Request to admins to just have weekly or even daily resets of the megath July 28, 2018 8:44 AM   Subscribe

From M-x shell on the most current megathread: "Request to admins to just have weekly or even daily resets of the megathread. Not wait for a user to make them, just make them automatically and close previous ones. I don't need another recap of links every time. Each thread should just have a link to previous one at the top and link to next one at the bottom."

Since this nightmare is never going to end and this issue isn't going to get better, I agree that the easiest way to facilitate this is to just have a rollover every week at the minimum. I like the link roundups but if they take someone a few hours to put together another thread every time, we can live without them, especially since the thread is already a catchall of all the daily drama and people post links to that as is.

(I apologize to M-x shell if they wanted to post this themselves, but I totally second the question and think we need to address it and if nobody else has posted it here as requested yet and I'm still diddling around the house this morning, what the hell.)
posted by jenfullmoon to Feature Requests at 8:44 AM (181 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

My own feeling about this is, I don't want automated thread rollover. I don't feel like new threads need to be encyclopedic link roundups, so there shouldn't be this anxiety about who "owns" an upcoming thread or that kind of thing. But I think it's good to have the natural gating effect that slows older threads down when there isn't a pressing new thing.

When the thread gets over-long and creaky, it serves as a natural brake on the kind of chatty hangout type commenting that we're trying to decrease anyway. Whenever a new thread goes up there's a rush of fairly noisy comments -- which are fine, as always nobody's doing anything *wrong* but still, it's not ideal to kick it off with two or three dozen comments that are in effect "hi, I'm here, how are you guys? fuck these fuckers" and then repeating links from the previous thread. It revives the sense that those threads are just a forever chatroom, which is exactly what we *don't* want. So, on a day like today which is pretty quiet newswise so far (knock wood), it's fine for the thread to just be slow. There's not a big rush and if some news happens then someone will be moved to post.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 8:55 AM on July 28, 2018 [21 favorites]


I'm too traditionalist to fully go in on posts without external links, but I really agree with at least the spirit of this request.

At the very least it'd be nice to get some official approval of just making new threads be a link to someone else's roundup, like those at WTF Just Happened Today or What a Day.
posted by lalex at 8:59 AM on July 28, 2018 [3 favorites]


When the thread gets over-long and creaky, it serves as a natural brake on the kind of chatty hangout type commenting that we're trying to decrease anyway.

I 100% get the reasoning here but imo in practice, intentionally letting threads degrade into unusability is exclusionary towards people who use mobile devices or not-so-new computers as their primary device for financial or accessibility reasons.
posted by lalex at 9:09 AM on July 28, 2018 [45 favorites]


Not to mention us weird fucks with 300+ tabs open at any given time
posted by Freelance Demiurge at 9:14 AM on July 28, 2018 [11 favorites]


When threads get really long, people get shut out of the discussion. Consequently, when a new thread is made after a really long one, people will discuss the things that happened at the end of the old thread. They weren't there (because they couldn't be) for whatever went down at the end of the thread, so we get repeated arguments, duplicated news posts, and stale jokes.

I think it is better to go with a new thread sooner. I don't think we are saving anything by letting a thread go on too long.
posted by Quonab at 9:51 AM on July 28, 2018 [20 favorites]


I am against the never ending mega threads on politics, but understand why it's happening, so I am glad to have the option to hide politics. I am super against moving in any direction that isn't users making threads. If your phone or computer can't load the threads, make a new one. Don't have any links that justifies a new one, well...
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 10:01 AM on July 28, 2018 [15 favorites]


I usually have twenty or so tabs in my browser, my laptop is a couple of years old, and the megathread gives me serious issues when it gets too long. Even now, using a brand new Surface Pro with only that thread in another tab, I'm having issues. i understand why the mods wouldn't want automated thread rollover, but I think that the the comment limit and the bar for a new post should both be lowered.
posted by Ruki at 10:08 AM on July 28, 2018 [3 favorites]


"Request to admins to just have weekly or even daily resets of the megathread. Not wait for a user to make them, just make them automatically and close previous ones. I don't need another recap of links every time. Each thread should just have a link to previous one at the top and link to next one at the bottom."

Daily resets seem like they would move things in a chattier direction, which moderators are on record as not wanting. And I like the recap of links--I think they make the posts more valuable as historical documents, and they help people who might not be as obsessed with the news cycle as I am. I don't think we need links to the next thread (because all these threads peter out with people commenting 'NEW THREAD NEW THREAD NEW THREAD), but a link to the previous one would be useful.

I do agree that lowering the comment-count threshold where we start saying 'Hmm, is it time for a new post?' might be helpful.

(Folks who have trouble loading posts with lots of comments might consider using the classic or plain themes, if they're not already doing that.)
posted by box at 10:14 AM on July 28, 2018 [4 favorites]


I think there's already a general sense of when we need a new thread, it's just hard to know if someone's started assembling one (unless they announce it in-thread).
posted by snuffleupagus at 10:26 AM on July 28, 2018


One part of the current arrangement that I find valuable is the way that each new megathread is typically triggered by a new installment in the "can you believe these fucking fuckers" timeline - the old thread gets wooly, but a new one isn't really necessary until the most recent travesty is obviously going to provoke 500 new comments.

For those of us who have to periodically duck out of the megathreads to preserve our sanity, that setup provides a pretty good balance between mental health and staying informed and makes it a lot easier to jump back in and get up to date relatively quickly. Meanwhile, the collection of all the actual-OP headers of all the megathreads forms a pretty important gloss of the history of the crisis, which feels like something worth preserving (as opposed to just having "Megathread XXLIV" with a link to that day's WTF Happened or whatever).
posted by range at 11:23 AM on July 28, 2018 [12 favorites]


Or to put it another way, the release timing of the megathreads is becoming a tangible "It has been ____ days since the last threat to the foundations of Western Civilization" and that's, I think, a really useful side-feature.
posted by range at 11:25 AM on July 28, 2018 [8 favorites]


How’s pagination looking as a technical solution these days?
posted by Artw at 11:45 AM on July 28, 2018 [8 favorites]


I'd rather not have machine-posting to metafilter.

Just in case people don't know, a number of the greasemonkey (or whatever they are called now) scripts really may slow down longer threads -- the script that "navigates" in particular.
posted by Rumple at 11:55 AM on July 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


Also this situation isn't going to last forever. Either the Cheeto and his GOP minions/enablers will be out (hopefully for a long time) or he'll kick off WWIII. Either way 5000 comments on American politics a week will wind down.
posted by Mitheral at 12:45 PM on July 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


Freelance Demiurge: "Not to mention us weird fucks with 300+ tabs open at any given time"

I'll have you know I've been working at it, and I now only have like 20 or so Metafilter tabs from 2017.
posted by Chrysostom at 12:45 PM on July 28, 2018 [27 favorites]


How’s pagination looking as a technical solution these days?

I still don't understand why pagination is such a no-no on Metafilter.
posted by Pendragon at 1:01 PM on July 28, 2018


Because pagination discourages people from reading the whole thread.
posted by Mitheral at 1:04 PM on July 28, 2018 [7 favorites]


2000+ comments does a pretty good job of that on its own. If there isn’t a perf issue then it should be added as soon as possible.
posted by Artw at 1:38 PM on July 28, 2018 [5 favorites]


Mama don't allow no robots posting here.
posted by adamvasco at 2:43 PM on July 28, 2018 [5 favorites]


Programmatically changing the site's functionality to benefit one use case that only continues to exist due to the benevolence of the mods seems like a very large ask.
posted by kimberussell at 2:53 PM on July 28, 2018 [18 favorites]


Someone tried sometime similar recently (April) and it didn't go over well?

"This post was deleted for the following reason: Alright, the people have spoken: they want a post with one or more external links as per usual. -- goodnewsfortheinsane"
posted by slipthought at 3:08 PM on July 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


I too would be against the idea of automatic posting. MetaFilter is a human-centric site and I think it's important to hew closely to that principle. I'm fine with people manually making new politics posts more frequently though, if that is felt to be needed.

I agree that the politics megathreads should be seen as an exception to how MetaFilter normally works rather than as a new normal, and that the site should be changed as little as possible to support them. Automatic posting seems like a big change to site norms, to me.

If we want to fully support politics as a topic on MetaFilter, I think that the long-discussed creation of a PoliticsFilter subsite is the way to go. Give politics a home somewhere that's designed for it, rather than shoehorning in modifications to the Blue. I get why PoliticsFilter has never actually happened, though.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 3:14 PM on July 28, 2018 [5 favorites]


Also this situation isn't going to last forever. Either the Cheeto and his GOP minions/enablers will be out (hopefully for a long time) or he'll kick off WWIII. Either way 5000 comments on American politics a week will wind down.

Not forever, but getting to impeachment and then carrying it out isn't going to happen very rapidly even if it becomes possible. They must already be gearing up for the next general election so we'll see more stuff relating to that come up. So maybe years?

Plus big US political threads may be the new normal for MeFi, who knows whether there will be continued demand, even post-Trump?
posted by biffa at 3:42 PM on July 28, 2018 [3 favorites]


When the thread gets over-long and creaky, it serves as a natural brake on the kind of chatty hangout type commenting that we're trying to decrease anyway.

This is gross as hell, because it sounds like you’re relieved that people with bad computers or shitty internet access are having trouble participating at the same level as those who don’t have these problems.
posted by Etrigan at 4:48 PM on July 28, 2018 [29 favorites]


This is gross as hell, because it sounds like you’re relieved that people with bad computers or shitty internet access are having trouble participating at the same level as those who don’t have these problems.

I've a gaming computer with 32GB of RAM. A speedy SSD and CPU. Still, the megathreads get creaky and slow. The only solution is pagination.
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 4:54 PM on July 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


I don’t think the rarity argument really holds anymore. A few years back we’d talk about pagination not being needed because a 2000 comment thread only came along twice a year, now it’s twice a month like clockwork.
posted by Artw at 4:59 PM on July 28, 2018 [3 favorites]


Pagination would help, reducing the burden of posting new threads by sanctioning one-link threads would help.

Also maybe it's time to condense the political thread guidelines MetaTalk post into like, just the bullet points and put them up somewhere linkable. I just pasted that post into Google Docs and it's about 5.5 pages which is 5 pages too many for easy reading and reference.
posted by lalex at 5:03 PM on July 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


I think there are two separate but related things happening:

- When the thread gets extra long, some people have difficulty participating in it due to technical problems. A new thread solves this for them, and allows them to participate as usual. That's good.
- When there's a new thread, people rush into it not just because their computers can handle it now, but because it's new, and that creates extra work for moderators. That's not so good.

I feel like a solution, barring a technical fix like pagination, is to try to consistently create quick and dirty (even just single link) new threads before the existing ones top, say, 2,000 comments or whatever, but to apply some good human judgement as to the best timing to do that. Practically, that probably means letting a thread ride on over most weekends or during other slow times, but being better about creating new threads when things are busier.

