ANOTHER RESET FOR POTUS45/POLITICS/CATCHALL MEGATHREADS? September 17, 2018 8:11 AM   Subscribe

Can we discuss doing another reset of expectations for the POTUS45/politics megathreads? I have been following the megathreads more or less obsessively ever since the election, and, like many others, have found them an extremely valuable resource for information regarding Trump-related stuff. I still do; however, these days I skim/sift through them pretty quickly, looking for the scarce wheat amongst the abundant chaff. While doing so, I get frustrated and find myself going into fits of flagging (Hi Mods!).

Today I was really irritated by the fact that when some actual breaking Mueller/Manafort news dropped, there continued to be this ongoing (and to my mind unrelated) discussion regarding Brett Kavanaugh and The Letter and private schools and OMG down the rabbithole, along with another one about whether or not NC people deserved hurricane assistance. In these situations, I certainly do consider making a comment about dropping the derail, but am discouraged by the fact that suggestions in this vein often seem to be ignored: although these topics pretty clearly seem like tangents, people just keep wading into the weeds. So I try to FIAMO instead. But I remain frustrated, and I am quite sure I am not alone in feeling this way.

Here’s one problem: These threads are tagged and generally referred to as “POTUS45” and/or “US politics” and/or “catch-all.” From moderator comments, it seems clear to me that at least some of the mods feel that these threads should stay pretty narrowly focused on Trump, the White House, and the Mueller investigation, and that would certainly be MY preference: THAT is what **I** am looking for: Breaking news about new shit Trump and his henchpeople are pulling and/or new developments in the Mueller investigation, along with INFORMED analysis of such. Obviously, though, there are some users who are looking at the “US politics” label and feeling (with good reason!) like anything and everything that is politics-related belongs in the megathread. I disagree! However, I understand the confusion. I therefore think that the labeling/tagging of the thread might be something that could stand some clarification, perhaps accompanied by a discussion of what generally constitutes fair game for these threads and what Falls Outside The Scope.

Here’s another problem: A while back there was a MetaTalk discussion about resetting expectations around participating in these threads, and since then, a link to that MetaTalk thread has been included in the intro to most if not all of these threads. The problem is that no one seems to be referring back to it (assuming people read through it in the first place), and at this point, nobody is going to in order to glean its salient points.

So my suggestion is to take the issues discussed in that thread and boil them down to a list of maybe about 6 bullet points to be repeated in each megathread. These points could include:
  • Keep jokes/riffing to a minimum.
  • Stay focused on Trump and the White House.
  • Avoid speculating about shit that hasn’t happened yet!
  • It’s OK to make brief mention of other political topics, but if you think the topic merits further discussion, make a separate post!
  • No matter how interesting you think they are, AVOID derails (Pretend it's the Third Rail and DO NOT TOUCH!), and when they come up, ignore them, avert your eyes, cast aside your eloquent thoughts and words, and let the derails die. Don’t dig in deeper and add fuel to the fire. Again, if you really want to discuss the topic, consider making a separate post or saving your thought for another time and place.
  • If you have super-hot breaking news that you feel must be posted IMMEDIATELY, slow down, take a breath, and wait a few minutes to see if someone else has posted the same news item. In this way we can minimize duplicate/triplicate posts of the same info all posted either simultaneously or within minutes of each other.
I am asking everyone to exercise a little self-restraint. Let’s avoid some kind of Tragedy of the Commons scenario and remember that all the individual hot takes, jokes, and derails just add to the overload that already afflicts these threads. In that vein, I would suggest that you ask yourself, before posting to a POTUS megathread, if your comment adds new information about Trump/Mueller developments. If you’re feeling the urge to display your rapier-like wit, there are plenty of other threads to exercise it in. Likewise, if you find yourself composing a multi-paragraph analysis of $TOPIC, consider making a separate post for it. Also remember that there are some very interesting posts on both the Blue and the Green that merit thoughtful discussion, and there are lots of “lighter-side” posts where your humor/riffing is more than welcome.

Shall we discuss?
  1. Narrowing the scope of megathreads: How narrow or broad? How to define?
  2. Bullet-pointed summary of expectations/guidelines regarding megathread participation: Additions, subtractions?
Thanks!
posted by littlecatfeet to Etiquette/Policy at 8:11 AM (87 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

Just to set the stage, as mods we're generally in favor of more focused catch-alls and occasional other threads for issues that warrant them. In order to make that a reality, though, we really need the community as a whole on board, so we're going to be watching this discussion with interest. We can react to flagging (and thank you all for flagging and cogent use of the new flag note function!) but it really works best when people abide by the norms by default.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 8:14 AM on September 17, 2018 [3 favorites]


(Also, littlecatfeet was kind enough to work with us a bit and delay posting this until Monday - thank you! - so "today" in the post is from a couple days ago.)
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 8:19 AM on September 17, 2018


I think that Kavanaugh and his confirmation are absolutely Trump/White House-related. Hurricane Florence, possibly less so, but FEMA's response is more than "tangential" to Trump/White House, especially given what we're hearing right now about how Brock Long is only keeping his job as head of FEMA because he's better at sucking up to Trump than Kirtsjen Nielsen is (not to mention that the differences in reaction to North Carolina and Puerto Rico is largely, if not entirely, due to Trump being in the White House).
posted by Etrigan at 8:25 AM on September 17, 2018 [20 favorites]


more focused catch-alls

What does this mean? It sounds like an oxymoron. Are they catch-all threads or Trump threads? I have taken them as catch-alls (since that is how they are described on the sidebar). I don't think they should be Trump-specific. We do not need a separate thread for every possibly-competitive election around the country, every new presidential appointment, every instance of executive-branch incompetence or malfeasance (e.g. Florence). These things are fundamentally related; what is the point of forcing them into a million tiny threads?
posted by enn at 8:28 AM on September 17, 2018 [12 favorites]


(If anything should be split off into its own thread, it's the Mueller stuff, which is not related to the actual policy disasters we are currently faced with, will not result in any legal action against Trump according to the investigating team itself, and seems at this point to exist for no other reason than to provide an excuse for congressional inaction and delay and a distraction from the aforementioned policy disasters.)
posted by enn at 8:32 AM on September 17, 2018 [3 favorites]


Here's another vote for NOT turning the megathreads into All Mueller, All the Time.
posted by Atom Eyes at 8:44 AM on September 17, 2018 [6 favorites]


Stay focused on Trump and the White House.

