Reconsidering the rule against friend-linking on the MeFi front page May 10, 2019 10:03 AM   Subscribe

We're gonna try allowing friend-linking on the front page of MetaFilter—that is, linking to stuff on the web made by someone you are friends with or have a personal connection to. Come on inside and I'll talk about why, and lay out some expectations and guidelines.

What's the goal?

To realign MeFi's posting guidelines to better fit with the current state of the web and the internet so that folks have the opportunity to share cool and interesting and joyful stuff on the front page that we'd otherwise miss out on.


Why did we have the "no friend-linking" rule originally?

A couple reasons:

1. As an anti-spam measure to supplement the no self-linking rule; spammers and self-linkers would often try to rules-lawyer arould a literal interpretation of self-linking by claiming it was a misunderstanding, their *friend* made this thing, etc etc.

2. People weren't always great at showing either restraint or good judgement about posting their friends' stuff.


What's changed?

A few things!

For one, I am all out of patience with rules-lawyers and smelly edge cases. If I think someone's misusing the site in a sketchy or bad-faith way, I'm just gonna delete their post and ban 'em and that's that. For another, MetaFilter has a much more solidified community culture these days than early on, and I'm comfortable trusting folks with a little more leeway on navigating their social sphere re: post content, and then just talking with folks who aren't doing a superb job of it as needed.

But also, bigger picture: the web is a lot different. Social media and social networks have taken what used to be more like a scattered archipelago of creative people who happened to be online and made it far easier for folks to know each other and become friends etc. because of a their shared interest in art and science and writing and so on. We're more likely these days to be friends or at least friendly and connected with people making cool shit than we were in the early/mid 2000s.

I'd rather the MeFi community benefit from that actual-good-thing about the social internet than leave up a constricting guideline just in case someone judges things badly or behaves inappopriately. We can deal with the problem cases as they come up.

This is something folks have asked about periodically a number of times of the years, and I've been chewing on it more actively that last couple, and I think it's time to give it a go.


What are the new expectations?

The only real change here is that "my friend made something cool and I want to share it" is now a viable starting point for a post on the front page of MetaFilter. The rest of the posting guidelines are as they've always been.

Major points of consideration:

1. Is there a cool/neat/interesting thing on the web, made by someone you happen to be friends with but with which you have zero personal involvement? It's now okay to make a MetaFilter post about it!

2. Is it something you do have some stake in? e.g. you contributed to it, or you promote it more broadly as a job or a favor, or you have any sort of quid-pro-quo deal, or you do general promotional/SEO/linksharing/etc work for stuff like this? Definitely skip it, that's not what we're aiming for here. That falls into self-linking territory, which is still not okay on the front page of MeFi. (If you are significantly personally involved in creating it, a Projects post would probably be fine, though, since that's what that part of the site is explicitly for.)

3. Is this not so much a neat thing on the web as it is a Very Important Issue sort of thing? Proceed with caution. Good thoughtful writing about serious subjects isn't an automatic no-go, but we're not aiming for general signal-boosting or Look At This Bad Thing stuff with this. The front page can already be grim enough some days with the disinterested third-party news going around; the goal here is to add more neat/cool/interesting/joyful stuff to the mix, not to add "and my friend also says this is bad" stuff in on top.

4. Disclosure is good. If you have a friend-type connection to something you're posting, please mention that in the post. Doesn't have to be a big deal, something like "Disclosure: we're mutuals on Instagram" etc. would suffice, but in the spirit of working this new approach out it'll help to have folks be transparent about their relationship to something they're posting. If you have privacy concerns of some sort, safe bet there is just skip the post, or contact the mods first if it's a special case so we can discuss it.

5. Posts get deleted sometimes, and get negative discussions sometimes. If you think a post might be borderline, or if you think your friend would be upset (or you would be upset and inclined to react badly) if a deletion or a critical thread happened, it's probably not a great idea to post it in the first place.

6. This is experimental! We may decide some stuff isn't a good fit after all after it goes up; we may need to refine or supplement these initial expectations. It's possible the whole thing will turn out to be too much of a mess to manage in this way. So, bear with us. On the flip side, we'll be approaching edge-case or "hrm, not so much with that" issues through email and notes and gentle feedback; nobody's gonna get in trouble for tripping up a little in good faith as we sort it all out.
posted by cortex to Etiquette/Policy at 10:03 AM (113 comments total) 45 users marked this as a favorite

This is fucking awesome.
posted by loquacious at 10:12 AM on May 10 [25 favorites]


4. Disclosure is good. If you have a friend-type connection to something you're posting, please mention that in the post. Doesn't have to be a big deal, something like "Disclosure: we're mutuals on Instagram" etc. would suffice, but in the spirit of working this new approach out it'll help to have folks be transparent about their relationship to something they're posting. If you have privacy concerns of some sort, safe bet there is just skip the post, or contact the mods first if it's a special case so we can discuss it.

It'd be cool if you could compare and contrast old and new definitions of "friend" for the purposes of this rule change. When i think of "friend," I am thinking someone I have a definite relationship with, not "My best friend's sister's boyfriend's brother's girlfriend heard from this guy who knows this kid who's going with the girl..." type of relationship in social media.
posted by Fukiyama at 10:23 AM on May 10 [5 favorites]


Our baseline has always been that if you're close enough for them to say to you "Hey, thanks for the post," that counts as a "friend" for the purposes of friendslinking. That's probably still a pretty good rubric for disclosure.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 10:26 AM on May 10 [13 favorites]


Yeah, I'd put it this way: the definition of "friend" is basically a lot less important with this change than it was before, because we're aiming for permissiveness instead of trying to be restrictive.