And +1 for the classic theme, which doesn't solve all performance problems for everyone, but it helps a lot.
posted by zachlipton at 5:19 PM on July 28, 2018 [8 favorites]


What are the issues preventing people from posting a new thread themselves?
posted by the man of twists and turns at 5:27 PM on July 28, 2018 [6 favorites]


What are the issues preventing people from posting a new thread themselves?

For me, it's that the expectation seemed to be that a "good" megathread post is sort of a recap of recent events. With so much going on it's kind of an overwhelming task that can be a timesuck, and in my experience there's very little engagement "reward", for lack of a better word.

Mostly people aren't engaging with the specific articles posted because they generally know what's going on and/or the topics have already been introduced and are being discussed in the previous thread, since the megathreads are basically an up-to-the-minute continuum of What's Going On in American Politics.

We also have a ton of astute, engaged posters and so it's pretty hard to find a great fresh take that hasn't already been linked.

It's just really different from my typical experience on the blue when I post a cool thing that maybe people haven't seen or an interesting thing I think people might want to talk about.

Back when I was a heavier participant in those threads I did start making posts that were just a roundup link and a couple other things, but it felt a bit like "cheating" and I wonder if that's holding other folks back.
posted by lalex at 5:48 PM on July 28, 2018 [10 favorites]


What are the issues preventing people from posting a new thread themselves?

For me, I tend to assume someone who will do a better job already has one in the works. Or will by the time I put together something I feel is worthy.
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:49 PM on July 28, 2018 [4 favorites]


When you can't read the thread anymore because it's too long, it's hard to make a new post yourself because most likely your links have already been posted, but you wouldn't know that because you can't read the thread...
posted by Ruki at 7:13 PM on July 28, 2018 [23 favorites]


What are the issues preventing people from posting a new thread themselves?

It’s impossible on mobile for me. Commenting in the megathread alone often freezes things if I hit an errant backspace or, god forbid, use the auto html link generator. Posting a multi-link megathread from mobile? Forget it.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 7:48 PM on July 28, 2018 [7 favorites]


I think scraping already vetted good links from the trail of a long thread is good practice for making a new thread.

Doubles aren't that big a deal
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:27 PM on July 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


Do people RTFAs in these political megathreads? I don't get the impression that they do -- they're even more about the comment thread than FPPs usually are. I would be fine with the thinnest of posts starting off new political megathreads.

No robots, please, though. That way lies madness.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:17 PM on July 28, 2018 [4 favorites]


Not forever, but getting to impeachment and then carrying it out isn't going to happen very rapidly even if it becomes possible. They must already be gearing up for the next general election so we'll see more stuff relating to that come up. So maybe years?

A lot of my concerns about this is that THIS IS NOT GOING TO END any time soon or any time far. MAYBE in six years. Maybe not even then. Time isn't going to resolve this issue into anything anyone likes better.

I also second the issues with people's computers keeling over, the fact that it takes me hours (as a speed reader!) to make a big ol' post here when I do it (not often) and I think that's some barrier to rolling over for normal humans, and that those are issues that have carried on for 2 years and the population of MeFi doesn't seem to be that great at timing when to do a rollover (plus it has to be whoever's at a regular computer, more than one might be doing it, etc).
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:27 PM on July 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


I do not have an idea for a solution, sorry, but I absolutely do wish the thread wasn't so long. Even 1500 posts are making my android tablet choke. It takes minutes for it to load at all, and when it finally says it has, I have to scroll down to the bottom and it chokes on the amount of text. I am getting slightly better results using Ghostery, but on Chrome, even with different themes, it's not working well at all.
Is there a browser or something that would load the thread in text only, I mean in an absolute minimal format? I'm not sure even that would work but if it did at least I'd be able to read it to the end that way.
posted by Rufous-headed Towhee heehee at 11:18 PM on July 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


If you're on Android, try using Firefox. The long threads are mostly okay for me, even on old nonpremium hardware and with 100+ tabs open (not that that helps, but...) I do use ublock origin and noscript (but I allow metafilter). I don't use Ghostery (using it corresponded with slowness in the past, though I'm not sure it was the cause).

I have much worse results using Chrome.

The play store has text-only browsers for Android, though I've never tried any of them.
posted by trig at 12:20 AM on July 29, 2018 [3 favorites]


I totally get it that folks are unhappy with changing the basic FPP model of MeFi, but the growth of the megathread has happened organically in response to a drastic shift in externalities. For many of us it has become indispensable, in many ways more important than the original reason we came here. It used to be stimulation and entertainment. Now it is also survival and sanity. I wouldn't expect the mods to take on the Herculean task of creating a separate site. It seems to me that changing something of the basic model to include automated roll-overs and or pagination would not detract form MeFi as a whole, but would allow it to better serve this new, emergent, function.
posted by stonepharisee at 4:28 AM on July 29, 2018 [13 favorites]


Yes. Please. The resistance to this confuses me.
posted by agregoli at 7:19 AM on July 29, 2018 [6 favorites]


I think that pagination (or daily posts) would mean more people not reading the comments, which would lead to more noise--double-posting links and tweets, having the same argument for the n-teenth time, etc.--that would tend to drown out the useful information.

I also think that automated new posts, without links and content, would reduce the historical and informational value of political posts, and wouldn't reflect as accurately the ebbs and flows of the tide of bullshit.
posted by box at 7:57 AM on July 29, 2018


I rather like when we get to 2000 posts, wait for the next big flaming bag of poop to arrive on our doorsteps and then make a new potus45 using said newest flaming bag of poop as an anchor point.

Right now we're past 2300 comments in the current potus45 but there's also a lull in stupidity in the news because it's the weekend. You're not missing much except some meta and also the moderator team don't have to work as hard pruning off-topic discussion. Yeah we get some interesting tangential discussion happening but nothing up to the minute topical.

I think these lulls and attrition of thread length are important because it lets moderators have some time off from the ridiculous amount of work they have to do on "the thread" and also you can slow down and discuss things that won't fly when Trump's latest flaming poop bag has the thread flying at a billion miles an hour.
posted by Definitely Not Sean Spicer at 8:09 AM on July 29, 2018 [3 favorites]


Make them automated and also not show up on the front page? That sounds weird but would solve the problem of increased visibility bringing increased activity.

Very un-Metafilter, but so is automatic posts. No, I wouldn't expect this to come to pass but the last few years I've been consistently wrong about everything else so...
posted by ODiV at 8:14 AM on July 29, 2018 [1 favorite]


I'm in favor of keeping curated posts with links. I think they are useful now, and are going to be historically important someday. It's such a good record of what what is the news at that particular time, and what people thought was important. I don't know how the Trump administration ends (impeachment, 25th amendment, election, coup, suspension of elections and imposition of a hereditary monarchy?). But whatever happens, I think this is an historically important time, and posts themselves (and relevant links--even if the articles suffer from link rot someday, the descriptions are still useful) as well as the discussion surrounding them are a really great window into the times.

But one idea might be to have regular Metatalk post just to crowdsource links for the next post, and communitarily decide when the new one is needed.
posted by Emera Gratia at 8:17 AM on July 29, 2018 [5 favorites]


No, no, no. An automated FPP is exactly the opposite of MetaFilter—but it is exactly the sort of thing Facebook-Google-Twitter keep trying to promote. It's the difference between creating a community out of people and trying to construct one out of algorithms. (We can see how the latter doesn't work, but FGT's attempts to normalize it results in a lot of people outside the Blue coming around to the idea because That's Just How It's Done on the Web 2.0 Internet.) And if FGT's engineers haven't been able to do this right, how on earth can we impose on MeFi's staff when they're already stretched thin over the politics mega-threads?

Anyroad, I thought this MeTa was supposed to post on Monday, so I haven't drafted my thoughts. Since this thread's well under way, I'm just going to follow up on what's already been said.

Whenever a new thread goes up there's a rush of fairly noisy comments

Now imagine how badly this will go if there isn't some sort of FPP framing with selected news stories covering the important events since the previous one and the most recent developments breaking towards its end.

So, on a day like today which is pretty quiet newswise so far

The news is never quiet except on the front pages of mainstream media and the cable news top-of-the-hour summaries. What MeFites do so well in the politics mega-threads is dig deeper into current event beyond the first-take reporting and delve outside the news' conventional wisdom of what's going on.

At the very least it'd be nice to get some official approval of just making new threads be a link to someone else's roundup, like those at WTF Just Happened Today or What a Day.

Except a lot of people won't click through to those links and RTFA. This happens all the time with single-link FPPs, so imagine what it will be like with the US politics news.

"This post was deleted for the following reason: Alright, the people have spoken: they want a post with one or more external links as per usual. -- goodnewsfortheinsane"

We've been down this road before. Switching to an automated version will be worse.

One part of the current arrangement that I find valuable is the way that each new megathread is typically triggered by a new installment in the "can you believe these fucking fuckers" timeline

That's just an illusion of the newsvortex's constant churning. We could absolutely create a daily FPP on some angle on "can you believe these fucking fuckers" news. The underlying problem is that the news genuinely is constantly bad. Cable news' limited attention span can't process handle this, so it just runs a constantly updated chyron instead of contextualizing the Trump administration, and newspapers are still adjusting to the demands of the always-on Internet.

With so much going on it's kind of an overwhelming task that can be a timesuck

It's also emotionally draining, at least in my experience. (I don't have it in me any longer to compose two in a row.) There's emotional labor that goes into writing/researching these FPPs. I held off on making my first FPP because of the high standards others had set, and I did not expect how much they'd take out of me psychically.

I think scraping already vetted good links from the trail of a long thread is good practice for making a new thread.

That's definitely part of my process to composing a mega-politics FPP, typically for just the past couple of days for a time frame. (It's dismaying how the topics covered in the previous FPP are so often eclipsed by some new scandal or horrible development.) I also review WTF Happened Today and Google News for that period, look over magazines for roundup articles, and then check my feeds for recent developments and breaking news.

But one idea might be to have regular Metatalk post just to crowdsource links for the next post, and communitarily decide when the new one is needed.

This could certainly help, say, starting when the mega-thread hits 2,000 comments, with a notification that a MeTa is now open in the thread itself. A discussion of what the framing issues are would help distribute the cognitive workload. For instance, in this upcoming one, should we cover the looming possibility of a government shutdown and the recent attempts by Ryan and McConnell to negotiate with Trump in order to prevent it from coming to a head before the mid-terms? Do we want to address the Javenka media push, covered in the NYT and WaPo, in the context of Jared's security clearance setbacks and Ivanka's spate of public appearances with her father at official events? What of the recent developments about securing the mid-term elections from Russian information warfare and cyber attacks?
posted by Doktor Zed at 9:10 AM on July 29, 2018 [5 favorites]


I don't really care what solution we take as long as somebody creates a new thread as soon as possible because this one is just too long and needs to die and I don't understand why it's taking so long for somebody to make a new thread in this particular case. Usually I think there'd be a new thread by now.
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:14 AM on July 29, 2018 [2 favorites]


Thanks, jenfullmoon for doing this. I didn't have the gumption.