The Kavanuagh nomination is about Trump and the White House.
posted by Miko at 8:51 AM on September 17, 2018 [32 favorites]


I have a pet peeve, and I'm going to take it for a walk!

There's an entire subsite where the collective intelligence of MetaFilter can be brought to bear on detailed, timely, focused questions - questions I have paraphrased like: can the number of Supreme Court justices be increased? and Have any Democrats made this [EXTEMELY GOOGLABLE POLICY PROPOSAL] and why is gerrymandering allowed and can someone explain in detail the Senate rules .. so why are people not asking them there?

I understand that it feels like the politics threads are where all the smart, knowledgeable, engaged people hang out. But it's not.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:02 AM on September 17, 2018 [6 favorites]


We do not need a separate thread for every possibly-competitive election around the country

I think Metafilter needs - nay, *deserves* - a thread for the PA House District 44 race.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:02 AM on September 17, 2018 [8 favorites]


Count me in favor of "catch all" being exactly that, one stop shopping for news about the ongoing shit-show.
I used to follow the megathreads obsessively myself, and found it to be harmful, so I back away and now just touch base when something big(er) seems to be happening, since it's clear there is no "surely this" moment about to happen any time soon. Once I backed off I found that long side-discussions seem to follow slower news periods, but that it's not necessary to read every comment every day.

I really appreciate those contributors that post links to news outlets, essays, op/eds and breaking stories. I find that content to be more valuable than twitter quotes or other hot-takes, but that's just me.

My thoughts on a Mueller only thread would be to reiterate that "if that's the post you want, make that post" and see how it flies.
posted by OHenryPacey at 9:05 AM on September 17, 2018 [6 favorites]


Catch-all! All three branches of government and the fourth estate should remain legit foci of the Trumpthreads. (But probably not pie. I just mindlessly posted a recipe for pie. Sorry...)
posted by Don Pepino at 9:23 AM on September 17, 2018 [5 favorites]


I don't mind the riffs or even most of the derails but man alive if you've got a hobby horse you keep riding such that you have posted variations on the same comment knocking the same people 2-3 times in every megathread going back to the ancient days when the non-disclosure agreements were still in effect and wild Manaforts freely roamed the earth, may I ask you, gently, to give it a rest already
posted by prize bull octorok at 9:48 AM on September 17, 2018 [32 favorites]


Make your own thread. With blackjack and hookers. Picking on low hanging fruit in someone else's thread seems kind of crappy to me.

Personally I like the jokes and riffing to an extent, and I think that the mods are doing a fantastic job in keeping the threads (mostly) on course.

Just because you're tired of hearing about the Kavanaugh confirmation process doesn't mean everyone else is.
posted by Sphinx at 9:52 AM on September 17, 2018 [3 favorites]


I think the Kavanaugh hearings are exactly the sort of thing that are big and varied enough to warrant their own thread. It's less about topic divisions and more about proportion-of-conversation divisions.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 10:06 AM on September 17, 2018 [10 favorites]


I agree with restless_nomad. I don't know how I would make the distinction, and it may end up with more work for the mods, but some topics that are US politics do deserve their own threads.
posted by blurker at 10:16 AM on September 17, 2018 [3 favorites]


The Kavanuagh nomination is about Trump and the White House.

Agree! Unfortunately, my invocation of Kavanaugh as an example proves to be a poorly chosen one. My mention of "The Letter," FWIW, was meant to be a reference to the 65-women-in-support-of-Kavanaugh letter, which on Friday seemed derailish and discussion of which was devolving into an inventory of private schools in the DC area. HOWEVER, over the weekend, the whole Kavanaugh situation has completely blown up into super-hot breaking news. Which serves to illustrate:
1. It can be argued that (just about) EVERYTHING is Trump-related.
2. The volatility and unpredictability of today's political environment makes it very hard if not impossible to know what small, seemingly trivial item will blow up into a major issue and what seemingly HUGE MAJOR IMPORTANT issue will sink like a stone never to be seen again (which doesn't mean it's not still important, just (arguably) takes it out of the breaking news category).

So, yeah, I didn't mean to imply that Kavanaugh is not breaking news or not important or not Trump-related. I guess the question remains whether we might want to consider breaking things down a bit into separate threads (Mueller/Manafort vs SCOTUS/Kavanaugh confirmation vs Florence FEMA response vs whatever the next thing is) versus the catch-all, one-stop-shopping approach, and I confess I can see both sides; there certainly is a convenience factor involved in the catch-all method, and it eliminates the need to worry about how to categorize things that may fit more than one category. So, I'm somewhat ambivalent about that, but thought it perhaps worth some discussion. I will, however, stand by my argument in favor of more self-policing of these threads (fewer one-liners, less digging in on derails) in order to make the mod-policing a little less necessary.

Carry on.
posted by littlecatfeet at 10:31 AM on September 17, 2018 [1 favorite]


I am right there with you in that Kavanaugh himself is fair game for the threads but DC private schools aren't. Insofar as they relate to the letter, facts like his school being all-boy but having an all-girl school close by are also relevant. But that is where it stops, simple short facts and not any posters' interpretation of the meaning of those facts and how we need to feel about the letter in light of those facts. Links to that type of explanation with a short pull quote are probably appropriate, but refutations of those links start into derail territory again.
Then you get into people saying this is absolutely going to happen or that will never happen and that is when I close the thread.
posted by soelo at 10:42 AM on September 17, 2018 [1 favorite]


I just mindlessly posted a recipe for pie. Sorry...

I consider myself lucky to have witnessed the brief life of that comment. It was confusing in the best possible way.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 10:43 AM on September 17, 2018 [11 favorites]


Then you get into people saying this is absolutely going to happen or that will never happen and that is when I close the thread.

