Breaking News Deletion April 15, 2019 12:57 PM   Subscribe

Our Lady of Paris (Notre Dame) is in flames, the spire and roof have fallen, the news images are heart-breaking. I come to MeFi to learn more and to share this terrible moment and mourn with my community. Posts are deleted.

This post was deleted for the following reason: This is the kind of breaking news that doesn't work well here - let's wait at least a couple hours for more information and then we can discuss it. -- restless_nomad
This post was deleted for the following reason: Let’s wait a bit - MetaFilter is not a breaking news site. -- restless_nomad

Breaking news of this magnitude is very much what I want and which MeFi does well.
posted by theora55 to Etiquette/Policy at 12:57 PM (392 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite

I know this is an emotional thing for a lot of folks and I'm sympathetic to that, but a thread full of crappy hot takes (which is where the one that was up for a bit was definitely heading) does not actually amount to a net positive for the community. We can wait a few hours for the fire to be put out and at least some preliminary reporting to come in as to cause, damage, effects, etc. In the meantime, there's always Chat - that's exactly what it's for.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 12:59 PM on April 15 [36 favorites]


MeFi does not do breaking news well (though I imagine it does it better than other places). When there is no solid information, there is nothing to do but exchange rumors, express shock, and spin out ill-informed theories. I'm happy not to have that here, though I recognize others might disagree. There is certainly no lack of other places on the internet to discuss this, if people can't wait.
posted by neroli at 1:10 PM on April 15 [20 favorites]


I disagree strongly with that deletion.

To delete breaking news of a such a universal tragedy is to deny one of the truly formative events which made Metafilter what it is today: the 9/11 thread — and as such is to deny Metafilter's true identity.
posted by jamjam at 1:11 PM on April 15 [65 favorites]


Seeing that thread break out in hives of hot takes was deeply depressing.

I realize that for a lot of MeFites, Paris is very far away, but for those of us who've lived in Paris, a world without the Notre Dame just isn't thinkable. I'm honestly in shock. It's impossible for me to process the images of the Notre Dame on fire, it's like seeing the moon enveloped in flames.

I think it's better for everyone's sanity that a post goes up later, once there are better links.
posted by Kattullus at 1:11 PM on April 15 [52 favorites]


I strongly disagree with deleting posts about something of this magnitude.
posted by dazed_one at 1:18 PM on April 15 [19 favorites]


I strongly disagree with this deletion.
posted by rue72 at 1:19 PM on April 15 [8 favorites]


3rd post deleted.
posted by theora55 at 1:21 PM on April 15


I also very strongly disagree with this deletion.
posted by lalex at 1:21 PM on April 15 [10 favorites]


I disagree with this deletion.

I do, broadly, agree that breaking news is something MeFi does not do well. This is outside of that scope, however.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 1:22 PM on April 15 [9 favorites]


3rd post deleted.

Which was only a SL Guardian. Which is not enough for something of this magnitude.
posted by Melismata at 1:22 PM on April 15 [5 favorites]


In the absence of a FPP, if anybody hears about a way to donate to the no-doubt stupendous costs of repair, could you post it here? I hate feeling so helpless.
posted by orrnyereg at 1:23 PM on April 15


If I thought it would stick, I'd make a more complete post. The 9/11 post was a single link to CNN. Yes, MeFi and the world has changed since then, but it's the discussion that matters, and the links that MeFites find and post.
posted by theora55 at 1:26 PM on April 15 [2 favorites]


Notre Dame Cathedral is on Fire is the new James Brown Has Died.
posted by oneswellfoop at 1:26 PM on April 15 [6 favorites]


I absolutely understand deleting single-link breaking news posts, but I also want to be able to talk about Notre Dame.

I think we need a eulogy.
posted by box at 1:26 PM on April 15 [3 favorites]


I agree with the deletions. What can possibly be said this soon? What news does anyone have right now? Do we really need a thread that is 90% "this is terrible" and 10% "whatevs"?

There will be a thread. There will be time to grieve and give insightful comments. Give it a few hours.
posted by bondcliff at 1:26 PM on April 15 [61 favorites]


What Kattullus said. And I have yet to see any articles that rise above the usual 'breaking news' quality and are worth posting. At this stage twitter threads have more to say than the news media. They will come, but it would be nice to start a thread on something of this magnitude with links that rise to the task of commemorating Notre Dame.
posted by homunculus at 1:27 PM on April 15 [6 favorites]


I'm fine with all of these deletions. Let something stand after the fire is extinguished, more is known, and there is some sense of scale. The fire's cause appears to have been accidental, it is limited to the cathedral, and thus far there have been no significant injuries or loss of life. That makes it quite different from extended terrorist attacks or natural disasters.

MetaFilter does not do breaking stories well, and breaking news posts carry a heavy moderation burden.
posted by jedicus at 1:29 PM on April 15 [36 favorites]


Let something stand after the fire is extinguished, more is known, and there is some sense of scale. The fire's cause appears to have been accidental, it is limited to the cathedral, and thus far there have been no significant injuries or loss of life. That makes it quite different from extended terrorist attacks or natural disasters.

So incredibly dismissive.
posted by rue72 at 1:32 PM on April 15 [24 favorites]


Agree with the deletions.
posted by General Malaise at 1:33 PM on April 15 [5 favorites]


What would be enough for something of this magnitude? Nothing is enough for something of this magnitude.

What if there are MetaFilter people in Paris and they're standing looking at it and catching ash in their hands? What if their hearts are breaking? What if they want to come to a quiet place and say things and know that good people are reading the things they say? It's not enough for this thing of great magnitude, but since nothing is, maybe it would be okay to let them.
posted by Don Pepino at 1:33 PM on April 15 [44 favorites]


I too would like to fight with a Mefite about Notre Dame, please facilitate this
posted by prize bull octorok at 1:34 PM on April 15 [43 favorites]


I agree with the deletions. One of the first things I thought when I heard was, oh I hope there isn't a mefi thread full of half-news and hot takes.

I think a MeTa is a fine place for people who need this community to grieve, though. Like when we have check-ins for dangerous situations. To me, that's different than an FPP, which focuses on news we don't really have yet.
posted by greermahoney at 1:35 PM on April 15 [22 favorites]


I agree with the deletions, but would it be at all possible to post a locked story on the front page that says "Here is a link to Chat for real-time discussion. We will open this story when more information is known."?
posted by Etrigan at 1:35 PM on April 15 [15 favorites]


Generally, when a post is centered on "we must discuss this thing!" instead of "here are worthwhile links," it gets deleted. I agree with that general policy and it's applicable here.

I'm also not stoked about the implication that deleting these posts is tantamount to saying Metafilter doesn't care about the fire. That's a bad faith argument.
posted by Frobenius Twist at 1:38 PM on April 15 [58 favorites]


I'm also not stoked about the implication that deleting these posts is tantamount to saying Metafilter doesn't care about the fire. That's a bad faith argument.

How so? That is exactly what is being communicated.
posted by rue72 at 1:39 PM on April 15 [2 favorites]


I don't know how you can read "let's wait at least a couple hours for more information and then we can discuss it" as "Metafilter doesn't care." That's very weird.
posted by Frobenius Twist at 1:41 PM on April 15 [51 favorites]


I'm not usually against breaking news deletions, but once it became clear that this was not a terror attack or whatever, I think it could've done to let one of these stand ...

when a post is centered on "we must discuss this thing!" instead of "here are worthwhile links,"

I'm confident worthwhile links would've shown up in thread. I mean, just google Notre Dame Cathedral interior for a start ...
posted by philip-random at 1:41 PM on April 15 [2 favorites]


I do not agree with “metafilter is not a breaking news site” as a worthy deletion reason this time. The magnitude of this news story is such that I believe many things can be discussed while the situation itself is still happening, as with many other situations before. When I read the news I instantly came to Metafilter to read what Mefites had to say because I know there are people here who care about history, engineering, politics, religion, etc. For hot takes I have Twitter.
posted by CrazyLemonade at 1:42 PM on April 15 [39 favorites]


I know there are people here who care about history, engineering, politics, religion, etc.
Those people will still be here in a couple of hours.
posted by neroli at 1:43 PM on April 15 [7 favorites]


That is exactly what is being communicated.

That's not what I'm seeing communicated at all. I'm seeing them saying that they care enough about this topic to not let it go badly by posting it before we have good info.
posted by greermahoney at 1:44 PM on April 15 [25 favorites]


The 2011 tsunami in Japan and Fukushima disaster discussion also started as a a single-link FPP.
posted by Celsius1414 at 1:46 PM on April 15 [6 favorites]


Those people will still be here in a couple of hours.

Or we could have the thread now and those who don't want to discuss what's happening could just not read it.
posted by dazed_one at 1:47 PM on April 15 [9 favorites]


I also strongly disagree with the deletion. Strict moderation in the thread is the right answer in the case of too many hot takes or derails.
posted by tclark at 1:48 PM on April 15 [17 favorites]


I've checked the front page several times this afternoon waiting to see a post. I thought there would be one. But I understand there is nothing really to say. It's just so sad. I want to be sad with people.

As long as we're having the US politics megathreads, it's hard to understand not having Breaking News threads for something this important to so many people for so many reasons.
posted by something something at 1:50 PM on April 15 [36 favorites]


I'm in favor of the deletion.

I'll be honest: I saw the news, and came straight to MeFi to see if there was a post.

But I'm glad there isn't – yet. There isn't enough to discuss yet. We don't know how extensive the damage is, what started the fire, what the government or the church have to say about the situation – nothing. There's literally nothing that anyone could contribute to a thread other than hot takes. MetaFilter is not a chat.

Give it a few hours. We'll probably have more substantial details soon.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 1:51 PM on April 15 [14 favorites]


Generally, when a post is centered on "we must discuss this thing!" instead of "here are worthwhile links," it gets deleted.

This comment in thread #2 is, IMO a collection of hugely worthwhile links to reputable sources covering the breaking news. The deletion was a bad call.
posted by tclark at 1:53 PM on April 15 [15 favorites]


> hot takes

*groan*
posted by mrbill at 1:54 PM on April 15 [1 favorite]


Honestly, I'm nearly at a breaking point for understanding what is and isn't allowed on this site.

"Let's get some more links and take a few minutes to build a bigger post" is a fine reason for deferring a single-link FPP. "MetaFilter isn't a breaking news site" is not, and betrays the site's history (including a reasonable number of FPPs that are let through).

Historically, we've allowed breaking-news posts for major world events, because these events are traumatizing, and the community has benefitted from having a place where we can talk and comfort each other.

Suggesting users go to chat feels insincere at best -- Chat's not a 1st-class citizen of the site, has a fairly different user-base, different norms, and very little moderation.
posted by schmod at 1:54 PM on April 15 [73 favorites]


There isn't enough to discuss yet.

Isn't it a bit presumptuous to assume that, just because you can't think of anything to say wrt the incident, nobody else will have anything of value to say?
posted by dazed_one at 1:55 PM on April 15 [15 favorites]


Historically, we've allowed breaking-news posts for major world events, because these events are traumatizing, and the community has benefitted from having a place where we can talk and comfort each other.

This
posted by CrazyLemonade at 1:56 PM on April 15 [24 favorites]


I have previously proposed that for certain major breaking-news events that if the mods determine that they do not want to police a thread to add a post to the main page that links to chat, or to a reputable source for coverage, keep the post visible but disable comments. So at least SOMETHING is there when people are coming to Metafilter to learn something.

What we have is just a front page that seems to just pretend that one of the biggest news stories of the year isn't even happening.
posted by tclark at 1:58 PM on April 15 [14 favorites]


I'm OK with waiting for more substantial news reporting and analysis first.
posted by Jahaza at 1:59 PM on April 15 [5 favorites]


Seems that part of the controversy is a difference of opinions about the significance of this event.

I mean, don't get me wrong – it's clearly very significant, and sad, and definitely something we should discuss once a bit more is known. But it's not 9/11.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 2:00 PM on April 15 [7 favorites]


The continued deletions are bad calls. There's lot to discuss without it devolving to 'hot takes.'

If the post would require a "heavy moderation burden," well, tough. That's the mods' jobs. It shouldn't be the deciding criterion for keeping or deleting a post.
posted by crazy with stars at 2:00 PM on April 15 [15 favorites]


As long as we're having the US politics megathreads, it's hard to understand not having Breaking News threads for something this important to so many people for so many reasons.

Given the strain on the mods that these threads can represent, I don't think the site should encourage that style of thread to spread beyond where it already exists. While it's tempting to say "there's plenty of precedent", I think it's worthwhile to mind the costs of our decisions and the limits of the system.
posted by Jpfed at 2:01 PM on April 15 [14 favorites]


My heart is breaking over this. I came here because this is where I go when major events happen. I came here on 9/11 (my second day teaching at NYU) and it helped me feel connected when I was terrified. So I'm very sad that I came here to find that stabilization again only to find it's not here at all.

And I do agree with schmod about chat.
posted by miss-lapin at 2:01 PM on April 15 [17 favorites]


"But it's not 9/11."

Considering 9/11 was one of the worst terrorist attacks on US soil, very few things rise to that level. It's unfair bar to hold breaking news to that precedent. But Notre Dame is 856 years old. It survived TWO world wars. There's so much incredible art. To say this isn't a huge loss is heartless at best.
posted by miss-lapin at 2:05 PM on April 15 [31 favorites]


That is exactly what is being communicated.
No, what's being communicated is a horror of tone-deaf comments and chatter about it, which is totally understandable because this is unbearable and any response to it is going to be unbearable. What is being communicated is an attempt to deal sensitively with something that is causing unspeakable anguish to millions of people. On the other hand, I bet by now somebody would have said what I'm hating myself for thinking: I went to Berlin, I went to Arles, I went to Istanbul, I went to Warsaw, I went to London, I went to Edinburgh, I went to Amsterdam... I never went to Paris. What the hell was wrong with me? There: a completely selfish trivial stupid hot take! It would have been a little scrap of comfort to see somebody else having that exact completely selfish hot take, and I hope whoever reading this who was thinking the same ignoble thing but not saying it gets a scrap of comfort. Hello, dear fellow traveler and flawed setter of priorities. Let us lean on one another and mingle our tears.
posted by Don Pepino at 2:06 PM on April 15 [13 favorites]


Seems that part of the controversy is a difference of opinions about the significance of this event.

That may be so for some, but it is certainly not all of the controversy. I agree with the deletions, but in my opinion it is more significant than much of the current front page.
posted by Jpfed at 2:06 PM on April 15 [1 favorite]


.
posted by limeonaire at 2:07 PM on April 15 [1 favorite]


To say this isn't a huge loss is heartless at best.

Did someone say that?

I've said my piece - I'll back out of the thread now.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 2:09 PM on April 15 [4 favorites]


I find this more comparable to a devastating death than something like a 9/11. I like that obituary threads here are often written by someone passionate and knowledgeable about the person who can fill the post with thoughtful context and links. Something like that is what today’s loss calls for, imo. But I understand that people have very different needs given our different relations to today’s news (some of us are French, or Parisians, Catholics, architecture buffs, medievalists, and we each have different memories of being there or seeing Notre Dame.)

I don’t mean this patronizingly or dismissively but for people who have the urge to express something in the moment you could always draft something about what you’re feeling to post later once the thread is open.
posted by sallybrown at 2:10 PM on April 15 [9 favorites]


strongly disagree with the deletions as well. I really would have liked a thread to process and mourn with the community today instead of kinda barging in on Chat / lonely refreshing twitter. I know we aren't a breaking news site, but this is world-changing for a lot of people.
posted by lazaruslong at 2:11 PM on April 15 [15 favorites]


Like a lot of other people I came here immediately after seeing the news. I wish there were a thread on the blue. Twitter is — obviously, obviously — not remotely the same thing.
posted by goodbyewaffles at 2:12 PM on April 15 [3 favorites]


As a compromise - since this thread exists, can we also use it as a "Parisian Mefites check in and say if you're okay" thread? My heart breaks for the cathedral, but it also is worried about the Mefites I've met over the course of two trips there. (Y'all introduced me to tartiflette and you all thus occupy a corner of my culinary heart now, lemme know you're all good.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:12 PM on April 15 [4 favorites]


Which is just to say: I also disagree with the deletions.
posted by goodbyewaffles at 2:13 PM on April 15 [1 favorite]


I absolutely hate the "it's not 9/11" line right now. I'm an American, and I still hate it because it feels so damn US-centric.

I have not set foot in a Catholic church in over a decade. I barely consider myself Catholic. And seeing Notre Dame in flames gutted me. It's Holy Week. I turned and said to a friend "the only thing that would stab a devout Catholic in the heart more would be to see St. Peter's in flames this week".

I kept checking the blue all afternoon because I desperately wanted someone to have put words to the incredibly complicated feelings I'm having, this intersection of religion, art, history, literature, culture, race, class...

Notre Dame burned. And it sounds like people are saying it means nothing and all I'm hearing is that it's not an American tragedy. Am I being unfair? Probably. But man, that's what it sounds like in here.
posted by ultranos at 2:13 PM on April 15 [77 favorites]


I've been wondering all afternoon why there was no post about Notre Dame. So I guess I'm in favor of at least a placeholder post going in after the first deletion, to let people know the site isn't broken.
posted by mersen at 2:15 PM on April 15 [8 favorites]


Speaking of tone-deaf, that's the phrase I was thinking of while reading many of the comments in this thread, starting with the justification for deletions from staff. How does one hear this news and the only concern is whether there will be "hot takes"? Centuries of art, culture and history are gone, but god forbid there might be a few comments that might need moderation -- just like every other post on the site.
posted by sageleaf at 2:15 PM on April 15 [36 favorites]


Breaking news filter had been against the rules for a lot for reasons for a long time. I know the 9/11 thread is famous but we don't talk much about more recent threads like the Boston Bombings which was IME full of fearmongering, misleading "breaking news" from dubious sources, and witch-hunting. In the past we didn't seem to have the moderator coverage to delete these kinds of threads before they got too big. Now we do. That's a good thing. I agree that maybe mods should put up a banner for Chat when a bunch of threads on the same topic are deleted.

I feel like one of the big casualties of social media and the 24 hr news cycle is that the only thing that seems to matter is immediate reactions. Metafilter has never ever been good at immediate reactions. We will still be grieving tomorrow and the next day and the next, even when the news cycle has moved on.
posted by muddgirl at 2:16 PM on April 15 [23 favorites]


Notre Dame burned. And it sounds like people are saying it means nothing and all I'm hearing is that it's not an American tragedy. Am I being unfair? Probably. But man, that's what it sounds like in here.

Honestly, this is why breaking news threads go so badly. Because a bunch of people want to communally mourn, and then another bunch of people just see it as Another Thread on the Blue and make jokes or center themselves in an insensitive way or take the contrary position just because that's their habit, and it's incredibly hurtful even if we're moderating it as fast as we can.

We're not holding off on a thread because it's not a big deal. We're holding off because it is, and we want to be able to treat it like it is.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 2:17 PM on April 15 [85 favorites]


I don’t think anyone here believes this is anything other than a major tragedy for humanity. Most of us (maybe all) saying there should not be a breaking news thread are saying so *because* we think this is an immense tragedy that deserves nothing less than a thoughtful and extensive post once we have a few hours’ grasp on the events. It has only been a few hours and Notre Dame is still burning.
posted by sallybrown at 2:17 PM on April 15 [8 favorites]


My thanks to theora55 for the MeTa.

I was so baffled that there wasn't a post on Metafilter that I immediately decided to create one. I was intending it to be more substantive (links to Google Street View and Le Monde and some of the great but terrible videos on Twitter) and I was intending it to be for people to post additional links and share in their grief. Luckily, I checked MeTa first.

The reason I wanted to do this work, given that I don't post often? My mother, who is typically rather phlegmatic, texted me crying about this. She is one of many crying today and Metafilter has so often been a way for the community to mourn together.

There are, clearly, Mefites who want to provide news and share stories and mourn the losses already evident. I see and respect the point of those who would rather wait, but I remain unconvinced. I think a well-framed post that was well-moderated would not be entirely hot takes (some yes, it is Metafilter after all) but rather shared support.
posted by librarylis at 2:18 PM on April 15 [12 favorites]


Also, if someone wants to put together a more substantive post but isn't sure about whether we'll give it the go-ahead, just send it via the contact form and we'll take a look. It sounds like we've got at least some news now, but someone who speaks French would be a much better judge.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 2:20 PM on April 15


Nope. Cultural tone-deafness. Badly judged. It's sadly impossible to believe that an American tragedy of this magnitude would be treated in this patronising way.
posted by Flitcraft at 2:21 PM on April 15 [33 favorites]


I understand where people are coming from, but I still think these are good deletions.
posted by Chrysostom at 2:21 PM on April 15 [13 favorites]


If the crappy hot takes are the problem, why not delete those and put in a mod note discouraging them, rather than 86ing the whole post?
posted by showbiz_liz at 2:22 PM on April 15 [17 favorites]


I think for situations like this, instead of a post on the blue, there should be a post here on the grey.

I know a year or two ago there was a tsunami or a hurricane and I posted a MetaTalk check-in thread and people were able to share their stories, their worries, their well-wishes here on the grey for those that wanted to have that space.

I think it is good to have this kind of space. I also think it's good to make such a post in such a way that it focuses on the community, a place for those in Paris to check-in with each other and with us.

I posted early on in one of the deleted threads and I was a bit sad to see it go but I can also see how a post like that can be contentious and eat up a lot of the mods duties, so I will respect their decisions on the subject of "news-filter" like posts.

That's what I have to say.

I'm still sad about Paris and Notre Dame Cathedral.

.
posted by Fizz at 2:22 PM on April 15 [15 favorites]


We're not holding off on a thread because it's not a big deal.

You're holding off on a thread because several times a year you're reminded that Metafilter has no mechanism to deal with this properly.

Big news event: tons of people go to Mefi to see what's going on, and just MAYBE get info from places that aren't designed and monetized to be toxic and shovel people toward conspiracy theory content to goose engagement metrics.

People make a quick post about major news event. Crappy comments pop up. Mods start deleting with extreme prejudice. Multiple threads. Many threads.

What you haven't done is apply what we know is Mefi management's considerable skill and imagination to the problem of allowing acknowledgement of a major news event and still allowing the mods to not have to police a messy thread.