Pagination would lead to more chattiness

If I'm not mistaken, the problem with chattiness was the long threads. If the threads were shorter the chattiness wouldn't be a problem. That lightens the mods' workload. Pagination also saves server bandwidth, even with the Show More script, because for example I inevitably end up refreshing the whole page multiple times, usually because the page length broke things.

robots

Automation frees up our collective time that would have gone to creating hand-crafted FPPs. Saving one or more MeFites an hour or so every week or two adds up and is that much more time available for the resistance. If someone objects to a machine making the posts they can remember we made the machine and we can unmake it if we don't like it. A machine is showing you these very words right now!

I could personally hand-create a new thread every night. But if I had that responsibility, the first thing I would do is write a script running on my computer that does that for me, and it would be more reliable and higher quality. But of course in that case I'm sure the admins would prefer do that themselves. Either way, though, in the end product, no one would know the difference, unless they actually like the quaint phrasing or the kinds of small mistakes anyone would inevitably make. While I understand the allure of Wabi-Sabi in general as part of the delight of MetaFilter, I think the megathread can be a reasonable exception to that aesthetic.

curated FPPs

I don't particularly need curated FPPs. Since I read or skim every thread, I always skip the links at the top. For people that want to catch up, each post can just be a link to the previous thread. If people want a synopsis, the rest of the post (or one of the first comments) can be a dump of all the links from the previous thread. If people want a curated synopsis, there are further options.

also

I have been thinking of creating a thread with chronological list of links to all the megathreads. Where is the best place on MetaFilter for that? Or would people prefer I do that off-site? What do people recommend as a reasonable starting date? Are there any resources available to help me automate the search? Do the admins already have such a thing?

This is just a first step toward a personal project finding all the external links in those threads, eliminating trivial or outdated stuff, and compiling a long list of links I can send to family members and others to convince them that (1) the treason is real and (2) the nazis are real. large numbers of reasonable people literally do not know these things, so many of my political conversations just don't end well. At best, they say I need to send them the links. So I need to send them the links.

So I thought if I made that list of threads I may as well put it somewhere on MetaFilter where it might help others too.
posted by M-x shell at 9:18 AM on July 29, 2018 [6 favorites]


I don't really care what solution we take as long as somebody creates a new thread as soon as possible because this one is just too long and needs to die and I don't understand why it's taking so long for somebody to make a new thread in this particular case. Usually I think there'd be a new thread by now.

Because there's nothing really to discuss apart from Rudy's latest stupid and deep dives on spontaneous conversation.

Monday morning executive time there will probably more than enough new material to create a thread with.
posted by Definitely Not Sean Spicer at 9:20 AM on July 29, 2018 [2 favorites]


this one is just too long and needs to die and I don't understand why it's taking so long for somebody to make a new thread

How come you're not posting it? This is a totally non-snarky question (you'll notice I'm not posting one either), I've just been really interested to read the reasons why people shy away from making megathread posts.
posted by lalex at 9:31 AM on July 29, 2018 [2 favorites]


Put me down as disliking the politics megathreads. If they've become a regular feature of MetaFilter, and so very important and useful to some of us, I'd like to see a whole new section for them -- MetaPolitiTalk, or something. I seldom bother with them anymore, too depressing, too long and hardly the Best of the Web.
posted by Rash at 9:33 AM on July 29, 2018 [10 favorites]


I don't particularly need curated FPPs.

You may not, but plenty of other people do, and your skimming engagement with the mega-threads is not the same as many other Me-Fites'. I would suggest that you review what goes into the US politics FPPs, with particular note to past failed attempts. There's a long history to them with which you can acquaint yourself and take into consideration before recommending automation. Google, Facebook, and Twitter have been peddling this as a short-cut, and it hasn't worked out as intended for them. Ask yourself why and how MeFi differs from them.

This is just a first step toward a personal project finding all the external links in those threads, eliminating trivial or outdated stuff, and compiling a long list of links I can send to family members and others to convince them that (1) the treason is real and (2) the nazis are real. large numbers of reasonable people literally do not know these things, so many of my political conversations just don't end well. At best, they say I need to send them the links.

So you regard this is as a personal project?
posted by Doktor Zed at 9:35 AM on July 29, 2018 [2 favorites]


I think that pagination (or daily posts) would mean more people not reading the comments, which would lead to more noise--double-posting links and tweets, having the same argument for the n-teenth time, etc.--that would tend to drown out the useful information.


you know, at some point people are going to have to decide whether they want to police what the users do or whether they want a usable web site

it seems that the majority that comment here want a more usable solution that means improved access to all - but it seems to be argued that it's going to hurt the moderation guidelines and therefore shouldn't be done

usability vs some ideal of how people should be posting

common sense vs control

i think it should be rolled over every 1000 comments and i think we should be a lot less worried about moderating so called excess commenting - useful information usually involves links, so it's not that hard to skim past the discussion to find, especially if the threads are smaller
posted by pyramid termite at 9:44 AM on July 29, 2018 [10 favorites]


This is just a first step toward a personal project finding all the external links in those threads, eliminating trivial or outdated stuff, and compiling a long list of links I can send to family members and others to convince them that (1) the treason is real and (2) the nazis are real. large numbers of reasonable people literally do not know these things, so many of my political conversations just don't end well. At best, they say I need to send them the links. So I need to send them the links.

In the case of "the treason is real", you might find this site helpful when it comes to the Trump timeline: 2016 Active Measures, superbly curated by MeFi's own OnceUponATime. The Moscow Project and the Committee to Investigate Russia also very good. For "the nazis are real", the Southern Poverty Law Center is an invaluable resource—particularly their HateWatch and their profiles of extremist groups and individuals—and they regularly post news updates. Their websites are all better suited as a medium for this kind of information.
posted by Doktor Zed at 9:51 AM on July 29, 2018 [7 favorites]


Good to see that our megatrheads have metamegathread commentary.

Wishfulthiniking pony: in frimbles copious free time a real-time preview snark detector to let us know that our clever commentary previously occurred in mega-may-post-37 so that we can reference it and not have to type it all out.
posted by sammyo at 10:00 AM on July 29, 2018 [2 favorites]


You may not, but plenty of other people do, and your skimming engagement with the mega-threads is not the same as many other Me-Fites'. I would suggest that you review what goes into the US politics FPPs, with particular note to past failed attempts. There's a long history to them with which you can acquaint yourself and take into consideration before recommending automation. Google, Facebook, and Twitter have been peddling this as a short-cut, and it hasn't worked out as intended for them. Ask yourself why and how MeFi differs from them.

So if none of the ideas that anyone else thought of will work for all/any/enough/no people here, does anyone have any better ones? Because I am not married to pagination or whatever, I'm not a tech expert and I avoid Facebook and Twitter so I sure as hell can't tell what worked or didn't work there either. But this is going to be a chronic problem and I think it's fair to at least ask if there's anything anyone can come up with to improve the crashing threads/overload/takes hours to do a good new post and everyone complains about the overload, because time is not going to make this less of an issue.

Or is this just one of those things (like in my job) which boils down to "it's all broken but we're never gonna fix it so you'd better be fine with things as are, oh well, we give up ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ ? Because I can accept that. It's not my decision and it's the mods' decision and we have to go with whatever they say. I am very used to that sort of thing happening all the time. If the mods just want to shut this down and say "This is how it is, stop asking, we are happy with how things are" that's their prerogative. Or if they say, want to shut down all political discussion whatsoever, that's their prerogative. I just thought we could try to think of something.

But....maybe not. Oh well. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Thanks for trying!
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:07 AM on July 29, 2018 [2 favorites]


I think *daily* #potus45 threads would be excellent, and have considered proposing this, so thanks. They could morph to #dailyUSpolitics or #dailypoliticalnewsfilter.

The #potus45 threads are a wealth of information and insight. Posts on MeFi become unwieldy and impenetrable when they go over hundreds of comments, these regularly go thousands. I understand that they require a lot of moderator time, but the more effective and accessible they are, the more ad revenue they should generate, and the better they are at being part of the site, not limited to those most devoted to them and willing to commit the time. I would really like to be able to read them, but they are just too sprawling to come in to them in the middle, and I can't keep up. Somebody refers to a comment, I click or scroll, get lost and sidetracked. Daily posts would mean that people would have to be more disciplined about not re-discussing stuff. Take it to the discussion of Thing on Post.

*Automated* posts, not so much. Bad precedent, so much potential for trouble. If you asked the MeFites who are most active in those threads, who post the FPPs, to help, the posts could be daily. Set up a location where links for the next post can be proposed, and ask those MeFites to craft the post, on a rotating basis, and be welcoming to people outside that group developing posts on their own. Crafting good posts is a lot of work, so people who care about this should be given lots of support. So not automated, but with a tool to facilitate posting. Crowdsource is a useful term.

An automated post at midnight, Cortex Time, for Daily Political News, is not awful, but the FPP allows for the important links to be on the front page, and that's a big help.

As always, thanks to the mods who keep it running.
posted by theora55 at 10:34 AM on July 29, 2018 [2 favorites]


I wonder if a better way of dealing with this would be to impose a hard limit of 1000 comments per post. Once the limit is reached the post automatically closes and someone has to start a new one.
posted by Lanark at 10:49 AM on July 29, 2018 [8 favorites]


pyramid termite: " i think we should be a lot less worried about moderating so called excess commenting "

Strong disagree. I think the threads have become much much better since they have become more aggressively moderated.
posted by Chrysostom at 11:02 AM on July 29, 2018 [27 favorites]


Strong disagree to the strong disagree.
posted by Artw at 11:38 AM on July 29, 2018 [5 favorites]


Stronger disagree to the strong disagree to the strong disagree.
posted by Doktor Zed at 11:44 AM on July 29, 2018 [1 favorite]


(And I'm calling dibs on "strongest" on the next disagree.)
posted by Doktor Zed at 11:45 AM on July 29, 2018


The politics threads being held hostage by a shitty clique of centrists who suck up the the mods is probably great if you are part of that clique, but for everyone else it kind of sucks.
posted by Artw at 11:46 AM on July 29, 2018 [9 favorites]


Dang, Artw, I don't read every political thread to its death, but I haven't noticed that. Maybe the centrists honestly hold centrist beliefs.
posted by The corpse in the library at 11:49 AM on July 29, 2018 [2 favorites]


Thanks, I guess.
posted by Chrysostom at 11:49 AM on July 29, 2018 [3 favorites]


Other problems with pagination:

Can't easily search for links/subjects already posted.