This is the biggest irritant in these threads for me, and I frequently stop myself from saying anything about it. Nobody knows exactly what the future holds, so please do not say this WILL happen, because you don't know that. I think this will happen, or I'm worried this will happen, or this is likely to happen because of x, those are all fine. But not certitude.

There is a contingent in the threads that is very certain they know how everything will go all the time, and I definitely notice when when one of their proclamations is falsified. You would think after all the craziness of the last two plus years, people would have more humility about this kind of thing.
posted by Chrysostom at 11:10 AM on September 17, 2018 [36 favorites]


Will the offshoot threads be hidden if I have US politics threads hidden?
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 11:21 AM on September 17, 2018 [3 favorites]



I don't mind the riffs or even most of the derails but man alive if you've got a hobby horse you keep riding...wild Manaforts freely roamed the earth, may I ask you,
gently, to give it a rest already
posted by prize bull octorok at 12:48 PM

I read that aloud just now in one breath which means I can keep smoking cigarettes.

Keep jokes/riffing to a minimum

Note to self: not an invitation.
posted by clavdivs at 11:24 AM on September 17, 2018 [3 favorites]


At the risk of making more work for the mods, I feel like there's a well-maintained signal-to-noise ratio on the megathreads. On the contrary, it's the discussion of events that trickle down minutia, feelings, and theory that keep me coming to MetaFilter over anywhere else on the internet. If I wanted nothing but the news, I would follow the news, y' know?

Posts tend to count here and I've learned so much from the resulting discussion. I would be severely disappointed if what is described here came to pass. All of these things contribute to the state of American politics and whether directly or indirectly, they affect the world that immediately surrounds me.
posted by Krazor at 1:40 PM on September 17, 2018 [12 favorites]


The megathreads have been going on since before the 2016 election, it was during the Democratic National Convention that Tehhund became a Metafilter folk hero. Chrysostom has posted about (hundreds of?) non-Trump state and local races, polls and elections. zachlipton introduced many of us to the phrase, National Treasure Alexandra Petri. The theory that these threads are supposed to center on the White House and Mueller investigation is ahistorical and bad. I don't know a thing about DC area private schools, I appreciated the chaff context. These threads are a conversation, not a bullet point list of links.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 2:12 PM on September 17, 2018 [28 favorites]


I think the Kavanaugh hearings are exactly the sort of thing that are big and varied enough to warrant their own thread. It's less about topic divisions and more about proportion-of-conversation divisions.

Then why should Kavanaugh get split off from the catch-all thread and not Mueller or Manafort, which consistently take up a huge proportion of the conversation?

If the mods don't want catch-all threads, OK, but so long as we have them, it gets really old playing the guessing game of whether or not a particular story will be deemed too big and forced into its own thread, or whether it will be allowed under whatever mysterious dispensation allows certain stories (Mueller, Comey, Omarosa, Woodward, etc.), no matter how big, to always stay in the catch-all thread. It sucks when your comment gets deleted because you guessed wrong.
posted by enn at 2:15 PM on September 17, 2018 [4 favorites]


I think what you described is pretty much the threads working as they've been intended. The megathreads have never been constrained just to Trump and the White House specifically. Actions in the legislature and judiciary have often been more significant and worthy of attention, not to mention elections. The Supreme Court and Kavanaugh are not off-topic for the megathreads. That's what makes them megathreads: the actual FPP text may be anchored around some particular events of the moment (and I'll just use this opportunity to once again thank Doktor Zed for the large amount of work it takes to do these), but the actual topics discussed will quickly veer off into the news of the day, which often changes on a minute-by-minute basis.

I'm not sure who "some of the mods feel that these threads should stay pretty narrowly focused on Trump, the White House, and the Mueller investigation" are. What I've seen is really all of the mods suggesting that specific discussions that get too deep into the weeds on any detail should come to an end, whether those discussions are specifically about Trump or not. A 20-comment discussion into how Trump looks in a photo is just as much something that needs to wrap up as a 20-comment discussion into DC area private schools.

But there is merit in breaking off specific topics to their own thread. This recently happened for the NY primaries and leftist foreign policy. It works best when the topic is pretty separable from ongoing megathread stuff, or there ends up being a bunch of traffic cop "that goes in the other thread" stuff going on.

I agree it makes sense to break the Kavanaugh stuff off into its own thread. Doing so also allows people to participate in that discussion who don't otherwise do the megathreads, and allows people who want to avoid that discussion to do so. It does usually have the not so fun side effect that posting that new thread effectively results in starting the discussion over again though.

While recognizing the need for judgement and self-restraint, if these threads are devoid of all jokes and wit, I'm not really sure what the point is.
posted by zachlipton at 2:17 PM on September 17, 2018 [6 favorites]


it gets really old playing the guessing game of whether or not a particular story will be deemed too big and forced into its own thread

Could you say more about how this works? What I usually see is that the of the own thread stories tend to start off on-topic in the megathread and get broken off after someone posts a focused FPP about that topic. I'm curious how your experience is different.

Sometimes it's not always super clear where a discussion is happening (I missed this last week with NY primary results, and was helpfully directed), and I'd agree we can do a better job of providing those directions.
posted by zachlipton at 2:23 PM on September 17, 2018 [1 favorite]


My mention of "The Letter," FWIW, was meant to be a reference to the 65-women-in-support-of-Kavanaugh letter, which on Friday seemed derailish and discussion of which was devolving into an inventory of private schools in the DC area.

I'm sorry I ruined your weekend by making one comment responding to the dozen people shouting "bullshit" to finding 65 women supporting Kavanaugh by pointing out that the DC prep school world is a little different that the typical high school experience. I'll just shout GRAR! like everybody else from now on and keep jokes/riffing relevant knowledge/experience to a minimum.
posted by peeedro at 2:32 PM on September 17, 2018 [9 favorites]


Could you say more about how this works?