That is: if it were, as it has been up to this point, not okay to post stuff by your friends, then drawing a line on what "we're friends" means matters a lot, and we've historically had to talk that out with folks for edge-case stuff and caution folks to basically err on the side of caution to keep things clean and simple. The core guideline was: when in doubt, don't post.

With this change, since it is okay to post stuff by your friends, I don't particularly care how close that relationship is. It could be your very best friend in the world, it could be someone you've traded comments with a couple times on social media; either way it's fine! That's the thrust of the change, that I want to get rid of that particular roadblock, and with it goes the often fuzzy distinctions that come along.

Does that makes sense?
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:34 AM on May 10 [9 favorites]


I agree that this is awesome. It's natural to engage with things you have enthusiasm for, and then you might become friends with the people that do that thing. And then you can't share? That's been my issue around fleshing out a couple never posted FPPs I've considered. Maybe this will give me the kick to post my first.
posted by meinvt at 10:34 AM on May 10 [3 favorites]


I would hope that the motivation for posting to front page is (mostly) always "this is the best of the web" type rather than "my cousin does this thing and I promised him exposure" type.
posted by OHenryPacey at 10:40 AM on May 10 [9 favorites]


This seems like a great change and I am looking forward to the posts that will ensue.
posted by Dip Flash at 10:43 AM on May 10 [2 favorites]


Oh, this is rad! Over the years I've taken the time to get to know and become friends with people who write stuff I enjoy reading and sharing on here, and unfortunately that has meant that I have stopped posting their stuff on here once the relationship became any more mutual than "they occasionally respond to my replies on twitter" which was the personal line I had drawn for that kind of thing.

Since social media became a big part of my life it's felt just a bit like I had to make a choice between becoming closer friends with someone and posting stuff they've written on here and, well, unfortunately, the latter was never going to win that particular battle. So this is a great choice and I hope it works out!
posted by griphus at 10:53 AM on May 10 [7 favorites]


I would hope that the motivation for posting to front page is (mostly) always "this is the best of the web" type rather than "my cousin does this thing and I promised him exposure" type.

It maybe shouldn't even have to be "best" any more. At this point I will personally allow for, well, almost anything as long as it is sincere or quirky or real and something related to our community.

And if it ends up benefiting some of our communities friends and family cottage industry or personal project in some constructive or material way? Is that really bad today? We're not really the SEO target we used to be, we have a more mature sense of community and ethics and morality and as cortex outlines above it would likely be easy to keep this from turning into "Hey, here's my cousin's MLM reference links so I can get free stuff."

I seriously miss the old web and being able to go down weird rabbit holes and geocities web pages permanently under construction. I miss stumbling into someone's precise and thorough catalog of, say, costume and clothing choices from an old popular or even obscure TV show instead of having to wade through a bunch of pinterest boards to find anything related to something in particular.

We can definitely bring that back, and maybe lower - nay widen and adapt - the bar a little for more cool stuff, especially cool stuff that isn't politically related or traumatic bad news.
posted by loquacious at 10:53 AM on May 10 [5 favorites]


For one, I am all out of patience with rules-lawyers and smelly edge cases.

Should we assume, based on the language used in the announcement, that posting the creations of blood relatives is still proscribed?
posted by prize bull octorok at 10:54 AM on May 10


Should we assume, based on the language used in the announcement, that posting the creations of blood relatives is still proscribed?

Not inherently, but it's probably the most obvious "slow down and think about it" case. It's more of a danger zone because it's going to cut much closer, more often, to the question of what motivations and power dynamics and murky questions of mutual benefit are involved in the decision to make a post.

But plenty of people have healthy boundaries on friendly relationships with family members; I don't feel the need to draw a hard reflexive line there. If you've got a family member doing something neat that is otherwise post-worthy and you have nothing to do with it, it sounds fine to me. Which is really the same thing as the issue with friends in general: it needs to not be in any sense also your thing, is the core of respecting the prohibition on self-linking.

That there are clear and functioning boundaries between you and thing-person-you-know-made, and that it's a good post in its own right, is my primary concern.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:09 AM on May 10 [4 favorites]


*faints*
posted by hugbucket at 11:10 AM on May 10 [1 favorite]


Now that I've blown past 25 years of using the internet, I'm having trouble using it for anything other than being outraged. As such, I approve of this.
posted by SpiffyRob at 11:30 AM on May 10 [8 favorites]


This is big. Curious, what has changed to allow this when it was verboten in the past.
I realize folks, in the day, had posts cut and some snippy mod notes concerning said endeavor.
posted by clavdivs at 11:33 AM on May 10


This feels like a good change.
posted by motdiem2 at 12:10 PM on May 10 [3 favorites]


Curious, what has changed to allow this when it was verboten in the past.

Lots of stuff, incrementally; like I said in the post, the web's different these days, the site's different, the ways in which people are connected to each other online and how that intersects with the cool stuff we see and know about and might want to share is different.