This is an ongoing failure of Mefi. "We're not a news site. Here's Jonathan Frakes saying you're wrong for 47 seconds straight because breaking news threads aren't worth it and we won't develop an alternative."
posted by tclark at 2:22 PM on April 15 [24 favorites]


We are at peace with not being able to be everything to everyone, honestly.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 2:25 PM on April 15 [52 favorites]


It feels like we are becoming less things to less people.
posted by lalex at 2:28 PM on April 15 [39 favorites]


I mean, a mod making a straw man argument?

"This is something that needs improvement."

"We can't make everyone happy all the time. Not only are we OK with that, we're at peace with it."

Come on.
posted by tclark at 2:29 PM on April 15 [21 favorites]


I’m disappointed that I need to wait until days after an event of this significance to talk about it here.

Mefites live everywhere and have every possible level of experience in nearly every field, but like the vast majority of us with any personal experience with the building, I have only visited Notre Dame as a tourist.

So let’s stop pretending that our Eventual Very Thoughtful Post About This Tragedy And Its Context will be populated with anything other than people saying how sad it is, because that is what the vast majority of us will say we feel about this. We are not art historians, gargoyle carvers, or choristers. We are not fluent in French and will not be in committee meetings in the eventual investigation. We just want to talk about the stained glass and the sunlight shining on the façade and what the building meant to those Mefites who care about this building, like any other memorial post.

How good do you need that post to be? How many links, languages, sources? And how many of us will click ANY of them before commenting? Are we still pretending that the value of an obituary post is the link, when it is so obviously the stories and shared memories of our fellow members?
posted by mdonley at 2:37 PM on April 15 [47 favorites]


So I guess I'm in favor of at least a placeholder post going in after the first deletion, to let people know the site isn't broken.

Same. I think if more than one deletion occurs for a major breaking news event, there should be some kind of notification to indicate we're waiting a few hours, bare minimum, rather than a lot of people bumping into it accidentally.
posted by mordax at 2:37 PM on April 15 [2 favorites]


We're not holding off on a thread because it's not a big deal. We're holding off because it is, and we want to be able to treat it like it is

I said I was probably being unfair. And I saw that some of the justifications (not by mods, even) very much could be read as dismissive. Which is what I think a lot of people here are upset about.

I had kept refreshing because I thought "maybe no one has put together anything", so no one could add to it. It wasn't until I checked here that I saw that people had attempted.

I guess I just have more faith in the community here to be able to rise to the occasion given the chance. I don't know.
posted by ultranos at 2:38 PM on April 15 [2 favorites]


I support the thread deletions. I also find this breaking news devastating and understand the desire of people to want to have an immediate space to post online about it. But these were appropriate deletions.
posted by MoonOrb at 2:39 PM on April 15 [10 favorites]


This thread could also have been here for the communal grieving people want to do that's instead coming out as a fight about policies.
posted by bleep at 2:40 PM on April 15 [8 favorites]


another bunch of people just see it as Another Thread on the Blue and make jokes or center themselves in an insensitive way or take the contrary position just because that's their habit
That's a bunch of people that has been part of the human community since we came down from the trees. We have all been in the bunch at one time or another, ourselves, and we all know to expect them.

and it's incredibly hurtful

Jokes and insensitive self centering and contrariness and all of people's trivial nonsense is not as hurtful as silence. When my friend's father died, I knew I would say something stupid and hurtful, so I didn't say anything at all, and I lost my friend.

Meanwhile a bunch of people have been saying permutations of this:
She is one of many crying today and Metafilter has so often been a way for the community to mourn together.

It's almost always more helpful than hurtful here.
posted by Don Pepino at 2:42 PM on April 15 [7 favorites]


Given how breathtakingly uncharitable people are being to the mods in this thread (judging by the reactions, you'd think something much more draconian than "let's wait a few hours" had been posted as the deletion reason), I'm not convinced that any thread on this topic could go well
posted by Frobenius Twist at 2:42 PM on April 15 [56 favorites]


I agree very narrowly with these deletions at this time, specifically because Metafilter apparently doesn't have a standard set of procedures for dealing with (non-politics) breaking news threads of major import. Those policies/procedures ought to have been more clearly laid out before now, in retrospect, but since they haven't, I hope they can be established promptly for events such as this in the future.

It's taken a long time but I think the community and the mods have come to a good set of practices around the politics megathreads. I think it's worth establishing a sort of "emergency response plan" for big breaking news items like this, because I agree with several people here that a space for those conversations is important on the front page of the site, and it's important early on while people are trying to process events--but I also agree with the mods that there's a tendency for these conversations to go poorly.

I think we need to figure out the bigger question of how to manage these conversations ASAP. In the meantime, I think the mods' instincts were correct in this case. This thread is evidence enough for that as far as I'm concerned. In the midst of a lot of shared pain, people are making shitty jokes or attacking other threads on the site because they weren't deleted.
posted by duffell at 2:44 PM on April 15 [7 favorites]


Those policies/procedures ought to have been more clearly laid out before now, in retrospect, but since they haven't, I hope they can be established promptly for events such as this in the future.

They're at peace with making no changes and establishing no new procedures.
posted by tclark at 2:45 PM on April 15 [7 favorites]


One more gentle vote for coming here to see if there was a thread, and not the hot takes, because despite the hot takes we often do have locals in the area and better or more tolerable news filtering than having to wade through Google News.

One of the things MeFi does better than many other larger internet communities is being mindful and warning people about stuff behind links. Even the 9/11 thread watching it from the outside as a non-member back then was really helpful, and despite the noise and chatter of the drive by comments or wild guesses, it was, well, it felt like home base and people were collectively holding it together.

I'm fine with being patient and waiting, but I was also surprised there wasn't a thread.

And please remember even the mods need a hug.
posted by loquacious at 2:47 PM on April 15 [14 favorites]


I too was disappointed, and surprised, that there wasn't a post that stuck. This was a horrible and momentous thing to arrive at work to find in-progress. It felt strongly like there should be a post here, and I think it reflects badly on us that there wasn't -- and still isn't.

FWIW, I thought the 2nd deleted post was going OK; I don't quite see where the "hot takes" characterization of it is coming from? That thread could have stood and been moderated in-place.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 2:48 PM on April 15 [6 favorites]


Those policies/procedures ought to have been more clearly laid out before now, in retrospect, but since they haven't, I hope they can be established promptly for events such as this in the future.

> They're at peace with making no changes and establishing no new procedures.


Right, so I'm stating my perspective, as many others here have, including you. Hopefully we can get somewhere constructive.
posted by duffell at 2:50 PM on April 15


It's challenging to get somewhere constructive when people in this thread have proposed specific options, and the response isn't "We know this is tough and frequently causes problems and we'll keep thinking about how to make improvements" but "Nah, we're good."

Agree or disagree with the deletions, I still think something other than "Nah, we're good" is called for.
posted by tclark at 2:57 PM on April 15 [15 favorites]


But it's not 9/11 New York City.
posted by Celsius1414 at 3:01 PM on April 15 [6 favorites]


The lesson i learned is that if there's a nuclear apocalypse just starting -- don't expect to hear about it on metafilter. Hope you got the radio on instead. maybe buy a nice battery powered radio... I've got one and thank goodness because I always assumed if something important happened in the world, it would be aggregated and presented clearly and thoughtfully on MetaFilter. Learn from my mistakes, future citizens: buy a radio.
posted by some loser at 3:02 PM on April 15 [7 favorites]


I disagree strongly with these deletions.

1. There is substantive information worth contributing to the community - analyses by professional fire-fighters, context from medieval historians, data from the French police, etc - which has value in helping to understand the course of events. Mefites are good at finding, filtering and delviering this information. It's not just 'hot takes', and it applies intelligence to social media in a way that social media itself cannot.

2. We need our community at times like this.

3. It feels - and this is my emotional response - that events outwith the US are weighted differently to those within. Which given the demographics of the site is fair enough - but a lot of the magic of Metafilter is that if you don't care about a thread, don't take part, but don't stop others from doing what they need to.

4. There's already misinformation being spread, although whether it's anything more than opportunism who can tell. But I really, really appreciate finding out about bogus news reports sooner rather than later, and Metafilter is good at that too.
posted by Devonian at 3:03 PM on April 15 [32 favorites]


Agree or disagree with the deletions, I still think something other than "Nah, we're good" is called for.

Isn't that what this thread and MetaTalk are for? This is where we discuss things. Also, restless_nomad has offered up a solution/alternative to how a post about Notre Dame or other "news-filtery" posts can be framed.

I don't agree with everything the mods do or say when it comes to this site, but I think the fact that this thread exists shows that they are open to talking about things, that they're willing to engage with this community. I've been on plenty of community forums where this kind of transparency isn't really a thing.
posted by Fizz at 3:04 PM on April 15 [8 favorites]


Could it be that we'd need more of a 24/7 full-time staffing thing, or a way to achieve that at need, to handle a thread like that? Lots of discussion, lots of emotion, and no warning that it was going to happen.
posted by amtho at 3:04 PM on April 15 [3 favorites]


I was not surprised there wasn't a thread. It's not a case where something horrible happened and nobody knows what's going on and maybe people on the ground can provide any reasonable information that isn't right there on the news. It's not a chaotic event. Just a sad event. There are no signs of people in danger, needing immediate help, in imminent danger. It's just an old building on fire. A loss and full of sadness but not a life threatening disaster.
posted by zengargoyle at 3:05 PM on April 15 [14 favorites]


a thread full of crappy hot takes (which is where the one that was up for a bit was definitely heading) does not actually amount to a net positive for the community

Maybe, but I feel that there's going to be a bunch of uninformed opinions in a post about the Notre Dame Cathedral fire unless we wait like 2 weeks to post about it. Like, waiting a couple hours doesn't seem like enough time for enough solid information to come out to significantly reduce the number of uninformed opinions in a post.

I think part of the problem is that we are nowhere near a consensus as to what "hot takes" are. I mean, imo, after looking at all the comments in the deleted threads, none of them seemed like hot takes, and everyone seemed to be posting just to grieve, or adding additional related content as comments. What are the specific kinds of comments that end up making threads about breaking news unlikely to go well? Maybe if we (or mods) figured out what kind of comments are causing breaking news threads to go badly, we could work to stop/reduce those kinds of comments, instead of just deleting whole threads over and over again.
posted by 23skidoo at 3:06 PM on April 15


Yeah why would members of a so-called community want to meet and exchange news and sadness about “an old building on fire”. Jesus Christ — I’m not even Catholic, and that’s a fucked up thing to say.
posted by Celsius1414 at 3:07 PM on April 15 [15 favorites]


The reasons given for the deletions are not These posts are not adequately substantive. The reasons given are too soon, breaking news. If a better post is needed, that would be useful information, but that reason was not cited.

My point about the 9/11 thread was that it was a thin post and, as noted, the Fukushima post was single link, as well. We all know how to get to NYTimes and BBC. The comment tclark noted had something to add. I am thankful that there are no reported casualties so far, but for some French people, the day Notre Dame burned will carry similar weight to 9/11. The loss of art and history is tragic.

This is on MeTa because this is where we discuss policy. There are no reported casualties, so a check-in is not needed, except for the check-in on the massive loss of stunning beauty, and we would comment on that in an FPP.
posted by theora55 at 3:08 PM on April 15 [8 favorites]


We can wait a few hours for the fire to be put out

On the Deutsche Welle English nightly news a few minutes ago the anchor was suggesting that we are "not even at the half-way point yet" in the fire.
posted by XMLicious at 3:08 PM on April 15 [1 favorite]


Also, restless_nomad has offered up a solution/alternative to how a post about Notre Dame or other "news-filtery" posts can be framed.

Unless I missed something, the alternative is "Post later and post better." I submit that this is not an alternative to the current process, but a statement that a change in how breaking news is dealt with is not going to be considered.
posted by tclark at 3:08 PM on April 15 [3 favorites]


I guess I just have more faith in the community here to be able to rise to the occasion given the chance. I don't know.

You mean, the same community that's attacking the mods right now and insisting that no post available immediately = a heartless, sneering "no one cares" message?
posted by palomar at 3:10 PM on April 15 [54 favorites]


What makes the deletions all the more crushing is the sparkly colorful emoji laden post currently at the top of the landing page that looks ever so much like a rose window in ruins.
posted by St. Oops at 3:11 PM on April 15 [7 favorites]


Help a newer member out: what is meant by the idea that we don’t do breaking news well? Is it that some other sites which aim to cover that material have some assets we don’t? Or is it that the very idea of breaking news is at odds with how MeFi sees itself? And what is left worse off, in this view, when we try too soon? - the informational artifacts, or the community that shared them? I believe those two things are distinct and the answers for what is best for each could be different.
posted by eirias at 3:11 PM on April 15 [1 favorite]


Hey, so just so that we're clear, this is one of the times when the initial "let's wait just a bit until there's a little more solid info" has run its course and there is enough solid info for a thread. I believe Eyebrows is putting one together.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 3:11 PM on April 15 [6 favorites]


I really hope so, LobsterMitten.
posted by miss-lapin at 3:13 PM on April 15


Yeah why would members of a so-called community want to meet and exchange news and sadness about “an old building on fire”. Jesus Christ — I’m not even Catholic, and that’s a fucked up thing to say.

Oddly, all the Catholics I know are fairly measured about it, with many suggesting that this is a sign to focus less on the physical and more on the spiritual. After all, the spirit lives into eternity, and the earth is full of wonders that turn to ash even though they seem invulnerable. YMMV.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 3:14 PM on April 15 [14 favorites]


And there are reports of actual French people weeping while they watch the flames.
posted by Celsius1414 at 3:15 PM on April 15 [4 favorites]


Hey, so just so that we're clear, this is one of the times when the initial "let's wait just a bit until there's a little more solid info" has run its course and there is enough solid info for a thread. I believe Eyebrows is putting one together.

And in the meantime, there was nothing on the front page. Nothing.

I've done enough web development to know that adding a mechanism for a mod to create a FPP with comments disabled is trivial to implement. And it seems you simply won't countenance it.
posted by tclark at 3:16 PM on April 15 [5 favorites]


There are a lot of things we don't do here. I hear you that you're not happy about that.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 3:16 PM on April 15 [26 favorites]


OK, so now after another example where I proposed something specific and the response is "there's a lot of stuff we won't do / we can't make everyone happy" I ask you not why you choose not to do everything under the sun but why you won't do THIS?
posted by tclark at 3:18 PM on April 15 [5 favorites]


You mean, the same community that's attacking the mods right now and insisting that no post = a heartless, sneering "no one cares" message?

I did not say that that they did not care. If restless_nomad and the other mods thought I did, I sincerely apologize. I believe I pointed out that some of the defenses of the mods can have that interpretation, and that is not helping the feelings of hurt. And that the way some of these defenses by others was coming across could be read very uncharitably.
posted by ultranos at 3:20 PM on April 15 [1 favorite]


Daaaaaaaaaamn, could the mods put more effort into their comments in this thread? Some of the mod comments in this thread are waaaaaaay "hot takier" than anything I saw in any of the deleted threads: mods, use more words per comment, please, because it really looks like you're being unnecessarily antagonistic to members in this thread.
posted by 23skidoo at 3:21 PM on April 15 [28 favorites]


ultranos, right above your comment is the 11th in a series of angry, demanding posts from the same MeFite. You may not be intending to say the mods don't care, but you're not the only person commenting in the thread, and there's plenty here to show the utter disdain members here have for the job the mods have to do. My comment wasn't directed at you, it was directed at the whole thread.
posted by palomar at 3:23 PM on April 15 [22 favorites]


No seriously. Is it a bad idea? Do you think it is counterproductive? Is it technically challenging to implement, and I'm vastly underestimating the difficulty of doing it or underestimating the degree to which it would be an improvement?

I've never, in well over a decade at Mefi seen more dismissive and lazy responses from mods. I'm serious about this.
posted by tclark at 3:23 PM on April 15 [10 favorites]


Good lord, if people think it's the mods who are being antagonistic in this thread, there really must be another thread going on that I'm missing
posted by Frobenius Twist at 3:24 PM on April 15 [76 favorites]


Hi, I'm writing a longer comment but that takes time and I'm also modding the site. So it will be a bit.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 3:25 PM on April 15 [24 favorites]


And FWIW, I don't take the uncharitable read on the mods' comments at all. I always thought the main purpose of MeTa was for the community to talk things through, not for the mods to address every single comment. If I'm wrong about that, I'm wrong. But I don't think I am.
posted by cooker girl at 3:25 PM on April 15 [14 favorites]


Good lord, if people think it's the mods who are being antagonistic in this thread, there really must be another thread going on that I'm missing

No, we just have different opinions, Frobenius. When mods leave pithy comments, they're being just as antagonistic as the members who are being antagonistic.
posted by 23skidoo at 3:26 PM on April 15 [4 favorites]


I get waiting, say 4-6 hours but Sacre Fucking Blue, do we seriously need some metric before the POST GOES UP.
Come, on, let em post it because I don't want my first post deleted.
posted by clavdivs at 3:27 PM on April 15 [2 favorites]


You see "pithy." I see someone who is trying to do a million things at once.
posted by cooker girl at 3:28 PM on April 15 [46 favorites]


If there can be 5 posts a day on us politics and socialism I think we could handle hot takes in one thread about something non USA. This site is suffering since the creation of the megathreads as they suck up mod attention and the deletions just further alienate people who aren't American.
posted by kanata at 3:29 PM on April 15 [35 favorites]


I see someone trying to do a million things at once, too. Doesn't mean that any comment they leave is a good one, and bad comments from mods can be just as bad for a thread as bad comments from members.
posted by 23skidoo at 3:30 PM on April 15 [8 favorites]


So we get to have terrible politics megathreads that have made participating on here... less than fun, but not a thread about Notre Dame burning. Ok.

No wonder I almost never participate on this website anymore.
posted by bibliogrrl at 3:31 PM on April 15 [19 favorites]


We'll have to agree to disagree because I don't think any of the mod comments were bad.
posted by cooker girl at 3:31 PM on April 15 [9 favorites]


I've never, in well over a decade at Mefi seen more dismissive and lazy responses from mods. I'm serious about this.

Less than 10 minutes between the last couple of several responses, aggressively demanding that handling the topic at hand (and the rest of the site) be dropped in favor of answering someone's pedantic "I'm going to treat this as solely a technical barrier, because if it can be solved technically then you have no excuse for caring about the social challenges" drill-down.

Let people breathe, ffs. This isn't something that rushing the subject is going to do anybody any favors.
posted by CrystalDave at 3:32 PM on April 15 [21 favorites]


This isn't something that rushing the subject is going to do anybody any favors.

Except all the people who came here looking for community support in the face of this tragedy.
posted by miss-lapin at 3:38 PM on April 15 [5 favorites]


this is a personnel and business management issue, not so much a community issue.
posted by some loser at 3:38 PM on April 15


or at least: so i am led to believe based on this thread
posted by some loser at 3:39 PM on April 15


It's also a what 18 year old Cold Fusion site? It probably isn't that trivial to add a feature unless it was already there and just not used.
posted by zengargoyle at 3:39 PM on April 15 [1 favorite]


I ask you not why you choose not to do everything under the sun but why you won't do THIS?

There is practically nowhere on the Internet that this news isn't right now, so brief post on MetaFilter wouldn't likely inform anyone who wouldn't find out in another way.

It seems like you're after something that's primarily of symbolic value? As in, acknowledging that the tragic event is taking place? There's value in symbolism -- today of all days that seems clear -- but it also seems like that might be more frustrating for users rather than less.
posted by jacquilynne at 3:39 PM on April 15 [8 favorites]


I have a feeling a thorough thread about Notre Dame will go up soon, but a lot of people will stay in this one because they'd rather pontificate, complain that their needs aren't being met immediately and argue with the mods than participate in it.
posted by neroli at 3:40 PM on April 15 [14 favorites]


NOTE: We now have a post about the Notre Dame Cathedral Fire on the blue.
posted by 23skidoo at 3:41 PM on April 15 [9 favorites]


Remember the mass shooting in Orlando in 2016? The first two threads for that got deleted because it was breaking news, and there wasn't nearly enough information to prevent the thread being a mess of speculation and hot takes. It took till a few hours later for a thread with significant links to reputable sources giving details to show up, and that one stuck.

This is not a USA vs. not-USA thing. This is how MeFi has handled breaking news threads for quite some time.
posted by tocts at 3:41 PM on April 15 [45 favorites]


I contend that the topic at hand is Mefi's current process for dealing with breaking news is inconsistently applied, and appears to be driven by arbitrary and opaque decisions. I don't expect anyone to reply to my proposals -- or anyone's -- with detail and have to do a bunch of work just to satisfy my curiosity.

But I do object to TWICE proposing a specific idea, which was specifically intended to NOT require the mods to do a lot more heavy lifting in noisy threads, because despite what it may seem right now I don't want to make their jobs any harder, and two separate mods not replying with anything respecting that it was a request made in good faith but responding as though my proposal were impertinent and basically noise.

Twice I got "we can't make everyone happy all the time" dismissal. Even a "this may not make you happy but we do want to do this better and we're thinking about it" would have been better than, effectively being just straight up dismissed as asking for a rainbow and personal pony.

"We hear you're unhappy about it, and think your idea is stupid" is how BOTH of those responses were delivered. The sarcasm and dismissiveness is right there in gray and white, and frankly I am a bit ticked off because those responses weren't user-to-user but official proclamations from staff to user.
posted by tclark at 3:42 PM on April 15 [14 favorites]


Well. I think we’re seeing again that there are some pretty divergent views here of what Metafilter “is” or “should be.” Insert bad “Metafilter: [ ... ]” joke here, et cetera.

Maybe one thing most if not all of us would agree on is that Metafilter is a bit of an oasis among internet websites. It’s not Twitter. It’s the “slow food” or “slow movement” of the web, in a sense. Don’t take that too literally, I’m just proffering this as a point of comparison. Metafilter’s style is one that, yes, seems to carry an established value system that favors denser, well-fleshed-out posts. Good food often takes time; drafting a good thread on Metafilter sometimes does, too. That’s not to say the deleted Notre Dame posts weren’t “good.” Rather, they’re the type of subject matter posts that will be even better if we allow enough time to pass so that the post itself is able to link to a diverse collection of links that provide the community with not only more to read, but more on which to comment.