The NY primary was a case in point. A mod declared it off-topic in the catch-all thread and began deleting all NY-primary-related comments (including mine) even though there was no current NY primary thread (the thread linked in that mod comment was a month old and was hours away from being closed). Later on, schadenfrau did create a new thread specifically for the NY primary. But of course those who had their comments deleted did not get them transferred over, and the NY primary thread had fewer participants than I think the discussion would have if it had been allowed to take place in the main thread, as have many, many other states' primaries over this election season.

(I attempted to post a MetaTalk thread about this at the time, but like all such attempts of mine since the "queue" was created, the mods killed it.)
posted by enn at 2:35 PM on September 17, 2018 [4 favorites]


While recognizing the need for judgement and self-restraint, if these threads are devoid of all jokes and wit, I'm not really sure what the point is.

Well, for me Thread is about getting both the news and having more of a context for interpreting what news is there. There is a limit to what actual news stories provide in terms of context. So, for example, I knew from my days as a young National Review reader (ugh, yes, I know) that the GOP thought the torpedoing of Bork's nomination was unjust but didn't learn until Thread that 1. they STILL grouse about it and 2. Bork was the one that assisted the Saturday Night Massacre and SCOTUS was supposed to be his payoff! That's insane.

Jokes are fun but they inflate the comment count. I'm guilty myself but I'm really trying to cut down. What really gets my goat is the garment-rending about those traitor Democrats and how you know Manchin and Schumer are losing on PURPOSE because that makes a goddamn lick of sense somehow.
posted by Jpfed at 2:52 PM on September 17, 2018 [3 favorites]


I would rather we don't split off every Kavanaugh-sized storyline into its own series of megathreads. The Kavanaugh nomination process has been happening since late July, and most days (not today, but most days) nothing much happens with it. Same for Manafort, the Mueller investigation, the midterms, etc. Plus, all of those topics interrelate pretty closely and affect each other in ways both obvious and subtle.

If we're going to have separate threads about discrete events like the NY primaries, fine. If we're going to have ongoing conversations about continuously-developing storylines, let's keep them all in one place. Let the catch-all be a catch-all.

More generally, I would also be distinctly un-thrilled if the Politics Megathread suddenly spawned a litter of baby megathreads. The megathread serves a purpose, but in general I don't think that sort of thread is what MetaFilter is good at, nor do I think that it's particularly good for MetaFilter. I'd prefer it if its footprint remained as small as reasonably possible and if it remained an exception rather than a new normal. That, or just bite the bullet and make a proper PoliticsFilter subsite.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 3:25 PM on September 17, 2018 [10 favorites]


I thought the whole point of the megathreads was to sequester most of the US political news in one place so it wouldn't be like kudzu overtaking the front page and the whole rest of the site all the time. Like, that is the specific reason that the megathreads exist.
posted by Hal Mumkin at 4:19 PM on September 17, 2018 [24 favorites]


I think the Kavanaugh hearings are exactly the sort of thing that are big and varied enough to warrant their own thread. It's less about topic divisions and more about proportion-of-conversation divisions.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 1:06 PM on September 17


Counter-point to that, though, is in the comment littlecatfeet makes just a little below:

"HOWEVER, over the weekend, the whole Kavanaugh situation has completely blown up into super-hot breaking news. [. . . ] The volatility and unpredictability of today's political environment makes it very hard if not impossible to know what small, seemingly trivial item will blow up into a major issue and what seemingly HUGE MAJOR IMPORTANT issue will sink like a stone never to be seen again (which doesn't mean it's not still important, just (arguably) takes it out of the breaking news category)."

Wherein, yeah, before this weekend Kavanaugh/SCOTUS was maybe not really proportion-of-conversation enough to warrant a separate thread - it was a done deal, some Repub Senators were going to make concerned noises and vote for him anyway, the only uncertainties were how long the Dems could stall, how much MSM coverage of how horrible he is the Dems could get while stalling, and which red-state Dems might flip in self-preservation. Kavanaugh covered in the catch-all threads seemed about right.

Then BOOM.

So . . . I dunno, really. I guess in a "normal" timeline, sure, a separate thread for the SCOTUS nom would make sense, especially after these major revelations, but in a "normal" timeline we wouldn't have megathreads in the first place . . .

I guess I'm leaning towards leaving the catch-alls quite catch-all, Kavanaugh and Mueller and FEMA and all, but with (as asked) a little more self-policing.
posted by soundguy99 at 4:29 PM on September 17, 2018 [1 favorite]


My secret pony wish is for the Blue to have two sub-sites.
One sub-site for the posts that are designed to inform and convince. Basically all the politics, obits, news, call to actions, opinion pieces, etc.
The a second sub-site for "Hey, look at this cool thing I found on the internet".

For example, using some recent posts:

Site A - "Must Reads":
Spring forth, but don't fall back
New study released for effects of ACE (adverse childhood experience)
Lancaster Stands Up
American Farmers Are in Crisis
The point of life isn’t to prolong youth, but to have grown up.
Linux Kernel adopts code of conduct
Hurricane Florence and Its Burdens

Site B: "Cool Reads"
Cycling at 183.93 miles per hour
Royal D. Suttkus Fish Collection: swamp bunker with 8 million dead fish
Not all nursery rhymes are nice nursery rhymes
Mustachioed Monkeys
what made this guy want to spend so much cash in secret?
Yellow brick road, minus the bricks
Let the Nomad Games Begin!
And of course any Johnny Wallflower post

In this personal fantasy land, the serious is separated from the cool. I don't know, it's just that sometimes, after a hard day, a page full of low-stress cool internet things really calms me down. And when I'm refreshed and got my energy back, I can tackle those more serious reads.