The rule was, as most rules are, mechanically arbitrary at heart and more about establishing culture and expectations: there's no hard technical reason friend-links were a problem, just as there's no technical reason self-links still are. But what folks choose to do, and what we ask them to not do, shapes the way the site feels and what people expect of it.

And so, little by little, it's come to feel like this is a change that'll serve the MetaFilter community better in the long run than the status quo. In the couple of years that we've been more actively contemplating this not all that much has changed leading up to this particular moment other than us having talked it out enough as a team to decide that it's an okay thing to move on.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:10 PM on May 10 [5 favorites]


This is a good development and it will make Metafilter better. Thanks, Cortex.
posted by Gordafarin at 12:16 PM on May 10 [5 favorites]


This is a good change. A lot of the cool stuff we find out about comes from friends, sometimes those friends made it! If the content sucks, that'll be pretty obvious.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 12:18 PM on May 10 [2 favorites]


everybody: I will try to be conscientious about not dead goating your friends
posted by prize bull octorok at 12:37 PM on May 10 [11 favorites]


Wow.

There have definitely been times where I've stopped myself from posting because I've realized that I've got loose ties on social media with the creator of the thing-to-be-posted.

But just, wow. I'm really curious about how this will go, and hopeful.
posted by Jpfed at 12:51 PM on May 10 [2 favorites]


This is really cool.

More importantly, it's nice to see MeFi rules adapting and evolving with the times.
posted by bondcliff at 12:53 PM on May 10 [6 favorites]


I’ve got an edge-case question about where the line is for personal involvement, particularly a small involvement that’s not central to the thing.

Let’s say I have a friend who makes art. Their art is something I think MeFi would like. Let’s say I helped them set up their website in some small way — helping with DNS or fixing their mailing list or something. So, something that’s incidental to the actual content, but still some participation.

In practice, I guess I’d probably email the mods to explain the exact situation, but I’m curious if you’ve thought about where that participation line falls.
posted by duien at 1:05 PM on May 10


I think precisely that sort of "hmm, maybe I should ask the mods" grey area territory will just always be part of it, mostly. This should reduce significantly the size of those grey areas but sometimes you're just gonna have that moment of pause, and that's exactly why we have the contact form.

Like: from your description that's probably not an issue? But also it depends a bit on the details, so it's not something where I feel like I can establish a clearcut "having worked on someone's DNS is definitely [okay or prohibited]." But as far as that goes, yeah, I think it's a matter somewhat of honest self-assessment about the spirit of the posting guidelines, and asking when you're not sure. If writing "full disclosure, I did x for them at one point" would feel iffy when you type it into a post, go ahead and ask first about the situation.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:12 PM on May 10


that posting the creations of blood relatives is still proscribed?

But, we always post to MeTa when there's a creation of a new blood relative! The pictures are always adorable.
posted by Melismata at 1:29 PM on May 10 [25 favorites]


As I am a friend to all humankind I see this as a positive development
posted by XMLicious at 2:07 PM on May 10 [4 favorites]


Always felt that so many Mefites are just one handshake away from something worth sharing with the rest of us. I really encourage experiments like this, hope this works out well!
posted by ouke at 2:33 PM on May 10 [2 favorites]


here is a frand website, sometimes it is problematic but still p good
posted by poffin boffin at 2:34 PM on May 10 [22 favorites]


Nice change. I've not posted some things, mostly photography, that had been created by people I sorta knew or were friends of friends because I was afraid of tripping over the old rules on this.
posted by octothorpe at 2:38 PM on May 10


here is a frand website, sometimes it is problematic but still p good
posted by poffin boffin
posted by clavdivs at 3:08 PM on May 10 [1 favorite]


I've been quietly excited about this because the sort of stuff I get interesting insider news about (video games, science fiction) I generally get because I know the people involved, so I haven't ever been able to post about it. Now I can maybe contextualize some stuff in interesting ways!
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 3:11 PM on May 10 [3 favorites]


Well, my only hesitation would be "this could mean more work for the mods," so if y'all are cool with it, I'm cool
posted by duffell at 4:46 PM on May 10 [1 favorite]


Oh, great! This is a neat change to try out.
posted by lazaruslong at 5:38 PM on May 10 [1 favorite]


It always did seem counter-intuitive to me that I basically couldn't post about any cool person's activities whom I knew or liked, unless they didn't know me. So I had to sort of be a stalker rather than a fan. Which never made intuitive sense to me. And per my personality, pretty much around the time I've figured folks are cool or do cool things, I then know them too well to be able to link to them on the Blue.

I always respected it as a moderation decision, which always made sense to me - moderators and site owners get to make whatever rules they like - but it always made me feel like I was in a bad spot with respect to sharing with MetaFilter, on the Blue. I did sometimes put links to these kinds of folks in my profile, and even tried to set up a sort of "Hey these are cool people - post about them" resource for MeFi friends who were frequent posters, but it never really made it out of the gate.

I hope this turns out to be a good decision, and that it sticks.