Anyway, my dumb food metaphor is making me hungry. I think now is an OK time for a good faith reminder to remember to enjoy a few deep breaths, a good meal, a video game, a run or brisk walk, or whatever else allows you to blow off some steam tonight without harming others.
posted by nightrecordings at 3:44 PM on April 15 [10 favorites]


I'm ok with waiting. I'm ok with the deletions. My two cents.
posted by spitbull at 3:44 PM on April 15


It is uncomfortable to be told no, but that's something everyone need to learn sometimes.
posted by seanmpuckett at 3:46 PM on April 15 [16 favorites]


"We hear you're unhappy about it, and think your idea is stupid" is how BOTH of those responses were delivered

No. It’s how you received them. Least charitable interpretation, man. Nothing happening right now is even 1/10th as personal as you’re making it out to be.
posted by palomar at 3:47 PM on April 15 [43 favorites]


Is it too much to ask to be told no without sarcasm and dismissiveness?
posted by tclark at 3:47 PM on April 15 [4 favorites]


I'm really uncomfortable with what comes across as a But I want to talk about this right NOW vibe in this thread as it seems to prioritize the interests of people to have a literally immediate discussion over just about everything else, including the ability of the site moderators to do their work in a sustainable fashion.
posted by MoonOrb at 3:48 PM on April 15 [41 favorites]


Twice I got "we can't make everyone happy all the time" dismissal. Even a "this may not make you happy but we do want to do this better and we're thinking about it" would have been better than, effectively being just straight up dismissed as asking for a rainbow and personal pony.

I get that you're upset about this because you think that you had a good idea that was being dismissed out of hand in a somewhat scornful way. That was not my read on how things went. However, I do think it's a necessary part of modding (especially in MeFi's 'one mod at a time' schedule/system) to set expectations and to let people know "Hey we heard your suggestion but we're not doing that even if it makes perfect sense to you." Because honestly, the big part of making changes to MeFi (policy changes or coding changes) is not the typing. Shifting policy, shifting moderation standards, or shifting how threads work, are actually big social changes which have costs.

There's a discussion to be made about whether the way breaking news is handled is inconsistent and/or not working for the site (I am on the site of being okay with these deletions but I see it as a thing people can reasonably disagree on). But while that conversation is happening is really not the best time to show up with rapidfire comments that insult the mods and demand immediate attention.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 3:49 PM on April 15 [60 favorites]


Again, tclark, that’s your interpretation. And, I mean this kindly, but dude. You seem hell bent on making this into something it’s not. The thread you wanted is up, maybe go post what you need to post in it. Unless your aim was a fight?
posted by palomar at 3:50 PM on April 15 [27 favorites]


I think it would be worth having a larger discussion about breaking news posts in a week or so, which would give people some perspective on whether waiting about four hours to put a post up in the midst of breaking news had a significant enough negative impact on the site to make normal practice worth changing.

I really dislike any attitude towards the mods that’s even approaching “let me talk to your manager” / “give me the answer I want” attitude, and this thread is as close to that line as I’ve seen in a while. I think it would be good to pull further back from that.
posted by sallybrown at 3:51 PM on April 15 [37 favorites]


Is it too much to ask to be told no without sarcasm and dismissiveness?

It's not, but there is a 0% chance that you're going to affect a change about this in this very thread, which was started about something else and is now becoming increasingly about you.
posted by 23skidoo at 3:52 PM on April 15 [6 favorites]


*loquacious sits down and deliberately and slowly rolls an enormous joint, lights it, and begins blowing heavy smoke around the room. they appear to be humming softly and producing a calming subsonic hum.*
posted by loquacious at 3:52 PM on April 15 [16 favorites]


tclark, did you see the FPP yet? (No sarcasm, seriously, just thought you might want to know there’s a Notre Dame FPP to comment in, now.)
posted by nightrecordings at 3:53 PM on April 15 [2 favorites]


I re-read all of my comments in this thread and apologize for making it partly all-about-me, and definitely for my tone of I-demand-an-answer. That was not called for, and I retract those.

I should not have reacted as I did to their comments. I remain convinced that they were scornful and dismissive, and their tone is unmistakably sarcastic. I think that sarcasm and scorn is unbecoming of a mod. My responses were also unbecoming. I'm going to bow out of the thread.
posted by tclark at 3:53 PM on April 15 [25 favorites]


"We hear you're unhappy about it, and think your idea is stupid" is how BOTH of those responses were delivered.

Are these the two responses you're referring to? Because, all I see is that you got told "no." I see no judgment about the inherent worth of your idea. Just a "no" that was unwelcome.
There are a lot of things we don't do here. I hear you that you're not happy about that.

We are at peace with not being able to be everything to everyone, honestly.
posted by duffell at 3:54 PM on April 15 [5 favorites]


Hey tclark, you want some of this? Or a hug?
posted by loquacious at 3:58 PM on April 15 [8 favorites]


I note the mods are pretty good at restating what they understand to be a commenter's grievance or point of disagreement as a way to frame an answer the commenter isn't going to like or find sufficient. This is a tried and true technique of conflict resolution that often works in oral discourse where you can nonverbally signify the paraphrase or restatement is a sympathetic attempt to show you do get the point of the complaint even if you can't address it satisfactorily.

In writing, those nonverbal cues are not present and I think it's possible to take that technique as condescending or dismissive more easily, especially when you're justifiably upset about the news behind this discussion. As many of us are. Clearly as a community we give the mods the benefit of the doubt on things like tone almost reflexively, and almost always correctly (mods are human too).

Anger is a stage of grief. We all need a hug.
posted by spitbull at 3:59 PM on April 15 [4 favorites]


Which is to say, tclark, that I think most of us are saying you're just mistaken that any mod comments here were dismissive or scornful. That's not how they roll, and you know that if you think about for a second.
posted by spitbull at 4:02 PM on April 15 [7 favorites]


There are a lot of things we don't do here. I hear you that you're not happy about that. posted by LobsterMitten
It would be very easy to take this as sarcasm. I don't think it was meant that way; I think it was meant literally as I hear you.
posted by theora55 at 4:02 PM on April 15 [14 favorites]


I interpreted it as the rudest sarcasm I can imagine. That's how I talk to people I hate. That's why I suggested mods use more words in threads like these, because short statements like that can be very easily interpreted in wildly different ways, whereas longer comments are harder to misinterpret.
posted by 23skidoo at 4:08 PM on April 15 [16 favorites]


I feel the reason people always want to have breaking news posts here, is that this is our primary community and:

Callahan's Law (also known as the Law of Conservation of Pain and Joy):

"Shared pain is lessened; shared joy, increased—thus do we refute entropy."
posted by jkaczor at 4:09 PM on April 15 [8 favorites]


Then that was a deeply uncharitable interpretation, 23skidoo.
posted by Hermione Granger at 4:10 PM on April 15 [32 favorites]


But why on earth would your first assumption be that the mods hate you?
posted by palomar at 4:10 PM on April 15 [13 favorites]


Whoaaaaa, I don't think the mods hate me, or anyone. That's not what I said, at all. I'm going to bounce out this thread now, too.
posted by 23skidoo at 4:15 PM on April 15


I think it would be worth having a larger discussion about breaking news posts in a week or so

I would like to see this as well. I have some questions and comments on the subject of how the site might handle future breaking news subjects, but my thoughts are about the subject in general.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:17 PM on April 15 [3 favorites]


This site is emotionally exhausting.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 4:17 PM on April 15 [29 favorites]


You said that the way the mods commented is the same way you’d talk to someone you’d hate. So I’m not sure why one would say that if they weren’t trying to say they felt hated.
posted by palomar at 4:18 PM on April 15 [7 favorites]


Sorry, that's probably the kind of hot take that doesn't help anyone, but damn. Between this and a few other threads in the last couple days, I'm just exhausted.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 4:18 PM on April 15


The kind of gentle therapy-speak that's increasingly becoming favored for telling anyone anywhere anything they're not 100% enthused to hear is pretty much indistinguishable from steam-your-face-off deadpan sarcasm.

I don't think that's LobsterMitten's fault and I have no suggestions for improving practices in the future, sorry
posted by prize bull octorok at 4:27 PM on April 15 [23 favorites]


Between this and a few other threads in the last couple days, I'm just exhausted.

Just think where you'd be if a post like this got out of control....
posted by sammyo at 4:28 PM on April 15


I lean toward "we don't do breaking news well here, and so shouldn't", all the more so because people are wanting those threads to be for comfort, which...we don't actually do well here, for reasons I think are appropriate in some ways. Not on the Blue, especially. It's been a similar issue in the past regarding obituary posts, which a lot of people want to be a "speak no ill" zone but situations and people often have ill aspects.

It is absolutely a reasonable human response to want to huddle together with the people we already choose to spend a lot of time with when something bad, sad, scary, and/or difficult happens. I came and checked to see if there was a thread, too, but also afraid of what I'd see. Comfort is not what the site is designed for, though there are probably ways to do that in a limited sense but not on the Blue where it's going to be painful for someone who finds the situation very distressing to hear that there are less great things about the thing they are sad about.

I do think there should be some kind of internal agreement about when to discard the breaking news rules but otherwise a fairly tight restriction. People wanting to compare a thousandfold-livestreamed empty building burning down in a construction accident to 9/11 and a near telecommunications blackout in the middle of an ongoing terrorist attack, and want to call that American bias of some kind, should consider walking that back a few steps. Certainly, if a second major landmark in Paris or Europe had gone up in flames in alarmingly close timing and suspicious circumstances OR (and/or) people were dying or getting displaced without being able to get home/to safety and possibly having difficulty getting information (I remember this happening after the Bataclan shooting, but maybe on the Grey?), I would hope the rules would be suspended in that case and there would pretty quickly be an FPP for information and MetaTalk for getting assistance to posters on the ground, but even that requires a judgment call from one or more moderators at a point where information may still be so thin it's hard to make a good call until another hour or some have passed. (Mass shootings and bombings are probably some of the hardest to make that kind of call on, because you often don't know you have an Ongoing Event happening until it's horribly obvious, and also yes I am horrified that I am saying "well, just one shooting? no no, it has to be a spree".)

But I don't think a Big Event is in any way diminished for not having an FPP on the Blue, because it's not there for breaking news or support group meetings, and it still happened even if it is undocumented here right away. In a couple of days there likely will be a ton of really good content out there about the engineering of the building, the art that was saved, what reconstruction will be like, the things that were lost. There will be a lot to say that isn't even discussable today, when Sources were writing the entire building off as a loss but I'm just now seeing a tweet that La Rosace Nord (the North Rose Window) may still be intact, though still in danger. There are other places to get the instant information, there will be opportunity to talk about what happened here in the future.
posted by Lyn Never at 4:33 PM on April 15 [29 favorites]


I apologize in advance for not reading through a thread that is already 160 comments long and instead diving in with my own hot take, but what exactly in this context does "not do well" even mean in this context? What exactly is the damage done to the metafilter dot com if people comment and react to this particular type of event before all the facts are in?
posted by drlith at 4:34 PM on April 15


What exactly is the damage done
If past threads are any indication, tension building until one-to-several users quits the site, leaving the remaining participants on-edge and wary about the next thread.
posted by CrystalDave at 4:38 PM on April 15 [15 favorites]


I also misread LobsterMitten’s comment the same way a couple others did and was surprised. I think I missed a word! - I read it as “I hear that you’re not happy about that,” which sounded super biting. And I read it as someone whose first instincts were to support the deletion!! All of which I take as a reminder that it’s easy to be wrong on the internet, especially at speed.
posted by eirias at 4:42 PM on April 15 [4 favorites]


You said that the way the mods commented is the same way you’d talk to someone you’d hate. So I’m not sure why one would say that if they weren’t trying to say they felt hated.

I'm going to bounce back in to respond real quick: If I wanted to say "Mods hate me", I'd just say that. I said what I said to provide a single data point that certain phrases could be interpreted in wildly different ways. I don't think the mods hate me, I've corrected that misinterpretation of what I said, and I'd appreciate it if you'd quit leaving responses which suggest that I think the mods hate me or any member, as that is completely not at all what I said, and I'm leaving-leaving the thread now, so I won't be able to explain myself any better.

I don't think the mods hate me. I don't think the mods hate any member. #reallybouncingnowforreal
posted by 23skidoo at 4:49 PM on April 15 [8 favorites]


What exactly is the damage done

Along with things being said from a heightened emotional state, and misreadings or hastily-written things not striking the intended tone in ways that make users leave or leave a long tail of hurt on the site, there's often a LOT of misinformation getting included in the rush to bring things back to the thread here from outside, and it sticks unless it's bad enough to be mod-removed or the poster requests removal. These threads turn into liveblogging the event, people rushing to contribute, people skipping too many comments to just leave their own, fights breaking out that are made worse by the format, a lot of redundant comments, that joke or aside that someone wrote but then things took a turn before they hit post - basically everything you normally don't want a thread to be.
posted by Lyn Never at 4:52 PM on April 15 [15 favorites]




I was genuinely trying to understand the comment, 23skidoo. Thanks for clarifying.
posted by palomar at 5:02 PM on April 15


I don't think that the two posts that were deleted were being consumed with hot takes, unless a bunch of comments had been purged before the threads were removed.
posted by Going To Maine at 5:05 PM on April 15 [3 favorites]


I have to say this: I wish people hadn't brought up 9/11, and I wish it wasn't just used as a stand-in. CNN used have a scrolling list of names at the bottom of the screen, and my dad watched it for months, looking for more friends and acquaintances of his that were confirmed dead. Every so often we'd see the name of someone else he knew. I understand that the loss of this cathedral will be a deeply traumatic event for many people, but please don't compare it to something else, especially not something that so deeply traumatized so many people. I get that the 9/11 thread was a big deal in the history of this site, but this is a different kind of event. This isn't me being US-centered, this is me feeling unexpectedly emotional about a really terrifying and unforgettable event that happened when I was a teenager.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 5:09 PM on April 15 [23 favorites]


I'm sorry, someone made a 9/11 comparison in the other thread, and for whatever reason, in spite of nearly two decades of references and memes and things, that set me off. That may just be me, but the point is, you don't know what baggage someone is bringing to a thread like this.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 5:11 PM on April 15 [3 favorites]


About 80% of my Facebook feed today was Notre Dame, and Notre Dame filled Twitter as well (Twitter was better). I'm not sure if MetaFilter could do anything different?

I'm not really sure what value a MetaFilter thread would add while the fire was still going on. There's a fire. There are photos. It's being fought by firefighters. Nobody knows what caused it.

What else is there to say?

In the coming days there will be a lot of commentary that can be curated and discussed, something that MetaFilter does quite well.
posted by JamesBay at 5:42 PM on April 15 [6 favorites]


yes shapes that haunt the dark, me too. as far as I heard there were no human casualties of Notre Dame. there certainly weren't mass human loss like 9/11 and fukushima and yet both were mentioned as comparisons. It disgusted me.
posted by biggreenplant at 5:45 PM on April 15 [13 favorites]


There was no loss of human life. But there has been the loss of the work of so many human lives that we will never know, that lived and died in obscurity, producing one beautiful thing to the glory of the God they believed in. One thing, a literal hundred years of work, day in and day out, of generations of the best craftsmen at their peak, coming together in a massive undertaking that we will never, ever, do again.

I was a New Yorker when 9/11 happened and I am a Catholic now and even if the emotions aren’t exactly the same, they can nod to each other in the street.
posted by corb at 5:56 PM on April 15 [24 favorites]


This is undoubtedly a tragedy. I don't ask everyone to agree with me, but I'd ask them to respect that my feelings on this are also valid. I still wish that the comparison hadn't been made, especially not as it was, to make a point about site moderation.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 6:04 PM on April 15 [13 favorites]


What else is there to say?
This argument is infuriating.
posted by sageleaf at 6:23 PM on April 15 [3 favorites]


I was okay with the deletions and I think the post now is just what it should be.

I think the expectation of what MetaFilter the site should provide to its members is shifting. For a while, it was quality FPPs. Now it seems it's being asked more often to become a gathering place for realtime conversation but with the same high level of moderation. And I think doing that more often would require a shift in what we-the-community can/should give back to MetaFilter in order to support that expectation.

I can't find the phrasing to better express it, but maybe we can discuss this at a less-sad time.
posted by kimberussell at 6:35 PM on April 15 [20 favorites]


This argument is infuriating.

Why? What kind of insights can MetaFilter provide while a building is burning down? None. It's burning down. The firefighters are there. They saved some of it. We don't know why. No lives are in danger. MetaFilter cannot help save anyone or anything, unlike the 9/11 thread so long ago. It's unlike the 3/11 threads because the Notre Dame event is not complex, or catastrophic on a massive scale involving millions of people.

Most MeFites don't even live in France, or in Paris, and can offer no valuable commentary.

You may recall that I did say that in the days that follow, MetaFilter does an excellent job after the fact, curating useful information.
posted by JamesBay at 6:37 PM on April 15 [7 favorites]


It's not a case where something horrible happened and nobody knows what's going on and maybe people on the ground can provide any reasonable information that isn't right there on the news.

The opposite, IMO. The worst threads here are when nobody knows anything. "Is everyone ok?" goes pretty well. "This happened, share your memories" goes pretty well. "Maybe it's terrorists" and "My first reaction to hearing the news, unfiltered by any second thoughts, let me unleash it on people with raw feelings" goes really badly.

Good call to wait a reasonable "circuit breaker" few hours to give it a footing to start off on. I'm sorry people are hurting over this (and it's not something I can understand) and I look forward to the post when it's the right time to have it. "Immediately" is not the right time.
posted by ctmf at 6:46 PM on April 15 [13 favorites]


Metafilter threads are not the the standard by which tragedies are judged - this remains a tragedy even if there's never a thread about it. There's no rush and if we're voting* then I agree with the deletions.

* We're not voting
posted by GuyZero at 6:48 PM on April 15 [6 favorites]


What kind of insights can MetaFilter provide while a building is burning down?
That your community has you and is holding space for you is certainly of some value. Threads are not just about information. If they were, we would not have obituary threads full of dots: those are fairly uninformative, and yet...

I looked here and was surprised and sad that I didn't have an online place to really "be" while this happened. I also recognize Metafilter is not everything for everyone at every time. Still, I am disappointed that so many threads were deleted, and then when a thread finally went up... a mod is the one who made it? I don't know, it doesn't really matter at all who made the post, but it also does matter. It sends a message (whether it intends to or not) that I'm not terribly surprised to receive, but am still disappointed to hear.
posted by sockermom at 6:51 PM on April 15 [24 favorites]


a mod is the one who made it?
A member of the community is the one who made it.
posted by neroli at 6:54 PM on April 15 [29 favorites]


I think it would be worth having a larger discussion about breaking news posts in a week or so,

Agree, and I also think it's part of the long-awaited megathreads: what do we do about that? MeTa the mods are working on. I mean, the megathreads are in essence never-ending breaking news posts.
posted by ctmf at 6:57 PM on April 15 [7 favorites]


These feel like bad deletions to me. I've always interpreted "Metafilter is not a breaking news site" as meaning that we don't have to post every single scrap of new news as it happens and should use some judgement. This response by the mods feels more blanket, and I think inappropriately so.
posted by feckless at 7:00 PM on April 15 [3 favorites]


I present nothing but a data point. I am not Parisian, Catholic, nor all that vested in architecture (though timber framing techniques and history is amazing to me and I'm all about reading about that aspect of things like Notre Dame).

I heard about this and went immediately to metafilter to see what the thread that I expected to be there was saying, because oh my God and also mefites are the best folks that I want to listen to when things like this (pardon the pun) go down, and there was no thread.

For better or worse, there was no thread and that was surprising to me. That is all.
posted by RolandOfEld at 7:01 PM on April 15 [9 favorites]


I'm kind of interested that the chat feature on MetaFilter isn't feeling like a viable option for people who want a community space to express their thoughts and feelings immediately upon hearing the news; i.e., for those people who are in a place where they just cannot imagine waiting an hour or two to have the discussion they want to have. I'm genuinely curious about this. Is there a feeling that you need a wider audience and the chatroom isn't a big enough audience? Is it that you want what you write to be permanent instead of ephemeral? Would you not feel heard in the chatroom? Is the chatroom just unfamiliar enough of a place that going there doesn't seem comfortable when what you need is to say something right now instead of in a few hours?
posted by MoonOrb at 7:34 PM on April 15 [12 favorites]


I barely remember that the chatroom exists. I've used it maybe 5 times ever.
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:40 PM on April 15 [1 favorite]

> "I think it would be worth having a larger discussion about breaking news posts in a week or so"
This gets suggested every time something like this - people feeling the site hasn't handled $event/$news appropriately or well - occurs, and I've yet to see it happen. Possibly because (like me) anyone who reviews the previous discussions to gather outlining/starting points gets too wound-up/angry all over again to make an even-handed attempt

I would suggest that someone calmer, or maybe the mods themselves, should make such a post to kick the discussion off. But I honestly can't think of anyone here - mods included - who could do that even-handedly enough without making it feel terribly patronising to many.

(And, on a related/side note, even though I value both the US Politics and Brexit threads for both the information they link/summarise and the informed insight they contain, there's not a doubt in my mind that they - the first, in particular - have destroyed lot of what made Metafilter great. If any threads here have been full of non-stop-breaking news, hot-takes that stay just enough on-message to be let through, and tangentially-relevant partisan opinion, it's been the US Politics threads…)
posted by Pinback at 7:40 PM on April 15 [6 favorites]


I see a lot of people implicitly assuming that the purpose of MetaFilter (or, at least, a purpose) is to provide comfort and emotional support during difficult times. And therefore, if the mods fail to immediately meet the users' emotional needs, they are somehow betraying the site's purpose.

And, like...MeFi certainly can be that, and has been that, at various times. But I don't think that "emotional comfort" is MeFi's primary mission. MeFi exists to facilitate discussion about interesting stuff on the web. Sometimes those things happen to be sad, and MeFi happens to have a great community of thoughtful people, who can lend comfort at those moments.

