I am someone who’s been around here for a ridiculously long time and I can say that none of you are who anyone is talking about. In fact, there’s no one on askme now who is particularly bad about this, although there are a few threads to go off the rails into OP bashing. )
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 11:33 AM on July 4, 2018


You are atop a short list of very active Mefites I've never seen so much as a trace of malice from, G&P -- and you're funny.
posted by jamjam at 1:44 PM on July 4, 2018 [5 favorites]


2. Nancy, a killfile for Chrome.

Who's the original Nancy and what did she do ?


Nancy knows what she did.

Nancy. 😠
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 3:12 PM on July 4, 2018 [5 favorites]


can i just also say if anyone feels compelled to mute or block or kill or whatever me, pls send me a memail first and say, hey fuck you unicycle guy and here's why

because a) i'd like to know and b) nobody ever sends me memail
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 3:13 PM on July 4, 2018 [11 favorites]


If this were Twitter or Reddit, it would be amusing and more to the point to call a killfile 'notsee'.
posted by jamjam at 3:35 PM on July 4, 2018 [1 favorite]


OMG MEMAIL
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 3:45 PM on July 4, 2018 [9 favorites]


Thank you for the kind words, and I appreciate them a great deal, but I wasn’t so much fishing for reassurance as trying to point out that this particular kind of general “there are people“ talk may have unintended effects.

Of course, so do specific callouts, so maybe there’s no good way to have this conversation.
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:08 PM on July 4, 2018 [4 favorites]


i don't turn on my memail ever so i will just say right here and now that your name always cracks me up, unicycle guy
posted by poffin boffin at 4:27 PM on July 4, 2018 [7 favorites]


My only problem with this thread is that so far none of the four or five people who profoundly irritate and annoy me on MetaFilter have made any comments here. How will they learn they are awful unless they read this thread and suddenly recognize themselves?
posted by seasparrow at 9:25 PM on July 4, 2018 [3 favorites]


I am kill-filing you because I keep trying & failing to sing "Two unicycles and some duct tape" to that Beck song. Also "iamkimiam" to that R.E.M. song. No hard feelings, I just can't stand the earworms.
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 10:22 PM on July 4, 2018 [2 favorites]


Err...well I like you ALL, including the people who have castigated me previously and wow, all of them have been in the last three years. All in the game, yo.
posted by jadepearl at 1:20 AM on July 5, 2018 [1 favorite]


Killfile me all you want, but you'll still know my "dogs are the best" comments are here.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 6:52 AM on July 5, 2018 [6 favorites]


I like to think that I'm too bland to be killfiled. This comforts me, somehow.
posted by h00py at 7:08 AM on July 5, 2018 [3 favorites]


As long as we don't start muting uncertain commenters. Because that would be mean.
posted by Too-Ticky at 7:12 AM on July 5, 2018 [2 favorites]


"... consistently reading Asks in an uncharitable manner and then attacking what they imagine the OP's motives are"

While I think this is sometimes a real thing...sometimes also people just ask questions in Ask that reveal they are doing a terrible thing, and it's not because people are reading it uncharitably, it's because the thing is indeed terrible. And you get increased clarifications from the OP that reveals it is a terrible thing that are like 'guys stop telling me this is terrible you just don't understand!'. Accordingly, I really feel like allowing people to mute answers they think are unhelpful is...just kind of not a great idea. Sometimes the best and most helpful AskMe answer is "you're being an ass and should probably stop being an ass, here are some things you can do instead."
posted by corb at 8:40 AM on July 5, 2018 [8 favorites]


While I think this is sometimes a real thing...sometimes also people just ask questions in Ask that reveal they are doing a terrible thing, and it's not because people are reading it uncharitably, it's because the thing is indeed terrible.

Or more generally, they don't want to read certain kinds of responses. I think if you post an AskMe, it's better to read all the answers. If it's the kind of question that gets a lot of replies, often some of the best answers come in time, out of a synthesis of the earlier ones. Someone will take a reply that seems unfriendly or extreme, and extract what is good from it, and give a really helpful answer. You could say that you might as well skip the original reply and wait for the more tempered version, I guess. But if it's an answer that could be make by a reasonable person-- and not the sort of derailing bullshit that should be deleted by a moderator anyway-- it may turn out to be useful.
posted by BibiRose at 9:32 AM on July 5, 2018 [3 favorites]


All of which, to me, is a good argument for a optional killfile - I don't think the concern here is that people asking questions will killfile users who they expect to give them combative advice, it's to stop two different commenters getting into it over just how combative of an answer is OK.
posted by sagc at 9:36 AM on July 5, 2018


I am kill-filing you because I keep trying & failing to sing "Two unicycles and some duct tape" to that Beck song.

It just doesn't scan, does it? Seems like it should but it just. doesn't.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 5:33 PM on July 5, 2018 [4 favorites]


Two one wheelers and sticky roll
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:20 PM on July 5, 2018 [6 favorites]


Sometimes the best and most helpful AskMe answer is "you're being an ass and should probably stop being an ass, here are some things you can do instead."
See, I think you'd be being an ass by offering that comment, if the OP wasn't originally asking for feedback on how ass'y their behavior was.
posted by Jon44 at 7:31 PM on July 5, 2018 [4 favorites]


Hmm. Coming in way late here, but I don’t have any of these problems on MetaFilter. Sure, some replies are off, and people occasionally get into pissing matches, but I do have the Back button and the scrolly thing on the right side of the screen...

I think something that prevents me from seeing patterns of bad behavior is that, unlike Usenet or even email, the names of commenters here are at the bottom of the message. I think, for me at least, this has contributed more to me paying attention to the message first, rather than to the messenger.
posted by lhauser at 7:46 PM on July 5, 2018 [2 favorites]


Accordingly, I really feel like allowing people to mute answers they think are unhelpful is...just kind of not a great idea. Sometimes the best and most helpful AskMe answer is "you're being an ass and should probably stop being an ass, here are some things you can do instead."

It will be pretty self-limiting though. If you're asking questions that reveal you're sort of an ass and then you mute the people who tell you "Hey this maybe isn't such a great idea for $REASONS...." you'd find your future AskMes to be pretty sparsely populated I suspect.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 7:05 AM on July 6, 2018 [1 favorite]


Is this thread going to stay empty forever? Weird.
posted by bologna on wry at 11:48 AM on July 6, 2018 [6 favorites]


Look, its a hard question and I'm not claiming to have all the answers. I'm glad that so many Mefites are putting real effort into contemplating, addressing and discussing this. Sometimes we all have to be willing to think outside the box, both as individuals and as a community.

You can totally sing "Two unicycles and some duct tape" 🎵to 🎵the 🎵tune 🎵of 🎵the, 🎵New 🎵Poll🎵u🎵tion!
posted by I'm always feeling, Blue at 7:21 PM on July 8, 2018 [1 favorite]


ook: "(Heh! FWIW I'd completely forgotten about Den Beste; I had a different proudly wrong guy in mind.)"

BTW, if you missed it, den Beste passed away about a year and a half ago.
posted by Chrysostom at 11:13 PM on July 9, 2018


Holy crap, I thought he was taking a break or just using a new login! Crap. Dammit. 2016 seems to keep on taking and it is 2018.

Fuck.

.
posted by jadepearl at 2:08 AM on July 10, 2018


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