For myself, a lot of the on-the-Internet coolness rests with friends through my ex-partner, about whom I have super complicated feels. I think I'll sit with these for a long while before I decide whether to share them on MetaFilter. But it does feel like a loosening, an opening, a relaxation of previously more constrictive rules. So thank you for that. It feels like it's better, even if it may not immediately change my daily MetaFilter activities for a while.
posted by kalessin at 5:40 PM on May 10 [2 favorites]


This seems like a good idea, and proposed new rules seem workable.
posted by nangar at 6:19 PM on May 10 [2 favorites]


Is this something you'd need to have a friend to understand?
posted by Literaryhero at 6:23 PM on May 10 [24 favorites]


No, I understand it fine.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:01 PM on May 10 [18 favorites]


Yay, I support this. I think good content can stand by itself.

The old rule created a certain temptation towards parallel construction if you discovered something cool IRL and wanted to share it; better to just encourage people to share stuff and disclose the connection.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:12 PM on May 10 [1 favorite]


Maybe the posts we made along the way were the real friends.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 10:08 PM on May 10 [9 favorites]


I love it ... but I have no friends.
posted by philip-random at 10:15 PM on May 10


I'm going to go make friends with a bunch of loan sharks, flimflam artists, fortune tellers, soldiers of fortune, snake oil peddlers, carnival barkers, and vagabonds.
posted by vrakatar at 10:23 PM on May 10 [4 favorites]


I'd be curious if there's a spike in new members.
posted by rhizome at 10:45 PM on May 10


What if your connection to the thing you post is that you work for the same company that produced it? Like, "here's a cool interactive 3D visualization of some math/science thing ... done in Matlab, posted on the Matlab company blog ... and I know about it because I work for Matlab, Inc." (I don't work there. But even if I did, I wouldn't be comfortable disclosing that fact in the FPP because I value the anonymity of this MeFi account.)
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 11:10 PM on May 10


What if you are a contributor but in a very minimal or orthogonal way. You're commited some little bug fix or fixed typos in the docs for a project. You were tasked with providing the data for some cool research project and got a mention for running a SQL query and sending an email. You know about it because you ran the cables or the server farm. What if you're a Patreon and your name scrolls by at the end of the video.
posted by zengargoyle at 3:41 AM on May 11


Maybe this is my own crazy attempt to answer that what if, but I imagine the bright line not to cross is, “will you, potentially, have the opportunity to directly financially benefit from posting a thing on metafilter?” If the answer is yes, if the mere act of driving eyeballs to a site chances to line your pockets, maybe don’t do it?

And that seems entirely reasonable.
posted by Ghidorah at 3:53 AM on May 11 [4 favorites]


Or you know a person via twitter and their article contains a link to your own blog because overlaps etc
posted by hugbucket at 4:06 AM on May 11


I neither post much nor have a huge following / followee (?) social media presence but I have hesitated posting a thing or two before lest I stumble on this rule before.

Specifically my wife's brother is a really cool independent musician / producer in a cool musical place and did a project where he put out new composition work every week for a year, much of it was above my head and even mathematical in some ways but it was super neat. Then he did music videos for some of his client's recording sessions that served as intros of various bands that used his studio (many of them unique musically, racially, sexual orientation, etc). I mean, there's a good bit to parse there and I think folks would enjoy it but I didn't/don't want to violate the rules so it remains unposted.

And I always disliked the 'have someone else post it for you' sort of thing because, well yeah, rules lawyering sucks.

I look forward to this change and hope folks disclose their connections and hope the mods swing their ban hammer gleefully when abuse happens.
posted by RolandOfEld at 5:55 AM on May 11 [2 favorites]


A link to the specific video series in question if anyone cares to judge/enjoy because specificity is something I always prefer over hypotheticals.
posted by RolandOfEld at 6:01 AM on May 11 [2 favorites]


I'm concerned that it may encourage people to have friends.
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:02 AM on May 11 [8 favorites]


Holy shit yes. This is coolest thing because yeah it's been really sad for the past few years where all the cool shit I'm finding is my friends and I can't share it here.

yayayayayayayayayaya!
posted by nikaspark at 6:55 AM on May 11 [1 favorite]


What if you are a contributor but in a very minimal or orthogonal way. You're commited some little bug fix or fixed typos in the docs for a project.

put it in Mefi projects! There's a place for that!
posted by nikaspark at 6:56 AM on May 11


(on re-read no, no don't put it in projects lol)

also

everybody: I will try to be conscientious about not dead goating your friends

I think this will honestly help Mefi become less of a "taking potshots" kind of place and more of a place where people are excited to share cool shit that is relevant and fun. Like FanFare but for the internet.
posted by nikaspark at 7:00 AM on May 11 [8 favorites]


Woo hoo! There is a thing I have been wanting to post about for years but I have a loose tie to them and got a "nyet" from cortex many years ago. It seems like it fits right into the guidelines for this new rule. I fully endorse this change!
posted by Sophie1 at 7:44 AM on May 11 [3 favorites]


I think this is a good idea.

Maybe this is my own crazy attempt to answer that what if, but I imagine the bright line not to cross is, “will you, potentially, have the opportunity to directly financially benefit from posting a thing on metafilter?”

Would expand this, generally under this new guideline, to "Will you or your friend..." Obvs stuff should be posted here because people think the community would like it, not to drive more eyeballs to a thing for your or your friend's $$ benefit.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 8:33 AM on May 11 [1 favorite]


I guess I can come out of the closet now and say that I joined Metafilter because my friend posted about my blog, which suddenly got this spike in traffic and I was like "WTF is this blue website"
posted by daisystomper at 8:33 AM on May 11 [9 favorites]


What if you are a contributor but in a very minimal or orthogonal way.