Comments replying to previous comments will be on a different page than the comment they are replying to.

Mod instructions will only be visible on one of the pages.

Unable to load complete thread with one page request (I read off line a lot).
posted by Mitheral at 11:55 AM on July 29, 2018 [7 favorites]


I imagine it could be turned off for people who really want to play thread police. I don’t see such people as adding the same value as you do though.
posted by Artw at 11:58 AM on July 29, 2018 [1 favorite]


The politics threads being held hostage by a shitty clique of centrists who suck up the the mods is probably great if you are part of that clique, but for everyone else it kind of sucks.

I think this is kind of really unfair and cruel considering how much work is involved in virtually mopping up after our textual diarrhea.

I've seen mods let stuff skate by where it's like "whoa? they let that through" but the person who said it has nary said a word before. I can understand when they want to delete my nth shitty, low effort comment about whatever or sotonohito's latest screed appealed to the oppressed proletariat. Frequent posters will get nailed to the wall on edge cases because we should know better. We're typically more extreme. I don't think it's a function of some centrist cabal trying to subtly influence Metafilter, just a function of trying to let the less extreme participate even if they they're not exactly 100% in line with the letter or spirit of the rules.
posted by Definitely Not Sean Spicer at 12:29 PM on July 29, 2018 [4 favorites]


If it’s that odious a task all the more reason to get rid of the necessity for it.
posted by Artw at 12:42 PM on July 29, 2018 [1 favorite]


I am as against pagination as I am automated posts. If these threads are so necessary and live saving and valuable, they should have effort put into their creation and they shouldn't change how the site functions. I'm also opposed to planning sessions for the posts in metatalk. We already have fairly regular curse laden blowing off steam threads and everyone needs a hug threads that both seem to have drastically increased since the megathreads have become a thing. A third regularly occurring type of metatalk thread pretty much dedicated to the needs of the politics thread imo would be ridiculous and even more offputting than how much the politics threads have taken over the site. Just because some people's reasons for coming to metafilter have changed doesn't mean all of ours have and the more accommodations we make for those threads, the less the other stuff here is good.
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 12:54 PM on July 29, 2018 [9 favorites]


If it’s that odious a task all the more reason to get rid of the necessity for it.

I mean sure, if you want a thread that just relitigates 2016 primaries over and over and over again...
posted by Definitely Not Sean Spicer at 1:00 PM on July 29, 2018 [11 favorites]


I don't understand the need to have these impressive-looking, link-heavy posts if nobody is going to be discussing the links 200 comments in anyway. If people are going to be discussing events as they come up in the thread itself, let's do away with the pretense of the post.

I mean, the front page link to these threads is "catch-all thread", not the original post title. To me, that's a good indication that the post itself doesn't actually matter.

I also like the idea of a hard limit of 1000 comments.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 1:09 PM on July 29, 2018 [9 favorites]


I don't understand the need to have these impressive-looking, link-heavy posts if nobody is going to be discussing the links 200 comments in anyway.

Because a lot of people are also catching up digest style instead of reading in real time and that's ok.
posted by Definitely Not Sean Spicer at 1:13 PM on July 29, 2018 [5 favorites]


You don't have to have a million links for it to be a good post, but there should still be a good post for anything posted to the front page. And yeah, some people actually read the FPP which seems surprising to at least some who participate in the FPP?
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 1:16 PM on July 29, 2018 [5 favorites]


*pours a 40 out for Tehhund*
posted by Definitely Not Sean Spicer at 1:28 PM on July 29, 2018 [16 favorites]


Pagination and other sorts of limited-context views fuck things up at a mechanical level in a variety of ways because the web, and MeFi in turn, were designed around some URL/browser structures that favor generality and compatibility over specific contextual lenses into stuff. That's not to say it's impossible or utterly off the table—I said in another thread recently that one thing I want to put more thought into is favoring something working with a bit of compromise over something not-working but in an ideologically pure way—but it's not trivial.

We've been playing around with a little bit of admin-side stuff using limited context views for checking flags, and it's both promising as a very context-specific admin tool where the compromises don't have a generalized effect on our experience of the site and don't require a lot of interaction with other site systems or interfaces, and sort of revealing of just how tightly that context-specific scoping needs to be to not break stuff. We may come out of those experiments with a better idea of how to take a compromise approach on some thread view stuff to, all else aside, reduce the overall rendering cost for a page whatever else might be going on with the megathreads. Or not. It's experimental and early.

I understand that they require a lot of moderator time, but the more effective and accessible they are, the more ad revenue they should generate

I think there's some differences in principle vs. practice there, but I agree with the general aspiration that having a thread that's more loadable and more readable in general would be a good thing and if nothing else not likely a net negative for revenue. But.

"That they require a lot of moderator time" is one of the tricky bits in practice, because making them busier and more all-consuming to manage is a resource issue. Reworking how they're presented to effectively double the number of megathread comments per day is absolutely not costless. Both in terms of time and in terms of emotional energy. A MetaFilter centered around endless discussion in detail of how awful things are, scattered throughout with relitigations of every old argument and interuser sniping that needs managing if this place isn't going to just turn into a shitheap, is not the MetaFilter I was excited to come to work for a decade ago and isn't the lens through which I try to look at the site these days as I try to keep it functioning.

The politics megathreads are a thing, a big thing conceptually and hard to wrestle with because as much as I personally at this point could wish them into the cornfield tomorrow and never, ever miss them, they have value to a lot of people, even people who have a hard time getting along with each other while all mutually finding that value in the threads. So, it's complicated; I'd go as far as to say it's kinda fucked, really. There's no obvious, clean solution to the core issues of the size and pace and regularity of these threads that doesn't involve making some drastic move and I don't particularly like drasticness either.

This is to some extent just venting. I mostly keep that to more venting-centric context. But, y'all, it's a shitty situation and we're gonna have to keep working through it and none of the "well if we just x" stuff is new or a simple clean solution; that's not to knock anyone for brainstorming but do not forget that this has been a basically full-time subject of discussion and conversation on the mod team for like two years now. So we're not hesitant about any of these proposals out of a lack of due consideration, there's just not an easy win there. There's a lot of people here who want a lot of different things and what would be a Fine With Me! solution for some folks would fuck up at a fundamental level other folks' expectations of how the site works and vice versa.

We'll keep chewing on it and presumably continue to experiment with some changes but it's a boggy and bound-to-be-unsatisfying process by circumstantial necessity because we're solving for an entire community full of contrasting wants and needs in tension.

The politics threads being held hostage by a shitty clique of centrists who suck up the the mods is probably great if you are part of that clique, but for everyone else it kind of sucks.

That's a pretty shitty comment for a whole variety of reasons.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:31 PM on July 29, 2018 [32 favorites]


Because a lot of people are also catching up digest style instead of reading in real time and that's ok.

some people actually read the FPP which seems surprising to at least some who participate in the FPP?

These are good reasons for regular US politics news roundup FPPs, but IMO those don't need to be one and the same as catch-all threads.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 2:15 PM on July 29, 2018


I mean they don't but the reason we have one catch-all thread is because the site would quickly be overwhelmed with nothing but US politics news which is why it's quarantined to the catch-all thread.
posted by Definitely Not Sean Spicer at 2:25 PM on July 29, 2018 [3 favorites]


I mean, the catch-all threads don't need to exist at all. If the people participating can't even make the modicum of effort the mods still enforce to make threads, then what are y'all doing? Like, if you don't want mefi site culture, mefi structure, mefi style, and some don't even want the mods seemingly - why even do it here? Or rather, why should the site change basically everything about how it functions, besides the 'type text here' box, for this one type of thread (which will inevitably change much beyond that)?
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 2:32 PM on July 29, 2018 [19 favorites]


We already have fairly regular curse laden blowing off steam threads and everyone needs a hug threads that both seem to have drastically increased since the megathreads have become a thing.

I don't understand why those threads are tolerated in the gray. From the FAQ:
MetaTalk is the part of the site for talking about the site itself.
How has that come to include MeFites' venting about whatever's bothering them in meatspace? This kvetching is the very definition of chatfilter IMO. Sure, Everybody Needs a Hug, but we all already knew that.
posted by Rash at 2:37 PM on July 29, 2018 [4 favorites]


With kindness, there seems to be a pattern whenever a MeTa is posted having anything to do with the politics megathread:

- some users treat it as an opportunity to complain about their general existence;
- some users lodge (sometimes passively, rarely aggressively) complaints of ideological bias in thread moderation;
- Barack Spinoza shows up and casts megathread regulars as a persecuted minority;
- et cetera ad nauseam

The topic of this MeTa is: weekly megathreads - yay or nay? If you have something on that question, great. Please share it here. If not, consider starting a new MeTa to address your other, different concern(s).
posted by Barack Spinoza at 2:39 PM on July 29, 2018 [6 favorites]


What is stopping weekly threads right now?
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 2:41 PM on July 29, 2018


I dunno, read this thread?
posted by Barack Spinoza at 2:42 PM on July 29, 2018 [1 favorite]


Sorry, that was harsh. But, c’mon my fellow mefite.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 2:43 PM on July 29, 2018 [1 favorite]


I have read the thread and you've said what we're talking about which doesn't include many things from the thread (and excludes a big part from the post), so since you've decided what we're going to talk about in a very narrow focus then I'm asking based upon that focus. Beyond that, 'It's tiring and maybe someone else is writing one and there's nothing interesting enough to make a post out of' doesn't seem a big enough speed bump to think automated posts (or any of the other utterly site changing suggestions in the thread) are an answer. Make good posts, discuss things until someone makes a new good post, then discuss things there. The system isn't broken.
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 2:49 PM on July 29, 2018 [1 favorite]


so since you've decided what we're going to talk about in a very narrow focus

I didn’t post this MeTa, so I didn’t “decide what we’re going to talk about” anymore than you did. Don’t be obtuse. We don’t even disagree on the merits, evidently, but it’s not shitty for me to ask fellow users to stay on topic and not derail. Again: make your own MeTa if you’ve got beef with anything off-topic in this thread. That’s just basic site policy.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 2:54 PM on July 29, 2018


that's not an honest appraisal of people's concern over this, the main part seems to be that many are actually having trouble getting these huge threads to load

if it's broken for some, it's broken
posted by pyramid termite at 2:54 PM on July 29, 2018 [9 favorites]


that would be directed to inestbht
posted by pyramid termite at 2:55 PM on July 29, 2018


It’s broken for me, too, as a cursory glance at my comment history (even in this very thread!) indicates. I’m just asking folks to stay on topic.

[crossed wires, evidently. sorry p_t]
posted by Barack Spinoza at 2:56 PM on July 29, 2018


You really don't have to be such an ass to me.