But that emotional support is a happy bonus. Coming to MeFi and finding that the site isn't meeting your exact emotional needs at that exact moment doesn't mean that something has gone wrong. Maybe it just means that you're over-reliant on a message board for your therapeutic needs.

MetaFilter's great community arises from the emphasis on discussing substantial content. It's not a great community that happens to discuss substantial content sometimes.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 7:44 PM on April 15 [58 favorites]


I'm kind of interested that the chat feature on MetaFilter isn't feeling like a viable option for people who want a community space to express their thoughts and feelings immediately upon hearing the news

Speaking for myself, MoonOrb, the last time I went into chat was at a moment when there was some type of breaking news/press event happening in the general ongoing political clusterfuck and the direction was to head to chat for real time reaction. So I did, along with a bunch of others, and about the first thing I remember seeing upon coming into chat was some type of comment from someone in there conveyed the tone of "great, here come the chuckleheads who only come here for these moments and intrude on our space."

Which, fine. I don't use chat much. And with that greeting, I decided I wouldn't bother again - it left me with the impression that it's a place that some users really value and that those of us who don't frequent it weren't all that welcome to use in the fashion that has been suggested.

To be completely frank, I'm finding the site overall is generally more hostile and everyone seems far more inclined to read the absolute worst intention in whatever anyone is saying. Which very likely includes me and my interpretation of the comment I saw upon entering chat; but the end of all of this is that I'm thinking it's probably time for me to take a break from the site for a while, because I feel like there's a constant level of grar present in almost everything I'm reading. I don't know if that's something I'm bringing to the site or taking from it; perhaps it is both.
posted by nubs at 7:50 PM on April 15 [17 favorites]


The chatroom is pretty cliquey ....

I think in the sense this is a community, then major events like this should given a space for members to gather and if some deletions are called for well that is not very different from all kinds of not-news posts where fights break out.

I also can't help thinking if it was the Guggenheim or MOMA on fire then there would have been a different response. Paris is pretty distant from MeFi central and we know this site is taken to be an American site with some foreign guests.....
posted by Rumple at 7:54 PM on April 15 [16 favorites]


Everyone needs a hug.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:54 PM on April 15 [7 favorites]


I'm kind of interested that the chat feature on MetaFilter isn't feeling like a viable option for people who want a community space to express their thoughts

As somebody who has spent half their life on the Internet, chat is different. It has its own dynamic and you cannot just move from a sequential-comment thread to a chat and get on with things without a long acclimatization period. Chat as a medium elicits different behaviors and requires a different set of rhetorico-social skills. I'm sure Chat on MetaFilter is awesome - which is precisely why I avoid it, as a former chat addict. But I don't think it can be a substitute for the other thing. Because the appeal of a well-moderated comment thread, especially in the case of momentous event like today's, is that it provides information, reflection, meaning, and insight... with the chat stuff kept to a minimum. You can't send people to chat when chat is what they are hoping to avoid.

I get that moderation of news threads is an enormous burden, since they come out of nowhere and can last for hours... days... years. And I think the venting threads are a good solution. But I doubt chat will ever really be seen as a viable alternative by most posters.
posted by lefty lucky cat at 8:42 PM on April 15 [13 favorites]


All fair points! Thanks. I can see why it wouldn't be a complete substitute, of course, but I suppose I thought it would be workable for the few hours or whatever it is that people were compelled to wait until there was an FPP.
posted by MoonOrb at 8:53 PM on April 15 [2 favorites]


Maybe it would be better phrasing to say that chat is not something they are hoping to avoid, but that the removal of chatlike posting elicits more of the type of exchanges that they are seeking out. In themselves as well as from others—knowing the rules of posting on Metafilter leads me to post in a different way than I would in a chat.
posted by lefty lucky cat at 9:04 PM on April 15 [2 favorites]


Amazing how once there was a post griping disappeared immediately. Almost like people asking for a post just wanted a post.
posted by miss-lapin at 9:32 PM on April 15 [4 favorites]


Chat is another whole can of worms. Someone still needs to moderate in real-time one sentence reaction and then there's the log and non-removal of offense. The passing down of authority to kick/ban. The creation and ownership of rooms. Yadda Yadda.

I ran multiple chat rooms for a website once... It was not very fun. Especially with multiple rooms and not enough critical mass to offload the moderation.

That's not to say I don't want a side-panel of recent chat activity and more promotion. Or the ability to create a live conversation per post even... But the overhead would be exponential, turtles all the way down.

It would still boil down to moderators (and probably not the ones you already know) and/or a cabal of the elite with the power of silence or who can do what and to whom or total anarchy.

I've pondered and still do. I ran a MeFi chat for a year on an AWS free instance with a bot and everything. Before it's time... /me graaaaarrrrr
posted by zengargoyle at 9:40 PM on April 15


Almost like people

I use this construction a lot. Thank you for really illuminating how snide, shitty, petulant and all around fucking awful it sounds.

I will take this lesson to heart.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:42 PM on April 15 [10 favorites]


"a mod is the one who made it"

Yeah, although, if it makes a difference, I'm Catholic (although pretty lapsed at this point), I have a BA in theology and a masters in theology that focused on liturgy, so church architecture actually IS something I know a lot about (I mean, I literally know three stonemasons who specialize in church restorations). We were talking about the fire itself, and the posts about the fire, in mod chat, and I was sharing some of the stuff I was seeing from my circle of Catholic academics and theologians and priests, some of whom are in Paris, and some of the information they were sharing, and I was explaining some of the nuances of how the fire was likely to affect the building and what historical precedents for this sort of fire were, and we were talking about how we hoped someone would make a well-framed and substantive post now that actual solid information was forthcoming from the French government and firefighters, and another mod said, "geez, you've got all these links, you should post." I felt a little weird about doing it after the earlier deletions, because I am a mod as well as a community member, but that meant I was able to workshop it real fast with the rest of the mod team and ensure the framing was okay. (I actually would have liked to include a lot more but I feel so sick about it, I couldn't bear to compile any further links.)

But I definitely understand anyone who feels weird about it.
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 10:06 PM on April 15 [50 favorites]


Disagree strongly with the deletions. And I disagree that Mefi handles breaking news poorly. In fact I tend to come here first for news, because I know people will be filtering the mainstream media's endless reporting and posting links to actual information as it comes in. I was at work when this news broke and my first thought was "hmm, should I check Metafilter?". (I usually abstain at work...)

The quality of the Katrina coverage was what made me start reading Metafilter daily. I think on balance Mefi is great at news.

I understand and agree with (paraphrasing) "Metafilter is not a breaking news site", we don't need a post about every random U.S. election development for example. But Notre Dame is big news.

To me, wanting a more substantive post is just circling Robin Hood's barn. Whatever links are cobbled together for a post are going to become obsolete very quickly. And the news is not going to have settled down within a few hours or even days. The thread is going to be about the ongoing developments, not the content of the post, that's just the way it is and (IMO) there's nothing wrong with that.
posted by equalpants at 10:08 PM on April 15 [21 favorites]


And BTW I don't mean to sound unappreciative of Eyebrows's links in the post. That's exactly the kind of thing that makes me want to get the news here. But really there's no reason these things can't just be in the middle of the thread. Like foxfirefey's comment for example.
posted by equalpants at 10:13 PM on April 15 [1 favorite]


I'm sorry to take so long writing up a comment - and as I've gradually read back over the thread, during my shift, I've deleted a lot of my earlier draft comments because most of my points were made better by other members. So, will just say I appreciate everyone taking the time to share their opinion in here and especially those extending grace to other people who've disagreed.

We can talk about whether, when a really big breaking news story like this is in a holding pattern for a short time, if there's some nondisruptive way of communicating that. I'm not sure how much emphasis to place on that as a solution, though, because just communicating there's a delay won't address the core disagreement between "immediate post" vs "short delay" people, and might just annoy more people ("you've actively brought something to my attention, entirely to tell me I can't talk about it here yet?")
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 10:21 PM on April 15 [9 favorites]


Agreed that this doesn't address the core disagreement in how to approach big breaking news, but possibly one way to communicate that the site is aware of the news and a post will be forthcoming would be to use the site announcement banner. Perhaps paired with a MeTa thread to discuss/workshop an FPP and get mod feedback for when it seems like it's ready to post. Something like "The tragic news of the fire at the Notre Dame cathedral is an actively developing story. A thread to discuss news sources and prepare an FPP is on MetaTalk." (With the link going to the appropriate thread, of course.) Clearly this won't make everyone happy, but maybe helps communicate that this is an event that the community believes is important and isn't just ignoring. Not sure what the moderation of that MetaTalk thread would end up looking like, though; perhaps just as difficult or worse than an unworkshopped FPP.
posted by biogeo at 10:55 PM on April 15 [12 favorites]


communicating there's a delay [...] might just annoy more people ("you've actively brought something to my attention, entirely to tell me I can't talk about it here yet?")

I expect that the lengthy politics FPPs have conditioned people to accept that a detailed post takes time. You could also have a link to chat for immediate reactions.
posted by Joe in Australia at 11:52 PM on April 15


Perhaps paired with a MeTa thread to discuss/workshop an FPP and get mod feedback for when it seems like it's ready to post.


I feel like that would instantly become the discussion thread. Perhaps instead a link to a wiki page to build the post in - does that handle simultaneous editing well?
posted by the agents of KAOS at 12:34 AM on April 16


The pile of posts & comments deleted by the mods suggests that a discussion thread is what the members wanted.
posted by pharm at 12:42 AM on April 16 [1 favorite]


It does. But not every thing that the members want may be possible.
posted by Too-Ticky at 12:56 AM on April 16 [3 favorites]


A statement which is both simultaneously vacuously true and irrelevant as in this case what those members wanted was entirely possible, but their wishes were frustrated by the mods.

Personally, I think this is exactly the kind of behaviour which is leading to the steady bleeding away of engagement with the site. Members come here wanting to talk about something that matters to them and find their wishes frustrated. Surprise! They don’t come here as often any more, because what’s the point?

Sure, eventually there’s a post (which had to be posted by a mod, because by then everyone who knows how the site works has got the message that any post about Notre-Dame burning is going to be deleted on sight) but in the meantime everyone who came to the site hoping to find something of meaning to them has gone away that little bit more alienated from Metafilter.
posted by pharm at 1:09 AM on April 16 [17 favorites]


To respond to the suggestions upthread that geography led to this tragedy being downplayed, I have a history of calling out Metafilter's US-centrism and I strongly agree with these deletions. Comparing the comments in the deleted threads to those in the surviving thread demonstrates that waiting for a more substantive post really makes a difference to the conversation.
posted by Busy Old Fool at 2:13 AM on April 16 [17 favorites]


It's been our experience with breaking news horrific stories that waiting a bit to get some solid info and background or context and someone framing a thoughtful, careful post makes a massive amount of difference in how the thread develops, and this is what we usually try to encourage. If people want to come here to discuss because they feel it will be a (hopefully!) more thoughtful discussion environment, that's great, but we do think that following this approach is an important part of what helps to cultivate and maintain such an environment.

Here's a long Metatalk from 2012 (Sandyhook) where some people were also very angry that we asked to wait for a bit more solid info for a post, but this is just one example (there have been several similar Metatalk discussions).

For what it's worth, The Breaking News Consumer's Handbook offers this: "whatever you might hear in the first couple of hours after a major news event, you should probably take it all with a grain of salt ... It’s quite possible that what you hear as the news stories the next morning – what they focus on might be quite different than the day before."

We've seen a lot of misinformation in the early reporting of breaking news, and indeed, depending on the complexity of the event, as the situation unfolds, so our first goal is to get some baseline of dependable info to discuss rather than have a thread kick off / fill up with with rumors, disinformation, hoaxes, political posturing, lashing out, blame laying, etc. before facts begin to shake out.
posted by taz (staff) at 2:46 AM on April 16 [43 favorites]


In this situation, would it be possible for mods to put a temporary message at the top of the front page, notifying people that an FPP is in the oven?

And maybe it should be policy that mods construct special-rules FPPs?

If those things happened, we would end up with breaking-news FPPs of quality, and users would have time to consider what they really want to contribute to it.
posted by heatvision at 3:38 AM on April 16 [6 favorites]


It seems like the ideal would be to have most breaking news posts not happen, while leaving room for there to be such posts for really big events. Those posts, ideally, would lead to threads without a lot of hot takes and misinformation, while providing space for interesting and (emotionally and practically) useful discussion.

Situations where either (a) the threads are full of misinformation, or (b) threads are significantly delayed are both undesirable, for reasons described above.

To me (maybe naively) it seems like one way to try to work towards the ideal would be to have breaking news posts be accompanied by a prominent description of the desired behavior in such posts, along with a site culture where that is an understood norm for posts/comments in general, and enough posters in a given thread are aware of the norm that they can help reinforce it during these threads. (The politics threads have that to some extent, and it's my understanding that the explicit requests and explanations of norms do have at least some helpful effect?)

Anyway, I'm wondering if other things that could help would be

- an addition to the interface for posting an FPP where you'd be asked if your post is about breaking news and, if so, if you really feel the event is extraordinary enough to pass the bar for immediate posting rather than waiting until things settle down

- a modly description of desired behavior in breaking news posts automatically added either to the body of such posts or as a first comment

- a resource both mods and users can link to (an FAQ entry or wiki page) that explains clearly the norms for such posts and the rationale behind them

I want to say that erring on the side of managing risks on posts rather than just restricting them prophylactically seems better for the site, but I only have one user's perspective on this and maybe there have already been a lot of attempts to run breaking news posts this way that haven't worked well. (The politics megathreads seem like somewhat extreme cases that don't necessarily generalize well, because they're about never-ending streams of events rather than a single one.)
posted by trig at 3:38 AM on April 16 [4 favorites]


I don’t think this was a great deletion; let people do their thing. The discussion in the original deleted posts was much better and would have developed into something more diverse and interesting.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 3:53 AM on April 16 [11 favorites]


I'm kind of interested that the chat feature on MetaFilter isn't feeling like a viable option for people who want a community space to express their thoughts and feelings immediately upon hearing the news; i.e., for those people who are in a place where they just cannot imagine waiting an hour or two to have the discussion they want to have. I'm genuinely curious about this. Is there a feeling that you need a wider audience and the chatroom isn't a big enough audience? Is it that you want what you write to be permanent instead of ephemeral? Would you not feel heard in the chatroom? Is the chatroom just unfamiliar enough of a place that going there doesn't seem comfortable when what you need is to say something right now instead of in a few hours?

This is an interesting question, and I've read the responses in here. To add my two cents:

In my original comment in this thread, I said:

strongly disagree with the deletions as well. I really would have liked a thread to process and mourn with the community today instead of kinda barging in on Chat / lonely refreshing twitter. I know we aren't a breaking news site, but this is world-changing for a lot of people.

Leaving aside most of that (which has been discussed and answered by the community and mods) I do think that in retrospect, it's significant that my brain reached for "...barging in on Chat" as the description.

I think I did that for two reasons: one, I don't go there often and I have an a priori understanding that it is a place frequented by a small group of regulars, and my default state is one of deep social discomfort with entering spaces dominated by small groups as I feel anxious and unwelcome by default even if that's not the case and two, because someone (well-meaning) in chat explicitly said, after I brought up Notre Dame as the reason I showed up, that the thing I wanted to talk about is not what Chat is for.

I made some gentle pushback on that and closed the tab.

So to your question, it's not that I didn't want to go to Chat or that I wanted a wider (you said audience which seems like the wrong word, I wasn't there to perform, so let's say community) community to share the moment with but rather that Chat has, for me, a reputation for being only for certain uses and mostly for certain users, and other uses and new users will be met with friction and / or hostility.
posted by lazaruslong at 5:43 AM on April 16 [23 favorites]


A lot of the time in Chat, people will come in, say hi, and log off immediately if they don't get a response within a few seconds. I wonder if the non-response is sometimes interpreted as hostility.

In reality, most of the names at the side of the Chat box are not 100% engaged with the Chat all the time - many have got their computer running Chat in the background while they do other things or are away from the screen.
posted by winterhill at 5:45 AM on April 16 [6 favorites]


Yeah, I think that's possible. FWIW, I didn't experience the pushback to my coming into chat and bringing up Notre Dame as hostile, just friction born of a place with established norms and regulars experiencing a deviation from normal operations. But I can see how someone, especially someone looking for the solace of community in a moment of pain, could make the interpretation jump from friction to hostility.
posted by lazaruslong at 5:59 AM on April 16


My Facebook feed this morning is filled with posts and links that looked credible and claimed particular details of the damage with considerable authority yesterday which are today being corrected - and sometimes the corrections are also being corrected. That's part of the reason Metafilter doesn't do breaking news well - those first bad links and comments remain at the top of the thread and are only challenged and corrected hundreds of posts later when actual information is available and those corrections aren't immediately visible to someone reading the original bad info.

I don't see this as a slam dunk argument against breaking news posts, but it does point a bit in the direction of caution on breaking news posts.
posted by jacquilynne at 6:02 AM on April 16 [16 favorites]


With respect to chat, most chat software allows for easily configurable extra rooms. Maybe it would be possible for the mods to throw up a different chat room just for whatever the breaking news story is and point to that in the header rather than directing people to take over an established conversation among chat regulars?
posted by jacquilynne at 6:05 AM on April 16 [6 favorites]


I missed this MeTa before I posted. I just want to say that I wasn't surprised not to see a breaking news FPP. Somehow I assumed it was part of the culture here to take a breath and put together a thoughtful post.
posted by frecklefaerie at 6:17 AM on April 16 [18 favorites]


To be honest, I was more surprised by the absence of a check-in post in here than I was the absence of a breaking-news thing. Yes, we know now that there were no casualties, but something more in-the-moment to make sure would have been nice. (There are MeFites in Paris, I've met them.)

I tried to steer things that way above, looks like no one wanted to do that though. C'est la vie.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:35 AM on April 16 [3 favorites]


From the very earliest reports, there were statements that the area had been evacuated and cordoned off and that the possibility of human casualties was extremely low. I suspect that's why the check-in post never happened.

I wasn't surprised by the deletion and actually thought about coming here to see if there was a thread and then thinking, "no, it's still too early for one." So much misinformation circulates early that it's best to wait. For example, I'm very relieved to know that the report of the rose windows exploding is false.
posted by PussKillian at 7:19 AM on April 16 [10 favorites]


What bothered me wasn't that there was no FPP up immediately, it's that post after post after post about the fire got summarily deleted.

I understand that the fire relates to Eyebrows's expertise specifically, and this is not a complaint about her or the FPP that she produced (I think that as a user, she's a great person to write a post about this): but, if all the "regular" users are scared off from making a FPP because of repeated, reflexive deletions, and it takes a mod -- after encouragement and workshopping from the other mods, no less -- to create a FPP that can stand, then standards for FPPs are off. Enforcing posting and participation standards that impossibly high is unfriendly to users and to inclusivity/community.

It also seems kind of self-important on the part of the site? At the end of the day, this is just a website to post and discuss items of interest. And in this case, the mods were frustrating that rather than facilitating that, which I think is a problem.

I understand that the mods believed that they were facilitating a better discussion later, and I'm not dismissing that as a sensible idea -- but what actually happened in this case, is that the discussion then spilled into meta-discussions about the deletions instead, which I think was actually a much worse outcome than allowing a sort of messy FPP to stand would have been.

This is maybe just me personally, but it really got under my skin that in the absence of an actual FPP, this thread about Metafilter site policy (rather than about Notre Dame itself) became a proxy for one. It felt like, why are the FPPs created not significant enough to stand but a thread about their deletion is?

Honestly, I disagree that those first three FPPs were not substantial enough anyway. We have good, single-link FPPs all the time, and just the information that there was an enormous fire at Notre Dame was plenty substantial compared to the vast majority of those. And of course the story will continue developing over time, but that is still the case -- and people will (and have) posted links to those developments in the comments.

I also do think that ignorance about France was at play in how the fire was/is treated here, but that's from the site in general and not the mods or something that would relate to site policy. And I mean, I don't really expect an American site to have some deep connection with French culture, it just still took me aback. That's maybe just my own solipsism talking *shrug*
posted by rue72 at 7:36 AM on April 16 [33 favorites]


"About 80% of my Facebook feed today was Notre Dame, and Notre Dame filled Twitter as well (Twitter was better). I'm not sure if MetaFilter could do anything different?"

It could be read at work, for one thing. My office locks down pretty much all social media, so I don't have the option to check Twitter or FB for breaking news. If Metafilter won't do it, my only other option is just the comments section of Yahoo News, which...
posted by kevinbelt at 7:40 AM on April 16 [1 favorite]


Not sure what the moderation of that MetaTalk thread would end up looking like, though; perhaps just as difficult or worse than an unworkshopped FPP.

I really like the workshopping-MeTa suggestion, and (though I don't have any moderator experience anywhere) I don't *think* it would be harder to moderate than an FPP. If the MeTa is explicitly for workshopping an FPP, then people will come into it with entirely different goals and expectations. The fact that the thread is specifically about working together to create a product rather than raw reactions seems like it should make things easier to moderate.
posted by Jpfed at 7:41 AM on April 16

It could be read at work, for one thing. My office locks down pretty much all social media, so I don't have the option to check Twitter or FB for breaking news. If Metafilter won't do it, my only other option is just the comments section of Yahoo News, which...
Internet filtering on the part of your employer isn't really a relevant factor here - it's not on MetaFilter to provide an alternative because major social networking sites are blocked at your workplace.
posted by winterhill at 7:43 AM on April 16 [15 favorites]


I was relieved that:

a) the FPP was made after the hot takes moment had time to settle and some sense making could be done with links

and that

b) it finally took a mod to make it

I don't see it as higher barriers or exclusivity, but the reasons that distinguish metafilter from twitter and provide the foundations for the community weblog that we come here to enjoy.

Ignorance and exceptionalism is bad enough, but the breaking news version would have been terrible. think helicopter fire engines descending on teh roof spraying gilt coloured orange water
posted by hugbucket at 7:44 AM on April 16 [3 favorites]


Looking back at my slack/facebook EVERYTHING people were on about early yesterday is fucking wrong and speculative bullshit.