I think there are going to be an infinity of positive cases (and questions thereof) to deal with, such that I think it'd be more fruitful to come to an understanding of what doesn't fall under the umbrella of this change, or would be better posted to a different subsite.

As the moment it seems to me like Pepsi Blue would still be banned, personal involvement would put something under Projects, and everything else can be posted to MetaFilter?
posted by rhizome at 9:18 AM on May 11


Oh good! I do hear about stuff mainly because my friends are doing the stuff.
posted by amtho at 9:25 AM on May 11 [1 favorite]


If I think someone's misusing the site in a sketchy or bad-faith way, I'm just gonna delete their post and ban 'em and that's that.

Wait, can you say more about this?

To say the hopefully obvious thing, there's a bit of a chilling effect if the new policy is, "you can do this now, but if I think you got it wrong I'll ban you."
posted by meaty shoe puppet at 10:24 AM on May 11


Perhaps reword the self-link warning on the New Post page?
posted by jocelmeow at 10:48 AM on May 11


To say the hopefully obvious thing, there's a bit of a chilling effect if the new policy is, "you can do this now, but if I think you got it wrong I'll ban you."

Not "if I think you got it wrong"; rather "if I think you're nakedly abusing the guidelines and trying to skirt by on it". Established users making a misstep I'd rather talk it out with over email; randos spamming under a "well no it's my FRIEND's awesome SEO marketing cryptocurrency, see..." aren't gonna get much benefit of the doubt.

As I said in the post, we drew the lines fairly restrictively in the first place because of a felt need at the time to be sort of extra specific and deliberate about countering that kind of bad faith behavior. I'm past putting out that level of effort specifically and only for the sake of people who don't actually give the least shit about MetaFilter but want to argue over getting banned for blatant spamming. I'd rather put my energy toward folks participating on the site in good faith for the sake of participation.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:50 AM on May 11 [4 favorites]


Perhaps reword the self-link warning on the New Post page?

Yep, got that and some FAQ stuff to refresh this weekend.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:50 AM on May 11 [1 favorite]


This is a very good change!
posted by Greg Nog at 10:52 AM on May 11


IIRC, Sparks/Mael bros. were banned from here years ago for self-linking. Any chance they coulf be allowed to be 'MeFi's Own' again?

Disclaimers: 1) I have zero connection to Sparks. 2) Christi Haydon looks so much like a genetic Mael family member, I'm really spooked.
posted by zaixfeep at 10:58 AM on May 11 [1 favorite]


This sounds like a good change, thanks for rolling with the times.
posted by mordax at 11:22 AM on May 11 [1 favorite]


Can we have a convention of not FPP-ing things I need to sign up for an account on something to see? Even free sign-ups. I mean, sure, I can just move on to the next thing/nobody's forcing me, but it's very irritating.
posted by ctmf at 12:23 PM on May 11 [3 favorites]


I support this change.
posted by spitbull at 2:05 PM on May 11


I think this is a good change, but I think if it's going to be implemented well, the lengthy description of what will work and what won't needs to somehow be boiled down a bit. The whole thing about rules-lawyering is only going to be even more problematic if the rules are a desktop screen and half of text.

If this can be somehow expressed concisely and neatly, it will work gloriously and I welcome the entire concept. But I'd hate to see this concept be implemented and then have the already obviously overworked mod team end up with a bunch of bullshit as the result.

So, can we work as a community to find a way to word this in the best way possible? Because I want this to happen, but right now it's more like reading a TOS than a community policy.
posted by hippybear at 2:42 PM on May 11


Can we have a convention of not FPP-ing things I need to sign up for an account on something to see?

I thought this was already policy? I'm pretty sure the mods have, e.g., deleted posts because the content was behind a paywall.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:37 PM on May 11


Maybe this is my own crazy attempt to answer that what if, but I imagine the bright line not to cross is, “will you, potentially, have the opportunity to directly financially benefit from posting a thing on metafilter?”
Would expand this, generally under this new guideline, to "Will you or your friend..." Obvs stuff should be posted here because people think the community would like it, not to drive more eyeballs to a thing for your or your friend's $$ benefit.
I would not. Because then nobody could ever link to a cool thing that a friend is doing and making a living from (or trying to). If I post about my friend's cool art because I really love the art and think people would like to see it, she clearly has, potentially, the opportunity to directly financially benefit from me posting that. After all, more people seeing her art => more chance that someone will buy it.
Do you think that this means I should not post it? Even if I really want to show it to people because it's cool and I think some of y'all will like seeing it?
posted by Too-Ticky at 3:42 PM on May 11 [1 favorite]

Maybe this is my own crazy attempt to answer that what if, but I imagine the bright line not to cross is, “will you, potentially, have the opportunity to directly financially benefit from posting a thing on metafilter?”
Would expand this, generally under this new guideline, to "Will you or your friend..." Obvs stuff should be posted here because people think the community would like it, not to drive more eyeballs to a thing for your or your friend's $$ benefit.
I would not. Because then nobody could ever link to a cool thing that a friend is doing and making a living from (or trying to). If I post about my friend's cool art because I really love the art and think people would like to see it, she clearly has, potentially, the opportunity to directly financially benefit from me posting that. After all, more people seeing her art => more chance that someone will buy it.
Do you think that this means I should not post it? Even if I really want to show it to people because it's cool and I think some of y'all will like seeing it?
And this right here is the beginning of the discussion. Like, is this new policy going to end up with MetaFilter being a vehicle for promotion for commerce.
posted by hippybear at 4:01 PM on May 11 [3 favorites]