And if the threads are too long to load, make a new thread! It's like, the one basic thing about metafilter.
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 2:59 PM on July 29, 2018 [3 favorites]


And demanding people stay on topic of the FPP (where many different things have come up and even been responded to by a mod) in a thread about how the FPPs don't even matter is frankly hilarious.
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 3:00 PM on July 29, 2018 [2 favorites]


I don't think regular MetaTalk threads to plan the next megathread FPP are a good use of the space, but we could easily use a Slack channel (there's a MeFi politics Slack, it's pretty quiet, we could have a #ThreadIdeas) or create a Google Doc to collect some links that would form a good new thread. That would make it easier for someone to package them up into a post when the comment count gets up there and the moment seems right.

I don't understand why those threads are tolerated in the gray.

If something doesn't appeal to you, it's ok not to click on it.
posted by zachlipton at 3:02 PM on July 29, 2018 [8 favorites]


Maybe just generally folks can take a breather; I feel like there's a couple years or more of pent up stuff manifesting in some of this in a way it doesn't need to, and there's no urgency to this thread that going for a walk or whatever will get in the way of.

This kvetching is the very definition of chatfilter IMO.

Briefly, the prohibition on Chatfilter is AskMe specific; I've been explicitly saying for a while that it's okay to have more generally conversational/communal threads on MeTa as part of a hub of the community interactions on the site. Getting into it beyond that's not really in scope for this discussion, though.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:03 PM on July 29, 2018 [10 favorites]


This took a weird and squicky personal turn from I’m Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! and “frankly” it’s not hilarious. Be well, everybody.

[x-posted with cortex. delete if you want.]
posted by Barack Spinoza at 3:03 PM on July 29, 2018


The topic is weekly automated megathreads, and my answer would be nay to automation. Weekly threads? Sure. Knock yourselves out.

But I object to seeing site resources allocated to doing what the people who are dependent on these threads for health/education/socialization/whatever are supposed to be doing on their own. If there is no enthusiasm for keeping the threads going by creating new FPPs for them, then automating it isn't going to be a bandage for that lack of engagement.
posted by kimberussell at 3:07 PM on July 29, 2018 [3 favorites]


You really don't have to be such an ass to me.

I mean, heavily implying that a pretty good whack of the MeFi userbase is misguided/stupid/Doing MeFi wrong for
a) bringing up an evident pain point that is affecting them and/or other users
b) participating in the megathread in the first place
...is kind of also 'being an ass,' arguably?
posted by halation at 3:12 PM on July 29, 2018 [6 favorites]


Id be another no to automated threads, yes to more frequent more subject-orientated less catch-all threads, and no to special moderation styles unless there’s a technical necessity.
posted by Artw at 3:17 PM on July 29, 2018 [3 favorites]


Suggesting that FPPs be FPPs is not doing any of that but maybe saying "read the thread" and "c'mon" and "don't be obtuse" are, yeah, pretty assy. Going for that much needed video game break now.
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 3:27 PM on July 29, 2018 [4 favorites]


Wtf, dude?
posted by Barack Spinoza at 3:30 PM on July 29, 2018


Samsies! I don't know why you're attacking me but I wish you'd stop.
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 3:31 PM on July 29, 2018


Is this a gaslighting demonstration in real-time?
posted by Barack Spinoza at 3:31 PM on July 29, 2018


[Hey, both of you, take a break from the thread and cool off.]
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 3:33 PM on July 29, 2018 [3 favorites]


I'm against automation, but for a much lower threshold before new thread happens. The thread to me becomes difficult after about 1000 comments. I like the concept of pagination, but I think it breaks how metafilter flows, and I don't think it's possible to apply a solution like that to a single thread.

In conclusion, mefi political threads are a land of contrast.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 3:38 PM on July 29, 2018 [8 favorites]


I don’t think pagination would resolve anything. People would be clicking *more* frequently and loading pages more frequently, not less—it would add to the load on the server, not decrease it.

I’m sure this would be a site-wide change, and I’m not suggesting that someone could snap their fingers and accomplish this, but what about having new posts load at the top instead of the bottom? Barring that, what about some sort of lazy-load feature where new posts don’t load until someone has scrolled to the bottom of their screen, so that even if you have 1000 new posts to get through to find the new stuff, your machine isn’t loading all 1000 *before* you can scroll to the bottom.
posted by Autumnheart at 3:49 PM on July 29, 2018 [1 favorite]


I would have a strong, strong preference for pagination, which is generally pretty transparent and explicable to users, over lazy loading, which has mostly the same effect but obfuscated.
posted by Artw at 4:30 PM on July 29, 2018 [1 favorite]


Also against automation and moderately against pagination, but I'd be in favor of setting a group expectation for weekly threads - say, new megathread every Monday. Or Tuesday. Typically there's some chatter in the thread, like, "Is it time for a new one? Is someone making one?" So that uncertainty leads to more commenting. But it also in my opinion contributes to the new-thread-hype and FPP-pressure. Like, in a classic operant conditioning kind of way. Having more regular threads, making it an unremarkable occurence, would be a good thing I think.

It would also make the expectation of community labor more clear and explicit. The very idea of "automated" resets of the megathread shows how much that labor is disappeared and taken for granted.
posted by Rainbo Vagrant at 5:15 PM on July 29, 2018 [5 favorites]


I'd like to see a whole new section for them -- MetaPolitiTalk, or something. I

Yeah having an international politics sub section ("Megafilter") where different links can be focused on individually and in more depth would hit the spot for me.
posted by Joey Michaels at 6:25 PM on July 29, 2018 [5 favorites]


Look, we all know what the megathreads are. They're quarantine for politics chatfilter. They're unrewarding attentionsucks for the mods. They're haystacks where we hide the needles of periodic good, interesting, relevant comments. They're a mechanism to prevent multiple ongoing repetitious FPPs about the mad shit going down Stateside (because so much of what's going on overlaps). They're the least worst answer to a rubbish question.

The individual FPPs themselves are really well put together and entail genuine effort on the part of whoever makes them, but they could almost be substituted with a script periodically posting "TRUMPSTUFF #nnn, GO! (BTW DON'T POST THESE LINKS: ....)". No-one cares about the FPP content, they either care about recent events or if you're lucky a closely-preceding link or comment. The only reason to make the least effort to facilitate ease-of-use of the megathreads is if there's a danger of people propagating /r/perpetualmegathread content more widely as a result of its inaccessibility.

Voting anti-pony.

(Didn't mean to write this comment in quite such a "Hi Guys! Get me, Big Man, telling it as it is!" tone. I don't think I'm wrong in my understanding nor the broad thrust though).
posted by I'm always feeling, Blue at 7:25 PM on July 29, 2018 [5 favorites]


You've literally had people in this thread saying they engage with the mega-threads differently than you assert, so I do question your broad thrust.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:29 PM on July 29, 2018 [10 favorites]


Well the crux of the argument is true, having a US politics megathread stops circa mid-2000s where while shit wasn't quite falling apart as quickly, you still had 3 or 4 US politics threads on the go.

The fact that OP overlooks that other people might find value in the FPP itself doesn't invalidate that.
posted by Definitely Not Sean Spicer at 7:43 PM on July 29, 2018


I am very much in favor of Rainbo Vagrant's idea of a weekly post (or 1000 comments, if that comes first). I think setting a group expectation like that will help with a lot of problems brought up here. Someone can announce in thread that they're making this week's post and hopefully it will help us share the labor of making the post because some of the pressure is lifted from us and our devices. It might also cut down on some of the noise if people know a new post is coming soon.
posted by Ruki at 8:11 PM on July 29, 2018 [3 favorites]


Eh, I like it well enough, but I don't feel like it's 100% must have when (a) posting a nice roundup of links at the start of every thread is making it take longer to rollover the thread, and (b) the entire thread has a collection of links throughout the week anyway. Though I do think if that is going to happen, someone calling dibs on doing it is a good idea.

But at this point, I'm going with ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ and maybe there isn't any point in discussing this anyway. Sorry, y'all. I should have known better. Every time I speak up I am sorry I did it in the end.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:57 PM on July 29, 2018


I am glad you brought it up, thank you.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:03 PM on July 29, 2018 [1 favorite]


I have never created a megathread FPP, nor do I intend to, because it would be a waste of my time, which, yes, is precious (and so is yours of course). I'd just rather make my contributions in the comments. That is not to say that I don't appreciate the amount of work that goes into them. And some people like the recaps, so great! It costs me nothing to skip them.

But I'm curious, for those of you who have created megathread FPPs, about how many hours of your time does it consume? On average. I'm guessing a good two to four hours. That's a lot to ask of someone. So the people who are saying, "If it's time for a new megathread, make one!" do not impress me, even if they themselves have done one or more.

Plus, the random aspect where it's a shared responsibility, like some kind of potluck dinner, seems very disorganized. Even a potluck has someone who makes sure there will be each kind of food. Here, it's supposed to just happen organically. But only after a period of some dysfunction when the threads are useless to a sizable fraction of the community. And hopefully multiple people don't waste their time duplicating the work. I know if that happened to me once it would be the last time.

On MetaFilter we are frequently suggesting people organize politically to achieve our goals. Well, couldn't MetaFilter be a bit more organized? The status quo has to give, so what treasured aspect of MetaFilter culture are we willing to compromise, in this case only, to restore functionality?
posted by M-x shell at 9:07 PM on July 29, 2018 [6 favorites]


i have thoroughly enjoyed the evolution of this set of politics megathread. on reflection, the unifying leitmotif has been less than ideal, but keeping up to date with information (and analysis) here has been indispensable during this dark time; plus, the insights, jokes, ethical tangents, the ongoing practicum in modding, the strong sense of community, the sheer breadth of citations of and to external resources, and the frequent opportunities to reevaluate the relative merits of hillary clinton and bernie sanders as presidential candidates, have made it more enjoyable than it probably should be.

i tend to blame my problems with the thread around 2000+ comments on my portable information device, rather than on the site, the thread, the community, the quality of any given comment or set thereof, or the moderators.

the periodic new thread creations have been inspirational, as object-lessons in anarchic self-organizing and as stand-alone works of top-notch FPPery. i wouldn't change it a bit.

that said, i'll be here, reading for the content, regardless of any post span/frequency decisions that may be made and implemented among involved mefites.

thanks, y'all!
posted by 20 year lurk at 9:25 PM on July 29, 2018 [7 favorites]


How about doing a trial run of megathreads as a regular weekly business? Say, for the month of August?

Weekends are usually a slow time for news, so new threads could go up sometime in the latter half of Sunday. We could set up a system where people sign up to make each megathread, either week by week or ahead of time for the whole month.

At the end of August we could see how things went in terms of usability, mod workload, overall value, and so forth.

How would people feel about something like that? (Asks someone who's never made a megathread. I'd be willing to try, though.)
posted by trig at 3:48 AM on July 30, 2018 [6 favorites]


But at this point, I'm going with ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ and maybe there isn't any point in discussing this anyway. Sorry, y'all. I should have known better. Every time I speak up I am sorry I did it in the end.