Relics lost: Nope
Rose windows lost: Nope
Large portions of stone structure collapsed: Nope
Large portions of art and statuary lost: Nope

I'm glad mefi didn't spend hundreds of comments doing the same.
posted by French Fry at 7:47 AM on April 16 [36 favorites]


Metafilter is treated as a safe space even though the mods say it isn’t one so it’s not surprising to me that people expect emotional support when they come here.
posted by girlmightlive at 7:47 AM on April 16 [5 favorites]


People expect things they have received in the past. I don't think that is out of line, nor is questioning why it is not there now. I don't agree with the demanding questions about why X is taking so long, but most of this was just curiosity about something unexpected and a hope to make the Why? part clearer. Policies here are not written in stone, which makes it possible for the mod team to make adjustments over time. However, that also means people will question the current policy and have questions when things don't work like they did before.
posted by soelo at 7:53 AM on April 16 [3 favorites]


Metafilter is treated as a safe space

Generally, it is the most empathetic and intelligent space I have ever found online. Sure - there are disagreements and snark, but people do seem to have built a community here.
posted by jkaczor at 8:15 AM on April 16 [5 favorites]


"it's not on MetaFilter to provide an alternative"

I mean, of course not. Metafilter doesn't owe me anything. But it's nice to come here and read comments, and so I had hoped to come here and read some comments, especially since it's my only real option for this particular topic. But the question was, "would these posts have done something that Twitter threads would not have?", and in a particular situation (and I don't think I'm unique in that situation), the answer is yes.
posted by kevinbelt at 8:22 AM on April 16 [1 favorite]


a) the FPP was made after the hot takes moment had time to settle and some sense making could be done with links

The idea that time equals fewer 'hot takes' doesn't match the real world. Hot takes are abundant and are coming no matter what.

Generally, it is the most empathetic and intelligent space I have ever found online.

Apparently not empathetic and intelligent enough to discuss events as they happen. That could cause 'hot takes' to creep in. More seriously, the idea that the community is 'intelligent' and 'adult' while at the same time being unable to discuss breaking news provides for some real cognitive dissonance.
posted by Fidel Cashflow at 8:23 AM on April 16 [14 favorites]


Just for discussion purposes - the first deleted post was posted at 1:42 PM Eastern, the post now standing was posted at 6:37 PM Eastern. So the delay was one of about five hours. It was not clear while the discussion was ongoing when the approved post would go up, but it did feel then and does feel now like that delay of five hours was experienced by some users as equivalent to not having any post at all, or as a significant, extended delay. While for other users (me included, for transparency) that seems like a small delay only. And I’m sure still other users (maybe even most users) didn’t notice any delay at all or don’t regularly check Meta to see this debate.
posted by sallybrown at 8:35 AM on April 16 [14 favorites]


A post on the synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh last October didn't go up until the next day. Was there a MetaTalk post accusing the mods of not caring?
posted by palomar at 8:37 AM on April 16 [14 favorites]


Vegas shooting: Post went up the next morning, maybe about 6 hours post-event.
Parkland shooting: Post went up about 24 hours later.

I don't have time to do a search for every terrible recent breaking news event and tally up any deleted posts that went up before an approved one stuck, but this was pretty par for the course in re: breaking news events, and... I don't know, something about the mass hue and cry over this one really makes me deeply uncomfortable.
posted by palomar at 8:44 AM on April 16 [35 favorites]


pharm: "Personally, I think this is exactly the kind of behaviour which is leading to the steady bleeding away of engagement with the site. Members come here wanting to talk about something that matters to them and find their wishes frustrated. Surprise! They don’t come here as often any more, because what’s the point?"

Conversely, I think one of the causes of declining engagement is the rise of "this is something we should be talking about" posts, rather than, "here is something cool/interesting/funny that I found."

I mean, I'm not offended by it ideologically, but some days the front page feels like The Daily Worker.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:47 AM on April 16 [37 favorites]


b) it finally took a mod to make it

I feel like this is the part that could have been different and it also would have been fine. Eyebrows made a fine post, but any member of the community could have been the "I made a better post" person, you don't have to have a background in the topic and you don't have to be someone with status here.

As someone pointed out way upthread, there was a comment a few comments in to one of the deleted threads that had a good summary of news sources and something like that would have been a perfectly fine post. People who aren't sure or don't feel confident about that could always email the mods and check, they will almost always be happy to give you a "Yeah that looks good" thumbs up so you don't have the uncertainty. Not to detract at all from Eyebrows' post, just want to support the idea that it's okay for anyone to make these sorts of posts.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 8:52 AM on April 16 [11 favorites]


Can we stop with the comparisons between the fire at Notre Dame and instances of tragic loss of human life? It is apples to oranges. Notre Dame has enormous symbolic and cultural weight to millions of people, and this fire is more comparable to something like fire threatening the US Constitution or the Declaration of Independence than to the lethal events getting catalogued above.
posted by rue72 at 8:57 AM on April 16 [8 favorites]


I'm pointing out the way the site handles breaking news posts, not trying to convince people that humans matter. I know better.
posted by palomar at 9:07 AM on April 16 [2 favorites]


Excellent, excellent comment here by Nelson. If we have to blame anyone, it should be the 24-hour news cycle.
posted by Melismata at 9:08 AM on April 16 [10 favorites]


Jessamyn, the mod comments on the deleted posts made it entirely clear that they were being deleted because the fire was 'breaking news and Metafilter doesn’t do breaking news'. Post quality was never a factor or if it was a factor the posters were not informed that post quality would make a difference if they were to try again. Here are the reasons given for the deletions:
Post 180441 by New Frontier deleted for the following reason: Yeah, still waiting on a more solid situation, sorry -- restless_nomad

Post 180439 by CrazyLemonade deleted for the following reason: Let’s wait a bit - MetaFilter is not a breaking news site. -- restless_nomad

Post 180438 by 40 Watt deleted for the following reason: This is the kind of breaking news that doesn't work well here - let's wait at least a couple hours for more information and then we can discuss it. -- restless_nomad
Nothing about post quality.

Isn’t it kind of telling that the person to finally make a post that was allowed to stay was a moderator?
posted by pharm at 9:10 AM on April 16 [24 favorites]


Honestly, I think people would prefer it if the mods just came out and said: “look, this is a breaking news story, which we don’t like having here so one of us will make a post sometime around time X (or whenever). Meantime please do put any relevant links on this page on the WIki so we can incorporate them into the post when the time comes.”

That would be far better than the weird passive-aggressiveness of just deleting posts as they come in until the membership gets the message.
posted by pharm at 9:15 AM on April 16 [15 favorites]


... it did feel then and does feel now like that delay of five hours was experienced by some users as equivalent to not having any post at all, or as a significant, extended delay. While for other users (me included, for transparency) that seems like a small delay only.

The time it was in Paris and other parts of Europe when the post went live might be a factor here?
posted by ODiV at 9:16 AM on April 16 [2 favorites]


I wanted to add that I agree with the posters who think this may have been avoided if the mods had been more proactive instead of reactive.
posted by girlmightlive at 9:19 AM on April 16


Post quality was never a factor or if it was a factor the posters were not informed that post quality would make a difference if they were to try again

I disagree with this interpretation. To elaborate, beginning with the first deletion reason:

This is the kind of breaking news that doesn't work well here - let's wait at least a couple hours for more information and then we can discuss it

About 5 hours elapsed from the first deleted post to the post that stayed. About 3.5 hours elapsed from the last deleted post to the post that stayed. The mods said they wanted to wait "at least a couple hours", and that's what they did.

The deleted posts were all single links. The post that stayed had links to coverage at Le Monde, The Guardian, CNN, the Washington Post, and several Twitter threads (I'm not counting the background material). The mods said they wanted to wait for more information, and that's what they did.

Nothing about post quality.

I think that "wait at least a couple hours for more information" and "waiting on a more solid situation" convey that at least part of the issue was a lack of stable information with which to frame the post. It's not just "let's wait." It's "let's wait until the situation has changed in a particular way."
posted by jedicus at 9:20 AM on April 16 [16 favorites]


All the deleted posts were all single-link breaking news posts. Sure a mod could have posted a deletion reason that was like "Hey this is a breaking news topic, if you want to talk about the fire, maybe make a better/meatier post about Notre Dame in general?" but honestly some of being part of MetaFilter is understanding how breaking news stuff tends to go here. Post quality was one of the things being discussed in this thread and it's come up in most breaking news MeTa threads.

Isn’t it kind of telling that the person to finally make a post that was allowed to stay was a moderator?

One of the only negatives to having the eventual post be made by Eyebrows is the optics of "A mod had to do it" or "A mod gets to do it" which I think detracts somewhat from the community feel around here and can send the wrong message about how to make a post that doesn't get deleted.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 9:21 AM on April 16 [14 favorites]


As I did yesterday after seeing the first news reports from Paris, on the afternoon of the day the Tree of Life attacked occurred, I glanced at Metafilter to see what, if any, post had been made. That there was not yet any post did not suggest to me that there would not be. And this was fine for two reasons: first, I expected the delay (as palomar is pointing out, this is normal, rather than abnormal) as well as the eventually appearance of a post, and second, the communities I am involved with in my non-online life allowed me to anticipate being a part of vigils that same night, and for several nights afterwards. While I appreciate the Metafilter policy for what it does (not merely what it tries to do), there is also a value to an immediate community response and, for many of us, this is the community with whom we would prefer to experience it.

For tragedies which are still breaking news, in order to provide a place for members who are affected in whatever way by the events, could there be--either hosted directly on Mefi or linked here in a prominent way but technically separate and hosted on Discord or another alternate platform--a vigil-styled chat thread in which people are allowed to share their responses, while at the same time fightiness and speculation are moderated to a minimum? Perhaps even by members of a pool of (volunteer?) temp moderators with extremely limited powers, batsignaled in for the purpose? If it were a part of the actual site, using the room might be enabled only as needed, as a result of a flag-like option on the page (if enough users flagged it, a moderator could open it). Otherwise, some other notification system would have to be worked out; the idea would not be to have the room running constantly so that it takes on its own life separate from the community, as with a regular chatroom. When closed, posts could be archived.

The reason I say vigil-styled is that there is a fairly good common understanding of what is and is not appropriate behavior at a vigil, and it differs from what a normal fpp is expected (and often, though not always, able) to provide.
posted by notquitemaryann at 9:25 AM on April 16 [4 favorites]



It also seems kind of self-important on the part of the site? At the end of the day, this is just a website to post and discuss items of interest

most of this thread seems to be about people saying that the mods aren't giving enough weight to how important a thread here would have been, so this argument feels way out of left field.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 9:30 AM on April 16 [1 favorite]


jessamyn: Sure, and the deletion reason for every one was not “make a better post please”. It was “sorry, too soon, wait moar.”

I thought about putting together a post, but the message from the mods was that it would just get deleted on the spot, so what would have been the point?

By the time a post finally goes up, it’s midnight UK/France time.
posted by pharm at 9:30 AM on April 16 [2 favorites]


I really like the idea of opening a new chat room for discussion of large-scale breaking news. I believe we have even done that before?
posted by Rock Steady at 9:30 AM on April 16 [1 favorite]


I think the mod tone here had shifted a from "breaking news, too soon" to "a substantive post would be okay" by the time Eyebrows' post went up; it was a different style of post at a different time in the news cycle than the first three deleted posts.

Although the business of "was able to workshop it real fast with the rest of the mod team" does bother me a bit. That's an avenue that's not as readily available (*) to non-mods and it sends an unfortunate gatekeepey message: there was a not-particularly-well-defined quality bar here that was easier for an insider to clear.

(* but note that the contact form is pretty much an immediate conduit to mods-on-duty for this kind of thing.)
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 9:33 AM on April 16 [8 favorites]


I, too, am pretty uncomfortable with the anger and indignance on display in this thread.

Ultimately, we're talking about a moderation decision on a message board. You may not agree with the decision, or with the reasons behind it - but those reasons have been pretty clearly explained, and are in line with the site's long-standing policy. All that's really happened is that a message board didn't have the thread that you wanted, when you wanted it.

So, to see people uncharitably accusing the mods (and others) of weird ulterior motives, and acting like they've been personally betrayed or something...dude. Perspective, please.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 9:34 AM on April 16 [40 favorites]


Oh, and chat's fine for those that like it but it's in no way a substitute or replacement for a good FPP.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 9:35 AM on April 16 [6 favorites]


I’m not angry. I’m just disappointed.
posted by pharm at 9:35 AM on April 16


Um, has no one read Eyebrows' comment above about how she made the FPP because she felt qualified to do so because, among other things, she has a masters' degree in theology and personally knows three stonemasons who specialize in church restorations?
posted by Melismata at 9:38 AM on April 16 [15 favorites]


deletion reason: let's wait at least a couple hours

as jedicus says, that's pretty much the operative part. Just waiting a bit until there are more facts known, until things firm up a little. How long is hard to say -- it's inescapably unpredictable exactly how long, it depends on how the situation evolves and how reporting develops and on how heated the discussion is likely to be. I do get why people aren't happy with that kind of unpredictability.

In this case, once some more time had passed and facts were firming up, r_n had said in here, if you want to make a post but are apprehensive that it might get deleted, you can send us a draft. Nobody did that, which is understandable and fine and nobody is required to do it. But people wanted there to be a post, and there was by that time no barrier to a post staying up. Normally a mod wouldn't make a post in these circumstances. We were discussing in mod slack "what would a post need?" so that we could make a comment in here saying "here's the kind of info a post should have if anyone wants to post" and EM was surveying links.... and by that point, it seemed best to just have her as a domain-knowledgable person go for it and get a post up there rather than keep waiting, or seem to be playing games.

I was in favor of having her do it as an expedient solution in this case. But the fact that it's bothering people in this way reinforces the tradition of not having mods do it even though people often ask for exactly that.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 9:38 AM on April 16 [5 favorites]


RN said, "if someone wants to put together a more substantive post but isn't sure about whether we'll give it the go-ahead, just send it via the contact form and we'll take a look. It sounds like we've got at least some news now, but someone who speaks French would be a much better judge."

We didn't hear from anybody, people here were getting more and more heated, and while we were waiting, EM had a lot of people knowledgeable about Notre Dame among her contacts who were sharing info, which she was also sharing with us. It began to seem silly to us (the other mods who were on slack) for her not to go ahead a make a post (which seemed like what people really, really wanted, and which would have been abandoned if anything came in while she was working on it). Three other mods asked her to put it together, in case nothing came in, to be 100% clear. If you are angry about that, please direct that at us, not EM.
posted by taz (staff) at 9:38 AM on April 16 [12 favorites]


Ha! We don't always discuss in mod slack before posting, obviously.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 9:39 AM on April 16 [6 favorites]


Um, has no one read Eyebrows' comment above about how she made the FPP because she felt qualified to do so because, among other things, she has a masters' degree in theology and personally knows three stonemasons who specialize in church restorations?

Is being qualified to make a post a thing now?
posted by lalex at 9:40 AM on April 16 [23 favorites]


I guess I would have liked to see this post stay up because I think metafilter does breaking news better than the rest of the internet and to me there's historical/sociological value in the record. If the load is too heavy for the mods, that of course takes priority, but if it's not, I'd like to see this kind of thread stay up, although maybe they belong on the grey.

Similarly, for me there was a lot of value in the Fukushima thread and the thread from day of the Utoya attack, as terrible and difficult as those threads were to read. The meaning and gravity of those two terrible events unfolded and has stayed with me very intensely since, and I think those threads are a valuable record.

Again, this all depends on mod capacity, but if there's capacity I think it's worth doing.
posted by Frowner at 9:48 AM on April 16 [7 favorites]


Is being qualified to make a post a thing now?

Is willfully misconstruing every goddamn thing a thing now?

It is abundantly clear that the statement was not made to claim that nobody else was qualified, but to refute the insinuations made in this very thread that that somehow Eyebrows being a mod is the only reason it was allowed to stay. Eyebrows is a member of the community, like everyone else. She also happens to have feelings about and knowledge of this topic. Anyone could have made the post now that there was more detail beyond the initial headlines, but nobody was doing so, and so she did it as an interested community member, not from some position of authority as a mod.

It's also abundantly clear that literally nothing the mods could say or do at this point is going to please people in this thread. Inaction is awful, but also every specific action is awful and probably proof of some conspiracy. Nothing good can come of it remaining open.
posted by tocts at 9:49 AM on April 16 [47 favorites]


Could the mods not characterize good faith comments as "looking for a fight"? It's bad enough to keep the conversation at a place of faux-consensus via deletion but it's another thing to assign a bad faith motivation to genuine responses.

Anyway, I will have to go elsewhere to find a community space that can accommodate the utter frustration and alienation I feel at the response to this (financial, emotional, and otherwise) compared to the response to a number of other tragedies. I am not, I guess, truly a part of this community unless I have a handy anecdote about seeing Paris, though. No knock on those people, but it's not the only genuine way to experience this event.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 9:52 AM on April 16 [18 favorites]


We didn't hear from anybody, people here were getting more and more heated,

Did it not occur to you that the reason nobody was posting was because a) the previous three attempts had been deleted with a 'please go away' note & there was an active metatalk thread which contains (as far as I can see) precisely zero requests for a better post until it’s announced that Eyebrows is making one.

tocts:o refute the insinuations made in this very thread that that somehow Eyebrows being a mod is the only reason it was allowed to stay.

Oh come on. Given the above, the reason Eyebrows got to make the post was because they were in the mod slack. Sure, they are well-qualified to do so for other reasons, but everyone else had been told in no uncertain terms that they were unwanted.
posted by pharm at 9:53 AM on April 16 [11 favorites]


To be clear, I don’t think that Eyebrows was bad for making the post, or that it was a bad post - it was neither of these things! But it underlines the separation between the mods and members & I think that’s partly why it has rubbed some people the wrong way.
posted by pharm at 9:54 AM on April 16 [13 favorites]


most of this thread seems to be about people saying that the mods aren't giving enough weight to how important a thread here would have been, so this argument feels way out of left field.

I think allowing one of the earlier FPPs to stand would have been a good idea, because after they were deleted, this thread became a (frustrating, alienating, contentious) proxy for them.

Also, your mileage my vary, but when it has gotten to the point that we're talking about workshopping and creating collaborative Metas/Wikis and sending in draft FPPs for revisions, and when ultimately the only person whose FPP stands is someone whose actual career is moderating Metafilter and who STILL had to workshop her FPP with the other mods before posting...that just seems so counterproductive to me.

I get that people want highly curated content sometimes, but at the end of the day, we're just posting things of interest to a web board and discussing them, we're not writing miniature dissertations to send off to the Library of Congress.
posted by rue72 at 9:56 AM on April 16 [15 favorites]


It is abundantly clear that the statement was not made to claim that nobody else was qualified, but to refute the insinuations made in this very thread that that somehow Eyebrows being a mod is the only reason it was allowed to stay.

Fair enough! I view this entire kerfuffle as yet another symptom of many symptoms of the ongoing move from being a messy, but vibrant, community blog space where some members happen to be mods to a much more top-down management style cultivated around whatever's going on with the people in charge.

It feels like the site is contracting but I honestly don't know, maybe I've been around for too long.
posted by lalex at 9:57 AM on April 16 [21 favorites]


I am not, I guess, truly a part of this community unless I have a handy anecdote about seeing Paris
Nope, no bad faith there ...how could anyone think such a thing?
posted by neroli at 9:58 AM on April 16 [7 favorites]


which contains (as far as I can see) precisely zero requests for a better post

I take it back, there was one request@ 10.40 pm a good two hours after the metatalk started. Shortly afterwards it is annouced that Eyebrows is doing a post. I think my point still stands.
posted by pharm at 10:03 AM on April 16


Did it not occur to you that the reason nobody was posting was because a) the previous three attempts had been deleted with a 'please go away' note & there was an active metatalk thread which contains (as far as I can see) precisely zero requests for a better post until it’s announced that Eyebrows is making one.

This is not how I read the deletion notes or comments in this thread at all. It seemed pretty clear the deletion reasons were “this event just began and is ongoing, we need to wait a few beats.” Drawing on my past experience with Metafilter, and not attributing bad faith motives to the mods, I understood that to mean “we want to wait for a post about this event once it’s clearer what’s happening and someone can put some context into a post.” If I was interested in making a post about it I would have dropped a note to the mods to clarify timing and maybe a run a draft past them, which is what I’ve seen happen here for similar breaking news events. I am surprised at how much surprise there has been.

The point about the time difference in France turning a few hours’ delay into an overnight one is a very good one. I’m curious whether anyone here was directly affected by that?
posted by sallybrown at 10:03 AM on April 16 [10 favorites]


Having been here a fair while myself, it sometimes seems like any MeTa about mod actions or inactions is immediately filled with approximately equally sized groups shouting at one another about how the other side is dead wrong and in bad faith and their ideas are killing Metafilter.

That's not to say that the site hasn't changed over time or that there aren't other changes that would be helpful. Just that, if I were a mod, I don't know how you could get any idea of what consensus would look like.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:05 AM on April 16 [7 favorites]


how hard can it be to find the perfect balance between letting us do what we want and protecting us from our worse impulses, anyway? hop on the slack channel and hammer it out already, sheesh!
posted by prize bull octorok at 10:08 AM on April 16 [16 favorites]


I am not, I guess, truly a part of this community unless I have a handy anecdote about seeing Paris
Nope, no bad faith there ...how could anyone think such a thing?


This is not "bad faith." It's clear the poster is saying what they mean, they're just saying it in an argumentative way.

ifdssn9's comment is complaining about their perception that there's only one approved way of relating to the disaster -- the one that casts it as a personal tragedy based on one's connection (however tenuous) to the cathedral.

Read the comment, it's a very direct and literal expression of an opinion. You might not like the tone or the opinion, but that doesn't make it "bad faith."
posted by grobstein at 10:09 AM on April 16 [12 favorites]


Nope, no bad faith there ...how could anyone think such a thing?

What about that seems bad faith to you? That is the common mode of discourse in that thread. I don't think it's terrible that it's how many people react; it makes sense. I also react and it is frustrating that my reaction is treated as ungenuine, in bad faith, or looking to start a fight because it is not part of that dominant mode. There is only space there (and here) for certain orientations to this event.