And to be more specific... I'm not talking about "this is my friend who does cool art"... I know cortex is talking about using mod intuition and discretion to tell what is kosher and what is not, but the first thing he mentions is rules-lawyering and I think unless we really get clear on what this new policy is, that's only going to lead to more headaches for the mods, not fewer.
posted by hippybear at 4:06 PM on May 11


re: rules lawyering --

I believe that was offered in the context of Cortex saying, "I'm not going to do it. At all." So if you're posting stuff that goes into a grey area (in the mod's judgment) and it gets deleted, and you then try to justify it via some complex interpretation of the guidelines, it's probably not going to go well for you.

How do I see it all actually playing out?

Somebody posts something (say, a friend's photo blog, or their band's most recent video, or a think piece on everything that's wrong with Season 8 of Game of Thrones) and nobody flags it, then all good, away we go. But if the content gets negatively flagged and the mod agrees with the flags, then the post gets deleted with a note along the lines of, "This just isn't up to standard" (or whatever). Correct me if I'm wrong but these kind of value judgments get made a lot around here ("a bit thin for an FPP" etc). It's certainly happened to me.

This to me is the spirit of allowing us to post FPP's that focus on the work of people we know. The key point being, the only dubious aspect of the work is that we know the person, but given the change in the rules, that's no longer dubious. So no problem.

But what if it's just some weird Wordpress blog called TexasMortgagePropeties that every now and then posts a cool alt-country song? I see this as being a very strange hill for anyone to die on.
posted by philip-random at 4:40 PM on May 11 [1 favorite]


I think I'd rather stick with the clear and hard-fast line of no linking to such things than allow MetaFilter slip even further into a "this is because I said so" sort of moderation policy. I've been feeling frustrated for a long while now with how mods are seeming to be more arbitrary about what they are deleting, and I can't see this new policy as doing anything than expanding on that.
posted by hippybear at 4:45 PM on May 11


I found this MetaTalk post through a link on a FPP saying that they were sharing under this new policy. It’s a really great FPP with a topic I wouldn’t have come across except for this change. I’m super happy!

It’s unfortunate that the nature of the internet is commercialization these days. I can understand the desire to get into a nitty gritty discussion and try to make fences around that. Ultimately, I don’t think that’s possible. We’re in the gig economy of late capitalism and finding things that aren’t even a little commoditized is a losing proposition.
posted by stoneweaver at 5:27 PM on May 11 [4 favorites]


Pepsi Blue gets us all in the end.
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 5:44 PM on May 11


Ok, yeah, but all my super-creative friends let their websites disappear. (Srsly... just try to find Lore, or the DFC, or Suspect Device. At least Chris's stuff is mostly up.)
posted by zompist at 5:48 PM on May 11 [3 favorites]


right now it's more like reading a TOS than a community policy.

If only....

I am really okay with "We're relaxing this part of our guidelines a little to open this door a crack but we're still keeping a close eye on it to see if it creates new uncomfortable edge cases" which I think is what we're looking at.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 6:43 PM on May 11 [4 favorites]


So, I brought up rules-lawyering specifically regarding spammers and similar assorted bad-faith chucklefucks: people for whom I have no patience and to whom I don't want us to keep devoting extra site rules and effort. It's always been a kind of quixotic effort to elaborate and clarify and make totally bulletproof a set of guidelines that people already operating in bad faith would somehow suddenly agree are fair and just after they've been caught pulling some obviously sketchy shit. I meant only to communicate that that is something I'm done burning extra energy on.

I had hoped this was clear in the post, but to reiterate: I'm not talking about coming down like a ton of bricks on an established member for misjudging the new guideline. Like I said in the final paragraph: this is a little experimental and we'll aim to deal with normal kinds of bumpiness and ambiguity via normal moderation means. That means stuff like deletions when needed and notes and exchanging email with folks if there's a "hey, so that approach seems not really okay, for future reference" sort of situation.

Talking about a change on the site in MetaTalk is always a balancing act. On the one hand I want to include as much detail as I can to provide (a) historical context for how we used to do it and why and (b) a sense of all the major points we needed to sort through with the new approach. On the other hand, I don't want to create an unnecessarily long wall of text. I try to keep myself in check on length (and the rest of the team often helps), and so e.g. this draft is a good bit shorter than where I started, but, to be clear, this post is an attempt to talk about the whole schmear including site history all in a go, not an attempt solely to convey the new guideline as concisely as possible. The actual change itself is a pretty small one; I'll be updating the posting page text and some FAQ entries to reflect that difference. In the mean time we can have MetaTalk as a place to hash out some of the details and talk about potential edge cases, which is what folks have been doing more or less and I appreciate that.