I'm not quite sure how this is related to baby-mega-thread-spin-offs, but seemed to tie in somehow. But it's also possible my brain is addled from not reading enough cool things yet.
posted by forforf at 4:36 PM on September 17, 2018 [6 favorites]


Sometimes, after a hard day you might enjoy the Best of Metafilter. It's not updated every day, but I always find something cool that I missed. Metafilter twitter is also a source of neat curated links.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 4:47 PM on September 17, 2018 [2 favorites]


I do feel like, over time, a greater and greater percentage of posts have been "people should see this" rather than "people will want to see this" posts. I don't want to kick off a massive derail about general site culture though, so suffice to say that I think the catch-all thread is the epitome of the "people should see this" genre, and that I think it would not be a great thing for MetaFilter as a vibrant, interesting, diverse community of cool people sharing witty insights about neat stuff they found on the web if said catch-all were allowed to breed and multiply. This place can be enough of a downer outrage-fest as it is. I mean I get that there's a lot of important and terrible shit happening in the world at all times, but being plugged into a constant stream of that stuff is not what made me like this place back in the day.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 4:52 PM on September 17, 2018 [20 favorites]


Im fine with the megathreads as catch alls. I am also fine with the noise being shut down when the signal is faint especially speculation and what ifs. I have a mind of my own and can invent what I like on my own.
Its the facts and interpretations from different and varied sources far and wide that I appreciate.
posted by adamvasco at 7:04 PM on September 17, 2018


I am pretty okay with the threads as they are. I had a misconceived comment promptly deleted a month or so back, which was great because I don't want to be that person but apparently was (thanks, mods!). Recently I was kind of annoyed by the folks convinced that the 65 supporters of the SC Justice nominee in the infamous Letter had been pre-selected by the GOP but my annoyance was largely because people made that same claim repeatedly and alright already. As a result, I much appreciated peeedro's perspective, which brought some reality-based context to the thread re: The Letter (not that it stuck). TL;DR: I think the latest iteration of the megathreads mostly works as is. Also: There is no cabal.
posted by Bella Donna at 7:34 PM on September 17, 2018 [1 favorite]


As a slightly ashamed megathread f5 dopamine rat: here’s another vote for keeping everything in the megathreads as much as possible. Both for the reasons outlined above, and also because that tends to keep the signal:noise higher - when you can post about new developments in subjects W and Z, there’s less incentive to make an empty comment about subjects X and Y just to keep an exciting conversation moving during a lull. [In this example, subjects X and Y are “what might happen in the Mueller investigation in the future” and “how might Dems snatch defeat from the jaws of victory”, respectively].

Also, for me personally, an all-Mueller-all-the-time thread would be terrible for my mental health. I’m a lot more hopeful about the outcome than enn is, but I’m still bound to be disappointed (by anything less than a result of “Trump and all of his enablers spend the rest of their lives in jail, from tomorrow onwards”). Mueller is the most exciting part of the megathreads to me, but I think also the area where we have the least signal to go on, and therefore the subject most susceptible to speculation and constant echos of the same hopes. That feeling that we have a ringside side to history in the making - one way or the other - while we speculate in an atmosphere of righteous fury about a secretive investigation... To me it feels uncomfortably close to how I imagine the Qanon true believers must feel, and I know that a lot of them have been totally consumed by their obsession. I don’t want to spend the next few months of my life thinking constantly about Mueller, whether or not the investigation brings down Trump.

From the perspective of an obsessive megathread lurker and occasional contributor, a few things are super helpful for me in calming down: Chrysostom’s comments, that remind everyone that politics is an ongoing, local, often unromantic process that people should redirect their energy towards, instead of Mueller speculation; prize bull octorok’s comments, which often run counter to a developing consensus where everyone gets angry and starts to vent their frustration at an undeserving target - I can’t imagine those are super fun to put out when everyone is getting caught up in the moment and looking to argue, but they are a welcome note of sanity from a non-neutral perspective that’s generally unavailable to the mods; and finally the mod notes and reminders.

The mod notes do actually work - I flagged a comment of my own for deletion a couple of threads back a minute or two after posting, because in light of the thread guidance I wasn’t happy with how I was catastophising about a hypothetical situation. I mean - I’m sure it would have been deleted anyhow, but it’s representative of how many comments I’ve considered but not ended up writing, because I didn’t think they were useful. That’s actually a big part of why I’m a megathread lurker, rather than contributor (that, and I never get to the bottom...).

The other type of mod note that I think are really helpful are the occasional “hey, here’s what’s going on elsewhere on the site”, athough I haven’t seen so many recently. I don’t think it would be a terrible policy to automatically add a note every 100 comments or so with something like that. Maybe even a list of links to the five most recent post titles on the main page, Ask and FanFare, without any particular mod curation. Kind of like netflix’s “are you still watching because maybe you should go for a walk or something” message.
posted by chappell, ambrose at 8:10 PM on September 17, 2018 [14 favorites]


I'm okay with a bullet pointed reminder being posted at the beginning of each thread. Not everybody checks out MetaTalk, and it' safe to assume that newcomers to Metafilter are not going to go back and scroll through past discussions on the gray. That said, I'm in camp Catch-all. FWIW, I think the megathreads are much improved since the mod intervention, dialogue, and self-reflection which led to the big revamp. I'm happy with the current signal-noise balance.And I personally appreciate Chrysothom's contributions regarding local political races which may fly beneath the inconsistent focus of national mainstream media but are something that folks interested in national politics might find hard to locate and track on their own. He, Zachlipton and many other regulars are National Treasures IMHO.
posted by LeftMyHeartInSanFrancisco at 1:51 AM on September 18, 2018 [1 favorite]


My secret pony wish is for the Blue to have two sub-sites.
One sub-site for the posts that are designed to inform and convince. Basically all the politics, obits, news, call to actions, opinion pieces, etc.
The a second sub-site for "Hey, look at this cool thing I found on the internet".


I have to reply to this because I am seeing red over this comment. When people this fundamentally misunderstand what MetaFilter is and what it's for, there is no solution to the problem of catchall megathreads. News, politics, obits, calls to action, and opinion pieces used to get deleted on this site.
posted by capricorn at 7:51 AM on September 18, 2018 [11 favorites]


It all needs to stay in one thread unless there is an extraordinary situation. If you have a bunch of offshoot political threads, the mods will have to wrangle people commenting in the mega-thread when there's a specific thread. They'll be like traffic cops. It's a waste of their time.

The theory that these threads are supposed to center on the White House and Mueller investigation is ahistorical and bad.

