MetaHelpfulNewPostsAdvice July 6, 2018 1:13 PM   Subscribe

Earlier today in a thread, there was a comment from Quackles:
“I know this is slightly off-topic, but as someone who hasn't made a post on MetaFilter yet, do you have any advice on what to consider, uh... worthy? I suspect I am beset by the same anxiousness.”
I know that we have the FAQ (lots of helpful advice in there), but I thought it'd be nice to just have a place to discuss how to ease into making a first post. People can share their tips, their suggestions, their own experiences making a post, finding out it was a double, or how some posts just don't fly and how some just take off into weird and wonderful places. General MetaHelpfulness with putting something out there for the community to engage with. Please share if you feel so inclined.
posted by Fizz to MetaFilter-Related at 1:13 PM (49 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

*I did also ask permission from Quackles before using this comment as a spring-board for the MetaTalk thread, Quackles kindly said yes. Thanks to Quackles.*
posted by Fizz at 1:18 PM on July 6 [2 favorites]

These are the guidelines I set for myself. I don't post *that* much, but I think they've served me pretty well.

- You can post it yourself!
MetaFilter trusts you so much, they don't even have a waiting period before front-page posts are displayed.

- Avoid breaking news.
Most developing stories would benefit from a week's wait.

- Share what's interesting; it doesn't have to be "important."
Less obviously "important" (as in immediately pressing or wide ranging in impact) topics are my favorites. Something that makes you go "oh, neat" is totally worthy.

- Keep it manageable for yourself and the reader.
Don't knock the single-link post.

- Make the FPP the object for discussion, not just an excuse for one.
It's best if the link(s) contain(s) something for others to chew on, rather than just being a prompt for discussion. This is easier to achieve if you avoid breaking news or very broad topics.

- Seek out topics about which most MeFites are unlikely to have pre-formed opinions.
Things go better when commenters can't just storm in with a ready statement. Push them to read the bloody article, even if they don't wanna.

- Your FPP doesn't have to meet every audience's needs.
Give yourself a pat on the back for posting. You shared something important to you. Others can do the same. Flag the grumps.
posted by cichlid ceilidh at 1:51 PM on July 6 [17 favorites]

Metafilter: flag the grumps
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 1:56 PM on July 6 [8 favorites]

Seek out topics about which most MeFites are unlikely to have pre-formed opinions.

Good luck with that.
posted by Melismata at 2:06 PM on July 6 [6 favorites]

If you're looking at a topic you think might be difficult or fighty, here's a discussion about "what makes a good post"

And looking farther back -- Posting to the Front Page: You Can Do It Too! back in Sept. 2015 for First Post September (recap/ follow-up thread)

It's been a while since I was a first-time poster, but I remember wanting my first post to be something perfect and wonderful, but then I saw some news that sounded pretty awesome ... but it was premature. My second post about another thing that didn't come to actually take place.

Lesson learned: as cichlid ceilidh noted, stay away from breaking news.

And I've posted a few things where the discussion went sideways fast, or I felt like I was criticized for what I posted. For the most part, I try to stick to the notion that once I've posted something, it's not "my post" any more, but part of MetaFilter. This idea helps me step back and avoid from replying to every comment, trying to defend my posts.

Similarly, you should generally avoid editorializing, but this is not a hard-and-fast rule, though it shouldn't feel like you're shilling a product.

If you're like me and feel like you have to cover the topic well, try to shake it off because 1) no one has time to read through that many links, and 2) let other people provide additions to the topic - you're not writing the end-all be-all narrative or history. What are the additional links really providing?

Also, avoid mystery links, not only for current readers, but also those in the future who might come across a dead link and want to find where the link lead.

Parting suggestion: don't be afraid to share interesting facts about your hometown or where you currently live. It's a great way to learn more about the history and context of where you are.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:10 PM on July 6 [4 favorites]

I often find the subjects of my posts from books I've read or other offline things. Then I go looking around for something online to share with people about the topic. This usually means the topics I post about are something that aren't in the general zeitgeist which I think is useful. Sometimes they're just not that interesting to people which, hey, it happens, but other times it's "Oh hey I didn't know that, neat!" I usually post when I have a little bit of time to make sure a thread goes ok for the first comment or three and then head out. I don't comment early in a thread unless there's some clarification that needs to happen. I flag early and often if someone is threadshitting.