I don't think you should feel that way at all, and I'm glad you posted this. Even if nothing gets resolved (and despite the oddly personal swerve this thread took for a minute) I think it's valuable to periodically have a community check-in on how people are dealing with and using the politics mega-threads.

For myself, after this discussion, I'm leaning towards less of a technical solution or a set of mod-enforced rules, but more of a slight reset of community expectations - somewhere around the 1-1.5k comment mark people should start building the next FPP (I like the idea of having a crowd-sourced MetaTalk, but if we're trying to make the mega-threads shorter, I also don't see the harm in having a few "hey, I'm working on the next one, memail me/post some links" comments near the end) and while politics mega-threads should be more than a single link, they don't necessarily need to be mega-link mega- FPPs.
posted by soundguy99 at 5:35 AM on July 30, 2018 [4 favorites]


I know that the mod team is very tech savvy and frimble in particular is a total wizard. Please do not take offense at this suggestion! But it did occur to me when I was reading this post:

React Performance Fixes on Airbnb Listing Pages

...that maybe there are optimizations to the MeFi codebase that could improve performance in threads that have a lot of comments? Like, optimizations that would not have come up naturally over the course of bug fixing and troubleshooting and whatnot but instead would surface under focused scrutiny for performance specifically.

Again, I'm sure that y'all are always looking for ways to make big blue less creaky, just a thought.
posted by lazaruslong at 5:42 AM on July 30, 2018 [1 favorite]


a slight reset of community expectations - somewhere around the 1-1.5k comment mark people should start building the next FPP

This is firmly where I come down. Simultaneous adjustments to how much of a post an FPP needs to be to be a good megathread post, and more people willing to make them more quickly. Put another way, I don't think people who enjoy megathreads would really be unhappy to have a new one every thousand comments as opposed to every 2500, they just scoot over to a new place and keep discussing the same general round of topics. Accordingly, these posts should be lower stakes to make (not requiring a total link round up and hours of time) and should come from within the megathread community, not from the mods or certainly not from an automated process. People who like the megathread environment should be making these posts. I'm aware that this is a topic on which reasonable people disagree but as someone who doesn't interact with the megathreads except while guest-modding (and agrees with many critiques of them but also understands why people like them) I feel like there are tweaks to the existing structure that may work.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 6:22 AM on July 30, 2018 [33 favorites]


Just anecdotally regarding commenting being difficult, disappearing most of the comments with display: none makes the form a lot more responsive for me. It's not exactly elegant, but I've found it useful occasionally.
posted by lucidium at 7:32 AM on July 30, 2018 [1 favorite]


I have nothing to add here except the curviest of curve balls from out of left field where the ponies roam.

I don't know how to fix the megathread issues. It's hard and I step way back from that.

But, one thing that has occurred to me is that if we want to keep the FPP by humans, organically deciding to craft them, tradition alive then that might be a friction point where a bit of lubrication could be useful. What I'm getting at is that

A) I think a new megathread deserves a well crafted post to kick it off and,
B) since those require work that could well be negated if someone else posts a thread and,
C) we don't want to waste the time of the folks that will actually put time into crafting a new thread post to get things reset and running again, which
D) is a risk if someone else is doing the same work, at the same time and beats them past the post via the Submit button.

I don't think many folks would disagree with those premises. Someone mentioned using Slack to coordinate and that's laudable, perhaps even the best solution to this aside-of-a-problem.

I wondered if there might not be a way for the consumers of the thread to slowly and gradually voice their support for a new thread (but not via useless comments/asides in the discussion part of things because ick, no, bad) via a voting/flagging system tweak whereby the mods or the site could display a meter or something [I told you there'd be ponies right, here's the herd coming now!] that would be a range from New to Stale or Fresh to Expired or Green to Red or whatever. At that point folks would see the community desire for a new thread rising and could take that into account.

The bonus pony, or Bony as I so name her, would be where someone could call dibs and notify folks that they were taking it upon themselves to craft a new thread and that there'd be one up in X amount of time.

As to how much this would impact the status quo of things, I don't know either, but it's a consideration anyhow.

I love... well, not you all, but most of you. Stay sane and be excellent to one another.
posted by RolandOfEld at 7:39 AM on July 30, 2018


> range from New to Stale or Fresh to Expired or Green to Red or whatever.

Hey now!
posted by RedOrGreen at 8:33 AM on July 30, 2018 [5 favorites]


More substantively, I'm not terribly unhappy with the way things stand now as far as the megathreads go, I really (really really) appreciate the aggressive moderating that keeps the re-litigation of the primaries and the drive-by egging to a minimum [*], and Jessamyn's comment above covers changes that I'd find not unreasonable.

[*] I would totally be on-board for a re-litigation of the early US Presidential primaries, as someone promised/threatened in the last thread - sorry, can't find that comment.
posted by RedOrGreen at 8:38 AM on July 30, 2018


I love... well, not you all, but most of you.

Can we get a list of everyone's favorability score?
posted by Chrysostom at 8:46 AM on July 30, 2018 [5 favorites]


Also this situation isn't going to last forever.

I used to think something similar.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 8:46 AM on July 30, 2018 [1 favorite]


I too think Jessamyn's comment sounds good. My biggest problem with the megathreads by far is that when the comment count hits four digits I can only read them via Recent Activity, meaning I miss anything from more than 10 comments ago and need to be told when I'm going over ground that was already trodden earlier in the day. I really think more frequent threads would lighten the mods' load, especially if we could just lock the old ones.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:00 AM on July 30, 2018 [1 favorite]


I've always wondered if threads would load faster if the favoriting mechanism was turned off for all posts in that thread, or if there were some other way to cut down on scripts and server calls.
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:01 AM on July 30, 2018


[*] I would totally be on-board for a re-litigation of the early US Presidential primaries, as someone promised/threatened in the last thread - sorry, can't find that comment.

[folks if we relitigate every old election we'll be here for days.... it's up to you but I might wrap-up the Dean derail]

Look, if I can't unleash my 7-paragraph screed on the political infighting of the Whigs leading up to the 1840 election and how it affected the Tyler-Polk race, what am I even doing here?
posted by zombieflanders at 9:17 on July 27 [has favorites +] [!]

posted by cgc373 at 9:07 AM on July 30, 2018 [2 favorites]


Don't get me started on the Free Soil Party.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:09 AM on July 30, 2018 [1 favorite]


If long comment threads that degrade site usability are ideal for the mods as the first comment here said, all these suggestions about improving site usability are besides the point, aren't they?
posted by TypographicalError at 9:13 AM on July 30, 2018 [2 favorites]


I think there's a chicken-and-egg issue there, though -- if the longer threads weren't locking people out, would they be in a rush to comment when the new one opens up and suddenly they're accessible again?
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:18 AM on July 30, 2018


No. I don't even comment. I only want to be able to READ it, which is pretty impossible when it is allowed to degrade into an unusable thread.
posted by agregoli at 9:27 AM on July 30, 2018 [2 favorites]


Don't get me started on the Free Soil Party.


not to mention those know-nothing MFers.
posted by bootlegpop at 9:38 AM on July 30, 2018


I don't really understand all the special concern about wasted effort when making a post. That is always a possibility when you are making a post about current events whether it's the latest in the Cheeto saga or a post on the Puppy Bowl. Heck if anything a Cheeto post is less risky once the current thread gets up there in comment count because it'll be acceptable news filter and won't get deleted as a topic double.
posted by Mitheral at 10:16 AM on July 30, 2018


BLUF: I support the idea of experimenting next month with a new thread scheduled for Sunday afternoon/evening and starting to brainstorm suggestions the day before. My second, but distant, choice would be a hard cutoff at 2,000 comments, perhaps with a mod heads' up at 1,500, to encourage the composition of a new megathread FPP.

useful information usually involves links, so it's not that hard to skim past the discussion to find, especially if the threads are smaller

Frequently, yes, but MeFites' personal comments about how the news affects them and what they're doing about it is absolutely invaluable. It puts the headlines into a more important context that's missing from news articles (no matter how many vox pop quotes reporters include, to say nothing of the universally unreadable comments sections). Sources for news are plentiful on the web, but the human factor in a healthy community is not.

I'm in favor of keeping curated posts with links. I think they are useful now, and are going to be historically important someday. It's such a good record of what what is the news at that particular time, and what people thought was important.

Absolutely. In their own way, the megathread FPPs do a better job of tracking the evolution of a given story in the Trump administration than the mainstream media—which is why Team Trump keeps using the modified limited hangout tactic. Curated links can also improve participation by presenting what the community thinks are important topics, even if it's just pinning one that we may come back to (I predict down the line, we're going to see the effects of Trump's decision to move hiring of administrative law judges out of competitive service, for example).

i tend to blame my problems with the thread around 2000+ comments on my portable information device

A quick scan of the past half-dozen megathreads suggests their file size is around 4MB, give or take, with more than 200,000 words of text. Loading that on a portable device or smart phone is pushing past the limits of hardware (though I honestly don't understand how anyone could reasonably expect to load a megathread of even half that size on a smartphone, to each their own).

Weekends are usually a slow time for news, so new threads could go up sometime in the latter half of Sunday.

This is definitely optimum. The Friday night and Saturday night news dumps from the major papers leads to a quieter day of headlines then, and the Sunday morning shows yield soundbites rather than revelations. (The only hitch is that @RealDonaldTrump always tries to take advantage of the lull by tweeting provocations that he hopes will dominate the news cycle on Monday.) Even first thing on a weekday morning is a nosier time to post.

I don't think regular MetaTalk threads to plan the next megathread FPP are a good use of the space, but we could easily use a Slack channel (there's a MeFi politics Slack, it's pretty quiet, we could have a #ThreadIdeas) or create a Google Doc to collect some links that would form a good new thread.

Yes, a Google Doc would be suitable for collaboration, or maybe even a scratchpad on the MeFi Wiki, if the mods are amenable. I haven't used Slack before—I don't know if a judicious use of MeFi Chat or a Google hangout could be a substitute (introducing project management software into the mix seems a little daunting, as well as one more barrier to entry).

I have never created a megathread FPP, nor do I intend to, because it would be a waste of my time

This is classic Little Red Hen Syndrome. It's something I'm not unfamiliar with, as it took me two years of megathreads to get off the fence and post my first one. Part of it was anxiety about reaching the high standards set by the regulars—props to darkstar, filthy light thief, lalex, Wordshore, zachlipton, et al.—but my motivation arose from not wanting to see them burn out and stop participating. As it turned out, composing one was less difficult than I'd imagined, but from an entirely subjective standpoint, I'd underestimated how psychologically taxing it was for me (I can't do a third in a row, sorry—two is too much for me).

But I'm curious, for those of you who have created megathread FPPs, about how many hours of your time does it consume? On average. I'm guessing a good two to four hours.