This is also my understanding of megathread. It's for everything. The appointment of a 5th conservative SC justice is at least as important as Mueller.
posted by Mavri at 8:04 AM on September 18, 2018 [2 favorites]


I'd rather have one US-politics-as-a-shitshow megathread going at a time. I usually follow them just to stay informed, but contribute rarely. If there were two or more threads, it just makes keeping up more annoying, and do you get double-comments when there's crossover information. A single thread also brings pressure on making sure what goes in it is newsworthy. There'd be twice as much noise with two threads, I'm certain. And almost twice as much mod effort to keep it under control.
posted by seanmpuckett at 8:33 AM on September 18, 2018 [3 favorites]


My secret pony wish is for the Blue to have two sub-sites.

mathowie: Metafilter was just the showroom, something for the tourists. Site B was the factory floor; that was on the wiki, or buried deep in profile pages. We bred the posts there, and nurtured them for a few months and then moved them into the front page.
...
Don't worry, I'm not making the same mistakes again.

cortex: No, you're making all new ones. Mat...! So there's another website with trolls -no $5 gate this time!- and you want to send users in, very few users, on the ground?! And who are these four lunatics that you're trying to con into this?!
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:46 AM on September 18, 2018 [1 favorite]


capricorn: "When people this fundamentally misunderstand what MetaFilter is and what it's for, there is no solution to the problem of catchall megathreads. News, politics, obits, calls to action, and opinion pieces used to get deleted on this site."

Used to, yes. Haven't done so for quite some time. Metafilter also used to leave things like, "I'd hit it" go un-deleted. We don't do that anymore.

Sites, like all things, evolve. I think maybe you might want to think about if it's other people who are misunderstanding what Metafilter is.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:28 AM on September 18, 2018 [19 favorites]


Nice false equivalency there, but sure. I don't think the deletion criteria should be exactly the same as they were in 1999, because the internet isn't the same as in 1999. But ultimately if MetaFilter becomes a place primarily for engaging in discussion about the news, rather than finding cool stuff on the internet, you'll always get unmanageable megathreads no matter what policies you set.
posted by capricorn at 11:39 AM on September 18, 2018 [2 favorites]


Well, there's plenty of fun on the front page, so not much of a concern for right now.
posted by agregoli at 12:22 PM on September 18, 2018 [1 favorite]


Can the list of rules include:

Search this thread and the last for your link/topic before posting it. Duplication wastes everyone’s time.

That’s my pet peeve.
posted by greermahoney at 2:19 PM on September 18, 2018 [10 favorites]


I also dislike when the thread splits. I mean, I hate a huuuuge derail, but the times when a major political thing has happened and it’s warranted its own thread, it seems that there has to be a bunch of mod comments to keep everything in the “right” place and I have to follow two politics threads. Then it’s quieter in the megathread and people start to get more chatty and riffy there. Dislike. Prefer one catch-all, for the most part.
posted by greermahoney at 3:36 PM on September 18, 2018 [1 favorite]


I have no particular bone to pick about the megathreads right now, so I’ll just express my gratitude for everyone who makes them happen and (usually) happen gracefully. I’d name names, but I’d hate to omit anyone, so thank you all. (If you suspect I’m talking about you, you’re right!)
posted by Barack Spinoza at 4:00 PM on September 18, 2018 [3 favorites]


I enjoy the megathreads tremendously for a few minutes at a time but once they fall off the front page, finding them in mobile is just slightly more work and I tend to forget.

So if I could make a request it would actually be that we start a new one more often.

Also, I prefer more banter and jokes and a looser conversational approach. If I wanted just the facts I would RTFA's.
posted by mai at 4:15 PM on September 18, 2018 [1 favorite]


OP here to say thanks to all who have taken the time to share your perspectives in response to my post. You all have some very good points and have convinced me that I may well have been attempting to solve a "problem" that does not in fact exist -- except in my own mind -- which is, of course, exactly where it can be most effectively addressed: that is, by my own self-regulation of my thread consumption behavior, including the frustration it sometimes creates for me, along with all the other emotions engendered by the current political situation. Indeed, I think it's time for me to take the advice I have recently received from my favorite mental health professional and back off a bit, at least for a while. This means that I'm going to take a break from flagging and go back to silently observing and appreciating the many valuable comments that you all contribute while at the same time attempting to moderate my consumption to a degree that both encourages my own sanity and discourages my feelings of irritation. I mean it's not like there's anything stopping me from simply skipping things that bug me: Now there's a simple solution! I'm sorry to have let my crabbiness get the better of me and therefore to have made my remarks in a tone which suggested disrespect to and/or dismissal of any of you: Not my intent, but clearly what came across (and I see why) and for that I sincerely apologize. I agree with what seems to be the general consensus of this discussion, which is that self-regulation of these catch-all threads seems to be working well enough for the time being and my "help" is not needed. I am therefore giving myself an "F" in reading the room and am putting myself in time-out for now :). Again, apologies for the disruption, and thanks to all for your valuable contributions, both in this discussion and the ongoing political threads.
posted by littlecatfeet at 6:13 PM on September 18, 2018 [5 favorites]


Not a problem, littelcatfeet. MeTa is for raising concerns, and it's always cool to do that, even if it turns out not everyone shares them.
posted by Chrysostom at 6:43 PM on September 18, 2018 [4 favorites]


You're among friends, which is the best place to be crabby once in a while. Take care, enjoy a crisp autumn day, some decorative gourds, and look before you leap into the depths of a megathread next time, your mind will thank you for it.
posted by OHenryPacey at 11:30 PM on September 18, 2018 [1 favorite]


Obligatory: It's Decorative Gourd Season, Motherfuckers.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:30 AM on September 19, 2018 [4 favorites]


littlecatfeet, you're ok and I hope you don't really feel like you need to be in timeout. These megathreads make everybody crabby at various times and different things will be the camel-back-breaker for different people. The way the threads are going is basically an effort to mostly balance those annoyances and preferences most of the time -- it's always going to be imperfect. So it's very reasonable -- and I think probably most people's default state -- to be sort of annoyed or fed up with some aspects of how it's going at a given time. It's really good to have the periodic space for folks to talk over how the balance is working for them.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 9:20 AM on September 19, 2018 [4 favorites]


I like how the mega threads are being moderated, with one exception. I HATE when the comment I was using to hold my place gets deleted. I try to make sure to use more substantial comments, but sometimes (like last night) a whole derail gets deleted (which I’m fine with) but then my phone reloads the thread and I lose my place and have to scroll, scroll, scroll, searching for where I left off.