I know I am not the only one, but I'd be more than happy to give someone a second set of eyes on their post if they want a long-timer's opinions on how it might be received or whether it seems like a good post in my subjective opinion.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 2:20 PM on July 6 [6 favorites]

My first fpp was a single link to people seriously over thinking the Cars universe.

I too was nervous about posting, but really you don't need to wait for something amazing. I have about 30 fpps and I think all of them are single links to stuff I've found funny or interesting. I mean you could spend ages crafting a long multi-link post or you could just link to one article. My personal preference when reading the site is towards single link posts, so that's what I like to post.

Just do it. :)
posted by Literaryhero at 2:30 PM on July 6 [1 favorite]

If you're like me and feel like you have to cover the topic well, try to shake it off because 1) no one has time to read through that many links, and 2) let other people provide additions to the topic - you're not writing the end-all be-all narrative or history. What are the additional links really providing?

This is a good point. I sometimes include links that might be a bit duplicative, but that’s just to guard against link rot.

But yeah! Once it’s posted, you’re kind of sending off into the universe, come what may. I sometimes keep an eye on it for the first few minutes to flag the occasional 30-seconds-later-did-not-RTFA threadshit, but then I try to just leave it alone for a few hours or a day and come back to see what kind of discussion’s developed.

And as others have said, there’s nothing wrong with a single-link post!

Similarly, you should generally avoid editorializing, but this is not a hard-and-fast rule, though it shouldn't feel like you're shilling a product.

Personally, I’m a big fan of leaving the editorializing to direct quotes, etc., from the links in the FPP and keeping my original language around it as non-opinionated as possible, saving my own editorializing for the comments. ‘Cuz boy howdy do I have opinions, but sticking them in an FPP itself is something I’m not comfortable with.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 2:32 PM on July 6 [2 favorites]

- Make the FPP the object for discussion, not just an excuse for one.
It's best if the link(s) contain(s) something for others to chew on, rather than just being a prompt for discussion. This is easier to achieve if you avoid breaking news or very broad topics.

This is sometimes tricky to do if you, like jessamyn (and me!) tend to get FPP ideas by discovering something cool that... may or may not be currently on the internet in accessible form. (I often have these responses to things I read in books, see on a documentary, or hear from podcasts.) I've done several FPPs that are basically the result of me reading something, wanting to share it, and throwing a whole bunch of kind of terrible summaries of different aspects of the Cool Thing because those are what's available. When I do that, I treat those as kind of citations for the points I want to make about the Cool Thing, so that people see those points and can react to them.

Those FPPs have tended to go down very well; they're usually not ones that spark a ton of comments but they're very well received regardless. Here are a few examples of those. Don't necessarily expect everyone to read every single link, but they're great as a place to share something super cool and maybe chat about it.

Honestly, I've noticed a lot of folks going "I saw this and I figured it was worth sharing" lately as #hopefulsummer encourages us all to try new things, and while that isn't the current style I really like it. I see it and I think "Oh, hey, there's someone who is just trying this thing out!" and I think "I wonder what they brought?" I wouldn't worry too much about perfectly crafting your early fpps--I think it's more important just to give it a shot. My first FPP ever got deleted completely; my second one got very little response. That's okay. I got better at it, and you will too. Everyone who posts a lot of FPPs develops a sort of house style over time, but you won't get that without some practice and some time experimenting to see what sticks.
posted by sciatrix at 2:45 PM on July 6 [2 favorites]

Just because you don't get a lot of comments it doesn't mean people didn't appreciate your post. Sometimes there just isn't much to discuss other than "yes, this thing is good."

Don't post about anything you're really passionate about unless you're quite sure people aren't going to tell you the thing you love is actually bad or you're quite sure you can handle it if they do.

It's perfectly fine to post nothing but, say, a link to a 19 second YouTube video, as long as it's a really good 19 second video.

If you find it interesting, post it. Someone else will also find it interesting.

Don't compare your posts to others. You don't have to tell a story or find a million supporting links. Some people are good at that, some of us just like to post dumb videos. Different posts for different folks. (hey, I just made that up!)