Barely half that. Funnily enough, in my own experience, it takes more time to compose one hurriedly, when the thread is large enough for people to complain, simply because researching under pressure is difficult and if there's a developing situation on top of that, it's all the more challenging. If you're following the news and reading the megathread, however, you've already got a solid foundation to work from.

My own method—and I'd love to hear others'—is not that complicated. It's not too different from reading the news over the course of the day, just compressed (the way an ideal megathread FPP of curated links would be). Here's a quick-and-dirty breakdown of it in 6 Easy Steps:
1) review the FPP of the current megathread for a sense of the issues of importance to the community and of their framing;
2) re-read the back end of the current megathread to identify the breaking news/recent developments and how people are responding;
3) check in with CNN and the BBC for headlines—or Reuters and AFP, depending;
4) scan my Twitter feeds, including @ddale8, @emptywheel, @kylegriffin1, and @sarahkendzior, plus an ad hoc selection of a few mainstream journalists from CNN, the NYT, the WaPo, etc., e.g. @KatyTurNBC and @kaitlancollins;
5) once the important topics are in focus and it's time to curate links, check the past few days of What The Fuck Just Happened Today? and/or The Weekly Sift and search Google News for particular stories; and then
6) write up the FPP—by now, the post has more or less fallen into place, and the hardest part is coming up with a snappy title.
It would take me several times longer to research and write a comparable post for a regular FPP, even on a familiar topic. (There's also the psychological cost that when you stare into the newsvortex, the newsvortex stares back, but that's what the Fucking Fuck threads are for.) Brainstorming and crowdsourcing could help with the initial steps, and collaboration or rotation could help spread the workload of composing the FPP. By comparison, I've put in at least as much time into this response as I have with any my POTUS45 FPPs.

And kudos to Box for making a new megathread.
posted by Doktor Zed at 10:20 AM on July 30, 2018 [8 favorites]


A little late to the party but

No-one cares about the FPP content, they either care about recent events or if you're lucky a closely-preceding link or comment.

This is absolutely untrue for me. I go through the links in the posts to make sure I didn't miss anything, especially when I've been busy for a couple days and not able to pay close attention to the threads.

I am another vote for no automation and a yes more frequent thread refresh (the threads completely break in iCab mobile at less than 1000 comments -- iCab is the only mobile browser that can make the font big enough for me to actually read things).
posted by rabbitrabbit at 10:29 AM on July 30, 2018 [2 favorites]


You can change your (body, byline, title independently) font size in your profile. Does that not work on mobile?
posted by Mitheral at 10:38 AM on July 30, 2018


This is classic Little Red Hen Syndrome.

Little Zed Hen: Will no one help me make these fancy cookies for the party?
Me: I don't like cookies, sorry. Are you sure we even need cookies?
Little Zed Hen: You came to the party where they were set out, so you're a leech.
Me: I tried to save you the trouble. I'm here for the beer and I paid for my Solo cup at the door.
posted by M-x shell at 10:57 AM on July 30, 2018 [2 favorites]


We've been serving cookies at this popular party for over two and a half years now, so why are you showing up now with a suggestion of Soylent meal replacement instead? Read the room.
posted by Doktor Zed at 11:11 AM on July 30, 2018 [3 favorites]


My thought is regarding the server bandwidth for the megathread getting refreshed by thousands of users when limiting it to 1000 posts would decrease the server load of the refresh by half. (Assuming the majority of people won't bother to go back and load a closed thread from the previous week.)
posted by xigxag at 12:02 PM on July 30, 2018


As someone who puts a lot of time into reading and posting in the thread at issue, I’ll make an effort going forward to carve out time to make a new, proper FPP at a desktop PC (since it’s a mobile non-starter) when the need arises, too.

Thanks to everyone who puts all the free labor in: be it finding and sharing links and/or crafting megathread FPPs (whether they end up greenlit or no). I’ll try to pull more of my weight on the FPP front.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 12:15 PM on July 30, 2018 [2 favorites]


Solution: create a new metathread.metafilter.com subdomain. Visiting this subdomain plays a continuous audio loop of incoherent screaming with a scrolling text transcription of the same.

This basically recreates the megathreads with much lower bandwidth and moderator time overhead.
posted by tobascodagama at 1:05 PM on July 30, 2018 [2 favorites]


(And, yes, I know that there are recurring "incoherent screaming" posts in MeTa that allegedly prevent the megathreads from being full of same. This does not change my characterisation of the megathreads in my previous comment.)
posted by tobascodagama at 1:06 PM on July 30, 2018 [2 favorites]


^ This is the shit I’m talking about.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 1:10 PM on July 30, 2018 [5 favorites]


I'm not really sold on the idea that pagination would reduce substantive engagement. The idea that a newcomer to a megathread is going to dutifully read multiple thousands of comments before saying what they have to say—but only if those comments aren't broken up into manageable chunks—sounds pretty dubious to me. Realistically, people typically will read the bottom couple dozen comments to get themselves caught up, maybe skim a few of the recent ones that have gotten a lot of favorites, perhaps do a ctrl+F for a few relevant keywords if they're feeling really diligent, and then say whatever they were going to say in the first place. People who are highly engaged will stay caught up by following the threads closely, but even they will miss large swathes of commentary if they have a deadline at work, or go on vacation, or sleep. Pagination every 500-1000 comments or so (in any long thread, politics or otherwise) would not affect any of these things except the "ctrl+F for keywords" thing, which is pretty marginal anyway.

What definitely stops people from reading all the comments though is when the thread breaks their browser.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 1:16 PM on July 30, 2018 [5 favorites]


Some general thoughts on constructive stuff here:

I think the kind of tweaking jessamyn laid out is fine; we've talked before at times in MetaTalk discussions about these threads about how it really is okay to start a new one a bit sooner, that it doesn't need to wait until its creaking past 2000+ comments, and if the pendulum swings that way again I'm fine with it.

LM's comment up top lays out some of my concerns about pushing for quicker refreshes, and those exist in tension with the above a bit, but "new thread at 1000-1500 comments" isn't the same level of concern there as "new thread on an automated schedule". Folks collectively aiming for smaller comment count turnover threshold and something like a weekly-ish pace is within a reasonable range of experimentation.

A lot of my prevailing concerns and frustrations with the megathread dynamics are soft/social issues of bad interuser dynamics or individual overposting or folks just periodically forgetting again and again some of the stuff we've been talking about since the big politics update metatalk post last winter. Part of this may be that it's time to do a re-update as well. Part of that is probably some further checking in with hardcore megathread regulars about this or that not-so-great-in-volume habit.

There's a big social side to issues with those threads that technical solutions won't fix; at best they'll make the threads load faster while those problems persist and potentially, with less technical friction, flourish. So there's a real genuine sense of investing in more headaches that is hard to find a positive framing for. But mod-side we're basically just gonna have to keep working on both the technical and the social sides of these things.

Yes, a Google Doc would be suitable for collaboration, or maybe even a scratchpad on the MeFi Wiki, if the mods are amenable.

That sort of thing is fine with me. The wiki's an okay place to do it and has the advantage of being at least in principle broadly accessible to everybody—I'd rather folks avoid lapsing however well-intentionedly into a system of collaboration that ends up having a strong whiff of Unofficial Official Catchall Post Committee, Cabal Members Only etc—but whatever folks want to experiment with there is fine if it feels like it'd be useful.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:28 PM on July 30, 2018 [3 favorites]


I think the kind of tweaking jessamyn laid out is fine; we've talked before at times in MetaTalk discussions about these threads about how it really is okay to start a new one a bit sooner, that it doesn't need to wait until its creaking past 2000+ comments, and if the pendulum swings that way again I'm fine with it.

Cool. During the election we were going at such a rate that 2000 seemed to be the minimum you guys would tolerate (for good reason too). If 1500ish is ok to be the trigger, let it be the next trigger.
posted by Definitely Not Sean Spicer at 1:35 PM on July 30, 2018


I feel like any catch-all workshopping that isn't done inside the catch-all threads themselves (or maaaaaybe on MetaTalk) is going to end up being at least vaguely cabalistic. Many places (e.g. the wiki) are notionally public, but few MeFites actually visit them. Anything that's done offsite, even if it's somewhere closely affiliated like the wiki, is going to be exclusionary in practice.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 2:04 PM on July 30, 2018 [1 favorite]


Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The, you're probably correct about the exclusionary aspect. But posting to the front page itself ends up being exclusive in the context of participation on MetaFilter. Fewer people post to the front page than comment, fewer people comment than read as logged-in lurkers, and fewer people lurk than read without having accounts. So I'm not sure how much difference practically speaking it makes when the people who make these sorts of posts already numbers in the single or low double digits?
posted by cgc373 at 2:11 PM on July 30, 2018 [1 favorite]


oh my god, i can't even imagine the megathreads with _less_ moderation. They're a barely balancing shitheap right now, and while I'm one of those people that utterly lives on the tail end with my "n new comments" skinner box; I don't at all get worked up when the mods nuke one of my dumb comments, because wow, it quickly gets terrible in there when the adults aren't looking.

Automated threads are a bad idea, imo. I'd actually kinda like to see some kind of "posting quota", where... i dunno.. no user may post more than once per hour or something. Slow down, chew your food a little.
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 2:13 PM on July 30, 2018


cgc373, I'm not sure I can articulate the why of it at the moment but I do feel like workshopping the anointed Political Megathread Episode N post offsite would be exclusionary in a qualitatively different way from the organic processes that you describe. Especially since being a megathread poster is—insofar as these things are relevant here—a fairly high-prestige position in MetaFilter society. MeFi is honestly one the most welcoming, least cliquey venues I've ever participated in either online or off, but we're still a bunch of humans and social status is still a thing.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 2:29 PM on July 30, 2018


What if one person owned the responsibility of spawning the weekly new threads for some period of time, and (gasp!) we paid them for their hard work and good service with some form of crowdfunding? From what I've seen over my many years of reading the blue, there are people here with talent who could really use a little tip money, and others who can easily afford it. I think that is a more organized way of addressing the need versus the other ideas that have been floated here, although it has its own challenges.
posted by M-x shell at 3:05 PM on July 30, 2018


I appreciate the sentiment, but please put me down as personally against bringing money into a situation to make it less fraught.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 3:12 PM on July 30, 2018 [9 favorites]


If the megathreads wind up creating a situation where MeFites are paying other MeFites for creating MetaFilter posts, I will have to seriously reevaluate my participation here.
posted by Lexica at 3:16 PM on July 30, 2018 [2 favorites]


Pay-for-posting is a well-meant idea that occasionally gets floated in one form or another, but I want to be clear that it's a serious non-starter.