I doubt it, but is there any way to leave, like, an anchor dot or something when stuff is deleted so I don’t lose my place?
posted by Weeping_angel at 12:33 PM on September 19, 2018 [2 favorites]


You're fine by me, littlecatfeet. Perfectly legit MeTa in my opinion, nothing to be ashamed of on your end.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 5:09 PM on September 19, 2018 [2 favorites]


Despite being the first contrarian reply, I also think this was a good MeTa. Even the ones that don’t change policy or practice are still valuable as thermometers.
posted by Etrigan at 5:37 PM on September 19, 2018 [2 favorites]


I HATE when the comment I was using to hold my place gets deleted.

Same here. And the nearest mod comment—undeletable by definition—is often quite a ways back. Oh well, it's not like it happens every day.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 7:54 PM on September 19, 2018 [1 favorite]


I do think part of the ongoing nature of the threads means that "stuff which happens" (read: NewsFilter) gets dropped into the thread. I suspect I read stuff in my periodic PgDns which has probably been removed by a mod later so I try not to assume I know the exact state of any current thread. Mind you, there was a useful comment/link to a Cato-institute powered PDF about The Right Brexit which was being pushed in the UK. That probably belongs in the current Brexit thread, assuming such a thing exists (or should exist). News about events in $COUNTRY belongs in its own topic, news about the Trump WH policy and its effects on $COUNTRY is entirely appropriate.
posted by I'm always feeling, Blue at 9:15 PM on September 19, 2018 [1 favorite]


If a topic needs to be split out of the megathread, it tends to get done by a user or the prompting of the mods. I think the fact that these corollary/side/periphery/derail topics start within the limits of the megathread keeps the main page a lot more pleasant.

I don't know how the mods could come down any harder on the chattiness and bon mots without discouraging some valuable context or perspectives. To me, it's bearable, and I mean that as a really high compliment to the mods.
posted by klarck at 5:02 AM on September 20, 2018 [2 favorites]


I agree with everything that has been suggested and want to add that I had an *amazing* comment that was both humorous and very trenchant that was summarily deleted. In fact, the whole topic was excised. It was a good call on whichever mod's part, because though it was tangentially related to the general discussion (Dr. Ford's letter), it was also irrelevant.

It was an interesting deletion because (though my brilliant comment was, maybe, the most brilliant of all brilliant comments ever in the history of brilliantly commenting on internet fora) it changed the tenor of the thread as a whole - in a good way. It was a first-rate job of editing.

The one thing I think might be apposite, is to like questions being posed in AskMe that are pertinent to the latest mega-thread. That is, moving those questions to their rightful place is a "yeah, totally, we should totally do that I don't know why that hasn't been brought up already" point - but I'd like to know about them as these asides are often great.

Also I want to buy a beer/beverage of choice to everyone for the honest and earnest participation in these threads.
posted by From Bklyn at 5:30 AM on September 20, 2018 [2 favorites]


I'd rather have one US-politics-as-a-shitshow megathread going at a time.

As someone outside the US who is still highly engaged with US politics, this is how I feel too.

If a topic needs to be split out of the megathread, it tends to get done by a user or the prompting of the mods. I think the fact that these corollary/side/periphery/derail topics start within the limits of the megathread keeps the main page a lot more pleasant.

I don't know how the mods could come down any harder on the chattiness and bon mots without discouraging some valuable context or perspectives. To me, it's bearable, and I mean that as a really high compliment to the mods.


I strongly agree with this.

Yeah, I know I've gotten chatty in a bunch of these and been like "Oh, ho, ho, I'm bringing levity to this horribleness," and the whole tangent was deleted and that was fine because that riffing didn't improve the information richness of the thread. And that information density is why I go to them to begin with. I mean, hot takes abound; there's no shortage of that particular commodity here or anywhere else.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 5:30 PM on September 20, 2018


I'm tired of people expressly ignoring the mods every time a new politics thread is posted, and immediately begin gunking it up with one liners and little excited notes. It happens every time. Save it for the Fucking Fuck thread or chat.
posted by agregoli at 9:35 AM on September 24, 2018 [4 favorites]


Can we delete the standard issue Manchin defence on sight please? It adds nothing and is disruptive.
posted by Artw at 7:58 AM on September 26, 2018


People feel the same way about the standard issue Manchin criticism. Because we have been around that topic a gazillion times and both sides' points are the same, over and over and over again.

I think it'd probably go better if folks didn't phrase things as rhetorical questions - "why does anyone think it's okay to x?" - because that phrasing makes other people answer the question, which sounds like a defense, when the question was really just supposed to be a statement "If anyone defends x I will scream".

And the flip side, it'd be good if the answerers/explainers also took a moment and just refrained from "answering" things phrased like that - those aren't actual questions, those are people expressing incredulous anger.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 8:28 AM on September 26, 2018 [3 favorites]


Here's the comment that prompted the rant this time.

It's a link and a quote from the link on the voting intentions of a group of dems, which would seem like exactly the sort of thing the thread is for. It does have one line of commentary at the bottom. As comments go it is very much not noise.

And here's the standard rant in response I mentioned. It is not a link. It is not new information. It is very much commentary and commentary on other users at that, containing such gems as "My suggestion here is that we all go on outside and play a game of hide and who fucking gives a shit? ", "Holy fuck this makes me angry", "Fucking circular firing squads every day".

This is a noise comment. Even if you interpret the comments as addressed at the article or some mysterious "they" rather than fellow users, which is a dodgy proposition as it raises points not raised by the article. I suggest going ahead and getting rid of it and similar comments in future.

I think it'd probably go better if folks didn't phrase things as rhetorical questions - "why does anyone think it's okay to x?"