I also appreciate the kind motivation behind a couple different "I hope this doesn't create more work for the mods" type comments, and I guess I just want to underscore that we wouldn't be doing this if we expected it to be a big headache. We have, in fine MetaFilter tradition, sat on the idea for a looong time just to get around to a place where we felt convinced it was indeed the way to go, including not creating a weird mess for us to deal with.

I'm looking forward to seeing some new cool stuff in posts, is like 99% of where my head is at on this. I don't expect the remaining 1% to be too much trouble, as much as we are, mods and community alike, prone to picking at all the speculative details about any potential change to how MeFi operates.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:27 PM on May 11 [8 favorites]


This is a great change and seems fairly straightforward to me.
posted by wintersweet at 8:44 PM on May 11 [2 favorites]


I'm sad we're doing this, but it's not my site, and I can see that most people are happy with it, so my hope is that it goes well!
posted by escabeche at 9:35 PM on May 11 [1 favorite]


zompist: "Ok, yeah, but all my super-creative friends let their websites disappear. (Srsly... just try to find Lore, or the DFC, or Suspect Device. At least Chris's stuff is mostly up.)"

Man, I used to hit up Not My Desk every day.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:35 PM on May 11


Oh cool! Now I can make posts about things John Darnielle does. (I mean, it's kind of a one way friendship, in that I just listen to his albums a lot, and he's never heard of me, but still. I feel in my heart that we're friends.)

(Jokes.)

mostly.
posted by kaibutsu at 10:06 PM on May 11


I've been trying my hardest to get banhammered on twirra by shitposting of late - was last week's visit to post-Wall Berlin that got me in the mood. Ironically, the blue loosens up instead.
posted by hugbucket at 12:06 AM on May 12 [1 favorite]


I support this idea.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 12:14 AM on May 12 [2 favorites]


I support this idea.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 12:14 AM


flapjax at a quarter past midnight
posted by hippybear at 12:23 AM on May 12 [5 favorites]


And this right here is the beginning of the discussion. Like, is this new policy going to end up with MetaFilter being a vehicle for promotion for commerce.

This seems like a good idea and pretty straightforward. Unfortunately people aren't very straightforward.

I would think a good personal guideline would be;
"Would you be posting this if you didn't know the person in question?"
If not, don't.
That would solve most problems, but not really enforceable.
posted by bongo_x at 1:39 AM on May 12 [4 favorites]


I would think a good personal guideline would be;
"Would you be posting this if you didn't know the person in question?"
If not, don't.
That would solve most problems, but not really enforceable.


Up until now the policy at MF has been "do you know the person on question? If you do, then don't post."

It was entirely unproblematic. And enforceable.
posted by hippybear at 1:45 AM on May 12


At last! One of my many close friends can finally post a link to woefullyneglected.com!

Seriously, this is good. I know I haven’t posted in a while, but the no friends rule has kept me from making caving posts in the past because I may have known some in an article about a major discovery or expedition.
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:17 AM on May 12 [2 favorites]


Devils Rancher: I'm always happy to see your user name appear in the timeline.
posted by hippybear at 6:20 AM on May 12 [1 favorite]


So the rule was in place because, basically, people are not always great at applying the "will this make a good post" filter for stuff by people close to them (and there are a bunch of other possible motives for posting that are definitely not "this will make a good post".) We still only want good posts, but the way the rule was structured, it was ruling out a whole bunch of potentially very good posts, and that category was getting bigger and bigger as the social media landscape brought more people interested in a thing into something that more closely resembled friendship than was possible previously.

So we're willing to give people a shot at judging whether something made by someone they know personally will make a good post. If it doesn't, we'll delete it. If people abuse the leeway, we'll deal with it. But hopefully the result is we get a bunch of good posts we couldn't get previously.

(This is basically what Josh said in the post, just restating because the focus seems to be slipping.)
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 7:10 AM on May 12 [4 favorites]


I think this is fine. To me it's similar to Projects, where MeFite A posts a thing they did and MeFite B makes a FPP out of it because they are a fan of A's work and 'know' them from being on this site.
posted by kimberussell at 7:42 AM on May 12 [2 favorites]


I think this is an unalloyed Good, and have faith that the kinks will be worked out quickly. Thanks for this.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 8:17 AM on May 12 [4 favorites]


Up until now the policy at MF has been "do you know the person on question? If you do, then don't post."

It was entirely unproblematic. And enforceable.


I disagree that it was enforceable. If it was super egregious then sure it would stand out and get slapped down, much like I think Pepsi blue / obviously self or friend promoting posts still will.

I'm reminded of "Now find the umbrella!" because I really doubt, short of self policing or outright self admission, that you'd be able to figure out that my post mentioned above was actually about my brother in law.
posted by RolandOfEld at 3:51 PM on May 12


Oh God. And I just realized that by mentioning the Umbrella thing I kinda sorta Godwin-ed but with Scott Adams instead of Hitler Law myself into a corner. Putting the meta back into metafilter one Metatalks comment at a time.
posted by RolandOfEld at 3:55 PM on May 12


*rounds up pitchforks and torches and tries to rally a march on Roland's house*
posted by hippybear at 4:17 PM on May 12


If I know someone only through MetaFilter and want to post their band site, where they sell their music, is that allowed?
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 7:39 PM on May 12


ಠ_ಠ
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 7:45 PM on May 12 [2 favorites]


Serious question. It just eliminates the Projects step.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 8:57 PM on May 12


I think linking to a remarkably good album or song that's free to listen to is an okay post; if it's that from someone you happen to know, that's still okay in my mind in principle. People have certainly made posts about rad music on e.g. bandcamp in the past and will in the future; I have myself once or twice at least. If I (a) posted about music more and (b) knew more non-MeFi musicians personally, I might have been in the position of having to hold off on a post or two previously.