Everyone loves videos of little kids rocking out on the drums to classic rock bands. 'cept there will be that one guy who doesn't. Ignore that guy.
posted by bondcliff at 3:04 PM on July 6 [5 favorites]

Metafilter: Ignore that guy.
posted by Melismata at 3:16 PM on July 6 [3 favorites]

I've posted things I really like from Projects and think it would be a neat way for nervous folks to ease in!
posted by lalex at 3:39 PM on July 6 [8 favorites]

I often see cool things online and assume that they've been posted to Metafilter already, perhaps years before. Sometimes I actually check and am surprised to find that's not the case. There's a ton of cool stuff here, but there's a whole lot more cool stuff out in the world! If you find something cool, there's a decent chance it hasn't been shared here yet! SHARE THE THING!
posted by duffell at 4:40 PM on July 6 [3 favorites]

I lurked for over a year, read everything posted, realized that lots of posts were of interest to me, took a deep breath and posted something simple. And it was okay! And there were congrats on my first post! Sometimes the topic takes off and goes in many directions that surprise me. Sometimes there's one or two comments that are basically "nice post." And that's okay. I seldom weigh in once I've posted as I'm more interested in what others have to say. I've had some deleted by mods because I seemed to want to personalize some posts, which is a no-no. I'm still fighting that impulse but I'm getting better. I seldom add more than one or two links in the body of the post because I get tangled up and have to keep starting over (some multi-link posts awe me). Most people are very kind so post away and enjoy
posted by MovableBookLady at 5:01 PM on July 6 [4 favorites]

I just wait until something interesting pops up somewhere else, link the main bit then maybe throw a little explanatory link in there as well, and make the body of the post be predominantly a quote from wherever it is I'm linking from. I add an extremely witty title (sometimes this is a quote as well, but sometimes not) and then I post and check for comments obsessively for the next three days.
posted by h00py at 5:20 PM on July 6 [2 favorites]

Don't overthink it and just make a post. Post about something you like or find interesting. Post something you know about. Don't post an axe-grinding piss and moaning type post. A positive post is better than a negative post. Try not to post anything "newsy" about current events because there is someone 10x more into it than you and "Hey, yeah, this is kind of thin for a post, let's wait a bit when there is more about it." Don't rush to post. Posts about cats are always good. Post and think of your post as bread cast upon the water. Post and don't look back. Emily Post. C.W. Post. Post no bills.
posted by Rob Rockets at 6:01 PM on July 6 [5 favorites]

I want to say one word to you. Just one word. Are you listening?


Can't go wrong with dogs. Think about it. Will you think about it?
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 8:11 PM on July 6 [10 favorites]

I wish we had fewer dog posts.

(jk but more cats, please.)
posted by greermahoney at 9:19 PM on July 6 [2 favorites]

MetaFilter is a diverse world, though the demographic is perhaps less of a wild party crowd and trends more perhaps towards a nice ramble in the woods, then staying in with a bottle of something, some guacamole and cheese dips, and a good book, game or laptop (to browse MetaFilter!).

Bearing this in mind, from FPP-making trial and (much) error the domains which seem to be 'happy triggers' for many MeFites include, with examples of posts where there's been a pleasant conversation:
- Nature and the great outdoors (personally wish there were more 'here is a nice tree' posts, because trees).
- Food (that which is familiar and tastes good to many).
- Nostalgia (especially from the 70s through to the 90s because of that MeFite demographic).
- Culture (whatever the zeitgeist is).
- Domestic quirks (especially if kinky and/or just plain weird).
- Cats.
- Some combination of these (e.g. nostalgic culture or culture about nostalgia).

But you can (and should!) go for things that interest you, even if these are very niche things. Your post may only result in a handful of comments, but those will often be MeFites who will be silently airpunching while going "Yes! Someone else is into the same thing as I am, and they've posted something interesting about it that I didn't know!" Annoyingly most of the links in this one don't work now, but although there was only five comments, the backchannel feedback indicated it brought great delight to a few.