It's a request, not a rhetorical question. I'll avoid phrasing them like that in future.
posted by Artw at 9:29 AM on September 26, 2018


(To be clearer, the rhetorical-question phrasing thing wasn't to something you said specifically, more a general observation about how trouble often spins up, that someone will put something that way and draw a response that's the opposite of what they wanted.)
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 9:32 AM on September 26, 2018 [1 favorite]


how about we just delete any editorializing comments about Manchin that aren't from Mefites from the great state of West Virginia
posted by prize bull octorok at 10:02 AM on September 26, 2018


It is unclear to me if phearlez is from WV, but commenting on actions the affect all users should be open to all users.
posted by Artw at 10:54 AM on September 26, 2018


how about we just delete any editorializing comments about Manchin that aren't from Mefites from the great state of West Virginia

Nelson got a mention in that rant-prompting comment, too, and given that I would probably deliberately sneeze on him and throw the rest of my tepid coffee in his face right now if he walked into the room where I sit, boiling with rage, and further given that I'll be voting in the great state of Florida in November, I kind of appreciated the reminder that his intolerable coyness about his Kavanaugh vote might be strategic and I should still fucking mark his little fucking bubble all black as tar come November. Perhaps I will hold the pen in my fist and stab the little bubble and pretend it is his eyeball.
posted by Don Pepino at 12:04 PM on September 26, 2018 [1 favorite]


I think it'd probably go better if folks didn't phrase things as rhetorical questions - "why does anyone think it's okay to x?" - because that phrasing makes other people answer the question, which sounds like a defense, when the question was really just supposed to be a statement "If anyone defends x I will scream".

And the flip side, it'd be good if the answerers/explainers also took a moment and just refrained from "answering" things phrased like that - those aren't actual questions, those are people expressing incredulous anger.


Thank you for pointing out this dynamic; it gave me a light-bulb moment. I think I've been on both sides before--and I'm not even a very frequent participant in the politics threads--and I can see now how it seldom makes a thread better.
posted by mixedmetaphors at 4:03 PM on September 27, 2018


Welp, here we go again. At least he didn’t cut and paste in his long form version. (That’ll be Friday, no doubt)
posted by Artw at 9:29 AM on October 4, 2018


Looks to me like we've got both "Manchin is bad" and "Manchin is doing what he has to" comments standing.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:47 AM on October 4, 2018 [1 favorite]


Mmm hmm.

How about you don’t do the cut and paste Friday?
posted by Artw at 11:06 AM on October 4, 2018


Me? I don't do *any* longform commenting except polling stuff and article pull quotes, so I don't really know what you are talking about. I said one time today - briefly - what I thought, and that's all. Other people disagreed - Rust Moranis, right after me - and that's fine.

You seem to be saying "Manchin is bad" should stand and "Manchin does what he has to do" should be deleted, but that's not really a reasonable way to run the thread.
posted by Chrysostom at 1:05 PM on October 4, 2018


I'd really prefer we just drop the impossibly circular position statements on Manchin altogther.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 2:28 PM on October 4, 2018 [1 favorite]


I don't come to the megathreads for news. Like, it's a place to pick up news, certainly, but if what I wanted was specifically news there are at least a dozen better places to go.

I come to the megathreads, and metafilter as a whole, because there are a handful of people (soren_lorenson, Frowner, corb, Eyebrows McGee, sciatrix, etc.) who are devastatingly smart, just like next-level brilliant even by the standards of this self-consciously smartiepants site, and who every so often post longish thoughtful highly personal comments that radically change both the way I think about things and the way I think I should live. I'm not here for news about breaking events. I'm here for insights won from activist experience, from careers in local politics, from decades of figuring out how to be a decent person in a benighted world that hates decent people. Most of these comments are, from the perspective of reportage on day-to-day events, derails.

also I'm here because it's been fun to watch The Whelk go from being charmingly dapper and witty to being a charmingly dapper witty committed socialist to being, as far as I can tell, the literal reincarnation of Oscar Wilde.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that the megathreads are a really great place to find people talking about politics, politics writ large, politics writ small (I live for canvas reports!), political philosophy and political praxis. Which is something different than talking about news and events. like basically I keep showing up because I figure if I've got to live through the return of global fascism, at the very least I'm going to enjoy the funny little Weimar-era political salon we've got on this site.

Kvetching about Manchin gets in the way of that, of course, as does kvetching about people kvetching about Manchin. That stuff is boring and useless and can be found anywhere and should be deleted immediately.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 8:23 AM on October 5, 2018 [1 favorite]


Could we please not do the "the following is a list of the best people on this site" thing here? Please?
posted by holborne at 10:44 AM on October 5, 2018 [4 favorites]


I think you should drastically and significantly downgrade your estimation of the smartypants smartness of any and all commenters.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:49 AM on October 5, 2018 [3 favorites]


I miss You Can't Tip a Buick.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:16 PM on October 7, 2018 [5 favorites]


CNN had a problem and Trump solved it (Ironically (?) via NYT)
[...]
Nate Silver is worried not only about the senate, but about the house as well


I'm getting a little frustrated with blind links to headlines that twig my clickbait gland. I'd like to see at least a little context if the headline is less than informative.
posted by rhizome at 8:42 AM on October 8, 2018 [2 favorites]


*whistles innocently*
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 1:12 PM on October 8, 2018 [1 favorite]


I was a nice guy and didn't call it out in thread!
posted by rhizome at 2:01 PM on October 8, 2018


Today, I learned something.
posted by Chrysostom at 6:32 PM on October 8, 2018


and that I think it would not be a great thing for MetaFilter as a vibrant, interesting, diverse community of cool people sharing witty insights about neat stuff they found on the web if said catch-all were allowed to breed and multiply. - Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The

One of the things that makes this difficult is people dragging their bad feelings about US politics into unrelated threads, filling those threads with comments in which they insist on not RTFA, and drowning out any other engagement.

If people, and let's be real clear here, I'm taking about you specifically, could refrain from doing that, posting "neat stuff they found on the web" will go easier.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:43 AM on October 9, 2018


OK, point taken and thank you.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 6:18 PM on October 9, 2018


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