But it's also a good example of territory where we need people to really honestly assess the personal subjectivity involved in the decision to post.

It goes without saying I think (but I'll reiterate regardless) that "I should post this because it'll help my friend's band" isn't a good basis for a post, and I don't think that's what you're asking about at all. Nobody wants to be an accessory to the next Pretty Flowers.

But there's that second step of looking hard at whether you'd be posting about this if this person wasn't your friend. Not because their stuff isn't good, but because the distinction between "yeah, I guess it's pretty good" and "holy shit I should post this to MetaFilter" is an important one that needs to be maintained. Part of us being willing to make this change to the posting guidelines is that we're gonna rely on folks to be self-aware about not letting a personal relationship blur that distinction.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:53 PM on May 12 [3 favorites]


Understood, thanks.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 10:07 PM on May 12


I think the ability to be honest with oneself about whether a friend's band is worth posting to MetaFilter is a solid measure of adult maturity.
posted by hippybear at 10:39 PM on May 12 [4 favorites]


cortex: whether you'd be posting about this if this person wasn't your friend

Now this is a very clear distinction in my mind. This really clears it all up for me. I think it needs to be stated in the guidelines.
posted by Too-Ticky at 11:57 PM on May 12 [8 favorites]


Turns out the band I was thinking of already made it to the blue in 2015. There's been more output since then…
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 12:27 AM on May 13 [1 favorite]


I think this is a good change and will lead to more good FPPs. It may also lead to a few bad posts that the Mods will smite, and will also lead to a small number of questionable posts which the Mods can work out with the posters if they're noticed/flagged.

On the whole, this will bring more good than bad.
posted by wenestvedt at 6:01 AM on May 13


The radio button in the new post still threatens the banhammer for friend links fyi fwiw
posted by hugbucket at 6:53 AM on May 13 [1 favorite]


Yep, still finalizing some text changes.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:15 AM on May 13 [1 favorite]


Of which, done! The new post page has updated language on both the default "Note: " everyone always sees, and the additional first-time-poster checkbox warning that reiterates the whole "you understand not to not self-link, right?" warning. The friend-linking proscription is gone and I rewrote the text a little bit to keep it feeling up to date.

We've also updated a few FAQ entries that talked about friend-linking in the context of self-linking, likewise removing the friend-linking proscription and tweaking some of the language in the process. The main one there is the entry about self-linking, to which I've added for now at least an addendum about this specific change and a link to the thread here.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:33 AM on May 13


Dear Mr. Cortex,

As a contributing member of the Metafilter community I like to keep an eagle-like eye on the administrative shenanigans that rule and determine the vibe of the site, ready at the slightest deviation to pounce like the vitriolic and unpredictable terciopelo at any missteps that might lead to the degeneration of the strict, wholesome, beneficent rules that shape and maintain the general excellence of this community weblog that so many of us know, and love.

I would like to inform you and your moderator cohort that in the main I have been overwhelmingly satisfied with your administration and overseeing of this site and its community. In fact, were it possible to recommend your labors for commendation from some group concerned with - you know, this stuff - I would do so post-haste. As there is not, at least to the best of my wholly superficial and lackadaisical knowledge, please be advised that should we find ourselves at some point in the future in the same establishment that provides refreshments of any sort and your should find your cup empty, (and this applies as well to any of the moderator co-hort), I would be honored if you would let me provide for its replenishment!

To paraphrase: fucking right on man! Keep up the good work!
posted by From Bklyn at 12:49 AM on May 14 [9 favorites]


I appreciate this change for the reasons cortex and r_n went into. I have multiple times refrained from posting about something because it was by someone I at least kinda know. For me the process of getting interested in a topic and getting at least mildly socially connected with the other people interested in and making stuff about that topic are usually intertwined. So I dig this loosening and hope it helps us all find and rejoice in more cool web finds.
posted by brainwane at 7:30 AM on May 14 [3 favorites]


This feels like a good change. You sometimes see people being nervous about linking relevant friends' stuff in the comments, which I imagine is something we'd actually want to encourage.
posted by lucidium at 12:45 PM on May 14 [3 favorites]


Hmmm. I hadn't spent a lot of time thinking about this in the context of Metafilter self links but I do find compelling the argument that the way many people engage with content on the web is different today than it was in the early 2000s, and the guidelines should reflect that.

On an unrelated note, check out this cool thing I mad... NO CARRIER
posted by Justinian at 2:47 PM on May 14 [2 favorites]


I can see the "quid pro quo" thing being a problem - even a matter of routine for some people who'll partner up to ensure one another's stuff always gets a Front Page Post. That said, it should be reasonably simple for the mods to spot a pattern at work in cases like that and crack down accordingly.
posted by Paul Slade at 6:28 AM on May 16


Sorry to see the old rule go.
posted by michaelh at 12:22 PM on May 19


Why, exactly?
posted by Chrysostom at 11:36 AM on May 20


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