My comment was snarky, yes. Bad faith is more than snarky, though; it's an accusation that I'm lying or concealing my motives, and I don't appreciate it.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 10:09 AM on April 16 [13 favorites]


Taz' comment swayed my opinion.

I recall all too well the part MeFi played in suggesting that an entirely innocent person (who was later found dead of totally unrelated causes) was the Boston marathon bomber. Everyone pumped on adrenaline and too many crime shows trying to feel part of an event. If MeFi has any distinguishing characteristic, it is that we do do better, and we can do better, and we take a more substantive exploration of news events than other sites. So if a 6-hour delay helps us to do that, so much the better.

This is no longer the world in which 9/11 happened. We didn't have Facebook or Twitter during 9/11 and not everyone even used email. Certainly not text. There are many more avenues to "comfort" and "community" for people online today than there were then.

I'm skeptical that MeFi should be considered among those avenues. I have looked askance at the idea of MeFi-as-community that's emerged onsite over about the past 5 years or so. It's clear that, for one thing, "community" means very different things to different people. For some, emotional connections are primary, and people come here to feel they're among friends or be welcomed as an individual. Others come for primarily intellectual or informational reasons. Both have a "community" here, but value different things about that community.

Though MeFi has been an amazing place to commiserate and share experience, it has almost always happened best when it happens in the context of information or ideas. The emotional labor thread, for example, had like 1000 personal stories, but not because it was "let's all share our own personal story," but because it was a response to an article about a scholarly construct.

Similarly, a great Notre Dame thread will not be "let's all talk about how special Notre Dame was" but will allow people to explore the meanings of this loss to world heritage in all its dimensions.

It's much likelier that we'll do that better after the facts of the situation are more clear.

Can we stop with the comparisons between the fire at Notre Dame and instances of tragic loss of human life? It is apples to oranges.

As a public historian, I think constantly about how basic and important physical sites and a sense of place, orientation to place, belonging to place are to human identity. It's not a shallow matter and it's dismissive to talk about a space like this as "just" a building. This is a monumental loss, and it's a loss to human psyches. There's no need to judge it in comparison with loss of life or condemn someone who recognizes this as a loss. It's a trauma, no doubt about it. Having feelings about it, and connecting those feelings to similar feelings of grief and loss that came up during different events in one's life, is not insane, not callous, and not deserving of demeaning comments. Let's not put the hierarchy of suffering into place here. People feel things, and that is entirely normal, human, and natural. That doesn't mean they don't also have serious feelings of grief for tragedies that impact human bodies and lifetimes as well as their identities and senses of home, place, and culture, which are less material but no less significant components of well-being than physical health is.
posted by Miko at 10:12 AM on April 16 [41 favorites]


ifdssn9, to be clear it's not having the "they shouldn't rebuild it" reaction that's a problem. That's fine. It's time and place -- dropping it in that thread at that time, when people who are upset about the fire are still coming to grips with it, that I meant to characterize that way. It's just that putting it there then will predictably piss people off and lead to a fight. Maybe better to have said "will predictably lead to a fight" than the more colloquial "looking for".

Threads on big surprising negative news stories like this aren't a great place to bring reactions like that. There's a lot of emotional potential energy in those threads, just ready and waiting for something to spark a huge nasty fight.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 10:17 AM on April 16 [2 favorites]


There was a ton of misinformation circulating online yesterday, and not all of it was the toxic Glenn Beck comments. For example, a couple of smart people I follow on Twitter were talking about the "oaks planted at Versailles 200 years ago, waiting for just this moment". It was then pointed out that the trees in the photo of Versailles circulating around were not oaks. And then the entire meme was debunked.

I just think that live-posting on MetaFilter (or elsewhere) during a catastrophic event is bound to result in misinformation being amplified. This can be a serious problem when you consider MetaFilter's reputation for credibility.
posted by JamesBay at 10:19 AM on April 16 [8 favorites]


It's just that putting it there then will predictably piss people off and lead to a fight. Maybe better to have said "will predictably lead to a fight" than the more colloquial "looking for".

Thanks for explaining. I generally agree, but at the same time, it's incredibly frustrating to see people repeatedly characterize the reaction of "the whole world" or even just of the "community" here in a way that I don't agree with. Notre Dame is a powerful symbol, and all powerful symbols have different meanings to different people --- the abuses perpetrated by the Catholic church as well as France's history as a colonial power are not minor parts of Notre Dame.

Nevertheless, I understand that it's a balance and that there are considerations that weigh in favor of a narrower range of expressed opinion.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 10:26 AM on April 16 [11 favorites]


Not that Metatalk is a voting booth or anything, but I often don't speak up in similar situations and then I feel like the angry comments (even when a lot of them are a cascade from just one or two people) somehow end up carrying more weight. So: I agree completely with the delay in having a post.
posted by theatro at 10:35 AM on April 16 [4 favorites]


I don't know if what I'm about to say will be of any help.

If you were to dig deep into my comment history here, you'd see moments when I would occasionally go to war in comments in big bitter feuds. I was a problem.

I think people who are smart -- or who live a life of the mind -- like to think of ourselves as intellects that are piloted around in big flesh vehicles and that occasionally have intrusions by emotions.

More and more, I've learned that that's so much a fallacy as to be laughed at. Our logical arguments are in reality constructed after our subconscious emotions make up our mind. And our bodies affect both our brains and our emotions in a hundred million different ways.

We're more a complicated drip-drop bubble-foam one-piece-affects-the-other-affects-this chemical factory.

I think that on a large scale this is an awfully stressful time to live in the world.

I think the Internet has made our individual monkeyspheres seem all the more close, more than our monkey hindbrains can adjust to, and while everything in the world seeming all. that. closer is good in some ways, that's also bad.

I don't really have a closing thesis, except just to remember that everything's going to be okay.

The windows were saved, the Bishop said, crying. The mods are different people than they were but they're good people, and, also, they're people. Depending on your point of view they're either going to make mistakes or make decisions different than you would or express things or lead things different than you would or than you're used to, and that's going to be okay.

Life is all about change and we can't stop that.

Everyone, get some chocolate, hug your pet.

Also, above comment not meant to come across as if I've got it all down like some sort of Buddha. God knows I still go crazy with myself a lot.
posted by WCityMike at 10:36 AM on April 16 [10 favorites]


This makes me curious if similar posts were created/deleted when fire destroyed almost all of Brazil's national museum in September? On the face, it looks like there was very little objection to not having an immediate breaking post for that?
posted by nakedmolerats at 10:46 AM on April 16 [6 favorites]


Thinking longer term: I'd even like us to be hesitant about "can Mefites please check in" posts. I don't know how to determine what disasters would qualify for them, but clearly not every disaster will get one, and sometimes an "is everyone OK?" post can do more to add to anxiety than to relieve it. I think. I could be talked out of this position.
posted by The corpse in the library at 10:55 AM on April 16 [4 favorites]


I guess I should specify, I didn't mean for my comment above to sound fighty about which tragedy is more important or historic - just that the mods genuinely may not know, in real time, which tragedies "should" have breaking threads and which ones people are OK with a delay.
posted by nakedmolerats at 10:58 AM on April 16 [1 favorite]


I don't believe there were deleted ones on that, but the post went up somewhat later relative to the start of the fire.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 11:19 AM on April 16


I think any post that would be just as good without a link should be nuked, always, and all the posts deleted were in that category.

I am curious - let's say someone deeply invested in the Notre Dame had put together an equivalent to Eyebrows post and posted it before any of the deleted ones. Would that have stayed up?
posted by the agents of KAOS at 11:19 AM on April 16 [3 favorites]


I agree with the deletions.
posted by terrapin at 11:20 AM on April 16 [2 favorites]


I guess another way of asking that is, are there any examples of someone attempting to make a substantive post about a breaking news event that were deleted for "too soon"?
posted by the agents of KAOS at 11:21 AM on April 16


... it would be aggregated and presented clearly and thoughtfully on MetaFilter

If you want clear and thoughtful discussion of a breaking news story then the mods did you a favor. The people who post to threads quickly set the tone of the thread. The fire was still on going, so there was nothing to be discussed other than "isn't this sad"; "OMG the art"; "I wonder what will happen?"; etc.

Those things can be discussed on Chat until someone makes a clear and thoughtful post based on known facts.
posted by terrapin at 11:24 AM on April 16 [5 favorites]


MetaFilter: we do do better
posted by Arson Lupine at 11:28 AM on April 16 [8 favorites]

> "Those things can be discussed on Chat until …"
Except, as has been repeatedly pointed out by multiple people in this thread, chat is not MetaFilter - it's a different thing, with a different set of norms, a different set of expectations, a different clientel, a different mode of operation, and - for people not experienced with chat-type systems - it can/does appear unwelcoming and 'clique'-y.

Hell, I've been on the internet since before the WWW, when Archie and Veronica roamed the earth on Gophers, and I find chat systems unwelcoming and clique-y…
posted by Pinback at 11:34 AM on April 16 [6 favorites]


One effect of delaying posts about big news in Europe is you get a more thorough FPP that starts with 200 comments reminiscing about people’s vacations in that place—instead of getting local people’s perspective on the matter—because by the time the FPP goes live, all the locals have gone to bed.
posted by colfax at 11:38 AM on April 16 [51 favorites]


Apparently not empathetic and intelligent enough to discuss events as they happen. That could cause 'hot takes' to creep in. More seriously, the idea that the community is 'intelligent' and 'adult' while at the same time being unable to discuss breaking news provides for some real cognitive dissonance.

So - I never actually said or agreed that the deletions were a good thing. I actually disagree with the deletions - I think this community is mature and intelligent enough - with the assistance of active moderation anyways - to handle breaking news stories.
posted by jkaczor at 11:49 AM on April 16


If you want clear and thoughtful discussion of a breaking news story then the mods did you a favor. The people who post to threads quickly set the tone of the thread. The fire was still on going, so there was nothing to be discussed other than "isn't this sad"; "OMG the art"; "I wonder what will happen?"; etc.


There are a lot of comments from your fellow MeFites right here in this thread that explain what the value of the thread would be to people that aren't you, which makes this reductive characterization of the hypothetical thread's utility and patronizing "did you a favor" thing a really shitty way to engage with this discussion.
posted by lazaruslong at 12:18 PM on April 16 [9 favorites]


Our first concern is to, as much as possible, avoid disinformation, wrong information, fake info put out to incite fear and anger, hoaxes and similar, as well as as knee jerk politicizing, conspiracy theorizing, and angsty lashing out that fills in space while information is not yet incoming.

Moderators cannot control bad info or somehow verify every bit of reporting, yet we will be held responsible if it occurs. We will also be held responsible if we delete something that's unverified, but later turns out to be true. We will also be held responsible if the thread devolves into angry blowups. In all cases, we will incur a lot of anger in highly emotional breaking news situations.

So it's a bit of a rock and a hard place: people want to be able to weigh in immediately, but also want the thread to be free of misinformation and false narrative (among other things). They want the discussion to be thoughtful and measured, but often don't want to wait for a thoughtful and measured post based on reliable info to set up the greatest chance of success for that, and moderators will be held responsible if the discussion turns into a lot of bickering and attacks on each other. There isn't a magical way to reconcile these needs, so we try to monitor and hold back the rush a bit until it seems like there is actual verified news that can be discussed, try to opt for the best post that comes up, and then just try to keep things on track as much as possible.
posted by taz (staff) at 1:01 PM on April 16 [29 favorites]


We had a pretty good breaking news thread on 9/11 back in the day.

How about we let the community decide what it does well and what it doesn't?
posted by killdevil at 1:24 PM on April 16 [1 favorite]


You may have noticed from this very thread that the community does not agree on what it does well and doesn't.
posted by Chrysostom at 1:37 PM on April 16 [32 favorites]


We had a pretty good breaking news thread on 9/11 back in the day.

It may shock you to learn that in the intervening 18 years, MeFi has changed considerably in volume and community expectations.
posted by tocts at 1:40 PM on April 16 [31 favorites]


But 9/11/01 was seventeen and a half years ago. The one 9-11 breaking news thread I'm looking at only had 491 comments in a month. The current political megathread is up to 1100 comments in 13 days. And the not-yet-1-day-old Notre Dame fire post is already up to 199 comments.

Our community and the internet news landscape as a whole has changed a lot since then. Things that worked then might not work now.
posted by kimberussell at 1:41 PM on April 16 [10 favorites]


[Couple comments deleted. No worries, but shapes, probably better to skip it for now. I'm emailing you.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 2:00 PM on April 16


why can't we handle events like this the way we handle disasters like hurricanes? a post on metatalk for check-in and comfort, and (a later) post on metafilter to discuss facts and issues?
posted by biggreenplant at 2:04 PM on April 16 [4 favorites]


why can't we handle events like this the way we handle disasters like hurricanes? a post on metatalk for check-in and comfort, and (a later) post on metafilter to discuss facts and issues?

I suspect that causes twice as much work for the mods, ambiguity about the purpose of each thread, and cross/duplicating posting between both threads.
posted by arcolz at 2:07 PM on April 16 [1 favorite]


Metafilter is my home on the internet, for sure, but it's not where I go to keep track of news, or commiserate about all things. It will never be a good place to get a broad perspective on world news events. It's a great place to get a specific perspective on a specific subset of news, mostly related to English speaking North America and Europe, and occasionally beyond that. By nature, it can't provide more than what it is, and not everything that we deem important is something that metafilter needs to explore or discuss immediately.
posted by ChuraChura at 2:31 PM on April 16 [16 favorites]


It feels like the site is contracting but I honestly don't know, maybe I've been around for too long.

I would agree with this. I don't have the data to back this up, but it seems like Metafilter is so much older and more niche-y now. I'd guess the average age of site users is at least a decade beyond where it was in 2004. Back then this was a general interest site where people posted edgy material and occasionally had epic flameouts on the grey. Now we're like public radio or the opera -- patron-supported, anodyne, a bit stodgy and perhaps further from the mainstream than we were.

I'm not arguing for the return of gifs of pissing elephants, but there's a certain vibrant spontaneity, as well as a willingness to tolerate even offensive viewpoints for the sake of discussion, that I used to appreciate here and that I miss now.
posted by killdevil at 3:03 PM on April 16 [19 favorites]


Chiming in because yeah, I absolutely agree with the delay on a Notre Dame post, and on any OMG Breaking News post. I think implying that the posts were deleted in bad faith, or so that a mod could make a post instead, is more than a little silly. There are excellent reasons to hold off on a FPP about a breaking news story, all of which have been discussed here.
posted by sarcasticah at 3:07 PM on April 16 [8 favorites]


Having been here a fair while myself, it sometimes seems like any MeTa about mod actions or inactions is immediately filled with approximately equally sized groups shouting at one another about how the other side is dead wrong and in bad faith and their ideas are killing Metafilter.

The anthropologist Gregory Bateson coined the delicious term “complementary schismogenesis” to name this universal tendency in human social groups to continually subdivide against each other. What keeps it from being a war of all against all is the containment of such division in ritual forms of conflict, which I suppose the iterative, if not massively redundant, cycling of the same old red vs. blue dynamics on Metatalk, the thunderdome of our community, might just be.

I’ve been on a fairly long enforced limit on my engagement here, not out of hostility to anything, but having burned out a bit on politics megathreads. Lately I’ve also been on an enforced diet of my other social media habits and found myself circling back here more and remembering things I really missed about the site.

Interestingly I too came here yesterday afternoon sort of expecting a high level discussion of the breaking news from Paris. Seeing nothing I checked metatalk, saw this thread, and found myself drawn in but also a bit shocked at the level of snippiness and hardness of the conversation, so contrary to the tone of most online live discussions I’d been seeing on other social media, much of it humane and mournful and mutually supportive (I’m an academic, I have more than a dozen medievalist social media friends, and a whole network in France, so it was a pretty refined collective scream).

I wasn’t at all disappointed not to find the Mefi thread posted yet. Just a bit surprised, possibly even pleasantly so. I wasn’t yearning for a supportive group as much as a curated filtering of the news itself, and smart takes from people here who I know to have relevant knowledge. Not saying anyone who comes here for the moral support of company in rough moments is wrong to appreciate the community’s occasional ability to rise to that task.

I was ok with “yeah, I’ll check back later, Mefi isn’t going anywhere and it’s a good place for the post-breaking news phase of a big news story one cares about.”

The world is a fucking depressing, distressing, angry, divided, hateful, unkind mess these days. My view, rooted in my own experience as exacerbated by social media, including this site, as different and special as it is, is that we must model solidarity and kindness and the avoidance of petty conflict as the first principle of resistance.

It’s hard. I am pissed off and worried too, a lot of the time. When I saw Notre Dame burning I felt bewildered and angry almost at the absence of any historical narrative in which that stupid seemingly accidental tragedy made any sense. Like, don’t we have enough problems already? A construction accident takes out a monument of human creativity? What the actual fuck?

Those Parisians linking arms and singing had the right response. Let this seemingly senseless tragedy be rendered meaningful. Let’s not fight about it.
posted by spitbull at 3:16 PM on April 16 [74 favorites]


Well said, spitbull.
posted by General Malaise at 3:21 PM on April 16 [3 favorites]


I'm way late to the party here and I am still nowhere close to getting through this thread, but holy shit is it pissing me off. If you want to talk about being insensitive, I bet I have a far, far more uncharitable thing to say about this event than anything that's been said so far (something that I am going to force myself to read the entire thread before writing, and hopefully dissuade myself from writing it) so for now, how about this (which I hope has, if anything, already been addressed more plainly above--I kinda can't believe it hasn't been as far as I've gotten into the thread, except once in the most passing way that was ignored--but I gotta let off some steam here somehow, fucking hell):

Did any of the mods answer honestly in that MeTa about what MeFites make we had the other week? I never got around to reading all of it. Folks complaining about these deletions should think hard about why I might bring this up here of all places and then check out the funding link below.

I'm sorry if that comes off contemptuous or dismissive, but some of the things people have said so far about the mods, who themselves might have been grieving about this event, are just so completely out of line. If I quote anything and respond directly I'm gonna get this comment deleted.

I get so bad about multiclause sentences when I'm angry. Fuck.
posted by Caduceus at 3:26 PM on April 16 [6 favorites]


Caduceus, if I understand you correctly*, you are saying: a. the mods are probably not paid enough to put up with the very personal vitriol on display in this thread, and, b. give them a freakin break on this. If that is the case, then I very liberally agree.

* I, as much as anyone, can relate to being far too multiclause-y when angry.
posted by General Malaise at 3:40 PM on April 16 [11 favorites]


The deleted posts are basically single links to news. The mod's post is a good example of varying sources and types of information, which helps to inform the subsequent discussion.
I'm open to allowing some news based posts, so I see the problem as a practical one in terms of the moderation work that news discussions require. Like, the NYTimes has thousands of comments in their Notre Dame coverage, and that's valuable, but that's also a different system and set of resources that go into making that feasible. I don't see how major news posts could be practically sustained on MetaFilter because they do seem harder to moderate, like any other controversial or emotionally difficult topic. It sounds like a thing that a company would have to develop over time as a capacity (which is what NYTimes did, I imagine).
posted by polymodus at 4:00 PM on April 16 [2 favorites]


I just woke up in Hong Kong to read the (very good) post and this MeTa. I have to say, I'm a little bit surprised at the aggression to the mods and the mod responses. You might not agree with their position, but they were clear and consistent on the matter (they wanted to wait a few hours until more information was available) and it isn't out of line with site policy in the past. Unless there were interactions I missed, I don't get the hostility.

Personally, I deliberately did not read any of the Notre Dame news yesterday because I knew that while the fire was still burning, there wouldn't be any real information about what had happened or the extent of the damage. I checked enough to make sure there was no real loss of life and checked out of it online and went and looked at my many many personal pictures and memories of the cathedral.

Part of why I appreciate MeFi as much as I do is that when posts about current events go up, there is sufficient space and information to have a good informed discussion/guessing balance. So I have no objection to the policy. What I find a bit too bad was that for Europeans in Europe the post finally went up after most of them were asleep, and it might have been better to consider their time zones a bit when considering how long the few hours would last.

I've been thinking if it would be possible in these cases to post on MeTa something like: "Hugs! In light of what's happening in Paris, we're waiting for more information before we let an FPP go through. If you have a draft you'd like to propose, send it to us here. In the meantime, this is a site to commiserate and talk about your memories of Notre Dame and maybe offer each other a kind hug." I mean, that could work, or it could turn into a bun fight just like this one. Don't know.
posted by frumiousb at 4:44 PM on April 16 [17 favorites]


Theora55 and I just had a mini meet-up recently. I think the desire to have a place to connect after a tragedy is a good one, and in a place where you've been a member of the community for years and years, is instinctual. I feel the disappointment myself.

Yes, I saw people posting about it on Facebook and Twitter, and yes, I can read the news, but is this a blog or is it a community blog, with the focus on community? I don't come here to read the links, I come here to connect and read comments from members of a community that I've been reading for a very long time, even tho' I only joined a while back.

If I wanted an e-reader, I could set it up myself, with topics that I'd read, ala Google News, and never look at any comments.

This is a community, and I feel like exceptions should be made for things like this, like 9/11, like the Boston Marathon, and I hope the mods go forward with allowing exceptions to be made where it may be breaking news, but we do need a post where we, as a community, who all contribute, can come together and discuss and mourn and join together and feel each other. It's like that thing: when you go to a meet-up, you know the other MeFi members there, and we want to talk to each other under these extreme circumstances, and connect with each other. Putting up a road block of "it's too soon" or "breaking news" should be judged along with an emotional component. I'm not sure how to do that, but in this case, I wish it would have been allowed sooner, instead of having to have this MeTa in the first place.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 4:58 PM on April 16 [9 favorites]


but is this a blog or is it a community blog, with the focus on community?

I personally think it’s a blog with the focus on post+discussion, with the community being a nice (for some), wholly optional, side benefit. We really don’t all see it the same way, which means it isn’t necessarily heartless and unfair not to prioritize “commiserating,” just a mismatch of expectations at worst.
posted by Miko at 5:18 PM on April 16 [13 favorites]


why can't we handle events like this the way we handle disasters like hurricanes? a post on metatalk for check-in and comfort, and (a later) post on metafilter to discuss facts and issues?