People should be sharing stuff on Mefi they want to share, and participating in conversations here because they want to be talking to the people here, and that's it. Introducing other motivations and undercurrents is a bad idea for many reasons.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 3:17 PM on July 30, 2018 [7 favorites]


Hey wait.. Maybe you could pay us to post... LESS.
posted by Xyanthilous P. Harrierstick at 3:26 PM on July 30, 2018 [15 favorites]


I don't think I've seen a mod address whether an upper ceiling on comments-per-post is something they're willing to consider?
posted by Phire at 3:26 PM on July 30, 2018


Hey wait.. Maybe you could pay us to post... LESS.

It’s not a tax, it’s a penalty :p
posted by Barack Spinoza at 3:27 PM on July 30, 2018 [2 favorites]


Plus, the random aspect where it's a shared responsibility, like some kind of potluck dinner, seems very disorganized. Even a potluck has someone who makes sure there will be each kind of food. Here, it's supposed to just happen organically. But only after a period of some dysfunction when the threads are useless to a sizable fraction of the community. And hopefully multiple people don't waste their time duplicating the work. I know if that happened to me once it would be the last time.

Yeah, I wasn't sure how to phrase this before, but this is what bothers me that makes me want more regular and scheduled new threads. It reminds me of my (male) friends letting messes pile up until the (female) friends get ticked off enough to clean it up. It feels like making a new thread somehow comes as a surprise to people, and feels like it's not being taken seriously as an ongoing cost of this community activity that we want to continue.

anyway I will put dibs on the next thread right now if that's appropriate. August 5th/6th.

I suggested Monday as new thread day because, whenever the new thread happens, it invites comments, and if there's nothing happening in that moment then the comments that happen are lower relevance. also I'm trying to take Sunday off from politics. If I'm wrong and there's a consensus for Sunday though that's fine.
posted by Rainbo Vagrant at 3:32 PM on July 30, 2018


Without wanting to canonize it or anything, I likewise feel like Monday mornings are probably a better choice than Sunday evenings. Putting a new post up when there's likely to be anything going on seems like a better move in general so that we don't have a lot of time- and space-filling waiting for stuff to happen.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:40 PM on July 30, 2018 [2 favorites]


an upper ceiling on comments-per-post

My preference is to look at normal social methods for changing how these theads work, namely, people can just post them at a lower comment count than has been the case lately. Like cortex said, more in the 1000-1500 range is totally fine.

And I'll say again: people don't need to drive themselves nuts trying to make an all-inclusive megapost. That's not a site demand. It's a self- or small-group-imposed expectation that artificially raises the threshold for posting, seemingly beyond where many people feel comfortable posting -- ditto the idea that Being a Megathread Poster is even a thing. If the heavy megathread participants are reinforcing these (seeming?) expectations, that daunt posters, maybe it's working against what they actually want?

So how big does a post need to be? lalex asked above about whether we can just make it so people can just post "here's a link from WTF just happened today" every single time -- IMO that'd be too far, it'd violate the spirit of trying to have something like traditional Mefi posting. But a post could just be links to good articles on the very few (say, three?) most pertinent or well-reported-on things.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 3:43 PM on July 30, 2018 [3 favorites]


In conjunction with that, I need to underline, people have done lots of great work putting together megaposts, and it's been super useful for a lot of people reading. That's great! I do truly appreciate all that work, it is amazing.

I'm just saying there is a middleground solution between the apparent status quo of gigantic-effort posts and the idea of zero-effort posts (automated or single-link-to-the-same-site posts), and maybe that middle ground of small-manageable-effort posts is what to look at if people want posts to happen more often.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 3:50 PM on July 30, 2018 [7 favorites]


Barack Spinoza, I understand that you are coming from a place of love or at least trying really hard to do so, but at this point your complaints about complaints about the political megathreads are even more cliché and predictable than the complaints you complain about. It's starting to recurse.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 4:01 PM on July 30, 2018 [4 favorites]


I ... uh ... are you referring to my Obamacare / ACA joke above? Then, no: I wasn’t seriously complaining about the imposition of a hypothetical MeFi tax, I mean, really?
posted by Barack Spinoza at 4:05 PM on July 30, 2018 [3 favorites]


No, I was responding to some of your earlier comments but y'know things have moved on and I should probably have just left it the heck alone so my apologies. You're a good person and a good mefite and I like you. Sorry for coming in and ruffling feathers that didn't need ruffling.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 4:07 PM on July 30, 2018 [2 favorites]


Fair enough. Thanks for the kind words. I’ll shut up so others can be heard in here. Catch (most of) ya’ll in the megathreads.
posted by Barack Spinoza at 4:09 PM on July 30, 2018 [1 favorite]


I would be very happy with weekly megathreads, or new ones every 1000-1500 comments, which ever comes first. I think automated is a bad idea, and that they should contain at least one link of the type that's normally reasonable for any other FPP.

I love the recap at the top of posts, but wouldn't mind, especially if it's more connected with a link to the past one, having the occasional political FPP that was "here's some links showing what John Oliver, Stephen Colbert, and Jimmy Kimmel have to say about last week's summit meeting."
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 4:21 PM on July 30, 2018 [1 favorite]


Without wanting to canonize it or anything, I likewise feel like Monday mornings are probably a better choice than Sunday evenings. Putting a new post up when there's likely to be anything going on seems like a better move in general so that we don't have a lot of time- and space-filling waiting for stuff to happen.

Exactly. By not wanting to canonize I assume that Sunday evenings are usually quiet but if some major shit hits the fan and the thread is creaking at the seams go make it as necessary?
posted by Definitely Not Sean Spicer at 4:28 PM on July 30, 2018


" but if some major shit hits the fan and the thread is creaking at the seams go make it as necessary?"

Yeah, that's fine. Just from experience with this, when a new megathread is posted Friday night, Saturday, or Sunday (i.e., when the news is slow), they fill up with off-topic chatter and riffing LIKE CRAZY, like 200 comments of nonsense we're having to delete, instead of a more typical 20-50 annoying chatter comments at the beginning. A lot of people seem to think "Let me post my hottest take/cleverest off-topic joke/hobbiest of horses/rehashiest of 2016 primary thoughts up here in a fresh thread where EVERYONE WILL READ IT!"

Which is, incidentally, another reason why mods are a little more hesitant to have more frequent fresh megathreads ... the beginnings of new megathreads are always hotbeds of bad behavior and deletions and intense moderation until they settle back in to their regular (still mod-intensive!) rhythm. I think that's relatively invisible to users (which is good!), but maybe helps with understanding why we're a bit more ambivalent about new threads. (And also if you suspect you resemble this remark, exercise extra restraint at the start of a new thread for the sake of your mods!)
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 4:38 PM on July 30, 2018 [6 favorites]


Y'all are too nice. I would never hack it as a mod, I'd be like "NO ONE WANTS TO HEAR YOUR CLEVER JOKE ABOUT CURRENT EVENTS STFU BEFORE I PERMABAN YOU AND SALT THE SERVER WHERE YOUR USER NUMBER SPAWNED!" Thanks for making the site useable and pleasant for us all to use, mods, sincerely.
posted by agregoli at 5:03 PM on July 30, 2018 [7 favorites]


Monetize the megathreads by showing ads for child refugee charities to everyone, logged in or not!

(Maybe not even ads per se, just pro bono for the charities, such that some good comes from so many fucked clusters).
posted by Rumple at 5:24 PM on July 30, 2018


Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The: "I'm not really sold on the idea that pagination would reduce substantive engagement. The idea that a newcomer to a megathread is going to dutifully read multiple thousands of comments before saying what they have to say—but only if those comments aren't broken up into manageable chunks—sounds pretty dubious to me. "

Not dubious at all. The first hundred or so comments of a new mega thread always include a dozen or so intentional repeats of a comment made in the last mega thread. You don't even need to be an active reader to see that as the commenters so often preface with "repeat comment from the last thread" or something to that effect. Commentors obviously feel that no one is going to read the comments down here/on the previous page.

I think this is one of the reasons why the multiple "New Thread" comments (like every second or third comment sometimes) drives me batty.
posted by Mitheral at 6:27 PM on July 30, 2018 [1 favorite]


Early on in this thread, I think some people got the wrong impression that I was against moderation. For the record, I strongly believe that the moderation is the best reason to be at MetaFilter, and it's what makes all the other good reasons possible. When I refer MetaFilter to my friends I make sure to tell them it's moderated, and they are impressed. So thanks mods!

Continuing the trend of clearing the air, I'll just mention that I have lurked here for years and only registered recently to respond to the financial crisis, so don't go by my comment count. While I'll never be one of the cool kids, I have indeed read the room. The megathread is highly contentful. It positively impacts my life and I am emotionally invested in it. I need to hear all the different opinions. I need to have my biases challenged. The megathread is like a lighthouse that illuminates the political landscape. Somehow I feel that with all this good information I actually stand a chance to understand what's happening and make the right decisions for me, my family, and my business. I want everyone to have this same chance. So thanks, megathread!
posted by M-x shell at 7:07 PM on July 30, 2018 [4 favorites]


If the megathreads wind up creating a situation where MeFites are paying other MeFites for creating MetaFilter posts

With just 12 links, you could make $4k per week or more on the internet!
posted by zarq at 8:02 PM on July 30, 2018


Man, can you imagine? I'd be a millionaire.
posted by zarq at 8:03 PM on July 30, 2018 [4 favorites]


Last night I put together what I think of as a minimum viable rolling politics post. I wasn't able to post it (I found an interesting new post form error) but posted it as a comment. Inside I had the housekeeping links. Do you think that's a good enough post?
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:12 PM on July 30, 2018 [2 favorites]


I think that would have been a good post indeed.
posted by zachlipton at 8:39 PM on July 30, 2018 [1 favorite]


You can change your (body, byline, title independently) font size in your profile. Does that not work on mobile?

Nope. Does not work on mobile. In fact it doesn't work for me at all. Classic mode if that makes a difference.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 6:18 AM on July 31, 2018


I'm like six years late posting as usual but jenfullmoon, it's totally helpful for people to think about how to make The Thread work better if we're all going to spend so much time there, and you shouldn't feel bad about posting. At all.
posted by gerstle at 6:31 AM on July 31, 2018 [2 favorites]


(Hey, I acted like a dick up-thread. I’ll do better.)
posted by Barack Spinoza at 2:15 PM on July 31, 2018 [5 favorites]


Would love love love smaller megathreads. I’m one of those idiots who reads them on my phone and it’s awful. I just don’t have the ability to read them elsewhere.
posted by greermahoney at 9:59 PM on July 31, 2018 [1 favorite]


Pagination would be great. It's hard enough to keep up with fast-moving content-heavy threads, especially if there are frequent updates or changes. Once a thread gets past 100ish comments it gets really tough to participate significantly because you're so far behind. But when you are on mobile and have made it down to the 500th comment, and something glitches resulting in an accidental return to the start of the thread... It's the very worst.
posted by windykites at 12:42 PM on August 21, 2018


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