The comment 'A positive post is better than a negative post' by Rob Rockets is also especially true, as is 'Flag the grumps'.
posted by Wordshore at 10:18 PM on July 6 [7 favorites]

It’s hard, but try not to care about the number of comments your post gets. It has nothing to do with the quality of your post. My most favorite FFPs, the ones that I’m most proud of, regularly have the fewest comments.
posted by not_the_water at 10:50 PM on July 6 [2 favorites]

I wish I knew. I struggle with wondering: Is this rich enough for a post? Is it too Australia- centric? Will it cause too much fighting?

For instance, some posts I've considered making, but didn't: posted by daybeforetheday at 1:26 AM on July 7 [3 favorites]

This is a great thread, thanks! I'm also a never-poster with a first post in the works, and this is the prefect place to ask my question. I want to make a post about a certain illustrator, and I really want to link a fantastic interview he did in a book. However, the only source I can find is on Scribd, which allows me to read the chapter with his interview, but only (I think) because I haven't tried to preview any more books lately (I do not have a subscription). I can't tell if anyone linked to that chapter can read it, or if someone who has used Scribd for something else this month (?) will be shut out.

Should I go ahead and use the interview link? Perhaps with a caveat?
posted by lollymccatburglar at 1:55 AM on July 7 [1 favorite]

daybeforetheday, I like all of those links and I think (clearly not a mod or an expert, just a regular ole US American MeFite) that all of them would have made good FFPs.
posted by cooker girl at 6:32 AM on July 7 [2 favorites]

> I wish I knew. I struggle with wondering: Is this rich enough for a post? Is it too Australia- centric? Will it cause too much fighting?

I really appreciate you sharing this because I think we've ALL been there, and it's a very comforting feeling knowing we ALL worry about this kind of stuff.

But just do it anyway. Go wild. Here's the thing -- we'll never ever ever ever please everyone. People love to pick things apart or be dismissive. That's NOT a problem with your post or a referendum on you. That's just the way a site like this works with various and sundry members, some of whom are just damn grumpy. Like said above, flag the grumps and move on.

Hope some lurkers and first-time posters are coming out of the woodwork. DO EEEET! We need ya!
posted by bologna on wry at 7:13 AM on July 7 [6 favorites]

I wish I knew. I struggle with wondering: Is this rich enough for a post? Is it too Australia- centric? Will it cause too much fighting?

Part of it, I think, is understanding what is a "safe" post for MetaFilter and what is not. I mean, no post is totally safe from threadshitting and drive-by randos, but there are some topics that will likely go well and others where the phrasing of the post is a lot more crucial to how it goes.

So for example: "Here is a nice tree" posts tend to go fine. Someone might show up and be like "But global warming" or something similar (which may be a fine comment depending on the specific topic) but generally speaking people share information and aren't all pre-het-up about the topic. Anything about gun control is a lot dicier.

Whether that should be the case or not, it's true that the same old people will show up to rehash the same old fights no matter how you frame the post specifically. And mods will keep an eye out for threadshitting but not all grar-y comments are necessarily threadshitting. Which isn't to say don't post it! But which is to say if you're particularly sensitive to how a thread goes, those threads are more likely to be a bumpy ride. And bumpy rides are fine! And often they are popular. But careful phrasing to make a post as much about whatever the linked content is and less a referendum about the larger topic tend to make it go better.

So to your example, daybeforetheday, I think the first topic is a great and interesting one and would make a great post. At the same time, if it were me (and I have a particular style) I'd make a post without editorial phrasing (even if true!) and skip words like laughably and punitive, or just use a quote from one of the articles to talk about what bullshit this situation is. Because as people often say here: saying "This is interesting/cool" is usually a better jumping off point for a post than "This is terrible/sucks" Trust the community to see the truth of a situation.

There are differences of opinion about how much "This sucks" types of posts make the balance work here. No one wants a MeFi that is all puppy and kitty posts (sorry Johnny) but no one wants one that is all people fighting about everything always, for that we have Twitter. And being realistic about the people who are frequently here, not just presuming if it's a really good post, they will all be their best selves. They won't. People have their ups and downs and this community is too large to try to encourage all people to not be grumps because a certain topic is too important to devolve into stupid bullshit. Stupid bullshit will happen, a little.