Worth noting that in effect, this is exactly what happened. Only with more drama.
posted by T.D. Strange at 5:23 PM on April 16 [8 favorites]


I'm on record as feeling that the existance of check-in threads owe more to a need for performative concern than anything else - but if you think this Meta became a de facto check-in/comfort thread, then I suggest going back and re-reading from the start.

People tried to make it one, certainly, but thankfully it didn't stick. Trying to pretend it is/was is unpleasantly dismissive of all the valid complaints and concerns raised, and the people who raised them.
posted by Pinback at 5:31 PM on April 16 [3 favorites]


Couple of observations:

1) Many (not all) of the early/more vocal "we need a Notre Dame post!" commenters in here haven't commented in the existing Notre Dame post.

2) A single link post with little context or effort would not normally survive. The fact that is breaking news does not and should not generally excuse it.

3) The people implying a post only stayed up because a mod made it must be, at best, new and unfamiliar with the site to have made such an implied accusation. The mods make no secret of what a good post looks like in general. The ones that got deleted did not meet good post criteria. The one that stayed up did. The fact that a mod made it might have contributed to it getting posted faster, but not it staying up. Anyone who was invested in making a good post could have done so, and could have checked in with the mods. Apparently no one decided to do that.

4) I've made semi-breaking news threads in the case of two hurricanes - one before the storm, one after. There's better ways to do breaking news posts than a single link post.
posted by booksherpa at 5:58 PM on April 16 [21 favorites]


A delay of up to 24 hours or so, for negative breaking-news events, is extremely reasonable for both mod-logistical and discussion quality reasons. Such a delay intrudes minimally on the community's desire to discuss and emotionally process the event, gives the moderators time to queue up resources for a big thread, and respects MetaFilter's moral imperative to reduce harm in the aftermath by limiting the spread of false information.
posted by anifinder at 6:02 PM on April 16 [2 favorites]


Two posts on 9/11. One was deleted.
posted by clavdivs at 6:04 PM on April 16 [1 favorite]


I personally think it’s a blog with the focus on post+discussion, with the community being a nice (for some), wholly optional, side benefit. We really don’t all see it the same way, which means it isn’t necessarily heartless and unfair not to prioritize “commiserating,” just a mismatch of expectations at worst.

Just the fact that you are commenting here is evidence that it's community. If it was just a post-only site, you could not comment, and we could not have this discussion.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 6:40 PM on April 16 [2 favorites]


yet we will be held responsible if it occurs.

First paragraph, super-fave, but this is where you lost me. You do those things because it's the right thing to do, not because you're afraid someone will be mad at you.

I do get your point, you can't win as a mod; someone's going to be upset no matter what. All the more reason to have principles and stick to them regardless.
posted by ctmf at 6:48 PM on April 16 [1 favorite]


Just the fact that you are commenting here is evidence that it's community. If it was just a post-only site, you could not comment, and we could not have this discussion.


Discussion does not equal community and was explicitly set up as an alternative in the comment you replied to.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 7:03 PM on April 16 [5 favorites]


All the more reason to have principles and stick to them regardless.

This (rather insultingly) implies that the mods currently don't have principles. Did you intend that?
posted by Lexica at 7:09 PM on April 16


Not at all, sorry. I meant to say the "we will be held responsible" framing rubs me wrong. If the delay was the right thing to do for the good reasons stated, then it was. There's not really a big "what decision will be the least controversial" factor in that case; one would do the right thing even if it pissed lots of people off. I don't think taz would disagree with that, although I don't want to put words in anyone's mouth and I'm ready to be corrected.

In summary, mostly just a phrasing nitpick, or personal "nails on a chalkboard" phrase.
posted by ctmf at 7:24 PM on April 16


I guess, that they DO have principles, and should just say THAT, not the "rock and a hard place" defense. (Although that's also true)
posted by ctmf at 7:27 PM on April 16


things like this, like 9/11, like the Boston Marathon

I think the Boston Marathon thread is a better example for comparison than 9/11 (since people keep using 9/11 as an example of acceptable "breaking news" posts) - it's far more recent, for one, so a better example of current internet usage and standards (or lack thereof) and MeFite reactions. And, frankly, looking back on it, I can certainly see why the mod team is reluctant to allow similar posts.

Explosions at Boston Marathon Finish Line.

That's a 4,437 comment thread that went live less than half an hour after the first explosion, while the scene at the Marathon was still utter chaos. While I can certainly see the value of the feelings of solidarity and even comfort that some people will derive from having a post on the blue to communicate and commiserate with our internet and IRL friends, that thread is HUGE, it was incredibly fast-moving, it's full of wild speculation about motives and perpetrators and more bombs and arguments about the definitions of terrorism and mental illness, and certainly plenty of linkage to and discussion about the Reddit/4chan "investigation."

It may have been a source of comfort for some, but it was also clearly a hot mess. If the mods feel that giving folks a handful of hours to cool down (which is definitely a form of considering the emotional component of threads here) is a way to keep a thread about a tragedy less volatile than the Boston Marathon thread, I'm OK with that.
posted by soundguy99 at 8:19 PM on April 16 [27 favorites]


This is no longer the world in which 9/11 happened. We didn't have Facebook or Twitter during 9/11 and not everyone even used email. Certainly not text. There are many more avenues to "comfort" and "community" for people online today than there were then.

Miko, I agree with everything else you have to say, but I would like to offer a tangential if not oblique counterpoint to this particular point.

I am one of a number of people here who doesn't use Facebook, Twitter or really anything other than MeFi for social media. I can barely get people to reply to emails any more.

MetaFilter is definitely my home on the internet. And in many cases I've retreated and recoiled from most of the rest of the internet and social media because it's horrible out there and I deeply appreciate the real and/or relative civility of our community and the work our mods do to keep it that way - and I used to be one of the most vocally and energetically anti-authoritarian assholes and biggest pains in the mods asses here. (And, well, I probably still am.)

Perhaps this is one part of this shrinking or aging of MeFi that people are feeling and talking about, is that there might be more than a few of us retreating to MetaFilter as a sort of last stand or internet retirement home.

Anyway, I'm not suggesting that because of this we should focus on breaking news or comfort in tragedy threads, but I just want to share and express that for a lot of us - this is it. This is all we have left of the internet we used to know.

If anything I feel like the places I want to be on the internet with people I trust is even smaller now than it was in 2001. Back then I had Trillian, ICQ, AIM, IRC and more. And email, and Usenet, and a bunch of different individual and community blogs.

Anyway, this isn't an argument. Just trying to gently share a different perspective. I don't really have a point to make beyond that I get more community, comfort and love from this community than I do my own biological family. Many of you know me better than any of my family.

And I do find myself coming here whenever there's major bad news or uncertainty to read voices and perspectives from people that I trust.

I don't know how I would have coped with a lot of things we've been through in the last 15-20 years without it.
posted by loquacious at 10:25 PM on April 16 [22 favorites]


Also, I am apologizing for conflating 9/11 with the Notre Dame fire above. It was clumsy and careless and they are totally different things. It's just a landmark and lazy reference frame.
posted by loquacious at 10:26 PM on April 16 [2 favorites]


I don’t disagree that many people find (or make) those aspects of community or subcommunity here. It is a characteristic of most shared spaces that communities can form within them. I just challenge the notion that “community” is the core purpose of the site, and think it’s important to note that the experience of MeFi as primarily a community for individual emotional connection and support is not universal, nor particularly richly supported by features or practice.
posted by Miko at 4:21 AM on April 17 [9 favorites]

I'm not arguing for the return of gifs of pissing elephants, but there's a certain vibrant spontaneity, as well as a willingness to tolerate even offensive viewpoints for the sake of discussion, that I used to appreciate here and that I miss now.
I don't think that tolerating offensive assholes with hot takes "for the sake of discussion" is going to improve anyone's experience on the site. The modern internet has a lot of awful garbage places where people can go and read awful offensive garbage should they wish. MetaFilter has excellent moderation and is a nice place to get away from that stuff.
posted by winterhill at 4:23 AM on April 17 [12 favorites]


You can say what you want about other social media, but my Facebook feed (I don’t do twitter although I read it often enough) included the commentary of more than a few medievalists and specialists in french culture and residents of Paris nearly on the scene, many actual real world friends, all people I would otherwise not be in touch with in such a moment. In terms of sheer “quality” of discussion, I was listening to someone who had actually played ND’s organ and someone whose dissertation was on French 19th century Gothic romanticism and people posting photos of their own (sometimes frequent) ND visits. No one was shouting or joking. A lot of people were shaken and looking for support from their colleagues and friends. And they were getting it.

Yeah a million other reasons why something like Facebook is a no go for a lot of Mefites. I get it. But the caricature of the “rest of the internet” as a wasteland of nastiness and pettiness doesn’t feel right either.

I’m guessing /r/breakingnews must have had dozens of threads and thousands of comments. So yeah Reddit, but do you ever actually read those comments? Smart and knowledgeable people hang out there too. Depending on the filters and networks and your ways of using social media, it was possible to curate a very supportive and extremely informed gathering to mourn ND. And because the event itself was so profoundly communicated in images and not words, and words seemed so inadequate, visual social media had a powerful role to play in shaping feelings all over the world for several hours. (One of my colleagues joined in the mourning from East Timor, just for instance, that doesn’t happen too much on Metafilter.)

I get the point you’re making loquacious, but if I were to put my finger on one thing about metafilter that is both amazing and weird, it’s that the sense of being the last utopian space on the Internet goes back many years and can be a little solipsistic and sometimes self-congratulatory. It can also be offputting to non-members (if we do want it to survive that’s worth considering). It can also intensify the stakes — I’ve been there — when we have conflict here. No one wants to just walk away from a place that means so much to so many of us and where we feel at home with our digital tribe, endless bickering and all.

I actually came here during the fire looking for more news, better filtered, and not the communal grieving experience others might have been seeking, or are now eloquently exploring on the current blue thread. I had the communal grieving experience in spades on Facebook. I’ve also been here for amazing communal grieving and supportive moments and they’ve meant a lot to me.

Which is just to say that the site is many things to many people and different things in difffent contexts to each of us sometimes.
posted by spitbull at 4:36 AM on April 17 [25 favorites]


Seeing nothing I checked metatalk, saw this thread, and found myself drawn in but also a bit shocked at the level of snippiness and hardness of the conversation,

Agreed. This thread reminds me of the immediate days after my mother died, when my brother & sisters were really angry with her for doing that, and kept saying so.
posted by JanetLand at 6:04 AM on April 17 [5 favorites]


(deleted myself -- misconstrued something, apologies, carry on)
posted by palomar at 7:47 AM on April 17


I love it how the existing thread has broken down to 'Your feelings are stupid and you are wrong to have them.'

Don't ever change, blue, don't ever change.
posted by Capt. Renault at 7:55 AM on April 17 [5 favorites]


Yeah a million other reasons why something like Facebook is a no go for a lot of Mefites. I get it. But the caricature of the “rest of the internet” as a wasteland of nastiness and pettiness doesn’t feel right either.

Yo, I'm talking about my own feelings, lived experience and perspective here. Yes, I've been using reddit for over 10 years and it's just getting worse and worse. I've been one of the few people who has defended it here. Even in some of the best subs I still feel it's lacking many of the qualities that MetaFilter has - and two of those things are clearly accountability and permanence.

Reddit is exhausting. Even in the best, kindest subs they're prone to being brigaded with toxic trolls. I have alt accounts where I'm out as trans where I regularly get death threats and some of the most vile garbage I've ever seen on the internet.

So for my personal perspective reddit can often be directly threatening and harmful.

As intense as things can get around here I never feel like I've been threatened, abused or emotionally exhausted.
posted by loquacious at 8:10 AM on April 17 [2 favorites]


Yeah well, internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 is very sad that people care about Notre Dame and is very keen to tell everyone that they’re bad and wrong for caring because /laundry list of other causes/ is more important. It’s not really a good look - people can care about multiple things & nobody is stopping them from campaigning for their /causes of choice/ elsewhere. This isn’t a zero sum game.
posted by pharm at 8:32 AM on April 17 [1 favorite]


This is a community, and I feel like exceptions should be made for things like this, like 9/11, like the Boston Marathon, and I hope the mods go forward with allowing exceptions to be made where it may be breaking news, but we do need a post where we, as a community, who all contribute, can come together and discuss and mourn and join together and feel each other.

This is, truly, a nice sentiment, but even the act of allowing exceptions is going to raise a lot more argument and churn about which events are important enough and what that says about what we're privileging. Again, there was no breaking thread about the fire that destroyed much of Brazil's cultural history, and I am not about to make grand proclamations about What That Means but if we are a site that is sensitive to our own possible biasing, introducing exceptions is going to inherently shape a narrative about which experiences and events are exception-worthy. I don't even know how to ask the mods to fairly decide that.
posted by nakedmolerats at 8:37 AM on April 17 [2 favorites]


Don't ever change, blue, don't ever change.

Well, you're on the gray, so.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:40 AM on April 17 [6 favorites]


This is, truly, a nice sentiment, but even the act of allowing exceptions is going to raise a lot more argument and churn about which events are important enough and what that says about what we're privileging.

If you want to ask about what Metafilter as whole is privileging then the answer is the politics threads which are clearly more important than anything else by that metric.
posted by pharm at 8:51 AM on April 17 [7 favorites]


Yeah well, internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 is very sad that people care about Notre Dame and is very keen to tell everyone that they’re bad and wrong for caring because /laundry list of other causes/ is more important. It’s not really a good look - people can care about multiple things & nobody is stopping them from campaigning for their /causes of choice/ elsewhere. This isn’t a zero sum game.

This is such a deeply uncharitable and frankly untruthful read of her comments, with a nasty little dash of unaware irony at the end. Just... I am truly appalled.
posted by palomar at 9:13 AM on April 17 [16 favorites]


Yeah well, internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 is very sad that people care about Notre Dame and is very keen to tell everyone that they’re bad and wrong for caring because /laundry list of other causes/ is more important. It’s not really a good look - people can care about multiple things & nobody is stopping them from campaigning for their /causes of choice/ elsewhere. This isn’t a zero sum game.

Hey, this was really hurtful. Like a lot of people here, I'm pretty bitter about the current political situation in the US, and because much of the genocidal rhetoric is pointed at people who share my ethnicity (including members of my family) it is very personal. I recognize that it is probably not something people want to hear about, and I get that, but I'd appreciate not being treated like this.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 9:15 AM on April 17 [14 favorites]



If you want to ask about what Metafilter as whole is privileging then the answer is the politics threads which are clearly more important than anything else by that metric.


Sounds like you are very upset that people on metafilter care about US politics. It's not really a good look.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 9:19 AM on April 17 [2 favorites]


Also since I can't discuss it in-thread just putting a note that I don't agree that Trump's tweet re: Notre Dame was politically or morally neutral, and I think that being bothered by it is normal and good given the context, and I don't think it's good to leave up an argument that is pro-that-tweet but then delete responses to it (not sure if that is what mods are doing though actually so if not, ignore)
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 9:27 AM on April 17 [6 favorites]


taoKAOS: ah, but I’m not wading into the politics threads telling everyone that they shouldn’t be caring quite so much am I?

ifdssn9: I’m sorry if it’s hurtful, but to me this is how your comments are coming across, both here & in the thread on the blue. I think corb’s comment on the blue summed this up best: It’s OK to not care about this particular thing (& nobody is going to shame you for not caring about it) but it’s not kind to dump on those that do care for doing so.
posted by pharm at 9:36 AM on April 17 [8 favorites]


I'm not trying to dump on people and I understand that it's how it comes across (which I regret). I appreciate your apology.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 9:41 AM on April 17 [2 favorites]


This isn’t a zero sum game.

Definitely. For instance, the NYT reported yesterday on church arsons in the southern US and pointed people to online funding campaigns where those who wanted to help financially with reconstruction could do so. As much as media coverage has focused on ND (as it should, the cathedral being a UNESCO World Heritage site), it is worthwhile to observe that there are other stories being told, as well, which the web makes space for telling.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 9:54 AM on April 17 [3 favorites]


I bounced out of reading the thread on the blue after I saw the mod note about not being the place to talk about colonialism. Seeing the reactions to some of the comments about Flint or Puerto Rico on top of that is a good reminder that the discussion is carefully centered around what many regard as the appropriate response. To have that conversation go to the politics megathread assumes it's only through the lens of the megathread culture when this issue goes well beyond 45.

I was thinking about drafting a post about how the Notre Dame fire relates to colonialism and the desecration of religious sites via colonialism, since I've seen some interesting discussions around that and I think it's important to consider, but now I realize that most people would find it a hurtful bummer reminder of history, saying "this isn't the time". So I guess I'm reading the room and the mod notes and am not going to make such a post.

internet fraud detective squad, station number 9, I hear you.
posted by kendrak at 9:58 AM on April 17 [10 favorites]


So I guess I'm reading the room and the mod notes and am not going to make such a post.
The mod note you're talking about literally says, "Those issues can have their own posts and discussion threads," so I think you're not reading very well.
posted by neroli at 10:03 AM on April 17 [7 favorites]


ifdssn9: and because much of the genocidal rhetoric is pointed at people who share my ethnicity (including members of my family) it is very personal. I recognize that it is probably not something people want to hear about...

I just wanted to add: your feelings are valid & you deserve to be heard too. I hope Metafilter at least can make space for them as well as this - there’s room for both alongside each other without one having to come at the expense of the other.

kendrak: make the post: No one is going to stop you if it’s in good faith & not just stirring the pot for the sake of it.
posted by pharm at 10:06 AM on April 17 [2 favorites]


neroli, thanks. I read the note and understood it could go in another thread but from the ire in that thread and this thread of anybody deviating from the accepted narrative, I am feeling like any conversation around that would be constructive right now. Thanks for explaining it to me though.

pharm, I might when I feel in a better headspace and it doesn't seem like everybody is playing "gotcha"! Thanks for the encouragement.
posted by kendrak at 10:09 AM on April 17 [2 favorites]


So, about Trump and Flint and Puerto Rico specifically: many times people outside the US have said, it sucks when Americans come into topics that are not about the US and make it about the US. So that's something we try to avoid, broadly speaking.

kendrak if you want to make a post about colonialism etc that's fine. Obviously don't frame it as "you jerks are jerks for not talking about this" [I'm exaggerating], just frame it as "here's an aspect worth talking about" and it should be good I think.

If someone wants to make a post about how people choose what charitable efforts to give money to, or what international or US media focuses on, that's also fine.

If people want to talk specifically Trump, probably better to keep that in the Trump-containment thread, or else make a separate thread about how things are going in Flint and/or Puerto Rico if that's the focus.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 10:13 AM on April 17 [10 favorites]


kendrak: "I was thinking about drafting a post about how the Notre Dame fire relates to colonialism and the desecration of religious sites via colonialism, since I've seen some interesting discussions around that and I think it's important to consider, but now I realize that most people would find it a hurtful bummer reminder of history, saying "this isn't the time". So I guess I'm reading the room and the mod notes and am not going to make such a post."

I'm not a mod, but I think such a post would be welcomed. What might be seen as not great in a particular thread might well make a fine separate discussion.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:13 AM on April 17 [4 favorites]


corb’s latest comment seems relevant to this conversation too.
posted by pharm at 10:21 AM on April 17


[One deleted; maybe try that again without the instant "obviously person x hates French people", that is not what's happening and is really not gonna help anything.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 10:40 AM on April 17 [3 favorites]


I have no problem with the deletions, to be perfectly clear, but I do have an honest question.

If we don't do 'breaking news" why do we have longboat politics megathreads? How are they any different than breaking news?
posted by bibliogrrl at 11:00 AM on April 17 [3 favorites]


Seems to me the megathreads aren't so much breaking news as roundups of latest news, analysis, and updates to ongoing situations.
posted by JenMarie at 11:02 AM on April 17


e.g., our ongoing national nightmare
posted by JenMarie at 11:03 AM on April 17


The thread seems fine, save for a minority who seem intent on stirring the shit with whataboutisms and willfull exceptionalism.
posted by bonehead at 11:07 AM on April 17 [1 favorite]


> [One deleted; maybe try that again without the instant "obviously person x hates French people", that is not what's happening and is really not gonna help anything.]

It's almost as if we hadn't read the same attacks over the past two days. It's your decision to let this user to continue their attacks. I disagree with this decision.
posted by nangar at 11:13 AM on April 17 [3 favorites]


I stepped out of that thread voluntarily and will stay out, if that helps at all.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 11:16 AM on April 17 [1 favorite]


Just want to get this off my chest because it's bothering me: I think many people assume that anything associated with France is pretentious and performative. So they make sure they're "real" and "authentic," by rejecting or dismissing anything French.

This isn't a Metafilter-specific dynamic. It's just a dynamic that comes up pretty often in (my) regular life. But I do see that dynamic getting echoed on Metafilter in some of the policing of how people are responding to the Notre Dame fire.

It's frustrating because France is as authentic, real, and complex as anyplace else, and people can have authentic, real, and complex ties and feelings toward it.

Please don't dismiss mourning/concern for an important French symbol and landmark as pretentious, performative, a metaphor for US-centric politics, what's wrong with the world today, etc. I mean, who knows why any given individual feels or acts how they do, but having authentic feelings about an authentic place and expressing them in an authentic way is possible even when those feelings/that place/the response is about something French.
posted by rue72 at 11:21 AM on April 17 [12 favorites]


If we don't do 'breaking news" why do we have longboat politics megathreads? How are they any different than breaking news?

My understanding is that the US politics megathreads are a containment system. Without them, Trump et al. would overrun an unacceptable percentage of main page posts, and probably AskMes, too. By giving the community one thread (usually), the rest of the site stays largely Trump-free. They are different than a breaking news post in the sense that they are not about one giant news topic. That said, they’re similar in that we have issues of early, wrong info being repeated and reacted to. But due to the breakneck, ceaseless political news cycle, I don’t see how that could be avoided. And that issue pales in comparison to the ‘site being overrun with Trump’ issue.

(Just answering the question, not trying to spark a derail. I think we talked a few months ago about having a megathread FAQ that we could link questions like this to. Did that happen? I’ve been around less lately and could have missed it.)
posted by greermahoney at 11:48 AM on April 17 [5 favorites]


If we don't do 'breaking news" why do we have longboat politics megathreads? How are they any different than breaking news?