I love the Pride video but I am a sucker for that sort of thing always and forever. And I would love more Australia-centric content.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 7:28 AM on July 7 [2 favorites]

My Tips:

1. You will post a double at some point in your life.
2. People will misunderstand things.
3. This is ok.
4. Post about things that bring you joy.
5. Be kind.
6. Keep posting.
7. :-)
posted by Fizz at 8:28 AM on July 7 [8 favorites]

I want to hear about gun control in other countries! That sounds like it could be a great topic if we American MeFites can be encouraged to center Australian context instead of derailing everything into what we're doing. If you go ahead with that--and I agree, I think it would be a fine FPP--I would encourage you to hang out and flag shit that feels deraily.

I would suggest that if you wanted to do that one, framing it with at least one sentence highlighting Australia specificity will help prime at least some folks to focus on a non American context. I often find that you can forestall some of that tendency to be fighty by carefully including a sentence to emphasize each of the things you hope that people will take aaway from the links or focus on in discussion. I have a comment somewhere about exactly how I do this on the Grey that I'll dig out when I'm not on mobile.

That Pride video looks really good, too! One of my favorite recent FPPs was actually a similar video, posted by itself. I would be happy to see things like that more often. I love cute animal shit, but I actually like cute queer posts even better. They're harder to find elsewhere, for one thing.

Remember, if you do bring something here and it begins not going well, you can totally flag comments that are beginning to take a thread bad places like a petty crabby person--and now you can add a little reason! They might or might not be deleted, but I find that on balance when something aggravates me enough to go 'nuke that with fire,' mods tend to agree. (I flag a lot of things I think are really marginal, too, so that mods are aware that it's happening even if I don't think it needs intervention yet.)

I would totally offer the Scribd link, possibly with a caveat, and I would in particular check to see if incognito windows work for it. You may get some complaining, but if you warn for it (possibly under the cut) this is less likely to happen. My line in the sand for paywalls is that if it is possible to get behind it without paying at least if you're new, I'm fine with linking.
posted by sciatrix at 8:39 AM on July 7 [1 favorite]

daybeforetheday, I would happily read every post you listed. I think MF tends to be focused on the US because we Americans outnumber everyone else, but MeFites popup in MetaTalk threads on occasion wishing for more non-American posts and some of these MeFites are Americans wishing for more non-American posts. Also, some of us (me) have a huge crush on Australia even though we have never been there and so would be thrilled to hear more about it (also: Hong Kong, Canada, and every other nation where MeFites are located, in all seriousness). I once had a duplicated deleted. It did not kill me. There is no shame in few comments or duplicates, or missing links to related, previous posts (which has happened to me and I felt ridiculously bad about it at first). MetaFilter: It's a fine place to practice being human, which is to say not perfect. Go for it!
posted by Bella Donna at 10:23 AM on July 7 [1 favorite]

Just post the things! Be neutral about what you're presenting and don't try to steer people's discussion. Make the post and step away for an hour. Don't post anything that involves an opinion you're going to want to defend in discussion. In fact, don't post "to generate discussion". Post to share things worth sharing.

Doubles get deleted, oh well. If it's a really old double they might let it stand. If you even get zero comments, remember that MeFi is read by many more people than just members, and someone probably saw your post and found it worthwhile even if they couldn't or didn't comment on it.

But really, just post the things.
posted by hippybear at 12:23 PM on July 7 [3 favorites]

OK fine! I'll make my first post and be done with this burden.
posted by tedious at 1:39 PM on July 7 [9 favorites]

It’s like a potluck party, or a byob event. Bring what you like. What you do best. What you can afford. Don’t worry about pleasing the crowd. Beans are good. Also wine. All of us could use our horizons expanded. Or another helping of really good home cooking. This metaphor is creaking under its own weight but I think the point is clear.
posted by chavenet at 2:05 PM on July 7 [4 favorites]

Remember the gotta/should/must rule:
“Oh, you gotta see this!” — probably a good MeFi post
“People should know about this...” — might be a good MeFi post; consider fleshing it out
“This must be discussed!” — probably not a good MeFi post (or at least, might be fighty NewsFilter, so consider whether you’re ready for that)
posted by Etrigan at 2:28 PM on July 7 [3 favorites]

I did it!

It was a lot harder than I thought.
posted by tedious at 2:55 PM on July 7 [12 favorites]

Great first tedious!! :D
posted by Fizz at 3:03 PM on July 7 [1 favorite]

My first FPP was done with help of another Mefite. Shout out to Hippybear. Don't be afraid to ask for help from the community.
posted by Splunge at 3:42 PM on July 7 [3 favorites]

Also, importantly, don't fret about trying to make your post comprehensive. That does not matter at all. People can always bring other complementary / supplementary content in, via the comments. To re-use the potluck analogy; you provide one or a few dishes as host - other, random, MeFites turn up with random dishes. Maybe a nice dessert, or a side salad, or a wheel of cheese of unknown provenance. But the key, the important, thing is to get the post up (or, get the potluck rolling) so that others can comment (bring extra food).
posted by Wordshore at 4:21 PM on July 7 [3 favorites]

Also, importantly, don't fret about trying to make your post comprehensive.

Sometimes you want a light snack to nibble on, and other times you want the buffet. As Wordshore said, what's important is to bring that food to the table!
posted by Fizz at 4:35 PM on July 7 [2 favorites]

don't fret about trying to make your post comprehensive.[…] People can always bring other complementary / supplementary content in, via the comments.

Hell, I rely on it.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 5:04 PM on July 7 [2 favorites]

Is it on the internet? Do you think it's cool?

I'm mostly a single-link poster, so those are the qualifications for me. If it's a double, oh well, that means someone else thought it was cool too. If you end up getting a bunch of posts deleted for being shitty, well, maybe you need to reevaluate what you find cool. But most likely that won't be your problem. Post things you like, and this place gets better. That's about it.
posted by Errant at 5:39 PM on July 7

There have been some awesome first posts the last day or so!! I'm so happy this is happening!!
posted by Fizz at 8:11 PM on July 7 [3 favorites]

daybeforetheday, good post!

And for anyone concerned about being too (somewhere) focused, don't fret! MetaFilter is an international community, and the less US-centric content the better, IMO. The semi-recent French-language post went well. Here's a MeTa from 2013 about non-English content - in short, it's okay, but may have less comments.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:36 PM on July 7 [4 favorites]

I vote just making one and if it gets deleted then try again.
posted by schroedinger at 1:02 PM on July 8 [2 favorites]

Is linking a book or two from Project Gutenberg okay for an FPP? Asking for future reference.
posted by redrawturtle at 8:56 PM on July 8

redrawturtle, has been linked to in 206 prior posts at the time of writing this comment. You're good to go!

Out of curiousity, what was your concern linking to the site?
posted by filthy light thief at 12:31 PM on July 9

I will of course be happy to be contacted via MeMail if people want help with making a post!

I will say, I work in a warehouse 8-5 Pacific Time and am utterly not on MetaFilter then. I am on in the evenings for a few hours and a bit in the morning before work.

So, if you can use some help that would work for you during those hours, get in touch via MeMail. I'm responsive when I can be.
posted by hippybear at 9:46 PM on July 9

And for anyone concerned about being too (somewhere) focused, don't fret! MetaFilter is an international community, and the less US-centric content the better, IMO.

I once offered a prize for people making non-US-centric posts and mailed out little watercolor paintings to all the winning posts!

Yay for non-US-centric MetaFilter posts!
posted by hippybear at 9:48 PM on July 9 [1 favorite]

Thanks, filthy light thief. It's a little unclear to me, but my concern may have been whether the material was accessible enough for people on mobile devices. I'm thinking now of linking to both the desktop version and mobile version of any given book in a potential post, clearly marking the links out as such; that might work.
posted by redrawturtle at 2:41 AM on July 11

Just wanted to add that the search you brought up is reassuring; I at least know it's a place I can link to irregardless of the mobile/desktop bit.
posted by redrawturtle at 3:49 AM on July 11

A reminder from my own haste: don't rush to post something. Write it, stand back and read it again, then maybe get a cuppa tea/ coffee/ water, and when you return, re-read it to make sure you didn't say the same thing twice.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:30 AM on July 16

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