Yeah, the ongoing US politics threads have been an unhappy compromise solution to the situation of US politics becoming all interconnected breaking-news Trump disasters all the time. The threads were meant to be a way of containing those all in one thread. (We haven't put together a FAQ, and we're due for another MeTa on the future of those threads, but have been kind of waiting for Mueller stuff to wrap up. Barring clear solutions that somehow meet everyone's desires, we've been sticking with the imperfect-but-known status quo for the time being.)

Backing up to the general, though - it's not that we never discuss news or even breaking news. It's that when there's breaking news like an obviously-fast-evolving unexpected bad-news story, we often ask people to wait a few hours before making an FPP of it, so the post has a chance to start from somewhat more, and more reliable, information. And where that line falls, of when an event warrants this treatment, or when the information has gelled enough for a post to be fine, is something of a moving target.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 11:56 AM on April 17 [3 favorites]


And where that line falls, of when an event warrants this treatment, or when the information has gelled enough for a post to be fine, is something of a moving target.

Consideration of where that line might fall, and if there are lessons that could be learned here in terms of responsiveness should not be out of line.

An editorial link with factual errors is certainly not the best way to handle things, though a neutral one from a reputable source that is fact based, would seem to me to be a reasonable stating place. Not every post needs half-a-dozen links, freighted with commentary and framed with significance.

Personally, I think there's a strong value in responsiveness with a reasonable post, in contrast to waiting for a perfect post to come along late. This is a site with many people who can contribute at reasonable levels and with a reasonable complexity of viewpoints. The strength of threads here is in the commentary, not just in the links.
posted by bonehead at 12:08 PM on April 17 [1 favorite]


Well, sometimes it's not that the initial post has bad sources, so much as that time needs to elapse for any source to be able to offer more reliable info.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 12:12 PM on April 17 [3 favorites]


I have French ancestry. I delayed taking a foreign language in high school until my shit-ass school finally hired someone to teach French, because that's the language I wanted to learn. I tried to travel to France during junior year but was halted by lack of money to join the school-sponsored trip. I still want to go there. I'm still friends with that teacher, who has been mourning the fire by posting all of his beautiful photographs of the cathedral from his four decades of visits there as a student himself and many times over again as a cultural shepherd guiding his own students through the city. And he somehow found time in his grief to acknowledge the stew of feelings he felt and which echo my own feelings, and I quote him here: "Relief that so few were even injured; gratitude that so much was saved; optimism that the rebuilding will have a host of positive repercussions; ambivalence engendered by the inequities and misguided priorities that the event brings to light; and introspection on the temporariness of all things."

In your rush to condemn anyone who doesn't feel the exact same way you do, to simplify them as sneering and hating, you are being exactly as awful as you claim others are being. People are capable of having complex feelings, or at least some of us are. Remember that before you decide we deserve to be shit on.
posted by palomar at 12:33 PM on April 17 [6 favorites]


palomar, who are you talking to?
posted by Too-Ticky at 12:40 PM on April 17 [1 favorite]


rue72, primarily, but anyone who favorited that comment, anyone who insists there's only one acceptable way to feel. take your pick of the roster of folks that applies to, frankly, and assume i'm talking to them, too.
posted by palomar at 12:41 PM on April 17


I think your points are compatible:

rue72: It's frustrating because France is as authentic, real, and complex as anyplace else, and people can have authentic, real, and complex ties and feelings toward it.

palomar: People are capable of having complex feelings, or at least some of us are.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 12:47 PM on April 17 [6 favorites]


This comment? Then I have no idea what you mean. I don't see rue72 condemning anyone for not feeling the same way they do, and I don't see anything about sneering and hating.
posted by Too-Ticky at 12:50 PM on April 17 [11 favorites]


And yet ironically that comment completely erases the existence of people who have complex feelings. If you're publicly expressing anything but sorrow, you're trying to be more "real" and "authentic" by "sneering" at anything related to France. And apparently that viewpoint is acceptable here, whereas mine is not.
posted by palomar at 12:50 PM on April 17 [3 favorites]


Wow, okay. We've apparently read the same comment, but gotten a very different message from it.
posted by Too-Ticky at 12:52 PM on April 17 [9 favorites]


Yikes. Rue72 didn’t say there was only one acceptable way to feel.

I think many people assume that anything associated with France is pretentious and performative. So they make sure they're "real" and "authentic," by rejecting or dismissing anything French.

If you’re not dismissing French things as pretentious and those who like them as performative, and it doesn’t seem like you are, the comment wasn’t even directed at you.

If you're publicly expressing anything but sorrow, you're trying to be more "real" and "authentic" by "sneering" at anything related to France.

Because Rue72’s comment did not say that.
posted by greermahoney at 12:53 PM on April 17 [16 favorites]


To be frank, after watching any dissenting opinions about this event get categorized as hateful meanspiritedness or performative wokeness, and watching comments attacking members for having those dissenting opinions stand even after the target has come into the thread and said how much that hurt them, and after seeing zero instances of the kind of dismissal discussed in that comment... it's really hard for me to read that comment and understand how it's not aimed at MeFites who aren't showing the right kind of emotions.
posted by palomar at 1:05 PM on April 17 [4 favorites]


after watching any dissenting opinions about this event get categorized as hateful meanspiritedness or performative wokeness

You are having a very different read of that comment than I think either the author intended or others are reading. Usually when that happens to me - and let's be real, the mods know from my flags that it certainly does - it means that I'm experiencing complex emotions that the post is bringing up.

I can see where the outpouring of grief, of Macron declaring that Notre Dame will be fixed in five years even while shooting the gilles-jaune, of French companies pledging millions of dollars, might have even more of an impact on someone of French ancestry who isn't feeling that grief that is being called a national outpouring and unifying.

I can see where when everyone else seems to be feeling something so unifyingly and completely, it really makes people who feel differently want to be heard, loudly and vocally, even if it doesn't feel, to others, like the right time.

But I think there's a difference between saying "please be considerate with how you talk about and to grieving people" and saying "don't feel your feelings, your feelings are wrong." I understand how they could sound the same, but they are very different. It's kind of like - oh, a good example is how sometimes people need to process their feelings after witnessing violence occur, but they don't need to process them with the victim - but saying that doesn't invalidate those feelings.
posted by corb at 1:56 PM on April 17 [15 favorites]


I think the mods made a good call with these deletions. I'm seeing a lot of inability to separate one's own feelings about an event (inherently legitimate! your feelings are legitimate) from how important/tragic it actually is. If there were a thread about every architectural treasure damaged in the Middle East, Metafilter would become Middle Eastern Building Filter. If there were a thread about every unjust death in the world, all of which are more tragic than the Notre Dame burning, the servers would crash.
posted by dusty potato at 2:18 PM on April 17 [8 favorites]


I read rue72’s comment as much more about the general reaction to the news and much less about Metafilter, and definitely not a personal attack aimed at any one or two users. I thought it was a really interesting point about how some cultures (definitely Americans) grapple with an image of what France and French culture mean and how that influences our views of events there. In the Venn diagram of my Instagram feed, there has definitely been a overlap in the circles of “people concerned about Notre Dame” and “US people who post slightly vapid/cliché things about European travel” and “art history majors who can sometimes be poseurs” and “US mom bloggers who are always talking about the French way of doing things.” So for me that user’s post was a good check on some of my own eyerolling (hell, I’m the one following these people).
posted by sallybrown at 2:21 PM on April 17 [8 favorites]


(my comment was not just a wanky hypothetical, btw-- I have seen the mods delete posts for reason of "this is just look at the bad thing happening". I've often disagreed with it when it's been about lesser-known things that I felt deserved a discussion, but they've been quite consistent about this.)
posted by dusty potato at 2:24 PM on April 17


This isn't a Metafilter-specific dynamic. It's just a dynamic that comes up pretty often in (my) regular life. But I do see that dynamic getting echoed on Metafilter in some of the policing of how people are responding to the Notre Dame fire.

That's a lot about Metafilter? And I haven't seen comments that I interpreted that way, so I assume that this is an alternative reading of comments that I have seen. My reaction was basically the same as palomar.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 2:34 PM on April 17




If you want to ask about what Metafilter as whole is privileging then the answer is the politics threads which are clearly more important than anything else by that metric.

I mean, yes? I would unironically agree with this, and I wouldn't be surprised if the megathreads have swung MeFi towards feeling significantly more like an "American site" the past few years.
posted by nakedmolerats at 3:24 PM on April 17 [4 favorites]


I really wish we could retire the epithet “performative” except as a technical term in philosophy, linguistics, and social theory. Attached as an adjective to any purportedly positive quality it becomes an assertion of disingenuousness, self-aggrandizement, and theatrical hyperbole.

There has never been a comment on this site that isn’t “performative” in the trivial sense of being a public utterance meant for others to respond to as reflective of the poster’s identity in the community or the broader world. This is the Internet. It’s performative all the way down, same as any public gathering throughout history. We aren’t talking to ourselves. When people react to what we say, they are performatively responding to our performativity.

The biggest problem, as ever in online text-based discourse, is the absence of non-verbal dimensions of performativity. We can’t see the person behind the words. Words are what we have. And histories of words and reputations accrued thereby. We often don’t know much about the rest of someone’s life. We can’t see the hurt in their eyes when we write a careless word. We can’t express dissatisfaction with a glance, only with some words that, indeed, perform our dissatisfaction as an explicit statement or retaliatory snark.

This creates the need for transparent truth-conditional norms (like don’t put words in peoples’ mouths they didn’t actually write) and a high degree of trust, or what might colloquially be called the benefit of the doubt that your interlocutors here mean well even if they rub you the wrong way, or aren’t necessarily aware that their words are causing hurt, etc.

This community spends a lot of time analyzing its own dynamics and moderating itself and accepting our professional moderators as arbiters of conflict but also holding them to very high standards of objectivity. That’s great. But it shouldn’t devolve to a hermeneutical or juridical exercise.

Unless someone outright tells you to shut up or calls you a bad person explicitly, your best bet here is to assume they mean well, are unaware of offending others, or are simply inarticulate or careless in the moment. As we all are sometimes. Or that their emotions have gotten the better of them but that you don’t have to escalate the negativity.
posted by spitbull at 4:43 PM on April 17 [40 favorites]


Can we take that last paragraph and have it framed or something? We need that reminder often. Thanks, spitbull.
posted by greermahoney at 5:06 PM on April 17 [6 favorites]


So many people have been so eloquent and said things that I wish I'd thought to say. I will just add: Thanks mods. It's funny, because I have turned my nose up at people who've said this in previous knock-down-drag-out MeTas, but damn, thanks mods.
posted by dbx at 5:32 PM on April 17 [7 favorites]


Worth noting that a pained debate has broken out in almost every progressive space I know where folks feel a stake in the loss of ND, about many of the issues being debated in our blue thread and in the background of this one. Many of my friends are academics and many of them, including tight friends, are musicologists with a serious passion for medieval culture that is geekily unrelated to modern social identities and conflicts (except in the sense they our culture’s widespread understanding of how people felt, acted, looked, and sounded in the Middle Ages is profoundly a 19th century Romantic fantasy enshrined in such forms as the completely notional sound of Gregorian Chant , invented from whole cloth at Solesmes in the 19th c. with no auditory model or continuous performance tradition, and heavily exploitative of the acoustics of spaces like Notre Dame, which were reengineered in 19th century renovations, and then taught to generations of students as what “medieval music” is supposed to sound like, and does across thousands of films and TV series and in the minds of children imagining or visiting cathedrals and castles and museums, some of whom take Latin and grow up to be the stereotypically nerdy musicologists who give a fuck about how the Middle Ages might have *really* sounded — these folks are one tribe over from mine in the academy and a lot of them are my friends and are genuinely broken hearted at the burning of what was to them a secular site of wonder and a personal place of pilgrimage). They are also genuinely woke people who intellectually understand the critique of a global show of shock and support for the burning of a temple of Western Civilization when no such reaction accompanied the destruction of even older and equally important monuments in Syria or Iraq or the Al Aksa mosque, let alone black churches in Louisiana or actual embodied humans in misery all over the world. They get it but they’re still grieving for the Paris they know (some are French) and the place they loved. I must have seen 50 appeals to donate to the GoFundMe for those Louisiana churches yesterday from friends trying to demonstrate their level of getting it (“performative wokeness” is the best wokeness, yo — another word for it is social *change*).

Today begins the blog posts wringing hands over how one can frame genuine grief at the burning of ND as a personal experience while not signing up to defend colonialism, white supremacy, Christian supremacy, patriarchy, the Catholic Church, the Life of the Mind, the artistic legacy of the homeland of a not insignificant number of Americans and Canadians, and an archive of a millennium of common history, something we all understand only exists because powerful men were so invested in what was worth hoarding, commissioning, looting, and killing to obtain.

I assert we all have “complex feelings” about everything. I think of the Indigenous folks I work with in the Arctic (most of whom don’t seem too exercised about Notre Dame, and I excuse Indigenous people a little more for not being able to grieve a tragedy for Western Civilization) who have subsisted on their dangerous and unforgiving land for thousands of years and have watched climate change rapidly disrupt their way of life on the heels of a massive colonial transformation that is only a few generations in the past. What has given them the power to reclaim sovereignty and restore their communities from that devastating and genocidal encounter has been the revenue from the oil under their land that the colonialists didn’t even know was there or think was important enough to steal before it was too late and they had lawyers. (I exaggerate, it was still stolen.) Oil wealth has enabled a huge apparatus for cultural survival and the education of their kids and the comfort and quality of their lives and even the safety and efficiency of their hunting culture. They also can see with their own eyes that burning carbon has begun to transform the world in ways that will at a minimum disrupt their cultural survival efforts and efforts to maintain a subsistence hunting lifestyle, at the heart of that culture for remains that go beyond calories that in theory could be sourced from soybeans consumed in a southern city — there aren’t that many people living off the land there, which is what makes it possible to do.

Almost any Inuit I’ve ever known — a not insignificant percentage of the Indidgenous population of the North Slope of Alaska — lives with the same aching contradictory feelings all of us experience when we jet off to climate change protests in Paris, for example. But every single day, in your face: the way I’m living is unsustainable but there’s no other obvious way of living that doesn’t require huge sacrifices or resources beyond my reach. When that is already a daily existential dilemma for your community — as it is up there and more quietly for all of us, as separated as most of us as are from procuring food and water at a subsistence level — “mixed feelings” and “compartmentalization” don’t begin to describe the experience of contemplating the best future for your child or your people.

I guess also saying that not only should we make an effort to be charitable towards peoples’ intentions in this text-based community, but we should assume no one feels simple feelings, and few are rigid ideologues, and everyone is learning and responding to how others appear to feel all the time while managing their own complex emotional response to stories like this.

I’ve spent my life in the trenches of academia railing against white supremacy and colonialist narratives of global history and the elevation of European culture over others, but I’m a tenured prof at one of the most elite universities in the world, and we sit on the stolen land of the Lenape Indians as we advocate for Palestinian rights or Indigenous cultural survival. Ask me how I feel about that and it depends on the day or the hour or the context. But I’m still there. Still taking the paycheck. Still trying to move the needle one student at a time. And sometimes it seems like maybe I’ll effect some tiny incremental improvement in the world that will justify my carbon consumption and charmed life of privilege as not being a waste of cosmic energy.

I have Indigenous friends who agree with me that the fight is worth having on these terms. I have other Indigenous friends who are done with anthropology (if not this anthropologist) and can’t see why we don’t just burn it all down. Most of my Indigenous friends, like me, but largely on their behalf, have both feelings at the same time.

A burning church or mosque or temple or sacred site is a deep symbol, even when it’s caused by a construction accident. It evokes complex reactions. The mods here decided to let those complex reactions begin to form for a few hours and we are none the worse for it.
posted by spitbull at 4:57 AM on April 18 [24 favorites]


The mods here decided to let those complex reactions begin to form for a few hours and we are none the worse for it.

I'm glad that you are none the worse for it. I'd appreciate it if you didn't speak for me as well.
posted by lazaruslong at 5:44 AM on April 18 [9 favorites]


Omnia mutantur


[ ] nihil interit

[ ] nos et mutamur in illis
posted by crush at 5:54 AM on April 18 [2 favorites]


lazaruslong: I'm glad that you are none the worse for it. I'd appreciate it if you didn't speak for me as well.

Indeed. There’s an awful lot of “we” in that comment of yours spitbull.

Also, this part seems a little weird: (most of whom don’t seem too exercised about Notre Dame, and I excuse Indigenous people a little more for not being able to grieve a tragedy for Western Civilization)

I hope nobody is expecting anyone to grieve over Notre Dame. Equally nobody needs to be “excused” for not doing so. If people are grieving over Notre Dame then it’s because it means something to them: People can grieve or not as they choose & exactly as much as they themselves deem appropriate.
posted by pharm at 6:31 AM on April 18 [7 favorites]


Sorry for my rhetorical “we.” I’m genuinely sorry if anyone is the worse for the delayed thread or the deleted threads. I’m not being sarcastic.

And my point is I’m not expecting anyone to feel anything but what they actually feel, so perhaps “excuse” was a poorly considered verb. How about “I understand” why some people feel no discernible grief and some have no reaction at all and some are sorting out their reaction and some people find the whole thing a hypocritical spectacle of privilege.
posted by spitbull at 6:44 AM on April 18 [7 favorites]


In your rush to condemn anyone who doesn't feel the exact same way you do, to simplify them as sneering and hating, you are being exactly as awful as you claim others are being. People are capable of having complex feelings, or at least some of us are. Remember that before you decide we deserve to be shit on.

Honestly, this is so bizarre that I'm not sure how to respond.

I can assure you that your "dissenting opinions" are really not that edgy. They've by and large already been floating around elderly French person facebook for days as memes. I'm pretty sure that we here on Metafilter can also handle breaking news like: France is a colonial power with a bloody history, the Catholic church also has lots of blood on its hands, government spending priorities can be pretty messed up especially in the era of climate change, there's a lot of myth-making around Notre Dame, etc. I personally think that the site handled this event too carefully and that a more organic post/discussion would have been a better idea -- not least because it would have kept this MetaTalk from happening -- but moderating the site is the mods' expertise, so ultimately, I defer to them.

The only time that I was directing a comment specifically to you, palomar, was when you kept bringing up horrific tragedies and being like, "but what about those?!" I think those were apples to oranges comparisons, and ultimately fruitless. And using mass casualty tragedies that many people here remember vividly and may have been personally affected by as fodder during an argument over website deletion policy is incredibly callous.

some people find the whole thing a hypocritical spectacle of privilege.

This sentiment is actually what I was responding to above. There have been some comments assuming that responses to this fire are hypocritical, pretentious, disingenuous social positioning (especially by Americans for Americans), even an expression of sympathy toward pro-Trump white nationalism, etc. And who knows, maybe some responses are. But regardless that France has a lot of baggage in the American cultural imagination, it also is possible to have an authentic and personal response even to something associated with France. Not everything is US-centric, self-conscious social/economic/political signaling. France is an actual place where actual things happen and actual people live and it has its own context, it's not just an American cultural metaphor.

Personally, I don't think that there needs to be lots of soul searching about why many people were freaking out when a UNESCO world heritage site with a very romantic mythology was suddenly engulfed in flames. I don't really know why either that or other people being like "eh" about it requires lots of analysis. To me, a lot of the concern about the concern (the meta-concern!) for Notre Dame is another expression of weird American baggage about France. But *shrug* I also don't need to be involved in every conversation.
posted by rue72 at 8:15 AM on April 18 [16 favorites]


They've by and large already been floating around elderly French person facebook for days as memes.....To me, a lot of the concern about the concern (the meta-concern!) for Notre Dame is another expression of weird American baggage about France.


Elderly French person Facebook is expressing weird American baggage about France? Fascinating.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 9:00 AM on April 18 [1 favorite]


To be less sarcastic - it seems illogical to proclaim that these opinions are so obvious and common that even elderly French people have them, yet also so artificial and removed from France as a real place that they are just "another expression of weird American baggage about France."
posted by the agents of KAOS at 9:06 AM on April 18 [2 favorites]


Billionaires raced to pledge money to rebuild Notre Dame. Then came the backlash, James McAuley, Washington Post.

A few short excerpts:
“If they can give tens of millions to rebuild Notre Dame, then they should stop telling us there is no money to help with the social emergency,” Philippe Martinez, head of the CGT trade union, said on Wednesday.

“Billionaires should pay taxes,” tweeted economist Julia Cage, “not give when they feel like it, benefiting from enormous tax breaks.”

“It’s an empty controversy,” Arnault said. “It’s pretty dismaying to see that in France you are criticized even for doing something for the general interest.”

The Pinault family similarly released a statement saying: “The donation for Notre-Dame de Paris will not be subject to any tax deduction. The Pinault family considers that it is out of the question to burden French taxpayers.”
the agents of KAOS, since you refused to believe what rue72 said about what they were seeing on French social media, you might want to take a look at this article. It's mostly about reactions in France, and the article is in English.
posted by nangar at 7:12 AM on April 19 [4 favorites]


I think you've misunderstood. I can read French. I can read the social media posting of my elderly French relatives, even. I absolutely believe that these opinions are being expressed by the French
and therefore
I think it is obvious nonsense to suggest that these opinions represent "American baggage".
posted by the agents of KAOS at 12:00 AM on April 20 [2 favorites]


Really. It’s worth noting that the relevant anti-clerical, anti-aristocratic “American baggage” is of French origin.
posted by spitbull at 8:50 AM on April 20 [2 favorites]


Thanks so much to spitbull for careful and personal and aching writing about other parties' responses to the fire... I'd come concerned that no one (least of all mods' comments here) seemed to be talking about this intersection of art, culture, feelings, appropriation, colonization, ancient crimes, and contemporary ones.

But it had already been written about.

And my communities, too, tore themselves up about this, along various axes, including atheist/religious, native rights, black church burnings, and all the other things that this pinged off of when it happened and unfurled.
posted by kalessin at 11:52 AM on April 23 [2 favorites]


Thank you Kalessin.
posted by spitbull at 2:49 PM on April 23


« Older Metatalktail Hour: Open Thread!   |   How long is too long? Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments